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Thread: Guild on Wheels (version 2)

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    Default Guild on Wheels (version 2)

    Hi, Serebii folks. It's me again bringing you another of my stories. After seeing the success The Dark Voyage was (I wasn't expecting so many reads) I decided to post this story as well. In truth, I had already posted like three chapters before, but I forgot to continue posting the chapters. This story is almost a new one, though. I have edited a lot of stuff from the old version and surely this version is way better, trust me. I was going to edit the posts in the old thread, but I asked a moderator and I was given the green light to post a brand new thread since it's like a new project.


    Anyway, if you were reading that other version, forget about it. Read this one instead. As I did with TDV, I will be posting chapters every now and then.

    If I have to give this story a rating, then I guess PG-13 suits it well. It's an original tale. I will be posting a map for you in my next update. Or I may edit this post and add it at the top.

    And, before you start reading, I might as well post the month difference. I don't use our months in this story, rather random ones. Here is the list:

    Jan-Sabertooth
    Feb-Lion
    Mar-Fish
    Apr-Rose
    May-Tree
    June-Fire
    July-Dark Cloud
    Aug-Deer
    Sep-Leaf
    Oct-Rock
    Nov-Ice
    Dec-Polar Bear


    Lastly, enjoy the story. ^^


    Guild on Wheels

    Intro (part 1 of 4)

    Realm of Ilitia, 12th of Leaf, Year 2523

    Metal rang against metal and loud booms echoed in the middle of the night under a full moon that was hidden behind dark, creepy clouds. Grunts and shrieks filled the air as well as fireballs and arrows as the opposing foes battled and killed each other without regard for life.

    “There are too many of these damned monsters, Master Artemys,” the desperate cry of a female warrior was heard over all the fighting noises found on the battlefield. “We won’t be able to hold them back if they keep coming at us like this.”

    Artemys Primrose, who was the leader of a group of mercenaries that had been hired by Princess Ella Sapphire to investigate a huge, odd-looking magical door that had appeared at the base of one of the mountains in the central region of Ilitia, knew well that the buffy warrioress spoke truthfully.

    “Just keep fighting, Meridia,” Artemys shouted back at the warrioress, who just like him was a dragir. Dragirs resembled human beings, but they were actually dragon folk. The dark, spiraling horns on their heads and the random dark scales on parts of their bodies was what differentiated them from humans, not to mention the dragon blood that ran through their veins, which allowed dragirkind to live up to ten centuries.

    Artemys Primrose had not been made tall or short, he believed that he had grown to be the right size at five-ten. He was owner of a decent, lean body and was actually tougher than he looked. His hair was short and fell in bangs off to the sides. It was composed of two colors, black on one side and white on the other. The two-tone hair color was possible thanks to magical tints that dragir like him applied to their hair. The guild master’s skin was light tan, almost copper but not quite there, and he had a noble kind stare despite many saying that he actually appeared to be angry at all times due to an angry scar that ran perpendicular on his left cheek. He wore silver regal armor with a short black cape attached to it at the back, black leathery pants, and even darker boots.

    As to Meridia Goldenflower, she stood the same height as her similar, but unlike him, who had his two horns intact, she only had one, the right one, the other one she had lost in battle against a colossal beast back in her homeland. Her eyes were a pair of emerald jewels, and her skin was light tan. She had medium-length dark hair and had many scales adorning her arms and neck, with roughly any adorning her face, like the leader of the group himself. Just like him, she had a lean, sturdy body and protected it well with light-weight silvery armor. She fought using a broad, two-headed axe while her counterpart fought on using twin magical double edged swords. Perhaps their weapons and fighting styles differed, but both dragir could also call upon their magical abilities. The guild master was more advanced in magical knowledge than was Meridia, who back in the old days in Dragiria had not had the aptitude to hone her magical skills as much as the guild master apparently had.

    “Behind you, boss!” Meridia suddenly shrieked, her face deformed in fear as she noticed that one of the creatures was coming up fast behind her master. But the guild leader was no novice to battle. Master Primrose, who had been a little distracted staring at Meridia, had known of the skeleton’s intent nonetheless, and so he was quick to turn around and cut it in half by swinging one of his swords and connecting a solid hit on the creature’s lumbar vertebrae. The skeletal being didn’t even have time to cry in pain, its darkened bony body just fell to the ground with a rattling sound and then entirely disappeared in a cloud of smoke, leaving behind nothing but a pile of ash. With the monster, so too, disappeared its weapon.

    “Don’t worry about me,” the guild leader told Meridia. “I can hold my own against these things, you worry about yourself.”

    The beautiful dragir knew that he could indeed hold his own out there, for he was the best warrior on the battlefield. Many had been the battle fields and fights that she had shared with him, but she would always watch over him, regardless, for Meridia Goldenflower was his girlfriend, and perhaps soon-to-be new wife.

    The female dragir nodded at him and then focused on the battlefield. She found a nearby creature to engage and went to do that while Artemys kept his attention on her for a while. Just as Meridia looked after him, so too did Artemys keep an eye out on the dragir he had come to fancy over the past six months. But she was a good warrior, and honestly, all dragir fighters were elite combatants, so he hardly needed to protect her.

    Master Primrose and his group of warriors had been battling and killing hordes of assorted evil creatures that had all of a sudden spurt out from within the magical portal as they had been inspecting it. It appeared that there would be no end to their pouring numbers, for the more they had killed, wave after wave of the creatures had continued to come out. The hardened ground underneath and all around them was a witness to that and was already filled with so many fallen bodies, mostly of mysterious, dark-skinned, horned creatures, which the dragir had not seen before but suspected were demon kind or something, for they resembled other creatures that he had seen before known as gargoyles. These weren’t those tough creatures, though, they did not have the large bat-like wings or the sturdy body and ram-like horns that gargoyles from the realm of Borgor had. There were about sixty of the dark creatures laying on the barren ground, and there would have been more bodies on display had the dark skeletal wights not disappear in clouds of smoke after being killed.
    To the sadness and anger of the guild master, there also lay seven elite fallen warriors from his guild, five males and two females. Those warriors had been his friends and had seen so many battles with him and had followed him to the very end. The death of those warriors had enraged the dragir so much that he had gone into a frenzy and had dispatched so many monsters with his magical blades and his own magical abilities before Meridia had disrupted him with her words.

    Master Primrose saw as Meridia delivered a quick death blow to the creature with her axe. She was making her House proud that night, Artemys believed as he saw her in action, even if her Dragir House had fallen many a years ago to an antagonistic rival House. The guild master’s House had also been laying in ruin since a century ago. He and his seventy five year old daughter were the last of the Primrose line, and he knew that he was also making his ancestors proud by fighting magnificently and staying alive.

    Remembering the fall of his dear House and all those relatives and friends that he once had held so dear to him, the dragir killed a pair of the dark skinned monsters during the next couple of minutes, monsters that had been coming in against him trying at the very least to put a scratch on him. The dragir was too much for them, though, and after they fell hard to his blades, Meridia rushed to his side. The two of them, their backs touching, engaged a group of four more enemies. They fought those creatures off successfully, and around them, three other warriors that belonged to Master Primrose’s guild fought off their own foes. Only the quintet of warriors remained of twelve that had answered Princess Ella’s call.

    After Artemys Primrose dropped his final foe, he and Meridia came face to face, separated only by mere inches. They understood that no more living enemies shared the battlefield with them, so they relaxed from their battle stance, Meridia smiling gladly.

    “I hope this was the last of them, boss,” she breathed slowly and lowered her two-headed axe. “Because I am really getting tired out here.”

    They had been battling the creatures for about an hour now, and though he knew that Meridia had great stamina, Artemys suspected that her heavy axe was probably becoming an issue for the warrioress.

    “I hope so too,” Artemys replied as he put his pair of curved swords away within silver scabbards. His brown-toned eyes landed on the magical door in the distance. The portal was glowing strong in a bluish hue and had many rare symbols all over it, all which glinted in a silvery tone.

    The other three warriors, glad that no more enemies remained, began to head towards the dragir pair, who were the ones that had put a real hurt on the monsters.

    “This bodes ill, Master Primrose,” cried the voice of a male warrior. This one was a lean human who stood two inches taller than the dragir leader. His hair, though not visible at that time due to a red turban that the warrior wore on his head, was a short crop, nearly shaved on the sides, dark in color. Despite being young at eighteen years of age, he already had several battle-left scars on his face and arms. The scars on his arms were quite visible for the eyes to see, for the warrior just wore a sleeveless dark shirt, a scarf around his neck, and a shoulder pad over his torso, however, the scars on his face were not visible due to a dark handkerchief that covered his face, a mask of sorts that his kin in Alark, his homeland, wore. The handkerchief had drawn fangs and pointy teeth, so as to scare opponents. The young man held a big, curved sword over his shoulder and appeared to have been enjoying the battle so far. His sword appeared cruel in design, for the sharp edge was in the form of a saw, with those wicked points being extremely large and sharp. His mercenary garments were tattered with blood and grime, as were his arms, and he appeared a little tired before the guild master, but he was smiling as he usually did on a daily basis. “I don’t think we are done here,” he continued to speak in his broken Ilitian accent. “You know what I think? I think more of these ugly things might be coming out soon, but you know what?”

    “What?” asked Meridia, noticing that the warrior was the one covered with the most blood and grime.

    “That’s actually a good thing,” he replied as he brought his sword about and gave it a kiss on its blade. “It just means more enemies for Rajim The Awesome to put down to the ground.”

    “Just keep your guard up, I’dar,” Artemys called the warrior by his last name. “More creatures might pop out at any time. I don’t want them taking a stab at you or anyone else, for that matter; I’ve already lost too many of you.”

    “You know what, boss?” Rajim spoke, and he started walking bravely towards the magical portal, sword over his right shoulder. “Maybe it is time for us to go in there and see what lies within.”

    The warrior then used his sword to point at the portal. “Maybe that door will lead us to the creatures’ nest or home or something.”

    There came a loud shout from behind the tall man that it startled him and those others that were still alive.

    “Going unprepared into a magical door that we know nothing about! Are you nuts, Rajim?”

    The female who had spoken was actually a human witch, a practitioner of the dark arts. The witch stood five feet and seven inches exact. She had a decent body and had short-length dark hair buried underneath a pointy black hat that she wore. She wore a black dress that covered her torso down from her breasted area and fell all the way to her knees. The dress had spider web designs on it, as did the black, knee-high boots that she wore. The witch’s skin was light, and to make her look a bit more exotic, or perhaps frightening to others, the areas around the woman’s eyes and lips were outlined with a dark shadowy color.

    Rajim stopped in his walk and turned back around to stare at the witch.

    “No, but maybe you are, Shan,” grinned the youngster at the witch. “I mean just look at you.”

    Next to Master Primrose, Meridia chuckled, but when the dragir stared at her, she stopped laughing and straightened herself up more than she already was.

    Shan Styles, as the young witch was called, ignored the remark knowing that the Alarkian warrior was just joking with her, just as he frequently teased with her at the guild or during missions. She arrived to stand in front of the guild master and let him know with a tensed tone, “We can’t go in there unprepared, Master Primrose. I perceive a strong aura within that portal still.”

    “I know,” declared Artemys with a low murmur. The dragir knew several types of magic, and so he felt the aura, too. “I feel it too, Shan,” he added and looked over at Meridia. “This could be bad.”

    The dragir had read a malignant aura emanating from within the portal, something that he knew was stronger than these monsters that they had been fighting so far.

    “What could it be?” Meridia’s voice sounded shaky, and she even gulped lightly. Behind her approached the other warrioress, the final of the five that remained. She was a short girl who had slanted, dreamy dark eyes. Umika Koeki was her name, but most knew her as Pandora, a nickname that she had given herself when she had abandoned her homeland of Sasato. Her three-piece shinobi shozoku outfit was mostly light in weight and dark in color. She was garbed like a ninja of her native homeland, and because she wore a mask that concealed most of her head and face, her hair color and style was unknown to those of the guild. She had been supporting the group from a good distance away with her bow. With that weapon she was as deadly as she was beautiful.

    “Whatever it is, are we going to find out, boss?” asked Umika, her tone under her dark mask obviously nervous that it was picked up by the other four warriors.

    “Haha,” laughed Rajim. “I had never seen fear so vividly noticeable on a Sasatoan’s eyes before, until now. Don’t tell me you are scared, Pandora?”

    Umika just glared at him with those beautiful eyes of hers, but when she noticed that Master Artemys was about to talk, she gave him all her attention.

    “Her highness Ella Sapphire hired us to look into the matter,” Artemys the dragir replied coolly as he checked them out one by one with those serious eyes of his. “So yes, we’ll investigate the matter until we conclude with it, Umika.”

    There was a long silence, and tension crept up on all other warriors, save for Artemys, who went walking toward the magical door slowly but unafraid. Where had he felt that same aura before? He did not know, but he was sure that he had felt it before in the past...

    “Careful, honey,” Meridia called from her place. “Are you sure you want to be approaching that thing? There could be more of those monsters inside.”

    Master Artemys just rose his hand up in a signal that it was alright and kept advancing. He stopped right in front of the glowing door and stared at it carefully, his eyes trying to decipher the meaning of the symbols. He could not make them out, they were from an idiom unknown to him.

    The dragir did not know what would happen if he went through the door, but he would probably be sucked right in and taken to some other plane of existence. Besides the earthly realm that humans shared with other creatures, there were several other planes, or realms, if you will, where other types of creatures resided. Artemys Primrose, who was two hundred and thirty one years old, knew about several different planes of existence and had seen many creatures during his lifetime, but none like the ones they had been battling that night, and so that made him consider his options. His bravado would have made him walk into the portal that night and find out what lurked within, except that there was something else that stopped him from doing that: Rowena, his seventy five year old daughter. He had promised her back at the guild before having ventured out here that he would be returning to her before the dawn came.

    As he thought about his dear daughter, the dragir warrior was suddenly startled when he thought he heard a voice whispering his name.

    “Artemyyssss.”

    The dragir blanched when he heard it, and he felt a cold shiver running through his back when he thought he recognized the voice. But there was no time to dwell on it, as then, when the whisper had died down, a gust of wind suddenly blew out of nowhere. Actually, it came from within the magical door. The force of the gust drove him back a step. The others were scared out of their socks since with the sudden gust had also come an evil, hair-rising, bone-chilling wail, and so they took steps back, quite unnerved.

    “What the fu...” Artemys was surprised, but not at the sudden howling wind, rather at the whisper that he had just heard. The dragir’s mind was suddenly flooded with past memories.

    “What the hell was that?” Rajim demanded from his place, quite scared, his sword ready in his hand. Artemys paid him nor the others any attention.

    Shiya, was that you, my love? he thought. He received no answer, but his eyes were glued on the magical portal, from which he expected his long lost love to come out from.

    Nothing happened, but the dragir remained envisioning his deceased wife as he kept his eyes on the portal.

    He appeared to have fallen in a trance then, and he nearly walked into the portal, his heart dictating to him that he should do that. More than his heart and mind, it was the love that he once had shared with Shiya Lisianthus, who happened to be his daughter’s mother, what nearly made him enter the portal, except that Meridia also called out at that opportune time, “Artemys, are you alright?”

    Meridia’s worried voice somehow brought back the dragir from his daze, and Master Artemys shook his head as if to jiggle that feeling off. Feeling a little weak and disoriented, he turned around and eyed the witch, who was lost staring off to the side in fear after having heard the bone-chilling wail. The witch had not liked the wail at all, so she had been inspecting her surroundings just to make sure they were not surprised by an unseen foe.

    “Shan,” called the dragir, his voice and stare as serious as never the group had seen and heard it. Shan was startled, but she turned to regard him and noticed how serious he looked.

    “Yes, boss?”

    “Come here,” the master called.

    Shan Styles wasn’t late in arriving next to him.

    “Work your magic on the door and make sure it’s safe for us to go in there,” Master Artemys ordered. “Be quick about it...”

    “Aye,” Shan nodded and quickly went to work. Artemys, with so much on his mind from his past life, turned his attention to the rest of the team, but he avoided Meridia’s stare.

    “Umika and Meridia, you two come here and watch over her as she works,” the dragir commanded as he walked away. The female dragir and Umika were quick to station themselves close to the door, Umika stringing an arrow to her black colored oaken bow, and Meridia holding her two-headed axe tightly as if they could expect enemies to pour out any moment. As to the witch, she was very grateful of her master for protecting her like that. He had always been careful of her in past missions, and that’s what the witch loved about him: his love and care for others.

    “Artemys love,” Meridia spoke from her place near the portal. “You are so pale, honey. Are you alright?”

    The guild master detained his walk and turned to regard her almost blankly, and Meridia really felt his stare empty upon her.

    “I’m fine,” Artemys assured her, scratching his forehead. “Please look after Shan, we cannot afford mistakes out here.”

    Meridia nodded at that and then turned her attention to the magical door, and her fiancé swallowed hard but turned to regard the young human warrior, who was staring curiously at him.

    “Come, Rajim,” Artemys ordered. “Let us revise these bodies and make sure they are all dead. We don’t want for one or two of them to still be drawing breath and get us from the back.”

    The young warrior gave his sword a few spins, smiled, and said, “My pleasure, boss.”

    ***
    Last edited by Mega Gobli; 2nd October 2014 at 10:28 PM.


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

  2. #2
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    Default Intro part 2/4

    Here is the next update, with the map I promised too.

    http://i151.photobucket.com/albums/s...ps396691ee.png

    Intro (Part 2/4)

    Knowing she had caught the dragir’s attention out on the surface world, the evil deity believed that having him in front of her was only minutes away from happening. She knew well that he could not ignore the call of her beloved wife, whom he had lost long ago. The queen of the succubi and incubi smiled placidly knowing that her beloved prize was at hand.

    Standing beside the deity stood a tall, pale, and cadaverous-looking female dragir. Shiya Lisianthus had died seventy five years ago, but she was alive then and there. Her flesh and bone body was still very corrupted, though the deity had done a marvelous job in rebuilding her to what she once used to look like. Still, much of her skin remained corrupted, bone and layers of tissue and muscles remained visible. But little by little and bit by bit, the dragir was regenerating back to the mortal body she once had owned.

    “Even in death you weak creatures serve a purpose,” the deity sneered at the corrupted dragir. “But once I get your husband here, you’re going back to the pits of torture where my hand rescued you from, so don't get your hopes up; you're only a bartering tool.”

    The revived dragir said nothing, though she understood the words perfectly and could talk if she wanted to. She did not talk, though, for within, she was feeling so worthless and miserable knowing that even in death she would continue hurting her beloved Artemys Primrose, who had been at one point in time the love of her life, her husband. With her death long ago, she knew that she had terribly hurt him, had left him in shambles and suffering badly for her passing. Had he been strong enough and moved on with his life? Had he forgotten about her? Most importantly, had he been able to take care of their precious little daughter? Shiya Lisianthus knew not the answers to those questions, all she knew was that she had been reawakened from death by consent of the ruling mistress of Hell to serve a purpose.

    Hell was home to Queen Zemira, as well as many of the worse demons and other evil creatures in existence. It was there in that dark place where all evil-sided dead beings arrived after dying in whatever world they had lived in. They were judged there and given a new life, but one of pure torture and pain as a result of their committed evil deeds.

    What Shiya Lisianthus wondered as she stood beside the deity was what could an evil being of her caliber possibly want with her husband. She had no idea, but she had been used to lure him in with her voice. And the queen of Hell had just told her that she was just a bartering tool. What was going to happen?


    If anything, Shiya felt a small wave of happiness knowing that at least she’d get to see him once again after having spent an eternity in total torment and agony. To her that meant a lot even when she knew that she was destined to return to the horrible dark place where she had been enduring torment day and night and without rest. But the dragir was painfully worried for Artemys’s life. She had endangered him, but she’d had no choice but to obey the wish of the ruler of Hell, who had told her to murmur his name minutes ago. Still, she was pained, and in her anguish she hoped that nothing bad came to happen to her beloved.

    “Do away with any of the others who come in with the dragir,” the deity ordered in her demon tongue so that the female dragir could not understand a single word. “They don’t matter, but leave Master Artemys unspoiled.”

    Shiya, closing her eyes in anguish, wondered what the words that the deity had spoken meant.

    A group of ten elite incubi who were there all around the deity grinned maliciously after having heard her words. Shiya noticed how they dispersed and hid in the shadows of the underground temple. In the shadows and far away from the portal they started counting the seconds for the arrival of the mortals so that they could put their weapons to good use.

    ***
    Last edited by Mega Gobli; 2nd October 2014 at 10:33 PM.


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

  3. #3
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    Default

    Ok, here is the next update. I might update tomorrow with the last entry to this 4-part Introduction.

    Intro (Part 3/4)

    “Master Primrose, I believe we can proceed,” Shan revealed, the reading waves of magic in her hands fast dispelling. “I am sure this door holds no traps, but I do advise we use caution if we really are going in there. Something powerful lurks within.”

    “None of you are going in,” Artemys told them, and all eyes went to him. He stared back at them and said, “I am going in alone.”

    “What?” Meridia was the first one to ask. “Dear, what are you saying? There’s no way you’re going in there alone.”

    “That’s right,” Umika said from her standing spot. “We came here as a group, and as a group we will continue until we return to the guild, Master Primrose.”

    But the guild master was not having any of that. He shook his head and told them with stern words as he raised his hands in calming gesture, “I already lost seven of you. Seven! When we left the guild, I was sure that we would come here and cruise towards our goal, but so many have fallen. I don’t know what’s in there, but I know it’s nothing good, and it surely is stronger than what we’ve faced out here so far. I don’t want any of you to die. I don’t doubt your ability and skill, my friends. You have all served me greatly over the years, but only until this day. I will find out what lies within that door, not any of you.”

    “What?” Meridia, very confused, shouted. “Artemys, what’s gotten into you? Dammit, we serve you. We swore to go with you to the very depths of Inferno if need be.”

    Artemys gave her a wild stare. If only she knew what he had heard earlier, and if only she knew of the feelings that were still stored in his heart for his deceased wife, perhaps she’d understand. But she did not know any of that, and he was not about to explain to her the whisper he had heard and that he still had much love for Shiya Lisianthus, the dragir warrioress whom he had loved many years before she ever had appeared in his life.

    “If you all go in there, you will die,” Artemys unsettled them. “I wish I could explain why, but I can’t.”

    He stared at the ground, not knowing whether that was true or not. But he knew that he could not afford to lose more of his warriors and leave his guild crippled. There were so many other guilds that wanted to see the fall of Primrose Guild. These four warriors were actually the very last elites he had remaining. Back in the guild only seven other warriors had remained behind taking care of his daughter and the guild, but all those were not elites, just one of them was, the others were common warriors who were still developing their battle skills. The moment that the dragir had heard his wife’s whisper, the matter had become personal. Master Artemys would go into the portal alone and face whatever was in there. The dragir really wanted to see the warrioress that had stolen his heart so many years ago, and mostly because she had been taken away from him unexpectedly and perhaps unjustly during a raid back in Dragiria, their homeland, where they had lived for such a long time.

    Decision made, Meridia walked up to him and took his hands with hers.
    “I’m not letting you go in there alone, Artemys. Either we follow you in, or none of us, including you, enters.”

    “That’s right,” the Sasatoan had Meridia’s back. “We are a team, remember, boss?”

    Artemys just regarded the archer’s dark eyes. Upon seeing her, he could tell that she was worried for him, as were the others. He then glanced upon the witch with an inquisitive look.

    “I agree with them, Master Artemys,” Shan said from her place near the portal. “With much respect to you, of course.”

    “I am with them as well,” Rajim produced courage when the leader’s eyes found him in his spot. “There’s some more skulls to bash within, so don’t hold us back, boss. Allow us to go with you.”

    But Artemys Primrose had made up his mind moments after he had heard the whisper coming from the portal. He would be going in there alone.

