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[FanFic] Aveyond: The Lord of Twilight - In Progress

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Chapter 3

Remembrance

For a year, I trained under professor Gray. I not only enjoyed the training, but was rather good at it. Edward kept pestering me, till I finally befriended him again. I simply couldn't refuse; he was a natural troublemaker. Ted was a friend for everyone, though it was some time before I started calling Steve by this name. Eventually, we did become friends, but he kept a slight distance from everyone. Sometimes, I doubted whether that night had happened at all.

★★★

Mel woke up, yawning. With a start, she picked up the alarm clock which she had turned off almost an hour ago. Taking a close look at it she realized that it was already late. Dressing up in a frenzy, she almost forgot wear her old belt, as always, over the bottle green uniform.

She was used to the ritual now, though their classes were far from boring, except the theory, of course, which cause dread of the afternoons. They usually had to solve puzzles, which were real life rather than abstract. Sometimes, professor Gray would take them to an old mansion or other place and ask them to carry out a task, with a bonus for the one finishing it first. Today, however, he had specifically called her for an assignment, and she didn't wish to be scolded.

Mel hardly waved back to any of her friends as she raced up the long stairs. She had been supposed to be there at eight and it was already half an hour late. Panting, she reached professor Gray's office.

'Late again, Mel?' he said sternly, before softening again. 'Sit down, I've a very specific and important assignment for you'

Mel took a chair. Their training often involved them being hired. Mel hoped it was similar this time too. She was really hoping to get her hands on a new watch she'd seen a few days back. Professor Gray seemed to have read her mind.

'No, you won't be working for a reward for now' he said, and chuckled as Mel's face fell. From a stack of papers, he drew out a letter.

'Tell me, what do you make of this?' he said, handing it to her. Mel, who'd learned to read, though rather slowly, took it eagerly. It was written in the thin sharp slant in faint blue ink, which would have been difficult to read in dim light. The paper was thick and seemed to be costly. The letter was short and strange.

'Dear Gloria,

I've been rather busy these days. The farmer's chicken has been troubling me. Both the farmer and his wife are quiet as yet. There has been no word about the coming of tigers in the area. Business is going good. I've almost found a way to get the eggs quickly. The chicken almost got me last time. I was reading through the farmer's old books, when it entered the room and started a racket. I could have killed it then, but managed to make it quiet by the old trick. I can no longer enter through the front door, it's getting too rude, so I will keep the bird. It's getting easier with it's help.

I've the perfect opportunity to finish the books finally soon. The farmer is going to arrange a dinner for a few villagers. I could read the books then, because he seems simply obsessed with them at all other times. My attention, though, would also be on the one's of his wife. They seem quite interesting.

I need help from the butchers. Send one of them here. I don't want to repeat the past mistakes. Tell him not to carry his knife around, I have a spare lying around.

Missing you,

Your loving husband.'

There was no name or signature. Mel frowned.

'It either looks like someone's having a really bad time with a chicken, or its somebody gone nuts!' she said skeptically.

'That would have been the first thought' Gray said, a slight smile on his face. 'But can you explain that I personally found it a day before in the post of the elite section?'

'Was there an address?' Mel asked immediately.

'You're making progress' he said, again looking through the papers. 'I was hoping you'd ask that before me. It was in this'

It was an ordinary envelope. On it was written in the same handwriting, 'Leave this letter under the rock marked with a cross beside the big signboard outside Thais'

'Seems rather lame to me' Mel said, handing it back.

'The scheme, on the other hand, worked perfectly' Gray said grimly. 'The impossibly foolish postmaster told me he regularly kept the letters precisely there since the last few months. I had the king sign a notice to dismiss him, but I haven't executed it yet to prevent any outbreak'

'So you're sure this is the work of a spy?' Mel herself was pretty convinced already.

'Quite sure, though I've known people's crazy ways of sending letters that mean no harm. It's rather the second paragraph that got me'

Mel went through it again.

'The fact is that the king is throwing a ball tonight for all nobles and most of the elite. A couple of princes are coming from other states too. It seems suspiciously obvious that this is that party. It fits in quite well. The king's the farmer, the queen obviously his wife. I've my own suspicions who the tigers are. The butcher is likely a mercenary. I just can't make out what these eggs and the chicken are. I guess they just make up for the flow' he explained, as if he was telling her how to clean her garden. It sounded convincing.

'So the first thing I did was to ask the king if anyone had been acting odd recently. I got a thumbs down. Next, I set a man to watch the "crossed rock", but no one ever came.' He stopped for a moment.

'Then yesterday, I had a student distribute invitations to everyone invited and analyze their responses. The student reported nothing out of place. So finally, now it looks like I'm exhausted of ideas by which I can trap the one. Another explanation, of course is yours, that of a lunatic'

'So now, here's your assignment!' he sat up straight as he said it. 'You're going to attend today's ball, and find me my spy. You must do your best to not let him know that we're alerted. If necessary, talk to him and make him spit lies, it'll confirm our theory. What's with the face?'

This last question was in response to the horrified face Mel had been wearing ever since he said the first sentence of the assignment. Mel hastily tried to change it, but couldn't.

'Professor' she said slowly, extremely serious. 'I hate balls, nobles and anything to do with them'

Gray looked surprised. He chucked.

'You'll enjoy it Mel, trust me. Anyway, you don't have a choice. Have you understood everything?'

She nodded, reluctant and slow.

'That's good!' he said, getting up. 'Get a ball dress from Lisa in central Thais, and here's your invitation'

He handed it to her, which she took like something that had just died. The invitation was extremely decorated with a bright shade of purple.

'Report back to me as soon as you find our man' he said, getting up. 'You're the one of the last tricks in my pocket'

Mel grinned, feeling slightly proud.

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'It will look simply amazing on you, dear!' Lisa exclaimed as Mel looked in the mirror holding the off white golden satin gown in front of her. She herself was displeased, but at least it was better than anything else. All of the others were heavily decorated while this one was particularly plain and had been named "simplicity".

Mel couldn't believe she'd been in a gown shop for almost half an hour, looking through the various gowns. Mistress Lisa was a pleasant woman, who had many customers but all the same, she kept them all happy. Just as Mel was thinking of finalizing it, the door of the shop opened and someone came in. Mel didn't bother, till she got a slight glimpse of the bright green hair. She turned around and groaned.

Her hair was tightly held, but slightly left off in a manner that caught your attention. She was wearing her usual purple-brown dress, not the uniform, being one of the few who showed contempt for the rules. Her face was clean and she would have looked beautiful, had it not been for her contemptuous expression. Lydia Rupert was a mage student at the academy. While it was indeed banned to discuss rank and status, Lydia and her friends were some who would go to any length to make everybody know of their being from noble families. She had her cronies were the complete opposites of Mel. The formers always wanted the limelight, while Mel preferred being in the quiet.

'How much for this one?' Lydia said, not noticing Mel. She was pointing to the huge pink gown Mel had not even bothered to look at.

'It's a thousand and a half, dear' Lisa said. A few more customers diverted her attention. Mel tried to look unconcerned as Lydia browsed through the variety. She didn't notice her till she was right next to her.

'What are you doing here?' Lydia asked, as if she was talking to a beggar. 'This is a shop for the rich!'

