Yellow stained glass allowed streaks of light to enter the church, surrounding a tall statue of the great prophet, Aland. The great statue casted a shadow over a group of nuns and apprentices. Before them stood a man with high caliber, dressed in a white robe with a sun symbol on his chest. Two nuns dressed in white stood by his side.
His dark eyes glanced over the group, as if trying to decide which one he should prey upon first. He cleared his throat loudly.
"My fellow people," he said, his voice deep and sincere, "it has come to my attention that the King was attacked yesterday by men from Elbert."
He looked at the group to see if any would spark the slightest of a weary reaction. He found none.
"It is a common thought that we are responsible for the attack," he continued, "Of course the thought is silly as I do not believe anyone here would do such a thing towards the crown."
The nun to his right let out a yawn. From head to toe, she was modestly dressed in a nun's attire, yet her slender curves stuck out. Her blue hair covered over her left eye and her blue right eye blinked out sleep.
"Is there something you would like to say, Sister La?" the man asked, glaring at her.
"Hmm? Oh no, Father Dylan," she said, "please continue."
Dylan gave her a suspicious look before he turned back to the group. "My good people, we are the central hope for our nation. It is by our religion, Sorium, that keep us together. Not violence, rallies, or sex. Togetherness is the key to not only happiness, but also enlightenment from our one true Creator."
He stepped down to the front of the group, looking at each person he passed by with a hard look.
"The great prophet Aland once said, "for he who is corrupted by sin shall die from it"." the priest said, "I follow by his words very, very carefully. And I know that there has been plenty of sin within this very church. This is not a place of sin! This is not a place for sin! And this place shall never be tainted by sinners' hands! Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, Father." the nuns and apprentices said all at once.
"Away with you lot."
With respectful nods, the group departed into separate locations of the church. Father Dylan sighed, rubbing his temples.
The other nun that stood beside before approached him. She dressed the same as the other nuns with a petite figure and had curly blonde hair. "Father Dylan," she said, her voice young and sweet, "do you honestly believe there is sin in this church?"
"Sister Claire," he said, his tone low, "it grieves me to know such affairs are occurring behind my back. I do not know where the source lies, but rest assure I shall do everything in my power to cleanse the wicked."
The nun nodded, faintly smiling. "Father, if you ever need assistance, it'll be my honor to offer my services."
Dylan patted her on the shoulder with a kind smile and then left.
Claire held her hands over her chest and looked back La who remained standing with a tired expression on her face. Before Claire could leave, her fellow nun walked up to her.
"Um, Sister Claire," she said, her tone surprisingly cheerfully, "if you would be so kind as to inform Father Dylan that Lord Egerton has canceled his meeting for me, I would appreciate it. I'm too exhausted to do it myself."
"Oh, sure thing, Sister. I'll be glad to, but..." Claire bit her lip, thinking over her words, "Um, wasn't Lord Egerton here yesterday by any chance? I was sure you..."
"You are not mistaken," La said, "Surely you jest if you think he and I did nothing else other than talk. Did your parents drop you as a child?"
Claire was taken aback by her remark. La smiled sweetly before she left with a sinister look in her eye.
"Have a lovely day, Little Miss Kiss Up."
Laec once again woke to sound of birds chirping. He groaned, wishing his mornings were less annoying. As he rose from his bed, he walked to his window like every morning. As predicted, there were a trio of women awaiting to see his exposed features.
He sighed as sunk back into his room. "And they say men are dogs."
"Good morning, Dax~" Frost sang as she walked in, "Oh, wow... you really do sleep in the nude, huh?"
The blue captain clicked his tongue, not bothering to start an argument. He walked to his dresser and pulled out some clothes.
"What do you want at this ungodly hour, Frost? And stop staring at my ass."
"Hmm, huh? Oh, right. Leveret told me to tell you to go to the IBHA."
Laec put on a pair of briefs. "Repeat yourself."
"The bunny man wants you to go to the Independent Bounty Hunter Agency. He believes they have something to do with the recent assassination attempts."
"Hmm, if I must. Though, I think the attacks were personal than hired."
Frost tensed, giving him a hard glare. "I think it's your turn to repeat yourself."
Laec placed a pair of blue pants and a dress shirt on. "Look, it goes without saying the King has much to learn about nobility. He may be young, but that's no excuse for his violent behavior. Power is meaningless without..."
