Author's notes : Hello people of this great site, a little message before the story. First of all, I must tell that english is not my first language. Therefore, I would be pleased if you would point my eventual mistakes, both in grammar and spelling. Secondly, this story is a sort of hobby of mine that I decided to put on this site recently. Translating them will take time and so chapters will not come regulary. But I hope you will enjoy the story nonetheless. I happily welcome review, so don't be shy ! Good reading !

EDIT : I entirely rewrited this chapter to put it on the level of the rest. A great thank to pt1oef once again for doing the beta-reading ! Everyone, I hope you will enjoy this improved chapter ! Good reading !

The Fiery Queen of Nohr : Part 1

The immense arch could have been daunting, both in size and age. Towering above a wild and desolate land of rock, it would have been a size to behold for most. But for the Ashen One who crossed the magnificent gates of Anor Londo, city of the gods, it was only an arch. If not for rumors saying the structure could take any crossing it to another world.

Such a thing would usually be hardly impressive for the woman in armor. Had she not invaded hundred parallel worlds? Been invaded the same way by avenging specters, pillagers in search of embers, or even those who simply sought the thrill of a fight? However, something was different about this gate, something that motivated the Ashen One into seeking it. The gate would lead not to world mirror of her own, but to entirely separate, different worlds altogether.

For a long time, the Ashen One had been skeptical. World without the Fire? Without Darkness? Without the Curse of the Undead? She first laughed at the delusions such rumors created and kept tracking the Lords of Cinder. However, little by little, her outlook changed. The Painted World of Ariandel had opened her eyes, to a cold and gentle world living without the Fire. Even then she kept going on the goal she believed was her: take down the Lord of Cinders, use their fire to ignite the First Flame again and save the world from the Dark.

But then, after being crowned as heir of the Lords of Cinder, ready to fulfill her duty and face the First Flame, she discovered a secret path. A path to the Ringed City, where the gods concealed their secrets from the world. She saw the future that have been hidden from all: the inevitable end of a dying world sustained only by a fading Flame, collapsing on itself as all sacrifices to save it were in vain. This vision shaken her. In an instant, the remaining of her sacrificial beliefs faded, replaced by a new resolution. The will to survive. At all cost.

The Ashen One came back and talked to the Firekeeper. The blind girl was at first unwilling, her sole purpose in existence being to save the Flame and the world, an endeavor the Ashen One now knew was pointless. In the end, the Firekeeper was given back her eyes, eyes she had been deprived of to prevent her from seeing the truth. Only then the Firekeeper accepted. Accepted to betray the Flame, to end the Age of Fire as It should have a long time ago. But for it to happen, the Ashen One had to become strong enough to overcome the Flame.

And thus, the woman in armor sought for the strongest beings, the strongest souls of all to gain their power. She did not fear death, for undead like the Ashen One never stayed dead for long. She fell the old demon king, ending the near-extinct demon kind. Slew the Darkeater Midir, descendant of the Ancient Dragons. Triumphed of the Nameless King, forgotten and hollow heir of the gods. She even managed to defeat the slave knight Gael, gone mad from the mythical soul he carried, the embodiment of humanity: The Dark Soul.

However this Dark Soul, the Ashen One did not used it. She gave it to the little painting girl living in the frozen World of Ariandel, so she could paint a new world with it. The girl offered the Ashen One to give her name to the painting, to stay and live into it. For the first time in ages, she felt warmth into her heart. But with it came sadness, as she had to kill Gael, the knight the little girl sent to retrieve the Dark Soul, to obtain it. She gave her name for the new Painted World to come, but declined to live in it. She did not deserve to.

With the new strength she gained, the Ashen One went to the First Flame a second time, determined to take it for good. But against its executioner, the world made a guardian rise. An avatar of the First Flame with the combined might and skill of all those who sacrificed themselves to fuel it. The Soul of Cinder. Outmatched in both strength and skill, the Ashen One only had one trump card at her disposal. Tenacity. And after what felt like an eternity of battle, she finally thrust her half melted sword into the skull of the Soul of Cinder.

The fading First Flame was then approached by the Firekeeper. Tiny embers, all that was left of the great fire from which life spawned at the beginning of time. For an instant the woman in robe hesitated… Before offering them to the Ashen One, fulfilling their agreement. Thus, the age of Fire ended. As Darkness was falling around the two women, pitch black abyss devouring everything it touched, the Firekeeper stayed to die at the end of the world, leaving the Ashen One to find her own way. And now, the Ashen One is here: in the last of the land uncovered by the Dark, trying to leave before everything is swallowed.

