“Summer’s Fall Is Winter’s Spring.”
After hearing those words spoken by a cold and bodiless voice, I awoke by myself in the horse drawn-carriage.
I did not know who was driving it, where we were, or where we were going. I only knew that we were moving down a road.
A very bumpy road at that.
I stretched and took in an unfortunate whiff of the air.
I could smell the horse dung that must have been strewn all over the road we were travelling down.
I tried my hardest to remember who had brought me here, or what I was doing, but I couldn’t.
Any memories of the life I had lived up until this very moment were not in my memory.
There were only two things I remembered,
The first was that I was a human being.
The second thing was an image.
A single white rose, withering, losing its petals, as snow started to fall from the sky.
That image, it bothered me greatly.
It gave off an aura of importance, as though there was something I needed to do, and a specific amount of time I had to do it by.
I slowly stood up in the carriage, though I had to grip the seat for balance, and moved towards the front, where I was sure a driver must have been sitting.
“Hello?” I asked, warily.
“Oh wonderful, finally awake are we?” The driver asked.
She was a short and plump old lady with a warm smile upon her face.
I hadn’t noticed it from where I was in the carriage, but looking at the driver sitting there outside, I noticed that we were in a very forested area with a lush treescape.
“I was just…” I felt embarrassed asking, as I’d forgotten.
“I was just wondering, who exactly did I say I was?”
“Oh dear…” The old woman looked down as the horses slowed a bit.
“I’m sorry young human, but I simply can’t remember the names of everyone I give a ride to…”
“Well, surely you must at least have asked my name when I was brought on board this carriage…” I tried to reason.
“I’m sorry young human.” The old woman said sadly again. “But you were not the one who asked for this carriage ride. It was a direct order from Slyborn Palace. I was to drive the sleeping human male in this carriage to Dawnshire posthaste.”
I had only thought I was imagining it but, I felt it necessary to ask anyway.
“You keep referring to me as a human…” I said.
“You are a human, ain’t you?” The short old woman replied.
“W-well yes...but, aren’t you also a human?”
“Now that’s a laugh.” The short stubby woman gave a laugh. “No young human, I’m a halfling! Look at these feet!”
She pointed to her short stubby bare feet, and the very first thing I noticed was how hairy they were.
Far too harry to be any human foot, but they still...looked human…
“We halflings get to live about as long as 150 years compared to them 70 and 80 you humans can pull up.” The woman boasted. “Me myself, I’m finally nearing my 120th birthday.”
“120th?” I asked in disbelief. “Twelve whole decades?”
“And hopefully another twelve if the Seasons are kind enough…” The old woman laughed.
I wasn’t sure if that old woman’s reveal as a halfling had anything to do with it, but a very troubling thought came back to me.
Where I came from, wherever I had lived prior to this carriage ride, in that place….Halflings were nothing more than a myth.
“Um...are you really a halfling?” I felt the need to ask. “I always thought that halflings weren’t real.”
“Well if I ain’t real than who’s driven the carriage you’re in?”
“Point taken.” I gave a small, nervous laugh. “I guess I’m just a little...out of sorts.”
“I would be too if I was being summoned to a place like Dawnshire by the Slyborn Palace itself.” The halfling woman empathised with me.
“They’re a very powerful bunch, those residing in that Palace, and to be summoned by them must mean a matter of great importance.”
“But, after it’s over I’ll be able to go back home to wherever I’ve been summoned from, right?” I asked.
The halfling woman looked at me quizzically.
“That certainly depends on where you came from, young human. Which side of the Savage Tides does this place reside upon?”
“What are the Savage Tides?” I asked, again incredibly embarrassed about my situation.
The halfling gasped.
“The Savage Tides!” She exclaimed. “The waters that separate the four great continents, each named the Season that created them! For instance, right now, we’re in Spring, located on the Eastern end on the Savage Tides. Going in a clockwise formation, Summer is located in the South, Fall is located in the West, and up in the North is Winter! So, which one is your home kingdom located in?”
“Well…” I tried explaining. “Like I said before, I don’t remember anything, so for all I know, Dawnshire is my home kingdom.”“Oh, I highly doubt your home city is Dawnshire. On account of you being a human and all.” The old halfling woman said.
“But if the Slyborn residents want you, it certainly ain’t my place to question them. You should get some rest, young human. We’ll be arriving in Dawnshire soon. A beautiful town, you’ll love it.”
Though it pained me that I knew practically nothing about my current situation, I took the old halfling woman’s advice.
I rested back down on a seat and looked up towards the canvas roof of the carriage.
I wished I could recall my name, but it hadn’t come back to me yet.
I felt around my clothes and soon realized that I was dressed in rags.
Was I supposed to be some sort of prisoner or beggar of sorts?
