Disclaimer: All standard disclaimers apply.
A/N: Yes, I'm back again, after leaving for so long… Now, I won't say anything, I have a lot of catching up to do and I owe a lot of writing to everyone! So, enjoy!
Last Waltz (Part I)
28th August 1657Tick… Tick… Tick…
Seconds go by. Wait… Was it seconds? What about minutes? Hours? Days? I hear people coming in and out. Hushed whispers in the hallway. The footsteps that constantly pace outside my door, the wind that blows through open windows in the morning. Sometimes, one of them would enter the room, asking me things. I don't answer them. I don't listen to them. I don't hear them. I don't respond. A silent plead to leave me alone. After many futile attempts, they leave me alone.
The tears come again.
7th July 1657
"Hurry, let's go! Emergency call from the guild! We've got a mission," the rogue called happily.
"Yes, yes, joy…" the blacksmith replied.
"Hannah! Come on!"
"Shut up, Keyla! I'm here!"
"Khaiyn's gonna be mad if we're late… Again!"
"Let's just go, already!"
"Glad you two could make it," a voice from one end of the room echoed.
"It's all her fault!" Keyla accused Hannah by pointing a finger at her.
"Is not! You didn't wake me up," the blacksmith fought back.
"Enough," the voice echoed again. "I don't need the both of you to add on to my already increasing headache. Sit."
"Yes, mistress," came two solemn replies.
"What's going on, Khaiyn?" an Assassin of the Cross spoke up, from Khaiyn's left.
"We have just received an urgent call from one of our allies in Geffen. Glast Heim has been… Strange. One of their scouts who regularly checks the place out disappeared, which was not long ago. Since then, one by one of their members had also been disappearing. Now, they're only down to 13 of their members. The remaining…" Khaiyn flinched. "They're still not found. However, just yesterday, they sent us a message, their scout, who had gone missing first, had been found, mutilated, practically chopped into pieces. The head wasn't found, but the emblem on his shirt, or what was left of it, had confirmed his identity as a member of the 'Blood Warriors'.
"Thus, it is our mission to investigate Glast Heim. We have been given permission to take as many soldiers as we need from the Royal Army. Any questions?"
One hand was raised.
"Will we be gone for very long?" a huntress asked.
"I understand that some of you have family. I am not forcing you to join me on this mission. If you think that it would put your lives on the line, then I do not wish for you to come. However, I am very apologetic, as this mission is extremely dangerous, and the price you have to pay for walking away from this mission is…" She couldn't say it.
"Is what?" a wizard asked.
"Is… Is your membership in this guild. If you walk away from this mission, you are no longer a part of 'Lhiantyn Rish'."
This caused uproar in the room. Khaiyn sat there in her chair, breathing deeply. It wasn't easy for her to say this in front of the entire guild, but it had to be said. All the members in the guild had formed a close bond within each other, and she hated to tear it apart. But what had to be done, had to be done. Murmurs and gasps filled the room. Some of them almost wanted to cry. In truth, she also had almost wanted to cry. The guild meant so much to her, and to kick them out was like ripping her heart out of her chest and have a stampede of Nightmares run over it ten times.
"Surely, you don't mean it," a quiet voice said to her right. Karl, the sage was one of her most loyal followers, and one of the most powerful. "To tear us apart? That would be terrible." Apparently, no other had heard him.
Sorrow filled her voice. It was cracking, as she tried so hard not to shed tears in front of her guild. "Karl, if you wish to leave, you may do so. I will not stop you. Even if I were to do this on my own, I would. I do not wish to endanger your lives. Please, if you really do not want to come with me on this mission, then do not force yourself to. You have family here, don't let them be sad."
"No, I don't have a family outside these walls. My family is right here, in front of me. And I, as a member of 'Lhiantyn Rish' and a faithful follower, will always and forever follow you, our guild mistress, to the ends of Rune-Midgard and back!" His last words were spoken loud enough for the whole room to hear. The murmuring stopped, before another guild member, Feyan, stood up.
"I will also follow you, mistress Khaiyn, wherever you take us," he declared proudly.
"And I, as well."
More and more responses filled the room. It took her a little bit of time before she composed herself once more.
"Very well. We shall be leaving in a week's time. You have until then to say goodbye to your families and friends. I am very sorry to have to make you do this. If I had a choice, I would not have asked for your assistance. Some of you are still in doubt. No matter. I shall await your replies within three days. If you do not reply, I am sorry. You know the consequences."
A few nods were seen.
"Very well. Dismissed."
Khaiyn slumped back in her chair, watching as member after member hurried through the door. Placing a hand to her forehead, she silently shed tears.
14th July 1657
Khaiyn stepped up to the podium. Behind her were her officers in the guild, all standing in their guild's salute, as well as leaders from other cities who were also called to help them. Below her were the rest of her guild members, also positioned in their guild's salute, but were down on one knee. The commander of the soldiers saluted her and the soldiers followed suit. She set her helmet down.
"Guild members of 'Lhiantyn Rish', soldiers of the Royal Army, and friends. This morning, I regret to say that we all are leaving behind what is most precious to us, may it be family, or friends. As for some of us, we have nothing left." Sadness flashed in her eyes, but was gone.
