Sunday, July 10

Chapter One

Leon Shields, a Templar from Norman Church, is ordered to retrieve his headmaster’s blade from Durham Village. Riding on his horse, his brain felt fuzzy, and his thoughts – if you could call them that- were all jumbled and disconnected. Sitting upright, and although he’s fairly certain his eyes were opened. He was having the most difficult time focusing on anything other than the last conversation with his headmaster. As the haze inside his mind begins to dissolve, he decides to take rest at a nearby village called Grinstead. The homes were made of logs which were held together with mud. The roofs were thatched with straw.  They generally had one room with a hole in the ceiling to allow heat and cooking smoke to escape.  Rarely does he ever get the chance to stop by other places of his own accord.  He thought it wouldn’t hurt just this once. 

Exploring the market, he saw wares presented on tables, from bread, meat, cloth and wood.  There weren’t any wealthy wares and the folks didn’t have a whole lot to offer him, but the market square was the hub of social life for the village. While scoping around, he stumbled upon one of his old closets friends, Fenix Spencer. It was quite a surprised, because the two of them haven’t seen each other in years, ever since Fenix was exile from Norman Church for disobeying the dress code. Leon thought it was fate that brought them back together. Fenix was happy to see Leon, but he still was holding onto some old grudges. He wanted to finally settle the score to see who is a better competitor with a spar. Proclaiming how much better he’s been off without the Templar hood holding him back from his true potential.  Leon knew the only thing he gained out of his absence was muscle, but he still lacked wits.  Yet he was more than willing to accept his challenge, just to prove a point that the skills of a Templar were better than his savage barbaric fighting methods.

The two of them prepare to spar outside of the village, where the ground is covered by vegetation growth for domestic grazing animals. Leon stood wearing his steel plated armor chest piece that appeared bloated for extra protection.  It was lined with decals that were similar to religious symbolism such as a red cross. His kite shield constructed from cold hard steel carried the same symbol.  Directly over the breast area was a strip of refined bronze which was steel coated to give a shinier look, yet cheaper to make.  He wore no shoulder pads, but merely chain mail underneath.  Bestowed upon his groin lay a thin sheet that resembled a skirt around his waist to protect most of his lower region, right above his knees was chain mail that covered his legs, instead of conventional armor leggings that made it difficult to maneuver.  The rays of sunlight glistened from the slightest movement of his doubled edge broad sword.  His brown eyes narrowed beneath his helmet, all the while staring at his opponent.  Fenix attire was quite different than Leon.  A boar head coated in copper with its tucks still intact; was mounted on his left shoulder, attached by a leather strap, which crisscrossed the middle of his bare chest. On the opposite side of his shoulder, there hung a distinctly rucksack with a lion's head in it. He mostly likely wore it during battle as a scare tactic to opposing enemies. The only protection on his body was from his waist down.  It's where a leather kilt could be seen, followed by a pair of cowhide boots; he crafted himself from a cattle hunt.  He welds a two handed battle axe that's exactly fifty-eight cementers and has a very distinctive crescent shaped blade. 

 Fenix releases a vibrant, yet repulsive charging screams to invoke fear within, Leon. To no prevail, Leon stood his ground momentarily, waiting for the appropriated moment to make his move.  Fenix, unfortunately for himself, immediately took off into a sprint.  His emerald green eyes widened with excitement, all the while he drew in closer and closer.  Now within range, he pauses and uses the momentum which is gained from running to swing his axe. Leon scurried to the left to avoid the sudden swing of the axe.  Moving back, he regained a bit of a distance in between the two of them.   Leon, held his shield on the inside guard with his elbow facing his adversary.  In mid step he stopped with his left foot out in front of the other.  Fenix came to rough halt then he turned around to continue coming back his way.  Leon flipped his shield to an open position, predicting he could make him attack his left side.  Seeing the opportunity, Fenix slashed his battle-axe at the advantage, but before it could make contact. Leon raised his shield and literally bashed him dead center in the face.  Fenix is unable to recover quickly enough from the unexpected cunning blow. It gave Leon an option to kick him in the chest. The kick was harsh enough to cause him to temporarily lose grip of his weapon. Off balance, he fumbled into the ground below. Dumbfounded, he looked upward, out from between his long black untamed hair. 

 “You fell for it again, you're hopeless...” Leon shook his head out of disappointment.

“Shut up!” Fenix felt like his pride was hurt more than his bruise face.

“Fenix I've told you before, you can't always rely on just strength. You should be more responsible instead of being so careless about everything. Think before you make an action next time.” Leon continued to lecture him.

“I am the most responsible person I know, Leo. Whenever anything goes wrong, I’m responsible!” Fenix licked his thumb then grazes it across his eyebrow.
Leon places his sword and shield onto the ground before removing his helmet to reveal his short dark shaggy hair. He simply embraces the helmet to his chest, right after throwing himself back into the grass.  “I’m glad to have run into you Fenix. Lately I felt like a headless chicken running around, lit on fire. Well, what I’m saying is that the headmaster has been pressuring me beyond no end. Saying, when he passes on, I’m the only one who is well suited enough to take his place.”

“If I were you I wouldn’t go back. Hell I've left myself!”  Fenix chuckled to himself before he joins him in the grass. He relaxes with his arms fold over along the back of his head. Staring upward at the sky to watch the clouds pass over.

“Wait, did you just say 'left?' you mean you were exiled.”  Leon reminded him.

“Whatever, same thing, I say!  But yah know… I bet you liquor will cheer yah right up!  You'll be good as new, I reckon! “Fenix stood right up with the biggest grin upon his face.  Turning to Leon, he offered his hand to help him back to his feet.

“Liquor does that for you, not me.”  Leon, accepted his hand, but he wasn’t very interested in getting drunk out of his gourd, even if it numbs his troubles, it still doesn’t get rid of the problem.  

Fenix dangled his arm loosely around his neck from behind. “Trust me; would I ever lie to yah, Leo?”  Smiling innocently, trying to portray that he’s never wronged him before. 

Leon slightly frowned since he knew his past actions told him otherwise. “Do I really have to answer that?” 


