A lone figure on horseback emerged from the forest and stopped at the water's edge. As he dismounted his white steed, a small breeze blew south through the quite wood. The smell of sulfur and brimstone flitted by dancing across the figure's nose. He craned his neck toward the north shaking his head sorrowfully. His hand went to the sword on his hip. The scabbard was a soft sunset orange color with the word "luck" on either side. The pommel was black with a scaled design etched in and an aquamarine in the bottom. The figure patted his steed gingerly on the side, "Well Crystal, it's time to move on." The man pulled a small mirror and a small gold chalice from the horse's saddle. He set the mirror on the ground and filled the chalice with water. He concentrated on the water and it began to bubble. He opened his eyes a bit to see his powers at work. As he began to smile the bubbles started to falter. His eyes slammed shut and his concentration magnified. He poured the now boiling water on the mirror and it slowly formed into a large liquid standing mirror. The young man pressed his hand against the liquid and it instantly turned to ice. After a few moments a second hooded figure appeared in the mirror.
"You've completed your task then, my young apprentice?" the man asked in a broken and wheezing voice.
"Yes, Master." The apprentice fell to one knee. "I've retrieved the shard of the Soul Star. Should I leave it in the usual spot?" under his hood he hid a small smile.
"No," He paused for only a moment to shift his weight. "Not this piece. There is an inn on the other side of the lake. It's called The Southern Swallow. There ask for a women by the name of Allesia. Ask for the Dragon Claw special. Do not fail me, my apprentice." The mirror surface began shimmer and the master's image began to fade.
"It seems that the master wants his stone." The man laughed to his steed. "I hope he wants it more than he wanted the last four crystals." He opened the saddle pouch and put the mirror away and pulled out a white star that was missing its top point. He took the shard he had just recovered and placed it in the missing slot. A small white light began to creep out of the few cracks. It grew brighter and brighter until it flashed violently. The white star was now complete. The young man pulled a thin chain from around his neck. He unclasped it and slipped the chain through a hole in the top point. He put the necklace under his shirt and threw himself up onto Crystal. He dug his boots into his horse and took off. As he looked back one last time a single tear rolled down his face.
As he rounded the bend of the wood the young man arrived at a tall lodge that shot up into the sky. Painted on the sign was a swallow on a branch riddled with the signs of age. The man pushed open the door and stepped through. The front room was empty except a small metalwork table in the center of the room surrounded by a couple small wood chairs. He crossed the room to the counter and promptly propped himself up on his elbow as he leaned on the hard wooden counter top. He rang the bell two or three times until an older gentleman came around the corner. "Can I help ya lad?" The man was in his late thirties or early forties. He had gray hair that formed a ring around his head. He was on the heavier side since the man could clearly see his stomach hanging out of the bottom of his shirt. He was otherwise rather boring and should have blended in to any crowd except he wore a gold band studded with six diamonds. "Yes sir," the man spoke his voice soft and silky. "I'm looking for a woman by the name of Allesia. You wouldn't know where I could find her do you?"
The man behind the bar made a quick glance around the room, looking up and down the halls on either side. "Might be I do. Might be I don't. Who's asking?" The young man looked up and down the halls again and leaned in close to the other man.
"I was sent by the Dawn Raven." The older gentleman instantly changed to a look of pain. He looked around again. "Room 17 sixth floor, knock the following pattern," He knocked once paused, then he knocked three time paused and knocked once more. "Wait for the question 'When do the lilies bloom?' and respond with the answer 'When the Blood Moon falls, and the trolls roam the hills.'" The young man nodded to the gentleman and walked down the left hall. He got to the end of the hall and began his climb up the six flights of stairs. As he reached the door he hesitated then preformed the knock the man downstairs had taught him. A few seconds passed.
"When do the lilies bloom?" For a moment the young man paused then he answered.
"When the Blood Moon falls, and the trolls roam the hills." The wooden door swung open and a red headed girl greeted the young man. He looked the girl up and down. She was young no more than twenty four or five. She was about average height and a bit wider than usual in the shoulders. "Are you Allesia?"
"Yes I'm Allesia." She answered strongly pulling the words from the gut.
"I was told to ask for the Dragon Claw special." Allesia exploded into action and pulled a dagger from her belt. She swung wild reaching for the young man's face. He effortlessly leaned back and dodged the blow. He ducked blow her next swing and threw his left arm and wrapped it around her threw her over his shoulder and then down onto her bed and ran for the door. He bolted for the stairwell and looked back to see Allesia stumbling out of her room. The man snapped with his right hand and summoned a fireball roughly the size of a cauldron and sent it flying, blasting a hole in the wall at the end of the hall. He jumped through the newly made hole and brought his arms in close gaining speed, he sprouted wings made of pure fire and landed softly on the ground. The young man pursed his lips, put his middle and index finger to his lips, and let out high low high whistling pattern. Crystal came charging around the corner and the young man shoved himself on to the horse as she came galloping past. Before they got far the young man turned and tossed a single playing card into the ground where he landed.
