BEFORE YOU READ: This story contains major spoilers for Dark Dawn. If you haven't completed the game or don't want to be spoiled, I suggest you click the nice little "Back" button in the top left corner of your browser window. Thanks for reading!
A/N: This story has gone through so many edits it's ridiculous. I've been thinking about trashing it (but still keeping it on my profile, as per jollygreendragon's near threat...) but then realized the reviews keep me going. I'd hate to start it up new but not have my wonderful reviewers there anymore. I guess it's more of an ego thing, plus readers tend to flock to stories with lots of feedback already...
First chapters have always been something I struggled with. Either it's remotely decent or it's just crap, and most of the time it tends to be crap. But it starts to pick up even in the next chapter, so please don't stop reading because you're bored! It gets better :) The beginning part with Kraden here has been changed around so many times, but this installment is actually readable, so I'm happy.
Anyway, the first AN I did here was about me raging how the title sucks (it still does, but I digress), the second was about the first edit I did, and all the other ANs after that were about the next edits... Ugh. I'm really, really hoping this edit will be the last one ever in this story, because I'm starting it back up. I'm thinking I'll leave the first four chapters as they are, minus the tweaks I'm doing right now, and then gradually lengthen them because eventually this really is a plot-driven story.
I doubt there's anyone left from way back when this fic was actually regularly updating (besides jolly because I bribe him), but if you're out there, thank you so much for putting up with my nonsense! From my spazztastic ANs to my nauseating writing, thanks for reading and sending all the feedback :) Absolutely no words can appreciate the happiness that seeps into my soul when I read a review. Every single one of them, even the not-so-nice ones because those help me grow too.
And now, to new readers who I reeeally hope don't just skip over this and/or ignore the entire story... enjoy! I hope you stick with me, I promise I'll deliver as good a story as I can! (This is supposed to be the one story I write that has an actual plot.) Hopefully I can be significantly less spastic than my previous attempts with this baby.
No Djinn May Roam
Kraden walked absentmindedly around the one-room cottage, alternating between talking to his carrier pigeon and organizing his bookshelves. He alphabetized some of the books and then sorted by category - medicinal and toxic herbs, elements, and Psynergy in general - to make sure he could find the right ones tomorrow during his reading time.
It was crazy how much one began forgetting at an old age.
The white-bearded man, his petty tasks accomplished, made his way to the kitchen to prepare the usual afternoon tea.
"How strong would you like it today, Tyrell?" he asked the pigeon a few feet to his right. Strangely he found amusement in its name, every time he said it reminding him of the young Mars Adept's antics.
Tyrell the pigeon just chirped happily inside its cage, oblivious to how mean Kraden truly was to its namesake.
He smiled. "You believe weaker is better today?" Not waiting for or expecting a response, he took out a small stash of tea leaves. "You're right - I wasn't in the mood for a strong taste anyway."
The bird stayed quiet, watching him prepare his daily tea. It didn't exactly provide the best company but it worked in a pinch when he had to deliver messages. Tyrell was among the faster pigeons he'd had over the years despite its shortcomings: it seemed to get into fights with and anger other birds rather easily. Every time it returned from a delivery Kraden would find another injury to patch up. Sometimes the pigeon resembled a mummy with all its bandages.
As he stared out the window he thought he was something out of the ordinary, but before he could take a better look the water began to boil, causing the teapot to whistle.
Kraden poured it into his mug and added the leaves, sipping once it was stirred. He embraced the warmth and taste but his curiosity inevitably got the better of him; there was something outside, and truthfully, it left an ominous feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"I'll be right back," he said to Tyrell, setting down the mug. He had to see what was out there - what if it was something dangerous? Though he only caught a glimpse of the colors, purple and black were telltale signs of a Vortex...
He stepped outside and shut the door behind him, but as he started walking he berated himself for leaving his notebooks inside. Should there be anything of importance, he wouldn't be able to record it right away.
Now that he thought about it, though, having a Vortex appear outside would easily explain his new-found drowsiness and headaches, along with his slowly receding memory. Vortexes were known for both appearing and disappearing overnight, anyway.
But he was getting ahead of himself. He couldn't be sure if it was one until he clearly saw it, so he kept walking over to where his kitchen window looked out, just a tad above the peak of the hill. The Angaran Sea was just tens of yards away from his cottage so it didn't make sense for a Vortex to spawn over water -
He gasped. There it was, though.
