It was a crisp evening in the central Bayreuthian kingdom, and one of the kings of Bayreuth has requested that the 1st wing of Bayreuthian ancient magical studies attends a royal dinner. The majority of the team has already dressed up for the occasion, but Solomon, a human archaeologist and the newest member of the team, had slept through the rather loud preparations. “Solomon! We gotta go! We're attending a royal dinner in twenty minutes!” Nimphi shouted.
“What... Since when?” Solomon replied groggily.
“Since now! My uncle has requested that we attend a royal dinner and discussion about our branches develop- nevermind! Just come on!” Nimphi retorted with a loud and hurried tone.
“Dinner… wait, what time is it?” Solomon asked while stretching out some stiff spots.
O-amon, the old goblin translator and alchemist then kicked open the sleeping quarters door, letting magical light flood into the room. Solomon jumped out of his hammock and covered his eyes. “Seven o’clock, you lazy mongrel. Come on.” The goblin grumbled. O-amon was dressed in a rather fancy lab coat, and was actually wearing pants for once.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?!” Solomon yelled and ran out of the room down the short hallway. He was only wearing some torn linen pants. The team of six lived in one of the four large towers of the royal palace, where the oligarchy of kings resided along with their families.
“Because we already tried and you were unresponsive. We thought we should just let you rot in your disgusting hammock.” O-amon said angrily.
“Piss off, you rotten green bean. I need to get my clothes on!” Solomon responded.
“You blubbering dumbass, you can’t wear your work clothes in the king's presence!” O-amon scowled.
“Then what else am I s’possed to wear?!” Solomon retorted in an irritated tone.
Nimphi walked out of the foyer where her husband, Tamvian, and the royal mage, Yuval were waiting. She was wearing a brilliant red dress, which contrasted nicely with her elegant purple hair, and the beautiful flower tied into it. She was holding a finely crafted formal outfit. “Wear this, Solomon. It’s tailored specifically for you.” Nimphi said cordially.
Solomon halted his dash with his heels and stopped to look at Nimphi. He was awestruck by her beauty, and slowly took the suit from her hands. “Well… uh, thanks.” Solomon replied nervously.
Nimphi’s husband, Tamvian stepped forward and wrapped his arm around his beautiful wife. He was wearing a tuxedo almost identical to Solomon’s. He was an elven soldier and researcher, who had short blonde hair and a handsome lithe face. “Isn’t my wife beautiful? More so than the everlasting earth, trees, and wind.” He gushed happily.
“Oh, my husband. How I love you so.” Nimphi responded, then leaned in to lock her lips with his. After the brief moment of mouthplay, they pulled apart. Solomon had already dressed into his outfit and wet his hair down. His appearance had changed drastically just from a change of clothes. His spiky brown hair matched well with his face, along with his fairly straight beard and cyan eyes. He had inky writing under his right eye, which spelled “This is a blue eye.” He tugged on the collar of the suit with his finger, then walked forward. “I have to say, this is pretty comfortable. Except for this tight collar.” Solomon said.
Nimphi chastisingly smacked Solomons hand off the collar. She then straightened it and slightly shoved him back. “There, now don’t touch it.” She said with a smile.
“Now now, children. Let us embark to the palace.” Yuval said formally. He was dressed in his finest robes and standing upright with the help of his wooden staff. Yuval is one of the ten royal mages of Bayreuth. He oversees everything related to ancient magic, and only serves directly under the king. He’s known as one of the most powerful wizards in the continent. He has long, glimmering silver hair and a short, white beard to go with it. One of his eyes is blind. He took a few steps forward before opening the front doors of the tower. A gust of wind broke through the doorway. The tower that the team walked out of was high in the sky, and they had to take a set of magically enhanced stairs downward to the roof of the royal palace, where there was a second staircase which spiraled down to a foyer on the third floor. They would then walk through the foyer and enter a gigantic dining room where they were supposed to meet the kings.
“That gust of wind never gets old.” Solomon said with a smile.
