The Hero from the Mountain

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Chapter 3

Saphira opened her eyes, trying to recall what just happened. I was following a man in a cloak, who went into an ally way that lead to a dead end. Someone punched me as I left and now it seems I've ended up here. That about sums it up. She sighed, getting out of the bed she was in.

"I'm telling you, she's a spy for Dragon Scale! Their spies always seem harmless and afraid of their own boss, so it's only natural that a girl her age is one!" she could hear a male voice say on the other side of the door. She was annoyed he referred to her as a kid and afraid, but she kept a cool head and listened to what was going on.

"She's not a spy. I heard from Jak that someone would be coming here looking for answers, and that girl matches his descriptions perfectly. A young girl, looks about 16, long brown hair. And did you completely ignore the sword she had strapped to her back? And the knife on the back of her belt? That was from Jak. She's not an enemy" she could hear another voice scolding the one who had spoken before. It was female, though it didn't sound like an adult. Saphira looked around the room, trying to see if her sword, the knife and her bag was in here. Obviously, they're not here. I don't even know why I looked around. Better to be sure, I guess. She thought, the voices talking again.

"But…why would she follow Benny into the alley if she didn't know anything about us?" the male voice said, Saphira sitting on the edge of the bed as she continued to listen in on their conversation.

"Anyone who isn't used to this place would've done the same. I mean, a man in a cloak trying to get out the crowd and goes to a dead end. Tell me, how many people other than us do that?" the female voice spoke up again. Saphira sighed and laid down on the bed again, looking up at the roof. After a while, she felt something on her stomach. She looked up, seeing a tabby cat washing its paws.

"A cat? Where did you come from?" she asked, sitting up and scratched it behind its ears. It purred as she did, leaning against her hand. She smiled and kept petting it. There was a loud noise from the other room, making her stop and the cat a little scared. "What the heck?"

"What are the two of you doing? I've only been out for 10 minutes!" a very deep, male voice said, Saphira narrowing her eyes. She picked up the cat and sat it down beside her, sitting on the edge of the bed. "Why are you standing here like guards?"

"Mark thinks a girl who was wandering around is a spy. Jak sent a message to us not too long ago and it said that a girl was looking for you. She matches his description, as well as having the knife Jak took care of all of these years," the female voice explained, the cat rubbing itself against her arm. She moved it and petted it again, not sure why it liked her so much.

"So you locked her up?" the newcomer asked, sounding very mad. All Saphira could hear again was the loud noise which she wasn't sure she wanted to know what was. Once the sound died down, the door opened and a man walked in. He threw three items onto the bed, all of them belonging to her. "Sorry about their behavior," he said, bowing.

"Don't worry about. It's not a big deal. I'm guessing you're Jak's friend," she said, getting off the bed and putting the knife back on behind her belt and strapped her sword to her back. She thought she might as well leave her bag in the room. No point in dragging it around.

"Yes. My name is Dick. I was out when you were taken here. The man who knocked you out was a good friend of mine. He was here delivering some supplies for us and happen to come across you at the wrong time. He's already left, and I'll get a more thorough explanation about what happened from one of the ones who told my men to lock you up in here," he said. Saphira walking closer to the door, and the cat followed her.

"Why does Lucky like her so much. She hates me and Elise," she heard the male voice she had heard before, seeing a blond boy in the doorway. "I still don't trust you. Why do you want answers anyway?" he asked, Saphira closing her eyes. She moved her left hand and flicked his forehead. "What the hell was that for?"

"You annoy me. Stop asking question you have nothing to do with," she said, only making him more annoyed. The cat, which was named Lucky apparently, started hissing at him, making him less eager to start a fight with her.

"He probably thinks that she's trustworthy. But that's not important now. Please follow me," Dick said, walking past him and the girl who was by the door. Saphira followed him, hearing grunting from the boy. She looked ahead of Dick, seeing a very unsecured door. He walked through it, a small room with a few weapons and a table in it. There was food stacked in shelves as well, making it look like a storage room. "Now, is there anything you'd like to know right now?" he asked, looking through the shelves. She found herself a chair, looking thoroughly through the items. Most of them were normal food; apples, potatoes, salad and other food that were transported all over the land. Then there was something odd that caught her eye. A purple flower. They were rare, she wasn’t even quite sure what it did.

