Book One: Knights' Festival

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The Strongest Woman

Terror seized Samantha when she saw the creatures tearing through the battlefield. Pincer Drakes and Krakens – when did Xychosia manage to sneak those through the city!? She shook her head. As much as she wanted to jump in a help them, what could she do? All she could do was produce the tiny little barrier she created when she fought against the Abomination on her birthday!

“We don’t have to do this,” Samantha pleaded. “They’ve already proven their worth!”

Councilman Pocholo shook his head. “There’s something that’s not right.”

Finally, someone believed her! “Yeah, this whole trial’s stupid!”

“No, it’s the small boy. He hasn’t done anything yet. Doesn’t he have any powers?”

“… Who? You mean Luke?”

“Who’s Luke?”

Samantha shook her head. “He was the little boy who was captured with Brandon and Bea!”

“Oh, that little stick? He looked more like a twig to me!”

The princess groaned; how could they do this? She rushed towards the ledge of the balcony where she watched Beatriz be dragged around while Luke carried her around. However, her eyes widened when she suddenly saw Luke vanish with Beatriz. The audience gasped in surprise; where did Luke and Beatriz go?

“Bea! Luke!” Samantha hollered. “Where are you!?”

Suddenly, Beatriz crashed down into the balcony and right into Samantha’s arms. “Whoa!”

Her eyes widened with admonishment when she saw Beatriz’s beaten and battered state. Her body was covered with dust and bruises. The princess yelped when she suddenly felt her skirt soak up a sticky liquid when she saw blood pouring onto the hem of her skirt. Samantha helped prop up Beatriz when she suddenly noticed Luke standing on the ledge. The princess gasped in surprise when she saw the formerly scrawny boy now looking a little more muscular. But much to her surprise, his human flesh had been shed away and was left with something woody. Luke’s mismatched eyes which were once unnoticeable were now clear as day that he had mismatched coloured eyes. And his formerly straight dark brown hair, now looked like leaves from the reeds shaping his triangular face.

“Stay put, princess.” Luke beckoned her aside. “I’m gonna find Bea’s scythe. Meanwhile, can you please find a way to remove those shackles?”

Samantha blinked several times and noticed the glowing white shackles on Beatriz’s wrists. “You mean these?”

“Yes. I have a plan but it’s going to need her up and running. She also has a gaping hole in her calf; you’re going to need to mend that.”

“… No need,” Beatriz coughed.

Samantha gasped with a sigh of relief.”Bea! You’re okay!”

Beatriz coughed and smirked.”You think a stupid vulture’s gonna make me kick the bucket?” She scoffed. “Don’t make me laugh.”

Luke nodded. “You two focus on breaking the shackles. I saw her scythe somewhere down there. I’ll go fish it out.”

Samantha nodded. “How’s Brandon though?”

“He’s fine. He doesn’t really need –.”

“—LUKE, GODDAMN IT! HELP ME! THIS FUCKING OOZE WON’T GO AWAY!”

Samantha blinked and raised an eyebrow at Luke. “Ooze?”

Luke shrugged sheepishly with a small grin. “Uh… he kinda doesn’t like anything that jiggles, looks like pudding, or basically anything that looks like an ooze.”

“LUKE!” Brandon wailed. “Get your fething ass here, now!”

“COMING!” Luke hollered back. He grinned boyishly at Samantha and bowed. “Shall I take my leave now, princess?”

Samantha giggled. “You may.”

Luke waved to the council members. “Members of the council of Xychosia. I bid you farewell.”

He fell backwards and dove straight down towards the ground. It was then that Samantha saw Luke display the full extremities of his powers. The ground beneath them suddenly began to rumble when trees shot out from the ground. She gasped at the sight of the large Sequoia trees sprouting out their leaves to cushion his fall as he swung down from the branches. She watched his silhouette fade away as he fell deeper through the branches.

