Previously on Aetherius Saga…
Jon the Compassionate, Sage of Water, was reunited after years with his brother Slash the Ephemeral. Now the Guildmaster of the Eternals, Slash takes Jon to meet his guild. After their introductions are complete, Jon decides to help them with a mission. Talking down a rival Guildmaster before he does something dangerous…again…
With Slash in the lead; the group take their Urba and ride to Nanow. The Urba were a moose-like race raised in Northern and Southern Poluyim for long distance travel. Primarily being used in areas seen as unfit or dangerous for horses. The Kingdom of Nanow was one of them, for it sat at the base of a single massive tree next to the coast known as the Tree of Armon. Legend says it was the first tree ever created, made by the combined efforts of Gaia and Stribog. Their combined Aethers nourishing the tree so it grew as tall as a mountain. And under its massive roots lived the Trelza. But unlike the Elves, the Trelza were willing to build and use man-made structures. Creating a small kingdom beneath its roots. On the main road sat the Guild of the Redmails, a massive mansion that made the Eternals Guild look minuscule. Its walls shone like ruby’s in sunlight, the gate that surrounded it a matching red hue, and its yard open with statues and fountains of the Elementals just because they could.
“Why are they so rich?!” Jon’s jaw drops at the lavish sight.
“Honestly we have no idea.”Na’na remarks.
“Wait until we get inside.” Tal adds.
The group enters the mansion and find it even more luxurious on the inside than the outside was. The rubies and diamonds that surpassed even the gates and walls outside adorned every facet of the mansions inside. Almost to a blinding extent wherever the sun shone in. If one didn’t know better they’d think it was home to a king.
“Someone’s overcompensating.” Na’na snarks.
“That’s an understatement.” Tal piles on.
“Be nice.” Slash orders like a parent. “Hello?” he calls out. Despite the decadent exterior and matching interior, the Guild was devoid of people.
“Well if it isn’t my eternal rival!” a voice responds accompanied by metallic footsteps. A man with wild spiky ginger hair wearing a red breastplate with matching gauntlets and grieves over white pants jumps down from the second floor. He lands spectacularly then immediately trips forward in his failed attempt at standing up dramatically. The group remains silent as he stands up again and looks at them unfazed. “What do you think of my grand entrance?” his nose turned up high. “I call it the dynamic trick entrance. First I come in cool then make them think I’m off balance just in time to strike! I can tell you’re all jealous, the silence is a dead giveaway. It’s okay Slash, one day you’ll be as great as I am.”
“I really hope not…” Slash mutters lowly.
“I’d love to teach you some top-grade techniques but I must be going. Unlike some of you, I have a job to do.”
“Just give the word Slash and nobody will find the body.” Tal whispers.
“You had a job?” Slash asks ignoring Tal entirely.
“Of course I do! How else would I pay for all this?” Storm scoffs. “I’ve been personally requested to take out a Sevela Den.”
“And you’re going alone?! That’s suicide!” Slash exclaims. The Sevela was a notoriously dangerous species of massive snakes. Large enough to eat an elephant whole, there were few wild animals large enough or strong enough to survive an encounter with them. To take even one on alone was almost certainly a death sentence. To take on an entire Den would require several a full Guild of skilled warriors or several Guilds in their entirety. But the reward for completion meant being able to use their hides and fangs to make lightweight and sometimes even poisonous gear.
“Please, suicide for you maybe! But for me, it’ll be a cakewalk.” Storm boasts proudly.
“This isn’t a game Storm. You can’t go through with this.” Na’na warns him.
“This is a bad job. Nobody asks for a specific person unless it’s shady.” Tal begrudgingly notes.
“I know what this is. You’re just trying to get me to stop so you can steal this job from me! Well, no deal!” Storm snaps pushing his way past the group.
“Rude.” Tal leers at Storm resisting the urge to maim him.
“We aren’t trying to steal this from you Storm. We’re trying to save you.” Slash tries his best to convince their would-be rival.
“I think you should listen to your friends.” Jon finally speaks. “You can’t do this alone.”
“And you are?”
“Jon the Compassionate, the Sage of Water.”
“Never heard of you.” Storm dismisses Jon, walks to an armory, and grabs his personal white colored sword & shield with crimson highlights. “Now if you’ll all excuse me. I’ve a den to take down. You can all show yourselves out.”
“Jon, please do something.” Slash pleads.
“I didn’t want to do this but as one of the Seven Sages I demand you stay home.” he puts his fists on his hips and stands firm with chest out.
“Please, only children still believe in the Seven Sages.”
“-Now off with you!” Storm begins forcibly pushing the group out of his Guild.
“What do we do Slash? He’ll last…30 seconds and I’m being generous.” Na’na didn’t like or hate Storm in particular but she didn’t want him to die either.
