The Soul Keeper and the Guardian, Chapter 13


Click here for Chapter 1


Both Edward and Mirriam got ready to leave five minutes before Ravenna’s thirty minute deadline. Ravenna put this time to good use by practising a one-handed parry and thrust combination with her sword. But it was Tyler who was having a hard time because of their delay. The entire village had gathered near the inn to say their goodbyes.

He did inform them that he would be taking a leave of absence and leaving the town for a while for which they had thrown a large party in the local pub. He was quite popular among the locals and they were showing their love one last time before he left. The reason why he wanted to leave so early was to avoid any attention but word reached around while Edward and Mirriam were still getting ready and every single person woke up early to bid him farewell. Most of them were actually more interested in who had come to visit him.

His three new companions marched out of the inn and the crowd yelped and hummed in excitement which surprised their guests. “What’s going on?” whispered Mirriam to herself while holding on to Edward. Ravenna continued walking and Edward and Mirriam decided to not fall behind and followed her.

“So which one is it?” Asked one of the men from the crowd loudly. The entire crowd started laughing and giggling.

“I won’t be surprised if it’s both of them” The crowd ensued into mad laughter.

“Oh look, he’s got a kid too” pointed out one of the women. Their maniacal laughter couldn’t be any louder.

Unlike the locals, the guests didn’t find it as funny. While Edward and Mirriam were a bit scared and confused, Ravenna was scowling. “You people are quite energetic so early in the morning. Save it for the rest of the day.” She replied, but that didn’t stop them from laughing.

“A feisty one, that one. Was this your type”? Asked one of the younger women. Many other giggled.

“Hey now. Give us a break will you? I’m glad you all came out to visit but you should go on and sleep now. Don’t waste your precious sleep hours on me” said Tyler as he got on his horse. The townspeople waved after them as they left and some were even crying. A few kids ran behind the horses for some distance for extended goodbyes till they got tired.


“You’re quite popular Mr. Tyler” said Mirriam as they rode back into the desert.

“They consider me a part of their family. I’ve been there for far too long. It seems only natural I guess.” He didn’t sound too sentimental, especially how he called it ‘their family’.

“Hey, I’ve held out for so long, but what are we going to Johancoop for?” asked Ravenna. Mirriam felt nervous. She wasn’t sure how to answer.

“Me and Mirriam have some important business to tend do.” Tyler covered it for Mirriam.

“I wasn’t asking you, swine. I have nothing to do with you. What business do you have there Mirriam?” Said Ravenna quite rudely and luckily it didn’t seem like it had fazed Tyler. For some reason, she had been hostile towards him ever since they met and Edward couldn’t understand why.

“We need some information from a particular person. And please don’t talk to him like that Ravenna, he’s one of us now. Your manner of speech is quite unreasonable.” Said Mirriam

“That’s right. Know your place meathead. You are a mere sell-sword. Do not concern yourself with your client’s business.” Said Tyler. It looked like Ravenna’s remarks did get to him. The heat was picking up.

“It happens to be my business because my ‘client’ has changed her terms and I deserve to know why.” Ravenna had finally spoken out about what Mirriam was nervous about.

“I believe a fraud like you should be more flexible to terms” Tyler’s words stopped Ravenna in her tracks and eventually, each one of them.

“What did you call me?” grumbled Ravenna, furiously.

“Tyler. No!” cried Mirriam. Edward was darting his eyes around, perplexed about the arising situation.

“A fraud! Am I wrong Mirriam? She deceived you the day she met you. Two crowns for ten days worth of being a bodyguard? Who are you kidding?” demanded Tyler.

“Listen well swine. It was the boy who made the offer when they had swords to their throats.” Replied Ravenna, with an elevated level of spite.

“That’s right Tyler, she saved our lives. Don’t question her services” begged Mirriam.

“Don’t pretend like she did it out of the kindness of her heart Mirriam. Am I wrong Edward. She just did it for the money.” Tyler had read Edward’s face while he accused Ravenna. Even though he had no problem with their deal, it was true that Ravenna had abstained from helping them till he offered her a crown as payment. Edward immediately shook the thought out of his head.

“And what about the second crown? You demanded a crown to escort them for a few days. That much work is worth two gold even if one were to hire a plated mercenary. You tricked them.” Tyler had shut Ravenna up with his final statement. She was shivering with rage. After a few minutes of intense staring, she turned to Mirriam.

“Do you have any problem with our arrangement Mirriam?” she asked her straight up.

“No Ravenna, not at all. We are in fact quite grateful for all you’ve done for us.” said Mirriam.

“That’s right Ravenna. You taught me so much too. I’m very thankful” said Edward with a made up smile. He had been worried about where this might go and was afraid of trying to intervene and get them to stop. He didn’t miss this chance to say something nice to her even if it had any remote chance to suppress the tense situation.

“Well, that’s all I need. I don’t care what you accuse me of or what you call me. My arrangement is with these two. Your words are irrelevant gibberish to me” she said much more calmly and started riding again. Like before all of them followed after her.

“Ravenna” Mirriam called out. “Mr. Tyler said that he will take care of your payment once we get to Johancoop.”

“Hmm.” she replied without turning to face Mirriam. She took it as an affirmation and moved ahead, grateful that the situation had not escalated too much. Tyler sighed in response and the four of them kept riding south.


After several hours of continuous riding, the sun was almost overhead. The desert was much less sandier now and was mostly level ground than the curvaceous dunes that Edward saw before. The four of them stopped by a huge pile of rocks where they found some shade. They got down from their horses and re-hydrated themselves and their horses.

The tension still flowed thick among the group and none of them had spoken much on the way. Edward wasn’t liking how things were going. The problems from exterior forces were tiring enough and he didn’t want trouble inside.

“That was tiring” he said to Ravenna as if it was regular small talk.

“It was” she said, knowing exactly what he meant.

“I’m sorry for the things he said to you. I wanted you to know that I don’t share his opinion at all. In fact, I am glad that you joined us on this journey.”

“I appreciate it kid. Why are you apologising for him anyway? You haven’t even spoken to him once yet. It’s his job, not yours and I don’t think he will anyway.”

Edward looked at Tyler who was leaning against a rock, fiddling with something in his hands that he could not see. She was right. He hadn’t spoken to him yet or to his mother about who he was and why they were headed to one of the four great cities. He looked at her feeding her horse Dixit and she caught him looking. As soon as she did, she averted her eyes, as if she was trying to avoid him. Edward wondered if she was still mad about his antics yesterday or if she was nervous about the ongoing tensions between Tyler and Ravenna. He shrugged both these theories away because he knew that she was simply avoiding him because she didn’t want to be approached for questioning. She just wanted to keep him in the dark.


Tyler walked up to Mirriam and voiced his concerns. “I haven’t left Braumchester for over a decade and it looks like a lot has changed since then. I would have been more confident about navigating these parts if the expansive plains hadn’t turned into a desert. I know that if we keep heading south, we’ll eventually get to Johancoop, but forgive me if I can’t take you through the shortest route.”

“Don’t sweat it. That is exactly what I’m here for. To make sure you don’t get lost or die” remarked Ravenna without any kind of animosity in her tone. She was now indicating the value of her presence. Tyler didn’t respond, even with an expression.

When they were done resting, the four of them mounted their horses and prepared to take off. “We’ll be passing through three towns to get to Johancoop. This is the safest way to get there. Each of them is equidistant and we’ll be resting in the towns each night while taking off in the morning. By my estimates, we’ll be reaching our first stop in the evening. It’s best if we maintain a good pace. This way, we’ll get to our destination on the fourth day of this trip. There’s a shorter route through the mountains where we can save one day but we’ll have to camp on the road. I don’t think it is worth the risk.” She was in control of the situation and everyone agreed to her plan.

“Our first stop is Bartel, an ironworks town. We’ll get there after a few hours of riding. The towns from here on out are much safer because of their proximity to one of the great cities. They get larger and safer as you get closer, so consider the next one to be slightly better than Braumchester. I still recommend we keep a low profile. I don’t know how we’ll manage that as we’ll be reaching there when everyone’s getting back from work. Just try not to stand out and let me handle the communication once we’re there.” She intricately listed all the important information that they had to know beforehand.


The desert landscape had now turned into rocky plains. Edward was just about tired of seeing sand dunes as far as his eyes could see and this was a slightly less appalling scenery. The sun was just as bright and piercing as it was back in the desert but at least he didn’t have to worry about sand constantly hitting his face. They still had their masks on to avoid sunburns but the best thing about the change in terrain was their speed. They were riding almost twice as fast now. There were still plenty of slopes and climbs on the way. The changing elevation still wasn’t a hindrance because the harder terrain was good for the horses. Edward initially thought that they would reach early this way but Ravenna pointed out that she had already taken this into account before estimating the travel time so things hadn’t changed.


As the sun started setting down Edward could feel the fatigue rise up but he kept going knowing that the destination was almost upon them. After the light of the sun had completely vanished to reveal the darkening night sky, he noticed that the air around him smelled different. He caught up the stench of burning and identified that they had almost reached Bartel. He looked at his mother smilingly who gave him back the same expression with relief. Although these expeditions were tiring, they were starting to get used to it. The fact that they now had two reliable companions made them feel more secure.


As soon as they entered the town of Bartel, Edward was surprised to see something that he hadn’t seen in any town yet. Many poles throughout the streets upheld powerful lamps that brightly illuminated the entire town even in the night as though it was almost the middle of the day. He asked Ravenna what these were.

“You’ve never seen any of these? Aren’t you people super rich?” She exclaimed. Edward didn’t know how to respond and looked to his mother. Indeed, he hadn’t seen anything like this in Vereen.

“Are these Celrock lamps?” Asked Tyler

“Oh, this is your first time seeing one too?” Ravenna asked him. “Oh yes, I didn’t see a single one of these in your town. Why didn’t you people get one? They’re not too expensive.”

“Our chief didn’t want to. It’s said that these lamps pollute the air and could even lead to poisoning.”

“True, but it is treatable. The benefits outweigh the risks.”

“It’s fine for these people. I’m sure they have healers and better access to medicines. We didn’t have the same luxury. That’s why we decided to stick to using traditional lamps.”

This back and forth didn’t alleviate Edward’s curiosity. He decided to ask Ravenna but saw this as a good opportunity to start a conversation with Tyler.

“What are these lamps. How do they work?”

“Huh?” Tyler was surprised that Edward was speaking to him. Even he just realised that this would be their first proper conversation. “These are celrock lamps. The availability  of firewood and oil has been decreasing every year and the cost has been shooting up. A few years ago, tinkerers came up with a solution to counter this problem by using celrocks. They found out that when a celrock is placed in close proximity to a fire, it shines quite brightly. Thus, even a tiny oil lamp could illuminate a large area. This cuts down the consumption of oil to a tenth while producing three times the light.”

Edward was awestruck by this innovative device but Tyler could see it on his face that he didn’t know what celrocks were.

“Celrocks are crystals that were used for decoration. There’s plenty of it to be found in Silvervale, where most of it is mined. It was only recently that they were put to use for illumination. They are quite cheap and easily available. The lamps you see here are still oil lamps but a gallon can last them for over a year. A small fire is lit to activate the lamp and a chunk of celrock is suspended over the fire. Some pores are drilled on the glass of the lamp to sustain the fire and also leave a window for the sublimating crystal. It has been noted that the fire slowly sublimes the crystal over time and it emits an odourless gas that is mildly poisonous. A celrock crystal about the size of a fist will evaporate in a matter of three to four months. The poison is not fatal and is treatable but because the technology is new, nobody knows what kind of effect it has in the long run. As of now, people are investing in this convenient tool because they don’t have too many options to choose from.”

“Your town was using oil lamps just like ours. Except, ours were bigger and we had many of them.” Edward commented

“Yes, a few places still use the traditional oil lamps. However, it is pricey. We limit our usage to the best of our extent but I think you people were far more lenient with it.” Tyler still didn’t know how prosperous Edward’s hometown was. In fact, he had just realised that he didn’t even bother asking where they were from.

Extremely bad
Horrible MS Paint rendition of a celrock lamp


As the discussion about celrocks came to an end, they had reached what looked like the centre of the town. As Ravenna had indicated, things were slightly different from before. The houses were in better shape and people didn’t care much about these new guests in town as they were getting fewer stares in their direction. Most of the houses were still empty and it seemed as if most of the town had gathered in the pubs. Edward assumed it was the similar routine like back in Vereen. All the people would gather at the bars and pubs after sunset when they had finished working. This is where people spent most of the time socialising and indulging in some fun.

“This is the place” said Ravenna as they stopped in front of a large wooden building. Edward assumed that this would be the inn they were staying at today.

“It’s not the best in town but it does the job. It’s not the most popular either so it’s good for people like us who want to keep a low profile.”

Edward and Tyler took all the four horses to tie them up at the stable while Ravenna and Mirriam went to arrange their rooms. Tyler was done with his horse and Ravenna’s before Edward could finish even one. Tyler observed him tying up Diddy and stopped him halfway-

“That’s not how you tie a horse in a public stable.”

“Then how?” Edward now realised that his way wouldn’t apply to these places as Randall warned.

“Usually, we’d have to lock their reins with the stable rods but it looks like you didn’t bring any.” Edward noticed that Tyler’s and Ravenna’s horses were locked up with the stable rod using a chain. He neither had chains or locks to tie them up that way.

“We’ll get some tomorrow but usually, you can make do without locks. You just have to use more complicated knots. It’s better to use the less popular ones because fewer people would be able to open them. Here, I’ll show you an easy one.” Tyler undid the knot Edward made and started to make his own, while instructing Ed step by step. It looked like a complicated mess in the end but the process was much simpler than expected. In three tries, Edward managed to learn the ‘Jekkel knot’.

He tied up both Diddy and Dixit and after feeling like he had mastered a new skill in such a small time, he jogged to the inn to tell his mother. Tyler kept up with his pace. Right after the small, open doorway was a tiny room which looked like the reception. Mirriam and Ravenna were still talking to the owner.

“Didn’t get the rooms yet?” Tyler asked

“The rooms are full. It’s unusual. Apparently, a new horde of people showed up today and took over most of the rooms.”

“Then let’s go somewhere else” he said

“No, they have a huge common room available. It has several beds but Mirriam wanted to know if you’re okay with a common room.”

“I have no qualms if you don’t have any” he said to Mirriam and she nodded. They proceeded to finish the negotiation. They were charging 4 silvers for the night and Tyler felt like they were overcharging.

“I will pay my share Mirriam. I don’t intend to be a burden on you.”

“Please, it’s alright. You don’t have to pay after what we’re putting you through.”

“That is all right. I have managed to save up around seven gold over the decade. Pay it no heed.” He showcased his hefty pouch which looked like a huge bunch of silvers with some gold. This made Ravenna chuckle and Edward could see the joke too. However, it was a bit sad too. It had taken the man so many years to save mere seven gold. This gave Edward a realisation about the true value of money and he understood why Tyler had gone berserk in the morning when he learned that Ravenna was charging them two crowns for such small work.


