Sunday, March 30

Chapter 13

For all the sun brightness and warmth which it grants this palace, there was one place it did not reach, the audience. The crowd looked on with excitement, especially the children - whose heads were literally sitting in the front row seats. 

Leon just stood there trying not to be too interested in what was going on - to avoid attracting any further attention. His seeming irreverence to the situation rather than fear brought him the exact kind of attention that he did not want. There was this short moment where him and the Sand Man looked at one another. 

Between the stare down, Leon took a deep breath before closing his eyes, trying to fully calm himself. "This isn't real." He repeated. 

Upon his statement, the Sand Man struck a boxing pose, and jabbed at some fake enemies to entice the crowed ongoing cheers, which culminated together in a perpetual buzz - that would fade into the back of any man's mind - due to its consistency despite its almost overwhelming volume. Piercing through this sound was a child screaming after realizing his head wasn't attached to his body.

 "If you die in here, you'll die out there - a body is useless without the brain.... You'll end up being just a vacant room." The Sand Man snickered. 

"We'll see about that!" Leon exclaimed as he made a dash for him.

In mere seconds, a jewel encysted dagger appeared in the hand of the Sand Man. The dagger blocked Leon's sword without any effort what so ever. And to further express how truly easy it was. 

He let's out a long exaggerated yawn in means to taunt him, while saying, "Too slow!"

Frustrated by the turn of events, Leon pushed forward again with anger in his step this time. The Sand Man laughed in return and back-flipped away to create some distance between them. 

Suddenly Leon saw a flash of light. Surprisingly his instincts took over with accurate timing to block the an oncoming dagger, that the Sand Man seemed to have thrown the second he moved out of range. It made Leon wondered when did he get another one, or perhaps he had two of them all along? 

All his thoughts had been thrown out the window at this point. So he charges in with an arc of a quick motion, but it was no use, for once again he's blocked by another dagger. 

In return, The Sand Man struck a blow, which unexpectedly lands an upper cut, "Pow!" He sneered once his fist met Leon's face.

Leon staggered a bit in result of the hit. Although it hurt, it still wasn't going to waver his determination to kill him.

"Don't put an angry wall between us." He sneered, "You'll never get over it."

"Enough!" Leon said sternly.

"Enough with the cripple jokes? I bet you just can't stand them! Ha-ha-ha-HA-ha~" He cackled, "It's been forever since someone made me this excited! Oh, ke, he, he, he! How fun, how fun, indeed! But I still have a trick or two up my sleeve!" 

With a single swipe of his dagger, a gush of the wind roared Leon's way. 

And like a boy swept by the waves of an ocean, Leon was swept by the swirling winds of sand. Firmly he planted his feet, while using his sword to provide as a shield for his eyes, but for how long? He realized the longer he manages to maintain his feet, the more the pain was beginning to sprout up from his injured leg. 

Briefly through squinted eyes, he see's a shiny object on his right; it was another dagger! The moment he reached out to grab it, he took a blast of sand in the face. Luckily in the end it was all worth it, because he caught the dagger and threw it right back in the direction which it had came. Although he landed his mark, the both of them were more surprised by its location; his ass. 

"Youch! That's going to leave a mark!" He cried, looking down at the dagger that stuck out like a nail - not completely pounded yet into a plank. 

What seemed to be a triumphant in Leon's favor, turn out be quite something else. The second the Sand Man yanked the dagger out, his flesh wound miraculously started to heal. 

"Not!" The Sand Man declared as soon as he threw the dagger back at twice the speed.

Perplexed by the discovery, Leon didn't even have a chance to react, so the dagger grazed him across the shoulder, spilling blood. Immediately his eyes scrolled down to determine how much damage has been dealt. From what he saw it didn't look deep enough for stitches. 

Then he glance back over, watching the Sand Man's utilized a footwork that was...impossible... The shuffling movement of his feet accompanied a bounce that did not match the speed and direction of his movement. 

'What kind of technique is this?' He pondered. 

Whatever it is, it doesn't matter. Leon knew the routine, when he attacks his method never changes. The most he can do in this situation is use it to his advantage.

Leon body coursed with a new found hope, which surges throughout his body, giving him the strength he needed to launch himself at the Sand Man. Once again he is blocked by the dagger, however this time Leon pushed his sword down, enforcing the Sand Man's hand to go down as well. The second he pushed, he freed his own hand from the sword's hilt, and took this opportunity to elbow the Sand Man dead center in the face. But that stumbling foolish clown followed back up by throwing something invisible to the naked eye.

