To The Red Line (Chapter 2: Clashed Fates)

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IN the North-West continent, slightly further up from the Town of Andania, deep into the woods and surrounded by thick rainforest that only very few people know their way in, there was a big mansion that belonged to the one of the most powerful Cla...

IN the North-West continent, slightly further up from the Town of Andania, deep into the woods and surrounded by thick rainforest that only very few people know their way in, there was a big mansion that belonged to the one of the most powerful Clan in whole of Fulaina: The White Wolf Clan.

Three tall and gigantic wolves covered in bronze stood proudly in front of the mansion, at the main entrance Each of the three wolves symbolized the Codes of the Clan: Honour, Power, and Discipline.

The White Wolf Clan has been around for centuries. Their ancestors were made up of of notable Royal families and Nobles. They lived and honoured by their codes, and away from the public eyes.

Currently, the Successor and Head of the Clan was a handsomely young Prince in his early twenties.


A graceful and beautiful young woman in her late twenties, sat on the bamboo polished floors, in a spacious living room of the White Wolf Mansion.

Enjoying the scenery of the beautiful garden and a cup of hot tea was Suzumi Karou, the Mistress of the Mansion. She smiled satisfyingly at the tea she’d just finished brewed.

Her long silky purple hair was tied up into a lovely braided bun, with flower clips on her hair. She had a pair of pale jaded eyes that matched perfectly with her smooth and flawless pale skin and perfectly red lips.

The gracious and beautiful woman wore an Eastern traditional style clothing that was made from very expensive silks; abstract shades of purple with pink floral patterns.

Suzumi sipped on her tea and softly sighed. What a peaceful and lovely day indeed. She had been knitting a scarf for her troublesome little brother and was halfway done when she’d decided to take a short break.

Just as she was about to take another sip of the tea, suddenly she stopped and let out a soft gasp.

Putting the cup down, Suzumi quickly walked to the exit and opened the sliding door. Silently, she walked out of the room.


Her destination had eventually led her to a creative cursive writing on a wooden plate hanging on the way that read ‘Kitchen’.

The delicious smell of tonight’s dinner already filled in her nostrils and made her stomach grumbled. Sighing softly, Suzumi lifted the curtains and walked in.

Her eyes immediately fell on the back of a tall and handsome young man in his early twenties. He wore a black sleeveless tight-fitting and mocked turtle-neck shirt that revealed his leaned muscular torso and arms. He had a cigarette in his mouth. His long dark forest hair was tied up in a messy ponytail.

Plum coloured eyes deeply in concentration as he expertly dicing the onions at the kitchen’s counter on a wooden table, before putting them into the already sizzling oiled pan.

“Shinji?”

The man looked up for a brief moment before resuming with his work, now proceeding in cutting dices of mushrooms.

“Dinner won’t be done at least in an hour. You know that.”

“That’s not why I’m here for!”

“Then why are you here? If you’re ordering food, then forget it. I’m halfway done preparing the meals.”

At this, Suzumi sighed annoyingly. She put both arms on her hips, hoping to show some authorities toward her little brother.

Meanwhile, Shinji rolled his eyes annoyingly. He hated it when people disturbed him while he’s cooking — since it was the only free time that he was able to unwind and relaxed his mind during due to his long and hectic schedules.

Honestly, Shinji loved and cherished his big sister, but Suzumi could not cook to save her own damn skin. And he was not willing to be her guinea pig. Again.

Last time, she’d tried to cook, it had cost him an ulcer. He was lucky the Clan’s doctor had been around the mansion at that time to treat him.

Sighed, Shinji put down the kitchen knife, lowered the fire on the hot pan, and turned to face her with both arms crossed on his chest.

She’d better make it quick whatever it is.

“What is it?”

Taking a deep breath, Suzumi said, “I’ve received a vision a little while ago. I can feel her presence nearby. She’s at the town of Andania, Shinji. Finally, after all these years of waiting, the time has come.”

“What are you talking about?”

Sighing in frustration, Suzumi narrowed her eyes at him. “Do not tell me you’ve forgotten all about her? I will mercilessly kill you if you answered ‘yes’!”

Shinji looked taken back at her words. His eyes widened when the long suppressed memories suddenly jolted him. He looked down at the cleaned and polished floor and frowned.

“Of course I haven’t forgotten about her. You didn’t mention her name. How the hell should I suppose to know who it was that you are referring to.” He whispered softly.

