Book One: Knights' Festival

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Lady Machinos

“Tch,” Brandon growled as his gunblades clashed with the dragon warrior’s. “She’s fast!”

He hadn’t expected the woman to match both him and Daniel. Even with the agent firing rounds of bullets, her blade shot out fast enough to either slice it half or deflect it. She spun around and gave him a roundhouse kick into his stomach. Brandon gasped and staggered back, digging his heels into the ground. The pirate winced and lunged again with his swords swinging at the dragon warrior. However, his attacks flew back at him without even laying a single scratch on the woman.

Her attack’s similar to my quick draw skill, Brandon observed every detail of her movement. He watched the young woman dance with her blades singing and slashing in the air. He took note at how her feet seemed to glide and dance across the floor with her silent footsteps not even making a single vibration. Brandon shook his head and couldn’t believe there was someone who had footsteps that light.

The only way I’m probably going to get her is if I snap that weapon in half, Brandon frowned. He heard more gunshots as the mysterious masked woman leapt up into the air, dodging the array of bullets.

“Get back here!” Daniel shouted as he flipped a switch.

Brandon gawked when a sudden stream of bullets screamed out of the barrel. When did Daniel have a gun like that? The bullets drove holes into the metal walls as the vigilante jumped and kicked off the wall. She launched herself towards Daniel with her sword spinning to deflect the shots. Brandon clucked his tongue and filled his legs with adrenaline, rushing towards the vigilante with his swords swinging.

“This is taking too long!” Brandon muttered under his breath. “Sam could be in danger for all I know!”

Suddenly, he felt an ominous aura swirl behind him. The moment he turned his back, Brandon caught a glimpse of a dark blue blur burst past him. An electrifying shriek rang in his ears along with the sound of grinding gears and the buzzing of angry saws. Beatriz roared and swung her scythe down at the vigilante. The mysterious woman flicked her wrist and her blades shattered into pieces. Beatriz’s eyes widened as the chained fragments darted towards her like a snake.

“What the,” Beatriz hissed and avoided the blade as it flew towards her.

The vigilante refused to let up. She twisted her body and pulled the chain back, feinting and kicking Beatriz in face. Coughing, the lady-in-waiting yelped and staggered back before falling onto the ground. Brandon bolted forward and caught Beatriz to get her to recover her stance.

“Damn, whoever this is – she’s good!” Beatriz grumbled. She turned to Brandon. “Any of your pirate friends?”

Brandon shook his head. “On the contrary, she’s the one who pirates fear.

“What?”

“Luke told me about her before. Golden Lion City was so terrified of this woman with a dragon who terrorized and ripped through their boats. What she did with the goods, nobody knows.”

“Probably sold it for cash.”

“Possible.”

“Guys!” Brandon and Beatriz heard a wail. “Help!”

Brandon and Beatriz turned around to see Daniel getting kicked in the shoulder. The two knights had no time to recover as the agent crashed on top of them. The three knights rolled and tumbled onto the roads before lying down in a crumpled heap. Brandon groaned in pain and looked up to see the vigilante checking them for one moment before turning away. She retracted the blades and compressed it into a shorter stick before sliding it into her holster on her right leg. With her cloak billowing behind her, the vigilante strolled past the fallen soldiers without paying them any mind. Brandon’s eyes widened when he saw a young woman getting up on her feet.

“I can’t let you pass.” The young woman declared, defiant. She drew out her twin swords. “I will fight you to the death. On my honour and pride as a Machinos Gear!”

The vigilante stood still before snapping her fingers. The next thing Brandon knew, the vigilante’s dragon walked up to the young woman and swept her off her feet using its tail. The woman crashed on the ground while the dragon had a throaty chuckle directed towards her.

“Ow,” the woman groaned. “Hey!”

