Story: Tales of Darkness - The Knight's Redemption (all chapters)

Authors: Rhanar Narra-Jar

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Chapter 1

Title: Chapter - The Messenger

[Author's notes: A normal day at Nightwind Manor, or is it?
A messenger arrives at the front door, carrying a tied scroll, ordering Allisia back to the royal capital Sarrania for an apparent charge of high treason to the crown.]

"Your move, Faris" Allisia said, her and Faris having engaged in a game of chess, Faris looking quite pleased with herself as she moved a pawn a square upwards.

"I'll get your queen soon, Miss Metal..." she grinned satisfied as she waited for Allisia to make her move.

"Hmm, quite tactical; you surprise me, Faris" Allisia mumbled, focused on her position on the board.

"Let me see..." Allisia nodded to herself, moving her bishop down four squares, taking one of Faris' rooks.

"It's a real pain mixing both offense and defense, is it not?" Allisia grinned, Faris replying in kind; chess really were a game of both wits and tactical ability.

"Hmm, lemme see...oh! Oh, I gotcha now...!" Faris smirked, moving her bishop five squares up, Allisia's king caught unable to move between three pawns.

"Gods! I should have forseen this..." Allisia scolded herself, teasing Faris with a wink; "...OK, you got me fair and square; now what did you want if you won, again?"

"Hmmm, need you really ask?" Faris teased, slowly pushing the board away, leaning over to Allisia, kissing her cheek and winking at her.

"Well, you won your price, so I will honour our agreement" Allisia said, smiling to herself as it was a pleasent change; to lose might even have been better than to have won...

"Concentrate; don't lose your focus!" Shica said, her and Jiraz schooling Jisha in her newly found demonic powers.

"OK, but where am I gonna...?" Jisha asked between gritted teeth, finally looking at torch in the room's other end; concentrating as best she could, she aimed her demonic flame in that direction as it flew from her hands towards the torch.

"Str-r-r-rike!" Jisha exclaimed happily, her mothers noticing the large scorch marks on the wall behind the torch.

"...Ye-e-ep; she sure has the spark for it" Jiraz grinned, proud of her daughter.

"I begin to think you could prove quite a good sorceress with all that power of yours, Jisha" Shica nodded at her daughter, who smiled shyly, rubbing her head.

"Well, I'm just glad uncle Rhannie found out to unlock my potentional for magic; I didn't even think I had it in me!" Jisha grinned, Jiraz and Shica exchanging looks; Rhanar Narra-Jar, Shica's brother and thus uncle to Jisha, had used his Mystic and mental powers to reach into Jisha's mind, unlocking her demonic heritage from Jiraz and Shica.

"Let's see what else I've got!" Jisha eagerly smiled, sparks of Dark Magic lightning forming in her right palm as she juggled from right to left and back again.

"Careful, now; don't take too many risks" Shica adviced, the sparks becomming larger and harder for Jisha to control.

"Oh-oh, I think I gotta cut loose..." Jisha said nervously, aiming the sparks at the wall near the torch; in a small, dark-purple explosion, the lightning blasted a tiny hole in the solid stone wall, Jisha amazed at both controlling Chaos and Dark magic.

"This is fucking amazing! I'm getting the kicks outta this!" Jisha laughed happily, Jiraz and Shica both admiring their daughter's progress...

...Yet at the same time seeing the danger if Jisha were ever to be angry, making them grin as they wondered how it would turn out...

Siriki ran as fast as her legs would carry her; this had continued for nearly two intense minutes, somewhat scolding herself to agree to Chinyi's silly game of tag.

"I'm gonna get you, Siriki!" Chinyi's chuckling voice could be heard not five meters behind her; grinning, Siriki decided to bolt for her own room and hide.

"I'm faster than you, kitty! Don't run your paws off!" Siriki teased over her shoulders, distracted as she almost tumbled over a carpet, quickly regaining her balance.

"Oh, I'm gonna getcha for that one, Siriki!" Chinyi's voice were heard, Siriki glad to hear it sound slightly more distant, meaning she had gained the upper hand.

Bolting up the stairs, Siriki darted for her room not ten meters from the stairs, hoping Chinyi had not seen her.

Closing the door, Siriki's skin were wet with sweat as she tossed herself on her bed, partly hoping Chinyi would find her, partly hoping she could just catch her breath a moment.

"I'm not really that dumb, Siriki..." Chinyi's teasing voice were heard outside the door, Siriki grinning to herself, knowing fully well what was to come next.

Entering Siriki's room, the equally exhausted Chinyi stood panting in the door, closing it and dragging herself over to Siriki, tossing herself down besides her, the two girls giggling at each other for their creative 'improvement' of the classic tag game.

"Siriki, my reward..." Chinyi grinned, Siriki sighing, shaking her head and smiling playfully as she began taking off her shirt, baring herself the now even more excited Chinyi.

"Mistress Narrisha! I gotta talk to you!" Narru pleaded, Narrisha looking up from her bed sheets, Lillian and Innoki looking slightly disappointed with the interuption.

"Hmm? Yes, what is it, Narru?" Narrisha asked, not too happy to be disturbed while having her fun.

"There's a stranger at the door, and he says he wants to talk to Miss Allisia" Narru informed, Narrisha's eyebrows raising a bit.

"A stranger, huh? Well, I'd better go meet him..." Narrisha sighed, turning to Lillian and Innoki; "...I'm really sorry, girls; say, why don't you play a bit until I come back?"

Stepping out of bed, Narrisha grabbed her black dress and shawl as well as her boots; she needed not dress completly formally.

"Uhmm..." Innoki moaned, now a target of Lillian's slightly dominative lovemaking; with her breasts bared, Innoki felt as the head maid truly enjoyed herself, Innoki smiling at the thought of her eventual payback.

"So someone wants to see me, you say?" Allisia asked, Faris looking sour as her chance to play with the warrior girl were ruined by this unknown arrival.

"Well, that's what Narru told me; better just head down and get over it" Narrisha said, Allisia looking at Faris.

"No worries; once I return..." she said, stroking Faris' cheek, smiling; "...I will be sure to recieve everything you wish to give me."

Blushing, Faris crawled a little to the side, letting Allisia get out of the bed and heading for her closet as she picked up a richly decorated blue and silver dress.

"'By order of the Royal Council of Silvarcira, Lady Allisia Lightblade is to return to the Royal Capital of Sarrania for trial due to high treason against the Crown of the Dragon King, forsaking Her oath as a Dragon Knight of the kingdom.'"

As the messenger, a Silvarciraian soldier, read up from the scroll he held, he had not imagained the angry looks he would get from the Nightwind girls and their mistress.

"I know my duty to my kingdom, but my absence from service is well-founded" Allisia spoke formally, although her undertone was quite obviously more than merely displeased.

"I know, Lady Lightblade; trust me, I, too, have seen the corruption that claimed our kingdom back in the days..." the messenger said, rolling up the scroll, a sigh heard from his helmet; "...still, hope has returned to Silvarcira."

"What do you mean? Speak your mind" Allisia said, the soldier saluting as he explained.

"Ma'am, the royal bloodline did not die out with the queen's death on the battlefield; King Arathasa Arannor has claimed the Dragon Throne" the soldier said.

"Arathasa? Was he not in exile due to the Royal Council's 'displeasement'?" Allisia asked sceptically.

"With all respect, ma'am; no-one can defy a rightful ruler His or Her place...especially not one with over half the Royal Army's support as well as the people's" the soldier said, a true happiness clearly present in his undertone.

"So, lemme get this straight..." Shica asked, hers and Jiraz's presence apparently not shocking the soldier; "...your kingdom, being rotten and corrupted at first, has returned to normal since your king's back?"

"That's correct, miss; the king is currently trying to clear up the mess the Royal Council had started when they tried seizing complete control over Silvarcira..." the soldier said bitterly; "...luckily, the first thing the king did upon His return was to establish the People's Council, and-..."

"'The People's Council'?? The common citizens having their own say in even royal affairs??" Allisia asked, failing to mask her pleasent surprise.

"Heh, correct, milady; the king seeks to completly root out any xenophobic or otherwise racistic nonsense in His kingdom, as well as injustice for any commoners or nobles" the soldier said, tightening the bridle of his horse which stood beside him.

"Although I do not make a habit of indulging myself in royal affairs..." an unknown, darker voice now spoke; "...I will gladly do what I can to make sure this trial will be swift and not to any greater concern."

Apparently out of nowhere, a tall, dark-robed figure with a hood appeared; standing even taller than the Silvarciraian soldier, he made his way towards the door, Shica nodding at the dark figure.

"Hallo, bro; you're coming with us?" she asked, surprised to see her brother turn up.

"I cannot allow some mumbling old fools to punish a soldier for doing what was right..." the figure said, facing Allisia; " need not feel shame for denying to serve a kingdom without any pride to their banner; the Royal Council betrayed what your people believed in, and now, they try and make you a scape-goat and take the blow for their ignorance."

"Who are you to speak ill of Silvarcira? You're right, though, but it doesn't concern you" Allisia said, her verbal slap having its effect on the figure.

"I apoligize, Lady Allisia, though I fail to look with any forgiveness on the Royal Council for ordering you to Sarrania like a common pup" the figure said, its undertone almost snarling.

"Drop the robe, Rhannie; you've already over-used the whole 'dramatic entrance' thing" Jiraz sighed, shaking her head; nodding, the figure dropped its hood, a male shin'saras with dark-purple, cat-like eyes appearing under its folds.

"You''re that 'Dark Rider' who convinced me to travel here, are you not?" Allisia asked, remembering this shin'saras' face clearly.

"Indeed I am, milady, but for now, I am here to help you to a safe travel to Sarrania; the trial begins tonight, so we need to go now."

"...OK, lemme just say, how the fuck can those old idiots expect us to get from here and to the royal capital in less than a day?!" Jiraz asked in complete confussion.

"Ah, a simple, cheap politcal trick, Jiraz; a tight and injust time limit to sort out any potentional threats before they go for their prize, the king..." Rhanar explained; "...basically, they are somewhat like predators in the animal kingdom, leaping on what they presume to be the weakest prey."

"Lord Narra-Jar, Lady Allisia is far from the weakest! How dare you-...!" the soldier began, Rhanar hushing him with a gesture of his hand.

"Do not misunderstand me; I merely meant that the Royal Council's corruption should be stopped, and I believe lady Allisia and His Highness are the only ones who can bring this plot into the light" Rhanar explained.

"Urgh, can we quit this, already?! Gods, this whole thing sounds like something outta Lord of the Rings; I'm gonna need a nap..." Jiraz sighed, Shica smiling at her.

"And you..." Jiraz said, smirking at Shica as she leaned towards her, the shin'saras girl sticking her tongue out in tease; "'re coming with me this instant!"

"Sure thing!" Shica grinned, following her girlfriend as they went inside, heading for their room.

"This place lives up to the rumors you hear at the taverns!" the soldier said, chuckling under his helmet.

"Had you been a lesser responsible human I would have cut you down for that remark..." Rhanar snarled, the soldier taking no notice of him as he mounted up.

"I will be sure to inform the City Guard to let you in!" he yelled over his shoulder as he rode away.

"Fifty Aras that he will be telling the rest of his unit wild tales of this place..." Allisia said, sighing.

"Then my coin and yours are in the same flip, miss; we will be lucky if some degenerate commander of the Royal Army does not lay siege to this manor, now..." Rhanar said darkly, Allisia sharing the draconoid's suspicions as they went inside with the others.

Chapter 2

Title: Chapter - The Meeting

[Author's notes: After the sad news of Allisia's trial, the Nightwind girls, along with Rhanar, discuss who to leave with Allisia and to deliever the news of the trial's outcome to the others.]

"That's just right out fucked up! You shouldn't be trailed for ditching some old shitheads who kept dragging your kingdom down!" Raicha exclaimed, showing her frustration by pounding her fist into a pillow.

Gathered in Narrisha's room, the Nightwind girls, Jiraz, Shica, Jisha and Rhanar were discussing the coming trial.

"We have nine hours until we are to meet the Royal Council..." Rhanar said, snapping his fingers as an idea crossed his mind; "...I say we make sure to prepare ourselves for any eventualities."

"Like what?" Hiroi asked.

"If the Royal Council turns to extremes in their stupidity..." Rhanar said, an evil glare in his eyes; "...I will have warriors of the Sharas'Car posted over the castle along with mages preparing an escape portal."

"I am already under trial for treason, Lord Narra-Jar; need I also come under trial for attempting to escape my fate?" Allisia asked sceptically, Rhanar shaking his head, dismissing his idea.

"Still..." Allisia said, a smile crawling over her lips; "...even if it goes all wrong, I have you, girls."

"You bloody well believe that!" Narrisha grinned, Chinyi throwing herself against Allisia, wailing as she hugged her intensely.

"It's not fair! it's not fair! stupid old crooks taking away our warrior girl!" Chinyi began crying, Minyoki patting her sister easily on her shoulders, comforting her.

"Take it easy, Chinyi; she'll come back, knight or not" Siriki said, smiling at Chinyi as she wiped away her tears with a thumb.

