Training continued as Phanto continued to practice with his rapier set, wood clashing with the straw figure and steel striking against steel of the hardened veterans as he paced himself. Furin, the brigand, started as well to train with his new tome, going through the various spells and summons that came with the conjurer powers that were awakening bit by bit.
Soon, he finished up and retired back to his quarters as he started to sort through the needed measures of the base, dealing out any needed food stocks to the recruits and soldiers while also keeping a portion sealed up for later use such as the produce and herbs, the meat and baked goods only lasting so long before they become terrible. Nolrag floated off as Phanto continued into weaponry, the lack of iron and steel an issue as both are broken with careless use and senseless reasons and this dropped their stores to scary levels. "Doesn't look too good in the fighting department, that is for certain."
"Indeed, our stock has descended further than I had expected, but that DOES come from recruits wishing to be the best and shattering a number of axes, swords, lances, daggers, knives, and bows in a short time, not from the smiths or otherwise, they are practiced and understand when a weapon needs to be reforged." The skull floated about as he continued, ultimately pulling out the tome and taking the time to read. "You know, you could just sever yourself and leave me behind for your own choices."
"And miss all the fun times that we are bound to get into, unlikely." Phanto nodded as he continued, the skull reading on as Melody entered.
"Sir, we have something that is devoted to Irene." The leader paused before he closed the book and peered at Melody with a list on hand, giving it as he inquired.
"There is an island to the far north that has seen some... unusual shipping routes and there is the possibility that a old city there may pertain to Irene." The leader hummed to himself before he thought about it more, coming to the belief that if it was connected to Irene, then the bearer may also appear there in time. Standing up and handing the list to Melody, he spoke.
"Have this given to the taskmaster and tell him that I will be away to investigate this 'claim' of Irene, if he has an issue with it, direct him STRAIGHT to me for a firm understanding."
"You are going alone?"
He shook his head as he continued. "No, you will be part of my crew as well as Yuu and Furin on this journey, have everyone rest during this leave, it is not wise to keep them training here when they have family and friends waiting for them." Melody bowed as she spoke on her way out.
"I will speak with my father about transportation, he IS inclined to aid the task for your service and... for getting the pirates to ease up somewhat." He nodded as she left before getting his gear together, time was on their side for now and they will use it well...
As the boat sailed in, Phanto readied himself for departure with his small group behind him and the gangplank came down, allowing them to step off onto the island, the covered eye and blue looking about as they moved more inland before he spoke. "Do you three feel it too?"
"Aye, boss, there be some strong energies here, like this WHOLE island is enchanted."
"As strange as that makes me think that this is foolish, I feel it too, conflicting elements here of light and shadow, the light more dominant than in Ra'aun."
"Evil... demon magic... not clean..." Phanto nodded to the input as he continued on.
"Then be careful, there may still be touches of vile magic here that could corrupt our views, stick together and let not our interests drag us down a dark path so soon." The start of a small village was underway already, but the villagers, looking like seasoned or growing warriors, paid them little mind as they continued, clearly some of them being from the village of Phoenix Drop.
Phanto need not motion for them to follow, that would give the impression that he was in charge, he needed to play the friend or ally card as they continued on down the woodland path to find this village or city that could be close by, not paying attention to anyone noticing them as they went on, the trees blocking their sight as they went further in, a lone wolf following behind in secret as they continued until they found the crumbling walls. "...An old shrine of power, one that must belong... to those who have long since passed..."
"We should begin, no telling what we will find here." Melody spoke and all agreed as they were divided up.
"Melody, take Yuu and search the southern section of the city, Furin and I will search the northern." In agreement, they moved through, the wolf watching on before taking off after Phanto and his ally.
With the silence that followed, Furin gave his own words. "So, boss, I wanted to ask about the book's content of a 'Golden Heart', is it a person or... a treasure?"
"It was a person..." He motioned for a short break from the watching and walking. "Jeffory of the Golden Heart was initially a member from a group called the 'Jury of Nine', maybe something that Zane had made to further his cause, but whatever the cause, the Jury has long since dissolved with no knowledge as to where the members have gone, the book told me enough that Zane had killed Jeffory for some form of treason and the Fire Fist Katelyn was said to be around the area of Phoenix Drop, for what reasons, I do not claim to understand." Phanto said as he pulled out the book and read through it again as he spoke, both sitting on fallen stone. "Lives were created and destroyed in the contents of this book, Zane had gone through such dangerous methods to obtain power and he may have gotten what he wanted, but it is unknown if that is true or not..." Both were silent as the air hung about them, the bird chirping in the wind as Phanto inquired, hiding the book again and pulling out his tome. "But for now, I think it is best that we talk about tomes and their abilities for now."
"Of course, sir!" Furin quickly pulled out his own and talked about it. "From what I see and understand, you made this tome to be a manifest of the forest, ancient and true as they live, die, and repeat the cycle with all living things."
"Exactly, and the first tome I had created is that of a place beyond our reaches, the Nether." He flipped through its pages as it descripted mighty beasts and souls, but nothing about Shadow Knights or their master. "My work in this is limited as this only allows me to summon forth beasts or souls into the world, not legions of nether soldiers to me, even the enchantments and spells are capable with no mention of the more powerful forms in that shadowed place."
"...Do these tomes... take souls to create?"