Mirriam managed to talk Tyler out of not paying for his rent by telling him that he had already agreed to pay for Ravenna. Once she got the key, the four of them made their way inside the inn. A small diner was occupied with several men. Most of them looked like merchants and were busy drinking and eating. Edward noticed a group of six hooded men in a corner. For a moment, he felt like they were looking at him but he didn’t catch them doing so. He moved forward with the rest of them and climbed a flight of weak wooden stairs at the end of the diner. There was a long hallway in front of them with rooms on both sides. There was a wall behind them so they walked forward and turned with the hallway. There was another turn after which they saw a door at the end of the hallway which was supposed to be their room.

With their luggage, they moved inside. It was smaller than he expected but enough to house them for the night. Luckily, there was a small dressing room in a corner. The room had four beds. They took turns to change into more comfortable clothing and decided to go to the diner for supper.

As they reached the stairs, the hooded men which Edward saw earlier passed them and Edward felt some eyes on him again but he didn’t have the courage to look at their faces. He noticed that Ravenna was staring at them as they went inside their own room.


They grabbed a table and some good food in the diner. Without saying a word, they kept eating. Edward had noticed that the tension between Tyler and Ravenna had dissipated since they reached this town which he found very strange after what had happened this very morning. It was Ravenna who broke the silence.

“Is it them?” she said, to no one in particular.

“What?” said both Mirriam and Tyler in unison.

“Those hooded men. I noticed that they were all sporting an insignia.”

“What of it?” The two of them asked again

“It could be them. I didn’t get a good look but it could be the same one the necromancers wore that day.”

“Explain” said Tyler. Mirriam was as dumbfounded as Edward. His unease earlier seemed reasonable now.


Ravenna recited the entire scene with the necromancers that happened in Pompadoon in great detail. She also mentioned the battle mage that came to their rescue and also managed to call Edward ‘stupid’ several times in the process. Edward was cowering but more in fear than embarrassment. Tyler took it harder than they assumed. He was sweating as he heard the story unfold.

“This can be bad. I’m not sure if it’s them but we can’t take unnecessary risk and sleep easy. It’s best if we stay alert and leave early tomorrow” instructed Ravenna and everyone nodded in agreement. None of them could eat well from that point. They returned to their room and slept early.



Author’s notes

It’s a quiet one like the last two but there was significantly more world building. I also planted some character conflict which is also reasonable. It’s important that there is always some conflict, little or large, in a freshly formed group of people. It is only natural that a group of different kinds of people would have conflicting opinions and interests. It also elevates the drama and paves way character development.


I also feel like making an early revelation here that Edward has above average senses after spending so much time in the jungle and because of his heritage. You will see hints of it early in the story like how he felt like he was being watched. Even Ravenna and Tyler who specialise in environment scanning could not catch that.


The Soul Keeper and the Guardian, Chapter 12

New Plans

Click here for Chapter 1


Edward’s body froze in the spot as someone clutched his shoulder. It was more shock than fear. “Someone’s being a creep” said this person. It was uncertain who this was. The morphing of the voice made it difficult to ascertain who it was. He turned back to see Ravenna winking at him.

“Didn’t know you were the stalker type” she said. He was uncertain whether the fact that Ravenna being the one to catch him sneaking was relieving or even more embarrassing. He slowly put the piece of paper in his pocket as she continued. “Oh, so it’s your mom that you’re eavesdropping on. Who’s that dude? Is he the one who you guys came here looking for? Then what are you hiding for? Don’t tell me he’s her runaway boyfriend!” Edward didn’t have any answers to her questions. He just turned back to face them. Tyler was back on his feet now but still looked disgruntled. They hadn’t spoken since he read the letter.

“Hey, fill me in.” Ravenna kept pestering Edward so that she could be looped in to this situation but his gaze was solely fixed upon his mother.

“Where’s the boy?” Tyler asked, now breaking the silence and deflecting Mirriam’s confusion regarding his own strong reaction to the letter. Edward understood that he was talking about him. Mirriam hadn’t mentioned Edward till this point which meant that he was definitely mentioned in the first letter that Tyler read. The letter which had long finished its descent down the cliff and one which the curious Edward could never reach.

Mirriam lit up in excitement, as he had finally knocked off his stubborn stance on the matter. She wondered what was in the letter that had literally brought him down on his knees. Her curiosity was even mistier than Edward’s because she hadn’t read either of them and was now regretting her decision to respect Randall’s privacy. She believed she deserved some more information on the matter since it was her son who had the most to lose in this matter.

Before Mirriam could reply, the now pissed off Ravenna grabbed Edward’s collar and pulled him up with herself, revealing both of them to Mirriam and Tyler. She was clearly tired of being left out and decided to break her way in the way she knew best. “This the boy you’re looking for?”

No reaction came out of Tyler but Mirriam wailed “EDWARD!!” which he knew was a direct translation to “Outrageous” in this particular situation. With years of experience, he had honed his ability to decipher the level of punishment he was about to be served based on the pitch, volume and length of the utterance of his name in such fashion. This time, it was critical danger and his instincts were telling him to run. But he knew that breaking free of Ravenna’s clutch was scientifically impossible and he had given up without even putting up a struggle.

“What are you doing here!?” she asked him. She sounded like she was about to kill him in a few minutes. Poor Edward didn’t know how much she has tried to keep things hidden from him these last few days. Mirriam tried to rewind the whole conversation she had with Tyler to ensure that no big secrets were told out loud. She was confident for the most part about the conversation having no juicy details but there was still a tinge of fear.

“How long have you been listening in on us and why? And Ravenna! Why are you involved in this too?” she asked, seeing that he hadn’t given an explanation yet.

“Hey, I just got here. This chimp wasn’t telling me anything so I sold him out” she said very confidently which Edward envied. She walked up to both of them and faced Tyler. “So, this is the dude that you came all this way to meet? I’ve seen tidier swines. What do you want with this guy?” she said very bluntly but it didn’t faze Tyler at all.

“Hey, don’t talk like that!” cried Mirriam. “You’ve just met him. Judging someone like that openly without even knowing a thing about them. It’s not nice”

“After having met so many people, I can pick out all kinds of ’em. The boasters, the liars, the cowards. This one’s a worthless coward, I can tell from a glance.” Ravenna wasn’t hesitant of being inconsiderate for the second time.

Mirriam turned to Tyler and apologised to him about her behaviour. He said he didn’t mind and instead asked who she was.

“She helped us get here. This is Ravenna, an adventurer and a splendid warrior. She saved our lives when we were in Kirkpod” said Mirriam. Ravenna smiled when she was associated as a ‘splendid warrior’. She thought it was an apt description. Nobody had officially termed it that way so she was just giggling inside.

“And that must be your son” said Tyler, now looking at Edward. His sight was eerie. When their eyes met, Edward felt a kind of fear which didn’t seem to exude from his appearance. There was something about his eyes. Edward felt like there was something trapped behind his dead and hellish eyes. As if something was trying to break out. He felt really uncomfortable around him.

“Yes” she said “This is him.” Her gaze was quite relaxing even though she was still a bit angry.

“Right, let’s talk then. Come to my house. It’s only a minute from here.” Said Tyler after which he walked inside to inform his employers of his absence. Mirriam turned to both Edward and Ravenna and asked them to go back to the inn. She made it clear that the things they wanted to talk about had to be kept between them and she would eventually tell both of them what they needed to know. Edward protested with his face while Ravenna spoke up. “I hate being kept in the dark like this but if my client wants some privacy, I’m gonna give it to her. Although I’m pretty sure you have lame reasons to hide whatever it is that you are, given your history of hiding things.

Both Edward and Mirriam started walking back to the inn and Mirriam followed Tyler who had now taken off his apron and was walking up to his house. Like he said, it was only a minute away. It was a small cottage among the few hundred cottages in the place and the area was eerily quiet.

“Do all the women work in the mines too?” asked Mirriam for she didn’t see anyone around.

“Yes. Nobody can afford to sit back. Most women are into farming rather than mining. But they have to travel 20 miles to get there. We can only cultivate wheat and potatoes around these parts. Luckily, it’s enough to keep us alive.” He said as he was trying to unlock his door. Nobody else had locked their doors. Some had even left theirs unbolted.

“I don’t see any children around. Is there a school here?” In Vereen, children were home schooled as per the instructions of the lord.

“No school here. Not many children either. There’s about a hundred and fifty kids in total in this town of a thousand. The teens lend a hand in the mines while the younger ones help around in the market or just play there.” He said as he opened the door and let Mirriam in. “Where’s the boy and your bodyguard?”

“Actually, they don’t know anything yet. I too just found out a week ago when Randall came to my home. Ed only learned about the Soul Keepers this morning. I think it might be too soon to break it to him.” Mirriam was in a really tight spot indeed.

“Hmm, I see. Based on what Randall said, I think there’s a lot you people don’t know. I’ll have to assume that you’ve woken up after a 14 year slumber and are just getting used to the times.” He said to which Mirriam nodded.

“It will be difficult, to hide things from the boy. We’ll have to tell him soon. I will leave that decision to you but don’t hold out for too long. It will make things more difficult than they are.” Tyler suggested and Mirriam agreed. “The real problem is the mercenary. It’s best we keep this secret to us. No point in letting outsiders get wind of such sensitive information. If people were to find out, things can get really bad.”

“She’ll be leaving soon. She promised to take us to Braumchester and back to Vereen, my hometown and we promised her some payment in return. If we start for Vereen today, we can get there in 5 days and clear the payment” suggested Mirriam reluctantly. She had grown to enjoy Ravenna’s company these past few days.

“How old is your boy exactly?” asked Tyler

“He’s about five weeks older than fourteen now” said Mirriam immediately. After learning about the deadline, she had a very precise count on Edwards’s age.

“Hmm, it’s best if we don’t waste any time on unnecessary expeditions. We first need to acquire information. I know someone who can help us with that. We’ll have to go to Johancoop, one of the four great cities. It is on the edge of the border like Braumchester. We just have to ride south. There are better experts of course but he’s the one we can get to fastest. Time is of the essence” said Tyler as he opened the windows to let the light rush in and illuminate his dark house. It was really neat and humble while also looking too empty. It’s as if there was nothing to come home to after a long day at work except a bed and a sheet. Mirriam wondered why he went through all the trouble to lock his doors when he had nothing to lose.

“But that’s a violation of our agreement. I doubt that she’d agree. We’ll have to pay her soon.” Said Mirriam. Knowing Ravenna, she could already picture her deny this new proposition.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of her payment when we get there. How much do you owe her?”

“Two crowns” said Mirriam.

“Hmm…. WHAT!!!!” shouted Tyler, scaring Mirriam. “TWO CROWNS!? WHAT FOR?”

“We were being attacked by people. She wouldn’t help us otherwise” said Mirriam, taking a few steps back.

“And how were you planning to pay her back? Do you even have two crowns?” He was still enraged.

“Yes. Back home. I can cover it.”


(Ignore elf ears. The reaction is spot on!)

“That scum.” cried Tyler with his palms on his face. Mirriam had no defence for Ravenna. “Alright. I’ll manage. We don’t have time to worry about money now. Our priority is to get to Johancoop as soon as possible. Stay in the inn tonight. I have to make some arrangements before we leave so let’s begin early in the morning tomorrow. I’ll be informing my peers of my departure and you talk to your son and that piece of scum that you hired.”

Mirriam agreed and they both left his house and parted ways. Mirriam went to the inn while Tyler went back to his workplace. Mirriam was really nervous about her upcoming confrontation with Ravenna.

In the meantime, Edward and Ravenna were having a quarrel of their own inside his room.

“Hey, why did you sell me out?” cried Edward

“Because you were being childish and not letting me in on the situation” she retorted

“So you sold me out because I didn’t share some gossip with you. I wonder who was the childish one.” He said in response

“Hey mister. I did the right thing. You were sneaking up on your mother remember? I was right to expose you.”

“Now don’t start talking like you did it for moral reasons”

“Bah. Stop crying about it already. It’s not like she’ll kill you”

“But she’ll lecture me about it for an hour and bring it up multiple times later and it will slowly kill me anyway” somehow Ravenna didn’t respond for a while. He thought he had won the tiny argument but then she spoke.

“Must be nice, getting lectured by your mother every once in a while” she said as she looked at the ceiling. Edward felt a little uncomfortable inside. He could read what she meant.

“Yeah” he said but he didn’t just want to leave it there. “What happened to your mother Ravenna?”

“Huh” she was caught off guard. She realised that she said something subconsciously and felt a bit ashamed. “I don’t know. She’s probably dead or ruining someone else’s life right now.”

Edward didn’t respond. “She left my father alone with us without saying a word. Not all mothers are like yours I think. Some of us just get the selfish ones.”

The atmosphere was silent as she paused for a while. “You are very lucky little boy. You have almost everything a child should have. Just be grateful and always remember it. That will serve you well.” Edward nodded and they just sat in the room without saying anything.


A few minutes later Mirriam barged in and pulled their attention.

“Ravenna, there’s a small change in plans” she said, while panting. It didn’t seem like a result of physical activity.

“What change? We’re not going back to your place now?”

Mirriam waited for a few seconds. She seemed to be having some difficulty trying to inform about the detour.

“He said, we’ll have to go to Johancoop for some urgent business” she said in a much squeakier voice. Edward could notice that she was slightly shivering.

Ravenna got up from the floor. Both Edward and Mirriam gulped.

“Fine. When do we leave?” she asked while tightening her belt in a very calm tone. Mirriam didn’t answer. She was staring with her eyes wide open.

“Hey! When do we leave?” she asked again, this time slightly louder.

“Tomorrow!” said Mirriam so quickly that it sounded like a single syllable.

“Ah, I’m going to sleep then. I need to make up for two nights of sleep. Ask the innkeeper to bring me some meat stew and bread in the evening” she said as she walked past Mirriam and headed to her room.

“Right” said Mirriam, even though Ravenna had already left. She and Edward looked at each other and wondered why they weren’t dead yet. Without saying another word, they ate the potato stew left at the table and went to sleep. They too hadn’t slept last night.

They joined Ravenna for supper in the evening and slept again without leaving the inn once. They then woke up when they heard a knock on their door. It was barely dawn yet. Mirriam opened the door and Tyler was standing there, dressed up to leave.

“You’re not ready yet?” He questioned

“It’s still night” said Mirriam sleepily.

“No. It’s almost dawn and this is when we’re supposed to leave when I say ‘early in the morning’.”

“You should have said that earlier” said Edward as he yawned. The now vexed Tyler was scratching his eyebrows, trying to cool himself.

“Don’t use regular reasoning with these guys. They’re new to the game.” Said Ravenna from behind him. Even she was ready to leave, wearing the same getup she had the day before. “Hurry up. You have thirty minutes”

With that, both Edward and Mirriam rushed into getting ready.


Click here for the next chapter

Author’s Notes

A calm chapter after the last few intense ones we’ve had. I suppose the next one will be similar but they’re not hollow at all. Between the lines, there’s definitely a fair amount of character development. Little clues about the characters for your subconscious to feed on.

