Dance of Wind IV
A Melody of Hope
"Most of Akandaea's peoples despise the King and would gladly offer their aid in destroying him," Ezreal crossed his arms. "All we have to do is gather them together." Mareina wasn't sure if he was serious. "You mean... start a war against the King and his Crusaders? You think that's possible...?" The explorer shrugged, "Anything is possible, but that's a discussion for another time. Maybe I'll ask the Elder Druids of Crescentglade their opinion... they are wise and surely have some valuable insight on the situation. Still, this all comes after you are cured." Ezreal stood up and helped Mareina to her feet. "Are you ready to leave this place and head into Faoi territory? I feel pretty rejuvenated after... our dance." He was thoughtful.
"Y-yeah, let's go! The sooner we get to Crescentglade, the sooner I can see my family again. Right? We'll rescue them from the stupid Crusaders!" Mareina exclaimed. Ezreal nodded as he walked ahead, Mareina following after him. "Right. Once we get out of Tiengea Valley, we'll arrive in a rocky area known as Geohilde. I haven't been there in a very long time, but if I recall correctly... there should be a race of humanoid golems living there. They are peaceful but you wouldn't be able to have much of a conversation with one, haha." The girl tilted her head as she trailed after Ezreal, "Why is that? Aren't they intelligent?"
"Oh, they are very intelligent. It's just that they really enjoy pondering questions and sharing knowledge they are extremely friendly and helpful, too. If we're lucky, we might be able to borrow a Garadea from them to carry us to the coast of Faoi where the Druid's Cove is. The trip would probably only take a couple of weeks with a Garadea..." Ezreal sounded hopeful. "What's a Garadea...?" Mareina had never heard of such a thing before. The explorer grinned, "Oh, you'll see... they are pretty amazing creatures. Anyway, Geohilde has a mythological story behind it too, just like Edelon Cavity. Want to hear it?"
I thought Ezreal didn't believe in myths, but he sure likes talking about them. Well, they are pretty interesting! I think myths are real... maybe told a bit differently, but I think that they happened. "Yeah, myths are really interesting! I never got to read about them much before, so it's fun when you tell me the stories." Mareina was eager to hear more stories from Ezreal he was a natural storyteller. "All right, I'll tell you the entire myth of the Sky God Qyendius. It's pretty long, but it should make our walk to Geohilde faster." Ezreal replied and Mareina urged him to begin telling the story.
The highest plane of existence is known as Heaven; here, new gods are born and angels fly amongst the clouds, carrying messages and performing duties. Heaven is a gigantic place, in fact its size cannot be measured by any means it is endless. Some say that pure souls are brought her by their respective guardian angels after their deaths... The story begins with one such guardian angel named Aeiroku Onzu. He was just a trainee, but he was very energetic and high-spirited. One day, after he led a soul to the paradise of Varzelheim, he wandered into Heaven's Aviary where the massive egg of Qyendius rest in the center of a great nest made of cornstalks and sweet grass. The angel trainee had never seen such a large egg before, and he was eager to help it hatch.
There was no one around to keep watch on the egg, so Aeiroku sang a lullaby to it, thinking that it would hatch. The melody reached Qyendius, and immediately the god fell in love with music and dance. He tried to dance within his Divinium shell, and all of Heaven's Aviary shook. When Aeiroku stopped singing, the unborn god cried out, and the structure that held his egg broke. The nest, along with Qyendius' egg, plummeted down to the mortal world Aeiroku followed after the egg and tried to catch it, but he wasn't strong enough to lift such a tremendously heavy object.
The egg fell down to Akandaea, over the Edelon Desert. When it crashed into the sand, it created a god-sized crater that would forever mark Qyendius' Fall to our world. The angel was distressed; he checked to see if the egg had been damaged, but the Divinium eggshell was invincible. When he received no response from the unborn god inside the egg, he felt nervous and decided to sing the lullaby again Qyendius was pleased and his egg cracked open. Then, a magnificent, giant bird with feathers of white and every shade of green rose from the remains of his shell. On his head was a huge rainbow-colored quill that was the shape of a treble clef. The bird-god looked upon Aeiroku with delighted golden eyes and thanked him.
