THE battlefield had taken place in the Kingdom of Luyas. People from every parts of the continents of the world, had gathered to help retrieving Luyas from the hands of the Spirits who had invaded the kingdom. Even the infamous ‘The Black...
THE battlefield had taken place in the Kingdom of Luyas. People from every parts of the continents of the world, had gathered to help retrieving Luyas from the hands of the Spirits who had invaded the kingdom.
Even the infamous ‘The Black Raven Clan’ from the Northern Continent, and a long time rival of the White Wolf Clan, had come to lend a helping hand.
Leading the full operation was the Lord Eden XIII himself.
Initially, it had been the Master Oracle Fye who supposedly to lead the operation. However, due to an urgent matter that required his immediate presence at his own Kingdom, the Master Oracle could not leave his post and had to rely on Lord Eden through screen communication.
The long weeks of battles by filled with blood shed on both sides of the parties had finally came to an end when to everyone’s great surprise and shock, a messenger from the Spirits had come and told them the Spirits had decided to withdrawal from the battle without giving a good reason why.
The terrifying and endless sound of agony, suffering, and despair from the poor and innocent souls that were caught in between of the battle had finally come to an end.
Such tragedy should have never be repeated ever again.
It does not matter whose started it first. A war is still a war. Nobody wins a war without having to pay a price.
Thought Lord Eden while blowing the smoke from a long pipe hanging on the mouth of his mask.
He stood at the front gates of the castle, waiting for the Inspection Team to finish.
Still not convinced that the Spirits would just simply and peacefully retreated, Lord Eden had taken a small group of his army to the castle with extra precautions.
Each units had their own duties and roles to play; the Cavalry Unit, consist of the soldiers from Eden, the Kingdom of the Rose and the First Unit of White Wolf, were to spread and secured the perimeters.
The Second Unit of the White Wolf would be in charge of rescuing the injured civilians and Luyas’ Knights and taken them back to the Medical Tent. And finally, the Black Raven Clan Units would provide the necessarily backup supports and supplies to the ones who needed them the most.
Lord Eden shook his head at the messy ground filled with bodies of men and Spirits. The strong combination smell of the blood and dead bodies had almost made him wanted to puke, had it wasn’t for the mask on his face.
While the mask didn’t contained anything special to prevent the smell from getting on his nostrils, the mask helped a bit to block the awfully strong smell.
His eyes scanned for anything that was out of ordinary, while keeping tabs on his men’s whereabouts.
To his furthest right, was the young Luyas Heiress who had just arrived on the previous day with reinforcement groups from the White Wolf Clan on the North.
He had heard of her behaviour toward the Spirit Princess back in Andania. The fact that she had managed to escape from the hands of the Spirits was a remarkable thing.
The young Heiress had return to Luyas with the White Wolf Reinforcement Team as a volunteer for the Medical Unit.
Upon her and the others arrival late yesterday evening, Luna had offered an apology to the rest of the team on behalf of her brother who had chosen to accompany the Spirit Princess to complete her quest. Luna had also stated that although her brother had chose to accompany the Princess, never once did he ever forgotten about Luyas or what the people who had gone through.
Shaking his head, the Lord decided to focus on the task at hands. He needed to check out the conditions of the castle; specifically, the layouts of the Castle.
The good Lord walked throughout the corridors with graceful steps while keeping a strong guard of his surroundings. His men might have secured the perimeters, but one must never let his guards down especially in enemy’s territory.
True to their words, there were no signs of the Spirits anywhere.
To Lord Eden however, it felt like a déjà-vu－ten years ago during the Great War when the Spirits had suddenly disappeared in the middle of the battle, in Fulaina’s soil and was never heard or see ever again.
Just thinking about it made his hair stood up. He hoped and prayed greatly for it not to happen again.
As he was inspecting the place, light footsteps approached him from behind before it stopped.
“Lord Eden. Reports, Sir!”
One of the soldier from the Cavalry unit, whom Lord Eden had immediately recognized by the wolf mask he wore on his face and the wolf painted in white tattoo on his right arm approached and saluted him.
“Sir. We’ve done checking the castle as well as the towers prior your orders. We’ve found Lord Ranfel being locked in a chamber, which we believe it belonged to the Commander-In-Charged of the operation at the time － a man named Tal. Lord Ranfel was heavily battered and unconscious. Our Healers are treating him now as we speak. Also, we’ve found several of the Senators locked up at the dungeon; some of them were injured while the others were safe yet exhausted and traumatized. As for the Luyas Knights who had been brainwashed, they all are being sent to the First Aid Camps for treatments.”
“Hmm.” Lord Eden nodded slowly. “All right. Good job, man. Once Lord Ranfel is conscious and stable, I’d like to see him. Until then, continue with further investigations and keep the place secured.”
“Understood, Sir.” The soldier saluted and was about to walk away but stopped when his pager vibrated.
Each units were given a small device; a pager, in order for them to easily communicate with each other.
The soldier read the message before turning his head to look at the Lord again.
“Sir, I’ve just received a message from the others. You might want to see this. It’s outside.”
When both the Lord and his escort went outside, they were immediately greeted by the two members of the White Wolf Clan.
“How many are there causalities?” Lord Eden asked.
“All in total: two hundreds including the Luyas Knight who had been brainwashed, Sir. We’re still counting. The injured ones are being treated and the search parties for any missing Spirits have being expand to a larger scale. We’re searching every inches of the Kingdom’s perimeters and area, Sir.”
