A few notes ahead. This is my NaNoWriMo project, and I will put updates on it for those who want to read. Here are the first three chapters. The chapters are mostly based off of words needed. So each are about 2,500 words long. [align=center]Table of Contents Chapter I: It Was Called Shintaion Chapter II: A Debt to a Thief is Always Repaid Chapter III: Saviors Live in Odd Places Chapter IV: An Old Grudge with an Old Fart Chapter V: Last Words, a Parting with Explosives Chapter VI: With White Hair Comes Experience Chapter VII: The Weirder They are, the More Helpful They Become Chapter VIII: Tournaments are for Villains and Flashbacks Chapter IX: Wait What Just Happened? Chapter X: The Cute, Vicious, and Gullible Chapter XI: The Word Extinction is Never True Chapter XII: Getting Help Always Requires Side Quests Chapter XIII: Wait What Just Happened, Again? Chapter XIV: Mad Scientists Lurk in the Forest, or Was That Wolves Chapter XV: Random Extras Make for Good Demonstration Chapter XVI: Why do They Wait to Show Power? Chapter XVII: Killard is a Villain’s Name Chapter XVIII: Always Resolve Sub-Plots Before the Final Battle Chapter XIX: Final Battle, This Time we are Serious Chapter XX: Make Room for Seconds[/align] [align=center]Chapter I: It was Called Shintaion[/align] There were many stories told about this one continent in the world. Unfortunately each story began about some conflict, a war, brewing between two separate groups. It was not long before another one sparked and engulfed Shintaion once again in the flames of war. This war was unlike any ever before, as technology had advanced to the point of human dominance. Fearing other species such as the demons from Colt, the elves from Solemn, even the elemental beasts from Azull, the humans took measure to see to the extinction of several races. The first to fall was the ones of the forest, the elves. Taken by surprise, the elvish kingdom quickly fell to the gun shots from the human battalion. In one night the elves, which have always followed the old ways, were gone. The demons did not take kindly to the act of genocide and readied their arms. Due to their power and personal talents the war was dragged on for seven years. In the end humans found the winds of victory were blowing on their side. The Monarchy of Colt put up a last ditch effort to protect its people. The North Eastern castle was the standing ground of their king and queen, Alastor and Salika. AS the crimson blood stained much of the grand hall, the humans rested their flag upon the castle top. It signified not just the extermination of the royal family, but also the beginning of a hunt most gruesome. The years later were riddled with the genocidal tendencies of humans. Fearing the same fate, the elemental beasts were forced into a treaty. With their appearance not differing much from humans, besides the animalistic features on them, they were well accepted into a peace. This left the demons and the elves all for the humans as Azull was declared a neutral city. The head hunt was called off only a year later as the humans began to realize they needed to seek a way to better their living standards. President Vol S. Marconis launched an effort to organize the cities they claimed into circular based living quarters. The buildings of the residents, the businesses, and the industries were to be built around a system of towers at the middle of each city. The amount of towers signified the importance of each city and the grandest of all cities, Nostria, was built at the center of Shintaion itself with its mighty seven towers. Later these cities came to be known as Tower States. It took a grand total of fifty years to build from the rubble of the destroyed cities. It was an amazing effort and one that sadly surpassed the life span of the former president. His dream was not to be seen by him but his successor, President Robert M. Killard. It was a glorious thing to see the cities completed, but so unfulfilling to see the efforts go to waste. The first thing on President Killard’s shoulders was an economic crisis. With so much money sourced from other countries to build the cities, it was no question as to why the debt of Shintaion was so large. It would be suffering for all as Shintaion would try to struggle out of this dilemma. There was also increased rebellious activity which did not add such good news to Killard’s hearings. There were three forces that stood up against him, the Kinito Gang of Colt, the Beelz of Faris, and the Prophets of Seren. Loud cries from the cities could not be defended as the military was lacking at the time. Faris and Seren fell to the gangs, but Kinito remained at war with the inners of Colt. Such a crisis warranted severe action and Killard seized the opportunity. With his army barely a shell of its former self, he pleaded to the United Countries Bureau for some military aid. The hearing lasted for well over an hour and in the end he was given General Sizam and his forces which was nearly one hundred thousand strong. Unfortunately it was too late for Faris and Seren and they were left to waste. Instead the units were deployed to guard the perimeter of the remaining cities. With stability now accomplished it was onto the bigger and better things. But what of the people who were still suffering from this recession? For one orphaned boy, it was tough but