Preparations were not as difficult as Sora imagined they would be. Her father let it be known throughout the royal home, and through out the village that if Sora came inquiring after anything, that they grant it. Otherwise, they would have to answer to the him. Some of the Kiswan were shocked that she was being granted a quest from the king. Many were hoping to get a chance to speak with Sora in order to find out the details of her quest.
Sora had gathered food to last for two months. She would not be able to carry much more than that. The morsels consisted of dried meats, dried fruits, dried vegetables, and wheat. She could chew on the wheat for hours. This could keep up her strength while she traveled, and it could keep her mouth moist. She planned to carry a canteen that she would fill up at fresh water streams.
Among Sora's other provisions were some bandage wraps and special ointments from the physicians. One small bottle contained a tonic made from lemons. The purpose was to drink it when no water could be found. Just a sip could help the body use the moisture that had been retained. This would be a very valuable tool, especially in crossing long stretches of hot land. She also would be carrying a blanket roll to rest on each night.
By the time all of this had been prepared, it was nearly mid day. The sun was high and warm. Sora had two tasks left to complete. First, she had to go to Witold and ask forgiveness for her breaking the partnership, and acquiring the one last thing that Sora desperately needed for her journey. The ancient map of the whole world.
Witold would be difficult to convince of her breaking the planned partnership. He had always fancied Sora, even when they were very young. He would do anything for her willingly and adoringly. It made Sora sick. He was not like the other males. He could not run through the forest without making a sound. He would probably alert every creature out there that he was there. Most of all, she could just not see herself producing a royal heir with him. The funny thing is that there is another Kiswan in the next village that is in love with Witold. She just needs a chance to catch his attention, because they would make a perfect match.
The house that Witold lived in was quite large for being a villager home. This was the last thing that she wanted to do. She could see the house in the distance, it was not far off. Sora's heart started to pound. Her stomage started to flop along with her racing heart beat. Sora took a deep breath. As she approached, she even started to feel light headed. She finally realized that she had been holding her breath. So she let it out in a swift whoosh. Then sucked in more air. She was nervous and had to manually breath in and out. Sora just never realized how hard it would be to tell Witold that she did not want to partner him.
The seemingly eternal walk to his home finally ended. Sora stood on the stoop waiting for some miraculous motivation to pull the door chain. As Sora was reaching up for the chain, the door swung open, and someone came barreling out of the home, knocking Sora to the ground.
"Ahh! Watch out!" Sora called.
She looked up and saw Witold with a sheen of sweat making his coppery skin look extra brilliant. Witold wasn't a bad looking Kiswan. His hair had the hue of a deep green, along with his eyes. He was just as slender as any Kiswan, but he was the most awkward and said the wrong thing nearly every time. He was much too predictable, and Sora knew that he would never allow her to roam on her adventures if they were to partner. Kiswan had a few more years on Sora, he was born four years ahead of her.
"Sora! I'm so sorry, I was just rushing to your home." Witold stood up and offered his hand to help her up. "I just heard that you have been given a quest. Is is true?"
Sora didn't want to actually face him. She dusted off her pants and said, "Yes, it is true. I leave tonight, before the sun goes down."
"Oh." The pain and surprise is obvious in Witold's eyes. He backs away slightly and looks down at the earth. "How long might you be gone?"
"Well, my task is to find all of the new lands that have been found and document them." Her voice lost gusto as she looked up and saw the hurt on his face. "Witold." He looked up at Sora looking like he might cry. "We have never been a right match. I might be gone for many months. You should choose someone else to partner. I know you could find a young female who would appreciate you so much more than I could."
That was not the right thing to say. He glared at Sora. Suddenly Witold did not look as boyish as he always does. He looked like a hurt bull ready to fight for what was his. This frightened Sora. Not for her life, but for her freedom. Witold said, "I should come with you. We could perform the partnering ceremony, and leave together."
I gaped at him in shock. He would slow me down, and probably get us killed. "Witold, you understand that when the king issues a quest, it is for that one person alone."