I don’t know if my humour is working or not. I did read several chapters while trying to make edits and take notes and some things did make me laugh. But I wrote them myself so I can’t measure the validity of its strength that way. It’s a bit scary. Is the humour good or is it awkward and lame? It’s a question that will haunt me for a long time till I get a fair amount of genuine feedback.

These poor guys don’t get enough sleep on time. Well, that’s to be expected in adventurous life like this.

Edward being a soul keeper has a natural gift for empathy. Normally, empathy grows with human interaction but he hasn’t had enough of it. However, his growth in that aspect will be much faster than that of regular people but based on his fate and purpose, it can be a double edged sword. There are worse adversaries than evil sorcerers and kings and that is an opponent with a good cause that you can empathise with.

The Soul Keeper and the Guardian, Chapter 11

The Brick maker

Click here for Chapter 1

The journey had been quite treacherous for Edward and his mother. They had been riding the desert for one day straight without enough resting in the middle. To top it all off, they were also attacked by necromancers and zombies. Just when Edward thought that he had enough for one day, he was burdened with the history of the world around him that he never had a clue about. He was still a little salty about the fact that his mother had kept such important things from him given how they weren’t too graphic for children. Death is a fundamental part of history so that cannot be an excuse for hiding it from them. He didn’t know what her reasons were, but it still bugged him.

However, he was too tired to complain. One look at his mother and he could tell that she was in worse shape than he was. She had been riding with them throughout the night, her son was almost killed by mages who she had no idea existed till this point and she now probably thinks her son hates her for hiding such basic and vital things from him. Edward was mature enough to understand what she was going through and kept his complaints to himself. Ravenna seemed to be in better shape than these two. She had been on longer and more excruciating journeys than this as she had boasted earlier so this was mere routine to her. Not a lot of time had passed since the end of her generous history lesson and now they had entered the shabby mining town called Braumchester.


Just when Edward was convinced that there wouldn’t be a shabbier town than the last one he’d been to, he was proven wrong. Sitting on top of an elevated plateau was this small, bleak mining town. There were several closed mines at the bottom of the plateau indicated by the barricading outside despite rails leading inside. There were also paths running around the plateau.

‘They’ve emptied these mines out. The ones they must be working right now are probably in a different corner of the plateau. They’ll soon run out of ore to mine on the mound they sit upon. I wonder what’ll happen then. The nearest mineral rich mountain is miles away” commented Ravenna, feeling pity for these poor souls.

Truly, the sight was despicable. They hiked upwards on the path leading up to the town. It was deserted at this point of day as Ravenna had earlier predicted. Most of the people were out working. They could easily spot the only brickyard in town at the edge of the town, sitting by a cliff. The smoke bellowed over the town, clouding the town in darkness in blazing daylight. Soot lay on the ground like snow on a winter morning. The horses left prints all the way up to the small and shabby inn at the centre of the barren town. The three of them stepped in and woke the plump innkeeper sleeping at her desk.

“Who’s there!?” she was startled. Her gaze clearly indicated the height of her confusion. “Umm, what do you need?”

“We need two rooms for the night” said Ravenna. “We won’t be staying for any longer right?” she asked Mirriam to which she nodded.

“We have two rooms. Just the two. Please don’t mind the quality of your stay, we don’t often get people here. The ones we do are just regular merchants. They know what they are getting so we’ve never had to improve” she was slightly intimidated by their appearance. She led them to their rooms. The wooden walls were rotting with algae and a strange scent clogged the room. Edward thought the furniture was almost a century old as he examined them.

“Looks like this will do. It’s not like we have many options but at least it’s not dusty like the rest of the place. Fetch our bags and tie up the horses” ordered Ravenna. Mirriam wasn’t pleased with the place but Ravenna had already made the call and she didn’t dare to pester her about it. Edward didn’t seem to mind. He wanted to see how life would be when you live in such poverty.

The innkeeper carried all the bags inside. Ravenna dressed down to relax. “Where’s the bath?” she asked the innkeeper.

“Right this way” she lead her to the back of the structure. “We only have cold well water right now. I’ll heat up some water if you want. It won’t take long” she was a bit embarrassed about the services of her inn.

“Who wants to bathe in warm water in the middle of the desert? I’m good. Go ask the princess. She must have never bathed in anything but warm water in a large tub” said Ravenna playfully. It stung Edward because it was also true. Vereen was strangely cool throughout the year and they had never bathed in cold water.

“Princess!?” exclaimed the innkeeper.

“Must be. I’m not sure either” said Ravenna, trying to toy with her. The innkeeper bolted past Edward and ran into the room looking really nervous. He could hear the woman repeatedly apologising for the state of the inn and in turn hear his mom trying her best to clear the misunderstanding. He wanted to go in but he wanted the innkeeper to leave first. For a moment, the conversation stopped and he was about to step in. Before he could open the door, he heard his mother ask the innkeeper “I’m looking for a man here. He goes by the name Tyler Gullet. Where can I find him?”

“You’re looking for Ty? I’m not sure if it’s strange or wonderful.” She sounded surprised.

“Why is that so?” asked Mirriam.

“Our Ty has been here for thirteen years and none of us know anything about his past. Where he comes from, who he knows or why he moved here. A locked chest ever since we’ve known him. We’ve tried to get him to open up but nothing good has come of it. But what a darling he is. Works the hardest, helps anyone out without thinking twice and never speaks ill of anyone. He doesn’t speak much in the first place. I don’t think he’s the shy type but he’s all dark and mysterious. Always brooding. Wonder what kind of life he had before he got here” she went on about him. “He a friend of yours?”

“A friend of a friend. He told us we’d find him here. I had a few questions for him.” said Mirriam. She wondered if he was the same person Randall had mentioned.

“Oh, that’s wonderful. A friendly face might cheer him up. He’s working in the brickyard. It’s the only one in the town. I’ll take you there” she was excited.

“No, that’s fine. I saw the place when we came here. I’d like to rest up a bit before I go there” said Mirriam, trying to avoid company.

“Very well, your highness” said the innkeeper with a bow as she walked out of the room, leaving Mirriam flustered. She didn’t notice Edward standing outside. He had listened to the entire conversation. After waiting for a few seconds, he walked in.

“Ah, Ed. Why don’t you change and lie down for a while. I’m going to the market to see if there’s anything we can buy. We could use some extra supplies” said Ravenna while rummaging through her bag. Edward wondered why she was lying. Clearly, she was going to meet this Tyler person. He knew that they were here to meet someone so why hide the fact.

“I’ll join you too” he said.

“NO” said Mirriam in a voice too loud which surprised them both. “No, you need to rest. I can take care of this. You also need to stay and watch our supplies. Who knows what kind of people it is that we’re dealing with here.”

It was clear to Edward that she wouldn’t let him accompany her. Instead he had something else in mind. “Alright. I’ll lie down. But don’t presume everyone to be thieves mother. It’s unfair. The innkeeper seems like a nice woman.”

“You’re right dear, but I have reasons of my own to have such presumptions. I’ve known a few eccentric thieves. You can never tell from their personality” she said with a smile. Edward was totally thrown off by that. He wondered what she meant by that. He noticed she took her coin purse but she also put something inside her cloak. It was too fast to see but it was something small. He lay down on the bed and watched as she left the room.

The weak flooring of the inn creaked as Mirriam walked out of the inn. The end of this annoying creaking was Edward’s signal to begin trailing his mother. If he wasn’t getting answers the straight way, he was willing to peep in on her secret adventures. The path to the brickyard was quite straightforward and wide open which made it really difficult for him to stealthily follow her. Luckily, there weren’t people around to notice him creeping up on a lady and the noise from the brickyard masked the voice of his footsteps.

The brickyard was much smaller than what he had expected. There was no fencing around the building. The temperature kept getting hotter as he got closer. There was a large doorway at the entrance. He stopped right outside, knowing that it was as far as he could go. Luckily for him, his mother didn’t venture too deep inside either. He peeked inside and the most notable feature about the place was the sweltering furnace inside the building. Most of the workers were bustling around it. Closer to the entrance, stood Mirriam, looking around for Tyler or someone to lead her to him. She walked up to a man scouring inside a large toolbox.

“Umm, excuse me. Is Tyler around?” she asked him nonchalantly.

“Hmm, you’re looking for Tyler? And who might you be miss?” asked the man, pulling his head out of the ridiculously large box.

“An old friend of his told me that I could find him here” she said nervously.

“It’s been 13 years since he started working here in this yard. Haven’t seen an outsider trying to find him. I’m not surprised it’s a pretty woman like you.” He sniggered. “HEY TYLER!! THERE’S A WOMAN HERE LOOKING FOR YOU. AN OUTSIDER NO LESS.” He shouted. It took a few seconds for a reply to reach back.

“I’ll be right there” his shout reached back through the noisy factory. Mirriam awkwardly waited with the man till a shadowy figure came walking through the hall. Edward could hardly see him even when he reached all the way up to Mirriam.

“Hey Tyler, we’ve all been waiting for the day a pretty little thing like this popped into town, looking for you” he chuckled. “Old flame of yours?”

“Didn’t Pam ask you to get her a shovel Dreyfus? Two more minutes and she’ll use you as one” said the other other man. The one who went by the name Tyler.

“Oh, yeah. Right. Ah, there it is.” He drew a shovel from the toolbox and ran inside the building. They both waited for him to be out of range to speak.

“How do you know my name? Who are you?” he asked her in a very intimidating manner

“Randall sent me here” she said immediately.

“Randall? How does he know I live here? Since when? How does he know my name?” To Edward it looked like this Tyler had more questions than he himself did. “Heh, I should know better. Of course he knows. To think that I went through all this trouble and yet he…” he stopped short. “Why are you here?” he asked Mirriam.

“Can we go outside?” asked Mirriam.

“I was about to suggest that myself. Can’t have you spoil what I’ve built all these years.” said Tyler.

Edward dashed away to the nearest corner when he saw the two figures approaching. Tyler led Mirriam out of the building as they walked to the edge of the cliff the structure was mounted upon. There stood a sad, wrinkled tree which looked almost as dead as the zombies Edward saw yesterday beneath which stood his mother with this new stranger. Edward moved in closer and to his luck, he had several mounds of bricks as cover to hide behind. Obstacle by obstacle, he stealthily made his way closer. As a boy of the forest, he had developed quite the soft feet after spending years, covertly following animals. Even on the crunchy leaf-ridden grounds of the forests, he had learnt how to move swiftly without making any noise. This plain, rocky ground was child’s play.

There was still opportunity to move in closer but he felt like he had already reached the danger zone. The hunter-like instincts he had developed over the years were now stopping him from going any further. He peered through the brick mound behind which he now found his cover and the atmosphere was silent enough for him to hear everything even though he was beside a busy brickyard.

He noticed that in the time he carefully moved in, both of them still hadn’t started talking. Mirriam was looking down at her feet, thinking of where to start. She was taken back by Tyler’s last statement. Tyler however was looking straight at her, expecting her to state her business with him. Now that it was clear and bright, Edward got a good look at his face. A tall, well-built man with beautiful blue eyes and messy black hair just like his own which ran all the way down to his shoulders. He looked as old as Mirriam and his facial features were well endowed. He had a lush unkempt beard and there was a very noticeable scar on his right ear. Even though he had such a strong physical presence, Edward felt as if the man was empty. There was something dark and wrong about this man. He looked like a cog in the machine who was just trying to get through another day without dying. That would be true for most people, but Tyler didn’t look like a person with any purpose in life.



“What did you mean by what you said earlier?” Asked Mirriam, now breaking the silence.

“Why did Randall send you here? Why now of all times?” asked Tyler, totally deflecting her question.

“He told me to give you this without saying too much beforehand.” Edward saw Mirriam now draw the thing she hid in her cloak earlier and hand it to Tyler. It was a piece of paper, a fresh one. Tyler unfolded it and walked out of the shade of the lifeless tree to get a better look at it.

Tyler was now engrossed in the letter he held in his hands


Hey bud,

It’s been a while huh? I know you wanted to be left alone but you can’t expect me to sit back and watch you disappear right? Finding you was quite the chore. It took me seven years to track you down. I came here to this town to meet you but I backed off once I saw what you were doing. I figured it would be best if I gave you the space you needed. Maybe one day you would show up again. It’s been fourteen years now and you still haven’t. I guess you’ve decided to leave everything behind for real. I don’t really know what happened that day but I know that there’s more to the story than the rumours suggest. Remember that I’ll always be on your side.

I kept dropping by every year to check up on you, leaving you undisturbed but something has come up. If you’re reading this, then it means that something big came up or something happened to me. The woman who handed you this is from a place lost in time. I know that it’ll be hard to swallow, but she’s the mother of a prospect. Yes, her son is a soul keeper.

Even after finishing the page, Tyler just paused for a few seconds. He then flipped the sheet around.

I couldn’t believe it when I first stumbled across him. Don’t worry, I’m not mistaken. I put a lot of thought into this. He really is a prospect. A fourteen year old kid. I thought I could restore everything, thought I could save the world. I didn’t know how but I knew that I had to get him out of the hole they were hiding in. They’re packing their stuff as I write this. I know I’ll most likely be running into some complications which is why I’m taking this precaution now. Now that this letter has reached you, they’re just two lost souls in a cruel world. You know very well that if the prospect is not realised by the day of his sixteenth birthday, he is going to die. I wanna help him brother, I want to help them both. But now, I want you to do it. I didn’t want to disturb your exile but I have no other options now. There’s no one else I can trust this with and there’s no one else who knows how to help them. Please, do this for me, my trusted friend. Know, that I have no other cards left because I wouldn’t have chosen you otherwise. I don’t know if you’ll ever see me again. I may be rotting in a cell or a coffin. Consider this my final wish.

Your old friend



Tyler had an unchanging expression on his face as he read the whole letter. He calmly folded it back and threw it down the cliff, completely startling both Edward and Mirriam. “Please, leave me alone” he said as he began walking back to the brickyard.

The shocked and scared Mirriam desperately ran after and grabbed his hand. “Please. He said you’d help us. We don’t know where to go or what to do” she begged.

“He was wrong. You’re on your own. Leave this town by nightfall and go back home. I don’t want the people here to ask too many questions. I’m sorry but I can’t help you.” He shrugged off Mirriam’s grip and began walking back inside. However, Mirriam was not having it. She ran back up to him and grabbed his shirt. “He knew you’d turn us down. That’s why he asked me to give you this.” She pulled another piece of paper out of her cloak, this one much smaller than the last one and thrust it into his hand. He pushed her back in annoyance and threw the paper on the floor without reading it. Mirriam still picked it up and ran after him.

The sight made Edward go red in fury. How could that man treat his mother this way and why was she still running after him. What was the reason for this absurd desperation? Mirriam, thrust it into Tyler’s hand once again. “Just read it. That’s it. I’m not asking for too much” she said. Tyler noticed that she was inches away from breaking down. “Ah, what a pain” he said and opened the small chit.

