Book One: Knights' Festival

All Rights Reserved ©

I Can't Die

Samantha didn’t like the feeling of staying in the cavern.

The cold winds swept and tore through the cavern, brushing against her pale skin. She shivered and drew her mantle more closely over her body. Her dark eyes scanned the cavern only to see nothing. Where were those chilly winds coming from? Could it have come from the forest? She shook her head. They were far too deep into the caves to feel the winds from outside.

Another chill made her hairs stand. But it wasn’t because of the winds. The princess stared at her reflection at the golden walls where she could see Luke trying to figure out which pathway was the best to take. She shuddered; how could something supposedly so warm be so cold? She rubbed her hands together and took a deep breath, only to let out a small white smoke.

“I-I d-d-didn’t know i-it w-w-was t-th-that cold,” Samantha stammered and shivered from the cold. “C-Can w-w-w-we please f-f-f-find a p-place to stay?”

Brandon nodded. “I agree. It’s getting too cold here.” He turned to Luke. “You might wanna speed up the process, mate. We’re turning into icicles here.”

Luke nodded. “I’m trying but it’s kinda hard when this whole place is literally nothing but gold.”

Beatriz then suddenly shoved past Luke and sniffed the air for a few moments. She snorted and scoffed for a moment, sticking her tongue out. Samantha stared at her lady-in-waiting; what in the world was Beatriz doing? Beatriz also then stuck her finger out in the air after licking the tip, feeling the winds.

“Okay,” Beatriz beamed. She pointed down the left fork. “It’s that way.”

Samantha’s eyes widened. “How did you know that?”

“Duh, if all else fails - follow the scent that least smells like Death.”

“Are you serious?”

“It makes sense,” Luke suddenly said. “It simply means it’s less prone to being attacked.”

Brandon rubbed his arms vigorously, exhaling a small stream of white smoke. “We better get hiding then. I feel like I’m quaking all the way to my boots.”

The princess bit her lower lip at the sight of the shivering pirate captain. She too was feeling cold so, what could she do? Suddenly, an idea hit her as she closed her eyes and concentrated on the mana roiling in her stomach. She could feel it swirling and slowly travelling to her palms, focusing on a small spark. Her palms slowly heated up when a purple flame suddenly swirled in her palm. Samantha’s expression brightened as she walked closer to Brandon with the purple flame in front of him.

“Whoa, what are you trying to –,” Brandon panicked. He staggered back.

Samantha gently dropped her hand on his wrist, keeping a firm grip. “Shhh, it’s okay.” The princess smiled. “It won’t burn.”

The moment she got close enough, Samantha could feel the heat emanating from the purple flame. Brandon’s eyes widened as his struggling slowly relaxed in her grip. The princess beamed in delight as the flame flickered and danced in her palm. She looked into his lavender eyes as his anxious expression seemingly washed away. His ragged breathing relaxed and his chest slowly began to rise before falling gently with the warmth enveloping them both.

“Wow, you’re… you’re getting good at this,” Brandon gasped in amazement. A warm smile curved up his lips. “Not too bad, princess.”

Samantha giggled. “That’s a first. You always just called me lass.”

“Well, by definition - you are a lass.”

“Yeah but the way you call me lass is normally mocking. You actually said it nicely this time.”

Brandon chuckled and shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, what can I say? Your antics are rubbing off on me.”

Samantha giggled. She then looked straight into his lavender eyes, noticing a warm look from the pirate. It was something she had barely got a chance to look at. The last time she saw that kind of look from him was when he saved her from falling into the ravine. She remembered every detail from that fall. How the abyss threatened to swallow her arm, the debris and boulders being mere inches away from gashing her flesh but most of all - she remembered how Brandon’s lavender gaze reassured her that she wasn’t going to fall.

I’ll catch you. Trust me.

Those words rang hard in her ears. And every time she remembered it, her heart would sink in relief and she remembered how her body just acted by itself. She remembered the burning adrenaline that fired up her legs and sent her running towards the ledge before she made the jump. Although she had never expected Brandon to do such a thing for her, she always thought Beatriz would. But Beatriz never said something like that even when she was supposedly her most trusted lady-in-waiting. She would often just brush it off and be nonchalant about things. But Brandon actually risked his life for her. A small smile appeared on her lips when she saw his relaxed expression as his eyes watched the fire. Her heart nearly skipped a beat when the flames seemingly gave his hair a dark blue tint from the glowing embers.

