Approaching the village of Silva, two horses rode, carrying their riders closer to their destination.
On the left, a white horse full of pride and fit for royalty advanced, its shiny coat showing how much care the owner gave to it. On the right, a jet black horse throttled forward, its face scarred. It too shined in its own way, looked after through its many years of service. Each rider upon their saddles wore cloaks of blue, hiding their appearance. From the way the fabrics clung to their slender bodies and their chests, it was clear they were both young ladies.
Throughout Avilion, it was not unusual to see people hiding their faces as they traveled. Most did it for privacy and safety, to keep their identities a secret from a world with prying eyes. Yet, these two gave the feeling of outsiders; guests in these lands.
The young lady atop the white horse looked beyond the darkness, her deep-blue eyes gazing across the grassland in front of them, anticipation shining in her irises. The other pair of red eyes drifted about, scouting for nearby dangers in their own ways, remaining on guard and ready to fulfill her duties at a moment’s notice.
She removed the hood, revealing a beautiful face as her black hair entered the light. Then, she spoke to her left.
“Princess. That tree in the distance is the rendezvous point. Once we reach it, we can take a break while waiting,” She respectfully explained.
With her knight’s face visible, the princess removed her hood as well. Darkness, like a veil, vanished. What appeared was a beautiful girl, her long, sakura-colored hair flowing against the breezed and settling upon her thigh as her white skin seemed to shine in the sunlight.
She was an ideal lady. A last with beauty, but a kindness and physical appearance to watch. The crown jewel of the kingdom of Alas, and first in line to the royal throne, she was someone anyone would hope to marry.
“Shana,” She spoke with a slight hint of annoyance, “Didn’t I tell you that Hikari alone was fine? You don’t have to call me princess out here.”
Shana covered her face in embarrassment, realizing her mistake as a tint of pink took to her skin. How could she recover? Her lady had insisted, near-ordered, that she spoke informally when they were in private. They were childhood friends, she had chided, she didn’t need to be looked up to by her own friend.
It was awkward for a moment.
After a brief pause, she removed her hand and corrected her mistake.
“I’ll try harder to remember from now on, Hikari,” She said as the pink complexion of her face soon subsided.
Hikari smiled as she nodded. “That’s better.”
Approaching the rendezvous point of the tree, the horses slowed then. Then to a steady stop. It was a tall, ancient, plant that gave a sense of peace and offered protection for the rays of the sun under its large shade.
Over three days had passes since their journey began, and they had only allowed little rest. Normally, it would have taken seven, but they had help. That person managed to shave off over fifty percent of the journey. Soon, it would be worth it. Soon, Hikari would meet Kira again for the second time in years.
The black horse stood still under the shade of the tree and Shana, with ease, jumped off and landed softly upon the ground below. The sound of her light armor, metallic, rang through the silence. She was, naturally, Hikari’s personal knight—secret as their outing was—a job she took seriously under the orders of the king of Alas, who had sent them away in the first place towards Silva, and thus towards Avilion, permission already granted.
With a final scan of her surroundings, Shana made her way to Hikari who was still atop her horse, taking in the azure sky above her.
“Hikari, let me help you,” Shana insisted, extending a silver-gloved hand out for support, “You must be tired.”
Hikari gladly reached out and took her hand, replying, “Thank you.”
There was a twinkle on her finger. A ring sparkling in sunlight. It shined, heavenly gold with a glistening blue gem as its centerpiece. Often, it was called one of the treasures of the royal family, a jewel of Alas.
Hikari dropped, feet finding grass.
Compared to the heat outside the tree’s protection, the shade underneath was undoubtedly cooler. They could relax there with clear visibility on all sides. The horses, as well, could take their well-earned breaks. Both of the girls moved to tend to the welfare of their trusted friends, giving them kindness in thanks for their hard work over the past few days.
Hikari smiled as she placed her face upon the head of her white stallion.
“Thank you, Lily,” She spoke softly, rubbing its form, “Thank you for your hard work.”
Hikari took out an apple and fed the animal as Shana did the same to hers.
“Good job, Dante,” The knight caressed the head of her own as it ate from her other hand.
Shana took from the supplies attached to the horse and laid down a blanket for comfort, doing so as well to keep her last from becoming dirtied. Sitting down, both took in the sounds of the surroundings that enveloped them.
Shana sprung up, realizing that her lady might be thirsty, and ran to fetch drinking water from the pouch. As she did this, Hikari listened to the song of twitting that entered her ears. Above them soared a family of small, purple birds, feathers holding a red tint to them.