    “You all signed contracts when you joined my guild,” he reminded them, and when they all heard those words, they knew they were doomed to obey his wishes. They had indeed signed scrolls of obedience under their own word and code of honor, which meant that if they broke their promise, they would be considered worthless, dishonorable, and not apt to join other guilds. They all lowered their heads feeling sad and even sick at the contract that they had signed long ago. This night, Artemys had them in his tighten fist.

    “Your new orders are now to return to the guild and wait for my return,” Artemys said solidly, the dragir knowing he had them beat, for his word as guild master was law. “So get moving.”

    None made a move to leave, Rajim even spat aside quite disgusted. Seeing their hesitation, Artemys raised his voice, “You’re all going to disobey my command now? You all know that to disobey an order from the guild master means that I can fire your butt right here and right now, right?”

    Crestfallen, they all just looked at him; Umika even shook her head, mumbled something as to how this whole situation was insane, and finalized her actions by throwing her stare to the ground when Artemys’s tough stare fell upon her.

    “Fine, if that’s how you all want it, it seems to me that I will start by firing you, Umi—”

    “Enough!” Meridia shouted, interrupting him. She had sounded very upset, but also very frustrated and sad. “Alright, we understand that you are serious about it. We’ll go, but you have to promise us that you won’t be doing something stupid while in there. If you see that things are too tough to deal with, you have to promise me that you’ll come back out.”

    “I can’t promise you anything,” Artemys sharply replied, and with his words he hurt Meridia’s feelings. He noticed that just by looking at her face and how it deformed in sadness, but he knew that it was too late to ask for forgiveness. “I have to get to the bottom of this,” he added. “But I certainly will not expose your lives while doing it. So go, wait for me at the guild. Oh, and if any one of you is wise enough to come back and enter this portal, know that he or she will not have a job nor a place at my guild when all this is said and done...you’ve been warned.”

    Meridia walked up to him and hugged him. Artemys hugged her back, but barely and not tightly, the image of his deceased wife came to his mind then and did not allow him to secure her as tightly as she had. Meridia felt the weak hug but said nothing, but she then kissed him. Artemys savored the kiss but he felt it empty, somehow. When they let go, he nodded at her, caressed her chin with his own hand, and told her that everything would be fine.

    “I’m just worried for you, that’s all,” Meridia stared aside quite sadly.

    “You don’t believe in me anymore?” Artemys felt hurt. “You don’t believe that I can go in there and take care of business? Why you know I’ve battled tougher opponents and—”

    “I have never doubted you, Artemys,” Meridia quickly told him, her stare coming back to him. “You know that to me you’re the best warrior in the entire world.”

    “So stop feeling so negative about this, then,” Artemys touched her right cheek suavely. “I will be alright. I am going to get to the bottom of this, and if it makes you feel better, I swear it. And then I will return to the guild to you, to everyone, and my daughter Rowena, who at this moment is surely sick worried about me and you all.”

    Meridia sighed loudly. She remembered about Rowena Primrose then, and knew that indeed the young dragir had to be sick worried for them all.

    “I will look after her while you are out here,” Meridia promised. “You have my word on it, Artemys.”

    “I know. And should I not return by the morrow, then you’re in charge of the guild until my return, Meridia.”

    The warrioress did not like those words, and she hesitated in nodding, but she did when Artemys added, “Got it?”

    The others joined Meridia and they all regrouped, although they barely did that, because none had the heart to leave their master alone out here. But they knew they had to, even against their will.

    A few seconds later, after saying their farewells to their master and having wished him luck, they started walking back to where they had left their mounts upon arrival. Now then, horses were a very popular means of transportation all over the surface realms, but Artemys and his guilders did not travel on horses to their faraway destinations, they never had. No, every warrior that joined the Primrose Guild had to learn how to ride a Sumahnrihi, which was a four-legged furry beast with looks similar to a wolf, except on their head they had two long horns sticking out to the front just above their eyes, and their tail, which had no hair at all, rather scales, was sturdy, long, harsh, like a lizard’s, and had four spikes attached to a solid round bone at the end. The sumahnrihi were huge beasts, a little bit bigger than a rhinoceros. Their upper torso was bulkier than their lower body. Their front arms were stronger than their hind legs. Though very strong and heavy beasts they were, they were vegan and docile creatures, and they could cover ground faster than a horse despite their size. They were rarely seen freely about now in the land of Dragiria, for the wild monsters there usually hunted them for their fur or to make of them food. So owning one was a luxury. Artemys had gotten his hands on those beasts twenty years ago after he began to make plans to open a guild in the human land of Ilitia. The six sumahnrihi had cost him quite a pile of gems at the bazaar in Crystal City, Dragiria, but the guild master descended from a rich Dragir House, so he’d had enough for that and much more. Now the guild had around twelve of the creatures, for they had mated, and there would have been more, except that Artemys actually provided these kinds of creatures to whoever wanted to buy them. Mostly his kin came seeking them all the way from Dragiria, but the guild master had also sold a few to royal families from the neighboring realms and even wealthy merchants.

    Rajim, catching sight of the group of sumahnrihi, which were covered in their own special amor and mount, and feeling upset that he had been dispatched back to the guild, even kicked several corpses as he walked with the trio of females. It was the witch who had to calm the young warrior down.

    From his place, Master Artemys kept his stare on the retreating group as they made it to their mounts. From her place near the beasts, Meridia used a small scepter to light the area and disperse the darkness. She gave orders to the group to tie sturdy ropes on the extra sumahnhiri so they would follow along. Six sumahnrihi had been brought out for the mission, with two warriors riding on top of each one. With the many warriors that had fallen, there were two of the beasts without riders, so Meridia and Rajim secured one each before mounting their own beast.

    Soon after, the group rode away to the southwest, the other riderless beasts following along. Meridia never stopped looking at Artemys as she rode away. How her heart trembled in sadness when she saw him standing there all by himself next to that portal.

    Be safe, my love, was what she prayed for with all her heart and might. And please return to us soon.

    The dragir had to wait more than five long minutes before he finally turned his attention to the glowing portal. He felt bad having dispatched the group back to the guild, but he knew that he had done the right thing; too many of his faithful warriors had already died out here trying to figure out why this portal had appeared.

    “Well this was a darn good idea,” Artemys muttered as his eyes rose to stare at the moon. He took a deep breath to steady himself. As he stood there, he was remembering the past, although it was mostly the image of Shiya Lisianthus what was burning his mind and nothing else.

    But his eyes suddenly landed on the bodies of some of his fallen warriors, and, forgetting about his deceased wife for an instant, he walked towards one of the bodies feeling so sad. Seeing that body close to his feet, he fell on his knees and said as he grabbed a hold of the warrior’s arm, “I’m so sorry to have lost you, my friends. There will be time for me and the others to come and give you the proper burial you deserve. Your deaths will not be in vain, I promise, but for now, I am going to get to the bottom of this mystery.”

    He could have stayed there crying for their loss or shouting his lament, but Master Artemys stood up and glanced at the portal.

    Feeling so furious, he walked towards the portal. The dragir never hesitated in walking in, though his swords were in his hands when he did.

    ***
    Last edited by Mega Gobli; 2nd October 2014 at 10:33 PM.


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

  4. #4
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    Update time. Sorry for the long wait, I got a little busy.

    Intro (Part 4/4)

    Just as he had feared, the portal had sucked him in and had taken him to a distant plane. While traveling through the very fibers of space and time, Artemys felt queasy, lightheaded, and a little disoriented, but since it was not his first time traveling through a magical portal, the dragir endured the funny and sickly feeling. To him, it simply felt as if he was falling through an endless hole at a very rapid speed.

    While still in the portal, the dragir’s eyes saw a bright light way ahead. Artemys sucked in another breath and suddenly felt in control of himself once again. Without wasting time, he began walking towards the light knowing that it was the other end of the portal. When he cautiously stepped out of the door he noticed that he had come to the inside of some sturdy temple or building. It was very dark within the temple, surely nearly all shadow, but thanks to the light afforded by the glowing portal he’d just exited, the dragir could see high, dark walls rising on both sides. There was also a high ceiling and a floor of the same color. He was in some long corridor with little for the eye to see except the walls, floor and ceiling. Everything was quiet as well, and there was a rank smell hanging about the air.

    Knowing that the answers to all his questions perhaps awaited deeper inside this place, Artemys began walking forward, the dragir ever at the ready, his heart yearning to come upon sight of Shiya Lisianthus.

    The dragir traversed through the long corridor at normal pace, his footsteps being the only faint sound he heard as he walked. He felt like shouting out a hello, but he quickly gave up on that when he thought that it could be a bad idea. If there were evil monsters here, those wouldn’t be late in coming to greet him, and he did not really need to find himself battling hordes of them in this corridor.

    The dragir kept his cool and kept advancing on, and soon he came upon a wide room that contained many rising pillars on the sides and a few lining up in the middle as support to whatever it was that lay on top. Maybe there was nothing up there, and maybe there was another level, Artemys guessed there was another level, else the pillars in the middle had no reason to be there. It was darker here now that the portal had remained behind in the previous corridor, but Artemys’s eyes had somewhat adapted to the place already. Because just a little light still reached there, he could see his elongated shadow gracing the floor. Artemys Primrose stood there for a moment just observing around the room, the grip on his swords still tight.

    With his eyes now fully adjusted to the darkness, he noticed that near the walls stood fifteen to twenty foot high statues of horned beings, similar in looks to the monsters he had fought earlier on the surface world with his own warriors. As silent as possible and breathing calmly, the dragir went through that room and reached another door-like hollowed opening that led into the next room, or corridor. He noticed that the walls in this room ran horizontally and in other directions as well, and that they didn’t touch the ceiling above. It was as if they had been built to make of the room a large maze. The guild master had no idea that behind some of those walls lurked dark creatures ready to kill.

    Artemys knew he had to get to the bottom of this, so he did not let the maze-like area ahead scare him. He began walking anew, and only until he rounded one of the walls did Artemys make out one of the horny foes hidden deep in the shadows. Believing that he probably had walked into an ambush, he did not hesitate one bit and instantly went to work.

    Artemys rushed the hidden creature.

    The surprised incubus tried to defend himself from the oncoming dragir, who had somehow seen him. But Artemys was a master with the blades, and before the poor devil could even begin to bring up a blade to block, one of his blades had already cut the creature’s neck open. Blood spilled out and the incubus gurgled his last words as it slid down the wall quite dead. Knowing the creature was dead, the guild master was already turning around and surmising his surroundings well.

    Then, the other incubuses were upon the intruder. Making a ruckus, they suddenly appeared from all angles and began to surround him. They easily did that, and suddenly, before Artemys could even think about going to action, a kick on his butt from behind sent him stumbling forth. Another of the creatures extended out a leg and tripped him, causing him to fall to the ground. Once Artemys found himself on the ground, the creatures easily subdued him. Several of the demons grabbed his arms and quickly removed the blades from his hands before he could react. Then, one of the incubi, a tall, broad shouldered one, grabbed the dragir from the collar of his battle armor and lifted him up from the ground with one hand. Artemys and the creature saw each other eye to eye then. Believing he was doomed, Artemys kicked at the creature with his legs but didn’t manage to hurt it, for the tall creature wore a silver war plate underneath its sturdy leather outfit.

    Artemys turned to the use of other tactics by spitting at the creature’s face, his saliva wad hitting the creature right on the eyes.

    The incubus flinched when the saliva hit his face, but angered at what the mundane creature had just done, he threw him forcefully against the stone wall behind.

    Artemys hit the wall hard with his back and a loud thud, and he moaned in pain as he fell down to the ground. The blow hurt him quite a bit, but he soon stood up, to the surprise of the large incubus, who was just clearing the saliva off his face. The dragir, shouting loudly, ran towards the large foe, jumped up at the last second before running into him, and planted his right foot hard on the creature's chest. He bounced back and landed gracefully on the hardened ground below, but though he had managed to stagger his opponent a step back, he had not hurt him at all.

    This caused the demon to laugh out loud, and the others surrounding them laughed as well.

    “Get him, Badraq,” cried one of the smaller incubi with a sharp, funny voice.

    The creature had spoken in the demon tongue, so Artemys did not understand a word of it.

    Badraq, as the incubus was called, indeed went to do just what his kin had said, but Artemys was already waiting for his arrival. As the incubus had been laughing, Artemys had called upon his inner magical powers. He had summoned extra power to his fists in order to damage and perhaps kill that foe. When the incubus came to within reach, Artemys nailed him with a couple of well placed punches on his torso that could have broken ribs and downed another monster quite easily. But this incubus, and the other ones as well, were wearing a magical protective barrier on their armor, so even though Artemys's blows bent the armor inward a bit and hurt him this time, the monster took the damage quite well and did not fall. But he had felt the crushing sting of those blows, and he became the angrier. Artemys, surprised that that monster had not fallen, hit him twice again, this time on the side and near the liver. The incubi groaned in pain but managed to grab his foe. Again, he lifted him up and brought him to the front, only to strike him hard on his torso with his strong forearm. The blow sent the dragir crashing back to that wall once again, this time, a bit harder. When the guild master had kissed the cold ground, he spit out blood and felt the need for air. Before he could even think about rising, several of the incubi went to him with wicked, pleased laughs and began to kick him hard. The tall incubus, wanting some more action, merely tossed some of his kin away in order to clear space so he could have his fun with the fallen fool. He, himself, wanted to kill this intruder for what he had done to him, and that was that he had managed to inflict pain to him, a thing the giant demon had not felt in a long time.

    “Move, you idiots,” he shouted in his deep low voice as he tossed his kin aside. “This pathetic fool is mine.”

    When the dragir was all his, the incubus kicked Artemys hard on the side, sending him away about four feet, the blow forcing him to fall on his back. The incubus then placed his left clawy foot on his armored torso, pinning him against the floor so he couldn’t slip away. Issuing a wicked little laugh, the incubus drew a dark axe from his back and raised it up overhead using his two hands.

    Artemys, grunting, struggled to remove that foot away.

    “Time to die, weakling,” Badraq said with a nasty grin.

    The demon would have gladly gone on to kill the dragir, but a loud shout stopped him from doing that just as he had begun to bring the axe down.

    “Noooo! That’s Master Artemys, fools!”

    The shout’s echo resounded all over the place so many times. The tall incubus became frightened and turned around, so did the other incubi.

    The dark deity had left her hiding place and had come forth to where the demons had put her prize to the ground. In her anger, she grabbed the nearest incubus and chocked the life out of him. Angrily, she tossed that one away and her mighty hand came forth seeking another of the incubi, but the group had retreated far away when they had seen her approaching, and so they all slipped away from her reaching grasp.

    Queen Zemira of Hell cast them all a nasty look and they all cowered before her menacing glare.

    The queen of Hell let her anger reside, for she had other important matters to attend to than to choke the life out of her servants. She looked down at the fallen dragir, who was on all fours but beginning to rise up, his watery eyes on her. As he was rising up, Artemys easily made out the powerful aura of the figure that had just arrived to his aid. Artemys knew that it was the aura that he had registered outside, and he felt doomed, then, for he was unarmed and felt eighty percent defenseless like that.

    “Are you alright?” the figure asked him, and those words surprised the dragir, but more surprised was he when the figure called forth magic and illuminated the wide room with a large ball of light, which she tossed up high in the air. The ball disappeared, but the light remained illuminating the entire place.

    Artemys—and the incubi as well—closed their eyes as the rays of light stung their eyes badly, they all even used their forearms protectively. After a few seconds, Artemys lowered his right forearm and opened his eyes again. And he was able to see clearly, but he did blink several times. His dark brown eyes fell upon the gigantic being standing close to him.

    “Sorry for hurting your eyes like that,” said the horned figure as she stared down at him. “But it had to be done.”

    “W-Who are you?” Artemys asked with one of his arms touching his chest, surely not wanting to waste a dialogue. His breathing was becoming stable again, and when he had finished asking the question, he turned over his shoulder to regard the pack of demons, or whatever they were.

    “No need to fear them,” said the horned figure in all her majestic female voice. “They won’t hurt you now.”

    Before the tall figure he felt so vulnerable without his swords, and he even looked around for them with the movement of his eyes, but the demons that had disarmed him still had the weapons with them. And the demon that the deity had chocked to death had landed far away close to the right wall, so Artemys knew there was no chance he could attempt to get to the fallen body and retrieve a weapon from it, though he considered it and knew that if it came to that action he’d have no choice but to attempt it. He doubted that his magic would be fast enough to hurt the powerful figure, so he discarded using any.

    Artemys nodded at her, trusting that she spoke the truth.

    “So, who are you?” he asked again.

    “A friend to you, perhaps, and perhaps not,” replied Zemira, her eyes on the dragir. “But I just saved your life, and before you go getting any crazy ideas, you have no need to thank me for that. Nor do you need to fear me, or the fools behind you. I have little desire in killing you; quite the contrary, really.”

    The dragir stared at the tall being in silence, and little by little he began to feel better, his pain was leaving him. With light now lighting the room he saw the long horns and the white, long hair on her. Her face, which showed several tattoo-like spots on her forehead and cheeks, was thin and beautiful, yet with a macabre glint on it as well. Her eyes were very dark in color, her skin a light gray tone, and her body was slim yet sturdy-looking and covered with a mere strapless dark gown separated at the waist by a black belt, which held several items and weapons. If she wore any kind of shoes or boots, Artemys could not tell since the gown touched the ground.

    “Are you...a demon?” Artemys asked casually.

    Zemira chuckled. “Good guess. Yes, I am a demon, much as you are dragir and from the upper realms.”

    With the clarification, Artemys nodded slightly and laid eyes on her once again. The dragir noticed that she was taller than him by a lot; at least she measured six-eight, Artemys estimated.

    “In fact,” Zemira added. “Let me make it clear to you. I am actually Zemira, queen of the succubae and incubi, and ruler of this place.”

    “Queen of demons?” Artemys breathed heavily, surely surprised. “Then that means I am stepping on ground of one of the five demon worlds? Hirithel, perhaps?”

    “Hmph, hardly,” Zemira felt sick to her stomach. This was due to the dragir having believed that he was in one of the realms of Inferno. The demons that inhabited those planes were believed by Zemira to be weaker than her own incubi and succubae, thus the deity had felt sick and a little upset, and besides, she had other reasons. “You are in Hell, Master Artemys,” she confessed proudly. “The realm of eternal torments and pains.”

    Artemys was shocked to hear the name of the place where he apparently was, but more shocked was he at the mere fact that the deity knew his name. While he had been down and trying to get that demon’s foot off of him so he could roll out of harms way, he had not heard the deity shouting his name.

    “How...do you know my name?”

    “How I know your name matters not,” Zemira told him. The goddess crossed her slender arms over her busty chest. “What I want with you does matter, however. That is why you have been brought here.”

    Artemys remained quiet and just thinking about what she had said. He looked around just to have a better understanding of his surroundings; the dragir even glanced over his shoulder to where the demons stood in wait. He saw the two that held his weapons and wished he could have them back. Then the image of his daughter crossed his mind, and the guilders that he had sent back to the guild not too long ago.

    “Wait,” Artemys said, his stare returned to the tall deity. “You...have a need of me?”

    Zemira merely nodded.

    “Tell me then,” Artemys went on. “Is that why the portal appeared out there? Because you have need of my services?”

    “I created that gateway,” Zemira explained in all calmness, she even rolled her eyes. “It was intended to draw you here, Master Artemys. Your reputation as guild master and warrior precedes you.”

    “Why all the monsters, then?” Artemys asked, and just then did he realize that the dark beings that he and his group had killed out there looked like the ones standing behind him, only that the ones standing right behind him seemed taller and stronger, and somewhat a bit different in looks. He was surprised to not find any wights in sight, though, when earlier they had been pouring from that gateway by the dozens.

    “Well, we had to grab your attention,” chuckled the queen of Hell. “That was fodder, though, the lowest of the lowest here, so don’t think that my hordes aren’t worth a damn. You’d be surprised if you saw what else we have in store in our ranks.”

    “Your hordes killed seven of my men out there!”

    “Casualties of battle,” Zemira felt the anger residing within the dragir. She could tell that he was very angry at the loss of his friends. At their place, the incubi demons also felt the anger of the dragir, and so they began to line up close behind him, weapons at the ready; they would defend their leader if the dragir did something stupid, such as rush her in an attempt to kill her. Artemys turned his head over his shoulder when he heard their movement behind him, but his eyes quickly darted back to the beautiful giantess. He caught her shaking her head at the group behind him, probably letting them know that it was alright.

    “Those were good men,” Artemys declared then, his voice still full of anger and resent. “They were not only my soldiers, my servants, but they were my friends.”

    Queen Zemira did not like the angry glow behind the dragir’s eyes. She even shifted in her place and brought her hand down to clutch the hilt of one of her scepters. Again, Artemys did not miss a beat, he noticed her defensive movements.

    “I had to bring you here since I do have an offer for you and only you,” Zemira spoke when she felt safe from the threat of the dragir. “And I am sorry about your friends,” she lied, and she actually could have won an Oscar for her good act, for she even shook her head and then lowered it sadly. “I thought that you and your men would be able to deal with my fodder.”

    “Too many to handle,” Artemys spat, quite angry. “But my men were no cowards. They died on the battlefield bravely.”

    Yes, and most of them are minutes away from being judged and then tortured, silly, thought the queen, the giantess hiding a grin from the dragir.

    “As I said, I am deeply sorry for that,” Zemira continued when the dragir merely stared toughly at her. “Will you not hear my offer, good Master Artemys? Believe me, you really want to, and I think we both know why, eh?”

    Artemys was angry, but he was surrounded. With the sly smile that the queen was giving him, he understood that she had somehow played a role in the whisper that he had heard out there.

    The queen went on, knowing that time was of the essence.

    “She’s here, Artemys. Your wife, I mean. If you are thinking that it was all a trick from my part, I assure you that it was not. Shiya is here and waiting for you.”

    Artemys straighten up, and his sight fell firmly on the queen, the dangerous glow had faded from his eyes and now he seemed eager to learn more about his wife.

    “Where?” he demanded in such a loud tone that it echoed several times.

    Zemira smiled lightly; she had him.

    “Hidden from your eyes at the moment,” the queen of Hell revealed. “But I brought her here for a reason.”

    “To lure me in, no doubt,” accused Artemys, crossing his muscular arms.

    “Well there is that, yes,” Zemira admitted, mimicking his action with her own arms. “But no, she’s here for another reason.”

    “What other reason?” demanded Artemys, who long ago had forgotten about the existence of the incubi behind him.

    “Just hear me out, Master Artemys,” Zemira spoke up. “Time is of the essence here, and I’ve wasted too much of it trying to lure you in. I will be brief, so pay close attention to what I am going to reveal.”

    The dragir remained quiet but listening and staring at the tall deity.

    “My realm is unjustly threatened,” began Zemira, her voice serious. “Many are the enemies we've made over the passing of the centuries, most recently two of the five ruling lords of Inferno. That pair of mongrels betrayed and killed my brother when he attended a meeting that they set up. It was all a setup to get rid of him. He was lured in with talk of the lower realms uniting under one banner in order to amass enough force to go challenge the heavenly realm of Celestia. As I said, it was just a setup to get rid of him. Those cowardly idiots weakened our realm with his fall, and now I am next on their list. All they want is our territory and the service of those who bend their knee to my will. Their hordes are battling my own even as we speak, but we are losing the war, their numbers outnumber my own by three to one.”

    The queen paused, and Artemys thought that she needed that pause, for she looked tense now, very distressed. The queen of Hell continued talking soon enough, though.

    “Now, you may be wondering what you have to do with all this. Well it is simple, Master Artemys. You are a mercenary, you lead a guild of excellent warriors on earth, but it is your skill with the blades that I am most interested in. You are said to be the best out there, and thus I have a contract to offer you, or a job, if you want to call it that.”

    She paused and checked him over. Artemys nodded at her and even told her, “I am listening. Please go on.”

    “Follow me,” she invited him. “We can talk about this away from this maze.”

    Artemys thought about that for a second. He was still breathing, and apparently she had more on the matter to speak about, so he nodded and said, “Very well. After you.”

