Chapter 1 ~ Ideals Clash
“Sometimes I wish I weren’t so stubborn. Wouldn’t life be easier were I to cease swimming against the current?”
It was a quiet night; crickets sang songs and clouds drifted past the silver moon. A lone woman - hair white as snow and eyes green as emeralds - walked at a steady pace, leading a horse carrying bags filled with her belongings. The woman wore full-body silvery-white plate armour, an unusual sight to the swampy forest riverbanks she treaded upon; her name was Gwendolyn.
Her attention was caught by the faraway light of fire-lit torches. At last, it would not be long until she arrived to her destination.
Before her lied a huge encampment, housing a couple thousands of troops. On this battle eve, there were some who dreaded the coming sunrise while others laughed as they spoke of the stories they would bring back home. To Gwendolyn, the anticipation and doubt dashing across her mind betrayed her resolute march. At any moment, she could have turned back, but she had made up her mind. On the morrow, she would draw up her sword against those she once had called comrades.
This particular branch of the camp belonged to mercenaries. Gwendolyn asked around where she could sign up to join them on the coming battle. As she did so, one by one, gazes were being directed towards her armour. All inquisitive gazes, either of scorn or wonder. It was simply impossible to lay low, but she knew exactly why, and as such, could not blame anyone for it. Soon enough, she was pointed towards one of the lieutenants in the camp inside a tent.
Lieutenant: “And what brings a lass like yourself ’round here?”
Gwendolyn: “The name’s Gwendolyn. I’ve come to enlist myself for tomorrow’s battle. Put me on the front lines if you so decide. It matters not.”
Lieutenant: “Confident ain’t you?”
The man drew a sarcastic smile and assessed Gwendolyn head to feet with a thorough look.
Lieutenant: “Well, I ain’t one to pry into someone’s business, but that armour you got there – you’ve gotta be mad rich to get your hands on something like it. It sounds to me you’ve got the wrong place, lass. Got nothin’ but sellswords and lowborn hyenas in this place. Only the boss got some glory to spare.”
Gwendolyn: “This is Sir Tyrus’s Mercenary Band, correct?”
Lieutenant: “Aye, that would be correct.”
Gwendolyn: “Then I’m at the right place.”
Lieutenant: “...Very well. The boss said to never turn away an extra sword arm. It’s just a shame you might damage that delicate pretty chin of yours. War is no game for daddy’s spoiled little girls looking for adventure, ya see.”
Gwendolyn: “Believe me – I’m very well aware.”
Gwendolyn stood firm, staring the man straight in his eyes. There was no hesitation in her words. The man laughed and wrote her name with a quill on a piece of parchment.
Lieutenant: “Here’s hoping so, lass. Now get yourself ready for the dawn.”
Gwendolyn exited the tent and immediately searched for an open space where she could set up hers. After doing so and feeding her horse, she got herself a meal, and sat by herself on a log by a campfire.
There were many thoughts going through her mind. Part of her did not agree to what she was about to do. It was like a natural aversion. She was going against what she had been taught, what she had once believed so firmly; though by now such beliefs were long tainted, by sins committed by her own hand in the name of another.
Suddenly, she’s snapped back into the present world. A man had just invited himself to sit next to her. He had a friendly face and was smiling at her, but Gwendolyn wasn’t really in a mood for joyous conversation.
Young Man: “Hey there! Eating by yourself are you? Well, allow me to keep you company! What’s your name?”
Gwendolyn: “From where I’m from, you give your name first before asking somebody else’s.”
Young Man: “O-oh! Is, is that so? Well, alright, my name’s Jerry.”
Jerry: “Look at that! A pretty name! Sounds quite like a noble name, if you ask me.”
Gwendolyn: “Thanks, I guess.”
Jerry: “You know, you don’t see that many girls in a mercenary band like this. It’s quite refreshing to see a pretty face in the middle of a bunch of sweaty dudes. Are you gonna fight tomorrow?”
Gwendolyn: “Of course. Why else would I be here?”