Avilion was as gorgeous as she remembered all those years ago. A place most people wished to visit. . .but the wars made impossible.
The crunch of grass rang as Shana returned to her side.
“Here, Hikari,” The knight said as she handed over some water, “You must be thirsty.”
“Thank you, but Shana. . .are you not parched yourself?” Hikari asked.
“Thank you for your kind words, but I had my fill. Please, go ahead.”
Shana was always kind to Hikari, promising she would protect her even if the world turned on her. Though Hikari liked that about the girl, it was also a constant worry as the knight could sometimes neglect herself. Hearing her friend’s response, however, placed Hikari’s mind at ease as she sipped the refreshing water until she had her fill.
Thirty minutes passed.
The anticipation of wanting to meet Kira was a strong one. For Hikari, it started to show. Her perturbed face. Her fidgeting body. She couldn’t wait to meet him, and it was plain to see.
Shana picked up on that fact.
“You seem happy. It will be worth the years of wait you’ve endured. I’m happy for you,” She commented, knowing Hikari all too well.
She was glad to see this side of her friend. It was pleasant. Compared to the royal capital where all Hikari did was focus on her studies, here, out in the grasslands where she could behave like a child for once, it was a blessing for her.
“He saved me that day,” Hikari stated. “He never asked for anything. . .”
What came next pained Shana.
“I hope I’m not a bother to him again.”
Hikari’s once eager face disappeared, turning into one of doubt and sorry. Shana reached a hand to comfort her.
“Never think that!” The knight voiced her feelings. “You’re the kindest person I know. From what you told me, Kira is equally kind. If anyone thinks of you as a nuisance, ignore them. Keep moving forward, and I shall open that path for you, I swear.”
Shana’s word resonated with Hikari, causing the girl to perk back up with a smile.
They both embraced each other. Smiling together with the issue now resolved, Hikari decided to continue moving forward in the light, towards her goals.
. . .but their presence weren’t the only ones in the general area.
Shana broke from their embrace and sprung up, sword already drawn from her hips, as the blade gleamed silver. Instincts as good as always, she was certain someone was fast approaching on horseback, yet unsure whether foe or enemy.
She was only able to make out two individuals in the distance and, with no proof that it was the two that would take them to Silva, all she could do was take the moment with all the seriousness her training gave her.
From the sheer aura presence of one of the individuals, she was quick to remove her cloak and throw it aside. It could only be described as an immense cold. A rampaging blizzard that would ensnare and make running away impossible. The individual’s skill was plain to see, to feel.
“What is it?” Hikari asked.
“Some strong,” Shana replied.
Her white armor etched in gold sparkled under the sunlight, proudly displaying her figure. A blue cape, attached to her back with the emblem of a golden wing, gracefully flowed with the wind along with her black hair. Her armor was lightweight, only covering certain vital body parks, and making movement as agile as if she wasn’t wearing one.
With the two horses fast approaching, Shana held the golden hilt of her sword tighter. With them in close distance, she began addressing the opposing party.
“If you wish to take my lady, you must go through me first!” She proclaimed. “I am her knight, her sword, and her shield!”
The air took on an unpleasant feeling, the smell of a possible battle drifting. Though Hikari was grateful for Shana’s protection, she wasn’t nervous over the approaching individuals. Instead, she stood and removed her cloak as well.
She wore a casual dress themed pink and white. The top part accompanied her well-developed breasts, and the skirt showing her perfect legs.
“Stay behind me!” Shana yelled, her eyes determined.
“Shana, we are in no danger, trust me.”
“You don’t know that.” Shana shook her head, focused on the matter in front of them. “Even if it's a slight chance it might be an enemy, I can’t take that chance.”
The two individuals that arrived at the tree were two males. Knowing full well who they were, Hikari walked halfway then stood and greeted them with the proper courtesy.
“I hope you’re doing well on this fine morning.” She smiled. “Lord Setsuna. Sir Kuro.”
They made themselves known.
One a tall man in his thirties, Setsuna, with gray hair and a kind face. A master with the sword and equally skilled in magic, he was famous across the land. As eyes were the windows to an individual’s soul, his were gray, behind them lying a person who had seen war, death, and held secrets. Yet, only one was visible as his right eye was covered in a patch of blue lined with gold.