"If anyone does not wish to join us, please, do not push yourself to follow us on this mission. I will be merciful, and allow you to walk right out of this area, no turning back. I believe you would face your own consequences then. This place we call home is under threat, and as citizens of Prontera, we must not let anything happen to this city. I will not promise anything, and I will not promise your return. This mission is going to be a long one. We are not sure how long it will take.
"As for me, I have dedicated my whole life to serving the King, as the guild mistress of 'Lhiantyn Rish'. I thank all my followers, no, my friends who are with me today. If any of you were to walk away and turn your back on me, I would understand. It is going to be very difficult. We are not heading for an ordinary war. We are heading into a life and death situation, where the tip of the sword will justify everything.
"Let us not waste anymore time. For the honor of Prontera, I will lay down my life to protect this city, and all those who live in it!"
The soldiers roared in agreement and the sound of swords hitting the ground was heard. Khaiyn stepped down from the podium before leaving the scene. She didn't want to see their tearful faces as they said goodbye to their loved ones. The night before, they had held a magnificent feast, where there was dancing, drinking and much more. Too bad it couldn't last. For once in her life, she had dressed up for this occasion, and had been escorted by none other than Karl.
This was what she lived for. To live by the sword, was to die by the sword. She had been drilled with that phrase when she was younger. Ever since she picked up the sword, she had never let it go. To survive, you had to be strong. And if you were weak, you died. Her father was merciless in her training. She had hated him, but had now come to thank him for what she was now.
I will make you proud… Father…
28th July 1657
They reached the gates of Glast Heim. True, it was odd. The whole place was as silent as a grave (no pun intended). Not even a Gargoyle was in sight. The guild mistress of 'Lhiantyn Rish' was starting to get goose bumps all over her skin, even under all the armor. On her waist hung five polished swords, all weighing like nothing to her. Her armor reflected the least bit of light and her cape of dark red billowed behind her.
Her guild members were all behind her, followed by soldiers.
"Do you hear that?" she stopped and turned to Karl.
"Hear what?" he looked at her, worry flashing in his eyes.
Biting her lip, she shook her head and continued walking.
"There it is again. Did you hear it?" she asked Karl again.
"Are you alright? You look pale. Maybe we should stop here for the moment…"
"Nonsense… We should carry on…"
Khaiyn… Come to me…
"Tell me you hear it! Something's calling my name," her head whipped around in all directions.
"It's all in your head. Maybe we should stop. It's almost dark, and we need them to be at full strength in order to prepare themselves for what might happen tomorrow."
Reluctantly, she nodded her head, giving in. Sighing, she held up one hand and announced loudly, "We stop here tonight. Set up camp."
The group worked silently. The only noise heard were the rush of footsteps and soft murmurs. Even the trees were silent. There was no wind that night.
Midnight was upon them. A few soldiers were patrolling the area. Most of them were asleep. Only she was awake. Khaiyn sat on her makeshift bed, staring at nothing. What if their mission had failed? What if they were all killed? What if…
So many 'what if's" were running through her head, that she didn't notice the flap of her tent was opened and someone entered her tent. She was too deep in thought, until she was jolted out of it when her left side of the bed dipped down. She jumped out of her skin, drawing her sword that was nearby, for safety reasons, and pointed it straight at the intruder. She relaxed when she saw it was Karl.
She nodded her head; sheathing the sword she had pulled out on impulse. She resumed her place on the bed, sitting next to him. Sighing, she leant forward. In truth, the lord knight was absolutely terrified. She had hauled so many people to what she knew was going to be their death. She hated the fact that she had dragged so many people from their homes, and that she knew they were never going to see their family ever again.
Slowly, one by one, her tears started flowing. She didn't have a family. What did she live for? Not even she could answer that question. Then 'Lhiantyn Rish' came into her life. The previous guild leader had been a friend of her father's, who promised her a place in the guild. He had retired, handing the reigns to her. At eighteen years of age, she was the new guild mistress of 'Lhiantyn Rish'. And now, she wished she wasn't. Being alone in the world, she didn't have time for petty issues, like family and such. She was too busy building the guild up to what it was now. And she was proud if it.
As quickly as the tears had come, they disappeared. She wouldn't let anyone, not even her most faithful of friends, see her cry.
"Are you scared?" Karl broke the silence.
"Terrified," she sniffed. "But mostly guilty."
"Yes. I've torn all these men away from their homes, away from their lives. And now, I'm leading them to their deaths. It's just a burden too heavy to bear."
"Well, no turning back now. What's done is done. We've gone too far. The only way we can go now is forward. We'll get through this, and we'll go home, all of us. We won't let some maniac destroy our lives."
"I wish you were right, Karl. I sincerely wish you were right."
But sometimes, you can't always have what you wish for…
A/N: There, I'm done with this part! Don't worry; the next part will be a sequel to this one. It's just amazing I got this done in such a short time. The title was actually inspired by this song by Minami Kuribayashi, "Hoshizora No Waltz" which means "Waltz Under The Starry Sky". It's such a beautiful song! You should listen to it!
Anyway, I'm done for this part! Enjoy, and I hope you'll all be waiting for the sequel! XP… Cheers!
Rinikii (a.k.a Skye Mihalak)