Hello. You are about to embark on an epic journey filled with all you could ever want: adventure, love, humor, happiness; but with those must come death and destruction, heartbreak, and sadness... That's is what I predict anyway, I'm going to chronicle this as I go along. However, before moving into current events, I'm going to have to piece together the past from the stories I've heard from the other members. All for the better, I'm horrible at writing about myself anyway, the longer I can put it off the better. And who am I? Well, that doesn't matter, let our story begin.
It was a fresh, green morning, the birds were chirping, the town was bustling, the troubadours were making music on the streets in hopes of attracting spare change; yes, an average day in the not so average town of Etria. You see, it isn't famous for a person who did something heroic or noble, nor is it for its beautiful landscape, or fair maidens. No, that isn't it. Like every town it has something special, something that sets it apart, but what I am about to say will baffle most. Many will think I'm pulling their leg. Etria is the home of one of the Labyrinths.
Many believed these to be myths, they were miffed by the how something that large could go undiscovered for so long. Hell, I was one of 'em. But when one has seen the splendor with their own eyes, only an idiot could deny its awesome air, that surely this is a place, no, this maze was of importance. Not to mention that its naturally formed! By the way, the reason it went undiscovered for so long seems to be our ancestors (or we can blame them for not telling us at least), as there is evidence that others had once trekked the labyrinth in the past, but no one really knows the truth.
Now let me call your attention to the phrase, "one of the Labyrinths." I say this because there are stories of other labyrinths around the world. Because I've seen one, who am I to deny the others' existence? Some say that there is one that reaches far up past the mountain peaks, clawing deeply into the heavens to reveal a palace in the clouds. Another is said to delve deep into the ocean blue, the dark unexplored depths hold mystery and untold riches. Though the latter part can be said for all the labyrinths.
Our Labyrinth, the Yggdrasil Labyrinth as the locals call it, is one that delves far below the ground. The biggest mystery however is what lies at the bottom. So far, no guild has been strong enough fight their way through the murky depths and for some reason the monsters get stronger as you get deeper, almost as if they're guarding something. That is what makes Etria so special, why it attracts so many adventurers. Not only is the Labyrinth a treasure trove of loot, it holds endless possibility. Possibility nature is willing to guard.
That brings us to adventurers. These are the strong warriors who come to challenge the trials of the Labyrinth. They all come for their own reasons, to get rich quick, scientific or historic research, fame and glory, pure adventure-the reasons vary as much as the number of adventurers. Few, if not none, can fight in the labyrinth alone, that would be suicide, I don't care how clever you are or how many lives you have, you can never make it. Adventurers make guilds to work as a team to reach their goals and avoid a gory fate.
Many guilds, like the rich guild Profit, are merely teams of merchants with few skills in exploring. Profit has benefited much from the Labyrinth, but they don't do much exploring. Hell, I doubt they've ever even left the first Stratum. They mainly gather up the materials in the labyrinth to sell as well as resort to underhanded methods to take from the lower guilds all to help line their pockets. It's unfortunate, but that is the way of the place.
With the way things are going right now, new guilds find it difficult to start up because they quickly go broke. Many guilds don't even accept new adventurers anymore, they all want people with experience. Its a dog eat dog world out there, and newbie guilds just don't last long. Ironically, the guild that we are going to be chronicling will be one of the few new guilds that can get it's foot in the door without dying within the first thirty seconds; that's only due to the leader, West.
West was a farmer born and raised in Etria and, though he was a pest to the guildmaster over the years, he got to know him well enough to get him to teach him the way of the blade, and enough of his trust to give him a guild space. I'm sure there's more to it, but he never talked much about it over the years.
And here I am speaking in first person. I guess I'll be switching in and out of it once in a while, but hey, what'cha gonna do? It makes it a better story anyway, more multifaceted, you know? Let me shift gears here, I'll go to the story of West, and how he began the guild:
It was another average morning on Etria, a bustling town filled with beggars, merchants, and adventurers of all kinds. It was all the same except for one thing. Today was West's birthday. The red haired boy strode through town with a new air, though was still wearing his dirty cloth clothes and worn leather boots, his green eyes shown with determination. He was walking straight to the Guild Headquarters.
