SOMEWHERE ON THE PLANET NILDERNN
Sken, in usual fashion, walked into his quarters with a large crow in his hand – feeding it whatever birds ate on another. One of his favourite hobbies was the act of breeding two species of avians to create one – and the one he had perched upon his arm right now, whose name was ‘Largeblackbird’, was the result of careful breeding plans and a bit of eugenics here and there. It was his largest pet bird by far, and Sken was quite pleased by how fast it had grown. As his visual receptors looked into his room and the lights lit up, he was greeted by the sight of the Vanguard Commander, out of armour and only wearing an undershirt with some loose pants – lying down on his featherbed with a book in one hand. Her visor was off too, so her eyes – one cybernetic and one organic, was visible even from afar.
“Ah, you’re back! Great! We need to discuss something of paramount importance,” KYRA*GOA slammed her book shut, creating a rather loud thud sound as she lept out of the bed and onto her feet. Sken tilted his head at the statement, confused on what she was talking about. He was sure he had submitted those battle reports and that defense plan for Nildernn ages ago, did he miss out on something? “It is important we tell this to no-one, but ourselves.”
“What is it?” His monotone, robotic voice spoke out as his mood lights upon his body turned a soft purple, pulsing yellow here and there every second. It lit up the surroundings around him with whatever hue his mood lights changed to, and this startled Largeblackbird quite a bit – flapping her wings in response to the sudden change in lighting. It screeched and clawed, but Sken was able to calm it down with a soft metal hand upon its back, ruffling its feathers and scratching it softly.
“Your birthday party. You are of two years now! And you rolled off the assembly line on this day!” KYRA*GOA beamed as her robotic eye twitched, zooming into the calendar on the wall behind Sken. “21st of Torongust!”
Sken placed Largeblackbird upon the bird perch he had next to his bedside, and looked to the calendar as well. “Do bots celebrate birthdays? I thought beings of organic flesh only did that?”
The cyborg waved the thick, black hardcover book in her hand towards Sken. “Well, this book I am reading says otherwise. It was written by some dumb member of some Heartonian house about four centuries ago, talking about the rights of bots and stuff. One of the chapters claims that if bots are ever going to be a part of society, they must celebrate birthdays too. So that is what we are going to do. And we are going to host a BIG one.”
“Who was it written by?”
“Sir Yondam Whareark.”
“Ah yes, Sir Yondam Whareark – he had a big role in the Knight’s Rebellion. Did you know he once defeated an army so large—”
“Yada, yada – spare me the essay, Sken. All you have to know is that we are going to celebrate YOUR birthday, whether you like it or not.”
“I do not think I voiced any displeasure towards that plan, Vanguard Commander.”
“Very well! I shall begin writing the invitations! Where do you keep your ink and paper?” KYRA*GOA knocked over a jar full of candies and some cans of oil as she rummaged through the cabinets of the Imperial Commander. Some of the things within the cabinets, such as small trinkets and wooden figurines fell onto his work table, and others simply fell off it. Sken simply pointed to a small cabinet to the very right of his large black wooden desk, and there – the Vanguard Commander pulled out a large ink glass and a fountain pen. Papers to write upon were also in there, and soon KYRA*GOA began writing her letters, dipping her pen in ink and placing words upon the yellowed papers beneath one of her hands.
“Who shall we invite first? The Roylian Emperor?”
“Erm, I do not think inviting a ruler of an entire realm is a very wise decision – Vanguard Commander. He might take offense to it.” Sken mumbled quietly as he sat down on his bed, wondering how it would feel if he had skin. Humans expressed the texture of a bed to be rather comfortable and warm, but the steel being could not experience that. Not yet, anyways.
“Nonsense! The Emperor is very good friends with all of us! Once, he sent me a bouquet of roses when I was recovering from the Battle of Krekan, and he even gave me a handwritten note!” The cyborg beamed as one eye focused on the bot and another focused on writing the invitation.
After a few moments of inking words upon paper, KYRA*GOA turned around on the spinning chair she sat upon and began to read the letter out loud.
“Dear Emperor Aesirgr of the Dynasty Ironshield-Radvigrr,
I hereby invite you to the birthday party of SKENNER, or Sken as known by many. He is celebrating his second year off the assembly lines, and as such – for this momentous occasion, we are inviting you – the Emperor himself – to this amazing birthday party we shall be hosting in the Regent’s Tower! I think you’d be a wild party animal, and I am sure they do not call you the ‘Relaxed’ for nothing. Hit me up if you agree, okay?
Sken could only give a slight nod as the next letter was penned, this time to another monarch of another realm – the Emperor of Heartonia. While the Heartonians were more serious and would likely not entertain any of these invitations, they have been known to throw balls and parties so massive that castles did not have enough space to house all of their guests and visitors. Still, they were more likely to accept the invitation rather than the Roylians, which was quite ironic to say the least.
Again, KYRA*GOA turned around with letter in hand – announcing its contents out loud again.
“Dear Emperor Banner of the House Corwallian-Gorwall,
I hereby invite you to the birthday party of SKENNER, or Sken, as known by many. The poor fool is celebrating his second year off the assembly lines of Nildernn, and I am inviting all of you Heartonian guys to this party cause that is what you guys like to throw when you are on your off times, right? Take a break from parading in plate armour and swinging your swords and come down to our snowy planet!
“Well, I am sure they will consider.” Sken looked at the letter with his visual receptors as Largeblackbird cawed, flying about the room and landing upon the steel being’s cold and hard head. Metallic cranking accompanied the movement of his arm, and he grabbed the avian by his back and plcaedit upon his left arm to perch upon. The cyborg simply continued to pen more and more letters, and soon Sken’s worktable was filled with these invitations, ready to be sent out into the wild for whatever king or emperor to read.
SEVEN DAYS LATER
Decorations strung across the ceiling, with tables covered in white tablecloths placed about the room. Upon these tables were foods of various kinds – meat, fish, ham, vegetables and finger foods – nothing that Sken could devour for he lacked the taste buds and digestion functions of a normal flesh being. Alongside the decorations were balloons floating in the corners, with some tied down and others stuck in the air – all of different colours that corresponded to Sken’s mood lights. The lights in the room had been changed to a soft yellowish hue, and in the middle of the entire room was a large stage, probably for performances or a speech of some sort.
The entrance to the party room was an elevator, and next to the elevator was a large sign proclaiming that only men or women wearing party hats would be allowed into the premises. Of course, it was a rather odd rule – but KYRA*GOA insisted upon it, and to enforce it – had two Regent Guards stationed next to the elevator. Of course, they were holding this party in the Regent Tower, and security would be very tight regardless. He doubted that his creator… his father – would even come down to this event. His valued his secrecy more than most things, and he did not blame him for it.
Round tables sat around the room, and bottles of wine were placed upon them. He could spy a vintage Byendarr Wine bottle from where he was sitting. No-one was here yet except for him, and the party was about to start anyways. He could hear the sounds of a soft winter blizzard raging outside the structures – and maybe some snow serpents cruising through the ground, waiting for some prey to feast upon. Of course, most of these sounds were drowned out by the weird party music that was blasting from the speakers – but he was a bot, he could focus on different frequencies anyhow.