'Just browsing...' Mel said vaguely, sounding casual. She actually felt like laughing at Lydia's expression.

'Well, don't get to cosy' Lydia said contemptuously. 'You won't be able to afford anything anyway!'

She threw down the gown she was holding.

'I'm not sure I'll come here again' she said aloud. Lisa came running. 'I think I'll prefer the other shop after seeing who comes here'

With that, she marched to the door, while Mel couldn't help laughing. Lisa quickly picked up the gown she had thrown and hung it back onto the shelf.

'Never mind her, dear' Lisa said. Mel was holding the same gown. 'So should I finalize that?'

'Yes, I think this one will do' Mel said.

'Alright' Lisa said cheerfully. 'I'll have it delivered to your home. You'll return it tomorrow, right?'

Mel nodded and handed her a spare key of the house. This was a usual practice in these parts.

'Take care, dear!' Lisa said, smiling. 'Don't bother about Lydia. Nobody really likes her!'

She winked. Mel smiled and winked back as she left.

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'I look horrible' Mel kept repeating as she turned around again and again in front of the mirror. The rather painful truth for her was that she wasn't, a feeling she was trying to subdue. Mel hated nobles and royals, something she could never really explain. Sometimes, even she would realize that maybe it was simply because she was not one. Maybe it was because she always thought nobles were unpleasant people, a thought Lydia confirmed.

'This it all then' she said, carefully tying her hair with a satin ribbon. The strapless gown fitted her perfectly. She had, unlike the usual schedule, bathed thrice and borrowed a bit of make up from Anna, a friend who worked in a nearby saloon, to avoid any suspicion that could arise seeing a commoner in the castle. In the end, Anna herself had to come an help her out, after Mel complained that the eye shadow didn't work properly. It had turned out to be a lip stick. So finally, Mel had slightly darker and deeper eyes, dull red lips, well combed, partially let down hair and was much fairer compared to everyday.

Mel breathed and went over her information again. Twice, she read a copy of the letter Gray had shown her. Finally, reluctantly, she convinced herself that she was ready. Apprehensively, she slipped her feet into the half-inch high flat heels and had her first fall before she could make it to the door of her one room flat. It didn't take much time to get over it though; she felt like being back in the rope balancing classes they had done for a few days.

The castle was to the north of Thais. Mel hadn't ever been inside it, though she had seen it once when professor Gray had taken them for an assignment in the elite parts. The walk, as a result would have been a rather short one, had it not been for her heels.

It was a building worth noticing, even if the person had decided to ignore the world. Not only was the main construction huge, but it had an innumerable number of turrets and towers. A rock spike with the emblem of Thais shooting up straight into the sky was the cherry on the cake. The entire castle was adorned with the blue Mel had become used to. Outside, a huge garden stretched, far greater than the one at the academy. It was rumored that the king had his own personal lake and went boating every few days.

'That's long!' Mel groaned as she looked up the staircase of the castle. The ascent didn't take much time though, as it was a habit; Gray's office was the topmost in the academy. In the end, the view was rewarding.

The hall of the castle had been decorated lavishly. The chandelier was the first that caught her attention. It was unlike any other she had seen. Completely covered with glass, it set a diffused light around itself, causing a natural glow around everything. The walls were decorated with sparkling colorful stones, which she assumed to be gems. They had a simple engraved design of flowers. A red velvet carpet was sprawled right up to the thrones, the diamonds on which gleamed in the bright lighting. The king and queen were not seated; a small stubborn looking boy, who looked about six had occupied their places. Every now and then, he would run around and then return, fearful his seat was gone.

The hall was filled with color, though most of the men were in either black or blue-red. The women had taken all efforts to look unique; she couldn't find a single repetition. A couple of them were actually wearing gem studded gowns, something Mel had no intention of trying out. Mostly everyone looked merry, chatting away with the person next to them, not bothering to look at her, which was rather convenient.

Mel looked at everyone carefully. None of them outwardly looked suspicious. There was a man in a bright pink dress, who was laughing rather unnaturally and loudly, but he couldn't possibly be someone who was trying to hide his identity.

She already knew, had seen or read about many of the people she could see. Some who caught her eyes were the old Duke of the province of Funard, who had announced retirement earlier than expected; the mayor of Stormbend, who had only recently came to Thais and made the news; Lord Weston, a handsome young man, whom she had heard to have inherited a fortune from his step-father and lived somewhere in Thais; Lord Rupert, pleasant, who lived in the elite parts; the princes of Tar Vedron, who were the center of attention; the countess of Malington, whose name she couldn't remember; the Chancellor, the Majesties, Ulaf and-

'No!' she moaned. Lydia, with a couple of her usual cronies was standing wearing a horrible pink dresses. Not wanting to be noticed, Mel quickly sat down in a corner. It was almost ten, the time she'd been told to act at. Most of the people already seemed to have arrived, and Mel was careful not to let anyone slip out of her eye. Some time later, as expected the king cleared his throat and called out to everyone.

'Everybody!' he said in his commanding, pleasant voice. 'Join us for dinner!'

The crowd cheerfully rumbled into the next room. Mel melted away into the background as Lydia chatted past her, looking very important, the three giggling at the princes, who sometimes gave them a rare look. They'd be sorry if they fell for them, Mel imagined, though the thought of Lydia going to a far away land was worth dancing.

She kept a close watch on everyone as their courses were served. The menu was as lavish as the decor, with an unlimited supply of chicken, dishes she had never seen, various drinks, and what looked like an octopus. Nobody went out of her sight for the first two servings. In the middle of the third, a man at the corner of the table got up and went inside. Quickly, stealthily, she followed his footsteps, all the same keeping a distance, which prevented her from seeing who it was.

For about five minutes, she followed him inside. He looked young. The shoulders were straight, the hair well combed, blonde and Mel tried hard to remember who it could be. He was wearing a red cape with a blur colored suit inside and carried a sword as most of the other people. Finally, he open a door and went inside. She smiled slyly. It was the king's study.

The room was not something that can be described easily. It was huge, for a start and the walls were covered with bookshelves. The furniture was flawless and a bed was neatly arranged in a corner with a bluish white blanket. There was a fan on the roof, which was moving mechanically, but silently. The room had a door towards the end. The person inside rummaged through the drawers of the big wooden table for about a minute, before he seemed to have found what he wanted. He turned around before Mel could hide properly. Her jaw fell as fury mounted inside.

'Get away from the king's desk!' she said roughly. 'How long have you been a spy Edward?'

Sent from my Aqua HD using Aveyond Kingdom

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Edward dropped the letter.

'What are you doing here Mel?' he cried out.

'You need to explain yourself, not I' she said menacingly. Edward looked slightly shocked.

'Calm down, Mel, I'll explain everything' he said.

'I don't...' she began heatedly, before being cut across.

'Shut your filthy mouth, you wretch!' a voice cried out behind her. Mel turned around. It was Lydia. She was still carrying a fork in one hand and her pink gown was glowing brightly, highly irritating Mel.

'I hope she hasn't been troubling you, milord prince Edward?' she asked, looking at him. Something shone inside Mel's head.

'Prince?' she said, letting the angry tone go. This was beyond her.