“The harder we try to stop him the more he fights against us. We try to help he’d probably just yet at us and do something dumb.” Tal thinks aloud.
“What if we help him without him knowing we are?” Jon suggests.
“What do you mean?” Slash inquires.
“Well we have a suspiciously visible ninja, right? Why not follow him and if things get too dangerous Tal can swoop in all stealthy and save him.”
“Ooo, I like that idea. If he gets hurt Na’na and I can just heal him from a distance.’
“Does anybody want to ask my thoughts?” Tal interjects with ears hung low.
“It’s okay Tal. I’m sure you can do it.” Slash reassures him.
“Fine…just be ready to heal him when I mess up.” Tal sighs.
“You won’t mess up.” Na’na tries to reassure him.
“Of course I won’t.” Tal responds sarcastically.
Jon and the Eternals wait for Storm to leave before they begin to tail him. The unmarked path they look led out of Nanow and into the Mystic Jungles through thick foliage. Tal led the group to ensure they didn’t get caught unawares, Slash and Na’na were both ready with their healing and defensive spells, and Jon was ready with moral support. Having no offensive spells to his name it was the most he could do. The Sevela often lived in dens created in the depths of jungles or the sides of mountains. Due to their massive size, they required an equally large supply of food. Preying only on the largest of monsters. Though any hunter that got in their way and didn’t kill them would make quick snacks. If they were fortunate, the den would have only one or two Sevela present.
“Wait, I think he found it.” Tal signals the group to stop and hide. Now that Storm found a large den burrowed into the side of a hill came the hard part of their job.
“Okay Storm, you can do this.” Storm tries to psych himself up. He draws his sword and shield then takes a deep breath. “Just like you practiced.”
“Do we have a plan?” Tal asks.
“Make sure he doesn’t die.” Slash responds
“Is injury fine?”
“You got this.” Na’na cheers supportively.
“I’m rooting for ya.” Jon says with a thumbs up.
“Hate you all.” Tal sighs.
“Ninjas do their best work solo right?” Jon notes calmly. “I believe in you.”
“Can you at least pretend you’re gonna help?”
“We’re healers, we can’t help until after something bad happens.” Na’na shrugs to Tal’s annoyance moments before he disappears.
“Come on out you cold-blooded snake!” Storm taunts poorly. It seemingly works as the Sevela leaves its den moments after. Its head was large enough to block at the sun and the full length of its body remained hidden within the den. For all Storm knew it extended miles away. “Okay monster, you’re going to be felled by the mighty Storm the Red and my masterful techniques! I spent years creating it so don’t blink!” he boasts to a yawning Sevela that doesn’t even notice his presence. It had just woken up and was still contemplating what to hunt for the day. “Behold! Impes Stigma!” Despite all his many failings, Storm was, in fact, successful in creating a number of spells that only he knew. Impes Stigma was used to sheath his blade in fire hot enough to cut through stone like butter. He raises his now flaming sword aloft and prepares to swing. Unfortunately, the flames are too hot for him to handle properly. Storm attempts to perform a downward swing but the flames heat up his gauntlets and cause him to drop his sword behind him while tripping forward to avoid it.
Seeing his chance, Tal makes his move. “Kaminari Kyasuto!” he whispers to himself while performing the hand signs for Rin. Putting his hands together with fingers interlocked before raising his index fingers while pressing them together.
While spells required Aether, the Yagyu Clan and all their ninja specialized in the use of Ambience. Using spiritual power inherent to all living things and combinations with special hand signs. Together they allowed the user to call upon the Aether and perform ninjutsu. Regardless of whether they had a talent for it or not and being free of normal restrictions. Although they now had to use their own physical strength to perform this feat making it a more taxing skill. Kaminari Kyasuto called upon the aether to call down a barrage of lightning kunai that strikes the Sevela’s snout. While it’s reeling from the first attack he throws his boomerangs to further injure it. Annoyed and injured, the Sevela drags its massive body out of its den. Crushing anything in its path as it slithered off.
“I meant to do that.” Storm says to himself while getting back to his feet. He’s shocked to see the trail the Sevela left as it fled. “Ha! Poor thing must’ve been terrified!” Confident once more, Storm retrieves his sword and follows the Sevela.
“He is…something…” Jon tries to be nice in his observation.
“Let’s go, who knows what trouble he’ll get into next.” Slash sighs at the prospect of how many times they’ll need to save him.