Jerry: “Awesome! Hey, we could even partner up. What say you? I’m a pretty good fighter if I say so myself. Once won in a tournament in my home village. Now, granted, it was between the village’s kids and I was nine years old at the time. Still a tournament as valid as any other. And I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise!”
Gwendolyn let out a short laugh, getting some relaxation she very much needed. The tense air she was putting up was gone and she began warming up a bit.
Gwendolyn: “Am I to entrust my life on the battlefield to someone who takes pride on beating up some kids? That would be quite amusing.”
Jerry: “Aha, look at that! Got ya smillin’ now didn’ I?”
Gwendolyn: “You made me chuckle, I’ll admit.”
Jerry: “I was serious about the partnering up bit, though.”
Gwendolyn: “Fine. Maybe that way you can learn a thing or two from me. It certainly would be more educative than beating up some kids.”
Jerry: “Hey now! Don’t underestimate me! I won’t allow some girl to show me up on the battlefield!”
Gwendolyn: “Is this your first battle?”
Jerry: “Of course not! I’ve fought my fair share of skirmishes! I saved up some money and bought myself this here gambeson. Been protecting me fine, I must say. I reckon this battle won’t be any different.”
Gwendolyn rolled her eyes and sighed.
Jerry: “You just wait and see. Besides, we’ve got nothing to worry. We’ve got Sir Tyrus with us! He’s an experienced veteran.”
Gwendolyn: “...I’ve heard stories, but don’t know much about him.”
Jerry: “He comes from a land far to the west, born to a minor noble family. Ever since his brother took control of the family, he’s been fighting in all kind of conflicts he can find. He created this mercenary band for all who wish to join in making a profit with war. His only allegiance is to whoever can line the most coin on his pockets. I thought all in Rhevnon knew about him, but turns out I was wrong.”
Gwendolyn: “I see. You think he can stand a chance against the Royal Knights of Syleria?”
Jerry: “I don’t know much about them, but I have faith in our captain! We can trust in Sir Tyrus! Rhevnon will achieve glorious victory against Syleria tomorrow, mark my words!”
Jerry jumps to his feet and dramatically raises his fist into the air. The look on his eyes clearly showed no signs of fear, only confidence. Gwendolyn was not amused.
Gwendolyn: “Well, we shall see. Just promise me one thing.”
Gwendolyn: “If you see the Knights of Syleria on the battlefield, do not engage them in battle. You do not stand a chance.”
Jerry: “Uh... I guess I’ll keep that in mind.”
Jerry once against sat on the log next to Gwendolyn.
Jerry: “Say, I’ve been wanting to ask, where did you get your hands on that armour? It looks mighty expensive!”
Gwendolyn: “I’m afraid I cannot tell you.”
Jerry: “Oh, really?! Aww...”
The morning sun rose from the horizon, illuminating both armies staring at each other from across the grassy plains. The Kingdom of Rhevnon had mustered up a formidable force for its invasion of Syleria, and supported by the mercenary army of the infamous Sir Tyrus, morale was at an all time high. Yet, Syleria’s troops still posed to be quite the threat.
Sir Tyrus’s Mercenary Band was positioned at the left flank of Rhevnon’s forces, led by Tyrus himself, atop of his horse. Here too were positioned Gwendolyn and Jerry, right at the front ranks.
Jerry: “Wooo. There’s more people here than I originally thought! U-um... Is this normal?”
Gwendolyn: “Where’s your confidence now? I thought you had former experience.”
Jerry: “The skirmishes I took part in were not of this scale! How many thousands of troops on each side do you think there are?!”
Gwendolyn: “Don’t think too hard about it. That is for the tacticians to take into account. As a soldier, your job is to simply fight, no matter how many enemies there might be.”
Jerry: “You’re awfully relaxed for the situation, you know!?! Have you done this before??”
Gwendolyn: “*shrugs* Perhaps.”
Jerry: “What kind of answer is that???”
