Chapter 2:

Takanova II

Sword Quest

"Now everyone, please quietly take your seats," Master Gambell rang out politely.

The middle-aged, bespectacled man patiently rested his elbow on his wooden podium, smoothing out his thick, neatly groomed beard. Meanwhile, the all boy class was anything but quiet, shuffling their stools around to their desks in a clamor.

"Say, Cedric, I'll bet you're excited for today's session, eh?"

This scrappy looking short haired boy taking a seat next to him was none other than Quentle, one of Cedric's best friends. He was a rather frivolous boy who often spoke carelessly, and paid no mind to things like personal space or being sensitive to one's personal hang ups. Knowing this, Cedric figured he was being insulted somehow, but he wasn't sure exactly how.

"Well, isn't everyone excited? This is a rather intriguing topic to learn about, isn't it?" The proper sounding boy in front of them turned his head to chime in.

"Ah, shut up, Mel. Go on, rich boys should face the front like good rich boys."

"Repeating rich boys like that just makes you sound like you don't have anything intelligent to say.."

"Ahh, this is why I hate you rich boy-"

"See? Rich boy, rich boy, rich boy, it's all you ever-"

"Oy, wait a sec, Quentle, why are you asking me, in particular?" Cedric inquired impatiently.

"Huh? Of course I would, you warhead!"

Cedric had, at one point, made a single comment regarding his interest in becoming a Teutonic Knight-General in the army, and Quentle, being who he was, had decided it was going to be a running joke to spite him.

Of course, neither Cedric or Mel understood what he was getting at, and therefore stared at him with narrowed eyes.

"Eh? Wait, did you two not know the main topic today isn't about the dome?"

"Huh?" Cedric and Mel sounded off in unison.

"Hahh, you were both nodding off at the end of the last class, weren't you?"


They both averted their eyes, holding back smirks

"Gahh, what a waste of a good upbringing. You two are useless."

"Ah, excuse me there, sir. I'll have you know I never actually fall asleep in class; I doze off with a completely straight face." Cedric replied in an exaggerated voice. He had indeed perfected this technique. He couldn't do something so disrespectful to his teacher, after all.

"Yep, I was completely out."

"Get a grip, rich boy!" Quentle and Cedric sounded off in unison.

"…hmph. Anyway, aren't you a diligent one, Quentle the ruffian?"

"Ohh, that's right, paying attention all the way through, what a good-natured boy!" Cedric joined Mel, plastering a smug smirk on his face in Quentle's direction.

"Geh! S-shutup! And don't call me a ruffian, rich boy!"

"Alright class, that's quite enough. Time to settle in now, if you would. Ah, Quentle, do shut your mouth."

"What the hell Gambell?! Why just me?!" As the class snickered, Master Gambell opened his notebook and began.

"Well then, today we'll be discussing two major topics. First, the Mist Dome we live under and its history, and second, the story of the very first Teutonic Heir to the Sword, also known as the first Teutonic Knight."Cedric's attention shot toward Gambell in an instant.

This would be a session that he wouldn't dream of dozing off in.

"Well then, I'd like to start with the Mist Dome that formed over these Islands of Molovar, twenty years ago. So…let's just get this out of the way now-what kind of rumors have all of you heard about the Mist Dome's sudden appearance?"

"The Gods came to trap us here and harvest us!"

"All the rain clouds in the world came here and froze so that we'd get hungry and desperate and kill each other for food!" Two carefree boys blurted out excitedly from a table away, bringing a cringe to Gambell's face.

"Ah..hahh. Kaolo, Farum, the way you say it sounds stupid, but the second theory isn't completely moronic. The lack of rain clouds within the dome could be explained by the dome absorbing the water vapor. This leads us to why we very rarely see rain, which is why farming families such as yourselves must work so hard to prepare the fields for the next rain. However, can anyone explain how-"

"There is a cloud, that's why we get rain." Quentle cut in with a blunt tone.

"Ohh, how surprising, what more do you know about this, Quentle?"

