Chapter 2 - World of Mana

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World of Mana
Moonless Age chapter
Postcard Chapter 2 - World of Mana.png
Main characters
Related locations
Related factions

Chapter 2 of Moonless Age tells the story of Ariel Val'Sarghress as she leaves the Sarghress Fortress for the first time in her life. It chronicles her journey to Orthorbbae and the hardships of her first year of school.

Summary

Courtyard Duel

The chapter begins with Ariel having been led outside the main Sarghress keep while Kel'noz retrieves her belongings, under the guard of Seb'rath. As Ariel played with a wolf, a gathering formed in the courtyard, drawing the pair's attention. As the pair approached the scene, they found Koil'dorath, Commander of the Assault Legion and Ariel's sister, and Quill'yate, commander of the Highland Raiders. As the two commanders prepared to duel in a training bout, Seb'rath explained to the young Ariel just who the pair were, much to her excitement. As the duel began, the seasoned combatants initially limited themselves to swords, before eventually progressing to intense displays of sorcery. Ariel soon became concerned for their well being, however Seb'rath pointed out that it is important the the pair maintain the respect and control of their troops by fighting properly, and that they were going easy on each other as it was. Eventually the two warriors tired and ended the bout, both separating to drink and rest.

Meeting Aunt Quill’yate

As Quill’yate passed by to wash her face in a nearby pool, Seb'rath called out to her. Quill'yate promptly took note of the young Ariel, who introduced herself and stated her amazement at the battle. Smiling, Quill'yate sat down beside Ariel and greeted the young girl as her niece. As Ariel started in confusion, Quill’yate explained that she is her aunt (though not by blood) due to having a close bond with her mother, Quain'tana, that was formed through centuries of serving alongside one another in battle. Quill'yate then remarked that she has not been home for nearly 10 years, searching for riches in the overworld, and that the young child was likely not yet born when last she left.

Noting her shy demeanor, Quill'yate decided to ask Ariel about her mother, causing Ariel to become somewhat nervous. Seeking to reassure Ariel, Quill'yate told Ariel a story about a surface species of big cats, which toss their cubs down cliffs. Though Ariel found this cruel and did not like the story, Quill’yate explained that the animals are trying to ensure that the progeny they raise are strong enough to climb back up the cliff, and thus is likely to survive to adulthood.

Quill'yate then asserted Quain’tana's actions with Ariel are much the same; they may seem cruel, but the hardships will make Ariel stronger, and her mother will eventually recognize her when she proves her strength. Though called away for another training bout against Quain'tana, Quill'yate encouraged Ariel to make her mother proud. The meeting left a lasting impression upon Ariel, who became determined to succeed and earn recognition from her mother.

Journey to Orthorbbae

Kel'noz eventually returned to Ariel with her belongings, and the pair departed the fortress upon the back of a wolf. Kel'noz took the opportunity to point out the various sights along their path, answering Ariel's questions as they traveled. He succeeded in fostering the young child's curiosity, and she loudly proclaimed her desire to explore the entire world, much to his amusement. His lectures soon took on a sterner mood as they passed the Val'Sarghress gate to the Overworld, explaining both the importance of the gate and the dangers that lie beyond. Eventually the two began passing the territory of other clans, and Kel'noz explained each clan's relationship to their own, as well as the dangers that lie within Chel. The pair eventually reached Orthorbbae, the school for the clans, and Kel'noz roused Ariel from an unpleasant dream.

Meeting the Other Clans

Kel’noz and Ariel were then forced to wait for the other clans to arrive, in order to enter the tower. The first student to arrive was Gailen, who is the son of one of Kelnoz’s old friends, Ini’riia. Ariel was introduced by Kel'noz as his brother, and he stopped her before she could protest. Next to arrive was Nau'kheol, under the care of Sabrror. Ariel considered both to be unfriendly, and Nau'kheol in particular reminded her of Syphile due to his tainted red eyes. Sorane'saniil then arrived, whom Ariel initially mistook for a girl. However he was simply a boy with long hair who is more effeminate than even Ariel, much to her irritation. Shortly thereafter, Mir'kiin arrived with his sister Kiel'ndia, promptly volleying insults at Sorane and Ariel for their feminine appearance.

