Chapter 1: Run away!
Small, dusty beams of light tried to poke through the thick red curtains which covered each of the four
elaborately decorated windows of my room. If you were here at this point you would have seen the small demarcations made by this light on some of the objects, my table and its legs with their intricate carvings of war, the water jug made of green crystals, the huge stack of gold rotting at a corner. A merry and crackling fire made the room quite cozy. The beams of light further demarcated a cat which looked like it would sleep on the Frostmas mat for eternity, a huge wardrobe lying open to reveal the most expensive possible clothes. Books and martial arts material lay scattered all over. Only Nana cared about it. She is the one who schooled me. A man came every week and trained me in fighting. And finally, a bed which had its pillows placed and covered in a blanket completely so it looked like I was sleeping in it. Perfect. I straightened out in front of the mirror. I felt as uncomfortable as I always do about my skinniness. My eyes were blue in color and the cheeks under it looked almost like they were stretched across my face. My nose was straight as ever and my pre-mature mush was underdevelopment. The shaggy bluish black colored mess on my head was in fact my hair. The hair hung over my forehead and reached my eyebrows. I grinned at myself. My arm instinctively moved up and rested over my heart. I had a birthmark there. A burn like dragon shape. I had been fascinated by it for about ten minutes and then gotten bored of it. But I was proud of it. I felt special for having that mark… I grabbed whatever clothes I could, shoved them into my bag and pulled open the curtains. I had a room with a view. The Snowleopard Mountains reaching for the sky, their peaks lost in the clouds. The spine river ripping across the green plains and flowing into two tributaries, one disappearing behind the mighty guardian hills and another flowing right next to our village. Since I lived in the largest house in or around Armour village, I could see right over the hay covered houses. And right outside our fence, for some reason, there was always a bunch of soldiers camping there. They looked bored and tired. Often, one would throw a stone or a knife at our fence. They would just bounce off or shatter in the air right above the fence. Also, often there was a young looking man wearing deep blue robes, he had snow-colored hair and his golden chain hung across his neck and ended near his stomach. He seemed to have a slim build but even though I was at quite a distance from him, I could feel that he was a powerful and wise man. At a first glance, I could have sworn he was over a thousand years old. The cat that lay on my mat was actually his. And every time I had seen him standing outside, he would be staring at my window. Yesterday the cat had sunk in through my window and delivered a letter addressed to me……

To Saphire, I have been watching you for twelve years now. I have witnessed all your unsuccessful efforts to escape

from Armour villa. I have seen the women harshly disciplining you. And I know you hate your life at the moment. I also know that you want to run away from that house. I can help. I have answers. All you need to do is walk to your fence. Raise your hand. Focus on your need to escape. Move your palm in a circle and command the protective shield around the mansion to break, using the spell ‘todho’. It is a word from an ancient magical language. It may take you a few tries but believe me when I tell you it will work. Good luck Saphire. P.s. I can read the look on your face whenever you see me through your window. Don’t worry I don’t get bored as quick as you think. Artimis. Another attempt. What difference would it make? Might as well try this too. I wish I had known how much of a difference this would make... Then, at least I would have debated over my decision for a bit. But of course, unknowingly, I had made up my mind in less than a second. I pushed open the window and fresh, sweet smelling air hit me in the face. This made me long to get out even more. The cat stood up yawned and leaped out. His black fur was shining under the sun’s rays. His sudden landing on the grass hardly made any noise. It was followed by a swift dash for the fence. The cat’s agility surprised me but even more surprising was what it did next. It leaped right over the fence and through the protective force field. When the cat leaped through, the air rippled like disturbed water. I had wanted to be able to do that for such a long time… I followed. One step on the window. Another on the wall. Jump. Last step on the pipes. Jump. Flip and land. At least that was the plan. I leaped and managed the first part, of hopping and placing one foot on the wall. I couldn’t do the next. My dramatic landing was nothing more than Thud! “Argh! My leg!” I stood up cursing and limped over to the fence, praying that my heroics hadn’t woken up anyone in the house. My grandmother and nana were the only ones that were sleeping inside the house at the moment, still, if either one of them saw me, it would mean the end of this opportunity. I knew that they both loved me. Although, due to all the rules and regulations, the mansions had been filled with arguments and punishments for the last ten years. But no more. I was leaving all of it behind. I was going to escape from Armour villa. Now. No one was going to keep me from going. They had imprisoned me long enough. I reached the fence. That barbed and spiked steel fence which had shredded my skin during one of my attempts to escape. I have lost count of how many times I had tried to run away… That’s how it always is isn’t it? When people keep harping on a rule and keep reminding you what you are forbidden to do, it becomes tempting to go against the rule. Anyway, I stood facing the fence. Artimis stood on the other side of the protective force field. An encouraging smile had lit up his wise face. His glassy green eyes radiated faith. Most probably, it was faith in me. It could have been faith in that spell which he had told me to use. Either way, the faith would bring me good. I got ready to do as he had instructed… This was it. The moment of truth. I stood facing the barbed black fence. It stared back, as if challenging me. I raised my arm and focused completely on how badly I wanted to get out of Armour villa. Leave all the rules, silence and boredom behind. Get out find answers to forbidden questions...

If only I hadn’t focused so much, I would have noticed Artimis sink to the ground unconscious. I would have noticed the cat fall too. I also would have noticed how the air suddenly seemed to weigh more. I remembered the word that I had to say. ‘Thodho’. Strangely, I understood the word from the ancient language. It meant ‘break’. “Thodho” I screamed. Big mistake as it turned out later. It all happened in a flash. I felt a power surge across my body towards the point I had pointed at with my arm. An small invisible explosion caused the air to whip my body…The force field cracked, literally, it got marks like a broken glass. And that is when I was blasted from behind. **** Was I dead? I asked such luck, you’re alive but your whole body wants you dead, I heard my mind tell me. My back felt like it was being whipped with burning hot rods. It hurt most there. Every other part in my body was definitely being hammered. I waited till I got used to the pain and managed to force my eyes open. I was back in my room. The same cozy room that I hated. It was still the same as it was this morning. Well, almost the same. The sun’s rays were brighter, it was noon. The cat was gone. And I myself lay in the bed. Not my pillow decoy. Also man was standing, starting out of the window. The same one with the great view. His hands were folded in an overly disciplined and firm way. I couldn’t see his face. His black hair was fluttering in the breeze. He was wearing a purple and black armor. Three spikes reached out of the shoulder blades on both sides. The armor seemed to take the shape of his awesomely ripped and buff body. Black and purple veins reveled themselves on various parts of his body. He wore a breastplate made of a black metal I couldn’t identify. His legs and forearms were fully covered in the same metal. He had covered his muscular arms in a purple and black cloth. He seemed to have covered his back in the same way which surprised me. A cape hung from his shoulder blades. The cape was the only part of his armor that looked like it was weak. The protection on his back seemed a little too weak… Like it was weak for a purpose. The last and worst part of his getup was his sword. It would have looked like a beautiful sword had it not been for the thick, purple and black creepers stretching across its purple tinted blade. Bits of the sword’s hilt seemed to be layered with black snake skin and secured with the same snake’s innards. A black diamond like stone was embedded above the hilt. And above the stone was the worst part of the sword. A purple eye was peeping out of it. Not you’re round regular human eye. I could have sworn it was the eye of a monster. Evil and haunting. It was looking around the room until it finally fixed its gaze on me. This made me much more uncomfortable than I was. I tried to ask him who he was. Although, the first attempt resulted in a sound you would only expect from a chocking pig. I let my voice return to me. When my throat felt better, I tried again… “Who...are…you” great! My voice still works. Good to know some part of my body doesn’t need to be fixed. “Shut up.” Was the reply my ears heard and my brain took offence to. ‘Shut up’ was obviously not his name. He has told you to keep quiet in a very rude way; my brain figured out and then got angry about.

“Don’t you usually say good morning to a guy who has been out cold for quite a few nights?” “Don’t use that tone with me. I don’t pity the injured. They are a disgrace and an excess bother for the ones who are to care for them. And I hope you haven’t forgotten the attack to your back, I will repeat it if you try to act more smart than I expect you to be. And as for you being out cold for a few nights, that only happens in children’s stories. You were barely out for an hour.” He said without facing me but still looking out the window. Ok. I hate this guy. “Why the heck did you attack me? Who are you anyway? I haven’t seen you in this house. Not once.” “I am known as Drakus. And if you really are dum enough to not know the reason behind my attack, it is that you were doing the one thing you were forbidden from doing. Trying to run away…..Get up.” “No, my body is aching like crazy. Please call Nana or grandmother. I am sure they can fix me up.” “They are dead. Punishment for almost letting you escape.” I sat on the bed feeling devastated. Nana and grandmother? Dead? It didn’t seem to make sense. They had seemed so powerful over the last years… “Do you want to meet your father?” Drakus asked suddenly, breaking the flow of my thoughts. My father? This guy was really nuts. Nana, had told me my dad had died years ago. About two months before my mom had died. And she had died when I was less than a year old… “My dad’s dead” “I know, I killed him. And just so you know, I also killed your filthy mother. I was talking about your father’s ghost...” Was the reply. I was shocked. I didn’t tear up, I just sat there. Shocked and uncomprehending. Then the burning rage started to seep through my body. My teeth started to clench together. My eyebrows grew heavy and weighed down on my eyes. My fists tightened and then I realized that I wanted to kill that man. I grabbed the wooden sword my martial arts teacher had used to teach me. It wouldn’t kill him but as long as I caused him some pain, I knew that I would get at least a little satisfaction. I threw it with all my strength, or whatever strength my body could provide. It spun across the room towards him. I expected Drakus to catch the sword without turning around, deflect it or do something. He didn’t. Whackk! It hit him, right below the shoulder blade, on his back. He screamed his head off as the sword clattered onto the floor. His hands kept trying to subdue his pain. His face crashed against the window as he jerked forward. He screamed again. This time his voice seemed to change a little. More pain was hidden behind it. As if something was trying to tear out of his back. He sank to his knees and hugged himself. When he had screamed the first time, I knew it was time for me to be scared. I was sitting there like a stone watching him try to conquer the pain.

Finally, he turned around and I saw his face. He looked good for an evil guy. His mouth was half open showing rows of carnivore like teeth, which sparkled white. His eyes were bloodshot as if he had just experienced the worst sort of pain possible. His eyes were purple. Dense deep purple. They were plane. Blank. Just dark purple circles. His cheeks were scared as if a bear had tried to use them to sharpen its claws. His hair hung right up to his eyes. It was messy. Just like mine. He radiated anger and hatred. He raised his arm and pointed it at me. I tore off the bed sheet and leaped. Not a minute too soon. His hand glowed a dangerous purple and he shouted something, making the bed explode into tiny pieces of wood. The next few seconds, I spent dodging his deadly magical attacks. I dove over my table and saw the letter Artimis had written to me. I was about to grab it in mid air before Drakus screamed, “Jalao!” and ignited my table. I saw the exit door of my room and ran out of the it; then I continued to sprint through the hallway expecting to be blasted from the back at any moment. I turned around. Thick grey smoke was pouring out of my room. And through this smoke, I could make out the sinister outline of Drakus emerging from the door. I forgot to stop when the hallway ended. I found the wall coming at me at an unstoppable pace as I tuned to look ahead again. I thought I would get a makeover from it... How dramatic would that be? I run into a wall and smash my face against it when a super powerful freak is after me. But after I closed my eyes, I didn't feel the impact. When the pain didn’t shatter against me, I opened my eyes wondering what had happened. I had passed right through the wall. Cool. The room was empty except for a table, a chair and a wardrobe. It didn’t have any widows so it was pretty dark. It had obviously not been visited for a long time. Thick and undisturbed dust covered the whole room. Spider webs lined the wall which just increased the haunted look of the room. A little spilled into the room from behind me. I could see the hallway right trough the wall. I saw Drakus walking towards me his purple eyes moving side to side. He stood right in front of the hidden door. I thought he would find out. All he had to do was stick his hand up and he would grab me through the wall. But then, he walked away towards the left of the hallway. I sighed and let my body relax. “So you have finally found my little secret room.” A hollow and echoing voice said from behind me. Give me a break man! This was just too much. As if I hadn’t had enough for a day, I just had to see a man dressed in white robes float into the room. His skin was almost see-through. His attire was loose and looked like it was hovering. It was easy from me to tell that he was a ghost. His hair was combed neatly backwards like a king’s. He had a commanding yet kind look on his rich face. His eyes were black, completely. I hardly said anything as this ghost floated towards me… As he came closer, the air seemed to get thick and turn colder. He seemed to smile when he got right in front of me. “So... How are you planning to kill me today?” I asked the ghost. “You have your mother’s attitude” He said through another smile... “Ah! I see that caught your attention” He was right. I had never really cared much about my father. My mother was what concerned me the most. The way nana had described her, my mother was a walking angel. But all Nana could describe was her personality. She hadn’t seen her herself. Not once.

Then this ghost’s identity struck me. “Are you Mr. Armour?” I made a wide guess. The smile was all I got from him as an answer. “ I have seen the paintings...You look like him.” I continued. The ghost smiled. “I was Mr. Armour. Now Drakus owns this house and he is the head of this family. I have much to tell you but with Drakus after you, you do not have much time. So I will just do my duty and leave whatever explaining I need to do to Artimis.” He took a pause and floated over to the dusty couch. He tried to sit but passed through it and fell through to the floor below. He came back up cursing. “That ruined the movement I suppose. Anyways, here’s the deal, I am your dad and I need to d_ “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! You’re my dad? You can’t just walk in here and say ‘I am your dad.’ I can’t just accept that. If you are my dad then that must mean I belong to the Armour family… Nana nor Grandmother ever told me that I am a member of …You cannot be my dad…” “Why do you think you are in this house? Why do you think you call that woman grandmother? It is because you are a member of the Armour family. You call her that because she is my mother and you are my son. Now please stand still for a few moments. I was not able to pass on after I was killed because I had left this task undone.” “Ok. Ok. Don’t get angry. It makes sense that you are my dad but still took me a movement to accept_” “Will you please keep up? I don’t have much time you know.” He cut in. I thought I heard a bit of annoyance in his voice. “Sorry.” I apologized. He nodded and moved closer towards me. Slowly, he raised him hand and held it over my chest. My birthmark the dragon shaped burn, started to tingle. His touch didn’t feel ghostly or anything it felt human. The dragon shaped burn began to glow like a sapphire... The glow lit up the entire room. The lamps lit up too. The dust seemed to move away from my feet in a circle and formed a large circular boundary around me and my father. The glow stopped. The lamps stayed lit but nothing else seemed to change. “Well...that was overdramatic...what was the point of that?” “Give it a bit of time; it will do its thing. It needs to accept your body first.” “Fine...but what did you just do?” “Artimis will explain. Now grab that bag over there, take the compass, the map, the few clothes in that cupboard over there and there’s a sword too on that chair. It’s all I can give you right now. Run down the hallway and get out through the hall. And you know what to do after that, right? Get to Lincolnshire and speak to Artimis. If you want to take it slowly, just head through Armour village. Go on, get out of here.” I nodded and started grabbing everything he had told me to. The sword seemed like a stick compared to Drakus’s but it will have to do, I guessed. That’s all I had on me..A basic sword, some lame clothes and a half broken compass.

“Thanks dad, bye...uh...I would have hugged you if you hadn’t been, well, un-huggable. You know, because you’re a ghost and all.” “That’s ok…Be careful my son…Stay strong…You have my blessing...” He said through ghostly tears. I ran out of the room giving my dad a final smile. As I ran out of the hidden room, I turned to see my dad’s ghost turning into a thin mist. It kept getting thinner and lighter...until he finally disappeared. I knew I would never see him again. I didn’t. I was surprised about how I had been so unemotional about seeing my dad’s ghost. It suddenly struck me like a punch in the gut. But then I had only met him for the first time after my birth. I hardly knew him. And I was not about to tear up for some ghost which I just met. Even if it was the ghost of my father…Guess I am just not the type that tears up a lot. Wrong, apparently. Dead wrong. I ran in the direction my dad had told me to. I jumped down the carpeted stairs and ran into the hall. Then I stopped. I can’t say I hadn’t expected it; I had known that Drakus would be waiting for me at the exit door. I had hoped he wouldn’t be, but then it was obvious that I was fated to face him. “Hello again.” Drakus said. “So...Are you ready?” Knowing full well, I asked “Ready for what?” “Oh! Common Saphire, you may just be thirteen years old but let’s not pretend like you are slow minded.” “Fine, I am not ready but might as well get on with it..” “Good.” Drakus snarled and drew his deadly blade. I managed to throw off my bags, extract my sword and get it in position before Drakus charged at me. His sword followed him, crackling with power.

Chapter 2: Mr. Death There I was, a thirteen year old boy trying to keep myself from being sliced into ribbons. I was thin. I had
never been in a real fight before. Never held an actual sword a few minutes ago before now.. And I was taking on an extremely muscular, strong warrior. Trained most probably in ever sort of hand to hand and weapon combat. He had a way better sword than me. He was well trained in magic. And as if this was not enough, Drakus surely had years and years of experience over me. Sounds like a fair fight? Apparently it was. I was able to expect every move Drakus was going to make. Dodge them or block them. My sword moved without consulting my brain. As if I was being possessed by some legendary swordsman. I am not saying that the fight was easy. It was a tough. Really tough. But I was shocked I had taken on that blade and not died yet… It was stunning. Drakus seemed to be as shocked as I was. His eyes were starting to look more focused. It was hard to tell though because of the fact that they were completely plane. His snarl had vanished and been replaced by a frown. He tightened the grip around his sword and came at me again. He tried to cut my head off. My sword got in his way. Then, Drakus spun around whipped through the air on my left side and came towards my chest. I ducked. Pieces of shattered wood rained down over my head. There goes Nana’s prized painting. And also the wall it hung on. Before the wood even dropped, Drakus’s sword struck the ground where I was standing about a fraction of a second ago. I had dived to my left. My palm was pointed at Drakus’s face. Just a second before I said the words, I thought I saw a flicker of fear behind those purple pupils. I didn’t have time to pity Drakus, I shouted while still in mid air… “Todho” It was the same feeling of unparalleled empowerment that blasted through me and got directed through my palm. I felt the force of it leave me as I landed my dive. The blast hit Drakus in the face. His head shot back. His body followed. He flipped over and fell face down on the wrecked floor. Ok, I know violence is a bad thing and fighting, hurting people is not good either. But there is something very satisfying about casting a devastating spell that will break anything at the face of a person you hate. What’s even more satisfying is seeing his him flip over and fall face down. What happened next was not as much fun. It was better. “You piece of_! That’s it! Arghhhhhhh!” Typhoon shouted and leaped off the floor. I knew that he was about to do from the look in his eyes. He raised his hand at blinding speed and shouted “JALAO”. The heat in the room intensified horribly. And before I even had time to adapt to such a temperature, I saw

Drakus’s blast ripping towards me at deadly speed. Now if you had expected me to have been blasted through a few walls, then feel every bone in my body crack, then think again. What happened to his blast then? Maybe it had something to do with the blue glow that was bursting from my chest. It slowed time as it lit up the fiery room. I saw the air around Drakus’s arm swirl. Literally saw it. Then small sparks of fire which starting to set the swirling vortex on fire became visible. The fireball was becoming bigger and deadlier with every second. And the glow from my chest, it’s brightness was increasing rapidly too. The fireball was ready to blast me but I could barely see it through the explosive pulses of blue light. It was spreading across my torso towards my feet and tips of my fingers. Then, with the sound of a thousand tons of gunpowder exploding, the ball of fire raced at me. It was almost about to fry my chest but one last flash of sapphire light lit up the room and the fireball which was supposed to kill me was gone. Either that or Drakus had made a very bad miss with his blast. This seemed to be a less likely possibility. Drakus was still showing me his palm. Although, there was no magic in it right now. It was plane and powerless. But his face was different. He was uncertain now. Maybe even scared. I took the time while Drakus stood there to examine myself. The pain I had been ignoring until now, didn’t need to be ignored anymore. I was healed. The thirst and hunger that had been clawing at me on the inside seemed to have been silenced. The sword I was holding seemed to be craving to take another crack at Drakus’s. It was glowing. I felt different. As if like a deep hidden heart had suddenly started pumping power through my body. I realized what had happened. Whatever my dad had done in the secret room, it had taken effect. I grinned and then, attacked Drakus. I slashed at his chest. He defected the blow. Before he could develop a counter attack, I kicked him on his thigh. He lost footing and I stepped forward to get in closer for an attack. He grabbed my shirt and attempter to throw me across the room. He lifted me up and I sliced off the bit of my shirt which he was holding. This cause Drakus to lose him balance and I kicked him with both my feet before skidding back onto the floor. Drakus swung at he like a madman. My sword kept getting in his way at barely the last second. Sparks flew as our swords collided in mid attack. I locked his sword and tired to kick him across the face. Sadly, Drakus had expected it. He bent backwards and my spinning kick missed embarrassingly. Before I could land, I felt Drakus’s hand rushing through the air. The punch hit me on my back. I lost my sword as I flew across and crashed into the wall face-first. None of my bones were broken which was something to be thankful for. But my face was feeling horrible. Blood was pouring out of the left side of my mouth and cuts were making my cheek sting. Drakus came at me again. His feet crushing debris on the floor and making clouds of dust explode with every stride. He was god dam fast and agile considering how much his sword and armor weighed. And he was coming at me shouting like a crazed warrior. Not a very nice sight for anyone, but, to my own surprise though, I spotted an opening. A way through which I would not get sliced yet be able to launch a counterattack. As Drakus got closer to me, his blade started coming down again in an arc, crackling with

horrific power. I stopped his swing by grabbing his right hand with my left. I whacked his undefended face with a nose crunching punch. I then locked his head with my arm and pounded his stomach with my knee. Once. Twice. Three times. Until he finally coughed out blood. I will be honest. I was feeling proud to have made Drakus bleed. I relinquished my grip and did a perfect spinning kick to his chest. After this successful attack, I suppose my head was shadowed with pride. I ran after Drakus and tried to kick his shin. And that’s when pain shot up my leg. I had hit a strong piece of armor. His stomach and chest, I had hit them with strong parts of my body like knee or fist. But when my unguarded calf met his armor layered one, I was the loser. I stepped back curing. He retracted his foot and went on the counter attack. He stabbed at me with his deadly blade. I had not yet regained my footing after the kick so I stumbled and fell which in a way, helped me dodge Drakus’s blade. But he had me now. I was on the ground. And he was ready to strike. He swung his purple-black sword downward. I felt a hilt near my hand and grabbed it. I whipped it in front of me. Not a second too soon. Sparks exploded as the swords collided. But stinging pain washed through the arm I had blocked with. It was as if the block had shattered most of the bones in my arm. I dropped the sword due to the pain. This was his chance. Drakus slid his sword upward again. Ready to drop it back down in a deadly arc and probably cut me in half. Drakus smirked. Ready to deliver the final strike... An idea struck me. It was the only method I could think of to save my ass; It was crazy but it just might work I thought. I put my plan into action before Drakus went for the kill. I started to laugh. Seriously. I started to explode with stomach turning explosions of laughter… Drakus seemed to think I had gone crazy. To be frank I kinda agreed with him on that. I laughed like I had never laughed before. I put one hand on my stomach and the other was pointing over Drakus’s shoulder. Drakus’s smirk faded and he raised an eyebrow. He was obviously confused now. It took a few more minutes but when my laughing didn’t stop he glanced around to look at the apparently very hilarious wall. I couldn’t believe it had worked! I took my chance. I slid through Drakus’s widespread legs and with my good leg(one that did not feel broken) did and overhead kick at Drakus’s back. It was perfectly executed. I had hit him where he hurt most. Drakus didn’t scream this time. He just gasped like he had been holding his breath for a long time. Then, he just fell to his knees as if trying to stay calm, waiting for the pain to cease. Drakus started hugging himself, palms groping around on his back. I almost felt sorry for having done that to him. Then. While Drakus was still trying to regain control, a weird shape on his back started to glow with a hazy purple color. It looked something like an ancient scripture. The purple glow pulsed a couple of times and then stopped. I hardly had any time to try and decipher what the glow was showing… I didn’t waste my time thinking too much over it though. I grabbed a piece of broken glass and was about to introduce it to Drakus’s back. But apparently Drakus’s back wasn’t feeling like making a new friend. Before I brought the shard down, Drakus turned around and with a single right hook punch to my face, sent me flying. I crashed into the wall and sank to the floor in order to find a terrifying looking Drakus glaring down at me.

He was not smirking anymore. He was as angry as a lion that had been forced to have salad for lunch for weeks. “That was a very dirty trick you pulled.” He told me. He paused for a long time but kept his eyes fixed on me. As if he was regarding and judging me.. “I am feeling like sharing today for some reason.” He said finally and walked towards me. “Since you enjoy gifting me the pain through my back so often, why don’t I give you a taste of how it feels. Let’s share the pain. Or why don’t I gift it to you.” “I don’t want pain for a present.” I blurted out. And continued to say that I would, although, love a nice sword. “Oh! No. No. You should never say no to a gift. Here_” He raised his arm and directed his palm at me. This was going to hurt. That was obvious. And if it was so obvious, why was I unable to brace myself for it? I felt myself get pulled into the air and magically smashed against the wall. I crashed into the black marble wall. Once. Twice. Thrice. I heard sounds of cracking from behind me every time I smashed against it. If that was the wall cracking or my back, I couldn’t tell. As the thrashing continues, I must have lost consciousness. I don’t know when Drakus stopped trying to break me, I remember feeling all the pain leave my body. I remember my vision blurring..And the last thing I heard was, “Well here’s the best part. The major part comes now. Enjoy.” This time, his voice seemed to be extremely happy. Not your regular happy. It was an evil maniac happy. I couldn’t lift my head to face Drakus. I couldn’t hear what spell he used. I wish I could say I didn’t feel the pain when it came to me after what I had already been through, but I did feel it. I was screaming. Screaming for the pain to end. Screaming for death. My eyes felt too big for their sockets. My head felt like it had split into two separate heads and both of them were now being forced back as one. My legs and arms where numbing with pain. The ribs under my chest were cracking. It felt like the air in my lungs was full of acid. Every thump of my heart felt like a hammer had hit me on my chest. As if each one was a battle in itself. The worst part of the pain was in my back. It felt like the flesh there was being layered with barbed wires and getting torn of the bones. Every tiny part of my body was definitely on fire. Then, finally, the pain finally ceased. It felt so bitter sweet then. Feeling the pain slowly seep out of the body? It was heavenly. I opened my eyes slowly. And to my surprise, I was not in the same wrecked hall. Drakus was not there holding a murderous sword. I was alone in the middle of… As to where I was...frankly, I don’t know. It was very dark. I could make out the outlines of trees in a circle around me. I guessed that I was in a clearing of Gren Woods or something. I looked down and well, didn’t see anything. My body was gone.