The elevator doors soon rang, and its doors opened slowly. Out came two men dressed in a fine garb of red tunic, and a large cloak fastened onto their backs, clasped together by a brooch of a tree with a sword through its trunk. Leather pants accompanied their top, and the high collars on their clothes covered their necks. One of the men seemed younger than the other, possessing sandy blond hair alongside bluish-green eyes, and a sharp nose and strong jaw. The other man possessed brownish hair, with the same eyes – but a flatter nose and narrow eyes next to them. Both of them were of rather pale skin, and their hands were gloved in a dark, almost maroon set of gloves. KYRA*GOA was behind the two of them, and she jumped up and down to look over their shoulders – as the two towered over her quite a bit. As their eyes jumped to the giant sign proclaiming all visitors must wear party hats, the older one groaned as he grabbed a hat off the table – placing it upon his head. The younger one was more eager to do so, and he happily strapped it on and walked towards the sad steel being sitting upon the set of stairs leading up to the stage.
“Hi. Erm, you’re Sken? Right? Prince Aydriandorr, third prince of the Roylian Empire and of the dynasty of Ironshield-Radvigrr.” The boy beamed with his bright eyes peering into the glass lens of Sken, lifeless and cold with nothing beneath it. Sken’s mood lights changed to a soft green, and he stood up to extend his hand.
“I am SKENNER, Sken bot. I think you already know who I am. But I am pleased to meet you.”
“Happy birthday… or assemblyday? I do not normally celebrate the birthdays of steel beings, but it is nice to do so for once.” The prince shrugged as he looked about the room, noticing that no-one was within it, except for him and his brother. Asdann soon stood next to him with a soft grin, and shook the bot’s extended hand for Aydriandorr instead.
“Prince Asdann. Second prince. Our eldest brother could not make it, too busy with his ambition of sailing into unchartered lands and territories. Our father sends his regards too, he was very eager to attend but alas, his duties detain him,” Asdann scratched his brown hair with a gloved hand.
The Vanguard Commander soon scooted next to the two princes, giving off a creepy smile as she noticed the party hats on their heads. It would seem odd that the sons of one of the most powerful men in the entirety of the Tysanderr are wearing these two plastic hats under the orders of some cyborg woman in the middle of nowhere – but it was amusing to her for that very reason. “Well, now we wait for the other guests. I had invited men of the Abyss, men of the Haraldvon Kingdom and some people from some far off principality – but all of them told me to fuck off.”
Aydriandorr cracked a smile at that statement.
Another soft ‘ding’ sound came from the elevators, and a heavily armoured man in full plate armour walked out of its doors. His helm fully covered his face, and upon his breastplate was a sigil of a snake curled around the steel of a sword. The armour he wore was relatively boring, save for the rather long and green cloak he wore upon his back. Pressing the helm deconstructor on the neck of his plate armour, the helm slowly removed itself to reveal a man of black hair, brown eyes and a heavy beard covering his face. No-one in the room really knew who he was as both Roylian princes and Commanders whispered to each other about the identity of this man – and as he placed the party hat on his head, they could not help but feel intimidated that his man had a sword on his hip ready to kill the four of them if he wanted to. As he approached, his shadow towered over them quite a bit, and he stood a head taller than Asdann himself too.
“I am Lord Guard Haris Bavorn. I was told this was the party of Sken.”
Sken nodded, his neck cracking in robotic sounds.
Haris turned his head to KYRA*GOA.
“I know you. Seen you on the battlefield not once, but thrice. I admire your skills on the field, my lady.”
KYRA*GOA nodded nervously, swearing that this was just a bot in human flesh. Did one of the experimental bots escape the labs of the White Overseers again?
“I will enjoy myself in a corner, I guess.” The large man bowed, before walking off.
Asdann gulped. “Gee, that was weird.”
His younger brother agreed with a nod, before sitting down on the stage with his legs dangling.
Not long after, two men and a woman entered the party room as well. The two men were clad in armour with helms and cloaks much like Sir Haris, and the woman was dressed in a fine gown of light green silk and satins. The men removed their helms to reveal that their hairs were of brown, alongside blue eyes and sharp noses. Both had a rather firm jawline too, but the younger one lacked the scruffy beard of the older one as well. A scar also rang from the left eye to the right cheek of the younger boy, and one of his eyes seemed greyer then the other too. All three approached Sken with a bow.
“Greetings, steel being. We wish you well on your birthday,” The older male spoke with his hand upon the pommel of his sword. “I am Sir Masen Gorwallian-Corwall, heir to the throne of Heartonia.”
“Squire Cameyr Gorwallian-Corwall. Prince and squire to the Knight of Dawn, Daveonn Ralewoll.”
“And Lady Myseia Gorwallian-Corwall, or princess – if you prefer.” The girl finished the sentence with a very bright smile that caught Asdann’s attention. Aydriandorr poked his brother with his elbow at the reaction, which caused Asdann to groan.
Of course, that would not be the last royal prince to enter. A boy of maybe two-and-ten, same as Aydriandorr – came soon after, dressed in a grey armour and a red party hat of his own. His grey blue eyes was the most striking feature of the boy – for it was rare for a Heartonian prince to posses such eyes. Moving quickly next to his brothers and sister, his eyes met Aydriandorr’s – and both of them shot a quick smile at each other.
“And this is my late brother – Prince Ranner. Currently a squire under my father.”
“Please to meet all of you.” Sken’s mood lights shone a brighter green, surprising all the four Heartonians. They were unused to being around robots after all, and this was their first time being so close to one with absolute free will. It was an unique experience to them, probably the reason why they even came.
“You say you squire for the Knight of Dawn?” KYRA*GOA asked Cameyr, who nodded with pride. “Aye, I serve the knight. Do you know him? He always spoke of his adventures with a woman to countless of brothels while we trained. My favourite tale was one where he and the woman killed three whores because they thought they were trained assassins.”
“Yep. I am that woman alright.” The Vanguard Commander grinned, adjusting her visor. “Ah. You are KYRA? Pleased to meet you, my lady.”
That was a style and title the cyborg was never going to get used to.
The four took their seats around a table, with Aydriandorr waddling next to Ranner with a soft smile and rather nervous posture. Sken could tell that they were perhaps close friends, and he quite enjoyed the interactions of organic beings. It was one he enjoyed greatly, even with a cyborg such as KYRA.
A few more members of noble houses poured through the elevator doors not long after. There was House Eryan – their lord bearing the name of Arthorr, House Vaywave, House Cometreap and even the House of Sunsoar. A few knights of name, such as the Star Knight, the Seawatcher Knight and the Knight of the Pale Sword also gave their greetings to the steel being. Some Roylian dyansties, such as Dannirr, Svaard and Haelsteinn also came with gifts of gold and steel – and one even gave KYRA*GOA a large rod that could seemingly vibrate for some odd reason. Sken did not know what it was supposed to be, but the cyborg seemed very pleased with the gift.
Of course, KYRA*GOA kept her false eye and her real eye open for the Dawn Knight. She did not see him within the crowd, and it was hard to miss him anyways. A yellowish tinted armour with the sigil of House Ralewoll was all she needed to look for – but there was no-one of that description lingering about the party premises. “Maybe he will arrive later. He has a reputation for being late after all.” She told herself as she drank from the red cup she held, one hand gripping the large rod that Erlanderr Dannirr had gifted her.