It only took him a few seconds to read and he had the same unchanging expression on his face but Edward noticed something different. Tyler froze where he stood. He wasn’t even blinking. A hard wind blew the piece of paper out of his hands and he still stood there, unshaken with his hands reaching outwards as if he were holding onto something invisible. Both Edward and Mirriam were surprised by this abrupt reaction. Tyler fell down on his knees and was now staring at his palms, his eyes wide open as if he just saw a ghost.

Mirriam put her hands on his shoulders. “Hey, are you alright?” she asked him with a lot of concern.

“Where’s the boy?” he asked her, with the same terrified expression. Mirriam looked like she had brightened up but she still had doubts about it given how dazzled this man was. Edward wondered what was written in that piece of paper that shocked him so much. He noticed that it was a few feet away from Tyler, now laying on the ground. He wanted to pick it up but that would mean getting exposed even though Tyler wanted to see him now. He did not want to be caught sneaking. But it looked like his wish to read the letter was being granted as a gust now blew it into his direction, right up to his feet. It was strange because the gust was in the opposite direction of the wind in general. Edward picked the letter up and read the small, poorly written message.


So, that wasn’t convincing enough eh?  Guess, you’ve actually given up everything. Man, I hate doing this but it looks like you leave me no choice.

Trisha has been looking for you. With her daughter.

Join these people and help them. I’ve arranged it so that you’ll catch the trail if you help them. They’re marked and I’m not around to mask their tracks anymore. You need to hurry.


Edward couldn’t make much of it but he did get some answers. His mother needed help with something and this man was the only one who could do it. Also, he looked like he has been hiding here for a long time and someone called Trisha is looking for him. An old friend maybe? There were even more questions in his mind but now there was more clarity than before. He crumpled the sheet in his palm as he saw Tyler, still on the ground, while Mirriam was trying to check up on him. A jolt of shock shot up in Edward’s spine as he felt a hand on his own shoulder.

“Someone’s being a creep” whispered this person.


Click here for the next chapter

Author’s Notes

Forgive me for I have used the word ‘salty’. Ha ha, it was too tempting. In the first paragraph, no less.

Does reading this feel strange though. Isn’t it a change of pace. That’s because from this chapter onward, I am using third-person-omniscient perspective for storytelling instead of the first person perspective that I used till now. That’s because this story is a multi character based story where we will see different characters in different places. Shuffling around would become difficult if I were to use first person POV. It’ll be hard to read. So I decided to use this style. Although, it is not as personal, it is still effective.

Here’s Tyler, our last new addition to the squad in the first arc. I imagine the first arc will be 4-5 volumes long. This guy has an incredible feature that you’ll soon understand when more characters interact with him. He has a rich story too.

The Soul Keeper and the Guardian, Chapter 10

A History Lesson

Click here for Chapter 1


I almost looked death in the eye barely a few hours ago. The sight froze me up and  had almost rendered me paralysed. Now, I had to look into another set of heavy eyes and just the thought of it was eating me up. Shame, regret and sorrow churned inside me as I took each step towards my mother who sat there beneath the two pine trees in the middle of the desert.

“Mom, you should eat something” I said as I held out a pack of banana cakes to her which I had just offered to Ravenna. I was too afraid to talk about my blunder and apologise for it just yet. She didn’t budge. Not one bit. She just stared down at her lap, probably imagining what could have been.

“Mommy, I’m really sorry about what I did back there. I almost got you killed because of my stupidity.” She immediately pulled me in for a tight hug and broke down after holding it back for hours through the journey. “I thought that I had lost you Ed. I thought I’d never see you again. You can’t imagine what that’s like.” She held on to me for a while as I sat with her. As soon as I noticed Ravenna looking at us, she turned her gaze away. “Don’t you ever do that again Ed. You are all I have.” Her voice was getting clearer now.


Once she was done opening up, she ate a few slices of the delicious banana cake she herself baked last week. “I told you to eat the fruits first. These would have stayed fresh for another week. The fruits will rot soon.”

“I still have room for fruits” said Ravenna who had now walked up to us. “Come on now, let’s get moving. We’ve rested enough.” The sun had almost completely risen now and luckily, it would be behind us throughout the rest of the journey given that we were headed west. We mounted our horses and started. Ravenna was leading as usual but she was just slowly trotting head.

“Didn’t you just say we’ve had enough rest. Why are we moving so slowly?” I asked her.

“I just realised that the town is only a few minutes away. The sun has risen and the people must be waking up just about now. Braumchester is a mining and brick making town. Most of the people will be off to work in about two hours. It’s best if we move in after that. Like I’ve said again and again, I’d like to avoid unnecessary attention. Towns this far in the west don’t get visitors often so it’s best if we don’t become today’s showcase.”

“Well, if it was just a few minutes away, we shouldn’t have stopped for a break back then. We would have reached the town before dawn and nobody would have noticed.” I said.

“Like I said, I didn’t realise it back then.”

“Some guide we have” I said jokingly to which I got a really scary glare in response.


“Wait, if Braumchester is a produce-heavy town, then don’t they have roads connected to other places. Why are we travelling through the sandy desert?” asked my mother curiously.

“Almost every settlement in our Kingdom has mines as the Silvervale is basically high mountainous ground. The business in Braumchester is small time. They only supply to nearby settlements in short packages. Their brick making industry isn’t that big either. But I suppose the place did have roads connected to other towns and cities once but looks like the desert has eaten them up. A lot has changed since ‘that’ day” she said looking ahead. It looked like she knew a lot about places in the kingdom and maybe the entire country too. But just as she finished speaking, there was this itch troubling me from inside. This curious itch.

“Hey, I’ve been quite passive these last few days but I’ve had enough! I can’t hold my curiosity back anymore. All these questions are just piling up inside my head and it’s too much to deal with” I said, clearly expressing my annoyance. I’ve been in the dark for a week. When my mother initially asked me to hold these questions back, I thought I could do it but ever since I’ve been on this journey, nothing has made any sense. I feel like a fallen leaf caught in the wind, just idly flying by with the breeze, having no control of myself. I don’t want to be caught in another situation like last night’s and that’s why I needed to know more.


“Heh? What are you talking about? What questions?” asked Ravenna. She was riding to my left and looked clueless but my mother on the other side looked dejected. It looked like she knew what questions I had and yet she couldn’t answer them. Still, I wasn’t willing to give up. If I wasn’t going to get answers from her, then I would get them from Ravenna.

“What do you mean by ‘that day’? The day since a lot has changed.” I asked her.

“The Waynecastle massacre of course. The whole country fell apart ever since that day.” she said as if it was very obvious which is why I absolutely wanted to know about it.

“What’s the Waynecastle massacre?” I asked her vehemently. Ravenna looked absolutely puzzled. The shock was very apparent, just from a look at her face. My mother’s expression was unchanged. Clearly it looked like she didn’t want me to have this conversation but it was too late.

“What’s the meaning of this? Hey, Mirriam! Is this boy retarded or something? What kind of education did he get?” she asked my mother in a manner of annoyance who in turn shook her head in response.

“Our town…. well…. the children were forbidden from learning any history. Or anything about the outside world for that matter. They were only trained in language and various skills.” she said. This surprised me as much as it did Ravenna. I knew that we were never taught anything about the outside world but I never wondered why. The thought had never even occurred to me or any of my friends back home either. Also why was it forbidden in the first place?

“Why would you do that? Why keep things from these poor little gnomes. They at least deserve to know the reason behind their plight.” She had the same question but why did she assume our town was like the rest of these we’ve been to? We were quite well off. Or are there places where everyone leads even better lives? Mr. Randall did tell us that we were living like royalty but I’ve read about more lavish lifestyles in the books I’ve read. I know they’re storybooks but even fantasy comes from some truth.

“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that. We were never even allowed to set foot out of the town” my mother’s response was very clear-cut. Ravenna could see it too. She wouldn’t get anything more out of her.

“Fine. Keep it to yourself. But this kid’s not cooped up in your town anymore so I’m going to impart some wisdom to him. He needs to know things if you want him to survive out here. I’m not going to endanger his life by encouraging ignorance like you and your townspeople have” Ravenna was quite crude about it. I was quite happy that I was finally getting some answers but it hurt to see her be so condescending to my mother. I’m sure she and uncle Mikhail had a good reason to keep things from us.

“Alright kid. I’m gonna have to assume that you don’t know jack-shit about the outside world. I’ll imagine that you’re from a locked up town from some corner in the west and have never set foot outside. Now listen well and listen carefully. I don’t want to repeat after myself.” Yes! Story time! Finally! It felt like the times when my mother was about to read me a story before going to bed. I nodded, very diligently.

“Remember that geography lesson I gave you three days ago? This is Silvervale, ruled by King Horticus. Now, ignore him because he’s not all that very important to the story. The story revolves around the Rilancian Emperors. The most influential men in the country. As you know, they rule the biggest chunk of the country from the centre. Aversol is the mainland. Silvervale is the west, there’s Europa in the south and Valencia in the east. These are the four Kingdoms of Pangenna, the country we live in.” None of this was new information, but it was a good revision nevertheless.



“Not even the combined might of all the three minor kingdoms can take down the Rilancian Empire but it wasn’t always like this. About 50 years ago, Dover Rilance assumed the throne after the death of his father at the young age of 16. At this time, the entire country was home to hundreds of warring kingdoms. Dover’s father lost his life defending his dying kingdom which was being ambushed by a more powerful state. Dover was a smart and kind prince, much more mature than anyone his age should be. He understood that real peace in our country could only be achieved through unification by conquest. It was paradoxical but it was his strong belief that only war with the right purpose could end all wars. Half measures will only drive the nation into further despair.” Ravenna had quite the flair for dramatic storytelling. She was waving her hands around and changing the tone at the right moments. It was quite entertaining.

“Dover set out on a journey to acquire more wisdom and prepare for a massive invasion. He returned five years later and was subjected to intense hate by his own people for abandoning them in the time of need. Somehow, they had survived the war without their king. He used up all the remaining treasury to call together very capable individuals he met on his journey and also prepare for the real war. This brought in much more criticism but little did they know about what was to come. With his advanced intellect and help from the competent individuals he hired, he had amassed a kingdom, larger than any across the entire world. He knighted those people and they came to be known as the legendary Astral Knights. In twenty-five years, Aversol had grown from an insignificant and dying kingdom, to the most powerful, wealthy and influential empire the world had ever known. Inspired by his heroic conquest. Two kings on both ends of the country also found quite the success while Dover was expanding his own kingdom. Our King Horticus Bradstone formed a major Kingdom in the West and Porus Valick defeated his brother to be the ruler of a unified Valencia in the East. Dover could have easily conquered the entire country but he stopped short because his goal was achieved. The world finally knew peace. At the end of their conquest, when there were no more little kingdoms to conquer, these three mighty kings came together and declared a decree of peace which has officially lasted to this day. However, Emperor Dover died mysteriously two weeks after this declaration and then his son stepped into power.” That was a really long and intense history about our country. I didn’t know what it had to do with the Waynecastle massacre but it was too interesting to ignore. The tale of a legendary conqueror.


“Yes, twenty years ago his son took the throne. Gideon Rilance. The world was doomed the day he assumed the throne” she said. I could feel the hate in her voice. It was stronger than the hate she portrayed for Horticus Bradstone. I looked aside at my mother. It seemed like she knew the story up until this point but this new part seemed to have grabbed her interest. Maybe she didn’t know much from this point either given that she moved to Vereen around the same time.

“Why? What did he do?” I asked her curiously.

“Heh, the pitiful world you see around you…. It’s all his doing. He’s directly responsible for the suffering of every single being in the country. What I wouldn’t give to be able to go back in time and sever his head before he could do this to us. I think everyone around wishes they could.” Her hatred was really dark. I wanted to get back to the story but this sure was building the stakes up quite well. What could he have done?


“That man. He was mad. He had no respect for anyone. He didn’t have any ambitions either. He just liked sitting on his large, golden throne and see how much his power could achieve. He was the ruler of the largest empire in the world so a lot could be achieved with that much power. He executed anyone who even slightly opposed or disobeyed him, he destroyed towns that he didn’t like and brought chaos because it amused him. Everyone despised him but none could stand up to him. The world was at his mercy. He was the total opposite of his father, a mirror image.” It was hard to believe that such an evil person could actually exist.

“Do you know anything about soul keepers?” Ravenna asked me. I didn’t but the question seemed to startle my mother.

“No, never heard of them.” I told her plainly.

“I expected that response but it still surprises me that you are so uneducated. It’s a shame. Very well -”

“STOP” cried my mother.

“What’s wrong?” both me and Ravenna asked her

“He doesn’t need to know. Please. Not now.” begged my mother. I couldn’t fathom why this was so important to conceal. Who are these soul keepers?

“Sure he does. The more he knows, the better and I fail to see how this information could hurt him in anyway.” Ravenna was being very reasonable

“You don’t understand. You can’t” said my mother pleading even more desperately.

“No mother! I need to know. What if I endanger my life again for not knowing enough? What if I put you both in danger again? It’ll be your responsibility then. Maybe last night was your responsibility too.” I instantly regretted saying what I just did when I saw her shocked expression. It really hurt her but it was too late to take it back. I had no words and neither did she.

“Ahem. He’s right. It’s better if he knows stuff” said Ravenna, trying to break the painful silence. I turned to her to listen to the rest of the tale.

“Let me tell you about Soul Keepers then. Damn, this is going to be difficult. It’s like teaching science. I don’t know much about this stuff but here’s the gist of it.” I nodded. “The soul is the most fundamental element of nature. Everything you see around you is a product of the fabric of the soul. The three countries on this planet: Pangenna, Cambria and Rodrion have their own set of Soul Keepers, the guardians of the fabric of the soul. There are seven soul keepers, one for every element. These soul keepers along with their soul brother protect the fabric of the soul and ensure balance is maintained.”

“Soul brother?” I asked her.

“Yes, a Soul Keeper is actually two beings. A person and a dragon. They are both soul brothers for life.”


“Dragons!?” I shrieked. “Dragons are real!!?”

“Yes, very real. Each soul keeper has a soul brother appointed to them from birth. Humans and dragons have the closest affinity to the fabric of the soul which is whey they make the pair as soul brothers. The lives of soul brothers are linked from the moment of realisation. If one dies, so does their significant other. Every different soul keeper and their dragon are masters of their particular element. They have great power which lets them protect and conserve life as we know it. They’ve been around since the beginning of time and they’re the most important people in the world. They are worshipped, respected and loved because without them, everything would falter. Even though they’re near omnipotent,  they’re the kindest and wisest people you would ever come across. Everything they do is for the best interest of the world which is why nobody opposes them.” From the looks of it, Ravenna really admired these people. Even I was entranced by the description of these glorious people.

“Ooh, what are the elements?” I asked her in a squeaky voice.

“Wow, someone’s really excited. You’re really taking this off course too. Still, I’ll give you a treat. Consider this payment for that lovely chlorol. Well, the soul is the primary element. Then there are seven secondary elements which are more complex versions of the soul. They’re usually classified into three archetypes. Atmos has water, earth and air. Energos has fire and thunder. Lumos has light and shadow. These are the seven secondary elements that constitute the natural world. Every material thing, that is. Life is powered by soul itself” she said, poking at my chest but then sadness overtook her face. I sensed something sinister approaching.

