When I was younger I never knew that my life was weird. In my time among humans the things that I considered normal are fantasy now. This became apparent as I now come home, and see my childhood friend Phi. She's running after her Skimmer which is much like a frog, but considerably larger,that has hopped a bit higher than her fence having decided to take a tour around town. She's always been a bit of a ditz, but that's one of the things that makes her lovable. Then again I hadn't seen her in several years. Maybe she's changed.
"Chia, come back!" she hollers after her Skimmer before tripping, and tumbling on the ground... Perhaps she hasn't changed after all. I quickly sprint up and climb onto Chia's back, hooking my legs into the saddle as I trace a symbol of calmness in the air towards the back of the creature's head. Just another trick I've learned away from home.
Phi stops out of breath, and looks up at me wide eyed "Wow! Thanks! I don't think I've seen you around here before! Was that symbology?" She shouts at me rapid fire. I don't know to be offended that she doesn't remember me or take pride at how unrecognizable I am after my years of training. Back when I left I was just an elf who wore sunhats and dressed in pretty dresses. Now I'm in leather armor with a sword at my side like some sort of soldier. My brown hair cut at my shoulders.
I left town as an adult, and in just a short 5 years I've changed so much.. "Well, never thought you'd forget me. It's me, Rey." I laugh calmly, scratching the back of my head before climbing off the Skimmer. Phi's eyes go wide with recognition as she hugs me tight. "I told you I'd become a Hunter. Symbology is par for the course."
"You've changed so much! It's amazing to think it's been five years already, I've had no one to get into trouble with.." She trails off burying her face in my neck as something wet drops on my shoulder, I huge her back, though I keep hold of my tears. I missed her a lot too. The school didn't allow letters to be sent out, and it didn't receive letters either. To be honest I don't know how to feel.
After all, I'm coming back having been expelled from the academy. While I excelled in my studies, didn't fail in any class, even stood up to many tests sadly I made a mistake.
I made a poor choice in the people I associated with, and was expelled for their actions due to that association. "Aria to Rey, aren't the Hunter classes around 8 years long? What are you doing here?"
Tsk, despite being a ditz, that doesn't make her any less observant. Nothing to be ashamed of, just speak the truth "They graduated me early, as you can see, I'm an expert!" Why am I grinning, why am I lying?
"That's amazing! I can't believe it! Have you fought any monsters yet? Saved any king and become rich, and sharing the wealth?" So much for that observation nature.. The title hunter is a bit of a misnomer as we do not strictly hunt. We're a sort of one size fit all adventurer. We fight monsters, and help deal with the local wildlife definitely. We aren't strictly that though as our main training revolves around the dungeons placed on the land.
In our world there are several gods, two of the gods are : Amalia the god of Light, and Zedia the god of Dark. Neither is inherently good, or evil, though Dark seeks to challenge Light wherever it can, and Light seeks to prove itself truthful and right in every way. Throughout our world there are statues to the gods, and at these statues with a simple offering from a simple golden coin to food or water you are put into a dungeon.
In these dungeons there are monsters to hunt, and vasts amount of gold you can earn. They are extremely dangerous, and when the gods first blessed, or as some would say cursed, our world with them many went into them never to come back out. So eventually the Hunter's Association was formed. It's role is to test and regulate these dungeons ensuring that people who go into them will come out alive.
They teach symbology, swordplay, archery, riding, and wizardry to those whom are so gifted. Symbology is the art of using previously made spells designed by wizards known as weavers that change the laws of the world with every spell they cast. Anyone can use symbology, but it is a weaver that makes the spells a symbologist uses. While wizardry itself is forming spells from careful weaving of the threads that make up the universe hence the nickname. Only a very few can become wizards. I became versed in symbology as I lack the potential to be a weaver.
"Not yet.. You see I had to come home first before I could enter a dungeon." Another lie, and soon it'll be obvious I'm lying you may think. Well.. While the lying wasn't intentional, there's a real reason I came home and why I'm lying now.
