Amber & The Secrets Hidden In The Shadows

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Chapter Four

Past the two reunited partners to the east, was the kingdom of Sherania. In the middle of the kingdom was the Royal Capital Terrinel, and in the dead center of the realm, was the Palace where the royal family lived. In the heart of the palace was the throne room where an unusual event was about to transpire.

King Theodoric II was about to receive some interesting news. He was sitting on his throne listening to one of his beloved peasants, talk about a destroyed and burnt barn, where the chicken ran amuck. He then started to get into about some chicken fight or at least that’s what he guessed it to be about.

He was too distracted to care really. He wasn’t trying to be mercenary he was just occupied thinking about her disappearance, his daughter’s the last remaining heir. Just that thought made a metallic taste appear in the King’s mouth.

The Princess, or his heir, is how he referred to her. Saying her name, in the past had just been too painful, and so, over time it had become an unconscious habit of his. Her name had not passed his lips in years. And over time, her name was forgotten to him. She brought the only remembrance of pain to him, remembrance of them. Or him, and how he had to fail him. He was still dead, and still not avenged. Well not yet, King Theodoric thought spitefully.

King Theodoric was awoken from his thoughts, when the door burst open, revealing a knight standing in the doorway, out of breath. The poor peasant was in mid speak when the knight appeared, and was quickly interrupted, and ignored.

“What causes your intrusion?” The king asked, his stern gaze locked on the baffled knight.

“Your Majesty, there was an attack!” the knight yelled. At this King Theodoric sat straight up on his throne, pushing his worries to the back of his mind. With the intensity coming off of him, a blind man could walk in and feel the actual presence of the King of Sherania.

“Who are they? Did the Zeetho already start their second attack, so soon…” the king asked monotone.

“No- your Highness, they are… They are…” the knight said but couldn’t finish his sentence, now glancing at the peasant, holding an odd speckled chicken in his hands…

“Please escort this man back to town.” The king said, taking note of the knight’s concern, he motions to the knight that stood guard at the door, to escort the peasant out of the door. The king was waiting until the doors closed to a firm shut, before turning to face the knight once again. “Now talk.” The King commanded his tone harsh yet cold and polite.

“They, are… The D.E.V.I.L. children,” the knight said, causing the king to stand abruptly.

“You,” the king said spinning around to point at the guard behind him. “Call and gather the elders, we are in need of the council,” the king ordered before turning and heading for his chambers.

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To the far west of the kingdom of Sherania, was a humongous forest, filled with thick pines. In a clearing, where it looks like light meets night, was a settlement. This settlement was different than others, as were the people who gather and lived there. Instead of the typical houses, made of brick or wood, these were old caves turned into homes. First starting off as boulders that tumbled underground. Useful for helping them keep hidden. Located under a big fat pine tree roots, was a cave much larger than the rest. Their headquarters. This cave was connected to all the other smaller caves through a network of currents and passages engraved into the caves rock’s surface.

In that cave which occupied the most space underground showing it important to the residence, which was hidden by trees, in a dark room a fight was about to begin between two imperative people in what would be a critical argument. A girl walked into a dark tunnel, barely managing not to trip over her own feet.

“Why hello, there young Reena,” said a man, who wore a dark gray sleeveless shirt and green cargo pants.

“Hello,” the girl said shyly, even though she had spoken to this man a hundred times before “Where is the Second?” the girl not older than thirteen asked. “... Reena, he hasn’t come back yet.” That’s when the girl’s expression changed. It became emotionless almost like a statue made of stone.

“I wish to speak to the Commander,” The girl stated in a quiet, commanding whisper.

“I’m sorry, you can’t do that at this time” the man responded curtly.

“I said, I wish to talk to the commander!” the young girl yelled. Winds were rotating around her. On the other side of camp, a few miles away, a woman stood wearing all silver and black, screaming.

“Where is he? He should have been back by now; it’s been a month!” She yelled, her anger shouts aimed at the side of her.

“Kris, calm down, it’s a mission, there’s always the possibility of things going wrong. In fact, there’s a higher chance of it going wrong than right. What are we always saying before a mission…?”

“... Nos electus est aeternus; vigemusque pugnare debemus, ut nobis praeparet ad ignota deserat nostra.”

