"The Sword of Mercy may be the strongest weapon you'll ever find, but its complexity makes it one of the hardest to master. Giving the wielder the power to do as they so desire, it was sought out by many people. A noble knight, who had it in his possession, sensed the danger of the sword getting into the wrong hands, and he hid it away forever. Only one of a pure heart could find it, or else it would be used for the wrong purposes. According to the legend, It is hidden somewhere in the Shamnese Alps."
- A Chapter from the Legendary Sword of Mercy

Marchion, the Grand Viscount of the State of Scarnov, spotted his son, Lord Astralis, once again reading the book on the legendary Sword of Mercy. He sighed. Surely, his son would know that the sword was merely a myth? That book was given to Astralis by an old man as thanks for his help, when they were at the marketplace looking for supplies. Since then, his son became more interested in it than anything else. He approached his son, whose back was turned to him.

"Well, my son." Grand Viscount Marchion told his son, who jumped when he heard him. "Are you aware that this sword thing is merely the creation of myth? It doesn't exist, and it would be better if you did your training instead of always reading that book. They're waiting for you outside."

"Ah, Father." Astralis said, standing up and bowing at him when he regained his composure. "With all due respect, all myths start with a basis of truth, no?"

"Well, that may be so, but your training is more important." Grand Viscount Marchion said, concerned. "You're going to lead Scarnov someday, and it would be better for a nobleman such as yourself to actually train, rather than to read about some sword that probably doesn't exist."

"But, Father!" Astralis said, "Just think about it! If there really was this kind of sword in existence, wouldn't it be bad if some evil person got it?" Getting an idea, Astralis said, "Perhaps I should go look for it, father. That way, we can be sure that it will be placed in the right hands."

"Are you saying that you're going off to look for this sword?" Grand Viscount Marchion asked Astralis. "Surely you're not serious?"

"I'm serious, father." Astralis told him.

Grand Viscount Marchion's heart sank. It would be a dangerous task to let his son go off to look for a mythical sword, all by himself. "Just go to training." Grand Viscount Marchion finally said after a few moments of silence, rubbing his head. Astralis didn't look too happy, but he obliged.

Grand Viscount Marchion turned to leave as well, but then he noticed the book left on the table. He took it, and went back to his chambers.

On the way back to his chambers, he looked outside the castle. He saw Astralis doing training, just like he ordered him to. However, he was performing rather poorly. Grand Viscount Marchion sighed when he saw him fall on the ground after sparring with one of the soldiers.

Grand Viscount Marchion entered his chambers, and lighted a lamp. He sat down on a chair and started reading the book of Astralis. He grinned for a split second when he imagined Astralis attempting to search for the sword.

Grand Viscount Marchion had no doubt that his son could find the sword, if it existed. After all, the sword could only be found by someone pure of heart, which Astralis was, no doubt. The only problem of Astralis was that he was too noble, always willing to see the good in people, and always trying not to fight, even when necessary.

Grand Viscount Marchion was deep in thought while reading the book, when someone knocked on the door. He turned around, and it was Captain Jonbar, one of his royal guards.

Grand Viscount Marchion closed the book and went to the captain. "What is it, Captain?" Grand Viscount Marchion asked.

"An emissary from the Princedom of Cassinia-Gamblia arrived, Viscount." He said after saluting Grand Viscount Marchion, and handed him a letter. "Grand Prince Yupov is offering us an alliance, and requests we send our representative there."

Grand Viscount Marchion took the letter and opened it. He read the letter, and then put it away. "I know who to send." Grand Viscount Marchion said. "Lord Astralis. Bring him and Lieutenant Cross to me."

"Alright, Viscount." Captain Jonbar said, turning to leave. Grand Viscount Marchion suddenly thought of something, and called him back.

"How was my son during training? I saw him lose against one of the guards." Grand Viscount Marchion said.

"Oh, you must've not seen the entire thing, Viscount." Captain Jonbar replied, amused. "If you had, you would've known that Lord Astralis got him beaten, but then decided to help him up, to which the guard used to his advantage to take down Lord Astralis."

"I see." Grand Viscount Marchion said. "Alright, leave now and bring them here."

Grand Viscount Marchion paced around the room while waiting for them. He knew the Sword of Mercy was supposedly in the Shamnese Alps, and the Princedom was located in that area. It serve as good political experience for Astralis, while at the same time allowing him to look for the sword, if he so wished. He would assign Captain Jonbar and Lieutenant Cross, two of his best officers, to assist Astralis, and to keep him safe.

He looked at the book again, and opened it. A page fell off. Intrigued, he picked it up, and saw that it was a map of the region, along with a marking on the supposed location of the sword.

