The feast was over and Christian had already changed into his pajamas and brushed his teeth before going to sleep when he heard a knock at his bedroom door.
“Come in.” he said.
The young prince was surprised to see his old man at such a late hour.
“Dad? What’s up?” the prince asked innocently.
The king closed the door behind him, Christian could see that there was obviously something weighing on his father’s mind. The king walked over and sat on the side of the prince’s bed and patted for him to come sit next to him. The brown hair boy walked over and sat beside his father curious as to what he had to say.
“You okay?” Dorian asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Christian answered easily, “How come?”
“Well, your mother was talking with Alisha and she had said she was a little shook up about what happened earlier tonight in the dining hall.” the king started to explain.
“Hee, dad, I’m okay. I’m a big adventurer now.” Christian defended with a smile.
The king smiled back and ruffled the prince’s hair, “That’s my boy.”
Dorian stood up and walked towards the door.
“Dad?” the boy blurted out before his father left the room.
Dorian stopped to look back at Christian. A serious look came over the boy’s face, something had been troubling him since the feast.
“Why was he so upset with you? What happened?” Christian wondered.
Dorian stood quiet for a moment to think of how to answer the question, “Sometimes when people make bad choices I have to step in and sometimes that makes people look at me like the bad guy. One person’s hero is another person’s villain.” he stated and shrugged off the incident. “Now goodnight, we have a big day tomorrow.”
The king turned off the prince’s light and shut the door. Christian crawled into bed and laid under his covers in thought for a moment, the details of the situation still eluded the young prince. Christian closed his eyes and started to drift off to sleep.
Raziel had returned into the dining hall late that night, sitting by himself at the massive dinner table. He had a glass of milk and a piece of cake. His mind was restless, constantly thinking of Seth’s grim past and his torment. The grand duke thought while taking another bite, if someone had done to Carmon what was done to Seth’s daughter, he would have mercilessly destroyed the offender in every manner possible. The long-time friend of the king sat thinking of such an alternate reality, would Dorian have punished Raziel the same as he had Seth? He then started remembering Carmon’s words of doubt of the king and the contorted tales of adventure.
Why did Dorian always morph their adventures together to where Raziel was a pathetic friend who didn’t even seem to assist in the slightest. Raziel also recalled the royal mystic accompanying them on their quests years ago. He still couldn’t believe the royal mystic was just a cover up to Fire starter’s true identity. Also, why did Fire starter approve of the grand duke over the king? Raziel shook his head, freeing himself of such deep thoughts. It’s been an emotional day and a long week, perhaps he was just over analyzing too many details.
One of the late night janitors entered the dining hall and noticed the grand duke sitting down at the table. He stopped and turned to leave so he could eat in peace, but Raziel saw him turning to leave immediately.
“Wait! You there.” Raziel called out.
The janitor turned and looked at the grand duke, “I, I’m sorry, I’ll just come back when you’re done.” he replied.
Raziel was feeling alone and wanted company, “No, please, come have a seat.” he asked standing up out of his chair.
“Me?” the janitor wondered.
It was taboo for the staff of the castle to sit at the same table with the royalty. The janitor slowly walked over to where Raziel was seated. He was a very old man, frail bodied, and had very little hair. The janitor pulled his mop bucket with him over to the table.
“Is something wrong, sir?” he asked.
“No, no, just need some company tonight.” the grand duke confessed, “Would you like some cake?”
“No, I better not, I’m diabetic, too much sugar.” the old man informed.
“Oh.” the grand duke nodded, “So what’s your name?” he asked extending his arm to shake the old man’s hand.
The elderly gentleman jumped at the chance to shake the grand duke’s hand and did so quickly, “The name’s Martin, sir!”
“Well nice to meet you Martin.”
The old man sat smiling while Raziel took another bite, he seemed a bit antsy however.
Raziel looked at Martin, “Everything alright? You seem anxious.”
“I won’t get in trouble for sitting here with you, will I?” he asked bluntly.
The grand duke chuckled lightly and shook his head, “No, you’ll be fine.”
Martin sat watching the grand duke eat and smiled happily, “The family’s not gonna believe this one.”
“Hmm?” Raziel wondered.
“Well, they’ll never believe I got to sit down and talk with you of all people.” Martin stated.
“Make a habit of lying do you?” Raziel joked light heartedly.
