A very old project, maybe ready to finally progress

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A very old project, maybe ready to finally progress

    • As promised, here is the beginning of a story I began to write years ago. I recently recovered this from a mostly broken down external drive I had lying around. I originally wrote more, but I think that version is on an old laptop somewhere. Hopefully I can retrieve it. However, for now this will suffice. Please give me your thoughts, any tips or criticism is most welcome as I would like to flesh this world out more and maybe one day send it in for publishing when it moves beyond just a beginning.

      Imagine, if you will, a kingdom without king. Imagine now that this kingdom relies on crystals for nearly everything. These are no ordinary crystals, but hold certain qualities. For instance, there are crystals that create fire, and there are crystals that create water. Now try to imagine that not one citizen in this kingdom can remember how these crystals are made, or where they came from. Imagine that not one citizen in this kingdom cares where they came from, as long as they work. It is in such a kingdom that our story begins…

      Chapter one: A red night
      It was already late when Jeral Setrus went inside for the day. He had gotten a lot of work done on the farm, so he was reasonably pleased with himself. Humming slightly, he took the kettle from the shelf, and set it down beside the crystal holder. He then opened the old cupboard beneath the sink and began rummaging for the battered pot containing his favorite dried tea leaves. After a while he emerged, carrying to the table the pot, and the little stone box in which he kept his fire crystal. It was warm, even now. He filled the kettle with water from the water crystal over the sink, put in some of the dried leaves, picked up a little pair of thongs and made his way back to the table. There, he opened the stone box carefully, so as to not burn himself. The crystal inside was always producing a flame, but recently the flame had been growing smaller. This worried Jeral. If the crystal was wearing out, he would have to go buy a new one, and fire crystals were quite expensive. More expensive than he could afford, in fact. He shook his head wearily. He was worrying himself too much. If the crystal wore out, he would deal with it, like he always had dealt with things. He would probably have to make his sons help out more on the farm to get the extra coins, but he would manage. Slightly cheered up by this fact, he took the fire crystal out of its box with the small thongs, placed it on the holder, and hung the kettle above it.
      Outside in the field, Jaesen was lying on his back, relaxing in the warm august air. A small boy for his age, he was nevertheless handsome with his dark brown eyes and hair, both of which he had gotten from his mother, who had died a few years ago. He was looking out to the south where one of the great crystal towers stood. The tower was glowing faintly green in the night sky, as it always did. He had often wondered why these towers stood there in the first place. Once, about a year or two ago, he had asked a passing patrol of the crystal knights, who were the protectors of the kingdom. The knights had simply said the towers stood to protect the kingdom. When Jaesen asked what the kingdom needed protection from, he was answered only by silence. This had led him to think that either the knights had forgotten, or they were trying to keep it secret. He was inclined to believe the first explanation. The knights didn’t patrol very often in this area, so Jaesen had almost forgotten about this question. He was reminded of it now, because he could see a patrol approaching from the west. They would pass by their farm, as they always had, without causing or seeing any problems. Not really interested in more unanswered questions, Jaesen got up and walked back to the house.
      Inside the house, Jeral was just putting the fire crystal back into its stone box when Jendo came down the stairs. Like his brother, Jendo was rather small, and had dark brown eyes, but where his brother’s hairs were brown, his were blond. When he noticed the tea Jeral had just poured out, a grin appeared on his face. “Celebrating, are we?” he said. “No, just relaxing after a good day’s work”, Jeral replied, sipping his tea. “Don’t mind if I join in then” said Jendo, pouring himself a cup, and sitting down at the table with his father. Jeral raised an eyebrow, but said nothing of it. Both of his sons were getting more independant by the day, but he realized it would be necessary if they wanted to carry on living on the farm when he wasn’t around anymore. Saying nothing, he just continued to sip his tea.
      Outside, Jaesen was on his way back to the farmhouse. It had seen better days, he noticed. The hay on the roof would need to be replaced soon. Nevertheless, it was home, and he was happy to see it. He was looking forward to a warm meal and a warm bed. He looked to the west. The patrol had almost reached their farm, but as usual, they would pass by without a problem. There had never been anything to upset the knights on their farm, and there never would be. Or would there? Something was wrong with the night. The air seemed to be crackling with a far-off charge of some sort. There was a sound like a high-pitched whistle. The knights seemed to have noticed it as well. They were moving towards the farm at a faster pace than usual, nearly running now. They were shouting as well, but they were too far-off for Jaesen to understand any of it.
      Inside the house, Jeral and Jendo had been sitting at the table, sipping their tea when they, too heard the shouting outside. Jeral looked at Jendo and asked “Has your brother gone upstairs yet?”. “No, I think he’s still outside.” Jendo replied. Jeral hesitated for the slightest of moments, and then got to his feet with a speed uncanny for his age. He quickly strode to the door and, when he noticed Jendo still sitting at the table, said “Well come on then, your brother could be in trouble out there!”. Jendo did not need telling twice, and quickly followed his father through the door.
      Captain Vargas of the crystal knights was worried. Very worried. He had felt this sensation before, but only once. In the great dungeons beneath the crystal vaults, that only the ranking officers know about. Yet it was somehow different, sharper in a way. He did not trust this sensation, which is why he had ordered his men to make haste towards the farm they could see towards the east, to make sure they, and the people on the farm sought shelter this night. He hoped the precaution would prove unnecessary. He knew what produced such a sensation. And he had seen what it had held back in those dungeons. He grasped the handle of his sword, but did not pull it out. He did not want to alarm the farmers more than needed. And that was quite a bit already. He took his hand off his sword, and gave the gesture commanding his men to move faster, despite the fact that he had already given it twice.
      Outside the farm, Jeral and Jendo had just joined Jaesen, and all three of them were now looking westwards at the approaching patrol. There was no doubt about it now, they were running. They were also shouting. Jeral started to step towards them. “Come,” he said, “let’s find out what all this fuss is about.” Jendo immediately followed his father, but Jaesen only did so reluctantly, and stayed behind Jendo. He did not like the idea of moving towards trouble, and when the knights were shouting at them, it definitely meant trouble. He could feel it.
      Vargas swore loudly. Had they not been shouting to get inside? Had they not sensed that something was wrong with the night? Why would they come to meet him? His throat was hoarse from shouting, his legs tired of running, yet he kept on going. He was growing afraid now. Afraid of what he knew might be happening, though he hoped in the bottom of his heart it would not. It had not happened for a thousand years, so why would it happen now? He cast a glance towards the southern tower, and doubled his speed. Its light was growing dimmer.