“We are The Forever Chosen; we fight to thrive, we prepare for the unknown, and never forsake our own” The man next to her finished wearing a tight smile. “That’s exactly what he is doing, he is retrieving one of us, and even if he hits something on the way, we trust him. He can handle himself. After all, who trained beside him?” he asked shooting her a knowing uneven grin.

“You’re right… thank you” she had finished talking when a soldier ran up to her.

“Commander, ” the newcomer said to the black and silver clashed women.

“Yes, what is it?”

“Commander, the Second was reported to have broken away from the target.” The women, the Commander, ceased to move.

“Something’s wrong,” she said her voice barely a whisper. At hearing this, the Commander started to jog, and soon that turned into a run. The two men had to sprint to catch up. When they did, all three of them stood in front of the open cave, staring. This was the meeting room or the place that was used to plan the attacks and strategies. But that wasn’t the reason for their broad gazes.

No, they were staring open mouth at what was in front of them, as it was quite a sight. Standing in front of them was a girl, Reena, her hand in the air, pointing to a guard who was squirming in mid-air, trying to break free of her spell. However, that wasn’t the real surprise, over time they had gotten used to Reena’s outburst and punishments. The real surprise had been seeing the sweet, kind Reena turn, a murderous glare, aimed at the hovering guard in the air. The Commander, after a moment, snapped out of her troubled state, starting to realize how attached the girl had become with the Second.

“What in the hell’s god bloody fire is going on here?” she howled. Both the guard and the young girl froze, slowly sentence turning to face the unexpected audience.

“Commander?” the girl asked, tilting her head in confusion on the disturbance; before realization struck her. “Commander!” she yelled running to hug her. While doing this, her hand had dropped, losing control of the guard, meaning he plucked a good few feet to the ground, getting knocked unconscious in the process. The girl, Reena, looked back at the still guard. “Oops,” Reena said childishly.

“Reena.” The girl looked up at the Commander in front of her. “Reena, I need you to tell me what happened.”

“Okay, Commander. I came here, after my shift hoping to see if there had been any news on the Second. And Mr. No-Sir-Re kept saying he wasn’t back, and that he didn’t know anything,” Reena explained.

“So why was ’Mr.No-Sir,’” The man standing next to the Commander, also known as the Third to everyone besides Renna, who likes to calling him by a different name; he said making quotation marks around the name, “spinning in the air?” he asks.

“Well, if you had let me finish Mr. Blacksmith, I would have told you that his answers were bothersome, and as for why he’s airblown… Well, he wouldn’t let me see the Commander.” Reena replied sarcastically, while ‘Mr.Blacksmith’ growled irritatedly.

“How many times do I have to say don’t call me that; it’s Cole,” he stated before continuing more than a little annoyed, “C-O-L-E. Cole.”

“Whatever you say Mr.Blacksmith,” Reena said with a smirk.

“I’m going to…” Cole said stepping forward while trailing off, making a violent strangle motion with his hands.

“Cole,” the Commander said warningly.

“Sorry,” Cole said lowering his hand, as well as his eyes.

“Commander,” Reena said tugging at the bottom of her black shirt.

“D-do you think he will be okay?” Reena asked shakily; her worry not fully visible.

“I’m sure he is; after all, he is my Second in Command,” the Commander said with a reassuring smile. I only hope that is the truth, the Commander thought. No matter where she went, she could never get rid of the fainting feeling since she got the news.

“He was reported to have broken away from the target.”

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To the east, in the forest, where only shadows remain were a pair of glowing blue eyes reflecting in hatred. Connor was beyond furious, and the mysterious knight was the cause of it. He had appeared out of nowhere and then left just as suddenly without a trace.

Somehow knowing where they were heading, ultimately beat him, and then left him wounded. Unable to die, let him live a life of solitude of thievery. No, the knight helped him, stopped the bleeding. This made him look like a fool when his teammates found him, branch dug deep into his shoulder, blood pooling out of the wound, and him unconscious.

No, He was made a fool, but he’ll get his revenge. Just you wait. He’ll find that knight and that girl, whoever she was, and get her back. At that moments, those glowing eyes, seemed to glow so bright that his twisted like smirk was revealed in the blackness.

