Even after 5,000 years, the ruins of Neo-Vane were still majestic and immense. The great city that had promised to be the successor of the original Vane was no longer remembered. Now it lay forgotten in the isolated Marius Zone. All the better , Tallas thought. Here, he could plot his schemes in concealment from others, others that might threaten his plans which he had so carefully devised. As he strolled through his private 'kingdom', he pondered his next move. I have already brought back the dreaded monsters of yore, and the four dragons have not yet discovered me. That is a good sign. And without anything to protect, I need not worry of any threats from Dragonmasters. At this, he began to laugh to himself. "Dragonmasters indeed. Hah!" Tallas climbed up the crumbling stairs of the old magic guild, his heavy, dark swirling capes trailed behind him. Yet I must be careful. That was the mistake the others had made; underestimating the capabilities of their foes. He would not make this mistake. That was why he didn't take any chances, that was why New Tamur was laid to waste. He had sensed something strong there, and he didn't wait to find out what it was. He only new that it was trouble, trouble for his plans to control Lunar.|
"What is it Nall? Did you find out anything about the monster raids?" Seren asked. They had all been summoned to the White Dragon Cave.
Ruby shivered. "Whatever the reason is, couldn't we have met in my cave at least!?! It's wa-ay warmer than this popsical stand!"
Nall looked extremely irritated by that remark, yet, he waved it off and continued with business. "I found out that those monsters are getting tougher. We just lost New Tamur to a bunch of lizards."
Denyx's eyes widened. "The whole town? Just like that? Was the whole town wiped out?"
Nall shook his head. "Two survivors-"
"ONLY TWO!?! IS THAT ALL!? Whoa, those lizards are getting good!" Ruby exclaimed.
"A-HEM." Nall was getting tired of these constant interruptions, and wasn't about to take anymore of it. "Let me finish-"
"Yeah Ruby, let him finish," said Denyx. "Nall has something important to say, so hold off with the interruptions, please," Seren added.
"WOULD YOU ALL JUST SHUT IT!?!?!" Nall shouted, clearly ticked off. "Now, as I was saying, the two survivors were pretty good at fending off those lizards. I got extremely strong readings from one of them, and as an added bonus, one of 'em has the green eyes!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait-a-minute! Are you saying that there's a possible Dragonmaster candidate?" Ruby asked.
"Yep," Nall said. "Just what we've been needing."
Denyx looked doubtful. "So where's this supposed Dragonmaster headed?"
For some reason, the trip to Vane did not seem so tedious as it was to find Azado. Despite the vast amount of land they had to cover, Ayin and Tsadde pressed on. They stopped here and there to rest. Tsadde kept on looking around to see if they were anywhere close to their destination.
"Hey Ayin! What's that big tower-looking thing over there!?"
Ayin strained her eyes to see where her brother was pointing. "I'm not sure," she said, "it looks like it's been there for quite a while though." They started on again.
Tsadde stopped suddenly. "What is it?" Ayin asked.
"I just thought something was following us."
Ayin tensed, and stayed still. "I think you're right. Something's been watching us. Tsadde, watch out!!"
Tsadde ducked as something charged at him. Instinctively, he grasped his short sword to defend himself. Ayin looked to see what the attacker looked like. It was some sort of wolf-like creature. She heard a growling coming from behind her. Why do these things always attack in groups? She pulled out her sword and joined her brother. In a matter of minutes they had vanquished their enemies.
"That was cool," Tsadde said, wiping his sword off in the grass.
"You did pretty good bro," Ayin complimented.
Her brother grinned. "Thanks. You're not too shabby either."
Ayin looked on towards the tower. "Come on, not far now."
It was nearly sundown when they reached the city of Vane. However, they didn't expect to see a giant roadblock in front of the gates with a sign saying : 'Renovation area, detour through Cave of Trial'. Ayin and Tsadde looked at each other in disbelief.
"That's crazy! Who ever heard of renovating an entrance way!?" Ayin exclaimed, looking very distraught.
"That is weird, but maybe it's for that trial thing. Remember what newcomers had to do to get into Vane before?"
