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Rise of the Nightmare Crestmaster

Chapter 1 Prologue: The Turning Point (1)

The year 2459 A.A.C Vorian province, Drnaine region, Wakefield

Aldrich keenly observed the glowing moss lamp held above the door frame. He always wondered how the moss knew when to light up, as if it knew how to tell the difference between day and night.

Not long ago Aldrich firmly believed that this lamp must be a wondrous item like in the songs and the stories but apparently, according to Mr. Krynt such things were quite common in the big cities.

Aldrich had the distinct urge to facepalm when he recalled Mr Krynt"s expression when he revealed his theory about the lamp.

Before his thoughts could wander any further, he heard the door creaking open. Thankfully.

"AL, I"m sorry did I keep you waiting?" Adera, hurriedly opened the door as she showed an embarrassed smile.

Aldrich took notice of her blue eyes and soft ginger hair, as he always did. But as of her return from the academy in Voryhrm, his eyes lingered on something else, well quite a few things, the most attractive to him is the glowing ring of light on her forehead.

It looked like it was almost tangible, of course he was fully aware that it was not, even if he were to touch her forehead he wouldn"t feel anything but normal skin. Not that he would try something like that.

"I just got here, is Mr. Krynt in?" Aldrich answered as he tried to keep his shirt as straight as possible.

"Come on in, he"s in his study as usual." Aldrich could hear the sourness in her voice. She must be upset with her father, but Aldrich elected not to ask.

As Aldrich walked in, he took off his boots at the entrance. Adera did not seem like she needed any encouragement, she continued to complain as they passed by the hallway, "can you believe it? His daughter comes back from the academy to visit after a year but he doesn"t have time to see me! Too busy with his useless books and boring paperwork."

Aldrich wanted no part in this argument, whichever side he chose he would ultimately lose out, so he racked his brain for the most neutral answer possible to no avail.

"What was that?"

"Come here young lady."

Fortunately, before Aldrich could muster an awkward answer, he was saved by madam Lana"s and Venna"s voices, coming from the living room. Adera scoffed and headed to the living room with obvious unfriendly intentions.

Aldrich did not join her, instead, he continued to the last room to the left. He wouldn"t have any part in that battle. One time he got caught up in an argument between Adera and Mr Krynt"s wives and he was not fool enough to do so again.

As he stood before the door, before he could knock, a strong and curt voice called to him,"Come on in."

Aldrich was not surprised, like he was the first few times this happened. Apparently Crestmasters had an enhanced perception, Aldrich didn"t entirely understand what that meant but after experiencing it a few times he got the gist of it.

Aldrich opened the door carefully, the wooden floor did not creak as he walked up to the middle aged man sitting on a cushioned wooden chair behind a huge wooden desk.

The ginger hair that Adera inherited was well kept, unlike his beard which was all over the place, his calm blue eyes fixed on the paperwork on the desk, clear sunlight streamed from the glass window behind him. One look at him and you would know he wasn"t from Wakefield.

Behind the door Aldrich saw the signature white wings of the sleeping green-furred monkey. It was sleeping peacefully in a straw basket. This monkey is Mr. Krynt"s messenger, apparently it was home for the day.

All sorts of papers and books lay strewn across the room in total disarray. An expected sight. Aldrich made sure that he did not make a misstep lest he damage the precious documents.

Aldrich went on to pick and organize some of them, some books and papers were so close to the fireplace they almost became fire feed.

"A bit early, boy, yes?" Mr.Krynt did not look up at him, he was writing slowly but with great concentration.

"Well Mr. Isger let me go early today. So I thought I shouldn"t waste time." Aldrich didn"t stop collecting the books on the floor and returning them to the book shelf on the right of the study.

"Surely you saw your mother before you came by, yes?" Mr. Krynt always had a way to ask important questions nonchalantly. A trait that always caught people off guard.

"Yeah, of course I did. She wanted me to thank you for that honey cake from last time." As Aldrich answered he held his breath for a moment.

"Oh, good good. How kind of her." Mr. Krynt still didn"t raise his head, and Aldrich allowed himself a relived sigh—"good answer but terrible delivery, any decent liar wouldn"t have hesitated."