--------------------------------
The doors of the Brothel Hole swung open onto a wall of noise.  The voices of a hundred or more workmen, now finished for the day, blasted out through the open door as each fought for him to be heard. Wenches sprawled across the littered floor, covered in half eaten food. Over head the chandeliers cast obscure shadows over the animal trophy’s mounted upon the wall. The overpowering smells reek of greasy meat, half rotten vegetables, and unwashed armpits.  The folks attending didn’t wear anything that was worth gazing at. Most lacked money to pay for tailors, most had to spin their own wool in order to make their own clothes. Leon thought it was a reflection of most of the furniture condition in the room. It had typical, wooden oval tables and stools.   

The two of them seated themselves at a table near the back of the tavern. Fenix casually folded his arms over along the back of his head, with his boots propped up on the table.  He whistles a tune or two, while leaning back carelessly upon his stool. Leon seated himself properly before resting his helmet upon the table. 

"I’ve always wonder you never worn a helmet, even till this day you refuse to wear one? It’s the very same reason you got exile from the church. You never could obey the dress code.” Leon never could wrap his finger around it. 

“Dress codes my ass! There's no point in hiding a handsome face like myself.  Especially behind them buckets you folks call helmets!” Fenix fiddle with his bracelet; which is made of fish bones twined together with a spiral wire.  

One of the wenches approached their table and rudely interrupted their conversation. “What do you want? Are you two going to sit there and blather? There are others to serve 'ere,” 

 “An auger here will do.” Leon responded, not intrigued by the tone of her voice.  He thought that she could at least show some respect in the presents of a Templar.

 “Wait an auger? I demand two fires-spits ales pronto, woman!” Fenix commandingly slammed his fist against the table. 

The wench hurried away, but it wasn’t quick enough to avoid Fenix’s long googol eyed stare at her plump bosom. Leon felt himself slumping disgustingly down; wishing he would have been used to this by now; the man is always making a fool out of himself in public. 

Approaching their table was a red haired woman, who despite being ruled by her basic desires, wasn’t exactly an unreasonable woman. Once, someone much older and wiser than herself had told her that the selfish pursuit of your own desires for your own good was a form of Satanism; but that didn't really mean anything to her, nor had it dissuaded her from the life of a whore. Her attire was a dead giveaway of what she concerns a wealthy profession. It was more than obvious that she was purposely displaying her breasts for those who care to see. They barely kept intact due to her partially unlaced red bodice. The sleeves of her blouse were pulled up and tied at the shoulder. Her white skirt is decorated with a black lace that has an elastic black belt for a tight fit. Beneath the skirt was a pair of tall leather boots, which reaches just a little below the knees. The only thing that came to Leon mind is, this whore must be pretty damn busy, being able to afford those clothes. It made her stood out in a poor town like this; he’s willing to give her that at least.  Nearing the table she said, “Nice armor you got there, mind if I help you take it off?” Exotically she ran her finger across the front plate, but Leon snatched her hand away. He wasn’t too keen to be touched by anyone of a filthy nature, even if it wasn’t just his armor, it still made his skin crawl. Deciding he couldn’t bear any of this any longer. And knowing how Fenix is, this might be his only chance to leave unharmed before an outbreak of chaos erupts. He grabs a hold of his helmet before beginning to walk away from the table.

Fenix tried calling out to him, but he didn’t reply and kept on walking. “Forget him then!” It would be foolish to leave, considering he didn’t want the beverages to go to waste, well at first that’s what he told himself. He really didn’t want to leave without quenching his needs for thirst. Quickly his attend is diverted by the wench returning with the drinks. She slammed them harshly against the table, causing the foam portion of it to spill. “Damn gal, I would hate to see how you man-handle other things.” The wench didn’t pay any attention to his comment and continued on to finish her rounds. 

The red head may not have won over her first pick, but she wasn’t going to turn away seconds. Fluttering her eyelashes in a devilishly manner. One could say it was a look which most typical men would say; she’s after something of a value. “Mm... I've never seen such a strong handsome man like you 'round 'ere before...” 

Fenix was too occupied with himself, to the point he didn’t really care that the red head was literally throwing her body at him. He grabbed both mugs and gave himself a toast by clanking them together. “Cheers mate!” Tilting his head back, he quickly chugged both mugs at the same time. In result, a lot of the contents of the ale ended up splattering all over himself. 

The red head leaned close to his ear and whisper, “The name’s Holic, mind if I have a sip?”
Humbly he set the mugs back down over onto the table. Then he repulsively wipes the remaining residue off with his forearm. “Only a dumb broad would come between a man and his drink. You should have been taught better! You’ve been taught better by a real man like me.”  

One other woman took notice of the attention Holic was giving the man. Most of the gals around here are ridiculous enough to get fancied up to meet a wealthy man who is willing to marry them in one night. Men usually don’t fall for their schemes, unless they are drunk of course. The blonde linger on over because she did not want to miss their chance at him. The burnet claimed Holic doesn’t know anything about treating a good hunk of man like him. Fenix wasn’t sure who shoved who first, but one shove led to another. Then eventually the two of them ended up wrestling on top of the table until it flipped completely over due to their combine weight. 

“Moments like this remind me how great it is to be a man.” Fenix cupped his hands together then shook them towards the ceiling out of praise. “Thank the creator!” With all this excitement, he took another gulp. 

The blonde short of breath says, “He needs a real woman, a wife to attend to his every whim! You’re just a stupid dried up cow!”

Fenix spat his whiskey all over the place before he said, “W-wife?”  (This must be my cue to go…) The conflict kept him too intrigues to actually make an attempt to leave. Proudly he stood from his stool and punched himself in the chest. "Gals, gals…look!  There’s no need to fight, there’s an enough of me to go around 'ere.  I can please each and every one of you guaranteed!”

“I don’t share my personal possessions, NOT with anybody!  The prettiest one here is the only one well suited for someone of his altitude.  But of course everyone knows I, Holic, am the only one capable of fulfilling this role.”  With that being said, she smothered his face against her chest, nearly suffocating him in between her breasts.

Stammered Fenix said, “Fenix likes, Fenix likes...”

“Ye~ hath no sense!?  One suckling of them suckers, they’ll shriveled up and fall off!” The blonde sneered with a single hand placed securely upon her hip.

