...A Million Miles from Home... is the first story in the Gislitoft Outcast story arc. It introduces the characters Alban Gisilfrid, Kristine Gisilfrid, and Aria Shadewood, who serve as the main characters of the story arc.
Prologue 1: ...Deadly burst of snow...Edit
Lacyttoft is the Magic Capital of the Republic of Mirannas: this almost city is the central hub for all magical pursuits in the nation. As such, the city is populated predominantly by Elves, whose skill with magic makes them the most powerful beings in the city. Among these elves was a small family that showed great promise in magical prowess: the Moon Elf family known as the Shadewoods. The family consisted of Vorosaer Shadewood, his wife Nelenwe Shadewood, and their 12 year old daughter, Aria Shadewood.
Aria was still young, so she was still growing: she was only about 4 and a half feet tall. Like most moon elves, her skin was pale in color, and she had long, sharply-pointed ears. She had long, pale brown hair that reached below her shoulders, and her eyes were a clear blue. She had a slender build, and weighed only 74 pounds, a little on the light side, even for an average moon elf child.
Her clothes were of good quality, a sign that her family was of the upper class. However, her parents were kind to the point where most of their friends were middle, even lower, class.
Aria was inquisitive, and was greatly interested in magic and what she did not know. Her curiosity got her into trouble sometimes, but her parents also took it as a sign she was destined for good things.
Although still an amateur wizard, Aria was somewhat gifted with magical talent. Her parents work to teach her everything they can on how to manipulate magic, and, already, she can fire out Maj-Bolts, orbs of magic that track a living (or undead or animated Construct) target, and cause light damage to them. She can also conjure up some merely-visual illusion effects, mostly little sparks and rainbowish lights. However, her parents believe her to have some promise as a wizard.
Aria's parents were particularly skilled in Restoration and Alteration, although Vorosaer also studied Auramancy, and Nelenwe was a skilled illusionist.
Vorosaer was a tall elf. He had a scar under one of his eyes, the only notable feature on his face. His eyes themselves were blue, like his daughter's, but his hair was greyish. Vorosaer was loud-spoken and always attempted to make his position in an argument known.
Nelenwe was slightly more reserved. A slender elf, Nelenwe was quiet and rarely spoke her mind, unless it seemed to be important at the time. Like her daughter, she had pale brown hair, but has grey eyes.
The family lived a good life...until one day.
The Marketplace of Lacyttoft was a long wide road lined with market stalls and wagons. Some of the stalls were filled with fruits and vegatables, while others were loaded with meat. Some had components for magical items and experiments, while others were merely filled with weapons, armor, toys, and other miscellaneous items.
Aria and her family came into the market that day to pick up food to restock their stores, as well as procure some magical item components they needed to be able to continue Aria's current lessons: the construction of devices meant to allow control over Lycanthropy. They've already taught her how to make potions meant to heal wounds, and now Aria's been asking to be taught something more complex.
Suddenly, an explosion sounded from nearby as one of the walls blew open. The market immediately erupted into panic. Fortunately, the family managed to keep together. Vorosaer led his family into one of the alleys along the market, and watched as the source of the explosion, pirate raiders, swarmed the market, killing all in their path.
Vorosaer led his family away from the market and back towards home. When they got there, Vorosaer and Nelenwe secured the house. However, they knew that they were too close to the entry area of the pirates to be able to go unnoticed, so they readied to fight. Soon, the pirates arrived, and, after minutes of ramming the door, broke through. The parents fought back with all the magic at their disposal. However, the pirates soon overwhelmed Vorosaer, and he fell to them.
Urgently, Nelenwe took Aria out to behind the house, and said to her, "You have to run, get out of here. If you stay, they'll kill you, just go, run!" Aria, without another thought, ran, away of the house, and away from the pirate raiders.
Nelenwe was knocked to the floor by the pirates, and, the leader of ran her through with his sabre, killing her. Seeing the back gate to the property open, he realized that someone must have gotten away. Not wanting anyone to make it out of the city to spread news of the attack, he took a few of the pirates with him, as well as a hunting dog, and followed the escapee.
Like her mother had told her to, Aria kept running, at least until she was on the outskirts of the city, when she finally looked back. The city appeared to be in flames, as the raiders kept attacking. Then, she saw a small group of pirates, who were accompanied by a rather vicious-looking dog. The pirates were coming right at her, one of them pointing her out, so, she turned to the wilderness, and ran.
For over a day, in the freezing cold, Aria ran. A few times, she stopped to rest or try to warm up, but once she heard the dog that was with the pirates, she continued running. Now, she trying to make her way through a forest, hiking through snow. She was cold, weak, tired, and on the verge of passing out, but she knew that if she stopped now, the pirates would catch up.
Finally, she reached the edge of the forest...and was on the edge of a field. She looked ahead, and saw a house, with a few more behind it. She'd reached a city. She pushed her body forward. She knew she had to reach the house. Maybe find help...maybe...Then, her exhaustion finally caught up with her, and, her body aching from lack of rest, constant running, and the bitter cold, she passed out in the middle of the field.
Alban Gisilfrid was a 13 year old human living in the town of Gislitoft. Although not farmers, the family had their own field, for growing their own food.
Alban was a tall, muscularly build young man. He was slightly over 5 feet, and was almost 120 pounds. He had long (but not shoulder-length) dark brown hair and brown eyes. His interests lay in the realms of weapons, especially the crossbow. He even had a small, one-handed crossbow, that he used frequently.
He was in this field now, practicing his crossbow-skills by hunting for small creatures that tried to eat their crops. However, he soon noticed something: a shape, too different from the creatures he usually hunted.
He went to investigate...and found a young girl, face-down on the ground. The paleness of her skin, the color of her hair, and the shape of her ears told Alban she was a moon elf. The most notable thing, however, was that her breathing was ragged, as though she'd just been running nonstop for days.