"We're here, Viscount." Captain Jonbar said, with Lieutenant Cross and Lord Astralis behind him.

"Good, thank you, Captain." He said. He turned to Astralis. "Son, Prince Yupov would like to sign an alliance with us, and he is waiting for us to send him our representative with our answer. I have decided that you will go. Captain Jonbar and Lieutenant Cross here will go with you."

"I see, father. Alright." Astralis responded, bowing. They turned to leave, but Grand Viscount Marchion stopped Astralis.

"Son, take this." Grand Viscount Marchion told him, handing him the book. Astralis stared at him in surprise. "What's this for? I thought you said it was just a myth?"

"Well, it would never hurt to check." Grand Viscount Marchion said softly, mostly to himself. He also handed Astralis the paper that fell off. "This looks like some sort of map."

Astralis nodded, folding it and putting it back in between the pages of the book. "Yes, father, thank you. When do we leave?"

"Tomorrow morning." Grand Viscount Marchion said. "Please leave now. Get some rest to prepare for tomorrow."

The next day, Grand Viscount Marchion was at the stable helping them out. Once everyone got on their horses, he handed Astralis a bag.

"Here's two hundred kaschs." Grand Viscount Marchion said. "Just in case you incur any extra expenses. But I'm sure it'll be more than enough. Good luck, son."

"I won't let you down, father." Astralis promised.

"Keep him safe, won't you?" Grand Viscount Marchion told Captain Jonbar and Lieutenant Cross.

"Certainly, Viscount." Captain Jonbar replied. Lieutenant Cross nodded.

Grand Viscount Marchion nodded. "Take care. Goodbye!"

Lord Astralis waved back at his father as they went off. They left the castle grounds, and were now on their way out of the Capital City of Scarnov. They were heading for the Port City of Alistair, where they would take a ship to the Duchy of Tekanova, before finally reaching the Princedom of Cassinia-Gamblia and the Shamnese Alps. They continued in silence until afternoon.

"Well, My Lord, pardon me for asking a question." Captain Jonbar said, breaking the silence. "What is it about this Legendary Sword of Mercy? I'm familiar with the myth, but are we really going to look for it."

"That's what we're going to do, Captain." Lord Astralis nodded. "We'll find it before anyone else gets a hold of it."

"Yes, My Lord, but with all due respect, are you sure that book is reliable?" Lieutenant Cross cut in, eyeing the book warily. "Where did you even find it?"

"An old man gave it to me after I helped him, when my father and I were in the market." Astralis answered, taking out the map. "Let's see, so according to the map, once we arrive at the Duchy of Tekanova, we should head towards the Shamnese Alps. We're also nearing the town of Helsion Circle; we should rest there for a bit before continuing on."

"Good thing, My Lord. This heat is killing me." Captain Jonbar joked.

They continued until they reached the town of Helsion Circle. Some of the constables patrolling the area spotted them, and went up to them.

"Lord Astralis, what an unexpected surprise." The most senior of them said. His uniform showed Lord Astralis that he was the chief constable. The chief constable got off his horse and he saluted Lord Astralis. "I am Chief Aster of the Helsion Constabulary. I didn't expect to run into any royalty while doing my inspection."

"We'll just be stopping over for a while, chief." Lord Astralis responded, getting off his horse to shake the chief's hand. "A brief break, and then we'll continue on to Alistair City. We're heading to Cassinia-Gamblia as the Viscount's representatives."

"Ah, I see." Chief Aster said, mounting his horse again. "Everyone, back to your duties. Come, My Lord, I'll show you around."

They followed the chief to the town. He told them about the stables and the nearby inn.

"I'm sure you all are tired; and your horses, too." Chief Aster said. "Assuming you took the trip all the way from the City of Scarnov. Well, may I suggest our fine town's local inn? It's just over there." He pointed at a nearby building. "They have good rooms and even better food. Your horses can go to the stables for a break. I'll call someone to bring them there."

"No need." Lord Astralis said, getting off his horse. "I'll go to the inn myself and get what we need. Chief, please bring them, and my horse, to the stables."

"Are you sure you'll be alright, My Lord?" Lieutenant Cross asked him. "The Viscount said that we should stay with you at all times."

"I'll be fine." Lord Astralis insisted. "Off you go, Chief."

The Chief nodded, talking as they trotted away. "Well, as I was saying, Lieutenant…."

Lord Astralis entered the inn, and was greeted by the owner and bartender.

"Good morning, sir." The owner greeted him, not realizing it was Lord Astralis. "What will it be for today?"

"A room for a few hours would be good." Lord Astralis replied. "There's three of us; we're not staying long."