Ignore ice, lol

“Gideon didn’t like that peace decree. He never did. But declaring war as soon as he took the throne would throw the world into chaos even though the overwhelming strength of the his empire would be sufficient enough to overcome it. But he had an obstacle that not even his enormous army and legendary knights could overcome. The Soul Keepers. They being who they are, have direct relationships with the most important people in the country and that included the three kings: Dover, Horticus and Porus. Even after Dover’s death, they affiliated themselves with the Rilancian empire but they hated Gideon. They could never get along with that figure of chaos. During the declaration of peace, the soul keepers convened with the kings and swore to honour and protect the decree. When they found out that Gideon was planning to dishonour the agreement, they threatened to intervene and take him down if it came down to it. According to him, all opposition needed to be chastised. But executing soul keepers is no child’s play. They had to be executed in a different manner. Execution by assassination.” Ravenna paused. Just recollecting it seemed to move her. I could see it coming too. A tragic tale.

“It was 14 years ago. Under the emperor are different lords who govern each sector given to them. One of the Rilancian lords invited the soul keepers for a feast at his home. It was Hubert Wayne, a dear old friend of these legendary seven. On that moonless night, the soul keepers had a hearty meal among friends. Good time was had and warmth was shared. Nobody saw it coming. When they retired, assassins infiltrated the castle. The best killers in the world. You can’t fight what you can’t see. At once, they slayed them all. Everyone but the keeper of shadow. A split second error on the part of the assassins had alerted her enough to escape death. Devastated at the sight of her dead friends, she fought the assassins and fled. It is rumoured that she hid in Valencia for a few days till she found out the truth. Gideon Rilance and Hubert Wayne had plotted this together. Enraged at this betrayal, she abandoned Pangenna and took refuge with our eastern neighbours in Cambria. It’s said that she died there after a few years. The legacy of the soul keepers was destroyed and the emperor made sure that they could not pass it down to the next generation by destroying all the eggs. The worship of soul keepers was abolished and their temples were desecrated. They were labelled as the enemies of the empire. That was the end of the world as we knew it. The night of the Waynecastle massacre was the doomsday and we’re basically living in a post apocalyptic world. The balance of nature had tipped and the world started crumbling. To you it might seem like I’m exaggerating. Sure things don’t seem too bad today but I’ve seen what the world looked like before they were killed. In fourteen years, so much has changed. In a few more decades, everything will end. The decay gets worse and worse with time. Dying forests, displaced beasts and birds, numerous plagues, failing crops, lack of rain, violent oceans, scorching sun and everything bad you can imagine. Your generation might be the last to live a full life, however empty it may be.” There was more, I could feel it.

“What was that bit about passing on the legacy and eggs?” I asked her

“Soul keepers don’t live on for too long. The more they use their power, the sooner they die. The thing about soul keepers is that they’re chosen from birth. When a dragon feels that their death is soon coming, they lay an egg. At the same time, a child is born. A prospect. Once the prospect comes of age, that is at the age of fifteen, he or she is to spend a year with the egg. The more time they spend with the egg, the stronger the bond is with their soul brother. The stronger the bond, more is their power and longer their lifespan. The prospect is realised when the egg hatches on their sixteenth birthday and the cycle continues. Before the massacre, three of the dragons had already laid eggs but they were destroyed at the command of the emperor, ensuring that there would never be another soul keeper ever again.” It ached my heart. How could someone exterminate something so important? Something that protects the very world you live in.

“The emperor knew what he was doing. He cleverly injected doctrine after this incident. He stated that Hubert Wayne proposed the soul keepers for their support so that the Rilancian Empire could go to war and he did so behind the emperors back. The enraged soul keepers then cursed the land and removed its connection to the soul. A fight ensued in the castle and they all died except the soul keeper of shadow, who destroyed the remaining eggs before fleeing.”

“What nonsense! Who would believe it?” I cried

“Oh boy, even I find it shocking that most people in the mainland to this day believe the doctrine. Well, they don’t have it as bad as us in the west. We are the farthest from the forest of Jottivick which is why we’ve been suffering the most. The mainland and Valencia enjoy close proximity to the forest which is why their decay is much slower than ours. It’s bad out there, but not as much as this. People still live normal lives. They still have livelihoods.” She was clearly envious.

“What’s this forest?” I asked her

“You forgot already? I told you last time right? The Sacred forest of Jottivick. It is the only place in the country which is not under the rule of any king. It is governed by The Elders, a group of remarkable hermits. They have somehow preserved the fabric of soul in their region and have prevented it from corrupting. Valencia and the capital of Aversol are very close to the forest which is why they prosper to this day.” The envy was still there.

“Well, what has happened since then. Did he start a war? You did tell me about a cold war between Rilance and Bradstone.” I asked her

“Yes an no. There hasn’t been an all out war since the massacre. The economy and climate changed the entire country. Even the mad emperor had to focus his efforts on preservation of his kingdom instead of war. If he did go to war, everything you see would vanish in a couple of years. Nobody can afford a war now. Ten years ago, Lord Garius of the southernmost district broke off from the Rilancian Empire because of his friction with the Emperor. The emperor couldn’t dare attack him and win the territory back because Lord Garius annexed the trade network. He was the primary ambassador for trade with our southern neighbours in Rodrion. Rodrion is rich with resources and we had plenty of gold and articles of value. We can’t cultivate enough for ourselves so trading with Rodrion is the only way we survived. All trade with Rodrion is only done by Lord Garius and he in turn trades with both Bradstone and Rilance. Valencia is pretty much self -sufficient. Don’t mistake caution for forgiveness though. Europa is still the enemy of Rilancian Empire. Even they are at cold war. One wrong move and everything is over.” She continued..

“Horticus chickened out first and locked himself up in his capital. The fortification of the four great cities of Silvervale began and every other town and settlement was left on their own. The Rilancian empire has ever since been gnawing at us. They pillage our towns and attack our caravans. They have indirectly gained control over Silvervale territories by placing proxies like bandits or mercenaries in charge of certain towns. At the rate they’re going, they’ll take over all of Bradstone except the four great cities in five more years. Valencia has been safe from Rilance because they are separated by the sacred forest. It is forbidden to step inside the sacred forest without the permission of the elders and they are very selective.” It seemed like she had finished. I was glad too as there was only so much that I could take in one go. So much hate and violence. I didn’t know I was part of such a dark history and that very history was going to snuff the life out of us.

After a few moments of silence, I spoke up. “Thanks Ravenna. Thank you for telling me all this. I understand that I would have been happier and less tense without knowing all this but it is important that I am aware of the world I live in.” I turned to my mother. “Don’t worry mom, it’s not all that bad. The world is still going on isn’t it. There’s still hope.” I said with a smile but she didn’t seem to think that way. It looked like the tale had weighed her down.

“It’s about time kid. You should have known all along”

“Hey, what were those necromancers?” I suddenly asked her. I almost forgot about that.

“Oh, that’s a whole another story. Good thing its relevant. Necromancers are mages. Mages that awaken the dead. Wait, let me go back a bit” she took a deep breath and continued. “Over a thousand years ago, a generation of soul keepers shared the knowledge of elemental manipulation with regular people for some reason. Those who could control said elements were called mages. Most mages can only learn to control only one element even after a lifetime dedicated to study and practice. However, a few generations ago a faction of mages learned how to awaken the dead. This was against the principles of the soul. It was through the manipulation of an element which is the primary counterpart of the soul like an opposite. The enraged soul keepers thus banned all ‘magic’ and have enforced it ever since. Clearly, the art has survived discreetly through the years and now when there were no soul keepers in the way, the mages re-emerged. Mages are a normal part of society today. You can see them around often. However most of them are quite weak and can only pull off parlour tricks like lighting a small fire or sloshing some water around. The one you saw last night was a very powerful one. He was a battle mage. Battle mages are quite intelligent, powerful and experienced. He was a water mage, more specifically an ice mage who also has some experience with the manipulation of fire. Most people won’t see such powerful mages ever in their lifetime unless they’re on the battlefield.” Somehow it sounded like Ravenna didn’t have the same sense of admiration for mages like I did.

“Necromancers are bad news. Not only do they corrupt the fabric of the soul even further, they also do raids like the one you saw last night. Uncontrolled settlements like Pompadoon are easy targets for parties of necromancers. They attack these people who no one cares about and use them as experiments for their study. They also defile graves. Nobody likes necromancers. One may not be much of a problem but a party is something you need to watch out for. They’re quite formidable on the battlefield, were there is no shortage of the dead. But then again, most necromancers can’t control more than two zombies at the same time. The most powerful one I’ve ever seen could control four of them at once. He was quite hard to slay” she said with a proud smile. “Fighting zombies isn’t easy. They move much faster than regular people and they do so in bizarre ways. Their power output is also much higher because they feel no pain and they do not have a mind of their own. Their bodies are expendable so they don’t have mental limiters like us that prevents us from using our full muscle power to conserve our body. I just hate mages. They’re too much for me to handle.” Her description was enough to make me loathe necromancers. No good man would do something like that.

“And hey, always stay away from mages. I know that old battle mage helped you out but that’s a rarity. Mages foremost encourage the study of magic. Any other mage wouldn’t have cared in that situation. Mages are bad news.” She said very instructively.

“Got it” I said. But I still had this feeling that not all mages are bad. Necromancers sure were, but maybe not the other types. “Wizards are bad news” I repeated to affirm to her command.

“Mages, not wizards. Wizards are different” she corrected me.

“Wait, what?” I asked her. “There’s another class of magic users?”

“Mages manipulate elements, while wizards alter reality”

“How do they do that?” I asked her

“I don’t know. Nobody knows. I’m not sure if there are any of them around. History speaks of a few. If anything, I think they manipulate the soul in its primary form rather than the secondary form like the mages do.”

“Yeah..” I said, thinking about the tales I read in my books. I had learnt a lot today. There was still a lot I had to process. Some of this stuff would need revision but I think I got most of it through my head. I still had questions, mostly from my mother. Why were we going to Braumchester? Who are we meeting? Who is Mr. Smith? Why did we leave our home? Why were we hiding our true identities? There were too many questions but today was not the day. I had learnt what I needed. I’ll save them for another day. I hadn’t heard a peep from her since Ravenna started telling me everything. It really bothered me but the only thing I could do was give her space and not ask her any more questions.

Before we knew it, two hours had passed and we were now looking at Braumchester from a distance. It looked like Ravenna had earlier described. A remote and unkempt slum. A very busy one though. We slowly made our way towards the place.

Click here for the next chapter

Author’s Notes

Yay! The prologue has ended. This will mark the end of the first volume of the story. Based on my current estimate, the story might have a total of 15 volumes of similar length but it may change as the story progresses.

Lol, this was like a Q&A episode

This was a huge chapter, wasn’t it? But it was my favourite so far because it had so much rich and juicy content. I enjoyed telling the tale of the world and explaining the main aspects that will influence the story and yes…. you read that right…..

DRAGONS!!! Hell yeah! Who doesn’t love dragons? It’s a shame they’re all dead though (evil laughter). Anyways, keep your eye open. The story has only started. Who knows what’s to come?

We’re finally in Braumchester, the journey here was five chapters long but a lot more happened in these five than the ones before. Things will only keep getting better with time.

I’d like to talk about a lot of things from this chapter but the problem with that is that I’d never stop. Let’s leave that for the comments. Ask me anything.

The Soul Keeper and the Guardian, Chapter 9


Click here for the first chapter


Our trials and tribulations were only beginning. After facing two different ambushes and falling asleep in the middle of the desert, we had a new adversity to gaze on. A huge storm. Ravenna corrected me. ‘It’s a sandstorm’ she cried. We had been taught about storms but this was my first time witnessing one. Never in Vereen were we fortunate enough to experience a storm. Most would frown upon my madness to see the misfortune in never having to live through a storm but it is kind of exciting. The winds bellowed hard and our horses struggled to move straight. The speeding dust was hitting our faces in such force that I felt my face tearing apart every second. We couldn’t see anything but Ravenna was prepared for this all along. She had all three of our horses tied up and had taken the lead.


“OI!! Get your ass up. Are you both hibernating?” Ravenna woke us both up with some outrageous banging and yelling. All that noise seemed enough to wake everyone up at the inn but she wasn’t one of those people who would care. My mother rushed to the door to let her in but she chose to stay at the door. “You both slept the whole day. I’ve never seen anything like it. The sun rose two hours ago. You better get dressed soon because the next town is over 12 hours away and the sooner we get there, the better. Travelling after sunset could be tricky so you better hurry up.” From the looks of it, she had just woken up too but had the nerve to come here and tell us to speed things up.


“Come on Ed, wash up your mouth” shouted my mom while rummaging through her luggage. I took a mouthful of Chlorol from a bottle and gargled intensely for a few seconds before spitting it out in the nearest pot.

“Hey, what’s that supposed to be?” Ravenna asked my mother. It looked like she already had an idea and indeed she did follow up. “Is that chlorol by any chance?”

“Yes” said my mother. “You rinse your mouth with this and wipe your teeth with a clean cloth. Have you never used it?” she asked her back.

“No. It’s usually used by the wealthy few. Royalty and other important folk. I’d heard about it but I’ve never seen it before. It’s not generally sold out in the open and even if it was, I couldn’t afford it.”

“How do you clean your teeth then?” I asked her.

“Like everyone else. Soak some Glader bark in water and chew it for a few minutes before rinsing your mouth with some water.” She said enviously. I hadn’t seen anyone clean their teeth without using Chlorol before. I hadn’t even heard of Glader trees before. “Would you like some?” I offered her a serving.


“Are you sure?” she asked while seeking approval from my mom. “It’s really expensive”

“Oh please. I brought lots of bottles with me. It might even last the three of us a year” said my mother cheerfully. But one year! Isn’t that overkill? What did she pack so much for?

Ravenna took a shy little sip and sloshed it inside her mouth before spitting it out in the same pot I used. “Aww this is so tasty!!” she squealed. “It’s so fresh and energising. I’m never chewing that stupid bark again in my life. I’m going to use those two crowns to buy me all the chlorol I need.” She was visibly blushing and prancing around, like a little girl on her birthday.


Soon after, we were all dressed up and ready to leave. This time around, she was wearing something different than what she wore yesterday. Yesterday, she was casually wearing some leather armour on her torso with some leather bracers on her forearms. She was equipped with a long mace and a slim stiletto dagger. Today however, she was padded to the teeth. The knee length leather boots and bracers were the same as yesterday but now she was wearing a sleeved chain-mail armour under her leather top on top of which she placed her steel shoulder pads. She was wearing an equipment belt and cross-tied it with every other component she was wearing to hold everything together. Instead of a mace, she was carrying two swords which she placed on her back, both tilted in one direction. She had a couple of pouches on her belt but I didn’t see any dagger. She was also wearing a cape, leather gloves and a scarf around her neck.

