Awakening | Act 1, Chapter 7: Beyond The Grass

I’ve been busy with finishing up school and doing my last exams. Now that I only have a single final exam left to study for, I’ll be able to dish out more writing.

“Your wounds!” screamed Jin. Lance chuckled at Jin, finding the fact that the wizards were so doubtful to be quite hilarious. A quick thought popped in his mind, and he began to wonder whether his intellect as a scholar allowed him to find the situation humorous. Lance quickly hid his incoming chuckle by forming a light smile.

“They’re healing! N-No way!” Jin brushed his hands through his hair, pushing the streaks of black hair in front of his bangs aside. It was unreal to his eyes, but even without hair blocking his view, what he saw was no different. Scarlett’s bruises faded away. Her cuts began to close up, leaving only coagulated blood behind.

“You, you!” Jin pointed aggressively at Lance, making a hideous face of rejection. “You witch! Voodoo master! Dark wizard!” Lance just smiled at the insults hurled at him. It was a similar feeling that he himself once felt.

“What did I tell ya? These simple healing potions work wonders. How about you chug down the one in your hand, while I give the rest of these to your comrades?”
Jin scowled at Lance, before chugging down his vial of pink liquid. Instantly, he felt relief surge through his body, as his own wounds alongside his doubt began to miraculously fade away.

Lance began to administer the vials to each of the unconscious wizards. Carefully tilting their heads as he poured the liquid down their mouths. He went down the column of bodies, laid against the rough gravel. First Apollo, then Vega, then Julius. Kaladin and Kaleigh followed after, with Joyce and Asura being the last.

“All done. They should regain consciousness soon enough.” The tone of confidence in Lance’s voice eased Scarlett even more. Knowing the wonders that the potion worked on her, calmed her mind. She only hoped that Jin would be privy to this discovery.

“What’s in the potions that cause the healing?” Scarlett asked.

“Magic.” Lance answered with a smug. “Well, magic, alongside herbs, and other medicinal plants. Potion making is a complicated process. Even making these basic regenerative potions takes a lot of practice.”

“So it’s not just mixing ingredients in a pot?”

“Most of it is, but the precision and combination of ingredients is important. One less herb added to the concoction, and this lovely potion here,” Lance held up the vial to Scarlett. “Would wound up giving you a nasty stomach ache.”

“One misstep huh…”

“Oh yes. That’s all it takes! But if you become quite experienced, you can become a force to be reckoned with through potions alone! Potions that can explode into a burst of magic energy, or burst into flames that rival those of phoenix magic! It truly is a wonderful thing. As a scholar, it’s imperative that I engage in such studies, but of course information is so limited in this world…”

“How so? Our village had plenty of books and scriptures from merchants that would trade us from time to time.”

“You see, books on alchemy are always held by alchemists themselves, and almost never reach the public. So learning is difficult. I do admire those who can make complicated potions on the fly.”

“I still don’t get it.” said Jin. “How can potions rival magic and weapons? If someone tosses a potion, I could just blast it away or cut it with my sword.”

“Well, I suppose you’ll have to encounter a potion-user yourself if you want that question answered. But take my word for it.” Lance ended the conversation with a bright goofy smile. Jin waved him off, and looked into the vastness of the water.

Just what are we going to do now?

As Jin was lost in thought, and Scarlett was still absorbed in Lance’s potion-crafting spiel, the whirling sound of charging magic energy broke the silence in the area. Lance stepped back and aligned his legs to shoulders, whilst summoning a swirl of yellow and white energy on both of his palms. He aimed it forward, towards where the wizards were lying unconscious.

Jin and Scarlett looked at Lance, alarmed. Then to where he was staring. The two immediately ran towards Vega, as he stretched and awoke from his slumber. “

“Welcome back man!” Jin yelled, before embracing his friend. Scarlett curled her arms around the two, joining in on the hug. The three of them turned their heads to face Lance. He was still on guard, yet his eyes were different. No longer possessing that dominating glare, his eyes looked as if he’d seen something horrible. A sight so frightening, that left him frozen as he remained battle ready.

