• It was another beautiful day in Autzra as a farm boy walked down the busy main street of the village. The shops that lined the road were full as many travelers were passing through today. Autzra is a small border village full of farms for the outlying fields. It only started a few months ago when so many people started traveling through this village. The king of Erusea had been trying to make better relations with his ally kingdom of Apartheid. Trade between the two nations boomed as they allowed free travel across the border. Autzra was the nearest village to the Aparthian border and had a major trade route running through it.

    As the farm boy weaved through a small group of merchants, he spotted a friend entering a tavern. “Hey Lily, wait up.” He called out making a small dash to her.

    Her ears perked up and looked around to see one of the villagers running up to her. “Hello Edward.” She said with a smile. “I haven’t seen you in a while.”

    Ed came up to her and gave a quick hug. Stepping back, he took a better look at his friend. She was one of the many furries from Apartheid, but more specifically was a white cat. To complement her white fur, she had on a very light blue tunic with matching pants. It still amazed him of how fascinating the furries were. They were still predominantly animal in traits for each of the species there but all walked, talked, and dressed like a human. Height difference to humans was minimal. Only major differences were the fur, fuzzy ears on top of the head, and a tail.

    Following Lily into the tavern, he realized he was still in his dirty work clothes. Ed had the usual yellow tunic with a leather vest over it. Down lower were some tan pants and worn boots. His messy brown hair constantly hung just in sight and had to constantly move it out of the way.

    “So, what brings you back to Autzra?” he said taking a seat opposite of her at the table she chose. “I’m going to guess it’s for some kind of business.”

    Lilly shook her head. “No, I actually just wanted to see you again. I’m sure you heard the news that Aldea captured your capital a few days ago.”

    Ed hung his head down toward the table. It was understandable. They had been friends since they were kids. Lily’s parents were merchants and had been summoned one day by the Erusian king for a special request for an item. Her family had stopped in this village along the way and they met when she had wandered off. As Erusea kept working to bring its two nations closer, they kept seeing each other as her family increased commerce with the capital. Now that she was on her own and doing quite well as a merchant too, they had been meeting ever more often.

    “I’m sure they will forget a village so far out like this one.” He said trying to be optimistic.

    Her ears hung down a little. She knew Aldea would start ousting the furries from its new conquered land. “This might be the last time we see each other. I just wanted to see you one last time.”

    Ed reached across and put a hand on her fluffy shoulder. “Lily.” He said trying to find words of comfort but creating nothing.

    A few tears ran down her face but were quickly wiped away as she got up. “I’m sorry Ed. I need to get something before I leave.” She said before making a quick dash out, not even saying goodbye.

    Ed felt devastated when Lily left him there. His best friend was gone, probably forever. He just sat there in shock for what seemed like an eternity. In reality it was only a few minutes. An unfamiliar voice behind him broke his trance as it said, “Are you the one these villagers call Edward?”

    “Yes, who wants to know?” he said turning around to see a mage dressed in black robes decorated with a few dark green fans on them. This man had black hair that seemed to just hang below his ears but no strand came in front of his face. His face was almost completely pale except for a small red symbol on his forehead.

    “I have a gift for you from someone who cares about you.” The mage said handing him what appeared to be a very valuable sword. Ed took it thinking that it might be a gift from Lily. As Ed withdrew it from its sheath, he marveled at its beauty. It shimmered in the dull sunlight and seemed very light for a two-handed sword.

    The mage bowed to Ed saying, “That is a royal artifact passed down through the ages to the heirs of Erusea. Only a true heir can draw that blade. My name is Oliver and I’m at your service Prince Edward of Erusea.”