'I think that'll be enough, Lydia' Edward said, looking at her. Lydia bowed slightly, looking displeased and went back down the hall, giving Mel a dirty look as she got at the end of the corridor. 'Do you want to hear me out now, Mel?'

Still slightly angry, Mel nodded. Edward waved towards the balcony. She followed him outside. The view was amazing, though she couldn't see much in the dark.

'I'm sorry I didn't tell this to you earlier, Mel' he said, rather wearily. 'You know discussing rank isn't allowed at the academy, so I never mentioned it...'

Mel didn't say anything. It wasn't a good excuse.

'Lydia pestered me initially, till I convinced her not to let out the secret. I didn't want everyone to know. It's not too much fun, being a prince.'

'Why?' Mel asked, intrigued, trying to keep looking angry. Edward looked into the distance, leaning over the railing. A cold wave of the wind hit them, making Mel shiver slightly. She wished she had chosen a thicker gown.

'This is all then, isn't it?' he said vaguely. He spoke like a broken man, who was telling his plight. 'I'll be married off to a foreign princess whom I've never met, rule the kingdom, maybe even go down in history, but never be happy. It's been like this ever since my childhood. I was never asked what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go... for my entire life, I've been told that my only goal in life was to rule... something I never felt attracted to'

'Why wouldn't you be happy?' she asked as he stopped abruptly. 'You have everything. Money, people, an army, servants; what else do you want?'

'I want freedom!' he said, as though he had repeated it several times before. 'All I want to do is head out and explore the world... I want to be like you, Mel. Take what comes your way, and live life the way you want it to... I want to fly in the skies, I want to see people from the world... and the last thing I want is to stay here, with someone I don't love and continue this pointless existence'

He had put it rather heavily, and himself looked aware of it too. They didn't speak for a few minutes. Mel was slightly numb.

'You should have told me' she said finally.

'I couldn't have!' he said almost immediately. He was still not looking at her, choosing instead to focus on some point behind her shoulder. 'I knew you hated people of my kind... I couldn't fathom the thought of losing your friendship...'

He took her left hand in both of his and looked into her eyes.

'Mel...' he said, breaking off slightly. 'You're the only real friend I have, who understands me like no one ever did before... I'm really sorry to have kept you this secret before, but please do forgive me this time... I may have lost the trust, don't let me lose a friend...'

He really did look sorry. She withdrew her hand and looked up, not replying, though her expression had softened. Edward followed her gaze. A bright streak lit up the sky. It looked like a comet, only much larger. It seemed like some asteroid or a small object.

'Did you see that?' Edward exclaimed, albeit returning to the usual excited tone. Mel nodded. He drew out a compass and looked at it. 'That would've landed at the old ruins' he declared eagerly, but his smile sightly faded seeing Mel's face.

'Mel, will you come with me to explore tomorrow?' he asked formally, again putting up the sorry face. He looked like a puppy who had just been scolded for stealing someone's shoe. Mel couldn't help but chuckle.

'Ok, I'll come' she said, smiling finally. 'Don't be late!'

'Thanks!' he winked. Their tones had almost completely returned to normal again. 'I'll be at your house at six. Anyway, what spy were you accusing me of being?'

'Keep your nose out and it'll survive!' she said pointedly. Edward made an action of throwing it out of his mind. She laughed and let go of the railing. As she was about to reach the door, he whistled, very softly but it made her turn.

'Thought I'd let you know' he said, his back to the railing. 'Don't be angry again, but I think that you should really know, cause I've promised I'm not gonna keep any secrets anymore - wait now, did I really promise that? - anyway, you know, I didn't think of mentioning it before, in case...'

'What is it?' she said irritably, cutting through his babble. He stopped abruptly, his mouth still half open.

'You look good!' he said, a subtle grin on his face. Mel shook her head, trying to hide her smile as she turned quickly. She didn't want to let him see her blushing.

★★★

The ball had started and even mostly dispersed by the time she was back to the hall, which was directly next to the ballroom. People had gone back to their chatter, with the exception of a few, who were still waltzing to the faint music. Some people looked missing, but she couldn't enlist them. Hoping she wasn't late, she ran off towards the royal wing to try and find anything suspicious.

The fourth door she encountered was closed. A slight push revealed it to be locked from inside. It's position was suggestive of it being the Queen's private room. Mel quickly peeked in through the keyhole.

A man was seated at the desk ruffling through papers, which looked like letters. The man had black combed hair and a black suit like many else, but Mel couldn't be sure who it was, for there was an obstruction. A young girl about her age, maybe a couple of years older, who looked like a maid, was standing behind him, her hands around his neck, looking highly impatient. Every couple of minutes, she'd make an impatient sound to which he wouldn't reply.

Finally, after about ten minutes by the time Mel's back had started paining, the man stood up and faced the door and the girl. Eagerly and passionately, she kissed him, while his eyes looked mostly uninterested. Hardly making a sound, he pinned the girl down onto the floor. She eagerly accepted every move of his, as though it was something she'd been waiting for.

Mel drew back from the door. She didn't want to witness it any longer. Lord Weston would probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

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In a land far way, across the worlds, stood the village of Ghe'dare. The entire settlement had a strange violet hue. There were houses of varying size, not properly maintained and too many graves around to count. The sky was peculiar; it seemed to be unending but had not a trace of the stars or the moon. The lighting was mysterious, as one couldn't make it out where it came from. The air smelled, of blood, skin and rotten flesh. The ground was covered with bones of small animals and slime.

Tei'jal was fuming. No one seemed to know where he had disappeared. It was one of the few and crucial times when she actually needed his help, and he had disappeared as usual. Not that she could blame him, of course.

She smelled carefully. The air was too full to detect anything properly. She didn't expect anything else, in a land where hundreds of vampires lived.

She tried using her other sense. She could hear someone talking gibberish in the house next to her, someone chanting and rather peculiar sounds- banging of metal. Something not usually heard in those parts. Grinding her teeth, she walked towards the direction of the sounds.

The forest around Ghe'dare was not only dangerous, but filled with skeleton warriors. For ages, vampires had tried to destroy them, but the skeletons persisted. They were the ghosts of soldiers who died unnaturally in extraordinary battles. Their skills from life seemed to have not left, for they were fierce in battle. Tei'jal raised her eyebrows as he came into view.

'Why don't you give up, husband? she asked him, looking skeptical. 'Your suicide mission isn't going to work. You're already dead!'

Galahad looked at her. He was still wearing the same armor as that of the fateful day when she had killed him after he agreed to marry her. His skin had barely paled, for even after years of insistence by her, he refused to feed.

'Go away, wife!' he said in the usual army-ish tone. 'This is the final time'

Tei'jal sighed and joined in the fight with the skeleton warrior, which ended into their making it into a heap of bones. The skeleton hadn't even been able to get a slice at her, maybe more because it was only three arrows later that his sword hand severed off. Galahad had, perhaps against his own will, severed off the skull, after which it crumbled down.

'Listen here, now, husband' she said. 'I need your help. Gyendal is planning to take the sunshine out of the overworld. He must be stopped'

'Lies!' Galahad yelled, his blonde hair throwing a bit. The sharp cut near his left eye seemed to have widened a bit. 'Why do you want to save them? What are they but a source of blood for you?'

