‘We live in an era of fake peace. No matter how much the adults try to hide it from us they haven’t succeeded because their mistakes would always catch up with the new generation. We were told that in this time that we are living in, we could live peacefully, we can dream. But they are all wrong. There is no such thing as peace. It’s just a word everybody uses to gain of mental satisfaction. Something to give them a faux sense of safety even though at the end of the day, it is just another lie in this world of lies...’
Aryan’s flow of thoughts came to an abrupt end when a strong yet gentle winter gale sailed through the open window of the cafè and made it’s way towards him. He dropped his pen and closed his eyes, trying to feel the euphoric sensation that the onslaught of winter brought him.
Winters were Aryan’s favorite months of the year ever since he was a child and luckily for him, this year winter had arrived early. His black hair swayed along with the wind and he couldn’t have been anymore relaxed than this.
“You are early today.”
Aryan slowly opened his eyes to see the owner of the cafè, an old man, standing behind the counter. He was smoothly pouring milk into the demitasse cup. Aryan feels his senses rejuvenate as the fresh fragrance of the Rasper special coffee enveloped him and pulsed his body with a new kind of energy that refershed him.
“How could I have been late, Gramps?” he said as he stretched his arm in an attempt to get a hold of the cup, only for it to be slapped away.
“That’s not the answer I’m looking for,” the old man replied.
“Fine!” Aryan said sounding exasperated. “It’s another task that the Guild assigned us with.”
“Us, as in your entire team.”
“That does explain why you are so early today,” the old man replied with a grin imminent on his face.
For him, Aryan had been a regular customer since he was a nine year old. The boy had faced some really hard times being rejected by almost everyone in the town and was often regarded as the Devil spawn.
As time passed and Ayan grew up, the assault, the unacceptance took a more indirect turn. They murmured behind his back, thinking he could not hear and avoided him as if he was some sort of a vicious monster.
But the old man had always taken the fourteen year old, black-haired mage to be a harmless, innocent yet mischievous grandson that he never had.
“Trust me, Gramps, someday I am going to blow up the entire Mages Academy. First, they gave me this tiring mission – which is fine because I am a third year and need to gain experience in field work – but then they don’t want me to rest and give me this... petty assignment to complete,” Aryan said all the while making hand gestures and glaring pointedly at the half-opened scroll lying on the table.
“To make matters worse, not only do I have to complete my own assignment but the Red Devil’s as well. What a joy!”
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“I see,” said the old man as he gently placed the demitasse cup in front of him.
Aryan’s fingers encased the cup as he watched the fumes of the hot coffee rise up into the air from the cup. But what caught his attention was the sign of Azrestria that had been drawn in the coffee.
“It’s on the house,” the old owner said.
Aryan’s eyes widened at the sudden declaration; he couldn’t express how delighted he was at the moment. Money was always a problem for him since he was an orphan. It was scarce and it didn’t help that he only earned a mere amount of a hundred Azure which was just enough to help in survive the month with no room for savings.
“You’re the best, Gramps.”
“It’s quite alright. No need to flatter me,” he said as he glanced at the half-finished scrolls laying and the table. “Hmm,” he stroked his chin in thought as his eyes rolled over the written text. “The sixth Inter-Continental War... I see.”
The old man’s eyes widened when he reached the small paragraph that the young mage had written down.
‘No matter how much the adults try to hide their mistakes from the last war, they can never stop them from catching onto us. After all in this era of fake peace, the only thing that is still real are the crimes that were committed during the war.’
He was shocked by what he had just read. He wasn’t shocked about the irrelevance of the small article, he was shocked about Aryan being aware of the fact, the truth. He was just a young mage with not enough experience, he was just a teenager and yet here he was writing the truth.
Aryan had written a truth the present generation was hardly aware of. The crimes committed by the last generation had been done so to bring forth the era of peace or the ‘fake peace’ as he had dubbed it.
But he still couldn’t tell him he was wrong. He was right in every possible way and even he knew that telling him off would be no better rather accepting the truth would be.
The old man took a deep breath , pulled up a chair and sat down facing Aryan.
“What’s with this?” he asked.
“It’s the assignment,” Aryan replied, while sipping from the cup. His tongue burnt a bit on contact with the liquid; a result of being too hasty. “I guess.”
“I know that, but what you’ve written?”
“The truth, Gramps,” he replied to the old man’s silent query. “I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. I just know that this is my interpretation of what actually happened. I’m not saying everyone should believe in it.”
The owner simply nodded and he took another deep breath. It was time to change the topic, but about what?
“So...” the old man’s voice faltered.
“So?” Aryan asked him, confused.
“Your, um, mission,” he said quickly. “Tell me about it.”
Aryan turned his head and looked out from the window, his black eyes roving over the calm sea. “The usual,” he replied. “The cargo ship arrives at the docks today with our monthly ration. My team and I are supposed to see nothing goes wrong, in other words- to guard it. Not that anything is going to happen.”
“Seems like Xavier still likes to play with his students,” said the old man, reminiscing about his youthful days running around town, with a bittersweet laugh.
“Headmaster is a pain,” the younger of the two stated. “And so is the academy sometimes.”
The Academy, also known as the Rasper Mages Academy, is what Azrestria had closest to a school except they nurture young children into becoming deadly Mages who, in the future, will fight for their Kingdom.
“Well, it was you who chose to become a Mage,” the old man reasoned.
“Yeah,” Aryan said as he emptied the cup and placed it on the table. “Can’t cry over it now. After all, being a Mage means you are the military power of the Kingdom. You are their sword and will fight for them whenever the Kingdom needs you to.”
He paused to catch his breath.
“So, do you hate being a Mage?”
The question echoed through his skull. No one had ever asked him that. Did he hate being a Mage? The answer was- no, he didn’t. But he still couldn’t find the courage to answer the question.
Aryan’s brain went on auto-shut down; he stared at the owner, dumbfounded.
“Um... I-you know... I am...Aryan?”
‘What the hell am I even saying? Just say yes, damn it!’ the young Mage yelled at himself in his brain.
The old man just smiled.
“You can answer that one later,” he said. “Anyways, tell me, have you heard about the new rumour that’s been going around town?”
“Which kind of rumours? The real or the made-up ones?”
“The real kind,” the old owner replied as he willed the newspaper to fly over to him. “See? It’s even published on the daily paper.”
He swiftly opened the paper to page three and pointed to a small article on the third column which was decorated with tiny blue snowflakes. It was written :-
BLESSING OR A CURSE? Article by DHANUSH XI WUNDT
The onslaught of Winter has arrived quite early in the small island town of Rasper. This phenomenon has left a lot of people confused as to how they should take it. Never in the long of Rasper, has the Goddess Arcaledia woken up earlier than the ninth month. But this year has been special.
The elves, pixies and faeries, and the spirits have gone into a state of unrest and are tense. They have gone into hiding. All the paths into the forests are closed down. Even the elves who worked in the Town have disappeared without any news.
People, however are in a state of joy as they always are when the Goddess awakens. Young couples are taking long evening walks around the parks and the children have taken to being their usual careless selves. Most of the elders are tensed with this change.
On one hand, we have the joy of Winter arriving early while on the other these developments have become a cause for concern.
Aryan shrugged off the contents of the article. It wasn’t unusual for journalists to try to create something spicy just to get the paper selling. Usually these type of articles were on the front page making headlines, but this one seemed rather hidden.
“What do you think?” the old man asked him, looking like a kid asking about how his candy had tasted.
“It’s irrelevant and a waste of time, if I have to add.”
“Come on. At least, pretend to be excited.”
Aryan just smiled.