Potos was a village that had survived the Fortress War, or so the local fairy tales told. It had a tavern and an inn, and also several houses. As he walked into the village, Keven felt stronger and could swing the sword around much more easily. Well, that is to be expected. I have been using this sword a lot...
The air in Potos was filled with a kind of threatening dread. Keven looked around, hoping to find someone he knew so that he could show off his sword. After all, it was the first sword he had ever owned. The first person he saw was Grandma walking very slowly around the northwest entrance, her hunched shoulders giving away her apprehension. "Hi grandma!" he exclaimed.
Grandma looked at him fearfully, her blue eyes studying him closely. Then, when she deemed him not a threat, she shakily sighed relief. "Keven! Did you see that?!
"See what, Grandma?"
"Oh, don't give me that 'innocent face'. A few moments ago there was a bright light near the falls."
Keven widened his eyes and spaced out for a moment. He had hoped that the ghost with its bright light had been only a passing dream. Now he realized it hadn't been a dream, and was starting to get a sick feeling in his stomach.
"I have a pretty bad feeling about this." Grandma mumbled to herself walked away.
Keven looked at her and wondered why the bright light had made her so fearful. Grandma was about seventy five years old, respected and a bit senile. To his left, a couple of houses down from where he stood, was the tavern. After looking around and deciding there was nothing else to do, he decided to go to the pub. He opened the door and walked in.
Elliot's mother looked up from cleaning the counter and smiled, "Oh, hi Keven! Elliot came in here all pale a few hours ago, and... well! No matter. I think you should see the Elder. He came in here asking if I had seen you."
Keven raised an eyebrow. "Oh? I've been out for a walk."
"Well, I just told him no, and that you'd probably be back soon." she sighed, "He worries about you a lot, ya know." Giving Keven a smile she continued to clean the countertop.
In a far corner of the tavern Keven noticed a stranger, who seemed to the teenager to be severely depressed. Elliot's mother stopped her cleaning momentarily and gave him another drink.
Poor old man, such a waste to be drinking... "Be seeing you sir!" Keven called to the man, trying to keep his tone light. The stranger was obviously a knight from somewhere. Looking up the stranger's face expressed confusion, as though he saw a ghost. Dismissing the thought, Keven walked out and decided to go to the indoor market. With men like that around, I'll need protection. He thought with a shiver to his spine.
The indoor market was west-south-west of the tavern. Merchants from all over the area, mainly the Kingdom of Pandora, came to trade, talk and rest from wary traveling. In these days they the only outsiders allowed into Potos, especially since they brought in exotic items such as chocolate and armor. Before entering Keven checked his money, and found he had over 400GP - enough to make him wealthy. He then put back the gold, opened the door and called to the shopkeeper.
The shopkeeper looked up from behind his counter. "What can I do for you?" He asked. Knowing he didn't have to answer anytime soon, Keven looked around on the walls, which were neat and organized. Keven didn't see much of interest, until a band of blue cloth caught his eye. Armor! "How much for the bandanna?"
"Planning a trip, Kev?" the merchant commented.
Keven shook his head. "Not really, but I'd like it. How much?"
"50 GP, if you can afford it. It just came in from Pandora this week. A genuine head piece, guaranteed to protect you from head blows."
"I can afford it." Keven handed over the money, and put the bandanna on. Looking in a mirror nearby, he thought it really looked good. The thought came to him that buying armor was something that he could get used to. But I don't think so. I'm not planning to go traveling anywhere anytime soon...
Keven then heard yelling, and the sound of Elliot's voice, "But I tell you, we saw him fall! There's no way that he could be alive..." Keven said his goodbye to the storekeeper and walked up to them.
When he reached the Elder's house, Timothy, Elliot and Elder stared at him in disbelief. "Hi, guys!" Keven smiled and said cheerfully, for he was glad to be home.
Elder looked him over a couple of times, noting the bandanna and the sword, before meeting Keven's eyes with fear and wonderment. "Where did you get that sword?... By the falls?" Keven only nodded in innocence, not knowing the events that were about to occur.
"Oh, what have you done!" Elder cried out so that the whole village could hear, "That sword has been protecting this village for years!"
No way! thought Keven. "But how can it be the Mana Sword! Look at it, it's all rusted!"
The Elder motioned to see the blade. After a moment he sighed. "It is the Mana Sword. I remember seeing those markings when I was your age. It has been protecting this village for years, but now... "
Elliot, who had been standing in on the sidelines, cut in and let out his anger and frustration. "So that's it! You know what?! Ever since that flash near the Falls, monsters have been attacking us! And they're doing that because you pulled out that sword!"
"But we were looking for the treasure... it's all rusty! I didn't know..." Keven argued in vain, since Elliot wasn't listening.