“Gals, there's only one way to solve this! All yah have to do is remove your garments, all of them!  And whoever has the biggest rack can have some quality one on one time with me! Since I’ve gotten a peak already at yah, you can be first Holic…”  Fenix tried to reach up for a grope, but she slapped him clear across the face.  It was hard enough to send his head flying in the opposite direction. Not fazed by the slap, he attempt once more, so she slapped him again. Still desperate he gave it another go, but he received the same result.   “You put the goods in my face and don’t expect me to try a sample?!   What the hell kind of democracy is this anyway?” Out of frustration, he took one last chug from his mug, drinking whatever was left. When the very last ounce touched his tongue, he then smashed the mug against the floor. The little temper tantrum got him a lot of unwanted attention. All eyes were on him and he knew he was about to be in a heap of trouble. Rejection or not, he went for it. Wrapping his arms around Holic, he forcefully pulls her in close for a sloppy wet kiss. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she retaliated with hard punches. It didn’t make any sense to him. The bartender called out from behind the counter; he was trying to determine what all the commotion was. Fenix wasn’t sure what the bartender might have in store for him if he stays around long enough. 

“You’re a filthy ass pig!”  The blonde came to Holic rescue by busting a stool over the top of his head. “You are so two-faced that any woman who marries you would be married to a bigamist!”

--------

Leon remains leaning comfortable against the outside wall, right beside the door. Over hearing the thrashing Fenix was enduring, he couldn’t help but snicker a bit. “Any moment now…” A second passes until Fenix is seen, being thrown out the door by the bartender and two other customers. 

The bartender was red in the face and screamed, “Don’t you ever come back ‘ere ever again! I don’t take too kindly to broken merchandise! ”

Fenix looked over to Leon for sympathy, but he refused to give him any “Broken merchandise, what did he mean by that, the women?  Isn’t that the truth…?”
"Thick as a ditch..." Leon simply sighed, disapproving of his idiocy. 

-------

Blazerine sat up after awakening from a horrible nightmare. But she knew it wasn’t a nightmare, the reality of it all was real.  (There’s no way to tell how long I’ve been asleep. I’m not sure why I would even care to be honest.)

Casually rubbing the sleep from her eyes with her leather black gloved hand. A brief moment passed before she found herself staring at the lower half of her body; lying against the cracked floor boards. Almost forgetting where or how she got here in the first place. Climbing to her feet, she made her way over to the broken vanity mirror. There she caught a small glimpse of herself in the reflection. Since the mirror appeared to be in the poor condition; it looked like someone intentionally punching their fist directly in the middle of the glass. The lower bottom of her face could be seen, only showing freckles throughout the middle of her cheeks and her nose. Looking down, she pushed aside a few of her brown curly locks. A pair of sunglasses was seen from the vanity’s counter, she snatches them before replacing them upon the bridge of her nose with a simple adjustment. The opposite side of the counter is where her black trench coat was placed, half folded. The back of it was marked with the letters, I. C; it was short for Irving Corp. Buttoning her white blouse up before she decides to yank her coat over herself.  (There’s really no reason to stay here any longer.)  Nearing the door, she reached out to unlock the latch, but the door itself fell completely over, barley attached to its hinges.  “So much for that...”  She steps out through the now empty door frame, entering into the unfamiliar world once again. It didn’t seem too bad during the day, compare to what it does at night. The air smelt rather different; in fact it seemed less toxic of pollution. “First thing first, I need find someone to tell me what year this is... I’m not exactly sure what good that will do, but it’s a start I guess.” She looked off ahead, only to spot a road; well what she thought could be a road. A dirt path is really unheard of from where she comes from. Thinking she’ll give it a shot, she follows it, hoping it’ll lead her somewhere worth going. “Maybe there will at least be some people to find.”  Although the road was an easier route, she wasn’t exactly used to walking such a great length.  “I would take the rust-bucket any day instead of this.” Occasionally she uses a sleeve of her coat to wipe sweat away from her forehead. From an outside view, it would only be logical for someone to remove heavier clothing to help elevate the heat, but for some unknown reason she didn’t bother.  She tiredly drags her feet along for several miles in. After walking a little bit further, she stops for a breather and takes this opportunity to use her sunglasses, giving them a slight pinch on the upper right frame. LCD image appeared within the lenses, detecting life form readings through scattering indifferent materials away from organic matter. Life forms readings were immediately detected while zooming in on the small set of buildings, which are remotely built nearby one another.  “More poorly constructed buildings...” In her eyes they came across as nothing more than mere shacks, compare to the magnificent buildings she was used to. “I'll try the people outside first, maybe they’ll be willing to speak to me.”

Reaching her destination, she aimlessly wanders on through a crowed. Vendors were
overheard, shouting about their wares at passersby. Most of the wares were presented in open stalls. Bread, meat, ale, candles, cloth, wool and all sorts of goods were offered. The merchant's children played nearby the wooden carts. The carts were also a temporarily shelter where their families ate and slept. Most of the women wore clothing made out of woolen cloth, consisting of basic colors off white, gray, brown or red. The dress was fastened by a girdle around the waist and their heads were covered by a piece of material. It was circular shape, draped over the top of her head, held by a band around the brow. The men wore a woolen tunic covered by a leather vest. Their large boots covered up most of their woolen trousers. From there a belt hung a sheath for a knife and a coin pouch. A drunken man held a rounded pear-shaped instrument made from a single block of wood. The string instrument sustained the power necessary to play a continuous melodic tune he sung.

“Come hither young lad; don't mind my breath of ale
As I tell you of a most wondrous tale
Listen young lad, to entertain you I will not fail
I'll tell you the story of a brave Knight who prevails.
The tale begins with the Knight in his privy
His stomach felt sick, rushing in still wearing his armor
Oh how I felt the man's pain, I t’was filled with much pity
I could hear the Knight's roar of his thunder
Well the poor Knight huffed and puffed, sweat poured from his brow
With each push he would explode with a howl
The peasants, they laughed and mocked poor Sir Howell
Is there no cure for his irritable bowels?!
He hath tried everything he could, from leeches to gypsy magic
But everyday his belly would still go on a riot
For God's sake, even finding cures was a trial tragic
Until Sir Simmons introduced his new strict toadstool diet!”

(What the hell did I just witness?) 