'I have a soft corner in my heart for food' Tei'jal said coolly. 'Gyendal has got his hands on a certain artifact that will aid him. For this, I don't know why he needs a certain mortal; a girl who's just come of age'

Galahad looked at her for a second. He seemed to be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Not serving the mortals was betrayal. Helping Tei'jal was something he had vowed against. It felt like self-betrayal.

'You don't have a soul!' he cried out, desperate for a retort. 'How can you feel bad for someone?'

Tei'jal waited for a moment, looking at him with slightly raised eyebrows.

'Gyendal is meeting his followers at the cathedral in less than an hour. If we make it, we could save the girl before he kills her'

Galahad groaned. He looked agonized. Finally, after a few seconds, he nodded, more to himself than her. Without looking at her again, he set off in the direction of the cathedral. Tei'jal smiled coolly. He wasn't very fun, but she'd found the right man.

★★★

The cathedral was completely sealed, which meant no sound or smell could be detected outside. The huge stone building had been specifically designed to hold meetings for "the greater good". In other words, it was a place for discussing evil schemes.

Tei'jal broke open a window and the two slowly slipped inside through the ceiling. Carefully balancing on the ledge, she slowly recorded everything.

The vampires present were the usual lot, several who had supported earlier moves against the light and restrictions on feeding. Gyendal was not present, though the stage was ready and a stand, which looked made for a sphere was resting on the table. The vampires were talking in low voices, when the one at the front stood up.

'My fellow dead ladies and gentlemen' he said loudly. Everyone stopped talking. 'Welcome our leader, Lord Gyendal Ravenfoot!'

Some of them clapped. Without much show, Gyendal walked up from behind the stage and stood on front of the table. The steak of white in his black hair was gleaming. He was wearing his usual red cloak, a sign of power among them.

'Fellow vampires!' he said loudly, in a tone that suited a leader. 'The time has come for us to take our places as the rightful rulers of the world. For too long, the mortals have dominated the world and have shown us down. The time is now ripe, that we take this glory for ourselves. We will finally take over the land of the living!'

A few people again clapped, though the speech had been rather short and unimpressive, not to mention repetitive.

'How do you plan to do it?' a man at the front said lowly. 'We have been promised too many times. The sun will destroy our civilization!'

Gyendal smiled. He had been hoping this would be asked. With an expression of greatness, he took out an orb from his robe and kept it in the stand. The orb stayed black all through.

'Behold!' he cried out suddenly. 'The orb of darkness. This will be our tool, to destroy the light forever! The orb carries the ultimate power, with which we can, forever, destroy the sun which may never be brought back. The orb, crafted not for this purpose, has lied unused for too long!'

'But how will you use it?' the man asked, almost immediately. Gyendal looked irritated.

'You must be unaware' he said. 'Long ago, in a small town, a great sorcerer created two orbs: The orb of light and this, the orb of darkness! This particular wizard created these objects to rule over both the worlds. A prophecy was made. Someone would eventually use these to conquer the world: both, theirs' and ours'

'But what if the humans used the other orb on us?' a woman with an extremely high pitched voice cried. 'We'll be done for good!'

Gyendal chuckled evilly. Again, he seemed to have been waiting for the question.

'This time, I over smarted him!' he said, throwing up his arms. 'I killed the guardian of the orb, in Naylith, and sealed the location! Never shall the orb be found or talked about again. For the world, only one orb will exist. And then, the worlds shall unite. Everyone knows what naturally follows!'

This time, many more people clapped. They seemed to be satisfied finally.

'Well then why don't you start it now?' the man at the front said eagerly. 'Let the darkness come!'

Gyendal shifted slightly, his smile gone.

'Patience, vampires!' he said loudly. 'The orb can be used only by a mage; a direct descendant of the wizard. Don't worry though, I've found her, and will bring her here soon! I tricked the girl into handing me the orb herself, but couldn't get her to use it due to... due to a traitor. But that's not an issue. I know where she is now, and tonight, she'll be ours!'

He stepped down as people clapped foolishly again. They seemed to be obsessed with the very thought of darkness. Tei'jal nodded to Galahad and they slipped out. They had quite a journey ahead.


Sent from my Aqua HD using Aveyond Kingdom

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'Go away!' Mel said sleepily.

The persistent knocking continued. She tried to ignore it but couldn't.

'Fine!' she said angrily. In her night dress, she got up and opened the door.

'I see why you're usually late' he said, looking at her from top to bottom.

Edward was dressed in most of his usual clothes, except he had put a thin steel chain mail over his clothes. His hair was well combed and he was grinning.

'You could've killed me!' Mel said, sitting on the cheap wooden chair she'd bought.

'You've been sleeping for six hours... what more do you want?'

She yawned. Against her will, she got up and opened her wardrobe, which had only the uniform and an extra dress. The gown had been returned already.

'Look away!' she said, yawning again. Quickly, making sure Edward wasn't watching, she changed into her outfit and tried to flatten her unkempt hair. It was impossible, as always.

'We should go there quickly, before anyone else' Edward said, after she was completely ready. 'Someone else is bound to have seen it'

She waved him off, trying to remember where she had kept the keys. She just had had a dream she had so intention of discussing with anyone, least with him. Trying to keep her eyes away, she locked up the room and they set off together for their adventure, or rather their picnic.

People often visited the ruins to enjoy the silence and the fresh air. They were located about a mile outside Thais' outermost premises, and were rumored to be the remains of an old haunted castle that once stood there. They were forbidden at night, for the spirits would come out and the reaper would make anyone his own.

The journey to the ruins wasn't very interesting, save for the moment when Edward tripped over a small rock, sending his sword flying and leaving his hair in a complete mess. Mel had laughed at him for the next five minutes till her stomach started to pain seriously and he gave her a very stern look. They had began when the sun was below the horizon. By the time they reached their destination, an hour later, the fresh rays were highly refreshing.

'Alright!' Edward said as the first fallen stone wall came into view. 'Let's explore!'

Mel started. She had almost forgotten why they had come there. Hastily, she tried to look very busy in looking at the ground, which was actually pointless as there was nothing but leaves that had fallen down from the predominantly yew trees.

The ruins were sad, but had an aura of the past around them. The construction was beautiful, the walls were carved and it probably had been a beauty when it stood. Creepers had started to grow on pillars, but they were free of moss even though no one possibly ever cleaned them.

The place was quiet and ideal for relaxing, provided you weren't too afraid of animals, who would rush past every few minutes. They were mostly docile, but Edward did have to scare off a wolf that had almost attacked Mel. She, on the other hand had ran and hid behind him when the beast attacked. Mel was never someone who preferred fights, she usually relied on the power of the mind for solving any kind of problem.

For some time, they stayed together, after which no more animals came, and they separated. Mel wasn't really looking around, her mind being preoccupied with the events of the night before. She couldn't contemplate how she hadn't realized it earlier: especially now that she remembered how Lydia was always pleasant to Edward and gave Mel murderous looks whenever she talked to him. Her initial thought had been that it was simply because Lydia found him cool, but retrospectively, she realized that there were other such boys in the academy too. She had no reason to ignore them, especially when they often gave her more importance than she had ever seen Edward do.