Crouching in front of the antic stones, she removed the ashes upon its inscriptions. She could feel it. The ancient power was still laying inside, lacking only a catalyst to awaken. It needed souls to function, just like the golems of the antic drangleic. And there was one she preciously conserved. Reaching down her satchel, the Ashen One took out a brilliant white flame. The soul of a great champion, a nameless hero who reached the First Flame during past ages, strong enough that his soul endured the passing millennia. An offering worthy of her salvation. The soul was sucked by the stones, the gate started to shake, and a vortex of pale light surged in the frame. Without looking back at the abyssal depth that replaced earth and sky, the Ashen One plunged into the portal.

The landing surprised the Ashen One. After a brief moment floating in nothingness, she suddenly appeared above solid ground. Not high enough to break anything, but enough already for the impact to pull a grunt out of her. Why had she not thought about wearing her cat ring before jumping in the portal? The enchanted item had protected her from worse, slowing done even the fastest fall.

But something else attracted the attention of the Ashen One. Not the absence of nearby enemies, a welcome change alien enough in itself. Rolling on her back, she starred into the sky. Hidden into heavy clouds was a sun. Not an illusion of the Flame. A true, warm, burning sun, spreading his light to the horizon. How long… How had it been since she last saw something like this? She tried not to answer. The Ashen One simply laid still on her back, gazing at the radiant star piercing the clouds.

Sunset came. Almost regretfully the Ashen One stood up, examining the surroundings. She was standing on what seemed to be an ancient road of disjointed stone. On East was the edge of a forest with bare trees, and North visibly led to a swamp. She decided to follow the road to the South, with the high probability that it would lead to an inhabited place, or at least the ruin of such place.

A day and night of travel, and she was still on the road with no trace of civilization. The Ashen One was not displeased with the lack of hostile encounter, but a problem she completely forgot about made its presence known. Thirst. It came as a shock: since her revival as undead, she never had to either feed or drink. To feel such sensation again… Did the Fire she took brought her back to life? It didn't take much more time before a moment of introspection confirmed it. The embers of the First Flame still burned within her soul. And all her body sensation as living returned. The Ashen One was again dependent of her human needs.

She briefly reached to the warmth within herself but withdrew quickly. The Flame inside her would not last forever. It would be better to preserve such power for life-threatening situations, like enemies too strong or numerous. Instinctively, the Ashen One pulled from within the Flame… And in her hand materialized a long wooden bow. Stunned, she remembered how she previously left her equipment into the Flame of bonfire, only to take them back later. Was it because she took the last Flame, everything inside it was now inside her soul?

Pleasantly surprised at the idea that she still had access to her whole equipment, comprised of many useful weapons, armors and trinkets she collected during her travels, the Ashen One reached once more in her inner Fire. The bow disappeared, replaced by a tiny wooden barrel. She opened it and drank a small sip of Siegbrau, almost puking at the awfully strong taste. Siegwart was right, even undead could appreciate his drink, if only because the taste was so strong that any living being would find it too intense!

Finishing the barrel and throwing it away, the Ashen One could clearly see that the road was more and more maintained as she went on. Probabilities of meeting people were high, and she could not help but wonder. What sort of people lived in those new lands, what sort of place will she discover in that unknown world?

Instinct warned the Ashen One of the arrows before even seeing them and she rolled away, drawing the Greatsword of Judgement from her left side in the same motion. From a concealed trench at the side of the road came four armed men, throwing themselves at her without a word or warning. Two of them wielded straight swords, the third a two-handed axe, and the last one a mace. Their armors were dirty but of quality, covering their torso and forearms. Only two wore helmet. But they were slow.

The Ashen One decapitated the first man in a lightning fast strike before cutting the arm of the second, piercing his heart through the wound in an instant. Side stepping she avoided the axe of the third before tearing him apart from one side to another, the strength of her strike combined with the magic of the sword cutting through iron and flesh easily. Another arrow came and this time broke harmlessly on the Ashen One's armor, making her spot the archer hidden in the trench as the fourth enemy was steeping back, a look of horror on his face.

Without hesitation she lunged on the man, deviating his mace easily before retaliating with a pommel strike that exploded his head. The archer tried to flee, panicking before the slaughter of his accomplices. She would not let her prey escape. Gathering the sword's magic, the Ashen One unleashed a crescent wave of purple energy that exploded on the target, scattering him to pieces.

