|The Ancient Prophecy
Part VII: The Quest for Loyalty
by Vipers ©
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
Atrus White Lion stood on top of the hill, looking at the landscape around him. The view of the Land of Lore never bored him. The long chain of mountains in the south, the unbroken view of forest in the west, the great canyons in the east, and the fearsome stormy Northern Ocean, added wonderful touch to the realm. From where he was standing, he felt as if he was standing at the top of the world.
Behind him was the view of the little town of Rocklin. The town was dwarfed by the vast forest surrounding the land. However, another thing also made the town insignificant. Before him was a huge mighty city wall, and beyond it, Castle Stromgarde, the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon.
Castle Stromgarde housed the royal palace, where the king resided. Beyond the walls also lay the city of Stromgarde, surrounding the palace. As the largest city in Aragon, it held the main role in Aragon's economy and military strength. Numerous outposts and fortifications were built around the city. The castle walls were among the biggest walls in Humans history.
In his mission as the Guardian's prophet, he had to forge an alliance of the five clans of the realm. To do so, he had to confront the king and his royal subordinates. However, with the war raging across the land, a passage to the capital was highly forbidden. A special request had to be made to the royal army, forcing him to spend some time in the border town of Rocklin for several days until the permission was issued. Such bureaucracy always annoyed him, but he had no choice.
Confronting the royal members would actually be the last thing he wanted to do. The Kingdom of Aragon was not as mighty as it had used to be. The royal affairs were filled with wicked and corrupted souls. Stories about back-stabbing and struggle for supremacy of power in the palace could be heard from the corner of every pub in the land. That was why he never felt comfortable when dealing with royal members. His old master, Falagor, who had been the royal advisor for many years, seemed to share the same feeling, which brought him into exile.
He heard footsteps from behind and found out that Maya had joined him on the hill. "I'm sorry if you want to be alone, Master Atrus..."
"Not at all. I can use a company, after all."
He stared at his companion. Her long dark hair was pony-tailed by a simple band with a cute black ribbon on top. Her gray body suit shaped her slim figure. The thick leather collar fit comfortably around her neck. On her belt were a number of throwing knives and a long leather-sheathed silver blade.
Maya Murdock was his... companion. However, she still insisted that she was his slave, bought from the town of Tiras to serve him forever. He never treated her as a slave, although she acted like one. But instead of being a burden, Maya was a good addition in the group. Her quick thinking and formidable fighting techniques had repeatedly saved his life.
His thought turned to his other companion, Adriana Freesland. A loyal ally, Anna was a priest and an apprentice in the art of magic. Despite their routine clashes, he found Anna easy to work with. She was a great partner and a decent fighter, but her magical ability was her primary asset. Her vast knowledge of things had been proven valuable in many occasions. Her ideals in finding the Champion of the Guardian stayed intact throughout their rough journey.
He sighed at the sight before him. Many things had happened in the past few months. Once he had been an eager young Ranger, looking for glory of his own. Then he had found Anna, who had changed his life completely. He had joined her quest in finding the fabled Champion of the Guardian.
Then he met Maya in the town of Tiras. Despite her slave status, her heart was full of determination and dignity. She had always been there to raise everybody's spirit when they were down. She had always been there to cheer them up. She had always been there to love and be loved. Then the Battle of Gideon came.
He still remembered clearly how he had been crushed. The loss of almost the entire village and the fact that he had almost killed his friends had shocked him. For six months he had put himself in exile, working with the great wizard Lord Falagor to sharpen his skill and regain his confidence. Again, Maya and Anna had interfered, helping him to bring his lost pieces back in place again. And now here they were, the Guardian's prophets, destined to find the Champion of the Guardian. In this time of trouble, he sometimes realized how lucky he was to have both girls as his companions.
"How are your feeling, Master?" Maya's question awoke him from his thought.
"I'm fine, Maya." He answered. "At least we're not looking for a fabled man anymore."
"You're right, Master." She nodded. "I suppose the whole things would be revealed in time."
"And we'll be the among the first to witness them." Atrus agreed.
Only If they succeed, of course. He had a feeling that his task would not be an easy one. The Guardian himself had promised to aid them with his selected warriors, which he had to find from the five clans. Finding them would be another problem. However, he had to admit that the whole thing was better than before. At least now he knew where to start.
"Anyway, Master, do you want to hear a secret?"
"What is it?"
"Do you know that Mistress Anna would turn nineteen next week?"
Atrus looked at her in disbelief. "How do you know?"
She just smirked. "I peeked at her diary."
"Oh, that's goo... WHAT?!! You did that?!"
"Of course. I don't become a thief for nothing." She snickered. "I even knew that you turned twenty last month."
"You... Don't tell me... You peeked into mine as well...?"
"Of course. Happy birthday, Master..." She hugged and kissed him on the cheek...
...just as Anna appeared in the corner of his eyes. She just froze for a while before finally approaching him. She tried to act as if nothing had happened, but he noticed it. Her long golden hair was braided with a pretty red ribbon. She wore her usual priest suit, which shaped her petite body perfectly. A metal mace hung on her belt. The light wind played her hair gracefully.
"I just want to tell you that the representative from the palace is here to see you."
"I see. I will be there in a moment." Atrus said.
She froze for a while before nodding. "Okay... um... sorry if I'm interrupting something." Then she quickly went back down the hill. Atrus just stared at her for a while.
