A small gathering was being held at the Kingdom of Luyas in order to celebrate the return of a respectful Brigade, known as the ‘Black Panther Brigade’, from their three months of intensive trainings from the harsh weather in the Northern Continents.
Led the Black Panther Brigade was a respectful Knight loved by many, Captain Guy Heartlets, the only son of the Governor, Lord Ranfel XII.
It has been weeks. Far too long since I’ve left home. I wonder how everybody’s doing? How I missed them to bits!
Light chestnut eyes looked up to the evening sky. His curtained, dark chocolate hair shone brightly by the sunlight.
The Knight wore a standard Captain Uniform: a Royal blue with two white stripes around the sleeves, two shoulder plates, an upper-cut metal armour, and a dark brown leather belt around his waist, where he placed his weapon, a spear.
Lastly, he wore a black pants and a pair of old military boots.
The twenty year old Captain was riding his black stallion. With a warm smile, he bowed at the townspeople whom kindly welcomed them into the town.
One left hand reached out to the small hidden pocket of his pants. His fingers curled at the small wrapped gifts he had been dying to give to the three women who owed his very heart.
No matter where he went in this world, those women would always be in his mind and heart.
For the Intensive Training session this time around, the Captain and his men had to travel quite far from their comfort zone, all the way to the cold Northern Regions.
As if it wasn’t bad enough, they had been forced to overstay their stayed at the camp for an extra week due to the bad blizzard during this time of the month.
Guy was really relieved and glad when the three months of Intensive Training had finally come to an end in the blink of an eye. The Captain had unashamedly admitted that he was getting really homesick, and was really looking forward to come back home.
Guy missed Luyas, the people, and most of all, his family terribly. He absolutely couldn’t wait to see them again.
As the sight of Luyas’ castle gates approaching them, Guy got off his stallion. He thanked the horse for its services before giving it to a servant who greeted and welcomed him home, and then he disbanded his Brigade.
He took a long deep breath, before exhaled and took few steps into the Castle’s gates. As soon as he entered, he was being announced by an older Knight standing at the entrance of his returned.
“Young Master Guy has returned! Welcome home, Young Master.”
Guy smiled gleefully at the announcer and thanked the Knight for welcoming him back home.
Good to be home, at long last!
The Head Servant, a grey haired, plump, middle-aged woman with a face as bright as the sun, smiled cheerful as she approached him.
“Welcome back home, Young Master Guy. My, it has been a while since the last time I’ve seen you! You’ve grown so handsomely with a little stubble!” Her hands reached out to the little stubble on his chin.
“Thank you, Nana.” Guy pulled Nana, into a bear hug. “I’m glad to see your health is getting better as well since the last time I saw you. How have you been? I’ve missed you terribly!”
Nana softly chuckled in delight. “Well, my dear. You know nothing could ever stop me from greeting my favourite man in the whole wide world, who has just came back from his long and hardcore trainings. You must be extremely tired. Shall I go and prepare your meals, Young Master?”
Guy nodded gleefully.
“That would be lovely, Nana. Thank you. Oh, silly me, I almost forgot!” He reached for his pants’ pocket, and took out a small box. “Here’s a present for you, Nana.”
He handed her the box.
“Thank you, my dear. You shouldn’t have bothered.”
“Open it, Nana!” Guy urged excitedly.
Nana smiled warmly at the young man and opened the box. Inside, the was a beautiful amethyst stone with small carved letters that read:
'For my beautiful Nana. With loves and always.’
“This is a very thoughtful gift, Young Master. Thank you so much.” Nana pitched the young man’s cheek affectionately.
Being the woman who’d raised both him and his sister, the two of them had looked upon to the elderly woman as their mother-figure.
Guy gave the plump woman another warm hug before he released her.
“I’ll see you a little bits, Nana. I’m going to see the girls. I can’t wait to see their faces when they see the presents I’ve bought for them!”
At the mentioned of the two girls, Nana felt in a silence. She recovered, but not quick enough for Guy had already fled the scene before she could stop him.
Nana held the amethyst stone in her palms with a sad expression.
Shaking her head, she headed back to the kitchen to prepare the Young Master’s favourite meals.
