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  1. The Ingram Chronicles
  2. The Royal Family (Prologue) - Part II
  6.     It had been a year since that day. I still recall the anxiety that I felt, even though the people cheered my name in commemerance. However, the awkward version of me is long gone; about three months in, I had already felt at home with the royal family. I was able to become closer with my new father over the months, King Hyland. He was the opposite of intimidating, he was always willing to accept people in spite of their flaws and backgrounds. He believed that anybody can have a change of heart; he always told me to always give mercy to those who yield at my blade. Aran backed him up, saying that he was able to make many great friends that used to be his enemies, but his decision to spare their lives had been life changing for them. My father was also charming, in the same sense that Aran was; He always smiled, was optimistic, and he was never too tense or formal. He would crack a joke every now-and-then, and he would talk casually with commoners whenever he left the castle to go out into the cities.
  7.     Aran had also taken me to see the rest of the city. There were many districts that housed specific families, but my first day definitely had the most to see. Other important places excluding the Arena, Smithery and Colosseum were as follows: The Press, which handed not only the daily papers but informed the nobles and royal family of important events; The Stronghold, a large building that leads underground for people to find shelter in case of emergency attacks; The Lake of Lyra, a lake that was blessed by water spirits for ages. Other than that, it was just the same thing; neighborhoods and housing, shops and markets, and some sites of entertainment.
  8.     My most memorable experience, however, was with the academy. They were pleased to hear that they were receiving another royal attendee, and although I was shy and antisocial at first, I began talking to my peers after a few weeks. I tried avoiding the topic of heroes and tales, but I kept talking about it out of habit. To my surprise, people were very accepting of my fascination; some of the proctors and professors commended me, as I was shockingly similar to Aran when he attended classes. The curriculum was easy at first, with the exception of two classes: Art of Duel and Magics. During Art of Duel classes, I had to learn many different tactics with a sword: parrying, thrusting, striking, sweeps, called shots, feins, and more. It wasn’t just the sword, soon I had to pick up an axe, then a spear, and then there were more complex weapons like the dagger, the halberd and the flail. Luckily, I don’t need to excel at all weapons, I just need a basic understanding of them. My real goal is to master the sword, of course. Magics was the opposite problem, it was the class where I had to harness the power of my psyche. Since I was late to the class, I had to learn the basics within the first month: To manifest my psyche in a physical form by holding my hand out and releasing energy upwards. On my first attempt, the force of the wind was so powerful that it knocked even the teachers off their feet, but soon I was able to contain it. Then there was launching projectile attacks, controlling said projectile attacks, and using my specific affinity to my advantage. For instance, I learned how to use the wind to launch myself into a specific distance, granted I launched myself into a wall on my first attempts. The classes then became more complex, but easy to understand; I had to play around with the wind, changing its physical form, trying to manifest a physical weapon made of wind alone, imbue an item or weapon with wind, and the most difficult of all: imbue a crystal to store power. To others, this may seem like the easiest task, but for me it was nearly impossible to imbue the crystal without it shattering from over exertion. There was one person in my class that had the same issue, it was Elizabeth herself; unable to store her immense power in one measly crystal. Her presence was still terrifying, but after feeling it everyday I got used to it. She’s intimidating because of how powerful she is, her reputation and place in the nobles, and the lack of personal knowledge I have of her. I won’t lie, I took to watching her every day for a few months, and all I could garner was that she followed the same routine everyday. She came to class, asked all her professors what they were going to do today, and confirm something with them; perhaps she told them she was already capable. Then, for the rest of the day, she sat in tranquility, away from everybody else and in silence. She also leaves early before everybody is dismissed, and I was never able to track where she had gone to afterwards.
  9.     Well, that was enough reminiscing my enjoyable year. It’s late at night, and here I am lying on my bed thinking about how happy my life is. It feels a bit wrong, but at the same time I can’t help but indulge. Aran was supposed to be here by now as well, he usually comes in to dim out the lights before we sleep. Oh well, I might as well go ahead and sleep, or so I thought. The door burst open, and Aran motioned me to get out of bed and head to the main building. I got up and ran down after him as he returned, even in my night garments.
  10.     “Aran, what’s the meaning of this?!” I yelled at him, struggling to keep up.
  11.     “It’s an emergency, the entire body of high nobles have been called to address this issue. Father told me to get you.”
  12.     As we walked down the stairs, the commotion of many nobles talking became louder and louder. As the room was in sight, the tables were filled and some men were standing up. There was a table reserved for me, and I sat down next to Aran. Across from me was Elizabeth and her father. Suddenly, there was a loud clap followed by silence. There stood my father on the standing platform, ready to give an announcement. I looked around the room and noticed that it wasn’t just high ranking nobles, there were nobles from Scyte and Ingram. Behind my father, and you could barely see it but there stood King Sirius of Scyte and Queen Athalia of Ingram, guarded by Darus, the Duke of Ingram and reigning Arena champion. Just then, the seriousness of the situation had just hit me, and I paid full attention as the King began to speak.
