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#1 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 04:19 AM

This story is basically my answer to Kishimoto's and Naruto's failures and my attempt to sort of "re-do" the NaruSaku pairing. The store can be found on Wattpad.com under my profile name: D.T.Reutlinger, but I would also like to upload some chapters on here from time to time, assuming it's okay with the admins. 

 

I would appreciate your thoughts on the story if you have any and am open to discussing ideas. Just PM me if you're interested in talking. Anyway, without further adieu, let's get started.

 

Chapter 1 

 

 

POOF!

 

White smoke flooded from a young boy's room and through the house like a thick blinding fog. Coughing and wheezing, the young boy quickly ran for the nearest window and ripped the flaps down from off the walls, giving the smoke an easy exit from the house. The smoke drifted over the boy's head as he leaned on the window sill to catch his breath that dissipated in the night sky above. Within minutes the smoke had cleared from his room, but it still lingered throughout the rest of the house since there was nowhere for it to escape from. He took in a deep breath and rushed around the house to open as many exits as he could in an effort to get the rest of the smoke out. With every door and window opened, the smoke poured out from the house with ease and disappeared into the night sky. Once it had cleared out, he sighed in relief but was not entirely out of the woods yet. The entire house had been blanketed in a white powdery substance that resembled flour. Seeing the mess he had created, he hung his head, realizing he had really overdone it this time.

 

"Oh, man. She's gonna kill me this time..." He thought anxiously.

 

Practically on queue, as he finished his thoughts, a raging female voice called out from one of the rooms at the far end of the house, "Floris! What in the name of the divines are you doing young man?!"

 

Floris' eyes went wide and he sprinted as fast as he could out of the house and ran behind some trees not far from the house.

 

The woman's voice grew more fierce and it was obvious she had already seen the condition the house was in, "Floris Fetcher!!! What in the name of Saint Alessia did you do to the house?! What is all this white stuff?! Don't tell me another experiment failed, Floris! This is the fifth time this week! The fifth time this week! What in the world is the matter with you?!"

 

Her voice grew more and more fierce by the second and Floris knew it was going to take some clever thinking to get out of this one. But to make matters even worse, her screaming was bound to wake the entire village sooner or later, which would only lead to more problems.

Going against his better judgment, he decided to walk back into the house and meet with the woman he called his grandmother.

 

"So, there you are, young man! What was it this time?! I heard a "poof" come from your room and I woke up to find my house a winter wonderland. Was it a potion that went bad, or is this another one of your and Alvis' pranks?" Ajenna asked.

Ajenna was a short elderly woman with green eyes and long white hair that was somewhere in her late sixties and as far as Floris knew, the only family he had left.

 

"Well? Care to explain yourself?" Ajenna asked, growing a little more impatient.

 

Floris took a few seconds to think of an answer, then responded, "It was, in fact, another potion that blew up in smoke...literally this time. I'm working on my most difficult project yet and it's proving to be far more difficult than I originally anticipated."

 

Ajenna raised an eyebrow in suspicion, "But you've never had this kind of trouble in the past. What kind of potion are you trying to make that's proving to be so difficult?"

 

Floris hung his head as he sighed, then looked at his grandmother again, "I wanted this to be a surprise for the village, but if you recall the potions I made a few years back that enhance your immunity to the swamp spores...this potion is supposed to be an improvement to that. If I can pull this off, our immunity to the swamp will reach a record high of approximately sixty percent or so, and maybe even an extended life period of a few years, too."

 

"Sixty percent? That's exciting, Floris. But what seems to be the problem?" Ajenna asked.

 

"Well, for one, lack of resources. My stock has been mostly depleted because of this potion. I'm going to have to journey outside when the sun comes up to gather more supplies. I may have to go back to Arrowhead Loch to search for some of the more...interesting stuff." Floris said.

 

"Arrowhead Loch? That's two days away from here and it's dangerous this time of year. The frogs will be coming out in droves and you know how poisonous they are!" Ajenna exclaimed.

 

Floris rolled his eyes before responding, "Yes, I'm aware. I've lost count of how many times I've been infected with their venom. But it's my job as the village healer and an alchemist."

 

"And what about the Slithering Tree Serpents? Haven't their numbers been increasing lately?" Ajenna asked.

 

Floris nodded, "Yes, but they're not what I'm mostly worried about. The real threats are the Swamp Eagles. They usually stay above the canopy, but Alvis and I saw one roosted not far from the village a few days ago. It looked wounded, but we weren't taking any chances with it."

 

Ajenna stared at her grandson with a hint of shock in her eyes, "A Swamp Eagle? This close to the village? What if it heals and attacks us?"

 

"I hope it doesn't get the chance. I'm working on a poison that I believe should be powerful enough to take it down with one arrow. I've never caught a Swamp Eagle before, so I have no idea how their bodies work. But the Rainbow Snake in my room has some of the deadliest venom in the swamp. I've been milking the venom from it for a while and I'm fairly pleased with

the results I've gotten thus far. They're literally nicknamed the "one step snake", so I'm hoping its venom is enough to take the bird down for the count."

 

"And what happens if the poison has no effect?" Ajenna asked.

 

"We all die," Floris answered simply and without emotion.

 

"Well, that's reassuring," Ajenna said as she rolled her eyes. "In any case, how about you help me get this mess cleaned up before you head out on your quest?"


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:06 AM.


#2 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:07 AM

Chapter 2

 

Floris made his way back to his room after helping his grandmother clean the house from his failed experiment. He was mentally exhausted. The potion he'd been researching had taken its toll on both his patience and his collection of resources. All of his useful herbs had been used up in the failed experiments, including his chest of reserves, leaving him with only the scraps of the less useful ingredients he didn't really know why he kept around.

 

"Just keep trying. You're getting closer. It can't be much longer now..." He thought as he stepped inside his room.

Floris' room was the largest room in the house. It needed to be in order for him to house and store all of his resources and test subjects. In the corner to the left of the doorway was his bed, which was little more than wooden planks, some straw to use as cushioning, and a wolf fur he used as a blanket. To the right of his bed were several hooks on the wall and a chest he used to store his clothing and armor. He kept his personal belongings somewhat out of the way from the rest of his stuff.

 

While his room was definitely the largest, it was also the most cluttered. Most of the other rooms were relatively empty, but Floris' room was an alchemist's dream room. Along the far wall, he had chests lined up, each one containing a specific set of herbs and other resources; he had them color coated so he didn't get them mixed up. Chests made of a lighter colored wood were where he stored herbs with healing or medicinal uses. Plants such as Aloe Vera or Lavender were stored in these chests. Darker colored chests were where he stored dangerous plants such as Nightshade and other plants he used to make poisons. However, he also had chests on a shelf above the others where he stored other alchemical ingredients ranging from wolf teeth, bird beaks, insects, internal organs, skins, and other unmentionables. Any animal he hunted or killed was put to good use. Nothing was ever wasted and even the bones of certain animals were often used in his experiments.

 

In the center of the room was a large table where mountains of journals of varying thickness were piled on top of one another. Papers lay scattered all over the table, with several of them being nailed to the table. Chests of varying sizes surrounded the table, each one completely stacked of journals and books he had used in the past. Each and every journal had the ingredients used of every potion Floris had ever made. The journals were color coated as to what types of potions or poisons were made, while other journals were used to keep track of failed experiments, or had notes on how his swamp rats reacted to certain potions or poisons he used on them. A journal didn't last very long for Floris. As the village healer, he was always experimenting with new plant combinations and how his rats reacted to what he had created. A journal would rarely last longer than a month, which was why he stocked up on them when the trade wagon came along once every four to five months.

 

Along the final wall was where Floris did most of his experiments and housed his captured animals. He had built a desk that runs all along the wall and holds his alchemical tools and the cages to his rats, snakes, frogs, and his collection of insects. His swamp rats were his most prized of his animal collection. Swamp rats were a rare species of rat that were highly intelligent and functioned similarly to humans. However, because of their high intellect, they were next to impossible to catch unless one knew how to trap them. But the trap would only work one time since the rats never fall for the same trick twice. To spare himself the trouble of having to deal with that in the future, Floris bred the rats and used the older or the sick rats as the unfortunate victims of his experiments. Sometimes a rat would survive what it was used for, but they were usually fed to the snakes he housed.

 

Floris had a collection of four highly dangerous, extremely aggressive, and very poisonous snakes. Each one collected for alchemical research. The Rainbow Snake was the second most venomous snake in his possession, but also the most unique and beautiful. The venom he milked from this snake usually went into his poisons. He had tested the poison on numerous animals when hunting and it had proven strong enough to take down a Swamp Boar with just a single arrow. However, the poison made from the snake could only be used for killing since the venom infected the meat. The most venomous snake Floris had was an infant Slithering Tree Serpent. These snakes were rare but never stopped growing. Males of this species were known to reach one-hundred feet in length and big enough to swallow a deer in one bite. They were as dangerous as they were rare, but they had extremely long life spans. By the time the one Floris has is a full adult, Floris and the villagers would be long gone into the next life. Poisons made from this snake were strictly meant for killing, but it was very uncommon for Floris to milk this particular snake. More than anything, he had collected it just to keep it from harming any of the villagers. Cures for this snake's venom were hard to make and the herbs needed were not only rare, but they were aggressive also. Some spewed highly toxic fumes or spores into the air, others were overgrown death traps similar to a Venus Flytrap that had grown so big, they needed animals larger than insects. The largest of these plants being able to swallow a deer whole.

 

Above the desk were papers nailed all over the wall. Notes ranging from ideas for future experiments to traps for other animals, as well as notes written down for the more successful potions or poisons, or quick reminders of potions he commonly made for illnesses or contacts with animals the villagers might have had. Every inch of space in his room was used for some sort of medicinal or scientific purpose.