"I heard it at the shipyard. There's fisherman that have seen a huge silver cloud. When it appeared, the normally still ocean became wavy, and there's actually wind, which created a storm so strong that they barely made it back in one piece."

"Mm, indeed, you seem to be quite well informed, for a ruffian."

"Oy, Gambell!"

The teacher ignored this, and continued.

"Here on Takanova we have never officially seen the cloud pass over, but we have witness testimony that it has come somewhat near our island many times, hence the rainfall three or four times a year. You won't hear anything ground-breaking from me regarding its appearance or what it means as I know nothing more than what you've likely already heard, just like the Mist Dome itself.

"However, there are certain theories that can be useful in attaining a greater understanding of what the Dome means for us, both our state, and our country of islands. Therefore, allow me to share with you my own theory. To begin, we must venture back to the beginning of Takanova's story."

The class began to grow restless. Cedric gulped, silently waiting. He'd been diligently listening in wait for this part, not because of his sense of duty, but due to his vague ambition.

"So, going back some ten generations ago, we Teutons were still in the process of discovering this vast, beautiful side of the island. At the same time on the other side of the island the neighboring Shlanks were beginning to explore beyond the marshes and into the vast mountainous region.

"While the Teutons eagerly scoured the area's resources, quickly building villages and a castle, the Shlanks journeyed through the treacherous mountains, developing their weaponry and battle strength due to the swarms of Giant Ant Beasts. After one of our sentry forces returned with news of the Shlanks, the first king decided to build a dojo and begin combat training to prepare for a possible fight.

After several weeks of training, five men began to grow much stronger than the rest, and continued to compete vigorously with each other. Once the men felt comfortable with their strength, they were each given a group of men to lead in training. These men formed the original Four Generals."

"But Master, didn't you say it was five men?"

"Indeed, Cedric," Gambell nodded with closed eyes, but did not explain.

"Eventually, the king felt confident in his army's capability to defend the people, and decided to send a group of around fifty normal citizens to meet the inbound Shlanks.

"Bringing a bounty of good food and resources, the group met the Shlanks not far into the mountains where they had apparently long since set up camp.

"To their delight, the Shlanks welcomed their hospitality, and even returned their good intentions. For several weeks, the group indulged in merrymaking, and eventually began to explore the mountains farther north together. By this time, some two-hundred Teutons had joined the camp of around five-hundred Shlanks.

"Due to the difference in numbers, the king had sent one of his five generals, along with his men, to blend in with the group. General Garik acted as the hidden leader of the group, sending reports back to the castle through his men.

Despite taking his job seriously, Garik enjoyed himself more than he ever had, and got along particularly well with one of the Shlanks, a strong warrior named Velagoras. The two drank together often, held knife throwing games and wrestling tournaments, and hunted together. It was the effort of these two that tamed the dragon-like beasts known as tragoons, initiating their loyal attitude toward us that apparently still holds today. Garik's men had never seen him so happy before, and even described Velagoras to the king as his first friend.

"And then, one day, around a month into the successful meeting, Garik was ordered to return to the castle immediately.

"He made haste, riding the tragoon he and Velagoras had first tamed. Upon arrival at the castle's courtyard, Garik was greeted by a large group of important Teuton officials and elders, as well as the other four generals and their men-all surrounding the king and three ghost like figures."

The class collectively gasped, looking around at each other with interest. Cedric stayed quiet, but also knew what Gambell was referring to.

"Yes, that is correct. The god-like Sages that we revere, who gave us our collective "Teuton Will", had come to meet the king, and presented to him a large square relic. It was a fantastic, green emerald, and Garik was immediately drawn to it.

"This Green Relic is a symbol of the Will of your people, which is to cherish and protect your land. Take this gift, and use it according to your One Will."

Cedric felt his chest tighten at the Sages' words. The class continued to listen intently, seemingly unaffected by them.

"Those were the only words the Sages left with the king before departing. In a clamor, the officials argued into the night on what should be done with the Green Relic and how to go about enacting their Will-something they seemed to accept very naturally.

