The Binding of Orzelgryf, Part 2

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Takagi was grateful. He was grateful for a great many things these days. The Grand Master himself taking him on as a squire was foremost in his mind, but the things that came with this particular circumstance were to be relished all on their own. He had grown up in a small farm village near Tokuhara in the fertile Yamato Valley. And though he had prepared and harvested the fields with his father just like the other boys in the neighborhood, he had also studied the old teachings his grandfather had passed down to him diligently: The secret arts of his house that had, eventually, led him to Plâton's monastery... But in all those years, he had never left the Yamato Valley. Now, he was seeing new and exotic places, meeting new and exciting people. He was accumulating experiences he had never even considered existed. Born and raised to serve lofty masters and uphold lofty traditions, he felt his horizons expanding beyond the small world of saying 'yes sir!' and doing what he was told. Not that he wasn't an obedient squire.

Passing through the wonderous parks of the Flügelwind District, he made his way to the shore of Lake Ripploch, the long lake on the west-side of the great city of Aerialis, which now stood behind him in all its splendor. As the capital of the Eastern Fiefdoms, it was impressive in size, comparable, perhaps, even to Yamato's capital city, Yamaseki. One thing stood out to him, though: You saw a lot more different faces in this place. Seeing how it wasn't walled off by enormous mountain ranges to either side but instead embroiled in vigorous commerce with all its neighbors, one could find people and wares from all sorts of places here.

Still, not everything appeared alien to him once he had started to take in the lay of the land. The architecture in many places of the grand city resembled the kind he knew from his homelands. There were wooden houses with tall, curved roofs and expertly worked beams that could be naught but true Yamato craftsmanship.

These little pearls of Yamato culture sometimes clustered together, and sometimes they appeared in between more typically Middlish buildings. On the whole, they formed a sort-of blend that, fortuitously, served as a rather pleasant transition into the outside world for young Takagi.

Of course, there were other things that held his fancy here. He cast a secretive, longing gaze across the still water of the lake that lay before him now. Piers and fishermen's huts lined the shore here, and he was sure to find someone to ferry him across for a couple of pennies. As he took in the lakeside view, thinking about how to best find just such a ferryman, he heard heavy footfalls and heavier breathing approach him from the rear. Turning around, his face suddenly brightened. "Marcus, my friend! Did you forget to tell me something?"

Marcus held up his hand as he bent over, catching his breath. "I... huff... gotta get to... huff... the barracks... huff... too!"

Takagi nodded. "So, you have come to join me? You are an auspicious companion, my friend. I must admit I was a bit nervous going on my own."

Marcus patted him on the shoulder, still a bit hunched and huffing.

Takagi wasn't used to how physical the Middlishmen were, though the Grand Master certainly enjoyed hearty back- and shoulder-patting. He was doing his best to get used to it.

As luck would have it, they caught a fisherman who was just about to depart for the far shore to deliver his catch to the Margrave's estate. On the way across, Marcus filled Takagi in on his precarious quest. "The name sounds familiar," Takagi mused. "Was he a magus?"

"A Lord of Wind, actually," Marcus explained. "Adelbert Trast fought in the Great War and was defeated by a platoon of Valkyries. He sacrificed himself to secure the retreat of his two Guardians."
"What a strange thing to do," Takagi said with mild shock on his face.

Marcus raised an eyebrow. "Come again?"

Takagi shrugged his shoulders. "Why would the Lord of Wind sacrifice himself to protect his Guardians? Should it not be the other way around?"

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