Fate uses the unexpected meeting of two children to spark a wave of change upon the land.
|NOTE: This is the start of a rewrite of an already existing series I have.|
- Age Ten – Urie Loeth -
—It's tomorrow. Tomorrow. Finally, it's tomorrow!
Urie Loeth, third son of the Loeth House couldn't wait. A cold feeling wrapped the tips of his fingers as he dragged them along the water's surface. His head rested on his left arm, and a giddy smile could be seen peeking from his sleeve.
“Good day, little commander! Out for a stroll are we? You excited for tomorrow?” a passerby called out to him.
Kneeling comfortably in front of the fountain, he replied with a silence gesture, “Shh! I snuck out.”
The passerby glanced at his clothing. A loose dark suit that was very catching to the eye during daylight. The man hunched down and whispered with a smile, “I see. Then I'll not bother you any longer. Look forward to tomorrow's Harvest Festival, little commander!”
The man took leave with those words and he stood up to do the same. He clenched his right hand in front of him, and before taking a step outside of the city square, he glanced back at Erden's Tower.
—The Harvest Festival... I'll finally be able to use magic! Although...
“Will I be able to use magic..?” Urie's smile fell down briefly as he whispered in near inaudible tone. A sliver of anxiety creeping at the back of his head had caused him to utter such words.
“Mother, how is it that father and older brothers all got chosen by Undine?” —a question he had once asked his beloved mother.
“Ah—Because they're all handsome!” she answered quickly with two thumbs held upwards.
“Then, do you think she would choose me on the day of the Harvest Festival?”
His mother winced at his follow-up. Urie noticed the look of pained hesitation on her face and thought —why couldn't she give an immediate answer?
No no, it wasn't that he was unattractive. He knew full well that he had taken after the beauty of his mother. It was something else. He had tried to inquire further but his mother kept brushing the topic off so instead, he shifted the inquiry to his second older brother.
“Big brother, how is it that father, you, and eldest brother were all chosen by Undine?”
“Because—Ah! We all didn't cry when we were born!” his brother answered with a fluster.
Urie sighed. Was that the case? He recalled his mother once vaguely telling him a story of how happy she was that he had cried loudly when he was born. Was that really the case?
Did the greater spirit, Undine, prefer children who didn't cry?
—Nevermind. I shouldn't think about this now.
The day of the Harvest Festival was tomorrow and Urie had already built up so much excitement. He buried his anxiety, dashed through the busy streets without care, and allowed his feet to take charge of his destination.
With his clear, icy blue, he took in the view of the festivities' preparations, intrigued at how it all came together before the actual event. People left and right would spot him running by— an eager-looking young boy with ashen-grey hair, a tuft of it curiously pointing upwards.
Other than Urie's hair, people would also look with familiarity at his unusual clothing. It was what he wore whenever he snuck out of the house. Or rather, his mother had tricked him into wearing it so that the maid secretly following behind wouldn't lose sight of him.
Running haphazardly through the streets, although he carefully evaded adults, he still found his rear on the ground after colliding with a person at his level.
“Ya! You! Watch where you're going—ya!”
“Wah—“ Urie gasped.
She had a bob-cut and black hair. He was surprised since while he had stumbled, the girl still stood sturdily. He met with the glare of her chestnut-amber eyes right before she disappeared back into the crowd.
“I didn't get to apologize...” Urie stood and shrugged the dust off his pants. Right. He also had to watch out for other children. Surely he wasn't the only rambunctious child running about the day before the festival.
While looking around, he had come across a stall showcasing a few wooden statuettes. One in particular, the carving of a ferocious winged beast, had caused his eyes to glimmer and had drawn him over.
“Oh, little commander! You interested in a few wooden carvings?”
“I'm curious! What sort of magic creature is this, shopkeep? A mana beast?”
The carving was an imitation of an actual statue, one that currently stood at the middle of the square's fountain where he had rested earlier.
“Ho ho. Little commander, that's no mana beast. And as for what type of creature, I have no idea.”
A dark shade wiped the glimmer from his eyes after hearing the shopkeep's answer. He had already asked a number of people about the statue, but none seemed to possess the knowledge of what it was. Urie eagerly wanted to know what it was. He felt it—
—An itch I have to scratch! Will father know what it is? I never had the chance to ask him.
The longer it evaded his curiosity, the stronger the itch became.
“How about these other carvings, little commander? Are they to your fancy?”
Urie panned to the shopkeep's other wares, “The spirits?” he asked with one brow raised.
“Not just any! This is a carving of the spirit in charge of this year's festival!” the shopkeep spoke with exaggeration.
“Undine?” Urie inspected the statuette more closely.
Very few had ever seen the greater spirits up close so few only knew of their appearance. The depiction on the carving that the shopkeep had shown him, it appeared too...
