Chapter 11: Her and the King
A blond haired woman is walking down a long corridor accompanied by a large man clad in blue and white armor. The woman is wearing a light white dress that drags to the floor, on her wrists and around her neck are beautiful gold and blue diamond jewelry with the inscribed letter of a capital T. The man's armor has similar inscriptions on it as well.
“So what is the war report, Sturgess?” the woman asks.
To which the man named Sturgess replies, “The La'Juutians were the first to take the initiative with an offensive strike, but our western branch border defense regiment are holding their own for now. Our eastern branch offensive regiments are in the process of invading Eiyalazo, though getting through that wretched forest is to our disadvantage.”
“All in all, are things going good or bad?”
“Well I'd say they are going better than expected; plus, our recruitment centers are adding thousands of applicants each day. It seems that our country has united for this cause.”
The woman smiles, she turns her head toward him, revealing her large dark gold eyes. She is strikingly beautiful and looks much younger than her actual age of 35.
“That's good... though so many of them disagreed with my decision to obtain peace, it only takes a betrayal of that promise in order for them to all agree on something, it's actually quite funny. But I am sympathetic to their outrage; one of those rotten countries has my daughter, I'd expect nothing less than righteous indignation from my citizens.”
The woman continues to walk down the corridor until they reach a large glass door, they walk through it and enter a large balcony. The balcony sits near the top of a large castle. Though not as massive as the castle of La'Juune, this one has a much more intricate design to it and the stone to the structure is white. The curtains in the windows are all blue, and at the top point of castles flies a white flag with a large blue letter T.
The view from the balcony is like it came out of a fairy tale, beautiful snow capped mountains tower over lush green fields. Dark green pine trees are spotty throughout these fields and intertwine quaint wooden houses that lay to the side of cobblestone roads. Similar to what a more densely populated mountain town inSwitzerland would like, other than the castle, not many of these houses or buildings rise all that high, giving this city the feel that it has perfectly bonded with its natural environment.
Sturgess sighs and rubs his light beard, his hair both on his face and his head is of a salt and pepper color, with his hazel eyes he looks to be in his late thirties and has a rather large scar printed over his right eyebrow.
“I definitely didn't foresee this happening, Earth’s first official attempt at world peace ends up turning into a world war... the irony certainly stings a little.” he said while looking at the view.
The woman pulls a long pipe out of a nap sack connected to the belt on her waist, she lights a match and begins to smoke the scented tobacco leafs already grinded into the bowl of the pipe. She roughly blows out a cloud of smoke.
She looks out in the distance and asks, “Do you know why a woman such as myself is the one to rule this country, and not a man?”
Sturgess stands in silence as she continues.
“It's because men are only good for fighting, whilst women are better suited for decision making. Thus the reason why I alone run this country through my intellect, and that idiot husband of mine is out there on the front lines.”
Sturgess looks away and with his mouth makes a sour expression.
The woman inhales another drag off her pipe and continues, “The La'Juutian government has taken for granted the fact that I gave them my only daughter and rightful heir to my throne in an attempt at finally making amends for past violence. Whether they kidnapped her themselves, or allowed her to be taken away from under their noses is an unforgivable offense.”
With her eyes she scales the beautiful city, she rests her head on her hand and says, “The people of my country see it the same way as I do. I rather like my daughter, if something happens to her, my anger would know no bounds. Plus, I'd need to have another child to become the future Queen. Which would mean that the idiot husband of mine will have to live through this war. This could lead to a dreadful succession if we don’t get her back.”
Sturgess twitches his eyebrow and quickly replies, “In the case of the King's death, wouldn't it be easy to find another husband?”
The woman smiles and answers, “Of course it would be, the thing is, I don't want to. Nor will I do so if that becomes the case.”
Sturgess frowns and raises his voice, “But that would jeopardize our country's future!”
The woman turns to him, blows a plume of smoke in his face and laughs. “No need to get so worked up Sturgess, I'm only kidding. Though I wouldn't want to bare a child with anyone other than him, I'd have no choice in the matter.”
She tips her pipe over and watches the ashes float away in the wind off the balcony.
Once they falll out of view, she walks toward the door and pats Sturgess's shoulder and says, “Perhaps you would be the best candidate for my future husband?”
His hazel eyes brighten up with excitement, the woman continues to walk into the castle, leaving him behind.
Through the echo of the hallway she continues to speak, but this time she makes the mockery in her tone more obvious. “But I wouldn't get my hopes up if I was in your position. You, the King, and I have been friends since we were kids. You should know very well that that idiot won't ever die out there. He loves me and his daughter far too much to be stupid enough to die like a dog in the mud.”
The door shuts and his vision of the woman can no longer be seen.
Sturgess turns and leans on the balcony railing, he takes a deep breath and says to himself, “Oh Queen Lelaine, that's where you're wrong. The King fights in my army, and with his death, I'll finally be able to have that body of yours. Hehehe, with his death, I'll become the King of Troy!”
“Hey you idiot! I said get your ass over here!!!”
Responding to the sound of this girl's a voice, a man scurries out of a group of soldiers huddling around a campfire. This man has faded brown hair and dark green eyes, he's wearing blue soldier's armor and looks to be a typical army man.
He runs to the front of the girl who called out to him, moves his arm to a saluting position and shouts, “Yes mam!”
The tan skinned girl frowns and grabs his collar to maneuver his upper body lower to her position. “If I remember correctly, I specifically asked you to clean the latrines did I not?”
The man shows a nervous smile as a cold sweat rolls down his temple, the girl's crimson red eyes grow bright at the sight of his face and she loudly blows air out of her nose.
“You're lucky I'm in a good mood tonight, I had someone else do it.” She turns her head around quickly, and as a result whips the man with her wavy black hair, she walks a few feet away from him and fiddles with the white clothe worn under her thin red armor. “But! If I catch you slacking off again, I'll have you on guard duty for twenty four hours straight!”
The man jumps in fear at her declaration and once again postures himself for another salute before replying, “Y-Yes mam!”
The girl stops her walk and turns half of her body toward him, with a blushing red face and her eyes diverted away, as if not wanting anyone else to hear her voice she softly says, “I've told you this before... call me Ash.”
She blinks awkwardly a couple times and then walks away into a crowd of loitering soldiers.
The man sighs loudly and scratches his head, he walks back to the campfire and rejoins the group, he heavily drops his body and sits on a log seat. The whole group of nine men simultaneously burst into laughter at the expense of the scolded man.
“Buahahaha, jeez Zurvick, she really has an out for you.”
“No kidding, she's a total nightmare for all of us but she is a complete demon to you!”
The man named Zurvick scratches his head and comes to her defense. “Oh come on guys, she's just doing her job as our Captain.”
One of the men nudges Zurvick's shoulder rather hard and says, “Being a strict captain is one thing, but sadism towards one of her underlings is another.”
Another one of the men adds, “Isn't she only a teenager?”
“Ooh yeah that's right! She's only nineteen, we all tend to forget her age because she talks to us like we're children.”
Zurvick drops his head and says, “Okay okay, give her a break.”
A man teasingly wraps his arm around around Zurvick's head and asks, “Could it be that you're some kind of masochist?”
Zurvick attempts to move the man's big arm and replies with a panicked voice, “No! Of course not! It's just, it's just...” He gives up on escaping and shows a troubled expression along with a strained smile, “She's close to the same age as my daughter... though their personalities are different, I can't help but be reminded of her when I see the Captain.”
The vibe of the group suddenly drops; they all show saddened faces.
One of the men tries to comfort Zurvick by saying, “That's what we're fighting for, right? I'm sure we'll get her back!”
The rest of the group all say their agreements and Zurvick smiles.
This group, along with the entire division of 350 men are currently residing in the Liceiin forest of Eiyalazo. Most, if not all of this country lies in a continent wide forest, an abundance of large pine, sequoia, and banyan trees spread throughout its entirety. In this country, nearly every species of tree exist here as a result of an equator shift and a north and south pole slide after the Apocalypse. But this Liceiin forest is located at the western border of Eiyalazo, the forest is densely populated with an excess of 300 foot high sequoia trees and whittled with the roots of hundred foot high banyan.
Unlike most other sequoia forests, the massive and thick trees are so close together that at some points they are touching; this, combined with the intertwined roots of the banyan trees that hang overhead makes this a deadly terrain. If one were to get lost or stuck, it'd be near impossible to escape a certain death. It's only noon in the forest but it is close to pitch dark due to the tightly encroached trees that make daylight spotty and it gives off the feeling that it is a never ending night.
Captain Ash walks through the fire lit camp and proceeds towards a large tent. She glances at a few men standing guard and they nervously stiff up. Ash huffs air out of her nose, walks in the tent and sees three men with concerned looks on their faces. One of them is holding a piece of paper in his hand and a messenger hawk in the other.
Ash's eyebrow twitches and she asks, “Message from the higher ups?”
The man replies, “Yes mam.” and hesitantly hands her the paper.
She reads it and her eyes grow large, with a double take she frowns and shouts,
“What the hell is this!?”
Zurvick is still loitering around the campfire with the group, due to the lack of sunlight, the campfire is needed for both warmth and light. Out of a nap sack he holds on his waist, he pulls out a canteen filled with a sweet Trojan liquor. He takes a swig and lays back in his log seat. The man next to him sees this and says, “I see you’re still drinkin' eh?”
Zurvick leans up and replies, “Yeah, both my wife and I have to kick these little habits of ours.”
The man looks at him with an interested expression and asks, “Your wife drinks also?”
Zurvick smiles and replies, “Nope, she smokes tobacco out of a pipe. Every time I drink, I think about how we need to quit so we don't leave a bad influence on our daughter. Haha, but the thing is, I'm always the one sending her the many different kinds of tobacco leafs from all the lands that I have visited, and she always brews me this delicious sweet liquor so I can make it through these long days a little easier. Huahhh~, such bad parents we are.”
He is still wearing a large happy smile, it only hits him now that he just went off in a tangent about himself and turns to apologize when he sees the large eyes of the nine soldiers staring at him intensely.
“W-What? Is there something on my face?”
One of the men drools and says, “Wait a minute... so you're saying that the liquor you always carry is handmade by your wife?” “...Well yeah.”
In an instant, all of the men pounce on him in an attempt to grab his canteen.
“Ooooaahhh!! What's going on here!?” Zurvick desperately shouts as he protects his flask with his life.
All the men are yelling at him and shoving at each other to obtain his alcohol, they yell, “Zurvick you bastard! You've been holding out on us this entire time huh!?”
“Come on come on, just one little sip of her liquor and I'll be set for life!!!”
“Uahhh I can smell it in your breath! I bet it tastes like heaven! GIVE IT TO ME!!!”
Zurvick continues to try to push the nine meathead soldiers off of him. “No way! She made it for me!”
This rowdy scene is truly quite comical, one can't help but see how well they all get along.
This is when Ash walks to them and sees the men wrestling around, her eyebrows steepen and a vein can be seen in her forehead. She takes a deep breath and releases a thunderous roar, “ATTENTION!!!”
All the men scurry around and fall over themselves, after a few moments they all stand astute and simultaneously shout, “Yes mam!”
Ash puts her hands on her hips and walks to none other than Zurvick; her bitter frown is making him increasingly nervous.
She sighs and her frown dissipates, she shows a wary face and hesitates to say, “Our spy in the Eiyalazonian military has given us a map of their location, and the plans of their next assault on our very own 105th Specialist Division.”
The group's body language completely changed upon hearing that; a seriousness invades the aura of this once jubilant air.
Ash folds her arms and continues, “The problem is that they heavily outnumber us three to one. We'd be slaughtered if we go up against the a force like that in this forest, thus making preemtive a counterattack impossible.”
One of the men strokes his beard and asks, “Pardon my interruption mam, if that is the case, what are we supposed to do?”
Ash shrugs her shoulders and wears an almost bitter smile when she answers, “The higher ups specifically ordered an undercover mission to go behind enemy lines to kill the Captain of the Eiyalazonian Assault Platoon to disrupt their plans.”
The men all jump at this, they smile and laugh as they excitedly say, “An undercover mission!? All right! They won't know what hit em' if the ten of us fight together!”
The men shove and nudge at each other until they are halted by the sharp voice of Ash. She holds out her hand, lifts her finger up and simply says, “One.”
They grow silent in confusion as she continues.
“The higher ups specifically ordered one man to attempt this mission.”
Ash maneuvers her index finger and points it into the group.
“Specialist Zurvick Niveusvenia, you alone have been selected to assassinate the Eiyalazonian Captain Ditreig Von Ronheim.” All of the their faces turn blue with shock.
“What the fuck kind of order is that!?”
“That's right! It's a goddamn suicide mission for one person alone!”
An immense anger is felt among them as they all shout obscenities and question this unreasonable order.
Ash lowers her head and with a frown replies to their uproar, “I tried to dispute it... but those damn bastards, all they said was, 'Once an order is made, it is absolute.'"
“Why him of all people!? It's bad enough that he is only a Specialist grunt like us, but this is just ridiculous! If anything, he should always be protected!”
The man halts his rant when he feels a hand press on his shoulder; he turns around only to see Zurvick, completely geared up and ready to go. The man shouts, “You can't be serious!?”
Zurvick's face grows intense as he walks past the group; with his back to his comrades he says, “It is the job of the King to protect his people... not the other way around.”
The men pause in silence, as if intentionally breaking this tense moment, he turns around wearing a big smile and says, “Don't worry about it guys! You know me, there's no way I'd die here of all places.”
Along with the group, even Ash is wearing a troubled expression.
Zurvick sees this and puts on another stupid smile and says, “Ooh, Ash! Could it be that you are worried about me??”
Ash's face glows to the same color of her crimson red eyes as she shouts, “O-Of course not! Why would I be worried about an idiot like you!?” Her eyes shift from him to the group and back to him again, she shoves him and yells, “And who said you could call me Ash!?”
“Huh? Didn't you just sa-”
“Shut up you idiot!!”
Zurvick jumps back and looks at the men, he thinks to himself, (Ohh okay, I may be getting it now.)
He laughs in his usual nervous tone, with a smile he waves goodbye and walks off towards the darkness of the forest. Ash tut-tuts, shows a troubled face and follows after him.
All of the men lean on one knee and bow their heads, in perfect unison they all say,
“Good luck, King Zurvick!!”
“Hey, you've been following me for quite some time now... aren't you going to turn around soon?” Zurvick said to Ash, who is no more than a few feet behind him.
“I'm just making sure you don't get lost, I'm leaving soon.”
“Uh, I have the map in my hand you know?”
Ash punches him in the back of his head. “Yeah but you have nothing in that dome of yours, it's imperative that I lead my dumbest soldier on the right path.”
Zurvick sighs and rubs the area of his head that was just hit. “I could be as dumb as a rock, but I'd still be the luckiest man alive.”
“Jeez, you always go on and on about your luck.”
“Well it's true, since the war started I've been on a few missions similar to this one and I've made it out each time without a scratch!”
Zurvick continues his leisurely walk as if there is not a single worry in his mind.
Ash stops and frowns, “Now that I think about it... you have been on a lot of these near suicide missions.”
She is about to continue but her thought process is stopped by the feeling of a gentle flick of a finger on her forehead.
“Whenever something bothers you, you always furrow your brow. You know you’d get wrinkles if you keep doing that?”
Ash rubs her forehead and says, “How nice of you to worry about my appearance, idiot old man, trying to smooth talk me like that. But might I remind you that I still outrank you, you can’t be going around flicking your superiors on their forehead so casually!”
He laughs and replies, “Ah I apologize, Captain. You’re right, I just get a little carried away when I see you like that. You’re so much like my daughter it’s hard for me to remember that you’re a soldier.”
Zurvick takes the canteen from his pocket and takes a light drink before saying, “You have a long military career ahead of you, you shouldn’t worry about what my role in the army is as the King. Just keep your head down and survive this war.”
“Humph! You’re talking like someone who doesn’t believe he’s as lucky as he says he is.”
Ash is still frowning, her glare is suspicious and Zurvick can feel the heat of it beating down on him as he looks into her eyes.
“You know,” Zurvick says, smiling stupidly, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile, I bet you’d be very cute if you did.”
Caught off guard by the sudden change of subject, she jolts back with a flushed face.
The King turns and begins walking away, “You take care of yourself, Captain. I’ll be back in a few days.”
She grabs a stick from the ground and hurls it at him, it slams into his back and he hits the deck like a ton of bricks.
Zurvick twists his body while shouting his ouches, he slowly looks up as if he is expecting Ash to do something else to hurt him. But much to his surprise, Ash is standing over him with her hand held out.
“You may be the King of Troy, but you're still my underling, so don't get too cocky with those sweet words of yours. It's gross!”
Zurvick grabs her hand and smiles. “Yes Captain.”
She helps him to his feet and says, “You know, I also notice things about you.”
“What do you mean?”
“When you’re lonely, you drink out of your flask. When you’re feeling nostalgic, you drink. When you’re worried, you drink. And when you’re nervous, you pretend that what’s making you feel that way doesn’t exist.”
She pats him on the shoulder and shows him a toothy determined grin.
“So because of that, I’ll be accompanying you on this mission.”
“Hah?” Zurvick moans in confusion as she walks past him.
She turns around with the same smile on her face and says, “And I thought I told you... call me Ash.”
Chapter 12: Her and the King
“Damn this stupid forest!” exclaims Ash.
The two of them are walking through this labyrinth of gigantic trees, it has been close to six hours since they left base camp. After the time it took for them to change into darker and more camouflage clothing, and gather proper supplies suitable for a stealth mission, the sun is just about set.
With an already low visibility level becoming darker with each passing second, this mission's difficulty is about showing its face; in order to not be seen by the enemy they cannot light a torch, thus making this trek all the more treacherous.
“The perfect way to end this side of the war is to just burn this whole forest continent to the ground.” said Ash while she threw a rock at a tree out of frustration.
“You know we can't do that.” Zurvick replies.
The reason for this is that throughout the years of war, both La'Juune and Troy had thought of committing this very act in order to defeat Eiyalazo. The problem is the aftermath of the burning; to put out the fire the Eiyalazonians would most likely be forced to use their entire water supply to suppress as much of the flame as possible in order to protect its cities and citizens.
This tactic would have affected Troy, because at that time, a great drought hit this part of Earth and water was of a minimal supply. Another downside to an epic fire is pollution; this problem could affect La'Juune much more than Troy. La'Juune sits directly to the west of Eiyalazo, there is a trade wind that constantly blows from the eastern ocean to the western plains, thus making the smoke from the continent wide fire flow right over La'Juune for its inhabitants of its most populous cities to inhale .
Troy, which sits to the north of the other two countries and separated by two seas, would avoid the health hazard of the smoke because the populous regions are mostly situated on higher elevation levels,which are protected by a series of large mountain ranges. The problem for Troy however, is that its most fertile farmland and the very center of all of its agricultural production is at the most southern tip of the country, connected to both La’Juune and Eiyalazo; the pollution damage could wreak havoc of their food supply and potentially starve most of the empire.
All in all, a fire on this scale would leave an unrecoverable scar on the face of the planet in many different ways. So in order to prevent such a disaster, the three countries signed a treaty stating that no intentional destruction fires will ever be set on Eiyalazonian soil.
Ash waves her hand in an annoyed manner and says, “Yeah yeah, because of that stupid treaty thing right? Who's bright idea was it to write something as stupid as that anyways!?”
Zurvick nervously smiles, raises his hand like a school child and softly says, “Um...that was my idea actually.”
Ash looks at his childlike appearance and begins to laugh. “You’re kidding right? Wasn't it the Queen's idea?”
Zurvick scratches his head and replies, “If you knew my wife, you'd never believe that she'd even care for something like that. I remember the instance when this topic came up at a meeting and she said, 'Oh? So that's what would happen huh? We might be able to take out both of their countries by doing this, I like our chances... burn that wretched place to the ground.' That's where I came in to put a halt to it.” He starts to laugh aloud, “I guess this worthless King of Troy has to do something every once in a while!”
Ash walks behind him, and she's wondering why he seems so happy when she realizes this was probably one of his proudest moments as a King. Throughout the history of Troy, the King has usually been nothing but a political tool, much like a Queen would be in a normal monarchy, his job is to support his spouse in any which way.
Ash smiles, pats him on the back and says, “Good job.”
Zurvick smiles and about to say his thanks when he walks face first into a tree.
Once again he overreacts and drops to the ground like a sack of rocks, it's as if someone had just shot him with an arrow.
Ash bursts into an uncontrollable laugh. “Hahahaha what an idiot! How the hell do you walk into a tre- waaaahhh!”
She is interrupted by a banyan tree root tangling on her foot, she trips and falls belly down to the floor.
“Ouch, stupid freakin' roots.”
Ash lands on something other than the ground, she assumes it's more roots until she looks down at a sight that makes her face instantly glow red. She is laying on top of Zurvick, his knee is pressing right between her legs and their faces are so close they can feel the warmth of each other's breath.
Zurvick smiles and tries to help her off of him, so he grabs her waist line to lift her.
“Kyaah! W-What the hell do you think you're doing you idiot!”
He jolts back in surprise at her reaction, and with a scared voice replies, “I'm helping you up.”
“I never said that I needed help! So watch where you put your hands!”
Zurvick can sense that she's flustered and tries to turn the tides by teasing her. “Ooh? Perhaps the strict Captain Ash is a bit ticklish?”
Ash replies, “No I'm not ticklish at all.”
The bad part about answering this question is that even if your answer is yes or no, the one asking the question will tickle you anyways just to see your reaction, and that's exactly what Zurvick intends to do.
He grabs her waist again and begins to tickle her with all his might.
“Ahhh~~ W-Wait! Stop! Stop!” Ash shouts desperately.
She tries to get away but he pulls her closer to him, in the struggle she feels his knee that was pressed between her legs rise up and rub against her groin area. Instead of laughing, she let's out a moan that a grown man would recognize immediately, and Zurvick instantly stops his tickling assault.
They both lay in silence as he listens to her breathing rather hard; she looks at him with eyes he's never seen her have as she and grabs his face.
She moves her face so close to his that their noses are almost touching, she opens her mouth and softly says, “I told you, I'm not ticklish... Idiot”
Zurvick shows his usual nervous smile and says, “I'm sorry, I got carried away.”
Ash lifts her face away from his and throws her open hand straight down on his forehead.
“I'm not a little kid that you can just get 'carried away' with! I-I'm a woman you know.”
Though she is nineteen, she has the looks of somebody who could be even younger, this makes it very difficult to treat her as an adult. Zurvick ponders her statement, he looks at her and instead of seeing her as a young girl who reminds him of his daughter, he sees a woman capable of doing anything an adult can do such as his wife.
In a flash of lightning he realizes the sexual tension that goes along with this type of situation.
“Okay okay! I get it! I'm sorry! If you would get off of me it'd be great. I mean like right now!” he yelps while closing his eyes.
“Fine then! Geez it's not like I have the freakin' plague!”
Ash hurriedly tries to get off when she feels her feet sink into an even deeper tangle on the roots, unable to move she loses her footing and falls back on him.
“Uh... I'm stuck.”
It took her at least five minutes to get herself untangled, and now the two are standing awkwardly in silence. Zurvick looks at her and she puffs her nose and quickly looks away.
He sighs and looks at their surroundings. It has almost become completely dark as the sun is just a few minutes away from setting; Zurvick walks under a banyan tree with overhanging leaves and says, “It's getting really hard to see out here, if we keep moving there's a higher chance that we can get stuck or lost. I think it'd be best if we set up camp for the night under this tree.”
Ash nods in agreement as she watches him pitch a small one person tent. Made from a light cloth, this tent can easily be carried in a small waist band pouch, it only takes two sturdy willow tree sticks to set it up and is decent enough to be called a shelter, thus making it perfect for missions such as this where the weather isn't too harsh.
“Wait a second... where the hell am I supposed to sleep?” Ash asks.
Zurvick looks at her and tilts his head in reply, “Don't you have a tent?”
She tucks her face in her forearm in embarrassment. “I forgot to bring one.”
Zurvick shrugs his shoulders and says, “Well you’re welcome to sleep in this tent with me if you'd like.”
Ash jumps back in shock. “B-But wouldn't that be a little too cramped?”
He nonchalantly replies, “Not at all, there's plenty of room.”
Ash pauses, drops her head and clenches her fists. “You're doing it again.”
She lifts her head up to show a face full of displeasure and shouts, “You're treating me like a kid!”
Zurvick hops in his finished tent and looks at her with comforting eyes. “No, I'm treating you like a comrade. So are you gonna get in or not?”
Ash's heart skips a beat, if he puts it that way there's no way she can refuse. She shyly starts walking towards him and replies, “Y-Yeah.”
Under her breath she softly says, “As a comrade huh? Hmph, I guess it's a start.”
Lelaine is once again standing on the same balcony, it is close to midnight and a full moon shines down on her long blond hair. She's smoking her pipe and blows the smoke into the sky, she sighs and thinks back on past moments with Trojia and Zurvick while looking out in the distance at the lights of the beautiful city of Troy.
She starts laughing loudly when she recollects the memory of when she first met Zurvick back when she was eleven years old.
She remembers being accompanied by Sturgess while looking out of the window from her room and seeing the Archbishop's caravan entering the gate of the castle grounds, excitement began brewing in her belly at the sight of something new.
She grabs Sturgess's hand and rushes out of her room to run outside and greet them. The Archbishop named Ludvig steps out of the carriage and says, “You must be princess Lelaine?”
She lifts the edges of her dress and politely bows. “Yes sir.”
“Hahaha! No need to be so formal princess, you are the future Queen. Allow me to do the honors.” Ludvig bows to her and gestures toward the horse drawn carriage. “I'd like to introduce you to my son.... Zurvick! You can come out now.”
The cabin door slowly cracks open, and out of the slightly opened door comes the peeking face of a young Zurvick, he takes one glance at her and blushes while jumping back. He's nervously shaking as he attempts to step down to the floor.
Much to Lelaine's and everyone else's surprise; he slips on the cabin's step and falls flat on his face.
It seems like he completely overreacts when yells, "Ooooouuuuuuuuuucccchhhh!!!” and lays on the ground for a few agonizingly long seconds in silence.
Everyone stands awkwardly until he gets up, with teary eyes either from embarrassment or from the hit on his nose, he shows a face full of panic and shouts in a cracked voice, “M-My name is Zurvick! N-N-N-Nice to meet you!”
He immediately bows extremely low with his butt hanging high in the air. Lelaine looks at this idiot who had just given her the worst introduction she's ever seen and, “Pfft.... hahahahahahaha!”
Lelaine begins to laugh so hard that she is in tears. Zurvick looks at her with a sour face; after listening to her laugh for a few seconds he thinks back on how ridiculous and pathetic he probably had just looked and can't help but make fun of himself as well.
He rubs his nose and begins to join her in laughter, at this moment, the two of them are both thrown into a life long relationship that will never falter.
The current Lelaine is looking at her city when tears begin to fall from her eyes, she takes a final drag from her pipe and says, “Damn am I lonely.”
She tips her pipe over and watches the red hot ashes fall until they burn out and disappear into the night sky. She then rests her head on her arms over the balcony rail and wonders what Zurvick is doing at this exact moment in time.
“Hey... are you still awake?” Ash says quietly as she nudges Zurvick.
They are both huddled together in a one person tent. When he doesn't reply, she knows that he is in a deep sleep. She is glaring at him and is impressed by how pretty his sleeping face is; with the tip of her index finger she gently strokes his light beard and says quietly, "Did you know I was nine years old when I first met you?"
She starts to blush and smile as she softly continues, "Back in Troy, I got separated from my parents during a festival celebrating your return from the battle of La'Juune. Even when the festivities ended I was still lost and I was beginning to panic, the only place I knew how to get to was the castle so I hopelessly walked to the front gate..."
She rests her head on his chest and closes her eyes to reminisce.
"The guards didn't want to help me and just shooed me away, and that's when I started crying, I didn't know what to do and I was so afraid... I remember specifically hearing a man's tender voice asking me if I was alright, that man... it was you... I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the King of Troy looking at me with such a caring face. I was in even more shock when you offered to help me find my way home... It took us hours until we finally found it; but I was so happy I couldn't contain myself, the King... the one and only King of Troy was kind enough to take the time to help a lowly little girl like me... I realized then that the only thing I wanted to do in life was to protect that beautiful and kind King, so I trained as hard as I could to join the military... never would I have thought that you'd end up as my underling... never would I have thought that the one and only man I have ever loved would be sleeping so vulnerably right next to me."
Ash postures up and leans her head downwards towards his face, she readies to kiss him but stops as soon as she feels her nose rub against his.
"Can I not actually do this?"
She tries once more but something in her gut tells her to stop again.
"C'mon Ash he's right in front of me, this could be your only chance!"
She grits her teeth and forcefully abandons her position on top of him.
