Chapter 1:

Bid Farewell to Root Haven

Beyond Light

As the sun rises from the east to pierce the canopy of the Juria rainforest and the morning dew envelops the blades of grass across Root Haven, Glare wakes up eager to begin his journey. "It's finally time... My new chapter in life begins now." With one hand clutching his ornate white bow and its iridescent string, and the other packing his violin case, chef knives, and some snacks for the road, Glare quickly thinks to himself how much he actually needs the grand prize of the tournament, a bottomless bag for storage. The Spirit Tournament is held every year to provide Spirit Threaders with some money, equipment and much needed reputation. This year Glare and Zero intend to participate in Tenmori, the capital of Juria, with the theme of the tournament being a two versus two combat.  

"I hope you weren't planning to leave without giving your old Dad a hug were you?" Glare's ears pricked up as he heard his Dad's voice outside their balcony. "Dad! You came back!" A tall figure with shaded facial hair, long messy black hair, a white t-shirt and long black pants stands on the other side of the second story balcony next to a white Shiba Inu running to lick Glare's face. 

"Well of course I did, what kind of father would I be if I wasn't there to wish my son well before he leaves?" A gentle laugh seeps through the words as the father finishes jumping over the balcony and embraces his son with a tight hug. "So it's finally time eh? You're finally leaving the bird's nest... The journey you'll embark on isn't an easy one, your mom's probably told you all the times I almost kicked the bucket, but what she won't tell you is how she fell in love with that same man. Your journey will be filled with amazing stories, you'll meet amazing people and you'll share belly laughs that will leave you breathless..." The father pushes Glare a bit back while still grabbing his shoulders and looking intently at his son. Watery eyes showed fear and anxiety, yet  gentle smile showed confidence in his son's ability to prevail.  

 "There will also be hardships, you'll cry so much some nights you'll wonder how you're able to produce that much water, you'll feel anger so profound that you'll ponder on your own humanity." 

"Whoa Dad, don't you think you're exaggerating a bit? I know it won't be easy but..." 

"Look Glare, going to Tenmori's Spirit Tournament is one thing, and it's a great place to start, but to be a Sentinela, you need the blessings of Elyria across her many Sacred Ruins. These have been the graveyard of many Spirit Threaders who were overconfident in their abilities. These ruins have immeasurable spiritual energy from Elyria herself and that blends in to create nightmarish spiritual creatures that feed on this energy. To receive the blessing of Elyria, it's not just about defeating a few spirits, it's about surviving the journey to her Shrine. Even the strongest Spirit Threader can fall prey to their own overconfidence. Ignorance is your greatest enemy, defeat that and you can overcome any challenge. " 

"I know that Dad, I mean, while other kid's got bedtime stories, Mom would tell me of the time she scavenge for ingredients to make medicinal soups and stews, all the while tending to your wounds in her hometown. She told me about a time where her first glance at you after 3 weeks of no contact, was of a walking corpse who had gotten lost in the Alloran Ruins." 


"YOU WERE NOT FINE." Ashe's echoing yell phased through the walls and petrified both father and son alike. "You looked as if you had crawled through shards of glass under the world's largest magnifying glass under a scorching drought." 

"She's clearly exaggerating." 

"AM NOT." Ashe's hands become engulfed in satin colored flames and from her wrist the flames merge to form the shape of an owl. "Get him Carmine" said Ashe as this flaming owl flaps its wings on its way to Nigel and burns the backside of his shirt.

"Ouch, hot, hot, ow, ooh that's gonna leave a mark, ow..." The frantic movements of Nigel patting away the flames of his now singed shirt provoked a smile upon Ashe and Glare. "Aw man I really liked this shirt. What'd you do that for? You coulda just asked me to take it off."

"Stop being a baby and turn around so Glare can see." Across Nigel's back were two things, one was a design of pure black geometrically intact lines that decorated his back in the shape of stars stacked upon each other. 

"Amazing... Are those the blessings of Elyria?" "Why yes, yes they --" 

"NOT THAT YOU IDIOTS" Ashe brings Carmine closer as shadows cast by the dancing flames dance across Nigel's back. Ashe takes her other hand and starts tracing the second thing in Nigel's back. Atrophied muscle laid throughout a haphazard slash pattern which intersects with some parts of the geometric black lines. 

