AS Stormraiders #5: Ring of the Spirit pt.1


To the far east on the Everfrost Isles there are tales of a place only spoken of in hushed whispers. Whispers of a crypt hidden beneath the snow. The endless labyrinthine corridors causing any unfortunate enough to find it to never escape. Only a single being is said to dwell within it…the mighty minotaur Baravor. A single-minded creature who exists only to expand his crypt. Some say that the labyrinth walls have been stained with so much blood that the scent remains constantly. Others say that the horrid stench is blood left from those lost in the crypt and now added to its ever growing residency. But the prize for those who don’t perish is the Ring of the Spirit. A relic that allows its wearer to become like a spirit and let no obstacle stand in their way…

With the aid of one of the Dragons who lived in Endymion, it was easy for Lei and Rai to arrive at the Kingdom of Celestia. It sat on the central landmass of the Everfrost Isles though it’s rule extended as far north as Yukima and as far south as the foot of the Snowy Mountains where the Werewolves lived. The stone walls that surrounded Celestia Castle were truly massive. Both to keep out would-be invaders but also the unrelenting snow. Its inhabitants were a noble and proud but at the same time harsh and unforgiving. As cold as the snow that covers their home, they were elitists well known for seeing themselves as superior to the other races and kingdoms. Followers of the Seiryan religion, they believe in the God Dragon Thanatos. Denying the Seven Sages existence and believing them to just be powerful spellcasters. Were it not for their religion they’d likely hate the Dragons as well. The only sub-human species they’ll tolerate are the Werewolves who act as their Elite Soldiers.

With all this being taken into consideration; Lei took some extra precautions to keep herself and Rai safe. Most Celestians wore suits and dresses but if anyone saw her skin and eyes or anything of Rai there’d likely be trouble. They wore full length hooded cloaks that fell just above the eyes over wool clothing. She hoped nobody would try and question them too heavily and just assume they were travelers. Getting within the Kingdom was easy, whether or not things went south from there was all up to fate…

“Do I have to do this?” Rai asks rubbing his head. To keep his heritage hidden he had to wear a hat beneath the hood to keep his ears pressed down. His tail similarly had to be kept bound around his waist like a belt so nobody would notice.

“I know it’s uncomfortable Rai but this is the only way to keep you safe.” She tries to reassure him. She knew the risk when they agreed to come here.

“Okay…” he replies sadly.

“The sooner we find the crypt the sooner we can-” She says getting stopped by a pair of knights before finishing her sentence. Both of their armor was heavily plated and shone a bright silvery-white. Its smooth design gave it a very rounded feeling. The taller of the pair stood towering over Lei at 7 feet tall with piercing yellow eyes and white buzzcut hair. He had all the trademark signs of a Werewolf.

“Halt, what business brings you here travelers?” The Celestian knight asks. His accent prim and proper.

“We were going to see relatives in Yukima. We’re just stopping here to rest.” Lei lies while motioning Rai behind her. She could feel Rai shaking as he clung to her. He was engaged in an intense staredown with the Werewolf Knight. “I-is something wrong?”

“Aye, my comrade in arms said you two had a smell about you. I’ve not seen his nose be wrong.” The Celestian Knight says.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Excuse us, we need to get to the inn before it’s filled.” Lei tries to walk away to stop when Rai’s arm is grabbed by the Werewolf.

“Hey! Let go of me!” He struggles to get his arm free to no avail.

“Leave him alone!” Lei pleads.

“He stinks of Trelza.” The Werewolf snarls. Even without working with the Celestians, the Werewolves and Trelza had hostile relations. Simply because one has catlike features and the other is a species of men who could become wolves at will.

“Nuh uh! You’re the smelly one!” Rai shoots back sticking his tongue out.

“Of course you were a Murk. I could tell from your accent.” He sneers as he quickly pulls down Lei’s hood. “Should’ve known you were harboring a dirty Sub-Mon.” Not even a second after finishing his sentence he’s struck with a slap across the face.

“NEVER call him that!” She shouts defensively.

“Assaulting a knight of Celestia is punishable by public execution.” He says rubbing his face. “If you weren’t a Murk I’d consider keeping you.”

