Hey-o guys! I happened to come across a story I was working on a long time ago, and thought I'd share it with you guys and get some opinions on it. Chapter 1: Forging Ahead The sun’s light shines on the still water pond, ripples gently erase the glassy look as the lone black shaded Denby leaned down to get a drink from its waters. Humming soft tunes as she dipped her head into the water to clean the dark red stains. Pulling her head out of the water, flicking her hair back as it glistened in the sun. She shakes her head slowly, the excess water running off her face, Ryneil looked around, taking in the surroundings of the pond and the clearing. Here, she decided to make her new home. Walking along the water’s edge, she found a lone tree off from the rest of the forest. The trunk’s base was larger than most normal trees; the bark had a rough, yet stubble feel to it as she ran her hand along it. Sudden memories of her past rush into her mind. The sirens wailing had broken the silence of the lab. The mechanical voice boomed over the PA system. “Code yellow: Biohazard on deck C, level 10! Repeat! Biohazard on deck C, level 10! This is not a drill! The subject is experiment a3105! She is not to be harmed! Repeat! She is not be harmed! Subdue her at all costs!” Spotlights and security squads flood the cargo holding area heading to deck C of the lab. The sound of gunshots, grinding metal, dark howls and screams of agony echo. The power begins to surge; guards surround the large metal double doors of the cargo elevator. Tension among the guards begin to rise as silence replaces the sounds of agony as the elevator slowly comes to a grinding halt. The large metal doors slide open with a thunderous roar, followed by the cage door to the lift. The stench of death reeked through the cold cage. Flesh and guts were smeared and hanging from large holes in the wiring of the steel mesh as if something had pulled the bodies out through the cage. The sound of guns cocking echoed like the sound of hail beating against a tin roof, the frantic guards look into the cage; hesitating for a moment before entering to look around, only to be met with several pairs of hungry, white eyes staring at them through the cage. With the sound of a fish jumping out of the pond did Ryneil realize where she was, gazing into the water at her newly pale white and slit-eyes. Out of shock, she quickly rubbed her eyes and splashed water over her face again. Her eyes slowly fade back into the deep blue they once were. Taking in a deep breath, Ryneil rises to her feet, standing about a foot taller than an average human does. She towers over most creatures she has met in her travels including several other genetically enhanced beings like her. Her long, black, sleek leather-like tail reaches down to retrieve her black duster from the water’s edge. In the corner of Ryneil’s eye, she catches movement on the far end of the pond. Choosing to ignore it, she begins to walk to the trees nearest to her. Ryneil leans down to pick up her scabbard and sword. With a gentle “hup!” she tosses the strap over her shoulder, securing the guard onto her back. Ryneil then moves into stance in front of a large oak tree. Lifting the sword with both hands in front of her, she takes in a deep breath; the leather on the hilt scrunches as she tightens her grip. Ryneil lifts the blade up over her head at a sharp angle to the right then takes a fierce swing as she exhales with a “ha!” at the tree; it topples over with a clean cut. Ryneil looks over the tree with a nod of acknowledgement thinking that the tree will make a good support for her shelter. Once she removed the branches and cutting the top off, she precedes to take down several more trees of the same type and size. After Ryneil had cut and limbed several trees, she decides to rest again; the sun was now high in the sky and the wind had all but vanished. Ryneil looks around to see what she had done. She nods and smile, content with the number of logs she now had. Ryneil takes a seat on one of the logs, placing her sword down against the log as well, taking in a deep breath. A scent crosses Ryneil’s nose, her ears perk and flick to try to pick up any noise. With a low growl, she takes her sword with one arm making a wild horizontal swing at a tree. The blade stops halfway through as it lodges in place. A loud thud rings as something attempted to scamper away. Ryneil growls loudly as she bares her teeth and charges in the direction of the thud to find a white humanoid bunny cowering and holding its foot. She looks to the creature with a blood-lust stare, pulling a dagger from the inside pocket of her duster, Ryneil climbs over the bunny with the dagger to its throat. “You better speak, and fast. Who are you, and what are you doing sneaking up on me?” The white bunny looked up to Ryneil struck with fear and slight awe. It began to quiver nervously eyeing the tall, cloaked figure standing over him. Making a huge gulp, the bunny tripped over its words as he tried not to provoke this menacing being. "I’m Ki-Kiro...I l-live in a burrow on t-the far side of the p-pond, please don’t kill me... I g-got curious when I saw you.” Kiro's voice and look provided that it was male. Ryneil pulled the blade closer to Kiro’s neck. She glares at him for a moment, looking over the bunny’s form. Ryneil pulls the dagger away and back into its pocket after confirming it was unarmed. Kiro holds his paws to his throat as he sits up slowly, looking up at the tall female figure with fear, yet in some sense, respect. Kiro speaks up, his voice trembles. “Y-you’re from one of the human areas aren’t you?” Ryneil’s eyebrow rises slightly in surprise, “Oh gods don’t kill me! I’m sorry!” He squeaks out as he cowers up against one the trees. He opens one eye, only to see Ryneil knelt down slightly. “How did you know where I’m from?” Ryneil replies calmly, her presence had instantly changed, making Kiro a bit more relaxed, but still jumpy to the stranger. “Y-you have an abnormal scent…” With a gentle chuckle, she offers him her hand. Kiro pauses for a moment in hesitation, having mixed emotions about his situation, from almost becoming bunny soup, to an offered, gentle hand to help him stand. Kiro reaches his paw back up grasping onto her hand, Ryneil grips back, and almost effortlessly she pulls him to his feet. “Th-thank-you…I think.” Kiro squeaks out softly, looking away slightly in an attempt not to look directly into Ryneil's eyes. She chuckles softly again, brushing off some twigs from Kiro’s back. He smiles nervously. “I’m sorry about that. I normally don’t take kind to anyone sneaking up on me, since I've had few attempts at my life before.” Ryneil replies to Kiro, she turns away from him after she finished brushing Kiro's back. “Although I’m not sure why I'm telling this to you, seeing as my past is none of your concern.” Kiro smiles to Ryneil, his face a little warmer and more relaxed. “D-don’t worry, Miss. I won't tell anyone about you... there is no one to tell. It's only you and I out here in the wilds to my knowledge... I think” Ryneil looks to Kiro, tilting her head a little, as she replies. “You mean that we are the only ones here, just the two of us?” Ryneil pauses for a moment and looks around the field. “Such a beautiful sight to see and no one to enjoy it...” Kiro chuckles a little at the stranger. Ryneil flusters a little, “W-what? What’s so funny?” The bunny pointed off to the south. “Everyone moved to the trading city of Tee-Grand to the south once they heard humans were in the area.” Kiro lowers his hand and scratches behind his head. “Well, anyone who is like us that is. The humans have made camp just up the side of the mountain to the west... I think.” Ryneil gazes towards the south at the mention of Tee-grand, a curious expression crawls upon her face, then to the west towards the mountains. Kiro looks over the Denby, most of her figure covered by the duster she wore. He noticed that the duster was worn and had a few holes in it, as well