But that wasn't the only issue. The real issue was that Mel had somehow, somewhere in herself, started to like Edward more than she had ever liked anyone else. From her childhood, she had been - rather dogmatically - firm that she hated royals, nobles and by extension anyone who was rich; and that she would never have anything to do with them. In that sense, it was a real dilemma, for either she had to break this resolution, or she had to stop talking to Edward. The former seemed self betrayal and the latter was impossible. Her trance was broken as Edward's voice, calling out her name carried over the slight breeze.

She hadn't realized that she was standing in a pool of mud. Hastily, trying to get out of the sticky ground, she ran to where his voice was coming from. In the distance, she saw Edward sitting down on his knees. Her first thought was that he was hurt, but as she approached, she realized that he was actually examining the one on the ground.

It was a girl, maybe a year older to her, with eye-catching, but not very bright pinkish-violet hair. She was wearing a pure white dress, which was ruffled like her hair. She was barefooted and looked either unconscious or sleeping.

'This is strange' Edward said, bending down. He gently kept a hand near her chest. 'She's breathing, looks unconscious'

He turned to Mel, who was looking at him rather coldly. He quickly withdrew the hand.

'Let her be' Mel said turning around. 'Let's continue our search. She probably...'

Before she could complete, the girl made a small noise and Mel turned around. She opened her eyes slowly and looked at Edward.

'Where am I?' she asked him. Her voice was frail, and sounded afraid. She tried to get up but fell down again. 'My head... where am I?' she repeated.

'You're in Thais' Edward said, unsure. The girl frowned slightly.

'I fell...' she said looking up. Edward reached out and touched her forehead.

'She's cold as ice' he said, urgency in his voice. 'We have to take her to the temple!'

He looked at Mel. She didn't say anything. In one sweep, he lifted the girl in both his hands. She immediately put her arms around his neck for support.

'Go ahead, I'll come later' Mel said without hesitation.

'Mel...' Edward said, again unsure.

'It's fine!' she said stiffly. 'I'll return soon'

Edward nodded, still unsure and sprinted off towards Thais.

Without much thought, Mel started around again. She felt like kicking something, but controlled the desire; the last time she hadn't, her toe had pained for several hours. Her first day properly out of the city without the other students had been ruined by some foolish girl. She again controlled the temptation to kick.

A little exploration revealed that a small stream ran in between the trees and formed a lake ahead. She spent a few hours by its side, hoping Edward would return, but finally gave up after it had become too hot. Just as she was about to leave, something caught her eye in the bright sun.

It was a ring, rather small and wouldn't fit her finger. It looked made of silver with steaks of violet - the same as the girl's hair. On the back was inscribed the word 'Stella'. Probably her name, she thought. Careful not to let it fall, she slipped it into her pocket and started back for Thais.

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The temple was situated at the middle of Thais and served as both hospital as well as a place of worship. Often, it was claimed that the priestesses had magical powers that healed those whom no other could. Others claimed that the water in the fountain of the temple was holy and cleansed the body of all disease.

Edward stood up as Mel arrived. The girl was lying on the bed, her eyes open, but she still looked weak. Ignoring Edward, she took out the ring and handed it to her. With some difficulty, she sat up in the bed.

'It says "Stella"' Mel said. 'Is that your name?'

The girl looked slightly perplexed. Then, she seemed to have remembered something. Her eyes sparkled slightly and she smiled weakly, putting on the ring, which fitted perfectly.

'Yes...' she said, again in the vague tone. 'Stella. That's my name'

Mel sat down on the bed. She was still a bit angry, but all the same, intrigued.

'Where are you from?' she asked. She looked confused.

'Where...' she said. 'I don't remember... anything'

She seemed have completely forgotten everything. She lied down again.

'I remember falling... that's all...'

Mel frowned and turned to Edward.

'Do you reckon...?' she said, to which he nodded, looking skeptical.

'It's strange, but seems to be. I know no one could have survived that'

Mel frowned again. A priestess, dressed in a flowing white gown entered.

'Don't talk too much child' she said, touching Stella's head. Then she turned to them. 'Why don't one of you stay here till the night? She'll be good, having company'

'I'll stay!' Mel said before Edward could open his eyes. He looked taken aback. 'I expect you have some special tasks, Edward?'

He looked at her coldly.

'Fine!' he said and picked up the sword. 'I was going to suggest both of us stay'

Without waiting for her to speak, he quickly left through the door of the dormitory, closing it quietly behind him.

★★★

It was dark and rather cold outside when the priestesses finally asked Mel to leave Stella to them. It turned out that she could remember absolutely nothing, and even after hours of questioning, Mel had no clue as to who she really was. She herself was equally confused, and kept repeating that she remembered her fall.

Two men were standing ahead in the dark alley, both cloaked and hooded. They seemed to be waiting for someone and turned as Mel walked past, trying not to look at them.

'Excuse me, miss' one of them said. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. The voice was colder than anything she had heard before. She ignored them and walked on slightly increasing her speed. A slight ruffle behind her back, the speedy run she had heard before and the throwing off of a hood. In a flash, Mel turned around and threw the water from the flask she had just opened. She saw them for only a fraction of a second, the blood stained teeth, before the vampires screamed into the night as they crumbled. In seconds, their bodies had turned to ash, and Mel was shaking violently, their shrill screams still echoing in her ears.

They had found her. No matter what she did, the past had come back to haunt her. Her mind worked very fast. She had only one chance. Tomorrow, before dawn, she would leave Thais, unsure as for her destination, but she had to leave.

She opened the door of the room and closed it securely again. As she turned, she realized that she wasn't alone.


Sent from my Aqua HD using Aveyond Kingdom

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'Tei'jal!' she cried out, almost feeling like hugging her. Tei'jal was looking slightly worn out. It was a second before Mel noticed the man, who looked like a warrior sitting on her bed.

'It's good to see you alive, rabbit' Tei'jal said, as though indicating she was happy that Mel had completed an assignment in time. 'Meet my husband, Galahad...'

Galahad stood up and smiled at her, somewhat warmly unlike she had expected. The deep cut running down his left eye made him look intimidating.

'You're married?' Mel said, moments later wishing she hadn't asked the question, for it seemed quite rude on her part.

'Yes' Tei'jal said shortly, without elaborating. Mel realized now that though Galahad seemed human, his color was indeed slightly paled, an indication that he was a vampire. She was unclear why his color had not completely changed like Tei'jal's white skin, but kept the question aside.

'I was just attacked by two vampires' she said instead. Both of them looked at each other. 'I used the water you had given me, it worked wonders'

'That was a lucky one' Tei'jal said grimly. 'I was beginning to fear we would be too late, and it turns out that we almost were...'

She stood up from the chair and closed the shutters of the windows.

'You must stay inside for the night' she said after a minute. 'Tomorrow, you must leave Thais'

'Where do I go?'

'Okay, listen this out carefully now' Tei'jal began, looking serious. 'It seems that this particular ancestor of yours-'

'He's not-' Mel protested.

'Being the scion of the darkest wizard in centuries does not make you a bad person' she said, quieting Mel. 'Now, it seems like this particular person created not one, but two orbs: the orb of darkness, and the orb of light. These orbs would probably the complete opposites of each other, which means that the effect of one could be countered with the other. I hope you follow?'

Mel nodded.