    She nodded back and then started to walk away and back to the place where she had been waiting at prior to her having to come to his rescue.

    “Our realm has never attacked another realm,” the demon queen spoke the truth as she and the dragir walked to that place. “At least not deliberately.”

    Artemys, trusting that the queen of Hell needed of his services badly and wouldn’t do anything rash, such as to kill him cowardly, nodded at her and lost all tension.

    “Ever since this realm was established, all we’ve done here is continue the legacy that was left to us by our forefathers and foremothers, but we’ve never had intentions of going to war with other realms, no matter if they were less powerful than us. But now, it seems fate has it that we will be conquered by those who once swore allegiance to us. That is, unless I do something about it. And I am, and thus I have brought you here.”

    Artemys nodded, the dragir wanting to hear the queen’s offer, which he knew was coming. The two came to a stop in a new room that was already well lit. There were just pillars on the side and some statues, but no maze-like walls.

    The queen of Hell stopped and looked upon the dragir, who also stopped his walk and regarded the tall being. Zemira carefully took a good view of the dragir, admiring all his features. For a dragir, a creature not of her kin and standard, he was alright, even handsome.

    “This is my plan, Master Artemys,” she said then. “I intend to go out of Hell and to these two realms of Inferno. Not with a big party that would gather so much attention, just me—and you.”

    Artemys slightly raised his eyebrows at that.

    “Should you accept my offer, your job would be to come with me and help me get rid of these two lords, Artemys. If they fall, their realms will be crippled, and my realm will be spared, saved from destruction.”

    “But I thought you said their numbers outweigh your own?” Artemys was confused. “What good does it do to kill the leaders if—”

    “Down here we have codes of honor as well, Master Artemys,” the demon queen said proudly. “If leaders fall, their hordes offer their loyalty and service to whomever it was that killed them. In my case, my brother is dead, but he died away from our realm and our hordes did not witness his fall at the hands of those lords. I am still alive, thus those who served my brother in this realm are mine to guide. But if I fall to those lords, well...you can probably picture the outcome. My hordes will have no choice but to bend knee to whoever disposed of me, or they could elect to be killed for not joining, but none tend to do that, after all, why die when you can continue living and serving another master?”

    “I understand now,” Artemys licked his lips. The dragir lowered his head down and began to ponder about it all. It was simple really, and he could already see the design of the demon queen’s plans: go out there, avoid attention, and get to the ruling lords undetected and kill them, perhaps in front of a few of their followers so they could witness their fall. Thus their soldiers would have no alternative but to bend knee to her and the war would be over, her realm spared from ruin, and she would become more powerful without a doubt.

    “Think about this well, Artemys,” Queen Zemira leaned in towards him as she said that, her words bringing the dragir back to reality. “For I have a good payment in store for you if you decide to lend me your aid. And I think you know what that payment is, right?”

    The dragir’s heart began to beat just a little faster with anticipation.

    “Enlighten me,” Artemys told her, and only because he was not sure what she meant. He knew that Shiya Lisianthus was involved, but he did not know how exactly.

    At that, the Queen rose back again to her normal stature and extended her arm out, calling forth her magic once again. In the distance to where she pointed at, there suddenly appeared a circle of light filled with assorted colored runes and symbols, which spun around it. Then the magical light died and there appeared the form of a figure that Artemys knew so well.

    “Shiya!” Artemys shouted and even rushed towards her the moment he saw her. The demon queen did not stop him, for her plan had been this all along: to get them together. Zemira followed after him, but she was in no hurry to disrupt the couple’s reunion after so many years, so she actually walked there. The eight incubuses followed along just in case their help was needed.

    “Artemys...” Shiya cried when she saw him.

    The two dragir, lost in a sea of wild emotions, embraced tightly as never before. Artemys had not even cared that Shiya looked different, part of her skin was still corrupted and he had seen that—and how had that hurt his heart—as he got closer, but he’d known right away that it was her. And Shiya, oh, she had dreamt of this reunion for a long time. Artemys was part of what she used to help herself deal with the torment she had to endure down here, to make the agonizing hours a little less painful.

    “I’m so sorry,” Artemys whimpered in tears as he kept the tall dragir hugged tightly. His wife was taller than him by six inches. “I shouldn’t have left you alone in that ruined monastery. I should have stayed with you...perhaps we both...”

    “Artemys,” Shiya felt his tremendous pain and the guilt that had been eating him inside all those years ever since she had departed from his side. She hugged him so tight that she never wanted to let go. “It’s alright, my love. What happened had to happen. It was not your fault, you fought bravely. You and the others were trying so hard to deal with those monsters. I was weak, I let my guard down. I let you down, and all those defenseless dragir, harpy, and lycan children that I was looking after. I am the one who’s terribly sorry, for with my passing I have given you so much pain and suffering.”

    They remained hugged tightly and exchanging words, but then, Artemys even kissed her mouth. So much was the love between them that the dragir did not care that his beloved was still not entirely regenerated fully.

    “Don’t worry, dame Shiya. It will all be over soon.”

    They both turned to regard the demon horde, particularly their tall leader, who was the one who had broken their sweet reunion.

    “She’s my payment,” Artemys declared without leaving a room for debate. “But how so?”

    Zemira cocked her head a bit and spoke.

    “Quite simple, really, Master Artemys. Help me get rid of the threat to my realm and I will mitigate both of your suffering by letting her go back to the mortal world. I actually had in mind sending her back to her place of torment once I dragged you in here and forced you to help me in return for your own freedom...but alas, I can spare her soul if you agree to help me.”

    “Are...you serious?” Artemys asked, surely shocked at the offer. Shiya, too, couldn’t believe what she had just heard. Feeling tremendous hope within, the tall dragir began to wipe her tears away. But she was confused, then. The dark deity had told her otherwise not so long ago. Had she had a change of heart, then? Shiya wondered if that was the case.

    “Serious is the threat that my realm is facing,” said Zemira. “So yes, I am serious about it. She’ll be given her life back and will be allowed to leave through that same portal that you used to come here, Master Artemys, and she’ll be able to live her life as if she’d never lost it. I can’t, however, guarantee that you will see her alive should you return from your mission, for you know damn well the dangers of your own world.”

    Artemys nodded at her words, for it was true. Yes, the surface realm was a mess as well. Danger lurked everywhere and death happened to many beings on a daily basis. But Shiya was getting her life back, and that’s all he cared about at the moment. If the demon queen had somehow decided to send her back to her place of torment, Artemys, of course, would have fought her and her party of demons before he let that happen. The dragir, though, was grateful that the dark deity had allowed Shiya to return to the mortal world.

    “You know that she could die out there even before you and I complete our work,” continued Zemira, the deity staring hard at Artemys. “If she dies again, I will not give her back to you ever again. Do you understand?”

    Artemys looked upon his beloved, and Shiya looked at him. With his stern gaze he let her know that she better take care of herself, because he did not want to lose her again. Shiya understood the meaning behind his stare, and so she nodded at him whilst she grabbed his hand. She would not die again!

    “So long as you don’t cheat us by going after her after I’ve accepted your deal, then all is fine,” Artemys looked as serious as ever, and his eyes gleamed with the promise of death before the observant eyes of the dark deity. “You cheat me, or her, in some way, I promise to do everything in my power to make you pay dearly.”

    “Fair enough,” said the demon queen. “I am glad you understand, and I also understand your words, Master Artemys. No, you can relax, for I have no need to go after something that one day will return to me.”

    “Good,” the dragir said, ignoring her hot and truthful statement. “But you will have to wait a long time for that, I do tell you.”

    Knowing fully well that dragir had the ability to live up to a thousand years, the demon queen gave him a slight nod.

    Satisfied, Artemys turned to regard his wife and touched her cheek.

    “As to you, Artemys,” Zemira brought the dragir’s eyes back upon her. “You will be free to return to your world as well, perhaps to your wife, if she still lives, but only after you’ve helped me deal with the threat. If you fall, though, if somehow you and I fail, I won’t be able to guarantee you that, though. So, what say you? Will you still accept my deal even after this I’ve just told you? Even after you’ve come to know that your life will also be in peril?”

    Nodding quickly, Artemys said, “Of course I accept. I will deal with things as they present themselves to me.”

    “As I knew you would,” Zemira seemed pleased. She turned around and spoke to the leader of the incubi, who happened to be the broad shouldered one that had almost killed Artemys earlier. She gave instructions to him to see to it that Shiya got out through that portal once she was her own self, and she used the common tongue so as not to have Artemys and Shiya doubt or suspect of her. “The portal will lose its power and close when Shiya goes through it, Badraq,” she explained to her lackey, but she also eyed Artemys and his wife. “Once they’ve said their farewells, you give back Master Artemys his weapons and bring him to my chamber as soon as possible after she leaves, you hear?”

    “It will be done, my queen,” bowed the strong demon.

    “I will give you the time you need to say your fare wells,” the demon queen told the couple. “But as to me, I bid you excuse me, for I have to go prepare everything for our coming journey. Take as long as you want, Master Artemys, but don’t make me wait too long, remember that time is of the essence.”

    “I will be there soon enough, Queen Zemira,” Artemys promised. “For now, thank you for allowing this to happen. I’m very grateful towards you.”

    “Thank me only after we’ve dealt successfully with our agenda. Only then will thanks matter, good dragir.”

    Artemys could only nod at the truth.

    The tall deity gave Shiya Lisianthus a last look, a slight nod that wasn’t returned from the dragir, and then walked away, her dark gown trailing behind her and touching the mosaic dark floor.

    ***


    Artemys and Shiya took an hour of self time. Before that time ended, Shiya had fully recovered her beautiful semblance. In addition to hugging and kissing her so many times during their allotted time, Artemys spoke to her about their daughter and about how he had lived his life ever since he had lost her to the monster raid. The guild master had not even hid from Shiya the feelings that he’d had for another dragir that he had met, he confessed to her about the relationship he had going with another dragir named Meridia.

    Shiya felt her heart a bit cold and hurt then, but she understood that it might have been hard for him losing her, and recently he had only begun to open his heart to a new dragir. It was bound to happen, a law of life. She felt a wave of jealousy, though, but only briefly because she quickly put herself in his place and knew that she probably would have done the same over a period of time if she had lost him.

    “Do you love her?” Shiya asked him, a little too casual, though, as if it was just a simple question to test Artemys’s feelings.

    “I sincerely can tell you that Meridia and I were barely beginning to spin our romance,” replied Artemys coolly and with nothing but the truth. “So no, I didn’t get to the point where I came to love her. I cared for her, and still do, but I don’t love her like I do you.”

    Shiya nodded at him, and within herself, her heart even accelerated in beat: he still loved her as he had before the final day that they had been separated with her passing. She loved him the same.

    “She will have to understand one day that what we had going was not meant to be,” added Artemys. “And you, Shiya, I hope that you can forgive me for not being faithful to you. I—”

    At that moment, Shiya put a finger to his mouth, as if letting him know that there was no need for explanation. “I have nothing to forgive, Artemys. I understand. But come, tell me about our daughter. Tell me how she’s grown up. I am surprised she survived the raid.”

    “I was barely able to return to the monastery before the monsters that killed you did away with her as well,” Artemys explained sadly. “I was able to save her and a few other children from a certain death,” Artemys lowered his head in shame, then. “But not all of them.”

    “I see,” Shiya knew pain when she saw someone display it, and Artemys still suffered because of that horrible lived moment. Not only had he lost her to the attack, but he had seen so many others perish that day, especially young ones.

    Reliving that dark day they cried and supported each other. But time was flying bye, passing so fast it seemed, and so Artemys knew he had to speak more about his daughter to her.

    “Rowena is waiting for me at my guild in southern Ilitia,” Artemys went on to reveal, and the guild master felt a wave of sadness knowing that Rowena would be so hurt when she learned that he was not coming back for a long while. “You should see what beauty she turned out to be. She has your face and grace, her grandfather’s golden hair, and her grandmother’s blue eyes. From me she only inherited my short height, my magical abilities, and perhaps my courage. Do look after her while I am gone.”

    “You know that I certainly will,” Shiya said in all seriousness. “That is, if I can manage to convince her that I am her mother...”

    Artemys grimaced at that.

    “I know it will be so tough for you and her, and all the others that surround her, but they will understand what’s come to happen, these turn of events, I am sure of it. I wish I could be there with you when you arrive; explaining everything would be much simpler. But heck, what can we do, Shiya? I am just glad that you’ve been granted your life back. This is truly like a dream to me—a sweet dream from which I don’t want to wake up.”

    “All will be well in time, my love,” Shiya soothed his anguish. “You just concentrate on what you have to do now. You help this deity in her endeavor. I bet it won’t be an easy task, but I have all my faith in you and know that you won’t fail.”

    Artemys nodded at that, but he did not care about what he had to do, or about how hard this task could be. All that mattered to him was that Shiya would be going back to the surface world and get another chance at life. He’d do everything in his power to be successful in his mission so that he would return to her and their daughter, and all of those who he knew were awaiting his return.

    A few moments later, Badraq coughed from his place where he was waiting.

    Artemys knew that he had spent nearly an hour at Shiya’s side, and he knew that it would be for the best if he went to take care of business. And so it was that he and Shiya shared the longest hug ever, and they kissed again passionately. Artemys promised her that he would return to her and their daughter, and she promised him that she would be waiting for him.

    Minutes later, with several tears falling from his eyes, he was witness to Shiya exiting the realm of Hell through the portal. Crying is how Shiya had entered the portal, and crying is how she had abandon it knowing that her love remained inside in that dark realm of torment and pain.

    Under a starry sky, she turned around and noticed how the glow on the portal was dying. Would she ever see Artemys again? If so, how soon? Part of her life, she knew, was still in there, and only until Artemys came back safe to her, she’d be complete and truly happy, just as they had been before the monster raid had claimed her life.

    And as to Artemys, when Shiya had left and the portal had finally vanished thanks to the magical work of Queen Zemira, he collected himself and then turned around and faced Badraq the incubus, who had been staring at him.

    “Are you ready?” he said in his deep low voice.

    Artemys just nodded at him as he came close to where he stood.

    “Follow me, then. My queen’s main chamber is far from here, but I will guide you there.”

    Half an hour later, the dragir was escorted directly to the queen’s chamber, just as she had ordered. And once inside her majestic, private quarters, Artemys told her, “I’m all yours, Lady Zemira. I’m ready to serve you in order to fulfill my contract.”

    Holding a serious face across the room in her spot, Zemira, who was now differently dressed in her dark battle raiment and even a spiky helmet on her head, nodded at him and replied, “Let us haste, then. We have not a moment to lose.”


    *****
    Last edited by Mega Gobli; 2nd October 2014 at 10:33 PM.


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

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    Chapter 1: The Bad News

    Primrose Guild Grounds, Southern Ilitia, 13th of Leaf, Year 2523


    Who would have known that such beauty would be ruined that new early day with a doses of bad news? The young dragir had a kind-looking, thin face, and the few dark grayish scales on it enhanced its beauty even further. She also had dark horns on her head and a pair of radiant blue eyes that at times glistened stronger than the stars themselves. Her long and smooth blonde hair fell at her back tied in a fat braid that nearly touched the ground. Nearly, but not quite, as her hair reached down just past the back part of her thighs. Rowena Primrose was that beauty’s name, and she was the only child of Artemys Primrose, a wealthy and powerful guild master.

    With the company of three guild members, the moon and the flickering stars above, and a few crickets and a horned owl that played their chirping and hooting melodies somewhere amidst the brush and nearby trees, the young dragir had been waiting in the front patio of the guild for the group to arrive from their mission. Rowena and her companions had been waiting there in the patio for about four hours now, so they were sitting on wooden chairs that they had brought out when night had fallen hours ago. The hour at that time was around half an hour past midnight. Rowena indeed had been worried for the party ever since nightfall had fallen the previous day, but suddenly, there came a warning shout from a female guild member who was keeping watch on one of the watchtowers of the guild.

    “Riders up ahead!” the girl called out after she had spotted a group in the distance. “Wait...it’s them! They’ve returned.”

    Upon hearing the Sasatoan’s words coming from the rising northern tower, Rowena stood up from her chair in a hurry. She walked forth about ten steps, her stare out to the darkened prairie. Soon, her eyes also saw the approaching group, and she couldn’t help it but smile. The young dragir waited for their arrival, hope and calmness rekindled.

    A tall, dark skinned, bald warrior who had been keeping her company also stood up, and so did the other two companions. One was a red haired, lithe girl who was taller than the young dragir but not taller than the other two warriors. The other one was a sassy-looking young blonde man who was dressed in a dark outfit with a hood attached at the back of his tunic. The dark skinned warrior wore black pants, a red shirt, and a dark, leathery overcoat that he usually wore unbuttoned. The red haired girl wore a simple brown blouse, a black and gray battle skirt with knee-length dark leggings underneath, and ankle-high dark leather boots. Having a great love for dresses as she did for her father, Rowena was dressed in an elegant two-color tea length dress. It was white on the torso and green on the lower end. As for boots, she was wearing a pair of black over-the-knee leather boots, the most recent style to hit the world, courtesy of the realm of Daciakus.

    “Why are there so few?” Rowena cried many seconds later after noticing the few riders on the beasts as they approached even closer. “Where are the rest? I...I don’t see my father amongst them...”

    “Calm down, Rowena,” the red haired girl said as she approached the dragir’s left side. “We’ll know soon enough.”

    The dark skinned warrior and the sassy-looking blonde man approached from Rowena’s right side.

    “My eyes see only four,” the dark skinned warrior pointed out, his hand caressing the dark hairs that composed his lock-style mustache and goatee. His words made Rowena shiver.

    The six beasts and the riders that rode them made it all the way to the large front patio of the guild, which was well lit thanks to a couple of torches and some magical and non-magical lanterns that hung in place on the stony wall. The riders dismounted right away, and as they did that, from the inside of the guild came walking out two more warriors, a young brunette man who was dressed in knightly armor and a full grown female harpy who had no wings whatsoever.

    “Lady Meridia,” Rowena rushed towards her own kinswoman. “I was so worried about you all. Where are my father and the others?”

    For a few seconds, Meridia remained without being able to speak words and just looking at Artemys’s daughter. She then contemplated the rest of the warriors, for they, too, were looking for answers to that question.

    “How did it go, milady?” the dark skinned warrior asked.

    Just at that moment, Umika, Rajim, and Shan stood behind the dragir warrioress and all displayed terrible and sad faces that the rest of the group easily read.

    “Rowena, just relax,” Meridia approached and grabbed the young dragir by the shoulders. “And you all as well, for I’ve got some terrible bad news to relate to you all.”

    Rowena swallowed hard and believed that something awful had happened to her father. Her cute face deformed in terrible sadness and she asked, “By Cierna’s love, d-did something bad happen to my father?”

    “No, of course not,” Meridia calmed her down right away. She let go of the dragir’s shoulders and scratched the back of her head. “I’m sure Master Artemys is fine, but...” she lowered her stare to the ground, unable to look them in the eye. “we did lose all the others out there...”

    “Wha...What?” Rowena couldn’t believe what she heard. Even though she was glad that apparently her father was well, the news of the other warriors being dead surely shocked and hurt her to the core, as it did the others, who became stricken then.

    “Please tell me you lie, lady Meridia,” the dark skinned warrior begged with a very worried and saddened semblance.

    “I wish I could do that, Frankus,” Meridia sounded very hurt. “But it’s not possible. The rest that you don’t see here with us fell out there. All are dead.”

    “H-How?” the red haired girl’s voice sounded numb and her eyes were on the verge of tears. “How is that possible, dame Meridia?”

    “Calm down, Abbey,” Meridia said. “I’ll relate to you all what happened out there. But first, we must take care of these beasts. They are tired after the long trip and need to rest. So, Matthew,” her eyes glanced at the blonde young man. “Go get the others out here while we put these beasts away.”

    “Aye, milady,” Matthew left in a hurry to take care of the order that had been given to him. Searching for the missing Sasatoan warriors would not be a problem since they both were stationed on the towers.

    “The rest of you wait right here,” Meridia told the others. “We’ll come back as soon as we put these beasts to rest.”

    Meridia and the warriors that had come with her took their leave and took care of incarcerating the beasts in their place at the back end of the guild, which was a wide area located in the west side.

    About ten minutes later, the entire group of warriors was reunited out on the front patio. Twelve total they numbered, with Rowena included. There, as they all formed a circle, Meridia told them about the mission, about how things had gone sour when from within the portal there had come out hordes of monsters against them.

    “Wave after wave of wights and these other weird-looking dark beings came at us,” Meridia explained somberly. “We fought hard, but there were just too many of them for us twelve to handle. Our friends soon began to fall. Cleeon fell first, unable to fend off a group of five wights. He was followed by Lady Rossaline. Draik fell next so close to me, and a few moments later my eyes saw the fall of Sister Eilyn. Reimac perished afterwards, and Yolem and Vao were the last two to die, they fell fighting back to back.”

    With Rowena and the others holding on to very sad faces or shedding tears, Meridia then went on to explain to them how it was that her father had sent them back to the guild.

    “It was your father’s decision to enter the portal alone,” she directed her words and stare at Rowena. “There was nothing we could do about it, youngling.”

    “Why? Why did you leave him?” Rowena cried.

    “We tried to convince him otherwise, Rowena, we all did,” the witch explained. “He refused. He even threatened to fire us all on the spot if we didn’t do as he said.”

    “Yes, that is correct,” Umika assisted. The Sasatoan was flanked by her other two Sasatoan comrades. “He used our damn contracts against us, the wily son of...”

    The other two Sasatoan females that flanked Umika were actually archers in the guild and related to each other; they both were cousins, but Umika was not related to them. One was named Ogogotitsu Ei and the other was named Jica Katuka. Ogogotitsu did not use a bow, rather her weapon of choice had always been an auto-reloading crossbow. She measured five feet and six inches in height, had a slender body, and grayish eyes. Just like Pandora, she too wore a three-piece ninja outfit that only left her eye zone visible. The other Sasatoan wore the traditional ninja outfit, too. Her visible eyes were brownish. Moreover, she was at least two inches taller than her cousin. Just like Ogogotitsu and Umika, she too, was an archer, perhaps the deadliest of the three with the bow, but she could also wield daggers effectively. Unlike the other two Sasatoans, though, Jica had a nasty scar running over her right cheek, part of it visible since it scratched the bottom part of her eye. Had she not been wearing that ninja mask, that scar would have made her look the meanest of the three. Moreover, she was also a tracker, a ranger of sorts who knew how to find the most hard-to-find tracks, so she earned more gems in pay than the other two Sasatoans did.

    As the two cousins remained flanking Umika with their arms crossed, they could not believe the explanation they were hearing. Neither could Rowena. Her heart felt like failing her, she felt very sad, and her tears just kept falling knowing that she would no longer see all those warriors that had died out there. But she was also hurt due to her father. He had broken his promise to her, and he had never done that before.

    “We had no choice but to obey, dear,” Meridia added before Rowena’s serious, yet tearful stare. “Our reputation as warriors was on the line.”

    The other warriors nodded at that, and Shan the witch confirmed it by adding, “Master Artemys just didn’t want to lose more of us in there, that’s what led him to make that decision.”

    Rowena shook her head in denial and kept weeping in silence in front of all the warriors. But her felt pain was so much that she soon left the patio and ran to the inside of the guild seeking her own room. Often when she was hurt or upset, she had sought solitude in that same way: her room. How many times had her father come to comfort her or cheer her up in that room? Many times! But as she locked herself within, Rowena had this weird feeling in her gut that he wouldn't be showing up to do that this time around. Sad and very hurt, she turned around once she locked the door and her eyes fell upon a small weird creature that lay in the middle of her wide bed, a creature that had been looking at her. The creature was a Basux from the land of Dragiria, a gift from her own father on her last birthday a couple of months ago.