There was quite a crowd gathered around one of the stalls from the off far left. She approaches closer to see what all the fuss could be about. The vendor of the stall wore a mantle made of thick woolen material; it fell from his shoulders and half way down his legs. The hood entailed an opening at the throat, which is closed with a button and a loop. Making it where the hood sits closely around his face. The tunic looked out of place due to the puffy trousers. To top it off, he wore black tights, which didn’t really help conceal his overlarge figure. Although he was a very colorful character made of multi-colors, from yellow, white and blue. He held a vial containing some sort of yellowish substance.  “What this liquidizer does, one might ask!? This isn't any ordinary liquidizer you see here! This is the piss from the legendary dragon, Ignatius! With just one snip, blindness will be cured! Anything else you can ever imagine will no longer cripple ye~!” 

A toothless man asked him, “How’s we knows if you just didn't take a piss in there yourself!?” There was a bit of a chain reaction from there on out. Minds of the crowed were beginning to wonder whether or not it was all just a hoaxed.

The vendor coughed a bit nervously before continuing to speak. “Well... - How obscure, how can you accuse me of such treachery!? I risked my very own life to retrieve such a malicious amount, for the sakes of your well-being!”  Of course not one word he spoke of was even true, but he tried to convince them otherwise by maintaining his composer. The only possible way he could make them think otherwise is by using a volunteer; naive fool. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted what appeared to be a very wimpy looking young man. “You there stranger you'll be my first volunteer!

Blazerine looked around curiously to find the man the vendor had chosen. Soon she realizes the crowed was motioning in her general direction.  “Who me, but I’m not a –“The vendor insisted by scurried through the crowed in order to reach her. When she felt a hand placed upon her shoulder, she began to mutter nervously, “No, no, no, no... I'm not the right person for this!” Frantically she waved her arms in retaliation, but it didn’t make much of a difference. She was still being pulled over to the front of the stall for all to see. The vendor said not to be shy and slapped her harshly across the back. The impact was hard enough to send her stumbling forward, momentary off balance. The crowed suddenly disburse in a panic while screaming; it’s the black mark of death. It happened so fast, she wasn’t sure what to think or how to react at this point. The vendor seemed more terrified than the rest since he completely turned pale. Stuttering with his words slurring, made it impossible to understand him. And the closer she got, the more he seemed to freak out. She watches him drop down over onto his knees and beg desperately for his life to be sparred. Preaching how he would never scheme ever again if she is willing to let him go.

            (Everyone is acting like I’m contagious…) 

Blazerine comes to the realization that her sunglasses were no longer intact. She suspects they must of have fallen off, due to the stumble. Hunching over to search the ground and luckily finds them throughout all the commotion. Eventually arising to her feet, she is taken by surprise. An object whooshes across her left cheek, grazing it. Quite stunned by what just happened, she stood there for a moment or two before deciding to turn around to figure out what could have been sharp enough to break the skin. She felt trickle of blood running down her cheek. Before she could get a good look at the object, another one flew right above her head. “Whoa, too close for comfort!” She decides to flee by jumping down into the crowed to blend in. If possible she wanted to attempt an unnoticeable escape. Moving quickly, she hopped over a small wooden fence. Landing inside, she nearly trips over into a livestock of chickens. Startled by the intrusion, one by one they chased after her.  They were trying to peck at her feet and every time she looked back, a pair of their little beady eyes stared right into hers. The clucking grew louder as more join in on the chase. She quickly reaches the opposite side of the fence and jumps down into a large pile of hay. Tunneling an eye hole to enable her to see what was ahead. The nearest building with an open door had a sign which read the following “Black smith.” There was no way of knowing whether or not there would be someone inside waiting to do her harm, but she had no other choice.  Pushing her way through the hay to climb out, she actually ended up planting herself back in to hide from several men walking by. Once there was no sign of them, she shoved herself through and raced to the building.  Upon entering, she slammed the door shut and slumped up against it from behind. There she tried to catch her breath for a moment or two. Now facing a room filled with varies of different items. Slipping her sunglasses back on, she tapped the upper corner. The data within the lenses began to define the origins of the weapons selection displayed in the room. Showcasing the weapons imagery within the screens: Originating from the Middle Ages is a sword, a bladed weapon, consisting in its most fundamental design of a blade and a handle. The blade is usually of some type of metal honed to at least one sharp edge and often has a pointed tip for thrusting. The handle, called the hilt, can be made of many materials, but the material most common is wood-covered by leather, fish skin or metal wiring. “It can't be I don't believe this...”

The blacksmith shuffled out from the back, his demeanor seemed genuinely nice, but she was startled none the less. It was mostly due to the fact that she thought nobody else would be there. He was wearing an oversize, long sleeved shirt beneath his brown smudge apron, which expands wide enough to wrap around his stomach. His lower body consisted of a simple black pair of pants then boots. The only thing that came to Blazerine mind was some sort of chief, however the hammer he carried made her think otherwise. 

 “I never saw a head visor by the likes of that before... Neither that equipment you're wearing there. Who manufacture it, if you mind telling?” The smith humbly asked.
Blazerine hesitated by rubbing the back of her head out of nervousness. Forgetting to answer and ended up asking a question instead. “I'm sorry for barging in on you like this, but do you mind telling me what year it is?” 

“What kind of funny question is that youngling? It's 1602. ” The smith scrapped his dirty hands across his brown apron. Although it didn’t seem like it would do very much, considering his apron was already filthy. 

“1602...” Blazerine repeated, unsure whether or not she wanted to believe it. Deep down, she had to, but it was a matter of knowing there probably wasn’t anything she could do about it. Well unless somebody has some sort of time device just lying around.
The smith scratched at his beard while he stared, lost in thought. “Oh, I know who you are! Your Grand Headmasters Jared's pupils aren’t yah? I bet he still thinks old Gallet still can’t whip up a good new blade for him?

 
I'm sure as files gathering on a cattle's pile of shite, he'll be pleased once he gets a hold of this!” He slaps a strong hand roughly against her shoulder. It almost threw her completely off balance, but she managed to stay in place. She didn’t want the incident that occurred earlier to happen again. 

 “U-um... yeah sure...” She mutters while rubbing at her now throbbing shoulder. Having no idea what he is talking about, she thought it might be best to play along. But there was no way of knowing what he would do if the real person shows up. 