Even though Floris was still relatively young, he was the only one in the village who knew how to read or write. His mentor, the former village healer, taught Floris most of what he knew before his passing six years ago. Since then, Floris has taken his mentor's unfinished experiments and perfected them by also adding in his own little touch on each experiment. While Floris learned a lot from his former mentor, his mentor knew that his time was short and focused on teaching Floris safer ways of conducting alchemical experiments and giving him all his journals to read over. Floris has since advanced far beyond what his former teacher was like and the villagers call him the best alchemist in the history of the swamp.

 

With his work done for the day and still a few hours of darkness before the sun came up, Floris wrote down the herbs and ingredients used for the last potion in his open journal, then collapsed face first on his bed and let sleep take him.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:09 AM.


#3 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:10 AM

Chapter 3

 

The first cracks of dawn had come, waking Floris from his nap as the sunlight shined in his eyes. He slowly blinked his eyes open and stretched his arms and legs as he yawned exhaustedly. Part of him wanted to stay in bed after being up so late the previous night, but that wasn't an option. Not only was he low on alchemical supplies, but the village was also running low on food. The place he was going,

Arrowhead Loch, was a good hunting place since herds of deer often roamed around there. However, it was also one of the more dangerous places that he knew of in the swamp. Animals there ranged from harmless deer to poisonous frogs, Swamp Lizards, Rainbow Snakes, 

Swamp Boars, and other aggressive animals. He preferred going alone since he only had himself to worry about, but there are times it pays to have an extra set of eyes and some stronger senses.

 

He climbed out of bed and opened the chest next to his bed. Inside, he collected his leather armor. His boots and grieves were made from Swamp Lizard hide, which was a valuable skin that was thick enough it would block snake bites. Snakes who bit at his legs often broke their fangs because of the thick natural armor Swamp Lizard skin provided. His torso and chest armor was made out of Swamp Boar hide. It was lighter than the lizard skin, but it still offered enough protection from insects or snakes in the trees. Boar hide was thick enough to stop fangs from piercing Floris' skin and had proven invaluable a number of times. His gauntlets were also made from boar hide but of a lighter density. He needed his fingers to be able to move freely while harvesting herbs in the swamp and having bulky gloves made his job more difficult than it needed to be. He wore a thin layer of skin over his underarms but left a thick layer of leather over the tops of his arms. This offered minimal protection, but if something were to bite him, they'd only get to his lower arms. Finally, for his headgear, he wore a dark brown hooded cloak with a scarf wrapped around his face. Many plants in the swamp released highly toxic and deadly fumes or gasses into the air. The scarf helped prevent him from breathing in these fumes and the big glasses he wore protected his eyes from snakes spitting venom at him, or plants shooting shrapnel at him. Some plants would spit thorns or needles at whatever came to close and if one were not cautious enough, they could easily take out an eye.

 

With his armor on, Floris started going through his utilities. He wore a number of belts around his waist and shoulders, each one having numerous slots for him to slip potions or poisons into. The belts going over his shoulders contained medicinal potions in the event he got hurt somehow, while the belt going around his waist carried poisons he could put on his arrows. On both hips, he kept a large pouch where he stored any spare potions he may need. On his back, he carried a large backpack where he housed any rodents he might have caught for either experimentation or feeding his snakes. He also wore a quiver that held fifty arrows horizontally below his backpack. Arrows were made by the village's Fletcher while his wife made most of the bows. Arrows took time and patience to make, but only Floris and one other person from the village were permitted to hunt. Most of the villagers were elders in the twilight years of their lives. The only more middle-aged people were Floris' parents who left shortly after his birth. His Grandmother would tell him stories about his parents from time to time, but he had no recollection of them. Villagers would sometimes ask if he had any desire to meet them, but Floris would only shake his head.

Most people in a position like Floris would probably relish at the thought of seeing their parents for the first time. But the truth of the matter was he stopped caring a long time ago. The stories he had been told about them never added up. One day, they were sent to fight in the wars far to the south. The next, it was something else. But there was one thing that was a given: they weren't coming back, and the chances of Floris ever meeting them were slim to none. He simply didn't have the time to wonder if he'd ever meet them and constantly had to keep his mind on his tasks at hand.

 

With his gear collected, his bow slipped over his shoulder, his scarf covering his face, and his hood covering his eyes, Floris double checked his supplies and grabbed a long wooden spear he used as his walking stick. Spears were useful for attacking or defending from range and this was one Floris made himself. The wood he used was strong and sturdy, but he used sharpened stones as the tip, making it the most lethal spear in the village. It was eight feet in length, yet was fairly light in weight, making it easy to carry around or fight with.

 

Once he was sure he had everything he needed, he made his way for the door and stepped into the outside world.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:12 AM.


#4 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:13 AM

Chapter 4

 

The day was young, and the sun was low. The air, for the moment, was calm with a cool morning breeze. The scent of the damp vegetation filled the air and birds chirped and sang from the trees. Spring was coming to an end and Summer was on its way. This ultimately meant nothing to the villagers since they lived in a swamp, but the nights were getting shorter and the days were getting longer, meaning Floris now had more daylight to collect the herbs and other ingredients he needed for his potion-making. Arrowhead Loch was a two-day journey for most, but Floris knew the swamp like he knew the back of his hand. From every tree to every bush to every hole in the ground, Floris knew the swamp and could navigate it with his eyes closed. It wasn't uncommon for him to spend multiple days on his own in the swamp when he was searching for supplies or animals and would often only return when he had what he needed. Occasionally, the village would send out a search party to look for him if something happened while he was away, but most villagers had learned to be extra cautious in what they were doing when he was gone.

 

Floris took a look around and took a deep breath of the fresh morning air. Tall ancient trees with thick overlapping roots and twisting branches surrounded the village, making it one of the most isolated places. Among the many twisting roots and branches of the trees were deep puddles and tall grass where the swamp's wildlife thrived. The lower parts of the trees were covered in moss and twisting vines hung from every branch, making it extremely difficult to navigate through the swamp. There was only one path that led into the village. It was overgrown, but the villagers tried to maintain a clear way for the trade wagon to come to the village every so often, bringing the supplies they needed from the outside world, which remained a mystery to Floris and the only other child in the village. Neither of them had ever managed to make it far enough away from the village to see some other form of civilization. In some ways, they were scared of leaving the swamp because it was all they knew. It was the only home they had ever known and leaving it behind was a thought that terrified them both. However, they couldn't help but be curious from time to time to see what other villages were like. The trader would sometimes tell them what the outside world was like. Villages and roads made of stone rather than mud, straw, and wood, and settlements far larger than anything they could imagine. It was certainly exciting to think about, but what they saw in their imaginations was probably all they would ever see of what else was truly out there.

 

Aside from telling the two boys what the outside world was like, the trader would also bring news and political updates. Politics ultimately meant next to nothing to the village, and it wasn't until a few years ago Floris even knew the name of the country or province he lived in or that he even lived in a kingdom. He didn't understand politics, but the way he saw it, he didn't need to. The swamp was very unforgiving to outsiders, and only people who were born in the swamp have a chance of living in it. As far as he knew, the king's rule meant nothing here and no army would be able to advance far enough from the outside to reach the village. When he did find the time to ponder about the political world and the possibility of neighboring factions or countries going to war, he never found any reason as to how or why the armies would advance through the swamp and just assumed the swamp was more of a natural border defense rather than an actual land grab, which the trader would tell him he wasn't far from the truth.

 

As for the village itself, it was widely spread out. A house or cabin here, another over there and some further away. Some small, others...somewhat larger. Houses or huts were made out of dried straw or grass, mud, sticks and the occasional animal fur. Some houses were decorated with animal bones that would later be used for making tools or given to Floris for his medicinal studies. There were branching dirt paths carved into the ground from the villagers going about their daily business, leading to every house with the main path connecting them all. The grass surrounding the paths, however, was tall and thick, and could easily hide a lethal predator, which the swamp had more than its fair share of. The village held nineteen villagers, and with the exception of Floris and one other, they were all in their elder years. With each passing year, the village would lose one or two villagers to natural causes alone, but animal attacks, sickness, and disease took its toll on the people over time. The thought of what the future held terrified Floris. Eventually, in time, it would only be him and his friend left. What would they do then? Would they seek out another village as a home? Or try and explore the outside world? There were no younger girls or women in the village, so staying was not an option. What the future held was a mystery, but he couldn't afford to dwell on the subject. His mind had to stay in the present, so he could focus on his task at hand.

 

Not wanting to waste any more time, Floris started the first steps of his quest and made his way to the main path that led out of the village and over a rickety, old and decaying wooden bridge that crossed over the twin creeks that gave the village its name. Further upstream was a large boulder that cut the original stream into the two creeks that go underneath the bridge. Where the creeks joined again, Floris did not know. Neither he nor any of the villagers had ever gone far enough to see where it led. There was one place, in particular, that was forbidden for anyone in the village to go. An ancient graveyard that predates the village by many hundreds of years lies in the direction the creek flows. All the vegetation around it died off long ago, and the grounds around the tombstones were scorched to pitch blackness. Villagers who went to investigate in the past never returned, hence the reason for it being forbidden. No one knew how or why it exists, or who was buried there, but there was something unnatural about the place that even made Floris' blood run cold with fear. There were many places of strange origin deep in the swamp, but none as terrifying as the graveyard.

 

Within moments of stepping off the overgrown path, the village disappeared behind the thick vegetation and twisting tree branches. There was a path Floris preferred to take to Arrowhead Loch and it was one he had used for many years. Plants and herbs useful for his alchemical experiments grew conveniently thick along this path. Plants such as Lavender, Lady's Mantel and Aloe Vera among other plants grew in abundance along the path for some reason. Floris never bothered to question why, he was just thankful for little miracles like this since they often saved him a bunch of time. Sometimes the roots of these plants would prove useful, but Floris never dug up the roots of these since they were in such abundance he'd be destroying a place where precious resources grew in vast quantities.

With his work cut out for him, he didn't waste any time in collecting the herbs he needed.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:19 AM.