In my home country the Hunter's Association has no real authority. Anyone can enter a dungeon here, though those who plunder dungeons are looked down on. I know I have the skill to fight monsters, but back in Veva I'd never be allowed to step foot in the dungeons. "When I told my instructor that, I was immediately assigned to come here and explore the dungeons in Andrya!" Lies lies lies..
"Oh my goodness! So important! To think my brother said that you'd get eaten by a dragon or kicked out of the academy!" She laughs poking fun at her brother Pha whilst unknowingly stabbing at my weak spot.
"I guess I proved him wrong, I hope you make money off a bet or something." I laugh to hide that slight bit of hurt, but the harder I laugh the angrier I get. What right did they have to remove me just because of who I made friends with? I'm a better hunter than anyone still there. I'll prove it.
"I uh.. didn't have any money to bet with.." She says a bit sheepishly. She tended to spend money as fast as she got her hands on it so it makes sense that she'd have nothing to bet with "I'm actually in a bad way."
"Bad way? What happened? I thought your family had a large estate, and everything. I mean you still have your Skimmer ranch right?" I ask in a rather concerned tone. Did her family cut her off? Or did something happen?
"Well... It's funny you brought up betting, because my father bet the ranch at a card game.. So now my brother and I work, at the ranch." She says with much shame. My annoyance is starting to rise.. It's plain as day that ditzy-ness runs in her family.
While it's lovable in Phi she at least has common sense the rest of her family doesn't, "... You're kidding, right?"
"Yeah.. I wish I was. You're here now though!" I feel a grin spread across my lips in pride as I now realize that I can be the hero. I'll raid a dungeon, and make enough gold to buy back her family's ranch and home! When I first came home I didn't have a goal, and now I have one in mind.
"Yep! You have a master hunter here now. I'll buy back your skimmer ranch, besides, it's the least I can do for you Phi." When I was in my teens I became an orphan, my father and mother passed away on a trade mission to Veva. They never returned. Phi's family took me in and I grew up wrangling Skimmers, so I've always been pretty athletic.
"Do you really think you could?!" Phi asks excitedly clapping her hands together. "I really can't stand Zan bossing me around!"
"Yep! I'll even head out right now!" I say spinning on my heels ready to explore and find a dungeon. I always knew where a few were ever since I was a kid.
"Hey, take the Skimmer! You know how hard it is to get around without one!" She offers the reigns to me. I guess she plans to hide out the rest of the day as after offering them to me she runs off in the opposite direction of the ranch.
My home is in the country of Andrya, in a small mountain town surrounded by a marsh. The town was named off of an ancient hero named Ariandi. It's hot, muggy, and smells worse the lower you go from the town. Sadly the dungeon is right in the middle of the marsh. A set of stone stair steps heading down right in the middle of nowhere.
I think the goddesses have some sense of humor with the dungeon's location. While it's not illegal to delve into the dungeons the religions in Andrya don't follow the two goddesses, and instead believes in the god Xanxa. When the dungeons dotted the land with the statues of the two goddesses inside it immediately became annoying to everyone to even mention their existence.
Profiting off of them is more than annoying as several view it as heresy. It isn't strictly illegal or taboo, and in fact everyone will happily take the gold. Though if you brag about where that gold came from however most whom previously was enjoying your gold and treasure will probably throw it in your face.
While in the human regions of Veva there are many plains, and horses are the main mode of transit. In Andrya, it's filled with mountain, hills, and plateaus. The land is rough. It'd be impossible to get around on a horse. It's slow to get around on foot. In fact half of this year was spent simply getting back home..
It's during this trip that I realized how strange we are to the outside world. The way we talk, the way we get around, the culture we have.. It's all really strange unless you're born in it. Now isn't the time to think about it though, as I finally spot the marble like stone bordering the stairs downwards to the goddess statue.
I step on the stone with a loud clacking and make my way down, the room is bright, and the goddess depicted is Amalia. That's the reason I came here as the goddess of light's dungeons are easier and more based on riddles and puzzles. Much more safe for the novice adventurer.
The Goddess of the Dark is more focused on traps and combat. She aims to test through strength while the Goddess of Light aims to teach. That said Zedia's dungeons tend to have much more wealth in them as she rewards bravery.
