Vows; Sacrifice: Prologue

Author: Zou Yongqi (aka LittleGirlyBlogger)
Proofreader/ Editor: Friend
Editor later: DreamingFlower
Words: 2670

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Such a book must contain—
it always does!—a disclaimer.
I make no such. For here
I have collected all the best—
the lily from the field among them,
forget-me-nots and mint weed,
a rose for whoever expected it,
and a buttercup for the children
to make their noses yellow.

Here is clover for the lucky
to roll in, and milkweed to clatter,
a daisy for one judgment,
and a violet for when he loves you
or if he loves you not and why not.
Those who sniff and say no,
These are the wrong ones (and
there always are such people!)—
let them go elsewhere, and quickly!
For you and I, who have made it this far,
are made happy by occasions
requiring orchids, or queenly arrangements
and even a bird-of-paradise,
but happier still by the flowers of
circumstance, cattails of our youth,
field grass and bulrush. I have included
the devil’s paintbrush
but only as a peacock among barn fowl.
An introduction to my Anthology – Marvin Bell
Source: Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2000)

The sound of rustling leaves can be heard as the soft spring wind brushes past them.

“Thank you for allowing me to accompany you, teacher. I will now let them guard you and fulfil the contract.”

After she knelt in front of her teacher, she stands up and walks away. The surroundings are silent and only the soft breeze is heard through the trees, while rays of sunlight shine through and touch the ground.

While unnoticed by the naked eyes, animals inhabited the lustrous fields. The song of their lives could reach your ears, but they will never fill your vision.

It’s a peaceful forest, war is non-existent and hunting was barely present.

The plants could grow here freely without being harvested or collected.

Some could consider this as a jungle, unfortunately, people in this world don’t know of the term ‘jungle’, so it is still called a forest.

Some plants grew a meter, others two, some trees fifty meters, there were even trees that grew a hundred meters and are visible throughout the whole forest.

Even though animals and other creatures here were rarely killed, the killings were signs of humans.

Humans call this ‘The forest of Void’.

Several people have tried to enter this forest, but no one ever came back. Since no one came back, people feared the forest. Humans have made myths, folklore and other stories. Whether you believe them or not is up to yourself. Most of those stories are now just lessons to make little children obedient.

But the cause of these disappearances were several ‘guardians’ protecting the forest from outsiders. Those guardians were, of course no humans, they were of different animal and beast races. Regardless of mice or birds, they were guardians. Trained to be ruthless to outsiders, but still had the brain to estimate their situation. In short, they have a minimal amount of intelligence needed to survive there.

Normally they wouldn’t let any human in the forest, but still, there was a girl walking in a carefree manner in the forest. No one approached her and some even bowed to her in the shadows. It is clear that she has a high position in the forest, but why is a completely different matter.

The 6-year-old girl has clear icy-blue eyes with a golden twinkle that is filled with an unknown feeling yet to be revealed. Her little lips had formed a calm, though childish, which makes you question if she’s an adult or child. Fortunately, it’s very obvious with the appearance.

The wind blows and her long straight black hair, which has a lock of blond strands that would be as bright as the stars you see in the night sky. It looks shiny in the sunlight. It was as long until her mid-back. In her hair, there was a simple, shining silver diadem with purple gems embedded in it. The gems give for some reason a flowery fragrance and aren’t that attention giving despite the gems. They’re actually more like stones since you can’t see through them, but they’re still officially classified as gems.

With a short brown cape with hoodie made out of gabardine and is bound with a black grosgrain ribbon. Underneath the cape is a white, three-quarter-sleeved blouse with raffles and a light blue lace embroidered on the chest area. The embroidery images are snowflakes, stars, and other symbols. It makes it seem childlike, but still very elegant with a hint of mystery.

On her back was a simple backpack. It wasn’t really big, that it was as big as Gemma, but still considerable big when you would look at her length, she is in fact only 1 meter and 15 centimeters tall. The backpack was filled with letters, money, an ornament, spare clothes and other necessary stuff.

Wearing black shorts and a brown leather belt. The shoes are black with dark blue soles. The colours contrast the pure white stockings. The shoes were neither looking brand new, nor signs of being used. They were simple and considered good quality shoes. To be more precise, they’re kung-fu shoes with laces.

On the side of her hips were 2 daggers attached with some rope. They were in simple looking leather hoses. Because of the sheaths, they were looking rather harmless and more for a child with a toy sword. Only if you would pay attention when unsheathed, you would see the blades themselves and notice how dangerous they really were. The hilts are engraved beautifully in unknown patterns and are of an unknown material. The blades were double-edged and suitable for close-combat while maybe could be also thrown.