I figured all I could do was think and see. I could see, barely but sight hadn’t left me. I could also hear a river in the distance so I still had a sense of sound. I couldn’t taste the dryness of exhaustion that should have filled my mouth. And I couldn’t breathe. So I couldn’t taste or smell. And since my body was gone I couldn’t do anything else. I coughed. This meant that I could still speak. And it would have been a relief if I knew where the hell I was. Well, that’s just great huh? I prefer fighting Drakus over this. And as if it wasn’t freaky enough that I was bodiless and lost in the middle of who knows where, a hooded figure carrying a deadly looking scythe had to make a scary and silent entry into the clearing. “Hello there” the creature’s snakish hollow voice said; “good to see you I am Mr. Death.” **** “Um..Hi” I responded to the greeting. “where_ “Sorry I don’t know where you are. All I know is you are dead. Or at least are about to be.” The hooded creature replied.” “ now what?” I found myself asking. “Now my friend we decide what to do with you.” Mr. Death replied. “Welcome to judgment day.” A sort of Dun! Dun! Dun! Music played. I turned around and found the source of the music to be a skeleton playing a piano. “He’s the best dead musician we could find. You won’t believe who he was when he was alive. So I won’t bother telling you. Now let’s see ...” He drew a file from under the folds of his robes and read through it. “So you didn’t really do anything wrong in your life huh? And as I see it, you have not passed through the natural procedure of death since I myself had to come collect you. Oh! What do we have here? You have one hell of a fate my friend. I cannot let you pass on yet dude, you are gonna have to go back to your body. Good bye” “Wait, that’s it? The judgment day? That’s it?” “It’s a much quicker process than it sounds. Good luck..You will be healed and all when you return to your body. I think I kinda like you dude. But if you die again I won’t be able to do anything. So be careful. And remember everything is not as it seems. Especially in your case. And magic can be applied in many different ways try to find the right one to beat your opponents. Of course, I must warn you though that too much use of magic will get you so tired you may have to visit me again. Try not to use it much until you get trained. ” “Thanks, good bye Mr. Death” “See ya” Mr. Death said and floated out of the clearing. I found myself engulfed by darkness again. I felt like I had taken a jump off a cloud . I didn’t feel wind rushing past me. Even if it was rushing past, I didn’t have a body to feel it. All I know was that I was falling for a long while.

I finally saw light ahead of me. It seemed to be a tunnel. When I was about to crash into the tunnel’s entrance, I felt my body. I realized I was not falling anymore. In fact I felt a wooden floor beneath my back. I smelt smoke. I was back in Armour villa. I had returned from the dead. Literally. There was no pain anymore. I heard Drakus talking to someone. "Yes, I think he is dead. Don’t worry I won’t let it affect the plan. Good bye. Don’t worry. Make sure that kid is safe.” Then I heard another voice, it sounded distant and guilty. “Drakus, I have something to tell you, the kid he kind of has escaped a couple of years ago_ “What?? You useless piece of _ I couldn’t lay still any more I felt my finger twitch. Drakus suddenly stopped talking. The distant voice tried to say something. “Shut up. I will speak to you later.” I felt Drakus’s gaze on my body. After a few seconds I felt his presence next to me. And then I heard a sword being drawn from its stealth. That’s when I reacted. I ripped my eyes open and kicked Drakus’s face and locked his sword arm with my legs just as my master had taught me. I pulled the rest of my body with my feet and knew that Drakus had dropped the sword. Drakus tried to throw me of his hand. Before he swung it, I released my leg lock. I spun in the air and managed to introduce my foot to Drakus’s face. Drakus’s face swung sharply. I landed on the mat right next to Drakus’s sword. Drakus spat blood out of his mouth and got ready to attack me. I pointed at Drakus and screamed “break”. Before he realized I had cast the same spell on him again, Drakus was of his feet and had crashed through the wall into the lawn. I picked up the sword and ran after him. He had regained balance and was ready to fight me; but when he found that his sword was sticking out of his torso, he seemed shocked. I leaped and kicked Drakus’s sword deeper into him. Now it was time to try Mr. Death’s advice. I managed to pin Drakus to the ground. After rearranging his face with a few punches...ok! Lots of punches. I kicked Drakus so he was facing the ground. I leaped into the air and landed my knee on his back. Drakus screamed. He grabbed me with both hands and was about to throw me when I shouted, “release” Drakus’s hands released me. I jumped away from Drakus and pointed at his back. “Kill” I whispered.

I don’t know if it worked. I didn’t care. It didn’t take a genius to figure out when your opponent was defeated. I watched Drakus twitch for a bit then begin screaming. I do not want to tell you what happened next to him. When he finally stopped struggling, Drakus’s body disappeared into the air like steam. He evaporated away. Literally. I turned towards Armour villa. I needed to go now. I meant go in the sense that I had to run away from Armour villa now. Not that I needed to ‘go’. Whatever prevented me from escaping, the power source of the shielding around the villa, was inside it. I was sure. I raised my hand. Images of nana, the maid, Mrs. Grandma Armour and everyone else who Drakus had obviously killed by now. I thought of my dad’s hidden study. I thought of his ghost. “Burn” I whispered. The black marble mansion was burning. It looked cool. Black marble and blue flames, I bet it would have made a great t-shirt picture. I stared at the villa a bit. It then started to rain. This time the rain fell into the lawn. The force field didn’t stop it. It felt good. The rain washed my body. I felt the dirt, sweat and blood flow down and off of my body. I saw a rock at the edge of Armour hill. I thought it would be a really dramatic end to my fight with Drakus if I stood on the rock in a cool hero pose. With a black villa burning behind me and thunder and lightning fighting the sky above. I managed to climb the rock. I got to the top. I was about to strike the pose when a lightning bolt hit the ground a few feet away . I got so shocked, I tripped over the rock and bounced to the bottom of Armour hill. Very dramatic indeed. -_After the fall, I was surprised to find my body still in one piece and in almost perfect condition. I wished that I had grabbed a few clothes and some food from Armour villa before I burned it. Seriously, I really should have taken a bit of time and thought straight. Sigh... I threaded along Armour hill until I found the road that lead to Armour village. After a long and boring walk, I reached the gates of the village. Well, not exactly reached it, the spine river was in my path. Today, unlike how I usually saw it, the river was slow, calm quiet. Even though there was a storm of rain and winds. I yelled at the gates to let me in. It took a few minutes but a bored solder’s voice shouted back, “State your name and purpose for coming to our village” “I am Saphire Armour. My purpose is t_ Before I could say anything more, the gate dropped at my feet. The solider ran out; bent over and kissed my feet. I was shocked and I jerked back. He still lay bent over whimpering as if I would whip him. “What’s wrong with you? Don’t ever kiss my feet. Why did you anyway?” “Master please forgive me for questioning you. Please...” He seemed very scared of me for some reason.

“Don’t worry it’s really no big deal. I am not going to do anything to you.” “Thank you master!” He rushed forward to kiss my feet again. “No. No! My shoes definitely don’t taste that good dude. Cut that out.” “Yes master.” “And don’t call me master” “Yes master.” “I just told you not to call me master.” “Sorry mas_. Sorry.” The solider led me to his shack which was a little way into the village. I was too tired to look around at the village. I just followed the solider and crashed in the bed he showed me. Sleep. Finally.

Chapter 5: Anything can happen over coffee
I woke the next morning to find a note, a bag of gold and some clean clothes next to my bed. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and stood by the window. I let the sunlight wash over my body. I saw that apparently, the solder’s house was right in the centre of the village. I could see lots of shacks and stone houses dotted here and there. At one end of the village I saw a huge stone tower. Nana had told me that criminals were locked up and tortured in that place. I had sworn that no matter what I wouldn’t even visit that place. Much less get taken in as a prisoner. I wish I had known how pointless that oath had been. Kids of my age ran around aimlessly. A few people were walking around dressed in robes of various colors.

I saw a coffee shop. Not very far from the hut. I returned to my bedside table and took the note and read it...

I had to leave early for work today. I have left some gold for you Master Saphire Armour. Please feel free to use it. Yes feel free. Um..I have also left some robes that you can use. I will return tonight. Um..Feel free to use the gold. I changed into the black robes and tied the bag of coins to my waist. Hey! The solider had said ‘feel free’. I walked down the stairs which led right to the door. I sighed. This was going to be the first time I would walk out of the into a town with a bag full of gold. I wanted to walk slowly out of the door and stretch, smell the fresh air and walk over to the coffee shop. I got to the part of stretching. After that, I was running and shouting, “Hey give me back my gold! Stop! Thief!” After chasing him through a few streets, I realized shouting at a thief to give back what he had stolen was as dum as trying to scratch your ear with your elbows. Instead I ran as fast as I can and chased him. He ran into a new street. I remembered it as the way to the coffee shop. I knew that the road ended in a dead end. I jumped from one wall to the next and got up on the roofs. I leaped from one roof to another and finally caught up with the thief. What I found was surprising. The thief had been cornered by someone else before I could catch up to him. I looked at the ones who had cornered him and figured that shouting, “no fair, I was chasing him first” was not a good idea. He had been cornered by about five people. One was holding a knife. He was your typical drunk crook. A red scarf around his neck. Shabby clothes draped over his muscular body. A cigar clenched by the dirty teeth. Eyes like a madman and a scarred face. The other four didn’t look very different. The one with the knife spoke. “So...I guess you are not handing over that bag, huh? The thief replied, “Duh! Why would I steal gold, run halfway across the village and hand it over to you? You surely are as dum as you look.” One more thing I do not understand. A guy who is in danger of getting beaten to a pulp usually insults the guy who is going to do the beating. Seriously! Is it that complicated to figure out that you don’t insult the guy who is going to rearrange your face? The man attacked and swung his knife at the thief’s neck. The thief ducked and punched one of the other goons under his stomach. The goon sank to the ground. Ugly number two was kicked under his chin then punched in the stomach. By the time he dropped to the ground, ugly number three whacked the thief with a punch that definitely would have broken his jaw. Ugly number four grabbed the thief from behind and held him up to the boss goon. The boss goon had a wicked smile on his lips. He licked his knife. And within a movement was rushing towards the thief. I knew what was going to happen to the thief now. I couldn’t watch that.

I jumped from the roof and grabbed the boss goon by his shoulders. I flipped over and threw him on to the others. The thief had managed to free himself and knock the guy who had been holding him unconscious. I smiled at him. In that movement I felt a sudden weirdness. Like that feeling of someone walking on your grave. I glanced around and saw a knife rushing towards my chest. It was the thief’s turn to save me. He stepped next to me. Leaped and knocked the goon out with a fist to the face. “Let’s get out of here” the thief said “before the rest of them join the party.” “Yeah. Sure.” I replied A few minutes later we ducked into the coffee shop. Apparently it was a coffee shop; and a bar. The thief finally pulled his hood off. He had the face of someone who has had a harsh life. His cheeks looked sunken. His eyes had shadows around them. He had a crooked nose. His mouth was curled into a broad grin. He must have been about my age. Blond hair fell over his forehead. He crashed into a cozy looking seat behind a table. He motioned at me to sit down next to him. I kinda felt a tinge of annoyance. This boy had stolen my gold. And was acting as though he was going to ‘treat’ me to coffee with it. Go figure. I sat down in front of him. And stretched my legs. He saw me eyeing him suspiciously. “I know what you are thinking. That I am treating you with your gold right?” The thief said. “Oh! No I was just thinking of how fun it would be to pound your face in and take the gold back.” I tried to sound tough; but I must have failed because the guy laughed. “Oh! Common you do not need to act tough with me. I can see right through you. Anyway, I won the gold fair and square from you. Just accept the fact.” “You call stealing fair?” I asked sarcastically. “Well. Yes” the reply sounded honest. As though it was an obvious answer. I grunted and looked around. The shop seemed to be full of happy looking people. Each one of them was drinking coffee or tea. Some kids were also drinking hot chocolate. The bar tender seemed to be busy chatting with a few customers. All in all it was a friendly and cozy shop. One odd feeling though, I felt like most of the customers there were keeping watch on me. As though I was a shady and dangerous person. “Relax. You are new they will be a little suspicious. By the way you are not from this village are you? Mind letting me in on some introduction?” The thief continued. I didn’t reply, so he shouted to the waiter to bring two hot chocolates. We waited for out drink in silence. When the waiter left our drinks in front of us, I was the first one to pick up the cup. The thief smiled and took the other one. I took the wooden cup to my lips and sipped. It tasted awesome. The best hot chocolate possible. It tasted so good I tried to gulp down more of the drink. I burned my tongue.

“Aave!_hoth!.Hoth! My thungh!” I said aloud. The thief sitting in front laughed. He laughed so hard he started to cough. He snorted the drink through his nose. I couldn’t help but smile. Once he gained control of his laughter he spoke again. “Sorry about that. By the way, my name is Shawn.” He told me “Shawn...” I said wondering about his family name. “Just Shawn. I don’t know which family I belong to. I grew up in an orphanage. I got the name from there too.” He said this with no sadness. I didn’t ask him about that. I shook his outstretched hand. “So... Will you tell me your name or should I just go talk to a wall? I bet that would be way better. I smirked and said, “My name is Saphire Armour.” I heard a few chairs get pulled and a table fall over. And at that moment, all hell broke loose. A chair smashed over our table. Spraying the hot chocolate all around. Shawn and I jumped away from the table before a torch was thrown towards it. A second later and we would have been barbecued with it. I heard guns get loaded and swords get drawn. I ducked behind another table and heard bottles smash against the other side of the table. Shawn was at the door, he motioned for me to follow him. I leaped away from the table and ran for the door. I heard gunpowder blast against the wall. I was almost at the door when a huge man with a gun got in my way. I dodged the shot which smashed the glasses on the bar table. I retreated towards the back door, fighting off swordsmen, taking them three or four at a time. When I finally reached the back door, I found a huge group of people with swords ready to slice me like a cucumber. I looked around at the people who had surrounded me. I tried to find a weak spot. Found none. So I did the natural thing. I charged a random part of the crowd. I heard gunshots, so I bent and slid on my knees. The shots obviously hit someone else because from the corner of my eye I saw blood splatter on the wooden floor. I spun on the ground and kicked a solder’s legs. He fell and before a few swords could slice at me, I had jumped away from the spot. I managed to grab a man’s head in mid air and lock his body like a shield in front of me. He dropped his sword I grabbed it. I felt a sudden heat behind me. Without turning around to look at the torch, I threw the man I had locked behind me. I turned in time to see another man whack him with a blazing torch. Sparks and ash exploded on impact. Some sparks landed on the hay covered roof. Soon it was on fire too. Great. I’ll just add that to the long list of problems I have. As burning pieces of wood dropped onto the floor, the fight turned very very brutal. I backed up to avoid a sword. I heard a gun behind me. I ducked and felt the gunpowder rush over my hair. A warm liquid splashed on to my back. The floor was stained red. I swung the blade in a circle and was happy to find that the guy behind me managed to dodge it.

A large piece of burning wood fell in front of me separating me from the crazed crowd. I took my chance I threw my sword at the nearest window. The glass smashed and I jumped out. I ran. I didn’t know which way I ran. I just ran. I dove through alleys, flew over walls and sliced across roofs. Left. Then right. Right again. Straight ahead, dead-end! Backed up quickly. Left this time. Over the wall. Under that bridge. Through that door. Up that ladder. Down that balcony. And finally, I hid in an alleyway. I waited and tried to catch my breath. I could still hear the crowd chasing me. I sank to the ground. Now that I was out of danger of having to visiting Mr. Death again, at least for a little while, I relaxed. I had taken a bath in my clothes. Well; either that or I was just sweating that bad. I had cuts and bruises all over my body. Along with sweat, hot blood was gushing out of a cut on my arm. I ripped of a long piece of cloth from my body and wrapped in around my wound after washing it with water. “He’s here!” I heard someone shout at the alleyway entrance. I tried to get up but my left leg gave away. I crashed and waited for death. I lost consciousness as someone pulled me out of the alleyway. I crept back into consciousness a few hours later. I felt great to have missed the bus to Mr. Death’s place. I woke up on a cold stone floor. No windows just a big empty room. The walls were made of stone too. An arch was cut in the wall; it was blocked with iron bars. A few soldiers stood guard at the door. Great, I was a prisoner now. Where did I put that problem’s list again? I waited until the solider shoved a plate of who knows what into my cell. I ate it and found it surprisingly edible. I asked for water and gulped it down once it arrived. Finding nothing to do, I slept. I woke up again when it was nighttime. My leg was still throbbing and the cut in my arm was as bad as ever. I thought if I didn’t heal them now, I would die of blood loss. I managed to open the blood stained cloth and then I put my hand on the large cut. I winced a little at the pain when I touched it. I said the magic word- “heal...ugh...heal right now I mean.” It worked. After wiping the blood off my arm, I healed my leg. In about half an hour, my body was fully healed but I felt exhausted so I slept again. Man, I am becoming lazy. I woke up again in about half an hour, this time, because I heard someone call my name. I got up and walked over to the iron-bar sealed exit to the cell. Let me correct that, the ex- iron-bar sealed exit. I found Shawn messing around with the bodies of the unconscious soldiers. When he saw me he smiled and threw me a sword. “Hey, nice to see you again. If you don’t find your new ‘room’ extremely comfortable, I don’t mind helping you escape.” Shawn told me. I smiled back and said, “How come you came back for me? Are you sure this isn’t too much of a risk for someone like you?”

“Well, you’re right. I had just sighed and walked away. Later on, I thought about something, so I guessed that helping you wasn’t a bad idea.” He replied. “That explains just too much, I am not being able to digest that much information!” I said sarcastically. “I would like a straight answer man.” “Fine, I need to speak to the guardian tower dean Artimis. I figured that being an Armour, you would know him. I need to learn some stuff in that tower man.” He explained as if making his explanation as brief as possible. “Um...well...not know him as a very good friend. Though you can say I know him.” “Well that’s all I needed to know bro, let’s get out of here.” He said as he ran down the dark stone corridor. I smirked and followed. Getting out of this place was not gonna be easy. Later I would learn that I was wrong. Getting out of there was going to be extremely horribly difficult.

Chapter 6: I fight one hundred soldiers
I ran through the stone corridors, lit by oil lamps. The orange light washed over sealed doors and those doors seemed extremely forbidding. We jumped down stairs making more noise than necessary. When I asked Shawn about this he said that soldiers care more about creepy and shady noises that people are trying to make while sneaking. Apparently if someone was running down a hallway making lots of noise, they weren’t given a second glace, even if someone actually spared them a first. I didn't really know if he was right, but since we saw no soldiers, I didn't bother about it. After descending three floors, we stopped dead. Soldiers dressed in full battle Armour were talking to each other. About me. “I wonder why master, will not tell us why we have to imprison that kid” one of the soldiers said. “He killed about twenty five people in that cafe that reason enough?” The other replied. “Ok. Ok. Mr. Sarcastic, lets say that’s one reason. But remember that other foot soldier that had come this morning to report him and said he had left him at his home, my word! Master was angry, what’s so special

about that kid anyway?” “He is horribly rich, what more reason could you want? We have to do is just threaten to kill him and all the riches of his filthy family are ours. His idiot of a dad will pay for him” The soldiers laughed heartily. I couldn’t bear it anymore. I stepped into the room and said “My dad’s dead you drunk excuse for a solider” and I killed them both with their own swords when they tried to attack me. One of them was shocked that I had escaped the other roared like a barbarian and rushed at me with his sword. He tried to stab me; I grabbed his arm and brought it down on my knee. It was broken. The other solider had realized that he ought to attack and did. I shoved the broken hand holding the sword towards the other solider. He collapsed on the spot after I ran him through with the sword. The solider whose hand I was holding was struggling; I bent his arm at an odd angle and flipped him over. The sword which he was holding in his broken hand went through his back when he got to the ground. Shawn stepped into the room and gave me a disgusted look. “What?” I asked him as if innocent. “You are turning into a murderer, control yourself or you may just turn into Drakus the second” he said. I was ashamed of myself. I managed a feeble sorry as we ran further. By now, we were sure that a legion of soldiers was after us. Shawn seemed to be extremely sure of where he was going. I made a mental note to ask him about that if we survived, as at the moment it did not seem important. Shawn stopped in front of a wall; we were at a dead end. Ok, I take it back, Shawn had no idea of where we were going. Then I had to change my thought again because Shawn pushed a stone and pulled the wall like a door to reveal a hidden room. It was too dark in there for me to see anything of the door. Shawn seemed to be moving about a lot, I heard metal clunking and swords being drawn. Shawn told me to stay still and then put something onto me that felt extremely heavy. He put something of the same metal on my arms and legs. He handed something into my arm that felt like a sword’s hilt. Then he told me that we were going to have to fight our way out and be fast about it. He lit something on fire. As if on cue, the wall we were hiding behind exploded to reveal a corridor packed with at least a hundred soldiers, I saw pieces of gunpowder barrels. Lying here and there with what remained of the secret door. I glanced at Shawn who was clad in a chain mail Armour. He was holding a burning arrow at the ready. At his hip hung a deadly looking sword. His expression was plane, ready for a fight, not scared. I heard some of the soldiers shout “charge!” And did the same. In case you were wondering how it would feel to have a hundred armor clad soldiers running at you with deadly looking swords felt, let me tell you that it felt very very scary. Shawn‘s arrows whizzed past my ear and exploded on impact, a few soldiers fell prey to them until Shawn was out of ammunition. As I reached the legion, I bent and swung my sword in an arc while still running, many soldiers fell with legs missing and many more backed off. I screamed and stabbed downward at a soldier and bathed myself in his blood. I turned in order to find a solder’s head leave his body, thanks to Shawn. I kicked another solider

back with my foot and stabbed him through with my blade. I couldn’t see the face of the people I was killing, I didn’t want to. I was sure that if I did see them, I would stop fighting. I whacked a solider between his eyes with the hilt of my sword and then jumped to avoid a spear from behind. I flipped in mid air and brought the sword down on his head. I grabbed a spear which had been thrust in my direction and used it to get down and kill my opponent. I threw the spear in a random direction and knew that I was down one more opponent. My sword was a devastating weapon, it sliced through armor and bone with ease. I spotted a couple of archers at the far end of the room, they had their arrows aimed directly at the ceiling above us. The arrows were the same exploding type that Shawn had used. I grabbed a spear and threw it at one of the archers. He died but the second one was able to loosen his grip. Don’t ask me how I did this, cause I don’t know; I saw the arrow fly towards the ceiling as if in slow motion I put one foot on the wall jumped used a solder’s head to get higher and then grabbed the arrow. I threw the arrow out the window and heard it explode. I heard screaming and knew that another building in Armour village was on fire. My sword had turned from a clean silver to a deep red color. I kept at swinging the blade, hacking and slashing through hoards of soldiers who saw me as a goodbye sight before taking a journey to Mr. Death. No matter who stood before me, they died. It didn’t matter what weapon they had. It didn’t matter how strong their armor was, heck! It didn’t even matter how strong and trained they were. One by one they all fell prey to an undertrained thirteen year old’s sword. Which is why I was scared. I was turning into a ruthless killer. As the fight intensified, the soldiers started to back down. Their numbers were reduced by a lot. Some ten soldiers seemed to remain in fighting condition. Lots more lay crippled missing arms or legs. Many more lay dead. The corridor was now destroyed. Fragments of stone lay on the floor. Shawn’s arrows had left many flames here and there. Shawn! I remembered him with a shock. I looked around but I couldn’t find him. I understood what must have happened. The soldiers had made a mistake and taken Shawn as a prisoner instead of me. I was horribly angry. I roared and attacked the poor soldiers who stood in front of me. Slash. The first solider sunk to the floor. Stab. And solider number two was through. By the time the remaining eight realized they were going to die and tried to defend themselves, four more fell prey to my blade. I was hit by the hilt of one of the remaining solder’s sword. I staggered. One of the soldiers punched me on the face. Blood started to gush out of my mouth. I spat out the blood. I reclined and punched him back. Apparently I had more muscle than a trained solider. The solider winced at the pain and jerked back. I kicked him between his legs and stabbed him in the gut. Two of the remaining three soldiers came at me with their spears drawn. One tried to stab me with his spear. I used a simple technique. I sidestepped, grabbed the spear and shoved it into another soldier. I knew that the one holding the spear would not relinquish his grip. So I yanked it towards the window. The solider went out with it. The last solider ran for it. I chased him. He ran towards the end of the corridor and turned left. He ran towards the stairs. I was not going to let him get away. No matter what. I ignored the dents in my Armour, the pain in my leg

and the cuts and bruises all over my body. Since he was able to run faster than me, I resolved to using magic. I knew I was taking a risk. Even then, I raised my arm and screamed “explode!”. The walls on both sides of the solider exploded. I had missed and missed badly cause in the confusion, the solider had gotten far ahead of me. I knew that if I continued to use magic, I would tire out and eventually be unable to do any chasing. And the magic had drained me of a lot of strength. I ignored the nagging feeling that I was walking, nay, running into a trap. I followed the solider towards a spiraling stairway which obviously went up to the top of a tower. As I stormed up the stairs I realized that I had no reason to chase him. This was my chance to get out and get away. They mistook Shawn for me. Might as well leave him to his problem and get out of here. I hated myself for even thinking that. Great sense of gratitude. ‘Hey! Thanks for helping me break out of prison. Now that they have caught you instead of me, I will be on my way. Good luck. See ya!’ I ran even faster as if it would make up for the horrible thoughts which occurred to me. I caught up to the solider before he could pull the door and get out into the balcony. I put a hand on his mouth and sliced his neck. I knew that now I had to be stealthy. I was too tired to face anyone in a face to face combat. I retraced my steps ignoring Shawn screaming that 'he wasn’t Saphire Armour' from behind the door. I went back to the corridor where the fight had happened. I found a cross bow near a soldier who I must have killed. I jogged back to the door. I pushed the door out slightly and caught a glimpse of five or six soldiers standing guard around a chained up and gagged Shawn. He saw me and his eyes widened. He shook his head from side to side slightly. I knew he was telling me to stay away. Trying to warn me that I was walking into a trap. I ignored him. As quick as I could, I went out the door and rolled over. Then, I ducked behind a few barrels. I shot an arrow at a solider to the far right. He got hit right under his head. He made a weird noise and fell to the ground. The soldiers lost focus. And by the time they realized that they were under attack, they died too. I threw the cross bow down the side of the building. Only now did I realize exactly where I was. I had seen this tower from the window of the solder’s house. I had sworn I would never even visit this place. The irony of it all hit me like a breeze. There was a breeze in the air. I was about 300 feet above Armour village. I was at the edge of the village. The spine was rippling across at the base of the tower. The sun was starting to rise. The sky was a blend of orange and red. I broke Shawn’s chains with my sword and he pulled out his gag. “Well...congratz! You are still alive.” He told me. I smirked and said “you too.” “You better run now. And I better follow. The soldiers were talking about waiting for their master. I don’t fancy meeting him again. C’mon” By the time we turned and ran towards the door, someone said, “too late.” I knew that the master person had arrived, there was no doubt he would have arrived. It just had to happen. How could I even hope that this ordeal would end without him?

