CHAPTER 34

The villagers gathered near the riverbank.

"The river has slowed, good priest," said a burly man with leather apron on. "What has happened?"

"A gift from the children of the water," Wilson explained, noticing the crowd. "Is there a problem if theriver has slowed?"

"Aye, good priest," a lady said, with a belt of gardening tools around her waist. "This river is life for our fair village for our rich soil drinks from it. A slowing river is not a healthy river."

How has the waterfall split in two? Fayte was staring at the top and he could see no boulder or protrusion that could be causing this. "Wilson, we'll take a quick look and then have the water nymphs close it again. That should have the river flowing strong once more."

And so they approached the waterfall to the entrance of a dark looming cave. The villagers claimed to have no knowledge of this cave when Wilson ask them, but Fayte had noticed the look on some of the elders. It bothered them that the water nymphs have revealed this cave, but not enough to make them speak up and stop them from exploring the place.

It was dark and dry and the rocks on the ground were loose. Wilson summoned a sphere of light, sending it high above them. They ventured deeper into the cave and the further they went the lower the ceiling became until the sphere was just above their heads.

Then there was a growl.

Fayte slowly drew his sword as did John. They met eyes with one another before they ventured forth and entered a wide cavern. There was a sound of running water above and around them behind the rocks. It was dry yet it was not stifling like the undertunnels in Eres Star City. The cavern was about as tall as a double-storied inn, and as large as the grand hall of the Castle Rondiar.

All around them were weapons and pieces of armours. Swords and axes, pikes and lances, shields and helms, greaves and gauntlets. There were tables and chairs as well, ones made of wood yet still looked firm and sturdy even though it was clear that they had been here for a good long time. Paintings framed in dull gold lay about against the heap of weapons and amours, the colours faded and the images no longer recognizable. There were scrolls and parchments too, books as well on shelves that stood next to each other in a long row.

Fayte would very much like to pick up one of the swords, for he could tell at a glance that all of them were made of Eresteel. He wanted nothing more than to try the shield with the sharpened edge and the Eresteel shine. But like John and Wilson who were both fascinated by what they had found, all three of them were staring ahead of them where the sphere of light shined.

They were staring at a sleeping wyvern whose head was the size of a whole gryphon.

"Wilson…" Fayte said in his most softest voice. "Stop… shining… the light… on, its, face."

"That's a wyvern," was all Wilson could say as he whispered back. "That, is, a, wyvern!"

Fayte wanted to smack his friend but he dared not move. He could understand Wilson's reaction though. Wyverns were legends. Extinct legends. Templars may be legends like the nine heroes, but they were legends whose existence were proven with evidences such as the Eres Star Temple and the Royal Whiteart family. Wyverns on the other hand had no such proof laying around in Hylan.

The legend of wyverns was that before the rise of the Templars there were riders who rode upon wyverns and ruled Hylan. As time passed the wyvern proved untamed and prone to violence while the wiser ones in the wild were even said to be intelligent and tyrannous. The riders were eventually forced to turn against the wyverns and wiped off the last of their kind. In the process, the Order of the Eres Star was founded. In a way, wyverns used to be what Saldara and the Black City was to Hylan in this age.

An enemy.

And it was at this precise moment that John's stomach decided to rumble and growl.

"Should've grabbed a bite first," John said.

The floor began to rumbled as the wyvern roused with a groan. All three of them were well aware of the legends surrounding the wyverns. And so the first thing they did was to turn and run as fast as they could, but the tunnel they came in by was now blocked.

"Tell me that is not its tail," Wilson said. "Tell me that is too big to be a tail."

Rhastior, Bishop Tydon's companion, was the largest white dragon in Hylan when he was still alive. This wyvern in the cave with them might not be as big as Rhastior, but it was still much larger than the three of them. They turned around and prepared for combat. The wyvern had lifted its head on its long scaly neck to get a good look at them.

Bronze scales glinted in the light, each one with a razor sheen to them. The wyvern looked very much like a dragon,  with a long neck, two legs, two arms, and two leathery wings. The difference was that while a dragon's scales were smooth to the touch, a wyvern's could cut your hand to shreds if you ran your palm across them. Dragons had a majesty to them from the way their eyes settle upon you, to how they could sit still and let children play with them. A wyvern reeked of malice from the way its eyes pierced to how its claws scratched the ground.

"This water nymph Queen just sent us to our death," John said, his hands gripped firmly on the handle of his sword.

His words reminded Fayte that they were led here by the Queen of the water nymphs. I have done no ill to her and this is a gift to us. With that in mind, Fayte lowered his sword and even went so far as to sheath it. He approached the wyvern only to have Wilson pulling him back.

"Don't be insane!" he snapped at him. "That's a wyvern!"

"It could be a dragon," Fayte mused.

"It's a wyvern."
"It's a wyvern!"

Wilson and John both told him.

"I'll be fine," he said, pushing Wilson away before approached the wyvern again.

The wyvern lowered its head towards Fayte and met him midway face to face. Fayte felt hot air gushing across him as the wyvern breathe. It choked him even and left him coughing with his eyes tearing up. Standing this close to it, he could tell that even John's Templar sword would do little good against these scales. If the Templars had truly battle wyverns in the past, they did not use swords and lances to bring down these great beasts.

"My name is Fayte Kaywin," he said slowly. "Squire of the Order of the White Shield. Friend to the Queen of the water nymphs."

The wyvern tilted its head and moved it around to get a good look at Fayte, sniffing at him and even prodding him with its snout. Once it was done, the wyvern raised its head and looked to Wilson and John, eyeing them both, before its gaze settled upon John. The two stared at each other for a few moments. Fayte was beginning to relax a little while Wilson was so tensed that his sphere of light was growing more intense.

After a few moments more, the wyvern recoiled its neck and move its tail away before its head settled down and it went back to slumber.

"John…" Fayte called. "What did it say?"

The man shrugged, not too sure if they could move now. "It didn't say anything to me. It was just staring. Did it say something to ya?"

Fayte shook his head.

"Should we leave?" Wilson asked.

We did not come here just to meet a wyvern. "There's a new path over there now that it moved its tail."

None of them were sure but if the wyvern wanted them dead then it would have killed them already. They turned away from the sleeping beast, staying quiet as they followed the path where its tail had been resting before. It led them to a smaller chamber that resembled a room. There was a desk and more equipment lying about.

Fayte took hold of a sword and held it up. Light. He gave the sword a flourish. Well forged. It was the same for the shield. Larger yet lighter, thinner yet no doubt stronger once Fayte held it. He could definitely see himself getting used to a Templar's shield.

"Now that is a big sword," Wilson said.

His friend was standing in front of a two-handed sword with a scale and a pile of tomes around it. The blade of the sword was as thick as his leg and stood from his neck to the ground. Fayte could only imagine how large or strong a man must be in order to wield it. Wilson picked up one of the tomes and began reading while Fayte joined John by the desk. There were inscriptions on the wall in front of the desk, but Fayte could not read them.

"What is it?" he asked, looking at the parchment John was holding up.

"A map," the man said, engrossed as his eyes shifted about. "Looks like there are more caves like this."

"And each with their own wyvern?"

John was unsure about that. "This was made by the Templars judging from all the artefacts. Doesn't explain the wyvern though."

"The Queen said that this was a gift to us," Fayte told him, his eyes wandering to the Templar's shield. "Should we help ourselves?"

"Nay," Wilson said, placing the tome back onto the floor. "This feels an awful lot like one of those plays with a cave full of treasure and an angry dragon guarding it. Put the map to your memory and do not take it with you. We leave no more burdened than when we entered."