Memories of the past lingered in his head before he shook it off. Letting out a sigh as he ran his fingers through his hair, Shinji took the cigarette out of his mouth and blew out a cloud of dark smoke while his sister simply watched him.

Suzumi watched his body language with attentive eyes. This was the moment they all had been waiting for, since five years ago.

After a minute of endless silence, Shinji turned off the stove and silently made his way to the kitchen when he was stopped by Suzumi who put a hand on his shoulder.

“Be careful. We don’t know what’s going to happen from here onwards.”


ANDANIA.

A small yet lively town filled with good-mannered townspeople.

The town’s hills were the most significant place to visit and were placed as the number one top place in the North-East region to visit as it has a terrific view that overlooked the entire town.

“Isn’t this town just fascinating? I absolutely adore being here!” Luna exclaimed, the moment they reached the town.

“Yes. It sure is.” Mika replied with a bright smile. She couldn’t barely contained the excitement that was building within her, but had to remind herself the needs to be professional.

They were in the middle of a mission after all, and not to mention, they were representing Luyas as well.

Luna looked to Mika who was standing on her right. When all the sudden, she gasped in sheer excitement.

“That’s right. This is your first time visiting a town, isn’t that right, Mika? Father had once brought Guy and I here when we were children. Just recently, the three of us had come here for a little gathering.”

Mika blinked her eyes before nodding her head. “Huh? Oh, that’s right. This is actually the first time I’ve ever stepped outside of the Castle! Though I am a bit surprised and curious to know why Lord Ranfel had allowed me to come along as well. It’s unusual for him to do so.”

Luna shrugged. “Father is an unpredictable man after all.” Instantly, an idea came to mind, and Luna grinned wickedly.

“Hey, I have an idea! What say you if, after we’ve done delivering the scroll to Lord Andania and collected the swords from the blacksmith, we’ll take a stroll around the town? Won’t it be fun?”

Already expecting her friend to say something like this, Mika rapidly shook her head.

“Didn’t Miss Claire had specifically tell us to return to Luyas immediately? She also said something about not loitering around-”

“-Oh, c’mon Mika! We hardly go outside of Luyas to enjoy ourselves. So why not take this opportunity to enjoy it? Besides, this will do you good too. You know, socializing. Please? It will be worthwhile and I promise we’ll be in Luyas on time! Pleeeease?" Luna begged, with her big brown eyes.

Still not convinced that it was good idea, but at the same time not wanting to upset her fellow friend and Captain, Mika thought a little bit more.

“Well... I-I suppose we could do some touring around here. Since we’re here, we might as well checking on how the Luyas Knights stationed here are doing. It’s not loitering if you’re checking on them, right?”

“Right!” Luna snorted and waved a hand in the air.

“But we’re only going to tour for a short while, okay? We still have a long way to go home if we want to make it by noon.”

Luna put her arms around her friend, and pulled her into a half-hug. “Oh, thank you, Mika! Well, hurry on! Let’s go and tell the others.”


Many Knight claimed they had never, throughout their years of serving as Knights of Luyas, seen their most respectful, level-headed, dignified, and ‘Demonic’ Commandant looked anything else but just as he described.

Grants Rogue was the no-nonsense type of man who kept his cool, calm, and collected-self in place even facing with the most difficult and tough situations.

He was a true hardcore soldier at heart, who at times, shown kindness and mercy to others. He was a firm believer in discipline, dedicated to his work and strict with his subordinates, hence, earned him the title of ‘Demon’.

Today however, whenever people would stop by his office; either work-related or to just simply dropped by to say ‘hello’, they were shocked to find two stacks of paperwork on his table, some of them were even scattered all over the floor, while the rest just spread wildly across the floor.

His room was in a terrible mess.

What was even more surprising was that they had caught the Commandant red-handed sitting on his chair, with hands on his head, and a half-empty bottled of Rum, on the desk, before him.

For as long as anyone could remember, Grants Rogue barely touched his drinks except on special occasions, but even then, he was still in full control of himself.

Grants himself had shared his view on alcohol, saying “a man who does not know how to control his drink, is a man who has no respect of himself”.

Something terrible must have drove the usually composed Commandant to this horrible state.

Determined to find out what the root of the problem that had cause their beloved Commandant to be in great distress, the Knights ventured who had came to the office, rushed to find the one person who knew deeply about the Commandant’s bizarre behaviour.

Claire Boyce kept on a straight face as she glared with narrowed eyes at the three Knights in her office.