"That's why monsters are attacking us! You're an outsider! Now you're gonna get us all killed!" In a burst of anger he hit Keven on his right eye. Keven backed up, knowing he wasn't prepared for a fight, and not wanting to use his sword on one of his best friends. So he did what anyone in his situation would have done - try to protect himself from the punches.
"Stop it!" he pleaded weakly between the blows.
"Shuddup!" Elliot yelled angrily. They were in a circular flower garden, trampling the beautiful plants. Just as Elliot was about to deal another blow, a powerful earthquake shook the area. Everyone came out of their houses screaming that the end of the world was at hand. Without warning, the ground beneath the flower garden opened, and both Elliot and Keven fell in.
First of His Foes
Keven looked around. Elliot had found a corner and was hiding behind some big rocks. Turning Keven saw what made his friend afraid - a huge ant-like creature. It was about ten feet tall and stood on its two feet. Instead of hands the monster had claws, as big as Keven was, and he was about six foot.
"Give me the sword" was all it said. More annoyed than angry, Keven looked at the sword. Why does this idiot want it? he thought, and would have started to whack the thing like a maniac with the object it wanted right then and there, but then a voice came from above.
"Hey, boy! Listen to me!" Keven looked up to see the stranger from the tavern. The man was standing at the edge of the crater where he and Elliot had fallen. "Concentrate! Attack only when you feel the most power. That is the only way to defeat the being! Take your ..." but the man's words didn't reach Keven's ears, because the Ant had started to attack.
Keven did as the man had told him, and repeated the attack five times. Each hit seemed to get the Ant mad every time, which appeared to Keven like a good sign.
One time, as he was in-between attacks, Keven found himself beside Elliot. The stricken boy only looked up and asked for his mommy when he was asked to help. "I can't fight that thing! I'll get killed!"
The sixth attack was fatal, and the Ant exploded. Both boys got up and sighed of relief. "At least that's over," Elliot panted, "Remind me never to beat you up again, for any reason."
Keven laughed. "Don't worry, I'll remember... " then something caught his eye. In place of the mutated ant was some money and a weird-looking orb. He held onto it even though his companion tried to get a peak of the orb. "Too bad. It's mine, I fought for it." and that shut up poor Elliot.
"I wonder how we can get out of here." commented Elliot after a few seconds. The two friends then went looking for a way up and out to freedom.
For a young man who obviously hadn't fought before, the man had to admit that the swordsman was excellent. Immediately he had admired the kid, and now he respected him as well. This kid's going to be a great warrior without even trying! I bet he hasn't ever been a squire, such are his movements so untutored! I wonder if that is the Sword?... Then he noticed that the kid had defeated the enemy and had collected an energy orb. An Energy Orb! Serin could collect those, and if this kid's anything like him... Seeing that Keven and Elliot were trying to get out, he lowered a rope.
"Hang on! I'll help you up."
First Keven climbed up. That was easy, for the old man still had some strength left in him. But it took the might of both of them to haul up the fat child. When the boys were out of the hole, Elliot ran away crying.
They looked at him running away for a few moments, Keven laughing, the old man shaking his head. Then the old man turned towards the victor and smiled. "That was some swordplay! You really looked like a professional down there... and it looks like you got an energy orb..."
Seeing that Keven didn't have a clue what he was talking about, the man decided to explain himself. "My name is Jema, and I come from the Republic of Tasnica." he extended his hand in greeting.
Keven nodded warily. "Nice to meet you. I'm Keven."
Jema smiled. The kid's got manners. Good... Sizing up the Sword's condition, Jema spoke up. "That sword's pretty rusty. It looks like it'll break any time... I think you'd better get it reforged. That energy orb you picked up may be of some help."
Keven looked at him strangely. "Uh, yeah, I don't understand... how do you know so much? And why do you want to help me?" He was getting suspicious of the man, for he sensed in him that he wouldn't tell all that he should.
Jema smiled, more because he now knew that the boy was not just brave, but smart. "Because, my friend, anyone who can fight like that has my respect. No matter what, you should learn more about that sword."
"How should I do that?" asked Keven, who was fascinated. This old man was really nice, and sounded very sincere. He acts like he really cares... only time will tell if I can really trust him, though.
"Well," started Jema, "I would visit Sage Luka in the Water Palace. She's been guarding these lands for over 200 years, and knows many things about what has happened in the past."
"200 years!" murmured Keven.
"She may be able to tell you about that sword and its history." he sighed. "That is where I am headed, and so I will wait for you there. It is on the other side of the Great Falls, just take the south gate and strike the path west." with that Jema nodded and left.