"We have some rooms available, sir." He said, looking at a list. "That would be ten kaschs."

Lord Astralis took out the money, and was about to hand it to the owner when five men suddenly burst in.

Everyone turned to see who it was, but when they saw the five men, they turned back, minding their own business. The owner was frightened and tried to hide, but then one of the men spotted him.

"Oy, Jonah!" The man said with a sinister smile, approaching him while holding a knife. "We're here for the rest of the money."

The innkeeper stopped in his tracks, he smiled nervously at them, "Aye, Brufus. I'll pay you next time! I Promise! But my wife got sick last week, so we can't afford it today!"

Brufus closed in on him, holding a dagger to his throat, "Well, what did I warn you about this? Pay up, otherwise it might be your head." The four men approached the scared innkeeper. Brufus was about to teach the innkeeper a lesson when Lord Astralis stopped him.

"Stop." He said, raising his hand. They turned to him. "This has gone on long enough. There's no need for violence."

"And you are?" Brufus asked him.

"I should be asking you the same thing." Astralis said. "Extortion and attempted murder is what I'm seeing here. What is the meaning of this?"

"Well, you not from around here, I suppose?" Brufus taunted him, "Because if you wood know we are the biggest gang here in these parts!" the four other men laughed. "And this innkeeper here owes us one hundred kaschs since three months ago."

"You'll need to find another way of getting that money, then." Lord Astralis said. "I will not tolerate violence in my-" He was suddenly pushed by Brufus, and he hit the table behind him, turning it over and getting water spilled on him."
"What do you care about my personal business?" Brufus said. "You don't see me telling you to go get training. Hey look, everyone, we have a good boy over here that can't even fight!"

The people laughed, some due to fear of the gangsters. Lord Astralis got up, coughing. "You'll find out that that was a terrible mistake."

"Who are you talking to?" Brufus leered. "Yourself? Because I would say-"

"It was about you, actually."

The gangsters turned around. They saw Captain Jonbar, and Lieutenant Cross. A second later Chief Aster arrived with some officers."

"Wait, the Royal Guards?" Brufus said, confused. He recognized their armor and seal. "But then, that means-"

"That's right." Astralis replied. "Now you'd better leave, otherwise we'll just let you stay forever. Rotting. In a prison cell."

Brufus' personality changed when he realized it was Lord Astralis who he fought with. "W-well, My Lord, I apologize for that…." Brufus said, forcing himself and his gang to bow down.

"Leave now and I'll let you off the hook for this one." Lord Astralis said cooly.

"But, well, we still need our one hundred kaschs." Brufus said in a voice of forced politeness. "one hundred and twenty, actually, if you think about the interest."

Astralis took out some coins from his bag, put them somewhere else, then tossed the bag to Brufus. "You'll find there to be one hundred and twenty kaschs."

Brufus shakily took the bag, examined it, and said. "Why, thank you m'lord. I appreciate this." He turned to the bartender, who was still shaking. "Be glad the state is here to pay off your debt with our taxpayer money. You'd better not borrow from me again.

"That's enough." Chief Aster commanded. "Just leave."

The gangsters quickly went away, relieved they got their money and avoided jailtime.

"You shouldn't have done that, My Lord." Chief Aster said. "We could've easily taken them away."

"We're not here to antagonize anyone." Lord Astralis said. "And he has got a point. It wouldn't be fair not to give him back his money, even if it had an outrageous interest rate."

He walked up to the owner and placed thirty kaschs on the table. "Here. Use this money to improve your business. You better stop borrowing from loan sharks. And if they ever come back, tell a constable." He turned to Chief Aster. "Make sure they don't come in here ever again."

"Of course, My Lord." Chief Aster replied.

"Th-th-thank you, My Lord." The owner said. "How can we ever repay you?"

Captain Jonbar joked, "Well, a good room would be a start."

Lord Astralis gave him a look, but the owner just got to work. "Consider it done, sirs! Right this way!"

They had a wonderful break at the inn. They ate the best food and got the best lodging. Astralis cleaned himself up from the altercation with the gangsters.

"My Lord, we have a problem." Lieutenant Cross said. "Since you gave away one-third of the funds, we only have fifty kaschs left."

"Well manage." Lord Astralis assured him. He clapped. "Alright, then, we've rested long enough, let's get going again."

They went downstairs, and Lord Astralis was approached by the owner.

"Psst, My Lord." The owner whispered, shoving a necklace into his hand. "Here is something that my wife and I want you to have, as thanks. I gave it to her as a wedding gift, but now we want you to have it."

"No, really, it's fine." Astralis said, graciously rejecting the gift.