Suddenly, a small pebble hit her in the back of her head. “Ow,” she yelped. Samantha turned around only to see Beatriz scowling. “Hey!”

Beatriz scoffed. “If you two guys were about to go screw each other, you should have gone into the cave first.”

Samantha’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “Bea!”

Brandon rolled his eyes, smirking. “If you wanted to have a shot, I would have stepped aside.”

Beatriz snarled with her icy blue eyes narrowing at him. “Pshe, I have standards.”

“What? The princess isn’t good enough for you?”

“Go screw yourself!”

“The fact that you’re not answering my question proves you don’t have any legitimate argument, do you?”

It was Beatriz’s turn to flush red. But not just with embarrassment but also with rage. “Ugh!” She spat venomously and stomped off. “Go screw yourselves in a ditch!”

As the lady-in-waiting stormed off, Samantha shook her head at the pirate. “You’re the only one I know who has won without losing their cool with her.”

Brandon shrugged. “I’ve dealt with worse, princess. To be honest,” he scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. “I’m surprised I haven’t kicked the little brat to the curb yet.”

Samantha gawked, clearly appalled. “Brandon!”

“What? You know it’s true.”

“Bea’s not that mean. She’s just…”

“A three year old inside a hooker’s body?”

“For Deus’ sake, Brandon - stop!”

Brandon chuckled and raised his arms in defeat. “Alright, alright, I know when I’m beat.”

Samantha sighed and playfully slapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t be such a bully.”

“But if she’s the one who throws the first stone, isn’t she the one supposed to be considered a bully?”

“Does it really matter?”

Brandon let out a disgruntled snort. “It does when the case isn’t just pelting a stone to someone’s head.” He was about to rub his hands together only to see that his wrist was still in Samantha’s grip. “Uh, princess...”

Samantha looked up at him. “Hm?”

“I need me hand back, if you don’t mind.” Brandon reminded her. “Can’t fight without it.”

“But your hand is still attached to your arm.”

“Yeah but my wrist is currently bound by your hand.”

Samantha, puzzled, looked down only to see that Brandon’s hand was still in her grip. “Oh!” She laughed sheepishly. “Sorry.”

Brandon snickered and shrugged. “No problem.”

The sound of Brandon’s laughter lifted her spirits. Samantha let out a soft giggle with a small smile. She hadn’t seen Brandon smile the way he did. Most of his expressions involved him smirking or being prideful of his swordsmanship. How could he not be proud of his swordsmanship? She remembered the day he had crossed swords with General Melissa and held his own. Even fighting the Hydra, she found him to be more of a tactician. He was the first to figure out how to disable the Hydra. If she had to compare both Beatriz and he, the lady-in-waiting was just a maddened bull while Brandon was like a strike of lightning. Focused and calculated.

Samantha beamed. She didn’t regret enlisting his help. Luke and he had proven to be valuable assets; the dryad proved to be the brains of the operation of the time while Brandon was the striker. The princess sighed as Brandon began making his way to the caverns. His coat billowed behind him. His strides were long and strong. No wonder Luke didn’t question following the captain into battle.

“He’s so brave,” Samantha swooned.

“Hey!”

The princess looked up to see Brandon standing at the entrance of the left cavern.

“You gonna keep standing there or what?” He hollered before chuckling at her. “Unless you wanna take first watch.”

Samantha, shaking herself out of her daze, nodded ran after the pirate. “Oh, I’m coming!”


AK strode through the clean streets of Militaris. Despite the bustling of people through the sidewalks, cars rolled along and carried their passengers to the other parts of the city. He let out a disgruntled snort as he heard the obnoxious laughter of some people in the café. His eyes narrowed as he twitched from their boisterous laughter. Didn’t people have any respect for people on the streets?

“It’s a conspiracy!” He heard some howl.

