Episode 16: Knight Lord
"I still don't get it." The young boy cried to his parents. They were gathered outside the front door. Nathan had a backpack on and a duffle bag. Lukas's mother walked to him and took the bags to place in her car. "Why can't you come with us?!"
Nathan's mother, a beautiful young woman with long, sapphire hair, bent down to his side and placed her hands on his shoulders. "Nathaniel, honey, listen to me closely." She calmly started, keeping a large smile on her face. "You'll be perfectly fine with Ms. Elserin. Your father and I have to take care of some things. We'll try to meet up with you as soon as possible."
Lukas and Nyla slowly approached their friend, keeping a slight distance between them. They saw how upset he was. Lukas watched as his mother placed Nathan's belongings in the trunk of the car and then returned to the front door where the rest of them were gathered.
"O-okay…" Nathan muttered out. His mother leaned forward and kissed him on the check before embracing him. Nathan could feel tears beginning to form in his eyes. They were about to burst any second.
"Be strong my boy." The calm, soothing voice came from Nathan's father. The tall man also bent down to Nathan's side, rubbing his son's messy, dark blue hair. "We'll come back for you. Then maybe we can teach you how to finally beat up Lukas over here." His father grabbed the young boy and playfully put him into a headlock, scratching the top of Nathan's head.
Nathan chuckled, and a smile cracked on his face as his father teased him. The boy caught sight of Lukas standing off to the side and smiled at him.
Upon hearing the incessant ringing of his alarm, the boy quickly sat up in his bed, smacking the clock sitting on his desk. His dark emerald eyes were glued to the clock for a moment before he threw the covers to the side and placed his feet on the ground. "Hey Toran, it's five. Get up already."
There was another small bed a few feet away from his. A young man slowly forced himself from underneath his covers, rubbing one eye while looking around the near pitch-black room. He looked to be slightly older than the eighteen year old. "I'm up kid…" He sat up against his pillows, leaning up on the wall while observing his roommate.
The blue haired boy stood to his feet and walked to the foot of his bed, dropping to the floor. He began doing push-ups on the ground.
"You're something else Nathan…" Toran groaned, jumping out of his bed. He walked past Nathan, who was still on the ground exercising, and headed toward the bathroom door.
Their room was fairly small; the only large things in the room were the two beds and a couple wooden desks. There were a few dumbbells and weights on Nathan's side of the room against the wall.
Nathan simply stared at the ground as he continued pushing himself up and down, focused intensely on his morning workout. Sweat began to roll down from his forehead and dropped to the ground. He placed a knee down before exhaling a large breath. "Phew…" Rushing to his feet, the boy walked over to the front door of their dorm room. He flipped the switch on the wall and the lights immediately came on.
Why do I keep having that dream…? Nathan turned to the desk where his alarm clock was sitting. Next to it was a picture of a beautiful woman with luscious, royal blue hair. She stood next to a man with long black hair, both wearing grins so joyful it made Nathan smile. But he couldn't help but frown suddenly. He grabbed a pair of sweatpants lying on a chair and proceeded to put them on over his boxers.
A few moments later, Nathan along with his friend Toran exited the dorm building through the front entrance. The sun wasn't quiet out yet, but one could tell it was getting close to rising. The two boys were obviously dressed to workout, though they didn't adjust for the freezing cold weather outside.
"Man… another freezing cold day to run on." Toran grimaced as he glanced at the remaining snow on the ground. There actually wasn't much left, and it looked like it had been melting for a while. "Why do you have to have such good habits…?"
Nathan stood to his feet after tying his shoe laces tightly. "We'll get warm after about thirty minutes. I don't mind if you go back and sleep some more though."
"Psh, how will I look if my roommate, a lower ranking officer, is out unremittingly exercising while I'm sleeping?" The man slowly began to walk down the sidewalk, which quickly turned into a jog. Nathan followed suit, running right beside Toran. "I only wish I had your enthusiasm when it came to stuff like this."
"Uh, yea… thanks…"
The two paced around the campus for a good while. It was large with buildings scattered about that obviously held different classes. Fields of grass stretched from one building to the next with winding concrete sidewalks leading to one another. The sun was now rising, providing a bit more warmth for the two as they ran.
