The Young, Mysterious Knight
(Words of Caution: Thank you all for encouraging to write Part FOUR. I hope you'd like it. I caution though that Part Four is a narrative from Adrian Sade and from a man's point of view nonetheless. Therefore, be warned that there are a lot of vulgar languages and some perverted thoughts and jealousies. This is also the most serious part out of all the other Parts before since it takes place in a war zone. Will that's is all I could think of to warn you about, if I missed something, I do apology. Otherwise enjoy Adrian's crazy antics!)
War, it’s a bloody mess, bloody muddy messy to be exact! I thought as I rode along side Ferrah’s army down the muddy road toward Tandonia. At the thought of it, this war was going to be my last. I would not regret it one bit. I was doing the right thing, even my mother, the grand duchess of Cirrex could not deny it. Though she was not very considerate in the beginning, she had come to accept my wishes in the end. One of my wishes was to keep Tresou and Cilee ignorant of my departure to Tandonia. Tresou would have ample of responsibilities ahead of him since the dukedom of Cirrex now rested on his young shoulders.
On the other hand, Cilee was the one I was really worried about. It seemed like her sickness was getting worse everyday. She clutched to me whenever I’m around saying and bringing memories from the past that was best left forgotten. I didn’t really know what else to do. I had even invited the best witch doctors in the country, but to no avail, she was reliving the past over and over again. Her only sanctuary now was those outgrown yellow bushes of roses. Day and night, she would repeatedly murmur, “I will take care of these roses until you come back, my love,” as she stroked the rose petals dotingly. Kind of terrifying I might add.
Feeling weary all over again, I wondered why I didn’t follow my plans for an early retirement and ignore this altogether. Like enjoy fishing for an example. Ah, what heaven that life would have been, then again, it would have been hell just sitting there and thinking of Akina hours on ends.
Akina, what a lovely creation from the Gods she was. Good Lord, I nearly tripped myself from the sight of her that evening at the masked ball. Gone with her dark hooded cloak and on with that gorgeous dress. She was a vision of every man’s dream and every woman’s envy with that long, colorful, glossy dawn-like hair of hers. It was so glorious and heavenly it was surreal to think one was not in paradise. Oh, and those full, red, rosy, velvet lips that drove men crazy with wanting to kiss them. Behind the mask laid her incomparable eyes that would suck a man’s soul from his body into its vivid green depths, then literally into death… luckily the mask had helped to conceal her eyes from casting the curse on everyone there.
The ball was a success considering a lot of allies were here on the road. She was a great conversationalist. She had managed by herself to pull everyone into her stories. They were literally eating out of her hands.
Speaking of that, every man in the room was doing the exact same thing and it was not for the stories. Why, I wanted the beat the living daylights out of each one of them for the lust I saw in their eyes. Was I lusting after her as well? Of course I was. I am a man with needs as any others. To tell the truth, I had plenty affairs with women and never lack of them. That was when I’ve tried to turn my attention to a group of young, yet, comely women circling me. But that didn’t last long, I found myself turned toward her every other minute wondering if she would glance my way. But she wouldn’t have been. Just looks around her and one would know. She was surrounded by men all vying for her attention. Some were even fighting with each other in the back because of her. And they didn’t even see her real face yet! I wouldn’t want to imagine the consequences.
After the music set off, even though it was only group dances, I felt like I was dying inside just by watching her dancing with other men. There was no easy term to describe what I felt inside. I knew it was not jealousy. Or was it?
The next thing I did was even more ridiculous! For goodness sake, I bullied her into a dance with me! And a waltz too! I knew I shouldn’t have done it, but my body instinctively walked on its own. I couldn’t believe what came out of my mouth either. “A promise is a promise, Lady Akina.” Oh Lord, she must have wanted to laugh in my face. But then again, I didn’t regret it because she had accepted.
She was radiant in her dancing as in every other way. If that harpy of a girl didn’t open that viscous mouth of hers and gossiped about Akina at that moment, it would have been a beautiful memory for the both of us. I couldn’t stand the worries in Akina’s eyes at that moment. They were so sad and angry that I couldn’t bear the sight of her hurting like that. Away from that place was what she needed.
Without another thought, I dragged her out to the balcony. Poor thing, she was so slummed over it she barely noticed the heated glances thrown at me by the other men. Sadistically, I felt a surge of satisfaction. To hell with them and their lust!
Whoever would have thought such a woman existed. So full of—damn! I’m thinking of her again. Oh, for the love of God, why couldn’t I get her out of my mind? And that kiss, her second she said? Well, if I could have my way, she would be kissed more than a thousand times before the night was over. Bolts of desire struck through me like hot fire passing through my veins for just a mere thought of her. I was going totally insane!