The other soldier spoke up. “Moreover, Sire, there’s someone who wishes to speak with you.”
The two men gave a way for a large battered looking man with bandaged half across his body and also on his left eye, stood behind them. He was being supported by the third member of the same Clan.
Lord Eden’s eyes widened behind the mask at the sight. His breath shortened.
The man who was being supported by the soldier, his once neat shoulder length hair was now longer until it reached to his hips, unkempt and dirty, was none other than Grants Rogue — the respectful and ‘Demon’ Commandant of the Knight!
The smell of strong medical ointments suggested that he had just being treated.
The man had looked different, exhausted and overgrown his beard so much that it had taken the Lord to look at him properly twice before he was able to recognize the man.
The two grown up men did nothing but to simply stared at one other in silence. The soldiers who stood with them, looked at each other with questions.
“Leave us alone, please.” The Lord spoke in a quiet and gentle voice.
The three soldiers saluted before the two men and left the scene. Even the fourth soldier, who had been supporting Grants was asked to leave after being assured by Grants himself that he wasn’t going to fall flat on his face.
The former did not want to answer to that cute yet scary looking nurse of why he’d helped out and let a stubborn patient out of his bed in the first place!
Once the soldiers were out of their sights, only then Grants took the initial step to move his feet forward slowly.
Tap, tap, tap. His bandaged covered left feet walked slowly on the ground, approaching the Lord.
Another tap, tap, tap sound echoed before he stopped merely five steps away from the Lord whom he’d looked up to and called his mentor.
Grants had known the man for many, many years. He’d looked up to the man as a mentor and a big brother since then. Funny how their age differences weren’t that far apart; Grants was only six years younger than himself.
Yet, Lord Eden had taken the man into his humble home when he had lose everything in a fire, years ago, and had raised him since.
“You look worse than hell itself.” Lord Eden spoke gently; referring to the dark circle bag under the man’s available eye and the traumatized look of sleepless nights in his eye.
There was kindness in his voice as he offered a small smile at the battered looking man.
Grants on the other hand, was able to put on a small smirk. His smirk fell as quickly as it formed.
Before long, there was a faint and almost soundless sobs coming from the tall and large man.
When Lord Eden looked at him, what he saw instantly made his heart shattered － tears were running down on the man’s cheeks like running waterfalls.
In all of his life knowing the man, never once had he see him shed any tears. Not even when he’d lose everything including his family in the fire, or even when his Grandfather whom he loved so much died being slain by the Spirit. Certainly, not when he’d lose plenty of comrades in battles.
Grants Rogue was a true hardcore soldier. He knew sacrifices and deaths were two things that could never be separated when he’d made up his mind to become a Knight of Luyas a long time ago.
But not today.
Today, something had hit him hard on the chest more than any of the punches or kicks he’d received in the past. Today, something inside of him had broke down as he’d being taken care of and escorted by the soldiers to the Medical Unit after being rescued.
Walking down the routes that would lead him to the Medical Unit tent, his eyes had wandered and roamed his surroundings －mixture of dead bodies belonged to the Knights he knew too well.
Some of them had been his pupils. Too young to know the way of the world. Others had been his fellow comrades and subordinates.
Grants’ knees finally succumbed to the hard ground. He covered his face with both hands as he sobbed like a helpless little child.
“I’d failed to protect them. I’d let them die.”
There was no need for any more word to say as Lord Eden got down on one knee.
As gently as he could, he patted the huge man’s back while Grants mourned at the destruction that happened to this Kingdom, to the people, and to the ones who had died protecting them.
He cried harder because he felt powerless to stop the horrible massacre. He had lose many of his loyal subordinates, comrades, and pupils who were like a family to him during the invasion.
Some of them had even died while protecting him, sacrificing themselves to save him.
“PRESENTING His Royal Highness of the Spirit Kingdom, Prince Makai!” Announced the Guard as Makai and his entourage entered the Audience Chamber of the Kingdom of the Rose.
The Master Oracle Fye raised from his Throne and greeted them.
“Welcome to my Kingdom, Prince Makai, Sir Leo and also, the good Lady Rinda. I hope you journey coming here have been fair and well?”
“Indeed, it has been a smoothing journey coming here, all thanks to you, Master Oracle.”
While Makai held on deep grudges against the mankind, he wasn’t blinded and ignorant of the facts that before the Great War, there had been some good people whom his late Father had entrusted his beliefs and faith in them; such as the good Lord Eden XIII and also the Master Oracle.
Even though the current Master Oracle was a young boy a couple of years younger than him, Makai knew well enough not to judge a book by its cover － becoming the youngest Master Oracle at such an early age at the same time, while managing his own Kingdom’s affairs, was not an easy task to do. Nevertheless, Fye managed to do it all without any problems.
“Your Highness?” Fye’s voice shook him from his deep thoughts.
“Sorry. What was it that you’re saying?”
“The Master Oracle is asking if you and your companions would like to rest for a bit before setting out to the Kingdom of Aquarius. Please pay attention to us, Prince Makai.” Mathias said coldly.
“That’s enough, Mathias.” Fye gently scolded his Adviser. “Well, Your Highness? You’ve travelled far to come here after all. If you want to rest, the resting quarters are already prepared for you.”
Makai glanced at his companions. His eyes fell on the only human girl behind him.
“Woman, do you need to rest?”
“Nah, I’m good.”