“For the last time, just as I have said to the three of you and to also all of you people lining outside of my door,” Her voice increased as she aimed directly at the flinched Knights who were lining outside of the door.

“The Commandant does not wishes to be disturbed. Neither do I, as a matter of fact!” Claire finally snapped. Her patients with these Knights was growing thin.

“But Madam Boyce, we are concerned about his health!”

“While I’m sure you all have the Commandant’s best interest at heart, it is wise to leave him alone at the moment. Kindly return to your posts at once!”

One by one, the Knights left her office, pouting and unsatisfied. The long line of Knights waiting outside of her office slowly dispatched, finally leaving the Second-In-Command alone with her thoughts at last.

Claire laid back on her seat and massaged her throbbing forehead. She took a deep breath, counted one till ten in her head and then exhaled.

Today by far, was the worse day of her life.

First, her superior had been in a foul mood all morning. He had been hissing and snapped for every little mistakes made by either the Knights or her, which had shocked them greatly as her superior was known to be a strict but fair and a very patient man.

Imagine the shock on Claire’s face when she’d knocked on his door to get his signature for a few paperworks, only to find the respectful Commandant was in an alcoholic state.

When asked just what had caused him to reduce to this state, Grants had simply replied stating he simply had enough stress to handle at it is and on top of that, worrying over his newly assigned on a simple half-day mission to a neighbouring town had forced him to drink Rum, after all the efforts of every type of meditations had left him miserable.

He had started drinking by the cup, at first. After his fifth rounds, her Commandant had decided to ‘screw it all’ and took a full gulp straight from the bottle.

Claire had been in panic, if she was being honest. Immediately shutting the Commandant’s door behind her, she then approached the Commandant in an effort to try and take the Rum away from his grasp when someone had casually walked into the door without bothered to knock it.

Need to say, all hell broke loose afterwards when a Knight who’d just wanted to drop by the office and greeted the Commandant had caught the Commandant red-handed drinking Rum in broad daylight.

Claire could swore she felt veins were popping on her head after all the chaos in her office. She had never used her position as the Vice-Commandant in any kind of ways, to threat a Knight like what she’d done to the poor lad today in order to keep this issue just between them and not for it to reach to Lord Ranfel’s ears.

The knight had promised, fearing for his life and both her and the Commandant’s wrath should this news reached to Lord Ranfel’s ears. However, that certainly didn’t stopped the idiotic Knight to tell the others about their beloved Commandant’s unusual state.

Taking another long deep breath, Claire exhaled before resuming her paperworks.


Exactly an hour and half later, Claire sighed satisfyingly at her job well done and only needing her superior to reconfirm and signed them.

She compiled the papers neatly on her desk before looking out at the clear blue skies from her window.

Perhaps a little tea and light snacks should make him calm down and sober at the very least. Claire pondered shortly.

Decided it was better than nothing, the Vice-Commandant made her way to the small pantry where she then began preparing tea and snacks for her Commanding Officer.


Meanwhile, Grants Rogue had been sitting on his chair, with his hands holding his head faced down on his desk for the last hours. His butt was already numbed from sitting in uncomfortable position for a long time, but Grants didn’t care.

He had heard what the commotion outside his office was all about. Yet he found himself too drunk to not even cared about it.

Eventually, the noise settled down and he sobered up a bit. Grants sat with his back straight on his seat. Still feeling light-headed from the Rum, but overall, he felt calm.Well, as calm as one could ever be after consuming a lot of alcohol.

As the clock hanging on the wall kept on ticked irritatingly at the silence in the office, Grants found himself tapping his fingers impatiently on the desk.

He looked at the clock that was hanging on the wall: 11:20 o’clock in the morning.

Forty minutes left before noon approached and he was already losing his cool. Clenching his teeth, Grants stomped his fists on the table, ignoring the falling piles of papers on the ground.

Damn! What could have possibly taken them so long to get their arses back here before noon! It’s not even that far! I’d even assigned two of my most trusted Knights to accompany them and to help them load the swords. So what else is taking them so long to get back unless....

“Shit!” Grants hissed. He ran fingers through his hair frustratingly when suddenly he realised something.

Of course. Of course, his newly-selected Captain of the assigned team just had to take this opportunity to go and explore the town! After all, when else could they have the chance to do so when the mere chance of them stepping foot outside of the Luyas’ Gates was close to none.

He should have known or predicted it sooner.

