A great part of the first chapter is explaining the current state of the world; please don't get discouraged to read the fic. The next chapter is full on action, I promise! Don't forget to review.
Chapter 1: The Inn and Old Hatreds
It was a very slow night for the inn of the King's Blessing, only a few tables and rooms were occupied and the innkeeper, a stick-thin graying man, was biting his nails behind the counter, trying to figure out how he could continue making ends meet if there were more nights like this one.
Despite not being well-known in Prontera, the King's Blessing was a decent inn by most standards. Its common room was fair-sized and paneled with dark wood, and the fire burning in the hearth at the room's corner kept the whole place warm from the cold, rainy air outside. However, even at its best, the King's Blessing could not compete with the more popular inns in the city where prosperous merchants usually reserved rooms in weeks before they actually needed it.
The patrons of the King's Blessing were usually the less wealthy merchants who could afford no better, the average run-of-the-mill traveler who had heard about its decent lodgings and fair prices from somebody else, or some of the citizens in Prontera that had taken a liking to food made by the inn's cook.
Tonight, no less wealthy merchant or Pronteran citizen had decided to pay a visit to the inn, but four travelers were seated at separate tables around the common room. All of them had nothing much in common except they all did a good job of keeping their cowls up and their faces hidden.
The entire inn was unusually quiet, aside from the occasional gulp from one of the four, then the clang of the tankard once they placed it back on the table. The innkeeper contemplated again on having only four customers tonight, and began biting into his nails more restlessly than before.
As if the gods had pity on the poor man, the door to the inn was pushed open and another traveler stood outside the establishment. The man was tall, his head nearly touching the door frame as he entered; he was drenched from head to toe after coming in from the rain. The traveler walked towards the counter, everything from his cloak to his boots dripping all over the wooden floor.
The innkeeper didn't appreciate the traveler tracking mud and water all over his inn, but he gave a ready and pleasant smile nonetheless; having only a fifth person come into his establishment tonight, he was in no position to complain.
"Bill Gasel, at your service," the inn keeper said curtly. The traveler didn't put down his cowl, so everything above his mouth was hidden in shadow. Gasel extended a hand towards the traveler; alas the man didn't show any outward sign that he planned to raise his hand in the near future so poor Master Gasel he had to put his own down awkwardly and embarrassedly.
"I need a room for the night, Gasel." stated the traveler in an accent so crude that it was near impossible to guess his nationality. One of the travelers that had arrived earlier, snorted in his drink upon hearing the other man's accent, thankfully the newcomer didn't seem to notice this, and a possible brawl was avoided.
The innkeeper considered the new arrival to be Morrocan judging by his much unsophisticated drawl and lack of using an honorific, but the fair skin that showed from under his cowl was much too fair for anybody from the desert kingdom to have. Possibly Geffenese, the innkeeper considered next, he took one look at the man's height and decided that no Geffenese could be that tall, they were all so short. He didn't even try to guess a third time anymore and simply turned to the kitchen and hollered for one of the tavern maids.
"Oy, Sella! Come out hear you slothful girl!" Gasel bellowed.
It wasn't too long before a dark-brown haired tavern maid in a starched white apron stepped out from the door that separated the common room and the kitchen.
"What were you doing back there in the kitchen, girl?" asked Master Gasel folding his arms over his chest and staring down at the young tavern maid.
"I was only chatting with the scullions, Master Gasel." replied Sella in a high cheeping voice.
"I don't pay you to chat!" snapped Master Gasel "Now, make yourself useful and show this good man a room." He retrieved a ring of keys from somewhere in his person and handed them to the girl.
The girl curtsied to the inn keeper before she squeezed between the two men and headed for the stairs. "Come this way, please," she squeaked at the taller man.
Turning on his heel, the man followed her and together they went up the stairs and into the second floor to find him lodging for the night.
The inn keeper watched the traveler until he turned and disappeared behind the corner of the wall. His eyes then moved towards the mud and water that the new comer had brought all the way to the second floor. He finally let go of the scowl that he had been holding back since the man arrived before heading to the back room to retrieve a rag.
Sella stopped in front of a hard-wood door with a bronze number five hanging on its face. She fiddled around with the ring of keys for some time before she managed to find the one that opened the room.
She pushed the door open revealing the room to be big enough for one person's comforts; it was furnished with a clean bed, a couple of chests for the occupier's belongings, a small desk and ladder-backed chair set, and a wash basin complete with a mirror at the corner.
The man entered the room and meticulously inspected it from top to bottom. Nearly half a minute passed without a word being spoken.
"I think you'll find everything to your liking," peeped the tavern maid breaking the silence, "The cook is preparing a wonderful dinner tonight, Master…um…I'm sorry I haven't gotten your name yet. My name is Sella, and I'll be-" before the tavern made could finish her sentence the man turned around so abruptly that it made her jump up from surprise. She was about to ask the man if anything was wrong but before she could open her mouth the man swung the door closed in her face.
Sella was left standing in the empty hallway, rubbing the tip of her nose. This new comer didn't seem to know how to act the least bit decently to other people, but she remembered how tall he was and how his wet cloths shaped themselves unto his well-toned body. She swooned at her own thoughts and walked back down the stairs completely forgetting about the man's rude behavior.