    Rowena had a few Siamese cats and even a pair of Doberman dogs in the guild, but that scaly, horned creature was her favorite pet, and Rowena also believed the creature was her closest friend, for she often spoke her secrets to it. The basux was the size of a full grown cat, and when Rowena threw herself on the bed, the runt-sized, argent dragon, for indeed the creature was a relative of the dragon monster race, was quick to go to her. Rowena kept on crying and lamenting the loss of all the warriors, not to mention feel bad because her father had not returned. She stroked the gentle basux’s scaly coat tenderly and remained there at her side, for the basux was a female.

    Meridia was not Rowena’s father, of course, but she had called out her name when she had left them, and she had even gone after her in an attempt to comfort her and make her feel better, but Shan Styles had grabbed her by the arm before she could leave and had told her that Rowena needed to be left alone at that moment.

    “She needs me,” Meridia protested. “Artemys told me that I should take care of her and I plan to do just—”

    “And you’re going to make her feel better by doing what?” the witch interrupted her. “By being at her side and telling her that her father is going to be alright? No, not even you can be sure Master Artemys will be alright.”

    Meridia screwed her face in bewilderment. “What are you trying to say?”

    “Nothing bad, if that's what you're thinking,” Shan shook her head. “Look, we all know that you care greatly about Rowena, but this time I think it is best if you just let her be alone for a while. Sometimes we need to be alone in order to sort out our feelings or problems. Right, people?”

    “I agree,” the harpy gave her opinion and caused Meridia to regard her.

    The harpy was part human and part bird. Her six-foot tall body had the same structure of a humanoid, but there were some dissimilarities, as always seemed to be the case with non-human species. Her feet had four talons instead of thumbs and nails, three up front and one at the back. On her back she would have had a large pair of dark feathery wings had a group of slavers in her homeland of Dragiria not cut them off ten years ago. Her skin color was a deep copper tone, and her eyes were entirely black, with no visible pupils whatsoever. Her ears shot upwards like a demon’s; they were pointy and full of small, valuable earrings. Part of her skin, especially the sides of her neck, arms, and legs, was riddled with black and grayish spots of assorted sizes, though none bigger than a marble. Her face was similar to a human’s, the only differences were her teeth, which were vampire-like in design, with two large pointy fangs dropping down on either side, and the small dark symbols that had been tattooed on her face a few months after her birth ninety five years ago. The harpy kept her long, thick pumpkin-color hair neatly tied in a twisting bun at the back of her skull, from which sprouted at least ten smaller braids. Her shins and wrists were wrapped with white cloths, and she wore no sturdy armor like most of the warriors of the guild did, but she did wear her own piece of warrior outfit, which was a two-piece combo featuring tight, gray leather shorts and a bluish long-sleeved blouse which had weird white symbols painted on it. She also wore many amulets around her neck and carried several satchels attached to her waist belt, from which there also hung a scabbard with a sabre within.

    “She must have support, Melfalás,” Meridia insisted at the harpy, and she walked near the large door that led into the guild. She stopped there and regarded the warriors. “You all are excused,” she told them. “Those of you who still have dark hour vigil duties get to it, the rest of you can go get some rest or do whatever you wish. I’m going to go and see if I can comfort Rowena.”

    Meridia trespassed a few large rooms and hallways in order to get to Rowena’s room. When she knocked on the elegant-looking white wooden door, the dragir did not open the door to her and told her to leave her alone.

    “I don’t wish to speak to anyone,” Rowena said from within her room. “Please leave me alone, Meridia.”

    But Meridia was not one to give up so easily. She remained there trying to convince Rowena to open the door for her for several hours, but then she gave up when she believed Rowena had probably fallen asleep in her sadness and worry. The young dragir, though, had not fallen asleep. She remained wide awake for the remainder of the early morning hours surely hoping that her father came back to her, to them all.

    The guild master did not appear, and that only made her feel worse, so bad, in fact, that Rowena did not come out to eat the next morning, nor at noon, or at night. Awaiting the return of her father, the dragir remained in her room in total solitude and with the presence of her scaly pet for three long days and nights that to her seemed like an eternity.

    But Rowena was not the only one who had become sick with worry, the rest of the guild members also became worried when the days went passing by and there was no sign of their leader. During the passing of those days, Meridia had kept everyone’s hopes high when she kept telling them that they mustn’t lose faith in the guild master so easily, that he would arrive any given moment. However, when the days had gone by, she could not believe that Artemys had not returned. After the first day she had become the head of the guild, just as Artemys had mentioned it to her, however, that important position didn’t even last long in the dragir’s mind, for she was worried for the guild master, more than she already had been since that night that he had not allowed them to go into the portal. At three o’clock in the afternoon of the third day, she spurred to action.

    Meridia and seven other members of the guild, including Rowena, who had rapidly come out of her room when Meridia had told her that they were going out to search for her father, had returned to the site where the portal had appeared. They rode on the sumahnrihi beasts and were there in three and a half hours. When they got to the site, it was close to nightfall. There remained no signs of the portal, though the field was still strewn with the corpses of the foes that they had battled on that fateful night. The dead beings already smelt very bad. The air stunk of death and the sick smell of rotting flesh. Vultures had already been hard at work on the bodies, too.

    Rowena’s sad and worried condition only worsened from that moment on when she imagined that her father had probably suffered a terrible wound within the portal and had come out of it only to die and was amongst the corpses. New tears fell from her beautiful bluish eyes, and she screamed in fear, “Father!”

    The dragir proceeded to run near the bodies in search for him. Rowena did not mind the sickening smell, she turned a few corpses over in her fear for her father’s well being.

    Knowing that the young pup was now losing it by thinking that the worst had come to happen to her father, Meridia knew she had to comfort her and maintain her hopes alive. She caught up to Rowena and told her that her father was not amongst the dead.

    Rowena, hearing her words, stood up and gazed at her. The tears on the dragir’s eyes forced Meridia to approach and console her, but Rowena swatted her hand away and reproached as she cried on, “My father is probably dead, and it’s all your fault! You all abandoned him! I will never forgive you all for this!”

    The young dragir then took off running, mounted a sumahnrihi, and rode away to wherever the beast took her. Meridia quickly snapped her fingers, through those very means ordering several of the guild members to ride after her. She would have gone after Rowena herself, but she had fallen to one knee feeling hurt at the truthful accusation and due to the fact that there was no sign of the portal nor the guild master.

    “Abbey! Frankus! Go after her!” Meridia shouted just seconds after Rowena had taken off and she had fallen to one knee. “Catch her and just wait for us at the guild.”

    “Yes, madam,” Abbey said.

    The red haired girl turned to Frankus and said, “Come on, Frankus. Let’s go!”

    “I’m right behind you,” Frankus was quick to go after the girl. The two warriors mounted a sumahnrihi and sped off after the guild master’s daughter. Meridia followed their movements with her eyes and knew well that they would catch up to the fleeing dragir, for Rowena wasn't riding fast; she had merely run away in all her desperation, pain, and sorrow.

    Rajim I’dar, Shan Styles, Umika Koeki, and the young brunette warrior approached the kneeling dragir.

    “I fear for our master,” Rajim croaked, his voice not his own, rather there was a very deep sadness in it that made it sound slightly different, troubled. “All these days that have passed I’ve kept my hopes up that he’d return. But he hasn’t, and now with this here...no portal to be seen, I mean. I just...don’t know what to think anymore. He really could be dead. He really could have died in there.”

    Near him, the witch nodded in agreement, for she felt the very same way. The annoyed face she had on her was due to the foul smell that hung in the air.

    “Just give me a moment here,” Meridia plead. Her eyes were tearful, but she was thinking about how she and all the others should proceed with this matter as she began to clear them. Their guild master was gone, and Meridia did not know what to do to bring him back. She was hurt, very hurt.

    After sighing loudly, she finally stood up, the others knowing that she was hurting worse than all of them, more so because she was Master Artemys's girlfriend and was the one who had to make all these decisions in regards to the matter—all the weight was on her like a big boulder.

    “What are we going to do now, Mistress Meridia?” the brunette warrior asked. “Where do we go from here? You’re our new leader, right?”

    The brunette lad was confused and even shocked that the guild was going through this. A few days ago everything had been sweet and well at the guild, but now it appeared that everything was going to the ground. He just stood there hoping that this turned out to be a horrible nightmare from which he would wake up soon enough. But he knew it was no dream or nightmare, this was reality, and that had turned him quite sour. He had known the guild master only for a year so far, but during that span of time, he had come to love him because he had taught him so many things. Damera Lenheart was the young man's name. He usually was seen dressed in knightly armor that had once belonged to his brother, who had died serving the princess of Ilitia. Damera had been younger back then, thus unable to join the realm’s armada. His family lived through rough times the following five years and he had been forced to join Master Artemys’s guild at the age of seventeen. He had turned eighteen six months ago.

    “For now we ride back to the guild,” Meridia replied with a dry voice, noticing that they were all staring at her and awaiting her response. “I am afraid there is nothing else we can do here.”

    “But Master Artemys...” Umika seemed gloomy, her eyes very watery. “I don’t believe he’s dead, Meridia. There must be something else we can do for him...”

    Meridia shook her head at her. “There is nothing we can do for him except wait and keep hope that he’s fine, Umika.”

    “What if something happened to him, though?” Shan feared. All eyes landed on her, Meridia's pair of emerald jewels almost wanting to devour her for having said that. “What if what Rajim spoke earlier is true? What if he died in that portal?”

    No one said a word, but now Meridia really wanted to consume the witch with her eyes for believing that.

    “Well it’s a possibility, isn’t it?” Shan said when she felt accused. At that moment, the beautiful witch wished that the earth would open up and just swallow her whole.

    “We don’t know if he’s alive or dead,” Meridia pointed out, the dragir touching the bridge of her nose and feeling very bad within after Shan's comment. “All we can do is wait and pray. But even so, we have to move on and not despair while we do that. You all know that master Artemys is a great warrior; we must not lose hope in him so easily.”

    That was more easily said than done. They all respected their leader and knew what he was capable of, but reality was that he was nowhere to be found, and the portal which he had entered was gone. What hope could they cling to?

    “Nightfall will cover the land soon,” Meridia said as she stared at the sun, which was shining its last rays of light as it went down in the far western distance. “It’s best if we return to the guild.”

    “What about our fallen comrades?” Damera asked. “Don’t they deserve a better burial? I can’t stand seeing these damned vultures picking them apart...”

    “We’ll bury them, then,” Meridia nodded, agreeing. “They at least deserve that much.”

    At Meridia’s orders, the group returned to the guild that day, but not before having given their fallen comrades a proper burial. As to the other corpses, Meridia and the rest had piled them up and then burned them; the realm did not need the rise of a deadly disease because of the dead monsters.

    ***


    Primrose Guild Grounds, Southern Ilitia, 15th of Leaf, Year 2523


    Late at night at the guild, Meridia had a lot on her mind. She sat all by her lonesome behind a barricaded stony balcony that held a giant ballistae in place on one of the corners of the guild’s paved rooftop. The rest members were either asleep, or, as was Damera’s case that night, in the southern tower that was attached to the guild’s paved ramp, which led up to the rooftop. From within the tower, Damera also kept watch for signs of trouble. Often in the past, the lad had fallen asleep while keeping watch, but not this night. His dark eyes were well opened as he scanned the nearby surroundings.

    Master Artemys Primrose’s guild was big, huge if compared to other guilds of Ilitia. Because they were isolated from the bigger cities and located in the middle of nowhere in the southwestern reaches of Ilitia, the dragir had not just built a small guild, but a fortress that could well withstand a sudden, large attack. Sturdy stone was the guild’s primary component, but mortar and wood, as well as other elements, had also been used to make it look good on the inside. Four small watchtowers ascended in every corner, and though the front part of the guild had no protective wall beyond it but just a grassy patio with a bunch of trees and brush that led to the prairie itself, the rest of the guild was surrounded by twenty-foot-high walls. The outer part of the surrounding wall was riddled with sharp, metallic objects, so as to keep enemies from scaling them. The walls also held several defensive magical wards in place, wards that could even prevent explosive devices from blasting them. On the inside part, the entire length had wide catwalks where warriors could station themselves to defend it from possible invading foes since the wards did not last forever. A paved ramp that separated the front of the guild from one of the towers led up to the high rooftop, which also provided plenty of defensive spots, such as the four ballistae located on every corner of the main base and also the safe spots behind a five foot stone wall that surrounded the entire rooftop and from which archers or magicians could fire freely without fear of exposing too much of themselves. That was just the outside and the inside section of the walls and rooftop. Within those protective stone walls, there was a large backyard separated by more stone walls, though these smaller in size. The sumahnrihi had their home in a vast space on the western side, with a small protective rooftop on one side, this for protection against the weather, which often turned foul. There was also space where several wagons were kept, provisions stored, as well as elephant ears, which was a type of large plant resembling a leaf that served as food for the sumahnrihi, and other rations for the sumahnrihi beasts. And, just outside the wide door that led to the backyard of the guild, there was a large grassy patio with benches, a long table, trees, well-trimmed bushes, and even a large fountain where members could just chill out. The Doberman dogs had their small space there as well.

    The main living quarters, which was a two-level rectangular structure, not only resembled the halls of a royal castle, but the halls of ancient House Primrose in Dragiria. The mortar walls had been painted white with several stripes of red near the upper and lower sections. The hardened floor had been covered with smooth wood and royal carpets brought from the very land of Vitas, where the carpet business was at. Chandeliers of gold and silver adorned the ceilings of several main rooms, such as the dining area, the main hallway, the washing rooms, Artemys Primrose’s office, Rowena’s room, and a few large rooms that were used by the members of the guild with the highest rank. The furniture was also top notch, much like the royal families of the realms used in their castles. Artemys, though, having wanted to give his guild a taste of Dragiria, had bought and brought over pieces from his homeland. Portraits, weapons, shields, and other ornaments adorned nearly every wall, including many golden and silver marble statues. Within the main living quarters, Artemys had a special large room where the portraits and belongings of his ancestors could be found. He often took walks alone in there, and often accompanied by his daughter, or those that had been curious to learn about his ancestry and past lived life in Dragiria. The room was like a small museum, in truth.

    Underneath it all, there was the subterranean level, which was mostly used to store extra provisions, house more guild members in the case that there were too many to be given a room at the main house, and also as escape routes that led to a nearby forest to the west and an open prairie to the south. The biggest subterranean room was the sparing hall. There members of the guild honed their skills and at times even held in-house tournaments in order to earn ranks and higher pay. There were wooden dummies lining a wall, an assortment of wooden-made weapons, and other training tools used by the members to enhance their muscles and fighting skills. That large rectangular room often saw the visit of warriors, even of Master Artemys, who at times went to observe his workers and also to take part in the tournaments if he felt like it. Since he was beyond most members in skill, he rarely participated, but he had often supported such tourneys with his presence.

    So the guild was a big safe place that also offered lots of things to do. Though human hands had been used for some of its construction, Artemys had also brought in a large group of dragir and other workers of assorted races from his homeland to help with the construction of his dream guild. After two years of hard labor for Artemys and those one hundred or so workers, the guild had been ready to operate. From the very first day that it had been opened for business, the guild was still going strong. Because it was such an extraordinary looking site, surely representing a small castle out in the middle of nowhere, it had soon earned the name “The Jewel of the South”. Still, most people, most notably the dragir haters, simply knew the place as The Primrose Guild.

    After its creation those years ago, other sites had been constructed close by, such as Ilitian armada watchtowers, forts, trading posts, and some villages had been established as well. The Jewel of the South had company, but most of the time it was the guilders who had to protect all their neighbors from the constant threats.

    The moon was full that night and stared down at the guild like a gigantic protective eye. As Meridia stared back at the round beauty from her place, in the dragir’s mind there was Artemys, mostly, but there was also young Rowena, whom she had to take care of. So far, she had not been able to take good care of her as she’d love to do, and that saddened Meridia quite a lot. Moreover, as her eyes scanned the large stone-fenced area where the sumahnrihi rested at ease, she was reminded that she had yet to go and deliver word to Princess Ella Sapphire about the situation. She had hired their services after all and was probably awaiting word on the matter ever since the first day that Artemys had accepted the contract from her.

    Because she knew that Rowena was her top priority, the dragir decided that come the daylight she would send Rajim and Shan to take care of relaying the news to the princess. Maybe Rajim was Alarkian and a scary looking fellow. With his looks, Meridia was sure that he would unsettle the princess, but Shan would take care of the talking, Rajim would just go along in case some muscle was needed. Just as the country side was filled with danger, so too, were the streets of the big cities and towns. Ex-assassins, thieves, and desperados looking to make a quick buck off of some ignorant fool called those streets their territory. The Primrose guilders had dealt with several problems of that sort before, thus Rajim's company would serve the witch well, not that she couldn’t have handled a pack of rogues; Shan could have, in truth.

    Keeping a good eye out for signs of trouble, Meridia spent three more hours on that rooftop until she was relieved by the tallest member of the guild, who was Frankus. No trouble had come the guild’s way during that time that Meridia had spent watching out for trouble because long ago Master Artemys and all his warriors had cleaned this region from the greatest threats. Still, at times there was bound to be trouble, as packs of wild goblins, orcs, riotous lizardmen known as domiki, bandits, rogues, and other assortment of monsters and beasts came passing through.

    “You go catch some sleep now, boss,” Frankus told the dragir with a smile. As usual, the six-foot-five-inch tall warrior was well equipped to look out for trouble, and his usual Sasato-made cup filled with coffee was in his right hand.

    “Don’t have too much fun,” Meridia pat him on the shoulder and was off toward the ramp.

    “I won’t,” Frankus chuckled.

    ***


    Early the next day, right after Shan and Rajim left on their mission riding one of the sumahnrihi, Meridia quickly headed to Rowena’s room to check up on her. Last night she had refused to eat and talk to anyone, and that had really worried Meridia. Believing that she would not allow her to enter, Meridia knocked lightly on the wooden door and softly called out her name.

    “Rowena?”

    To the new guild leader’s surprise, Rowena, with a soft, broken voice, told her to come in. And Meridia, just by hearing how broken and sad the young dragir’s voice had sounded, cleared her throat, twisted the knob on the door, and proceeded in.

    *End of C1*


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

  6. #6
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    Chapter 2: A New Life

    Ilitia, Year 2523


    The night that she had come out of the portal, Shiya Lisianthus had left the scene after about an hour later. Before she had taken her leave, she had been thinking deeply about what she would do now that she had been granted a new shot at life. If anything, the dragir was happy to be back out on the world and far from that tormenting place.

    Wearing only but rags that covered her feminine parts well, she had touched her arms, legs, and face, and had understood that it was her, the same Shiya Lisianthus in flesh and bone as before. Everything was back to normal for her, just as it had been long ago. How long she cried in happiness under those beautiful stars and moon only she knew.

    She had been mostly in tears ignoring her surroundings, the many fallen corpses, and the acrid, foul smell that permeated the air thanks to the infernal monsters that had fallen there. She was lamenting the loss of her loved one to pay any attention to that. Life was not fair, she thought, for she had received her life back but at the cost of her husband having to do something risky in return for it.

    Oh my Artemys, Shiya thought kindly of him. Indeed you have kept your word when you said that you’d do anything for me.

    She was troubled knowing that Artemys was not going on a pic-nic with that dark deity; their task was a dangerous one. She could either lose him or get him back, but how would she become aware if the former came to happen? Surely the queen of Hell wouldn’t be coming out to the surface realms just to let her know what had happened to Artemys, and truly, the tall dragir wished to never see that dark goddess ever again; enough she had seen of Hell and its disturbing residents during her long stay there.

    Knowing that there was a chance that she could lose Artemys and that she would probably not know of it had made her feel so bad that she decided to abandon the death camp. But before she did that, Shiya bent low and retrieved a long sword from a fallen human corpse, for she knew that she could probably come to need it. During that time, the human bodies laying about the area caught her attention. Seven she counted under the light of the moon, and Shiya took the time to examine them all. The majority looked so young to her, and how that pained her. All warriors were dead, so there was nothing she could do for any of them, and she did not want to stay and give them all a proper burial. In truth, she had never felt good being around dead beings. If there was something she had always hated, it was death. Shiya felt bad for not wanting to give the humans a proper burial. In time, she knew, perhaps the vultures would take care of that, or other animals.

    After a bit of reasoning, she took the time to strip the dead bodies of any possessions they would not be needing. Their possessions could come handy to her, so after a few minutes of looting the bodies, the dragir had managed to equip herself with some brownish pants that barely fit her, a light-weight chest plate, a pair of boots that fit her well, and a bow and a quiver full of arrows. Shiya was even able to fill a large brownish pouch with the gems she looted from some of the bodies. Like the stuff she had removed from them, the gems could also come handy, as gems, to her knowledge, were the currency in the entire world.

    Dressed in true warrior fashion, she was ready at least to survive the night. Luckily, she did not run into trouble that night as she walked away trying to find a safe place. As she went seeking that place, Shiya was thankful to the gods above for that and for the splendid starry and full moon night. The moon and stars brought a light smile to her face as she had continued walking on, for they made her remember the countless of times she had stared at them with Artemys at her side tenderly hugging her.

    The dragir spent the night in some small forest that she happened upon on her way east—east, yes, the direction which led to her beloved homeland. With sadness she had put aside her daughter at the moment, the dragir believed that it was too soon to simply go looking for her and let her know that she was her mother come back from the dead. How did one who had just come back from the dead do that, anyway? It was not easily done. And so Shiya knew that she would need to come up with a good plan to facilitate things for the both of them: she for revealing it so, and Rowena for understanding all of it.

    In that forest that she had come upon, survival and fear had forced her to climb up to a high, coniferous tree which had big, green leafs and very fat branches that were wide enough to cover her bodily frame two times if the dragir lay down on them. There, feeling safe despite the many weird noises that came from all over the forest, Shiya Lisianthus had indeed lain down and had covered herself with one of those big leafs. The sword and the wooden bow she lay close by in case she needed them, and whilst she had lazed there, she had thought of many things before finally giving in to sleep.

    ***


    Central Ilitia, Northwest of the Central Mountains, 13th of Leaf, Year 2523


    The next day came too soon, but Shiya embraced the dawn as never she had before and thanked the gods above for the new day of life that they gave to her and everything else that breathed. The dragir knew that there was much to do, and that sort of excited her, but the thought of Artemys being away just dragged her down in sadness again.

    With birds chirping all around, and other forest creatures making their own noises, she climbed down from the tree after she made sure that it was safe to do so. When she was on the ground again, Shiya scratched her head feeling somewhat confused. She soon understood that she had made a promise to her husband. Maybe not a promise, but she had agreed to look after their daughter. With her mind more at ease now, that soon became her priority, her necessity. She knew Artemys deserved that, and besides, it was her own daughter who was in the middle of all this. The dragir’s heart vibrated with so many emotions when she thought about her daughter, about what she looked like.

    I must present myself to her, Shiya thought to herself as her eyes followed an eagle that flew by high above in the sky. I must go to the guild and be near her at the very least if I am to not reveal to her that I am her mother.

    She followed the eagle up high. The wind was hardly blowing, hardly disturbing the bird's flight, and white puffy clouds were scattered under the blue sky. It was just a wonderful new day to be out.

    An idea quickly invaded Shiya's mind.

    “I could pose as some mercenary come from Dragiria looking for a job,” she murmured, but then she frowned. “But...how am I to find this guild? Artemys only mentioned that it was in the south of Ilitia, and well, where exactly?”

    Never had Shiya set foot on this realm prior to having done so last night and this day. In fact, she and Artemys—after he had convinced her that there was more opportunity for them to live a peaceful life than in their war-torn realm—had been on their way here those seventy five years ago, but they had run into bad luck that fateful stormy day and Shiya had paid with her dear life in a ruined monastery where she had hid with all those children during the raid.

    The female dragir was not stupid, though. She knew that by asking around she would gather the answers she sought. Something frightened her, though, and that was the mere thought that she was in human lands. Back then when she had lived in Dragiria, humans and dragir had not seen each other too well. Were things still the same? Shiya did not know, but she relaxed knowing that Artemys's guild had the service of humans. Those, at least, would probably welcome her with a smile on their face.

