2.6 – The Legends of the Hynafol

What happened to the Hynafol?
Why, they disappeared.
Why did the Hynafol go?
They had something they feared.
What scared the Hynafol?
The eyes up in the sky.
What did it do to the Hynafol?
It made everyone die.

– Song the Gorsydd Ruins morgen sings

“How’s Ah’m?”

“He should be fine in a few days or so. He’s got a quick health regeneration rate. It’s the only reason he’s been alive as long as he has. Normally he’d be up and about in a few hours, but he got hit pretty bad, stabbed right through the stomach.”

“Oh. Where’s he now?”

“I put him in the room we came in, the one kinda like up here with all the pillows. Looked the comfiest.”

“Will he be safe there?”

“Should be fine for now. Nothing really lives down there. Not for miles, anyway. You were just unlucky with the naitaka. What are you going to do with him?” Nattiq nods towards Oroesi.

“Ah, he’s a guardian now, I guess. That reminds me.” I pull the owl cat from my space and put it on a pillow. “I have another.”

“Woah, is that an owl cat? How’s you do that? It popped out of nowhere.”

“You could call it sleight of hand.” I grin. Oroesi takes one look at the griffin and bares his teeth.

“Girl or boy?”

“Timp’s a girl. I also have these.” I pull out the pigmy bunnies as well.

“No really. How are you doing that? You can’t call it sleight of hand. You don’t have any hands.”

“Just something I can do, I guess. Ah, Oroesi, don’t eat the poor bunny! I only have two. At least wait until they mate or something.” I quickly make a new room below this treetop patio and pull the bunnies into it so that they’re out of Oroesi’s reach. It’s a good thing I did, ’cause Timp also looked ready to pounce. I call up some sliver fish with a pot of soil and carpet the bunnies’ floor.

“I think I’ll have to do some redecorating. My room arrangement is not the most logical at the moment,” I say, mentally dusting off my hands and settling into the pillows. I watch as Timp takes a swipe at Oroesi.

“You can move your rooms around?”

“I haven’t tried it yet, but I got I skill recently that makes it sound like I can.”

“That’s freaking cool! I wish I had something like that.” I turned my attention to look at him.

“You’re weird, Nattiq. How would this be useful at all to you? Aren’t you an adventurer?”

“What does that have to do with it?” He harrumphed.

“Don’t you just go around fighting monsters or something?”

“Well, yeah, kinda… I do more than that though.” He sighed and pulled out a knife and started cleaning the underside of his nails.

“Like what?”

“Adventurers are more like road sweepers, honestly. We keep the major roads safe and clear of monsters so that people can travel. We also deliver letters and packages, work as guards or escorts, or explore surrounding areas to make sure the typography hasn’t changed or document it if it does, but only high-ranking adventurers do the last one. Sometimes, we help out city guards if there’s a monster wave, or some help out in various armies whenever there’s a war or they decide to have a monster raid. Other than that we’re jack-of-all-trades, helping out whenever someone has a request. But yeah, the main duty is to sweep the roads. I don’t really know why they call us adventurers other than it being a name from a long time ago.”

I pause and think about what he said. I always though adventurers were more like a ragtag bunch of mercenaries under one organization. I wasn’t wrong, but they actually seemed to have more of a purpose in society than their name would suggest. Sweepers, huh? I wonder how dangerous it is out there. Am I the only one floundering?

“Hey, tell me more about the world.”

“What about it?”

“I don’t really know anything honestly.”

“Hm… I don’t really know where to start. The world’s really big. I haven’t even seen any of it even though I’ve traveled the most out of everyone I know except probably Ah’m or Mam-gu. I guess I could start with the bedtime story my mom used to tell.”

“Bedtime story?”

“You sound sceptical. It’s a pretty good history of the world, though, so just listen.” Nattiq sits down and leans up against a pillow. Oroesi follows his lead while keeping a good distance away from Timp, who pretends to fall asleep, but keeps an eye cracked on Oroesi. I sigh. I have a feeling that these two won’t get along. I can feel a headache brewing already.

