Author's Note: The events in this story take place before the Battle of the Three Gate's and the Metamor curse.
Kishu gallopped along, thinking to himself, ~How long has it been since I started looking for a a way to restore that villiage?~ He sighed heavily, ~And the whole time...I've been regarded as a freak, and met with either pity, loathing, or contempt. Although there has been the occasional person who either doesn't care I'm a centaur, or who actually likes my new form.~
Kishu gallopped harder, trying to vent some of his frustration, ~Not to mention that I cannot fight anymore, This body is just too big for the fighting style I was trained to use.~ He lashed out at a nearby sapling with his fist, causing it to whip back and forth, ~ @#$%&*!! This is frustrating...I hope this wizard I'm going to see can help me with this.~
::Agreed, but can we really trust this wizard?:: said Rakurai. That mental voice was another reason people tended to look askance at Kishu, he seemed to talk to himself alot.
Kishu slowed down to a trot, as they were nearing the wizard's place, "Yes, I think we can...the person who referred us to him says he does alot of healing, as well as taking care of many of the plants and animals."
::True, but caution is still warranted:: came the voice again, and Kishu nodded, "Always..." remembering what happened last time they weren't as cautious as they should have been...when Kishu and Rakurai were merged to make Kishu a centaur.
Soon, Kishu trotted into a large clearing, with a small cottage in the center of it. Long grass waved gently in the breeze, as birds sang from the treetops. A small brook ran along one side of the cottage, bubbling softly. The cottage itself was a small structure, with all sorts of brightly colored flowers growing in planters and in the ground around it.
Kish walked up to the door and had to stoop over to knock on it. A voice yelled pleasantly from inside, "Coming!" and man of medium height answered the door. The man found himself looking at Kishu's belly and had to look up, and up, and up to see his face, craning his neck to do so.
"Can I help you?" he aksed.
Kishu nodded and stepped back a bit so the man wouldn't have to crane his neck so much. "Are you the wizard who heals animals and plants in this forest?" the centaur asked.
The man nodded, "Yes...why?"
The words poured from Kishu's mouth in a flood, threatening to drown the man in front of him, "Please, I need your help...the same wizard that turned me into this, also changed an entire villiage into half animal freaks, ones with mostly human bodys, but with animal legs and feet instead of human arms, legs, hands, and feet, as well as a few other attributes." The centaur finally took a large breath and tried to calm down, speaking more slowly now, "I...I promised them that I would find a way to return them to normal...can you help me?" Kishu pleaded with the wizard.
"Hmmm...I can see your predicament...however I have too much to do here to go help you with that villiage...however...I sense a hidden power in you, I can train you to use that." the wizard replied, then thought ~I also have no idea how I could even help those people, this magic is unfamiliar to me.~
Kishu blinked and slowly nodded, "Ok..."
"What is your name?" Asked the wizard
"I am known as Kishu, and you?" the centaur replied.
"I am called Genshi," Genshi, the wizard said, then continued, "Let's get started then."
Kishu nodded, "Okay sensei."
"The first step to learning to use that power of yours, " Genshi began, "is learning how to *see* magic. This is often referred to as second sight, or magesight."
Kishu nodded, "And how would I activate this 'second sight'?"
Genshi continued, "Well...for your first time...you must close your eyes, clear your mind, and think about seeing what is not seen."
"Hai sensei," Kishu replied and did as he was told. As he was doing that, though, Genshi stood up and put his hand on the shoulder of the sitting Kishu, and gave him a little mental nudge in the right direction.
Kishu felt something click in his mind and he opened his eyes, "Whoa! I have actually seen this before...but I thought it was some bad food or something...so I tried to make it go away." He then thought, ~It happened after I became a centaur, too.~
::Wow...so this is magesight, and here I thought you were hallucinating before, too:: interjected Rakurai.
Genshi nodded slowly, smiling slightly, "Now look over here, and watch..." Kishu nodded and watched as glowing threads of various colors appeared in front of Genshi and they started to weave together into a fabric of some sort. "What is with the threads?" he asked.
"They are the essence of the magic...you weave these elemental threads together to form the fabric of your spell, and for certain spells, you then cast it at your target." replied Genshi.
Kishu nodded slowly, "Ah, okay."
Genshi dismissed the weave and it unraveled, the threads dissipating, "Now to explain the different threads. Red threads are fire, blue are water, green are ice, black are earth, white are air, brown are tech, and purple are life. All weaves require a thread of life to hold the weave together, however, if you're not weaving a spell and are just using the threads by themselves, like using a thread of fire to start your campfire, then the life thread isn't necessarily needed."
Kishu nodded again, "Okay, but how do I know how to weave each spell? Are you going to show me how to weave some?"
"Yes, I will, patience, Kishu," Genshi said with a smile.
Kishu sighed, "Sorry sensei, I guess I am just a little impatient, I want to help that villiage as soon as possible."