Opening the door with swagger, he announced, "Hey, Guildmaster! Guess what today is!" It was meant more as a rhetorical question as the boy would never shut up about it.
"Oh, I dunno, you cut your arm off?" The guildmaster's words may sound harsh, but he said it in a playful manner. Well, as playful as the guildmaster will ever get. When he's sober. He considered West more of a son than anyone, probably because he didn't have any children and regrets it.
West's actual parents, farmers, were strictly against him following his dream of adventure and charging headfirst into the labyrinth without a care in the world. If he listened to them, this would be a very short story. Luckily, he didn't. He visited Etria at every chance. Even when he was young, he tried to challenge the labyrinth. A good thing that those guards always watch the entrance, otherwise West would have probably never lived to his sixteenth birthday. Once again, this would be a short story.
"It's that magical day when I, West, become the leader of a guild!" Though the boy didn't seem like it, he was a hard worker and strong-willed; he had used all of his self-control to save his allowance every week for a few years for the guild entrance fee, a whole thousand ental.
"Well then, West, I guess I can't stop you," The guildmaster said with a sigh, "But I can't take your money, consider it a birthday present, happy birthday." West smiled ear to ear. This was perfect! Now he could afford to buy equipment!
Still wearing his smile he asked the guildmaster, "So you'll leave the signup sheet up, right?"
"Thanks! I'm gonna go find Reed!"
"Take care, boy!"
"Oh ya, and you know the name I picked! I'm sticking with it!"
"Just git and find that Reed and git outta my hair!" The guildmaster laughed.
Oh my, Reed. Where to begin. Well I guess since we were talking about West, I'll talk about him in that aspect. You remember how West tried to sneak into the Labyrinth every waking moment of the day? Clearly, I didn't stress it enough. In any case, on one such day, something like this happens. West gets his butt kicked out of the gateway. Again. And Reed is there, watching.
A gaze from Reed is like a gaze with the shadow of death itself, West claims that those red eyes' gaze has and probably will never change. They are a look that haunts the soul, whether you like it or not. One glance could paralyze a small animal with fear. They feel like they are searching your soul for any weakness. Thank god that West saw no weakness in himself. "Who are you!" he yelled at the staring boy. Bless that kid's soul.
The red eyed boy closed the book he was reading. That's an annoying habit of Reed's; he always has a book in his hand that he's reading and when you ask him a question he closes it with finality as if to ask, "What the hell did you want so bad to interrupt my reading!" His gaze afterwards says enough on it's own. "You want to challenge the labyrinth?" He said calmly in his raspy, quiet, ghost-like voice.
That's another habit of his. He never answers a question directly. Biggest asshole ever. "Yeah, so what of it!" West argued. They were the best of friends already. I can just see the seed of the flower of friendship falling onto the fertile rocks that that Reed and West.
"You'll never be able to make it." He said, as he opened the heavy book again, licking thumb to turn the pages back to the page he had left. The thing was a multi-volume advanced alchemic journal. Reed may be an asshole, but he was a smart asshole. From the age they were at now, only eleven years, Reed was already reading the latest theories in alchemic science. He broke all eye contact with West when he found the lost page. That boy's face probably turned as red as his rust colored hair. To West, the words Reed had uttered were the biggest insult of all.
"What, did, you, say..." He whispered but Reed heard-or predicted-what he said.
"Don't make me repeat myself." He answered almost silently, while smugly turning a page.
West always carried his training sword with him. It was his gift from the guildmaster for wanting to learn. He had sparred with the old man, but he could tell he was holding back. How much he was holding back, even to this day, is unknown, but by West's logic, if he could hold his own against the master, then this well-dressed prissy kid who couldn't even comb his own jet black hair would be no problem. Wrong conclusion.