“You shouldn’t push yourself, little Lady. Amongst the three of us, you have been the one doing the most of the running.”
Rinda scowled. “I said I’m fine, old man. Besides, we don’t have any time to waste now, do we?”
Makai glanced one look at her and then he nodded. “We’re ready to go now, Master Oracle.”
Fye bought up the same cordless Communicator devices that he had previously given to Mika and the others and handed it over to the Prince.
“Just as I’d given the Princess and her companions, this is the wireless Communicator device that will allow us to stay in connect; in case something terrible happened when you’ve landed over there. Right now, Prince Shinji and the good Sir Guy Heartlets from Luyas are being separated from the Princess and Master Kazuo. We believe they both have been captured by the soldiers and taken into the castle. Please do be very careful, Your Highness.”
Makai took the devices and put it on. His companions did so as well. He pressed on the small button on the side of the wristwatch.
“R1. Do you read me?”
“Line’s clear over here.”
“I can hear all of you clearly as well. Now that we are all in sync, be sure to keep me update so that I may be able to help you somewhat.”
With that, The Spirit Prince and his comrades followed the Master to the secret underground tunnel where the same well that his sister and her fellow companions had entered earlier.
Shinji Karou was a man who enjoyed little things in life. Why, if he wasn’t so busy travelling around the globe on a quest to save the world, his daily schedules would mostly consist of countless of meetings with the Elders, managing the Clan’s affairs.
On top of all that, by becoming the youngest Head of the Clan meant that he had no time for himself. Each time he’d finished something on his long list, he had to attend to yet another long meeting filled with stubborn old geezers who kept pestering him to find a wife and then start working on producing an heir for the sake of the Clan.
Whether it’s for the Clan’s sake or not, no doubt, it was stressful most of the times. Yet, Shinji knew it was his responsibilities as the Head of the Clan to make sure everything went smoothly and accordingly as they should be.
Which was why, on one fateful late evening, when the Mansion chefs were about to prepare the dinner on that night, they had been surprised and shocked, when they’d found the young Prince’s presence at their humble kitchen!
Shinji, for the matter, had just finished making a stirred-fry vegetables dish and was in the middle of transferring it into the serving plate when the chefs had rushed in and had forcefully taken away the cooking utensils from him faster than Shinji could even blinked his eyes.
They’d talked to him at the same time; asking him what he was doing in the kitchen and that he should leave all the cooking to them.
Shinji, on the other hands, had calmly replied, “I felt the sudden need and urge to cook. From now on, let me make dinner. You people can make the rest of the meals. But dinner is mine.”
Or that one time, when the Clan’s very own interior designer had come to the Mansion to take a look at the living room that was in need for a renovation.
He, like the chefs, had been extremely shocked when he had caught the young Prince looking through the various types of fabrics, asking questions about which frames suited best with the ones they’d ordered and such.
Which led him back to the situation he was currently in.
The interior design of the Kingdom of Aquarius was something to be awed at. Especially the Audience Chamber. The interior of the Audience Chamber was very grand compared to others castle Shinji had been to numerous times before.
He had to admit, even though he wasn’t a fan of King Lewis, the King had a good taste.
Sometimes Shinji even frightened himself. Because, as he stood at the centre of the room, with a bruised face, both hands tied tightly on his back, and surrounded by guards with sharp pointed swords at him, he could still able admired the layout and designed chamber.
“How fascinating. To think that a member, nevertheless, the Prince of the powerful White Wolf clan himself was in my territorial ground! I don’t know whether I should feel honoured or insulted.” A deeply horsed voice belonged to a man who sat on the throne.
King Lewis XIII the King with a menacing face. He was a man in his early forties. He had white－greyish long strains of hair that he tied up in a low ponytail. His sharp pointed black nails kept on tapping on the handles of the chair, while one palm rested under his chin.
The man sat on the throne, staring intimidatingly at the White Wolf Prince with a pair of green-greyish eyes.
Finally, the King spoke in a delightful tone, after a long pause.
“Even now, I still can’t figured out how the hell did you two had managed to get through the powerful barrier I’d put surrounding the castle. Why have you come here for, O’ fine Prince?”
Shinji stared at him with hardened and cold eyes. His forehead was damped with sweats. His knuckles were pure white from clenching his fists so tightly.
“I asked you a question first.”
“What have you done to him?”
“Answer the given question, Prince Shinji.”
“What have you done to Guy?!”
The sound of a loud foot stomped on the ground, shaking the echoing chamber.
“I WILL NOT HAVE AN OUTSIDER TALKED BACK RUDELY TO ME IN MY OWN DAMN CASTLE!” The King roared.
Shinji forced a smirk. He knew fairly well the King was just trying to make him feel intimidated by his loud outburst.
Quite frankly, he didn’t give a shit! Shinji was more busy concerning about his companion’s well-being and safety than to care or listened what the old bastard had to say.
Shinji and Guy had gone separated with the rest of the team when they’d landed in Aquarius. They had been in the middle of trying to communicate via the device portal to regroup when they had been ambushed by a group of the Aquarius’s Knights.
The two had broke into a sprint rather than fighting their way out. They’d tried to lose the Knights while running in the forest. Unfortunately, numerous trap had been set within the woods for any trespassers and they’d instantly been caught and bought to the castle.
When the two of them had reached to the castle’s gates, Guy had been recognized immediately as the son of Luyas, and forcefully taken away by the guards to who knew where.