I turned. And saw that the source of the voice was a man draped in deep blue robes. He had an armor clad over the robes. It seemed to be a plane foot solder’s breastplate and back guard. And of course the soulderblades, except it was purple in color. The armor and robes seemed oddly paired, they did not look good together at all. His face was hidden by a hood. I could see that his eyes were a deep and glassy green. He had a necklace that reached down to under his stomach. He drew a sword from behind his back. “I am afraid that your run ends here. You die here Saphire Armour.” “I killed Drakus if you are his minion then you'll be a piece of cake.” “When you, as you say, ‘killed’ Drakus he was still healing from a wound. Believe me Drakus was at his weakest when he fought you.” I ignored Shawn’s repeated whispering of run! Run!; cause I knew that it wouldn’t work. We had to fight him. I charged. I swung my blade like a lasso at his neck. He deflected it easily. I spun and brought my blade close to his stomach. He grabbed my arm and threw me back. I flipped and leaped back at him and kept swinging my blade like a madman. He dodged each slash. He ducked under my sword as I swung it at his neck. I brought the sword down in an arc towards his solider he avoided it by sidestepping. I stepped in his direction. My sword followed him too. He leaped high. I grabbed a barrel and threw it at him. He kicked it back at me. I met it with my sword spraying red-colored wine all around. In the confusion, my opponent went on the attack. He slashed downward as he landed. I got a bruise from shoulder to hip. My Armour had prevented this sword from slicing me in half. I winced and jerked backwards. I managed to get my sword in his way before he cut me into two. His sword moved so fast and with so much power that I could not lock his blow. All I could manage was to keep him at bay while he moved with so much deadly ease. I tripped over and fell on to my back. My sword clattered away. I remembered the same situation when I had fought Drakus and tried to use the same trick again. I laughed as hard as anyone could laugh when there was nothing to laugh about. Mr. Powerful dude called my trick. He kicked me on my ribs and sent me flying across the balcony. I grabbed onto the stones that stood there and prevented myself from falling to my doom. I climbed back up to find a surprising situation. Apparently while I was fighting the hooded guy, Shawn had not been taking a stroll and enjoying the view. He had aimed a cannon and gotten it loaded. Our opponent now had an extremely explosive cannon ball ready to rearrange his face and also the rest of his body. “See you later.” Shawn said. Boom! The sound of the cannon was extremely loud. As it neared the hooded man, I saw that the wind was pushing his hood back, I managed to spot a glassy green colored pupil-less eye. Before I could see the rest of his face, the cannonball exploded. And the guy was surrounded by smoke. I felt Shawn grab my arm. And pull. I ran behind him to the edge of the balcony. Then stopped and turned

back. Through the smoke and dusk I saw that the explosion had in fact just been a distraction. The smoke was an escape plan. Good thinking, if a cannon ball couldn’t stop the dude, I had doubts that I would manage to. Shawn shouted at me to follow him. He jumped off the balcony. I looked down and saw him slash into the spine river. I turned back and saw that the smoke had started to clear. I jumped too. I felt the wind whack my face and body. Goosebumps sprung up all over my arms. I had no idea how to land so I just managed to hug myself and whisper, protect. What must have been a millisecond later I crashed into the river. Apparently, I had executed a perfect cannonball dive. I felt happy about that later when Shawn told me. Although, the part under my back and above my thighs didn’t fell too good about it. When I splashed into the river all I could think about was getting away, far away from the horrible Armour village.

Chapter 7: Through Gren Woods
I didn’t know how to swim. How could I? I had never even stepped out of the Armour villa’s yard. I splashed around, and managed to get to shore. I found that Shawn had been able to do the same and get on the bank too. I was too tired to get up and get into the safety of the woods. I just lay there waiting for sleep or death whichever was going to take me out of consciousness. I woke up around noon. I was not wearing an armor either. I was dressed in the same black robes which I had been wearing the armor over. I hadn’t opened my eyes yet. I found that I was not on the bank anymore. I could still hear the river churning, but that seemed quite distant. I sat up and opened my eyes. I was definitely in a forest. I had trees all around me. Dead leaves formed the forest floor. I looked up to find a thick canopy. The midday sunrays poking through the leaves reminded me of my room back at Armour villa. The tree trunks were covered in moss. I tried to stand but couldn’t. I realized my leg was broken. Now that I thought about it, my whole body was aching, especially the bruise stretching from my shoulder to hip. It was throbbing pain through my torso every few seconds. My armor or whatever was left of it lay in a messy heap a few feet away. I knew I would never use it again. The sword was still there, the river had

washed the blood off of it. I rested my back against a tree trunk and waited for Shawn. As I waited I thought about the last two days of my life. I had died once and returned to life because Mr. Death found my fate important and unfulfilled. I had killed Drakus. I got attacked for saying my name and killed around twenty people before getting caught. And in the prison, just to save my own life and the life of a friend I had killed more soldiers than I dared to count. I wondered what was happening to me. I was fighting to save my life. A life I don’t even know why I am keeping safe. I realized that the reason I had killed Drakus was because I wanted revenge from him for killing my dad, Nana, my grand mom and most importantly my mom; but I couldn’t justify the massacre in the village. I resolved that I had to stay alive and find out why I was attacked in the first place. I realized that I wanted to stay alive because I wanted to know why I was hated. I wanted to know why I had been imprisoned in Armour villa for thirteen years. I whacked the tree trunk in frustration and retracted my hand after I had hurt it. I cursed myself for trying to vent out my anger by punching an innocent but strong tree trunk. A wood monster came walking to the place I was sitting. When it put the wood down an wiped it’s forehead with the back of its hand, I realized that the monster in fact was Shawn. “Well, good morning Mr. Sleepy” he said. “We need to get on the road by tonight. You better heal by then bro.” “Why tonight?” I asked him. “C’mon don’t tell me you seriously thought that those were the last of the soldiers? They will surely start looking for us soon.” He said as he messed around with the wood to set up a camp fire. “Ok,’re not horribly hurt like me then?” I asked him. “Apparently; when you collapsed on that bank after that perfect cannon ball dive into the spine, I was able to drag you here. Get that armor off your body and well cover your wounds.” He said “Where are we? Gren woods?” I asked. “Yup.” He replied trying to set fire to the campfire. He failed. He cursed and then looked at me and smirked. He threw me an apple after rummaging in his backpack. Then he got back to trying to get the firewood burning. I didn’t ask him where he got the apple. I looked at him sweating while spinning the wood on the set up, I felt like I should help him. “Get back” I told him. Without asking questions he backed off. I raised my arm, and said “burn.” When the campfire actually started to burn, I expected to see Shawn’s smirk widen. Instead I saw it fade. I felt like saying, “yeah glad you feel so good that I helped you light up the campfire.” Instead I asked “What’s wrong?” Shawn looked at me gravely and said, “Nothing. I have had some bad experience with magic.” I did not want him to elaborate. I figured that if magic can be used to do anything, then, torture was not an exception. I remembered the mental note I had made while running around in the prison tower. I asked

Shawn how come he knew the corridors there so well? And how in the world did he know about the secret weapon room? He sighed and said, “I was a prisoner there for a very long time. I escaped a couple of years ago. I grew up there. When I escaped, I had to hide in that secret room for a few days while they scanned the village. When I got out, I started to stay in an orphanage. An ex-soldier trained us in fighting there. That’s how I know about the tower.” He stopped. I knew that the conversation about his past stopped there. He did not ask me about mine. After an uncomfortable pause, he started the conversation again, “ really killed Drakus?” I smirked and replied “Yeah. I did.” “Wow! You must be like a master fighter. Who trained you?” “To be frank I am not that well trained, a rookie martial artist taught me. I was locked up in Armour villa since I was born. I escaped a couple of days ago after Artimis sent me a bit of advice with his cat.” “So you are saying you are untrained and yet you can fight a hundred or so soldiers and live? You Armours really are natural born fighters!” “Thanks, you seem to know a lot more about my family than I do.” I told him. “Not really man, all I know is that you belong to one of the most hated families in this country. Don’t ask me why. I also have been told that your family has been dishing out generations of fighters. Drakus was one of the best. Against his dad’s wishes, he started to serve king Zaerius the 1 st as a knight. Years later, when he returned from a battle, he turned extremely evil for some reason. He caused chaos all over Questa. The wars stopped abruptly a few years ago. That’s all I know.” “Like I said, you knew a lot more than I did...” I said. “Anyways I am going to go find some food. You try to get some sleep man. One last question, you don’t mind eating meat right?” I was wondering what he was talking about. Why would anyone have any problem with eating meat? Were there actually people who didn’t eat it? He seemed to read my confused expression. He smiled and said, “There are people who do not eat meat. Since you didn’t seem to know that, I take it that you don’t have any problems with eating it. Get some rest I’ll be back in a bit.” He grabbed a sword, and rushed back into the thick woods. I remembered how Shawn’s clothes were stained with sweat and dirt. I recalled a cut on his cheek. He had lost his armor too. His robes were ripped. Although his smile was still the same. Without realizing it, I had started to think of Shawn like a brother. I cared for him. Hey! There are many things you can go through and not become friends in the process. Escaping from a prison, while fighting packs of soldiers, jumping 300 feet into a river and hiding out in a forest apparently is not one of those things. As I smiled and started to doze off. Barely minutes later, I heard a howl. It was a wolf's howl. The howl was a creepy one. It washed over me

and caused me to shiver. It was one of those sounds which hurt you just by hearing it. It cut through the silent forest like a hot knife through butter. Somehow I knew that the wolf that had howled had just found prey. I knew I had to help this prey. No matter what. I had grabbed my sword and was running in the direction of the sound of the wolves. By now, I was hearing many more wolves. Apparently, the prey had not yet been caught. It was a chase. I heard paws crashing over twigs. I ran towards the sound from where the howl had come. I heard another set of feet running across the dry dead leaves on the forest floor. I stopped and waited, hoping to be able to see the source of the sound without being seen. I saw that the sound was Shawn running, in a direction opposite to the one I was. I caught up to him. “Hey what you up to?” “I am trying to catch up to the dark wolves. Did you hear that howl?” He said without stopping. “Yeah, I was trying to find those wolves too.” I replied while trying to keep up with him. “No, they are ‘dark’ wolves. Deadlier, stealthier, stronger and faster than regular wolves. That howl meant there was going to be a fight for position of leader of the pack.” He explained “Well then, why exactly are you chasing them?” I asked “I don’t know, I just had a feeling that I need to get there.” He said “Me too, I didn’t realize what it was, but I just felt that I needed to get there.” Shawn nodded and ran even faster. I felt like telling him to slow down, but I ran faster too. I really don’t know why I enjoyed pain so much. My leg was surely broken but I ran like a cat with its tail on fire. We ran into a clearing. Then ran right back into the forest. We hid behind a tree and peeped from there. In the clearing, about ten wolves stood in a circle like a border. In the centre were two more wolves. These wolves were the same size as any other wolves would have been. Their fur was the darkest shade of black. Their legs seemed to be quite muscular. Their bodies were slim as if built for speed. Other than that they looked like regular wolves. The two wolves which were fighting in the middle were completely mismatched. One of the wolves looked like the leader. He had the most muscular wolf legs ever. He was barring his sharp and bloody teeth. I could see his claws from fifty feet away. They were god dam sharp! The other wolf, or I guess I should say pup, was about half his size. It must have been a few years younger than the leader. The poor wolf seemed to be hurt at every part of its body. It’s teeth were not as sharp as it’s opponent’s. Oddly though, the pup was winning. The bigger dark wolf was apparently too slow compared to the smaller darkwolf. The pup leapt over an attack and in mid air whacked the bigger wolf with its claws. The leader wolf turned around and attempted a neck bite. The pup managed to roll over and bite down on the leader’s nose. It released its grip and jumped onto the leader’s back. It attempted a neck bite again but the leader rolled and

body slammed the pup. The leader got up, grabbed the pup with its razor sharp teeth, and threw it across the clearing. The pup leaped back up while I was praying it would give up. It was shaking with pain; but the pain was not going to make it give up. The dark wolf pup tackled the leader wolf and sent it flying into a tree trunk. It tacked the leader wolf and slammed it again and again against the tree. It tackled it for the fifth time, after which, the tree trunk shattered. The pup ran back to the centre and turned to face the leader again. The leader was hurt. It was growling. It stood up and barked a couple of times at the pup. Then, it rushed at the pup at blinding speed. It ran so fast, I actually saw the wind split in front of the darkwolf. I implied it twice, I will imply it again, it was extremely fast. As the leader darkwolf, rushed at it, the pup held its ground, growling right until the leader was a feet away. It barked at the last minute and I saw the air around the pup turn into a black mist, it protected the pup against the tackle. The leader wolf crashed against the mist and fell back. This time it was hurled at least twenty feet into the air and thrown just as far. The mist disappeared after it did its job. The leader stood back up, hurt but not nearly hurt enough to admit defeat. It attacked the pup like a barbarian. It was fast and it was obviously strong. But apparently the attack lacked skill. The pup dodged each swing of the paw easily. It backed up to the edge of the clearing. It seemed surprised when it found that it had been backed up against a tree. It lost focus and payed for it with a paw to the face. The leader darkwolf seemed to smirk and whacked the pup with its paw. The pup flew across the clearing. It crashed at the other end. The leader wolf ran towards it and leaped. It was going to body slam it again. The pup did something I didn’t think was possible. As the leader wolf came down and was about to slam it, the pup got up, grabbed the leader with its mouth and back-flipped. It slammed the leader into a rock, hard. The rocked shattered as the darkwolves rolled in the dust and rubble. The leader wolf let out a pained bark. The pup got back up and ran back to the centre of the clearing. This time the leader wolf looked like it was through. It barely managed to get up. It didn’t charge at the pup. It howled. I smiled. It was obvious to me that the pup had beaten the leader wolf. I turned to look at Shawn. I expected him to be smiling too. He wasn't smiling. In fact he looked worried. Of course, how could I have been so stupid? The fact that a pup had fought a leader darkwolf double its size and not died 'was' a cause of worry. I asked Shawn what he was so worried about. "I have heard that howl before." he said. "I think it means attack. I think that, that big wolf is telling the other darkwolves to attack the small one." 'Oh!" was all I could manage, after which, all the ten darkwolves in the clearing let out the same dangerous howl, causing the hair on my body to stand on its edge. I turned, too scared to look. I saw as if in slow motion, the pack of wolves attack the little pup. I stood there

in shock. I watched as the little pup fought for its life against ten dark wolves, about double its size. I looked at Shawn and saw him sigh. He saw me looking and warned me not to try and help. The little wolf was starting to bleed in many places. It was not barking anymore. It was still trying to fight but it knew that there was no point in fighting. It tried to use it's magic but was unable to do anything much. It saw me looking. The look in its eyes was so sad. As if it was begging me to rescue it's life. It made me feel like I was a loser. I hated myself for standing there so long and not having rushed in earlier. I had to help. I didn't know why I had to help, I just had to. I tightened the grip around my sword, grabbed Shawn’s sword in my other hand. And charged into the clearing with both swords going wild. I heard Shawn shout something, but I couldn't understand him. I jumped right into the centre of the fight. I stepped hard over a couple of darkwolves and jumped into the centre. I used magic to blast all the ten wolves attacking the pup in different directions and landed in front of it. I stood protecting the dog-sized darkwolf from the other darkwolves. Both my swords were being fully used to provide an all-round protection. A darkwolf leaped at me from behind. I used my legs to kick it back. A couple more wolves pounced at me and I sliced my swords in opposite directions and killed both the darkwolves with deep cuts across their chests. I landed next to the pup and got tackled by one of the wolves. I slammed into a tree. Before another wolf could slam me against the tree, I ducked. The other wolf that had tried to tackle me whacked the tree. I stabbed it from under. I stood up and pushed the dead body of the wolf off of myself. I stood to find seven or so darkwolves barring their teeth at me. I tried to find a weak spot. I had lost the momentum I had had when I started the fight. I was confused now. I was scared of the creatures in front of me. I heard Shawn shout something about eyes, but my mind felt misty. I couldn't understand him. I shook off the confusion and attacked the wolves. When I started to fight, I started to regain control on my thoughts. My swords where slashing and swinging under my command now. I was starting to gain an edge over the wolves. It felt as if the mist around my thoughts was starting to clear. Fear took a back seat in my mind as I started to gain control of it. I felt pain, yes, lots of pain. I realized that in the period when I had lost control on my mind, the dark wolves had taken full advantage and attacked me ruthlessly. I remembered the reason I was actually involved in this fight, I was trying to save someone...the darkwolf pup! That's right, I was trying to save the darkwolf pup. I still hadn't gained total control over my mind, I managed to sink my sword into about three or four more wolves but then I fell. I saw Shawn rush into the clearing with a bow. He started to fire arrows at the wolves surrounding me. A couple of wolves fell prey to his arrows. I saw that there were only two more darkwolves we had to fight. The big leader wolf which had already been injured and another darkwolf which was still at full health. I got up and got ready to fight. I kept my swords at the ready and walked over to the darkwolf pup. I had expected the wolves to back away and run. Instead, they howled again. This time, the howl did not affect me one bit. In fact I couldn't even hear it. I just guessed they were howling

because of their stance. This time, nothing happened. The wolves ran back out of the clearing into the woods. I sat on the spot. I had no idea what was going to happen now. All I knew was the darkwolf pup was about to die if I didn't heal it now. I crawled over to the pup as fast as I can. It saw me and seemed to relax, as if it understood that I was a friend. I placed a palm over its black fur. I whispered, "Heal." It didn't work. I tried again and again but it was as though I had lost my magic. I realized it was nothing like that after I set a twig on fire using magic. I turned back to the pup puzzled. The wolf pup just looked at me again. This time, the eyes seemed to be scared, scared for me. I could see pity in them. I could also see that the wolf was feeling sorry. It was feeling sorry for involving me in this encounter. "It’s ok little buddy," I tried to assure the pup. Truth is I needed the assurance. "We are gonna get you out of this. You are gonna be ok." "You need to accept it into your family if you want to heal it." Shawn said from behind me. "What?" I asked Shawn completely confused. "Look, here's how the pet-rule works, if you needed to own a dog or a cat, or any other non-magical creatures, then you just like find them somewhere and bring them home. And if you are dim-witted enough you pay a pet-seller who just picks them off the roads, be my guest. But, when owning a magical creature, there is a different rule. When you wish to own a magical creature you state your name and the name of your family then take an oath to care for the creature. Dark wolves are magical creatures. So you will have to take the oath." Shawn explained. I was even more confused now. I told Shawn to wait until I found a piece of paper and a pencil and then repeat. He rolled his eyes and said, “For example, if I was in your family, I would say this... I Shawn Armour, accept this dark wolf into my family. I swear to care for it until I am alive. Or until the creature is alive...but it only works if everyone who is still in your family is alive accepts the pet. "Well, I think I am the only one from my family who's alive. My granddad died a natural death, as far as I know. Grandma was killed by Drakus when I tried to escape. Drakus told me he himself had killed my dad and yeah, I am the only Armour remaining." I told Shawn. "You killed Drakus right? Because he was an Armour too." Shawn said. I was surprised when he said Drakus was an Armour. I of course knew that Drakus was an Armour because my dad's ghost had told me that he was the head of our family. What surprised me was how Shawn could know. I guessed that someone in his orphanage had told him. "Yes, I have killed Drakus." "Well then it should work. Just say what I said." he told me. I stood up and looked down upon the dog-size black wolf that was shaking with pain. I said,..."I Shawn

Armour, accept this dark wolf into my family. I swear to care for it until I am alive. Or until the creature is alive." Nothing happened. I hate it when that happens. Shawn hit me on the back of my head. "I didn't mean exactly what I said. Say your name dude not mine. Gosh!" 'Oh! Sorry! I wasn't paying attention when you said 'example'." I retorted. "I Saphire Armour, accept this dark wolf into my family. I swear to care for it until I am alive. Or until the creature is alive." I repeated again. This time...nothing happened again. Did I mention I hate it when that happens? I was sure that I had said it correctly. I had no doubts. So I assumed that this was a kind of magic that takes time. Like the one my dad's ghost had done. It had taken about ten minutes to take effect. I waited as time crawled by. I stood there in agonizing silence. Until... "What are you waiting for? Christmas? Heal the poor thing" Shawn said. "Uh...isn't there some kind of glowing or something that happens?" I asked Shawn surprised. "Jesus! You were waiting for it to glow?!?!? Just heal the poor thing!" Shawn said, clearly hysterical. "Ok! Ok!" I said "here we go..." I kneeled down and touched the dark wolf. I felt that it's pulse. It now matched mine. As for the bond I had just committed myself to have linked our life force together. I was sure that the wolf was only alive until I was. I smiled and knew that even if I couldn't see the wolf smile, it was still happy. I said, "Heal." This time it worked. And so that I knew it worked, the dark wolf started to glow. The white light washed over me, Shawn, the clearing and in that light, I knew that the wolves that had run away were back. And this time, they had a human with them. The glow faded. I felt exhausted after the magic. I could have collapsed and slept a few dreamless hours. The darkwolf though was up and running. It ran around the clearing at blinding fast speed. Once. Twice. Thrice. Four times. It ran over to the rock and let out a happy howl. This howl, I heard and for once, it made me feel good. When I say feel good, I don't mean feel good in the sense of happiness. I mean that the cuts, bites and scratches on my body, which had been sponsored by the dark wolf gang and the hundred soldiers I had fought, were healing. I felt my leg's broken bones slide back together and seal themselves together. I looked at Shawn and saw that he had a broad grin on his face. I smiled too, though I knew that we were in deep trouble. Once the pup stopped howling, it ran back, pounced on me and licked my face mercilessly. A person in a suit would have said, thank you gentle men and shook my hand, I liked the way the pup thanked me way better. Even though I was saying get-off! Stop! Get-off! "I think you should name him." Shawn suggested. "Scythe." I replied. "I’ll name you Scythe." I told the dark wolf after it had stopped liking me.

The darkwolf seemed to like that name and barked a couple of times. I realized then, that even though dark wolves were supposed to be though, mysterious and magical, deep down they were still dogs. Friendly. Fun. And soon, I would realize protective about their master. "The two wolves," I told Shawn, "they are coming back. I saw them. There seems to be a human with them this time." Shawn's eyes widened. "We have to run" he said. "Common." I didn't ask questions. Shawn was a brave person, I knew it. If he wanted to run away from a fight, there was no doubt that he was right. I nodded to him. I got up, grabbed the two swords and patted Scythe on its back. "We have to run boy." I told him. "Can you take us to a good hiding place quickly?" I asked. I guess I shouldn't have said the word quickly. Scythe sprinted super-fast towards one end of the woods. We chased him, tripping, sliding falling and rolling. That's right 'rolling' I fell so bad I rolled down a slope and actually managed to get ahead of Scythe. After running by similar looking trees and falling a bit more than running, we arrived...well I wasn't sure where we arrived. We had stopped because Scythe had stopped. I huffed and puffed. Shawn sat down and his head fell back (not literally.). He was breathing hard too. Scythe walked over to a tree and watered it. "You made us... (huff) halfway...across the that you could pee!?!?!" I breathed at Scythe. Scythe seemed to be offended. He pushed me from behind and led me to the base of a tree. "No Scythe I don't need to pee. We need a place to hide." "I don't think Scythe wants you to pee Saphire. There's a camouflaged tree house up there." Shawn told me while looking up. I looked up too. There covered in tree leaves, fruits and vines was a hidden tree house. We climbed the tree. There was a trap door which we pushed and through which entered the tree house. Scythe had already gotten to the top before Shawn and I could. I don't know how he did that. There wasn't anything much in the tree house. It was just a small squarish room covered with wood on all sides. It was very well hidden. There was a place in a corner where you could cook. And a hole above that for the smoke to escape. It was a perfect hideout to rest a few days. I bent down and patted Scythe on his back. "Good work Scythe." I told him. I sat back and leaned against the wall. Scythe rested his head against my shoulder. He didn't drool like how I had read that dogs do. In put an arm around him. Shawn paced around the tree house. When I asked him what he was so worried about, he said, "Dark wolves are able to co-operate with only necromancer without having to be accepted in their family. If what I think is right, the man you saw with those two wolves was a necromancer." he said, I could sense the fear in his voice. It scared me too. I didn't know what a necromancer was, but the way Shawn said it, I figured that it was not a cuddly little Rubid.