Samantha could do nothing but stare in amazement. She had only seen Luke as the skinny boy who hid behind Brandon whenever something went wrong. He always seemed to have the first reaction to scream for Brandon should something big come his way. But she never imagined that he would have his own fighting power.

“I knew it!” Pocholo exclaimed. He then turned to AJ with a triumphant grin. “Pay up.”

AJ groaned and shoved his hands into his pocket before slapping 20 silver pieces on Pocholo’s palm. “Lucky twit.”

“You know you suck at gambling. Besides, you should pay more attention to detail.”

“I bet that he had magic. Just not specifically.”

“Still, I guessed correctly that he was a Fae.”

“You weren’t sure what kind of Fae he was!”

Samantha blinked. “Fae? What…?”

Councilwoman Joy offered to explain. “Allow me. Fae are normally elusive creatures. They don’t like mingling with humans. But ever since someone had discovered their healing properties, finding a Fae is very rare. Especially a Fae of,” – she referred to Luke. “Your knight’s kind.”

Samantha shook his head. “But don’t Fae have mismatched eyes or something? His eyes were black!”

“The wonders of concealment magic and contact lenses, princess.”

“But wouldn’t his skin show his lineage?”

“Again, concealment magic. Once one is a master of concealment magic, one can create even the most powerful illusions. For as long as one believes then, that is the only way the concealment magic will become reality.”

Samantha nodded slowly and turned back to the arena. “So, what is Luke anyway?”

“I believe he should be telling you himself. I only have some suspicions, just not quite sure what he is.”

With that, Samantha stopped asking and returned back to dealing with the situation at hand. While the two councilmen bickered with one another, Samantha examined the Lumina shackles on Beatriz’s wrists. She stretched out the chains, watching the light separate as it passed through the glistening chains. Her lips pursed into a frown. She racked her brains for a spell; there had to be some spell capable of breaking the chains.

“For fuck’s sake! Can you just fucking smash the chains?!” Beatriz groaned before slumping down on the ground. “You’re taking forever!”

Samantha snapped. “I can’t just blast it! It might explode!”

“Who the fuck said that Lumina stone explodes?! Luke and Brandon can’t keep fighting those monsters down there forever!”

“I don’t wanna explode the chains in your face!”

“Who said anything of having to explode it?! Just snap it in half! Brute force always solves the problem!”

“In which brute force is always followed by brute stupidity!”

Beatriz sighed and groaned. “Sam, you’re gonna get Brandon and Luke killed!” She then flashed the shackles in the princess’s face. “And I’m fucking useless because of the chains!”

Samantha panicked. Bea was right; as her magic was of dark attribute and nature, Lumina Stone completely cancelled out her magic. More howls and cheers roared from the arena with gunshots thundering in the air. Dread settled to the pits of her stomach; those howls and cheers didn’t sound good. Think, think, Samantha racked her brains. She remembered reading about Lumina Stone before. The only thing known to cut through the shackles was Neptune Steel. But where was she going to get something like that? Suddenly, a bolt of realization hit her when there was one thing made from Neptune Steel.

“Brandon’s gunblades!” Samantha exclaimed.

Beatriz stared her, bewildered. “The fuck?”

“Brandon’s gunblades! They’re made of Neptune Steel!”

“Your point being?”

“Bea, they can break the shackles!”

Beatriz’s eyes widened in she quickly clambered to her feet. “We better go find him then!” Her leg suddenly caved beneath her as she fell to the ground. “Ow!”

Samantha then glanced back, realizing that Bea’s leg hadn’t healed. “Why hasn’t your leg healed yet?! It should have been healed by now!”

“That power is a Curse not a Holy enchantment!”

“Oh no!”

“So yeah, I’m kinda gonna need some help.”

“But, aren’t you allergic to holy magic?”

“... I’ll take my chances.”

Samantha sighed. “You sure you wanna do this?”

“The more we chit chat, the higher the chances that Brandon and Luke will turn into flesh ribbons to be used to make my gown!” Beatriz growled and extended her leg. “Now start healing!”

