The Journey To Angeltorch
"Eeurrrr-eeurrer" our rooster, Cackle crows.
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!" I wake up with a start and look out the window. Dawn.
I swing off my bed and tiptoe downstairs, being careful not to wake my three younger siblings, Rosemary, Maren, and Ferdinand, and my parents, Carver and Ferania Windrunner. Annie, the house cat, looks up as I put on the armor that had been my birthday present last year, on my fourteenth birthday.
I grab the buckskin bag with supplies that I had nabbed here and there for the past five months, since my friends and I had decided to leave the tiny town of Graonsed to do greater things than farm or guard or fish for the rest of our lives. No. We were meant for better things, adventures and quests.
My friends are Canin and Aristotle. Aristotle is a healer poet, and Canin is a ranger. So we decided to leave, to go to Fort Macminasty. After that we'd go and search for legendary places like Angeltorch and the Druidic Temple of Frean.
I eat some leftover salmon from last night and go outside to the town stables. Firedame, my beautiful chestnut mare, dozes in her stall. I put on her tack and saddle bags and mount her. Then I canter out to the meeting spot that my friends and I would be leaving from.
"Hoofbeats," I say. "Pounding against forest moss, alight in darkness and love. The mare gallops into the field, the rider a glorious shieldmaiden awash in-"
"Oh be quiet," Canin says, standing up from their place on the log.
Jainya pounds into the clearing and leaps off her steed, landing gracefully on the ground.
"Hey, mates. Sorry I'm late," says Jainya.
She strides over to us, her pauldrons flashing in the golden early sunlight.
"Good morning, O Great Paladin of Awesomeness." I say, getting up. "Ready to do what the great and holy gods planned for us to do since we were just babes?"
"I highly doubt that the Great Gods planned for this," says Jainya, resting her hip against a nearby tree. "We should move. The wood gatherers will be here soon, and we don't want to get caught."
"Agreed." says Canin.
We all walk into a circle and put our hands in the middle. "For the Torchriders!"
Jainya's Wayward Journal Entry #1
I have never ridden this much.
We rode for two weeks, drinking from streams, hunting, and foraging our way east along the Great Holy Road that goes from The Druidic Temple of Frean to what some say is Angeltorch. The Temple everyone knows exist, but few can reach it. Angeltorch is a mythological city that is based in fact. We ride to Angeltorch.
On the way is Fort Macminasty, the outer Feranins (our realm) fort. The people there are prickly, just like the fort's name. We are nearing the fort, only five days away. Aristotle complains of dull food and not washing. I tell him to shut up.
I wonder what we will see in Macminasty. Wizards? Interesting animals? Soldiers? Bandits? I hope that we get through this alright.
We are here! In Fort Macminasty, the farthest east outpost of Feranins! I told you that I would go there someday!
The outer and inner walls are hard oak wood, cut from the great forest surrounding the village and fort. The village has three marketplaces, the largest of which, the Great Market, sells everything from cockatoos to lumber. Sister, I have inclosed a emerald colored satin ribbon for you. Mother, you have spices called Cumin, Ginger, and Paprika, and father, you have a boot knife and Eastern currency. I am sorry that I ran away like that, but I am meant for other things than farming and healing. Could you tell Grandfather and Nana that I wish them well?
How is the harvest? Has Xainia proposed to Granted the Fishmonger yet? (Yes, I knew about that.) By the time this reaches you, I might be at Angeltorch, so I wouldn't try responding.
The clinics here are incredible! They have hundreds of beds and countless healers! Yes, sis, I saw a wizard. He lifted lumber off a cart and put it in its place on the house! There are backstreets with shifty-looking people in them, yes, but they will not harm me with Jainya and Kanin armed and ready.
Uh-oh, Jainya's looking at me funny. Looks like I've been writing too long!
P.S. If there are carrier pigeons at Angeltorch, I will most surely send one.
