HarmonicSona-Mystic (Harm, Sona)

Synvi-Elementalist (Syn)

Aurelian-Priest (Aure)

Venter-Swordsman (Ven)

Renovatio-Paladin (Ren)

DISCLAIMER: The story basis belongs to the MMORPG, Dragon Nest. I do not claim ownership. However, I did not copy the plot from them either.

Please remember to read with emotion, as if this were happening in real life. Review if you think it's good!

Mana Ridge seemed as peaceful as usual. The children were out playing with the snow, crying out in carefree laughter. Their mothers stayed near them to make sure no one was harmed, and their fathers were out in the forest fighting the orcs. The goblins never posed much of a problem compared to them. The orcs were large brutes who wouldn't give a second thought to tearing your limbs off one at a time, crushing you with their bludgeons. They were a horrid species. I feared for the citizens who couldn't defend themselves. If monsters started invading Mana Ridge, it would mean imminent death for over half the population. Not everyone could fight, and if they could they were weak. Mostly everyone was just in training and only knew three or four spells that would barely do any damage to the enemy. There were few exceptions among the population.

Of course I was among those few. Synvi, Renovatio, Aurelian, Venter, and Tara were also quite strong. I suppose there's no need to mention any of the trainers, but Cynthia and Leonard were certainly the strongest out of us all. If only they would allow us to advance to Carderock, though. "You are not ready. Be patient." They would always tell us this. Then when were we going to be ready? How long were they going to keep us there? I always repeated to myself that they knew best, that I could trust their decisions. But then they sent Venter away. The only warrior who dwelled in Mana Ridge. He was my best friend, and I was happy for him. I couldn't help but feel a little irritated, though. He was the only one allowed to advance, even though we all started training around the same time as him.

I remember when he first came to Mana Ridge. He and I were both eight at the time and just began our training. He looked so lonely being the only warrior there. Everyone else was either a cleric or a sorceress. We all wondered what he was doing here, in a frostbitten hell of a place full of magic users. He seemed like the type of person who would much rather prefer to be in a warm climate. Ironwood Village would suit his preference much more than iron-cold Mana Ridge. However, as the months went by, his quiet and miserable demeanor seemed to die. It was replaced by a cheerful and outgoing attitude, making him become loved by everyone. Synvi and I always watched him with silent admiration. He was a bright, young boy with an interesting future ahead of him. Anyone could see that at first glance. There was something that always puzzled me though. When he first arrived he had extremely light-blonde hair, and then it gradually began metamorphosing into a snow-white chroma. It seemed as though Mana Ridge's frigid atmosphere had frozen away his old self, to be locked away in a forgotten past. What was his past? How was his life before we met him? He would never tell us. The thought of remembering anything shook him so badly that we were forced to let the matter go.

"Ven." I called quietly to him.

He was in the middle of packing for his journey, and his room was already cleared out to make space for new lodgers. It was depressing to find out that none of us would ever see him again. At least for a while until we've all met up in Saint's Haven. Who knows how long that'd take…?

He stopped packing and looked up at me. "Oh, Sona. What's up?"

I gave him a wry smile. "So you're finally leaving, huh?"

"Ah..yeah. It's hard to believe they only allowed me to go, though. What about you and the others? You guys are just as strong as me. It's just too unfair."

"I guess they saw more potential in you than us. You are pretty impressive after all. A swordsman who grew up in Mana Ridge and even mastered a few magic buffs…you're not like most warriors. You can harness the power of magic and cast it over your weapons, amplifying the overall damage of your attacks. I bet you learned that from Leonard and the clerics. I doubt any other physical-user can use these types of buffs, or at least they're not quite as powerful in terms of duration and effect."

He shook his head. "I doubt it. Any other warrior could have done the same under similar circumstances. It's okay, Sona. You don't need to sugarcoat everything. I know they're just sending me away because they can't teach me anything. I'm just not…the same as you guys. I can't use magic attacks, I can't heal others, and if I went to Ironwood they would just teach me all the basics. I wouldn't learn a thing and Cynthia and Leonard know it. It'd be much simpler to just send me to Carderock."

"If you know they're doing this for your own good, why do you seem so disgruntled?"

"Because it feels like they just want to get rid of me!" he snapped.

He startled me by the sudden loudness of his voice. That wasn't true…No one wanted him to leave. It was just that we were holding him back. He wouldn't reach his full potential if he continued staying with us.

"Ven…try to understand. We're just holding you back. You need to go."

He hesitated for a moment. "I know, but I'll just be alone again. I don't know anyone in Carderock and they're probably so much stronger than me. I don't want to be separated from all my friends. You, Syn, Ren, Aure…it'd all fall apart. All you guys will still be together while I go off on my own adventure. Doesn't that sound lonesome to you?"

There was silence for a few moments.

I wanted him to stay with us so badly. We'd also feel lonely without him, not just him. He'd been with us for nine years, and yet it still seemed too little a time. He was only seventeen years old. That's way too young for him to just suddenly go out and fend for himself. He needed someone to go with him. Why wouldn't Cynthia and Leonard let someone come with him?