“Oh, it does,” O-amon retorted.
“Maybe that’s because you’ll get swept away if you aren’t careful, my little green friend.” Solomon replied snarkily.
“You better watch your mouth unless you want to get a potion that’ll make you shit mushrooms jammed down your throat.” The goblin grumbled.
“Like you could even reach, you soggy old toad.” Solomon replied sarcastically.
“Wanna bet? You pompous whippersnapper.” The cranky old goblin retorted.
Tamvian stopped the engagement before it got bad. “Now now, gentlemen. You can save the potion-stuffing for another time. These types of events don’t happen that often, so I expect all of you to behave your best.” He said seriously. After helping his wife step down from the front door, he let Solomon, Yuval, and O-amon pass before closing the door behind him and walking out. The fine stone staircase was fenced off on both sides, but there was no roof. Solomon looked to his left, and saw the sun setting over the city. “What a view… I need to appreciate this more.” Solomon muttered in awe. The team made their way down the stone stairs and reached the shining red roof of the palace. They saw a circular hole in the roof, which had a hatch that was opened. A butler was standing in front of the entrance. He bowed down when the team passed him and went down the spiral staircase. This was when things truly started to get fancy.
The staircase was made of fine marble, lined with pure gold. The stairs had red velvet carpet on each step. The team slowly descended down the staircase and reached the bottom of the third floor. They usually disregarded the luxury of the palace as they rushed through it to buy materials, but now they had the time to take in the view. Premium wallpapers, drapes, and statues of Bayreuthian stars and generals lined the beautiful chandelier-dotted, red carpet covered halls. The grand hallway eventually had a large opening on the left, and turned off on the right. Two beautiful maids were waiting at the front of the opening. “Welcome!” They said in unison and curtsied.
“Well, isn’t this just a disgusting display of wealth.” O-amon mumbled quietly.
“At least we can agree on one thing. This is over the top, man.” Solomon responded.
“At least they have beautiful maids” The goblin added salaciously.
“I second that, my green friend.” Solomon replied and chuckled.
When the group entered the dining room, a quartet was playing violin in the corner, and royals dotted the room, talking amongst themselves whilst maids and butlers were busy serving the royalty. A gargantuan long table was sitting in the center of the hall, with masterfully crafted chairs lined at its sides and ends. “Ah, I remember these. Do not be fooled by the glamour. They talk about serious political matters here.” Yuval said. “That being said… It’s not often that all four kings and their children attend royal dinners.”
“What do you mean, old man? Don’t they all live here?” Solomon asked curiously.
“Nay. Only two live in the palace. The rest are constantly travelling and handling international affairs. Two of the kings are usually across the country in their own palaces. But, this…” Yuval spread his arms out to give a perspective of the palace. “Is the main palace, where all four kings hold important meetings.” He continued with a formal smile on his aged features.
“So, what are we doing here?” Solomon asked once more.
“I don’t know, my young student. I was instructed to tell you all to attend this dinner.” Yuval explained.
Solomon had a pit in his stomach. He’d never been pampered as a child, being an orphan, and he wasn’t used to this level of luxury nor pressure. The idea that these kings, princes, and princesses had the ability to change his life forever resonated in his mind before his thoughts were disrupted by one of the kings ringing his glass with a fork. To Solomon’s knowledge, there were four kings. Each king had a wife, and three of them had children. So in total, there were four kings, four queens, two princesses, and three princes. He knew the names of the kings, but not of the other royalty. King Zeylan, Nimphi’s uncle, King Oozan, King Ampath, and King Lamverge. All elven, none of them had distinctive differences, and they all ruled Bayreuth in the form of an monarchic oligarchy. Only royal blood was allowed to be royalty, but they ruled pretty much equally. None had power over another. That being said, they were the supreme power of Bayreuth, and they decided which laws go into order and which don’t. “Attention, attention. We gather here to this fine dinner for the purpose of discussing matters of international importance. We will now be seated, take your seats and wait for the debate to begin.” King Zeylan spoke formally and seriously.