Ayin looked slightly amused. "You actually remember that? Ah-hah! So you have been reading my books about the Dragonmaster Alex's trials!"
Tsadde grinned sheepishly. "Okay, you caught me. So do we go?"
Ayin nodded. "The arrows on that sign point that way."
So the two followed the arrows to the Fountain of Transmission. Nearby in the bushes, two figures were arguing. "I can't believe your dopey plan actually worked! Who in the right mind would fall for a stupid detour sign!? And how are all the Vane residents going to come in and out of this place now?!"
"Ruby, for once, just for once, will you SHUT YOUR MOUTH!!!! I'm certain that this will show us how strong these two are. If they happen to get through the Trial Cave, then we'll know how strong their magic abilities are."
"And if not?!" Ruby said.
"Then, that might be a problem."
Ruby toppled over. "Oh, great plan leader. If they don't survive, we'll just get some new ones at the store. Whaddaya think they are!?! Toys!?"
Nall sighed. Why do I have to put up with this?
The Cave of Trials was very quiet. Ayin and Tsadde cautiously walked through the tunnels, staying close together. A creature that looked like some cross between a rabbit and a fish jumped out at them. "Ahh!" Ayin slashed at it with her sword, but it didn't lay a scar on the thing. "Hey, what!?" Then it hit her. These are the Trial Caves! The monsters in here can only be defeated by magic!
The look on Tsadde's worried face showed that he realized this too. "How're we going to get through this !?"
Ayin was just as worried as her brother. What are we going to do?! None of us know any magic! That stuff in all those books I've read didn't really explain anything--all I ever really got interested in was Nash's thunder attacks. Ooh, wouldn't that be handy right about now!
Suddenly, Ayin thought she heard something, a little voice inside her head, and she knew what to do. Ready to try anything, she raised her hand towards the fatal-hopper. "THUNDER ATTACK!!"
Lightening shot out from nowhere and fried the monster to a crisp. Ayin was stunned and speechless. Tsadde looked at his sister in awe. "Did you just do what I thought I saw you do!?" Ayin nervously nodded, still gawking at the smoldering remains of the fatal-hopper. Tsadde lept to his feet. "THAT WAS COOL!! How'd ya do it?"
"I-I don't know, I was just thinking of what I should do, and about all the stuff I've read in books. I was wishing I could do those Thunder attacks that Nash did, when I heard something tell me how, and--I just did it."
Tsadde was still amazed. "That was incredible! We can get through this cave now!" He started getting a little more bolder and ran ahead, then called for Ayin to catch up.
"Did you see that!?"
"I saw it but I don't believe it! How'd that happen?!"
"I'm not sure, but I haven't seen that attack in a long time!" Ruby looked at Nall as if he were crazy. "I've never seen anyone do that before. Not a single person in my party did that when I was with Hiro."
"That's because you didn't have a guy named Nash in your party," Nall said, grinning. Ruby still looked confused. Good, that oughta keep her quiet for a while.
Tsadde and Ayin had a few more run-in's with fatal-hoppers and a couple of dead poles, but they were all turned to toast. Upon running around another corner, Tsadde exclaimed, "Look!! There's the exit!" He started to run full speed towards the doorway, but came to a screeching halt as a giant dog stepped in between the door and them.
"The Bronze Dog..." Ayin said, more to herself than to Tsadde, but he heard anyways.
"Toast him Ayin!! Toast him good!"
Ayin nodded. "THUNDER ATTACK!!" The blast stunned the huge beast, but only for a moment. "Tsadde, it's not working!"
Tsadde wished he could do something, instead of letting his sister do all the work. "Try something else!" he suggested, dodging the monstrous paw that swiped at him.
"But I don't know anything else!" Ayin shouted back. That Thunder Ball would sure be a big help right about now!
She suddenly got that same feeling, that same little voice. 'Thunder Ball, huh? That'll do the trick for this guy, but it won't handle everything....'
Ayin raised her hand at the Bronze Dog once again. "THUNDER BALL!!!" The Bronze Dog roared in defeat and fell to the ground with an earth-shaking thud.