Gathering my posture, I nudged my horse lightly in the ribs and galloped forward ahead for a catch of wind to cool down my system.
As I galloped further ahead, a voice called me from behind.
“Lord Sade, you must slow down. If you go any faster, you would wear out the army.” Lady Melina said cheerfully in her soft tone. She was sitting in a small black carriage led by her footman and two gray horses.
“My apology milady, it’s just so bloody hot out here today.”
“Aye, the heat is getting worse isn’t it? Well, at least we’re getting close to Tandonia.”
“Yes, we are indeed near Tandonia. About half a day travel to be exact. In another two hours, we will stop and set up camp.”
With a glimpse of hesitation, Lady Melina asked, “Please Lord Sade, come inside the carriage, there are matters I wish to discuss with you.”
I obliged by handing the reign of my horse to the nearest knight and hopped into the carriage. Knowing it was a private conversation, we both helped enclosed the windows’ curtains, leaving us in semi darkness. Surprisingly the inside of the carriage was bigger than I thought, big enough to fit me, though it looked otherwise on the outside.
Once I was somewhat comfortably seated across from her, she asked sternly, “will you confront him, Lord Sade?”
She meant Eliasius, I concluded and then responded, “Yes, I believe I have to. Forgive my candid tongue, milady, but it’s about time I show that bastard a life’s lesson. I was meant to do that wasn’t I?”
“Yes, you were meant to face him, but things have changed since Akina had not accompanied us.”
Still confused about Lady Melina’s past premonitions, I asked her cautiously, “What exactly have changed, milady?”
With such youth and beauty for such a woman as Lady Melina, I suddenly saw her paled down to her true age as she retorted, “I will only say that the outcome will be less… destructive if she wasn’t to take part in this war.”
“I truly don’t comprehend your depictions of Akina. She couldn’t have damaged much if she tried… unless she still thinks she could destroy Eliasius by confronting him, but that will not happen since she is safely guarded in Ferrah.”
“Aye, she is safe, but there are still possibilities that she would do otherwise to jeopardize that.”
“What do you mean?”
“I quite don’t know myself. You see, my niece was never docile, you know that from first hand experience I gathered.”
“For that, you are right. Ever since I met her, I only see the untamed recklessness about her. And sometime, it scares the heck out of me.”
“Yes, she was stubborn from the very day she was born. Ebulliently, she was the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. She was vigorous to have been born, crying so loud the glass vase near by shattered into shards. I loved her like she was my own daughter ever since. But beauty was not all that was given to Akina. There were horrific things that entailed,” she paused for several moment than said in a shaky voice that I’ve never in my years heard her say, “I—I knew then she wasn’t a normal born babe, instead, she was a gift from God.”
“‘A gift from God?’” I repeated and pointed a finger toward the sky.
“Yes, I see her as a gift from God, but there were some sources stated that the Paras were generated from a glitch in Divine System.”
“What?!” I was really confused.
“There were several sacred documentaries from ancient monuments and scrolls I was able to translate dated back 3,000 years ago, all evidently and coincidentally, confirmed with the testaments of an ‘ideal being’, the likes of a ‘God’ that walked the earth. Of course, each of those sacred scrolls separated each other around 500 years apart. It was said that about every 500 years, the Goddess of Fortune would go into deep slumber leaving her ‘wheels of Beings’ unwatched, which the outcome resulted in a perfect alignment in the wheel, creating a perfect being almost equal as of a God. These perfect beings are called Para angel. A Para angel was to born onto earth and it could take either a form of a sacred beast or as a human form and live among us. Once a Para was born, the earth itself would trembling in fear radiating a slight earth quake while the sky would flash from bright daylight to pitch black as the night in matter of seconds.”
“Are you saying that this perfect being Para is—is now Akina?”
“Aye, Akina was born exactly 500 years since the last. On the moment she cried out her first breath, the earth did quake and the sky did turn from day into night. But that was the least of the problem, Akina, being born a human and as a babe, nonetheless was vulnerable. Thus, that was why these perfect beings were dubbed Para angels. Para stands short for Parallel. In another word, Para gets to choose their own destiny of good or evil. Which ever side it chooses, the opposite side would suffer. Akina right now is very unstable. One tip of a grain and her emotional traumas could cause her to turn to evil.”
“Akina is not evil!” I stated hastily then added, “And I don’t think she will ever be that.”
“No, Akina herself was never evil, but as I said before, a Para in an infant state is very vulnerable. You see Lord Sade, I wasn’t the only one who was aware of the Para’s existent. After the earth quake and the changes in the sky, another event took place. Out of thin air, a powerful evil source appeared and said it came for the “ultimate Para”. Everyone was confused, but we knew the demon wanted Akina. We tried to protect Akina, but no avails; it froze anyone who stood in its ways including myself. The next moment when we were unfroze, the demon was gone, not even a trace of anything out of place. Of course no one comprehended what had taken place,” she stopped, took a difficult breath and looked up.
