“Ladies and gentlemen, please quiet yourselves as his majesty the king will speak to you all.” The announcer sounded incredibly clear through the entire hall and the sound of voices very quickly died down. Cobal joined his parents on the stage and he saw Cyanna stand nearby. His other brother wasn’t in the capital right now, so he was not present at the celebration.
The king took a moment to look around the room before speaking. “As you are all well aware, our royal family has gone through some tough times as of late. But tonight we are here to celebrate my son, Cobal, and the journey he took at my direction. He has returned to us after he heard the news about his brother and I’m sure you all wish to hear a little bit about what he has learned.” He nodded at Cobal and took a step back. Everyone clapped as Cobal walked to the front of the small stage.
“Well then, I’m going to keep this short, since a lot of what I went through isn’t particularly interesting and some of it is simply of no relevance to any of you all. After our court summoned Mana to this world, I was tasked with accompanying her as she traveled to several places. We first journeyed south to the Ravadier shores where we met another friend of ours. Our journey then took us up to the north east where we met another one of our friends, the spirit of music, Kimi’Thania, who is present at this party.” Cobal looked around the room until he saw Kimi wave. He smiled at her. “We then journeyed further and traveled to the elven city of Milinia, hidden in the Liriath forest. There we met with Dionil, the woodland sage. Dionil trained the previous hero, Might, as well and after some consideration he decided to help Mana with her studies too. We trained with Dionil until the message about my brother reached us and then we rushed home. And now we’re here.” Cobal looked at his father, who nodded.
“My son and the hero have done me proud by returning as quickly as they have. It is unfortunate that their training had to be cut short, but I have all the faith in them that they will both continue to grow stronger and make our mighty kingdom proud.” He looked around the room and people started clapping.
“With that all out of the way, please enjoy yourselves.” The king turned around and walked off stage. Cobal followed. On his way down the stage, he passed the musicians who were quickly going to set up their instruments and start playing.
Cobal made his way back around the stage and walked up to Mana. “That went well, right?”
“Short and sweet.”
Coball smiled. “I don’t like standing on a stage talking about myself, so I figured this was best.” He looked around. “Where did Mirgia go?”
“I believe he went outside to the garden. He said it was too cramped in here.”
“That sounds like him, I’ll go find him, I have something I need to ask him about.”
“Good luck, I’m going to pretend I’m not mortified every other second when someone walks up to me,” Mana anxiously chuckled.
“You’re doing great so far, I’m proud of you.”
Cobal chuckled as he walked away to go and find his friend.
“That was a rather quick summary of a long journey,” a voice said from next to Cobal as he walked out the door. Standing with her back to the outside of the door leading to the garden was a woman that looked to be in her late twenties. Her silver hair was put up in an intricate bun with a bejeweled pin sticking out of it. Her tan skin was complimented by a dark green dress that widened out at the bottom. She turned to face him and smiled at Cobal with kind green eyes. Cobal had met this woman before, although it had been quite a while.
“Lady Vadier, what a pleasure to see you again.” Cobal smiled back and gave a polite nod.
“Please, call me Diana, we’ve known each other for a very long time after all.”
Cobal laughed. “It’s been a while since we last spoke though, we were still children back then.”
The political situation in the Ravadier peninsula had been strained for a couple of years back when Cobal was just a boy. Two different noble families seemed to have equal right to succeed the lord that passed away. There was the Ravadier family, which had long been considered the head family, but there was also the Vadier family, where a widowed Lord Vadier and his young daughter apparently had been granted the inheritance. A fight broke out and although violence was kept to a minimum, there were casualties on both sides. Lord Vadier was killed and the head of the Ravadier family was imprisoned as a consequence. Cobal’s father had then sent a temporary ruler to take over the region. Diana Vadier, who was maybe eight or nine years old at that point, was sent to the capital to prepare to take over once she turned thirteen. The next five years she spent in the palace. For the first few years she didn’t really interact much with Cobal, she was more friendly with Sapher and Cyanna. But in the last year the two warmed up to each other and became fairly close friends. Diana had then gone back to the Peninsula to take over the region from Baridas Mergelt, a noble working for the crown. After four more years, Baridas returned to the capital, having properly prepared Diana for her position. Diana had then visited the capital once more to officially claim her title in front of the royal family. After that, Cobal had never really spoken with her again. When he heard she’d be present at this particular party he hoped he could speak to her. Apparently the same was true for her.
Diana held out her arm. “Let’s walk, shall we?”
Cobal took her arm and they walked towards the garden. With the cold outside, he didn’t think there would be many people around so they could speak in relative privacy.“So, how have things been?” Cobal asked.
“You know, sitting around in a mansion, telling people what to do, the usual.”
“You don’t sound too excited about all of it.”
Diana sighed. “It’s rewarding, and it’s an important job to have, but it sure as hell isn’t particularly exciting.” She looked him in the eyes. “Meanwhile you’ve been going all around talking to all sorts of people in strange places. I’ve heard talk that you even visited Arana.”
“You know of Arana?” Cobal asked.
