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Chapter 2: The Future Looks Bright

David Grimdark
Jun 17, 2022

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Chapter 2

"Through the cobble streets a boy walked lazily with his arms behind his head in a relaxed manner. He's humming with his head turned up and his eyes almost closed. Enjoying the warm sun on his face he walks on without any care or urgency. The tune he's whistling is sweet and slow, if you heard it, you'd probably take a moment to enjoy the sun too..."


Ahhh, the sun feels so good. It's that time of year between seasons when the temperature isn't too cold and the sun isn't too hot, and when they mix it's just perfect.

As I walk on, I find myself humming an old lullaby my father used to sing to me as a child. I forgot the name of it, but apparently it was about a god who fell in love with a human, quite cliché to be honest, but the melody is nice.

Nothing much happens in Itzes even though it's a border town. The Gerf Kingdom is focused on their wars with the Dirk Kingdom and the normal army was there to stop any unrest that does flow over. Itzes is not too large, about a thousand people, enough to warrant one Holy Knight actually. Since there are so few Holy Knights, only certain areas can get them and even then, usually they have to go off on missions.

Our Holy Knight is Pitri, a new Holy Knight serving the God of Purging. To be honest, he seems a bit snobbish, supposedly the God of Purging hates uncleanliness, so being out here in a border town might be testing his will. He keeps to himself and we keep to ourselves, not really a big deal.

Clack, clack, clack, clack.


I hear the clacking of running on cobblestone and someone yelling my name, then I feel someone jump and hug onto me from behind. I turn my head and there I see Nel hugging me, ahh to close, I blush a bit then separate from her.

"Nel, what's up?"

Nel seems out of a breath, she pouts a bit when I push her away but then smiles again when she notices I was blushing.

"Yule, come with us! Let's go to the point and hang out, we will be graduating soon, we should spend time together while we can!"

'The Point' is a cliff near Itzes that has a good view of the town. It's a great spot to see the sunset, although it takes a bit of a hike to get up to.

"Ehhh, I don't know, hiking takes a lot of energy..."

Nel pouts again and grabs onto my arm shaking me.

"Lazy! Yule is lazy! Lazy Yule!"

Eh it's not lazy, it's a fact, a fact! As she is shaking me I see two figures approaching. One is extremely large and the other is quite thin. 

A deep voice sounds out behind me.

"Indeed Yule, if you wish to grow strong you must put in the effort."

The one who spoke was Omar. Omar is giant for a 17 year old sitting at 6,8 and nearly 300 pounds, most of which being muscle. His family owns the lumber yard so he spent his youth chopping down the surrounding forest. His skin was slightly tan and he wore a simple sleeveless shirt tucked into pale trousers. He had a short messy head of brown hair.

A skinny boy walks up as well before commenting. 

"I don't think it's possible, based on how slow Yule walks and how much he sleeps, he must be part snail, I'm afraid this is the limit of his biology."

That was Uzair, Uzair is a very thin teen sitting at a much more normal 5,8. He has black bangs that cover his eyes and he usually wears a scarf around his neck no matter the weather. He's a bit weird, but he is my friend.

Still laughing, I responded.

"Uzair, I'm afraid your genetics are much worse than mine, based on what I can see you may be part stick bug."

Both Omar and Nel pause, then look at Uzair's thin limbs. They seem to be seriously considering the possibility. Omar is about to speak when Uzair cuts him off.

Uzair: "Omar, your body is seriously way too strange to be able to say anything, are you sure you're not part bull."

Omar: "Nonsense Stick-Boy, I am the peak male body."

Uzair: "S-s-stick Boy!?!"

Nel: "Hey Omar, that's mean."

Uzair: "Thank you Nel."

Nel: "Uzair is 17, he should be called stick man."

Uzair: "Hkk! Why you little..."

I smile as I watch them argue, these three have been my friends since childhood and are also in Mrs.Sanders class with me, they are all a bit quirky, but maybe that's why we're all friends in the first place. Spending the rest of the day lazing about with them doesn't sound too bad at all.

We slowly started walking towards the point, I didn't agree out loud but they all knew I would say yes, we are just that type of friend group.

As we approach the gate to leave someone steps out to block us. He's an older gentleman wearing guard mail and carrying a simple sword at his waist. His name is Pontius, apparently he was a Holy Knight trainee who could never accomplish enough to reach full Holy Knight so he was sent here to be a guard when he got too old. His eyes look at us squinting.

He scoffs at us. "Where are you kids going?"