“You both should put on a scarf too. The desert can be an unpredictable place. The least you can do is avoid turning your mouth into a miniature desert.” We both pulled out a couple of scarves and wrapped them around our heads.

“Alright. I managed to pack plenty of water while you both were taking your good time dressing up. I’m wearing twice as much as you and didn’t even take half the time.” It was more bragging than complaining so we didn’t pay much heed it it.


“Why the cape?” I asked her

“It helps you ride better when it’s windy” she said

“Really?” I asked her with surprise because I’ve always wanted to wear a cape but never had any good reason to.

“Nah, it just looks good” she chuckled at my disappointment and walked forth to get the horses. We began our journey into the desert and everything seemed to go well for the first few hours. The sun wasn’t as bright as it was in the last two days and the unstopping wind kept us from sweating but slowly it started getting complicated. The wind was blowing at an accelerated pace and was hitting us face first. It started slowing us down and then we saw it. A massive cloud of dust swirling in the distance. It kept getting bigger as it slowly gained upon us. There was nowhere to run and getting engulfed in it was now inevitable. Fear had crippled us and our horses and we standing still on the sand, gazing at this monstrosity approaching us.

“We need to keep moving. Standing in one spot would make things even worse. It’s coming right from the front so all we have to do is charge head-on. Any momentum is going to help. Here, tie a hitch on your saddles with this rope. We need to stick together.” She passed us a rope that she had already tied to her horse. Mom made me the middle man and she tied the end of the rope on her saddle. Now the three of us slowly charged forward, bracing ourselves for impact.

“Are they going to be okay?” I asked Ravenna.

“Who’s they?” she asked me back.

“The horses. They look so scared.” I had never seen Diddy and Dixit look this horrified and yet they were moving forward.


“Yeah, you can navigate your horse through a storm like this if you know what you are doing. It’s not going to be easy for them but you look like you have a good handle on your horses. If you can get through it with your nerves intact, so can they. Just take control of the situation. We tightened the scarves which masked us better. Second by second, the cloud grew larger. We could feel a reduction in speed as the storm approached. The dust was hitting us now. Even though we were fully clothed, it felt like we were being poked by thousands of needles on the front. I leaned forward and tightly hugged Diddy. He was grunting in pain as he struggled forward. I felt bad for putting him through this but he kept advancing without hesitation. After what felt like an hour but actually turned out to be a few couple of minutes, the winds started getting weaker. The push-back was much lesser than before and we were gaining speed. The dust was still thick and blinding. We couldn’t see anything but brown-red sand engulfing us from all sides through the small open slits of our eyes. Slowly, things started to appear in our field of vision. The wind was less than half the speed from earlier and the cloud was vanishing quickly. Ravenna shouted and commanded us to untie the rope so that we could charge ahead and then take a break. After loosening the knots, we sped forward, gasping for cleaner air.


‘That was tough’ I said while panting heavily. The rest were as winded as me but Ravenna seemed to be calmer.

‘Yeah, it was. Let’s not stay here too long. We need to keep moving. This part of the desert is quite unpleasant. I don’t want to have to ride through one of those again.’ We agreed almost instantly. Without relaxing too much, we began continuing our journey to Braumchester.

‘How far is it again?’ asked my mom, who already seemed tired of the journey. We’d been on the ride for over four hours. Noon was past us and the sun was facing us now, making it the toughest part of the journey after the sandstorm.

‘There’s another town in the way. It’s pretty much abandoned so we don’t have to worry about paying for stay. Not that that’s going to be a problem for you anyway. We’ll get there by evening, so we’re still not even halfway through. Keep your masks on, it’s going to get hotter.’ We kept going ahead diligently. We made intervals between galloping and regular strutting to keep the perfect balance between speed and fatigue. Slowly, the sun started to set and dusk approached us. As the surroundings got cooler, we started stripping ourselves of extra clothing that was protecting us from the blazing sun. The cool fresh air felt like an elixir healing our immense fatigue.


We were now climbing a huge dune. Just as we reached the peak, we got to see a glimpse of our destination. It was a huge town, much larger than the ones we’ve been to these past few days. Judging from the span, it even seemed bigger than Vereen from where I was standing. Strangely, I’d never seen my own town from a distance. It happens to be physically impossible to spot given how it’s surrounded by forests and mountains.


The town was huge but it wasn’t dense. The houses were scattered far apart from each other. A couple of buildings were huddled together in different clusters making the town look like a honeycomb. Taking a look at the place sent a chill down my spine. It was cold and eerie and made me feel quite uneasy. Slowly, we trotted down the dune, making our way to the town.


This place was dark. Only a few houses were lit and there were a lot of creepy vagrants scattering out of our way to avoid attention. “What is this place?” I asked her.

“This is Pompadoon. It used to be a town of lumberjacks and timber traders but since the Waynecastle massacre, the entire forest surrounding the town started dying out and the townsfolk lost their livelihood. Most of them moved out to other places but those who were too scared to move have been decaying here ever since. People left behind good houses so this place has become a hot spot for all kinds of vagrants. Nobody bothers anybody here but we need to be careful in particular. We stand out and some folks might come snooping for a snack. Don’t worry though. I can handle most of what these weak goons can throw at me but I want to avoid any trouble if I can. Let’s just stay hidden. We’ll look for a decent hut and camp there for the night. We’ll start again in the morning and that way, we’ll be in Braumchester by evening tomorrow.”


For the most part we circled the edge of the town to avoid any unwarranted attention. As we cruised through the shabby streets, glancing across our camping options I saw a drearier reality about the world outside Vereen. The plight of this town was unimaginable. People losing their way of life, people losing their homes. I’ve only been out for less than a week and I am already so tired of being on the move. The last couple of days have been quite challenging. I wondered how it would have been for those people. The conditions of the current residents were rotten. They lived in squalor and looked sad and scared. It seemed as if living like pests made them behave like pests too. There were still plenty of vacant houses around but none seemed habitable, at least for “us” as my mother suggested. I couldn’t blame her  high standards but every rejected housing option seemed to tick Ravenna off more and more. I felt a bit embarrassed for her  choosiness and after a point, I was willing to spend a night in a pig sty if that would prevent Ravenna from exploding in a fit of rage.


“Ah! This is perfect! Sturdy door, working bolts, grills on the windows, a kitchen, a chimney and clean….. for the most part. Pass this one up and I’ll throw off a cliff, you choosy princess.” We finally came across a decent shack. “Hehehe. This is quite… sufficient” said my mother, laughing awkwardly. It took a direct death threat for her to realise how much she had pissed Ravenna off with her pickiness. We tied our horses up at the front and took shelter inside.


“Phew, what a day! I’m exhausted.” I cried

“Oh, shush now pansy. You should be embarrassed instead. This small rendezvous has sapped you out already? I’ve been on horseback for two days straight a few times. No resting in the middle. You pampered kids are too soft. You only understand how difficult life is once you step out of your castle in the clouds.” Ravenna grumbled.

It stung but there was some truth to what she was saying. Maybe I am too soft. What do I know of how life is out here?

“Hey, go easy on him. Also, Ed and I are quite vigorous. He spends most of his time out in the forests. I hardly ever see him idling around at home. I too work the farm all day but this has been much more exhausting. Maybe it’s because travelling is new to us. This must be a routine for you so I don’t think you can relate” my mom said in defence. It was a bit embarrassing but she was right. I used to run around the forests all day and that never tired me out. Horse riding has never been my forte so maybe that’s why I’m exhausted so easily.

“Hmph! Forests in the west and princesses working the farm. I don’t what kind of lame joke you’re trying pass up but I don’t wanna sit and humour you. I’ll go check if I can get some food for the horses. Bolt up after me and don’t let anyone except me in at all costs. Understand?” I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t believe us but we nodded to her command. She left and we bolted the door shut. Mother was unrolling the beds on the floor while I was rummaging through our supplies. There was a lot of food to go around. Pouches filled with nuts, dried meat, cakes and so many fruits and veggies.

“We’ll eat the fruits first Ed. We don’t want them to rot. The rest of the things won’t perish anytime soon” said my mother. Just as I was about to pick out today’s dinner, I was startled by loud banging on the door.

“Open up! Quick! Open up!!” It was Ravenna. I ran to the door and unbolted it. She lunged inside and starting repacking all our stuff. She looked terrified. “What is it?” I asked her.

“Necromancers. A whole bunch of them. Hurry, we need to leave!” I had no idea what she was talking about but her fear was utterly contagious. It seemed like my mother knew what these “necromancers” were but she also had confusion stamped on her face. I started repacking our supplies while mother rolled our beds back. I could now hear screams from outside. I turned to see what was happening out the door. People were running in one direction. Some tried to throw stones at whatever was chasing them but nobody spent any more time on a second hurl. The horror on the streets made me freeze up like I did in Hirridunn when Randall was facing off against those three men in black.


Ravenna slapped the back of my head to get me back to my senses. They were done packing already. “Oi brat. Can’t spare time to get scared now. Run to your horse and ride behind me as fast as you can. I don’t want you to hesitate for even one second. They’re almost here.”

From where I was standing I could see through the door. Not as many people seemed to be running now because most of them had fled. It seemed like a group of men were coming from the left. The light from their torches grew stronger as they drew closer. In front of the the house opposite ours, I could see an old hooded man sitting by the door, oblivious to the chaos outside. Was her drunk or was he asleep? How could he sleep through such commotion?

I ran out the door after these two. All of us looked at the incoming horde of people who seemed to be threatening the town. It was a large group of about thirty men dressed in purple robes, each of them hooded and cloaked. They were all holding daggers and torches in each hand and were chanting a strange language in unison. But that wasn’t the strangest thing in sight. Walking among them, were several undead!!


The undead army was slowly advancing on us. I saw a family of three in the midst of the pack, struggling to fight off this strange threat. A little girl and her parents were already surrounded by these men and the zombies. The father tried defending his family by swinging his sword around but it didn’t matter to the undead. They disarmed him with ease, bravely getting hacked by the sword as if it didn’t hurt one bit. One of the hooded men walked forth and stabbed this defeated man in the chest. His wife and daughter cried out at the sight of his death but a few seconds later he got up. He picked up the sword and walked towards his own family, only this time with the sword pointed at them instead of shielding them. He was one of them now.


The sight was gruesome. I noticed that Ravenna was already dragging me by the collar. She was saying something but I couldn’t hear anything. My eyes were fixed at the horror in front of me. The hooded men seemed to be the necromancers that Ravenna mentioned. I couldn’t understand what was going on in front of me but it was clear that the awakened father was now a zombie like the rest of them. Right when he closed in at his family, the necromancer who stabbed him stopped him in his tracks. He wiped his dagger clean and slowly walked towards the mother and daughter who were scared to bits. As soon as he grabbed the child’s throat, my body felt a jolt. Before I knew it, I was running into the horde of the necromancers. “YOU! STOP!!!” I shouted at the top of my voice.


I grabbed the attention of every single necromancer and the undead around them. Their chanting had stopped. The necromancer who held the girl’s throat let her go and waved his hand towards me, like trying to splash water at someone in a pond. Suddenly, every single zombie from the horde broke into an inhuman run. They charged at me at unbelievable speed which broke my own run. I was paralysed with fear. What was I thinking? Why did I run towards her? What could I have accomplished? A frail little boy like me. I could hear Ravenna and my mother running towards me while they were shouting something. I still couldn’t make anything out. Any moment now, it would be over. I had endangered not only myself but also my mother and our new companion. My gaze was still fixed on the scared little girl who was staring back at me. “RUN! NOW’S YOUR CHANCE. GET AWAY FROM HERE” I cried as hard as I could. Without hesitation, they made their escape while the attention of the necromancers and the zombies was fixed on me. I smiled knowing that they were safe now. Everything seemed to move slowly around me. The zombies charging at me looked much slower than before as if time itself had slowed down in my final moments. It seemed as if my very own body was caught in a much severe time freeze for I couldn’t even attempt a final escape. I closed my eyes, picturing my mother for I did not want to die with my last sight being of a grotesque zombie.


A strong cold gust blew past me and the force knocked me down. As I got up, I saw a huge wall of ice separating me from the zombies. They were banging the ice, trying to break it down. Beside me stood the old hooded man I saw before. He was dressed in a similar fashion like those necromancers but he wore blue robes instead of purple. “Run now, young hero. Leave this mess to this old man.” He gave me a warm smile through his cold presence.


His palms were frosted and his breath seemed cold. Ravenna had reached me already. Without saying a word, she lifted me up on her shoulders and started running back to the horses. The zombies started coming around the wall. The old man waved his arms towards them with bizarre movements and froze them into blocks of ice. The wall he created broke as a result of overwhelming force applied by the huge swarm behind it. He waved both his hands across as if he was trying to topple a table and blew a drastic blizzard out of nowhere. The entire swarm was trapped in a giant iceberg. I could see the necromancers fleeing as he chased after them. I saw him disappear into the edge of the town.

I was now mounted on Diddy. My senses started coming back to me as the fear slowly dissipated. We were now riding into the desert and I could hear Ravenna cursing at me. “You damn idiot! What were you thinking back there? You almost got us all killed. Hmph. Running into a party of necromancers like you’re some knight.” I could faintly hear my mother crying. I bowed down in shame, realising now what I had done. I didn’t even think about them. I didn’t think about anyone. I just ran, hoping I could save that little girl and her mother.

“Thank the gods that damn mage popped out of nowhere. A warrior mage no less. You don’t get to see that everyday” she kept going on. I was so shaken by shock that my curiosity took a back seat. Necromancers, the undead and mages. There was too much to process but my mind was set one one thing. My mother, who was riding ahead of me hadn’t looked back at me once since we started riding. Her sobs were getting weaker and weaker now. We rode for hours without stopping. We were hungry and tired but the thought of stopping was too scary.

Our shock and fear faded once we felt the dawn approach. We stopped at a spot near a couple of pine trees. Ravenna was the first one to get down. She drew a bottle out and emptied it out before offering one for her horse. Me and my mother got down and did the same. She still hadn’t looked at me once. She went and sat under the trees, staring down at her lap. I couldn’t imagine what she was thinking about at the moment. Ravenna was sitting on the ground beside her horse. I took some cakes out of my bag and offered her some which she ate at a superhuman speed.

“Hey now, don’t look so gloomy kid. She’s not angry, just shook” she said very sympathetically.

“I know. But how can I face her now? I put all of us in danger back there” It was still eating me up.

“Sure you did. I can handle a bunch of bandits but mages and zombies are way out of my league. But no point in beating yourself up now. Just make sure that you don’t pull that hero card again. Do that again and I’m hauling ass. I don’t wanna turn into a pretty corpse for your heroic ambitions.” She managed to make me smile.

“Enough smiling. Man up and go talk to her. If you were brave enough to stand up to an army of the dead then facing her shouldn’t be all that difficult” she pushed me forward by slapping me on the butt.

“Ouch. Actually, this is much harder” I said as I slowly marched to my mother, afraid of what comes next.