If personal experience viewing the phenomena didn't cut it, he remembered one year ago Isaac sent a letter explaining the Vortex that showed up by his cabin. The Venus Adept promised to keep Kraden updated, and no later than the next month had the scholar received another message telling him it had mysteriously vanished one night. Kraden was relieved, of course, but he knew sooner or later he would have to discuss the possibilities with Isaac and Ivan.
The gigantic purple and black orb pulsated above the water, swirling around the energy it had absorbed already. It was quite far away but he could feel its power already, making him wonder how he missed it and if that meant it had the ability to move.
It looked positively menacing, just the way it did three years ago when he saw his first one up close. He had to do something.
On his short way back to his house he could already feel himself getting winded. If this was its power when it was still this far away... just how powerful would it be if and when it moved closer?
He made a mental note to check on it later tonight - it loomed over the small group of islands ahead at the moment - and continued towards the door; however, in his haste he clumsily stumbled over a pile of firewood and he fell to the ground, shouting in pain. He couldn't be sure but he thought he sprained, if not broke, one of his legs; he wasn't certain which one hurt more.
Kraden lay in pain for a few minutes, dreading standing up but knowing he had to sometime. Now forcing himself to believe that nothing was broken after all, he slowly got up, flinching but trying hard. There were herbs in a jar that would help, but he had to get inside first.
The worn out scholar managed to get himself back inside the one-room cottage where he quickly took a seat and elevated his right leg. The earlier convincing was just so that he had motivation to pick himself up, but now he knew there was something wrong.
Before anything else could happen he grabbed the nearest pen and paper combination and began his letter to Isaac.
He let out a puff of air after he completed it, trudging over to his pigeon's cage. He opened it and tied the paper around the bird's leg where, thankfully this time, there weren't any injuries.
"Take this to Isaac, friend," he told Tyrell.
The carrier pigeon squawked an incoherent reply and flapped its wings, escaping through an open window.
After he watched the bird leave he reunited with his tea in the kitchen, sipping it slowly, still babying his leg. He would have to find all the healing plants he had stashed somewhere around here, but for right now he was just thankful that his pigeon was far more intelligent than who it was named after.
"Matthew, hurry up!" a green-haired girl called from inside a cabin. She guessed she didn't have to yell quite so loudly, though, considering they were on a plateau overlooking an abyss. But then again, her friend was known to ignore her, or at least have selective hearing, quite often. After a few moments of waiting she gave up and exited the house, shutting the door behind her, glancing around in search of her blond friend. Did he run away like last time?
A twig snapped behind her and the girl turned around, startled until she realized who it was. "Oh, so you are ready." But then she saw what he was wearing, staring him down from top to bottom to try and understand.
"Those are your regular clothes," she stated.
The blond shrugged. "You told me to dress comfortably."
"Yes, comfortably! As in shorts and other breathable material!" She pulled on her own shorts to emphasize her point but gave up halfway through, knowing she should have expected this.
Matthew sighed, looking away and rubbing his left arm. "Look, can we just get this over with?"
"Sure," she replied. "You grabbed the bows, right?" She didn't know why she even asked; as she looked at him it didn't seem he was hiding two humongous curved pieces of wood anywhere.
She socked him playfully on the arm. "What were you even doing while I was changing?!"
"Waiting," he told her smartly. A smug grin played upon his lips.
"Yeah, yeah. I liked you better when you were quiet." She waved it off with her hand and headed back to the cabin door, along the way wondering why after their journey Matthew had suddenly become more vocal. That wasn't to say he was a chatterbox, but at least around her, it seemed he let his guard down and showed his mother's side more often.
She assumed that was just because he had gotten used to her company throughout the adventure, considering with anyone else he was still a guy of few words, even Tyrell.
After Karis disappeared behind the door Matthew exhaled and seated himself on the ground, his boredom getting the better of him. He cast Growth a few times and picked at the newly formed grass. Soon enough, however, he grew tired of it so he laid his head back, placing his arms underneath his head, lying on his back.
He was glad that she didn't get too mad at him for staying in his everyday clothes, but truthfully he was hoping to get more of a rise out of her; there was nothing to do around here, anyway, so what little entertainment she provided just made the day worth not sleeping through.
The Venus Adept didn't really want to learn how to shoot a bow but Karis insisted ever since they returned from their quest. "Just in case," she always told him. So after about a year and a half of her pestering he finally gave in (he had once before but lied, and he and Tyrell hid from her the entire day). He wondered to himself if he would "accidentally" fire a shot at her, but he shook his head - she was his best friend and he shouldn't have been thinking that way. That didn't stop him from letting loose an unwarranted chuckle at himself, though.