"Yeah, why this war started in the first place. I still don't know anything about the reason," she said, Dick sighing slightly. He found a shining red apple and threw towards her, telling her she should get something to eat. She took a bite out of it, Dick leaning against the desk that was in there.

"It started as a power fight between the Dragon Scales, which consists of rouges that have been exiled from their town, and the Royal Army, the ones who exiled them. They thought that their judgment was unjust, that it was just an excuse to bully the ones weaker than them. They kept trying to convince them with words and non-violence actions, which worked for a while.

However, that all changed when Paul, the Head Commander of the Royal Army, decided that they were bothering the other civilians and killed the former leader of the Dragon Scale. This, to them, was a declaration to war. They killed an innocent man, who had harmed no one, just because they didn't like him. That’s how they saw it," he started, Saphira narrowing her eyes.

"So no matter how you slice it, the Royal Army was the ones who started this war. That's something at least. Who's the new leader?" she asked, Dick telling her it was a man who had fought in many wars. However, he didn't know his name. "That's reassuring,"

"But that's only scratching the surface," he continued, Saphira staying silent. "After the war between the two sides started, many rich towns and cities have been helping each their own side in equipment or money. However, they also require help from smaller villages and towns. So they grow weaker and weaker each passing day because of the little resources they have.

That's when the Shadow's Knights appeared, to help those people that suffered because of this. It started as a simple group transporting food and tools to the people who needed them. However, both the Royal Army and Dragon Scale started interfering and took their food. They also threatened them so they wouldn't help the other sides, but this didn't stop them at all. That's when it became the warrior group we know,"

"So they have a similar start that Dragon Scale had," she commented, Dick nodding. "Who are the people within this group. I saw two of them in Sektories. But that's about it," she asked, a loud noise catching her attention. She turned her head towards the door and was about to ask what it was. But Dick beat her to it and told her not to mind it, telling her someone must've just tipped something over. She turned her head again and nodded.

"The one most known is most likely the only female Lieutenant, May. She known as the Flower Queen, and she has earned it. She can make her petals as soft as feathers, or as sharp as fangs in the span of a second. She's one of the deadliest fighters, more so because her appearance doesn't scream 'I'm a big, bad Lieutenant'," he joked a little in the end, Saphira laughing slightly.

"Then there's the strongest Lieutenant, and the one who does most of the killing, Zach," he started, Saphira remembering back to when she met with that boy. She felt a shiver go down her spine, Dick continuing. "He's a Dark Master, and one of the strongest I've ever seen. He uses the fear that people have of him to make them unable to run away. After that, it's a bloodbath. He doesn’t hesitate, unless he's been ordered to keep a low profile," Saphira felt goose bumps on her arms, ignoring it for the most part and continued listening to him.

"The last Lieutenant, but certainly not the least, is Erik. He's about the same age as you," he started, Saphira taking another bite out of her apple. "He's defiantly the most reasonable person of the Shadow Knights. He's always open to people who needs an ear, and is the one who deals with recruiting new soldier or making agreements with other smaller groups and with rich people," he said, Saphira swallowing the apple piece she's been chewing.

"What about the one in charge? If they're just Lieutenants, that means that there's someone above them," she said, Dick agreeing with her statement. However, he told her they had no real information about him. So it wasn't easy really saying how he was. "That's not helpful. Oh well, can't expect you to know everything. But there's one thing; why the hell is the King just standing aside and letting this happen?" she asked, taking another bite of the apple.

"It's not like he's letting them because he knows about this," he started, making her confused. "He's fallen ill. Just before the Dragon Scale started their non-violence acts. No one seems to know what kind of sickness it is, and doctors are confused about how to cure it. No one really knows what happened to him," he said, Saphira swallowing the bite of apple she had in her mouth.

