Chapter 2: Permission

There is no need to explain the worth of a year to those who are at the end of their lifespan. To others a year is just a year; an increment of time that will hold some lasting memories. But to a select few, the few that know they’re dying, and feel every minute and second pass them by, a year is everything…

In a foreign land; a land filled with mountains and rivers, forests and grasslands; a land so luscious and verdant that the exuberance of life was palpable, sat a man. This man was in a small clearing on top of the mountain, where the height plateaued, leaving it wide and flat. From the nearby forest, long branches spread their leaves shrouding a lot of that open space in shadow. That man did not sit near it. No. He sat at a far by a large pond, his eyes closed, where the bright rays of the sun brushed against his back.

The water was calm and gentle. The pond itself did not seem deep, but it was, and immeasurably so. Every few hours, the water would ripple as a twenty meter long, flying serpent swam to the surface. Gold scales glittered as its body jutted out when it moved.  

The man continued to stay seated in silence as if he had not noticed the creature, his legs crossed and his hands faced upwards on his lap in meditation. A cool breeze passed by, blowing his short hair back to reveal a thin copperish, red line down the middle of his forehead.

A few hundred meters away, a figure broke from the shadows of the forest. He wore a lush green robe, and smelled of mint. His walk was wide and unhurried. And even though he seemed like he was walking, the land beneath his feet was travelled a few meters in every step.

Ten minutes passed. The green-robed man approached the pond and came to a stop.He did not get closer than twenty meters, just standing there, waiting.

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Minutes passed. An hour. The man near the pond continued to sit there unperturbed; and the green-robed man seemed patient as he waited. It was when the flying serpent broke the water’s surface for the fifth time, did the man by the pond open his eyes.

“You have come,” said the man by the pond.

“I have come.”

The man by the pond stood up and smiled. He looked up and down the green-robed man and tapped his chin in thought. “Why is the one you chose so important?” 

Though he had asked the question, there was something about him that made the green-robed man believe he already knew the answer.

The green-robed man clasped his hands in salute. “Elkis, you know why I am here. As tradition follows, I ask permission.”

Elkis’s eyes narrowed. His pupils were like an eight pointed star, the iris around it being like dark grey crystal. They were unlike the man in the green robe. The stars were perfect. And with that perfection came an overwhelming pressure.

The green-robed man shuddered. He looked away, not wanting to stare into those eyes.

“Congratulations, Elkis, on your ascension.” The green-robed man said, his voice strained.

“You flatter. I have not ascended. Just near the apex. I am just luckier than you have been. How many years has it been since..?”

The green-robed man’s face twisted. “It will be five hundred next month.”

“Five hundred? Hah. Cutting it close aren’t we? If I were you, I would have chosen another long, long ago… which brings me to my previous question…” The man by the pond’s voice grew cold. “The question you were just trying to dodge. What’s so special about that one?”

The green-robed man kept silent. The wind blew. His robe fluttered. There was an unspeakable unease welling up inside him. He hoped and hoped, but he knew the other knew.

“Not going to say? I knew you wouldn’t.  I had not thought much of it back then, but as your five hundred mark grew so close, I was in doubt. So I sent one of my men to Northcroke City. That is the city you visited about fifteen years ago, wasn’t it?

The green-robed man trembled. He showed no expression on his face, but he was tense. Elkis was way more powerful than him. And as the seamless pressure Elkis exuded amplified, the air became chaotic.

Elkis’s body tensed. And when the green-robed man saw that, he jumped back and flicked his hand. A black fire, containing vestiges of blue and white within the flame exploded out, crackling around his palm.

Elkis, seemingly as if he knew how the green-robed man would act, had drawn back simultaneously with the other, widening the distance between them by a few meters. But unlike the green-robed man, he did not make any further movements.

“He he he. Though you don’t look it, you have lived for near five hundred years. I have lived less than half that and yet I am about to ascend. But I have reached this stage for two years already, and seem to be stuck. I just need a bit more… The one in Northcroke…” Elkis smiled. “He should do just fine. I will trade and give you another. After all, how much could he affect someone with such poor talent and luck. You deserve someone a bit more… appropriate; to complement you well.”

It was now that the green-robed man’s in face turned solemn. He had waited for so long; have fought so hard, and finally when he saw a chance, an opportunity, someone else wanted to take it from him?! “It’s too late. We have already formed a contract.” Said the green-robed man, his voice cold.

When Elkis heard that, he frowned and then laughed. “Well then, if the contract holder should perish untimely, then another can take their place…” And just as he finished, the Golden serpent beneath the pond coiled. It seemed to float upwards, sifting outside the water, its two scaled whiskers whisked about.

The green-robed man’s pupils constricted as he jumped back further. His black and blue-white fire distorted. The flame moved and revolved like a thread to form a string of complex symbols.

When Elkis saw that, his cool and jovial demeanor changed. “ You… you… how did you get that? Just… if you use that here, you will die too! Then there would be no point!”

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“If I am to die, or to somehow lose that contract, I will make sure you come into the abyss with me.” the green-robed man growled.

Elkis shook his head and sighed. He seemed glum, but was unwilling to take any risks when he was so close to ascension. “I give you my permission.”

And just as he finished saying the last word, the land roared. The earth quaked, the sky shifted, and the winds howled.  But even with the rumbling land, both Elkis and the green-robed man seemed still, as if it could not affect them, could not touch them.

After a short moment, the land stilled and went back to how it was before. The permission was granted. The golden serpent uncoiled and went back into the pond, head first.

At this, the green-robed man seemed to become at ease. Now, Elkis as well as anyone else would not be able to touch him nor the one he chose from Northcroke.

He turned away and walked back from where he came.

- my thoughts:
I hope you enjoy this chapter! Such mystery. Mwahahaha. I wonder what it could mean?
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