Samantha sighed and positioned her hands over Beatriz’s leg. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, focusing all her mana into her fingertips. A warmth pulsed in her fingertips as she focused on the torn flesh on Beatriz’s legs. She winced as her magic began to flow into Beatriz’s wound only to see that even the bone had been cracked through.

“What ate through your leg!?” Samantha gasped. “There’s like a single strand of muscle holding your leg together!”

“It’s called a Pocket Vulture, sweetheart,” Beatriz smirked grimly. She hissed in pain before moaning. “Ah, that’s the spot.”

Samantha shook her head. “Bea…”

“Come on, more… More…!”

“Bea, quit moaning so loud!”

“It’s not my fault it feels so good!”

“It’s supposed to be painful!”

“The pain is glorious!”

Samantha groaned and shook her head, closing her eyes as she focused on healing Beatriz’s wound. She could feel the fibres of Beatriz’s flesh slowly knit itself together while the bones managed to gather some extra cells to rebuild the parts lost. She sighed deeply and let more power flow out of her fingertips and into her lady-in-waiting’s wounds. Finally, the flesh healed properly and Beatriz managed to stand up.

“Great!” Beatriz clapped her hands. “Now what?”

Samantha looked over the ledge, watching Luke and Brandon deal with the monsters. “We need to get your scythe and have Brandon break your shackles.”

“In that particular order?”

“Mm, not really.”

“Great! Then all I have to do is jump down there!” Beatriz grinned. She glanced at the ledge. “Here I gooooooo!”

She bolted for the ledge and jumped off before plummeting straight into the arena. Samantha gasped and ran towards the ledge, watching Beatriz fall straight towards the ground. She shook her head. Beatriz could have at least taken the stairs! But no, she decided to leap off instead! A frown marred the princess’s features as she glanced back at the council members. However instead of the shocked reaction, a smile and amused smirk adorned their features. Although some of the female council members shifted uncomfortably in their seat, Queen Regina, Councilman Pocholo, and Councilman AJ had kept their eyes firmly glued to the scene before them.

Samantha groaned. “You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?”

Councilman AJ soon began to chuckle. “Well, if you mean I haven’t felt this kind of exhilaration in my life then – yes, yes I am. Although, I already knew that they were capable of defending you.”

“You did!?”

“Why of course! Who hasn’t heard the rumours of Brandon Hawthorne of the Dancing Blades? The man’s about your age and he can fight as well as an old seasoned general.”

“Then why test them!?”

“Because I like watching people get attacked. That’s why.”

Samantha groaned to herself; she didn’t expect Councilman AJ to be such a sadist. She glanced down at the field before turning to Queen Regina. The queen despite everything kept an emotionless façade with an air of elegance that every lady and noblewoman could be jealous of. It was then that Samantha also remembered the words that Queen Regina once told her.

You see, to be a queen and a lady you must be well-rounded.

Her eyes widened in astonishment. A sudden fear seized her when she looked down below at the arena. Could she do it? Could she keep her mind cool in the face of certain death? She slowly turned her head towards Queen Regina whose lips quirked into a small, cryptic smile. It was then Samantha knew what to do. She glanced at the field and nodded.

“To be a queen and a lady, you must be well rounded,” Samantha repeated the words that the queen told her during her birthday. She turned to the queen. “I’m sorry but, I must go.”

Councilman Pocholo stared at her in bewilderment. “Where?”

Samantha didn’t grace him with an answer but instead took a step onto the ledge. Her breath hitched her throat as her lungs tightened with fear. Her heart pounded. All the blood rushed to her ears and her body shuddered slightly from the sight of the height. It was a thirty foot fall; did she have the magic to cushion herself? Her next fall back was Beatriz catching her or at least one of the boys. Samantha shook her head. She couldn’t just sit there and watch her knights get killed. It couldn’t be like that! But the snapping jaws of the Pincer Drake and the angry screech of the Kraken terrified her. She shook her head once more and clenched her hands tightly into a fist. It was now or never.