West never saw it coming. Reed had seen it coming in theory, and that was good enough for him. One second West was charging, another he was on the ground, his battered wooden sword five feet away from him, sticking up from the ground. Reed later explained it was a simple burst of pressurized air. He hadn't even batted an eye. But West got up and grabbed his sword again, which made even Reed look up from his book. He charged again, and Reed knocked him over again... they continued this pattern for the rest of the day. Bye sunset, Reed had had enough. He hadn't even made any progress in the journal.
"I admit it, you're persistent." He stated, then as West got up again continued, "I'm Reed." He closed his book, then looked at West with a different gaze, one with a bit more acceptance of the moron in front of him.
"Hmph!" replied young West. He now standing and turned away, annoyed that he has lost to that kid. It wouldn't be for another few weeks of repeating this process until by some miracle the two became friends. One day, Reed asked West the question that one who knows the boy at all must ask.
"Why do you want to go to the labyrinth so bad?" He said this without looking up from his book at all, but West didn't care for eye contact much anyway.
"Adventure, pure and simple! Life is too boring here. You seem stuck on the idea of reachin' the bottom too, why?" Reed said nothing. Typical of him. West punched him in the shoulder to get a response, but was only blown back by a strong burst of air while Reed turned the page of his book. That boy was always one or twelve steps ahead and is always such as ass about it!
Back to the day of the founding of our guild, West had searched the town, only to find Reed at the usual place, right outside the labyrinth, reading a book, The Chronicles of The Labyrinth. As West approached he noticed him finish, closing his book with the same finality as usual. Reed simply stated, "Such a simple book, yet so very powerful..." He looked at West with few malignant feelings, "'py birthday," He mumbled, "I suppose you're going to make me join that guild of yours."
West just smiled, the universal term for, "Ya, that 'bout sums it up." The two headed to the guildmaster's abode, and by now it was evening. 8:00. It wasn't really a set meeting time, but it was kind of a-what's the word-tradition. Any new guild set out a sign up sheet for one day and anyone who wanted to join signed and met at 8:00 that night. If no one signed within the day, you lost your slot and had to pay another thousand for a new one. That's just how it worked. Reed and West were ready to go alone though, and they were sure they could recruit people as they went. Well, West did anyway, Reed doesn't say much.
As they had gotten older and sparred with each other, both got better. Simple bursts now weren't enough to knock West down, and somehow, nobody is sure how but Reed theorizes (or maybe it was just an insult) that "all the magic that has hit him has effected the boy's anatomy on a magical scale." Basically the warrior could predict when magic will strike and where. This made the spars between the two boys productive, Reed always needed to learned new tricks, and West always tried to get stronger physically, they became a hard to beat duo.
Arriving at the guild headquarters, the two were met with a lucky site. Unlike what they had expected, they had actual recruits! To someone not used to the culture of Etria, I cannot exaggerate enough how unusual this is, most newbies don't have the balls to sign onto a guild that just came out of nowhere, run by a boy who just turned sixteen. As it turned out, they didn't need "the balls", they were all girls!
The one that would first catch my eye would be the girl with the pink curled pigtails sprouting from her hair. Pink just isn't a natural color to me, but she assures me, it's natural. (You don't argue with her.) The ribbons holding those tails up were the only feminine clothing on the girl. From there, she was wearing a beaten looking leather breastplate that fit her snugly and very short short-shorts (That sounds weird, but she informs me that that is what they're called). She was leaning in the chair as if it were a rocking chair, rocking it back and forth making an annoying creaking noise, and had her leather boots, much like West's-except they went up to her knees-propped on the table, her eyes were closed in boredom, as if she were asleep. If it weren't for the chain whip she were holding lazily in her right hand, one would easily take her for a cheap landshcnekt.
That whip and those clothes proved what she really was: a dark hunter in-training. The dark hunters have a belief, that to become one, you must have significant power. The tests they assign to gauge the apprentices differ by master and once it is completed, they get their trademark tight black leather suit, as well as a miniskirt and long leather boots-at least in the case of the girls. Doesn't seem very protective, but who am I to complain? After all, it's sexy. Guys get leather jackets and pants, nothing special, but they wear it with pride. The weird thing is those leather clothes seem to get stronger with the hunter wearing them, maybe it's some sort of magic. I would ask Reed about it, but that would probably be a bad idea all things considered.