"What’s a necromancer?" I asked Shawn, confused about why I sounded so scared. "Do you know anything about the Drydenblood Empire?" Shawn asked me, finally sitting down. "Nope, I heard that word in one of Nana's stories but I never bothered to ask what it was." I told him. "Drydenblood are an empire of undead. It is an empire of all those people who die, but do not want to pass on to the land of dead. They manage to keep the life-force with them, but loose all their memory. Confused, they end up serving the Drydenblood . Here's the funny part, the empire of undead was ruled by a completely living person. His name was Gustavor Sae Drydenblood. He's dead now, one of the mindless soldiers in the army. What he did was twist magic in such a way that he could control these zombies. Then his daughter Adelide the 1st took over him. Currently too, Adelide the 2nd rules this empire. Gustavor Sae recruited many mages who were hungry for power and gold. He trained them in the dark art of controlling the undead. They became the Shadow Liches. Soon, He managed to use his magic in such a way that the undead mages and warriors still retain their skills. The living mages he recruited, he turned them into these horrible undead wizards. They then became the necromancers. They are evil and powerful undead mages who can control the undead. Another tendency of the undead is that they hate the living. There have always been wars raging between both the sides. Paladins are some of the best warriors who can fight these hoards of undead. If these undead come out of their underground empire, paladins track them down fast. What worries me is that we are extremely far away from the nearest paladin camp." I didn't want to ask him any questions. Not because I was worried and scared. Basically because I had not been paying a lot of attention. Hey! I understood the basic and important facts, so no harm done. I sighed and stood up. Scythe the darkwolf got up too. I stretched and heard pops all over my body. It felt awesome. Scythe tugged at my shirt with its mouth. I looked down and asked him whether he wanted me to follow him. He barked his yes and walked over to the trap door. Shawn raised his eyebrows. I told him that I will be back in a bit. He nodded and smiled. If the necromancers were after us, I was not too sure of whether I would see Shawn again. I jumped down from the tree house and followed Scythe through the misty and dark woods. They didn't look very different from how they looked in the morning. The canopy prevented the light from entering the forest then. Now that it was night, there was no light. Scythe was almost invisible in the darkness. A sort of forbidding chill had settled over the forest. The animals that should have been highly active by now were oddly quiet. I followed Scythe for a little while. The path I had to follow was oddly clean. There weren't many roots I had to trip over. I felt great for having walked a few meters through this forest without having to kiss the leaf strewn wet muddy ground. I was happy about my night walk until I tripped over Scythe, flipped and landed on my base. It hurt. After getting up I realized that Scythe had stopped. I asked him what he had brought me here for. He motioned at a wide tree trunk. I raised my arm and thought of a new spell. "Light" I whispered. It actually worked. My arm light up in a warm white light. A water drop fell from above and dropped onto my glowing hand. Apparently my arm was not only glowing white, it was white hot too. The water drop steamed away within a second. More drops

started to fall. It had started to drizzle. I pointed my glowing palm in the direction Scythe was motioning towards. All I could see was the vine covered tree trunk. Green moss stretched across the brown trunk. Scythe looked ghostly because of the white light emitting from my hand. I turned and raised my eyebrow at him. He seemed annoyed and motioned at the trunk again and moved its paw across it. I understood, finally, that Scythe was asking me to run my palm across the tree trunk. By now it had started to rain. The drops kept steaming away after dripping on my glowing palm. It was quite annoying when rain kept steaming away with a hissing sound from your palm. I raised my right hand and ran it across the trunk, I felt the wooden bumps and holes but nothing you would want to come out in the dark into a forest to find. I knew Scythe wouldn't have brought me here for no reason. I kept at it but didn't feel anything different. I told Scythe we had to get back to the tree house but he shook his head violently. I got angry with the stupid wolf and smacked the tree trunk in frustration. I shouldn't have said stupid wolf. When I smacked the tree trunk I creaked a dent. I had enough sense to know that you cannot dent wood by punching it. I ran my hand over the tree again but couldn't find anything. I started to lose my temper again. I was about to say forget it and drag Scythe back. Before I could put my brilliant plan into action, Scythe got a better idea. He ran back a few meters and charged at the tree. Bang! A huge dent appeared in the tree again. I understood what to do now. I raised my arm and punched. Dent. It was working. I kept pouncing the trunk and kept inflicting dents onto it, until I punched real wood. I squeaked out the pain and shook my hand rapidly. I realized I should just heal it with magic and I did. Now I knew what I was looking for. I put my palm a little further from the last dent. I focused fully on the feeling of the wood. I moved my palm slowly across the wood. I felt every bump and every hole on the wet wood. And then I felt a gap. A tiny gap that I had been overlooking. That gap separated the wood from the iron. Ok. Follow Scythe and understand him, check. Find something on the trunk, check. Realize there is a iron door on the trunk, check. Find the separation gap, check. Open the iron I pondered over the simplest of answers for a long time. It always happens doesn’t it? The answer is like right next to you but you run a mile to realize you left it behind. All I had to do was raise my palm and use magic and command the door to open. I did so. The door moved outwards and hit Scythe in the face. He came back from behind the door and growled his annoyance at me, I apologized to him awkwardly, while trying not to laugh. By now, the rain had stopped leaving me, Scythe and forest floor annoyingly wet. Scythe shoot off the drops of water. I didn't think I could do the same. Even if I could, I wouldn't. Scythe reminded me of the door while I was imagining how I would look while shaking like an idiot, trying to get dry.

I raised my glowing (and to my total delight, non-steaming and non-hissing) palm and threw light, literally, into the hidden room. I was amazed to find food supplies, clean clothes, armors, spears, swords and bows and arrows. It felt like I had found a warriors treasure. My delight was justified, I knew these weapons would be useful. I had never guessed as to how soon that help would be needed.

Chapter 8: Water dragon
As day dawned over Gren woods, sound waves of snoring and grunting emanated from our tree house. Shawn was the first up and he got to empty half our food supplies. I'm kidding, there was a week's worth of fruit stored in there. When I came back with all the supplies last night, Shawn had been delighted. He had hugged Scythe around the neck and given me a 'friendly' punch on the arm. My skin had turned blue in that area. I returned the friendliness next morning by giving him a 'pat' on the back as a greeting of good morning. It was just a pat. I have no idea about how he tripped over the spears and fell to the forest floor through the tree house window. Seriously, I have absolutely no idea how it happened. The next morning we trekked across the forest and splashed around in the spine river. I was surprised to find that I could swim pretty well. And don't believe Shawn, I didn't use magic to teach myself how to swim. I waded through the gushing waters like a fish. In a bit of time I was better at it than Shawn. I felt pleased with myself for having such a good 'natural' ability at swimming that I could beat someone who had two years more experience than me. We returned dripping wet to find a few monkeys enjoying a feast that we were planning to enjoy. We laughed off our anger and let the monkeys enjoy our fruit. So we set out to find a bit of meat for ourselves with Scythe being the natural and amazing hunter. I must say, I was not bad either. I must also say again, that do not believe Shawn. I didn't use magic to make my arrow hit the deer. We cooked the meat, which I had obtained; by magic in that corner of the tree house from where smoke

could escape. We decided we would eat only fruits after that meal, basically because we felt terrible for having to kill a deer every time. The other important reason was that neither of us were very good cooks. In the evening, we went to a clearing and sparred with our various weapons, I can honestly say that I didn't have to use magic to be good at sword fighting or using a spear, or even hand to hand. Shawn and I were almost evenly matched. Every fight ended with a few brusies but neither of us could actually defeat the other. Shawn taught me a few exercises that his sensei had taught him. I could do almost all of them with ease. After sweating so much that we looked like we had taken a swim again, we still weren't satisfied. We called Scythe who had been out chasing deer and basically running around, and asked him to run. He ran like a mad wolf and we ran behind Scythe like our behinds were on fire. Soon, very soon, we lost Scythe's trail and had to whistle for him to come back. By then it was night and we collected a bit of fruit, using the light from my glowing palm. Yup, I had mastered the torch-hand spell. Sitting cross-legged and talking about random stories and joking around, we enjoyed a well earned fruity meal. The monkeys joined us, we didn't mind. We slept like babies that had crawled half a mile. After a long time, I managed to sleep happily. I was sure I was smiling in my sleep. We fell into this routine for the next few days. Swimming, collecting fruit, eating with monkeys, sparring, practicing with arrows (which I was getting better at, without having to use magic.) And chasing Scythe until we lost him. Later, collecting fruit, eating and chatting and then sleeping. I was getting better at everything we were doing, sword fighting, swimming, chasing Scythe at high speeds and yes even eating and sleeping. I was happy enough to be able to follow this routine for a bit, I wish I had had a prior warning to know how short this period of happiness was to last. And how quickly we were going to have to leave the shelter of the tree house. One day, after sparring like crazy, we were chasing Scythe. I had gotten way better at keeping pace with him. Just that morning I had noticed how from a skinny thirteen year old, I had turned into a warrior, with a brilliant warrior's body too. My body was muscular now. My biceps and triceps rippled across my arms. My calf and thighs had gotten much more muscular now. My chest was like an armor itself, no I will not test it against a sword. Abs were carved out across my abdomen. I had gotten way better with my speed too. Shawn hadn't lagged he was as good a fighter as I was. Anyway, we were chasing Scythe until we saw that he had suddenly stopped. We were wondering if something was wrong with him when we heard voices. We ducked behind a tree and peeped through its branches. I saw the same hooded man that I had seen with the darkwolves the other day. He was as tall as an average adult. His face was covered in darkness by a black hood. Black robes were draped across his body. The robes were scrappy and torn. On his shoulders were creepy shoulder blades. A skeletal hand showed through the sleeve. He was speaking to a misty black and red sphere which was floating in front of him. The necromancer's voice was hollow and it echoed. He said, "Should I kill them?"

Another voice replied, this one sounded more human, I recognized it as a woman's “How old are they?” the voice sounded bored, as if this was a regular and boring conversation. I realized that the voice was coming from the mist. "About thirteen may be fourteen." "Good fighters? Will they be able to defend themselves?" I don't know why but it felt as though this question was a different addition to the regular conversation. "I suppose so, I have seen them sparring, they are excellent with the sword. One can do magic." "You actually praised someone about good ability with a sword. That’s a surprise, no need to explain yourself. Anyways, the reason you want to kill them is..." I noticed how she asked him the reason last, as if that wasn't important. "The darkwolves told me they interrupted a fight for leadership of the pack and rescued the darkwolf that had lost. In the process they killed quite a few of those creatures. They told me to bring them justice in the form of their blood." "Those stupid darkwolves and their stupid fights, I will never understand their laws. " She paused for long. The necromancer stayed quite too. I won't lie and say that I wasn't scared, I was. But hiding there and listening to the silence, it was starting to get boring. Finally voice emanated from the mist again, "Fine, kill them. Make sure they die, I wouldn't mind using them in the army." "Yes Miss Adelide. I will kill them tonight." the necromancer ended the chat. I turned to Shawn who looked like someone had told him he was going to be hanged in five minutes. I was pretty sure I looked pretty much the same. I whispered to him that we have to get back to the tree house. Now. He nodded. We were running back towards the tree house. I had asked Scythe to get there first and get all the weapons down. The sky was already turning dark. I was sure that we had run very far away from the tree house this time. It was going to take us a long time to get back. After stopping suddenly, Shawn made a weird clicking sort of noise and held his hand out. I was afraid he had gotten so scared that he had lost his mind. Until I saw a familiar pigeon come and perch on his arm. He picked up a thick looking leaf and carved a note, pleading for help and told the bird to take it to the nearest village or town. Apparently the bird understood him and also understood the tense situation. It took off in a hurry and flew away wildly, it's claws clinging to the leaf. We were still trying to get back to the tree house when the sky started to darken. Tonight the moon was full. A perfect setting for a dead mage who could control the undead, to slay a couple of teenagers. We were still a little while away from the tree house when it turned dark. We ran as soundlessly as we could. Every sound in the forest creeped me out. Every slight movement looked like a zombie moving. I ran with all the speed I could. Luckily we managed to reach the tree house before dying. Scythe was waiting for us. He was on his guard. He looked more war-wolf like than I had ever seen him. His

growl showed his sharp canines. His claws were just as sharp. He had grown since we found him. He was the same size now as those other darkwolves. This meant, he was huge! He had brought down all the weapons like I had asked him to. Although Shawn got a better idea than grabbing the weapons and trying to run from the necromancer in the dark. Well at least it gave us a better edge, because even if we didn't want to, whatever we did, we would have to face him. He said we should get back to the tree house. Take a sword and a spear each. Get all the arrows possible and strap them on. Get ready with the bows and try to take out the enemy from far. Scythe definitely wanted to stay on the forest floor and fight, but I was not about to risk that. He was going to stay in the tree house. We climbed up to the tree house after picking the best swords, amours, spears, bows and all the arrows we could carry. We had around two or three hundred arrows stashed in the tree house. I wasn't satisfied with that so I sprinted with all the speed I could back and forth from the hidden weapon closet until we had at least a thousand or so arrows. There was only one window in the tree house, so I cut a few more windows. I stuffed a few fruits into myself and Shawn did the same. Then, we waited for the enemy. The forest had grown eerily quiet. As if the forest knew there was a slaughter about to take place within its borders. It was getting darker and darker now. If it was any other day, we would have been having dinner and laughing heartily. I was starting to feel drowsy now. My eyes kept fluttering shut. I felt a bead of sweat drop down my face. What felt like an eternity later, we heard footsteps. They were loud footsteps. They echoed through the silent forest. I had light torches in a circle around our tree house so we had enough light to see the enemy. **** The necromancer stepped into view. He was alone. That freaked me out, I don't know why but seeing him walking alone into view like that at this time of the night just scared me. He had no shadow. I turned and looked at a sweaty and scared Shawn. All the same, I could tell he was ready for the fight. I saw Scythe pacing the tree house, not tensed but confident. He looked like a cracker which was lit but had been warned not to burst. He started looking out the window I had cut for him once the sound of the footsteps started. Shawn attacked. He loosened his arrow and it flew towards the necromancer. It hit him in the chest. The necromancer reached for the arrow stuck in his chest and pulled it back out. There was no blood on the arrow. The part that had been inside the necromancer had turned black. He dropped the arrow and it shattered when it hit the ground. He drew a large and ugly looking staff from out of the air. The staff looked like a spinal cord of a large animal. I could have sworn it was. I could almost make out bits of flesh hanging off it. He touched the ground with its base and drew a sort of alchemy circle with it. I couldn't see the details on the circle very well, because of the darkness. He pulled the staff off the ground and brought it back down.

This time, with lots of force. It landed right in middle of his circle. His robe started to ripple. As if a harsh wind was blowing. I felt the wind too. It washed over me. I always liked a nice breeze. This wasn't a nice breeze. It sort of chocked me. I felt like not breathing the air which now smelt so much like death. The circle began to glow. That’s when I knew that we were positioned to fight a hopeless battle. The ground cracked about half a mile behind the necromancer; and the undead pulled themselves to the surface. They wore tattered and torn clothes. Their skin had torn off on various parts of their body. For some, various parts of the body themselves had torn off. Their faces looked human. Even from that distance I could make out that their eyes had no pupils. Blood was dripping from some of the undead. Others had run out of blood after bleeding for eternity, they just had blood stains. Hundreds, no thousands of these undead crawled up to the forest floor. They did not look weak or fragile. They were surely as strong as any living solider. Their only weakness seemed to be the inability to think. Though I was sure they would understand what to do if the necromancer pointed at us and said kill. I was scared. I wanted to go home. Then I realized I didn't have a home. I looked at Shawn who was praying. He had closed his eyes and his lips were moving in what was surely a frantic prayer. I didn't believe in god. I never had. So I didn't pray. Scythe wasn't looking so confident either. I waited for Shawn to open his eyes, which gave the undead enough time to get their army ready. When Shawn opened his eyes, I grinned at him. He looked too scared to return the grin. Just for a moment, he grinned back. I nodded at him and then patted Scythe gently on his back. He licked my palm to show his readiness to fight on my side. It was the best assurance I could hope for before this battle. I turned back to the army of undead. I breathed deeply and loosened my arrows. I managed to turn one of the undead to dust with it. One down and an estimate four hundred ninety nine to go. The undead army charged. Armors and axes had materialized on the zombie army. They roared and slowly started to cover the half a mile of distance between us. I grabbed as many arrows as I could and released them all at once. Shawn did the same. Many more undead turned to black dust as our arrows rained down on them. We kept wiping out the charge with arrows. The zombies kept coming though. Black dust covered the forest floor now. Armors and swords were fallen in equal number. The zombie army had no archers in their midst. They weren't able to return fire. I was pleased that we had at least one small advantage. My fingers were growing numb from the speed at which I was launching the arrows. I was trying to keep an eye on the number of arrows we had remaining. I grabbed an arrow and set it on fire. I shot it at a tree and made a sort of burning separation between us and the undead army, which they kept charging through. But the flames were burning them to dust. We were running out of arrows. If the fight resulted to a close-ranged sword fight, I was not sure of our chances. I resolved to leave the remaining arrows for Shawn and climbed to the roof of our tree house. Scythe followed me. He took a grip on the roof and went into a position as though he were howling. I saw blue-black sparks starting to fill his mouth. He took a deep breath and his chest puffed up fully. Then, he roared at the undead army. From his mouth, he shot a ball of blue-black energy at the enemy.

Booooom! The explosion shook the forest. I patted Scythe on the back only to find that his attack had not made a lot of difference. I told Scythe to get back into the tree house and attack from there he obeyed. I grabbed a spear from the hole in the roof and used magic to make it able to fly. I wasn't sure if this would work. I put the spear down. I took a few more spears and using magic joined them to make a kind of board. I cast a spell to give the spear board the ability to fly. I told Shawn to throw me my swords. He did and returned to firing his arrows. I fastened my feet onto the magically altered spears. And jumped. It actually worked. I could fly using the spears. I took position and rushed for the undead army as air and arrows whizzed past me. I went into a dive. I saw Scythe's blue-black balls of energy blowing the undead army apart. Shawn's arrows that were now burning were igniting many of the zombies and roasting them into a black zombie powder. The one part of the war which I was enjoying was flying the spear. I was in the middle of a weird forest, I was involved in fighting five-hundred member undead army and I was actually having fun fighting it. At the climax of my dive, I pulled up and shot at the confused undead soldiers, a moment before I tore through the undead horde, I yanked my swords out and held them perpendicular to my body in both my arms. I concentrated on the blade of my flying spear. I looked up and saw the dead who were going to turn to dust. Before I could even get scared by looking at the faces of the dead, I burst into their midst. My flying board slash spear turned many flanks of the army into dust. I kept swinging my blades wildly knowing that every swing meant at least one more undead less. I bent my legs to get the spear to turn around and rush back towards the army. I spun wildly, ridding the world of more of these walking dead. I stopped, facing a random direction. I sighed and shot into that direction, spraying undead dust all around. One of the undead soldiers leaped at me, missed and his clothes got stuck on the blade of my ride. I climbed up to a higher altitude. I shot through the canopy and hovered a few hundred feet above the forest. The undead turned and looked at me. "This is your stop, get off." I told the undead and spun my ride wildly so that he was thrown off. He collided with a tree trunk and exploded to dust against it. I got another idea for a spell. I had been able to control light by using my palm. I wondered if I would be able to control fire and take it to a new level. I shoved my swords back into their sheaths. I concentrated on my palms and said "burn!" Another trial that worked perfectly. My fists were burning in blue flames but I didn't feel pain or heat. I raised my arm and said "burn" again. The flames shot a few feet from my palm like a flame thrower. Awesome. I dived back into the forest. This time I did not have to go right into the army. I curved around the edge of the army leaving a trail of fire behind me. I spun in mid-air and flew over it. This time, I burned legions of the army. In a few seconds, I had eliminated a lot of undead. The spell was draining my soul. Literally. So I ended it. I hovered facing the necromancer while standing on my spear. I heard Shawn shout his cheers from behind. The necromancer snapped his fingers and half the threat I had just eliminated sprung back up. He did his

circle thing again and restored the army to its former self. "Almost all the men who have been dying for the last eight hundred years have joined the Drydenblood . Apparently, we have a large army.' he told me. My temper fuse blew and I told him to go (BEEP!) himself. I spun back towards the uglies and attacked them again. I didn't dare do the fire thing again, I was too drained. I just kept flying hacking and slashing. It was still working to an extent. I dived again until, an axe hit my spear and shattered it. I lost control and fell a few feet to the forest floor. I rolled into the midst of the undead battalion. I leaped to my feet before a few spears stabbed the place where I was lying. I used magic to burn away zombies who had surrounded me. All I could focus on doing was keeping a circular boundary of zombies and staying safe there. Killing any zombie that stepped over the line. I stabbed at an undead knight who stepped at me and tried to get me with his axe. As he turned to dust, all the zombies around me charged at me. Before I got squashed by the onslaught, I rammed by blades in their direction and ran through. I had never noticed it but it had started to rain again. It just increased the intensity of the battle that was raging. I could barely see now. I knew that Shawn had run out of arrows and had joined the fight on foot. I had seen Scythe run through the army leaving trails of undead dust behind him. And though we were fighting for all our lives worth, we were outnumbered three to about five hundred undead. I didn't need any calculations to know that our chances of living were going down and down by the second. I ran a couple of undead through with my swords. I kicked a zombie's head off which apparently was not enough to kill him. Scythe grabbed the rest of the body and threw it into another zombie and turned both into dust. Scythe charged back into the battle. I got tossed into the air and then felt a heavy club to the back. I spun through the air but regained balance before falling to the ground, I landed slashing a couple of undead down. I kept fighting but the waves of undead just kept coming. As I fought I realized the power that the necromancer possessed. It was pure evil power, but that didn't stop me from appreciating it. I mean control of every single warrior who had died until now? That is sheer power of numbers. There are fewer people alive in this world compared to how many are dead. My swords were deadly even to the dead but I had to face it that it was hopeless. I looked around and saw that both Shawn and Scythe were very close to me. And I decided that they were not going to die. I was not going to let them get killed because of me. I killed another ten undead. Ok kill was not a very appropriate word, but hey I can't say turned them to dust in every two seconds. Anyway I cleared my path for a couple of seconds. I shouted to Shawn and Scythe to run. I had gotten a crazy idea and had hoped that both of them had heard me. If they were alive. I ran back to the tree house and was happy to find a perfectly alive Shawn and a perfectly alive Scythe running away from the battle right alongside me. I turned around and used magic to make a trench in the forest. I told Shawn and Scythe to run to safety. I shouted to them not to worry, that I had a plan. All they had to do was run and get to safety. They nodded and did what I had asked.

I ran a little while and turned to find the undead army rushing towards me. I knew that if I had sense, I would turn away and run. Apparently I didn't have sense. It was the only way that I could have gotten away, but I stood my ground. I wanted to make sure that Shawn and Scythe were out safely. I was going to give them enough time to get away, even if that time cost me my life. I know you are surprised by how heroic it sounded, I was too. Nevertheless, it was true. I sheathed both my swords. The rain splattered against me. Soon, I was sure that swords of the undead would splatter against me too. I raised my both my arms like a hawk raises its wings before flying. I concentrated on that part of my body where magic was resting. The wind that he been rushing against my face until now, turned direction, the rain drops were coming from behind now. I had found an alternative for the lack of arrows. Raindrops. I was going to control the rain and turn it into a weapon. I knew that this might just be the last bit of magic I would do. It was going to empty the magic and probably even the life-force in me. I felt my feet leave the ground. I closed my eyes and felt my body rise. Ten feet, twenty feet, I rose over the burning patch of forest. The thick tree cover that had been present here had burned down to a clearing. I heard the metal clad undead army rushing towards me. I felt it's deadly power. I smelled it's stench. I knew that it was now or never. I yanked my eyes open and roared. The rain stopped smashing against me. Instead, rain drops started spinning like a hurricane until they assumed the shape of a dragon. The shape of my birth mark. I was in full control of the deadly, not to mention, 'huge' dragon, whose body was water, literally. The dragon stood infront of me. Since it's body was made of water, there were no distinct marks I could make out. It had four muscular legs, a muscular tail, a muscular neck and a head worthy of a legendary dragon. I could make out horns on its head. Three horns actually. It wasn't a fat dragon. It looked fit, like it had been working out. It roared at the undead. If I didn't know that undead couldn't think, I could have sworn that fear was their only thought at the moment. I commanded the dragon to attack the undead. As the dragon stretched its enormous watery wings, the mark on my torso began to glow. The sapphire glow came both from my torso and the massive similar shaped dragon that I was controlling. The dragon burst into a billion water drops and rushed towards the undead army like a hurricane. The army stood no chance as the deadly rain shot through their bodies. If one rain drop turned an undead solider into a pile of dust, a hundred more passed through that dust before it fell to the ground. The dust kept falling until I managed to keep the spell going. Sadly I knew that was not going to be very long. I was losing the feeling of magic. I could literally feel it like someone was pulling a shirt off of me. I was also losing energy. I was at least a hundred feet in the air and when the magic left me for good, I was going to fall to my doom. I did my best to keep the spell going until I wiped out the entire army. I couldn't. I managed to turn at least half the undead soldiers to dust. That was pretty good, at least four hundred zombies were gone. That was all I could manage though. After that, I lost the magic. The game was over. I had used every bit of magic in me. I felt the power that was keeping me in the air slip away, I fell. I crashed through the branches, leaves and a lot of vines. I broke myself against the forest floor. I opened my eyes and found my sight blurring. I waited a bit and blinked a lot. I finally saw that I had managed to throw the undead army into chaos. The

necromancer was trying to gain control but he was having a hard time. After a lot of shouting and screaming. I knew that the army was in attacking form again. I looked up through my still functioning eyes and saw my death. Literally above the horde of approaching undead, I saw Mr. Death. He was not wearing the hood this time. I saw the ghostly face of Mr. Death. I am not going to describe that face. It was a feeling I cannot explain and I do not think that sharing that feeling is a good idea. Through my pain I smiled at Mr. Death. He smiled back. I stood up and faced the undead army. I drew my swords and charged at my end while roaring. I turned the first few undead into dust. Then I lost balance, my arm gave away. I dropped my sword and felt another sword go through my stomach. I spat blood out of my mouth and killed a few more undead with my fists. Another sword went through me. This time, it was from the back. I looked down at the blade sprouting from my chest and another sword's hilt lodged in my stomach. I was through. I was going to die I had no doubts. I just hoped that Scythe and Shawn were able to get away. I closed my eyes and dropped to my knees. The undead were huddled around me. I was crying now. I don't know why I was crying, but I was. All I wanted now was to just go to my family, my grand mom, Nana, my father, my mother..I just wanted to go to them. I had protected my friend and fought the dreaded undead to my last breath. I was hoping Mr. Death would consider that enough payment to let me pass on to where ever my family was. 'Payment'. I smiled at my own joke. The feeling of pain had now left me. I looked at Mr. Death who smiled and mouthed, "We’ll see" and evaporated. A flash of brilliant golden light blinded me. I died.

