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Children of the Dragon Wars

By Paul Benkendorfer

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 7

In a land far away from Konzern there resided a great king and his kingdom. He was a young king, just entering his twenties, and though he had just taken the throne he was already known for his strong leadership. His father had been an elderly man who had passed away due to disease, and he, being the only son, ascended to the position of king. He was a man with clean-cut raven hair, dark eyes like chestnuts, and a patch of fuzz on his chin. He was man of small stature, but he carried himself with dignity and poise. His name, Duke Sawarr of the Junelle.

It was a mid-summer's day and it had been a week since his surmounting to becoming king, and he decided to hold a tournament. The tournament was to be held by all those with armor and a sword willing to compete. It ranged from amateur squires, to some of the better known knights in the kingdom. Some were incredibly tall, bulky men, others were just some frail small boys still in their youth. It was mostly done just for the entertainment of the new king.

The tournament was held out in an open field with the king sitting on a velvet cushioned chair on a wooden stage overlooking the arena where the knights were due to battle. Noble men and women surrounded him with seven knights in gold plated armor and white capes stood in front with their sword outstretched in front of them standing in silence. A crowd of people surrounded the stage in a semi-circle.

Among the noblemen on the stage, standing next to the king was a particularly young noble in his early twenties. He had long shaggy blue hair, dark eyes and pale skin. A very distinct feature he had was a red spiral tattoo above and below his right eye. He wore a long white tunic with silver outlining and an indigo robe with gold buttons.

He was one of the youngest man there apart from the king. Most of the other nobles were old men with long gray hair and beards. They had leathery skin covered in liver spots. The younger women on the stage wore fine silk robes and dresses decorated with various flowers, while the elderly women wore more casual clothing. Some women held fans both as a fashion statement and to keep themselves cools. Other women had servants hold umbrellas to give them shade in the hot summer sun.

The tournament had already gone on to the point that it had reached the final round. All that remained were two competitors, one small statured knight with pretty thin plated armor and chainmail on the upper torso and a leather kilt around the legs. A large silver helmet concealed the knight's face with only a thin slit for eye sight. Despite the small stature the knight was able to make to the final round witch was a surprise to everyone there.

The other knight was rather large with copper armor and a blue tunic. This knight donned a large copper helmet with several eye slits for vision. This knight had to be at least a foot taller than the other knight. This knight's sword was larger and he was known for being one of the better knights in the kingdom. Everyone was expecting this particular knight to make it to the final round.

The king called out for the competition to begin as the crowd erupted into applause. Just then the competition began as the larger knight rushed at the smaller one who tucked and rolled out of the way as the larger knight swung his sword hitting nothing but air. The larger knight spun on step as he swung the sword down on top of his opponent who managed to knock it away.

The smaller knight took the opportunity to kick the larger knight. It only caused him to back up a few steps. He proceeded to swing his sword down on top of the smaller knight who in turn rolled out of the way causing the larger knight to strike the ground. The smaller knight took the opportunity to stand back up. The smaller knight than proceeded to swing his own sword at the larger knight. The larger knight just swatted the sword away with his own hand.

He rushed at the smaller knight and grabbed him by the throat and threw him to the ground. The smaller knight rolled on the ground as the larger knight swung his sword once more missing his smaller opponent. The larger knight began to grow and more frustrated as he ran over and tackled his opponent to the ground. As soon as he had the smaller knight on the ground the larger knight raise his sword into the air.

"Yield!" he yelled out but was tossed off by the smaller knight. The force of the throw caused the larger knight to lose his sword.

Once he was on his feet the smaller knight took the opportunity to strike him with their sword, but it ricocheted off the larger knight's armor. The larger knight picked up his sword once more and swung it at his opponent with one arm hitting his smaller counterpart in the mid section of the gut knocking him straight down onto his back.

Jellal and the others watched with eager eyes. He could see that the match was clearly in the hands of the larger knight. He knew the man as being one of the better knights and most people expected him to be one of the top knights in the competition. The smaller knight was fortunate enough to get as far as he did, but Jellal had to commend him for his valor. The match was clearly going to go against him, but Jellal watched with great interest nonetheless.

The smaller knight was on his back as the larger knight picked up his blade and rushed over to finish off his opponent. As soon as he was within feet the larger knight leapt up into the air and swung his sword down on him. The smaller knight once again maneuvered his body out of the way and managed to kick the larger knight's feet out from underneath him causing the man to fall straight down on his back. The smaller knight rushed to his feet and stepped on the hand that held the sword of his opponent while he placed his own sword at the throat of the larger knight.