People turned around as a man began running through the streets. AK raised an eyebrow as his hand slowly moved to his pistol. His fingers drummed against the leather holster of his hand gun. What was this about now? He frowned; this was the fifth time this week he heard some man run through the streets and scream to the top of his lungs. First, it was about some shootings in some night club. The next thing he knew, it was about some rave concert gone wrong and how the government had distributed some drugs. The last thing he heard was something about the military abusing their power and killing innocents. Let’s see what this idiot has to say, AK scowled.

“The war for Sofiene is being fuelled by the government!” He wailed. The man grabbed a woman by her shoulders, screaming savagely at her. “They’ll take your husbands and your sons! They’ll turn them into soldiers!”

AK rolled his eyes. Great, another raving lunatic.

“You all have become dogs of the military!” He continued bawling. “But I won’t stand for that anymore!” He stripped off his clothes and screamed. “I will not be silenced! And if I’m so wrong, where is that due process that was promised to us?!”

Seeing that it was flying out of hand, AK stepped in. “Sir, you might want to – !”

“Shut up! Just shut up over there!” The man roared before seething and spitting in AK’s face venomously. “You know nothing, traitor!”

“Sir, I didn’t say –”

“— Fuck you! Fuck you and your extrajudicial killings!” He suddenly put his hand in his pocket. “FUCK Y – !”

AK narrowed his eyes. This wasn’t getting anywhere! His eyes widened when the man suddenly prepared to draw something out. What could it be? The soldier’s gut instinct kicked in. He quickly shifted stance and snapped his grip onto his pistol. In one fell swoop, he switched off the safety switch and pointed his Glock 45 at the man’s hand until a thunderous clap echoed through the air. People gasped as the man’s raving met a dead silence. AK looked on front of him when he saw the man choking and hacking with his mouth wide open. A small red circle formed right beneath his chin when he slowly fell forward. He fell down with a loud thump as blood pooled beneath the body. AK’s eyes widened as he glanced at pistol; he hadn’t fired a shot!

“At ease, soldier.” He heard someone say.

AK looked up when he saw a familiar face, causing him to salute. “Captain Bryan!”

While he normally knew Bryan to constantly have a cheery expression, the young man’s eyes narrowed with all seriousness. AK always knew Bryan Nelson as a man of action and an optimist at that. But it didn’t mean that Bryan didn’t know when to take a life. The young man had quickly accelerated through the ranks as a prodigy. He had set all the academy records from shooting, reloading, dismantling a gun and reassembling it and vice-versa – down to disarming a tank. He was someone AK constantly admired. It made him even more giddy when he was assigned to Bryan’s platoon.

Bryan then put down his gun and walked over to him, nodding. “At ease, soldier. No need to stiffen up.”

AK nodded and dropped his salute. “Sir, yes, sir. Permission to speak, sir?”

“I said, at ease, you dumbass. No need to be formal or I’ll kick your damn non-existent balls all the way to the Commander’s office.”

“Sorry. Force of habit.”

“Understandable. You did grow up with the Commander as his son.”

AK nodded before looking at the body. “Bryan, about the man – .”

“Yeah, just another drugged raving lunatic,” Bryan scoffed and shook his head. “I was planning to just pistol-whip the bastard into oblivion. But,” he shrugged with a snicker. “What kind of platoon leader and friend would I be if I let one of my men get shot?”

AK nodded. “True.”

“You seem not the least bit disturbed.”

“I don’t know. I feel rather terrified.”

“Terrified?”

AK nodded. He looked at the corpse on the floor. Much to his surprise, he felt no remorse or no pity. It was rather weird; most people would be terrified that an innocent man had been shot. He looked around only to see the people slowly disperse with their murmurs.

“Ah well, just another one of those stupid drug addicts.”

“Good thing the Commander declared a war on those bastards.”

“Not just addicts but those drug pushers and drug lords themselves.”

Just another one of those stupid drug addicts.

AK couldn’t believe what he was hearing. How could they be so apathetic? It was clear that the man was raving mad about something. But that didn’t merit a bullet into his throat. The soldier took a closer look at the body and slightly lifted his face with his foot. He looked straight into the dead man’s eyes and shuddered. He snapped out of his shock and tried to regain his composure back.

