Chapter 1: The Beginning Will Ravenswood woke up from a sleep devoid of any dreams with a smile on his face. Not because of anything that was happening that day or because he had […]
Chapter 1: The Beginning
Will Ravenswood woke up from a sleep devoid of any dreams with a smile on his face. Not because of anything that was happening that day or because he had a good sleep, but because he smelled something: the sweet scent of frying bacon. He jumped out of bed, dressed himself quickly, jammed on his boots, and ran downstairs so hard he practically flew. He lived in a small house, in a room only a couple feet wide with three beds in it. One was for his grandma, Em. He also had a small drawer, half of which was his, the other half occupied by his adopted sister. Downstairs was slightly bigger, with a couple of small lamps lighting up a kitchen and a table, as well as a door at the end. His grandma, who was standing over their small stove with a frying pan in hand, gave him an eye.
“Don’t stomp around like that!” she said with a scowl on her face. “You’re going to break your neck, or worse, the stairs!”
“Sorry Grandma,” said Will, walking as fast as he could down the rickety old steps. Will was a bright young boy of fifteen, with curly black hair and brown eyes. He was a perfectly average height for his age, but he was abnormally strong, due to his years and years of training to be a soldier in the army. Grandma Em was shorter than Will but she made up for it by being twice as strong as him. She wore a white dress and blue apron at all times and possessed hand wraps that she used to fight things.
“Why do we have bacon? We’ve never had bacon without something special happening,” asked Will. She threw her hands up in the air in anger, somehow not flinging fried pork through the air in the process.
“Do you need me to memorize your schedule for you? It’s your graduation day.” Will’s heart skipped a beat. He had completely forgotten in the night. He went to the Lightbringer School for Pawns, where he was training to be either a Knight, Pawn, or a ROOK (Royal Officer Of the King). The final exam was to decide whether or not he got promoted or stayed a pawn. He was one of the best in his class, but because he moved up two grades, he was worried that he was too young to beat everyone else in the final exam (a giant free-for-all battle between all of the students). His grandma must have seen his worried expression because she took the pan off of the stove and hugged him.
“Oh, don’t worry. There’s a reason you moved up two grades, right? You’ll be fine!” She smiled deviously. “Then, you’ll get a good job and give me a share of the earnings, like your sister did.” Will groaned. His older sister Mira was probably one of the most innovative Bishops (or witches) to ever exist, revolutionizing magic and getting a lot of money from making weird, magic, robot things. She figured out how to make fireballs and plants by combining machines and magic, so he could never hear the end of it from Em.
“Now, eat your bacon,” she said, pouring a third of the pan’s contents onto Will’s plate. Will picked at his mere thirty-three percent of the pan, and as the stairs creaked, he was severely reminded as to why he could only have that portion. Rogue, his other sister, creaked her way down the stairs and, before sitting down in her chair, grabbed three pieces of bacon and tossed them into her mouth.
“Good morning, dear,” said Grandma Em, her rough demeanor deteriorating at Rogue’s sudden entrance.
“Morning, Grandma Em. Morning, Will,” she said, swinging her feet onto the table. Will twisted to do the same, but Grandma Em raised her eyebrow at him, and he sadly twisted back to his normal seat. Not too long ago, at the beginning of the year, when the last blizzard of the spring was raging, Will found the shivering Rogue on a street corner, only about as old as Will and only remembering her name. Will was wary of her suit of stealth pawn armor that she possessed, and her unnaturally purple eyes, but he still brought her home, and his Grandma Em said she could stay for a couple days to recuperate and perhaps remember something. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and months turned to years, until it seemed like she was a real part of the family. Grandma Em still treated her as a guest, however, so Rogue could get away with anything she wanted. She had incredibly pale skin, like she spent all of her time underground, and raven-black hair, which fell down to a little bit below her neck.
“How’d my little brother sleep?” she asked, licking the bacon grease off of her fingers.
“Fine,” Will replied. “How’d my short sister sleep?” he replied, cutting up and finishing a strip of his bacon. Rogue’s face turned slightly red at the nickname. Rogue’s biggest ammunition against Will was the fact that when they used experimental age testing technology to help find out who she was, it said she was forty-two. While this was obviously not true, she still addressed Will as her little brother. Will’s only retort was that she was about a foot underneath the average height of a Pithosian girl, which she was quite embarrassed by. Grandma Em sat down next to Will, and chomped down her bacon with almost as much gusto as Rogue. Suddenly, a miniature owl dove in through the chimney and spread its wings, slowing down to a halt in front of Grandma Em and lying face up on the table, spread eagled, with legs curving outward to form a face-shaped arc.
“Ah, it’s Mira’s messenger,” she said, putting it up to her ear and plugging her other. Will’s eyes widened.
“Mira’s coming? Today?” Will went back to being terrified for his final exam. Rogue, in contrast, seemed to be very excited for this.
“Wait, Mira’s coming today? Finally, I get to see her again! We can discuss all the best ways to torment Will!” Grandma Em seemed to not hear that. Three days after Rogue came, Mira graduated and left for Atsbury, the capital. Rogue, however, only needed three days to start treating Mira like family. Rogue looked over at Will’s face and furrowed her brow.
“What’s wrong? I thought you might be sort of happy to see your sister again after…” she counted on her fingers, “What is it, three whole years? Is there something happening today?” Will rung his hands.