As the growing group began to interact, Khal'harror arrived atop the Drider Knight Luth'el. Ariel regarded the boy as creepy, a view he did little to dissuade by revealing his golem-animated chicken skeleton named "Bob". Yafein arrived next, though Kel'noz noted his arrival to be several years early owing to an unspecified physical condition. For her part, Ariel initially ignored the boy in favour of hugging the large feline mount he arrived upon, to the consternation of the rider. After a significant delay, the eigth and final student Dra'jyal arrived, as his mechanical transport had broken down and he was forced to walk the rest of the way. Two of the great clans have no children to send to the boys section of Orthorbbae at this time, as the Val'Kyorl'solenurn completely segregate themselves and use a private school for their children, while the Val'Jaal'darya simply have no male children to send to the school.

First Day at Orthorbbae

With all the present students having arrived, Kel'noz led the group into Davya tower and instructed them on the six rules of the school: The first rule is that students may not leave the cavern of Orthorbbae without permission; secondly, male students are forbidden from entering the lower levels of the schools where the female students reside, as they may be captured for use in experiments or studies and the headmasters will make no effort to recover them in such event; thirdly, students are forbidden from entering the rooms of any of the masters of the school; fourthly, it is forbidden to kill or wound a fellow student, though if a dispute results in a death students are encouraged to discreetly dispose of the body; fifthly, students are to obey the commands of the masters, who are free to expel students from their classes at their discretion; and finally, all students are provided a keystone that provides access to school resources, the loss of which will result in loss of access to the school itself.

Learning how to use these keystones was the classes' first lesson, with each of the students tasked with imbuing the stones with a portion of mana from their own aura. Each of the students did so, with varying degrees of difficulty. Once all of the students had successfully powered their keystones, Kel'noz trained them in the first of their uses: Activating the personal floaters used to move between levels of the towers. Recognizing the futility of preaching caution to the excited students, Kel'noz allowed the children to learn through humiliating and painful experience the costs of reckless piloting, though he noted with interest that Ariel was using innate wind sorcery to assist her control.

The remainder of the day was spent introducing the students as to the layout of the school's facilities, after which they were shown to their rooms to rest. Kelnoz then visited Ariel, informing her of the need for her to pretend to be a boy for the next few years. When Ariel objected, Kel'noz explained that this demand was for her own safety, as the male students would resent her for her gender and make her like much more difficult. After Ariel reluctantly accepted, Kel'noz encouraged her to make friends with Yafein, whom Ariel had earlier shown interest in, as it is always useful to have a study partner from an allied clan.

After some hesitation, Ariel went to Yafein's room, introducing herself as the son of Quain'tana. Though Yafein initially suffered from a nervous stutter while introducing himself, Ariel was quickly able to pique his interest by discussing their mutual interest in cats and ferals. As Yafein warmed to the conversation, Ariel noted his stutter to have disappeared, much to the boy's own surprise.

Classes

The next day, the students attended their first class, under Master Soleam'ji Sullisin'rune. After his lecture on mana and the elements was rudely interrupted by Mir'kiin, he demonstrated some of the many potential applications of sorcery by disciplining and humiliating the young boy. Soleam'ji then spoke of the different divisions between the elements in the world, and how mana is used to control them. With his first lessons complete, Soleam'ji turned his attention to testing the young students for their particular elemental alignment, identifying sorcery that the students may have an innate affinity for. Ariel was discovered, to her joy, to have an affinity for Air sorcery. However, she also displayed a peculiar reaction to the blood element, causing Soleam'ji to label biological elements as hazardous to her until she could speak with a specialist master on the subject. Each of the other students was also tested; Khal'harror was found to possess an affinity for bone; Yafein an affinity for earth; Mir'kiin an affinity for fire; Dra'jyal an affinity for metal; Sorane an affinity for sound (commong among the Illhar'dro); and for Gailen, the rare affinity for wood and herbs. Alone of all the students, Nau'kheol was found to posses no particular affinity.