“They will be here. I know it. It’s been a while. Will I be able to raise my sword against them? ......No. There’s no turning back now. I shall fight for what I believe!”
The war horn was blown, and with it the signal for bloodshed.
Sir Tyrus: “You’ve heard it, men! Now get over there and make yourself worth the pay!”
The mercenaries cheered, proceeding to charge at the Sylerian lines. The Rhevnon Army soon followed and it became an all-out battle.
The Sylerian troops met the opposition with a wall of spears, drawing the first blood on Rhevnite troops. However, as effective as it was initially on the mercenaries, it wasn’t able to withstand Gwendolyn.
As she got close, Gwendolyn drew her sword and called its name - Lifthrasir. Immediately, her sword became enveloped in a flash of light, and in a blink of an eye, her longsword became a greatsword, the likes a regular person would not be able to lift, with a blade length around ¾ of her own size. Gwendolyn’s arms and torso momentaneously flashed with a jade light, and just like that, she was able to wield the sword as if it were a regular sword.
Jerry: “Whoa... Is that...magic?”
Next, her lower limbs too flashed, and she propelled herself towards the Sylerian troops, breaking the ground beneath her with the sheer strength of her legs. In a matter of a second, she had impacted the Sylerian line with the strength of a meteorite, slicing anyone in her path with one swing and blowing away the unfortunate Sylerian soldiers close by with the shock waves created by her leap.
The mercenaries who witnessed it were astounded, and Jerry was no exception.
Jerry: “...What kind of monster is she?!”
Gwendolyn had a clear murderous intent in her eyes, as she effortlessly swung her greatsword around, slicing those unfortunate enough to try and take her down. She was in a deep state of battle trance, calmly and coldly cutting down the poor Sylerians in her path with impressive speed and agility. The overwhelming power of her swings was enough to slice through the armour of her enemies, leaving no chance for survivability. She was an elegant deadly flower of the battlefield.
Truthfully, all of this was very familiar to Gwendolyn. She went at it as if it were her everyday regular business. It was more of a massacre than a battle, and soldiers on both sides were horrified.
Lieutenant: “I’d heard of the White Comet of Syleria, but never knew the stories were true. But what I don’t get is what one of the most elite of the Sylerian Royal Knights is doing fighting for Rhevnon?”
Jerry: “Gwendolyn...is a Sylerian knight?”
Lieutenant: “There’s no doubt of it. The armour she’s wearing confirms it. That’s the armour commonly used by the greatest of the Sylerian Royal Knights, made of the highest quality of white silver that you can find. That armour alone would be able to pay for the entire mercenary band ten times over and still have enough to spare for fine Rhevnite wine of the most expensive kind. The sword she’s wielding is likely to be of that same quality. I question if Sir Tyrus even knows of this?”
The rest of the battlefield was unaware of the chaos caused by Gwendolyn. After all, it’s hard to know what’s going on across hundreds of meters in the battlefield when you’re fighting for your life. But one could definitely say Rhevnon was winning the day. Rhevnite troops were managing to push back the Sylerian troops, and as corpses were littering the ground, it seemed like a decisive result would soon be clear.
Mercenary: “Lord Tyrus, the Rhevnon Army asks for assistance!”
Sir Tyrus: “What’s going on? We’re winning, aren’t we?”
Mercenary: “I-It’s...it’s the Knights of Syleria, my lord! They’ve led a surprise cavalry charge against the rear of the Rhevnon Army and are wreaking havoc! If things continue the way they are, the Rhevnon troops will be annihilated!”
Sir Tyrus: “...Hmm... A Hammer and Anvil, eh?”
Sir Tyrus was visibly considering his options. Even to an experienced veteran, this was definitely a dire situation to be worried about.
Tyrus: “Were we to run away here, our reputation will be tattered, and then we won’t so easily find employers to hire our services. But think of the glory we will have if we manage to defeat the Knights of Syleria here! This is an opportunity we cannot let pass!”
Sir Tyrus resolutely changes the direction of his horse and shouts atop of his lungs.