Diana laughed. “Do you really think I never went diving as a child?”
“I should have known. But how did you get all the way down there as a child.”
Diana paused for a moment before answering. “I almost drowned as a child but was found by one of their people. They brought me down there and after a little while they sent me back up to the surface again. My parents were so worried, but I told them I was just playing behind some rocks. I’ve been in some contact with Kiiran ever since. She told me that she met you as well.”
“I thought the Ravadier nobles lived further north than Ravadier itself?”
“We do, but when I was young we were still the branch family, so we lived in a mansion near Ravadier itself.” She stared off into the distance. The temperature was dropping rapidly so Cobal offered his jacket to her. Mana had told him that this was a kind gesture from back in her world.
“Thank you.” She exhaled loudly and watched the condensation float up into the night sky. “How was your journey then?”
“I just told everyone about it, didn’t I?” Cobal shot back.
She poked him in the side. “You know what I mean.”
He chuckled. “Well, like I said, we traveled to Ravadier. Apparently Mana had a vision of sorts about the acolytes of Aquana, which is why she wanted to head there first. We spoke with Miyara,” he paused to see if Diana seemed to recognize that name and continued when she did. “She was the one who told us about Dionil, the woodland sage. After that we traveled north, joined by Cassandra, who’s a baker’s daughter and an inventor from Ravadier. We met up with Kimi’Thania, who you might have seen walk around during the party, and then traveled to the edge of the Liriath forest.”
“Kimi’Thania is that strange spirit, right? I don’t mean that in a rude way.”
“She’s the spirit of music, yes. She’s a very talented musician, as her title implies.” He listened closely. “I think she might have joined the musicians on stage by now, I think I can vaguely hear her music.”
“I can’t hear much from this distance.” They’d walked quite a bit away from the doors to the main hall and were in a secluded part of the garden now. There really wasn’t anyone else around, Cobal hadn’t even really spotted Mirgia. He was, on the other hand, perfectly aware of the arm he was holding in his. He remembered that Diana was a bit tomboyish as a child and although that clearly never went away and she probably still trained with the sword regularly from the looks of it, she’d also clearly grown into her own as a charming woman. Still, he didn’t feel intimidated by her presence at all. On the contrary, he felt comfortable around her, as if not a day had passed since they were friends as children.
“From there on we journeyed through the forest and almost didn’t get lost several times. But we did get lost every time. Eventually we were found by one of the elven guards and escorted to their leader, Karnisal. Karnisal told us where to find Dionil and we then met up with the sage. We did get off on the wrong foot, unfortunately.” Cobal still didn’t like thinking back to his behavior back then, even though they had long left it behind.
“Oh, what happened?”
“We might have gotten into an argument about my family and I might have tried to punch him.”
“You don’t just punch the ancient woodland sage, he will whoop your ass instead.”
Diana laughed. “I’ve seen you get your ass whooped many times, so I can imagine it perfectly.”
Cobal laughed with her. “I’d like to think that I’ve gotten a bit better over the years. After we got off on the wrong foot though, we made up and became close friends. He’s a very kind and wise man, you should meet him one day. He actually might have given us a lead about the magic that made my brother disappear.” Cobal felt comfortable sharing this with Diana, she had known his brother from a young age as well, so she probably would feel at ease knowing something was in motion.
“Oh, anything particularly useful?”
“Well, that’s a stretch, but he told us of an old friend who might have interacted with similar magic in the past. This friend of his might be hard to track down, but that’s probably what we’re going to do next. I still need to talk with my father about this plan, but I doubt he’ll be too happy that I’m going off on a journey again.”
“Well, if it helps you find your brother then I suppose he might look upon it favorably.” She smiled and grabbed his hand. “Either way, I’m happy I got to see you again after such a long time. I’m sure it’ll be a while before we meet again, especially if you’re going to find some strange person.” She laughed. “Unless that person happens to be in Ravadier.”
“Unfortunately we’re going in quite the opposite direction. The coast to the north is apparently our best bet.”
They’d reached the door leading back into the hall again. Cobal could clearly hear that Kimi was at the center of the music on the stage. “Once I’m back from this next journey I think I’ll come and visit you in the Ravadier Peninsula. After all, another friend of ours lives nearby.”
“What was this friend called again?” Diana asked.
“Cassandra, she’s the baker’s daughter.”
“I don’t believe I know of them, but it’s always good to know about your subjects.” She smiled and let go of his hand. “Well then, I have rounds to do, so if you’ll excuse me.”
Cobal nodded and watched as she walked back into the hall, quickly getting swarmed by other nobles.
“You seem like you’re having a good time,” a voice appeared behind him.
Cobal almost jumped in place. “Don’t creep up on me like that Mirgia, you scared the crap out of me.”
Mirgia laughed. “I figured I’d give you some time before talking to you.”
“I appreciate that.”
“I have some more information we need to talk about.”
“One of the nobles that I talked to mentioned being raided by pirates recently, I think that might be a good starting point to find our Captain Tidescreecher.”