Shana sighed softly as she turned her silver key in the lock of the guild hall entrance. It was about seven o'clock in the morning and she was ready to open things up. Behind her was a strawberry-blonde elf, who was watching her with a sort of amused smile as she struggled with the key in the hole. It was stuck. Again.
"Need some help?" The soft, melodic voice made Shana want to smile a little bit as she stood there.
"No, that's alright. I've done this hundreds of times; I just need to put in a little bit of elbow grease." Right as the words left her mouth, the key clicked and the door swung open with a creak. Shana held her hands up triumphantly.
"See, Fae? I did it!"
The elf chuckled softly and then nodded.
"Alright, you did it. Now let's get some tea or something; I'm hungry and thirsty at the same time. Oh, and there should be a few more members arriving today. Argon told me that there's another elf coming! His name's Derrin, if I heard correctly." Shana smiled at the thought of another new member.
"That's definitely good news. We need more elves in Ravenmore. He's an archer, right? We don't have too many of those anymore." Fae shrugged and turned back to look at Shana.
"I don't know," she responded. "He might be one, he might not be. I think Argon said he was some type of warrior or something. So he might or might not be good with a bow and arrow. You know, not every elf knows their way around those, contrary to popular belief."
Shana chuckled softly.
"I suppose you are right. Now, let's get inside."
Later on in the morning, a knock came from the guild door. It was light, barely audible, as if the person responsible was too shy to knock normally. If Shana hadn't been sitting a few tables away from the entrance, she wouldn't have heard it.
"Yes? Come in, it's unlocked."
In stepped a tall, pale elf, with ash-brown hair, and sea-green eyes. Dark colored leather armor was tight around his rather athletic looking body. Shana couldn't help but let her eyes rake over his person. Rather nice looking, especially for an elf. Not that elves were bad looking, they were just...different than most humans she was used to seeing.
"Ah, yes," she said confidently, looking him in the eyes. "You must be...Derrin, correct?" The man nodded and Shana grinned.
"Good," she murmured softly. "Now, I have heard people say that you are a talented warrior. That true?" Derrin shrugged.
"I care not for boasting," he said quietly. This caused Shana to raise her eyebrows a little bit. A modest elf? That was something practically unheard of in Kyros. Elves were known to be a proud and boastful people, especially when it came to their skills with a bow and arrows. But, Shana supposed, there was always a possibility that a particular elf did not fit that stereotype. After all, not all elves were vain and not all of them were archers. People were different.
"You might care not for boasting, but it is true that you can handle yourself in a fight, is it not? My colleague told me of your skills. He wasn't lying, was he?" Derrin looked a little bit irked at the question but chose to say nothing, instead shrugging.
"If you'd like to see a sample of my skills, be my guest, but I do not want to raise tensions any more than possible," he explained softly. Shana nodded.
"As good an answer as any. I believe you will fit in quite well around here." A slight smile graced Derrin's lips and Shana couldn't help but grin a little bit more.
"I'm glad to hear that you have taken a liking to me," he said quietly. "It's been a while since I've been part of a guild. I've heard of Ravenmore before, but...it's been pretty mixed. After the...incident with the dragon that I heard about...well...I suppose you already know a lot more about that than I do..." Tension in the room suddenly rose tenfold and Shana visibly stiffened.
Derrin looked around, seeing what he had caused, and immediately apologized.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I should have know that would be a source of tension for you. Please forgive me for bringing that up, I really did not mean to make you uncomfortable..." The elf's voice trailed off and Shana let out a sigh, trying to think of the proper way to respond.
"It is...alright," she told him slowly. "However I would ask that in the future, you do not ask of our string of...incidents. Or, if you feel that you must, ask someone in private. It, as you can see, can cause quite a great deal of stress and people might assume that you are...judgemental." Derrin nodded.
"Very well. Thank you for not being overly cross with me." Shana nodded.
"Now, let's have a test of your skills, shall we?"
After a good long round of sparring, Shana had concluded that Derrin's skills exceeded expectations. They brought a smile to her face. Perhaps she could get Derrin to work with Talia- generally newbies tended to stick together and help each other, and she supposed that Derrin might have a better time teaching the woman with swords than she did.
Wiping a bead of sweat away that had formed on her forehead, she told Derrin to rest a while.
"You'll be sent on a job as soon as possible," Shana explained. "I need you ship-shape. If possible, we'll be starting today." She opened her mouth to say something else but was interrupted by Argon.
