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As Ian's older sister Irene had explained many, many years ago, Briodelar was a country with mountains in the north and the Goht Sea to the south. As a result of her geographical barriers, Briodelar relied heavily on naval trade to keep her economy strong. It was due to this that almost all of the country's major cities, including its capitol Brenas, were located on its southern coastline.

Briodelar was surrounded by three other countries. Beyond the mountain ranges of the north lay the Empire of Reyk, a land even colder than Briodelar's chilly winters. Travel to Reyk almost completely shuts down at the beginning of fall, as their coastal waters freeze and the mountain passes become too treacherous to travel. In order to survive the frigid winds, the people of Reyk were much sturdier than those from other countries, making them natural born Warriors and Berserkers. All trade and diplomacy between Briodelar and Reyk was conducted during the summer months, and one would have no choice but to stay the whole winter if one waited too long to go home.

To the northeast of Briodelar lay the Kingdom of Meltor. Meltor was unique as it was completely landlocked, and thus did not receive the same naval opportunities as Briodelar and Reyk. Meltor's strength instead laid in their military prowess. Having withstood the political pressure of five adjacent countries surrounding its borders, one could tell that Meltor was not a nation to be messed with. The might of Meltor's military was due to her extensive magical education and background. Children born in Meltor were over twice as likely to receive magic classes once they turned 18, and their government's corresponding education system helped to produce some of the strongest mages in the world.

Finally, the Kingdom of Lubiel lay to the southeast of Briodelar. Though the land border between Lubiel and Briodelar was short in length, they were the closest country to each other by sea and thus shared an amicable relationship. Many products such as exotic fruits were exported from Lubiel due to her warmer growing climate, and Lubiel had always imported resources like hardwood that were more difficult to grow in her looser soils. Although Lubiel was a land of great beauty, it also had the worst problems of all four countries with monster outbreaks and attacks. Thus, Lubiel had always relied heavily on adventurers and mercenaries to keep its people safe.

Although Briodelar and its neighbors had enjoyed relative peace for the past century, that was not to say that conflicts of interest never occurred. Disputes between resources near borders occurred frequently, and none of the four countries slacked in the maintenance of a standing army. After such a long period of peace, there were warmongers in each country who clamored for conflict and the potential benefits that could be gained from it. What these advocates for bloodshed did not realize was the storm that was about to arrive in Lenessia. If they had known, they would have probably kept their mouths shut and scrambled to ensure their own survival in the upcoming years.

Darkness was about to arrive to Lenessia, and everybody, no matter what country they were from, was going to have to work together to keep humanity from being destroyed.

 


 

Meanwhile in the middle of the Goht Sea, Ian was bored out of his mind.

He had been stuck in the same room in the ship for two weeks now. The rhythmic sounds of the sea that he had initially found soothing quickly became monotonous, and Ian was about to lose it if he had to eat another Magical Pea. With nothing else to do all day, Ian had completely dedicated himself to raising his Magical Plants and increasing his skill levels. He checked his status to see the progress that he had made.

Status
Name Ian Age 18
Class Magical Botanist
HP 105 MP 131
STR 110 DEX 109
INT 188 WIS 121
Skills
Farming (PASSIVE) 8 (12.3%)
Manual Labor (PASSIVE) 1 (89.2%)
Magical Gardening (PASSIVE) 1 (11.3%)
Magic Plant Digestion (PASSIVE) 1 (35.9%)
Magical Botany 2 (95.6%)
Magical Crossbreeding 1
Magical Farm 1 (12.7%)

Ian had managed to evolve both of his Lesser Magical Peas to Magical Peas, and both had given him a nice boost of +10 INT. Eating two Magical Peas a day had also helped raise his INT to the value it was now, but recently each consumption was giving Ian less and less INT. That had been slightly disappointing - Ian had hoped that he could have simply eaten peas until he had higher INT than any mage alive. Still, he was quite satisfied with his progress. Ezra and the newly evolved Sartonius and Zen now formed a trio of self-intelligent pea plants that would be more than enough to deal with any upcoming threats.