"So someone made him sick. The only sicknesses I can recall that no doctor knew were the ones caused by Spirits. Maybe that's something to do with it," she suggested, Dick nodding. "But that's not something we should worry about now. I doubt that just the King getting better will stop this war,"

"Good point. We'll focus on stopping the ones who are fighting in this war. No point in dragging in a sick man who we cannot help," he said, Saphira putting the apple down. Only the core was left, so she didn't really know what to do with it. Dick picked it up and went towards a wooden wall. However, it wasn't a wall. It was a window. He threw it out and closed it again. "It makes it harder for people to find us if we're careful," he told her, thinking she would be surprised by the 'wall' moving.

"I've been meaning to ask. Why are you hidden so well? Who are you guys and what are you a part of?" she asked, getting up from the chair and looking at the weapons. They were defiantly high quality, so they weren't just staying here for safety. It almost looked like they were getting ready for war themselves.

"We're a group that was inspired by the reason the Shadow Knights are fighting; To end this war. However, since they weren't able to do it peacefully, we've taken a stand," he started, walking over to the shelves with the weapons on. "We don't really need this many weapons, but it's good to be prepared for the worst," he moved his fingers over a very big blade, at least twice as big as the sword Saphira had.

Just then, a small knock on the door echoed through the room, both of them turning to the door. Dick told them to open the door, a young boy peeking his head through. He was a mess, his face dirty and mud stuck in his hair. His clothes were torn and his hands full of bruises.

"Elise told me that I should get some food. I heard voices so…" he stopped a little at the end, his voice very low and shy. Saphira looked closer at him, seeing a small tattoo on his neck. A Exiled. I've never seen one so young. She thought, feeling sorry for the boy.

"That's alright, young one. We'll be leaving now anyway," Dick said, patting him on the head when he went past him. Saphira gave him a warm smile as well, following Dick. "What do you know about the Exiled?" he asked her suddenly, Saphira trying to think.

"They can be picked out by the tattoo on their neck. But that's about it. A few travelers with that tattoo on their neck came to our village when I was younger, and father helped them however he could. But since we're a small village, we didn't have much," she told him, not sure if she remembered correctly.

"I hope that's the case. No one really dares to try and help the Exiled. They're the ones who were exiled out of town in the olden days. However, in recent years, the trait that the Exiled have is that they're young children who have been forced out of their families. Basically exiled from their homes. They never say the reason, but I've met a few that have grown up as Exiled. They said that the reason was something stupid, like talking back to their parents. Other say it was because they didn't want a child," he said, Saphira feeling her chest getting warm. If there was something she hated more, it was people who took others for granted. Like kids grew on trees for them.

"I see. I don't really get why someone would be that mad at their kids to basically throw them out to die," she murmured, Dick nodding slightly. He lead them into a big hall, filled with people. There were 8 tables, six chairs for each table. All but one table were filled with people, Dick going to one of the chairs near the door.

"Sit down, you should eat some more before leaving," he told her, Saphira sitting down on the opposite side of him. A young girl, younger than Saphira, appeared before them and placed a plate filled with freshly cut fruit and berries. Dick thanked her and placed a pear piece in his mouth. "Where are you going now, anyway?"

"Don't know. I don't really have any hints about where to go," she said, placing a strawberry in her mouth. She heard footsteps behind her, turning her head just enough to see someone walking towards her. It was the two who were talking when she was in the room before meeting Dick. They sat down, the girl sitting beside her while the boy sat beside Dick.

"Seems like you've made yourself comfy," Mark said, sounding very annoyed. Saphira ignored him and put another strawberry in her mouth. Mark kept talking to Dick, Saphira ignoring him for the most part. Elise tried getting her attention by talking about guys she thought was cute, though Saphira ignored her as well in the end.

"And what did you find out about the Royal Army?" when Dick asked this, Saphira's ears perked up and she looked at them. She hadn't paid attention to their conversation, but she knew it would be good to hear what he had found out.