#5 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:20 AM

Chapter 5

 

Arrowhead Loch, a large clearing from the tall ancient trees and twisting roots, was Floris' most common hunting ground for animals and alchemical substances alike. Arrowhead Loch was one place where nature truly flourished and was considered very sacred to the villagers. Herbs of all kinds grew in massive amounts here, and the place was teeming with wildlife. Squirrels and chipmunks scampered all along the ground, trees and tree branches. Birds sang and chirped from their nests, and the never-ending splashing of fish leaping out of the water to catch their fill of the many thousands of insects that hovered over the water. Frogs croaked from the Lilly Pads, herds of deer drank from the water on the far shore, though the keen-eyed among them had already spotted Floris and were watching his every move while the rest of the herd grazed on the lush green grass. Swamp Boars were a common sight, too, but none had shown up today. Even though he lived in one of the most secluded areas in the world, Floris felt at peace here.

 

The water of Arrowhead Loch came from a stream from deep within the swamp. Floris had followed it in the past but was never able to find out where the stream actually came from. The Loch was already a two-day journey from the village, and he didn't like having to be gone longer than what was necessary. Maybe one day he'd find out where the stream came from, but not in any near future. The waters stretched for nearly a half-mile, and the shores had been carved to look like an arrow's head, hence the name. Along the shores, hidden in the tall grass, however, were many thousands of sharp rocks that would prove to be quite lethal if used as actual arrowheads.

 

While the Loch was indeed very beautiful, Floris couldn't afford to let his guard down for even a split second. Animals here, even many of the frogs, were highly poisonous. He knew cures to most of the poisons from these animals, but some of the frogs had poison he still had to come up with a cure for. The tall grass also made for a very good hiding place for snakes, and many of the insects would defend their hives to the death if Floris got too close. Swamp Wasps were common here, and they grew to be a little larger than a man's hand. Their stings were excruciatingly painful, but also highly venomous as well. Nests would often house up to sixty of these monstrosities, and Floris had never built up the courage to try and trap one, meaning he had no cure for their stings. Luckily, they tended to stay away from the village.

 

Floris had arrived at just the crack of dawn of a new day. His backpack was full of herbs he had gathered on the way here, but his work was far from over. There were many species of plant here, many of them having their own uses for alchemical purposes. Herbs such as Nightshade and St. John's Wort were useful for poisons he needed for taking down prey. Poisons made from herbs were less likely to infect the meat of the animal he was hunting, while poisons made with snake venom were more likely to infect anything that was edible. However, the poisons made from the snake venom was far more lethal than what was made by herbs. Floris' most deadly poison has taken down bull Swamp Boars with just a single arrow, which is an impressive accomplishment. Boar hide, especially bulls, is very thick, and it can be difficult to puncture an arrow or knife deep enough inside to cause any kind of fatal damage. However, so long as Floris

can make one bleed, that's all he needs to bring it down. The poisons made from his snakes were potent enough that any animal struck with it died within seconds; sometimes even instantly. But the potions made from herbs tended to take a little longer depending on where the arrow hit, but the meat was still edible. If the animal in question was a deer and the arrow punctured the neck, the animal would usually collapse before it had a chance to getaway. All that was needed was for the animal to bleed so the poison would get in the animal's blood system. Whether the arrow actually hit its target was irrelevant, though it was a much quicker death for the animal.

 

With his knife in hand, Floris knelt down next to some herbs and started collecting what he needed. His backpack was already fairly full, but he still had a number of empty pockets to store herbs in. However, at the pace he was going, it wouldn't take long to fill those empty pockets and be forced to make the journey back home.

 

"Hmm...it might be time to make a bigger pack. At this pace, I'll be going back home before midday." He thought as he collected his plants. He stopped what he was doing and looked at the deer that were grazing on the grass in the distance. He didn't have the materials he needed to make a whole pack, but he could use a deer's hide to make a bag to carry stuff. However, he'd have to carry the deer back to the village before skinning it, otherwise, he will have wasted the meat and anything else of value, and lugging a deer for two days didn't sound like a very fun idea to him. He shook his head to get the idea out of his mind and returned his attention to gathering the herbs he needed.

 

"If the opportunity presents itself when I'm heading back, I'll take the shot." Floris thought.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:24 AM.


#6 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:25 AM

Chapter 6

 

The day was still young, but Floris had used up all the space available in his pack and all the pockets in his armor. He was loaded with many different herbs he needed for his experiment, but this would only be the first trip out of many to Arrowhead Loch. While his pack was loaded, a single backpack wasn't enough to fill even a single chest back home and every one of his chests had been dried out. If he were to fully restock his chests, he'd need to make many, many more trips to the Loch.

 

"So much for this trip. It's been a long time since I've used up so many of my resources; I've forgotten how much trouble it is to fully restock everything. I'm going to need a much bigger pack at this rate." Floris thought quietly to himself as he walked through the thick vegetation.

 

The trip back to the village always seemed shorter than the trip to the loch. His pack was always full of the herbs he needed, so he didn't need to stop and collect every herb he came across unless it was one that he desperately needed. He was now less than a day's walk back to the village and it was time for him to begin his second objective. He readied his bow and trapped a poisoned arrow on the string between his fingers. It was now time to hunt and he already had his eyes on his first victim of the day. A doe - a female deer - had gotten separated from her herd and was grazing the tall grass by herself and was unaware of the hunter slowly approaching her from downwind.

 

As Floris moved closer and positioned himself for a clear shot, he pulled the arrow as far back as he could and aimed for the neck for a quick clean kill. He sucked in his breath and prepared to release the arrow, but stopped as something caught his eye.

 

A fawn hopped out from the tall grass and looked in his direction curiously. The fawn was young and still had its white spots, meaning it was still dependent on its mother and was too small to be of any use. With an annoyed sigh, Floris lowered his bow but shot at the ground out of frustration. The two deer heard the "thwump" from the bowstring and darted off into the tall grass, disappearing from sight. Floris shook his head in annoyance and continued on his way back to the village.

 

Along the way, another opportunity presented itself. Another deer had wandered off alone and was drinking on the embankment of a creek. This time, he was much closer to the village, which meant he wouldn't have to carry this deer very far unlike the other one. Floris drew his arrow back as far as he could and prepared to let the arrow fly. However, just as he was about to release the arrow, something unexpected happened. A huge splash exploded the water's surface and one of the largest Swamp Lizards he had ever seen bit down on the unsuspecting deer; swallowing half its body with the first bite.

 

Unable to believe his luck, Floris stared at the river monster as it drug what remained of the deer into the water with it. Wide eyed and jaw hanging loose, Floris stared in awe and disbelief at where the deer was standing. He had been robbed of his own kill twice in one day, but he had never seen a Swamp Lizard in action before. While he was annoyed and frustrated, he was amazed by what he had just witnessed.

Floris had hunted Swamp Lizards in the past, but there had to be a very specific reason to take them on. Swamp Lizards were near the top of the food chain in the swamp and their natural armor made them tough to take down. Their meat wasn't very good, but their hide made for excellent armor. Without the right bow, bows that were specifically made for dealing with these animals, they were next to impossible to kill. Arrows used with normal hunting bows would rarely ever puncture their armor; even if they did, they wouldn't go deep enough to cause any kind of fatal damage. The bows used to take these animals down required two people to pull the arrows back with one person holding the bow steady.

 

With nothing else to do but curse under his breath, Floris put his bow on his back and continued his trip back to the village.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:28 AM.


#7 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:28 AM

Chapter 7

 

Back in his room, Floris started emptying his backpack of all the herbs and other plants he had collected on his journey to Arrowhead Loch. He carefully placed each and every herb where they belonged in the desired chest and started writing down notes of how many he had collected. Unfortunately, he hadn't collected anywhere near enough herbs to completely restock his chests; judging by his calculations, he would need to make another twelve trips to Arrowhead Loch to completely restock on resources.

 

"Great! The village is out of food and I'm out of alchemy supplies! This is not good timing; I don't have the time for this!" Floris frustratedly thought. With a heavy sigh, he grabbed his backpack and slung it over his shoulders, "I might as well make another trip out there. Maybe I can catch a break this time and actually bring something of use back to the village."

 

He restocked his arrows, grabbed his bow and his walking stick, and made his way out the front door of his house. But before he could make it very far, he heard a familiar voice calling his name.

 

"Floris! Floris, wait up!"

 

Floris turned around to see the only other boy in the village running towards him.

 

"Alvis? What do you want? I'm busy right now." Said Floris.

 

Alvis was the only other child in the village and Floris' one and only friend. He was a little taller than Floris with short messy blonde hair, green eyes, but had a more muscular build and the armor he wore had thicker padding. But unlike Floris, he didn't hide his identity by wearing something around his face.

 

Alvis bent over his knees as he tried to catch his breath. He had been running for quite a while by the looks of things, but whatever he was needing to tell Floris must've been pretty important. He took some time to catch his breath, then looked up at Floris with an excited grin, "I just spotted that buck we've been trying to track down for the past several days. I think I found where he's living."

 

The thought of going back to Arrowhead Loch suddenly vanished from Floris' mind and he gave Alvis his undivided attention, "You sure it's the same one?"

 

Alvis nodded, "Without a doubt. Are you still too busy, or do you want another shot at this deer?"

 

Floris narrowed his eyes, "Take me to him."

 

Alvis smiled and nodded and started leading the way to where he last saw the deer.

 

After traveling through the swamp for a while, Alvis led Floris to a place the villagers called Sunlit Shore. It was an area similar to Arrowhead Loch in that it was a large clearing from the swamp and a good area for animals to graze. Its name came from the millions of tiny glittering rocks that littered the shore. During certain times of the year, the light the rocks emitted was almost blinding yet beautiful at the same time. Floris, however, rarely ever came here. There was a distinct lack of herbs he could use, making the area next to useless for him. However, Sunlit Shore was not as dangerous as Arrowhead Loch. The glittering stones made it an unattractive place for some animals during warmer times.

