• Prologue: The Origin of Artisan

    First, imagine yourself in this world quite similar to ours, in truth it is a mirror of ours. However, things aren’t as bad as it seems, actually…its worse! New York is a hell-pit of shoplifters, carjackers, and many similar crimes. Texas is now a huge dust-bowl, some states aren’t even livable anymore. This world my friend, is the world our Hero Alan Johnson lives in. He may be a normal young adult on the outside, but inside…inside lies a powerful warrior. And that warrior is known as Artisan, the sole hope for this dying, alternate world.

    Now, imagine many of these warriors working together to save this world from unseen threats that go by unnoticed to most people. Ghosts, demons, monsters, alien and sacred creatures, anything both good and evil, of myth or legend have often made their way into this world. Due to the curse placed on the first copy of a book titled The Fairy’s Emblem. At one time, there were a great many Artisans, but now those numbers have dwindled to a mere handful.

    Fifty…fifty true artisan’s remain in the United States, each of them stationed as the sole protector of their hometown or city. Outside America, only a few hundred Artisans are at the whims of the noble leader who has remained hidden somewhere in New York. He or she strongly believes that Alan has high potential, but is disappointed with his abrupt and sometimes disrespectful use of his powers.

    Lastly, we join Alan Johnson on his average day, just as he finishes his latest assignment. Unfortunately, for him, his usually long break from work won’t last quite as long. In fact that very book, who’s denizens and creatures occasionally slip into this alternate world, is where our story, and Alan’s journey begins.

    Chapter One: The Journey Begins

    Alan sighed as he looked at the swath of careless excessive force he used in taming the large dragon now laying behind him in a large energy net. Though these were truly the streets of the worst state to live in ever, New York, none but Alan and the few people trying to grab hold of the net.

    “Look I don’t want to here it okay, if it’s the same song as before I am not in the mood!” Alan put his hands up defensively as he spoke with slight sense of fear and a hint of sarcasm.

    A hooded figure in an incredibly ornate cloak that looked like something you’d expect to see in a Harry Potter movie appeared in front of Alan from a beam of light shot down from the sky. The artisan symbol lied both on her necklace and on the cloak, which she soon threw off to reveal her field clothes.

    “Thorn?? What the heck are you doing here…and I thought you were plant elemental…” Alan’s tone was as shocked as his face as he eyed the essentially curvy woman about his age over.

    “Haha, you’reRoku…hmph…more like nature boy; it’s no wonder you’re still in the lower thirties! And duh, it’s a teleporter spell…besides…you know the masters never show up in person.” She responded with a chuckle as she walked around him rather erm…teasingly.

    Alan blinked as he tried to calculate what the famous lady Thorn was talking about. Was she mocking him, or simply trying to intimidate him sexually. Whatever it was, he didn’t know what to think of this Ally of his.

    “Wait…what state are you? I mean…aren’t you stationed somewhere else; New York’s my domain sweetheart. Or is this…heh…a personal visit, and would you know anyone by the name of Rose by any chance?” Alan chuckled as he spoke and used his body language to show her he wasn’t intimidated.

    Thorn froze; this boy sure had a good poker face if he caught on to her this quickly. And why did he suddenly ask her about a normal name? Business was business, and as nervous as she was. She couldn’t ruin her secret, especially with him seemingly reminding her of someone she’d met recently.

    “R-rose…oh uhm…hmph…I know what you’re doing big boy! Well it’s not going to work! I don’t know who the hell this Rose girl is or why you’re so interested in her.” She responded bitterly as she quickly casted another teleportation spell and vanished.

    Alan stood there in shock, what the heck was that all about? Was this Lady Thorn Bi-polar or something, whatever the case he didn’t have time for that now.

    “Oh crap, I’m gonna be late again!” He thought aloud as he quickly realized the morning sun rising and shining its orange light on the now slightly misty streets of his run down, hell pit of a hometown.

    Alan rushed as quickly as he could on foot, but the school was downtown and several blocks away from him. At this rate, he would never make it in time. So he created hills of mud around his feet and used them to thrust himself forward at a much faster pace, making sure to stay out of sight. This was perfectly doable when all he had to do was take slow, deep breaths and raise his arms. Turning the low mist into a now thick fog as he passed places where many people were at. When he came up to the run down, slightly destroyed school Alan wondered why this place still had the highest rank of students in the county. Honestly, the creaky wooden gymnasium floors…the dorm doors that nearly fell off their hinges? Well even if he didn’t get it, maybe his parents did, and were paying the nice two thousand a year price to prove it.

    “Alan Johnson…hmph…tardy or rather, very fashionably late again! What was it this time…a Harpy asked you out on a date?” The voice of his skinny, lab coat-wearing teacher was annoyed and disgusted as always.