“Damn it, Luna!” Grants pitched the bridge between his eyes. “Calm down. Mika’s with her. She won’t let her get distracted on a mission. They should beheading their way home as right now.”

Though Grants was never to compare or favoured over any of his subordinates in his brigades, he found the young Spirit simply to be more trustworthy and level-headed in handling things such as these even more so then the young Luyas Heiress.

Grants paced in a circle in his office. Sharp Hazel eyes kept on gazing at the white written Report with the on his desk.

Fear stroke his heart as he remembered the words written without having to read it twice. Once was enough.

Just then, there were a couple of soft knocks on the door.

“Enter.”

The door opened smoothly, with Claire entered the office carrying a tray contained two cups of herbal tea and some biscuits.

“Are they back?”

“No, Sir. They have not yet return.” Claire carefully put down the tray on his desk. “May I ask you a question, though?”

“What?” He took the hot cup offered to him and silently thanked her.

“Usually you’d put your whole trust on the team that you’ve assigned for any missions. Nevertheless, you have been quite anxious and dare I say, — nervous — all morning ever since Captain Luna’s team left for a very simple mission. Why is that?”

Grants scratched his head and his stubble chin. He walked toward the window, now holding the small cup with his hands. His grip on the small tea cup was so tight that Claire worried that he might just break the cup in half if he wasn’t careful enough.

Forcing himself to take a deep breath, Grants sighed.

“No matter how much I’d wanted to object the mission given to be handed over to Luna, this came straight from Lord Ranfel himself. He’d let his daughter to be promoted to a Captain even when she’s not ready to become one yet!”

“Regardless, that’s not what’s making you this anxious, isn’t it?”

Grants shook his head. Wordlessly, he reached out and handed her the letter that was on the desk.

Slightly taken back by her superior’s action, Claire hesitatingly put down her cup and accepted the report and silently read it.

The more she read the report, her eyes grew widened by each written words.

While his Vice-Commander was reading the report, Grants walked over his desk. He pulled a drawer and slammed two-pieces of report statements on the table.

Claire quickly reached out both reports with her now trembling hands. She read them thoroughly. Before long, her knees decided to give away.

Claire sat down in a loud thump on the offered chair in front of the desk.Hands covered her face, with spaces in between her fingers, she looked at the Commandant expectingly.

“Two days ago, these reports came in from the Knights of Eden who were patrolling the area near the Northern Borders. They’ve received words from the Northern Borders about a large group of unknown intruders who had mysteriously emerged from the Northern lands. The Lord of those land, Lord Eden, has ordered his forces to stand by and guard the area within their perimeters. He has spread the words and warned about the intruders to other Kingdoms should any of the intruders managed to slip away from his defence teams. Lord Eden wanted all Kingdoms to be aware of the situation at hands and to take necessarily actions. Andania is located at the North-East, and the possibility that the intruders might have to slip into the town is gravely high.”

Grants cleared his throat. “The scroll that I’d asked the Assigned Team to deliver was actually a warning letter for Lord Andania should an attack on Andania take place. The two thousand swords have already been prepared for the knights assigned to protect the town. ”

Claire abruptly stood up. She looked at the clock that was now reading ten minutes till noon.

“Commandant, we have to do something! What if Captain Luna’s team is caught in the middle of the battle? Or even worse, what if-”

“Calm down, Vice-Commandant.” Grants put down the cup on the table. “The worse has not yet to come. It will be wise for the two of us not to think about it.”

“But Commandant...” Honey-brown eyes looked at him, pleading him to do something.

Grants groaned and sighed. He headed to the door and said, “Prepare me an Immediate Rescue Team for me at once, Vice-Commandant Boyce.”

“Understood, Sir!”


ANDANIA’S hilltops, was a famous tourist spot in all Fulaina due to its strategic location between the City of Eden on the North, and the Kingdom of Luyas on the East.

One could easily overlooked the two of Fulaina’s most famous skyscrapers: the Kingdom of Luyas’s the Bell Tower behind the castle, and also, the tall futuristic buildings of the City of Eden.

Two people were sitting at the Andania’s hilltop, enjoying themselves being surrounded by the various and the beautiful blossomed flowers on the field.

After they had successfully delivered the scroll to the Lord of Andania, and collected the two thousand swords prior requested by their Commandant, the Luyas’ Assigned Team had decided to rest on one of the hilltops before making their journey back home.

“This is such a breath-taking view!” Mika inhaled as much of fresh air as she could before exhaled it.