“Hey cockshot are you okay? Is there another enemy?” asked Jin. He looked behind him and scanned the area. Deserted and torn down, with not a single enemy in sight.

“Heh. Interestingly enough, there is no enemy.” Sweat rolled down Lance’s cheek. “I’m sure you younglings are too inept to possess this skill, so here’s a little sneak peak at your future abilities. Mages like you and me, can sense the magic auras of other people, and every mage possesses an aura themselves.

“Alright that sounds cool and all, but can you get to the point.”

Lance grit his teeth, and swallowed a mouthful of spit. “Alright. What I’m getting at is, magic auras are a good way to gauge your opponent’s magical strength in comparison to your own. As your auras clash, if a wizard is stronger than you, you should feel an overwhelming feeling, as if you’re being crushed under a heavy weight. The stronger the opponent, the heavier the feeling.”

The yellow eyes glowed brightly. Completely fixated on Vega, casting out the background, and the other wizards aside as mere fodder. “The moment Vega awoke… it was like an entire island was crushing on top of me, while burning me with inextinguishable fire. It was only for a moment, but-”

“You’re nuts man.” Vega spoke. His voice was quiet and weak. Vega slowly got up on his legs. He moved slowly, and like the village elder, appeared to be lifeless and on the brink of passing out. “I have no magic energy left, not after I used that attack against the general. My body aches too.”

The boy is right. His movements and his voice, they all add up to what he’s saying. Moreover, how did those two not feel the aura? Even as inept as they are, that aura was far too powerful to be invisible to even a newborn mage! “You’re right. My apologies. I suppose I might be tired myself.” Lance said with a hearty laugh, scratching the back of his head in awkwardness.

“Anyhow, you should recharge your magic energy. That mighty Inferno spell must’ve taken a toll on your body. Using such an intensive spell after exchanging blasts. A risky move indeed.”

“Hey, how do you know about that,” Vega said, before his knees gave in and he toppled to the ground. Jin caught him before he landed, and held him up on his shoulder. “This creep over here was watching our battle from afar.” explained Jin.

“So why didn’t you step in?” The anger in Vega’s voice was diluted by the effects of fatigue.

“He told us he has a thing for watching kids.”

Suddenly, Lance burst into uncontrollable laughter, as he brought himself to the floor and compulsively rolled around on the ground. Tears flowed out of his eyes. “Oh man! You sure have a great sense of humor youngling! Perhaps you aren’t idiotic after all.”

Jin rolled his eyes and scoffed. “Just wait till you see Julius.” Jin muttered in response. Piece of shit. If only Scarlett hadn’t been the one to wake up, then I could smash this guy’s face and arrogance into the ground!

“Oh my! How rude of me again! I believe I haven’t known of your names yet. I think I deserve them, now that I’ve earned your trust.”

Jin quickly spoke out against Lance. “Who said you’ve earned our-”

“The red-haired girl is Scarlett. Long black hair, and the guy who’s been pissed at you is Jin. I’m Vega.”

“Interesting names you all have! Certainly ones that I haven’t heard before. Most parents in the kingdoms are rather boring, you see, always naming their children after famous Gladiators or successful people in history. I would pay thousands to millions of Galleons to create a rule that prohibits the name of ‘John’. Anywho, how old are you? Perhaps around the young adult years? Seventeen? Eighteen?”

“Our ages vary a lot. The oldest in the group is Asura. He’s eighteen. Youngest goes to Vega and Joyce. They’re both fifteen. But Vega is younger by a couple of months. Why do you ask?”

So the youngest is the strongest. Yet the oldest. The one named Asura. Looking at the bodies, he must be the tallest. Some eerie aura emanates from him. I’ll make sure to discuss with him later.

