You hold the object in your left hand, and it pulsates like a beating heart. The object isn’t dirty - despite having been found glinting in the dirt like a small burning ember. It seems that it isn’t even capable of being stained. It glints in your hand like a jewel, and perhaps it is a jewel because the object’s form is difficult to decipher. It’s difficult because the object seemingly cannot be properly investigated using the senses, it is almost as if the object has no form of it’s own and molds to create a kind of form.
Each time you press on the jewel-like object, it is very hard but yet has no difficulty in creating itself a form within your hand. The object is pure black and absorbs all the light around it, like a black hole within your hand. You can see the outline of the space it takes up, but you cannot see any specific edges, you cannot see a design, it can only be felt. Although even with the power of touch, you discover the object is purely smooth, there is not a single edge that one could describe as a flaw.
One question remains: What to do with it?
A Quest For Knowledge
“What’s this? Where did you find this… thing?” The Mage plays with the object in his hand with the sort of curiosity one could find in a child. He tried to examine it closely with his eyes but to no avail, and instead continued playing with the object, seemingly trying to find an inconsistency. “I don’t know what this is or who could know anything about it, it may be Dark Magic, perhaps you should ask the Warlocks over at their sanctuary? I don’t like this though, adventurer, it seems like a dangerous thing. The way it molds in my hand and manipulates it’s surroundings to fit itself - I think it absorbs the essence of the things around it. The Warlocks are the scholars of Dark Magic, but they are also hateful to any outsiders. Do be very careful with this, adventurer.” He allows gravity to drop the object within your hand, he didn’t allow himself to try and hold the object, as he could find no definite design. The object glints evermore, and beats in rhythm.
Upon arriving to the Warlock trainer you find yourself unwelcome. It seems that you have stumbled upon a rather important ritual. “How dare you disturb me? You have some nerve to come into my domain and ruin the summoning of my companion! Do you hear me you worthless gnat? I should kill you on the spot for this, you -” Although at this point the Warlock was looking at your hand, it was shaking violently. It was the beating of the heart within your hand.
“What is that you are holding? Some piece of Dark Magic? Perhaps an heirloom of a fallen Wizard? Give it to me at once, you have no right to it!” Upon hissing the last words the Warlock snatched it from your hand violently, and pushed you away in an effort to establish that this object was now his. “Where did you get this? Did you steal this from a Warlock’s possession? From whom did you steal this, you filthy thief!? Answer me or I will slay you on the spot!” It was the beating of the object, or so you think, for after uttering those words the Warlock evidently was taken by fright and dropped the object onto the cold cobblestone floor.
It was the scream of fear which carried a cold chill down your spine, the scream could not be produced by just anyone. The scream rebounded from the stone walls and into your ears, carrying with the vibrations; terror. Your eyes widened at the sound, and you noticed the Warlock emit a jolt and upon doing so he dropped to the floor - evidently dead. The rest of the Warlocks within the sanctuary came out of their privacy to inspect the chilling shriek only to find you standing next to the body, and a formless object next to it.
The Warlocks all looked at each other and then unto you, it was evident that they were formulating a theory. “Stand clear brothers, the fool got himself killed. Do not pity him, merely remark upon the fact that one should not deal with objects foreign to him, and especially brought by a filthy outsider!” The Warlock which had uttered those words lifted his hand towards you and suddenly you were gripped by a heat, an unbearable heat. The feeling scorched through your veins, it was as if you were experiencing the heat of magma without perishing. The screaming which escaped from your mouth indicated the unbearable pain the entirety of your body was forced to endure, you had no power to stop yourself from screaming, you were paralyzed.
It was the sound of an explosion which ceased the pain, the scorching heat. You fell like a lifeless body onto the floor, half-conscious of the things around you. “You fools! I knew I should have taken this object here by myself! Do not blame the adventurer for your folly, you are the ones that failed in your arrogance! You damned fools, you claim to know Dark Magic and yet upon contact with one you haven’t the slightest idea what to do!” “How dare you? That filth brought that object here! and we lost a fellow brother because of them!” “He died because he was as arrogant as the rest of you; he got what he deserved.”