"Well.. Now for an offering.." The dungeon offering determines a lot. The difficulty and the rewards is determined by the value of the item offered. That value is relative to the offering. If a rich man offers a fortune the dungeon will not consider it as valuable as a poor man offering his last coin.
"If I make the offering too paltry, then I won't be able to really help Phi.. but.. I don't have much to give.." I spent most of my gold coming home. All I really have is the armor, my sword, and some food. "I guess I'll put the little food I have left down.. I'll have to forage once I leave sadly.."
I murmur to myself as I place some dried fruit and meat in the bowl at the goddess statue. I look back at the skimmer and cast a calming symbol at it to keep it calm and still for the duration of the dungeon. I then trace a small flameburst symbol into the contents of the bowl igniting it.
The room spins around me a bit, and everything grows a bit brighter. You wouldn't know it if you weren't knowledgeable that you were in a completely different location. My skimmer that I left back at the dungeons entrance is gone, and now behind the statue there is a stairway down.
I head my way down the steps and enter the first room. Upon entering I'm met with a simple puzzle : a riddle. Honestly considering how dangerous these dungeons are made out to be, I expected a more complicated riddle. What flies fowards, and never goes back? "Time." I state with a hint of boredom in my voice to the stone tablet depicting the riddle.
A soft sound of stone on stone fills the room as the door opens. I'm slightly offended that it was that easy as I walk forwards. In the next room there is a stone set of armor animated by glowing sigils. It turns its head to face me as it jabs forward with its spear.
Creatures similar to these were used to train us at the academy so it's simple enough to combat them. While they were used because you didn't need to destroy them to practice fighting them, but this time I do need to destroy them as I trace a symbol of decay in the air. The surface of the automaton begins to crumble a bit as I strike once with my sword after dodging the staff, and cleave it in half, "Easy enough.. I really hope I get enough of a reward to at least get a room at the inn.."
At this rate I'm losing hope in affording a meal, let alone buying back Phi's family ranch as the next door opens and I'm met with a couple more simple automaton and they fall all the same, and I'm met with a set of stairs down and head down. As I head down I'm met with a very large room, stairs, pillars, and several orbs of light. This is a bit more of what I expected when I thought of a puzzle.
Upon circling the room I examined everything in the large room. The light on each pillar is touchable, you can pick it up and throw it, it'll bounce three times then disipate, across the room there are 4 pillars, and on this side of the room, there are 4 pillars, with light. Several corners, and slanted walls, a grate that stops the light with 4 holes you can't aim at... Simple enough. Bounce the light off the walls, and get them on to the pillars on the other side of the room.
It took several attempts but I got the first one, it felt nice and rewarding. I quickly moved to the next pillar, and tried it three times when... the light on the other side of the room went out and came back to the pillar on my side of the room. "There's.. a time limit? Really..?" I regret insulting the dungeon. I'm sorry Goddess of Light..
Eventually through an initial stage of trial and error, then a trial of accuracy, timing and memory, I got the lights on the other side of the room, and a bridge of pure light extended from one side of the room to the other, and I crossed and went to the next room with a sight of relief as I'm now met with an even larger, more open room, with several of the automata around the room turning to look at me and traveling towards me.
Despite the clear sight that this was supposed to be harder, really it just took time. Picking them off one at a time was quite easy, and I disassembled them as I entered another room with a large chest in it with a chest and an inscription on it.
'Number thy foes, thy pillars of light, and this reward shall be thine' ... Really? I call out the numbers it asked for, Eleven, and four, and the chest opened. Inside was actually a surprising amount of golden coins. Not enough to pay off the ranch but, this was extremely easy I can always enter again.
I spent the next 4 hours depositing the reward I received from the dungeon back on to the altar and sacrificing it entering again and again. The dungeon got harder and more complicated each time I entered though nothing I couldn't handle until I finally got to the end, and ended up with 400 gold coins. Well more than what the ranch is worth.
Now to come home and be Phi's hero! I'll be like the hero of some fairytail that saves the princess!
A few thoughts come to my mind on their own of the princess and the hero riding off into the sunset.. Wait, what?