Occasionally people from the town would watch Nypre training. It was just like when they watched him and Deren train with the local sword master. The difference here was Nypre was alone, so if he messed something up they could all see it. Thankfully he picked it up quickly and only made a few mistakes.
“Today we’ll be doing something different. You seem to have mastered using E to control things, but you’re still not ready to begin your journey as a mage.” Wonik instructed one day when there were only a few kids watching.
“I’m ready to start my journey now! Bring it on!” Nypre laughed overconfidently to put on a show for his spectators. Wonik just let out a heavy sigh. His maturity was still that of a teenage boy. Deren was no different. As if inspired by Nypre’s own progress he seemed more motivated and grew in skill quickly, surpassing that of the other students, even to the point of winning in duels against the sword master. Wonik insisted that Deren keep Nypre trained with the sword. This often resulted in Deren challenging Nypre to a duel in which Deren was always the victor. Nypre only stood a chance if he resorted to using magic. Wonik encouraged these play fights between them as it was great training for both of them. Deren was learning about magic and more importantly how to combat it, while Nypre was learning how to use his own wind magic to trip and escape opponents. She was also happy to see the two getting along so well. These fights between them were always filled with laughter.
“You said you had something important to teach me?′ Nypre snapped his mother from her thoughts.
“Remember when you first learned magic I talked about the sub element of lightning? To use lightning you must master creation magic. It is considerably more difficult as it involves summoning energy directly from the layer of air,” Wonik explained.
Nypre nodded trying to follow along the best he could. He knew of the layer of air, a place where all wind magic originated. The layer existed high above the clouds where the wind blew freely and lightning would dance. The world was composed of a layer for each element, along with the central layer where they collided.
“The use of creation magic requires intense visualization. You must see the lightning in your mind for E or feel it in your body and soul for Dorei and Koretops. As you are still new you are only capable of E. Picture in your mind a lightning strike. The difference is the lightning will discharge from you instead of from the sky. Try it on that rock there.” Wonik told him, pointing to a small rock which was nestled within the grass.
“I’ve got this. Check out the great Nypre!” Nypre waved to the kids. Among them he saw Deren grinning at him. He must have finished his sword class already. Nypre was immediately overwhelmed with embarrassment. Nypre closed his eyes. He did his best to push away the thoughts of his brother making fun of him. Magic required focus. He held out his hands in front of him like he would to control the wind. Magic often required hand movements to control. It was a weakness that Wonik was always pointing out. Should your arms be pinned, control over magic would be impossible. He pictured in his head his target. Even though his eyes were closed he could still see it in his mind. Energy tingled from his forehead as he visualized lightning, the destructive force of air. The kids gasped anticipating his success.
“Wonik-E!” He shouted marvelously. Nypre opened his eyes just in time as he felt the small bolt of lightning shoot from his fingertips. In a flash the lightning was gone leaving the stone singed from his power. He turned to the kids and Deren expecting applause. The kids were not focused on him, but instead gawked at something behind him. Deren had a serious look on his face. His hands were on the hilt of his sword in an intimidating manner. Nypre quickly turned around and saw a cloaked figure behind him. With a rush of wind Wonik quickly positioned herself between Nypre and the figure.
“Impressive,” the man spoke. He lowered his hood revealing a plain face with blue eyes and short blonde hair. “Always amazing to see a mage in the early chapters of their life,” he said with a friendly smile. “I mean no harm. I’m just passing through the territory and was planning to stop here for the night. I don’t normally see this kind of welcoming in the towns I visit. Was I expected?” There was no answer. Despite his friendly exterior Wonik’s glare only darkened. Nypre felt the air fall flat in the silence. It wasn’t the first time he felt the wind change based on his mother’s mood.
“We get travelers all the time here,” Nypre broke the uncomfortable silence. “There’s nothing wrong with you staying here.”
“Thank you,” the man replied. He walked calmly into town seemingly unaffected by the atmosphere. He didn’t even look back as he passed the kids. Deren still held on to his sheathed sword ready until the man was long passed him.
“Is everything okay?” Nypre asked Wonik. She let out a heavy sigh and the wind returned to normal, breaking the tension.
“Everything is fine,” she said unsure. Nypre looked to Deren but only recieved a shrug. He too had a very strange feeling about that man but just couldn’t place it. But he wasn’t lying. The town always had travelers.
“Nypre continue practicing with lightning. I’m going to see what that so called traveler wants.” Her voice was dark. She walked into town following the footsteps of the man. “Oh Deren, make sure your brother doesn’t kill himself while I’m gone. Lightning can be hard to control,” Wonik turned and said with a smile. It was clear she didn’t want them worrying about it.
The kids decided to follow Wonik instead of sticking around. It was as if they were drawn to the traveler. Of course, given the tense scene, it was only natural. Deren walked over to Nypre and together they watched Wonik follow the man’s footsteps.
“I wonder what that was all about,” Deren said to Nypre. Nypre gave him the same shrug he received earlier.
“Did you see the way mom looked at that guy? I thought she was going to kill him right there,” Nypre whispered to Deren.
“Why are you whispering?” Deren asked.