    And so the thought of returning to her homeland vanished that day, heavily outweighed by the promise she had made to Artemys, and her loving daughter. Shiya would seek Rowena, and when she found her, she would look after her, just as she had told Artemys that she would do.

    ***


    The dragir walked west for several hours, bow in hand. Never did she run into any sort of trouble during that time, rather the dragir got to see the sightings of some wild deer and a family of ostriches. After having laid eyes on those creatures, Shiya truly admired the land that was Ilitia and what it had to offer. Besides wild, non-aggressive creatures that she saw in the distance at times, all she saw as she walked in that westerly route was mostly tall golden grass and scattered trees and bushes, at times large boulders and even a few destroyed ruins, which she investigated just out of curiosity. Off to the east, her eyes could well see the mountain range known as The Atalantan Mountain Range, also known by the Ilitians as The Central Mountains, or The Midway Peaks. Those mountains were huge. One, the very first one on that range was arguably the biggest one of the nine that formed the long range, and though tempting it stood out to any possible explorers, Shiya was not going to go to that mountain. Those places, she had always known since she was a youngling, were home to monsters and beasts. Well, at least in her homeland, she wasn’t sure about Ilitia, but she did not doubt that the mountain range was filled with danger. Thus, she was staying away from there for the time being, and besides, she doubted that her husband had built his guild there.

    The dragir, tired of her walking under the mild orange sun, decided to rest for a while in some unknown ruins that she found up ahead in a copse of trees. While sitting there on a boulder, her stomach grumbled loudly. Shiya was hungry, and she stood up and looked about the area for an animal, perhaps a rabbit or a fox, or whatever meaty source she could find. A looker is bound to find by looking, by searching, and so moments later she found a jack rabbit standing still near a tall tree some twenty yards away.

    The dragir stood as still as a statue, not wanting to scare the rabbit away. Out came an arrow from the quiver hanging at dragir’s back, and Shiya fitted it on to the bow’s string right away and took aim.

    “Don’t move, bunny,” she said lowly as she aimed with one eye closed and the other one opened. “Blessed be you, creature of the wild, for you’re going to be my lunch this day.”

    Shiya fired away when she thought she had the rabbit dead in her sights.

    And she missed badly.

    The rabbit was alerted of the arrow when it stuck hard on the grassy ground some five feet away from it. Soon the mammal was also alerted of the humanoid’s presence and was fast to run away to safety.

    “Godamn it!” Shiya cried as she lowered the bow. The dragir felt disgusted at herself for having missed like that. That anger resided fast, though, for she knew it had been a long time since she had been out here doing this kind of thing. Back in Dragiria in the old days, Artemys had taught her how to use a bow effectively, but she would need to practice if she wanted to be as good as she used to be.

    The hunger she felt made her forget about the embarrassing incident, and so she kept looking for another possible target but found nothing.

    Since the day was young, she knew she could walk some more and perhaps make it to a village, a town, a city, or even an encampment or an armada post where she could find some food without having the need to kill an animal. There was bound to be something like that for her to find, she knew, for she doubted Ilitia was just a vast prairie filled with random forests, boulders, and devastated ruins. Minutes later, with that thought in mind, the dragir abandoned the ruins and kept going west.

    And an hour later she spotted a small caravan composed of two wagons and a few humans who rode on them or walked beside them as they went north. From her hiding spot behind a tree, for Shiya had hid there as soon as she had caught sight of the caravan ahead, the dragir could see that children rode in the back part of the wagons, as well as a few elderly women, and a few teenagers up front were the ones directing the horses. A man who wore some type of feathered straw hat walked beside the back wagon whilst holding on to a crossbow. Shiya figured it was a traveling family, for if it was a trading caravan, there ought to be more guards than just an elderly man with a crossbow. She noticed that they looked to be the poor type due to their ragged clothing, but Shiya was not going to be the judge of them just because of that.

    “What a beautiful day we chose to come out here,” she heard the voice of the man say. “Damn I’m good for planning our trips.”

    The dragir was hungry, and it wasn’t that the old man carrying the crossbow scared her, but Shiya thought about it twice before she left her hiding position and walked out to be seen by them. There was also the fact that these folks would be the first ever humans she talked to. How would this ordeal go?

    Because hunger was a very bad thing, she decided to gamble and get it over with. If it turned out that the folks were dragir haters, Shiya knew she could run, or perhaps take on the old man if it came to trading blows. She hoped she didn’t have to rely on running or hurting them, rather she hoped that the family turned out to be kind folks.

    The first one to lay eyes on her when she stepped out of the tree was a little blonde girl.

    “Look, daddy,” Shiya heard the girl say as she pointed at her. “A dragir warrior.”

    The old man and those on the wagons turned to regard the dragir in the distance.

    “Colbert?” an old woman called from atop one of the wagons; she had even stood up in a concerned kind of way. Shiya Lisianthus knew by their concerned faces and the woman’s voice that they had become unsettled due to her presence.

    “It’s alright, Vivian,” said Colbert, who was the woman’s husband and the father of most of the children. “Humbert, Petronile,” he shouted. “Stop the wagons!”

    A fifteen year old boy and a seventeen year old girl heard their father’s words and did as told. The horses neighed and the two wagons came to a halt just as the man walked slowly towards the approaching dragir.

    “Hey there, friend,” he called out. “Nice weather to be out and about, isn’t it?”

    Shiya stopped her walk and regarded the country-side man curiously.

    “Are you friend or foe to me and my family?” the man asked when the dragir did not reply, and he recoiled and even pointed the crossbow at her. The man knew of the dragir of the east, but he also knew of those being’s southern enemies, the fearsome Jyy, who were dragir gone bad, traitors to the so called benevolent dragir race. He could not be sure if this huge female was dragir or jyy, thus the precaution.

    “Relax, good sir,” Shiya said right away, throwing a hand forth in a calming gesture. “I mean you nor your family any harm.”

    Back in Dragiria when she and Artemys had been just boyfriend and girlfriend, Artemys, who had already been in human lands, had taught her that treating humans with respect tended to bring out the good side in them. Thus Shiya had called the man good sir with as nice a voice she could muster.

    “And how can I be sure of that?” the man retaliated, though he didn’t sound mean, just cautious. “Are you dragir or jyy?”

    Shiya studied the man’s eyes as he held that crossbow against her. He was just being protective of his life and his family’s, so she remained calm before him.

    “If you know what trust is, then you’re going to have to trust my word. I’m dragir, and I’m just passing through. Hell, had I wanted to harm you or them, I could have easily picked you off from my hiding place with my bow...but I didn’t, because that was never my intention.”

    I could have easily picked you off, yeah right, Shiya had to bite her tongue and suppress a wild laugh when she remembered how badly she had missed the rabbit earlier. She doubted she could have struck the man from that distance.

    The man, oblivious to her thoughts, nodded at her words. “Very well,” he said. “I’m going to trust you, and I am also going to point my crossbow elsewhere because I never meant to point it at you. You have to forgive me, good dragir dame. Out here, one just can’t be too careful, you know?”

    “It’s understandable,” Shiya said with a nod and saw how the man lowered the crossbow, with its deadly end pointing at the ground.

    “Where are you headed?” the old man asked then. “Are you perhaps in need of a ride?”

    Again, Shiya just regarded him for a few seconds without replying. She glanced past him to the wagons and the humans who were staring at them from over yonder. When the man cleared his throat, Shiya knew she had to speak up.

    “The Primrose Guild,” Shiya said. “I would be in your debt if you tell me where it sits, good sir.”

    “Ah, so you’re a warrior looking for the best damn guild, eh?” old man Colbert said, admiring the tall dragir’s beauty. “That’s southwest of here. You still have a lot of walking to do before you reach it, though.”

    “Southwest,” Shiya said, mostly to herself. “Thank you kindly, sir. How much do I owe you for the information you have provided?”

    The man noticed how she began to bring out a pouch, but he put out his left hand and said, “No, no, you don’t owe me a single gem. I was glad to help you, if I did at all.”

    “You did,” Shiya nodded. Then her stomach growled loudly that it made the man raise his shaggy eyebrows in surprise.

    “Whoa,” he laughed. “Someone appears to be hungry. Or has my intuition gone bad?”

    “Might you...by any chance be carrying any food that I could buy from you, good man?” Shiya had to ask because she was really hungry, and travelers like this family most often than naught carried food and beverage for their trips. “I am hungry,” she added. “Been covering ground for several hours now without so much as a bite.”

    “You’re in luck,” the man chuckled heartily. He was an alright man who for sure wasn’t going to negate a good stranger his help. “I’m carrying a cargo of fruits and vegetables that I’m going to sell at the capital. I could sell you a few things if you want. They’re all freshly picked and from my own little farm.”

    “That would be terrific,” Shiya smiled.

    The dragir was able to satisfy her hunger that afternoon with an assortment of fruit and vegetables that she bought from the man and his family. Because she was carrying a good amount of valuable gems, she bought a sack full of vegetables and fruit for the road, in case she didn’t find food along the way. The old man was also kind enough to sell her a canteen full of fresh water and a fire-starting magical scepter.

    “Good sir, I am truly in your debt,” Shiya told him when she had paid for the bought items.

    “Come now,” the friendly man pat her shoulder. “You need those items more than I do. I can just buy some at the capital anyway.”

    “May the gods above bless you and your family,” Shiya bowed at him and the rest of his family as well, who had gathered all around them once the old man and Shiya had headed toward the wagons earlier.

    “And you as well,” Colbert said.

    Shiya and the country-side family said their adieus moments later and parted ways. They continued north, and Shiya, with helpful directions obtained from the kind man, followed the dirt road south, the same road that the family had been leaving behind on their way to the capital. She walked down that road feeling very happy and satisfied, for at least her first time speaking to humans had gone rather well.


    *End of C2*


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    Chapter 3: Tensed Princess


    Capital City of Leiads, Ilitia Castle, 16th of Leaf, Year 2523

    Princess Ella Sapphire of Ilitia was young and beautiful. For that, many Ilitians loved her, the majority, but there were many others who were not happy with her sitting at the throne and making some of the decisions that she made. Those people thought ill about her for the many comforts and luxury that came with being of royal blood and that she surely enjoyed within the walls of the mighty Ilitian palace. The princess, who was the last of her lineage, had always felt sad knowing that there were many people in her realm who weren’t satisfied and thought poorly of her, despite all the good things she had done to help her realm throughout her young ruling years. It wasn’t enough, she had believed, but what else could she do? She wasn’t about to listen to the minority count and break up a relation with some strong allies that her back-then living parents had made. That was just one of many bad issues that she had to deal with that day. There was another issue as well, and that’s what really had her shaking in fear in her room that day.

    The princess was wearing her favorite dress, a royal blue piece with tiny flower designs on the lower end. The dress also had a wide, red ribbon at the waistline and short puffy sleeves. She looked beautiful, like a butterfly flying over a fresh garden full of flowers. To add to her beauty and grace, she carried several costly and eye-catching jewels on her arms and around her neck. Those were a must each and every day. Over her well-groomed brownish hair she wore a golden tiara with red diamonds. Her kind smile could calm even the more unsteady of souls, but that day she was the one who needed tranquility and peace. She was scared as she had never been before in her entire life.

    The princess found herself pacing back and forth within her private room with her clutched hands near her belly and just thinking about the message that had been brought to her earlier that day.

    “What am I going to do with you, Severian Furst?” she asked herself with a troubled grimace. “All you’ve been to me and the realm is trouble.”

    The message that the princess had received earlier during that morning had been directed personally at her and had been signed by that subject. More than a message it was a simple note that carried a threat. Signed by Severian Furst, the note read that he would get around the heavy security and kill her for having thrown him in prison all those years.

    To you, Princess Ella Sapphire:

    Beware, for I am coming for you. Not even all your fancy top security will be able to keep you protected from my wrath. I’m coming to repay you for what you did to me. For those ten years that you threw me in prison you will pay, so tremble in fear, Princess.

    ~Severian Furst


    Severian Furst had been the most notorious outlaw in the entire world. His bad fame was known not only in Ilitia, but several neighboring realms as well. Severian and his gang of devotees were mostly known to worship the lower realm dark deities and offer sacrifices to them in return for wealth and power, but the criminal had several dirty businesses going as well. Moreover, he was also believed to be in league with the Citadel of Assassins, a powerful, secretive group that was growing its influence all over the world.

    After he had committed a series of atrocious murders that he had even displayed for the public to see, the young-then princess had become infuriated at that and had ordered that the entire knight corps look for him and capture him. Back in the day when she had inherited the throne from her deceased mother when she had been but a seven year old girl, the realm had been going through a wave of killings and violence, all attributed to Severian and his band of followers. It continued like that for five years, with guilds, firms, and other dirty establishments battling it out for territory and power, and not only in the thriving realm of Ilitia, but the neighboring realms as well. It had been rumored that Severian had been acting under orders from the Citadel, and his job had been to wipe out all opposition in order for his firm to have a good grasp in the realm of Ilitia, realm where the Citadel of Assassins really had no control yet. The princess, who at that time had grown to be twelve years of age, had wanted to put everything back in line and order. And so after word came to her about the atrocious acts from a certain, well known individual, the princess decided to take action against him, and only because Severian had left a message on those corpses that he was the law in Ilitia. The message was a high offense to the young princess and her council. So, after meeting with her council to discuss the matter, she had ordered his capture days later. With thousands of soldiers mobilizing all over the realm after the order, Severian had been brought before the princess a month later. Though he’d had plenty of places to hide and the help of many devoted followers, Severian had been betrayed by someone and had been captured before he could have fled to another realm.

    Princess Ella could have ended with a nightmare that had been stealing the realm’s peace for a while, but she was young and kind, perhaps a little naive too, and so she’d had mercy of the criminal and had just ordered for him to be thrown into prison instead of having him executed at the gallows, just as her council had thought it wise to do.

    Severian had been treated badly by the soldiers during the time of his capture and after it in prison. He never forgot about the ill treatment and just took the pain knowing that if he ever escaped, his day of vengeance would come. After having spent ten years and two months in a stinky cold cell filled with rats and bugs somewhere in the lower levels of the Ilitian prison system, he had escaped thanks to the help of his servants, who had been working fervently to rescue him ever since he had been captured. And now, it appeared, he was out to get the newly turned twenty two year old princess, for she was the top culprit, the one who had brought him down from the glory those years ago.

    A knock at the door partially startled the beautiful young woman.

    “Y-Yes?” Princess Ella’s crispy voice cried and she turned around to face the door, a one-shot pistol pointing in that direction as she held it firmly in her hand.

    “My liege, may I come in?” a recognizable voice of one of her servants was heard behind the nicely-finished wooden door. “I bring important tidings.”

    Recognizing the voice, the princess hid the pistol away and granted the servant permission to enter. As she did, she lowered her hands to the large ribbon that adorned her dress. Knowing she could really trust no one, she had hidden a dagger within earlier that morning, and she would be carrying it henceforth for her own security.

    A short, skinny man with a brown moustache who was lacking hair on top of his head came in, smiled at her briefly before bowing before her, and then spoke.

    “Pardon the interruption, my liege, but you have a pair of visitors that I am sure you won’t be refusing to see.”

    “Who are they, Jacinth? What do they want?”

    “It’s people from the Primrose Guild, your highness. They say it’s urgent.”

    Ella calmed at that revelation and swallowed lightly, and only because the messenger had revealed that it was people from Artemys Primrose’s guild. She expected to see Artemys after a few days had gone by, and just by remembering the tough dragir, her anguish and fear vanished momentarily, and she relaxed.

    “Right, let them in right away,” she ordered.

    “As you wish, milady,” the man bowed, turned around, and was off.

    And moments later, Princess Ella laid eyes on two familiar faces. The princess was very surprised when she did not see the face of Artemys Primrose, the guild’s leader. She had been expecting to see him...

    “W-Welcome,” Princess Ella welcomed them, regardless. “Please...sit down.”

    Knowing that they would be before the princess, the witch had already entered the room with her pointy hat removed, and Rajim, his turban removed, bowed and then followed his colleague to a long sofa. They sat on it, and the princess sat on another one right in front of them, only separated by a rectangular, glassed table that was covered with a white silky cloth and held some pretty ornaments on top as well as a round silver tray which had a nifty-looking bottle of cognac and several wineglasses on it.

    “Feel free to fix yourselves a drink,” the princess said. “I don’t drink much, but you may, if you want to.”

    “Thank you, Princess Ella,” Shan said, and she looked over at Rajim.

    “Don’t mind if I do,” he smiled at the princess before he stood up and fixed himself a drink. Before a minute had gone by, he was back in his seat and with a wineglass in his right hand.

    “I bring tidings regarding the portal mission, my liege,” Shan said.

    “Ah yes, where is your leader?” The princess asked at length. “Wait, don’t tell me; he sent you two to relay the news about the matter since he’s busy as always, right? Oh, that Artemys...”

    Rajim and the witch shared a quick glance. The Alarkian warrior took a sip of his cognac and remained quiet. He knew Shan would handle the talk while he drank and listened on.

    “With respect, my liege,” Shan went on. “We bring word about the matter, yes, but...”

    “Do go on,” Ella bade quickly. “I’ve been waiting to hear what happened out there. Was the portal enigma solved?”

    “The portal is gone,” Shan explained, her tone shifting to a saddened one, and that, the princess noted. “We killed many monsters that came out through it, though.”

    “What? Monsters?” Princess Ella Sapphire surely was in shock. “Really?”

    “Yes, my liege,” Shan nodded. “We battled wights and these totally mysterious dark creatures; I think they were demon kind. We lost seven of our own battling them. Then, when things settled down and no more monsters came from the portal, Master Artemys ordered us to return to the guild, and he alone entered the portal.”

    “What?” the princess asked, surely shocked to hear that. “Are you serious? He did that?”

    “I am, your majesty,” Shan said with a nod. “And yes he did.”

    “Well why did he do that?” Princess Ella rose from her sofa, and she was flabbergasted at the news. “Oh, is he alright?”

    Shan shrugged, and Rajim just lowered his stare to the carpeted floor and took another sip of his beverage.

    “We have no idea, your highness,” Shan was quick to straighten herself in her seat. “We believe he has not exited the portal, for he swore to return as soon as he could. He has not returned, and it’s been more than four days now. Thus, we even believe that he could have died in there.”

    “We did, after all, battle those dark creatures,” Rajim said from his place. “It is a possibility that there were more of them in there.”

    Princess Ella Sapphire had already been feeling bad, but now this. She covered her mouth with both hands, surely not wanting to believe what had been revealed to her. She didn’t even care that the Alarkian had not called her my liege, or my princess, or your royal highness. He was Alarkian, she knew, and those people were weird.

    “By Mandeline’s love,” the princess uttered the name of one of the deities she and the Ilitian people believed in. “Oh, I do hope he’s alright.”

    “Like I told you earlier, milady,” Shan stood up, followed by Rajim, who put the wineglass on the table. “The portal is gone, and we’ve already taken care of burning all the monsters that we killed on that night. We even buried our fallen comrades, but as to why the portal appeared in the first place, I cannot tell you, nor could anyone else from the guild. We don't know the answer to that.”

    “Oh,” Princess Ella lamented. “I’m sorry about your friends. I really am.”

    Rajim, just by observing the princess’s reaction and behavior, knew that she was pained as they were. And why not? Artemys had served her well several times. He had even trained her in the art of the blade because there was no one else as good as him, and the princess had wanted the very best to train her. So Princess Ella’s sorrow was pure and genuine.

    “Seven good friends we lost,” Shan recounted, hurt because those that had died had also been her friends. “Eight, if our leader fell in there, gods forbid.”

    The princess remained just staring sadly at them.

    “I’m sorry, your highness,” Shan offered an apologetic bow. “I wish I had more words to share with you, but that is all I was told to relate to you. There is nothing more, but our new leader told me to tell you that the guild's doors remain open for now, so you are always welcomed there, your excellency.”

    “Who is your new leader?” Princess Ella asked. Much to her sadness, she surely wanted to know the answer to that, but she did have a slight idea of who could that someone be.

    “Another dragir by the name of Meridia Goldenflower, your highness,” Shan revealed, and the princess nodded right away, for she had been right in her guess. “She was appointed leader by Master Artemys himself,” the witch continued. “He told her that she would take over if he did not return to the guild by the morrow.”

    “I know Mistress Meridia quite well,” Princess Ella’s face brightened only somewhat, for she was still very sad about Master Artemys and the possibility that he was dead. “Tell her that I am deeply sorry. And...”

    The witch shifted in her place, and Rajim bit his lips as he waited for the princess to continue.

    The Princess had paused only because the note that she had received earlier had come to mind. “And tell her that I might be calling for help soon enough.”

    Shan Styles shivered. Not another portal, she thought but didn’t say. “Do you require of our assistance, Princess Ella?”

    “I...I...” the princess trembled. She walked away, feeling embarrassed at her own stutter and the tension she was displaying before them. “I actually do, and it’s another urgent matter, I’m afraid. In fact, how much would it cost me to keep a few warriors from your guild here, acting as guards?”

    The princess remained staring at some of the pictures hanging on the white walls of her room and toying with her hands while she waited for a reply.

    “Here? As in the castle, your highness?” Shan paled, wondering what problems the princess was going through. She and Rajim had noticed too many soldiers out and about, and surely many here in the castle compared to other times they had come to the city.

    “Yes, in this very room with me,” Ella announced and turned around. She looked the witch straight in the eye and added, “I have a huge problem to deal with, and so I need help pronto. And what best if from the best guild out there, wouldn’t you think?”

    “I could stay if you desperately need help, Princess Ella,” Rajim volunteered right away and showed respect this time, the fellow crossing his arms just to show off his well-toned muscles. Shan looked at him feeling a bit confused at his actions, but he looked back at her calmly. The princess regarded the warrior. Ah, so he did have manners after all?

    “You can return to the guild and let Meridia know what’s happened,” Rajim offered in a low voice, though the princess, who wore magical earrings that enhanced hearing, still heard him well enough. "I will remain here looking after the princess. It’d be a pity if I didn’t lend my help to someone so pretty and majestic as her."

    Princess Ella did not show a smile, but her heart glowed with the warrior's words.

    “I...could surely do that,” Shan hesitated, yet only because she did not like the idea of going back to the guild without Rajim to look after her. Their guild was hated by so many other guilds, establishments, and people; those that the Primrose guild had run out of business during its climb to success, or those that they had hunted and chased down. Then there were those ruthless rogues who hated the presence of dragir and other nonhuman species in their realm. Those rogues were only part of the discontented folks who did not want the presence of dragir in the realm, the so called ally-breakers that the princess knew about.

    “Is that what you want, your majesty?” Shan looked at her, and Ella was quick to nod.

    “I will pay anything,” she said, nearly as if out of breath. “But you must get Mistress Meridia out here as well. I wish to speak to her personally about this matter.”

    “Then I will go get her for you right away,” Shan said and bowed. “With your permission, your highness.”

    “Be careful out there, Shan,” Ella walked up to her and pat the witch on her sturdy shoulder. “And please, do hurry up, I beg.”

    Shan nodded at the princess, recognizing that indeed the matter was important. She then bowed again, and lastly, she gave Rajim a serene glance and a nod, as if letting him know that he better protect the princess well. He understood that and nodded at her. Finally, satisfied, the witch exited the room in a hurry.

    *End of C3*


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    Sorry for taking so long to update. I was moving into a new house. Anyway, the story continues. Please excuse any typos you may find, as I did not have the time to proof read this chapter.

    Chapter 4: The New Guild Leader

    Primrose Guild Grounds, Southern Ilitia, 16th of Leaf, Year 2523


    Meridia found Rowena in bed, covers up to the chin. And she had been crying, and Meridia had known why. The dead warriors and her missing father were the cause for those tears and sadness.