"I understand you well, little Chinyi; if it helps..." Rhanar mumbled, letting out a short chuckle; "...I could cut off those idiots' long, greying beards and bring them back here as trophy."

At that, Chinyi began laughing, hugging herself to Siriki, Allisia letting out a giggle as Siriki's face turned blue as Chinyi's hugging became a tad too intense.

"Quite a predictable idea for a male shin'saras..." Mirinda said confidently; "...if you cannot win with words, a slice with a blade does the job quicker."

"I confess I find myself quite bloodthirsty..." Rhanar said, shrugging; "...but at very least it is justified as I only strike at those intending to harm women."

"I suppose it 'does' justify it..." Mirinda said slowly, not used to such a view on women from a shin'saras male; his zealousness, however, felt slightly unfounded.

"What's up with you and girls, Rhannie dude? Why are you always up and 'defending' them and shit?" Hiroi asked the question for her, dangling her feet from the bed.

"I view women as a symbol of purity and intelligence, capable of offering a creativity beyond my own..." Rhanar said, adjusting his cloak a bit; "...I pride myself of my inability to let any carnal instincts control me like some lapdog."

"That, and the fact that draconoids cannot reproduce" Dracaia commented, grinning evilly, Rhanar smirking amused at the dragon girl.

"If I can speak boldly, that was, litherally, below the waist, Lady Dracaia..." Rhanar said, Dracaia shrugging and silently agreeing.

"So, if we're through discussing draconoids and moralities..." Narrisha cut the discussion short; "...we should decide whom to go with Allisia to the trial."

"Me! Me! I'm not gonna sit by while they judge her!" Chinyi eagerly jumped up and down, her arms flapping so fast they looked like mosquito wings.

"I'm going, too..." Siriki said, grinning and kissing Chinyi's cheek, her intense flapping stopping as she leaned her head to Siriki's shoulder, the ice-haired girl grinning; "...someone's gotta watch this crazy kitty."

"Count us in; I'll blast their asses if they go on about with their old timer morale speeches..." Jiraz said, leaning to the wall as she juggled with three fireballs, Shica weaving Dark Magic lightning in her hands.

"I gotta try out my new powers, so I think I gotta stay..." Jisha said, winking at Allisia; "...don't worry, you'll pull through; I'm sure of it!"

"I'm thankful of your confidence in me, Jisha; all of you, that is" Allisia said, truly appriciating the Nightwind girls' support; surprised, though, she found a tear to fall from her eyes, although she knew it was not in despair.

"Aww..." Rachel smiled, patting Allisia's head; "...don't feel bad; we're right behind you."

"I suppose I'll tag along, as well" Mirinda said, shaking her head so her long hair blew, leading to many adoring smiles from the girls.

"Your grace and wit match as one, it seems" Rhanar nodded agreeingly, Mirinda accepting his admiration out of respect for his morality.

"I'll go with you, two; Hiroi, Raicha, you coming with me?" Faris said, grinning at her two favorite 'students'.

"Count us in, Faris!" Raicha grinned, rustling Hiroi's long, spiked hair.

"I wish I could go, but someone needs to keep the manor together" Narrisha said, looking sadly at Allisia; "I'm really sorry, All-..."

Cutting her mistress off, Allisia kissed quickly and passionately, her mistress caught off guard as she moaned loudly, Allisia letting go, smiling at her.

"I think that will get you through the nights until I return..." Allisia said, formally bowing as she went over to Rhanar, amused at the warrior girl's boldness and confidence in her own appeal to her mistress.

"So, Mister Narra-Jar, can you set us up a sort of portal?" Allisia asked, Rhanar's fingers running over his chin in pondering.

"I can have a portal open to Sarrania in an hour's time; I need to make sure we do not end up in the trees in the park" Rhanar said, standing up, saluting the girls before he went out the door; "'till then, miladies."

Chapter 3

Title: Chapter - The Conversation

[Author's notes: As Rhanar prepares the Mystic Portal to Sarrania, he is approached by Charlene, curious to know more about her ressurector Shica's 'Dark Lord'-like brother.]

"Mister Rhanar, can I speak with you?" Charlene asked, Rhanar turning his back to bookshelf he had been standing at, facing Charlene.

"Of course you may, Miss Charlene; what do you wish?" he said, Charlene at ease with his formal approach.

"I was just thinking...this order of yours, the Sharas'Car..." Charlene said, considering her next words very carefully; "...what exactly 'are' you people?"

"Ah, now that is a good question; you see..." Rhanar said, putting down the book he had been reading, settlign down on a chair, facing Charlene; " truth, we are protectors of women suffering from traumas in a man-dominated world; many males still see themselves as entitled to women as if they were common wares on a market, and thus, think themselves superior."

"So, basically, you're trying to prove girls are just as good as those 'males' you say?" Charlene asked, Rhanar nodding.

"People always argue about humanity's nature, the social hierachy and the genders' roles being that of women belonging at home and provide shelter as well as carry children..." Rhanar sighed, his voice growling in anger; "...and I find myself highly unamused at that damn stereotype...!"

"Yeah, I feel you there..." Charlene sighed, rubbing her neck; looking up, Rhanar suddenly looked shocked at Charlene.

"Tell me, do you know of the haunting ghost this manor is rumored to house? Her name is Charlene as well, I hear...I could have sworn..." Rhanar said to himself, rubbing his chin in wondering.

"Well, I 'was' a bit transparent until your sister helped me out" Charlene chuckled, smiling at the wonderous memory of the night her mistress Narrisha had re-introduced her to the living world through wine, food and pleasent company...quite a lot of pleasent company, in fact, as the other Nightwind girls had been joining in, Charlene not really interested in resisting.

" are that ghost...but how in the name of..." Rhanar gasped, trying to put two and two together.

"Your sister reanimated me after she fixed my neck, Rhanar; she was kind enough to return me to life after wandering around here for 6 long years as a ghost" Charlene explained, Rhanar's confused look replaced with plain joy and pride.

"My sister really does have more power than I thought" Rhanar said, smiling amused; "it appears she and her family are superior to me when it comes to Dark Magic."

"Family?" Charlene asked.

"Yes; she, her daughter Jisha, and her girlfriend, Jiraz" Rhanar informed, nodding to himself, finding her sister's choice for a girlfriend rather exotic, yet interesting; "the blood of both shin'saras and demon; facinating..."

"Well, Jiraz can't really use Dark Magic, can she?" Charlene asked.

"Well, not really, but by using Chaos Magic, she can copy almost any sort of magic for her own use, expect from Mystic Magic" Rhanar said.

"Kinda amazing what you can do with all that magic..." Charlene sighed to herself, a smile crossing her lips at the thought of visiting Narrisha before she left with the others for Allisia's trial.

"Excuse me, Rhanar; I've got to go prepare myself" Charlene said, turning around on her heels and leaving the room, Rhanar returning to his study of the old tomes and books.

"Interesting..." he mumbled, flipping through a few pages, finding one more interesting spell after another, seeing small illustrations on the pages.

Chapter 4

Title: Chapter - The Portal

[Author's notes: After his studies in the library, Rhanar begins the incantations to summon the Mystic Portal to Sarrania.]

"Let me see, two shards there, one here..." Rhanar mumbled, concentrating as he used his magic to carefully place shards of Mystic crystal in a large circle in the great hall.

"You're always such a tease, Shica! Next time I'll be sure to-..." Jiraz laughed as she came down the staircase with Shica, the two of them finding Rhanar to be busy working on the portal.

"Hey Rhanar; why do you need all these crystals? Can't you just conjure that thing up?" Jiraz asked, Rhanar looking up.

"Normally it would be no challenge, but this manor somehow disrupts my most basic incantations and spells, so I will need to try a more advanced technique..." Rhanar explained, setting two crystals up in a 'v' shaped pattern.

"Right, that should do it; I think you can give the others a call" Rhanar said, nodding to himself.

"Uhmm, how large is that portal gonna be?" Jiraz asked curiously.

"Well, not too large; I recommend folding your wings, first of all" Rhanar said, examining the crystals, Jiraz proudly flapping her majestic, leathery wings, Shica enjoying the gust of wind they made; grinning, Jiraz flapped faster, Shica now feeling her hair blow around her, Jiraz looking lovingly at her.

"...That should do it; now for the spell..." Rhanar mumbled, his hands glowing blue from the sparks of Mystic magic he conjured up; in the next moment, a large, circular mass of Mystic energy appeared, forming into a semi-transparent, large portal.

"Step on through; there's no need to worry!" Faris guided the girls as the group stepped towards the portal; as they each touched it, they disappeared in a blue flash of light, almost as if dragged into the portal.

"We will back as soon as we can" Rhanar assured Narrisha, looking as her girls went through the portal to a city completly unknown to her; in secret, she felt a slight sting at her heart, worrying for their safety.

"C'mon, Shica; I wanna see this 'oh so glorious' city...and kick some ass at those old twits..." Jiraz grinned, walking towards the portal, Shica pretending to be scared as she followed behind Jiraz, holding tightly around her tail.

"My ladies..." Rhanar now gestured, the Nightwind girls, Shica, Jiraz and Jisha looking in awe at the open street in front of them; "...welcome to Sarrania."

Chapter 5

Title: Chapter - Welcome to Sarrania

[Author's notes: Arriving at the majestic Capital City of Sarrania, Faris, Hiroi, Raicha, Chinyi, Siriki, Charlene, Rachel, Mirinda, Allisia, Rhanar, Jiraz, Shica and Jisha explore the city to spend the time before the trial.]

"This is unbelieveable!" Siriki exclaimed in awe, Chinyi nodding in silent agreement, walking down the road from the large plaza they had appeared at.

The two of them, along with the rest of the group were meet with quite some suspicious and curious looks from the citizens.

"Halt! Who goes there?" a sharp voice came from a nearby stall, a guard in a salade sort of helmet, as well as chainmail and platemail asked them harshly.

"I'm Allisia Lightblade; I am to be held for trial later this evening..." Allisia spoke in her usual, formal tone; "...'till then, I wish to show my friends our glorious city."

"What are you charged with? Speak quickly!" the guard demanded, her hand never too far from the hilt of her sword and her grip of her spear tightening.

"Aparrently 'high treason' for forsaking my duty to Silvarcira as a Dragon Knight in the Dark Days" Allisia said, the guard frowning under her helmet.

"'High treason'? Who charged you for that? You? A Lightblade??" she asked, highly sceptical.

"The Royal Council" Allisia answered, the guard now clearly laughing under the helmet, her hand leaving her sword.

"If they mean 'high treason' from the time they tried and take over this kingdom, that sets you alright in my book, Miss Lightblade..." she said, saluting; "...Ma'am..."

With that, she returned her attention to the stall, looking through a nice selection of various fruits.

"Your reputation preceeds you, milady..." Rhanar said, respectfully nodding his head in a bow towards Allisia.

"I say we find an inn of sorts; I'm getting bored of their staring at me..." Mirinda sighed, gesturing with a thumb over her shoulders at a couple of youngsters starring at her.

"There is always the Silver Swan; it's just a few streets away" Allisia said, knowing Sarrania inside and out.

"The sooner I'll get something to eat the better..." Raicha complained, her stomach growling, Hiroi grinning at her.

"Allisia! It's been decades, lass!" Natty, one of the waitresses at the Silver Swan, greeted the Lady Knight with an informal, yet happy hug, Allisia smiling at her.

"How are things around here?" Allisia asked, Natty sighing.

"As good as it's always been; old Olgran still ranting about gold and glorious days, Zirix still collecting bounties; the usual, you know?" Natty said.

"'Zirix'? That's a funny name!" Chinyi chuckled, Natty noticing the little pink-haired girl amongst the group, grinning at her.

"I wouldn't say that around Zirix, lass..." Natty said, pointing her thumb at a dark, shady figure standing at the inn's other end; "...she's not good at keeping her temper."

"Can we get a table, please? I'm beginning to starve..." Faris mumbled, holding around her stomach, Natty grinning at her.

"Let's see, that orc fellow just left, so...yeah, I think you can have that one" Natty said, leading them to a well-polished oak table, plenty of chairs making sure they all could have a seat.

"Something you'll like?" Natty asked, the group beginning to ask what the inn could offer.

"Oh, that's just neat..." Faris sighed happily, clapping her stomach.

"You ate over two plates of steak and potatoes in less than three minutes..." Charlene said, her and Mirinda grinning.

"Well, if she was hungry, sure she would need some food in her guts if she was to fight as well as I hear she does with her rapier" Rhanar commented, putting a jug of drakegold down, surprised to find Faris, Raicha, Hiroi and Allisia starring at him.

"How did you know of that? I mean, I was an adventurer once, but I didn't really make that much of a notice of myself..." Faris said, Rhanar tapping his finger slowly to the table.

"Well, unknown to you, it seems, people around Istan began talking a lot about you; they hardly thought an adventurer could take on hordes of renegade undead armed simply with a rapier and a chainmail" Rhanar said, taking another sip of his jug.

"And how come you know about that?" Allisia asked, Rhanar hearing her voice rise in suspicion.

