Chapter 8:

Chapter 8


Vera guided Elizabeth and Sir Isaac through the Council's city. Once more, Elizabeth took in its beauty, its life. A wonderful town bursting with color and vibrance. A utopia in the eyes of the rest of Ethros. A sanctum of beauty. How could she not stop to take it in? Everything was clean and bright, a stark contrast from Ethros' usual glum. But it wasn't always like this. In a time, not too long ago, but long forgotten, Ethros was too a kingdom teeming with life. A bright bloom of beauty covered the kingdom, border to border. A bountiful harvest of flora was traded out across the lands. The kingdom of artists, they'd call it, a cultural titan. But disagreements over petty politics between Ethros and Strathum worsened. Tensions grew. Eventually war broke out between the two neighboring countries. Many lives were lost, and Ethros came out victorious. But they never fully recovered. It was as if a core piece of their soul was damaged, tarnished. Perhaps it was Ethros' peaceful disposition. Whatever it was, the people still had hope. Hope for a resurgence of the good times. But then the plague came, and those hopes and dreams were washed away like the tides.

"Don't let the smell of cinder bother you, some of our sorcerers are practicing their fireball spell this evening." Said Vera.

"Oh, it's no problem for us!" Elizabeth reassured. "Say, what kinds of spells do you practice here?"

"We have a little bit of everything! From elemental spells, to healing, to your standard arcane attacks and utilities!"

"That's amazing! But I was more asking about you specifically, Vera."

"Oh! You see, I'm sort of a prodigy here!" She giggled, obviously prideful in her capabilities. "I can do just about any magic there is to learn!" She smiled with unwavering confidence.

"Wow! So you can do everything here at the CAM?" That was until her confidence was wavered.

"Well... not everything... I'm not the greatest at alchemy." She laughed nervously.

"So much for being a prodigy." Sir Isaac remarked. Elizabeth lightly punched his arm.

"I still think you're impressive."

"Hmph, tell that to the higher ups." Vera whispered. The three then arrived at their destination, a large shrine in the back of the city. Elevated high above the rest of the campus, the three began their ascent up many flights of stairs. Soon they reached the top, some more exhausted than others, and knocked on the temple doors. The large, decorative, metal doors slowly creaked open on their own. Inside was an abyssally dark room, only light by select fire pits and scarce floating lanterns. In the back of the room, kneeling with their heads down, were several hooded figures. In the center of them was a frail old man. Vera knelt down and bowed her head. "It is an honor to be in your presence, grand elder. I beseech your guidance." Elizabeth panicked and copied Vera while Sir Isaac remained standing.

"What's with the formalities, child? Family comes before position."

"With all due respect, grandfather, how am I expected to follow in your footsteps without the formalities?"

"If you were to follow in my footsteps, then you would not need the formalities. Now! What is the guidance you beseech me for, heh heh."

"These two adventures have a very important task, and they request our aid." Elizabeth proceeded to explain everything about their situation. Everything. The plague. It's cure. Death. Grimwald. Lancaster. Dullahan. The only thing she omitted was the one thing she had omitted from everyone, even Sir Isaac, her fate once her quest was completed.

"Hm, I see..." The grand elder said grimly. "Yes, I believe I understand."

"So you'll help us?"

"Unfortunately my dear, the ingredients you seek are beyond any alchemists reach. I would love to speed up your hunt, but we simply do not possess the items you request. However, we can most certainly provide you with the ingredients you originally came here to receive. I'll supply you with the finest alchemy bottles gold can buy. As for your purification spell..." The grand elder paused for suspense and dramatic effect. "You may take my granddaughter!"

"Wait what?"

"What?! Grandfather I am not some prize to be awarded!"

"I know that!"

"Then why hand me out like one?!"

"Vera, you want to follow in my footsteps, yes? You want to be the next grand elder, correct?"


"Then join these adventurers on their quest. You've learned all you can here. Go out, learn in the real world, become a hero of Ethros. Only then will you reach your truest potential. Only then will you stand out against the rest."

"Isn't she a prodigy? Why does she need to make herself stand out? I thought she already did?"

"It's true, but there's so much more I need to do." Vera sighed.

"There's too many people like me on the council, too many old men. So let's just say the council isn't too keen on accepting someone of Vera's... demographic."

"I... can sadly relate." Elizabeth hung her head.

"But let's not grovel in sadness! We should celebrate this new formed alliance!" The grand elder suddenly leapt up from his seat. He put his arms around Elizabeth and Vera's shoulders and guided the trio of heroes to the doors. "Today marks a joyous day in Ethros' history! I'll get all the supplies ready! And we will have a feast in your honor!"

"Oh there's no need! I mean we haven't even done anything yet! Really! We appreciate the sentiment but there's really no need for celebration!"

"Don't try to fight it. Grandfather will always get his way when it comes to parties." The two laughed nervously together.

"May your futures burn as bright as the sun!" The doors swung open. Looks of confusion and joy quickly turned to shock and horror. The town below was engulfed in green flames. An entire city burning to the ground.