Shinji knew and aware of the bitter-hate relationship and rivalry between King Lewis and Lord Ranfel.
It wasn’t a secret that the two powerful leaders who constantly sought powers and tried to dominate and toppled one over another, loathed each other. Lately however, rumours had it that their relationship had gone from bad to worse.
The reason was still unknown.
According to the rumours that Shinji had heard, it also had something to do with the Spirit’s invasion.
What Shinji feared the most was not what would happened to him — he highly doubt that even King Lewis, who had a reputation of having a volcanic temper, knew better than to try and do anything to him.
Not after what the White Wolf Clan had inflicted to his Kingdom years ago.
What he most worried about was what they had done to Guy. Shinji himself had been cooped up somewhere with his eyes covered a while ago when he’d reached to the castle for about an hour or so, before he was being led to the Audience Chamber with the said King.
His worse fear was that his companion might be harmed and tortured just to get a kick from Lord Ranfel.
“Answer the bloody question, Shinji Karou!” King Lewis shouted angrily, now baring his teeth.
When Shinji said nothing, the King frustratingly snapped his finger to the guards at the nearby door.
Almost immediately, the doors were opened and the guards came in.
What happened next was a sight Shinji would never forget.
Guy was standing weakly with his face heavily beaten and his body and back were battered with scars from which Shinji had assumed he’d been whipped multiple times before.
“Now will you answer the question, Prince Shinji Karou?”
“You bastard!” Shinji clenched his teeth. If look could kill the King, he would have done more than just that.
His glare was as deadly as the blades pointed at his neck toward the heartless King.
“Time’s a wasting.” The ruthless King kept on tapping his long fingernail impatiently on the two chair’s handles.
When Shinji again said nothing, the King then ordered the guard standing nearby beside Shinji to deliver a powerful blow on his guts, causing the man to fall down his knees, and spitting out blood.
“I may not able to kill you, Prince Shinji, but that doesn’t mean that I will not enjoy seeing you getting down on your knees. And there are ways for me to do that without having to kill you.”
The King grinned. “All those years of what your Clan had done to my kingdom, watching you kneel down before me like this, is just much more enjoyable. Now, quit being stubborn and tell me why you are here or else it’s your friend who’s going to get it next. You and I both know he won’t last long. At least, not in his current condition.”
Shinji breathed in deeply.
It always against his nature to tell an enemy of his mission, he’d been strictly and properly taught and trained by the Clan to make sure not a word of a mission slipped out from his mouth even in a critical situation.
With all the training and punishments he’d to endure and put through, Shinji would rather have his tongue cut off or eyes pulled out than to spill it his mission.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t alone in this mission. It involved with another person － a friend.
Shinji glanced at Guy who had beaten so badly, it was hard to even recognise the man’s face, and he cringed.
Taking a deep breath, the young White Wolf Prince finally said, “We have come here under the orders of Master Oracle Fye to investigate the Martial Law that you have stupidly announced without anyone’s permission!”
King Lewis grinned widely and mischievously. A sense of satisfaction was plastered on his face. He snapped his finger and once again, the same guard delivered a blow to Shinji.
However, instead of his guts, this time around, he got punched on the face instead.
“There, there. See? It isn’t so hard to let it all out now, is it?”
King Lewis rose from his seat, and walked down the small stairs, heading toward Shinji who was kneeling on the ground, holding onto his bruising cheek.
The King walked around him in circle, like a predator circling his prey.
“So the great Master Oracle has decided to prey on matter that doesn’t concern him, does he? The little runt!” The King spat hatefully.
“What I do with my Kingdom is my own damn business! Neither he nor the House of Eden have any rights to tell me what I can or can’t do!”
“Except that what you’re doing is illegal and also forbidden.”
“Oh? And prey tell me what do you meant by illegal and forbidden?”
This time, it was Shinji who smirked. “Ever heard of Baron’s Portal?”
As soon as those words came out from his mouth, King Lewis’s face changed drastically. Gone was the smugness on his face as it was immediately replaced with a stern look and frosty gaze in his eyes.
“Not so smug now, aren’t you?” Shinji received a kick on the stomach by one of the guard for insulting the King. He spat a mouthful of blood on the floor, while holding his painful stomach.
Shinji ignored the mild glare the King gave him for tainting his floor, and met his gaze.
“Frankly speaking, I highly doubt the Master Oracle nor even Lord Eden could careless about what you’re doing in your Kingdom, for they have a bigger fish to fry. However, what brought the two of them to seek you out was the famous Baron’s Portal that had said to have mysteriously gone missing over the years. Of course, it wasn’t until couple of days ago that Lord Eden’s army had found a portal hidden inside the Luyas’s secret dungeon. It’d turned out to be a fake－a replica. A perfectly made replica from its original, except for one minor mistake. Do you wanna know what’s even more interesting?”
Shinji grinned widely at the sight of the nervous looking King. “They’d also found a very fine trademark seal on the portal. That’s right! Your Kingdom’s seal was on it!”
“RUBBISH! What proofs do you have that it has my Kingdom’s seal?!”
“Good question. Why don’t you ask the Master Oracle himself?”
Shinji snatched forcefully of the wristwatch on his right before any of the guards could do any more harm to him. His fingers pressed on a button at the side of the watch, and he watched as the watch fell down the ground and rolled near the King’s feet, the moment the guards tackled and surrounded him to the ground.
A holographic image of the Master Oracle Fye appeared in the air, coming from Shinji’s watch.