"These scars will forever mark the day I almost lost you, they scare me to this day." A sad gaze washes over her face as she traces her fingers across Nigel's back.  

Nigel grabs her hand with a smile, "Well I see them as marking the day I knew I wanted to marry you, these scars made me who I am and I wouldn't trade them for the world." Nigel puts his forehead on hers and they hold hands for a while.

 "Right, cool. I'm gonna leave now lovebirds." Glare pats Casper one last time and heads out the door and on to his final stop before his grand journey. Genesis's room. A simple room with just a table, a bed and the view of the Juria Rainforest, and of course with ample empty space for her to dance. As he steps in, Genesis quickly hides something she was tinkering with on her table.

"Hey Gen, I'm leaving now." 

"... I made something for you." "Oh yeah? What'd you make?" Genesis pulls out a wooden box decorated with a wolf running around a field of flowers, blue, orange and white. As she opens it metallic gears and blue static energy start gyrating the inner machinations and it starts reproducing the song they all performed last night.

Glare was speechless, "... How did you do this, Gen? This is amazing."  "I really loved dancing to your songs so I wanted a way to keep listening to them... I came up with this." Genesis has always loved tinkering with her electric talent to cause different musical sounds to emerge but to have it actually reproduce a song? Unheard of. Glare envelops Genesis with a hug. 

"You're really amazing Gen, I can't believe you were able to do this yourself. Maybe you should give up dancing and become an inventor instead." "Huh? Why would I ever want to make these for strangers? I only made this because I wanted to hear it again. It's a precious memory." Genesis begins swaying from side to side in her room, "Besides, there's nothing better than daaancing and feeeling the flow of the sounds merging with my eeevery step!" Crackles of blue lightning flash as Genesis changes her poses for each beat. 

"Riiight. I was partly joking, you'll always be a dance freak... but really... this is amazing. Thank you. " Genesis does a final spin and a bow and replies, "Maybe you'll see me at a show in Zimadra one day, Bear!" Glare shrugs off his childish nickname gives her a final hug and prepares to leave for Tenmori.

As Glare takes his first steps of freedom and the excited butterflies start welling within, he feels a hand on his shoulder. "Ah ah ah... You seem to have quite the full backpack there, Glare. What have you got in there?" 

Glare freezes for a second with a pale face and just replies, "Oh you know... the essentials." Glare reluctantly passes over his backpack, "HAHAHAHA, come on Glare, you know fully well how to COOK, did you really think you could take MY ingredients? Alloran 3 Spice? You know how hard it is to find this? Here, you can take these." Ashe passes over tropical fruits in a wooden container and a bag of rice. 

"Maybe cooking on the road will remind you of when we would make new dishes together with random ingredients. The world is your oyster Glare! Harvest, forage and make delicious food and maybe you'll finally come up with your signature dish eh? 

Glare sighs but proudly wears a smile, knowing full well he'll miss his crazy parents. "I'll miss you, I love you both. I'll be sure to write home if I can." "You mean WHEN you can" replied Ashe with a smile on her face. "Right right... when I can haha." 

"We love you son, stay safe and keep in touch. We'll be here waiting for you." Said Nigel as he appears next to Ashe with his hand wrapped around her waist. He also scurries over Genesis with his hand on her shoulder. One final hug is shared amongst the Haoru Household and finally... 

"I love you all too... I'm heading off now." As tears force their way into his eyes he turns to look over at Zero, armed with a backpack too large for any reasonable human to carry.

Zero laughs at this scene across the cobblestone path and says, "Are you all ready to go, you softie?" "What? YOU are telling me YOU didn't get emotional?" replies Glare as he wipes his eyes with his forearm. Zero thinks back to his bawling father begging him not to leave and stay with the family company and Zero crying and hugging his father saying not a chance in hell. "Nope! I was as cool as the snowy leaves in Zimadra."  

"Sure you were. Are you sure you want to come? Everyone always thought you'd take over your Dad's smithy." "Sure, I'll stay if you take over your mom's restaurant." "Fair point... To Tenmori then?" "To Tenmori." 

Taylor Victoria