Location: On the road to Monthaven
Timeline: Sixth Age, Year 52, Early Spring
Although I never liked him, I have to give Emcorae Azop credit for a trait I valued in myself – Curiosity. Like me, Emcorae was surrounded by people who didn’t value this trait – in fact it seems that Emcorae was repeatedly admonished throughout his life for being overly-curious. But whether it had been his Azora master El-Janus, his father Alboris, his mother Beckali, or any host of others, to date none who had tried to cure him of it had been successful. And so, despite all their advice, he had continued to remain overly inquisitive about the mysteries of his world. This coupled with his penchant for being a bit of a risk taker is eventually what led him to cause problems for ME – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves in this story just yet.
I never knew the Goddess of Love had her sights on Emcorae Azop, but as I told you, she’d apparently been watching the boy all his life.
I later learned that Emcorae was born eighteen summers ago, at dusk, while the powerful star Red Regalis dominated the sky on a moonless night near the end of the second month of Summer, of the 34th year, of the Sixth Age of Substance (1). Since that time he’d developed into a fine specimen as humans go, with what his people considered a handsome face dominated by an aquiline nose and big brown eyes. (2) With a still-childlike beardless face, the young man had a prominent jaw ending in a slightly pointed chin, as well as a toothy smile that he happily displayed – sometimes at the most inappropriate times. With brown hair cropped short and a body taut and lean after years of training, he was of average height for his people, still his form was well proportioned. I suppose then that one could say Emcorae Azop was moderately attractive as far as Enoks go, yet I could find a thousand who outshined him and to this day I fail to see why Alyssa was so enamored with the man.
Meanwhile, Emcorae knew that his eyes were the telltale passageways to his heart, and he also knew that his inability to mask his emotions had often made his master El-Janus doubtful that Emcorae would ever be able to concentrate on the Way of the Azora. These doubts were part of the reason Emcorae was traveling home – for his master advised that he needed to take some time to “find himself” before he could continue further on the Azora path.
Still at his final campsite on the road to Monthaven, Emcorae Azop laughed cynically to himself as he faced his own doubts about being able to control his emotions.
“How can I ever hide what I am feeling? What will be left of ME if I do that?” He wondered aloud. Then, defiantly, his jaw jutting out, he added, “Let the world look into my eyes – they will see the true champion that I know I am!”
And so, as he lay back and looked at the stars above, Emcorae found himself pondering the secrets behind those dazzling lights that served as a backdrop for the stealthy journey of the moon. And the moon – that mysterious face in the sky that no matter how hard he tried to keep track of its path, still always seemed to lull him to sleep while it made its escape to…where? And then, before he knew it, the sun would once again be crossing the azure sky in its stately walk through heavens, leaving those now lost stars as much of an enigma as their mother moon.
Looking up, Emcorae subconsciously picked out the constellations taught to him by his elvish master as he wonder again about his future. Although he’d been performing well during his trials at the Glade of Gazza, and despite the fact that he had grown so much over the years, even still, he felt small for his age around the long and lithe Amorosi he’d trained with and he wasn’t sure how he would stack up around the friends of his youth whom he was about to meet again. Yet most of all, Emcorae worried that his father would still look upon him as a boy and not the man he longed to be – for no matter how well Emcorae could relate the stories of his time with the elves, he knew his father would never believe all the heroic deeds he had performed at the Glade of Gazza, and although Emcorae was probably just as tall as Alboris Azop now, still he felt like a little boy in the remembered shadow of his sire.
It’s true that his master El-Janus had molded the once bony stick figure Emcorae used to be into a fine specimen full of sinewy fast muscles – but was that enough? Would it ever be enough to live up to the unknown expectations that went along with being the first human Azora warrior? Only time and the gods themselves knew the answer to that.