"I understand that, but you still need to do much research before you can restore them, okay?" came the reply.
Kishu sighed again, "Yes sensei."
Genshi smiled slighty, "Cheer up, I'm sure you be able to restore them someday, okay?"
Kishu smiled and nodded, "Thank you."
Genshi grinned, "You're welcome...now...I will show you some basic weaves, okay?"
Kishu nodded and watched Genshi, then tried to imitate him, with Genshi helping him along and correcting him gently when he made a mistake.
Over the following months, Kishu progressed quite well in his magic studies, and the time came that he had to leave, to search for a cure for the villiage.
"Well Kishu, the day has finally arrived. I have taught you all I know...and now you must go and seek your answer elsewhere," Genshi said, with a bit of sadness in his voice.
Kishu gave his sensei a gentle hug, "Hai sensei....but...where should I go?"
Genshi hugged back gently, "Kishu...the answer you seek does not exist in this land...you must travel to the west."
"The west?" quieried Kishu.
"Yes," Genshi continued, "this magic comes from the west...and I have heard of a place where many great mages have gathered, a place called 'Metamor Keep'. I do not know where exactly it is, or what goes on there, but I do know that they have many great mages and healers."
"Thank you sensei, I will never forget you..." Kishu said with tears in his eyes.
Genshi smiled slightly, tears in his eyes as well, "Take care of yourself."
The two exchanged one last hug, then Kishu galloped off, to find where this 'Metamor Keep' was.
Getting accurate information on the best route to Metamor Keep was proving difficult, and Kishu was starting to get annoyed.
::Patience:: counseled Rakurai, ::anger will only aggrivate the problem::
Kishu sighed, "Yes...but everyone says the same thing, and they also tell me that everyone else's routes are are the worst route you can take."
::Well...you know that it lies to the west, right? So just head west and ask along the way...you'll get there eventually.::
Again, Kishu sighed, "Okay."
As Kishu walked through the forest of Aelfwood, he couldn't help but feel like unseen eyes were watching him. A most uncomfortable sensation, indeed, and one he tried many times to either verify or shake off, but to no avail. Whatever was watching him was stealthy, and new the forest well. ~I hate this feeling of being watched, Rakurai, it is quite unsettling.~
::I agree, but I don't sense any hostility, just curiousity::
Kishu nodded slowly, ~Okay...but I still don't like it...~
In the shadows of the trees, a pair of eyes watched the centaur. ~Who is he? I can tell right now he's not a natural centaur...hmmm...~ The eyes widened a bit as the figure probed further, ~He...he's half unicorn?!? How can that be? Hmmm...this must be looked into further.~
Several days passed, as Kishu continued to travel through the forest. Always he felt unseen eyes watching him, even while he slept, it was getting on his nerves.
::Keep your eyes peeled:: said Rakurai, ::I feel someone or something approaching...::
Kishu nodded and kept his eyes focused ahead of him, scanning for movement, his ears perked and swiveling at each little sound from the forest around him.
A little ways ahead, Kishu could see a clearing. As he cautiously walked into it, he was suprised by the presence of another centaur there. The other centaur smiled, and said to him in that strange western tounge, "Hello."
Kishu's jaw dropped, "K..Konnichiwa," he spluttered, at a bit of a loss for words.
::Don't mind my friend here:: Rakurai told the other centaur, ::He didn't expect to ever meet another centaur.::
It was the other centaur's turn to be flustered, "They were right...you are part unicorn...b..but how?"
Kishu sighed, "It is a long story..."
The other 'taur smiled slightly, "I have time, please, tell me..."
Kishu shrugged, "Okay," and started telling the story of how he came to be a centaur.
The other 'taur sat in stunned silence for a while after listening to Kishu's story. "You must have been quite the pure-hearted human for a unicorn to let you ride him," he eventually said.
Kishu nodded slowly, "I never really thought about it that much before, but I guess so."
::You bet your hooves he was:: said Rakurai, a slight smile in his mental voice.
The other centaur laughed, "Well...thank you for telling me your story." He then smiled, "I've kept you long enough...I'll show you through the forest now, okay?"
Kishu nodded, "Hai...ermm...Yes, thank you."
The other centaur nodded and stood up, "Follow me then," and started walking off.
Kishu quickly stood up and followed, back into the forest.
They walked for several hours before the other centaur stopped suddenly, and turned to face Kishu, "Well...here's where I leave you. The edge of the forest is just over there, " and he pointed to an opening in the trees ahead, Kishu walked past the other 'taur a bit, and could grassy fields, through the trees.
Kishu nodded, "Thank you for your assistance." and bowed slightly to the other 'taur.
The other centaur nodded, "You are quite welcome, take care of yourself now, and good luck in your quest, Kishu."
::Goodbye...perhaps we will meet again:: said Rakurai.