that it was looking rather dusty. “Why would people move to the village instead of staying here? I mean, it's only humans.” Ryneil suddenly asked, startling Kiro. He replies nervously “W-well… the humans had been rumored to be abducting people and taking them to the labs...I think. It been said that they took them to the labs to the north since it’s the closest of the twelve facilities.” Ryneil nods and turns her gaze to the north. “Is that where you came from?” Kiro asks, yet Ryneil remains silent. Kiro fidgets a little, now feeling awkward as he looks around, trying to find a way to break the silence. Just as Kiro is about to say something, Ryneil takes a few steps toward a log. “I... I don't remember where I came from.” Ryneil speaks out softly as she leans down, propping the log onto her shoulder. Kiro’s eyes widen and jaw drops as Ryneil stands with the massive log on her shoulder, thinking to himself and making a mental note not to get on this woman's bad side. Just as Ryneil begins to head toward the pond, she pauses speaks up. “I would be grateful if you can show me to the village tomorrow. I need to pick up supplies, along with finding a blacksmith.” Kiro looks to Ryneil as she begins walking again. “Although it is rather sudden, I don’t see the harm in it… seeing as you spared my life…” Both Kiro and Ryneil chuckle softly at that note. Perhaps this will be an interesting start to her new life thought Ryneil as a cool breeze sets in. As the sun had slowly tucked itself under the far-line of the horizon, Ryneil decided to stop for the day. Kiro had left a few hours prior to sunset. He had said he needed to gather a few things for the trip to town. Grabbing the last log that Ryneil finished cleaning, she headed back to the tree nearest to the pond. The grass field; now trampled from much of the day, looked like it had been a normal, well-used walking path. Ryneil now reaching the tree, placing the last log of the day unto the pile of other logs she had carried out, with her usual “hup!” she tosses the log off of her shoulder, the log making an echo throughout the valley as wood met wood. Letting out a huge sigh of relief, Ryneil crouches down before flopping onto the grass, sprawling her arms and legs out in relaxation. She closes her eyes as the music of life begins to settle in; bugs buzzing, the sounds of the babbling brook and the rare owl hoot as night began to settle in. Thinking to herself, Ryneil ponders what the trip to Tee-Grand will be like, who will be there? Maybe someone she knows she thought, shrugging off the idea almost instantly as she knew the chances where next-to-none although the name of the town sounded rather familiar to her. Ryneil pondered why the other folk had run away from the area, and what happened to the houses. Perhaps it had something to do with the humans. Alternatively, maybe the villagers had taken down the houses, relocated, and used the wood to remake their homes. It all had just raised Ryneil's attention for more information like a drug, perhaps she will ask the villagers tomorrow once they reach the village. Nevertheless, as her mind raced with questions and the possible answers, they soon quickly fade, replaced with the emptiness of sleep. A constant beeping sound echoes throughout Ryneil’s head, bubbles and muffled breathing sounds ring throughout her head as well. She suddenly twitches and cringes as sharp pains come and go. A female voice chimes in as the humming of what seemed to be an electric door slides open. “Put the dosage up 50mgs and change over to the blue serum from red. The higher-ups want better and more results then the last test subject.” Who are these people? Whom are they speaking of? Why do I feel convulsive pain and ecstasy? Are the thoughts running through the mind of Ryneil as the voice of a man inquires in reply, “But why? The risks we take now are high as is; exposing the subject to a stronger serum will make her more volatile and run the chance of making its mind degenerate into a primal, unstable state. The last thing we want is she to go berserk. We would need to put her down as well and then waste another valuable test subject. We all know what happened to the last subject when we did this.” “Yes! We all know what happened last time, Kyle!” Snapped the woman, “But right now we don’t have much say in the matter, the higher-ups want it done, so just do it. They’re the ones who are signing our pay-checks, so don’t question authority.” The man groaned a little. “Yes Cait... just... just don’t tell anyone what I said... I might lose out on this month’s salary and I have enough money issues as is.” They both bicker on as the man proceeds as instructed. Ryneil opens her eyes slowly; her vision blurred slightly from a green liquid. She notices that an oxygen mask covers her muzzle. She gazes around in confusion, getting a glance at the two people as the man injects a large syringe of blue liquid into a tube; another jolt of sharp pain shoots through Ryneil’s body like hot, jagged daggers. She now turns her full attention to herself as she notices tubes and other wires attached to her arms and legs. What's happening to me? It hurts, thought Ryneil. After a few short moments, she begins to tremble. Her mind starts to race, the beeping in her head becoming louder and faster, her heart rate speeds-up. Panic sets in, more daggers of pain pierce into her and agony shoots throughout her body as she began to thrash and kick wildly, gasping and making attempts to hit her container. A strong lust consumes Ryneil; she wants to feed that lust; the thrill of the hunt, to kill. Her vision fades in and out, as the two panicking people outside the container begin to yell instructions at each other, typing feverously into computers. The man yells at the woman to go and get help. Ryneil’s vision completely fails as the woman runs through a set of doors. The loud crash of glass thunders as screams follow. The feeling of bloodlust and anxiety over-take Ryneil. She jumps and rolls over, gasping and panting for air. Awake, she looks over herself, rubbing her arms then legs feeling for something that shouldn't be there. Shaken, Ryneil creeps to the water’s edge, gazing into the smooth, pristine glass. A set of glowing, white eyes stare back at here once again. Unable to comprehend and coop with her own reflection, Ryneil becomes furious, shaking even more as she smashes at the glass reflection with both hands. The cool liquid lashing back in anger as ripples spread across the pond. “What's wrong with me?!” Ryneil cries out into the now silent night, the pale bright moon giving no comfort to her as she makes her way back to the lone tree. Leaning against it as she curls up, shivering and shaking as she silently cries to herself, wishing everything would just end. Ryneil’s eyes become heavy once again, the tears dry up and Ryneil finds herself drifting back into restless, dreamless sleep. Chapter 2 – Tee-Grand Dawn rolls over the hills as the morning choir of birds wake Ryneil. With a groan and a stretch, the Denby makes her way to the water’s edge. Cupping a handful of water, she splashes her face, giving a few scrubs along her muzzle and eyelids. Ryneil gazes at her reflection as the water settles back into its glass shape; moments of her dream come back to haunt her. She slashes at the water in anger with her right hand. Making a quick turn and begins to swing her arm again in frustration, Ryneil stops mid swing looking at Kiro face to face. The smile in his face drains quickly as he drops his nap sack. “D-did I come at a bad time?” Kiro squeaks out. Ryneil quickly pulls her arm back as Kiro edges back away from Ryneil. “I-I’m sorry… I’ve been a bit jumpy since last night, some... something spooked me.” Kiro lets out a huge sigh of relief. “That’s fine... I think. It was kind of my own fault for not saying anything when I arrived... again.” Ryneil looks to Kiro with an apologetic expression, in which Kiro blushes a little, finding the expression rather cute. “It... its