 “You sure are a bit scrawnier than I thought a Templar would be! Don't worry young lad, I'm sure you'll fill out eventually!  Now just wait 'ere, I'll go get that blade of his out from the back!” He excused himself, while leaving her pretty much dumbfounded.

(Lad, wait, does that mean - he thinks I'm a guy!? That’s the second person to have thought that.  I'm not so sure if I should feel offended or relieved. )

It didn’t take long for him to return with the blade he spoke of. It was an odd looking, at least compare to the others already displayed. The handles curved upwards, instead of down. The most noticeable part of the blade was the large Celtic circle design with a cross in the very center, where the blade meets the hilt. Quadrilateral shapes were cut out in places throughout the steel and the bottom was cut off sideways, leaving a slanted edge.
                                   (This is way too primitive if you ask me...)

He places the blade inside leather sheathe, which is attached by a leather brown belt loop. She was a bit surprised when he extended her left arm out far enough to pull the belt loop through. The belt is then adjusted to hang from her left shoulder; all the way to the opposite side of her neck. After she was set, he slapped what appeared to be a rolled up parchment into her hand.  “Be sure to give this map to your headmaster too. I circled the areas where those hooligan bandits have been. 

 “I-I’ll be sure to tell my headmaster.” She nodded, still playing along. (I better get out of here before the real guy he’s waiting for actually shows up.) Not even a second later, there was a knock at the door. Literally she jumped right out of her skin, feeling instantly jinxed. 

Outside the door a man yelled, “There’s an outbreak of the black mark of death.”
“The black mark of death..?” Blazerine repeated. 

“No one is permitted to leave their homes until they’ve been examined for symptoms.” The rest of what he said couldn’t be heard. His voice is trailing off since he was in too much of a hurry to spread the word. 

Gallet thought it was strange that Blazerine wasn’t familiar with any common knowledge. “What exactly are they teaching you in that church of yours anyway?” 

A long awkward of silence occurs between the two before she gave an unsure response. “To…pray…?”  At the end of her sentence, she was giving a slight nervous smile with her eyebrows raising high. He didn’t get a chance to say anything once the door opened. Instinctively the first thing she did was hid behind him. There was a tall dark figure entering the room. The robes were soaked in wax to repellent any infectious vapors. The most distinctive part of his outfit was the mask. The eyes holes were covered by heavy netting, and the long like beak contained a strongly smell of aromatic herbs and spices. 

Blazerine had no idea in hell what it could be. Whoever, whatever it was, Gallet given quite a warmly greeting, despite its eerie looks. Blazerine didn’t want to go anywhere near it. When the figure moved in closer, she realizes it was a mask. It looked almost to be some sort of primitive gas mask. Suspiciously she was looked at for the longest of time. Gallet broke the silence by mentioning how the folks of Freyrgard dress with rather fancy garments. He had given them permission to evacuate the village. 

                                              (That’s a doctor….?) 

“I’m volunteering to stay here; you’ll need a strong pair of hands around ‘ere” Gallet turned around to face Blazerine dead in the eyes.  “Best if you get going young lad, you better not upset that headmaster of yours.” 

Stepping outside, Blazerine was greeted by two horsemen. They wore protective armor basically consisted of chain-mail. A rough mesh made of fine chain, woven together to create a cloth-like material, a linen shirt and trouser underneath with a pair of heavy woolen pads. Each wielded a pole arm, is a large two-handed edged weapon. Axe head is fixed to the wooden shaft to give it a longer reach. The shaft gradually thickened towards the bottom, but thinned at the very end to form a grip for the rider. The doctor walked out, followed by Gallet.  There was a thick dampen cloth wrapped around his face, from nose to chin. He looked back only to give Blazerine a humble nod.
                             
                                      (Stupidity or not, he did save my life.)

The horsemen escorted her to the outskirts of the village, leaving her to continue down another dirt path. Despite being alone once again, she felt a bit of relief after what had happened. Looking off ahead while wondering where this path will lead her. The map Gallet had given her, stuck half way out from one of her coat pockets. Soon she decides to examine its context; however it was quite difficult to make out the information. Even with the help of her sunglasses, the data isn’t able to decipher any of the locations on the map. For some reason none of it has ever been recorded in history. “That’s so weird…” Could this be ensemble of a parallel universe or did some event erase its existence completely? Perhaps I myself, colliding into the world may cause a negative outcome. These are all possibilities; however there was nothing that could be done about it now. Whatever happens, she’ll have to face it head on.

 
Hours passed and nightfall approached a lot sooner than she expected. Her breath was visible in front of her face whenever she breathed out. A sudden wisp of leaves gust across her face and made her feel very irritated. Temporarily she took shelter underneath a large oak tree, not too far from the road. Sitting underneath the tree, she was looking up to see its claw like branches reaching endlessly towards the starry sky. All of the branches were barren, just like most of the other trees nearby.  What leaves were left, shook violently into the rattling winds, overshadowing the cricket’s chirps.  Frequently she rubbed her hands against the sleeves of her coat to create friction for warmth. (This should be okay for tonight; at least I hope it is. I am freezing to death, how this could possibly get any worse-) A branch from above fell inches just away from her body. Jumping up, she screamed, but it wasn’t the branch itself that startled her; it’s what came down with it. The hairy yellowish green creature stood approximately four feet tall. From its protruding little nose, snot drizzles down its pointy chin. And when it opened its mouth, it made a sound similar to alligator hiss. Green slime oozed out from between its crooked teeth. The strange foul odor is what got to her the most. She embraces her arm against the front of her face to help delude the wretched smell.  The creature didn’t seem shy at all, he seemed more eager than anything to get closer. “N-n-nice… little guy…”  She laughed, but when the creature approached even closer, she laughed harder than before. In situation when Blazerine gets really nervous, she tends to laugh a lot.  Whether or not the creature was going to attack her, she wasn’t going to stay around long enough to find out. Hauling ass through the oncoming trees, the weight of the blade made it all the harder for her to run.  Without a second thought about it, she unbuckled the leather belt from her shoulder and tossed it aside. A minor distraction kept her from recognizing what was straight ahead. An area with a natural incline sent her tumbling down. Helplessly her body rotated without control end over end. In her eyes the world spun and then was flooded by an impact of muddy cold water rushing to her face. Accidentally she ended up swallowing a mouthful of water. At first what appeared to be a ditch she had fallen in, turned out to be a lot deeper than it appeared to be.  She could of sworn it must of have been some sort of tunnel, however there was no turning back now.  Frantically, she scratches desperately at the now surrounding walls.  She tried finding something, anything to grab a hold of to stop herself from slipping. One by one, roots were pulled, but they were too weak and nimble to sustain any amount of weight. The harder she tried, the quicker she felt herself being pulled further down. A shrill series of screams escape her mouth, but they were lost, only to be transformed into a silent cluster of bubbles. What felt like eternity later; the water darkened and her limbs grew weary from the tireless efforts. She had an unpleasant awareness of her own heartbeat. It seemed useless to try any longer. Closing her eyes, she gave in, surrendering to death.

