Sora had laid down for a little nap. She wanted to be completely rested before she set out. She was going to do to a lot of traveling during the night for a few days. She was not sure what would await her outside the nation, but she was beginning to grow anxious.
Despite her need of sleep, Sora could not let her body and mind rest. As she was possibly drifting off to sleep, Agatha entered her bedroom. Sora peaked out from under her eye lashes to see Agatha glance over at Sora and hesitate. Then upon deciding on something, Agatha approached Sora's bed very carefully as to not disturb the would be sleeping Sora.
Agatha had passed Sora's line of sight but Sora could hear some rustling amongst her things. Agatha was most likely packing a few things that she thought Sora was in need of for the journey. After a few moments of silence, Sora felt a light shake.
"Sora, wake up." Came Agatha's urgent whisper. "It is time for the quest banquet. Your father and mother are waiting for you to enter together."
"I did not think there would be a quest banquet," I said. "Is it dark yet?"
Agatha shook her head. "No, it is not dark yet. The sun will not go down for a few more hours. The whole village is waiting for you to enter with your father and mother."
Sora sat up quickly. She was pleasantly surprised, this just might help her retrieve the map without being noticed.
"Okay Agatha." She said. "I will be right out. Let me just freshen up for a minute."
Agatha nodded and proceeded out the door. Sora entered the bathroom thinking about Agatha's secretive behavior. She could just go and check for anything missing, or anything new to the pack. Agatha is not typically secretive, so Sora shrugged it off. Checking her pack would have to wait. There were plenty of details that she had to worry about at the moment.
Sora tied part of her long golden hued hair back so that the majority of it was falling down her back. Her dark skin was clean and glowing. Never had she had a banquet in her name. She was nervous. Being the center of attention was never Sora's favorite past time. And since she was the king's daughter, she was expected to dress as such. Sora's gown was a beautiful emerald green with a sleek but flowing skirt that dusted the floor. The piece extenuated her lean beautiful form.
Sora looked at her reflection and laughed to herself. It would be a very long time before she would be wearing anything so beautiful. Satisfied with her appearance, Sora took a seat at her vanity to wait for her escort to the dining hall. Immediately, her mind started forming a plan. She knew that this banquet would last for at least two hours. A five course meal should be expected. It is custom to eat one course, then when every person is finished to converse while waiting for the next course. It was a very long process, yet it was usually quite enjoyable. This celebration would make it easy for Sora to slip out undetected at some point to head to the archives.
A soft tap on the door broke her concentration. She stood and did not hesitate to answer the door. She knew exactly who was behind it.
"Father!" Sora exclaimed upon opening the door. She gave him a quick hug then smiled up at his beautiful blue hued eyes. His blue hued hair was cropped short to a very appropriate length for a king. The king was one of the most handsome men in the village. He was dressed the part as well, with a nice grey tunic.
"Are you ready for your quest celebration Sora?" The king asked. His face showed a pleasant smile. "It's not every day that my daughter goes on a quest."
"Ha! Well, it is going to be a successful one!" Sora took his arm and allowed him to escort her toward the feasting hall.
They could hear the chatter from within the hall. It sounded like the entire village was indeed there. Butterflies fluttered in Sora's stomach. The sooner she got sat down, the sooner she could relax. Her mother greeted them at the main entrance. She too took the King Otto's other arm, and they waited for the doors to be pushed open, upon which silenced the entire hall.
The entire village stood out of respect for their trusted leader. As they proceeded to the head table, many blew kisses to Sora, and touched her arm to show their support. Sora was touched that her people were so supportive of her quest. She could not help but love them even more. King Otto, sat his wife down first, then proceeded around the table to seat Sora. Finally, he rounded the table to his seat. Raising his hands in a welcoming gesture, King Otto sat down, with the rest of the attendants.
Thankfully, Sora's thoughts were interrupted by her father clinking his knife of the side of his goblet. The sound was the cue for the first course to be brought out. As if lined up behind the door to the kitchen and waiting for this specific signal, the servants loped out and began depositing plates in front of each person. The king was served last so that he could ensure that everyone had been served. Once his plate had been set down in front of him, King Otto stood with his goblet in hand.
"Today is a historical day!" King Otto paused for effect. "The day that my beautiful daughter and heir is to set off on her quest!"
The Kiswan cheered heartily.
"Not only is it Sora's first quest, but she is the first female to be granted the opportunity to bring our nation new treasures!" The king paused again to let the people calm down.
Sora stole another glance at Witold and upon immediately meeting his gaze, she dropped her eyes.
"May we all grant her the power from the earth to succeed in her quest and return to us safe and sound!"
Even Witold stood up at this announcement to the end of the speech. Not a person remained sitting. Sora slowly rose to accept the blessing of her people. She smiled and bowed to each table. This sent the villagers into more of an excited applause. Sora knew that she could help her people by following through with this quest.
The king raised his voice above the cheerful celebrating and said, "Now let us sit, and eat!"
The sound of chairs screeching on the stone floor filled the hall. Every Kiswan sat down like a giant wave, and began to eat the first course of the great feast. Each Kiswan was starting with an elegant plate of vegetables, all fresh from the village gardens. Sora delved in, and was grateful for the no talking rule, since she was adamant on avoiding any conversation with Witold.
Sora was relieved to find that most Kiswan were demanding her attention in between meals. She was addressed with many questions about what she wished to accomplish while out on quest. There were some jokes told, and the overall feel of the feast was light and happy. There had not been a quest in nearly ten years, so most Kiswan were anxious to find out anything new.