 

The two hunters ducked down into some tall grass behind the hanging vines of the towering swamp trees and Alvis pointed to a bunch of bushes next to a hollowed-out fallen tree trunk, "That's where I saw him. He's hiding inside the log." Alvis whispered to Floris.

 

Floris nodded and started thinking of a plan. First, he needed to know if the buck was still in there. He signaled for Alvis to wait where he was so he could move through the brush more quietly without alerting the buck. He crawled on his belly to an area where he could see inside the log and could see that the buck was sleeping inside. Normally, this would have been an easy shot, but the buck had chosen his home well. The log had collapsed to a point that it would be next to impossible to hit him from behind with an arrow and one hitting the log would make a loud enough noise he'd run out in a flash. However, Floris had had enough of this animal getting away from him; it was time for this buck to die one way or another.

 

Floris crawled back to Alvis on his belly with a few stones in hand. His original plan was for one of them to strike the log with an arrow, scaring him out, and the other would shoot him when he was escaping. However, he didn't want to risk one of them missing the shot. They were both expert marksmen, but deer jumped around at random when they were trying to escape from danger; he wanted both arrows ready to fly when he left the log.

 

"What are the stones for?" Alvis whispered.

 

"You'll see. Just get your bow ready." Floris answered. He stood up to his knees, readied his bow and arrow, then started chunking the stones at the log.

 

Thunk!

 

Thunk!

 

Thunk!

 

There was a loud rustling noise and the buck shot out of the log like a flash of lightning. The two hunters took their aim and let their arrows fly. Alvis' arrow went high and into another bush, but Floris' arrow went straight into the neck. Before the deer even had a chance to react, it fell to the ground dead. The two hunters smiled excitedly and ran to collect their prize.

 

"Dang, Floris, that was one hell of a shot!" Alvis said as he pointed to the arrow in the deer's neck, "You can't make a much cleaner shot than that. Right in the neck."

 

Floris nodded in thanks but didn't waste any time in getting to business, "Let's not waste any time here. The last deer I had a try at was stolen from me by a giant Swamp Lizard. Let's get this guy back to the village before something else comes along."

 

"Alright. Let me find my arrow and I'll help you carry the body." Alvis said. He started for the direction the arrow went but stopped when he heard loud squealing and saw the brush moving around frantically. "Uh-oh...I know that sound." He started to slowly back away to Floris, who had already drawn his bow.

 

The noise came closer and closer until the creature finally came into view. It was a bull Swamp Boar and Alvis' arrow was sticking out of its side. It stood at a height that rivaled that of the two boys and had four tusks sticking out as long as a man's arm. It snarled and waved its head around, giving all the indications that it was ready for a fight.

 

Floris slowly turned his head to look at Alvis and gave him a very unamused look with his eyes.

 

Alvis threw his hands up defensively, "Well, don't blame me!"

 

"I blame you! Of all things for you to accidentally shoot, it couldn't have been a squirrel?!" Said Floris with a very unamused tone. He sighed heavily and reached for one of the poisons on his belt, "Well, you know the drill."

 

"What?! Now, wait a minute! Why am I the one who always does the hard work?!" Alvis asked.

 

Floris reached inside his cloak and handed Alvis a journal, "Here. Read this."

 

Alvis stared at the journal with a blank face, then looked at Floris again, "You know I can't read!"

 

Floris nodded and put the journal back in his cloak, "And that's why you're the one who does the hard work."

 

Alvis growled for a moment, then stomped his way over to the boar, "Hey! Fatso! Your mother was a piglet!"

 

The boar focused its attention on Alvis and started charging at him and Alvis started running around randomly to distract it from Floris.

 

With the boar distracted, Floris quickly climbed up a nearby tree and started applying poison to one of his arrows. Boar hide was thick and a single arrow wasn't going to cause any kind of fatal damage, and arrows fired from ground level usually just bounced off a boar's armor-like skull. The only way to take them down was to aim for the spine. Unfortunately for Alvis, however, poisons took a while to apply to anything.

 

"Feel free to jump in any time, Floris!" Alvis shouted from the ground below as he ran for his life.

 

"Oh, you're doing fine. He seems to like you." Floris taunted back as he continued applying the poison to his arrow.

 

"Yeah, lucky me!" Alvis shouted as he darted to his left, making the boar charge into a small boulder, making it squeal one of the most terrifying sounds either of them had ever heard from a Swamp Boar. Alvis looked up at Floris for a moment before he started running again, "This isn't as fun as it looks! Hurry up, Floris!"

 

Floris watched the boar from atop the tree branch and readied his arrow. He waited for Alvis to lead the boar in a circle to him, then let the arrow fly straight into the soft skin of the boar's back. The arrow sank into the boar's spine, and it collapsed to the ground and slid a short distance before the body came to rest.

 

Alvis bent down on his knees as he tried to catch his breath and watched as Floris jumped from the branch and landed on the ground, "Okay...that's enough excitement for me today."


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:33 AM.


#8 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:35 AM

Chapter 8

 

Days passed since Floris and Alvis took down the buck and had the encounter with the Swamp Boar. Since then, the village has been restocked on food after the two boys went on a hunting excursion bringing back eight deer, two boars, and up to twenty smaller animals such as squirrels and chipmunks. Some of the villagers had also managed to pick several baskets full of berries that grew from bushes dotted around the village. The berries were known as Red Swamp Cherries, but they were nearly the size of an apple. They were one of the few fruits that were relatively safe to eat in the swamp, but they were extremely rare. The only easy way to find them was by growing them. However, the village was built in a location where the fruits grew unusually close together. A single bush could produce hundreds of these berries during a good year, but due to their sweet taste, the berries didn't last very long and were completely consumed within a few months of their harvest. There were other fruits that grew in the swamp, but they were even rarer and harder to find. In fact, they were so rare that neither Floris nor Alvis had ever seen one despite their constant years of searching.

 

In the days gone by, Floris had also managed to mostly restock his chests so he could resume his alchemical experiments. He was one trip short of completely restocking his supplies, but he was relatively comfortable conducting more experiments and resuming his potion-making with the resources he had now. He sat in his room, chewing on a Swamp Cherry as he wrote notes down in his journal. He had just recently finished a batch of potions he made on a regular basis. They were his best healing potions to date; they were capable of healing and closing a large open wound within the timespan of a single hour; all while fighting any infections, sicknesses or diseases that may have gotten into the persons' bloodstream. He made these potions at least one time a week and had built up a considerable stockpile of them. They were quick and easy to make and ultimately cost him very little in the way of alchemical resources, making them very good things to trade when the trade wagon made its way to the village. Floris, being the smartest one in the village, was the only one who knew how to keep track of time. He was the only one who knew about hours, weeks, months, years and so on. So, he knew the trade wagon was due back in the village at any time. However, the other villagers were only able to know the time by the seasons. The villagers referred to them as Cool Season: Fall, Cold Season: Winter, Wet Season: Spring, Dry Season: Summer. Right now, the Dry Season, or Summer, was nearing its end, meaning it was almost time to start preparing for Winter. For now, though, Floris focused on making his next batch of potions and conducting more experiments.

 

Later, a loud "gong" echoed through the village, snapping Floris' attention from his journal. He smiled under his scarf and started collecting several potions, poisons and animals skins he had put aside for this particular occasion. The trade wagon was coming into the village after several months of being away. With his stuff collected, Floris carried a large chest outside his house and set it on the ground next to the wagon as the other villagers gathered around with their own things they wanted to trade. As the village healer and the one who often traded the items of unique value, the trader usually picked Floris first. The trader was an older man who supposedly grew up in another village somewhere in the swamp but managed to get a job driving the trade wagon from some town outside the swamp.

 

"Ah! Floris! It's good to see you again! What have you got for me this time 'round?" The trader asked as he looked at the chest Floris brought out with him.

 

"I think you'll like what I offer this time around. I've managed to improve my healing potions quite drastically since the last time you were here. They'll heal an open wound in less than an hour while also fighting any kind of infection, sickness or disease" said Floris.

 

The trader looked at Floris in amazement, then looked at the chest again, "Really? Well, I'll get these loaded up right away, then. The military would love to try these out."

 

"The military? I thought you usually took these to the Mages Guild." Floris said with a hint of confusion in his voice.

 

The trader nodded as he got the chest loaded and clapped his hands together as he looked at Floris again, "You're right. I usually do. But I was told by the head of the guildhall I usually go to to take some of the potions you make to South Port, which is a small naval dockyard on the southern tip of Misty Lake. Supposedly, an Admiral or some other high ranking official was interested in testing some of your potions. I guess a small fleet of ships just brought a bunch of wounded soldiers back home from the wars in the South. Or so I've heard, anyway. I know I've told you this before, but your name carries a lot of weight in the outside world, Floris."

 

"Interesting. Well, I also have some animals skins and some common poisons in that chest as well." Said Floris.

 

The trader pulled out a scroll that had the delivery items listed and started reading through it, "Alright. So, let's see here. The Mages Guild has actually sent you some new alchemical equipment by the looks of it. New alembics, retorts, that sort of thing."

 

"Really? I'll take it, then. I've been needing some new stuff now that I think about it." Said Floris.

 

The tradesman nodded and reached for a large chest in the wagon. "Here you are, Floris. Careful, it's a little heavy." He said as he handed Floris the chest.

 

When the chest was in his arms, Floris nodded to the tradesman in thanks, then slowly carried it back to his room, allowing the other villagers to start trading.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:37 AM.


#9 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:38 AM

Chapter 9

 

A smile grew on Floris' face as he finished testing a new poison on some of his rats. It had all the effects he was looking for and he was almost certain it would be more than enough for what he was intending to do with it. By using a mixture of the Rainbow Snake's venom, some Nightshade, and some of the venom from his Slithering Tree Serpent, he had created his most powerful poison to date. He had only one purpose for it but it was important for the safety of the village. He finished writing down his notes in his journal, then suited up in his armor and equipment, grabbed his weapons, and jolted to find Alvis.