Martin chuckled with the hero, “No, no. But they will be jealous of me. I’m sure the wife will tell all her friends at the church about this on Sunday too.” the old man paused for a moment before continuing, “Can I ask you something?”
“Certainly.” Raziel replied before drinking his cold milk.
“There’s been a lot of talk on the news lately about the forest of darkness, what happened out there? There are some videos on the T.V. that looked like a giant monster was out there.” he inquired.
“Yeah, that’s where we found the armor of Kamisama and then had to slay that mountainous thing.” Raziel informed.
“They say the forest is gone now, now it, it’s just a huge lake?”
Raziel nodded his head and swallowed the bite he had taken while Martin spoke, “True. It’s all water over there now.” The grand duke smiled at the absurdity, “The forest of darkness is a lake.” he laughed a bit with the janitor joining in as well.
“I’m surprised you’re not wearing your armor. You’ve always been a hero, but today when I saw you walking through the castle in that armor, you LOOKED like a superhero.” Martin admitted.
Raziel was about to speak before Martin interrupted, “You could just tell that there was something right with you in it. Like it belonged to you this whole time, as if you lost it and got it back somehow.”
Raziel was about to speak again after a long pause from Martin’s last sentence, but the janitor started speaking again once the grand duke opened his mouth and was cut off once more, “If the legends are true, then a lot of us out there are gonna feel a lot safer with you protected in that thing.”
“Actually, tomorrow we’ll be holding a ceremony and I’ll give the armor over to the king.” Raziel informed.
“Tha king? What’s he gonna need armor like that for? He hasn’t fought anything in years.” Martin blurted out in surprise, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.” he tried to recover, remembering his place and who he was talking to.
“It’s okay, I seem to be hearing that opinion a lot lately anyhow.” the grand duke replied.
“I just mean, you’d think he would give it to you since you’re the one always fighting for the kingdom. We’d be lost without you.” Martin confessed.
There was a moment of awkward silence then Raziel took a final bite of his delicious cheesecake and drank the rest of his cold milk, “Well, it’s been nice talking to you Martin.” he said as he stood up from the table.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. . .” Martin felt bad for speaking ill of the king and felt he ruined the conversation.
“There’s no need to apologize, it’s just getting late and I have a big day tomorrow. Again, it was nice talking with you.” he stated and shook the old man’s hand one last time.
The grand duke was going to take his dishes into the kitchen, but Martin offered to take care of them for him. He thanked Martin again and left the dining hall and walked through the quiet castle. Few guards were stationed throughout the castle since most were sleeping and others were posted on watch on the castle walls. Raziel walked by a few empty decorative armors standing on both sides of the hallway. He slowed down before stopping and looking at one in particular.
It had shiny gray metal and stood as tall as the grand duke. He noticed a small amount of rust on the rims of the armor. Like everything else, it too was getting older and would someday be replaced by another. Raziel wiped a smudge off the helmet and took note of his reflection in the metal and white patch of hair on his head. It was a clear sign of his own “rusting” and just like the old armor before him, one day he too will be outdated and replaced by another.
Raziel wanted to look at the armor of Kamisama one last time before handing it over to king Dorian tomorrow during the ceremony. The grand duke began his way to the vault the armor was sealed away inside. Wearing that armor was such an indescribable feeling of ecstasy. To be immune to all dangers the world could muster, fighting the monster from the forest of darkness, overpowering all without effort. Raziel enjoyed what time he had with it and only regret that his time with it would soon be over forever.
Four soldiers stood watch outside the room with the massive impenetrable vault and were surprised to see Raziel approaching.
“It’s the grand duke.” one of them warned.
The four of them had been guarding the vault in a more then relaxed manner, but quickly stood at full alert once their superior approached. They each stood at full attention to please the grand duke.
“At ease soldiers.” Raziel ordered.
The guards obeyed and stood comfortably, “Yes, sir.”
Raziel walked inside and closed the door behind him. After locking the door, he approached the vault and began using the codes and combinations to open the massive metal doors. While standing near he thought he heard movement from inside. He hurried and opened all the interlocking doors to the vault. As the final door opened, he saw that the armor was still standing as he had left it, but in the corner of his eye he noticed something swinging towards his head and so ducked and rolled out of the way.
A large spiked metal ball attached to a chain slammed against the side of the vault where Raziel had been standing. The grand duke hurried to his feet and noticed Grunt was inside the vault and had attacked him.
