In his tiny vessel Kar examined what seemed like the empty air. He was miles away from the closest island, and the water in front was surging wildly. Kar let his craft move forward....and felt the ship move sharply to the left a long distance before return back to the path. Using his command of the wind, Kar turned his ship back again. As the ship approached the area again, Kar spoke the word commonly used to ward off curses.
From the emptiness suddenly there was a great land. It easily eclipsed any of the nearby islands, and Kar anchored on the west shore. There were houses, and none of the residents were surprised at seeing Kar. They only pointed toward the center of the island where Kar's destination lied.
A little boy handed Kar a bag before dashing off. Kar looked and saw the grain of the island. Kar thanked the boy who was no longer there and ate, for he was hungry from hunting so long. Yes, he had hunted and found what he sought: The Island of FluffyBunnyPwn.
For ten years he had searched for the mythical land. As a child he had heard stories about the heroes who came from the island. They were the best of all heroes. After becoming a mage, Kar sought out more stories about the island from all regions. From various storytellers he learned of many adventurers who tried to find the island but always failed. For hundreds of years none had been able to find the island. While at the palace of the Prince of Rewald, Kar had discovered The Book of Tyn, the adventurer who thought he had a clue as to where the island was. After reading the parts he wanted, Kar went to the great city of Albaha and traded that book for unlimited access to the Mage Guild's library. From there Kar heard of the many sailors who had tried to sail between Gordon and Bleu, but always the powerful currents took them away. And among the bandits of Aman, Kar learned from the sailors about the region and became convinced that a powerful magic concealed the island. And Kar was right, for a powerful illusion had been placed to protect the island.
Kar journeyed nearer towards the center and found one of the temples. According to the legends and stories, the Island of FluffyBunnyPwn had been created by the god FluffyBunnyPwn. It began as an empty island. Gradually people settled the island and paid their respect to the god. Then more gods arrived at the island. It was said that the second god liked to take the form of a hawk and was thus called Soaringhawk. Immediately afterward another god arrived. This one took the form of a dragon and the people called him domodragon. How they pronounced the lowercase d none remember. The three gos fought amongst themselves for supremacy, for it is the belief of the people that make the gods strong. Though FluffyBunnyPwn had been the first, soon the other two gods had their own following. After countless conflicts an acceptable peace was agreed upon, though a strong rivalry remained. Thanks to the calm, other minor gods tried to populate the island.
And the temple Kar saw had a statue of a cat without eyes. The place was empty, and no one had tended the temple for years, for many creatures had made it their own. Kar continued his way and found a village.
"What is the temple with the cat without eyes?" Kar asked.
"That is a minor god. She came after domodragon," the man struggled to make the lowercase d sound. "But she did nothing and found little support. No one knows her name anymore. It has been too long,"
Kar stared at the young man and then smiled. "Do you mind being my guide around the island?"
"Oh no!" the man responded. "There are fearsome creatures around, and if you meet then you'll be in trouble. And some of the others here...aren't so friendly,"
"Is it because of the gods?" Kar guessed.
"Most of the people in this town believe that domodragon is superior. Others think it is FluffyBunnyPwn. And a few think Soaringhawk is worthy to believe in. It's friendly here because we can accept our differences. But...others are less than willing. They would not kill us or else the gods would get angry, but...they would make life miserable,"
"I am a mage. If it's danger you fear, I will ward them off. And if it is payment you want I have my services to give."
"No, no sir. the gods are enough for us. There is no need. i will guide you because I am a kind person,"
"Thank you. Er, your name is Esmond, correct?"
"Yes, sir. I am aware that mages can find the names of strangers easily."
As they walked, Kar asked, "How many gods are on this island?"
"First was FluffyBunnyPwn. He is, I think, the strongest, but my town favors domodragon. And then there is Soaringhawk. He has a few followers here and there, but his support is never concentrated. He is the third most powerful. The blind cat's temple you saw, but the god herself never appears. There was another minor god, I think a turtle. She caused trouble against gods from another place and left as soon as the issue was settled. And the other one...I forget his name, but his shape...that was unforgettable. It was the most grotesque thing I've ever seen. He is gone as well. And right now a mischievous god came along calling himself MonkeyKidd. And another cat god as well. It looks like there's a lot of gods, but the only strong ones are Soaringhawk, domodragon, and FluffyBunnyPwn,"
Kar thought about this and then moved on. "And their temples..."
"In the center the three temples are kept. Even though there are followers of all...temperament there," Esmond quickly filled the noticeable pause. "Now the grandest of the temples is domodragon's. The others usually call his temple a waste because it is overly magnificent. Soaringhawk's doesn't have much, but it's very practical and it works. And FluffyBunnyPwn's is the largest of them all. And sometimes the gods show themselves to us. Maybe you'll get to see them. Especially domodragon. What an amazing sight he is."
"I've seen dragons before," Kar said.
"Not like domodragon. He puts other dragons to shame. Next to him, they all look like ordinary birdsa nd beasts,"
Snow fell from the sky. Just seconds ago the bright summer sun shone proudly. Now darkness covered the sky. Esmond was thrilled.
"Aha! Snow! What a relief! It's been such a long time since we've had snow. Maybe three years. Come! We must go back. It is impossible to continue."
Kar followed Esmond back to town. The children were outside, filled with joy. And even Kar was happy as well. Once inside Esmond's house, Kar asked a question.
"You live by yourself?"
"Of course! I'm not a child anymore. I make my living by mining up near the mountains. Though in this weather work won't be possible." Esmond trailed. "And as for food there's plenty of smoked meat left. I haven't had anything fresh for a while. Oh! And some pickled vegetables. I forgot that Lady Margret brought some for me,"
The day ended, and the snow continued to fall. Kar woke up to find Esmond carving wood. It fit in the palm easily and resembled a bird. Kar thought that it was maybe Soaringhawk.