Why… what are these feelings?

AK had been on field and had remembered killing multitudes of people. Many of them were considered to be drug lords and drug pushers. Yet, sometimes - AK found himself hesitant to pull the trigger. He then glanced at the other citizens who just brushed it aside. How could they brush it aside? He then looked at the body once more as his feelings slowly settled and died inside him. Just like every time he killed someone considered a drug pusher or a drug lord.

“AK?”

The soldier snapped out of his daze. “Yeah?’

“You said something terrified you?”

AK nodded slowly, exhaling sharply. “I’d,” he looked around to see more people. “I’d rather not discuss it here.”

Bryan glanced around and then nodded. “Ah, to the Mess Hall then?”

AK smiled. If there was one thing he liked about Bryan, it was that he was empathetic to the needs and the welfare of his soldiers. He had been shifted through more than five platoons already from his rebellious streak and “unnaturally soft heart”. If Bryan could avoid killing, he would.

“Yes, that would be great.”


Samantha gasped in amazement when she followed Brandon through the tunnel. Lined all over the walls of the cavern were gold ores that seemed to twinkle like golden stars. Her dark eyes widened in amazement as her purple fire’s light was dwarfed before the beauty of the golden lights.

“It’s so gorgeous.” Samantha gasped, looking around. “H-how could this be?”

Brandon nodded. “Over the years that this cavern has existed, it has accumulated gold ores. And since it was never touched, my guess is - it just had the ability to glow by bouncing the lights between the walls and it.”

The princess nodded. “I… I can feel the mana here.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, it’s like this place - it’s… alive.”

Brandon turned to her and raised an eyebrow, crossing his arms. “A cavern can’t be alive.”

Samantha shook her head. “I… I don’t know. But I can hear it. Whisperings, whisperings among the trembling ores and the winds flowing in here from the forest - it’s kind of weird.”

“You never said that before about the sand beneath your feet in the arena.”

“I… I don’t know I think these whisperings, I could always hear them. Yet, it’s only now that I paid attention.”

“Why’s that?”

At this, Samantha shrugged. She never did understand why it was only now. The princess felt she could have heard them before. When she would walk through the gardens of Xychosia and Sofiene, she remembered the sounds of the wind and the music it makes as it brushed the flowers. It was a faint sound but still it was there. But the moment she had absorbed the powers of Azaleth, the whispers had become louder. She scanned the cavern all around her as the whispers tickled her ears and her mind. It was something new for her.

“So this is how it feels for Luke,” Samantha murmured. She walked around and sighed. “At least I now know how his power works.”

The princess never knew it would be that amazing to hear the voices of nature around her. She always thought it would cause her to panic and have anxiety attacks. But much to her surprise, it was the complete opposite. Her heart slowed down and beat gently even with the winds causing goosebumps to rise at the surface of her skin. Samantha continued walking forward until she met the end of the tunnel. Her heart dropped and her mouth gawked open at the sight.

“Wow,” was all she could say.

Before her, she saw that Beatriz had discovered a cavern pocket. The walls were lined with gold with even the plants. She glanced towards a tree that managed to grow in the middle with shining golden apples dangling from its branches. Her mouth watered and her stomach rumbled. She had never seen apples so shiny! She then looked down at the ground where she saw the clear waters of the cavern’s oasis. Because it was so clear, the water gleamed with a transparent gold glow and let the ores illuminate its waters from below.

“This place is gorgeous!” Samantha gawked.

Brandon nodded. “If we sacked this place, you could have gone home a queen and have your own empire. Forget Sofiene.”

“Yeah but, I can’t do that.”

“I know, I know - your duty to the people still exists.”

Luke sighed deeply and sat down. “Wow, this actually feels relaxing.”

Beatriz nodded. “Yeah.” She then spotted an apple and tugged it off the tree. “And this looks good too!”

The dryad yelped when he saw the golden apple in Beatriz’s hand. “Bea, wait don’t – !”

