The Great Era: Beginnings

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Chapter 1

It was dawn. The village of Casttwill once again has begun their trade festival, here once every autumn. The market was filled with the aroma of the fruits from the village as well as goods from other, faraway towns and legendary cities. Merchants sold many amazing valuables such as gold and silver, but the most valuable items almost always come from the well-reputed Julius, son of Adreian, the descendant of great leaders (of what Adreian says). One of the rarest things he has ever put up for sale was a piece of the ancient Glass of Priests, an artifact destroyed many years ago, before the time of The Great Empire. It was sold, however, to the Storyteller, an old man with mysterious identity and wealth.

There were also other goods, such as the needed steel tools, made only in industrial cities such as Horrus, and soothing herb medicine, found in the forests of Tecullia, also called the Forbidden Forest of its history in the ages. The medicine was reputed to be of great help, healing even the most ill. This led to the medicine being of high price, since large cities were forbidden to sell it. In fact, to enter in the Forbidden Forest is illegal, so merchants can only scrape the bits on the outskirts.

As usual, the market was bustling with people, except with much more foreigners and merchants who came here to sell and visit. Casttwill was no ordinary village. It was at least 200 Achien metrics (about 500 km in our terms) from the nearest town, and has no highways even close to leading to Casttwill, but it was bustling with people in every festival because of the goods that are sold there in that time, and of course, its famous fruits, known in all the peoples of its sweetness. It was almost always sold at a high price because one Casttwillan tree can only bear at most 10 fruits. Of course, there is the common Twillberries that originate in Casttwill but can be planted everywhere else.

Not only do the adults and merchants love the festival because of the wealth and company that they earn, the children love it too, because every year, some time in the festival, the Storyteller will come and tell stories of their history. It may be as short as a poem, or it may be as long as a trilogy that lasts for months (the children always ask the Storyteller to continue his stories when he’s done). The marvelous and life-like storytelling brings many children to listen to his stories. When the Storyteller is old, he will pass the job on to his descendant of his choosing. It has gone on for generations, but no one knew where the Storyteller lived.

This year, the Storyteller came late. It is one month after the festival, and the Storyteller is still not here. Children look eager on the single road that leads to Casttwill, but soon many left. Except for one, Toqum. This day he waited at the road, and he decided it will be his last. He waited, but no one was to be seen. At sunset, just before he decided to give up and eat his supper, he saw a figure It was cloaked with the familiar cloak of the Storyteller, weathered and worn, along with the telltale symbol of the Eye of Spirits etched into the tunic.

“Come, look!” Toqum cried. The children immediately rushed out of their tiny dwellings, no higher than three stories, and saw the figure. All of them gave a cry of joy and rushed to embrace the figure. However, when they came close, they found this wasn’t the old Storyteller. His face was fair and smooth, unlike the Storyteller whose face was drooped and filled with age. His garments were almost new, and beneath his tunic, the children could see a hint of armor. Finally, the figure was wearing light forester boots, unused and even unseen since the fall of the Great Empire.

“Hello, children,” the figure, now clearly a young man, began, “I’m the son of the Storyteller. My father has passed away in his sleep, and he gave me this job and cloak to wear. I know the route to your village and I know all the stories of old that my father told me, but I came late because I have a story that no one other person other than Casttwillans should hear. It is the last and most important story my father told me, and in his deathbed, he made me swear I will not tell this to any outsiders, or else I shall not be his son and heir.”

“What story is this, then?” Toqum asked.

The new Storyteller explained, “This is the history of your village and the history of the greatest king ever lived, Avalel. Now, tell the whole village to come and listen.”

When the whole village was assembled together on the village square, an adult suddenly asked, “If I’m not mistaken, you’re talking about the legendary king Av’lel. Why did you pronounce it ‘Avalel’?”

The Storyteller replied, “Avalel was the original pronunciation. However, when the New Dialect was introduced, they shortened it to Av’lel. Now, may I begin?” He asked for a basket of Twillberries (they have a lot of water content, so the Storyteller is using it as a way of quenching thirst) and he began his story.

“Casttwill and its people have a long history. The old Casttwill (the villagers assumed the name; in fact, all limited records of the old “Casttwill” does not mention the name of it) was founded between 950-1000 years after the birth of the Great Empire. It began as a small settlement of foresters, and it was a quiet, unknown settlement. Decades later, for some reason, the settlement was abandoned, until the discovery of the Casttwillian fruits by some explorers, which made it to a bustling trade center. That didn’t last long though. War in the final 3 centuries of the Great Empire brought the center to ruins, and its people were forced to migrate, taking the fruit seeds with them to the present-day Casttwill, a peaceful village in the mountains with soil good enough to grow the seeds, continuing the tradition of trade and fruits.”

“That’s it?” Someone asked.

“I didn’t say where the old Casttwill was. In fact, the old Casttwill was in the center of the Forbidden Forest, near the ancient Pillars of Mages. Naturally, you should know the Forbidden Forest is close to the old capital of the Great Empire, now City of the Wise, Achien. In fact, the old Casttwill was the place where Avalel and his queen Kavlina were raised.”

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