Light quick footsteps echoed the corridors and hallways. Everywhere he went, Guy was greeted and welcomed warmly by the servants.
The young man continued with his quest in search for his siblings. Guy had forgotten to ask Nana earlier if any of his siblings were in the Castle at the moment.
Ah well. Might as well look around for them then. He simply shrugged.
Guy made his way to the second floor where all theprivate chambers were, when out of the blue, he heard someone desperately calling out for his name from the stairs below.
“Young Master! Young Master Guy! Please wait!”
Guy halted and quickly turned around as he recognised the voice calling him.
“Nana?" He rushed down to the plump woman who desperately gasping for air. “Nana! Are you all right? What are you doing running like you’ve seen a ghost? Is everything okay?”
Nana took a deep breath. Her face filled with sadness and guilt. She held his arms tightly.
“I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t be telling you this! I could get into a very serious trouble with your Father, but I can’t! It is killing me inside!”
“Hold on, Nana. Take a deep breath, and tell me what’d happened. What do you mean by you would get into a serious trouble with Father?”
Nana looked at him with tears streaming down her cheeks. Calming down, she spoke in a soft whispering voice.
“I can’t stand the look on your face when you found out afterwards... About Miss Mika.”
“What do you mean, Nana? Whatever happened to Mika?”
Heavy footsteps stomped on the polished concreted floors. The servants were busily cleaning up the hallways stopped immediately at what they were doing.
They were utterly shocked by the sight of the gentle, calm and collected Captain Guy was stomping his way throughout the hallways with a grimace expression.
Guy held on a sharp and deadly gaze as he headed toward his destination. He never felt so much anger for a very long time.
The last time he’d ever felt this way was when he was ten.Back then, he was a confused and difficult child filled with hatred and bitterness.
However, ten years had long passed, and with the full support and guidance of the kind people around him, Guy had gradually changed and grown to become a kind, polite, and well-mannered young man that he was today.
Guy finally arrived at the front of two heavily guarded door where an important meeting conference was being held at the moment.
He took a long deep breath.
The guards who were guarding the doors had kindly ask him to leave, or wait until the meeting was over, but Guy refused and insisted that he needed to see with that man.
Exhaled deeply, Guy opened the chamber doors. Ignoring their warnings, he stepped inside and shut the doors.
“And now, let’s hear the report from General Lurthel’s Brigade-”
The doors of the chamber interrupted the meeting.
“Father!” All eyes were on the young Captain.
Guy approached the round meeting table. His sharp gaze never left his target sitting at the centre of the table.
“Guy. I wasn’t aware that you’ve returned. And you haven’t yet changed your clothes. Where are your manners, boy?” Lord Ranfel replied coldly.
He did not bothered to look at nor properly greeted his one and only son, and only continued to write down something on the parchments in his hands.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you while you’re in a meeting, Father.” Guy spoke a moment later, in strained voice. “But I believe there’s something that you’ve forgotten to inform me about. Something regarding Mika?”
Lord Ranfel’s fingers stopped writing the notes at the mentioned of the young Spirit’s name of whom he had exiled. Ever so slowly, he lifted his head and met with his son’s cold gaze.
There was anger and annoyance in the Lord's eyes, as he breathed in and out heavily.
With his teeth gritted, Lord Ranfel said, “It seems my son has demanding my attention at this very moment, gentlemen.”
He put down the parchments and straightened his back against the seat.
“Proceed by patrolling over the necessarily areas and report back to me at once should there be any suspiciously activities occurs.”
“Yes, Milord.” the Generals bowed before they all stood up and left the chamber.
Guy waited until all of them left before he approached his father.
“Why hadn’t I be informed of the situation that had happened in Andania? And what possible reasons do you have to have Mika exiled from this Kingdom?”
“Where did you heard this from? Nana? Honestly that woman! After I’d warned her not to tell you!”
“It’s a good thing she’d decided to tell me. How dare you threatened to have her exiled too, Father!”