“You!” he said in surprise after nearly having his head crushed.
“Oh! It’s jus Raziel.” Fire starter said calmly.
“Fire starter!” Raziel was amazed to see Fire starter and Grunt inside the vault. They must have used Fire starter’s ability to disappear and reappear by the usage of flame to get inside. One clear indicator was the singed surface on the ground inside the vault close to the side. Raziel prepared himself for combat against the traitorous mystic and enchanted armor.
Meanwhile back in the quiet neighborhood where Seth was dropped off, all were oblivious to the tragedy that had occurred in the former detective’s home. The black haired man lay face down on the floor with the black blade pierced through his torso. He lay motionless, except for his breathing of course. Seth opened his eyes and sighed heavily wondering how long it would take him to bleed out. Seth laid down on his side since he was uncomfortable in his current position.
“This doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.” he said to himself.
He remained laying down and very bored. He had stabbed himself almost an hour ago and has yet to have died. Seth looked down at his chest and still failed to see any blood stains on the floor or any seeping from the stabbed area. He sat up inspecting his fatal wound.
“Well this is stupid.” he complained.
Seth suddenly felt the need to use the restroom, so he stood up and walked into the bathroom. Moments later the toilet was flushed and the black haired man walked out and sat on the side of his bed still in his towel.
“Well I obviously did something wrong here.” he claimed.
Seth then grabbed hold of the swords handle and pulled the sword out of his chest slowly. Once the blade was removed from the man’s chest, he noticed there wasn’t even an entry wound, no blood, not even a mark. He looked at the curious sword in wonderment. How could he not die from being stabbed with it?
The man sat and recalled when he used it against the preventhus in the forest of darkness and remembered that the sword failed to harm his opponents. Also, the forest monster hurled Rufus and slammed him into a tree yet the young man was unharmed, but his sword mimicked Seth’s sword ability since his sword had a black blade as well.
Was that truly his sword’s ability? Did it protect its user from harm? Even death?
Seth stood up from the bed with the blade laying on it, then walked over to the gun laying on the floor. He picked it up and pointed it at his face. Seth looked down the barrel of the gun to test his theory on his sword’s ability. He thought for a moment then decided that he didn’t want to risk blasting his face apart, so he set the gun down on his dresser and looked around the room where he stood.
He noticed the bathroom door and walked over to it. He looked at the sword before closing the door on his fingers which was highly painful. He pulled his hand away quickly and muttered a few curse words to assist relieve some of his pain. He held his hand regretting the stupid theory. He then remembered when the assassin struck him and the assassin received the wound rather than himself.
Maybe that was the swords purpose instead? To protect the user and reflect the pain back at its attacker? The perplexing sword and its unique ability were enough to help the detective forget about his sorrows for the time being. Seth put on a pair of sleeping pants and walked down stairs, shut his open front door, and walked into the kitchen to prepare another glass of hot chocolate. As his drink heated up in the microwave, he sat at his small dinner table and looked at the black sword curiously. He pondered about the sword until his growling stomach reminded him that he has yet to have eaten anything.
Seth made a sad face before admitting aloud and whining, “I’m hungry.”
Back in the Vailstone castle vault Raziel faced off against the traitorous Fire starter and Grunt.
“Come to steal the armor of Kamisama I see.” Raziel accused with fists readied.
Fire starter held his staff with both hands in case an attack was suddenly provoked. The fire elementalist walked slowly towards the armor while behind Grunt who was ready to protect.
“Of course, it’s all ova tha news. A big event tomorr’a, king of Vailstone n’ tha arma of Kamisama. Idiot! I’m surprised in ya. This arma was meant fur you.” the elementalist proclaimed.
“Stop where you are Fire starter.” the grand duke warned, making sure that he didn’t get close enough to nab the armor and disappear, “And why do you want me to have that armor so badly?”
“Cause its yurs!” Fire starter snapped.
“Explain!” the grand duke snapped back, stepping forward and causing Grunt to prepare for battle. Raziel then stepped back and tried to regain his composure.
“Tha demon you met in tha darkness forest, tha one with tha glow’n eye. He’s unlike any threat yu’ve eva faced before. He wants ta kill me.” Fire starter explained.
“Who is he?” Raziel wondered.
“Don’t worry bout it! All ya need ta know is he’s dangerous n’ tricky. And that holiest of arma’s is my ticket ta kill’n ’em.”