fine, I-I accept your apology.” Kiro looks away from Ryneil flustered. She looks to him with a confused expression. Kiro seizes a glimpse at her expression and turns even further away. “A-are you ready to depart soon?” Kiro squeaks out, rubbing the back of his head. Ryneil shakes her head, clearing her thoughts before replying, “Shortly, I need to retrieve my sword. I forgot it in the forest last night when I had finished my tasks for the day. It’s one of the main reasons I would like to go to Tee-Grand.” Kiro turns about to face Ryneil once again, a confused look now enveloped his face. “You need to find more than just a blacksmith and supplies?” Ryneil nods in response. “I would like to get a few maps as well.” Kiro now confused further inquires more, “What would you need those for? I’m certain you won’t need one of those for around here.” Ryneil chuckles and smiles a little, she walks toward, then past Kiro as her tail grabs her nap sack and pulls it up under her duster. Every few steps a gentle jingle rings through the air, fading little by little, as Ryneil disappears into the forest. Only the sound of morning birds ring in Kiro’s head for a few moments before the familiar jingle gradually becomes louder until Ryneil is visible once again. Kiro leans over and picks up his own nap sack, which he had dropped then jogged towards Ryneil. As he approached her, Kiro spoke up “We head south east from here for about an hour until we reach the roads, which we then follow to town. We should be there by high-noon, if the roads are clear of wild animals and bandits, then I'd wager about dusk... I think.” Ryneil nods and smiles, motioning Kiro to take the lead, “Then shall we?” Several hours had passed since Kiro and Ryneil had set out for Tee-Grand. The sun blazing down on the travelers as day shifted into evening, giving no rest from the heat even as the trees gave shade. “Oh gods it’s hot for this season... we should be there fairly soon... I think.” Kiro squeaked out with a few pants. Ryneil lightly panting as she just walked on, “Don’t you find it hot with that duster on, Miss?” Kiro asks in an attempt to make conversation. Ryneil remains silent for a few moments. “A little...” Ryneil pants out softly. “Why not take it off? I know I would never wear a duster in this heat.” Kiro replies wearily. “I wear it for personal reasons. But with this heat, I might an exception if we don’t reach the city soon.” Ryneil and Kiro walk around a long, drawn out bend in the road, a line of people and creatures stretch back from a set of wooden gates, a stone wall stretching far off the road in both directions and disappearing into the woods. “Oh hey, we’re finally here!” Exclaims Kiro, “But... I wonder why there is a line up at the gates. Something must have happened recently.” Ryneil shrugs as she walks ahead of Kiro as she speaks in almost a whisper, “It doesn’t have anything to do with us. Let’s try to keep our heads down so we don’t get dragged into anything that would slow us down.” Kiro picks up his pace as he tries to catch up with Ryneil. “H-hey, wait up, Miss!” The two reach the line at the gates. As the line grew closer to the gates a handful of people with horses and carts in tow approach from behind walking past everyone in line, “Open the gates, we have the last of the shipment, we need to get to Gallagher’s Keep before he has our heads.” Exclaimed one of the men, a pair of creatures who looked like Kiro; but much larger in stature, clad in amour approached the horses. They look through the carriages and a quick glimpse down the line of people before flagging for the gates to be open. As the small caravan enters through the gates Kiro runs up to the guards, “H-hey! What is the big idea, you make all of us wait out here but let those people through without waiting! What gives?!” One of the guards looks down at Kiro. “Dey 'ave important goods for da city’s Lord, dey holds more grounds den ya common rabble. Now I suggest ya get back in line before I 'ave ya trown into da lock-up, or be dragged away to da mines.” Barked the guard, Kiro quickly submits, sulks and wanders to the back of the line where Ryneil had stood silently. “H-hey, Miss, you’re not mad for being treated like this?” Ryneil shakes her head at Kiro and lets out a soft exhale. “I told you to behave; we are here for supplies and to leave. Nothing more, nothing less.” Kiro sulks once again in defeat. “I’m sorry, Miss. It won’t happen again, I promise.” Ryneil smiles lightly, the line moves up little by little. “Its fine just let me do any of the talking.” As the two, finally reach the gates, the guard motions for them to stop. The larger guard who had put Kiro in his place looks at Kiro then to Ryneil. “What business do ya have here travelers?” Booms up the other the guard, Kiro flinching a little and sulks. Ryneil looks to the guard and replies in a calm, low voice. “We are here for supplies, to see a blacksmith if there is one and a place to rest for the night.” The guard looks over Ryneil, “Got any weapons under that duster of yours, Miss? We just can’t go lettin' anyone with a dagger or somethin' of the sort into our little patch of ‘paradise’. Someone had an attempt at the Lord’s life recently.” Ryneil pulls out her sword from the sheath and points it at the guard, people gasp and back away in terror from her. The guard places his right hand on the hilt of his sword and takes stance, several other guards do the same. Ryneil speaks up again in the same calm voice. “I need this repaired, so if I can’t take it in myself, I want you or one of your fine guards to take it in for me.” The guard chuckles a little, easing off his stance before taking Ryneil’s blade by the hilt. “Ya got some guts girl, I like that. Welcome't Tee-Grand, I'll make sure ya sword makes it to Gallagher’s smithy, personally.” The guard looks to Kiro, then back to Ryneil. “Dis shrimp with ya?” She nods and remains silent. “Fine, he can enter, but keep 'em on a leash er somethin' next time huh?” Kiro’s face scrunches a little in anger. The guard laughs at Kiro and flags for the gates to open. Furious, Kiro follows behind Ryneil after handing her sword's guard to the gate guard as the gates close behind them. “How did you know they were going to let us in, Miss?” Kiro squeaks out hushed. “They didn't have any blood-lust, besides if it came down to it, I would have killed them all.” Ryneil replies non-Chantilly causing Kiro to chuckle nervously and slow his pace. “Ha...ha... y-you’re kidding right, Miss? Right?” Ryneil keeps on walking as Kiro comes to a complete stop. “Are you coming, Kiro? Or am I going to leave you behind?” Chimed Ryneil, Kiro darts to catch up with Ryneil as they walk through a second set of gates into the city. Ryneil pauses for a moment, looking around at the busy streets beyond the gates. The roads paved with stones, streetlights littered the main roads as people and creatures buzzed around from buildings and shopping stalls. “This is the bazaar. People come here to trade and sell here. On the other side of the bazaar, you got the residential area, and then you can cross the bridge over the river to grand hall which is just.” Kiro explains as the two moves further into the town. “You seem to know a lot about this place, Kiro.” Ryneil speaks out, Kiro nods with pride. “I’ve only been here a few times, but I have a decent memory...I think.” Ryneil chuckles a little at Kiro as she walks up to a stall selling rare fruits. After a few other trips to different stalls, Kiro taps Ryneil on the shoulder. “I thought we were going to look for supplies?” Ryneil pauses for a moment, and then looks at Kiro. “Hmm...that's right; I got a little side tracked...oddly.” Kiro chuckles a little and smiles. “That’s what being in a city is usually like; almost always something new that’ll catch your attention. It’s how shopkeepers make money.” Ryneil nods as her gaze draws around the market once again. “We should take a look at the smithy; I want to make sure my blade is well handled.” Kiro