“The reason why I didn’t bothered to you about this because I do not want such little matters to be affected on your trainings! You may not have known this, son, but you have the tendency to lost your head whenever it concerns the Spirit girl. Moreover, I have managed to handle the situation well, didn’t I? That is the reason why I’d ordered everyone not to tell you. I’d wanted to wait until you’ve returned to tell you about it. You have improved so much in your leadership skills these past few months.”
Guy gawked unbelievably at the words that came out from his father’s mouth.
"’Little matters,′ Father? This is Mika－your adoptive daughter we’re talking about whom you’d taken under your care for six years, and had since then, became my little sister! Why didn’t anyone from the House of Heartlets backed her up when she was cornered? Why didn’t you backed her up?”
“Because she’s a bloody Spirit that’s why! A cold, blood-thirsty Spirit that went mad and created chaos in the town Andania! For goodness’s sake! Open your eyes, boy! A Spirit who’d massacred half of an entire town just because of what, she suddenly loss control of herself while trying to play the role of a heroine? She’d better be grateful to Grants who had pleaded mercy on her behalf so that she won’t be executed immediately!” Ralph barked angrily.
“Honestly. That man has gone too soft! If it was for me, she would have been gone with her head by now!”
Guy stared at his father silently. He was baffled by the cruel and mean words that came out of his mouth. He knew his father was a Master of disguise; a poker-face. He spoke kindly to his people and subjects but talked trash behind their backs.
In truth, Lord Ranfel was a greedy man hungered for power he was willing to do anything and even go to extreme length in order to reach for his goals.
Guy also knew his father had the public fooled by letting them think highly of him; how kind and generous of him to have Mika adopted into the Heartlets’ family when she was found in front of the Castle Gates.
The old bastard had even claimed that he did that out of sympathy for the poor child, but Guy begged the differ.
In reality, his father had done it just to boost his ego and pride. If anyone saw the real him, no one would want to support him.
Guy could still remembered of how he’d overheard what his father said to Mika one fine night in his private office.
How the gentleness of his voice contrasted with the intention of his heart:
“You know Mika, if I hadn’t adopted you on that fateful day, you wouldn’t be alive right now. You do know that the only thing that’s keeping you alive is because of me, do you? That is why, you must not to bring any shames to either me or the family. If ever, you failed to do so, then I will not be hesitate to kick you out of this place in a single heartbeat.”
“You are a cruel man, Father...” Guy whispered softly.
“You took Mika into the House of Heartlets so you could scare away your enemies. You’d listed her into the Academy just so she would be strong enough to fight your battles, but you’d forbade her to participate any of the intensive trainings because you were afraid that she might turned against you someday. And when things like this happened, you’d turned your back on her and simply disowned her like she’s some kind piece of trash! You are nothing but a hypocrite and cruel MAN! I will not stand here and do nothing while you continuously humiliate her any further!”
Guy’s eyes grew widened. He felt a sharp stung on his left cheek as his hand reached to touch it.
“Watch your tongue with me, boy. It is because of me that both you and your younger sister get to live in luxury, fame, and glory!” Ralph roared.
“Those are what you wanted, Father! Luna and I never needed such things! All we ever wanted was a responsible father! Unfortunately, that seems to be a bit too much for a man like you to handle.”
Guy stomped toward the door and angrily opened it. He stopped at the entrance, turned around to look at his father and for the first time in his whole life, Guy hissed at him with such hatred tone in his voice.
“Don’t you dare ever to compare Luna and me to the likes of you!” He slammed the door and stomped out. All the while ignoring his father’s howling obscenity words at him.
GUY swore frustratingly as soon as he walked out of that room. He felt like his every being was readily to burst out of control.
He wanted to hit something.
To vent out the anger and frustration he had inside all because of what his father had done.
Guy closed his eyes and breathed in and out slowly.
In and out.
Guy repeated these simple steps for few times before he finally calmed down his nerves and finally letting out a sigh.
If only... If only I had been there for Mika, this would never happen in the first place.
Regret began to eat him up. When Nana had told him what happened to Mika, Guy felt his heart crushed. How could this have happened? Why didn’t anyone helped her out?
Sighed, Guy decided the best way to get over the dilemma he was in was to talk with the man partly responsible for what happened, and to the man he was thankful for.
With the idea set in his mind, Guy set out to look for the one Commandant Grants Rogue.
