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Human Hero Candidates

The air of the training yard was full of clash of swords and smell of sweat. Throbbing pulses and pounding heartbeats, trying to win.

The knights were training their hardest, each hoping to stand out as better. Hoping they'd be one of the chosen.

Chosen to be a hero.

They all knew it was the year of the prophecy. Heroes would be needed to fight back the soon encroaching darkness.

The heroes were to be selected by the king soon and then sent to see the Shinings. The only family of Seeresses in the known kingdoms. They were an odd bunch of ladies, but their talents were much sought after.

And unlike anyone else they had the right to refuse the king if his order led to a catastrophic future.

They were the reason the many kingdoms were in harmony. Trade was doing well, all sorts of clothing styles were in fashion, and the magic tools for everyday use worked with better efficiency.

The men in the Shinings family seemed to fall prey to unlikely deaths, that even the Seeress' magic couldn't keep them from. So the ladies of that household had taken to being strong and capable enough to handle themselves.

One was even rumored to have flirted with a knight enough to get taught swordsmanship and in turn taught it to her family.

The ringing of the noontime bell signaled the end of practice. The knights split up and went their separate ways; some to eat, others to bathe, and others to take over at their assigned stations.

A few stayed behind in the practice yard.

A newbie knight continued to hack and slash at a practice dummy, trying to better his endurance with the continued swings and footwork practice.

All too soon though, he missed and went tumbling into the dirt.

"Haha! You've gotta center your weight better, or do you like eating dirt?" A lilting voice taunted.

He frowned and looked up. It was the masked girl named Ace. She seemed to plague him at the worst moments. Today she had on her purple and green jester's outfit with the usual happy/sad mask.

"I don't. But what are you doing here? I thought you said the castle was off limits to you?" He sulked.

"Yeah, about that, it's different now. I'm free to see you Garret. You'll see why soon." Ace gushed happily, "Go wash up, before the king calls for you."

With that said, Ace cartwheeled out of the training yard.

Garret shook his head and watched her go. She had always been a strange one. But she was usually right. Sometimes he wondered if maybe she was somehow related to the Seeress family.

He grabbed his sword and headed for the bath house.

And right she was; no sooner had he finished and donned clean clothes, did a page come running up to notify him of a summons from the king.

He followed the page to the throne room and the awaiting king.

He knelt before the king and bowed his head.

King Gregoire Antheus Estreuis of Hyacinth cleared his throat. "You may rise honorable Knight Garret. I have a daunting task for you."

Garret rose quickly to his feet, standing straight as he could. The king had a task for him. Him! Not another knight, him! He was trying his best to not shake with excitement as he hung onto the king's every word.

"After consulting with the Seeresses, it has been revealed that you young lad, my daughter and two others shall have a part to play in this coming prophecy."

The princess?! What did the princess have to do with it? Garret wondered if that meant she would be in danger from the coming evil.

"Alexandria Carmine Estreuis. My daughter. The princess of this kingdom. She shall be under your care in the journey you must undertake. So said the Seeress."

What?!? Guarding the princess was a bad idea, she was notorious for giving her guards the slip. If she got hurt under his watch, he'd probably be demoted to guarding the dungeon, if he didn't end up in a cell himself.

The king placed a hand on Garret's shoulder, "Do not fret lad. She is far more capable than you think. You know of her skill just as she has told me of your unwavering persistence." His other hand gestured towards the door.

As Garret looked towards it, a familiar purple and green figure cartwheeled in. She came to a stop right in front of him and bowed a showman's bow.

"Never expected this, did you Garret?" Ace giggled, as his jaw dropped. Pleased with flooring her friend, she swiftly removed her mask, "Guess who you knew, that you didn't know you knew."

Ace was the princess. Garret looked back to the king, seeking guidance, his mind blank with surprise.

The king just smiled knowingly. "You and Ace shall go to the Seeress household for the next piece of the prophecy of your destiny. The horses are ready to depart. Make haste, they don't like tardiness. Your future and the future of this kingdom begins today. You shall find the two others somewhere along your journey, so I'm told. Now off you go."

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