King Lewis’s eyes were widened. His jaws dropped at the holographic image before him. Even the guards that were holding down Shinji on the floor couldn’t hide their shocked looking faces.
It was Fye who eventually broke the silence by gasping out loud once he realized of the situation.
“What’s happening here?” A pair of hazel eyes fell on the still stunned-looking King before they turned to the White Wolf Prince, and finally to the beaten looking Guy at the back.
Fye let out another shocking gasp. “Your Majesty... Could you kindly explained why two are of my representatives are covered in blood and faces swollen?”
“Why, you asked?” King Lewis answered with a grim expression. “Why, if a person is caught trespassing your land uninvited and unwanted, wouldn’t you take an action against him, O’ Great Master Oracle? That’s what I’m doing! Taking an action like any King would have done!”
“Your action by putting the whole Kingdom under Martial Laws and cutting all connections from the outside world, and also putting up barriers around the Kingdom have raised suspicious among the House of Eden, Your Majesty. That is why I’ve sent those two over there to investigate the reason why.”
King Lewis snorted. “Huh. I don’t remember seeing any warranties coming from you. Hence, you have no rights whatsoever to do whatever you please to my Kingdom. Moreover, if I remember clearly, a Master Oracle is suppose to be on the Neutral ground and not siding with any party. If you’d decided to arrest me just because I shunned everybody away, isn’t it against the law for you as the Master Oracle?”
Fye remained serene and calm despite the accusation being said to him. His lips however, remained thin and firm. Hazel eyes stared unblinkingly at the cocky King.
“It’s true that those two have indeed trespassed your Kingdom under my orders and also without any warranties. It is also in your rights to capture and punished them as you see fit. Judging from what I can see here, clearly, you’ve done with the punishment, I assume?”
The King snorted. “You think?”
“Yet, I can’t help but to see that while you were busy punishing them; it seems that you’d put more rage into punishing the son of Luyas, specifically, Lord Ranfel’s son, than the White Wolf’s Prince. Even a blind man knows of your bitter relationship with Lord Ranfel has gotten even worse than before ever since the start of the invasion.”
Fye’s eyes narrowed. “Why is that?”
“Huh.” King Lewis snorted again. “So what if I’m more suspicious of why the hell is the Scion of Luyas doing on my land compared to that White Wolf Prince? Everyone in the whole Kingdom knows that Lord Ranfel is a back-stabber and repulsive arse! It’s his own damn fault that his son has to pay everything for what he’d done to this Kingdom!”
“What do you mean by that - Urgh!” Shinji got cut off by one of the guards who stepped one foot on his back, keeping him still on the ground.
“Your Majesty, what exactly has Lord Ranfel done to you that had caused you so much rage towards his innocent son? Does it has anything to do with the replication of the Baron’s missing portal that Lord Eden had found in a secret chamber underneath the Luyas’s castle? Please tell me-”
King Lewis’s outburst had caused the whole Chamber fell into deep silence. So silence that if a pin was to drop on the ground one could easily heard it.
Even the guards who had Shinji tackled down on the hard floor, remained quiet.
“Your Majesty,” Fye spoke again, carefully this time. “If you cooperate with us and tell us the truth of what exactly has Lord Ranfel done to you, we can help you with your burdens.”
“It is none of your damn Business!” King Lewis growled. “I don’t care if you are the Master Oracle! What I do in my Kingdom is my own bloody rights!”
“We can help you to solve the problem if you would just-”
“I don’t need you or anyone else’s to help me! That arse. He took away something from me. Something precious and irreplaceable. And I will not allow anyone to jeopardize my plan no matter what!”
His sharp greenish-grey eyes glared with much hatred toward Shinji.
“Lock him up!” One finger pointed at Guy. “And lock that one up as well.”
The guards nodded their heads. Before long, Shinji was being dragged on his feet by the guards to the exit.
Two guards released Guy from the iron pole and carried him away by the arms to the exit.
“And as for you,” The King took the wristwatch laying on the ground near his feet. “I think we have enough chat for the day.”
“Don’t do this, Your Majesty. There has got to be a way to solve and ends this conflicts!” Fye’s strongly protested. “If you would just tell us, we-”
“Farewell, Master Oracle.”
The King threw it hard and smashed the wristwatch to pieces using the heels of his boots. He then turned around and was just about to walk back to his throne when a guard approached him.
“Your Majesty. We’ve received a notification from the border; the Commandant and his Brigade would be returning today. Also, apparently the two intruders didn’t come alone. There seemed to be two more of them hiding in the forest. Report has it that one of those two is the Spirit Princess. Shall I sent the Knights to pursue them?”
“Pursue them and have them brought to me unharmed. I don’t want a single scratch on the Princess, you hear?”
“Understood!” The guard saluted and left.
As soon as the guards left the Audience Chamber, dragging the two intruders along with them, King Lewis stumbled back on his throne, and he sighed heavily.
The once scornful look on his face was replaced with tiredness. The King drew a long deep breath, and shut his eyes.
When he reopened them, glittering tears filled in them, as he sulked deepened into his seat.
One hand covered his face.
All alone, the King sobbed and muttered soft words that only he could hear.
“Medea. My sweet, sweet Medea. Please forgive me... Forgive me.”
Meanwhile, facing the blank screen, Fye was still in deep shock at the King’s previous action. At least now, he was convinced that King Lewis and Lord Ranfel had everything to do with the missing portal and probably the sudden cause of the Spirit Invasion.
