AN: Before you say anything, I definitely read Chronicles of Leere by Endlos Nacht. It inspired me to write this, but this is certainly a one-shot and nothing more.
Another Avatar Insert-Story
Leonard, Yulie, and Eldore sat down on the steps outside the palace. They were at a real dilemma. Order and peace needed to be restored to Balandor, but they were in no shape to take on such an arduous journey. Sarvain had said so…in so many words and Eldore had agreed. Leonard had his knight, but as they were, they probably couldn't make it two minutes outside of Balandor without dying outright. They had made a trip to the general store to fill their pockets to the brim with heal potions. They could only hold so much and they were bound to run out of them before they got to a good resting spot. Leonard's heart was in the right place—if not obsessively so. He'd follow Cisna to the depths of Hell if he thought he could save her by doing so. Yulie's motives were convenient as well. Likewise, she'd follow Leonard to the depths of Hell if she thought she could knock some sense into him. And Eldore, well he was the older, wiser, more sensible version of Leonard. They had identical motives. In short, their little company desperately wanted this journey to start already. Had Eldore not been there, Leonard and Yulie might have already taken off on their own perhaps to their own deaths.
"I don't think we have anything to worry about. I mean, we have the knight, don't we?" Leonard said aloud when no one had anything to say. "We won't even need much more magic if I'm always in the front line."
"Leonard, you don't even have the slightest clue what that knight is all about. Yes, it helped you in a crunch before, but that could have been a fluke. Who knows what could happen the next time you call upon it?" Yulie replied.
"You can't get anything done by being cautious," Leonard declared.
"That may hold some truth to it," Eldore said thoughtfully, "But as we are, we're up the creek without a paddle."
"Alright, then, let's say you're right," Leonard began, "What are we supposed to do about it? We are the best hope of finding her."
"You're a native around here, aren't you?" Eldore asked.
"Yeah," Leonard acquiesced.
"Well, do you know anyone proficient enough in divine magic who might be willing to divulge their secrets."
Leonard thought for a moment, a long moment as his eyebrows scrunched in thought, "No, I don't…wait, there's one person I know."
Yulie and Eldore waited for the other to continue, but he seemed at a loss of words.
"Well," Yulie encouraged the other, "do you know this person or not?"
"Yeah," Leonard said slowly. "When I was younger, Rapacci began teaching me how to wield a sword. There was another kid too. His dad knew Rapacci well enough to convince him to train his son as well. That kid, well, it became clear to me that he had no talent at all. As time went on, he never improved. He had trouble even with holding the sword properly. He was a lost cause. One day I did something…something I regret. I mean, I was just a kid—I didn't know any better." Leonard sighed heavily. He was having trouble even saying what it was he did, but he was never one for holding back things. Eventually, he continued. "I made fun of him. I can't remember the exact words I said, but I really upset him. He ran home crying. The next day, Rapacci informed me that the kid who had trained alongside me for almost two years wouldn't be coming over for training—his father died last night of a heart attack. I felt so guilty. I felt as if I had ruined his life. He had lived with a single father. Who would take care of him now? As soon as I could I ran over to his house and I knocked on the door and I kept knocking on the door, but he never answered. I never saw him again. People talked in town. I found out later that he had moved someplace else to live with his mother. I think it was Baccea."
"Wait a minute, I thought you said you knew someone in Balandor," Yulie said interrupting him.
"I was getting to that," Leonard clarified. "He lives here now as far as I know. He's lived here for quite some time in the same house as before. I just put in the back of my mind."
"Okay, this is all really interesting, but does he know magic?" Yulie asked.
"Well, he has to, right? Weren't you listening? He really sucks at using swords so he has to be a magic user."
"Aren't you just grabbing for straws here?" Yulie accused the other.
"Yulie, he's a mercenary now."
"Well, you didn't say that."
"I might have if you had let me get to it."
"Alright, kids," Eldore said as he cleared his throat. "Enough bickering. Now, the way I see it, this person is the best lead we have. We don't have a lot of time. We might as well see if this man can help us."
"Aren't you going to tell us his name?" Yulie inquired.
