He's running down Eighth Street now! Can you intercept him at Eleventh?"
"No, my horse is getting tired. Where's the next intersection?"
"Um … there's an alley connecting Eleventh and Main. Damn, he's going fast! I can hardly keep an eye on him. FlipOff and I might need to changed positions to get a better view."
"No, stay on him as best you can. We need to keep this guy in our sights."
The nights in Nazland were never boring for the National Militia. Lysander has already been overwhelmed with the outrageous amounts of fights at bars, break-ins, and Captain Wilhelm breathing down his throat, but now some wingnut wearing a mask is running through the town at night, raising all hell and giving the militia a massive headache. The masked man already managed to shake almost all the other pursuing officers through the narrow city streets on foot. Lysander probably would have been one of the first to drop out had it not been Rich giving him an eye in the sky, telling him shortcuts via magic transceiver as he rode on top of his flying Ring monster FlipOff. The phantom needed to be caught. If there was another bombing and the masked man was reported in the area, Lysander's head would be served to Wilhelm on a platter.
"He just jumped back on the rooftops. He might not be going to Main after all, maybe Park Avenue…"
"Make up your mind! I'm approaching the intersection!"
"He's going to Park, definitely Park!"
Lysander nodded, noticing that he was the only soldier that remained in pursuit. He made a brisk turn down an alley, which made his horse squeal, and galloped down the grand Park Avenue.
"He's stopping! I think he's stopping on top of a building."
"Hm, it's a marble building, three stories…"
"I see it. And, I see him."
Actually, he was very hard to miss. Whoever he is, he was wearing shining armor that shined strangely bright in the moonlight, along with a long flowing white came that seemed begging to be tripped on. In his hands he carried a scythe – a freaking scythe! The sharp curved edge also shined in the cloudless moonlight, which made it look all the more terrifying. Lysander quickly dismounted his horse and began to scale the marble wall of the building. This daunting task was made easy thanks to a giant crack that ran down the center.
"Magic's running out on my transceiver," Rich called, his voice sounding noticeably crackly through the earpiece. "I'll see if there's another way I can help. Take down this creep so we can go to sleep. I got the Royale to train for."
"Roger that," Lysander plucked out his transceiver, and tossed it into the road. Although most enchanted items were deemed illegal, small enchantments like transceivers were recognized for their practical use and mass-produced. The process of how they were enchanted, however, was a government secret.
The militiaman slipped onto the top of the ever-so-curved roof and did his best to keep his footing. He drew his bronze sword and looked around for the enemy. If he had left the roof, he couldn't have gone far-
Lysander felt a horrible pain in his back as he was sent flying to the other side of the roof. He landed on all fours, and turned to face his assailant. Sure enough the masked marauder was walking towards him, a pure white cloak flowing in the night air. Lysander tried to make the best defensive pose he could, as he was now on the lower ground. He clenched his blade even tighter, hoping that whatever energy empowered him through it could aide him more. Without warning, the assailant lunged forward, slicing their scythe sideways. The militiaman's blade met the scythe, blocked it, and made a thrust of its own at the throat. The throat seemed to be a very good place to strike, as Lysander's very limited previous experience has taught him.
This attack was parried by the blunt end of the scythe, and the sharp side came down to strike again, this time directly at Lysander's head. The militiaman had to duck to avoid it, whereupon he was promptly kicked in the face and sent falling back. Whoever this creep is, he's good. Lysander, now at the edge of the roof looked up to see his enemy raise his scythe once more, ready to make another blow.
Just then, something crashed into the phantom, knocking him down. The object turned out to be Rich and FlipOff. "Guess I may owe you now," Lysander whispered to his friend.
"Eh, let's just say we're even. Now let's finish this," Rich called back, clearly enthused.