"Hey, Kristine!" Alban called. Coming out of a nearby bush was Alban's 9-year-old sister, Kristine Gisilfrid.
Kristine was a 9 year old human girl. At about 4 feet tall and 63 pounds, she was somewhat slender, and she had shoulder-length red hair. Like her brother, she had brown eyes. She was somewhat of an introvert, more than likely due to the fact that she was always picked on, teased, or even beat up by her peers. Her brother seemed to be the only non-adult in town who treated her with any respect.
"Who's that?" Kristine asked, noticing the unconscious moon elf girl.
"I don't know, but she looks to be near death. Get father, he'll know what to do," Alban said. Kristine then ran back to the house. Alban then rolled the moon elf onto her back. He tried to see if he could rouse the young moon elf, to no avail.
Alban looked over the young moon elf. He found her to be quite beautiful, despite the scratches and dirt that were visible on her face and, in areas where her clothes had been torn off, her limbs. He seemed to think she looked rather peaceful, but knew that, from the looks of her, she must be in extreme pain, due to the bruises he also saw on her legs. He thought the girl looked as though she used to be from a family of high standing, meaning the fact that she was here, and in such condition, means something must be wrong.
Alban muttered to himself, "She must have been running from something to be in this condition." Suddenly, he heard something in the forest, and saw a group of men, with a rather feral-looking dog, exit out. One of the men approached Alban and the girl, but Alban, immediately suspicious, raised his crossbow. "I'd suggest you get out of my family's field, or so help me, I'll..."
"You'll what?" the man said, "We're here for the girl. Stand aside, or I'll have your hide as well." The leader of the group wore what appeared to be iron armor, which Alban knew was usually only used by one of 4 types of people: Militarymen, Adventurers, Pirates, or Slavers. Alban believed this man and his party, the rest of which was equipped with leather armor, was likely one of the latter 2. The dog with them looked particularly vicious-looking, like one of the dogs used by pirates, reinforcing the likelihood that these men were pirates.
Alban did not stand down, so the man drew a wicked looking sabre. Just then, however, a pair of large crossbow bolts, larger than ones Alban's small, one-handed crossbow could use, then implanted themselves in a nearby tree. Alban quickly realized that Kristine must be back with their father. He then heard his father say to the man, "I suggest you get away from those 2, or the next shot's going to hit you dead in the eye."
Alban then raised his one-handed crossbow again, and the group from the forest retreated. Then, Alban's father joined him next to the moon elf. After getting a look at her condition, he said, "Get her inside, out of the freezing cold. We'll warm her up and get her something to eat."
The last thing Aria felt when she passed out was the stinging cold, her aching limbs, and extreme levels of fatigue. Now, she was laying on something soft, and feeling a heat source next to her. She eased her eyes open, but some of the effects of fatigue were still blurring her vision, so she couldn't make out her surroundings.
She attempted to move, but her limbs still ached from all the running, though not as much as before. She was wondering how long she was out for, when a male voice next to her called out, "She's moving!" She tried to roll over to see the source of the voice, but a hand held her still when she rolled on her back. A male human, around her age if not slightly older, eased into her blurred vision. "Don't strain yourself," the young man said, "You've been out for a while."
As Aria's vision cleared, she got a good look at Alban's features. She actually found him to be quite handsome, and, from the sound of his voice, he seemed nice. Aria immediately liked this individual.
She tried to speak, but her voice was hoarse, and she was still tired to the point where just saying one word took quite a bit of effort. "How...long...was I...out?"
"I do not know. I found you unconscious in the family field a few hours ago. My father and I brought you inside after we drove off some men and a hunting dog. I don't know who they were, but they seemed to be either pirates or slavers." The young man then asked, "Can you tell me you name?"
"Aria...Shadewood..." Aria croaked with much effort.
"Well, hello then, Aria. I'm Alban Gisilfrid," the young man replied kindly.
Then, an older man and woman appeared behind Alban, probably Alban's parents. "How are you doing?" Alban's father asked Aria.
"My...limbs...still hurt..." Aria said.
"Just need some rest, that's all," Alban's father responded.
Then, a younger girl appeared. "So, where are you from?" she asked curiously.
"I'm...from...Lacyttoft..." Aria answered.
"Lacyttoft?!" Alban exclaimed, "No wonder you're exhausted. That's quite a long way to come."
"Where...am I...then?" Aria weakly asked.
"You're in Gislitoft," Alban's father answered.
"Gislitoft? That...is...far..." Aria responded.
Alban's mother then asked, "Would you...like something to eat? You've come a long way, and you look like you haven't eaten in a while..."
Aria gave a small sound, and nodded yes. Alban's mother then returned with some bread. After Aria finshed eating, and was given a drink of water, Alban asked, "So...why'd you run all the way to here from Lacyttoft? Why were those men after you?"
Aria, who seemed to have a little more strength back, responded, no longer hoarse, but still slightly weak, "Lacyttoft was attacked by pirates...my parents tried to hold them off...when they couldn't, my mother told me to run...so I did...until I arrived here...That's all I can remember."
"That sounds horrible..." Alban's mother said.
"And you ran all the way here, from Lacyttoft?" Alban's father asked. Aria nooded in response. "You're tough, that's for sure. You also really must have been trying to keep away from those pirates. I guess you're lucky we came when we did. Just get some rest, get your strength back."
A day or so later, the news on the attack of Lacyttoft reached Gislitoft. From what the news said, the pirate raiders flattened half the city, leaving the major capital of magic study in the Republic of Mirannas in disarray. The Gisilfrids had guessed from the news that Aria's family was among those that died, leaving Aria orphaned.
The townspeople were initially uncertain of what to do with Aria: some wanted her taken to the local orphanage, some wanted her thrown out, others wanted to take her in themselves. It was finally decided that, as they were the ones to find her, and that she was found on their property, the decision was given to the Gisilfrids. Under Alban's urging, the family decided they'll take the young moon elf in themselves.