"Paul has a new soldier, though I haven't seen him fight. I don't even think we can tell what his fighting style is. I've defiantly never seen him on the field before. I heard some of the other soldiers calling him Nate. But that's about it," he said, Saphira narrowing her eyes.

"He's from the same village as me; Natallian. And he's an expert at long-range fighting. I can't remember anyone beating him from a distance. Even when he was younger," she said, all of them looking at her. "You guys are helping me, so I'm returning the favor," she said, leaning back into the chair. "He's hot tempered and tends to trouble other people. But he's very defensive of people he cares for and will do anything to protect them," she kept going, Mark interrupting her.

"First off, you're from Natallian?" he asked, Saphira sighing as she nodded. "Second. How do you know him so well? I mean, is coming from the same village enough so you know his personality?" he asked her, Saphira shaking her head.

"No, it's not that we're just from the same village. We're related by blood. He's my older brother, and the oldest son of the leader of my village," she explained, Elise gasping. Dick spoke before either of them could ask another question, asking him why Nate joined the Army. "Most likely because of our mother's death. He took it extremely hard, and wanted revenge for the people who did it. That's the only thing that comes to mind,"

"And you don't?" Elise asked, Saphira looking a little annoyed. She said that she did want to get back at them, but letting it control her wasn't her thing. "But your brother couldn't just sit back and wait, so he joined the Army to hopefully find her murderer," she asked, Saphira nodding. Even though she didn't like talking about her mother's death, she knew it would help them.

"Either way, we now have a little background on how he fights and will most likely act. Thank you, Saphira," Dick said, knowing this was hard for her to talk about. "Mark, have you located the area they might go to next?" he asked, pulling Mark out of his thoughts. Saphira looked at him, wondering if he still thought of her as a enemy.

"Well, the Royal Army are heading back to the Castle. The Shadow Knights haven't been too active lately. At least not so we can see what they're doing. Dragon Scale, however, seem to be very active around Milline. Though I'm not too sure what exactly they're doing," he explained, Dick nodding.

"Well, you have a destination now. I'm sure you'll go and have a look at what's going on no matter how much we try to convince you otherwise, right?" he asked, his view going over to Saphira. Who quickly nodded in agreement. She got up from her chair and thanked him for the help and left before anyone could say another word to her. She headed back into the room she started in, picking up the bag she had left behind earlier. She heard a soft sound from the bed, seeing the cat she met earlier.

"You're still here? Thought you'd leave the room by now," she said to it, going over and scratched it behind its ears. "I guess living here is better than living hungry on the streets," she said, smiling at it. It purred and leaned into her hand, asking her to pet her.

"He really likes you," she heard a familiar voice behind her, turning her head to see Dick standing by the doorway. "I have something else I want to tell you. Concerning the Shadow Knights," he said, making her confused. "If you do meet them, you'd better make sure you try and reason with Erik or the main man in charge. Both May and Zach are the soldiers, not the ones who listens to deals from other people,"

"I'd rather not meet with Zach again. And please don't ask about my encounter with him," she added quickly to the end of her sentence. Dick had his mouth open right after she said she had already met him, so she guessed he wanted to ask her about it. He closed it again after she said that, a small smirk growing on his face.

"Well, as long as you stay low and carefully choose who you're going to trust, you should be fine," he said, leaving the room. The cat followed him, leaning against her leg as it walked past her. She slung the bag over her shoulder and looked around. She forgot to ask for the way out, but she thought she could find it pretty easily.

"Turn right and head out the first door you see. You'll get outside then," Flarenix told her, Saphira doing as she was told and followed her directions.

"Sometimes I wonder how lost I would be without you around,"she joked, making her Spirit laugh slightly.

"I'm your Spirit. It's my job to make sure you stay safe. Or in this case, get out of a place you've never been to," she smirked, Saphira smiling.

She turned right and went out the first door, the bright sun blinding her for a second. There were a lot of trees surrounding her. The air was clean and fresh grass was blowing slightly in the breeze.