The Warlock lifted his hand to the Mage but the Mage had already expected the attack, consequence of the continual hostile nature of the Warlocks. A blue light shot from his staff and onto the Warlock and the Warlock was encased in ice. The rest of the Warlocks shot a look of contempt towards the Mage but did nothing to help their comrade, for they had understood his words, “Do not pity him…”
You woke inside a room, your bed was made of straw and you were covered in a thin sheet of thread. There was no pillow. There was a sense of fear stuck inside your throat, it prevented you from groaning in pain. Perhaps it was the fact the object had killed a person. Perhaps it was the fact it had not killed you. What does one do in such a situation? Do they drop all which they’ve worked for so far and go home? You haven’t done that much anyway, at least not in towards finding something about the object, the death of the Warlock is but another matter.
Indeed, your joints are in tremendous pain, the magma which flowed through your veins has certainly not lost any amount of heat. Or at the very least, that is how you feel. There was a sudden creaking of a door, although the sound did not seem anywhere near you. You turned your head to the direction of the sound to examine said door but to no progress, the only door in your room, which separated you and the outside was closed. You understood that you were in a room somewhere, and the room was part of a whole building.
What was the purpose of the building? Was it an inn? The room was rather small and had a hard texture, that is to say, the floor and walls were all cobblestone. There was no art anywhere in the room, there were no plants, (as there was barely any light in the room, without the help of a candle beside you) it seemed as barren as a dungeon, and perhaps this was a dungeon. The idea shot in your mind, you are held in custody for murder. After all, if you had not come to the Warlocks no one would be killed. Indeed, this is what it must be about, you are now a prisoner all because of that wretched object.
Upon being paralyzed by the theory in your bed and a few minutes of contemplation, there was a creak of a door yet again although this time, it was your door. “I apologize if I intruded on your sleep, but I would like to talk to you as quickly as possible about this object.” You noticed he was speaking in a voice that indicates secrecy, he was whispering. You slowly turned your head towards him, it was the Mage, you barely heard what he had said since you were still contemplating on your theory. Although it seems the Mage had understood what you were thinking, because he watched you with a scrutinizing eye.
“You aren’t in any trouble, the guards came to inspect what had happened but found you were unconscious, a Warlock killed and another encased in ice, while I was alive and still a Mage. They believed me to be the guilty, and the Warlocks which were with me did not help me at all, but instead accused me of both crimes. Those snakes! That’s why I wish to come talk to you, I need to give you the information to find the origins of this object, the Warlocks don’t know what it is, and no Wizard in Nilgarf knows a single detail. I have little time, I must head out of Nilgarf before I am hanging at the gallows. Since you were unconscious I had to flee to a safe place and think because I needed to try and piece what had happened in that sanctuary before I came to your aid. My best guess is that the Warlock which had been killed was hostile to you, he likely wished to take the object from you since Warlocks are fond of their Dark objects.” He snorted and went on.
“As a result, the object defended itself from being taken arbitrarily from you. Which would mean it has a connection to you. One problem though, why then did it not kill me? What happened in that room, adventurer?”
You groaned and bent yourself up and supported yourself with your elbows, and as you opened your mouth to tell the tale, a shadow appeared on the door and the sound of walking with chain-mail boots were heard. Someone was approaching. It was evident that the Mage’s time has been cut short. The Mage sighed and began, “I’m sorry adventurer, I’ll leave the parchment containing the information I had sought to tell you in person, you’ll have to work with that. If I cause any disturbance and they find out I wanted to talk to you, you will also be accused. I had foreseen this, adventurer.”