After being bed-ridden for almost 2 days, Aria finally had the strength to get out of bed. When she entered the next room, she walked in on a conversation the family was having. "Sorry, did I interrupt something?" she asked.
"No, of course not," Alban responded. Then after the family gave each other a series of gestures, Alban approached Aria. "We were...just talking...about seeing if you'd like to stay with us for a while."
"Are you sure?" Aria responded. She seemed grateful, but also uncertain. She was grateful for everything the Gisilfrids have done for her, however, she didn't like to cause trouble, and she felt that staying there, eating their food, and taking up space would cause the exact kind of trouble she wanted to avoid. "I mean...I don't want to impose..."
Alban liked how polite Aria seemed, and that only made him like her more. Now, he was certain he did not want her to leave. "Don't worry," Alban said, "No trouble. No trouble at all."
"I'm with Alban," Alban's father spoke up, "We have the room, we always have extra food. If anything, you staying with us will give us a way of dealing with that surplus space and food." Everyone could tell that that was a joke just as much as it was true.
Aria smiled. "I guess I have no other option. Thank you..."
Prologue 2: ...I will have to run away...Edit
It's been about 4 years since Aria moved in with the Gisilfrids, and, over time, the family seemed to grow fond of her, especially Alban. Occasionally, Alban would show her how skilled he was with his one-handed crossbow, and Aria would occasionally show him a bit of her magical abilities, mostly just her magical sparkling abilities, but she'll occasionally use her magical projectile attack to help Alban chase off the creatures that tried to eat the family crops.
In the 4 years, Aria had grown quite a bit. She was now over 5 feet, but was only about 110 pounds or so, so she was still rather slender, compared to normal Moon Elves her age. She allowed her hair to grow out a bit, so it now reaches down her back. She had become somewhat of an introvert, due to being unable to relate to anyone in town other than Alban and Kristine (and their parents, to a lesser extent). She'd been privately practicing her magical capabilities, although, without 'proper' training or learning materials, was still a little inexperienced.
Alban has grown to about 6 feet tall, and is about 150 pounds. Over the years, his skills with a crossbow improved somewhat. He still uses his smaller crossbow, now wielding it exclusively one-handed, whereas before, he'd sometimes have to use both hands to hold it steady. However, one main difference between the common male of the town and him is that he barely spends any time at the docks, whereas other Gislitoft males spend most of their free time there.
Kristine was now a couple inches under 5 feet, and only around 80 pounds. Her hair is still shoulder length, but is now set in a braid. She's still an introvert, as the town has done nothing to warrent a change in opinion from her, but she has grown to be friends with Aria.
Finally, the time soon came for Alban to be tested. Being a port town, every able-bodied male in Gislitoft was tested while they were 17 to see if they were able to fill any role on a sailing vessel. This is why many males from the town spend most of their time at the docks.
Alban was uncertain of himself. This is mainly because, while most males his age were practicing their skills on a ship, Alban's been playing with his crossbows and daggers. Alban prefered fighting to sailing, and that made him different from everyone else. Now that the time came for the test, however, he was worried that he wouldn't pass. However, his sister and Aria assured him he'd be fine. A few nights beforehand, though, Gislitoft would be attacked similarly to Lacyttoft.
One night, there was a loud howl and 5 large werewolves charged into the city from the forest. Alban and Aria were in town when this happened. <Description of what happened in town>
After warning his parents, Alban noticed Kristine was gone. "Where's Kristine?!" he asked.
Suddenly, his father remembered, "She was playing out in the field when I last saw her!"
Kristine, however, was already aware of the werewolf attack: one of them had discovered her, and was now ready to pounce at her. She slowly tried to back away, and was about to bolt when the werewolf lunged. It tackled her to the ground. She struggled, and the werewolf swiped at her. One of the werewolf's claws got under her tunic and dug a gash into her torso. It wasn't fatal, or really anything to get worried over, in the medical sense. However, Kristine knew enough about werewolves to know what that gash would do to her.
The werewolf raised its hand again readying to deal a killing blow, when a pair of glowing orbs of magic shot out from the direction of the house and struck the beast. Its attention turned away from Kristine, over to Aria, who had launched a pair of Maj-Bolts at the creature. Then, a few small crossbow bolts, consistant with those from Alban's Crossbow, flew in, one of which lodged itself in the werewolf's eye. The beast reared back in pain and roared, allowing Alban to fire one more bolt into the mouth, killing the fiend.
Aria came over and crouched next to Kristine. "Are you alright?" she asked.
Ultimately deciding to hide the gash left by the werewolf, Kristine asked, "I'm unharmed. Thanks."
The group managed to make it to the house, where the family waited out the attack, until the town guard managed to either chase off or kill off the werewolves.
Days after the attack, Alban finally faced his trial. Kristine and Aria eagerly awaited Alban's return. However, when he did, his expression (and those from the individuals that accompanied him), told them he failed. The man that oversaw the trial came up to Alban's father and angrily shouted at him, "What kind of son did you raise? He was WORTHLESS on the ship. And you know that a son worthless on a ship has no place in a port town."
Aria tried to say something, but could think of nothing to say.
Over the next few days, people in the town were giving members of the Gisilfrid family hostile looks, and Kristine's peers treated her even worse than before. Alban knew he was the cause of all this, so, in the end, he decided it was best if he disappeared. However, before he could leave, Aria found him. "What are you doing?" she asked.
Alban knew there'd be no sneaking out now. "I'm...I'm leaving. Ever since I failed the test, the whole town's been against my family. I've seen what happens when people fail the test before, and I don't want it to happen to my family."
Suddenly, Kristine entered. "You can't leave!" she exclaimed.
"Kristine, you know what some of the people do to families who keep their children that care declared useless."
"Well, if you go, I'm going too!"
"What?!" It was Alban's parents.
"It's bad enough Alban feels the need to go," Alban's father said, "But I don't want to lose both of you."
"Yes, Kristine, it's best if you stay..."