“It goes like this: There was a time long, long ago, back when man had no fear of monsters. There were only three nations then, a queendom ruled by a wise and gracious queen, an oligarchy ruled by ten men of skill and learning, and a principality ruled by a strong and noble prince. Under them, the people lived long and flourished. Their lives expanded into the ages, and some even say the people could live forever. These nations stretched into the ends of the world, and the lights of their city never dimmed. They had carts and carriages that moved by their own power and moved faster than birds fly. Their magic was strong enough that a simple soldier could slay a dragon. Gems and precious metals lined their streets, people were clothed in colorful silk, each home a mansion tiled in amber gold and fire rubies, and monsters were docile under their hands. The story embellishes them even more but I forget the rest, but if you want to go by tavern tales, some people say they could fly, walk on water, raise people from the dead, move mountains and seas, even travel though the stars.”

“That sounds a bit hard to believe.” I mentally scratch my head. Still, bits and pieces of this story sound like I’ve heard it before. Carriages moving by their own power and traveling through the stars, huh?

“It does, doesn’t it. But these people’s ruins last forever. We still use their roads. They criss-cross the country and offer the safest way from one place to another. Any good adventurer knows them like the back of their hand.”

“What about all the gold and stuff. What happened to all that treasure?”

“Who knows. The books have illustrations of the cities, and multiple scholars on the subject over the years have confirmed in the ruins that, yeah, they were one lined with that stuff. But if people came and stole it all over the years, or if it all just vanished, no one really knows. I’m not sure which one I believe. Strangely enough, sometimes people still find ancient weapons, armour, or accessories in random ruins. All our knowledge of these ancient kingdoms comes from the murals and books found in them.”

“If thieves stole amber gold from the walls, why didn’t they take the weapons or the books?”

“Who knows. It’s a question that’s baffled centuries of scholars.”

“Well, what happened to the people, then? The ones from back then?”

“They don’t really know that either. The records just stop after the reign of Prince Hamaladrid VIII of the Iridian Principality. Some think they just vanished along with the amber gold, others think there was a natural disaster that wiped out almost all of the population. The ruins don’t really suggest a natural disaster, though. Almost all of them look like someone just left the table for a moment. Kind of haunting, actually.”

“How many have you been to?”

“Somewhere between fifty and a hundred. I never really counted. They’re all over the place. A couple of scholars have even suggested that there might be a city under the Rhew. There’s actually a pretty big possibility of there being one if the records are anything to go by. It’s become something of a legend, actually. The City of the Hynafol in the Great Northern Expanse: Dinas Aur.” His eyes sparkled as he said the name. “Sadly, no one’s been able to find it yet even though the people who have looked for it must be in the tens of thousands.”

“What’s the Hynafol?”

“That’s what scholars call the people of that age, the Hynafol.”

“Does the bedtime story stop there?”

“No, it continues, though, scholars debate its accuracy.”

“Who are these scholars?”

“They’re from all over, but they’ve all studied at the College of Dysg. Mostly they serve as chancellors for various countries.”

“What does the story say?”

“Simply that the world died.”

“What?”

“There came a day when the world shook and heaved in on itself. The sky turned red and stars rained down from the sky. The sun was dyed a sickening black and two large eyes opened in the heavens. The earth and seas gathered themselves together and rose into the air to do battle with the eyes in the sky, only the eyes blinked and the earth and seas fell to the ground once more. The world returned to how it once was, only the people grew weaker than the monsters, and so they died. This was because the will of the world had vanished.”

“Woah.”

“Yeah, woah.”

“Why do they dispute it?”

“There’s no evidence for it. Nothing suggests that any major disasters like that have happened. Of course it could have been covered up over the years. The world’s topography doesn’t stay the same for long. One day there’s a mountain there, the next there’s not. Only the ruins seem to ever stay the same. But still, scholars say if it did happen, it would have left lasting changes no matter how long ago it was. Not to mention that the will of the world never vanished.”

