In a desolate place far in the north of the Eastern Continent, a strange event was taking place. The plains that usually were relentlessly ravaged by snowstorms suddenly turned peacefully silent. Not a single snowflake was falling, not even a gust of wind could be felt. It appeared that, as if fearing some kind of punishment, nothing dared to make a sound. Dark clouds appeared and started to accumulate, drawn to a certain point.
Over the peak of a majestic white mountain, which was located at the end of the plains, they began to gather. Within a breath’s length of time, the sky was completely covered in darkness.
On the peak stood a man, seemingly unfazed by these events. Although his silky azure robe matched the attire of a noble, his shoulder-long black hair and his rough face gave off an air of uncontrollable wildness. With his hawk nose, thick eyebrows and his sturdy build, it would not be surprising if one were to mistake him for a violent barbarian.
Looking up to the sky, his fierce gaze seemed to penetrate right through the thick clouds. He then took a deep breath and shouted: “Is this another one of your futile attempts to break the seal? Ha, you fools tried to descend many times in these past few years. I’d like to see if you finally gained enough strength to succeed this time!”
The mountain suddenly trembled and cracks began to spread out on its surface. In an instant, the clouds split apart and an enormous lightning bolt struck the peak, followed by a deafening thunder. The snow on the ground turned into burning hot vapor, leaving behind only scorched earth. The once snow-white mountain completely turned black. As the mist slowly faded away, the barbaric looking man appeared again, still standing at the same spot, unwavering.
“It seems you didn’t even manage to burn a single hair of mine, hahaha!” He broke out in laughter after mockingly acting as if he was inspecting himself. His happy mood suddenly changed when he glanced at his left shoulder and noticed a few grey dots. The burly man’s body started to tremble as his eyes turned red. “You… YOU ACTUALLY DARED TO DIRTY MY FAVORITE GARN?” Furious over the speck of dust on his shoulder, he shouted and cursed towards the sky.
With several hand movements, he quickly performed an incantation, swinging his right arm upwards. A blinding ray of light shot out of his palm, piercing straight through the fissure in the sky. In a blink of an eye, the dark clouds dispersed and the menacing vortex disappeared.
A young man was rushing up the mountain at a terrifying speed, with each jump covering several hundred meters. Within a moment, he appeared in front of the muscular man and kneeled down, bowing his head.
“Grandmaster, the enemy seems to be slowly regaining their strength. Although your might is unparalleled under the heavens, I fear that within fifty years, a huge calamity might befall us. Grandmaster… I humbly urge you to pay heed to the prophecy.” A worried look flashed on the youth’s face.
“Pay heed to an over 500 year old tale? I do not care about such ancient stories. The protector of this realm has always been me. I will certainly not give this responsibility to a stranger just because a ‘prophecy’ tells me to”, the grandmaster answered with a slightly annoyed expression.
The youth collected his courage and further pleaded: “But Grandmaster, the prophecy forebodes a calamity and the only person who can prevent it from happening is a young man with a special…”
“Enough.” The Grandmaster interrupted him. “I know what the prophecy says. Very well. We might as well take some precautions, as there is no guarantee that I will always be here to keep watch. Send some men to look out for this boy.” Having said that, he flicked the right sleeve of his azure colored robe and disappeared. The young man bowed and watched over the vast white plains as his cape was flattering due to the gale created by the Grandmaster. “When snow ascends…,” he mumbled and disappeared as well.
Kala, a young looking shop clerk who was tidying up her store, was suddenly startled by a bang. The entrance door sprang open and a tall man entered the room. A brown scarf made of fur leisurely hung around his neck. The combination of his silky white robe with long sleeves and the luxurious scarf made him appear quite eccentric. Seemingly angry, he scanned the shop with his eyebrows furrowed.
“H-How may I h-help you, sir?” asked Kala, bearing a shocked expression. She was taken aback by his sudden extravagant appearance. Kala viewed him as a potential customer and decided to treat him respectfully.
The man covered in fur walked up to her in big strides.
“Where is it… Where is the… toilet?” He stared at her with a pained look.
“E-Esteemed guest, our b-bathroom is over here!” Kala pointed to a wooden door behind the counter.
He rushed past her and disappeared behind the door, without uttering a single word.
20 minutes passed. Kala, who was feeling slightly uneasy, kept glancing in the direction of the bathroom. ‘How much longer will he be in there?’ Just as she thought this, the entrance of the shop once again was kicked open with a huge force.
“Well, if this isn’t our beloved Kala. You must have missed us.” A fat man with a protruding belly entered the store, followed by two skinny henchmen. The two men next to him were tall and had two big knives on their belts. They simultaneously licked their lips and lustfully stared at Kala as they entered.
Seeing these three ugly figures, Kala’s face sank. Feeling disgusted and scared at the same time, she began to stutter again: “W-We don’t owe you any m-money anymore! W-what do you want?”