She turns away from him and takes a deep breath, she feels like her heart is beating a million times a second. "I guess I can't do something as cowardly as kissing you while you're sleeping. But I promise you Zurvick... I'll make you see me as a woman soon."
Ash smiles and gently drifts away into slumber.
Ash wakes up to find herself alone in the one person tent; she wonders where Zurvick is and pokes her head out of the tent, only to find him doing some ridiculous looking stretches.
She rubs her eyes and coldly asks, "What the hell kind of stretch is that?"
Zurvick has his back towards her and his butt is hanging in the air due to this awkward looking stretch. He looks in between his legs at her and with an enthusiastic smile says, "Oh you're awake! Come and join me for morning stretches, It does wonders for your back!"
Ash looks at him with a face full of disgust. "Haah? There's no way I'd do a stretch that looks like I'm giving birth!"
"Okay then! If not that one, why not try this one instead!?"
Zurvick begins to do some funky looking jumping jacks that can best be described as the sight of an octopus falling out of a tree.
"Forget it! That one is even worse!!!"
Zurvick starts to laugh, another merrily morning spent in the middle of enemy territory.
(Oh that's right!) he suddenly thinks to himself.
He stops his exercise and runs to one of his nap sacks that lay on the ground, out of it he pulls the map given to him by the spy.
After scanning it for a minute or two his face turns intense.
Ash sees this and asks, "What is it?"
Zurvick frowns and says, "Shit."
"Shit we traveled too far on our first day!"
She tilts her head and raises her eyebrow as if implying she wants more specifics. Zurvick answers her gesture and replies, "We are less than a mile away from the enemy base camp, we are supposed to be no less than three."
Ash lets a big exhale out in relief. "Huaaaa, I thought you were gonna say that we're lost. If we are that close to their base, Isn't that a good thing?"
Zurvick's eyebrow twitches in angst. "These kinds of missions need to be dealt with in a precise timeline, there's a reason why we weren't planned to be in this position at this exact time of day."
He quickly shifts his attention toward the enemy base camp, and much to his dismay, through one of the light spots he sees a flash off of something metal.
"GET DOWN!" he shouts as he shoves Ash to the floor and ducks.
"Hey that hurt you jerk! Why'd you do that!?" she shouts.
Zurvick looks back at her with a look in his eyes telling her to shut up. She backs up away from him in surprise and bumps into something sticking out of the ground, she turns to look and sees a three foot arrow protruding from the forest floor.
Ash's face turns blue when she realizes what had just happened, with a quivering brow she stares at the back of Zurvick.
He turns to her with a nonchalant smile and says, "Well then, let's get this mission started."
He pulls out his sword and begins to run into the forest towards the direction of the arrow that was just shot at them.
Ash is stiff with shock and her legs won't budge, she has never been in an actual battle so naturally she is scared. But she is completely frightened to death at the thought of watching Zurvick rush into danger alone.
She clenches her fists and thinks to herself, (I didn't come here to be afraid! I came to protect the King! I came here to fight alongside the man I love!)
With these thoughts running through her head, she rustles up the strength to stand and rushes to his side.
Chapter 13: Her and the King
Zurvick is running toward the source of the arrow, from atop a tree he thought he saw something move. As an instinct, he naturally looks at the area of sunlight that lies around twenty yards in front of him and spots the arrow zooming between trees and towards him with great speed. He jumps forward, tucks and rolls and continues running, the arrow flies over his head and lands on the ground behind him.
"Hmph! You gave up your position!" he shouts at the man who is perched in one of the smaller sequoia trees.
Zurvick puts his hand in a pouch that wraps around his back and pulls out a thin diamond shaped blade with a metal loop on the butt end of it. He twirls it around his finger and gets ready to throw it when out of the corner of his eye he sees another man swing a large sword towards his face. He slides on the ground and narrowly avoids a fatal blow. Now caught between a rock and a hard place, he needs to decide which man he'd be able to defeat without being killed by the other.
He chooses to run away from the man with the sword and go after the man with the bow. But much to his surprise the man with the sword doesn't chase him, on the contrary he turns around and rushes at Ash, who is closely following behind.
"Get out of there Captain!" Zurvick shouts.
Ash hears this but her view is blocked by a tree, she keeps running toward his voice when she sees the enemy soldier Zurvick warned her about lunging his blade right at her torso.
Zurvick looks back but his view of the two is blocked by the trees.
"Damn it! Ash!!"
In this moment of worry, he takes his eyes off of the bowman. With his head still turned in Ash's direction, he feels the wind of something blowing through his hair. An arrow zooms past the side of his head and slams into the trunk of a banyan tree.
Other than a few lost strains of hair, Zurvick is completely unscathed.
The luck of this happening is duly noted in the back of his mind, if he had turned his head in the direction of the bowman just a second earlier, bits and pieces of his skull would be scattered all over the forest floor.
The bowman quickly tries to reload; Zurvick is now only around thirty feet from the man's position, he cuts to the right and jumps on a low hanging limb of a tree. In order to get a better angle on the man's twenty five foot high branch, he immediately careens off the limb and rises to about twelve feet in the air.
Zurvick is ready to throw his handheld projectile blade, and the bowman is just about ready to shoot his arrow. It's as if this moment in time stands still, the two look each other directly in the eyes as they both fire their respective weapons almost simultaneously.
The one who blinks, will be the one that dies.
Just as much as it seemed the moment was crawled forward in a thunderous halt, it instantly resumes its natural speed, but instead feels at least ten times faster than normal.
Zurvick falls to the ground but quickly regains his footing, he hears a loud thud and looks to the source of the noise.
The bowman is dead on his back with the diamond shaped blade protruding from his left eye, he had fallen to the forest floor in a heap.
Zurvick checks himself for any injuries but finds nothing but a big slice in the outer layer of his dark shirt; the arrow had narrowly missed him.
"Whoooaah what a good break!"
He takes a sigh of relief, but inhales deeply at the sound of Ash's battle cry.
Zurvick rushes to the other side of the tree that once blocked his vision. He sees Ash holding her sword in a readied posture for a downward thrusting strike and is standing over the man, she is in an obvious position of victory. But she's hesitating, her hands are shaking, her eyelids are wide open and her pupils are small.
(I see…) Zurvick thinks to himself.
He rushes at her and shoves her away from the man, he then switches his sword from his left hand into his right and slices mercilessly into the downed man's neck. The man lasts for a few seconds until he fades off into death.
Ash is sitting shocked on the floor with her eyes stuck on the man that Zurvick had just killed.
Zurvick doesn't say anything to her and with haste begins to take the man's armor and uniform off.
He tosses it to Ash and bluntly says, "Put it on."
Ash looks at the armor with heavy eyes and sees that there is a good amount of blood on it, she tosses it aside and drops her head.
Zurvick replies in confusion, "Why? Well in order to sneak into their base camp, we're gonna need their uniforms."
Ash slams her fist on the armor and shouts, "Not that!! Why didn't you let me kill him!?"
Zurvick takes a deep breath and exhales, he walks to her and puts his hand on her shoulder.
"That would have been the first time you've killed somebody, right?"
Ash shifts her eyes away from his face and stays silent.
"Killing someone... it's the worst and most empty feeling in the world. I don't want you to experience such a thing, especially if I am here and able to keep it from happening. As my wife tells me, it's a man’s job to fight... It's your job to lead."
He stands up and begins to walk off when he says, "There could be more coming soon, so put on his armor. Use some water from your canteen to wash off the blood."
Ash doesn't say anything in return but follows his order by dumping water onto the fallen Eiyalazonian soldier’s armor.
"Ooh! Speaking of canteen!" Zurvick takes out his sweet liquor and takes a quick drink. "Haaahhh! Delicious! I can’t tell you how good this is after a fight!!"
“I’m happy to see that you also drink when you’re relieved.” Ash said with a smile and an exhale, "Thank you for the help."
Zurvick turns, puts on a stupid smile and says, "You’re welcome!"
Sturgess sits in a gondola on the miles long river that surrounds the castle grounds of Troy; he is accompanied by two men, one in a blue robe, and the other is rowing the boat in a suit of armor.
Sturgess slides his hand through the water, the cold glacial water seemingly doesn't affect him. He turns to the man rowing the boat and asks, "So then Anders, you work the closest to the front lines. How is our King doing?"
Anders smiles and sharply replies, "On the fast track to death."
Sturgess laughs and asks, "So what is it this time?"
Anders takes a large row of the boat and lifts the paddle over his head and rests it on his shoulders. "Though it would be easier if I simply have one of my men kill him, that would be too obvious, so this will work out just as well. I sent him on a suicide mission behind enemy lines in the Liceiin forest. He was supposed to be by himself, but ended up being joined by his Captain at the last minute."
Stugress strokes his beard. "This Captain, will he be able to affect the outcome of this mission?"
"Hahahaha! Not a chance, the King's Captain is a weak nineteen year old girl who has no battle experience. Though she showed excellence in her training for both combat and leading, she is completely incapable of bearing the responsibility of being a Captain in a war like this one."
"So you specifically chose her to lead the King's division. Hahaha how clever of you, Anders, that's why when I become King, you will have my job as the Commanding General of the Trojian army."
Sturgess takes his hand out of the frigid water and leans back in his seat, the man in the blue robe throws him a towel and says. "Don't forget about me."
Sturgess giggles a little in his chest. "Of course not Cardinal Luudnt, you are the country's spiritual adviser and the minister of propaganda. Without you, the people of Troy would be outraged at the fact that their King is involved in such dangerous missions. No one would ever doubt that the King is fighting safely alongside the 105th Specialist division so long as you tell them that’s the case."
Cardinal Luudnt smiles as he grabs a vine of grapes out of an ice chest that lay to his side, he tosses one in his mouth and says, "Also, don't forget the trouble of reading through all the letters that the division sends to their families, and that includes King Zurvick's letters as well. In order to secure classified information, I worked tirelessly to keep my penmanship in tip top shape for forgeries."
Sturgess gestures to Luudnt to toss him a grape and says, "For a man of faith, you sure are one corrupt son of a bitch."
Luudnt's face turns contorted with a wide grin. "I may be a man of faith, but I am more a man of money... with you as the King, I'll have enough to build a house of gold!"
All three men laugh aloud, Sturgess puts his hand back in the water and says, "That's correct, though the title of the King technically has no value now. With you two on my side, a coup d'etat will easily be obtained. The Queen will become my slave and this grand country of Troy will finally be ruled with the iron fist of a man."
Sturgess tosses a grape in his mouth and begins to splash his hand in the water when he suddenly feels a constriction on his wrist. He looks down and sees a snake binding his hand all the way up to his forearm.
"What the hell is this?" he turns to look at Luudnt and Anders, but they are frozen stiff with the large smiles they were just expressing. Everything around them has the tint of red, the castle, the sky and all of Troy are red.
"Is only the title of King enough to satisfy a man such as yourself?"
This voice of an unknown man rings in his head like church bells.
"Who said that!?" Sturgess looks down to his hand, the source of the voice comes from this black snake with blood red eyes.
Sturgess is completely confused, there are no snakes in the northern part of Troy due to the climate, yet here is one talking to him from within the freezing cold water.
"This serpent? Is it you?"
The snake squeezes his arm a little tighter when it answers, "Would you allow me to ask you a question?"
"What if I said I could give you all the countries of the world?"
Sturgess's eyes are fixated on the face of the snake and answers curtly, "Then I would ask you how it is that you, a snake, can do that."
The snake's tongue slides out of his mouth and back in. "Allow me to show you."
A flash of numerous scenes from a glorious future beams through Sturgess's head; the views consist of him as the grand ruler of the entire world, he has Lelaine clinging to his side as they watch the execution of Zurvick. A sensational pleasure flows through his body as many more images of what he perceives to be pure bliss pass through his subconscious.
As quickly as the visions started, they stop, this moment of ecstasy dissolves and leaves him drooling for more.
The snake continues to speak as it slithers further up his arm. "Is that not the future you desire the most?"
Sturgess's eyes cock sideways as he speaks with a cracked voice, "YES!"
"Then I shall make it yours."
Sturgess shakes his head and regains his composure, he asks, "What's in it for you?"
The snake postures up and puts its head on the same level of his, looking into the general’s eyes. "I am a simple being, compassionate to people of strength. I have deemed you worthy of ruling my world, that will be enough of a transaction price for me. Will you accept my help?”
Sturgess closes his eyes to regain a little bit of the incredible feeling he had just felt, he takes a deep breath and answers, "Yes."
The snake slides back down his arm and says, "A wise choice."
It opens its mouth wide and bites the back of his hand violently, Sturgess flinches his arm and the snake flings into the water and disappears.
The red tint that surrounds everything instantly vanishes and the sound of Anders and Luudnt laughing aloud is once again heard.
Sturgess uses a rag and wipes the blood off his hand and says, "Why wait until the King dies?"
The two stop their laughing and look at him with confusion as he continues,
"This is a volatile time for Troy, now more than ever the balance of power is at its most vulnerable state. As soon as we gather enough men, we shall immediately stage our coup."
Anders and Luudnt pause in silence as they think it over, they glance at each other and then back at Sturgess showing wide grins as if indicating that they agree.
Sturgess smiles and shifts his attention to the wound on his hand; much to his surprise, instead of seeing two teeth marks he sees a large black pentagram.
He laughs for a moment and stops abruptly, he puts his hand back in the cold water and with a grinning frown says,
"It looks like I have just made a deal with the Devil."
"Quite the handsome young man you make Ash." said Zurvick with a satisfied smile on his face.
Ash frowns and punches him in the back of the head and sarcastically replies, "Ohoho! What a comedian you are!"
The two of them are wearing the two deceased soldier's armor and uniforms. Since the Eiyalazonian military doesn't allow women, Ash has rubbed dirt on her face, tied her hair up and hid it with a bandanna and helmet making her look more like a young boy than a young woman.
Zurvick rubs his head while he fiddles her helmet over her eyes. "Hey now, that was a compliment ya know."
"Considering the fact that I am a girl, being called a handsome boy is hardly what I'd call a compliment you idiot!"
He sighs and with somewhat of a teasing tone says, "Well, either way it's a good thing that you have no sex appeal, otherwise we'd instantly get killed once we reach their base."
This statement truly contradicts the actual appearance of Ash, though she is fairly short and her chest isn't that large, she has long legs and her tanned skin gives off a nice shine. Her facial features match her body perfectly in unison, one can't help but wonder how pretty she would look wearing something other than her bulky Trojan armor.
The aura around Ash turns black, a vein can be seen in her forehead and her eyes begin to burn like a raging fire. "Do you want to die??"
Zurvick's face drops in fear and he nervously tries to retort, "Oaahh! C-Calm down Ash! It was only a joke!"
"JOKES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY!"
She viciously kicks him right on his butt, he shouts his ouches and screams as he runs away with Ash in hot pursuit.
After a few minutes of playing cat and mouse, the two are out of breath and leaning on a tree.
Zurvick is breathing so hard that he feels like he is having a heart attack. He turns to Ash with a horrid face full of fatigue and says, "I- haaaaa- I'm- haaaaa- sorry!"
Ash, who is also tired, punches him in the gut with all of her remaining strength and he falls to the ground like a limp noodle. Being out of breath, combined with having the wind knocked out of him from her punch makes him feel like he is literally about to die.
Ash grabs him by the collar to lift him up, with a smile she says, "Now we're even."
The two burst into a tired laughter and they both share a moment of carefree relaxation.
With a little time to recuperate, both are close to being fully energized. Zurvick pulls out the map and sees that they should only be a few hundred yards away from the enemy base camp, he turns to tell Ash their position when they hear the approaching voices of a couple men out in the distance.
Ash stands up and holds out her hand to Zurvick to help him up, with a deeper, and more manly voice she says, "Let's go."
He grabs her hand and they walk toward the voices.
There are two Eiyalazonian soldiers; Zurvick and Ash walk up to them and give them their military's salute. The men both salute back and one asks, "Were you the two guys sent for guard duty?"
Ash replies in her deepened boyish voice, "Yes, we never spotted anything suspicious so we decided to return. Were you guys looking for us?"
The other man begins to speak, "Yeah, Captain Ditreig has called a meeting for our attack on the Trojans. It starts in an hour so he wants everyone to gather on standby until then."
Zurvick butts in and asks, "If that's the case, would you mind if we joined you guys?"
The men gesture the two to follow them and they all walk to the base.
Ash and Zurvick follow a few feet behind the two men that are leading them to their base. Zurvick grabs Ash's sleeve and whispers in her ear, "We need to assassinate Captain Ditreig before this meeting starts."
"What? Why that fast?"
"If the regiment gets the proper attack info, they will carry out the attack even if Ditreig were to be killed. But if he dies before he can give out the orders, the regiment will have no choice but to retreat and wait for further commands."
Ash glances at the two men to make sure that they aren't being heard. "That makes sense, but wouldn't the Captain have his orders and attack plan written down on paper already?"
Zurvick postures up, with a serious face he says, "No, he doesn't work that way."
By him saying this, it indicates that he knows Captain Ditreig personally. She catches this and shows an expression of wonder. He looks away and is about to answer her body language when they come upon the sight of the enemy base camp. Hundreds of soldiers are all getting ready to gather into one massive group, tents that intertwine throughout the trees give off the feeling of a small city.
The four of them begin to walk towards a large wooden stage carrying the podium for Ditreig's address; Zurvick grabs Ash's hand and they ditch the two men who are leading them and run into an alleyway of trees.
"Hey where are we going?"
Zurvick doesn't answer her question as they keep on running.
They come across a lone soldier who is holding a notebook, Zurvick walks up to him, does the Eiyalazonian salute and asks, "Excuse me sir, but if you don't mind me asking. Would you happen to know where the Captain is?"
Through his glasses, the man looks through his notebook and replies with a question of his own, "And who might you be?"
Ash jumps back and looks at Zurvick with wary eyes; he is standing astute and without a flinch he replies, "I am Sergeant Corbin Mizlesh." He gestures to Ash and declares, "This is Sergeant Applic Stellson."
The man scopes them up and down and then looks in his notebook, after flipping a few pages he says, "Oh, you are the two that were sent out on guard duty?"
Zurvick sternly replies, "Yes sir, some men told us to come back to base for the Captain's meeting, we wish to speak to him in order to give him a direct report."
The man twitches his eyebrow. "You can tell me, I'll make sure he gets the report."
Zurvick bows his head and in a polite yet stern tone replies, "I'm sorry sir, but this is something that needs to be heard by the Captain alone." The man clicks his tongue and walks away, he buries his head back in his notebook and says, "Every day around this time, the Captain bathes in the lake a few hundred yards that way. Keep walking and you won't miss it."
Zurvick nudges Ash and they walk towards the direction of the lake.
"How the hell did you do that?" asked Ash with an astonished look on her face.
Zurvick looks confused and asks, "Do what?"
"The names, everything! How did you pull that off!?"
He grabs the helmet that looks three sizes too big off of Ash's head and points to the inside of it, a large tag with the name of the dead Eiyalazonian soldier written in bold.
Ash hides her face in her forearm from embarrassment and softly says, "Oh..."
He stuffs the big helmet back on her head and says, "The mission is almost over, so just hang in there."
Ash shoves him away, "Don't baby me!"
He sighs like usual and says, "Sorry about that."
They have finally reached Captain Ditreig's position, they have arrived at the lake and are first amazed by the beauty of the scene. The lake is darkened with the reflection of the overhanging branches. The entire area surrounding the lake is much darker than most of the forest, thus making the light peeking into the lake from the numerous gaps in the branches of banyan trees that lay overhead make it seem like they are looking at a night sky that is filled with stars.
On the shore of the lake is a tent, and laying to the side of that tent is the green and red Captain class armor. Zurvick sees this and looks out in the water assuming that Ditreig is in there.
"It looks like he is by himself." Ash says as she scopes out the area, she finds this odd because this lake is quite far away from the heart of the base camp so she figured that he'd have at least one guard to accompany him.
Their attention is snagged by the sound of splashing water, emerging from the darkness of the lake is a man with sparkling black hair. It seems that the lake isn't too deep because he is fairly far out and half of his body is still showing.
Zurvick and Ash hide behind a tree as the man walks out of the lake and gets dressed.
"I want you to go back and stand guard." Zurvick said in a serious tone.
Ash frowns and replies, "No way! I'm going to help you."
He looks at her and reveals a frown himself. "I don't want you to get involved in this, so just do as I say and don't interfere."
She is taken aback by his reaction, she has never seen him show such a face, and for some reason seeing him like this makes her not want to be argumentative, she tut tuts and walks away.
"Don't you dare die."
Zurvick smiles and says, "Not a chance."
Lelaine walks through the innards of the Trojan castle, the hallways are lined with the portraits of past Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses and other members of the royal family. She is in an entranced state as she slides her hand on the wall as she walks.
She reaches a large oak door that leads to a room, on the door is a sign that has letters written in bold saying, 'TROJIA'. She grabs a key out of her pipe bag and opens the door.
She then enters and sees that Trojia's room is exactly as it was when she left to La'Juune in order to be married. Lelaine takes a deep breath and sits on the edge of a large bed.
"I knew I would miss you when I sent you off to be married... but at least I would have known where you were and that you were safe." she said to herself as she plopped her back on the bed.
With her eyes she analyzes the room and sees all the framed pictures of artwork and portraits. On the dresser she spots one of the pictures that has been purposely placed face down, and decides to stand up and go to lift it upright.
To her surprise, she finds that the photo is of both she and Trojia embracing in a fun looking pose while they are both smiling, this causes her to reveal a strained smile. She thinks back to the reaction that Trojia had when she first informed her of the triple marriage between the tree superpowers of the world.
"What!? You're sending me away!?" shouts Trojia.
The two are sitting on a dinner table that lies in a massive dining room. Lelaine shakes her head and replies, "It's not like that, this is for the greater good."
"How is it for the greater good that you give away your only child, and only heir to your throne??"
Lelaine rests her head on her hand and says, "Peace Trojia, think about what this could mean for our people, and the world for that matter."
Trojia slams her hands on the table and stands. "It means nothing! You have to be blind to not see that this is a gimmick, you yourself used to tell me that there is always a catch! The Kings of both Eiyalazo and La'Juune know that without an heir to the throne of Troy, this country will become vulnerable and easy to manipulate. They will use this to destroy you mother!"
Lelaine clicks her tongue and pulls her pipe from her waist pouch. "I know all of the pros and cons to this situation. But I refuse to be the one who let the chance of world peace slip between her fingers. You are going to get married whether you like it or not."
Trojia grabs one of the glass cups and throws it against the wall, it hits and shatters loudly. She pauses for a moment and takes a deep breath, using that as a trigger to calm herself down, she softly says, "Let this be fair warning... this will end up being the exact opposite of what you're hoping for... Mother, you whoring your daughter out, will lead you to nothing but grief."
Trojia walks out of the dining room and leaves Lelaine by herself, she takes a long drag from her pipe and blows smoke out abruptly.
After Lelaine reminisces this, she fast forwards to the last time she saw Trojia, and cringes when she remembers the last words her daughter had spoken to her.
Standing at the front gate is all of the castle's inhabitants wishing a departing Trojia a safe journey. Zurvick was on the other side of the country so he wasn't there to witness her departure, so the only two family members are Trojia and Lelaine. The heaviness of the silent air surrounding them isn’t lost on either of the two women.
Lelaine walks to her daughter to say her goodbyes when Trojia turns her back, this sign of disrespect certainly angered the Queen, but in order to not make a scene she bites her lip to relieve her tension.
Trojia takes a deep breath and turns to her mother with a face much like a begging child and asks, "Please don't send me away."
Lelaine's gaze shifts away as she replies, "I can't do that."
Trojia's eyes instantly lose its shine, she pauses for a moment and her face turns cold. "Very well then... for wasting my life to La’Juune... I will forever hate you for this."
Her words pierce Lelaine's heart, she jolts in shock at this feeling, she watches her only child enter the carriage followed by her body guard and five nuns.
The carriage drives off into the distance while she still stands frozen in the same position. She never thought she would hear those words come from Trojia, but even more so, she never thought that if she were to hear it, it would affect her so much that her soul would feel like it has been sucked out of her body.
The current Lelaine is once again laying on the bed zoning out on the picture that depicts them in such a happy and loving state.
"You were right... everything you said was right..."
She starts crying, she regrets more than anything that she gave up her only daughter for nothing but a war.
"If I had just listened to you, you'd be here with me and there would be no war. It's all my fault and I'm so sorry. I just want you back..."
She shuts her eyes and wonders where Trojia is, along with this thought she suddenly feels a bolt of energy flash in her body. She opens her eyes only to see that the entire room is of a red tint and the picture she holds in her hand is completely black.
"What if I told you that I know exactly where your daughter is?"
This voice beats on the back of Lelaine's brain, she is surprised at this and looks around the room to see where this is coming from. Out of the framed black photo comes a black snake with red eyes, she tries to fling it off but for some reason she cannot move her body.
The snake slithers up her arm slowly.
"Huh? Am I dreaming?" she asks herself aloud.
"This is no dream, I can help you."
"You know where my daughter is?" she asks with a crack voice.
The snake continues its slow methodical slither. "Yes Queen Lelaine, she is in a place that I can easily access. If i wish it so, I can bring her back to your arms."
With a needy smile she asks, "You're saying that she's alive??"
The snake pauses for a moment and answers, "I am simply stating that I can bring her back."
Lelaine thinks about this for a few moments and calms her fast beating heart to regain her composure. "What's the catch? What is it that you want in return?"
The snake sticks out it's tongue and smoothly says, "I am simply a being that is compassionate toward loving parents who have been separated from their children. Seeing your reunion with your beloved daughter would be enough of a transaction price for me. Will you accept my offer of help?”
Lelaine smiles with wide eyes at the thought of getting Trojia back, it seems like the snake's mouth is growing larger with a Cheshire cat grin as it eagerly awaits her answer.
Lelaines eyes sharpen, her brows steepen and the tips of her mouth rise up revealing her teeth, she bluntly replies, "I refuse. " The snake recoils back and the red tint of the room begins to fade away as she continues, "I used to tell my daughter to never believe in anyone who offers you a gift and says that there is no catch. Trojia reiterated this saying to me once, and it took me until now to remember how true it is."
The snake begins to slide back into the darkness of the photo, only the red of its eyes can be seen as it says, "A wise choice."
The snake disappears and the red tint that once surrounded the room is no more, the photo of a happy mother and daughter can once again be seen. Lelaine rubs her tear filled eyes and says to herself, "That was some kind of weird dream..."
She takes one last glance at the photo. "I don't need anyone to tell me where you are Trojia, I know you're alive, and I know that you will be back one day. When you do, I can properly apologize."
She tenderly smiles, lays back down on her daughter's bed and gently falls asleep.
"It's been a while, Ditreig." says Zurvick as he runs his hands through his hair.
The black haired and blue eyed man has a scar on his cheek that can be seen through his five o'clock shadow; he looks like a character larger than life, and the aura around his is glowing as a ray of sunlight hits him through the trees.
Ditreig looks at him and quickly turns away to put on his boots. "You know soldier, you look just like an old friend of mine. For a second there I thought you were him.”
Zurvick starts to laugh and says, "Your eyes aren't fooling you, it's me."
Ditreig ties his boot straps and turns around. "Holy shit it really is you!"
He smiles, runs to him and gives him a big bear hug.
Zurvick's face begins to turn purple from lack of air in his lungs. "O-Okay I get it! Let go!"
Ditreig drops him and says, "Sorry about that, you know how I'm not good at containing myself."
Zurvick breathes hard and says, "Me and you both, but you’re a hell of a lot stronger than I am so you need to be careful!."
"Anyways, what in the world is the King of Troy doing here in an Eiyalazonian uniform?"
The reunion is cut short by the drop in the mood coming from Zurvick, Ditreig sees this and takes a few steps back. They look in each other's eyes for a few long moments when the silence is broken by the Captain.
"You have been sent to kill me?"
Zurvick shifts his eyes guiltily and replies, "Yes."
"I must commend you for your effort, it's quite amazing that you made it to me without being noticed. But I gotta ask, why is it that they sent you of all people to kill me?"
Zurvick calmly removes his sword from its sheath. "I don't exactly know why myself. But I do know that I am the perfect man for the job."
Ditreig laughs loudly and asks, "You'd kill your old friend?"
Zurvick's eyes turn cold. "It's a King's job to protect his people; and it's a father's job to protect his daughter."
"Hmph, the funny thing is that I completely understood that, I have a daughter of my own you know? I fight for her too.”
Ditreig picks his sword up off the ground and they both charge at each other.
“Let’s make this fun!”
Ditreig slashes low and Zurvick jumps over the strike and leaps off his shoulders and over his head. Zurvick lands and pulls another one of his diamond shaped blades and chucks it; Ditreig swings his blade and knocks it away.
