Hours had pasted since the convoy had left on their venture at which point a mysterious being in tattered clothing had just arrived at the castle gate. He wore a ragged cloak that shadowed his entire face. All that was visible was his glowing left eye which bore no pupil or iris. His glowing eye only emit a yellowish green light and looked full of some sort of liquid and black smoke somehow. The clothing under his cloak was flesh and hide from other creatures and beasts of unknown origins, which evidently was stitched to his own skin.
The mysterious being looked down at the tracks in front of the castle and kneel down, extended his arm and felt of the dented surface of the ground. He could tell the royal convoy had not left to long ago and that it wouldn’t take him too long to catch up to them. A devious smirk appeared on his shadowy face. Someone standing within the darkness of the forest behind him watched and awaited orders.
In a low toned sophisticated voice, the cloaked figure simply stated, “He is near. Find him. See what he’s up to, and then kill him once and for all.”
The dark figure in the forest turned around and left quickly in the direction of the trail in a small whirlwind. The cloaked being flicked the soil from his fingers and calmly walked away into the woods, eventually disappearing in the darkness.
Meanwhile, in the terrain dosser the royal prince was growing anxious and ready for at least something to do. He looked at the royal mystic sitting next to him which appeared to be sleeping. Looking about, he had noticed the grand duke standing next to the general and the driver as they discussed the quickest and easiest routes to take. Carmon however, was sitting alone and listening to her music. Christian saw this as an opportunity to approach her and smooth talk her a bit. He stood and wiped his forehead. He had already begun sweating and hadn’t even said anything yet! The prince was doubting himself, but stood up from his seat and walked over to the seated brunette anyway.
She sat with her music playing loudly in her ears with her eyes closed. Christian sat next to her without her noticing and swallowed nervously wondering what exactly to say.
Without much delay the teenager asked in a low voice, “Hey, what’cha listening to?”
The young beauty barely swayed her head from left to right without a response back. Christian’s confidence was shattering, he reached over to her side and poked her shoulder causing her to open her eyes and look at him.
“What’cha listening to?” he asked in a near quivering voice.
Carmon’s face appeared a tad agitated from the disturbance, “The Rejects.”
“Oh yeah? Their pretty good, I especially like their new CD.” he bluffed.
Carmon’s face grew doubtful of his knowledge about the band, “CD?”
Christian began wondering, did he screw up? Do they not yet have a new CD? What did he say that was questionable?
“They haven’t gone public yet, this is from a friend I met online.”
“Oh! I guess I must have been thinking of something else.” he chuckled shaking his head and trying to brush off his obvious facade. “So, you psyched about this adventure?” he asked excitedly.
The younger girl shrugged off the question, “What adventure? We’re just driving around picking up some people and wasting everybody’s time.”
“Hey?! Come on now, you don’t believe in the Kamisama armor?”
“Hardly, mainly because I’m not a little kid though.” she looked into his eyes making him way more nervous than before. “You believe the legend is real, don’t you?” she asked almost in a mocking manner with a smirk on her face.
He adjusted his collar, “Maybe I do.” he nervously giggled a bit, “I can’t wait to see the look on your face when you see the armor is real.” he responded defensively.
“Yeah, okay.” she replied in a sarcastic manner.
“We WILL find it.” he proudly guaranteed.
“I wouldn’t bet on that if I were you.”
Christian found himself a bit annoyed with her disbelief, “Wanna bet on it?” he inquired.
The girl looked back at the prince with a cute smirk, “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah, why not?”
“Sure, how about you bet me a million dollars?” she asked quickly.
“A million bucks!? No way.” the prince immediately protested.
“Why not? If you’re so positive the armor is real then it won’t hurt anything right? Besides a million bucks is nothing compared to what you’ve got in the bank.” she said moving closer to the nervous boy with a devious grin.
“Yeah but, don’t cha think that’s a bit extreme?” he pleaded.
“Not really, if you’re so certain it’s real then you’re not losing anything. In fact, you’re tricking me out of something, right?” she asked trying to swindle the royal teenager.
He swallowed nervously doubting himself now, “Oh yeah? Well, what do I get if I’m right?”
Carmon shrugged her shoulders, “Whatever, you can have all my music if you want.”
Christian made a face expressing how stupid he felt that offer was as compared to a million dollars. He sat and thought about the conditions of the agreement so far and wondered if he could get her to at least agree to go on one date with him if he won the bet. If so, then maybe she could start to see him differently.