'Now this particular orb you handed over to Gyendal allows him to bring darkness to the world, and thus establishes his rule immediately. The catch, is that he needs a mage descendent of the wizard to use the orb'

'Well then he's trying to get the wrong person!' Mel said aloud. 'I'm not a mage, so I can't use the orb!'

'That is something I haven't figured out yet' she said, nodding. 'However, one thing is clear: the only way is that you must not fall into his hands. Another way would obviously be that you are killed; if you're obliging, I can do it now!'

'Stay away from her' Galahad said in a low, but fierce voice.

'Anyway, I have no intention of doing it' Tei'jal said. 'That wouldn't probably be of much use either'

'But he can always find another descendent, can't he? There must be hundreds!'

'Exactly, though it was probably an achievement, tracing you. I don't expect him to go through the ritual again, though you're right. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is, what if he does manage to get the orb working? There's only one solution to that. You must find the other orb'

Mel nodded again. The plan wasn't hard, but she wasn't sure where they would start.

'So where is it?' she asked skeptically.

'He himself said the orb rested in a place called Naylith, and that he has killed the guardian. Where Naylith is, a question I cannot answer. But what you must do, a question I've answered already'

Mel shook her head.

'But even if I do find it, how are we going to use it?'

'That would be a thing that we would have to work out. Anyway, you cannot possibly have a chance of that without it, can you?'

Mel nodded again. They didn't speak for a few moments.

'We'll be leaving now' Tei'jal said as both of them stood up.

'What?' Mel exclaimed. 'Can't you stay for the night?'

'That wouldn't be wise. We don't have much time. Me and Galahad are going to Harburg and try to find any information we get about the orbs. Either way, staying here would only make you easier to find'

Mel didn't like it, but had no choice.

'Be careful, lamb. Don't let anyone get you, cause I'm in line first' Tei'jal said, her smile slightly sly. Galahad glared at her. They looked at each other for another second, before Tei'jal opened the window. One after the other, they jumped out, leaving Mel standing, still a bit confused and very cold.

It was no more than a couple of minutes later that someone nodded feebly on the door. Warily, knife in one hand, she opened the door an inch.

'What are you doing here?' she said, surprised, opening the door fully. It was Stella. 'Shouldn't you be resting? Come in, anyway, the night is not safe'

Stella staggered in. She was limping a bit, but looked much better. Her face was pale and she looked drained from the walk.

'I'm sorry' she said softly, sitting on the chair, wrapping the cloth she was carrying around herself securely. 'I couldn't help but overhear your conversation'

'You were eavesdropping' Mel said angrily. 'I could kill you for that!'

'Please don't!' she said. 'I couldn't help it. I think I'm involved too!'

Mel frowned. The girl was obviously lying.

'The last thing I just remembered was being chased' Stella said. 'Now I think vampires are behind me too'

'How do you know?' Mel asked, unbelieving.

'There was a man, who was the leader. I don't remember much, but that something happened. Then I fell. He was wearing a red dress'

That last sentence froze Mel, almost about to interrupt. The first and the last time she had seen him, Gyendal had indeed been wearing a red cloak. She frowned and tried to make sense of it.

'That's likely...' she said finally.

'I'm sorry?' Stella said, confused.

'It looks like you are a descendent of Mordred Darkthrop as well. That explains a bit, though not the fact that you fell, unless he was trying to kill you. That's sounds odd though, cause he'd like to use you rather than kill...'

'So I was thinking' Stella said, nodding. 'Why don't we go together to the place? Maybe it'll help me remember my past too!'

Mel turned away. The war raging inside her head was unpleasant. She could either take Stella with her and have an additional burden, or she could refuse, creating the ideal opportunity for her to warm up to Edward. The first option sounded better, but Mel really hated having someone to look after.

'Fine!' she said turning around. 'This on the condition that you are to tell no one about this'

'Thank you!' she said happily. She really did look innocent. 'Do we set off tomorrow'

'Yes! And don't be late!' Mel said bossily. 'Be careful as you go back to the temple. Again, the night is not safe'

Her face fell. She was probably hoping to stay for the night in the cozy flat. She quickly made it up though with a smile and slipped out of the door without another word. Mel locked it securely again, making sure this time that no one was around.

She turned off the lamp. Now really alone, she was feeling rather jumpy. A small sound made her think the worst. It was some time, as a result, before her eyes turned hazy and she finally fell asleep.

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'I'll make it' Mel tried to convince herself. Being true, she felt nervous and insecure, not to mention afraid. She had no idea where she was going, how she was going to survive and what would happen even if the remote possibility of succeeding in the mission.

The sky outside was blue, and she had already dressed up in her outdoor dress. A small rucksack filled with her meager belongings was lying near the door. She had packed up her clothes, some food, a few bottles of water and most important, the small pile of gold she had gathered over the last year. Little of her daily use things would stay in the flat, which she owned, being a student.

She sighed and locked up the room. The best possible start would be to meet Stella at the gates, which wasn't very comforting. The rest was mostly luck and maybe a bit of help.

Thais was exactly like the day she had first entered the city. The same people, houses, trees and roads. The city had given her a lot. It had not only increased her standard of living to a level never before, but it had given her the desire to live. Never before had she felt so vital.

Edward. She couldn't possibly tell him she was leaving, least anyone else she could think of. Lydia would be pleased, probably, seeing her out of the way. It was careless, not to mention treacherous on her part, especially after she had just discovered his biggest secret. Edward-

'Are you crazy?' someone yelled in her ear.

'What?' Mel turned, slightly dazed.

'You'll make it about five miles before your feet start bruising, maybe ten before you are attacked by a pack of wolves. Badly injured, you'll go fifteen when you are attacked by robbers and you'll be dead before you can crawl your way back to Thais, regretting you ever set out!'

(Double sorry: One for delay, other for extremely short post :P)

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It was Edward, Mel saw dazedly. She tried to fathom how he had come to know everything, just before she saw Stella looking at her nervously.

'You!' Mel yelled at her, completely ignoring Edward's protests. 'I told you to keep quiet!'

'I really...' Stella said in a small voice.

'Don't say you're sorry!' she yelled, advancing on her. 'You are completely untrustworthy! How could you ever tell someone when I trusted you enough to let you know in the first place!'

Stella backed off as Edward blocked Mel.

'Listen to me, Mel!' he protested over the shouting. 'You have no plan. Accept it!'

Mel stopping shouting, still angry. Edward had hit a painful nerve.

'Let me in on this' he said. 'You know yourself that you are no fighter. You really need me. Besides, you can't go far walking!'

They didn't speak for a moment. Mel shot a murderous glance at Stella. Edward was, unfortunately, right - something she hated. She turned away from him. This was not happening.

'Alright' she said turning again, stammering towards the end. She had meant to reject his offer.

'Good!' he said, relaxing. 'So now tell me where we are going and why'

'We're going to Naylith' she said, cursing herself. 'You don't need to know why'

'Mel...' He looked at her, eyebrows raised. 'Are you sure you have to go to Naylith?'

'Absolutely. Why?'

'I'm not sure you're going to walk to Naylith so easily' He seemed to laughing slightly.

'I'm sure' Mel said firmly.

'Then tell me why you want to go there'

'Let me rephrase that' she said glaring at him. 'You don't want to know why!'