 

Alvis was in the middle of helping another villager harvest the last Swamp Cherry bush. They were almost finished, but the task at hand couldn't wait any longer. As Floris approached, he called Alvis' name and tossed him a bow when Alvis looked at him. He looked down at the bow for a moment, then looked at Floris with a hint of confusion in his eyes.

 

Floris, still hiding his face behind his scarf, held his new poison up to Alvis could see, "It's time. That Swamp Eagle is too close to the village and I want to take it down before it has a chance to fight back. We're hunting big game today."

 

A hint of fear grew in Alvis' eyes and he stood up from his knees to address his friend, "Are you sure about this, Floris? This isn't exactly going to be an easy task; it's not going to be like taking down a Swamp Lizard. Any other animal in the swamp we've hunted before, so we know what to do. You've come up with the...uh...the...what did you call them?"

 

"Tactics." Floris said plainly.

 

"Yeah, those! You have the tactics for any other animal, but we've never faced down a Swamp Eagle before. We don't know how it'll act." Alvis said.

 

Floris put the poison he showed Alvis back in the look on his belt going across his chest, then looked at Alvis again, "I think the same tactics will work. This freak of nature hasn't eaten for weeks now, so it'll be needing to feed before long. You'll just hate to...run a lot faster with this one."

 

"Again. I'm the one doing the hard work. Why?" Alvis asked.

 

Floris rolled his eyes and crossed his arms, "Fine. I'll run around like an idiot while you administer the poison I just created and go through the process of studying every animal, plant, and insect in the swamp; letting these deadly specimens infect you with their venom so you can understand it better. Sure, I'll be glad to do the 'hard' work for once."

 

Alvis silently stared at Floris with a fearful face but shook it off as he started laughing nervously and walked past Floris, "So, all I got to do is outrun a giant bird, right? With razor-sharp talons, wings that shake the trees, and a ferocious carnivorous appetite? Oh, this is going to be easy! What was I so worried about? This'll be no problem!"

 

Floris closed his eyes and smirked as Alvis walked by, "I'm glad you could see it my way." He then turned around and followed Alvis to where they last saw the Swamp Eagle.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:40 AM.


#10 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:42 AM

Chapter 10

 

Perched on a low branch of an enormous swamp tree was the Swamp Eagle Floris and Alvis set out to kill. The two boys were laying in some tall grass behind the thick overgrown vegetation and hanging vines from the trees. Their armor concealed them very well and acted as camouflage, making it harder for the wildlife to spot them. They could see the Swamp Eagle, but it couldn't see them.

 

"Look at the size of that thing! Are you sure you want to go through with his, Floris?" Alvis whispered nervously.

 

Floris, after getting a much better look at his target, swallowed nervously, "I'm less sure now than I was before. Killing this thing will not be easy."

 

The monstrous bird stood at a height of twenty feet. It was covered in black and golden feathers with razor-sharp talons nearly thirty inches long; its eyes glowed an ominous yellow with slits as black as night. Just looking at this feared creature made the two boys' blood run cold.

Swamp Eagles were at the top of the food chain of the swamp and they didn't fear people like most other animals. Even giant Swamp Lizards had learned to keep a distance from humans over time, but Swamp Eagles were different. They were terrors of the skies and Floris and Alvis learned to fear them long ago when one attacked the village and killed ten villagers and destroyed three houses. These animals were forces to be reckoned with and underestimating them could prove to be a fatal mistake. Not much was known about them other than they were very territorial and just as carnivorous. Even differentiating the males from the females was a mystery.

 

"It's not too late to turn back, Floris." Alvis whispered, a hint of desperation and fear in his voice.

 

Floris remained silent for a moment as he considered his options. There was truth in what Alvis was saying and he wasn't wrong when by saying they were in over their heads. But there was danger in living and letting live. The Eagle was not far from the village and it had almost certainly heard the commotion coming from the villagers. If it were allowed to heal, the village would be a safe bet as the Eagles' first target. Floris and Alvis were the only ones strong enough to wield weapons or fight anymore and they alone were no threat to a starving and freshly healed Swamp Eagle. The choice wasn't exactly a good one or a smart one, but it was the only one they had. Floris nervously exhaled his breath that he had been holding for some time, then looked at Alvis, "We don't have a choice. Given the chance to heal, the village is going to be the first place that monster attacks and taking it on when it's fully healed is an impossibility. We have to take it down now when it's sick and wounded."

"

You know...you've had some bad ideas in the past, but none of them compare to this." Alvis whispered.

 

Floris grabbed the poison from the belt going across his torso and started applying it to one of his arrows, "In this situation...I don't think there is such a thing as a 'right choice', Alvis. We either deal with this thing now when it's injured, or we deal with it when it's healed."

 

Alvis sighed nervously and looked at the eagle again, "Well...If we fail we only lose our lives."

 

"And likely be eaten afterward." Floris said without emotion.

 

Alvis hung his head in silence for a moment, "Thanks for that, Floris. I feel so much better now that you've brought that up."

 

"Just trying to help! Anyway, I'm ready when you are." Said Floris.

 

Alvis nodded and started to move through the bush.

 

CRASH!!!

 

Splintered wood flew through the air and the loud creaking of a tree collapsing haunted the air behind the two boys, followed by the loud undeniable sound of a Swamp Eagle's call: a terrifyingly loud shriek that echoed through the trees and made the boys' hair stand on end.

 

The two hunters laid low in the vegetation and stared at each other with fearful, yet speechless expressions. They both came within mere centimeters of their deaths and they never even saw it coming. Within the blink of an eye, the Swamp Eagle destroyed the base of a tree trunk, making the tree crash down on the ground behind them.

 

"I told you this was a bad idea!" Alvis yelled frightfully.

 

"I never said it wasn't!" Floris replied.

 

The two hunters rose to their feet and readied their arrows. Neither of them predicted the Eagle would still be able to fly and were caught completely off guard by it. The tips of the trees swayed from the flapping of its wings and the wind hustled hauntingly through the canopy.

 

Another shriek gave away its position and Floris pointed at it as it was swooping down to grab them with its talons. The two boys rolled out of the way, letting the bird pass by. It shattered a small boulder and furiously flapped its wings at the two boys, knocking them off their feet from the powerful wind its wings created.

 

Floris managed to roll behind a tree to use as cover and readied his bow. He skimmed the area around him, looking for a good place to hide and spotted a cluster of large boulders he could use as cover. He waited for the bird to make another pass, then darted as fast as he could for the safety of the giant rocks. He dove into a small carved out crevis between the boulders and watched as Alvis ran to join him. Just as he was about to reach the rocks, however, the Eagle landed on top of them and blocked his entrance.

 

Alvis slid to a stop on his feet and quickly rushed in another direction. The bird hopped off the rocks and started chasing him on foot, scratching at him with its talons, missing him by mere centimeters. Alvis managed to squeeze in between two trees, which managed to stop the Swamp Eagle for a brief moment. However, the bird quickly found a way around them and was on Alvis' tail once more.

 

Floris took the opportunity to ready his poisoned arrow. He knelt down in the shadow of the rocks and vegetation and patiently waited for the perfect shot. Due to a lack of knowledge of how the bird's body acted, his target area was small and was going to be hard to hit.

 

Suddenly, a dreadful howl of agonizing pain echoed through the trees. The Swamp Eagle had managed to stab its talons through Alvis' left shoulder and was dragging him out into the open. It threw him through the air for several meters and started to slowly approach its wounded prey. As it got closer, it spread its wings out and lowered its head, opening its giant beak.

 

For the first time, Alvis truly knew what fear was. The inside of the eagle's beak was full of needle-like teeth that would tear his flesh apart. He desperately tried to scoot back on the ground, but the bird stomped on his leg, preventing him from getting away. He screamed in terrified horror as the bird's beak drew closer and closer to him and he prepared himself for the worst.

 

FWING!!!

 

Seemingly from nowhere, an arrow pierced the Eagle's right eye. It shrieked in pain and backed away from Alvis in a hurry. It flapped its wings ferociously and shook its head violently from the pain. It gave Alvis one last hungry look and took one step towards him before collapsing to the ground.

 

Alvis stared in speechless shock at the giant bird, then looked at Floris as he ran to him.

 

Floris started examining Alvis' wounds and reached for a potion on his belt.

 

"I thought I was a goner there for a minute." Alvis stated plainly as he stared at the Swamp Eagle laying in front of him.

 

"So did I. Hmmm....your wounds aren't as bad as I was expecting. A few potions and some rest will see you on your feet again by nightfall tomorrow." Floris said. He grabbed one of the potions from his waist belt and helped Alvis drink it. He then poured the remaining drops on Alvis' wounded shoulder.

 

Alvis flinched a little as the potion made contact with his open wounds, but the droplets soothed him shortly after. Floris then wrapped Alvis' left arm around the back of his neck and helped him to his feet. Then, they started their walk back to the village.

 

"You know, Floris...I think I'll pass on the next time we have to face one of these." Alvis said.

 

"Let's hope that never happens." Floris responded.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:48 AM.


#11 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:49 AM

Chapter 11

 

A few days passed since Floris and Alvis took down the Swamp Eagle; with the exception of a few scars on his shoulder, Alvis had mostly healed from his wounds, and he was now going about his own business as usual but Floris had told him to take things a little slower and not to push himself. However, that wasn't going to stop him from taking part in what could have been the greatest moment in the history of the village. He and Floris had killed one of the most feared creatures of the swamp and the villagers were preparing to bring the body back to the village. They had hopes that displaying a dead Eagle in plain sight would prevent another Eagle from attacking them in the future, but Floris remained skeptical of that idea. Displaying a dead Swamp Eagle like some kind of trophy could end in a bad way, or bring something else to the village. There was an entire world beyond the swamp and none of the villagers knew anything about it. Who knew what else could potentially find its way to the village?

 

The party consisted of all the village men who, had built a carrier made from sticks to carry the Eagle's body. Once they were ready, they followed Floris and Alvis to where the Eagle was left laying on the ground. Even seeing one dead on the ground unnerved the villagers since this was the closest any of them had been to one of these dreaded creatures. Was it truly dead, or was it just playing with its food?