Aeiroku was astonished never before had he seen a god born before his eyes. Qyendius bid Aeiroku farewell, giving him his eternal blessing and took off into the sky, leaving a trail of green magic-dust behind him as he flew away into the sky. It is said that every grain of magic dust that fell from Qyendius' feathers gave birth to a Wind Fairy. Aeiroku returned to Heaven and was scolded by the keepers of the Aviary, but Qyendius was never seen again after that day. Some say that he is watching over all of Akandaea and call him the Patron of Music and the Guardian of the Skies.
The sun was beginning to rise by the time Ezreal finished telling the story of the Sky God Qyendius. "...If you're lucky, you might just hear a song about him from the Wind Faeries. ...The end." he said with a smile. Mareina was a bit disappointed. "But what happened to Qyendius? There's got to be more, right? Riiight?!" Ezreal rubbed the back of his head, "You really like it when I tell you stories, don't you...?" he glanced up at the sky as he stretched his arms. "It's already morning... we're almost out of the valley. You can see the Pinnacles of Geohilde from here pretty cool, huh?" Mareina groaned, "Meh, more dirt and rocks... how boring. Why don't you tell me another story?" The explorer rolled his eyes, "Dirt and rocks have their own stories to tell, you know. In fact, there's an interesting myth concerning Geohilde and Qyendius as well!"
"Really?! What is it? Tell me, tell me!" Mareina was starting to feel sleepy for the first time, but she was too excited to notice it much. "Haha, how are you feeling, Mareina?" Ezreal inquired as he came to a stop and turned to her, putting his hands on his sides and raising an eyebrow. The girl stopped and lowered her head, feeling the exhaustion come over her. "I-I feel..." she was dizzy and fell forward, but Ezreal caught her. "I feel really tired; it's been a while since I... felt tired. But why? I thought I wouldn't be tired anymore because of the vampire curse..." she sighed. "Damn, false hope again?" She didn't want to believe that she had fully become human. But... wouldn't that be great if it was true? If my crystals regrowing healed the curse?
Ezreal sat down in the grass with Mareina and let her rest her head on his lap as he placed a hand on her shoulder. "You should rest for now, Mareina." She gazed up at him curiously, a glimmer of hope in her brown eyes. "Hey, Ezreal... do you think my curse was cured when my crystals regrew back in the Tiengea Valley?" He wasn't sure, so he didn't give her a direct answer. "Either way, we're going to the Druid's Cove, Mareina. I know you don't want to go, but there's no turning back now." Mareina whined, "But why do we have to go if I'm cured? Man, we should go to Thornwood and kick some Crusader ass! Then we can get my family out of that hell-hole and go somewhere safe in Faoi or Velion... right? Wasn't that what you wanted to do?"
Ezreal patted Mareina's head, "Calm down and get some rest, Mareina. I'll tell you another story to help you fall asleep, how does that sound?" Her eyes lit up, "Really?! Okay, tell me!" she smiled, and he chuckled. "What? Why are you laughing at me?" He grinned, "You're so childish. It's cute." Mareina blushed, but she wasn't sure if she should take that as an insult or a compliment. "Whatever, just tell me a story. Come on, Ezreaaaalll!"
He snickered and touched Mareina's cheek lightly; she shivered when one of his fingers brushed against her neck. Ezreal raised an eyebrow, "Hm? Are you ticklish...?" Mareina bit her lip and shook her head slowly it was obvious by the horrified look in her eyes that she was lying. The explorer smiled widely and touched Mareina's neck again, and she snorted trying to hold back her laughter. "Heh, I'll remember that. For now, I'll tell you another story if you aren't asleep by the time I finish, I'm going to tickle you." Mareina nodded slowly, "I-I'll be asleep, definitely!" His voice soothes me anyway... I'll probably fall asleep pretty fast!
When the Sky God's egg collided with Akandaea, there was a great earthquake that was felt across the world, but the area most affected was a nameless wasteland full of nothing but dirt. The earthquake caused great precipices to rise out of the ground, along with precious minerals and other great rocks. When Qyendius flew over this wasteland, his magic dust fell over the land and gave birth to the Ban'Geos a race of human-like golem creatures. They were made from rock, dirt and gems and no single Ban'Geo was alike much like humans. The Ban'Geos were born with intelligence exceeding any mortal, for they had the memories of the stones and the dirt some of them were centuries upon centuries old.
