-Two Years Ago-
“Clover, wake up!” A loud yell accompanied by the thumping of the bedroom door jolted the slumbering boy from his rest.
“Gah...It’s too early...Just five more minutes, mom…”
“Get up! You have people waiting for you!” Maria yelled once more while banging on the door three more times before retreating.
“Fine…” Clover moaned before slowly rising from his warm and inviting bed. It took multiple attempts to escape its wondrous allure, but he eventually succeeded. With heavy feet, Clover entered his bathroom and began his daily ritual.
“Hehe...Not too bad!” Clover smiled as he looked into the mirror. A handsome tan half-elf grinned back. His dark gray hair was a bit long as it gently brushed against his forehead. His bright hazel eyes were a tad groggy but there were also flecks of excitement sprinkled throughout them. His body was not too muscular, but he did not look weak either as Clover would occasionally exercise in the Guild training grounds.
After Clover finished brushing his teeth he detached himself from the mirror he walked over to a wall covered in many black lines. Ever since he was three years old, he had made it his mission to measure his height every day! After all, young boys like to compete with one another. And height was one way they displayed their superiority over one another!
“Damn, no change from yesterday…” Clover grumbled. “Oh well, just because today is my birthday it doesn’t mean I will all of a sudden hit a growth spurt!” His body had been changing rapidly, and although he was not tall, he was definitely not short!
Clover shook his head and prepared the bath with warm water. After he tested it to his liking, he jumped in. “I wonder what I’ll get today!” His eyes sparkled with excitement as he looked forward to his gifts. “Last year was a pretty good haul. But today is my fourteenth birthday! I’m practically an adult now! Maybe I’ll get something more mature!”
After Clover finished daydreaming he jumped out of the bath and dried himself off before putting on clothes that his mother had purposefully bought for this day. They were new and stylish, which was granted since they were made in the Armelia Kingdom which was renowned for their textiles.
He checked himself out in the mirror a couple more times and made sure he did not have his hair sticking up awkwardly or a booger hanging out. Once he made sure he looked presentable, Clover left his room and down the stairs that led to the Guildhall.
“Happy birthday!” A loud chorus erupted with jubilation the moment he showed himself. The crowd began to sing to him as well, which caused his face to become as bright as a cherry!
Argh! Even though this happens every year why is still embarrassing?! Clover shouted in his mind as his face reddened and contorted into an awkward smile.
“Clover! Open my gift first!”
“No! Open mine!”
The two individuals that spoke were Sven Gard and Kate Fay. Sven was a handsome elf as well as Clover’s best friend. He was a playboy and musician that would travel the two continents with his band and play in cities around the world! Sven had long red hair and beautiful amethyst eyes that coerced women to his side. His ears and sunkissed skin were clear indicators of his Elven lineage.
Kate Fay, on the other hand, was an Azir. This was quite evident from her cat-like ears and bushy brunette tail. Kate was like the big sister Clover never had. She was a receptionist of the guild that would help Seekers with their missions by giving them advice and what not. And although she was young, she had a vast knowledge of the wildlife and monsters that many Seekers would encounter on their excursions. Her guidance had saved the lives of hundreds of Seekers, causing many to feel indebted to her. Because of this, many had proposed to her, but she had refused all of them!
“Back off!” Sven grunted as he glared at the feisty Azir lass.
“No, you back off!” She shot back, her eyes filled with obvious malice.
“I didn’t quite hear you...Sven. Could you repeat yourself?” Kate snarled. Her eyes glared daggers into the Elf while an aura of violence surrounded her.
“Nothing…” He mumbled before looking away.
“Ha! That's what I thought!” She snarled before turning back to Clover and pushing her gift into his hands. Her anger coated face quickly disappeared and was replaced with her usual kind and charming demeanor.
“Alright you two, you’re going to smother him.” A deep voice boomed from behind as two large purple hands gripped their collars, and dragged them away. Their eyes were filled with surprise as they flail their arms, struggling to release themselves from the powerful grasp.