"You like carving those?" Kar took a a stoll and sat next to Esmond.
"Yes, though it's more of a hobby. Heh, you can probably make what I'm doing just like that, huh? Hours of work eliminated with magic. It must be great,"
"Maybe," Kar was slow to speak. "But there is nothing like the pride of a craftsman who loves his work,"
No one went outside. A great storm had developed. All the joy in seeing the snow was soon gone. Boredom and restlessness set in. Two weeks passed in such weather.
More than once Kar asked the question "Esmond, where are your heroes?"
And more than once Esmond had answered, "Not even heroes can bend nature's will,"
Finally Kar stepped out of the house. "Esmond, I thank you for your hospitality, but I leave to go to the center."
"Sir, you cannot! Not in this weather.Wait until it calms," Esmond pleaded. He had become attached to the foreigner.
"Surely even you know that this is not a natural occurrence. This is a storm made by spells. And the one doing this is powerful. Look! Even the gods are heading towards the center!"
As Kar pointed, four shining dots flashed across the sky. Esmond's eyes barely saw them, but there was no mistaking them for anything else.
"Sir, you say that a powerful mage is doing this. Let the gods handle the situation," Esmond nervously swallowed. "After all, we are nothing compared to them."
"It is no mage but an ancient entity.. One, I think, that might be strong enough to defeat your gods. Do not think that your gods are invincible. They are only as strong as the people that believe in them. And their enemy is one who existed before them. And perhaps it will continue to exist after them. I am only a simple seeker of stories, but I am strong enough as a mage."
"Sir! I wish to go with you, but I fear i am only a burden."
Kar did not hesitate. "They say a fool in his own house knows more than a sage in another's. Perhaps you can still be my guide. They will be at the center, perhaps at the grandest temple of them all. But I do not know the way there. Lead me there, Esmond."
Where they stepped wind and snow did not dare approach. They went towards the center of the island where the three major temples stood. As Kar predicted, sounds of combat echoed from domodragon's temple.
"Oh they have ruined it! They have ruined the temple!"
"And the followers as well, I think. come, we go inside,"
Inside were the dead bodies of the dozens of followers. And next to them were the corpses of frost goblins. Farther in, four gods in human form were fighting an eerie creature, one whose flesh was not flesh, yet looked and even felt like real flesh.
Esmond was spellbound by the sight.
"That is the Void Walker, I think," Kar explained. "it existed before your gods. I think in a different realm, one that is similar to where we dream. And it can move from one world to the other. Look,"
As one of the gods shot a mighty arrow, the Void Walker disappeared and reappeared elsewhere. But Kar's attention was no longer on the creature. Chained against the wall was a god, and next to the god was a human. Kr was sure of it.
A human strong enough to summon a storm for weeks, strong enough to fight evenly with the gods, Kar thought. And the Void Walker does her bidding. What human could do that? Kar thought through all the stories he had read and all the folklore he had heard. This human looked young, but Kar knew it was only an illusion. Who had knowledge of the Second Realm? Other than himself there were very few if anyone else. And to make the Void Walker a slave? Never in all the legends did the Void Walker submit to anyone. Yet now it did her bidding. Who could that human be? The gods called her Gen-Cara, but that was only a fake name, one for the sake of giving a name to something unnamed. But all creatures had a name. It may be lost, but finding it was still possible. Wait! It was a desperate attempt, but it was better than nothing.
From the scattered islands Kar had pieced together a story. A sailor had taken from the Island of FluffyBunnyPwn a beautiful girl. But not just any girl. She knew what no other woman knew: magic. She scared the mages because she was stronger than them. So they hunted her. From island to island the chase moved, and sometimes even inland. Finally they slayed her. Though, Kar thought, storytellers are also some of the biggest liars. That was the most common ending to the story, but that was because the islands with that ending were home to the mages who hunted the girl. They would have done anything to make themselves look good. On other islands the stories said that the girl was sometimes still seen. But Kar was sure that it was the same person. And an isolated story came from a part of Kar's memories and completed the story. On a small island, a man boasted that his ancestors once helped a sea goddess escape mages. She rewarded him by healing his eyes and giving him her name. That was the piece Kar needed.
And with that thought, Kar whispered her name. It was at this moment that one of the gods killed the Void Walker, and the witch flung the chained god to wards the rest. She fled up into the sky not in the form of a winged creature, but as a human.
"This world belongs to us!" one of the gods yelled.
"No...it belongs to them," the recently freed god pointed towards the sky.
Esmond immediately bowed and hoped that Kar would do the same, for the wrath of gods is no laughing matter.
Seeing the gods faces, Kar said," You are gods, but you are not my gods. I do not lower myself to you."
"And we are too tired to smite you,"
"Yes, that and because I saved your lives. You cannot kill her because she will always change forms, and they are all immortal, for they are not the flesh of this world. And one of you knows this, I think. She said that you saw. What did you see?"
The freed god said, "I saw the world before we came. Monsters from another place once lived here. They were strong, as strong as the Void Walker. But then their time was up, and they left. But they are being allowed back. But why now? That I cannot understand,"
"That is easy," Kar answered. "If it was any other time, I wouldn't be in the story. Though I think it is the witch who is speeding their entry into this world,"
"Then we must kill her. And you know the method,"
Kar nodded. "Her name. Bind her with her name, and she is forced to her true form,"
"Then tell us!"
"If I tell you, you will have no reason to keep me alive. No, the name is mine to know. And I know that you have ways of making me talk, but I have ways of dealing with that as well. Do not try me. Now, I think this is the middle of the story, yes?"