Kurei didn't let go of Kazuki's neck until they entered the Court Yard, which seemed to be a huge dome with a bubble-esque top. Kurei opened the door of the dome and entered, Kazuki following right behind her. The door closed and Kazuki jumped at the sudden sound. There wasn't a soul in the dome and he was scared to pieces.
"So," Kurei began, "The basics of our fighting. Her in our land we fight with weapons that come from the heart. We don't know what kind of weapon it will be until we summon it, so I want you to do that first. I won't know how to train you until I know what you can do."
She saw that Kazuki looked completely puzzled and she rolled her light green eyes. "Watch me. Maybe that will help you."
The red headed girl closed her eyes and placed her hands over her heart. She took a deep breath in and released it. Her fiery brow furrowed and a light engulfed her hands. She threw her arms down and assumed her stance. When the light died, there were bladed tonfa on her arm. The handles in her hands were black and the blades that ran along her outside are were a milky silver color. They gleamed in the light that drizzled through the bubble. She spun them around several times and seemingly danced with them as her feet entered the movement as well. She was a cyclone of blades and danger, weaving her way around Kazuki to show him her stuff. It was no wonder that despite a young age she was leader of the most dangerous group in Borderland. She exhaled and tensed her arm muscles. Light once again engulfed her arms. This time the light went back into her heart instead of coming out of it. She opened her green eyes and peered at Kazuki.
"Your turn," She said simply.
"What? No. I couldn't possibly summon a weapon like that. I'm just a weak boy and-" Kurei walked up to her pupil and politely kicked him square in the shin. Kazuki doubled over in pain, crying out. She grabbed him by the front of his shirt nevertheless and glared evilly at him.
"Now you listen here, you worthless bag of skin. My dad died to protect this land. Usagi and Kiana's parents died and Usagi sacrificed her hands and legs trying to save them. It's time to look beyond your own problems, little boy. There's a war going on and you gave your word to Usagi that you would do your best to vanquish the Red Queen. There's no going back on your word. If you wanted to quit you should have never agreed to come with her. No wonder you get picked on at your school. You're a waste of space." She threw him on the ground and began to walk away.
Kazuki lay on the ground, ashamed, hurt and beginning to see red. Memories flashed through his mind. Images of him being beaten up by Shoutaro and his gang. Images of his father telling him he would never be good enough to be called his son. Images of his mother shaking her head in disappointment. Kazuki pulled himself off the ground and stood up tall.
"I am not a waste of space," he growled.
Kurei turned around and looked at her pupil. He was angry, that was good. "I'm sorry, what was that, you disgrace of a being?" Kazuki began to approach her slowly, a red light beginning to pulse at his heart.
"I. Am not. A waste. Of space."
Her green eyes glistened maliciously and summoned her tonfa.
"Then show me," she whispered, a wicked grin playing on her shapely lips.
Kazuki roared and rushed towards her. He placed his hands on his heart as she had and ripped them away. Two queer looking short swords entered his hands. One was sapphire blue and the other was ruby red. Neither was very pointed and both were very dull. This kid's fast Kurei thought. She assumed position and threw her arms in front of her face just in time to block his attack. Surprisingly strong too.Kazuki kept applying pressure with his blue sword and with his red tried to stab Kurei's ribs. She kicked him in the lower stomach, knocking the air out of him. He fell back, breathless, but held his ground. He switched his handling on the blue blade so it matched that of her tonfa and charged again. He aimed to slice at her head with his blue sword. She ducked skillfully and Kazuki smirked, raising his left knee to catch her jaw. She matched his speed and launched herself back, taking to the air and landing gracefully on her feet.
"It'll take more than that to get me, moron. Try again!"
They fought until Kazuki was out of breath. One would think running for your life would give you amazing stamina, and it did, but being a squad leader apparently made you a god in speed, strength and stamina. Kazuki dropped to his knees, panting heavily. The swords disappeared and his heart's light flashed.