Sken moved towards the table of Heartonian princes and princesses, and sat down upon an empty seat. Ranner and Aydriandorr chatted with each other happily, their eyes meeting every once in awhile. Myseia was busy conversing with the Knight of the Pale Sword, who stood behind her seat with a wine glass in his armoured hand. Cameyr was busy on his smartphone, while Masen feasted upon a snow serpent steak laced with black pepper sauces and various herbs gathered on the planet of Pyernyan – a sister planet to the resort colony of Pyern. The only person he could converse with was Lord Haris, who stood vigilant over the entire royal family here.
“The Heartonian Emperor wishes you a good birthday party, steel being.” Haris said with a stern expression, standing next to Prince Ranner. Ranner chuckled at those words, reaching into the bag he had on his side. A letter came out, and he slipped it to Sken. It was sealed with the sigil of House Gorwallian-Corwall, and the signature of the Emperor was very visible upon its back.
The droid nodded, taking the letter with his hands. Aydriandorr turned his attention towards him, and Ranner did so too. “Are you enjoying your party, steel being?”
Sken nodded. “Yes. I think so, Roylian Third Prince. It is very lively.”
“If only you could enjoy cake. I know Aydriandorr loves a good vanilla one,” Ranner said gleefully, sipping from a glass as the Roylian Prince laughed. “He is much of a sweet tooth, despite his best efforts to hide it.”
“Oils are something I drink. Well, I would not call it ‘drinking’ per human digestive terms, but that is what I do. Strangely enough, 91% of the time – I can feel some sort of taste, a soury one – but that is all I can feel in regards to the consumption of organic materials for survival.” The birthday droid responded as both boys nodded.
Sir Masen cleaned his mouth up with a napkin, before finally speaking up as he placed his fork and knife down upon the table. “All this food here, and none for you. It is quite a shame really.”
The droid shrugged. “The gift of sentience is enough to make up for anything I do not have.”
Masen chuckled as he placed his tankard back onto the wooden table in front of him.
The Knight of the Pale Sword, who stood behind Myseia, extended his armoured hand for a handshake. The Ralewoll smiled as he realized who the man was. “You fucking cunt! Edwan Udderon! How is your father? The cows on your holdfast treat you well?” He shook the hand of the son of his old friend.
“They are indeed good farm animals, Whoresbane,” Edwan smiled, but soon it turned into a frown. “Lord Richson, my father, suffers from an illness of the lungs. The doctors say he will not recover.”
Daveonn smiled at the nickname only so few people remembered, but frowned as well to the news. “Ah. I hope he passes peacefully then.”
KYRA*GOA tapped the knight on his shoulder, and the Dawn Knight turned around to meet her, looking down. She was, after all – five inches shorter than Daveonn after all. “I will let you two get on with your duties then. Are you going to be settling down with her soon? Have you finally found a love to replace your first one?” The Pale Sword inquired, raising an eyebrow.
“Nah, just a friend.”
Sken looked up from the book he was reading as he noticed Daveonn. His mood lights turned a bright bluish-green, signifying his happiness and wonder. “Ah,” His robotic voice, a smooth harmony of static and radio waves, spoke out. “It is good to see you, Knight of the Dawn.”
“Happy assemblyday, buddy. The penguin droids treat you well?” The knight asked, glancing down at the birthday droid who held a plush doll of The Regent given to him by a child of some colonist upon Nildernn. Sken shook his head slowly. “No. Those droids you brought back wreaked havoc upon my quarters. 4 quarters out of 5 of them also ate my metal scraps, and 100% of them drank 85% of my oil reserves. I have since given them to the Vanguard Commander, and they have done no such thing. Why is this?”
KYRA*GOA chuckled. “Maybe because I do not try to feed them actual fish, and instead gears and bolts.” Sken emitted a sound resembling a groan. “Droids do not need substances to survival, let alone gears.”
“You do realize they were programmed to be like real penguins right? Thus that is why they need to ‘eat’.” Daveonn countered his statement. The birthday droid kept silent as his mood lights turned red. It did not mean anger – it meant sadness. “So I was not a good owner?”
“For this year – I got you a real penguin. Seems you do not mix well with your own kind after all.” The knight replied. “Yeah, maybe you will have more fun with it.” KYRA*GOA added on as she placed her hand on her hip, looking at the bot. She could hear Aydriandorr laughing, and Ranner saying something about Sken’s ass or something of the sort. Myseia giggled, and Cameyr cursed his smartphone as the sounds of a game ending sounded loudly.
KYRA*GOA then finally turned her full attention to the Knight of the Dawn, noticing that a most prominent scar that was not there before ran across his cheek. Her immediate first feeling was concern, a feeling that had grown foreign to her – but still, he was her friend. And friends care for one another, right? “So where have you been all this time? And how’d the hell you get that scar?”
Daveonn stole a mug of wine from the Lord Guard Haris, and despite the tall and built man’s displeasure at him doing so – he did not voice it out nor protest, instead keeping it to himself as Sir Masen poured him another tankard. The Dawn Knight returned to face the cyborg, slowly taking big gulps of the contents within his mug as he did so.
“Well, I got into a scuffle with some lord over bedding his lady wife, who could not resist my charms and looks. The poor fool thought he could drive his dagger through my eye and end my life, but I ended his first with the Comet though. Save to say, the lady is now a widow, and last I heard – she had given birth to a bastard girl, named Posila. Weird name, but who am I to judge?”
“You have not changed one bit, you dastard rogue.” The Vanguard Commander grinned.
The sound of a horn being blown soon shrieked in the air – filling the ears of everyone in the room. As if enchanted by its sound, the nobles and knights began walking towards the elevators – in crowds that were quite messy and in disorderly lines. Conversations continued, and some even still held onto their wine glasses instead of placing them back onto the table where they belonged. The princes and princesses did so too, tagging along one another to ensure that they would not lose each other’s company. Sken followed behind Prince Ranner Gorwall-Corwallian, Princess Myseia tagged along the Pale Sword’s back and KYRA*GOA along with Daveonn followed behind the two of them.
“What is going on?” The knight asked, confused.
“Did you not read the invitations I sent out? A melee. That is what’s happening.” KYRA*GOA asked with her head tilted, with an eyebrow raised. The Ralewoll simply muttered a quiet ‘no’, before smirking. “Sometimes, I wonder if you even know how to read. You are good at predicting the cock sizes of men and bosom sizes of women, but words elude your intelligence – huh?”
“Maybe. Anyways, I am eager to beat up some green knights and squires, it is my speciality after all.”
The crowd gathered around the first floor of the Regent Tower, near the large courtyard of artificial grass and trees, its interior restructured into a makeshift arena for the Heartonian melee. Giant wooden fences, erected by volunteer LANDAR and MACAW units, stood in a circle, fully enclosed with the only entrance being a small gate of oak. Stakes made from oak stood firmly in the ground, and banners bearing the sigils of certain houses hung onto the walls too. Daveonn could notice and recognize at least four sigils on those banners – with the first one his eyes gazed over the sunburst over the horizon being his own, House Ralewoll. The one next to it was a sigil of a sparrow upon the hilt of a blade, and he knew for sure that belonged to the House Eryan. A sigil of a cow grazing upon a grass field was the symbol of the members of House Udderon, and the knight upon a serpent sigil belonged to House Ironsong. The walls were high enough to deter anyone from escaping the ring, but were low enough for the peering eyes of nobles and non-participating knight. Funny enough – it was The Regent’s idea that they should carry this traditional event out, for a Heartonian, knight or not – is never satisfied in any party unless he gets to swing his sword at least once.