Keven stood still for a second trying to understand all that Jema had told him. No one had ever let him go outside the village alone before, and he had believed that the Water Palace was a myth, since it was in so many of the fairy tales that the Elder told him. I'd love to get out of here and travel, to see the world... I wonder what Elder will think? I can't just leave him here! He is like my father... So he hurried to the main house at the far east end of the village.
The scene inside his house was glum. There were two floors: the first floor was the bedroom and the town meeting room, and the basement was the library and storage area. Everyone in Potos ate at the tavern. All the heads of household in the village had gathered, and they were arguing and bickering about the sword and Keven.
"We can't go on like this!"
"Monsters have been attacking the village ever since he came back with that sword!"
Elder looked at the assembled and rolled his eyes in frustration. As he looked around, he noticed Keven in the doorway. "Oh Keven!" he sighed, got up and paced the floor, "All the trouble with monsters started when you pulled out that sword! And now there are more of these things, like that big ant, coming for you... " he announced sadly.
"Then it's settled!" cried one villager, "I am sorry, but we can't let you stay in the village anymore, Keven."
"You'll get us all killed!"
"On your way, now!"
"I'm sorry," Elder said quietly, reaching in the folds of his cloak trying to find something, "But I have no choice but to ask you to leave. Here," Out of the folds he produced a small pouch and gave it to Keven, "Take this and go. It has 50 GP in it. Use it wisely."
Keven looked around at all the angry faces, knowing that he might never come back. He wanted so desperately to say that he was sorry, and that he could fix all the wrongs he had innocently unleashed. The angry faces made him hurt, for these were people that he had looked up to and trusted would never forsake him. I can't stand this! and he ran out of the house before anyone could see him cry. "Wait!" cried a voice. He turned around to find Elder hurrying towards him, his expression one of unbearable pain.
"I know I've told this before, but I will tell you one last time." The old man took a deep breath and continued. "Your mother came to this village when you were a baby, only a few months old. Then, one day, without saying goodbye, she disappeared. No one has seen her since." I took you in and I raised you. Even though I must banish you, I love you and consider you my son. But for your sake, I truly hope that you find your mother someday. Go! And may the blessings of Mana be with you." and he turned abruptly and walked back into the house.
There were two gates that led in and out of Potos. One in the northwest led to the Great Falls, but nowhere else. If anyone wanted to leave and go to another village they had to take the southeast gate. A guard was waiting there for Keven when he arrived. The guard was an uncle of Timothy's, and was once a close friend of Keven's.
"You know I didn't do this on purpose... "
"Excuses aren't valid. You've taken our protection away, and now monsters seek out the Sword. Once you're gone, the monsters will leave us alone."
"But.. I can stay and help fight the monsters! Please, don't do this... "
The guard didn't listen. He grabbed the back of Keven's shirt and threw him outside the gate. The guard proceeded to block the gate, which he did very well, since he had the broadest shoulders in the village.
"You are hereby banished from Potos village... "
"If, one day, the monsters disappear, we may let you back in. But not until then, and even so you may still be banished. Now, get out of here!"
"I didn't do it on purpose!" pleaded Keven
Don't show your face to us again!" the guard barked.
Tearfully Keven nodded. He turned and walked away as emotionless as possible from the village that had raised him. As soon as he was out of the guard's sight, Keven ran as fast as he could away from Potos. I didn't mean to do anything wrong. How was I suppose to know that a rusty old sword was the legendary Mana Sword?! Oh, why me?!!
The roads outside the village were said to be dangerous. So when a few flowers and mushrooms decided to attack Keven, he was glad to have the Sword - even if it was the reason for his banishment. Having the Sword somehow made him feel as though he had a purpose in life, thought he didn't know why.
After awhile of traveling south, he stopped at a sign. It was pointing in four directions: westward to the Water Palace; southward to the Kingdom of Pandora; northward to Potos; eastward to the "Cannon Travel Center". Keven had heard rumors that you could travel by cannon to anywhere in Mana by these people for a small fee. However, the idea of being shot out of a cannon didn't improve on his mood.
Keven decided to walk to the Water Palace, partly since Jema had suggested it to him, but mostly because he had nowhere else to go. Carrying and swinging his sword made him tired, and he didn't like that. If I'm going to be travelling, I'd better build up some strength.
He continued to walk westward, and eventually came upon a small stream with a small bridge to cross it. On the other side a bend in the road that led northward. A sign to his left read, "Danger! Beware of Goblins!". Since tales of Goblins were campfire stories told only in jest, he laughed to himself, crossed the bridge and continued on the path northward.
A few minutes later - another sign! This one pointed westward and read, "Welcome to Neko's" in bright blue and green colors. Keven's curiosity got the best of him. Anyone who would put a sign up for all of Mana to see has got to be a little off in the head...He was wary of walking, even if the forest scenery was beautiful, and so he turned westward.