now a few feet away from Ryneil replies, “You can go ahead, the smithy is just down this street and is on the very end of the road, you can’t miss it...I think. I’m going to go ahead and look at the rates of the inns around town.” Ryneil nods to Kiro as she begins to head down the street. “Very well, meet me at the smithy once you have done looking around.” With that, Kiro disappears into a crowd. Weaving in and out of crowds of people and different stalls, Ryneil finally reaches the smithy. The smells of molten steel and hot iron permeate the air thickly as she draws closer and closer. In the corner of the shop, she spots a man working away at the finer parts of the craft, etching and designs into the blades and hilts of tools and weapons. “Good evening, lass! Welcome to Gallagher’s Smithy, are you here to buy, sell, or perhaps repair a tool or weapon?” Ryneil turns to face the sound of a man speaking to her off to the side-entrance of the smithy. “I’m here for repairs, the gate guards should have brought my blade here not too long ago, and it's a claymore...” Replied Ryneil, just cut off at the last of the sentence. “Of northern make and eastern mix on the hilt correct? Poor blade was in rough shape since the last I seen it.” Replied the man, Ryneil now gives the man a long, hard look, trying to makes heads or tails of him. He stood a foot taller than Ryneil, around the age of 50, built strong from head to toe, and had long blonde hair that was half-black from dirt and ash from working the forge. A scar crossed his face just under his eyes. “Now, Rye, I can’t believe you’ve actually forgotten little ol me!” Chuckled the man, Ryneil’s face lit up brightly as she drops her nap sack and wraps her arms tightly around the man, “Uncle Gallagher!” Cried out Ryneil, “I missed you so much! Where have you been all these years?” She asked now almost crying, the man hugs Ryneil back happily with a chuckle. “Shhh, calm down lass.” Gallagher whispered. “Not many people know who I really am, and I would prefer if it stayed that way, if you catch my drift.” He looks to Ryneil with a bright smile. “Nevertheless, where are my manners? Come lass, take a spell and relax. There is much to catch up on!” Ryneil sniffs a little, whipping away the few tears from her eyes. “Yes, Uncle, It has been far too long since we last spoke! I hope I can be of help again.” Replied Ryneil as she parted with the man. Gallagher places his hands on Ryneil’s shoulders. “Now lass, you’re here to rest, not to work! Come, inside the shop, I’ll put on the kittle.” Gallagher looks to the man in the corner. “Samuel, take a break! We have some company!” Chimes out the smith, “Yes, Master. Who is here?” Replied the man as stood up from his workbench; he stood half a foot taller than Ryneil. A rugged, sturdy looking man; blonde hair and blue-eyed like Gallagher, yet still charming in his own way, “It’s our little lass, Rye!” Replied Gallagher as both him and Ryneil approached. “Well now, there’s a strange face if I ever seen one. Welcome home Ryneil. Still carrying around that old claymore we made huh?” Chimed Samuel, Ryneil smiles brightly and bows to Samuel. “It is good to see you, Samuel. Yes, I have used it quite a few times in my travels...” Gallagher butts in as the conversation began to trail off. “Enough you two let us head inside and talk over some tea.” Both Ryneil and Samuel nod to one another as the trio head inside. The fire cracks in its stony home, the gentle smell of iron wafers in through the crack of the door as the trio walk into the dull-lit shop. The shop itself was rather spacious, thou a little cluttered; pieces of scrap iron, leather straps and other miscellaneous items along with various smiting and etching tools. “Welcome to our little shop, lass. It isn’t much, but it is one of the busiest shops in Lee-Grand during the day, so don’t mind the mess.” Gallagher pipes up, placing a kittle over the fireplace. He scrapes a few chairs across the stone floor towards a round, wooden, aged table. Holding a chair out for Ryneil as she lowers her duster's muffler, she accepts the offer and sits down into the chair; Gallagher slowly pushes the chair into place. “Thank-you, Uncle but there is no need to be so humble; we’ve known each other well enough.” Replies Ryneil, smiling to Gallagher, “That we do, lass, that we do, So tell me, what brings you to Tee-Grand, and to have the gate guard to take ‘your’ claymore away to boot?” Gallagher asks as he grabs a few cups and bags of tea from a cupboard; Samuel taking a seat to the right of Ryneil. “Well, Uncle I had been traveling around for a few seasons now and had decided that I want a place of my own to call home. I had found a nice clearing; without much trouble, next to a pond in the mountains where I would like to build a home.” Replied Ryneil, she looks out the small window that looked down the main street from where she and Kiro had parted ways. “I came here with someone in order to get building supplies and to have my blade repaired... as you seen the shape it had fallen to.” Both Gallagher and Samuel chuckle, Samuel speaks up as Gallagher places the cups at the table fetches the kettle. “Aye, you certainly have worn that old blade in. What have you been using to for, if I may ask?” Ryneil chuckles a little nervously. “W-well...you see. I umm, kind of used it for...” Ryneil trails off as she mutters a few more words, something about animals and trees were the only words audible to the men as she kept muttering. “Speak up Rye, I didn’t quite hear you.” Prodded Samuel followed with a chuckle. Ryneil chuckles nervously again as Gallagher pours hot water into the cups and places the tea bags in them then placing the kittle down on the shop's counter before sitting across from Ryneil. “I... used it to hunt, break a few rocks when I was bored some nights... and cut down... rather large trees.” Ryneil finishes and flinches a little as both men burst out in laughter causing her to sulk some. “D-did I do something funny, Uncle? Samuel?” Both men continue to laugh for some time more, finally calming down a little, Gallagher manages to catch his breath. “Lass, you’re... you're one of a kind...” “Thankfully.” Added Samuel teasingly as Gallagher continues. “...You’ve been using the wrong tool for those jobs, Rye." Gallagher clears his throat, "Tell you what, tomorrow I’ll make you a few tools; free of charge IF you help around the shop. And put some clothes on lass, can’t have you selling wares next to starch naked.” Ryneil looks over her duster, sulking again and replies in a half whine, “Do I have to? I feel over-dressed as is... you know I do not like to wear ‘clothes’.” Gallagher nods as he points to an old, worn wardrobe in the corner of the room. “Your work clothes are in there. The crafting tools are in the bottom drawer, and Samuel will show you where everything else you need is tomorrow.” Several hours later, Ryneil settled away in the shop; becoming more familiar with the various tools; several in which she had never seen before, and work benches. She began to rummage through the closet Gallagher placed her old smiting clothes. As night arrived, Kiro was one of the things furthest from Ryneil's thoughts. Samuel showed Ryneil to the bedroom upstairs in the shop which was used for his old apprentices. "Gallagher will be staying in a different building, but he'll be here in the morning after a meeting with a few people." Samuel spoke up as he straightened away a few things that were out of place in the room. Ryneil nods as she sits on the bed which was tucked into the back corner. Samuel lit an oil lap and placed it on a nightstand next to the bed. "As well, the bath is down the hallway, next to the other spare room. I'll be in the room across from you. If you need anything, just ask." Samuel ended off with a smile and a small head-bow as he left the room. "Good-night, Ryneil.", "Good-night, Samuel." Replied Ryneil, as Samuel pulled the door to. Ryneil slips out of her duster, poking around the