“You’re all so young then. So young, yet quite skilled indeed. There’s an immense amount of potential in each of you.” He formed his hand into a finger-gun, and clicked his teeth, pointing at each of them. “How about I teach you three a quick skill then? While it’s important to replenish your physical strength, magic energy is essential to be regenerated. Wizards can naturally replenish magic energy themselves, but an accelerated process is needed if you want to keep up in a fast-paced fight.” Lance smiled excitingly. “Perhaps you might be familiar with this technique already.”

Lance adjusted his footing, planting his feet into the ground, aligned with his shoulders. He laid his arms outstretched towards the ground, in line with his torso. Then, gently closed his hands into fists and shut his eyes. The three imitated Lance’s stance, following each step just as he explained. Scarlett stepped to the side to observe.

“Now, concentrate. Focus on the magic energy within you. It flows throughout your body, reaching every inch of it, just like your blood. But your magic energy is concentrated at a source. Your very core. Feel that energy in your core rise, and the same energy in the air around you, and draw it in. Capture it with your aura, and bring it into your center.

A yellow aura formed around Lance that grew larger and larger the longer he remained in the stance. Small particles were drawn towards him, gaining more yellow and white in coloration as they neared his body. Lance’s aura was thick and compact, yet precise and fine.

Slowly, the aura faded away as Lance let go of his concentration and stance. “Charging magic energy younglings! You’ll have to remain still to do it, and it requires a lot of concentration, but it’s a technique you’ll find yourselves using constantly! Now let’s make some magic happen!”

Jin and Vega closed their eyes and clenched their fists. There was a period of emptiness as the two remained in their stances. In the moments of silence, they searched for their core and felt the magic energy around them. It was always there, and they had already been touching it. But this had been the first time, where they acknowledged it, and truly felt it.

For over fifteen years, they had been blind. Now, their eyes had been opened. To war. To blood. To strife, and combat. To death. To the harsh reality of their world. And finally, to magic.

A surge of wind and a blaze of fire spontaneously appeared from Jin and Vega. The air around them swirled as if they’d been caught in a tornado, and the area grew in temperature. Sweat ran down their necks as their mouths dried up.

“Woah! Now that’s power that we like to see!” shouted Lance. Slowly afterwards, the auras faded away, and the heat subsided and the turbulent air came to a rest.

Jin leapt up in excitement, flailing his arms and legs around. He aimed towards the open area, and conjured a magic circle. A blast of wind fired away at full strength. “Holy shit! That felt great! I feel energized and ready to fight again!”

“There you have it! Engrave that technique into your mind. Now young lady, would you care to try?” Silence fell around them, and stares of awkwardness aimed towards Lance. “What gives? Did I say something wrong?”

Scarlett twiddled with her fingers in embarrassment. “Well you see, I was born without magic.” Lance stared at her blankly, before the words sunk into his mind. “Amazing! You have no magic yet you fought so valiantly! For a warrior without magic, you possess the potential to be a great fighter.”

Scarlett’s face turned red, as she screamed in joy at Lance’s words. “She was also born with a weak spot for compliments. She’s easily tamable if you just be nice to her.”

“That’s why I’ll never fully like him. The day you ‘tame’ me is the day the world will end.”

The two continued to insult each other with joke after joke. Vega and Lance just watched and laughed at their exchange from the side.

“Can you guys quiet down for a second?” shouted a cranky, and familiar voice. All heads turned to the area of unconscious wizards. In just several seconds, the area of unconsciousness had suddenly awoken from slumber. All wizards were wide awake and active, but Apollo remained asleep on the ground.

Scarlett approached him, and knelt down. She pressed her cheek to his mouth. Hot air blew softly on her cheek. Then she pressed her ear to his chest, gently applying pressure so as to not awake him, or cause damage to his body. A steady heartbeat thumped weakly. She sighed in relief, before joining the others.