    Meridia walked slowly to the side of the bed, thinking how she should handle this. She then sat on the edge of the bed, with Rowena turning her head slightly to regard her.

    “How are you holding up, Rowena?” Meridia asked, and she reached with her hand to touch the young dragir’s forehead and front hair in a soothing manner.

    Rowena did not reply for several seconds, but then she finally spoke, “Been thinking lately.”

    “About what exactly, dear?”

    “My father,” Rowena replied quickly. “But also many other things.”

    “Such as?”

    “What I said to you yesterday. I’m sorry for having accused you and all the others. I didn’t know what I was saying and—”

    “Oh,” Meridia soothed. “You don’t have to say you’re sorry. I perfectly understand what you are going through, Rowena. We all are deeply moved and saddened at what is going on, but we must have faith that your father is alright, and we have to move on with our lives. Here’s the truth of the matter, hon. We don’t know if he’s alive, but we don’t know for sure that he’s died in there, and that’s hope we can hold on to, no matter how small it seems.”

    Rowena nodded grimly at that.

    “All we can do at the moment is wait for him to return to us,” Meridia looked across the room. “That’s hope that has kept me and the others going. If you have hope, you will be able to move on, Rowena.”

    Rowena’s room wasn’t small, but neither was it very big. There was ample room, though. She had a queen size bed in there, a round, wooden and glassed table, a pair of chairs, book shelves, several chests where she kept her stuff, and even a large closet with sliding wooden doors where she kept her clothing. The paved ground was covered with royal carpet, and other than that, the walls held weapons and shields that belonged to her and her father, and also several paintings that Jica Katuka had made especially for the dragir child. In one of the paintings she was with her father, the both of them hugging each other and staring frontwards. Then there was another one where she was up front in the middle and all the guild members surrounding her, with her father right beside her. Then there was Rowena’s favorite painting: one where she was standing face to face with her father and both holding swords, as if they were ready to battle it out, a pre-fight stance painting. Jica Katuka had painted them while they had been getting ready to practice one day, but instead of the wooden weapons they had held, she had made sure to paint them with real-looking swords.

    “I just hope he’s alive,” Rowena said. “That is all I want. I want to see him again. Last time I saw him I didn’t know that I wasn’t going to see him again.”

    “We all want what you want,” Meridia caressed the dragir’s hair. “But while we hold on to that hope, Rowena, we must not despair. You have been doing yourself a bad thing by not eating. You’re weak at the moment and later will fall ill. I don’t want this for you, you know that. I don’t want to see you suffering as you are, and you know damn well that neither do the rest of the guilders. I know you miss your father greatly, but you can’t punish yourself this way, Rowena. This is not what he’d want, you know? He raised you well and taught you many principles. He’d want for you to be strong in times of adversity.”

    Rowena nodded at that, and then she brought out her arms from within the covers and wiped her eyes. “I’m sorry if I troubled you so, Meridia,” she apologized. “I was a dupe.”

    “No, no, no,” Meridia relaxed her. “You don’t have to be sorry for anything, dear. I understand why you did it. But you’re only hurting yourself if you continue like this. So please tell me that you will start eating once again. That would put a smile on my face and would calm me down greatly. You don’t know how worried I’ve been for you.”

    “I will eat again,” Rowena’s sad tone shifted to a determined one. “And again, please forgive me, Meridia.”

    Meridia smiled at her, the dragir feeling her heart warming up.

    “I have nothing to forgive,” she said as she stood up from bed. “Do go eat something and regain your energy, for I want to have a chat with you still, but not here.”

    “Then where?” Rowena was puzzled.

    “Out by the forest,” Meridia mentioned as she walked away toward the door. “It’s a beautiful day outside. We might as well enjoy it and talk out in the open, get some fresh air in those lungs of yours.”

    Rowena nodded at that. After Meridia left her room a minute later, she got up from bed. Her father was still deep in her mind, but she knew that Meridia was right: she had to keep faith that he was alive and move on with life.

    ***

    The two dragir went to a nearby forest that also was home to a very wide river that came running south from the north. The Yumpwala River it was called. Members from the guild had often gone to it to bath. As to the rest of the forest, Rowena had had her share of training there with her father. So being there brought back memories to her, however, she was strong and did not fall back to the saddened state in which she had found herself ever since that night when she’d been told that her father had not returned.

    Rowena had donned a long, white dress which had pink lines with curls as design. When she had seen her dressed like that, Meridia had even whistled, and Rowena's cheek had turned red when the tall dragir had added, "You look sharp and beautiful."

    Now that they were out there, Rowena did not waste time.

    “So,” she asked Meridia once they were all by themselves. “What is it that you wanted to speak to me about?”

    Large trees surrounded them, and there were large boulders here and there, and precisely near a large boulder is where they were reclined, one next to the other, their shoulders almost touching.

    “About the guild, Rowena,” Meridia was not wasting any time either. Over the past several nights she had been doing some thinking. Artemys was gone, and she had been left in charge, but really, Rowena was Artemys’s seed, his daughter, and therefore Meridia knew that it was she who should be in charge of the guild, not her.

    “What about it?” Rowena did not seem to understand.

    Meridia crossed her arms and just kept staring ahead to the beautiful scenery offered by the forest. She caught sight of a bird flying into a tree where she lost sight of it before speaking out.

    “Your father left me in charge of it,” she said. “But I’ve been thinking lately that the guild really belongs to you, what with you being his daughter and all.”

    “But I...” Rowena surely paled.

    “Hold tight, Rowena,” Meridia regarded her. “Just listen to me, alright?”

    Rowena quieted down and nodded.

    “I don’t only wish to hand the power to you just because you are Master Artemys’s daughter, but because I think that if you took over, it would be a great distraction to you and the rest of us.”

    Rowena’s stare upon her was a blank one.

    “It would help you forget about what’s going on,” Meridia explained. “It would put your mind to work on other things other than your father’s disappearance.”

    “But aren’t I too young to be taking over?” Rowena feared.

    “Trust me, you’re just at the right age. I know a good leader when I see one.”

    Rowena liked her words, but she had really not been expecting something like this. It was too much responsibility, she thought. Still, she knew what Meridia was really up to, and she thanked her in silence for wanting to mollify her from all the troubles she was going through at that time.

    “And so at this very hour,” declared Meridia. “You’ve become the new guild master. My sword and my service I offer to you, Rowena Primrose, daughter of Artemys Primrose. Please accept me as once your father did.”

    Rowena remained still and quiet, and though she was feeling a bit nervous, she felt a wave of excitement washing over her. But she nodded at Meridia.

    “T-Thank you, Meridia. I...I accept.”

    Meridia smiled and hugged her tightly. “You won’t be facing the challenge alone, dear Rowena. I will guide you as best as I can.”

    “And the others?” Rowena suddenly asked and seemed concerned. “Do they know of this? Will they be alright with a little pup, as you call me, leading the way?”

    Meridia let her go and said, “We’ll reveal the news to them as soon as we get back there. Come on, leader. Give me your first order, which should be for us to return to the guild and for me to keep you safe.”

    “Alright,” Rowena felt a little weird within, but she was also excited and enjoyed saying the words, “Let us return to the guild, good warrior Meridia. And yes, keep me safe as we go.”

    Rowena actually chuckled after she said those words.

    “That’s my girl,” Meridia smiled grandly, and then the two started on their way back to the guild.

    ***

    Not far from where the two female dragir had been having their conversation, Shiya Lisianthus, with a new, short-haired haircut, remained in total silence, awe, and well hidden behind a large tree that had several big bushes around it. She had been coming from the north, sent south to that forest after she had asked the people of a nearby village about the Primrose guild. Upon having seen the two dragir approaching the area, she had been fast to hide and had remained listening to their conversation behind the tall tree. She had heard what the two of them had spoken about and had learned much; too much, in fact.

    “So that’s my precious daughter and...Meridia Goldenflower,” Shiya told herself as her tearful eyes observed the two dragir as they walked away. She had been crying in silence when she had learned that the blonde, young dragir was her daughter Rowena; the tall warrior had yearned to rush out to her and embrace her tightly. She had stayed glued to her place, though, knowing now was not the time for that. And as to the other tall dragir, Shiya had admitted to herself that she was beautiful. It was no wonder that Artemys had begun to fall for her. A wave of jealousy had crossed her, but she had killed it right away knowing that Artemys had spoken sincerely to her about his feelings for Meridia.

    Shiya waited there for a while, letting her daughter and Meridia walk out of her view. She had come down with hopes of doing what she had thought on previous nights, to join the guild and be near her daughter. It sounded easy enough, but something bothered her then, and that was the mere thought of what she would do when she had her daughter standing before her. Would she be able to contain herself and not give herself away? Or would she burst out crying and reveal everything to her?

    Shiya felt nervous and even a little scared, but she knew she had to do this regardless. She walked to the boulder where her daughter had shared the conversation with Meridia and waited there to gather herself fully.


    *End of C4*


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    Chapter 5: Leaving the Guild

    Primrose Guild Grounds, Southern Ilitia, 16th of Leaf, Year 2523


    When Meridia and the new guild master made it back to the guild, Shan the witch was already waiting for them near the entrance. The witch had been standing reclined against the wall close to the large door, her arms crossed.

    “I need to speak to you, Meridia,” she spoke as soon as the two dragir got to within talking range.

    “Right,” Meridia said. “Can it wait? I also need to speak to you and all others before you start telling me how the trip to the capital went.”

    “I’m afraid I can’t wait,” the witch countered. “Plus, it won’t take me too long to deliver a message sent to you by the princess. So will you hear me out before you gather the others? It’s rather important.”

    Meridia wondered what word the princess had sent back with the witch, and so did Rowena, for that matter.

    “Alright,” Meridia agreed. “Come, let’s talk about that in the office.”

    The three of them entered the main office, a room big enough that held a nice oaken desk in place, several book shelves, and benches on the walls where clients sat. Meridia had only sat behind that desk several days, but on that day, she told Rowena to have a seat behind the desk and to get used to things. When the witch heard her say that, she became a little surprised.

    Rowena did as told and remained at ease.

    Never, in all her life, had the witch seen Rowena Primrose sit behind the desk’s chair. Only Master Artemys Primrose and Meridia had sat there so far.

    “I’ll explain momentarily,” Meridia recognized the surprise on Shan’s face after Rowena’s action. “For now, how did it go with the princess? And where the hell is Rajim? Don’t tell me you grew tired of his heavy joking on you and left him dead on some ditch out there?”

    The witched chuckled slightly but shook her head.

    The witch and Meridia remained standing in front of the desk; they had not sat down as Rowena had. From her place, Rowena just remained hearing them out.

    “Our mission went well, but the princess has a problem on her hands, it seems. Rajim remained at the princess’s side at the castle.”

    “Explain,” Meridia bade, the dragir choosing to sit on the edge of the desk, and she also crossed her arms and remained attentive of Shan.

    “Princess Ella said she needed of our help urgently, and from what I could gather from my own intuition, I think she is being haunted by someone. She looked nervous and even a little frightened. Rajim must have thought similar because he volunteered to stay behind right away. Plus, there were many soldiers all over the place. Never had I seen the presence of so many soldiers in and out of the capital city before. Moreover, her highness is sorry about Master Artemys's disappearance, and she wants help from this guild once again, but she told me that she wants you to go there because she wants to speak to you personally about the matter.”

    Meridia was no longer leader, but Shan did not know that yet.

    “Well,” the one-horned dragir glanced over at Rowena. “I am no longer leader of this fine guild. Rowena there is, so she will decide if she takes the princess's new offer or not.”

    “What happened?” Shan asked, giving Rowena a glance before returning her stare to Meridia. “Is this what you wanted to let us know?”

    “Indeed,” Meridia put her up to speed, told her everything that had happened lately, mostly the part about how she had handed over the reins of power to Rowena.

    “She will lead us while her father remains missing,” Meridia stated. “It will help clear her mind from those troubles and will serve her as experience. She’ll be alright, Shan, and I am fine with the decision myself. As ex-guild leader, I had the power to hand her the reins.”

    “Indeed,” Shan murmured.

    “The question now would be: Are you alright with this decision?”

    To be honest, the witch had felt that the guild would soon be going down if Grand Master Artemys Primrose did not return shortly. Without his guidance, the guild would plummet down like a bird that’s lost a wing to a shot. The witch had based those thoughts on some rumors that she had heard amongst the other members of the guild. Artemys’s disappearance had hurt and affected them all in some way, and some had been talking about taking leave if he did not show up soon, for they had fears that enemies of the guild would make a sudden move any time when they became aware of Master Artemys’s disappearance. And now the witch had been told that a young dragir was taking over. She did not see anything wrong with Rowena taking over, she rightfully deserved it for being daughter to the guild master, but she was young and lacked leadership. Did Meridia really believe that she would be able to handle the pressure and guide them to success?

    “Actually,” the witch spoke with her head inclined a bit. “Days back I was thinking about just asking for my contract to be terminated.”

    Meridia paled before that, and within she even felt a wave of uneasiness and mild anger. “What? Why, Shan?”

    “Master Artemys is gone,” Shan lifted her stare and looked at the dragir in a serious way. “This guild will surely go to the mud without his guidance, even you might know that."

    Meridia's face hardened, and Rowena felt bad and lowered her sight.

    "With much respect to you and to Rowena, it’s not only me who has been thinking about taking leave, Meridia,” Shan went on, uncaring of the two dragir’s feelings. “Some of the other members believe this to be the case too; they just have been keeping a little quiet about it.”

    At her seat, Rowena was so saddened to hear the witch’s words. Back in the forest when she and Meridia had been making their way back to the guild, she had thought that everything would be alright, that everyone within the guild would give her the chance to lead them while her father returned.

    Meridia was also dismayed that the witch would just like that want to end her service to the guild that had housed her and fed her for so long. She was very upset within, but still, she knew she had no right telling the human female to change her mind or to think things over, and she did not feel like begging, either.

    “You really want to go?” The tall dragir asked the witch with a serious voice. Shan lowered her head at the weighty question. Her heart was hurt, but yes, she wanted to leave a guild that was destined to failure in the upcoming months.

    “I do,” again the witch raised her head and stared at the dragir. “I’ve served this guild for the last time this day, I’m afraid. You, nor Rowena, can stop me. Since Master Artemys Primrose is gone and we seem to have a new leader, my contract has become void. But please allow me to go back with you to the castle. I wish to say my good byes to Rajim.”

    Meridia bit her lip and looked away to some wall, feeling a rather sour taste in her mouth. Many seconds passed with the room feeling heavy and empty.

    “Fine,” she said in that posture. “I will help Rowena terminate your contract in a few seconds, as soon as I tell the news to the other guilders. I do want to find out who else is leaving and who’s willing to stay. You will be giving me that much time at least, right?” Meridia regarded the witch. “Or are you in such a hurry to leave?”

    Shan the witch, feeling sorry to have put the dragir to that action, spoke, “No, take however much time you need, but make no mistake, I will be leaving this place today.”

    Meridia, a little upset at what was going on, told Rowena to remain seated in that chair. Then she stormed out of the room and went to find the other members of the guild. And she brought them back to the office, but the dragir had already told them all what was going on even before they had made it there.

    The three deadly Sasato archers had decided to leave, with pain in their hearts, but they had told Meridia that they couldn’t remain on a boat that was slowly sinking. As to Damera, Abbey, Melfalás, Matthew, and Frankus, they were the only ones that decided to remain in the guild, and Meridia knew that their decision, at least Abbey’s and Matthew’s, was heavily based on the fact that Rowena, who in her own right was probably the same age as them if compared, had taken over the guild. They were good friends with her, had been with her in the good and bad times, and so they had decided to stay merely to see where she went as guild leader, and also because of the huge amount of respect that they had for Artemys Primrose, who had taken them both out of the miserable life they had been living in the streets of Atalanta, a city located in the southeastern parts of Ilitia, and had given them a new chance at life. Damera had stayed due to the great respect he’d had for the missing leader. He had looked up to him as a child does to his father. At that time, he was still hurting that he wasn't among them. Plus, leaving the guild crippled didn’t feel right to him. He knew of the enemies the guild had made, and he knew many of them were ever looking for an opportunity to strike. He would stay, because he felt this place was his home.

    “So it’s five to four at the moment,” Meridia spoke. “With still Rajim to be given the chance to stay or leave.”

    The dragir actually felt glad that those four humans and the wingless harpy had decided to stay. They were young ones, even the harpy was, but they were alright as fighters, especially the harpy, who was good at fighting with the bit of magic she knew and also her sabre.

    “You’re all making a big mistake by leaving us,” Damera growled at the Sasatoans and the witch. “Traitors, I do call you, you know? For spitting on Master Artemys’s legacy like this. He’s gone, then Meridia decides to hand power to Rowena and you’re all just going to take leave like that? What a load of horse’s crap.”

    “Peace, Damera,” Meridia calmed the youngster down. “They have the right to do this. You know the rules that apply when a new leader takes over.”

    “I know,” he said, turning his stare aside. “But still...it seems very wrong to me.”

    Meridia said nothing more, and neither did anyone else, but many of the warriors crossed uneasy stares at each other.

    Next, those present in the office noticed how Meridia brought out a stack of magically-glowing scrolls from the interior of a drawer. These scrolls were the contracts.

    "Stamp these scrolls, Rowena," Meridia urged as she stood right beside the new leader. "And grant these fine warriors their release from this guild."

    With sadness, Rowena nodded and did as told. Using magical dark ink, which the magic kept mildly warm, and a wooden stamper that had the guild’s representation—the head of a horned dragon—underneath, she stamped the contracts and then handed them to Meridia, who went on to pass them out to those that had decided to leave. The dragir also thanked them all for the fine service they had offered the guild and even gave them a bonus of gems that she had extracted from some chest that stood against the wall and fastened to the floor behind the chair where Rowena sat.

    "Shan," Meridia spoke to the witch, and this one gave the dragir her undivided attention. "We'll be leaving for the castle in a few minutes, so you are welcomed to come with me and Rowena as you requested. I could be a mean b**** and not allow you to join us, rather let you do that on your own time, but I am not about to do that. You can come with us if you so desire."

    Shan nodded, and then the dragir turned to face the archers and smiled lightly at them, "As to you, young ladies. You are all free to go anytime. Know that we will not keep hard feelings towards you all. You served this guild wonderfully, so if later in time you find yourself seeking a job, do come back. Who knows, we might have openings still."

    The archers nodded and wished them all good luck, and then, with their heavy hearts within, for they were already having second thoughts about their made decision, they exited the guild and were soon on their way to freedom. Umika, though, was crying her eyes out as she went, pained greatly that it had come to that.

    "Rowena," Meridia stared at her new boss.

    "Yes?" the young dragir asked, seeming a bit displeased, but it was mostly sadness.

    "You'll need to leave someone in charge while we are away. I recommend Frankus this time since Melfalás took care of the guild when we went to search for your father, but really, the decision is all yours to make. You can leave whoever you want."

    Rowena regarded the thirty five year old dark skinned warrior, and he straightened in his place and even hit the side of his legs with his hands as he did that. Frankus Mashing was the oldest human in the guild.

    "Would you do me the honor of taking over the guild while Meridia and I take leave, dear Frankus?"

    "Mistress Rowena, I'd be so honored," Frankus said after taking an exaggerated bow. Rowena smiled at him and then looked upon Meridia, who despite not being in control of the guild, was still somewhat leading the way.

    "Stay alert," Meridia told Frankus. "Don't worry too much, though, this zone is safe for now. The Ilitian armada has several holds nearby.”

    “Indeed, lady Meridia,” Frankus bowed.

    “Plus, you know what to do should you really need to abandon this place."

    The tall warrior nodded, knowing that fully well. "Go at ease, Lady Meridia and Lady Rowena," he said in his low noble voice. "We'll take care of the guild while you're away."

    Meridia pat his shoulder, and then she went on to pat Abbey's, Damera's, Matthew’s, and the harpy’s as well, and she thanked them all for having remained behind.

    “You all will get five green gems added to your pay for having stayed,” she told them, and most smiled at that, for it was a good raise.

    Ten minutes later, the two dragir and the witch left for the Ilitian royal castle on a wagon pulled by a team of two sumahnrihi.

    *End of C5*


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

  10. #10
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    Chapter 6: One Crazy Idea

    Leiads, the Capital City of Ilitia, 16th of Leaf, Year 2523


    Meridia had been really surprised to see that Leiads, the capital city of Ilitia, was so well guarded. The Ilitian soldiers appeared to be posted just about in every street, and they were taking their duty quite seriously. The trio of females had been checked by several groups as they had made their way deeper into the city. Before arriving the big city, as they had crossed a prairie, a dense forest which had a lone road in the middle, and a grassy vale on their way there, Meridia and her companions had seen soldier encampments near villages as well, with the soldiers searching the villages and the people they came upon. The dragir had come to understand then that whatever problem was bothering the princess it had to be very serious.

    The trio of females made it to the castle two hours before midnight and were allowed into the princess’s private room after a group of soldiers checked them for the last time and removed their weapons, at least those that they could find on them, for Meridia was dragir and knew ways to conceal deadly weapons even without the use of magical small pockets.

    All three females bowed before Princess Ella Sapphire, who stood waiting for them right in the middle of the room. Rajim was there right next to her, his arms crossed. Apparently, word had reached both of them of the arrival of the Primrose Guild members and they had been waiting for them.

    Rowena, of course, felt a little nervous before the princess. She had never been before royalty in her life and had no idea how she should act before someone like the princess. Along the way there, Meridia had chatted with her about that and had given her a few tips on what she should do and how she should behave, but being there before the princess, Rowena almost forgot all that Meridia had shared. The young dragir didn’t have to worry about beginning a nice conversation, for it was Meridia who introduced her to the princess right away. Young Ella Sapphire, upon learning that the young dragir was Artemys's daughter, walked towards her immediately, increasing that way Rowena's felt tension.

    "I am sorry about your father, Rowena," she said softly as she placed both her hands on the dragir's tender shoulders.

    “Thank you, Your Majesty,” Rowena replied and somewhat her tension began to fade then.

    "I received word earlier about what's happened, and I am deeply sorry,” the princess went on. “Your father’s mysterious disappearance hurts me as much as it hurts you all, you have my word on that."

    Rowena saddened at the memory of her father, but she bit her lip and nodded at the beautiful princess knowing that she was also in deep sorrow for her father.

    Princess Ella let go of the dragir and nodded casually. And very soon enough, the princess bade them all to sit down, but as to Meridia, she pulled her for a walk outside on the corridor. Meridia went with her, but as they were exiting the room, she glanced back at Rowena and nodded at her, letting her know that it was alright. Out in the corridor, Princess Ella dismissed the guards keeping watch near her door. When they left, Princess Ella explained the problem to the dragir, whom she thought was the new leader of the guild, as the witch had explained earlier. The princess, though, did not know of the recent happenings at the guild. Walking right beside her, Meridia let her know right away that she was not in charge of the guild, that she had decided to hand over the power to its rightful heir: Rowena Primrose. The princess was surprised at that, but she understood and did not ask for further explanations. Meridia, though, decided to explain to her.

    “I believe that she will be a fine leader one day, Your Highness,” Meridia believed. “Her father taught her well. And, I may not be officially in charge of the guild any longer, but I still will guide her in the areas where she’ll need help with. By the way, I can listen to this problem that is bothering you, Your Highness.”

    Upon hearing that, Princess Ella confessed it all to her. Meridia even was allowed to read the note that had reached the princess’s hands that morning. They stopped mid corridor before reaching the endwall which had a mighty glass window, one that was closed. There, Meridia began to read the note while the princess just watched her.

    “This is serious, Princess Ella,” the dragir told her with a pale face after she had read the note. “I know tad bits about that guy. I don't know him personally or know what he looks like. Few do, but I know enough to know that he’s not kidding.”