"His name? It's Avalon."
"Okay then, let's go meet this Avalon."
Eldore and Yulie stood up completely prepared to climb down the steps, but they stopped when they realized that Leonard wasn't following.
"C'mon, Leonard," Yulie said cheerfully, "It's been years since that incident, hasn't it? I don't think he'd hold a grudge for all that time."
Leonard looked to the ground. "I don't know…maybe we are just grabbing for straws. Maybe we should just—
"No, we're going and that's that. You're the only one who knows where he lives so you have to show us where to go," Yulie said.
"I don't want to…I know he hates me…that's why I've avoided going to that house all this time. Yulie—
Leonard was startled when Yulie took ahold of one of his hands and pulled him up.
"No more of this sulking. We're going. You show us the way," Yulie said forcefully.
Leonard sighed, "Alright. I'll take you."
"That's the spirit. Besides, I think it's time you finally say what you've always wanted to say to him. That's the only way you can move on."
Leonard looked up at her clear eyes and nodded once.
After much encouragement from Yulie, Leonard knocked on the door. He waited and waited, but the door didn't open. His eyes immediately became downcast. Just as he was about to turn, the door opened. Startled, Leonard looked up.
"Yes," the man said with little pretense.
Everything about him was startling from his towering height to his uncanny gaze that seemed to burrow through his very eyes. His hair reminded Leonard of that of a Papitaur, but no long rabbit-like ears protruded from his head. His eyes were a bright golden color and his hair starkly white. These things coupled with his tan skin tone made him appear quite strange indeed. Weren't they supposed to be the same age? The man who stood before him seemed as if he had already lived a lifetime.
"Did you want something, young sir, or did you come to stare?" the man asked interrupting Leonard's observations.
"Oh, ah, sorry. You're Avalon, right?"
"That would be me."
"Don't you remember me?"
Avalon looked at the other for a long moment. "You do look familiar. Have we met somewhere?"
"Here, in Balandor. We used to train together under Rapacci."
"Ah, I remember now. You're Leonard. It feels like so long ago," Avalon replied opening the door a little wider.
"I just wanted to say…I'm sorry."
Avalon looked confused for a moment then he realized what Leonard was referring to. "Oh, son, that was so long ago. Is that what you came over to say? Well, I can see you really wanted to say it so if it's any consolation, I accept your apology."
"What? I thought you…I thought you hated me. All this time I've been blowing everything out of proportion. I'm such an idiot."
"Ho, ho, slow down there. No one's feelings no matter what they are should be regarded as stupid. You wanted to apologize and I respect that. What's done is done. Who are your friends over there?"
"Oh, that's Yulie and Eldore. Listen, we came here to ask you for a favor."
"So here's the real reason for your visit."
"Well, I guess I better ask you first—are you familiar with magic?"
"It's the only thing I'm good at. You saw how horrible I was with a sword—it just wasn't my forte. I guess I should be thanking you. After what you said to me, I began to rethink things. I take criticism horribly, I really do, but I needed to hear that even it was a bit harsh. I wanted to be big and strong like my father. He had trained under Rapacci as well. If it weren't for you, I might never have considered magic. My mother taught me. It's all I know now."
"That's perfect," Leonard said with more excitement than he had wanted to reveal to the other. "I mean to say, would you be willing to teach us some of your technique? Just some healing skills."
"The way you guys are dressed, looks like you're trying to go someplace far. I'm familiar with that sort of thing. Certainly, there should be at least one person in the group who's proficient in healing." Avalon's eyes passed over the other two and they moved in a bit closer when they saw that they were being included in the conversation. "So, Yulie and Eldore. Nice to meet you two."
"Likewise," Yulie spoke up.
He smiled at her and then returned his gaze to Leonard. "I'll teach one of you. That should be sufficient. Well, come in all of you—it'd be rude to simply leave you standing outside."
