As the children parted at the end of the day, Faresoenn walked alongside Avalel in the cool breeze, the wind gently touching their faces, with the hut in sight.
“Hey, dad,” Avalel began, “I wonder how can I prepare myself for the test. What is it about anyways?”
“Well, I guess you’ll need to first understand the powers of the sword. You must know yourself and train yourself to get used to the sword. I am afraid many people will soon come to claim the sword and maybe even forcefully wrest it away from your grasp. That’s why you should continue your training.”
“But I can’t prepare myself well with only slashing at trees. They are unmoving. I need a training partner so I can apply the skills in case of a real duel.”
“Well, then you must find one, whoever you may think is fitting.”
“I think I am capable,” a voice called. Spinning around, Faresoenn and Avalel found Kavlina landing softly on the grass with a quiet thud.
“Aren’t you a sneaky little fellow,” Faresoenn chuckled and turned to Avalel, “There you have it, your training partner. I believe both of you can become great foresters with enough training, maybe even win the Tournament in a few months.”
“Us?” Avalel cried, “We’re only kids! There’s no way we can defeat those hulking beasts in the Tournament!”
“I’m confident,” Kavlina proudly said, “You have the Anapadeia, Avalel. It would be a surprise if we lost with such a legendary weapon! Also, it was you who wanted to be the best of all who once wielded the Anapadeia, and I think the Tournament is a super great start.”
“I think we got things settled,” Faresoenn replied, “You two fellows will train together for the Tournament, and I believe you, Avalel, should begin by mastering the sword’s power of morphing. The time’s getting pretty late. I expect to see you two training early next morning?”
“Yes, sir!” they both cried, as Kavlina darted back into the forest and Avalel went back to his hut with Faresoenn.
Faresoenn woke up, rudely awaken by a songbird nearby. “Well, don’t they know some manners,” he muttered as he lazily yawned, clearly not in the mood of waking up.
“News, please,” he called as the screen responded by opening the day’s live news report (It’s quite primitive, actually. Some Achien citizens have access to telepathic control of their house). He was just in time for The War Chapter, a section where they report updates on the civil war. Faresoenn thought it was propaganda, but what came out was largely surprising. The reporter calmly announced the chaotic power struggle following the death of Stasibel has almost ended with the two main powers signing an agreement. The two powers agreed to merge together with the aim of solidifying power within the government. They agreed to abolish the monarchy with a Common Leader as its replacement, balanced in power by a new senate. As the Common Leader walked up to make his first speech, Faresoenn choked on his morning cup of warm water. It was Nasition! He blinked, fearing for mistake, but it was purely unmistakable for the partner who had worked with him for years. But how?
“Citizens of Achien! I am thankful that with your support, this power struggle has come to an end!” Nasition announced. A round of cheering came from the audience. “I am obliged to serve this country from now on, and I will lead the Achien Empire to prosperity! However, there are many threats surrounding our country, and I must admit our previous government has done little to stop it. We have already lost all our territories in the planet Vilrin, and the last few strongholds in the planet Erthuran are under siege, with a blockade stopping any evacuations. But fear not! I will use any measure to lift the siege, even if it means mobilizing the entire Achien fleet!” A loud cry of cheering. “We must also defend the Homelands. Ever since the rebels of Rithul took the pass of Elethien eight years ago, our capital is under threat. A counterattack can be done through the Tarevuen, but for long we have been superstitious of the region and dared not to enter. I will eliminate that superstition today!” Gasps from the crowd emerged as humanoid drones escalated to the podium.
“The new H-1, my proud people! They are drones remotely controlled far away so there will be no human casualties! I have hired the skillful workers of the Staegond race to produce these H-1s and I assure you, the Tarevuen will no longer be the Cursed Forest, but the Blessed Forest! Although their numbers are few, more are in production! In mere months they can revolutionize this war! With your help, fellow citizens, together we can change the world!” Shouts of hurrahs from the people erupted as Nasition stepped down the podium, but Faresoenn remained in shock. An attack of the Tarevuen in months! He must tell the Wise One. Rushing out of the hut, he found out many foresters had also watched that broadcast and everyone’s faces are filled with horror. Just then, Avalel leapt into his arms with Kavlina jogging behind.
“Dad! Look what I can do now!” he cried. With motions of his hand, the Anapadeia wrapped around his hands and morphed into two gauntlets, a blade protruding from each.
“You’ll need that,” Faresoenn sighed, “I’m afraid the Forest will soon be under attack.”
Just then, a loud horn sounded. The Wise One was about to give an announcement! Every forester gathered in the square, awaiting for news. When the Wise One strode out in full dress, all stood up from their seats.
“All foresters!” he announced, “I’m afraid our time in hiding is over. Achien is about to march its troops into the Tarevuen. Every forester must take up arms and prepare for an invasion as if this was the final stand. My assistants will soon accept any requests for weapons, and we will try our best to procure them. Faresoenn, I believe you have something to say.” Faresoenn solemnly walked up the podium along with Avalel.
“Foresters, just yesterday Avalel has discovered something that can be of great help. I present to you the Anapadeia!” Gasps and shocked faces came from the audience. Even the Wise One showed signs of surprise. “How can this happen, my son?” he demanded.
“That is not the point. The point is, the Anapadeia is a legendary weapon that can only be wielded by Avalel. I suggest along with the remobilization of the people, the Tournament must start early to assist Avalel applying his skills to a real fight. Anyone disagree?” A silence fell across the crowd. “Then so be it.”
In the days later, sentry posts were built along with preparing the Tournament arena. By the time of the Tournament, the arena was repaired to its full glory - energy barriers set up, stands cleaned, arena ground repaired. The foresters also put in extra time in their training, with regular practice duels set up by the Council of Defense (which was also newly established). Avalel now worked himself so hard it was normal that he would return to the hut well after dark with beads of sweat shining in the moonlight. Faresoenn wanted Avalel to practice in the clearing for better view, and so he did. The Anapadeia danced in his hands, morphing into many forms. Sometimes daggers, sometimes gauntlets, sometimes a shield, its form constantly changed, and it greatly tired Avalel out, for he was only a child, and couldn’t bear with prolonged contact with this tremendous power. However, the Anapadeia seemed to adapt to Avalel too, dimming the light of the Arachma.
Night. A scout entered the Paladeia with soft steps. A cloaked figure stands menacingly in front of him.
“Your Greatness,” he whispered. The figure turned around. Removing the cloak, the face of Nasition can be clearly shown.
“Yes, but the foresters are prepared.”
“I have expected that. Advance still and expect retaliation by the foresters. Then, you’ll know what to do.”
“Yes, Your Greatness. Your enemies will be annihilated. All hail the Klarodeis!”