James yawned and sat up inside his crimson colored tent that he had set up the previous day. Thinking through the events that had brought him to where he was, half a mile up into the mountains, trekking towards a small ocean town, he could barely believe it. It seemed like something out of a game, to be honest. James shivered in the cold and thought back to his uncle's funeral, the events that had brought him to where he was.
The casket lay open on a table at the front of the morgue's entrance hall, an unfamiliar man standing in front of a podium left of the casket, reading off of a large stack of paper. "I, Blake Daroy, being of sound mind and body, hereby write my last will and testament. My only regret, is that I could not read it myself." The man in a suit continued to read the legal jargon off of the paper, looking up two or three times. James couldn't remember.
In the real world, James wiped away a tear that had been forming. Blake had always been his favorite uncle, a prankster by heart, always having a sort of twitch of magic in his eyes, and his passing had been sudden and tragic. James cursed the driver who had hit his uncle with a car, and then thought back to the funeral again.
James looked at the casket through blurry and red eyes, half expecting his uncle to laugh and sit up inside of it. Of course, he didn't, and the man in a suit continued to read. "To my brother, Harold, I leave my house in Fernat. To my sister, Felicity, I leave my car and my almost empty bank accounts. To my best friend, Mason, I leave my large collection of coins and gag gifts." The names went on and on for nearly ten minutes, before he came to James. "And to my favorite nephew, James, I leave the family's farm in Windfall. I love you all very much, and I hope to see you in the afterlife." The reader looked up and cleared his throat. "Here ends the last will and testimony of Blake Daroy. I thank you all for attending this funeral today, and we shall bury him tomorrow at dawn. Is there any final words anyone would like to say about Mr. Daroy?"
He looked around, and, seeing no hands or people rising, nodded in the fashion of somebody who wants a meeting to finish, and said "I hope you all have wonderful days, and I bid you all farewell." After that, people had left quickly, the reader handing out keys and deeds to people as they passed by. When James had moved past, he had placed both a train ticket to a semi-urban town called Rentrisel, which was fifteen miles east of the Silver Mountains, as the were collectively called, and the deed to a place called Adler Farm.
James had recognized the name. It had gone around the family for generations, the farmland having been bought by James' great-great-great-four more greats grandfather perhaps three or four centuries ago, and remaining in their possession throughout poverty, three tornadoes, and two droughts. His ancestors were simply too stubborn (Or perhaps, too sentimental) to sell the place. James' great grandfather had been the first Daroy to ever leave the farm, but had kept the land no matter what.
James had used the train ticket perhaps two months later, after selling his meager possessions for food and needing a break from the large city of Wattana. The ride was roughly thirty miles and took nearly twelve hours to complete by train, but James had brought his car for the next half of the journey.
After resting for a night in the Shady Trees Motel, Inn, and Bar, he had driven the fifteen miles to the silver mountains, and then two more through them until his car had suddenly stopped working. It wasn't all too cold, perhaps twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit, but that normally wouldn't be enough to break his car down. Checking the engine, James had seen that nothing was broken, and none of his tires had popped. The engine simply wasn't working anymore. From there, James had traveled four more miles through the steep caverns and ridges of Dragon Mountain, one of the taller mountains in the jagged Silver Mountain Range, until the sun had reached the last few minutes of light, and then had set up the tent he had luckily brought along, sleeping up in the mountains for that night. Now, James had a harder job: Making what meager breakfast he could and getting the tent down.
Eventually, he had decided on two granola bars and some water from the flask he had, and went to sit on a sturdy-looking ridge to eat and look out at the gracefully sloping land before him, which was being lit up bit by bit from the sun glowing behind his back. James smirked and took another bite out of his granola bar, knowing full well that he would love the town of Windfall even before he got there.
Lucian woke up in a small wooden shack, hidden away in an alcove just outside Heron Bay. Stretching his arms to the roof of the shack, brushing it with his fingertips, the six foot two man felt his joints loosen and he sighed as he stood up. He glanced around the dark shack, which still hadn't quite been touched by light, and walked over to a square wooden table his father had made a year or two before, stopping to take a box of cereal and a bowl out of a cupboard in a miniature kitchenette in the corner opposite his table. Sitting down and pouring himself a bowl of dry cereal, Lucian thought through a list of his favorite topics: Mental debates. Currently, his thoughts were on the afterlife.
'Obviously there's an afterlife,' the part of him that was mostly an optimist said. 'Where would the souls of the dead go otherwise?'
'To children being born at the same time as their death,' a rational part of him thought in response. 'Otherwise, an afterlife would be filled up decades ago and people would stop dying.'
'What about a degradation in the afterlife, underworld, or whatever it is?' the optimist responded. 'The oldest souls would fade out of existence as people who remember them die. Without memory, there is no existence.'
A part of him that was used to irony responded dryly as Lucian finished his cereal. 'Really? A 'heroes never die' approach to things? Come on man. Be original at least.'
Standing up, the main part of Lucian's mind, the one that was the least optimistic and the least sarcastic, responded. 'Maybe, like most people believe, there's a god up there, living in heaven and all the good people go there, the bad ones going to a hell.'
Lucian mentally scoffed at this. 'Ha! Yeah, right. You don't believe in a god, remember Lucian? Never forget how boring of a life you've had, how tragic.' That comment brought on a fit of giggle-ish laughs. He knew his life had never been too bad, and he enjoyed his task of fishing pretty much all day, every day. It might seem to grow dull after a while, right? Wrong. And, well, yes actually.