The actual product didn't line up with the shopkeep's enthusiasm. There were too few details on the carving that it appeared more like a small mannequin for clothing shops rather than a grandiose sculpture of an elemental spirit.
“I'll come back with mother some other time! Thank you, shopkeep!” Urie passed on the carvings and gave his farewell. He then continued to survey the other festival preparations.
After he had gone, a winded young lady wearing a black dress, white apron, and a hairband approached the shopkeep's stall.
“Good day, little commander's shadow! Working hard eh?”
“Good day to you too, sir,” she returned the greeting and took out her purse, “Has the young master taken note of anything in the shop?” she asked.
“Well—“ the shopkeep seeing that the maid was already carrying a few bags decided to give her some advice, “When you say it like that, young miss, it'd be pretty easy to take advantage of you, y'know?”
… An hour later, at the front door of the Loeth residence, Urie Loeth met up with a very exhausted maid.
“Ah! Patty, you look tired. Where've you been?”
Looking at the various bags that Patty, the maid, was carrying— she must've gone shopping for groceries, Urie thought. He helped her with some of the paper bags and brought them into the house. When he'd taken a look inside the bags, he was amazed that almost half of what they contained were stuff he had looked on with interest during his stroll.
In the evening, he had dinner with his mother and fell sound asleep shortly after. The moon drew its arc slowly above the house while beckoning dawn's arrival. And when the morning finally shone, Urie Loeth woke up from his slumber in a very exhilarated mood.
“Today! Today's the day!” he loudly announced from his bed.
Today was the day for children ten years of age to awaken to magic.
The day of Daerin's Harvest Festival.
Daerin, a large city built beside two prominent mountains surrounded by a lake. A vast expanse of farmland stretched out past its northern borders, reaching the foot of a massive stone wall which encircled everything. The mountains, the lake, the farmland, all but the southern half of Daerin was covered by the walls.
At the southern half, erected right in the middle of the gap between the eastern and western sides of the wall, was a mysterious structure reaching high up into the clouds. Past the structure was nothing. Nothing but a sheer cliff dropping down a great distance and extending endlessly into white mist.
Peeking down from the top of the massive wall to the east, sunlight reached out to the part of the city where the people were currently congregating. At the main road, a wide strip of stony pavement stretching from one end of the city to another— colorful flags, lanterns, and music decorated the surroundings.
The city was in a festive mood. After all, today was the Harvest Festival.
"Today's the day!" Urie announced from his bed.
A boy with ashen grey hair and blue eyes ran along the corridors of the large mansion. A bit of drool hung from his charming face as he hastened to the dining room.
"Good morning mother!” he shouted with excitement, ”Today's finally the day I get to use magic!"
Still wearing his sleepwear, Urie entered the dining room. A woman wearing a simple gown was at the table casually drinking tea. If he had been born a girl with blonde hair, he would have grown up a spitting image of the beautiful lady.
"Ah! Urie, dear! You're making trouble for those two again. Go back and get dressed before you have breakfast." gesturing to the two maids behind him, the woman scolded with a gentle voice. Her name was Rivelle Vinney, the wife of the head of the Loeth House and the mother of Urie.
Urie saluted in a joking manner and did an immediate about-face. He ran back towards his room with one of the two maids following after him. A few minutes later, he came back and sat down next to his mother with a smile.
"Mother, today's the Harvest Festival! Will father and my older brothers come back to celebrate?" he started picking up food from the table to put on his plate while he spoke.
"Good morning Urie, dear. " Rivelle gently flicked him on the head and spoke with an affectionate tone, "Your father won't be able to come, unfortunately, but both of your brothers did write that they would return today."
“Father isn't coming home?“ he whispered.
He often visited when Urie's older brothers were still here. He had also been here for both of their Harvest Festival ceremonies. Urie was disappointed. It had been a while since he last saw his father. The most recent was right before his brothers left with him to go to the northern wall.
—I'll see father again. Once I can use magic, I will also help out at the wall!
Though once he started these thoughts, he soon diminished them. Even if he could use magic, he still had to attend a few years at the academy. His mother wouldn't let him run off to the wall that easily.
—At least older brothers would be returning today.
Urie looked forward to their return and directed a smile to his mother, "What time would they be back mother? Will they be here to attend?"
Rivelle replied, "I'm not sure. If they don't make it, then I hope they at least get here in time for dinner.”
His mother knew something complicated was going through his mind so she placed her hand on top of his shoulder and reassured him, "Don't worry, Urie dear, mother is enough to cheer you on! Patty and Ersha over there will also help me."
Rivelle gestured to the two maids at the side, both showing forced smiles in response.
“Alright, mother." Urie replied, sounding a little bit happier.