“So who the hell is this guy?” asked Julius. His droopy eyes and slurred speech hinted that he was still half asleep.

Asura walked up to Lance and stared him down, analyzing him from bottom to top. Shit! This guy is taller! Asura stomped on the ground in frustration, and Lance nervously stepped away.

“Seems like the rest of you are awake! Allow me to introduce myself to the rest of you. I go by Lance, and I’m a traveling scholar. I came upon the island after seeing the commotion from afar, and I witnessed all of you fight aga-”

“Hold up! You were on the island? What happened to the rest of the knights? Are you here to kill us?” asked Julius.

“Dumbass if he wanted to kill us then Scarlett, Jin and Vega wouldn’t even be here. I bet we would be dead too! Look around! We’re right outside the town center!” said Kaladin.

“Then how long were we out for after that gigantic explosion?” Kaleigh questioned.

“Hold on, I still haven’t had my questions-” said Julius, even louder.

“Oh shut up man nobody could give a pig’s poop about your questions right now Julius.” insulted Joyce.

“Pig poop. Nice one Joyce.” Julius said sarcastically.

“Everyone please, if you would just let me speak I can-!” said Lance, but his words were quickly cut off.

Kaladin approached Lance, “Julius, just please shut up for a quick second.”

“That’s not Julius, Kaladin.” said Asura, in a calm and statured manner.

“Huh? Then who-?” Kaladin starred up towards Lance. The towering figure stared back at him with a large grin and glowing yellow eyes.

Lance stomped his foot on the ground, and a surge of yellow and white energy pulsated from the ground, tossing everyone upwards. Magic circles immediately went up, aimed towards Lance.

This group is a tough one… “Now that I have your attention, allow me to explain myself.” Lance’s head panned from left to right. He still sensed hostility in the other wizards. Dear Gods, do I seriously have to do this twice?

As Lance pondered on how to deal with the situation, Vega stepped forward. “This guy is someone we can trust. He more or less saved all of us from death. Actually, come to think of it,” Vega looked up to face Lance behind him. “Why are you here? I never quite understood that.”

“Well, perfect timing isn’t it? Now with all the chaos out of the way, I can finally explain myself fully to all of you.” All the wizards slowly shifted into a large clump, some sitting and standing, ready to listen. It’s as if Vega’s words had completely convinced them, much like how Lance had him, Scarlett and Jin in the palm of his hand. Their level of trust had yet to be fully defined. They could only hope, that the man in front of them could offer more than just tips and tricks.

“I heard the young electric wizard earlier. You had asked where the rest of the knights are? You’re out of luck. The fire and invasion had completely reached the mountains on the island. I arrived by boat, sneaking past the escaping fleet and docking on the complete opposite side of the island. I assume that the knights you fought were part of a reinforcement fleet. It’s common in kingdoms to send off fodder like the knights you fought earlier. Criminals and exiled individuals of the kingdom, that were given a chance to redeem themselves, by acting as a clean up crew.”

“So, we basically fought the weakest bunch of raiders, while everyone else was slaughtered.” stated Asura.

“Correct. I know it’s grim, but you were all fortunate. Had you fought the main fleet instead, I doubt you would come out with all of you alive. Your abilities and potential in fighting have carried you to where you are thus far. Which is why I would like to make an offer.”

Lance planted his foot deep into the ground, and put his hand outwards towards the wizards. A stream of light flowed around his body.

“Come with me. I’ll take you to heights greater than you’ve ever seen. You’ll gain power and experience far beyond your wildest dreams. Stories that you’ve heard, and tales that you’ve been told, I’ll help you carve them into reality.”

The diction of Lance’s speech had been precise and carefully planned, yet his conviction was scrambled. In that moment, he’d been overtaken by a dream he had himself. A deep desire was sparked inside of Lance, burst into a wild flame. Lance’s eyes shone brighter than ever before. His very core shook, as he hoped they’d say yes.