As his helm covered his head once more, he could spy knights in the corner of his vision. All the fighters had their backs to the wall, forming a large circle that separated everyone from each other. Some wielded shield and steel, but most held only swords in their hands. Each sword was blunt and unsharpened – a safety measure for the melee so that injuries and deaths would not occur. There were a few Roylians participating as well, wearing their usual chainmail armour alongside their cybernetic-axes. The Dawn Knight had always questioned himself why the Roylians – coldblooded as they are, preferred a hardy axe over a trusty sword, but he was unsure. He was not a scholar – unlike Sir Davis Ralewoll, the Dusk Knight and true Knight of the Dawn.
He gripped his sword of blunted steel as he watched KYRA*GOA step into the ring, her unique sword in hand. Eyes were upon her once more as she took her position alongside the edges of the wall to fill a gap in the circle of warriors. She was the only one without a helm, and the Ralewoll found that foolish. “Graceful and swift as you are, none of that will matter once true steel is lodged in your skull.” He thought to himself – twirling a sword that could not kill in his hands.
There was a knight of rather small physique and stature standing across him though, a head shorter than all the rest. His garb was plate and chainmail like some, but what confused him the most was the cloak of the House Sunsoar upon his back. He could not place his hand on who it was – for he only knew only two members bearing the surname of Sunsoar was present at this event – Traves Sunsoar, second son and Travis Sunsoar – twin to Traves. None of them were old enough to fight or squire – and they had been accompanied with a guard to Nildernn. Perhaps the guard was participating in the fight for their honor? He could see that the knight was relaxed, the sword that he held etched into the ground beneath. Hands upon his hips, he shot a glance towards Daveonn – and despite that helm being over his head, he knew that he was staring at him through the slit across his helm.
The knight-of-short-stature was not the only figure of note within the circle though. A large man with his beard in braids stood taller than all, an axe in one hand and a wooden round shield in another. Upon the shield was the symbol of a raven over a large field of snow, the banner of the Haginvegorr – and he instantly knew who this was – Ragnyrr Svaard, or known to his friends as the ‘Oatharm’ – for upon his arm are the tattooed words of his sacred oath to the Haginvegorr and the Gods, swearing death upon all foes who would threaten his family. While it was not obvious at first for Roylians did not value blood as much as the Heartonians to have sigils and flags scattered all of their weapons and body, the fact that a Haginvegorr was participating in a melee meant for prancing knights was already of much note. Ragnyrr had a reputation for cleaving in the heads of plenty of men, but this time he was forced to wield one axe instead of one larger axe, so Daveonn felt a bit safer, for some odd reason.
And of course, Dyn Eryan was here – his former-squire now turned man of notable interest. The boy’s helm with wings at the temples stood proudly on his head, and he stood in a stance ready for combat – despite the melee still in its preparatory stages. A rather short cloak dyed in dark blue hanged loosely from his back, and his plate was of a soft baby blue too – the artificial lights on top of the false garden shining bright upon it. House Eryan always did like that colour – probably because the sparrows on their planet are all of blue shades and hues, but still – it was quite boring not to see some variation of colour among Eryan Knights. “Young and eager, I was like that once.” He smirked.
As the nobles gathered around closer to watch over the walls, the man managing the whole event – who was dressed in a white officer’s uniform of the Regent Guard and gloved in black gloves, held a horn of serpent bone while standing over the entire arena through a tower located on the very left of the makeshift wall. Daveonn knew the man – Ivarr Andirr, Lord Commander of the Steel Corps in the Regent Guard. They had not talked much, but the lad was quite determined to make himself known like the three commanders that commanded them. He raised the horn to his lips – and with a deep breath, blew into the horn.
The melee began, and to the right of him – a knight of black tinted steel rushed towards him.
The poor fool failed to see that the Dawn Knight had already anticipated an attack from other sides of his flank, and thus with a quick side step, the charging knight passed right in front of Daveonn – smashing head first into another knight who was busy trying to process what was going on. Both knights fell onto the floor in a loud thud, and they were out cold – just like that. Looking to the middle of the field, Ralewoll could see many knights engaging in sword-to-sword, and the roaring cheers from the crowd drowned out any form of noise that his helm could pick up. Effectively, he would have to rely on his senses now instead of his helm’s audio detectors if someone was to sneak up on him.
The second knight that attempted to engage Ralewoll was a member of House Yornspire. As the knight slowly inched closer to the knight in his sword stance of holding his steel between his legs in a two handed stance – while putting his right foot forward – he seemed quite ready for whatever the Dawn Knight was going to throw at him. Of course, he was wrong – for when their steel made contact, Daveonn using two hands as well, he was able to force his opponent’s sword down to their legs – before knocking him out cold with a headbutt followed by a stamp onto his helm the moment he reached the ground with his back. Another foe gone from the field, and yet it still seemed like there were hundreds here. The next knight that approached, green tinted armour and all – stepped forward right after the Yornspire knight was defeated, and this man seemed unaffiliated with any house. “Probably a hedge-knight looking to start his own family line.”
The first swing was easily blocked as they swung. The second one was parried as it a two handed swing came from above, and Daveonn’s sword met his helm in a parallel line as he did. The last one came from the right again and Daveonn grabbed the blade with his armoured hand, stopping his opponent in his tracks. As he struggled to pull the sword out of his hand, the Dawn Knight braced for a hard swing – and smashed the steel into the man’s helm, denting it quite a bit as he fell onto the ground on his side, sprawled on the floor.
He had been standing in the same position the entire time. “This is far too easy.” He muttered to himself as he strolled towards the middle of the field, looking for someone or something that was a tad more challenging. He found his challenge as two knights came forward, looking to knock one of the most skilled swordsmen within the ring out of the melee. Daveonn smirked. The first knight on the left lunged forward first, his sword ready for a thrust into his armour of the Dawn Knight. He was able to deflect it before it even came close to him, but this gave enough time for the second knight to move forward with a swing towards his legs – and despite its rather light impact, it caused Daveonn to bend his knee. He cursed himself as he stepped back, watching the two knights corner him into the wooden wall ring. Taking the time to catch his breath, he steeled himself – before trying to get rid of the knight on the left. They traded steel, and when the left knight began to heave and breath under his helm from the fight, Ralewoll knocked him out with a swing to the chest and pommel to face. He fell to the ground, and as the right knight moved forward to smash his blunted steel upon the back of his head, Daveonn moved his elbow back to smack against the chest of that knight, pushing him back long enough for the Knight of the Dawn to raise his sword with both hands over his shoulder, hitting the neck of the fool who attempted to take him. He heard a crack, and the knight fell. Ralewoll breathed, noticing that both knights that both fell were probably brothers – as their cloaks hung a falling leaf upon them – the sigil of House Purmmber.
“I hope I did not break any bones.” Daveonn thought to himself as he saw KYRA*GOA struggling against four knights at once. The knights were working in tandem together to take out the Vanguard Commander, and they were able to land a few hits that did not seem to stagger the short cyborg. He could not focus long enough to realize the outcome of that small skirmish, for a Roylian soon stepped forward to challenge the Dawn. He twirled his axe, and readied his shield.
