The air was stale and stagnant, consumed with the scent of iron and steel as the clanking of metal against one another echoed. Narrow streets covered in dirt and filth were evident as the summer breeze blanketed the Amber City of Valmor. The ghetto, some call it, home of the thralls and cowards.
Within the depts of the ghetto on top of a charcoal steed, barely able to move, much less ride. its hove clanking against the narrow streets of Valmor, a weak shudder passed through its oddly thin legs as it carried on. Its entire physique, seemingly deprived of water and food for days, if not months.
Yet on top of the steed stood a large man covered in a thick dark cloak, drawing the attention of those who held a nose of suspicion. It was the time of Ifrit, a season known for its flaming temperatures and droughts. And yet, the stranger wore a heavy cloak as though it was winter. However, the man did not take note of the suspicious stares of the onlookers as he proceeded without care, his hazel-colored eyes filled with determination visible only to those that peered into his cloak.
"Father, must we travel like this?" A sweet voice consumed in innocent resounded within the cloaked of the stranger. "It's been months!"
Noticing the cloak begin to wiggle, a small head of an innocent child came into view as it took a peek towards the world around it. With Golden eyes that reflected the city of Valmor, the young child that appeared no more than three quivered with excitement.
Her face was covered in filth, while her dark hair appeared haggard as though it had never been brushed or combed. Yet, even with her worn appearance, an angelic glow radiated beneath her filthy exterior.
"It is dawn, Aurelia. You know the rules." The young girl's father reprimanded in a rough tone causing large globs of tears to rise. Nevertheless, the man stood firm in the face of his daughter's tears, pushing her petite head back into his thick dark cloak." We are upon the Estate of Blackwater. Stay hidden; it's almost over."
Hearing the whimpers of his daughter's cry, the stranger lowered his head, indifferent as he continued. He could not stop, not after all the months of traveling. He was risking it all merely to have an audience with Lord Blackwater. A recent member of the aristocracy that had magically appeared out of nowhere three years ago. No one could understand how an entire manner had appeared out of thin air. It was even said that the King of Farumm visited this mysterious manner. However, when the king returned, he gifted the Lord of this manor Zireael Blackwater, a noble title and land.
Duke Zireael Blackwater was many things to the people of Valmor. Some called him the Devil of the North, others their hero. Not much was known about his appearance, but one thing they understood was that Lord Blackwater was a Lord that craved exotic relics. It did not matter its origin; this mysterious Lord would do anything to acquire what he wished.
"Papa, when will Aurelia be free?" The little girl tearfully questioned, staring up at her father within his cloak.
With a mournful hue, the Stranger turned his head in shame, "Soon, my child. Soon, daddy promises." he whispered in a soft tone.
Resting her small head against her father's garb, the young Aurelia closed her eyes. Unaware of the searing heat tearing at her father's heart.
"YAH!!!" The Stranger suddenly roared, striking the reigns of his horse as it picked up speed. Clenching his teeth, he eyes his steed, whispering in a desperate tone, "Just a little more, just a little more, Alvon. You can make it."
Watching the sun begin to set, the amber light consuming Valmor began to fade, allowing the darkness to consume the light. With a chilling azure breeze, the stranger quivered as he turned towards the large manner in the distance.
An eerie mist could be seen consuming the manner of Lord Blackwater into its depts as the Strangers steed shrieked, rising upon two legs, it wobbled, as an elderly man, with disheveled hair and torn rags appeared startling the horse.
Clenching Aurelia into his arm, the Stranger, fell back in surprise and dazed. He released a painful groan. While the disheveled man shouted, "Turn back and do not return. For he knows of your wish and seeks to destroy. Flee, for only turmoil awaits at the Gate of Blackwater."
Glaring with a hateful grimace, the Stranger eyed the depraved man as he turned to look at the petrified Aurelia, quivering as she stared at the homeless man screaming. A trace of fear could be seen as she gripped her father's tattered jerkin.