Chapter 9: Tybolt Van Cryst
This was the second time I died and I had a feeling that Mr. Death would not be giving me a third chance to die. I was assured later that I would not be getting a third chance from Mr. Death. I felt the feeling of jumping from the sky again. I kept falling through pitch black darkness. This time I could feel my whole body. I could smell fresh pines blended with the smell of death in the distance. I know I keep saying smell of death, but I never explain how it smells. I am sorry to say that there is no word in English

that can let me describe that stench to you. Anyway. I could feel the wind rushing through my hair and against my body. This time, I had not left my body behind, it had managed to get into the train with me. I opened my eye. Either I was blind or either I was surrounded by pitch black darkness. I looked down and saw myself in a ghostly shirt and pant. They were the same ones I was wearing my armor over when I died. I sighed, because when I was living, those clothes had caused me quite a bit of annoyance. The stupid things had followed me even in death. My skin was almost transparent but still the same color. I was cursing the clothes when someone said, "Don't worry they won't bother you now that you are dead." I had a slight hope. Tiny one that I could still live; but hearing Mr. Death's hollow voice tell me I am dead, it wiped any hope out. "So this time I am dead for good, huh?" I asked Mr. Death turning to look at him. He was dressed in an elegant white suit. It was a plane suit but this outfit freaked me out more that the tattered hood and cloak. Like I said before, I will not describe his face. "Yes" he replied with a shrug. I noticed how he was standing calmly; and I felt like an idiot for having been spinning out of control. I steadied myself and came to a standing position. It wasn't hard considering that I was falling through nothingness. I sighed and turned to face Mr. Death. He smiled at me and said, "So...what do you choose?" "What do you mean what do I choose? That's your job." "True. And not true also. You see you are at the gates to death, but you can still return to the world of the living." I was happy and annoyed at the same time. "Look, if you are just going to send me back to my living body every time that I die, then why even let me die?" "Who said anything about a living body?" he asked surprised. Surprised, I asked him, "Well, then what did you mean return to the land of the living?" "He meant become one of the undead." I turned around sharply to face the voice. I saw a girl, about my age mostly, with blood red hair and dressed in a dull maroon armor. The armor seemed like any regular one except it had a couple of bull-horns sticking out of the shoulder blades. A red cape fluttered behind her. A deadly looking sword made mostly of silver was hanging at her waist. It was an extremely broad sword. It had red carving running across it's blade. I couldn’t read the inscriptions but the sword looked like it had tasted the blood of thousands. It dangled from a plane black belt. The full body armor covered her athletic figure. She was quite pretty. Her eyes were black. She had red slanted eyebrows. Her nose was straight and her blood red lips were curled in a cruel smile. Her armor clanked as she raised her hand, "Nice to meet you, I am Adelide." "But, you, aren't you like very very old?" I asked her nervously. "Sorry." She smacked her forehead and held her hand back out. "I am Adelide the third. I am thirteen, I hope you don't consider that very very old."

I shook her hand. "Look," I told her, "If you are here to convince me to join your undead army, forget it. You are out of luck there. Firstly because I do not like your intentions. Secondly, I was killed by one of your necromancer's legion of undead. I am not about to join you." "I understand." she replied. "Ok then. So...any other reason you are here?" "Just to warn you, I'll let you know that your friends are going to be joining you soon. They aren't out of danger yet." "You mean your necromancer is still after Shawn and Scythe!?!?!" I shouted at her. "Yes. If you want to help them, I can make you a necromancer. It will be an easy process." I turned to death. "Can you please send me back to my body? I need to help my friend." "I am sorry Saphire, I have already broken the rule once for you. I doubt I can do it again. The only method you have is what Adelide's." "Argh!" I shouted exasperated. I thought of Scythe and Shawn now running helplessly from the necromancer. I had told them I had a plan. I had had a plan. It hadn't worked to its full extent. Now they were running hoping for help from me, help that wasn't going to arrive. I closed my eyes and literally saw Shawn and Scythe getting over run by a horde of undead. I snapped my eyes open. I was feeling like such a loser. How could I have died while leaving my friend and pet like that?!?! "You can still help them you know." Adelide continued. “There isn't much time though. Decide quickly unless you want to let those two die with you." "Fine." I whispered. Mr. Death seemed to sigh. As though it was a sigh of pity. "Anything wrong Mr. Death?" Adelide asked him. I didn't really pay a lot of attention, but I thought I might have heard a warning tone in her voice. "No Miss Adelide. None" I heard Mr. Death reply. "Well. Didn't you say there's no time left?" I asked her. "Oh! Yes yes, we must proceed. Please kneel down at my feet." she said I did feeling extremely angry and humiliated. She withdrew her sword and placed it on my shoulder. And said…. "I Adelide the third, master of the undead, preserver of the soul, accept you. I accept you into our family of undead. I command that your soul return to your body. I command it not to leave for eternity. When it returns, it returns to body of a necromancer. So rise soul of necromancer..." "What happened?" I asked her through gritted teeth.

"What is your name?" she asked me. "Saph_ Before I could finish, I felt a pulse in my body. It banged through me. As if someone had attached mikes to my heart and amplified the sound. Each thump of my heart started to echo. And with each thump, my soul started to fade a little more. The heart beat hurt me. I felt like screaming but couldn't. "He is not joining you Adelide." a new voice echoed around, well echoed around where ever we were. This voice sounded more alive than both Mr. Death's and Adelide’s. It sounded like a man's voice. I turned around and saw that a new figure had joined my death party. He wore a silver armor with golden trims. It seemed pure and good. The armor covered all of his body. He didn't wear a belt. Instead he had an intricate and elegant looking golden scarf tied around his abdomen. A golden cape fluttered behind him. A golden war axe hung at his hip. It had intricate carvings that were a deeper shade of golden. He seemed to have a well built body and looked to be in his twenties. His brown hair was a mess. And on his squarish face, angry looking brown eyes stared at Adelide. His skin was a pale. His mouth was curled down in an angry look. All in all, he was a knight in a shining armor. Literally. "You have no business here paladin." Adelide said to him. Let me correct myself, paladin in shining armor! "Usually I wouldn't Adelide, but tonight I do. I cannot let you turn Saphire Armour into one of your filthy minions." "Filthy minions! You coward, call them necromancers they deserve more respect than that." "I would rather respect a donkey." the paladin said. "You would since your powers can't even match that animal's." "Um...sorry to interrupt but about my return to the living..." "What’s your name kid?" Adelide asked again. "Saphire Armour, the paladin just said that_" "Your an Armour!" Adelide said. I could tell she was extremely happy about that. "He’s an Armour who hasn't died yet. You have no control over him." the paladin said. "If he wasn't dead he wouldn't be here." As they argued, I had been fading more and more. The thumping was starting to get fast. "I cannot let him die. Artimis needs to see him. The boy is going to put an end to your kingdom and you cannot stop him." "The boy is not going back to the living world! Not now. Not ever. I will not even let him join my army. He is going to rot in Mr. Death’s kingdom for eternity." "Excuse me, only people who have committed sins in their lives 'rot' in my kingdom. I don't think I would do that to Saphire’s soul." Mr. Death told Adelide. She ignored him.

"He doesn’t have to. He has already gone back to the living." the paladin said coolly. "While I stalled you with this argument, a healer had been working on Saphire. Bad luck Adelide." I knew Tybolt was right. The reason I had been so quiet was because of my thumping-fading problem. I had almost faded to a totally transparent body. I was feeling pain. Excruciating pain. I screamed. I couldn't take the pain so I closed my eyes and... Bang! I felt myself crash and then I felt my body again. This time there was pain. Lots and lots of it. I felt the rhythmic thumping of my heart. I breathed a whole full-filling breath of fresh air. I was alive again. I pulled my eyes open slowly I saw the same paladin who I had seen a couple of minutes ago. He had his palm on my forehead. He opened his eyes slowly and gave me a friendly grin. I smiled. The paladin pulled me into a sitting position. My rids and lungs hurt like crazy and so did my stomach. I saw Shawn’s face light up as he saw me. He smiled and said "Welcome back." he was dressed in blue robes. He looked like he had taken a four hour bath. I smiled back at him. A woman was sitting next to the cozy blue bed where I was lying. She was dressed in a plane white robe. She seemed old, not only because of her gray hair but because of her wrinkles. Her eyes were white in color. Her hands were hidden beneath her robes. She saw me looking and smiled. I tried to smile back, it was awkward but I managed a lop-sided smile. "Well, now that you are fighting fit again, let the introductions happen.." the paladin said. "I doubt the fighting fit part." I told him. "Yeah me too. Miss, I am a healer so I know it's ok to lie to a patient to make them feel better told me to say that." He said. Confused, I asked him what he was on about. "She told me to say that." He said pointing at the old lady. "Anyways, Saphire Armour that's Gertrude, top healer and Cyrus's mother. I am Tybolt Van Cryst, top paladin and teacher in the guardian tower. You can call me Tybolt." I found out a little later that I was a short walk away from Lincolnshire. I had died and even in death managed to get to this place. It was home to the guardian tower, where Shawn had wanted to study. It was where I was going to meet Artimis and get some things explained. Tybolt had told me to rest until I was feeling fully alright. He meant it. I was in Tybolt's friend Cyrus’s house. Who is Cyrus? Don't ask me. I have no idea. Shawn said that Scythe was alright but Tybolt hadn't let him bring Scythe into the house because he was too big to fit into the door now. I heard him barking and howling below my bedroom window. The healer Gertrude visited me twice every day, giving me the worst possible medicine and telling me to rest. That was her habit, Tybolt told me a little while later. She tells people to do exactly what they are doing anyway. In a few weeks, Gertrude let me out of the house, and then pulled me back in before Scythe drenched me in wolf saliva.

Tybolt came in one day and he said Artimis will be coming to visit me in a few days. I was almost fully healed by then so Gertrude allowed me to feel excited. Shawn said that he would make sure I was back on this bed after sparring with him once. I told him to bring it on. The food! How could I have forgotten to mention food! After a month of boring and fruity lunches, scraping down on Gertrude’s fried chicken and cheese grilled, my mouth felt like it was in heaven. The chicken was spicy and crunchy on the outside. Bite into it and then you get to the tender and juicy part. I'll stop now in case some of you are those kind of people who do not eat meat. Anyway after a few long boring weeks, through which I enjoyed resting, Gertrude declared me fit to break a few bones again. I felt great that I could walk, run, jump and do other stuff without having to feel pain pulsating through my body. I walked out of my room while Gertrude cleaned up behind me. I peeped back in and thanked her, she smiled. I walked down the corridor where three other doors locked Tybolt’s room, Gertrude’s room and Shawn’s room. I didn't bother peeping into any of those. I jumped down the stairs into a huge room. There was a big glass door saying Cyrus’s workshop. Another which Tybolt had said was Cyrus’s room and a couple of doors leading to the rest rooms. I jumped down another fleet of stairs into the living room where Tybolt was polishing his golden axe. He was wearing a black shirt and brown pants now. He was holding a black colored cloth and wore a pointless smile. His pointless smile was what I liked most about Tybolt. He saw me and let his smile widen. "So the snake finally sticks it's head out of its whole." He said. "Uh...what snake?" I asked him, though I knew perfectly well what I was saying. Apparently Tybolt was happy to play along as if embarrassed of his old man like dialogue. "You know, now that you are alright, I think we can go to Lincolnshire so that you can meet Artimis. He wasn't able to come here because he got held up at the guardian tower." He said I was fully in support of this idea. "So Tybolt, should I hold the leash to my questions until we meet Mr. Artimis?" "Yeah, that would help. By the way, never say 'Mr.' Artimis, he hears you saying that and he'll turn you into a rat, seriously, he will." Tybolt said smirking. "I’ll go out and get some fresh air" I told him. He shrugged and suggested he could teach me how to ride a horse a bit later. I gave him a thumbs up and ran out. I was off my feet after I took about three steps out the door. I had a black monster licking my face like it was an ice cream cone. I managed to get Scythe to calm down and noticed that he had grown to its full size now. He was about ten feet in length. He was much stronger now, I could see it. His legs were more muscular and his teeth and claws were sharp as swords. I gave Scythe a hug and told him I missed him too. I saw Shawn standing a few feet away with a lop-sided grin I waved at him. He walked over and said, "Thanks." I was surprised that he was actually thanking me for saving him, when I expressed that aloud, he laughed and gave me a high five.

"So, what're you thinking of doing now?" I asked him. "Like I said I am gonna try for admission into the guardian tower education and graduation course. If I manage to get my hands on that paper, I can join king Zaerius's army and live the life of a rich man for once." "You dream ahead man seriously, if I'm not wrong that's like a five year course." "Right, and I am gonna do It." He said as if there was no discussion left. We sat and watched Scythe race across the field. The house was in a perfect setting. Not only was it as big as armor villa, it had the best scenic surrounding. A sea of green grass stretched towards the tall trees of Gren woods. Before the forest started, the spine river gushed across the fields. It's waters were bluer here. It seemed more fresh and pure compared to the part within Gren woods. Even after the war and violence which had taken place within it, the Gren Guard forest looked like a merry rain forest. A tourist's dream wildlife observation journey. I tried not to remember the fight. The memory almost scared me as much as the real thing. I scared myself quite a lot too. I remembered Adelide’s acceptance speech. She had told my soul to return to my body. Which meant that the hundreds of undead I had destroyed in the forest had souls to. I remembered the fight in the prison. The fight in the coffee shop. And the fight with Drakus. I wondered how I did not deserve to be behind bars. I calculated a total I dreaded. I realized that I had destroyed around a thousand souls. I let my neck sag and stared at my palms. Shawn must have read my mind because he said, "Don't beat yourself up about it. There's no sense in it. You were the one who was attacked. You never attacked anyone. All you did was kill people to try and stay alive. There nothing wrong in that." He saw me looking sarcastically at him and said, "Ok! Ok! It's wrong but what are you going to do about it now?" He said angrily. "I can't do anything about it now can I? Even if it was possible to bring people who are dead back to life with magic, I couldn't." I replied with a sigh. "What do you mean, I couldn't?" Shawn asked as though I was joking and he was trying to find the funny part to laugh at. I looked at him seriously and said, "I cannot do magic anymore." Shawn kept doing his fake laugh thing. Until he noticed that I wasn't laughing and that I was serious. He changed his expression from confused laughter to shock. "What! You are serious?!?!?"He shouted. "Yeah, once you got out of range I did an extreme magic spell and conjured up a sort of dragon from the rain. I wanted you and Scythe to get out of range. And while I was doing the spell, the magic, it left me." I said blandly, leaning back and looking at the clear blue sky. Shawn patted me on the shoulder. He didn't say anything though. "Don’t feel so down Saph, that was one hell of a magic you performed in that forest." Tybolt said from behind. "I don't know the exact technical term for that but you controlled the elements fire and water. That is no small feat. I had to work for four months just to be able to light a match-stick on fire, using magic of course."

I thought Tybolt was just trying to make me feel better. Although, I could feel he was telling the truth. "Thanks Tybolt." I said to him. "Still my magic is gone." "That’s totally true, sorry about that kid." He said. I just sighed and got up. I looked at Tybolt and said, "Well, are you going to teach me or not?" Tybolt seemed to come out of some deep thoughts and asked, "What? Teach?...what?" "You said you would teach me how to ride a horse." I reminded him. "Oh! Right. Right. I'll just fetch the horses, I’ll be back in a minute." Tybolt walked away behind the house. I turned to Shawn who was staring at the sky. "Forget it." I told him. "What?" "Forget the whole no more magic thing. It makes no difference anyway, I mean we are safe now and are going to see Artimis tonight. I doubt I will need it again." I said, trying to assure myself more than Shawn. He nodded and then told me that I would never be able to ride horses. "Thanks for the vote of confidence. I really needed it." I said sarcastically. "No, I am not saying that you will fail at it, all I am saying is, well, you'll see." he explained. "Yeah. We will." I told him. Tybolt came back whistling and beautiful white horse came trotting behind him. It had a thick and silvery mane and a similar tail. It seemed fit, strong and fast. It was surely Tybolt’s own horse because it looked like a warrior owned it. The horse saw me looking at it with my mouth open and took it as an opportunity to show off. It leaped onto its hind legs and galloped. Tybolt mounted it as it came back on all fours. And rode it towards me. He sat straight on it and looked down at me and said, "Say hello to Bolt." He must have been trying to make a cool effect but I ruined it by saying, "Hello Bolt." Tybolt jumped off with an angry frown. And handed the reins to me. I took them and pulled myself onto Bolt. I did everything Tybolt told me about having a secure grip and making sure about how to sit. Tybolt patted bolt and it went on at a boring trot. After moving a few meters at the boring speed, I got bored. I pulled the reigns a little and made Bolt switch to run mode. I held on as bolt edged along the field and enjoyed the ride back to where Tybolt was standing. I gave Shawn a smug smile, which was supposed to mean, "See, I am awesome, I can do anything." He apparently couldn't understand my secret message and returned the smile. His smile seemed more "I told you so" type. He pointed his thumb towards his left. I raised my eyebrow and turned, in the direction he was pointing. A black fur ball pounced on me and pulled me off my ride. I had time to say, "What the_" before I got knocked off. When I finally fell to the field I heard Scythe growling down at my face. I heard Shawn laughing and saying,

"See? I told you. With Scythe around, he won't let you ride the horse. You are going to have to ride Scythe." "Uh, huh, I managed to say. Ok. Ok. Scythe I won't ride Bolt. Relax." “Grrrrrr.” "Ok. Ok. I'll learn how to ride you." “Bow.” After striking a deal with scythe, I was allowed to sit up and face a laughing Shawn and Tybolt. As it turns out, I was pretty good at riding a darkwolf. And Scythe had enough fur to make the ride comfortable too. All I needed to do was hold on to Scythe, as he raced across the fields at speeds that would make the horse pop like a balloon. Before I knew it, we had done a couple of laps around the field. Now, Scythe was rushing towards the spine. I knew that he had a plan so I swallowed my nervousness and held tight. Apparently, Scythe was so fast that he could run on water. I turned around to see the water which was just a blur of blue and white. I looked at the house which was a multicolored blur. Scythe ran back to shore and skidded to a stop near the house. "That was awesome!" I shouted as I jumped off Scythe and patted him. Tybolt looked at Scythe with misty eyes and so I told him that he could try a ride if he wanted to. Tybolt obliged. Scythe didn't. When Tybolt tried to get on, Scythe turned around and Tybolt fell to the ground face first. When Tybolt finally got on, Scythe looked at the sky and howled and Tybolt rolled off his back and used his face to land again. This went on until I started to wonder how much more Tybolt’s face would take until Scythe finally had had enough fun. Tybolt rode a couple of laps around the fields and jumped off. He didn't apparently want another go. I can't imagine why. Shawn had a much easier time with Scythe. He fell a couple of times too but not as much as Tybolt. When Gertrude finally called us in for lunch, Scythe howled and ran off into the forest for his own lunch. "That wolf really hates me." Tybolt said when we settled down in the living room. The table had been decorated with a chicken, a salad and some rice. As always we didn't talk while eating. Gertrude had said it would cause the food to get stuck. Truth was, her food was so good, and we were too busy time scarping it down. Who had time to talk when you have food like that? When the last chicken leg was eaten and the last of the rice was forced down the throat, we crashed infront of the fireplace. The weather had been getting more cold than wet for the last few days. The skies were clearer now but usually, it was freezing cold. I didn't mind. I was in a cozy house and had some good friends to spend time with. Does it get any better that that?...I know it does but let’s enjoy the things that we have, as Nana used to say. After an early dinner, I packed a few shirts, pants and undergarments. Gertrude had stitched me a sweater that I thanked her for, while swearing in my mind that I would never wear it. As I mounted Scythe, I pulled the sweater out and put it on. Shawn had one too, and so did Tybolt so I wasn't feeling too bad. After a few goodbyes to Gertrude, we set of towards Lincoln shire. It didn't take very long. We stopped at a cliff when there was still a little bit of light. Tybolt told us we would stop so that we can get a good view of Lincolnshire. It was one hell of a view indeed.

The guardian hills, which in fact were mountains, in all their majestic element covered the background. Nestled between the snow laden peaks of grey mountains, was Lincolnshire. It was a huge place. Lights from street lamps engulfed the town in a yellow light. A woody and comfortable inn rested just behind the stone fence. Yellow light shone through the windows on both its levels. And smoke was puffing out of the chimney, a kind of smoke that just screamed out good food. I could read the sign hanging from here. It said Brutus's inn. Right next to the inn was a big building which Tybolt told me was a one stop shop for all your needs. A few large villas built of either stone or wood extended in a circle around a large fountain. Between the fountain and the villas was enough space to have a perfect celebration. Shops were dotted here and there. A mage's shop stood right opposite to Brutus’s inn. I wondered what was inside it, but I also knew that I would never need to go inside it. Roads led to the inner parts where more shops obviously stood. The size of the houses shrank as you moved away from the centre of the village. This made the town look almost cone-like. Huts dotted the agriculture fields which surrounded a few miles around Lincolnshire. Behind a concrete church lay a castle of stone. I didn't need Tybolt to tell me that, that was the guardian tower., which apparently was a castle. Home to the greatest warriors in all of Questa. Also home to the aspiring knights and mages. It stood with majesty as the largest building in Lincolnshire. It had two towers at either side. A small stone wall ran around it. After the stretch of green training grounds, a wooden door blocked entry into the castle. It seemed to have five levels. Light was shining through all windows on the first and second levels. The other three seemed eerily dark. It was a pretty plane castle. Nothing out of the ordinary, except of course that it was so large. The last part of the town was the graveyard. It fit in a little away from the guardian tower. And it was huge. I saw lots and lots of forbidding looking oaks in the graveyard. I didn't bother staring at it too long. I kept looking at the mental painting I had made of Lincolnshire while we got back to riding. Before I knew it, I was starting at a wooden board with blue writing.

Welcome to Lincolnshire, enjoy your stay.

Chapter 10: Return to Brutus’s inn...
Tybolt lead us to the closest building. Brutus's inn. He had told me to wait with Scythe outside for a while. He took my bag and asked Shawn to lead the horses to the stables next to the inn. I did as he asked. "We made it here, boy, finally." Scythe barked. "Yeah, I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. Yet I am guessing agreeing with you is a safe thing to do, huh?" Scythe barked again. I smiled and told him that once Artimis spoke to me, I would work out a way to get trained and join king Zaerius’s army. And when I did join king Zaerius’s army, I asked him whether he would stick by my side. And Scythe replied very emotionally and honestly. He barked. "You know you are not a dog. You are a darkwolf for crying out loud! Can't you do something more to converse than bark??" Scythe howled. "You are totally useless." I lied to him. He growled and I apologized, knowing full well that the growling meant nothing. After a few more minutes, Tybolt finally walked out. He said Shawn was inside talking to Artimis about getting into the guardian tower's knight training program. He said that I should follow him to the pet shop. "Why? I already have a pet." I told him. "No. Saph, I am not saying buy another pet. Scythe here, he's a magical creature. And you have been able to befriend him. That's an achievement bro, but you see, you are in Lincolnshire now, a place where normal people live. So caring for Scythe all the time will be difficult. Brutus couldn't let Scythe stay at the inn. The other customers would get scared and leave. So Artimis suggested that we leave Scythe at the pet shop where Alica can care for him." He explained. I wanted to argue but I knew that if I got selfish, Scythe would have to sacrifice his happiness. So instead of

arguing, I asked Tybolt if this Alica person could be trusted. "Don’t let anyone here hear you say that. Seriously you would get beaten to a pulp. Alica is the most honest and trusted person next to Brutus and Artimis." Tybolt said. I doubted that the people would beat me up for a small reason like that. If even if they would, I doubted that they could fight me. I didn't push the subject though. "How often can I visit Scythe?" I asked him. He told me that the pet shop was open seven days a week from morning to night. And between it's open hours, I could visit Scythe as often as I wanted. At least until I started to annoy Alica at least. "The darkwolf is a rare pet. Even between magical creatures. It has powers, all of which even we humans haven't been able to understand. You are very lucky to have been able to befriend Scythe." Tybolt told me as the pet shop came into view. I nodded with a smile and patted Scythe absent mindedly. The pet shop was a small building. It looked like a one or two room hut. Behind it thought was a huge field. It had every farm animal you could imagine. A high stone wall separated the poultry from the other huge quarter of the farm. I could hear tiger and lion roars, grunts and growls from behind that wall. I noticed that the fence lead into the forest behind the field. The bell jingled as we pushed the door with a sign saying, 'Alica's pet shop'. A pretty looking woman stood behind the counter. She looked like she was somewhere in her twenties. She had a reasonless blush on her cheeks. She was a brunette. Her eyes were a brilliant blue. She had a slim figure and wore a loose fitting brown shirt. She gifted me a sweet smile and blushed a little at Tybolt. I felt like punching Tybolt because of that. Tybolt seemed to be oddly comfortable in her presence. "Hey Alica, how are you?' he said. Her voice was soft and sweet, "Oh! I've been doing very well. Who's your little friend?" She looked at me with those young blue eyes. I noticed she was smiling so I tried to smile too. With lots of effort and arguing with myself that smiling is not an embarrassing thing to do, I managed it. "This is Saphire." He said. "Hello, Saphire, which family do you belong to?" She asked me. "I belong to the ar_" "Arvitr family. They are foreign." Tybolt cut in. I did not raise my eyebrows at him. I knew he would explain later. "Oh!" She said. "Nice to meet you, Saphire Arvitr. Which country are you from?" "Uhh..." "Frostovia." "Oh! I love that place. Have you ever gone freeze diving?"