This time, the knight made the first move. His sword fell onto the shield of the Roylian, and again, and again, and again. This chipped the paint off the navsteel shield, but it did not much. An axe blow met the chest of the knight, and he coughed as he cringed in slight pain. The Roylian was quite strong indeed, but what Roylian was not? As he went forward for a sword swing, it was stopped by the axe’s beneath, and the Roylian dragged the knight in with relative ease. A mailed fist smashed into the Roylian’s half-helm, and before he could recover, two swings – left and right and a thrust towards the lightly armoured chest of his opponent sent blood out of his mouth, and the last sword blow met the right side of the half-helm. And like that – he was gone from the battle. Hopefully not dead.
Stabbing his sword into the ground beneath, he took a quick breather. KYRA*GOA had eliminated two of the four that was attacking her in one blow, and how she did that was quite amusing. He grabbed an axe of a fallen Roylian off the ground and threw it towards one of the men to distract him, but instead it smashed against his head and he fell onto the ground. Behind him was another knight and he was sent to the ground too, with his companion above him. Needless to say, a stamp was all it took it knock the man below out. Dyn Eryan was doing quite well too, clearing through knights as easy as they came. And the knight-of-short-stature fought with a ferocity that was instilled in all knights of House Sunsoar, and he truly wondered if he was a mere guard or someone else playing the role of a knight. It could be some farmer underneath that plate, and no-one would know.
Not long after, only ten men… or women still remained. There was him, Sir Daveonn Ralewoll – the Knight of the Dawn. Oatharm had his axe over his shoulder as he picked this teeth with his other arm, while Dyn Eryan twirled his sword again and again. KYRA*GOA eyed everyone suspiciously, and the knight-of-short-stature stood in the ground, unmoving. Kharles of House Redann, and another Kharles of House Lowsavant circled around the field – and the last three knights were Arthorr, and Daven of House Avernholl and the Knight of the Pale Sword.
Sir Daven came after Daveonn first. He put up a good fight, but as he was disarmed and the sword almost entered his eyes due to the Dawn Knight moving on pure instinct – the man put up his arms. While Daveonn was unable to see what happened as Daven Ralewoll yielded beneath him, he could tell that by the time he was done with Daven – only three remained, while the rest had either yielded much like Devan or had been knocked out. The Pale Sword, Dyn and the Dawn. He wondered how the Oatharm was even defeated, but then soon remembered that KYRA*GOA jumped onto his back and smashed him into the dirt beneath. While KYRA*GOA squirmed and got back to her feet, Dyn rammed his full body into her, and she yielded from the injury it caused – three broken ribs and one fractured arm. The crowd gasped at this, but she simply raised an arm and shouted: “I’m fine!”. She would recover easily from that due to her robotic augmentations, but for now – she was as vulnerable as any other human being.
The Dawn Knight spread his arms, moving backwards as Dyn and the Pale Sword stared at him. He gave a large smile as he took small steps, before stopping after a few seconds when he felt he was far enough from them. There he was – perhaps the most skilled swordsmen in the room, and standing in front of him were the two second most skilled swordsmen within the ring. There was tension in the air as the crowd watched with excitement, their hands gripping the wooden walls tightly in anticipation on what was to come. Nobles who had betted on either of the three knights sat in the edge of their seats, hoping that their bet would be the winning one – while others who did not care for money simply were eager to see a skilled display of swordsmanship. Prince Ranner had taken a higher view from where he sat, and Aydriandorr stood next to him – watching with glee. Cameyr’s eyes shone with admiration towards the three in the field and Myseia rooted for the Pale Sword as Asdann stood next to her with a cup in hand – emotionless. Sir Masen sat on the stretchers as medic bots tended to his wounds, and even he stole a glance at the fight that was about to happen.
“So, here we stand,” Ralewoll’s voice came out of helm, synthesized by the voice modulator within his plate armour-suit. “I am surprised that both of you lasted this long. Especially you, Dyn.”
“I aim to surprise.” Dyn replied in his usual fashion – short and straight to the point. He was not particularly quippy or good at coming up with witty replies, and that suited his personality anyways. “And I aim to win.” The Pale Sword added on as he moved back as well, his sword – Milkpale – shining brightly underneath light, gleaming. Daveonn had heard that the Milkpale was given its name because a giant cow had ate the sword and spit it out when it was unsharpened – and that explained the weird etchings of patterns resembling a cow spot’s upon the steel of the blade. He remained unconvinced that was the case, but eh – whatever people believed, he respected.
There was silence – before they moved forward.
The Dawn Knight smiled as he stood over KYRA*GOA, who lied down upon a medical bed somewhere along the second floor of the Regent Tower. The wounds she had sustained were healing up rapidly – and at a rate that Daveonn found quite surprising. Most of the fractures she sustained had already patched themselves up, and all that was left were minor tears here and there in her muscles. Two Regent Guards stood watch on the flanks of the door leading into the room, and a Red Guard – with red cloak, red armour, red symbols and red characters stood watch at the corner of the room – eyeing Daveonn suspiciously. His hands held an assault rifle painted white, and the knight suspected that it was a physical projectile weapon instead of a plasma one – something that would probably tear through his plate if he were not careful. On his hip was a revolver, three grenades and a packet of cigars, and the large sword on the right implied that he was a melee fighter as well. “I can now see why people fear these large cunts so much.”
“Ugh, I should have never jumped on that beast of a being,” The cyborg groaned as she sat up on the bed, scratching her head which pounded with a pain around the back of her head. She could not place where it was coming from or why it was there, but she was glad that was the worst of her problems – as the fractures in her arms seemed to have already healed quite nicely. “Abyss technology works wonders. I wonder why the entirety of the Tysanderr still refuses to trade or negotiate with them. Imagine the wars that the Roylian Empire can win if they had the tech instilled within me.”
The Red Guard in the corner moved forward towards the bedside, standing next to the table that was beside it. He grabbed a jug of water that sat upon it and poured it into a glass, before taking out a small glass bottle filled with green, slimy liquid – mixing it into the water. When he was done, he offered it to KYRA*GOA. “White Overseers’ orders, commander. Have to drink whatever this is.”
KYRA*GOA groaned, taking the glass and gulping down its contents. It was hard to keep it in at first, but she forced it down with another glass of clean cold water. “What was that?” The knight asked as she stood up from the bed. “Some Abyss recovery tech. That green liquid contains some sort of nano-thingy that helps speed up recovery in cyborgs – sometimes even healing the person instantly. We only have it in limited quantities, and we actually have to smuggle it in here. Roylian, Heartonian, Haraldvonian and even the Resydjars restrict any Abyss ships from coming into their realms, so it is necessary to do that.”
“I see.” Daveonn replied as she followed the cyborg out of the medical center. Before they left the doorway however, the Two Regent Guards at the door saluted, and she turned to the Red Guard. “You are dismissed, Bjarnnor.”
As both of them made their way back towards the party on the third floor, they spotted more knights inside the medical centers, groaning in pain. Some only had broken arms or legs, and some had worse injuries – concussions or a blind eye. Regardless, the doctors at Nildernn were the best of the best, and Daveonn had no worries that all the knights would fully recover by the week’s end. When they finally returned to the party room with party hats upon their heads – they spotted Dyn Eryan sitting among the princes and princesses of both Roylia and Heartonia, the helm with wings on both temples he wore into the melee sitting upon the table. He did not have a helm that was built into his plate-suit – rather he had it separate from it, much like the knights of old. As the commander and knight approached, Dyn gave a slight nod as they took their seats.