“Oh! I’ve got an idea!” he stated with a big grin.
“How about if you’re right, I’ll give you a million dollars, but if I’m right, then we have ta, ki….kinda…,” he nervously struggled to finish his sentence.
“Kiss?!” Carmon asked trying to finish his sentence for him.
The prince opened his eyes wider and was all around confused now, “Kiss?” he asked.
Carmon raised her eyebrow and sat back thinking about what she had thought was his suggestion. “You would risk a million dollars just for me ta kiss you?” she asked the prince.
This entire approach had taken a drastic turn from what he had expected, he sat sweating nervously with his mouth wide open and incapable of forcing his lips to function properly for speech. All the prince could do was look directly at Carmon and slowly nod his head for her.
Carmon actually considered the bet. She sat all the way back into her seat and closed her eyes while she placed her earphones back into her ears, “Okay then, you have a deal!”
The young prince was speechless and sat with his mouth open in disbelief. Christian then stood up with a half-smile as he walked away back toward his seat, replaying what just transpired between the two and praying to God that the armor was real! Carmon peeked out of the corner of her eye and smirked watching the prince walk away before continuing back to her music.
The terrain dosser slowed down and stopped on a road leading down a neighborhood, general Grechov turned around and faced the passengers while still standing behind the driver, “We’re here.”
The royal mystic leaned over the seats in front of him looking at the grand duke, “Ya gonna need my help?”
Raziel stood up and placed a book he was reading on the seat beside him, “No, that won’t be necessary. As I explained earlier, I know this one from a while back. The fewer the better, short, simple, quick.”
Christian stood up eager to venture from the vehicle, “Can I come to?”
Raziel smiled and nodded at the boy, “This one should be simple enough.”
The grand duke then motioned for two guards to join them, even though Raziel felt it was safe enough to go alone he still wanted body guards for the prince’s protection just in case.
The two of them had gotten up and walked over to the exit, the royal mystic noticed them leaving together with two soldiers.
He sat back in his seat with his palms facing upward, “What’s this? I JUS then asked if he needed help n now the’yas three extra people go’n?!” he stated looking about.
Nobody paid any attention to mystic’s complaint at all so the mystic sat sulking with his arms crossed in his seat and looking out his window.
The two of them climbed down the exiting ladder and stood on the sidewalk with both soldiers, one on each side. The grand duke pulled a sheet of paper from his pocket, after giving it a quick look they began walking down the neighborhood.
“What’s that?” Christian asked.
“Oh, this? After the royal mystic discovered the names of the seven chosen, we had their information pulled up so we could find them, this just has their addresses and backgrounds, those sort of things.” he explained stuffing the paper back in his pocket.
People around the neighborhood began opening their doors to see the prince being escorted through their street. A few citizens peeked through their windows while others started walking to the sidewalk and snapping pictures. Christian enjoyed the attention and smiled while giving his father’s people a wave.
“Here we are.” said Raziel.
Christian stopped beside him and looked at the house before them. It was in dire need for a bit of maintenance. The roof appeared damaged from where he stood and the paint job on the outside was peeling in places. He looked about noticing the lawn was way over due for a trimming, but something else managed to catch his eye.
“Hey, look at that thing.” he chuckled.
Raziel looked at what the prince spoke of and made a grimacing face. Christian chuckled at the sight of an over the top cutesy lawn gnome standing beside a bird feeder as the four of them walked up the sidewalk leading to the house. The grand duke knocked on the door and waited for the home owner to show up.
“Look, when we get in there let’s try and not bring up any old cases he might have had in the past alright? That could ruin our chances.”
“Cases?” the prince asked.
“Huh? Oh yeah, Seth used to be one of the kingdom’s top detectives. He was in line for a big promotion but,…” the grand duke stopped himself from completing the story, “…things just got complicated after that.”
Christian was a bit confused, “Oh.” he replied curiously. “Well shouldn’t he be glad to see you again though?”
“Well, I may have used the term ‘friends’ a bit loosely. After things got worse your father told me to let him go.” Raziel explained.
“You fired him!? Oh boy, this might not be as easy as I thought then.” the prince explained while rubbing the top of his head as he began to have doubts.
The grand duke knocked on the door once again. “Where is this guy?” he huffed.
