“One hundred and seven years have passed since the previous hero was first summoned to this world.” Miyara began her story. She’d sat down next to Cobal, opposite of Mana as well. All of them now had tea and a plate with some fruitcake on it. “Lord Might, as he was dubbed by the kingdom, was the second time someone was summoned through the realm gate. The first time this ritual was done was so long ago that there are barely any records from that time. We don’t know who did the summoning, who was summoned or what happened. All we know is that someone attempted the ritual, succeeded, and then wrote down the way to do it. That book, with the ritual knowledge, was stored deep in the temple to Owlana, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. It was recovered about a hundred years and a bit ago, when a young Blueyerd king had his men comb through the library for any useful magic that would help them against the feral invasion. That eventually led them to discover a path to this hidden temple. Although they were successful, it has since been lost again.”
She paused and looked at Cobal. “Young prince, how much have you been taught about the feral invasion?”
Cobal learned about this when he was young. “The feral invasion was a terrible incident in which a primal tribe used ancient magic to embed evil spirits in the animals living in the forest, causing them to swell and grow in power. As a result, they grew more hungry and started ravaging the kingdoms on the outskirts of the continent. Since the kingdom of Blueyerd was still young back then, and they already struggled keeping their neighbors from encroaching on their land, they grew quite desperate. As a result they ended up summoning the hero, Lord Might, into this world, who gathered a party of strong people from around the continent and put an end to the feral invasion.” He paused. “Then after the hero was done, he vanished, never to be seen again.”
Miyara nodded. “That’s more or less what I expected you to know.” She looked at Mana. “Now, I’m sure you’re well aware that recently there have been sightings of new feral beasts infused with dark magics. Whether the hero failed in completely eradicating the tribe that caused the feral incident, or someone else got hold of the magic that they used, we don’t know. What I do know, and have known for a very long time, is that this was going to happen. I also knew it was going to be the catalyst to summon another hero. And I also know that the hero would be the only one capable of saving Blueyerd, the continent of Palaria and perhaps even the entire world.” She looked from Mana to Cobal and back to Mana, waiting to see their reactions.
“So you can predict the future?” Cobal asked. He’d heard of people claiming such powers before, but often they were unable to prove it, nor were they able to predict anything of importance.
Miyara shook her head. “I’ve had one vision in my entire life. Besides that I don’t have any abilities to predict the future. This came to me in a dream when I was just a child.” She chuckled. “As you can see I’m far from a young child anymore.”
“Is there anything else important that we need to know about? What exactly did you see?” Cobal asked. He wondered why his family was never informed of this vision.
Miyara thought for a little bit. “I know that something bad is going to happen, but I know nothing about what this might be. I also know that a hero will be needed to deal with whatever is going to happen. I don’t know how, when or where, but I know that the hero’s presence will be absolutely vital for the world to carry on.”
“So no pressure,” Mana said grimly.
Miyara nodded. “No pressure.”
She motioned one of the two servers to come over and the young man came towards them.
“Get me the small chest that’s under my bed please, Jonathan.”
The man nodded and quickly went upstairs to receive it. “Now, my recommendation for you, Lady Mana, is to go find the hermit sage Dionil. He is the one who taught the previous hero many things. Perhaps he’s willing to be your teacher as well.”
Mana nodded. “I am extremely grateful for the information you’re giving me. I’ve been wandering without direction so far and it’s really not helped my anxiety. I’ve had many sleepless nights since I came here.”
This might be the first time that Cobal had seen Mana be so open and honest about her health. They’d talked about it a little bit but she’d always been hesitant to share much. Her being so open to someone she just met was kind of strange to him and it made him feel a little bit annoyed.
“I have tea for that,” Miyara said, grinning. She got up from her chair. “Let me get you some of the leaves.”
By the time Miyara came back with a satchel filled with tea leaves, Jonathan had returned with the box she mentioned before. Miyara sat back down and opened the box, before rummaging through it for a little while until she found what she was looking for. “Ah, there it is.” She closed the box again, holding a small necklace. “This should be very helpful on your journey.”
Mana carefully took it from the old lady. “Thank you, what is this exactly?”
“It’s a magical item. As I’m sure your companion will tell you, there are many of these kinds of objects in our world. Might explained to me a long time ago that magic doesn’t exist in your realm.” She seemed to think to herself for a moment. “I don’t actually know if you’re from the same realm as he is.”
“We call our planet Earth, does that sound familiar?”