“See? Told you it’d be worth it.” Luna smiled proudly. “I remembered coming here when I was a little girl. I thought that maybe you would like to come here too, Mika.”

“That’s very considered of you, Luna. Thank you.” Mika smiled gratefully at her friend.

Luna waved her hand, and smiled back.

While the two of them enjoying the beautiful view all the sudden, Luna decided to ask Mika something.

“Say Mika? I’ve been thinking of asking you...”

“Yes?”

Luna frowned. She kept plucking at the grass on the ground, avoiding any eye contacts with her.

Curious at her friend’s odd behaviour, Mika encouraged her friend to ask with a gentle smile. “You know you can ask me anything, Luna. Go ahead. What is it?”

Biting her lower lips, Luna sighed.

“It must be extremely hard for you, isn’t it? Not being able to remember your past except for the last seven years since you’d come and live here with us. Not being able to remember the past is truly a frightening thing. I don’t know how did you do it. If it was me, I’d already be gone crazy.”

At her friend’s question, Mika stayed silence. Her questions had truly caught her off-guard. She’d never wondered why or how did she ended up in Luyas in the first place. She simply accepted.

“Not really.” Mika casually stated, looking at the clouds. “What’s done is done. In fact, I’ve come to accept that maybe it’s better for me not knowing any of them at all.”

“But are you not at least a little bit curious to know about your family? Or why you were the only one Spirit left in this world?”

Mika turned to look at her and smiled sadly.

“Even if I do want to remember them, Luna, I couldn’t. My past is a completely blank to me. Not knowing what had happened in the past is frightening. But then again, since I cannot remember the past, I am at least, grateful to be able remember the present and hopefully, the future. I’m making the best with what I have. Isn’t that what’s more important?”

Luna looked down on her hands that were on her laps. She bit her lips, trying to stop it from trembling. Her nose was growing red, and her eyes were moist and glittering.

“I’m sorry!” Luna wiped the first tear rolled down on her cheeks. “I can’t believe how insensitive I was to ask you such questions!”

Putting one hand on her shoulder, Mika smiled.

“Listen, Luna. I am ultimately grateful to your family for letting me to be part of the Heartlet’s family. I have so many fond memories here. Like, remember when we were young, the three of us tried to sneak out of the castle? Guy was the one who got caught by the Knights while the two of us managed to escape.”

She chuckled fondly. “He was screaming desperately, ‘Help me, you traitors!’ while being dragged away by the knights. I remembered it very well that he wouldn’t talk to us for at least two weeks even after we’d countlessly apologized to him!”

Luna giggled. “Brother had it bad. He got scolded by Father that very night for setting out a bad example to us. Meanwhile, the two of us were caught soon after and were taken to the Commandant’s office. He wasn’t happy to hear about it though. The punishment of having to clean all of the restrooms was horrible! I never wanted to do anything like that ever again.”

The two young women laughed to their heart’s content at the fond memories.

After a while, their enjoyment was soon cut to short when one of the senior Knights approached them.

“Captain Luna, we really should be heading to Luyas now. It is almost noon.”

Luna sighed but nodded. Even thought she was the Captain of this mission, the Commandant trusted the Knights more than he trusted her. Hence, she had to listen to their orders instead.

So much for leadership!


The Luyas Knights made their journey back home with little difficulties, and in silence. Occasionally, they would asked questions exchanging opinions with the two senior Knights regarding battle plans and strategies, and so on.

Halfway to Luyas with the sun set above them, as they passed by the greenery hills in silence, Luna suddenly stopped. To her left, there was broken gates that led to other side of the forest, also known as the ‘Forbidden Forest’.

Noticed that her Captain’s footsteps had faded all of the sudden, Mika stopped as well as the other two Knights with the horse wagon.

“Captain Luna? Something wrong?”

When no response came from the other girl, Mika stepped closer and nudged Luna.

“Hey, what’s wrong?”

Ignored Mika and the other Knights questioning looks, Luna carefully approached to the broken gates. Once there, she went on one knee and hid herself among of the bushes.

Mika decided to followed her, did the same on her left.

Luna’s eyes widened at the sight of a large group wearing a red robe with a big unfamiliar ancient crest printed at the back of each robe.

Since the robe covered their identity with the exception of the hands and legs, she could not get a better view on these mysterious intruders without getting herself noticed by them.

Nevertheless, Luna was quite certain that no one was allowed to enter there.

