Prologue

The starless night sky gazed at the dark greenery sleeping beneath it. Trees began to sway lightly with the autumn wind as a whippoorwill flew straight into the howling darkness. The moon however, found itself entangled amongst the branches as its light penetrated past the shield of leaves. The branches creaked as the wind rushed past it with a swirl of leaves ascending into the sky.

The raven crowed.

A foul stench permeated the air as the white light reflected sadly off against the bloodied stones. Dried blood slowly chipped off into brittle dust and pieces as the grass beneath drank the crimson liquid. A body lay in the middle of the forest as gray stones stared back lifelessly towards the starless night sky. Blood pooled beneath the body as its tanned skin bore new angry red marks. White mucous discharge stained its legs as its body remained naked in the middle of the darkness. Its long auburn red tresses soaked up the muddy ground and blood while it remained completely motionless on the ground. A stump of where its left arm used to be continued to bleed as the night increasingly became colder with every chilling breeze.

The raven crowed.

Amongst the shadows, a glimmer of yellow teeth revealed itself. "Quite a specimen you have here, Maestro."

A deep chuckle echoed throughout the darkness as a young man stepped into the moonlight. He tossed back his long black tresses as his clothes seemingly fell off, causing him to position himself over the body. A devilish smile crossed his lips as he began to trace his hand against the cheek.

"She truly is quite the specimen, isn't she," he licked her collarbone with much satisfaction, moaning inwardly. "With a heart of gold, who knew events would turn out this way? Her smile could cause any one of us to shudder. Her auburn red hair billowing in the wind with her chrome silver eyes glimmering with innocence... Ah, she was the beauty of it all!"

Once more, the raven crowed.

Rubies soon started glitter amongst the darkness along with yellow teeth. The unsettling silence soon found itself replaced with the sneering and mocking laughter of many as creatures emerged from the darkness. The body remained completely paralysed on the ground as the moon continued to illuminate the girl's body. Her tanned skin glittered with the wet substance covering her as the Maestro's vermillion red eyes gazed lustfully at the smaller body. He ran his fingers through her hair as he could feel his body harden at the tension.

"Tonight, I will satisfy myself," he smiled inwardly to himself as he licked her earlobe.

Before he could do anything however, a branch cracked in a distance. He immediately swivelled his head towards one of the directions and found a hooded figure in front of him. The creatures all directed his attention to him as he walked forward with his red steel boots glittered under the white moonlight. The clanking of his boots echoed throughout the night as well, causing other creatures to clear a pathway for him.

"Ah, never the one for silent entrances now, were you, Eligor," he chuckled lightly before adjusting his stance. "Do not worry; the feast has only just begun."

The figure did not say anything until one of the creatures suddenly just collapsed to the ground with its head rolling towards the Maestro. Horror clearly etched itself on his face as the head showed an expression of fear. Steel clanked in the distance as the creatures remained completely frozen, falling one after the other. A silver beam directed itself towards the Maestro as he fell down in fear. A whimper escaped him as the figure drew closer.

"Eligor, what is the meaning of this," he howled until a rosary appeared in the said man's hand. "You... you're not Eligor..."

A smile appeared on the hooded figure's lips as it glittered under the moonlight.

"By the glory of He who has created everything, I shall banish thee!"

At that moment, the raven crowed.

Chapter 1

A bright sunbeam greeted the young girl's eyes as she woke up on the bed, jumping up in shock. She shook away the daze before walking towards the bathroom. The air conditioning unit caused the floor to freeze as the girl instinctively jumped onto the rug. With a slight whimper and a pout, she leapt and hopped her way to the bathroom while avoiding the cold spots. She jumped over the furniture before entering the bathroom and landing clumsily on the bathroom rug. Upon entering the bathroom, Hillary immediately picked up her blueberry flavoured toothpaste before humming happily to herself. As she stared at herself in the mirror however, Hillary slowly lost her cheery disposition as she continued staring at herself in the mirror. It had been awhile since she had first arrived but what was that whole image about? Her body trembled as she felt the ice cold air lick her skin as she immediately backed up.

No, she shook her head defiantly. I won't let it stop me! I'll figure it out... eventually...

She shook the thought of it away before cleaning up her face and closing up her blueberry toothpaste. She then darted towards the closets and began pulling out random clothes before pitching pajamas into the hamper. While changing, she suddenly heard a slight knocking on the door.