That man was Edward Stone. He was tall and bald whose skin was a deep maroon. His sapphire eyes were wise and intelligent, devoid of any white. He had long ears, longer than an elf’s, and their lobes stretched past his chest. Edward hailed from the Ga’Jong Mountains, and he himself was a Ga’jong. Edward was deeply respected and he held the prestigious office of Treasurer of the Guild.
Since the Guild was a large organization it needed someone to properly oversee any financial aspects. Be it taxes, purchasing materials, selling goods brought in from missions, and various other transactions. Edward would see to it that everything would be recorded and handled properly.
“Haha! Thank you for that, Edward!” Said another deep voice. It belonged to Bastille Rumare, a large Adlan man with a powerful and domineering frame. Bastille had a certain aura that exuded leadership and power. This was all due to his countless years as a Seeker! He was tall, with dark brown skin. His eyes were a light hazel and they contained a vast knowledge of the world. This deeply respected man was the Guildmaster, as well as Clover’s father.
“Clover, come here,” Bastille said as he beckoned his son.
As he arrived in front of his father, a large bear-like hand clamped down on his shoulder.
“Clover, my boy, you’re are at an important crossroad in your life. You are still young, but you are old enough to make your own decisions. I know that you will follow the footsteps of your old man and become a Seeker as well!” Hope and pride sparkled in Bastille’s eyes as he said this.
“Dad...Seriously? Here and now of all places?” Clover groaned. “I’ve already told you that I wanted to become a musician and join Sven’s band…”
“I-I know…” The large Adlan man sighed as a look of grief entered his eyes; only for it to disappear a moment later. “Nevertheless! It's only your fourteenth birthday! You have plenty of time to make your decision!”
Sighing in relief, Clover opened the present in his hand. It was a small rectangular box and it was adorned with a small red bow and wrapping paper that had tiny cats dotted on it. He tore apart the carefully wrapped gift and opened it, exposing the treasure inside.
It was a necklace, made from steel. It was quite unremarkable without any extravagant features. And he could easily see it being sold for a couple silver coins at the city market. However, it did have one noticeable feature. Adorned on the end of the necklace was a small violet crystal. The front of the crystal had a small silver inscription that read, ‘CR’ and on the back was another inscription, ‘O’. The ‘CR’ were his initials. But he did not know what the ‘O’ stood for.
“Thanks a lot, Kate!” Clover grinned as he put the necklace on.
“Hehe...No problem!” She beamed back.
“But what does the ‘O’ on the back stand for?” He asked.
“I can answer that,” Edward spoke up. “That crystal is an Arcana Crystal mined from the Omalfi families mines. They are famous for the purity of their crystals, and they mark every individual crystal they mine with their seal.” Edward furrowed his brow as he glared at Kate. “Due to the purity and pedigree of these crystals, they tend to be very expensive...I wonder, Kate. How could you afford such an extravagant gift when you owe the guild over one hundred gold?”
“Uhh…I’m sorry!” Kate stammered. “It was for Clover’s birthday! I had to get him something nice!”
“Birthday or not...If your debt becomes any higher, I will have to start deducting it from your pay…”
Kate became pale with fright as she stared at the ground. “Okay….”
Because Kate tended to make many unwise purchases, she soon became up to her eyeballs in debt. Once Edward found out about this he paid off all her debts and made her swear that she could only borrow money from the guild. At least that way she would not become the target of any unsavory loan sharks.
“My turn! Here you go, Clover!” Sven said as he handed his friend a small envelope. It was plain and simple, the kind you would see in an office. Upon opening the envelope, Clover pulled out a certificate that had extravagant crimson writing scrawled on it.
Your Instrument Is Ready!
“Sven!” Clover looked at his friend with excitement in his eyes. “Is this what I think it is?!”
“Hehe…” Sven giggled as his lips curled in satisfaction. “Yep! We just need to pick it up later today! Then I’ll show you the ropes!”
