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Monk and Paladin

By Mikari

Action / Romance

Chapter 1

On break from the Red Wings, Ceodore visits Fabul and Ursula is glad to welcome him. It was supposed to be a time to relax, until they make an alarming discovery and find that danger is closer than they imagined. Light CeodorexUrsula.

Monk and Paladin

As Ursula and Ceodore exited the Fabul Castle, they noticed Yang and a few monks talking with Palom. Curious about his unexpected visit, they hurried to catch up with them before the group left. "Palom!" Ceodore called out.

The Sage in training looked back with a smile at the son of Cecil and Rosa, noticing Yang's daughter was with him. "Hey Ceodore, Ursula."

"I wasn't expecting another visitor, but you know you're always welcomed in Fabul," Ursula greeted.

"Thanks, but I'm afraid I'm only here on official business, I'll have to report back to Mysidia soon after," Palom revealed.

The Mage's word's filled Ursula and Ceodore with curiosity, "What do you mean?" The Baron prince inquired.

"I'm here to catch a thief that ran off from Mysidia with a treasure that had been kept there for many years. We suspect that he's hiding in the mountains, I didn't see him when I went through, but I thought maybe the monks of Fabul could help make a wider search party." Palom explained.

"Let us help," Ursula offered.

Yang shook his head, "Ursula, you've been working hard and you've earned this break. Besides, Ceodore has come to visit, you should consider entertaining our guest. I'll take care of business on my own this time."

"But Master Yang, this matter concerns me too," Ursula insisted. "Besides, I'm sure Ceodore won't mind."

"Not at all," Ceodore agreed. "In fact, I want to go too. I may be on break, but I'm still a Red Wing and I can't ignore this."

Yang laughed with the sound of pride in his voice. "Such dutiful youths, but really, you don't need to worry. This isn't a big battle we're up against, just a search for a thief. I already have enough monks coming along, we'll be able to comb every inch of the mountains. However, what if something were to happen while we were away? It's best if you two stay close to the castle."

Ursula mused on it for a moment before finally accepting the logic behind her father's words. "That does make sense, if so many monks are going to participate in the search, I suppose we can't very well leave the castle unprotected." Not that she was expecting anything to happen anyway. She still wanted to go, but she couldn't deny the logic presented to her. "Very well, Master Yang, we'll take care of things here."

"I'll be counting on you," Yang nodded, "we'll hopefully track down this thief soon and be back in a short while. Alright everyone, let's go!" Yang, Palom and the Fabul monks marched off towards the mountains west of the castle.

After they were gone, Ursula resumed what she had been telling Ceodore before the encounter. "About the Sylph, she has made her home in a hallow tree east of the castle. She said she was curious about the human world and wanted to explore. We invited her to come to the castle but she's still a bit shy around most humans. I think she finally trusts me though, so I'll probably be able to coax her into coming out to say hi. It's pretty close by, so we're technically still close enough to the castle, not that I'm actually expecting anything to happen."

"Sounds interesting, I haven't seen Sylphs up close before, only from afar." Ceodore replied as the pair walked out of the castle towards the tree where they expected to find the Sylph.

xoxox xox xoxox

After some walking, Ursula and Ceodore made it to the hollow tree. "Sylph, it's Ursula!" The Fabul princess cheerfully called out. Time passed and there was no answer. "C'mon, Sylph, don't be shy, Ceodore is a very good friend of mine, you can trust him." Ursula waited a little longer before curiously approaching the three. "That's odd, I was sure I sense her presence here." She peeked into the hallow three from an opening on its side and gasped. "Ceodore!"

The Baron prince rushed to her side, wondering what her sudden alarm was about. "What is it?" His question needed no answer, as Ursula pulled out the injured Sylph from the tree, cradling the tiny creature in her hands. The Sylph's short breaths were ragged and labored, her small body shivering and growing cold. Ceodore didn't know who was to blame for this, but he thought it was very cruel. He immediately began to chant a white magic spell to heal the Sylph, his stream of words ending in "Curaga!" Power was projected out from the palms of his hands in a iridescent light that effulged the small Sylph in prism waves. Yet nothing happened, it was as if the magic only flowed along the surface of her body and was not absorbed. "She... She's so far gone she's not absorbing the magic," Ceodore gasped. Looking at the poor injured Sylph he couldn't bear the thought of her innocent life being lost. "But I'm not giving up!"