Commandant Grants Rogue was a very busy man. His daily routines including the training regime for the Knights, patrolling the areas, accepting missions from Lord Ranfel, and writing endless reports that need to be submitted.
While he didn’t usually mind doing the paper works, things in Luyas have drastically changed since three months ago. There were new adjustments that was added to the system, thus, his workloads had greatly increased.
Grants was ultimately grateful to have his Second-In-Command who was helping him out with his workloads in every possible ways that she could.
Right now, both of them were stuck in his office, sorting and signing paperwork of the many stacks of on the Commandant’s table, when they were interrupted by a few loud knocks on the door.
The door opened and closed with a light bang. Grants stopped writing as soon as the young man’s shadow approached his table.
“Captain Guy. To what do we owe you this pleasure?” Claire was the first to ask.
She and the Commandant have heard of the young Captain returned earlier of the day but hadn’t be able to greet him in person due to the works.
Instead of meeting with the laid-back, bright Captain, Claire was surprised to see the dark and stern look on his face.
Guy cleared his throat. “I need to speak with the Commandant alone. If you don’t mind, Madam.”
Claire immediately stood up and headed toward the door. “I’ll be outside if you need me, Sir.”
As soon as Claire left the room, the tension in the air increased between the two men. Grants gently rubbed his aching forehead.
“I know why you come here, boy.” Guy waited patiently for the Commandant to continue.
Grants heavily sighed. “Unfortunately, I’m afraid I’ll have to agree with Lord Ranfel this time.”
“Listen carefully, young Captain. One of the things I’d learned throughout the years of becoming a Commandant is that one cannot grieves over the loss of one man when there are still others whose lives depend on you. If you grieve over the loss of a Knight, what will become the rest who are still alive instead of one who’s already dead? It may sounds unfair, but that’s life. You got me, Captain?”
As much as Guy respected the older man who acted more of like a father figure to both him and Luna, than his own father ever would, he couldn’t comprehend what he’d just being told, and felt angered by it.
Guy clenched his fists.
“With all due respect, Sir, Mika is not just a Knight. She is an important member of the Heartlets family, Best of all, she is my younger sister!”
“You do aware that you two aren’t really blood related, don’t you, Master Guy? The moment Mika stepped her foot outside of this castle, she has no relations whatsoever to the Heartlets’ family. Not to you nor to Luna or Lord Ranfel. Only here inside this castle do people treated her like one of you because this is where your home is.”
“I’m quite aware of that, Commandant. Regardless of who she is, I still consider Mika is my sister, despite our blood ties and status.”
“You don’t need to burden yourself with this.” Grants frowned deeply at the young man before him.
“You and I both know and had planned to send Mika away where she would be a lot safer to be outside than anywhere else in Luyas. Mika is a survivor, Guy. If she could survived living in this place, this hell-hole where she’d been constantly taunted and hatred for what she is, she would survives whatever being thrown at her over there. This is just your protective brotherly instinct talking.”
Guy looked defeated. He knew the Commandant was right. Mika would be a lot safer outside than she’d ever be in Luyas. Despite all that, he still couldn’t accept the fact that the Commandant would let her go so easily without a fight.
For as long as he’d known the Commandant, he’s the type of man who was very protective of his subordinates. He would defend them from other brigades, even willing to go for a great lengths for them.
So why didn’t he stopped her for leaving?
“May I ask you something, Commandant?”
“Why didn’t you stop her from leaving? I’ve heard from father that you shown mercy to spare Mika’s life from being executed. Why didn’t you stopped her from leaving then?”
Grants pitched the bridge of his nose. He was expecting the question to come, of course.
What troubling him now was how would the young reacted if he told her it was all because of the White Wolf Clan that he’d been forced to hand Mika over－to ensure her life not being threatening by anyone else for the matter.
“There’s something you should know, Master Guy.” He took out a scroll from his desk and handed it over to Guy. “I will be in grieve trouble should your father hears about this. This isn’t something that I should be telling you this in the first place.”
“You can trust me.” Guy firmly nodded.
Grants swore to himself and sighed.