"You're looking for the Sword of Mercy, no?" The owner suddenly said.

"How did you know?" Lord Astralis asked, surprised. They never told anyone about that as their reason for travelling.

"It was said that a noble soul would look for it, and I believe it to be you." The owner said. He pressed the necklace into the Lord's hand once again. "You need this to get the sword."

"But-"

"My Lord, the Chief is here with the mayor, and they brought our horses as well." Lieutenant Cross shouted to him.

"Alright, then." Lord Astralis said. "Well, thank you, sir. I will put this to good use."

"I know you will, My Lord."

He had a brief talk with the town mayor and the chief, and after waving goodbye, they headed off for the port city of Alistair.

"Good thing it's cloudy now, that way we won't get as tired travelling." Captain Jonbar joked.

"My Lord, once we reach Alistair, I have a contact by the name of 'Two-eyed' John. He'll get us across." Lieutenant Cross said.

"Why was he named as such? What a weird nickname to have." Astralis said.

"Indeed, that's what I said, My Lord." Lieutenant Cross replied. "I don't actually know, either. You can go ask him."

When they arrived at Alistair City, they brought their horse to the stables, and headed for the docks.

They looked for 'Two-eyed' John at the docks. Lord Astralis spotted a ship captain, and asked him about it.

"Excuse me, captain." Lord Astralis asked, approaching him. "We're looking for a certain fellow named 'Two-eyed' John, who I think is a ship captain. Do you know him?

"Aye, indeed I do." The captain grinned, and took a deep bow. "'Two-eyed' John, at your service."

"Why are you called that?" Lord Astralis asked. "After all, I can only, uh, see one eye."

The captain moved closer to Lord Astralis and pulled up his eyepatch. "The thing is that I'm actually one of the only captains that managed to keep both eyes intact." He said. "I only wear this eyepatch to make myself seem normal. Not like it works, anyway, everyone knows it's fake and thinks that I'm making fun of them one-eyes."

"I heard that you could get us across. Lord Astralis said.

"Aye, I could." Captain John replied. "We're preparing to sail already. We're just getting the cargo ready; then we'll be good to go."

Just as he said that, his first mate ran up to them, with a worried expression on his face.

"Sir," he said, out of breath. "There's a storm coming this way. We can't set sail until it stops."
"What?" John said, and he turned to Lord Astralis. "I'm sorry, m'lord. It seems that we can't set sail for the now. Perhaps you should stay in the docks, since a heavy storm is coming this way."

"I'll do that, then." Astralis said, "Just call me when we can set sail."

"Just our luck." Lieutenant Cross sighed at the docks. "A storm. It better end soon."

"Maybe we should just play some chess to pass the time." Captain Jonbar suggested. He took out a chess board that he bought from a nearby store. "My Lord?"

"I'll pass." Lord Astralis said, looking at the map. He was reading the inscriptions on it.

"Lieutenant?" Captain Jonbar asked hopefully.

"Alright, but don't get mad if I beat you again." said Lieutenant Cross.

"As if I would let that happen again." Captain Jonbar scoffed, placing the pieces on the board. "White or black?"

Lord Astralis was busy reading more on the Sword of Mercy."In order to gain access to the sword, a number of things must be placed to open it. These things are a sign of the individual's nobility and compassion." The inscription read.

"Mommy, I'm cold."

Lord Astralis looked up and saw a mother with her two children sitting nearby. She was trying to calm them down.
"I'm hungry." Her daughter wailed.

"I know, dears." The mother said. "It's raining hard, so we should stay here for now. We don't have money to buy food, but I promise that we'll get some soon."

"Mommy, I'm hungry!" Her other daughter cried louder.

Lord Astralis looked at Captain Jonbar and Lieutenant Cross. They were too busy playing chess that they didn't notice the mother.

He stood up and walked up to the mother. "Excuse me." He said. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but overhear your problem."

The mother recognized Lord Astralis and bowed immediately.

"I'm sorry, My Lord." She said, with fear in her eyes. She pulled her two children nearer to here. "I'm sorry about my children, it won't happen again. Please understand."

"Oh, I understand completely." Lord Astralis replied, taking out a pouch. "Take this. I'm sure twenty kaschs will be enough to buy food for a few days."

The mother stared at Lord Astralis, surprised. She didn't expect this to happen. Astralis took out another bag and gave it to her. "This bag has some bread in it." Astralis said. "I'm sorry I'm unable to give more, but this will have to do until you can use the money to buy food."

"Thank you, My Lord!" The mother said, getting up and bowing to him. Everyone stared at them.

"It's quite alright, now get up." Astralis said. The mother did as she was told, and handed the bag of bread to her children. "Thank the Lord, children." The mother told her two daughters.

