Meanwhile, Moira was having a difficult time with her father. After he had recovered from the misfired, melting mist, he focused all of his attention on his daughter. Moira was outclassed. He fired down his lightning in waves, hovering down as he did. Moira had no defense against it. She just ran from it like a scared little girl. It's all she could do, all she had ever done. Her father had always known more chaotic magic than she bothered to learn. It was just like when she had left him the first time. She was not attracted to the dark arts like him or her siblings. She wanted to heal - not destroy.

The tandem bolts cut the ground and sheared the earth, slashing at her like bright knives. Her legs couldn't carry her fast enough as she held-up her tattered dress and scampered from her father. A constant pain flowed up to her chest, her heart beating like a wild drums.

Touching down on the ground gently, the warlock relinquished the lightning, saying, "Come along now, dearest Moira, this is your end. Accept it, my sweet." His voice a dark, sinister tone. Much like it had been the first time, and the last time, she had been hunted by her family.

She hid behind another building and wished that her knight would come and save her. She knew he wasn't a knight but that didn't matter. He was in armor, well-skilled, handsome, young, regal - he had to save her. That was how it goes, right? The brave knight saves the damsel in distress. (Well, she was a witch but a witch in distress with a little forest magic.)

Realizing that she did have some magic, she looked down at the grass blades and concentrated. They lit up with power and hovered up towards her, all of them lined-up like dutiful soldiers awaiting her command. She slung her hand at her father, sending them to attack.

Flying towards the warlock like small, green arrows, they slashed and crashed into his body. A few cut him just below the eye while others nicked his hands. Most of them just glanced off his clothes and faded into oblivion. The warlock smirked and sardonically asked, "Grass? I fight you with bolts of lightning - fire from the gods - and you give me… grass?"

Moira came out of hiding and ran for new cover.

"Kids! Always a disappointment!" The warlock threw out a new attack. This one a wall of fire. It rushed for Moira, chasing after her like a stampede, nearly hitting her but she was pulled away from the wave-blaze by strong hands. She was suddenly in the arms of a strong, tall, comforting man.

Reginald looked down at Moira and asked with a bright, proud smile. "Grass? I have to admit, that caught me completely off guard. I think it was a great attack."

"You saw that?" Moira asked, enchanted. "It was all I could come up with."

"Sometimes those are the best bets. Good for you, Moira."

She blushed. "Thank you, sir - Reginald."

"Just Reginald. I think its time you hand this over to a professional."

Another rush of lightning glazed over them and Reginald quickly, and successfully, tossed Moira out of the way, blocking the bolts with his claymore. The lightning lit up the sword and made it shine like a beacon of power as the surge was guided upwards into the sky. It flashed into the heavens and broke through the cloud cover revealing a darkened, smoke gray sky. It was then the rain started to pour.

The toothed sword returned to normal and the two combatants stood silent on the battlefield. The pouring rain outlined them in void auras. Reginald's stone blue eyes gazed menacingly at the warlock, his mind filled with hundreds of ways to destroy the monstrous magic user. The warlock returned the gaze, just as menacing and just as destructive.

As if obeying an alarm set off by the world, Reginald swung his sword and rushed the warlock like a bull. He screamed out with fury and slammed his claymore down on the skull of the warlock, but what happened was the blade met a shield. A pop of blue sparks and a loud crack was heard. Not one hair was out of place on the warlock's head. Reginald tried again with another hard, furious, strong swing, this time to the abdomen. Another pop of sparks accompanied by a loud, hollow crack followed.

Moira's maniacal father smiled fiendishly at Reginald and grabbed the warrior by the throat, hoisting him off the ground with magically imbued strength. Reginald tried to breath but just a raspy gasp came out. The broad-shouldered mercenary was at the whim of this mad wizard. He was then thrown to the ground like a discarded piece of trash and rolled several times before coming to a stop. He struggled to get up but slipped and tumbled on the stony road.

The warlock stepped over the ravaged warrior and picked him up by his wet hair, tearing out a chunk of follicles. Reginald was back on his feet and swung for the warlock. Disappearing and reappearing right in front of him, the warlock sent the beaten rogue hard to the ground for a second time, easily knocking him to the road like an uprooted sapling.

Grunting with pain, Reginald rolled over and spit out a large starburst of blood. He was then hauled to his feet again and tossed into a garden of some sort, breaking through a thick wooden fence and crashing into a prickly bush. Roses and small shrubbery surrounded him as he tried to get up on his own, his face a crimson mask. He rolled onto his back and wheezed out, feeling stiff and dismantled.

The warlock placed his hand on his chest and spoke to him, whispering out, "Feel the power of the gods."

Suddenly his chest plate became scorching hot. It burned and singed his skin as Reginald screamed in agony, smoke rising from his body and burning his bosom. He yelled and bit at the pain, trying to fight back. Finally he was let go of, pulling the burning armor from his body. He then tossed it away like a diseased animal. He grimaced in pain and tried to get up. His skin burned, his energy fading fast. The evil magician pushed him back down with just his foot, feeling like a heavy, full barrel on his spine. Again, with as much as he could muster, Reginald tried to lift himself, but he wasn't going anywhere.