    “And now you see why I want the very best protecting me,” the princess replied, feeling somewhat embarrassed as she grabbed the note back from Meridia. “Artemys is gone,” she sounded sad. “But you all are warriors from his guild, I know of your skill, and I know I can trust you all. If you’d allow several of your warriors to remain with me at all times, maybe Shan and Rajim, I’d pay you anything and would be in great debt with the Primrose Guild. My soldiers are top notch, but I believe there are traitors among them, eyes that don’t belong here, you know?”

    “I understand,” Meridia nodded. “Yes, it is crucial that you don’t lower your guard, Your Highness. Don’t be too trustful, even with those who you think can be trusted.”

    “So will you help me?”

    Meridia sighed, looking boldly at the princess.

    “I will surely speak to Rowena about this,” she said. “She’ll most likely agree to leave the very best behind. As to Shan, well....” Meridia lowered her sight a bit and seemed sad.

    “What about her? Is something wrong?” Princess Ella suspected something was going on, at least from the sad expression that she had read on the dragir’s face.

    “Yes, Your Highness. She no longer works for the Primrose Guild,” Meridia explained with a shake of her head. “She renounced hours ago, and we also lost three great archers. So I may be the one staying here with you if—"

    “Oh...” the princess was shocked. “I didn’t know that had happened, Meridia.”

    The dragir nodded and looked around the hallway at some pictures that hung on the white walls, then at the window at the end of the corridor, and finally back at the princess. “Yes, it was a bad blow to us, really, but I couldn’t hold them in service, not with Master Artemys gone. Their contracts were no longer valid if the leader that signed them was no longer present and a new leader took over. The guild will go on, though,” Meridia promised, very determined. “I will help Rowena pull through these rough times, and I will help you also, your majesty, you can count on that.”

    The princess nodded lightly and then remained silent for a while, just thinking about the revelation that the dragir had made. And Meridia waited for her to speak. The princess walked away and invited Meridia to follow her, and she did, but Meridia always attentive of their surroundings. Both females made it to the glass window and chatted there.

    “I don’t want to put you in between the wall and the sword with a choice,” Princess Ella said after a while. “I know you came here with the intention to look after me, Meridia. I really thank you for that, but I really could not ask you to remain here looking after me after what you’ve told me. Rowena and the guild need you more than I do.”

    “But Your High—”

    “Yes,” the princess touched her on the shoulder. “My matter is a life and death situation, but I will...”

    Meridia swallowed lightly when she noticed that the princess had left her sentence unfinished and had taken a look out the window, or had tried to, for Meridia was fast to secure her from the waist and pulled her gently back.

    “Your Highness,” the dragir said. “I’d recommend staying away from windows. They could get you with a bow or a pistol...”

    Princess Ella’s face turned tomato red, and she lowered her sight quite embarrassed. “Damn...I forgot about that,” she said. “I’m sorry, Meridia.”

    “You need not apologize to me, Your Highness,” Meridia said. “You just have to be careful...always.”

    “I understand,” the princess said. She remained staring at the carpeted floor for a while, perhaps too embarrassed at her own stupidity. Nontheless, the princess also understood that Primrose warriors were indeed elite and knew what they were doing, for even though Meridia was not assigned to protect her, she just had. That is precisely why the princess needed the best warriors with the best mentality working all the time. Suddenly, an idea came to the princess.

    “Hey,” she said, not hiding a smile from the one-horned dragir. “I just got an idea.”

    “What is it, Your Highness?” Meridia asked, surely curious.

    “Listen, I could leave the castle and go to your guild without anyone ever knowing it,” the princess said, using a very low voice, like a murmur. “I’d be away from so much attention here, perhaps even fool Severian and have him believe that I am in my room, or somewhere in this castle too scared to come out."

    "But Your Highness," Meridia protested. "With much respect to you, I think you are better protected if you remain here. You have the knight corps to protect you, and our guild only has the service of a few warriors now. I even have fears that our enemies will decide to hit us one day; many have just been waiting for a golden opportunity to strike us. Our guild lacks numbers as it is, I’m afraid we couldn’t protect you that well."

    "That's precisely my point," Princess Ella argued with a smile. "Who'd suspect I'd be far away from my castle and somewhere else where there is less protection? Surely that assassin creep would never suspect that."

    Meridia thought about it, she even caressed her chin as she did that. The whole idea seemed crazy to her, but at the same time it made some crazy sense.

    "Besides," the princess pressed on. "I aim to change my image, so be at ease, because after I do that, I won't even recognize myself. Your warriors won't even know it's me, I promise. Heck, I doubt you'll recognize me when you lay eyes upon the new me, Mistress Meridia."

    The princess sounded so sure of herself, but who was Meridia to deny her?

    "You are the leader of this realm," Meridia bowed in respect to the young woman's wishes. "I cannot tell you what to do, nor would I ever oppose a decision from you, Your Highness. But how would you get out of here? That creep must have eyes all about the city, perhaps here in the castle as well. One wrong move could spell disaster."

    Princess Ella Sapphire smiled.

    "He believes he is the law here in Ilitia, so I don't doubt one bit that he does. However, leave that matter to me, dame Meridia. If you accept my crazy plan, just say so and I will make sure that nobody knows about my departure, only a few trusted sources, of course. I will come up with something."

    "Right," Meridia nodded, nervously. "Well, I do accept your offer, Your Highness, even though I am not officially the one in charge. But Rowena would never oppose this kind of offer, either, I am willing to bet my remaining horn on that. The Primrose Guild, crippled as it might be at the moment, welcomes your presence, Princess Ella, if you really want to do that. I can't guarantee that nothing will happen to you, but while you are there, I will do my very best to keep you safe. I will guard you with my own life."

    "Then no more be said," Princess Ella finalized with a clap of her hands. "Let this matter be known only between you and I, speak to no one else about it, not even Rowena or any of your guilders that you so much trust. The less people know of it, the better."

    Meridia nodded. “My lips will be sealed about it. But are you sure that those you will speak of this to can be trusted?”

    “Only one person will know of my departure from the castle,” the princess confessed. “That person is like my father, Meridia.”

    “Well,” Meridia surely didn’t seem all that convinced, but she nodded regardless. “I leave that up to you. If you think he can be trusted, then so be it. Lets go on with the plan.”

    "Right. Then take your warriors and return to your guild. In a few days hence I will be arriving there as a mere mercenary looking for a job. You have my word on it."

    Meridia bowed at that and even smiled. Tis was a clever plan from the princess, she had to admit, if she could pull it off.

    “Doesn’t sound like a bad plan at all, Your Highness.”

    “I know,” the princess said. "And, Meridia?"

    "Yes, Your Highness?"

    "Thank you. I will forever be indebted to you."

    Meridia hesitated for a bit, but then she licked her lips, smiled, and nodded at her as she said, "Your welcome, Your Highness."

    *End of C6*
    Last edited by Mega Gobli; 3rd November 2014 at 8:18 PM.


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

  11. #11
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    Chapter 7: Making a Decision

    Leiads, the Capital City of Ilitia, 17th of Leaf, Year 2523


    With Shan taking her leave after she had said her farewells to Rajim, the two dragir and the Alarkian warrior decided to pass the night at a local inn within the capital city. There, in that place that was also a tavern, they were well known by the place’s owner and most of the clientele. The barmaid, who was the owner, happened to be a tough-looking woman known as Gabyota Velamir. The owner didn’t just look tough, she was tough. In her younger years she had been a sailor down south and had earned many scars battling pirates and other baddies as she had guarded the lives of her fishing mates. She had lost an eye during a long battle, the left one, and wore a black patch over it to hide its ugliness. The patch only made her look tougher. Despite the loss of the eye, her features had always been somewhat striking. Even now at the near age of forty, Gabyota had her charms. To go along with her buffy figure, her grayish eyes, and her delicate-looking ivory skin, her bobbed, dark hair with some golden streaks had become one of her trademarks; Gabyota had wore her hair in that fashion ever since she had been a teenager.

    On top of the vitrine where she kept many bottles of rum and whisky and the like for the patrons, her famous axe rested in place against the stone wall. That weapon, which was known as Splitter, was the cause behind the inn-and-tavern’s name: The Splitter.

    Gabyota Velamir, better known simply as Gaby, had always been a good friend to Artemys Primrose and his guild. The guild master and the then-sailor had worked together on a fishing vessel for a pair of years when she had been but a seventeen year old girl twenty two years ago. Artemys Primrose had been the first dragir she had ever met in person, and Gabyota had been astonished to learn why he had joined the fishing crew: merely to ride a ship for the first time, but also because the captain had been having trouble with some sea raiders and had contracted him and other warriors to deal with them for good.

    That early new day, Gabyota had the privilege of meeting her friend's daughter. The sailor had known long ago that Artemys had had a daughter, but she had never met her up till that point, perhaps due to how well Artemys kept her protected.

    Rowena talked with the curious ex-sailor for a while, but at Meridia's advice earlier, she had not mentioned anything about the disappearance of her father. No one should know of that, Meridia had assured Rowena, and so the youngling had been forced to lie about his whereabouts when Gabyota asked about him. Rowena told her that he had sent them out here to buy supplies and so she could have a good look of the capital.

    "Well, you give him my salute," Gabyota told the young dragir, the barmaid never suspecting of the lie, though she did find it odd that Artemys's daughter appeared to be on her own and without her fatherly protection. Rowena felt bad having lied to her, but it was for the best, as Meridia had said earlier before they had made it to inn.

    "If anyone finds out that Master Artemys has disappeared, more than just rats would be fast to head to our guild and war with us," Meridia had pointed out. "So don't mention a thing about his disappearance. Lie if you have to, tell anyone who asks you that he sent us to buy provisions."

    Rowena had agreed to that, and Rajim had promised the two female dragir that he would never let word out of Master Artemys's disappearance. Pleased, Meridia took them to the inn, her fears gone.

    Rowena was tired after the long talk with the ex-sailor and the long trip they've had to the capital, so she spoke to Meridia about it. Minutes later, at about thirty minutes past midnight, Rowena went to bed right after Meridia had paid for the services of three small rooms. Within the comfy room, Meridia promised her that she, herself, would be in bed shortly after and right next to her room.

    “Don’t hold any fears, you hear?” Meridia told Artemys’s daughter. “This place is safe. Most of the people that come here are good folks and never come looking for trouble.”

    “You sure about that?” Rowena asked curiously. “Right about after we entered, I noticed that some of the folks sitting on the tables gave us weird, hard stares...as if they didn’t want us here.”

    “Hahaha,” Meridia blurted out laughing. “You thought those were bad stares? You haven’t been in the other taverns of this city where you would have probably witnessed someone killing someone else.”

    Rowena raised her eyebrows and showed a fear-stricken face before the one-horned dragir.

    “What? Really, Meridia?”

    “Indeed,” Meridia confessed the truth. “There are many gangs fighting for control of the city, and so that’s always something that will be present here. Members of those bands will always be ready to kill each other. But, what you saw here tonight is nothing, and you shouldn’t be worried. Why do I say that? Well, because there are many soldiers out and about, the bands won’t dare make such stupid moves while they are out there. These poor devils that you saw are weak folks, and the weak try to act tough at times, and with good reason. For if you are seen as being weak, you’ll just be a stepping stone for others, perhaps even those who might be inferior to you. But anyway, don’t worry about anything. I guarantee you that you’ll be safe in this room. And I won’t be too far away. I will have a talk with Rajim about his contract and be back here with you if you want...if you are too afraid to sleep all by your lonesome, I mean. I could crash on the floor, I don’t really mind.”

    “I actually wouldn’t mind,” Rowena said, kind of embarrassed. But she was scared and unable to hide it. “I’ll probably remain awake until you return.”

    “I won’t be long,” Meridia promised and Rowena nodded at her.

    Soon after, the dragir left the room, and right after the door closed behind her, Meridia heard the lock going to work. She smiled and shook her head. Rowena was young and worried as she should, for this was the first time she had come here to the capital. Knowing the young dragir was safe in her room, she walked back to the main room where patrons sat at tables. Some ate, some drank, and some played card games and other types of luck-based games where heavy betting was always a sure thing; nobody played for free or fun, not even the children out on the streets.

    Rajim sat on a wooden chair behind a small round wooden table all by his lonesome, and he was drinking a large mug of ale. There sat another full ale at the other end of the table, Meridia noticed when she got there and pulled out a chair to sit down. She did just that and took a long drink from her beverage.

    “Mostly empty, huh?” the dragir asked as she looked around the tavern.

    “Damn soldiers out there have frightened the clientele it seems,” Rajim believed, and he took another sip from his foamy beer.

    “The better, then,” Meridia said, quite pleased. “I really like it like this, with few people around just having a good time. Rowena got scared due to some stares.”

    “Oh, she did?” Rajim wasn’t really surprised. “Should I bash a few heads for that?”

    “Haha, no,” Meridia replied, but she knew well that Rajim had just said that in a teasing way. Neither of them had ever hurt the clientele of the Splitter. “Instead, I was hoping that perhaps we could talk, Rajim.”

    “About what?” Rajim regarded her after spitting aside.

    “Your contract,” Meridia pointed out. “I want to know whether you have thought about it. Shan had a long talk with you, she should’ve mentioned something about her taking her leave.”

    “Ah yes, she did,” Rajim scratched his forehead. “Also told me that the Sasatoans had taken their leave as well.”

    “They did,” Meridia did not lie. “So, what will it be with you?”

    Rajim, his mouth closed, licked his teeth with his tongue before answering to that.

    “Can’t we talk about this tomorrow at the guild?” Rajim asked then. “I’m tired, and I need to really think about it, you know?”

    “I understand.”

    “So enjoy your ale,” Rajim smiled at her. “It’s been long in coming, anyway. And I do miss my dear friends...for them all is that I offer a toast, Meridia. For all those that we lost that ****in’ night.”

    Meridia felt bad after the reminder. With all that had been happening this past week, she had not had much time to even consider her lost friends. Most of her mind had been dealing with the disappearance of Master Artemys and Rowena’s well being. But then right there she felt her heart vibrate with trouble and sadness. She and Rajim would never see those friends again, and so with much pain in her heart she grabbed her mug of ale and lifted it up. Rajim noticed the change in her semblance, and he nodded at her.

    “To the brave we lost,” Rajim toasted, and he softly struck Meridia’s mug in toast.

    “To the brave we lost,” Meridia said with several nods. “May they all be in a better place than this hell of ours.”

    “Aye,” Rajim agreed.

    Then they drank.

    And they drank some more in their friends’ honor. Later they toasted to Master Artemys, toasted that he would find his way to them soon. And finally, they shared a toast for those that had left the guild earlier.

    An hour later, feeling just a buzz but not fully drunk yet, Meridia kept her promise and returned to the room carrying blankets and a pillow. Rowena, tired from the trip, had fallen asleep who knows when, and so the dragir had had to use one of her special magical items, a key that could open many things, to enter the room. She found Rowena sleeping, even snoring lightly.

    Aw, you weakling, Meridia smiled when she saw Rowena sleeping so calmly on the small bed. You said you were going to wait for me...But I know why you sleep. You were tired. So was I...that’s why I am here now...

    Before having attended Rowena’s room, the one-horned dragir had visited her would-be room and had taken the covers and pillow from the bed and had taken them along with her. On the floor she fell asleep a few minutes later.

    Rajim stayed half an hour more on the main floor, and he even tried his luck in one of the card games but lost some gems. He gave it a few other tries but lost again, and so wanting not to lose all his gems, the warrior departed for his own room muttering some curses under his breath.

    ***


    Primrose Guild, 17th of Leaf, Year 2523


    The next day at the guild’s office, Rajim was facing the biggest decision of his life when he had to choose between remaining in the guild or leave it. As he had told Meridia back at the bar, he indeed gave the matter some thought during the return trip and afterwards.

    Most of the buddies he’d had died the night that their leader had entered the portal, and remaining in a guild that was destined for hard times under the guidance of a young dragir did not appeal much to him. But what really sealed his decision to leave was the fact that the best warriors had left the guild already: Shan the witch and the three archers. The rest that had remained, though most were young, showed much promise in the business, but he knew that it was time to move on. Then there was his family back in Alark. His wife and two children were waiting to see him one day. Rajim wanted to see his wife and kids badly again, so in truth, that really made him make his decision to leave mercenary work for a while.

    “With much respect to you, Meridia, and to you, young Rowena,” he told them. “I think I will also be taking my leave. I have my wife and my two kids waiting for me back in Alark. It’s been a long time that I’ve been away from them and...well, I’ve missed them badly. I could use some time away to see them.”

    Meridia didn’t feel so bad hearing the excuse. Rajim indeed had a family to look after, and he had been away from them for quite a while. She grit her teeth for just a moment and then nodded to herself.

    “And, I also want to go back to my homeland and give word to Vao’s mother of his passing, maybe even Draik’s if I can manage to find his relatives...”

    “Say no more, Rajim” Meridia finally told him. “You...should go back to your family if that is what your heart desires. In Master Artemys’s and Mistress Rowena’s name I thank you for the service you rendered to this guild. Go at ease, big guy, but know that this guild will always have its doors opened to you. So, should you change your mind later in time, do come back to us, who knows, we might have need of your services.”

    “Indeed,” Rowena told the warrior with a smile. “You will always be welcomed here, Rajim. You know this is your home, too.”

    “Thanks,” Rajim nodded kindly at them.

    “And don’t worry about delivering word to the families of those who perished,” Meridia told the warrior. “I will take care of that soon. We’ve just been busy with so much stuff, but we should have taken care of that days ago.”

    “I’ll deliver word to Vao’s mother and Draik’s family. You can take care of the rest.”

    “Will do,” Meridia said. “Thanks, Rajim. Before you leave, I intend to send their families a letter. Can you deliver this letter to them, too?”

    “Most certainly,” Rajim agreed to do that.

    Hours later, with the remaining guild members staring at him as he left the guild, the warrior was on his way to freedom carrying his curved sword and a sack with his belongings. When he was a bit far away, he looked back only once to lay eyes on the magnificent guild that had housed him for several years. He said thanks within, bowed at the guild, and moved on, unable to hold back a few tears, mostly because of the way he had left the guild with its leader missing. Rajim admitted to himself as he walked away that he probably had made a terrible decision, but he didn’t have the guts to go back and rejoin the guild. No, he kept on walking away with his mind full of thoughts.

    "Bah, let him go," Frankus spat aside to the ground quite disgusted. "What a loser, to desert us like that knowing the enemy can come hit us any damn time now."

    "Frankus, don't," Meridias scolded, the dragir feeling a bit sad. "Just don't, please. We all decide what to do with our lives. Rajim decided to walk somewhere else. That was his choice, but we must not criticize him for it. If you leave tomorrow, no one will hold anything against you."

    "I actually agree with Frankus here," Damera stepped close to where the one-horned dragir stood. "I'm disappointed in him and all the others that have left. I mean, to leave us just like that after we spent so much time together. It’s like...betrayal."

    “I think the same,” Frankus cried in all honesty and crossed his arms.

    "I believe it's because of me," Rowena felt guilty, she even lowered her head in shame in her place near the guild’s entrance wall. "Because of the fact that I am young and have never done anything noteworthy in my whole life. But as Meridia has said, they are free to make decisions, and so I hold nothing against them. Quite the contrary, I wish them all the very best."

    "Don't feel bad, Rowena," Melfalás walked towards her. The harpy comforted her with a hand on her shoulder. “We all believe in you. If those that left didn’t, then forget them. I decided to stay behind because I know one day I will see you succeed. I want to be there to witness the moment when you glorify yourself. And, I long to see Master Artemys again.”

    "I seriously believe that they all wanted to leave for a while now,” Meridia put in after clearing her throat. “They just didn't have an excuse to do so, or the guts to tell Master Artemys about it. Rajim has a family, the Sasatoans wanted to return back to their homeland for a while, I heard them speaking of it months ago at the river. And the witch, well I found out by Master Artemys himself, longed to return to the academy in Apocryon, where she has a sister. Like Rowena, I wish them all the best, and I hope they all succeed in their new road."

    “Aye,” Rowena assisted. “I wish that, too.”

    The others remained quiet, just thinking.

    “Shushala watch over them,” the harpy plead the deity she believed in as she stared at the blue sky.

    A minute or so went by without anyone being able to speak.

    “Well, it’s only us now,” Abbey broke the silence. “Ever since the witch and the Sasatoans took leave, this place has been feeling so empty, so lonely. I haven’t even been able to do some training all by myself. I will surely miss Ogogotitsu’s help.”

    “We’ll be alright,” Meridia assured her with a smile, trying to cheer her and the others up. “Don’t dwell too much in this sadness for those that have left us, I can help you out with your training. I am sure this guild will blossom under Rowena’s leadership. Right now we are going through bad days, but I do believe the sun will shine once again soon enough.”

    “Still,” Damera said, still feeling miserable. “They forgot that we, as warriors, have to stick with the guild in the good and bad times. I mean...why only serve when the times are good? What about the bad times? Can’t anyone these days stand firm and cry out a challenge: bring it on, bad times!”

    “Let it go, Damera,” Meridia went to him and grabbed him by his shoulders. “You’re a strong warrior and have excellent attributes. I don’t need you feeling all sad or angry because some people have decided to leave. There will be good times ahead of us, you’ll see.”

    “But what if...” Damera let it hang at that, didn’t mention the rest as to what if the enemy came and dealt with them. The lad just closed his eyes and added, “never mind.”

    Meridia pat his shoulders and then moved to stand close to the wall, where she reclined her back against it, one foot against the wall and the other kissing the barren patio.

    “This guild will flourish again,” she finalized with strong words. “This guild will move on, for better things.”

    At that moment, they all hoped that came to happen, even Rowena.

    “Do you think more warriors will come join us?” Abbey asked then. “There hasn’t been anyone coming through here lately.”

    “I don’t know about that,” Meridia replied flatly. “The coming days will answer that question for you, girlie. All we can do now is just carry on. I have some plans, actually, but they still need a little thinking before I decide on anything.”

    “What kind of plans, Meridia?” Melfalás asked, surely interested in knowing.

    “Plans for the guild and what we can do to help it become strong again.”

    “I see,” the harpy said. “I want to hear what you have in mind if that’s possible. I’m willing to help however I can.”

    “So do I,” Damera shifted in his place and crossed his arms. After him, everyone else agreed that they wanted to hear what Meridia had in mind.

    “Will you share those plans with us, Lady Meridia?” Frankus asked.

    “Yes, why not?” Meridia told them. “I’ll speak about these plans later tonight at the dinner table. You can all just chill for the time being, or take care of what needs to be taken care of here. I will take the guard this moment.”

    The dragir walked away toward the ramp that led up to the second level.

    No more was said after that. The remaining guild members remained staring at Rajim as he finally disappeared out of view in the distance.

    *****
    Last edited by Mega Gobli; 19th November 2014 at 11:32 PM.


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

  12. #12
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    I have something to say. In the near future, I might begin to post a separate story (the prequel to this one) called The Raid. If you have been reading this one, then you know that Artemys and Shiya lived in Dragiria during their younger years. That story features how Shiya died during a raid when she and Artemys (and little Rowena and some other characters) were on their way to the human land of Ilitia. I don't know when I will post it, but I will in the near future, perhaps in a week or so, or could be before that. I might even post some images. As to the previous chapter. I forgot to describe Gabyota completely. lol, that's my bad. I don't like introducing characters without at least giving some info as to their looks. So I do beg your forgiveness. I will go back and add that info in the previous chapter after I post this post. Anyway, this story goes on.

    Chapter 8: Severian Furst

    Village of Liska, near Hyltiva, Lothis, 20th of Leaf, Year 2523

    The underground hideout was as luxurious as any royal castle gracing the face of the earth. Severian Furst had planned the hideout’s design back in the day when he had been but an eighteen year old man with much power. With the gems that he’d been making with his dirty activities, he’d had enough dough to make the hideout as luxurious as possible. But, he had not done that merely to please himself and live the good life, rather because the dark deity that he idolized had demanded it. She often came to the mortal world to feed upon the souls and flesh of the living, and she had often used that hideout to reside for days; thus the need for it to be luxurious, for the deity would have it no other way.