Paying no heed to the dryad’s calls, Beatriz took a large bite out of the golden apple. Samantha gawked in surprise as Beatriz just ate the apple without her teeth breaking. How could she bite into the apple? Everything here had turned solid gold! Or so she thought. She took a closer look only to see that only the outer layer was covered in gold and the apple itself still had its sweet, juicy and fibrous meat inside.

“Damn, this is delicious!” Beatriz beamed. She handed it to Samantha. “Try it!”

Samantha shook her head. “I don’t know…” Then all of a sudden, her stomach rumbled when she saw the apple. Her mouth began to drool with saliva as she looked more into the apple. “Oh, give me that!”

The princess snatched the apple from Beatriz and took a bite out of it as well. She swooned in delight as the juicy flavour exploded in her mouth. The sweetness rolled around every corner of her mouth and delighted her tongue with its slight kick. She nearly melted from the flavour and held onto the apple, taking out another greedy bite from it.

“H-hey, leave some for me!” Beatriz snapped. “I want some of that stuff too! Go get your own!”

Brandon rolled his eyes and walked towards them, plucking the apple out of their hands. “Now, now, no need to fight over an apple. Although,” he stared at it for a moment. “It does look incredibly delicious.”

Luke chuckled with a nod. “I guess we know where we’re settling then.”

“Yeah, venturing on might create more problems for us.”

“I’ll go get some wood to burn. Well, if there is any.”

“I don’t think you need any,” Brandon shook his head. He turned to Samantha. “Think you can make a campfire?”

Samantha looked at her palms for a moment and then shrugged. “I think I can.”

“Well, better get on it.” Brandon took a bite out of the apple before pocketing it. “We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow and the fire’s gonna be the only reason why we don’t get eaten.”

The princess nodded before focusing on creating a fire, turning to Beatriz. “Bea, can you help me make a small vaccum? The cold winds might put out the fire.”

Beatriz nodded before inhaling deep and closing her eyes. Soon, the cold winds swirled away from them and formed a small wind dome. Samantha then, being left in the eye of the swirling winds, focused on creating a fire before making a purple flame suddenly flame burst in her palm. However, she frowned a bit in disappointment. The fire was too small!

“You might want to give the flame more juice,” Luke suggested. “It usually works that way with plants.”

Samantha nodded and focused more mana into the fire. She closed her eyes and kept her breathing steady as the flames began to swirl. The moment she closed her eyes however, the fires of Sofiene and Azaleth flashed in her mind. The night sky filled with smog dimmed the stars and cast a dark foreboding shadow on the screaming citizens. She gasped when suddenly, she felt an intense heat and loud yelling.

“Sam! We’re not trying to barbecue ourselves here!”

Samantha snapped out of her daze when she saw the purple flame that was once a tiny pilot light now become a large, roaring inferno. Her eyes widened with terror as she immediately began to retract the amount of mana she juiced into the flame before the fire she cast shrunk to a considerable size, now just a medium sized flickering fire. Perfect for a campfire.

“I’m sorry about that,” Samantha shook her head as she sat down on the floor. “I… I didn’t expect that…”

Luke raised an eyebrow. “Expect what?”

“That I would see the destruction of two great cities…”

“You mean Azaleth and…?”

“And Sofiene, Luke. I was there when the civil war happened. I was there when my brothers decided to burn everything to the ground.”

Beatriz scoffed and leaned against the wall. “I’m surprised they just burned down certain places. They didn’t even use any magic.”

Samantha shook her head. “My brothers weren’t really talented in magic. Santino was good with a sword but Matteo was good with his brains.”

Brandon chuckled. “So one who uses force and the other one actually thinks.”

“Yeah but they’re both not stupid.” Samantha shook her head and clasped her hands together, resting her arms on her knees. “They probably know I’ve departed by now.”

Beatriz scoffed. “So what?” A devilish smirk curved up her lips. “We’ll just cut up anybody who tries to hurt you. Just like we always do.”

“Bea, what if the enemy is stronger than you?”

“Fuck that, even if he were - I’d win in a long game!”

“She’s right,” Luke suddenly said.

