Eight Years Later...
It was a dark and stormy night, like something out of a child's
ghost story, over the entire Katarina Zone. The sky was pitch
back, and not even the Blue Star could be seen. Rain and lightning
battered the Katarina Zone mercilessly.
The floating city of Vane, in its endless protective orbit
around the Goddess Tower, was also being struck hard by the
thunderstorm. From her study in the Guild Mansion, a lovely
young girl, about sixteen years old, was watching the storm.
Something about its brutal intensity disturbed her. It was as
if the storm was a dark omen of disaster.
Suddenly, one of the Guild servants burst into the room. "Lady
Ausa!" he gasped, "the Airship!"
The girl stared at the servant, pure horror in her eyes and
# # #
The next morning, in the countryside of the Katarina Zone,
all was peaceful once more. Besides the wet grass, there was
no sign that there had been a fierce storm the night before.
The endless blue sky seemed brighter than ever. Not even a cloud
was in the sky.
Two men, however, were in considerably cloudy moods. "I'm
never gonna get this!" one of them said angrily.
Ghaleon looked at Dyne, thinking at how much he had grown
over time. Eight years of travel and living out in the open
had turned the scrappy boy from Burg into a tall, strong, sturdy
young man. He had traveled to many places with Ghaleon, and
had learned many things. But by Althena, he's the worst magic
student I've ever laid eyes on! he thought. Ever since the
two of them had faced the monstrous Diadochus one year ago,
Ghaleon had decided that Dyne needed to learn magic. But even
after one year, Dyne was unable to learn even the most basic
"I don't know why I even bother," Dyne muttered. "I'm great
with a sword, and I don't even have any magic ability anyway,
so what's the use?"
I do not need his attitude today! Ghaleon thought angrily.
The storm had kept him awake the previous night. The cave Dyne
had discovered sheltered them from the rain and the wind, but
not the noise. As a result, Ghaleon now had a splitting headache.
And Dyne wasn't making things easier.
"You haven't even tried effort yet! Are you going to give
up so easily?"
"Look, I've never been able to do magic in my life. What makes
you think I'll be able to learn now, just because you say I
Ghaleon's gaze turned cold. "I didn't realize you were a quitter,
Now Dyne was angry. "I am not quitting! I'm just blowing off
some steam." He sighed. "I don't like the idea of not knowing
how to do something after trying to learn it for a year."
"I'm just telling you that if you really want to learn magic,
you must give it effort! I can sense great magic potential within
you! You just don't want to bother with learning how to use
"What's with you today? Why are you coming down on me like
"I didn't sleep well last night, and I have a really bad headache.
And your attitude isn't helping!"
"All right, all right," sighed Dyne, his anger cooled down.
"Let me try one more time..."
His voice faded off as he looked ahead. In a nearby cliff
face, he saw a strange object trapped in a small gorge.
"What is that?"
Ghaleon looked to where Dyne was pointing. He gasped, as he
recognized the object. No...it can't be...after all this
"It's an airship from Vane," he said simply.
Dyne looked at Ghaleon strangely, knowing that he wasn't getting
a complete answer. "Vane? You mean the floating city of magicians
you're always talking about?"
Ghaleon nodded, still mesmerized by this relic of the past.
Dyne's eyes blazed with curiosity and wonder as he looked
at the Airship. "By Althena..." he whispered. Never in his life
had he seen anything like it. The ship itself, attached to a
giant balloon, was dark gray, rectangular, with a sphere beneath
it, apparently the passenger section. Eight lamps were on the
front of the sphere. Two propellers were attached to the sides
of the ship, and they appeared to be in bad shape.
"The storm must have done this," said Ghaleon. "See how the
moss on those rocks grows in a straight line? The rocks must
have been broken off."
"We have to get to Vane," Dyne said. "We have to let them
know about the ship."
"You're right, we must...wait a minute. We? What do you mean
'we'? Since when are you interested in Vane? You never paid
much attention to it before."
"That was then. This is now. Besides, I said I wanted to see
all the interesting places of the world, and I haven't seen
Vane yet. And you were the one who brought up Vane in the first
place. Besides, what am I supposed to do, just sit here twiddling
my thumbs while you're having fun in Vane?"
"I hate it when you're right," Ghaleon grumbled. "Okay, you
can come too."
"Great! So, how do we get there?"
"Well, we could use the Fountain of Transmission, but it's
too far, and it looks like those people in there need our help
immediately. Besides, since you've never been to Vane before,
you'd have to pass the Cave of Trial, which I honestly don't
think you're ready for yet. Plus, it takes a long time to pass
the Trial. Fortunately, there's another way..."