The cabin door's slam sent realization through his body and he sat up, glancing in its direction. Karis stepped out, the two green and brown bows in her hand. She smiled at him and Matthew knew, even though it was a sincere smile, that he was in for a long day.
The two Adepts found the perfect spot to practice, just inside Tanglewood. The bushes weren't too overgrown, partly because Matthew got a little Fireball-happy during their first quest, and the trees were perfect targets; he acted just like Tyrell at Patcher's Place. And if nothing else, maybe they could run into a few monsters and shoot some arrows through them. It would count as practice with the bow and combat, right?
Matthew grabbed the bow with both hands and lifted it up so it was right in front of him. He moved his left hand back, dragging the bow with it, and reached for an arrow in the quiver on his back.
"No, Matthew, not like that!" Karis scolded, running over to Matthew and startling him, setting her own bow down in the process. She took hold of his bow and situated it correctly into his hands, then leaned down a little bit to look at the angle he was pointing it in. Satisfied, she smiled and walked away, leaving her pupil to try it without her help now.
He managed to pull the arrow back swiftly without moving the bow itself too much, and when he released, the arrow shot through the air past the vines and hedges and missed the target tree by a foot. He groaned, lowering the bow and smacking his head.
Karis laughed. "Relax. It's your first try."
After saying that, she couldn't help thinking back to when she was learning how to use a bow. Her father, Ivan, was teaching her, and she was having the same problems Matthew was - not holding the bow correctly, pulling the arrow back too far, releasing too abruptly. But she still managed to hit the tree on her first try, she reminded herself. She smiled, believing it to just be a natural-born talent, and walked over to steady Matthew's bow once more.
Once it was in the correct position and Matthew was ready to fire, Karis told him to wait and hurried over to her own bow, picking it up and quickly adjusting to the correct position. She brought it up to her shoulder, pulled back the arrow ever-so-slightly, and glanced towards him.
"Just like this," she said, finally releasing the arrow and following its movement with her eye as it glided through the air, arcing just a bit, and hit the target tree in the dead center. She smiled and lowered her bow, glancing towards her friend once more and hoping he would do better this time.
He stood still, in his now awkward position, a determined look in his eyes. His serious stature was broken, however, when he had to scratch an itch, causing him to have to lower the bow. The Jupiter Adept laughed again, once again walking over and steadying his bow for him, being sure to position it correctly.
She only stepped back a few feet to the right, watching him as he pulled back the arrow - slower this time, she noted - and released it in a swift movement. Still too fast. They both watched the arrow slide past the same vines and hedges, arcing slightly less than Karis's shot, until it collided with the tree. Matthew brought his bow down, almost grinning, until the arrow fell to the ground, seemingly not being stuck in the bark at all. He huffed.
Karis stifled a snicker.
She made her way back to the left to where she could pick up his bow. "One more time," she coaxed, "and I'll help you perfect it."
He glanced at her and nodded. Karis grabbed the bow and brought it up to his shoulder again, guiding his hand through the bowstring and taking the arrow with it. She allowed their hands to rest at the back of the bow for just one second, hinting that Matthew needed to be more patient with things like this.
Even if he didn't have the right concentration and motivation right now, she was sure that within time he could pick it up with no trouble. That was why she was trying to help him learn it, after all; he seemed to have no trouble mastering Psynergy, light blades, longswords, and even axes. The bow was arguably the lightest of all the physical weapons, making it one of the more easier to wield. She was honestly surprised that he didn't know how to use one, even going so far as to question her how she kept hold of it so well at the start of their quest.
"Ready?" she whispered. Her hot breath tickled his ears and he had to resist the urge to flinch away from her.
Matthew took in a sharp breath. "Yeah."
And they let go of the arrow at almost exactly the same time, both pairs of eyes watching it sail through the air past the same obstacles yet again until it sank into the middle of the tree. Matthew watched it for a few seconds to make sure it didn't fall like the last one did, and when it didn't, he grinned.
"Thanks, Karis," he said, bringing the bow down. Suddenly his grin fell, shock replacing it, when he realized her hand was still clasped over his. "Uh.."
She retracted it quickly. "Sorry!"
Awkward moments passed before the Jupiter Adept cleared her throat.