The other male was Setsuna’s son, Kuro, who was seventeen, the same age as Kira and the two girls. He was well-built like his father, the result of the training he had endured each day shaping him, slowly, into the image of the man that stood beside him. His hair was black, and he had the violet eyes of his mother.
Both of them wore village clothing—a simple shirt with pants—with swords at their hips.
Bowing with respect, Setsuna spoke.
“Thank you for your words, you are as kind as you are beautiful.” He returned to stance. “We are both doing well, Princess Hikari. It’s good to see you in good health. Lady Shana, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“It’s as my father says, I am doing well today.” Kuro smiled. “You seem to be doing fine as well, Princess.”
Hikari waved her hand. “I am thankful. But, please, neither of you two have to be so formal.”
“If that is your wish. Though it may be hard, I will try to follow.”
Shana sheathed her blade, recognizing no immediate danger. Still, however, in her mind, there was something off, perhaps unnatural, about Setsuna.
“Lord Setsuna, might I ask. . .how do you know about me?” She asked.
“The king and queen informed me, of course. My son and I were the ones who visited the castle a few days ago.”
Shana nodded. “That makes sense.”
What she truly wanted to ask about was the presence she had felt from the man earlier, a presence that had all but disappeared now.
“Setsuna, your reputation precedes you,” She said, “You certainly do not disappoint. You could perhaps hold your own against some of the kingdom’s strongest.”
In this world, across the many realms, there were strong warriors as plentiful as the stars in the night’s sky. Some excelled at magic, and others with their powers or unique abilities. Mana was the source of all living beings, and the energy that satiated an individual’s power. While Aura was the presence someone gave off when they showed their strength. Unknown to Shana, Setsuna had held back enough only to be acknowledged, never meaning to scare the knight into action.
He apologized, “I’m impressed you could sense it that well and gauge its power. However, I must ask for your forgiveness as I did not mean to frighten you both, only as a warning to any third parties that may have tailed along.”
Hikari shook her head.
“You do not have to apologize for it,” She said. “All along I knew it was you, but might I ask a question? Why did you say third parties?”
“There have been attacks around the village, resulting in people’s deaths. It is the principal reason we were late in meeting you as we began our investigation of the forest,” He explained.
Hikari’s eyes widened, worry shooting through her mind.
“How. . .how bad is it? Is everyone alright?” She asked.
Setsuna kept his calm. “Some lost their sons in the attacks. Some lost their daughters. Two children, a brother and sister, lost both of their parents.”
Hikari’s eyes hook over the loss as she bit her lips. Before she could ask about the young children and Kira, Kuro stopped her.
“They are fine, Hikari,” He said, “You have my word on that. Kira is a lot tougher than he looks. No matter how hard things try to kill him, it would take a lot more to get the job done. I can guarantee that.”
Hikari, though not without worry, felt a wave of some relief wash over and calm her. Placing her hand on her chest, she sighed.
“Thank goodness,” She muttered, “Thank goodness.”
As a princess, and first in line to the royal throne of her kingdom, she had to come to terms with deaths. Still, however, if Kira perished, it would have been too great an agony to bear.
Shana understood Hikari to that degree. Setsuna and Kuro were away for a month, and she was told this but the kind. Yet, knowing the almost constant dangers, Hikari still wished to see Kira. Shana promised she would defend her with her own life. Still, seeing Setsuna remain so calm in front of the perturbed princess, unlike his quick to console son, ticked her off.
With effort, she managed to hold back the words that wished to unravel from her lips. She did this knowing that the king, the queen, and Hikari held them in high regard.
Instead, Shana asked. “Lord Setsuna, might I make a request?”
“Yo may,” He simply replied.
Her eyes fixated on him with determination.
“You are the famous Rampaging Blizzard, a master of ice. You're both skilled with magic and the sword, and you could easily take on members of the Royal Knights, and the Royal Guard. Will you fight me one on one, so that our swords may speak for us?”
Actions spoke louder than words. Through his swordplay, she wished to know this man’s emotions and resolve before she could place Hikari’s safety in his hands.
Setsuna gave the faintest of a smile.
“Very well, but not today, in a few days.”
He narrowed his eyes.
“The lack of my emotions. That is what you want to know, correct? To hearing my heart through my blade?” He saw right through her.
“I thank you,” Shana bowed, anticipating the man’s power.
Then she stood back up.
“The title of ‘Rampaging Blizzard’ belongs to a Sacred Guardian of old. It must be a coincidence that you-”
“Shana, that’s going much too far!” Hikari stepped in, interrupting her knight.