The larger knight rolled over the grabbed the boot of the smaller knight and tried to wretch his hand free. The smaller knight pressed the sword closer to his opponent's throat breaking the skin as a small stream of blood began to roll down his neck. The smaller knight struggled to keep his footing but by then the sound of trumpets blew ending the match.

The larger knight stood up in frustration, ripping off his helmet and threw it at the ground before stamping off. He threw the bystanders aside and tore through the crowd. The crowd of people were still busy cheering even as the larger knght vanished. Jellal watched as the larger knight left leaving the smaller knight alone in the heart of the circle.

Jellal furrowed his lips, rather impressed by the display of the smaller knight's victory. He wasn't the only one, the crowd roared in cheers and claps and even the king was rather impressed by the display. Jellal had to hand it to him, he was an unknown knight, but he somehow managed to win. The match seemed to go completely against him but he just managed to win in the end.

"Congratulations!" King Duke yelled as he leapt forth from his chair. "What an amazing match. You both have proven yourselves to be great knights. And even though you both fought valiantly, only one of you could leave this tournament a champion. Now step forward brave knight, and anything you request will be granted. All you have to do is name it."

"My liege," the smaller knight said as he stepped forward. He then proceeded to take out his sword and kneel down bowing his head at the king. "My only request is that you allow me to join as a member of your personal guards and serve by your side."

"What a noble request," the king said grinning happily. "Of course. It would be an honor to have such a great knight by my side. Now please take off your helmet and introduce yourself to the crowd so we may look upon the champion."

The knight stood up and removed his helmet letting a long wave of scarlet red hair tumble down revealing that the knight was in fact, not a man, but a beautiful young woman. He eyes dark and fierce as she looked up at the King who was in turn shocked to see her. The King was not the only one, an equal wave of gasps erupted from the crowd as soon as they saw her face.

"Erza?" Jellal muttered in disbelief. Even as he said her name, the word came out lethargic and heavy. He couldn't believe that the champion of the tournament was a young girl, a girl that he himself was well acquainted with.

"What is this?" the king growled as he glared at her with disgusted eyes. "A woman? A woman posing as a knight? How dare you dishonor the sacred rank?"

"But my Lord—" Erza interjected but was cut off.

"Silence your tongue woman!" the king bellowed. "You come here with deception. Don't you dare speak to me in such a manner!"

"My Lord if I may," Erza interjected with desperation, "you promised me a position on your personal guard."

"And the promise has been revoked," the king snapped. "I did not know of your deception at the time of the promise. So you can forget about having any chance to join the ranks of honorable me. I should have your head on a pike, but since you have won, I will give you your life as payment instead. Consider yourself lucky that I am this merciful. Now begone from my sight as I address my council on how to deal with other matters.."

"But my Lord," Erza persisted.

"I said begone!" the king roared before storming off behind the company of nobles.

He pushed his way through the crowd of nobles as he disappeared behind them. He shoved Jellal as he passed nearly knocking over the young blue haired noble. Jellal just ignored the king and just shook his head as he watched the king disappeared behind the crowd. He turned his attention back to Erza who just stormed off herself, throwing her helmet to the ground in anger.

Jellal sighed as he leapt down from the stage and followed her. Erza pushed her way threw the crowd and over to a couple of tents. A couple of people jeered at her with scornful taunts. Erza ignored them as she made way over to a large white tent and vanished behind the flaps. Jellal continued to follow her, slowly pushing and weaving his way through the onlookers. When he arrived at the entrance he pushed the flaps aside to see Erza standing in the center.

He could see that the girl was busy taking off her gauntlets in a heated manner. She ripped the straps off and but started to struggle as she attempted to pry the metal armor from her arm. Jellal could see she was upset, her eyes on the verge of tears, but she fought to hold them back.

"Erza?" Jellal said as he entered the tent.

Erza peered up from her straps glaring at the young nobleman with a glower. Jellal was a little taken back by the harsh glare he received from the red haired girl. "What do you want Jellal?" Erza growled as she finally managed to wrench the armor off and hurtled it at the floor.

"I just wanted to congratulate you on your victory," he said offering a courteous smile. He began to take a couple of steps towards her, but she glared back at him causing the young nobleman to stop in his tracks and held up his hands for protection.

"What victory?" Erza snapped at him. She fumed as he turned away folding her arms across her chest. "In case you forgot the king ridiculed me and barely let me leave with my own life. You call that a victory? All I wanted was to become a knight of the guard, to prove that I belong up there. Now, I'll never get the chance."

She exhaled a deep breath and rubbed the back of her head. Jellal could see the anguish and disappointment in her eyes, and he hated seeing her so distraught. She was a friend of his, close friends in fact. He had known her for years, and he always known her for her strong conviction and will. But for him to see her in this state was so unbecoming of her.