"WOW!! You did it again!" Tsadde said, running towards his sister.
Ayin breathed heavily. "Yeah, that was crazy! That same voice--it told me how to do that Thunder Ball thing too!"
Tsadde patted his sister on the back. "Whatever it was, I'm glad it helped. Now let's amscray before another one shows up. I mean, Dragonmaster Alex had to fight four of 'em!"
Ayin laughed nervously. "Oh yeah, that is definitely true."
They exited the Cave of Trials.
"See, I told you they could do it!" Nall said triumphantly.
Ruby scowled at him and folded her arms. "So!? I still don't see how she did that. Besides, why're we wasting our time here? I thought we were supposed to find the future Dragonmaster! Not watching a couple of teenagers fry some monsters."
Nall gave her a smug look. "That shows how ignorant you are."
That was all Ruby could stand. She smacked him across the face.
They were in Vane, the great guild that had once floated in the sky. They were standing in a historical place. Ayin gazed at all the quaint little houses and shops. Of course, every door was closed because it was well into the night.
Tsadde looked around. "Where're we supposed to stay?" he asked.
"Surely this place has an inn or something," Ayin said. "Over there!" It was lucky for them that hotels are open 24 hours. They paid for a room and at once drifted into a deep sleep.
"That voice again. Where was it coming from?"
"Ayin, HEY!!! ANSWER ME, WILL YA!?!"
"AHH!! Who are you!? Where are you? As a matter-of-fact, where am I?!"
"Relax Ayin, this is a dream. To answer your questions, well, okay. I'm Nash-"
"Whoa, wait-a-minute!! Nash?! Former apprentice to Master Ghaleon, the former Premier of Vane during the times of Dragonmaster Alex!!?"
"Uh, yeah. What you said. Heh, boy, you must really be into Lunar's history."
"What are you doing here? Are you the one who taught me those Thunder attacks?"
"Sure did, and boy, are you a fast learner! Pretty soon you'll be ready for the Thunder Thrust."
"Really? Isn't that your most powerful attack?"
"Yeah, but not as powerful as what you'll soon learn."
"Why are you here? Aren't you dead? What happened between you and Mia?"
"Hey, stay away from the personal questions!"
"Well, I'm here to help you learn some basics in using your powers. You had the potential, unfortunately, your brother doesn't."
"He won't be too happy about that."
"Heh, that didn't stop Kyle. I helped you out in that Trial Cave; Nall doesn't know a thing about preparations--sending in green warriors in hopes that they'll survive his test."
"Yah, anyways, he should have at least made sure you knew something about magic; it's sort of suicidal not to know, and enter the cave."
"So you're saying we were directed into that cave as a test?"
"You got it."
"You mean we could have entered through the gates after all?! We didn't have to go through that freakin' maze?!?!"
"Calm down! If you didn't go through, you might have never learned all the stuff I showed you."
"Nash, why are you speaking with me now? Am I just imagining all this?"
"You're dreaming. I'm just carrying on a normal little conversation. I was told to come and help you out the best I could, especially since you took interest in my thunder techniques. What's coming up is going to be very important, you're going to be a major player in the upcoming events."
"What are you talking about?"
"Seek Nall. Go to Taben's Peak, he'll answer all your questions. I gotta go. It's almost morning. Glad we had this little talk."
"So soon? Wait-"
"Don't worry, I'll chat with you again some other time. Till we meet again, Dragonmaster..."
Ayin sat up suddenly. Tsadde was by her bed, grinning.
"Don't do that!! You freaked me out!"
Tsadde pouted. "Well, you were sleeping late. It's time for breakfast." He hopped off her bed and out the door.
Ayin stretched and went to dress. She pulled on her boots and grabbed her sword and the cloak. Outside, the sun was warm and the morning was quiet and peaceful. Tsadde came outside and stood next to Ayin. He held out a loaf of bread. "Innkeeper gave it to me. Want some?"
Ayin smiled and took some of the bread. "So we're in Vane. Now what?" Ayin was too busy thinking about that wacked out dream she had last night. What did he mean by calling me 'Dragonmaster'?