Shana was puzzled, troubled by this. The Sacred Guardians that served Lord Atem were some of the most powerful being to have ever lived. Surely, such a title wouldn’t go to a human.
Setsuna gazed in Hikari’s direction. From his eyes alone, he told her it was alright.
“I assure you,” He replied to the knight, “It is a mere coincidence.”
“Very well.” Shana nodded. “I thank you for answering.”
Though he answered her, she still elected to keep her guard up. She couldn’t read him, and that fact made him dangerous.
While thoughts swarm through the knight’s mind, Hikari had placed herself next to Kuro.
“Say, Kuro,” She spoke with a finger on her cheek, “What’s Kira doing right now?”
Kuro gave her a straight answer.
“Probably telling that pervert of a chief to behave right about now.”
Though Hikari took the news well, Shana did not. If her perturbed face could speak, it would say, “Pervert. . .? If he tries anything on her highness, I will. . .” Both Kuro and Hikari laughed at such a sight, seeing the knight’s hand reaching and shaking for the grip of her sword.
“Shana, my old friend is a bit of a pervert, but he has a kind soul. If he oversteps his mark, I shall deal with the matter personally. Is that alright with you?” Setsuna assured her.
Shana’s hand drew away from the hilt of her blade.
“Very well,” She said, “However, I shall be keeping an eye on that old man.”
“Do as you wish,” Setsuna replied. Then, he pointed to the direction of the village. “I think it’s wise we make haste towards Silva.”
Everyone returned to their steeds and mounted, beginning their final trek to Silva, soon to be reunited with Kira.
While all this was happening, inside Silva, everyone was waiting for their arrival. Most of the residents were patient save for the young ones, whose bodies seemed incapable of standing still. A real-life princess and her knight was soon to come, after all, something that was once only in books.
A child jumped up and down in excitement.
“Mommy mommy,” The kid beamed a grinning smile, “I can’t wait to meet the princess!”
“I know you can’t, but you have to be on your best behavior for her, okay?” The boy’s mother told her son.
Two children stood out from the crowd. A girl with black hair and gray eyes, and a brother with brown hair. It was the two who lost their parents due to the recent attacks. The brother stuck close to his sister, determined to protect her. At his waist, a wooden sword was present and ready for use.
Their new guardian was no other than the chief and, as Kira was nearby, the girl tugged at his clothing and caught his attention.
“Kira,” She looked up at him, speaking quietly, “Is she scary?”
Kira knelt to her height as he smiled.
“I can’t tell you much as I don’t remember her, but I can tell you this,” He smiled and patted the girl’s head, “I can tell from her letter that she is kind, and gentle. I know you all will love her. Trust me, Hina.”
The little girl gave a cute smile, perhaps the first since that day, as she felt the weight of his hand ruffle her hair.
“I’ll trust you!” She nodded twice.
As the villagers stared at the scene with a warm smile, the little boy drew his wooden sword besides her and pointed it at the village entrance with determination crossing his eyes.
“I’ll protect you from anything, Hina!” he shouted.
“Thank you, big brother,” Hina replied, looking in his direction.
Kira, in the end, patted both of their heads once more.
“Remember, Kai, be careful and watch out for each other. Always. Remember help will always be here.”
A man with his arms crossed shouted in the chief’s direction but to no avail, the chief was leaving Kira to do the parenting.
“Hey, chief, Kira’s doing a better job as a guardian than you!” The man shouted, chuckling. But there was no reply. “Er. . .em, chief, are you doing okay?”
Kira stood and walked over to the chief, realizing the old man was daydreaming once again. Then, he heard his mutter.
“I wonder. . .” The chief spoke low, “How has Hikari developed into a young lady? Maybe big. . .”
His cheeks were tinted pink. Clearly, he was having perverse thoughts.
Kira’s eyebrow’s twitch.
“Hop out of your daydream old man!” He shouted as he smacked the chief over the head.
The chief sprung into life at once.
“How dare you hit your elder!” He yelled, “You’re a guy too! You must want to know as well!”
Kira deflected the remarks. “I may have trouble talking to girls, but I have the decency to not act like a pervert!”
The villagers laughed. Some things never changed within Silva, and that remained a good thing.
Kira and the chief collected themselves.
Then, suddenly, they both sneezed at once.
It was unexpected. They blinked their eyes at one another.
“Did someone say my name. . .?” They asked in unison.
Plot by Lord Atem, Written by LotsChrono'