room curiously for several moments before slipping into the bed, dimming down the lantern and blowing it out. Busy at work, Ryneil had found her old knack with the smithing hammer and smelter. Her mind wanders into thoughts of the past when Gallagher and Samuel had thought her the tricks of the trade, becoming; once again, oblivious of her surroundings. "H-hey Miss! I finally found you!" These words flew over Ryneil's head as he continued to hammer away. Kiro walks up to her and taps on her should as he repeats, "Hey, Miss." Ryneil jerks back and drops the hot metal, swinging the hammer nearly hitting Kiro the face. Ryneil clamors as she attempts to recover from the fright. "I'm so sorry! I was lost in thought." Kiro rather shaken rubs his cheek lightly as he imagines if the hammer had actually hit him. "I-it's okay...I think. I do that sometimes myself, well I DID do that when other people were around." Ryneil places the hammer down on an anvil, leans over and picks up the piece of metal she was working on. She smacks it a few times against the anvil to knock off any dirt that might have gotten on it and places it into a small barrel full of water; the water hisses and steams as the hot metal penetrates into its surface. Ryneil wipes her brow then fixes her outfit, looking to Kiro with a curious look. "Where did you disappear to?" Inquires Ryneil, muttering under her breath that she had actually forgotten about him completely, "I... ran into a friend I haven't seen in a long time and helped them out..." With an even more curious look, Ryneil eyes over Kiro and takes a few sniffs. "You seem and smell like you had it rough last night... anything you want to tell me?" Kiro rubs his arm, fidgeting as he looks away from Ryneil a little. "W-well... not..." Kiro looks back to Ryneil, "W-why are you dressed like that? An-and working as well?" Ryneil gives a small head tilt as Kiro fires questions back, being oblivious to Kiro's nervousness. "Well, as it so happens to be, my uncle is the owner of this smithy. I didn't think he and Samuel lived here. It has been years since I last seen them. My uncle offered to help with supplies if I helped around the shop for today." The conversation went on as Ryneil told Kiro about the shop, and how she'd work as an apprentice to her uncle a few years back. Any questions Ryneil asked Kiro about what he had been up to were only answered with more questions about her. A voice chimes out from what seemed to be behind the shop. "Ryneil, I need you to stop what you're doing, lass and give me a hand here please!" Ryneil looks to Kiro, the imaginary light bulb clicks in her head. "Hey! Come out back with me and meet my uncle!" She blurted out excitedly, leaving Kiro dumbfounded. He hadn't seen Ryneil show this kind of emotion since he has met her; she mostly showed little care about most other people’s lives, little alone be excited about someone. This hooks Kiro curiously as to who and why she was this excited. He nodded to her, in turn she lead the way behind the shop. "What was it you needed help with, Uncle?" Ryneil asks as the two approached the corner of the shop. Gallagher who had been back on, turned around with a grin on his face as he held out a well decorated, sleek greatsword. Ryneil's face lit up as she ran to Gallagher, hugging and kissing his cheek. "Oh Uncle Gallagher Thanks so much!" Gallagher smiled warmly and ruffled Ryneil's hair. "You're welcome, lass. I hope you take better care of it this time." He replied with a chuckle. Gallagher looks over to the corner where Kiro was standing with a smile. "Hello, sir. How may I help you today?" Kiro's face was filled with shock and awe, unable to speak as Ryneil butts in. "He's my travel companion I told you about last night, Uncle." Gallagher looks over Kiro, sizing him up with a chuckle. "How did a wee rabbit like yourself end up with a hard case like Ryneil?" Kiro still lost for words as Gallagher walks over to him, towering over Kiro with an intimidating stance. With a bellowing laugh, Gallagher ruffles Kiro's hair. "Relax, Mr. Rabbit you're more than welcome here. Any friend of Rye is a welcome guest here." Gallagher leans down and whispers. "Judging by the expression on your face you know who I man, so it'd be nice if you could keep this on the down-low." Kiro nods as he looks up at Gallagher. "Of-of course, sir, my lips are sealed." With that Ryneil takes her refurbished blade and places it into a new guard she had made with the help of Samuel earlier in the morning. Ryneil runs into the backdoor of the shop to store away her blade as Kiro and Gallagher talk about supplies, current events and other minor city affairs. The sun had begun to set; Ryneil enters through the front door of the shop, being greeted by only Gallagher as he was taking out two tea cups. "Good evening, lass. All finished are we?" Ryneil nods as she pulls off her smithing gown, placing it back into the wardrobe and slipping her old duster over herself. "Yes, Uncle, I fixed up the farming tools for Dan and smelted him the three sickle blades that he ordered. Samuel fitted them and stamped the blades with your trademark." Ryneil takes a seat at the table, Gallagher placing a cup in front of her and pouring in some water. "Good job, lass. With that and what I have done, the shop has caught up with this week's orders." Ryneil smiles as takes a tea bag from out of a small container on the table, dipping it in and out of her cup several times before taking a sip. "Well that's good news!" She takes a few quick glances out the window nearest the table and around the shop. "Where are Kiro and Samuel?" Ryneil asks, Gallagher placing the kittle down on the table as he sits down across from Ryneil. "I sent them on a few errands in the bazaar; the shop is running low on leather and drying salts." Ryneil nods, taking a sip of her tea as Gallagher continues, "So lass, what's with the rabbit friend, he your lover or something?" Ryneil spits up her tea and coughs. "W-what!?" She exclaims as Gallagher bursts into laughter, nearly doubling over in his seat, Ryneil rubs her muzzle over with her arm. "I-it's nothing like that, Uncle!" Gallagher attempts to recover composure but fails. "L-lass! Ha ha, just... Just... All gods!" He attempts to recover several times but fails to do so again. After several moments, Gallagher finally manages to calm down as Ryneil sits flustered. “A-alright, Lass I'm sorry about that, but the face you made was priceless. If Samuel only seen that look, he'd never let it down." Ryneil sighs softly, her face still flustered as she attempts to take another sip of her tea. "All jokes aside, why is that rabbit with you? You're the last person I'd expect to have travel company." Ryneil places her tea cup down and fixes her sitting position as she takes another gaze out the window almost as if to make sure Kiro was nowhere in ear shot. "As I told you before I met him in the field in the mountains, when I asked about the location he told me about the people that used to live there but ended up moving here, in which I asked him to show me the way here. Nothing more, nothing less." Ryneil attempts to recover her composer, Gallagher nods with a small chuckle. "If that's what you say, Lass." Gallagher moves to the main counter to fetch a rag and cleans up the spill Ryneil made. All seems quiet until Samuel barges into the door making a commotion. "Gallagher! Come quick, the guards have arrested Kiro!" Exclaims Samuel taking both Ryneil and Gallagher off guard, Ryneil almost spill her tea again. "C-calm down, Samuel! What happened exactly and where is Kiro now?" Replies Gallagher as he tosses his rag off to the side. "He's in the keep's prison, why he's there is out of my comprehension. The guards just came up to us, said he had something to do with a murder attempt and carried him away." Gallagher's expression grows grim as he becomes lost in thought, only to be broken. "Take me to where he is, Samuel. I want to know his side of the story." Samuel stops for