    As he looked at his nervous classmates, he realized that this woman was the famous professor. The stone cold giant standing at around five two who’s skill in depriving a student of ‘stalling’ was world known. Alan himself being a professional in this skill, and the clock being just a few ticks away from the bell. He figured he’d put his own slightly super quarterback build against the grind.

    “Oh… verrrry funny coming from a teacher who knows that this particular student hates ‘fiction’. I just got caught up in traffic is all…so…what did I miss Teach?” He asked with a big grin on his face walking up to the desk and resting his hand on the table.

    The already steamed professor glared at the coy young man staring her down with a big grin on his face, she raised an eyebrow at his disheveled hair and devious eyes. So what if the child could easily bench two hundred and forty pounds, a student was a student. And she intended to make that point clear, here and now. She did so by pulling a book out of her desk and slamming it on the top in front of him.

    “Well, well…so you’re the infamous trickster, hmph…oh yes the inner circles of the teaching conventions and meetings have told me plenty of information about you young man! Just to let you know, I just assigned the rest of the class a five-page essay on this book. I’m sure you’ll find it quite enjoyable.” She shoved the large paperback book in the boys face and handed him the details of the assignment.

    Alan was a bit surprised; this woman wasn’t gonna back down any time soon. Noticing the clock again, he smiled and flicked his wrist a few times.

    “So you expect me to do five page report on thi--hey, what’s the idea teach??” Alan played dumb as he tried to swipe the book from his teacher.

    “Hmph! Not so fast “hot shot”! This’s my personal copy of The Fairy’s emblem…you can look at the charming bookstore that just got a copy in this week. Everyone else has been reading it over spring break.” The professor’s voice was happy, yet still assertive as she spoke.

    The other students hushed and started chatting quietly as the two went back and fourth, Alan continued to give them the ditching signal that stalers often used to let the class know what they were up to. The clock kept ticking away, and the argument grew tenser as it went on, until finally the teacher was caught off guard by something she never expected to hear at a time like this.

    “Well I nerve--… very clever Alan, I admit defeat this time…and I’m letting you off with a warning. But if you ever try and stall me again…” She paused and put her hand on a detention slip as the bell rang and the many students bolted to the cafeteria.

    “Ha, we’ll see miss Agatha…we’ll see!” Alan laughed as he took his assignment and punishment happily and left the room with a big grin on his face.

    “Oh dear…what AM I going to do with that boy…perhaps you could help him more than I. Then again…even I don’t believe you’re real…” Agatha responded with a chuckle while looking at the book’s inside cover art. A picture of a so-called goddess was painted extremely ornately on a mural.

    Alan groaned after hours of searching several bookstores, one book is all he needed. But no…the world famous book just had to be sold out at every store, well perhaps not every store in town. He’d avoided the one place his teacher suggested. So he spent a few minutes asking people about the place his teacher had written down.

    After a few hours of walking, he came up to a quaint little store shoved in-between two other stores. The place was like those old Chinese buildings, with slanted roof, red tiling, bamboo walls, and of course excessively detailed dragon sculptures. A sign that was above the door red the name of the store, and it just had to be a dragon shaped sign…corny.

    “The Golden Dragon…ugh…I think I’m gonna lose my lunch…” Alan groaned sarcastically as he entered the shop holding his breath.

    The inside of the place was even freakier than the outside, and definitely overdone. Its furniture had the dragon theme, and the shelves and walls were decorated with of course dragons. Top that off with the enormous mural rug on the floor, the bead curtains on the inside of the doors to the other areas of the store. This place was definitely cornball central; it was like he was in a bad horror movie, or at least one of those freaky bookstores. As in, one of the kind where something weird or crazy happens to the person that bought a book from there.

    Odd…why the heck is my artisan charm glowing? Hmph must be bugging out cause of all the cliché in the area. Alan thought with a chuckle as he walked up to the counter.

    A woman in a surprisingly underdone Kimono came shuffling out of the back room with a smile on her face. If not for the fact that she worked in the freaky bookstore, Alan could’ve considered asking about her daughters if any.

    “Ah…another bold adventurer ready to challenge the works of Hara…what can I do for you young man?” The woman asked with a warm and surprisingly calm tone as she started writing things down.

    Alan wasn’t sure what this woman meant, Hara…that sounded like some Roman or Greek god or something. Whatever the case, and despite the freakiness of the voices coming from the shelves of the store, he decided to ask.

    “Uh….Riiigggghhhht…I’m a student at a local school, and my teacher sent me here to-” The woman put her hand over his mouth and laughed.

    “Ah-ah I know exactly what you’re here for…just give me a moment.” She disappeared behind the back rooms taking one of those rolling ladders with her.

    Oookayy…creepy, hmm…nice place. Alan thought with a laugh as he wandered around the main room a little bit.