The new race was extremely peaceful and preferred to spend their time collecting precious gems from the ground to add to their own bodies and also to beautify their homeland. Once the Ban'Geos were born, the wasteland was completely transformed into a brilliant land of gems and polished stone; thus, the wasteland needed a name: Geohilde was what they named it. Years passed, but the Ban'Geos never ventured beyond their beloved sanctuary. Not much is known about this elusive race they usually are very distrustful of humans, but at the same time very curious about the outside world.
"If you are lucky enough to encounter a Ban'Geo, be weary of what questions you may ask, for you could be waiting a very long time for a reply. ...That concludes the myth of the Ban'Geos. Hmm, are you asleep?" Ezreal watched her for a while. "She must have been exhausted." he smiled as he caressed her head. "It's a good sign that she is sleeping again. Maybe the crystals really did cure her or weaken the curse, at least." Ezreal wanted to take Mareina into his arms and hold her as she slept, but he didn't want to risk waking her. "Sleep well, Mareina..." A great warmth washed over him and filled his heart. It's true, Mareina... I am falling in love with you. I hope that things will never change between us, regardless of what the future holds...
Ezreal's mind wandered for a while as he watched over Mareina as she slept. He wondered how much time would pass before she woke up. Well, I might as well get a bit more rest too. He carefully lifted Mareina and brought her beside him as he laid down on the grass. Heh, she'll probably freak out when she wakes up like this... He smiled, brushing the hair from Mareina's face, and then gently put an arm around her. It's the first time I've ever met someone who was so interested in old stories. It's like this girl wants to live in her own fairy tale. Then again, maybe I do too my own fairy tale, with her...?
He closed his eyes, his mind beginning to drift off soon after. It wasn't long before he fell asleep on the grass, still holding Mareina close to him. They were barely in Faoi territory now Geohilde was maybe an hour's walk away, but even though they would be leaving Tiengea Valley soon, neither of them would ever forget the special moment they shared there. The Dance of Wind... was it really something of great importance or was it just one of the Wind Faeries' tricks? Perhaps they will find out someday soon...
Hours passed and it was evening by the time the pair woke up. Ezreal was the first to wake as the light of the tired sun poured onto them. He sat up, "Mareina? Are you awake?" he asked, and she murmured in her sleep. "Mareina," he touched her shoulder and she yawned. "Hi..." she breathed, staring up at him sleepily. "I'm still tired," she said with a sigh, closing her eyes. Ezreal shook his head, "We have to go, Mareina. The Ban'Geos won't be around once it gets dark." The girl grumbled and stood up, stretching. "Ban'Geos sleep? That's weird..." Ezreal faced towards Geohilde, "Yeah, they aren't really that different from humans, but I really don't know that much about them. We can talk more on the way, let's get going."
Mareina followed after the explorer when he set off, but she lagged behind, feeling lethargic. "Mareina, you might turn into a bat if we don't get to the druids in time, you know." Ezreal teased her. "A bat!" she squealed, sprinting to him. "You serious? A bat?!" When she saw him trying to hold in his laughter, she pouted. "Oh, you're just teasing me again! Humph, I bet that curse is already gone and we're just wasting time going all this way." Ezreal shrugged, "Maybe..." He wondered if she truly thought it was a 'waste of time' to travel with him like this.
Maybe she does feel that way, he thought. After all, if she was never cursed, we never would have met. Is it selfish to-- No, it is stupid to think such things. The only thing that matters right now is making sure that Mareina will not become a full vampire. I don't want her to meet the same end as my aunt. Ezreal sighed, it was a bother to have such thoughts, to care for someone so deeply after keeping a cold heart for so long. I never would have thought I'd meet someone like her when I was out exploring. What a strange way we met, too.
"Ezreal?" Mareina spoke up after Ezreal had been silent for a while. "Isn't the sunset pretty? You can see it fading under the distant mountains. That's Geohilde too, right?" Ezreal blinked as his thoughts were shattered; he looked out towards the mountains and nodded. "Yeah, that's Geohilde. Far beyond those mountains is the snowy country of Aslande it is the most fascinating place I've ever been to." Mareina smiled, "Snowy country... I always wanted to see a place like that!" she paused, feeling a bit sad. "Hey.... Ezreal, do you think one day... Akandaea will be a peaceful place?" Ezreal wasn't sure how to respond, and he crossed his arms as he thought about it for a while. "It would be nice, but I don't think true peace will ever exist." Mareina frowned at his response, but he added, "However... I think someday we'll be able to travel the world without worry."