“Thank you!” Clover yelled as he ran up to Sven and gave him a hug, which he accepted without protest.
“No problem.” Sven grinned from ear to ear as he turned to face Kate. A smug look danced across his face as if to say, I won.
“Idiotic bastard…” She snarled. However, she couldn’t help but feel that she had lost something, which made her feel even worse.
After the two loudest celebrators had given their gifts, the rest showered Clover with theirs.
Next up was Bastille. As if out of nowhere, Bastille appeared with a large box. Upon opening the box, Clover’s eyes slammed open with shock. Inside was a two-foot-long replica of an airship. To be more precise, it was a replica of the famous Omalfi airship. ‘The Serenissima’.
Clover ran over to the nearest window and peered outside. Around a mile away from the city walls, ‘The Serenissima’ could be seen!
‘The Serenissima’ was like a chunk of gold, silver, and steel that hovered effortlessly in the air. Its immense presence caused any who gazed upon it to feel smaller than an ant! One could only imagine the cost of creating and running a ship of that size. But one thing's for sure, the Omalfi’s wealth was vast. And operating ‘The Serenissima’ was merely a small pittance on their reserves.
He did not know why the Omalfi flagship had come to Vanden, but it was also not his right to know. Clover shook his head and turned back to his father and thanked him for his gift.
Edward was next. He handed him a simple yet practical gift of five gold coins. This was more than enough for any fourteen-year-old to live off of for an entire year. After his thanks, he proceeded to his last gift. It was from his mother, Maria.
As Clover extended his hand to receive the gift, Maria launched herself into his arms and forced him into a powerful embrace!
“Ack! Mom, you're crushing me!” Clover gasped and wheezed as he struggled to speak. But from his shoulder, he could hear quiet sniffles. Maria raised her head to reveal tears welling from her beautiful verdant eyes. A smile blossomed onto her cherry red lips. And as if a divine act occurred, a ray of light came through the window, illuminating her golden hair and porcelain skin, causing them to sparkle and dance!
Everyone in the guild couldn’t help but stare at this angle. Even Kate slightly blushed from amazement while Sven walked over to Bastille and placed a hand on his shoulder and whistled a note of amazement.
“Clover…” Maria whispered.
“Y-yes?!” He squawked as his lungs struggled to find air.
“Ever since Bastille found you all those years ago, and brought you to the Guild. I always thought of myself as your mother…” She whispered, her voice cracking slightly. “I-I know...T-that I am not your real mother...But I still love you like one.”
“Mom...Of course, I think of you as my real mother...Now can you stop? You do this every year!” Clover grumbled as his face became ever more crimson.
“Clover!” Maria wailed as a torrent of tears poured down her face as she gripped him tighter. Although she was no longer a Seeker, she still possessed her unusually powerful strength.
Once she realized that she was hurting her son, Maria released her embrace and handed him his gift.
As he shook off the pain and embarrassment, Clover tore open his gift. A look of disappointment flashed on his face briefly as he looked inside.
“Wow, mom. Clothes...Just like I wanted…” He couldn’t help but keep some of the disappointment out of his voice. But just like any good mother, Maria either ignored it or didn’t notice as a flash of pride shone across her face.
Standing up Clover faced all those present and thanked them one last time for their gifts. As he looked around, he couldn't help but notice three people were missing.
“Where’s the Trio?” He asked. The Trio he spoke of were Maya, Michael, and Zen. Those three had a reputation of being troublemakers. Whenever they were not on missions, they would be partying or goofing off. Of course, Maya was there to keep the other two in check. But she was just a mischievous after a drink or two!
“I told them they wouldn’t be back on time!” She sighed. As the head secretary of the Guild. It was her duty to know who took which missions and where they went.
“Last night they took a mission, stating that they would be back before morning. Of course, I told them that they wouldn’t be back in time. But did they listen? Of course not!” She sighed once more. Ever since the Trio had become Seekers, they have constantly become a source of grief in her life.