“Please continue, milady,” I insisted.
After another pause she said, “N-no one knew, but I did. The demon had somehow possessed Akina since it was the only vulnerable state a Para could be possessed.”
I knew it sounded ludicrous, but I asked her anyway, “Surely there is a way to get the demon out, right?”
“I wish it was that simple Lord Sade.” She glanced down at her hands which was wringing her skirt. “That is also another reason why we’re fighting Eliasius. We need to obtain the bracelet of Calamity from him. With all three items gathered, we could wish to destroy the demon inside her. The demon was the one that caused the curse that is upon you. It wanted to keep away anyone that might be harmful to Akina, so it could have enough time to possess her completely.”
“I apologize, milady, but I suddenly found all these events somehow tied in with each other. It is as if our destinies were connected from the day we were born.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more Lord Sade. Destiny works in strange ways doesn’t it?” She let out a slight bitter smile.
“Lady Melina, have you—have you told Akina about any of this?” I asked warily.
Another bitter smile appeared on her ageless face as she replied, “You could say that I did inform her, but not in great details.”
I knew Lady Melina only wanted the best for her innocent niece, but I continued to ask anyway, “Would it mess up the future if she knew all about your prophecies?”
“God only knew what recklessness she could have caused. She is hot-tempered as it comes.”
I managed to chuckle, “I wouldn’t say it was an honor experiencing her tempers, but it was amusing nonetheless.” A moment of silence came over us as our thought strained toward Akina. “Good God, didn’t you mention something about her wanting to come with us? You don’t think she is following us as we speak, do you?”
“That is what I am worrying about. I ordered that under no circumstances is Akina allowed out of the Ferrah. Though, she could be very persuasive after all.”
“What shall we do if she comes?”
“Since she has both the rings of Faith and Destiny in possession, we cannot allow her to be here. Too many lives would be in jeopardy. Lord Sade, if she did somehow manage to get here, promise me that you will protect her from Eliasius.”
“It’s that severe?”
“Aye, if those two collides, her inner demon might succeed in taking over her considering all the rage she feels for him. We must not let that happens. A Para was supposed to be a blessing. Life on earth would be different if the Para turns evil. You understand that, right Lord Sade?” Her tones sounded like a threat and plead at the same time.
“You can trust me on this, milady.” I assured her. Then I figured it was best to change the subject, so I asked, “have you had a chance to look over the blue prints yet?” The blue prints were the strategies I and several other commanders had drawn out to attack Eliasius. Lady Melina was indeed a very wise woman. Her foresight in the plot would surely prove most useful.
“Yes I did. It is a great strategy on your part, but I had a hunch it will need to be changed. We must take caution since we are held accountable for thousands of lives. And we also—” She discontinued as if the words were being swallowed. Suddenly Lady Melina’s amber eye lids flew wide open, her black pupils expanded until her whole eyes turned pitch black.
She was having a vision! As sudden as the blackness from her eyes appeared, they receded. “Lady Melina?” I asked as I steadied her shaking arms. In turn, she grasped a hold of my sleeves and gasped in a labored breath. As her breathing slowly resided, I inquired while still steadying her, “are you all right?”
She then looked up at me with fear shaking in her eyes and murmured in a tone so thin I could barely hear her, “Wi-wthdrawn immediately, ambush ahead…” and she pasted out.
* * *
Never in my life had I seen anything so horrendous. As soon as Lady Melina’s words made sense to me, I galloped as fast as I could to the head of the army to warn them, but it seemed that I was too late. The damage was unimaginable. Countless bodies of soldiers and knights lay wasted ahead the muddy road. Their groans and wails screeched from their dying lips as blood gushed from their fatal wounds.
Getting off my horse, I kneeled down to a fallen knight and battered him with questions, “What happened up here? Are you all right? Who the hell caused this mess? Is it Eliasius?”
Shuddered from a large wound in his right shoulder he muttered painfully, “Mo-monsters! So many—” he croaked, “an-and dragon!”
“Are you sure it’s a dragon? They’re extinct a long time ago.” I didn’t get a reply, because he had curled himself into a ball and nearly went into hysteria. Knowing he was lost in his fear, I set him safely against the tree trunk. With my horse, we continued ahead.
More bodies were covering the road as I got near to the massacre. Even now I could see the soldiers and knight who were still alive running toward me, but they didn’t noticed me. They were glancing behind their heads at the monstrosity that had caused them to run for their dear lives. Cold chills running down my spine. Whatever caused this reaction from these well trained knights was probably tremendously powerful.