"Oh, sorry, Tsadde. I was sorta preoccupied."
Tsadde gave her a funny look, then turned and looked around the town. "I said, what should we do now?"
Ayin looked down at her worn-out skirt. "I want to get something more comfortable to wear. I can't fight with a skirt on!"
"Funny, you were doing just that the other day."
Ayin laughed. "Well I can't stand it much longer. Come on." With that, she grabbed Tsadde by the arm and dragged him to the bazaar.
After a quick purchase and change (which meant ditching the skirt and slipping into a pair of shorts), and putting on the cloak as an added touch, Ayin decided that they head to the library. Never had she seen so many books. She went through one after the other, absorbing all the interesting things she read. Tsadde looked through a couple of books and made a face. "This stuff reeks."
Ayin sighed. "How can you say that? It's-"
"History, " Tsadde finished for her. He flopped down in a chair.
A young mage, about a year older than Ayin, came down the aisle. He had an armload of books, which he set on a table by Tsadde. "Hello. You must be new here. Not from Vane, are you?" he inquired politely.
"No," Ayin said. "We're from New Tamur."
The mage stepped back. "New Tamur! You came from there? Wasn't it destroyed?"
Ayin nodded sadly. "My brother and I managed to escape. I think we were the only survivors."
The mage bowed his head. "I'm so sorry. When we heard that New Tamur was up in smoke, we assumed everyone was lost as well. It's certainly good news to find that there were survivors. Well, on behalf of my mother Lemria Ausa, I'd like to welcome you to Vane. I am Rykea Ausa."
"Ausa!? " exclaimed Ayin and Tsadde.
"Yes, I'm from the line of Ausa that goes thousands of years back to when Dragonmaster Dyne defeated the black dragon," Rykea explained.
Ayin and Tsadde were confounded. They were standing face-to-face with a descendant of Mia Ausa. Ayin realized that they had been gawking for some time now, and quickly introduced herself. "My name is Ayin Yutsora. This is my brother Tsadde."
"Yutsora," Tsadde added.
Ayin hissed at him, then turned back to Rykea.
"Pleased to meet you Ayin and Tsadde. Come, I'd like you to meet my mother. She'll be so relieved to see you've survived the New Tamur massacre. Follow me," Rykea said, and he led them to the Guild.
Ayin had never thought that the Guild Hall would look so magnificent. Tsadde was quite impressed as well. They followed Rykea down the long corridors, to a large door. "Wait out here for a moment," he said, as he stepped into the room. A few minutes later, he appeared again and beckoned them to enter.
"Welcome to Vane," a loud yet gentle voice proclaimed. "I am Lemria Ausa, leader of the Vane Magic Guild. I trust you have already met my son Rykea, premier of Vane." Rykea, who stood off to the side, bowed. "I mourn the loss of your town. Please, make yourselves at home here in Vane. Tell us of your journey. Things get more dangerous outside even as we speak, it is unlike anything I have ever seen. I am so glad you've made it safely to our guild."
Ayin admired the Guild leader. Her hair was the same light shade of brown as Rykea's, although her eyes were distinctly different; they were a bright sapphire blue while his were a seemingly empty gray. "Thank you Miss Lemria (she had no idea what she should call the Guild Mistress) for your hospitality. My brother Tsadde and I have had quite a journey, meeting up with many monsters-"
"And then we had to go through that Trial Cave of yours just to get into the city," Tsadde interrupted. Ayin glared at him.
"Trial Caves? You didn't have to go through there. The city of Vane is open to all who wish to come."
"That wasn't what the roadblock told us. The sign said you were renovating the entrance, and I don't know why you'd do something pointless like that," Tsadde continued.
"I assure you, we had no such thing up in front of the gates," argued the guild leader.
Ayin laughed nervously and covered her brother's mouth before he could say anything else to make them look crazy. "It's been a long trip! My brother's been seeing things."
Tsadde glared at her.
Lemria smiled. "Well, whatever you were talking about, let's just dismiss it, shall we? Come, I invite you to join us for lunch."
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