Lucian did it for his father, the one person in his life he had ever loved. He had been taught from an early age the joys of fishing, and had been taught to swim almost earlier than he could walk. His father had been one of the most liked people in town, having supplied food, humor, and an honest opinion to anyone who asked. It was a fun job, working alongside his father.
Unfortunately, two years ago, Gerard Hert, Lucian's father, had gone out fishing as a storm rolled in. That had been the biggest, and last, mistake he had made in his life. Lucian had mourned for five months, going out and fishing for days on end sometimes. His father's friends had even said he might be attempting to kill himself the way his father died, doing what he lived at the wrong time. After his mourning period had ended, Lucian had been a new man. More solemn, quiet, and focused on helping others than he had been previously.
Lucian grabbed his fishing rod and exited the home his father had built for their broken family (Lucian's mother had passed away in childbirth with her only son) and walked to Heron Bay, where the S.S. Maria was moored. His father always said he had named it after Lucian's mother, and Lucian believed him. He didn't change the name, simply to honor his father in any way he could. He smiled slightly at the memories of going out with his father, and started pushing the small rowboat out into the bay, jumping in after he couldn't touch the ground when walking anymore, and grabbing both of the oars that went along with the boat.
After pushing the boat forwards to the center of the salty bay, Lucian paused in his rowing. Something was off, he could feel it. Something big was coming, and the sea knew it.
Abigail's eyes opened slowly, revealing the fact that she had her forehead against the ground. Oops. She wasn't supposed to fall asleep when it was her turn for prayer duty. Abigail stood up from a kneeling position in front of the Seasons Pond, her originally white robe covered in grass stains. Pushing up the overly large flower headband she was forced to wear, she yawned and turned around. She couldn't remember what had happened after nine P.M. last night, probably because she had passed out. Normally she would have stayed up until eleven, praying to the Harvest Goddess, the protector of Windfall.
Personally, Abigail had never seen the Goddess in person, but her father, Harold Veran, was high priest and said that they needed to pray once or twice a week to keep the Harvest Goddess happy. Unfortunately, Harold always made Abigail and the other apprentices pray every day of the week. Thankfully, there were fourteen of them, seven boys and seven girls. That meant that each priest or priestess only had to thank the goddess with each morning meal for two weeks, at which point they would have to stay outside for a full night, no matter the weather. That always ruined somebody's day if it was raining.
Glancing around, Abigail took a deep breath in, inhaling the light mist and scent of morning dew that hung in wispy clouds all around her. She sighed and breathed the air out, and then brought it in again. It had been a daily ritual for her specifically to do this, cleansing her lungs as well as her spirit with morning dew.
Suddenly, the wind picked up, blowing the mists west out to sea. That was when Abigail realized how chilly it was. The robes fit like a bed gown of a size too large and were made out of a silky material, both facts that made her cold and damp from the wet chills that always seemed to surround Seasons Pond.
Gripping her shoulders, Abigail began to walk down the side of the hill the pond was perched on, eager to get out of the cold and back to the warmth of the Harvest Temple. From the top of Seasons Hill, where she was currently located, it would take her roughly ten to twenty minutes to travel down the well worn and uneven stone trail and reach the Temple, not to mention how slow she would have to be to make sure she didn't fall down the path, seeing as it was slippery from the damp mist. Abigail sighed and stopped at the top of the path, inches away from beginning the decline towards the brown roofed, white walled building known as the Harvest Temple.
Was it truly worth risking life and limb, traveling down a path that might severely injure her, if not worse? Faced with that, or her father's wrath of showing up dirty to morning prayers, she decided to risk the path. Abigail took a careful step onto the now immensely obvious slope, and then another, farther down. Soon, she was walking at a pace akin to that of a baby's crawling speed, moving down the path with utmost caution.
About a quarter of the way down the mountain, Abigail met a welcome feeling: The warmth of the sun against her back. She paused for a moment and gave a prayer to the Harvest Goddess, thanking her for the reprieve from dampness she had been given.
Morgana was skipping in curiously delightful glee, the ominous shadows of the trees looming overhead. No sane person would live in Abyss Woods, but Morgana wasn't technically sane anyways. She was a witch, and she lived in a large purple manor that was always covered by a purple haze due to Morgana's aunt's magic. She glanced back the way she came, knowing full well first light would arrive soon and her aunt Gwendolen would be shouting for her to come back any minute now. Ah well.
Morgana stopped in her skipping, in a position that one might see if you paused a movie of a schoolyard with skipping children in it whilst one was midair. Turning slowly, Abigail's purple hair fluttered down from behind her and came to a silent rest at the center of her neck, as it usually did.
"Well, well well," Morgana said, her voice a malicious, mischievous, and wicked sound that seemed to echo throughout the nearly silent woods, "What do we have here?"
In front of her, was a large lizard, a plump newt to be precise. "A newt! Come here, my little buddy." Morgana reached out with her hand, sharp fingernails that had been painted purple flashing in one of the final rays of moonlight. Then, her hand whipped out and grabbed hold of the newt before it could move. "You'll do nicely for auntie's pot." Morgana grinned maliciously, and then heard a sound piercing through the woods just as much as her own.
"Morgana Agathan! You come back here, right now! Dawn will soon be upon us!" A screechy and scratchy voice shot through the woods, a noise that could belong to one and only one person: Gwendolen Agathan. "We've got a reputation of being evil witches to take care of, you know!" After that, a sharp cackle emanated throughout the woods, and Morgana sighed.
"Yes auntie. Coming!" Morgana traveled back down the path, skipping and humming a song like version of Mark Twain's poem, Jabberwocky, holding the newt tightly in her right hand as she moved through the dark trees.ns 22.214.171.124da2