And with that sad fate he left the parchment beside you and he simply pointed in a direction and disappeared. The chain-mail boots had reached your door and the guard entered the room to inspect why the door was open, upon entering the room he saw you asleep and the parchment nowhere in sight. You had hid the parchment under your sheets and pretended to be asleep, with your back to the guard so that he cannot see your face. With this sight, the guard could make no assumption of any fowl intentions, and thus closed the large wooden door. The slam of the door was the signal - you were safe.
As the hours passed you had discovered that you were in fact in a hospital, for they had suspected you to be terribly injured. The doctor patrolling the building came every now and then to inspect you, to give you food and water, and if any other things were needed such as extra sheets, those were fulfilled as well. Then it was the days that needed to pass, and they passed with a very slow speed, consequence of the lacking in anything to do.
You read the parchment over and over again in your free time, the words were engraved into your memory. "Adventurer, I do not know the precise story of what had happened in the sanctuary with the Warlock and I needed that piece of information to make my guess more precise. Since you are in possession of this parchment then I am left with no other option than to explain to you the process which I used in order to guide myself to the answer.
"The process is simple, the products of the object show the characteristics of it. If what I assume happened is true, that is, if the Warlock really did attack you and stole the object from you, and it was because of this he was killed, then the object knows you. It absorbed a part of you within it, like a fragment containing your soul or a part of your soul. What part could that be? I don’t know.
"Although, adventurer, if it was not the stealing of the object from your possession which resulted in the Warlock’s death, then there is a different reason. I need you to think adventurer, think about what had happened and try to pinpoint what resulted in the Warlock’s fate, that will be your key to finding information about this object. If you need my assistance I will not be there, I will be gone to another land. Although, before I had left Nilgarf permanently I had left information about you to trusted Mages.
“Adventurer, I bid you not to abandon this great task, I know you had not volunteered for it, but this object could very well be a sign, a sign of Evil coming to our land to destroy us. I am not sure, but I know it is an object of grave importance.” The first time you had read this parchment days and days ago, you were baffled at the lack of information. It had nothing that could help you find out information about this object, think he said, think about what? What’s there to think about?
Each time you have read this parchment an anger rose inside you, the anger was at the ridiculousness of it all. The ridiculousness of the fact there’s nothing on this parchment! You’ve thought about the object for the days in the hospital, and it was not until the last few days left in the hospital that you realized something… Where exactly was the object?
Depression loomed over you like a dreadful weight. The knowledge that you had lost the object deeply weighed upon your conscious, you had no idea which direction you should turn to, no knowledge of the next step. Your release from the hospital was imminent, and you desired that you could stay forever in the hospital, at least until you figured out a step. That way you can run from your failure - escape into the illusion of a progress you had created.
The hours passed slower and slower, you were in a mist of confusion. The mist was thick. Every thought you had raced through a structure to determine if it’s true or false, you had developed a voice that judged your thoughts as severely as an executioner. Each thought you had produced or rather each thought the will had produced was merely plausible by a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No.’ The voice had no mercy, it spoke in your mind like a deity with absolute power.
Although, as the time had passed there was one thought which the voice said ‘Yes’ to each time. The parchment contained the words “Although, before I had left Nilgarf permanently I had left information about you to trusted Mages.” You did not consciously know it, but the thought sprang from this simple sentence. The thought that you must find these trusted Mages, and your voice was the ‘Yes’ that guided you to the only truth your mind knew. The subconscious has taken form in the conscious.
You’ve dreaded this day, you’ve dreaded the wilderness you will be walking into. The thick forest within your conscious; there is no escape. Your release from the hospital has come at last, and to your great surprise you felt slightly better. You did not know this, but the lack of beauty in your room had made you more depressed. Indeed, the beauty of the wilderness was a warm welcome. There was only one direction to go - the trusted Mages the Mage had talked about.
You spent time finding information about where the Mages were located, some said that they were located in Nilgarf, others stated it would be foolish not to have set up a more remote region for themselves. Although, why then did the Warlocks exist in Nilgarf? As the hours passed the whole of Nilgarf has been searched, at least from your perspective, and it was evident there were no Mages to be found. You decided it was time for rest, you will search after some rest.