not impossible to live. His hair was a jet black and his eyes a crystal blue. His face was dirtied by lack of showering and his clothes matched. The unpleasant dirt grey of his shirt made him look like a real bum, but in his heart he was a hard worker. He still seemed like a child as his size came around five feet. Behind him was a sleigh with several boards rotting. It was the easiest thing to drag through the snow and slush this time of the year. The snow made it difficult to grow anything, so they had to rely on the program provided by the Nostrian Government. A group called the Nostrian Relief Organization, or NRO, prided themselves in helping out the needy. This organization liked the media coverage they got and always it made them look like saints. In reality Shi, and everyone else for that matter, really detested the idea of others using the poor as a garbage disposal for their cans of expired beans, vegetables, and soups. Because they had no choice but to accept, there was no real complaining. The last person who did so was taken in by a Nostrian soldier and was never seen again. The slosh of the snow attracted the attention of the man at the front gate. Shi was well recognized there as he was the delivery boy for an entire area affected by the recession. “So your back, huh? Must be Tuesday, or is it Thursday?” The guard questioned his tone showing some excitement, as if he got any as a guard of the most secure city in all of Shintaion. “It is Thursday sir.” Shi replied addressing him in a most formal manner. He had not much respect for the authority these soldiers were given, but rather the fire power they carried. A little dim witted the guards were, but each of them carried a normal triple burst rifle allowing their word to be the last. Keeping that in mind, Shi proceeded to accept the expired cans of food. He loaded several boxes up on the sleigh and gave a farewell to the guard. This trip home gave Shi time to think about things. Not all of it was coherent but sometimes he imagined living a normal life with parents. The Congregation, as most have come to call it, was a collection of cheap run down housing that could be used during the winter months. Walls on these buildings were not all that high quality and several of them had holes through it. Outisde the wind kicked around freshly washed laundry hung by the people assigned that job. Everyone was happy to pitch in a helping hand where needed. With any kind of small civilization like this, there was always a ruler. That ruler was the land lord of the area who preferred to be called by her name than by her position, Miss Charwell. She was around five feet nine inches and her hair was well underway of graying. Her hair was curly and the color strands left were dark brown. She liked to wear red dresses that she picked up. Everyone on the outside of the security was considered crazy and her no exception. It was actually her attitude toward getting expired cans that led her to giving the job to Shi. Her relation with the boy was like that of a distant elder and a child. She gave him advice and tried to look after him at the same time look after everyone else. Shi pulled up with his sleigh of boxes catching Miss Charwell’s eyes right away. “Oh Shi, nice to see you are back in one piece.” She said her voice slightly raspy. One could swear that it was a smoker’s cough when it was actually her job history. Before she worked in one of the industrial plants outside of the city. They provided power for most of the residence as well as the commercial district inside the walls. Before the development of the clean fuel technology by the Nostrian Science Division the factories were riddled with smoke and other toxic, unclean particles. Falling victim to this has made Miss Charwell look and sound older than she actually was. “Why would I not get back in one piece?” Shi questioned as she was showing more concern for him than usual. “I heard there were a couple bandits on the street recently. They say they steal the rations being delivered.” She explained trying to press the feeling of concern she had. “So you be careful out there on your own.” Shi only sighed as her worry only made him worry about her worrying. It was a confusing feeling but he knew it was best to heed her advice rather than try and prove his worth. Before Shi actually accepted Charwell, he went out and got into some intense fights. He always came back with bruises and bumps all over him. It was miraculous that they all healed up by the day after but she started showing a glint of care for the boy after his first fight. Now he understands what he should fight for rather than aimlessly attracting violence. “Heather came by a few minutes ago.” Charwell said as she noticed Shi sit down by a fire near her. “She wanted to know where you were. I told her you were off on an errand.” “What? I should go see her right away then.” Shi said getting up quickly and taking off down the streets. As he left Miss Charwell put on a small smile, the kind that mothers put on when they know something nobody else does. Heather was part of the Halberd family, daughter of Arthur Halberd. Arthur was the lead man behind the government’s attempts at creating a better world and led the political end of the economy. His election was swift over the previous head of economics. With things constantly deteriorating