"No one in town likes me anyways," Kristine said, "There's nothing for me here...I might as well just disappear too..." She decided to hide the fact that she believed the werewolf from the other night might have turned her into a Lycanthrope, but that was definitely one of the reasons she needed to leave.
Aria then said, "I'll leave as well...Alban, you're the only person in town I got along with, truly, and...I'm not sure what I'd do without you..."
Alban lowered his head. "Then...I guess we better get going..." He looked out the window and saw it was getting dark. "We can leave under the cover of nightfall...then mom and dad can spread a rumor that I just ran off in the night."
Alban's mother appeared to start crying. His father then said, "Good luck son. Despite what the others say, I know you're not useless. Maybe you can find your place out there. Please, take care of your sister..."
Once the group was prepared, Alban and the others gave their last goodbyes, and left. As they crossed the field, they walked by the spot where Alban first found Aria. After a minute of reminising, the trio entered the forest, certain that this was the last time they'd ever see Gislitoft.
Chapter 1: ...Frozen to the bones...Edit
The trio traveled for a half of the night, before the sun finally began to rise.
Alban wore a set of traveling clothes he found, slightly modified with parts of leather armor attached. He was armed with his small crossbow and a dagger he had in his boot. His father tried to give him his rapier when he left, but Alban told his father to keep his weapon: Alban was better with his crossbow anyways.
Aria wore an ankle-length dress, covered by a dark grey cloak Alban's mother gave her. She wasn't armed at all, saying that she could use her magic well enough to defend herself.
Kristine wore the same clothing (tunic, dress under it) she wore the night the werewolves attacked Gislitoft. She, like her brother, also had a hidden dagger, which her parents gave to her for her own defense. It wasn't like she was too unskilled to use it: she practiced using a dagger a lot, since playing with the other children in town was not an option for her.
Aria looked around with uncertain recollection; the last time she'd rested here was while she was being chased by those pirates, 4 years ago. She muttered to herself, "Has it really been that long?" She became so lost in her thoughts that she seemed to have forgotten the others were there.
"Hey, Aria, you ok?" Alban asked, passing her a piece of food he packed.
"I'm fine," she responded, accepting the food item, "Just...remembering..."
"So," Kristine asked, "What are we doing from here?"
"I don't know," Alban said, "I just know we can't go back..." Aria seemed to be lost in thought again. "Hey, Aria!" Alban called, snapping her back into reality.
"Wait, what? Sorry...just distracted," she said.
"Distracted by what?" Alban asked.
"I...I'm just...wondering what happened to Lacyttoft...you know, since I left..." Aria responded.
After thinking a moment, Alban decided, "Let's go there then...we're heading in that direction. Besides, I think...it might give you some closure." One thing Alban remembered from the past 4 years with Aria is that it seemed that, every so often, she would have nightmares. Alban believed she was reliving the horrors of the attack on Lacyttoft, and he truly believed that her seeing her hometown this far later, hopefully recovered, would offer her some closure.
"Are you sure?" she asked. Her tone and expression made her seem like she was 4 years ago, not wanting to be a burden on the family that rescued her. "I don't want to cause us any trouble..."
"Don't worry," Alban said, repeating what he said to her those 4 years ago, "No trouble. No trouble at all."
The group found their way out of the forest and onto a main road, as the sun went down. However, the road seemed to have not been traveled for a while: fresh snowfall had all but covered the road, and the impressions made in the parts that were exposed were days, even weeks old.
"I...remember this road," Aria said, her voice shaky as the memory came to her, "This is the road where supplies would come to Lacyttoft. My parents and I would sometimes come out of the city to talk to one of the caravan drivers. It was always busy..."
"Apparently, the attack must have rendered it useless," Kristine said pessimistically.
"No," Alban said, "The road's too recently-traveled to have been abandoned those years ago. This road's been recently deserted."
"But why?" Aria asked.
Then, a voice said, "We'll give you a good guess." Then, a group of men wearing leather armor, armed with axes, bows, and spears, appeared. Some were riding horses, and one, likely the leader, was in iron armor and riding a megascorp with a scar on its 'face'. The large scorpion seemed submissive to its rider, like a slave without hope.
"Bandits," Alban realized, pulling out his crossbow. "Looks like there's...6 of them..." he counted.
"So, 2 of them for every one of us..." Aria analyzed, "I don't like those odds..."
"Well, we still have to fight them. What other choice do we have?" Alban responded. However, before they could continue, the bandits struck. Alban was barely able to avoid one of them and fire his crossbow. The bolt, however, just glanced off the bandit's leather armor. "Get Kristine back, I'll handle the dirty work here..."
Aria backed Kristine away from the fight. However, one bandit went after them. Trying to get away from the bandit, Kristine tripped on a branch, while another one caught onto and tore her tunic and the dress underneath. Aria charged a couple Maj-Bolts and fired them at the bandit. The bolts struck him dead in the chest, allowing the 2 females to retreat.
However, once under cover, Aria looked at Kristine, as the young girl looked up into the sky and then, as though struck by a migraine, crumpled. "Kristine!" Aria exclaimed, "Are you..."
Before Aria could finish, Kristine desperately said, "Just...get back, stay back!"
Aria was confused. "Kristine, what is it..."
"Aria, get back...please...I don't want to hurt you..."
As Kristine jerked to the side, Aria spotted something under the torn area of Kristine's clothing: a jagged scar that appeared to be a few days old, just as old as..."Oh my..." Aria said, shocked, recognizing the werewolf-inflicted wound. She realized immediately what was going on: Kristine must have been turned into a Lycanthrope, and she was about to turn beast mode.
Immediately, she rushed to Alban and dragged him behind cover. "What are you doing? Where's Kristine?" Alban asked.
Aria rushingly spoke, "You remember the attack on the town a week or so ago, when that werewolf attacked Kristine? I think it managed to get a hit on her, and I think she's about to turn beast."