"Her energy... Her chi... Maybe I can help make it flow and absorb your healing magic," Ursula theorized.

Ceodore nodded, "it's worth a try." He began to chant the Curaga spell again, while Ursula concentrated in Chakra. He finally finished the chant, releasing the magic that this time was absorbed by the Sylph.

The Sylph opened her eyes and recognized Yang's daughter, "Ursula? You saved me, thank you..."

"Not by myself," Ursula gave the small creature a relieved smile as she sat up on the palm of her hand. "I couldn't have healed you without Ceodore's powerful white magic."

"Ceodore..." the Sylph looked at the young man, "thank you. You're a good person; I know I can trust you like I trust Yang and his family."

Ceodore smiled, "you sure can." His expression became more serious as he asked, "who did this?"

The Sylph frowned. "I don't know his name, but it was a man who had a very disturbing presence. He was saying something about releasing a seal using my life energy."

"A seal?" Ursula thought aloud. "That certainly sounds suspicious, but I have no clue about what it could mean."

"Same here," Ceodore added. "Maybe the culprit is still near by; it couldn't have been that long since he left."

"Right, we should investigate the woods on the south east. It's a little out of the way, but I can think of no other place where someone would hide in this area aside from there and the mountains to the west. If he's in the mountains, he'll be found, but if he's in the woods, well, we can't let him escape," Ursula decided.

"I'm with you; we'll find that criminal and apprehend him!" Ceodore declared.

Ursula looked at the small Sylph, who was, understandably, still shaken from the whole ordeal. "We'll take you to the castle, I know you're still shy around humans you're not familiar with, but you'll be safe there. Don't worry, my mother is there and I'm sure she'll be happy to keep you company." The Fabul princess gave the little Sylph a reassuring smile.

The Sylph nodded shyly. "Alright, if it's with your mother, I don't mind being at the castle."

xoxox xox xoxox

With a quick trip back to the castle, the Sylph was left in Sheila's care. The Fabul queen didn't offer many protests towards Ursula and Ceodore's eagerness to hurry off in a hunt for the culprit. It was important that he was caught and in their rush neither Ursula nor Ceodore had mentioned anything about the suspicious talk about a seal.

Seeing as Sylphs were so tiny and physically fragile, enough so that they very rarely ventured out of the Feymarch alone, Sheila thought that even an ordinary man of average skill could, if he managed to surprise and catch a Sylph, easily injure it. Sheila knew that Ursula and Ceodore were not of average strength, far from it, their talents in both battle and healing, combined with their speed and unbreakable determination, would surely be enough to apprehend the criminal. Even so, albeit it seemed to make no sense, Sheila couldn't help it but to worry.

xoxox xox xoxox

During that time, Yang, Palom and the monks had ventured into the mountains west of Fabul. They split up to search and found no trace of anything suspicious. They regrouped and discussed their findings, or lack there of. "He's a slippery one," Palom frowned.

"What exactly was it that he stole?" Yang inquired. He had agreed to help recover Mysidia's treasure, but did not know what it was. They had merely been searching for anything that stood out in the mountains, but had found not a single traveler there, let alone anyone who looked like a hiding thief. Save for themselves and the monsters native to the area, there was no one else there.

"It was an old magical suit of armor. It had four sword wielding arms, the extra pair being magically animated by the armor. It is also said to grant power in the casting of Firaga, Blizzaga and Thundaga, at the cost of the wearer becoming Berserk," Palom explained. "But that was a long time ago, before I was even born. The armor was considered too dangerous and its power was sealed away as it couldn't be destroyed at the time. It should have become weaker over the years, but still pretty hard to destroy. Either way, it would take an exceptionally skilled Sage to break the seal, a feat that is certainly beyond the abilities of the frustrated Black Mage that stole it. Mysidia's Elder could think of no one aside from Tellah or an Eidolon who would be able to break the seal, so the armor should be in no real danger of becoming active. Regardless, the Elder wants to recover the armor as soon as possible. Our opponent isn't strong and the armor is useless right now, I could easily knock him out by myself if I could just manage to find him. Even so, if he manages to get enough Mages together to help him, they might be able to eventually weaken the seal."