Tyrus: “Our targets are the Sylerian Royal Knights! Those who present me their heads shall get extra pay tonight!”
And with a cheer, the mercenaries abandon their already shattered enemies and begin running towards the Sylerian Knights. Gwendolyn watched as her enemies ran away with what remaining energies they had, and around her laid a sea of dead foes. It was a horrid sight, enough to sicken a person. She derived no pleasure from it, and even felt guilty to the fact she had to slay many of her countrymen. But alas... “Such is the life on the battlefield.”
Gwendolyn: “What is it?”
Jerry: “Sir Tyrus has ordered an attack on the Sylerian Royal Knights. He has charged ahead with most of his troops. We are to follow and do the same.”
Gwendolyn: “He charged ahead?! Does that fool know who he’s up against?!?”
With no time to waste, Gwendolyn made haste towards the knights.
Jerry: “Hey, wait for me!”
Gwendolyn: “You stay here! If you follow me, you will most definitely die! You do not need to throw your life away!”
“Yes. This is my fight. I don’t need anybody else’s help. They’ll just hold me back, after all.”
The Royal Knights of Syleria had decimated their opponents, and even having been reinforced by the mercenaries, the Army of Rhevnon could not prevent a turn in the tide of battle. The surprise charge against the rear combined with the potency of every knight present was simply too much to handle. Soon, the mercenaries would too be cut down as if they were nothing. Not even Sir Tyrus, as strong as he was, could get even close to scratching a single knight. From the top of a small hill, they watched as their troops finished the enemy off.
Sir Marcus: “Look at this rabble, scattering like rats upon the sight of a hawk. As always, the lowborn curs shall be cut down like wheat on a field. And they had the gall to invade our lands! Clearly, whatever noble blood runs through the veins of their generals is not fit to even kiss the soles of a Sylerian peasant’s foot!”
Sir Marcus von Donovan, a marquis of the Sylerian nobility and second in command of the Royal Knights; known for his calculating demeanour as well as his sharp tongue.
Sir Gareth: “...Not even fit to be hunted for sport, I suppose. I pity the common foot soldiers that have to bear the ultimate price for their superior’s ignorance.”
Sir Gareth von Edelweiss, youngest of the Sylerian Knights; passionate and devoted, has proven his worth as a warrior time and time again.
Sir Robert: “What a bore. Rhevnon is capable of more, so I thought! Let’s just get this over with. I feel no pleasure in watching massacres.”
Sir Robert of Lester, originally a commoner, was given the title of baron by Syleria’s former king; now rules a small territory in the countryside.
Lady Celica: “Sir Alfrid, your opponent has stood up yet again. Quite the tenacious foe I must admit!”
Lady Celica von Rosette, the only daughter of House Rosette and its future heiress; boisterous and clever, used to be Gwendolyn’s rival, following the centuries old rivalry between their respective houses.
Sir Tyrus had fallen to the ground, bloodied and full of wounds. He spat blood and could barely stand up, but wouldn’t give up until his very last breath. His opponent was Sir Alfrid von Grandale, captain of Royal Knights of Syleria, known to be the kingdom’s finest knight for decades. Atop his horse, he beheld Sir Tyrus with sword in hand.
Tyrus: “...Keh. So these are the Knights of Syleria... I have no regrets.”
Sir Alfrid: “Sir Tyrus, you have proven yourself worthy of your reputation. However, it ends now. May you find your way into the next life.”
And so, a man who lived by the sword had been struck down by the sword. Sir Tyrus laid dead on the Sylerian fields; his blood would become a pool to bathe the maggots – his fall being the final blow to break the spirits of the Rhevnon Army. Across the battlefield, the surviving mercenaries began routing, and the broken Rhevnite troops were being hunted down by the Sylerian cavalry. Now, each Rhevnite soldier fought alone, foregoing any glory or honour, attempting to at least crawl away with their lives.
Nevertheless, in the middle of the battlefield chaos, one final warrior stood to challenge the Royal Knights.