      Jaesen was slowing his pace, although he didn’t know why. There was now a wide gap between him and his father and brother, who were still hurrying towards the knights. Something was definitely wrong now. The crackling he had heard earlier seemed louder now, and the whistling sound was growing louder. He looked southwards towards the tower, and froze. Its glow had gone out, and he could feel… something. Something building up behind the tower. It didn’t make sense, nothing, living or inert could pass through the barriers between the towers. Those few that tried came back with severe burns. Suddenly, the whistling grew louder, and higher in pitch, and Jaesen could no longer tell where it came from. It was everywhere and nowhere. He could feel it inside his skull, like a drill pressing outwards from millions of points inside his head. He fell to the floor, holding his head, which felt like it was about to crack open. Just as he thought he could no longer endure the sound, it stopped. But that was not the end of it. Jaesen was still looking at the tower, which now glowed brightly red. Brighter and brighter it got, until, with an ear-splitting crack, it shattered.

    • Vargas fell to his knees. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Red chunks of crystal were falling to the ground all around them, as if the skies themselves were weeping tears of crimson blood at what was happening. The towers had stood strong for thousands of years, symbols of safety and peace. Now one of the mighty ones, one of the Elaan had fallen. It just couldn’t be so.  He cast a fearful eye to the barrier. If that went… But it didn’t. Curiously, even without the tower, the barrier stayed in place. It… rippled, however, as if aftershocks of the event were still pulsing through the energy field. Suddenly, exactly at the point where the tower had collapsed, the field bulged inwards. Further and further it went until a bubble of the unknown energy detached itself from the main field. It drifted lazily towards the ground between the farmers and his troops. It touched the ground, and burst open with the force of a thunderclap, throwing all around off their feet. In its centre stood a creature, exactly like the ones he had seen in the Dungeons. It was as he feared. They had returned.

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