He began stuffing his face with food while asking his mother some questions about the festival. A little while later, they finished breakfast and began preparing to go out for the event.
Urie had returned to his room and was examining himself in the mirror. He poked at his bare chest and remembered the answers he was given over breakfast to sate his curiosity. He slowly closed his eyes and focused his attention.
On his chest, he could see— not with his closed eyes but through careful visualization of his consciousness, an incredibly small, rounded ball of light. It was a seed, not that of a plant's, but a seed made up of what they called mana.
Rivelle, his mother, had a slip of the tongue and said that it was usually colored white, and that it would only change into a different color after forming its roots. The small seed within Urie's chest, however, wasn't white.
—Red? It's like a ball of fire... Father... Mother... Do they know?
Urie felt himself building up anxiety again.
Hurriedly putting on the clothes set out on his bed, Urie sorted his appearance. He added a strained smile to his face when he saw in the mirror the fancy-looking attire that one of the maids had prepared for him. Looking at it somehow lessened his concerns.
“Wah... Patty really likes it when she has the chance to dress me up.”
Patty was one of the maids attending to them at breakfast. She and the other maid, Ersha, were already in the service of the Loeth house when Urie was born.
Patty's taste was clearly defined from the design of the clothes she had picked out for him. A bright, ornate red coat and a white shirt. Although it was a bit eye-catching, he didn't mind.
Urie left his room and went downstairs. He took a peek at the lounge room, where he saw his mother and the two maids enthusiastically decorating a large piece of cloth.
“Urie, dear?” his mother called out, “Come help us tie this up before we leave for the parade.”
—The cloth? I wonder what it's for.
Urie walked over and saw the large fabric rolled halfway through.
—Will they bring this along? Wouldn't it be a hassle to carry this thing around during the parade?
Well, it didn't matter. They had a reservation for the second floor of one of the teahouses beside the main road. It had the perfect view for spectating the parade. Urie thought that they would just leave the rolled-up cloth there.
“One, Two, Hupp—!” After securing the knots, the two maids lifted up the cloth with each of them at one end of the roll. The roll was raised higher on one side and lower on the other. It looked like Ersha, the maid in front, was carrying the whole thing while Patty, the maid behind, served only to support her.
“Well then, off we go!” Rivelle declared, as she led the way out of the house and into a carriage waiting for them by the street.
They went on their way to the entrance of Daerin where the parade was set to start. On the way there, Urie looked outside of the carriage windows with anticipation on his face.
People were bustling with activity across the streets. Some had set up stalls while others were looking for good spots to watch the parade. At the sidewalks, there were children dressed in white heading for the same direction as their carriage.
“Ah... There sure are a lot of people, mother.” Urie said.
“Don't be nervous, Urie dear. You'll be with the other children so stand tall and make sure I can see you, alright?” Rivelle answered and came closer to his seat to ruffled his hair.
“Yes, thank you mother. Although, I don't think you have to worry about not seeing me.” Urie unfolded his arms and presented himself to his mother.
She rubbed her chin while carefully scrutinizing his outfit, “Good job!” she said, and flashed a thumbs up towards Patty. The maid grinned and returned the gesture with both of her hands. Their laughter began to fill the carriage as it made its way through the crowded streets.
A few minutes later, they arrived at the city gates.
“Urie, dear, we'll see you later.” Rivelle bid Urie goodbye.
“Wave to our usual spot, alright?” She got back on the carriage with the two maids and left for their teahouse reservation.
Urie was left at the gate where children were getting ready for the parade. The officials handling the event approached and ushered him towards a position near the center of the gathering.
—I'm finally going to take part in the parade!
Urie had only ever enjoyed watching the spectacle from the sidelines, but now he was going to march alongside it. All of the children that had turned ten years old before the day of the festival were eligible to attend. At the end of the parade was a ceremony conducted every year to awaken the mana seed within them.
Urie became giddy at the thought of being able to use magic.
He couldn't help but flash a smile towards all of the other children while looking around. After a few minutes, however, a certain detail caused his ears to slightly flush.
—I knew it... Maybe I should've just worn my shirt...
The other kids also had their best outfits on but except for a handful of others, most of them were wearing plain white clothing.
In the middle of a field of white tulips, a bright red rose was highly noticeable. Maybe he should've worn something else?
“...No,” Urie chuckled, “This way, mother wouldn't have to strain her eyes looking for me— Hmm?”
At the side, he noticed a girl wearing a dress of pastel yellow. She had the likeness of a vivid sunflower which, instead of facing the sun, she was looking over at him instead.
—Do I know her? I don't think I do.
Bob-cut black hair and chestnut-amber eyes— Urie turned his head from left to right, just to ascertain if he really was the one receiving her attention. Sure enough, the girl's eyes didn't move from his position.