Several hours passed before Allesia finally came to. All around her was smoldering wood and debris from her last fight. She stood up and staggered over to the hole that the young man had made. She saw no obvious signs of him so she made her way outside. When she got down to the side of the lodge with the hole in it, she saw a playing card stuck into the ground. She picked up the card and read the two words aloud. "Sorin Evinzer." She could only shake her head as she read the name again. "How could I forget your face brother? Better yet how could you forget mine?" Allesia shook her head again and whistled a similar high low high pattern the Sorin had performed and an all-black steed came out of the stable lodges. She mounted the horse and followed the other set of hoof prints in the ground into the sunset.
Sorin propped himself up against the tree and rubbed his eyes. He lazily slid off the branch he was in, and landed gently on the soft sand of the beach. The soft call of seagulls drifted across Sorin's ears. He whistled his high low high pattern, but with much less urgency then before. A large white portal opened up out in the sea and Crystal came trotting playfully to Sorin. "Hey girl," He pet her gently and walked back to his pack. He pulled a circular rubber brush with small nubs. He brushed her up and down several times before he pulled out a hair brush and began to run the teeth through Crystal's tail and mane. "That was a close call Crystal." He put the brush away and pulled out a small hand pick. He lifted her back left hoof and continued their conversation. "You'd think she'd recognize her own brother, but oh well at least she is all right." He sighed and moved on to the next hoof. "Guess it's time to return to our real master." Sorin smiled at the thought of seeing Kain and his best friend Hiro. "Guess you'll be glad to finally relax too." At this the horse shook its head up and down for a few seconds. When Sorin finished the last hoof he saddled Crystal and jumped on her back. Concentrating he focused his energy until his body began to glow a bright and blinding red. He thought of the base he was returning to, and then put his right arm out, his palm open and facing the sun. "Hear me Master Vulren and grant me the passage I seek to the Silver Riot Academy." The red energy began to flow off of Sorin and formed a large portal to the academy. As he neared the portal he leaned down to Crystal's right ear and whispered to her, "Time to go home girl." The two stepped through the portal.
Sorin arrived at the stables around dusk. He un-tacked Crystal and threw her in her stall. He was walking the grounds and was headed toward the large castle like structure. He rounded the last turn and was stopped by a man who was in his early thirties. "Finally decided to come home Sorin?" The man asked jovially.
"Yea Crystal missed home." Sorin laughed, "And besides I was running low on funds." He grinned from ear to ear at this comment while the other man simply laughed. As he continued past he turned around for a brief moment. "Oh yea Joshua," Sorin pulled a small green orb from a little orange pouch and tossed it to the man. "Rissa sends her love." As Sorin entered the Silver Riot Academy he was overcome with a sense of joy. He made his way to the back of the foyer and stopped when he arrived at the portrait of one of the four founders. He looked around and saw no one. He felt the bottom left corner until he heard a soft click. He stepped back as the portrait swung open. He climbed into the tunnel behind it and closed the entrance. He silently made his way down the corridor until he arrived at a dead end. He took his left hand and placed it on the left wall. As he concentrated his energy his hand became enveloped in a red glow. He cupped his hand as if grabbing a door knob and turned. The brick wall swung open and Sorin stepped out of the tunnel. He looked over and saw Hiro still asleep in his bed. Sorin climbed in the bed nearest the portrait and laid down staring at the stars on the ceiling. He formed a tiger pattern like he had so many times before, made a small wish, and dozed off.
"Wake up you bum." Sorin fell out of his bed and on to the floor causing a large thud. He rubbed his head as he looked up to see an out stretched hand. He swatted it away and stood up. "I see your visit with Rissa didn't teach you any manners."