I gave a sigh. I knew I had a life somewhere else, begging for me to live it, so why was I here? Who, or what, had brought me into this world?
“Summer’s Fall is Winter’s Spring.” I repeated to myself quietly.
“What does it mean?”
Once passed the large stone walls that surrounded Dawnshire, I looked outside of the carriage again, and my eyes widened while my jaw dropped. The streets were crowded with people, all cheerful and joyous. Shop vendors around every corner. The sky was clear and blue right now, but the puddles on the cobblestone street that children’s feet were splashing in indicated that a heavy rainfall had just occurred in this area not too long ago.
“Here we are…” The old woman halfling said. “This is Dawnshire. The capital city of Vavecan, and home of the Slyborn Palace, where the royal family and all their most trusted advisors and closest allies reside.”
“And they’re the ones that asked you to bring me here?” I asked.
The halfling nodded. “Now the street we’re on right now is called Sun Road. It’s a direct street from the western gate to Slyborn Palace, on the eastern side of town. This road passes through several different plazas on its way to the palace, which is why this area seems so crowded, even for a capital city.”
“Uh-huh.” I nodded, listening as I got stares from both children and adults alike.
“Mommy?” A son tugged on his mother’s dress. “Who’s that in the carriage? I’ve never seen him before...”
“That’s a human child.” The mother said, ushering her son away. “You must never trust anyone who looks like that person.”
“That’s rude…” I said, under my breath.
The halfling woman sighed. “It’s a well founded distrust I’m afraid.” She said.
“Most of the citizens here are refugees from border cities of Vavecan, that have been terrorized by bandits from the human run city-state of Autaca. A terrible shame really.”
“That’s terrible…” I said. “I had no idea…”
“Poor thing, you really don’t have a clue about who you are, do you?” The halfling asked, finally taking my unfortunate situation seriously. “You poor young human...and to be dragged here of all places, where the common folk distrust your entire race…At the behest of the Slyborn Palace no less...I must say, I do not envy your situation.”
“Look!” A young girl said as she pointed at me while shouting to her parents.
“I told you! I told you! It’s human! A human is being carted towards the Palace!”
“By Spring, you’re right!” The mother gasped, almost in horror.
“They’re saying he was requested by Slyborn Palace specifically!” The girl continued. “They wanted him here right away!”
“Oh for Spring’s sake.” The father said as he held his wife and grasped his daughter’s hand. “I’ll bet this is another one of her doings…”
“Who’s he talking about?” I asked the carriage driver.
“I’m sure I don’t know.” The old halfling woman replied. “If you’ve been looking around, I’m sure you’ll have noticed that halflings aren’t a common sight in this city. Though, I suppose we’re more common than humans are.” She gave a small chuckle.
As we approached Slyborn Palace, I realized just how grandiose it really was.
Ten thin, square towers formed a protective barrier all around the palace and were connected by giant, thin walls made of red stone.
Wide windows were scattered here and there across the walls in an asymmetric pattern, along with symmetric crenelations for archers and artillery.
A great gate with enormous wooden doors, a drawbridge, and hot oil pots offered a safe home to all those in need in the large city that was Dawnshire, and it’s the only way in, at least without taking down the palace walls.
Lush fields of crops surround the palace walls and provided the inhabitants with food all year round. This palace had clearly stood the test of time and despite clearly knowing some very rough times, the palace still stood and looked like it would do so for many years to come.
The carriage stopped in the castle’s courtyard, and I was helped out of the vehicle by a maid and a butler, both of whom gave off a distinct vibe of distrust towards me.
“You are human?” The butler’s eyes squinted.
“I am a human.” I nodded, nervously. Both the butler and maid looked very much like what I would expect some sort of demon or devil to look like.“Of course she wanted a human.” The butler rolled his distrusting eyes at the maid.
“Of course.” The maid repeated.
“Um…” I felt almost rude asking. “Excuse me but...who exactly is it that asked me here? And are you sure they asked me here specifically?”
“Unfortunately, we are quite sure she asked for you specifically.” The maid gave an almost depressed sigh.
“Umm…” I began again. “Again, who?”
“Mastery, Expertise, that will be enough of your badgering our friendly guest.” A very regal looking man with long flowing brown hair and eyes of light green like a forest, with ears pointier than needles, and skin as fair as snow walked up to me and gave a bow.
“I apologize for our servants’ behavior, young human.” He said. “My name is Liccard. I am what is known as an Eladrin. I am the chief advisor to the royal family of all things of magical or otherworldly natures. In addition, I also teach swordsmanship to those who wish to learn. I humbly welcome you to our home.”
“I…” I was happy that someone was finally being friendly to me again. “I’m sorry, but what is going on? I’m afraid I can’t recall anything from before my carriage ride.”