"Shit, you"re just too sharp old man!" Aldrich couldn"t help but complain internally.

"Alright let us not delay, since you"re here now, this must be the right time, we ought to get going. A scholar from East Gortuba once said "everything in the right time tastes the sweetest but any earlier or later sours the taste" wise words indeed."

Mr. Krynt of course couldn"t resist quoting someone in the midst of everyday conversation.

"And just vague enough to apply to anything," Aldrich mocked.

"And thats what makes it wise."

Mr. Krynt and Aldrich bid goodbye to his daughter and two wives. As they got on their way, Aldrich drove the wagon and Mr. Krynt sat besides him.

Aldrich nodded at the lazy village guards when they got on the village Back trail, the guards, seeing Mr. Krynt sitting besides him quickly adjusted their lazy postures.

Aldrich admired this sight, Mr. Krynt didn"t raise a finger, just sitting beside him gave Aldrich a glimpse of what it was like being a Crestmaster.

When they got to the camp site, under the Inzcan tree, Aldrich familiarly stopped the wagon and got down to tie the horse to the tree, by the time he was done Mr. Krynt had already prepared his equipment from the wagon.

"As always keep an eye on the horse and wagon, I will be done in around two hours." Aldrich watched as Mr Krynt"s headed into the ruins entrance.

? This entrance was not a natural one, to dig into the mountain and make this entrance Mr. Krynt hired more than thirty men to dig for a fortnight.

These ruins were always around Wakefield, in the back and across the east hill one of three forbidden areas in Wakefield.

The second being the deep woods, Aldrich didn"t understand why, not until two years ago when an owlbear attacked the village from there.

The third was the old cemetery, the most feared of the forbidden areas, it is said a battle took place there in the false saint"s war some years ago, nobody bothered to purify it or perhaps nobody wanted to waste time on a backward village in the middle of nowhere.

In any case some say the fallen soldiers rise as undead to fight again all throughout the night and in the day they go back to being corpses but if anyone were to disturb them their end was quite clear.

Though sometimes Aldrich wonder at how much coin he could make if he were to sneak in, to steal some armor, a sword or two maybe. It could be that he could pay off all of the debt his mother owed and then some.

Then again he could also die a miserable death, certainly his life wasn"t so cheap to risk in such a manner.

Aldrich did his usual thing, fed the horse and daydreamed. When suddenly a thought struck him. If he could somehow help Mr. Krynt in his work with these ruins, then he might repay some of the goodwill that Mr. Krynt had shown for him. Hell, he might even get richly rewarded.

Aldrich couldn"t contain his excitement as he shot to his feet, first he made sure the horse was tied tightly then he washed his face.

This ancient ruin as far as Aldrich was concerned is some old building from a long time a go. The people in the village thought that it might have been a castle, some guessed a palace of some lord or another, others thought it was fortress that was buried here in the age of dread, whatever the truth was nobody knew for sure.

What made this ancient structure hard to investigate was the fact that most of it was buried under a mountain, quite literally. From the edges of the mountain parts of the ruin jutted out.

Aldrich could see the opening he was looking for, this opening always attracted his eyes. Due to the shape of this structure if he were to climb up just a little he might be able to enter. This hole won"t fit regular men but he was only thirteen this year, Aldrich guessed that he maybe able to enter.

Aldrich jumped hard and caught the edge of a huge stone, he pulled himself and stepped on the flat of the stone tentatively, fortunately the stone didn"t betray his expectations, it was sturdy enough.

Another jump took him a level above, here he decided to take a deep breath as he looked at the ground from this height, this was a little higher than he thought, only a little.

But of course, Aldrich, a man who will one day become a great adventurer wasn"t a coward.

Aldrich decided to do what he was here to do, the opening he saw from below was now in front of him. As he crawled in he felt the dampness and heat of this place, although he couldn"t see much the passageway was surprisingly smooth.

Aldrich continued on, feeling his confidence grow as his vision adjusted to the darkness and he made progress. The narrow passage was longer than expected so as to not waste time he decided to speed up when his hands suddenly landed on empty air.

He didn"t have much time to think before the wind was knocked out of him. Fortunately he landed on his back.

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