Whatever it was... Leon realized it was some sort compass, a guide if you will; to him. During this sequence of fighting that took place. He didn't notice all of the sand that had gathered around the Sand Man. How did he not? Maybe he was too focused on landing hits than paying attention to his surroundings.

His eyes widen at the new threat of sand rushing at him like a cobra striking a mouse, and sadly he's the mouse. Not wasting any time, he scurried about to escape. 

"What's wrong boy!? Don't like the sand!?" The Sand Man laughed as Leon is chased around the palace by his sand.

Leon cursed, knowing he wouldn't be able to keep running for too long. Just shortly an idea crosses his mind. Redirecting himself, he barrels straight at the Sand Man, only instead of ramming head on, he manages to jump over him. 

Temporarily the Sand Man watches in awe, before being surprised by a swoosh of sand, that slams him several feet back away from Leon. 

Leon followed with an upward swing as he reached the recovering Clown; who does not have enough time to block. He receives the blow to his shoulder blade. It wounded him enough that he actually screamed out in pain, 

"Ahhh!" Cried the wounded so called 'God'. Then he took a few steps back with blood drizzling down his arm.

"No, no, NO! I am God! And you surely aren't one of his disciples!" He announced while extending his hand out in front of himself. 

In a moment's notice, Leon finds himself surrounded by orbs of sand. And with a single gesture, the Sand Man twirled his finger, making the orbs transform into deadly spikes.

Leon eyes might as well have turned into saucers, once the sand spikes came flying straight at him. he began striking them down, but it was weird he thought. It's heavy like striking iron itself, then he felt it... one grazed his leg, and another punctured his right thigh. 

"Ah-" He exclaimed as he knelt down, but he still continues fighting the rest of them off to avoid being wounded any further. 

That clown started to laugh manically, and from what Leon now sees, makes him more anxious than before. A giant serpent rises out from behind the Sand Man, made entirely out of sand. It's forked tongue peeked out a few times like any snake would. 

Leon brace himself once the mouth opened, baring its fang for all to see, before it strikes. It took only seconds for him to be swallowed completely whole. He gasped, then immediately sealed his mouth shut, for no air would reach him through the sand. Darkness was all around him, and he started to lose hope, awaiting for death to come knocking at his door. 

The Sand Man let out a sigh of relief, once he sensed Leon's life is starting diminish inside the serpent. 

Out of nowhere, faces of his comrades - no friends flash before his eyes. It jolted him awake, at least enough to tell himself this isn't how its going to end. And to his surprise, he actually had never let go of his word. So he made the biggest swing of his life, that even the Sand Man sensed. 

"Impossible!" The Sand Man declared when Leon fell out of the shrieking serpent.

Leon climbed back to his feet with his gaze fixed on him. 

"No...no...NO! This isn't how the story goes!" The Sand Man shook his head. Then he began to rock back and forth while rambling on to himself.

Leon quickly moved within range of the Sand Man and swung with all his might. The steel met his flesh, knocking him back in the process as well. Leon didn't stop there, he swung again, each swing that landed was like thunder. His entire view lit up to seeing his friends. It seemed the time has come for the mad Sand Man to finally meet his end. Teeth spilled from his mouth, along with sand. With a swift motion, he grabbed the dazed clown's own dagger and trusted it straight through his heart. 

"Ahhhh!" The defeated Sand Man let's out a cry as a white light engulfed his entire being. He turned into nothing but a pile of sand with a few torn pages out from the story book of the Sand Man. 

Leon blinked and before he knew it, he's standing before Fenix, exhausted, but alive.

-----

Crazily Lyrist's arms went flailing when the ledge collapses backward on him. With quick thinking, he ends up readjusting his body to aligned himself parallel. This allows his feet to slide down sideways with gravity, instead of roughly skidding along. 

A couple of minutes of smooth sailing passed by until his head gets bashed from behind. He doesn't even get a chance to figure out what the cause was. Since he's now reeling down the ledge, helplessly rolling. 

At this point he unsheathed his nails and digs them into the stone to gain back control. His speed drastically decreases, but its still not enough to make him come to a complete halt. And unfortunately for him, the end of the ledge was getting closer... and closer. There's no way to avoid it - so he might as well use it to his advantage. 

As soon as his lower body goes over, he reaches down to grab a hold of the edge. All the while he applies pressure by centering his feet flat against the ledge from behind. Immediately he pushes off with both hands and feet, sending himself hurling through the air. 