I sighed. "I'm sorry, Ven. There's nothing we can do to change their minds. Believe me; we all want to go with you. To be able to train with you, protect you, and to be able to see how much you've progressed over the years. It's sad to see that we won't be able to do that anymore. You'll move on, find better friends, and forget all about us….And that's fine, but we'll never forget you."

"You'll always be our little Ven," I added with a chuckle.

"No, I'll never forget you guys," he mumbled.

I laughed. He never was the sentimental type, and he'd always get embarrassed whenever we acted too affectionate. We always did love to tease him…

"Take care, Ven. I'll see you in the morning."

"Wait," he called.

I turned around to face him. "Yeah?"

He tossed me a small, brown pouch. I stared at it for a moment with a confused expression. "Um…what's this?"

"A bunch of crude obsidians to enhance your terrible equips," he grinned.

I rolled my eyes in reply. "Yeah, yeah."

Then I waved goodbye and left, breathing in the cool air that enveloped the cheerful and prosperous town. Everything was coated in scintillating, white snow, making it seem like a fantastical dream. It was a winter wonderland. Only it was not a dream, and it certainly wasn't as peaceful as many people would like to think. The citizens were always involved in this everlasting war between humans and monsters. Blood was spilled over pointless things. We had been fighting for so long that we almost forgot why the war was started in the first place. Even so, everyone had managed to separate their lives from inside and outside town. Quite contradictory to our lives outside of Mana Ridge, we seemed to appear as if we were a completely ordinary town full of unassuming and somewhat dull citizens. It's as if we ignored the war and weren't even involved in it. Maybe it was better that way. It gave us time to just be ourselves and feel a bit of happiness before we were dragged into the consternations of battle once again.

I shook my head as if that would blow all my troubles away. It's best not to linger in these unappealing thoughts. I'd rather please myself with a blissful fairy tale. Everything's going to be okay. This nightmare will end soon, and no one will have to die for this hopeless cause anymore.

But I still couldn't convince myself of this utterly fraudulent lie. It was hopeless. This foolish war would never end, and everyone knew that. Even the monsters knew that. That's why it was so hard to believe that one day…this heroic group of individuals would finally end it all.

That night I couldn't bring myself to sleep. Venter was leaving the next day and it was all I could do to keep myself from stopping him. I could tell Synvi and the others felt the same way. She and I shared a room, so we talked the entire night. We waited sadly for the fateful day when our precious friend would finally depart us.

"Soonnaaa…" she whimpered.

"Come on, Syn. We have to be mature here. You're 19 for goodness sake. Don't make me your mother."

I sat next to her on the floor and added softly, "Come on. Keep your chin up, and see Ven off with a smile tomorrow. You're not the only one who's going to miss him."

She brought her knees up and leaned on them, burying her face in her arms. "I know." Her voice sounded muffled and distant. I struggled to hear her voice. "Hey, when do you think we are going to see him again?"

Tears fell down my face as I was filled with unpleasant thoughts once again. I constantly wondered about that myself. "I don't know, Syn. I really don't know."

Then I saw her pour out another shot of Vodka. "Syn," I said sharply. "That's your sixth shot today. If you drink any more you're going to be completely wasted tomorrow."

"Just one more," she said dreamily, "I need something to occupy my thoughts. You should drink some too."

I shook my head. "No, I'm still under-aged. You are too. If Cynthia caught you with that, you would be reduced to nothing but a smoking pile of ashes."

She just rolled her eyes. "Oh please, she is never going to find out."

"You never know."

Synvi stared at me with a solemn expression for the longest time. I wondered about what she was thinking about. Then she finally spoke. "Hey, Sona."


"You should tell Ven your feelings." Her eyes looked sternly at me, and from the tone she was using I could tell she wasn't joking. It was a rare occasion to see her with a serious expression while being drunk.

I scoffed. "What feelings? I don't like him."

"You are lying. Aure and I noticed this a long time ago. You are too obvious."

"You guys are wrong. I don't like him, definitely not.

I crossed my arms stubbornly, but eventually relented to her judging eyes. "But–…I used to."

She grinned obnoxiously when I told her this. "I knew it. Wait–what? Why did you stop?"

"I didn't want to jeopardize our friendship, of course. My feelings would just get in the way of everything. I'd rather contradict my emotions than lose him. Plus that would break apart our entire friend circle. No one would want that."

She sighed exasperatedly. "Oh, Sona. You are such an idiot. We would understand how you felt, even Ven would. If that kind of thing would break our friend circle, it would have broken apart a long time ago."

"Oh yes, I had forgotten about yours and Aure's relationship."

This was all a lie, of course. I actually did remember. It would be impossible to forget, but everything was just an excuse for me not to confront the matter. I knew our friendships weren't so fragile as to fall apart because of such a small thing. I didn't want to talk about it with Ven though…the outcome would have certainly been disappointing.

It's time to forget all about my past feelings. He doesn't need to know about any of this, not that he would ever find out. Haha…he's such a dense and innocent guy. That's what we all love about him. I hope he stays that way.