All the wizards were stunned. They appeared to be equally as shocked, sharing near identical expressions of wide open eyes and a dropped jaw. As if they shared a cumulative mind, they all gathered together into a huddle.

“Hell no! How much do you seriously trust this guy? We literally just met him not even an hour ago!” said Jin.

“Come on Jin! He healed all of us with his potions! He’s been generous and quite casual with us. It’s like he knew us beforehand.” said Scarlett.

“Well he did know us beforehand, since he was ‘watching us from afar’!” said Jin, quoting Lance’s words.

“Well what about his story? Does it check out?” asked Kaladin. His deep and controlling voice caught their attention immediately.

“He told the same story as he told me and Jin. Plus, he protected us from another knight.” Scarlett answered, eager to get her point across.

“Then what don’t we like about this guy?” asked Asura. His eyes were glued to Jin. “So far I don’t see anything wrong. He protected us, healed us, and the man is a scholar. I’m sure he has a lot to offer, no?”

“Well what I don’t like is that he just shows up, and does all this stuff, says all this shit, and we’re supposed to go along with it?” said Jin, throwing his arms out and breaking the huddle. “I’m thankful that he healed Apollo. I won’t deny that he seems like a good guy, but it’s too sudden to make quick decisions like this. Especially right after…”

Jin’s voice trailed off, as the gloom only grew larger. Darkened thoughts entered each of their minds. Memories of the past. Riding the boats, fishing and farming. Working with their parents on the harvest. The island had carried too much importance. It was their home. It was their home. Now, there wasn’t a single tree left to create lumber. No fertile grass to grow crops. It truly was, the end.

“Well, what other choice do we have?” said Kaleigh. “Our village was burned to ashes, and we nearly died! Don’t you ought to think we get outta here?”

“Since when were you a realist?” scowled Jin.

“Tone it down. Kaleigh has a point.” said Vega. His voice was still slurred from the fatigue, yet he seemed more alert and his head was held up higher. “We quite literally have nowhere to go. I’m honestly surprised nobody pointed this out earlier.”

“Since Jin has his head buried deep in his ass right now man. I personally think it’s a great offer.” said Julius.

“What?” shouted Jin and Joyce simultaneously.

“Julius, maybe your head is buried in your butt right now! We have each other, and that’s enough. I’m sure we can get through it together.” said Joyce, worryingly. She grabbed Julius’s hand. “Please. I believe in all of us.”

“I don’t think this is a time for some corny saying right now Joyce,” said Julius as he shook his head in frustration. “We fought together just hours earlier and nearly lost. Apollo’s still suffering from our mistakes. I think right now is an opportunity for change, right?”

“As much as I hate to say it, I’ll have to agree with Julius,” said Kaladin. “If we rely on each other too much, then we’ll be useless when isolated.”

“Well that brings it to what now? Six against two?” asked Asura, mouthing out numbers and pointing to the others as he counted.
“What do you mean six against two?” said Jin, his voice growing with anger as he marched towards Asura.

“I mean that I’m siding with them as well, and it seems like you guys don’t have a lot of arguments backing your point either.” Asura slowly walked forward, forcing Jin back. “If you won’t join us, then I hope you enjoy staying on this ash-covered wasteland.” Asura looked down menacingly over Jin.

“Woah hold on there, I don’t think we should go that far-” Vega began to say, before a loud “HEY!” came from behind.

“Are you younglings doing okay?” asked Lance, as he walked towards them. His hands were folded behind his back. A sign of passivity.

“We still can’t come up with a compromise.” Scarlett frowned.

“Anything I can do to convince you younglings?” proposed Lance. He seemed confident in his claim.

“I have something to ask, sir.” Kaleigh said meekly.

“Fire away youngling!”

“If we go with you, will you take care of us? Like, be our new parent?”