I saw a commander galloping toward me ten feet away on his chestnut stallion. I took my chances and managed to startle the horse, thus causing him to stop for me to inquire. “Commander Judo, what is happening up there? Where are all your troops? We must withdraw immediately!” Again, I saw the same fear look in his eyes that I saw on countless soldiers scattered on the ground.
As if he hasn’t heard a word I said, he bellowed, “I didn’t sign up for this, not against such monsters, I’m leaving!” With that he whipped the horse hard and continued on his escapee.
Bloody hell! Even my horse was too spooked to go any further. Getting off of him and I continued running on my own two feet. Before I knew it, I bumped into a running a knight. The surprise impact caused me to lose my footing and I fell backward on my arse. The knight fell back as well, now he was rubbing his small, sore bums. I stood up first to lend him a hand up. And the nerve of the bloody bugger! He had the nerve reached for my hand half way and paused! Running out of time as it is, I retracted my helping hand to start running forward again. But I couldn’t move, something was in my way. Looking down at what was holding down on my left leg, it was the same knight I bumped.
Irritated, I yelled, “Hurry up and get out of here, retreat to the safety of the camp!” Tugging back my leg, but it was now being hugged by him. What bloody nerve! “Let go of my leg, I must go and see what we’re up against!” All it did was only make him hold my leg all the tighter.
Slowly coming back onto his feet while putting a firm hold onto me as if making sure I wouldn’t start running. He then stared at me through his iron helmet and shook his head from side to side. Now he was holding onto my forearm and pointing his other hand toward the way of the camp. Almost commanding in his persistent, but I really had no time to waste. “No, you go on ahead, I can’t go back now.” With that I shook my hand off and started forward again only to have another knight accosted my way. Again.
“Sadey! We ‘ave been looking for ye.” He uttered what sounded like relief. He also had on him from toe to head in full armor gears. The only difference from this knight was that he had on his breast plate a blue unicorn symbol. The knight I bumped into had had a red lion.
“That’s great, now get out of my way.” Moving him aside with my left hand, I took a step forward before stopping again.
“That’s so rude, we’ve been looking everywhere and this is all ye ‘ave to say? Aki—Akon, isn’t that right?” He stuttered at the end.
Strange, even though I was barely paying attention, I could have sworn his voice sounded familiar. But I couldn’t remember at that moment. Leaving my thought I looked at the blue knight before me, he too seemed young as the one I bumped into. Now taking note of his body languages, he seemed to look behind me instead of at me when I wasn’t looking at him.
Turning around, I saw the red knight still stood where I left him. Though at the moment, he was looking astray as if bird watching. Still lacking in the concentration department at the moment I grabbed both of the knights’ shoulders and shoved them toward the camp. “Make haste, get back to camp!”
Both knights looked at each other, as if contemplating. “That is an order if you two didn’t comprehend.” I said in a stern voice that would naturally bring out obedience in the soldiers. Great, even that didn’t work. Now they were whispering to each other. Well, only the blue knight who talked while the red knight either shook his head or did some wild hand gestures.
I was going to leave, but something grabbed a hold in my mind. A strong dose of suspicion. “Why aren’t you two following my order? Who are you?” That stopped them from whispering and making hand gestures altogether. Now they were looking at me. I couldn’t see a deuce of their faces so I couldn’t read what they were thinking. “Take off your helmets.” I said, getting really suspicious all the more, because they held onto their own helmets as if I would yank them off their bloody heads. Well, I gave up! Turned around I started running once again after the long, annoying delay. I didn’t give a fig if they did go back to camp or not. Let them deal with their choices.
Running harder and faster than before, I didn’t bother checking what those two bumbling knights were doing. They had probably gone back. They would be crazy if they didn’t.
My thought didn’t strain on them long because I then came into encounter with the creatures of their fear. I had managed to notify the rest of the commanders to withdraw and evacuate back to camp with all the troops including the injured. They were feasting on their victims dead bodies so they didn’t notice me yet since I was hiding in the shadows. Lord, they were a vicious looking bunch, not to mention ugly-looking beasts. A true nightmare. As close as I could describe it, they had a cross resemblances between a bear and a wolf, with long snarling teeth and all. This is truly not the battle we were thinking of. It was truly inhumane. That was why we must retreat because our strategy lay wasted.
Did I forget to mention how big they were? They were twice the size of me! There is no mistaken that they would win. Unless…unless they had weaknesses! That would be valuable information for the new plan. Made up my mind, I observed them more closely.
