The Guardians of Rhea

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Chapter Four

It was late in the evening. Arthur waited impatiently just outside the Citadel, “Where is that girl?” he said, leaning on the wall and folding his arms across his chest.

The grounds were now empty of commoners. Only a few patrols walked about. A Guardian in the Citadel set a torch against a small reservoir of oil that fed into all of the lamps in the ground outside.

Arthur stared off into the surrounding city. The light from the buildings gave them a subtle silhouette. It was actually quite calming. Just as he was about go off into a daydream, Sara came running into view.

“It’s about time!” Arthur said.

Sara was back in uniform, mostly. She struggled to place one of her armbands on as she made her way to the Citadel, “Excuse me!” she said, almost plowing through several Guardians who barely managed to get out of her way.

Arthur opened the door as if he were expecting Sara to keep going. She was going so fast he was surprised that she managed to stop before reaching the door.

“Sorry,” Sara said, “My friends and I were at the pub. They wanted to give me a good sendoff.”

“You better not be tipsy!” Arthur said.

“I drank one little glass.” Sara replied.

Arthur sniffed the air and thought he picked up a slight whiff of alcohol. He shook his head in disappointment, “You haven’t been a Guardian even a day and you’re already pushing it.”

“It was one glass.” Sara said, placing her hands on her hips.

Arthur waved his hand for Sara to go inside, “Let’s go. The Marshal is waiting in the Great Hall.”

Sara could never really keep her eyes in front of her to see where she was going, “You know, I think I’ve only seen half of this building. I need to take myself on a tour one of these days.”

“You won’t find anything more interesting in here than outside,” Arthur said, “After one week on assignment, I bet you’ll want to get as far away from this place as possible.”

After a few minutes of walking, Sara started to ask, “So, about my first assignment…”

“I’ve already spoken with the Marshal,” Arthur said, “You’ll get what you want, and I’ve pulled a few strings to have you assigned here in New Haven.”

Sara’s face lit up, “Really? I can’t believe you did that. I was worried I would be assigned to patrol one of the routes between the cities.”

“Don’t make me regret this!” Arthur said.

“Don’t worry,” Sara responded, “I promise I won’t screw up.”

Arthur opened another door and allowed Sara through first, “You shouldn’t make promises like that,” he said.

Sara passed by, but then stopped and turned to Arthur, “Then how about ‘I’ll do my best?’”

“I can appreciate that,” Arthur said with a wink, “C’mon, the Marshal is right through that door.”

It didn’t show, but Sara became anxious looking at the large door at the end of the hall, and with every step she took toward it, her anxiousness turned to excitement.

“Remember,” Arthur explained, “Just take the nearest seat next to him and please be nice.”

“No problem,” Sara said.

Being the noble Guardian he was, Arthur opened the door and politely allowed Sara to pass first.

The Great Hall was a very large circular room with a huge table in the middle surrounded by chairs.

Henry, a man who looked about as old as Arthur, was sitting patiently in a chair. A small candle and some papers sat on the table in front of him. Henry was a Marshal, a Guardian assigned to lead the other Guardians in a particular area, like a city. Sara sat down next to him.

“Hello, Ranger,” Henry said.

“Hello,” Sara responded.

“So, what did you think of the training,” Henry asked, “Tough, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it was, sir.” Sara answered.

Henry began ruffling through the papers in front of him, “I hear you graduated alone and early, too!”

“Um…yeah,” Sara said uneasily.

Henry leaned towards Sara with a smile on his face, “Congratulations!” he said before returning to his papers.

Sara’s eyes wandered around at the numerous painted window panes around the room.

“Now,” Henry continued, seemingly more excited than Sara, “I have five positions in the three cities. There are openings here in New Haven. One in Alaria, and one in Genoa. Did you have one in mind?”

“Yes,” Sara answered without hesitation, “I’d like to be assigned here in New Haven.”

“It shall be done,” Henry said. He picked up his pen and filled out the necessary paperwork, “Sign here and here, please.”

Sara quickly signed the forms.

Henry took the forms back and folded them, “That’s it. Welcome to the Guardians. You are to patrol the Chapel District on the second shift. Don’t forget to pick your weapons up in the armory.”

“Thank you,” Sara said, shaking Henry’s hand.

“Please be on your way,” Henry said, “Your shift starts soon.”

Sara got up and headed straight for the door Arthur was too pleased to open.

“Are you happy now?” Arthur asked.

Sara walked at a brisk pace with Arthur doing his best to keep up.

“This is it! My first assignment!” Sara said.

“What are you doing?” Arthur asked, “You act like you’re going off to save the world or something. You do know what patrolling boils down to, right? All you do is walk down a few streets, making sure nothing bad happens.”

Sara responded without hesitation, “If something bad does happen, I’m going to be there to stop it.”

“What’s the worst you think will happen,” Arthur asked, “There’s never even been a confirmed sighting of a Rhean within the city.”

“That doesn’t mean it won’t happen tonight.” Sara responded.

Arthur couldn’t help but laugh, “I almost forgot – you’re a newbie, so I guess it’s okay to have high hopes.”

Sara ignored the insult. She didn’t care what anyone said. She was a Ranger and she had a job to do.

Arthur decided it was best to ease up and leave her alone. The thick wooden doors of the armory came within sight as they rounded the corner.

A single Guardian stood by the door and opened it as Sara passed.

The armory was loaded with a few different types of weapons. Aside from the standard sword and shield, which few Guardians used because of the weight, there were also collapsible composite bows.

Sara grabbed a talon and equipped it. Talons were leather gauntlets with retractable blades worn at the wrist. Since it was small, light and easy to master, it was a popular secondary weapon.

Her final weapon, one she wished she had practiced more, was the halo. It was simple in design, yet so hard to wield safely that many Guardians thought twice before using it. Sara carefully grabbed a halo from its holster and spun it around her hand.

“You don’t need a weapon like that for an assignment like this, do you?” Arthur asked, “I’ve heard stories of people losing fingers just trying to pull the damn thing from the holster.”

Sara flicked, flipped and spun the halo like she had been born with it, but sighed and placed the halo on the rack, “You’re right,” she said. She moved over to a table with dozens of equinoxes laid out. It was the workhorse in the Guardian’s arsenal.

Compared to Arthur’s equinox, these were just a plain leather-wrapped hilt with blades but just as deadly.

After a little eyeballing, Sara picked one up and extended the blades. There was just enough room in the armory for her to practice a few basic moves. Satisfied, she retracted the blades and holstered it.

A Guardian stepped in and tossed his equinox on the table. Letting out a long sigh, he turned his head side-to-side, cracking his neck. Looking at Sara, he asked, “Let me guess, Chapel District, right?”

“Yeah,” Sara answered.

“I’d hurry if I were you,” the guardian said, “My shift is up.”

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