Leon and Fenix traveled by horseback to Durham Village to retrieve Grand Headmaster's Jared's blade. Approaching the outskirts, they were told to turn back upon arrival due to an allege outbreak of The Black Mark of Death. Leon questioned the guards procedures from the simple lack of ash, which would had been left from a fire to burn the diseased corpses. He didn’t know what type of trickery they were trying to pull here, but he refused to leave without speaking to the black smith at once. He shows them the written letter; it was signed by his grand master. The guards exchanged looks to one another, they most were afraid of what the outcome might if they were to decline a request from a Templar. They were chattering amongst them for a moment to make a decision.  It was agreed one of them would go get Gallet, while the other waits with them. Leon didn’t see any harm in that, as long as he got to speak to blacksmith, he couldn’t care less. The guard left for a little while and returned with Gallet. Leon presented the letter, but learned someone else from the church has already taken the blade.  He knew it couldn’t have been another Templar, considering no one other than him is currently patrolling these parts. Otherwise someone else must of have intentionally impersonated a Templar in order to steal it. Although he wasn’t sure how the man would have known. Gallet thought it may be possible to the perpetrator easily since he was only on foot.  

Fenix expertise in hunting was quite useful in pursue of the bandit. He notices a set of tracks in the road which were in fact heading in the direction of Abidden Woods. It’s an exclusive area well-known for bandits to attack stranglers along the road. Not many folks were foolish enough to trend these parts, especially at night. However Fenix has never seen a pair of tracks like this before. They were quite different, almost unique you could say.  There was a riffled pattern imprinted, which he hasn’t seen in anybody’s footprints before.  And the arch of the heel wasn't completely flat. Further down, off side the road, Fenix spots a broken branch beneath the old oak tree. The branch seem ordinary, however he notices a splat of slime on the far end.  He knelt down low to examine the substance by taking a sample of it. Then he rubs it in-between his thumb and index. “Someone's been 'ere alright, but whoever it was they weren't alone.” 

“What do you mean?” Leon suspected there might be others in on the scheme as well.

 
“This here is spit from non than other a Throat-stencher. These little buggers can release a foul odor in the air. Not any ordinary odors mind you. If it’s inhaled too long, most become delusional or even crazed with madness! Those who survived proclaimed experiencing their worst fears, such as death experiences. The folks who don’t snap out of it quick enough will be eaten alive, while he or she isn’t aware of it happening.” 

“Meaning..?” Leon wasn't very sure where he was going with this meaningless formation.
“Meaning that fellow mustn’t have gone too far, probably scared outta’ his mind if anything. He should be somewhere ‘round ‘ere, well unless the Throat-stenchers didn’t get him first, that is.” Fenix wipe his hand clean by glazing it across the grass. 

 “Secure the horses; I'm going to take a look around myself.” Leon stepped down from his horse and continued on ahead by foot. It didn’t take him too long to come across the abandon sheathe.  A closer examination determines it was in fact his headmaster’s blade.  As happy as he was to see it, he thought it was odd for the bandit to disband it. After taking such drastic measures to steal it in the first place, you would think they wouldn’t have just disbanded it.  When he was about to yell for Fenix, the sky lit with a narrow projection of an indigo light. It was emitting a variation of intense vibrations, transmitting throughout the air. Wanting to find out what it was, he ended up running downhill. Making sure his stride was relaxed and not forced. Instead of swinging from momentum, he let gravity do the rest of the work. Nearing the bottom, the intensity of the light overwhelmed his sight. With unsteady ending, he regained his balance with both feet planted on the ground. Widening his eyes, he couldn't believe what he saw. “Could it be...?” Approaching closer, the light began to fade away, slowly revealing a body of what he thought to be a young man lying face down in a muddy puddle.

-----

The frantic cries of the horses alerted the lurking throat-stenchers hidden amongst the trees, but their small stature figures cast shadows along the ground. “These little good for nothings dare challenged me!? Well, well, well, you little bastards sure did pick the wrong fellow to mess with!” He hocks up a large glob of spit, mixed with snot into the palms of his hands before he ferociously rub them together. Then he pries off the battle-axe from his back. In great quantities, the rain fell, soaking every inch of his body. Beneath his tangled mess of wet hair, he devilishly grinned. The throat-stenchers moved on in; surrounding him on all sides. Bellowing out in a lustful thrust, he swung his battle-axe. In midway, the edge of the axes’ blade made contact with the four standing out in front. Instead of taking the time pause and swing again at the others, he turned quickly, the battle-axe still in motion, creating a complete circle. All eight of the throat-stenchers heads slid off the top of their bodies, one after the other. Crying out in victory with his weapon held high above his head. Out of arrogance, he kicked
a couple of their heads away for fun.
---------
Removing one of his gauntlets, he sat it aside. Kneeling down with his exposed hand placed over the front of the man’s nose. He tried determining whether or not he was still breathing. He carefully rolled him over onto his back. The only visible injuries other than his bruised forehead were of cuts and scratches upon his cheeks. Once he felt air released against his skin, he continued to check for any further injuries that may be life threatening.  He unbuckles the absurd clothing for a better look inside. The first noticeable thing that caught his eye was the orb. It was shimmering at the end of a sterling silver chain, from around his neck. Ignoring the orb present for now, he ran his hand against the man's lower abdominal. He began to work his way up until stopping at the chest.  Realizing his chest wasn't flat at all. Perplexed by the discovery, he took away his fidgeting hand.  “H-he's a woman..?” Swallowing his saliva harshly, he looked off to the side, unsure what to think about the whole situation. He felt rather vulgar and to think about it, he has lectured Fenix about this sort of thing for years. What threw him off was the unparticular head visor lying beside her body. How useful could that be? Considering it’s too small to cover her head completely. From what he could tell it, damage had been dealt to the visor.  “The head injury might be worse than it appears due to little protection.” Soon he came across the map sticking out half way from her coat pocket. He knew this was all the proof he needed to pin her with. The circled areas would be more than enough to prove her motives.  In the distance, he overheard Fenix from above, calling out his name.

