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It's Not All As It Seems

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It’s a perfect day. Sun’s out, there’s a light breeze, clouds lightly cover the sky. Perfect for the wedding. The temple is full of people, some amused, some confused, some skeptical, but overall a happy vibe.

“It is with great pleasure for me to wed our very own High Elf, Ma’Nel, and his Human wife, Maria, on this wonderful day.”

The ceremony was held with great joy. The couple looked very happy, everyone seemed to be happy. The celebration afterwards was filled with excitement, laughter, fun.

This couple will definitely live a happy life.

—————

The evening is cold, seeping into the room dimly lit by a few torches. Maria is giving birth, assisted by Mo’Net, the sister of Ma’Nel. She screams in pain, but endures. The baby is birthed, he is healthy.

“Dear, what would you like to name our child?” Ma’Nel asks.

Maria thinks for a bit. “I want to name him Kallo’Bain1.”

“Why Kallo’Bain, dear sister?” Mo’Net wonders out loud.

“I want him to be the one to bring together the Elves and the Humans. I want him to be the link between the two.”

“That’s a wonderful name!” Mo’Net claps her hands.

“Then he shall be known as Kallo’Bain.”

This small family of three will definitely live happily.

—————

The skies are dark and gloomy, just like the emotions the people are feeling. Rain is about to fall soon, just like the tears of the people surrounding the tomb.

It happened so fast. Bandits attacking the small township, the capable men defending it. The bandits are slain, but so was he. Ma’Nel is no longer here. He left his wife and his son alone in this world.

This small family of three is now two. Looks like their happy life is now shattered.

—————

The Library City of Ortlinde on the continent of Lingrah’Vod in the world of Ka-iel. A city of mostly gray, filled with books to the brim, with people flocking to gain knowledge from these books.

The temple is bright, even in the evenings. The walls are crafted or gilded in gold and other reflective material, forever bathing the temple in light. If only that was what Maria was feeling right now.

“Nobody’s helping me in the village. They are discriminating against me and my son. I’ve been traveling around the Free Glades. And I am getting old and weak, but my son, my son is too young. Please take him in and take care of him for me.”

“This is a big task for us, and a huge burden for you. But we will take him in. If you think this is for the best, then so be it.” The Head Priest of the temple sighs.

Kallo’Bain is handed to the Head Priest. “Mama?” He says as his mother walks away.

“My boy, you shall be called Sarkas from now on. We’ll take care of you here. Come, let’s eat.” The Head Priest holds Sarkas’ hands and leads him. Sarkas looks back with tears in his eyes.

The even smaller family of two is now one. Will there ever be happiness in their lives?

—————

Years have passed and Sarkas is a young adult now. He does his duties in the temple and stays inside mostly, save for going to the market in the early evenings to eat food.

He’s praying to Raidrion when he hears a voice from the entrance. “Elio, I’m going to talk to the Head of the temple. Now behave yourself!”

He stands up and looks towards the entrance. His breath hitches, and he stopped breathing completely momentarily. He regains his composure and is now staring at the man by the doorway intently, curiously. The man moves closer. “Uh, hello.”

“Hi. And what might you be doing here in the temple?” He hopes his voice wasn’t shaking from nervousness.

“Yes, my name’s Elio Lightweaver, thanks for asking. My mom and I just moved in and we wanted to serve the temple.” He answers in an annoyed way, but smiles in the end and holds out his hand.

Sarkas quirks his eyebrow, and a slight smile pulls at his face. His nervousness is disappearing. He reaches for the hand, hoping the other man, Elio, wouldn’t notice it shaking. “So we’ve got a joker here huh? Raidrion or Lumiaris might not like that.”

“Wha- Are you serious? I’m so sorry oh dear” He faces the alter and bows down, faintly mumbling “I’m so sorry…”

“Man, I’m just kidding you. Don’t say sorry now, it’s funny!” He says while laughing. He likes this guy.

Elio looks at him. His nervousness is starting to return. “So we’ve got a joker here huh? Blahdiblahblah. Tell that to yourself.”

“Being sarcastic now huh? Oh yeah, my name’s Sarkas.” Saying that word made him remember that he hasn’t introduced himself yet. He reaches out his hand again.

“Now I do not believe that. You probably pulled that out from the word sarcastic!” He still grabs the man’s hand and shakes it. He’s right, he might’ve pulled it from the word. Except he didn’t.

