vinebar

Lady Seraya’s Last Stand
Author: Hawk Shadowharper

vinebar

     The war was not going well. Soldiers from Relphana kept breaking past Thrad’s southern borders and making their way towards Castle Sulryn. However, every time they started to make progress, the Thradian forces would push back quickly and swiftly. Sadly there were many losses but the battle had to continue to protect the King, Queen and Princess.

     The Thradian army was lead by Lady Seraya Shadowharper. On the battlefield her long golden hair would seem to glow as she led her men against the invaders. Despite being a woman, the entire kingdom regarded her to be the strongest protector of the royal family.

     For her rank, if she’s not dressed in her deep red and gold uniform, Lady Seraya is a rather short and willowy woman. She moves with a grace more unto an elf, not a human. Her hair falls straight down and ends at the small of her back, two narrow bangs hang in front of her ears and tightly braided so they barely touch her shoulders. Her eyes are the shade of a clear sky and her skin pale and clear.

     It was such a surprise when early one rainy morning, Lady Seraya was summoned back to the castle. Something terrible had happened, she was told. “Will you return, my lady,” Sir Henidy asked as Lady Seraya prepared to travel back to Castle Sulryn.

     “I do not know. If I am still breathing I will make every attempt to return.” The armored commander frowned behind his mustache and his leader smiled faintly up at him. “Until then, I leave the battle in your capable hands. You will be well recognized for bringing victory to Thrad.”


     When the sun was high above, a deep brown horse carrying a female rider could be seen racing northeast towards the castle barely visible in the distance. With the Light-Eyed Witch missing from the battlefield, the Relphanian soldiers thought victory would now be easy, and Prince Warkalor boasted as such in his daily message to the people of his kingdom. However, the outcome of the battle would not be in his favor, but that tale is not to be told here. Instead it focuses on Lady Seraya and the final quest she would ever attempt in this lifetime.

     When the sun was starting to kiss the peaks of the mountains visible north of the castle, the large drawbridge started to drop to allow Lady Seraya to enter. Within just a few minutes her horse had been taken to the stables and Lady Seraya was kneeling before King Vesath Sulryn and Queen Darara Sulryn.

     “Rise, Seraya,” the Queen said kindly and the paladin rose to her feet. The King, however, could not keep his voice sweet.

     “Where in Ceipheed’s name have you been, we sent that messenger at sundown yesternight!” A firm hand on his forearm from his Queen kept him from starting on a long chewing out he had been saving all day.

     “I apologize, my Lord, but I only received your message this morning and rode here as quickly as I could.” The apology helped to drain a bit of the angry color from the King’s face, but his voice didn’t change.

     “Well, in either case the deed is done! Now we’ll never get Princess Buria back! Why, when I was Prince and there was a crisis, I’d have 50 men at my beck and call...” He started to pace and rant, and Lady Seraya politely tuned him out to listen to the Queen.

     “You see, Seraya, Buria was kidnapped just after dinner last night. The guards say they saw the Crimson Dragon hovering out her bedroom window, and then took off to Mount Onyx.”


     A week’s journey away on horseback, among the mountains that make up Thrad’s northern border stands Mount Onyx. Legend says that the mountain was once an active volcano, spewing fire and ash high into the air. The name came from the black color of the ejected ash that turned the entire mountain permanently black. Even at high noon the mountain stood on the horizon like a dark blot of ink.

     Rumor has it that there’s a cave at the top of Mount Onyx. The entrance is difficult to find, and inside is where the Crimson Dragon lives near to the core of the dormant volcano.


      “That is where I imagine the Dragon took the Princess,” the Queen finished saying to her military commander. The small blonde nodded once.

     “My Queen, will I have help on this quest?” She watched as the taller woman shook her head sadly.

     “With the war raging on the southern front, we have no one to spare, Seraya.”

     “Very well... I will set out when the dawn breaks, my Queen.” Lady Seraya bowed low, then turned on her heel and marched out to prepare.


Day 1


     With her military uniform hung up, Lady Seraya had donned her traveling outfit. A white top ended an inch below her breasts with a band of blue. The material was loose enough to not constrain her motions but tight enough to not get in the way in battle and lightly outlined the shape of her small chest. White riding pants were tucked into dark purple boots. Around her waist a black belt held several small pockets for holding objects.