The vigilante ignored her and walked past her. The dragon had a mischievous grin before bounding after its master. Brandon raised an eyebrow. What was the vigilante after? Why terrorize the city? He then looked behind him when he saw some citizens of the Machinos people covered in blood. None of them had sword wounds. All of them seemed to have been gunned down, decorated with bullet holes. Was it revenge? He asked himself. But it didn’t seem to add up. She would have been more brutal; and many of the soldiers wouldn’t have been groaning like he had heard.

“What the hell is she looking for?” Beatriz grumbled and dusted herself. “Would it hurt to ask directions!?”

“It’s not that she needed direction,” Daniel said and helped Brandon up. “It’s more that she knew where she was going.”

Brandon frowned. “The next question is – where?”

“She’s heading for the citadel.” They heard someone groan.

Brandon, Beatriz, and Daniel turned to the woman who had been swept off her feet by the dragon. The three knights rushed over to her and helped her up. Brandon and Daniel retrieved her weapons while Beatriz dusted her coat and clothes while removing the dirt that matted her hair into knots.

“You alright?” Brandon asked. He examined the woman head to toe, noticing her scarred flesh. “It looks like she did a number on you too.”

The woman shook her head. “No, she wasn’t the one.” She wiped some of the dust and dirt off her cheeks and onto her sleeve. “Before you got here, there was a riot. A riot of magic users demanding for a change in ruling.”

Brandon raised an eyebrow. “A riot?”

“For three months, there has been civil unrest in the city of Machinos. It was a war between magic users and non-magic users. Humans and magi have been at war with each other for years now here in Machinos.”

“That’s been going on for years. But why did the civil unrest only occur three months ago?”

Sighing deeply, she ran her fingers through her hair. “There was a royal decree that was recently announced.”

“Under whose name?”

“It was just written there under the Machinos Empire. But, I have a good feeling who.”

Beatriz bristled. “If it’s that stupid Reuben, I’m gonna whip him and make my scythe eat him when I’m done!”

The young woman nodded. “It’s possible. After all, if there was anything he inherited from his father, it was delight in flaying people, killing people, and fucking them senseless.” She turned to Brandon. “By the way, I am General Kaelyn Azul. You are…?”

“Brandon Hawthorne.” Brandon replied and then turned towards the citadel. “But that doesn’t explain why the vigilante was also heading for the citadel.”

“When the declaration was made, it wasn’t just within the capital.” Kaelyn explained. “But it extended all the way to the other cities and villages within the Machinos Empire.”

“So you’re saying…?”

“It’s possible that the vigilante wants to stage a revolt. In fact, this is not the first time I’ve seen her. She only shows up when something has gone terribly wrong especially, when it concerns the dragons.”

Brandon pondered for a moment. What could she possibly want with the Machinos Empire? He drummed his fingers against his chin in deep thought. The pirate’s lavender eyes darted around towards the buildings and the citizens that were walking around. Nothing out of the ordinary here, Brandon frowned. Other than the destroyed streetlamps and buildings, there was nothing he could find that was related to dragons.

That is, until he spotted several trucks convoying straight towards the citadel.

Brandon narrowed his eyes and pointed at the trucks. “Say, where are those trucks headed?”

Daniel glanced at the trucks and shrugged. “I don’t know but they have the royal insignia on their sides.”

“I’m curious. Let’s follow.”

“What about Sam?”

Beatriz dismissed it with a wave of her hand. “She’ll be fine. With her magic, she should be able to fend off anything and anybody.”

Brandon frowned a bit before taking one glance at the truck and then at the citadel before him. Chasing after the trucks piqued his curiosity and it may have answers in regards to why the vigilante was attacking. But his stomach knotted itself together. There’s something wrong, Brandon thought to himself. His heart suddenly skipped a beat and sank to his stomach. Dread filled him as a stone formed in his stomach. There was definitely something wrong!

“Bea, you come with me.” Brandon suddenly said. “Dan, tail that truck. Two people are too many for a reconnaissance attempt.”

