Part 1: Down From the Door where It Began
Ruarc sat in his small home which sat roughly ten miles outside of his hometown of Morann, Ireland. Night had fallen, and the young Keeper was deciphering a passage from the large Ancestral Tome by the light of an old oil lamp. His Guide, Laoise, was asleep in her small bed that Ruarc had made for her in his nightstand. It was almost completely silent in his primitive hut to the point where many people would be uncomfortable, but after over two and a half years the Irishman had grown accustomed to the traditional one-room home of the Keepers.
The old clock in the corner had just struck eleven oâ€™clock when a sharp knock sounded at Ruarcâ€™s door. The young man looked up from the Tome and Laoiseâ€™s head sprung up from her cloth nest as the two looked at the door.
â€œHmm, I wonder what would bring a villager out this far at this time of night,â€ Ruarc said as he pushed his chair back.
â€I hope it is nothing serious,â€ Laoise added as she hopped out of her nest and over to the edge of the nightstand.
â€œOne of the children probably just hurt their leg or got a spider bite,â€ Ruarc told the dove in a reassuring tone. He put on his Keeper Cloak as another sharp knock sounded. â€œIâ€™m coming,â€ he called out to the visitor as he briskly made his way over to the door.
Ruarc opened the door and stood staring straight into the chests of three broad cloaked figures, and since he was slightly taller than most of his village he did not know who he was looking at. With a confused look on his face he looked the figures over from head to toe. Each of the figures was well over seven feet tall, two of the figures had absurdly broad shoulders, and the other which stood in the front was rather slender.
â€œMay we come in, young Druid?â€ asked the slender figure, it was a woman.
â€œUm, uh, yes. Yes! Of course, please, come in,â€ Ruarc stammered as he moved without realizing it. He stepped to the side as the towering figures filed into his small home. Once they got into the light, Ruarc saw that all three figures wore cloaks quite similar to his, except for the female figure who, instead of the Keeper cloakâ€™s earthy brown with rust red trim, wore a brilliant mahogany gold cloak with a deep purple trim.
Once all the figures were inside, Ruarc shut the door and turned back to his guests. Even at a height of six feet three inches he felt insignificant against the imposing figures which now stood against the opposing wall of the one room home. They were all staring at him as he stood cemented by the door. The largest of the figures held a hand down next to Ruarcâ€™s nightstand and Laoise hopped onto his hand without hesitation as the big man stroked her feathers gently.
â€œCan I, um, get you all some water?â€ Ruarc asked as he tried to break the silence. Right after he had spoken, the female raised a hand to motion for silence.
â€œYou can relax, Keeper. We have come here for a specific purpose,â€ she spoke with certain serenity. â€œThe Druidsâ€™ Council has a task for you.â€
Ruarc thought for a moment about what the woman said. He had only ever heard of the Council once, and that was on his fifteenth birthday when a representative showed up to initiate him as a Keeper; this was also when he was presented with the Ancestral Tome and Laoise. â€œWhat would the Council ask of meâ€ Ruarc asked hesitantly.
â€œThe Council has recently had a very serious matter brought to its attention that demands a definite response. As Keeper, it falls to you to investigate the matter.â€
Ruarc was unsure of what she meant by this. â€They didnâ€™t mention this at my birthday. Sounds like the Draft,â€ he thought as he did not know how to respond. â€œAt my initiation I was told that it was my duty to watch over â€my History and my Homeâ€,â€ the young man spoke with attempted confidence.
â€œYou recite correctly, but you view is too narrow, Keeper. You are a Druid, young and inexperienced, but you bear the mark none-the-less. As a Druid, your â€œHistoryâ€ is your connection to the living world around you and the trials it has suffered; your â€Homeâ€ is everything that is touched by the living magics of this world and the next world. And as Keeper, you are looked to in times of chaos and imbalance to enact your will and restore things to their natural order.â€
The woman spoke, and Ruarc was in no position to challenge anything. â€Yeah, just like the Draft,â€ he thought as he no walked across the room and sat back down into his desk chair before turning it to face the three Druids. â€œOkay,â€ he said slowly, â€œjust what is it I am being asked to do?â€
â€œAs I mentioned, a very serious matter has come to the Councilâ€™s attention. An unbalance has formed, and one of the results of this unbalance is that anything that comes into contact with it turns feral and lose their minds.â€
Ruarc reached over to a glass of water that was sitting on the corner of his desk and pulled it over to him. â€œHmm, I havenâ€™t heard anything about this before. What region is this happening in?â€ he asked as he lifted the glass and took a drink.
â€œThe Kansai region of Japan appears to be the epicenter with several effected areas ,â€ the woman Druid said bluntly. Ruarc coughed as he accidentally inhaled some of his water.
â€œJapan? As in Pacific Ocean island nation, Japan?â€ Ruarc asked quickly, hoping he had just never heard of Japan, Ireland.
â€œYes, Pacific Ocean island nation, Japan,â€ said the biggest Druid said as he continued petting Laoise.
â€œYou really werenâ€™t kidding when you said my views were to narrow,â€ Ruarc said slumping back into his chair. â€œSo, just to clarify, you want me to go to the Kansai region of Japan, and track down whatever it is that is causing the unbalance?â€
â€œCorrect,â€ said the woman.
â€œAnything else I should know? How am I supposed to get to Japan? How do I handle the animals or whatever they are? And how do I know what is causing this?â€ Ruarc asked, feeling rather overwhelmed by the situation.
â€œWe at the Council trust your abilities to figure the situation out. You are a smart young man,â€ she said. Moments later she gestured with her hand and the three figures started to move towards the door.
â€œWhat? Youâ€™re leaving?â€ Ruarc asked as he sat up quickly as if to intervene. Laoise flew off of the big Druidâ€™s hand and fluttered over to where her master sat dumbfounded.
â€œYou are a Druid, Ruarc, have faith in your abilities and the abilities of those who work alongside you. Do so, and you shall handle this just fine,â€ said the women as the three Druids filed back out the door. Ruarc did not respond as he watched the door close behind the three, but as soon as the door clicked shut he bolted out of his chair and rushed to the door.
As he threw the door open he was looking out at the rough path that was the only road from his house to the village. â€œThey sure no how to make a quick exit,â€ he mumbled to himself as he stepped out onto his doorstep and looked around.
The Irishman walked slowly back into his home and shut the door. He simply leaned against the heavy wooden frame as he processed what had happened. â€œWell, Laoise, guess we get to go to Japan,â€ he said to the bird in a flustered tone. â€œIâ€™m going to bed; maybe I have been working too hard and am dreaming. Weâ€™ll go over details in the morning.â€
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