     Fastened around her neck was a long flowing blue cape. On both hands were leather gloves with blue and white symbols on the backs of her hands. On her left arm were a round blue shoulder pad and a blue gauntlet, three times across as the width of Lady Seraya’s own arm and served as her shield.

     At her belt was her sword, a green gem at the end of the hilt and sitting at the end of a complex weaving that helped the user keep her grip. Lady Seraya’s bangs had had their braiding undone and hung loosely to her waist, small bands wrapped around them at the middle and another at the back of her head, putting her long hair in a loose ponytail underneath where it remained braided.

     Just as the sun rose the drawbridge lowered once more and Lady Seraya rode out at full gallop towards the north where the first rays of light attempted to illuminate Mount Onyx. Lady Seraya’s plan was to stop in the evening in the village Rinasu, continue on in the morning towards Coddard which was another day and a half’s traveling from Rinasu, then from there one more day’s traveling to the base of the mountain.


     As she rode that day, she started formulating solutions to whatever the Crimson Dragon might do, either to her or the Princess. Her military mind had no qualms about being pessimistic about her chances in a one-on-one fight with the dragon, but that didn’t make her slow her horse so as to delay the inevitable.

     She was so focused that she was surprised when the sun began to set. Rinasu should have been reached, or at least visible considering how far and fast she had traveled. Not certain how Rinasu could have vanished, she continued riding even as the night sky darkened and filled with stars. When she could no longer see the trail, she finally stopped her horse and climbed off.

     The lay of the land was correct, and if she didn’t know better she should’ve been right next to, if not inside Rinasu. She started to set up camp for the night when a tingling in the back of her mind told her she was being watched. Slowly glancing around, she found herself looking into a pair of glowing dark blue eyes.

     “Who goes there,” she called, left hand casually falling to the hilt of her sword. The response surprised her, especially since it came from a feminine voice.

     “I hope a friend, beautiful traveler.”

     “Your hope might be improved if I could see you, then.” There was a quiet whoosh and Lady Seraya tensed up, ready to block an incoming attack. Instead, a shapely female form appeared out of the darkness of the trees.

     At first she appeared to Seraya to be a normal human woman but that quickly changed as she got a closer look. The stranger had bright red hair that cupped her face, a black tie that fell between her naked breasts, and a tight blue thong. On her legs was a pair of black high heels and blue pantyhose that ended at the top of her thighs.

     “And who are you, lovely,” the woman asked as her eyes trailed down Lady Seraya’s body and back up. The blonde was not amused.

     “I am Seraya Shadowharper from the Castle Sulryn.” The redhead licked her lips as Seraya spoke, as if tasting her name. “Who, then, are you?”

     “Yours.” The paladin sighed, already sick of the constant innuendos from the stranger.

     “I meant what is your name.”

     “Kevoyo,” the redhead whispered sensually then started slinking closer to the blonde woman. “So what is a lovely woman like yourself doing all alone in the woods?” Seraya tensed again when Kevoyo’s hand rested lightly on her bare stomach.

     “I was traveling to Rinasu but it seems to be further along the trail than I expected.” The hand at her sword tightened around the hilt, as Kevoyo was much too intimate to be safe. When the redhead’s hand started trailing upward over the paladin’s pale skin, Seraya’s right hand shot out and gripped Kevoyo’s wrist tightly. The redhead gasped at the vice-like hold on her hand and the air around them shimmered.

     When things became solid once more, Lady Seraya, her horse, and Kevoyo suddenly appeared in the middle of Rinasu’s marketplace, causing several villagers to cry out in surprise. The sudden appearance of their kingdom’s best military leader wasn’t the main cause for surprise, however. The scantily-clad Kevoyo was the center of attention, since she had gained transparent blue wings, a wide golden halo and a tattoo of a yellow fish on her right buttock.

     Seraya glared at the angel and angrily let go of her, silently leading her horse away to the village’s inn and stables. Kevoyo pouted and chased after her, “Wait, Seraya, I didn’t mean anything bad! Honest! Seraya!”


     That night, after her horse had shelter for the night and she had gotten a meal at the Rinasu tavern, Seraya was displeasured to find that Kevoyo kept following her around. “Alright, no more games,” the blonde said flatly when Kevoyo had followed her into her inn room and closed the door behind them.