Scanning the field of beasts devouring dead corpses, it made me sick to my stomach. I wanted to throw up, but I knew that I must bear with it for the greater cause. I could say for sure that these beasts had high tolerance for pain. Numerous of the beasts had swords, knives, lances, and arrows on them. But looking at them, one would think they were mere decorations, like badges of honor. But there was only one beast that wasn’t feasting, so I settled my eyes on it. It was near me, but I had to squint to see clearly. It was wounded badly, though I couldn’t see where exactly, its long fur concealed it all. It lay unmoved and breathed hazardously. Squinting my eyes, I focused around it for clues, I saw a dead body with its midsection had been bitten off, but other than that it hasn’t been devoured like the rest. Mentally drumming my brain for what could have caused it to lie so paralyzed. Frantically, I searched repeatedly all around the beast but couldn’t come up with a clue.
Then suddenly another beast came near the dead corpse with the midsection missing and sniffed around it. I saw it hesitated, but from the hungry look of the beast, it didn’t contemplate much longer before it took a large chunk of the body into its mouth. That was when I saw something out of the ordinary. At the corner of its mouth tucked a water skin-bag. It was only a water bag, but basic instinct told me to concentrate on it. Damn glad I did because it wasn’t water! First I thought it was blood, but the liquid was watery unlike blood. It’s—
“It’s wine, if you wanna know.” A voice said behind me.
Angry and very much close to blowing off, I turned on the blue knight with the red knight not very far behind, “Keep you damn voice down!” I whispered menacingly. But it was too late, a beast near by heard us and sniffed in our direction.
“Run!” was all I had to say before we three started running for our lives.
Luckily, only that one followed us, but it was slow due to its massive size, but fast nonetheless. We were less than half way back to camp before it cornered us. It didn’t attach us right away, but rather it took the time savoring its victory by approaching one step at a time while snarling hungrily at us.
Having no choice, I drew my sword and brought it out before me. Facing it toward the beast, I baited for the perfect moment to strike. That moment went by faster than lightning, but my reflex were fast enough to keep the beast in safe distance. I manage to do that a few time before my breath run ragged. It was strong, stronger than I expected. Damn, I had to think of something quick before the three of us became part of its dinner. But what? I don’t kno—
A sharp noise flashed by my right ear and straight to the beast. The noise now appeared to be an arrow at present wedged in the beast’s left shoulder. Blinking my eyes, I couldn’t believe it. I blinked a few more time because the beast was actually groaning in pain. It didn’t make any sense! I turned back to where the arrow had came from and saw the red knight evidently holding a bow and yet another arrow, ready to strike again if the beast approached. After another fifteen seconds watching the beast, it collapsed on the floor with a suffocating groan and pasted out, or died. That I had to check. But at the moment, my attention went back to the red knight, now watching him sighed with a relief. Good God, he saved our lives!
“Why the hell didn’t you do that earlier?” then curiosity got the best of me, “how did you know where to hit it?”
Silent. The bloody knight didn’t even answer me; all he did was looked down to his feet. I started to walk toward him.
“It wasn’t the arrow that did the job, it was the spirit!” the blue knight interceded himself in front of me. The red knight stepped back farther away from me, but at the moment I had my attention on the blue one.
“What did you say? It was spirit that took it down?”
“Man, Sadey, ye a dense one aren’t ya?” the blue knight said under his breath.
“I heard that you bloody bugger. Now explain.” I flared and grabbed him in the left shoulder.
“The arrow was coated in wine. That was why the mangy beast went down. Now let me go!” He shook himself from my grasp.
It was wine, just as I concluded from that beast I observed, but it seemed so ludicrous. How could a beast of such strength be weakened by a mere splotch of wine? Then that brought me back to the knights. Their uniforms were different from each other. Plus I didn’t recognize the symbols on their armors. A blue unicorn and a red lion, who the hell were they?
“Who the hell are you?” I asked out loud, but again, I got only silent as a reply. Hell!
Finally the blue knight spoke out, “Um, we—we are, um…” he looked back at the red knight. He paused as, he locked gaze with the red knight.
“Look at me while you answer youngster!” I commanded.
I could see that he was nervous because his response was in stutter, “I-I’m Mon—I mean I am Mell of Monthil. And the knight behind me is—“
“Why don’t you let him answer for himself Mell of Monthil?” I interjected.
Mell glanced back at the red one again for several moments. I could see his head was twitching and shaking as if they were communicating in secret signals. That made me all the more curious. Before I could address the red knight myself, the blue one interceded again, “’e-‘e can’t talk! Problem with ‘is voice at birth. Oh, it was a sad story, a tragic one at that. You see when ‘is mother birthed him, he was—“
“What is his name?” I asked quickly, getting more annoyed by the minute.