people resorted to new hope in Arthur. His smile could bring that same sense of hope and renewal to a room of twenty pessimistic gentlemen. His efforts proved fruitful as the economic state of Nostria finally stabilized. His actions were so effective that they even offered him a spot as economics advisor at the UC building in Abscus. He declined the position as he loved where he was and so did his family. Both his wife and daughter had gotten to know the people outside of the Nostrian walls as they chose to live in an estate there. The estate itself was not that far away from The Congregation. The manner itself was a three story building built in an old Victorian style. There were two towers at either end of the front. They were pretty much for effect as the rest of the home was inviting. Shi rang the door bell once and Maria Halberd answered. “Hello Shi, Heather has been looking for you.” “Is she here?” He asked in a kinder tone than he gave to the guard. Maria smiled and let Shi in. “Heather is upstairs in our library. How is Miss Charwell doing?” She asked before Shi took off. “She is fine, just delivered a supply to her a few minutes ago.” Shi replied heading up the spiral stair case. At the third floor he stopped looking through a larger room. It had the feel of a small time library even though it was Arthur’s own private one. Heather was at a desk set in the middle of the shelves. Her hair was a sandy light brown which was resting on her shoulders. She was wearing yellow nearly white shirt with a white long skirt to match. Her eyes were a jade green and took a brief moment to look up from the book she was reading. “Shi look what I found!” Heather said happy to see Shi. Her serious studying face had gone to happy and light hearted in just a few short seconds. She dragged Shi over to the book she was reading. It was a old book from the look of it, something that would probably have been banned from Vol’s rule. During the first President’s rule he abolished all books that talked of Elves and Demons and administered total extermination of the existence of such a specie. During this event he also ordered the destruction of the mages’ books they used to study from. It was his effort to make technology the one remaining force in the world. “What is it? It looks old and possibly illegal.” Shi said trying to make out what was the faded title. “It is old and I found it stowed away in the back of a bookshelf in Father’s study.” She said trying to guise her stealing with a sense of adventure. “I know you like looking at the new books we get so I thought you might want to look at this one.” Shi was an avid reader and first came to the Halberd house looking for a book. After finding this library he came back day by day and caught the attention of Heather. They became friends in the very same library several years ago. Ever since Shi had tried to learn from the books he read and was really good at translating languages. He was even able to translate old dead languages. “I suppose I can try and decipher it.” Shi said still trying to make out the title. He rubbed his hand over the front and found that the title was actually engrave in the soft leathery front. “We need paper and pencil.” Shi said looking around. Heather knew where they were and went straight for them. She was back in seconds with the materials. He put the paper to the book and rubbed the pencil over it. Slowly a few characters from the old language formed on the paper. “What does it mean?” Heather asked unsure about her translation skills. “It is really old, but I think after literally translating it the phrase means, I Can’t See Your Love.” Shi said debating whether or not he had it right. “So it is a romance story? Oh that is cool!” Heather said almost ready to squeal in excitement. Shi began flipping through the pages of hand written characters. Eventually he just stopped at one point near the end of the book. He took a bit of time to read it to himself before looking up at Heather. “I highly doubt it is a romance novel. This page alone describes an intense fight with an enemy, one that is said to exist in a place called The Underworld.” He pointed to a emphasized set of lettering which supposedly meant The Underworld. “Is it history then?” Heather asked still curious about it. “If it is history then it probably dates back before the war.” Shi suggested as he rubbed the spine of the book. It was much worn down and made it seem a lot older than just a few decades old. “Shi, perhaps we can talk about this book…in private.” Heather suggested even though they were practically alone now. “In private? What do you mean?” Shi asked looking around to see if someone was spying on them. “Well, perhaps we could go out to the old clock tower in the middle of Nostria Plains. I heard that it is supposed to be beautiful with the moon out and everything.” Heather said hoping Shi would agree. Shi was not dense and knew what she was suggesting. He tired to hide a bit of his own blush as he replied. “Alright, when should we go?” “Would tonight be alright?” Heather asked rather quickly. “Sure.” Shi smiled closing up the book. He packed up his things and ran down the stairs. “I will need to get ready.” “Alright, I will meet you outside the house later.” Heather said looking at the clock. It read seven thirty and the sun was almost below the horizon.