One lone warrior, wearing the very same armour as the Sylerian Royal Knights, battle stance ready, gazed upon her former comrades, her resolute face still hiding the doubt lingering on her mind. She was unsure if this was really the right course of action, but all she knew is that she had to act.
The Knights, all atop their horses, looked down on Gwendolyn from the hill, all of them making their own separate judgments.
Alfrid: “You have not forgotten my words, have you?”
Gwendolyn: “I have not, Captain Alfrid.”
Alfrid: “I see. So this is the path you have chosen.”
Gwendolyn: “Yes. I will fight for what I believe. For my own ideals of what a true knight should be!”
Alfrid: “Good. In that case, like Sir Tyrus before you, there should not be any regrets, regardless of the outcome to follow. ...Ready yourself, Lady Gwendolyn von Edelweiss!”
Gwendolyn steeled herself. The moment she had been dreading was here at last.
The five knights all charged down the hill. Gwendolyn too dashed, once again propelling herself towards them with an empowered leap. Though her speed would have been enough to fell even some of the most battle hardened veteran knights in one strike, the Royal Knights were easily able to match her. Each singular knight was just as terrifying as Gwendolyn, just as capable – all elites among elites. Together, there was simply no way Gwendolyn could get an advantage. By covering each other’s weaknesses and blind spots, there was no opening she could exploit.
Marcus: “I would have never expected you to have joined with those swine of Rhevnon. Clearly, I have misjudged you, Lady Gwendolyn. Your actions spit at your family’s legacy!”
Gwendolyn: “Keep your words for yourself, craven! There is much rotten in Syleria right in front of your eyes, yet you choose to embrace it! You above all else are the lowest of the low! Lower than the peasants you so much ridicule!”
Marcus: “What’s that?! I’ll have your traitorous head on a pike!”
Enraged, Marcus rushes in for a stab with lance in hand, but it was quickly deflected. Seeing an opportunity to strike after this careless move, Gwendolyn quickly swung her blade at him. However, she was forced to parry a strike from Gareth, therefore losing the opportunity to land her hit.
Gareth: “Big sister, this is not how I expected to meet you again.”
Gwendolyn: “I’m so sorry, Gareth, but this is what must be done.”
Gareth: “To turn your sword against your very own brother? Your comrades, your countrymen?! ...Father and Mother think only about you every day. They weep for the lost daughter they have so much showered with love and attention. ...For the suffering you have caused them, I shall put an end to your foolishness!”
The knights surround Gwendolyn, all riding in a circle around her, then proceeding to unleash an onslaught of attacks, one after another, forcing her to protect herself, keeping her on the defensive. As her former comrades, they were aware of her great speed and agility, but by working together, they could match anything she tried, cutting the space she needed to properly manoeuvre. Eventually, fatigue started to afflict her.
Gwendolyn: “*huff* (Damn it. If this keeps up I’m finished! My magic isn’t going to last forever either...)”
Celica: “Ohohoho! What’s the matter, Gwen? Unable to find an opening? My, things are not looking up, are they?”
Gwendolyn: “I don’t need you to tell me, Celica!”
Celica: “Well, I look forward to judge my rival with the highest of standards! I expect you to be able to find your way out of this situation! *giggle* Now dance!”
Two magic circles appear floating in the air near Celica’s shoulders. From them, she fires a barrage of shiny red projectiles. Gwendolyn quickly attempts to block them with the blade of her greatsword, but is quickly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of pressure and is blown away, sent flying back a couple meters and ending up rolling on the dirt.
Robert: “Stand up! A former Knight of Syleria can surely withstand more than that! Show us that the White Comet of Syleria still lives on!”
Gwendolyn stood up, but before she even had time to regain her composure, she was surrounded and attacked ceaselessly once more, forced to defend against powerful blows much like the ones she could deliver.
“What can I do? They know me very well. Everything I do, they can just team up to surpass. ...I cannot overpower them using sheer force. I’ve got to use my head.”