"Having lost interest, Garik returned to the campsite in the mountains late that night. When he asked around, he found Velagoras was not there. It seemed he had been called back to the Shlank home front, just as he had.

"He waited over a week, but Velagoras did not return. All his men had apparently gone with him, and most of the mixed group had recently left in separate expeditions, so there was only about a hundred left at the camp.

"Eventually, Garik was once again summoned to the castle. This time, he was led directly into the king's chambers.

"The King, surrounded by his closest officials, held something, covered with expensive cloth, out to Garik. What Garik had been given was a long, extravagantly green sword, with sleek emeralds encrusted in its fine hilt.

"What King Nova had decided the night of the meeting with the Sages, was to call upon the town's most skilled blacksmiths, and from a shard of the Green Relic, forge a sword.

"The king called the sword 'The Great Green Emerald', and entrusted it to Garik-naming him Takanova's first Heir to the Sword, and the first Teutonic Knight. The following morning, a grand ceremony was held in the courtyard to establish his status of Heir, as well as the status of the other four new knights as the Four Generals. He was then bestowed with sleek green robes, and a thick green cape.

"Hoping to share his news with Velagoras, Garik returned to the campsite.

"However, what he found there, was….


The class murmured quietly. Cedric and Quentle looked at each other in shock.

"The campsite had been completely ransacked. The hundred or so people…

….had all been murdered."

The mood in the class sunk immediately, along with the heads and shoulders of most of the boys.

"If you are all this shocked, imagine what it was like for Garik to see this. Both Teuton and Shlank alike, woman and children of all ages, and nearly all of his own men, dead. Killed in cold blood."

The class went completely silent, some holding their heads in grief.

"I know this is a lot to take in. After all, there is a reason we wait to tell this story to children until they have all reached the age of seventeen. Do try to bear with it."

Cedric tried to remain collected, but his memories were resurfacing and joining with this new knowledge in a gruesome way. His fists were shaking, and tears began to well up in his eyes. He glanced over at Quentle, to see tears already silently falling down his cheeks, a violent expression on his face.

He didn't know why something that happened so long ago would make them so very angry. However, he had to listen through to the end.

"So, upon seeing this horrid spectacle, Garik raced on tragoon-back toward the northern mountains, where the expedition groups had set out. Convinced that an army had invaded from another island, he sent the only one of his men who he'd happened to have with him, back to town to warn the king. He didn't care that he was alone and didn't know the enemy he faced. He wanted only to save the rest of the camp.

After a day's travel across the rugged terrain, he finally found a small campsite. However, he was unfortunately too late once more. In his rage, he followed the scent of blood further up into the mountains…eventually running into the perpetrators.


"Correct, Quentle."

Cedric had come to the same conclusion, but was too busy trying to control his emotions. Quentle, however, did not try to hide his, his nails digging into the wooden desk.

"Well, it wasn't Velagoras he ran into, but a group of his men he recognized instantly. The same men he'd drank and wrestled with, slaughtering both Teuton and Shlank people before his eyes.

"His rage overflowed, and he drew the Green Emerald and eliminated all but one of the men. The lone man, in a crazed voice, revealed everything.

"Velagoras had been summoned back home for the exact same reason he had. According to the man, the Sages had also visited their leaders, and presented them a large red relic. The words given to them:

"This Red Relic is a symbol of the Will of your people, which is to cherish and protect your bloodline. Take this gift, and use it according to your One Will."

A chair on the other side of Kaolo and Farum shifted, it's owner, Berd, perking his head up, clinging to Gambell's words.

"The Shlanks, upon receiving the relic, had the same idea as the Teutons. A sword was forged-the Red Ruby-and, as you might've guessed, the Heir chosen to wield it was none other than Velagoras."

"But Master, that still doesn't explain…"

"Yes, Berd, do be patient. You see, it seems behind the scenes the Shlanks decided that their newly precious bloodline was in danger of being tainted. That is, because of…"

"The campsite!" Farum burst out, to which Berd slumped down at the realization of what he meant.

