Quest for the Shard
In a time of great darkness, when evil sweeps the land, a prophecy foretells the coming of a savior, a child that will defeat the forces of evil and save the world. She is Kyria, the Chosen One.
Stranded thousands of years in the past, Kyria, along with her best friends, Mica and Sartir, continue to search for the one artifact, the Shard of Time, that could possibly return them to where they belong.
With Sartir guiding them on their journey to find the Shard, their path has been difficult and traumatic, but the end is almost in sight. However, before they can reclaim the Shard and go back home, they need to survive the icy peaks of the Mourning Mountains, one of the most inhospitable and deadly places in all of the Seven Kingdoms.
The peaks have been known as Deathtrap, because if one survives the deadly terrain, the inhabitants who call the mountains home would certainly spell their doom. Kyria, Mica, and Sartir must brave the elements, the inhabitants, and more twists and turns than any of them had been prepared for, all, on their quest for the Shard.
The frigid breeze sent shudders right through Kyria, awakening her from a dream by forcing her eyes open in protest. As she sat up, she could not stop her teeth from chattering and her body from shaking. The dream she was awakened from was quickly fleeing from her memory, but she knew enough that in it, she was someplace warm and comfortable. She wished that that were the case now.
Instead, she found herself waking from her sleep on the shoulder of Alem, a giant. Alem was a kind sort, and had been helping Kyria and her friends as a favor to repay a debt to a young boy named Kabilian. Kabilian had been locked up in a prison cell in a city that used to be where Grazlin’s temple would one day stand. Kyria had found herself attracted to the rogue boy, and she was sorry to see him leave when Alem arrived to take them the rest of the way to the Mourning Mountains.
Sartir and Mica did not think that Kabilian remaining behind was a bad thing. Kyria disagreed, but she knew that they had their reasons, all valid ones. The most important argument of course, was that Kabilian was from a distant time and place, and any kind of emotions exchanged between him and Kyria would be highly inadvisable, and potentially dangerous. Of course, he was also a thief of enchanted artifacts, and the treasure they were seeking was a very rare mystical artifact that Kabilian would have been far too tempted to steal: the Shard of Time.
Without acquiring the Shard of Time, Kyria and her friends would be trapped in time forever. Their only hope was that they could reach the site where the Shard had been discovered, and somehow use it to get back to where they belong. Kyria and Mica still got headaches whenever Sartir explained how exactly they could get back home and still have the Shard be discovered as it was meant to, but there was nobody she trusted more, so if Sartir was certain that they could do it, that was good enough for her.
As Kyria looked around, she saw that Mica was also shivering, covering herself with Sartir’s cloak and snuggling with Pookie. They didn’t know what exactly Pookie was, but he had taken to them, and they decided to keep him. Sartir had been reluctant at first, but since he couldn’t identify what type of creature that Pookie was, he assumed that Pookie’s race was extinct, so taking Pookie with them probably wouldn’t harm the timeline too badly.
Kyria wondered if Sartir ever considered the fact that perhaps Pookie’s removal from time was what caused his race to go extinct. Even if he did, then the fact that they were extinct, meant that Pookie was destined to come with them, in which case, leaving him behind would change history. These were the types of paradoxes and inconsistencies that Sartir loved to speculate about, causing Kyria and Mica to cringe whenever they were brought up.
Since leaving the Dartian Woods, Sartir was beginning to act more and more like himself. He was no longer somber and depressed, and was enthusiastic and optimistic about returning to their journey and finding the Shard of Time. Even now, when the cold morning air was piercing, Sartir sat defiantly and acted as if even the elements could not keep him from his goal.
Alem had taken them much further than they had expected. When Kabilian had told them about Alem, he had said that the giant would take them to the base of the Mourning Mountains in Falestia. They had reached that well over a week ago, and still the giant helped them with their journey, assuring them that he was bringing them to a specific point. Kyria could tell from his demeanor that he was taking them the extra distance because he felt guilty about not completely protecting them.
It really wasn’t Alem’s fault, but they had stopped to sleep for the night on the open plains of Falestia, about a day’s walk east of the Kreblahn Mountains. While Alem was sleeping, some trolls had snuck into their camp and tried to make off with Kyria and Sartir.