Beatriz blinked and raised an eyebrow. “Huh?”

“Don’t you feel it? There’s something wrong.”

“What?”

“I don’t know but I don’t like the feeling I’m getting.”

General Kaelyn offered. “I’ll scout around with Daniel. My curiosity’s getting the best of me to know what’s in those trucks. This is not the first time they’ve shown up at the citadel.”

“No, general. I think it’s best you come with us. We don’t know our way around the castle.” Brandon protested. He turned to Daniel. “It can’t be that hard tailing a truck right?”

Daniel smirked. “I can cast a few nets.”

“Good, now make yourself useful.”

“Yeah, don’t worry, pirate. I’ll be fine.”

Watching Daniel dart off, Brandon focused on the next objective at hand. It was the first time this kind of dread filled him. Where did this come from? He asked himself. Suddenly, the winds around them began to howl and he could hear a loud pounding from below. It thundered against his skull and the earth seemed to screech and cry to him.

HELP ME! SOMEONE! BRANDON! BEA! DAN!

The screams grew louder and thrashed through his skull, threatening to tear his mind apart. But it wasn’t cries for vengeance or cries from the past. It was screaming from the present. And the moment he looked towards the citadels, the screams turned into begging, pleading, and howls for mercy. His blood ran cold. It was then that he recognized the voice.

“Sam!” Brandon bolted towards the citadel.

Beatriz gawked and dashed after Brandon. “Wait, what the hell are you talking about!?”

Brandon scolded himself. How could he have forgotten? When Samantha knighted him, he felt her mana flow into him. And in doing so, they were linked in whatever explanation Magic had to offer. How could I have been so stupid? He let out a dark growl and pushed his body to move faster. Even with the sharp pain tearing through his calves, he refused to quit. The dread filled his stomach and the screams were louder than ever. Fear and despair filled him, spurring his body to move even faster.

No. No!

“I failed Luke already! I’m not failing Sam!” Brandon dashed forward, heading straight to the citadel’s entrance.

The moment the pirate got there, he saw multiple soldiers guarding the entrance. Clad in dark silver armour, Brandon narrowed his eyes and drew both his gunblades. Now wasn’t the time for hesitation! He clenched the grip of his gunblades and flipped open the safety switch to unlock the trigger. With all the adrenaline bursting inside him, Brandon lunged forward and cleaved past the soldiers.

“Hello sir,” he smirked. With one quick twist of his body, he decapitated two of the soldiers. “Goodbye sir.”

Much to the pirate’s surprise however, the soldiers were not human at all. He heard sparks and buzzes before the electricity fizzed out. The soldiers were not even human! Duh, Brandon resisted the urge to face-palm. In an advanced society like Machinos, there were things that were bound to replace humans. Security defence systems no longer needed humans but instead relied on a mechanical army.

“Man! This is going to be boring!” He heard Beatriz complain.

The moment he turned around, Beatriz had already swung her scythe and decapitated ten of them with one swing. One of the sentinels unleashed a hail of bullets but that didn’t stop her. The lady-in-waiting charged towards the shooting sentinel before spinning around and cleaving its head off. She winced for a moment and looked at her arm, noticing a hole that had pierced right through her gauntlet.

“Shit,” Beatriz scowled. “What are these bullets made of!?”

Kaelyn explained. “They’re made of an anti-magic metal. They use silver as one of the main components.”

“Oh great! So whoever created these things actually knew what he was doing!?”

“It appears so.”

“Well, damn it!”

Brandon let Kaelyn sail over his head as she drew her twin blades and impaled two on them. She spun around and flung the two sentinels aside before cutting down another one. The pirate leapt into the fray and cut a path heading towards the entrance. Tch, I don’t have time for this! He scowled and spun around to kick the sentinel down. When all the other sentinels charged towards them, a stream of lightning suddenly burst and covered them in a beam of blue light. Brandon’s eyes widened at the crackling sight as the electricity bounced and rushed everywhere, frying everything within the sentinels. He staggered back when suddenly, the vigilante landed in front of him with the dragon perching itself on the covered pathway. It let out a loud screech and spread its wings, summoning the lightning behind it.