"Correct, Farum. After more than a month of living together, these kinds of things do happen."

"So just like that they moved to eliminate each member of the campsite?!"

Quentle moved their table this time, simply from slamming his fists on it.

"Yes, Quentle, that is correct. Do try to control your anger, this is an unchangeable story. Anyway, once Garik found out the truth, he raced across the mountains in search of Velagoras. His aim was to kill every last Shlank warrior, and protect every member of the campsite that still lived. For several days, he rode the tragoon, stopping assaults from Velagoras' men and gathering members of the campsite into a single, hidden cave where he left them with several fierce tragoons and equipped them with weapons.

"After sending an able-bodied man on horseback to report the truth to the castle and request help, Garik set his sights further north, where there were at least three-hundred and fifty members of the campsite unaccounted for, broken off into seven groups. Since they were the first groups to have set out nearly a month prior, he knew they would take some time to reach. The first day, he reached a group, defeated some thirty Shlank warriors, armed the campsite members, and directed them to the cave along with his tragoon. The second day, the tragoon came back to him just as he had found another camp and defended it from more than fifty warriors.

"He repeated this process for seven long days. The number of Shlank warriors grew with each day, to the point where it was clear these were not just Velagoras' men, but soldiers sent from the Shlank homefront for this sole purpose of eliminating the campsite members. He and the tragoon worked tirelessly to protect the people of the campsite, and on the seventh day, he faced an all-out army.

"During the fight, in which he relied heavily on the magnificent power of the Green Emerald, the two men he'd sent to report to the castle came to him on horseback, with urgent news:

"The Teuton officials had heard the whole story, and had decided not to take any action. They thought that, if this was all true, then Velagoras would ultimately make a move on Teuton soil. For that, they needed to be prepared, to fortify their own walls, and therefore had decided to leave the mountains to Garik, their strongest Knight."

At this, Cedric's eyes widened.

"Upon telling him this, the two men attempted to fight but could not handle the chaotic one-sided battle like he could, and were killed defending the final camp.

"On the verge of despair, Garik roared his heart out, and continued to fight the endless fight alone. It's said that at that time, he ascended beyond that of a man, and became a War God.

"Eventually, he stood victorious, submerged in blood along with the tragoon. The campsite members, the largest group yet at around seventy people, cheered loudly for him from atop a cliff safe from the battlefield. All they could do was fire a limited number of arrows to assist, but they had emerged victorious together."

A collective sigh of relief seemed to sweep through the room.

"He had finally accounted for the last group, and with the help of the tragoon led them back to the cave where the others were waiting safely. Upon arrival, both Garik and his tragoon could no longer stay conscious.

"When Garik awoke, he was on the tragoon's back, entering the newly developing Castle Town, along with more than three hundred campsite members.

"As they arrived, there was a clear panic spreading throughout Castle Town. Garik rushed inside the castle doors, where another bloodbath lay before him.

"This time, it was only about twenty or so officials and guards, but what shook him down to his core was what he saw crushed into the stone ground-

-tragoon footprints.

"An official hurriedly explained what had happened:

"A man on a tragoon, wielding a long red sword, had burst into the castle lobby just an hour prior, and began killing everyone in sight.

"After a few minutes the Four Generals burst onto the scene, and drove the man out of the castle. Along with their personal armies, the generals chased the man past an outlying village that, unbeknownst to the busy officials until it was too late, had been burnt to a crisp just before the attack on the castle. Their chase had apparently led them into the forest in front of the Volcano of Disasters, and there had been no news since.

"Wasting no time, Garik and the tragoon dashed out for the forest. Upon entering, there seemed to be a body for every tree in the forest.

"Eventually he came into the center of the forest, where there was a wide clearing. In the clearing, the bodies of three of the generals lay in separate corners.

"In the middle, the man known as Velagoras wiped his red blade clean as the fourth general, who had always been kind to Garik, dropped to the ground."

No one in the class moved a muscle, each hanging intently onto Gambell's words.