“Here I go,” she breathed in deeply and took a step forward.


Down below, Beatriz grinned in delight as she bolted for her scythe. Her blood roiled with glee. The shackles had been shattered off the moment Brandon slashed them off! She grinned in delight before covering herself with a dark ominous aura that slowly reduced the sand into nothing but dust. A huge smile curved up her blood red lips and her icy blue eyes began to glow with more power. Her veins began to bulge within her flesh and the power began to surge.

“Now this,” Beatriz grinned as her icy blue eyes glowed bright with her pupils shrinking. “This is power!”

Suddenly, she heard the crowd gasp. A smirk curved up her lips when she saw the looks of terror on people’s faces. Much to her chagrin, they weren’t looking at her. Had she lost her touch? The mere sound of her name and even the sheer pressure of her magic could send a grown seasoned general pissing in his pants! She growled; why weren’t they looking at her?!

“The princess!”

“SHE JUMPED OFF!”

Beatriz’s aura immediately shrank. Her eyes quickly turned towards the balcony where the queen stayed and fair enough, saw a small shadow plummeting to her death. Beatriz gawked; what the fuck was she doing!? In a fit of desperation, a surge of mana burst through her legs. She could feel all the veins that once bulged at her arms now bulge at her newly healed legs. She winced at the sharp pain burning through her fibres.

“Fucking healing magic. Now it decides to rebound!” Beatriz muttered under her breath. She saw Samantha plummeting faster.”Damn it…!”

Suddenly, she crashed into something rather squishy. She bounced back and tumbled down on the ground only to see a bright purple bubble inflate right in front of her. At that same moment, Samantha also crashed down only to bounce happily on top of the bubble she inflated on the ground.

“Damn it, were you trying to go all superhero on me!?” Beatriz snapped. “You could’ve been killed from that fucking height! Even water turns solid at that height!”

Samantha shook it off. “No time to explain! We have to take out these creatures!”

“Yeah but after you give me ten damn good reasons why you’re leaping off ledges like a fucking superhero!”

“That’s because I am!”

“You’re not immortal, you idiot!”

“I don’t need to be immortal to survive!”

“You dumbass, you’re useless to us if you’re dead!”

Samantha groaned and then watched Brandon and Luke fend themselves against the creatures. “Councilman AJ wasn’t kidding though.”

Beatriz raised an eyebrow. “About?”

“Brandon and Luke being able to fend for themselves.”

Beatriz glanced towards the battlefield as she saw Luke leap right past the tentacles and slip through tiny spaces. Brandon on the other hand tangoed with the Pincer Drake. Much to her amazement, the Pincer Drake was already injured. It hobbled and hopped along, snapping its jaws at the pirate. She nodded slowly. All this time, she had half-expected pirates to swing and attack with berserker-like rage. But here was Brandon, barely breaking a sweat, and danced around the creature.

Samantha shook her head. “They’re amazing.”

“Yeah. But it’s not the big ones you have to worry about.” Beatriz scowled and brandished her scythe. “It’s the little Pocket Vultures.”

Samantha blinked. “Pocket Vultures?” She then gawked. “How many are there?!”

“Not sure,” Beatriz shook her head. “I only had one eat through my leg. But now,” her icy blue eyes began to glow blue. “I can get my armour on!”

The blood that coated her legs and arms soon began to glow bright. A smirk curved up her lips as the bloody trails on her pale flesh began to change into the shape of ancient characters as her pupils shrank behind the icy blue glow. Her scythe soon roared to life as the mana roiled inside her. She inhaled deeply with delight as her armour materialized on her body. Her spiked pauldron moulded itself around her shoulder as her breastplate clung onto her chest with her black leather faulds strapped around her waist. It was a feeling like no other. Beatriz smiled in satisfaction as she heard the growling gears of her scythe and felt her greaves cover her pale legs. Suddenly, she heard a small ting. She then looked down only to see a Pocket Vulture completely dazed and sheepish.

