Today was meant to be simple, with just the group of knights headed out for combat practice. We marched out onto the Grass Fields Castle courtyard, where the equipment was set up and ready for us. My bulky green and white arm reached for a lance, but bumped into a furry beige arm. I glanced over at Typhlosion, who already had his paw clasped around the weapon.
"Whoops, sorry about that, Chesnaught," he apologized as he grasped the lance. "Unless you'd like to challenge me for this?" As he asked the last part, fire burst out from behind his neck.
"Ah, no thanks," I laughed. "I think you scorching me yesterday was painful enough."
He grinned. "Forgot about that. Sorry again!"
"No worries; that's what practice is for." Besides, I want to be able to handle myself against the types I'm weak to.
Instead of the lance, I picked up a sword and took some grass to make a Spiky Shield for myself. As I picked some out, I noticed a lovely looking blue flower that was just beginning to grow. Next to it was a full-grown aster, which I plucked out and tucked away for later.
Quietly, I watched Typhlosion practice with the lance. His footwork left a lot to be desired, but he made swift strikes with the pole weapon. Still, with only his bronze chest armor on, I'd imagine that he should take more care to mind his footing a bit. Then again, he's much faster than a number of us, so I suppose it's not a concern.
"Bah, he's a bully for grabbing that," snapped a voice. I looked over to see Escavalier as he readied his own red and white lance-like arms. "You wanted it, right?"
"It's fine," I murmured. "Besides, I'm great with a sword and shield. It's my specialty after all."
"Practice is to get better at weapons and fighting stances that you still need to practice," argued Escavalier. "You're lucky to have more options than someone like me. Anyway, I'm working against Scizor, but I think you should give that rat a good beating later." Before I could say another word, he flew off.
With a sigh, I knotted up my shield and held it up. The blades of grass on the ends of it could be sharper, but I wasn't looking to maim the others, at least not too much. As I stood up, I watched the other knights as they practiced, with Escavalier struggling to pull a lance from Scizor's claw and Typholosion running around the sluggish Armaldo. No wonder he's wearing so little armor.
Bisharp walked over in light silver armor and picked up a long-sword. "You looking for a sparring partner, Chesnaught? I hear Heracross is going up against Golurk today, so I'm guessing that you and I are the last ones around."
With a smirk, I nodded. "Sure, unless you want to hunt down a mage and challenge one of them."
"Right," he deadpanned, "because the two of us challenging the fire fox magician or the fairy sage herself sounds like a great idea."
"Hey, not every enemy will be to your type advantage," I reminded him.
"True," he admitted, "which is why I'm challenging you."
"If you insist."
We walked over to the far side of the courtyard and separated ourselves with a little distance. Bisharp was faster and hit harder than me, but couldn't take as many hits. He may have been suited up for those advantages, but I had a heavy suit of bronze armor on and wasn't looking for a quick match.
"Shall we begin?" he asked and lifted his long-sword.
"Ready when you are," I called as I readied the shield and sword.
He leapt forward and played right into his speed and power, as he quickly closed the distance and made a heavy overhead strike. My shield went up, took the blow, and stabbed Bisharp once he fell into it.
As a follow-up, I took a swing with my sword and hit him on the side, only hard enough to give him a bruise. He flinched and jumped back, but I pursued.
"You'll need to be more clever than that," I teased.
In retaliation, he kicked back off the ground and flipped his body about. He moved the sword though the motion and brought it down hard against my shield. I fumbled back, and shook my arm from the recoil.
"Shield only works if I get too close," he taunted as he got back up from the ground.
Keeping the distance, he swung again, and I took a hard blow to the side. The long-sword was too heavy for him to make another fast strike, but he put enough power into it to slow me down.
"Oh, that looked like it hurt a bit," mocked Bisharp.
"I'm still standing," I pointed out. "You can see that, right?"
"Not for much longer," Bisharp shouted and took another heavy swipe.
Again, I shielded his strike and shook from the recoil. However, I kept my balance and took some steps to close the space. While he pulled the blade back, I took a swing with my sword.
Quickly, Bisharp dodged my swipe. Still, I took another strike at him, to which he blocked with the long-sword.