“Will of the world?”

“The screens. Everyone sees them. They transmit the will of the world. We still have them, so it can’t be that the world died.”

A chill runs through my core. “What do you think?”

“Me? I’m more inclined to believe the scholars. Afterall, it’s only a story to tell children at night.”

“Don’t most stories have a kernel of truth though?”

“Yeah, but Haven, eyes opening in the sky? That’s a little bit too fantastical.”

I swallow, but continue my train of thought. “What if the will of the world really did die, though. Ah’m says that the river of souls is dimming. The world is dying.”

“But–but the will is still here. People see it all the time! Look I can even pull it up. You can’t see it, but I’m looking at it right now, so how can the will be dead? What does that even mean, that the world’s dying? It looks fine to me.”

“The river of souls–”

“Look. Just stop. The river of souls is fine. It has to be. If it wasn’t, someone would have noticed it long ago.”

“Ah’m noticed. I can feel it dimming, too.”

“Ah’m’s just a stupid fish. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And what can you say, really? I can tell just by looking at you, you’re a rock. How can you feel anything?”

“Is there a reason you don’t want it to be true?” I angrily shout. Nattiq launches to his feet.

“It’s freaking ridiculous! It makes absolutely no sense!” He yells back.

“It makes perfect sense! You’re just denying it!”

“What are you saying?! You’re delusional!”

“You’re the delusional one! You just don’t want to even think about the possibility that there’s something out there eating souls! Otherwise your grandma would be long gone!”

Nattiq freezes. “What did you say?”

“What, that you’re delusional? Or that your grandma is gone. Face it, you know it’s true.” I quip.

“No, not that. The–the other thing.”

“…that something’s eating souls.” I watch as he sits down heavily and shivers.

“Eating souls? Why–why do you think that?”

“Why does that matter? You don’t seem to care anymore that the river of souls is dimming.”

“The Siellose. No, it can’t be.”

“What? What can’t be?”

“No, I must be wrong. I have to be. Haven, what made you say that?”

“First let me confirm something. What color are your screens, the ones that you normally see?”

“They’re red, why?” It’s my turn to freeze.

“Haven, everyone’s are red. Why does it matter?”

“…mine are…” I whisper.

“What did you say?”

“Mine aren’t red,” I say. Nattiq stares at me. “Mine–mine are blue.”

“Yours are blue?” His stare turns even more disbelieving.

“Nattiq, I’m scared. After you identified me as legendary, something–something looked at me. It looked at me, and it was like it was going to eat me. It eyes were massive, and it was red, so very red. I’m afraid it will come back.”

“I was–what was I…?”

“You. you and Ah’m. I don’t know what happened, but you both turned creepy. It was like you were possessed. Both your eyes were completely red, you looked like you were about to attack me.”

“But, what–why?”

“Something chased it off. Nattiq, I don’t think I’m originally from this world. I have these… hazy memories of somewhere else. Something brought me here, and that something drove off those red eyes. I think it help you and Ah’m, too, because you both collapsed and were unconscious for hours after that. I don’t know what would have happened if that thing kept possessing you.”

Nattiq’s frown deepens.

“Why didn’t you say anything about this earlier.”

“I don’t know. I didn’t know what it meant. Even the quest I got after the eira came just confused me more.”

“What quest?”

“I’m not sure. Save our souls, or something. It was weird. I couldn’t read it, and it was really hurting my head. That’s where it said something was eating the souls.”

Nattiq shivers.

“What?” I ask.

“I got a quest, too,” he says in a jolting manner. “It was to conquer a legendary dungeon.” I stare in horror.

“You mean, people are coming? To kill me?” My voice cracks. Nattiq stares at the floor, not answering my question.