"We plan to enjoy our youth lazing about at the Point this evening, care to join us Pontius?"

Pontius scowls at me.

"No can do kid, there's been movement at the border, no ones allowed outside near dark, so you'd best go laze about somewhere in town."

"Ah Pontius come on, there is movement at the border every month, nothing ever comes from it. Besides, the normal army is positioned there too."

Pontius ignores me and shoes me away. "Rules are rules kid, if ya don't like em, tough luck, now scram."

I shrug and throw my hands up in defeat, Pontius is such a rule stickler. We can never change his mind no matter how much we beg.

"Ehhhh, alright let's go guys."

Once we are outside of Pontius's hearing range Uzair speaks up. "So will we use that way instead?"

I smile and nod. "Of course."

This wasn't the first time Pontius had stopped us from going to The Point, after walking for a while we reached a boarded up cellar in a more inconspicuous part of town. Omar reached down and pulled the boards out, then we shuffled in.

For some reason this cellar had a small passage leading to outside the city with an entrance hidden in some bushes. We suspect it may have been used for smuggling goods into the city at one point, but now it was just used as a way to bypass Pontius.

Nel frantically tried to rid a cobweb from her hair. "Ewwww, I got cobwebs in my hair, why is Pontius so stiff, I hate having to walk through here, gross!"

Uzair: "Pontius is just grasping onto the past, he's a failed Holy Knight trainee trying to get what authority he can."

Omar: "I think he is just trying to protect us is all, it is the duty he was assigned."

Uzair: "Nonsense, anyone who wants to become a Holy Knight is just power hungry, the power you get from contracts lets you stand above your fellow man."

"Hmm I don't really get that vibe from Pontius, just more feels like he has a stick up his ass all the time. Oh, even Holy Knight trainees get a contract through."

Nel: "Oh yea, I wonder what active power he has."

Uzair: "Probably something lame like 'Lesser Barrier'."

Nel: "... that sounds pretty cool to me ..."

Uzair: "No, no, no it's very lame, the coolest skills are attack skills, attack your foes before they can attack you, that's my motto."

Uzair struck his chest and nodded.

Oi, why do you look so smug, you're literally a stick.

We finally exit the tunnel into a small forest. From here we can make our way up to The Peak.

Nel: "We will finally be done school soon! We can escape Mrs.Sanders nagging hehe."

Uzair: "Mrs.Sanders never nags me."

"I'm pretty sure it's because you have no presence in the class Uzair, I don't think many people even notice you."

Uzair: "... Then how did we become friends?"

"Ohh, that's true I don't remember."

Nel: "I remember! Yule was doing his death gaze at you!"

"My what?!?"

Uzair: "Ahhhh yea, I remember feeling this chill down my back then turning around and seeing you giving me death eyes, creepy..."

Omar: "Mmm yes, Yules death gaze could send shivers down the heartiest of men."

"Excuse me, I'm right here. I don't have a death gaze??"

Nel: "Yes you do Yule, sometimes when you zone out you don't realize you're looking at something and you just keep looking with those glazed eyes."

Uzair: "Yea, it felt like you were looking past me, like into my soul or something man, ugh."

Nel: "Yea, and when combined with your sharp eyes and face it can make the look kinda scary, like a death gaze."

"Wow, but wait, if I gave you that gaze, how come we became friends?"

Uzair: "That's because Nel came up to me afterwards to explain that you were just an airhead and weren't trying to kill me. From there we started hanging out and then here we are now."

I shot Nel a thumbs up. "Nice save Nel! But how did you know I was gazing at him?"

"Hkk! Oh um I just saw you, I wasn't watching, no, n-n-not watching! I just know the gaze since we've been friends for a while, s-s-sometimes you gaze at me like that too..."

Huh, why was Nel fidgeting and getting red, tics? Are there tics in this forest!?!

"Oh, I guess I scared you then, sorry. Sometimes I just get lost in thought or my mind wanders."

Nel shakes her head.

Nel:"Nnnn, it's not scary anymore, it's k-kinda cool, just a bit though."

"Eh really, my death gaze is cool? Is this some kind of hidden power!"

Uzair: "Nah man, it's pretty creepy, don't do it please."

Omar: "Indeed."

Pfft, rejected.