The two soldiers who were escorting the prince were old friends who joined the Valestone army together, they felt this way they could watch each other’s backs. One soldier, named Chase, was a tall and very thin man with glasses and long brown hair. The other was named Lee, he was a heavier set man with short black hair and almost as tall. Lee began mumbling which caused Chase to shiver as if cold and draw the prince’s attention.
“Huh? What’s going on?” Christian asked.
Lee quietly replied, “Oh, I’m sorry sir! It’s just that lawn gnome, it reminds us of a scary movie we saw once.”
“Oh yeah?” asked the young teenager who was instantly intrigued by their story, “So, what happened?” he prodded.
The soldier leaned in a bit and quieted his voice, “Well, there was this lawn gnome that was actually a living monster that during the day it was a stone statue, but at night it came to life and would go around killing the other neighbor’s and break their lawn decorations.”
“Ooooooh, did they kill it?” questioned the prince.
“Yeah, they tricked it into walking onto somebody’s garden, but the garden was a holy garden and the gnome was instantly purified and died! It was a pretty awesome movie.” the soldiers boasted.
The two soldiers and prince looked back at the lawn gnome which they believed was facing a new angle.
“Whoa, wasn’t it facing the street?”
“Hm? Wait a second!?”
“If that thing’s alive I’m just gonna shot it in the face.” Lee warned.
Chase looked at Lee, “Why? That wouldn’t do anything.” he pointed out.
“Yeah it would. It’d get’em a bullet in his face.” Lee stated.
“Would that kill it though?” Christian asked.
“No!” Chase answered looking at Lee, “It would just get up and kill you for shooting it in the face.”
Lee glared at Chase, “Then what would you do if you’re not gonna shot it? Huh?” he asked quickly.
“I’d pick it up and throw it on holy ground.” Chase answered in a coy manner.
“So, you’d run all the way to tha west?” the prince asked.
“Well, there’s closer holy ground then all tha way in tha west.” Chase defended.
“Yeah, and it’d kill you before you found it.” Lee argued.
The two friends began bickering at the others illogical methods to killing of the detective’s lawn gnome decoration.
Raziel turned around frustrated, “Would you two shut up! There’s no need in filling the boy’s head with such stupid movie garbage. There’s no idiotic gnome monster and it’s certainly not just sit’n around in this guy’s yard.” The grand duke turned back around and knocked on the door a third time, “Where the HECK is this guy?!” he questioned in an aggravated tone of voice.
The four of them waited outside on the porch steps a while longer. The prince and two guards simultaneously, but slowly began turning their heads and staring at the lawn gnome through the corner of the eyes. Finally, someone on the other side of the door began unlocking it from the inside.
“Finally.” Raziel sighed.
The door cracked open revealing a tall slender black haired man, who appeared to have been napping. The man’s eyes widened as he realized royalty had been standing before him.
“Prince!” he blurted out before bowing in front of him.
“Seth, mind if we come in?” asked the grand duke with a half grin.
The man’s long black hair fell to his back as he stood up again, “Grand Duke?” he blurted out in surprise and quickly tried shutting the front door.
The grand duke placed his foot in the door and was slammed between the doorframe and door itself.
“Awk, damn!” he spouted off in pain then quickly looked at Christian who witnessed his cursing, “I mean, agh.” he said trying to correct his slip up.
Seth started repeatedly slamming the grand duke’s foot in the door to provoke him into removing his foot.
“Agh, agh, agh, damn it!” he blurted out again and placed his hand on the door to prevent the inhalation of his foot. “Hey, hey Seth I’m here on official business of the kingdom, we have to speak with you.”
Seth glared at the grand duke with great distain. He then turned away from the door and walked into his living room, leaving the door open for them.
“Thank you.” Raziel thanked. The prince and grand duke walked inside, “You two stay out here and keep watch.” Raziel told the two soldiers as he shut the door.
Chase and Lee nodded and turned their backs to the door to keep guard, but both slowly drew their attention to the lawn gnome that was now looking at them angrily. The two jumped and were stunned at the sudden change.
Christian walked forward noticing a living room to his left and right with a staircase directly in front of him. The prince turned to the left and entered the room the former detective was in which was incredibly warm. In the center of the room sat a coffee table with a recliner and couch. A fire place was built into the wall and contained burning logs, even though it wasn’t cold outside nor inside. On top of the fireplace rest many picture frames of Seth and a younger girl who appeared around Christian’s age.