"Truth is, I was around Istan looking for clues leading to the Scepter of the Soulless..." Rhanar said, looking at Faris; " my stupidity, I thought of hiring you to explore some of the old ruins I had heard of, but listening to local folklore changed my mind."

"As you found out the ruins were haunted by ghosts and plagued by Kun'Ja's Zyrakan?" Allisia asked, Rhanar nodding.

"Zyra-what-a-fish?" Chinyi asked, confused at the complex name.

"It means 'night' in elven, or rather it used to; nowdays it means 'vampire'" Rhanar said, Chinyi swallowing nervously, scolding herself for ever asking.

"Sorry if I ask, but why are we sitting here talking about glamerous old relics and folklore when we should try helping Allisia out?" Hiroi suddenly asked, sounding irritated.

"I'm perfectly fine, Hiroi, but thanks for your concern" Allisia said, patting Hiroi's spiky, blue hair.

"Look, hottie, I don't know if you've noticed, but them old fuckers at your 'Royal Council' are trying to wipe their dirty little paws off on you, girl!" Raicha said, Allisia smiling amused at her.

"Their reasons, no matter how old and ancient, are meaningless to me; what is important to me is to make sure I can return to you girls" Allisia said, Siriki and Chinyi feeling tears of joy in their eyes, truly beliving Allisia to be the greatest Dragon Knight of all.

"Oh, Allisia-a-a-a...!" they both wailed, throwing themselves over Allisia from each side, the warrior girl not making it to duck before they both pressed themselves against her, hugging with all their might.

"Ye seen them lasses over there? I betcha they be them Night Ladies, eh?" Olgran, a young dwarf with with a bright red beard grinned, emptying his ale mug, a bored-looking orc woman sighing at him.

"Leave them be, Olgran; if they really are those girls they're not interested in what you're offering up every woman in Sarrania...!" she snapped, the dwarf looking angrily at her.

"Argh, shut ye whiny trap, ye sharp-tooth! Don't ye stick yer nose in me ale mug, Kriska! Ye might lose it!" Olgran grunted, slamming down his mug, hopping down from the chair he sat on, walking towards the Nightwind girls.

"...So all you wish for is to remain at the manor, alongside your fellow Nightwind companions?" Rhanar asked, Allisia giving a simple, determined nod in response.

"Well, here is to you, then..." Rhanar said, rising his jug; "...for a good future and Lady Shinris' blessings be upon you."

"You said it, bro!" Raicha said, grinning at Allisia as she rose her own jug for a toast; "we're right beyind ye, Allisia!"

As the other Nightwind girls rose their own jugs, in Shica and Jiraz's case even two at a time, Allisia smiled gratefully; deciding to remain at Nightwind Manor might just be the wisest decicion she had made in her life.

"My, what a bunch of lovely little lasses we've got here, eh?" Olgran now came wandering, his eyes especially fixed on Mirinda, Siriki and Chinyi.

"There's no need to hide the goods, girl" Olgran grinned, his burly manners and rough tone not at all appeasing neither the Nightwind girls or Rhanar.

"I suppose there is a demented, foolish reason you try your flirtious nonsense on a girl who does not find men appeasing to her at all...?" Rhanar snarled, his eyes appearing under the hood, Olgran simply barking out another laugh.

"Ye and all yer dyke crap! Even yer precious lil' Shinris, oh, the goddess of the whole, damn earth, agrees that it's we warriors who claims both the treasure and the maidens!" Olgran barked out, Rhanar more interested in looking at the table's other end:

Shica and Jiraz looked right out furious, Rhanar noticing sparks of Dark Magic flying around Shica's fingertips as she had to grab hold of the table to went off her frustration.

As for Jiraz, her eyebrows, eyes, hair, claws and wing-spikes had caught on demonic fire, only just able to control it.

"Mister Olgran, I suggest you look behind you..." Rhanar said, smiling evilly as he pointed at Shica and Jiraz.

"What are ye talking about, ye pointy-ear-..." Olgran began, rolling his eyes and turning around, facing the enraged Shica and Jiraz's looks.

"Ah, that's just great, all light shows and no backbone ter it! Hah! Ye could've bought that wizard crap anywhere, lasses! Ye ain't scaring anyone!" Olgran laughed, Jiraz begnning to feel like clawing her way from Olgran's steel helmet to his brain and rip it out.

"And all ye other little tits, ye listen here! I've survived that bloody Divine War, and, suddenly I thought, why am I risking me neck and dragging my arse into certain death if my own king doesn't want ter throw in some lusty lasses or a share o' the bounty?"

Olgran frowned, clapping the runed shortsword in his massive belt; "so I became a mercenary! Since then, I've had all the wenches falling fer me feet..." he said, heading over to Chinyi, grabbing the shocked girl's chin, rustling it; "...and ye bloody well look like some fine little pieces ter me!"

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Allisia suddenly exclaimed, smashing her jug with a terrible force into the table, splinters flying in all directions as her adamantine armour materialised itself.

"You barge over to our table like some common bouncer; you ruin one of my life's best moments; you call my friends and lovers wenches, and my comrade-in-arms here a pointy-ear!" Allisia said, furiously pointing at Rhanar, her eyes locked on the slightly taken aback Olgran.

"Let me tell you, dwarf..." Allisia said, slowly rising up, her armour fully materialised as she unsheated the Soul-Cleaver; "...your kind are burly, rude and rowdy, I know that, but you..."

Leaning down over Olgran, Allisia's dark, intimidating armour and pose had its effect as she let her blade dance towards Olgran's neck.

"...You...have just made me really..." Allisia said, making a jab at Olgran's throat for each word; "!"

Without a second word, Olgran's eyes widened as Allisia's fist came down with a crushing force, slamming into Olgran's helmet, knocking him unconcious.

"If you all but had my respect before, lady Allisia..." Rhanar said, holding his fist to his heart, trying not to smile at Allisia's handiwork; " now have my adoration for your handling of such...unpleasent occourances..."

"That was kicking serious ass!" Jiraz grinned, Shica joining in, seeing the unconcious dwarf lie on the floor stretched out like a cross; suddenly though, he moaned lowly, beginning to move again, Rhanar feeling his frustration with the dwarf almost boil over; dwarves were stubborn beings, indeed, as it seemed like even being knocked out barely had much of an effect on them.

"Ye gotta be bloody kiddin' me! She's a demon and a dyke, as well! That lil' princess should've gone fer the-..." Olgran mumbled as he sat up, holding a hand to his head, dizzy after his knock-out.

"HOW DARE YOU?!" a roar now thundered through the entire inn, the girls taken aback as Rhanar rose from his seat, dark magic lightning twirling around his fingers, his eyes shining purple with dark magic, his teeth bared in a furious snarl.

"Olgran, begone from this inn, this city, and this land, lest I hunt you down, AND FEED YOUR INTRAILS TO THE RAVENS!!!" Rhanar roared, Olgran backing away, terrified as he was.

"RUN! Run, you little ant! HAHAHAHAHAHAH! Run, you puny little coward! Save your insides!" Rhanar laughed manically, sending a bolt of dark magic lightning after Olgran as he yelled in terror, fleeing the inn as fast as his armour could carry him.

"R-Rhanar, didn't have to overract..." Shica babbled, even Jiraz starring in awe at Rhanar as he slowly calmed down, sitting himself down and grabbing his mug, looking into the golden liqour swimming in it.

".....I am sorry for this outburst...I just tired of this simple-minded wretch and his views on the world..." Rhanar mumbled, the glow in his eyes fading away; "...there may not be forgiveness for my actions, but I dare say the horror in his eyes was worth it..."

"Mr. Rhanar, could I ask you something?" Chinyi carefully asked, backing away as Rhanar's head turned in her direction.

"Do speak it, Chinyi" Rhanar said, Chinyi looking carefully to see if Rhanar still seemed angry.

"Next time you roar, can't you give us earplugs first?" Chinyi asked, Rhanar's perplexed look, making a few of the girls grin.

"Surely, little Chinyi; I apoligize I even let my temper get the better of me..." Rhanar nodded, Hiroi looking almost respectfully at him.

"Dude, chillax; I yell out loud sometimes over nothing, really, like my cola not being cold enough, so don't feel bad about it..." Hiroi assured, Raicha looking in adoration at her.

"And, ye know, I kinda like bad-ass girls..." she teased, kissing Hiroi's cheek, Hiroi returning it smilingly.

"Goodness, back to square one, it is..." Rhanar rolled his eyes, shrugging and grinning; "...seems like we will be needing another round of drinks."

"Urgh! Where's that rotting bastard?! If he's flipping skirts again, I'll...!" Kriska growled to herself, standing up from the bar desk, looking around; to her surprise, she saw Olgran come running and yelling through the inn, and before she could get his attention, he bolted out the door, smacking it behind him.

"What in the...?" Kriska scratched her head in confussion, looking in the direction that Olgran had run from.

"What's going on here?? Urgh...Olgran, you bastard..." she began as she approached the girls' table, now seeing what Olgran might have been up to, grinning to herself that at least he had been taught a lesson.

"...OK, what in the fuck...?" Raicha gasped in awe as the over two meters tall orc woman stood by their table; her body covered in thick pieces of leather and decorated with steel plates with spikes, she looked intimidating, her gray eyes and lower fangs clearly visible in a snarl.

"Allisia here proved quite a bane to your drunken lout of a friend, miss...?" Rhanar asked, the tall orc frowning and looking strictly at him.

"Yeah, and I heard your roar, elf; we're not really as deaf to our surroundings as your light-skinned cousins makes us..." Kriska snarled sarcastically; "...I'm Kriska of the Red Claw Clan; who are you lasses, then?" she asked, her long mane of raven-black hair falling over her face, Kriska irritatingly brushing it aside.

"Uhm-m-m...I'm Charlene, of Nightwind Manor; these others are...uhm-m-m...are companions to Lady Allisia..." Charlene nervously started, Kriska looking over the girls; never had she seen such a row of ravishable young maidens.

"Ahhh, Nightwind, eh? You mean that cozy little mountain hut with the beer flowing like rivers and the maidens romping about in the late night hours?" Kriska grinned, having heard quite some rumors around the Silver Swan.

"Indeed; we're here only because of my comming trail, and when it is over, we shall return there" Allisia now spoke, Kriska noticing a hint of irritation in her voice.

"Don't worry your pretty little heads, girls; I ain't got no problem with you not liking boys..." Kriska smiled, sighed and looked over her shoulder, where a couple of brawlers had begun fighting over what sounded like a chess game; "...sometimes I wonder if I'm not gonna follow the same road; sure sounds more comfortable..."

Lost in her thoughts, Kirska blinked her eyes, speaking something in orcish, looking over the girls; "say, can I smack my arse down at you girls? My only companion for the next cave raiding was pretty much more arse than warrior..." Kriska asked, rolling Olgran away with her steel-studded boot.

"Sure, have a seat" Charlene said, Faris looking amazed at the orc woman as she sat down; seeing her curiousity, Kriska grinned, patting Faris' shoulder with a force strong enough to knock down a bull.

"I gotta say, you've sure got some muscles under all that leather..." Raicha said, her and Hiroi's long and interesting gazes making Kriska feel welcome, enjoying their admiration.

"If you weren't already 'hired' at that manor, you two would be some nice little bunk mates..." Kriska said, Raicha and Hiroi exchanging confused looks.

"Miss Kriska, have you ever had a lover?" Mirinda now asked, her graceful elven tone taking Kriska aback from her usual rough and free language.

"Well, I've had myself some of those young warrior boys running after me a couple 'o times; all about keeping our clan strong and the numbers steady, quite some handsome ones, even..." Kriska said, her face darkening; "...but I don't just wanna be a pet breeder for my clan, so I ran as fast as my legs could carry me."

"To my mind, most orcish clans live around, and in, the Narrak Desert..." Rhanar noted, looking curious at Kriska; " did you survive the heat?"

"I honestly dunno; all my brain told me was to get bloody heck outta there before those nitwits started getting their arses up and moving; a warrior is entitled to claim whatever woman he wants after his test of manhood or his first kill, or least it was so back when I was young..." Kriska explained.

"It 'used to'? Oh Gods, please say your elders, or, whoever they are, came to their senses??" Jiraz asked, her and Shica feeling the deepest pity with Kriska.

"Well, they pretty much found out women could fight, as well, so when they gave fighting a try, they pretty much got their arses handed to them..." Kriska said, smiling; "...that period of my clan's history is called the 'Gender Bender' in your common tongue; it's a bit more diffent in orcish, though."

"'Gender Bender'? Hihihih! Ni-i-i-ice..." Hiroi grinned, Raicha rustling her hair lightly in tease.

"Say, I got a question for you, little elf..." Kriska now leaned herself over at Rhanar; "...if these little vixens don't like males, why are you with them? You're not a slavemaster, are you?" Kriska said, Shica seeing her fangs reveal themselves.

"Relax, Kriska, he's my brother; he'd rather die than to harm a woman" Shica pointed out, Kriska looking suspiciously at Rhanar.

"Not harm a woman? Sounds like a knight...or maybe these Sharas'Car fellows..." Kriska pondered, Rhanar looking up at her.