"Oh back off Hiro I didn't get in till late last night." The two boys stared at each other for a few moments the intensity building. "Meet you in the training room. First one hit losses." The two boys nodded went their separate ways. Sorin made his way down the corridor to the dining hall. As he ate breakfast other members greeted him with kindness. Most of the younger students hustled about running their daily errands as the hall began to liven. Sorin looked around and keeping a straight face as he noticed that numbers were down form before. He must have really over done it in the last village if so many soldiers were out investigating. He left and made his way to the inner-most tower. He stopped and whispered into the ear of an all-black dragon statue. The wall opposite the statue began to come apart and quickly made his way through. As the brick wall closed Sorin began his ascent up the spiral staircase. He took his time dreading the earful he was going to get from the Silver Riot Master. Sorin hadn't seen him in over a year. Last time he'd seen the Master he'd gotten chewed out for not keeping his power in check. He'd always hated that he wasn't able to control his power all the time. He'd gotten better with age, but still sometimes the energy inside would just flow out of him. Most students in the Academy were able to fully control their energy by the age of sixteen, but some like himself and Hiro seemed to over flow with energy. When Sorin looked up he realized that he was already at the Master's door. He hesitated for a brief moment, and then opened the door. "Master you called for me?" He looked much older than the last time Sorin saw him. His hair was almost all gray at this point and he was beginning to bald in front. He wore the signature Riot Master plate mail. The breast plate bore an all-black dragon engulfed in an all-white flame, the sigil of the Academy. His office was actually rather small; despite Master Kain begin the second in command of the entire order. The only thing that really stuck out about the office was the all-white sword hung behind the desk. Sorin must have spaced out because Kain was livid with Sorin.
"Do you hear me Sorin? You've got to keep better control it's hard, but you've got to try." Kain was no longer upset in fact he almost seemed disappointed in Sorin. Sorin had always respected Kain after all he was the only reason he was given a chance. The other six masters had wanted to just toss Sorin out when he was young. "I'm just looking out for you Sorin. Maybe you could hold off on your next adventure ok." Sorin hung his head, "Dismissed, oh and Sorin, you should hurry I believe your rematch with Hiro starts soon." Sorin looked at the clock and smiled.
"Thanks Master Kain." He hugged the old man and ran out of the room.
A large ball of bright orange fire fell from the sky and nearly hit Hiro dead on. Hiro looked beyond pissed and responded by shooting several ice spikes back at Sorin. Sorin dodged and snapped a whip of fire and pulled Hiro out from under himself. Sorin rushed across the yard and unsheathed his blade. Steel met bitter steel as the two blades rang out in a harmonic note. The boys leapt away and Hiro launched another assault. Sorin weaved out of the blade's reach over and over then launched another fire ball attack at Hiro from point blank range. An explosion went off directly in front of Hiro. Instinctively Hiro glowed blue and summoned a huge bubble of water to protect him. When the dust cloud settled, Hiro was nowhere in sight. Sorin blasted himself high into the air just as a giant spike of ice came out of the ground. Sorin looked down just in time to notice a torrent of water flood the arena. His body continued to glow red as he concentrated turning his aura into a huge set of six wings. As he hung above the pool of water he searched franticly for any signs of Hiro. Several moments passed before a huge leviathan like monster shot up from underneath Sorin. Sorin flew down to the monster's eye level and standing in the middle of its head was Hiro. "Weren't kidding when you said you wanted a rematch were you Hiro" Hiro responded with three words.
"I will win!" Hiro lurched forward with the monster. Sorin narrowly dodged the strike as he shot upwards. So you really want to do this again Hiro. Sorin dodged the series of strikes that followed and began to glow a furious red. After dodging another series of blows, Sorin dove in head first into the water. He plunged into the water and immediately began to focus his energy and the water around him instantly came to a boil and evaporated into the air. As the water quickly left the stadium a vibrant blue color blinded the entire building. When the light dimmed down Hiro was clad head to toe in full plate armor. Hiro just stared at Sorin as a similar red light enveloped him and he emerged wearing an all-black stealth suit. "I WILL WIN!" Hiro drew his blade and charged across the field. He swung the blade overhead. Sorin barely had time to dodge the blow. He's faster than before. Hiro made an arcing side swipe. Sorin felt the air move from the swing when he dodged. Sorin completely dodged the thrust that Hiro followed with. Taking a chance Sorin went into the offensive swinging at Hiro from behind. Hiro spun on his heels and blocked the blow with the flat of his blade. Sorin reeled back as he felt the shock wave of clashing steel. He's stronger too. What other surprises could he have waiting? Sorin fought back the pain numbing his arms and feigned a left sided strike at Hiro's shoulder, then reversed it at the last second spinning on his heel while letting the blade drop, pulling it up at the last second landing a solid blow on Hiro's ankle. Hiro took a few steps back and looked Sorin dead in the eye. The blinding blue light engulfed Hiro again. When it dimmed this time Hiro was clad in the same kind of black stealth suit as Sorin. With blinding speed Hiro crossed the arena, appeared behind Sorin, and hit him with the pommel of his blade on the back of his head. "I win." Everything went dark as Sorin blacked out.