Slow, fragile and weak, she thought as she wiped the blood out of her sword, waiting for the souls of her opponent to come… But nothing. Frowning, the Ashen One squatted to examine her victims closely. They looked definitely human. Usually, she would absorb the soul of any she killed, as any undead. But it didn't seem to work here… Was it because their souls were too different? Or maybe because she was living again? The Ashen One remembered that she did not have the services of the Firekeeper anymore. Even if she could still feed upon soul, she wouldn't be able to draw out their strength.

A faraway sound disturbed her thinking. A familiar sound moreover, echoing weirdly into the Ashen One's ears. She knew this sound. From before her travels as undead, from before the hunt of the Lords… From her time as knight. She focused, ascertaining the origin of the sound from beyond the small hill a little further. It was… Horses. Horses hoof on the ground.

The very moment she realized the nature of the sound a group of horsemen armed with spears crossed the hill, led by a man wielding a large greatsword with a purple blade. They slowly surrounded the Ashen One, spears pointed toward her chest.

''Who are you? And what relation do you have with those men?'' One man questioned the Ashen One in an authoritative voice, pointing the dead bodies with his sword.

The man's cloak and black armor were heavily gilded, as well as those of his horse. Everything, from his rich equipment to his imposing demeanor, pointed him as the leader of the group.

''I am Lora of Lothric.'' Answered the Ashen One confidently, her own name sounding weird after so much time without saying it. ''Those miscreants ambushed me just a moment before your coming, and I took them down. To who I am dealing with?''

''Watch your tongue, woman!'' One of the riders scolded before being cut off by their chief.

''Enough. This woman is obviously a stranger, she doesn't know whom she addresses. May I know why you are traveling alone in Nohr border?'' The chief asked, studying Lora from head to foot, especially the ornamented armor of the dancer of the Boreal Valley and silver-like greatsword with engraved handle.

''I have no need of someone else to protect me.'' Lora replied without a blink.

''Really? If this is the truth, proving your strength against one of my men should be child's play. Jacques, you will be her opponent.'' Said the leader, pointing the man who yelled at the Ashen One. ''Men, give them more space.''

The horsemen obeyed their lord and spread the circle of spear while the man named Jacques dismounted to face the Ashen One. Lora grunted inwardly at this development and drew her weapon, gauging her opponent. Wearing heavy armor, holding a broad shield and a spear, the man was undoubtedly experienced. His stance was firm, his guard solid, meant to exploit the reach of the spear behind the protection of the shield. Being armed with a two-handed sword, Lora was theoretically at disadvantage. But she faced a lot worse.

Lora dashed and her opponent replied with a quick spear strike. She easily deviated it with her sword and closed the distance. Immediately, Jacques' formidable shield approached in a bash. Predictable. Her training among the Lothric's knight made her reaction almost instinctive. The Ashen One grabbed Jacques' spear with her left hand and pulled it away when she struck his shield with a powerful kick in the same time. The impact brutally threw the protection away and completely destabilized the man, knocking him on the ground.

Lora stepped on Jacques, adding her own weight to that of the soon to be dead Jacque as his heavy armor prevented him to rise. She pointed the tip of her Greatsword of Judgment toward his throat... Before finding herself once again being surrounded by a swarm of spears, stopping her gesture.

''Wonderful demonstration.'' Approved the lord. ''You are a talented warrior, Lady Lora, to defeat one of my guards so easily. Know that those you killed were looters and deserters whom we were tracking. Surely you will accept hospitality of my roof as thanks.''

''… Willingly.'' Lora nodded after an instant of reflection, sheathing her blade.

The prospect of a bed and a meal seemed very agreeable. If the chief of the riders wanted her dead he could have simply made them attack, and the Ashen One decided to trust him. For the time being. She stepped off the vanquished Jacques, who rose with a scowl, as the lord slowly advanced his horse. Lora mounted with a single fluid gesture, sitting behind him at his invitation. The rest of the troops watched Lora intently as they took the road where they had trotted.

"You are an accomplished rider, Lady Lora." Appreciated the lord after a few minutes, seeing the Ashen One was using only her legs to stay poised on the saddle.

"I was educated in chivalry. May I know the name of the man offering me hospitality?''

"Of course, my Lady. I am Garon, king of Nohr.''