"I am the leader of the Sharas'Car, miss Kriska; rest assured I all but protect these girls, I do not seek them harm" Rhanar explained, Kriska's jaw falling a bit agape.

"Shinris' groves, you're Rhanar Narra-Jar! And...and then this little elfie's gotta be..." Kriska pointed continously at Shica in confussion, Jiraz finding herself beginning to giggle.

"I'm Crown Princess Shica Narra-Jar, daughter of Empress Shinris Narra-Jar, and mother of Jisha Narra-Jar" Shica explained, Kriska looking at her with a mix of awe and adoration.

"Mother?? You can't bloody well be more than sixteen summers old!" Kriska near exclaimed; "did any bastard do that to you??"

"Hey, she wanted me more than you know..." Jiraz spoke, sticking out her tongue at Shica, who replied with a flirty wink; seeing that, and the rising of Jiraz's tail, Kriska sighed heavily at herself, putting two and two together.

"You must be that Jiraz lady who's claimed the little princess, huh? How much of a fight did she put up?" Kriska partly joked, partly mocked.

Looking at Jiraz, Shica simply grinned, Jiraz joined in as they both spoke; "none."

"Well, well, well, look who it is, then..." a gruff voice now sounded behind Rhanar; looking up, he saw what appeared to be a city guard, this one a dwarf with a long, black beard sticking out under his helmet's visor.

"If it ain't the loveable Allisia..." he chuckled, stepping up to her, offering her a handshake, which she accepted; "...I haven't seen ye since that day ye ran off; I got ter feel why you'd do that, though..."

"You mean the injustice the Royal Council ruled with in absence of the king?" Allisia asked, the dwarf snorting and opening his visor.

"Yeah yeah, bloody bad and all, but that's not the worst; they cut both we guards' pay, and they banned us fer drinking on duty!" he growled, Siriki grinning at him.

"What's it ter you, little lass? You'd properly never drunk before, have ye?" he shrugged, his armour clinking as Siriki and Chinyi exchanged looks.

"Oh, we've drunk plenty, haven't we, Chinyi?" Siriki asked, Chinyi replying by kissing the giggling Siriki.

"Sweet Shinris's tits! I, I've seen me share of exotic sights outside the battlefield, but that...that's actually real pretty-looking, you lasses..." the dwarf stammered, looking curiously at Siriki and Chinyi; "...i-if it's not ter much ter ask...could ye do it again? I didn't really believe me eyes..."

At that point, Shica could have sworn to have seen a spark of dark magic flare in Rhanar's eyes as his claws scraped the wooden table slowly...

"They kiss like schoolgirls! Lemme show you..." Raicha said, smirking at Rachel; "...should we show him?"

"As long as he keeps off, sure" Rachel replied with a wink, now kissing Rachel passionately.

"Oh me Gods! They're heading right fer the sack after that one, ain't they?? Bwahahahahahah!" the dwarf laughed, pounding his armoured fist to his chest; "you're some bloody fine lasses showing me that!"

"If you're through watching my friends' intimacy..." Allisia now spoke, the dwarf taken aback by her chilling voice under the helmet; "...what may you wish from me?"

"Hmph! At least he's more well-mannered than that arse Olgran..." Kriska snorted, kicking the unconcious dwarf warrior in the side.

"Nothing really, milady; it's just been some time since I've seen ye around Sarrania, is all..." the dwarf said, pointing a thumb at the girls; "...but I get the feeling you're not here ter stay for long, are ye?"

"No, I'm only here for my trial, and the-..." Allisia began, the dwarf's mouth falling comically agape.

"Trial?! What son of a harlot would trial ye?! Lady Allisia, you're bloody well the finest blade ever ter serve the Golden Dragon Order! Just tell me who's charging ye..." the dwarf said, his voice sounding quite murderous.

"Not to interupt, but I find your dedication to defend Allisia quite worthy" Rhanar spoke, the dwarf looking at him.

"It's what every soldier worth his honour would do! Bloody Hell, I dunno if she remembers it, but she bloody well saved me from a nasty piece 'o flying metal from a wrecked catapult!" the dwarf said, turning to Allisia; "if ye hadn't shown up, I'd been gutted like a pork!"

"Ah, the battle south of Cinras; brigands really shouldn't try drawing so much attention to themselves by stealing military ballistas" Allisia said, the dwarf nodding and stroking his beard.

"They ain't getting brighter, lady; they're still trying ter claim the road to Cinras as theirs; me daughter holds her ground against a plenty of 'em as we speak" he said, look over to Faris; "excuse me, but could I settle down with ye? me boys over there are giving me a headache..."

"Hmm, as long as you don't start acting like Olgran here..." Kriska snarled, the unconcious dwarf not having moved a muscle.

"Heaven forbid it! I've got respect fer the ladies; me mom raised me right, just ye know it, miss..." the dwarf said, making his way and finding an empty.

"What is your name, by the way?" Rhanar asked.

"Well, around here I'm called 'Blackbeard', but me real name's Haggar Stoneheart" the dwarf said, Rhanar's left eyebrow raising a bit.

"Ah, Haggar, is it? I remember meeting another Stoneheart a few days ago..." Rhanar said, putting down his jug; "...she told me that if I ever were to find you, I should give you her greetings."

"Oh? That must be me cousin, Hellen; heheh, a fine lass, just a bit too sharp in the wits and too slow with the blade..." Haggar mumbled in his beard, Mirinda looking strictly at him.

"Even if she is your cousin, it is her choice how to live her life" Mirinda said, Haggar looking sceptically at her.

"Whatcha mean, elf? Our family's always been tougher with the sword than anyone I know of; she could at least contribute a little ter the tradition..."

"Traditions are 'so' over-rated, dude..." Raicha said, sighed and leaned herself back to Hiroi, who smiled at her; "...if we only followed traditions, we'd still be called freaks."

"Hmm, you got a bloody point, lass; it's all fair with traditions..." Haggar pulled his beard away as he took a sip of a full jug of beer; "...but we shouldn't become obsessed with it, aye?"

"You've got a point on that" Charlene commented, Haggar emptying his jug in two slurps, looking around the girls until he found...

"Holy Heaven...didn't know we still had demons walking Varran..." Haggar said in awe as his eyes fell upon Jiraz and Shica, the two of them secretly kissing behind Kriska's massive back.

"And I suppose ye two are lovers?" Haggar asked, Shica's head popping into view as she wiped a bit of drool from her mouth.

"Yep, we pretty much are; girlfriends, too" Shica said, grinning as Jiraz came into view, chuckling at Shica.

"So, let me get this right: Ye Nightwind gals are all into each other, the little elf lass here and the demon gal are lovers, so..." Haggar said, putting two and two together; " I suppose none of ye have ever been with a man before?"

A collective 'no' were heard from the girls, Haggar not looking too surprised, although his eyebrows lifted themselves quite a bit.

"We've got enough lovin' going on at the manor to last us a lifetime, dude..." Hiroi said, Raicha's hand hovering a few centimetres from Hiroi's left breasts, marking Hiroi's point.

"Uhm-m, before me helmet starts boiling, lasses..." Haggar caughed, "...could I ask ye a favour, Lady Allisia?"

"What sort of favour?" Allisia asked.

"That armour you're wearing looks like some fine forge work; can I see that gauntlet, maybe, so I can write down the design? Me wife would love it; she collects all kind of rare armour designs ter forge back home in High Hall" haggar asked, Allisia nodding and began to take off the gauntlet of her armour.

Chapter 6

Title: Chapter - By Order of the King

[Author's notes: Meanwhile, at Sarrania Castle, King Arathasa Arannor awaits his renegade knight's return, hopeful to learn of Allisia's intentions for her future at the cost of her rank as Dragon Knight, which he has no doubt the Royal Council will demand to be withdrawn.]

"So, will she arrive within the hour like you told me?" Arathasa spoke, the guard standing in front of him saluting.

"Yes, my Liege; she should be underway by now" he assured, the king's deep, gray eyes narrowing.

"Friend, what do you make of this charge my council puts against Lady Lightblade?" the king asked, gesturing the guard to follow him as he went towards his throne.

"With all honesty, Sire, I think that Royal Council are running a fool's errand; with respect, Lady Allisia's reasons were well-founded."

"Indeed; I am grateful we at least mannaged to hinder the council from sending their own messenger..." Arathasa sighed, sitting down on the golden Dragon Throne; "...truth to be spoken, I mistrust them greatly; I fear they plan a treason against me."

"Why not disband the council? With their power lost they will not think of such, Sire" the guard said, Arathasa waving his hand in denial.

"No, it will only stir up further trouble; also, there are still people who support me and the people rather than their wallets and lands..." Arathasa said; "...we cannot 'purify' the council as such; we are not the Church of Tanrisa."

"Forgive me, my Liege" the guard said, Arathasa nodding.

"Worry not, your displeasement is as great as mine; let me assure you, though..." Arathasa spoke, his armour clinking as he sat up; "...I still rule Silvarcira by the people's and Laracris' choice; I will not hang myself out like a puppet on a string to meaningless greed and selfishness, nor corrupt politics."

"True words, Your Highness" a voice sounded behind the guard; Harrandar, a shin'idun Dragon Knight walked towards the king, his armour newly polished.

"Speak your mind, Lord Harrandar" Arathasa said, gesturing the knight towards him.

"I have seen Lady Allisia and her company heading for the castle; she may well enter, but..." the knight stopped, feeling uncertain if he was to present his request to the king.

"I said: Speak your mind" Arathasa repeated, Harrandar quickly stating his request nervously:

"I, I request that the shin'idun she travels with be held back; my honour is at stake as a knight, Your Highness..." Harrandar said.

"Your honour? Explain" Arathasa asked, leaning further towards the knight.

"Well, Mirinda Dawnmist, as her name goes, is a distant cousin of mine; she...she betrayed her family and ran away, choosing to be a harlot to Nightwind Manor rather than a priestess of the Holy Church..." Harrandar spoke, his voice turning up in anger; "...I must insist that harlot never approaches the castle!"

"Enough!" Arathasa cut him off, his armoured gauntlet hammering into the throne's side; looking at the knight, Arathasa calmed down.

"Why would you deny her entrance simply because of a choice she made?" he asked.

"She's become a mere harlot! It is blood shame in my people's eyes! I cannot be seen around such a filthy-..." Harrandar started, Arathasa simply sighing and stroking his long, silvery beard.

"You value your own honour over all, Harrandar, that I know..." Arathasa began, raising up from the throne, walking towards the knight; "...but this 'request' you present to me borders on madness."

Now not two meters from Harrandar, Arathasa spoke clearly; "know that there is no shame in allowing anyone in the company of Lady Allisia to enter the castle."

"Allisia herself is a harlot! They all are! They have no love for men, we who fight the wars, for the glory, and-..." Harrandar began panicking, Arathasa walking around him in circles.

"And when, in the history of Silvarcira, have any woman taken up arms and lead our armies to war?" Arathasa asked.

"Never, because-..." Harrandar began again, Arathasa holding up his hand to stop him.

"A lie! My wife, Alinor, not two years ago, took up arms in the Divine War..." the king said, his face darkening; "...I loved her, but she fell with honour; since then, women all over the kingdom has taken a greater interest in taking up arms against injustice!"

"You see..." the king continued; " the old days, we men did not see women as equals, and neither do you, it seems..." Arathasa said, looking strictly at the knight; "...humans have always fought for greed, of any sort; lands, gold, power, anything you can think of; it is our nature, but remember this..."

By that, Arathasa pointed an armoured finger at Harrandar; "...this kingdom is ruled through justice, not patriachy or old traditions; as long as I sit on the Dragon Throne, no army leaves Silvarcira's borders for conquest or selfish needs; their purpose, as well as mine, is to serve the people of Silvarcira! I ask you, Harrandar: When you entitle your cousin with such titles as 'harlot', does that make you feel worth your sword?"

".....No Sire, it does not..." Harrandar sighed, his anger at being scolded like a common school boy flaming up in his eyes; "...yet you, my liege, are willing to hope for the impossible! Allisia failed the kingdom once, and yet you still give her a chance for redemption??"

"Lady Allisia never 'failed' the kingdom; Silvarcira failed her, because of the Royal Council's greed; to them, their wallets are far more important than the well and care for their people, and only a few remain loyal to me..." Arathasa said, sitting down on the throne; " trust lies in my soldiers and my people, and spoken in honesty, your lack of care for them displeases me greatly, Harrandar."

With that, Harrandar turned on his heels marching out of the throne room, hissing curses in elvish.

"My liege, should we not follow him? What if he will conspire?" the guard asked, the king shaking his head.

"No; Harrandar was a devoted knight..." Arathasa said heavily; "...but I saw his purse under the cloak; it was filled to the brim..."

"Halt! Lady Allisia and company?" a Royal Guard asked as Allisia stepped closer; apart from normal City Guards, the Royal Guards wore a midnight-blue cloak with white trims, and small, golden wings of a dragon sat on each side of the glided helmet.

"Yes, I am" Allisia said, gesturing to the girls behind her; "worry not; they are my responsability through the trial."

"Hmph! She's sounding like we were fucking catgirls..." Raicha mumbled, Chinyi looking sourly at her.