The man placed his ear beside the door and listened until the sound of the tavern maid's feet had slowly faded with each step she descended on the stairs. "Finally," he whispered in an accent no longer crude but very fluid and light, as if all his words rolled off his tongue and into each other.
He finally took off his cowl, revealing him to be a young man, scarcely if at all out of his teenage years. His face was remarkably handsome, almost too handsome for masculinity; almost but not yet. He was tall and slender, but his movements spoke of a rapier's strength and sure confidence. With ringlets of hair like spun gold, light blue, almost silver, eyes that paled the earliest of winter frosts, and his flowing articulate accent, he was revealed to be in fact Geffenese, no matter how misleading his height was. Phi was his name.
Stepping back from the door, he paced towards the bed, but the squishing sounds from his boots quickly reminded him that he was still soaking wet. He waved his hand over his cloths and the water immediately began to siphon off and collect into a ball in front of him. The display of arcane ability combined with his Geffenese features immediately labeled him as either a mage or a wizard, despite not wearing the usual garb of either. He proceeded to levitate the ball of water across the room before letting it cascade into the basin with barely a splash.
Now that he was dry, he could much more easily strip off the cloths that were getting uncomfortable, since stepping out of the rain. He unbuttoned his cloak and coat before throwing both over the chair. Next went his shirt, which he pulled over his head and discarded in the same manner as his other pieces of clothing.
His muscles were well toned and shaped, but not overly enlarged in the slightest. It was often a misconception by the less educated that magic users were physically weak, when in truth using magic not only required a strong spirit and mind, but a strong body as well. A weak person would not be able to handle the strain of casting spells and ultimately weaken until he expired. This gave birth to the saying among magic students, "Any mage can lift a sword just as easily as any swordsman; it is in the wielding of such weapons where mages lack. Though, why limit yourself to steel, when the powers of the elements are at your command?"
Phi's front was turned against the mirror so his bare back was being reflected. Its majority was covered in an extremely detailed tattoo of a raven carrying the eye of Geffen on its talons. To the ignorant the image meant nothing more than possibly a sign of masculinity, but to those who knew what the raven meant, some light on the identity of the so far mysterious Phi would be more than illuminated.
To better understand more about the person of Phi, a little trickle of Geffenese history is needed. The great Odin, god of battle and magic had on his shoulders perched two ravens, Hugin and Munin, meaning Thought and Memory. Both words were vastly essential for the control of magic so the ancient Geffenese were quick to adapt the raven as a symbol of their army, concretely expressed in the resemblance of the soldier's helmet to the bird.
High or low, the Raven is the quintessential sigil of the Geffenese army; from the lowest non-magic wielding soldier to the most powerful of casters; the raven image stands steadfast. Situated atop them all, is the crowned Prince of Geffen, given titular command over the Raven army upon birth, and thusly called The Prince of Ravens. That is exactly who Phi is, for in the high courts of Geffen he is known as His Highness Prophius Greve d'Ame un avec la'Arcanorum The Prince of Ravens.
Phi was exceptionally special within the lineage of princes. All Geffenese royals were guaranteed to be potent spell casters since strength in magic was a hereditary trait, but Phi had exceeded all expectations and did so at an unbelievably rapid rate. He had cast his first spell at the age of four and quickly advanced and achieved mage-hood at the age of ten. During his life at the mage academy he was able to outstrip most of his teachers by age fourteen and had even mastered wizard level spells way out of a mage's normal caliber, let alone an extremely young one. He was finally raised to his wizard's position at sixteen and in no less than two years, his abilities earned him the much coveted title of High Wizard.
Now, at nineteen years of age, he was second only to his father, the current reigning Roi (King) of Geffen, Oberon Acier de Seigneur un avec la'Arcanorum, in terms of sheer power. The members of the Geffen magocracy whispered among themselves that Phi hadn't yet achieved his full strength, and sooner or later he could surpass his father and possibly try to usurp the throne.
Unfortunately, no matter how lowly people whispered, the rumors always seemed to find its way into the open especially in Geffen, a country whose citizens live on intrigue and plotting. No sooner than when the rumors came about, did Roi Oberon hear about it and order that power limiters were placed on Phi. And so there were, Phi's right ear was pierced thrice and three specialized earrings were placed that would decrease his power. Phi was considerably weakened but he still remained the second most powerful in the country.
Phi sat down on the bed and proceeded to take off his boots, as he did, he observed the view outside the window. His room was perfectly positioned so that he could see the entire face of the Pronteran sanctuary. The brilliant white structure, adorned with stain glass and marble statues of gods stood at the northeast of Prontera and served as the center of the Odin-Baldur faith, Phi couldn't help but give a grimace as he looked at the building.
Phi was the crowned Prince of Geffen, and the highest ranked individual in the Raven Army. If such an important person as he was to visit Prontera, he wouldn't be staying at some run of the mill inn; he'd be invited to reside in the Pronteran castle and by the King himself no less.