“Oh Kala, is that how you treat your guests and benefactors? You might have paid your initial debt back but don’t forget about the interests. According to my calculations you still need to pay off 50 silver coins. I decided to collect it today. Quick, my time is valuable!” The fat loanshark gave his henchmen a nod and they walked up to the counter.
Kala was visibly shaken. “S-sir Tsi Gu, I have nothing left! We are struggling to keep our store afloat. I b-beg you to have leniency!”
A rotten smile appeared on Tsi Gu’s oily face. “Kala, I’ve waited long enough. Since you are unable hold your part of the bargain, I will have to make you work off your debts. Take her.”
Just as the two skinny bodyguards were about to grab her, the bathroom door slowly opened. With a heroic aura the young noble stepped out. Suddenly, the air completely changed. The henchmen were startled by his sudden appearance and became cautious.
“You, stop! Who are you? Eh? W-What’s this smell?” Gan Bu nearly passed out after breathing in the air that flowed out of the bathroom.
“How dare you sully the air of our Master with this despicable stench? You have no shame! We shall teach you a lesson!” After regaining their composure, both guards drew their knives and stabbed towards him.
The young noble merely flicked his wrist and an invisible force knocked away the knives. With another flick, he pinned the two skinny men to the ground and stepped on the head of Gan Bu.
“Who told you to stand near the toilet? Are you stupid? I hate stupid people. Also, the smell isn’t that bad. You’re lucky that I’m a very forgiving person.” His gaze wandered to the terrified Tsi Gu. “Hey fatty, take these 50 silver coins and get out before i change my mind. If I ever see you in this part of the town again I’ll cripple you,” he said and threw a pouch towards the trembling loanshark.
“Do you know who I am?! Just wait until I…” Before Tsi Gu could finish his sentence, a kick hit his stomach and sent him flying out of the store. In the same moment, the two henchmen were thrown out as well. The three men laid in the dirt, writhing in pain. After a short while they got up and glanced at the store, eyes full of rage, before stumbling away.
Kala quickly recovered from her shock and bowed to the young noble standing in front of her. “E-Esteemed guest, I do not know how to thank you. May I know the name of my benefactor?”
“My name is Kan Jen. No need to thank me. Consider it as a payment for your… hospitality. I shall take my leave now,” he said with a gentle smile and walked towards the exit.
“Young Master Kan Jen please let me repay your favor. We have a few valuable treasures in our store. Is there perhaps an item you desire?” Kala was hoping to gain the goodwill of this powerful young man.
Kan Jen suddenly turned around and leaned in very closely to Kala. “Miss, do you perhaps have a ‘desire charm’?” Although his face was very close to hers, his charming smile made her drop her guard.
Completely surprised by his lack of hesitation and sudden approach, she blushed and started stuttering again: “I… I indeed h-have one, but it s-seems to be broken. It o-only points in one direction, no matter who uses it. ” She handed him a small stone painted with unknown symbols. It slightly resembled a compass.
“This charm might be cursed. Several customers have followed its calls and ended up missing. It led them to a cave not far from here. After entering it however, none of the adventurers have shown themselves in the city again. Oddly enough, the desire charm could always be found on the ground in front of the cave the next morning. Young Master, I advise you to not use it, as there might be a demon lurking inside.”
“Only one direction? Cursed Charm? Interesting. I’m very grateful for your gift. I shall remember it,” Kan Jen said as he lightly bowed and swiftly walked out of the store, leaving the dumbfounded Kala behind.
‘This went smoother than planned. Although it’s a cursed charm, there must be something special about that cave,’ Kan Jen thought to himself and laughed.
Originally, Kan Jen wanted to buy a desire charm for the full price of 5 gold coin. Then, while conducting his other “business”, he heard the commotion and sensed an opportunity. He gambled on the kindheartedness of the store owner and got a special treasure for a tenth of the price.
Naturally one would be very wary of a “cursed” item, but Kan Jen immediately recognized it as a genuine desire charm. The reason he was excited, was that a desire charm would always lead to one’s greatest desire. Of course it could also guide one to dangerous places, or even calamities. But overcoming the calamity meant seizing one’s dream!
Wondering where it would take him, Kan Jen infused a strand of energy into the charm. The inscriptions glowed up and within the circular symbol, an arrow appeared that pointed to the north.
He swiftly hopped on his horse and sped to the northern outskirts of Shiga City. The arrow on the stone continously emitted a stronger light the closer he got to his destination. During spring, there was no snow around Shiga, which is why he was able to travel through the nearby forest within a few hours. The usually snow-filled paths were now dry and blooming with colorful flowers and grasses.
After half a day, he finally reached the end of the forest and found himself at the foot of an eerie mountain. Following the charm, he discovered a small passage leading to a cave. The arrow symbol was now emitting a blinding light. Kan Jen felt like it was squirming, as if it wanted to escape the stone and fly into the cave.
“Let’s see if it is what I think.” Kan Jen took a deep breath and entered the passage.