"Not too shabby for your first time fighting. Sit down. We're done for the day." He leaned back until his butt graced the ground and could look Kurei in the eye. "So about your two little swords. I'm rather surprised you have them. You see the warrior of prophecy is supposed to have one larger sword as opposed to the toothpicks you have today. It's called the vorpal sword. It's said that it can vanquish any foe before it and wipe out entire army if its wielder so chooses. A very curious thing indeed if you're supposed to be him. But that's the least of our worries right now. You show a lot of promise, Kazuki. You really do. I just worry about how you summon your swords. What did you feel when you summoned them today?"
"Right. You felt rage. Rage is a no-no on the battlefield. If you're angry it blinds you to your opponent's attacks. You can't see or think straight and your thoughts become a big muddled mess."
"So what… should I do?"
"What you should do, rookie, is stick with me. I'll take you from a pawn to a knight in no time at all."
The two trained from the moment they arrived in the bubble until Borderland's two moons rose in the sky and the door to the dome opened. A man entered the dome and his heels clicked on the hardwood floor. "Lady Kurei, Sir Kazuki, her Majesty requests your presence in the Great Hall." He stepped into the moonlight so they could see who it was. Blue smoke drifted lazily into the air above him. It matched his blue hair. His meticulous black eyes watched them both lazily and a black cigarette hung from his lip. He was tall and well built, but not overly so. He donned a light blue tunic and black pants that clung to his thighs. He wore dark leather boots and a dark blue cape on his shoulders.
"Alright, Lord Ass-kiss. Kazuki and I will change and be there in a few minutes."
The blue haired man took a drag from his cigarette and let out a large puff of smoke. "Listen, you under developed runt," Kurei bristled at that comment, "Just because you want me to bed you doesn't mean you should allow your mouth to run farther than your brain. I'll be taking Sir Kazuki to his room to change because you women, if one could call you that, take forever to change. Besides, I want to get to know our champion a little better." He offered a hand to Kazuki and hauled him up. "Follow me, good Sir. I'll take you to your rooms. Monkeys such as the Hatter you're training with aren't allowed in the posh end of the castle."
Kurei fumed silently and nodded to the blue haired man. "Let him take you. You need to learn anyway and it'll take him the entire walk to explain his purpose. He likes to listen to himself speak. Even though it sounds like a dying animal to us he seems to find some kind of musical merit in his tone."
"Why madam, that's the nicest compliment you've paid me all week. Report to the Great Hall in fifteen minutes. Farewell, darling. Come along, Kazuki, we need to get you changed." The redhead cursed a storm at the blue haired man as they departed the dome. The blue haired man chuckled to himself and sighed. "I like to rile her up too much. By the way, Sir Kazuki, my name is Azalus, not ass-kiss. You can refer to me as Lord Azalus as lord is my rank. You're new so your rank is "sir". It's customary to call people by their titles while in Court. Men go by rank and all women are called Lady except for her majesty and Kurei. Kurei you can call sir." Azalus explained this in one breath and then took a deep drag from his cigarette. He let the smoke drift from his lips as he exhaled, enjoying the pretty patterns it made in the moonlight. "By the way I'm the Captain of the CP division. It stands for the CataPillar division. We specialize in infiltration, scouting and fortification." He dropped his cigarette and stamped it out with his leather boot. He entered the nearest tower and beckoned for Kazuki to follow suit.
"On the third floor are three rooms, all with plaques so you can remember which room is yours. I will be on the second floor so if you need anything you know where I am. Though I would prefer you didn't bother me while I'm sleeping." Kazuki nodded as they reached the third floor. They passed the first door and the second and headed for the end of the hallway. Sure enough on the door was Kazuki, Knight M.H.D. "Ugh," Azalus gagged, "You're already one of them? I'm so sorry. It seems like a punishment to have to work with those goons."
"Those Goons?" Kazuki asked.