Do I really look scary? I try to picture myself in my mind. Mmm I'm not super tall, a bit taller than Uzair, I also have black hair except I keep any bangs short. I'm not a stick like Uzair and definitely not a barrel like Omar. I'm probably normal, I don't really do any physical labor. Lets see, a sharp face with sharp eyes, very dark brown eyes. Okay what If I apply this 'death gaze' they told me about, ehhh that's kind of scary, maybe it's better if I smile, no no no, I look like a serial killer.

"Is this why no one else in the class talks to me?"

Uzair: "Nah, it's because you're always sleeping man."

Oh. True haha. In the future I got to find an occupation where I can sleep lots, eh is there a job like that?

Nel: "Oh yea! Mrs.Sanders mentioned occupation, what are you guys planning to do."

Omar: "I plan to work for my family's logging business."

Uzair: "Ehhh, really man I thought you would for sure go join the normal army, I mean you're huge, you'd get a god's attention for sure, no, actually looking at you, are you sure you don't already have a god's attention?"

Omar flexes his muscles and flashes a smile.

Omar: "These bad boys are crafted solely by me, my very own power! As for joining the army, I have no interest in contracts or becoming a Holy Knight, 'chopping trees over chopping people' is what my Dad always taught me."

Uzair looked at Omar with a suspicious gaze. "Ehh, that's not a normal saying, that's kind of ominous."

Nel: "What about you Uzair?"

Uzair:"Oh, me? I was thinking about joining the normal army, but I think I'd die before any god took notice. Instead, I'll just work at my family's bakery."

Nel: "Ooooh baking sounds nice! I want to be a doctor!"

"A doctor huh, are you good with blood?"

Nel frowned tilting her head. "Blood? Why?"

"Oh well if you want to fix wounds there would probably be lots of blood involved."

Nel: "What!?! Really, uh, I didn't know that would be involved, gross..."

"Uh, if you didn't know that, why did you want to become a doctor?"

Nel ran out in front of us and then turned around arms behind her back. She had a huge smile on her face as she replied.

"Because I want to help people who are hurting!"

All three of us stop eyes wide and mouth agape. Ehhh, that's too cute really.

"Wow, that's a pretty pure reason. However Nel.."


"Judging from how you didn't know blood would be involved in healing, I think you'd be a hopeless healer..."

Uzair, Omar: "Agreed."

Nel:"What!!! Don't say that, I just need some practice, practice is all! I know, you guys can let me practice on you right, right!?"

Omar: "No, no, no, I'll be very busy working for my family's business, perhaps Uzair could help you, look at him, he's already so thin he basically looks like a dead man, perfect subject."

Uzair:"Huh! Oh, uh, nah I'm pretty busy with baking yenno, kneading dough and whatnot right? But, Yule! Yea Yule's free, I mean he probably doesn't even have an occupation lined up!"

Oh that's true, I don't really know what I want to do. I've always enjoyed sleeping but I don't think there's an occupation involving that. Maybe I could be a historian like my Dad, ehhh, he always has bags under his eyes from staying up late reading books and scrolls though.

Looking up I realized that we had reached The Point. The sun was just starting to set and I could see all of Itzes bathed in a soft red. My friends were also looking, except for Nel that is.

Nel, who had started to pout, was looking at me with a hopeful gaze. No, no, no, please dont look at me with those puppy dog eyes.

I look at her with a completely serious face.

"Actually, I'm gonna be a teacher like Mrs.Sanders."

One second of silence passed where all three of them stared at me with a blank look. Then they all burst out laughing.

Uzair:"No way, pfft!"


Nel:"Ha ha ha ha, what, Yule, as a teacher, pffft!"

After a while, I couldn't help but laugh along with them, I said it as a joke, but even picturing it I realized how far fetched it sounded.

But looking at my friends laughing with me I couldn't help but feel a sense of calm and joy.

The future looked bright.


**Empire Report**

Early Fall, 1450 AG (After Gods)

Dear Sir High Inquisitor,

Nothing new to report from the Cru or Zox federation, simply business as usual in regards to trade. No suspicious border movements to note.

In regards to the Dirk Kingdom, wars are proceeding as expected and we should be able to meet this year's quota. Recently, there was a Holy Knight stationed there who was beginning to gain a reputation; she has since been transferred to the Gerf border under the premise of insubordination.

The Gerf border has had suspicious movement around the border recently, however that is quite common from Gerf and we suspect any forces put forward would result in minor casualties at worst. An attack would also help us go beyond our yearly quota so I've ordered the commanding Inquisitor stationed there to keep things lax.

As always, I live to serve the Empire, so please let me know of any concerns.

The Dependable and Timely,

-Border Manager Farks


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