“Well, well, look what we have here,” Beatriz sneered.

The Pocket Vulture’s eyes widened as she ruthlessly stomped on it. Blood splattered onto the sand as she grinded its bones against the sand. As the blood splattered against her boots, more mana surged through her armour as she felt the power rushing through her.

“Well,” Beatriz turned to Samantha. “What now?”

The princess paused for a moment before turning to her. “Keep those creatures busy. Get Brandon and Luke to retreat.”

“Eh?”

Samantha dropped down on the ground and grabbed a stone, carving ancient characters into the ground. “Go!”

Beatriz nodded before lunging off. A large mana burst through her body as she zoomed towards the Kraken and the Pincer Drake. With a mighty howl, she swung down her scythe and cleaved through the creatures in a fit of a rage. Blood splattered onto the ground as the Kraken’s tentacle flew off. Its shriek set her blood ablaze with delight. She stared down the Kraken with a satanic grin and dark sneer.

“Oh you poor little blob,” she crooned. She raised her scythe with her gears growling. “Here, let me put you out of your misery.”

The Kraken snarled at her and snapped its beak at her until vines shot out and wrapped around its face. Beatriz gasped when briar thorns suddenly grew on the vines. Its agonized shriek tickled her ears as its bodily fluids splattered on the ground. Blood splattered on the ground with its mucous sizzling on its slimy skin from the heat. Her eyes widened when the vines constricted more and more until she heard a satisfying crunch and its gasping breath. The Kraken slowly fell to the ground with and revealed Luke standing behind it with vines shooting out from his long sleeves.

“You said you didn’t have vines!” Beatriz snapped.

He shrugged nonchalantly. “I lied.”

“You could have said something!”

“You were taking too long and giving it a sermon. The Kraken would have soon died from boredom.”

Beatriz growled and stormed past him. “When the fuck did you get snippy?”

“After carving out couple of barks and bulbs here and there,” he shrugged. “You tend to get cynical.”

Beatriz soon saw Brandon still fighting the Pincer Drake. “What about him?”

“Cap will do just fine. Give me a bit,” Luke nodded. He then put two fingers in his mouth before blowing out a sharp, shrieking sound.


The moment he heard the whistle, Brandon smirked. That meant Luke finished his side of the battle. He saw the Kraken lying on the ground, all tangled up in thorny vines. A frown marred his features; that meant Luke used his powers – again.

“For feth’s sake, the last goddamn time I told him not to use it was when we had to fight the Treeants.” He growled. Noticing a claw coming down on him, he leapt away as it crashed on the ground.

The Pincer Drake shrieked at him with a bloodthirsty cry. Brandon exhaled sharply. He didn’t have time for this! He wanted his ship back and here he was being made into a bloody circus animal! His hand tightened its grip on his gunblades before he sheathed them. He then changed his stance into a back stance, twisting his hips and keeping his hand near at least one gunblade. His lavender eyes narrowed and glared daggers at the Pincer Drake. He kept his breathing steady. His palm sweat within his gloves and his eyes refused to tear themselves away from the snarling creature. Despite already ripping off one of its legs, it still didn’t stop. He had to commend it though for its tenacity. Most creatures would flop over after all the damage he inflicted on it.

“Sorry, I’m gonna have to put you out of your misery.”

It seemed to have understood him for it let out a battle cry. It rushed towards him despite hobbling with its missing leg. Brandon however stood his ground. He closed his eyes and slowed his heartbeat. His heart slowed down and his sweat trickled down his jaw-line. He then took hold of both his gunblades before sprinting forward. He lunged forward with his swords suddenly shooting from his side. His blade vanished from his line of sight but he knew he had struck. The Pincer Drake shrieked as slashes, gashes, and all sorts of wounds covered its body. He zoomed right past the Pincer Drake with both his gunblades drawn out. And right behind him, the Pincer Drake suddenly collapsed down on the ground in minced pieces of flesh.