Slowly but surely, everyone was seated at the oversized dinner table. In total, there were nineteen people seated at the table. The two princesses sat next to each other, and all four queens did as well. They were to the left of the kings. King Zeylan sat at the front, and the three kings sat next to him, also at the front. Their sons sat to the left of them, as did the team. Solomon sat next to one of the princes, and then the rest sat down next to him. The prince looked over at Solomon, and scoffed before turning back to face his father. Solomon noticed this and grew puzzled. Then it came to him. He looked to the left, to the right, and then behind him. “I’m the only human here who isn’t a servant.” Solomon thought to himself. A sudden feeling came upon him. The heavy feeling of non-belonging. He began to awkwardly twiddle his thumbs whilst waiting for the food to be served.
Eventually, butlers and maids came with silver platters full of gourmet food. It didn’t just look appetizing, it looked divine. “Gods, they really spoil you here.” Solomon thought to himself. After all the food was served, they were allowed to begin eating. The entire row of Solomon’s team attempted to eat as politely as possible in the presence of the dignified royalty. Suddenly, Solomon looked up to King Zeylan. He looked back at Solomon. “Do you wish to speak?” He asked.
“I would.” Solomon responded.
“Please, state your business.” The king replied and waved his hand in a ‘proceed’ gesture.
“Why have you brought us here, pampered us, and let us eat in the royal dining room with the rest of the royalty? Is there something important you need of us?” Solomon asked curiously, but politely.
“Hm, I suppose there is. Say, may I know name?” The king replied politely.
“It’s Michael D. Solomon. I go by Solomon.” Solomon stated.
Zeylan set his fork down, leaned back in his seat, and clasped his hands together. “Tell me, Solomon, do you know about the old abyssal religion?” The king inquired seriously.
“Of course. It was the centerpiece of ancient magic and our knowledge of the soul.” Solomon explained, a bit uncertain.
“And can you tell me why we don’t see this religion being practiced anymore?” Zeylan asked again.
“Because it’s illegal?” Solomon replied with an uncertain tone.
The royals chuckled for a moment, leaving Solomon dumbfounded and confused. After they stopped, Zeylan resumed his speech. “That is a part of the reason, but nay. Would you like to know the true reason?”
Solomon thought about it for a second. Did he want to know this bit of information?
“Your friend, the mage, he knows. I wouldn’t be surprised if those young elves knew as well.” Zeylan said.
“Tell me, what’s the catch?” Solomon asked curiously, but nervously.
“Ask yourself that question, human.” One of the princesses said sarcastically. She was a beautiful young elf with dark skin and silver hair. She had purple earrings and a white dress. “You’re supposed to be an expert in history. What does it mean when a historian doesn’t know history?”
“I don’t know, what does it mean?” Solomon asked, starting to realize where this was going.
The team next to Solomon was filled with anxiety. They all knew exactly what was going on. If he asked for the history then and there, he would surely be kicked out to the streets. A historian who knows no history is useless. “Don’t fall for their tricks…” O-amon thought to himself. “Come on, young one… You’re better than this. What I saw in you that day... I knew I wasn’t wrong.” Yuval thought to himself.
“Well, do you want to know?” Zeylan asked.
The prince next to Solomon scoffed. “Moron.” He mumbled quietly.
Solomon then stared Zeylan in the eyes. He took his fork, and stabbed a piece of meat with it. All eyes were on him. He took the meat on his fork, then ate it while staring Zeylan down. “I’m alright, your majesty. Keep your secrets to yourself.” Solomon said. O-amon, Yuval, Nimphi, and Tamvian all breathed out heavily. The prince scoffed and continued to eat, while the king nodded slowly and continued eating as well. The intensity that once filled the room was now absent. It seemed that Solomon had passed the test.
