Author's Note: It's been a while since I've actively written anything, but after several changes in my life I'm finding myself with more free time. I used to write a lot several years ago, mostly fanfiction, and this is my first original story in a long time. As you can see I'm not exactly perfect when it comes to grammar and sentence structure, but I try the best I can to make sure I get things across in an understandable manner and am constantly trying to approve. So I ask that you stay with me through any mistakes!
This is a story I've wanted to do for a long time. A tale that starts off small but eventually gives way to a great adventure. I'm used to doing more subdued and darker stories, so this is something I really wanted to have fun with it. Hopefully I don't end up biting off more than I can chew and overwhelming myself, but I will try to update constantly!
Enjoy this adventure in the world of Lemuria and follow the story of Lilien as she grows and explores this grand world! Please read and review when you can. Any criticism helps!
"I've never seen it hit so badly before...How curious."
A lonely wind blew through a quiet valley as two figures stood at a distance. They were overlooking a village that was nestled quietly amongst the hills. Even though it was mid-day no sounds could be heard from the village. Not the sounds of men and women working or children playing. Not the sounds of animals frolicking or machines running. It was completely silent, as if someone had covered the entire valley in a veil that cut it off from the outside world. The two figures looked down into the valley stoically. One was a tall woman with black hair. The traveler's cloak she wore looked out of place on her shapely figure and youthful face, though she seemed used to being outside rather than cooped up somewhere.
"Should we look for survivors again?"
She questioned her companion. The other figure standing next to her was far shorter. Only about the height of a young child. Their cloak was wrapped more tightly around their body, hood up to hide any of their features from onlookers. Despite the smaller figure's size, however, the voice that answered was unmistakably the deep bass of a grown man.
"No need. If anyone could still move they would have left a long time ago to avoid falling ill as well."
The short figure's voice was serious yet lacking much empathy towards those he was talking about. Rather it was the voice of a scholar that was disappointed in the results of an experiment even if several people had been hurt in the process. In his eyes there was no point lamenting over something that had already happened. It was time to move and instead look for a solution to prevent another thing from going wrong. By the way the woman didn't argue with him it was clear that he was the one calling the shots.
"Come on, we have more places to explore. If another epidemic like this has hit somewhere else then we'll have to speed up our research."
The small figure said as he turned around and began to head away from the view of the village. The woman lingered for a moment longer, a look of regret crossing her face as she looked down into the valley at the quiet village. After a moment she too turned to leave to follow her short companion. With the two of them gone all signs of life also left the valley.
Down in the village, various figures could be seen in the streets. They remained still and unmoving, like statues that had been dragged their and posed by an actual person. Men and women. Children and animals. Even though the village was full of people...not a single one of them were moving. Instead they were frozen in place. From their expressions, happy and excited, peaceful and relaxed, it looked like they had been going about their day just fine until the moment time had seemingly frozen.
Not a single person moved.
Not a single noise was made.
Within the village time was standing still as the village inhabitants remained frozen in place...
The Alchemist and the Swordsman
"I'm not perfect...But I'll do the best I can!"
Lemuria, a land that has flourished over hundreds of years thanks to the combined efforts of mankind and the spirits of Magic that inhabit the world. Aided by elemental spirits found in nature and with determination in their hearts, the people changed this once barren land into the luscious and prospering civilization that it is today . Over time the inventions of man were further advanced by the discovery of the wondrous art known as Alchemy, and combined with Magic, the land continued to grow even more. As civilization expanded and people explored more areas, three major nations rose to become the dominant powers of the land.
Koyo in the North. A cold yet beautiful nation that always seems to be at the end of Autumn and the beginning of Winter, but never tips too heavily towards either. A place where the people are especially in tune with Magic and the center of spiritual beliefs.
Gilia in the South. An industrial nation known for its stony environment full of mountains and canyons. A place where the people have focused on the wonder of science technology in order to advance and prosper.