The temperature considerably dropped in the room. Steam emitted from the crystals on Frost's gloves.
"You're spouting some dangerous words, Dax Laec. You best hold your tongue."
"Sorry, sorry," Laec held his hands up in surrender, "Don't destroy anything in my room, please. I just redecorated."
The grey captain calmed herself down. Without a word, she left and slammed the door behind her.
Laec sighed. "This is why I'm scared of beautiful women."
Looking at himself in the mirror, Guthrie finished buttoning up his blue jacket. He made sure the feathers in his ponytail remained still. After this, he smiled proudly at himself before realizing something.
"Holy crap, I really do look like a girl," he sighed in depress. After finishing up his morning routine, he walked out of his room on the first floor of the IBHA. He then made his way past the kitchen and entered the lobby to find a group of bounty hunters chatting amongst themselves.
"Oh, morning, O'Doyle!" Luke noticed him, "Come over here!"
Feeling obligated, the rookie bounty hunter did as he was told. Some of the male bounty hunters drew their glances away.
"You guys still hung up over yesterday?" a female bounty hunter said, "Geez, some people."
Guthrie recognized the woman from yesterday. She had pink wolf ears on top of her matching pink hair. Her face looked human, but had a sharp wolfish appearance to it.
"So what's going on, O'Doyle?" Luke asked, breaking Guthrie from his trance, "We were just talking about the other nations. You live around here?"
"Oh, um, yes," Guthrie nodded, "I lived in Anora since I was a child. It's not far from Aland."
"Ah, a country boy, aren't you? The city is really different from there. Personally speaking, it took me awhile to get around here. Too many streets and buildings to remember."
"I take you're not from this nation then?"
"Cause my skin color, huh?" Luke chuckled, "Don't worry about me asking about that, it's cool. I honestly don't remember where exactly I lived, but it sure wasn't here. Probably Nigt or something."
"Hey, Riley-Ann, aren't you from the country as well?" a bounty hunter asked the wolf girl.
"Like hell I am," she said, her tail swaying, "Does it look like I am?"
"Whoa, sorry, princess."
Guthrie stared at her ears and tail. While she was an attractive young woman in his eyes, his train of thought was more on her race. It wasn't rare to meet Halves, especially from where he lived, but he always remembered how his parents refused him from even looking at them.
He also wondered if he touched her ears, would they feel real? The thought was extremely tempting.
"Don't do it, man," Luke whispered, "She'll bite your hand off. Literally."
The ears of the wolf girl perked up. "I can hear you, Luke."
Luke cleared his throat. "Well, anyway..."
A round of gunshots went off nearby. Guthrie flinched, his body nearly reacting to drop to the floor for cover. The other bounty hunters acted as if nothing had happened.
Luke chuckled. "That's just Kichea out back training. Don't worry, you'll get used to that in the morning."
The rookie bounty hunter regained his composure. "Sorry."
"I wouldn't go back there if I were you. She prefers to train alone. Always had."
"How long have you've known her?"
The greyish man nodded. "Hmm, me and her used to be bounty hunters in training as kids. Back then, Aaric formed a little group of us and trained us to who are today. Truth be told, I didn't talk to her much, but I always felt responsible for her for some odd reason. I guess she's like a little sister to me, even though we're not related by blood or anything."
"So... she's always been like that?"
"Kinda. It wasn't until..." Luke noticed the solemn stare from Sylvia from her counter, "Um, it's best you don't hear it from my mouth."
"You talk too much." the wolf like bounty hunter remarked.
The gunshots alerted Guthrie's attention again. He couldn't help himself remembering the cold, powerful stare from yesterday. Something inside tugged him to find out more about her.
Against Luke's advice, he decided to talk to her. He and the others didn't seem to notice his absence as they were focused on Riley-Ann putting the poor man into a headlock.
Exiting from the back door, Guthrie stepped outside. He was welcomed by a gust of wind, strands of his hair and his feather fluttering. The sky was clear and a hint of sweetness sting his senses.
He turned to his right to see Kichea sitting down on a chair, a plate of bread in her lap and cans shattered about her feet nearby. Her outfit resembled the one from yesterday except there were hints of green on her clothing.
Kichea noticed him, gazing with a slightly surprised look. "I apologize if I woke you."