"I forgot just how peaceful places like this feel after you've been discussing big problems," she said, closing her eyes and taking in the air. After a few seconds, she opened them again and headed towards the streets of the town. She started walking towards the exit, a lot of people gossiping around her.

"Have you heard? The Prince is going to a big party sometime soon. Oh, I do wish I knew where he was going!" she heard a female voice say, looking over to where it came from and saw a group of posh girls talking.

"I wish so too! Oh, if the dear young Prince met with us, he'd fall in love after just one look!" another said, making Saphira a little worried. Their entire face was covered in something she hadn't seen before. Defiantly not something people in her village would use. They look more scary than pretty. She thought as she kept walking. They kept talking behind her, but she ignored them and left the town.

She looked around, trying to figure out what way Milline would be. She knew about the village, though she had never been there. She walked towards a mountain north of the town, finding a small cave at the base and rested a little while she was thinking.

"Let's see, Milline is known for its rich material from the mountain and treasure hunting last time I checked. So I guess it only makes sense that it's somewhere by the mountains," she said to herself, lying down on her back and looked at the necklace she bought in the town she was in before. She held it up so it was shining on the sun, making a beautiful red color because of the gem.

"You do know you can use that as a weapon enhancement, right?" Flarenix said in her head, making her confused. She asked her what she meant, Flarenix sighing. "If you channel your power into that and attach it to the hilt of your sword, it'll be possible for you to use it through that sword. Since I can't really interact with that kind of stuff," she explained briefly, Saphira looking closer at the necklace.

"So you're saying I could potentially use fire with my sword? I don't think I've ever heard of something like that unless you find a weapon made by the scales of the Spirit you have. And I don't think this one is yours," she said, Flarenix telling her the metal of the sword was able to withstand a lot of heat, so if she used something else to channel her power through, it would act like a Spirit Weapon, which was what Saphira mentioned.

"This is how most Masters use their Spirits power through a weapon. Finding those Spirit Weapons takes too long. Especially since no one has seen hide nor hair of them for decades," she pointed out, Saphira asking if all she had to do was tie it to the hilt of her sword. "You don't even need to tie it. Just put it near the hilt and it'll do the rest itself,"

Doing as her Spirit told her, Saphira drew her blade from its sheath and placed the dragon necklace on the hilt. The second the metal met with the leather hilt, the gem started glowing and the chain wrapped itself around the hilt. As soon as that was done, it melted into the leather hilt, and it looked like it was naturally like that.

"Whoa…" Saphira said, looking at it. Flarenix told her she had to be careful with how she uses it now. Considering she might accidentally use too much force and send fire all over the place. "I already have to be careful using your power or I'll be making fried Humans," she said very sarcastically, Flarenix laughing. Saphira put her sword back into the sheath and got up from where she sat. She swung her bag over her shoulder and started walking once again.

After walking for a while, she saw a huge, crystal mountain reaching high into the sky. The other mountains around it weren't near its height, making it stand out. It's rare color was also very noticable.

Isn't this Crystal's mountain? It looks similar to the color the old legends said she was," she asked, Flarenix nodding. "What exactly is she now?"

"She's one of the Dragon Elders now. She's been one since I left the selfish old lizards," she said, growling. Saphira asked her to calm down and asked about the mountain. "It's the route you have to take to get into Milline. So have fun climbing. If you don't want to be around other people that is," she said, Saphira kind of knowing what she was hinting towards. But asked just in case.

"Are you talking about Crystal's love for Humans? Since she cares about them so much, she wouldn't force them to walk over such a high mountain," Flarenix agreed to her statement, and told her to look towards her right. Saphira did what she said, seeing a large group of people standing by the base. Curious, she walked over to see what they were doing. When she got closer, she could hear a very clear voice speaking.

Now, we will soon start the tour inside the Mountain of Crystal. All of you who want to join in, please line up and we'll be leaving shortly," the voice said, Saphira looking very confused. However, she walked over and stood at the very back, since it was an easy way to get to Milline. "We are now entering the mountain. Please, no wandering off while inside," she said again, everyone started walking. Saphira followed them inside from the back, no one paying her much mind.

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