The trio stepped into his house at first apprehensively, but then considerably more comfortable as he offered them tea and food. He was quite hospitable; for a mercenary that is. In fact, they were no longer certain what his occupation was. They had gotten their information from Leonard and he hadn't actually met him in years, long years it would seem. Eldore had assumed that they would be the same age and he suspected Yulie had done the same. Avalon seemed far older, but then that was only hinted at from his mannerisms. His face appeared quite youthful, but his sharp, golden eyes and his white hair gave off an air of a wizened, old man.
"You're not really a mercenary, are you?" Leonard finally said.
"What would make you say that?" Avalon inquired with a grin. "Should I be demanding payment for my services? Would that seem more in character, for you?"
"Now that you mention it…" Leonard began.
"As long as you're willing to learn, that's payment enough for me. You'd be surprised at how many people take knowledge for granted especially when it is so hard to come by, well, at least the proper knowledge. I take on bounties purely for financial reasons, but I do have other plans."
"Sounds really interesting," Yulie spoke up, "What are they?—if you don't mind me asking."
"It's no trouble at all. I want to open up a school for mages. Nothing huge just simply a place where one could learn the proper use of magic. Magic is a double edged sword; most people don't realize that. I hear countless stories of its misuse. People experimenting with it wantonly. But there's nothing anyone could do for it. People are interested in what magic can be used for and all you could do was either find some musty, old man who happens to know enough about things or become apprenticed to another fellow mage who are far in between—you're completely at a loss. Most people don't put in so much effort if it's easier to learn by trial and error, but sometimes the error is too great."
"When you say magic is a double edged sword, do you mean it's the case all the time?" Yulie asked.
"There is no exception. There is always a cost. The greater the magic, the greater the cost. But you don't have to worry, small magic like healing or slightly enhancing someone's attributes, have an almost negligible cost if that's what you're worried about."
"Oh, alright," Yulie replied. She wasn't really worried about that at all. She glanced over at Leonard who gave her a knowing look.
The dangers of using the White Knight which Yulie was sure required some great magic, became very real at that moment. They didn't know what the dangers were, but they did know that it existed in some way, shape or form.
"Of course, traveling through time or using some ancient transforming technique could exact a fatal cost," Avalon said pleasantly as he took another sip of his tea.
Leonard almost spit out his tea. Eldore choked on the food that was in his mouth for a moment.
"Hey, are you guys okay?" Yulie asked concerned.
"Fine," Leonard said quickly.
Yulie glanced over at Eldore who gave her a reassuring nod.
"Well," Avalon said placing his hand on the table. "I'm sure you're short on time. The sooner we can get started, the better. You don't have to bother deciding amongst yourself who I will teach. I've chosen Yulie."
"Wait a minute," Yulie said a little startled, "I don't have the slightest clue about magic. Wouldn't it take too long? What about Eldore? He's already knows a few things."
"He knows nothing," Avalon replied flatly.
Yulie gasped lightly despite herself as he said this. He stated it so plainly that it sounded more like a fact than an opinion. Yulie looked to Eldore, but he seemed unperturbed. Then again, Eldore seemed unperturbed about everything. One could never tell his feelings from just observing the surface.
"Come, Yulie, it isn't so difficult to learn a few tricks. You seem like an intelligent human being. Magic is to be used responsibly and with care. You just remember those two things and you should never go astray. Step outside with me, please."
Leonard and Eldore watched as the other two exited the house.
"That stuck up bastard," Leonard complained. "He doesn't understand our situation. I have to use the White Knight, it's our only hope."
"Without Yulie where would we be?" Eldore said presently. "Clearly, he would never have agreed to teach the two of us anything. He brought us here into his house so that he could further study us and our intentions. That was how he made his choice. Yulie's motivations were true; it must have resonated with him."
"But how does he know all these things?"
"How should I know? He is a mage after all. They do have their ways."
"Maybe he can read minds."
"I think it's something deeper than that. Perhaps requiring that we be in a close vicinity or maybe there was something in the food. Who knows?"
"That's a really scary thought," Leonard said looking down at his food.
"I think we should use this time to further plan out our journey. Something tells me, we may not be able to attain Cisna quite so easily especially after giving them such a head start."