"All right, take a breather, folks," called out a heavy voice. Bisharp and I broke apart and gazed back to the castle to see General Rhydon stroll outside. The knights stopped their practice and went to meet him in the center.
"General," saluted Typhlosion.
"Or is it viceroy now?" inquired Armaldo.
Rhydon glared at Armaldo, who slipped behind Typhlosion.
"You have a death wish," hissed Typhlosion.
"S-Sorry, sir, I m-meant no disrespect," stammered Armaldo to Rhydon.
"What's the interruption for, sir," questioned Bisharp, "if you don't mind my asking?"
"Well, we've got a couple of new members to join our top army squad," explained Rhydon. "Two ninjas, from Lotus Lake."
"Ah, home," murmured Escavalier. "It's been a while. My wife is also a ninja back there too."
Rhydon scratched his head. "Not sure if this is her, since the report states it's a short fellow traveling with a taller and thin lady," he clarified.
"Right, they wouldn't have sent her, knowing I'm here," Escavalier sadly muttered.
"Did they tell the king who they've sent?" asked Scizor.
"No, but he didn't ask," sighed Rhydon. "I'll remind him to, in the future. You know how he's been, ever since…" he trailed off and paused for a moment. "Well, you lot should know." We nodded.
"Will the ninjas be here soon?" I piped up to change the subject.
"They should be in a little while," began Rhydon as he tilted his head up toward the front gate. "Ah…unless my report was late and that's them now."
Everyone else pivoted around to watch as two figures approached from the gate. The pair wore dark blue robes, with hoods pulled over their heads. The shorter ninja's legs seemed to blend together as he slinked forward. Meanwhile, his taller counterpart wasn't much so compared to the rest of us, excluding Escavalier, who was a bit above the shorter one's height, and maybe Armaldo, who looked on par with her height. Her hips swayed a bit as she walked, alongside her long pink scarf, though she took a moment to pull down tightly on her oddly shaped hood.
"She's bit broad shouldered," observed Scizor. "Nothing wrong, just unexpected."
"Careful Chesnaught, you're staring," quietly teased Typhlosion and he elbowed my shoulder.
"Ah, she's not my type, I'm sure," I muttered back to him.
"Hey, what if she is? I'd ask her out," offered Armaldo, a bit louder than he realized.
"This isn't a contest to snatch her affections," hissed Rhydon. "We're knights, act as such. She's here to help us with—"
"With your war that's brewing," snapped a feminine voice. The two ninjas had finally made it over to us, quicker than we were expecting. However, her voice seemed to come from the shorter one of the two. "Besides that, I'm already taken."
Just to make sure I wasn't alone, I checked to see that the group shared confused expressions. Escavalier moved up a bit and squinted at the two.
"Wait a tick…that is my wife!" he exclaimed.
The shorter ninja tossed off her hood to reveal a pink helmet-like face. Though her eyes were barely visible, and the rest of us could hardly tell the difference, Escavalier flew right over to her.
"Accelgor, what are you doing here?" he asked.
"You tell me," she laughed. "The King sent for us."
"Huh. Apologies, miss," Rhydon started as he moved up. "We were expecting one female ninja, not two."
Accelgor tilted her head. "Two? I am the only one."
"Uh, I'm not," came a slightly deeper, but definitely more masculine voice from the taller ninja. He slowly pulled off the hood to reveal a brighter face of yellow and blue, along with two red, almost pink, eyes. As it turned out, his scarf was actually his tongue. "Um…hi. I'm Greninja of the Stream Shinobi."
Most of the other knights stood quietly, as they still processed the report's confusion on the duo. Escavalier was too absorbed in his wife's return to take notice.
Before I could move forward, Rhydon stepped up and shook Greninja's hand. "Name's Rhydon! I'm the General of this lot. Welcome to Grass Fields Kingdom, Greninja. You too, Accelgor."
I felt my mouth curve into a smile. They weren't anything too special, but I had a good feeling about the two. For some reason, I concentrated on Greninja. Something about him captivated my attention. We made eye contact, and I stared into his bright, oddly alluring eyes. He broke it after a minute and kept glancing around at the other knights.
Still, this was just the beginning. It got complicated not long after that.