While Luna was too focused on the mysterious group, she had obliviously noticed the Spirit beside her letting out a few soft hissing gasps.

Mika frowned deeply at the sight of the mysterious group, with one hand on her forehead. Her heart was beating quickly, so as her pulse. Something about them made her head painfully throbbed all the sudden.

She was glad to know however that Luna was unaware of her sudden pain. Knowing her, Luna would react loudly and may caused them both to blow their covers.

Taking a few deep breath, she counted in her head from one to ten.

Meanwhile, Luna decided the best thing to deal with the situation on hand was to return home quickly and report it to her father as soon as possible. Her dear Father should know something about it.

Turning her head to talk lowly with her best friend, Luna stopped momentarily when she saw the Spirit girl had a deep frown on her forehead, pitching the bridge of her eyes.

“Hey, are you okay? What’s wrong?” Luna asked.

Mika shook her head and replied with a tired smile. “N-Nothing. Just a headache. Probably the weather.”

Concerns was all over Luna’s face at her friend’s well-being. However, she decided to not question her further and simply nodded.

“We should hurriedly return home. I need to report about this to father at once.”

Mika nodded and followed her Captain to where the senior Knights who were waiting impatiently for them.

“My apologies for the long wait, gentlemen.”

“What happened?” One of the Knights asked Luna.

“While we were walking, I’d thought I saw movements at the Forbidden Forest, I’d therefore, went to check it out. Turned out there are people — intruders — gathering at the Forest, as we speak!” Her explanation earned a sharp gasp from the Knights.

Not willing to wait for the others, Luna continued.

“They didn’t looked harmful, but they are highly suspicious. It would be in our best interest to rush back to Luyas and report this to Father as soon as possible.”

“Understood. In the meantime, I will notify the Knights in Andania and ask them to keep watchful eyes on them and to take them out, should they feel necessarily. No one is allowed to be in the Enchanted Forest, after all.”

One of the Knights who immediately wrote down onto a piece of paper. He then took out a caged carrier pigeon from the wagon, and set it out to fly to Andania, along with the message.

Once everything was set to go, they made a haste journey back to Luyas, when all the sudden, the ground started to shake tremendously.

Before they had the time to think what was happening, an explosive sound echoed loudly and so suddenly coming from the Forbidden Forest.

The sound followed by thick black smoke that quickly filled in the forest.

“What the hell was that?” Luna shouted. Her ears were still ringing due to the explosion. She had both hands covered her ears. Her eyes were stung from the smoke and tears were rolling on her cheeks.

Another blast of explosion occurred. This time, the sound was getting nearer to where they were.

Before any of them could barely react, another explosion occurred.

This time, it hit them.


Thick black smokes still covered the whole of the Forbidden Forest. It still not cleared yet but was visible enough to see.

Luna flipped her hands and coughed heavily at the smoke. She sucked and breathed in as much air as she possibly could. Her lungs were already inflamed and the tears won’t stopped running down her cheeks.

When Luna had opened her eyes, the first thing she saw and felt was thick charcoal smoke and the stung in her eyes.

Luna had to shut and blinked her eyes a few times, letting more tears rolled on her cheek before the pain finally subsided. She felt pain all over her body, and something dripping from her head.

Is it blood? Water? Or mixed of those two?

Decided not to deal with that problem at the moment, gingerly, Luna got up on her feet. Her two legs were shaking from getting thrown and then gotten hit by the blast.

The strong shock wave from the blast had separated her from the rest of her comrades. They all had been thrown forward into different directions.

Luna had her own body being slammed hard against a tree. To make it even worse, her head got hit on the hard root of the said tree as she fell down ground. The last thing she heard before she’d fell into unconsciousness was a cold, hair-rising roared that echoed throughout in the forest.

Luna winched painfully as she got up to her feet. She held on her sprained left ankle, all the while hissing and cursing at the pain.

Slowly and carefully as she could be, Luna walked toward to a lessened smoking area with a limping ankle, all the while trying to relocate her missing comrades.

Cold fears slowly crept on her like phantom at the thought what was happening, however, she told herself to remain calm and find the rest of her comrades.

“Mika! Everyone! Where are you? Mi-”

Luna stopped abruptly and let out a coughing fit. Her throat was dry and her voice was hoarse. She didn’t know how long had she been out of conscious. But Luna knew it couldn’t be more than just a few minutes.

As she got to a clearer surface, Luna let out a loud shocking gasp and nearly fell back at the sight of her surroundings.

