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The Longest Journey Chapter 1

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The first light of dawn painted the horizon in hues of pink and gold as Artenen and Rachel took a moment to rest. After the harrowing experience in the cave and the strenuous night of smelting, the quiet solitude of the wilderness was a welcome relief.

With a makeshift fire crackling beside them, the gentle sizzle of freshly hunted game teased their senses. As Rachel sipped the warm tea Artenen prepared, she looked at the piles of gold coins, still marveling at their unexpected fortune. The crude coins glinted in the rising sun, a testament to their recent adventure and the challenges they had overcome together.

As Artenen lay down for a brief respite, the serene scene was punctuated by the gentle chirping of birds and the distant sounds of the awakening forest. The duo knew that their journey back to town would be filled with caution, but for now, they relished the moment of peace.
The town, still bustling with the same daily activities as when they left, seemed to have moved on without missing a beat. The townsfolk were too preoccupied with their own lives to notice the pair's brief absence.

Artenen, feeling the weight of the journey, made his way back to his humble hut. The familiar surroundings brought him comfort, and the bed beckoned him to rest. The short nap reinvigorated him, and he soon found himself at the nearby spring. The cool, refreshing water cleansed both the dirt from the cave and the stress of their encounter.

With renewed energy, he set about preparing the fire. The flames danced, casting playful shadows as the evening approached. Artenen skillfully cooked the remaining game, the aroma wafting through the air and enticing the occasional curious passerby. As he sat by the fire, he reflected on the day's events, grateful for the moments of peace amidst the chaos.
The next morning in Dorian Cove was nothing short of picturesque. The sun painted the horizon in hues of pink, orange, and gold, casting a warm glow on the serene town. The sounds of waves crashing and birds chirping blended harmoniously with the murmur of the townsfolk.

Fishermen, already back from their early ventures, boastfully displayed their overflowing nets, signifying a bountiful catch. The air was tinged with the aroma of freshly baked sweet bread, hinting at the bakery's morning production. The market was alive with activity; traders and locals bartered fervently, showcasing the freshest produce from the fall harvest.

Artenen emerged from his hut, feeling refreshed from the previous day's adventures. With a sense of purpose, he gathered an assortment of provisions: succulent cuts of meat, freshly caught fish, aromatic tea, cool water, grains, and a variety of breads. With everything in hand, he made his way to Rachel, ensuring she and her pets had a hearty breakfast to start their day.
As the day progressed, Artenen mingled with the townspeople, trying to gather information about available lands in the vicinity. He was welcomed with friendly nods and occasional curious glances, as his heroic deeds from the cave adventure had already become whispered legends among the locals.

Old Marven, the town's historian and landkeeper, overheard Artenen's inquiries and approached him. "Looking to put down roots, are you?" he asked with a knowing twinkle in his eye.

Artenen nodded, "Perhaps it's time. This place has a charm, and with everything that's happened, maybe having a permanent base wouldn't be a bad idea."

Marven stroked his beard thoughtfully. "Well, there's a piece of land to the west of here. It's bordered by the woods on one side and has a clear view of the sea on the other. It's been untouched for years, just waiting for someone with vision."

The idea of owning a piece of this paradise appealed to Artenen. He envisioned a sturdy keep, surrounded by fertile lands where he could farm and perhaps even train the next generation of warriors. A place Rachel and her pets could also call home. The thought brought a smile to his face. "I'd like to see this land," he declared.
Marven led Rachel, Artenen, and their entourage through a wooded path, which opened up into the vast expanse of the property. The sunlight streamed down, illuminating the sparkling waters of the creek that meandered through the landscape. Birds sang from the treetops, and the gentle breeze rustled the leaves, creating a symphony of nature.

"This," Marven gestured expansively, "is the land of your dreams."

Both Rachel and Artenen stood in awe, taking in the beauty that surrounded them. The land was everything they had hoped for and more. The gentle slopes of the property provided the perfect vantage point for viewing the distant sea. They could already imagine the ships anchored in their very own harbor, the bustling markets filled with traders, and the sounds of children playing in the town square.

The possibilities were endless. Artenen, with his strategic mind, started to plot out where the stronghold would stand, fortified and imposing. Adjacent lands could be used for farms to ensure the community's self-sufficiency. Rachel, with her nurturing nature, envisioned gardens blooming with flowers and herbs, a haven for all creatures.

They both walked along the creek, the water glistening as it flowed. "Here," Artenen said, pointing to a flat piece of land, "we can have our gardens. And over there," he pointed further downstream, "a perfect spot for a boat launch and harbor."

Rachel nodded in agreement, her heart filled with hope and excitement. "It's perfect," she whispered.

Marven, seeing their enthusiasm, smiled. "I thought you might like it."

The trio spent the day exploring the vast property, discussing plans, and dreaming of a future that seemed more tangible with each passing moment. By the end of the day, both Rachel and Artenen knew they had found their new home, a place where they could lay down roots and build a community that thrived on unity, understanding, and the magic that existed between them.
Artenen's eyes, decided to bring him back to reality a bit. "Building a stronghold and town here is going to take a tremendous amount of work. Not to mention, the right workforce," Marven mentioned, looking at the vast expanse before them.

Artenen nodded, taking in the beauty of the land. "I'm aware. But with the gold we recently acquired, I believe we have a good starting point."

Marven chuckled, "True, that gold will help. But you'll need skilled builders, laborers, and not to mention protection while construction is underway. Many would be tempted by the wealth you're flaunting."

Rachel chimed in, "We have faced many challenges, Marven. This may be our biggest yet, but together, we'll find a way."

Marven nodded, "I've no doubt you will, especially with the determination I see in both of you." He paused, "If you're serious about this, I can introduce you to some folks. Stonemasons, carpenters, and even some mercenaries for hire."

Artenen smiled, "That would be helpful. Thank you, Marven."
"Among the gardens Rachel could already see, she had marked out certain patches, each blooming with the favorite fruits or vegetables of her loyal familiars:

Julian would have the ripest blueberries to forage.

Epona would munch on juicy, yellow, green and red apples, or carrots and sweet corn. .

!ri and the new owl would enjoy sweet ripe red raspberries.
*They Key of the Star, sparkles, and even her spell pouch hums, excited to help shape this wonder.*

"Great Seasons." She whispers to Artenen.

"Do you feel that?"
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*Before anyone can say another word or even move, the Fortune Mirror Rachel had uncovered prior, seemingly forgoes it own edict. The cover opens and the reflective surface shines.

It reveals an image of nine multicolored beams of light illuminating the ground at the center of the area where they stand.

Four of these light beams then reveal curious, ancient artifacts made of precious metal. Each bears a mystical symbol from the Ethereal Gateway that resonates with one of the four familiars Digimental_courage.png

Digimental_faith (2).png

They move to touch the artifacts and are suddenly clad in armor!

The vision fades, the mirror closes and returns to Rachel's spell pouch.*

*Rachel swoons slightly, A palpable need to meditate with Artenen welling up within.
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