Then he embraces himself by crisscrossing his forearms in front of his face. In just a second or two, he'll be impacting the bricks of the basement's foundation. 

Unexpectedly his body falls straight through, unharmed. Although the crash landing was another story. He slammed right into a stack of ale barrels. They end up falling over onto his body in a bit of a dismantled pile. One by one he pushes a couple of them aside and eventually climbed out. 

In the furthest corner, there it was the painting! After all this is when he comes to the realization that there's no source of fire to even burn it. Was all his effort for nothing? 

When he picked up the painting, an idea struck him like lighting. He may not be able to burn it, but he sure as hell can try blowing it up. He pressed the painting securely against his chest and without hesitation, he leaped through the basement wall. 

Suddenly he felt his body get sweep away into the wind. Like a baby bird who is pushed out of the nest by their mother and is expected to soar the open skies. But he was no bird... Just a cat that can only hope he has a couple of lives left. Or maybe he could perhaps land on all fours. 

He didn't mind the free falling, it's just the air smacking against his face, brought irritation upon his ear. Well whatever was left of it. It pretty much looked like an ordinary ear by human standards now. Plus an addition to that, some of his dreads are missing as well. He wasn't sure why these thoughts were looming into his head. It's only a matter of time before he ends up splattered all over a ledge somewhere. If this was any other situation though, he probably would've enjoyed it. 

Then he saw it..  an golden egg. It came at him like a shooting star, scaling across the night. This might be his only chance, for he may never get another. He must throw the painting at once or else; get caught in the explosion himself, considering how much damage it already had done. More than likely he dares not going down that route again.

Bending his knees, he curled his legs upwards to his chest, like a lower abdominal crunch. Then he plants the painting behind his feet and kicked off. Not only it'll send the painting forward, but it'll also pushed him further back in the process. 

He extends an arm in front of his eyes as he witnesses the collusion of the painting and the egg colliding together. All the while he hears Belinda screaming from every possible direction. This can only mean one thing.. he was successful. 

Suddenly he's overwhelmed by a blinding white light, which forces him to close his eyes. Shortly he reopens them, only to find himself lying around in the basement of the pub with everyone else.

Although he felt too tired to greet the others, he didn't have to. They too appeared to be in the same condition as him.

"Is everyone accounted for?" Leon eventually asked. 

"I need a drink..." Fenix groaned. 

"I second that motion." Lyrist weakly smiled. 

Leon impatiently awaits for a response from Blazerine. When one never comes, he struggles to climb back to his feet. Then he carefully avoided stepping on Fenix and Lyrist as he made his way over. When he finally reached her, he dropped down to his knees, feeling too tired to stand any longer. 

Out of nowhere Blazerine cried out sharply, snapping awake, sitting up in quite a fright. Her heart pounding, and she was breathing heavily. 

Leon tried to get her to relax by giving her shoulder a small pat with his gauntlet, although the coldness of his armor left a shuddering impression. 

"It's alright, everything is well now." He told her. 

In the end, one of the thankful villagers opened their home up to allow them to rest for a day and a half. Since none of them were actually willingly to spend another second in that pub, even if the owner generously said they've earned free rooms. 

Returning to the bandit camp, Sir Emmanuel suggested he speak on their behalf to the king for helping him, but all Leon wanted in return is for Sinner to be trialed, so off they went to Kenelem Kingdom. 

Kenelem Kingdom is a very peaceful and majestic land, whose gates were always open to all. Many would visit just to marvel at the castle's beautiful structure, that's intertwining with foliage and trees; which create natural arch-ways with their branches. The towers are so tall; it makes those who gaze think of stairways to heaven. 

The castle's main courtyard has a gorgeous fountain with two statues; one is a knight in mid strike. And the other is a ferocious two horned creature. One many has never seen the likes of before. Its open mouth allows a water current to flow out and travel the portions of the kingdom, eventually emptying itself out into the ocean. 

The streets were filled with the town's folks parading happily about. Everybody wore fancy clothing, ones that only nobles could afford. Sir Emmanuel explained that the king taxed the rich until the rich were no more. There's no longer a lower, middle, or a higher class; everyone is just equal, but Leon highly doubts that is the case. 

Blazerine found herself quite fascinated by those who dressed more creative than the others. Colorful puffy gowns with frilly shoulders topped off with ribbons tied in bows. 

A man with a short red jacket and wide yellow leggings started playing his fiddle. Two people gathered in front of him and locked arms with one another. They danced together in a circle as he played. 