"Erza, don't let what the king said upset you so much," Jellal said in a comforting voice. "You proved that you do belong with the best of them out there. The king is a fool if he can't see that in you."

"Oh, shut up Jellal," Erza barked. "It doesn't mean anything unless I actually gain the title."

"Do you really want to be a guard that badly?" Jellal asked raising an eyebrow.

"Of course I do," Erza yelled at him. She furrowed her eyebrows at him with eyes of disbelief that he could even ask her that. "Jellal, it's the one thing I've been preparing for my entire life. I finally had the opportunity at this tournament to prove that I could become one, but apparently not." She sighed as she looked away from him. "I've worked so hard to get here, but because I'm a woman I'm not allowed to join his guard. It's ridiculous isn't it?" She asked spinning around in frustration. She took a couple of agitated steps towards Jellal, who backed away to insure that there was some safe distance between him and the enraged woman.

Jellal took a deep breath thinking about what he could say to her. Anything to calm her down, but he didn't know what.

"Well then how about you become my personal guard?" Jellal offered.

As soon as the words left his lips his eyes went wide as he realized what he had just said. The red head turned around to leer at him, her eyes becoming that much more narrow. She took a couple of threatening steps towards him. Jellal backed up trying to insure that there was some distance between him and Erza. The one thing he did not want to do was anger her any futher.

"What?" Erza hissed as she took another step towards him. Jellal found himself pressed against the sheet of the tent now with no where else to go. "You think I want your charity out of some pity you feel for me? Is that it?"

"No," Jellal shook his head. "Erza I want you to be my guard. You were the best knight out there today. And besides at least I know that I have someone who is a close, personal friend by my side. Someone I can trust."

"Please," Erza scoffed as she walked away. Jellal breathed a comforting sigh of relief as there was finally space between the two of them. He wondered that if this was the way his personal guard was going to treat him, perhaps he would be safer without one.

"Stop pitying me Jellal. It only makes me feel worse. And why would you of all people need a guard anyways. Aren't you more than capable of taking care of yourself?" Erza asked scowling back at him.

"Every nobleman needs someone to watch over and protect him, regardless of his skill. There are moments where we cannot see every danger that presents itself to us. That is why we need capable and strong knights at our side," Jellal told her, but she didn't appear to believe him. "Erza please I'm not doing this because I pity you," Jellal said stepping forward. "I'm doing this because I really do want you to be my guard. Just look at it as an opportunity to further prove that you belong the rankings of a knight."

Erza paused for a couple of moments, pursing her lips as she contemplated it over some more. Jellal didn't feel too comfortable as a certain aurora filled the air. She rubbed her chin and peered over at Jellal, her eyes narrow. Her gaze was directed straight into his eyes, of which said that he was being honest with her. After a few tense moments she finally came to a decision.

"Fine," Erza sighed shrugging her shoulders. "I'll take you up on your offer. But don't think that means I'm going to start calling you sir, or my lord." She said menacingly with a finger directly at him.

"I wouldn't dream of it," Jellal said offering a coy smile.

Later that afternoon Jellal made his way back to the king's court for the council meeting he was supposed to have met at the end of the tournament. However, it seemed like his absence went unnoticed. The king didn't appear as outraged as he did earlier. That was good for Jellal, but he stepped up but he remained behind most of the other nobles.

"Gentlemen," King Duke yelled addressing his court. "King Jude of Konzern has made a decree that he is seeking a suitor for his daughter, Princess Lucy."

"What's going on?" Jellal asked one of the older nobles that was standing in front of him.

"The king has decided that he will ask King Jude for Princes Lucy's hand. He sees it as an ample opportunity to merge the two kingdoms together and forge an alliance," the old noble told him. "Since Princess Lucy is the only child of King Jude, whoever marries her will inherit the entire kingdom of Konzern."

"I see," Jellal said rubbing his chin. "And King Jude has come to terms with his Majesty?"

"Not as of yet," the old noble told him. "There are other suitors vying for the princess's hand. Though it seems that King Jude is more prevalent on our own young lord here."

"That is good," Jellal said nodding his head and offering a smile. Though truthfully he did not really care all too much.

"Which is why I would ask my friend, Jellal, to accompany me on this journey," King Duke shouted. "Come forth Sir Jellal."

Jellal blinked a little surprised to hear his name called out. The entire room turned around to face him. King Duke's eyes roamed around the room as he looked for Jellal. The old nobleman Jellal had been talking to pushed him forward but he was hesitant to move any further. He had no idea what was going on but he just smiled and waved at the crowd as he move forward. King Duke stood at the head of the table with a wide grin, his hand out front gesturing Jellal to come up and stand with him.