"I see, then it is best to settle this matter as soon as possible, so that the unlikely possibility of it becoming a big danger doesn't come true," Yang concluded.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, Ursula and Ceodore had made it to the woods south east of Fabul and were investigating. They heard some unnatural noises and the creatures of the forest dashed past them in fright. Something like that definitely screamed suspicious. They dashed in the opposite direction and came to the source of the problem. There was someone wearing an odd suit of black armor. It had four arms, holding a sword in each hand. The air around the being was chilly, yet sparks of electricity and fire swirled around him.

"Destroy!" The armored being screamed as if he had gone berserk. "Destroy!" Two orbs focused on the tip of the swords on his lower left and right arms, blue and red in color. The orbs burst with the massive attacks of Black Magic in the form of Firaga and Blizzaga. The opposing elements swirled around Ceodore and Ursula making the pain unbearable. Before they could recover, two additional orbs, both yellow in color, appeared on the end of the swords held in the upper arms of the armor. The orbs flew above the being's head as he let out an echoing cry of, "Destroy!" Having fallen completely under the accursed armor's control. The two yellow orbs collided in a massive blast of electricity that assaulted the already injured Ceodore and Ursula. The pair of young warriors fell on the grass, beaten and hardly able to breathe as their strong opponent's insane howls continued.

xoxox xox xoxox

Back at Fabul Castle, Yang, Palom and the monks arrived. They had searched the mountain inside-out and found nothing, finally concluding that the thief must have slipped out of the area where he was suspected to have been hiding. They entered the throne room to have a meeting and discuss their next possible action. Yang was surprised to find Sheila in the company of a Sylph. "Yang!" The Sylph greeted, obviously glad to see him.

"Hello there my friend," Yang smiled at the little Sylph. "I'm glad you decided to come into the castle."

"It's not as simple as that I'm afraid," Sheila informed with a serious face. "She was attacked and badly injured, but fortunately, Ursula and Ceodore found her just in time."

The Sylph nodded, "it's true, I thought I would die, but they saved me and brought me to the castle where it's safe. I've been here with Sheila since. Ursula and Ceodore went to find the man who attacked me."

"How terrible, who would attack a peaceful creature like a Sylph and what could be gained of such cruelty?" Yang exclaimed.

"I don't know," the Sylph frowned. "Maybe he just hates Eidolons or something. He did say something about my life force and a seal, but I don't really understand."

A deadly silence overtook the throne room as Palom's eyes went wide. "That man, did he have shaggy black hair and a dark expression on his face with a twisted scowl?"

"Yes, his face was very scary." The Sylph shuddered at the image in her painful memories.

"Oh, oh..." Palom grimaced.

"The seal... An Eidolon..." Yang put the pieces together according to Palom's explanations from earlier. "Could it be?"

"It could," Palom admitted, considering the circumstances further. "Maybe it wasn't just the armor, but also the seal that was weakened in time and the Eidolon's life might not have been needed to be a complete sacrifice for it to be broken. It's not a sure thing, but it's a possibility and if that's the case, this is more serious than I thought."

"You mean this isn't just an abusive bandit Ursula and Ceodore might be up against?" Sheila worried.

Yang didn't like this at all, "we better find them."

"Bring them back safely," Sheila ordered more so than asked. "And don't be late for dinner."

xoxox xox xoxox

In the small forest south east of Fabul, Ursula opened her eyes, tilting her head to the side to where Ceodore lay. Even that tiny motion hurt and she found herself unable to even try to get up. "Ceo... dore..."

Ceodore returned Ursula's gaze, seeing the concern in her eyes. He thought it was ironic that she was injured just as badly as him and yet she somehow managed to focus her concern on him. It was ironic indeed, yet somehow sweet. "Ur... sula..." It couldn't end like this, he couldn't let down his parents, his captain, his country, the world and he especially couldn't disappoint Ursula who had been his trusted childhood friend for as long as he could remember. No, he couldn't let her down, not Ursula whom he had always admired, not allowing the pressure of her noble roots and her father's role in the world keep her down. She wouldn't fall like this, not someone as brave, strong and caring as Ursula, he wouldn't allow it.