Lyrist uninjured ear twitched a bit in rhythm to the high strung tune, although it is hidden by handkerchief  that's wrapped around his head, to bend the ear inward against his head. The other one is left exposed, although it is a nasty sight, most of the blood has already dried up by now. He could have easily hidden it, but the air will help further along its healing process. 

It could have been worse, he thought. He's not at least bad off as Leon was, using his sword like a walking cane. He could only wonder if he'll permanently have a limp forever. 

"Is there some kind of special occasion going on?" Leon asked. 

"Yes the queen has given birth to a son!" The man declared after overhearing Leon.

"Ah! Such wonderful news indeed!" Sir Emmanuel smiled. 

Blazerine froze up once she realized there's a pair of eyes glaring her way. Fenix was giving her that sort of look a mother would give a child to demand proper behavior. 

The two of them were planning on trying to get Sinner out of this trial somehow with a clean slave. But it's really too hard for her not to be mesmerized by all the little do dads and what not's. Rag dolls, shaped like horses, and some creatures people have encounter, plus kings and queens. 

She redirected her attention to the children running pass them, playing with musical toys such as rattles, drums, and whistles. 

Lyrist exchanged a small glance with Fenix, because he knows the behavior Blazerine is displaying, reminded him of Fauna; that child - like curiosity of the world. Especially the expression she had when the kites took flight. Hand - made butterflies, doves and even fierce dragons filled the sky.

The dragons have long stream of ribbons, which waver in the wind to represent fire. The prettier ones have dazzling wind chimes attached to them at the ends. 

Sinner roughly smacked Fenix across the shoulders blade and yelled, "C'mon you're not the type who would spoil a good time!"

"You seem to be taking this well, for a dead man walking that is." Fenix angrily blew him off. 

"Hey, like they say; live each day like it's your last my boy." Sinner slyly smiled.

"You could have just runaway - get out of here," Fenix muttered. 

"And miss some quality time with my boys? Nah." Sinner laughed. 

Running through the crowd to reach them was a little girl calling out, "Papa, papa!" The closer she got, the clumsier her steps had become. She nearly trips over the blue gown that's too big for her short stature. 

"That's not another one of yours is it?" Fenix just had to ask.


"I don't think so... I never have been here before." Sinner shrugged. 

"It's you, it's really you papa!" The little girl happily leaps into Sir Emmanuel opened arms. 

"Elizabeth, what are you doing runnin' around and bout? You're supposed to be looking after your sick sister darlin'." His voice was lovingly and stern at the same time. 

"But- but she's been asleep for a very long time. The king said I should go out and play." Elizabeth said while cradling his face through the opening of his helmet with her little bitty hands.  

He placed his daughter around his shoulders and sighed, knowing he had been too late to save her sister; Gwyn. 

"He must have expected the worse...  Thank the angels he looked after her." He said. 

"He sounds like a great king," Leon mentioned. 

Sir Emmanuel turned to him in agreement, "Yes he's been so kind to my family, especially after my wife's - I mean, it's been hard, you know?"

"Yes I can relate to similar circumstances," Leon replied rather coldly. 

"Leo..." Fenix exclaimed in a compassionate tone. 

"He'll get what he deserves," Leon told him. 

Lyrist wasn't interested in interfering or interacting with the laws humans have created. It's not really his place to say anything about those regards anyway. Although at the same time, he knows Fenix and Blazerine will do so otherwise. 

Shortly after that thought crosses his mind. A grotesque face quickly gloom his face. Argo; the wolf was sitting comfortably right next to him. It's not that he actually dislikes members of the wold family, because of the obvious. It's more of a jealousy trait; due to humans shunning cats over superstitions, therefore favoring the dogs instead. 

On top of that, cats hatred for dogs mostly lies with tail movements, which mean different things between their kind and his kin. To a cat, wagging a tail means displeasure or even anger. Still Lyrist realized from Argo that it's a formal greeting in social behavior to indicate happiness.

Sinner approached Argo and gave him a soft pat on the top of his head. "He seems to have taken a liking to you." He told Lyrist. 

"How unfortunate...." Lyrist replied. 

Sinner looked over at Blazerine as he continued speaking, "There's just something different about her that seems kind of precious, you know?" 

"Maybe it's because she's someone who can truly comprehend and understand the value of others, passively without even knowing herself." Lyrist explained, 

"Always thinking, and questioning everything...  Acting different around certain individuals too. It's a feature that only someone with a high level of intelligent could even be able to do. 

You wouldn't believe it, but most other humans aren't capable of that basic thought process. - But basically  more specifically she knows how to act for each person, depending on who she's around. Doing so... in a way that puts others more at ease, by adjusting to a level that they're automatically comfortable with." 