There were a few more people on campus up as well. Other joggers passed the two boys with a friendly smile and waving. Nathan kept a perfect form as he jogged, breathing in quickly but lightly while his eyes were kept straight in front of him. Toran did the same, though he trailed slightly behind his friend and was breathing a bit more heavily. They weaved their way down the winding paths across the large pasture.
After some time, the two finally came to a stop back outside the boy's dorm. "That's good. We lapped the entire campus five times and it's only 6:35." Nathan sighed, still trying to catch his breath. "That gives us a couple hours to hit the gym before classes start."
Leaning against his knees, Toran wiped the sweat off his forehead and stood up straight, moving the blonde hair in front of his eyes to the side. Even while drenched in sweat Toran's hair seemed to be rather elegant and well-kept. "It's always the same with you. Always have to be the best." He calmly told him.
"My apologizes, sir. I meant no disrespect toward…"
"Hey now, how many times do I have to say it?" He asked, waving his hand in front of Nathan's face. "No need for formalities with me. And I was only messing with you."
"Nathan! Toran!" A young girl's strong voice called out.
"Allison?" Nathan turned to the girl quickly running to their side, panting heavily. She seemed annoyed, which made Nathan uneasy.
"Now here's someone who should address me formally…" Toran murmured with a smirk.
"Hmph…" The girl just looked away from him. "I've been trying to catch up to you two for a while. Don't you guys ever get tired?"
"Was there something you needed?" Nathan anxiously asked.
"N-no, I just wanted to…"
"Well then I'll talk to ya later." He kindly said as he began to walk off into the dorm building.
Allison and Toran watched as Nathan headed into the building to go workout. Allison couldn't help but feel angry as the door closed. "What a jerk!" She fiercely turned around ready to storm off.
"C'mon Private," Toran sighed, "you know he's always a bit awkward publicly."
"Whatever… I still can't believe that kid will be graduating with you this year." She pouted. "If I were a higher rank than him he'd show me a bit more respect! He's just looking down on me."
"That 'kid' is only a year younger than you. And no, I don't think he is; Nathan's just socially inept. Now run along Ms. Yeager. We'll be seeing you in class later." Toran ordered the girl as he spun around to meet up with Nathan.
The girl grimaced, but walked away as he told her to. "Yes, sir…"
"Can anyone explain this tactical plan of attack for me?" The large teacher bellowed to the class of about fifty students. He saw someone quickly raise a hand in the front row and signaled him to come up to the whiteboard. "Yes, Nathaniel please come up and explain both the best route for a small group passing through the area as well as your take on how the enemy should be handled."
Nathan stood out of his desk. "Yes sir." He walked over to the front of the class, passing the other older students who gazed at the handsome young lad. The teacher handed him a black marker and moved to the side. Nathan began to scribble lines and other figures over the teacher's drawing.
"In this particular battlefield, it would be wise for the commanding officer to lead his troops around the trees over here." Nathan began to explain as he continued drawing. "Using the trees on the other side is quiet predictable due to the larger concentration of them over here. There are small villages also scattered about the area north north-west of the enemy's location. Engaging them over here would definitely put civilians in harm's way, even though it would give us an advantage with the terrain. Leaving the area this way then allows us to confront the enemy and draw them away from the villages." Nathan placed the cap back on the marker and returned it to the teacher.
"Hmm… not a bad strategy." The teacher observed the drawings for a moment, playing Nathan's plan in his head.
Nathan stood quietly against the board, keeping a serious expression as he waited for the teacher's approval. The other students began to whisper amongst themselves about the boy.
"Man he's smart…"
"Yea, and cute too!"
"No wonder he got a scholarship to come to the academy."
"He's like one of the top soldiers in his ranking."
"What's his rank?"
Nathan tried his best to ignore the murmurs throughout the classroom, but he knew it was about him. Though the school year was half way over, it was obvious the boy still felt a bit awkward when so many people would talk about him.
Allison, who was sitting all the way in the back of the class, watched as Nathan simply stared at the ground as if he didn't hear anything. She noticed it wasn't as if he was embarrassed or timid about being on the spot, rather he simply disliked it. He was by no means a shy student even though he was the youngest student in the academy.
"The strategy isn't bad at all. Good job Warrant Officer." The teacher commended him. "Just one thing: while civilians are a top priority majority of the time, there are times where there will be collateral damage when there is a higher priority. Just make sure to remember that."