 

Floris could see the hesitation and decided to calm the villagers a little by telling them about the kill, "The arrow in its eye was coated with my most powerful poison. If it were still alive, we'd know it. Trust me on that."

 

His words seemed to ease some of the tension, but the villagers, understandably, were still cautious when approaching the Eagle. They began the process of putting it on the carrier, then started carrying the body back to the village. But before they could put their trophy on display, Floris had studies to conduct on it so he could learn the secrets of their bodies and how to more easily deal with them in the future. They set the body just outside Floris' house and went on about their daily basis while Floris immediately began his studies on the giant bird.

 

Weeks passed and from using certain parts of the Swamp Eagle, Floris was able to achieve his greatest accomplishment yet. He had managed to create the potion he had been so desperately trying to create for months now. A potion that would drastically increase the villagers' immunity to the swamp and ultimately increase their life span by a few years. The potions were costly on his resources, but he would find ways to change that in the future.

 

After telling his Grandmother of his success, Ajenna excitedly told the villagers who in turn started building a bond fire. Alvis went out hunting for fresh game and the women of the village started preparing their best treats. Once everything was ready, the villagers threw a party for Floris to celebrate his achievements.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:51 AM.


#12 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:54 AM

Chapter 12

 

Since the threat of the Swamp Eagle had been taken care of, life in the village returned to normal. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months until the seasons changed. With the Cold Season (winter) rapidly approaching, the villagers were busy preparing their houses for the hard months ahead. Though the swamp never really became unbearably cold, the colder months did bring a new challenge for the village. Many animals moved south to warmer climates and others went into hibernation. However, there were other animals that strived during the winter but were rarely seen at any other time of the year. Some of these animals were ferocious carnivores that rivaled Swamp Eagles for their place on the food chain. Others were large herbivores that were peaceful so long as nothing provoked them. The biggest threat from the wildlife came from the dreaded Stalker Owles: gigantic birds that grew to be two or three times the size of a Swamp Eagle and had the attitude to match their enormous size. Stalker Owles hunted solely at night during the winter when the nights were long and the days were short. When these massive predators came out to play, the Swamp Eagles were no longer at the top of the food chain.

While no one had ever seen one, who at least lived to tell the tale, their calls eerily haunted the swamp at night and the screams of their unfortunate victims could be heard from far away. It was unknown where these creatures lived or came from, but no one in the village ever hoped to lay eyes on one.

 

Since the days were getting shorter, it meant less time for hunting. Alvis spent the vast majority of his time tracking down deer and other animals to bring back to the village to stock up the food supply. It was at this time of year that Floris was primarily focused on making potions that helped the villagers resist the cold better, so he had little time to go hunting since these particular potions required constant supervision while being brewed. 

 

While Alvis preferred to hunt with Floris, he understood Floris had his own role in the village. After all, were it not for him, the village wouldn't even be a distant memory to the outside world anymore. Everyone would have either passed due to sickness or disease or died of old age. Floris was the lifeblood of the village and everyone's' lives rested on his shoulders. However, he would occasionally find some time to step out of his room and spend a little time hunting whenever he had a free moment. 

 

So far, Alvis had been on a lucky streak. He had bagged four does, seven raccoons, eight squirrels, two bucks, multiple birds of varying species, and even caught an injured female swamp boar off guard. He had made some good progress throughout the week, but his job was never over throughout the Cold Season. It was better to have too much food than not enough. However, it was important to keep the balance of nature in mind. Overhunting could have extremely devastating effects on the ecosystem, thus dooming the village since they relied on the local wildlife for food, tools, clothing, and housing. 

 

There were some plant species Alvis knew about, primarily berries and other plants that could be used for food, but he knew little to nothing about actual herbs. He primarily left that to Floris since he was the one who knew their uses and dealt with them on a daily basis. However, as he was walking along, he spotted something out of the ordinary.

 

"Hey...what's that?" Alvis thought curiously.

 

He approached the trunk of an ancient towering swamp tree and found a withering and decaying plant. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before and there was something about it that seemed strange. The plant was a dead Swamp Rose: extremely beautiful flowers that grew commonly throughout the swamp in a large variety of different colors and would even have multiple colors displayed during certain times of the year. According to Floris, they were useless unless used as decoratives. 

 

Alvis picked the flower and held it in his hands. As he held it, he got an eerie feeling. Something bad was in this area and it made him extremely uncomfortable. It was a feeling he couldn't explain. Dark...mysterious...ancient...evil. A shiver ran down his spine and his hair stood on end. He felt as if there was another presence with him, making him look around in a panic. He quickly stood up and started to pace away from the area as quick as his feet would carry him, but as he walked, he saw something that truly terrified him. He gripped the plant as tight as he could and started sprinting as fast as he could back to the village. 

 

Alvis busted through the door of Floris and Ajenna's house and rushed past Ajenna before she could get a word in. He slid around the corner to Floris' room and caught Floris staring at him, obviously caught a little off guard.

"Alvis? What the heck has gotten into you? You know not to rush blindly into my room like this!" Floris states as he returns his attention to what he was doing a moment ago. He was in the middle of dissecting one of his rats after testing how it reacted to a new poison he had brewed.

 

Alvis panted heavily as he rested on his knees, which meant he had been running for quite some time. Both he and Floris were in top physical shape and it was uncommon for either of them to run out of breath that easily. After taking some time to collect himself, Alvis looked up at Floris and handed him the plant he found.

 

"Floris...I found...I found this...while I was out hunting." Alvis said as he breathed heavily, "I thought...you might want to take a...take a look at it."

 

Floris took the plant from Alvis and observed it for a moment, then laid it on his table. "It's a withered swamp rose. What's so strange about it?"

 

Alvis took in a deep breath and slowly stood to his feet, "I found it like that near Deadwood Creek. I've seen these plants wither and die, Floris. It isn't natural."

 

Floris looked down at the plant again, then looked at Alvis, "I don't see how you mean. Times are changing, Alvis. The Cold Season is approaching; it's perfectly natural for plants to do this around this time of year."

 

"Is it common for swamp roses to be that dark when they wither?" Alvis asked.

 

Floris looked down at the plant and held it up for a closer look, "Hmmm...it is interesting that it is that shade of color. It must've died a long time ago...or was burnt...by...something."

 

Alvis swallowed nervously as he started to see a hint of confusion appear in Floris' eyes as well. "Okay...is it also common for the ground around them to be dying for as far as the eye can see as well?"

 

Floris focused his entire attention on Alvis and replied with a simple, "No."

 

Alvis stood quietly, his entire body starting to shake as the color drained from his face as if he'd seen a ghost...or something worse.

Getting the hint, Floris stood from his seat, "Alvis, what is going on?! What have you found?!" 

 

Alvis swallowed nervously and responded with a shaky voice, "I...I think it's best if I just show you."


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:55 AM.


#13 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 09 August 2019 - 05:56 AM

Chapter 13

 

Alvis led Floris back to Deadwood Creek where he found the decaying flower. He was a nervous wreck the entire way; his body wouldn't stop shaking and he kept looking around him as if he was expecting something to jump on him, which disturbed Floris a considerable amount. In all their years together, he had never seen Alvis like this. Nothing ever frightened him this much in the past, even when they fought the swamp eagle several months ago he wasn't this on edge. Whatever he found must be truly terrifying, which was something that both worried and intrigued Floris at the same time.

 

As they approached Deadwood Creek, Alvis became jumpier and jumpier with each step. The sound of a frog croaking nearly made him jump out of his skin. However, Floris was also starting to get a sense of something and he was beginning to understand why Alvis was so on edge. There was something else here in the swamp. Something...unnatural, and he didn't like it one bit. He started to feel as if every tree around them was watching them and a natural instinct told him to ready his bow with a poisoned arrow.

 

"Alvis...what are we dealing with? We're not alone here." Floris whispered in a calm voice, but his fingers tightened on his arrow.

Alvis approached some bushes then turned around to look at Floris. He swallowed nervously and reached for the bush, "No, Floris. We're not."

 

Alvis pushed the bushes aside to reveal a sight beyond disturbing and one that made Floris give an expression with his eyes that Alvis had never seen before. Floris' eyes went wide with fear and shock, and though his mouth was covered by his scarf, Alvis could tell his jaw had dropped.

 

"W-w-w-what i-is going on here?!" Floris struggled to say with fear being very present in his voice.

 

The woods before them were pitch black with everything around them rotting and decaying away. The ground was black as if it were scorched by a raging fire and the plants were black and withering as if diseased. The trees were dark and crumbling as if they had been dead for hundreds of years. Giant tree limbs littered the ground, limbs that were too big and too strong to be forced down by any creature. The swamp was...dying, and for reasons beyond explanation. The two boys stared at the sight ahead of them in silence, unable to think of any appropriate words to say to one another.

 

Eventually, Floris was able to snap himself out of his daze and pulled a glass jar from his backpack. He approached the blackened ground, being careful not to wander too far on to it, then knelt down and started collecting some samples in the jar.

 

Alvis watched for a moment, then kneeled down beside his friend when he saw he had that "thinking look" in his eyes, "What do you think, Floris? Any ideas on what could have caused this?" Alvis asked, desperately hoping for a sensible answer.

 

Floris remained quiet for a bit before eventually shaking his head and standing up on his feet, "No. All the logical conclusions I'm coming up with are leading to dead ends. At first, I thought this might have been a fire caused by lightning...but that doesn't add up. For starters, it's too wet here for a fire to even start due to all the rain we've had here lately. Secondly, we would have at least smelled the smoke from the village, and as tall as these trees are, we would have seen the flames from the village without issue. On top of that, the ground looks scorched as if a fire did come through here...but the grass and vegetation...it would have been burnt into nothingness. Instead, we're seeing the grass as if it's dying from some kind of...sickness or disease. It doesn't make sense and any logical conclusion I try to reach is met with a dead end. We're dealing with something I've never seen before."