Brandon shook his head. “Damn,” he then turned to the vigilante. “What are you here for?”

The vigilante however said nothing and instead clucked her tongue. The dragon growled and dismounted its perch and followed after her as she ran through the dark hallways. Brandon bolted after her with Beatriz and the general tailed behind him. He could hear the dragon’s footsteps and the screams of the chambermaids as the dragon ran past them.

“Tch,” he leapt over a laundry cart and landed on the ground. “So many obstacles!”

Brandon spotted another cart and sailed over it while Beatriz and General Kaelyn stumbled behind. The screams ripped through his skull and spurred him to rush. He could hear the rustling of the plants inside the hallways even without a gust of wind to pass their message to him. The air around him was thick and his heart threatened to jump out of his mouth. What could possibly be happening? He wondered. Brandon grabbed a random valet by the lapels of his shirt, ignoring the yelps of the young boy.

“Where’s the throne room!?” Brandon demanded.

The boy shivered and shrunk under Brandon’s heated lavender gaze. “J-just go straight ahead…!”

“Thank you.”

“M-m-my pleasure…!”

Brandon flung the boy aside and continued to make his way. As much as he wanted to be polite, he had no time for that. The sight of the large door leading to the throne room seemed to be so distant. It was as if that no matter how many steps he took, the door grew farther. Brandon, frustrated, lunged and drew out his gunblades to blast the doorknobs off. Only to see that there were no doorknobs but instead, an eye scanner and a hand scanner.

“Fuck,” Brandon hissed and stomped on the metal door. “How do you open this thing!?”

Kaelyn rushed towards him with Beatriz. “Allow me.”

Brandon steeled himself for any possible outcome. The possibility of having to fight through a legion of sentinels exhilarated him. The mere thought of having to fight an army of soldiers somewhat excited him and terrified him at the same time. No, he shook his head. He had to focus. The screams had suddenly died out and a part of his heart sank into his stomach in despair.

A few seconds seemed like forever as the doors finally hissed open. Brandon and Beatriz burst in when they came into the sight. Both of them were frozen stiff when they saw Samantha, lying crumpled on the ground with only her top on. Her body was covered with red handprints with her pants torn in shreds and tossed aside, exposing her butt. Her body was covered with whiplashes and her blouse was nearly raised over her head. The dull look in her eyes told both knights everything, along with the torn clothes and her tear-stained face.

“You goddamn fucker!” Beatriz roared. She lunged at him with her scythe swinging.

Before she could get close, a loud gunshot thundered through the empty halls. The whole hall fell silent when Beatriz saw that her entire left side had been blown off. Her left arm and left leg were torn off from the sheer force and her rib cage was exposed. Blood trickled from her lips as she stopped dead in her tracks and saw the blood dripping from her wounds and onto the floor. Brandon saw another gun similar to Daniel’s except it appeared to be a tube with a white curl of smoke hissing from it. Unlike Daniel’s weapon which had a long thin barrel, the tube was wide enough to accommodate something as big as a rock to be fired out from it.

“Interesting,” the prince smirked. “I was wondering when I could use the grenade launcher.”

Brandon narrowed his eyes and lunged forward. He could hear the explosive shots but swerved past them. He rushed towards Beatriz and made a quick pivot, wincing at the sudden pain that pinched in his knee. Tch, Brandon cursed and bolted the other way to grab Samantha. Within three seconds, the grenade hit the ground and nearly blew him to pieces if not for a sudden chain suddenly wrapping around his waist and dragging him back. Brandon gasped and tumbled on the ground when he saw that vigilante also had already grabbed Samantha.

“Thanks.” Brandon nodded.

