It was the middle of the night in Castle Vermillion, as a veiled handmaiden was escorting an armored soldier through the hall. They soon reached a pair of doors. She opened one of the doors for him. The knight walked inside. The handmaiden checked the hall and saw no one in sight. She then followed him inside, and closed the door behind her.

The knight saw the handmaiden had taken him to the castle's Great Library.

"I apologize for summoning you like this." a woman said, coming out from behind a bookcase. She was raven-haired with emerald eyes. She held her infant son in her arms. "However, it's a matter of life and death."

The knight immediately kneeled. He was in the presence of the Queen. She walked over and stood before him.

"Arise." the Queen said.

The knight did as commanded.

"Could you take off your helmet?" the Queen asked politely, even though she was looking at him seriously.

The knight dispelled his helmet. He had brown eyes and fuzzy crimson hair, his bangs covering his right eye. The Queen closely looked at him. She took a hand off her son. She then gently grabbed hold of his bangs. The knight looked at her curiously. She moved the hair away, revealing his eye had some scales under it.

When their eyes met, the knight looked away, blushing.

"I see." the Queen said as she released his hair, letting it fall back in place. "Your name is Mallory, correct?" She smiled.

"Y-yes." Mallory replied shyly.

Soon the smile on her lips disappeared.

"Do you know how my husband, I mean, the King died?" the Queen asked, looking serious.

"He died in an accident." Mallory replied.

"You don't think it was one." the Queen said, noticing the knight wasn't looking her in the eye. She looked at him reassuringly. "You can tell me."

"He was slain." Mallory stated, clenching his armored hand in a tight fist. His pupils narrowed in angry slits. "There's no way the King would've fallen in some ravine and broke his neck."

"I agree." the Queen said.

"Huh?" Mallory responded, looking confused.

"It's the reason I summoned you here." the Queen explained, looking at her son. She then looked back at him. "I want you to take the Prince far from this place."

"What?!" Mallory said, looking shocked.

"If the Prince should remain here," the Queen said. She looked serious. "...I fear the same fate awaits him."

"Shouldn't you tell this to General Kojima?" Mallory asked.

"No!" the Queen replied, glaring angrily. She regained her decorum and continued. "I don't trust him, or the knights."

Mallory looked at her confusingly.

"Does she believe this is a coup?" Mallory thought. He was still confused. "If she doesn't trust the knights, then how come she trusts me?"

"The King said I could call on you if I ever needed help." the Queen answered as if she read his mind. "He thought highly of you." She smiles.

"Me?" Mallory thought, looking surprised. He then saw her handing him the most precious thing in her life.

"Please protect him." the Queen pleaded.

He looked at the Prince then back at His Queen.

"What about you?" Mallory asked, looking concerned.

"A parent puts the life of their child ahead of their own." the Queen replied. She then smiled. "I also don't think the murderer is foolish enough to kill another monarch so soon. So, there's no need for worry."

Mallory was still concerned. He then looked back at the Prince again. Soon the Queen noticed Mallory was looking at her seriously.

"I'll protect him." Mallory said.

"Thank you." the Queen smiled.

Mallory took him from his mother's arms. He saw his face was hiding under the blanket he was wrapped in. Mallory pulled it back and gasped in surprise.

"What?" Mallory thought, looking at the child. He saw the Prince had snow white hair and pale blue eyes. "Is he a…?"

The Prince smiled at him.

"He likes you." the Queen said, smiling.

Mallory was still looking at him. He then turned to His Queen. She soon nodded in response to his unasked question. Mallory was shocked.

"So the legend is true…" Mallory thought, seeing the Prince was innocently smiling and laughing at him.

While she was watching them warmly, the Queen clasped the crystal that hung down from her neck. She looked at it then back at them.

"Mallory," the Queen called solemnly.

He saw her standing in front of him. She untied her makeshift charm necklace, and tied it around her son's wrist.

"Milady?" Mallory said, looking curious. He then noticed His Queen turn her back on him and her son.

"You have your mission." the Queen said coldly. She distanced herself from them. "Zhalia."

The handmaiden appeared behind Mallory.

"My personal attendant will take you both out of here." the Queen said.

"If you would please follow me," Zhalia said, looking at Mallory politely through her niqāb. She walked toward the bookcases on the right.

Mallory gave His Queen one last look before following the handmaiden. The Queen didn't look back.

Zhalia and Mallory were walking through an aisle of bookcases. Mallory checked on the Prince. He was fast asleep in his armored arms. Mallory then looked at the handmaiden.

"Where are you taking us?" Mallory asked, looking serious.

"You don't trust me." Zhalia said, feeling his stare. She grinned. "Sir Mallory, I am someone you can trust. Our Queen does, after all."

"It's hard to trust someone that smells like blood." Mallory remarked.

"Very perceptive," Zhalia commented. She glanced over her shoulder at him, still grinning. "I can see the King chose wisely."

"You still didn't answer my question." Mallory glared.

Mallory then noticed she had led him straight to a dead end. Before confronting her, the knight saw her approach the bookcase in front of them. Zhalia pulled back three random books from various places. He was watching curiously. Mallory soon heard sounds of moving gears from behind the bookcase. He cautiously took a step back as it slowly swung open.