"Thank you, My Lord." One of them said, sniffing. The other one was busy eating the bread.

"I said it's alright." Astralis replied. He hoped they would stop treating him like he was above them, because he didn't like the looks of the other people. Just then, one of the children sneezed, and he remembered that they were cold.

He took off his cloak and placed it around them. "Take this." Lord Astralis said. "You'll need it more than me."

The mother said nothing. Instead, she slowly removed a ring from her finger, and offered it to Lord Astralis.

Lord Astralis was about to push it away and say something, but she cut him off.

"Please, My Lord." She insisted. "If you take this from me, it will greatly lift up my spirits. It was my husband's and I think he would be very happy to know that you have it. It is worthless, other than having sentimental value to me, but I'm sure it will help you on your quest."

"In that case, thank you. I will use this well." Astralis said, pocketing the ring as he did with the necklace. He was about to ask how she knew about his mission, but then Lieutenant Cross went up to him.

"My Lord, it stopped raining." He told Astralis. "The captain said that we'll be leaving shortly. We should get going."

Astralis nodded. He said goodbye to the mother and her children, and they met up with Captain John, who was talking to a grumpy looking Captain Jonbar.

"You beat him at chess, didn't you?" Lord Astralis asked Lieutenant Cross.

"Of course." Lieutenant Cross answered.

"No wonder he's like that." Astralis said.

"Aye, My Lord, you're here." Captain John greeted Lord Astralis. "We'll be departing shortly. Come along, now."
They got on the ship and departed for Dominia, capital city of the Duchy of Tekanova.

During the trip Lord Astralis stayed in his cabin. He was holding the ring and necklace in his hand, wondering what they meant.

He heard a knock on the door. He got up and opened the door. It was an old sailor.

"What is it?" Lord Astralis asked.

"Here is your meal, My Lord." The sailor responded, placing a tray of food on the table. "Captain also wanted me to give you this." He placed a pocketwatch on the table as well.

"Alright, thank you." Lord Astralis replied, taking out a kasch and offering it to the old sailor. "Please take this."

"Oh, no, sir. I couldn't possibly accept that." The old sailor replied, bowing. "It's our service."

"Then consider this my service." Lord Astralis said, putting the coin in the old man's palm and closing it. "Thank you for your hard work."

"Thank you for your work too, My Lord." The old man said, taking a deep bow. He left the room.

Astralis ate a bit of the food on the table. He took the pocketwatch, intrigued. Why would the captain give him this? He opened the watch, and a small letter fell out.

He picked it up, and read it.

"Lord Astralis, I have heard about your quest to look for the Sword of Mercy. This watch will help you find that thing you seek, so keep it safe. Remember to always be compassionate, even after you get the sword."

Astralis wasn't as surprised as he was supposed to be. It appeared that a lot of people somehow found out about his actual goal, although he didn't know why. He left the cabin to ask the captain about it.

He went out, and was greeted by the flags of the Duchy of Tekanova. They finally arrived at the mainland. He went back to his room and packed everything before leaving.

He went to look for the others. He saw Lieutenant Cross on the rails, patting a terrible looking Captain Jonbar.

"Finally it's over. I can't wait to get back on land, I feel so seasick." Captain Jonbar said to Lieutenant Cross.

"I guess it's time to get going again." Lord Astralis told them. "Come on, Captain. I'm sure you'll be glad to finally get off the ship." He and Lieutenant Cross supported the captain on each side.
"Welcome to the glorious city of Dominia, Capital of the Duchy of Tekanova!" announced the Tekovese guards. "Remember to register with the custom authorities!"

Captain John was with his first mate supervising the cargo. Lord Astralis spotted them and went to the Captain.

"Captain John, you have a moment?" Lord Astralis asked him. The captain looked at him, and told the first mate to continue without him.

"What is it, My Lord? Any problems with the journey?" Captain John asked.

"No, it's not that." Lord Astralis said. "How did you learn about the Sword of Mercy?"

"Eh, the what now?" Captain John asked, surprised. "Listen, My Lord, I don't know what gave you the impression that I knew whatever in the world that was."

"You gave me this watch. The sailor said you did." Lord Astralis pressed on, showing the captain the pocketwatch. "It had a note stuck on it."

Captain John looked surprised. "I didn't give you anything. And I most certainly did not write a letter."

It was Astralis' turn to get confused. "If you didn't write the letter or give it to me, then who did? And why did they say you gave it to me?"

"No idea." Captain John shrugged. "Maybe if you got his name, I would know."

"I didn't get his name, unfortunately." Lord Astralis said, a bit disappointed.