Of the three major nations that make up the land of Lemuria, the nation of La Gius is the one that has flourished the most over the years. What was once a poor country located inland of the continent, it quickly grew to an impressive size after the discovery of Alchemy, allowing the grand capital of Auricula to be created. Under the guidance of a council founded under regulating the use of Alchemy, the capital of Auricula is known for producing some of the greatest inventions and resources in the entire land. While they have grown considerably and the things they contribute are valued, the rapid growth of the capital has caused them to have a strained relationship with its neighbors, where outside La Gius the art of Alchemy is seldom used and relied on.
The capital of Auricula is a bustling city that is home to many businesses and merchants. Among these are the highly valued Alchemists; People who have dedicated their lives to the science of Alchemy to help understand and solve the mysteries of the world. With permission from the Alchemist Guild, these Alchemists are able to open up their own workshops where they can sell their creations and services to the people of the land in exchange for funding to continue their research. It is this cycle of business that allows new advances to be discovered every day. It is because of this that a certain pace has been set among the people of the capital as they go about their lives in peace.
However, for an Alchemist, things aren't always so simple. The thirst for knowledge and discovery is something that all Alchemists share as they seek to unravel the mysteries of the world. Though taking jobs and requests is just one of their many duties, they also engage in their own activities outside of business. The world of Lemuria is vast and mysterious, home to many unexplored regions and ancient ruins. It is within these places that the materials and resources used to fuel the research of an Alchemist can be found, the rare ingredients unobtainable in normal locations. For this reason Alchemists often venture out into the world with the aid of experienced Adventurers to help protect them from the ferocious beasts that prowl in the wild. The risk is great, but for an Alchemist, it is a wall that must be overcome for the sake of their research.
Valuable materials and resources.
And a limitless thirst for knowledge...
All of these things are what drive the people of the land to try their best every day. Alchemists are always working hard and doing what they can to unravel the mysteries of the world.
But it's not an easy path.
In the capital of Auricula, the young owner of a small Alchemy workshop is about to realize just how hard that path is...and the many mysteries and wonder that fill the land.
"Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmmm!"
In a small workshop nestled snugly between two buildings on a quiet street, a cheerful voice could be heard humming happily from within. The street it was located on was away from the prime locations near the center of the city where the market traffic brought in more customers. In fact, if one had not heard of it beforehand it was unlikely they would come across it unless by accident. Despite being small, it wasn't a bad looking shop. From the outside it was easy to see that the owner kept up with the building's upkeep. The area in front of the shop was swept and clean, the windows were washed and the shutters were dusted, and everything about it gave a comforting, cozy feeling. Above the door was a weathered sign with hand painted letters on it in a pale white.
The inside of the workshop carried the same cozy feeling that the outside impression gave. Shelves were stacked neatly with various items and jars on display for sale. The front counter was free of clutter aside from several curios to attract attention. It may not have had the grandeur or intrigue of the bigger workshops in the city, but by walking in one couldn't deny the comfortable feeling of the place.
From the back room the cheerful voice from before continue to sound out peacefully.
A young girl stood in front of a furnace with an eager expression. Even though the heat from coming from the furnace was making her sweat, she continued to smile with confidence. She looked to still be quite young. Not a child anymore but barely a teenager. Certainly not old enough to be running a workshop by herself. Her brown hair was tied into a high ponytail on the right side with a blue ribbon while two longer bangs hung down to her shoulders, also tied off at the ends with blue ribbons. The hooded, pink top she wore was trimmed in a darker red with wide sleeves that almost covered her wrists. It was cropped just below her chest, showing off her midriff and bellybutton. Just below her bellybutton her waist was covered by two cloths of orange and blue with white lines running through them in a spiraling pattern. From there a pink sarong hung down almost like a tail, while a short skirt of darker red covered her thighs, outfit finally ending in a pair of cloth and leather high sandals of matching red and trimmed in gold. Several pieces of jewelry and other accessories only added to her youthful image.