"Catgirls are the cutest in the world! Don't say bad stuff about them!" she mumbled, crossing her arms and making a surprisingly good imitation of Raicha's sour look, Raicha smiling a bit at her, Chinyi returning that, as well.

"Alright, you may enter" the Royal Guard said, the heavy steel door behind him opening creakingly.

"Wow, this place is sure pretty nice..." Charlene said to herself, walking through the corridors as a guard showed them the way to the throne room.

"...Pathetic old fool! Talking of freeing that slanderous courtesan...!" a voice were heard up ahead, the girls wondering who it was.

In that moment, Harrandar came marching towards them, pushing the guard aside as he walked past them; however, seeing Allisia, he rolled his eyes and spat on her cheek.

"Traitorous harlot!" he snarled coldly, proceeding down the corridor the girls had come from.

"Easy Jiraz, easy..." Shica tried and calm her girlfriend, Jiraz's eyes shining and glowing red with right out bloodlust.

"What a fucking dumbass!" Raicha commented, making a rude gesture towards Harrandar.

"You said it! Armour or not, I'd kick his-..." Hiroi began, Mirinda trying to calm them down.

"Easy girls; remember the trial" she hushed them, Hiroi and Riacha doing their best to calm down.

"Welcome, Allisia Lightblade; we've been expecting you..." the hoarse old voice from a an old man sitting at a table said as the group entered.

"Please sit yourself down" another, deep voice sounded; "your companions can join you, should you wish so."

"But Sire..." the hoarse voice said, almost strictly, but the man behind the voice apparently held his comment back.

"Guards, please enlighten us" the deep voice said; almost imidiatly after he spoke, hundreds of small torches hanging in steel holders around the room was lit, the throne now as bright as if it had been bathed in sunlight.

"Uhmm, you've got some extra chairs? We're quite a lot..." Jiraz asked, the sight of her and Shica leading to gasp from the people at the table; various noblemen and noblewomen, all of them richly dressed or clad in heavily docorated armour of various designs.

"A demon?! Guards, slay that foul thing!" an elderly woman pointed sharply at Jiraz, her look of despise clearly visible to all.

As the guards did not move as much as an inch, the elderly lady began snarling at Jiraz.

"You demonic whore! You defile this kingdom with your mere presence, you harlot of a bitch!" she snapped, Jiraz apparently not affected the least, instead grinning at Shica.

"Never fails; first the racism, then the over-zealousness, and then the one about her thinking I'm your common stereotype..." Jiraz said, leaning herself to Shica's shoulder, sighed overdramatically as Shica did her best not to grin.

"How dare you insult me, you worthless-...!" the lady began again, another woman interrupting her; "that's enough, Istannia! We need not hear all about your racism..."

"Well spoken; let her speak for herself" an older man spoke, his thick, black beard and long hair making him look quite savage.

"Well, I just kinda asked for some chairs; we're around eight other people here..." Jiraz asked again, a guard heading towards a small door in the room's southeastern side, another one following him as they brought out some light wooden chairs.

"Thanks" Jiraz said as she sat down, the girls now looking over the table:

Most people around it did not seem to approve of their presence, yet a few looked curiously at them, while a single, older nobleman made the mistake of glaring at Jiraz, which a single, warning look made him quit imidiatly.

"If we are through we greeting each other with violent prejudices and accusions based on their race..." a deep voice now sounded, everyone's eyes turning to the source; "...we should start this trial by now."

Appearing from the shadows, King Arathasa sat down on an empty chair; an old man around fifty-three, his full beard reaching to his chest, his equally long hair reaching to his shoulders; his face was rough and beaten, and his gray eyes had their own, unique glance only a king could boost of.

"Lady Allisia Lightblade, you are charged for high treason against the Crown of Silvarcira for leaving your duties as a Dragon Knight of the kingdom, forsaking your oath and to illegally steal the armour and arms of a Dragon Knight from the Dragon Order's armoury..." Arathasa read up from a scroll on the table, looking at Allisia; " do you plead, Allisia?"

"I am not guilty" Allisia said shortly, the diffrent council members eagerly either discussing, mumbling or sending evil stares at her.

"Why would you not be guilty?" A wicked-looking old nobleman asked sceptically.

"I left my duty to Silvarcira, I know of that..." Allisia said, trying to collect herself; feeling a sudden touch, she found Siriki and Chinyi sitting behind her, smiling encouragingly, reminding her of the Nightwind girls' support.

"To speak from the heart..." Allisia said, her eyes narrowing slightly as she looked over the noblemen and women; "...I despised the rule of the Royal Council! While people suffered in the aftermath of the Divine War, all they cared about was their wallets and power."

"You brat! How dare you speak such lies?!" Lord Harrandar snarled, having decided to attend the trial for the joy of seeing Allisia imprisoned for treason.

"Lord Harrandar, you are not even fit to speak of lies..." Allisia replied in kind, her voice so icy even Rhanar lifted an impressed eyebrow; "...what about the time you claimed me to be the greatest Dragon Knight of the Golden Dragon Order? And the same night, you break into my quarters with the intention of violating me!"

"HARLOT! Filthy little wench! You dare speak to me like that?!" Harrandar brutally slammed his fist into the table, the surrounding council members eagerly debating.

"Hey! Shut your fuckin' trap or go suck your white horse's cock, mother fucker!" Raicha and Hiroi rose up in union, Charlene and Mirinda following the example.

"My liege, should we...?" a guard by the king's side asked, the king shaking his head; in his mind, he was pleased someone came to face the Royal Council and gave him a well-founded reason to, maybe, disband it; as king, he could not just do so, or it would cast a shadow of doubt over his judgement being for the greater good...or for his own interests.

"What did you call me, brat? I know not of that whorish tongue you use!" Harrandar grinned shortly and overconfident; as the girls began protesting, Rhanar gestured to Shica to grab around Jiraz's tail, the demon girl looking about to go berserk in rage.

"Now..." a voice suddenly said through the noise, the attention drawn to a tall figure in a dark-green silk robe; lowering the hood, it revealed an elderly, gray-haired shin'idun, his skin pale and his green eyes focused on Harrandar.

"Now the masks falls..." he sighed heavily; "...the young Lightblade speaks the truth, yet you, as well as I, denies it..." the elf spoke, the wooden staff sitting besides his chair giving off a faint, green glow; "...we used our power as the Royal Council to both banish the king as an infant, as well as denying all of our people the help they needed."

"Someone cut down this mumbling old coot! He speaks in riddles again!" the savage-looking nobleman exclaimed, recieving a medium back-up from the council members.

"If I may speak..." Rhanar now suddenly said, standing up; while not a council member, his dark appearence provided a more silent atmosphere; "...what Lady Allisia and Sage Dawnmist tells us is true; you can all deny and let the guilt rot in your hearts, and if so, you all prove more cowardly than a common brigand."

As silence fell after Rhanar's speech, Shica grinned mentally to herself that, for once, her brother's 'Dark Lord Speech' had been a great help.

"...Uhmm, O...K..." Hiroi said, slowly sitting down, the other girls following the example, although they still sent the council members, the with exception of the king and the elf sage, evil glares.

"Clever words from an abomination as yourself, Narra-Jar..." a shady nobleman wearing a black hood with facemask grinned sarcastically; "...despite the dramatic claim, why should we listen to you and your little harem?"

"ARE YOU FUCKING MENTAL?!" Hiroi yelled in right out fury, slamming her fist into the table; "we're no harem to ANYBODY except our mistress Narrisha! If you can't get it in your fucking mind, we're lesbians, don't do cocks, and we're proud of it to the bone!"

Settling down, panting from outburst, Raicha looked in adoration at Hiroi while the other girls smiled and appluaded at her.

"And before that rattlesnake over there thinks of it..." Jiraz silently hissed, although she could clearly be heard, her voice trembling in anger; "...I swear I'll roast him alive if he starts getting homophobic!"

The masked nobleman, already taken aback by Hiroi's screaming, looked right out scared as he looked to King Arathasa.

"My king, you can't let them speak like that! Brats should not-..." the nobleman began, the king simply lying his hands on the table, sighed heavily and looked around himself.

"I have many soldiers, knights and guards, all serving mine and Silvarcira's interests..." he said, looking towards the council members; "...and yet, behind all my power and glory, there is still something I lack..."

"My liege?" a noblewoman spoke, clearly making an attempt at sounding sympathic, which failed miserably.

"I lack the ability to draw a line..." the king said, folding his hands into fists; "...the council has over a dozen members, and by that dozen, over half of you have secretly tried and either backstab me, threaten to declare war on Silvarcira, or for that matter to disband my People's Council..." Arathasa now spoke, his eyes looking sadly to the elf sage.

"While it is with a heavy heart, I must make this clear..." the king said, standing up, his voice sounding clear as glass; "...from this moment forth, the Royal Council, its privileges, authorities and influence will be withdrawn..." Arathasa spoke, his eyes looking in anger on the council members; "...the Royal disbanded."

A roar of anger rose up from at least seven of the council members; however, the few sitting with their heads down seemed to battle their own guilt.

"Those whom I know I can trust..." Arathasa continued over the noise; "...will be granted a place in the new Alliance Council; in honour of our pact, we shall strive for a prospeous relation to other lands and kingdoms, as well as trust in ourselves and our brothers and sisters."

"You're insane! You'll never maintain your resources without me!" the masked nobleman hissed in fury, a sudden chuckle echoing the room; it was Rhanar's...

"As you speak now of resources, be it gold or lands..." Rhanar said, looking to the king, bowing his head lightly; " soldiers are ensuring a continous income as a boon to Silvarcira."

"Your order is a collection of lunatics and maniacs, Narra-Jar! You know nothing of trade nor..." a noblewoman spoke, Rhanar's sudden glow of purple in his eyes scaring her as he looked at her.

"It pains me deeply to speak as such to a woman..." Rhanar said, sighing; "...but I must ask you, my disillusioned lady, to shut up about things you merely hear on the streets...if your silk robes can even touch the stones because of your, apparent, saint-like divinity."

Hearing Rhanar speak something like that to a noblewoman made the Nightwind girls stare at him; he, who never hurt women, had just insulted a noblewoman; however, as they began to think of it, they found her to deserve it.

The noblewoman simply starred at Rhanar, her gaze hollow as she sunk back into her chair.

"I would apoligise for insulting you..." Rhanar said coldly; "...but since your peasents had to pay those extra three hundred Ara because of your need for a new wardrobe, I would say the truth should not be denied."

"Lord Narra-Jar..." the king now said, looking at Rhanar; "...what did you mean with a 'boon'?"

"I knew that practically no-one in the council would enjoy losing their power..." Rhanar said; " I made sure to collect a small sum of Ara for you to hand out to the people, as they will now need gold to pay the taxes from elsewhere."

"Hey, dude..." Raicha now said, looking in her pockets, finding a single, golden Ara; "...with all this lack of gold and all that shit, you being banished and all, take this one for your new rule; just don't go messing up..."

With that, Raicha flipped the Ara coin towards Arathasa, who caught it in his armoured gauntlet; as he smiled under his beard, he closed his hand around the coin.

"What is your name, girl?" he asked.

"Raicha, dude..." Raicha grinned to herself, tossing her head back, her blonde hair swinging along.

"I would ask your forgiveness, then..." Arathasa said, standing up; "guards, leave us be; escort the former council out."

A united growling were heard from the mass of nobles as they left, the elf sage about to rise up as Arathasa held up his hand.

"Hold, Icaris; you may remain here, being the one to show your loyalty by admitting your mistakes" the king said, leaving Rhanar, the Nightwind girls, Jiraz, Shica, the king and the elf sage alone in the room.

"Now that the political part of the trial came to a late end..." Arathasa said, looking at Allisia; "...your judgement will be as follows, Lady Lightblade."

Feeling quite nervous, Allisia steeled herself, smiling even at the thought of the girls sitting right beside her.

"You may no longer call yourself a Dragon Knight of neither Silvarcira nor the Golden Dragon Order..." Arathasa said, continuing; "...your loyalty to Silvarcira were never in doubt, and thus, you will be cleared of the charge for so-called 'high treason'."

"Thirdly and finally, you may consider this 'Nightwind Manor' your home with my blessings; Silvarcira will not ask for your services anymore" Arathasa finished, Allisia overjoyed that her fear were unfounded.

"YES! WE'LL GET ALLISIA BACK! WE'LL GET ALLISIA BACK!" Chinyi began singing out loud in happiness, Siriki joining in, both of them hugging Allisia, who felt herself as happy as she could ever be with the girls.

"Now, you do peek an old man's curiosity with that mysterious tale..." Arathasa said, stroking his beard as he pondered; "...say, can we talk, person to person, of what this manor really is? You girls seems to pride yourselves greatly of it."

As Charlene looked at Faris, the redhead sent Charlene a teasing grin; indeed they had tales for the king...

"So what you say, is that you Nightwind girls live at this isolated manor..." Arathasa asked, feeling quite enlightened; " which you live, being a domain only for girls to enter?"

"Yep, there hasn't been any men inside that manor ever since Narrisha took over it" Faris explained, the king nodding as he was still curious.