Lysander ran to where the masked man had fallen, only to find him missing. Instinctively, the boy turned behind, although this time the assailant wasn't there either. A moment slowly passed. "Weasel must have fled," Rich, whom was now seething on the other side of the roof, yelled, "I'll go back on FlipOff and see if I can get an aerial view-"
"I'm sorry," a new voice said. Both boys turned, realizing that Lysander's militia team had arrived, headed by none other than Captain Wilhelm, leader of the National Militia. His expensive looking plate armor clanked loudly as he walked over. Armor of such caliber was usual reserved for the Queen's private Advanced Guard, but the Captain had made an exception for himself. "Are we interrupting something? Private Lysander, I didn't know you had friends with you."
"Actually, sir, he was helping with the investigation, and right now-"
"I don't see this man in uniform, therefore he is not militia. Therefore he is not part of this investigation."
"I understand, sir, but the terrorist is getting away, and we need to look for him."
Wilhelm gave a quick look around. "I don't see the target. Must have let it escape, huh? Chit chatting with your Ringer friend? Shame, soldiers like you hold promise. You are relieved for the night, private. You will report to my office alone tomorrow at eight hundred, clear?"
The National Militia barracks was situated on the outskirts of the Royal Palace compound, near the gates of the Plaza. Additional housing had recently been added in the Citadel for those who didn't have residence in the city. Lysander probably would have wound up there, had it not been for Jonas' death and Rich's intervention. The leader of the militia, Captain Wilhelm, was the former Minister of War. He was thrown out of his post after accidentally killing fifteen POWs during interrogation. He was a hardy man, whom Lysander respected, although Wilhelm drew his resilience from the wrong place. He always seemed out to get someone, and Lysander seemed to be his new prey.
"You wanted to see me?" Lysander entered the room, which was uncomfortably humid due to the summer morning air.
"Please have a seat, private," the Commander gave one of his borderline-serial-killer smiles, eyeing Lysander. "I understand how rough it must be, being the new recruit, against superior – and far older – men and women."
"Thank you for sympathy, sir," Actually, sir, I can fight three of them at once in sword training. That is, when you let me use my own sword.
"I also understand your passion to be special. I mean, on your first assignment you fought with our great former Guardsman Jonas, heard his dying breath, and lived to tell the tale. But the thing is, Lysander, the only reason I choose to let you stay in the militia is to appease my friend Minister Claus, who sees something I truly don't. That is why I understand why you employ the help from dishonorable characters, whom you may or may not conspire with."
Conspire? "My apologies for any offence to you, sir."
"I'm not looking for a sorry, private, I'm looking for improvement. That is why invoking discipline, I have decided to suspend you from your active duty, for a month. It's for the best."
"I was the only one who managed to engage the target last night, please-"
Wilhelm stood up, "Speak out of line again and I may just forget Claus' wishes. This is temporary, boy, until you can prove yourself to me, and, more importantly, the Queen herself. Dismissed."
At least the meeting was short. If Lysander could credit his boss with anything, it was wrapping up his yelling sessions in time to still have some hot flapjacks with breakfast. After breakfast with some of Rich's sketchy monster-battling friends, Lysander retired to the training ground, where he practiced his punching on a sand bag, pretending it was a certain someone. About halfway through dispersing his pent up aggression, he heard a voice come from behind.
"And just what are you doing?"
Lysander spun around. Behind him was none other than the girl he had talked to when he first arrived in Nazland. "Hey, it's you!"
Celeste smirked, "Ha! It's me! What's up? You become Hero of the State yet?"
"Oh, shut up," the militiaman said. The title still made him uncomfortable when spoken about. He knew he should feel fine - hardly anyone had been granted it - but he still felt inadequacy in himself - the feeling he had failed. "What are you doing here, anyway?"
"The Palace is hot and gross at this time of day," the girl explained, fixing her blouse.
"Wait, why would you be-"
"Princess! Oh, Princess," Helen, the Advanced Guardswoman, came running over. "Where have you been? Half the Palace is on high alert looking for you, your sister will have a fit!"