    When two informants were sent in to his personal office to see him, the rough-looking man they called Severian the Fearsome sat relaxingly on a wooden chair behind a dark oaken desk and flipping a nasty long dagger in his hands, playing with it. Two personal guards that stood behind him close to the wall, unnerved the two young men when they entered. The guards were huge, around seven feet tall, broad shouldered, and they wore thick, dark armor over their torso, which only made them look tougher. The armor and outfit left their hairy, muscular, grayish arms and legs exposed. Their faces were not visible due to horrible-looking, horned masks that they wore, but surely the two men saw fiery red tones for eyes that those monsters had. Monsters was the correct word that passed through the men’s thoughts after laying eyes on them, for the guards were not human to begin with; they were weredemons, servants of the evil weredemon deity that Severian and his group venerated: Luna. The humans merely knew these demon beasts as lycans, to avoid calling them by their long demon name.

    The two young men approached cautiously, this being the first time that their human eyes saw something out of the ordinary.

    All eyes in the room fell on the two young informants then.

    “Stop right there!” Severian’s tough voice froze them right in the middle of the room. The two men shivered and looked from the monsters to him. Seeing their boss’s mean look, both were quick to take a knee.

    “Rise,” Severian ordered. “What do you have for me this day?”

    The two young men stood up and noticed that he was flipping that nasty dagger and did not like it one bit. One of the spies, a brunette, already had laid eyes on the boss before, but not the other one, who happened to be blonde haired.

    Severian's tough-and-rough looks frightened the young man somewhat, but not more than the monsters behind him had.

    Severian had dark, long hair. Because it was quite long from the front and all around, he kept it tied in a neat-looking ponytail that made his hair look slick. He had light skin, blue eyes, and a few freckles were scattered over his small, crooked nose and part of his cheeks, but not many. Though he was handsome in his own right, on his face there always seemed to hang a mean gesture that could unnerve just about anyone. He was dressed in dark, light-weight outfit befitting a rogue, or a thief, but the outfit was magical and afforded the man great protection, just like sturdy armor could have. Behind his back, a small red cap was attached to the shoulder area of his dark shirt, and his boots were dark and leathery.

    “S-Sir, with respect,” one of the spies, the brunette one, spoke up. “We bring news from Ilitia.”

    “This better be good,” Severian warned. “I hate being disrupted. What do you have to say, then?”

    “W-We saw members of the Primrose Guild entering and leaving the castle two days ago. You told us to report anything suspicious from that guild and well...here we are, sir.”

    In his seat, Severian shuddered, for he knew quite well of the reputation of that guild, most notably, the reputation of its leader.

    “Was Artemys Primrose with them?” Severian directed his question at the brunette spy that had talked. Severian feared that the damn princess had involved the great mercenary leader in this matter, and so how his right fist tightened at that thought. This could spell trouble for him and his plans to kill the princess and throw Ilitia into dark times.

    “No, sir,” the other young man replied, and his friend at the side closed his eyes and hardened his face at the mistake of having spoken. The young man that had just spoken was skinny, blonde haired, and had a funny, long-nosed face. He had barely been recruited a pair of weeks ago by the other spy, who was his friend. He had been recruited to replace another spy that had been killed by a chimera while keeping a watchful eye on the Primrose Guild from afar a few months ago.

    Severian’s eyes turned to face the impertinent man, and before anything else happened in the room, Severian, impossibly fast, sent that dagger spinning towards the young man.

    The pointy, deadly missile struck him right in the chest, and the young man fell to the ground with a groan, quite dead. The other spy recoiled and gasped when he looked down upon his fallen friend. He gasped again and became scared when Severian left his chair and came walking rapidly around the desk, leaving the young man no time to even think about what had just happened.

    Severian was not interested in the brunette spy. He knelt beside the dead one and grasped the hilt of his dagger. He looked up at the scared spy and removed the dagger forcefully. Again, the brunette spy gasped in fear when Severian began to rise, bloody dagger in hand.

    “Why are you afraid of me, Galius?” the boss asked him as he wiped the dagger on the young man’s shirt. “I killed him because he deserved it for answering questions that I asked you.”

    “Y-Yes, sir,” the spy barely said, and for once the young man started to regret having joined the group a year ago. Never had he witnessed something so cold, so brutal. Although he felt scared then, he admitted to himself that his boss was very skillful with that dagger. Never had Galius seen someone throw it accurately like that.

    “Now tell me,” Severian demanded as he went back to his seat. “Was the damn dragir leader with the group?”

    As he was going back to his seat, with a wave of his hand he let the weredemon guards know that they could feast upon the dead spy, and these, who loved to feast and drink human blood, before the other spy could begin to reply, they left their guarding positions and went to feast on the dead man.

    The spy scoot over a bit and gulped hard when he saw how the beasts tore his dead friend apart, but then his eyes went to Severian, who demanded nicely.

    “I am waiting for an answer, Galius.”

    “Artemys was not with them, sir,” the lad spoke with the truth and a few shakes of his head. “From what my watchers reported to me, the group that went into the castle appeared to be elite, but no Artemys was ever in sight. Two dragir were amongst them, yes, but females, that is, and some crazy-looking witch. On two different occasions the guilders came and then left. And according to my dead friend here,” the spy cast him a quick look but upon seeing the gory feast that the lycans were having, he decided to look back to his boss instead. “He hadn’t seen Artemys for a while.”

    “That fool is probably too busy with contracts, like always,” Severian growled in his seat. “But Anyone that damn dragir trains, in time, becomes as deadly as he, so I don’t doubt for one bit that the princess has gotten them involved.”

    Galius nodded at that, unable to say a word. He knew of Artemys Primrose and his guild. He had often heard of his exploits all over the land as guild master. Too bad he had chosen this crooked road, else he probably would have gone to his guild seeking to be taught how to fight and make a living killing monsters and helping those in need.

    “Did your friends identify anyone in particular?”

    “No,” Galius shook his head. “And I wasn’t around to see the warriors myself, else I probably could have identified them. For that, I beg your apology, boss.”

    “It’s alright, forget about it.”

    “However, judging from the descriptions my men made out of them, I can at least guess that one of the dragir was a dame named Meridia.”

    “Could have been,” Severian said. “I hear she’s close to Artemys.”

    “I have no idea on the other one, though. Maybe a new recruit?"

    "It's possible," Severian said. "But Artemys does have a daughter. The rumors have always been that she's no warrior for the guild, so it's possible that it couldn't be her and as you say...a possible new recruit. Artemys does tend to go back to Dragiria and bring new recruits every now and then."

    "Aye, sir. And well, as to the witch, that’s probably Shan.”

    “Shan? Do you know that woman?”

    “I’ve heard about her,” the spy admitted. “Word 'round the capital says she’s good working with magic. She came out from the academy a few years back.”

    “I see,” Severian spoke. “Very well, tell me about the castle now, lad. Any word from within? Did Legarious contact you? How are things running there?”

    “Legarious just says that the princess remains highly protected, sir. She spends most of her time in her room, and the door to her quarters is heavily guarded by more than ten paladin knights and two mages. As if those are not enough guards, he reports that there are more knights guarding her very balcony, the throne room, which she rarely visits now, and any other point in the castle that the princess does visit on a daily basis, though few times does she attend those spots. If she comes out of her room, those ten paladins and the pair of mages that guard her door escort her around all the time. The entire castle is teeming with soldiers, too, as is much of the outer areas beyond. It has been impossible for him and any of our other agents to get too close. The princess, it seems, sir, wants to recapture you. That’s why the soldiers are out and about looking for information to your whereabouts.”

    “Good,” Severian smiled, seeming pleased. He threw his feet on the desk, relaxed in his chair, and began to play with his dagger once again. “I knew she’d rally those knightly idiots to protect her,” he went on. “She is scared, just as I knew my threat would make her feel. It is much to our advantage that she remains scared and within the walls of her room, but her day is nearing, nonetheless. I doubt those idiots will recapture me again before I make my move. Anyhow, I think I can proceed with the next phase of my plan.”

    The spy took a deep breath to steady himself, for those guards surely unnerved him as they kept feasting on the dead body. And, he was not done delivering his message.

    “With respect, boss, I have more news to relate,” the spy went on.

    “Out with it, then,” Severian demanded roughly. “I thought you were finished, godamn it!”

    “I’m sorry, sir,” the spy stared low. “Truly, I ask for your apologies.”

    “Just...go on with it.”

    Severian could have sent that dagger spinning that spy’s way, but he knew better, knew of the great use this young man was, and so he held back the urge.

    “Well, it is believed by Legarious that the princess actually held council with the members of the Primrose guild.”

    Severian said nothing, but the spy knew he was giving those words deep thought and consideration.

    “Well no s**t,” Severian came back roughly. “If they went into her room, it is most likely that she did. Did they go into her room?”

    “Aye, sir,” confirmed the spy. “Legarious told me that they had, that one of the soldiers confirmed this to him over some friendly gossip. But, there was no word or clue given to him about what they spoke about. He wasn’t even allowed to visit the upper level, thus he does not know that.”

    Severian, feeling tremendous ire, threw his dagger against the stony wall, where it stuck fast.

    Once again, the spy became unsettled, but was grateful that the dagger had not stuck upon his chest, as it had earlier in his friend’s.

    Severian stood up and went to retrieve his dagger, which was one of his favorite weapons. He removed it from the wall and pointed it in a non-threatening manner at the spy, “She’s probably gotten the guild involved, damn her!”

    The spy just remained silent before his boss, too scared to even nod.

    Severian, feeling surely angry, went back to his seat.

    “No matter,” he said from there and actually picked his nose with his right index finger. “I will do something about that. Anything else I should be aware of, Galius?”

    “Just that the armada arrested several of our lower ranked servants, street informers from my group and nothing more. They don’t know much, so whatever the guards get out of them won’t be sufficient to put my spy network in peril. Then again, Sir Makarius was already working on seeing them freed.”

    “Is that all?”

    “I have nothing else to add, sir,” the spy said.

    Severian called him over with an inviting gesture from his index finger. The spy walked all the way to the front of the desk and regarded his boss timidly.

    “Go back to Ilitia,” Severian ordered, his rough voice apparently settled down. “Tell everyone to keep a sharp lookout all over the place. And, I want eyes on the Primrose Guild 24/7, you hear?”

    “Aye, sir,” the spy understood that his boss wanted constant vigilance on that guild. “With respect, might you allow me to propose something to you, boss?”

    Severian looked at the young man as a bug that needed to be badly squashed. But, because of the great work this man had performed for him over the passage of time, he cleared his throat and said, “What’ve you got on your mind, boy?”

    “Wouldn’t it be for the best just to get rid of the Primrose Guild once and for all, sir? I mean, we could hit them or something before they get too deeply involved helping the princess. I’ve got many men under my orders and—”

    “You bring nothing new to my table,” Severian interrupted the fool with a cold stare. The spy quieted immediately and gulped hard.

    Severian dropped his feet from the desk and leaned forward, his cold stare on the spy.

    “What, you think I haven’t thought about that? It has crossed my mind many times, Galius, even before you were recruited. There will be a day when I send my forces against Artemys Primrose and his pitiful monster-hunting guild, but not right now. No, that dragir has kept his business off of mine, and so there has been no need for me to go all out on him. On the contrary, I applaud his work. He and his guild have surely made Ilitia a lot safer from the constant monster threat. Anyway, I’m getting out of my boundary lines. Look, for now, you and your group just follow any of those guilders wherever they go. If they go to the capital, I want to know every damn place they visit, even if it’s just an inn or a tavern. And I want to know who they speak to, who they look upon, who they accept contracts from...got it?”

    “Yes, sir,” the spy acknowledged. “I will handle it, sir.”

    “If indeed the guild has been contracted by the princess, its end will come swiftly as soon as news of that being the case reach my ears.”

    “We'll know for sure one of these days,” the spy promised. “I know how deep my men can go.”

    “Right,” Severian moved on, knowing how effective Galius’s group was. “Now, for the following two weeks, have no one come here at all, not even you, and not even if it is important. I won’t be here, but death will surely find you or anyone who does dare to come; thus the warming.”

    The spy did not like those words and just lowered his head.

    “But you, you come back to me after those two weeks end. I will surely be eager to listen to your report of what has been going on during my absence.”

    “It will be done, sir,” the spy said. “I will surely come back after that pair of weeks end.”

    “Good, now leave in peace,” Severian said with a very serious tone, his stare also hard upon the young man. “And by all means, try to recruit better agents for me, but make sure you remind them of the rules and the consequences of disobeying one. Apparently that blonde one didn’t take them too seriously.”

    The young man nodded and inclined his head a bit. “I’m sorry about the trouble he caused you, sir. I did recite the rules to the fool, but apparently he forgot them or just plainly didn’t care to disrespect you like that by breaking them. He knew that I was the one who would be doing the talking, yet he decided to speak up.”

    “Don’t be sorry for that lout,” Severian said. “He didn’t have what it takes to be a spy like you and has paid for his mistake. That is why most of our fodder, like that poor devil, are better suited on the battlefield, because they are expendable.”

    Severian then pulled out a drawer from the desk and reached into it and grabbed something. And he tossed whatever he had grabbed at the spy, who caught a brown colored pouch with his two hands. It was bloated with gems, he knew, and smiled contently.

    “Forget about what you saw...er...are seeing,” Severian told him. “Forget about this fallen fool, as I am sure no one will miss him. Go party with the sex servers or something, you’ve earned it. But don’t party too much that it keeps you from doing your duty, you hear? You and your team have been a great source of information for me in Ilitia, and as you can tell by the contents of that pouch, I am not an ungrateful boss. There’s more than enough for you to pay your servants and for you to keep.”

    “Thank you, sir,” Galius bowed.

    “Know as well that I have been considering doubling your payment and ascending you to the rank of lieutenant.”

    How the spy’s face brightened with that revelation, and he smiled widely.

    “Really, boss?”

    “We’ll see where we are when you come again in two weeks. Now go.”

    “Aye, sir,” Galius appeared to be glowing, and he bowed. “Thank you, sir.”

    Severian nodded and sent the fool away with a wave of his hand.


    *End of C8*
    Last edited by Mega Gobli; 19th November 2014 at 11:24 PM.


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

  13. #13
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    I just want to mention that I hope you don't get confused reading this chapter. Why do I say that? Well, because of the way it is structured. In case you haven't noticed, I tend to write some chapters this way: going a few days into the past to relive some moments that took place (even when other events were happening in other chapters) and then going back to the present day, as is the case here. So, that having been said, happy reading. XD

    Chapter 9: Making some Friends

    Village of Hiampa, Ilitia, 23rd of Leaf, Year 2523


    Shiya Lisianthus had not grown the courage to go to the guild a week ago when she had seen her daughter up close, not even when she felt so compelled to go to her and reveal to her that she was her mother. As much as she had yearned to be with her during those moments, her hesitation and uncertainty had beat her in the end, so the dragir had decided to just leave it for another day in which her courage would get the better of her. And so defeated and feeling very sad, she had returned to the northern village of Hiampa near Lake Astra, where she had asked for guidance to the Primrose Guild the day before. There, she had passed the night the previous day and had made a couple of friends upon her arrival.

    As she had entered the village through the southern entrance on that 16th day of Leaf, Shiya Lisianthus had been eager to see those friends again, especially an old woman, who had given her shelter.

    The day when she had arrived the village for the first time, that woman, who was a woman in her mid forties, had seen her just hanging around in the three dirty streets that composed the village of Hiampa. The woman thought nothing new about the dragir, for she had seen her kind before and knew well that most dragir that came to Ilitia were honorable and friendly. An example of that would be kind Master Artemys Primrose, whom the old woman knew well thanks to Artemys lending a hand with the village problems in the past. So the sight of another dragir had not unnerved the woman or her village comrades, who just like her had thought that the dragir was just passing by. Heck, some of the villagers thought that she was a warrior from the Primrose Guild. And so with no fear within her, the old woman had approached the dragir and had asked her if she could help her. Shiya Lisianthus had told her that she was just looking for a place to pass the night but that she did not have a gem on her, else she’d rent a room at the small inn. The dragir explained to the woman how it was that she had spent all her gems just to get to where she currently was, and Shiya had not left out the part where she had come to the region trying to find the Primrose Guild; she had mentioned that, too.

    The woman had taken compassion of her due to how dirty the tall dragir was dressed and because of her need, but mostly at her sincerity when Shiya had added that she was not looking to cause trouble and that she probably would be sleeping beside a house or somewhere outside on the street if all the villagers allowed her to do so. Then, she would be gone come the morrow, just as a cool breeze passes by without leaving much of a trace from where it came from.

    “No dear,” the woman had smiled at her. “You are most welcomed to stay at my house. It’s not big or fancy, but at least you’ll sleep in a comfy bed if you accept.”

    Shiya had not easily been convinced, but the blonde haired woman, kind as she was to a fault, managed to convince the six-foot-two-inch tall dragir to stay at her house. And the woman fed her and also offered her clothing that fit Shiya! It happened that the woman had lost a daughter long ago, about three years back, but she had kept her clothing and other special belongings within her room. When she had offered Shiya a beautiful, dark colored mercenary outfit worthy to be worn by the most elite of warriors, Shiya, of course, had asked who the outfit belonged to. And Geneviere, as the woman was named, let her know that it had belonged to her now-deceased daughter. Shiya had saddened at the news and had said she was sorry. She also let her know in a kind voice that she could not wear the clothes, as well conserved and beautiful as they seem to be, because she respected her dead daughter. However, the woman had easily read what the dragir had been thinking and quickly had added with a smile, “You’d do me much honor if you wore these pieces, and also my daughter would be very honored. Stephanie never got that chance to do that.” Geneviere had lowered her head and had added sadly, “I made this outfit especially for her, but she died three days before the guild where she worked at in the capital allowed her to come see me. That’s what the guild leader told me, anyway. I believe him, because he’s a just man.”

    At that, Shiya had taken pity of the woman, and she had stretched out her hands asking for the outfit. The woman had handed it to her right away and with a broad smile. Shiya had considered the outfit for nearly a minute that night, and just by looking at it she had known that it would be fitting her well, surely better than the tight, dirty outfit that she currently was wearing.

    “Again I say: I am sorry about your daughter,” Shiya had truly been hurt before the woman. “I will honor her and you by wearing it.”

    Geneviere had smiled, held back tears, and had nodded so many times at her. Oblivious had the dragir been at the fact that the woman was picturing her to be her daughter.

    From that moment on, the woman had urged Shiya to take a warm bath, for she had wanted to see her in the new outfit.

    Shiya obliged to the woman’s wishes, and moments later had come out from the room wearing the outfit. The old woman had applauded and had told her that it looked beautiful on her.

    Besides the mercenary outfit, more good treatment had come from the woman: food, water, shelter, and friendship, all free of charge. When Geneviere had asked her about her name when they had been dining, Shiya, shivering badly, had thought fast and came up with a new one, fearing that her real name could land her in trouble.

    “Sheeva Hydrangea, at your service,” the dragir had said, hating every word of the lie. Geneviere, though, smiled and pronounced the name, saying later that it was a beautiful name.

    When the dragir had left early the very next day just as she’d said that she would do, Geneviere had given her exact directions so she could find the Primrose Guild and also a pouch with some gems.

    “That’s to help you wherever you go, dear,” the woman had said as she had been saying her good byes to Sheeva, the dragir who reminded her so much of her beloved lost daughter. “And don’t hesitate to come back here if you ever find yourself in need. My house’s door will always be opened to you.”

    Even some kids and other folks had gathered at one end of the village, for during the night, as Shiya had been resting, Geneviere had gone out to tell them all about her. Curious, most of them had been standing near the windows and door of Geneviere’s house trying to get a good look at her. And now they were all there to say goodbye, even though they hardly knew her. But she was a dragir, and the folks of that village had always welcomed dragir with warm smiles since Artemys Primrose’s guild was so close and had taken care of cleaning the area of the wild monsters and beasts that had been providing problems for them all back in the day.

    Looking so ravishing in that elegant black mercenary outfit, Shiya had returned defeated back to the village after having seen her daughter again after seventy plus years. The villagers, upon seeing that she had returned after being away for just several hours, had quickly gone to greet her, for after she had left them earlier that day, they had all been left in a sad state. Geneviere was so happy to see her again, not to mention a pack of five kids.

    “Did you get lost out there, dear?” Geneviere had asked her, fearing that that had been the case.

    Shiya’d had to lie again, of course, well, sort of...

    “I...just thought I’d come back and spend a few days here with you all till I feel ready to move on.”

    “What? Really?” Geneviere could not believe it.

    Shiya had nodded before her and the rest of the villagers.

    “In truth, I have done very little to repay you all for the great hospitality that you all showed me,” she had told them as she had eyed most of them one by one. “I sort of felt empty when I left, kind of bad for leaving just like that, you know? Like I said, allow me to spend a few days here so that I can repay in full, or at least close to that, the favor that you all have shown me.”

    Smiling, Geneviere had assured the dragir that she owed them nothing, and that the village was honored to have her presence. The villagers nodded and agreed with their village comrade. Shiya had felt so welcomed, and she had shivered in happiness. At the very least she had found a small place where she could think things over after her first attempt had not gone well.

    And so it was that Shiya used the coming days to help out the people of the village while she thought things over about what she was going to do concerning the Primrose Guild and her precious daughter.

    And indeed she had used those days to think things thoroughly. While she had done that, she had helped the villagers with so many errands. Though Hiampa was a very small village, Shiya soon had found out that there was much to do. Some of the things she did were cut wood with an axe in order for the villagers to use it to light their wood-running stoves to cook or to light fires and stay warm at night. Winter was soon coming to the region, so the villagers were making preparations for that. She also helped reinforce and fix the village surrounding stone wall as well as the south and north entrances, which had been a little beat up after orcs and goblins had been trying to get into the village months ago. The dragir had even climbed several of the shacks’ rooftops and had fixed the holes on them so when it rained or snowed the water would not leak inside the house. Shiya also found enough time to reunite herself with her lost warrior skills, particularly those bow skills. She spent many hours honing those skills.

    On this 23rd day of Leaf, a rainy day at about noon, Shiya, who had come out earlier to a local forest to prove to herself that she had reconciled with her bow skills for good, had just seen a pair of young men passing by. Alerted of their presence thanks to the loud talking they made as they went by, Shiya had been able to hide herself and a large sack filled with deer meat (from a deer she had hunted and killed half hour ago) behind a large, fat tree. From behind the tree, she had kept her eyes on them as they went passing by, oblivious to her presence.

    “We could surely stop and have a breather here, Efraim,” one of the men protested, Shiya able to hear his words well, not to mention get a good look at them. One was blonde and lengthy, the other brown haired and even lengthier, perhaps standing a little over six-four. Shiya’s eyes noticed the weapons they carried: swords at the hip, one a crossbow on his back, and both wore brown cloaks, perhaps to fend off the rain. They had not their hoods on when they passed by, perhaps because the rain had lessened in strength.

    “Naw, you dolt,” replied the so called Efraim, who sped his walk even some more. “We’re not stopping any time soon, so quit your yapper.”

    “But my legs are tired from all this walking in this foul weather!”

    “Bah, you’ve yet to educate your feet well, Luzak. We’re running even late already, but we’re almost there, so just keep going. You’ll have your breather soon enough.”

    “Guess so,” replied Luzak, surely in defeat.

    And just like that they were gone and lost themselves in the distance to the south, leaving behind a curious Shiya, who came out from behind the tree staring in their direction as she held on to the heavy sack at her back.

    Perhaps warriors seeking my sweetie’s guild? she thought to herself.

    Whatever the case might be with the men, she’d had in mind leaving for the guild come the next morrow. That is why today she had come out here to hunt a deer, to use some of the meat for a good bye feast later during the night, and also to leave the rest of the meat for the villagers to eat for the coming week.

    Not thinking too much about the men, Shiya began her walk back to the village of Hiampa.

    *****


    I'm a writer. Read my stories here: The Dark Voyage Guild on Wheels

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