"What?!" Alban exclaimed, looking from behind cover, and watched as his sister morphed before his eyes into a half-human, half-wolf creature. Her limbs lengthened and covered with fur. Her face stretched into a snout, and obtained lupine features. Her fingernails lengthened and sharpened, becoming large claws.
Seeing this transformation, the bandits immediately concentrated on attacking Kristine. However, the first bandit to bring a blade against her had his face clawed off by her claws. Another bandit tried to sneak up behind her, but her enhanced hearing caught him, allowing her to tear the man in half. The Bandit leader, mounted his Megascorp and prepared to charge, but Alban seized this chance and also climbed on the massive scorpion. Using his hidden dagger, Alban immediately cut the restraints on the Megascorp.
Feeling the restraints come loose and realizing it was free, the Megascorp shook its riders off and fled into the underbrush, having only self-preservation on its mind.
Alban then turned to the bandit leader, who pulled out a large greatsword. He prepared to attack Alban, when, suddenly, Kristine's werewolf form threw one of the bandits she was fighting at the bandit leader. Alban quickly pulled out and fired his crossbow at the fallen leader. Then, he turned to Kristine.
Kristine, in her werewolf form, had killed off the bandits, and then noticed Alban. Alban could tell in her eyes that Kristine, in the crazed state she was in, was contemplating whether to attack or not. However, she hesitated; Alban hoped that was the part of her mind still under her control holding the other half back. However, from what he knew of werewolves, Alban knew that this was only a momentary respite: soon, Kristine would fail and she'd attack.
Suddenly, a small branch appeared from behind and swung with such force, that it knocked the werewolf out. When Kristine fell over, the one with the branch was revealed to be Aria. "Hopefully, that should sedate her until she turns back," Aria said, a ting of guilt over hitting her friend in her voice.
When Kristine woke up, her head hurt a lot. "Oh..." she said weakly as she got up, getting Alban's and Aria's attentions. "Feels like I got hit in the head with a tree branch."
"Yeah...Sorry about that..." Aria responded, revealing that she had, in fact, hit Kristine with a small tree branch.
Alban then came over and knelt by his sister. "Why...why didn't you tell me about this?"
"I didn't want to worry you," Kristine said, "I also didn't need anything else out there that would allow the other kids to make fun of me...But now...I'm not sure what to do...I don't think I can handle being hit in the head every time I turn..."
"And not to mention the disease will eventually consume your mind if we don't do something about it," Aria said. She remembered that from one of the last lessons her parents taught her before the pirate attack. She also remembered that her parents were trying to teach her how to make devices to contain and control Lycanthropy. Concentrating, she tried to remember the components her parents had taken her to get that day. As painful as the memory was, she knew that Kristine's sanity, and maybe her life, relied on her remembering this information.
"So, what do we do now?" Alban asked.
After remembering what she could, Aria responded, "We continue to Lacyttoft. I think I can...remember something my parents were teaching me on controlling Lycanthropy. I think I remember the components...some of them, at least, of a magic item meant to allow the bearer to control the condition...Maybe I can find my old house, and, if it's not been sacked or burned, maybe find some of my parents' old tomes: they're bound to have something I can use..."
"Alright," Alban agreed, "Then we better hurry. The sooner we can get this magic item created, the better. I honestly don't want to end up having to kill my own sister, just because she loses her mind and turns into a murderous monster."
Chapter 2: ...Where innocence is burned in flames...Edit
The team came over a hill in the road, and, at last, Lacyttoft came into view. It seemed to be in somewhat-good condition, however, even from where they were, they could see remnants of the attack from 4 years ago: some houses, whether intentionally or due to lack of time, were still in ruins.
Alban looked at the city, but his attention was drawn to Aria, when she said, likely absently, "Home..." Alban looked at her, but she kept mumbling, as though she didn't notice anyone else, "Where I was born...where my parents and I lived...where my parents...died..." She clenched her hand and put it to her heart, as she remembered the painful memory.
Alban walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder. Aria looked up at him, eyes filled with tears. "If it's any consolation, I'm sorry for what happened to them, but right now, we got something we need to do..."
Aria wiped her eyes, and said, "You have nothing to be sorry for..." After taking a moment to compose herself, she added, "Alright, let's get moving."
The trio walked into the city, Aria with her cloak's hood over her head. She didn't know if anyone would recognize her, and actually didn't want to be recognized (at least, yet).
The place seemed still damaged, as though the magic-obsessed populous was too busy trying to restart their experiments and studies to actually fix the town all the way, leaving many houses in ruins. The group entered the market place. Aria remembered her home was nearby, but did not remember precisely where it was.
Alban approached a person, and said, "I'm looking for the house where the 'Shadewood' family used to live at."
The person, a High Elf male, asked, "And why would you be looking for that ruin? Friends of that long-gone family do not take kindly to looters here, boy."
"I'm not a thief: I know one of the surviving Shadewoods and I wanted to help her retrieve some of her things." He glanced at Aria, but she still seemed unready to reveal herself.
"The Shadewoods are dead. The last of their line has fallen. From what we heard, the Shadewoods' daughter was chased into the forest by pirates and, although the pirates returned, was never seen again. Do not try and kid me, boy."
"He doesn't kid you," Aria finally spoke up, coming alongside Alban and pulling her hood back.
The High Elf's eyes widened, recognizing Aria's face. He said, keeping his voice down. "It...it is you...young Aria Shadewood. You're alive."
Alban then explained, "4 years ago, I found her unconscious in my family's field. My father and I chased off the pirates that pursued her and nursed her back to health. Seeing as we assumed her parents were dead, we took her in."
"I see...so, you're back to retrieve what's yours, I take it?" he asked Aria. Aria nodded. "I see...you should come to my place, there are some things you need to know."
"And my friends?"
"Yes, yes, them too, I apologize, by the way, Mr..."
"Alban Gisilfrid..." Alban finished.
"Alright, Alban. And Miss..."
"Kristine," Kristine replied, "I'm Alban's sister."
