Chapter 0:


Reverie's End: Blades of Malice

Date: 11/23/989; Time: 21st hour

It was a bright day outside and it was not surprising at all, considering that it was the season of light. The Light of Ethos, in the center of the world, shines brightest at this time of the year. On this beautiful day, Gin decided to visit the flea market of Caleah, a city in the kingdom of East Valis. Gin, a merchant by trade, was only looking to buy some spices for his next business venture. He had only been there for 10 minutes when an amber glow caught his attention. It was a golden stone, definitely a rare one. But that was not the reason Gin noticed it. The stone emitted a large amount of magical energy. To the untrained eye, it was merely a rare beautiful stone, but Gin knew there was more to it than just that. He barely managed to hide his fascination from the merchant selling it.

He asked the merchant in his calm yet stern voice in the Thorian tongue. “How much for that stone?”

The merchant caught on quick; Gin could not fool him. “20 Gold pieces,” he replied in a mischievous tone.

Gin replied, “Make that 10.”

It was at times like these that Gin’s large frame was advantageous for haggling. Gin’s short and spiky white hair and fierce green eyes made many uncomfortable. It was as if he was staring directly into their souls. Most merchants focused on filling their pockets with gold, but Gin trained his body and soul. He was skilled at getting bargains.

The short black-haired merchant hesitated for a moment and meekly replied, “15 Gold, no less. I have a family to feed.”

Gin stared into the merchant’s eyes and said. “Very well. 15 Gold.” Gin knew how to be diplomatic and he had no intention of threatening the merchant. He paid the requisite gold, took the stone, and started his journey home. Gin came to Caleah to buy spices, but he had completely forgotten about that now. He was smitten with the stone; it had piqued his interest and had him thinking about it during the entire trip home.

Gin lived in the mountains of Caleah, where he could live without being annoyed by the commotion down below. The streets were bustling with people at all times of the day in this mid-sized trade city where crime was rampant. Most lived in tiny stone dwellings because few could afford better. It was far from the capital of Agra, so the monarchy paid it no heed.

Gin, unlike many merchants of his day, was a reserved and introspective man. His appearance was that of a 20 year old youth but he was far older than what one would think. It was only his eyes that gave him away; they told the story of one that had witnessed many tragedies throughout the years. He continued to walk up the mountain in complete silence.

Upon arrival to his mountain hut, Gin examined the golden stone once more. He picked it up and held it. The Light of Ethos shined upon it and he could see the stone absorbing its light. He gasped at the event that just took place. The magical stone was a vessel for the light of Ethos! Perhaps it could be used to harness the power of the light? Many thoughts came rushing into his mind as he pondered what had just happened. This magical stone could be used for evil if it ever fell into the wrong hands. What was a simple Calean merchant doing with such a powerful item? Gin needed answers.

Fortunately, Gin was not just a merchant. He was also a craftsman specializing in gems, and a scholar, so his library might have a book with some clues as to the origin of this stone. In fact, he was beginning to feel a sense of deja vu. It was as if he had seen this stone before and had no idea why. Surely, he had a book with the answers he was looking for. He entered his study room and searched for several hours but he found nothing. It was getting late, so he went to bed, but he had a hard time falling asleep. The stone was on his mind and the bright light of Ethos outside was only making matters worse.

The following day he had a light breakfast with rice and vegetables, and then he went outside for his morning workout. Pushups, curl ups, running, and swinging around his enormous hammer where all part of his daily routine. Gin was definitely not the average merchant. He looked very much like a fighter, and he could be when provoked. His lightweight clothing included white pants and a light blue shirt; he was not the type to attract attention with gaudy outfits. Utility and ease of movement were of paramount importance in combat. Gin preferred to stay out of trouble but did not hold back when threatened. As he was finishing up, he saw an ordinary-looking hawk flying towards his hut and landing on the roof.

This was no ordinary bird; his name was Kami. Virtually indistinguishable from a regular hawk, he was the perfect information gatherer. He was the eyes and ears of Gin. In a world of limited transportation, Kami could fly to places that were simply inaccessible to Gin. Kami and Gin had a spiritual bond, a telepathic one to be exact. They knew what the other was thinking. Knowledge was power, and Kami was Gin’s way of obtaining it. Kami was Gin’s spy, flying all over the world bringing back news of world events.

“Do you bring any tidings today?” said Gin.

Kami relayed everything to him in an instant. Many images flashed before Gin’s eyes and his countenance became serious.

“The Blades of Malice are growing in power; perhaps this is the will of Ethos. We will wait and see. Action must not be taken unless the balance of power is being disturbed,” said Gin, showing no emotion at all.

Being a merchant was merely a ruse. It was a profession that allowed him access to secrets known to few and it was important to have a good information network. Between Kami and Gin, they could find out anything. Gin seemed to be a plain, olive-skinned man on the surface, but he was a being that was greater than just a mere mortal.

Gin suddenly remembered the stone, and he rushed inside to continue his research. He perused his books on the history of magical items for several hours and eventually found something that matched the description. It was written in Kildar, a language unknown to men, but Gin could speak it and read it fluently. He had visited the Brave Mountains in the past and had learned their language. The text said the following:

“In the year 474, Jala of Karsi, created six stones made from Karsite. These stones brought prosperity to the city, by amplifying the mana in the air around the city. Seasonal effects could be amplified or reduced, depending on what was desired.”

Gin’s face became darkened because his worst fears had come true. The yellow stone really was as dangerous as he had surmised and it must never fall into the wrong hands.

“The land must never be manipulated to fit the fickle desires of men. The Light of Ethos is not some plaything! I shall guard this stone with my life!” yelled Gin.

Gin needed to know more. Any small bit of information would help but there was nothing to be found. The rest of the page had been blotted out, and several pages were missing. Someone did not want this knowledge to be revealed. Gin slammed his fist in anger as his only lead was now lost.

“No. All hope is not lost. There is still the merchant,” said Gin softly.

Gin went outside and looked over at Kami. He was about to send him on a quest, one that could take a long time.

“I need you to follow the merchant. Find out where he got the stone,” said Gin calmly.

Kami nodded in approval, with his dark black eyes staring back at Gin.

“That’s not all. I need you to keep tabs on the Blades of Malice. We cannot allow the stones to fall into their hands or anyone’s hands. The monarchs of the world are just as untrustworthy. We are the true guardians of Ethos; no one is to be trusted. Five stones remain and all must be found by us,” said Gin in his usual stern tone.

Kami flapped his brown wings, let out a scream in approval, and flew off in the direction of Caleah.

“Goodbye, my friend,” said Gin as he waved his arm.

Gin stood there and pondered about the future for a while. He then glanced up and looked up at the Light of Ethos. He didn’t want to admit it, but he had noticed an imperfection in the light. Something seemed off and he could not explain it. The light’s energy seemed chaotic, almost evil, instead of gentle like it had been in years past.

“I hope the stones are not involved in this disturbance in the light,” he thought to himself. “And the book’s pages were torn. I fear there is some evil force at work here,” he mused.

Gin eventually obtained the answers to all of his questions, but not as soon as he would have liked. He and Kami continued to observe the world but they only found dead ends. Nothing of note occurred until over a year later.