"And so you gladly make love to each other randomly, proving yourselves...damn, sorry, I don't remember the name..." the king said, cursing his bad memory.

"It's called lesbism, Your Highness; it is when girls find an attraction and love for other girls, leading them to, well, choose their own gender to love" Mirinda explained, glad that the king took the case maturely.

"Ah, that broadens my insight; however, as you claim you can rid each other of your virtue, and that almost all of you accept it..." Arathasa asked, his eyebrows narrowing in deep thinking; "...yet, how do you know? When can you tell if you're allowed to or not?"

"It's all a matter of trust and love, Your Highness..." Allisia spoke, grinning to Charlene; " for myself, I allowed Charlene here to ravish me."

"Would that not prove you lovers or soul-mates?" the king asked.

"Nah, we're kinda in a 'free love' mojo at Nightwind, Mr. King" Chinyi said, snuggling her nose against the smiling Siriki's.

"Nevertheless, be certain that your manor will remain isolated from Silvarcira's eyes..." Arathasa said, stroking his beard; "...I respect Lady Allisia enough to allow her, as well as you, complete privacy."

"Thank you, Your Highness" Allisia said, nodding her head in a bow.

"Now..." Ararthasa said, standing up; "...while I attend to some meetings regarding the new council, why don't you take a walk around Sarrania? I would like to know your thoughts of our city."

"I wouldn't mind that; what say you, girls?" Charlene said, the other girls not seeing anything else to do while the king debated.

"You could also simply return to the manor; as for me, I would ask if I could be allowed to perticipate in the meeting, noble king" Rhanar suggested, looking towards Arathasa.

"Let it be so, then" Arathasa nodded, Rhanar following the king.

"Hey! For those who wanna head back to the manor, is your portal still up?" Hiroi asked before Rhanar left.

"I believe so; if not, just ask at the Azure Tower that you need a portal; ask for Vlad'Darsa and say that Rhanar sent you" Rhanar informed, disappearing behind a door, the last glimpse of him being a swipe from his cloak.

Chapter 7

Title: Chapter - A Tour of the City

[Author's notes: Which Rhanar attends a meeting with the king and the newly formed Alliance Council, the girls explore the many locations and facilities of Sarrania.

Faris, Hiroi, Raicha, Chinyi, Siriki, Charlene, Rachel, Mirinda, Allisia, Jiraz, Shica and Jisha]

"The 'Azure Tower'? Sounds kinda geeky..." Raicha mumbled to herself, picking a few pebbles on the road as the girls walked through the city; leading them around, Allisia, Charlene and Faris pointed out intersting locations, such as the Elven Gardens and the Merchant District.

"The Azure Tower is one of the most important buildings in Sarrania, Raicha; I wouldn't judge it as 'geeky'" Allisia corrected her, the group standing at a stall, where some of them were admiring the fine silk clothes...and others the young, blonde girl minding the stall.

"Oh! My, I, I didn't know that..." the girl mumbled in surprise, seeing Jiraz amongst the girls, taken aback at the demon girl's, for a chance, neatly covered body, her black velvet robe still showing off her curvious forms.

"Hmm? You're not a demon racist, are you?" Jiraz asked, surprised that the girl had not screamed and smacked her stall down, escaping into her house.

"No, not really; some of us learned something from the Divine War..." the girl said, raising an eyebrow as Shica now grinned at Jiraz.

"Fancy any of these silks, miss? It's the finest in the district, I assure you" the girl said, Shica looking at a sheat of fine, transparent, silvery white silk.

"Say, would I look sexy in a silk robe?" Shica asked Jiraz, the some of the girls grinning to themselves.

"Hell yeah; you'd look sexy in anything!" Jiraz smiled, Shica chuckling at her, the girl at the stall looking in surprise at them; teasing further, Shica caught Jiraz in the silk sheet, holding her tight and giggling with her as they enjoyed the girl's confused look as Shica hid her face in Jiraz's massive breasts.

"I...I...I haven't seen anything like that in all my life..." the girl stammered, not able to decide if it was a good or bad thing; sighing, she decided to leave it at that as long as those two teasers paid for the silk sheet.

"Urgh! I think I'm getting a rash, somehow..." Jiraz mumbled, stratching her neck as the girls walked down the street, a large, white building towering above them.

"I think it's because we're at some kinda holy place..." Shica wondered, Allisia nodding at them.

"We're at the Church of Tanrisa, a divine place of worship and guidance" she explained, Jiraz's eyebrows rising upwards.

"Great, a bunch of zealots that'll-..." she began, only to see a girl in a white robe walk past them; looking at Jiraz, she simply nodded and made a strange hand sign at her as she passed.

"What was that??" Jiraz asked confused, Allisia smiling at her.

"It was a greeting the church uses; I don't think you will need to fear, Jiraz."

As they approached the church doors, two heavily armoured warriors stood up in front of them, one holding a spear and the other a broadsword.

"Demon, step forth" one of them spoke, his voice ringing under his helmet.

"Uhmm, why, exactly?" Jiraz asked, partly in confussion, partly in mocking.

"We need to make sure you do not carry the Bond" the other warrior spoke, Jiraz understanding what he meant; the 'Bond' was an infernal link between Zharran Zharacai, the Lord of Hell, and his demonic minions.

"Sure, if it'll make you trust us..." Jiraz sighed, Shica standing up to her girlfriend as Jiraz reached out her arm; taking a small flask from his belt, one of the warriors let a liquid, watery fluid onto Jiraz's hand...

...Nothing happened...

"You are not a servant of Hell; enter with Our Lord's blessings..." one of the warriors said, the two of them opening the doors to the girls.

"Uhmm, what was that about?" Charlene asked Allisia.

"Had Jiraz been a servant of Hell, her arm would have been greviously burned..." Allisia explained.

"My Jiraz's sure no servant of Hell! How dare they assume that??" Shica asked in frustration, Jiraz giggling at her.

"Well, my claws, horns, wings and fiery personality might give a wrong first impression to holy warriors..." she grinned, Shica sighing and carassing Jiraz's waist.

"Gods' blood! To meet you here of all places, Daina" Rhanar said, raising an eyebrow at the shin'saras woman in front of him.

"The same to you, Rhanar; what are you doing here?" Daina asked as she held her hand out for a handshake, which Rhanar gladly took.

"I have been at a meeting with the king regarding Lady Allisia" Rhanar told his old friend; in truth, he might never have become the warrior he was today if not for Daina's help.

"Oh, that human knight? Yeah, I've heard she's heading for that Nightwind place now" Daina said, nodding at Rhanar; "but, say, how have you been? it's been, what, twenty years...?"

"Twenty mortal years, I would say; I have yet to forget about you helping me through most of my childhood..." Rhanar said, respectfully bowing his head for Daina; "...if not for you, I might neither have found my mother's respect...or even lived to this day."

"Ah, it was just some guys trying to descriminate you, Rhanar..." Daina grinned, folding her hand into a fist; "...if they won't hear, they have to feel; and heck, they only acted tough because-..."

"...Because I am a draconoid, I know that..." Rhanar assured Daina, looking at his hand; concentrating, he let his draconic side out, his white nails forming into claws; "...but, in truth, I hardly think calling me 'freak' would make me whimper now."

"Yeah, I remember; it was not a pretty sight..." Daina said, patting Rhanar's shoulder; "but hey, they're gone now; you came out fine from your childhood, right?"

"Let me just say that I, in all truth, really enjoy my life..." Rhanar smiled to himself, looking at Daina; "...say, mind a walk? I assume you have the time?"

"Sure! I was hoping to find my lover here, though" Daina nodded, Rhanar's eyebrows raising in surprise.

"A lover? May I know who?" he asked.

"Ah, it's Xinri Bloodfang; she's wonderous, Rhanar..." Daina smiled at the thought of her lover, Rhanar not all too surprised.

"Xinri? Ah yes; you even spoke of her back when we were children..." Rhanar said as they began walking towards the mages' district.

"I know; I was in love already back then..." Xinri sighed dreamingly, Rhanar sighing delightfully; he felt happy for Daina, as the girl really deserved some loving from someone close to her after a childhood in the streets.

"Shinris walks with you, Daina..." he bowed his head in a nod; "...I know of her reputation; she is a brilliant warrior."

"I know..." Daina sighed again, her thoughts completly fixed on Xinri; "...she's supposed to be here, collecting bounties; I'd hoped to meet her by the Azure Tower."

"Wow; what's this thing?" Shica asked curiously, pointing at a shard of metal lying on a white pillow atop the altar of the church.

"It's the shard from the first Holy Sword, Goldwing..." a priestess answered her, smiling to herself; " is the church's most sacred and priceless artefact."

"Hey, wait; wasn't Goldwing, like, Tanrisa's sword?" Chinyi asked confused, looking to Siriki, who looked equally perplexed.

"Isn't Brightsteel unbreakable?" Charlene asked as well, stepping closer to examine the white metal of the shard.

"Indeed, but it can be broken by extremly powerful demonic weapons..." a nearby paladin turned her helmet-clad head; "...however, as any scholar would know, Goldwing were broken in half by one of Zharran Zharracai's diabolic attacks."

"But Tanrisa won the fight, anyway..." Mirinda said, smiling to herself for her great knowledge of Varran's most legendary events; "...he is practically the reason we're not all demonic servants of Hell, today."

"Yeah yeah, it's all nice and glorious..." Jiraz said, leaning to a wall; "...but, heck, as long as we're not serving that sucker, I'd say demons aren't really as evil as the church here makes up."

"You misjudge us, horned one..." an older priest said as he stepped down from the altar; "...we are not the so-called 'Silver Blades'; we seek understanding rather than destruction for our enemies; we battle the evil within, not on the outside."

"Hmm? You mean the church here actually evolved since you nearly roasted Narrisha Nightwind?" Jiraz snorted sceptically, Faris and Allisia exchanging nods; they really had no respect for the church, solely because of that.

"The vampire? Priestess, was it not High Priest Falanor that demanded her excorism?" the older priest asked, the priestess nodding slowly, clearly not too happy with the High Priest's decision back then.

"Falanor might be a light elf, but his hate for everything non-elven was too much for the Niyar..." the older priest explained, his voice sounding almost happy; "...he was thrown out of church, taking his hatred with him to those ranegades you've come to know as the Silver Blades."

"But, hold on a second; if this Tanrisa guy's sword is broken, and you said it was the old one..." Jisha suddenly asked, her mothers following her up to the pillow where the metal shard rested; "...does he, you know, have a new sword now?"

"Indeed; it's called Dawnbringer, and it is even more powerful than his first blade..." Allisia now explained; "...legend has it that if a mortal as much as just look at it, his or her soul will be filled with serenity, courage and hope."

"Nice, a weapon against depression" Jisha said sarcastically, Jiraz and Shica trying to hide their laughing.

Meanwhile, Rachel Chinyi and Siriki found themselves in the church's armory, an elderly paladin keeping a close eye on the young girls.

"Hey, why is all your armour so round and shiny? Do you even use it?" Chinyi asked, having expected the paladins' armour to be well-used and having some rust, or at very least some blood stains.

"We White Knights of Varran prefer diplomacy over combat, and since the king has dealt with most of Silvarcira's problems, we are rarely sent into battle, neither by King Arathasa nor High Lady Allisia" the paladin answered, Rachel, Siriki and Chinyi looking at him in awe.

"Allisia?! But, but she's staying with us in Nightwind Manor!" Rachel said, the paladin chuckling under his helmet.

"No, no, children, I speak of the Niyar, Lady Allisia; she was one of the church's finest warriors, and after she fell, she was ressurected as an angel in Heaven's army..." the paladin explained, opening his visor, the girls seeing his eyes almost glow; "...she became a symbol of our might, and our hope for the future."

"So...Allisia's aunt...also named Allisa...became a freaking angel?!" Chinyi asked herself, her, Rachel and Siriki issuing a fan-girlish shriek.

"We gotta tell Allisia!" Siriki grinned, the girls abandoning their investigation of the armory, bolting out the door to find Allisia, leaving the old paladin smiling to himself.

Wow! This is one serious looking shield..." Raicha almost gasped, looking at a solid, oval shield trimmed with white gold, its surface of Brightsteel shining and reflecting her face like glass.

"Gods, if you had that thing you wouldn't need armour at all..." Hiroi commented in equal amazement; as the girls went about in the church, they admired the many relics, artefacts and pictures of fallen and living heroes, named and unnamed.

" are a...a child of these two...?" an elderly priestess asked Jisha in amazement and slight fear, looking from Jisha to Shica and Jiraz.

"Yeah, they're my moms; uhmm, you won't go all homophobic now, will you...?" Jisha asked the priestess nervously.

"Heaven forbid I will! Gods, do not assume me to be so narrow-minded, child..." the priestess said, taken slightly aback.

"Oh! Oh, sorry; didn't mean to insult you...." Jisha apoligised, Jiraz patting her daughter's head gently.

"What the heck is taking her so long?? Urgh!" Daina impatiantly mumbled to herself, Rhanar understanding her clearly; they had been waiting for Xinri for nearly ten minutes at the Azure Tower, and she had yet to show up.