"Thank you, your Majesty," Jellal said bowing his head as soon as he stepped up to the front of the table. "It is a great honor to be escorting you to—" he tried to remember the name but he was drawing a blank.

"Konzern," King Duke finished for him. He patted the blue hair noble on the shoulder.

"Thank you my Lord, you honor me greatly," Jellal said with a courteous grin. "I look forward to accompanying you on this journey."

"Of course," King Duke told him with another pat. "You and I have been friends for a very long time. You are someone I trust more than anyone. If I were to have anyone by my side it would be you."

"Your words are too kind my Lord," Jellal said humbly bowing his head.

"Well then go and pack, for we make our journey to Konzern in the morning," King Duke said as he sat down. "But first we dine."

King Duke clapped his hands and almost immediately servants appeared with trays of food that they set on the table before the king's guests. King Duke gestured to the chair next to him offering it to Jellal to take a seat. The young noble once again bowed his head and took his place by the king's side. An eruption of clamor echoed through the halls as the other nobles took their seats and began to dine.

Meanwhile outside of Konzern near the forest rode three knights, all of whom wore silver plated armor. They made their way down a dirt path towards the castle of Konzern. The day was peaceful for the most part, there wasn't a stir in the trees or brush apart from the wind blowing on the branches. The three knights were coming upon a bride that was built over a narrow stream when they spotted a tree had fallen on the rode.

The tree was too large for their horses to step over, and had such length. An exchange of glances were traded between them, the knight leading the company simply motioned for them to go around the tree. But as soon as they took a step forward they heard the shrill of cries echo through the wilderness. The horses let out a loud whine as their panic caused them to become unsettled.

The lead knight nodded at them to go gallop around the tree, but before they had the opportunity to move an arrow zipped by striking one of the knights in the chest causing him to topple off of his horse. The horses spun around as they saw several men come out of the wood; bandits, with torn up rags and fur skins, and whose weapons were rusty and dull. The horses wailed some more as the remaining two knights took off at galloping speed. The lead knight ran towards too of the oncoming aggressors, but the men dove out of the way when they realized the knight was not coming to a halt.

The second knight followed behind the leader and was close behind. A few arrows continued to come whizzing by their heads. The branches of the trees knocked on their helmets and body frames. Though it didn't faze either knight since the branches simply bounced off of their armor. They turned around and noticed that some of the men were still trying to chase them on foot, a fruitless endeavor since the two knights were galloping at full speed through the wood.

The sounds of hooves was all that could be heard as the two knights thought that perhaps they had managed to escape. To their dismay four men on horseback were right on their tail. The men waved swords and axes in the air as they were fast approaching.

The two knights finally found a small spot in the stream that was shallow enough for their horses to pass over. The charged right on through, feeling the water weigh down their horses just a bit, but they pushed them to keep going further. The four other horsemen behind them were right on their heels, but fortunately for the other two knights, it was enough to give them some room from their pursuers.

Once they were on the other side of the stream they made a mad dash for the castle gates. They galloped though the open field as some of the bandits on had managed to cross over the bridge where they had laid their trap. A few of them shot arrows at the knights, but most of them wound up falling short, a couple went a little too far. Just then the lead knight's horse let out a loud wail as an arrow hit it on the back leg causing it to topple over.

The knight was flung from his horse and rolled on the ground. The armor provided enough protection to keep the knight safe. The knight who was following had bypassed the lead knight, but doubled back around to pick up his partner. The four pursuers were catching up now. The knight who had fallen reached out his hand to be picked up an arrow came whizzing by as the four men on horseback were barring on them now.

The knight on the horse unsheathed his sword and deflected an oncoming axe blow. The knight on the ground unsheathed his as well as he dove out of the way to avoid the swing of a sword. Another horse was right on top of him, but fortunately the horse just rode right over him, causing little harm. The knight who was still on his horse deflected an oncoming sword, but the bandit that had missed him with the axe came back and knocked him off of his horse from behind leaving the last knight to fend for himself. He wasted no time and jumped onto the horse that his comrade was struck from and began galloping towards the gate.

As he continued to ride an arrow went whizzing by his helmet and struck one of the pursuing horsemen through the throat causing his limp body to collapse onto the ground. No sooner had the first arrow been shot than a second arrow came whizzing by, brushing the knight's cheek and striking another pursuer mid center of the chest causing him to fall off his horse and land flat on the ground.