 

A shiver ran down Alvis's spine and he looked at Floris with worried eyes, "You feel that, too, right? That...feeling of uneasiness?"

Floris's blood ran cold and his hair stood on end. He nodded at Alvis as he replied, "Yeah. There's someone...no, something else here...and it doesn't like that we're here, either. Hurry up and see if you can find anything else of interest and let's get the hell out of here! Plants, rocks, anything! Grab what you can and let's go!"

 

Alvis nodded and ran off to collect a few things as Floris instructed while Floris knelt down on the ground again to check something. He started digging with a knife and pulled a handful of grass out from the ground. As he suspected, even the roots of the plants were dying and rotting away, even with a plentiful supply of water from the nearby creek. This more than puzzled him and he was potentially looking at the biggest project of his life trying to figure out what was going on in this area. Suddenly, Alvis started calling his name in a panicked voice,

 

"Floris! You should come see this!"

 

Floris stood up and ran over to Alvis who was standing atop a hill that overlooked Deadwood Creek. What he saw terrified him.

The water was as black as the void and the corpses of dead fish and other animals that drank from the creek littered the banks as far as the eye could see. For the first time in his life, he was truly speechless. With nothing to say, he was only able to observe the water and study it from a distance, but after a few moments of staring at the blackness in the water, he noticed something completely unnatural and bizarre. The blackness in the water was slowly moving upstream rather than downstream, which meant it was only a matter of time before it reached one of the two creeks that served as the villages main water source.

 

"We've got a big problem here, Floris." Alvis said, tightly clenching his fists and gritting his teeth.

 

"Yeah...this is bad. Let's get back to the village and warn them of what's going on." Floris responded.

 

Alvis nodded and started to walk away, but Floris slid down to the embankment with another glass container in his hand. He scooped up some of the blackened water, sealed the lid on it, then followed


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 09 August 2019 - 05:57 AM.


#14 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 11 August 2019 - 09:54 PM

Chapter 14

 

Notes and papers with hastily scribbled notes lay scattered all over Floris' floor and decorate his walls. For the past several days he had been researching and studying the samples that he and Alvis took from Deadwood Creek, trying to understand what they found and hoping he could come up with a cure. He had been studying his samples for six days straight and had only slept for an hour each day. With each passing day, however, he grew more desperate and took more risks than he normally would. The studies he had done on his rats showed what happens when something drinks the water or eats the vegetation that was in the area and it truly horrified him.

 

Anything that eats or drinks from the area dies in less than half a day. Their internal organs start decaying from the inside out and their heart rate drops at a considerable rate. The body eventually goes completely numb and the victim is forced to endure the pain of feeling their body decaying from the inside while not being able to move, like a very painful and deadly paralysis poison. He had already known that whatever they found wasn't natural, but he never expected these kinds of results. He hated to admit it, but he was in over his head. No matter what he tried, nothing seemed to heal his rats from the blackened soil or water.

 

Floris frantically flipped through his journals and tried every single potion he had made over the years; even the oldest and most basic ones he ever made. His supply of rats dwindled quickly and so did his supply of alchemical ingredients. At best, he was looking at another two days before he'd have to journey out again for herbs, but that wasn't what bothered him. What disturbed him the most was his dwindling supply of swamp rats. They were next to impossible to catch in the wild and were even harder to find. He had another six rats at most, but three of them were less than a month old. He was quickly running out of methods and time. Once the black water found its way into one of the two creeks the village got its water from...it was over. The lives he and everyone else knew would be lost.

 

Floris gritted his teeth as he stared out his window. His home and the only place he knew in the world was at risk and he didn't know how to save it. Anger swelled up inside him and he decided to resort to more desperate approaches. It was a risky hand he was playing, but he was out of methods and ideas...and he was almost out of time. He pulled a chest wrapped in chains out from under his bed and unlocked it. This chest contained some of the most powerful and rare ingredients he had ever come into possession of. He kept them stored away primarily for disease outbreaks that would spread quickly if not handled immediately. Most of the ingredients were gifts from the Mages Guild and did not grow naturally in the swamp. One such ingredient was a dragon's claw, which was a claw longer than his arm. He collected a handful of ingredients he had used in the past and started mixing them with other plants and ingredients that had similar properties. However, potions made with these rare kinds of ingredients took ages to brew and he didn't know the full effects of these ingredients. He would have to be extremely careful with how he handled these new potions.

 

With one final desperate attempt, Floris used the newly brewed potions on one of his last remaining rats. He was down to his last male and female but he was completely out of options now. He had the unlucky rat drink some of the water and waited for it to begin dying. Once the rat started showing the symptoms, he gave it one of the new potion and waited for it to take effect. He never considered himself much of a religious person outside of believing in a higher power, but he was getting to the point that praying seemed like the only thing left to do. What he knew was failing and he didn't have the time or resources to learn anything else about what he found. This was his last hope, or everything he knew and cared about would be lost forever. As he stared out the window, he watched the villagers go about their daily lives. Every single one of them were in their twilight years; most would be lucky to last another decade at most. None of them had the strength or energy to pack up and move through the swamp in hopes of finding a place to resettle and some wouldn't even make it without falling victim to the swamps' many dangers. Was this really how it would end? Would he and Alvis be forced to leave the village behind and start a new life? He hoped not, but it was starting to look inevitable at this point.

 

While he was looking away, the rat had perished, but this time it was even worse. The potion he brewed only seemed to increase the symptoms the rat took and now its entire body was being devoured right down to the bone. Floris didn't even react at what had happened and only stared at what was left of the rat. He slowly hung his head in shame and uttered a simple, but emotional statement under his breath,

 

"I've failed."


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 11 August 2019 - 09:55 PM.


#15 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 07:07 AM

Chapter 15

 

Floris sat on his bed heartbroken and defeated. The last of his resources had been used up and there wasn't enough time to gather anymore to continue his experiments. He had just broken the sad news to the villagers that there was nothing he could do to save them, and he felt like a failure because of it. He had saved the villagers countless times over the years from poisonous snake bites, diseases, poisonous spores in the air, and so on. But what he was dealing with now was some kind of outside force that wasn't natural to the swamp and was like nothing he had ever seen before, which meant finding a cure for it was next to impossible from the very beginning.

 

What he started referring to as "the sickness" was rapidly approaching the village. It grew closer and closer with each passing day and anything in its path died almost instantly. However, things were about to get a lot worse.

 

Alvis busted through Floris' door, making the alchemist snap out of his depressed thoughts as the door slammed against the wall, "We've got big problems, Floris!" 

 

Floris stared up at Alvis for a moment, then hung his head again, "Let me guess. The sickness has reached one of the two creeks and is starting to approach the village?"

 

Alvis nodded frantically, fear and desperation clearly visible on his facial features, "Yes! What in the world are we gonna do now?! You seriously can't come up with a cure to this...this...thing?!"

 

Floris slowly shook his head, "I'm out of options. I just used up the very last of my resources; my swamp rats are all dead...the village is done for."

 

Alvis stared at Floris with a horrified look in his eyes, unable to say a single word.

 

Floris looked up at Alvis again, "We only have a few options left. Either we stay here and die with our home, try and resettle somewhere, or we face the inevitable and take off for the outside world."

 

Alvis gritted his teeth and clenched his fists tightly, "I...I don't...what other choice do we really have but to leave? I don't want to leave because this village is all I've ever known! We don't know what's waiting for us out there!"

 

Floris nodded in agreement, "True. The last of both of our families are here as well. If we leave, we'll both be the last of our bloodlines. Though...that seems impossible to change now, given our current situation."

 

"Yeah," Alvis said slowly as he looked down at the floor. A long pause of silence followed until he was able to think of something else to say, "The trader says the people outside the swamp use something called...I think he said it was cressency, or something like that."

 

"I think you mean currency," Floris said.

 

"Yeah, that's it! Do we have any of this "currency" in the village?" Alvis asked.

 

Floris nodded and stood up from his bed, then walked over to one of his chests, "I knew that one day we would have to pack up and leave due to a number of different reasons. I was expecting it to be because the villagers all died from old age...but I never expected this...sickness to be the reason for our leaving." He reached inside the chest and pulled out a small sack, "I've made a small savings of what they call gold coins in the outside world. Apparently, this is one of the most crucial things we'll need when we leave."

 

"Can I see it?" Alvis asked with a strong sense of curiosity in his eyes.

 

Floris nodded and handed him a few gold pieces from the sack, "It's some sort of strange...I don't know. Metal, perhaps?"

 

Alvis stared at the three gold pieces in his hand and observed them front and back, then looked at Floris again, "So...how do we use it exactly? It seems like junk to me."

 

Floris took the gold pieces back from Alvis and put them in the sack again, "Truthfully, I have no idea. Supposedly, you do something called "bartering" with it, but I have even less of an idea of what that means. I guess we'll find out when we get outside of the swamp."

 

"Yeah, I guess. But I still can't believe its come to this. Where the hell did this...sickness even come from?!" Alvis asked in an angry voice. 

 

Floris shook his head and put the sack of gold pieces back in the chest, "I don't know, and I doubt we'll ever meet someone who does. As far as I can tell, there isn't another village in that direction for at least a ten day journey. They're probably the only ones who would know...if they're still alive, that is."

 

Alvis sighed heavily and started to walk out of the room, but he looked at Floris over his shoulder before he exited, "I don't want to leave until we absolutely have to. I'll make some water skins for us and spend some time going further upstream to collect some clean water. I'll be sure to go far enough away so that...whatever it is doesn't infect us as well."

 

Floris nodded, "You do that. I've already told the villagers of their options and they're deciding what to do as we speak. I would be very surprised if they said they were going to move."

 

Alvis nodded, telling Floris he understood, then walked out the door.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 13 August 2019 - 07:08 AM.