He’s quiet for a bit, contemplating. “It’s Kallo’Bain actually. My real name I mean. But yeah people really do call me Sarkas here.” He smiles brightly and proceeds to head over somewhere, waving goodbye in the process. His nervousness is getting the best of him and he needs to get out of here ASAP.

“Man, that Elio is cute.” He mumbles to himself.

Looks like this family of one has a chance at happiness again.

—————

The library is huge, lots of bookcases, staircases, books, people. Everything basically. People from around the continent flock here to see and read the books. It’s the largest collection in all of Lingrah’Vod.

Sarkas is looking for a book that can explain what the Head Priest was telling him. No luck though because he’s very distracted. “It’s been two days since I saw that guy. I thought he’d be serving at the temple with his mom? I wonder where he is.”

He looks back and sees said man sitting with piles of books. Upon closer inspection, he looks like he’s reading the Wanderers Guide to Lingrah’Vod. “What an unusual choice of book to read. I wonder, should I go and say hi?”

They make eye contact. Goosebumps. Sweaty palms. Fast heartbeat. He runs away as soon as he’s able to.

“I guess no hi’s from me then.”

—————

The market is lively, filled with people moving about. Stalls of all variety line up the market: weapons and shields, knick knacks, magical items, even food. The place is bright in the early evening.

“I really don't understand your love for food, Sarkas. This is the third food stall we’ve been to!” Elio exclaims from behind Sarkas.

“Food is amazing my friend. It sustains us, gives us life ! And it’s as if you're not used to me eating. We do this almost everyday!” He laughs as he chooses between the street food laid out in front of him.

“Yeah I know. And I do enjoy coming with you. Spending time with you is amazing.”

He stares at Elio for a bit then quickly looks back at the food before Elio notices. “You speak as if we rarely see each other. We serve the same temple, if you’re forgetting. But thanks.”

His nervousness, although now more controlled than before, is making itself felt again. He starts mumbling to himself. “Why am I like this?”

It seems like this family of one has become a family of two.

—————

The cafeteria in the library is very spacious. It’s filled with people eating and reading books they borrowed. It’s mostly quiet, save for some people discussing the books they have. A lone high elven woman sits at a table for four with a spoon in one hand and a book in the other.

Sarkas bows down to the woman. “Excuse me miss. Would you mind if we shared a seat with you?” He smiles.

The woman smiles back and nods her head. “Of course! I’m sorry but I might not be good company. I get absorbed when I start reading books.”

“That’s not a problem at all. Thank you! I see you’re reading Wanderers Guide to Lingrah’Vod there. It’s a good read!” Elio smiles brightly.

“It’s one of my most favorite books actually! I don’t know how many times I’ve read it. It’s so good!”

Elio lights up at this. “Really! That’s also my go-to book when I want to read but don't know what to read. I really got interested about the Age of Tears   and the Age of Fire , about the Karcians   specifically!”

“Oh yes! That was a really scary point in our history, I literally get goosebumps when I’m in that section of the book. Oh, by the way, my name is Althaea Alderon.”

“My name is Elio Lightweaver, and this is my best friend Kallo’Bain Sarkas, but you can just call him Sarkas!” Elio and Althaea seem to hit it off so well, their love for books bringing them together. It makes Sarkas jealous. Really jealous.

“You didn’t have to tell her my real name you know…” He becomes quiet and starts to close in on himself, staring at his food, slowly eating it, not noticing the goings on around him.

“Am I overreacting?”

—————

The sun is setting and the sky is a pretty pink and purple, making the clouds look like cotton candy. People are walking about, minding their own business, going to where they need to go.

Sarkas is just wandering around aimlessly. “I wish Elio were here. Can’t he just forego his task in the temple? I need to talk to someone.”

Someone is running towards him. His eyes took its time to adjust until the figure is right in front of him. “Hi Sarkas!”

“Oh. Hi Althaea.” His answer was kinda cold, but for some reason, he actually doesn’t feel the jealousy.

“What brings you to this part of the City?” She seems like a kind person. Very inquisitive though.

“I’m just taking a walk. Nothing to do at the temple right now. Elio’s working right now though.”

“Yeah, walking is calming, not to mention a great exercise too! Hey, have you always lived here in Ortlinde?” Yeah. Very inquisitive.

