The Flight of The Draykes
Coming back to the prison, I saw that everybody had left except for Sia who was staring blankly off into the distance.
Coughing softly, I alerted her of my presence.
Turning, a slow smile spread across her face.
Taking the shield out of the cover, I handed it to Sia, saying - “For you,” with a wide smile.
Hesitating, Sia looked at me before saying, “Isn’t this from the treasury? Wouldn’t it be really valuable Faust? I can’t accep-” her voice trailed off as I shoved the shield into her hands.
Pursing her lips at me, she turned her attention to the shield and her eyes began shining as she took the shield in.
A classic kite shield - wide at the top and narrow at the bottom -, it would cover half of her body when she stood behind it. The surface of the shield itself gleamed in different metallic colors with the reflection of light on it.
It had the insignia of the House of Drayke on it, the dragon coiled around the spear, but below the dragon were a line of words that I couldn’t read.
It was at this moment that Sir Leonidas entered and hurriedly, I asked him whether he knew what the words said.
Eyes widening, he read the words in silence before heavily saying, “For love, duty, and honor.”
“For love, duty, and honor-” Sia repeated infatuated.
Looking me in the eyes, her soft eyes conveyed what she was feeling perfectly.
Taking her hand, I told her, “a drop of your blood might be needed to use this - so I’m going to prick your finger okay?”
Nodding, she gave her assent, only to yelp as I quickly nipped her finger and broke the skin.
“Why did you do it like that,” She asked angrily and a little weakly.
“Because I will never raise a weapon against you outside of training,” I replied steadily.
Falling silent, she looked at her finger before trembling softly.
Turning, she placed her finger upon the shield - only for nothing to happen.
Confused, I said, “Perhaps it needs a few more drops of blood?”
Wrinkling her brows, Sia squeezed out another few drops - only for no change to happen yet again.
Incredibly confused and dejected now, I said, “perhaps its magic has faded away.”
Nodding, Sia said kindly, “it’s a beautiful shield, Faust. Magic or not, I’ll always treasure it!”
Looking lovingly at the shield, she whispered softly, “Forever that is. I’ll treasure you forever.”
Not hearing her last words, I nodded and said, “I also got this thing even though I have no idea what it does,” as I took out the horn that was now as big as my palm.
Sir Leonidas perked up when he heard the word horn and ambled over again to observe the Horn.
“This is…” He said, confused.
“A horn that was in the treasury. A drop of blood accidentally dropped on it from my hand and it became small. Now it’s apparently bound to me.”
“How does a drop of blood fall accidentally?” Both Sia and the teacher asked wide-eyed simultaneously.
Sheepishly, I narrated the way it happened, only for them to shake their head in disbelief that something so coincidental could happen.
I mean something that couldn’t be used for centuries turns out to suddenly activate just because a drop of blood fell on it? Could it be any more coincidental? Also, I’m sure that generations of Draykes would have dripped their blood on it, so why was my blood special?
Asking the teacher if he knew what it was and how to use it, only to get a negative answer - I tried putting the horn into the finite ring only to be stumped as it refused to go in.
I tried again and again, only to fail each time.
Muttering profanities to myself, I tried another time only to fail again. Pleadingly, I looked at Teacher who looked at me bemused.
“If the finite ring is bound to you and unless you release it - nobody else can use it.”
“But how do I release it?”
The teacher looked at me strangely and said, “By having a warforce equal to a silver rank.”
“Those rings are not meant for anybody below silver rank, you know?” he said, not without a touch of envy.
“When I was your age, I had to lug around a military pack weighing a few hundred kilos like a mule on terrain that horses and beasts could not go on.” he continued, bitterly.
“Finite stones also have different ranks. That stone of yours is a rare rank finite stone. This means that it has around 100 meters of storage inside which needless to say, is more than enough for you to put in anything you want. I can’t imagine that James felt good giving you that.”
“100 meters?! Tha-that-that’s huge!”
Then picking up on the core part, I quickly asked, “Wait, you said rare class, that means there are other classes too?”
Looking in disbelief at me, Our teacher said, “You don’t know the differences between classes?”
Shaking our heads, Me and Sia both indicated our lack of knowledge.
Sighing, Leonidas walked to the wall before touching the mechanism that allowed the wall to show the weapons behind it.