“And what does any of this have to do with me?” the grand duke inquired.
“Damn it Raziel! He’ll end up kill’n ya and Carmon eventually! Ya haven’t seen tha last of’em. I’m still try’n ta help ya, but my patience is wear’n thin.”
“So, what difference does it make if I’m in the armor or Dorian?” he asked plainly.
“Fur one thing he’s ain’t a strong nough soul to face my enemy, n’ second he don’t deserve it, he ain’t as loyal as ya think he is.” Fire starter explained while withholding information.
Raziel was confused more and growing agitated, “Why does everyone keep saying that? You, Carmon, even Martin! What is everyone not telling me?”
“Simply say’n what you won’t admit ta yourself, fool! Dorian takes n’ takes everything ya give ‘em from ya quests, n’ tha ones he traveld with ya on have all now changed. Now yur tha scared fool, not him. He does all that fight’n n’ kill’n, not you. History will show you, this great warri’a as a fool n’ him as a great hero. Tha world will nev’a know tha truth. He don’t respect ya, even though ya think he do, but he don’t. Dorain don’t even fight no more, what’s he need tha arm’a fur? Anoth’a trophy of yurs to show off? He would’nt even be king if it weren’t fur ya, we both know it n’ he treats ya like a slave. Both of us! He’s corrupt, he’s not even a warri’a. Hell, he’s not even a friend.” Fire starter informed.
Raziel stood facing the truths that Fire starter confronted him with, a look of anger was clear on the grand duke’s face.
“Ugh! That’s just your opinion.” he protested.
“That’s tha truth Raziel, n’ if yur any kind’a friend at all, yu’ll take that arm’a from’em.” he warned.
The grand duke looked up at Fire starter confused, “What?”
“I knew ya could wear tha arm’a, yur a warri’a. A hero, n’ only someone with tha heart of a true warri’a can wear this arm’a. No-one else, anybody else’ll be incinerated n’ turn ta ash. Tha queen widowed n’ his kids robbed of a fath’a, all cause ya to stubborn ta heed my warn’ns. Don’t let ya judgment get all clouded cause a recent stuff. Ya know it’s all true.” Fire starter explained from behind Grunt.
The frail fire elementalist began stepping away from the armor, “Come on Grunt, let’s go.”
Grunt turned its back on the grand duke and walked over to stand beside the fire user.
“Wha? I’m supposed to believe you’re just going to leave without trying to steal the armor?” Raziel said curiously.
“Yeah, cause I am. I came ta get tha arm’a cause I couldn’t let it go ta someone I can’t trust. But, I know ya n’ I know you’ll keep tha arm’a fur yourself.” he said with confidence.
“And what makes you so sure of that?” Raziel asked.
“Ya wanna keep yur daughter safe, don’t cha?” Fire starter asked.
“So that’s it, huh? Threaten my family if I don’t co-operate?” Raziel realized.
“No ya idiot, I’m not threaten’n ya, I’m warn’n ya! Those around ya will destroy ya if ya don’t start listen’n to me. Are ya too dumb ta see I’ve been try’n ta help ya this whole time? Like it or not Raziel, I’m tha only real friend ya got left. Think bout what I told ya tonight, before that party tomorr’a, before it’s too late. Cause once Dorian puts that arm’a on, everything aft’a that will be yur fault.”
After Fire starter’s final ominous warning he struck the surface of the ground with his staff and caused an intense flame to ignite from underneath and around himself and Grunt. The two beings disappeared instantly once engulfed in the large fire. Raziel was left all alone in what was supposed to be a seemingly secure vault. The grand duke looked around to verify he was alone, making sure no hidden traps or enemies were left lurking about. The radiant armor light up the entire room, it was a magnificent sight to behold.
Raziel slowly approached and touched the chest plate of the invincible armor. The haunting pleas and threats of the fire mystic would not leave the warrior’s mind. The grand duke tried to debunk Fire starter’s claims of his friend, but alas they were all true. More importantly, the very life of the king was held in the balance. If Raziel took the armor then he would be branded a traitor and their friendship forever ruined, but if the king wore the armor then it would destroy him and leave his family scarred. All the guilt would weigh of Raziel after that, for he would have known ahead of time and did nothing to prevent it.
Maybe the king would understand. Maybe their friendship would be strong enough to overcome this harsh reality. The loyal friend remained perplexed standing before the golden armor with his right hand still placed on the front. What was he to do?
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