They spent the rest of the walk to Geohilde in silent thought, and by the time they reached the rocky place, the sun was nearly set. Geohilde was covered in crystals and giant, pointed rocks everything was decorated with diamond dust that sparkled in the dying sunlight. "Wow... this is Geohilde? It's beautiful!" Mareina exclaimed, picking up a shiny rock. "Look at this!" she held it up it was a strange, silvery rock that was light as a feather. "Oh, that's--" Before Ezreal could finish his sentence, the strange rock floated out of Mareina's hands and hovered around the ground, gathering bits of rock and crystal until it formed a very human-like creature.
Its eyes were made of blue topaz and floating above its boulder-head was the silvery rock. "HE-LLO! WEL-COME TO GEO-HILDE. IT IS NOT EVERY-DAY THAT HU-MANS COME HERE," it said in a slow, deep voice. "Whoa cool, is this a Ban'Geo?" Mareina touched its gravelly arm and its blue eyes studied her for a while it seemed intrigued by her. "Mareina, that's not polite, haha." Ezreal shook his head, "Sorry, she's a bit too curious for her own good. We've come to Geohilde to borrow a Garadea to take us to Crescentglade. Can you help us?"
The Ban'Geo was silent for a few minutes. "MY APOLO-GIES, BUT THE EL-DER BAN'GEOS WILL BE RES-TING UNDER-GROUND FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKS. I AM A NEW-LY BORN BAN'GEO, THERE-FORE I DO NOT RE-QUIRE AS MUCH STA-SIS TIME." Mareina stared at Ezreal, "So what do we do now? Is it worth waiting?" The explorer scratched his cheek thoughtfully. "Well, we would arrive in Crescentglade around five weeks from now with the help of a Garadea, but it will take us another week to get to the Druid's Cove on foot. If we depart from Geohilde today without a Garadea, it would take us seven weeks without rest to get there. It's a bit risky, because you'll have been cursed for a little more than two months. Remember, you need the cure within ninety days for it to be effective." Ezreal explained. "It's logical to assume that they probably don't have the required ingredients for the cure on-hand, either..."
"IT SEEMS YOU ARE IN A DIRE SITU-ATION. IF YOU AL-LOW ME FOUR DAYS, I CAN CRE-ATE A MIN-OR GARA-DEA FOR YOU. HOW-EVER, IT WILL NOT BE AS RELI-ABLE AS IF YOU REC-EIVED IT FROM AN EL-DER BAN'GEO. THE DECI-SION IS UP TO YOU." Ezreal nodded, "That sounds great. Thank you so much," he said with a small bow. "Is it all right if we rest here until the Garadea is ready?" The Ban'Geo seemed to nod. "Do you have a water supply around here?" the explorer asked. The creature pointed off towards a line of pointed rocks, "A SMALL RI-VER RUNS NEAR THAT AR-EA. I BE-LIEVE THERE ARE AQUA-TIC CREA-TURES LIV-ING THERE THAT HU-MANS FIND EDI-BLE. HELP YOUR-SELF, FRIENDS. YOU ARE WEL-COME IN GEO-HILDE."
Ezreal was relieved, "Haha, it's good to finally be in a peaceful environment. Mareina, let's go check it out." Mareina tilted her head when he gestured for her to follow him, "I wanna ask this guy something first, I'll be there in a minute, Ezreal." The explorer acknowledged her and went on ahead to the river. "Mister Ban'Geo, you seemed to be intrigued by me somehow. Is it because of the crystals on my wings?"
The Ban'Geo did not reply, it simply pondered her question. "Do you know what they are? Because these wings just appeared on me one day and really screwed my life up. Please, can you tell me?" The golem finally replied, "I HAVE NE-VER EN-COUN-TERED SUCH A BEAU-TIFUL CRYS-TAL BE-FORE. IT IS UN-NAT-URAL, YET..." the Ban'Geo stared at the crystals on Mareina's wings. "I SEE..." it seemed to realize what the crystals were. "THESE CRYS-TALS ARE COM-POSED OF YOUR DREAMS, HOPES AND MEM-ORIES... NOT ON-LY THAT, BUT YOUR SOUL, AS WELL."