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The hint of the previous battle was laid under their feet. A cloaked armored figure stood, gazing downward, glancing at all of the corroding corpses that littered the war zone. Her nose turned upwards just slightly, showing her displeasure with the appalling aroma, the smell of decay, and burnt flesh.

“How many casualties this time?” The cloaked figure asked turning to her comrade.

“General, Thirteen-thousand are reported dead, One-thousand two hundred-fifty are still reported MIA.” Damn you, Smoke, you made us lose a good deal of soldiers, and caused us to lose some of our best elite units. Once, I find you; I will end this… After making you pay for letting your rashness and greed get to y- “What’s our next move?” the officer called out, interrupting the general in her violent thoughts.

“We know where they are, from the scouts now. The only thing we have to do is attack and end this.”

“General, will you be able to end this? He is a general after all-” he said before he was cut off when a hand slapped his left cheek.

“Don’t, call him a general or even a formal comrade, he lost the privilege as soon as he made up his mind to fulfill his greed and backstab the kingdom.”

“I understand, General, but in power, can you win a fight against him? He gained his title as general, as much as you did.” He said uncertainty, a hint of doubt layered in his words.

“What is my name?” she hissed out, making him flinch.

“Val…”

“My approved name.”

“Val The Untamed… Crystal Flame General” he answered giving a small smile at the end, with the name.

“That’s right, and as long as I bare that title, little stabbing weasels that want to overthrow the king will be stopped. Now then, let’s find him, and end this.”

“Yes General.” The soldier said following the General quickly.

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A boot smashed into a puddle of mud, that was a murky red, the color of wine. Must be blood, he mused with a quick glance before continuing his way to the tent. Flipping the curtain open, he saw the generals ragged sapphire ice cloak, thrown on a chair, barely hanging on by its left shoulder. In normal circumstances, it was worn on his general’s shoulders. His general was a bit preoccupied at the moment though, by a woman, with dark smooth skin, and plump lips, her hair flowed like untamed winds and was the color of the muddy waters. Her distinct features were making it clear that she was from the Banjo tribe.

She was beautiful. Several things ruined the image of her and made it apparent that she was here against her will. There were the tear streaks that ran down her cheeks making her eyes red; her arms were tied above her head and legs were tied in opposite directions, forcefully making her spread her legs. The strangely dressed soldier cleared his throat, gaining both personal attention, he spared a quick glance at the unfortunate girl, before returning his gaze to his General.

“Reporting sir, Crystal Flame has been spotted approaching this way fast, approximately sixty thousand meters away, coming from the north, with at least twenty thousand. What are your orders, sir?”

“Grab one thousand to guard the north, about the same for the south, be on guard. Now leaving me, I have things to finish” Smoke said as he eyed the girl with an animal sense of lust.

“Is it the best strategy to underestimate the opponent, another General, because of your clouded lust?” The soldier asked his general in disapproval.

“Go!” The general commanded, outraged. The soldier gave one mocking bow, before turning, taking two slow steps only to stop.

“S-sir.”

“I said g-” the general said turning to face his meekly soldier, only to stop when he saw the Naginata poking through his second in commands stomach. He stared at his stomach in shock, before coughing blood pouring from his mouth with every forced breath, until his lungs filled and he fell. Standing behind the dead soldier, was the Crystal Flame General, Val the Untamed. Smoke started at her in shock, before giving a very grotesque smile showing all of his yellow teeth, and one chipped half crooked of his canines. “Been a while Flame. Who would have figured the two of us generals would finally get to finish our fight.”

You, Smoke. Have no right to refer to yourself as the General Frozen Smoke, don’t you even dare wear that godforsaken cloak of yours. Not after what you did, betraying your chosen king. The king that graced upon you and I the titles of generals.” Val lashed out, venom coating her voice, that seemed to strike like a viper.

Her gaze landed on the poor girl tied up, forced against her will. The only thing covering her, was a dirty white sheet, dry blood coating her thigh, while a fresh stream of blood had started to trickle down her leg, as Smoke pulled out, the blood fell into it was reaching her calf, leaving a small pooling puddle. A pure, unbearable, aggressive fire seems to burn in the pit of Val’s stomach; the fire was her rage, which quickly consumed her.