We are here! At Macminasty! It is incredible! There are countless soldiers, sparring from dawn to dusk! One of them even taught me a few things. The food is incredible, too. Loganberries stuffed with peas, roasted mushrooms, berry tarts, smoked venison, potatoes with tomatoes and carrots, pine and winter berry tea, strong, thick, hot liquid rice pudding, and plantain water.
Anyway. Aristotle is sending his letter. We walk down a back street, the walls hard mud blocks and rubbish bins here and there. I see movement on the rooftops. A girl, maybe two years younger than I, leaps at us, holding a dagger in one hand. Canin notches an arrow as she and I square off. I have my mace in my hand, as my broadsword is too large to use in close quarters like the alley that we are in now. Something pools in her unarmed hand. Canin shouts a warning as I dodge the mage's bolt. As she focuses on me, Canin looses an arrow that separates her dagger from her. Startled, she turns on Canin, giving me the opening I need. I tackle her, bending her hands across her front, so that any spell she does goes straight to her.
"Who are you?" I demand, sitting on her. She just glares at me.
"You know, random mage of epic dirtiness, my friend here was taught everything that our quaint village knew about fighting." Aristotle says. She still glares.
Canin walks over and leans over the mage, staring into her eyes.
"Poor mage." mutters Aristotle. I had to agree. Canin's eyes can be very persuasive.
The mage looks away. "Will you give this poor, not working, orphaned mage a break?" she asks, trying to sit up.
Canin, Aristotle and I exchange looks. We knew that there was plenty of people who were poor and had to steal and ransom to stay alive. Play nice, Aristotle mouths, and Canin and I nod.
Aristotle's poetry diary entry 47
Oh, how the town glimmers in the moonlight, the quaint shacks opening like a spring rose to the tall and majestic mansions.
The love and beauty astounds, pitch woods, leafy farms, beige and sludge cottages, and peaked wealthy homes.
The backstreets of poverty. The clinics of pain. The dirt. The bays of cows and squacks of chickens echo in the dark night. For in three days time, the angelic adventurers shall set off from the village and journey into the hazy unknown to find what is thought to be an old tale, that oldtimers tell to their grandchildren. For Angeltorch, great golden saffron polis, is waiting for the Torchriders to arrive.
"There." I say as I put the last hole in the belt.
I put our metal logo, a torch with a horseshoe around it, over the buckle and pour liquid metal in place around it, so that the torch is attached to one part and the shoe is attached to another.
The mage, Huna-ai, as we found out was her name, puts the belt around her waist and tightens it.
"Now you are an official part of our group." I say, taking out my sword. "The group of the Torchriders is glad to welcome you into our poor, traveling, adventurous group."
The blacksmith/leatherworking shop owner was looking at us like we were out of out of our minds, which everyone is, a little bit.
I tap her on each shoulder before sheathing my sword. "Now, let's get you some clothes."
Some stores and quite a lot of our savings later, Huna-ai was completely outfitted in a long, black, mages robe with red trim. A leather belt with our symbol was on her waist, with some bottle holders, a small pouch, and a small knife on it.
She has a medicine bag around her neck. She had that when we met her. There is also a bandolier with pouches, new boots, and a circlet that glimmered polished iron in the evening light.
"My lady, you look beautiful in your robes of black and your circlet looking like a.... Wait, what? Ow!"
I rub the spot on my arm where she had punched me. Elegantly, of course, and she didn't hesitate..... I am woken from my thoughts as Jainya speaks.
"Huna-ai, do you have a steed of your own? I'm afraid our group doesn't have too much coin."
"Yes, I have a roan pony named Swiftslit. She got her name from her personality." Huna-ai says dryly, picking up her bag. "When do we leave?"
Jainya's Wayward Journey entry #31
Well, I guess we have another member! Huna-ai Sarrasri, backstreet mage traveler. She seems kind and all, but she's very secretive.
Well, we left Macminasty twelve days ago. We're nearing an inn, the last settlement east of the Fort. Minastyins say that every type of person goes there, from merchants to dwarves to adventurers like us. We might even get news of Angeltorch from there.
Oh, look, Canin caught a doe to trade as part of the price for our stay at the inn. Who will we see there?