Emcorae reached out and picked up his Azora’s sword, studying the weapon. The blade he had been given by his mysstro was a katana – a priceless sword that had been forged especially for him by an Amorosi smithy at El-Janus’ request. Emcorae now recalled the lengthy process that the craftsman had gone through – one he’d been forced to observe in order to appreciate all the more. At first, his katana was fashioned by mixing both hard and soft steels together repeatedly – continually heating and refusing the steel pieces together, and then beating them into a long bar which was heated and treated over and again. After covering the blade in a mixture of clay and ashes, eventually, only a thin layer of cutting edge remained on the final thick-bodied blade, which the smith then quenched one final time in water. The result was Emcorae’s katana – a two-and-a-half foot long, thin-bladed sword that had a central core resilient to combat, hard enough to deflect an enemy cut, and yet which had a razor’s edge that did not sacrifice sharpness and which never dulled! And although it wasn’t meant for thrusting, even still, its slightly convex cutting edge was so tough, it could not only split plate armor but was effective against the tightest weaved mail as well. (3)
“Heat it until the steel has the color of the moon in the water…” Emcorae repeated aloud that which the elvish blacksmith had told him was the secret of making a true katana. As he examined the blade on this evening, he was amazed once more how much his sword was different than the common swords most men carried – for Emcorae’s katana had the appearance of a lustrous blue mist that bespoke of a cluster of stars shrouded by a cloudy sky.
“Why was I given such a mighty weapon?” He pondered again what was still a mystery to him – for few Azoras Novitiates were ever blessed with the opportunity to carry a katana (that privilege using being reserved for Cavaliers and above), and yet Emcorae received the honor as a Pupil – something that was unprecedented!
After a time, the young man put down his sword and let his mind turn to other things – thoughts that had repeatedly plagued him on this journey and that he still didn’t have an answer to.
Why was I the first man chosen to be an Azora?
Can I really do it? How will I ever know? Here I am training to fight monsters that I have never even seen – Morati, Pyrhalli, Boogiti. Bah! I may know their names but I do not know their sight. Yet do I really want to?!?
A TRUE Azora would.
Am I a true Azora?
But twenty more years just to become a Novitiate! That’s a lifetime!
Is that what I really want out of life?
Time passed, and with these same questions that had been with him from nights past, Emcore fell asleep with his back to a log while his warm blankets remained all spread out – unused – under his makeshift tent.
Seeing this, the elvish horse Joanne snorted her horsy laugh and then closed her eyes too. It was nothing new for Emcorae to fall asleep like this without making it back to his tent, and while the horse knew that her friend wouldn’t be as comfortable as he could be with his precious covers to keep him snug, she judged that there was no real danger for him to remain where he was, so she let him sleep. Besides, the horse knew also that her companion would definitely not be comfortable enough to want to sleep late as he was always talking about; and the fact was that Joanne didn’t really want to waste the entire morning just wandering around getting fat on thistles while the still-too-skinny boy slept his life away.
Thistles…mmmm. With those happy thistle thoughts in her mind, the philly wandered off to that secret place wherever it is that horses – be they elvish or not – go to dream.
Emcorae for his part went from snoring to drooling, as his innocent dreams had reached the part about gnokkies or something else just as mouth watering from his grandma’s kitchen.
Meanwhile, Alyssa watched as Emcorae slept and the goddess smiled as she noted that the young man had near him the weapon that she had <moved> Fate to bring to him.
Entering the campsite, the goddess quietly stole up beside the Amorosi horse and whispered a spell of sleep into Joanne’s ear. Next she cast her hands over Emcorae, sending him further into the dream realm as well.
Only then did the goddess set to work about carrying out her real labours.
Throughout the rest of that night, while the moon trailed across the sky, the Goddess of Love performed an ancient and arcane ritual over the innocent young man. At various stages, she incorporated special flowers, mysterious potions, and carefully paced dance steps, sometimes seeming as if she herself was the one under a hypnotic trance. All the while she hovered around, beside, and even over top of the sleeping Emcorae.
At certain times during that nighttime ritual, varied animals and creatures came to assist her – some common to these woods and others strange and little seen – yet all playing a pre-ordained role in Alyssa’s master design. At critical points in the rite, the goddess would lift up her sweet voice to the surrounding trees while also raising up her arms in apparent rejoice, only afterwards to hush and point down at Emcorae, almost as if she were staking a claim to the sleeping boy at her feet, with all the wild world as her witness.
During the entire time neither Emcorae nor Joanne awoke. Nor did anyone or anything who was not invited come to disturb Alyssa’s work.
In the end, just before the dawn, the goddess concluded her ritual by carefully sprinkling a magical dust around the eyes, lips, and heart of Emcorae. The dust itself had been made from ground-up rose petals, Alyssa’s own silky hair fibers, sunflower nectar, and other ingredients unbeknownst even to me.
