Chapter 1- Compassionate Wind

A gentle breeze blew across the highlands of North Poluyim. The small farm town, Cider Village, sat next to the Colsana Ocean. The mix of air from the farmland and sea made for a unique mix of scents, not that the Urgoat and Urvine livestock minded. The Highlands were a natural border from the most threatening monsters that remained inland. Cider Village thrived by trading the Urgoat Wool, Urvine milk, eggs from Chickens, and local crops. Contrary to the Southern Fields they rely on eating seafood over their own livestock.

The sound of a melancholy harps tune echoes through the highlands as a young man observes Cider Village in the distance. The young man, Jon, sat atop the hills and sketched the village in a sketchbook. His short spiked brown hair was parted in the middle over his silver-framed glasses covering blue eyes. A sleeveless white hooded tunic with golden trim and an open chest covered his lean frame. The opening extended to his lower abdomen to meet his leather belt. His white pants were baggy but his tan leather banded Caligae firmly held them in place. The worn and weathered sandals had served him well for many years roaming the land.  Leather armbands protected his right forearm. By his side was a small white Carbuncle, A fox-like creature clear blue eyes and a red gem embedded in its forehead. A rare species was said to have a great connection with the Aether few could match. The white Carbuncle climbs onto Jons’ shoulder as he smiles in response and pets it gently.

“Do you like it?” Jon asks his pet. Tella the White was his loyal Familiar for almost a decade. It was coming up on the 11th year of their meeting and she was rarely far from Jon. “This was where I was born.” he stands, closes his sketchbook, and puts it on the back right side of his belt opposite a holding bag that sat on the left. “It’s a nice place. You’ll have other animals you can play and run around with.”

Purrrr. Tella replies to Jon jumping from his shoulder.

“I wonder if they’ll remember me…it’s been a long time…” Jon thinks aloud. He was 25 years old currently and the last time he was in Cider was at the tender age of 5. It’d be a miracle if they remembered him by look…a lot had transpired over the years…Jon forgets his worries as Tella rubs against his leg gently as if to show she sensed this worry. “You’re right Tella. I’m sure everything will be fine.”

With a smile on his face, Jon continues his trek home with Tella by his side. The sun shone brightly in the clear skies. After a 20 minute walk, he arrives at Cider but finds no one in sight. The chicken, Urgoat, and Urvine remained in their pens unattended. The Urvine mooed anxiously as if something had spooked them before Jons arrival.

“Hello?” Jon asks as he searches for people. There wasn’t any sign of battle which put his mind at ease. Although the quiet deeply concerned him. “See anything Tella?” he looks down at his furred companion. Tella lets out a low purr and looks towards the second floor of the barn. A villager was hiding in the barn watching the two. But before Jon can say anything they quickly close the window and hide. “I’ve seen that look before…” Jon thought to himself. He closes his eyes and slowly takes a deep breath. The wind begins to blow and he glows a faint blue. Kneeling to pray, the glow brightens like a beacon. Opening his eyes once more, the wind stops, and he stands. “Somethings disturbed the Aether.” Jon says to Tella. His eyes focused towards the ocean. He could sense something amiss from the nearby cove and moves to investigate.

Neith’s Cove was located behind Cider Village and was one of the seven locations named after an Elemental, specifically the Elemental of Water. It was blessed with a strong Aetherial presence and many Mages and Spellcasters would make a pilgrimage to this place. Jon hadn’t seen it for so long he forgot what it looked like. The clear water revealed the coral and sea life below its waves. The rocks that separated it from the ocean were smooth and inviting. The water was comforting to Jon and always relaxed him. With Tella by his side, he sits by the shoreline so the water just barely misses touching his feet with each wave. Tella twitches her ears and turns back to the entrance of the cove. Her large ears could hear something approaching.

“I know Tella.” Jon replies calmly. He was well aware they weren’t alone the second they entered Neith’s Cove. But he had no reason to be scared for his safety.

Hidden beneath the sand was a group of large pseudo-humanoid crabs that now stood between Jon and the entrance to the cove. While their torsos appeared humanoid, they walked on 6 powerful crab legs and had devastating pincers instead of arms. They were a species that normally dwelled in the Colsana Archipelago to the west or further out in the Colsana Ocean. However, it wasn’t unheard of that they choose to hunt along Poluyim’s shores. The largest of the Crustavo had a dark green shell and stood at the front of his brown and red hued compatriots. His right arm was an especially massive pincer for decapitating anyone unlucky enough to get caught in its grasp.

“You’ve come to the wrong place outsider.” The Crustavo Elder gurgles through its mandibles. Each step he takes towards Jon caused the sand to jump slightly from the impact.

“I’m sorry.” Jon apologizes with a quick bow. “But I’m not an outsider. This is my hometown but I don’t recall you ever being here in the past. But I guess I wasn’t here since I was a kid so maybe you moved in after…”

“Let me enlighten you.” his pincer rises and presses against the bridge of Jon’s glasses. “This village is ours now. You provide us with tributes and we’ll protect you from the Yagyu Clan. Otherwise…” he pauses, lowers his pincer, and opens it so with the slightest motion he could behead Jon. “Accidents do happen…”

“I’d rather us not have to fight at all.” Jon responds casually. “Especially here. The cove’s so nice so I’d really not want to ruin it with needless violence.”