“I’ll explain on the way to the room you will be staying in for the time being.” Liccard said as he motioned for me to follow him.
I waved goodbye to the driver of the carriage as she left, and followed Liccard inside the palace building.
“Mastery.” Liccard said as the doors closed.
“Yes, sir?” The butler asked.
Liccard handed him a piece of paper. “Please retrieve the objects on this list from my study and bring them to me. I’ll be talking with our guest in his room by the time you are done gathering them.”
“Of course, sir.” The butler nodded as he left towards the lower left wing of the palace.
“Expertise…” Liccard stated.
“Y-yes, sir?” the maid asked, clearly not expecting to be addressed for anything.
“Please go fetch you know who and tell her that the human has finally arrived.”
“Yes sir.” The maid hurried off towards the upper left wing.
“Now…” Liccard turned to me and gave me a smile. “Follow me, and we’ll head to your room?”
“Was that a question?” I asked.
“Well, for now…” Liccard admitted. “You are a guest here, so the most I can do is heavily suggest a course of action. I’m sure you must have plenty of questions yourself though.”
Liccard squinted his eyes and talked to me with a serious expression.
“Being an amnesiac and all.”
My eyes widened. Finally, there was someone who was aware of my situation.
I let him lead me to what he kept insisting was my room, even though it had all the makings of a room for at least three people, with a covered queen sized bed up near one wall, and a simple double bed near another.
“Are you sure that this is the room I’ll be staying in?” I asked. “As in just me?”
“Yep.” Liccard nodded. He got an almost playful grin on his face. “For now anyway.”
He sat me down on the bed and looked me in the eyes.
“Now, let’s talk about something serious.” He said. “You, young human, have lost most of your memory. I can see it in your eyes. Please tell me, what you do remember, if anything.”
“Well…” I thought long and hard. “I know I’m a human...And I remember a strange picture that went along with some weird words.”
“Words…” Liccard repeated as he stared intently at me. “Could you repeat these words?”
“Summer’s Fall is Winter’s Spring.” I repeated. “And the picture was of a solitary white rose that wilted as the snow began to fall upon it.”
“If that’s true…” Liccards’ cosmic and pupil-less green eyes squinted further. “Then undoubtedly it was some sort of cultist or priest that caused your current condition. For all four Seasons’ names to be mentioned in that message, and in such a manner...This has the clergy written all over it.”
“Becasue of the Seasons being worshipped like gods?” I asked.
“I see you’ve been paying at least a little bit of attention.” Liccard smiled. “Tell me young human, what is your name? Do you at least remember that much?”
I shook my head.
“I know I had one, but I can’t remember what it-”
“Alcott Sumeria.” Liccard said with his eyes closed as he touched my forehead with his index finger. “That is your name, though I don’t know exactly how long you will be keeping it.”
Before I could ask him what he meant, he said something more interesting.
“It appears someone has sealed off most of your memories with a very powerful curse.”
“Can you fix it?” I asked.
“I am...unsure…” Liccard said as Mastery returned with a plethora of books.
“Thank you, Mastery.” Liccard motioned for the devil-looking butler to leave.
He nodded and did as he was told. “Of course sir.” He said as he left the room.
Liccard turned back to me.
“These are all the books you could want on the history and customs of our world. I suggest you spend your free time reading them, We wouldn’t want you seeming even more suspicious to the commonfolk. It would break Lady Jensys’s heart if she had to say goodbye to her human so soon after meeting him.”
“Is Jensys the one who asked for me?” I asked. “And who is Jensys anyway?”
“I am the one who summoned you here.” A very pleasant and comforting voice announced from the doorway.
I looked and saw a young, tall and beautiful woman who by all accounts appeared to be my age standing next to Expertise. The woman had long black hair in a ponytail resting on her left shoulder, beautiful light green eyes, and a rather sizable bust. Looking at her ears, I noticed a very sharp point in them.
“That is Lady Jensys.” Liccard sighed. “She is a half-elf, and has a bit of a-”
“I told you, Liccard, I prefer half-human.” Jensys walked up to the bed and sat on the other side of me.
“A fondness for humans.” Liccard sighed as he finished his sentence.
For a half-human as she put it, Jensys certainly looked quite a lot more like an elf.
Jensys turned to me and looked to me with eyes that gave off a rather hungry vibe.
“Hello, Alcott Sumeria.” She smiled as she rested her head in her hands and stared into my eyes as she lay on her stomach and began kicking her feet as though she was gossiping with some other girl about classmates at her school.
“My name is Jensys Slyborn. I’m the second princess of Vavecan, and you...”
She lifted her torso up by pushing down on the bed with her hands, and moved her very well endowed chest closer to me until our faces were just about six inches apart from each other.
“You are my fiancee.”