This girl described is called Gemma. She is currently going to the capital of Deahan, because of a contract that she has to fulfil.

The Deahan Kingdom is specialized in education. Their education is for commoners and nobles. There were different kind of courses and difficulties to study. Children can study there as magic-users and non-magic-users. For nobles and commoners, there are so many possibilities.

The most important rule of the school is ‘Resolve fights with duels’ It’s simple and people are allowed to fight with each other instead of the undergoing bullying. Of course, not everything is resolved with pure fighting, there can be duels with skills too, but let’s leave that for later.

One-third of the kingdom is school ground. That is the western south of the land. It’s on a side where the see is too, so that is also in use. In the past, there were many schools, but after wars and fights over the centuries, they eventually formed one school.

Graduating there will lead you to get many connections and good jobs. Anyone can enter when they have the right capabilities at the entrance exam. It’s one of the best schools in the world, as expected from a country specialised in education.

Apart from the school, the capital is huge and many people come there. The capital is further away from the school.

Now that’s explained, let’s go back to Gemma.

For normal people walk from forest to capital of Deahan is estimated to last around three months. With a carriage – one month. Still, Gemma calculated that it would take about fifteen days.

Gemma is not a normal person, neither is she a normal magic-user. Let’s just say that she’s not normal compared to her peers. But, which protagonist is normal?

So, in this world are magic-users. It’s the collective word of humans who can use magic. Magic is something that can be activated by mana. What that is, it’s a force that balances the world. Those who can use mana are called magic-users. The magic-users are categorized in types.

Mages, those who can use chantless or only use chants to practice spells. They are most of the time good in fast spells. Either their attack power or support spells excel. Mostly they use long-range combat. Like it was stated before, a mage can chant very fast, so can defend themselves fast against witches and warlocks when using poison. They would also be able to chant faster than wizards and sorcerers. Unfortunately for mages, they have to deal with familiars if they’re against them.

Wizards and sorcerers, they use mediums to cast spells. There is a large variety of actions to do activate a chant. Some have to write, while others have to draw a magic circle. Their activations are slower compared to the others, but are more powerful. They can also have familiars to summon. Wizards and sorcerers can chant together and be able to chant very powerful spells. Though mages can do them too, most choose not to chant and have less control over magic. Their familiars cost magic power, but if used correctly, it wouldn’t matter if they do.

Witches and warlocks, those who don’t chant, but do rituals instead of spells. They can fly on brooms and use potions for support of combat. For potions, they know a lot about the characteristics of plants, beasts, and monsters. They mostly work in apothecary or a castle with their potions. Witches and warlocks have to do rituals for chanting spells. Most of the time they’re indirect, like curses or long-time protection spells. They can cast the most powerful spells, but also have to get the right material for it. That’s why they can’t be used for combat. Fortunately, they can scout, thanks to their mediums.

Of course, wind-affinity can do that too, but it costs much more mana for it. Their potions can make a great difference in a fight, so they’re still important. It’s just that most of the time, they can’t really defend themselves. They learn self-defense, but it’s not as powerful as an average swordsman at their level. That’s why they’re always behind the scenes of a fight or war.

Combatants, they combine weapons or martial arts with magic. With strengthening themselves and their weapons, they are very powerful in close-combat. They are strong physically, so they can take some hits from spells. A combatant would be able to resist poison of witches or weak to middle-class spells for a while.

Of course, there are a lot of different types, these are the most general kind of magic-users. Even though there are different types of magic-users, some can be 2 types at the same time. For example, if you can fly and use chants, then you are a wizard and a witch.

This doesn’t happen often, due to it being very difficult to practice and lack of innate talent. It’s still not considered a surprise if there are combined magic-user classes.

In the classes, are more sub-classes or more likely categories, but that is irrelevant for now. These are the main magic-classes. This is enough information for now.

So, now Gemma is going the capital. With a fast pace, she moves. She now wears something that looks like ice-skates. To be more precise, the blades are attached to her shoes. The mechanism is simple, just attach it and when you hear a click, it’s already attached. But if you want you can also call it ice-skates, so let’s go along with that.

About thirty centimetres in front of her, ice is formed. There is no trace behind her of ice, as she removes it immediately. With the fast pace of ice skating and her excellent control over ice, she moves at a good pace.

This control is activating and deactivating spells at a fast pace. It’s very hard because the concentration, calculation and control are hard to make and to estimate.

While exiting the forest, she looks around. Scanning around the area, she finds some bushes with fruit sometime later. She approaches the bush and examines the fruit. After checking if they’re eatable, she harvests the bush.