Dyne was about to ask how Ghaleon knew so much about Vane
and the airship, when Ghaleon cast a teleportation spell to
transport them both to Vane. Dyne's stomach lurched as he felt
himself transformed into energy, and zapped at the speed of
light right into the heart of Vane. He felt incredible pain
as he passed through the magic barrier that surrounded Vane.
Then there was only darkness.
# # #
By Althena, Ghaleon thought, it has changed so much.
Have I really been gone so long? Are there even any of the magic
race left here in Vane? He looked around in wonder at the
new, modern structures that stood in Vane. As he looked, he
noticed Dyne lying unconscious. Damn it! I forgot about the
Shield! I'm immune to it because I'm a member of the magic race
and a native of Vane, but Dyne isn't!
Kneeling besides his fallen friend, he cast a healing spell
over him. Dyne stirred, and finally rose. "Oooouuugh... do me
a favor, Ghaleon. Next time you're gonna pull a stunt like that,
warn me first, okay?"
Ghaleon smiled. "At least I know you're okay."
Dyne rose, grumbling... and looked around in wonder as he
saw the majestic city of Vane for the first time.
"By Althena..." he whispered as he looked at the elegant buildings
and enchanting gardens. "I've never seen anything like it!"
The two of them kept looking around as if they were dreaming
at the marvelous city of Vane. Then they were aware of other
people around them. Ghaleon recognized them as officials of
the Magic Guild. They were looking at him and Dyne with a mixture
of wonder and suspicion.
# # #
Ghaleon was the first to recover his composure. "I must speak
with the Guildmistress of Vane."
Nobody moved. The amazed and suspicious whispering continued.
"It's an emergency!" said Ghaleon urgently.
Still nobody moved. Ghaleon was ready to blast through the
crowd and into the Guild Manor itself when a girl's voice cried
out, "How dare you people show such bad manners to visitors!
You dishonor the Magic Guild with your actions!"
The crowd parted. A young girl crossed through. She was very
beautiful. Her hair seemed to be both blonde and brunette. She
wore an elegant black and red robe, and a violet lightweight
cloak. Despite her noble bearing, she looked weary and troubled.
The people bowed to her respectfully as she walked passed them.
"Please forgive them," she said with a polite smile. "We are
not used to visitors. Especially visitors who can appear out
of nowhere. And it has been many years since a member of the
magic race has been seen in Vane. As deputy of the Magic Guild
of Vane, I welcome you to our fair city!"
The deputy of the Magic Guild? Dyne wondered. She
can't be more than sixteen!
"Where's the Guildmistress herself?" asked Ghaleon sternly.
"She's not here, but she will be back tomorrow."
Ghaleon's eyes narrowed, not believing the girl's words.
"We found an airship trapped in a gorge, and we think it might
belong to you," Dyne said.
All chattering stopped. Many of the people looked shocked.
You could have heard a pin drop on a thick carpet in the silence.
The girl retained her composure, however. "I appreciate you
letting us know. That's very kind of you. Would you like to
stay in the Guild Manor until she returns? We have a couple
of guest rooms available."
Ghaleon bowed politely, and Dyne followed suit. The girl led
them towards the Guild Manor.
"In all my travels, I have never seen anything like this,"
said Dyne breathlessly, looking around.
"It's so different from how I remember it," Ghaleon sighed.
The girl looked at him curiously. "You used to live here?"
"A long, long, time ago." A bitter look came on Ghaleon's
face as a flood of long-buried memories swept through his mind.
Seeing this, the girl decided not to press him any further.
Eventually, they arrived at the Manor. "Well, this is it!
What do you think?"
"Wow!" said Dyne. He was even more impressed as they stepped
inside. To a young man who spent most of his life in hamlets
and small villages, the intricate tile work, the elegant tapestries,
and the paintings on the walls made the Manor look like a king's
castle. "Man, even in Meribia they don't live like this!"
Ghaleon smiled at Dyne's words. He could only imagine what
Dyne was thinking, seeing all this for the first time. He too
was caught up in the splendor of the place. I was a child
when I left here. Now, it's like seeing it again for the first
A guild member burst into the room. "Lady Ausa, the Airship-"
A look from the girl cut him off. "Yes?"
The guild member whispered into her ear. Although she did
not react, Dyne and Ghaleon could both tell that the news was
"Who's riding on the Airship right now, Lady... Ausa, right?"
The girl stood firm. "Yes, Ausa. Lemia Ausa. And I'm very
sorry, but that information is for Guild members alone."
Ghaleon nodded, almost like he was expecting that answer.
He walked absent-mindedly towards a window. His expression suddenly
turned grim. "It looks like another storm is on the way, probably
bigger than the last one. It should arrive tomorrow afternoon."
For the first time, Lemia showed fear, but only for an instant.
"Whatever we do to save the people aboard that ship, we must
do it fast! That ship can't take much more damage. A second
storm would destroy it!"
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