In each hand the young girl held several objects. In her left hand was what looked to be several round, egg-like objects. In the other hand was a flat looking cloth that appeared to be made from the skin of some animal. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she looked into the furnace. Things had been going well so far but with Alchemy you could never tell how things would turn out until you got the final product. On a table behind her was an open book with various recipes written within. The one she had picked had seemed like an easy one...now it was time to see if her skills and study paid off.
"Let sit for 3 minutes and then add the third and fourth materials. Right!"
Alchemy was almost like cooking. You had to follow a certain recipe and add the materials in in the right order and at the right time. Get even one step wrong and you might end up with something totally different if the recipe didn't fail outright. She had tried on her own with trial and error before but that only got her so far. If she really wanted to make her way in the city and keep the workshop running then she would have to start producing really solid results. It was kind of scary in a way...but also exciting!
"Okay, Lili, you can do this!"
Psyching herself up one last time she took a step forward as she prepared to add the final materials. First, the dried skin of a wild boar. Then the eggs of a snow dodo. If done right then the product that came forth should be exactly like what was written in the book. With a deep breath she carefully started to extend her right hand...
A sudden sound caused her to stumble and drop the boar hide in quicker than she expected to. The result was immediate and black smoke instantly belched from the raging furnace. Someone had entered the workshop and set off the alert bell. A customer? She wasn't closed so it wasn't impossible, but she usually got so little customers that she hadn't been expecting any. While trying to get the raging furnace under control she called out to whoever had walked in.
"I'll be right, ahhh! I'll be right with you!"
Her slightly panicked shouts reached the person who had just walked in. They looked around at the various items on display before making their way to the front counter. At the sight of black smoke flowing out from the back room they raised one brow slightly but otherwise said nothing. Several minutes later the young girl stumbled out of the back room with soot clinging to her clothes and skin. She coughed several times as she made her way to the front desk to greet her customer.
"Cough, hack! Welcome to...eck! Welcome to Edelweiss!"
Blinking a few times to clear her watery eyes, she looked to the person standing on the other side of the counter. A young man with clear blue eyes. He didn't look like he was in his twenties just yet but was maybe only a few years away. The bangs from his brown hair hung down between his eyes but cut shorter in the front so they wouldn't obscure his vision. Even though he was young his body looked well-built and in shape. No doubt it had to do with the large sword he carried at his waist. The rest of his outfit consisted of a pale white shirt with pieces of hardened leather sewn onto it around the shoulders and undersides for protection and a dark pair of trousers with similar protection. Instead of just boots he wore a pair of steel greaves to match with a silver arm-guard on his left arm. It was an outfit made with functionality and purpose, not style. The only extra accessory aside from his sword belt being a red sash that hung down from the front of his belt. Just looking at him the girl could tell he wasn't from around here. He carried the distinct air of a traveler, though from where she couldn't tell exactly.
The young man remained silent for a moment as he looked at her, perhaps wondering about her smoky appearance. His expressonw as blank and unreadable, making it impossible to tell what he was thinking. Instead of being intimidated, however, the girl continued look at him with a smile. A customer was a customer, and she got so few of them she couldn't be picky! Finally the young man spoke. A gentle and calm voice that seemed to be wiser than his youthful appearance would suggest.
"This is an Alchemy Workshop, yes?"
It was a simple question from a person only wanting to know if they had arrived in the right place. It wasn't a strange thing to ask. Alchemy Workshops didn't exactly advertise to the entire city. Their reputation was based solely on word of mouth and the contributions of the owner. So for a small shop like this not to have been heard of wasn't surprising. She supposed she should have felt bad about that, but everyone had to start somewhere. Nodding eagerly she answered his question with a bright smile.
"Yes it is! This is Edelweiss and I'm the owner, Lilien Weibe! What can I help you with today?"