Being rushed, Zurvick is forced to back up all the way to the water, knowing that he has no more land left to back away one, he leans over and grabs some dirt and tosses it in Ditreig's face, blinding him momentarily.
Zurvick then swings his sword at his foe's neck but it is somehow dodged by Ditreig who jumps into the water to get the dirt out of his eyes.
The commotion caused by two men fighting is rising in a fever pitch, and Ash becomes worried when the sound of water splashing rings through her ears. She sees that they are so far away from the base camp that she has no need to be on guard duty for now, so she decides to run to the lake and hides behind a tree in order not to be seen.
She sees the enemy emerge from the water as Zurvick stands on the shore with in an intense battle posture. She waits and watches with the intention of helping him if he ends up needing it.
Ditreig comes out of the water wearing a wide grin, "It's been a long time since I've had my blood flowing like this. Not since the battle of La'Juune, do you remember King Zurvick?"
Ash hears this and thinks to herself, (I knew it! They do know each other!)
Ditreig begins to step further away deeper into the lake as he continues, "It was you, Sturgess, and I at the gate of the city of grandeur, fighting together and winning! We were so close to destroying the kingdom of La'Juune until that bastard Napoleon came in and put this horrid scar on my face. He put a nasty on on Sturgess as well, of course with your luck only you got out unscathed. Don't you remember? We shed blood together as comrades."
The reason he says this is because Troy and Eiyalazo were once allies in a war against La'Juune; leading the charge against the capitol city was the two of them including Sturgess. Victory was very close to being attained but once at the gate of the city, Napoleon was there and fought all three of them personally. On top of that he was somehow able to hold them off while sending orders to the rest of the La'Juutian army, who eventually obliterated the allies under his leadership and forced them to retreat.
Zurvick rests his sword on his shoulder and smiles, "Yeah that was some kind of battle, it's quite a shame that things ended up this way. When I heard that you were the leader of this squad, I was excited that I'd have one last chance to speak to you. Though I am surprised that you only have the rank of Captain."
Ditreig splashes his hand in the water and laughs, "Haha yeah, since I was the Commanding General of the Eiyalazonian military during that failure of a battle, I was demoted all the way to Sergeant. It took me all of the ten years to even get this rank back."
Zurvick smiles and sighs, "Well that's understandable, that was quite an embarrassment, being stopped by a fifteen year old kid like that. But I'm not one to judge you on rank, this is the highest rank I've ever had and I'm only a Specialist."
Ditreig’s smile is replaced by a frown when he says, "You have got to be blind to not see that there is something sketchy about that."
"Whether it is or not, I like fighting alongside my men, I think all Kings should do the same. So I have no problems with being a grunt in the military."
Ditreig huffs air out of his nose and grins, "You are way too honorable Zurvick, it borderlines on stupidity... anyways, enough with this idle chit-chat. Are you gonna fight me or what?"
Zurvick sighs, rubs his head and says, "Alright then."
He jumps over the water and thrusts his sword down on Ditreig, a big splash causes the scene to be quite chaotic. Once the splash dissipates, the sight of Ditreig disappears as well.
"Where the hell?"
Zurvick suddenly feels a sharp pain on his left calf and it causes him to fall.
"Shit he's hiding under the water!"
He has been sliced so he swings his blade through the water blindly at the hope of hitting Ditreig. He cannot see anything through the water because the reflection of the trees above and lack of sunlight make it too dark, because of this he stands completely still in silence and waits for some kind of sound.
He shuts his eyes and feels the water flowing in an odd way towards him.
He slams his sword downwards through the water and feels that he pierced something.
(Did I get him?)
He checks to see if he did, he lifts his sword out of the water and much to his dismay, he sees that it is connected to Ditreig's heavy piece of armor.
From behind him a loud voice of a girl is heard screaming, "BEHIND YOU ZURVICK!!!"
An instant after this shout the sound of a loud splash startles his senses.
He turns around as fast as he can but it is too late, through the countless water droplets he sees his old comrade Ditreig thrusting his sword only inches away from Zurvick's gut. They stare into each other's eyes with intensity, one wears the eyes of desperation whilst the other shows confidence.
However, in this short time span Zurvick hears a piercing thud and Ditreig's eyes turn from confident to surprised. Zurvick thinks that he has just been stabbed but due to adrenaline he hasn't felt it yet. He shuts his eyes and with a battle cry pushes his blade forward until he feels that he has hit something.
Zurvick opens his eyes to see that Ditreig's blade has missed safely to his side, and sees that his own blade has impaled Ditreig right above his naval.
Ditreig drops his sword in the water, coughs out blood and says, "Once again... your luck knows no bounds."
Zurvick is completely surprised about this turn of events, he completely thought that he was dead to rights. That is until he looks over Ditreig's shoulder and sees a different sword stuck into his back, and around twenty feet out in the distance is Ash, her body frozen in a throwing position while breathing very hard.'
"It was you..." Zurvick says softly, he frowns and with a voice full of anger yells, "I told you not to interfere!”
Ash drops to her knees, with her eyes stuck on him she says, "I had to... you could have... you could have!"
Before Ash can finish she is interrupted by Ditreig. "Come on Zurvick, give her a break... she just saved your life, haha I had you completely fucked."
Ditreig starts to cough and laugh loudly, he slides off of Zurvick's sword and into the water.
"I can't say that I'm happy to die in such a place, but I can say that I am pleased I was killed by the King of Troy."
Zurvick looks at him with saddened eyes as he helplessly floats on his back.
"I don't need your pity, so don't look at me like that."
Zurvick smiles and walks out of the water. "I’m sorry Ditreig, I never would have thought our friendship would have ended this way."
Ditreig's face has become incredibly pale but he still musters up the strength to laugh, "Hey now, who said we can't still be friends?"
Zurvick laughs as well, "I guess you're right."
"Can you do me a favor?" Ditreig asks, his voice growing ever more faint.
"What is it?"
"My Daughter... She's a brilliant girl, she just might be the death of you during this war, so I'm sure your paths will cross at some point in the future... please just tell her that I love her, and that I'm sorry for everything."
Having a daughter of his own, Zurvick can't help but feel the guilt of taking him away from his child. He can sympathize with his fallen friend's emotions at wanting the child he'll leave behind to know that their father was thinking of them at the end.
"I promise, Ditreig. I'll tell her."
The shine in Ditreig's eyes dissolve and grow dull, with his last bit of life he says his dying words.
"Thank you Zurvick... as a friend, I need to tell you one more thing... General Sturgess... be wary of that man, I've always known that fuck has had an out for you..."
With that, he slips into death and sinks in the water.
Ash is still on her knees in a frozen state, Zurvick walks to her and holds his hand out to help her up.
She looks at him with eyes that are asking him if she did the right thing or not, prompting him to smile and pat her on the head.
"You did good Ash, thank you."
She smacks his hand away, with a melancholic tone she says, "I told you to stop doing that."
Zurvick laughs and walks away, ignoring her statement he says, "People might be coming soon so let's get going... I need to hurry home."
Ash gets up and tilts her head, "Home? You mean back to base?"
Zurvick turns and looks at her with a serious face. "No, I mean that I need to go back to Troy."
"What!? Why would you do that?"
He once again starts walking away and with his back turned to her says, "Something has been eating at me for a while; and after hearing Ditreig confirm it for me, I am positive that I need to get back immediately.”
He then smiles and sheaths his sword.
“Also, I haven't seen my wife in a few months... she may act tough when other people are around but by herself she is terribly fragile."
Ash runs to him and grabs his arm. "That means that you're going to leave us?"
Zurvick giggles and teases her, "Awh you're gonna miss me? How cute."
She punches him in the head and shouts, "Of course I won't! Because I'm coming with you."
Her and the King: (END)
Chapter 14: Rain on the Battlefield
"So my father has died..." said a girl with long black hair that parts at her shoulders.
With her bright blue eyes, she is reading a notice that a man had just handed her. She puts the letter on her desk and gestures to the man to leave the room, the man obliges and leaves her to her lonesome.
She sighs and leans back, she rubs her temples and says to herself, "At least you didn't go out completely disgraced."
The girl rests her head on her hand and looks at a framed picture of she and her father Ditreig.
Ditreig Von Ronheim, the man who was once the Commanding General of the Eiyalazonian military. But due to the failure during the Battle of La'Juune, he was disgraced and demoted all the way to private.
This girl is in a large room that is sparkling clean, but the desk in which she sits is very messy with papers and books scattered on it; hundreds of books rest on shelves that line the circular walls. The entirety of this room is made from fine wood that glosses perfectly in the light.
She sits there in the amber glow of the room in silence, leaning back in her chair when she hears the door knock.
The door opens and in comes a radiant man who looks to be in his early twenties, he has dirty blonde hair and hazel eyes.
"I heard the news..." he said with a sympathetic look on his face.
The girl puffs, "I don't need anything along the lines of pity, Prince Dice."
The man named Dice is the older brother of Daey and Niera, he is the only son of the King of Eiyalazo and the heir to the throne. But one wouldn't know this judging by the way this girl fails to address him as so.
"So skidaddle." she hisses while waving the back of her hand at him.
Dice shuts the door behind him and stays in the room.
The girl frowns and looks away in annoyance. "Cut it with the honor act, I can see what you're trying to do and it's not going to work." "i just want to be of help to you..."
"I don't need help with anything. And even if I did, I doubt you'd be of any use."
Dice looks troubled and shifts his gaze to the ground, it is obvious that he has been affected by her harsh words but it would seem that he is trying his hardest to hold it in.
The girl glares at him and faintly smiles, "On second thought, perhaps you can help me."
His face lightens up in excitement. "Really? What is it?"
She lifts a pen in her hand and twirls it in her fingers as she says, "I want you to make an exception on the no fighting women clause for the military."
"Huh? Why do you want me to do that?"
She stops twirling the pen and frowns, "I thought you said you wanted to help me?"
"Well yeah, but I won't be able to do something like that without a good reason."
The girl stands and walks to him, she looks him in the eye and simply says, "I want you to convince the King to allow me to fight in battle."
"You meant for you!? I can't just put you into danger like that!"
She lifts her hand and slides it across his face softly. She can feel him melt in her palm as though he were hypnotized.
"Say my name."
"Just say it, Prince Dice."
He stares into her sky blue eyes and says, "Rain... Rain Von Ronheim."
She again faintly smiles and gently shoves him away. "Very good, now think about that name and ask yourself why I would want to fight."
He lets loose the tension in his shoulders and drops his head when he quietly says,
"That's right, I want to find the one who killed my father. I refuse to allow that name to be rubbed into the mud any more than it already has."
Dice has a bad feeling about all of this but he knows how important these kinds of things are to the Eiyalazonian people. This country's residents are filled to the brim with over exhuming pride, so much so that it clouds their better judgment and throws reasoning out of the window.
He turns his back and opens the door, on his way out he says, "I'll see what I can do."
He then shuts the door behind him, leaving Rain alone.
She looks out of the window and looks at the view of massive trees, unlike the forest in which her father died in, this place is more of a tree lined utopia. Almost every house is made of white stone and marble, they do this because even though there is an abundance of wood, in case of a fire they can hide safely in their extravagant homes that are close to completely fire retardant while the firefighters try to stop the blaze. The streets are made out of smooth and hardened wood making the huge city look like it blends in with the forest ground even with the anomalous looking homes and buildings.
Rain takes a deep breath and once again turns away, but this time it is back to her desk. On it sits a large piece of paper that looks a lot like a map.
Looking closely, one can see that this is a battle plan, the green and red marks signify the Eiyalazonians, the yellow marks the La'Juutians, and the blue marks the Trojans. The blue is clashing with the red on the east side and the yellow is clashing with the red on the west.
This is without a doubt a blueprint of the war, she points her finger on the big circle of red and green that is based in the center of Eiyalazo and slides it up northwest, she taps it on a spot of the map that is a part of Troy.
"This is where I'll fight, if I'm correct in my assessment, our troops will head to the Trojan city of Tronoble and fight the main core of Trojan soldiers that are stationed there. Judging by this map, the La'Juutians will most certainly be heading there as well."
Rain doesn't know which opposing army assassinated Ditreig, but she is almost positive that it was the Trojans. And it turns out she happens to know exactly what branch of the Trojan military that was located the closest to her father's location at the time of his death.
(The 105th Specialist Division.) she thinks to herself.
With her finger, she plots out where they will be and finds that their force will be a roadblock on her path to Tronoble.
"Hmph... I will annihilate this division and head to what will be the biggest battle of the war. And with my leadership, there will be a grand victory for Eiyalazo."
Rain is only seventeen, but she is the best Battlefield Strategist in the country. Though there hasn't been a war before this one to show off her skills, much like Prince Noah of La'Juune, she showed incredible genius in her simulations and that alone allowed her to be part of the elite group of non military strategists. But when one of her plans was used in the offensive against Troy and it succeeded greatly, she was promoted, and throughout the four battles she has been involved in she holds a perfect record, thus her rise up to this rank was quick and painless.
She laughs and walks out of the door, she is in what Eiyalazo boasts to be the largest castle in the world, and that is very true. This castle is made of marble and stone just like the other houses and buildings but this is on an other worldly scale; it is at least forty stories high at its high poin,t and stretches more than a half mile from its east wing to its west. On the top of the castle, just above the penthouse is a hundred yards of garden and trees that stand above all else, and this is where Rain is heading.
After walking for quite some time, she reaches the stairway that leads to double doors, once opened, she finds herself in a Garden of Eden type environment.
In the center of this sits a massive tree, and many different kinds of fruit trees are placed decoratively in the area. Other than the small cobblestone pathway that winds through them, the ground is all grass and other crops of vegetables and fruit. Not to be outdone, flowers of every color line the pathway giving this place the feel of a fairy tale that belongs in a painting.
Just ahead sits a bench more towards the edge of the roof, allowing it to own the most spectacular view in all of the country. Rain sits on the bench, sighs, and lays on her back; from where the sun is positioned and the trees that hang overhead makes a partial shadow that casts over her face and body.
She ganders at the sunlight through the trees and listens to the birds sing, their melodies make her a little tired so as soon as she rests her eyes she falls asleep.
Her name rings through her head and wakes her from her sleep, she opens up her eyes and the first thing she notices is that the sun is shining lower and the scenery has more of an orange tint due to the star's descent behind the horizon. The shadow that once cast over her body is now gone and her own shadow is facing the opposite way.
(How long was I asleep for?) she asks herself as she rubs her eyes.
It is close to sundown and the light is beginning to reach the horizon.
"Did you enjoy your sleep?"
Rain turns to the voice and sees a man wearing a crown dressed in royal garments, he has dark brown hair and light brown eyes. His well groomed appearance exudes class and the way he stands perfectly astute with his chest puckered out makes his statuesque presence domineering. Next to him is a woman, she is rather tall and has very light off red hair and light off red eyes that can be considered pink. The woman smiles and says, "You weren’t in your office, but we always know that we can find you here."
Rain makes eye contact with the two and bows. "I must apologize for having you two look for me."
The man stands astute with his hands held behind his back and properly responds, "That's beside the point, Prince Dice asked us for a favor on your behalf."
Rain stands up and stiffens, "Yes sir."
The man rubs his beard and says, "The rules of the military have been in place since this country's founding, and I do not want to do anything that desecrates the honor of our founders."
When he says this, Rain has to struggle not to frown, she holds it in as he continues.
"But, this is a world war, and if we lose this war we run the risk of not even having a country to honor our ancestors in. So after careful consideration with my wife, I decided to allow you to join the military as a Brigadier General, but I will not allow you to fight. Your skills as a strategist far surpass your worth as an expendable soldier. I hold a strong belief that you leading a mass of soldiers from the front lines will be much needed to secure a future for our country."
Rain once again bows and says to them both, "King and Queen Di'Vore... I give you my humble thanks."
The man turns and walks away into the garden, before he disappears in the greenery he says his final words, "I'll have you sent to the 1st Royal Army division. What you do with them, will entirely be up to you... I pray you don't end up like your father."
"Don't take offense in Gile's words about your father... I'm sure he's just worried about you. You are our daughter’s closest friend, as harsh as he can be at times I know he considers you family." said the Queen.
Rain sits back down on the bench and says, "I didn't take offense, Queen Di'Vore."
The Queen smiles and waves her hand, "Now now, no need to be so formal with me Rain, you can call me Dianna."
Rain stays silent, she looks uncomfortable with calling the leading woman of the country by her first name.
Dianna sighs and puts her hand on Rain's shoulder, "I hope one day you can consider me more as a friend rather than the Queen."
Rain bows and seemingly ignores her words when she replies, "I shall try my best to do so Queen Dianna."
Dianna chuckles and begins to walk away. "You know, you mean the world to my son... so please be safe out there."
Now alone, the weight of the King and Queen's presence is lifted off her shoulders, she takes a deep breath and looks out over the city that stretches to the horizon that is enveloping the sun. Rain frowns and feels a gripping pressure in her chest.
"If only you two knew how much I despise you both."
Rain has held a great hatred for King Gile and Queen Dianna ever since the Battle of La'Juune.
She feels this way because of the public humiliation of her father Ditreig when he was dishonored and demoted all the way to the lowest rank in the military. Because they came from nobility beforehand, they still had courtship status so Ditreig shrugged it off and took it in stride. But it really affected an adolescent Rain, she was relentlessly bullied and shunned by all of her peers. Even when she tried to cope, it became impossible to ignore when her mother committed suicide because of the constant harasssment and shame.
Since Ditreig was out doing grunt work in the army, Rain was left alone in what she felt as a hostile environment of the castle at the young age of twelve. In her mind and logic, all of this grief was caused by the King and Queen when they chose to disgrace her father. It was bad enough that the army had failed miserably when victory was in their hands, there was no need to punish their own men by rubbing salt into their wounds. This has grown into such a hate for her leaders that she contemplated assassination. However, due to her friendship with Princess Daey, she internally renounced her intent to do so.
So now the only thing she cares or thinks about is finding who killed her father and exacting her revenge. In an odd way, she is now free to harness the many years of anger built up in her and now has a chance to unleash it onto someone without the fear of consequence.
She still has a lingering thought in the back of her mind of what she would do about this hate if the currently missing princesses were to turn up dead, she doubts she’d be able to hold onto her resentment with no one left to keep her from acting upon it.
Back when she was younger, the only person that came to her aid and comfort was none other than Daey Di'Vore. Daey supported her when her father was dishonored and joined her in mourning when her mother passed, and she did this despite all of their other contemporaries shunning her. With Daey's support, the bullying stopped and she was able to resume her normal life and proceed in her career as a Strategist.
For this she is forever indebted and she will never forget it.
The sun sets and Rain watches the first star shine in the sky followed by the first street light to shine on the ground.
"Though I must give you my regards for allowing me join the military, I must forfeit your order for me not to fight." She stands and walks down the pathway. "I only have one goal, and in order for me fulfill it, I must do it with my own two hands."
Just a few feet in front of her stands Dice, he looks troubled and it seems like he's been there for a while.
"Have you been waiting for me?" she asks.
Dice leans against a tree and replies, "Yeah... so my parent's talked to you right?"
"I know my parents gave you their approval, but I must ask you to reconsider."
"No." she very bluntly replied.
Dice frowns and raises his tone, "What if you were captured!? You could die out there! You cou-----"
Rain interrupts his speech by holding her hand out and pointing her index finger up.
"Why would you care?"
Dice's shoulders jolt and he takes a step back.
"Because I... I!"
"Because you what?" Rain asks with a straight face.
Dice again jumps back and shouts, "I care for you Rain! I don't want anything to happen to you."
"That doesn't answer my question, I already knew that. What I want to know is why you even bother with such a useless feeling. I treat you like shit you know? Are you some kind of masochist?"
Her words are poisonous like venom, this really does prove her point on how she treats the Prince.
But Dice doesn't care, with a serious face he takes a step closer to her and says, "I don't need a reason to love someone."
"Pfft..." Rain puffs, "Hahahahaha you've got to be kidding me."
Once again, a brutal reply to the conveying of his feelings.
He stands his ground and stares into her eyes.
Rain folds her arms and asks, "Well, if you're not kidding, I must ask you what kind of love that is?"
"You should know what I mean Prince Dice, I do believe you have your love placed in the wrong person for the wrong reasons."
Dice looks confused and asks, "I don't get where you're going with this."
"I am trying to say that I'm not your sister. And I don't want you to dote on me the way you doted on them..."
She continues to throw arrows into his heart by saying such harsh words, unfortunately for him this is exactly what she feels.
Back when they were younger, Dice was overly protective of Daey and Niera. So much so that Rain thought he really had a sister complex. When he found out that they had disappeared in La’Juune, the devastation he felt could be seen a mile away, and ever since then he has been acting the same way towards Rain as he did his two younger sisters.
Rain finds this kind of thing pathetic, she thinks it would be similar to her situation if she would run to older men and treat them like her father, or the same with a mother figure. This kind of love is something she wants no part of, and even though she knows this is Dice's way of coping, she won't budge in her decision to ignore his feelings until he realizes that she is not his sister.
"That's not how it is!" Dice shouts as he puts his hand on his chest.
Rain chuckles, "It is, you just don't know it yet. Once we find Daey and Niera you'll forget all about this mess of a feeling you hold towards me."
Dice frowns and squeezes his royal over coat, this catches Rain's attention when she notices something on his hand.
"What is that on your hand?"
"O-On my hand?"
"Yeah, on your right hand, there’s a mark there."
Dice quickly removes his hand from his chest and throws it in his pocket.
"I-I burnt it earlier and put some medicine on it."
Rain runs her fingers through her hair and begins to walk past him. "You should bandage that up then.”
Dice watches her walk out of sight and nervously smiles, "Ah yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking!"
Once Rain leaves, Dice looks very troubled, he pulls his right hand out of his pocket and looks at the back of his hand. It's getting close to being completely dark and he can hardly see what's there, he moves it closer to his face and sees a black pentagram imprinted into his skin. He laughs for a second and then frowns.
"Damn that snake... she’s no different now than she was before, he better not be lying."
Rain leisurely tosses a bag of luggage in the back of a horse drawn carriage, it makes a loud noise that startles the woman holding the reins. "Let's go." she says as she gets in.
The carriage woman snaps the reins and the horses begin to move.
It's over a half day's travel to get to the division that she'll be leading, so she decides to shut her eyes and try to sleep the time away until she hears a loud thud from the back of her seat. She turns to look at the source and sees a large duffle bag. Before she can ask herself whose bag it is, her question is answered when the carriage door opens and in comes Dice.
"What are you doing?" she asks.
Dice smiles and replies, "You didn't think I'd actually let you go to war by yourself did you?"
Rain sighs and replies, "Part of me didn't think you would, but all of me was hoping for it. Let me guess, this was the bargaining chip that got your parents to approve of me doing this right?"
In Eiyalazo, it is the job of the Prince to experience battle for PR points. Though he will certainly not fight, the propagandists will say that he did, and valiantly at that. The optics of such a thing garners the support of the people, even though the Royals think of their citizens as primitive commoners; they understand how important it is to be in good favor with the masses.
Dice used this to persuade his parents to allow Rain's military exemption, and to add on to that he used this for his own personal need in wanting to ensure Rain's safety.
"Tch." Rain clicks her tongue in annoyance.
By him doing this, it almost completely hinders her plan in personally taking revenge on whoever assassinated her father.
Dice glares at her with a smile as though he is wanting her to look impressed by this feat.
Instead, she folded her arms combatively before leaning back into the seat to gaze out of the window, completely ignoring his presence. This will make the half day long ride very awkward for the pitiful prince.
The sun is close to setting and there has yet to be a word spoken between the two, the silence was so bad it even made the driver cringe.
The driver sighs in relief when she sees the base camp just a few minutes away.
"We have arrived at our destination." she said with a smile.
Once through the guarded gate to the camp, the sight of thousands of soldiers enclosed in a makeshift wooden fort is seen and they enter into what feels more like a large village. As soon as the carriage stops Rain immediately grabs her luggage and exits the door.
"Don't get in my way." she coldly says as she walks to a group of higher ups stationed in one of the tents.
Dice sighs and glances at the driver who is glaring at him like, 'Did she really just say that to you?'
He smiles at her and bows, "Thank you for the ride."
The driver jolts up and blushes, "Y-You're welcome! It was my pleasure your highness!!"
He waves goodbye and watches her head off into the sunset, he then looks around and is amazed at how many people are in this division; this is without a doubt one of the largest groups in the army.
Hundreds of people who just happened to be walking by stop and stare at him, they double take because they are not a hundred percent sure that the real Prince is actually here.
Dice walks into the tent that Rain had just entered, and as soon as he does he instantly feels like an outsider, the energy inside is intense. Rain and five other men are all standing over a table with a large map on it and all he can do is stand in the corner and listen.
Rain slides her finger up the map and says, "I want 3/4 of this division to head northwest toward Tronoble, and the rest remain behind as back up." One of the men surrounding the table shakes his head. "If we head there, our battalion will head straight for a blood bath, and if we're not careful the La'Juutian's will attack us from the west. The entirety of this division will be annihilated."
Rain glares at him and turns back to the table, there are red and green stones that lie on the paper which indicates their position on the map, and it also includes the blue and yellow of Troy and La'Juune.
She slides a few red stones up to the position of the blue stones that sit on the position that signifies the city of Tronoble and replies, "That's not the case, by sending 3/4 of our troops to fight the Trojans in the city, and having our last quarter lag behind us by two miles, it allows the La'Juutians to commence their attack on our left flank." She maneuvers the colored stones around gracefully, keeping their attention on her. "And while they do this, it will allow our lagging fraction to sweep behind them and attack, this will surround them and allow us to capsize their force from the outside in."
"Do you think we can pull something like that off? I mean, fighting both of them at once sounds very risky, the Trojans have the advantage of being at home. They can just retreat while we and the La'Juutians kill each other off."
"That won't happen." Rain swiftly retorts, "The Trojans will never abandon a city that holds so much importance, they need to be stationed there to avoid opening up a pathway to their capital." She points her finger on the surroundings of the city and continues. "These mountains are damn near impossible for an opposing army to pass in the southwest of Troy. Tronoble is crucial to all three of our countries and I know for sure that whoever wins this city will be in control of the first turning point in the war."
The men all look at each other and contemplate her plans. It's not like they have any choice but to do this even if they disagree, but it is more encouraging to have all of the leaders in agreement.
They all have a light feeling in their stomachs when they look at the bigger picture of all this.
This battle will go down in the history books as one of the most significant battles of all time. The light feeling isn't only from the excitement of such a thing, it also comes from the massive risk in contrast to the massive reward; they understand that if this battle is lost, it would leave the western part of Eiyalazo completely vulnerable and could possibly lose the war for them.
"Judging by your silence, I take it that none of you object?” said rain as she folds up the map. “Good, we leave tonight."
Dice is broken out of the trance he was just in while he was watching the genius of Rain firsthand and says, "Tonight? Don't you need to rest!?" Rain tut tuts and replies, "Rest is worthless Prince Dice. By us moving out tonight, we can catch the 105th Specialist Division off guard before the sun rises and we can get to Tronoble by the end of the week."
It would seem that she has had this planned since the very beginning, everyone is wrapped around her finger and they are forced to move at her pace, that also includes the Prince.
Dice folds his arms and looks at her with concern, he is about to say something but he is stopped by Rain.
"You need to trust me." she says as she walks out of the tent, not even giving him a chance to respond.
Dice sighs, but his heart races at her request. As he stands there flustered, he is paying no mind to the five army men who are staring at him in shock.
They were so infatuated with the presentation of the battle plan that they hadn't even noticed that the Prince of their country was standing a few feet away in the same tent. He turns to them and sees that they are all saluting, he does so in return and exits the tent.
By now the sun has set and it is night, a man with two different colored eyes standing in front of the tent is making an announcement to the entire battalion that they will be leaving in less than an hour and what they are to expect upon doing so.
Rain is loitering alongside a small creek and throwing rocks into it, she is anxious to leave and is just killing time, if it were up to her, the preparations and the orders for battle would be done along the way.
"Hey.." Dice said as he sneaks in from behind her.
Just the sound of his voice made Rain cringe in annoyance, to her, it seems that his pester factor has increased tenfold since her father died.
"I would appreciate it if you'd stop following me."
"You know that I can't do that."
"I recommend that you do so... or I will begin to truly show you someone unlovable."
Her words sting, he doesn't know exactly what she means by this but he only imagines the worst. He gulps his throat and proceeds to sit on a rock.
"Why do you hate me?"
He looked saddened and distraught when he asked that, and it made Rain feel obliged to answer. "I don't hate you, I don't even dislike you. There really isn't a single thing that could make me feel that way towards you."
Dice's face lights up, he reveals a wide eyed smile as if asking, 'Really!?'