"Hillary, we have to go," a loud voice came from the other end. "We've got some special assignment today!"

Hillary immediately brightened up and began brushing her teeth in a rush. "Be there in a minute!"

After a few minutes, Hillary slung on a white cloak before running out with a pair of white boots. For a moment, Hillary continued to stare at the bright sunbeam that shone through her window. Birds chirped from the outside as her small potted orchid that glistened with dew sitting by the window sill. She snatched her rosary hanging on her mirror before swinging the door open with a cheerful smile.

"Maximillian, what are you doing here," she grinned, locking the door behind her. "You're awfully early!"

Maximillian shrugged lightly, gesturing her to follow him outside. "Master D'Artagan wants us to head off to a mission and he said only we could do it. Are you up for it, Hilly?"

She grinned cheekily before following after the brown haired male. Hillary glanced back at her room, making sure that she locked it up before following after her partner. She exhaled before checking her left hand with an olive green tattoo of a raven with spread out wings that took form of a woman. A smile appeared on her lips as she cast her gaze towards the decorations. With its old style, renaissance paintings decorated the ceiling with stone pillars holding it up with carvings of angels. Carpets lay out through the hallway as the wood glistened under the small beams of light coming from the indoor garden.

"Hey Hilly, hurry up," Maximillian grabbed her arm before dragging her along. "We can't keep Master D'Artagan waiting!"

Laughing along, Hillary immediately followed after Maximillian until she heard a loud explosion. The whole room visibly shook as the auburn haired female hid behind Maximillian, shivering.

"What did you say?"

"I simply said that you were acting like such a drama king. Who cares about your hood?"

"You should eat your words, spoiled brat!"

"What was that," she blinked incredulously several times, glancing from behind the dark haired male.

Maximillian sighed in defeat, shaking his head. "It's the usual fight between Elliot and Shadow in the morning."

As Hillary exited the hallway, she found two males fighting one another: one shot out a claw underneath his white cloak whereas the other man dodged the darting claw with his black eyes gleaming determinedly. Elliot and Shadow started throwing attacks at one another as the hooded male threw a punch at Elliot's face. The coffee blonde teenager however contorted his body in the air before landing a bicycle kick on Shadow's shoulder. Shadow tumbled back while struggling to maintain his hood before summoning a huge scythe as he slammed it against the ground.

"Get back here, Twinkle Toes," Shadow whirled around to swing his scythe towards Elliot's neck.

Elliot smirked as he sidestepped another decapitating attempt, cart-wheeling away before swinging his arm back to knock down Shadow by the neck. Scythe-wielding male immediately tumbled beneath while performing a scissor lock to throw down Elliot against the ground.

"You stupid brats, do you really have shit for brains," an old voice thundered, causing all the ruckus to immediately stop.

Hillary looked up as Maximillian beamed with pride, blinking and staring curiously. "Who is that?"

"Master D'Artagan rarely comes back since he has council duties but," Maximillian beamed, watching an old man shuffle out. "It's one of those rare times that he manages to come home."

Unlike most old men, Master D'Artagan stood tall at six feet with his cerulean blue eyes still sparkling with much vigour. His arms and body were extremely packed and despite the greying short beard, he looked no older than sixty. He opened his arms towards everyone in the meeting room.

"It's been awhile since I've come back," he bellowed with a huge mischievous grin on his face, snickering at the confused faces of the guild members. "Now, the council has been telling me what kind of ruckus you brats have been doing..."

Hillary swallowed hard before hiding behind Maximillian, preparing for an insane scolding. "Oh no...!"

"Shadow," Master D'Artagan sighed while holding a whole bunch of papers, scanning through many pages. "WHAT POSSESSED YOU TO BLOW UP TWO HARBORS IN ONE NIGHT, STEAL TWENTY BARRELS OF BEER, BRING DOWN THE DIET BUILDING AND WHAT - YOU MANAGED TO ACCIDENTALLY BLOW UP ONE OF THE COUNCIL MEMBER'S CARS!?"

Shadow shrugged nonchalantly before settling down on one of the benches. "Hey, it's not my fault the dude ran all the way there! He didn't wanna stay put and I was trying to keep it cool! The beer - I was running out! It's not my fault that I live on that stuff! The council member just happened to drive by..."