“I didn’t think anything of it. I mean, you’re a dungeon, of course people are going to try an conquer you. But, it was just so sudden, and why would there be a system quest? System quests hardly ever happen, and not ever for something people would have done anyway. Plus, it says you’re dangerous. How are you dangerous? In what way? You’re nice and smart and you honestly wouldn’t hurt anything, and you’re even way up in the Rhew. How could that be dangerous? Everyone knows dungeons mind themselves. So, why would the will set a quest, and that massive reward? Unless…unless you want to harm the will.” His head jerks up and he focuses on me. Red begins to bleed across his eyes.

“Nattiq? Nattiq, your eyes!” He lurches forward towards me, a sword suddenly in his hand. Oroesi chimes in alarm and comes between me and Nattiq. Timp lunges at Nattiq ankles, but the selkie just ignores her.

“Nattiq stop! Please! Don’t! You’re scaring me!” I scream as Nattiq raises his sword. He slashes down, aiming at my core. Oroesi flies up and the sword slices against his side. The eira crumples to the ground.

“Oroesi!” I scream and launch ice missiles at Nattiq. He manages to block most of them, but one stabs through his leg and another catches him on the side of the his head, knocking him to the ground.

“Oroesi!” I immediately turn my attention to the eira. His would steadily spills blood. “No. You can’t die. I just met you. Don’t you dare go dying on me.” I pump all the mana I can into him and desperately activate every aura I think can remotely help in this situation, all while using ice to try to stem the flow and close the wound. If only I had the ability to heal!

“Haven…you…attacked me?” I hear Nattiq say with a betrayed tone.

“Shut up!” I scream at him.

“The quest was right! You are dangerous!”

“Shut up! Shut Up!! SHUT UP!” I could almost feel tears running down my face.

“What haven are you? You’re just like every other dungeon there ever was, killing everything that comes into your domain!” I spin on him, rage bubbling up from within. An angry green light flared.

“I attacked you? I attacked you?! Oroesi is dying because of you!”

“I…what? I–” The red tinge to his eyes disappears. “Oroesi? I did that? I didn’t mean…I attacked you?”

“Leave!”

“What?”

“I. Said. Leave!”

“Wait, why?”

“Just leave me alone!” I form ice pellets in the air. Nattiq flinches. He looks at me hesitantly for a second, then vanishes down the stair well. I hear him limping all the way down.

“Oroesi, please be okay.” My connection with him throbs achingly. Why did it turn out like this? Does it mean that I’m really all alone? In this war? Against that terrifying red?

My light dims. I wish I had tears that could fall. Why do I always feel like crying? I’m really tired of it.

 

Status Menu
Name: Haven [Locked] Race: Legendary Dungeon Level: 18  Attribute: Green
Health: 101/309 (2.6/min) Mana: 135/318 (2.6/min) State: Normal
 Biomes: 2 Floors: ?%Ξ] Named Monsters: 3
 Monsters: 35 Animals: 24,921 Plants: 130,500+
[Ξ]
Path Points: 43
Paths: {Beginner V (0/20)} {Ingenuity II (0/60)} {Valiant II (0/120)} {Defender IV (2/30)} {Architect I (0/50)}
Skills: [Influence V] [Incorporation III] [Ambient Aura VII] [Plant Growth I] [Green Thumb I] [Tamer II] [Karma II] [Natural Projectile III] [Core Teleportation] [Epithet] [Elemental Manipulation X] [Biome Creation] [Fluid Floors]
Achievements: |Ingenuity!| |Powerful!| |Dauntless!| |Against the Odds!| |Crack Shot!| |Breeder!| |Safe Guard!||Creator of Wonders|
[Ξ]
Auras: |Aura of Light|, |Aura of Warmth|, |Aura of Fury|, |Aura of Souls|, |Aura of Protection|, |Aura of the Lost|, |Calming Aura|
Fire: Main Water: Main, Ice Earth: Main, Plants, Minerals  Air: Main

 


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