"Yes, goons. The Mad Hatter Division. It seems you impressed Kurei earlier today. Or she requested you before she even knew your skills. Congratulations, she put faith in you. She seldom takes such risk so you should be honored, in a sick kind of way." He pushed open the door and allowed Kazuki to enter his bedroom first. The walls were a sage green and his bed sheets were a mud brown. His room was rather large for one person. There was a spacious bed, a small writing desk, a bookshelf filled with books and a wardrobe. Azalus opened his wardrobe and analyzed it with one eyebrow raised. "A pity," he mused before looking back, at Kazuki, "No blue. These will have to do."
He ripped a red dress shirt and gray slacks from the closet and threw them haphazardly on the bed. He pulled black dress boots from the bottom of the wardrobe and threw a black tie onto the bed as well. Last but not least he threw a black fedora on top of it all. "You're a hatter now," he said, "So you have to look the part."
Kazuki furrowed his eyebrows as he fingered his clothes. "Do I really have to wear dressy clothes?"
Azalus raised a blue eyebrow in confusion. "Of course you do. You might be a Hatter, but I'll be dead before I let one of my charges walk out of here in sweaty clothes to a dinner party with a queen. And not just any queen, my Queen. Now go change. We only have so much time."
Kazuki nodded and began to change his clothes quickly. As he buttoned his shirt and zipped up his pants he observed Azalus. The man was so gaudily dressed but since he was a leader like Kurei he had to be powerful. He asked him why he dressed so and Azalus laughed in response. "Because, Sir, I like to look different. And I look great in leather, wouldn't you agree?" The blue haired man grabbed the fedora from Kazuki's hands and shoved it on his head. The two laughed companionably and left for the Great Hall.
Upon entering such a large space Kazuki froze. He was never good at talking to people and this was terrifying. Hundreds of people sat at oak tables, tea cups and beer glasses in hand. Very few people turned when the two males entered. Those who did bowed their heads in respect. Kazuki and Azalus did the same. They came to stop at the large ornate table at the front of the room. Azalus held up a hand for Kazuki to stop and walked over to a plump white haired girl. He leaned over and whispered something to her. She rose quickly, knocking into the table and spilling a few drinks, and rushed over to Kazuki. Her light blue eyes sparkled in the light and grabbed his hand.
"Hello, Sir Kazuki! How're you? I am Shira, the White Queen as they say. Though I am still ever so young I don't know why they call me that…" She grabbed her plump face in plump hands and squeezed lightly. A blush painted her pale cheeks and she giggled girlishly. "Please, sit next to me as we eat. We're eating in your honor, after all!" She grabbed Kazuki by the hand and led him to the open spot on her left. On her right was Usagi and next to her was Kurei. Kazuki sat next to the queen and Azalus sat next to him. Queen Shira remained standing and flung her pudgy arms out before her.
"Honored guests and most loyal subjects, we have been at war for nearly a decade! Lives have been lost, villages burned, hope destroyed. But now, thanks to a stroke of good fortune from the gods, a new champion has arrived. Kazuki Sakoshi, everyone!" Applause and cheers erupted from every sector an speck of the room. He could feel himself turn beet red as he stood, knocking over his chair, and bowed. Laughter followed behind as the young Hatter bowed and smacked his head against the table. Embarrassed, he pick up his chair and sat back down, trying to no avail to hide behind his water.
"Let the feast commence!"
Trumpets sounded and fanfare filled the room. Food was brought out from every doorway of the room and placed at various tables. Every food imaginable filled the table Kazuki sat at and his eyes opened widely. He had never seen so much food! Queen Shira sat beside him and curtly tucked a napkin into the collar of her dress. "Messy eater," she explained. Kazuki nodded and placed his napkin on his lap, following Azalus's example.
"Sir Kazuki, do you know why you're here?"
The boy stared blankly at the Queen as he gulped a bite of blue fruit he placed on his plate. It was fantastic, being both bitter and sweet at the same time. "Because I'm supposed to fight for you, or something like that."