"You shit for brains - Elliot," the old man roared before folding his arms, twitching furiously. "WHAT KIND OF IDIOT CHALLENGES AN ENTIRE BATTALION BY HIMSELF!?"

Elliot chuckled smoothly with a mischievous drawl, folding his arms. "The very epic kind."

"You brats should know better," Master D'Artagan twitched as all the papers suddenly set on fire with a huge grin on his face. "Who cares what the council thinks? Those old coots know nothing of the way how we run Ravencraft! This is our guild and nobody can stop us! We can never become strong if we only listen to their constant whining! Strive and invent, that is the way of Ravencraft!"

The whole guild erupted with a loud cheer as Hillary made her way to the bar, getting a glass. "Maiqui, Anela, you guys came back!"

Anela grinned, running her fingers through her long blonde hair. "Well, the last mission wasn't that hard – right, Maiqui?"

Maiqui nodded enthusiastically, shoving more food into her mouth. "Meep~, that's right!"

Hillary giggled at the sight of the two, remembering the first time she had entered the guild. Maiqui and Anela immediately dragged her across the whole guild and introduced her to everyone. Everyone welcomed her warmly and even threw a big party where she remembered Maximillian drinking a whole keg of beer. Elliot had dared him to do so with a mischievous smirk as if knowing that the Paladin couldn't handle the alcohol in beer. Fair enough, Maximillian nearly began a strip tease much to her horror as Elliot even threw off his shirt only to be disciplined by a young woman wearing dark green armour. Reminiscing for a few moments, Hillary realized that she never knew her name and that she barely stayed in the guild and half the time she was out. People however would cower at the sight of her or even a mention of her name. A nostalgic sigh escaped her as she watched Elliot and Shadow actually get along for a few minutes until she cast her glance towards the request board. She made her way towards it, checking the amount of money offered for each. A frown marred her formerly happy expression as she let out a dejected sigh.

"Oh man, none of them's enough to upgrade my dorm," Hillary began running the numbers through her head. "Here I was thinking to buy that new flail they were selling..."

"That's because you're looking at the wrong board moron," Maximillian snickered as he held up another paper, swishing it in front of her face. "We can even split it down fifty-fifty."

Hillary surveyed the paper as she found a six-digit number for the reward. Her eyes sparkled before grabbing the paladin's arm.

"What are you waiting for then? Let's go!"

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Hillary glanced at the address before looking up at the tall structure in front of them. "So, I'm guessing this is the place?"

Maximillian nodded lightly before walking forward to the doorbell, watching if anyone was around. "Well, the address says this is the place so I guess it is."

The house that stood before them showed more of a mansion like air as the wrought iron gates stood before them with crawling ivy. The walls were decorated with leaves and plants as trees created a makeshift arch in the entrance. A pavilion stood on one side of the garden while a spouting fountain with two angels dancing around declared itself to be the centrepiece. The mansion was held up by nine Greek pillars and coloured white as the golden doors stood before them. A white fountain stood as the garden's centrepiece with a huge hedge of bushes decorating the walls. Several lamps posted themselves at the corners of the door as Maximillian rang the doorbell, tapping his foot for a few moments.

"So, what do you need the money for," Hillary blinked curiously at the dark haired boy as he started fiddling around with his blade.

Maximillian shrugged nonchalantly, tapping his foot on the ground. "To be honest, I just need money to start repairing the pipes in my place. One of the pipes sprung a leak and now I have to make a hole in the wall just to drain the water and give it to the plants. Problem is – it's burning a hole in my wallet. Speaking of which, where are the people?"

The door creaked open slowly, revealing a bespectacled young butler. "Ah, you must be Mr. Salvador and Ms. Cervantes?"

Hillary nodded with a salute, giving him a huge grin. "Yep, that would be us!"

The butler gave them a toothy grin, ushering them in. Hillary and Maximillian took a good look around as they found themselves meeting several statues. The goddess of Love stood at one side along with some busts of heroes. She distinctively recognized her master, Faustus de la Luxure sitting next to another man. A smile of admiration curved up her lips as she followed after Maximillian, noticing the length of the hallway.

"Wow, these guys are loaded," she blinked while surveying around the place. "What do they need us to do anyway?"

"They said something about getting rid of this tyrant of a merchant," Maximillian glanced at the request placed on the guild board, humming to himself. "I'm guessing the perpetrator's a black market member of a crime ring syndicate. Whichever it is, it's our job to nail it down and preserve the peace."