“Clover!” Sven called out to him. “Let's go pick up your instrument!”
“Hold on one second! There’s one last gift!” A loud raspy voice resounded throughout the hall. The voice came from Don; an aging Seeker with a beard of white stubble and shoulder-length ashen hair as well as a pair of stern steel eyes that could pierce through someone like swords. His tall frame was still powerful despite his age. He was still handsome in his twilight years as his dignified wrinkles only added to his good looks.
Clover was terrified by Don. In fact, everyone besides Bastille and Maria was. He stood as still as a statue as Don strutted over to him. Sven had long disappeared from his side, only to appear a couple of meters away.
“Y-yes, Don?” Clover whispered as Don’s fierce eyes pierced his soul.
“I said I have a gift for you,” Don grunted and placed a simple metal wristguard in Clover’s hands, which he inspected closely.
“Don...We already talked about this.” Bastille spoke up as he materialized beside Don. “He doesn’t need or want that.”
“Ah quit fussing. The boy needs to snap out of it. An embarrassing dream of becoming a fruity bard...It’s disgraceful!” Don huffed before turning back to Clover. “You know what this is! It's a Devyse! Pour your Arcana into it!”
Terrified, Clover did as he was told and poured a small amount of Arcana into his Devyse. The very instant it was injected with Arcana, a long spear materialized into his hands! The haft of the spear was made out of black wood. It was strong while also being flexible. The blade was made out of cold and sharp steel that exuded a violent and deadly aura. Below the blade was a long orange ribbon.
“Don...Clover said that he did not want to become a Seeker.” Maria growled as she glared at the aging man.
“Oh quit babying the boy! It's that very attitude that has allowed him to follow that pathetic dream of becoming a musician in the first place! Like that pansy Elf over there!” Don sneered as he glared at Sven before continuing his curses. “Musicians should stay in their colleges, while Seekers should stay in their Guilds! Just like those damn Elves should stay on their side of the mountains! And leave us Adlans alone!”
“Don!” Bastille exploded in fury! His loud roar frightening everyone in the guild. “Apologize to Sven right now!”
Sven became as pale as a ghost before running back to Clover’s side. The scared Elf grabbed his sleeve and pulled him towards the Guild entrance.
“Let's go!” He whispered into Clover’s ears.
“Wait!” Don yelled as an uncomfortable expression formed on his face. “I didn’t mean to give him this spear to change his mind. No matter how stupid his dream is. I gave it so he could at least have some protection wherever he goes...You two can understand that, right?”
Bastille sighed. He knew it was fruitless to make Don apologize. In fact, it may make matters worse! The old man was too stubborn and stuck in his ways.
“That's fine...In fact, we had planned on doing the same. Except we were waiting for him to become older…” He muttered. “Clover, come here. I’ll teach you how to return the spear into the Devyse.”
These Devyse (Pronounced: De-Veese) were a product of the Saintos Magocracy. Using some unknown method, powerful mages were able to bind weapons into the wristguards, or any object, and allow them to bring them out whenever they were injected with Arcana! Of course, these were mainly used with polearms and the like since it was much faster to draw a sword from ones sheathe.
But just like anything that was useful. They came with a couple of drawbacks. The first was that they were expensive! The more expensive a Devyse was, the higher quality it was. The spatial dimension within a Devyse would degrade over time. Because of this, Seekers would pay thousands of gold coins for the best quality Devyse. After all, no one wanted their weapon to disappear in the midst of battle!
Another drawback was that Devyse could only store a single object! Because of this, they were primarily used to contain weapons. But it was not unheard of for them to store other objects!
Lastly, they could not store living beings!
After Bastille taught Clover how to return his spear into the Devyse, Clover and Sven dashed out of the guild.
Sighing, Bastille held the Devyse in his hands. “Don, I’ll hold onto this and give it to him when I think he needs it...Alright?”
“Fine…” Don coldly muttered.