Torment began clouding his vision as he held her steady gaze. A lump formed in his throat, and he weakly gulped it down. Seeing his mental anguish, she pursed her lips in a slight frown before forcing a smile and reassuring, “It’s not so bad here. This world is quite beautiful, and it has the most amazing creatures in it. And ah!” She clapped her hands in remembrance. “That reminds me, where did Akari go?” She had nearly forgotten about the fox.
“…Who’s Akari?” Darren questioned with difficulty, trying to be receptive to her enthusiasm. He knew she was trying to cheer him up. “Another traveler?”
Essairyn shook her head and debated for a moment whether to divulge that Akari was a fox, and a talking one too. “Well, you’ll meet her soon enough. But first, let me show you something really cool. Don’t be too surprised, ok?”
She lifted her hands in front of Darren and slowly formed a ball of magic. He started back at the initial spark but watched in awe as the magic ball ballooned. She extended the sphere toward him, and he gingerly took it in his hands. The lavender light inside coruscated as if it were dancing, and his eyes sparkled in a similar fashion as he fixed his gaze upon the sphere.
“Is this..magic..?” he laughed incredulously.
“Yes,” Essairyn murmured. “Everything is made of magic in Sol’h’meyr.” She looked up at him tentatively. “It’s almost like some fantasy video game.”
“A video game, huh,” Darren dryly entertained. “Like one of those stories where you get stuck in one?”
“Yes, and yet at the same time, it isn’t just some video game. There’s a whole ecosystem, economy, physics, and history. It really is like we stepped into a whole other universe.” She gazed up at the sky. “It’s both scary and exciting to think about that.”
She looked down and caught Darren’s eyes. He stared deep into her depths. Even though she said it was scary, she looked completely unfazed by the idea of being in an entirely different world. He sighed and ruffled the top of his head, unsure how to respond. It definitely was a bombshell to be abruptly thrown into an unknown world. He hadn’t seen as much of it as Essairyn had seen, so he couldn’t clearly see the positives. And everyone and everything he had ever known had been tossed out the door. But in spite of all this, he oddly felt calm in front of her. Perhaps he was comforted by the fact that he wasn’t in this alone and that at least she was confident about the circumstances.
As he settled his jumbled thoughts into order while peering at the magic ball, the school door flung open. The two jumped in surprise and looked at the middle-aged man standing in the doorway. He was a little taller than Darren and had graying brown hair, sharp hazel eyes, and pale skin. He wore a slate blue vest over a charcoal shirt, a long cobalt coat with a gold double striped trim, and stone chinos with an umber leather belt and matching leather loafers. His appearance was a curious blend of some preppy, wizard businessman.
“I heard some voices outside and saw you both in front of the doorway,” the man stated. He peered down at the lavender ball in Darren’s hands. “Is that your magic, young man?”
Darren shook his head and handed the magic ball back to Essairyn. At the touch of her fingertips, the sphere shrunk, and she curled her hand as the magic circulated back in her body.
“So it is yours.” The man studied the girl, mystified by the strange aura emanating from her. It didn’t feel quite human or elemental. And the color of her magic was intriguing. Even though the color of one’s magic often reflected the person, he had never seen lavender colored magic before.
He turned toward Darren and didn’t sense any palpable magic coming from him. However, it was possible that the girl’s aura was overwhelming his magical ability if he did indeed have some. Looking at the two of them together, it was very apparent they weren’t from around here. Thus, it was possible they had come to the school for the free lectures on Sol’h’meyr or some other information. He inclined his head in greeting and gestured for them to come inside. “I’m Lachlan. I assume you’ve come to the Academy for a reason. Please have a seat.”
The two entered the school and were led to a table by the window. It was a modest space and rather tiny for an academy, regional campus or not. The majority of the wooden walls were lined with bookshelves, writing boards, and paper diagrams. A few tables laid scattered about the single room. A mahogany door led to another in the back.
“Now tell me your purpose for coming here,” Lachlan directed once they sat down and introduced themselves.
Darren looked at Essairyn as she spoke. “We’re recent travelers from Earth; I arrived two days ago, and he arrived just today. I was told that the Knight Mage Academy taught people about Sol’h’meyr free of charge. We were hoping you could enlighten us about this world.”
Lachlan nodded in understanding, fetched two slim booklets from a box, and placed them in front of the travelers. “This is the official account of our history. It’s been passed down from the time of the element gods.”
Essairyn raised a brow. “Official account? That makes it sound like there are other versions.” She picked up the pamphlet which was entitled, “A brief history of Sol’h’meyr.”
“Well,” Lachlan began as a fleeting shadow passed over his mien, “I guess you could say that this is the propagated account given by the reigning elemental royals. The exact details of events have been missing since the Great Elemental War.”
Upon hearing the mention of the same war, Essairyn’s mind flashed back to Akari. What exactly happened in this war that caused both of them to react like this? Considering that the world was created with elemental magic, this Great Elemental War must’ve been quite monumental. She flipped through the booklet which only spanned four small sheets not including the covers. Her eyes immediately spied the name of the war at the end of a paragraph.
It was a losing battle…great destruction wrought upon their kingdoms…split from Sol’h’meyr. …war would cease…protect Cyrienne…only she could fill the elemental void…. …fractured the land….another dimension. …a spacial tear traversed to Earth…dragged countless humans into Sol’h’meyr. …new creatures known as demons and spirits.… ...later became known as the Great Elemental War.
Essairyn furrowed her brows and questioned Lachlan, “This Elemental War, I’ve heard about it before. So the other elemental gods were scared of a power imbalance and tried to kill Cyrienne? But then Water and Light left, so they now needed her. But if she’s so strong, why didn’t she get revenge for her parents?” No matter how she looked at it, Cyrienne was an odd god. Her actions didn’t add up.
“As history described, she acted more human than divine. So it would make sense if she gave the other elemental gods a hard time, especially since now they were all weakened from the war. But she was still a young god who was stowed away in a castle. She grew up with her powers restrained so that she could be hidden successfully. So when the other gods found the castle and sealed her power with the Water and Light sword, they redirected the power to fuel the land while they rested. She probably didn’t even realize she was a god until much later.”
“I guess that makes sense…” Essairyn trailed off and then peered down at the page again to read the rest of the booklet.
“Along with founding As’pyze and As’rien,” Darren interjected after finishing the remaining few paragraphs, “it also said that she created the Knight Mage Academy with the original Knight-Mages. So why are there so many details missing from history and the time after she left for Earth? And who were the Knight-Mages?”
Lachlan’s face hardened slightly as he replied, “The details were destroyed of course. The elementals royals descended from the gods would never allow their history to be marred. They have too much pride for that. The original Knight-Mages were human, but blessed by Cyrienne, they were just as powerful if not more than the royals.”
“So what about now? Where are they? Does the portal still exist?” Darren nearly jumped to the edge of his seat. Even if Cyrienne was no longer here, considering that she was able to transport to Earth through the portal, it probably still existed. The Knight-Mages were her closest aides, so maybe they would know how she was able to travel in reverse and could help them go back too.