Storm continues his search and finds the Sevela nursing its wounds under a large willow tree. “You thought you could get away from me huh? Well, try this on for size! Fulmen Stigma!” Another of his personal spells, Storm calls down a lightning bolt to strike his blade and empower it with electricity. Holding his blade skyward, he waits for the lightning that seems to strike a nearby tree instead. “Ahem, Fulmen Stigma!” he calls another lightning bolt that strikes the tree once more. For a second Storm thinks he hears a faint voice but thinks nothing of it. “Okay, one last time. FULMEN STIGMA!” once more he calls down a lightning bolt and once more it misses. The Sevela continues to remain oblivious to Storms presence through it all. “Guess I still need to practice that…” Storm thinks aloud. Little did he know his spell was successful, it just struck a metal target at a higher altitude. Unfortunately, this metal target was an unsuspecting Tal…
“Clarada.” Slash and Na’na both shine their healing spell on the somewhat burnt Tal.
“Why does lightning always hit me? I wasn’t even near him…” Tal whines.
“It’s okay, you were just trying to help.” Jon tries his best to contain his laughter. He felt bad Tal became a fuzzy lightning rod but he couldn’t help but find how bad Storm was at using his own original spells amusing.
“Just remember Tal, lightning doesn’t strike the same place two dozen times.” Na’na tries to reassure him while still chuckling to herself.
“That’s not how it goes…” he whimpers. “Can we do something different this time?”
“Okay okay, I’ll take it from here.” Jon says before walking towards the Sevela out of Storm’s line of sight. He walks alongside the opposite side of its body until he gets 20 feet from its head. “This must hurt a lot. I’m sorry you’re feeling so much pain right now.” Jon rubs his hand gently along the Sevela’s body. It’s cold wet scales felt smooth to the touch. It turns its head to look at Jon with its massive emerald eyes. “My friend probably won’t stop until he kills you or you kill him…or he kills Tal unintentionally…but I don’t want any of those to happen. Would you mind helping me with that?” the Sevela hisses lowly while maintaining its focus on Jon. “Thank you so much. I know it’s not really your time but do you think you could shed for me? I’m sure he won’t notice a difference. I just ask that if you do this to not attack the nearby villagers. You do that and they’ll just come after you again. I’m sure there are better food alternatives for you out there. The Sevela seems to understand and starts to slither away. Shedding its skin along the way. “Thank you, my friend.” Jon thanks the Sevela before going to hide.
“I got it! Gelus Stigma!” Storm casts his next spell and summons a frost mist around his sword. “En garde foul beast!” he swings his frozen sword at the shed skin, freezing and shattering it all in a single motion. His face stunned in disbelief. “That…was amazing! I really am as good as I say I am!” he laughs to himself proudly. Never realizing he defeated a lifeless shedding.
The Eternals let out a sigh of relief at Jon being able to defuse the situation without anyone dying. “Couldn’t he have done that sooner?” Tal asks through tearful eyes.
“Probably, but that’s not really how he does things. We’ll make it up to you.” Slash promises before taking Tal and Na’na back to their guild. Trusting Jon wouldn’t get lost along the way.
“I better get some proof so I can get paid.” Storm thinks to himself before cutting a portion of the unfrozen shed skin off. “That should be enough.” Pride wells up inside of him, leaving him unaware to the second Sevela that now prepared to eat him whole. While everyone was so focused on the first nobody realized the second was there and coming from the opposite direction. “Hmm?” Storm stops his admiration when he notices it suddenly becoming darker followed immediately by a bright blue glow. He slowly turns around and sees the second Sevela leering at him with only Jon standing between them. His body glowing with Aether.
“Man…Why couldn’t you be like the other Sevela?” Jon sighs. “So much hate and anger in you…I’m not sure there’s anything even I could do to ease you.” he takes a step forward and rubs his hand on its snout before resting his forehead on it. “All will be well.” he whispers as he tries to purify its tainted Aether. But the act causes the Sevela to pull its head back violently and slither off at full speed. Tearing down numerous trees in the process. “Damnit, I hope I did enough.” Jon worries at the damage an enraged Sevela could do. With it moving at that speed, there’s nothing he could do to catch up to it.
“What did you just do?” Storm asks confused at what transpired. He wondered what one of the Eternals allies was doing out here but was more focused on how he stopped the Sevela.
Jon thinks briefly about what story to tell Storm. “I was worried so I followed you. I was super impressed when I saw you take out that Sevela. But when the second came I had to step in.” he stretches the truth; omitting Slash, Na’na, and Tal’s involvement and letting Storm keep his win.
“You saved me didn’t you?” Storm asks directly with face tense and focused.
“I did.” Jon replies adjusting his glasses. “It’s my job and I couldn’t let either of you die or let that Sevela just stay corrupted.”
“Purifying Aether…I’ve never heard of that being done before…Hell, I haven’t even seen anyone glowing with Aether like that before…You’re really a Sage aren’t you?”
“Yeah, but it’s nothing special really. Just doing what I can.” Jon smiles leaving Storm behind so he can catch up to the others.
