Rei's arms dangled limply around Bard's neck. He carried her on his back, as he an Keena pressed on toward the next closest town.
"I've never seen anyone her size put away that much food. Or as quickly at that. How does she even keep her figure?"
"Beats me." Bard answered. "But for the past few days I've been traveling with her, she hasn't eaten much. Or slept at all for that matter.
Keena chuckled. "She knocked out pretty quickly. Almost as soon as she got up from the table. That was nearly an hour ago, and she's still sound asleep."
"No worries. Rashid Town is only a mile away, we can bunk there for the night. Rei is starting to get a bit heavy…"
Bard carefully laid Rei into the bed.
"She should be fine for a while. I doubt she'll be waking anytime soon."
Keena sat on the opposite bed with her legs crossed. "Well, is one room going to be enough? There's only two beds. And you're NOT getting in bed with me."
"Ah don't worry. I'll be fine in a chair. Trust me, I've fallen asleep in stranger places."
Keena blinked. "Suit yourself."
Bard retired to his chair. His mind drifted off…
"Hmm. So you wish to challenge me?"
"Yes, Master. One last test of skill."
"If that is what you wish. As a seasoned warrior, I will not turn down any challenge. I hope you are properly prepared."
There was a light ring as a metal blade was drawn from its sheath. There was sudden clashing, and flying sparks.
"Master Arcan. Surely you aren't holding back?"
"Of course not. The most important part of any fight is to know thine enemy."
With a flick of his wrist, Arcan split his pupil's blade in two. Arcan's katana was aimed at his face.
"Your skill has improved tremendously. I'm most impressed. But you're still unpolished. I encourage you to keep working, but I'll also recommend you stick to your wood for now."
"I've been working hard, Master. I'll get better. I'll keep working, until I can match you. An oversized toothpick can't compete with your metal blade."
Arcan raised an eyebrow. He held out his hilt to him. "Take my sword. Show me what a metal blade is made of."
Arcan immediately picked up a tree limb. He snapped a few loose twigs and held it out. "I am ready when you are."
The vertical slash was parried, and with a quick motion the other side of the limb Arcan forced it into his pupil's chest.
"A weapon's material means nothing. A weapon is only as good as it's user. Metal, wood, or flesh, never underestimate an opponent by the weapon he chooses."
"Yes Master…" Arcan's blade was returned to him.
"Do not think badly of yourself. I know you will master the blade one day soon. Your dedication has proven that. But I see your greatest potential…right here."
Arcan took something and handed it over. It was a small cylinder.
"That is made from the wood of a seraphian tree. It's lighter than any other wood, and stronger than any oak."
"A seraphian tree?"
"Yes, of which only one of exists. Or used to. That is the last piece of it."
"It's…small…what happened to the rest of the tree, Master?"
"Lost to history. It's name is Angelend."
"This tiny cylinder, is the Blessed staff Angelend?"
"Indeed. By holding it's name within your heart, you will be able to wield it. You are among one of my most cherished students. I pray it will keep you safe."
Bard gave a light smile, then closed his eyes.
Keena aroused him. "Rei is still sleeping. Should we let her sleep or wake her up?"
Bard stretched a bit. He proceeded toward Rei and lightly tapped her shoulder. She pulled the sheets up to her face. He smiled back at Keena.
"Well I don't think she wants to be wakened."
"Don't worry, I can fix that. I grabbed this from downstairs earlier. It should still be hot."
Keena took a tray out of the microwave oven in the room. She set it on the nightstand beside Rei and removed the paper towel. The aromas of eggs, bacon, and grits filled room. Rei squirmed a bit and began to sit up. She blinked a few times and let her eyes adjust.
"Morning, country girl."
Bard laughed. "Rashid Town. You fell asleep at the table back at the diner. We thought you could use a nap."
She threw a biscuit at him. "You guys are the worst."
Alarms began to ring out suddenly.
Rei looked puzzled. "What's that about?"
Keena was equally as confused. "I don't know. We'd better go outside and see what's going on."
Rei slipped on her boots and followed Bard and Keena outside of the lodge. Citizens were running into their homes, and soldiers clad in various light armors ran about, loading weapons. One of them noticed Rei.
"You folks need to stay indoors. This isn't a drill."
Rei looked at the Fortune clad. "What's going on?"
"Aliens detected near the town and are headed this way. All residents are urged to stay inside."
"We aren't residents."
"Then do what you want. Just stay out of the way."
There was a roar, and black shape flew across the dark morning sky. The soldiers held their firearms toward the sky where it flew by.
"WHAT WAS THAT?!"
The shape flew back around, and belched flames at a nearby building.
"OH SHIT! IT'S A FUCKING DRAGON! GET EVERYONE EVACUATED!"
Rei stared as the mass flew around. "A dragon? Those exist?"
Bard was shocked. "Siegfried…that's not possible!"
Speedlings and panthers began to infiltrate, and soldiers opened fire. Rei drew her lightbow and shot down a few distant targets.
"Let's go!" She yelled to Bard and Keena as her armor formed around her. Before they got far, the dragon landed in front of them. It chomped at a nearby soldier and threw him to the side. It looked down at the trio, who had their weapons ready.
"Unfortunately, I don't think we have much edge on a dragon with our current equipment. Even Rei's bow probably lacks adequate power." Keena implied.