"That's a mouthful." Sinner chuckled.

Blazerine wanders away from the others to explore around by herself. Shortly she comes across a man who announces himself; as the king's personal royal messenger. He stood there before a decent size crowd of jesters. They were all wearing brightly colored clothing, masks, eccentric hats. All the above had different patterns of motley, polka - dots, stripes, zigzags and even some with splotches.

"Here - e,  here - e, I welcome all of you licensed fools on behalf of the king's absence. He's granted only the best buffoons can be selected to entertain tonight's Annual Ball; thrown in celebration of the newborn prince, Salvador! Now chop, chop, and show me what you got!" He cried out, while throwing his parchment to the sky. 


Blazerine watched some performances, from acrobatics, juggling, music, fire breathing, and more things she has never seen before. But really most of all... she's surprised by two look alikes who approach her. 

They're small enough to be mistaken for a child. The only difference is their colors; one was yellow and the other was green. She guesses it's probably to help identify them individually. And their outfits were fluffy with patchwork styled patterns. Bells jingle and jangle from their long pointy hats; that are three sided. 

The green one up stepped forth and announced, "I'm Ge!" 

Then yellow one introduce himself right after, "I'm Mini!" 

Ge: And we are a,

Mini: broken Gemini. 

Ge: Always together!

Mini: Cause were twin brothers!

Ge:  Always connected, 

Mini: Yet always disconnected. 

Blazerine tried to say, "Yeah that's... pretty - " 

Ge: Annoying! 

Mini: Cause we finish,

Ge: each others,

Mini: sentences! 

"Is that the only thing you can do?" Blazerine asked.

Ge: Of course, 

Mini: not!

When Ge tipped his hat to the side, Mini had reached in and snatched a small leather pouch. Blazerine thought it must of have been sitting on top of his head. 

The two of them fought amongst themselves, wanting to be the one to show their skills. Ge claimed himself as the victor after Mini had keeled over from a punch in the gut. 

Blazerine watches him loosen the pouch and take out a tiny pinch of white sand. Then he sprinkles it precisely across the middle of his palm. 

"Are you ready?" Ge softly whispers before blowing the sand softly into her face.

At first Blazerine didn't think anything had happened until... The Jesters' eyes dastardly shift to the sides of their heads and enlarge in size, along with their ears that grew floppy. Their heights never did change... but everything else did. From nose shrinking, fur sprouting , and lastly prominent front teeth. There now were two bunny rabbits standing in front of her; wearing clothing. 

"Hey, that's pretty cool." Blazerine laughed. 

Mini declared, "There's a side affect - any person you find 
attractive will appear to be a bunny." 

Ge held up two fingers and further commented, "For two hours." 

"But wouldn't that mean -"  Blazerine suddenly yelped out after being grabbed from behind, by the collar of her trench coat.

She didn't even have to turn around to see who it was. It's always a routine, a normal interaction if you will, between her and Leon. Well, at least by his standards anyway. 

"You don't have time to be messing around with these clowns." Leon sternly said. 

Ge: Just clowns!?

Mini: No sure - re 

Ge: We are fans from the TALES, 

Mini: of the great Sandman!

"I've had already enough tales for this lifetime  Thank you very much, we'll be going now." Leon sneered. 

He forced Blazerine along, although she could of have easily slipped her arms out from the sleeves, but she refused exposing the condition of her virus. 

"Look..." She begun, "What's ever happening between you and Fenix isn't my fault. So don't take it out on me." 

She paused for a second only to additionally say, "Even though... he's right and you're wrong."

"You're siding with him, you of all people?!" Leon raised his voice out of anger. 

"People have the ability to change. For the good or for the worse. You gave Fauna a second chance. Why can't you just give him one?" Blazerine protested.

"He doesn't deserve another chance, understand? Trust me you don't know him like I do." Leon explained. 

"Whatever..." Blazerine rolled her eyes.

"Now hush! You should be preparing yourself for when you meet the king. You're going to be his honorable guest after all." Leon said.

"Honorable guest?" Blazerine repeated.

"Yes many would be honor to have a legend; the one who carries a sacred orb. And who knows, we may be invited to the Annual Ball. Formal wear..., dresses, music, and dancing." Leon explained. 

"Dancing? I don't do dancing okay. Or anything associated with it." Blazerine mumbled out of frustration.

"Nonsense, since you have all the time in the world to fool around with those new so-called friends of yours." Leon pointed out.