As she defended herself, she looked for a way out. After a while, she got the answer she was looking for. She waited for a moment her foes would be the closest together, and then, after dodging a swing aimed at her head, she used the momentum of the movement to swiftly slash her greatsword around her. By empowering the strike with her magic, she released a cutting shock wave which sliced through the horses’ legs, causing Marcus, Gareth, Robert and Celica to be launched onto the ground along with their prized expensive steeds.
Finally, after being on the defensive for so long, she wasted no time and pressed her advantage, intent on delivering one final blow towards Marcus. Yet, as her sword’s blade approached his head, she was immediately blasted by a scorching beam of light, allowing the knights to stand back up.
Alfrid: “Impressive. To this day, you still surprise me. As your former mentor, I feel honoured.”
Gwendolyn slowly stood up, still feeling the heat from Alfrid’s attack.
Gwendolyn: “Urgh... Captain Alfrid...”
Alfrid: “I’ve always believed you would eventually grow to surpass me. Alas, things did not turn out as expected. That is a sad truth we must accept. Yet, to see that you have retained your identity makes me believe the path you wish to forge may yet bring more unexpected turns. Sadly, so long as we are enemies, you will have to take your destiny for yourself. As a knight, my duty is to my lord and liege, the king. It matters not how much it saddens me, but I must strike you down.”
Gwendolyn: “Captain Alfrid...you were the one who made me want to become a knight. I still admire you the most. However, I cannot agree! This is not what a knight should be! The duty of a knight lies with being a protector of the kingdom and its people! Yet, the king would have us oppress the same people we swore to protect!”
Alfrid: “A knight is the king’s sword and shield. It is through the knight that the king’s judgment is delivered. It is through the knight that the king defends the kingdom and eliminates the threats to its stability. Our oath is to the king, for him is the people’s representative.”
Gwendolyn: “...That is the one thing we have never agreed on. I will continue to fight for what I believe! The king must be put down! For Syleria’s sake!”
Alfrid: “Gwendolyn, you will find that looking to resolve problems with the sword can bring harsher consequences.”
Gwendolyn: “You say that, captain, yet the king sees me as an issue to be put to the sword!”
Alfrid: “Is that not the reason why you have pointed your sword towards your comrades? Your rebellion is but a consequence of the king’s methods. As a knight, it is my duty to act on the king’s behalf, whether I agree with it or not.”
Energy begins gathering on Alfrid’s sword, as he held it straight with both hands parallel to his face. Gwendolyn braced for the attack, as the remaining knights position themselves in such a way rushing in to interrupt Alfrid would not be possible.
Alfrid: “To you, I offer the light of the Grey Star, which bathes the world with its immaculate splendour. Now, as I stand, I shall wield its grace as the blade to slay my foes!”
The sword gathers more and more energy, its blade glittering with a silver glow ever so increasingly. Finally, as the shining achieved its peak, Alfrid raised his sword, preparing to unleash its power.
Alfrid: “End of the line. Be turned to cinders!”
With a swift vertical slash downwards, Alfrid unleashed a massive beam of light, considerably much greater in power than the previous one - a strike capable of felling giants, an extension of the Grey Star, a divine relic of the gods.
Seeing no way of escape, Gwendolyn focused all of her magic power and energy to face such an attack, giving it her all in one powerful blow. With all her might, she slashed her blade at the beam, meeting it head on. The initial impact created a gust of wind which swept the battlefield, making all nearby in the area fall to the ground in confusion and awe. Yet, in spite of such power, Gwendolyn still stood, struggling to firmly resist the beam, all her strengths focused on it. Sometimes, the overwhelming force would push her a few centimetres back, but still she stood, roaring ferociously as loud as she could.
Yet, in spite of her efforts, it was simply too much for her to overcome. The beam managed to blast her away with such a force, her massive sword looked like an innocent stick flying on the wind. After soaring for a while, Gwendolyn landed violently on the ground, her body aching vehemently.
Alfrid: “To stand against the light of the Grey Star so resolutely and survive... You truly make me proud of having been your mentor, Gwendolyn. Your death will be a tragedy of which I shall never forget. I curse whatever being has fated us to stand against each other.”