"Or something like that," the Queen cooed, "Kazuki, in this land of Borderland there is much oppression from the Red Queen. She is a nasty and vile woman, deciding to kill instead of reason. She is evil and wicked, stopping at nothing to get that which she desires. You, Sir Kazuki, are here to save us. Since the beginning of our time in Borderland there has been a prophecy passed down from generation to generation. It tells of a dark time of death and oppression for Borderland and a war between all the lands."
She dabbed lightly at her very pink lips and continued.
"It's said that no land would go untouched, including yours. A Sir Carroll came from your world and told my family this long ago. He said that a man, a boy really, would come and save us with a magical purple sword embedded with power we could never possibly fathom. So we waited in tranquility. Up until my parents reign everything was peaceful. No wars, famines, floods or anything of the like. It was paradise. Then the Red Queen usurped her father's throne by poisonous means and all turned terribly. She began a war with Borderland and even attempted fighting Island, but no one has found Island in decades due to the powerful current that carries it to and fro the Pool of Tears."
She burped this time and blushed lightly.
"Oops! Oh my! Full of bubbles I see. Anyway, that is where you come in, Kazuki. You are our hero. You have to be. Usagi was destined to choose one hero, and the hero she chose was to be our champion. You were chosen, ergo you are our champion. But, I am a kind ruler. I will allow you to say yes or no in this matter. I will not force you to fight. What do you say, Kazuki?"
Kazuki's fork dropped from his hand. He stared into the blue pits of the Queen's eyes. They had all mentioned something about a prophecy and such but I didn't believe them. I mean a prophecy? That person could have been anyone. It didn't have to be me. Why was it me? What makes me so special?
The Queen laughed daintily and handed Kazuki his fork.
"Don't choose now. Stay awhile. I promise that while you are in my country no harm will come upon you. Well, no harm besides those received in training. Please take some time and think on this proposition."
Kazuki nodded but put down his fork.
"Yes M'lady. If you don't mind, may I be excused? I have had a very long day today and I want to sleep above all else."
She nodded and squeezed his hand. "I understand. Sleep well and I will see you some time tomorrow."
Kazuki nodded and placed his napkin on his half full plate. He scooted gracefully from his chair and pushed it in just as gracefully. He nodded to guards at the exit and stepped into the night air, filling his lungs for what felt like the first time all evening.
Azalus replaced Kazuki and leaned into Queen Shira.
"We don't have all the time in the world, Lady. Are you sure it is wisest to give him time to think on this? My scouts tell me that the Red Queen has assembled her ranks and intends to unleash them into Borderland territory in a matter of days. It is wisest to act now. Usagi leaned in as well, taking over for her sister.
"Azalus, what if I told you to go to Underland and become an accountant?"
"A what, Lady Usagi? I'm sorry but I'm afraid I don't understand the question."
"It's a treasurer, someone who balances the money of someone else. Making you go to Underland and become an accountant is the same as asking Sir Kazuki to become a warrior for a land that he didn't even know existed until this very morning."
Azalus nodded knowingly and the Queen sighed.
"Yes, but we only have so much time. I'll give him two weeks to be trained and decide. Just two weeks. If he is undecided in that time we move the troops out without him and fight this war alone."
"What happens then?"
"Then, Usagi," she sighed with tears at her eyes, "We go down giving the best fight we have ever fought in the history of Borderland. I just hope it doesn't come to that."
"Don't worry, sister," Usagi said as she held her sister's hand in hers, "It won't. Have faith, Shira. Just... have faith."
As I promised, a new chapter by the end of the week. Hope you guys are doing well and, as always, thank you for reading. The next chapter will have more fighting and action, I promise. And, as you've seen thus far, I'm good at keeping my promises. I'm not entirely sure when it'll be up, but most definitely by next week. More than likely it will be this weekend though. thank you for reading and I hope you have a great weekend! Fare thee well Readers! Have a good night!