"Ah, ok, well, you 3 better come with me to my house," the High Elf said, but then he lowered his voice to barely a whisper and said, "And you'll want to put that hood back up, Aria..."
The High Elf led the group through the streets. People seemed to look suspiciously at the group as they moved through the city. The looks made Aria shrink further into her cloak, and made the Gisilfrid siblings wish they had their own.
Finally, the group arrived at a moderately-sized home. The High Elf led the group in, and led them into what looked like a study, where Aria finally dropped her hood again, away from the prying eyes outside.
"I never thought I'd see any of the Shadewoods again," the High Elf said.
"Who are you, though?" Aria asked, "I apologize, but I do not recognize you."
"Ah, of course, you were just a baby when we first met. I was a friend of your father's, and actually was the one who introduced him to your mother. I guess you could say I was indirectly responsible for you existing." The Elf laughed to himself. However, Aria just seemed confused, so the Elf then said, "My name is Galinar Emmirdad. Like I said, I'm a friend of your father's. Where've you been all this time?"
Alban answered. "Those pirates chased her all the way to my parents' home in Gislitoft."
"Gislitoft?!" Galimar quietly exclaimed, "That's a long way! How'd you get there?"
"I...I don't remember. I just remember mom saying to run, so I ran, until I just collapsed from exhaustion. Next thing I know, I woke up in the Gisilfrid's house."
Galimar looked at Alban, who added, "Like I said, I found her in my family's field, and my father and I chased off the pirates pursuing her. We then took her inside, and nursed her back to health. Then, she stayed with us when news of the attack here finally reached us."
Galimar was silent for a moment, before saying, "Wow...that's quite a story..."
Aria then asked, "Why did you suggest for me to hide my face back at the market."
Galinar sighed. "The news of the death of your family is widely known: for many years, the Shadewoods were some of the more prominent mages of Lacyttoft. And, when your parents were killed and you...disappeared, that left a void, and many more unscrupulous mages rushed to fill that void. Were you to show yourself now, nowhere would be safe for you."
"I see..." Aria said sadly.
Then, Galinar said, "Oh, right." He got up and, while searching through some shelves along one wall. "When the pirates were driven off, many of those mages came to your house, looking for magical items your parents were said to possess. Fortunately, myself and a few other friends of your parents got there first. It appeared the pirates held no desire for magic items, as we found these still on your parents when we found their bodies."
Galinar then pulled out of the back of the shelves 2 items: a long, wooden staff, and a black cloak that seemed to shimmer. He then took the items and presented them to Aria. She hesitantly accepted them. "What are they?"
"They belonged to your parents. Your father's staff and your mother's enchanted cloak." Aria eyed the items. Galinar continued, "When we found your parents, the pirates apparently left their magical items behind. We salvaged as much as we could, before we had to hide the items to keep your parents' usurpers from claiming them. However, we couldn't get everything: we tried to get the other items back, but those mages claimed we had no right, as the owners were dead."
Alban then butted in, "But, if Aria were to reveal she was alive, that those items are still Shadewood property..."
"Then those mages would likely hire mercenaries and assassins to kill her and anyone that accompanied her," Galinar responded, "Things have gotten a little more ruthless since you left, Aria."
Suddenly, Kristine cringed and gasped. Alban asked concerned, "Kristine, are you alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine..." she responded.
Galinar squinted at her, before saying, "No, you're not. I can tell from here, you must be a Lycanthrope."
Kristine seemed shocked that the High Elf was able to discover her secret so quickly. Aria stated, "That's one of the reasons we're here. I think I remembered a couple things from my last lessons with my parents involving Lycanthropy control. I hoped I could make something to help her out."
"I see...I think I may have found some of your parents' old tomes around here..." Galinar started searching through his shelves. Finally, he found several small books, and, using a pulse of magic on them, they suddenly enlarged to the size of textbooks. "These were your parents' as well," he explained, "Enchanted with a magical enchantment that allowed them to shrink for easy transport, and enlarge when being read. The enchantment is not permanent, so I've been flipping it on and off for the past 4 years."
"Wow, you're dedicated, that's for sure," Kristine blurted out, earning her a nudge from Alban.
"The information you will need for it should be in there. Those are the main tomes they had. Everything you may need to learn will be in there." Suddenly, a noise sounded, and Galinar seemed worried. When the noise settled down, he said, "I apologize, but, if those other wizards hear you're here, they'll definitely come after you. I'm sorry, Aria, but Lacyttoft is no longer safe for you."
Aria seemed sad, with an expression similar to what Alban had when he realized he had to leave Gislitoft. Alban put his arm around her, and Aria looked at him. Aria then remembered that Alban was also exiled from his home. Aria moved closer to Alban and he squeezed his arm around her.
"I'm so sorry to have to tell you this...maybe, when you get more powerful, you may be able to return someday, but for now, it's just not safe for you..." Galinar said.
Aria sniffed sadly, and said, "So...I guess we should get going..."
Galinar then suggested, "I would wear that cloak you have on now, while still around the city, wait until you're in the forest to put use your mother's cloak..."
Aria nodded, and put the hood of her current cloak back up. The group then exited the home and made for the exit, being watched by the city's inhabitants as they left.
The group managed to leave the city without incident. Finally, in the safety of the forest, Aria removed the cloak. Alban felt heartbroken as he saw Aria almost crying: she was finally able to return home after 4 years, only to find out she could not stay. In honesty, he felt Aria was taking it better than he would have.
Aria then swapped for her mother's cloak, and the team continued on. The forest around them was hardly silent: many creatures could be heard in the trees. Sarfangers and Rustmunches could be heard in the distance, and Giant Rats were scurrying through the underbrush.
Suddenly, a loud scuttling could be heard. The group looked around, looking for the source. "What was that?" Aria asked.
"I have no idea," Alban said, "But let's keep going."