The green hilltops that she and Mika had visited just a while ago, was now burnt to crisp and destroyed. Gone were all the green field that filled with various type of beautiful flowers.

Luna forced herself to take a couple steps forward to the hilltops despite the hollowed and dreadful feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Streaming eyes looked around the surrounding. No sight of life form was found anywhere.

Nothing.

Luna collapsed on the ground when her knees finally gave up, and she was reduced to sob.

W-What happened? What’s going on?

Tears kept on running down her cheeks like falling rain. Her mind was in deep confusion and didn’t seem to comprehend what was happening. Her body refused to stop trembling.

“Captain Luna! Captain, are you all right?” Voices from the distance calling out to her name.

Heavy footsteps getting closer to her. Before long, three familiar faces instantly rushed by her side.

“Captain!”

“Captain Luna!”

No matter how many times they all called out her name, Luna remained unresponsive. Her whole world was turned into a blank abyss.

Her eyes were glassy and she kept staring at the ground.

Luna tuned out everything except for the sound of her own rapid heartbeat that was getting faster each second.

SLAP!

A palm on Luna’s left cheek, hence, brought her back to reality. She blinked her glassy eyes a couple of times before she felt her cheek stung.

One of the Knight, a man in his late twenties, had firmly grabbed both her shoulders and forced her to look him in the eyes. He stared at her intensely.

“My sincere apologise for hitting you, Milady. However, we do no have time to be panic. The people of Andania need our help. Please take a deep breath and pull yourself together.”

He took his hands off her shoulders and walked to the horse cargo where the other Knight was standing.

“We’ll have to turn back. I’ll send words to Luyas and let them know about our given situation. As for these swords, we might need to use them after all,” said the Knight again.

“What are your orders, Captain Luna?” Asked, the other Knight.

Luna focused all of her attentions on Mika, who looked deeply concerned regarding of her best friend’s well-being.

“Are you all right, Lady Luna? Can you stand?”

Mika placed her hand on Luna’s arm and other one on her back so that she wouldn’t fall. At the sudden touch, Luna suddenly stood up. Her eyes flared with anger and hatred for the Spirit girl standing beside her.

In her terrified state, she shoved the Spirit girl away from her and screamed, “Get away from me!”

Luna’s sudden action had shocked everyone. Mika stared for a moment at her best friend’s sudden outburst but remained calm.

“Luna.”  Mika said carefully. She understood very well what her dear friend was going through at the moment.

“It’s going to be all right. I’m here.”

Luna stared at the young Spirit with a stoic and unreadable expression. She watched as her friend carefully reached out to hold her arm again. 

After taking a long deep breath and exhaled, Luna spoke in whispered and trembled voice. The words that came out of her mouth however, were none of the Knights expected to hear.

“I-It’s your fault. This is your entire damn fault, Mika! Y-you brought them here — the Spirits!"

“What?” Shrieked the oldest Knight after recovering his shock. “What nonsense are you spurting about at the time like this, Milady? The Spirits?”

“Father had said so! I’d overheard him talked to someone in his study chamber one night, years ago. He’d said after spending years and funds on scholars and researchers about her true identity, there might be a chance that Mika belonged to a Noble Spirit family! If it is proven to be true, who do you think is responsible for all of this, huh? For all you know, the reason why the Spirits are here is because of the horrible and mean things you people have done to her!”

“That’s preposterous! What in the Devil’s name had made you came out with that kind of assumption, Lady Luna!”

Luna ignored the title addressed to her and instead, clenched her fist and gritted her teeth.

“Then how do you explain what the hell is going on here?”

“Lady Luna,” The older Knight gritted his teeth. “I may not know what is happening at the moment. But what I do know is that we have other urgent things that is desperately need our attention. Such as the condition of the town Andania. Now, I realised you are experiencing the unsettled and unstable emotions at the moment, but we’re desperately need you to get a hold of yourself! You’re the Captain of this mission. As such, I’d expect you to-”

“Oh, sod off, old man!”

There was a loud gasping sound came from the rest.

Miss Luna!” The oldest Knight shrieked loudly. “I will not let you speak rudely to me that way!”

Mika was deeply in shocked at her friend’s unusual behaviour. Despite how bold and sharp-tongued Luna could be sometimes, she had always be able to hold her tongue especially when it comes to the Senior-ranked Knights and elderly.

At least, she tried not to be rude and talked directly at their faces. Unfortunately, she could also be stubborn as a mule when she wanted to as well.