The long but peaceful horse travel finally led to a large city. And Lora had to admit one thing: Windmire, as the king called it, was impressive. Although it did not approach the elegance of Irythill or the grandeur of Anor Londo, it had its own qualities that the Ashen One could appreciate. Namely, a great focus on defense: three concentric circles of rampart, each more fortified than the last, circled the city. At its heart was a vast excavated pit with a rocky peak holding a great castle at its center, without a doubt the residence of the king.

Lora observed the street with interest as the king's horse progressed. The number of patrols and guards was high, but there were some peoples in the street too. Murmurs and some acclamations accompanied the sight of the king, but she could not hear anything precise over the sound of hoof. Only at the gates of the third wall the riders left their mount to cross the wide bridge connecting the gates to the castle at the center of the pit. The pit was so deep that no bottom could be seen, making Lora slightly afraid of any misstep that would send her into the void. Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened, and she entered a large decorated hall.

''I'll meet you at supper, my lady.'' Said the king affably. ''Servants will take care of your need in the meantime.''

Nodding, Lora left herself be guided into the dark corridors of the castle by a maid. The interior was just as immense as the exterior appearance suggested and without the maid guiding her, the Ashen One would have never found the way to the luxurious apartment she entered in. Looking around, she felt like she had been thrust into the past... A past long ago, before coming back from death... The maid's hand touched her arm. Lora strongly grabbed the wrist by reflex, making the maid cried out in pain.

''I am sorry, I am sorry milady! Please accept my apologies for touching you without permission...''

The Ashen One stayed silent an instant before letting go of the woman, frowning at her own reaction. She had to control herself. It would be inconvenient, rude even, to act so inappropriately while under the roof of her host.

''I do not blame you, girl. It has been a long times since I was touched this way.''

''Thank you kindly, milady.'' Said the handmaiden, bowing deeply while discreetly rubbing her sore arm. ''I prepared a perfumed bath.''

Lora followed the woman next to a large bathtub of silver full of steaming water. She herself removed her armor and light clothing under before sliding into the hot water and let the maid washes her body with experimented hands. The warmth, the experienced hands of her helper, everything started to become more enjoyable as she relaxed little by little. The pleasure of being handled she had not experienced for so long made everything else in the Ashen One's mind disappear. So much that she almost did not hear the servant's question.

''Would you like a dress to wear at the king's supper?''

''No, I shall wear my armor.'' Answered Lora, rising from the bath.

She... Had not even cleaned herself once since her quest of the Lords started. There was simply not time, nor need for it. Seeing, feeling her own skin so clean that it was almost unreal. Lora's fingers coursed down her body, stopping at her left side. It was still there. A reddish triangular mark on her pale skin, the result of parrying a demon's strike. The shield lower end went right into her side, and the late healing could only repair the broken ribs.

Same went for the one just under her right shoulder. The spear that dismounted her at her first tournament broke through the mail, leaving a brown circled on the healed flesh. In comparison the long and thin white gash of her left leg, result of a failed parry during her squire training, was almost invisible.

Sitting down the stool the maid indicated, Lora waited while her short black hairs were combed, her thought wandering. She never thought about it, but she was surprised not to have more traces of wound. How many times did she died in sometimes gruesome manners, be it the fangs of a beast or the mace of a giant warrior?

Maybe her undead condition kept her in the same condition as just before her first death. It would explain why no undead she met, hollows excepted, had a face looking like beaten meat. As the servant handed a little mirror, Lora scrutinized her own face. Nothing changed much. Except her eyes. They should have been brown. Not glowing faintly with the same orange and gold as... As embers. Was it because she took the First Flame?

''Milady, are you perhaps unsatisfied with my combing?'' Asked the maid with a worried voice.

The Ashen One noticed the frown she made while examining her strange new eyes, and quickly shook her head.

''No, you did well. Dress me now.''

''Yes madam.'' Said the handmaiden, relieved.

Lora restrained herself this time as the servant helped her putting her armor above the light undergarments she was given, her old ones too damaged by her travels. She could have done so herself, but it was easier with someone's help. Furthermore, refusing the help of the servant she was given would only appear as impolite...

And should she wear a weapon for the supper? No, it would be improper. But as a knight, it would only symbolize her position and not be a threat, especially since the king seemed to be knightly himself... It has been long since she had to think about those. She had practically forgotten them.

In the end, the Champion of Ash decided to leave her sword aside before following the servant outside of the luxurious apartments. The dark corridors were illuminated by torches, but a semi-penumbra nevertheless reigned. A darkness that Lora found herself familiar with. Twilight, which was replaced by a bright light. Finally, Lora arrived in the supper room, which is a large room with a high ceiling illuminated by torches.