The group continued through the forest, when they noticed the trees beginning to become more widely-spaced apart. They looked ahead, and saw the forest exit ahead. The group looked to the sky and found out that it was getting dark. "We'll have to make camp here," Alban decided.
The group readied to unpack, when, suddenly, Kristine went for the dagger her mother gave her.
"What is it?" Alban asked, immediately on guard.
"I smell something...I don't get how, but I smell something..." Kristine responded.
"It must be the Lycanthropy, somehow it's heightening her senses," Aria deduced. Suddenly, a group of lizard-like bipedal creatures emerged from the deeper regions of the forest.
"Komodo," Alba recognized. The lizard-like beings were highly territorial, and would even leave their caves to drive off people they deemed intruding, even if they were still miles from their caves. Alban could clearly see that he, Aria, and Kristine were outnumbered by a large margin.
"So...I take it asking them nicely to leave us alone is out of the question?" Kristine asked, somewhat terrified.
However, as the Komodos advanced, one shrieked out. From where the team heard the scuttling earlier came a massive form: a large Megascorp, with a familiar scar on its face, charged in, stinger stinging and claws swinging at the Komodo. The trio recognized it as the Megascorp that Alban freed from the bandits near Lacyttoft the previous night.
"What's that doing here?!" Alban asked.
"From what I've read, Megascorps are actually intelligent creatures: it must remember us as the ones that freed it and must be trying to protect us," Aria replied, bringing out her father's staff.
Alban responded, "Then let's not let its attempt be in vain. Kristine, take cover, you've likely transformed too soon to be able to turn again."
Alban used his crossbow to fire at the Komodos, while Aria fired with Maj-Bolts, and the Megascorp used claw and stinger to slice or poison the reptilian creatures.
Alban fired his crossbow at another Komodo, and looked at their forces. However, what he saw wasn't promising. "I can't see any end to them!" Alban said. He then noticed movement in the bushes nearby, and more scurrying. Alban knew that something else was coming.
While he was distracted, however, one of the Komodos charged him, and slammed the side of his head with its spear's blunt end. Before Aria could react, another Komodo repeated the move with her. The 2 fell near where Kristine was. The Megascorp scurried over to where the team was, hoping to fight the Komodos away, but it was stricken with several wounds, until it lost consciousness.
Kristine, now seeing nothing to lose, tried to pull out her dagger, but the Komodos were too quick for her, knocking her to the ground. Before she lost consciousness, however, she saw something emerge from the bushes: 6 figures who charged the Komodos, heading for the party. Before she could see anything else, however, Kristine lost consciousness.
Chapter 3: ...To the end of days...Edit
<Going to retcon to add the retconned Galiana Matveev to it>
Kristine openned her eyes, and found herself in a tent. Her body was sore, but other than that, she felt alright. She looked to her left, and saw Alban, who was also waking up.
Alban looked around, first to his right, smiling when he saw his sister awake and alright. The duo then heard something from behind. They looked and saw the Megascorp from earlier, also recovering. Finally, they turned to Alban's left...and saw the bed there empty.
Alban just about bolted up, but a wave of dizziness hit him, and a cloaked figure came over and, with a hand, gently forced him back down on the bed. In a voice that sounded like a creaking door, the figure said, "Calm. Steady. Your body isn't recover yet."
Alban recognized the dialect used. "You...you're a human...but you speak like a Krettin Thuro..."
The figure reached up with a hand, leaving the other on him, and pulled down its cloak. Sure enough, the face of a human female, just slightly older than Alban, was revealed. "You knows of that who raise me," the being stated.
Now, his mind back to where it was earlier, Alban asked, "Where's Aria? Did she..."
An insectoid Krettin Thuro entered the tent, and interrupted. "The elf? Her woke up some few hours ago. Her left for...fresh air, her said, after her questions about you and you sister." The human female nodded and moved to the side, as the Krettin Thuro took her place by the bed.
Alban sighed with relief: not only is Aria alive, but it appears she recovered faster than the others did. Again, Alban attempted to push himself up, this time a little more slowly, and this time, he was able to sit up. He looked over and saw Kristine also try to sit up, but she appeared to still need more rest.
"Can you tell me where she is?" Alban asked, rotating and getting out of the bed.
"Nears the end of us village," the Krettin Thuro replied. Alban then slowly made his way out of the tent, and looked around.
He saw that he was in the middle of a small collection of tents, the common appearance of a Krettin Thuro mobile village. He looked around and, sure enough, near the edge of the village, Aria sat on a small ledge, reading one of the tomes Galinar gave her. Next to her was a small assortmants of items, probably given to her by the Krettin Thuro. She appeared to be muttering something, then stringing the items together.
When it looked as though Aria was taking a rest from what she was doing, Alban approached her. Aria heard his approach. "You're awake," she said, slightly tired, but glad to see him.
"What're you doing?" Alban asked.
"Working on a Lycanthropy Control Band for Kristine," Aria replied, "These Krettin Thuro were kind enough to offer me some of the materials for it." She looked down at the slightly-incomplete band. "It's almost done, but I don't think I'm fully recovered yet: I'm already a little tired. Fortunately, just a few more parts, and it'll be done."
"Want me to stay out here and keep you company?" Alban asked, sitting down next to her.
Aria smiled. "Yes...I'd like that..." Alban sat next to her while Aria finished the finishing touches on the bracelet. Finally, after the final item was added and put in place, Aria seemed to be extremely exhausted. Alban then helped Aria back into the tent they were in earlier, and helped her into bed. Then, he sat on his own bed, and his gaze shifted between Aria and Kristine, both of whom were sound asleep. Then, he went over to Aria and waited for her to get up.
Kristine woke up not long after. She looked over at her brother and Aria, the former turning towards her. "You're up," Alban said, relieved.
Kristine nodded to him, and then said, "Sorry...feeling a little ill...I need some air." Alban nodded in understanding and looked back at Aria. "Just...stay here with her, if you want...I'll be alright by myself..." Kristine left the tent before Alban could reply.