Her smile radiated her desire to help out any way she could. For an Alchemist, their financial support came directly from the requests from clients. It cost money to keep a workshop running so every customer was important no matter how small their request may be. Without customers an Alchemist Workshop couldn't thrive so for that reason Lili was already determined to do what she could to the best of her ability. The young swordsman looked at her silent, not saying anything. His expression remained in its same blank mask. Could it be that he didn't think she was the owner? It was a little uncommon honestly. For someone so young to own their own workshop was almost unheard of. However, after several more moments, the young man reached to his side and slowly pulled out his sword. Lili's eyes widened slightly once it was out of its sheath.
A beautiful and well made blade of cold, blue steel. The handle was bound in black leather with a rounded pommel at the end. Every inch of it exuded expert swordsmithing. It was the perfect blade...at least, it would have been had it not been broken off at the center.
The young man placed the sword on the table gently, allowing Lili to get a better look at it. Her eyes lit up at how well-made the blade was despite being broken. It must have cost a fortune and she imagined that the metal used to make it would have been enough to fund her workshop for several years.
She couldn't help but say as she reached a finger out to trace the cool steel of the flat of the blade. She felt a tingle run up her finger but she was sure it was just her imagination. As she marveled over the blade she almost missed it when the young man spoke again.
"Can you fix it? I was told that an Alchemist might be able to help me."
At his words she looked up with surprise. Normally when a weapon broke the first person you sought out was a blacksmith, not an Alchemist.
"Fixing a sword? Have you tried asking a blacksmith?" She brought up her thoughts with a tilt of her head. Auricula may have been known for its Alchemists, but there were plenty of expert blacksmiths in the city as well. The young man shook his head slowly as he answered.
"Every blacksmith in the city has told me the same thing. I've had them all examine it and they reached the same conclusion. With the materials needed and Alchemist would be better suited to repairing it."
At his answer Lili returned her eyes back to the blade. Even with her limited experience she could tell that the metal used to make the blade wasn't normal. Certainly not a simple metal. If so then a blacksmith would have had no problem repairing it. So to recommend he seek out an Alchemist meant that it was made from a material that wasn't readily available to a normal person.
"What have other Alchemists said?"
She asked as she placed her fingers on the blade once more, trying to get a better feel for it. The young man shook his head again.
"This is the first workshop I've come across."
Lili's heart jumped. For someone to stumble across her first made her happy. Finishing a job that not even the best blacksmiths in the city could do would surely help her shop's reputation. But along with her happiness came a sense of dread as well. If the blacksmiths couldn't fix it with all their knowledge how was she supposed to fair any better? She had only been on her own for about year now and was far from being considered decent. For all intents and purposes she was still a beginner herself.
"Uhm...could you tell me a bit more about it? What's it made from? Where did you get it?"
Without knowing anything she would have no idea where to start. She hadn't agreed to take on the job yet but if there was anything she could do to help then she would. The young man was silent for a moment like he didn't want to answer the questions but eventually opened his mouth.
"The materials...I'm not sure. Where I got it from...it was passed along to me by someone."
His answers were vague like he didn't trust her enough to answer fully. Lili looked back up to him to try and get something from his expression but was just met with those calm, blue eyes. Her brows furrowed as she placed a finger to her chin in contemplation.
She mused to herself as she thought. There were many books in the workshop on different subjects and from different regions. Surely one of them had something about swords and repairing them through Alchemy in it. Alchemy could also be used to make weapons, after all, so it wasn't impossible. The problem was the amount of work that would have to be done. She would have to find out what it was made from, where to find the material or how to make it, and then actually repairing the blade itself. A skilled Alchemist would have trouble with it, so for her it seemed like a distant goal. Would she actually be able to do it...?
"Can you fix it?"
The young man's voice caused her to snap out of her thoughts. She looked up at him with a difficult expression. She grappled with her feelings for a moment before answering slowly.