Rain wants to stop this before he gets his hopes up and finishes, "But, there isn't a single thing about you that would make me feel anything more than nothing."
She walks away and heads to the stage where the announcement is being made, leaving a hurt Dice in her wake.
Dice puts his hands on his face and sighs, "I don't get it... this isn't supposed to happen this way."
He leans back on the rock and pulls off the gloves that cover his hands.
He frowns and talks to the tattoo of the pentagram, "Why is this happening huh!? You're supposed to help me!!"
As soon as he says this the surrounding area all turns red and he feels an excruciating pain in his hand. In a normal reaction to pain, people wince and move around to defer it somehow, but in this situation his body is frozen stiff and this causes it to feel even worse.
The black pentagram begins to shine and out of the light comes the familiar black snake, it slides up his arm and looks at him with its blood red eyes.
"I am helping you Prince Dice, can't you see it? You are occupying an incredible amount of space in her mind."
"Yeah, in the wrong way!"
"The process of a one sided love has to begin somewhere, even if it is not what you'd like it to be. Did she not ask you to trust her earlier? The fact that she thinks of you means you can be loved."
Dice grits his teeth at how his hand is feeling and has a cracked voice when he says, "That doesn't make any sense."
"Oh but it does my fair Prince, just wait and see."
Dice clicks his tongue and shouts, "I'm tired of waiting! I want her to love me now!"
The snake slithers further up his arm and moves eerily close to his face. "That impatience of yours, let this emotion you feel eat away at your soul, let the thirst for that girl ferment in your heart. If you keep growing that feeling, I will make your desires a reality."
The snake sucks back into his hand and it causes Dice to feel an awful pain.
He pants as the feeling dissipates slowly and says to himself, "You told me that the first time I met you... what I truly want to know is how you are going to make this happen..? I still don't get it."
A man is sitting on a throne-like chair with a chess board on an intricately designed marble table that lies in front of him.
He moves the rook of a black chess piece toward white and says, "Slowly but surely, my little pawns will soon allow me to rise once again."
He sits in an almost completely dark room, it's so dark that his face can't be seen. The candlelight can reach only to his hands, legs, and the chessboard.
"Your constant desire to meddle in the affairs of humans is childish."
Came the voice of Damien, who is standing below the rise of the chair.
He is wearing the same facial expression as always and his red eyes seem to be glowing even brighter than usual.
The man in the chair gestures to his chessboard that only has two black rooks positioned upwards in contrast to one white rook away from the rest of its group. "This is where you lack the ability to see how important humans are, without them you and I could hold no power, but with them we can have it all."
"Oh? You expect to gain so much by simply tempting them to carry out your will?" Damien replies smugly.
The man laughs, "Hahaha, of course my foolish child. That is the role of God is it not?"
"Except you are not God."
The laughter stops and through the darkness a serious aura spews from it.
Damien feeds off that aura and throws words equivalent to kindling into the fire of animosity burning from the other side of the room. "A God is worshiped are they not?"
The man on the chair stays silent for a moment until he replies, "Soon enough, everyone in existence will worship me."
Damien shrugs his shoulders and turns to walk toward the door.
"Good luck with that."
"Are you condescending me? I don't see any movement on your chessboard."
Damien keeps walking and opens the door.
"My chess pieces have been moving all along, but it would seem that you have been too infatuated with the world of man to notice it."
He exits and the room is once again embraced in a cold black. Through the darkness two red lights shine where the chair is. It is the man's eyes that are glowing like burning hot pieces of coal.
Damien is walking in the hallway when he faintly reveals a smile full of confidence and says to himself, "Go ahead and writhe in the thirst to be worshiped by fragile humans… they mean nothing to me."
Rain is riding on a horse alongside a few men and is leading a whole battalion of soldiers through the trees; this area of northwestern Eiyalazo does not have as many large sequoia and banyan as the area where Ditreig was assassinated. Here, the land mainly consists of pine and other small trees that spot the grassy and hilly terrain.
The battalion is spread out in fifty groups of ten people wide and ten people deep along a forty yard gap. The reason for this is that in case of an attack, they would easily be able to retract and form a massive defensive position, and spread out even more to surround the enemy in an offensive position depending on the size of the opposing force.
In almost all of Rain's battle plans, she focuses on surrounding the enemy; one can say that this is her specialty because in even the most unlikely situations she'd find a way to defeat the enemy from all sides and in using tactical movements.
"We should be rendezvousing with your father's division very shortly, they have retreated back due to constant attacks by the Trojans so they are stationed just a few hundred yards ahead of us." said the man with two different colored eyes who is riding next to her.
Rain keeps her stare forward and responds, "Good, I have a few questions to ask some of the soldiers. Also, who is the man now in charge?"
The younger looking blond man ponders for a moment until he put a face together with a name. "It is your father's old assistant, his name is Jalet Aldred."
"Alright, once we arrive there we will stop for no more than an hour, and afterwards I'll have them tail behind us. We can use there help."
The two divisions combine and the scene is quite hectic because the sheer number of men all in one group; some are leisurely joining each other in conversation and some are strictly business types and are ignoring the presence of the other soldiers outside of their squad.
A man comes up to greet Rain and the rest of the higher ups, he looks a little nervous and is juggling his note book in his hands.
He tilts his glasses up, salutes and stutters when he says, "I-I'm the Captain of this division, my name is Jalet Aldred. It's a pleasure to meet your acquaintance."
Rain twitches her eyebrow and becomes intrigued by this gingerly man, she jumps off her horse and looks him in the eye.
"So you are the new Captain huh? I'd like to ask you a few questions."
"You were Captain Ditreig's assistant correct?"
"So out of all your soldiers, you carry the most intelligence about the circumstances of his death, correct?"
"Then tell me all you know."
Dice joins the group and listens in on the talk when he sees the gingerly man scramble as he flips through pages of his notebook and begins to read.
"At 0900 hours, two of our surveillance men we're killed in action by Trojan spies. Their uniforms we're stolen and the two spies infiltrated our division and assassinated Captain Ditreig."
Rain rests her hand on her hip and leans on her left leg, with a suspicious tone she bluntly asks, "Is that all?"
She stares at him with a straight face, causing him to become even more nervous and he begins to really sweat profusely. Seeing this verifies the suspicious feeling that is poking at her subconscious, but instead of abruptly stating what she is thinking, she decides to gather a little more evidence.
"What were the names of the two soldiers that were killed?"
Jalet flips back in his notebook and puts his finger on their names. "Eh-uh... It was Corbin Mizlesh and Applic Stellson."
"What did they look like?"
Jalet flips a few pages back and says, "One had brown hair and green eyes, and the other had somewhat of a feminine build with short black hair and crimson eyes."
Rain doesn't say anything when she turns away and reaches her hand in a pouch that rests on the side of her horse's saddle and pulls out a large book.
She looks through it and asks, "Oh? Tell me something Jalet, do you note everything down in that book of yours?"
"Why is that?"
"B-Because I feel that it is important to write everything down in order to obtain consistency in daily routines."
"Hmmm, and I have something in common... I also enjoy charting the everyday moments of the world around me, it helps me plan ahead so I can bend those moments to move at my own pace."
Jalet is confused as to where she is going with this, so he thinks it'd be wise to simply go along with it.
"Is that so?" he asks with a wary smile.
Rain stops on a page and pulls a piece of paper out.
"Oh, this is what I was trying to find... now, just one more." She continues to turn the pages until she once again stops and pulls yet another piece of paper out. "Here we are."
She puts the book back into her saddle pouch and turns to Jalet, causing his shoulders to stiffen up. She faintly smiles and hands him the two pieces of paper.
"As a pupil similar habits, I'd like to know what you think of these two pictures."
He grabs the papers and sees that they are actually two photos of men, and as soon as he sees this he turns even more pale and his eyes grow so large it's as if his pupils are hitting the lens of his glasses.
On the photo to the left is a man with long black hair and black eyes, and on the photo to the right is a large muscular man with golden hair and blue eyes.
But this isn't what has got him so shocked; underneath the photos are the names of the men, 'Corbin Mizlesh' and 'Applic Stellson'.
This has completely contradicted the story that Jalet had just told. Corbin, a man whom he described as someone with brown hair and green eyes has differing features than that of the photo; and Applic, the man whom in the photo looks to be the exact opposite of the described feminine man with crimson eyes and black hair.
"Of course, I had all the photos of the men in this division sent to me so I know what I have to deal with. You see, this is called controlling your future Captain Jalet. By simply combining all of the odds of certain events that could happen and preparing for each one separately, you can literally control your own destiny." She walks with in a few feet of him and continues, "Those who live for the daily occurrences that help the present moment go by smoother will only be run down by the past. And if I'm not mistaken, that is exactly what has just happened to you. Because you failed in preparing for what I might do once I got here, you were caught in your little cover up."
"W-Wait, t-this isn't what it----"
Before he can finish his awful attempt at making an excuse, Rain interrupts him.
"Now now, no need to look so discouraged about it, you have successfully given me a fairly accurate description of the assassins, and that's the most important thing I need to know."
She pats him on the shoulder and walks past him.
Jalet exhales in relief and releases the tension in his shoulders, but he quickly stiffens back up when he hears her voice again.
"Oh, that reminds me." Rain turns around and glares at him. “I have a question for you.”
Jalet quizzically turns and replies, "Y-Yes ma'am?"
"Since you saw the perpetrators, I must ask why you were not present when Captain Ditreig was killed?"
He takes a sharp and very deep breath before attempting to respond.
"Eh! Ah ah... you see he was..."
Rain still has such a calm demeanor about her and she once again interrupts, "Could it be that the two spies were personally directed to Captain Ditreig through you?"
She is spot on in her assessment, she came to this conclusion when she thought about what the many different circumstances that could be possible in which the spies were able to gain access to her father. To her, it seems most logical that the spies would have had to go through Jalet to speak with the Captain privately.
Judging by his reaction, she assumes she is correct and says, "Yes... that has to be it. How else would the Captain's assistant be nowhere near his superior when he was being killed? And why else would you go to such great lengths to cover it up..? You have a slue of charges against you Capt- no... Jalet."
Jalet's knees are shaking and it is quite obvious that he is a total wreck; he is in such shock that he was easily found out just because of a slight slip up that no one should have noticed.
He can't come up with the words to retort so all he can do is bow and shout, "I'm sorry!!!"
Rain begins to walk back to him, "Other than the assassins, you are the closest man responsible for the death of Captain Ditreig."
She lifts his head from his bowing position and looks him straight in the face, she frowns and turns away quickly.
After a few steps she turns to the onlooking men on horses and coldly says, "Execute him."
Jalet drops to his knees, this is the worst possible outcome he ever could have imagined; he wants to beg for his life but his throat is so hoarse that only the sound of light grunts can be heard.
Dice's face drops, for one, he can't believe what he had just witnessed, and for two, he can't believe that she could so callously send a man to death for something that wasn't entirely his fault.
He jumps in between them and shouts, "Absolutely not! I won't allow it!"
Rain doesn't turn around and lets him continue his objection.
"That punishment is far too harsh for something like this, how can you be so heartless!?"
Rain waits a moment before answering, "The punishment is too harsh? Because of his negligence, his superior was cut down from under his nose. This drastically altered our war effort."
She turns to him and reveals a face so full of anger that it makes his stomach hurt.
"Quit this stupid honor act of yours and use your god damn head! This man is lucky I don't have his eyes, ears, and arms dismantled and force him to run blind into the forest! Because of this man's incompetence we lost valuable ground in our offensive against the Trojans. And because of this man, I lost my father!"
This sudden surge of emotion has caught everyone around off guard.
Dice has never seen her act in any way that would indicate such a reaction.
But that's still not going to deter him from what he knows is right, he takes a deep breath and prepares to reiterate what he had said before when he feels the back of his right hand pulsate.
Along with this pounding heartbeat like feeling in his hand comes a voice, "This is the beginning, my fair Prince. Let her order stand."
Dice clenches his teeth and shuts his eyes as he screams to the voice from within his head, "No! I can't accept the order for such an awful thing!"
The voice gets louder, "If you do this she will realize that you will do anything for her; she will start to accept you. This is what you have to do, the path to her heart is opening through this hate that she holds. This is the fist step needed to have her heart and mind cling to your image."
"But I can't do this!"
"Oh but you can, just allow me to help you."
"That's what I don't get! How are you going to help me? Especially in this situation!!?"
The voice is now so loud that it is giving Dice a banging migraine.
"I will show you."
Within an instant, the headache disappears and his body feels incredibly light, so light that he does not notice that his hands are moving by themselves.
(Huh? What's happening?) he thinks to himself.
And this thought enters his mind more and more when he begins to hear himself talk without his consent.
"You are right, Rain." he says.
Rain looks at him with a confused expression until her eyebrows steadily form back into a frown. "I don't want to hear how you're going to tell me I'm right, only to add a 'but' at the end."
Dice smiles, "That's not what I'm going to do this time... in fact, that's not what I'm going to do ever again."
"What are you talking about?" she asks.
"By seeing your face just now, I realized that what you want from me is not kindness, but support. It’s why you told me to trust you isn’t it?"
Rain stays silent as she watches him say and do things that are baffling her; she watches as he pulls out the saber from his sheath and points it at Jalet.
Jalet's jaw drops, his fear is paramount when he looks into Dice's eyes and sees no hint of any emotion, only the cold glare of someone who is about to take a life.
"N-No don't! Didn't you just say that you'd help me!?!?!" Jalet shouts in a panic.
Dice shows no thread of hesitation when he says, "That was before I understood Rain's feelings... I can only understand her if I can feel the same pain that she does. The pain of losing a father because of a gingerly weakling who wasn't paying attention! You do deserve this punishment!"
Rain is taken aback, this transformation of character is an exact 180. She can't believe that he'd even say something like that and is beginning to wonder if he has always had this within him.
With widened eyes she asks Dice, "You aren't actually going to do this are you!?"
Dice looks at her and gently smiles, "I must do this, to show you that what I said was true."
He lifts his saber and slices down on Jalet's neck, completely lopping off his head in a clean strike.
As soon as his lifeless body hits the ground a couple soldiers run and grab his corpse to take it into the woods for burial.
Rain can't believe what she had just seen, an odd feeling begins to brew in her chest and she doesn't know if it is good or bad, but she knows it is tightly squeezing at her.
With a cracked voice she says, "You... you actually did it."
She shakes her head and quickly comes to her senses, she looks at the multi-colored eyed blond man on the horse and orders, "I want you to find someone worthy of becoming the Captain of this squad... and make sure he is good too, he will be taking over my father's former position."
"Wait!" shouts Dice before the man can take off. He puts his hand on his chest and kneels toward Rain. "Please... allow me to take that seat."
"What?" she asks with one eyebrow raised.
"I don't think anyone other than me is better suited to take control of your father's division."
"But you aren't allowed to fight."
"I don't have to... I can lead them in a similar fashion as you."
Rain thinks about it for a moment and is about to refuse until he looks her in the eye and quietly speaks so the others can't hear. "Please... I want to help you restore your name, by me doing this, it will show the people that I respect your father so much that I personally chose to command his own troops."
"Fine..." she replies. She gestures to the other onlooking men and says, "We leave in an hour, so get everyone prepared."
All of the men simultaneously shout "Yes ma'am!" and head off into the masses.
Rain has her composure back and she looks at Dice for a moment, the two aren't alone but no one around can hear their words. She folds her arms and stiffly asks, "Why did you do that?"
Dice stands from his kneeling position and walks to her side, he leans his head close to her ear so she can feel his warm breath when he says, "Because I love you."
He walks away into the crowd and leaves Rain standing there in the same spot.
When he said this, Rain has that tight feeling resurface once again in her chest, she puts her hand over her heart and asks herself, "This is interesting."
Dice is leaning over the bank of a river that runs through the trees and gags, he is desperately trying to vomit to relieve some of the nauseating feeling in his stomach. The images of the beheading flash into his mind like a strobe light cutting through the dark.
"I didn't want to do that! I didn't want to do that! I didn't want to do that! Why!? I told you no didn't I!? Why did you make me do it!?" he shouts in a panicked voice.
The voice of the snake rings in his head, "Did you not see the look in that girl's eyes? You have made a large impact on her from just that one action."
"It wasn't me who made an impact! You were the one who did all of that!"
"It was what needed to be done."
Dice starts throwing water on his face and shouts through the droplets, "I don't care! I don't want this deal anymore, I want to make her love me on my own!"
"Do you hear me!"
"Very well then... I shall leave you, but you will soon beckon me once again for knowledge when she comes to you and expects someone more to her liking."
The voice disappears and leaves Dice's mind to wander in its own dismay. He is breathing hard and drinks a big gulp of river water, he then shakily stands up and leans on a tree.
(Is he gone for good?) he thinks to himself.
He readies to remove the soaked white glove on his right hand to see if the pentagram is still apparent when he hears some footsteps crunching on some leaves from behind him.
He slowly turns to look assuming it is just a regular soldier checking in on him, but is in for a big surprise when he sees that it is none other than Rain.
"R-Rain? What are you doing here?"
Rain takes a couple more steps toward him and replies, "I just want to talk with you."
"W-What is it that you want to talk about, Rain?" Dice asks nervously.
Rain puts her hand on her hip and leans on her leg. "Nothing in particular... I guess I just want to hear your voice."
Dice blushes and asks, "Is that a good thing?"
"I don't know yet... that's what I'm here to find out."
Dice scratches his head and wonders if what the snake did actually worked, this kind of thing has never happened before so he figures that it has finally proven some results.
Rain walks within a few feet of him and looks him in the eyes. "Why did you do that?"
Dice feels very uncomfortable with her question, he doesn't exactly know how to reply because it was not him who said and did those things.
"Because you love me right?" Rain interrupts.
"T-That's right." he replies as his eyes shift away from her and toward the ground.
"Hmph." Rain puffs with a slight smile, she turns around and starts walking away. After a few feet she stops, and with her back to him she says, "I think I know now."
She disappears in the darkness of the woods, leaving a confused Dice behind.
"What does she mean by that?"
"We're here..." Rain says to the blond young man who's second in command as they both crouch in a natural forest burrow.
They have left the area where her father's division was posted, and after traveling for more than three hours they have spotted a light that shines from within the dense woods.
"If my map is correct this should be the 105th Specialist Division." she mentions, her eyes are stuck on a map that indicates their position.
It states that they are within a few hundred yards of where they need to be, and because she can hear the men talking around their campfires she knows that the map was accurate.
"So how should we go about this?" the man asks.
Rain ponders for a moment and responds, "Full on frontal assault."
"That's odd of you, don't you think it would be better if we surround them? We do have them outnumbered after all."
"That would be an insufficient waste of our efforts, I don't want to throw away my precious time strategically battling them if we can just wipe them out in one fell swoop."
The man ruffles his blond hair while scratching his head. "Well it makes sense... our side will definitely take on more casualties though."
The man takes a deep breath in discontent as she continues.
"Time is far more important than expendable men. I want to get this done quickly and save the use of my technical intricacies for Tronoble."
He sighs loudly as if vehemently disagreeing with her, but having no choice but to oblige he says, "Yes ma'am."
He stands up and walks back to the thousands of troops that are all lying in prone positions. Looking at this massive gathering of men he says, "At least we know there’s no chance of us losing."
The entire battalion is awaiting a simple hand gesture from her to signify the beginning of the attack, she has a big smile on her face as she thinks about how great things are working out. Dice is more than a mile behind her because he volunteered to take command of her father's division, so she knows he can't get in the way until the battle is over. This means that she can actually fight to her heart's content and the anticipation in doing so is making her body as light as a feather.
She lifts her arm and is ready to point it forward when she happens to see a man in blue armor taking a leak behind a tree while drinking a full bottle of rum.
She drops her hands and ducks, watching him intently.
(Is he a lookout?) she thinks to herself.
She pulls out a foot long dagger from her boot and ponders an ambush.
All the man needs to do is look to the right and he will see the massive force gathered on a hill, if he does, he would easily be able to outrun the Eiyalazonian military back to the core of his group and warn them of the dangers.
This would certainly damper Rain's plans, with the Trojan's informed, they have more of a chance to arm themselves and prepare for a defensive battle; this would add more casualties to her men and even worse, cost them more time.
After waiting for him to finish, Rain looks closely to see if he will catch a glimpse of the battalion and to her disappointment, he does. His face drops in shock and he jolts back to his group.
Rain clicks her tongue and starts running after him as fast as she can through the dark forest.
(He'd better not shout!) she thinks, knowing full well that if he does he might be close enough to his comrades to give away their position.
The two weave through the trees and Rain is steadily gaining on him, the man isn't used to running through trees like this so he is weary of each turn in order to not get stymied.
Rain notices this and realizes that she holds a distinct home field advantage.
This kind of activity is something that every Eiyalazonian is used to, they can judge the distances and gaps between the dense trees in an instant so they won't get entrapped or lost.
Rain is within a few feet from the man when she readies her dagger.
The man senses this and becomes extremely nervous, he speeds up and then he feels that her presence has completely vanished. He looks behind him and finds that there is nobody, in fact, he can't even hear any footsteps and wonders if this whole incident is just his drunken imagination playing tricks on him.
While looking back he relaxes and loses his focus, he takes a sigh of relief and then...
He slams head first into a tree and falls to the ground on his back.
"Ooah! Fuck!!" he shouts while holding the side of his head that banged into the tree.
He just lays there and tries to recoup when he looks from side to side and sees that there is no one around.
He starts to laugh loudly and says, "Damn this shitty forest, it has been playing tricks on me since I got here."
He continues to laugh until he happens to look up into the branches of the tree he had just ran into.
In the branches he sees the intense eyes of the girl who was chasing him, and she is pointing a large silver dagger at him that shines dangerously bright under the light of the moon.
The man is blue with fright when she smiles and leaps towards the ground, before he could even move she viciously lands on him and in the same motion impales his chest cavity with the dagger.
An instant kill.
In her mind she understands that this was a flawless victory when she considers what she had just accomplished; she knew the man was running toward a tree by merely looking ahead of him at the formation. She knew at the speed he was going there was no avoiding it, so she abandoned her position behind him and cut to the right, which was a shortcut that had a clear path to where his collision course was. She hopped up the branch of one tree and up the branch of another until she was looking down on her prey.
Albeit, this was as easy of a kill she would have imagined.
Rain stands up off the man and looks down on him, he has a petrified look on his face and the way his eyes stare blankly up at her feels as though she is looking at the freeze frame of death itself. He was wearing this expression when he knew his final moments were up.
She pulls the dagger out of his chest and looks at the blood.
A thin grin forms on her face when she says, "That felt great!"
She runs back to the burrow she was once in and makes it to the sight of the battalion, she signals the attack and thousands of men come running off the hill and into the forest, but they are doing so very quietly to not give the Trojan's any kind of advanced warning.
Rain is running along with them, the blond man tosses her the long and thin sword that belongs to her and she unsheathes it; she smiles when she thinks of how many lives she can take with this blade that she herself designed.
They continue through the woods when the sight of the 105th Specialist Division can be seen, another wide smile surfaces on Rain's face when she sees the meager numbers of the men. It looks like they have less than four hundred men and they are outnumbered more than ten to one, and to top it off they are caught completely off guard.
This is shaping up to be a massacre and Rain knows it, this makes the sweet taste of victory all the more sweeter because she also knows that in this group should be the two people who assassinated her father.
What starts as a silent battle turns into chaos as the mass of men begin to scream and the sounds of their swords clashing is heard in a metallic din.
In the initial collision of the two forces, more than half the Trojan men were killed and only a few dozen Eiyalazonians were taken out. The tidal wave had already broken their rands and there is no turning it around, the Trojans have no hope.
Rain can see that distinct hopeless look in all of their panicked faces as she calmly walks inside the heart of the battlefield. She is scoping as many people as possible in order to find someone who fits the description of one of the two men given to her by Jalet, but she is having no such luck.
She clicks her tongue in frustration and swings her long blade at a Trojan man who is already engaged in battle with one of her own, it strikes his back and fatally wounds him. She continues to walk through the mass of carnage and does the same thing repeatedly, just to sooth her bitter attitude.
She reaches a point where there are more enemy soldiers than allies and stops; what she can see is the scrambling of men desperately trying to stem the tide. She notices that there are two men that are shouting orders to people and she assumes that they are the Captain and perhaps someone even higher up in the ranks.
(I wonder if I can get to them?) she thinks as she analyzes the many different routes she can take through the men.
Seeing that it is pretty much impossible to weave her way to the leaders, she decides to back away and run into the trees to attempt to sneak behind them.
In the trees she slowly moves, inching her way through the darkness of the early morning in order to not be seen; but what worries her is that the Trojans might be trying the same thing, and to her annoyance she finds that there are a group of nine men that are heading in her direction.
"Damn it all, I thought that after Zurvick and Captain Ash took out their Captain we'd be safe until our back up troops arrive next week..." one of the men spits.
Another man grits his teeth and adds, "Who would have thought that killing that Ditreig guy would piss them off so much?? This is ridiculous!" "It's a good thing they aren't here, I don't see how any of us are gonna get out of this one." said the one walking on the furthest to the left. They are not trying to be quiet, they think that there is no sign of enemy troops around them this deep in their lines so they are talking leisurely.
Rain doesn't know this, but these are the men who were platooned with Zurvick and were with him around the campfire; these are the people that would likely know the most about the happenings with her father.
Even though the exact circumstances are still unclear, she hides behind a tree and eavesdrops. She had already heard them drop three names, one being her father and the other two being some people named Zurvick and Ash, so she is puzzling the pieces together as they speak. She hides quietly and listens to their conversation.
"It's a damn shame... I never got to try that friggin' liquor."
"Ooahh I'm still thinking about that too!"
"Come on guys don't be ridiculous, it's not like us regular soldiers would be able to drink something the Queen had made herself."
The men look happy as they talk about it, the mere fact that they were once so close to having a taste of something the most beautiful woman in their country had touched makes them antsy just thinking about it. This idle chit chat is definitely being used as a coping mechanism for their certain forthcoming fate, by doing this, they are keeping their minds off of their likely deaths coming next.
"What a lucky bastard that Zurvick..."
"Haha yeah no kidding."
Before the men can continue their talk they are interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind them, they quickly turn and they see a girl standing there, she is holding two rounded balls in both her hands and has a smile on her face.
"Who are you!?" one man shouts.
This seems completely off to them, seeing a girl dressed in Eiyalazonian attire on the battlefield certainly shouldn't be happening because they know that there are no women in the enemy's military.
"You know what these are right?" Rain asks as she points her hands out, gesturing them to look at what she's holding.
The men all look at her with angst.
Judging by their reactions, she assumes they know.
"That's right, these are the new Eiyalazonian shrapnel bombs. The explosions they cause are quite violent, they can easily kill nine men standing this close."
Explosives are very rare at this point in time, explosive minerals like gunpowder and other nitrates have only recently been discovered, and not in near enough quantity to mass produce combustible weapon. These balls of death are activated upon contact with a certain amount of weight pressure, and after two seconds it explodes and sends hot flames and shrapnel hurling through the air at immense speeds.
The men know that they are not in good shape, because of the trees they are pretty much in a confined area, thus making escape to be very difficult if not utterly unattainable.
Rain's smile grows wider when she says with a demands, "I'd like to hear about this Zurvick person."
A man sits on a large throne in a dark room, he laughs as he moves one of his black rooks up another spot on his chessboard.
This time at the foot of his throne is Beelzebub.
He looks at the chessboard and sees that there are two black rooks along with the queen piece positioned upwards, and one white rook on the opposite side going forward.
"You seem awfully excited with that game of yours, if you don't mind my asking, what do those chess pieces signify?" Beelzebub asks.
The man gestures his hand toward the board and replies, "These are souls."
"Oh? All of them?"
"No, just the ones that have been moved up on my side of the table are souls that are under my control."
Beelzebub put his hand on his chin and asked, "What about the white one?"
"That is Lelaine Niveusvenia, the Queen of Troy. She is one of the souls that defied my tempting."
"And the black rooks?"
The man points to them and states, "This one is Sturgess Issac, he is the Commanding General of the Trojan military. This one is Dice Di'Vore, the Prince of Eiyalazo."
He stops his explanation and Beelzebub is obliged to ask, "And the last one?"
The man chuckles, "This person knew who I was yet still accepted my offer, she knew she was handing over control of her soul. This person has the ability to change the world for my gain, and with the powers I shall bestow on this one, I will return to Earth."
Beelzebub has grown quite intrigued by this; though he is not involved with the happenings of Earth he finds the situation that blankets over the human world to be more than enough entertainment to hold his interest.
The man on the throne continues, "This person and the Queen are not as foolish as the others. The other two allowed me to take their souls without even knowing it, they never thought of the price of our contract.”