The vigilante gave him a stiff nod in return before lunging forward to confront the prince of Machinos. Brandon wasted no time either and placed Beatriz at the side.

“Kaelyn, do you know healing magic?” Brandon asked.

Kaelyn nodded. “Basics but I know a place that can help reconstruct her tissue.”

“No, no need. Just help her body along and also help Sam.”

“But she’ll die!”

“Trust me, she won’t.” Brandon reassured. “Just make sure all her organs are in the right place.”

Kaelyn nodded with a skeptical look. “You sure?”

“Believe me. You’ll do more harm than help if you do.”

Kaelyn nodded and began nursing Beatriz’s wounds. Confident in Kaelyn’s abilities, Brandon moved forward to assist the vigilante.

“Kill them both! And make sure that you return Lady Samantha to me!” Prince Machinos shrieked at his sentinels.

The sentinels launched an attack at both Brandon and the vigilante with a hail of bullets. Brandon swam past the flying bullets and deflected a few aiming for his face. He winced as one bullet nicked him under his right eye. Brandon danced through the barrage as his knee froze midway.

“Shit!” Brandon growled.

He saw a rain of bullets aiming for his head until a chain-whip blade whirled and cleaved the bullets in half before lining it right next to him. Brandon gawked at the vigilante who shrugged . He snorted at her as she moved further and continued deflecting the bullets. The pirate looked at the bullets that were lined up next to him in a straight line.

“Show off,” Brandon scoffed.

He gathered himself and whirled his gunblades. He could hear his blades singing along with the vigilante’s blade as it laid waste to all the bullets that flew towards them. Brandon narrowed his eyes and jumped over a few before finally firing a round. His bullet zipped through the relentless cross-fire and buried itself into the sentinel’s skull. The sentinels froze as the vigilante and Brandon seized the window of opportunity. Brandon cleaved past three of the sentinels before moving to the next row. One of the sentinels threw a jab at him but Brandon ducked and flipped his gunblade into reverse-grip and slammed the pommel into the sentinel’s gut. A loud clang rang in his ears as he ducked and sweep-kicked the sentinel off its feet.

Damn, talk about war machines. Brandon growled and ducked as another one tried to choke him. However, he heard the loud crunching and hissing of metal when he saw the vigilante dance through the sentinels. The metal soldiers tried to grab her but she slipped through the tiny spaces and swung her blades. She whirled her double-edged sword over her head and extended the chains. The speed of her spinning caused even the chains themselves to eviscerate the sentinels’ bodies. Under her mask, Brandon could have sworn that he saw a smirk curved up her dark rose lips.

“My turn to show off a bit then,” Brandon chuckled.

He zoomed towards a sentinel with afterimages following him. The sentinel, confused, attempted to riddle him with holes only for Brandon to vivisect it to pieces before moving on to the next sentinel.

I have to get close, Brandon narrowed his eyes at the prince of Machinos. Then I’m personally going to violently hack that bastard into so many goddamn pieces that even his mother won’t recognize him!

Brandon sidestepped and kicked down another sentinel as another grenade missed his foot by a few inches. His eyes widened when he saw a small bullet knock the grenade to change its trajectory and prevented it from blowing up his foot. Brandon’s eyes widened when he saw one of the sentinels with a small hole punctured through its armour. The metal suit fell and revealed Daniel mounted on the balcony outside the window. He saluted Brandon and set up for another shot.

“Not bad,” Brandon smirked. His eyes widened when Daniel suddenly shot some sort of wire to the roof. “Wait, Dan –”

Before Brandon could finish his statement, Daniel swung and shattered the window with one kick. He disconnected his gun from the wire and tumbled in on the shards of glass. The sentinels turned and opened fire but not before Daniel pulled out a small cylindrical item, pulled out the lock with his teeth, and rolled it under their feet. The cylindrical item beeped a few times before exploding and consuming them in green flames. Daniel gave Brandon a boyish grin with a thumb up.