“KYRA*GOA, It is good to see you up and about. I hope my attack was not too rough on you,” Dyn lowered his head and spoke in a solemn tone. “I am not used to injuring women.”
“Eh, I’ll live.” KYRA*GOA simply replied, words that lightened up Dyn’s mood quite a bit. Ranner Gorwallian-Corwall looked to her. “You seemed to have recovered quite quickly. The other knights are still suffering in their sick beds.”
“I got special attention.” She replied as Sir Masen slipped a plate of snow serpent steak towards her. The smell was overwhelming, and this time she could see that the steak was peppered in many herbs and spices – with the sauce over it being something creamy. “You must be famished, commander. Got you something from the chefs. Personal order.” The young knight grinned.
As she was about to dig in – someone came over to the table, a bright gold helm in hand. When KYRA*GOA looked up, she was greeted by a maiden with rather shaggy and messy hair, dark blue eyes and a pointed nose. She was in plate, and her sword hung from her hip. “A girl knight? Now that’s a sight you don’t see everyday.” She thought to herself as the woman extended her hand over the table to shake Dyn’s. “Congratulations on winning the melee, Lord Eryan.”
Dyn accepted the hand, shaking his head and smiling. “No. I merely won because the Dawn Knight, my mentor – was distracted by the sound of something happening in the crowd. If he had been fully focused… well.. I would have found the dirt first instead of him.” His eyes looked to Daveonn, who smirked at that statement. By now, Sir Masen was sitting behind KYRA*GOA from a chair he had pulled from another table, feasting upon the steak on the plate he held onto. “Aye, my squire is right. If I had been focused… but anyways, who are you – most beautiful lady?”
“I am Lyseia Sunsoar, the Princess of Light – as they call me.” Lyseia looked to the Dawn, and gave a soft bow. Daveonn was intrigued, and grew a bit tense underneath. He was in front of two warrior women, and that was a sight as rare as seeing a snow serpent fornicate with one of its own. A quick sip of the wine in his hands restored his usual cool posture, and he sat with one leg crossing over his other one. “So, Lyseia – or should I call you Lady Lyseia?”
“Lyseia is fine,” She turned to Prince Ranner and bowed. “My prince.”
Ranner nodded. “How fares the House of Sunsoar, my lady?”
“It is well. My eldest brother has since taken the title of Lord of Sundown, and is the current lord of House Sunsoar.” Lyseia replied, as she smiled at the foreign boy next to Ranner. Aydriandorr smiled back as he looked around for the siblings of his companion. “Where is Cameyr and Myseia?”
Ranner looked about. “Cameyr, inspired by Lord Eryan, Lord Udderon and Lord Ralewoll, went to the garden to train his swordsmanship with other boys of his age. Myseia is probably talking to your brother, Asdann. They seem quite happy with one another, despite the advances of the Knight of the Pale Sword.”
As his words finished, the elevator doors swung open one more time – and out poured a group of rather tall men and women. Their thick beards, long hair and weird tattoos upon their body instantly told everyone that they were Vasexon – but behind them all was Helfdann Torydandinn, the High Commander of the Steel Corps. “So that is the Clan of Torydandinn?” Sken asked, curious and trying to get a better look at all the members of the family. A long haired blond man with a equally coloured thick beard that reached his neck was the first man to grab a party hat, his dark bluish eyes shining with joy as he placed it upon his head and noticed that large amounts of meat scattered all over the tables. Two women of same hair colour and eyes took their hats too, and they walked alongside the tall man as their conversed about topics that he could not hear. Helfdann, standing next to a younger boy, ruffled his hair as he placed the hat upon his hair, the boy scattering off as soon as he did that. The boy looked different from Helfdann, so automatically Sken assumed that it was not his son – but perhaps a nephew?
As the droid at the elevator entrance gave Helfdann a party hat, he simply crossed his arms and refused to take one. “This is stupid. I am your High Commander, and I demand that I should not wear this… thing of childish make,” He said with an angry expression, his eyebrows furrowing to show this. “Well. You cannot come in here then.” The birthday-hat hander droid, a MACAW class one, simply said as the crow on his shoulder nodded.
Helfdann looked to the two Regent Guardsmen standing by the elevators, showing an expression of confusion and disgust. The Regent men simply shrugged their shoulders, assault rifles in hand. “The Regent approved the Vanguard Commander’s request for a rule that calls for everyone to wear a hat into the party, High Commander. We cannot do anything but comply.”
“How did… her snake tongue… convince The Regent to do something so preposterous?” He was dumbfounded, his head pounding with pain as he tried to reason how was it even possible that The Regent, out of all people, agreed to enforce a rule… this stupid?
Regardless, he did not want to waste more time trying to question the impossible – and as his eyes shot an angry glare at KYRA*GOA, she simply gave a thumbs up – alongside Sken, who did the same as well, his lights shining a bright greenish-orange. The old man groaned, and forcefully grabbed the party hat from the hands of the MACAW unit, strapping it onto his head without much fuss – before strolling into the party room with his hands in his officer jacket’s pockets. Making his way over to the table where all the nobility and birthday droid’s friends gathered, he simply stood upright, not offering anything other then a soft ‘hurm’.
“I see you brought your family along.” Sken said to the High Commander first, who simply looked over his shoulder to assess where his kinsmen were. He could see Hvitserk, his older brother, feasting upon three chicken wings and a drumstick in another hand, grease running down his chin as he enjoyed the thick and rich meat. Larhildr and Brunhildr were together as usual, and what could separate the two twin sisters from one another? Probably the allure of a nice, cold dessert – but still, it was hard to see them apart from one another. “Before you ask, I will answer first. The tall, big man is my older brother – his name being Hvitserk,” The Blackshirt pointed one gloved finger to the tallest man in the room, whose braided beard swung about as he grabbed more food. “The two twins are my younger sisters, Larhildr and Brunhildr. Yes, they are married – and no, no-one else of my clan is coming. Ymerrdann and my youngest son Halfdann was supposed to be here – but they are attending to activities… more important that whatever this is.”
Sken’s mood lights turned a dark blue as his mechanical head hung low, saddened by that statement. “Cheer up, buddy – the old man’s always grumpy. I am sure he will come to enjoy your party… one way or another, is that not right, Helfdanny?” The Dawn shot a rather mischievous grin towards the Torydandinn, his bright white teeth showing. He simply groaned at those words, and walked off without saying much else. He did offer a nod to the princes and princesses near the table though, and they returned the nod with various expressions as usual. Helfdann replied to none of those expressions with the same warmthness, and that left Prince Ranner quite disappointed. “He seems quite angry over what is going on here.”
“The man cares too much for duty and work, he does not understand the word ‘fun’ or ‘relaxation’.” KYRA stated as she leaned back in her chair, one feet upon the clothed table. She used her hands to rub her visor, and she could see specks of dust at the corner of her vision. A yawn came. Music began to softly play over the loudspeakers, and she closed her eyes as the music flowed – going along with it until the sounds drowned out – falling into a deep slumber of nothingness.