"It is our job as Knights to protect Satala's countrymen sir." Nathan replied. "I can't think of anything more important than that."
"You're not a Knight just yet kid. And you of all people should know what could be more important than a civilian: the Royal Family." He sternly told his student. "Any student here who doesn't place His and Her Majesty as a top priority won't make it to the army."
Nathan didn't think that completely through and realized how idiotic he sounded. "Uh, y-you're right! I'm sorry sir; the Royal Family is absolutely my highest priority when I join Satala's Imperial Army." He quickly saluted his teacher and began to walk back to his seat.
"Hehehe, he's funny. You should totally ask him out!" A girl from the class whispered to one of her friends.
"N-no way! I think he's taken." She whimpered back.
"He's from Carthage, isn't he?" A boy asked.
"Yeah. I've never met anyone from there before."
The instructor continued his lesson on proper tactical analysis. Allison ignored the murmurs from the students who sat in front of her and turned her attention back to her textbook, though her attention was mainly on the sheet of paper she was doodling on. The girl couldn't help but ponder about Nathan.
Before she knew it, the instructor had dismissed the class for the day. The students gathered their materials and began chatting with each other about work, lunch, or other classes they might have later. Allison watched as Nathan picked up his book and materials and headed out the class.
"Nathan! Wait up!" The girl quickly gathered her belongings and rushed out the room.
The temperature had risen since this morning, and now the sun was shining completely. Students still wore jackets, but it wasn't terribly cold anymore. Nathan continued walking down the sidewalk until he heard Allison's voice call out to him.
"Hmm?" He turned to see the irritated girl rush to his side.
"What's your problem today Nathan?!" She thrust her finger into the boy's cheek. "You suddenly afraid of me or something?"
"N-no, it's nothing like that!" He assured her, stepping back. "It's just… one of those days, ya know?"
"No I don't know!" The girl pouted as she pressed her forehead against his. "Doesn't feel like you have a fever. Is it…"
Nathan just stood up against her, waiting for her to say something. He noted Allison's cheeks were suddenly flushed.
"Is it… another girl?"
"W-what?!" Nathan quickly blushed as he stumbled back. "Why the heck would you think that?!"
"Hey jerk, I'm annoyed enough that I have to ask something so embarrassing!" Allison stammered out, stomping her foot to the ground while turning away. "The least you could do is answer the stupid question…"
"Uh…" Nathan saw she was rather upset. The girl just stared at the ground as she waited for his reply. He smiled at her as he took her by the hand. "It's nothing, really. It's just ever since I came to Glendale, I've been having this weird dream."
"Are you dreaming about girls?!" Allison squealed.
"No!" He moaned. "It was when I was in Carthage."
"Oh…" The girl bit her lips as she gripped Nathan's hand tightly. "I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it. It's no big deal." He nonchalantly told her as he pulled his hand away from her. He then patted Allison's head. "Anyway, I'll find you after my training session with Toran."
With rosy cheeks the girl grimaced as she watched Nathan walk off. "J-jerk, don't treat me like the younger one in this relationship!" She pouted as she straightened out her light brown hair.
Nathan just continued walking down the concrete path to his next class. His eyes focused only on what was ahead of him. Though the young man was a rather studious and devoted individual, his mind seemed to keep wandering around one thing today.
The path, after dividing and splitting off a couple of times, led down to the corner of the campus where there weren't any buildings. What was there was an enormous field of grass. On the field seemed to be a few people spread apart and some equipment stationed around as well. As Nathan came closer to the field, he saw a disc being shot into the air. A gunshot rang through the air as the disc shattered into pieces.
There weren't many people on the field. Far on the other side a few students were target practicing with both launching targets and stationary ones on the ground, using level 1 pseudo-Solblades.
Toran stood by himself in the middle of the grass with his arms crossed and eyes closed. He sensed Nathan getting closer, and his eyes quickly shot open. "Transpire." A brilliant light rapidly swirled around Toran, whipping a gust of wind down toward Nathan.
"Hmm…" Nathan immediately noticed the distant beam of light that shot out from the direction of the field. It rushed right for him dragging the wind along with it. Right as it was about to slice cleanly through his head, Nathan tilted his head to the right and the beam of energy rapidly rushed right past him, whipping his hair all over. He glanced ahead at the large field to see Toran standing with an annoyed grin.