He looked at her carefully. She looked extremely serious. Slowly, he nodded, his face still having the slight smile that irritated Mel.

'I surely don't want to miss this now. Okay then!' he clapped. 'Here's the plan. We can each take a bag of food and three bottles of water for one. We can refill on our way, so it wouldn't want us slowed by weight. I'll be meeting my parents about this and ask them to lend me three horses. Now, can you ride?'

'Yes' Mel said, slightly disconnected. It was true. No one could complete a year under Gray without learning almost everything.

'Can you?' he said, turning to Stella.

'No, I never did' she said meekly. Edward frowned.

'That could be an issue. Are you sure you want to come?'

'She comes!' Mel said automatically, still hating her. Stella smiled like a child and hugged her. Edward scratched his head.

'Okay, then you'll have to ride behind me, though that makes one less bag of food. I'll take another horse with us behind, though...'

'We'll ride together' Mel said stiffly. 'I've ridden like that before'

'Okay...' he said, looking at her warily. 'Then I guess I should talk to my parents now. Maybe you can come too! Mel, I think you must tell professor Gray too'

She nodded. Gray was someone who needed to know this.

'Maybe I'll do that first' she said. 'Then we can go and meet your parents together'

'I'd really like to know the reason, though' he said, the smile returning. 'I can see no reason for you to suddenly work this all out in one night'

'Maybe, when the time is right...' she said vaguely.

Edward shook his head in despair.

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'Professor, I won't be able to attend class for a while' she said without any fuss. Gray looked up from his usual posture, his eyebrows ever slightly raised.

'And what reason would you give for that?' he asked, cool as ever. Mel hadn't expected this. It would have been easier to handle a burst of anger. Somehow, Gray was always his own calm self, whatever happened. Over the year, she had developed a respect for him that no other commanded.

'Ugh...' she stammered. 'I am... I...'

'Alright' he said, looking at her piercingly. 'I may as well presume that it is something you don't wish to let me know'

'No, I mean...' she tried again. He raised his hand, his eyes closed. Mel stopped abruptly.

'No use trying to force something out when you don't want to tell it!' he said cheerfully. 'I think I can safely assume that it must be something of certain importance, for you are not one who would easily leave'

Mel smiled sheepishly. He stood up and looked out of the lone window. For a moment, she thought he had excused her. A second later, however, he turned to her again.

'Nevertheless' he continued. 'I must ask you to continue on one assignment'

Mel waited, a bit anxious. She would probably have a tough time, completing whatever assignment he asked her to do, not to mention rather unnecessary in her given situation.

'Wherever you go, you must continue your training' he said. 'The crux of being a real professional is to continue training as long as you live. A real professional never says that he can accomplish any mission. Whenever you encounter one, be ambiguous, for you know naught about what may happen'

He was looking at her keenly. She nodded whenever he stopped, relaxing as he spoke. He leaned onto the table and looked at her carefully.

'I do have some idea what you might be up to, and I can tell you this: Be confident, be spirited and be calm. Above all, have your friends with you, for they shall be the ones who shall guide you in the face of despair'

Mel instinctively turned towards the door, outside which Edward and Stella were waiting. She turned back quickly.

'Look out for help when you can, but be careful. There could be many who would want to sabotage your mission's odds, and I speak not of what you're doing now, but things you'll do in the future. Trust no one, except the chosen few who have earned your trust by deeds, not words. Be alert all the time, be the student I've taught, and above all, be yourself. Don't lose your soul to temptations'

He stood up straight.

'Be careful, Mel' he said turning away.

'Yes sir' she said, waiting for a moment. He didn't speak, but looked outside, seeming to be in some sort of trance. Unsurely, she took a couple of steps back. 'Thank you, professor'

He smiled without turning. Careful not to make a sound, she slipped out of the office, strangely feeling a lot better than the early morning.


Sent from my Aqua HD using Aveyond Kingdom

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The king chuckled as Edward finished explaining. Edward looked at him anxiously while Mel and Stella waited in the background.

'He's just like you!' the queen said, smiling.

'Indeed!' the king said. 'You know, son, when I was about your age, I always wished and even did adventure like no one else would have thought. It was always my dream to go to every place on the earth. I see that at least some of my traits have passed on to you!'

Edward smiled.

'You'll enjoy this time of yours, and be sure that you do; because never again will it return. Learn from people, about people and foremost, learn to understand them, for this is the crux of being a good ruler, which I'm quite sure you will be'

He nodded.

'Sure, you can go, but let me hand over something that I never told you about first' he said. 'Chancellor! Bring it here!'

The chancellor, an old affable looking man, smiled at the king and went inside. They didn't speak for a few minutes, while Mel fidgeted with her hair. Stella didn't seem impatient, but calm and innocent as always. When he returned, the chancellor was carrying a long sheath, that looked like a sword.

'Here!' the king said, drawing it out. The sword was unlike anything else she had seen. It was simply beautiful, though with no rational reason why it would seem so. 'This is the Excalibur, the lord of all swords, often thought to exist only in stories. This is no mere sword, for you can change it according to what you are. Only he, who is pure, can use it to the fullest of its power. Gemstones have a great effect on its abilities, but I'll leave the rest for you to find'

Edward took the sword, his eyes gleaming. Grinning, he put it in his own scabbard, handing the old iron sword to the chancellor.

'Thank you, father!' he said. The king chuckled again and gave him a pat.

'Make me proud, son!' he said, smiling. 'And don't lose it!'

'I won't' Edward said, grinning.

'Edward!' the queen said suddenly. 'Do something for me too'

'Yes?' he said, as she froze for a moment looking at Mel and Stella. She turned back to him.

'Find yourself a wife' she said, smiling, though sounding rather strict.

'Yes, mother' he said, slightly turning red.

They bowed and left, with Edward keeping a slight bit of distance from them. Mel felt glad: at least Stella was on her other side!

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'Go a bit easy!' Mel said irritably as Stella grabbed her forcefully, the nails sinking into her waist.

'I'm sorry!' Stella said, her voice shaky as Mel steered the horse out of the pit she had just driven it into. 'I've never ridden anything before'

Mel scowled. She wished she had left her in Thais itself. Not only had she no real proof that Stella was actually being chased by vampires, but she was nothing more than a slow down while traveling. It wasn't that Mel wanted to go any faster, but the journey itself had become uncomfortable.

They had been riding right along the path that led to the north of Thais for the last five hours and Mel felt glad that Edward was with them. He had sound knowledge about the roads, passes and even about several cross roads that he claimed led straight into traps. He rode better than her too, something no one could possibly blame her for. Their breathing had turned harsh and Mel was drenched with perspiration.

'Let's stop here for a while!' she called out to Edward, who was waiting a little distance ahead. Without waiting for an answer, she got down from the horse and tied it to a nearby tree.

'I must say you did well' Edward said, getting down himself. He tied up his horse beside Mel's and threw a bit of water on it's head. 'That is, for a first time long rider, at least!'

'Where have you been to before?' Mel asked, washing her face with water. It was quite cool, unlike she had expected in the harsh sun.

'Not too many' he said, looking through the bags. 'I have been to Stormbend once, it's a sea shore town; then there is the kingdom of Candar, once glorious like Thais; then some other places too, like Naedor that you wouldn't hear of so often and, of course, Tar Vedron. You know the princes who had...'