  13.     “I apologize for calling you all at such an inconvenient time, but there has been a discovery in the ruined lands. What appeared to be ruins was actually a disguise for a large entrance to an underground dungeon. Thanks to the mages of Ingram, it was deduced that the dungeon went down at least nine floors, but it was not like any dungeon. It was massive, the men at the scene were baffled by the sheer size of each floor. The first floor was the size of this castle, and the second floor was about seven times that size. This size remained the same up until the sixth floor, to which it almost tripled. That means that the size of floors two through five are as large as the capital of our nation, Astid, and the size of the remaining floors are as large as our capital, its four neighboring cities and about half of their neighboring cities. I’ve called you here to propose a plan, the Kingdom of Irela houses the Guild, the largest body of independent adventurers. I ask of you all, will you send your soldiers along with ours to plunder this dungeon? I have negotiated terms with your rulers, the fearsome King Sirius and the mystical Queen Athalia, and they have both agreed that the decision is yours. So what will it be?”
  14.     The commotion between the nobles had begun again, and I turned to our table. It seemed as though nothing had changed for Elizabeth, as she calmly looked forward, ignoring the indistinguishable and inaudible discussions that were going on. However, she was looking directly at me, or at least in my direction. For a short while, I was unable to even move until Aran had shook me for my attention.
  15.     “What do you think, Theo? Do you think we should get help from the other kingdoms, or do you think we should handle this ourselves?”
  16.     I looked up at him confused, it was out of the ordinary for him to question help from others. “Why wouldn’t we ask for help? The more people, the higher chance of success!”
  17.     Aran gave me an awkward look before sighing, smiling and turning towards the table. “I guess you’re right, I was just having abstract thought.”
  18.     “About?”
  19.     “Well, we’re dealing with an unknown location. You know what that entails from all the stories and tales, the unknown is always accompanied with danger. If we involve such a massive body, and we go on our expedition-”
  20.     “It will be a genocide. More lives will be lost with the absence of any gain.” It was Elizabeth who spoke up, Aran and I paid our attention to her. It was the first time I had heard her voice, and she began to stand up. She was about to give a speech of her own, as her father clapped loudly and silence was prepared for her.
  21.     “With all due respect your highness, I believe that we shouldn’t involve the recruitment of the other kingdoms. Help from the Mercenaries of Scyte and the Armament of Ingram, who knows how many casualties will arise should there be a grand danger. I believe only a small group of individuals should scout with the Guild as a back up, but only the group of individuals should enter first. Noblemen and lasses, your thoughts?”
  22.     There was some chatter before a man stood up, his attire was one of the royal Scyte families. “I stand by your idea, not only the Mercenaries but the Mafia of our kingdom, we don’t have the numbers like the Guild does. Casualties are a big loss to us.”
  23.     Another person stood up, a young man in a cloak, he may have been a mage of Ingram. “I also stand by this, the Armament is not for expeditions to discover. The Armament offers the same force of a frontal strike, so it is guaranteed that we will not be as helpful, but death will be a grave cost. However, what do you suppose that group of individuals be? I’m rather curious.”
  24.     Elizabeth walked forwards to the center of the room and faced the rulers of the kingdoms. She spoke loudly and clearly. “I am thinking of a group of four individuals. This includes myself, of course. I may only be 13, but I have proven to be stronger than even the greatest knights.”
  25.     So she’s only a year older than me? I thought to myself.
  26.     “Accompanying me will be Walter, who has served me for my entire life. For him to not accompany me on this voyage, that would be sinful. The other two individuals I believe should be from the other three kingdoms, and so I say this to Scyte: Bring me Val, the Walking Inferno, for he is the only one mighty enough that has the spare time to assist me in this quest. And to Ingram: Bring me Tiara, although she has set shop here in our kingdom, she is a citizen of the Magical Kingdom of Ingram. I believe the four of us have the ability to take on this dangerous task, are there any objections?”
  27.     Moments passed and nobody stood up to object. Queen Athalia herself walked up to the front and praised Elizabeth, stating “I like your integrity and wits, you would make a great ruler.” to which Elizabeth formally responded, “Your words are a delight to my ears, I bid you thanks.”
  28.     The meeting was adjourned and everybody was dismissed, Aran and I slowly walked back up to our rooms. We traded glances at each other before we instinctively laughed, as if we traded jokes telepathically.
  29.     “That was… kind of a waste of time!” Aran raised his hands as if he were showing how exaggerated the urgency was physically.
  30.     “I know right! And I was just about to sleep!”
  31.     “I was headed towards the room, but father called me down just to tell me to go back up and get you.” He rolled his eyes, and we both laughed again.
  32.     “Come on, let’s hurry up and sleep before the sun rises!”
  33.     “But if you run, you’ll be all exhausted.”
  34.     I looked at Aran with a stupid face. “If I’m exhausted, then wouldn’t it be easier to sleep?”
  35.     “Have you ever tried sleeping while exhausted? You spend lots of time trying to catch your breath that you can’t rest!”
  36.     “Pfft, I’m just going to be running a while, it’s not like I am fighting some mythical beast.” I ran off ahead, I could hear Aran running behind me. For the first time, he was unable to catch up to me before I reached the room.
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