"Well, maybe I could tell what is keeping her..." Rhanar said, brushing his cloak a bit over the right shoulder; "...can I have a thought of yours?"

"E-excuse me, a what??" Daina asked, making Rhanar give her a selfish smile.

"I do not only command dark magic, Daina; I did not spend hours after midnight reading book after book of mystical powers for nothing..." he explained, pointing at Daina's forehead; "...if I may, I need you to think of a moment you were with Xinri and focus on it while I draw it into my own mind so I can mentally locate her."

"So you're stealing a memory??" Daina asked, Rhanar tipping his head to the right and eyeing her sceptically.

"...Alright, I get it; I was just joking..." Daina grinned uncertainly, Rhanar nodding, unamused.

"How well-thought and convincing; now if you will, please stand still..." Rhanar said as Daina closed her eyes, focusing the best she could as she felt Rhanar's metal-clad finger touch her forhead; before she could react to the cold adamantine touching her head, Rhanar had stepped back.

"...Did I need to know that she wears a black and red leather suit under her armour...?" he asked sceptically, Daina blushing.

"Hmm...? Oh, I sense her nearby; just on her way from the harbour; now she is passing a cart, and-..." Rhanar told, opening his eyes as he heard tapping, and stopped as he saw Daina shake her head and tap her foot in impatience at him.

"Hmm?" Rhanar asked, not understanding Daina's gesture.

"She's my lover, but I don't need magic to know what she's doing..." Daina sighed, Rhanar nodding that he understood.

"I say we remain here; she should be here in two minutes' time" Rhanar suggested, Daina nodding and leaning herself against the tower's wall.

"So, how is the Bloody Blade doing?" Rhanar asked, finding it a good topic, as it had always been his favorite inn.

"It's good, just some dumb orc guy getting his hand cutt off last week..." Daina smiled to herself, amused at seeing Rhanar's eyebrow rise up in surprise.

"What had he done?" Rhanar asked, Daina wringing her wrist back and forth and examining her nails.

"The idiot came in drunk and tried flirting with a Scarlet Sister; bad temper, I tell you; she sent that hand flying over three tables and behind my desk" Daina told, sighing; " took ten minutes to get the blood stains off."

"You actually start wondering if that orc had seen it coming, but just were too dumb to realize his own folly..." Rhanar said, shaking his head.

"Sire, this is insanity! Let me at least call an escort first!" a Dragon Knight pleaded King Arathasa; his king were leaving the castle without any guards, simply to have a drink at the Silver Swan inn.

"I should not need to fear my own people, friend; I simply intend to learn of the conditions my rule and reign affect them with" Arathasa said, his formal dark-blue and white attire hidden under a well-used, gray cloak with hood; the only thing showing his royal authority, was his sword, Flame.

"...Very well, Sire..." the knight bowed, his lord marching past him, the knight not liking his king's idea to any point.

"I didn't know a church could be so interesting..." Jisha said, holding her arms over her neck as she walked down the streets with the other girls; "...I always thought it'd be some grumbling old coots mumbling prayers and all that stuff."

"I feel a bit weird about it; I mean, both Allisia and I are Silvarciraians, but I've never been to church, myself" Charlene said, Allisia looking at her.

"A church of Tanrisa is a place of serenity and spiritual enlightment; you are basically starring into a mirror to Heaven" Allisia said; "when I was a Dragon Knight, I was always to pray an hour before turning in for the night."

"An hour?! Holy crap, that's gotta be boring!" Shica exclaimed in disbelief, Jiraz smirking at her.

"If we can stop all this religious talk, where can we eat? I'm fucking starving back here!" Raicha complained, Siriki and Chinyi eyeing her surprised.

"But you ate just back at the Silver Swan!" Chinyi said in surprise, Siriki and Faris giggling at Raicha.

"For fuck's sake, the girl's no good at stopping when it's best for her..." Faris grinned, seductively letting her arm over Raicha's shoulder; "...what about last week when you said you loved doing it with me in dog-...?"

"That's completly diffrent!" Raicha blushed violently, Allisia rolling her eyes and secretly grinning as Raicha snorted at Faris as she began grinning at her.

"Daina! How've you been??" Xinri hugged her lover warmly, Daina blushing and hugging back; standing under the Azure Tower, she had really missed Xinri these last few days, her lover having run Silvarcira thin for bounties, rewards and gold.

"Hmm? Who's that dude?" Xinri suddenly asked, releasing herself and looking at Rhanar; the draconoid responded by a deep bow.

"Don't you remember him? That's Rhanar, you know, 'draco dude'" Daina reminded Xinri of their childhood frined, Xinri grinning at Daina.

"That dude with all the morale and 'I'll defend girls for the rest of my life' complex?" Xinri asked, Daina nodding, Rhanar narrowing his eyebrows; 'draco dude'? Had he really been nicknamed that?

"So, how are you doing then, Rhannie?" Xinri asked, Rhanar steppeing towards her.

"Quite well; founded an order, increased my powers, opened my soul to my draconoid nature..." Rhanar said non-challant, Xinri eyeing him sceptically.

"Come now, 'draconoid nature'?? You're just a shin'saras like us, just with white claws instead of nails" Xinri said, Daina patting her shoulder; as she turned around, Daina shoke her head.

"Uhmm, Xinri, he's serious; you pretty much don't screw with Rhanar unless you're friends with him" Daina partly warned, partly explained, Rhanar surprised at this sudden respect of his powers.

"Let's see then; lemme see that 'almighty' power, then" Xinri grinned, standing beside Daina, crossing her arms.

"As you wish" Rhanar said simply, turning his hands upwards closing near all his fingers apart from the index and little finger; concentrating his energies, he turned his head back, breathing in deep...

In the next instant, black wings sprouted from his back, horns grew on his head, and claws appeared in carefully designed openings in his gauntlets' fingers.

"So..." Rhanar said, grinning a bit as he flapped with his wings with the force of a sail, folding them on his back and letting both mystical and dark magic run through him, manifesting like lightning across his body; " this what you consider a draconoid?"

"...Holy Heaven...Daina, is he for real with all that 'Dark Lord' theme?" Xinri asked in part shock, part amusement.

"Kinda, yeah; he'd kill any idiot guy who tries flirting with us" Daina nodded, Xinri looking at her lover.

"Daina, you could have told me in your letters that you'd meet an old friend of ours with enough power to blow Varran apart!" Xinri said sarcastically, Daina grinning and kissing Xinri's cheek.

"I just meet him a few minutes ago; he's been helping out a friend of his" Daina explained with a grin, Rhanar tuning down his powers, the lightning disappearing as he surpressed his energies.

"Still, I do not hope you will mind me greeting you properly?" Rhanar asked, walking towards Xinri, offering her a handshake, which she took.

"'re still as zealous as ever?" she asked, daring to jest and tease Rhanar a bit, dracoinoid or not.

"If not more; my order helps me out greatly, as they all see things from my perspective..." Rhanar explained; "...we Sharas'Car all believe that women should be valued instead of being treated like objects of carnal urges by the more primitive of males."

"And, who has these urges? You got any proof?" Xinri asked sceptically, Rhanar nodding as he pointed to his palm.

"See this small scar? That comes from Archmage Facra..." Rhanar told, pointing a claw to a small wound in his palm; "...he fired a bolt of mystical lightning at a corrupted city guard seeking to fornicate with his unwilling daughter."

"So why did you get hit?" Xinri asked.

"...For an archmage, Facra aims like a blindfolded; he simply let his anger get the better of him, and I was the one to deliever the final blow to the guard; I knocked him down, after Facra nearly blew my hand off" Rhanar hissed, Xinri almost scarred to hear a growling undertone in his voice.

"What about the daughter?" Daina asked.

"She was fine, just shocked; I left Facra to clam her while I dragged the guard back to his headquarters..." Rhanar said, closing his palm into a fist, smiling wickedly; "...I had hoped worse for him, but at least he was thrown out of the City Guard and directly to jail."

"So, you new in town, pal?" a scarred orc asked Arathasa as he was handed his mug of mead.

"You could say that; I'm called 'Crow' around Silvarcira, but I have never been to the capital..." Arathasa said, the orc raising an eyebrow at him.

"Well, I've not been around for long, but I sure say these humans are quite the bunch; ethics, morales, honour, and heck, they even get good fighters out of that! What has the world come to?" the orc grinned, gesturing to an empty table; "let me fill you in from my point of view, Crow."

Nodding, Arathasa sat down beside the orc, who kept a watchful eye on the other patrons.

"If you don't mind me asking..." Arathasa began, hoping to test the orc; "...what do you make of the ruler of this land?"

"King Arathasa? Bloody Hell, his beard may be old and graying, but he's the right kind of leader his kingdom needs! Hell, weren't it for him and his United Alliance, we orcs and those pale-skin shin'idun might never have settled down over a mug o' ale rather than toss axes and spears around!" the orc pounded into the table to mark his point, Arathasa raising an eyebrow at him.

"So you think him to be a competent leader?" he asked, the orc coughing as he almost choked on his mead.

"'C-competent'?? That old fart's got more brains inside his skull than soldiers rallying to his banner out of sheer loyalty, and that's a bloody bunch!" the orc laughed, slamming his fist into the table; "what I'd really like is to see that famous blade of his!"

"You mean Flame, the Sacred Sword of the Dragon Kings?" Arathasa asked, amused at how the conversation went.

"Yeah, that nice piece of solid steel and dragon flames!" the orc said, sighing; "I've always been a bit of a geek when it comes to metals and craftmanship..."

"See, my good orc, your interest in my kingdom and our greater interest in your tribes and the soon-to-be alliance between us intrigues me..." Arathasa spoke, raising his hood a bit, the orc starring in shock at the Dragon King; " I will ask your silence about my presence, and in return, you may inspect my blade."

Gesturing to the orc, he followed as Arathasa rose up, heading for a darker corner of the inn.

"'re the bloody Dragon King?! What in Hell's unholy name are you doing here amongst...the, the rabble, and-...??" the orc began, Arathasa holding up his hand, smiling weakly.

"Rabble? If you think me to be like the Dragon Kings of old, ancient Silvarcira, you are much mistaken, friend..." Arathasa said, standing against the wall; "...I seek better relation to my citizens and people by walking amongst them, learning of their needs, and the consequences of my decisions as their king."

"So that's what you're making your 'People's Council' for? let even a beggar or simple farmer into your castle to hear them out??" the orc asked perplexed, having read that the old Dragon Kings had been more of mighty warlords and tyrants over time than anything like this Arathasa fellow, having abused their semi-immortality.

"Indeed, I value the people greatly...and after what I saw of the Royal Council, power and greed are too costly for my kingdom to bear..." Arathasa mumbled, his eyes narrowing in anger; "...I will not let anything alike their selfishness corrupt my city, or be the cornerstone of my rule like my forefathers before me!"

"Milord, what of the...what of the queen, Alinor? How will sh-..." the orc asked, surprised as the king looked as if hit through the chest by an arrow.

"Alinor fell during the Divine War..." Arathasa said, shaking his head; " only comfort is the knowledge that she ascended to Heaven...I saw the Niyar and Aitar lift her up..." Arathasa said, sighing heavily.

"Lord! In this, we are brethern, Lord daughter fell during the war, as well, as well as my wife and uncle..." the orc growled, his mane of dark-red hair looking like a storm cloud as he shoke his head in frustration; "...this is to our fallen! Both human, orc, dwarf and elf!"

By that, the orc leaned his head back, roaring to the ceiling so loudly that Arathasa could see his heavy iron chestplate creak under his muscles.

"I swear to you, King Arathasa; this orc shall be the first to stand by your banner should any of those chaos swines from Hell ever return!" the orc growled, folding his fist and patting the broadsword by his side.

"Not all from Hell are murderous monsters and sadistic slayers, friend; Jiraz Blackwhip are but one of many examples of those renegade 'Hellions' who has turned their backs on their former masters..." Arathasa said, gesturing with an open palm over the inn; "...see these people? No-one here might be aware that not all demons seek harm for the races of Varran."

"Blackwhip, Blackwhip...ah! Oh, that Blackwhip! Yes, I hear she fell in love with the princess of Shacar-Jarcu!" the orc raised his bushy eyebrows in surprise, laughing; "were that true, I sure hope she lights the excitement in the princess' private quarters!"

"From what I saw by her and her friends, this 'lesbism' they pride themselves of sits deeply to their hearts..." Arathasa nodded, crossing his arms over his chest; " that, their courage to be just to their feelings equals our courage on the battlefield."

"They pop out of the closet, we pop the heads of the enemies of Varran!" the orc laughed, raising his fist.

"You could explain in that way, yes...but they are just as skilled fighters as we are, I feel..." Arathasa shoke his head, gesturing the orc with him towards the bar, using his cloak and hood to cover Flame and his face.

"I never believed humans could be so creative..." Rhanar nodded impressed under his hood, Daina and Xinri having taken him to the jousting grounds outside Sarrania Castle, the large, open plaza filled with people from across the whole city.

"If you're smart, tip on Lady Fairwind; she's awesome!" Xinri remarked, Rhanar raising his eyebrows in surprise.

"Really? What is her coat-of-arms, or is she a Dragon Knight?" he asked.