“A month after the Spirits’ attack in Andania, Lord Ranfel had unexpectedly received a letter. The letter was written in ‘Ancient Aspaniac’ — the language that was once used by the Spirits. Your father had immediately hired scholars to translate the letter and he’d received the biggest shock of his life: the Royal Spirit Family has demanded that we return their long lost Princess or they would torch our land like they’d done so in Andania. They’d also promised your father that should he chose to ignore this, there will be a full scale war waiting for him at his front door.”
“A princess? Y-You mean...”
Grants gravely nodded. “As hard as it was for me to believe it, who else is there for the most obvious reason? Was there any other Spirits left remained that we do not know about before this whole fiasco happened? None. When you think about it though, the whole thing makes perfectly sense; the Spirits are here because they want their Princess back.”
The young Captain looked down at his slightly shaken fists.
“Nana told me you went to see Mika once after she was exiled to inform her of the news. How was she?”
“She’s fine. Slightly thinner, but healthy.” Grants lent back on his seat, eyes looking at the young Master sternly.
“There’s something you’re not telling me.” Guy stared back at him. “Please. I need to at least know that she’s safe from harms’ way.”
“You know that it’s impossible. I could only tell you though, the family Mika is currently staying, is able to offer her more protection than the two of us combined could possibly offered her. She’ll be safer with them.”
“Tell me where can I find her. I would like to pay her a visit, at least for the last time.”
“Young Master, if you don’t have anything else to discuss, I would be much appreciated if you leave so that I may be able to finish this never-ending tasks.”
“Tell me!” Guy slammed his fists on the desk and stood up angrily.
“I can’t tell you!” Grants’ voice boomed in his office. His outburst caused the young captain to grow highly suspicious. Guy raised an eyebrow and stubbornly crossed his arms.
“There are strict protocols that must be followed to ensure her safety, Young Master. Not everything is all clean on the surfaced.”
“Does father knows about this?”
“He does, and he’s clearly not happy with it. He knows only what I’d told him though. Not the whole story.”
Intrigued, Guy uncrossed his arms and sat back down.
The Commandant shifted uncomfortably on his seat. He cleared his voice and said, “You should know better that we do not make contacts with the White Wolf Clan.”
A chair fell back and landed on the floor in a loud bang as Guy abruptly stood up again.
“What?” His voice was icily cold.
Grants narrowed his eyes. Internally, he was amused by the anger and shock displayed on the young Captain’s face.
“It was them who had taken Mika in after her exiled. With her under their protection, no one would dared enough to touch her without facing the Clan’s wrath. Not even your father. However, Lord Ranfel isn’t willing to give up so easily. That is why, your father has been busied himself with meetings with his Generals. He gathered his strongest men to find a way to capture Mika and bring her back here, by will or force.”
Guy brushed his hair frustratingly.
“That’s what I’d told Lord Ranfel. What I didn’t tell him, is that Mika is no longer living in the White Wolf Mansion. A little bird had informed me that apparently, she is on a quest to find her way home back to the Spirit World.”
“Is she alone?” Guy asked after a short pause.
“No. She’s not alone. the Prince of the Clan is accompanying her.” Grants stacked the papers neatly to his left. “Regardless, your duty remains here as the Captain. You will not-”
“No!” Guy walked to the door. “For a moment, I’d wanted to follow your orders, Sir. I wanted not to see Mika again for her own sake. But the moment you mentioned the White Wolf Clan, I could not wait any longer than to find her and protect her myself from the barbaric clan!”
“If you walk out that door and leave to find her, you will be doing something very regretful, Master Guy. Think wisely what you’re doing. Stay.”
Guy opened the door, to find a surprised Claire who was at her desk, looked questionably at both of them.
“I’m very sorry, Commandant. I know my action might seen as a betrayal to everyone. However, I have to do what I feels right at the moment.” He shut the door and took off wordlessly like a flying bullet.
Claire got up from her seat outside, and rushed inside.
“Commandant? Did something happened?”
Grant sat back on his seat, massaging his headache. “Painkiller. Could you get me my painkillers please? Thanks.”
GUY had just finished packing everything he might needed for the long trip. He took another look at his baggage before nodding to himself.