Walking around, kicking small stones, Kristine kept to her own thoughts for a while, until a semi-familiar voice sounded. "What you doing out here alone?" the human female from earlier asked.
"Just felt a little ill...I wanted to get some fresh air," Kristine replied. She stumbled to and sat down on a nearby bench and clutched her stomach. She felt as though her insides were being twisted in knots.
The human female walked over to her and sat down next to her. She seemed to be examining Kristine: where she was clutching her stomach, how she was reacting to her illness, etc. Galiana then moved over, and sat down in front of Kristine, and gently moved her arms aside...revealing the lycanthrope-inflicted scar. "You attacked by werewolf," the human said.
Kristine was startled again how someone managed to decipher that. "How do you know that?" she asked.
"Size of claw mark. Too large for most other creatures. That and reaction match illnesses spawn from Lychanthrope illness," the other human explained.
Kristine asked, "Is there something you could do to help?"
The human sadly shook her head. Then, she asked, "What your name again?"
"Kristine," Kristine replied, "And yours?"
"I called Galiana," the other human female replied.
<Still need to add more>
Aria awoke a few hours later, and, as she sat up, found that Alban and Kristine were already up. Kristine seemed to have left the tent, but Alban...
"So, you're up," Alban said, sitting next to her bed, "I'm glad to see you're alright."
"I'm fine," Aria said, "Where's Kristine?"
"She's up and about," Alban answered, "However, she said she wasn't feeling too good. I think it may be her Lycanthropy acting up again."
"Then I guess I should give her the Control Band, it should help her," Aria responded, getting out of the bed. The duo walked outside, and found Kristine pacing nearby, kicking a stone along, while the human female from earlier watched on, looking a little concerned.
"Hey, Kristine," Aria said.
Kristine looked up, and said, emotionlessly, "Oh, you're awake." She mentioned a moment later, likely to explain her emotionless response, "I'm sorry, I'm just not feeling well."
"It may be your Lycanthropy, sometimes, new Lycanthropes do feel sick, based on what I read from one of my parents' tomes," Aria said. Then, she pulled out the control band, and said, "Here, put this on, it should help you feel better." To the others' surprise, the human female didn't flinch, as though she'd come to the conclusion Kristine was a lycanthrope on her own.
Kristine looked at the bracelet skeptically, but did as asked. Then, suddenly, her expression brightened slightly. "You're right, I do feel kind of better."
"It should also allow you to control yourself in beast form," Aria said.
"Should?" Alban asked, "The way you said that doesn't sound promising."
"What do you expect? I'm not exactly a Master Enchanter. The worst that can happen is that it fails to allow her to control herself, but will instead weaken her to the point where she can be restrained by us easily. However, even then, she'll turn back, and there'll be the chance the bracelet will work next time."
"And I have to wear it all the time?" Kristine asked.
Aria responded, "You don't have to, but it would be advantageous for you to: You won't feel sick all the time, and we don't know when you'll transform, so keeping it on will allow you to have it when you need it."
Kristine nodded to that. Then, Alban asked, "So, what do we do from here?"
"What do you mean?" Kristine asked.
"I don't think we should stay: this tribe has been kind to us, yes, but I don't really think it wise to overstay our welcome. I think we should leave soon," Alban answered.
"I think it would be best," Aria agreed, "They helped us, and I'm thankful for that, but I really think we should be underway once we've fully recovered."
Kristine nodded to this, and Alban said, "Let's go rest up. I think we should prepare to leave as soon as possible."
<Galiana's Guardian encouraging her to join the group, as Galiana clearly desires to do>
Alban, Kristine, and Aria were up early the next morning. It'd been 3 days since they woke up in the Krettin Thuro village, and now they were preparing to depart. The Krettin Thuro who'd tended to them was there to see them off. "I does wish you luck on a rest of your journey," it said in its unusual dialect.
"Well, I guess this is it, thank you for helping us," Alban said.
However, as the team turned to leave, the Krettin Thuro spoke out again. "I almost forgotten. Wait here the moment." The Krettin Thuro rushed into the nearby tent, and emerged with the Megascorp from earlier, recovered completely. "Calls itself Creeper. Say it owes the debt of gratitude to you."
Alban then asked, "It still remembers what happened with the bandits?"
"Likely, it say you free it from terrible masters. Therefore, it try to save you from Komodos. Now, it want join your group."
"It does?" Kristine asked.
"It does, I suggest you lets it. It would be big help in wilds," the Krettin Thuro responded.
"Well, I guess that settles it," Alban said, "As long as it can feed itself, it's coming with us."
The Megascorp seemed to react positively to Alban's remark and scurried alongside the group. Alban looked at the group, and said, "Let's get moving." The group set out to leave the village and return to the wilderness.
<Insert Galiana joining the group>
Chapter 4: ...A soldier on my own...Edit
The quintet continued through the wilderness, trekking over plains, crossing rivers, traversing forests. Finally, a few days later, they set up camp next to a river. The cold of winter began to set in full force. Fortunately, among the supplies given to the group by the Krettin Thuro was a small tent. Finding a small overhang, Alban set it up in a way to enclose the overhang, turning it into a shelter large enough for the whole group. The Megascorp, Creeper, just kept watch outside, guarding the tent from would-be predators.
Kristine was fast asleep, while Aria was going through another of her parents' tomes outside, enduring the cold so she didn't take up space. As she was reading, someone came up behind her. "Hey, why are you out here alone?"
Startled, Aria nearly jumped as she turned around. "Oh, Alban," she replied, seeing who it was, "Studying my parents' books, why?"
"Why not read in the shelter? It's getting cold out here," Alban replied.
Aria shook her head. "I'll probably take up too much space, and I didn't want to disturb Kristine."
Alban laughed a little. "You're not gonna disturb Kristine: she's a heavy sleeper. As for taking up space....doesn't look like you would. I won't be going to bed for a while, so I wouldn't mind if you spread your books out a little."