These fruits are excellent as breakfast and dinner. Didn’t think I would find them here, but I won’t complain about it.

After being done putting the fruit in her backpack, she begins to move again. A few hours later she exits the forest.

Coming out of the forest blinds her temporarily because she was previously in the shades of the trees. Now being in the blinding sun, she feels the rays shining directly on her skin.

“It’s hot,” she mutters annoyed, but shrugs and puts on her hood so to block the sun, “Well, it could be worse I guess.”

After getting used to the light again, the surroundings become clear. A lot of green and mountains are seen. The greenery isn’t bright, but dried so it seems yellowish green. It’s no wonder in this continuous heat. It rains enough, just that it’s still on the bleak side. Roads aren’t really found on these mountains since they’re not really the most suitable for living. There are villages and cities in the area, just not that many compared to cooler places where rain falls more.

While Gemma ice skates in this heat, she ignores the disorientation of the area, because it all looks the same, and skates through the mountains at the same pace as before. On her way, she has seen some traces of people camping and afar some little tribes. Whether they’re human is the question, which is highly likely to be the case.

After an unknown amount of time, she stops and decides to camp next to a tree and sets up a small tent fitting one person, but with Gemma’s size, two or even three people her length could fit in the tent to sleep.

After being done with eating the fruit of this morning and some other edible vegetation she picked up on the way, she grabs a notebook and writes in an unknown language. Writing the pages full with scribbles, you can notice there’s some pattern in each page. Only the pattern is different for each page. It’s unknown what the pages mean.

When it begins to get dark, Gemma hasn’t set up a fire. No, she brought a stone along. Though looking very normal, it gives a pretty bright light when given magic power.

The stone is called ‘Lumistone’. These stones light up when you pour mana in it. It doesn’t need much to light up, but it will need constant mana to keep shining. Many people use it. Adventurers, mercenaries and even just townsfolk. Nobles don’t use them as much, because it’s hard to maintain them in a huge mansion. Mostly they would use them as desk lamps or flashlight.

Anyways, Gemma continues to scribble down some page and goes to sleep afterwards

Continuing this cycle of living, she eventually finds more people and because of that, she unequips her ice skates when people pass by. When they’re out of sight, she will equip them again and continue ice skating. Not on paths, but just through the mountains.

When passing by humans, they would give each a different expression. Some worried, others with greed and some were indifferent. Even though people were looking at her with strange faces, she ignored it. The strange faces were naturally due to her age. Anyone would think it is odd. The only thing is that those who wanted her for money would end up with empty hands since she would get away very fast. In the greenery, it isn’t really difficult to hide.

After 10 days, she ends up in even a hotter area, but that doesn’t withhold her from using ice-magic for skating. It only costs more mana and so the journey is taking a bit longer. Trying to avoid where humans live, she has to go a bit around some places, but it’s still peaceful. Food is harder to find, but still available.

About a week later, it’s raining heavily. Who knows how long the rain will last. Even though this should be a disadvantage for her journey, it’s actually easier to advance now. Gemma has fewer problems with forming ice since there is more water now to form ice. The only unfortunate thing is that her clothes go pretty wet except for her head, because her cape is of really good quality and blocks the rain.

It took about twenty-five days in total, but she was finally at the capital. It took longer than she thought, but that wasn’t a problem. On her journey, she sometimes saw that there were beasts, that for some reason didn’t dare to approach her. Maybe it was an instinct of beasts, but who knows why.

Anyways, now she is at the entrance of the capital. After giving the guards her paper, they looked suspicious at her, but couldn’t say anything. The papers were all official and age was out of their jurisdiction, so all they could do was let her pass and maybe give some advice or a warning.

“Welcome to Westford lass, the capital of the country with the best education you can get. Be careful you don’t get in trouble,” a guard says smiling.

Gemma nods with a bright smile to him and enters the city.

Table of Content | Next Chapter >>

This is the prologue of my first story! What do you think? Are you curious? Well, I hope so and if not, well, everyone has his or her own preferences. To be honest, I am not really that far with how much I wrote, but I’ll try to upload at least monthly. I’m slow and I have other things too. I hope you won’t mind. There won’t be coming anything from Patreon or something with this since I don’t want to earn money from it. I do hope you will share it with people you know and whether you like it or not. If I feel like it, I may make some extras for Christmas, Valentine’s day and those things. It really depends on how much time I have and if I have something to write.

If you’re unfamiliar with some terms….uhhh, I had links open for them on the words but It seems they disappeared. When I feel like it, I’ll add them again, maybe.

Well, that’s my long rambling! Also like I say: copy-pasting I don’t care much, but would like to know where. And if you are kind enough, put my credits in it too!

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