Mica woke Alem up the following morning, and he was exasperated to learn that creatures such as trolls—typically loud and easily detected—had managed to come into their camp and steal two of the children he had sworn to protect. Mica, Alem, and Pookie followed the tracks, but found Kyria and Sartir returning towards the camp, already free. Kyria’s mystical powers had been enough to frighten the trolls and send them scurrying, realizing that they had attempted to make a meal of something more powerful than they could handle.
Although Kyria had assured Alem that it wasn’t his fault, he had been frantic at first, and then soon remorseful. He felt the guilt and shame of failing in his task, and was determined to make certain that they did not come across any other dangers or hardships.
“Morning,” Kyria said as she wrapped her arms around her shoulders and tried to keep herself from shivering. The Mages made magnificent wardrobes, but even these robes and cloaks were unable to keep them warm in the frosty mountain air.
Kyria recalled her first day at the Mage’s Council very clearly. The shop owner, Master Varitimas, had given her a pair of boots as well as her laced sandals, and assured her that one day she would need them. Kyria was just glad that she had both listened and thought enough to have brought them with her on this journey. The boots didn’t provide much more cover or protection, but they were certainly better than being in open sandals!
“Morning,” Sartir tersely replied.
“M-m-morning,” Mica stammered, her teeth chattering.
“Well, a good mornin’ ter ya, Kyria,” said Alem. “The temperature has certainly been droppin’, and it’s goin’ ter be a cold one.”
“How much longer?” Kyria asked.
“I’ll have ya where I’ll be partin’ wit’ ya before nightfall,” Alem said. “Are ya sure ya want me to leave ya here though? This wind feels like it stings. I’d hate ter leave ya up here ter freeze ter death!”
“This is where we need to be,” Kyria said.
Sartir pointed further up the snow covered mountains. “Not to be too picky, but that is where we need to be.”
“Dangerous,” said Alem with a shake of his head. “Very dangerous.”
“It’s something we have to do,” Kyria adamantly replied. “Since we’ll be at your destination by nightfall, will you finally let us know where you’ll be leaving us?”
“I don’t see any problem wit dat: we’re headin’ ter the base o’ the mountain path,” answered Alem.
“The mountain path?” asked Sartir.
“It was built by dwarves shortly after the dragon left the land. They needed ter establish trade routes, an’ tried ter do so both up an’ down the mountains,” explained Alem. “They found the cities of the Frost elves, an’ stopped movin’ down the mountain, but the path is still there.”
“How do you know this?” asked Sartir. “Aren’t you from the Falestian plains? Why would you know about the trade routes of dwarves this far away?”
“A good question,” replied Alem with a loud bellow. “Me idiot cousin married a Frost giant. He’s a rude an’ crass bloke if I ever did see one, but she loves ‘im. I heard all about the Mourning Mountains from ‘im. That’s how I learned about this here path.”
Sartir seemed satisfied with the answer and nodded his approval to Kyria.
“How far will the path go?” asked Kyria.
“All the way ter Vohlmuth,” replied Alem, “but don’t go that far! Ya don’t want ter deal wit’ the dwarves. Just follow the path up, an’ then make yer way up the snowy slopes from there. Just remember, very dangerous! Try ter stay away from any creature ya find. Any creature!”
Kyria glanced at Sartir, who nodded again. She knew that he probably had a fairly good idea about what they would potentially meet while ascending the mountain. He would tell them all about it after Alem left and they could take some time to think about how to best proceed.
“Maybe ya should stop at Vohlmuth,” Alem said after considering his advice for a minute. “Yer might be able ter trade fer furs an’ better cloths. Yer goin’ ter get mighty cold the higher ya go.”
Kyria strained to see further up the mountain, but the snowy peaks seemed to be hidden by a white mist. The Dartian Woods had been dangerous, but at least she had been there before and knew what to expect. Now, on the final portion of their journey, they would be traversing a land that was deadly itself, without the added assistance of the predators that called it home. From this moment on, they had to watch every step, and study every movement—the slightest misstep could be the end of them.
By nightfall, Alem had brought them to the mountain path that he had promised to bring them to. He seemed very hesitant to leave them alone, and finally decided that they should remain there that night and then go their separate ways in the morning.