He slowly picked up certain weapons and carrying them carefully, came back and placed them on the table.
Picking up the most common iron dagger, he simply said, “Common rank equipment. Called common not because of the material - but because of the forging. It cannot support warforce infusion and is useless.”
He then picked up a shield that was glowing slightly. He said, “Bronze rank equipment - Can store warforce that depletes over time and has to be refilled by others. Can be used by awakened ranks.”
He further walked along the table before gripping a chest plate of an armor set and admiringly said, “Silver rank equipment - it can only be armor pieces that can be injected with warforce to cover gaps and missing pieces. Generally, though, it is better to use the forceshield separately and the armor alone after injecting warforce before a battle.”
Continuing his explanation, he elaborated, “Silver rank armor is essentially a way to increase the warforce capabilities of an individual as well as to make sure that weak spots cannot be easily targeted.”
“For example, if you wore chainmail, it would cover the gaps in the chainmail. Or perhaps you wore your armor but forgot your greaves, then the warforce inside can extend to form a pair of greaves on top of your forceshield layer.”
“It’s complicated but when you reach the level of a knight, there are many more things to consider than swinging your weapon.”
Finally, he took out his own sword.
“Gold rank equipment,” He said lovingly, “It can channel warforce through weapons and armor. The weapons, however, are the most important. Because only certain weapons made of specific alloys and metals can channel warforce adequately.”
“It is called gold-rank because only gold-rank knights have the purity and strength of warforce to activate them. A silver rank might be able to briefly use these weapons if he activates all his warforce, but the time he can use it for would be negligible.”
“As for the weapons above gold-rank, they are of many categories such as epic, legendary, and immortals.”
“They are based on the number of attributes that each weapon has been infused with. Essentially, imagine that an iron rank is aiding you with warforce enhancements. Attributes can be elemental - fire,wind,etc. Attributes can also be physical - Strength, stamina, etc. It can also be intangible - the gathering of warforce, the circulation of warforce, the influence of external factors.”
“The last attributes of intangibles automatically qualify a weapon as a legendary weapon, even if it has only that one attribute. The other attributes however are divided as follows.”
“Epic - 1 attribute. Legendary - 2 attributes. Immortal - 3 attributes.”
“Of course, the rarity of weapons doesn’t mean anything if you cannot use them properly. Some also become overly reliant on weapons and forget to hone their skills. Remember, a weapon is a tool. It is not your strength.”
Interjecting, I asked, “But teacher, you said my finite stone was rare - but there’s no rare class that you’ve spoken about!”
Nodding, the Teacher slowly spoke, “Indeed, I did not mention them because rarity is based on the artifacts and they intersect with equipment only at the higher levels.”
“Artifacts are those items left behind after the great collapse. They are items of magic that are still usable even today. Some have had magic sealed in them just like bronze equipment and above. Others have slowly activated in the past 300 hundred years for reasons we do not know.”
“It’s according to how rare the artifacts are that they have been ranked from common, all the way to legendary.”
“That finite stone of yours is a small space that is separate from our world, a pocket world you might say that is limited. Hence it is called a finite stone. At 100 meters, it is a rare stone. At 10 meters, it would be a superior stone. At 1 meter, it would be common.”
“Broadly speaking, the rarities can be converted as such - Common - Common, Silver - Superior, Gold-rare.”
“The higher ones are the same.”
“My sword here is a gold-ranked sword and is equal to your finite stone in price theoretically.”
“But more of my swords can be made, whereas your stone is one of the few in existence, and as such the price varies wildly!”
Laughing, the Teacher said, “I wasn’t going to teach you today but who knew that you would get so many treasures. I’m quite jealous of you right now, you know?”
Blushing, I realized that I didn’t even know when Teacher was born, let alone any other information about Teacher, apart from his observer status and his participation in the battle of Pyrrhia.
I was about to ask when he cut me off, “That sheath of yours is also an artifact. A superior one though.”
Jaw-dropping, I quickly took it out of the finite ring.
Familiar with the drill, I quickly dripped a drop of blood on the sheath and a moment later it shivered and I felt a faint connection to it.
Taking out the dagger reverently from the box, I tried placing it in the sheath and the sheath shrank until it fitted the dagger perfectly.