“Well, that was quite an entrance.” Brandon chuckled.

Daniel snickered. “Yeap, a flashy entrance indeed. Always going in with a bang!”

“You didn’t.”

“Didn’t what?”

Brandon shook his head. “Ugh, never mind.”

“But the mind –”

“Shut the hell up, you bumbling scallywag before I chop off your tongue.”

Daniel gave him a goofy grin. “Alright, alright.”

Another squadron of sentinels marched in and flooded the throne room. Daniel and Brandon sprinted into action with a hail of bullets. Daniel let out a burst of bullets while Brandon unloaded a full magazine into another sentinel’s face. Suddenly, a chain wrapped around the neck of that one sentinel before ripping it apart. Daniel and Brandon looked up at the vigilante as more sentinels ambushed them. The vigilante, dropping her arms to her side, sheathed her blade before exhaling sharply. She turned to the sentinels behind her and blue electricity started to crackle around her. She dipped her two fingers down before unleashing a blazing current of electricity. The moment the electricity made contact with the sentinels, the metal lit up like light bulbs before exploding into golden fireworks. Brandon gawked; she was a magic user! But, he had never seen anyone use magic that way! Samantha and Beatriz always used a medium. Luke’s ability wasn’t really considered magic, in his opinion. It was more of a racial ability. But for magic to be used as a more offensive and direct attack, he had half-expected the vigilante to at least have some mantras.

“Wow,” was all Brandon could say.

Daniel nodded. “Yeap, that’s her.”

“Who?”

“She was the rumoured dragon vigilante that terrified big organizations and left nothing but a trail of destruction behind.”

Brandon nodded before resuming back to business. His eyes narrowed at Prince Reuben as he charged again. He had a prince to chop!


Samantha lay crumpled on the ground. How could she have not seen it coming? I should have quit while I was early, the princess sobbed. Her hands trembled and her throat refused to produce a sound. The mere trickling of her sweat down her skin made her shiver. She remembered the sharp pain that shot through her. The princess couldn’t lift her arm and her hand to grip even the hem of her blouse. The pain from her backside continued to ebb through her.

He… he… he touched me…

The image of him forcing her down to the ground flashed vividly in her mind. She remembered the iron hard grip crushing her wrists that pinned her down. The distinct sounds of her pants being roughly ripped off her legs and cast aside sounded off as if it was on replay. Her hair stood on their ends when her skin recalled how Prince Reuben jammed himself right through her. It wasn’t how she imagined being deflowered. And he didn’t only do it once but, multiple thrusts. Tears poured down her face as the reality of what had happened sank in.

Her hands trembled and shuddered, unable to help Samantha prop herself up. The princess whimpered as the pain between her legs refused to fade. Her body trembled violently; her mind drew a blank. She glanced to one side to see Beatriz on her left side, seeing her left rib cage slowly regenerating. Samantha struggled to gasp for air and lifted herself from the ground. The clashes of steel filled her ears as she looked back to see Prince Machinos sending more sentinels against Brandon, Daniel and an unknown vigilante. One by one the sentinels began to fall as Brandon, Daniel, and the vigilante got closer to the Prince of Machinos.

“Princess!” She heard someone call.

Samantha looked towards the source of the voice and found Cathy, covered in bruises. “Cathy!”

The woman healing Beatriz gasped. “Cathy, what happened!?”

“Reuben cheated. He used the War of Five to fry the daylights out of the princess.”

“Where were you? Weren’t you escorting her?”

“He sent a whole legion after me and separated us both. The princess continued the challenge until he decided to just electrocute her.”

Samantha whimpered as Cathy explained her situation to her comrade. She looked at her splotchy skin where the red handprints seemed to fade. But the pain that broiled inside her fibres still ate through her. The princess slowly turned to the Prince of Machinos once more as her hand trembled while clutching the Sofiene pendant. The warmth that formerly soothed her now burned through her flesh. A raw feeling like no other overwhelmed everything else. It was an empty feeling; it was amoral and uncaring for the consequence.