#16 Luna

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 12:59 PM

Question. What is your process in starting an original story from scratch. I've been wanting to do my own for a while and you've kinda inspired me. c:


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#17 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 13 August 2019 - 05:16 PM

Question. What is your process in starting an original story from scratch. I've been wanting to do my own for a while and you've kinda inspired me. c:

Hi! I appreciate that you like the story and would be glad to help.

 

I can't speak on behalf of other authors and artists when it comes to starting a story from scratch, but I'll go over some of the basic methods I use.

 

First and foremost, it's not easy. So, don't get discouraged if you keep getting stuck and end up deleting most of what you wrote after re-reading it. The first sentence and the first page are always going to be the hardest, but if you're determined enough, you'll find a way through.

 

The first thing I do is I find an inspiring source. In the case of Mages of the North, the inspiring source is a number of things. but it's mostly from Naruto since the story is supposed to kind of be my way of correcting some stuff. It pays to have more than once originating source as well and it's perfectly fine if there are a few similarities here and there between the plot and characters. If your story is inspired by another source, it's expected for their to be a few similarities. 

 

Secondly, take your time. Put as much thought into the story as possible before you actually start writing. Develop your characters as much as you can in your head so they don't become a standard run of the mill good guy or bad guy. You want your characters to have strengths and weaknesses and having the hero start off as a weakling is never a bad idea. Readers or fans love seeing their favorite characters grow and mature as the story progresses, but they despise Mary Sues. Take Rey from Star Wars for example. The perfect example of a character without no weaknesses and requires very little training to do the impossible, which is one reason why the newer Star Wars films have been major failures. 

 

Depending on the kind of story you're writing, it pays to write out the basic lore for the story as well, especially if it's a fantasy like Mages of the North. As a fantasy, the world you created is yours alone. You make up the rules for said world, which means you're the god for that particular series. In the case of Mages of the North, I've drawn out multiple continents and established the borders of the countries. There's a major war in the story with the Northern and Southern continents but neither side can advance into the other, making it a never ending war. However, that war has little meaning to the main cast until much, much later and is there primarily to create a stronger economy for the soon to be mages.

 

Writing the lore before starting the story will help you familiarize yourself with your own story before actually writing it. You'll know the bare basics of the area your characters in and will know how to have them proceed. For example, take Floris and Alvis from my story. They live in the South Swamp of Fiorra, which is one of the Northern Continents' most hostile and dangerous places due to the many dangerous wild animals and toxic plant species. Anyone outside the swamp cannot survive there because of the toxic fumes in the air, but Floris and Alvis have called it home their entire lives. It's all they know with the exception of what the trader tells them when he comes into the village. So, they know the swamp extremely well. However, when they leave the swamp, they will face a major culture shock. The world outside the swamp is in a similar time period as the American Revolution, and knowing how they're going to react to seeing the roads, buildings, ships, soldiers, and fortresses is going to be a major change from their primitive mud huts they were used to living in.

 

Finally, don't write too fast or expect your story to take off right away. It takes time for a story to build momentum and sometimes they never do. In the case of Mages of the North, I try to upload at least once or twice a week so the readers don't lose interest. The chapters are short because of this, but they cover the intended topic without dragging on and on, which brings me to another point. Don't make the chapters a snooze fest by adding in things that just don't belong and don't pull a Kishimoto by writing twenty flashback chapters, then writing one plot advancing chapter, then go back to writing flashbacks. It gets old and very uninteresting quickly. A flashback is okay here and there, but if they're overused, you will lose the interest of your readers. I had to stop reading Naruto for a while because of the Flashbacks.

 

I hope this helped and good luck to you in the future. 


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 13 August 2019 - 05:17 PM.


#18 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 07:44 AM

Chapter 16

 

With the coming of the sickness, blackened and dead vegetation surrounded the village and infected everything. The trees were dying, the grass was dying, and even the straw on the rooves of the houses was starting to wither away. And with it, the population of the village. Knowing they wouldn't be able to outrun it and knowing many of them would fall victim to one of the swamps' many dangers, the villagers had chosen to stay and die along with their homes. Many had already succumbed to the sickness and passed on into the next life, but some still lived. One of which was Ajenna, Floris' Grandmother and the only family he had left.

 

Knowing her fate and understanding Floris wouldn't be able to save her this time, Ajenna lay in her bed with Floris sitting next to her, holding her hand tightly. She had already been infected and it was only a matter of time before she passed on. Floris tried his hardest to fight back his tears but despite his efforts, his tears fell like waterfalls from his eyes as he watched his Grandmother lay on her death bed, just waiting for her to close her eyes for the final time. They had many disagreements with each other over the years, and they rarely saw eye to eye, but losing the only person you could call family was hitting hard and he couldn't help but feel like an utter failure because he couldn't save her. So, he sat there, sobbing quietly, knowing there was nothing he could do.

 

Some time passed and Alvis walked into the room with tears running down his own face. Floris didn't even turn to face him. There was no one else but the three of them...soon to be the two of them. How the two of them had yet to be infected was a mystery to Floris, but he was at the point that he couldn't care less. If anyone were to ask, he'd assume it was due to him and Alvis having a stronger resistance to it due to their young age, but he couldn't be certain.

 

"So...your Grandfather is...?" Floris asked, not even turning to look at his friend.

 

Alvis only nodded, then wiped the tears from his eyes before staring silently at Ajenna, then looking at Floris.

 

"I see. She doesn't have much time left, either. Less than thirty minutes, I'd say." Floris said quietly, his voice a little bumpy with emotion.

 

The two waited quietly and patiently, not so much as saying a single word to one another. Seconds felt like hours and minutes felt like days, and just as Floris was leaning down to grab his backpack, Ajenna slowly opened her eyes.

 

"Fl..or...is?"

 

Floris snapped his head up to see his Grandmother staring at the ceiling, and instantly grabbed her hand and held it tightly, "I'm...I'm here, Grandmother." He said, trying to hide the emotion in his voice.

 

"Is...is Alvis...here...too?" Ajenna asked. Her voice was weak and it was evident she was using the last of her strength to speak to them.

 

"I am," Alvis said as he stepped forward.

 

"Good." Ajenna paused for a moment, then rolled her eyes to look at the two of them, "I want you two to listen to me. These are my final words to the both of you. I've wanted to say this for a long time, but I just couldn't bear the thought of sending my only Grandson away." She smiled weakly, but lovingly at Floris, who was now beside himself with emotion, then continued on, "I should have done this long ago when the two of you grew to be the proper age. You've both become such fine young men and it's time to face what was always coming. The two of you have no future here; you never did, so heed the words of a dying old woman and do as I tell you one last time. I want you to leave the swamp and join the Mages Guild." She smiled at Floris again, "Floris...your skills will prove to be invaluable to the outside world. I believe that in time you will become the best alchemist the world has ever seen. I never told you this before, but your parents were both mages, and I suspect that power resonates inside of you as well."

 

Floris nodded and gripped Ajenna's hand even tighter as she turned her attention to Alvis, "As for you, Alvis, I am uncertain if your family ever possessed such power. Your bloodline has always been a mystery to me and the others. If not, I'm sure you'll find your path. But for now, I want you to go with Floris and see what waits for you beyond the swamp. There's a whole world out there just waiting for the two of you to explore it and I envy you both of your youth. You both have so much potential and it will only come to waste if you stay here. This is my final wish for the two of you. Leave the lives you know behind and become who you are truly meant to be. Find some nice girls and build families of your own. I have many regrets in my life but having the two of you stay here for so long is my biggest regret, but then I suppose you wouldn't be the strong capable lads who stand beside me on my death bed. I wish you both luck in your futures. Th...i...s ...i...s...goo...d...b...y...e..."

 

Floris and Alvis both watched as Ajenna's eyes closed for the last time, both of them sobbing with tears falling down their faces uncontrollably. They waited silently, saying their goodbyes. Then, Floris stood up and walked past Alvis without saying a single word and went to his room where he picked up his backpack and what supplies he had managed to grab. He had written down the recipes for his most powerful potions and poisons in two journals and carried his most basic alchemy supplies in his pack as well. He had set his animals free to give them a chance to survive the sickness. The rest of his room was being left mostly untouched. The papers still covered his walls, his chests still sat where they always had. So many years of research and studying had taken place in this room and it was hard to leave it all behind.

 

Alvis waited outside, his supplies already collected in the backpack he carried on his back. He watched as Floris slowly approached him, dragging his fingers along the walls and taking one long last look at every room. However, when he reached Ajenna's room, he stared at his Grandmothers' body for several long seconds, then quietly whispered, "Goodbye, Grandma." He slowly closed the door to her room, staring at her face for as long as he could until she disappeared behind the door. He made sure it was locked then slowly walked towards Alvis, who was waiting patiently.

 

Without saying a word to each other, they both made their way to the bridge that served as the only exit point for the village, then turned around for one last look at the lives they were leaving behind. Their home and the only place they knew was gone. The lives they knew were over and at the age of only fourteen, they knew they had a long journey ahead of them.

 

"Do you know where the nearest guild is, Floris?" Alvis asked, finally breaking the silence.

 

Floris slowly nodded, "The trader told me the closest one is in a town called Mist City on the Eastern side of Misty Lake. However, I don't know the way there."

 

Alvis sighed heavily and adjusted his backpack over his shoulder as he turned around and started walking, "Well, I guess we'd better get a move-on, then."

 

Floris nodded but stood in place a little longer. A flashback of when he was younger rushed to his mind and he remembered his old mentor who first taught him the basics of alchemy. Even though he was leaving, he would always call this place his true home and silently vowed he would return one day when he was older. He continued looking at the village for another few moments, said his final goodbyes, then turned to follow Alvis, officially leaving the past behind.


Edited by Dalton.T.R, 14 August 2019 - 07:46 AM.


#19 Dalton.T.R

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Posted 14 August 2019 - 07:48 AM

Okay, guys and gals, that's going to be as far as this goes on the H&E site. If you want to continue reading, you'll have to follow me on Wattpad.com where you can read it 100% for free. However, I humbly ask for your opinions on the story and would love to hear some feedback from my fellow NS supporters. 






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