    As he wandered the shelves of the front room, Alan noticed something weird about the store. The woman disappeared behind a room where he saw there was no store on the other end on the outside; she also knew what he was here for somehow. The oddest thing being that his artisan charm had started to speak to him. His charm was something he’d always found important, made of gold, silver, bronze, and sapphire that glowed whenever danger was near. Sometimes the charm even served as a warning of danger, but where was the danger at…good question!

    “Okay…this place is getting creepy enough…huh…no way…you have it?!” Alan turned around when she returned to the front counter with a big smile on her face and a rather large book in her hands.

    “Yes…I must caution you…this is a very dangerous copy. It’s one of the original printings, a rare artifact indeed. See for yourself the wonders it contains…” She responded handing the unsurprisingly overdone book to him carefully, like it was about to explode or something.

    Alan cautiously took the large, leather book in his hands. Its front cover covered in gold symbols of an unrecognizable language and one very large seal. A pair of long bodied dragons dueled each other while wrapping themselves around four seals, earth, water, fire, and wind. Oddly enough, a small keyhole shaped design was embedded in the center. In English just above the seal it red The Fairy’s Emblem.

    “Whoa…the pictures look…alive…” Alan flipped through the pages and smiled in awe of the detail. Even a friend of his couldn’t draw this well.

    “Yes…they are alive, that world is brought to life by the imaginations of every living child. Their sorrows, their happiness, their dreams and nightmares are all floating around the words of those pages. Do you here that…the book is calling to you…” She explained with a smile as the book’s voices began to speak.

    Alan raised an eyebrow, there was definitely something weird about this book. As he flipped through some of the latter pages of the book, he started to hear cries of help. Oddly enough, he felt compelled to answer them, if he could. He chuckled and shook the idea out of his head, like he would want to do that.

    “Um…Riiigggghhhht…so…how much to rent--ouch…what the heck is wrong with you lady??” Alan responded in a panic as she slammed the book closed onto his hands.

    “No rent, only buy! This journey is one that must be finished in one reading…” She snapped sternly and a little fearfully as one of the dragon’s glowed purple, the other glowed white.

    “Alright, alright…Jeeze…here then…is this enough?” Alan reluctantly gave half of his billfold to the strange woman.

    “Yes…be sure to let me know how your…haha book report goes…” She chimed with a chuckle as he walked out of the store in a hurry.

    Man…what is up with that lady? What did she mean all that bull crap about the pages being alive anyway…oh well. I guess there’s only one way to find out. Alan chuckled a little and headed back to his dorm in as quick a rush as he left the store.

    Alan laughed at the thought of it, books coming alive with people’s imagination. Yeah right, he had no imagination; it wouldn’t faze him if he saw a God or something. With all due curiosity, he began to flip through the book some more.

    “Hara the goddess of fiction…yeah right…there’s only one God. Hmm…I wonder how much this piece of junk would go for on EBay.” Alan thought aloud with a chuckle as he dusted off the emblem on the front.

    “Piece of junk?! How dare you criticize that which you have not read nor written and imagined?” A booming and angry female voice erupted from the book as Alan tossed it to the floor.

    Oh…it looks as if I’ve angered a god, tsk this aught to be interesting. Alan thought with a smirk as he watched the book open and flip through its own pages rapidly.

    “I see you are quite disbelieving Alan Johnson! Hmph well…perhaps a little make believe in my world will change that.” A large and transparent woman appeared from the pages of the book as the room began to generate wind.

    “Your world…ha, if you’re a god lady…then prove it! Do something so all mighty that’ll scare the crap outta me just by looking at you!” Alan figured he’d taunt this image of a woman who’d shown herself.

    “You dare disrespect me…the guardian god of all fiction which you have so callously criticized?! Very well…it seems that your desperate teen years and the loss of your family have robbed you of your imagination. If you wish to be re-sparked in that manor…I’ll be happy to oblige!” The woman roared angrily as she raised an arm into the air.

    While she did this, the door locked, the wind got even more violent and pages started flowing out of the book. They all had the same text on them, which of course was glowing with a weird energy. Slowly a vacuum formed from the winds and started pulling Alan toward the book.

    “Let us see how the oh so brave hero fares against the villains of my world! I hope you learn something from this Alan, this is something I do not do lightly!” The woman vanished into the book as a bolt of lightning and the vacuum got even stronger.

    “What the heck…god…she wasn’t kidding…oh crap! This can’t happen now…my book report!” Alan shouted in surprise as the pull continued to strengthen.

    Alan tried and tried, but the more he resisted the more tenacious the winds and elements around him became. There was soon thunder and even lightning floating about inside his dorm, and a large black cloud had formed. At one point Alan tried to use his powers, when he did he was struck by lightning and was sucked into the book as if it were a black hole.