Sora's moment of truth was in between the the main course, and dessert. Sora excused herself from the table with the excuse of needing to relieve herself. Nearly two hours had passed, and the sun was close to casting the pinks and oranges across the sky. Then after that, Sora would be off, on her own. For the first time, this thought scared her.
To Sora's advantage, the hallways were empty. Every Kiswan in the village was in the feast hall enjoying themselves. With a little bit more confidence, Sora picked up the pace. She knew that if she was gone for too long, someone would come looking for her. Since Sora had grown up in the royal home, she knew the way perfectly. As she approached the large room known as the archive, she slowed down. She thought she heard someone inside. She peered around the doorway and into the room. She saw Agatha talking to someone that she could not see. The person was being blocked by a stone shelf holding some of the important documents from the Kiswan history.
Sora tried to peek further to see who Agatha was conversing with, when she slipped on a rock and fell to the floor. A rock! What is a rock doing in the middle of a walkway? The hallways are usually clean of debris. The talking stopped abruptly, as Agatha scrambled over to help Sora up.
"My dear! Are you all right?" Concern was clear in Agatha's tone.
"Yes, I'm fine," Sora responded. "It just scared me. I'm not used to wearing these over done dresses.
"I know deary," she said. "Come in here, we were actually waiting for you to come."
"What? How did you know that I would be coming in here?" Sora said. How confusing! There were obviously some things going on that Sora had no idea about!
Agatha lead Sora into the archive toward a very old man. He had to be the oldest Kiswan that was still alive, at the ripe old age of two hundred and seven. He was the caretaker of the archive named Leo. Leo was probably the only one alive that knows where anything in the archive was.
"We need to be brief, otherwise, someone will come looking for you." Agatha pushed her up to Leo.
"Hello Sora, it has been a very long time." Said Leo. "I am glad that you are here, and that you got my message."
"Your message?" Sora asked. "What message?"
"The one written on the cave wall." Leo looked at Sora hard, as if to see what was going on in her mind.
"Whaaa?" Sora was confused. "I.... uh, how did you..." Sora shook her head. "You wrote that message on the wall of the cave?"
"Yes I did, nearly one hundred and ninety years ago." Leo looked pensive, like he was remembering something from long ago. "I knew that one day, the time would be right, and someone would be drawn to the cave. I just didn't think that I would be alive to see it happen."
Sora sat down on a chair across from Leo. "How did you know that I found the cave?"
"I could feel you drawing from the energy in the water in order to swim under the waterfall," he said. "That energy is always connected to me, and always has been." Leo chuckled to himself. "Sometimes it was annoying, especially when large fish got into that water hole."
"So, how did you know that it was me?" Sora asked. All of this was getting to be a little much.
"Agatha informed me that you had been swimming in the water hole with the water fall. I had sensed your presence there on other occasions as well. Like I said, when you went under that waterfall, I could feel you pulling from the energy source that lingers in the water in order to get back to the surface on the other side."
"So what does this all mean?" Sora asked perplexed and exhilarated that she was no longer alone in this quest.
"The truth is, Sora, that the power from the earth is fading. The core seems to be dying out due to the amount of humanity that is on the earth. Mother Nature cannot sustain all of the humans and us at the same time with the barrier still in place." Leo looked at Sora intently.
"I knew that I had to get out of our kingdom. I just knew that I had to do something for our people!" Sora's excitement began to increase with each moment with Leo.
"I have known this for nearly two centuries. It has been passed down from generation to generation. I was the one who finally figured out how breaking the barrier would be accomplished. I thought that I would be the one to do it," Leo paused, with clear disappointment on his face. "I was not powerful enough to open the barrier located in the cave. And I definitely could not talk to the king about it, even though the king had enough power to open the barrier, and possibly remove it all together."
Sora stood up and began slowly walking back and forth, thinking. "What happens if the barrier is not broken completely?" Sora asked.
"Well, Mother Earth will have to choose either the Kiswan, or the Humans to survive." Leo looked at Sora intently. "Since the human race has quadrupled the size of the Kiswan race, I have reason to believe that she would choose to save them."
"I see," Sora said. "So I need to find a way to contact the humans to inform them of our presence. We need them to know about us."
"Correct." Leo was pleased that Sora caught on so quickly. "Your father and mother will feel the same as all other kings and queens in regards to the barrier. There is a lot of unknown, which makes them feel vulnerable."
Our conversation was interrupted by footsteps down one of the corridors. Agatha pressed Leo to finish giving his information. "We need to get Sora back to the feast hall. They will be having dessert very soon. She will be missed."
Sora was surprised by how quick Leo moved. He trotted over to a special cabinet in the back corner. He opened it, and produced a very old scroll made out of cloth. He hurried back to Sora's side and handed it to her.
"This is the map of the entire world," Leo helped Sora unroll it. "The main bodies of water are here, here and here." Leo pointed to each ocean for Sora to see. "You will need to summon the energy from the earth's core in order to cover the sky with clouds."
The foot steps grew louder, they were obviously coming toward the archives.
"Hide that scroll. If it is found in your possession, then you will be in great trouble, heir or not." Leo gave Sora a quick hug and said, "Now be off!"
Sora turned around and lifted her dress just enough to tuck the scroll into an inner hem. It should be safe there until she returned to her chambers to leave. Agatha escorted Sora out, and with tears in her eyes gave her a great big bear hug.
"You can do this," Agatha said. "I know that you were destined to be the one to save our kingdom!"
With that, Sora was off, ready to greet the person who's foot steps had rushed a very important conversation.