She thought for a while longer. “He spoke of a place called Asia, but I don’t believe I’ve heard the term Earth.”
“That’s my world, Asia is one of the continents. I’m from a different continent though.”
“How wonderful, so you’re both from the same place, yet far removed from each other at the same time. But I digress. This amulet will protect you against all sorts of magic. For example.” She fell quiet, then got up and walked over to Mana and whispered something in her ear.
Mana’s face seemed to tense up, but she nodded. “That should be very useful, thank you so much.”
“Don’t mention it, consider it a gift from the previous hero, he just isn’t here to give it to you in person.” She sat back down and also handed over the satchel with tea leaves.
“Where do we find this Dionil?” Cobal asked. There was something about this conversation and atmosphere that made him uncomfortable. He somehow felt like he was an outsider, shunned by everyone around. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling at all. He wondered if he did something wrong but he was hesitant to bring it up since he didn’t want to seem impolite either. There was just something off about this situation that he wasn’t used to at all. But he shrugged it off when Miyara responded.
“Dionil lives in the northeastern part of Blueyerd, at the heart of the Liriath Forest. That’s where he last presided at least. I don’t know if he’s moved since then, it’s been a while.”
“Are you sure he’s even still alive? I mean no disrespect, but if he’s been around as long as you, he must be about a hundred years old.” Mana said.
Miyara laughed. “Oh, sweet child, Dionil is of elven descent, he can live for several hundreds of years. I may be old and brittle by now, but he should still be young and spry.” She chuckled. “Maybe that’s exaggerating a little bit, but he’s definitely not going to look as old as I do.”
Cobal saw a hint of excitement at the mention of elves in Mana’s eyes.
“Does your world have elves as well?” He asked her.
She shook her head. “It’s strange though, we do have stories about elves and dwarves and kobolds and goblins and orcs and giants, but we don’t have any of them living in our world.”
Cobal thought about this for a while. “Maybe they’ve just hidden away?”
“It’s possible, but I very much doubt that. We have developed technology that lets us travel the entire world in days, and we’ve explored pretty much everything back and forth. But it is fun to hope, I suppose.”
Miyara nodded. “Even Might said that he was doubtful any elves lived in his world.”
Changing the subject, Cobal asked: “And how do we get back to the surface? Do we just swim up?”
“There’s a spot near the back of the village where a cavern leads towards a stream that helps you swim up faster. It’ll still take some effort, but you both managed to swim down here, so swimming up should be no problem. It ends a little bit away from shore though, so you’ll have to swim back yourselves.” She got up. “Now, there’s some tension between Blueyerd and our people that I’m not the right person for solving, but if you do ever find yourselves in this part of the world again, don’t hesitate to visit again.”
Mana and Cobal both nodded. “Thank you so much for your help.” They got up, collected their things and were about to leave.
“Let me help you to the exit,’ Jonathan said from behind them.
They followed him through the town until they reached a cavern in the back. A singular guard was keeping watch over it, but they were allowed through.
“It’s a shame we can’t stay longer,’ Cobal said to Mana, “I would have loved to learn more about this place.”
Mana nodded. “Maybe in the future.” They thanked Jonathan for bringing them to the exit, then walked through the dimly lit cave. It ended in a strange waterfall that they had to swim through, until they reached a point where the water flowed outwards and upwards. Within maybe thirty seconds of swimming they reached the surface of the water, where the sun had almost vanished. Luckily for them, the ship captain and Cassandra were still looking for them. They motioned them over when they spotted them and quickly went on board the small boat.
“What the hell happened to you two, you were down there for ages!” Cassandra said.
“A lot happened, but we learned some important things.” He looked at the captain. “Now please get us to shore, I’m absolutely freezing.”
“Very well.” The captain nodded and started maneuvering the ship back towards the small pier. When they got there it was already very dark. Leaving the pier behind they could just hear the captain mutter, “strange royal folk.”
“Why don’t you stay in our house tonight,” Mana offered Cassandra. “It’s a lot closer to here and then you can go home in the morning.
Cassandra thought about it for a little while before agreeing. “Only if you tell me what you guys did down there. I’m extremely curious by now. I mean, you were on the bottom of the sea. What even is down there? How did you not drown? Did the strange device you made work as intended? I have so many questions.”
Cobal nodded. “In the morning though, it’s been a long day.” They made their way back to the house and after setting up some pillows for Cassandra to sleep on they all quickly found sleep, tired from the long day.