Ranner walked along the pavement, his gloved hands running along the glass panels of shops along the side of it. Nildernn was a beautiful place, despite it being enclosed within steel and iron – and he now understood why many moved here despite the constant snow serpent attacks and lack of natural grass and flora. Children played in the parks with false grass, holding their plush dolls of Sken, KYRA*GOA and Helfdann – while those older, perhaps teenagers or adults, had their computers out upon the table – watching videos or perhaps reading something on the Internet. Life here was not much different than on Stormcall, and frankly – he would not mind living here for the rest of his life.
“Ranner. Look.” Aydriandorr snapped him out of his thoughts, pointing towards the large tower in the middle of the city square. It was a bright, white tower – with screens plastered upon all sides of it, displaying commercials, advertisements and other forms of media. Posters decorated the space beneath the screens, and they displayed mostly the same thing. Faces of the three commanders of the Regent Guard were hanging on flagpoles too – reminding the citizens who leads the defence of their colony. What Aydriandorr was pointing towards was the video of Helfdann in his officer’s garb, talking into the camera with much zeal.
“Serve The Regent, Serve your colony.” The words blared out, and soon the video faded into a commercial depicting a man slowly eating a hamburger. They had missed most of the advertisement, but those words lingered in their minds. “Huh. That’s nice, I guess.” Ranner replied as Aydriandorr shrugged, his blond hair moving along as well. He quite liked the boy’s hair – it was a shade of blondness, yes – but it was a bit darker than the usual hair that most Roylians boasted. Brownish? He could not put his finger on what the exact name of the colour was. “Well, that is how they maintain their army, I guess.” He smiled, and Ranner watched his face closely. He liked it when the boy smiled, yes, it was quite a sight to see – and he wished he would do it more without prompt. As he looked forward, both of them noticed that they were lacking behind the party they were accompanying, and soon hurried their pace towards their group – following the back of KYRA*GOA, who was standing next to Lyseia Sunsoar on her left and Daveonn Ralewoll on her right.
“Where did you two lads go?” Lord Haris Bavorn, commander of the Emperor’s Low Guard, spoke in his usual ragged tone. His voice was a deep and soothing one, with a hint of dryness at the back of it. Ranner had known Haris his entire life, from the day his mother gave him life to the current present. He remembered the times where Haris would defend him from other larger noblemen within the court – and one of the names of those children came to his mind almost immediately – that wretched Thyeos Cerevant gave him no quarter. Haris made sure he never touched Ranner again after a stern talk, in which the poor fool wet himself in front of his other friends and brothers. From that day forth, Theyos would be known as ‘Yellowbreeches’. The thought of it made Ranner giggle. “If you two went missing in this realm ungoverned by the two empires, what would I tell your imperial fathers?”. They continued to stroll down the pathway, and soon they came to a stop near a fountain, spouting clear blue water into the air – with three giant statues of the commanders placed in the middle. They were made of marble, and he knew only one place where artisans sculpted with marble – Roylia. “Hey, that’s the work of one of my kind.” Aydriandorr looked on with pride.
Ranner tilted his head at his companion. “Huh. Cool.” Was all he said as both of them walked to sit on a bench, in front of the three adults that were only in front of them moments ago. “So, tell me something – red general, these advertisements and statues… do they serve a purpose or are they here just to stroke your ego? Literally everyone we walked past stared at you in reverence, and some of them ran to you for autographs. Hell, even Sken got requests too, why is this?” Daveonn asked as they stood near the fountain. Bright blue lights shone down, and it almost looked like there was a sun in the sky. “It’s a mix of both really – but it’s a good tool for getting the colonists to join the army.” KYRA*GOA replied, watching a large pigeon land on the rings of the fountain. Lyseia walked over to the ring to pet the pigeon, but the bird rejected her advances, flying off as soon as she got close. “A pigeon. Haven’t seen one of these since my trip to Roylia, eight years ago.” She said to Daveonn and Kyra as he turned around.
“You could ask Sken for one. He breeds birds in his spare time. God knows how many pigeons he has in his bird farm.” The Vanguard Commander chuckled, as Sken nodded. “What the Vanguard Commander says is correct. I currently have forty four pigeons in my cages, and 54% of them were imported from Roylia. Rest were from planets such as Pyern.”
As the lady, knight and woman-general conversed, Ranner could feel the watchful eye of Haris behind his back. The man did not trust anyone here, and he could tell that the giant man was uneasy that the blood of the Emperor – his sons and daughter, were so close to other beings with weapons that could kill in an instant. Guns, swords, spears, bows… anything would easily kill a prince in his royal garb, regardless of how sharp that weapon would be. Ranner moved his hands to feel the dagger in his belt, and felt somewhat relieved that at least he would have something to defend himself with, should anyone come to him with danger in hand. Aydriandorr… on the other hand… queer gods the Roylians have. They embrace death, for it brings them closer to their gods… he wondered if the Roylians would gladly be assassinated by people who wanted them dead. Did the kings or emperors of Roylia gladly let themselves be killed? The Heartonian Prince could not find an answer, he was too young to understand these things. “Oh, Iron One, grant me knowledge as I grow older. I wish to learn the ways of the world.” He thought to himself, feeling the small iron pendant with the likeness of the Iron One etched upon it in his hand. It usually was pinned upon his left breast on his chest, but this time – he wanted to feel it.
Aydriandorr, who had been quiet the whole time since he sat upon the wooden bench, simply stared at the large spouts of water coming out from the fountain. He wondered what the Roylian Prince thought about. After a few more moments of silence and the voices of KYRA*GOA, Lord Ralewoll and Lady Sunsoar filling their ears – he finally spoke up. “Where are your other siblings?” He turned his head right to look at Ranner. Their eyes met for awhile.
“Hm. Cameyr is still training. Myseia is trying to find a lord to marry, most likely,” Ranner thought out loud. He was joking though – Myseia hated the idea of marriage, but she liked to mingle with knights, squires and boys. Why she liked to do that, he had no idea. “And my oldest brother, Sir Masen Gorwallian-Corwall, wanted to find a squire for himself. He’s probably going through the kids, or watching the squire’s melee as we speak.”
“Lords, ladies, knights. I would go crazy if I heard those terms everyday. I do not know how you Heartonians do it.”
“Remembering the name of every house… every lord… every knight and every squire. It confuses me so. All we Roylians have are our dyansties, and our surnames. That is all – no other titles other than Jarls, Daigarr and Daizarr.” The Roylian Prince replied, drumming his fingers upon his lap.
“Well, it comes naturally to me – I guess. It is hard not to remember houses when you hear them all the time in court. There was a time where I did not even know the name of my own house, and my imperial father made me pay for that. Sat me down with seven tutors for over a year. Now I know almost every house, minor or high – and that cannot be said for my other siblings.” Ranner shoved the iron pendant he held back into his pockets, and looked up into the steel ceiling above him. It almost looked like the sky with the bright lights shining down, but alas – he knew that it was not. “Something amiss, my prince?” Haris asked as he moved forward, wondering what Ranner was looking at.
“No. Nothing. Just observing.”
Haris nodded, and moved back to where he was standing – behind the bench and upon false grass. The radio built into his armour suit was making noises, and Haris was whispering back into the radio every now and then. “Status updates from the other Low Guards watching over my kin, most likely.” He wondered how the Heartonians in the older ages even managed to protect one another without the communication devices they had today. “Oh. I wondered why your guard was pressing his two fingers against the neck of his armour every now and then. Our Haginvegorr do not usually do that.”