"Just talking with my good friend Lysander here," Celeste beamed. "We're madly in love. He says he wants to elope with me and run away into the sunset together. Isn't he just a dreamboat?"
"Soldier! If you so much as touch a beautiful hair on our Princess' body I will have you publicly executed in the Plaza square in the most excruciatingly painful way that's still legal!" Helen growled, drawing her own sword.
"Gah! What? No! Wait ... I'm really confused right now," Lysander confessed.
"I'm only kidding, Helen," the Princess smiled.
"Oh, yes, of course," the Guardswoman sheathed her weapon. "Get back in the Palace, missy. I'm sure the Queen would want a word with you."
"Ugh," Celeste groaned
As she walked back inside, Lysander turned to Helen, "What's her deal?"
"What? Surprised a girl like her is the heir to the throne?" Helen responded.
"Uh, yeah, kinda!" Lysander gave one last glance over at the Princess before she disappeared behind the Palace door. Shouldn't she be wearing a crown, or fancy clothes? "I didn't even know we had a Princess."
"Sometimes I wish we didn't," Helen sighed. "She's a mystery, that one. Amelia was never like that when she was that age. Then again, she was also engaged in a war with half the continent to avenge the death of her parents, so I guess that matures a person."
"Oh, right," Lysander couldn't recall the time he heard the King and Queen were murdered - he was too young - but he remembered what happened afterward. The rationing, the soldiers marching down the street, as well as the great black clouds rising from the earth he saw in the distance, and how his mother tried to convince him he was imagining them.
"I guess she realizes that she can't get out of the walls, that all life had in store for her was on a Palace throne," the Guardswoman continued. "She's smart enough to know that she can't go against it, but she's rebelling anyway. Really, a damn mystery."
Park Avenue was dead silent at night. Yards away, one could hear the militia patrolling on Main Street. Unbeknownst to them, their enemy lay right under their noses. A masked phantom leaped from rooftop to roof top , looking for a single building. It traveled quickly, knowing that time was of the essence. If it didn't hurry, things could - literally - explode in its face.
Carefully, the phantom crept inside a marble building – the same that had almost fallen victim to a fiery demise the previous night. It was a jewelry store, one of esteemed quality. The phantom searched the aisles and the glass cases, looking for one specific piece of jewelry.
"And just what are you doing?" The phantom spun around, and found itself face to face with none other than a militiaman, with his sword drawn. "I can't allow you to go any further."
"Hey, Ly!" the phantom removed its white mask. Underneath, it was none other than Princess Celeste! "Long time, no see."
"Gah! Princess? What? How can you ... Wait ... I'm really confused right now," Lysander stepped back, in awe of the new revelation.
"I'd love to explain to you all the details, but we don't have time right now," the Princess explained as quickly as she could, nervously looking around the empty store.
"So you're the phantom? You're the one whose been bombing the buildings?"
"No, I'm trying to stop them! I honestly can't explain this right now, meet me ... in my bedroom, in the morning," Celeste's mask twitched in her hand. Danger was approaching. There was no time...
Lysander once again stepped forward, this time speaking assertively, regaining some of his composure, "Are you the phantom? Are you responsible for the bombings? Yes or no?"
"Yes and no," Celeste put her mask back on, charging straight at Lysander, tackling him and bringing him to the floor. As the fell, the phantom felt a rush of heat race over her back - an enchanted explosion. Noise and bright fire blasted through the room as the phantom clung to the militiaman below her. When the noise ceased, she stood up, bafflingly unscathed.
The immediate vicinity around the two was charred black. Smoke clouded the room, and voices could be heard beginning to call outside. "Better get out of here," the phantom said as Lysander got back up to his feet. "They might think you caused the bombing. I'll tell you what's going on, I promise."
The militiaman wiped soot from his face. He still looked very baffled, but a calm acceptance began to shine in his eyes. "Fine, see you there, Princess."
"Sweet dreams," the phantom whispered, disappearing into the black smoke behind her.