a moment, he recalls the last time Ryneil made a rash decision and his face goes pale. "L-listen Ryneil... j-just calm down a moment and think this through... I know what you're thinking..." Gallagher cuts off Samuel with a sharp tone, "Keep that to yourself, Samuel! Now is neither the time nor the place to discuss that." Ryneil looks to both men with a questioning look, but she shrugs it off. "Will you or will you not take me to see him?" Samuel sighs in defeat and nods, in which Ryneil heads out through the door behind Samuel. Another hour slips by as what feels like an eternity to Kiro as he sits huddled in the corner of his small confinement cell. The only dim light comes from the small window in his cell door, the sound of distant, tormented screams echo like thunder in Kiro's head, he knew his time was growing closer. The scene of his arrest runs through his mind over and over, taunting him as he attempts to make heads and tails of his situation. Kiro's deep thoughts are interrupted by a sound that seemed alien to the other sounds; footsteps. The large iron door in which Kiro had been ushered through swings open with a loud grinding sound. Kiro's adjust to the light as it poured over him like a beam divine judgment. A commanding female voice echoes in Kiro's ears. "Get up, worm. You've got special visitors." Limply, Kiro gets to his feet; one hand against the stony wall for support. The first figure leaves his field of vision as it's replaced with two more, another voice pipes up; one slightly familiar. "Well, I came as fast as I could, I'm sorry if we made you wait too long." The voice was owned by Samuel, the second figured stood silent, thou a cold stare could be felt on his skin, and Kiro knew it was Ryneil. "I-it's okay... it's not like I was going anywhere anytime soon heh..." Kiro replies sarcastically, a wretched smile streaks his face. "Now now, sarcasm is un-becoming of you. We're here to talk to you about what's going on." Samuel pauses for a moment as Ryneil leaves Kiro's line of sight. "Follow us, we're going to talk in a little more comfortable place then here." Kiro nods as he approaches Samuel, his eyes now adjusted to the light. In his view the room he was in was very small, likely only enough room for one person to be stowed in until they were hauled away to a new-home. The hallway in which the four walked was long and narrow, lined off with some sort of floating crystals; held in place by small chains, which emitted light. The group reaches a flight of spiral stairs, after another few long minutes of ascending, they go through another heavy set of iron doors. In the preceding room, there lay a table and several chairs. Another familiar face is there as well; Gallagher who is dressed in a regal outfit, and none too pleased looking. The escorting guard takes her leave and waits outside a door adjacent to where the group came through. Kiro peers around the room for a moment; the room was rather plain and rather spacious excluding a single bookcase, the table and chairs. The lighting in the room is also thankful from more crystals. "Now lad, take a seat. We have a lot to discuss." Gallagher speaks, breaking the silence between the group. Gallagher seats on the far end of the table, in which Kiro sits at the respective end. Ryneil and Samuel sit on the other sides of the table. "I...I don't know where to begin..." Squeaks Kiro, his head leaned forward as he stares at his hands, Samuel is the first to reply. "Why not start with where you were yesterday and what you did." Kiro looks to the others, back to his hands and inhales slowly; he hesitates for a moment. "After I parted with the lady, I wondered the city asking shop keepers if they had seen someone I was looking for..." Kiro pauses for a moment, without saying a word Gallagher gives Kiro a serious questioning look, instinctively Kiro continues. "I was looking for a friend of mine who had moved here with the other from the mountain... well a group of them to be precise. We were all childhood friends and it pained me when they moved. The one who I was looking for was a girl named Ai... Ai Long-heart" Gallagher's face stiffens as Samuel cuts in. "Wait, Long-heart? You can't be serious, Kiro." Kiro looks to Gallagher and Samuel with a puzzled look, Ryneil cuts in coldly. "Your 'friend' Ai is a traitor and the one who the guards are looking for." Kiro's look becomes more puzzled. "W-why would they..." Kiro begins to ask but is cut off by Ryneil. "She's wanted for the attempted murder of my Uncle." The life drains from Kiro's face as he slumps in his chair, Ryneil presses on callously. "So this leads to the suspicion that you might have knowledge about it or the whereabouts of the traitor." Kiro looks up sharply and stands up from the table. "You of all people know that that's not possible! I was with you for the past few days!" Exclaims Kiro defiantly. Ryneil glares at him piercingly, causing Kiro to flinch and retreat back into his seat. Gallagher is the one to speak next. "As that may be, you're still unaccounted for yesterday, which is where you will continue to tell us where you went." Gallagher steers the conversation back on track as Ryneil continues to glare at Kiro. "Y-yes sir." Kiro clears his throat. "A-after visiting a few shops and stalls, my search was fruitless... it was late in the evening by the time I had decided to give up, so I went to the inn for a drink. There I sat a table by myself for what seemed like an hour when someone walked up to me. It was one of the people I was looking for. Naoto is his name; he was a good friend to me when I was younger..." Kiro goes on to describe Mike to the others and a part of his childhood. "Well... Naoto bought me a few more drinks and we talked into the night. Much of the conversation is a blur..." Kiro slumps a little, Samuel speaks up. "Sounds like you can't handle your mead." Gallagher gives a sharp look a Samuel in which he sighs and shrugs. "Sorry, I had to say something to lighten the mood, you know I can't take this serious atmosphere." Gallagher ignores Samuel's explanation and looks back to Kiro. "Is that everything lad? Remember, what you say here will decide your fate. If you withhold any information and are found guilty, you'll be put behind bars for a long time due to your own actions." Gallagher explains calmly in a father-like tone. A determined look strikes Kiro's face as he nods. "W-well, I do remember one particular part of a conversation, but it was in riddles. Naoto had said something about the world changing for the better and how the shadows will be cast back to the sea of red and the world will be as one. I thought he was just ranting like a drunken fool..." Samuel and Gallagher both close their eyes, losing themselves in thought. Ryneil is the first to speak. "He was talking about the coming of the winged savior." All eyes peer to Ryneil as she sighs softly as she looks to Gallagher and Samuel. "I'm surprised you two didn't think of that. After all, it was the both of you who taught me about the Algodan's and their teachings." Gallagher nods as he lets out a troubled sigh. "Yes... yes I remember them, a race of warriors who pride themselves in the actions of selflessness and strength. Devote the self for the whole, I believe was one of their teachings." Kiro looks to Gallagher with an even great look of confusion. "B-but what does that have to do with my situation?" Samuel is the one to but in. "The Algodan's have been rumored to be looking for strong warriors for their flock of followers. This only conjuncture, but what you said shines a new light on this." Everyone goes silent for a moment, but Gallagher is the one who seems to be the deepest into thought as if weighing the worth of the conversation. "So they intent to expand onto my land from the north..." Gallagher mutters to himself, he stands up from the table and opens the door in which the guard had exited. "Warden, by my order Kiro is hereby pardoned of his crimes. Make your due respects and escort him