"So Leonard told you all of that?" Avalon said after hearing what Yulie had to say. "Since I happen to know a great deal about you, then it's only fair I should share a few things. Yes, I did move out of Balandor. Even then, I knew enough about elemental magic and some divine magic to see myself safely to my mother. She lived in a place called Albana so I went there, but she no longer lived there. I asked around if anyone had seen a Papitaur with dark skin and yellow eyes—she was quite hard to miss unless you never looked down. They told me she had moved to Baccea. I couldn't get there immediately; I needed money so I took on a few bounties, small ones but enough to finance a trip to Baccea. I purchased a good map and some supplies and head off. Had I been a more naïve teenager, I might not have made it. Baccea is in the middle of wilderness."
"Wait, hold on. Leonard said you were just a kid."
"I was. Well, I wasn't an adult. I was short for my age. Everyone simply assumed that I was younger than I really was. In Albana, people simply assumed I was a Papitaur who lacked ears. Anyways, I finally made it there. This was where I learned the proper use of magic. My mother, she might as well have been a mage and she taught me all she knew on the subject. I wanted to stay there with her, but I no longer fit in. I felt more like a giant. The friends that I had once known kept their distance. I looked more and more like a human and I despised it, I despised myself. I was an idiot for not putting two and two together. My father was human, but my mother had forbid me of speaking about him. When I was with my father, he had forbid me of speaking about my mother. It all made sense now. I had no choice but to leave Baccea. If anything, I could pass as a human. I returned to my formal home and I began my life anew."
"Hm. Now you know. You can stop wondering about it. And I haven't the slightest clue how either of them met, none of the how's or why's. I never asked and I don't think I'm particularly interested in it. Now, do I have your undivided attention?"
"Now I do. Let us begin."
It didn't take more than three hours to teach Yulie enough so that the company of three could have a safe passage wherever they might go. Avalon wasn't satisfied until Yulie felt comfortable using magic.
"You're a fast learner. Have you considered becoming a mage?" Avalon asked the other.
"No, not really."
"A sword can only take you so far. It is good, though, that you can protect yourself already—you're an invaluable member to the group."
Yulie smiled brightly at this. For the first time, she actually felt useful. Her greatest fear was being deadweight to everyone else. Now she knew something that the other two didn't; they needed her support. Perhaps becoming a mage or at least proficient in divine magic wouldn't be such a bad idea.
"Yulie, there's something else I must say. Keep a close eye out for Leonard. He's quite in over his head."
"Is it true what you said back there then? Will he die?"
"Not immediately. It is a slow progress. Though he is young and full of energy, eventually if he comes to rely too much on that transformation, then he will begin to wither away. Make sure it doesn't get that far."
"Okay, I will."
"Easier said than done, I know, but I have every confidence that you'd try your best."
It was then that Eldore and Leonard stepped out from the house. Leonard clearly had his arms crossed in impatience.
"Are you done yet," Leonard asked Avalon.
"Yes, yes," Avalon said back with slight annoyance. "Your journey eagerly awaits you.
Leonard followed by Eldore made their way down the steps to Yulie. They soon waved their goodbyes and Avalon was left to himself. When they were out of sight, he sat down on the steps. His eyes were downcast as he thought of the kind of adventure they might have. Something seemed different about them. He sensed that they were on the verge of doing something quite remarkable. If only he could be there at that moment…There was his chance and he had squandered it. His pride which could easily be injured had held him back yet again.
Then he heard running feet coming towards him. He looked up not expecting to see Yulie. She was out of breath.
"I convinced him," she said steadily when she was within earshot. Then she took another deep gulp of air.
"Convinced who of what?" Avalon asked looking quite confused.
"Leonard. I asked if you could join us. I said I was still a novice at magic and who knows what we could run in to. You can come too…I mean, if you want to, of course."
Yulie was smiling from ear to ear. She must have known, but how had she known? Avalon was quite flabbergasted. This woman. She had seen right through his façade. Avalon stood up.
"Then take me with you."
AN: I wish I knew how to take the image of my avatar and place it on the computer. Perhaps making it the story cover, but alas, I do not. Description will have to suffice. CORRECTION: I've discovered how to copy the image off the TV screen so I've made it the story cover. viola.