"Well, there's nothing we can do about it now." Captain John sighed. "Maybe you should get going now, My Lord. It'll be a trip to the Shamnese Alps."

"I'll be seeing you around, then, Captain." Lord Astralis said, nodding. "Goodbye; thanks for the trip!"

The went to the nearby stables, and brought three horses for their travel. They had to leave their original horses behind. It was here that Captain Jonbar noticed that they only had a few coins left.

"We'd better spend money more wisely." Captain Jonbar said. "We only have a bit of money left. I'm not sure if we should try and look for the sword, My Lord. Perhaps we should just head straight for Cassinia-Gamblia."

"We'll make it." Lord Astralis insisted. Captain Jonbar looked at Lieutenant Cross for support, but he said nothing.

While heading towards the Alps, they passed by a small country farm. Outside, Astralis saw some farmers attempting to plough the hard soil, but to no avail. They already looked tired.

"Excuse me, sirs!" He called out to the farmer, who looked up. "Do you need any help with that?"
"Well," A farmer shouted back, "We wouldn't mind a bit of help."

"Come on." Lord Astralis told Captain Jonbar and Lieutenant Cross.

Astralis heard Captain Jonbar groan. "I get paid to protect Lord Astralis, not till the fields."

They went closer to the farm and tied the horses to the fences. They got off and Astralis went to talk with the farmer.

"What seems to be the problem here?" Astralis asked the farmer.
"Well-" The farmer started, before noticing he was Lord Astralis of Scarnov. "Wait, aren't you the Lord of Scarnov?"
"Yes." Astralis sighed. "That's me. But don't let that bother you. What happened? "
"We cannot ask you to help me pull this, sir!" Another farmer responded. "Especially a foreign noble such as yourself! No offense, My Lord." He added hastily.

"Just tell us what to do to help." Lord Astralis insisted. "You help us by feeding us. Let us help you." With a flash of inspiration, he added, "We won't leave until you do."

The farmers sighed. "Well, My Lord, if that's what you want." One of the farmers finally said. "We need help to plough these fields. It hasn't rained in quite a while, so it's hard."

"Oh, is that all you needed?" Lord Astralis replied. "No problem, just leave it to us. Lieutenant, Captain, help me out here."

They managed to plough the field after several tries. "Whew, now it's finally done." Lord Astralis sighed in relief. "By the way, why are you doing this by yourselves? Don't you have any oxen?"

"We have one." A farmer replied quietly. "But we think he got sick a few days ago and we don't know what to do about it."

"Bring me to him." Lord Astralis said. He spent most of his time studying, so he knew a bit about veterinary.

They brought him to the ox, which was lying in the barn. He went up to it cautiously, and examined it. "It's alright, I'm here to help." Lord Astralis told the ox.

"He's sick alright." Lord Astralis told the worried farmers.

"Is he going to be alright?" One of them asked.

"Well, in any case." He said, handing the farmer five kaschs, "Use this to get a vet. If that still doesn't work, just buy another ox." He said, handing the farmer twenty kaschs.

"Aye, we thank you, m'lord!" An old farmer said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a seed, which he put into Lord Astralis' hand.
"My Lord, please accept this." The farmer said, "It's a seed for a plant that doesn't grow here. But, maybe you will be able to make it grow back home."

"Thank you, then, my good sir." Lord Astralis replied, "Now, we have to get going. It's getting late."

"Are you sure you won't stay for a while?" A farmer asked them. "We can prepare you a feast as thanks."

"We should, especially seeing you almost gave all our money away." Captain Jonbar said.

Lord Astralis looked at him; then turned back. "As tempting as that sounds, we'll have to pass. We need to get going if we want to arrive by nightfall."

"Oh, alright then, My Lord." They said, disappointed. "But, we'll be here in case you need a break when you come back."

"I look forward to it." Lord Astralis replied, waving goodbye to the farmers as they mounted their horses and continued.

Nearing the Alps, Lord Astralis took out the map. He saw a break in the mountain pass, just like on the map.

"That way." He said, pointing at the break.

At first, it seemed like this was a dead end, with rows and rows of trees surrounding them.

"Perhaps we should head back." Lieutenant Cross suggested. "We don't seem to be getting anywhere. Plus, it's already dark."

"Just keep going." Lord Astralis said. "We are getting close, I can feel it.

They continued deeper into the forest, and eventually, they came to a cave opening.

They got off, and Captain Jonbar lighted three sticks and gave one to each of them.

Inside the cave, they were a lot of inscriptions on the wall. It looked like someone was in the cave, based on footprints leading inside.

"We might not be the only ones here." Lord Astralis told them cautiously. "Stay on guard."