After a couple more minutes of eating and talking amongst themselves, King Lamverge spoke out. “I do believe it is now time to discuss official matters. Don’t you, Yuval?” He said with an official tone. Yuval nodded in response and gave the kings his signal. “I will let my son, Prince Turaq: Commander of our army explain the situation.” Lamverge continued and gestured towards the elf prince next to Solomon. He was a very built man, with a thick, orange beard and wavy, short orange hair. He was wearing a black and gold-lined suit with many badges on the right of it, along with a golden chain running down from his shoulder. He promptly stood up and walked behind the four kings, then folded his hands behind his back.
“My men have uncovered the ruins of a large abyssal temple. Judging by its size and outward appearance, it was an important place of worship in the ancient abyssal religion. Our mages had to use 4th tier reveal magic to find its location. Whoever hid it didn’t want it to be found. It’s located in the province of Nae-El, about two hundred and fifty kilometers from this kingdom; furthermore, tt’s twenty-five kilometers away from the closest town of Nae-Lan. We will provide you with a map of the area, even if you already possess one. My scouts have given us a description of the area. There’s a black stone path in all four directions leading to a large dungeon that goes underground. Our most recent messenger informed us that the scouting party was heading inside. Your job is to rendezvous with the scouting party and collect information in the dungeon. You will be rewarded handsomely if you obtain new information about the abyss and it’s long lost past. It also goes without saying that the crumbling old temple will be dangerous to navigate. Are you willing to accept it?” Prince Turaq lectured.
Obviously, Solomon was antsy to say yes. He looked over to Yuval with excited glee and nodded his head eagerly. Contrary to Solomon, every other member actually dwelled on the offer before accepting. “My love, will you be okay travelling with Solomon to that dreadful place?” Nimphi asked sheepishly.
“Of course. I have the luck of the astrals on my side after all.” Tamvian responded confidently.
“Them I'm okay with it.” Nimphi sighed contentedly.
“As am I.” Tamvian reassured.
After a moment of hesitation, O-amon accepted as well, leaving only Yuval. After a couple more seconds of contemplation he was in agreement as well. “Then so be it. We’ll send our team to search the area. You can count on us, my kings.” Yuval spoke officially. The kings nodded in agreement. They dismissed the team and continued their dinner.
“Ooh! What a great meal!” Solomon said, patting his stomach.
“You may now leave. See as you do fit.” Prince Turaq said seriously. Solomon looked over and nodded. He got up from his chair and left alongside his team.
“I enjoyed that dinner quite a bit. We dined with royalty, and we may get paid royally!” Tamvian said happily.
“This mission may be our most important one yet, my scholars. We have yet to explore large abyssal worship sites. This may uncover some ancient history of how they work. To exterminate the abyss for good, this mission requires perfection.” Yuval said seriously. “It is imperative that we prepare properly.” He continued professionally.
“Should Solomon even be going on such an important trip?” O-amon asked out of the blue. Solomon looked over at him in a surprised expression. He was being serious. Normally O-amon would jeer or make a joke, but he was being entirely serious. As the team ascended up the stairs they came down to dine from, Yuval remained silent.
“Yes. This will prove to be a good test for young Solomon.” Yuval replied calmly. Solomon pumped his fist in silent excitement. “That being said, Tamvian and Coal will come along with him.” Yuval continued.
“Coal?! Really?!” Solomon said, in a surprised manner. He was now grinning from ear to ear. Coal was the sixth member of the team. It was a sentient golem who served as the heavy lifter and powerhouse of the group. He was created by Yuval, and is the pride of his work. As such, he was treated with intense care. When inactive, he got cleaned three times a day. Yuval was the only one who could activate and deactivate him by using a spell of his own creation. Coal was a very kind-”hearted” golem who loved to work and travel. Solomon and it were good friends who enjoyed sparring, playing games, and working together. Eventually the team reached their home in the tower. The tower itself was a three story, large, circular building made out of nicely chiseled cobblestone and a cone-shaped hardwood roof. The foyer was situated on the first floor, along with the sleeping quarters, bathing area, kitchen and dining area, toilets, and the workshop. The second floor was where Coal resided, along with the study room and the laboratory. The third floor contained Yuval’s room which only he could enter freely. The rooms got smaller each story. The staircase leading to the second and third floor was right in front of the foyer.
