The pair descended swiftly to the ground floor and rushed out onto the courtyard leading to the castle. Ilmatar walked on air, his lofty build hardly matched his glidy nature, while Aden’s robes swayed wildly from side to side with the wind. Ilmatar, however was wearing tight blue hose pants and a flamboyantly white puffy sleeved shirt, with puffy blue shorts. On either side of Ilmatar’s shirt, a blue stripe outlined the border of the Erion crest. The symbol on the crest was a hollow, dark blue hawk with its wings spread out ready to take flight. These majestic birds were herded by the Erionians and were used in delivering messages across kingdoms.
The sun was now hiding in the clouds; a shadow began eating away at the fiery city, these were the first signs in the coming of a storm. The wind blue harder and the frightened Apiritians could be seen scuttling into their homes. Aden was not afraid, but was displeased by the turn of events and he tried to focus on his mission, which was currently to depart from the city with haste. Ilmatar did not find it difficult to keep up with the fast paced Aden, the wind helped his stride and he sometimes had to slow down so as not to overtake the young prince. They reached the castle gates within a matter of minutes, but instead of going through them Aden led them up some hidden stairs and passages that led to his towered room. The room was really not what we would imagine to be towered, a mere 6 meters above the ground, it was high enough for any Apiritian to consider too tall. The Apiritians were a strange folk, in the sense that they were tall by nature but afraid of high places. Aden was tall, climbing places and seeing wondrous views was a habit of his; in fact he always wanted to see beyond what everyone else saw.
“I need to get my dampening cloak, if I don’t then I will be like a beacon and I really don’t want to make it easy for my father to find me.” Aden was frantically throwing everything around the room, packing his small backpack with a few important items. At the same time Edan was climbing up the tight spiral staircase leading to the prince’s bedroom. The stairs were never ending, seeing as he was returning from the lowest point of the castle, the dungeon. He was worried about his prince, due to his absence, and at the same time glad that the monk teachers had not checked up on him. Nearing to the hidden door, Edan heard a commotion emanating through the walls. He ran up as fast as his legs could take him, tripping ever so slightly along the way.
Edan screamed after having pushed the door wide open, only to reveal his long awaited prince in the middle of the room with a strange figure hovering over a bag, “Sire, you have returned!” With an exasperated pause and much observation at the goods being inserted into the bag, he continued, “What in the world are you doing Sire? Have you gone completely mad?” Aden stopped and looked directly into Edan’s eyes, he was shocked at the way Edan was talking to him, but understood that it was probably out of frustration. He knew he had not been open enough to Edan with his thoughts and it seemed that his behaviour was starting to rub off on the poor servant boy.
“Edan, don’t question me! I hate it when people question me. You, of all people should know that!”
“Sire, I am sorry. You have been acting strangely for days now, it is as if you have been possessed. You are even permitting strangers to enter your chamber, what in the hell is going on? Should I call on your father?”
“Edan, stop it! You are starting to aggravate me, simply be still a moment while I pack. I will be gone before you know it.”
Edan walked toward Ilmatar with long strides and was ready to lash out at him, out of sheer anger, something so uncommon in an Apiritian. “What have you done to my prince? Have you no shame? You are a disgrace to your kingdom, you sorcering swine!” Edan tried to hit the man, only to find his arm had been blocked by Aden’s grip of it.
“Can you please calm down Edan? I am fine! This man did nothing to me and is a mere reminder that the time has come for me to embark on my long awaited adventure.” Aden was firm with his words and did not wish to argue any further his decision.