He felt the power of his Lunarian heritage course through him. Awakening to the power buried deep within, Ceodore somehow found the strength to stand up. The armor attacked again and three orbs, blue, red and yellow respectively, floated up and collided in a massive display of power that threatened to end their lives. The chant came naturally and speedily to Ceodore's lips, he spoke it without even thinking of it, like a reflex of survival. "Reflect!" Pushing his power beyond the limits, Ceodore somehow managed to coat both Ursula and himself in the curtain of light that protected them and saved them from an untimely death.

The combined force of the spells bounced off the magical shield and returned to the caster, hitting the suit of armor with heavy damage. He dropped his swords as he was thrown several feet back and took a moment to manage to stand up again.

Ceodore fell to his knees in exhaustion. He felt like his very life was sucked right out of him from the strain of the great effort he just underwent, but the battle wasn't over yet. Ursula managed to half crawl to him, focusing her energy on his with her Chakra. Ceodore close his eyes and allowed Ursula's chi to course through him and soothe his senses. He heard movement and opened his eyes to see the armored being getting up and going to pick up the swords, yet neither he nor Ursula were in any conditions to fight.

Ceodore began to chant another spell, one he was yet to master before, but it was the only spell that could work in their situation. He felt Ursula go limp, she had given him her energy and she needed to be healed. "Curaja!" The flow of white magic coated them in a bright prism light that shimmered with all the power Ceodore could muster. When the curtain of light gave way, the two young warriors stood side by side, ready to fight. Ceodore pointed his own sword at the armored foe, who had already picked up all four of his swords, while Ursula held her claws at the ready. They looked to each other and nodded then went on the attack simultaneously.

The clank of metal against metal was heard. The armored being was Berserk, but it wasn't entirely stupid. He could see the glow that clung to the two young warriors and knew that another magical attack would have the same adverse effect as before, so instead he focused on attacking with his swords. Ceodore and Ursula managed to dodge the swings or block with their own weapons, but when they did manage to get some hits in, they were not very effective. They both stepped back with defensive stances, staring down their opponent as if searching for an opening.

"We're not making much progress, but I'm sure that armor has a weak point. I could try to find it with Tenketsu, but..." The armored foe went on the attack again and once more the princess and prince were locked in a fierce combat that was not in their favor.

At the next break in the battle, Ceodore tried to formulate a strategy. He started out by casting another spell on Ursula, "Protect! That should give you some added defense just in case. Use your Tenketsu technique; I'll cover you so you can get close enough."

"Right!" They rushed forward again, with Ursula focusing more so on getting closer and finding a weak point, sensing the flow of energy in the armor, which was a source of power in itself. At the same time Ceodore deflected any attacks directed at Ursula or himself, until once again, they jumped back in unison, as if connected by a silent communication that only they understood. "Found it," Ursula announced. "This is a very strong opponent, it's not really a single weak point per se, but several points that are not as strong as the rest of the armor. If we strike each of them with sufficient force, the true weak point will be revealed."

The pair charged their enemy again, with Ursula striking several specific points in the armor with her claws and Ceodore following her motions with his sword. Finally, Ursula could sense it, the true weak point had been revealed. "It's there!" She struck the spot in the center of the armor's chest. "But he's strong, so it's going to take more than a few hits."

"Let's hit him at the same time!" Ceodore called out. In perfect synchronization, Ceodore and Ursula went on the attack, dodging and blocking the four swords that were swung madly at them and hit the hidden weak point with all their might, once, twice and three times. Finally, after some more consecutive hits, the armor cracked. One more simultaneous hit finished the job and the crack gave way, the armor breaking into pieces that, upon losing their power, dissolved into dust, which was reduced into nothingness.

The man who had so foolishly become obsessed with power and nearly killed the innocent Sylph to release it, collapsed unconscious, now that he was finally free from the terrifying power of the armor. Exhausted and sore, Ceodore and Ursula shared a victorious smile, before their senses picked up the presence of more than one person watching them. With their adrenaline still on high, they turned with stances of defense, ready to put up quite a fight should the need arise.

