Rick loves writing fantasy novels, and has an unending passion for football, cricket and music.
- The Nestals (Chapter Three)
Felvin and Winjes finally arrive at Drohold. What surprises await them there??
Felvin woke up with a start. He looked outside his room window and gasped.
“Wake up Winjes!! We are late!!”
“Let me sleep some more Felvin. I am too tired", said Winjes sleepily.
“Do you want Master Grovan to come up here on the very first day itself?” asked Felvin.
“Fine, fine. I will get up."
By the time they got dressed and came down for breakfast, everyone else had left.
“Oh no. We are going to be the latecomers on the first day itself!” said Felvin.
“At least Master Grovan would remember us that way”, joked Winjes.
Felvin gave him a stern look, and proceeded towards the main door.
“Aren’t you eating anything?” asked Winjes.
“No. We are already late. I don’t want to make it worse”.
“I hate you Felvin!” saying this, Winjes put down his plate and followed Felvin.
Both of them came outside and started running aimlessly, not sure where everyone was supposed to meet.
“Where are we going?” asked Winjes.
“No idea. Just keep running. Hopefully we will find someone from our group”, said Felvin.
Soon, they saw a group of people assembled outside a tower that had a top shaped like an arrowhead.
“Do you think they are the newly joined ones?” asked Winjes.
“Yes, I see Valerie and the other girl that we met yesterday”, said Felvin.
They slowly approached the group. Master Grovan was standing in the middle giving some instructions.
“Oh no”, mumbled Winjes.
“So the last of your group have finally decided to come”, said Master Grovan as he saw them approaching.
Felvin and Winjes looked at each other. Felvin could feel the eyes of everyone on them. This was not at all how he wanted to start his training.
“Sorry Master Grovan. This will never happen again”, promised Felvin.
“It better not”, said Grovan. “I was just welcoming everyone officially here, and asking to introduce themselves so that you can get to know your group-mates better”.
“Hi all, I am Winjes..”, began Winjes.
“Not yet Winjes. If you had come earlier, you would have heard me telling everyone to introduce in a particular order – based on the places you come from. Starting with the northern-most region of Nestallion, Azoura, and ending at Zampark, the southern-most one”.
Winjes looked down immediately, his face red as a beet. Felvin saw Valerie chuckle slightly.
“So let us begin then”, said Grovan.
A boy and a girl walked to the centre. Both of them had red hair, but that was the only similarity that Felvin could notice. The boy was quite tall and the girl relatively short.
“I am Niza”, said the girl. “And I come from Azoura, which, as Master Grovan said, is the northern-most region of Nestallion”.
“My name is Mosin”, said the boy. “Also from Azoura”.
“Now let us meet the people from Mardon”, said Master Grovan.
Two other boys came forward this time and started introducing themselves. Baldor and Mikel were their names. Felvin was certain the he would not remember even half of these names by the time the introductions were over. They were followed by another boy-girl combination, but these two looked like mirror images of each other.
“Hi everyone. I am Lesdor”, said the boy. “And this is my twin sister, Lesnie. We come from Beylos”.
“Twins huh. Cool”, said Winjes.
“Rigoria next”, said Grovan.
“Come on Winjes”, said Felvin.
“Oh right, I almost forgot!”
They walked to the centre of the group.
“Hi all. I am Felvin, from Rigoria”.
“I am Winjes. And we are neither twins nor brothers”.
That brought about some laughter, but Master Grovan didn’t look amused at all.
And as they were going back to their positions, a girl came forward. Felvin’s heart skipped a beat. She was definitely the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. She had shoulder-length jet black hair, blue eyes and a small black mole on her chin which enhanced her beauty.
“How did I not notice her till now”, Felvin found himself wondering.
As she passed them, she gave him a smile, and the world seemed to have paused around Felvin. She had the most beautiful smile as well.
“Hello everyone. My name is Fiona, and I come from Nirgland”, said the girl.
“Hi Fiona, nice to meet you” was what Felvin badly wanted to say, but kept it to himself.
Three people came forward next: Zumair, Pririe and Layla, from Oshivin. And they were followed by Valerie who Felvin knew was a resident of Drohold.
“Hi all, I am Valerie, and I am the lucky girl who only had to travel 15 minutes to get here. My home is quite near, and I would like to invite all of you there soon”, Valerie finished with a broad smile.