Pip Gordan’s news broad cast was airing while they walked into the room. Seth leaned forward in his recliner and clicked his remote to turn off his television. He put the remote down on a dirty side table and avoided eye contact with his company.
“Have a seat.” Seth requested as he motioned for them to sit on his couch.
Raziel and Christian sat down as Seth remained seated across the coffee table in his recliner. He picked up a cup of steaming hot chocolate which contained three marshmallows and took a sip then rest the cup in his lap.
“So, what’s this all about?” he asked.
The grand duke cleared his throat before speaking, “Seth, I’m here on business on behalf of the royal family. We have reason to believe that your assistance is needed and request your services.”
Seth sipped his hot chocolate again, “The royal family? Would this be the same royal family that stripped me of my badge four years ago? Time heals all wounds. I remember you said that to me while you held my badge of twenty-one years. Sorry, Mr. Raziel but no.”
Raziel smelled the liquor in the detective’s hot chocolate and looked about the room and saw old newspapers and magazines laying messily on the floor and furniture. Dirty and clean clothes rest on the back of the couch and dirty coffee mugs covered the coffee table. The grand duke could see Seth was a mess and realized he had probably never moved on after losing his job.
“Seth, I’d like the chance to help make things right here.” Raziel pleaded.
“I think we both know that’s not gonna happen.” Seth calmly but bluntly rejected.
“Huh? I don’t understand, why wouldn’t you want to help us?” Christian wondered.
Seth looked at the prince and nodded his head in a slow and unusual manner, “You don’t know? Your father took a lot away from me kid and I’m not particularly inclined to help him.” he explained while sipping more of his hot chocolate.
Christian was confused, why would his dad punish this man? What could he have possibly done?
“But why? How could he do that to you?” the prince questioned.
“I ask myself that on a daily basis.” Seth quietly replied with his drink in hand.
“The king had his reasons.” Raziel informed quietly and slightly tilting his head at the prince and patted him on the thigh to try hushing him up.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” Seth asked, “He had his reasons? He had his reasons now did he? Interesting, I would love to hear what they were. In fact, I would love to have anyone go through the exact same thing I went through and still tell me that what I did was wrong.” Seth calmly but angrily stated. “Anybody who could do that…” his eyes wondered off and stared at nothing, “…would be a soulless bastard.”
Seth stood from his recliner and walked to a doorway behind him which led to his kitchen. Before the former detective entered the kitchen Raziel shot up from the couch and spoke.
“I can get you back on the force.” he promised.
Seth stopped walking and half turned, “What?” he asked softly.
“Once I discovered your involvement was needed, I called the king, he’s prepared to clear your record, compensate you for the time you’ve been off the force, and return your badge. It’s the best deal I can offer you, we’ll even have you promoted to lieutenant detective.”
“I was already due for that promotion.” Seth reminded.
Christian remained quiet but observant, he noticed Seth’s eyes appeared cold once he turned around.
The former detective was beside himself with confusion, “What is this, huh? Some kind of, kinda sick joke or somethin’?”
“No joke, Seth. This has all been cleared by the king himself and it CAN happen, all we need is for you to come with us for a few days.” Raziel replied extending his arm toward Seth offering him a handshake to seal the deal.
“There’s more to this then what you’re telling me.” Seth stated.
“Yes, but I’m telling you all that I can as of this point.” Raziel explained honestly.
Seth stood thinking about the grand duke’s proposal.
“I don’t like being kept in the dark.” he warned.
Raziel had seen that Seth still was unclear about aiding them and figured it would be acceptable to tell him the whole truth, without doing so it grew more and more likely that he would decline their offer and the quest was destined to fail.
“The royal family was attacked the night before and we just wanna know who and why, we have our theories, but no hard evidence yet. The only thing certain is our royal mystic said that we need you, what’da say?” he asked continuing to extend his arm.
“So, Pip Gordan’s report on the castle attack is true?” Seth questioned.
Raziel nod his head slightly.
Seth closed his eyes and touched his forehead while he contemplated the opportunity. It was obvious by the expression on the grudge barring man’s face that he did not care that the royal family had been under attack recently or that their lives may very well still be in danger. “I can’t honestly say I’m worried for the king’s safety, but I do want my position back.” Seth slowly walked over to the grand duke, firmly looked him in the eyes, and reluctantly shook his hand in agreement. “No tricks, right?” he asked suspiciously.