With her anger now flying her motions, she moved, lunging at Smoke. Taking by surprised, Smoke had only moments to make a sluggish few steps backward, missing the Naginata, by mere seconds, as it scraped against his shirt, drawing a thin line of blood. Pulling back, she swirled her blame in her hand, letting her ambition get clouded by instinct that was run on adrenaline.

Smoke kept dodging, while he backed away, trying to secretly make his way to his sword that was leaning against the opposite side of the table, hidden within its sheath. The Crystal Flame General, stroke fierce and strong with every blow, leaving small bloody cuts across Smoke, as she declared her in tainted justice. His once white silk shirt was turned to a dark scarlet with the dye of his blood, not that he had any time to take in account or spare, he was just trying to survive the fight he was engaged in and was currently losing. Smoke became within arms distance of his sword when he tripped over his once so proud cloak of his.

“This ends now Smoke like his Majesty’s had previously said. Your pride one day might become your downfall.” Val said, bringing her Naginata in an arch, her grip firm. Smoke fidgeted trying to escape the blow, trying to leap out of the way, only to once again to slide on his cloak fumbling before falling, knocking his breath out of his chest. His fingers fumbled wanting to escape deaths grip. His fingers latched on his sword, without a second thought he grabbed and hovering it over himself, moving into a clumsy kneel.

“I think you’re wrong Crystal Flame General.” He said, his blade risen to intersect with the mighty blow. Sheath still on, and with no strength behind it, it did little to block the blow only to slow it down. He let out a bloody murder scream as a huge gash crossed his chest from his left shoulder to lower abdomen. The general’s blow came with such force that it cut and knocked him back down in seconds. The tear was the first that escaped the General Frozen Smoke’s pale white skin, that was now pulsing blood. The small and barely noticeable smirk on Val’s lips when the cut was made went unnoticed to the wounded general.

She was reading her blade once more, but a muffled scream made her fumble. She turned to see the teary-eyed girl, the one person in the room she had forgotten about. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure you can understand me, but this will be over soon. And we’ll let you free, just give me a moment. The trash who did this to you will be gone soon. Just close your eyes and try not to listen, this bastard’s fate has already been decided. Do you understand?” Val asked, he voice kind, gentle and slow, trying to let her voice detect the meaning of the message since her words couldn’t seem to reach the vulnerable girl. The only response Val got was the silent nod of her head.

She stared at the girl, feeling a slight pity for the tragedy that befell on the young girl, she bet she didn’t want to have any part of this war. In her thoughts, she didn’t see the sound of the sheath being pulled roughly off, or the heavy footsteps of the drowsy general until the girl made a muffled sound of protest. It was only when the sound of the wind and sting of the cold metal that, she realized that the girl wasn’t in fact scared of her, but was trying to warn her of the upcoming attack. She turned so the sword skid against her side, she inhaled sharply, hissing through clenched teeth, at the new wound development.

When Smoke’s next attack came, she moved to the side, using the last moment to hook her curved blade around his, blocking his attack. Quickly gaining ground, she stricken at his head, he paired. This went back and forth like this; she would attack he would block, she would make a fake side attack, he would dodge, then block her blade that was coming from the back. When she made a wrong move, they would change places, and she’d start to defend for a matter of moments before he’ll see an opening. No matter how much they switched positions, neither could seem to get the final strike to end their opponent.

When luck finally seems to strike and change their unfitting pattern it was for her opponent. He made a move to swing at her legs, cornered, by the wall of the tent, she had no choice but to jump up. Landing one foot before the other, the Ex-General saw his chance, he ran at her and slammed into her for force knocking her down. A pin next to her, realizing what it was she tried to move, too late, the gas exploded.

She breathed it in before she realized what she had done. Looking back, he was gone. Uncannily he seems to blend into the shadows, his forming flickering as if the room was getting colder and darker. The shadows seemed to gather in layers, getting heavier in the room, Val could feel the atmosphere get thicker. Harder to breathe, her breaths began to go out in puffs. They seemed to bend, as she eyed the dark shadows. Val’s opponent moved around her, his presence only known by erotic footsteps, that seemed to bounce off the walls, and come from nowhere.

“So is this where that unfaithful title of you comes from, Frozen Smoke General? You gas your opponents with phantoms, and when there in that daze you go into the shadows and hide like the coward you are!” She asked, her eyes scanning the unwavering shadows that seem to engulf her.