"Oh no, I was already up some time ago," Guthrie said, "Um, taking a break?"
She nodded, returning to her meal.
"Ah, I see."
An awkward silence hung over the two rookies. Guthrie struggled to bring himself to talk any further.
"Is there something I can help you with?" the brown skinned woman asked.
"N-No, I just wanted to... um..." Guthrie attempted to conjure an excuse. With a sigh, he then answered, "I wanted to watch you train. I don't exactly excel in many areas, but..."
Engines roared, gaining their attention. From afar, three white automobiles with a sun banner on their sides made their way towards the building.
Kichea rose from her seat, putting on gloves and and seating her light blue pistol back in its holster
"W-What's going on?" Guthrie asked.
She didn't answer. She walked into the building with Guthrie following behind her.
Back inside, the room was completely silent. Standing at the entrance were three men in steel plated armor. Between them stood Captain Laec, wearing his usual blue and black attire.
His blue eyes darted across the room, looking at everyone with a suspicious expression.
Kichea and Guthrie looked on from a corner. The brown skinned bounty hunter eyed the captain, squinting to study the sword at his side from the distance.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen," Aaric approached them with a calm look, "I never thought the castle would have any business with us."
"My apologies for arriving without notice," Laec said, "My name is Dax Laec, Captain of the King's Royal Guard. Are you the owner of this establishment?"
The one eyed man nodded. "That I am."
"Shall we talk in your office?"
"I see no reason to do so. If the matter involves everyone here, you might as well discuss it where they can hear it."
"Then I shall make this quick. We have reason to believe that someone here is involved in the recent assassination attempts against the king. We would like to obtain records of all the employees here as well as their alibis."
Aaric smiled. "Ah, I see. Well, I can tell you with complete certainty that we have nothing to do with such methods. We may not work under the crown, but we are far from hired assassins I assure you."
"Your word is strong, sir, but I cannot simply trust that. As a Royal Guard, I must make sure this establishment has no relations with the current case."
"I have no problem with that. But, I must say your search might prove to be a long hindrance. You see, death and absences are common here. No one stays here forever. You'll find many have left for days, months, or even years with no sign of return.
"Now, I shall tell you with my word, as strong as it can be, that we have no relation to the assassinations. By no means am I covering any evidence or hidden motivations, but do you honestly believe this ragtag group of individuals would gain something by attacking the King?"
Laec looked at the man, staring into his one blue eye. He had no changes in his expression or tone. After pondering over what he said, the blue captain sighed.
"That's a long winded way of saying we wasted our time coming here."
"S-Sir," a soldier said, "are you sure?"
"I trust this man is speaking the truth. We don't need to spend our time digging into other people's private matters. Besides, I'm tired."
Laec turned to leave, but not before taking a quick glance at Riley-Ann and Kichea. "I would like to say though, my job is to protect the crown with my life. It may seem foolish of me to place my trust in you, but as a man I shall respect your word. I hope you understand that, good sir."
Aaric bowed. "Thank you."
Without another word, the blue captain and his soldiers exited the building. Kichea walked out from the counter, proceeding to the door.
Aaric placed a hand on her shoulder. "Don't."
The bounty hunter stopped to give him a hard expression. The two stared at each other until they made a mental agreement.
The two then disappeared into his office, leaving the others confused.
Sighing heavily, Aaric flopped down on a green couch. "Phew, I'm glad I managed to drive him away."
The office was relatively small, outlined with matching furniture, a desk, and a window to gaze outside at the open field in the distance.
"Why did you stop me?" Kichea asked, standing by the door.
The one eyed man stretched his arms out. "Facing off against the crown is a dangerous thing, Kichea. We can't afford to act rationally."
"I know that, but... that man... he had the same sword as them."
"I know," Aaric nodded, "which is why I'm suggesting you don't approach him about it just yet. We know who is he, so we can approach him at another time until we sort our cards out."
"Then I shall pursue from a different angle."
He frowned. "That too is a dangerous path, but I know I can't stop you from going."
Kichea turned to leave.
"Oh, but take Guthrie with you."
Kichea gave him a cold glare. "No."
The brown skinned bounty hunter sighed in defeat. She exited the office and walked up to Guthrie, who was talking to Luke.
"You're coming with me to the capital. Meet me outside in ten minutes." she said and left as quickly as she came.