All he needed to do now was to find out just what exactly Lord Ranfel had done to him, what drove the usually just King to act so hostile toward everyone and even created a barrier surrounded his entire Kingdom.
“Mathias, bring me every information you could find between a month before the Spirit Invasion up until now. I also want Lord Ranfel’s and King Lewis’s history backgrounds. Please have it ready for me as soon as possible. Also, please inform Lord Eden I have something urgently important that might help him with the interrogation and investigation of Lord Ranfel.
“As you wish, Your Highness.”
SOMEWHERE in the forest, at the East Coast of the Kingdom of Aquarius, a small brigade waving the flag of the Kingdom was marching toward the Castle. Leading the troop was a Nobleman named Ren.
He had a silky long dark violet hair tied in low ponytail, a pair of beautiful bright turquoise eyes. He wore a standard Commandant uniform.
Ren rode with pride on a black Stallion whom he’d named it Lex, who had been his loyal and trustworthy companion ever since his promotion from Captain to Commandant rank, a year ago.
Growing up was never been easy for the young Commandant. He was an orphan at an early age of five, and had lived in a small orphanage in Islez.
Ren had to struggle with other children for food and shelter. He grew up having to fight most of his life.
However, despite the harsh environment that he had to grow up with, Ren had never once forgotten his manners and cared greatly for other people. His sweet yet strict caretaker had made sure that he grew up to be an honourable young man before she’d passed away.
When Ren was twelve, a group of Knights from the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Aquarius, had come all the way to Islez for a surprise visit, for him.
It turned out that Ren was the long lost nephew of King Lewis XIII, the current Ruler of the Kingdom of Aquarius. His mother had been the Princess and also the younger sister of the King. She’d met and fell deeply in love with a young, humbled merchant.
Because of their status differences, the two had chose to elope and never returned to the Kingdom. Ever since their deaths, the King had been searching all over for his only nephew whom he’d never met.
It had been through wind of words of a young boy in Islez that resembled a lot like the beloved late Princess in the South Kingdom that the King had managed to finally found his nephew’s whereabouts and immediately had sent over the Knights to fetch him.
Upon learning his birth parents and heritage, young Ren had been torn between leaving the only village he’d called his home, or being with the only blood relative that he had left in this world.
He made up his mind however when the Village Elder, whom had raised him as if he was his own grandson, had told him:
“There are many places and people out there, young Ren. You may find some are good and others bad. However, know this; that no matter how great the places or the people are, if you ever find yourself lost out there; know that you can always find yourself back in this place where the people you’d called your family, and this village you’d called your home.”
A year after he’d departed from the village, Ren had found out the Elder had passed away peacefully in his sleep. He left all of his wisdom to Ren to be remembered while living in his new environment at the Castle.
While Ren had the Royal Bloodlines in his veins, he had not being kindly treated as a Royalty should be like the rest of the Royalty family.
The first few days after his arrival to the Kingdom, there had already been a mayhem; words about his deceased parents’ elopement had brought shame to the Kingdom and the Royal Family.
Despite the nasty words and rumours going on from inside and outside of the Castle, King Lewis XIII was very kind to his one and only nephew.
He treated the lad as if he was his own son and with much love and respect, which bewildered the young Ren greatly － for he had thought after all that his mother had done, the King would despised and be ashamed of him.
One night, when Ren could no longer take the pressure any more, he had taken bravely confronted the King in private regarding the matter.
The King’s next words had taken him greatly by surprise:
“It is true I’d been extremely upset and bitter with your mother’s behaviour for her OWN selfishness － for running away with another man, let alone a merchant, when the fact that she had been already engaged to a Foreign Prince. The broken engagement had almost caused us a war, had it not for the wise Master Oracle Loci’s help to settle things between us. However, when I’d heard about Susanne’s death...” Tears were running down on the King’s cheeks as he broke down and sobbed.
“...After all these years, not meeting my little sister and only to find out that she’d died in an accident.. My beloved sister is gone. Forever. There is no need to place the burden of my bitterness to the only link that I have left between me and her.”
Ever since that night, the night when Ren had confronted his uncle, he had been more content in living at the castle.
At the age of seventeen, much to Ren dismay, he had be made by the King to be the Second-In-Line Successor for the throne of the Kingdom of Aquarius, and preceded after his daughter, the Royal Heiress and the young cousin of Ren, Princess Medea.
Ren was very much against the idea of inheriting the throne. He was not interested in political affairs; a rebel side of him which many had said, came from his rebellious beloved mother.
Instead of inhering the throne, Ren was more interested in protecting the Kingdom; to becoming a Knight was his greatest dream since young.
When Ren had proposed the idea to King Lewis, the old King was of course, against it.
The two stubborn men went head-to-head on the matter for many days until after a few persuasions from his precious daughter, King Lewis had finally gave in and had agreed on the matter with a condition that Ren would be Princess Medea’s Guardian and Protector.
Ren couldn’t be even happier. After the Queen had passed away due to an illness a year after Ren had come into the family, he and the Princess were inseparable.
Being four years older than her, Ren had treated her like a sister he’d never had and the ones that he’d greatly missed back in Islez.
Within those years of climbing his way up to become a Knight that he’d desired to be, Ren had faced difficulties, challenges and disappointments. Yet, nothing could made him even happier after a long stressed and hard day of training, to return to the castle where he now called as his home, and looked after the young Princess Medea.