"Ah, you've arrived." Garon welcomed, sat at the end of a long stone table. ''My queen, this is the stranger I told you about.''

The woman sitting beside the King was of a royal beauty, with long blond hair and pale skin enhanced by her ornate black dress, reminding Ashen One of the Firekeeper. The queen looked at Lora with her dark eyes, and smiled as Lora bowed before her.

"I am queen Katerina, wife of Garon and sovereign of Nohr. I'm curious to learn more about you, who caught my husband's attention." Said the queen,

"I am honored to make your acquaintance, your Highness, and would be pleased to answer your questions."

With the exception of some details, Lora thought. Contradictory feelings were waving her to this thought as she approached the table, settling down as servants brought smoldering dishes whose mere vision tortured her stomach. Decency compelled her to restrain herself before her hosts had begun themselves, and even then, Lora had to refrain from letting out a moan of pleasure by enjoying her first real meal for too long.

"I am glad to see you appreciate our hospitality." Said the queen, smiling at her evident difficulty in restraining herself. '' How long have you traveled?''

"Almost a year, your Highness." Lora answered between two bite, trying to calm down on the speed she devoured the dishes.

"You mentioned your land, Lothric, but I'm afraid I never heard of it. Where is it located?" Garon asked, waving at the servants.

"It is difficult for me for to admit it, but I do not know how distant I am from Lothric. During my journey I came across a large engraved stone arch in the midst of strange ruins. At my touch, it began to shine brightly, blinding me and pulling me forward. When I opened my eyes, I was near a swamp, the ark nowhere in sight.''

A servant poured wine into silver cups. Lora took a sip, savoring the taste. It was good. Very good even. Far from the absurdly strong flavor of the Siegbrau.

"An astral portal? That is unusual. My mages could probably tell you more about these structures, even though they are almost unheard of." Garon commented, caressing his beard while thinking.

"Are you versed in the magical arts yourself?" The Queen asked.

"Very little, I must admit. My education was all about the science of arms."

"A science in which you are an expert, Lady Lora. Why did such a talented knight leave her kingdom?" Garon wondered, finishing his cup.

"It is a long story, your Highness, which would probably bore you if I told it all." Said Lora, clumsily trying to avoid the subject.

"On the contrary." Insisted the queen, gracefully putting down her silverware. "I'd love to hear it."

"If you wish, madam.'' Conceded the Ashen One. ''The kingdom of Lothric rested on three pillars forming its elite: The knights of which I was a member, the scholars of the Great Archives and the clergy. The royal family was composed of the eldest, Lorian, a paragon of chivalry, followed by his younger brother, Lothric, a beloved child and magician prodigy, and the last born Ocelote."

The silence between her words were absolute. Even the servant's steps were lighter, all of them acting as silently as possible to not disturb her story.

"Tensions arose when the old king lost his reason and began experiments designed to give his family the power of dragons, granting more and more influences to the scholars assisting him in his madness. In reply, chivalry came closer to the clergy, creating discord."

Something like recognition seemed to appear in the king's eyes, but Lora did not pay attention to it. She was deep into the past, into a story she would have preferred to forget.

"The experiments ended by having atrocious results on the royal family. Prince Lorian became disabled, Ocelote disappeared, and the king changed into an abomination half-man half-dragon that had to be put down. Prince Lothric should have inherited the throne, but for reasons I do not know, he refused to take the succession, plunging the kingdom into chaos."

''Why? Was there not someone capable of taking power, even as regent?''

The king's question was problematic. Lora decided to twist the truth somewhat to provide a credible interpretation of events, one that could have been the truth in other circumstances, ignoring the gnawing inside her mind for being deceitful.

''A prophecy proclaimed that the royal line would survive the kingdom. For many, this meant that the kingdom would never survive without a sovereign from the lineage, and that the refusal of Prince Lothric, supported by his brother Lorian, would bring about the end. In a way, that was what happened.''

The words hung in the air as she took a deep breath, both to get some air and to control her own voice, keeping it firm as she continued.

"The clergy and chivalry united under the authority of the high priestess to compel the prince into assuming his role. In response, he appealed to the scholars of the great archives and his personal guard to confront them.''

''Civil wars are truly ugly things. Tell me, lady Lora, which side were you in?'' Asked the queen attentively.

"I was one of the squires of prince Lorian before being knighted, betraying my oath was unthinkable. However, as the siege continued, doubts arose among the royal knights, fearing that the prophecy might be realized, but no one dared utter these words aloud."