We arrive at the Buckback Inn around five in the afternoon. As we near the inn, the smell of slow-roasted bear rises in a smoky cloud over the chimney. We sniff hungrily. We haven't had a proper meal in almost two weeks! Oh, sweet bear, with juices afresh, o your herbs of thyme and dill and rosemary... Anyways. We stable our steeds and walk into the inn.
What a welcoming sight! Pine tables and benches, bar, barmaids, food, a stair to the rooms, a hearth, other interesting people to talk to, etc. As Huna-ai and Canin barter with the innkeeper about room prices, Jainya and I split up to see if anyone has come from Angeltorch.
I walk over to a table with what looks like a dwarf, an adventurer, and a farmer playing Thalyss, a popular card game.
"May I join the game?" I ask.
"Sure!" says the farmer, moving over on her bench.
"Aristotle." I say, holding out a hand.
"Liliya." she says, taking it.
Many games and quite a few rounds later (I had asked for water), I had found out that the dwarf's name was Remido Totehammer, he has a wife and three children in the north, he came down south to visit Liliya, a friend, he carries a battle hammer named Odin's Massage, and he likes cats. The farmer, Liliya, her last name is Kint, she lives a few miles south of here and came here to meet with Remido, and has five cows, sixteen chickens, and a whole lot of sheep and corn. The third wasn't an adventurer at all, he was a merchant from Angeltorch, and had joined Remido and Liliya in their game of Thalyss!
"Adventurer, eh?" he says when I say that I am part of a party of adventurers looking for his home city. "We haven't had adventurers for a decade, mayhap more."
"Why?" I asked, wondering why they had stopped coming.
"Oh, you haven't heard? Bersefin attacked Angeltorch and lay siege to 'alf of it over five years ago. About six years afore that, the great Bersefin war started, since Bersefin wanted to conquer all of what you westerners call The Far Lands an' all of Feranins. Honestly, I'm surprised you 'aven't h- Wait, where're ya going?" But I was already gone.
We set off from the Buckback Inn the next day with clean bodies, full stomachs and provision bags, and a tour guide, Alex Waythrow the friendly merchant, or, at least, friendly until he pulls out his mini crossbow.
We traveled for eleven days, until we reached Angeltorch/Bersefin territory. The issue about the siege is that it wasn't on the side facing Bersefin, it was on the side facing Feranins. So most of Angeltorch's supplies were cut off, exept the supplies from the far-off Uthak and Hathway, but, you know, far off, like, a hundred miles, the stolen loot from Bersefin raiding parties, and smuggler merchants like Waythrow.
Anyway, as we neared Angeltorch, Waythrow became more and more jumpy. He kept his crossbow on him at all times and had watches going all the time during the night. It was nerve-wracking and frightening. Once, Waythrow was barely able to halt the group as a Bersefin patrol walked by, scanning the area. But, finally, the massive half circle of tents came into view, and the great golden city of Angeltorch was finally sighted.
Aristotle's Poetry Journal entry#72
Oh, the tension.
The cold, and the siege.
The hay and broth fields
It is as if the world holds its breath on a giant chessboard
That waits for someone to take the game
As I sit here, far above the scene,
On a boulder on a cliff
On a hill on the territory
Of Angeltorch and the enemy Bersefin
And the silence that broods within
"Ok, here's the plan." says Alex Waythrow. "Group 1, Huna-ai, Aristotle, and I, will go through this line of pointy sticks, weave through these tents, cross this path, keep weaving, cross this path, keep weaving, cross this path, go through this door, go out this way, lighting it on fire as we go. Then we will sprint here, go around this catapult here, sprint to this battering ram here, and go through this hidden trapdoor underwater, spraying blazebalm above us so that they don't see where we're going. I've sent a pigeon ahead to the Angelguard to cover us with arrows. A black pigeon at night, of course. Group two, Jainya and Canin, will basically do the same thing but with this route. Any questions? Good. I really am getting too old for this. Let's move, and may the gods be with you."