Ian suddenly heard a commotion from the floor above his head. So far, the trip had been uneventful with only one sailor entering his room last week to grab something. Other than the chatter of the sailor who lugged two pieces of furniture out the door, Ian hadn’t heard a peep from another human being in two weeks. Something must have happened to cause such uproar.

Ian pulled himself up to the level of the porthole and took a look around. He had been hoping to see that they’d arrived at land; he desperately wanted to get off of the ship and eat some real food. Instead, he caught a glimpse of two ships with black sails rapidly approaching. Ian had heard stories of these ships from his grandfather. White sails signified government ships owned by a Kingdom and blue sails could signify either merchant or passenger ships, but the infamous black sails could only mean one thing.

Pirates.

Ian watched nervously as the ships approached. In his grandfather’s stories, pirates were always ruthless criminals who would kill or enslave an entire ship’s crew without remorse. Merchant ships always hired mercenaries to try to deter pirates from attacking, but Ian was unsure if they would be enough to deal with two ships worth of attackers. Ian wondered if he should help.

Ian considered his options. Optimally, he could avoid fighting while the ship’s mercenaries dealt with the attack by themselves. However, if the pirates won they would eventually find him and greatly outnumber him. If he helped the mercenaries fight the pirates on the deck, he might just be able to tip the scales of the fight. Ian was confident in his new strength; he knew that Midas wouldn’t have hired any weak men when he had been kidnapped, and he had managed to defeat them 1 versus 4 with only Ezra having experienced a second evolution. He had made his decision. Ian balanced all three pots in his wheelbarrow and started heading out of the room.

The hallways of the ship were lifeless and empty. From the commotion above, it seemed that all the entire crew had congregated on the deck. Ian grunted as he lifted his plants up the flights of stairs to the deck level.

The deck was currently a frenzy of activity. Everywhere, there were people running around and shouting orders and mercenaries getting ready for combat. Ian was spotted pretty quickly. The sight of an unfamiliar man with a wheelbarrow filled with three massive pea plants was enough to send the already nervous crew into high alert. The sound of the mercenaries drawing their blades could be heard.

"Who are you and what do you want?" A voice rose above the nervous crowd. Based on the man's uniform, the ship's captain had just spoken. 

Ian raised his hands in the air, the universal sign for non-aggression. "I mean no harm. I was on the ship and saw that there were pirate ships approaching and wanted to help you fight."

The captain stared at Ian and his plants, assessing whether or not he was telling the truth. After a tense moment seconds, the captain conceded. "I'm not going to question why you were on my ship in the first place, but we can take all the help that we can get. Just don't get in the way of the mercenaries, and you and I are going to have a talk after this."

The crowd relaxed and returned to their earlier tasks. Ian also started getting ready for combat, finding a defensible corner and setting his three Magical Plants around him.

In less than ten minutes, their ship had been surrounded. The speed of their merchant vessel which was designed with carrying capacity in mind could not compare with the sleeker, smaller pirate ships.

“Surrender your goods and your men and keep your lives! Fight and my men will show you pain and suffering!” An amplified voice rose from the first pirate ship.

The captain drew his blade in response. “As if we would believe your lies! If you wish to fight, then we will give you a fight!”

“All righty! You have ensured you and your crew’s death.” The pirate signalled his men. “Attack!”

On that signal, boards and ropes flew between the two pirate ships and onto the deck. Archers attempted to shoot the crossing pirates down, but few connected as they were protected by their blades and shields. Rapidly, a number of pirates almost twice as many as the amount of mercenaries had made it onto the ship and surrounded the crew. A mercenary rushed forwards and attempted to strike a pirate with his sword, but the pirate nimbly dodged and plunged his longsword into the attacker’s neck.

The sight of blood broke the spell, and the deck quickly descended into chaos as pirates and sailors alike fought to the death. The battle had begun.

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