You can find chapters 1 – 8 here.
The news that I was not the only one from planet earth was at the same time comforting and scary. I wondered how he had managed to arrive in Illusio and to leave behind the boundaries of our world. After all, I was catapulted here by being at the right place at the right time in a video game. He had not only managed to arrive here once, but twice. Maybe he had brought magic or another special Illusian technology with him to earth. I caught myself wondering if I’d be able to be a skilled sorcerer.
Our ship was moving across the sea swiftly and effortlessly. I was standing on deck and enjoying the cool spring winds. My gaze followed the ship steadily causing waves at its side. The day before, after the revelation of my fellow traveller, Seraphina and Laurenar had gone on to tell me about the current situation in Illusio.
Smaller cities and villages had begun to rebel against the queen. The reasons they used were minor compared to the ones used in history. They claimed the taxes levied by the queen were too high and that they weren’t treated with enough respect. My predecessor as a visitor intended to be known as the conqueror of Illusio. He styled himself as a god from another world. The towns followed his lead and wanted to be ruled by this ‘god’, unaware of the consequences it might bring. Queen Sophia remained cautious. She did not want war to break out and was eager to avoid any casualties. So the army remained back at the capital. The forces were training there and waiting for new orders. Only one action was taken to combat the Chosen One, which was one of the many monikers our enemy used: To summon me to this world.
Now I was standing on the deck of the Crimson Crocodile, watching it fly over the water, hoping to catch a glimpse our destination, the silver lighthouse.
“We think you can convince him to return to your world with you. Or at least we hope that will happen.” Seraphina appeared next to me with a worried tone in her voice.
“Why would I be able to do that? ” My tone was extremely skeptical and my eyes were still focused on the water. I looked up to see her smile reappear. Behind her at the horizon the sun was rising and her long, red hair was floating playfully in the wind. She was beautiful. Seeing her there with me felt oddly reassuring. I was equally grateful for the presence of Laurenar, who I could see next to captain Drake on the lookout for our destination.
“That is where the lighthouse comes in. The queen said it would be able to answer some of your questions. And also some of ours.”
“Did he take anything with me to Earth when you sent him back the first time?”
She shook her head. “Only the knowledge of our world.”
I sighed. “That wasn’t enough for him.”
“I guess not.” She turned around and gazed towards the rising sun. “This world is stunning and has been peaceful since Sophia won the last war against the three dukes. But it seems the old wounds have not healed yet. Towns and provinces are eager to follow the first who promises them lower taxes and more power.”
Seraphina walked back under deck and my thoughts wandered back to the history lesson Laurenar had given me the day before:
The short war was the latest defining moment of Illusio’s history. Queen Sophia’s mother had died shortly after childbirth and Sophia was raised at the academy of the arts, while her father ruled at court. When she was six years old, the king fell ill and began to appear weaker with every passing day. He was a strong man and still in his best years, so he survived longer than most of his close friends thought he would. But when the king passed away, Sophia was still a very young girl, unable to take on the full duties and responsibilities of a queen. Some of the power hungry dukes and counts saw the perfect opportunity to either use her as a puppet or seize the power openly. The masters of the academy prevented her from being harmed, but the high lords waged wars against each other to win the crown on the battlefield.
The wizards had considerable influence over her education and quickly noticed that Sophia would not remain a weak young girl forever forever. She learned a great deal about the world and what awaited her. But most importantly, the queen became a quick learner and a great listener. These two qualities were incredibly helpful in her youth. She listened to everyone’s stories and problem, genuinely caring about the lives of her people. While she didn’t grasp everything she heard at first, her natural intuition allowed her to pick up when people were hiding or sugarcoating information. Sophia was lucky to be sheltered in the city, which remained firmly loyal to her and her family. In the country side however, the war between the three dukes of the high council and the forces loyal to her waged back and forth.
As Laurenar told me, those battles made him what he was today as he fought for the queen’s forces and served as a young officer among her knights. When the queen was 16, her education at the academy ended and it was time for the regents, who were a group consisting of a general, a wizard and a lord, to hand over power to her, queen Sophia the First. The crowd erupted in cheers when she was crowned, as many of them had either witnessed her compassion firsthand or heard about it through acquaintances. The young queen was determined to show her strength from the first moment and it was Laurenar, who came up with the plan that decided the war. In a surprising and highly risky move, her forces abandoned the skirmishes in the country side and retreated back to the city, where they lined up along the gate, which today was known as the Gate of Glory. Of course, the army of the council of three found the thought of sacking the city irresistible.
They attacked the city with fervor, but were hit back by a formidable defense, focused on driving their opponents back. The battle for the city went back and forth for three days. On the fourth day, the queen appeared on the city wall, dressed in a dark blue gown with the silver lion embroidered on her chest. She began to sum quietly and slowly, growing louder and picking up the pace of her tune along the way. Suddenly, dark clouds starting forming in the previously blue sky, casting shadows on the plains the soldiers stood on. A storm was brewing. After her song had reached the final crescendo, she stopped and offered the three dukes the opportunity to surrender. They refused, and the queen unleashed the storm on the enemies’ camp. The temperatures on the plains dropped to arctic levels. A hail shower set in, sending down heavy pellets of frozen rain the size of tennis balls on the opposing army. Lightning struck left and right, igniting the tents and grass spread across the plains. Deafening thunder scared away the livestock and horses and rendered the commands of their officers useless. The storm had left the unprepared army of the dukes in disarray. The queen watched the spectacle from the wall and when she gave the signal for attack, victory came easily and surrender came quickly.
I remembered reliving a similar battle in the video game version of Illusio, but when I wanted to expand that thought, the bellowing voice of Drake announced good and bad news: “Pirates! And Land!”
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An elusive hero, the story, is taking a break in the next two weeks as I’ll take the time to make a thorough edit of what I’ve written so far. But an elusive hero, the blog, will remain active, starting with a special two-week series next Monday. Posting days remain the same: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Stay tuned and enjoy your weekend!