Now the dagger - which looked like a dangerous dumpling that had been wrapped - was silent, as though it was sleeping. None of the sharp aura was being emitted.
Awed, I took out the dagger and touched a longsword to the sheath which immediately expanded to accommodate the long sword.
Holding another dangerous dumpling in my hands, I looked at Teacher with gratitude.
Sniffing, Teacher looked away lonelily, as though there was no one who could understand how generous he was!
Slowly taking out the longsword and placing the sheath beside me, I held up the dagger before going through the drill of dripping blood on it.
Only for the blood to disappear as though it never even existed when it reached the blade of the dagger.
Shocked, I examined it even more carefully before looking at Sia who was just as shocked as I was.
Leonidas exclaimed, “This is an artifact too! A powerful one at that!”
I looked at the dagger before throwing my head up to the sky and shouting, “hahaha, Sia is the best. Look at her, giving me an artifact to use!”
Blushing, Sia nearly threw the shield at me before thinking better of it.
Coming back to reality, I looked at Sir Leonidas and asked, “Do you know what rank this is?”
Furrowing his brows, he said, “I am not an appraiser, as such I can’t tell you what rank it is. The sheath, the finite stone, and the weapons are all things that I have had appraised before. Hence, I could tell you. But this...this is unknown to me,”
“Is there an appraiser in Draconis City I asked?”
“The blacksmith guild, the auction house, the adventures guild, and the appraisers guild should have appraisers who can appraise the dagger but I would warn you to exercise caution. It’s a very powerful artifact.”
“How do you know that teacher?”
Narrowing his eyes, the Teacher replied, “Because I’ve felt death only a few times before, and today, I felt it once more when your blood disappeared into the dagger.”
Shocked, I subconsciously wanted to take a step back but then thinking of how it was a dagger that Sia gave me, I clutched it even tighter.
Breaking the somber mood, our teacher chuckled before saying, “Go. I don’t suppose you two want to train on a day like your birthday right?”
Grinning back, I nodded my head quickly before looking to Sia who met my eyes with equal vivacity.
Before leaving though, I asked the Teacher why my horn wouldn’t go into the finite ring.
Slapping his head, the Teacher exclaimed, “That’s right, I forgot about it in the shock of you both not knowing the equipment classes. If I'm right, the artifact is too strong to be placed in your finite ring.”
Puzzled, I said, “But I had put it inside before, so why?”
The teacher replied, “That’s because it was awakening and was weak enough that it could be stored inside. But now it has awakened fully and again if I am correct, it’s an artifact which had a consciousness inside.”
“A consciousness?” I asked, confused.
“A spirit, so to say. Maybe it’s still alive but slumbering. However, I believe it has been destroyed or it would never have bound itself to someone as weak as you.”
“Hey!” I replied indignantly before leaving with Sia.
The rest of the day passed peacefully and happily.
We went to visit ol Thomas who had made a cake specially for me. We cut it, just the three of us before he rushed off to prepare for the visit of some big shot who was coming in the next two weeks.
Then we visited Sia’s Avia, the warmaiden of the hundred skies, who gave Sia a ring. A ring that puzzled me greatly - for wasn’t it my birthday?
But it was a question that went unanswered along with the question of why Sia blushed so hard when she received the ring.
Shrugging it off, I continued enjoying the rest of the time with her as we went to all the places that we loved.
Finally, we returned in the night and as we stood outside her room, I thanked the powers that be for watching over me and blessing me so much.
I thanked them harder when Sia hugged me tightly before leaving.
In a daze, I wandered through the hallways of the palace like a ruddy ghost before finding myself in front of my parent's chambers.
I was about to step in when I heard loud voices.
The voices were arguing about how they should refuse and how they are being unjustly antagonized.
I would have listened further except that I recognized this was a conversation that I shouldn’t be hearing.
Fighting against the desire to hear, I pulled myself away only to stop in shock as I heard,
“Battles are coming. We might have to fight on all sides, but fight we shall.”
The voice was my father’s.
The voices that replied to him had only one voice that I recognized. My rogue teacher who sounded absolutely sober as he said,
“If we fight, we shall be destroyed.”
Slipping away, my ears throbbed with those last words, and the uneasy feeling in my heart grew unstoppably.
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