"Can't you see that she admired you a lot, Master?" Maya asked innocently.
"I know. But I just don't know what to do..."
Maya just giggled. "You're worried about me, Master? You don't need to win my love, for my heart already belongs to you. But you'll be hurting her if you keep on acting like this."
"But I just don't know what to do." Atrus said again. "I suppose I'm not very good in dealing with this kind of thing. It's not in Ranger training procedure, you know..."
"Aw, you don't have to be a Ranger to be good in love, Master. Just be yourself."
"But I don't know how to start..."
"How about a sweet birthday gift?" Maya asked. "She would kill me for reading her diary, but it's a good start, right?"
Atrus just smiled. "Thank you, Maya. Anyway, let's meet our guest, shall we."
Atrus had never seen a knight in full combat suit before, and the view astonished him. Anna and Maya shared the same amazement. The armor enhanced his appearance, giving him a full hint of honor and dignity of the figure beneath it. Atrus stood before him and saluted.
"I, Atrus White Lion, hailed and saluted you, Sir."
The chuckle escaped from the metal helmet, followed by a laugh. Atrus couldn't shake the feeling that he had been insulted, but the laugh seemed friendly.
"Please, don't be too formal, my friend. We've met before, have we not?"
Atrus turned to Anna for a clue, but she was as confused as he was. Then the knight reached out for his helmet and took it off, revealing a young man of his age. His long black hair was tied behind him. His overall appearance was unknown, but his face looked familiar.
"Try to imagine me without my long hair, my friend." He challenged again.
That face... he was familiar to him! It was in the town of Tiras...
"Captain Hawk?! Is that you?!"
The young knight smiled. "Long time no see, my friends. Many months have passed since my coward action back in Tiras."
Atrus remembered him as a young captain leading a small detachment of army to patrol the southern region of Tiras. They had been jumped by a giant lizard which had devoured all of his comrades. Atrus and the girls had saved him by slaying the lizard. At that time, Captain Hawk had had his hair short.
"Long time no see, indeed, Captain. And don't blame yourself for what happened in Tiras."
"Please, my friend, call me Hawk. I'm still in debt with you." He smiled, then turned to Anna. "Miss Freesland, I recall. It's been my honor to see you again."
Anna smiled warmly. "No, the honor is all mine. And please call me Anna."
He turned to Maya. "And you, young lady, I'm sorry I forget your name."
"Maya Murdock, at your service, Sir Hawk. Please call me Maya as well."
Hawk smiled at the group. "I'm happy to see you all. When we received your request, I quickly volunteered to greet you. And I have prepared three horses for you."
The two guards quickly dismounted from their horses. Atrus climbed on one, followed by Maya. Anna just stared at them hesitantly.
"Um, Maya... Can I ride with you...? I... I can't ride a horse..."
She could notice the grin in Atrus' face, and she swore she would incinerate him to crisp if he dared to insult her, but he said nothing. Maya, on the other hand, gave her an evil grin.
"Sorry, Mistress, but I'm not very good as well. I'm sure Master Atrus would do that."
Anna turned to Captain Hawk, but he answered politely. "I'm sorry, Anna, but you won't be able to hold tight since I'm wearing this body armor. Could you ride with Atrus?"
Anna looked at Atrus with pleading eyes, knowing he would take pleasure in mocking her, but before she made the request, Atrus offered his hand, which she accepted hesitantly. When the guards succeeded in helping her to mount, she quickly clasped her hands around Atrus' waist and refused to let go.
"Anna... I... can't... breathe...!!!"
Anna loosed her grip a bit, and Atrus quickly regained his breath. Captain Hawk just stared at them, confused, but Maya giggled at the sight. Anna still kept her body close to Atrus, shivering.
"Say, Anna... -grasp- You've never ridden a horse before?" Atrus finally asked.
"I... I have... B-but I have a bad experience..."
"Don't worry, Anna." Hawk said. "Just stick around with Atrus for a while, and you'll get used to it in no time."
Anna looked at the grinning Atrus. "I really doubt it."
Atrus just laughed, then turned to Hawk. "Say, Hawk, a race halfway through the city walls?"
"You got it, my friend!"
"NO!!! I mean... Atrus, please don't... I'm scared like hell..." Anna pleaded.
"Aw, don't be such a baby! Ready?!"
"You're on, my friend!"
"NO...!!! NO!!! KYAAA...!!!"
And the race began as both horses dashed toward the city, followed by Anna's cry of terror. Maya just laughed at the sight, and then raced her horse to follow them.
The race ended with Captain Hawk as the winner, since Atrus couldn't breathe for most of the route. Anna still kept her hands tightly around Atrus. She was crying openly now. Her face was full with fear. Atrus was busy in soothing her.
"I'm sorry, Anna... I don't know you're that scared... Forgive me, okay?"
"Just... just don't... do that... again... Oh God... I'm... so... scared..."
"I suppose Atrus can teach you how to ride a horse, don't you agree, Anna?" Hawk asked.
She just nodded slowly, her hands still refused to let go. They waited for a while until Maya could catch up, then proceeded to the city, very slowly.
what brings you to the palace, my friend?" Hawk finally asked.
was split into 10 parts. Jump to any of the segments from here:
|Another top quality story by Vipers.|
© Copyright 1999 by literotica.com.