“Sire, I cannot permit you to leave the castle gates, we have lava flowing around the kingdom for a reason. There are beasts out there you don’t know of, there are also things that tribesmen are not meant to see. What of your father? Have you thought about his reaction to all of this? Why do you wish to leave me Sire, have I not served you well? I have yet again failed to protect you from the harm of foreigners; I knew exploring as you do would finally be the turning point. Forgive me, for having let you down, but I won’t do it again. I won’t let you go!” Edan had tears in his eyes, the thought of Aden leaving him was unbearable and had come so unexpectedly that he was not prepared to have to convince the prince otherwise. Aden didn’t want to look at Edan, he knew it would hurt too much for him to see into his mind or his tearful eyes. “Listen to me carefully please! Edan, everyone in life has his own calling. You, have to remain and tend to my father, he will need a son when I am away! He will be broken at the loss of me, probably because he valued to change me so much that this will be like his main failure in life. Mother is already gone and he has secluded himself from my sisters, because they remind him of her. I need you to just give him hope of my return, I promise you that I will return! This man is skilled in travel and will guide me to where I need to go, our destinies are jointed. Do you understand what I am trying to tell you at all? You need to be strong; you are not that weak man that you always show the world.” Edan remained stationary, he couldn’t even bring himself to nod.
Ilmatar grabbed Aden’s backpack and they scurried off into the night, leaving Edan secluded in the bedroom. Edan knew that when his princes’ eyes blazed with light, like they had done this very night, there was nothing that he could say to sway his master’s determination. Ilmatar and Aden managed to pass the guards at the gates by remaining in the shadows. The guards were not on full alert as they were more focused on the coming storm and getting all the people of the kingdom inside the castle gates. After scurrying off into the barren lands beyond the wall, Aden looked back to the banging sounds behind. The gate doors were lifted up and with that they were closed off from the kingdom of Apirite, Aden knew in his heart that there was no turning back.
Many a mile later, Aden looked back once again through the thick forest and thinking for a brief second this was all a mistake. He could not see far into the distance, nor were they worried that someone was following them as they had made no tracks to show their passing. His long robe had covered his footprints and Ilmatar never laid foot on the ground, it was almost as if they had never existed, like wandering ghosts in the dark.
The world was so dark beyond the walls of his kingdom; no blue glow existed apart from their own, which flickered like a candle light in a pit. It had been raining for a long while and they were unable to light a torch, they moved with the aid of the lightning that seemed to befall the earth endlessly. When they finally arrived at the valley of the fallen, where many valiant Apiritians had died before the establishment of Entirisia and the monastery of the founding fathers, they stopped to assess their next move.
In that moment Aden thought of the world as it once had been, tormented by jealousy and the instinct of survival, and sighed. Every tribe fought to acquire one more element under their power, to be mightier and above all other tribes. This history was no longer taught to the new generations, Aden only knew of the history due to his inquisitive nature and SoverI stature. He had spent his early suncycles breaking into the secret vaults of the library and often imagined how much more knowledge he would be able to acquire if he broke into the vaults of the great city of Kirjuri. The city of Kirjuri was home to the scribes, they lived many mountains away from Apirite and Aden had promised himself that he would travel the entire world and marvel at all its wonders, including the grand library of Kirjuri.
The valley was ominous and looked like a great, green, open eye that was ready to be filled with a large tear. “We need to hurry Ilmatar, my father would have noticed by now that I am absent and knowing his fury, he would have sent scouts to find me.” Aden was certain that his father would not be accepting of the decision he had made, in leaving the castle, and would do anything and everything to get his only son back.
“Sire, the valley is not wide and beyond it we will find the steam marshes. Eiditic travellers consider this the most dangerous of all trails, but unfortunately for us your kingdom is surrounded by them and where there are no marshes there is lava flow instead. We have no choice but to cross through them slowly. The geysers and steam pockets will hide us from lurking eyes anyway, let’s hurry. Run as fast as your legs can take you Aden, because this is the only downhill you going to get for miles!” Aden nodded in agreement and they laughed all the way down the slopes while sprinted as fast as they could.
Back at the Apiritian kingdom, Aris awaited his son for supper. After the delicious entrées, no food could keep his growing impatiens at bay and he demanded the servants to look for the lad. Edan, too afraid to move from Aden’s room, remained huddled on the bed and as the bedroom door was forcefully pushed open, he sprang up and looked as guilty as any criminal. There, at the entrance of the door stood his first jury. “Boy, what are you doing in here without your prince? He is late for supper and the king demands his presence!”