"Huh? What?" Guthrie stood in shock and confusion.
"Today is just chock full of fun, huh?" Luke said.
Upon arriving at the capital, Guthrie was in awe at the sight of the city. The nation's capital city, Aland, named after the great prophet himself was astounding to say the least. Nearly all the buildings were formed out of white marble to show their beautiful structure in the sunlight.
Men in sharp looking suits and women in formal, long dresses walked about the streets, many with delighted smiles on their faces.
Guthrie gripped the sides of his seat tightly as Kichea drove the red motorcycle around a corner, driving over cobblestone paved roads. Sitting directly behind her, he didn't have much room to hold onto.
"So, um, what are we here for?" he asked her.
She didn't respond.
The rookie bounty hunter took the chance to look more at the city. From all the buildings they zoomed by, the Church of Aland stood out with its shining stain glass and admirable marble statues of angels praying to the sky. Far off in the distance, he could see the top of Castle Aland.
Kichea stopped the motorcycle in front of a small red building. Taking her helmet off, she stepped off the automobile and placed the stand on to balance it.
"Wait here." she said, giving Guthrie the helmet.
"Huh? What are you going to do?" he asked.
"Something I'm probably going to regret."
Kichea walked up to the building and opened the door. From a small crack, Guthrie saw three men wearing black suits.
The brown skinned bounty hunter closed the door behind her.
Inside, Guthrie felt his heart stop for a moment. N-No, she can't be... there's no way she would do something like that.
Guthrie tried to abandon the thought out of his mind, yet as he sat there watching cars ride by, his worry only increased.
He had no reason to involve himself in her business, yet he couldn't imagine her lowering herself to such a level.
Despite himself, he swallowed his concern and stepped off the motorcycle. He slightly creaked the door open to peek inside.
The same three men sat down at a table, smug smirks on their faces. Kichea stood before them, looking at them with a stoic expression. The room was barely lit from small desk lamps on drawers.
"Well, well," the man on the right said. Like the others, he wore a fancy black suit and had short black hair. He looked at her with a hunger look in his eyes. "What does a Swai want with us?"
"I need information on Lord Egerton," she said.
The three men looked at each other and then back at her.
"What you want with our boss, nigger?" the short man in the middle said with a scowl.
Kichea let out a short breath, not letting the word get to her. "What I want is irrelevant to the conversation."
The large man on the left snickered. "Smart bitch ain't ya?"
The man on the right stood up and walked up to her. "And do you suppose to get this information, huh? Asking nicely? Tch, well, unless you got plenty of cash on you, you can always pay with your body."
As he reached his hand out to touch her, Kichea grabbed his wrist and twisted it, forcing him to kneel to the floor. She brandished her gun and pressed it against his temple.
"The fuck?" the large man prepared to stand.
"Move and I'll shoot his ear off." she demanded.
"Bitch!" the shortest man yelled, "Who the hell you think you messing with? Don't you dare disrespect us!"
"You have five seconds to tell me about Lord Egerton."
"I said who the hell you think you messing with! You dare point a gun at us! We'll..."
Kichea pointed her gun at her captive's left ear. A blast of light fired from the gun's barrel and tore his ear clean off.
The man screamed out in pain, blood seeping out from where his ear used to be. The large man stood up and pulled out a revolver from his pocket.
Kichea shot another blast of light at his hand, causing him to drop the weapon. He wailed out in pain, grasping his bleeding hand.
Both times she fired, there were no sounds of a gunshot. Instead, there was a faint humming sound emitting from the pistol.
Guthrie's eyes widened in complete shock. W-Was that Light Magia?
"Y-You stupid..." the short man shook in fear.
"You have three seconds before I kill one of your associates," Kichea said, pressing her gun against her prisoner's head, "Just try and test me."
"O-Okay!" he surrendered, "W-What do you want to know?"
"What kind of Magia can he use? Does he have any experience for the crown?"
"He can use Wind Magia! H-He did serve the Black Knights once a couple of years ago, but he quit!"
Kichea threw her captive aside and placed her gun back into her hostler. Without a word, she walked out of the building.
"Let's go." she said to Guthrie, snapping him out of shock.
"Whoa, whoa!" he said, "What was that all about?"
She started the engine. Reluctantly, Guthrie hopped onto the motorcycle and the two rookies drove off.