Beelzebub stares at the bright red eyes that shine in the darkness like scorching pieces of coal and asks once more, "So what is the name of this person?"
"Her name is..."
Rain is awaiting the answer of the men that she is holding hostage with the two bombs she holds in her hands.
She urges them to hurry by saying, "Come on now, if you guys stay silent I'll find you to be useless, and if I find you to be useless, I will kill you."
They all look at each other with wary eyes and one of the men steps forward.
"We would never sell out one of our own."
Rain scowls at him and asks, "Are you all willing to sacrifice your lives for this one man?"
"Of course we are!" a man shouts.
Rain smiles evilly, "Oh really now? I don't mean to tread on your integrity but I find it very odd that all nine of you would die for a regular soldier... I would find it strange that you'd forfeit yourselves even for the sake of your Captain."
A man puffs air out of his nose and responds, "Hmph! Well you don't know those two!"
They all smile in agreement as they ready themselves for the worst.
"I actually think I do, gentlemen... your Captain's name is Ash Alworth right? If I'm not mistaken, that is a woman's name." The men all stay silent as Rain continues. "And did I hear something about the Queen? Oh yeah that's right, it was something about the liquor she personally made for the soldier who assassinated Captain Ditreig. That in and of itself is odd, unless... hmmm, the soldier's name was Zurvick wasn't it? Zurvick Niveusvenia, the King of Troy who fights alongside his men in battle, that man would certainly be someone you all would choose death for."
She knows all of this because of the countless studying she has done on the opposing armies of Troy and La’Juune, especially on this division in particular; of course she knew who Ash Alworth was beforehand.
The part about the King is purely speculation however, she had heard that King Zurvick fights with his men through the Trojan newspapers but had no clue where he fought and what division he fought in. That information was kept classified for obvious reasons.
The men are still shocked at her deduction; she is spot on accurate on the info they wanted to hide just from hearing a few words of their conversation.
They look at each other and in silence come to the conclusion that they absolutely can't let this girl leave with this knowledge at all costs, and with that they charge at Rain. In their mind, if she wants to use the hand-bombs, it would result in her blowing herself up as well.
Rain smiles and calmly tosses the bombs at her feet, this catches them off guard, they are less than fifteen feet away from her and they know that they are all in the range of the blast, including her.
"Hahaha, your reactions tell me all I needed to know. My use for you is over.”
The bombs blow and it rips through the men and the trees.
Because there are two of them, the explosion is so large that it would easily kill anyone within a 20 yard radius, the men were within ten feet of Rain so they are instantly obliterated.
Once the smoke clears the carnage can be seen, all nine of the men are now bloodied and mangled corpses.
However, there is one person standing with her hand on her hip and leaning on her left leg.
The last person standing is none other than Rain.
She has somehow survived the blast and is completely unscathed, she walks over their mangled bodies and says to the dead men, "There is no way I would be killed by something as simple as a bomb."
She looks out toward the heart of the battle and sees that this blitzkrieg is almost a full on victory, she guesses that it will be over in less than five minutes. She decides to relax and watch on until the fray calms, once it's done she'll give further orders to make sure they leave a couple survivors from the higher ranks.
"Now the real fun begins."
Dice is riding a horse at full speed toward the site of the battle in which Rain is involved in; behind him is Ditreig's former division and of course, the majority are on foot so Dice is far ahead of them.
"I hope she's okay." he says worriedly to himself.
They were an hour behind but they had already decided to increase their speed in order to catch up long before that, so now they are only a few minutes from reaching the battlefield.
Once there, they find that it is over.
The 105th Specialist Division has been entirely demolished, the Trojan's fought hard though, a good amount of Eiyalazonian soldiers have been killed as well. 70 Eiyalazonion soldiers died in the fighting, with a few dozen more wounded.
Dice gets off his horse and walking through the piles of dead soldiers looking for Rain, he spots the higher up with two different colored eyes and asks him, "Do you know where Rain is?"
He looks at him and replies, "She's on the other side of this camp interrogating a soldier."
"Thank you." Dice says as he starts to run to the other side of the battlegrounds.
After running for a few minutes he finds Rain, along with a few men standing over a bloodied Trojan soldier who is tied to a tree.
Rain lifts the bloodied man's drooping head with the dull end of her thin longsword and says, "So King Zurvick and Captain Ash left this division as soon as they got back from the assassination mission. Is that all you're going to tell me? I'd like to know where they are going."
The man glares at her with bloodshot eyes and spits blood onto her shirt. "I'm not going to tell you shit."
"Oh? I think I can persuade you to do otherwise."
The man laughs loudly and spits at her again.
Rain takes her sword and sticks it into his eye, with a little maneuvering she easily extracts it and it falls to the ground, she ignores the man's screams and makes him watch her stomp on his severed eye.
"Gurraaaaahhh!! You bitch!"
"You must understand that this is what will continue to happen unless you tell me where they are. Can you imagine what it will be like with no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, and no fingers and toes?"
The man finally expresses some nervousness, and Rain can see it clearly.
"It won't be enough to kill you though; you will continue to live like that for the rest of your life. We will keep you alive, you have my word that the rest your miserable days will be in absolute agony as a deaf, blind, and disfigured mute."
"I-I can't tell you." he says with horror in his voice.
Rain points her sword to his other eye and says, "Very well then, let's see if you still have the same composure when a few more of your extremities are gone."
He feels the blade touch his remaining eyeball and shouts, "Okay I'll tell you!!!!"
"That was easier than I thought it'd be, now spill it."
She removes her sword and listens to him explain.
"They are heading back to the Capital of Troy..."
"By land or by sea?" she asks.
It's fortunate that they didn't decide to go back to the Capital by boat, if that happened there is no way Rain would be able to catch up with them. Not only would they have been much further along traveling by sea, the Trojan Navy is far superior than Eiyalazo's, it would have been a suicide mission trying to pursue them.
Because they are on foot, there’s only one route north to reach the Capital, and that is through the southern Trojan city of Tronoble.
Doing the math in her head, she realizes that they can catch up to them if they leave a little after the sun rises; because the two aren't in any kind of rush they'd probably stay in Tronoble for a couple day's rest. This will allow them to attack the city while the two are still there; she smiles and wonders if there are any other questions she needs to ask and comes to the conclusion that she has all the information she could ever want.
"Wasn't that easy enough? We're finished here."
She walks away and the man asks her, "So what are you going to do to me?"
Rain turns and responds, "Me? I'm not going to do anything to you."
He sighs in relief until she says,
"But my men are a different story."
The surrounding men all pull out their swords and impale him to the tree, killing him on the spot. Dice, after witnessing all this is utterly mortified at Rain's actions.
He thinks to himself, (How can she do these things!? This isn't the Rain that I know, it's like she's a completely different person!) He falls to his knees and all of the sudden the familiar voice of the snake surfaces in his head.
"This personality of hers has always been there my fair Prince. You must appease to what she truly is, otherwise you will never have her."
"But... this isn't the girl I fell in love with."
"How so? Is that not her standing in front of you? She is the same as ever, but you have been too blind to see it, and that is why she doesn't love you in return."
Dice puts his hands on his head and squeezes his hair. "T-That's why she treats me so coldly?"
The snake's voice becomes louder, "Yes my fair Prince, she treats you coldly because she is waiting for you to see who she really is. Why else would she not return your feelings? She wants to love you but she needs to see that you can be someone who can accept and coexist with her true self. There is no one else in the world who can do that except you. Can't you see that she is asking you if you can do that? If you are willing to continue on this path alongside her, I can give you the means to obtain her affection! What is your answer Dice Di'Vore!?"
The snake's voice seems to hypnotize the young Prince, sending him into some kind of trance.
Dice smiles cynically and answers, "I ACCEPT!!!"
Rain is alone in the darkness of the deep forest and she is laughing somewhat hysterically to herself. The hate for Ash and Zurvick is growing and is beginning to weigh heavier and heavier in her chest.
"Hahahaha the King of Troy killed my father! The two of them used to be close friends, what kind of shitty man assassinates his friend!? Hahahaha this is great!"
She can barely see a few feet in front of her but is reveling with the darkened silhouettes of the trees as her only audience.
"Things are going so much more smoothly than I'd ever imagined!"
With a deep calming breath, she lifts her right sleeve that normally hangs to her fingertips; she points her arm upwards and smiles while looking at the back of her hand.
With a wide grin she says, "I must say snake... you are indeed working miracles for me."
On the back of her hand, a tattoo of a pentagram.
Rain on the Battlefield: (END)
Chapter 17: Night of the Ball
"Heeyyyyy, whatchya doin?" asked a cheery pink haired young woman.
She is dangerously close to a man who looks to be in his mid twenties sitting by his lonesome and reading a book.
"What does it look like I'm doing?"
"Hmmm, readin' duh."
"If you say 'duh' at the end of that like it was so obvious, then why did you even bother to ask what I was doing in the first place!?" shouts the man.
The two are standing in front of the pew of a small Catholic church. Carved statues of the cross, and other religious figures are displayed in front of the platform. What looks to be priceless artworks are hanging on the walls, and the fine carpet they stand on perfectly compliments the shine of the smooth oak seats.
"Hmmmm well then, whatchya readin?"
"What does it look like I'm reading!? Actually, don't answer that, I'll just tell you so I don't go down the same route again."
He holds his book up and says clearly as if he is speaking to someone who is just learning the language.
" It's - a - bible."
The girl pats him on the butt and laughs, "I know it’s a bible, I wanna know what chapter you’re reading."
The man sighs, it seems he can never get anything done with this girl bothering him all the time.
"The Book of Revelation."
She tilts her head and asks, "Why?"
"What are you a two year old!? Stop asking me so many stupid damn questions!"
She ruffles up the man's dirty blond hair and says, "C'mon this'll be the last one!"
"There's not much of a reason why, the story is interesting."
"Ooh I like fairy tales too!"
"I don’t think this can be considered a fairy tale."
She once again tilts her head. "Ya don't actually believe in that stuff do you?"
"This is the oldest piece of literature we got, it’s a historical document and I think it’s our link to the past."
The girl puts her index finger on her chin and explains, "That’s debatable, there’s not a general consensus that the stories in that book were actually written all that long ago. In our thousand year history the first record of that book was only 400 years ago. We can’t go believing in fantastical things just because someone told us to.”
Her reply has gotten the man a little rattled; what she had just said is one of the main arguments for people against the authenticity of the bible. Most people in this day and age think they have only been around for a little over a thousand years, which in some way is true. The memories about the past of pre-apocalyptic mankind are long gone, intentionally taken away so they could start over.
In the beginning of the post apocalyptic world, what remained of humanity shared in a sudden flash of existence. No matter the age of who was left, it was as though they had simply woken up into creation without a clue as to how and why they got there. Having been dropped into a brand new environment and suddenly becoming sentient, is similar to the big bang coming into relativity. What came next was the restart of human interaction with their minds and with each other, and a new beginning of being awakened by the power of God putting their past to sleep.
But what was thought to have been taken away, was merely waiting in the wings to be instinctively tapped into; humanity quickly formed civilizations again, and easily moved along in their ability to create multiple world orders. In what felt like a flash, humanity progressed to this level in just a few hundred years instead of tens of thousands of years of trial and error to evolve into functioning societies.
"Then what do you think was happening before we started counting years?"
The sound of the church door opening interrupts him, in comes two men, and there is an abundant amount of blood all over them. But looking closely, it's obvious that it isn't theirs, it definitely belongs to someone else.
They carry on a conversation as if they don't even know what blood is.
"I'm telling you, curry is the most complete meal you can eat!" The brown haired young man on the left shouts into the other man's ear.
The other young man with gray hair on the right rubs his ear and replies, "There is no way that rice and whatever that ungodly spicy sauce you pour on it can be anything close to hearty! You need protein! Protein!!!! And the best way to get that is to eat meat!"
"You can put meat in curry sauce! It tastes great!"
The two men who are covered in blood nudge at each other.
The blond in front of the podium sighs and shuts his bible, a vein grows in his forehead as he continues to be pestered by the girl named Celestia and the loud voices of the two men ring in his ears.
He reaches his breaking point and shouts, "God damn it would you all shut up!? Fuck’s sake!"
The three stop and look at him like he has just committed a horrible crime.
One flinches and says, "Geez Jeffrey, you really shouldn't say something like that in a church."
The other man nods his head in agreement and Celestia added, "Yeah whadda jerk."
The man named Jeffrey pulls his hair and again groans, but this time really loudly. "I absolutely can't concentrate when you guys are around."
The four of them are now sitting together on a church bench.
Jeffrey has completely given up on reading, he sits there leaning his upper body on the pew in front of him. "So how did it go out there?"
The two men both stand astute, but the brown haired one looks like he is doing it in somewhat of a comical way when he reports, "I, Olin Strausslend, will report for both Lenox Applewood and myself and say, 'It went about as good as a war gets!'"
Lenox's dark red eyes shine as he shoves the vibrant and loud Olin away. "I'm sorry Captain Durbin, this idiot really doesn't know how to explain things well. I shouldn't have let him speak."
Jeffrey sighs and responds, "Quit it with the formalities, how many times have I told you not to call me Captain Durbin? Can't any of you guys just call me Jeff or something?"
Celestia leans on his shoulder, "Nyaaa, I like Jeffrey the most! Sounds more teddy bear like ya know?"
"No I don't know!"
From behind them the door once again slings open, in come two men and one woman. All of them, just like before, are covered in someone else's blood.
A black man leads the group, he takes his first few steps in the church, cuts to the left and sits in the furthest and darkest corner away from everybody.
With the color of his skin and dark tint of the corner it makes him a little hard to see, his small voice comes from that darkness.
Jeffrey squints his eyes to see him and says, "Good work Haas..."
The woman who looks to be in her late teens, and has long auburn hair that covers half her face and has numerous hair pins of different sizes to hold it in her style chimes in with a complaint. "You shouldn't pair us up with Haas anymore, people from the Dravic Branch of the La'Juutian military are better off working alone. His lack of speech almost caused the death of me out there, if he had just yelled my name I would've been able to see that Trojan bastard who was trying to attack me from behind."
The last man who entered the door is tall and pale with black framed glasses covering his black eyes, both accompanied by long silk like black hair that rests atop his head, he gives off the feeling of a guy extremely confident in his smarts.
He comes to the quiet Haas's defense by saying, "Olivieramorteusbergesque De Gran Allia. Your name is way too damn long for anyone to shout out in a tight situation like that. I swear, people of royalty enjoy wasting their breath on their own names."
The girl with the frighteningly long name responds in frustration, "That's why I told you to just call me Allia!"
"But don't we usually call each other by our first names?" asks Olin.
Celestia adds, "Yeah, it'd be super weird if we all called each other by our last names. I wouldn't be too happy if you all called me Letrova instead of Celestia, my surname sounds too old and icky."
Allia frowns and shouts, "If you think being called Letrova sounds bad, then how the hell do you think I feel when someone calls me by my first name!?"
Jeffrey again sighs and throws his head down into his arms and groans in frustration; his stress level is increasing with every voice that passes through his ears.
He turns to the black haired man and asks, "Hey London, where are the last three? I want to get this meeting over with before my brain explodes."
London pushes up his glasses and looks down at his wristwatch.
"They should be here any minute now."
As soon as he says this, three more people enter the church, two of them are beautiful girls, one is rather tall and the other one is rather dainty and fragile looking. The man with them is shaven bald and has a black tattoo that runs from his forehead down below his eyes, but it's hard to see it because there is so much blood all over his face.
He has a big smile and his body language is moving in every which way as if he is reenacting something and using the air to do it.
And once his voice is heard that turns out to exactly be the case.
"So that prick ducked down and went 'woooosh!' and swung his sword up at me! But I easily dodged that and then 'scchhhlliiing!!! Gaaggaassshhhh!!!' I swung my blade and sent his head flying through the air! It was all like 'PAAAaaaaa thunk!' when it hit the ground!"
He is yelling his story right in the ears of the two girls, who are both definitely annoyed as can be.
It's actually quite amazing that the man hasn't accidentally hit one of them with his arms when he does his swinging motions.
The two girls look extremely miserable and the tall one with lime green hair awkwardly turns her head to him and smiles menacingly. Since she is taller than the bald man she grips the top of his bare head with her hand and squeezes.
"Listen Jessiah. We've had to listen to every story you had all the way here, we’re finished with them. If you say one more word it'll be your head that will go thunk on the ground."
Jessiah cowers in fear and politely says, "Yes madam Elise."
The shorter girl has flowing black hair and striking violet eyes, she stares at Jeffrey with those two star-like eyes of hers and with a straight face she bows intently. "Please... for the sake of all that is good, don't ever pair me with these two ever again."
Jessiah clicks his tongue and says, "Whaaaaatever."
But the tall girl named Elise doesn't take it too well.
"Haah!? Why am I included with this!?" She goes from shouting in a loud tone to a soft little child-like tone when she twiddles her fingers and says softly, "I thought we had finally bonded..."
The black haired girl looks up and replies, "You're old, bossy, and the worst part of it all is that you are an extremely perverted lolicon. I can honestly say that I fear for my virginity when I fall asleep around you."
Ignoring the worst part of what she said, Elise's face turns contorted at the sound of a three letter word.
"O-Old!??!! I’m only 23, you little brat!!"
"That's about old enough to be my mother if you were as perverted as you are now when you were eleven."
"Haah!?" Elise grits her teeth and veins begin popping up on her face.. "If you weren't so damn cute I'd kill you..."
As soon as she said that, the veins disappear and she begins to rub up on the young twelve year old girl. As if speaking to a pet, she childishly says,, "Ahhhnnn~ that's right! How can I get mad at such an adorable face? Oooh Seiri you are soooo cute! I just wanna take you to bed and cuddle with you!"
The black haired girl named Seiri glares at Jeffrey with pleading eyes and says, "See what I mean?"
Jeffrey puts his hand over his face and murmurs to himself, "How in the world did Napoleon deal with all of us?"
The group of ten continue their bickering and the noise level in the church hits its height, because of the acoustics, the sound is exemplified and overwhelming to Jeffrey’s senses.
The conversations consist of: How the bible isn't real: What food is better for the body: Complaints about how a certain member of the group should be treated as a hermit because he didn't want to shout out an obnoxiously long name: The reminiscing of a man's murder in an explicit and exaggerated manner: Doing inappropriate things with a child.
All of these subjects should definitely not be spoken of in a supposed house of God, but those thoughts are so blatantly ignored that it makes Jeffrey's head spin.
To top it off, Jessiah walks to the bowl of holy water and washes the blood that belongs to someone else off his face as though the holy water was just some kind of sink conveniently placed in the center of the room.
Jeffrey groans and then loudly says, "Why do all of you guys have to be so damn different!?"
"The fact that you are all different, makes the ten of you together the strongest group in the world."
This firm voice came from a person walking through the doorway.
All ten of the disorderly group are quickly silenced and they all stand astute and calm as if all of what they were talking about had never left their lips in the first place.
The person walking through has orange hair and black eyes, he is dressed sharply in royal colos,, and his body language is that of pure confidence. Despite his dashing appearance, the lines under his eyes make him look like he hasn’t slept in a couple days. This person is Noah, the youngest Prince of La'Juune, his sixteenth birthday was only just a few days ago and he now sits as the acting King and leading General.
This is undoubtedly something that requires a lot of stress, even for the most experienced of men, someone of his age must be overburdened with such a responsibility. If this were the case, the ten in front of him wouldn’t know it, other than what looks to be lack of sleep, he’s yet to show even a sign that the rigors of this pressure has affected him.
Noah walks along the center hallway and reaches the podium in which the preacher would usually speak his sermons.
He stares at them all and says, "Since we're all here, that would mean that our battle has ended with our victory."
Jeffrey salutes him and begins to speak, "Yes sir, but our back up division lost the majority of its troops."
Noah pulls a rolled up piece of paper out of his coat's inside pocket and replies, "That's no matter to be concerned with. As long as you ten survive, the back up troops mean nothing when it comes to usefulness in comparison."
Jeffrey embarrassingly smiles and agrees with him, "You’re certainly not wrong."
It's as though he is ashamed to say that the ten of these dysfunctional people together are far stronger than a full division of soldiers.
Noah glares at him and sternly says, "Don't do that... it reminds me of what my older brother Luke does when Xavier pesters him about something."
"My apologies sir."
Noah ignores his apology and puts the rolled up piece of paper on the preacher's stand; while unrolling it he says, "Now that we're done in this town, our next mission is even deeper into Troy."
From the pews, London asks, "Shouldn't we wait for the rest of the army to get here before we go any deeper? We don't have any more than two hundred soldiers left on our side from today's battle."
Noah huffs air out of his nose and shows a quick smile of confidence. "That's the point."
With heightened interest in what he meant by that, Jeffrey and London sit back as he explains,
"This mission is going to be far more difficult and dangerous than anything all of you have ever faced. We are going to a city that is heavily prepared for a battle at any moment, and it's a city that Eiyalazo will most definitely try to take themselves."
"Will the ten of us attacking such a heavily sought after city really help us win the war?” Jeffrey asked.
Noah quickly responds, "No, it's something that will keep us from losing the war. If Eiyalazo takes this city, they will use it as a buffer to keep us from getting any deeper into Troy than we already are."
"But that would make it so all we'd have to do is defeat Eiyalazo's home front first, I can't imagine a scenario where La'Juune could possibly be defeated by the sacking of one Trojan city."
Noah glares at him for a moment and then says, "I guess that is true, but that depends on what you consider victory and failure to actually be... I want control of both countries, that is the only way to find the whereabouts of my two brothers and Napoleon. That said, we must completely annihilate both countries to obtain true victory. Anything short of that is a defeat."
Noah scopes out his map and continues to address the ten.
"We all know that Troy's navy is far superior to ours and Eiyalazo's, so the only way to infiltrate it is through its southern tip. As of now, both Eiyalazo and La'Juune are fighting their way upwards while Troy invades our two countries from our respective coastlines. They have a distinct advantage on us at this moment, but the one who takes this city and advances further towards the Capital will have the ability to enclose Troy's invading soldiers and promptly demolish the country from within. In the meanwhile our other forces will invade Eiyalazo. They can afflict the same destruction upon us if they seize the opportunity before we do.”
A lot more intricacies go into a plan like this, but Noah simplifies it as best as possible to make it sound like it is as simple as counting to three.
Jessiah just gets finished cleaning the blood out of his ears with holy water; with his finger in his ear and an excited smile on his face he says, "That sounds like it's gonna be a lot more fun than dangerous!"
Noah lifts his finger as if he is a teacher correcting his student. "I haven't gotten to the dangerous part yet."
The group's attention doubles as soon as he says that, they listen intently as he continues.
"With the two hundred men left in this division, traveling north would be near impossible, we'd be spotted quickly and disposed of like garbage. We could wait for reinforcements to arrive and attempt to battle our way northward but unfortunately time is a luxury we currently do not have. A spy of mine in the Eiyalazonian military has informed me that there is a battalion of soldiers on the cusp of invading this city as we speak. They’re being commanded by a brilliant new battle strategist, and she will succeed unless we stop her.”
He shoots the group a serious glare when he finishes.
"Jeffrey Durbin: Celestia Letrova: Olin Strausslend: Lenox Applewood: Haas Avandale: Allia: London Stott: Jessiah Riddings: Elise Whittier: Ebihara Seiri... you, the Ten Knights of La'Juune, along with me... will sack this city ourselves."
The ten show faces of determination, some serious and some smiling as if a great adventure awaits them.
“Yes sir!” the all reply simultaneously.
Jeffrey, the leader of this disorderly group takes a step forward, and in a business-like voice he says, "So what city are we attacking?"
Noah lifts his map and turns it toward the Knights, with this motion he assertively declares,
"The city we will be attacking is..."
In the streets of Tronoble a young woman leisurely walks alongside a man, the two blend in with the crowd of passersby and take part in the hustle and bustle of this lively town. It is a perfect day in this beautiful city, the sun is shining comfortably overhead, and a gentle breeze whips the scent of mountain air through the cobblestone streets. The couple on this stroll are Ash Alsworth and Zurvick Nieuesvenia.
Despite the beauty of their surroundings, Ash keeps her fixed glare on Zurvick as he casually takes in the sight of Tronoble with a carefree smile. The glare she is sending him is sharp as though she wants him to notice her frustration.
(Is he really just going to shrug this off??)
1 hour earlier...
Ash was in the bath of the hotel room while Zurvick was sleeping on the bed, when she got out of the bath she found that there were no towels on the rack because Zurvick ended up taking both of the large towels from his own shower the night before. Soaking wet and angered by his lack of consideration, Ash had to make do with what was available; she spotted a small hand towel by the sink about the size of a square foot and decided to use it.
Wiping her body in an awkward way, she was more or less completely naked in the middle of the bathroom, and while trying to wipe her back she accidentally dropped the hand towel on the ground. She clicked her tongue in annoyance and leaned over to pick it up, and that's when Zurvick just happened to walk in to take a leak.
Ash was leaned over with her bare butt pointing right at the doorway in which he stood. She stopped in shock and stayed in that position for a few seconds, giving Zurvick a perfect view of everything she has to offer.
He himself was also frozen, he had just awoken from a nap, so to walk into this scene so suddenly from being half asleep, all he could do was just stand there with his eyes widened.
Ash realized what had just happened so she jumped up with a "Kyaah!?" and turned to him.
She desperately tried to cover herself with that little towel but it was no good, she could barely cover half of her chest when she saw Zurvick's eyes drift downwards.
She chucked the towel at his face and literally kicked him out of the bathroom in anger.
Finally noticing her glare, Zurvick can't help but feel like he needs to speak, not knowing exactly what to talk about to break the tension, he awkwardly says, "It's been a long time since I've visited this town! 23 years to be exact!" Zurvick loudly said as though he just made a declaration.
Ash responds with silence.
"I grew up here before I moved to the Capital, so I know of this great place I want to show you! They sell the best dresses! I wonder if the same lady still works there from back then---"
He continues on talking to himself while Ash's thoughts drift off elsewhere.
(Is he really trying to play this off like it never happened?? He saw me naked!!!!)
The two are heading out to the local shops to buy a dress for Ash and a suit for Zurvick. Once the city of Tronoble found out the King of Troy had paid them a visit, they immediately threw a large festival a few days ago. Today is their last day in town before heading north, so to celebrate the King’s departure, the city and the local upper class is throwing a ball at sundown.
Not getting a reaction out of her, Zurvick’s increasingly uncomfortable mind scrambles onto a topic that will at least get her to acknowledge him. He moves closer to her and they bump shoulders, he smiles when he says, "Hey... doesn't this seem like a date?"
Ash jolts sideways and away from him, her face turns bright red and her crimson eyes glow in unease.
"D-Date!?!?" she shouts bashfully.
Zurvick scratches his head and shrugs his shoulders. "Well yeah, I mean the two of us are alone and walking together on a nice day shopping for clothes. I bet we look like a nice couple."
Ash becomes completely flustered, she doesn't know if he is just trying to get a rise out of her or if he has no sense of tenderness. No matter the reason, after seeing her completely naked just an hour earlier, what he had just said is hardly appropriate in her mind.
Ash kicks him in the shin extremely hard and shouts, "We’re not on a date and we’re not a couple!”
In his usual way, Zurvick hits the deck like a ton of bricks had just landed on his head. Though this was a thunderous kick, he holds his leg as he groans in an obvious overreaction to the pain.
He looks up at Ash who has her arms folded and an expression like that of a pouting child. He can't help but forgo the feeling of pain in his leg and smile.
"Now that's more like you." he said softly as he stood back to his feet.
He felt like his goal to get her back to normal had worked. Shifting his gaze elsewhere, he catches sight of something.
"Oh wait... we're already here!" he shouted excitedly.
He quickly walks with a new spring to his step as if nothing had happened to his leg and points his hand toward a beautiful large wooden house. On the top of this house sits a large billboard that says 'ROYAL WEAR'.
He becomes more excited once he sees this familiar billboard and exclaims, "This is the shop I was telling you about!"
He immediately grabs her hand and rushes her through the crowd of passersby.
All she can say while being dragged along is, "Whaa?"
Now in the shop, Ash is overwhelmed by the scenery of this quaint place; gorgeous handmade dresses and suits line the walls and aisles. The smell of the new materials really gives off the feeling that she is in a place that's far too clean for her to go around touching things without care.
She tucks her hands to her sides and treads carefully when she says, "You know... I absolutely hate dresses."
Zurvick starts gazing around and grabbing hold of the clothing to judge its quality.
"Because I'm not the kind of girl who likes these kinds of things."
"Obviously you're not the dress up type, anyone can see that."
Ash scowls at his nonchalant way of saying that and protests, "What's that supposed to mean!?"
Zurick smiles and pulls out a red dress from the rack, he holds it out toward her and with one eye shut tries to judge how it would look on her.