"Uhhh..." "Freeze diving has been illegal for a few centuries, I mean in Frostovia." "That' sad, have you_" Luckily I didn't have to say, "Uhhh..." again because Tybolt interrupted her. "I’ll make sure Saph comes to chat with you later Alica, we are in kind of a hurry." "Oh! Is that so? Well then that’s alright. How can I help you?" "Well, Saphire here owns a darkwolf, and he would like it if you could care for the wolf a while." "Did you say he owns a darkwolf? That's awesome! When did you_ never mind. Where did you_ like that matters. Can you tell me how did you_" "Pressed for time, Alica." Tybolt reminded her. "Oh! Yes. Yes. Sorry. Darkwolves are at almost the top of a long, long, list of animals I love. So..How long do I have the luck of caring for the darkwolf?" "As long as Saphire stays in Lincolnshire. That will be pretty long." "Great!" She exclaimed. "Where is the wolf?" "Outside." We walked out and saw that Scythe was not outside the shop. He was on its roof. He was howling. His fur rustling in the moonlight. I looked at Alica, who was looking at Scythe with misty, admiring eyes. We waited for Scythe to finish, which didn't take too long. Once Scythe had performed the howl, I whistled to him. He leaped down in a smooth and fluid motion. He spared Alica a glance and gave Tybolt a sort of agreement nod. He stood next to me. He came up to my elbows now. And I was not a short person. I patted him and said, "Scythe, this is Alica. Alica, Scythe. She is going to be caring for you while I stay in this town." He growled his disagreement until he was convinced that I was not lying about visiting him every day and every night. He walked slowly towards Alica. I knew, that Alica wasn't going to be sniffed or licked. That pet-dog behavior was obviously reserved only for me. He stood a feet away from her. He looked at her with his memorizing, blood red eyes. Alica smiled and put a hand on Scythe's head, between his ears. Scythe didn't seem to mind it. She bent down and petted Scythe a bit more, Scythe didn't stop her but he didn't dish out any pet-like behavior. After trying for a while Alica gave up with a sigh. I couldn't tell if she was annoyed or disappointed. When I asked her if she would take care of Scythe, she nodded enthusiastically. I guessed she was going to befriend Scythe no matter what. I hugged Scythe around his neck and then let him walk into the pet shop with Alica. "Don’t worry." Tybolt said as we walked back.

I didn't worry. I was kinda upset about leaving Scythe there but I was not worried about him. We walked back to Brutus’s inn, and Tybolt said he was going to go to the guardian tower to inform Artimis. Who would meet us next morning. I nodded and pushed through the big wooded door. I was tackled by a bear, then another and then one more. I was scared for my life until I realized that the ones who tackled me were not bears, but very bear like men. And they hadn't attacked me, they were apparently being friendly because I heard a couple of people laughing. One of them was Shawn. Finally they let me up and I looked around the lounge of Brutus’s inn. I was in a large and woody room. Candles in stands lined the walls alternatively with various paintings. The frames looked golden and so did the glasses and mugs and buckets which were on the table. A smooth table ran from one corner of the room to the opposite corner. Instead of paintings, barrels of alcoholic drinks were stacked in the shelf. Bottles of wine, beer and whisky were stuffed into a small shelf at the corners. Stairs led up to the above floors. Windows on the right showed a great view of the cliff where I had gotten my first view of Lincolnshire. Windows on the left showed the streets. A cozy red and brown carpet layered the floor. And on that carpet stood the people I had confused for bears.

The two men other than Shawn who had just bear-hugged me were wearing loose and warm t-shirts. Over those shirts were scarves which had 'Brutus’s inn' stitched onto them. Just for the sake of it, I’ll mention the obvious fact that they were wearing cotton trousers too. Both of them had brown hair and a long and happy beard. I'll admit I couldn't find a better adjective for their beard than happy. They were, well, chubby. Whatever of their face I could see, I saw pale pinkish skin. I saw identical brown and kind eyes and a wide smile was hidden behind the brown swamp. It was easy to make out that they were happy men. And were happier men now that I was in Brutus’s inn. Reason? I didn't know at the time. One of the men, the one who had a longer and happier beard, was wearing a sort of hat which told me he was the boss. Other than the smiling chubby men and Shawn, the lounge was empty. Shawn saw my confused expression, he pointed at the boss with his thumb said, , and “This is Brutus!” Brutus continued with a the introductions and said, with a happy and fat man's voice, " and this is Borin." "Hullo! And you, as I am sure you already know, are Saphire...uh..!" "Saphire Arvitr." Shawn said. "Right! Right! Anyway Saphire, welcome back lad! I missed you so much!" Brutus said and rushed me off to the dinner table. While Brutus talked non-sense about my baby actions, Borin asked a maid to feed me delicious chicken and beef. Did I say feed, I meant, 'shove into my mouth so fast I couldn't even talk'. And when dinner was done I carried my bursting stomach to bed reserving my questions for a time when I wasn't so full of food that my vocal cords was clogged.

I heard Shawn enter the room laughing and more laughing blazed through the open door. Sleep came soon after and I had a strange dream. Where I had been only a few months old. And I could make out Brutus taking care of me like a father. One night when it was snowing, I remember loud noises coming through the window along with fancy lights. I remember seeing a dark figure entering my room and then I started to cry. Then the dark figure raised its arm and I fell asleep. Later I would learn from Artimis that this had been my past. Real past. Next morning I woke up and smelled toast and coffee. Ashes of a warm fire crowded the fireplace. Cold wind rushed outside the shut windows. And over night, the ground had gotten covered in snow. I rubbed my eye with my fist and pulled off the blankets. I got off and stretched. I pulled the curtains apart and peeped out. I saw the street split in two by the winding path. The stalls and shops were now open and crowded. Children ran around fighting with the snow. The fun they got out of the flying snowballs was a surprise to me. I had never played 'snowball fight' with anyone. I slid the curtain back. After I washed my face and ate the buttery toast, I got dressed in a new pair of deep blue pants and a blue shirt. I pulled a few thicker shirts on over myself and bent down to put on my shoes. After I had, I reached for the coffee cup. "Good morning." said a voice from the door. The voice was merry, but old. Artimis was standing at my doorstep. He looked just like he had when I had seen him from my window. I could make out that his eyes were a deep and glassy green. "I am really happy to see you here Saphire. I am so proud that you were able to make your way all the way here and take on those challenges Shawn told me about." "Thank you Mr. Artimis. I_ I_ thank you." I stuttered. "Relax Saphire. Please. You don't need to be nervous in my presence. I am not a look-alike of the blue feathered man-eating giant eagle, I hope." I laughed politely at the Artimis’s joke, though it was a horrible one. And by horrible, of course I mean I couldn't understand it fully. "Anyways," Artimis continued, "meet me in the guardian tower later after breakfast. We will talk. I promise you that." I nodded and smiled at him. He smiled back and exited smoothly. Closing the door behind him.

Chapter 11:

Armour family- History class
"Good morning!' Shawn said as I walked into the kitchen. Brutus and Borin were busy cooking, "Hm." "Eat up, eat up...I have already prepared a mug full of milk for you." "I’m gonna go to the guardian tower. Artimis said I should get there as soon as possible." "Oh! Ok then. Go on. Take Shawn with you. Here take these coats." Brutus said, stirring, tossing and doing other cook actions. I sat next to Shawn as Brutus threw a plate full of bread, butter and jam onto our table. "I already had breakfast, it was next to my bed." I told him. "So?" He said handing two warm looking furry coats to me and Shawn. I pulled on the coat and snuggled myself into it, it was kinda big for me. Shawn ate heartily and did the same with his coat. And when we were both ready, Brutus told us the way to guardian tower. I was feeling exactly how a guy who hadn’t slept for days and was having a throbbing headache would be feeling. I was suddenly feeling angry for no reason. I felt like punching Shawn, no I don’t know why. I ignored my tiredness and Shawn’s constant annoying Artimis is the greatest human alive facts. I stepped out and a grand chariot stood there. A white stallion pulling a black carriage with golden embroidery. The one holding the reigns said, “Mr. Saphire Armour?” I didn’t know how he knew I was an Armour family member, or my name. I ignored that and nodded. “Please get into the chariot sir. Master Artimis asked me to bring you to the guardian tower as soon as possible.” Shawn seemed like he was about to refuse, I got into the chariot before he could. Shawn followed looking offended. I stared at the floor of the chariot throughout the bumpy ride. I was still trying to figure out why I felt so angry. I didn’t get much time to think though. “We’re here sir.” “Thanks.” I got out and walked straight through the large gates. I walked into a garden full of statues and students. They were of around my age. Some were sitting in the shade of the huge trees and reading scary looking thick books. Some more were sparring with wooden sticks or poles. A small group of students were in a corner, doing magic practice. I ignored that corner. The statues showed some students in heroic poses. The grass was freshly cut and the flowers at the foot of the fence were adding to the beauty. Four basic fountains dotted the garden. I marched through the centre path into the wooden doors. It was in a tiny room. At the far end of the room, there was a counter. An old lady sat behind it. And all across the room were doors. At least fifteen doors. The lady looked up at me and Shawn, and smiled. “Please go up these stairs” she said pointing to the doors exactly behind her. “Go into the door to your left on the

second floor. You will be able to find your way from there.” I didn’t ask any questions. I pushed through the door and bolted up the stairs. I reached the second floor and faced the door to my left. I looked at the next fleet of stairs, they lead to the to third floor. I knew that going up those stairs would be a bad idea but still I found myself moving towards them. I made sure I walked through the door by the time Shawn walked up calmly. A long corridor ended in a golden door. A maiden was carved onto its surface. She seemed to be in her thirties. She was beautiful. Her robe was fluttering in the wind. And her hand was engulfed in a magical glow. I walked towards the doors and tried to push it open. As if on cue, the carving of the maiden began to glow. A blinding flash went across the corridor. When I opened my eyes, I found that the carving had come to life. The woman was looking directly at me. “State your name and purpose. If I don’t sense any ill will against master Artimis, I will allow you inside.” “I am Saphire Armour and I wish to meet and talk to Master Artimis. I want to talk to him about my family and my future. He instructed me to escape from Armour Villa. So I am hoping for a few answers.” “I, Zeldina, guardian of the Headmaster’s room, allow you to pass. You may enter.” I walked in through the door. I mean literally walked through the door. Shawn followed mumbling. I asked him what he was on about. “That was Zeldina, th….the sorceress. Isn’t she your…..your…. “Stop talking if you are not going to talk properly.” I told him. “Go soak your head. If you’re that angry take it out on someone else.” He said. I felt like he had slapped me. “Sorry.” I told him. “Yeah, whatever.” I turned back. An elegant table and chair were present in the centre. Book shelves lined the walls up to the ceiling. An elegant chandelier hung from the ceiling. On one side of the room, a window occupied the entire wall and opened out to a balcony. Sunshine washed through the room through the window. Shawn and I sat on the chairs in front of us. A cold breeze washed through the room. “So, you’re finally here Saphire, nice to see that.” Artimis was sitting in the elegant chair across the table. “Would you like something to drink?” “No, that’s alright….” “Well alright then. What is it you want to know.” “I want to know everything about my family. I want to know why I was attacked in Armour village. I want to know who it was that I had fought on top of the prison tower. Why I was locked away in Armour villa… Everything...”

Artimis made the tips of the fingers on his two hands meet and rested his elbows on the table. He was staring intently at the table. His pale glassy green colored eyes looked familiar even though this was the first time I had seen them up close. “Ok then, I’ll tell you everything that I know. It’s a long story so I recommend you get comfortable… What was it now? 200 years? Yes…Around two hundred years ago, your grandfather, Sybroden Surial Armour, had travelled to Partovia. And there, while making deals with pirates and assassins, he discovered the first lair of the Drydenblood Empire. He ventured into the lair and surely, he met up with none other than Gustavor Sae Drydenblood. They didn’t kill each other. Instead they became good friends. Soon they made a pact. The Pact of Partovia. A pact that was going to seal the land of Questa in political wars, rebellions and death. The Armours were a political, ancient, rich and powerful family. Every child born into the family was a natural warrior. Another special ability they had was to be able to converse with dragons. They had conquered quite a few places in Questa. Both Partovia and Drakovia were under their rule. Needless to say they ruled Armour village. Xala and Enris Islands were also their territory. But they were not good rulers. They were money hungry tyrants. They conquered many of these after the pact. As, once they were partners with the Drydenblood, few could stand in their way. Anyway, the Drydenblood was having a problem of its own. Gustavor Sae was sensing rebellious thoughts among his Shadow Liches. Unlike all the other troops of Drydenblood, they were mages who were still alive. They had the ability to think and rebel. That’s when Gustavor Sae decided to turn them into Necromancers. They would have the same power and same abilities, only, now they would be undead. To do this, he needed huge amounts of magic. But such magic is apparently not available in Bob’s daily mart. He needed to enter the Zurind treasury. It is the most magical point in Questa. But Zurind was a place ruled by the Rubids…..Rubids are magical creatures. A kind of cross between rabbits and koalas. They are healers but have magic that can win wars. Also they are one of the only magical creatures that have gotten along extremely well with us humans. Thus Gustavor would have to conquer the throne before he could use the magic in Zurind. But the Drydenblood army alone could not defeat the Rubids. Gustavor turned to your grandfather for help. Of course, Sybroden agreed to help him, at a large cost. Sybroden told Gustavor that even with the help of the Armours, it was still not enough power to beat the Rubid Army. That’s when Gustavor thought of the Drakonir blade. He wanted Sybroden to use his ability to talk to dragons to forge a sword using dragon fire. He said that he would pull the very souls out of thousands of undead soldiers and embed them into the blade of this sword. Can you imagine that power? The power of the greatest soldiers to ever have lived, embedded into one single sword, combined with the fact that it would be forged with dragon fire. Making it the hardest ever material. He said he would pay Sybroden more gold than he could count if he made him this sword. Sybroden disagreed. He said that he would forge the sword. But he would use it himself or hand it over to one of his three sons to use. Gustavor had no choice but to agree. So Sybroden went and locked himself away in the Dragon lair for a couple of months. Thus Gustavor Sae went to assemble his troops and wait for Sybroden. Now, we shift the story between these two months towards Sybroden’s sons. There were three of them. Drakus, Christen and Daceaf. Christen, the youngest, had been sent to Zurind to check the battle field and draw out plans. Little did he know he was going to get murdered soon. Before I go on to that, let me just you Drakus’s story. At around an age of thirteen, Drakus ran away from

home. He said that he had had enough and was breaking all strands that connected him to the Armour family. He didn’t realize though how much the people hated the Armours. He had hoped he would make friends and have companions. “The world is never as we see it; it is more of a matter of how we perceive it.” These words meant nothing but the truth to the Armour family. The Armours perceived it as a place where you can bend the laws with gold and if that doesn’t work, dark and evil magic had always been a good substitute. Freakishly rich though they were, they were very careful on how they spent their wealth. Like not paying taxes, refusing to donate and plundering wealth from their subjects. They had connections with the likes of the brutal and undead Drydenblood Empire. With whose help, the Armour family had conquered beautiful lands like the Samu’rae Islands, the city of Enris, the villages of Xala, Drakovia, Partovia and even the mysterious and spooky town of Dwelleri. But don’t get the wrong idea, the objective behind these conquests alongside riches and power was the thirst for battle. They had no intentions of gaining more power and riches so they could give their subjects a better life. They were a highly regarded family, loved and the underworld and the necromancers... Truth be told every civilian hated them. They were hated until that day when they helped a knight ascend the throne of Zurind. After this, everyone despised them and went after them with any weapon that was within reach. A revolt resulting in the death of the brutal reign until, the Armours used their money wisely and the rioters accepted their apology. The currently ruling knight had murdered the rubid king. And drove the whole magical race of rubids out of their settlement. Luckily everyone else in Questa, was able to do what they could for these magical creatures to find them a new home. The rubids were built another city. One that was away from the main land. One where these peaceful creatures could go about their lives without the fear of invasions and war. This city was named as Byrind. Sealed away between the tall and snowy peaks of the Snowleopard Mountains, it was a perfect place for them to lead a calm and joyous life. The knight went by the name Drakus. Drakus Armour. Yes, he was a son of that wretched family. Drakus had run away from his family at a very young age. Still, the people of Goldray used this small boy as a medium to release their hatred for the Armours. He had claimed his separation from them to serve under the king of Goldray. He proved his valor and strength against many beasts that used terrorize our land. In hopes of changing the hatred that people had for him in their hearts into feelings of love and respect. This lead him to rise in army ranks from foot soldier to the king’s right hand man. Yes, people still had doubts about him. But at least they didn’t throw insults or stones at him every time he passed by. As respect and regard spread about Drakus, no one noticed that he was in fact hatching an evil ploy. One dreadful day, reports came to the castle that the ships that had been carrying the trade from Frostovia had drowned near the Morpheous Island. This was the tenth or fifteenth one now. Thus, King Zaerius had decided that he wanted to visit this land. This island had always been engulfed in a fog of mystery. Hardly anything was known about this land. That was why the King wanted to go there in person and explore it. Once gone, the king didn’t return. Ever. Out of all the guards that had gone with him, only Drakus returned alive. That’s when the people saw him for what he really was. His lust for the throne had driven him to murder King Zaerius. Such thirst for power and gold was in his

blood. The people of Goldray were angry with themselves for not recognizing Drakus even though he was a descendant of the blood thirsty Armour family. As soon as he arrived, he was brought in front of the law. The prince decided that he was to be banished from the land. That he was to be keep away from all settlements. He was to die a lonely and sad death. Suffering till the end. But this seemed to the people to be a very minor punishment for this sinful knight. Thus after a bit of pressurizing, the prince decided to give the knight to the public. ‘Do as you wish,’ he had said ‘Punish him as you see fit.’ But Drakus fought his way out. He escaped from the court before the guards could chain him up. He left behind a be-headed prince in a puddle of blood… Drakus had then started serving under another man. A man who went by the name Demoen Frizae. Anyway, this man used to be an extremely powerful wizard with a knack for questioning the truth and the foretold. He kept doing these experiments hoping to prove everyone’s beliefs wrong and gain more power at the same time. None of those experiments were successful though . Many brave souls lost their lives during this. But, one day, he just went on to make the worst possible choice for an experiment… He was again the cause of an experiment gone wrong resulting in complete destruction of the town of Gazwar. He had then had a terrible argument with the great sage Alkyward. He was told that after his death, in hell, the souls that he had killed would not let him rest in peace. He would be haunted by them for eternity. He had gotten angry and as revenge he had made sure the sage never foretold anything ever again. Made sure he would be eternally silent. Further, that night, Demoen Frizae attempted to link our world with the world of the devil, hell. He apparently wanted proof of its existence along with the immortal and infinite power that was said to be hidden in that realm. His son, the legendary mage, Artimis, stopped him before it was too late. If he had succeeded, he would have opened a gate into our land for all the dead souls and monster that dwell in there. A long and deadly battle was waged between the father and the son. Imagine two wizards with skill worth eons of training fighting to kill. When such a battle unfolds, death and destruction don’t stay far behind. Sorry, but I do not know a lot more about him except that Artimis beat him, and possibly, killed him. Drakus then had only one place left to go now. He returned to where he belonged. The Armour family. Then of course, there is the battle of Zurind. The Armour family, in alliance with the Drydenblood defeated the Rubids quite easily. I am not sure but there have been rumors of an invincible and legendary sword that the Armours wielded during this battle. After this victory, a new evil started to roam the lands of Questa. The undead mages of the Drydenblood. The necromancers. Do not ask me how their appearance was connected..Because I do not know. Drakus’s father and brother died quite soon after this battle. Probably the after effects of such a devastating war. This left Drakus to rule over all the lands under the Armours…. Of course, all this is supposed to happen a few years before the part from where our story actually starts... Snow continued to cover the roofs of town of Lincolnshire that night. It was the night of December, the thirty first. The clock’s shorter hand was pointing at twelve. And in one house, a new born baby was crying like there was not to be a tomorrow. Zeldina kissed it’s forehead as the maid handed her the beautiful baby

boy. Being born to a sorceress like her, Zeldina knew that this baby’s had a tough life ahead of him. His destiny had been written. He would achieve greatness and magic beyond any other regular mage. He would become a legendary warrior. And worst of all, he would have to make choices that may just decide the fate of everyone who walked the lands of Questa. The baby continued to cry for much longer than any other new born. Why? Because this was his first test. Survival. Being born to a sorceress meant that many magical powers seep into you. And for a baby to try and house such powers was the first test. He succeeded. The process was complete. And to prove that the magical abilities had accepted the host body, a fire burned from within the baby. Leaving a mark on his torso… It was the shape of a mythical dragon. The mark of Saphiren. This caused another question upon the baby’s fate. Saphiren had been a legendary dragon. But he had become a legend for his vicious, evil and deadly nature. In fact, all dragons were so. Blood thirsty and brutal. The great mage Artimis had concluded Saphiren’s life when required. If the spirit of this dragon resided in this baby, then Zeldina was a little unsure about whether it was safe to keep the baby alive. Still, she was a mother. And killing her own baby… she just could not do it. Now, all the baby had to do was survive for twelve or thirteen years. Which was easier said than done for a boy like him. When he reached this age, his father would help him unleash his powers. This was the ritual. Only a father could help his son unleash his true potential. Zeldina named her son as Saphire, keeping Saphiren as his namesake. She took care of Saphire tirelessly for a few months until, she realized her time had come. From the moment she had realized another life was inside her, Zeldina had also realized that her death was not far away. It has always been so. Sons and daughters of sorceresses and witches are born as warriors. They gain the ability to control magic. Their death can only come when they are killed in a battle. They cannot be assassinated. But with all these special gifts, they lose that one thing that matters most to any child. Their mother. The sorceress that has brought an another life into the world dies soon after she give birth. Saphire had been eleven months old when Zeldina handed him to me. He really was a beautiful baby. His bluish black hair was already messy. His healthy arms and legs were always punching and kicking the air. And his eyes. His eyes were a pure and beautiful blue. The most curious part of his body though was the burn mark on his torso. It resembled Saphiren’s mark. “ Are you sure your time has come Zeldina? He is still so young.” I asked her as she handed the baby to me wrapped in a blanket. “ Death is awaiting me. It may be a lot closer than I had expected. I have one final quest that I am going to have to complete.” “ A quest?! Zeldina, you have an eleven month old son. He needs you...Are you certain this quest cannot wait?” “ No it cannot. And I do not have time even if it could. You know the ancient law the gods have devised Brutus. I know Saphire needs me, but I will die. If not today then by tomorrow…. Please promise me you will take care of him.”

“ I will try Zeldina. But he is still your son. How long I can protect him… I really do not know. Still, I give you my word that I will try.” “ Thank you Brutus.” Yes, that is my name. I am Brutus. Innkeeper and weapon smith. I live in Lincolnshire. I was born and raised here. And when I made the promise of caring for Saphire, I had really meant it. I just wish I knew how horribly I would fail at it though. Anyway, Zeldina kissed Saphire on the head one last time. She had looked beautiful that night. You would never have guessed that she was about to die in a few hours. I stood there biting my lip. But the tears kept rolling from my eyes as I watched Zeldina fade away into the distance. That was the last time I saw her. **** A month had passed since Zeldina entrusted me with Saphire. I hardly noticed how so many days had gone by while taking care of him. I was thinking about him and his mother while preparing the feast for the end of the year celebrations. That’s when I realized what I had forgotten… It was baby Saphire's day of birth. Jumpy and confused on what I was supposed to do, I decided to rush off letters to everyone who had even heard of Saphire or his story. I was surprised to find that each of them bolted over to give up their blessings and gifts. I served up the wine and the party just kicked off. And in between the celebrations, one special uninvited guest arrived. Although he was uninvited, there could not have been one person in that room that had been unhappy to see him. Artimis walked in trying not to get noticed but he just had this magical feel around him that it was not easy to not spot him. His elegant blue robes were shimmering in the candle light. The room grew still as he approached Saphire. He put his hand on the baby’s forehead and said.. “ Thujme ek eise shaki hai, jo har kesi mei nahi hoti. Mera ashirwad hai tujhpar ki tu ek nek aur takatwar einsan baane. Jo bhe karo sache raho. Ek sukhe zindage jeelo, Saphire…” He translated this from the mythical language to common man’s language so that all of us others could understand…….. “ The greatest of magic flows within your body. May you grow into a good, strong man. Here’s hoping that whatever choices you make, you stay true to yourself. Let your heart fill with courage and may your magic always remain pure. I bless you for a long, healthy and peaceful life, Saphire….” That night, everyone in Lincolnshire was out on the streets, celebrating both New Year’s Eve and Saphire’s birthday. There was hardly anyone who was sitting in their houses. Who were in the houses were either disabled or were too young to walk or talk. The best food that we cooks in Lincolnshire could prepare was left for anyone and everyone to eat. Beer and wine of every kind were given in exchange for nothing to anyone who wanted a drink. Hugs were being exchanged with total strangers. Cigars shared between new found brothers. Everyone had gone off their rocker. But amidst all this joy, dancing, singing and fun, there had been one man who was not being a part of the festivities. I only remembered that there was such a person the next day. I hadn’t bothered about him while getting drunk. The celebrations went on late into the night. But, amidst of this happiness, who would have guessed the tragedy which was about to strike?

