The night air was still warm from the days scorching desert sun.
“Protect the chief!” shouted a burly warrior with two furry cat ears on top of his head and a tail to match.
“Don’t worry about me protect my daughters! You damn bandits why are you doing this?” shouted the village chieftain as he fought two bandits at once.
Many burning fires lit up the night as the small nomadic Nyaantails village was set aflame from the surprise attack.
The large group of mercenaries employed by the medium-sized bandit group did not speak and just continued to fight silently.
“Maya, take your sister and the other children with you and escape. You’re to keep your sister and the others safe,” shouted village chief while exchanging blows with the bandits.
“Yes father!” said Maya who was the eldest of the chiefs two daughters and was also the most skilled in fighting.
Maya gathered the small number of crying children near the center of the village.
“Stop crying we need to leave now!” said Maya as she began to herd the small group out of the village through a small exit in the back.
The sound of fighting could still be heard miles away as they traveled along the sand dunes.
After a long hour of half running and half walking they reached an oasis and took a rest near it while drinking.
“When will we be able to go back?” asked a young boy his ears and tail drooping due to sadness.
“Don’t worry father and the warriors will be able to defeat them and they will come to get us later,” said Maya. Her ears kept twitching in agitation and nervousness.
“I’m cold,” complained a young girl.
“Your old enough to do a partial transformation your fur should be enough to keep you warm,” said one of the older kids.
“My furs not as thick as yours yet!” complained the young girl.
“Stop arguing, all of you can rest while I keep watch,” said Maya.
The hours past with no sound reaching them. As the night grew longer it became harder for Maya to stay awake.
Half asleep she kept watch over the children and her younger sister.
The sudden sound of moving feet and shifting sand caused her hears to twitch.
Waking up from her drowsiness she sniffed the air to detect who it was and where they were coming from.
Her tail stood up in alert after catching the scent of the bandits that had been fighting the warriors at the village.
Maya gripped her wooden bow and with swift practiced actions sent an arrow flying into the darkness. She did not use her eyes to aim in the darkness instead she used the scent of the enemy and the sound they created to pinpoint their location.
“Guah!” a strange groan of pain was heard as someone was hit by the arrow.
“Looks like we were discovered! Did you really think you could get away from us?” said a voice coming from some distance behind Maya.
She whirled around and sent arrows flying towards the unknown speaker who only narrowly dodged.
“Hahaha! What a nice fighting spirit. With her skill I’m sure we can get a lot by selling her to the game masters in Otria,” said another bandit.
“You can stop resisting. We have you surrounded there is no one to left to come to rescue you,” laughed the first bandit.
Maya sent another arrow towards the man who again dodged it.
“Fine have it your way. We’ll do this the hard way,” said the bandit captain before giving the order to the multiple bandits surrounding them to capture them.
Magic guild headquarters, Freegoldawae.
“Why wasn’t this letter given to me sooner?” demanded Deve Hobs angrily.
“I’m sorry Grandmaster. I was swamped with other reports and I thought it was just the monthly report so I didn’t open it until just now,” said the secretary that handled all the incoming and outgoing letters.
“Leave now,” said Deve Hobs coldly.
When the door to the conference room was shut he looked at the spot on the ground that had been covered with blood many months ago before looking away.
The letter was from one of its branches in the Vussia capital claiming to have seen Akira in the city.
‘I’ll have to use the Rune communication formation.’ thought Deve. He did not want to use it because it cost over a thousand gold in magic stones just to activate. It cost even more, to keep it open to have a conversation with the twin formation that was set up in the office of the sub-chief in Vania’s magic guild branch. Like it or not he had to get more details on this.
He walked through the side door of his office and entered a narrow hallway that led to a small room.
Inside the room were two scientists who maintained the rune formation and were always on call to make sure they received any messages sent or to inform the guild master of the need for him to speak with someone important.
It was late at night and the two were sleeping on their cots in the corner of the room.
Deve kicked the cots waking the two up.
“Grandmaster?! What can we help you with?”
“Hurry up and start the communication formation,” ordered Deve.
“Which one?” asked one of the scientist.
“The Vania headquarters.”
The two white coat men walked over to a small formation on the wall with a ledge to place magic stones. They quickly filed the ledge with the special gems from a bag on the ground.
The two placed their hands on the formation in front of them and began to chant causing the runes to light up.
A large portion of the gems turned dull as the energy was extracted from them.
The runes stayed lit for a short time but soon went dark.
“What’s wrong?” asked Deve Hobs.
“I…I…The..,” stuttered one of the men.
“Well? Spit it out, what is it?”
“The formation will only act this way if its twin has been damaged or destroyed,” said the second man hurriedly.
Deve Hobs angrily stormed out of the room. 1000 gold wasted only to find out the communication failed.
He walked to his secretary’s desk and said, “Immediately send out an order for the Giegle riders to go to Vania and get information on where Akira is. If they find him they are to capture him.”
“Yes, Grandmaster,” said the secretary as she quickly wrote down his words on a piece of paper.
It had only been a few days ago that the old year passed and a new year arrived.
Akira and Varbu were unable to celebrate because they were still being chased by a small group of fanatic guards that would not stop following them and tried to attack them whenever they caught up.
They had been on the run for many weeks now. The lack of sleep due to the constant danger of being attacked had worn down both of their usual chipper moods causing them to be quick to anger over small things that were not normally a big deal.