Mareina was a bit shocked, "M-my soul...? But at one point, I lost them all! D-does that mean... I lost my soul?" she became very nervous. "ON-LY A SOUL-MATE CAN HEAL A LOST SOUL. I DO NOT KNOW ANY OTH-ER INFOR-MATION THAT WOULD BE USE-FUL TO YOU. I MUST BE-GIN PRE-PAR-ATIONS, I WISH YOU LUCK." The Ban'Geo started to walk away, "DO NOT LET GO OF WHAT IS PRE-CIOUS, NO MAT-TER WHAT. DO NOT LET THE IMPUR-ITIES STAIN YOU." The girl watched as the Ban'Geo's body fell apart and the silvery rock floated away. She sighed and went to the river where Ezreal was gathering water in his canteens.
"Hey," Ezreal said, smiling up at her as she stood next to him. The sun had completely faded from sight now, but still its light was struggling to survive. "What's with the gloomy look?" He was crouching near the crystal-clear water, filling a fourth canteen. "I don't know..." Mareina sighed. She wanted a reason for everything that had happened thus far, but she couldn't accept the possibility that there was no reason at all. Ezreal offered her a canteen of fresh water, "Are you thirsty?" Thirsty. The word echoed in her mind, but the maniacal vampiric whispers went unheard in Mareina's mind. "Now that I think about it..." she took the canteen and chugged it down, gasping for air afterward. "Ahhh, not bad... for water."
Good, she seems to be acting normal again. Ezreal noted. She's sleeping and drinking, but I wonder if she is hungry? "Mareina, do you want some fruit? I have a bit left over from the oasis." he offered. "Nah," Mareina sat down beside him. "But I could go for some fish. ...Uhhh, wanna catch me some? ...and cook it?" Ezreal raised an eyebrow, "What are you going to do for me?" Mareina twiddled her thumbs and smiled cheesily, "I'll um, keep you company...?" Ezreal rolled his eyes, "You have to pay attention, then. I'll teach you how to do it so you'll never forget, okay?" The girl grumbled, "Awwww, but I can't learn! I'm stupid, man. Really. I am totally helpless! Honest..." Ezreal stared at her, unimpressed, then raised a hand towards her neck, but she grabbed it. "DON'T YOU DARE!" she cried. He smiled, "I know you aren't helpless, you're just lazy. Very lazy. I won't let you get away with that though! Haha, so you have to do as I say, all right?"
"Grrr, fine... whatever. I just want to eat some MEAT! I'm a CARNIVORE, MAN! I eat... MEAT!" Mareina was getting overly excited. "I bet you've never killed for food though, right?" Ezreal said as he took out a small knife from his bag and tied it to a nearby long stick to make a crude spear. "W-well... no, I just-- wait, you're going to KILL it?" she didn't seem to like the idea. "Do you think meat falls out of the sky, pre-cooked onto your plate or something?" he was amused. "How am I supposed to know? I just eat it! I don't sit there and think about the steps it takes for it to get to my plate..." she sighed. "Now you will," Ezreal laughed. "Okay, watch closely. The water isn't flowing too quickly so it's easy to spot the fish look, there's one! Now, you have to be fast!" he jabbed the spear into the water and stabbed the fish.
When he raised the spear, the bloody, dying fish wiggled on the knife before it died. "Dude, that's disgusting. It's like a murderous shish-kabob." Mareina was feeling a bit nauseous. The sight and smell of blood doesn't excite her anymore; another good sign. I still can't be sure if the curse is gone, though. There is only one way to find out, and it's too risky. "Take out one of the small blankets, Mareina; I'll put the fish on there. Then, go gather up the things we'll need for a fire you know what to get, right?" Mareina took out a small blanket and laid it out on the smooth rock surface and Ezreal placed the dead fish on it. "Ummm... rocks and sticks and stuff, right?" He nodded with a small smirk and sent her off. "Haha... what an ignorant girl. But... I think that's one of the things I really love about her. She is so oblivious to a lot of things... maybe she's better off that way." Ezreal speared several more fish and prepared them for cooking. "She's probably upset about having to gather materials. I wonder what her life was like before we met? When I think about it... I don't really know much about her at all. Then again, she doesn't know me too well, either... so then why...?" This is still so new to me...