Barely unable to move, Gwendolyn crawled towards her sword. Yet, as she clutched its grip, she failed to raise it once more. With all her magic power depleted, she had not the strength required to wield such a massive sword. As such, she made the sword return to its original standard size.
Alfrid: “Farewell, Gwendolyn. You may sleep now.”
Alfrid rode his steed, charging towards Gwendolyn, intent on delivering the final blow. She could barely move, and trying would make her body ache in ways she had never experienced before. However, as Alfrid got close, he got intercepted by a lone young man.
Gwendolyn: “J...Jerry! Stay...back!”
Jerry: “I would not leave you to die, Gwendolyn. I would not forgive myself if I were to turn tail while such a beautiful lady gets killed.”
Gwendolyn: “You fool! You merely...rush to your death!”
Jerry: “I will fight my with all my strength! Ayaaaaaaaah!!!”
Jerry rushed in, towards the stalwart knight which merely sighed. When Jerry got close, Alfrid effortlessly disarmed his opponent’s blade with one single strike, proceeding then to pierce him straight in the heart.
As Alfrid removed his blade from his foe’s body, Jerry immediately collapsed on the ground, blood oozing out of his mouth. On his downed corpse, one could see the look of desperation on his face, very likely to match his thoughts and regret in his final moments of life.
Without anyone else standing before his way, Alfrid turned and calmly rode back to the other knights.
Marcus: “Sir Alfrid, the wretch is ripe for the taking! Why do you turn away now??”
Alfrid: “A life has been traded for another. I cannot let such a noble sacrifice be in vain.”
Marcus: “You cannot be serious! Do you realize the questionable nature of your action, Sir Alfrid?! An enemy of the king must be struck down!”
Alfrid: “Our mission was to achieve victory in the battle against the Rhevnon Army. That has been the point of our presence here and we have succeeded. Those who still resist must be the priority.”
Alfrid: “Our foe - Lady Gwendolyn, can no longer fight. She no longer is a threat to our victory today. With a life traded for hers, the price of her survival has been paid. Further aggression would be an independent action, not obeying the king’s order for victory this day. However, I will not tolerate any independent actions from any of you. As captain of the Royal Knights of Syleria, I order all of you to focus on the mission given to us by the king and hunt down those who still resist. The foes willing to continue fighting are the ones who can be considered a threat to our victory.”
Sir Marcus was repulsively astounded at his captain’s words, yet he could not find in himself to go against orders. As ridiculous as it seemed, Alfrid was technically right. As long as Gwendolyn did not point her sword at them, she was no longer a willing combatant. Jerry’s sacrifice had appealed to Alfrid’s value for life and justified letting Gwendolyn go, as the ultimate offering for her life. A life for a life. It filled Alfrid with a sense of relief. Her former student would live not die at his hand. For now, he hoped she would abandon her crusade against the king, and build a new life far away. A foolish hope, as he knew very well that Gwendolyn’s stubbornness would drive her to stay on her chosen path of opposing the king. Deep down, Alfrid knew this would not be his last encounter with her dear former student, and of the eventual clash of swords to come with it.
“Captain... You still retain your own morals, even if they are overshadowed by your sense of duty. ...I will not let Jerry’s sacrifice be for nothing. I must stop fighting, at least for now.”
As the knights left her alone on the battlefield, some more willingly than others, Gwendolyn forced herself to stand up; pushing herself to a nearby warhorse whose rider had fallen in battle. She mounted it using what remaining strength she had left and rode west in direction of the Rhevnon border, away from the battle and Syleria.
Thus, Gwendolyn’s encounter with her former comrades came to an end. Her future seemed uncertain. She knew not what to do or where she was heading to. All she knew was that she had to get away for the time being. The wounds she had sustained would be grim reminders of the power she lacked to see her goal to fruition.
Her path would be awash in blood – either of those who stood in her path or her own. ...
.........A truly promising candidate.