As the two entered the main room, Hillary found herself surrounding by large oil-based paintings and marble furniture. A white gold chandelier hung above the glass coffee table which had a sofa set surrounding it. A wooden cabinet housed a china tea set and plates along with a rosewood box sat quietly on top of a wooden set of drawers. The butler set down a tray full of cookies and tea as Hillary immediately lunged for it only to have Max yank her collar back and settle her back on the chair. She pouted impishly at him as Maximillian sent her a gaze that said "sit down".

"Please have some," a kind elderly voice spoke, causing Maximillian and Hillary to look up.

Maximillian smiled politely, shaking his head. "No thank you. Actually, we're more concerned regarding the request you placed in Ravencraft..."

An old man shuffled in quietly in a well-pressed suit, slowly taking a seat on the fluffy chairs. His salt and pepper hair fell on his face as the wrinkles creased with worry. Next to him, a woman walked alongside him as she stood next to him with a hint of worry and dejection on her face. Unlike the man, she seemed a bit younger in her early forties.

"One of the merchants suddenly raided a dragon's nest," he hung his head with sadness in his eyes. "Oh forgive me; I have forgotten to give you my name! My name is Russell De Cancion. I'm a merchant along these parts. But most of my trade occurs in the city of San Paolo," –gesturing to the woman next to him. "This here is my wife, Arlene de Cancion. Her family is very famous in the city of San Paolo. She's the owner of..."

"Kastelia Gamble," Maximillian interrupted smoothly, folding his arms. "From what I heard, they have high metal ore trading along these parts."

The old woman smiled kindly, seating herself on the arm rest next to her husband. "Ah, it seems you have researched about us before coming here."

Hillary swallowed hard after shoving a cookie into her mouth. "Wait a minute, isn't that illegal?"

"Obviously he would have smuggled it in but, there should be a trace," Maximillian pondered at the information, writing down the details on the request paper. "Have there been any large imports of creatures lately?"

The old man shook his head sadly. "To be honest, there have been many but most of them are legal such as cows, chickens and the usual animals."

"He couldn't have possibly transported a huge dragon," Hillary imagined it her head, nearly spewing out cookie crumbs and waving her arms frantically. "That would be like dragging in a huge volcano!"

Maximillian rolled his eyes before letting out a sigh, leaning against his elbows. "Obviously, they would transport it in its embryonic form. But, even a dragon egg would stand out like sore thumb. The timing would be crucial. Do you have any idea where they import huge cargoes or crates?"

The old man solemnly shook his head. "For this kind of thing, I am not quite sure but San Paolo has a good set of airships that are capable enough of bringing them over."

"We can start there then," Hillary enthusiastically punched the air, standing up immediately until Maximillian pulled down her robe. "Hey!"

The dark haired male glared at his extremely energetic partner, folding his arms with a cross look. "Well for starters, we'd like to know if you have a specific time as to when the dragon's nest was bombed and who piqued interest with it. We can't go throwing the market place into a huge chaotic mess now can we?"

Hillary remained quiet as the old man handed him a paper full of names.

"You might be able to use these in your mission. Hopefully, they can give more information than I can."

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Departing from the old man's house, Maximillian led the way towards the train station in Infini city. People bustled around as the noise coming from the steam engines howled into the air with smoke rising into the bright blue sky. Birds fluttered around as some murmurs and haggling could be heard along the lines. Slowly, the crowds thickened as Hillary jumped into the cabin as Maximillian calmly walked through the halls in search for a set of chairs. The red haired girl immediately began searching the windows as a huge clump of trees slowly went past them along with the screaming of the train whistle.

"So, we're heading to San Paolo to look for a creature importer," she ran things down on her notebook. "That's it? We're not going to kick anybody's butt or anything?"

Maximillian remained completely silent, folding his arms and closing his eyes. He immediately began trying to block out of her hyperactive yapping before slumping deeper into the coach chair. Peeking a bit through his lashes, the Paladin smirked as he noticed an impish pout on her face.

'What do you think," Maximillian scoffed while raking his fingers through his hair.

Hillary stuck her tongue out childishly while punching his shoulder, earning her an "ow". "You meanie, I was just asking!"

"You didn't have to punch me," he rubbed the sore spot on his forearm, wincing slightly. "That was sarcasm!"

