Over one thousand years ago Mikaia had no Animoids. Back then Mikaia was ruled by the “Council of the Elements”. There was balance between nature and all living things, humans and animals lived in harmony. That all changed when the Council was broken. Dark forces had begun to develop and the first Animoids started to appear. Animoids are creatures that have human bodies with animal features. Now, nearly half the population of Mikaia is Animoid. They come in all shapes, sizes and animal types.
Jaymar is a 12-year-old boy who lives on the island of Auroras Minor, with his mum and dad, in a little fishing village called Little Haven. Jaymar wants to become an apprentice to his dad. He hoped he could go with him on a trip to the mainland, Auroras Major and see some Animoids. There are no Animoids on Auroras Minor, but he had heard they looked weird and were a little bit creepy. Some of his schoolmates had been to the mainland and seen them.
Jaymar is of average height and build for his age. He has a good boyish look about him with long blond hair down to his shoulders. He is an only child. He would love it, if he had a little brother to play with and boss around. His dad, Raum, is a merchant who trades in spices and material goods between the mainland, the largest island Auroras Minor and many of the other smaller islands dotted around the equator.
Life is good on the island and Jaymar’s family lived comfortably with his dad’s business prospering. Auroras Minor only has one Princedom. Prince Irwin and his family ruled the whole island with humility. The Prince keeps a large militia on the island and enforces the policy that no Animoids are allowed to live on the island.
Mikaia is a primitive world where horses and horse-drawn carts are the main means of transport and sailing ships plough the vast oceans. There are no major governments. City states control small domains which are ruled by Princes, lesser nobles, merchant families or Centurions. Mikaia is made up of two large landmasses; one large island, Auroras Minor and thousands of small islands. One landmass is located at the North Pole and it is covered in ice all year. It is the domain of penguins, walrus and polar bears. Many sea creatures migrate to its shores during a very brief summer. The other landmass, Auroras Major stretches up from the South Pole to nearly the tropics. Just less than half of the southern landmass is also covered in ice and snow for most of the year. The bulk of the islands are scattered around the equator. The main population lives around the coastline of Auroras Major. Auroras Minor lies just under two days sailing North of the horn of Auroras Major.
Jaymar is up early this morning, well before his mum and dad. He threw on a pair of long pants, a jumper over his nightshirt, his favourite pair of ankle boots and grabbed an overcoat and beanie as he rushed out the backdoor. Outside he picked up his cudgel, a wooden pole a bit over one and a half metres in length. The air is still very cold, and some dark clouds were gathering out to sea. His house backed onto a lane that led down a steep incline to the foreshore. Jaymar often went down to the harbour to look at the boats and dream of sailing to the mainland and the other islands.
Today, he headed along the beach and then climbed the bluff at the end of the bay. The bluff commanded a great view of the bay with its protected harbour and long beach. The day is a rest day and the village is very quiet. No school, no work or trading is done on the rest day and everyone could enjoy a relaxing morning with their families. Other children from the village were out playing or doing small chores around their houses as the village slowly started to stir.
Jaymar often spent time alone on the bluff practising with his cudgel or he would walk in the nearby hills. He has a gift with animals and often they would come up to him and walk with him in the forest. He didn’t know why he enjoyed their company and often spoke to them as if they could understand him. After an hour of practising some new moves, his father had recently taught him, Jaymar started feeling hungry. It was time to head home for breakfast. As he picked up his things, he noticed the dark clouds were now racing in from the sea, hanging low over the bay.
Suddenly, a flash of lightning and thunder cracked just a short way off the bluff. It gave Jaymar a bit of a scare. He raced down the slope towards the back of the village. Once off the shoulder of the bluff, he came to the ring road which runs all the way around the back of the village. He decided to follow it around rather than cut back to the foreshore and home the way he had come. Still jogging along, wanting to get home before any rain came, he passed a large old tree on the edge of the road. Lightning flashed again, this time it seemed to be right over his head. He naturally ducked in response. The lightning struck the old tree and split it in two with one half falling towards the road. Jaymar realised he was about to be crushed and threw his arms up to protect himself, yelling out “STOP”. A gust of wind blew in and around Jaymar, almost knocking him over. Slowly, with eyes half closed, expecting the worst he looked up. Amazingly, the massive tree trunk and branches were hovering in the air just above his head and arms. The branches and leaves were thrashing about in the swirling wind. He quickly moved away from under the tree trunk and stood there stunned.
’What had just happened?’ He took a deep breath and just gazed in wonder at the tree. Suddenly, it crashed to the ground. He jumped away. Dust and bits of tree flew everywhere. After dusting himself off, he surveyed the scene. Branches large and small were broken and scattered all over the road. Gouges were dug into the road where the tree had crashed. Jaymar knew he had just escaped being crushed and most likely killed. He turned and ran home to tell his dad and maybe later they might come back to have a closer look at the tree.
Many kilometres away in another part of the island, Ambrose is sitting at his kitchen table having his morning brew, when suddenly he felt a shiver on the back of his neck and the very distant sound of thunder. He immediately turned and looked around the room thinking that perhaps something unseen had entered his cottage. Or was it something else? The feeling he had just experienced could often be felt when an Elemental had performed a powerful invocation. The strength of the feeling was often to do with the closeness or the strength of the powers used. Ambrose is an Elemental and the shiver was minor, so he thought the invocation was not strong enough for the person performing it to be close by. He quickly got up and went out the front door.