Lance stared at the young boy in shock. A parent. The word carried a heavy burden, that even Lance was aware of. Although he was an adult, and a responsible one at that, the duties of a parent, left him questioning himself.

Kaleigh and the others awaited his response, and at last they received one. “I assure you all, I will be your guardian and protector. I might not be up to the task of a ‘parent’, but I will do my best to nurture you.”

Kaleigh smiled brightly with glee. “Thanks! That’s all I needed to hear!”

“You can’t be serious…” muttered Jin.

“I have a question of my own.” said Asura, raising his hand up.

“What will it be?”

“You want to be our trainer? How can you prove your validity?”

Lance smiled in exhilaration. He crouched down, and leapt up into the air, and began to conjure a large orb of light in his right hand. Then, he winded back his arm, and thrust forwards. A large glow streamed across the sky, heading towards the sea. Eventually, the light faded away, before it illuminated brighter than a stare into the sun. The wizards looked away from the blinding light. Seconds after, a pounding BOOM! rung across the land, shaking the island and sending the nearby waters into turmoil.

Lance turned back to face the wizards, their faces covered. He put his hands on his hips and stood strong. “You guys gotta be kidding me right? We live in a world of magic! Alongside being an alchemist, I’m a wizard too you know. And a ‘special’ kind at that. My knowledge of magic is beyond the understanding of most wizards. I’ll prove it all to you, if you give me the chance”

“Say… if we become stronger… could we create our own… kingdom?”

“Hm? A kingdom you say? That’s a little far fetched but, if that’s what you so desire, I will assist your journey.”

All eyes were on Vega. With Apollo unconscious, his voice was the last one to be heard.

“Vega, don’t tell me, you seriously still remember that day?” asked Jin, his voice softened.

“Seems like you still do.” Vega looked up to the sky, as if he envisioned the memory playing out in the clouds. “I know we were just kids, saying stupid stuff, but at that time I was serious. Now tell me Jin, what did we do the next day?”

Jin fiddled with his fingers and clothes in nervousness. The answer was clear in his head, yet he lacked the will to put his thoughts into words.

“It’s all coming back to me now. You and Jin both approached every one of us, and asked if we could train and play wizards and warriors. Julius wanted to slack off and go skip rocks, while Asura was messing with some shells and grass.” said Kaladin.

“Yep. Then the two of us never stopped training since.” Jin said spontaneously, finally finding his courage.

“So what are you trying to say Vega?” asked Scarlett.

“Don’t you guys think it would be cool? If we had our own kingdom. A safe haven for people like us. A place of peace in these warring seas.” Vega said, his speech slurred. There was a gleam in his eyes that burned with passion and desire. He could hardly be taken seriously with his sickly tone and drunken speech, but the thought still resonated within each one of them. Awakening a core that had been stashed away deep within their hearts. That burning passion for adventure and exploration. Perhaps just this one time, they could be kids again.

Vega stared straight into Lance’s eyes. A dark fiery vermillion met with a golden gleaming yellow.

“I’ll come along with you Lance.”

Writer's Notes

Honestly I had no idea where I was going with this chapter, but I needed to introduce Lance in a better way than I wrote him before.

In the original writing, right after the battle, the wizards began to duel each other to practice fighting, which is not something you would be doing when everyone is injured and not in their peak fighting condition. Lance showed up randomly after one of the wizards went overboard, stopping the fight from going too far.

Then there was an introduction, and he asked the wizards to be their mentor. The wizards complied without question and continued with the final duel.

Obviously, there’s huge mistakes, holes and questions within the plot, which I tried to fix by having the wizards question Lance’s motives more. But I believe I ended up creating dragged out dialogue with no true meaning.

Introducing a new character, and even sudden appearances of a person is always something I’ve struggled to write in and have natural flow. I’ll be taking this chapter as further experience, and hopefully the next characters that appear won’t be introduced so horrendously. If you are into dialogue and some long reading though, this chapter is extra long so I hope enjoyed.