Ten years had long passed since he came to the Castle and became Medea’s Guardian. He knew everything about the Princess. Even the little things like how she often clenched her fists when she upset, or how she subconsciously stared at the sky whenever she thought of her beloved mother.
For Ren, watching the once tomboyish Princess grew up to become a sweet and lovely young Lady was an achievement he was so proud of.
It wasn’t until recently that Ren felt his heart being stabbed by a knife so deeply and cut it to pieces. Regrets so deep that he felt like he might just as well die than having to live on with it...
Ren blinked his eyes few times. One hand covered half of his face.
Damn. I thought of that again. He whispered quietly to no one.
With one hand still covered half of his face, Ren’s eyes wandered to his subordinates.
As a Captain, Ren vowed to himself not to show any weaknesses to the people who had put their trusts in him. He was strict and firm yet compassionate to his subordinates.
Sighed lowly, Ren decided he should be more focus and alert on hands instead of letting his head wandered around. He took a quick glance at their surroundings as they passed by when all the suddenly...
“Commandant!” One of the Knights on the further right of their formation called out.
“What’s wrong?” Ren approached the Knight on his horse.
The Knight pointed out behind the bushes; where a trail of bonfire was made. What were left were the ashes covered by dirt.
Ren’s lips turned firm. Pulling the reins, he made his way back to the front line while barking orders.
“Keep your eyes wide and open. Be on guards and stand firm!”
Ren’s eyes roamed wildly, searched for the intruder that have the nerves and dared to enter his territory. No one had ever entered his territory － Ren kept much closed eyes on the lands he protect.
Even since that day...
Something had shot the stallion on it’s back, caused it to let loud a desperate neighing sound.
Ren tried his hardest to calm his horse down when all the sudden, he felt himself being pulled by strong strings and was hanging a five feet from the ground.
The other Knights were stunned and shocked. Before any of them could put out a fight, a few hidden traps were activated.
Some of them fell into a big hole while others were hanging upside down in the similar net as Ren.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
The sounds of footsteps crushed the dried leaves, approaching them.
Two figures; one stood proudly with his signature smirk, while the other looked uncertain.
“See? I told ye they would fall for it!”
“Son of bitch.” Ren muttered lowly.
“Alright, Mika. So who do ya wanna eat first?”
At the mentioned of ‘eat’, the Knight’s eyes grew widen and turned pale as snow as their eyes fell at Mika.
“She’s a S-Spirit?!”
“P-Please don’t eat me! I have f-family!”
“Well, that certainly depends if ya people cooperate with us or not.” Kazuo’s grinned widened.
The Knights trembled in fear at Kazuo’s tone contrasted with his grin.
“I see you haven’t changed one bit!” Ren shouted out of nowhere.
“You knew them, Sir?” One of the Knights asked Ren.
Ren nodded his head reluctantly. “One of them, unfortunately.”
“My dear friends, y’all have just got ya arses handed over by a woman! Mika’s here was the one set up the traps and you fell for it!”
With both hands on his hips, Kazuo let out a roar of laughter, as he walked toward Ren.
Once he done laughing his butt off, Kazuo took out a small dagger.
Ren was bewildered when the man suddenly took out the dagger. It was then when he realised what the latter was trying to do and he struggled in panic to stop him.
Kazuo cut the net, not waiting for Ren to finish his last words when the strings broke and Ren landed hard on his back on the ground.
Using her quick skills, Mika cut off the nets and released the Knights. She stomped her foot on the ground and a ladder appeared on the mouth of the big hole.
“Sorry, man. We had to do it.” Kazuo offered a hand to Ren.
Ren looked at him strangely before he accepted the offer and got up on his feet. Once he made sure all of his men were all right, he turned to those two.
“What are you doing here?” Ren asked, unfriendly.
“Oh, we’re just passing by－”
“－Regardless your reasons, you are not allowed to be here. Please leave from where you came in. No outsider is allowed to come here.”
Ren turned and walked away when Kazuo suddenly pulled him by the shoulder, and turned back to face them.
“Hey! Is that how ya greet an old friend?” Kazuo scowled.
Ren pushed the hand on his shoulder. “Regardless, you two are unwanted in here. Go home!”
“Excuse me, Commandant.” A Knight came behind him and whispered something.
After a while, Ren nodded. “Very well. Tell him, I’ll do it my way.”
“Right away, Sir!” The Knight left with the message.
Ren let out a sigh.
“It seems there has been a changed of plan.” He smiled reluctantly. “You two are invited to the Castle by the King himself.”
“Invited?” Mika and Kazuo shared a common look.
“Yes. Is something wrong with it?”
“No, not really.” Mika shook her head.
Ren was unconsciously staring at the Spirit girl for a little bit longer after he had nodded. It wasn’t until something blocked his view from her that he realized he was staring.
“Hey, hey! Watch who ye staring at!” Kazuo put one palm in front of the Commandant, while another hand pulled Mika closer to him, protectively.
Ren raised an eyebrow and coughed slightly. “My apology, Kazuo. It was rude of me to stare at your woman.”
“We are travelling companions. But I am not his woman.”
Mika pushed Kazuo slightly away from her personal space which he’d invaded. Meanwhile, the said man just chuckled and patted her head like a child.
“Regardless, we should get going. It’ll take a while from here to the castle. I hope you don’t mind trekking.”