If only I had kept control over the situation. If only everyone else had not gotten so badly drunk with me… I forced Artimis to magically play some songs extremely loud. I gathered about twenty or thirty men and we started to dance. And between the loud music, the banging of feet and the shouting, the fading sounds of Saphire's crying went unnoticed. And if I had not been suffering from a hangover from last night I would have noticed next morning that Saphire was no longer in his room. **** “Hey have you seen Saphire yet?” “Is Saphire ill? Why hasn’t Brutus brought him out yet?” “Have you even noticed that Saphire hasn’t cried at all since last night?” “Hey everyone! Happy new year!” “So...where is this boy Saphire I have heard so much about?” The bartender at the tavern was bombarded with such questions all morning. And while he struggled to try and frantically serve orders and answer these questions, I was lying in bed suffering from a headache, unaware of what was happening. A while later, they shook me awake. And soon after, we finally realized that Saphire had in fact been kidnapped. Panic. Panic of proportions that the streets of Lincolnshire had ever seen. The sorceress’s son had been kidnapped. Such news always spreads faster than required. Once Lincolnshire had been turned inside out whilst looking for the kidnapper and no clues came into focus, the top warriors of lore were dispatched to every corner of Questa. Artimis unleashed all his forces to look for the baby. Tybolt, a legendary paladin, top guardian of the Guardian tower, and his legion of paladins were dispatched in a hunt after a shady person who just didn’t look right while carrying a baby... The search went on for long days and sleepless nights. A baby born to a sorceress and that too to the sorceress Zeldina was a very important baby. It would grow up to have powers and a destiny that may even decide the fate of Questa. Saving this baby from the kidnapper was not only necessary. It was nothing less than the duty of every single man in Questa. Warriors and mages flooded into towns hoping that they would be the ones who captured the kidnapper and brought back the good news. And it wasn’t all about the prize gold, though it could easily have been. Artimis himself had put promised bags and bags of gold to the one who rescued Saphire. All the searchers involved in this great manhunt had a kind of love for this baby. Even if they had never even seen him, not once. But all efforts aside, no good news ever came up. The kidnapper had left no signs or clues. It was like he had disappeared from the face of Questa itself. The greatest manhunt in the history of Questa was on the brink of failure. Reports of failure came from east, west, south and north. Forests had been searched clean. And to tell you the truth, a few new species were discovered during the search. Rivers had been rowed down and some of

the warriors had turned into pretty good swimmers. So many people were interrogated that it had become hard to keep track of who had already been questioned. All in vain though, no clues that lead up to Saphire. By now, everyone had reached a point where it all felt hopeless. Artimis himself had admitted that there was not much sense in continuing was not being able to find the man. With no other options left, we had to turn to the final choice. Cyrus. Before bringing in what Cyrus did to help, let me tell you why Cyrus was a final choice. Cyrus was more commonly known as the mad weapon smith. He was eccentric, clumsy, happy go lucky and lazy. A perfect image of person, who parents would not want their kids to be. He was also a freak inventor and scientist. Cyrus had come back to the land of Questa only around 2 years ago. He had disappeared for a long time before that. According to him, he had built some sort of a machine which enabled him to travel between different worlds. He claimed that he had went to a place where machines had become more powerful than even a man. A place, where life had become much more accurate and easy. He had even brought back a few machines that he showed off with pride. We of course, know better than to get looped into one of his stories. But, at a time such as this, when magic and manpower had failed, he was the only one we could turn to. Artimis contacted him and Cyrus agreed to help without any hesitation. When Cyrus arrived in Lincolnshire, he knocked over the pedestal and beheaded king Zaerius the first. I mean his statue. Cyrus, unloaded his bags and set up his machine. A kind of box with this circular disc on it that kept making an odd sound at equal time intervals. It also had this box which you could see through. Inside this box was a weird diagram which Cyrus claimed was how Questa looked. A kind of beam kept washing over this diagram. And at the bottom of this board, there were around twenty or so square buttons of different colors. He let his fingers race across buttons. Within a few minutes he said he had the location and said that the person who had kidnapped Saphire was en route towards the Armour Villa in the north. We were left dumbfounded. Spending days and nights looking for this man, we had come up with no results. Cyrus though was able to find him within a few minutes. Maybe we were wrong about his machines after all. You must have guessed that once it was found out where the kidnapper was headed, there was a whole group of warriors marching towards Armour villa. Horses were ran through the Gren Forest, hooves crushing the forest floor without stopping. Not once. Tybolt, who was faster than even horses, ran ahead… It was night time when Tybolt reached the sprawling villa constructed using black marble. The fence was barbed and the lawn behind it seemed like a timeless stretch of green. There were trees, no leaves though. All the snow that should have surrounded the mansion hadn’t. Instead it fell neatly outside the fence. That’s right, magical weather control. And top of the mansion were two flags. A blue flag with a classic warrior’s armor on it, colored black. This one represented the Armour family. The black armor on the blue background was their symbol. Another red and tattered flag hung right next to the blue one. This had a skull drawn on to it. This skull was up in flames, black ones licking the black skull through the eye sockets, the mouth and over the top of the head. The symbol of the Drydenblood Empire. And finally, Tybolt saw him. The man who had kidnapped Saphire was almost at the door of the villa. Tybolt rushed forward as the man reached the door. The door creaked open... Tybolt jumped the fence...

A shady character appeared at the door... Tybolt drew his holy axe... The hooded man handed Saphire to the person inside the door... Tybolt lunged at the blanket in which the baby was wrapped... Bang! The door slammed shut. Tybolt and kidnapper found themselves forced into the air and whacked out of the fence surrounding the villa by a kind of invisible force field. The kidnapper landed right next to Tybolt. The group of warriors that Artimis was leading could be heard in the distance now. It sounded like they were just at the foot of the hill on which Armour villa stood. The kidnapper leaped off his back and landed on his legs. But before he could run, Tybolt grabbed him and slammed him back to the ground. A back crunching crash. Both of them jump onto their feet again and attempted a kick to each other’s face. Their feet collided in mid air. A blast of dust shot from the collision as the weapons came out. The kidnapper drew a simple knife. While Tybolt had his magical holy axe. Tybolt was the first to attack. His axe was nothing more than a gold and silver colored swish in the air. The man though was not a fool, he was quick enough to draw his knife, duck the attack, grab the axe and pin Tybolt to the ground with a knife at his throat. Quick and strong. Tybolt kept struggling against the pin as the warriors arrived and started to surround the duo. Now if you are thinking that the man was captured and interrogated by the warriors, think again. “Back off! Or the paladin gets it” The man shouted at the warriors. “Easy now, just_” Artimis began but the man cut in before he could finish. “SHUT UP MAGE! Put down your staff! Or I’ll set half of these weak, lame paladins on fire” “Pfft, I doubt it. Controlling the element fire is not child’s play you know” “Don’t say I didn’t warn you”...he freed the hand he was using to pin Tybolt replacing it with his leg. He raised his arm, palm facing the army...The pained focus was visible on his face as he screamed “Jalao!” Suddenly half of the legions of warriors present in the chase were on fire. Pure blue flames licked their Armours and skin, until_ “Paani!” Artimis shouted pointing at the space over the burning warriors. “Ok ok...we’ll cooperate.” He nodded to the warriors, who weren’t burning anymore. Instead they seemed to be drenched in ice cold water, which they didn’t look so pleased about either. Hey it was snowing you can’t blame them for wanting to be dry. “Good” the kidnapper said in a gruff and hoarse voice. “ Now, I want you to stay back. Not one step towards me or else..” He said and brought the knife closer to Tybolt’s throat. He chanted a short line and then the guy disappeared in a cloud of blue and black. Tybolt stood up slowly,

rubbing the back of his neck. He tried to avoid the other’s eyes. He was after all the most accomplished warrior in Lincolnshire other than Artimis. Being defeated and held as a hostage like that must really have made him feel horrible. “Well, at least we know they cannot kill him. You can’t kill a sorceress’s son unless he dies in a fight.” Said Artimis. “I am more afraid of what they’ll do to his mind, and even more of the person who now has Saphire in his hands.” Tybolt shot back “I will get together with Cyrus and try to figure out a way past the protective force field. I don’t know how the Armours got such magical abilities again. They were only surviving with the help of their filthy pieces of gold since he disappeared. And as much as I hope I am wrong I fear that the real owner of Armour villa has come home.” Artimis said to no one in particular but managed to scare everyone within earshot. Drakus’s evil reign over half of Questa had ended about a month ago with his disappearance. A couple of days after Zeldina had handed me baby Saphire. He had disappeared from the Armour castle near the Partovian coastline Until now at least… Artimis and Tybolt think he is back and has Saphire in his hands. Back to the story...neither Artimis nor Cyrus managed to get into the mansion after weeks of attempting forgotten spells and unknown machines. The defenses surrounding Armour villa didn’t only prove difficult to break. Rather impossible. Artimis and Cyrus spent almost a month attacking the force field with all sorts of spells and machines. Cyrus went away saying he will return in a few days with a better machine that he thought will help. He disappeared after that and has not come back. Artimis had to give up to one day. He had to settle by setting up a group of warriors that would camp outside the mansion until Saphire returned to my inn safely. It was their responsibility to ensure that. Until then they would wait for a break in the villa’s defenses. And do their best to protect Saphire, how they would do the latter, I had no idea. And I knew the camping soldiers had none either. He didn’t. People tossed stones at him. Mud was kicked at him when he walked past. No one cared to throw him a slice of bread. He was left out in the cold, hungry and lonely. He had given up hope until one day a chance came for him to do something good. I do not remember the details, but I think he saved King Zaerius the First’s life somehow. The king was overjoyed with the young lad. By this time, Drakus was eighteen or so. He started serving the king as a knight. A few years later, he fell in love with a young witch. They are the exact same as sorceresses except, they practice dark magic. Soon though, the king died. There had been a battle in Morpheous Island. Drakus, was hoping to be crowned the next king. Sadly for him, the king’s son became the new ruler. Drakus was accused of murdering the king. The people attacked him and drove him out of Goldray. That day on Drakus swore to get his revenge. He murdered the prince and many of the people in town. He used his magic to set the entire town on fire. After this, the witch left him. He went back to get her but she was furious with his actions.

He became ruthless and cruel. Evil even. I wish not to describe the sins he committed later, some are too gruesome others are too foul for words. Any way he returned to the Armour family. But when he had went away he had broken his connection to the Armours. He was no more a true member of the Armour family. Now, I will get back to Christen’s story. Christen, met with the same witch Drakus had been in love with, Zelda. They fell in love with each other. Unfortunately, Drakus found out about this. He was furious and jealous. He tracked Christen down and murdered him in a way so horrible that I try not to even think of it, forget speaking. Zelda, luckily escaped. Drakus told everyone that Christen was killed in a duel with someone. Morgran, the eldest of the three, too had been in love. Although he didn’t get killed for it. He was in love with Zeldina, the sorceress and also my sister. Morgran and Zeldina are your parents Saphire. Anyway, Sybroden returned soon enough. He said he was proud that Christen had died in a duel. Although if he hadn’t died, he would kill him himself for having lost. Pretty soon, Gustavor attacked Zurind. The fierce war raged for days. In the end, the Rubids were defeated by the might of the Drakonir blade. But, Sybroden was murdered by during the battle. Drakus murdered him because he was hoping he would get the Drakonir blade. Gustavor Sae fulfilled his ambition. He turned the Shadow Liches into Necromancers. But, he lost his life during this. This left Adelide the 1st to rule the Drydenblood. She was in a horrible state at her father’s death. So she handed rule of Zurind over to Drakus, who accepted the duty without second or even first thoughts. Drakus was hoping he would get the Drakonir blade. He didn’t. Morgran received the sword from his father. Drakus was devastated. And proving your guess right. Well, that is, if you guessed that Drakus’s going to go kill Morgran, then yes, you guessed right. Drakus was hoping that by killing your father, he would get the riches and the sword. Unfortunately for him, Morgran had already sealed the sword away in the Armour’s vault. The thing about this vault is that it only opens to a true Armour. If you recall that Drakus had run away you will realize that was no more a true Armour. He kept at trying to figure out some way to get the vault open. And he found his answer. You were his answer Saphire. He realized that Zeldina had given birth to Morgran’s son. He was going to use you to open the vault and get to its contents. Zeldina was not a fool though. She evaded him for almost a whole year. One day, she came here, to Lincolnshire. She told me about everything that had happened. She also said that she could feel her death approaching. We sorcerers can feel things like that. So I suggested that she leave should leave her baby in Brutus’s care and just go face Drakus. She agreed to this. I told her I would help her but she wanted me to protect her baby at all times. I failed at that too. Anyway, she did as I instructed. She met with Drakus. The fight was legendary. Even if they were fighting in the upper reaches of Snowleopard Mountains, explosions from their spells could be heard from here in Lincolnshire. I found out a while later that my daughter had passed on. Killed by Drakus. But she managed to seal Drakus away with a spell for thirteen years.

But you were kidnapped on your by first birthday Saphire. We don’t know by whom. We tracked the kidnapper down to Armour Villa. By the time we could save you though, He had already handed you over to a resident of Armour Villa. We assumed that Drakus. Soon though we realized we were wrong. That was your nana. Your nana and Grandmother a had received instructions from Drakus. Do not let him out of this house. I need him safe. That’s why you had been locked in for so many years. As to the kidnappers’ identity I think it was the work of a Drydenblood ruler. That is all I know.” I sat there holding the handles of my chair so hard that they had cracks. My eyes were wet. I recalled that Drakus had killed my entire family. My Grandmother, Grandfather, Uncle, my father and even my mother. “Relax Saph, calm down. The truth hurts a lot of times. But we just have to accept it.” Shawn said putting an arm on my shoulder. “All he needed to do was ask. Just ask for what he wanted. Instead of going and murdering everyone.” I told him. “You have already gotten your revenge Saph. There’s no point just getting sad over it now. You wanted answers, you got them. Just put your past behind you now.” I nodded at him. I stood up and thanked Artimis for his time. And I walked out the door.

Chapter 12: Everyone hates me
I walked back into the garden feeling red eyed and tired. “Shawn” “Hm?” “I just remembered. Back on that prison tower in Armour village. Before we fought that hooded person, you said you don’t want to meet him again.” “I’ll tell you about it once we get back to Brutus’s inn.” He said. We walked up to the fountain in the centre.

“Well. Well. Well. What do we have here” Someone said from behind us. “A little favorite of Master Artimis. Or did he make you clean up his office?” I turned back to face a guy, no wait, a girl, uh…he is dressed like a guy. I assumed it was a guy. Anyway, he wore a black full shirt and black trousers. A sword was dangling from his hip. His skin was a pale shade of brown. His small beady eyes were weighed down by bushy black hair. His hair was neatly combed backwards to reveal an average size forehead. His mouth was curled in a proud grin and his nose looked like it had been punched a lot of times. “Who are you?” I asked. “I’m Alicia’s son. Dravis” “Son right? Ok I’ll remember.” I told him. “And what were you on about behind us?” “Saphire Arvitr. Master Artimis doesn’t invite anyone and everyone into his office. What’s so special about you that he called for you?” “And I should tell you this because……” “Because you look like you were born to a bitch. And raised by a werewolf. The likes of you do not deserve to even look at this place much less walk in it.” “Jealous Dravis?” A female voice said. A girl in purple and black robes walked over. She had purple hair which was quite surprising. It was long and untied. Her elegant eyes were also a deep shade of purple. Her beautiful face showed a kind of teasing expression. “Jealous? Of this scum? I would rath_” The abrupt ending to the sentence was because Shawn punched him in the face. “Say scum again and I’ll pull your teeth out.” Shawn yelled at Dravis. “You really shouldn’t have done that.” The girl said. She raised her hand and said “Dresta Savio”. I didn’t understand her one bit. Although I heard a few gasps around the garden. A black kind of fire started to engulf Shawn. He began to scream. The fire kept licking at him and his screams just increased in the amount of pain they resembled. “STOP IT” I shouted at the girl but she had a sort of evil and maniacal smile on her face and didn’t pay any heed to me. I steeped towards her ready to pound her face in if she didn’t stop. Before I got to her though, Dravis grabbed me by the leg and yanked me upside down. He was laughing. And that angered me all the more. I used me free leg to kick him in the face. He let go of my leg and grasped his cheek. I back flipped with my hands and got to my feet. He drew his sword and rushed back at me. I easily caught hold of his sword arm and squeezed it so hard that he dropped the sword. He fell to his knees trying to free his hand from my grasp. I threw him across the garden and he crashed into tree and fell to the ground. He lay there whimpering. Five or six guys rushed at me. They all looked big and scary. But they had no skill. The first one tried to

knock me out with a right hook. I ducked and kicked another who tried to approach me from behind. A third tried to grab me but only grasped my arm. The first one who had attached tried to punch me again but I dodged easily and he squashed his friend’s nose. I kicked him in the private region before the last two rushed at me. I threw the guy who was holding me at them. He was heavy enough to pin them both. Then lightning struck. Literally. One of the mages cast a spell at me and blasted me halfway across the garden. A few more mages came and enclosed me in a circle of death. I had no time to try and fight them. Shawn’s screams were starting to die out. I tried to rush out but was blasted again. I stood up and again got blasted. Next time I stood, I dodged the spell and almost escaped the circle but was frizzed from behind. I was getting really angry. This time, I didn’t get up. At least I didn’t try to. When I fell, I skidded across the grass and stopped in the centre of the garden. I was too tired to move but my body got up on its own accord. A kind of weird and crazy power started to brew inside of me. It wasn’t the same feeling I had had when I first felt magic in me. This was different. The power that was growing in me right now felt dark, dangerous and evil. It started to keep growing like fire, it was spreading, spreading through me. I knew that I would explode if I didn’t release this power. No I didn’t have gas. This was the real deal. I grasped myself. Hoping to control the shredding pain erupting inside. It didn’t work. Not one bit. The mages though hadn’t stopped attacking. I was feeling pain on the inside and outside of my body. How could it still be in one piece? I rolled up into a kind of cocoon and lack colored light started to emanate from my birth mark. Before I knew it, I was enclosed in a kind of sphere made of dark energy. The pain was still immense on the inside. Although, the spells which I was being bombarded with were now just shattering against the outer wall of my sphere. I opened my eyes and caught a glimpse of Shawn. His body was a mess of tattered clothes. Blood was gushing from hundreds of wounds. The worst part of it was the expression on his face. Like a face that couldn’t experience any more pain. It almost looked like the face of Mr. Death. I was boiling up with rage. We had done nothing to these people. They had started the fight for no reason. I looked around and saw smiling faces. I was about to make sure that those faces never show a smile again. Without actually trying to, I rose of the ground still curled up. I rose to a small height. Then I roared. I threw my arms and legs and torso in opposite directions. And roared at the sky. The black sphere around me shattered and pulses of dark magic radiated from the mark on my torso which was glowing black. Once I stopped the attack, I looked around at the circle of mages. They were a mess of bones and flesh. I flew at the girl who had been torturing Shawn. Without saying a spell, I blasted her into the air. A kind of sword formed in my hand. It wasn’t your regular and solid sword. It was made of pure dark magic. I slashed with my sword and the girl got hit even though she should have been out of range. She flew higher because of this blast. I controlled my flight to an altitude higher than hers and then threw my sword at her. The shock wave that exploded from her after impact caused all the windows lining the Guardian Tower’s third and fourth floor to shatter since we were at that height. I think the walls cracked at bit too. She crashed into the ground. I turned to Shawn and said heal. A fireball shot towards him and engulfed him

in a black glow. I knew the spell would work. I was hovering over the gardens when I lost the magic again. It didn’t drain out as slowly as it came. It lasted for a few seconds and then it was gone. I fell towards the ground. I was about to break a few bones when; “Levitate.” Artimis himself had come out. He looked furious. “What is the meaning of this??!” He barked at the students in the garden. “He started it.” One of the students said pointing at me. “Is that so? Can you tell me what he did?” “He….He attacked Dravis for no reason. And didn’t stop once he was done with him. He murdered around six or seven mage students. And then he_” “You are lying. I am a sorcerer with over a hundred years of experience. I am not deceived very easily.” “Artimis, I am leaving. I don’t want to stay in this place any more. I don’t know where but I am going to leave. If not right now, then as soon as possible.” Artimis sighed. “ You may do as you wish to Saphire. I will not stop you. I will ask you to leave Shawn here for a few days though. Let him heal.” I nodded and stormed out of the Guardian Tower gates. **** The carriage took me back to Brutus’s Inn. I walked into the inn and ran up the stairs. I heard Brutus shout something about soup but I slammed the door behind me. I crashed onto the bed. I lay back and put my hands behind my head. I was staring at the wooden roof and thinking about what I had just done. I had performed magic. I was sure of that. And this magic made me feel good and powerful. It wasn’t your regular magic, it was dangerous and deadly. I had so easily killed six or seven trained mages. I closed my eyes and sighed. Images of their skin burning off and then the flesh and leaving behind bones. Some of which were still on fire. I yanked my eyes open. I sat up and raised my arm. I faced my palm towards a pile of books on a table. “Levitate.” I hadn’t expected it to work. It didn’t. I tried again and again. It was quite lame but I was desperate. I heard knocking on my door. It was Brutus he said that Alica has come down and wishes to speak to me. I nodded and slowly pulled myself off the bed. As I dragged myself across the room, I kept thinking about how dum I would have looked pointing at a book and shouting “levitate”. And Brutus, who was shaking so hard trying to control his laughter, didn’t help.

I wasn’t too worried about what Alica had come to talk about. Maybe warn me about picking a fight again with her. Most probably she was going to return Scythe and say she wouldn’t care for of him. Like that matters. I reached the ground floor to find Alica laughing at a joke with Borin. I never really thought about it but when I realized ‘Borin’ had told a joke, it just felt ironic. “Saphire Arvitr.” Alica exclaimed when she saw me. “I heard all about your brawl with the Dravis and his friends.. “Yeah. So…” “I’m quite happy that you beat him actually. You know he’s been getting quite out of hand. No one of his age is very good at battle. He’s been quite proud and like you bullying his friends. And now that you have come as a challenge to him, I think it’s good. He will maybe come under control now.” “I am not here to help you settle your parental problems. I did not even start the fight. It was_” “Details. Details. I just came over to say thank you. Alright.” She cut in. “DRAVIS” she shouted. Dravis walked in. he was still dressed similarly. He had a few bruises on his face. He gave me an evil look and then faced his mother. “I want you to befriend Saphire Arvitr.” “No.” He said and walked towards the door. At the door, he turned. He pointed at me with two of his fingers, like a gun. “BANG!” He said and jerked his hand backwards. Then he just turned and backed out of the inn. “Don’t mind him. Really.” Alica apologized. “Just relax ok. Oh! And please be more careful with your Alchemy. Lucky Artimis was an alchemist. Or you could be in quite a bit of trouble.” I nodded and turned. I was just about to turn back and walk away when I thought I should tell Alica the truth. “It wasn’t alchemy.” I said. “It was magic. I don’t know if it was dark magic. I think it was. I am sorry.” I ran back to my room before Alica could say anything. I lied down on my bed and slept. I woke up late in the night when someone was knocking on the door. It was Shawn. He looked pretty shook up. His hair was messier than usual. His eyes looked red and tired. “It’s Dravis.” He said. “He wants to settle the fight once and for all. He said to grab a sword or whatever weapon you want and meet him down behind the guardian tower.” I will be honest. I was hoping to have this face of as soon as possible. I washed my face and grabbed a sword from downstairs. Shawn did the same but I stopped him. “You are not coming. You are hurt and Artimis just fixed you up.” He didn’t argue too much. Basically because when I just tapped him on his arm his eyes started to tear up. Once I made sure he was back in the room, I quietly stepped out of the inn. The weather was extremely cold. Snow was falling and the atmosphere was spooky. Once I even saw a hooded person standing in an alleyway looking at me. I just moved on.