“Oh-oh aye, his name is,” he paused for a second and said hastily, “um… the name is Akon! Akon of Tandonia!” He flinched after he said it. Weird, the knight behind him kicked him too.
I didn’t notice it much because I found something more valuable, “Akon of Tandonia you say?” I inquired as I looked at Akon. He didn’t look at me after that, but looked at Mell. He probably wanted Mell to answer in his stead. “A nod would suffice, youngster.” I said in a firm tone. It worked! He looked back at me for a few seconds and eventually nodded. “That’s strange; I thought everyone from Tandonia was either dead or evacuated. Beside Lady Akina, it was hard to find survivors anywhere. You’re a survivor aren’t you?” the thought hit me. Akon nodded again, more relaxed this time. On the other hand, Mell’s body stood stiff with the exception of his head swinging back and forth from me to Akon. “You know this land well then?” that question landed me another nod. That’s great I thought, he’s valuable all right. This Akon of Tandonia would be the winning key in this battle for sure.
“Well, Akon of Tandonia and Mell of Monthil, I sincerely thank you for saving my life from this beast,” I pointed over at the confirmed-dead-beast. “Let’s us get back to camp now shall we?” I shoved them toward the direction of the camp once more. They hesitated at first but somehow agreed with each other in the end and treaded forward as I suggested.
We back tracked to camp mostly in silence, and that was fine with me. Akon and Mell knew each other, but they acted like they had nothing in common. They didn’t even utter a word or did any of their crazy hand gesture to each other. On the way back we retrieved our horses as well. They really had nothing in common, just look at their stead and one would know, it was like looking at a princess and a pauper. Akon’s horse was a prime specimen while Mell’s was a damn a-a—“
“It’s a donkey, no need to eye it anymore. It won’t change. Believe me, I tried.” Mell offered, and gave Akon a grudged look.
These two were really suspicious, good Lord knows how much I thought of that since I met them. But no matter how suspicious they were, this two were valuable nonetheless. With that thought aside, we rode faster down the muddy road, hastily wanted to get back to camp and away from the stance the blood of the dead.
* * *
“Please inform Lady Melina that I have some urgent news to report.” I asked the knight at guard outside her tent.
“Milady is out tending to the wounded. I don’t know when they would return, your grace.”
I heard Akon and Mell sighed in relief behind me. “I see, please inform me of her return.” I turned to leave but I turned back to him, “and there is no need to call me with such formality, I am no longer Duke of Cirrex. I am just one of the Commanders now, got that?”
“Yes your grac-Yes Sir! I shall correct myself from now on.”
“My thanks.” I nodded at him and left Lady Melina tent with Akon and Mell in tow.
“Hurry up you two, you’re slow as slugs since you entered the camp. We got lots to do before the night’s end.”
Picked up the pace they did, but not as much as I liked. Then Mell asked, “what da ya mean ‘lots to do’? We ain’t under yer command Commander!”
“You are now, unless one of the other Commanders can claim you…” I rudely put in.
“Uh, there might be some…”
“Some eh? And the names would be?”
“That’s what I thought. You two are just two knights for hired recruited from villages near by. Am I right?”
Both shook their head, but I knew better, “don’t bother denies it, I know a knight for hired when I saw one. They lack manner, respect, and obedience for their superior, and that you two definitely lack. And if you’re not as I predicted, then you must be Eliasius’ minions came here to spy on us. The penalty is dead, if you’re curious.”
Ha! I wanted to laugh out loud, because I got them good, they were lost in words. “Now come, we need to gather the other commanders and strategize a new battle plan.”
* * *
Once all of the surviving twelve Commanders were gathered in my tent, the meeting was established. I informed them on all that I’ve learnt. They too were astonished about the beasts’ weakness since they had lost numerous of their knights to them. The numbers of the dead and injured knights were well over five hundred, and all done in less than an hour. Comparing to the number of beasts dead, we would have been in a disadvantage if we did stick to the original plan.
One of the crucial changes was to gather as much wine as we could. Either goes to the nearest village to buy all their wine or confiscated all wine from the soldiers. After that all weapon would be coated with it and instead of fire balls it would be wine balls. That took care of the problem of taking the beasts down. What left to deal with were the dragon I haven’t yet laid eyes on and Eliasius’ army.
Eliasius’ army we could take care ff since they were just soldiers. On the other hand the dragon was the hazard to deal with. Since Akon and Mell knew how to defeat the beasts, all of the Commanders including myself now looked toward them in question if wine would take down the dragon as it did the beast. Those two were standing in the corner of the tent and surprisingly attentive to our conversation. They were still fully dressed in armors including their helmets. We suggested they took it off but their reaction were as an offended, so we stopped asking. After a moment, Mell was the one to speak, “Akon say ‘e aint seen the dragon yet since it’s aint from Tandonia. And ‘e don’t think wine would works on it.” Frustration spread through all the Commanders which bring them to all spoke at once in debating the best way to kill it. After it settled down a little, Mell speak out once again, “Akon said ‘e can’t say what could kill it, but there’s a way to avoid it.”