"You're going to punish me over that? Man come on, you're treating me like a little kid! I'm older than you are!" Blazerine argued.  

"That might be so, but you're not mentally. For a future reference if you're going to act little. I'm going to treat you like you are. So until that head of yours catches up, deal with it." Leon threatened.

----

The Great Hall; it's the most important room in the castle. This is where feasts are held for special occasions or to greet visiting guests. The windows throughout the room are arranged to let in a good amount of sunlight. Golden tapestries were hung in-between them, to help brighten up the dull stone walls. In the middle of the floor, there's a red carpet, which strictly leads straight up to the king's throne.

Servants were busy preparing a single wooden table that's on a platform. This is solely for the king and his family to eat breakfast, lunch and supper. The lesser ones below are for his guests and knights. However, his guards, along with the servants eat in a separate banquet hall.

'So much for everybody being equal.' Leon thought. 'You can remove the title, but you can't take the mentality of the class away.'

Fenix thought the servants clothing were bizarre. They wore green dresses that have huge bottoms, but the upper waist is tiny as can be. Why wasn't it the opposite? The bigger the top look, the bigger the gal's chest would appear. And the giant yellow bow is doubled knotted in the back...  It would be just another annoying obstacle to get to the goods. 

A guard sounded a trumpet upon the king’s arrival. Everyone bowed, except for Blazerine; who wasn't exactly used to these royal formalities. Although it is unheard of for women to bow like gentlemen. A woman from their time, always would curtsy, but that usually requires the right garments, such as a dress or a gown. 

Plus she has her mind on a bigger matter. At least to her it was anyway. Whoever she finds attractive would look like a rabbit?
But how did she even find the jesters to be attractive? Unless being mysterious is the cause behind all of it? 

I guess that would mean Leon could possibly be furry as well. Since the armor makes him come across that sort of way too.  Never seeing a facial expression that could help decipher, the meanings behind his actions or thoughts. 

And what about Lyrist? He's drop dead gorgeous and he looks the same. Yet again he did say any person, which he's far from.


That's when she noticed Lyrist was looking her way. Once again she had forgotten about his whole mind reading bullshit. It's really too hard for her to keep a clear mind at all times, especially in this awkward situation. It's still embarrassing nonetheless, she thought. 

Leon rationally corrected her behavior by forcing her half way down.

"You do not seem acquitted with our customs. What backwaters did you come from?" King Lucien asked. 

"Back waters?" Blazerine repeated with a frown. 

'Is he insulting or belittling me?' She pondered, 'I can't really seem to tell which, but he sure as hell is looking at me, like I'm some sort of lower life form.'

He approached, wearing a red embroidered surcoat, which has no sleeves, but the arm holes were made purposely large to reveal the lavished undergarment. And the fur mantle hung around the very back of his shoulders, almost like a cape. Lastly, the jewels from his crown glisten in the sunlight, brightening his dark brown hair, that's the same as his cleanly cut, trimmed beard.

She turned to exchange glances with Lyrist again, for an answer. He simply nodded yes in return. Although he knew it's really the last thing she wanted to hear right now, but he's the only one who's actually been honest with her... and she hopes it stays that way. Otherwise, she would feel more alone than she already does. 

All the while, Leon was explaining to the king about Blazerine's head injury. How it has made her lose common knowledge of the world and what's in it. The conversation eventually leads up to explaining how she's a guardian of a sacred orb. 

Leon forced her to show the orb to prove everything they were told. The king's face quickly changed, for he now looked at her in a different light. All, it did, was make Blazerine annoyingly look away in disgust.

King Lucien signaled his servants, "Quickly set the guest table at once!" 

"That won't be necessary." Leon kindly declined. 

Blazerine knew it would have made Fenix upset or even mad to decline free food, but his mind was elsewhere.

King Lucien laughed, "Strictly here for business I presumed. No one could expect any less from a Templar." 

Without warning Lyrist, horribly cringed in pain, while he held his head dearly. Thoughts were coming at him in all directions, and he couldn't block any of them out. Why was this happening to him? Could this possibly have something to do with his ear injury? 

"Lyrist!" Blazerine freaked out when she saw blood trailing down from his nose. 

Lyrist was taken by surprise because Blazerine rushed to his side, regardless of the situation.

"What's wrong?" She asked him. 

He looked down at her with his glassy eyes then whispered, "I can't control it- the thoughts- they're getting louder and louder." 

She leaned in closer to saying, "Focus, focus only on me, okay?" 