While resting for a few minutes to eat Akira tried to improve the mood by asking a question.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you something but everything has been so chaotic ever since we escaped from Vania that I forgot about it. How were you able to get into the castle without the guards stopping you?”
“It was easy. The old man at the inn has some friends on the inside of the castle. So I was able to enter through the servants rear entrance. The three kids wanted to come and help but the old man whacked them over the head and told them to go back to their rooms,” replied Varbu.
“I don’t know how long we can keep doing this if they keep chasing us. In another week or two if we don’t get new supplies we’ll be in a tight situation when we enter the desert.”
“Shouldn’t we be nearing the border with Caidia soon?”
“Yeah, why do you ask?”
“I’m tired of running once we reach the border lets find a spot to ambush the crazy bastards chasing us,” suggested Varbu.
“That’s fine with me, let’s do that then,” said Akira agreeing with anything that would stop the enemy from chasing them.
The two continued to quickly travel towards the border for several days. Each day they traveled the temperature grew warmer and the cold winter air became a dry heat, and the grassy plains turned into the endless desert sand.
Akira picked an area with multiple medium sized sand dunes that allowed them to hide behind while they waited to launch their surprise attack.
They both hoped they could finish them off all at once so that they didn’t have to worry about pursuers anymore. Before they hid they made sure to erase their tracks in the sand.
Waiting for the enemy to appear allowed them to rest and regain some of their strength. Akira summoned Nox to help them in the upcoming fight.
This was the first time Nox had been summoned since he had been forcefully unsummoned back in the dungeon. He looked healthy enough, but Akira had no time to dwell over past events right now.
They only had to wait a few hours until a group of four heavily armored soldiers appeared near the dunes. They stopped where the tracks ended and were now trying to pick up the trail once again.
Nox was hiding on the right while Varbu was on the left leaving Akira in the middle.
Akira gave a silent hand signal to the other two to get ready as he stood up and walked between two dunes and stopped before a small depression in the ground in front of him.
The four knights searching for a trail stopped their search and turned to stare at Akira as soon as they saw movement. They stood there for several moments just staring at Akira making no movement or sound.
Without saying anything the four knights charged forward with their hands outstretched as if they wanted to give Akira a bear hug.
Akira took a firm stance and used the skill [cross attack] sending a large blue X towards the charging knights.
Either the knights didn’t feel any danger from the unusual attack or they decided to let it hit them believing that their iron armor could take it. The blue X hit two of the knights and was able to easily pierce through the armor severing a leg of one of the knights and the right arm of the second.
The two knights were silent and expressionless even after having a limb severed. They were left behind by the two undamaged knights but still continued to move towards Akira now one with a hop and the other with only one arm stretched out.
Blood was pouring out of their wounds, splashing onto the ground with every step and hop. The dry desert sand soaked it all up quickly.
The two undamaged knights reached Akira and lunged forward trying to grab onto him with their outstretched arms. This was the first time Akira was face to face with his attackers. What struck him as odd was their eyes were almost completely red, Akira had never seen someone with eyes like them before.
Using [Shield bash] Akira was able to knock their outstretched arms away from him and cause them to have a harder time keeping their footing.
Varbu and Nox used this chance to launch their surprise attack while they had the upper hand.
Varbu’s quarterstaff slammed into the chest of the heavily armored knight caving in the armor along with his chest causing the knight to be flung backward while silently coughing out gobs of blood.
The knight’s movement was stopped as he crashed into the knight behind him who was trying to hop forward causing both of them to fall to the ground into a mess each trying to get back up.
Nox latched onto the leg of the knight on the right and tried to bite through the metal but was only able to damage it and cause the knight to lose his footing and fall to the ground. Akira stepped forward and stabbed his sword into the crack between his helmet easily pricing the knight’s throat sending blood spurting everywhere.
Before he could move away to help Varbu the knight latched onto Akira’s leg with both arms trying to keep him there.
Akira hacked at the man’s arms with his sword until the arms went limp. The Knight still sat up and tried to headbutt Akira but received a [shield bash] to the face knocking him back onto the ground.
Nox went to work on attacking the knight letting Akira rush over to Varbu who was dealing with the three mortally wounded and maimed knights who were still trying to move towards Akira.
After several minutes of hacking and bashing, the four knights stopped to moving and were almost unrecognizable as humans due to the damage they received.
“What type of people are these crazy guys? They fought as if they only had one thing on their mind. They must have been on some type of drug to ignore the damage they received,” said Akira.
“This was my first time encountering something like this. Their eyes looked a bit odd to me,” said Varbu.
“Ughh, let’s find somewhere to rest so we can get some sleep,” said Akira exhausted from the fight.
The Giegle riders arrived In Vania in nearly half the time it would take to travel by foot or horse.
They had been secretly watching the magic guild’s building to see if there was anything suspicious going on and found that it was strangely empty with no one entering or leaving it. There were multiple patrols of city guards that guarded the building all day.
Sensing something was wrong they started to ask the citizens about the magic guild and were stunned to hear that the magic guild was shut down due to it having angered the queen, causing all of the people who worked in the building to either be killed or imprisoned in the castle’s dungeon.
From the few nobles they talked to they were able to learn that a person named Akira who fit the description given to them by the grand master, had been in the city but they had not seen him for several weeks to months. It was said that the queen was also searching for Akira sending out multiple soldiers across the entire country to look for him.
After learning all they could they left Vania to continue their search for Akira.