Silent now spread through the tent and everyone was all eared.
* * *
“What the ‘ell are we still doin’ ‘ere? We told ya everythin’ ye wanna know so why we’re still in ‘ere? You can’t keep us ‘ere, you ‘ear!” Mell bellowed across the tent.
“I’ve heard you the first time, Mell, no need to repeat it.”
“And what if I want to? What’s ya gonna do about it? Besides, I’m hungry. We demand food!”
“I’ll gag you that’s what!” I threatened then added, “and for food, you may not get any at the rate you’re going.” That got him to shut up for while, so I turned back to the maps I was studying.
Half an hour later came the foods. It was fresh bread, cheese and roasted wild boar. I usually liked my dinner with a little wine, but there were only water tonight. Of course there were no wine because we needed all we could get for the traps we were planting tomorrow. Either way I was fine with it. Well, I spoke too soon about being fine, almost all the foods were gorged down by Mell. He wasn’t kidding when he said he was hungry. “Damnation, Mell, where are all your manners?”
“Who cares about manners when one’s starving to death?” He continued shoving foods in his mouth with his right hand while the left hand held the basinet, the hood of the helmet up.
I looked over at Akon and saw that he was doing the same thing, holding up his basinet. Except his eating manner was much, much better than Mell. Also, instead of facing his plate while eating, Akon would turned side way to eat. Very strange indeed.
“Seriously, why don’t you two take off your helmets? Eating would be much more satisfying if you’re not holding onto those half the time. Instead of following what I suggested, they stop eating all together. Furthermore, their hands were on their knees and they sit like tight strings, ready to spring. Since I didn’t want uncomfortable dinner guests, I said, “Forget I mentioned that, go head, just eat your fill and catch some sleep.”
They did and within another half an hour Mell was asleep with food still on his face and hands. What a slob that one was. On the other hand, Akon now sat still and neat in the corner of the room with a glass of water in his right hand and his back to me. I couldn’t see what he was doing with the water, but I didn’t care much what he did. I turned my attention back to the maps once again. They were the maps of Tandonia. Thankfully Akon could deciphered most of the roads, now what left was building some hideouts and traps. Accuracies and placements were most essential in battles. Ones must be always prepared.
What I wasn’t prepared for was that loud insufferable sound. I turned around the Mell and just stared at him for a second. Good Lord, at the rate he was snoring he would sleep right through the whole battle without a flinch.
I went over and nudged at him to see if he wouldbstop, he didn’t. I did a few more things but he just kept on snoring. Regular snoring I could take, but this was truly unbearable plus I had to stay up late tonight to plan out the traps. There was no way in hell I’m going to concentrate with him in the same tent. I called out to the two guards outside, when they entered; I told them to take Mell outside to sleep with the others.
The astonishing thing was that Mell was still snoring while they carted him out. I stared at the tent’s door until I couldn’t hear him anymore and turned back to my maps.
After another two hours I was almost done when I came across a strange area to the south east of Tandonia. I called out to Akon. No answer. Damn! I looked toward him and he seemed to be asleep, but no one in their right mind would fall asleep in that uncomfortable position. “Akon, I know you’re not asleep so come over here, I need your expertise on this area south east of Tandonia.” To that he stood up from his position and slowly walked over to the map. Once he saw where I pointed, I ask “What is this place?” there was a silent and I remembered he couldn’t talk. So I asked instead, “Do you write?”
I gave him a paper and a pen and told him again to write down about the place. He scrawled it down and handed it back to me hastily, a little shaky as well. I looked down at the paper for the content, but I only noticed the beautiful handwriting, almost feminine to a fault. But hell, who the hell am I to judge? Maybe he’s a scholar who joined the army out of necessity. The next thing I knew I asked it out loud, “So Akon of Tandonia, what made you join the army?”
He was distressed and backed away a few steps. I probably startled him so to relax him I said, “I’m just curious, that’s all, you seem so young and scrawny. Say, are you trying to impress some village lass by putting on the armor? You don’t even take it off. She likes it that much eh?”
It worked; he chuckled a little but stopped himself. To me it sounded like a giggle. He then reached for the paper and pen from where I left it and started writing again. He handed to me and it simply said, “I want to avenge Tandonia.”
“Well, ain’t everyone here for that? There must be another reason, isn’t there. Tell me about it.”