Most dark hunters nowadays don't go to the labyrinth. They used to but as time went on they found more profitable work in the bounty hunter business. That was the driving force behind most of what they did, they were in it for the profit. This didn't seem the case for this girl though, so what was an in-training doing joining a guild?
The next one that comes to attention would be the blond girl with the steely blue eyes, her gaze was like Reed's only it left you with the opposite feeling; you would feel calm around her, she almost exuded a tranquil aura. She let her hair flow without any hair ties, though it was easy to see that she took good care of it, as long as it was. The shield she bore had a golden cross on it, perhaps to show her religion, or perhaps it was merely a decoration, nonetheless, it looked heavy. Her armour, as one could tell from the lack of scratches, was shiny and new, not a blemish on it. She had a small sword attached to the best around her waist. Honestly, it was hard to believe this girl, who couldn't be much older than West or Reed, was a protector!
Protectors held an important job in the labyrinth, and it is as simple as their name suggests. The huge shields they heft around are not for show. They use them to defend and even attack at times! That isn't to say that they can't use their swords, but hey, their name says they protect, honestly that's just a bonus. The fact that she was gorgeous was another bonus.
Finally, after a good wait West noticed the last girl, she was under the table making a ruckus. No, she wasn't crazy or scared-not yet anyway-she was looking through her huge pack to make sure that she had all the supplies that she needed. After all she was going to be taking on, hands down, the most important role in any guild. She was going to be the medic, someone that every person relies on. No one else would have the knowledge of both medical magic and medicine to do anything. That put a lot of weight on the shoulders of this plain looking girl.
On, she had one of the most basic and low ranking medic's uniforms, with the long white coat and the signifying scarf around her neck. The red of the cloth signified the lowest of ranks, followed by blue, green, silver, then finally gold. At the top there was the head medic who led the hospital and sold the medicine, however as of late many guilds have been importing stronger items from faraway lands and the actual hospital has only been getting by by renting out their medics for a fee. It's a shame, really. It was rare that a medic actually left the institution to join a guild, but hey, here one was.
This gave their guild have a population of five. Kinda sad really, but hey everyone starts somewhere, right? Five is the maximum you're allowed to bring into the labyrinth at a time anyway. Something about upsetting the "natural balance." Whatever the reason, the Radha, the government of the area, is very serious about enforcing this particular rule. Besides, with more than five, it's hard to work as a team so it's better off that way.
Well, you can only imagine West was ecstatic. Not only did he have a guild, but five members! Now, let me say something weird, West wasn't interesting in pretty girls. As you can probably tell, Reed only loves his books and knowledge. Now I think that's a crying shame, but that's just me. He began with a stutter. Eloquent. Then he gathered himself, stood up straight, and cleared his throat. The only one he got the attention of though was the blond protector. Even Reed was merely reading his book.
"Welcome everyone to the first meeting of the Gales!" He said in his most loud, charismatic voice. The boy had a good speaking voice and now, everyone was paying attention except for the dark hunter. It seemed she had actually fallen asleep. I pity West for was he attempted to do soon afterwards, he tapped her shoulder to get her to wake up. If you know a dark hunter, never, ever, wake them up from a nap. Not even an in-training.
In a few seconds, the chair was unoccupied, the hunter had gracefully twirled behind the poor landshcnekt, the chain that had been lying on the floor just previously was now wrapped around the boy in a tight grip, the final touch was a knife being held to his neck. Knowing her, the chances of that dagger holding at least one lethal poison was likely.
It was at this moment that she woke up. She sniffed up some mucus that was starting to drip from her nose and yawned out, "Yo..." Then saw the situation that the two were in, formed a sleepy grin and with a skillful yank of the chain, it unwound and harmlessly coiled back into her hand. She then released the blade from West's neck and stumbled groggily back to the chair, to stare at West with sleepy night colored eyes. Best first impression ever.
