“If they call me a mad man, who am I to disappoint?”
Carter Svan, on The Matters of War and Duty
My Dearest Theresa,
I hope you are well. I know it has been awhile since I last wrote. For that I am sorry. I do not mean to worry you my love. Things are going well here. As well as they could be I suppose. I do miss home, I miss it more each day. I can’t imagine the struggle you are going through without me there, there aren’t words for how grateful I am for what you’ve taken on. I only hope the gold I’m earning is worth it like we thought.
I believe our part in the war is over, at least that’s what Madman Svan told me today. He seems to think the fountain we found today was the actual objective of Eurie and Orinthal as a whole…
“Sir,” The young soldier in his twenties called out. A man a decade or more his senior turn his head to see who stood behind him.
“Yes?” The voice answered more annoyed than anything else.
“It’s the front, they are asking for a report.”
“What is your name?” The man covered in metal armor and the blood of what Henry could only assume was not his own.
“Henry, Henry Ferrier sir.” Henry called out mechanically. Madman Svan turned around to face Henry. He was covered in their blood. The blood dripped down his armor, blood of whoever stood between Svan and this Fountain. Henry made note of how effortlessly Svan held the lance in his right hand. A weapon meant for two hands, this man held with ease in one.
“Nice to meet you Henry, my name is Svan.” The madman said drinking from a mug in his left hand.
“The pleasure is mine, your reputation precedes you.” Svan chuckled into the mug as he drank.
“Does it?” He asked bewildered. “Which reputation is that? The killer or the king?” Henry’s eyes widened.
“I…” Henry managed to muttered out. Svan smiled a wicked smile.
“It’s okay boy.” The man said thrusting his lance into the freshly blood stained dirt. “I’m not going to hurt you. We are on the same side. Even if the men don’t think that.” Henry nodded, trying his best not to step out of place. There was a tension in the air he didn’t understand. If they were allies, why was Hendry afraid for his life? Svan turned around to look at the fountain again.
Henry stared past Svan and onto the fountain. A cascading waterfall at least twenty feet tall., the water poured off each step and down to the next effortlessly, making little noise as it did so. Lush green foliage filled the edges between the water trodden stone steps and the recess of the mountain. At the top of the seemingly natural fountain a piece of the mountain had been carved into a smooth circle. The foliage grew around it, as if making some armistice. Where foliage grew a ring was made with few patches missing. In the center of the ring Henry saw the familiar horn with a line through it from the top left to the bottom right. Cenlore’s Mark.
“Why are you here?” Svan asked staring at the fountain. Henry was not sure whether that was meant for him or the fountain. Svan turned his head to his side, looking at him with one eye. “Henry? Why are you here?”
“Oh right me,” Henry said. “The front, they want a status update on the fountain.” Svan sighed.
“That’s not what I meant Henry.” Svan said exasperated. He put his back to the fountain and stepped toward Henry. “What brought you here to Arkahnis? A land ravaged in war for longer than we’ve been alive.” Svan said through gritted teeth. The anger seeped from his very veins as he spoke, it was unmistakable.
“To serv-” Svan swiped a flat hand through the air in a cutting motion.
“I’m no politician kid. Why did you enlist? What brought YOU here?” Svan barked. Henry took a step back and put a hand on the hook at his waist where his mallet hung. Svan noticed the change. “What part of I’m not a threat, did you not understand?” Svan sighed as he spoke. “I just want to know your why.”
“Gold,” Henry found himself speaking without his consent. “The misses and I, we want to start a home. I am a good blacksmith, but Eurie promised me gold to fight. They also promised that I would learn to be a better smith.” Svan nodded at Henry, approving something that wasn’t sought after.
“And have you found it?” Svan asked relaxing his shoulders as the two spoke.
“Yes, Eurie pays well and this whole campaign I’ve been making weapons. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better.” Henry replied confidently.
“Good, our war is over Henry.” Svan told him pointing to the fountain.
“That right there is why we are here. Do you know what it is?” Svan asked him earnestly.
“A Fountain of Cenlore, the devout worship at them in Eurie and other towns in Orinthall. Riverside is planning to make one.” Svan smiled at him. The kind of smile an adult gives a small child who answered a question, the exact way they were expected to.
“This is a real Fountain fo Cenlore.” Henry opened his mouth to ask what that meant but stopped when Svan continued on. “The mark, the natural state of the fountain itself, you can see this was not built by man. This was built by Cenlore himself, or perhaps one of his children. You know this is a real fountain by the thickness in the air. You can feel it can’t you?” Henry nodded.
“I thought that was the tension in the air, I confused it with the sense of you attacking me.” The madman nodded at that. Henry decided he would take the nod as a confirmation of his safety. At the very least Svan’s intent was not to kill Henry, that much he had told himself was confirmed.
“That’s the torrent.” Svan said calmly.
“The…” Henry didn’t want to say it, but he found no other way to communicate the meaning. “The Arcane Torrent?” He asked the warrior opposite of him.
“The same.” Svan studied the fountain. “This is what they came for. The legends describe a war between the gods. They speak of a great battle that happened on Goarahn. A war that wiped the planet clean. A war so terrible that Elya of Creation had to restore the world to something hospitable. She had to recreate almost everything. It was then the Arch-Gods made a pact not to set foot on Goarahn again. Instead they chose to fight their battles through smaller gods and their children. They wove influence throughout the world, and Cenlore chose to leave fountains. Some say it’s because water provides life and hope, others say the very water is infused with the Arcane Torrent itself. Either way the rumors are enough that Eurie and Orinthal as a whole sent an army to claim it.”
“What are they going to do with the Torrent?” Henry asked.
“The same thing powerful people always do, misuse it.” Svan said picking his lance up. “They won’t mean to at first, they will have good intentions Henry. Us mortals always do. I suppose we should get going then?” Svan asked Henry as if all of this was normal.
“What about the Arcane Wars? Weren’t those terrible and didn’t they rip our world into pieces?” Henry found himself shouting. He was angry, the ignorance of man was going to ruin this world. The same world Theresa took her breathes in. Svan nodded solemnly.
“If we learned from history Henry, we wouldn’t be fighting a war over sources of the Arcane Torrent.” He stepped beside Henry, facing the path down the mountain. Henry watched the water cascade down the stone steps. “The torrent is everywhere, and nowhere all of the time. This land, Arkahnis has some of the thinnest barriers between Goarahn and the Arcane Torrent. It’s easier to pull from here, and with that, it’s easier to use. Which means-”
“Weapons...” Henry said knowingly. “They want to make weapons.” Svan began walking down the path whistling a folk song from Eurie titled “The Long Road Home.” Henry wanted to scream and cry. All of this fighting was for nothing more than more power. Eurie had been telling all of Orinthal they fought to liberate the land from this war. This century long war was nothing more than one giant power struggle. Henry felt more than disappointed in himself for being so foolish...
They say the Architects will be done with their work by the end of the week and we can go home after that. Plenty of soldiers will stay behind, but my unit is said to be heading home. I hope to see you soon. I miss you. Perhaps, I even miss you more than you’re cooking. Though, I’ve been spoiled by your pot. I must go now, but I’ll write again before we leave. I send this letter with all my love.