"What you see is an old secret passage." Zhalia explained. She faced him in seriousness. "Only three people know of this. You're now the fourth one to know."

"Where does this go?" Mallory asked, looking curious.

"It'll take you behind the castle." Zhalia replied, looking inside. She then turned back to him. "A horse has been prepared for your journey."

Mallory approached the entrance.

"Good luck, Sir Mallory." Zhalia smiled.

Mallory turned back to her. He nodded with a determined look on his face. He then proceeded inside. Zhalia stood there and watched the bookcase slowly swing close behind him.

She walked back to Her Queen. Zhalia discovered her lying on the floor. A look of fear instantly appeared in her crimson eyes. She then heard a curious sound coming from her. Zhalia soon realized Her Queen was crying.

"Piper," Zhalia said sadly. She walked over and politely kneeled in front of her.

Before Zhalia could offer her comfort, the Queen quickly sat up and held her close in a tight embrace. She was now crying in Zhalia's bosom.

"I-I couldn't do it." the Queen wept.

Zhalia looked at her curiously.

"I couldn't tell him goodbye, and that I love him." Piper said distraughtly as more tears fell. "I am a terrible mother."

"No, you're not." Zhalia replied, shaking her head. She soon embraced her back, giving her long hair a gentle stroke. "What you did was for your son's survival. I call that love."

"Zhalia," the Queen said.

She heard the slight seriousness in her tone. Zhalia also felt Her Queen had loosen her embrace a bit. Piper wasn't crying anymore, either.

"I am going to have to ask you to break your vow," Piper stated seriously, laying her head in Zhalia's bosom still.

Zhalia was taken aback. She closed her eyes for a moment before opening them again.

"Understood." Zhalia responded, looking intimidating through her niqāb.

A trap door arisen from the ground. Cautiously, Mallory peek his head out, seeing the passage did take him behind the castle. He soon noticed a saddled horse was hitched to a tree up ahead. He scanned the area.

"It looks clear." Mallory said.

Mallory quietly closed the door after climbing out. He checked on the Prince. Still sound asleep in his arms. Mallory then walked to the horse. He remained cautious, though. Mallory stopped abruptly. He quickly looked over his shoulder…no one there.

"Guess I am imagining things." Mallory said.

Mallory proceeded to the horse again. He quickly summoned his great sword and turned around…a claymore blocked his attack! In front of him was a knight in black armor.

"Who are you?!" Mallory demanded, glaring at the mysterious enemy.

The black knight pushed him back forcefully. Mallory instantly caught his bearings. He wanted to fight back, but quickly remembered he was still holding the Prince in his arm.

"Bugger." Mallory said.

The black knight was charging straight at him. Mallory held the Prince close and prepared for battle. Violently, the black knight was swinging his claymore at him. Mallory blocking each attack one-handed. The black knight projected a slash from his claymore. Mallory blocked the attack…it exploded! He was forcefully thrown back against a tree.

"He's strong!" Mallory thought.

Mallory still had a strong hold on the Prince. The black knight burst out through the smoke.

"Whoa!" Mallory thought, seeing him coming.

He swung his claymore…Mallory ducked! The black knight had slashed clean through the tree. Mallory quickly rolled away. While the black knight easily sliced the falling tree in half. He then jumped high in the air. Mallory was kneeling on the ground with his back facing him. He brought down his sword…a clash was heard!

His claymore flew out of his hands. It landed quivering in the ground. Mallory had deflected the strike with the handle of his great sword at the very last second. The black knight was standing in front of him with his hands shaking.

"Now!" Mallory screamed mentally. He quickly spun the sword back around and swung it at him.

The black knight grunted. Blood was falling before his armored feet. He soon fell on his knees, revealing the deep slash across his stomach. Without hesitation, Mallory brought down his sword and buried it in the knight's helm. Blood geysered up! It even splurted out the helm's visor.

Two more black knights then appeared. Mallory instantly yanked his sword out of this one's head. The black knights jump in the air...but they looked shocked. Mallory was coming right at them. Clashes were heard!

He and the black knights land on opposite sides. Neither one moved. Blood suddenly splurted out through the visors of their helms. Both fell dead on the ground. Sighing in relief, the last remaining knight dispelled the bloodied sword from his hand.

"Prince!" Mallory quickly said in concern. He checked on him. Mallory blinked. "Huh?"

The Prince was looking at him happily.

"He isn't scared after all of that?" Mallory thought, looking curious.

He turned to his slain enemies, then. He approached the nearest one and rolled them on his back.

"What's this?" Mallory thought, looking at his armor closely. He noticed an insignia on the left breast of his breast plate. "Isn't that?!"

The Prince soon became fussy.

"You're right." Mallory replied. It was as if he understood him. He smiled at the Prince. "We should leave here before more of them show up."

Mallory walked to the saddled horse. He climbed on after unhitching it from the tree. Galloping off from the castle, Mallory and the Prince were heading in the direction of the dark forest…

Continued in Episode 2

Thank you all for reading. I hope you all enjoyed the first episode of my new story. I am already working on the second episode. See you at the next episode.