Everyone reacted differently. West had tensed up, he had never expected anyone to be that skillful. He had seen and heard of dark hunters before, but had never confronted one in person. The reality amazed him and made him proud to have attracted such a girl to the guild. The blonde unsheathed had her sword and was ready to strike at the hunter. The medic had already pulled out a bundle of medicas and her hands were wrapped in bandages that still led back to the bag from whence they came. Reed turned a page.
"A-are you okay?" The brown haired medic stammered in a high pitched voice. Getting a good look at her, she looked even younger than West, maybe thirteen, fifteen tops! She was scrambling to untangle herself from the bandages which in her haste had meandered around her legs, arms, waist, and even her head somehow. The most important job had been given to a klutz.
"No, I'm fine thanks," West said. The protector had sat back down, sword sheathed, but she was eyeing the dark hunter without breaking her gaze. The girl that was being stared at asked West the question he had been trying to answer without it being asked.
"So, what're we here for, what's our guild's goal?"
Honestly, West had his own reason, and so did Reed. He was willing to bet so did everyone else. Usually a guild advertised their want, some guilds wanted strong people, some wanted the most skillful, others, the most magically adept, others still sought the best at harvesting materials. West hadn't set anything on his sheet but the title, his guild title. He had had all this time, and had never really, truly thought it through. What would he say? As it turned out, he needn't say anything. Reed had thought for him.
"We're here to get to the bottom." A good general umbrella goal. This was the goal of a lot of the small guilds. Did I mention their fates?
West expected things to get hectic here, where everyone would run off with their own idea, and quit. The evening was going well (as well as if was gonna go at least), he didn't want to lose his whole group right here! But he didn't. The dark hunter seemed satisfied with that goal, and the protected hadn't reacted. The only one who seemed nervous was the now unbound medic. Still that didn't lift the air of tension in the room. Now it was West's turn to take over.
"So, I'm your leader, West, and this is Reed our resident alchemist." He got next to Reed and smiled. Reed didn't even look up form his book. West stayed like this until the silence got to him, but that wouldn't break his politeness just yet. He continued, "So what's all your names?"
The first one to reply was the protector, she stood up looked around, keeping on a stoic face and said, "My name is-" There was an almost unnaturally short pause here, like she didn't know what to say. It was only momentary though, she soon continued, "-Fend, I'm Fend, a pleasure to work with you all." Then she sat down.
The dark hunter went next and still rocking in her chair casually stated, "I'm Raze, as in destruction you know. My parents named me well don't'cha think?" She grinned again and pointed at the medic, "And what's your name short stuff?"
The medic just fidgeted on the spot. Clearly she hated being called out and Raze putting her on the spotlight like that had only made it worse. She looked like she was going to melt right there on the spot, but somehow she managed to whisper, "Ru-by," Then she repeated herself, "Ruby," followed by collapsed onto her chair. The introduction had taken a lot out of her, was she really fit for the Labyrinth?
West smiled and continued, "Well then, Reed, Fend, Raze, Ruby; you're now all a part of Gale!" West said jovially "That's my family name, and now it's yours too, Reed Gale, Fend Gale, Raze Gale, and Ruby Gale, welcome to the family." Everyone just stared at him, well everyone but Reed anyway. He was used to West's general awkwardness and merely continued to read his book. Raze then broke out in laughter mocking West.
"Come on!" She laughed, "What a joke, we're a family?" Her laugh didn't seem completely genuine though. In fact, it seemed kind of melancholy. West had picked up on this and answer honestly.
She shut up. That was it, the first awkward day of the founding of the Gales. Afterwards, they all went to the Rooster Inn and booked a room. From what I've heard, the next day was going to be a long one.
I'll have to have someone look over this later. Actually now that I think about it, I'll keep it to myself, as a surprise to the other members at the end of our journey. I think they'll enjoy reading these later, but for now, I'm going to stop, I'm tired, and I'm not sure I've heard enough from the others of the first day to make it into a story format. So for now, I'll end this. Entry 1 out.