Afterwards, Ariel talked more with Yafein and then went to the Mathematics and science class with the rest of the group, under the care of Master Rae. Though Ariel initially had little issue with her studies, she quickly grew to dislike the class for its tedious and difficult content, declaring her hatred for maths. She was not the only student to succumb to boredom, as Mir'kiin in particular acted out numerous times during the class and was subjected to Rae'uul's strict discipline.

Fortunately for Ariel, their next class was on subject of history, taught by a visibly-aged drow named Tralyn who was not affiliated with any clan. Tralyn quickly proved to be a capable tutor, captivating the students with an intense series of lectures and lessons on varying subjects. After the class ended for the day, Nau'kheol asked Tralyn why he introduced himself without a clan name. Partially evading the question, Tralyn responded that a lack of affiliation allows for an unbiased view of history.

Searching for the Ninth Tower

As their history class ended, Yafein noted that everything in their school is arranged around the number nine, as was stated by Tralyn. However there are only eight towers in the school, and all the towers have a top floor with a door that leads nowhere. As Yafein speculated that there may have been a ninth tower at some point, Ariel decided they should investigate in order to see what was behind these doors.

Using their floaters to ascend to the top of the Davya tower, they came to an ornate and stylized door. Ariel attempted to use her keystone to activate the door, but there was no visible effect. Before they could make any further attempts to open it, Kel'noz arrived, having ascended to the top of the tower to retrieve a metallic box from storage.[1] After Ariel explained their reasons for investigating, Kel'noz informed them that nothing lay beyond the door except a long fall to the ground below. As Ariel pressed the issue, an exasperated Kel'noz speculated that the door may once have been used as a Dragon landing by their ancestors, before the dragons lost their wings. He then sternly ordered the pair to return to their rooms and to stop acting recklessly.

The Headmasters of Orthorbbae

Shortly afterward, Kel'noz moved to attend a meeting with the other Headmasters of Orthorbbae, with the intent of revealing Ariel's gender and to request the other headmasters keep this knowledge suppressed. Before he could enter the meeting chamber, he encountered Tralyn, who informed Kelnoz that he was already aware of Ariel's gender and demanded to know why he should allow Ariel to stay at the school. Kel'noz requested the old master keep this knowledge a secret for the sake of the Sarghress clan's stability, allowing the matter to be handled between the masters of the school, but Tralyn remained unconvinced by what he viewed as an outside concern. As he asked Kel'noz for a better reason, the younger master argued that by raising Ariel (heir to a great clan) among males, it represented a powerful potential step towards gender equality. Satisfied with this response, Tralyn brought forth Master Soleam'ji's discovery of Ariel's possession of an innate high sorcery, encouraging Kel'noz to investigate the matter swiftly.

Kel'noz then entered the meeting room and was quickly chastised for his tardiness by Ashu'athama. As the headmasters moved to begin their reports, Kel'noz casually revealed Ariel's true gender and his desire to have this fact remain a secret. Some of the headmasters were aghast, noting both the risk of drawing Snadhya'rune's attention and the high likelihood of the secret eventually being exposed by Ariel's fellow students. Kel'noz accepted these arguments as valid, but insisted he was willing to take responsibility for any possible consequences. The eight headmasters then put the matter to a vote, with five responding in favour and two abstaining; with only Maliir'kha objecting. With this vote, Ariel was given official sanction to remain in Davya tower as a student.