Before things could spiral further out of control the gentle sound of a harp can be heard over the bustling of the town. The snow began to fall slowly as the air filled with Aether. A Werewolf wearing a dark blue nobles jacket over a white dress shirt, black dress pants held up by a black leather belt, and matching shoes approaches. Despite his muscular frame his face was soft and gentle. His long straight white hair fell down to his shoulders softly.

All around me..

(Please…) Snow is falling…

(Don’t…) Never ending…

(Judge…) Unrelenting…

(Us…) Yet it’s my home…

(So…) Only place I’ve known…

The Aether sang in his presence.

Ly’ Jug the Merciful, Sage of Ice, had come to aid the siblings. While a vast majority of his time was spent meditating in isolation, he still acted as envoy between the Werewolf kingdom of Ly’ Enchina and Celestia. Traveling back and forth as needed to keep the peace. Despite being both envoy and Sage, their beliefs and feelings on sub-humans kept his status low. Even so, his presence still brought a mix of awe.…” The knight sighs. “What do you want Sage?” He asks mockingly. Ly’ Jug remains silent and approaches the group. “What?” Ly’ Jug remains silent, grabs the Knight and forces him to let go of Lei before turning to the Werewolf. He unhands Rai without a second thought. “If they do anything I swear on Thanatos we’ll have your head.” He threatens before leaving.

“Thank you.” Lei says calming down.

“Come.” Ly’ Jug says softly. His voice barely audible through the crowd and blowing wind.

The pair follows Ly’ Jug closely as he leads them to the inn. It’s walls made of the firm and sturdy wood that became synonymous with Crystopa to the south. The room they stayed in was relatively small. While they went all out to make their own homes presentable, Celestia cut corners when it came to the places non-natives would stay. Ideally, their stay would be quick.

“Zam said watch over you.” Ly’ Jug speaks in a slow fragment as if in deep thought. “Not safe for us…Safe for you.”

“He warned us but I didn’t know it’d be like this.” It was her and Rai’s first time in the Everfrost Isles and she was sorely unprepared.

“Day or night monsters rule here. I’ll lead to Crypt. You find your way out.” Ly’ Jug turns to the pair but his eyes seem to focus beyond them.

“Thank you.” Lei replies. Her eyes focused on Rai who was staring at himself in the mirror. He removed his hat but his ears remained low and his eyes saddened.

“What’s wrong little one?” Ly’ Jug asks.

“Am I a Sub-Mon?” He asks putting his hat back on and looking at the floor.

Sub-Mon was one of the worst insults one could be called in all of Zeratal. The title of Sub-Human was given to the non-human sentient beings. The Elves, Dragons, Faun, and Chorsingh fell under this. As did the half-breed descendants like the Aizr, Merfolk, and Drakes. A Sub-Mon meant you were a descendant of the mindless monsters that plagued Zeratal. A creature with even less mental capacity than a monster and was just an abomination. Many who disliked the Trelza called them this because of their questionable origins. While the Aizr, Merfolk, Drakes, and Kyumiho could be directly linked to one of the major species the Trelza had no such heritage. They possessed traits that suggest they’re another species of half-breed descendants. Yet there are no known species on Zeratal that could’ve genetically led to them. The closest option being full Monsters.

Lei walks over and hugs Rai. “You’re perfect just the way you are.” She says warmly removing his hat.

“You are exactly as the Elementals intended.” Ly’ Jug adds with a gentle smile. A stark contrast to the werewolf from earlier. His activates his personal spell Feraruan, with allowing him and others to feel what others nearby are feeling. With it Rai can feel the concern and love emanating from the pair.

“Okay.” Rai gives a small smile before hugging Lei back.

“You too are as the Elementals intended.” Ly’ Jug says to Lei who smiles back. “We leave whenever you’re ready.”

“You ready Rai?”

“Uh huh.” He nods.

“Then stay close. The nights here are more dangerous than the day.” Ly’ Jug warns before they prepare to leave.

Next Issue

Aetherius Saga Stormraiders Relic 2- Ring of the Spirits pt.2

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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