He found a chance to verbally speak as his presences were now hidden in the shadows. “Unfaithful title or not you’re wrong about the gas; the gas was nothing but a distraction. I figured a general like yourself could figure out that much. Guess I was mistaken. No, you were mistaken there’s no way I’m dying, not today at least.” The general’s voice rung out, but just like his rhythmic footsteps, it was undetectable. That’s when he swung his sword coming out in attack, her reflex already seen the upcoming attack had already blocked it before her brain could comprehend the words that were spoken.

But before Val could counter-attack the sword of silver vanished into the shadows along with its owner. Val gazed at the shadows trying to see movement, but all was still. So she tried something else that surprised the general. She closed her eyes and listened. Listening to the footsteps, trying to locate him through the vibrations and echoes of sound.

When she felt his sound pattern change slightly she took it as his attack; eyes flashed open as she dodged his sword, and tried to fight back but failed to land a hit as he disappeared in the shadows once more. Eyes closed again, she avoided his next upcoming attack, blocking it with her blade, but when her eyes flew open, once again his figure managed to disappear before her very eyes.

“You know what your sin is, General? It was leading all those soldiers here to perish. Now it’s your turn to perish” Smoke’s voice ringed out in the shadows, her head swerved to the left, eyes scanning to where the sound was, she saw nothing but black fog. She said nothing, eyeing the spot Smoke was last located.

As if the fate of hers had finally struck her, she dropped her weapon, placing her palms on the ground. Almost in a pleading for her life gesture, but the words of pleading were never heard. Instead, her head tilted to the left just a little, as if she was listening to something but no one had spoken.

Smoke fumbled for a brief second, performing three footsteps into his usual enchanting two, in his abnormal footpace, which circled around her. In that brief misstep, Crystal Flames’ head snapped to his direction the first time since he started their encounter. Must have been a coincidence, there was no way she could follow him in the mindscape he had put her in; much less with his eyes closed, he thought reassuringly. But his doubts crumpled when Flame got out of her wearly trance and grabbed the weapon that laid beside her, her eyes still being closed throughout the violent actions.

“You were right, I did mistake the gas, but telling me that was your mistake. I know know what you're doing…” She said her eyes closed, weapon out, but this time it was different. It was following the hidden general’s movement. Now taken back, the general tried to rewrite his footsteps, still keeping up the abnormal pattern, but to no avail, Val’s Naginata followed him effortlessly.

“Impossible…” The general muttered this was unheard of; it can't be!

“Neat trick you’ve got here, with your footsteps that traps your opponent’s mind unknowingly making them see illusions. What’s it called?”

“Entertainment of Death” Smoke muttered frozen still baffled at the new development.

“You want to know how I figured on?” Val asked, either not taking in note of Smoke’s unmoving status or not caring.

“I figured something was up when you violently shoved me, all to inhale the gas. But if it wasn’t anything that affected me and all a distraction… For a while, I couldn’t figure out why you’d tell me that it was just a distraction, what was the point of the destruction? It was only when I stopped trying to use my eyes, and use my other senses.That’s when it started to connect. Why would you use the gas, saying it was a distraction why you always walk around me, where the illusional black fog came from. You were hypnotizing my brain using the rhythm of your stepping, weren’t you?”

“Impossible” he muttered again, seeming not to listen to what Val had just finished saying.

“I can see you weren’t listening… ” She said disappointedly.

“Impossible!” He yelled charging at her, full of attack. His moves were sloppy, she dodged them all, stepping to the side or under the blade not once blocking with her blade; she didn’t need to.

“How long would you say we’ve been at this, about fifteen minutes? That gives you about, what forty-five seconds? Let’s finish this up shall we?” she said starting to countdown, “forty-five, forty-four, forty-three, forty-two, forty-one, forty-”

“What are you doing, stop that!” Smoke yelled.

She counted seeming to ignore his annoying remarks. “Thirty-nine, thirty-eight, thirty-seven, thirty-six.”

“Whatever you doing, stop it!” Smoke said once again erupting Val’s countdown.

“Thirty-five, thirty-four, thirty-three, thirty-two, thirty-one, thirty, twenty-nine.”

I told you, stop it!” Smoke yelled, grabbing his ears, not even trying to fight anymore.