King Lucien urgently requests a servant to take Lyrist to one of the guest rooms to clean up. She wanted to help him, but Leon undoubtedly would tell her no. However in this very moment she could care less what anybody has to say about it, so she followed them, without saying a single word. 

Leon couldn't figure out why of all days Blazerine had to choose to rebel, not only against him, but in front of authority. Luckily for her, the king didn't think much of it since she's quote and quote "not in the right state of mind." Otherwise, it would've have been out of his hands…- for whatever punishment the king decides to give, due to her lack of respect. Despite these minor step backs. At least everything is still going according to his plan. 

He lifted his finger and pointed it right at Sinner, before making his demands, "I want him; a fellow member of the Blood Pack to be trial for his crimes."

The atmosphere drastically changed after his statement. There’s fear spreading throughout the eyes of all the servants. One of them was so shaken up; she accidentally drops a pitcher of wine. Immediately a group of servants gathered around to help clean the spill. 

King Lucien took a seat on his throne, because of how serious this matter has now become. With a strong, but yet clear voice, he yells, "Guards cease this man at once!"

"No you can’t do that!" Fenix cried. 

"I am the king; I can do whatever I see fit!" King Lucien tells him. 

"Blaze – I mean no - the guardian would not allow this!" Fenix protested.

"The Guardian isn't of clear mind to be making any decisions, let alone judgment. I advise you to close your mouth right now! Unless you… want me to remind of where you stand, BEFORE a king." He argued.

Fenix didn't know what to say. It's honestly one of the very few times, he's lost for words. Even if he had any, he runs the risk of jeopardizing Leon's reputation as a Templar from Norman Church. All, he could do now, is just hang his head low while his father is escorted to the dungeon, to await his trial in an old dirty cell. 

----

Blazerine stopped in front of the door's frame. She wanted to avoid getting in the way of the servant; who's assisting Lyrist. But from where she's standing, she can see that the guest room has oil paintings on every single wall. And of who they were, she didn't have the slightest clue. Other than its apparent that there some sort of heroic figures or perhaps even portraits, which could possibly be generations of the royal family.

"Of all rooms he had to get this one.. I doubt he's going to be too thrilled about all of these paintings." Blazerine quietly sighed. 

The servant left briefly, only to return with a bowl of room temperature water and some handkerchiefs.

"Is he going to be alright?" Blazerine asked her.

"Yes, his nose bleed has almost stopped bleeding completely." She replied, "And I can't spare any more time. I have a ball to prepare." 

Unexpectedly she shoved the bowl into Blazerine's arms, not caring whether or not she got wet. 

"But I -" Blazerine started to say.

"You know what to do, don't you? Sheesh... what a nuisance." The servant grumbled out of annoyance. 

Blazerine watched her walk away and said, "What a bitch...." 

Shortly after that thought, she closed the door and slowly approached Lyrist; who could be seen lying sprawled out on a large bed, covered in warm blankets. It looked far more comfortable than their usual pallets or bed rolls. Probably because the mattress is filled with feathers, instead of hay; like the typical cheap beds from tavern inns.

Abruptly Lyrist pulled her towards the bed. And before she knew it, the bowl fell to the floor, spilling the rest of its contents everywhere. She wasn't sure what to think or how to even react from his embrace. Her face was red; her nails were nervously digging into the palm of her hands. Although her emotions betrayed her she stayed composed.

"I can hear it…" He said out of nowhere. 

"What are you talking -" She ceased her words the second her voice embarrassingly cracked. 

"The sound of your heart - it's beating so loud and fast..." He whispers, "Making it all the easier to focus on. The pain is finally starting to subside…." 

"Are you trying to embarrass me on purpose?" She couldn't help to ask. 

"I'm only doing what you've told me to." He reassures. 

"What am I your owner or something?" She questioned him. 

Lyrist's ear briefly flicked and his eyes straight away looked towards the door. He threw himself back on the bed, taking Blazerine down with him. Then he swiftly threw the blanket over, covering her completely. 

She didn't understand what he was trying doing, until she heard a knock; followed by the door opening. 

"Where is she?" Leon was quick to ask. 

"A child like her? Probably roaming the castle." Lyrist replied.

Leon looked off to the side and said, "So you overheard."

"I always do." Lyrist simply smiled.

"What else do you expect me to do with someone like her? Getting into trouble at every whim, every turn. I wasn't there - I can't always be there to lend a hand." Leon argued. 

"You're not mad at her, you're actually mad at yourself." Lyrist pointed out. 

"What's that suppose to mean?" Leon demands to know.