"It's ok, Aurelia. No one will hurt you." He whispered within her ear, trying to calm the fear within her mind.
"Run, run, run!!!" Screamed the disheveled man, "For the devil see's all.'"
Lifting himself with this daughter still inside his cloak up, the stranger staggered as he reached for his steed. Only to gasp as its frail appearance still and lifeless. Cursing beneath his breath in both shock and anger, the stranger turned to the depraved man in the streets screaming.
"What in the world? This is madness!" he begrudgingly spat, taking Aurelia into his large, powerful arms; he continued his journey. With his heavy cloak, cold sweat continued to fall as hours began to pass.
With each step he took, the Stranger began to hope; he began to dream of the riches he would receive. The story that they would create in his name.
"They will all know my name one day, all of them!! Eachann of Harvin will be known." he declared.
With lustful greed overflowing from his soul, Eachann quivered, falling to his knees before a large black gate guarded by none. Heavy panting could be heard as Aurelia called out.
"Papa? Are you ok?" She innocently asked, wiping his sweaty body with a dirty rag.
Tearing the large cloak from his body, defining muscles came into view filled with scars and bruises. Taking the dirty rag from Aurelia's small hands, Eachann smiled with his unkempt grey beard, patting her head as he wiped the sweat from his brow, "You truly are a monster. Even in this heat, you did not sweat or complain."
Tilting her head, Aurelia suddenly giggled, "Papa is funny! Aurelia is no monster. She is Aurelia!"
"So she is," bitterly whispered Eachann, kissing her forehead, chuckling as she struggled helplessly before his brutish lips.
Taking a deep breath, Eachann smiled, watching Aurelia puff her cheeks. Rising to his feet, a load clanked quickly entered his ears. Grabbing hold of his daughter, Eachann drew the long rusty blade at his waist as his grey, unkempt hair fell over his eyes.
Watching the Gate open by itself, Eachann began to quake as Aurelia laughed, "Papa is a scaredy-cat!"
Snorting, Eachann peered into the distance of the eerie mist covering the dark manner. A trace of fear began to echo within his heart as he took a deep breath to remember why he traveled so far.
"Welcome, to Lord Blackwaters' humble abode. Please sheath your weapon." An effeminate voice echoed from the eerie mist while rays of moonlight began piercing through, bringing light to the darkness.
Gulping down, Eachann opened his eyes wide as a woman in a black five-piece suit appeared. Her aqua blue hair was tied in a neat bun with a silver needle piercing through it. A warm smile could be seen upon her magnificent face as her piercing blue eyes stared at the father-daughter duo.
With a graceful bow, the captivating woman gave a polite smile towards both father and daughter, "I am Talia, Head Maid of Lord Blackwaters Estate. It's an honor."
Captivated by her beauty, Eachann froze, unable to process what he was seeing. Tilting her head Aureliea however, grinned, leaping out of her father's embrace, "Hello, I am Aurelia Morningstar! Are you going to be Aurelia's new mother?"
Shocked, Talia shook her head, " Nonsense, I have only just met you." She uttered in a respectful tone, not taking offense as many would.
Not letting Aurelia finish, Eachann pushed her head down as he bowed in respect, "Forgive my earlier behavior. I am Eachann here to meet with Lord Blackwater. I...I wish to make a trade."
Without a change in expression, Talia nodded, turning around, "Then follow me, Eachann. Lord Blackwater has just woken up from his nap."
Confused as to why a lord was taking a nap during the day, Eachann held his tongue. There were many things commoners like himself had to be wary of. And holding one's tongue was at the top of the list. No lord wished to speak with commoners. They were above the commoners.
With the mist growing denser with each step, Eachann grew a little frightened as he gripped Aurelia's small wrist. He could not risk her getting lost, not after what he did. Noticing he could not see even his hands or feet, Eachann came to a stop as a childlike voice echoed out.
"Talia, remove this eerie fog. I wish to read,"