“I used to live somewhere in the Free Glades when I was really small. My mom gave me to the temple because she was old and couldn’t take care of me anymore, so that’s why I’m here.” He feels weird telling this to someone he barely knows, but he’s going to stick with it.

“I actually ran away from the Forests of Anduril. Not that I hated it there, but I wanted to learn more about the world. And Ortlinde just made so much sense with all the books here! Oh I really love books, I’m practically married to them!”

Sarkas laughs at this. He didn’t expect to be open to someone he’s just officially started talking to. Maybe they’ll become close too, one day.

Looks like this family of two will become a family of three, too. 

—————

The temple is bright, much like the sun. There aren’t many people walking the streets yet, but the morning is starting to get lively. The Head Priest has gathered some of the followers of Raidrion to the prayer room.

“I have a task for everyone present. Someone gave us a tip that Raidrion’s legendary artifact may have been found, though the location my source gave is very general. It’s in the Free Glades. I need you guys to find that artifact and bring it back here. You leave later in the afternoon. That is all, and good luck.”

Sarkas is dumbfounded. He has to leave the temple? Granted it’s not forever, but his first thought was, “Elio.”

He leaves the prayer room, not noticing his faster-than-usual pace. His mind is drawing a blank, but his body knows where to go. Elio’s house.

—————

The day is coming to a close. There’s a group of people outside the temple, looking like they’re about to go on an adventure. Sarkas and Elio are standing far away from them.

“You know, I’ll miss you. It won’t be the same without you here.” Elio smiles sadly.

“What is wrong with you, Elio! It’s not like we’ll never see each other anymore! We’re just going to look for the legendary artifact of Raidrion, no big deal. If you were his follower too, then maybe you’d be with us as well.” He laughs, but it’s evident in his voice that he’s sad as well. He hopes Elio doesn’t notice it.

“Hey, Lumiaris is a great goddess. I have no regrets in choosing to follow her. But hey, keep in touch okay? Come visit when you can.”

“Of course, I’d lose my mind if I don’t get to talk to you. About visiting? Of course that depends on our progress and what the party wants to do. But if I can, then I will.”

They hear someone whistle. “Well, I guess it’s time to go then Sarkas. I’ll see you soon, okay?” Elio hugs him tightly.

Sarkas didn’t know what to do at first, his arms staying at his side. His nervousness is coming back to him, and this is the strongest he’s ever felt it. But he eventually hugs Elio tight as well. “Yeah, I’ll see you soon Elio. I’ll miss you a lot.”

Sarkas moves towards the group and waves at Elio. Elio smiles, for the last time in a long time, Sarkas thinks.

Looks like this family of three is down to a family of one. Again.

—————

The skies are covered by dark clouds. Blood-red grass. Bodies strewn about. Sarkas doesn’t know what to make of this. His party, they’re all dead. He’s the only one left, he’s alone.

Running. Running as fast as he can. He surely can’t take on the enemies by himself. “Elio… Elio I’m sorry. I don’t know if I’ll get to see tomorrow anymore.”

Running. Avoiding trees, rocks, any obstacles. And a thought hits him. It hurts his heart so much. “Elio… I love you. More than you know. I wish I could’ve told this sooner, but I didn’t know what I really felt, and I’m scared of losing you.”

Looks like happiness really isn’t for this family of one.

—————

The skies are blue, the sun is out. Nature is singing happy songs, and the breeze is making itself felt. Sarkas is currently blessing this small lake for his own personal use.

He’s cleaning out his weapons as well as his clothes. “I got away from the enemies but… I’m alone now.”

He focuses on the tasks he’s doing, but a memory keeps coming back to his head. The first meeting he had with Elio. “I didn’t know I loved him that way. I guess it makes sense though.”

He hears rustling on the other side of the small lake. He sees a dwarf carrying what seems to be the dead body of a girl. And then a tiefling, a goblin, and an elf or half elf throw themselves in the water. “What the…”

He casts Detect Magic on them, maybe he’ll see something. As he does this, the dwarf puts the body down in the lake. Sarkas sees a dark mist coming out from the mouth of the body. “What the?!”

The group notices him, and one of them waves their hands. “What do you think you’re doing? You’re bathing in my Holy lake!”

Maybe there’s still a chance for this family of one.