"Deep down inside, both you and I know that she does not believe in the words of Yeldir The Magnificent. Which leaves a question? Why would she go through all of this for nothing in return? Countless of times she could have run away, but she didn't." Lyrist told him. 

Leon felt hesitant and was silent for a moment. Finally, he replied back in a sad, monotone voice."You're trying to say that she's only doing this for the sake of my behalf?"

"With whatever time, she has left in this world, she has given it to you. - Your conquest, of becoming a headmaster." Lyrist answered. 

Blazerine's body trembled as she strive to keep her emotions intact, knowing this wasn't the time to have a meltdown. But it was hard to hear everything that's been held inside of her to be said out loud just like that, especially to Leon of all people. How can she continue standing strong against him after hearing all of this?

Leon didn't say anything else before he left the room. 

Blazerine threw the cover off the second she heard the door shut. 

"Why- why - what was all that for?" Blazerine cried. 

"Time will tell. Now hurry along, you do have a ball to attend." Lyrist insisted. 

"Whatever!" Blazerine exclaimed while scrambling out of bed. "All of you people are crazy!" 

Literally huffing and puffing, she left the room - only to run into Leon; who happens to be standing there. 

"Is it true?" He asked her. 

"You - you... you knew I was there the whole time?!" Blazerine blurted out. 

"How wouldn't I, unless Lyrist has gained about extra two hundred pounds or more in the last hour?" He sneered. 

"You're calling me fat!?" She angrily screamed before throwing a punch at him, but she ended up hurting herself in the process due to his helmet. 

"How lucky!" She cringed in pain, "Your helmet got in the way of your FACE!" 

"I can take my helmet off." Leon offered.

"NO - I - I don't want to know." She panicky shook her head.

"Know what?" He tried to pry for further information. 

She nervously said, "You're not allowed to publicly do that anyway. So just leave it at that."

"I've come to tell you that the maids have prepared you a bath and left some dresses for you to try. So go clean up and choose whatever you see fit to wear." He instructed. 

"Oh great! Sounds fantastic...." She sarcastically mumbled. 

"Most girls would jump towards the occasion to dress up." He said, "Getting a chance to dress like royalty and attend a ball. What else would a woman want?"

"It sounds like something Fauna would want, not me." She quietly sighed.  

"Blazerine..." Leon began to say, "Don't even start." 

"You know I'm damn right. We should be out there looking for her! Instead of fooling around like this! And for what!? Revenge of a childhood? At least you had one..."

Fenix interrupted her with a scream, "I rather wear rags than these clothes!" 

Blazerine and Leon stared in awe because there’s a bunch of servants chasing after the butt ass naked Fenix in the hallway. 

Casually Leon held his gauntlet over the front of Blazerine's eyes to prevent her from seeing what's left of Fenix's dignity. 

"I swear I've seen him naked more times than I have with clothes." Blazerine couldn't help but laugh. 

"You too will be in the same mess if you don't get a move on." Leon threatened, "Those maids were order to bathe, groom, and dress you." 

Blazerine pleaded, "Okay- okay, I'm going! There's no need for any services. I'm well capable of bathing and dressing myself." 

Quickly she rushed towards her designated room. After fastening the latch, she turned around and slump up against the door from behind. A sigh of relief escapes from her lips, because all, she could think of, is - if it weren't for Fenix's stunt, there would have been hell to pay. Which this led her to wonder if he had actually planned this all along or maybe he's just being his goofy self as usual? Whatever the case may be, at least everything worked out in the end. 

After looking around the room, she realized it was pretty similar to Lyrist's, but with the exception of a wooden tub sitting in the center. 

"How would anybody feel clean by using this method? Bathing in your own filth isn't even sanitary." She asked herself. 

It's been awhile since the last time she's actually has seen her own reflection. And quite frankly, she didn't like what she saw; a dirty underfed woman that looks half dead. Out of irritation she smacked into the water to dissipate the image. To her surprise the water was warm, actually warm! This is probably the closest thing she'll ever have compare to a warm shower. 

Immediately she splashes some water on her face. Then again, and again. 

'It's the only thing that makes me feel renewed, almost as if it somehow cleanses me of the spiritual growth. I believe, no I pretend it helps me. And ever since the day it happened, every night; I have the fear of sleeping. Not only because of the nightmares, but I actually woke up in other places; not knowing how I got there. It happened so often, Haven had to lock me up in a room every single night. I guess you can say he was my safe haven - even from myself...' 














© Tiffany Ann Adkins 2015 - 2019