Samantha turned to Luke, raising an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“With Bea’s unlimited amount of mana, she’s already unbeatable. But there’s something else.” Luke’s mismatched eyes centred on the dark blonde’s petite form. “Bea, you can’t die… can you?”

Samanth gawked; Beatriz couldn’t die? She turned to her lady-in-waiting who kept a cold expression on her face. Now that she thought about it, Beatriz had always sustained mortal injuries in battle. Her last battle in Azaleth had all her limbs sliced off yet she managed to get up again and take her power back. She remembered also the time in the arena on how the Pocket Vultures ate through her leg yet her bone managed to reconstruct itself with a little help of removing the Lumina shackles. With that wound, Beatriz would have been rendered limp - permanently!

“Wait, what?” Samantha shook her head. She turned to Luke with a stare of disbelief. “You can’t be serious,” she then turned to Beatriz. “Can you?”

Beatriz remained silent for a moment, chuckling. “Well, looks like the little beansprout figured out my secret.”

Brandon smirked. “Called it.”

“Yeah, you were the first to notice.” Beatriz snickered. “How’d you find that out?”

“It was that time in The Coven. You probably didn’t notice but you had two gashes dragged into your breast and bullet holes in your stomach. Most people would die but you kept going.”

“It could’ve been adrenaline.”

“Yeah, tell that to the wounds that spat out the bullets and had your wounds sew up together in a matter of minutes.”

Beatriz smirked and shook her head. “Yeah, it’s true. I can’t die. Not because of that special, emotional, bullshit, it’s because I literally cannot die.”

Samantha gasped. “But why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because if I did, you would have gotten funnier ideas like having me jump of a cliff.”

“I wouldn’t have commanded that!”

“No, but your bitch, mean girl, princess friend would have.”

Luke and Brandon exchanged glances and raised an eyebrow at Samantha. “Your bitch, mean girl, princess friend?”

Samantha sighed with a sheepish laughter. “The princess of Karthakos.”

“Oh her? Yeap, never liked her either.” Brandon scowled and folded his arms, leaning against the cavern walls. “Crazy noble decided that I was best chew toy for her favourite knight.”

Beatriz hooted with laughter, slapping her knee. “Lemme guess, she threw you against Ser Ace?”

“Throw’s an understatement. More like she had mean bound on a cross and had Ser Ace use me as a practice dummy.”

Luke chuckled. “That explains most of your scars.”

Samantha gawked; she didn’t know that Princess Phylline had that kind of sadistic humour! She turned to Brandon. “How did that happen!? And what scars?!”

At her outburst, Brandon sighed and slowly stood up. He unsheathed his coat and unbuckled his breastplate. He then unbuttoned his shirt and flung it on the ground. Samantha stared in horror as she saw all his wounds more clearly. Some of the gashes on his body had already turned into keloids. Others had healed properly and sank back into his skin although it still had some mild discolouration on it.

“B-but, how?” Samantha gasped. She shook her head. “You’re an amazing swordsman!”

“Thanks for the praise, princess. But she decided to try and screw me.”

“What!?”

“Kid’s got some commitment issues that I don’t get,” Brandon shook his head. “She tried to screw me when it was clear that Ser Ace was her lover.”

“And so?”

“I rejected her and then she went wailing to her lover that I tried to rape her.”

Beatriz snickered. “And that’s how you became a human chopping board.”

“Yeap, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to slice my dick off the next time I see him.” Brandon shrugged before bending down to pick up his shirt, suiting back up and turning to Beatriz. “But, wait - you never did explain. Why can’t you die?”

Beatriz shrugged. “When you use Dark Magic too long and reap too many souls, you tend to absorb their life force as your own. And every time you do, you mutilate your soul every time. With every murder, you rip your soul apart.”

Luke nodded. “Because it’s against human nature to kill and murder.”

“Exactly but,” she grinned wistfully. “I still did it anyway.”

“Did you actually enjoy killing?”

“I didn’t for awhile. But the moment I felt the adrenaline that fuelled me up to fight, it was glorious.”