The area around his cottage is clear for a good hundred or so metres. If a powerful Elemental was nearby, he would certainly feel them. A quick check both front and back assured him that no one was there and that the power he felt must have occurred a long way off, but had been strong. This puzzled Ambrose as the only group of Elementals on the island were in the capital Princeton, working as priests, ambassadors and advisors to Prince Irwin. To his knowledge, there is no Centurion currently on the island. Princeton is many kilometres away and he knew that none of the Elementals could have wielded the power to cause the feeling he just experienced. Somewhere a powerful Elemental, perhaps a Centurion, had arrived on the island and Ambrose needed to find who and where they were.
Jaymar made it home just as the rain started to fall. Flashes of lightning were now occurring more frequently, and thunder rolled around the bay. His parents were both in the kitchen having started their breakfast.
“Did you get wet?” Asked his mum.
“No. It’s just started.” Jaymar replied, placing his cudgel by the door and he removed his coat.
“Come and sit. I’ve made porridge today.” She commented.
Grimhilda is a lovely looking woman with blond flowing hair. She is of medium build and has a warm smile with which she now greeted her son.
Throwing his coat and beanie in the corner, Jaymar sat down next to his dad and waited for his bowl of porridge. Jaymar’s father’s name was Raum. He is a big strong frame of a man with light brown flowing hair. His ancestors had been warriors, bred strong for battle. Raum’s father had retired from the Princeton militia years ago and settled in this little coastal village to set up a merchant business and become a trader. When he passed away a few years ago, Raum had been a warrior in the militia but had turned down the position of Captain of the Guard in Princeton to take over his father’s business. Jaymar thought, ’should I say anything about the tree to mum and dad or not!’
His dad interrupted his thoughts. “Jaymar did you hear me?”
“No, sorry dad. What did you say?” Jaymar turned and looked up at his father.
“I said I am going to Princeton for supplies, take orders and make other travel arrangements. Do you want to come with me?”
Jaymar jumped up and threw his arms around his dad’s neck yelling “Yes, Yes”.
“Okay, settle down. You will need to help your mother pack your clothes and provisions for about a 20-day trip.”
Raum was smiling down at his son and then turned to Grimhilda. “I hope you don’t mind. I get the feeling Jaymar wants to be my apprentice. Plus, later this year he could come to the mainland on one of my trips.”
Jaymar couldn’t control his excitement and jumped up from his seat and did a little jig. “Thanks Dad, I won’t let you down.”
Grimhilda was also smiling, she knew that this time would come and she was so proud of her son and commented to her husband. “You should drop by and see Ambrose either on the way there or on the way back. You know he doesn’t stay long at home once the winter has passed. Also, remember that Jaymar should have been ‘tested’ by now, as he turns thirteen in the next moon cycle.”
Raum had forgotten about Jaymar’s actual age, he just knew that he had finished school and was ready for the next phase of his childhood. This meant Jaymar was going to experience things with him like going to Princeton and the mainland. Twelve is the age that children could be ‘tested’ for Elemental abilities. Depending on their ability and strength of Elemental powers they could at age thirteen be then invited to study at the High School for Elementals. Raum and Grimhilda had no history of any Elemental abilities on either side of their families and Raum hadn’t considered that Jaymar might have any Elemental powers. In the last hundred and fifty years, only one child in their village had been found to have Elemental powers, so it was not something that the local people thought of or often talked about.
Raum then remembered Jaymar telling him that some of his friends had been tested just before winter, but none of them had shown any Elemental signs.
“Ok, I will arrange for Jaymar to be ‘tested’ by an Elemental while we are in Princeton.” Said Raum, as he finished his porridge and stood up to leave for the harbour.
“I am going down to check on the ship and will be back this afternoon. Jaymar, get yourself ready and we will leave for Princeton early tomorrow.” Raum walked over and gave Grimhilda a quick kiss on the cheek and left out the front door.
“Mum! Does being ‘tested’ hurt?” Jaymar sat back in his seat and looked searchingly at his mother’s eyes and she replied.
“No, not at all. When I was ‘tested’, many years ago, they just got you to perform a few simple tasks with earth, water, air and fire.” She moved to the table and sat down with her own bowl of porridge. “It’s nothing to be scared about.”
Jaymar replied. “I’m not scared.” He paused then asked. “What do Elemental powers feel like?”
Grimhilda was a bit puzzled by the question, she had not thought about Elemental powers having a “feel”. In fact, she had not witnessed anything associated with Elementals in her lifetime.
“I have no idea Jaymar. I think it depends on the Elemental powers and gifts. I haven’t witnessed any invocations and we don’t see many Elementals here in the village unless they come to ‘test’ one of the children. The only other time we see Elementals is when we go to the Wind House of worship.” There was a silence for a while and then Grimhilda, feeling that her son was troubled about something, inquired. “Why do you ask?”
Jaymar turned, stood up and said. “No reason, I suppose I am just curious.” He left the kitchen and went to his room. He lay on his bed and wondered if the incident with the tree had been because of an invocation. The rest of the day went by as usual with Jaymar performing his normal chores.
Ambrose returned to his cottage, packed a travel pack, put on his normal travelling clothes and left that very morning for Princeton looking for answers.