"I'm saying that it's just not your natural style. But I honestly think that you'd look very beautiful if we find the right one for you."
Ash instantly bushes and says, "D-Don't be so careless with your words, you idiot."
Zurvick chuckles and hands her the dress. "Try it on."
She snatches it out of his hand, snorts at him and walks toward the dressing rooms.
He sighs and watches her walk out of sight behind one of the aisles, as soon as she's gone he pulls out his flask and takes a swig of LeLaine's liquor. Upon finishing his drink and taking an exhale of satisfaction, he continues his search for a nice suit for himself.
After looking around for a moment or two, he ventures to see if this little old lady he knew when he was a kid is still working here. He stands on his toes to look behind the cashier's counter from his position in the aisle and sees the familiar face of that exact lady.
Overrun with the feeling of nostalgia, he rushes to her but runs into an unexpected obstacle...
Zurvick bumps into a man and both of them fall to the ground, the sound of his flask can be heard hitting the ground and the first thing he looks at is just that. The contents of the flask are rapidly spilling, and swift with the reflex of a cat, he grabs the flask in the blink of an eye, saving the majority of the liquor.
He then turns to the downed man he had just ran into and says, "I'm sorry about that, I wasn't watching where I was going!"
The man he bumped into is black, and has a blank look on his face, the man responds to Zurvick with a silent glare.
Zurvick is speechless at the man's silence; it comes to the point where he thinks that he might have injured him in some way.
The two stare at each other for a few moments until the sound of a girl's voice interrupts them.
"Hey, what are you doing causing a scene like this?"
A pre-teen girl comes and helps the black man to his feet, and then turns to Zurvick to do the same.
Upon seeing that Zurvick is safely back to his feet, she bows sincerely and says, "I must apologize, my friend here is a mute so he can't speak. I should have kept an eye on him."
"Eh-uh it's okay, it was really my fault..."
The girl looks down on the floor in a guilty cute manner, her long black hair flows gently over her face, with her violet eyes pointed to the ground she finds that there is a liquid there.
She looks up at Zurvick and says, "That flask in your hand... it spilled right?" She again bows, "Please allow me to compensate you for your loss."
"N-No it wasn't that much so it's really alright."
She continues to persist and she grabs him by his sleeve and nags at him, the black man stays silent and just simply watches while Zurvick is completely helpless to the girl's will.
Zurvick smiles with a sigh and thinks to himself, (Well this took a turn, I hope things are going smoother for Ash.)
Ash is standing outside the door of the dressing room with an irritated look on her face, the door is locked because it is currently occupied. (I can't believe I'm going to a ball with all of those prissy elites... I can't stand those kinds of people, and I really can't stand wearing a dress.)
She takes a deep breath and exhales loudly, this makes the person inside the dress room feel rushed and a woman's polite voice comes from within. "Sorry sorry! I'll be out in a sec!"
The door opens and out comes a woman with lime green hair and blue eyes, she is quite tall and looks unbelievably elegant in the white dress she has changed into.
"O-Oh no you didn't have to come out, I was just sighing because of a certain idiot I'm with..."
The tall girl tilts her head and asks, "A man?"
"Uhh, I guess you can say that."
The tall girl's face lights up and she starts scoping Ash in a seemingly indecent way. "Uuuooh~ a girl as cute as you shouldn't be worried about a gross man!"
"Yes yes of course!! You're short and tan, and you look so young!"
Ash's eyes drift away and she mutters to herself, "Young... that's my biggest problem with him."
"What do you mean?"
Ash feels uneasy talking about her problems with a complete stranger, but not having anyone else other than Zurvick to talk to, she just wants to get the weight of how she feels off her chest.
"I'm way younger than he is, so he treats me like a kid. I just want him to see me as something more than that."
The tall girl grabs her hands and smiles, "That's where you got it all wrong! You need to use your youthful exuberance as an advantage, a youthful girl is irresistible if she uses that as the main part of her charm!"
"Absolutely! Lemme help you look even better! I'll show you how precious it is to be young and cute!"
She grabs Ash's hands and takes her deeper into the store.
Surprisingly enough, this shop is far bigger than anyone would expect it to be, and with the selection of all the clothes it makes choosing the right item quite difficult.
This is the second time Ash has been dragged into doing something before she has a clue as to what is going on, but this time, she at least wants to know the tall girl's name.
"Wait, what's your name?"
The tall girl turns and smiles, with that she introduces herself, "My name is Elise Whittier! Nice to meet you."
"There sure are a lot of people around..." said Dice as he takes a gander around the city and sees the vibrant atmosphere it holds.
Rain is walking next to him in a disinterested manner. "That's because the King of Troy is in this town."
"I know, but don't you think it isn't safe for the King when so many people have access to him?"
"Not at all. Unlike most countries, the King of Troy is absolutely loved by his people. This might be the safest place for him to roam around freely."
Dice ponders for a moment and then asks, "Is that why you were against us staging our attack with the battalion?"
"That's correct, this city is already a Trojan stronghold, and now with the King present even the citizens would fight to the death to protect him."
"So what's the game plan then? It was hard enough for us to sneak into this city, I don't see how the two of us can do anything to change the tides of the war by ourselves."
Rain glares at him and begins to explain, "Unfortunately, assassinating the King of Troy holds little benefit to the war effort, and I am beginning to sense that the higher ups in the Trojan military don't even care about him. But killing him would put a huge dent in the morale of the people. And that morale will cause the distraught citizens and military men to become distracted for a day or so. That is ample time for our soldiers to invade while they are weakened."
Dice twitches his eyebrow at how much thought she has put into this, not only is she going to get her revenge, but she will drastically change the course of the war if she were to succeed.
"Do you really think it'll go that smoothly?" he asks.
Rain smugly smiles and glances down at the pentagram on the back of her right hand without him noticing and confidently says, "There isn't a doubt in my mind."
Dice presses on and says, "Okay then, I guess the question now is how we get into that Ball to assassinate the King and his Captain."
"Don't worry about that... a lot of people who aren't in the upper class want to get into this Ball. So, many owners of printing presses and embroiderers are selling forgeries of the tickets under the table. I bought a couple during the last few days of the festival."
Dice chuckles a little, once again amazed by her ability to think ahead and already have it done by the time the need comes up.
"I sure hope we don't get caught trying to sneak in."
"I don't think that would happen, many others have bought the same counterfeit tickets as I did, so once one is caught the others would be easily spotted when they match them together. But we're different, we are actually a part of a royal family, even if it’s from a different country. We are able to exude the true class and elegance needed to fit in if we wanted to. A bodyguard would be foolish to doubt a royal who actually looks like a royal, if he ends up being wrong in his assessment of one it would most certainly result in a severe punishment."
"That is true, our country already has a much higher standard of royal behavior than La'Juune and Troy. All of those strict rules we had to grow up with are finally going to be put to use." Dice states, he looks around all the different shops and finishes, "It would seem that all that's left is to get me a suit and you a dress."
Rain turns her attention to a beautiful large wooden house, she grabs Dice's sleeve to stop his movement and points to the billboard on top of the house that says 'ROYAL WEAR'.
"Let's go there, I'm tired of walking"
Dice smiles happily, just being able to be with her on a day like this is more than enough for him.
With that warm feeling brewing in his chest he replies,
"Okay, let's get ourselves ready for the Ball."
"Eh... Don't you think this looks a little ridiculous?" Ash asked, her face sunken with a dejected glare.
She is wearing an extremely frilly pink dress with ribbons all over.
Standing next to her in one of the dressing rooms is a tall girl with lime green hair named Elise, she has stars in her eyes and her face is sparkling bright red.
"Ahhhhnn~ you look so cute!! How can you say this doesn't look good on you!?"
Ash smiles and with a vein on her forehead she politely answers, "Because it doesn't..."
Elise shows a pouting expression and replies, "Boooo, fine I'll get you a different dress. But I do think that one looks amazing on you."
"I'm not trying to impress a ten year old girl! I'm trying to make an older guy look at me, and if he saw me wearing this the first thing he'd do is laugh and say how childish I look!"
"I'm telling you, looking older will be much worse! Being young is the best part of life so you must show it off if you want to win him over!"
Ash sighs when she realizes that nothing she can do will break the determination of how Elise wants her to look; if she had any idea how to dress herself in such a way she would've ditched the dawdling tall woman long ago.
"Fine... let's just make this next one a little more classy."
Elise salutes her and says, "Leave it to me!"
She dashes out of the dress room and heads back into the aisles.
Ash takes the dress off and sits on a bench in the ten by ten sized dressing room, she glares at herself in the mirror and a saddened expression surfaces on her face.
"What am I even doing? It's not like this is actually going to work..."
Thinking about how enthusiastic this random girl Elise is, she can't help but feel grateful for her help, but at the same time feel that there is no need for Elise to put so much effort into a lost cause. After all, Zurvick is much older. And not only that, he has Queen LeLaine for a wife; is she really trying to do something as terrible as steal the Queen’s husband away?
Ash leans her back against the wall for a moment until her determination comes back. "So what if he's married to the Queen, I'll be damned if I don't at least try to get him to look at me!"
Elise is rushing through the aisles to find the right dress for Ash; it's almost as if she is in an entranced state as she scopes out the best of the best.
In the aisle that Elise is currently in, a girl with long black hair that parts at her shoulders and bright blue eyes is shopping as well. She is Rain Von Ronheim, the leading Battle Strategist for Eiyalazo.
Of course Elise, being the type of person she is, immediately picked out an outfit for Rain and handed it to her without even gathering a second look at either Rain or the dress.
"This one." she said as if her mind is focused on her original objective.
Rain doesn't really care about this random person’s opinion, but she decides to take a look anyway. It is a sky blue dress with black linings over the buttons and ribbons; there are slight and simple designs etched in dark blue throughout and it even matches the top hat and umbrella that goes along with it.
Rain is actually not too picky when it comes to things like this, she doesn't want to get a dress too extravagant to avoid standing out more than necessary, and she doesn't want a gaudy one for the exact same reason. Her job is to blend into the crowd, this outfit is perfect for such an occasion. It's just the right color to where she can look like someone with a lot of class, and with her personality make it seem as natural as it already is.
She takes it and begins to walk toward the dressing room, but before she gets there she turns to Elise and simply says, "Thank you."
Rain gets to the dressing rooms, there are three of them and they are all connected to where they share the same roofs with a gap in the top wall above the separating panels.
Rain begins to change when she hears the sound of thumping being heard on the wall next to her, that banging noise is accompanied by a girl's voice.
"Ahhh who am I kidding!? There's no way this is gonna work!"
This voice belongs to Ash, who is despairing over her current situation, she is banging her head against the wall in frustration at this very moment.
Rain, who is in the room adjacent to Ash is becoming very annoyed, she knocks on the wall and says, "Can you stop? The noise is giving me a headache."
The banging stops and Ash jumps to her feet. "Oh crap sorry! I didn't know anyone was in there!"
Hearing her loud voice, Rain wants to end the conversation quickly so she can try her outfit on and get out.
"Don't worry about it, now you know."
"O-Okay... sorry again."
Rain doesn't respond so she can get the other person to stop talking, and after a few moments she's pleased to find that it worked. She readies to change until she hears the loud sound of the adjacent door opening quickly and slamming shut, ringing violently through her ears.
The loud voice of Elise is heard yelling, "This is the one! It's perfect it's perfect it's perfect!"
Then, Ash's voice is heard, "Waaaaaa!? That one!? It shows way too much skin below my shoulders!"
"No it doesn't! This has just the right amount of mature sex appeal and shows just the right amount of your cute young body! Aaaaahhn~ I'm so proud of myself!"
Thuds and thumps are heard throughout the dressing rooms, it's as though a bear attacking a defenseless animal is taking place just a few feet away.
Rain sighs and says to herself, "Forget it, I'll just buy this one and get out of here."
Without trying it on, Rain leaves the dressing room and begins to walk to the cashier to purchase it.
Zurvick is staring down on a little girl who is holding a flask out, gesturing that she wants to give it to him.
He raises his eyebrow when he asks, "May I ask what you are doing?"
The little girl smiles and answers, "I'm paying you back for what you have lost."
"That came out wrong, what I was trying to ask is, why do you have a flask full of alcohol in your possession!?"
She glares at him and asks, "Doesn't everybody have one of these things nowadays?"
"Not at your age they don't!!! What's your name?"
She smiles and does a curtsy while replying, "Ebihara Seiri."
"Okay then miss Ebihara, where might your parents be?"
The smile leaves her face and she starts to tear up and sniffle her nose in an adorable way. It is obvious that this is a bad attempt at acting when she says, "M-My parents died when I was little, me and Haas here escaped from the orphanage that mistreated us."
Zurvick's face dropped, he completely fell for it.
Seiri sobs and continues, "The only thing my dad ever taught me when he was alive was to always repay someone if you have wronged them. The only thing I have to offer is this flask, if you don't take it, I'd be letting my dead father down."
Zurvick writhes in horror at what he feels to be the ultimate form of disrespect on his part by not accepting her payment.
He also starts to tear up when he grabs her little shoulders and shouts, "I'm sorry! I had no idea how tragic you and your friend's life is! Please allow me to take your flask!!!"
Zurvick takes it and once again apologizes, he leaves the two and heads to his original destination, the cashier's desk to talk to the old lady he knew from his childhood.
Seiri watches him walk away with a big smile on her face, after waving him goodbye she turns to Haas and that smile turns arrogant.
With a puff of her chest, she says, "So what did you think of my superior acting skills? The Ebihara family have a long lineage of famous actors and actresses throughout time, naturally, I inherited those talents."
Haas, who was trained to not speak nor show emotion, is actually quite annoyed at how this situation had turned out. The whole point of their presence in this town is to be as discreet as possible until the battle starts; of course he feels like he had made a mistake possible of jeopardizing the mission by bumping into the man and causing a scene in the first place. But Seiri butting in and pulling off the whole acting thing for no reason whatsoever is far worse.
So his answer to her question is as simple as can be.
Zurvick arrives at the cashier's desk and sees the familiar old lady working the counter. "Granny!"
The white haired old lady stares up at him and tilts her head, with a confused glare she coldly asks, "Who the hell are you?"
Zurvick jolts in shock.
The two stare at each other for a few seconds but the silence is broken by the old lady's laugh. "Hahaha, I'm just kidding. How can I forget that face of yours? But you’re no longer the little twerp I remember."
He sighs in relief and says, "That's right, I'm much bigger now."
"Yeah much bigger, you're the damn King now. How about that? Who would've thought that you, my little servant would become such a man." "Uhh, is that a compliment?"
"Haven’t I ever given you a compliment before? I'm happy for you."
Zurvick smiles wholeheartedly and says, "Thanks Granny!"
The old lady lifts her index finger and smiles menacingly, "I don't mean to break up the nostalgic mood, but I have a favor to ask."
"Ugh, a favor?"
"That's right, why don't you make yourself useful and help me move some boxes to the upper cabinet."
"Come on, do it for old time's sake. Besides, I'm not as young as I used to be, those boxes are too heavy for my aging bones."
Zurvick can't help but oblige; this is the kind of guy he is, he won't ever turn his back on people in need matter how much power he acquires.
He walks behind the counter and the old lady shows him what boxes to grab, he does so and lifts himself up the three stepped stool to put them in the cabinet that rests above the counter.
As soon as he does this, the old lady's voice is heard, but she is not addressing Zurvick.
"I hope you found everything okay."
The person on the customer end of the counter is Dice Di'vore, he is holding a gray suit with red lining, numerous buttons run down the middle but the suit gives off the impression that it would look better if it was worn as is. He also has a silk red scarf as an accessory.
"I think I did." Dice replied with a polite smile.
The old lady looks at the price tag and tells him what he needs to pay before saying, "You made a smart choice on this suit."
Dice pays her the money and says his thanks, he feels a tap on his shoulder and turns to find Rain standing there with a dress in her hand.
"Oh, so this is what you decided to get?" he asks.
Rain walks past him and to the counter, "I guess you can say that..."
She pays the old lady and watches her put it into a large paper bag. Just to the side of the working old lady is a man on a stool working on something up in the top cabinet whose face cannot be seen because the cabinet is blocking their view. He lets off a groan and a few items fall to the floor.
"Ohh sorry about that! It's just that this box is a little heavy." Zurvick said with strain in his voice.
The old lady's gentle smile turns into a bitter one. "Get your act together."
Dice looks a little worried when he asks, "Does he need any help?"
The old lady turns to him and waves her hand from side to side. "No no he's fine, it would be an insult to have a precious customer help a useless employee."
The struggling Zurvick becomes frustrated at her words, "It would only be an insult if I was actually an employee!"
"Shut up, little twerp!!"
The old lady punches his leg and he almost falls off the stool.
Rain sighs and her agitation level continues to rise, to her, this whole shop has been bugging her since the moment she walked through the door. Her experience here was definitely a bad one.
She starts walking toward the exit and says, "Let's go."
Dice doesn't know what to do, he really wants to help the poor guy, but when Rain tells him to do something, he can't say no. He politely waves to the old lady and gives Zurvick's legs a pitiful look, he follows Rain out of the door and into the town.
Zurvick gets done with putting the boxes in the cabinet and comes off the stool, he glares at the old lady with a bitter look on his face. The old lady shrugs her shoulders and says, "Don't give me that look, if anything, I should be the one who's angry. Your lack of work ethic embarrassed me in front of the customers."
"Huh? How does that work!?"
Before the old lady can answer, a flustered Ash walks up to the counter.
"I-I'd like to purchase this please."
The old lady's eyes light up and she says, "You made a smart choice on this dress."
Zurvick scopes out Ash's dress and smiles. "This is really nice! Oh wait, I still gotta get my suit!"
Not giving Ash anytime to soak the compliment in, he rushes off back into the aisles to finish his shopping.
"That boy... he hasn't changed at all since he was a little child." the old lady said with a proud smile.
Ash hands her the money. "I can only imagine what that idiot was like as a kid, it's amazing that anyone could handle him."
"Hehe that was my job. Back then he always used to sneak out of the Archbishop's estate to find an odd job to do."
Ash tilts her head and asks, "Job?"
"That's right, being born into a noble family he never had to worry about a hard day's work. But he would go to every shop in the city and ask for any kind of work they could offer, and one of them was this shop."
Ash turns and stares at him rushing to find the right outfit. "Wow... he really is that kind of guy huh? That behavior of his would explain why he joined the lowest ranks of the military. I guess he just likes work."
The old lady folds the dress and puts it into a large bag. "That's not it. He acts this way because he wants to be close to people, no matter what rank or social status they have, everyone is the same to him. I once asked him why he wanted to work when he didn't have to, and he simply replied, 'Because that's what people do.' He is some kind of man."
The old lady's expression turns from serious and honest to comical, she puts her hand on her face and blushes.
"If only I was younger, the things I'd do to him would be----"
"Waaaaaa! How does the conversation mold into that!? You shouldn't mess up the mood and talk about perverted things!" Ash interrupts as her imagination starts racing.
The old lady chuckles, "Oh why not? I miss the good old days where my friends and I used to dote over such things."
Ash takes a deep breath and puffs her chest out. "W-Well I can't, as his Captain there's no way I can speak of such things."
The old lady wryly smiles, "Even though you won't talk about it, you certainly are thinking about it right?"
"They say a young girl's feelings are always noticeable to the eyes of a seasoned woman."
Ash gets extremely flustered and shifts her eyes to the ground, the old lady finds her actions to be adorable and it reminds her of how she used to be years in the past. Not trying to poke fun at her or anything, the old lady begins to sympathize with Ash's situation.
"It's a shame... You really are a part of a fairy tale like story of the average girl and a man of royalty. You know, the stories about the forbidden love of two classes of people. Unfortunately it's just too little too late, that boy, once his mind is set, he never wavers. His heart belongs to the Queen and that is that."
Hearing the old lady's more than true words make her heart waver for a moment, she reveals a troubled smile and says, "I know... but the chances of me even being around him are once in a lifetime, so I won't give up quite yet."
Ash turns away and walks toward Zurvick, who is taking his sweet time and making her impatient.
"Hey you idiot! Hurry the hell up, how can I be done with my shopping before you!?"
Having not been yelled at and ordered around by Ash in quite some time, he turns and salutes.
"My apologies Captain!"
This makes Ash even more angry when she shouts, "I told you not to call me that!"
The old lady smiles and watches the scene from the cashier's booth, thinking about their situation, she quietly says to herself, "That girl... she doesn't even think of the consequences of her actions. If she were to actually win the King over, I could only imagine what the Queen would do. It'd most certainly be bad for Troy."
The old lady turns and begins sorting out the rest of the boxes that sit against the wall, she chuckles and finishes, "Hehehe, she's just like me when I was younger."
Little does the old lady, Ash, and Zurvick know, a powder keg of disaster had just narrowly been avoided.
Two people who wanted them dead at all costs were mere inches away from them.
This also applies to Rain and Dice as well, three members of the most dangerous group in all the world were shopping in the same store; if any kind of information on who they are was leaked, the high chances that they would be killed is through the roof. La'Juune, Eiyalazo, and Troy.
Three different Kingdoms that have been at an on and off war since their founding, had all been represented in this one little shop called 'ROYAL WEAR'.
The sun has almost set and the orange glare of the horizon makes the city of Tronoble look almost surreal. This view is seen perfectly from the large window on the top floor suite of a luxurious hotel. Noah is staring out this window and at the large snow capped mountains that are shining elegantly in the sunlight out in the distance.
He adjusts his tie and puts on a white overcoat when he says, "Are all the preparations complete, Jeffrey?"
Jeffrey is sitting on a dining chair by the dining table in the corner of the room. "Yeah, I've gotten word from everyone that their positions are set. Though a few of our objectives were changed around because of the presence of the King of Troy, it would seem like we have hit a great bit of unusual luck."
Noah turns around and says, "Good... luck always favors the victors, but we can't let this opportunity change our outlook on how difficult the mission is. This is going to be a rough night."
Jeffrey chuckles a little bit and straightens up his black suit. "I’m sure it will be, but at least we're going to look damn good doing it."
Noah straightens up his white overcoat as well and replies, "Well that is a bright side... Seiri, Haas, and Elise did a good job at picking out some good outfits for the Ball tonight."
"Who would've thought that those three oddballs could pull off something that doesn't involve fighting. Though Elise likes to think of herself as somewhat of a clothing connoisseur, I doubt she’s ever given any thought to what a man would want to wear."
Noah slightly laughs at how things have worked out in this way, he walks for the door and says, "Everyone is in everyone after all."
Jeffrey follows and responds, "That is certainly true, if that wasn't the case there'd be no way the ten of us could work together so effectively."
Noah opens the door and enters the hallway. "That truth will give us an outstanding victory tonight. They will do their jobs around the city, and we will do our jobs in the Ballroom."
The Ballroom is located in a massive castle that literally sits in the middle of Tronoble, this castle was once the house of a King and Queen that ruled over what used to be a city-state. In Troy's past, the southern half of the country was separated into many city-states; each one of these had their own rulers. Though most of them were considered warlords, the largest ones were so powerful that they were more like a country, so naturally they had their own Kings and Queens.
These city-states were soon taken over and disassembled by the north when the push to unify the country began. Some of the castles owned by the old rulers of the land still remain and this one in particular is over seven hundred years old.
This Ballroom is four sided and 100 meters wide and 50 meters across, smooth marble floors lay below the feet and more than a dozen crystal chandeliers rest above the head. Many tables covered in fine linen have many different kinds of food on them, and they are constantly being restocked by caterers and waiters.
There is a platform on the north end of the room that has an orchestra playing smooth classical music, giving the atmosphere of the place an even more classy feel.
As of now there are a few dozen guests of the Ball socializing around the tables and on the dance floor, the Ball doesn't start until eight o'clock so there is still a few minutes until the people in line outside of the front gate of the manor will be allowed in.
Sitting on the main table of the room is Zurvick and Ash, she feels dreadfully uncomfortable in her frilly dress that is covered in ribbons and shows a lot of skin from her chest up.
Zurvick, dressed sharply in a dark blue suit looks at her and says, "Don't be so on edge, it's not as bad as you think."
"Maybe not for you, but for me this is beyond awful. I hate dresses and I hate these kinds of parties."
He nudges her shoulder and jokingly says, "Quite the socially awkward girl you are. You'll never get a boyfriend like that you know?"
Ash frowns and stomps on his foot under the table. "Of course I'd be like that when I'm sitting next to the center of attention! And what makes you think that I want a useless boyfriend!?"
Zurvick cringes at the pain in his foot, he is about to say something back when the sound of horns are heard signifying the beginning of the Ball and people begin to head in.
"Just be yourself Ash, you'll be okay." he says as he stands up, he holds his arm out and asks, "Shall we?"
Ash takes a deep breath and exhales out of her nose, she grabs his arm and replies, "Fine."
Rain and Dice are in the queue at the gate, about a dozen people stand between them and four Trojan soldier/security guards checking the tickets at the entrance to the castle grounds. The two show no signs of nervousness, instead the aura of confidence is felt as they walk toward the guards with their heads held high.
They reach the guards and hand them the tickets, the guards look at them suspiciously because there have already been a few people caught for fraudulent tickets, but they are hesitant to say anything when Rain and Dice don't even bother to greet them.
This coldness comes off as though they are so confident in their class that they feel that there is no need to speak to the lowly guards. The people who were caught earlier were unusually kind to them, and it helped blow their cover.
Weary of looking foolish and being punished, the security guards let them through and the two royals from Eiyalazo entered onto the grounds where the King of Troy is present.
"That was easy enough." Dice says.
Rain puts her hand onto his arm to make them look like a couple and replies, "I was expecting it to be."
After entering the building, the two walk up a columned stairway that leads to the two large double doors to the halls of the castle, the doormen open it and lead them in.
The first thing they see are a few workers of the manor standing at a table that is covered in masks.
One of the women workers bows and says, "For the guests only. The first couple hours of the Ball is set as a masquerade theme, please choose a mask from our selection that is to your liking."
Rain and Dice look at each other and then to the masks. Dice picks a white mask that only covers his eyes and Rain picks a sparking onyx mask that covers her entire face. The workers say their thanks and the two walk down the hallway that leads to the Ballroom.
Dice chuckles a little and says, "A masquerade party... hh how the stars have aligned for us, this couldn't have worked out any better."
Rain agrees, "I guess you can call it some kind of divine intervention, having masks on will make things much easier to escape after we kill the King." She adjusts the mask a little to the left to fit her face and adds, "And it's not just that, this will make it even easier to spot the King since he's the star of the Ball and not wearing a mask, it's quite convenient that only the guests have to wear them. The star of the show is the King, so it's only natural that he'd be the only one that needs to be seen."
Dice smiles at her words and the two walk into the Ballroom, close to 150 people are already here and more will show up in a short time.
"The time for your revenge is coming up very shortly."
Her lips rise slightly at the thought of her revenge.
"I can't wait."
Ebihara Seiri is standing on the rooftop of the Ballroom; next to her is Haas, the two are dressed in black and are hidden behind merlons, keeping them out of sight from anyone down below.
"I just want my light show to start already." said Seiri impatiently while tapping her heel on the roof.
Haas looks at his wristwatch and says, "... One hour..."
Seiri pouts and sits, she looks into a duffle bag that is full of flasks, she takes one out and begins to toss it up and down. "An hour to go before these babies can go boom.”
Haas looks at his watch once more, he has a duffle bag himself and pulls out a large roll of string.
He turns to her and says, "... Time... To begin... Set up..."
Seiri jumps up and smiles, "Hooray! This is going to be so much fun!"
Haas takes the string and starts walking along the edge of the roof, leaving a trail of string behind.
Seiri merrily skips along the edge of the five story building and cheerfully says, "Alright!"
Ash is walking alone in the middle of the ballroom filled with hundreds of people all dressed up and socializing; the red mask she’s wearing is hiding her current frustration.
(Damn that idiot, as soon as he takes a few drinks out of the flask that some random girl gave him, he runs off and leaves me alone! Now I can't find the bastard!)
The ball has been going on for well over thirty minutes and she hasn't been with Zurvick for the majority of it. Rubbing shoulders with people and dodging bodies becomes more of a hassle with each passing person, she gets extremely frustrated and starts to power through people, and that's when runs into something very sturdy.
"Ooowahh!?" Ash yelps as she falls backwards, before she falls the feeling of hands on her shoulders lifting her back upright. She looks up and sees the man she had just carelessly ran into making sure she has returned stably to her feet.
He is tall, wearing a gray suit with a lot of buttons, a silk red scarf covers his neck and a white mask is worn over his eyes.
"Are you okay mam?" he asks.
Ash looks troubled when she says, "I-I apologize."
The man smiles and happily replies, "It's not a problem, it never hurts to bump into a pretty lady."
The way he smoothly said that reminds her that she’s surrounded by the type of people who can say such flattery with easy familiarity.