Combat Training

Mir'kiin inadvertently discovers Ariel's true gender.[2]

The next day, the class met with their combat instructor for the year, Master Sandaur. As Khal'harror questioned the need for combat training over sorcery and golem use, he was given a smack on the back of the head by an annoyed Nau'kheol. Approvingly, Sandaur noted that such methods of combat will not save you from attacks you are unprepared for. To further stress the need for practical training, he brought in a large orc to demonstrate. Allowing the orc to draw it's hammer and dodging it's heavy swing, he ducked in and delivered a debilitating strike to it's nether regions.[3]

Afterwards, he began the process of training the young children in basic drills, emphasizing exercise and coordination. Ariel's concern grew when Sandaur assigned the children to spar with a partner. Though she tried to match herself with Yafein, Mir'kiin challenged her first. After briefly facing off, Mir'kiin caught Ariel off-guard with a grasping attack at her groin, still unaware of her gender. Enraged, Ariel forced Mir'kiin into a headlock, to the amused approval of Sandaur. As the bouts were called and the class ended, Mir'kiin stalked off in an uncharacteristic silence.

Kill the Girl

Nau'kheol and Mir'kiin attempt to murder Ariel.[4]

Now suspicious of Ariel, Mir'kiin gathered Nau'kheol and Khal'harror and followed Ariel as she spoke with Yafein. Once the group has come to an empty hallway, he called out to Ariel, shouting aloud an accusation of her true gender, causing Ariel to respond defiantly. As Nau and Mir'kiin moved in to attack Ariel, a panicked Yafein fled on his floater. Seeing her outnumbered, Khal'harror offered to aid Ariel in exchange for a year's servitude, much to Nau'kheol and Mir'kiin's irritation. When Ariel refused, the pair attacked as Khal'harror watched. Though she was able to hold her own, she was unable to make it past the boys and back to Sandaur. As Ariel began gaining the upper hand, Khal'harror offered Mir'kiin a knife he had stolen from the earlier combat class. Mir'kiin gleefully took his opportunity to stab Ariel in the side while she wrestled with Nau'kheol.

Wounded and now aware the boys had a lethal intent, Ariel fled on her floater, causing Nau and Mir'kiin to give chase. Though Nau'kheol quickly lost control of his floater, Mir'kiin was able to catch up with Ariel as she entered the tower's central access tube. While Ariel was able to ram Mir'kiin and force him to drop his dagger, he was able to recover quickly and stole Ariel's keystone from her floater, causing her to plummet into the forbidden lower floors. Ariel instinctively used air sorcery to slow her descent, but it was not enough to prevent further injury as she crashed into a shallow pool in the lowest level of the tower.

Faen

As Ariel lay heavily wounded, a female student appeared and attempted to help her. However, another girl soon approached and told Faen to ignore Ariel and walk way, as Ariel was certain to die. Faen refused to follow this advice, causing an agitated Chrys'tel to leave. Faen prayed to the goddess, Sharess, hoping she would grant the strength needed to heal Ariel. While Faen was unable to heal Ariel fully with her empathy, she was able to stabilize Ariel's condition enough to ward off death. Helping Ariel to her feet, Faen led Ariel out of the depths of the school and into the female section of Orthorbbae.

Characters

Main Characters

Portrait Ariel Val'Sarghress arc1.png
Ariel is a young Sarghress girl attending school at the Orthorbbae disguised as a male.
Portrait Kel'noz Val'Sarghress.png
Kel'noz is the headmaster of Davya Tower and the older brother of Ariel Val'Sarghress. It is under his guidance that she is attending the male section of Orthorbbae.