"So, um…I think that's enough practicing for today." She laughed nervously, hands behind her back as she swung the bow around.
He silently agreed with a nod.
"And the sun is starting to set, so let's head back before all the monsters come out."
"All right," he replied, though he really was looking forward to learning to use monsters as target practice. He made his way over to the target tree to retrieve the bent arrows, but Karis stopped him with a call of his name.
"Don't worry about those; we have plenty more at home."
As they made their way across the bridge to the cabin, Karis stopped behind Matthew to stare at the setting sun. It was truly beautiful, she realized, her eyes reflecting the warmth and intensity. It made her think of the previous journey - it was funny, actually, that already so much time had passed. But as beautiful as the sun was, it didn't stop her mind from wandering to the dark days of the Grave Eclipse. If they hadn't stopped it, that sun wouldn't be shining right now, and instead it would be a never-ending sight of the gray Lady Luna.
Her stomach growled, bringing her out of her thoughts, and she shook her head, turning away from the sunset.
When she started across the bridge again, she almost ran into Matthew's back and gasped a little in surprise, clasping her hands over her mouth in hopes that he didn't hear her.
Matthew didn't seem to - or if he did he simply didn't acknowledge it - and turned around to meet her gaze with an intense one of his own. "Is something wrong?"
"Ah..." She laughed nervously. "No."
She was a horrible liar, and they both knew it, but what she didn't know was why she was suddenly so nervous.
Any train of thought was interrupted, though, as the two heard someone shout for them on the other side of the bridge.
She peeked around Matthew curiously and widened her eyes as she saw Isaac standing in front of the cabin door, a letter in his right hand, knapsack in his left. He didn't look all too thrilled. It was very rare to see Isaac here anymore. He was always taking week-long trips to Mt. Aleph - something about investigating the Psynergy Vortexes, he would say.
It wasn't as if Karis wasn't interested in the Vortexes (quite the opposite, in fact), but it was just that now that their own adventure was over she really just wanted to take advantage of it and relax. She knew it was a pretty apathetic way of thinking, but she figured she deserved it after helping to save Weyard.
Plus, Isaac was just a workaholic. She and Matthew had accompanied him two or three times but he just had them do countless chores and petty tasks, taking the fun ones like going inside the broken ruins of the Sanctum for himself. The two younger Adepts were stuck with recording the details of the volcano's outside and keeping watch to make sure no monsters or other unwanted visitors came.
Once they neared the entrance to the cabin Isaac looked at them with a grim face, and that was when both of them knew something was up.
"It's from Kraden," the older Adept said simply.
"What is it about?" Karis asked for both her and Matthew. She made her way over to Isaac and didn't really wait for an answer, taking the letter from his hands.
Isaac kept his solemn expression. "I wish it was just a friendly greeting. Tyrell's in the cabin, so we have to make sure we send him back with our response as soon as possible."
Karis raised an eyebrow but quickly remembered who that was. "Oh, Kraden's carrier pigeon." She heard Matthew stifle a laugh and probably would have joined him if the atmosphere hadn't been so tense at the moment. She skimmed over the letter's contents briefly before deciding to read it aloud so her friend could hear it, too.
I regret there may be danger once more. Thirty years ago the first Psynergy Vortex appeared atop Mt. Aleph. Now all these years later, what I assume to be the latest one has appeared just hundreds of yards from my cottage.
The Mourning Moon has come for the third time. It is time to put our research and knowledge to good use. Perhaps this time we may be able to actually stop it.
If you understand, contact Ivan, as you and he will be able to figure something out. Unfortunately I am unwell and cannot travel by myself at this time, but when you receive this letter I will surely be much better already.
I only request that you come visit me, as many of you who are able to. There are several things I wish to discuss that I cannot disclose in a letter. Along with that, you will be able to see the Vortex yourself - however, please be aware that this Vortex is rather large, so its absorption powers are far stronger than the ones the children have dealt with before.
Please, Isaac, do make haste, but be careful in your travels and pack lightly, for there is no telling when one may lose everything. I look forward to seeing you by the week's end.
The Jupiter Adept perked up at the mention of her father's name. Even though she was the one reading the letter she didn't fully believe it. "Are we going to Kalay to see Dad?" she asked just a little too excitedly.
Isaac laughed but rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, yes. But this means we will have to leave by morning if we want to meet Kraden by the end of the week. It doesn't sound like he's in too good of shape, either, so we really have to hurry."
I didn't know how to end the chapter so wheeee~