Luna gritted her teeth and looked challengingly at the eldest Knight. Her face was mixed with emotions — emotions she could hardly contained any longer.

“Look around you! What makes you think we have a chance of winning against whatever it is that’s causing this havoc? We’d nearly died from the explosions, for Goodness’s sake! Those things are the damn SPIRITS! What makes you think I would be stupidly enough to risk my life fighting a battle I knew damn well I can’t win!”

“Lady Luna,” This time, it was the other Knight who spoke gently and put one hand on her should in comfort manner.

“Milady, please. You are scared. We all are. It’s quite normal to feel scared at the time like this — especially when the enemy is Spirits as you’d claimed them to be. However, like you and the rest of the Knights of Luyas, we all have taken our oaths to protect the Kingdom and to defend the weak. Right now, Andania needs us. Our only best chance of surviving this battle is by stay together and help each other out. You are our Captain, and we will be always be there by your side, watching over you back and ourselves as well. So please, Milady, let us fight along with the others in defending Andania.”

At the Knight’s kind and encouraging words, Mika hoped her dear frightened friend would calmed down, cleared her thoughts and and gathered enough courage to head back.

She truly hoped whatever words Luna had said earlier, was only due to the emotional stress and shocked she suffered, and that she didn’t mean any of it.

How wrong was Mika when Luna suddenly slapped the hand that was on her shoulder glared back at the Knight who’d comforted her with kind words.

Hatred filled in her eyes once again.

“Enough! I’m getting sick and tired of hearing this ‘Knightly talks!’ Let me tell you something, I didn’t joined the Knights with a Noble heart like the rest of you. Shocked, were you?”

Luna sneered at their reaction, especially at Mika, who was not only shocked, but stunned as well.

“Well, the reason I joined the Knights is because of my father!”

“Prey tell what do you mean by that, Lady Luna?” The oldest Knight sneered at her. He was obviously having a hard time trying to control his rage.

Luna took a deep breath. “I am my father’s daughter. That is the absolute truth. As such, it is expected that I’d become a Knight and do my duty by serving the Kingdom. But you know what, no matter how hard I’ve tried, no matter how much I strive to his expectation, Father will never pay attention to me! So what’s the point of me going to Andania and risking my life to protect that town is not worth defending for against the Spirits? If it wasn’t for Father, I would have run away from home long time ago! So yeah, call me a coward, selfish, a spoiled princess,whatever!I couldn’t careless any more!”

Meanwhile, everyone was utterly in shocked beyond words by Luna’s unexpected confessions.

Not even the Senior Knights could say anything useful as a comeback. They simply looked at her in silence. Judging her with their eyes.

Mika on the other hand, only looked at her dear friend with sympathetic eyes. She was shocked, of course. Part of her felt like she was being betrayed, and part of her was berating herself for not realizing what her friend was going through sooner.

How could she called herself a friend — a sister when she wasn't aware of all that was happening to her?

A faint sobbing sound caught her attention. Looking up, Mika saw her Captain wiped her tears away furiously, before turning her back at them.

After taking a deep breath, Luna spoke in much quieter voice.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’ve completed our mission and we have a report to submit. Let the other knights help defending the town.”

Not waiting for her comrades, Luna began to walk slowly and limply toward Luyas.

She ignored the loud terrifying sound came from the Spirits that echoed their surroundings and the empty footsteps behind her.

Whatever. She couldn’t careless if they chose to head back without her. Even if she did chose to fight and defend the town, it’s impossible with her conditions.

Surely, they would understand.

Surely her Commandant would understand... To fight a losing battle is a foolish thing to do. Luna knew she was simply trying to justify her action. It was her fault to begin with. She knew shouldn’t had loitered around after they’d successfully delivered the scroll and picked up the swords.

She should had just head back home. Mika had warned her, did she not?

Once again, Luna felt tears began to gather in her eyes.

Furiously, she wiped it away and quickened her pacts when she heard footsteps running the opposite side-heading toward the town of Andania.

Curiosity got the best of her. Luna slowly turned her head around to see it was.

Unwilling to just stand there and watched helplessly as the entire town was being terminated by the enemies when she could do something about it, Mika made up her mind and gripped on the hilt of her sword tightly.

Glancing at her Captain’s back with disappointed look in her eyes, she rushed and headed back the town of Andania, not looking back.

Two fates clashed.

One walked toward the path of safety behind the bars,

while the other walked toward the path of uncertain future...

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