Episode 3: Ore You Kidding Me?

         Fynn, paladin, hero of Azirin, defender of Stonehaven.

         Terrible miner.

         The young paladin stood near a seam of dark metal, nicknamed “farinslate”, carefully inspecting it for the perfect place to land his first blow. He was holding one of the ancient tomes from the Academy of Leren, hoping it might grant him some insight. It was titled The Art of the Ore. Apparently, an ancient mining tycoon from Utrecht had authored it eons ago, detailing how to enchant mining tools to draw the most ore from the ground below. If Fynn struck the right place, he would practically shatter the seam and simply scoop up his reward.

         Of course, that hadn’t been the experience thus far.

         Instead, the enchantment had nearly backfired, splintering the first two pickaxes before he even got to use them. The third time around, the entire seam had ignited in a very hot flame.

         Each time, the book had reassured him that mastery of the swing, the contact against the ground, when done correctly, would bring surefire success.

         So he set the book down, pulled back the pickaxe one more time, hoisted it high above his head, and dropped it right into a small groove that should have perfectly separated in response. Except it didn’t. Instead, the pickaxe lodged right into the stone. Fynn tugged, then pulled, and then downright heaved. The pickaxe had practically fused with the surface.

         “That’s it!” he shouted, kicking the book away. “It’s a bunch of hooey!”

         He turned from the seam and noticed he was being watched.

         Iliera Starfall, defender of Xernia, and Fynn’s trainer in the use of Luminary magic, had approached him while he was focused on the seam of ore. Her massive shield rested across her lap, and she held a purple gem in her bare hand, slowly turning it over and over.

         “What’s that?” Fynn asked, stepping away from his latest failure. “You crafting something?”

         “It’s a soul shard,” she replied without looking away from the gem.

         “Soul shard? That’s a strange name for a—” he stopped mid sentence. “Wait. Is that, like, a gem that’s made out of an actual soul?”

         “In a manner of speaking,” she replied.

         “Isn’t that Yunai magic stuff? I thought you hated anything Yunai.”

         Iliera finally glanced at him, her golden eyes looked sad, like she was lost in a bad memory. “I abhor the Yunai,” she replied.

         Fynn, clearly not following, stepped closer. “So why you carrying around a piece of someone’s soul? That seems pretty dark. Does this have to do with Kaellax and Sionis going missing?”

         “That’s where they found it,” she admitted. “Sionis’ last known location.”

         “Do you think… is that Sionis’ soul?!”

         Iliera shrugged. “I do not know.”

         “We should find out,” Fynn said, suddenly eager.

         “The Academy of Hope has someone working on it. I met a warlock named Ailyn. She has offered to try looking within the shard, but she needs time to prepare.”

         “Maybe we could—”

         “For now, we wait,” Iliera said, offering Fynn a warm smile. “How goes your mining?”

         Fynn, realizing that the discussion of the shard was over, turned back to where his pickaxe was resting in the ferinslate and gestured with a wide sweep of his arm. “Behold, the art of the ore.”

         The Musfurin paladin stepped over to the pickaxe and inspected Fynn’s work. She gestured toward the book. “Bring that here, would you?”

         Fynn did as she asked, picking the book up and handing it to her while she continued to look over the seam. When she had the book in hand, she turned through the pages, carefully flipping through the original writing and the translated notes that had been shoved inside of it by one of the few that could understand the ancient language.

         “Maybe it was translated poorly,” Fynn suggested. “Or maybe the guy that wrote this book was just a hack.”

         “Perhaps,” Iliera mused. “Or, perhaps you simply haven’t figured it out yet.”

         “I’ve been at it all day,” Fynn countered. “I’m pretty adept at these things.”

         “No one is a master in a day.”

         “Well some of us don’t have an eternity to get better at our craft.”

         Iliera chuckled. “No, I suppose that much is true.”

         She reached down and placed her hand on the pickaxe. With a gentle tug, it pulled free from the stone.

         “Schmowzow!” Fynn shouted. “How did you—”

         Before he could finish his question, Iliera hoisted the pickaxe over her head with tremendous force. It came down against the seam with a resounding thud and energy shot through the many cracks and crevices that were etched within.

         As she lifted the tool, she gave a gentle tap to the seam with her foot. It crumbled into dust with only metallic deposits left littering the top of the rubble.

         “There you have it,” she said cheerily. “Ferinslate.”

         Fynn was dumbfounded. “You figured that out from the book?”

         “No,” she said. “I learned that many years ago from my own trainer. I agree with you. The book is nonsense. You’ll have to become a skilled miner in another way.”

         “Can’t you just teach me?”

         She grinned. “Would you like me to teach you?”

         “Uh, yes!” he said. “You just vaporized a pile of rocks! What else can you do?”

         “Forever my student, then,” she said, handing the pickaxe to him. “I train you to wield the power of the Luminous One, now I will teach you to harness the pickaxe.”

         Fynn’s eyes glistened with excitement.

         “You can start by picking up the felslate chunks from this deposit.”

         “Aww man, chores?”

         Iliera nodded. “Chores.”

         “Alright,” he grumbled. “It better be worth it.”

         “Oh, I assure you young one, it’s worth it.”

To be continued…

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