“Hn, and they thought that it could take me,” Brandon scoffed as he sheathed his gun blades. “Me? Brandon Hawthorne of the Dancing Blades?” He turned to its dismembered corpse and spat. “You fucking wished.”

“Well, whatever Sam’s grand plan is – it’s pretty much gone to waste.”

Brandon turned around when he saw Luke and Beatriz standing in front of him. “What the hell took you so long?”

Luke shrugged. “You try fighting a squid.”

Brandon shuddered with a hiss. “Ugh, ooze.”

“It’s just a stupid squid. There’s nothing about it that makes it similar to an ooze monster,” Beatriz raised an eyebrow. “What’s with you and oozes?”

“It’s disgusting! It’s… oozing.”

“How is it oozing!? It’s just a goddamn squid!”

Suddenly, the ground beneath them began to rumble. Beatriz and Luke staggered back as Brandon looked around only to see the Pocket Vultures swarming onto the corpses. His eyes widened when he saw the corpses being ripped apart with pieces of flesh being thrown aside from their mass devouring. He winced as blood splattered on the ground as a shudder ran down his spine. Oozes, he shook his head. And in two minutes, there was nothing left of both the Kraken and the Pincer Drake. But, the Pocket Vultures suddenly let out an angry screech before staring them down.

“Uh, what the hell are they doing?” Brandon turned to Luke. “What are they doing?”

“They’re probably going to merge into one huge creature and then attack us all in its size,” Luke shrugged nonchalantly.

“… I was being sarcastic about you telling me the truth.”

“How was I supposed to know!? I’m not a mind reader!”

The Pocket Vultures, much to Brandon’s chagrin, did exactly as Luke said. They had begun to merge together forming into a bigger Pocket Vulture that soon towered ten feet above them. It let out an angry shriek and brandished its claws at them with a bloodthirsty glint in its eyes. Brandon stepped back with his gunblade in hand before firing a bullet straight into its beak. The bullet knocked back the beak as the monstrous Pocket Vulture now let out a vicious howl.

“Run!” Brandon hollered.

The three knights bolted away from the rampaging Pocket Vulture as it let out a defiant screech. Brandon could hear the crowds gasping but some of the people cheering louder and louder. He shook his head; just how deprived were they of some good entertainment?

“You said Samantha had some grand spell?” Brandon turned to Beatriz.

The lady-in-waiting nodded. “Yeah but I haven’t seen what exactly her spell is.”

“Well,” Luke pointed in front of them. “We’re about to find out!”

Brandon looked forward to see Samantha closing her eyes and concentrating. The engravings on the sand began to glow bright on the ground. Samantha crouched down and the mana seemingly rushed into her palm as her dark eyes began to glow with a bright purple light.

Evigila camina de sororia ex Zemlyos

Brandon’s eyes widened. That language – he remembered reading about it once. It was the language of Those Before Them. But how could that be? It was a language that was known to be dead for the last few centuries! How could it still be existing? Unless she was taught by a High Mage, he thought. But she shook his head. Even the High Mages he knew didn’t know magic that far out in the past.

Evigila camina de sororia ex Zemlyos

Suddenly, the earth beneath him began to rumble when he saw the Pocket Vulture shudder in terror. The earth shuddered as it began to split beneath the large creature. The people gasped in terror as a ravine suddenly appeared at the centre of the arena, swallowing up the large Pocket Vulture. The creature screeched with dread as it tried to crawl its way out only for the earth slowly pushing against its arms to clip its wings. Brandon shook his head; this kind of magic only existed years ago! Why did it only make its appearance now?

He could only stare in admonishment as a sickening crack of bones and an anguished wail of agony filled his ears. He winced at how the earth devoured the Pocket Vulture as it soon dispelled into many smaller Pocket Vultures. However, not all were able to escape. Some were still devoured by the hungry earth while others managed to leap out.

“Oh no you don’t!” Beatriz growled as she lunged forward with her scythe swinging.”You aren’t going anywhere!”