I kept seeing the hooded person everywhere. I tried to ignore it but I felt extremely uncomfortable. I reached the Guardian tower after a long walk. I looked up at the third, fourth and fifth floor; they looked even more creepy and spooky than before. At an instance, I thought I heard screaming. I jumped easily over the compound and found Dravis waiting there. He saw me and smirked. “Hello.” He said. “The filth has finally crawled out. Let’s make this quick. I am going to kill you now. Defend yourself if you think you have a chance. Although, I will warn you that it is pointless.” I didn’t say anything. I simple drew my sword. “The weak and dumb type I see. Well that’s what I would expect from a pitiful fool like you. Garbage like you should know it’s place. Just because you were able to perform alchemy doesn’t mean you are the king of the world. Don’t be too proud. You are crap so know your place.” “If you are done talking, maybe you can pick up a sword now.” I said. His temper fuse blew and he rushed at me while pulling his sword out of its sheath. He swung at me wildly. I easily dodged his sashes. I kept taunting him and laughing at his lame skill with the sword. “Even if I give a monkey a sword, it will do better than you.” …… “You are trying to hit me and not swat flies right? …… “HA HA HEH HE HA HE” ……. “Stop laughing at me scum. Your mother and father must have been lizards. You must have inherited their slimy skills. You family must be full of scum. Filthy beggars.” That’s when he crossed the line. I grabbed his hand in mid slash and punched him across the face with my other arm. “Show some respect (BEEP!). You are talking to Saphire Armour! Watch your filthy mouth.” Shock shot across his face and fear followed. Before he could say anything more, I kicked him in the stomach and sent him flying. He crashed into a tree trunk and sunk to the ground. He forced himself to his feet. Pain and terror clearly showing on his face. His eyes were starting to tear up. Dravis’s fear must have clouded his judgment. The fool rushed at me his sword was positioned over his head. I knew he was going to try to cut me half by swinging it downwards. I took position and placed my sword near my abdomen. I was going to make our swords meet diagonally. And I was going to make sure I use enough force to put Dravis in his place. He jumped the last few steps and brought his sword down. It didn’t come all the way down. Not in one piece at least. One powerful stroke with my blade and his broke into two. I stepped inside his guard and gave him

a hard punch to the stomach. He fell to his knees whimpering with pain. He dropped whatever was left of his blade at fell at my knees. His pain seemed to ease out soon enough. Dravis though was obviously a coward. He was too scared to get up. He kept opening his eyes and closing them. Suddenly, I heard the rushing of air behind me. I didn’t have enough time to dodge the club. It hit me on my neck and I flew a few feet and crashed into the snow. I got back up and saw around ten or so of Dravis’s friends armored and equipped with swords, spears and clubs. “You wonf beaf Dravis” one of the fat guys said.” We’ll make sure of fath.” I stood back up. “The snow here is gonna be tinted red after this battle Saphire Armour. And that is going to be your blood. You humiliated me so you have to die.” Dravis said. “Get him.” The fat guy with the club ran in. I was trying hard not to laugh but when he fell over rolled at me, I couldn’t control myself. I knocked the guy out easily with a karate chop to the neck. Then all the other rushed at me. One thing Dravis said was true the snow was going to be tinted red. But another thing he said was false, it was not going to be my blood. It was going to be the blood of his companions. I cut open two of them who reached me first with my sword. I whacked the next guy with my foot. I spun to dodge a spear and caught a club which had come in my direction. I pulled the club and it’s owner towards me and whacked him with my head. I swung my sword wildly and cut off the spear guy’s head. The others stopped once I did this. There were three people left other than Dravis. They hightailed it out of the clearing and into town. “So you are Saphire Armour.” I turned around to face the girl who had been torturing Shawn. She was wearing a hooded cloak. “Have you been stalking me?” I asked remembering the many times I saw hooded people staring at me. “Yes”. She replied. “And you are stalking me because….” I said. “Because you lied about your identity. I figured out you were an Armour. I just wanted to make sure. And you yelling that at Dravis was helpful.” I was shocked and frozen on the spot. Both literally and metaphorically… “How did you arrive at that stupid conclusion?” I asked trying to make her rethink her judgment. “I am not a fool Saphire Armour.” She shot back. “And yes I know for sure that you are Saphire Armour.” Thinking of nothing else to say, I said, “No. I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.” “No. I’m not.” “Yes, you are.” “No. I’m not.” “Yes, you are.” “No. I’m not.” “YES! YOU ARE! YOU ARE SAPHIRE ARMOUR THERE’S NO POINT DENYING IT!” “Ok. Ok. Fine I admit I am.” I said lamely. “But I am not about to trust you, not after the way you tried to kill Shawn.” “I cannot explain why I did that. I will not. Just understand that sometimes, magic just takes over my mind and I lose control.” She said. She almost sounded desperate. “Something similar to me at the garden. Whatever magic I did, I didn’t do it on purpose. It just happened by itself. Like some kind of power just took over me.” “Were you able to keep control and direct that magic?” She asked stepping towards her fallen class mates. “Heal” She said pointing at them. As their gashes closed up, I answered her question truthfully, “Not completely. I mean I was able to do what I wanted to do, blast those mage students and then stop you from attacking Shawn.” “So that’s his name.” She said. “Anyways, I don’t think that that power completely took over me or possessed me. I felt that I was still it’s master.” “That’s peculiar.” She said staring at me with those purple eyes. “Can you come with me? I want you to meet someone.” “Who?” I asked, curious but careful. “Please, just come with me. I think that this person will help under your magical problem.” “Why are you so concerned about this problem?” “…..that is none of your business.” She said. “Well, in that case, I will see you around. Good Bye.” I said and started to walk away. I deliberately walked slowly. I was actually interested in going and meeting this person. It didn’t take too long for her to give in though. I turned with a cocky smile on my face. “Wait……Fine. I’ll tell you. I really shouldn’t be revealing this but….I don’t really have a choice right now do I?” “I’m listening I said turning back to her.” Before she could even start explaining, I heard two terrible screams from the other side of the guardian tower’s stone compound. Then I heard an angry crowd.

I turned back to the girl and she motioned towards the woods. We ran in before we could get seen. I turned back at the last minute and saw Dravis leading a mob towards his fallen comrades. They were not fully healed yet. I realized the trick Dravis had played on me. I bolted into the woods after the girl. She turned back and said, “By the way, I am Floina.”

Chapter 13: On to Tradesville
The snow was treacherous and slowed us down terribly. Floina was falling behind after about five minutes. I told her she was slower than a tree. She got angry and turned me into a tree, for a few minutes so she could catch her breath. I watched my mouth from then on. I was surprised as to how much time I got to crib about my life as a tree. I had spent like a month outside Armour Villa, which I had been locked in for thirteen years. And within such a short time, I had managed to become a known criminal. Remember that problems list I told you about back in Armour Village? Yeah, I really need to find a proper spot for it cause I need it all the time. When Floina finally felt that we were far enough into the cold woods of Guardian Forest, she cleared a spot for us to sit. The snow was pushed away in a big circle and a campfire formed by itself. I sat down and warmed myself up. “Ok. You better get explaining about whatever it is you want to explain.” I told her. “You see, I am from the Island of Xala.”

“Oh! You mean Island of Enris?” I said getting a vague recognition from a map of Questa I had seen somewhere.” “IT IS THE ISLAND OF XALA AND YOU REMEMBER IT! THOSE ENRISIANS ARE INVADERS WHO TOOK PART OF OUR LAND. MARK MY WORDS WE WILL SEND THEM PACKING ONE DAY!” I don’t know why she was shouting at me. I didn’t bother asking. “Ok….” “Anyways, you must be familiar with the rule of Magical Family Life.” “The what?” “Magical Family Life, the rule that prevents a member of a family that is associated with magic from killing another of his or her family members?” “Does that mean…” “Yeah, it does. I am an Arm too” I do not really know what she said. ‘Being an Arm’ didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Basically because once she told me that rule, I lost stopped listening to her. If this rule was true then, I had been lied to by everyone. Everyone said that Drakus had killed my parents, grandparents and uncles. But then he was an Armour too. How did he pass through this law. I must have been thinking aloud because, Floain said, “No Saphire. It’s true that Drakus killed your mom and dad and everyone else. But you forgot that Drakus was not a true Armour family member. His actions were not bounded by family rules.” “Ok then.” I said. I believed her because it was logical. “So why did you bring me out here to tell me that?” “You aren’t the least bit surprised?” “Well….I suppose the Magic family rule thing was good to know but I wasn’t planning to kill any member of my family so, it doesn’t matter so much.” “NOT THAT YOU DUM PIG! I was talking about me being an Armour!” I sat there staring at her face. I was dumb founded. Out of nowhere suddenly someone just comes and says, ‘I belong to the Armour Family, one of the most magical, dangerous and powerful families in all of Questa.’ “Aren’t you gonna say anything?” She said. “Uhhh….Great..Awesome….so ….How exactly are you an Armour?” “I knew that I belonged to the Armour family a while ago. Someone told me that already. I figured out that you were an Armour family member in the Guardian Tower garden. That bit of magic you performed there, that was deadly dark magic. Especially the part you attacked me with. But I didn’t die. Applying the rule I just told you about, you being an Armour too was the only possible conclusion.” I nodded. But there was one thing bothering me that she hadn’t answered. In fact she had told me stuff I couldn’t care less about. “How do I have the ability to do dark magic?”

“That’s what I came here to talk to you about. I told you about me being an Armour I thought you would trust me more then.” “I trust you lesser than I used to now.” “Yea, I suppose. But then you don’t have too much of a choice now. Everyone thinks you are a murderer.” “Fine. Anyways, you said something about someone who will help me figure out how and why I can do dark magic.” “Yes, I was talking about Zelda.” “YOU MEAN ZELDA THE WITCH???! The same one who Drakus loved. And then she left him and fell in love the uncle Christen?????!” “Nope I don’t mean her. I was talking about someone else.” “Oh! Ok then.” “OF COURSE I MEAN HER!” “Oh! Ok then. Where do we go to meet her?” “Island of Xala.” “All the way there???!” “Yeah. Go let Shawn and Artimis know. I’ll prepare the horses and I know a place by the coast that will provide us a boat. Meet me outside the Lincolnshire.” “Ok. Give me half an hour or so. I will be there by then.” “Ok. Hurry.” I nodded and had some water which Floain conjured up. I sprinted like a madman. My legs were definitely smoking due to the speed. I knew I had to be fast. Basically because everyone in Lincolnshire had surely been informed about how the blood thirsty Saphire hunted down Dravis and his friends to extract his revenge. I knew that if I was spotted, I would be dragged into a fight. Upon reaching Guardian Tower, I climbed up to Artimis’s office balcony. To my surprise, the ghostly image of Zeldina stopped me from entering again. After she checked that I was not carrying any ill will against Artimis, she let me pull the door open. Artimis was pacing the room. He seemed worried. “It’s ok. I’m alright.” I said before he spotted me. Artimis seemed to return to his real age from being an old man upon seeing me. “Saphire! I am so glad you are safe. You do know the story spreading across this town don’t you?” “Yea, I do, I don’t have enough time to explain. I am going to get out of this town as quickly as possible. Just wanted to let you know that I am headed to Xala Island with Floina. She’s a student in this castle.” Artimis was smiling at me. I told him that there was no need to smile. She was just helping me because she was an Armour family

member just like I was. He nodded and wiped his smile off his face. I just realized then how young Artimis was. I always looked at him as a wise and strong person. Only then did I realize that he was still a man in his thirties who still liked a joke. I waved bye to him and jumped off the balcony. One step on the wall. Another on the pipe. Jump. Land while sliding. No I didn’t crash this time. I smiled after my successful landing, I smiled. I recalled a similar plan I had made while trying to escape from Armour villa. I had landed with my face. I felt proud of how much more athletic I had become. I was standing in a dark alleyway near Brutus’s inn. People had crowded around the entrance. Brutus was blocking them from entering the inn. He was shouting at them that he didn’t believe a word of it. That I would never attack anyone. Only his size seemed to be keeping the people from burning the place. I bolted as swiftly and silently as possible towards a side of the inn which seemed easy to climb. I managed to avoid being spotted as I rolled into the first floor corridor. I pushed open the door to mine and Shawn’s room to find him sitting on the bed with both hands on his ears. The poor guy to be mentally disturbed about all the screaming and shouting. “Shawn?” I said. He looked up at me with those red eyes. I saw hatred in them. “WHY DON’T THOSE BASTARDS SHUT THE (BEEP!) UP??!” He shouted. “Shawn, relax. It’s gonna stop soon. I am leaving.” “What?” “I need to go to Xala Islands as soon as possible. Stay here. Artimis will explain whatever questions you’ve had.” I grabbed my bag in silence. I stuffed it with clothes. I ran down to the inn’s weaponry and grabbed the best sword I could find. That’s the only weapon I took. The sword had a golden colored hilt. A sapphire was fitted under the blade. Black colored gems ran along the middle of the sharp blade. I found its sheath soon and strapped it around my waist. Shawn had brought my clothes bag down. He was looking more tired and weak than I had ever seen him before. He handed me the bag. Then he handed me a belt with some throwing knives strapped on to it. “Consider it a gift.” He said. “Thanks man. I’ll be back in a few weeks.” I hugged him. It was the first time I had gotten so emotional on parting with someone. I just wished that I knew then that this would be the last time that I hugged Shawn. I smiled at him and snuck out giving Brutus a glimpse of myself and telling him in sign language to keep the crowd distracted. I bolted towards the Lincolnshire gates. My bag slowed me down. I was almost at the gates when I remembered someone. Scythe.

I tightened my bag onto my back and bolted towards the pet shop. I ducked into the alleyway when I saw someone at the pet shop door. It was Tybolt and Borin. “ALICA! OPEN THE DOOR!” Tybolt yelled banging on the door. “WHAT?? MY SON IS DEVASTATED AND I CANNOT HAVE CUSTOMERS NOW.” “We don’t want to buy your filthy animals. We want to execute one.” Borin cut in. “What?” “We want you to hand over Saphire's pet Scythe. We are going to execute that terror. It belongs to a murderer., who knows what guy has taught it.” “You want to kill that Darkwolf? Be my guest. I think I don’t mind taking my anger out on that filthy animal. Come in.” They left the door open as they stormed in. I sneaked up and peeped inside. Rage was boiling inside me. Tybolt and Borin. People who I had trusted so much without doubt. They had betrayed me without a second thought. Alicia’s servants were dragging Scythe into the hall. Around ten of them were struggling with the ropes. Scythe’s mouth was clamped shut and ropes were tied to an incredibly uncomfortable looking leash. I I was boiling up. But I knew quite well that it was pointless to rush in. I drew a few throwing knives from the belt Shawn had given me. I was ready to kill whoever was going to raise a blade against Scythe. The men held him in place and Borin stepped forward. He drew a long sword and raised it over Scythe’s head. That’s when I made my move. I jumped into the shop and in mid-air, I threw all the knives in my hand. Most of them stabbed people in the leg. Borin’s thigh was sprouting one too. He dropped the blade. Scythe saw me and started to struggle harder. Around two or three guys were not down and screaming in pain. Tybolt was still standing too. Tybolt rushed at me and the others kept struggling with Scythe. I side-stepped at Tybolt's punch. He tried to switch into a kick but I met his foot with mine. I leaped in the air and gave him a spinning kick to the face. He almost fell but he used a pretty smart move. He shifted on to his toes and spun giving me a proper and hard kick to the side. I crashed into the wall. Tybolt rushed after me with a raised fist. I stepped backwards and grabbed his hand. I locked it and pounded his face in. I then threw him out the window. Seriously. He crashed through the glass and wood. I would have been really annoyed if he walked back in through the door. He didn’t. Shawn had managed to throw off the men who were trying to control him. They lay in their blood. I walked over to Scythe and ripped his mouth cover off. He barked and licked me so much I was soaked. I smiled and brought him under control. Alica was staring at me with her arms crossed.

“You are not going to get away. I’ll make sure they catch you and execute you.” She said. I drew a few gold coins out of my pocket and threw them at her face. “Thanks for taking such good care of Scythe.” Then I hopped onto Scythe and he bolted into the streets. We were out of Lincolnshire before I could even tell him where to go. I saw Floina waiting for me a bit south from the path. Once I told him where to go, Scythe shot towards her. She looked scared when I arrived on Scythe but I knew she would get used to him pretty soon. As it turned out later, I was wrong. Scythe hated Floina and vice verse. She had her own horse and the one she had brought for me ended up carrying our bags. There wasn’t a lot of stuff so don’t feel too sorry for it. It was definitely luckier than the one Floina was riding. If you know what I mean. By sunrise, we hadn’t exchanged a lot of words but had surely covered a lot of distance because I was staring at the mighty blue sea from a cliff a few miles from the beach. “We’re going to cross those waters if we are going to get to Xala.” “Yeah. I know.”

We were by the beach quite soon. Floina refused to stop but I wanted to enjoy my first time at the sea. The white froth splashed onto the clean white sand. The endless stretch of blue. The horizon, where according to the mythology, the gods of sky and the gods of sea collide in a never ending battle. But of course, I being an atheist, never believed that. In the distance, the clouds were formed in a sort of archway. Light was pouring into the world from through that arch. I wanted to ride a boat of Scythe into that arch. When I pointed it out to Floina, she said that she had gotten bored of looking at it. I shrugged and presumed that the clouds formed that way many times. We kept riding through the white sands until nightfall. I was so bored I was jumping off Scythe often, picking up stones, jumping back onto him and throwing the stones into the waters. “Are we there yet?” “No. A few more miles” “Are we there yet?” “A bit more.” “Are we there yet?” “Shut up.” “Are we there yet?” “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM??”

“Are we there yet?” BANG! He got so pissed off with me that she blasted me with her annoying advantage of being able to do magic. “So?” She said looking at me questioningly. “So, what?” I asked pulling myself back up to my feet and dusting myself up. “You’re not going to attack me back?” It like a wound that had slowly healed up had suddenly been cut open again. “I cannot de magic. Not anymore, none that I can control anyway.” “I’m sorry.” I smiled and hopped back onto Scythe. “Well. Get a move on. I am really getting bored. We better get there in an hour. Or I’ll try to do my dark magic thing again.” “You will try. I will do it no doubt.” “Yeah. Yeah, just kick that horse’s ass so it starts running again. Scythe is barely crawling at the moment. “Hiyah!”She said sinking her heels into the horse’s body. We raced along the beach. Well race may not be an appropriate term. The horse ran like it’s tail were on fire but Scythe just trotted ahead leisurely.” And finally, after a long journey, we saw Tradesville on the distance. It was not a heavily guarded frontier like Armour Village. Nor did it seem like a place to stay. Business was the heart and soul of that town. You could tell that from a mile away. How do I know? Well, I was a mile away. We were still trotting towards the town when I realized something that should have been obvious to me. I was a wanted criminal. Maybe there was even a prize on my head. When I spoke of this to Floina, she said, “Relax. News doesn’t travel as fast as we just have. I still do not know how these horses managed to keep pace with your darkwolf.” I didn’t bother pointing out again that Scythe had barely trotted. It was mid afternoon by the time we reached the town. It hadn’t snowed here. In fact it was mildly warm even though it was the middle of winter. I was surprised at the weather patterns of our land. Lincolnshire which was about hardly a hundred or so miles to the northeast from Tradesville. But Lincolnshire was the southernmost point where snow fell. After that, no snow. I remembered how the snow had started to reduce in thickness as we had been moving away from the Guardian hills. I had not seen a clear demarcation though. We had walked through intensely thick fog. So thick that I almost had trouble seeing Scythe. And I was sitting on Scythe!

Anyway, we were walking through a sheet of snow when the fog engulfed us. When we finally were released from the fog, we were walking on wet grass. Snow-knowledge aside, I’ll get back to the matter at hand. Tradesville. It was a huge town. Maybe even as big as Lincolnshire. It had to be I suppose, it was the trades capitol of Questa. Ships that seemed to be royal rides to boats that I doubted could go half a mile into the sea. Every kind of ship lined the side of Tradesville that faced the ocean. As we got closer I smelled fish. I HATE the smell of fish. Barely even entered the town and already I wanted to leave. The buildings were built spicily in the centre. As you moved away, huts and sheds were crowded together. I doubted that anyone in the place practiced agriculture. Why do I think so? There was not a single stretch of land that seemed like it was fit for agriculture. The white sand was extremely beautiful though. As we came closer to the gates, I heard inviting sounds of friendly sailors shouting greetings, vendors screaming the names of their products and children laughing more loudly than necessary. A sign was hammered into the ground. ‘WELCOME TO TRADESVILLE, MATE! HERE’S HOPING THAT YOU HAVE A GREAT TIME TRADING, BUYING OR SELLING. CHEERS!’ It was the most cheerful sign I had seen for a while. All the way till now it had only been ‘Storm area.’ Or ‘Beware of rogues.’ Then I noticed a small print under the ‘WELCOME’ sign. It read.. ‘Storm area.’ ‘Beware of rogues.’ I sighed as Scythe marched towards the gates. Floina and the horses close behind.

Chapter 14: Rogue Princes
We stood outside the Tradesville gates, gazing at the bustling town. A day and a half ago, I had run out of another bustling town. But both the towns were bustling in very different ways. Lincolnshire was bustling with people who were trying to find and maybe execute me. This town though was full of people who were happy, rich and hopefully not even thinking of murdering. Men and women and..well…People of all ages were roaming the streets with bags full of things to eat, wear, throw at others, joke items, swords. And it maybe a slight bit of exaggeration, but the bag(s) were bigger than their shopping bags. The guard welcomed us like kings. He went running when saw that I was sitting on a lean-mean-killingmachi…ugh...darkwolf. I laughed and patted Scythe on his arm. The streets were extremely wide. All shops and houses seemed to be brick made and painted by amateurs. That was the part that seemed most inviting to

be. The town seemed more inviting and friendly because of that. It was like it was saying, ‘we accept and love you even if you are not perfect….cause we aren’t perfect either.’ I told Scythe to hunt and stay in the woods near the town for a few days. He barked his agreement and I got off him. He licked my face and I struggled to keep him from drenching me in drool. I looked I into his deep red colored eyes. They were the only part of him that had not changed yet. His black fur had gotten darker and longer. If it was dark and you didn’t have any fire around you, there was no way to see Scythe. A day before, when we had camped on the bank of Spine River, it had been a moonless night. Floina had set up her tent magically and gone off to sleep. I had been trying to find wood and some covering for my own tent. And it felt to ask weird to Floina to share her tent. And another thing was that tent was a little too small for the both of us. Floina had made it for only herself. Anyway, I had gone into the woods to get some wood, when I heard many shifty sounds around me. I spun around but there was no one. I heard twigs breaking and dry leaves on the forest floor crunching. Still, I saw no one. It was extremely dark too. Hardly any light came the stars. I made out a few outlines of trees at the beginning of the woods. Where I was, a little into the forest, which meant you are totally blind. I walked swiftly back to the part of the woods that marked the beginning of the forest. I looked down and saw outlines of some sticks. Perfect, I thought and bent down. I grabbed about 20 or so sticks and stood up with the bundle. That’s when my heart skipped a beat. I heard a hushed footstep stop right behind me and felt a foul smelling breath on my neck. I whipped around found that a sort of over-grown gorilla with fangs was glaring down at me. It looked buff and strong. A wet nose grossed me out. It’s mouth was half open in a frown. However dark it was, I was able to see it’s bloody red teeth. And finally I looked in its eyes. They were a horrible blood red color. I saw a tiny reflection of myself in it. And it’s face showed one expression and one expression only. Food! It whacked me with a muscular and clawed arm. The sticks flew out of my arm, and I flew off my feet. I landed on my behind and rolled for a while until I was stopped by a tree. I saw many more shapes emerge between the trees. Then or so Yetis had surrounded me (I came to know that they were Yetis when Floina told me later.) The one that had attacked me rushed at me. I dodged it at the last second but by the time I had even landed from the jump, I saw as if in slow motion another brutally dangerous, murderous and blood-thirsty(excuse me for using words that mean the same thing, but I think it just helped me convey the image of an Yeti running at its food better.) But at the last second it flew off in an opposite direction. Then its neck split into two. I heard the shuffling of feet but was unable to see what had attacked that creature. The remaining Yetis seemed to be confused. I was unable to see their expression but I’m guessing. The invisible creature proceeded to kill a few more Yetis. Still no sign. Around five or so of the Yetis gathered and rushed at me. They probably thought I was the one doing the magic.

I was rooted to the spot. I stood there knowing that I was defenseless and useless at this point. I would not be able to fight hand to hand with five Yetis and had no magic that I could control. I felt a swish of air and a presence seemed to come and stand in front of me. I felt that this presence was familiar. I managed to look down and see the shape of a big dog like creature. It’s fur was a slightly darker shade of black than the darkness. And then, a ball of pure force blasted away from me. The ball seemed to be made of a kind of black and purple fire. In that split second of purple light, I recognized Scythe in front of me. KABOOM! The explosion shook the small patch of woods and left no trace of the Yetis. Back to the present…. See what I mean by fur that is a darker shade of black than the night sky? Scythe had become stronger and more agile than ever. So I trusted him to go and stay in a forest for a while. Floina could obviously not do the same with the horses. She had to struggle with them as we moved through the streets of Tradesville. This is how we got separated. I took the opportunity and weighed my gold. Not a lot but I supposed I would manage quite easily for an hour so. I walked into a nearby inn and ordered three roasted chickens. The inn keeper brought them out soon and laid them on my plate. Even though it was daylight outside, the inn was lit with torches. This made the place a little warmer than necessary. The walls were lined with grey or black wallpaper. The air smelt a little woody. There was no bar here, only a counter behind which a man slept. Everyone in the room were happy. They were having fun or just smiling for no apparent reason. In such an environment, you tend to smile too. I was hogging my juicy yet crunchy chicken when a girl came and sat in front of me. She was stunningly beautiful. Her eyes were a elegant shade of blue just like mine. Her hair was a light brown stretch of beauty. Her eyes, nose, mouth, ears everything seemed perfect, making her face the prettiest one I had seen for quite some time. Her body was slim but athletic. She was dressed in a sleeveless black shirt and was wearing a pair of brown trousers. She wore a few bands on each arm. She ordered a cocoa milk drink and leaned colder to me. I raised my eyebrow. Confused, I didn’t move at all. I put my chicken leg down and face her. “I have a proposition for you.” She said when she saw that she could not lean any more. Her voice was as beautiful as her face. Sweet as honey. I replied in a kind of gruff and chocked up voice. Bad attempt at sounding tough. “Excuse me?” “You seem to be a fighter. So I want you to think about joining the Rogue clan.” “The what?” I asked her. “You do not know about the rogue clan?” She asked.

Her expression showed that she thought I was a dum idiot who till now had been living under a rock. “No. I’m not from here. I just arrived in Tradesville about an hour ago.” “Sorry I wasted your time.” Then she got up and hurriedly exited the inn. I felt quite lame, sitting here with a confused expression on my face. Then I just shrugged off my confusion and attacked my chicken.

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