“No tricks.” Raziel confirmed, “Welcome back to the force Lieutenant Detective Seth Notch.”
The young prince jumped from the couch with excitement and hopped between the two men and began shaking the reinstated detective’s hand, “This is so awesome! Thank you so much MR. Seth! I REALLY appreciate it, I really do! Now we can continue our journey.”
Seth was surprised at how eager the prince was for this mission, “Whoa, I think I should at least pack a few things shouldn’t I?” he said.
The prince had calmed back down and thought a moment, “Oh yeah, I guess your right! Hee hee.”
“Four days-worth of clothing should be more than enough.” Raziel added.
“I’ll be right back then.” Seth replied as he left the room and started his way up the staircase in the entrance hallway.
“Oh, by the way, have you ever fought with a sword or anything before?” questioned the grand duke.
Seth stopped as he climbed a couple of steps and thought a moment, “No, not that I can recall.”
Raziel just nodded his head, Seth climbed a few more step and stopped as he was struck by a memory from long ago.
“Oh, wait a second. Yeah, I DID. I took a sword fighting course way back when I was in tha police academy. But, that’s pretty much it. Why do you ask?” he wondered behind the reasoning for such on off the wall question.
Christian’s face had lit up as Seth assured them that he had skills at wielding a blade.
“I just remembered stories about one of our detectives and I thought it was you.” Raziel responded and shrugged off the question.
“Hm.” Seth just raised an eyebrow and continued his way up the stairs to his room and began packing.
Christian looked at the grand duke as he returned to his spot on the couch, “You and the royal mystic were right! When ya’ll were in the terrain dosser, ‘seven chosen, one for each blade’, it was referring to swordsmen. That’s so cool! Mr. Seth has GOTTA be one of the chosen swordsmen.” he paused for a moment, “But, why didn’t you tell’em?”
Raziel sat up and made an annoyed face as he began to notice just how dirty the couch was and had seen a stain on his sleeve from the arm rest.
“If I tell these ‘seven chosen’ we’re looking for them because a headless monster brought us a map to an old legend and that we received their names through magical spells, they’re more likely than not to turn us down. Not everyone has a spirit for adventure like you and me.” he explained smiling.
“Oh.” Christian replied and looked about the room, taking note of how filthy the room was with its grime, dust ridden shelves, and food stains in multiple spots.
The prince and grand duke sat patiently for the reinstated detective’s return from upstairs for several minutes. Out of sheer boredom, Christian walked over to the pictures on the fireplace and picked up a photo of the young girl who appeared to be around his own age.
“She’s really pretty.” Christian stated modestly as he turned and showed the picture to Raziel.
“It’s Lilith.” Raziel said softly as he was handed the picture.
The prince was curious about this mysterious beauty, “Who’s Lilith?” he asked.
“That’s my daughter.” Seth replied in a calm voice from in the doorway entrance to the living room.
The prince was spooked since he hadn’t realized their newest ally had returned and had been listening. Seth set his packed overnight bag on the floor and walked over to the couch at which point the grand duke handed him the picture of his daughter.
“I’m sorry, I . .” Christian apologized.
Seth grinned, “No, no, it’s okay. She IS a beauty. It’s not a secret.” he joked.
The prince blushed since it was obvious he had an attraction to the lieutenant detective’s daughter, “Maybe she could come with us?”
“Um, no. I’m sorry, I would have loved for you to have met her, but she’s with her mother right now.” he responded in a depressing tone.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Christian apologized again.
He started to get the feeling he couldn’t say anything without putting his own foot in his mouth.
The moment grew silent so the grand duke stood from the couch and clapped his hands together, “WELL, wha’da ya say we head out. We still have a few more stops before the day is through.”
Raziel walked over to the door with the prince following behind him, Seth placed the picture of his daughter in his luggage bag and followed after. The three of them exited the house with both of the soldiers on each side of them once again. They waited for Seth to lock the door behind them and managed to reach the street until Seth stopped abruptly.
“What tha?” Seth questioned.
“What’s wrong Mr. Seth?” Christian asked.
“Somebody broke the head off of my lawn gnome.” he pointed out.
Christian looked in astonishment at the decapitated lawn ornament while both soldiers stiffened up nervously. The grand duke signed with disappointment and massaged the bridge of his nose.
The five of them boarded the terrain dosser soon after that and made their way toward their next destination.