“That’s not how the world works.” the Crustavo Elder scoffs. “So what’ll it be?” For a moment, the Crustavo Elder sees the image of an overwhelming wave that’d crush him in an instant. But as suddenly as the image appeared, it disappeared. When his senses return, he realizes Jon not only was glowing with Aether but had clear blue eyes. The sight causes him to put distance between himself and his would-be captive. “You’re a Mage?!” He exclaims in shock. The Crustavo had poor vision outside of water and missed subtle details. Though most Mages had trademark tans and ornate tattoos, their most noticeable feature were their blue eyes. Had he noticed Jons blue eyes, he’d have gone with a different approach. The excitement of a challenge made his blood boil. “Kekekekeke!” he cackles. “You caught me by surprise Mage. You air breathers all tend to look alike…Too bad I know how to deal with your kind.” the Aether begins to build around him. Jon may be a Mage but he wasn’t the only one who could use magic. “Lotnar!” the Crustavo Elder exclaims. He then takes a deep breath, leans back with his arms outstretched and chest puffed out, and unleashes a mighty wail. “WRYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!” His spell and cry reached the Aether and it began to build in one spot within the ocean. The water receding from the shore towards it. The Aether congregates into one spot and the water spirals into the sky, taking a serpentine shape. Jon watches in shock and awe while Tella growls fiercely.

“A Leviathan?!” Jon exclaims surprised. Lotnar was a tier 1 summoning spell but even so the skill and ability needed to perform it was immense.

“This is the power my people possess! You oppose us and the Leviathan will drown you below the waves!” the Crustavo Elder declares triumphantly.

“Please, we don’t have to do this.” Jon says warmly turning his attention back towards his enemy.

“You brought this on yourself Mage.” he replies. Unable to deter him, Jon closes his eyes and pray. “That’s it Human! Pray to the Elementals! They will not answer your pleas!” he taunts Jon. “Remove this filth Leviathan!” The Leviathan does as it’s told and breaths out a torrent of water towards Jon. The impact created a massive pillar of water that flies skyward. The amount of force was enough to tear through a mountain. “Kekekekekeke! Mages are always so arrogant.” he gloats moments before the pillar of water subsides and reveals Jon standing unfazed and glowing with Aether. He can’t find the words to express his shock and remains silent.

“Like you said, you brought this on yourself.” Jon echoes. Looking towards the Leviathan it unleashes its next attack yet it has no effect on him. The Aether continues to surge around Jon as he walks into the cove until the water is up to his waist. “It’s over Leviathan…”

With its ranged attacks ineffective, Leviathan resorts to more primal methods. With all its strength it flies headfirst towards Jon with a tidal wave at its back. The Leviathan crashes into the cove and creates an even larger pillar of water than the first two attacks. The impact piercing the clouds and creating a rain shower in the process. The Crustavo Elder cackles at his victory but he pauses when the Aether begins to sing…

♫ Do you hear that sound? (Have no fear…) ♫
♫ Floating through the breeze? (I am here…) ♫
♫ Gentle voice so calm… (Always by your side…) ♫
♫ Guiding us through life… (There’s no need to cry…) ♫
♫ Remind me of the past… (If we part ways don’t despair…) ♫
♫ (Listen to the wind…I am there…) ♫

The rain calms and the Leviathan sits with its head hovering over the water. Jon’s hand rested gently on its snout as the ocean too became calm and tranquil. A quiet “No” escapes the Crustavo Elders mandibles at the unbelievable sight. His strongest summon and it was now as docile as a newborn calf.

Jon smiles gently, steps forward, and rests his head on Leviathans snout. “It’s okay, there’s no reason for us to fight. This Aether that corrupted you is no longer a part of you…You don’t have to harbor all this rage and malice any longer. Be at peace Leviathan.” Taking a step back, the Leviathan raises its head and dives back into the sea. The Aether that called it into being returned from whence it came.

“You…what did you do to my Leviathan!?” The Crustavo Elders voice was hoarse with rage.

“When I came here I could feel it. The disturbance in the Aether.” Jon says while returning to the shore. Tella rubbing against his leg in greeting. “Your blackened hearts and presence were tainting it. It let you control that Familiar but was ruining the purity of this place. If you could perform a summoning then that means you have great magic potential. You don’t have to use it to fight.”

“Who the hell are you?! You aren’t a normal Mage.”

“You’re right…I’m not. My name is Jon the Compassionate the Sage of Water.

Jons words silence the Cove. After the world was created, the Elementals wanted greatly to remain in the world and interact with their creations. But their power was too great and their presence risked needless conflict. So instead, each made a single child. A child who would inherit their power and their virtue. They’d have the most powerful connection with the Aether and effectively roam the land in their stead. Their children were the Sprites…individuals born and made of pure Aether. Although each had a unique physical form that would eventually perish. When they did another Sprite would be made to take their place keeping an ever-present cycle of reincarnation. These children were declared Sages, the children of the Elementals. Together, the Seven Sages were held in high esteem as legends and living gods. So much so that the Kingdoms had been in an arms race to gain their loyalty and by extension their powers. As the Sage of Water, Jon was the child of Neith and the water of Zeratal was his to command. With 90% of the planet submerged below the waves, this effectively made him the strongest of all Seven Sages.

 

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