Later that day, Jon catches up to the group who were wholly unaware of the second Sevela’s attack. They assumed he was just distracted and paid no special attention to him as the return to the guild successfully. The moment they open the door they’re warmly greeted by Cilia who sat waiting at the front desk with Tella. Sho stood looking at the job board trying to feign toughness and mask her concern for them.
“You’re alive!” Cilia exclaims gleefully.
“How’d everything go?” Sho asks.
“I got struck by lightning three times.” Tal complains.
“Buuuuuut we healed him.” Slash interjects.
“You really aren’t good with lightning Tal…” Cilia exhales.
“I know that…How come none of you guys get struck by lightning?”
“Maybe you’re just the most flammable.” Na’na suggests causing Tal to disappear in a puff of smoke. “Oh, Tal I was joking! He can be so sensitive sometimes.”
“I’ll go talk to him later. Sounds like it was a rough time.” Cilia attempts to get the conversation back on track.
“It could’ve gone a lot worse. Storm didn’t listen to us so we decided to follow him and help from the sidelines. Then Tal kept getting struck by lightning…But thanks to Jon we were able to save the day. Poor guy thinks he killed a Sevela but it was just it’s shed skin.” Slash tries his best not to laugh at Storm.
Cilia’s ears raise in shock. “Really? Maybe we should use that trick.”
“I feel bad though, I don’t think it really wanted to shed its skin like that. Hope it’ll be fine.” Jon worries.
“I’m sure it will be.” Slash pats Jon on the shoulder.
“We should celebrate.” Cilia excitedly suggests while clapping. “For saving Storm and getting to see your brother again and for the rest of us meeting him.”
“YES! NOW! Where’s Tal?! He’s our party guy!” Slash stammers as he races around the room to find Tal.
“Wait I thought he was just the ninja and decorator.” Jon says somewhat confused.
“He also caters our parties as a chef. He does a lot but he should probably focus on just one thing at a time more.” Sho says as she sits down and crosses her legs only to have to stand up seconds later to answer the rampant knocking at the door. Knocking coming from an impatient Storm the Red. “Came to gloat about your glorious victory?” she snarks.
“No, I’ll do that another time. But right now I’m here for the Sage.” Storms says in a surprisingly serious tone.
“Hello again.” Jon casually waves.
“You left before I could say something earlier.” Storm walks past Sho and kneels before Jon with his right arm across his chest. “Thank you for saving my life. I am eternally indebted to you.”
“It’s nothing really.” Jon rubs the back of his head trying not to smile. “Also stop bowing please. I don’t like bowing.”
“As you wish my Sage. I also have good news for you.” Storm stands with a smug smile plastered on his face.
“Oh, Elementals…” Sho exhales under her breath.
“Until I can finally repay my debt to you for saving my life I shall be by your side. That’s right! you get the boundless skills of Storm the Red!” his declaration silences the room. “Clearly you are too awestruck to respond. It’s okay, not many get such an offer.”
“You can’t be-” Sho gets ready to unload but is interrupted by Jon.
“Awesome!” Jon grins widely.
“Seriously?” Sho blurts out.
“What? I spend most of my time either alone or with Tella. He’ll at least give me someone to talk to who can respond…more or less.”
“You do not sound sure of yourself.”
“I’m sure it’ll go well.”
“I sincerely doubt that.”
“You won’t regret this Jon.” Storm gives a thumbs up and a wink that makes Sho cringe. Her fur and hair standing on end.
“Sure you want to just leave your Guild behind to go on an adventure?” Sho forces herself to ask. She didn’t want to deal with Storm but at least she’d spare Jon spending every waking moment with him.
“They’ll be fine without me. I’m leaving my finest member in charge. She knows what to do and will lead it proudly in my place.”
“Can’t be any worse than when you led it.” Sho scoffs under her breath.
“Did you say something?” Storm asks.
“Not a thing your majesty.”
“If Storm isn’t going to leave my side then would it be okay if he joined us in the party? Call it a celebration of a job well done, seeing family again, and making new friends.”
“You’re just full of positivity aren’t you?”
“They don’t call me the Compassionate for nothing.”
“That doesn’t…Whatever…” Sho gives up with a sigh.
That night the Eternals gather for their celebration. Food, dancing, and drinking raged through the night. Everyone let loose in a way even pirates would be jealous of. There was no shortage of energy in the air and Jon actively drew them through it all. That is until he slipped away to step out and sit by the campfire outside. He looks at the stars through the treetops before getting up and taking a walk. To the west of Nanow was a small lake often used for swimming and fishing. Even before discovering he was the Sage of Water, watching the waves always helped him relax. Jon sat at the edge of the lake and just watched the ripples across the surface as fish swam by. Part of him wanted to leave before anyone realized it but another kept him here. Taking a deep breath he returns to the mansion and attempts to sleep. The next day with Tella and Storm by his side, they make way for their next destination.