She answered truthfully. The young man's expression didn't change but he shifted slightly, like he had already prepared himself to be rejected. Seeing this Lili raised her hands and panicked slightly as she spoke quickly.
"Don't get me wrong, I would love to help! It's just...to be honest, I'm still pretty new at this myself. If my master were here I'm sure he would be able to do it right away, but he left about a year ago so I've been on my own trying to run the workshop."
Had it been that long already? A year ago when her master had suddenly told her to watch over the place before vanishing one day. She hadn't heard from him since and had been on her own. Running workshop was tough, especially since she was still technically in training. For a year she had managed to scrape by with the money and materials her master had left behind but those were running out so soon she would have only herself to rely on. And with how few customers she got things weren't looking good. Money aside, getting materials for Alchemy wasn't easy either. One had to venture out into the land to gather their own materials which could be dangerous with the many beasts and monsters running around. Normally Alchemists hired bodyguards and Adventurers to protect them as they gathered, but she didn't even have enough money to do that. The materials needed to repair this sword were certainly not something she could get easily and might even require her to travel to uncharted or dangerous lands. Something like that couldn't be done alone and she barely had any resources to spare.
But did that mean she would give up?
Of course not.
"I can't guarantee I'll be able to fix it right away, but if I spend some time researching I'm sure I can find something. I'm the first workshop you've visited so I would hate to turn you away without trying. So If you can wait...please give me a chance!"
Lili looked to the young man with a serious expression, fists clenched tightly and a fire burning in her eyes. It was youthful determination and optimism. The look of one who was fully dedicated to trying their best.
"I'm not perfect...but I'll do the best I can!"
Lili declared with confidence. For an Alchemist, the first step was important. Everything int he world had an order to it and a beginning. For her this could be her true beginning as an Alchemist. She looked to the young man with that determination, silently hoping that he wouldn't just take his sword and walk out. She was asking a lot. For him to trust her for no reason when he could ask someone more skilled and able was a heavy order. The air between them seemed suffocating as she waited for his answer. With those blue eyes he looked at her evenly but she wasn't backing down. Right here she was showing him exactly how determined she was to help. After what seemed like an eternity, he spoke.
"Can you promise you'll stay true to your word? No matter how long it takes, will you repair my sword?"
Lili nodded eagerly.
"Yes! I'll do whatever I can no matter how long it takes! I promise!"
She answered without hesitation. Whatever the request, it was an Alchemist's job to satisfy their client. To improve the lives of those around the land was the motto of Auricula's Alchemists. It had nothing to do with her workshop being big or small. This was something she had resolved herself to do from the beginning. Edelweiss may have had a rocky start since her master left but it didn't have to continue that way.
Lili continued to hold the young man's gaze. Neither of them spoke until finally, the young man nodded.
"Very well. I will entrust it to you then, Lilien Weibe."
She blinked. Even though she was so fired up she hadn't expected him to relent so easily. Had he seen her determination? Before she could celebrate he spoke again.
"My name is Ranun Schweizer. I've traveled from Koyo in search of someone who can repair my blade. If you say that you can do it then I shall trust you."
Lili's eyes sparkled as the young man revealed his name and where he came from. She knew he wasn't from around here! And from Koyo too! Her demeanor relaxed from it's previous determination to one of eagerness and excitement.
"So, Ran! I'll do the best I can so just leave everything to me!"
She felt like dancing. Her first big job since taking over the workshop. Things were finally looking up. She was so excited that she almost forgot the matter of pay. Even if she wanted to help out she still had to make a living, after all.
"Oh, that reminds me! Since I won't be able to repair it right away I can't ask for compensation until then."
She deflated slightly. That was right, she couldn't ask for pay until the job was actually done. That set things back a bit. She had planned to use the money to help start funding her research on the sword, but now she couldn't even rely on that. If she could at least go out to gather her own materials that would help, but without any protection that would be hard. Just as she was starting to wonder what she was going to do, Ran shook his head slowly.