"Woah! Easy, it's just us!" Palom exclaimed.

Ceodore and Ursula relaxed, their breaths still fast, feeding air into their thirsty lungs. "When did you get here?" Ceodore curiously inquired.

"Just now," Palom revealed.

"We were too late for the battle, but we made it just in time to see that final blow," Yang elaborated. "Your team work was simply amazing."

"And it looks like the situation is solved. That armor was better off being destroyed and this guy won't be causing any more trouble for a long time. He has a lot to answer for to the Elder. Great work you two," Palom commended as well.

"It was our duty," Ursula began. "For the monks of Fabul..."

"And for the Red Wings," Ceodore finished.

"Well done," Yang commended in proud acknowledgement. "I'd say you both earned a good meal back at the castle. And though we didn't actually participate in the battle, all that running around has made me hungry too. Palom, you'll join us, right?"

"I never turn away good food," Palom grinned.

"Great, I'm sure Sheila has prepared a fine dinner by now and you know how she gets when we're late," Yang reminded.

"We better not keep her waiting then," Ursula agreed.

xoxox xox xoxox

Thus the group headed back to Fabul Castle, with the monks carrying their arrested prisoner to be safeguarded at the castle until he was transported to face his trial at Mysidia. Soon the monks went on ahead, followed by Ursula and Ceodore and a little way back were Yang and Palom. Yang smiled with nostalgia as he quietly observed Ursula and Ceodore talking as they walked to the castle, crediting each other for the victory that belong to both.

"We wouldn't have been able to win if you haven't found that armor's weak point," Ceodore stated.

"And I wouldn't have had the chance to find it, or even fight at all, if you haven't protected us from its magic and healed us," Ursula reminded.

"I was only able to heal us because you gave me strength." Ceodore admitted, realizing a moment too late that he sounded kind of cheesy. But this was Ursula, his trusted friend in which he had been confiding for as long as he could remember, so it was okay.

Ursula let out a small laugh, "we make a pretty good team, don't we?"

"We sure do," Ceodore happily agreed.

Yang let out an uncharacteristic wistful sigh, which did not go unnoticed by Palom. "What's on your mind?" The Mage inquired with curiosity.

"I was just remembering when I met Sheila, I'll never forget the feeling of her frying pan on my head for the first time," Yang let out a content breath.

The monk king's reply only reaffirmed Palom's belief that women were very scary creatures. "I see..." He muttered unsure.

"They make quite a team, those two," Yang continued, obviously referring to Ursula and Ceodore. "Ceodore is an honorable young man, determined, dedicated and thoughtful," he nodded to himself.

"Sounds like you approve of him," Palom observed. "But it doesn't look like they are even aware of how close they are."

Yang couldn't deny that fact. "Maybe it's because they've had that connection for such a long time that it's become very natural to them. But I'm sure they'll notice how singular it is eventually." Yang smiled as Fabul Castle became ever closer, they were almost there, walking at a somewhat leisure pace. "There's no need to rush, I'm sure that everything will fall into place in due time..."

Ursula and Ceodore stopped at the front gate of Fabul Castle and looked back at Yang and Palom. "Master Yang, Palom! We'd best hurry if we don't want to be late for dinner!" She reminded.

"We're coming!" Palom called back and started running towards them.

Ursula gave her father and martial arts master a curious look, wondering what he had been discussing with Palom back there. Ceodore stood next to her, waiting for the pair to catch up to the gates, the two of them forming a perfectly fitting picture just by standing next to each other. Yang smiled and finished the trek to the Fabul Castle gates walking at a normal pace. 'Truly, there is no need to rush through life...' Yang paused and took in the cheerful image of Ursula and Ceodore playfully teasing Palom for being out of breath after such a short run. "Moments like these," Yang voiced, seemingly out of the blue, "are definitely worth enjoying..." Then they strode into the castle where a delicious dinner awaited them in good company.

End

This idea started with the concept of Ceodore and Ursula teaming up to fight against something. So that's what I thought of first, the battle scene and the abilities they would use. It was also inspired by the scene in the last chapter of After Years where Ursula and Ceodore talk at one of the camps at the final dungeon. She seemed to have an understanding of how he felt and he was pretty open with her.

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