"Sorry to barge in, but I found this outside. I believe it's addressed to you, Shana." He handed over a small, strange looking package. Shana took it into her hands for a few moments to study it.
"Hmm...interesting..." She looked it over. It was a large manila envelope, very fine in quality, and from the weight that it carried Shana could guess that it had quite a few papers in it. She was going to suggest they take a little bit of time to open it before she noticed the wax seal. It was a scarlet color, adorned with an intricate and proud K sigil. She went silent. She recognized this seal.
"...I'm going to need a few minutes alone with this, so, please excuse me." Without any further explanation Shana took the package with her and left the room, her footsteps sounding in the hall of the guild until they at last disappeared. Argon and Derrin looked at each other curiously, while Fae stood behind them, poised at the bar and nursing a cup of ale.
"That should be interesting," She remarked, not looking at either of the two males that seemed to be very busy with their shocked faces. "Normally, when we get something from K, it means a job. I forget, Argon, you haven't been here long enough to remember the last time. It was a few weeks before you arrived here that we got something else."
Argon's dark brows rose.
"You mean you know who this person is? So, it's like a contact or something? I thought it might have just been a personal package- perhaps some letters, clothes, stuff like that. But then again, that wouldn't explain why she just up and left the room...oh...nevermind. You're probably right."
"Of course I'm right. I'm always right," she said jokingly. Argon didn't even crack a smile, still looking perplexed, presumably about the package.
"Look," Fae said. "It's nothing to worry about. If you'd like, I can tell you everything I know about K. Would that please you?" After receiving an affirmative glance, the elf woman launched into her story.
"The first time I heard about K, I had just joined Ravenmore. That was roughly... four years ago, when I was fifteen. I didn't really know much about the guild back then, as I was just starting out. Shana wasn't the guildmaster back then. Erin was. Argon, you remember Erin, right? It was only a year ago that he...passed." Argon nodded and then Fae cleared her throat to continue with her story.
"Anyways, a few weeks after my first job, Erin received a similar package to what was just given to Shana- it was manila, very fine quality, with a lot of papers inside of it. I never saw the contents of it but I was told that it was a collection of courier's letters and images of some sort of place.. Filled with stone and rock, it was referencing a location called Serpent's Pass." Instantly both Derrin and Argon's eyebrows went up. Serpent's Pass was a rumored crime headquarters of the Antimo gang, a rogue group of wizards that had been wrecking havoc on the surrounding towns and villages. According to the local heralds, it had been destroyed by Ravenmore during the glory days of the guild. Up until that point, it had been regarded as a rumor- or, a fairy tale of sorts. Until proof was brought of its existence, no one had believed the place was even real.
Fae, noticing the skeptical looks on both of the men's faces, just decided to ignore them and continue on with what she was saying.
"The package not only contained supposed images of where Serpent's Pass was located, but also orders to destroy it- and a promised reward. I was skeptical of it, of course, since to my knowledge it hadn't been submitted through the regular job request admissions. But I was told that K was a respected ally of Erin's that simply preferred to remain anonymous- someone that, for whatever reason, was in hiding. Again, I was skeptical, because for all I knew, we could be walking right into a trap but...all of the information in that package had been correct, down to a T. We finished the elimination job with relative ease. And that wasn't the only time we got a job request from K. It's happened...about...eight times since I've come here. That makes it roughly two times a year...or something like that, if my math isn't correct. But the point I'm trying to make is that K is a trusted contact and ally of whoever holds the position as Ravenmore's leader- it's been that way for a long time. I know you might not think it's very safe to trust on someone's word that we've never seen, but K has been trustworthy in the past, so why wouldn't he be now?"
Argon sighed and Derrin stayed silent, obviously wanting to stay out of the situation.
"It's just that...you know...nevermind. If you trust this...K person, then I do to. I believe in Shana's instincts."
Shana looked over the letters and files that had been sent in the package. There were so many this time...
"K, what are you thinking?" She asked herself in a low voice, trying to think of what might be going through the man's head. The suggested job, as far as she could tell, had something to do with an old legend. Galenthil, the most legendary knight of the Pagan crusades. The founder of Kyros, its very first king. Anyone who had lived in Kyros could tell you the legend- supposedly, he had hidden the most powerful artifacts in the entire world around in nine secret places- nine locations where no one would ever think to look. And Ravenmore? Ravenmore was supposed to find them.
This was going to be a long day.
End of Chapter 2
(A/N: Thank you very much, all of the people who have submitted! Like I said earlier, submissions are still open! Thank you for reading! :D )