“I'll be down there in a second mate!” Fenix skidded down the hill sideways and lost his balance towards the bottom. Frantically, he flails his arms right before he landed flat over onto his face.  Immediately he stood right away to play it off like it never happened in the first place. “Leo, you should of have seen...”  Approaching closer to continue his sentence, but he realizes Leon was fondling with somebody on the ground.  “Whoa, I didn't know you had a thing for corpses, especially males... Well, whatever, after you're done, I'll hide the body and no one will know! It'll be our little secret!”

“Fenix's she's just unconscious. You're always the first one to jump to conclusions.” Leon lifted the upper part of her body from the puddle. He places a single arm around the back of her head to support it. 

“Really, you sure they’re not mosquito bites?  I could examine them for you. Well, what I’m saying’ is that I’ve seen plenty in my time to judge, you know?” Fenix tried to get a better look, but Leon refused to let him get close enough. 

“Fenix just because I don’t grope every female nearby doesn’t mean-“Leon mentions but Fenix intervenes.

“Why would a gal be caught dead wearing ugly clothes like that? Well, whatever, we can just throw that shit~ off to the side.  And if she wakes up, I'll hold her down for you, then
you hold her down for me next!” Fenix rubbed his hands together and simply given a smirk. 

“Fenix quit thinking with the wrong head! Now get over 'ere and lend me a hand already!” Leon thought his armor might be too bulky to carry her properly back to the horses. 

Fenix crouched down to allow the girl to be propping over his back. Locking his arms behind where her knees bent. He felt annoyed when the girl’s head fell beside his neck. Standing up with the girls arms slipped passed his shoulders. Beginning to walk a bit hunched over in order to prevent her from falling off. “What are you planning to do with this gal anyway? Considering if you’re not going to, you know, ravage her and all.” 

 “Fenix do not ever forget the teachings of the church. I’ve realize this woman isn’t an ordinary bandit. Prophet Ignaxio Hermes, vindicated by the creator was ordered to choose five individuals to endure the trails to become a guardian, a beholder of an orb containing god gift of power. Ever since Damus Johan betrayal, the headmasters over centuries have sworn to devote their life to finding the rest and reunite them with new former guardians.” Leon was for sure that the orb was around her neck. But it is unheard of; none of the previous guardians beforehand were female. 

“If the headmasters have been looking for them that long, how she found one so easily” Fenix thought it was suspicious. 

“You do have a point, I’m surprised… Well there are a lot of questions to be asked and I think I know someone who may have the answers. First of all were heading back to Brothel Hole for the night.  I’ll bribe the owner to let us stay because of all the commotion you caused earlier.” Leon knows it might take more than a few coins to per swayed him over; it might in fact take all of them. 

 “You're going to waste all our loot on this broad!? How am I going to afford my liquor now?” Fenix couldn’t bear the thought of not having the taste of liquid.
“I’m afraid there’s no other choice.” Leon nodded. 

-----------------------

Leon apologizes to the owner with a pouch full of coins. Fenix wasn't too thrilled about him paying twice the amount for only a single bedded room. Leon found himself seated upon a wooden stool in his overly priced room. Nearby, the girl remained beside him, resting in bed. He began rolling up the sleeves of his surcoat; is a robe emblazoned with the red cross of his church, in order to be identifying as a Templar outside of battle. Long bands were attached to the sleeves, near the wrists. Some were fastened at the collar by a round buckle, matching the other one around his waist. His long white cloak carried the same symbol and descended to his instep. He soaked a piece of cloth inside a bowl of water from the table. Ringing the water out before, he places it over the girl forehead. His attention was soon diverted by Fenix, when he came storming through the door.

“Our entire loot of gold, why, why...!? How am I going to fulfill my needs for thirst?” Fenix crumbled into a pit of his own sorrows.

“You shouldn't be drinking that very often. You'll end up like your father. ” Leon said, thinking he's better off without it. And what did he mean by “our” loot of gold? 

“All I'm saying is that gal better be worth the trouble or else I'll be pissed.” Fenix kicked an empty bucket across the floor out of annoyance. 

 “Instead of whining, you can make yourself useful by fetching me some water.” Leon kicked it back over to him.

“Make myself useful my ass. I carried her ass 'ere, didn't I?” Fenix muttered while grabbing a hold of the bucket.  Angrily he slammed the door behind. Walking to the opposite side of the hallway, he notices a door cracked slightly opened. For some reason he had a hunch that a woman would be naked. Well in fact he hopes there’s such a sight to be seen. To investigate it further, he caustically walks on over after setting the bucket aside. Peering inside he mutters, “Please let it be a gal. God please let her be naked...” The sight of a woman reflecting within a vanity mirror caught his eye.  Forgetting to swallow, saliva idly ran down from the left corner of his mouth. He stares intentionally, praying to the creator that she would in fact get undress. To his surprise, she did, and his eyes stayed wide open until the very last garment was removed. She eases her body slowly with a help of a wooden stool into a lidless barrel, filled part ways with water. Casually she rubbed a bar of soap against her milky cream skin.  Fenix tried to hold back his gasp by biting down onto his cringing fist.  He’s only able to see her little rump and not the front.  He could never be satisfied unless he got to see the rest of her body. Looking off to the left then to the right, making sure there weren't any witnesses.  Inviting himself in, he overheard a soft melody being hummed.  Quietly approaching closer until him accidentally bumped into a table. The vase shook, but he manages to steady it right before it falls.  The woman is startled by his intrusion and immediately threw her bar of soap.  It smacked across his left cheek, but it didn’t faze him at all. Already he was too hypnotized by her breasts. “That's some treasure chest you got there gal!” Fenix never did look above directly at any woman’s face usually. If he did he would have realize it was Holic, the same gal he forcefully kissed.

 “Y-you, it’s you again!” The Holic recognized him from earlier. 