"When Velagoras looked upon Garik, he seemed to have no care in the world. It is unknown whether any words were exchanged between the two, possibly because Garik himself refused to recount their meeting in detail. The two merely clashed swords in the middle, their tragoons destroying the ground under foot as they darted around the clearing continuously exchanging blows. In a sea of red and green light, Velegoras eventually fell from his tragoon.

"Suffering a fatal wound, he crashed into the earth, his sword sinking deep into the ground.

"Garik jumped from his tragoon and, without mercy, delivered the final blow to his only friend."

At this, the class relaxed a bit, repositioning their chairs and postures.

"With the fight over, Garik returned to the Castle Town, where he demanded the wounded, worn down people of the campsite be taken care of.

"Once some time passed and we were able to rebuild and re-establish an army, the people of the campsite led widespread expeditions throughout the mountains for the purpose of expanding and defining our borders. Since they knew the mountains, it took little time to figure out where the borders needed to be drawn.

"This is how the Wall of Takanova came into existence, connecting the two clifftops near the marshes on the other side of the mountains. After that, we gradually worked on the stone wall bordering our side of Takanova, minus the mountainous north and south ends.

"And that, boys, is the story of Garik, the first Sword Heir. The story that began our Will to protect our land, our conflict with the Shlanks that had been unending up until this long Wolverine War, as well as many other traditions. It is said that Garik lived out the rest of his life at the Wall, protecting the mountains that the campsite members ultimately resided in, from the endless Shlank attacks, until the day he died."

"So..Garik was basically the one who initiated the Wall as a stronghold military base for us?"

"That is correct Kaolo, the Wall of Takanova embodies everything Garik lived for. And now, the Prince, along with three of the Four Generals, has taken the reins of the Wall's army to keep the silently-watching Shlanks in check. Of course, threatening them with the power of the Green Emerald, even though it has since been sealed away due to its overwhelming power, which is a topic for another day."

Gambell seemed to be done with the story, causing a small clamor in the class.

"Ah man, I could've used the abridged version of that.."

"Shut up, just because rich boys like you probably already know the story doesn't mean we do!" Mel turned and shrugged at Quentle, a smug look plastered on his face again.

"What about the red sword?"

"Oh, interested, Quentle?" Master Gambell inquired sarcastically.

"The sword remains sealed where Velagoras left it at the time of his death, in the ground in the middle of the forest that you aren't allowed to go near. Now it's even surrounded by a small lake, thanks to the tragoons taking chunks out of the earth."

"That sounds really cool…"

"Let me reiterate, Quentle, that none of you are allowed in the forest. Especially you."


"But to move on, that actually brings me to my follow up discussion, concerning one of the traditions I mentioned: the procession for the succeeding Sword Heir."

Cedric's attention shot toward Gambell once more. This time, Mel's did as well.

"Haha, well because, what coincidence is it that I'd have all three of the prospective Heirs in this class!"

The class' stares rotated between Cedric, Mel, and Quentle. The three of them looked at each other, exchanging awkward smirks.

"So, my three oh-so-qualified candidates, I'd like to hear your opinions on the relationship between the community and the Heir, something that was established long ago and has been mostly prevalent ever since. Do you think the Teuton governing system handled the issue at hand the right way?"

"I'm not answering because it feels like you're mocking us."

"Speak for yourself, ruffian fraud."

"Don't just tack insults on to ruffian like it's clever, jackass!"

"Anyways, isn't it obvious, Master?" Mel ignored Quentle's banter with an arrogant brushing motion over his back.


"Yeah, it's only right that the Heir fought alone in that case. He was trusted with the sword and the mountain group, while the Teutons at home had a duty to fortify their own walls. It's the basic formality of our Will, is it not?"

"What? Are you stupid? Wasn't the moral of the story basically that we need to fight together as one?"

At last, Cedric couldn't stay silent. He'd held his tongue out of respect through the entire story, but he'd finally lost it.

Mel turned back, a look of genuine shock on his face. Quentle just looked at him dumbly.

