before the start
before the start, i
The creature that stands there is neither big nor small, it is neither strong nor weak, and it is neither magic nor human.
Yet, not balanced. No, not at all. It has the look of a feral dog, more often than not. Taught by mortals, then abandoned by the same mortals to fend for itself. Of course it would be feral.
What will you choose this time, Knight?
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This is a story about choices.
Every choice we make greatly affects each event that might befall us next. Our choices are what define our future - no matter what people say about destiny, all it determines is the end of all ends. The way we all get there can vary.
And so, this is a story of how one small choice, “left or right after the big tree?”, can change ever so much.
It’s also a story about people.
People who are ordinary. People who make mistakes; people who let their logical or illogical minds define them. People who, even when presented with the same choices, walk down different paths. People that are courageous, kindhearted, and generous, who put others before themselves, but are also selfish, afraid, greedy. People who love so passionately and so deeply that they may end the world - or create it anew.
After all, what is a life without those things?
before the start, ii
Every beginning of this story involved death: some inevitable, some unfair, and some that went unnoticed until it was all but too late. But, as texts describing the woes of jealousy, fear, and war are an overused auxiliary, what you’re about to read starts smack dab in the middle. If one had to go back to the beginning and tell you everything, that would mean writing a hundred pages of something that is just as easily found in Northland’s historical archives (also known as the Legend), and is most likely to be used for something such as a book report.
So instead what shall be presented now, in what will hopefully be a short overview, is how some parts of the story really started:
Decades before everything in the world took its place, a goddess gave her life to save her country.
At some point much, much later a civil war inside Northland broke out – for now, that is all that needs to be said of that beginning.
Twenty years later, sometime around the beginning of a certain September, a boy named Christopher Hawks (remember that name!) was discovered by a lost princess to be the holder of one of the Seven Stones of the Jakkovost.
And thus, problems began.
before the start, iii
Have we moved a little fast?
Let’s delve deeper.
The Jakkovost, or the Sword of Kings, traditionally gave its bearer the right to be King or Queen of Zemite Avrorissni (or The Northern Lands of Aurora, Northland for short), a kingdom in the heart of a certain peninsula on the Globe. Northland was a kingdom governed by eternal snow, just as the population liked it, and had sitting at the helm a King or a Queen descended from a long and generally well-liked bloodline. Unfortunately the civil war twenty years before this story began had ended with most of the royals assassinated.
Regarding the Jakkovost, official information had it that the sword was in the current Queen’s possession (of course), but in reality that was a copy – the real sword was chained up in a chapel on Nose Crimsondawn. The Jakkovost relied on seven Stones that were said to have been carved of pure, solid Ice Magic, and without them it was impossible to separate the blade from the wall. For the twenty years following the war, the Jakkovost had been sealed, having lost all of its magical properties - without its Stones, it was rendered quite normal, albeit still the symbol of the Throne of Northland. It worked like this: once a new King or Queen would ascend to the Throne, they would place the Jakkovost in the heart of the Frozen Flowers castle; this, if the sword was true and all the Stones were in place, would trigger the Frozen Flowers to glow with magic and acknowledge its new ruler. The current Queen Nephrite, as a stand-in for the Throne, had not even tried doing so and no one had found our the truth.
It was a ridiculous notion that one of the seven Stones would end up outside of Northland: first of all, people said, obviously all of the Stones would be where they belonged – on the handle of the Jakkovost, locked up in the Queen’s vault. But the fact remained that one of those seven was in Chris’s possession (hopefully you didn’t forget him!). Someone, somehow, had managed to make a pendant out of it, and it had ended up with Chris’s father, and later passed on to Chris himself.
So, in the particular September where our story began, Chris’s possession of the Stone was discovered by a Witch of the name Winter Bureíssna (known outside of Northland both as Winter Volk as well as cold and unapproachable), the very much alive princess of Northland who had reportedly been assassinated twenty years back. Winter’s initial plan was to simply requisition the Stone from him, but Chris, ever her admirer and wishing more than anything to stand by her side, managed to convince her to allow him to accompany her on the journey.
Winter’s original plan had been as follows:
Place the seventh Stone in its respectful place in the Jakkovost’s handle, next to the other six;
- Be the first one to take hold of the now “unlocked” sword;
- Challenge the current Queen of Northland to a duel;
- Become the new Queen, respectively.
This very simple plan went horribly wrong when Chris, out of no more than chivalry, was the one who first placed his hands upon the newly unlocked Jakkovost. His intentions, as he later tried to explain countless times, were to simply take the weapon and hand it down to Winter. Chris’s own plan backfired on him when his kind gesture made him King of Northland, or at least gave him the power to become King if he challenged the Queen and won.
At that time, the actual Queen of Northland – Nephrite – had found out about all of this. Having no intention of handing her Throne over to anybody, she sent a cavalry of Hunters - Northland’s soldiers and law officers - to capture them.
From Nose Crimsondawn Chris and Winter, accompanied by a handsome nobleman Witch carrying the name Christian Belwhite (also known as Ian) fled to the region of the Valkoliki: Fang. It didn’t do them much good, as two days later the Hunters caught up with them and, during a fierce chase through the woods of the forest Boreas, the Jakkovost shattered.
It was something no one ever thought possible, but the reason was quite simple: the Jakkovost possessed a certain amount of magic-canceling abilities granted by the Stones that worked like a shield around the weapon and its bearer. The upside of this was that during battle, both the sword and its wielder were protected from being frozen stiff by a Witch. The downside was that the magic only worked when the Jakkovost was in the hands of its bearer. During the battle in the woods, to his great misfortune, Chris made a wrong turn, slipped, and hit his head. When he came to, surprisingly with no more than a dizzy sensation, he found out (from Ian, who was hurling curses nearby) that the sword had flown out of its fingers, had been frozen mid-air by a passing spell and had crashed into a tree, breaking.
In the time it took the Hunters to find them all, Chris had enough time to realize he wasn’t dead, sweep out of the snow the only one of the Stones that hadn’t turned to ice (his own) and run for the Border.
Having all of her initial plans ruined, Winter told Chris that it would be best if they lay low for a while until things in Northland cooled down. Then, when she’d made a new plan, she would find him again and ask him to fight for the Crown in her stead. Until that time, Winter had said, she would not be in contact with him, and no, he wasn’t allowed to know where she would go. Ian, meanwhile, would return to his studies in the Crystal region (location: Northland) and would eventually be asked to help out as well, again, if he wished - to which Ian had said that yes, he did.
This, as formerly stated, was part of the beginning.
The rest are the results. And as repetitions are a bore, the end may quite differ from the beginning. Or not. Life, unlike literature, cares not for bores in repetitions.
Find out for yourselves.