The end result of all these labours by the goddess was that, when Emcorae Azop awoke, he was now destined to fall hopelessly in love with the first woman he laid eyes upon for the rest of her life. The magical spell was in fact so powerful that no other person could ever compare to the attraction Emcorae was about to experience and as such Alyssa was ensuring that the man would forever do anything in his power to be with his soon-to-be Life’s Love.
Yet most importantly of all was this – once Emcorae fell in love, it would be an unbreakable bond, and no magic – mortal or divine – could reverse this spell, for such was the power that the goddess had imparted of herself into Emcorae Azop’s soul during her ritual.
Naturally Alyssa planned for herself to be Emcorae’s Life’s Love.
And while Alyssa was after all the Goddess of Love, was beautiful beyond compare, and probably did not need any additional special help to win the heart of any man or woman on Substance, still she wasn’t about to take any risks when it came to Emcorae. For she all too painfully recalled how she had lost what she once thought was her perfect lover, Alfranco Azop, only a half a century past. Having lost Al-Corragio, the goddess was not about to let anything ruin her designs.
Although even I didn’t know it at the time, I later learned that Alyssa was so intent on possessing Emcorae as her own that she was the source that had caused a gargoyle to locate Alfranco and Emcorae – a dangerous alliance that Love had used to aid her selfish designs. And, although it might also be said that Alyssa was now about to take away the “power of choice” from Emcorae’s heart, that fact also didn’t overly concern her – for the goddess vowed to reward Emcorae his sacrifice beyond compare!
Eventually, her labours completed, the goddess stole away back into the shadows nearby, where she then removed her garments. Waiting for the sun to rise, Alyssa stood among the trees, her golden locks cascading in curls down past the naturally tanned skin of her shoulders and barely covering her breasts. With a figure that was the picture of passionate womanhood, Alyssa waited for the coming morn, whereupon she planned to reveal herself to Emcorae Azop – knowing he would then fall madly in love with her and they would thus spend the rest of his life together in blissful happiness!
“Yea though I did lose my fruits of passion with Alfranco, that will I surely have forever with Emcorae!” The goddess’ sing song voice sounded softly in the nighttime breezes. “We will be as one for the rest of his magical life and I will satisfy him like no other.”
And Alyssa licked her lips in anticipation.
As the first rays of the new day split the clouds, Alyssa, the Goddess of Love, stepped forth from the shadows and into the glade where slept Emcorae.
She was literally glowing with sexual passion as she stood in front of him.
Yet just as the goddess opened her mouth and broke the spell of sleep holding her lover, suddenly there appeared behind her a new divine presence!
And in a flash, the god Pan did steal away with Alyssa!
Her muffled cries were but barely heard in the mortal world, for just as quickly as the God of Fertility had appeared, so too did he vanish with the Goddess of Love as his captive. Pan took Alyssa instantly back to his home on Arcady Island where he ravished her again and again – for it happened that Pan had just now been summoned to these very woods himself, and upon his arrival at that moment he had immediately sensed the mounting sexual tension of Alyssa and therefore had been drawn to her exact location. As the god of wild primal urges, Pan could only surmise that Alyssa – his on-again, off-again long-time lover – had performed the arcane ritual to summon him since he the original god of sex and lust. Therefore, Pan immediately obliged Alyssa and stole her away to his home — where his subjects witnessed the lovemaking of the gods while their eternal celebrations continued non-stop around that divine pair.
Unable to resist Pan’s wild advances, Alyssa gave in to her passions – and all the while her spell continued to work its magic on Emcorae’s heart.
- That’s using the Amorosi measurement of time. Using your modern day timeline you’d mark that in the year 2488 Before Christ – although I don’t think I have to remind you that the calendar you use is hopelessly off the mark.
- When last Emcorae was living at home, Beckali often warned her son, “Be careful who you flash those puppy dog eyes on – any girl who sees them will have no choice but to give you anything you desire.” At which point the boy would blush furiously, for like most of his friends he was terrified of the opposite sex. Six years later that was still the case as those puppy dog eyes had gone untested during his days among the Amorosi – for Emcorae had spent his days preoccupied with the sole contemplation of how to become a stronger, faster, and better warrior and never explored the sure-to-be awkward allure of a woman despite his training partner Nathily being one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet.
- Why the Amorosi would have gifted such a beautiful piece of killing art to a commoner like Emcorae I’ll never know. They’d have been better off giving it to me – I could have made some use of it!