"I mean, how is it right that Garik had to fight completely alone against hundreds of enemies? The king and his officials outright abandoned him along with hundreds of their own people! Couldn't you realize the entire reason the Heir was established was probably so that they could have an easy scapegoat?! It's like they knew something like that was going to happen and hoped both parties would just wipe each other out! Then they'd glorify him as a hero and throw the next Heir out to the wolves when the time came! There's no relationship between community and Heir at all there! That isn't right at all! What's the point of our Will to protect our land if we don't protect our own people?!"

The class stared in silent shock at the fuming Cedric. Even Master Gambell looked dumbfounded.

"…uhh, ya know, I know what ya mean Cedric," Quentle broke the silence with an awkward entry, "I mean, what you're saying feels right for sure…but I think the king and his officials saw that perspective and were forced to look past it. I mean, they were right after all, weren't they? If they'd sent the Four Generals into the mountains, Velagoras would have taken the castle, and killed the king. They had to fortify at home, so I think it was a strategic move that involved trusting Garik to take care of the mountains." Cedric shot his angry glance at Quentle, who wore a surprisingly honest look.

"I mean, you can't deny that they made the most logical choice for the sake of the homeland, can you?" Mel spat out very sharply.


Everyone stared on at Cedric, waiting.

"No…I can't. Of course, we weren't there so we can't know the full details…. but…but the crux of the story is that the incident established the standard for how the community and Heirs interact. What kind of partnership exists with one side foisting all of their problems on the other, just because they're capable of more than most?"

"Well you could also look at it this way-the people showed their trust in Garik to protect the community from the outside. It was only natural for him to shoulder the burden alone, since the community showed their support for him by relying on him."

"That's not right, Quentle. From that story, there wasn't any support. They didn't give him any support before the incident, and refused him support during the incident. They never even properly communicated with him, nor did they seek his opinion on the issue! Can't you think about this from Garik's perspective? Do you think he agreed with all of this?"

"Well, we can't know that either. But… I think the problem is that you're only seeing this from Garik's perspective, Cedric.."

Cedric swallowed any words that had been on the way out. Quentle's biting rebuttal stifled him, and forced him to look down, flustered.

"Well, what an interesting discussion, indeed," Gambell said, returning to his polite smile.

"I think we should all calm down and consider that there is no right answer here. This is something the community still debates today, which is why I like to hold discussions on it in my class. So, I'd like to hear from the rest of you-what do you all think about their answers?"

Farum's answer was along the lines of Mel's, taking the bare facts as the center of the issue. Berd's answer was similar, though he seemed to assume there would logically have been some sort of undocumented contract from the beginning.

Kaolo's response was the only vocal one that leaned toward Cedric's view. His reasoning wore the same tone as Quentle's, saying it felt right but maybe wasn't realistic to expect anything more. However, in the end, he ended up agreeing with Cedric that the dynamic between community and Heir just wasn't right.

Only several other classmates spoke up, but none had much more to say other than "Yeah, I think Mel is right, there are some tough decisions that just have to be made". In the end, there was only two other boys, aside from Kaolo, that agreed with Cedric.

Suddenly, the castle bell resounded loudly.

"Well alright, it looks like we've run out of time, and my theory of the dome will have to wait for tomorrow."

Geraint and Jorge, the two bulkiest boys in the class, gave Cedric a reassuring nod as they filed out of the classroom. Cedric gave a short wave, silently thanking them for their support as he began gathering his things to go to cultural class.

Some of the class had stuck behind, awkwardly eyeing the three boys as if anticipating some sort of tension.


"Alright now ya scum, let's go learn about some farming and marketing! Gotta get you louses ready for the working life, since I'll be the one out protecting the peace of the dome, hehe."

Quentle was the same as ever. Thanks to him, Cedric no longer had to worry about how to face Mel.

Instead, the two looked at each other and began snorting with laughter, breaking any possible tension to the surprise of their classmates.

Having been together for years, this was natural for them.