"She's a Dragon Knight, and a badass, too! She has the record in jousting, as well" Diana said, Rhanar looking at the shields the few Dragon Knights on the grounds held or sat resting on the ground.

"There she is; over by the stables" Xinri pointed, Rhanar spotting a younger human woman, twirling her sword in circles, obviously readying herself for a duel.

"May I speak to her before her contest?" Rhanar asked, Daina nodding at him, Rhanar standing up and heading across the plaza.

"No, no; you betted 15 Ara on Vulfka, not ten!" a city guard argued with another as he had opened a wallet, pointing at it to drop the loser's coins into.

"No, it was 10 Ara, I said!" the other guard argued back, opening his visor and showing the other guard a handful of Aras.

"What might the issue be, gentlemen?" Rhanar asked as he walked by, stopping up by the guards, who were not too surprised to see what they thought to be a common shin'saras around the jousting grounds.

"This lying wretch bet 15 Ara that that orc warrior Vulfka would win the last duel, and now he claims he only betted 10!"

"So your day is ruined over a handful of Aras? Tsk, very well..." Rhanar grinned sarcastically, waving his hand over the coins, making them disappear into his hand.

"I could solve this by keeping your coins..." he suggested to the stunned guards; "...or you could stop gambling your gold away over games."

"That's stealing just you know it, elf!" one of the guards mumbled angrily, Rhanar's eyes focusing on him.

"Be that as it may, but let this be a lesson to you..." Rhanar said, opening his hand and letting a smaller flood of Aras fall into the amazed guards' hands; "...with about 100 Ara each, I doubt you would toss them away on mindless gambling."

"N-no! Of course not; forgive us, sir..." one of the guards apoligized, helping the other collecting the coins.

"Remember: Others may need this more than you, so do not use it selfishly" Rhanar said, heading towards the human Dragon Knight's tent.

"So you are unaware of what foe you face, and yet you will fight anyone, be it orc, dwarf or elf?" Rhanar asked the Dragon Knight, who simply shrugged and brushed her short lavender hair out of her eyes, adjusting her helmet's visor.

"I honour the example of Allisia Lightblade; she was the greatest of all the Dragon Order..." she simply nodded, gesturing to Rhanar for her sword, which he gave her.

"'Was'? Last I met her she still would be a great warrior...although with a more open mind than most other knights, if I may say it..." Rhanar said, the Dragon Knight turning around, looking sceptically at him.

"Is that an insult? Do you believe all Dragon Knights to blind themselves behind a veil of dicipline and mindless principles?" she asked; "I know of Allisia's choice of intimacy; I will not judge her on such a small matter."

"'Choice'? You sound as if the Lady Knight were being forced to love other women..." Rhanar asked, crossing his arms over his chest; "...Allisia did not 'chose' to love other women; see it like an iron-locked chest, to which her heart was the key; in the end, she dared open the chest, and its glory shun through her body, mind and soul in the end: The essence of freedom."

"I'm not sure the Sapphire Circle would see the point in me standing around and listening to your politics..." the orc mentioned to Arathasa as they entered Sarrania Castle.

"You are a guest of mine, and a good example to my new way of reign over Silvarcira..." Arathasa mentioned; "...there will be equality for all; warriors, peasents, farmers and nobles."

"And those spellsplingers of the Cirlce? Where's their place in your kingdom, Arathasa?" the orc asked.

"The same as everyone else; the Sapphire Circle is sworn to the kingdom and the people's protection for starters..." Arathasa said, opening a door for the orc to enter; "...and when I mention 'the people', I mean all of them; the city's gates will be open to all, even those not of Silvarcira."

"Well, you've already let a powerful demon lass walk around the streets, so if that doesn't yell 'room for all', nothing in Hell ever will!" the orc barked, slamming his fist into his palm; "you're of a good bloodline, Arathasa; most of you Arannorians knew the diffrence between right and wrong..."

"I have my share of black sheep in my family; I'm not always proud to bear the name Arannor..." Arathasa sighed, sitting down on his throne; "...but alas, I still have a lifetime to make up for my family's past sins and arrogance."

"Not all your ancestors carried the gift I gave with responsibility, young Arathasa..." a voice echoed over the room, Arathasa and the orc shocked as a man entered the room; he wore a gray robe with golden trims, and his hair and beard were as if made from fluid gold, his eyes glittering like embers.

"L-Lord Laracris...?" Arathasa asked nervously, holding a hand to his heart, his blue tabard and his crest, the Golden Dragon of Silvarcira, suddenly feeling as if he was unworthy of wearing it.

"This gathering of your kingdom is a wise move, Arathasa, and thus, I come to speak for my kin..." the man said, the orc looking confused at him.

"Your 'kin'? I thought all dragons bowed down only to themselves and their desires!" the orc asked, the man looking directly at him.

"I have lordship over all dragons as their king, as does Arathasa lord over all humans..." the man pointed at Arathasa; "...alas, we both strive to provide our people and kin guidance and justice; his bloodline were the most noble amongst humans, so I gave him a chance to lead his people."

"What do we owe the honour of your presence, Lord of the North?" Arathasa asked, the man sitting down, a smile rolling over his face.

"We intend to pledge our alligiance to your United Alliance; many of the wiser and younger dragons swore an oath to step in and serve the kingdom in return for a favour they feel has long been them owed..." Laracris spoke, Arathasa leaning in closer.

"Please, do speak of it" Arathasa asked.

"They wish to move freely around Silvarcira without fear of capture and torture; some humans still see dragons as great pets to be tamed for common entertainment..." Laracris said; " long as they wear their humane or elven forms, they wish to be seen as citizens of the kingdom."

"Let it be so; all I regret is that this case has not been brought to my knowledge and attention sooner..." Arathasa said, sounding slightly upset; "...had I known dragons could hardly walk without risk of toils and injustice to their kind, I would have had proof brought to me for judgement."

"Dragons walking Silvarcira?? Uhmm, Lord Laracris, what of the elf-lands and us orcs? Heck, even those little pests that call themselves dwarves..." the orc asked, Laracris eyeing him.

"Your clans have always been watched by dragons, orc; have you ever watched the cliffs, rocks and mountains your desert is covered with? Some of those dark shapes and forms has been dragons standing guard over you."

"By order of His Highness, King Arathasa, you are to be placed under house arrest until your trial" Captain Malaka read up from a scroll, Harrandar starring in disbelief at the royal seal of blue ink.

"This is ridiculous! I will not-..." Harrandar began yelling, but seeing the armoured patrol slowly step closer, as well as their captain keeping a ready hand on the hilt of his sword, Harrandar stepped back.

"Lord Harrandar, from what I hear my men describe from the council meeting, you deserve more than just house arrest..." Malaka spoke; "...but I have no other authority over nobles, so I simply advise you to back down and obey."

"Being Captain of the Royal Guard, I have always thought you to be such a boot-licker, human..." Harrandar spat sarcastically.

"Sir, would it not just be best to lock him up in the dungeons?" a female guardsman asked, Malaka clearly hearing her voice to be angry at Harrandar from under her helmet.

"We serve the king and must trust in His wisdom...but do not give me a reason to slap you in irons, Lord Harrandar..." Malaka pointed an armoured finger to the shin'idun knight; " matter your bloodline, you will obey Silvarciraian law."

"It was a mistake coming to this excuse for a kingdom, I see; your monarch disappears, the Royal Council 'abuses' its power, you let a harlot of a 'knight' escape her deserved fate in prison, and now these...these female girl-lovers prance around the streets like-...!" Harrandar began again, Malaka gesturing to two of his men, the soldiers steeping up towards Harrandar.

"Still your tongue, you viper! Jade! Help me out here, this elf can't take a hint!" one of the soldiers said, the other soldier grabbing Harrandar's arm, the two of them forcing him into his house, slamming the door behind them.

"You're up next; make sure he can't find his way out by any means..." Malaka nodded to a man in a dark-blue robe, who stood up to the door, making odd gestures as its surface began glowing brightly blue.

"It is done; I've sealed him in, like a rodent in its hole..." the man, or rather mage said, turning to face Malaka; "...but it would be humane to station a few guards here to make sure he can live here."

"Do not worry; Jade, Vince and Patrick, you will remain here and watch for our elven traitor..." Malaka responded, the mage snapping his fingers, disappearing in a flash of blue light.

"Well, it's right for the Silver Swan for some ales and wenches for the rest of us!" a guardsman stretched his arms, unaware as Malaka sent him an evil look.

"If so, you might as well hand over your tabard, armour and contract right now! You are a soldier of Silvarcira and its crown, not some common, drunken harbour lout!" Malaka grunted at the soldier, who felt Malaka's, as well as several female guardsmen's stares were getting quite hostile.

"OK, OK, I get it..." he mumbled, Malaka looking at the rest of his patrol.

"Men, if you intend to head for the Silver Swan after duty, be mindful of this one..." Malaka gestured a thumb over his shoulder; "...we wear our armour and our tabard for a reason; if we are to protect the people, they must be able to trust us not getting drunk and fuzz about women as were they cheap courtesans."

"Yessir!" the patrol saluted, Malaka gesturing them to follow him, Jade, Vince and Patriack standing by their post, Jade taking off her helmet and holding it under her arm, revealing a jade-haired young girl barely out of teenage.

"I don't get it; why is this guy so dangerous?" she asked, the two other guards shrugging.

"I don't know; all I've heard is that he were pretty much used to to wield too much power for his own interests..." the one named Vince said, unsheathing and examining his sword.

"And these female lady-lovers he spoke of? Well, for my money, I've seen demons and humans together, already, so it's no real surprise..." Patrick added, opening his visor.

"What's not a surprise? I woudn't be caught dead having some little demon tart grasping for me..." Jade crossed her arms stubbornly, Vince grinning to himself.

"What I meant is, things are changing; the king's back, we've gotten rid of all this political chaos the Royal Council made, and if we're lucky, xenophobia will be a thing in the past, someday..." Vince said, brushing off a small tain on his sword.

"But these...'lady-lovers'...what are they like? Are they dangerous?" Jade asked, Patrick looking sceptically at her.

"From what I heard from the maids at the Silver Swan, this 'Allisia', that warrior lady is one of 'em; I tell you, the only thing I think you'll need to fear, Jade, is if they're either drunk...or desparte..."

"Are you insulting me?!" Jade snapped, her hand reaching for her sword, Vince and Patrick laughing as she grit her teeth angrily.

"So proud you to make this interesting?" Vince asked, Jade sending him a poisonous look.

"Vince, last you said that, a sergeant's purse were missing half its content..." Jade said, Vince shrugging.

"What I meant is, if you get these here lady-lovers to as much as notice you, we'll both pay you 50 Ara..." Vince pointed out, Patrick raising an eyebrow under his helmet.

"Count me in for 70 Ara; you're pretty, Jade, but these here womenfolk from that manor...well, let's just say they're like goddesses descending on Varran, as far as I've gathered..." Patrick teased, Jade feeling herself offended.

"Deal! If these here women start noticing me, you'll pay up...or I'll be collecting the gold from your corpses; got it?!" she snarled, Vince and Patrick both stretching out their hands, Jade adding her own to the two, sealing the deal.

"Well, we might pay more if one of them bunks with you and you'll tell the details..." Vince added with a grin, Jade becoming slowly more furious.

"Vince, shut it, or I'll castarate you and feed your testicles to the closest guard dog!" Jade said as she put her helmet back on, marching off in the distance.

"We'll tell Captain Malaka you went off to replace your tabard!" Vince yelled after her; "it 'is beginning to look too small...!"

"SHUT IT!" Jade shouted back, hearing her comrades laugh as she marched off, her cheeks flushing red in anger.

"With respect, sir; weren't you a little hard on Vince?" one of Malaka's soldiers asked as they stood on the market, enjoying a few minutes' peace.

"Syrix, I do not give a damn about how his parents must have raised him, or his beliefs, but I do not want my soldiers prance around like urge-driven teenagers..." Malaka said shortly, looking sharply at Syrix; "...and I still remember the time I found that elbow-plate of your armour in that courtesan's bed."

"What?! No way..." a nearby soldier almost choked on the apple he had bought, looking surprised at Syrix, who angrily opened her visor, looking sourly at Malaka.

"You gave me your word you would save such fornications for your private life, and in return..." Malaka now faced his men; " here is to point fingers at Syrix; her heart pounds for something ours does not, but as long as she stands under her rightful king's banner, treat her with the respect she deserves."

"But she's a half-blooded! It's no wonder her tail swings to her own side!" a sour-looking female soldier scoffed at Syrix, Malaka eyeing the soldier angrily.

"Listen here, all of you; I realize you are all recruits, fresh from the academy, but for Lord Tanrisa's sake, act to your age and open your eyes to diffrence! Without, the demons of Hell would be eating our corpses by now..." Malaka reminded them, most of the soldiers feeling unsure; the Divine War had been the greatest disaster for mankind ever known.

"Hey, guys; if you've got an issue with me, please, take it up after our duty's done..." Syrix interupted, pointing a thumb towards a man sneaking about close to the food stalls; "...I think we have ourselves a thief."

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