and my company to the grand hall." The warden is left speechless by the sudden command, she nods and turns to the group. "As you just heard, I will escort you all to the grand hall once I file away..." The warden pauses for a moment as if she forgot something. "Kiro's... release papers." All eyes shift to Kiro who is struck dumbfounded. His shoulders shake as if he were cold, his fists clenched. Tears begin to stroll down his face. Samuel walks over to Kiro and pats him on the back. "It's okay now lad, everything will be okay." Kiro wipes his face in his arm, a weak smile steaks his muzzle as he looks to Samuel with reddened eyes. "Y-yeah..." Ryneil stands silently by herself as she watches everything unfold. Quietly she heads toward the door in which the warden was still standing in, she speaks in a low tone. "I'm going on head of the group, I no longer have business here." The warden glares at Ryneil in which she replies in a low tone. "Listen, His Honor said to escort you ALL, and I intend to do so." Ryneil's eyes go cold as they narrow, her gaze pierces into the warden as if Ryneil was attacking her. "I. Will. Go. Alone." The warden backs away slowly, her face in shock as if she had just seen her life flash before her eyes. "Y-yes... madam." Ryneil walks past the warden and disappears down the hallway beyond. Samuel and Kiro walk up to warden, Samuel pats the warden on her shoulder in which causes her to jump a little. "Scary little girl, isn’t she?" Samuel speaks with a smirk as he takes a few steps outside the door with Kiro in tow. The voice is feint and shaken but is heard by both men. "I-it was like I had stared into the eyes of the Dreadlord himself...s-she's a monster..." Kiro looks back at the shaken warden with a worried look. What kind of look had Ryneil given the warden; whom seemed to be a fearless, coldhearted woman. Kiro shudders the idea as dark thoughts crept into his mind. Chapter 3 – Other Matters Kiro and Samuel wait outside a rather large set of doors inside the grand hall. The decor of the hall screamed royalty; armored suits lined the walls of this particular room, weapons and shields of a large variety adorn the walls for all to see, a long, sturdy looking table lined off with high-class looking chairs; perhaps of oak Kiro thought, as well as a bookshelf occupied the foremost wall where a more grand looking char sat. This must be a meeting or war room. A guard enters the room accompanied by Gallagher and a several faces Kiro had never seen before and in the back of the line of people, in walked a knight clad in what seemed to be ceremonial armor, in which it shines the purest of white in color, a long red cape hung from behind the knight; the knight is wearing a helm so Kiro wasn't sure he knew who this mysterious person is. With the knight as the last person to enter the room, the guard closes the door. Gallagher takes a seat in the grand chair as the flock of people takes seats along the table, the knight stands firmly next to Gallagher. Kiro and Samuel take a seat at the far end of the table. Gallagher's voice speaks up filled with confidence and authority. "I have called you all here to discuss important matters of which include the recent murder attempt." A few murmurs are hard at the word murder. "This meeting will decide the fate in of our homeland here. Jeffery if you please." An older man stands up, he looks to be of upper-class, but with a more refined look to him. "To those of you who don't know who I am, I am the Lord's steward, Jeffery. At the word Lord, Kiro's jaw mentally drops as his eyes widen. Lord?! Kiro eyes show slight panic and his body stiffens a little. Samuel notices Kiro and leans towards him and whispers. "Relax Kiro, Gallagher is still the Gallagher who you met at the shop... remember: Just don't let anyone know." Kiro nods, thou still stiff as he returns his gaze down the table at Jeffery. "It has come to our attention that the rumors of the Algodans have some merit and has come to light in recent events. With that said, Lord Gallagher has requested that the city's council be called upon the matter." Jeffery continues with his speech as the others are brought up to speed, about the murder attempt, about Kiro, and Gallagher's personal opinion on the matter. One of the council members speaks up. "Are we really going to go ahead and wage war against the Algodans? I say we proceed with caution and see what the other side will do." Gallagher shakes his head. "And what? Have another attempt at my life? We have no time to be cautious with we have learned." Another council member speaks up. "Yes, from what you have learned, but are this information really trusts worthy?" Gallagher nods at the question. "I have decided to cast my lot in with the lad and gamble on this information. If the Algodans are truly actively recruiting in our lands, it's only a matter of time before a revolt occurs with our homes and lives as collateral damage." Several members nod their heads in agreement with Gallagher while a few others shake their heads, agreeing with the opposing idea. The meeting continues on for another hour before a conclusion is in sight. Gallagher speaks up. "So it is agreed that we will decree Algodan is not trust worthy and send an appropriate message to the north?" All members nod and chime in with an agreement. "Then it is settled. Now as for the message I believe I have a solution." All members listen more now than they did during the earlier stage of the meeting. "I will send a military force to the north and take the keep of Isgrath. Does anyone object?" A few murmurs are heard again, one member chimes in. "How big of a force are we talking here, Lord?" Gallagher's becomes etched with a dark smirk as he leans forward. "One person." The meeting hall breaks into angry chatter as the members all hound Gallagher. "Are you mad, Lord? What can one person do to a keep?!" Gallagher's expression doesn't weaver leaving the council members worried. "I will be sending my right hand knight. I'm sure you've all heard of her exploits in claiming this land for ourselves?" The chatters die down to murmurs again. "You can't be serious, Lord. Sending Scarlet will end with Isgrath destroyed!" Gallagher chuckles as he nods. "That's the plan; obliterate the resistance with a single knight as a warning of our strength and abilities." The hall fills with questions as the meeting drags on. Kiro leans toward Samuel who had sat quietly throughout the meeting. "H-hey, Samuel, who is this Scarlet?" Samuel lets out a low, amused chuckle as he inclines his head to the knight standing next to Gallagher. "That's her there. You've met her before as well lad." Kiro eyes the knight for a few moments before responding. "I don't remember meeting any knights, or even seen any around here as a matter of fact." Samuel lets out another amused chuckle. "All of the city guards are considered knights, thou they lack in experience for the most part. But as for Scarlet, she's considered the savoir of these parts, she helped claim these lands from the iron grip of a tyrant, we know her as Ryneil... the one who you've traveled here with." Kiro's eyes widen as he gazes back at the knight. "A-are you sure? That's the lady?" Samuel nods. "So her name is Ryneil..." Samuel looks to Kiro with a puzzled look. "You mean you didn't know her name? I thought you knew her since you two were traveling together." Kiro looks back to Samuel and shakes his head. "Thou we have traveled together, it was only a short trip and we never got to talk much about each other..." Samuel nods at that with a gentle sigh. "That's Ryneil for you. She keeps other at a distance, which makes her come off cold to others, but there's a reason to that." Samuel pauses for a moment and hushes his voice a little more. "She keeps her distance because she's afraid to lose anyone close to her." At the last of the sentence, both men look down the table, the feeling of a cold glare is felt on their skin. "That hearing of hers is scary..." Samuel mutters