"In the end the question was settled for us when one night, assassins from the neighboring kingdom of Irithyll slipped into the fortress with the complicity of the scholars. We were overcome by their attack and could not prevent the crime from being accomplished: the princes were killed, putting an end to the royal line. What remained of the three pillars then collapsed into anarchy, and the kingdom of Lothric with them."

Another deep breath. Lora had not really lied: she had indeed been a squire of prince Lorian and had been present at the beginning of the rebellion. But contrary to what she was saying, she had never seen the end of it: she had already started, naive and desperate, on a pilgrimage to the Fire with several companions in arms. What an idiot she had been: if even prince Lorian had been judged unworthy to link the Flame, what chances a simple knight had?

And her oath had ended in blood and shame, by the murder of her lords for the vain safeguard of a dying world. She had tried to reason prince Lothric, to appeal to his sense of duty, to his family, to all that might have influenced his decision and fulfill his responsibilities as Lord of Cinder. She had met only Lothric's disdain and Lorian's burning blade, burying her qualms under rage as she slaughtered the last of the Lords of Cinders.

"I am sorry to hear you had to witness the fall of your homeland.'' Sympathized the queen. ''What destination where you trying to reach?"

Any location where the Darkness had no place, Lora wanted to answer, but once again the truth was not that far.

"I had no specific destination in mind, your Highness.''

''You may stay here for a time if you wish so.'' Offered the queen with a warm smile.

''Your Highness, I thank you kindly for your generous offer. But I can't abuse of your hospitality.''

''Nonsense. While you recover from your travels, you could talk a bit more about the place you come from. I am sure you have some unique tales to share.''

The offer was quite tempting to the Ashen One, but... Dessert came, tarts made of various fruit served with spiced wine. The sweet taste almost melted Lora's tongue, improving her mood a little.

''So you were wandering aimlessly.'' Concluded the king. ''Why were you not trying to find another lord to serve? A knight of your stature would be a prized acquisition.''

''I... Did not considered the possibility.'' Confessed Lora. ''It is hard for me to imagine taking another oath even though my princes are... gone.''

That was it. Now that she had no Lords to hunt, no Flame to link, no one to fight, she felt... Empty. Empty, with only her past. And it scared her.

''Is that so.'' Muttered the king. ''Then, Lora of Lothric, would you accept the honor of becoming my arm master?''

The Ashen One stared at the king, stunned. She had to have misheard.

''Dear, did she impress you so much?'' Asked the queen curiously.

''She did defeat a member of the royal guard without any trouble. Moreover, she seems to be a fine knight, having served royalty before. Such an exceptional woman should be employed to the best of her skills.''

The compliment passed over Lora's head as the implications flashed through her mind. She would no longer have to wander, searching for something, something that could fill her mind. She would have a home, a lord, a duty and honor again... She wanted, no, she had to accept. Her role as a Champion of Ash had been a long succession of suffering and disappointment, and the wandering almost made her mad. She needed stability, certainty, and the position offered to her brought her all this and more...

''And what would be my obligations, your Highness?''

"You will have the charge of training my personal guard and my elite soldiers, of protecting the royalty, and accompanying my travels. As a subordinate, I expect you to have unfailing loyalty and flawless conduct. In return, you will obey and report to me only.''

It was almost too good to be true. Mistrust built along her journey that had kept her alive many times resurfaced, and the Ashen One voiced it.

''With all due respect, king Garon, no one offer so much by kindness alone. Why would you give such position to a stranger you just met, rather than one of your own knight?''

The sovereign's gaze hardened as he heard her words. The queen on the other hand seemed to be pained, lightly shaking her head.

''Spoken like a nohrian.'' Declared the king, looking at her severely. ''I saw your strength, your swiftness in beating one of my best soldier. And I will never not allow such skill to be left at the disposition of some nobleman, or worse, lawless mercenary. I will ask again: Lora of Lothric, will you become my royal arm master?''

Strangely... This was more reassuring to hear for the Ashen One than the proposal just before. She was still in the dark about the kind of realm she was in, or what sort of people lived inside. But there was one thing she understood well: the king valuated her strength more than her past. Something she thought was better that way.

''I accept. My lord.'' Lora replied, flushing a smile on the lips of Garon.

''I was afraid my husband would have deterred you.'' Said the queen, seemingly pleased. ''Welcome to Nohr, lady Lora, royal arm master.''

Lora of Lohric, Champion of Ash, had completed her service to become Lora of Nohr.