“It just feels appropriate,” Nypre kept whispering.
“Shouldn’t the great Nypre be making his presence more known?” Deren asked with a mocking laugh. Nypre hid his face with his palm.
“I was just showing off for the kids. You do it all the time with your sword forms! Speaking of which, why aren’t you in class? There’s no way it ended this early,” Nypre deflected the conversation to be about his brother.
“It did for me. The sword master told me after a duel with him that he had nothing left to teach me. I should continue practicing on my own, of course, but he felt his time was better spent with the other students. He also suggested seeking out others to teach me, but said that I’m my best teacher. Whatever that means,” Deren explained.
“That’s amazing!” Nypre exclaimed. He was always happy to support his brother after recalling his conversation with their mother about how hard this would be. Deren hid his pain well.
“Speaking of practicing, shouldn’t you be practicing your lightning about now?” Deren grinned. Nypre knew immediately what he was hinting at.
“I don’t think there’s a way to hold back when it comes to the lightning.” Nypre explained. As much as his loved their duels he did not want to hurt his brother.
“One way to find out. Hit me with what you’ve got!” Deren smiled. Nypre only hesitated for a second.
“Wonik-E!” he yelled. With a quick zap, lightning shot from his fingertips once again hitting Deren directly in the chest. Deren tried to remain standing but ended up falling backwards his arms flailing for a moment. Nypre ran to his side.
“Are you okay Deren?” Nypre asked worriedly.
“That felt strange and painful. I’m going to have to dodge that one,” he laughed.
Wonik followed slowly behind the traveler. She did not bother to hide herself. She knew he was aware of her presence. The man walked calmly through the town waving to random passersby who waved back. He was being overly friendly, which meant he was up to something. Then again, he was always up to something. When there was no one around he veered off the main dirt road of the town and entered one of the homes which lined the path. Wonik followed after, knowing full well that it was not his house. She didn’t bother to admire the well furnished house and instead focused entirely on the traveler.
“Hello Wonik. It’s been awhile,” the man smiled.
“What are you doing here Ryan? Last we talked you said you wanted nothing to do with me or the others.” Wonik glared darkly at him.
“Don’t worry. I’m not in town for you. I’m merely looking for an escort to travel with for a short time,” Ryan’s voice remained calm.
“Is that why we’re in this house?” Wonik asked.
“Oh no. We’re in this house so we can talk. You see the person who lives here won’t be back until nightfall. He’s gone fishing at the nearby river. Being a peaceful town he was nice enough to leave his home unlocked.”
“Then who are you searching for?” Wonik sneered.
“Two people, actually. Two young boys looking to start their life,” Ryan never stopped smiling.
“You leave them alone!” Wonik raised her voice.
“I had a feeling you’d be angry. They are your children after all,” Ryan snickered. “I assure you no harm will come to them. In fact, what I’m doing will be good for them.”
“Good for them? Or good for you?”
“Good for them, me, and another less fortunate soul. You should be thrilled really. You know that they’ll be safe with me. It’s a great way for them to start their journey. Trust me when I say neither of us wants the alternatives.”
“What do you mean alternatives? Are you threatening me?” Wonik held her arms up and dropped her knees. She was ready to use her magic in a moment’s notice.
“Threatening you? Of course not! I try my best not to hurt people. Sometimes it can’t be helped of course, but I think I’ve done well thus far. All I’m saying is it would be better for Nypre, Deren, and the world itself if they traveled with me. Being a nice brother, I wanted to ask you first. I assure you that they will be absolutely safe as long as they are with me.” Ryan spoke with more need in his voice now. Wonik let out a heavy sigh and let her arms fall to her side. He never did harm anyone and, while most of his intentions were selfish to the point of destroying other lives, when he spoke like this it meant it was for a higher purpose. Despite her hate of her brother’s manipulative motives she knew she could trust him when he became this desperate.
“Where do you expect them to escort you to then?” Wonik wanted to get as much information about this as possible.
“Lumin,” Ryan stated as if it were nothing.
“Are you insane?” Wonik nearly yelled. “Lumin is against magic. They’ll kill Nypre the moment he sets foot in there!”
“I think you’re underestimating your own children Wonik. The only way they will know he’s a mage is if he either tells or shows them. Else they’ll remain ignorant. He even has a sword to carry with him to further his disguise. I know we’ve had our differences in the past, with you wanting to teach your magic to others.”
“It saves lives,” Wonik interrupted.
“And ends others,” Ryan countered. “Still, believe it or not, I’ve come to your way of thinking.”
“So, you’ve begun to live up to your expectations then?”
“Don’t be ridiculous! I mean that I was wrong in the past and that you and the other guardians should teach your magic. I apologize for my behavior. I was younger then,” Ryan sighed.
“We all were,” Wonik agreed. “It is about time for Nypre to travel and I want Deren to go with him. I never did get around to teaching him Ti.”
“You can teach him when he gets back. On an unrelated note, please teach them about the lands. I don’t want to tell them the wrong things should they ask. You know it’s hard for me to keep up to date on all of the world’s politics,” Ryan suggested. Wonik nodded.