under his breath. Kiro lets out a soft chuckle. The meeting draws to close as a quick review of what was talked about is stated by Jeffery. Everyone around the table excluding Samuel, Gallagher and Kiro stand and take their leave. Gallagher beckons both men, Gallagher speaks up as both men reach the end of the table. "So, now that business is taken care of, I want to thank you both for joining this meeting, if you have any questions; which I'm sure you do..." Gallagher looks to Kiro who has a question mark almost painted on his face. "...and I'll gladly answer to the best of my ability." Kiro nods, taking in a deep breath as he takes a few moments to collect his thoughts. "My first question is why we joined this meeting." Gallagher looks to Kiro as if he anticipated this question. "My reason is rather simple. When presenting evidence its best to have the third party present, it makes it all the more convincing to the council in this case. But I'm sure that's not your biggest curiosity here now, is it lad?" Gallagher read Kiro like an open book as Kiro nods. "I'm sure Samuel told you that Scarlet here is actually Ryneil, the atmosphere up here felt rather cold for a moment." Samuel gives a weary smile as he rubs the back of his head, the gentle sound of metal clapping is heard as Ryneil removes her helmet; her ears spring back out into their natural position, she ruffles her hair as she lets out a sigh of relief. "Can I take off this armor now? I feel over-dressed again..." Gallagher laughs a little but shakes his head. "Sorry, Lass but not yet. That armor is what you'll wear into battle again, so you should get comfortable with it. Plus you know why it's that armor." Ryneil's face distorts as another sigh escapes through her nose, clearly displeased with the situation. Kiro is left rather dumbfounded at Ryneil's change in attitudes, not sure if this is how she is normally. "U-umm... miss, I mean Ryneil. Are you really going to fight? I mean... this is rather sudden." Ryneil perks up for a moment being called by her name. "You know... that's the first time you called me by name, Kiro." Ryneil replies. "That's because you haven't told me your name yet... Samuel told me." Kiro replies, a small hint of irritation is felt in his words. "Well I suppose so... come to think of it." At that, Kiro sighs, sagging his shoulders in defeat. Not much in fighting at this time he thought. The mood was rather casual before times of war, perhaps it was the calm before the storm. Several days have passed, the council had publicly announced the news of war. Rumors have been whispered throughout the hold that the King had gone crazy. War with the Algodans meant the end to the peace between two factions; thou it came as no surprise to others who had kept up to date with the times and the uneasy tension between the two factions as of late. To calm the masses, Gallagher had arranged a festival the night before the opening battle. Droves of people swarmed the Grand Hall as song, drink and food were shared merrily. Times seemed bright and the people's hearts were soon seethed as Gallagher gave a hearty speech during the feast, toasting to the soldiers and the townsfolk. Samuel and Kiro were treated as honored guests of the feast thanks to Gallagher; people from all over the village gave their hellos and chatted with the two as the night went on. At the corner of room, Ryneil sat to a table with a few guards, talking about possible training once she got back from the frontlines. Most of the older guards knew Ryneil from the Liberation battle and revered her. The newer guards and most villagers; seeing her as a cold, strict figure not knowing how she really acts, knew nothing about the battle and avoided her during the feast. As the night winds down to a closing, Ryneil is one of the first few to leave the party. Kiro attempts to follow but loses site of her in the masses. Kiro sighs and heads back to the table where Samuel; who bellows with a laugh, and shares another round of drinks. As dawn approaches Ryneil dons her suit of armor, she walks around the Grand Hall to pass time. Most of the Grand Hall had been renovated from the old castle that had been here from single bricks to full pillars of solid or large stone slabs. Her metal fingers lightly scrap along the cold, smooth surface of the walls as she walks toward the balcony overlooking the town. The sun had just peered over the mountains as Ryneil stepped out into the open, causing her to raise a hand up to block out the radiant light. Her eyes slowly adjust to the new days light as she leans against the rail encompassing the edge of the balcony. Closing her eyes, Ryneil soaks up the rays of light as she loses herself in thought. Her moment of peace is broken as a set of steps are heard approaching from behind, Ryneil takes a few sniffs. "You're up rather early, Samuel. I thought you might be feeling ill after all you drank last night." Samuel steps out from the shadows of the archway. "I have to admit I don't feel the best of it, but I had to see you before you left." Samuel yawns and stretches and yawns before leans against the rail next to Ryneil, her gaze still looking toward the rising sun. The sound of morning birds ring throughout the still sleeping town. Moments pass as both remain silent before Samuel breaks the moment. "Beautiful isn't it? If only the world could see what we see." Ryneil opens her eyes with a gentle sigh, her gaze then fixes onto the town. "Yes, if only it could... thou you must be getting rather old giving into sentiments like that." Samuel chuckles at that and lowers his head a little looking over the town as well. "No argument there." Samuel turns around facing the archway, thou still leaning against the rail. "You know, he's going to be lonely when you go right?" Ryneil lowers her head and closes her eyes. "It doesn't matter, he knew he was only with me to meet my ends. Nothing more." Ryneil states coldly making Samuel laugh involuntary in which Ryneil looks to him with a puzzled look. "You haven't changed at all have you?" Samuel looks to Ryneil with a smirk. "It's for the best." Replied Ryneil as she looked back toward the sun and closes her eyes. Several more moments pass as both stood under the morning sun, Ryneil is the first to move this time. She turns and heads inside. "It's time... I shall see you when I get back, Samuel." Samuel follows and pats her on the shoulder. "Hey, don't talk like that. People who talk like that usually are the first to die." Samuel laughs and walks beside Ryneil for a few moment before he pauses. "Okay... now I gotta go." He runs off with his hand over his mouth and disappears into the Hall. Ryneil smiles a soft, sad smile. "You always were the one trying to be the cool guy in front of others..." Thou the statement falls on silent ears. At the front gates, a small group of guards and Gallagher were waiting as Ryneil approached on horseback, carrying her helmet underarm. "Well lass, look at you. All suited and ready to go." Gallagher smiles as a few guards give their best of wishes and praises. "Thank-you everyone, I'll be fine." Ryneil smiles as she makes a courteous bow. She folds her ears back and places her helmet on her head. "Best of luck lass, and remember that we'll be thinking of your success." Gallagher holds out Ryneil's trusted sword. She leans forward accepting it with another bow before slinging it over her shoulder. "And I'm off!" Ryneil exclaims as she rears her horse and gallops out through the gates. The group of guards wave and shout words of encouragement before Ryneil disappears around the turn. As the group dissipates into small pockets, Gallagher is the only who stands staring at the bend in the road. A cold, malicious grin grips his face before turning to head back to the keep. Day falls into night, the dead calm air brushes against Ryneil as she gallops down the winding road towards her next battle field. PS: I took the idea of using spoilers to separate chapters from Jonsey. PSS: Thanks Jonsey!