Finally, the last two members of the group stepped forward, and Felvin recognized one of them: the girl from last night who was furious with them for ruining her sleep. She was accompanied by a boy who looked rather scared to be near her.
“Hi, I am Howan”, said the boy.
“And I am Besha. For those of you who don’t know, the place we come from, Zampark, comes immediately after Drohold when you name them from North to South, but it is the farthest from Drohold as well. We had to travel two whole weeks to reach here. So unlike some of you, we were not lucky enough to reach Pretonas in 15 minutes”, finished Besha, casting a cold glance at Valerie. She clearly was still mad about last night.
“I would never want to cross her”, Winjes murmured in Felvin’s ear.
Finally, Master Grovan came to the centre. “All right then. Now that the introductions are out of the way, let us get started. Once again, I would like to welcome you all to Pretonus, the official training institution of Nestallion. This is the place where young people like yourselves would begin your journey to be a true Nestal. So my first question to you is, how much do you know about us Nestals?”
“We worship the Rainbow God, and the colours of the rainbow have quite a lot of significance for us”, said one of the twins, the boy whose name Felvin had already forgotten.
“Yes. We worship Nestallidos, the God of Rainbow, and it is his blessings that give us the magical powers that we possess. The powers which reside in this band”, said Grovan raising his right arm.
He continued, “As all of you might already know, this band would magically appear around our right wrist after we have reached the age of 10. In some people, it would come the day after they turn 10, in some others, it might take a couple of years more. But all Nestals will have it before they turn 13, and this band is the proof of all blessings that Nestallidos showers upon us”.
“What about the colours of the bands Master?”, asked the boy from Mardon, whose name once again eluded Felvin.
“Haven’t your parents explained about that Baldor?”, asked Grovan.
Baldor looked down, his face reddening.
“For those of you who don’t know, these bands have the colours of the rainbow. Everyone starts with a violet band, and as we grow more powerful, the colour changes to the next one in the rainbow sequence. I know all of you have a violet one now, but before the year is out, some of them are going to change to indigo. It all depends on how hard you are willing to work and how serious you take your training here”, finished Master Grovan.
“You have a red band Master. How long did it take you to get that?”, asked the boy who came with Besha.
“Years of training and hard work, Howan. You all have a lot to achieve before you even start thinking about a red band. So don’t get too far ahead of yourselves”, said Grovan.
“So does having the red band mean that you have attained the peak of your powers?”, asked Winjes, to Felvin’s surprise. “It is the last colour in the rainbow right”.
“For most people, yes”, replied Grovan. “But there are two more colours you can attain – White and Black. Only the most powerful of Nestals get them. There have only been seven Nestals in our entire history who have attained a White band”.
“And the black one?”, asked Felvin. Somehow he felt Grovan was trying to avoid speaking about the black band.
“Only two”, replied Grovan.
“So does that mean black is the most powerful?”, asked Valerie.
“No it doesn’t”, said Grovan. “Both the white and black bands are equally powerful. It is just the choices you make that determine what colour your final band would become. If you decide to practice the most darkest of arts and indulge in terrible acts, then you could end up getting a black band. Only two Nestals have gone to those extreme levels so far in our history. I am telling you all this not to scare you, but to remind you to always follow the path of light. You wouldn’t even want to think about the black band hereafter. You all needed that information, but never ever pursue it. That will do you no good at all”.
“But those two Nestals with the black band are long gone right?”, asked Winjes with a trace of fear in his voice.
“One is still around”, said Grovan and looked to the distance as if in deep thought.
There was a long pause. Everyone looked around as if expecting that one person with the black band to pop up in front of them.
“Don’t be scared, he is not going to come here”, said Grovan, sensing the general tension.
“What about the white band Master?”, asked Felvin. “You said there were seven in our history right? Are any of them still alive?”
“Yes, our current leader – Marvellin”, replied Grovan.
That came as a relief to everyone. Atleast they had a really powerful Nestal with them here at Pretonus.
“And he will be addressing you all tomorrow”, said Grovan. “He will explain to you about the various training paths that are available to you here, and how you can identify the one that best suits your skills and interests”.
“How many paths are there Master?”, asked Fiona.