“Twenty-eight, twenty-seven, twenty-six, twenty-five, twenty-four, twenty-three, twenty-two, twenty-one, twenty, nineteen, eighteen-”

“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!”

“Will you quit it?” Val finally snapped swearing at the maddened general in front of her.

“Stop counting down” Smoke demanded, Val looked at her with a shake of her head she continued her counting.

“Seventeen, Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen, Thirteen, Twelve, Eleven, Ten-” this time she was erupted, by the screams of Ex-General.

“Dammit, look like I was ten seconds off,” Val muttered to herself, not gazing at her screaming opponent that was trashing on the floor.

“W-w-what d-did you do to m-me?” Smoke yelled the question mixed in with his painful screams.

“The large cut I gave to abdomen, that you thought was nothing, was coated in poison, and once it got into your torn skin, it spread to every skin cell in your body, making you burn from inside out. But don’t worry. I got specific orders, by his majesty to not let you die this way.”

“What orders?” He asked while spitting out blood that painted his lips crimson.

“To bring your head back, of course. For it to be stranded on a spike, and be an example for all that dare to defy his Majesty’s reign.”

“So… that’s how it is” he responded giving off a dry laugh. “That’s the reason for your name. One untouched by the blade would only suspect from the unspoken claimed rumors. Most say your name comes from your style of fighting, how you fight with such beauty cutting down one opponent at a time any, and all who stand in your way. But get too close, and you get burned. Who would have thought that would turn out to be literally the case?”

“I guess we both have reason for our given title as general, both oblivious to the last moment when reviled.”

“That’s how that tricky bastard wanted it.” Smoke spat out in spite. “Never wanted us to reveal our tricks we hide behind out armor in case one day we would need it. Sounds just like that foolish bastard.”

“Couldn’t agree more,” Val commented

“Wow is the loyal pup finally showing its fangs?” Smoke asked in false surprise.

“Oh shut it, I know all too well, what that tyrant is cable off, and what sins that person has committed.”

“If that’s true… then why follow him?” Smoke asked for once surprisingly intrigued.

“As for why… My ambition is to kill two evils; he just happens to be one of the lesser ones of those, at the moment.”

“... Who would have thought the Loyalist was about just as backstabbing at the rest of us?” Crackled the fool of a man.

“Well, this is your defeat, and unlike in the past there will be no more in the future.” Stated Val emotion now removed from her. She lifted up her Naginata, and with mighty swing, she had put a finish to the civil fighting.

“Goodbye Ex-General of the Frozen Smoke.” “I’m never wrong.” She said eyeing the head that was now rolling silently across the floor leaving blood in its wake. He fought bravely, but he only delayed his fate of death.

A shiver ran down her spine making her turn; she watched as shadows encircled him, before disappearing. The Calling of Deaths Departed, so the legend is true after all…

She walked back to the troubled girl, where she took relief in seeing she had her eyes closed shut. She untied her and helped her out, a hand gently on the lower back of the girl, as she fumbled every few steps while she walked. Val ran into one of her soldiers, she pointed into the tent giving a quick order, to clean up. Only after seeing that the girl had been treated and would be returned to her tribe, did Val return to the tent to finally realize what her actions had accomplished.

“Do we have to take this back to his Majesty really?” asked Kheen holding the head of the Ex-General, using a worn over glove to grip it, holding it as far away from his body as his arms would allow him, his nose wrinkled up in disgust. Even with the fascinating sight, Val couldn’t help a smirk from coming open from her general mask.

“Yes, and you can even hold it on the way back. Aren’t you just a lucky fella?” she called out dramatically, an evil smirk lighting up her face, making her eyes shine rebelliously.

“Val, that’s just mean!” Kheen whined, he was the only one in her squad who felt calm enough to drop her titles and treat her like her age.

“You’re the one who decided only to be a spectator and watch the match from outside the tent” Val commented back with false aggressivity.

“Oh, come on Val! I knew the win was already a given from the beginning, so why butt in and ruin the spectacle you see once in a lifetime. Two generals chose first hand by the king, going head to head.” Kheen said waving his arms around like waves as if to prove his point.

“Just for that! You can carry it, the whole way back instead of halfway.” Commented Val mischievously, walking past him.

“What, Val, come on that’s not fair!” He wailed chasing after her.

“That’s an order.”

“That’s cruel!

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