"Man… thought I had you there." Toran lifted his Solblade up and pointed it at Nathan. It was a medium sized bow, about half the length of his body. A hard, silver material covered the entire weapon, and the curvatures of the bow gave the metal a razor sharp look. Oddly, there was no bowstring; only the metal body.
"Will we ever start a practice session without you trying to kill me first?" Nathan groaned as he stepped onto the grass.
"Hmm… that wouldn't be fun." Toran quietly mused. He fiercely whipped his free left hand to his side and a long object immediately took form: it was an arrow. The arrow was shaped normally but it glowed a bright white all around. Toran placed the arrow on the edge of the bow, above the leather handle and pulled it back. He pulled it back along the invisible string that took form, which also began to glow a magnificent white, until it was completely stretched out.
Nathan just stared at the bow and arrow about fifty feet away as he continued walking down toward Toran. His nonchalant attitude suddenly became more serious as he prepared to battle. "Well, what are you waiting…?"
The recoil of the string being released suddenly echoed in the air as the arrow flung toward Nathan. Toran watched as right before the arrow was about to penetrate the boy's flesh, he vanished right in front of him… literally. Toran could actually see a false image of Nathan for perhaps a microsecond and the arrow pass right through it. There was no one in front of him now.
"My arrows never fail to hit their target." Toran casually said out loud. "You are one of the very few people who have ever managed to evade them. That teleportation trick is a bit unfair though."
"How many times do I have to tell you, it's not teleportation…"
Toran felt Nathan's footsteps right behind him, and sure enough he casually walked from Toran's side out in front of him.
"It's called 'Impulse'."
"Still unfair…" He chuckled.
"I concentrate the amount of Rei-Ki in two different areas." Nathan began to explain. "The first is in my feet. I focus nearly seventy percent of my Rei-Ki energy in and around my feet which enables me to move at incredible speeds. The second area, which the rest of my Rei-Ki is distributed, is outside in the direction I want to move away from. If I want to move forward, the remaining thirty percent is exerted out from my back. If I want to move left, it's exerted from the right side of my body, and so on."
"Yea, yea, the vibrations created from the Rei-Ki you exert outward allows you to control the velocity at which you move, while also giving the false impression that you're actually moving faster than light." Toran lifted his bow up again aiming at the body standing only a few feet away from him. He whipped out another Rei-Ki arrow and positioned it against the bow. "A technique like Impulse… To think, this much potential lies within someone who possesses 'that' type of Rei-Ki."
He quickly released the bowstring and the flashy arrow flew directly for Nathan, only to be dodged again by his Impulse move. Nathan quickly reappeared only meters to the side. He barely moved his body, other than his feet obviously; his hands remained in his pockets as he floated down to the ground from a few inches above ground.
"Let's keep going!" Toran barked out. He quickly placed a finger on the edge of the bow's handle and pulled the invisible string backward. This time, the arrow immediately materialized against the string itself. He fired the arrow and it once again rushed toward Nathan. The boy used his Impulse to disappear as the arrow crashed right into the grass, reappearing into a run to continue dodging.
And so he did: Toran would manifest more Rei-Ki arrows directly on his bow, consecutively firing them at Nathan while the boy would simply use his Impulse to avoid being hit. The little spectacle played out for a short time before Toran came to a sudden pause.
Nathan remarked, "It was pretty hard dodging those things consistently when we first started training at the beginning of the year. But now, it not very difficult at all."
"Is that so?" A smirk cracked on Toran's face as he conjured up another Rei-Ki arrow. "You fail to realize that repeatedly using a technique as demanding as Impulse will quickly wear you out."
"And you fail to realize that your Solblade requires you to expend your energy just to provide you with a means to fight." Nathan replied.
"Touché." He chuckled. "Very well then, I think it's time we take our training sessions more seriously. This technique should provide you with a challenge." Toran placed four fingers above the handle of his bow instead of one and pulled the Rei-Ki bowstring back as he pointed it high into the air. The arrow that formed between his fingers glowed even brighter, and the Rei-Ki energy enveloping the arrow flowed more fluidly, almost violently about the shaft and arrowhead. "Pluvia Centum."