The lead knight was within twenty meters from the gate when he saw a teenaged boy with spikey pink hair come dashing towards them at a speed that could rival a horse. Not a moment had gone by when the pink haired boy was only a few steps away from the knight just on the verge of colliding with him, but in the blink of an eye the boy leapt high into the air over the knight.

Right when the knight was underneath him fire erupted from the boy's mouth as he aimed for a bandit on one side, enveloping his torso in flame. The bandit yelled out in shock and horror as he fell of the back of his crying horse. The other pursuer swung an axe at the boy trying to hit him mid-air. The boy sense it coming and grabbed the bandit's wrist, using the momentum of the swing to carry his body behind the axe wielder. In one fluid motion the teen brought his free hand in, his fingernails turning into talons, ripped the axe wielder's throat out and dragged the body with him to the ground.

The knight was free at that point and rode his horse safely through the main gates. A number of guards swarmed around him as he came to a halt after passing through the gate. Once inside the knight removed his helmet letting long blonde hair cascade down revealing that he was in fact Princess Lucy. She was about to let herself down off the horse when she heard her father call out to her.

"Lucy?" he cried as he rushed over to her with concerned eyes. Iwan was there running by the king's side, with just as much worry in his eyes as the king. "Are you all right? I saw everything from a top the tower."

"I'm fine father," Lucy said offering him a gentle smile. "It was just some bandits. Probably the same ones that attacked our supply lines awhile back. Do not worry, I am unscathed."

Natsu reentered the town now. He could see Lucy sitting upon her horse as she talked to her father. Natsu navigated himself through the crowd of people, bobbing and weaving until he finally reached Lucy's side. He wasn't the only one though. A small, fragile young teenaged girl also ran up to Lucy's side. A girl with long purple hair tied back with a red ribbon. She wore finer clothes, a lavender suede dress, that meant she was a handmaiden, a high servant to the princess.

"Are you okay my Lady?" Natsu asked as he extended a hand to help her down.

"Don't you dare touch me, slave," Lucy hissed as she kicked him in the chest causing the boy to fall over into some mud. "You think I want your dirty hands on me?"

"Come now Lucy," King Jude intervened as he approached her. "Is that any way to show gratitude to the man who had just saved your life? You should be thanking him."

"I am sorry father," Lucy said bowing her head before leaping off of her horse next to the maiden. "I did not mean to offend you."

"Me?" King Jude said perplexed. "You should be apologizing to the slave who still lies in the mud. Were it not for him, those bandits would have ridden you down before you made the gates."

Lucy turned to Natsu with a serious glare. Natsu sat there in the filth hunched over not saying a word to her. He looked up at her with sincere eyes but lowered his head when they were only met with enraged ones. He bit his lip not willing to say anything, but picked himself up out of the mud. Lucy continued to walk over and hugged her father as Iwan walked over and offered a hand to Natsu and helped pick him up.

"But I am so happy you're safe," King Jude said as he embraced his daughter in a hug.

"Thank you, father," Lucy said smiling at her dad.

"Now go get yourself cleaned up for dinner," he told her.

Lucy bowed her head and made her way back to the castle, her handmaiden following right behind her. The other girl seemed more concerned as she peered back at what looked like a brokenhearted Natsu before gazing back at the princess. Lucy seemed more serious now, a grimace expression about her.

"My Lady," the maiden called as she ran up next to the blonde, "don't you think you were a bit harsh on Natsu?"

"Don't tell me how to treat my slaves, Levy," Lucy grunted as continued forward without so much as a glance.

"I am sorry my Lady," Levy sighed. "I did not mean to offend."

"I apologize for my daughter's rudeness," King Jude said as he walked over to Natsu. He offered the boy a friendly smirk, one that showed that he was grateful for the boy's actions. "I guess I owe you a debt of gratitude for saving her life?"

"Think nothing of it my Lord," Natsu said bowing his head. "I swore an oath to always serve and protect the House of Heartfilia."

"Good boy," King Jude said smiling at him. After that he turned around to take his leave. He would say nothing more.

"Well done my boy," Iwan said nodding at the boy and winking, "well done."

"Thank you my Lord," Natsu said as he watched the two men make their way back up to the castle.

"Just like a good little bitch," Natsu heard someone murmur behind him. When he turned around he could see a group of slaves glaring and scowling at him. Natsu glared back and exhaled a small flame from his nostrils that frightened the other slaves to run away.

After that he made his way to a cramped shop near the gate. He walked over to the side of the wall where he picked up an apron. Once he had tied it on he made his way over to an anvil and picked up a sword that had was just starting to be worked on. He breathed fire onto it heating the metal up allowing him to hammer it out. After a couple of blows he sighed, dipped the sword into a bucket of water as steam spewed forth.



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