Kyria was grateful for the giant’s presence, because Alem allowed them to use his bulky body for cover, helping to slightly alleviate the piercing winds. Even with him sleeping beside them though, all three knew that the remainder of their journey would be very hard on them. Somehow, they had to find a way to combat the elements—they had to find a way to keep from freezing to death.
The final night with Alem came and went far too quickly. Kyria, Mica, and Sartir all thanked Alem for bringing them to the mountain path, and wished him well on his return trip. Alem remained hesitant to leave them alone, but they all knew that he was anxious to return home: he had been away from his wife and children for far too long.
Alem wished them well on the remainder of their journey, and tried one last time to caution them on the dangers of the Mourning Mountains, and urge them to return home with him, where he assured them that they would be welcome, even if Sartir were a sabrenoh. Kyria politely thanked him for his gracious invitation, but declined. They too were anxious to be home, and the only way to make that happen was to continue up the Mourning Mountains.
The trio watched Alem vanishing on the horizon, an event that took some time due to his bulky frame, and then returned their focus on their mission. They looked up the Mourning Mountains, and if they were afraid, they hid it well. Instead, they focused on doing one thing that could help save all of their lives: gaining more information.
“Now that we’re here, what do we know about this place?” asked Kyria.
Sartir reached into his satchel and removed his copy of The Shard of Time. “Not a lot, I’m afraid,” admitted Sartir. “The book gives us intricate details, including maps, on where the Shard was discovered, and everything else in that area, but nothing about how to get there, or the dangers we may face.”
“Come on Sartir, this is you,” snickered Mica. “Give us the text-book answer. What exactly is out there?”
Sartir shrugged helplessly. “I never expected to have to try and find the Shard of Time. I wanted more information on the Shard itself: how it worked, what was its origin, and things like that.”
“You’ve had to come across some materials on the Mourning Mountains,” Mica said confidently. “This is you we’re talking about here.”
“There’s remarkably little crossover with our classes and research on the civilizations of the Mourning Mountains,” replied Sartir. “Did you know that there is not a single Frost elf, waltris, or Vohlmuth dwarf serving within the Mage’s Council? We tend to learn more about the member-races.”
“There has to be something,” pleaded Mica.
“You’re probably right,” admitted Sartir. “But I haven’t come across anything that would really help us. I know some generalities, but that’s about it.”
“We’re doomed,” bemoaned Mica.
“Calm down,” Kyria said. “We’ll figure this out. We’ll make it.”
“We do need a plan,” Sartir said. “Mica is right about that.”
Mica perked up at the comment and fluttered in the air before Sartir, grinning happily.
“What do you suggest?” asked Kyria.
“Alem advised against going to Vohlmuth, but I say we need to go there,” suggested Sartir. “We can get supplies, and maybe some information if we’re lucky. At least we know that dwarves are generally noble and good.”
“Um, Sartir, what are we going to use to pay for the supplies and information?” asked Mica. “Its not like we have anything of value to them.”
Sartir frowned at the mentioning of payment. “We’ll think of something.”
“Great plan,” sneered Mica. “Such a genius. Don’t know why we don’t just follow you blindly.”
“Play nice,” said Kyria. “We’ll go. Maybe they’ll take pity on us.”
“Or maybe they’ll sell us into servitude,” said Mica sarcastically.
“The only way to find out is by going,” said Sartir.
Kyria held her hand out and beckoned Sartir to lead the way. Sartir bowed politely and then began walking up the mountain path. Kyria bent over and lifted Pookie up, perching him on her shoulder, and following Sartir.
Mica fluttered after them, hovering inches from Kyria’s ear. “Can’t we at least summon Pirifany? She can get us up the mountain in a fraction of the time.”
Kyria considered this for a moment, and then shook her head no. “We’ll walk for a bit before summoning her,” she said. “We need the exercise. Alem has been doing all the walking. I feel weaker than I have in ages. My muscles feel so underused.”
“Fine,” moaned Mica. “Just remember, we probably can’t use Pirifany once were waist deep in snow.”
Kyria glanced up the towering mountain again. It might not be today, it might not even be tomorrow, but soon they would be in the snow. Kyria had never even seen snow before. She wondered what it would be like. Soon, she would find out.
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