Right after Toran released the arrow, a barrage of arrows suddenly appeared out of thin air in front of the bow and they all rushed out high into the sky. The resembled streaks of lightning that crept toward the heavens above. The seemingly endless amount of projectiles suddenly turned back down from their path, ready to crash into the Earth below.
"W-what?!" Nathan watched in surprise as the shower of arrows that were in the sky began to spread apart, covering an extremely large range when they would hit the ground. He couldn't move out the way in time. Worst of all, the arrows in the sky were invisible against the sunlight due to the bright light they gave off. He couldn't tell how close the arrows were heading for him.
The Rei-Ki arrows slammed into the ground, one after another. They continued to pierce through the dirt, vaporizing moments after they made contact with the ground. More arrows fell from the sky and threw dust and dirt up into the air. Practically half the field now was clouded in a thick cloud of smoke.
The sounds of the arrows crashing into the ground finally ceased. Toran squinted into the field covered with smoke, trying to see what had happened to Nathan. A small breeze quietly twirled around some of the smoke and revealed the figure that stood within it. Soon the dust completely vanished and Toran clearly saw Nathan standing with his focused expression. There were dozens of holes in the ground made from Toran's arrows. However, closely around the spot Nathan was standing on, there wasn't a single hole on the ground.
Without another word Toran conjured another arrow, quickly pulling it back and firing it at Nathan. Instead of dodging it this time, Nathan smacked it out the way with his bare hands then dashed for Toran. His fist came flying straight for Toran who placed his razor sharp bow to intercept the blow. Nathan's fist crashed right into the edges that protruded off of the bow. A burst of Rei-Ki energy surged out from the impact, and the two were in a stalemate with the bow shaking back and forth.
With one hand tightly gripping the handle, Toran kept Nathan at bay with his weapon. He glanced down at the unharmed fist that was right up against his razor sharp bow; there was a faint blue glow that surrounded Nathan's entire hand. It was around the other hand he used to slap his arrow away earlier. "You enveloped your entire body in Rei-Ki to deflect every single one of those Rei-Ki arrows. Now, you're covering the outside of your hands with a thin sheet of pure Rei-Ki… should have seen that coming."
"Then you should see this coming too." Nathan lifted his other arm up and placed an open hand in front of Toran. A swirling sphere of blue energy began to compact in the palm of Nathan's hand. It rapidly twirled around on itself with a roar that gradually grew louder as the energy increased. "Glad we're taking things more seriously."
"Shit…" Toran quietly growled to himself as he watched the ball of Rei-Ki energy build up in Nathan's hand.
Toran quickly released his grip from his bow and jumped back as the energy forming in Nathan's hand exploded outward in a beam of spectacular blue light. The beam of energy roared toward Toran but only grazed the man's blonde hair as he managed to roll out to the side on the grass. Toran watched as the beam traveled down the field until finally dissipating. He turned back to Nathan to see smoke rising from his hand.
"Phew…" Toran sighed as he stood to his feet. "That was close."
"If this was a real fight, it wouldn't matter if you dodged that or not." Nathan walked up to Toran handing his bow back. "Allowing your enemy to take your Solblade from you will guarantee your defeat."
"Psh, people with Type-S Rei-Ki can fight without a Solblade too ya know?" Toran teased. "But it's no wonder you're being considered for a position as honorable as Knight Lord at your young age." He pointed behind Nathan.
The boy turned to see a man running toward the two. He had the Seal of Satala marked on the back of his imperial shirt and carried a large staff. As he reached the two, the man saluted the two standing erect with his staff at his side.
"Warrant Officer Nathaniel Seether. General Toran Dolthersay." The man formally addressed the two. "I bear a message from His Majesty. Your presence is requested in Glendale's Royal Hall. You are to meet with Duke Dalton Markham."
"Message acknowledged and received." Nathan saluted the man, and then quickly began to walk off the field.
Toran saluted the messenger as well before running to Nathan's side. "Ooh, the moment of truth has arrived." He exclaimed to Nathan. "Today you'll find out if his Majesty has approved you to be the princess's Knight Lord. Quite a leap in rank from Warrant Officer… Though you won't have nearly as much authority as me, you will be of equal rank in nobility now."