“Yeah. Final exams for Lightbringer’s.” He shook his hands. For the first time since he had known her, Rogue almost looked surprised, but she quickly switched back to her aloof personality.
“Yeesh, sucks for you. Anyway, I’m gonna go stay in my room and have no worries about anything,” she said, but as she headed to the stairs, Grandma Em grabbed the cuff of her shirt.
“Now, young lady,” said Grandma Em, ignoring the fact that she was supposedly forty-two. “I don’t make you do much in this house, because you’re a guest, but since you’re becoming a part of the family, you have to do some things.” Rogue looked horrified at the suggestion of having to do something against her own will. Will pumped his arm under the table.
“L-like what?” she asked, voice trembling.
“You’re coming with me…” Grandma Em said. Rogue closed her eyes and gulped.
“To Will’s final exam.” Rogue sighed and looked relieved.
“For an hour.” Rogue shrieked and ran up the stairs, quick as a fox. Grandma Em laughed, pinching her nose.
“What are we going to do with that girl, Will?” Suddenly, a large boom sounded across the town.
“Oh no,” Grandma Em rolled up her sleeves. “That sounds like trouble. Come on, Will. Help your grandma kill a monster, won’t you?”
Grandma Em was Greenset’s resident monster hunter, a role given to her due to her successes in some war, but recently, Will had become old enough to start fighting monsters with her. This was especially useful because the monster attacks were getting much worse, and thus more dangerous for an old woman like Em to do on her own. Will grabbed his glaive, magic pendant, and armor (haphazardly strapped on in his haste), and then ran outside. The town square of Greenset was usually a very beautiful place, especially in the fall, with a massive statue of a goddess smiling serenely in the center. Many shops lined the square, including Grandma Em’s Vegetable Shop and Uncle Ben’s Butcher, the former’s bitter rival. There were also many gardens and trees lining the square’s edge in the small spaces between the narrowly stuffed shops.
However, today was a little different. The gardens and trees (not to mention a few stores) were blazing with fire, and the usually quiet and nice goddess statue had the apparent culprit curled around it: a giant, horned snake. Will had seen many snakes in his life. Some green, some blue, and a rare few, red. But he had never seen a snake this color before. He wasn’t sure he had ever seen anything this color before. It was almost like it was the color of pure shadows, a completely, purely, opaque, black-ish purple he had never seen before. It didn’t burn his eyes and it didn’t hurt, but Will still felt like it was something that he was not supposed to look at, something that forced his eyes to avert themselves. It was like staring into an endless, horrifyingly empty void. However, it was still destroying the town, so Will cracked his neck and started to run over to his grandmother. She had seemed to have wrapped her fists with some padded cloth, but otherwise, she was still wearing the same blue dress and white apron that she had on at breakfast. Suddenly, she jumped up into the air, almost eight feet up, and delivered a massive punch to the snake’s head. Will could hear an audible crack as one of the horns of the reptile crashed to the ground. Grandma Em landed, but the serpent had recovered faster than anticipated and it shot out its cranium at the old woman, fangs bared. Will, realizing his grandma would never make it out in time, gripped his magic pendant tightly and ripped it off the chain, smashing it into pieces on the cobblestone streets of Greenset. However, instead of laying there, broken and useless, the shards produced a flash of light, and a horse suddenly appeared underneath Will. He started to flawlessly gallop towards the snake, and just before it injected its deadly venom into the aged body of Grandma Em, Will scooped her up and whisked her to safety.
“Oh boy, this one’s a bit harder to kill than some others,” said Grandma Em. “It took a direct punch to the head and survived, not to mention almost breaking my fist.” Will shivered at the thought of something that could hurt the great Grandma Em. Suddenly, a shout sounded across the square as Rogue jumped out of her window and sank her rapier into the snake’s neck. However, instead of red blood pouring out, liquid darkness seemed to gush from the wound. It leaked over to a couple of flowers, and its touch seemed to suck the life out of the poor plants. Rogue rode on her blade down the coil of the serpent’s long, thin body and touched down to the ground, unscathed. Will rode his horse up to Rogue, who hopped on behind Grandma Em.
“Thanks, sweetie,” said Em. “That was pretty good.” Rogue flashed a grin.
“Hey, incredibly fun violence is incredibly fun violence. Now that I’ve come, I think we’ve almost got this thing!” After Rogue said that, the snake shook itself and strained. The shadows around it started to creep towards the serpent, climbing up its tubular torso and filling in the cracks and cuts left by their collective efforts. It ended with a new horn poking out and completely growing back.
“That’s really bad,” said Will, his spirits sinking. But then, a streak of black flew through the air, a staff underneath it. A Bishop, wearing a mask that was said to magnify their power tenfold, looked around in their belt and then held a miniscule, glass bottle into the air. Suddenly, the snake started. It looked distressed. Then, with a great vacuum sound, the entire monster was pulled back, squashed and stretched into a tiny form until it flew into the bottle. The mage quickly corked the container, screwed it tight, and then maneuvered their flying staff through the air down to the ground. They jumped off of the branch and summoned it into their hand with a burst of magic. The cloaked figure threw off their hood and took off their mask, revealing the puffy ponytail, huge, hazel eyes, dragon-head tipped staff, and big, oxidized-copper goggles that Will had known since he was only a little baby.
“Hey, little bro,” she said. Mira Ravenswood had returned.