As they went deeper inside, they came across a round stone blocking the path, that needed some things to open. There were four pedestals. Taking out the map and reading the writing, it appeared that this was the part that he needed to sacrifice some things. But what things? "Hmm, exactly like the book said." Astralis thought to himself. He paced around, wondering, while Lieutenant Cross and Captain Jonbar patrolled the area. He took out the book, hoping for a sign. Then it hit him.

He read the chapter on the reasons why the knight hid the sword away.

"There were three reasons for him to hide the sword. First, he knew he did not have much time left. He would either have to hide the sword or passing it on to the wrong person. Second, he loved his family dearly, especially his dear daughter. He knew passing the sword to her would just put her at risk by evil men. Third, the sword would be a destructor of life in the wrong hands, and he could not have that. Anyone who wanted to get the sword would have to pay in blood."

Astralis paced around, thinking about what it meant, and looking at the four pedestals. Maybe it needed something symbolic?

Not much time left. Not much time. That's it, time. He remembered the pocketwatch, and he placed it on the first pedestal.

On the second one, it was love. He had two thing that could symbolize love. The necklace and the ring. But, seeing as there were four pedestals, he placed one on each.

The last one was about the destruction of life. Maybe it meant that he needed something that created life? He got the seed and placed it there.

After waiting a while, nothing happened. He read the book again, and the last paragraph.

Would have to pay in blood. But what did that mean? That he needed to put his actual blood somewhere? Looking around, he finally saw a handprint above the stone.

Looking around to see if Lieutenant Cross and Captain Jonbar weren't there, he took out his knife and slashed his hand. Suppressing the urge to shout in pain, he strained his hand to reach the top, and he placed his hand there.

Just as he did that, however, the cave suddenly shook. He stood back.

"What was that, is the cave falling down?" He heard Lieutenant Cross shout.

"I don't know, but let's go back and check on Lord Astralis!" Captain Jonbar exclaimed.

Astralis stood back in awe as the stone rolled away. Another pathway was available.

"You did it, My Lord!" Captain Jonbar explained. Lieutenant Cross saw Lord Astralis' bloody hand, and was concerned.

"My Lord, is your hand fine?" Lieutenant Cross asked.

"Yes, it is. Don't worry about it." Lord Astralis said. He held the torch in his uninjured hand, and entered the pathway. As he did, however, the entrance collapsed beside him.

He fell on the ground. He managed to get up, coughing as dust settled around him. He could hear Lieutenant Cross and Captain Jonbar outside.

"Sir, are you alright?!" Lieutenant Cross shouted.

"It's no use, we can't get this open!" Captain Jonbar exclaimed, straining to move the rocks.

"I'm fine!" Lord Astralis shouted to them. He picked up the torch on the ground. "I'll find another way out, you two get some help!"

They went off to get help, while Astralis inspected his surroundings. There was a long pathway leading straight ahead.

He slowly walked forward. Hopefully, there would be an exit ahead. However, what he found was even more surprising.

It was the Sword of Mercy.

The sword was on placed top of a rock. Despite being old, it was still in good condition.

He slowly picked it up, and looked at it. He was looking at the blade when he saw the reflection of an old man behind him.

"Lord Astralis, it is a good thing you finally arrived."

He turned around, holding the sword at the old man. He was walking closer to him However, he realized something.

"Wait a moment." Astralis said, lowering the sword. "You're the old man who gave me the book at the market."

"Indeed I am, My Lord." The old man nodded. "I'm also the one who helped you get everything you needed to get in here."

"How?" Astralis asked.

"I told the bartender to give you that necklace." The old man said. "I told the mother to give her ring to the next person who helped her, which I knew was going to be you. The farmer? I gave him that seed to give to you. And the old sailor who gave you the watch, and whom you gave one kasch to, was me."

"But why did you do this?" Astralis asked. "What is in it for you?"

The old man sighed. "I am a descendant of the man that the knight tasked to protect the sword. For centuries we kept that sword safe. But alas, there is a time when all must end. I'm getting old, and I didn't know what to do. That was until you helped me in the market. I knew the sword would be better off in your hand."

"Lord Astralis, you are a fine, young, capable man." He said, pacing around the room while Astralis stood there, listening. "Even more when we take into account your actions. I have watched you since your travels, and I am honored to have the privilege to see you take the sword. May you and your family keep it safe, and never forget what being noble is."

He bowed to Lord Astralis, who told him to get up.

"I am honored, too." Astralis replied. "But how can I get out? The entrance caved in."

"Ah, my apologies, My Lord." The old man said, taking a bow. "I needed to speak to you alone. But, anyways, there is another exit. Follow me."