Click here for the next chapter

Author’s Notes

Hot damn. We have magic too! Introduction to magic paired up with action? Even better.

Although it was only a tease, fret not because there’s so much more to come. There is another chapter after which the prologue ends. Then the real plot progresses. Role playing medieval games have had a great influence on me and I plan on introducing several elements from there into this story like magic, combat, items, quests, etc.

Btw, I really like Ravenna. I have noticed this trend. When authors are asked who they like the most from their own stories, they usually choose the characters who are more frank and direct. Ravenna is a cold badass and is also a really nice person. Any sane person would have fled but she ran to Ed’s rescue when an army of zombies were running in their direction. She knew that she had no chance but she chose to run to him anyway. Decisions made in times like these reveal the deep truth about one’s character. Sadly, she’ll be sidelined in the upcoming chapters.

The Soul Keeper and The Guardian, Chapter 8


Click here for Chapter 1


‘You trying to punk me?’ Said the scary red-haired warrior lady. ‘Right after I saved your sorry asses?’

Mum was speechless and so was I. We just barged into this town without even knowing its name. How unlucky were we to have our cover broken at the first stop. To make matters worse, she was just shivering with fear and doubt instead of coming up with a response which seemed to be escalating the situation.

‘Miss, we didn’t know where Kirkpod was. We were asked to use that as our cover. We don’t know anything about the world outside of our town. We’re out on an aimless mission to Braumchester and make our way back home. I’m sorry we can’t tell you where we’re from but I promise that we’ll keep our word when we get back.’ I said that to her with maximum conviction hoping that she’d agree to those terms. It was clear that we were no good at lying so blurting out the truth seemed to be the best play at hand even though I didn’t entirely know the truth about this journey. Maybe I had even compromised whatever mission we were on by telling about it to some random stranger but there weren’t many things that we could do. I felt that inaction would only bring uncertainty. It was better to choose a path and just walk it because consequences from your decisions are more acceptable than those from inaction. She stared at me for an uncomfortably long time which made me itch inside. Did I piss her off or was she contemplating the stupidity of my demands?


‘Jeez. What a pain.’ She shook her head. ‘How do you guys plan on getting to Braumchester? Do you even know where it is?’ My mind stopped going haywire after her calm response. It seemed like we had averted a huge disaster.

‘We were asked to just keep following the sun’ said my mother.

‘That’s almost correct but you’ll end up among the mountains if you keep following the sun strictly. Alright then. For some reason, I’m willing to gamble that you people have stacks of money lying back at home so I’ll go with the flow. I’ll take you Braumchester and keep you company till you reach home. You’ll be paying me two crowns and all the expenses I’ll bear for you till we get there given that you don’t have anything on yourselves as of now.’

‘It’s a deal!’ said my mother with a wide, genuine smile. She was probably comforted by the fact that we now had some guidance and security for the rest of our journey. Even if she didn’t have two crowns back at home, uncle Mikhail would cover it for us.

‘If you try to con me again, I’ll crack both your skulls open without thinking twice’ said the lady but my mom was still smiling like an idiot.

‘All right, let’s get a horse for you both. Make do with one for the rest of the journey. I’m not going to risk shelling too much money on you. There’s a stable at the edge of the town. Let’s head there right away’. With that, we started following her.


Me and my mother were walking behind her through the streets while holding hands. We still weren’t feeling quite safe yet as we cruised through these dirty streets on foot. Not much time had passed since our encounter with that gang and so the town was still unruffled given how early in the morning it was. The houses were a fourth in size compared to the ones back in Vereen, just like I observed in Hirridunn. The streets were unkempt and smelled foul even though the day hadn’t begun yet. The market was disgusting to look at which made me wonder why anyone would shop at a place like that.

‘So, what’s your name?’ asked my mother while excitedly speeding up to the red-haired lady.

‘I’m Ravenna Summers. What about you two?’

‘I’m Mirriam and this is my Ed. Edward.’ My mom was overly excited about this conversation.

‘You’re not making up your names too right?’

‘Oh, no no. Why would we do that?’ she said to her while nervously laughing and still smiling like an idiot which made her look even more suspicious in an embarrassing way. ‘I’ve never seen a woman fight before. That was so amazing what you did back there. Are you a mercenary?’ My mother’s enthusiasm and awe was making me cringe inside.

‘Wow, you people must have never left home and no, I’m not a mercenary. Not full time anyway. I’m just a casual traveller. I love to be on the move all the time and pick up odd jobs along the way to fund my ventures.’

‘So you don’t live here?’ I asked her.

‘No, I just came here to complete a delivery for the thieves guild. I don’t usually do business with them but they are easy money.’

‘What’s the thieves guild?’ The excitement sapped out of my mother’s face right after I asked the question. I wondered if I had asked something really offensive.


‘I’m not surprised you don’t know. The thieves guild was an organisation formed by independent thieves across the country. They realised that banding together was more beneficial than just being small time thieves. This meant more power, more influence, a wider network and scope to pull off larger quests. The guild had been around for a couple of centuries till they were hunted and destroyed by the Knight of Wisdom about twenty five years ago. I was only a little child back then. But the guild was too big to die so easily. Thievery never stops and from the ashes of the old, a new guild was resurrected by Clovis Favere, a top guild thief who managed to stay out of the reach of the Knight of Wisdom.’ I didn’t understand a few things like who the Knight of Wisdom was and how this resurrection happened but it was still fascinating nonetheless.

‘So you’re a part of the guild now’? I asked her.

‘What? No! Didn’t I tell you that I “don’t usually do business with them”. I’m no thief. I’m a proud adventurer’ she said sparkling with pride.

‘The guild came back into the picture about 10 years ago. The whole country started crumbling after the massacre and Clovis saw this as the perfect time to bring the guild back into the fold given how busy everyone was while dealing with the repercussions. They’ve been careful enough to keep their primary operations in our kingdom and staying out of the reach of the Emperor and the Knight of Wisdom’ Now, I was falling in a hole of total darkness. Everything seemed to be flying over my head. We had a king? How come I was never told about it and what massacre was she talking about? Who are the Emperor and this Knight of Wisdom whose name keeps popping up again and again.

‘Um excuse me, but what do you mean by “our kingdom”?’ I asked both of them. My mother was still feeling down from the ongoing conversation but Ravenna quickly answered.

‘Which cave have you been living in boy? Jeez, I don’t even want to know. Alright.’ She stopped in her tracks and kneeled down on the ground. She started carving an unnecessarily detailed outline of a continent on the ground with her dagger. ‘This is Pangenna, the country we live in. The one of three countries in the world. There’s one on the east and another one on the south, all separated by huge oceans. The eastern country is called Cambria and the southern country is Rodrion. They’re both quite prosperous unlike us because they haven’t sinned like us yet.’ I’ve always thought that we were well off but judging by the state of these places that I’ve been to in the last two days, I could see where she was coming from.

Lable Chapter 8

(The unnecessarily detailed outline drawn by Ravenna of their country)

‘Our country is broken into five states. We’re in the west, the kingdom of Silvervale. Then there’s the Aversol, the largest kingdom in the country, also known as the mainland which ruled by the Emperor. It spans across the centre and the north and is about five times larger than Silvervale. The south defected from Aversol 10 years ago and has since been ruled by Lord Garius and his council of merchants. They call the place the State of Europa. Then there’s Valencia, the kingdom of the east. Separating Aversol and Valencia is the sacred forest of Jottivick, which is governed by the Elders.’ She drew out the entire country and showed me where was what while I kneeled beside her and observed carefully. How come I was never taught about this stuff and why did I never bother to even ask. I’ve read about kings in my books but I’ve never known we had one.

‘Who’s our king, the king of Silvervale?’ I asked her.

‘That’d be Horticus Bradstone. Horticus, the cowering wimp. He’s a little coward who has locked himself up inside his giant fort in the clouds and has forgotten about his subjects.’

‘What do you mean?’ I asked her.

‘I mean that we’ve been at a cold war with the Aversol for the last ten years and we’re on the losing side. The king has basically given up on the smaller towns and settlements across the kingdom and has focused his efforts on fortifying his cities. He doesn’t even bother taxing these small places. They’re on their own and that’s why others have come picking on what remains. The thieves guild and the bandits have practically taken over these places and the Emperor is always eyeing on taking over these places indirectly because he don’t want a full fledged war either. A few more years in the luxurious towers for Horticus and we’ll soon have a new king.’ She clearly seemed to hate him.


We then got back on our way while I was revising all the new information that was fed into my brain. There was a lot to process. My mother still looked pale and downcast and I was wondering which part of the conversation had disturbed her so much. The most plausible explanation seemed like the mention of thieves guild had resulted in this, but why?

Judging by the increasing gaps between structures, we were at the edge of the town already. We saw a huge ranch, far from the edge of the town which Ravenna said was the stable we were going to purchase a new horse from. We picked up our pace and I noticed something as we got closer. A short man wearing a hat was talking to two people holding two struggling mustangs.


‘Those are our horses!’ I exclaimed while I pointed to the stable.

‘Looks like it’s your lucky day’ said Ravenna. She drew her mace out and broke into a run. Me and mom were sprinted to keep up with her but she was twice as fast. Without a warning, she attacked one of the thugs from behind by pummelling the mace on his back. He screamed and fell immediately. The other thug wasted no time and broke into a run as soon as he saw his friend get wrecked, leaving both our horses behind. We went up to them to comfort them and they calmed down once they realised that they were in safe hands.

‘Stolen goods little man. They’re not for sale’ she said to the man who looked like the owner of the stable. Those thugs probably got the horses here to sell them.

‘Oh thank goodness. Randall left a purse in Dixit’s saddle.’ He did mention it when he asked us to flee. Apparently uncle Mikhail gave it to him for the journey. My mother looked inside and gave a big sigh of relief. ‘It’s a full bag of gold like mine was. Looks like there’s about 60 pieces here. I hope it’s enough.’

’60 gold!!? For real!?’ Screamed Ravenna. ‘You’re telling me you lost almost that much back there? And what’s with you carrying so much money around.’ All this seemed outrageous to her. I didn’t get what the fuss was about.


We continued or journey back into the town. I was riding with my mother on Dixit while Ravenna had borrowed Diddy for the time being. ‘Well, that saves me some money now that I don’t have to buy you a horse. I don’t have to worry about feeding and lodging you either. With that much money, you can travel comfortably for a long, long time.’

‘Is a crown that precious?’ I asked her. This time my mother looked at me as if I’d asked the wrong question. It seemed like I had switched places with her as the idiot of the trio. She also looked a little embarrassed.

‘You kidding me brat? I don’t reckon you’ve had a decent education. I’m going to have to charge you for all these classes too. They ain’t for free.’ She looked at my mother who was giggling in shame. ‘There are only a limited amount of crowns in the world. It’s made of a rare metal called Cassium. All its ore came from one single mountain in the mainland and the Emperor a few years ago minted several pieces of currency out of it. Since then, no more cassium has been found and the number of crowns remain the same. They don’t switch hands often. Even when they do, they remain in the same circles, the high class often. I’ve never seen a crown in my life. I never expected to either given how expensive it was.’

‘How much?’ I asked her, again.

‘A hundred gold. A hundred frickin gold pieces.’ She said in the most wondrous tone.

‘That’s it?’ It didn’t seem much after all that build-up. However, it seemed like my statement had offended her as if  I had just slapped her on the face.

‘Do you understand gold’s worth?’ she asked me in a very serious tone. The only comforting thing about it was that my mother had the same confused reaction as me. A hundred gold actually didn’t seem like much.

‘I know. One gold is 75 silvers and one silver is 20 wittles.’ Only after answering did I feel like I had misunderstood her question.

‘Tell me Edward, how much was I going to buy a horse for?’ she asked me

‘No idea’ I told her immediately

‘One gold. A fully grown, healthy horse for one single piece of gold. You can buy a lovely house for about twenty gold. A hundred gold can sustain a regular family’s expenses for decades. That’s how much a crown is worth.’ I was a bit surprised. Back in Vereen, we used to buy and sell regular stuff in the market for gold. Everybody had sacks of gold. How come it’s worth so much here. ‘Don’t tell me you people are royalty. That would explain a lot though.’ She then looked to my mother. ‘Nah, you don’t look like royalty. Your hands. You’re a working woman. What do you do?’

‘I’m a farmer. A carrot farmer.’ She said with as much pride as Ravenna did when she explained her profession.

‘Yeah right.’ Said Ravenna in response to my mother’s answer. ‘It’s fine if you don’t want to tell me about your personal lives but you don’t have to make up stupid lies.’ My mother looked like she was about to retort to clarify that she indeed was a carrot farmer but she ended up not saying anything. We finally reached the inn where Ravenna was staying. She tied the horses up near hers and we went inside.

‘Hey Ed, that was a smart move back there. Calling out to me for help. Not many people put faith in others, especially around these parts. It’s also because there’s not much to depend on. Although it didn’t help you get your pouches back, at least you have your horses and a companion for your journey.’ It was strange seeing her be so nice out of nowhere.

‘Uhmm, Thank you’ I said with a smile. We then walked to the counter where she asked for another room for us. It only costed us 2 silvers for a day. The room wasn’t the best I could hope for but after what we’ve been through in the last two days, this was more than I could ask for. Me and my mother slept like babies till the night. We had some apple pie sent to our room for dinner after which we slept again through the night.


Click here for the next chapter

Author’s Notes

I decided to throw in some shameless exposition lessons in this chapter. We have a basic Geography and Economics class from Ms. Ravenna Summers (P.Ed) today. She has covered the most basic elements from both these sections. It gives you a faint introduction to the main kingdoms and the value of currency.

Like I said in the previous chapter, carrying that much gold is insane. It almost never happens among individuals. Caravans usually carry this much money or sometimes more but they are heavily armed and guarded.

Nobody knows this but the trade caravans of Vereen are one of the most lucrative caravans to loot in the country. However, Mikhail uses several ghost tactics to avoid any attention and they are also extremely defensive.

The Soul Keeper and the Guardian, Chapter 7

Glimpse of the New World

Click here for Chapter 1


By this point, I was consciously aware that I was irrefutably asleep on the desert floor. The cool dune was comfortable to sleep on but the rough sand blowing on my face was quite bothersome and yet I lay stuck to the ground. One hard day of riding had taken it’s toll aside from another long day before that. Neither me, nor my mother had gotten an opportunity to sleep yet so we were tired to the bone and crashing in the middle of the desert turned out to be a consequence. My eyes were shut tight but my consciousness was alert enough to tell me that this was not the right place or time to sleep. The fatigue had paralysed my body and mind enough to keep me stuck to the ground. But then a strange feeling disturbed my delightful nap.


I could feel something creeping up on my leg. Being around animals all the time had gotten me used to crawling and creeping of all sorts but this feeling was something entirely new. The feet were hard and sharp like bird claws but there were far more limbs with fewer claws. The movement was extremely slow and cautious and whatever it was, it wasn’t making any noise at all. It’s march all the way up to my knee finally woke me up. I made sure that I woke up as quietly and steadily as possible because a sudden reaction can scare any animal and cause it to retaliate. In fact, no animal harms humans until they’re scared for their safety. They won’t even hunt us for food unless they’re really desperate.