“By the looks of it, you would have won some quality time with me!” Fenix said with a sly dog like grin.

“You're a filthy disgusting rat! I'll kill you!” The Holic threw her wash cloth next. Demanding him to get out, but there was no reasoning with him.

--------

Blazerine rouse from unconsciousness again, her sight focusing in on the ceiling. “I'm back at the cabin?” Sitting up, a dampen cloth fallen from her forehead. Pushing the sheets aside, she scooted over to the edge of the bed. The room's appearance looked a lot different than the cabins. Considering its condition seemed well kept. There was a man dead asleep in a wooden chair, right nearby. The only thing familiar in the room were actually her pair of sunglasses on the table.  Knowing it’s vital to have them on at all times, due to the reaction she gotten earlier today. If he were to have woken beforehand, he might flip out like everybody else did. Climbing out of bed only to realize her boots were missing.  She presses her bare feet into the floor below.  Looking down only to notice her coat also is missing. With a few cautious steps to the table, she grabbed her sunglasses. There was a crack through the left lens; however it still seemed to be functioning. There could be a possibility of it malfunctioning in the near future due to the damage. However it wasn’t something to dwell on right now. She quickly replaced them back on with a sigh of relief. A hand suddenly clasped around her left arm and she nearly jumped. Turning around, finding herself facing the man seated in the chair. She stepped back to yank her arm free, but it was no use.  “You almost gave me a heart attack! What exactly is your problem anyway!?” Before he had a chance to answer, she swung with her free hand.  Instinctively he caught her hand and held it in place. Gradually he leaned in close with his face a mere inch apart from hers. 

 (Leon; I’m surprised she’s capable of moving her arm in such a manner with the dislocated shoulder and all.)

 “The name's Leon, what's yours little bandit?” Leon refused to let her go. When she looked away, he followed the movement of her head to not break eye contact.

“I don't have to tell you anything!” Blazerine snapped out of embarrassment. To her it felt awkward being this close to anybody, especially someone she doesn't even know. And she didn’t have the slightest clue where the whole bandit thing came from. 

“Is that any way to treat your savior?” Leon stared deeply into her blushing face. Realizing it would be the perfect way to distract her from his true intentions.

“W-what are you doing!?” Blazerine tried to avoid his incoming hand by leaning further back. Even with the slightest little touch, she seemed overly sensitive regardless of her bruises.

“I thought the fever might have return, but you don't feel warm. Although your cheeks are still flustered...” Leon commented while stealthy positioning his free hand upon her arm.

“Hey, I never asked you to help me! So if you don't mind -” Blazerine cried when her arm turned inward. He brought her hand to rest against her stomach then twisting it in the opposite direction. Repeating this process until her shoulder popped back into its original position. 

Leon grabbed a suitable material and made a sling to keep her arm from swinging about. “Try not to overexert yourself any further until your injuries have healed.”  Giving her a slight nudge, she fell into a sitting position over onto the bed. 

 “What are you trying to pull -” Unable to finish her sentence after a bundle of bread landed in her lap. Quickly she tore off several pieces and swallowed them without even chewing. Having no regulation of the last time she ate anything.  She was beginning to choke a bit from eating too fast. Leon offered a water canister to help her wash it down with. Standing back, he stood there watching her slurped vigorously until there wasn't any left.  

What seemed out of nowhere, the door flew open and an empty bucket slid across the floor? “There’s your stupid water!” Fenix announces upon entry. 

“Fenix how could you fail such the simplest task ever, fetching water...” Leon shook his head in disappointment.

“Forget the water! You're feeding this broad now!? You might as well buy her a carriage while you're at it! “Fenix couldn’t believe what he just witnessed. “Leo, you already deiced to fulfill the duty of the headmaster? I thought you weren’t sure if that’s what you really wanted.”  He closed the door behind with a punt of his foot. “I can’t believe you’re choosing this route and it’s so suddenly! You didn’t even think it through first!” 

“I can’t deny who I am destined to be! If this is creators will then so be it!” Leon held a single fist to his chest. “It has to be...” 

Blazerine unintentionally made an odd face while watching them bicker. Fenix notices it at first, but ignored it after she looked away.  She tried to play it off as if she was minding her own business. 

“I’m sure you’re already aware of our names. It would be only proper if you give us yours.” Leon directed his attention to her unexpectedly. 

“My name, Umm... My name is Blazerine.” Blazerine’s voice muffled in-between another bite.
“Blaz – er – ine, Blazerine?” Leon tried pronouncing her name.

 “Yeah, that's right…” She confirmed after finishing the rest of the bread.
“You do have interesting visor equipment.  I take it you aren’t from around 'ere are you?” Leon noted her unfamiliar attire.

“Yeah you could put it that way.” Blazerine shrugged. 

“Speaking of equipment, who tipped you off on Grand Headmasters Jared's blade?” Leon wanted to get the small talk out of the way and get to the bottom of this rather quickly. 

Blazerine had completely forgotten about the whole incident with the blacksmith. “What?” 
“Don’t play dumb with us girly!” Fenix yelled out of despite.

Leon rose from his chair to retrieve the weapon leaning against one of the table’s legs. Then he presented the stealth blade up close for her to see. Blazerine recognized the weapon, but she wasn’t sure whether or not it would be in her best interest to admit it.
 “Um… well...”

“Whatever your true intentions are, like say for taking my headmasters blade in the first place. You better know that a crime of this altitude would have had you beheaded. Wherever you come doesn’t allude here. I hope you understand your actions aren’t proper behavior. If someone else were in my boots, they would have reported you to the authority’s at once.  All I have to do is show them this map.”  Leon wouldn’t tolerate anyone breaking the law, no matter the intentions behind it, but in this case his feelings were different. “Listen to my words closely. I will look pass this under one condition. If only you’re willing to come meet somebody with me.” Leon stared her dead in the eyes, a look which one could say, he saw right through you. 

 “Meet who and what exactly for?” Blazerine wasn’t sure why anyone would care about her existence, let alone meet. 

 “It doesn’t matter who it is. Do you accept my terms or not? ” Leon crossed his arms and tapped his foot, impatiently, waiting for her answer.

“It’s not like I have any other choice, do I?” Blazerine sighed.

© Tiffany Ann Adkins 2015 - 2019