The Pocket Vultures yelped as Beatriz’s scythe swiped their heads clean off. A smirk curved up Brandon’s lips. No way was he going to let Beatriz steal the show! He turned towards another group of Pocket Raptors rushing towards them. He quickly drew out both his gunblades, flipped off the safety switch, and let out a burst stream of bullets roaring from the Neptune Steel barrel. One by one, he watched their heads fly clean off their shoulders with their bodies falling on the ground. He took one glance back, noticing that Luke was guarding Samantha.

“Well, since you already did a showcase,” he shrugged. “You might as well use it, Luke.”

The smaller boy shook his head. “I’m actually pooped, Cap. I think I kinda overdid it by summoning trees out of nowhere.”

“Next time, stick to vines.”

“Roger that.”

“And secondly, no need to do some crazy superhero landing. You’re not a superman.”

“I’m a Dryad. Does that count?”

“No. Dryad’s are not superhuman.”

“We can make plants grow at a supernatural rate?”

“So what the hell am I supposed to call you? The Great Holy Salad!?”

Luke chuckled. “I was hoping for something with a little more spunk.”

Brandon rolled his eyes and shot down another Pocket Vulture that managed to escape. “Kinda hard when you’re a forest-based Dryad.”

“If you call me anything like The Cabbage, I am going to kick you.”

“Drop-kicking me will be the least bit of your problems if these Pocket Vultures turn us into minced meat.”

Luke nodded. He then turned to Samantha. “Have any other spells?”

Samantha nodded. “I’m trying to recall another one!”

Brandon scowled. How hard was it to think of a spell? He shrugged. Then again, he wasn’t too familiar with the rules of magic. All he knew was not to get hit and pray that he didn’t die. Another Pocket Vulture snapped in his face as he cleaved the creature in half. As blood splattered on his blade, a smirk curved up his lips as he twirled his gunblades and flicked the blood off his blade. He scoffed; Pocket Vultures? Kraken? Pincer Drake? He rolled his eyes. They sorely underestimate him!

He turned back to the princess. “So what do we do now?”

“I know! How about we leave?”

They all turned around to see Beatriz hobbling towards them and leaning on her scythe for support.

“I may have overdone it a bit,” she chuckled darkly. Blood trickled down her face from her forehead. “We’re gonna need to resupply.”

“Not just that. We’re gonna have to figure out where to go,” Luke added. He then turned to Brandon. “Any idea where to go, Cap?”

Brandon pursed his lips for a moment. Where could they possibly go without being hunted? He frowned for a moment. He, being a pirate, was already wanted in several places. Luke on the other hand was a walking jackpot. Beatriz could barely keep herself in check and Samantha was a walking target.

Before he could say anything, a sudden wave of energy hit him. His body shuddered. I

It couldn’t be. Dread filled him from head to toe when the crowd’s howling and cheering suddenly silenced. A dead air filled the arena as he heard footsteps walking from the shadows. It was the sound of the clicking of heels. And the thickened air that struck fear into any seasoned warrior filled his lungs.

“C-Cap,” Luke swallowed nervously. “Is that who I think it is?”

Brandon nodded stiffly. “I’m pretty sure it’s her.”

Samantha, with bewilderment clearly written all over her face, turned to Beatriz. “Why are we whispering?”

Beatriz bit her lower lip. “Because we’re about to face the strongest woman in all of Xychosia.”

“Can’t you take her?”

“Are you fucking bananas? She’ll turn me into minced meat even with my regenerative abilities!”

“But wait, who is she?”

Brandon shook his head. “She’s the one woman who can strike fear into anyone with the sound of her name. She’s one woman you best not have as your enemy. She bested one hundred soldiers even with their high-tech weapons. She is the perfect blend of both magic and swordsmanship.”

“When they said that “all men must die”, she’s excluded from the rule,” Luke shook his head. “Not only because she is no man. But simply because she is that good.”

Samantha swallowed nervously. “So, who is she?”

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