"I hate sarcasm," Hillary jumped onto the red velvet cushion, folding her arms with a pout. "Anyhow, where are we heading?"

Maximillian flipped open the piece of paper, scanning it carefully. "Well, according to the paper Mr. de Cancion mentioned the trading ports in San Paolo. We can start with that first. After that, we could check the livestock markets there. Sometimes, people sell dragon meat in place of cow meat since they look the same."

"But don't they have different textures," Hillary innocently tilted her head to the side.

Maximillian shrugged while leaning against the window. "Well, no one would care as long as it would fill their stomach. It's a real difficult world out there."

Silence overwhelmed the cabin once again as only the train's whistling managed to penetrate it. Without any warning, the train jumped before shuddering violent letting out a fatigued groan. A loud explosion thundered outside as the train threw Hillary against the window with Maximillian flying towards the other side. Luggage and bags crashed on the ground as screams and yelps echoed throughout the train cab until the shaking finally came to a stop. Smoke clouded the windows as Maximillian stood up, moving past the fallen luggage. Glass shards littered the ground as the rumbling slowly stopped.

"Hilly, where are you," he coughed a bit, waving away the smoke. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah," Hilly began coughing amongst the dust and dirt flying around, waving it away. "Where are you?"

The Paladin continued walking until he managed to grab something. He blinked several times as he walked towards it, squishing it a bit. As the dust cleared, Maximillian and Hillary found themselves in front of each other with the Paladin holding something that should not be held. Hillary stared at him, completely mortified before becoming completely red.

"AAAAAGH, RAPIST," –with one fell kick, Hillary sent Maximillian sprawling onto the ground.

Maximillian crawled away, rubbing his sore jaw. "The heck was that for? How was I supposed to know I was holding your boobs? You could've screamed or something!"

"Which I just did," Hillary stuck her tongue out impishly. "You could've said something!"

Maximillian rolled his eyes with a sarcastic snort. "What am I gonna say? 'Ooh, soft'! What do you take me for?"

"You're a pervert," Hillary whined before kicking him in the most unfortunate place. "Oh, oops..."

Maximillian winced before lying down on the ground in a crumpled heap. "Ack, critical hit to the nads...!"

Hillary swallowed hard as she blinked several times, unsure of what to say. "Um, I'm sorry?"

"You gotta be kidding," Maximillian gasped heavily, nursing his aching area. "Is everyone alright?"

However, nobody responded as he heard things slowly unsheathe. Silver glints reflected past the dust as Maximillian instinctively drew out his blade as it collided with another weapon. The young paladin withdrew his weapon as he discovered a chain firmly wrapped around it. Black shadows emerged from the dust as Hillary and Maximillian found themselves both surrounded by a gang of bandits. The female cleric slowly drew out her weapon as she mumbled softly, calming her rapidly pounding heart.

Blessings on the head of the upright man!

Violence silences the cry of the wicked. (Proverbs 10, verse 6)

Hillary positioned her rapier in front of her before it started letting out a low humming sound, watching the movement of her attackers carefully. A white light engulfed the thin blade as she lunged forward and cracked another weapon with a mere flick. Maximillian ducked from another attacker swinging his large axe, allowing him to sweep kick him and defend himself from another attack. Soon, another burly man emerged from the scattered dust as he strangled Maximillian with an iron grip. The paladin however forcefully rolled the man off his shoulder with a suplex before slamming the blunt end of his weapon against the man's abdomen.

"Hillary, you alright," he kicked another one away before swinging his axe over.

Hillary leapt over another group of men, entering another fray before completely dispersing them. "Yeah, I'm good!"

Maximillian bit his lower lip anxiously, watching the men attack. They swooped down and nearly took off his legs if not for his high jump kick to another man's face. He watched them lunge towards him group by group and then back up when another would join the carnage. The paladin narrowed his eyes in disgust; these people showed no ordinary sense of coordination. Their eyes easily transmitted messages across and one wrong interpretation could get him and Hillary killed. He inhaled dejectedly in submission; if there was one way he knew how to deal with this, he would have to call.

With that, he closed his eyes while placing his claymore in front of him.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Hi, this is one of my first original stories! XDDD I plan to continue this one as much as I can since the first version of this one seemed so horrible to look at. If you guys want a physical depiction of the characters, let me know and I'll post the art for the characters on Deviant Art. Please don't forget to review~!