Not giving Edan a chance to respond he added, “Go fetch the prince immediately! Why are you just standing there?” Edan responded unorthodoxly by shouting out, “I can’t now can I? He has run off with the Looftsman, he reprimanded me and ordered me to stay in the castle. I tried to stop him, but he would not listen to reason and it is as if he is,” Edan took a deep breathe after his blast-full speech and added,”possessed by the air. Why are you starring at me like this? What do you want me to do, conjure him up? ”Edan raised his hand as if it was a magic wand and unable to be ironic, began crying.
The messenger in a whisper said, “Please stop crying, or you will be finished. You need to come with me immediately, we have to tell the king or else we will land up in that place we know not where it is!” The messenger pulled Edan along with determination to clean this mess up. Edan and the messengers appeared before the king not very many minutes later unable to express this tragic news.
“Where is my son, did I not send you to get my son? Are you trying to make a mockery out of me lad? This is not my son!” The king was already furious, this enhanced by his hunger, and there was no better or worse time to tell him the truth and fast. Edan, unable to contain the secret much longer from his Lordship said, “My lord, your son has disobeyed you, disregarded my advice and has run off with a Looftsman. He and his companion left the kingdom about an hour ago and I was ordered to remain in your service.”
“Excuse me! Are you out of your mind? By the spirit, why are you lying to me?” proclaimed the king. The messenger replied this time, “Lord Aris, the boy speaks the truth. No one has seen the prince for ages, the last time anyone can remember seeing him he was going towards the Blueburn Inn. Thought has spread that he left there with a Looftsman and I found this boy alone in the princes’ chamber.”
“Why, why has he done this to me? Have I not provided enough for him?” the king was very disheartened and the only explanation that he wanted to believe right now was that Aden had been kidnapped by the Looftsman. Edan fell to his knees and pleaded, “Lord, you have provided me with shelter, food and good job. I love your son as my own brother; he has changed these past few months into a man I do not recognize. However, I would like to help you find him.” This was the first time Edan had been courageous, the past hour in the princes’ bedroom he had been contemplating that he would follow the prince to the end of the world if he had to. So strong had his determination been, that he had forgotten his fears of the external world and the unknowns that awaited him. He clearly did not anticipate a dangerous path ahead, especially with his mighty lordship next to him.
The king starred at the boy, he saw his mind was pure and believed his courageous intentions. The king came to an immediate decision, sent a message to the scout leader and hound keeper, “Prepare the fiery dogs and all trackers. We are to find my son beyond the castle gates tonight!” The king hinted for Edan to stand up and said,” It has begun Edan, go prepare. Antonious, is not to know any of this so please ensure that my absence is discreet. All others, beyond us three should also not find out about Aden! I do not want anyone to know of my son’s disobedience, because we will be the mockery of the entire kingdom. Before the night is over, I want Aden back in the castle and everyone who knows of his absence is to come with me, including you Edan, the more people we have the faster we will find him.” The king didn’t know that this was a foolish statement, he would raise more suspicion by taking more officers away from the castle and that Aden would run if he felt their looming presence.
The king departed with Edan and his men by his side that night, expecting to find Aden promptly. All the men taking part in the search were advised that the king’s son was kidnapped and that it was of royal importance that he be found immediately. There were no suspicions that anything else had occurred as all trusted the king with their lives.
Ilmatar could hear the wind and what it told him scared him enough that the hairs at the back of his neck were raised, just like a dog’s when smelling danger in the air. Once he had contained himself, he turned to Aden and showed him of what he knew, “Your father and his men have left the castle gates and he has begun searching for you. It won’t take him long to find you, unless we hurry into the marshes. We have just but 2 kilometres”
With the blood pumping faster in their bodies, the two young men hurried, knowing that their mission depended on it.