He followed the old man through the cave system. He wondered how much longer it would be, but soon they were already outside the cave, in the trees.

"We are out now, Lord Astralis." The old man said. "This is where we part ways. I hope you never stray from the path of righteousness.

"Thank you. Now, may I-?" Astralis was telling the old man when he realized he was gone. He looked around, but there was no more sight of him.

He sighed, and went to wait in front of the cave entrance. Lieutenant Cross and Captain Jonbar didn't return yet. He waited for them, thinking about what happened. He had so many unanswered questions.

Soon, he saw several Cassinian-Gamblian knights approaching him, along with Captain Jonbar and Lieutenant Cross. He went up to them, and they were surprised to see him.

"Lord Astralis, we were patrolling nearby when we heard that you were stuck. What happened?" One of the knights, a sergeant, asked, surprised. He glared at Lieutenant Cross. "Is this some kind of joke?"

"My sincerest apologies, sergeant." Lord Astralis said. "I managed to find another way out."

Lieutenant Cross got off his horse, and looked at the sword in Astralis' hands. "Is that the Sword of Mercy, My Lord?" he asked.

"Yes, it is." Lord Astralis replied. He looked at the sergeant. "Sergeant, my apologies, we got lost on our way to the city. Now, do you mind escorting us there?"

"Not at all." The sergeant nodded. "The Prince is expecting you. He'll be surprised. Come on."

They went to the palace of Prince Yupov, who was overjoyed upon seeing Lord Astralis.

"I suppose this means he accepted the offer?" Prince Yupov said excitedly, shaking Lord Astralis' hand. "We are looking forward to a prosperous relationship with Grand Grand Viscount Marchion and the State of Scarnov."

After an elaborate feast, Astralis requested to have a meeting with the chief weaponsmith of the palace. He brought Lieutenant Cross and Captain Jonbar along.

"Good evening, My Lord, what is it that you need?" The weaponsmith asked.

"Good evening, what can you tell me about this sword?" Astralis asked the weaponsmith, holding out the Sword of Mercy.

"Hmm, let me see." The weaponsmith said, taking the sword and examining it. A while later he returned with the sword. "I don't know what you intend to discover, My Lord." He said, returning the sword. "But this is just a regular sword. Old, yes, but just a regular sword."

"Ah, I see, thank you." Lord Astralis said, disappointed. He got the sword back. So the sword was just a fake?

The next they, they left to return for Scarnov. The Prince and his entourage were there to bid farewell to them.

During the trip back, Astralis said nothing. Lieutenant Cross noticed him and tried to talk to him.

"My Lord, are you still thinking about the sword being a fake?" Lieutenant Cross asked.

"Mm-hm" Lord Astralis replied, not looking up.

Lieutenant Cross said nothing, but was deep in thought.

They made a few minor stops on the return journey, and after arriving back in Scarnov, Lord Astralis was called by his father.

"What did the Prince say?" Grand Viscount Marchion asked his son.

"He said he was glad and wishes a prosperous relationship for both our nations." Astralis answered.

Grand Viscount Marchion nodded. "And the Sword of Hope? Did you find it?" He asked.

"It was fake, father."

Grand Viscount Marchion stared at his son. "What do you mean by that?"

"It was actually nothing, father." Astralis said, disappointed. "The old man that gave me that book? Apparently, he was in on it. He helped me get the sword, but when it was checked, it was just a regular sword. You were right not to believe in these myths and legends."

Grand Viscount Marchion sighed, and took a sip from his cup. He though for a while before replying. "Son, Lieutenant Cross told me what happened. On your way there, you helped a lot of people. Perhaps, the sword wasn't what was important after all, but it was you."

"What do you mean, father?"

"Well, you helped those people, yes?" Grand Viscount Marchion asked. Astralis nodded. "Perhaps that was the important thing all along. You helped them with no hope of a reward. You managed to open the cave. Only someone with compassion could do that."

Grand Viscount Marchion sat down. "The sword is fake. Perhaps, it was always a fake. But what the cave showed you was that you are much more than that sword. You opened it when only the most noble of people could. You even sacrificed your own blood. One day you will lead Scarnov, and I have no doubt your compassion will help you lead it to a bright future."

"Thank you, father." Lord Astralis said, hugging his father.

Lord Astralis eventually became Grand Viscount after the death of his father. He ruled fairly and just, never turning a blind eye to crime. He eventually became known as Grand Viscount Astralis 'The Sword of Mercy' after his death, in honor for his contributions to the welfare of the people.

As for the actual Sword of Mercy, it was really just a regular sword. Grand Viscount Astralis still kept it, however, to remember to always rule wisely. He never forgot.