He hesitated but reached for the pen again, and it said, “He killed my parents and loved ones. He deserved to be punished.”
“Is that why you were so cooperative during the meeting?”
“So there is no ulterior motive? No lass back at home?” I chuckled myself as I said it. He shook his head and started to chuckled himself. It was a little longer than the first time.
“By the way, how old are you?”
He was still giddy from the chuckle and immediately held up a two fingers on his right and two on the left. He then looked down at his left hand and changed it to five fingers.
“Come now, you don’t even know your own age? Are you twenty and two or twenty and five?” I asked amusingly.
This time he emphatically put up two and five and held it up closer to me. Boy, what a silly kid.
“You don’t look twenty and five. You look like a boy in his teens. I would guess around eighteen or so. But I guess my assumption was wrong.”
He nodded up and down rather sternly.
I looked up at him from where I sat and blurted without thinking, “You know, you reminded me of someone.” Akon stood stock still and raised both of his palms upward? “Do you know Lady Akina Faye?”
This time he shook his head wildly. “You must have, she lived in the castle.” He shook his head all the more. “Really, you must have heard of her, she was the daughter of Lord Faye, your landlord.” Instead of shaking his head he reacted for the paper and started to write. It wrote, “I’ve never heard of her. My family and I lived on the border of Tandonia. We worked for a small farm so we never had to deal with the Lord directly.”
“I see. Well, you missed out a lot then, because Akina Faye is really a beauty. Anyone who saw her face would not deny—” a call came from outside the tent interrupted us and I answered, “You may enter.”
A guard came in, he was the guard outside Lady Melina’s tent. “Good evening Sir. I want to inform you that Lady Melina had returned to her tent. She wishes to speak with you.”
“All right, I’ll be there in a few minutes. You may tell her that.”
Proudly, the guard bowed, “Yes sir!” and exited.
Without delay, I gathered up the maps and blue prints and headed toward the tent’s door. Reaching for it I remembered about Akon. I looked back at him, he was still there where I saw him last and he looked shaky. I gave him a comforting smile and said, you look tired, go ahead and sleep. There are some extra blankets and a head rest in the corner over there. You can set it anywhere you like. I’ll be back soon so you shouldn’t run off while I’m gone, all right?” With an affirmative nod from him, I exited and treaded toward Lady Melina’s tent.
* * *
The meeting with Lady Melina took less than an hour. She felt this plan was much better than the last. A hunch she said. And of course, her hunches were always right.
I also told her about Akon and Mell. She seemed somewhat tense when hearing about Akon. Then she asked to meet Akon in the morning. Well, I was going to bring him, but he seemed so worn out that I told him to go rest. I wonder if he did or he was crouching in that uncomfortable position again. The boy was a complete mystery to me.
Speaking of the boy, I first looked around for him when entering my tent. Instinctively I knew where he was. He was still in the same corner he occupied today. Under him was a light mattress and over him is a light blanket. The only different are the body armors. They were actually off of him, but set next to him. What he was wearing under I couldn’t tell. Though I could tell the clothes were too big on him, which made him smaller than he was. He was almost delicate to a fault. The damn annoying thing was he still had his helmet on. What an incorrigible fellow.
I turned away from him and headed to the table and set down the maps and blue prints from my arms. After that, I stripped off all my clothes except for my breeches and lay them down on top of the chair. I took a few steps away before I remembered to blow out the candles. I leaned over, ready to blow it when something caught my eye. I reached out for the piece of paper Akon had written on. The first thing I told him to write down was the name of the place near south east of Tandonia. I totally forgot about it. It said the place was called Spring Fall, and he noted it was a little waterfall.
Hmm… that’s weird. Now I thought about it, he wrote he lived on the border of Tandonia. He said he lived where he never heard of Lord Faye. Well, how can ones be so ignorant of its landlord and knows so much about the land and the roads? Very weird indeed. I shall remember to ask him about it in the morning.
Giving the paper another quick glance, I notice something else was written at the bottom of the page where I haven’t seen before. The question was about Akina. My heart jumped every time I thought of her. For God’s sake, every spare second I got were full with the thoughts of her.
The question Akon wrote said, “Was she just a beauty to you?”
I read it again and laughed out loud. I looked toward Akon from the corner of my eyes and back to the question.
I set the paper down and blew out the candles. Then slowly I found my way to my mattress and lay down. Immediately, a yawn came over me then I softly answered, “She is a beauty for sure. God knows it. But there were a lot more I love about her, dear boy. Much, much more…”
I felt somehow relief to have had that out in the open. It wasn’t long later when I almost fell asleep before I heard a girlish squirm nearby. But I was too tired to bother.
Part FOUR #2 will be continued... stay tuned!
Short Stories Collection