Newbie Initiation Part 1
Thunder boomed in the black sky overhead, and the rapid drum of rain bouncing off of the city's magical forcefield echoed through the streets. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning lit the night sky, it's deadly tendrils dancing along the protective dome as it struck. The accompanying thunder did not quite completely muffle the startled gasps that rose from the south-east corner of the castle courtyard.
Huddled there in the darkness stood a group of seven -- a hint of childlike wonder still visible on their brave faces as they watched the light show above. They each silently thanked the gods for being safely within the walls of the fair and magical City of Medievia on this stormy night. Anxiously, they took turns peering into the shadows, wondering what was to befall them on this night, the eve of their adulthood.
"There is a storm a-comin'!" a voice breathed from the darkness. "Well, technically, I suppose its already here." A shudder ran through the group at the faceless chuckle that followed. "Come! The midnight hour approaches swiftly, and there is much that you should know before it strikes!" As the last words echoed off the cobblestones, seemingly out of nowhere stepped a woman, her violet cloak billowing out behind her, and her long, dark hair catching in the slight breeze. Her eyes flashed in the dim light of the courtyard as she took appraisal of the group before her with a sweeping glance. "Quickly!" She beckoned them to follow her through a doorway to the south.
The group hurried after her, their anxiousness split between, first, their natural instinct to have a protective roof between themselves and the disturbing, lightning lit dome above, and second, their desire to see what secrets would be revealed during the night ahead. The last of the group paused a moment before he entered, glancing over his shoulder once more to take in the view of the courtyard and the majestic staircase sweeping up towards Castle Medievia. He smiled to himself, realizing that the next time he took in this view he would officially be an adult, two decades old, and on his way to proving himself as a hero of the land. "Tomorrow, Medievia," he whispered to the darkness, "Tomorrow you will come to know Marchan, and find out exactly what I'm made of!" Still smiling to himself, he quickly turned and entered through the door.
Marchan blinked as he stepped into the large, circular room, his eyes taking a moment to adjust to the change in light. The scent of wax and burning herbs filled his head. Wooden tables and chairs had been pushed back to the perimeter of the room, and each was heavily laden with dozens of wax pillars of varying sizes and colors. A steep staircase wound its way along the curved wall in the back of the room, disappearing into the floor above. Candle light flickered throughout, gleaming off of the well polished wood surfaces. Glancing down, he could see his face reflecting back at him off of the freshly waxed wood floor, it's surface a seamless checkerboard of light and dark woods.
In the center of the room stood the woman they followed, the soft leather of her boot tapping on the floor almost silently as she watched the group enter. The flickering of the candle light made it difficult to pinpoint her age -- although she appeared not much older than himself, it was obvious to Marchan that she had much experience as an adventurer. She stood there, chewing her lip, with her arms crossed and her vivid cloak flung over her shoulder. When their gazes met across the room, Marchan couldn't decide if the glint in her eye meant she was holding back a laugh or a scream. He decided that perhaps it was a little of both when she winked at him, grinning broadly.
On the floor a few feet in front of her sat a large brazier, the burning leaves within it releasing a heady scent into the air. A small cast-iron tea kettle sat in the middle of the brazier, resting on the hot coals. In a circle around the fire were large cushions, each constructed of a luxurious fabric in various shades of green and gold. Seated cross-legged on the cushion farthest from the door was another woman -- this one quite obviously an elf.
Dressed head to toe in green leather, her pointed ears and breathtaking features were framed by the golden waves of hair cascading over her shoulders. She smiled in warm greeting, her vivid blue eyes sparkling with humor as she met, in turn, each gaze as it became riveted on her.
After a moment, a persistent, background cough made itself evident and captured everyone's attention -- with the help of a billowing purple cape and a shower of orange sparks. Her cloak flaring around her, the dark haired woman stepped forward, blocking the elf from view. "Well. Um. Yeah," she said, crossing her arms again. "Yeah," she repeated. "Sit. Be quiet. Listen to the Ranger." She paused for a moment, and bit her lip. "Behave. Don't screw up." She grinned suddenly, planting her hands on her hips. "Yup. That's it! Later!" With a quick wave she dashed off, disappearing up the starecase at the back of the room.
"Welcome," a soft voice spoke.
****end part 1**********