“I take it you plan on leaving tomorrow?” Wonik asked.
“Tomorrow morning will be perfect,” Ryan smiled
Wonik and Ryan parted ways after their conversation. Wonik decided it would be best to return to Nypre and Deren. She wasn’t sure how she was going to tell them that they should travel with Ryan given with how she had acted towards him. Hopefully their own sense of adventure would help with this task. She returned to the village entrance only to find Deren pinning Nypre and holding his sword to his throat.
“Deren, Nypre was supposed to be practicing with lightning!” She scolded him. Deren jumped back and helped Nypre up with a smile on his face.
“I know, and what better way than to try it out in a duel!” Deren exclaimed.
“Yeah, it was fun! Lightning actually gives me a much greater chance when fighting him,” Nypre agreed. “I’ve won two out of three so far! But as you can see he’s adapting.”
“Just save the rest of your energy, tomorrow is a big day for you. Let’s head back home, there’s much to discuss,” Wonik spoke seriously. Nypre and Deren walked over to her, each grabbing an arm. With a quick chant from Wonik the three were lifted off the ground and flew back home.
Wonik prepared and served dinner before deciding to have her chat with the boys. Nypre and Deren made quick work of their food, devouring it all quickly before going back for more. Fighting each other had clearly made them hungry. Finally the hunger that dwelled within the two boys was sated.
“So, I had a chat with the traveler who showed up in town. He’s what you could consider an old friend of mine.” Wonik began to talk, but she was quickly interrupted.
“Friend, with the way you glared at him I’d think him more of an enemy,” Deren said loudly.
“In the past, maybe. But it’s time we put our differences behind us, for the future, by that I mean your future. He’s looking for an escort to the city of Lumin. While he’s capable of defending himself, I figured it would be a good opportunity for you two to get out in the world,” Wonik explained.
“Wait, you want us to go to Lumin? Don’t they hate mages?” Nypre asked worriedly.
“Don’t worry, as long as you control yourself and don’t cast any spells you’ll be just fine. Ryan, the traveler, even mentioned that you can bring your sword along to further the disguise as hired escorts,” Wonik responded, putting Nypre’s worries at ease, or so she thought.
“How did he even know I have a sword?” Nypre asked paranoid now. He didn’t bring his sword with him to town. It had been in his room all day.
“Ryan knows much of this world and its people. You’re just going to have to trust me,” Wonik explained clearly unfazed by this.
“Well I think it’s a good idea. The sword master said he couldn’t teach me anything more. Come on Nypre, it will be fun!” Deren seemed happy with the idea. Seeing Deren’s reaction, Nypre was quick to follow suit.
“It’s settled then. Tomorrow we will head to town and meet up with Ryan. Then you two will be off. I’d go with you, but you know I have duties here,” Wonik said. “Before you go, I should tell you of the lands to the north”
“But mom, we already know of them!” Deren let out an annoyed sigh.
“It’s just a quick review,” Wonik insisted. “There are currently ten lands or territories in our world. As you well know, we live in Tawarln’s territory where we supply most of the food to the rest of the world through trade. We have three lands bordering us to the north. The Wild Lands, the Night Land, and Falkner’s territory, so Deren, what can you tell me about these since you already know of them?” Wonik questioned.
“Well, the Wild Lands are controlled by Tristan who is somehow capable of controlling wolves and claw beasts. There isn’t much society there for humans. Do any humans even live there at all?” he asked.
“Yes. The humans there live in packs with the wolves and claw beasts. They’re wild men left over from the clans that lived there. It is a very different lifestyle from us. It’s very dangerous, but you will not be traveling through it” Wonik explained. She turned to Nypre “Nypre, tell me about the Night Land and why it’s important to avoid it.”
“Easy, you talk about this all the time. The Night Land is the newest territory which appeared in Falkner’s lands not that long ago. It has since spread, taking up much of the Wild Lands and even some of Tawarln’s land. The entire area is encompassed by an eternal night and any who wander in there never return.” Nypre was quite proud of his knowledge.
“Yes. The area you’ll be traveling through is Falkner’s territory. Falkner is the lord there. He’s been at war with the elves ever since the Night Land first appeared leading me to believe that the elves could be behind it. It is very important that you do not get caught in the middle of any battles that could be happening between the two. It is also very important that you stay far away from the forest. The elves will kill any who set foot in that forest.” Wonik felt she was being too over protective with these words, but it was something she had to say enough especially with how recklessly these two acted.
“We know,” both Deren and Nypre said at the same time.
“I suppose I shouldn’t worry, Ryan should stop you two from getting into any trouble. It is very important that you listen to him and do exactly as he says. Even if you don’t agree with it,” Wonik ordered. The two boys nodded.
The three of them went about the rest of their day as normal. Wonik did not let the two boys duel, despite how excited they were, and insisted they use their energy to read about each of the territories instead. She had taught each of them herself, whether it be numbers, language, history, or in this case geography. They were used to being told to study. She only hoped that what she taught them was enough. She would fear for them during the journey but had to tell herself that they wouldn’t be gone long. She wasn’t worried about them getting to Lumin with Ryan’s supervision, just about them getting back without it.