The other centaur smiled, "You are always welcome, my friends," and then trotted off, back into the forest.
Kishu turned and gallopped out onto the grassy fields of the outer midlands, headed for Metamor Keep, having acquired directions to it from the same taur that led him through the forest.
Kishu gallopped across the plains of the Outer Midlands, rapidly approaching a villiage. ~I hope these people are a bit more friendly then the last villiage was. Most people just stared at me blankly, and a few ran away from me, screaming their lungs out...just because I'm a centaur.~
::Well, you do have to admit that you have quite an imposing figure. That only adds to their innate fear of the unknown, especially an unknown that they've only heard stories of...many of which probably paint a picture of all centaurs being quick to anger, or cruel and bloodthirsty.::
~Hmmm...you are probably right, Rakurai...but how do you know all this?~ queried a slightly puzzled Kishu. There was a slight smile in Rakurai's mental voice, ::It's amazing what you can learn from the random surface thoughts and emotions that some of these people broadcast, without even realizing it. I don't even have to probe their thoughts, just listen to the mental 'background noise'.::
It was Kishu's turn to smile, ~I see....I will remember that, then."
Kishu slowed down as they entered the villiage, and slowly walked through it. Many people stopped in their tracks and stared, wide-eyed, at the centaur. Others quickly picked up their kids and ran into their houses, locking their doors. Of those that remained, their expressions ranged from awe, to suprise, to fear. The centaur sighed, ~It's the same as the last villiage...~ and decided to just go on through. ~From now on, I am going to avoid all the villiages I can, I hate how people are reacting to me...~
::Cheer up Kishu, I'm sure things will get better once we reach this place called 'Metamor'...from what we've heard, they are alot more open-minded there, ne?::
Kishu smiled softly, ~Hai.~ By this time, Kishu had reached the other end of the villiage, and he took off galloping again, to the west and the Keep.
"Sir! Sir!" a sentry ran up.
"Yes?" the commanding officer queried.
"Sir...you have to come see this...a...a...centaur is approaching the valley!" came the reply.
"A centaur?!? Are you sure you're not seeing things?"
"Come see for yourself sir."
The officer sighed, "Okay," and followed the sentry to the lookout post.
"There he is sir," said the sentry, pointing.
The officer looked, then did a double take, "Well...I'll be stuffed lutin. That really is a centaur."
The sentry nodded, "What should we do sir?"
"Hmm...well...he has no weapons drawn, and he's approaching on the main road from the south. Confront him and ask him what his business is, just like we would any other strange character."
Kishu turned a bend in the road, and there they were, armed sentries, lined up across the road like a wall. "Halt!" one of them said, "State your business here."
Kishu nodded, "Hai...I am Kishu, I come from the far east to seek help from the mages of Metamor Keep for a villiage in my homeland. An evil wizard has given the people in this villiage grotesquely distored half-human, half-animal forms. Replacing their arms and legs with the animal equivalents."
The sentries stood there for a few moments in stunned silence, then one of them got his voice back and nodded, "You...you may pass then," and the 'wall' of sentries parted, allowing Kishu to pass through.
As Kishu passed through the villiages and settlements in the valley, he noticed a slightly different feeling than in the other villiages he had passed through. ~Do you feel that, Rakurai?~
::Yes I do...these folks are more open-minded. There is less fear, and more suprise, awe, and curiousity. I expected as much...but I am curious what makes the difference here.::
Kishu nodded, ~I am sure we will find out soon enough, ne?~
Soon Kishu had reached the gates of the Keep itself. Again he was stopped and asked what his business was at the Keep, and again he explained the situation to the guards, who called for someone to come and escort Kishu into the keep.
A couple of men came out, one looked to be a soldier, the other a mage. "Kee Shoe?" the mage asked.
Kishu winced at the mangling of his name, and nodded slowly.
"Sorry...did I severely mangle your name?"
"Hai...erm...yes you did."
"I'm sorry...hmm...is there another name I may call you?"
Kishu sighed, "I would prefer Kishu...however, I can tell it is going to continually get mangled."
The mage nodded, "Do you know what your name means?"
"Hai...my name means 'horseman' in my native tounge."
The mage grinned, "I'll call you Ross then...it means the same thing."
Kishu nodded slowly, "I guess that will do..." ~These westerners...*sigh*~
::Well at least he tried to find a name that he could pronounce with the same meaning, ne?::
~Hai...true...but I still would prefer my name being pronounced correctly....oh well.~
"Now then Ross," the mage continued, "You say that you are looking for help restoring a villiage of people that have been transformed into grotesque freaks?"
Kishu nodded, "Hai...erm...yes I am, and if the mages here cannot help me personally, at least allow me to look through your library in search of an answer." In preparation for this, Kishu had been studying the written language of these westerners, since almost surely most of their documents would be written in that language.
The mage nodded, "Of course...come with me." and the three headed for the
keep proper, and then the library.