“S-Sam?” She heard a weak whisper.

Samantha turned to Beatriz. “B-Bea?”

“I… I’m sorry,” she could hear the hint of broken pride in Beatriz’s voice. “I’m sorry I took so long. I didn’t expect…”

“Bea, it’s okay –”

“It’s never okay, Sam! Don’t you see what happened!?”

“I know,” Samantha’s voice quivered. She embraced herself. How could I not? I was paralyzed with fear but conscious the whole time!

She knew every single detail of what happened; and, that was the worst part. It was the part that she knew she was conscious whole time that Prince Reuben had forced himself on her. Bitter tears poured out of her eyes and onto her soiled skin. Her fingers shuddered and trembled as it tried to touch her skin. Her hairs stood on all ends and her heart refused to stop throbbing and urged to burst from her rib cage. Samantha winced at every touch; each contact set her on fire. It seared her skin and even the slightest contact or the sight of her finger getting close to her skin burned her.

“Sam,” she heard Beatriz’s voice again.

The princess looked up as she saw Beatriz completely sewn up as if nothing happened. The lady-in-waiting summoned her scythe and glared at Prince Reuben.

“I may not be able to get your virginity back.” Beatriz hissed. Samantha winced at the dark mana pouring out of the small girl’s body. “But I know how to make this bastard pay.” She slammed the butt end of her scythe on the ground and lunged with a bloodthirsty roar. “With his life!”

Samantha saw Beatriz enter the fray and brought down the sentinels in front of Daniel and Brandon. She shivered at the sight of her lady-in-waiting’s anger. The petite girl’s mana screamed and howled for vengeance with cold venom that froze the blood in her veins. The hairs on her arm stood on all ends and her hair, soaked with sweat, cascaded against her face and concealed the hot tears streaming down her face. She thought she had gotten strong enough. She had two ancient magics at her disposal yet, she could barely fend off a sexual assault? Guilt swelled up inside her; nothing had changed! Her knights were fighting for her sake again and all she could do was freeze and let the action take course.

The princess broke into a quiet sob when she suddenly felt something soft drape on her shoulders. Her eyes widened for a moment and looked at the empathetic look in Kaelyn’s eyes.

“Princess, I’m sorry for what happened.” She said and shook her head. “They always did say that he was his father’s son.”

Samantha nodded in silence.

“But that doesn’t mean what he had done was forgivable.”

The princess looked up at Kaelyn who had a fire burning in her eyes. The air around her suddenly thickened when a wave of mana pulsed from Kaelyn’s body. Her eyes widened when she saw the Judgment Magic take on a new form. Kaelyn created a silver white glyph above her head as a ball of light floated out of it. It sauntered towards the sentinels before hovering right above Brandon, Daniel, and Beatriz.

“The true power of Judgment,” Kaelyn whispered. Her eyes narrowed on the sentinels. “The true power of Judgment knows if the act is condemned in all corners of society.”

The ball of light swirled and expanded. The light shone bright as the sentinels drew back in fear. Samantha saw the bruised and beaten general take a stand. How could she despite being beaten down? The princess shuddered and tried to stand up as the cloak slipped off her shoulders. The wind brushed against her legs and through her crotch. She shuddered as the winds tickled her skin. But the princess knew that she had no time to think about that.

After all, everywhere in the world – they hurt little girls.

I thought I had grown up, Samantha thought to herself. A melancholic smile curved up her lips as tears poured down her eyes. She clenched her fists tight and steeled herself in front of the horrified Prince Reuben and his sentinels. She placed her hands around her pendant and focused her mana into it. The air around her began to condense as the energy swirled into a compressed tornado. The winds howled and leaked out with a turbulent rage. Warmth suddenly engulfed her fingers when she saw the ring of Azaleth glowing. The winds she compressed gleamed with multiple colours and created the rainbow winds. Her lungs swallowed a large amount of fresh air. Her mind cleared for that one moment as ethereal white hands held hers.