"Yes, but you are a female!" Witold shot out with slight rage in his voice. The green hue flashed the sunlight, which made him look even more intimidating. "Surely, your father will not be sending you out on your own and unprotected! That would be foolish of him!"
Witold turned around ready to stomp away. "Witold! Wait!" Sora said. "You had better watch your words and tone you use with father, or else you might find yourself on a quest, leading to your death!"
Sora lurched forward and grabbed hold of Witold's arm. She spun him around, or tried to. He tripped on his feet and fell into Sora. She had caught him in an awkward embrace. They had never been that close before. Sora could feel the electricity emitting to and from her body. Witold had recovered himself, and was looking down at Sora. She looked up into his eyes and felt the shock ten fold. In that very moment, Sora realized what she was doing. She pulled away from Witold, and she took a few quick steps back from him. She noticed the puzzled look on his face. She felt the same way that he looked. What could that have meant? All she knew was that she was now looking at Witold in an all new light, and he knew it. Suddenly he did not seem as undesirable. How much more can a few minutes change?
Confused, Sora said, "I'm sorry Witold. I have a lot to do in order to leave. I must go. Have words with the king if you wish, but remember that an assigned quest is irremovable. It must be fulfilled."
Sora took one more glance up at Witold, he returned her gaze, and right then her heart skipped a beat and her cheeks flushed. Sora turned abruptly in her tracks and ran off toward the royal home. She began to feel the tears come only seconds away from leaving his presence. At the time of departing from him, Sora's emptiness increased. She needed answers.
Sora threw open the doors to the royal home and turned left down the first hall keeping up the fast pace. Few Kiswan popped their heads out of the door to see what was the hurry, and some jumped out of Sora's way. Sora ran all the way to her own chambers. She threw open the door and landed on her bed sobbing.
Agatha who was putting away clothes and books but stopped what she was doing and came to Sora's side. "What is it deary?" Agatha patted Sora's sleek hair gently brushing it away from Sora's face.
"What is wrong with me Agatha! I have never fancied him," Sora said in exasperation. "Why do I suddenly feel like I am losing my world in leaving him?"
"Who?" Agatha asked, "Witold?"
Sora looked up at Agatha, and nodded. It all just felt so wrong! Her pining over someone that she only enjoyed spending time with during their very young years.
"What is wrong you ask?" Agatha looked at Sora and laughed. "You have experienced what nearly every Kiswan experiences in their early years. Love."
Sora looked up. "That can't be!"
"How impossible is it really. Witold is handsome is he not?" Agatha sat down next to Sora on the bed. "He is a lot more grown up than you have ever thought of him, isn't he?"
Sora's face reddened. She looked away. "This can't be. I am leaving tonight. I have to forget that this ever happened."
Agatha took Sora's face in her soft wrinkled hands. "Deary, you cannot run away from fate. It appears that this partnership was not only planned by your parents but by those who control destiny as well."
Sora did not want to accept it. She had never loved Witold, and as long as she does not see him again, she was confident that she could forget him. She had to.
"I will speak no more of this, and neither will you Agatha!" Sora was upset that Agatha was not saying what she wanted to hear. "Please, Agatha! My parents cannot know what happened. This quest is too important!"
Agatha appraised Sora quietly. "Fine, I will keep this secret, but you had better take this time away to really consider Witold."
"Thank you Agatha!" Sora did not acknowledge Agatha's request, and Agatha noticed. Sora got up and slipped into her bathroom. "I will make this quest a successful one!"
Agatha frowned. "Be not surprised if when you return, Witold is waiting for you to fulfill your promise to partner."
Sora pretended not to hear Agatha. When Sora left the bathroom, Agatha was no longer in her room. Her spirits were brightened with the thought of the last task before departure. Sora placed her bag on the bed. She took inventory one last time. She knew that this one item, her father would never allow to leave the archive. Sora would have to sneak back into the royal home to steal the map to the whole world.