'I know that!' she said, nodding. 'That's quite far, isn't it?'

'Yeah, it actually is. You've got to go by a ship, something that I'm not really inclined to, but it is rewarding. Complete desert, but beautiful! The people are awesome, like all kinds of magic stuff, fighting competitions and all that!'

She nodded again, not very interested. She had started on a loaf of bread, taking huge chunks.

'So what about you, Stella?' Edward asked. Mel almost jumped. She had completely forgotten about her. Stella was quietly standing behind her, the bright hair gleaming in the light.

'I... I don't know...' she said, looking sad again. 'I can't remember anything except being ch...'

She stopped abruptly as Mel glared at her.

'Except falling' she said hastily. 'Nothing before that...'

Edward looked at her, then at Mel and again at her.

'Alright, I'll believe that!' he said loudly. Stella looked as if someone had just accused her of murder. Mel looked at her sternly again.

They finished a little more of their supply of food in silence, before lying down on the rough ground, thinking they'd leave in a few minutes. Her back ached, rather badly, and the ground felt like heaven. Within seconds, she was snoring.

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They didn't ride as fast as the morning when they started again. The scenery had hardly changed, but Mel was sure they had traveled a good distance. Most of her body had turned rather numb and the occasional knocks the horse gave felt nothing. The sun was somewhere nearby the horizon when Edward suggested they stop at a village they had come by. Without much thought, Mel obliged.

The night in the nameless village passed quietly. People in these parts were general a merry and slow going folk. Guests were rare, so they didn't mind asking them many a question. Edward avoided mentioning his rank, Mel avoided much talk altogether while Stella didn't really have much to talk. They spent the night in the local inn, not wanting to take advantage of anyone's hospitality. The inn was mediocre at best, for again, not many people usually came in those parts. The night was uneventful, and they woke up to find their horses fresh and fed by their host. Still sleepy, they set off just after the crack of dawn.

The scenery changed rapidly today, as they steadily moved northward, nearing the border of the kingdom of Thais. The foliage had become sparse, but greener, and they did have difficulty finding shadowy trees. The frequent lakes that appeared near Thais had completely vanished and the terrain had become steadily rockier and sloping upwards. Their horses tired quickly in the burning sun, and they had to stop more than once through the day.

Stella, Mel discovered, was actually quite a pleasant person, unlike her mind had set herself. She was innocent, careful and above all, easily afraid, perhaps due to her lack of knowledge of her past. Mel had started to wonder again whether the falling comet really had been her, for she no longer doubted much that Stella had told her. Somehow, she didn't feel like a person who would lie, and anyway, what could possibly be the motive?

They rode through the day, wondering at the strength of the horses. They were very near to the border now and more than once were they held by the soldiers of Thais. The particular area they were in was a dense forest, not as dense as Harburg, but denser than Thais. It had been a surprise for Edward too, for generally, the forest thinned in this direction, like their experience had been till now. Still frowning, he got down. It was almost night, and only a few patches of blue could be seen in the sky.

'We'll stop here' he announced. 'I guess this is the first time you're camping, right?'

'No' Mel said, slightly irritated. Edward was again speaking like a know-it-all. Stella on the other hand, nodded, looking around fearfully.

They set up their small, but important fire in the middle of a nearby clearing. The roads were not developed in these parts, so there was no choice of staying close to civilization. The forest besides the fire was pitch black, though the crescent moon did shine a bit of white light. The forest was quiet, a bit too quiet for her liking. Edward had lit a torch, fixing it in the ground. About an hour later, when her eyes had become droopy, Edward suddenly turned back.

Slowly, carefully he scanned the trees. Not looking back, he tried to get to the torch, almost burning his hand. Carefully, slowly he again looked through the trees in the dim light.

'Mel' he whispered. Before he could call again, she was wide awake, so was Stella. There was a slight ruffling sound, that of movement. Several dangerous things were known to lurk in the forest, and Mel hoped it wasn't one of them. They waited, eyes wide open for a minute. A rabbit suddenly jumped out, ran the length of the clearing, and disappeared into the forest.

Mel breathed out. Edward had become jumpy for no reason. He continued to stare at the trees for a few more seconds and then turned back, putting the torch back into the ground.

A swift sound of movement, grinding of metal, a scream and a bright flash of light. It all happened before she knew it. Edward was on his feet, the Excalibur gleaming in the moonlight, stained with blood. The corpse of the beast lied on the ground, decapitated. The wild wolves, often called Wrants, were known to be fierce, but Mel had no idea that it would be so huge. It probably could have eaten her whole. But that wasn't the only intriguing part.

Besides the corpse lay the body of another. This one was almost five feet from Edward but looked it fallen, unconscious. Stella was standing, her hand still pointing at the wolf. She looked shaky and the color was drained from her face.

'Who did that?' Edward asked, he himself looking slightly afraid. The question didn't need to be answered. Looking at them with wide eyes, he sprinted to the body and examined it.

'It's alive' he said, his nose wrinkled at the smell. Carefully, he ran his hand over the thick fur. 'Why didn't you tell us?'

The question was obviously intended for Stella.

'I...' she looked at them close to tears, one after the other. 'I swear, I didn't know'

They softened. She was, obviously, telling the truth.

'Well, then it's good we could find it' Edward said, grinning. 'It could be of use to us!'

'But what did you do?' Mel asked.

'I...' she stammered again. 'It jumped out, so I... don't... that's it...'

They looked at each other.

'I think you must be of the healer's clan' Edward said, nodding. 'The specific spell you used, which happens to be "sleep", is a distinguished characteristic of theirs'

Stella nodded, unsure of the implications. They didn't speak for a few seconds.

'Well, I'll just say, don't be too keen to show it to everyone around' Edward said gravely. 'Sorcery is not well taken in these parts, unlike foreign lands. Only trained magic is considered acceptable, likes of which are taught only in the academy. Uncontrolled magic is often considered witchcraft, which has bad consequences, and I'm not looking forward to something like that...'

She nodded again, looking afraid as usual.

'Don't get freaked out though, I think it's all good!' he said, suddenly joyful, as if nothing had happened. 'Today's a good day. A real kill, Stella discovering herself and... I don't know anything for you...' He looked at Mel, who scowled.

'Let's move somewhere else' she said. 'I don't fancy sleeping in a pool of blood'

'Trust me' Edward said grimly. 'None of us do'

He bent down and cleanly killed the other wrant.

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This is super awesome stuff man!!! I bet you are professional. I haven't reached end yet because I was not on site for many days, but it is really good. I will try to finish it soon.

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This is totally rad! I found this yesterday while ghosting the forums and this especially caught my attention. IDK if anyone has done such a serious attempt at writing Aveyond before... And you've already progressed a lot (it took me some time to read through from the start!). Keep up the fast updates and kudos! :D

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Thanks!!!!! :D

Sorry for not updating since few days, it's a bad story. Actually, I had written much ahead but accidentally I forgot it on my home PC, which I can't access now (I'm not in my home town) :( Now I'll ask someone to send it to me or if it takes too long, I'll do it over again.

Glad you enjoyed :D

 

Sent from my Aqua HD using Aveyond Kingdom

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