The plan worked perfectly. We wove and sprinted with ease. The only issue was that the flint and steel that we were using wouldn't ignite the wood on the wall. And the arrows that the Bersefins shot at us as we ignited the Blazebalm caught on fire and seared Aristotle's cloak a little, until he stamped on it. And we had to bash a few heads. So what? But otherwise, it was spotless.
We swam into the city, mouths agape. Massive statues stood on the sides of the streets. Fountains sat in squares and vines grew along buildings. Tall houses of all shapes, colors and sizes lined the cobblestone and granite streets. Elaborate weathervanes sat on the tops of houses and the brisk air smelled of freshly baked pastries and hot cider. The stones echoed under our feet as we walked and took in the sites. The Torchians dressed in everything from light, colorful sarongs to green and grey cloth of light hunters and the leather and plate of soldiers. A mother nursed her child on a step and talked to a man in mages robes and who had a hound with him.
"I.... I don't have words!" I exclaimed, for the first time in my life. The others just stood there, too awed to speak.
Eventually we went to a bakery that just sold baguette, cider, and broccoli with lemon butter and rice. We had some of each, all round. Alex Waythrow had headed off to the market to sell his goods when we arrived, so it was just the Torchriders in a big city that they didn't know. But, though it had seemed at first like an angelic, holy city, the truth began to sink in: the people were starving and running out of supplies quickly.
That night, we went to an inn, the Golden Lily, and soon found out that word travels fast here: The one salesman who we had told that we were strangers had told everyone, and the Golden Lily's innkeeper was waiting for us with ready beds and baths.
The next day we set out to explore the city. As we took a shortcut, we heard an angry voice and a frightened voice.
The angry voice said, "Listen, Wormspy. You find General Undak valuable information, he no give you bread crusts and water to sup on. Understand?"
"Y-yes, Chainsp-p-py." said the frightened voice.
We dove into the shadows. General Undak! The head of the West wing of the blockade! We had to sneak by his men when we got in yesterday! I glanced at my friends and saw by their faces that they had made the connection, too. I pulled out my dagger. Jainya lifted her mace. Canin nocked and arrow and a throwing star, made of pure Aethyrin, the fuel of the Aethyr sorcerers, appeared in Hunya-ai's hand. We leaped up and the fight was on.
Jainya attacked first, with Huna-ai on one side of her. Canin picked me up and I somersaulted over the spies, so that there was no way out. Then the angry spy leaped on the wall, propelling himself above Jainya. She brought her shield above her at the last second. They wrestled for a moment for control of the shield, until Canin shot an arrow that dislodged the spy from the shield. Then Huna-ai wrapped Aethyrin ropes around the angry spy and Canin picked me up and threw me on the scared spy. You should try having 134 pounds of pure 17-year-old hit you in the chest. Not fun.
We then took the two spies to the authorities, who gave them a trial. The angry spy, Chainspy, was imprisoned. The second spy, Wormspy, or, as we found out, Iyuki Gorenthu, was given a citizenship and put on probation.
We walk down Royal Peacock street, the sunlight glinting off the armor of passersby and the gilded storefronts. Something caught my eye. An Enlist For the Angelguard stand.
I walk over. Aristotle follows directly behind me. I can almost feel the other's hesitation. But then I hear two other pairs of footsteps behind us.
"Four for the Angelguard."
During the 15-year Great Bersefin War, these four young adventurers worked their way up the ranks of the Angelguard, the great army of Angeltorch citizens sworn to protect their city at all costs. At last, Lieutenant General Jainya Deritinan struck the final blow: defeating General Undak in single combat. The Bersefin troops retreated, and the Lieutenant General, Supreme Healer Aristotle, Royal Mage Huna-ai, and the commander of the Elite Angelguard Ranger division, Canin Thesal all received the Winged Award, the highest award anybody in Angeltorch can receive.
How do I know? My grandmother, then lieutenant general, now High General of the Angelguard, Jainya Deritinan told me. I hope you liked this collection of letters and journal entries. Thank you,
Kantie Deritinan, Lieutenant General