This is an update of the first chapter. The original was 971 words long and had many flaws. I have made it longer and (hopefully) fixed said flaws.
Please note that the reviews made before April 2015 pertain to the old version.
Chapter 1: Fast Friendship
Athos sighed in dismay as, for the fiftieth time this week, he had to fell a horde of bandits. He had long, white hair that extended just past his shoulder blades and a beard that went half way down his torso. He was wearing blue robes under a thick, old-fashioned blue cloak. The millennium-old Archsage was searching the Nabata desert for long-forgotten secrets, which he had been doing since the Scouring ended.
The Nabata had not always been a wasteland. Once, in the ancient past, it was a great realm with a thriving culture. According to several texts, the desert had once housed some of the greatest sages and scholars ever to walk the Earth. The reason for its desolation was still in debate; the latest theory was that a group of dragons, jealous of the humans' abilities, laid it to waste, but Athos strongly believed that was a product of the Scouring and the emotions it brought upon humanity, not rational thought or research. The Archsage's personal belief was that the ancient sages became too powerful and the sheer amount of magic that was made manifest in the region caused the air and the land to destabilize. Some of his peers from before the Scouring, humans and dragons like, believed that it may have been more of a natural disaster – perhaps a large meteor or other astronomical body crashed onto the land, causing a cataclysmic explosion that rendered the land barren. Evidence was provided in the form of a giant crater located near the center of the desert. Athos once investigated the crater and used it as evidence for his own theory – there was a greater concentration of magical artifacts in that area, so it was possible that it had once been an experimentation zone and therefore was the source of the destabilization. As far as the Archsage knew, the true reason had never been found out, but he had been wandering alone for five hundred years and it was possible that someone, somewhere had discovered something. He doubted it, though, as he sensed humans still bore age-old prejudices and modern-day scholars virtually unanimously agreed that it was the cause of jealous dragons.
One day, Athos finally found something of substance… an ancient guide on how to make elder tomes! Only, it wasn't so ancient. In fact, it seemed as if it were written recently, yet it was in a language the Archsage thought to be all but extinct.
"Sir? Sorry to bother you, but I believe I dropped one of my belongings around here. It was a book written in an obscure language… have you seen it?" a green-haired man appeared. He wore a grey doublet and trousers under a black cape. The patterns, while simple, were elegant and the cloth was fine.
"Is this it?" Athos handed him the text.
"Ah, yes, thank you," the man bowed his head in respect.
"I must say, I found this text quite fascinating, as I didn't believe anyone alive other than myself knew this language. I've made tomes before, but the methods here are completely different than the ones I have developed. Did you write it?" the Archsage scratched his beard.
"As a matter of fact, I did. My name is Nergal; I'm a scholar of ancient magic and culture," the shaman said.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Nergal. I am Athos; my occupation mirrors your own."
"That's a fine name! Well met, Athos. I don't mean to pry, but what are you doing in a wasteland such as this?"
"I heard a rumor that this land was once home to a great civilization. I figured there may be some artifacts of value under these sands," Athos said. The Archsage knew that there was once a civilization there, as he was born in it (but hadn't visited since long before it was destroyed), and in truth was hoping to find some piece of his old home, but this Nergal fellow needn't know about it.
"I've heard the same rumor! It seems our purposes, not solely our occupations, are similar!" Nergal replied excitedly.
"Indeed they are. Shall we travel together then?"
"I'd like that. Any thoughts on what direction we should go?"
"Well, recently I began to sense a strong cluster of life energy northwest of here. I was heading there when I was accosted by a group of bandits."
"I know the location of which you speak; I already tried going there. The problem was, there seems to be a heavy enchantment around the area."
"There was a sandstorm – too strong to be a work of nature – surrounding the area. I tried lifting, or at least weakening the spell that created it, but I wasn't strong enough to do anything significant."
"Well, perhaps together we can figure out a way to break through."
"Perhaps, but that was some pretty strong magic; I dare say it may have been draconic in origin."
"If that is the case, I have a solution," Athos' lips curled upward slightly as he pulled out his legendary tome, Forblaze. It might have lost much of its power during the Ending Winter, but the Archsage could still feel an immense amount of energy radiating from it. He handed the book to Nergal so he could inspect it; naturally, the scholar was awestruck by its might.
"This is some tome… but… it's fire-based! I don't see how it could affect the sands," Nergal frowned.
"The weapon was designed to slay dragons," Athos took the tome back and returned it to his cloak, "if the enchantment surrounding the area is truly draconic in origin, one shot from the tome should be able to weaken, if not altogether break the enchantment. Besides, sand-filled or not, storms are still wind-based magic, so I'll have an advantage. The only remaining obstacle after that would be a simple, natural sandstorm which I have no doubt we can clear."
"Hmm, it's worth a shot. I'd be willing to try it. Are you capable of using warp magic?"
"Yes, but if it is all the same to you, I would prefer to walk. It's only a league or so away, and I'm sure we could find a great many artifacts en route."
"Indeed we would. Well, I'm in no rush, so why not?" the druid smiled and the two began their journey toward the hidden civilization.
I hope you guys enjoyed the update.
Author's Notes are on my blog, the link for which is on my profile page.