Tale #5: Keepers, Blades, and Elements

There are 15 ur-souls of tremendous power that are continuously reborn on all incarnations of Aqualon. All 15 are tied into the five elements, 3 to each one. Per element, one is born into a person, one is tied into a powerful weapon, and one is the ur-soul of that element itself. The person is called a Keeper, and the Keeper's weapon is his or her resonator that allows their soul to connect to the ur-soul of their element, controlling it freely and without the use of their own soul power as mages would.   In the Old World during the early ages of the Nine Realms, the weapons lay buried in the ground, and one day when the Great Tale was told, the collective unconscious roused the Soul Forge, today known as the Great Clockwork, and it, in turn, roused the Keeper weapons, which sheathed themselves into coats of their own elements and emerged from the bowels of the asteroid worlds as Elemental Titans, seeking out their Keepers.

- Fact 105 taken from Old Tim's One Hundred Facts about Aqualon, Volume 2

Atlas and Sam had been arguing a lot today. It was different than usual. Usually, they would disagree on something, talk it out, and then make up. But today, something was nagging at them that they could not resolve, and Din sensed it had something to do with her.   Clever as she was, she kept out of their way for most of the day; skipping the meals she usually had with her fellow Keepers and the Guardians, getting some bread and cheese in the kitchen. She often played with the boys and girls of the kitchen staff, so it was easy enough to get her fill, and as an added bonus, she had a play date for the afternoon: Two of the boys and Tysha, the Master of Soup (or so she called herself), were up for joining her in the nearby woods.   There were no yarenma moths to slay here in the heart of the Middle Lands, so they just made some up and slew those. Of course there were other creatures to conjure up and destroy, but after seeing drawings of the frightful beasts in a dusty old book one of her teachers had made, which Din had read, she had told the good word to her compatriots, and the decision had been made that few animals were as formidable as these horrid abominations.   Sitting on a branch with a fabulous look at the lake by the Tower of Five, she enjoyed her bread and cheese to the fullest, breathing in the mild and fragrant air.   "Room for one more?" came Atlas's voice from the bottom of the tree.   "Hey, no fair, how did you find me?"   "I bribed your friends in the kitchen."   "My traitors in the kitchen, you mean!"   "Don't be too harsh on them, I made them an offer they couldn't refuse."   She grew curious. "What kind of offer?"   "A good show, what else? So, room for one more?" He smiled up at her kindly.   She nodded.   With skilled hands and feet he climbed nimbly up to her side and planted his behind on the broad branch besides her. "I like to come here too sometimes, you know? I enjoy looking at the lake and the tower. It's just not the same from the inside, if you know what I mean."   She nodded again, this time sagely.   "You haven't joined us for dinner," he noted neutrally.   "Business dinner," Din pshaw-ed.   "You know it's not like that, Din. I know we often discuss... matters of state, I suppose, but we are all friends at that table. You know that, right? We just have... responsibilities. That is our lot." He made the lake ripple a little, then had a thin stream of water rise out of it in the distance, gliding through the air like a snake performing a strange dance, zipping about just above the surface of the water.   Din swayed her dangling legs back and forth while enjoying the show. "I like it when you do that," she said cheerfully.   "Hmm," he replied. "In reality, I don't really do it, you know? All I do is pray to the water." He pulled the great sword Aalandra from his back. It was long and had a slight, elegant curve. The front was bladed while the back was thick and sturdy. He held it up to let the sunlight reflect off of it, inspecting it thoughtfully. Then he held it out to Din with both hands. "Here, would you like to hold it?"   "But I can't!" she exclaimed in shock. "Everyone says the Keeper weapons kill you if you're not the one supposed to hold them!"   "They do say that. But Aalandra is alright with it, so you may hold it if you want to."   She hesitated. But in the end, her curiosity was too powerful, so she gingerly took the heavy sword, though not before carefully prodding it to see if her hand would explode. When it didn't, she weighed the weapon in her hand and considered it thoughtfully. "It's so strange... it is almost as if there is a tiny heartbeat inside."   "That is because it is very much alive. There is a soul inside this sword, just as there is within you and me. That soul, the soul of Aalandra, is bound to mine. We are soul-mates, you could say. When I pray to the water, Aalandra hears my prayer, and it can speak with the water so that it understands. The water is my soul-mate too, that is why we get along so well." He seemingly changed the topic: "You haven't come to dinner because you think Sam and I are fighting."   It was not a question. And he was right, of course. She nodded while looking intently ahead, her hands still holding the sword carefully.   "Well, if you thought we were fighting because of you, you were not entirely wrong. You didn't do anything, so don't worry about it. A very big event is going to happen in Lumina Aka."   "Hmm..." she said.   "It is very important to the people who live there, and it is very important to them that you are there to celebrate it with them."   "But I like celebrating!"   "Yes. But to let you go there, in the center of attention... Well, to keep up appearances and show that both the Tower and Lumina Aka are strong, it will be expected that you carry your sword." His voice was inscrutable.   "Saramaganda? But... I thought I was too young!"   "Well, as I have been trying to tell Sameth, it is not a question of age but a question of... maturity. Do you think you are ready for the responsibility of carrying that sword?"   "I..." she paused and thought about it. Though barely twelve years old, she felt ready to take on anything. Perhaps she would have to cut back on playing pretend with the other boys and girls... With the burden of Saramaganda, she would probably also get some sort of office with a desk, and then she would have to write many decrees and whatnot. "I don't know..." she finished, still looking ahead.   "Well, that is already a much more mature answer than you would have given me last year, if you ask me," Atlas replied. He let the water in the lake settle, and they were both quiet for a while.   "If... if I do take the sword... What if something bad happens? Or if I get mad? Will someone catch fire and get hurt?" she asked carefully.   Atlas smiled at that question. "You know, I think you'll be great, Din. I don't think that is ever going to happen."   "Then I'll do it!"
— From "The Din of High Saxia"


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