“Six, and I can explain them to you if you want. But the tradition is for Marvellin to do that every year, and you wouldn’t want to miss a chance to hear it from our leader himself. I can name them now though. Harlers, Kilters, Linkers, Palmers, Healers and Karters – these are the six paths that are available to you. And what each of you end up doing depends on you more than anyone else”, finished Grovan.
Felvin had heard about all these paths during his time at Rigoria, but the only one he was really familiar with was ‘Harlers’, as that was what his mother ended up choosing. Harlers were the warriors who were destined to protect the whole of Nestallion. He wondered what the other paths were.
“Anyway you have the rest of the day free today. Use it to explore this place and familiarise yourself with all the towers here. Marvellin will address you first thing tomorrow, and then you all will actually begin your training here”, said Master Grovan.
So one by one, people started dispersing and walking in different directions.
Felvin would have loved nothing more than walking up to Fiona and having a proper conversation with her, but that had to wait. The events of the previous night were still fresh in his mind, and he wanted to discuss them with Master Grovan.
“Mate, what are you waiting for? Shall we go and see what all these weird towers are?”, asked Winjes from behind.
“You go ahead, I wanted to ask Master Grovan something. I will be with you in no time”, said Felvin.
Winjes looked sceptical, but walked away without much protest.
Felvin took a deep breath and walked rapidly towards Master Grovan who was already on his way to the tower with the arrowhead-top.
“Maser Grovan!”, Felvin called from behind.
Grovan halted and looked back at Felvin.
“Yes Felvin? Is there something you wanted to ask me?”
“Well…Master…I…I wanted to discuss something with you”, Felvin hesitated for a moment, wondering how to explain what he had seen yesterday to Master Grovan without sounding crazy.
“I am all ears”, said Grovan.
The rest of his sentence got drowned in a high-pitched scream that was coming from somewhere nearby.
“What was that??!!”, Grovan rushed to the source of the sound, his right arm raised as if preparing for a duel.
Felvin ran behind Grovan and before long, they reached the source of the scream.
Almost everyone in their group formed a circle in front of one of the towers which was shaped like a tree.
“Clear the way please!”, shouted Master Grovan and moved to the centre of the circle, where a girl was lying face down, holding her arm.
Felvin moved closer as the girl slowly raised her head – it was Valerie.
“Valerie?? What happened?? Why were you screaming?”, asked Master Grovan, looking rather worried.
“I think someone just tried to attack me Master”, said Valerie, half sobbing.
“As I was walking towards this tree-shaped tower, someone grabbed me by my left elbow from behind. As soon as I turned, I felt a blinding pain in my arm, as though someone sent a shock through it. And all I could do was scream”, saying this she started crying.
Fiona moved towards her and raised her up.
“It’s okay Valerie, you are safe now”, said Fiona.
“Did you manage to catch a glimpse of this person?”, asked Master Grovan.
“No Master. Like I said, as soon as I turned, pain shot through my left arm and I lost track of all my senses. By the time the pain subsided a bit, there was no one here.”
“How is you arm now?”, asked Master Grovan.
“It still hurts, but it is bearable”, replied Valerie.
“Come with me. I will take you to Grosea, one of our chief Healers here. We need to take a proper look at that arm and make sure there was no lasting damage. Rest of you, please go back to your rooms. It is not safe to wander around until we know for sure what happened here”, saying this, he put an arm around Valerie and started walking towards another tower nearby which had the shape of a heart.
One by one, everyone started making their way back to their rooms.
“What in the world was that all about?!” Winjes exclaimed as soon as he and Felvin entered their room. “Did this have something to do with what you were telling Master Grovan?”
“What? I didn’t even get to tell him anything. I have no idea what happened there”, retorted Felvin.
“Alright, just asking. Don’t get all worked up. I am going down to eat something. Feeling super hungry thanks to skipping breakfast for nothing. You want to come?”, asked Winjes.
“No, I think I am going to lie down for a while”, said Felvin.
“Okay then, I will see you later”, saying this, Winjes left the room.
Felvin was feeling so confused. Did the attack on Valerie have something to do with what he saw yesterday? His head seemed to be spinning.
Just as he was about to lie down, he noticed something strange. Someone had left a note on his pillow.
Felvin took a step back. Did someone enter their locked room while they were outside? Had to be someone inside Pretonus then.
Felvin picked up the note and opened it: “This attack on your group-mate was just a warning. The next time you try to tell someone about what you saw, there will be death”.
© 2020 Rick Jones