"Thank you... but I really gotta get going, I was separated from the person I was with so I need to find him."
The man in the white mask shrugs his shoulders, "So you were separated too huh? The person I was with disappeared as well, though I can't say I expected her to hang around me all night anyways."
He lets go of her shoulders and is about to send her off when the sound of the orchestra's music can be heard. They are playing a slow waltz that is perfect for dance.
He looks around and sees people beginning to join their partners in a dance, not wanting to have to walk in between numerous dancing couples, he turns to Ash and holds out his hand.
"Would you care to dance ma'am?"
Ash is pretty much feeling the same way, the awkwardness of walking through those couples would make her night even worse.
She nervously takes his hand and responds, "Sure."
Rain had spotted Zurvick, desperately trying to get near to him; she ended up losing sight of Dice and the two got separated in the dense crowd of partygoers. And now that there are dancing couples surrounding her, there is no way that she can get to the King. If she walked through them all and damaged him in any way, she would easily be spotted and quickly caught.
She clicks her tongue in frustration, her vision begins to become blurry at the thought that her father's murderer is only a few feet away from her and she can't do anything about it. She takes a seat by one of the tables and never lets her glare leave what looks to be an intoxicated King Zurvick.
Zoning out at the crowd and emanating a dark aura, she senses a presence to her left, she ignores it at first until the presence speaks.
"May I ask what you are looking at? This is a Ball, usually people aren’t so serious and uptight, I can sense it from behind your mask you know?"
Rain turns toward the source of the young man's voice and finds the person standing there in a white overcoat, a light golden brown vest is worn under it, and under that a white collared shirt accompanied by a black tie.
He has orange hair and a gold mask covers his black eyes.
Rain is disinterested in making conversation with this young man so she replies in a combative tone. "Just because I'm at a Ball doesn't mean that I have to be merry."
"Oh? How cold you are. I like that in a woman." the young man says as he holds his arm out. "Care for a dance?"
Rain keeps her glare on Zurvick when she replies, "No thanks."
The young man chuckles, "You want to get close to the King right? If we dance, we can maneuver our way closer to him."
Rain thinks about this for a second, if they dance and move in on him, once the music stops she'd be able to integrate with the crown that surrounds him.
With this thought in mind, she capitulates to his offer.
"Very well then."
She stands and grabs onto his hand, the two move to the center of the dance floor and begin dancing.
Holding Rain's hand and waist, and already moving to the music, he finally asks, "May I ask what your name is?"
Rain frowns behind her mask and says, "Isn't it supposed to be the job of the man to introduce himself before the woman?"
"Oh right, I guess I got carried away. My name is Noah."
"Only a half introduction?"
"Is the last name necessary in this situation?"
Rain blows air out of her nose and faintly smiles, "My name is Rain."
"It's a pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Rain."
The two begin dancing their way towards the crowd in which Zurvick is entertaining, inching closer and closer, the two actually dance quite well together considering their goal isn't to be so in sync.
"Thank you for accompanying me for this dance, it wouldn't have been any fun being a wall rat while everyone else is enjoying themselves."
"It's fine, this benefits me more than it does you anyway."
Noah looks around at their surroundings, he raises his eyebrow and asks, "Why is it that you want to get close to the King?"
"That's none of your concern."
"Hmmm, that's true but... would you mind if I guess why? You see, I like to think of myself as a master at guessing things, I bet I could even guess your full name."
Rain looks at him with a raised eyebrow, him wanting to guess at her intentions sent flags rising in the back of her mind.
"Knock yourself out."
Noah smiles confidently and says, "Let's see. Looking at your appearance... blue eyes, long black hair, I'd say that your last name isn't very common. And the reason why you would want to get close to the King depends on your last name as well."
Rain begins to become extremely suspicious, and those suspicions become something much more when her hand is gripped very tightly and she is pulled closer to him.
Noah again smiles and says, "Assassination is your motive... Von Ronheim is your name."
Rain's heart drops and her eyes grow large in shock.
"Who are you?"
“I am someone who knows a lot about you, Rain... would you care to join me on the balcony?"
It's obvious that Rain doesn't have a choice in the matter, with her body held so tightly, she is at the mercy of this mysterious young man. She frowns and is quietly led past the crowd surrounding the drunken King and towards the stairs that lead to the balcony.
Ash is dancing with the man wearing a white mask, though you can't really call this dancing because she is horrible at it. This is more like a student and teacher moment because the man in the mask is teaching her step by step.
Ash is flustered at how things have turned out and she says, "This is way more embarrassing than disturbing the dancing couples."
The man laughs, "Hahaha no you're doing great, just keep following my lead."
She follows his foot movements and more than once she steps on his toes, but since she is so light it doesn't hurt him at all.
He smiles and says, "Oh yeah I forgot to introduce myself. My name's Dice---"
He stops the finish of his last name so as to not blow his cover, he turns his head away from her and hopes she didn't notice it.
While his head is turned, he notices something strange, he sees Rain walking up the large staircase hand and hand with a man he has never seen before. His stomach turns cold as many different thoughts go into his head as to why she is doing this and where she is going.
He turns to Ash and is about to say his apologies because he wants to chase after them, that is, until she introduces herself as well.
"My name is Ash Alworth. It's nice to meet you, Dice."
Dice's eyes grow wide, that name hits him like a bolt of lightning.
He takes his hand off her waist and puts it to her ear and asks, "May I see your face?"
Ash blushes, (I hope this guy isn't getting the wrong idea about me.)
She nervously shakes that thought out of her mind.
Dice unties her mask with his hand and sees her face. Her description fits perfectly, this is the girl who along with the King of Troy, assassinated Rain's father Ditreig Von Ronheim. This is the girl who is one of the two obstacles standing in the way of his love for Rain to be fulfilled.
Confused on whether or not he chases after Rain or acts upon this chance opportunity with Ash, he grits his teeth and comes to a decision. There is only one thing for Dice to do, he frowns and instantly twists her arm, he grabs her tightly and pulls her in.
Ash is completely caught off guard and doesn't know what in the world has just happened, all she knows is that she is pinned to him and cannot move.
Her questions are answered when Dice leans down and whispers into her ear, "If you make a sound... I'll kill you."
Ash is in shock, and it finally dawns on her that she is in imminent danger when she feels the sharp edge of a dagger pressed against her back.
On the top of the building that holds the Ballroom, Seiri and Haas are standing there looking at their wristwatches.
"...Preparations... Done..." Haas said in a robotic tone.
Seiri is tapping her toes on the ground impatiently, it is 8:59 and the final minute seems to be taking extra long.
"Come on come on, change already!"
The clock hits nine and Seiri jumps up and down in excitement, she is normally a calm girl but the thought of what they are waiting for makes her unusually giddy. She leans over and pulls a box of matches out of her pocket, she pulls a match out and strikes it on the sandpaper. The flamed match is gently held to the rope that Haas had strategically stretched all around the building, the fire from the tip of the rope begins to spread and crackle, and like a stick of dynamite it sizzles down the length of the rope.
"Let's go, we only have five minutes to get out of here." Seiri says as she picks up her duffle bag and rushes to the edge of the building.
Haas grabs his bag as well.
He runs to the edge and jumps off the Ballroom building onto another smaller building of the manor.
Seiri follows and the two hopscotch across the roofs until they leave the castle grounds.
"So who are you?" asked Rain.
She is standing by the railing of the balcony and is cornered by this mysterious man in the mask.
Noah takes his mask off and shows her his face, she instantly knows who he is and expresses shock.
Noah knows she recognizes him, but introduces himself anyways. "Noah Courlivet... I suppose you don't know why I'm here and what exactly is going on. So I'll explain it to you, Rain Von Ronheim, the leading Battle Strategist for the Eiyalazonian military."
"Tch." Rain clicks her tongue and backs away from the approaching Noah, she clenches her fist and the pentagram on her right hand begins to glow.
Noah takes another step closer to her and says, "On second thought, why don't you take a look behind you. What you see will explain it for me."
Rain quizzically turns around and sees a sight completely unexpected, the night sky is glowing with the tint of orange. At least half of the city is engulfed in flames and citizens and soldiers are running all about in confusion and getting caught in the blaze.
Rain scopes the destruction and asks herself, "Have my men already commenced their attack?"
Noah grabs her right hand and puts his arm over her shoulder, he leans in towards her ear and says, "No, they are mine... your thirst for revenge has cost you the opportunity to sack Tronoble. So just sit back with me and watch La'Juune destroy this city along with your precious revenge."
"How did I end up getting paired with you as a guinea pig?" asked Lennox. He is walking right in the open of the city alongside Jessiah. "Oh yeah that's right, because you volunteered me without my consent!!!"
Jessiah smiles as the light from the fires they leave behind shine on his bald head. "Come on Lennox, we're not guinea pigs, we are diversions."
"That's the same thing dumbass!"
"Whaaatever, either way this is definitely the best job because all the action comes to us. Stop being such a pansy."
Lennox lets out a sigh of exasperation and stops talking.
The two walk in the middle of the street with weapons in hand, each building or house lights on fire the moment they pass. This isn't their doing though, flame tipped arrows land perfectly into windows, lighting the curtains on fire and sending the structures ablaze.
"Wow, Allia sure is a good shot ain't she?" said Jessiah as he looked at the destruction in awe.
Lennox scratches his head. "No shit, that's her job. If she wasn't the best she wouldn't be here."
"You sure are in some kind of a piss ant mood aren't ya? You seem a lot happier around everybody else."
"That's because you are by far the most annoying out of everyone."
Jessiah is about to reply to this insult when he sees a group of a few dozen soldiers running up the road toward them.
"Hey hey, no cavalry?"
Lennox pulls his sword out of its sheath and says, "Beggars can't be choosers."
Jessiah swings his long spear over his head and readies himself in a battle stance.
"I ain't begging, I just wanted a little bit more of a warm up to start off the night."
He fearlessly rushes at the group of soldiers.
Lennox holds a straight face as he follows closely behind.
The soldiers have no clue what to think about this situation, they look around in confusion trying to find more intruders, but instead of over thinking it they let their instincts take over and they run to attack the two.
However, the instincts and adrenaline that go along with hand to hand combat would never be felt by either side of the opposing forces. The reason for this is that the group of a few dozen Trojan soldiers are brought to an abrupt halt when a bundle of flaming arrows hits the front line of the men square in the chest. The front men drop and the back men fall over them, the ones that fell struggle to get off of their dead and flaming comrades without lighting themselves on fire.
Lennox and Jessiah stop their attack and have disappointed looks on their faces, it’s like they are children who just had a piece of candy snatched away from them.
The two look at each other and Jessiah says, "We can't let her have all the fun."
Lennox smiles as if he hates to agree with him and the two rush towards the remaining men.
But once again they are stopped, this time it's by something that makes the two have no choice but to jump backwards in fear for their life. The remaining men burst into a swirling inferno.
Running along the rooftops is Allia, she had just thrown a makeshift molotov cocktail into the center of the group of soldiers who had flaming arrows sticking to their chests.
The result of this is the painful death of every last one of them.
Allia smiles and waves at the two as she jumps from one rooftop to another and disappears out of sight.
The two men stare in amazement toward the direction where she ran off to, the only thing of her that can be seen is her flaming arrows flying through the night sky and the sound of the screams after they land.
"Ahh fuck that! She snaked us!!" shouts Jessiah.
Lennox scopes the area and wonders which way is the best way for a strategic attack, that's when he remembers that from the beginning, the two of them are the only members of the Ten Knights that are purposefully left out in the open.
They are not hidden in order to lure the brunt of the Trojan army occupying the town while the other 8 pick them off in stealth like attacks. It would seem that it has worked because of Allia setting all of those fires and leading soldiers to their position, it's only a matter of time before a full fledged defense force is sent to counter the intruders.
"Alright, now it's time for the marathon to start." said Lennox as he keeps his hearing set on the approaching footsteps of countless soldiers. Jessiah smiles wholeheartedly as his adrenaline rises more and more with each passing second. "On the count of three?"
Lennox runs his fingers through his hair and pulls a mirror out of his pocket, he makes some faces like he is some kind of model and then says, "I'm too damn good looking for this kind of grunt work."
Jessiah twitches his eyebrow. "Hey, we kind of have a tense moment here, why the hell do you always do that before a battle? Is it some kind of superstition?"
Lennox smiles and says in a cocky tone, "Superstition? Na, I just need to keep the look of my pretty face stuck in my mind so I make sure it doesn't get scratched. I guess you can call it extra motivation."
Jessiah smacks him rather hard on his back and laughs, "That's a little gay but whaaaaaatever. Do the damn countdown already."
Lennox frowns and shouts, "Finding motivation in my beauty does not have to be gay at all!!"
Jessiah laughs aloud causing Lennox to start his countdown in frustration.
"3! 2! 1! GO!!"
The two split up and run in opposite directions down two different alleyways, as soon as they do this, hundreds of soldiers run down the street to confront them.
All of the soldiers stand battle ready as they scour the surrounding area in silence, the sound of the fire cracking a wooden post breaks their focus and they all shift their attention toward the source of the noise.
When they see that it was nothing, they turn back to their original post.
But something is odd, it feels like they are missing something.
The left, and the back flank each have four or five downed and dead men.
How this happened is certainly a mystery.
They all ask themselves the question of how and try to come up with an answer, in the time it takes them to think of what could have happened, a few more of them are dead.
This time the men died on the front and the right flank.
By now, the soldiers realize that they are dealing with a formidable foe; little do they know, they are dealing with the best that La'Juune has to offer.
Celestia Letrova is inside a house directly in the center of Tronoble, this area is surrounded by homes, condominiums, restaurants, shops, and even an outdoor theater. All of these living areas are cast over a town circle that has a fountain with a bronze statue of a large horse standing in the middle of a man-made lake.
Close to a thousand soldiers are packed in the town center and are being debriefed from a few higher ups as to what is happening. Celestia carelessly pokes her head out through the window as she wears a smile and listens in.
One of the soldiers is standing on the platform to the outdoor theater, he has decorations all over him so it is obvious that he is a man of rank. He holds his arms out as he addresses the men, "As you all know, enemies have intruded Tronoble. Though we don't know how many intruders there are, it is safe to assume that the country of Eiyalazo has commenced this attack to assassinate the King. What we all need to do is start our search from here, and work our way to the outskirts of town, there are seven more battalions of our size occupying the city so they will be searching as well. Our job is to protect the King at all costs, the manor in which the Ball is being held is completely surrounded by our soldiers so all that is left for us to do is find, capture, and kill our enemies."
The address is cut short by the sound of a giggling girl heard from above, all of the soldiers look up and see a cheery looking pink haired girl standing atop a rooftop a few houses away with a smile on her face.
Now standing on the roof and looking down on the soldiers, she declares, "Fufufu, you're all so cute when you're confused like that. You all really have no clue what exactly is going on, but luckily for you I'm here to give you the answers!"
The mass of soldiers all glare at her in a serious confusion, they don't know whether to take her as an intruder or just a girl. That is, until she speaks to the man in charge standing on the platform.
"Eiyalazo isn’t behind this attack... take a look behind you."
The decorated man turns his head to the wall behind him and that is the last thing he would ever see.
The man's head is decapitated at his shoulders by what looks like a golden rounded shield and it slams into the wooden wall and sticks.
The edges of this shield are razor sharp and over six inches long, its shape faintly bulges up towards its center and a small hole with an extremely thin wire flows out of it.
The men all jump in shock, the shield then slides out of the crater it was in and falls to the floor next to the man's body. A few soldiers quickly rush to the scene and find an emblem embedded on its center, it is the simply designed crest of La'Juune.
One of the men has a cold sweat run down his temple when he says, "No way."
Celestia laughs, "Nyaahaha that's right! Your enemy tonight is La’Juune!”
Celestia jumps off the roof top and lands in the middle of a road that's just outside of the town circle. With a flick of her hand, the shield jumps from the platform and slings itself all the way back to her position.
She can do this because of the silver-mail glove she is wearing that connects to the wire of the shield. With a simple flick of a finger she can control the distance, direction, and angle in which the shield travels.
Despite her air-headed attitude and demeanor, Celestia is actually a full blown genius, she invented and made this weapon herself and has been making many other weapons for the La'Juutian military since she was the young age of ten.
"Let's see if all of you muscular men can put up a fight against a small girl."
The soldiers become infuriated and a group of about twenty rush at her, Celesia smiles and doesn't even attempt to move.
The sprinting men show no sign of wavering until they are suddenly halted in place. Every last one of the twenty men are cut and bleeding before they could even comprehend what had happened, and the rest of the soldiers look at the gruesome scene in shock. Some men lie injured on the ground, stacked on each other, some had their necks cut and are bleeding out, others have died instantly and are stuck to the wire.
Celestia cheerfully laughs and twirls her bladed shield over her head when she says, "This is one of my very own inventions, this transparent wire is razor sharp.”
She points at the area where this string is tied, the entire length of the gap between the houses and buildings are bound with this invisible wire. Celestia stretches her arms and back as she finishes, "Every last alleyway is covered, don't even try to cut it, it's pretty damn close to unbreakable. And I wouldn't recommend trying to ease your way in between the gaps either, one wrong move and you'll get stuck and be cut to bits, as you can tell, it can inflict a lot of damage."
After stretching, she swings her shield and throws it atop a building, the wire retracts itself and it shoots her up like a bungee cord.
"All of you are trapped in my web and none of you will escape! Nyaahahaha I hope you guys are ready!"
Celestia starts sprinting across the rooftops, the majority of the gaps in between the houses aren't too big, but the bigger street side ones are more than thirty feet across. She easily jumps that distance with length to spare. A bold attempt considering she just got done saying that there are razor sharp invisible cable wires below her just waiting to chop her into pieces.
She flings her shield downwards and attacks a group of fifteen or so men that are separated from the rest. They are picked off like they were made of cardboard, limbs fly all over and the area and just like that, a small chunk of the battalion has been defeated.
She continues her run and continues her assault, taking out large numbers of men as they scurry around in a panic, some try to run into a house to get to the rooftops but find that they are completely useless once there. They cannot jump half as far as she can and are killed instantly from one of her long distance attacks. Some try to cut the wire that holds the shield but their steel swords are sliced in half as if they were sticks of butter.
Many other desperate attempts are being conjured up and attempted but none of them seem to work, the water of the pond in the middle of the town center turns red with blood as many more men are systematically being eliminated.
All of this carnage carries itself out while one cheery pink haired girl dances atop rooftops.
"Let go of me." Rain viciously says, the hate in her blue eyes not lost on her captor.
Noah squeezes her even tighter and says, "Keep watching Rain, this is a once in a lifetime experience for someone like you."
"Tch, I don't know what makes you think you know me well enough to address me so casually."
"The best spy I have has been in Eiyalazo, he is very close to you, and he has given me a very detailed profile on your personality."
Rain's eyes grow large in shock.
Noah ignores her surprise and continues, "I have grown very interested in you Rain, so much so that one of the reasons I chose to invade this town was specifically in spite of you."
Rain grits her teeth, "And what is it that makes a lowly member of nobility such as myself so interesting to someone like you?”
Noah smiles and presses her body up against the balcony railing as he looks out at the destruction of Tronoble. "Quite a few things actually... one of them is what goes on in that head of yours, the way you think as a Battle Strategist intrigues me to a certain extent."
"I see, so you are hoping that I'd give up some strategic information if you torture me... I doubt an idea like that will work, I'll bite my own tongue off before I ever offer you a single word."
Noah faintly laughs until his face turns solemn and his demeanor turns cold, he squeezes her hand extremely hard and says, "What I really want to learn about is this disgusting hand of yours."
Rain is once again in shock.
(It can't be...) she thinks to herself.
Then she thinks back at how she hasn't been able to use the powers bestowed on her by the tattoo of the pentagram on her hand, it was only a few days ago that with its help, she easily killed off nine men.
"What are you talking about?" she warily asks.
Noah leans into her ear so close that she can feel the warmth of his breath when he replies, "You are being used... and there is a reason why this is so. The one pulling the strings definitely needs you to fulfill something, and it is that pitiful thought of revenge flowing through your head that makes you so much easier for him to control."
Noah turns her around and holds her right hand with his left and her neck with his right, it would seem that he is confident in his strength to kill Rain if needed so he lets her left hand hang free.
Sensing this, Rain doesn't try to fight back, without the use of her right hand she is just a regular girl.
Looking into his cold eyes makes her very angry, it's as though he is looking down on her.
She halfheartedly smiles and says, "My pitiful revenge huh? Prince Noah, weren't you the one who declared war on my country and Troy as vengeance for the death of your father and disappearance of your two brothers? I refused to be pitied by a hypocrite who has sacrificed so many lives for the same reason."
Noah holds a straight face until his lips faintly rise. "You're wrong about that."
"Something as boring as revenge, as a child I modeled myself after a person who held nothing towards his enemies and felt close to the same for his friends and family. If one can do that, revenge would be the last thing on their mind in a situation like this."
"Then what the hell did you declare war for!?"
"That is simple, whoever killed my father and abducted Napoleon and my two brothers committed an act of war."
Rain stares at him in silence, she can't understand how his mind is so set on military and political actions that revenge doesn't even matter when his father is murdered.
All she can do is mutter in sarcastic disbelief, "Is that so..?"
Noah looks down at the ground behind Rain and then his eyes shift back at her. "But... there is something that has been bothering me. How is it that the intruders murdered a heavily guarded King, kidnapped eleven people, demolished a large castle room, escaped the city and then the country without anyone noticing their presence?"
Rain, knowing that it wasn't Eiyalazo that committed the crime, had come to the conclusion that La’Juune had likely staged the whole event. If what he’s implying is true, she has no idea how these things could have happened.
"There is something not right about this whole war... and I'm closing in on its source, starting with you."
"I still don't get what you are talking about."
"Are you familiar with the religion of the bible, Rain?"
"Huh? I can't say that I am, I don't see how that has anything to do with---"
"That wretched tattoo on your hand is a religious symbol, and according to my numerous spies in both Troy and Eiyalazo, you aren't the only one who has it. General Sturgess of Troy has one, and Prince Dice as well. This is becoming more and more intriguing as the numbers of higher up players in this war begin to have their souls swallowed by their Deadly Sins."
Rain glares at him in confusion, "...Dice has the tattoo?”
Hitting her like a cold gust of wind, she remembers that Dice said he had burnt his hand, and since she noticed that he has been hiding it from her by wearing gloves. She paid it no mind at the time, but she still noticed that it was there. She was already suspicious of the way his personality suddenly turned against Jalet, and how much conviction he spoke about his feelings for her afterwards. It's only now that she can see it clearly. Dice has the pentagram on the back of his hand.
Noah can feel her surprise, her hand tensed up the moment she put two and two together.
He slightly smiles before his cold glare returns and says, "You are controlled by Wrath. Prince Dice is swallowed by Lust... and General Sturgess is consumed by Greed. Only one person is capable of controlling all of these sins and is able to tempt people into letting themselves become devoured by them. People like you who can hold influence on the world are needed to fulfill this puppet master's plan, and I truly believe that you three have met one of the real culprits behind the disappearances."
Rain tries to piece together what he is saying, it takes her a few moments but it is slowly starting to hit her as her eyes grow larger. In an instant, her perspective has gotten much wider and her mind begins to move closer to his direction; she can't discredit his theory because she knows that the impossible and far-fetched has already begun to happen, starting with the snake and her hand.
Noah looks like he is about to speak again when he is interrupted by a voice from above saying,
"I recommend that you take off now Noah, things are going to get really sketchy in a minute."
Jeffrey is standing on a rooftop and nonchalantly scratching his head as if the danger doesn't apply to him.
Noah doesn't turn around when he responds, "Alright then, you know what your job is."
Jeffrey cracks his neck and replies, "Yeah yeah, kill the King of Troy right? That shouldn't be too hard."
All the thoughts of the bigger picture that Noah has presented in Rain's head snap and turn to nothing but black.
Her face contorts and she shouts, "Don't you dare touch him! He is mine to kill!!"
Jeffrey smiles and waves at her, his figure disappears as he jumps off the roof and walks through the balcony door leading inside.
Rain pleads in anger, "WAIT! WAIT!!!"
Noah squeezes her neck so she can't speak and says, "I see that this hatred runs even deeper than what I've imagined. You'll be coming with me for some intense rehabilitation."
The white of Rain's eyes turn red, not only out of lack of oxygen but also out of pure anger, the thought of someone else slaying the King of Troy has gotten her blood running so hot that it could heat up an entire room if she were standing in it. Feeling helpless because the powers the snake had given her are mysteriously nonexistent, she is enraged that she cannot blow this pestering Prince to pieces.
Noah is amused at how much her psyche has deteriorated due to the pentagram. He lets go of her neck and picks up her mask that was hanging on the balcony, he puts it on her face and then pulls his own mask out of his pocket and does the same.
"You'd be wise to hang on to me."
Noah hops up atop the ledge of the three story balcony and jumps off, pulling Rain along with him.
"What's going on Dice?" Ash asks as quietly and as calmly as possible.
"Do you remember fighting an Eiyalazonian Captain by the name of Detreig Von Ronheim?"
"Huh? Why does-----ggrraahh!"
Dice interrupts her by pushing the knife so hard into her back that it breaks her skin.
"Just answer the question."
Ash winces and replies, "Y-Yes I do.."
"Which one of you killed him? Was it the King?"
"I-I don't understand what's going on? Who are you?"
Dice slowly starts walking her away from the rest of the dancing crowd when he says, "My name is Dice Di'Vore, I am the Prince of Eiyalazo."
"Quiet down." he says as he presses the knife further into her back.
Ash is really starting to feel like a slip of his hand would result in a fatal injury, she takes deep breaths and calmly asks, "Why is someone like you threatening me like this?"
Dice politely smiles at a few people passing by as their numbers become smaller and smaller the more the two walk deeper into the castle. His polite smile turns sour when he says, "If you just answer my question, you might be able to live through this... who was it who inflicted the fatal blow on Captain Detreig?"
Ash has no choice but to oblige to his question, this threat is very real and like any hostage would, the demands of the hostage taker come before anything.
"I-It was me... I was the one."
Dice viciously frowns and he explains, "I'm in love with that man's daughter... but she cares more about her revenge on the ones who killed him than she does about my feelings. So what do you think I have to do to get that devotion of hers turned towards me?"
A sickening feeling surfaces in Ash's chest, she knows the answer to his question and doesn't need him to clarify it before she realizes that she has to do something. Ash is trained in martial arts and is actually an extraordinary fighter, but due to the surprise of Dice's attack and the manner in which she is being held, there isn't much she can do without running the high risk that she'll be stabbed.
The only thing she can think of doing is something that will certainly not work, her only hope has been shut out and despair surfaces upon her face.
Dice notices this and smiles when he whispers in her ear, "I can tell by the look on your face that you know what is going to happen... hmph, I bet you never would have thought in the beginning of the day that this night would be your last."
Ebihara Seiri and Haas Avandale are sitting atop the roof of a building; no matter where one goes in Tronoble, the large castle that holds the Ballroom can be seen.
Seiri has a smile on her face as she stands atop a chimney. "Just a little bit longer."
She is anxious about what the scene that awaits them will look like; this girl is much like Aria, she gets very excited by explosions. The one difference between the two is age and the way they go about making their bombs.
Aria can turn any object she touches into a bomb, but she is clumsy when determining how big and what kind of an explosion that object will have when she uses her ability.
Seiri on the other hand uses bombs she makes from scratch with her own two hands, most of her explosives have a sole ingredient of alcohol, but being the genius she is she has mixed combustible chemicals together and created something that is far more flammable. Once it is deprived of oxygen it turns into something so explosive that it is even stronger than dynamite.
She carries this liquid in little flasks that she always has with her, some aren't very dangerous at all, and some can level dozens of city blocks if not treated with care. One of the semi harmless flasks was given to a certain man just a couple hours earlier. She calls these potent flasks of destruction 'Light shows.'
When someone asks her why, she brings up some kind of nonsense about how bombs and actors are similar to each other.
Haas looks at his watch and struggles to say, "...I... Need to go... Help... The others..."
Seiri flips her hair at him and says, "Fine fine, my mission is accomplished for the night, so I'm just gonna stay here and watch the light show."
Haas pulls two small swords out of his duffle bag and jumps off the roof, leaving the twelve year old Seiri by herself.
She pays no mind to his absence, instead her eyes grow large with the reflection of the castle as she repeats what she said earlier,
"Just a little bit longer..."
The knife that Dice holds is about to sink into her back and Ash knows it, she shuts her eyes and shouts the only thing that comes to mind, "ZURVICK!!!!!"
Dice lets go of her arm and covers her mouth with his palm, with his knife wielding hand he readies to make a huge thrust forward when
The roof atop the ball explodes and thousands of pounds of debris and flames fall on the patrons who are dancing on the Ballroom floor.