"To merely sit around while you work would not sit well with me. Anything I can do to help in the meantime would be preferable."
At his words, Lili perked up again. Her eyes went between Ran and his broken sword still on the counter as an idea sparked in her mind.
"You're a swordsman, right?"
Obviously he wouldn't care so much about getting the sword repaired if he wasn't planning to use it. And from his outfit and body it was clear he was used to fighting. Ran nodded in response to her question.
"My sword being broken may hinder my ability some, but I can assure I'm still perfectly capable of holding my own in combat."
Lili's eyes lit up again. This was turning out to be perfect! Leaning forward so far that she almost fell over the counter she smiled widely.
"That's great! Since it may be some time before I can actually repair your sword and I'll need to explore places and gather materials, having someone to escort me would be perfect!"
Settling back down on the other side of the counter she rubbed the back of her head nervously as she stuck out her tongue.
"I can't use Magic or anything and I'm not very strong, so going outside of the city is pretty dangerous. But if you could help me then I'll be able to gather materials and work harder until I can find a way to fix your sword."
She explained. Magic was something that you had to have a talent for and she had none. She wasn't strong enough to fight on her own either. It was for this reason that many Alchemists needed bodyguards when they left the city. She couldn't afford to hire one before, but with this arrangement it looked like she could work something out with Ran. She looked to him with sparkling eyes as she waited for his response.
"If that's what you're asking of me, then I have no objections."
Lili jumped into the air.
"Yes! That's perfect!"
Ran watched silently as she continued to celebrate. Her dancing seemed like it would go on for minutes but after a bit she calmed down though there was still an excited look on her face as she faced Ran once more.
"We should get started right away!"
Before he could protest, Lili ran into the back room which had stopped belching smoke sometime during their conversation. There was the sound of several things being moved around and stuff hitting the floor before Lili emerged again. When she came back a white bag was slung around her waist and she was holding a long wooden staff. The staff curved at the end in the shape of an "S". Withing the middle a blue orb was attached that seemed to swirl like it was made of water even though it was solid. Though she had said she couldn't use Magic it looked like the staff a Mage would carry. She was still covered in soot but was so eager to go that she didn't seem to care. Ran's brow raised slightly, his first sign of a reaction since they had met. Her eagerness was...surprising to say the least. Reaching out he took his sword from the counter and looked at the broken blade for a moment before returning it to its sheath. He didn't know if Lili had been exactly what he was looking for when he came to Auricula...but it looked like they were working together now.
Lili quickly came from behind the counter with a spring in her step as she headed towards the door. When she had said "right away" she had meant it literally. With nothing to protest Ran began to follow her but she stopped suddenly.
"Oh, that reminds me!"
Turning around she raised her staff as she called out.
"Tulpen! Let's go!"
As she spoke there was a flash of light from in front of the staff. Ran watched as the light cleared to reveal a small shape floating in the air. What looked like a round, blue bird had appeared. Its body was translucent like water, yet like the orb in Lili's staff it seemed to hold a solid shape somehow. Ran recognized it. Everyone in Lemuria knew what something like that was. A Spirit. A being born from the natural Magic of the land. By making a pact with one a person would be granted their help and powers to call upon at will. He hadn't expected someone like Lili would have made a pact with a Spirit. It was normal for those in Koyo where he grew up where Magic was more prevalent, but it looked like Auricula had started to catch on as well.
Tulpen chirped several times as it floated around Lili before settling on a place near her shoulder. With a bright smile she looked back at Ran as she felt the fire of determination flaring up again.
"Now then...let's go!"
With a happy cheer the two exited the small workshop. Lili began to hum to herself again as they made their way down the streets of the city towards the gates.
"I feel...that this is the start of something exciting"
Author's Note: Introductions aren't really my strong point. I'm more used to doing exposition through character interaction and dialogue. The next chapter will expand on things more, especially some terms that were kind of mentioned in passing. So please look forward to it!