“Ah, home sweet home!” Solomon said happily.
“You've only been gone for two hours, Solomon.” Nimphi said with a chuckle.
“Still! Now I get to slee-” Solomon said, but got cut off.
“Not so fast. We’re going to organize the travel plans.” Yuval said formally.
“Yeah, of course we’re g’nna organise the travel plans at night, fucks sake…” Solomon whispered angrily to himself. He shuffled solemnly over to the dining room table along with the rest of the team. Yuval went upstairs to activate Coal while the team waited patiently. You could easily tell when Coal was activated because of its heavy footsteps. Coal had the body shape of a clay vase with a narrow body and a wide top. Two arms extruded from both sides of its upper torso, and two legs extended from the bottom. Coal’s face is on its body, in the form of a circle of small holes, both lit with magic. They flashed whenever it spoke. Coal stomped downstairs and came into the dining room. It stood almost three meters tall, and the room itself was only three meters tall.
“Hello friends!” Coal said with a mellow tone. It plopped on the ground next to the table and crossed its legs. “So, what have I been awoken for, master?” Coal asked Yuval.
“We have been offered an extremely important mission.” Yuval responded seriously.
“Tell me more, please.” Coal replied with almost childlike interest.
“Of course.” Yuval replied, then paused. “The abyss. I do believe I've spoken about it before. It's a forbidden religion of the past. Even so, we're attempting to learn its magic for the benefit of the astrals. Our kings have discovered an ancient temple that was used for worship. You, Solomon, and Tamvian all are going to venture there and meet with the Royal Scouts. Coal will serve as some extra defense and strength.” Yuval instructed.
“Alright! It's always a pleasure to help you, team. When are we leaving on this quest?” Coal asked.
“Tomorrow. They want us to do it as soon as possible.” Yuval replied.
“Then let’s get ready!” Coal said excitedly.
Solomon yelled happily. “I like that confidence!” He said.
Solomon, Coal, and Tamvian began darting around the tower and gathering a week’s worth of supplies. The plan was that it would take one day to reach the temple and they would spend five days collecting information and recording it. After that, they would return home and report their findings. Solomon was a very light packer, while Nimphi always overpacked for Tamvian. Coal didn’t need anything, and could stay active for up to two weeks before the magic inside of it ran out. After a long while of packing up, the trio gathered in front of the front door.
Solomon’s backpack was about half his size, with a bedroll on the top. It was laying in the corner of the foyer, waiting to be picked up the following morning. In contrast, Nimphi and Tamvian were standing with awkward smiles, as she packed two entire bags the size of Tamvian. They were also laying in the corner. “Gods, talk about over packing… You always do this, Nimphi.” Solomon jeered.
“Hm? And? I’m packing properly so my love can return safely. You're packing like you don’t care whether or not you die.” Nimphi retorted.
“What is that even supposed to mean?” Solomon replied with an irked tone.
“Find that out yourself, Sol.” Nimphi said sarcastically.
After the exchange, Yuval descended from his room and stood at the top of the stairs of the second floor. “My children, rest. You will need it for the journey ahead. When the clock strikes six in the morning, two horse-drawn wagons will be waiting for you in the front courtyard of the palace. Two royal soldiers will be riding them. You will be provided with extra food, and a map. O-amon will provide you with a translation sheet for Abyssal scriptures if you find any.” Yuval explained, and O-amon promptly stepped forth and gave Solomon the translation guide.
“I assume that you shall be the one doing most of the exploring, so keep this safe with you.” O-amon spoke seriously.
“Thanks. I will” Solomon responded.
“Let's get some sleep. We will need it.” Solomon said. The team seemed to agree with this. They each headed to their rooms. Solomon and O-amon slept in their hammocks in the main quarters, Nimphi and Tamvian had their own room, as did Yuval. The moon shone bright that night. Something amazing was going to happen in the coming week.