What I saw was some kind of a small arachnid. It was jet black and had a shiny exoskeleton with six tiny feet, two giant pincers up front and one scary looking stinger tail. It stopped moving right when I faced it and heightened it’s tail in reaction. My mother was originally from an island down south and she used to tell me about this species called “crabs” who, judging by the description had similar features. This was no sea around so it was obviously not a crab. My mother was still asleep, slightly drooling from her mouth too. I calmly tried to wake her up and luckily enough she woke up with the same tempo. With a sense of awe, I silently pointed at my knee to which she had a surprisingly appalling reaction. She put a finger on her lips, instructing me to be quiet. She slowly bent down with her knees on the ground and the side of her face almost touching the sandy floor, now parallel to my knee. With one hand she drew her cleaver out and held it steady.


I was just about to react but she signalled me again to remain still and silent. Realising that this was not the time to argue, I obeyed her command and held back my retort. The blade of the cleaver was directly pointing at the creature on my knee. My mother had one eye closed and was oscillating her weapon back and forth to get some momentum for the big swing. She was making sure that the strike was precise as there won’t be a second chance. Either the swing will miss and the creature will strike me or the cleaver would slice my kneecap off. But years of experience in crop harvesting and gardening had honed her precision swinging skills. With one sharp slash, she attacked the thing on my knee and sent it flying. It started bleeding from the side and had also broken two of it’s limbs. It was struggling to scuttle away from us while bleeding profusely.

‘MOMMM!!!!!’ I shouted. She locked my arms from behind and pulled me back.

‘It’s okay Edward, it’s gone now’ she said with a sigh of relief.

‘WHY DID YOU HURT IT??’ I asked her with all my fury.

‘It was a scorpion Ed. They’re dangerous. Didn’t you see it’s tail? One strike and you would be poisoned. Do you see where we are? We are in the middle of nowhere. I don’t even know where to take you if something happened to you.’ She was justifying her position. I could understand where she was coming from. But….

‘But why would you think that it was going to hurt me? It was just sitting there.’ I’ve been around creatures all my life and very rarely have they hurt me and they’ve only done so by accident. This sturdy fella was carefully resting on my knee.’

‘Things are not the same out here Ed. The creatures back home were very different. They have a good home and homely surroundings. Vereen was home to a very balanced environment. There’s no balance in these parts. You have to understand. The animals here might not be as friendly as the ones back home. You need to be careful and you need to know what you are dealing with. Scorpions are venomous and very defensive. Keep your distance from them whenever you can. The desert is full of them.’ She wiped the sand off her face which had stuck on her as a result of sleeping. Maybe they had a point. Mr.Smith and my mother were saying the same thing. It’s not the same out here. But why such pessimism without consideration? Regardless, I decided to go with the flow for the time being.

‘We’ve slept for too long. Luckily, it’s a full moon so there’s enough light for us to travel safely. We should get back on our way.’ With that, we both got up, dusted ourselves up well and walked up to our horses who were resting a few metres ahead. After getting on them, I looked at her to see if she knew where to go now.

‘Oh my. There’s no sun to guide us now.’ She looked up at the night sky and examined the whole picture. ‘It’s been a while since I’ve read the stars but from what I remember, that star indicates north’ pointing to the brightest star on the sky ‘So that means we need to go left to ride west. Let’s hope I’m not wrong about this or we’ll be stranded in a place we know nothing about.’ With fingers crossed, we slowly began riding into the direction she assumed was west.


We were slowly making our way to the next town while watching our speed because we still weren’t sure if  we were heading in the right direction. Dawn was already approaching and flooding the black starry night sky with bright scarlet. The light was slowly bleeding into the sky while the stars slowly faded away. ‘We covered over half the distance before we slept after we fled Hirridunn. I’m pretty sure we’re heading the right way as the sun is rising behind us which indicates that we’re on track. We should reach there by sunrise. Cheer up Ed, we can finally rest properly.’

That was the first time I had seen her be enthusiastic about something since we had left town almost two days ago. But my mind was still plagued by what had happened to our travel companion. ‘Mom, is Mr.Smith going to be all right?’ I didn’t get to know him much but I knew that he was a good man and was trying to help us out with something.

‘I don’t know what to tell you Ed. He stayed back to protect us. He knew it was something he had to do and he chose to stay behind so that we could move forward. The least we can do now is to follow his instructions. I too hope he’s alright. I don’t know how far ahead we can get without him.’ That was true. Neither me nor my mother had any exposure to this world. Even though she was an outsider to Vereen, she had spent all her youth in a remote island before directly moving in there with my father. She knew as little about these places as I did.

‘It’s different. I don’t remember it being like this when I first came here with Kenny. I remember cruising through beautiful grasslands before we made it to Vereen. Yes, it was always isolated from the rest of the towns which was exactly why we went there but the surroundings weren’t like this 15 years ago. There was no desert back then. Maybe he was right about you.’ I didn’t know if she was talking to me or to herself.

‘Who was right about me?’ I asked her.

‘Huh, What? Oh, Nothing. I’m just muttering to myself like a crazy old lady. He-he. Oh look! We’ve arrived.’ She pointed ahead of us and I saw a town almost four times the size of the Hirridunn, the last town we made a stop at. We slowly made our way into town. It was still early in the day so hardly anyone was awake. We made our way through empty streets to the middle of the town where we were more likely to find a decent place to stay at. I was still new to the concept of inns because we didn’t have one back at Vereen. The local bar used to house people who were too drunk to go home and that was it. Nobody ever came to Vereen so inns were never a fancy business option.

We were casually moving around hoping to run into someone who could point us in the right direction. Somehow, we walked into a closed alley and when we turned around to get back on the wide lane, a group of five men had already approached us from behind, startling us to the core.

‘Hey, you guys seem new around here. What are you looking for?’ Said the guy up front who looked like the leader of the pack. He had a sword on his belt which looked like a rapier. I’d read about it’s description in The adventures of Hilgett and Traut, a tale of two princes who set out on a journey across the country to find the mythical golden helmet. The sword was quite thin and looked flimsy like a long needle, concurring the description I had read. But the man had his arms crossed instead of placing his hand on the hilt so we didn’t perceive him as a threat. He also had a very charming and polite voice.

‘We’ve been on a long journey and we were looking for a place to make bed’ said my mother. She was not comfortable being backed into a dead end with five strange men in front of her. Only the leader seemed to have a sword. The rest of them had long staffs in their hands which were almost as tall as them.

‘Be careful to not step into dark corridors which may not be appropriate enough for you. There’s only one place in town that can house a fine lady like you. You can stay there as long as you have the coin.’ Suggested the man.

‘I don’t think that should be a problem. We have plenty.’ Hearing my mother say that suddenly made me remember what Mr.Smith told me on the first night of our journey. The fact that these people didn’t have enough money and that we did would make us targets. I don’t know if mom was thinking about that or not but she had just given away the fact that we had enough money on us.

‘Well, lucky you. You just straight walked up to the right place. This place right here is the best inn in town. You should get down from your horses and tie them up front.’ The guy said that while pointing to the building on the right. It looked like a decent structure but the group in front of us were just standing in front of us, expecting us to get down. Me and mom both looked at each other and reluctantly got down from our horses. The guy on the front even went as far to help my mother dismount from Dixit. The both of us had our hands on the reins and were about to move forward but the group wasn’t moving still.

‘If, you would excuse us’ said my mother with a forceful smile and chuckle but they didn’t pay any heed.

‘It’s quite bold you know? Carrying such a hefty pouch so openly. Women here just stack them under their dress but you haven’t even bothered. It looks quite heavy, let me help you with that’ the group started sneering with their leader’s statement. He approached my mother and she had already started stepping back. When the wall started closing in on her from behind, she reached for both her weapons on her belt but she was too slow. That man had already pulled out his sword out and it’s sharp end was now pointing at my mother’s neck. Her eyes were closed tight from the shock and she was already shivering.


I didn’t notice this but I had already lost my grip from Diddy’s reins. The rest of the men were trying to pull on both the horses who were putting up a small resistance. I was frozen from shock and just stood there in my place not knowing what to do. The man with the sword reached for my mother’s belt. He put the cleaver on his belt and threw the axe on the ground before snatching the large coin purse. He opened it with one hand and looked inside to see the contents of the pouch. ‘Cheers boys! We have ourselves a full bag of gold here. That’s about 10 pieces for a man.’ The whole squad cheered. Suddenly both Diddy and Dixit went haywire and struggled their way out of their group. Two of them chased behind them while the other two spotted the pouch on my belt. It only had a bunch of silvers and wittles but there was also the one crown that Uncle Mikhail gave me on my birthday.

“Ey lookit. The lad’s got a pouch of ‘is own” They both sneered and walked towards me. “Come on. Hand o’er your pockit money”. I immediately clasped the pouch with both hands. They both tried to shake me off but I put all my might into the struggle. I heard my mom shout from behind and the leader asked her to shut up. My heart was pounding like a festive drum while I was putting all my strength in to hold on to the pouch. I didn’t know how long this could go on for but I still didn’t want to let it go without a struggle.


Just then I saw a red haired woman wearing some kind of leather armour with a long two-handed spiked mace on her back walk past the alley. She noticed what was happening but just stood there as a spectator, witnessing the events unfold. For some reason, I thought that calling her out would be a good idea.

‘YOU THERE. PLEASE HELP US.’ I wailed out a desperate cry for help. She just gave me a reactionary expression implying that she was sorry but I was on my own here. She looked like our only ticket out of this pinch so I made the only bargain I could.

‘HELP US AND I’LL GIVE YOU A CROWN’. Both the men trying to pull me open were shocked for a second. Even the woman was taken aback. ‘Like hell you have a crown’ she shouted from across the street. ‘I DO. PLEASE BELIEVE ME. I HAVE IT RIGHT NOW!!! SAVE US FROM THESE PEOPLE AND YOU CAN HAVE IT!’ She just stood, confounded by my offer. These two men got back into the struggle to pull my pouch out. I didn’t think that I could hold much longer. The tussle had now blocked my view from the street. As a last resort, I cried out. ‘LADY, NOW!! PLEASE!!!’

‘Alright, what the hell’ I heard her from just behind these two men indicating that she was willing to gamble.

*BOP* The crown of the mace had struck the head of the first victim which made him faint immediately while making him bleed from his scalp. Judging from the sound, his skull had definitely cracked from the impact but he wasn’t dead yet. The other guy pushed me away with great force and grabbed his staff. It was pointed sharp on both ends and he was holding it perpendicular to his new opponent, waiting to strike. They were carefully circling each other. Just then I heard the man with the sword call out to me.


‘Hey boy!’ He was clear enough but also maintained enough silence so that it didn’t reach the new aggressor. He had grabbed my mother by the back and placed the sword on her neck. ‘Throw me the pouch or I’ll cut her throat open for you to see’ I looked to my mother and she instructed me by nodding to follow his command. Without a second’s thought, I threw him my coin purse which he caught mid air. He then pushed my mother in my direction and ran for the street. We both immediately hugged each other but our attention turned to the fight. They had been circling each other long enough had sent enough thrusts and swings in each other’s direction to measure each other up. The woman looked tired enough of this back-and-forth by this point. She took a long step forward with her left foot while loading up for a swing by pulling her right shoulder back. Her opponent had thrust his staff at her face but her pivot which she performed to load for the swing had already pulled her out of the path of the strike. With a clean dodge in her pocket, it was her turn to strike. She swung the mace on to the side of his his left knee and completely broke it open. With a sharp squeal he dropped his staff and fell on the ground on his other knee. Without wasting any more time, she took another swing and hit him on the side of his face, knocking him unconscious and leaving him with a pulverised face.


I saw the leader running off from the scene without even trying to put on a fight for his friends. The red-haired woman wiped some sweat off her forehead without noticing the fleeing opponent and clipped her mace on her back, now noticing that the fight had cleared. ‘You guys alright?’ she asked as as she slowly approached us. We both nodded in response. ‘Thank you. Thank you for saving us by risking your own life’ said my mother while bowing down with gratitude.

‘These stupid boys were never a risk for me. But it’s not like I did it out of the goodness of my heart.’ She stepped forward to me and extended her palm outward. ‘I’ll take that crown, boy. Judging by your looks, I reckon you actually have it. Never thought I’d ever see a crown in my life’ she said with a haughty smile. Me and my mother exchanged looks when she asked for the crown.

‘What’s wrong? Hand it over…. Wait! Don’t tell me you don’t have it!’ She was starting to look furious.

‘I did. I promise. But the man with the sword took it from me at the last moment when you were busy fighting.’ I said, trying to calm her down.

‘WHAT!! YOU’RE TELLING ME THIS NOW?’ she shouted and ran out of the alley and on to the street while looking around in both directions. She failed to spot the robber and then marched back to us furiously. ‘I don’t care, BOY! I NEED MY CROWN AND YOU’RE GIVING IT TO ME ONE WAY OR ANOTHER!’ She came at me with her finger pointing at me. My mother put her arm in front of me to shield me from the overbearing lady.

‘We have money. A lot of money back home. We promise to pay you once we get back to our town.’ My mother laid out the offer.

‘Okay, I’m listening.’ said the scary lady.

‘We’re on our way to Braumchester. It’s a small town on….’

‘Yeah, I know where Braumchester is’ she interrupted my mother.

‘Well, we’ve been travelling to that place to meet a friend of ours. Once we meet him, we’ll head back to our hometown and recompense you’ said my mother.

‘And what’s your hometown, if I might ask?’ she asked us. I remembered Mr.Smith telling us to keep our names but if someone were to ask, we had to tell them that we were from Kirkpod. He had mentioned this to my mother earlier too so I kept hoping that she remembered the instructions.

‘We’re from Kirkpod’ she said. I sighed with relief. ‘We’ve been travelling for two days straight so we stopped here to rest up but were attacked right when we got here. We lost both our horses too.’


‘Hey!’ said the woman angrily. ‘What kind of a fool do you take me for?’ She was even scarier than those thugs right now.

‘What!’ exclaimed my mother, not understanding what the issue was.

This is Kirkpod you wench!’ she struck her foot down angrily.


Me and my mother looked at each other trying to fathom the horror of the situation we were in.


Click here for the next Chapter

Author’s Notes

Welp, there you go. Some proper action even if it was short lived. This is still the prologue so one can only hope for a mere tease. I do have a lot of action in store later on in the story. Writing action is not that difficult when you have some basic experience in martial arts and have read/watched tonnes of fiction. Reading action is harder than writing it. It’s not easy to see what the writer sees even if it is described in detail which is why action is best suited for animation.

Till now Edward and Mirriam were walking treasure chests because they were carrying way too much money. A full bag of gold (around 50-75) is a ridiculous amount of money for a single person to carry. When being transported, people make sure that it is accompanied by at least 4 armed guards. The economics of Vereen is very different from that of the regular world but our protagonists don’t know this.