"Hardly, I simply create the tome to be conduits of magical powers, it is up to more magically-attuned creatures or magicks to attune these books to become tomes or spell books, the difference being that spell books are more along the lines of blasting foes or restoring allies while tomes are more for calling forth avatars to fight for you, despite any weapon or preparedness that one may have done." Furin nodded as he resumed, the wolf perching over them as it watched on with curious and daring eyes. After a while, Phanto closed his book and motioned his ally up, both heading further in as the wolf stalked them carefully to not draw attention before they arrived to something grand in the ruins.
Towering over the whole city stood a grand cathedral, far beyond the decades to repair, but that was far from Phanto's mind as he set foot inside and peered about as the other two, catching up, looked upon the mighty ruin in wonder and followed them in.
Stone filled the interior of the great structure as they looked about and headed for the rear of the great ruin, Phanto looking through the decade-old records that was in the podium as Melody and Furin caught the sight of the wolf stalking them, readied with axe and stave on hand as Yuu tried to help out Phanto before he pulled out an ancient record. 'Well then, this is quite the find, someone must have made a small record on stone for when all the paper decayed away.'
Running a hand to clear the dust and grime from the tablet, the words seemed to glow to his touch as its words were read. 'Time and time again, the Lady comes to us and we have long worshipped her as the Matron, but through the decades, we all realize that her heart was being lost, her face losing emotions and her movement became that of a soldier, give an order and follow it through to the letter.'
'We have attempted to ease her soul, but there was little to accomplish without any knowledge of what troubled her heart so only one understood and was by her side when she ultimately faded away from our world, Hyria being her name and her home lost to us that seek to breath life into the religion again.' Certainly, some of the words were up to guess, Phanto's wording and understanding gave him an excellent idea of what had occurred, over time, this place was forgotten and its residents have shattered to the wind.
"Well, that answers enough that gives me something to ponder on." Phanto settled the stone back down as he commanded. "Furin, see if there is anyone coming towards this place, we need to be away before someone reports our presence here." Furin saluted and ran toward the entrance as the wolf was starting to get antsy as the trio turned to each other, Nolrag igniting to speak as well. "Is it a possibility that in this island, there may be shrines devoted to the Divine Warriors?"
Yuu nodded as Melody spoke her piece. "I am not sure, sir, this points out that Irene was here and she once lived here for a time, but I am not sure about the others, Enki and Esmund are the more notable Warriors that I know and Shad was... banished somewhere else so it could or not be possible for there to be shrines in the land, but we need an extended period of time to ensure these claims."
The leader nodded as they headed out, pausing for a moment as he glanced back to see the wolf again, finally noticing it and some differences from regular wolves. Melody paused as well as she stood by him as they looked at it. "...It is not a normal wolf... is it?"
"No, it appears to be more of a werewolf that is stalking us, its appearance that of a youngling so we should be more careful about its pack or... parents." They moved away as the werewolf was alone in the stone ruins, approaching the entrance to find something bad, Yuu trembling back as Furin was laying on the ground, his axe held by a woman as the being started to approach the girl and raised the axe to kill when Phanto dashed in and caught the blade with his rapier set as he commanded. "Mel, get them out of here, I will deal with our uninvited guest!" She saluted as he turned back to the figure, his allies moved out of the structure and he spoke, knocking the being back. "Whatever you are, you are of malice and I will not let you plague us here, tell your master to leave the living world alone, should they invite a deathly fate." Then the being shapeshifted its form into a being from his past and his eyes glared at the being in anger. "...You were warned..." Without mercy or emotion, he dashed through the being, blades ignited on impact, killing the creature as it screamed in angst while Nolrag started capturing its soul with a response in the few seconds.
"It is not of this world, appears to be a minion of something more... vile, like there are several fixed points that were meant for this shadow."
"Anything with a hatred for Irene?"
"OH yeah, it is a given." Nolrag returned to his ally and rested under the cloak again. "It may be something wanting more power OR someone is trying to ruin a number of things here... but why, I wonder..."
Phanto was silent as he peered out to his allies, resting on the outskirts of the budding village as they collected themselves, the axe returned to Furin who was thankful as he listened and added his own. "Whatever that thing was, it caught me by surprise and stole my axe, Yuu tried to help when it changed into some woman, forcing Yuu to back down for some reason."
"Bad... terrible guardian..." Phanto need no more to understand, it drew upon Yuu's memories and who was the more terrible as he asked.
"Was she truly a vile person?"
Yuu shook her head as she spoke. "No... she was kind... but there were times... her body and face shifted... like violent werewolf..." He nodded as Yuu nestled beside Melody and the three spoke to each other as the night loomed over, the moon becoming visible as the sun disappeared.
"Do you think it IS wise for us to be here, there are forces out there that are beyond our beliefs right now, more intertwined than we had expected."
"No, and that is what puzzles me..." Phanto sighed as he loomed over the fire they had made. "Within the days of my leave, I have found many things that defy natural rules, specters and knights of the shadows, beings that use magic and power to either help or conquer, even found myself meeting this 'Hyria' once, but that is it, anything related to demons or the Nether are completely new to me and I am at a loss of what connection this 'Irene' has upon the world, the relics that are mentioned in Zane's book, and much, MUCH more are outside our knowledge." He shook his head as he continued. "No... we don't belong here, this is someone else's domain and we must not defile it anymore with our presence right now."
"So we are giving up for now?"
"Yes, I have learned more than I had expected and we have witnessed the start of a new village, the only question that would liked to be addressed is WHO is having this done, but that can wait." He motioned for rest. "Sleep for now, we head on home at the break of dawn."
"Yes sir!" They all nestled down for sleep as Nolrag breathed out a vapor that covered the area, hiding their beings from the creatures and the master that they serve, beyond the veil...