He had only ever played with his brothers and the maid, Patty, and was home-schooled by his mother. He never had much interaction with other children. So who was this girl that was staring him down?
—Maybe she's just glad she's not the only one wearing something that's not white?
He locked eyes with the bob-cut girl and flashed a smile in her direction, causing her to be taken by surprise. The girl hurriedly turned away from him and looked to the front of the parade.
“Oh, she must've been looking at someone else then.” Urie felt a bit embarrassed.
He also faced front as it seemed it was time for the parade to set off. With the rhythm of beating drums, and the melody of various instruments— from the entrance of Daerin to the square at the foot of Erden's Tower, their march had begun.
Urie could see the ornate banners and decorations lined up on buildings beside the road. Parents and bystanders were at the sides, cheering in support of the children.
"Nooo!" Some of the children exclaimed. A cacophony of woes and shame.
It was beginning. One of the events that usually occurred during the Harvest Festival, one that bystanders enjoyed while having tea beside the main road.
—It's even funnier up close.
Urie smiled and chuckled while watching the other kids' reactions, but a certain prop from an hour earlier made a figurative slap on the back of his head. His enjoyment had ceased.
“Don't tell me...” he grimaced. He remembered the large roll of cloth that the maid, Ersha, was carrying. He was too excited about the festival that the thought never crossed his mind.
At the halfway point of the parade, the screams of the children still continued. Urie gulped, they were near the teahouse where his mother and the two maids had made a reservation.
“Nooo!“ He suddenly exclaimed and held onto his head. His ears flushed red enough to match the color of his coat.
Urie quickly hid his face when he saw his mother instructing the two maids, Patty and Ersha, to wave around a flamboyant banner embroidered with his name. He did not attract much attention, however, as the other children were also crying out over their own predicaments.
—Ah! Mother, that thing is too embarrassing! You didn't have to bring that!
The screams died down only when they neared the entrance to the square. Urie looked up as a massive tower had come into view. Erden's Tower, with its top reaching high up into the clouds, he couldn't tell how tall it actually was.
“This is it,” Urie mumbled and felt his heart racing. After this, he would be able to use magic. He would be able to help out his father at the wall.
Once they had arrived at the square, Urie closed his eyes after taking a seat by the fountain, along with the other children. The officials in charge of the ceremony positioned themselves behind them and held their arms up at the children's backs. Blue, yellow, then green, they all glowed different colors as they communed with the spirits.
Although it was said that Undine was in charge of this year's Harvest Festival, it was only to watch over the proceedings. Except for a handful of occasions where she had shown herself, minor spirits appeared in her stead and floated towards the children.
Individually they came up to each child and gathered mana towards their chests. This was an act to saturate their seeds with mana. When they had soaked in enough— one by one, the children began to match the spirits glow, a sign of their mana roots awakening.
“Ooooh! That child has a high affinity with the earth spirits!”
“As expected of someone from the Perid House! If the greater spirit of the earth was here, then surely he would have personally given her his blessing!”
There was a cry of admiration from the crowd watching. They were paying attention to the bob-cut girl from earlier who was staring at Urie. She was not only emitting a vibrant yellow light but around her, dust, stones, and broken pieces of the pavement were hovering an inch off of the ground. On her face bloomed a smile of satisfaction.
“Wasn't there the little commander of the Loeth House? Can we expect the appearance of a greater spirit again this year?” a bystander commented. Some had heard his words and began to look for the silhouette of Undine while the ceremony went on.
Until half of the children had already started to give out a steady light— Urie, however, was still seated and patiently waiting for his mana roots to form. Time went on. A few seconds, then a couple of minutes, and soon all of the children were finished and waiting for the ceremony to end.
—Why!? Why was this happening?
Urie was panicked. Cold sweat had gathered on his palms and he was gradually losing heart. He placed his focus on the motes of mana approaching his red seed and could see them being rejected, forced back outside of his body.
—Spirits! Why, why have none of them approached me...?
Ethereal representations of the elements, fairy-like beings— they went around all the other children yet why had none come to visit him? They had all stayed a distance away as if his mana seed really was a ball of fire that could burn them if they got too close.
A gentle and soothing voice resounded within his head and for a moment, his thoughts became clear.
The greater spirit, Undine's voice. He felt it kind and intimate. Hearing her voice in his head rekindled his hopes as he thought that she had arrived personally to give him her blessing. A moment later, however, he opened his eyes and looked down at his trembling hands.
—I-I can't use magic?
His lips quivered and his shoulders dropped in resignation. It was over, the ceremony was over. For a second he was uplifted, only to be doused of the remaining embers of his hope.
[My heart aches for you...]
They were of consolation.