Story: Tales of Darkness - The Knight's Redemption (chapter 7)

Authors: Rhanar Narra-Jar

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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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