“Yeah, probably because the Haginvegorr are always in groups of seven or more. Where are your guards though?” Ranner looked around him, through the trees near the fountain, in the cafes and through the shops. All he saw were colonists enjoying themselves, advertisements of KYRA*GOA holding a red sword strung in windows and an ice-cream truck driving by. Maybe they were hiding, with sniper rifles in hand? Or maybe they were somewhere close, their axes ready to plunge into any assassin. Aydriandorr shook his head. “Mine are stationed upon my ship. I did not ask for them to accompany me, for they do that every other place I go. I guess they know how safe Nildernn is, huh?”
KYRA*GOA soon moved forward towards the two boys on the bench, her arms crossed as she looked at them. “You two princes wanna get some ice-cream?” She asked. She did not need to refer to them by their royal titles as Nildernn was not under imperial authority of Roylia or Heartonia – and yet they are being protected by the Roylian Empire. Politics was a complicated thing to Ranner. Aydriandorr looked to Ranner, and Ranner nodded. Aydriandorr nodded too, and soon they were upon their feet, following the backs of the three adults again. Haris followed at the very back, eyeing any colonist that walked past the two princes.
When they reached the shopfront, the owner of it jumped out of his seat. He had been reading a newspaper, and now it was upon the ground, being trampled by his shoes. “Ah… ah! Lord… I mean, Vanguard Commander!” He said in nervousness, offering an equally nervous salute as well. “How can I serve you on this day?”
“Three mint chocolate chip ice-creams should serve me quite well,” KYRA*GOA said, before turning her head over her shoulder. “What do you two want?”
“Chocolate chip.” Aydriandorr said without hesitation.
“Erm. Chocolate chip too, I guess.” Ranner said with a break in his voice. Aydrian giggled at that.
“What about you, big guard man?” KYRA*GOA asked Haris, who simply stared at her.
“I do not require dessert.”
“I’m ordering you to eat ice-cream, Lord Haris.” Ranner stated. Haris sighed, and nodded. “I will take whatever the prince is having.”
KYRA*GOA smirked at that, before turning back to the ice-cream shopfront’s owner. “Three mints, and three chocolates.”
“Right away!” The shopkeeper grabbed a scoop and six cones of brown biscuit. The ice creams soon arrived, and Ranner found himself taking big bites of chocolate cream. It was sweet, and somewhat crunchy too, but it was the typical ice-cream that he had enjoyed as a youth. His father forbid him from eating anymore though, for he was growing in size and weight as a result of his obsession of this sweetened snack. This was his first time eating it in years, he figured. Well, that was a lie – he did have some during his knighting feast, but… he could not recall the taste or what he even ate.
“Well, the ice cream is fine, I guess.” Lyseia Sunsoar stated as the ice cream melted slowly, droplets running down the cone and onto the armoured gauntlet she wore. Daveonn agreed with that statement with a very fast bite, eating the entire ice-cream alongside cone in one mouthful. “But still, it is good, yes?” KYRA*GOA asked, in which the lady knight nodded.
After the dessert break, the entire party moved towards the lake near the fountain. It was a large, sprawling body of water with its contents as blue as a stone of sapphire. Colonists swam and played in the artificial sands, looking quite happy. Some were discussing trade and business on tables and chairs in the cafe that stood above the false lake-beach, and others simply drank cocktails and wines as they celebrated their own events. The place looked quite serene and peaceful, and the Heartonian liked that. “So you are a knight, right?” KYRA*GOA asked Ranner as the entire party took seats near a table and bench, resembling a wooden feasting table. Haris took his usual spot behind all of them, watching for threats. “Not yet, but soon. My father has promised me a knighthood soon, if I can prove myself worthy to be called a ‘Sir’. The Grey Prince – they call me, for my armour is of a grey tint and the helm that I wear bears the mark of the Grey One.” He proudly explained. “I do know another knight of grey though.” Daveonn replied, eyeing KYRA*GOA. She smiled. “Oh yes, Ymerrdann. The Grey Knight. Have you met him, prince?”
“No, I am afraid not. He sounds quite honourable though.” Ranner replied. “A Vasexon name. That’s new. So we have a Vasexon knight sailing through the stars?” Aydriandorr inquired.
“Yep. Weird fellow. He is the son of Helfdann, that grumpy old guy you saw earlier. Rumor has it that his son left the poor fool because he was too restrictive and grumpy all the time. Others say Helfdann does not talk much about him for he fears that The Regent will know about his family. I prefer the first theory, who would fear The Regent?” KYRA*GOA said, in almost a hushed tone as her hands rubbed together from the cold she was feeling. “Probably people who have done bad things. The colonists fear the town’s watch in cities because they have the literal authority to kill anyone that does bad, although the Emperor tries to restrict this from happening nowadays.” The Princess of Light pondered.
The sounds of spaceships leaving orbit and entering it were quite prominent from where they were sitting. Through a small window in the ceiling, they could spot two or three spaceships hovering the orbit of the planet Nildernn, massive – giant ships that could probably level the entire colony if they wanted to. It would have to punch through the orbital shields and defenses first, but that would be easy enough. From the looks of it, the ships were painted in Roylian colours – dark red upon a soft red upon some hints of gold.
They would spend the rest of the day on this bench, and by the time they left – night upon the planet was falling. The sounds of a blizzard could be heard pounding against the steel walls of the structures that they were currently in, and the nobles were dispersing from the Regent Tower to sleep in the nicer places they were assigned to lay their heads down upon. Ranner had the luxury of sleeping within a quarter inside the Regent Tower, as did his siblings and perhaps the Roylians. He was unsure about Lyseia or Daveonn, though – they would probably have to sleep in one of the hotels nearby, or perhaps some other place that The Regent had assigned to them.
“Well, time for me to go, I guess.” Daveonn yawned, standing up from his seat and taking his leave. He took a quick bow, kissed the Lady Lyseia on her cheek and tried to do the same to KYRA*GOA – only for her to punch his nose as he got close. He left the area with an injured face. Lady Lyseia left soon as well, claiming she was tired with yawns as well. KYRA*GOA led the two princes and Lord Haris back to the tower, conversing with one another.
“Today was fun, was it not?” KYRA*GOA prompted. The Roylian and Heartonian princes nodded, before turning their heads to each other. “Yeah. It was fun to be around another prince of my age,” The Roylian one stated out loud as the boy next to him felt his cheeks flare up slightly. “Huh, someone who enjoys my company. A rarity.” Ranner joked. “Pfft, the girls at your court would probably give their maidenhood up just to sleep with you, don’t pretend no-one wants to talk to you.” Aydrian gave a wicked grin.
“I do not converse with ladies that much, mind you. Only ladies I speak to frequently are the daughters of High Lord Traves Cerevant, who are quite nice girls – if they would not try to have romantic advances against me every second.”
“Well, that’s funny. I guess the rule does not apply to guys?”
“Nevermind, you’re too dull to get it.” Aydriandorr punched the prince in the shoulder.
What did he mean by that? Ranner wondered.
And they went back into the tower, to rest and perhaps feast the next day.
Author’s Note: Finished this somewhere on the earlier months of March. The last POV, from Prince Ranner’s view, was where I finally started to grasp on my writing style, and every short story written after this is in third person limited rather than third person unlimited.