It was perhaps the noises of the chickens outside that had woken you, or perhaps it was the manifestation in your subconscious which now haunted you like a living spirit. Whatever it was, you awoke with a jolt and understood you had only one objective; find the Mages. You set out for your search again and while you were walking around the town square, you heard two persons talking in a whispering voice. You hid yourself and listened in…
"The Warlocks are in fury about what happened a month ago. We haven’t had this amount of hatred from them in a long time. The Mages accused them of lying and that the accused Mage is completely innocent of the crime, though that doesn’t explain how one of the Warlocks was encased in ice! The Warlocks became outraged at this saying that they’re clearly lying because of the Warlock-Mage relations.
The speaker stopped to catch his breath, and he continued, “It’s not looking good for the Mages, it’s dangerous now to even admit you are one, the Mage was also accused of having brought some kind of object. There’s no description anywhere about what the object is, only that one exists. That is very suspicious to me, wouldn’t you say?”
The speaker had concluded the last sentence with an air of evident contempt, and then a different voice began to speak. “I think the reason why it was never disclosed as to what the object was is because even the Warlocks don’t know what it is, and -” He was cut off by the first speaker, “You mean that the object is beyond the Warlocks?” With an obvious dislike at the first speaker’s rudeness, the second speaker continued,
"Yes. That’s exactly what I think. It seems to me that this object is in fact something beyond contemporary magic. It also seems that the Warlocks are hiding that away from people, probably because they’re incredibly arrogant about how they are the repository of all Dark Magic. The Warlocks could never admit failure.
"Although there is one thing that strikes me rather curious, if they were so arrogant they would have talked about having the object in their possession, and then demonstrating how they ‘understood’ it to the nobles of Nilgarf. That way they could prize themselves as better than the Mages.
“That is why I’m certain the object is now lost, the Warlocks have hushed up about it and the Mages haven’t said a word. I don’t think we can even say anything because we don’t know anything, -” When those vibrations had gone into your ear, you had understood one thing: they were Mages themselves.
You listened into the conversation again, “There’s no reason to think we have any knowledge on the whereabouts of the object, we would be studying the object together, all the Mages.” There was an evident anger in his voice, as if something was said that aggravated him. He continued,
“Anyways, there’s no further place for Mages here, the Warlocks have secured the trust of the nobles and we’re no longer trusted because of the incident.” There was a hint of nihilism in his voice, evident through an air of pessimism. “Thankfully we’re now securing the Enchanted Forest in the event of any Warlock attack, but -”
This was it, you thought! You knew where the Mages are now! There was no further use to be discovered from these two Mages, you knew what you needed to do now, get inside the Enchanted Forest. Although as you began get away from the scene, a powerful ‘No’ echoed inside your conscious. Then you realized, you had no idea of the whereabouts of the Enchanted Forest.
You came to listening to the two Mages again, “The issue is that there’s still going to be people coming into the Forest without permission, since Nilgarf is still hanging those damned banners. So the Mages will have to figure that one out, otherwise it will result in - well, the obvious.”
Although it was not obvious, you didn’t know what would happen, you stopped listening when you heard what you wanted to hear, and now you had no idea of what the obvious was and what banners they’re talking about. Though you realized one thing, there was no further use from them. Now you separated from them for good.
The Banner and The Forest
All right, for those of you who wonder why I wrote all this and instead didn’t make it a simple chain like the rest of every quest, it was because I enjoy making stories while at the same time providing what I had promised. I promised in the title a chain quest, you find an object, you try and look for someone who can help you which the Mage happens to be the first person who can do that, you are sent to the Warlock and stuff happens, and so on. If you wanted the pure chain quest part of this, simply take out the story aspect and you have it all. Again, I just like making stories.
Also, I screwed up in the text because I was tired, spoiling the future a bit. My bad, excuse me.