“Dear princess,” Azaleth whispered. Her voice was kind and soothing like a tender lullaby. “Have no fear. For Azaleth is on your side. Your knights fight in your name but it is time to seize your destiny. Open your heart and mind to the world of magic. Fear is only because you don’t know. But it is time to seek what should be known…!”

The ball of energy grew in size. Samantha knew it wasn’t her usual breakdowns. When she had unleashed her mana fuelled by her emotions, her mind swirled with a turbulent and fearsome rage. Emotions from all around her body threatened to explode. But there was something inside her. It was a small voice; a voice that sounded so familiar to her yet she couldn’t put a finger to it. It called her “princess” as well. But it was not out of respect and acknowledgement that she was of royal blood. But it was an endearing tone; a tone that soothed and washed all the pain away.

She then heard a clear cut command. “Astral Shower!”

The white orb hovering over Daniel’s, Brandon’s, and Beatriz’s head whirled fast and shrieked with power. Aether sparked and crackled as a laser cleaved through the ground and drove a deep trench into the castle floor. Dust and dirt flew into the air, creating a smokescreen. However, the wind generated by Samantha’s spell blew the smoke away and revealed a clear cut path heading towards the prince. Instead of being terrified, Reuben stood up and clapped his hands.

“Impressive,” Reuben chuckled. “What a woman worthy to be part of House Machinos.”

Beatriz snarled. “Get your head out of your ass! Who’d want to marry a pansy like you anyway!?”

“Know your place, brat.” He dismissed Beatriz with a scowl. He turned to Daniel and Brandon. “And look who we have here – one of the seven pirate kings himself, Brandon Hawthorne.”

Brandon refused to reply.

“There’s no need to greet me with such contempt,” Reuben jeered. “I’m actually quite honoured to be in your presence, captain.”

Brandon growled. “I’m definitely not.”

“But nonetheless, thank you for awakening Lady Machinos.” Reuben sneered and turned his gaze to Samantha. “She was starting to get boring. And I hate boring women.”

Without any warning, Beatriz lunged at him and spat venom. “The only one boring here is you!”

Reuben rolled his eyes and pulled out his grenade launcher. “Tch, you don’t ever seem to learn, do you?”

Before Reuben could pull the trigger, a chain wrapped around the grenade launcher and pulled it away from his hands. Everyone’s eyes moved towards the vigilante as she cast it aside with her double edged weapon brandished in front of them. Samantha’s eyes widened; where did that vigilante come from?

“You!” Reuben hissed. “You dare make your way into the citadel of Machinos!?”

The dragon vigilante chuckled with a shrug. “Well, I made you look didn’t I?”

Reuben froze only to have Beatriz’s fist meet his face. Samantha gawked at the sight of the brutality. The petite girl had thrown away her scythe and instead resorted to her fists. Beatriz screamed and snarled, landing blow after blow. Blood splattered on the floor as even the two young men were too spooked to stop her. The screams of Beatriz echoed through the metal walls as Samantha was even too frozen to fire the spell.

If I throw the spell, I’ll hit Bea! Samantha argued with her mind. Even though she did want to take out all her hate on Reuben, Beatriz was in the way. Was she really going to forsake Beatriz’s wellbeing to take her revenge? The idea of taking all her rage out on Reuben sounded so appealing. The idea of him being on the receiving end, the thought of him crying and begging for mercy – it was those thoughts that suddenly caused a smile to curve up her lips. A smile that normally did not spread from ear to ear; it was one of those smiles that not once had the knights ever seen on her face.

The orb in her hands expanded further with the winds being absorbed and compressed at the sight of a clear shot towards Prince Reuben…

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