Samantha shook her head. No wonder her father wanted Beatriz executed! Beatriz had been killing people left and right. It was only then she understood why Beatriz was so apathetic when she killed people. When she kept chopping them, grinding them into pieces, letting out a howling maniacal breathy laughter, it was then she imagined Beatriz as a heartless killer. A chill ran down her spine at the thought as she remembered the cold, vindictive icy blue gaze she saw the first time before Beatriz was about to be hung by Lumina threaded chains.

“D-Do I even want to know how many people you’ve killed?” Samantha’s lips quivered.

Beatriz snickered. “You’re best not knowing.” She sighed and looked into the purple fire. “For the last 400 years, I’ve seen people come and go. People die everyday for whatever reason they can come up with. It’s not just whether or not the reason is good or bad but, if the reason is really worth dying for.”

Samantha nodded and sighed. “That’s true.”

Luke remained silent for a moment. “You know, I always wondered what it would be like for Dryads to die.”

Brandon rolled his eyes. “You’re still too young for that.”

“But in a world like this, kids die as young as four years old. Even babies are slaughtered before they are born.”

“Still, you got me to keep you alive.”

“I know.” Luke nodded. “I’m not questioning your ability to keep me alive, Cap. It’s just they say that when people die, the loved ones are left to mourn for them. But, I’m a Dryad and I don’t know anybody.” He hugged his legs with a sad sigh. “I haven’t even met a stranger like me.”

Samantha sighed and sat next to Luke, smiling. “Don’t worry, when you get the War Hammer back, I’ll help you find your homeland. Sofiene has loads of geographic materials. It shouldn’t be too hard.”

Luke chuckled. “Yeah, it wouldn’t be.”

Seeing that his First Mate cheered up a little, Brandon let out a yawn. “Anyway, travelling’s exhausted me to the bone. I’m gonna go light’s out, mates.”

Beatriz nodded and stretched her arms before turning over to sleep on the ground. “Same here.”

The princess saw two of her knights go to bed as she sighed. Everyday, she learned something new. Brandon’s scars were not because of constant combat but because someone framed him. Beatriz’s apathy and sadism and masochism – the kind of personality that loved pain and inflicting it on others – finally revealed a small crack in her fragile persona. And for Luke, his wanting to belong became his drive to keep going. What about me? She asked. The Knights’ Festival seemed plausible but not as an end goal.

“Hey Luke,” Samantha asked.

Luke replied. “Yeah?”

“From the books you read, were Dryads wild by nature?”

Luke nodded. “To humans, Dryads were considered savages. But you can say that we can be, for lack of better term, tamed.”

“Tamed? Like animals?”

“Animals are not the only things to be tamed. Even humans too.”

“But to tame something is to domesticate something. How can be humans be tamed?”

“To be tamed is to be shown trust by another person and you choose to entrust your life to that person. The person you entrusted yourself to will then forever be responsible for you, for it is you they have tamed. The same works vice-versa that because I was tamed by my captain, I too am responsible for him.”

Samantha slowly nodded, taking in whatever Luke said. “So, it works that way with Bea too?”

“Yeah, a clear-cut example. If you didn’t tame her, don’t you think she would still be on her killing spree by now?”

“True.”

“But because you’ve tamed her, you are responsible for her. In which also, she is responsible for you because she chose to trust you.”

The princess nodded and gently nudged Luke’s shoulder with a soft laughter. “You’re so smart for someone so young.”

Luke shrugged. “Some people call my thoughts naivety and idealism. But a little idealism can go a long way especially when you have a dream so big that to many, it can become daunting to those who hear about it.”

Samantha nodded. Luke’s idealism and optimism – a thing she had constantly admired from the young dryad from the day she met him – was something that had brought them so far. Despite him being young and still learning, he was undaunted by the challenges. She watched his mismatched gold and pink eyes stare at the purple fire, looking intently at its flickering pattern. She smiled at the sight until her head began to feel rather light.

“Anyway, I’ll go to bed,” Samantha smiled. She gently patted his head. “Don’t stay up too long, okay?”

Luke chuckled and gently stoked the fire with a hint of his own magic. “Don’t worry about me, princess. Cap can relieve me for the next watch.”

Samantha, smiling at Luke for the last time, plucked off her mantle and folded it into a makeshift pillow before falling into a deep sleep.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.