Mika waved her hand in the air, and smiled. “I’ve done a lot of walking, so don’t mind me.”
Ren nodded again. “All right. Let’s move out.”
Twenty minutes of trekking throughout the forest in triangle formation and in silence while being personally escort by the well-respected Commandant was awkward, so to speak.
No one spoke a word throughout the journey.
Mika and Kazuo had been in placed at the centre of the formation, surrounded by Ren’s Knights, while he led the formation at the front, riding on his black stallion.
Ren had offered the Princess a ride on his stallion earlier, but Mika had declined his polite offer.
“Something’s smell fishy here.” Kazuo whispered lowly. “That bastard is definitely hiding something. I’m getting more worried about Shinji and Guy, but we should be more concern about our situation. Keep your guards up.”
Kazuo had mentioned earlier how he, Ren and Shinji had known each other way back. They were friends and acquaintances. Kazuo and Ren had grew up together in the Village of Islez.
In fact, Kazuo had known Ren longer than before he met Shinji.
Ever since he’d been adopted to the Royal family and moved away to Aquarius, they rarely see each other. He hadn’t seen the man since he was twelve, and only heard news about his developments throughout the years.
As a friend, he was proud of him. Kazuo knew Ran deserved to be for what he had worked so hard for. As a person however, that was something that had not yet to decide.
After about twenty minutes of trekking, they’ve finally arrived at the Castle. The castle was very exotic. It was unlike the many castles that Mika had been before － ever since she had secretly recovered her memories without anyone’s knowledge.
Not even Shinji knew about it.
At least she’d hoped he didn’t.
It was the only castle that was in the forest. Though the castle looked very nice and exotic, Mika couldn’t help but to feel something was not right with it.
As she waited for the guards to open the gates and announced their arrivals, Mika gazed at the faces of the other Knights. One on her right particularly, looked scared and his body was even slightly shaken.
That’s odd. Why would he be terrified? Did something happened here?
“Commandant Ren! Welcome back, Sire.” The guard opened the gates for them to enter. Without words, they continued to walk into the Castle.
AT of the dungeon beneath the castle, was where Shinji being held, inside a cell. The cell was dusty, old, and had not been used for a long time.
Fortunately, he not alone in the cell.
After the meeting that gone wrong with the King, Shinji and Guy were taken away by the guards to the dungeon and being kept in there for who knows how long.
The sound of clothes being torn could hear clearly from the cell. Shinji torn off more of his sleeves. Using the cloth that he had torn from his sleeves, he used it as a bandage and wrapped it on his friend’s wounded head.
His forehead was sweating. With one hand glowing in light green, he put his hand on Guy’s chest.
Shinji glanced at the big wound on his friend's chest. Even though the bleeding had long stopped, it still in need of a proper treatment.
He winched. He had used at least a good amount of his strength to heal the bleeding wounds on the man's body.
It already taken troll on him to heal all of the wounds, that Shinji was beginning to see double visions.
Damn it. Shinji cursed lowly, holding his dizzy head.
He looked at the weak man on his left; Guy was losing his consciousness every now and then, due to the loss of blood.
“Guy.” Shinji shook the man. “Guy, wake up.”
He shook harder. “Wake up. Guy!”
Guy blinked his eyes a few times weakly. He looked at Shinji and forced a smile.
“Sorry. It seems I’ve lost my consciousness without my knowledge.”
“It’s fine. Can you open your mouth for a bit?”
Guy nodded and slowly, opening his mouth.
Shinji searched for something inside his inner chest pocket. He hoped it didn’t fall down when the guards had examined them for trespassing the castle yesterday.
They had been rough and forceful. It’d taken Shinji every last inch of his nerves not to pull the trigger at those sons of bitches, no matter how much his brain argued that they were just doing their job.
Aha! Found it.
Shinji took out a small ball-like pill from his pocket and handed it over to Guy.
“I need you to eat it.”
Guy took the pill and examined it carefully. “What is this?”
“My Clan’s special medical drug known as the ‘Black Stone’. It makes your body feels numb and boosts your energy. I’m losing my own strengths, so I can’t help you healing the big wound on your chest. This medicine is forbidden to be use for an outsider because of the side-effect.”
“What’s the side-effect?”
“The drug will lasts for only three hours. Once the effect is gone, and if your wound still not treated or if it got even worse before we can get it treated by then, you will die.” Shinji stared hard at him. “Are you willing to take that risk?”
Guy thought for a minute before he popped the pill into his mouth and swallowed.
“You won’t let me die that easily. I trust you.”
“Thanks. Try not to push yourself, though.”
Nodding, Guy slowly pushed himself up. It had taken him a minute to be able to sit up. Nevertheless, when he did manage to perfectly sit up, he already felt the effect of the drug.
As if there weren’t any injuries on his body at all!
Next, Guy tried to get up on his feet. Still okay. Then, he tried to jump; started off by hopping, and then a real jump when he cringed at the pain of his chest.
“Careful,” Shinji warned. “You still have internal bleeding. I’ve made you feel numb, not painless.”
“Ah, right. Apologies, Shinji. In any case, shall we try and find a way out of this cell and dungeon.”
Shinji popped one Black Stone into his mouth and swallowed. He then walked to the walls and patted his hands against it.
“I can break these walls. Stand back.”
Shinji got into a position. Gathering his chi to make a moderate size blast, he placed his hand against the wall.
It cracked, and then exploded into tiny pieces. Before long, there was a hole big enough for them to fit in.