Siegfried's gaze locked onto Rei. As soon as he did, he roared and launched a molten fireball. Rei managed to move and countered with an arrow to the eye. Siegfried tried pawing at the arrow, stumbling through a couple buildings in the process. He gave up and focused back on Rei, who was now fleeing. Siegfried went berserk and charged after her.
Bard yelled at them. "Split up, and regroup at the north road once you've lost him, whoever he follows!"
Rei yelled back. "I don't think he'll be following either of you two."
Bard thought briefly. "Good point."
When Siegfried closed in, he loosed a stream of fire. Bard pulled Rei into a side alley. Keena extinguished the small flames on the bottom of his cloak. Keena turned to Rei.
"Do you think you can hit the other eyes? If we can blind it, we might be able to retreat."
Siegfried soared at low altitude, looking around presumably for Rei. It landed again, but he was a block away. Rei would need a clear shot, which she knew was impossible without getting spotted. She held her bow at ready. Siegfried was strolling through the streets, looking down each alley. Rei held back at full draw, when she could hear him breathing nearby. As soon as his head was visible, she loosed and arrow. Siegfried head butted the building in front, and Rei shot another arrow. Siegfried roared in pain and lifted off again, spewing fire in random directions. It landed again in the distance, crushing a building. Screams could be heard.
"Should we escape town?" Bard asked.
Gunfire could be heard. Siegfried was leaping, destroying more structures. It sniffed the air, and began prowling toward their direction.
"No." Keena said. "It can still smell us. No doubt it's too angry with Rei. And he's not completely blind at that, he might see us run."
Rei sighed. "Alright. I'll move in for a clear shot."
Rei crept into another alley. She kept her footsteps quiet. She leaned against a wall and peered around slightly. He was again looking down alleys, and ignored most of the soldiers firing upon him. Their small assault rifles appeared to be doing no visible damage. Rei turned away. She was tense. Taking a deep breath, she whirled around at full draw. She slowly let down. No dragon. Rei turned to head back toward Bard and Keena, only to run right into Siegfried. The dragon roared and leapt. It was too fast for Rei to avoid. The front paw of the large creature had Rei pinned to the ground. She struggled, but it's strength was too great. Siegfried's jaws drew nearer to Rei's head. She could do nothing but watch. A big rock suddenly hit the side of Siegfried's head. It turned and roared. Another rock hit him.
"Oi! Over here, you scaly douchebag!"
Bard tossed a rock in the air and whacked it with his bō. It flew toward Siegfried and struck him square on the end of his nose. Siegfried turned and walked toward Bard. Rei quickly got on her feet and grabbed her bow. Bard pulled his lute around and began to strum.
"Even I hate this song!" Bard said. As soon as he started playing various notes and chords, everything in town immediately went still.
Keena's eyes widened. "No, no, oh God, NO!"
"WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY~♪?"
Keena put her hands on her head and went into fetal position. Soldiers dropped their weapons and started running in different directions randomly while screaming, occasionally running into walls and even each other. Speedlings flipped upside down and their legs started twitching. Panthers swelled up and popped into thin air. Scorpions began driving their stingers into their own heads. Energy Flies flared out enormous energy from their energy glands, propelling them into the sky like rockets.
Siegfried rammed his head on the ground and flipped over. He slowly began to shrink until where he stood was now an ovular, shelled object. Bard quit playing. He leaned against the a wall, breathing heavily. Keena blinked a few times and stood up. Rei walked over to where they were.
Keena glared at Bard. "Don't. Ever. Play that. Again.
Bard smiled at her. "Oh don't worry, I won't. I myself can't stand that dastardly tune. But it was a bit of an emergency situation."
"Fair enough. How are you feeling, Rei?"
"I'll be fine. On the bright side, the aliens are gone and I'm not reptile food."
Keena looked off in a different direction. "Almost all aliens…one must have been deaf."
To prove her point, a speedling was dragging a soldier into a back alley. He was holding onto another soldier.
"Let go of me, you fucker!" The Tank-clad soldier began kicking at the Viper that was being pulled.
Bard and Keena stood horrified. Rei watched emotionless.
Keena broke the temporary silence. "Turning on his men for his own freedom? That's low…"
Bard sighed. "Ah, I suppose that's another point for your 'human stereotypes' list then." Bard looked behind him. "Rei? Are you sure you're ok?"
Rei stared at the soldiers. She was shaking ever so slightly. Her hand tightly clasped the bow she was holding. Her eyebrows slowly furrowed together.
Bard and Keena looked back toward the soldiers. The Tank managed to free himself from his associate's grasp, and the Viper was dragged away. The Tank turned and began to walk away. Bard heard something whiz by him. A green energy arrow lodged itself within the soldier's back. He yowled in pain and fell over.
Bard and Keena found Rei dropping her bow down to her side. Keena grew a bit angry.
"Was that really necessary?"
Rei stared back at her. Her gaze was clear even through her visor. Cold and hostile. Keena gulped.
Bard retracted his staff. "Well in any case I'd say we move on, yes?"
Rei started walking without saying a word. Bard and Keena sighed and followed.
A shadowy figure emerged from behind an alley. It picked up a Wanted poster from the ground.
"Target sighted. Initiating standby tracking mode."
We make for a sleepy village known as Nightmoon. Such a place doesn't exist on my map, but both Keena and Bard seem to know about it. They clearly know something I don't. As for my experiences in Rashid Town, I've nothing to say.