Nathan nodded, keeping a fairly serious expression on his face as he continued toward the campus. "Yea…"
"Aren't you gonna let Allison know you'll be gone for a bit?" Toran asked.
"Why?" He asked. "I'll let her know what happened when I get back."
Toran sighed, "You're hopeless…"
"I owe a lot to her…" Nathan quickly said.
"No…" He slowly shook his head. "Her Majesty…"
A young girl waited impatiently against the wall. With her eyes closed and arms crossed, the girl repeatedly tapped her foot on the wooden floor. The sound echoed through the small chamber of the Royal Hall. They were in the office of Duke Markham, the current duke of Glendale.
The bright blonde girl suddenly stopped her tapping, and her dark lavender eyes glared up. "They're late…"
"C'mon Ashley, cut em' some slack." A man casually told her. He relaxed on one of the large, leather chairs that were placed throughout the small room. "They have to get here from the campus."
"Silence, Roy." The small girl snarled. "How many times must I tell you I don't want you speaking to me again."
"Sheesh, we still mad about me leaving?" He asked her.
"That's enough you two." Another man intervened. His voice was calm and deep with a rather soothing tone. His voice matched his calm and unresponsive expression.
"Hmph." The beautiful young girl looked away. "I don't see why you're sticking up for someone like him Aaron."
There was another girl who stood against the opposite side of the room from Ashley. She simply stood silently with an unwavering look of loyalty on her face. The four all seemed to be in their twenties, except for Ashley who seemed a tad bit younger.
Behind the desk sat a man in a luxurious suit. He was a bit older than the other four. He too was waiting for someone with the others. They all kept silent until a noise suddenly grabbed their attention.
"Duke Markham." The female voice came from a small speaker box on the duke's desk. "They've arrived."
The prestigious man clicked the button on the box before speaking. "Excellent. Send them in immediately."
After only moments, the two large doors at the front of the room slowly pried open. The guards standing outside escorted both Toran and Nathan in. They then saluted before closing the doors shut.
"My, everyone's here?" Toran nonchalantly asked as he strolled farther into the room.
"Everyone but Meredith." Roy exclaimed as he jumped up from his seat. "Good to see you again Toran."
"Still on her assignment in Frelia?" He asked. "She wouldn't have to go through all this trouble if you were to stay."
"That's what I've been saying for the past year…" Ashley pouted as she stood up straight from the wall. "Is that him?" She asked, pointing at Nathan.
Nathan quickly stood erect and saluted everyone in the room. "Nathaniel Seether. It is an honor meeting you all."
Toran took a chair next to where Roy was sitting before. "Too bad he's not your replacement Roy. Ashley would finally have someone close to her age."
"W-what was that?!" The flushed girl shouted.
"Now, now, how about we move on… Generals?" Duke Markham signaled for all of them to gather around his desk.
Nathan stood in the center of the five Knights. He felt so small compared to these amazing warriors. He couldn't believe he was in the same room as them. Now, he stared down at the duke in front of him. A duke was basically a stand-in for the king. Here he was about to find out if all his hard work had finally paid off.
"Warrant Officer Seether…" The duke slowly lifted a paper that was rolled and tied by a golden string. "There are two reasons why I have asked you to come with the Generals. The first is so we can discuss the largest issue currently in Satala… that is Silver Blood. Now, you're probably wondering why this pertains to you. It pertains to you because of the second reason: Nathaniel Seether… on behalf of King Aldwyn Leodrake Satala, I hereby pronounce that upon graduating from Satala's Royal Military Training Academy, you will be appointed personal Knight Lord of Princess Satala."
Each of the five Generals surrounding Nathan saluted him as the duke handed the scroll to him. Nathan felt his heart thumping hard against his chest but quickly took the decree out of the duke's hands.
"T-Thank you sir!" Nathan saluted. "I, Knight Lord Nathaniel Seether, accept this promotion, and shall do everything in my power to ensure my duties are fulfilled… for the sake of her Majesty."
Author's Note: Switched it up a bit and decided to introduce Nathan! He's already attending Satala's Royal Military Training Academy and according to this duke he will be appointed Knight Lord to the Princess of Satala. Dunno what a Knight Lord is yet, but seems like a big deal. :P Who are these "Generals"? They briefly mentioned Meredith so things are getting clearer... or more complicated lol. Leave a review for me and go read the next Episode!