Looking at his bedroom chamber one last time, guy picked up his bag and then walked out of the room.
Guy strolled down the corridors, where he bid farewells to the servants and to the sobbing Nana, who worried about him leaving after he’d told her about his plan to find Mika.
To ease her worries, Guy made a promise to the elderly woman that he would returned in one piece safe and sound.
The young captain was reaching the back door of the Castle, when he stopped. Standing between him and the door was someone whom he was not ready to meet with yet.
Chestnut eyes met with puffy and slightly red light blonde eyes filled with guilt. She was dressed in a long night gown, covered by a robe. Guy had heard from Nana that his sister had been caught by a cold since two days ago.
While he was worried and wished her well for her recovering, at the moment, he wished not to speak with her.
Guy walked toward the door while intentionally ignored her. As he passed by, he felt a pair of hands reached out and pulled his sleeves.
Guy stopped. He didn’t bother to turn his head around when he heard the girl’s weeping voice softly speak.
“Please say something. Anything is fine. I can handle Father’s ignorance... But not to your silence treatment. Shout at me all you want. Just say something. Please...”
Guy subconsciously gripped his hand. He looked down at the stoned ground. It saddened him to be like this toward his sister whom he loved dearly.
However, it hurt him more for what she’d done to the person they both considered as a part of their family.
“As your superior, I can forgive you for being reckless as the Captain of your brigade and left your team-mates behind. It was, after all, your first battle against enemies as powerful as the Spirits. I understood how terrified the battle must have been for you and how frightened you were. Clearly, you have a very long way to go before you could even consider of getting a promotion to a Captain.”
Luna mutely nodded. Her eyes looked up to her brother, silently asking for his forgiveness.
“However, as your brother, I still cannot forgive you and could hardly believe that you of all the people would do such things to Mika.”
Her eyes widened. Her hope of asking to be forgiven shattered.
Guy finally turned around to look at her. His bore a disappointed look on his face.
“You’d left her. You’d even said cruel words to her－to your best friend! Probably the only true friend whom you ever had who appreciated and liked you for who you really are and you threw her away like a useless sack!”
Tears began to roll on her cheeks. Luna flinched at his every words.
“At the very least you have me to look after you if anything were to happen this Kingdom,Luna. But what about Mika? She has no family to turn to, no friends to give her a helping hand. No shoulders to cry on. No one except us! Mika doesn’t belong in Fulaina, and she knew darn well about that. Nevertheless, she tried her best to live in this world who hated her for what she is! Why? Because she knew that even if the world turned against her, she knew she could always count on us to always be there for her. For you to be there for her. I don’t know what you said to her that day, but whatever it was, Luna, I’d imagined, it must have cut her very deeply, to think the one person that she’d thought always be there for here, had told her off like that.”
Guy let out a breath after his speech. He began to walk away when Luna once again stopped him.
“Where are you going off to?”
“I am going on a solo unauthorized mission. I do not know when I will return, but I won’t stop looking until I find Mika. In the meantime, I do hope you find a way to ask for Mika’s forgiveness when she returns. Until then, take good care of yourself, sister.”
Once Guy was out of her sight, Luna finally broke down and fell on her knees. She let the tears rolled down her cheeks as the words her brother had said to her sunk in.
She had done it this time. Her Commander had put her on prohibition, and now, her brother had left her.
She was alone now.
Wiping tears away, Luna stood up and was about to head back to her chamber when she heard a loud trumpet sound coming from the top tower of the castle alerted her. Quickly, she rushed to look to at the window where she saw the Knights were running heading toward the field; all lined up in two rows, with weapons in hands.
Hurriedly wanted to see what the commotion was about, Luna rushed to her chamber, climbed on the ladder that led her to the rooftop.
From there, she quickly rushed to the castle’s bridge. The two guards who were in charge of overseeing the castle and its surroundings currently unavailable.
Luna stopped the moment she turned to look at the view.
She gasped loudly, and almost fell on her back at the sight before her. Wasting no time, Luna got back on her feet and left the bridge to warn the others.
At Luyas’ Southern Borders, a swarm of the Spirit’s army completely with war gears, were marching toward them.