Orthorbbae Students

Portrait Chrys'tel Vel'Sharen arc1.png
Chrys'tel is an older student from the girl's school. She is Faen's roommate.
Portrait Dra'jyal Kal'yantra arc1.png
Dra'jyal is a classmate of Ariel's at Orthorbbae.
Portrait Faen'arae Val'Sullisin'rune arc1.png
Faen is a kind, older student from the girl's school who saved Ariel's life in her first year of school.
Portrait Gailen Val'Nal'sarkoth arc1.png
Gailen and his pet tiktikki attend school alongside Ariel.
Portrait Khal'harror Val'Beldrobbaen arc1.png
Khal'harror is a spunky Beldrobbaen that attends Orthorbbae in Ariel's class.
Portrait Mir'kiin Vel'Vloz'ress.png
Mir'kiin is a rude, loudmouthed Vloz'ress boy in Ariel's class.
Portrait Nau'kheol Vel'Sharen arc1.png
Nau'kheol is a Vel'Sharen boy in Ariel's class. He hates girls and the Val'Sarghress clan.
Portrait Sorane'saniil Val'Illhar'dro arc1.png
Sorane'saniil is an effeminate classmate of Ariel.
Portrait Yafein Val'Sullisin'rune arc1.png
Yafein is a meek classmate of Ariel whom she quickly befriends.



Orthorbbae Masters

Portrait Ashu'athama Val'Sharen.png
Ashu'athama is one of the headmasters of the male "legs" of the Orthorbbae.
Portrait Feral'ssin Val'Sullisin'rune.png
Feral'ssin is one of the headmasters of the male "legs" of the Orthorbbae.
Portrait Jhin'elam Val'Illhar'dro.png
Jhin'elam is one of the headmasters of the male "legs" of the Orthorbbae.
Portrait Maliir'kha Vloz'ress.png
Maliir'kha is one of the headmasters of the male "legs" of the Orthorbbae.
Portrait Naubol'oth Val'Beldrobbaen.png
Nabul'oth is one of the headmasters of the male "legs" of the Orthorbbae.
Portrait Rae'uul Ganith.png
Rae'uul is the master of maths and science.
Portrait Sandaur'recherai Val'Illhar'dro.png
Sandaur is the combat instructor for Ariel's first year.
Portrait Soleam'ji Val'Sullisin'rune.png
Soleam'ji is the master of mana arts.
Portrait Teji'tsuke Kyorl'solenurn.png
Teji'tsuke is one of the headmasters of the male "legs" of the Orthorbbae.
Portrait Tirre'nolt Val'Nal'sarkoth.png
Tirre'nolt is one of the headmasters of the male "legs" of the Orthorbbae.
Portrait Tralyn the Clanless.png
Tralyn is the master of history.



Other Characters

Portrait Dude.png
Dude drove Dra'jyal Kal'yantra to Orthorbbae, but stayed behind to fix the cart when it broke down.
Portrait Ini'riia Val'Nal'sarkoth.png
Ini'riia drops Gailen off at Orthorbbae. She is an old friend of Kel'noz.
Portrait Kiel'ndia Vel'Vloz'ress arc1.png
Kiel'ndia is Mir'kiin's older sister. She drops him off at Orthorbbae.
Portrait Koil'dorath Nori'fu Val'Sarghress.png
Koil'dorath is Ariel's adopted older sister. She has a sparring match with Quill'yate just outside the Sarghress gate.
Portrait Luth'el Beldrobbaen.png
The Drider Knight serves as both both escort and mount to Khal'harror.
Portrait Mel'arnach Val'Sarghress.png
Mel'arnach appears to Ariel in a terrifying dream on the way to Orthorbbae.
Portrait Quill'yate Yurun'hiir Sarghress.png
Quill'yate is Ariel's honorary aunt. She has a sparring match with Koil'dorath just outside the Sarghress gate.
Portrait Sabrror Vel'Sharen.png
Sabrror is Nau'kheol's father and guardian on the road to Orthorbbae.
Portrait Seb'rath Sarghress.png
Seb'rath is the guard assigned to watch Ariel while Kel'noz retrieves her belongings so they can depart for Orthorbbae.
Portrait Yuleaer Val'Sullisin'rune.png
Yulear is Yafein's escort on the way to Orthorbbae.





This article reflects events up to chapter 2.

Sources:

  1. chapter 2 page 63
  2. chapter 2 page 75
  3. chapter 2 page 72
  4. chapter 2 page 80