The frilly dresses worn by the women ignite and they all panic and run about, lighting tablecloths and curtains on fire as well. Literally within a couple seconds of the explosion, the entire Ballroom is ablaze.
"What the fuck was that!?" Dice yells angrily in shock.
He shakes off the ringing in his ears and switches his focus to the assassination of the girl in front of him.
"First thing's first."
As soon as his arm moves to stab her, his vision goes black and a loud thud can be heard. He senses that something has just hit him square in the eye and pain quickly follows. His body flies away from Ash and crashes into a pillar one the wall of the Ballroom.
Ash falls to her knees thinking that she has been fatally wounded and just hasn't felt it yet; from her knees she again falls to the ground but she is caught in the arms of a man before she lands.
As soon as she feels the security of the man's arms it hits her, she hasn't been stabbed and she will survive.
(But how?) she asks herself.
She shifts her eyes upwards to look at the person whose arms she rests in and sees a sight that fills her with joy.
The man is Zurvick.
The King of Troy has come to save his Captain when he hears her yell his name in horror. A switch went off in his head and his heart dropped when he heard her frantic voice, so much so that he instantly rushed to her and almost completely ignored the explosion that had just occurred. Once he saw what the shout had indicated, he unhesitatingly clenched his fist and struck the assailant to get him off of her.
On the King's face is a frown full of anger. He lifts Ash to her feet and steps in front of her, guarding her intensely.
Addressing Dice, who is holding his eye and glaring at him furiously, Zurvick says, "I don't know who you are and what you are intending to do... but anyone who dares to harm Ash in any way, is an enemy of mine."
Dice clicks his tongue and takes his hand off his already swollen eye, the bloody knife he holds in his right hand shines ominously with the light of the surrounding flames. He stands straight on his feet and his lips begin to rise.
He squeezes the hilt of his knife with all of his strength and an odd black smoke surfaces from the back of his hand and flows up his arm.
"There isn't a doubt that she'll fall for me now! All I need to do is kill the both of you and she's mine!!! Hahahah she'll be all mine!"
Dice's words hold a severe tinge of insanity and it seems that the mysterious black smoke feeds off his cockeyed expression when it wraps around his whole body.
His arm is so covered that it is not visible, Zurvick and Ash look at him in disbelief at what their eyes are seeing. The black smoke around his arm stretches to the ground, spreads wide and then dissipates in a small blast, what comes out is a three meter black sword he holds in his hand.
He takes a deep breath and reveals a blank face full of blood lust, it was as though he needed to calm himself to give form to the smoke before he can just wildly go about attacking.
After harnessing the power of the smoke, he smiles widely and declares, "You both die here, and I will finally be able to hold her in my arms!"
He readies to rush forward to slay them.
Just by standing in the fearsome presence of such energy, it is blatantly obvious to them who would win the fight in this situation. Ash's knees are shaking uncontrollably and even Zurvick is feeling the fear that the aura of evil surrounding him is causing.
Dice takes his first step forward but is suddenly stopped by the figure of a man in a stylish black suit with dirty blond hair.
The man steps in between the two and says, "I doubt that you'll be holding anyone at the end of all this."
Dice frowns and spits at the ground. "Who the fuck are you??"
The man standing in between the three is Jeffrey Durbin.
He shrugs his shoulders and says, "I don't really matter all too much, but the person that matters the most to you is being taken away as we speak."
Jeffrey points to the window behind Dice and says, "Take a look."
Dice turns around and looks out the window to see Rain being held tightly against her will and taken away by the same orange haired person he saw her with earlier.
"Rain!!" he shouts out the window.
Rain hears his shout and turns to look at the source of the noise, she shows him a face that screams out for help.
All of the thoughts that he had of engaging Ash and Zurvick go screaming out of his head and only one thing remains. Dice's eyes widen and he takes a few steps from the window, he lifts his black sword and swings at the wall; with that simple motion, the wall holding the window violently exploded sending debris flying into the night sky.
Dice hurriedly jumps through the large hole in the building and abandons his aspirations of exacting Rain's revenge on the two; the black smoke that surrounded him gently leaves the hallway and eerily follows him outside.
A strange feeling of calm reaches the two with Dice's exit. Ash takes a deep breath and doesn't know which of the numerous questions in her head to snatch out and ask. Zurvick's tense shoulders loosen up as he looks at the destruction that had just taken place. That feeling of calm is short lived when the sound of screams coming from the burning Ballroom are heard.
Zurvick knows that he has to go into the fire to help as many people as he can, he lets Ash out of his arms and turns to Jeffrey. "Thanks for your help, you really saved us back there."
Jeffrey shrugs his shoulders and says, "Just doing my job for my King."
Zurvick smiles and lifts his hand for a handshake as if to say thanks again. Jeffrey smiles softly and grabs his hand, the two's eyes meet for a moment and it becomes obvious that something is wrong.
The second this becomes evident, Zurvick feels a dull pain in his gut, he looks down and sees an eight inch knife stabbed deeply into his abdomen.
His eyes shift from his wound and back to the eyes of Jeffrey, who sighs when he says,
"The only problem with that is... you are not my King."
Zurvick drops to his knees and blood begins to puddle below him, by looking at how much red fluid is flowing from him one can't help but think that could be a fatal wound.
Ash is taken aback by this, so much so that there was a delayed effect in her comprehension speed; now that she sees his face growing paler and paler, she is thrown into a blind rage.
She turns to Jeffrey and glares at him with her bright crimson eyes, the anger that brews in her frown is more than evident when she rushes him for an attack.
Jeffrey sidesteps and easily avoids her wild punch, he grabs her arm and brutally kicks her in the stomach, the air flies out of her lungs and her whole body becomes limp when she falls face first on the ground, completely unable to move.
"Easy there Captain, I don't have orders to kill you. If you want to live I suggest you get out of here as soon as possible. Two of my men set up a fuse bomb that will systematically destroy this entire castle with a different explosion every few seconds." Jeffrey looks at his watch and says, "You only got another minute.”
He turns his back to the two and ganders out of the massive hole in the wall that Dice made, there he sees Dice chasing after Noah and Rain.
He releases a sigh of exasperation and says, "I guess I'd better help him, it sure looks like he'll need it."
Without paying Ash or Zurvick any more mind than they are worth to him, he jumps out of the hole and disappears out of sight.
This is the way the Ten Knights of La'Juune work, once the job is complete, it is on to the next one.
Ash is desperately trying to breath as she attempts to stand, she shakily reaches her feet and moves to tend to Zurvick, but to her surprise he is already standing there with a broken smile on his face.
"We gotta escape Zurvick, we gotta get you some help." she says.
He shakily stands himself back up and replies, "No... you have to escape."
"Huh? What are you talking about? Can't you see that this whole damn building is on fire!?"
Zurvick stumbles when he walks toward her. "That's exactly why you are the one that needs to leave."
"But we need to get you stitched up as soon as possible."
Zurvick grabs her shoulders and walks her to the ledge of the hole that Dice created, "I need to help them..."
"N-No that's ridiculous! You are injured and you can barely move! What kind of help do you think you can accomplish!? You may even need it more than they do!"
He smiles and pushes her out of the hole in the wall, it's only about ten feet to the ground but she definitely felt in when she landed square on her back.
She quickly rises to her feet and glares at him with desperate eyes.
Zurvick salutes her and says, "I'll be damned if I don't do anything."
He turns and gets ready to walk into the blaze; watching the back that she adores so much become smaller with each one of his steps leading away from her, she becomes more and more distraught. She knows that if he goes into the burning Ballroom, there is no way he'd survive. He has a dagger sticking into his stomach and is losing incredible amounts of blood, and if his assailant’s warning is true, there will be another explosion any moment.
She puts every last bit of her strength in her voice box when she yells, "DON'T DO IT!!! YOU'LL DIE!!"
Zurvick keeps walking as he replies, "You know me well enough to know that I'm extremely lucky Captain Ash... there's no way I'll die here."
And with that, the injured and bleeding Zurvick waves her goodbye and vanishes in the bright light of the fire.
Ash is devastated. "He left me..." she says to herself as tears begin to fall from her eyes, "That idiot really left me..." She bites her lip and frowns, "I'm not letting this happen!"
She runs to the ten foot wall below the hole and begins to climb, with all her might she is going to give chase to him.
But these efforts are fruitless, before she can even get half way up the wall it is obliterated.
The second explosion rips through the area where she just was and knocks her more than twenty feet back, she slams into the manor lawn in a heap. For the most part she is unscathed, just a few scratches around her arms, she is extremely lucky that she didn't lose a limb in that blast. She shakily lifts her upper body up and opens her dazed eyes. The only thing she can see is orange and red blurs and she smells a bitter smoke through her nose; it takes her a few moments to recover from this out of body experience she is having.
Upon regaining her senses, she can see the horrifying scene that stands before her, the area that she and Zurvick was just in is now nonexistent, only rubble and flames remain. The Ballroom is just about utterly demolished and the rest of the castle begins to deteriorate as well. Not much of anything is left of the Ballroom and there is no doubt that everyone who hadn't escaped yet is dead, and that includes the one person she cares about most in the world.
Her body starts to convulse and her breathing becomes very spotty.
"N-N-No... this isn't happening right?"
As if to add insult to injury, dozens of smaller blast suddenly wrap around the circled tip of the castle and blow their way down until the seven hundred year old structure is nothing more than dust.
Ash throws her hands on her face as she looks at the destruction in horror.
"This isn't happening..."
All of the smiles and happy moments between her and Zurvick flash through her head like an old movie and eventually morph into a scene of despair when she thinks about how that smile of his is going to be gone forever.
As if in denial at his fate, she shouts for him at the top of her lungs.
Dice is running after Noah and Rain who are entering a horse drawn carriage that was supposed to be guarded by Trojan soldiers. Those soldiers are now all dead and their bodies are scattered all over the area, a large battalion of them has been slaughtered within the time frame of the Knight's assault only an hour earlier. All of this destruction was brought to this city by only Ten soldiers.
On the carriage holding the reins is one of those Ten, Elise Whittier. She is covered in blood and looks very annoyed by the thought of how long it is going to take for her to wash it all out of her hair.
Once Rain and Noah enter she says, "Ooooaah she's cute! This is gonna be a better ride than I thought it’d be."
Rain recognizes her from the dress shop and mutters in surprise, "Y-You..? Wha?"
"Keep your pants on and drive." Noah orders.
Elise sticks her tongue out at him and asks, "Where to boss?"
Noah glares at Rain and then out to the burning city of Tronoble, he slightly smiles and blows a sharp breath of air out of his nose. "To La'Juune."
Dice is gaining on the carriage, each step of his that lands on the ground carries so much fury and determination that it almost sends shock waves into the ground as though it was an earthquake.
"I’ll kill you!!!"
Noah stares at this abnormality in pursuit of him with a straight and unworried face, he holds out his hand and simply snaps his finger. With that, Dice is surrounded by the weapons of Jeffrey, London, and Allia.
The carriage begins to move and Dice's rage becomes seemingly unstoppable, but the black and evil aura surrounding him doesn't seem to faze the three. Without a hint of nervousness, Allia points her bow and arrow at him, Jeffrey has a small sword pressed against his back, and London has a long fencing sword pressed against his neck.
Rain stares at the evil aura around Dice and has a different reaction to it than the others. "It’s that power... he really was telling the truth..."
Through the window Noah the rest, "I don't think it'd be too wise to waste your energy on that abomination, it's already far too late for him."
London pushes up his glasses and asks, "So what do you want us to do?"
"Just keep him here for a little, we'll be out of the city soon. I don't want that pest to follow me."
Rain is sitting in the moving carriage gritting her teeth, just by looking at how these knights had damn near killed off an entire city, she feels that there is no way Dice will win with his mind in such an out of control state. In a normal circumstance like this, one would worry about the other comrade's wellbeing, but in this case, Rain is only thinking about how she can somehow benefit from this situation.
She throws her head out of the carriage window and shouts, "Dice! You have to go back to our regiment! We can still win this battle if you tell them to invade!"
With an unworried look on his face, Noah leans his back into the leather carriage seat as she continues.
"There are only ten La'Juutians who caused all this, we can defeat them by shear numbers when we attack!"
Dice looks surprised and asks, "La'Juune? They are the ones who did all this??"
Rain is moving farther and farther away and her voice is very faint when she says, "There is a spy that knows of everything in the higher ups of Eiyalazo! Find that spy and kill him! Once you're done..."
By now she is so far that the carriage she is riding in can barely be seen, but her faint voice rings loud and clear in Dice's ears when she finishes with,
"Come find me!!!"
Dice watches her drift out of sight, she has been taken from under his nose against her will and there was nothing he could do except watch.
He flares his nose and frowns when he glares at the three La'Juutian Knights. "I'm coming back to kill you all."
The black smoke envelops his body and blows outward, slightly knocking the three back and allowing him some room to escape.
Dice begins to run with all his might, but this time it is in the opposite direction of the person he wants to be with the most at this moment.
With his head down he begins to shout his curses, "Urraaaahhh no!! How could I have let this happen!!??"
He then lifts his head up and screams at the sky with all his might,
"DAMN IT ALL!!!!!!!!!"
Allia had been raining down fire on just about everyone she saw in the town until she made her way back to the now destroyed castle and ran into Dice, so she isn't well informed as to what is going on.
She looks to her two comrades who casually sheath their weapon and relax.
"Should we really just let him go? If he gets that regiment to attack us I don't like our chances of winning." she asked.
London pushes up his glasses and smoothly says, "Don't worry about that."
Then Jeffrey lets out a tired sigh of exasperation and says,
"That regiment is long gone by now."
On the outskirts of Tronoble stands the thousands of men that belong to Rain's regiment, Dice's division is stationed there as well and they are all watching the city burn in awe. The murmurs of questions spread throughout the mass of men, but there is one man here who is not surprised about this in the least.
This man with two different colored eyes is the second in command to Rain, his name is Heinrich Zimmer.
He is so calmly watching from afar because he has known about the looming destruction of Tronoble for a while now.
He is Noah's spy, and he is the best the country of La’Juune has to offer.
One of the soldiers warily walks to Heinrich and asks, "What should we do?"
Heinrich doesn't turn his way and answers, "We retreat."
"What? But Rain and Prince Dice are in that town!"
Heinrich stands from a sitting position on top of a large rock and coldly states, "It looks to me like they’re most likely dead, the city was attacked by La'Juune from right under our noses, if we head in there carelessly without a plan we risk annihilation."
The man looks troubled and says, "But Rain told us to attack the city if she isn't back by 10 o'clock."
Remaining calm, Heinrich rebukes, "Yeah, but she didn't plan on the city being sacked by an enemy army before that time. This whole mission has gone bust, Rain Von Ronheim's carelessness got the prince killed, and as the new Captain of this regiment I will not allow the rest of us to die for her negligence."
The soldier shifts his eyes away for a moment and then back.
With his new command due to Rain's absence, the entirety of the Eiyalazonian army that are present all leave the burning city and head back home.
Heinrich can't help but smile at how great things have turned out for La'Juune, with this, the approaching La'Juutian army can easily occupy Tronoble with no conflict. This has been a successful mission, everything has gone exactly the way Noah had predicted.
La'Juune now holds the reins to this bloody world war.
"What do you intend to do to me?" Rain asks, breaking the awkward silence in the cabin of the carriage. Noah simply answers, "I don't quite know yet."
Rain clicks her tongue and begins to pound him with questions. "How do you know so much about the powers of my hand?"
Noah is holding her right hand and hasn't let it go since they were dancing.
"I know a lot of things."
This angers her and she shouts, "God damn it would you just give me an explanation already! How can you suppress the powers of my right hand!?" Noah glares at her and replies, "You just said it yourself... God."
"I am a glutton for knowledge, and before the war started there was a certain priest who preached to me the word of God. You told me earlier that you know nothing about the religion of the bible, correct?"
Rain huffs air out of her nose and looks out of the window. "People rely on that religion just like a fairy tale is used for children who are afraid of the dark."
Noah mockingly laughs and replies, "In a way, is this not what you have done for your powers?"
"I didn’t do this to run from the dark, I did this to embrace it."
"Do you realize you no longer have a soul? You are damned forever Rain."
“I’ve never not been damned. What good has a soul ever done for me, it’s worthless.”
He squeezes her hand and looks her in the eye. "What if I can change that?"
Rain pauses for a moment before asking, "What could you possibly do to change it?"
"That priest of mine was not an ordinary priest... before he was abducted along with the rest, he revealed his deepest secret to me, and soon after, with the touch of his hand... I was blessed. Though I am not benevolent to say the least, I have still been given a gift.”
“So you’re one of the people afraid of the dark then.” Rain said with a combative smile.
“Perhaps I am afraid…” Noah smiles and leans back in his seat, “But I was born into this world specifically to fight against that darkness; I will begin to negate your powers, in doing so, I will find out the whereabouts of my loved ones and put an end to this war."
Dice is running to where his comrades are supposed to be, and when he reaches the spot, he finds that they are long gone. Not knowing which direction they went off to he becomes confused, and that confusion turns into anger when he shouts at the pentagram on his hand,
"This is your fault!! How did you allow her be taken from me!?"
The snake's voice takes a few moments to appear and then it rings in his head. "This is all in due process, my fair Prince."
"I don't see how her being kidnapped will make her fall in love with me!"
"You need to open your eyes... This is the perfect opportunity to show her how devoted you are. She told you to find the spy and kill him correct?"
Dice sits on the ground, it would seem that he is exhausted from all of the effort he has put into the night, he lays on his back and points his hand to the air.
"Who do you think that spy is?"
"How the fuck am I supposed to know that!?"
The presence of the snake becomes more and more heavy on his arm with each passing second.
"I can tell you."
Dice becomes irritated and demands, "Then tell me."
"Who do you think has the power to make all of today's events possible?"
"Since you know that it was La'Juune that commenced the attack on the city, you must know that the spy who is able to work with the elites of that country must have an immense pull amongst the soldiers of Eiyalazo."
"I just don't see who can do something like that..." Dice said while clenching his fists in wonder.
The snake's voice reverberates loudly as it begins to inquire, "Let me ask you something... didn't your parents oppose you coming along with Rain on this mission?"
"Of course they were hesitant at first...”
"Have they not held a grudge against Rain's father for these last 10 years?"
Dice's face moves as if he is starting to realize something.
"Now that you mention it... they disgraced her father after the failure at the Battle of La’Juune."
"Has that embarrassment not continued to fester over time? Wouldn't be most plausible that they would do anything to sabotage her efforts in reinstating the Von Ronheim name?”
Dice sits up and his eyes widen.
"You don't think that---"
The snake's voice interrupts, "That's right... there is only one type of person that would betray her over such a trivial reason."
"It can't be..."
"It makes sense doesn't it? The spies.... the true betrayers are..."
Dice stands to his feet and frowns.
"The King and Queen of Eiyalazo... my parents."
"Yes, my fair Prince, now is your chance to show her the true extent of your love…”
Dice grits his teeth and puts all of his strength in his clenched fists.
“What will you do?”
"I have no choice... I must kill my parents."
The sun has almost completely risen over the destroyed city of Tronoble and the majority of people are either dead or they evacuated the town. But Ash Alworth remains behind, desperately digging through rubble. She is moving away the brick and stone of the castle with the remainder of her sleep deprived strength, trying to find Zurvick Niveusvenia, the King of Troy.
But sadly her search is of no avail, all she finds are burnt and crisped corpses of the former nobles who died in the blast the night before. The destruction is so bad that she hasn't even found a hint of life in the many piles of broken castle; the dress that she wore so beautifully the night before is torn and stained and her hands are bruised and bloody.
The wounds on her hands are proof of her belief that he is still alive, but the longer she searches she understands that her belief is actually denial. There are no signs of life around and La'Juutian soldiers surrounding the area begin to grow by the hundreds.
This is it, the end of her search.
(It's all over...) she thinks to herself as she lets her tired body finally take a break.
She begins to weep and tears fall rapidly from her tired eyes and slide off her cheeks like two flowing rivers. It has finally hit her that he really is gone, the only man this young Captain has ever loved is somewhere buried in the rubble.
It would seem that all of the energy she put into her search has gotten to her both physically and mentally drained; after hours of back breaking work, her frail body finally succumbs to exhaustion.
Her crying stops and her body falls limp onto the manor lawn, sadly for her, she will eventually have to wake up once more and experience the pain of her loss.
Three days later, the afternoon sun shines over the castle in the Capital city of Troy.
Queen Lelaine walks down the hallway and reaches the bathroom door. Once inside that unnecessarily large room with a pool sized bath she takes off her clothes and gets ready to enter.
Walking past the expensive looking vases and other decorative items, she finally reaches the warm water that fills the bath and takes a step in; she has been overly stressed the last few weeks so the soothing aroma of the shampoos and soaps calm her mind.
She sinks in the water and thinks to herself, (Here comes another tiresome day...)
With these thoughts of weariness and self pity running through her head, the comfort of the bath starts to ease the stress. That is, until she hears an unusual knock on the bathroom door.
She can tell it isn't one of her maids knocking to see if she needs any kind of assistance simply by the force of the knock.
She lifts her head out of the bath water and asks, "Who is it?"
A familiar voice comes from behind the door.
"What do you want?" she replies in haste so he can leave her alone.
He pauses for a few seconds and says, "I have terrible news to report to you."
Lelain raises her eyebrow. "Is it so bad that you have to tell me while I'm bathing?"
"Unfortunately... it is. I hate to come to you with such bad timing but I'd assume this is something you'd want to hear immediately."
"Then spill it already."
The pause between Sturgess' words makes Lelaine quite anxious; her hard is racing so hard that she can hear it beat from within the water.
After what seems like an eternal pause, Sturgess’s voice breaks the silence.
"The King is dead..."
Lelaine grows silent and remains that way for quite some time.
"Really?" she asked frailly.
"Yes... from what our reports say, King Zurvick was on his way back to our Capital when he stopped in Tronoble, while he was there the La'Juutian army attacked the city and defeated all its military occupants. The city held a Ball three nights ago for the King's departure, but the Ball was cut short by more than a few massive explosions, King Zurvick was caught in one of those blasts and as result, he was killed."
Lelaine remains silent and just glares at a painting in the bathroom as if she is in a trance.
Like a judge sentencing a convict to a life sentence in prison, Sturgess coldly continues.
"A few soldiers found a charred body that held the King's flask, they are sending it here to the Capital for burial."
When no reaction comes from this, Sturgess takes a deep breath and begins to smile, but this smile of his is broken by the sound of pottery smashing against the bathroom door he leans on. He takes a few steps back and the sound of heavy and sharp objects breaking becomes more frequent. "I'm sorry Queen Lelaine, but you must calm down and stay rational."
Another pot was thrown in his direction and shattered against the wall.
With the sound coming from the inside of the bathroom one can't help but think of the destruction occurring inside. Sturgess tries to suppress a laugh and realizes that it would be best if he just walked away.
But not before he leaves her with some final words, "I'm sorry for your loss."
Another vase is thrown into the door due to Lelaine's temper tantrum, she is searching for something to destroy when she shouts, "This is bullshit!!! It’s all bullshit!!!"
She grabs a bath stool and chucks it into a window, completely shattering it.
Now out of things to break, she herself begins to breakdown, she falls on her knees and then lays on her side in a half angled fetal position.
"No... oo... this is... false information or something, he has to come back."
Lelaine starts to shake uncontrollably and her wet body slides on the smooth tile floor, she remains like this for minutes as all of the moments between her and Zurvick pass through her head.
She once again remembers the day they met when they were children, the day they got married, the day when Trojia was born; but what hits her hardest is the day when Zurvick left as part of the lowest rank of the military after their daughter disappeared.
She remembers the last time she was held in his arms and the look on his face when he said, "Don't look so worried, I’ll be coming back."
She put her head into his chest and replied, "Promise me."
Zurvick lifted her head and looked at her square in the eye, with a sincere smile he said, "I promise I'll come back for you."
With the thought of that day running through her head she desperately clings for hope and tries to talk herself out of believing otherwise.
"...He's not dead. There's no way he's dead..."
Sturgess walks down the hallway with a huge grin on his face, his mission to dispose of Zurvick has finally been accomplished. Though this wasn't technically his doing, his death will still bring about all the same benefits.
At the corner of the hallway sits a set of stairs, he readies to walk down them when he sees the faces of his comrades Anders, and Cardinal Luudnt.
"So how did it go?" asked Anders.
Luudnt looks at him as if asking the same question.
Sturgess chuckles a little bit and answers the two, "Better than I expected."
Luudnt laughs and replies, "Well I have more good news for you, after raiding the country’s coffers, we have more than enough money to pay the mercenary soldiers to go along with our plan. "
Anders added, "Myself and the Royal guard, we’re all prepared as well.”
Sturgess's body is brewing with pleasure and excitement. "This couldn't get any better... give me a week, I'll set up a battle plan and we'll begin our coup the second I'm finished."
Anders leans his back on the wall and asks, "Should I set the schedule?"
Sturgess walks down the stairs and past the two, he turns to them and shows a confident grin when he answers, "Mark the day on the calander, one week from now, the country of Troy will be ours."
Anders and Luudnt smile and salute him.
Simultaneously, they both shout, " Yes sir!"
The three go their separate ways to prepare for an epic betrayal.
Now by his lonesome on the outskirts of the castle and resting on a grassy bank by the moat, Sturgess is staring at the back of his hand.
"I must say, you are indeed fulfilling your promise to me."
The snake's head appears from the back of his large hand and says, "I exist to serve you."
"I can't believe it, I finally get to have Lelaine all for myself. Both she and the country of Troy are within my grasp."
"Believe it my fair General, you will have your woman, and you will also have rule over all the Kingdoms of this world."
Sturgess's face becomes distorted with an insane smile, the thoughts of such grandeur extend his greedy nature tenfold as a sickening pleasure grows in his body.
"That's right! It will all be mine!"
The snake slides up his arm and seemingly grins when it says,
"With me by your side, it's only a matter of time."
In a dark room sits a man on a throne with a large chessboard in front of him. Unlike the last time where there were few chess pieces that were positioned away from its original starting point, today almost every piece, both black and white have been moved and some of them are on the floor by his feet signifying that they have been defeated.
Though his face can't be seen from within the darkness, his red eyes glow and it becomes obvious that a menacing grin has surfaced under them.
"Prince Noah... you certainly have a troublesome ability, but little do you know, everything you had just done made things much easier on me."
Once again there is a man who stands at the base of the throne, this man is not Beelzebub nor Damien, he has dark blue hair and bright blue eyes.
This is the second ranking demon of the Hierarchy, Leviathan.
Leviathan is glaring at the chessboard and asks, "I imagine things are going well for you."
The man on the throne simply replies, "That's right, I am only a few steps away from victory."
"Take a look at the chessboard, look at the position of the chess pieces."
Leviathan looks at it and finds that the two white pieces, along with a bishop and a knight are surrounded by numerous black pieces.
"Is it relevant?"
"These are the only remaining obstacles in the way of my success... the white pieces are Noah of La'Juune, Lelaine of Troy, and King Gile and Queen Diana of Eiyalazo."
"I have made my moves perfectly and everything is starting to fall into place."
"What do you need to have done in order to win this game?"
The man leans his head on his hand and says, "All it takes is one of the white piece’s defeat. The Prince of La'Juune was foolish enough to kidnap my queen, with my help, Rain Von Ronheim will kill him as soon as the opportunity presents itself. General Sturgess lusts for Queen Lelaine but I will have him kill her during the coup, thus fulfilling the terms on our contract. Prince Dice is already on his way to kill his parents believing that it was they who were the ones that betrayed Rain.”
Leviathan gently smiles in amusement, "Humans truly are easily manipulated."
"Especially when you offer them their wildest dreams on a gold platter, all one has to do is give them a little taste and they drool for more."
"With temptations like that, no man can deny you, the master conniver."
"Once the leaders of the three largest countries are dead, the ones left in line for power are the ones whose souls are bound to me under contract. Once their contract is fulfilled, I will damn those three and make their bodies my own. My powers will finally returned to Earth, I will be able to topple the leadership Troy, La'Juune, and Eiyalazo and firmly plant myself as ruler of the world.”
The man laughs and unexpectedly stands to his feet, he walks down the three steps and past his chessboard; the dim light begins to shine on him and his blood red and black overcoat can be seen.
Once the light hits his almost pale face, his features shine the room with a red aura.
He has black hair that falls far below the nape of his neck, and has shining red eyes with white pupils. This is Damien's father Satan, the top ranked Demon of the Hierarchy.
He spreads his arms and states, "Soon enough, no man on either Earth nor Heaven will deny me as God. I am only one human death away from checkmate... only one human death away from returning to Earth.”
Night of the Ball: (END)