The reason Phi didn't announce his arrival to the Great Capital of the continent and chose to hide his existence, was because of a mission kept very discreet in the high courts of Geffen, so discreet in fact that the number of people aware of it can be counted on two hands. The task took root in a supposed injustice many years in the past.
Even though Geffen was known to be the capital of magic in the continent, their skills didn't exceed past the arcane. The Holy Order of the Church of Odin-Baldur -or simply the Holy Order- held their secrets to divine magic so selfishly and closely, to the point where the entire order would rather die than reveal any of their secrets.
A bad taste washed over Phi's mouth as he thought about it. The Holy Order was as hypocritical as it was corrupt, he thought to himself. They continually preached about the light and how people should be good, give to the deprived and such. Yet, they refuse to share their abilities to heal the sick and wounded.
Selling it wasn't a problem though, the Kafra Company had been able to buy from the Order the ability to bend space and create the warping portals. The entire world was shocked but Geffen was the most affected by the transaction. The Church had always made it appear that to use divine magic, one required to give as much back to the gods, in piety and prayer, as one used for spells.
Immediately after the deal between the Kafra Company and the Holy Order was settled, Geffen offered a heavy sum of gold, nearly tripling what the Kafra Company paid.
The Holy Order still refused, and it was then that Geffen began to take the affair personally. It wasn't a secret that the Holy Order held the capital of magic in animosity. They justified themselves by saying that no mortal would try to wield the powers that Geffen's spell casters did, without the desire to challenge the gods. They christened the Geffenese as sacrilegious, blasphemous and other labels against the faith.
Hesitantly, Geffen offered a trade of spells perhaps, with the ability to heal set in their hearts. They hoped that they could let the greed of the Order's corrupt officials feed on the thought of possibly having offensive power in their arsenal. After a long negotiation, that left both sides hanging by the skins of their teeth, Geffen agreed to trade their meditation techniques that allowed them to recover their spiritual powers at an increased rate, while the Holy Order agreed to trade their immobile barrier spell-safety wall.
The result, wasn't as Geffen expected it to be, The acolytes of the sanctuary had extreme difficulty in performing the meditation techniques and all in all they had to reach priestly level before they managed to master it. The mages on the other hand, grasped the process of creating a barrier from the sealed energies inside a blue gemstone like a fish took to water. Geffen felt that they got the low end of the deal, because aside from their part of the trade not needing a catalyst every time they wished to use it, the spell they received was considered pathetic by most Geffenese spell casters, because of its immobility and resistance only to physical attacks.
Numerous offers came from Geffen again and again but each one was turned down by the sanctuary and with each refusal to cooperate, the rage of Geffen was intensified. No explanation was given by the order, but the most predisposed one Geffen could come up with, was that the Church didn't want to push their luck and try to cheat Geffen a second time.
Phi looked at the great white structure with open disgust. Being the Prince of Geffen, he held this mission with more zeal than normally. The Holy Order had disrespected the capital of magic for much too long. Now, Geffen had sent it's finest to infiltrate the sanctuary and steal the tome containing the secrets to divine magic.
A group of five of the most powerful High wizards of the Geffen tower called the Raven Elite was dispatched secretly to steal the tome. They were given simple orders: steal the tome, do so as quickly as possible, and leave no trace that can link the theft to Geffen. Everything was expected to be executed flawlessly like all missions of high importance that were assigned to them.
Phi drew the curtains back leaving the room illuminated only by the candles. He lay down on the bed and closed his eyes. They would begin their mission once the city was asleep, he lifted his hand and the fire from the candles collected into his palm. He closed his hand into a fist and killed the flames finally covering the room in complete darkness.
In a few hours the raven's talons would sink down and carry the tome of divine magic away, leaving the Holy Order shaking in its foundations. Phi slowly drifted to sleep; much rest was needed for what was to come. Much rest indeed.
If anybody is having trouble at imagining the face of the Prince, the best comparison I can give you is Ryan Philippe (Reese Witherspon's ex-husband) when he was around nineteen.
Phi is pronounced like Tie, Dye, Fly, Cry...
Water Ball? - The spell Phi uses to siphon water off his cloths. In the game it's supposed to be a spell only learnable at wizarding level but I made a weaker version that even mages can perform, it doesn't have the same strength at water ball it's only simple hydrokinesis.
Fire Bolt/Ball/Wall…- Simple pyrokinises with the fire from the candles
SP recovery- meditations to increase the recovery of spiritual power traded by Geffen for safety wall; btw what does SP really stand for? For the record I only guessed spiritual power. It is learnable as a mage and as a priest.
Safety Wall- The immobile barrier spell of the Holy Order. If you're a safety wall fan, no hard feelings, it was the only other spell Priests and wizards could share. It is learnable as a mage and as a priest
I based Geffen on France during the Napoleonic era, the Prince's name actually translates into Prophius Soul Strike one with the Arcane while the Roi of Geffen's translates into Oberon Steel Lord one with the Arcane.
All the Norse mythology was actually researched, nothing made up except the Geffenese History. The idea for the ravens just popped into my head after seeing the helmets of the Geffen soldier when I played the game.