The warlock looked down and said, "Any fool can calculate strength."

As Reginald reached for one of his hand axes, it felt like he was trying to reach around the world, but he got hold of the handle and raised it. He didn't get to do anything with it though as that immense, heavy foot applied more pressure and Reginald actually thought he heard his ribcage pop. He screamed with blood running from the corner of his mouth. (Well, he tried to scream. It was more like a thin, raspy hiss.)

He dropped the ax. Unbearable pain racked his body, making him give up his only weapon. With all his strength he tried one more time to get up. He grinded his teeth and growled out against the heavy weight. He felt his back lift off the ground, filling himself with rage. The warlock just sneered with frustration and pushed back with his magic, but Reginald pushed as well, focusing all his emotions into one monumental push. His sternum flexed to its maximum limit, and everything in his body burned as he pushed back against the wizard. He was actually starting to lift.

In a fit of bewilderment and anger, the warlock screamed out, "Impossible!"

That was when his daughter, Moira, stepped on scene and said, "It's not, dad. It's the one strength you can't calculate."

Suddenly, a gaggle of vines popped out of the ground and wrapped themselves around every spare limb the warlock had. Both his feet were tied along with his wrists. They pulled him off of Reginald as the warrior rolled over and grabbed his ax with a primal scream of pain. He struggled to get to one knee, holding his scorched chest, looking at the restrained magician.

As an extra vine from beneath exploded forth, and wrapped around the warlock's neck, he turned towards his daughter and growled out, "You think these will stop me?! Your weak, white magic is no match for my chaotic, powerful, brutal sorcery." He closed his eyes and concentrated. All the vines that held him at bay suddenly burst in to flames, charring black, withering to the ground like burnt leaves. He dropped to the ground and shrugged off the last remaining bits of the restrictive greenery.

In response, Moira simply said, "No," adding; "I just needed it to distract you."

The warlock, realizing his daughter's strategy, turned towards Reginald who was already up on his feet, and had tossed his ax for his chest. Quickly, the warlock raised his hands with bolts to block the weapon but not quick enough. The ax struck a direct hit in the heart of the warlock, making him falter to the ground with an excruciating wail. The lightning bolts zapped all around Reginald but did not hit him. They whipped and flashed around like lost birds, but none impacted the damaged mercenary. He walked slowly over to the warlock and kicked the ax deeper into Moira's father's chest, driving the blade into the sorcerer's dark heart. Another wail of agony came from him as he fell to the ground, dead.

Moira came over by Reginald's side as the two watched her father evaporate into nothingness. First, his skin withered away, wilting like dead flower petals against the bones until nothing was left but his skeleton and his dark blue robes. Even that seeped into the ground, sinking down into the dirt like a wrecked ship at sea.

After her dad's corpse had sunken down beneath the earth, Moira burst into tears and hugged Reginald. The large man returned the embrace, not sure what else to do. He had experienced very little affection in his life. He tried to remember the last time he had been hugged and figured it had been years.

When she was finally done crying, Moira looked up at Reginald and apologized. Reginald shrugged it off with her then asking, wiping away the tears, "What will you do now?"

"Collect my bounty and be off." Reginald turned from her and began to head towards the village, trying ignore his growing feelings for her.

Moira folded her hands close to her dress and nimbly asked, "Reginald?"

He turned towards her. His chest laid bare, a tone, thick, muscular rock. His eyes and face strong granite as he waited patiently.

"Need some company?"

He smiled. "Not the company you mean. Go home, Moira."

Grim and sorrowfully, she lowered her head, bowing with hurt in her heart. "I do."

That same cocky, knowing smile stayed on his face. "Keep looking." He wouldn't take advantage of her. To him, she was still a child and didn't know what she was saying, still grieving over the loss of her father. As much as he did miss the feel and "company" of a woman, he barely knew her, and he had just killed her father. It wouldn't be right. He might not be a knight, but that still didn't mean he didn't have a code of honor, and he would abide by it.

Reginald met with the weapons' smith and was paid as much as he had been promised. He even got the smith to make him a new chest plate.

Before leaving, he tried to find Moira once again, to give her half for her help, but when he went back to the same spot in the woods, she was gone. No pathway, no smoke from her shack, not even the faintest glimpse of a rainbow-colored hare or white doe. A regretful feeling swallowed him whole that even if he had found one of her animals, or her cottage, he would have never found her. She was gone, disappeared deep into the forest she so loved. Reginald smiled sadly, knowing it was as it should be. He took half the gold he had earned and put it in a separate pouch, leaving it on the side of the main road. He then rode off on his horse, saying, "Goodbye, Moira. Thanks for the help, partner."

Behind Reginald came a small, grass-green rabbit. It grabbed the small coin purse and ran off with it, disappearing into the woods, just like the pathway and Moira had.

~THE END~


A/N: Well, of this point in Reginald's life anyway. There is yet more to come so keep reading, and keep enjoying! As always, I happily wait to read reviews!)