     “What do you mean,” the angel asked pleasantly with a wide smile, even as Seraya turned on her with a frown.

     “Who are you and from whom do you take your orders?” The second part caught Kevoyo off-guard and her smile melted into a thoughtful expression.

     “I’m Kevoyo... and I take my orders from nobody!” She smiled cheerfully once more, subconsciously moving closer to the paladin.

     “Any closer and I’ll not be responsible for my actions.” The warning was cold and made Kevoyo shiver visibly.

     “Why do you dislike me so, Seraya?”

     “Because you had me under your illusion spell, hiding Rinasu from me.” She crossed her arms and despite being a couple inches shorter than the redhead, made an even more imposing impression on the angel.

     “Oh no, no, I didn’t mean to worry you! I just wanted to be alone with you,” Kevoyo responded with a sad expression, looking like a kicked puppy. Even so, she moved closer, standing toe to toe and looking down into the firm sky blue eyes. “Is that so bad?”

     “Yes, it is. You deceived me, so I don’t and won’t trust you.” She started to say something else when Kevoyo leaned down and mashed her lips against Seraya’s, kissing her. Shocked only for a moment, the blonde shoved her away with an angry flush in her face, “Get out of my sight!” When the angel saw the paladin’s magic pooling in her right hand, she made a hasty exit and went right through the closed door.

     Seraya watched the door for several moments, fists clenched; then she wiped her mouth on the back of her leather glove.


Day 2


     Seraya urged her horse forward from the stable after preparing for her second day of her journey to Mount Onyx. The sun was barely over the horizon and she was leaving early so that she wouldn’t have to camp on the road twice. The next town she was heading to, Coddard, was a day and a half’s journey away.

     The wind swirled around her as she rode, long tied hair flying behind her as she went. She had almost forgotten about the red-haired angel when she felt an unwelcome warmth around her waist. “You left without me,” Kevoyo cried. She was sitting behind Seraya on the horse, arms tight around the paladin’s bare stomach.

     “I told you I didn’t want to ever see you again, now let go of me,” Seraya called back, bringing her horse to a stop. The angel made no motion to remove her arms from the blonde. “Kevoyo, I don’t want to hurt you—“

     “Oh! Why don’t you love me? Aren’t I pretty?” Seraya sighed as the angel started to sniffle, ready to break down in tears.

     “You are very pretty but I hardly know you, how could I love someone I’ve only just met? Besides, our first meeting was in quite unfavorable circumstances, I still don’t appreciate you tricking me like that.” Kevoyo sniffled, rubbing her face against the back of Seraya’s neck.

     “I told you I didn’t mean anything bad, I just wanted to get to know you better,” she said quietly, hands trailing up to the white material covering Seraya’s chest. She then cringed with two gloved hands tore her own away.

     “Do not do that ever again,” the blonde said lowly through gritted teeth.


     There was an uneasy silence as they traveled, Kevoyo flying alongside the galloping horse. It didn’t stop the angel from admiring how the blonde woman was filled with such grace even on horseback, however.

     When they turned a bend in the path, a figure standing in the way forced Seraya to slow her horse down quickly. The woman was obviously another angel, with large transparent blue wings as tall as she was. She had thick green hair that curls around her left thigh where it’s longest, and soft purple eyes.

     Unlike Kevoyo, this angel was wearing a dark red vest with black outline. She also had on black gloves, black panties with a red outline, and red pantyhose that ended at the top her thighs similarly to the first angel’s.

     The expression on her face, however, was not very angel-like. In fact it was quite angry and jealous. “What in the seven Hells are you doing with my Kevoyo?!”

     “Ratidesi! What are you doing here?” The more modestly clothed angel ignored her and glared up at Seraya.

     “Ah, that is—“ She didn’t have a chance to explain and ducked quickly when Ratidesi jumped into the air, leg sweeping through where the paladin’s head was just moments before.

     “You demon, stealing my Kevoyo away!”

     “Now see here, I stole no one!” Worried about being trapped on her horse, Seraya descended quickly and looked at the green-haired angel. Just as she was forming a fireball in her hands. “Oh.”

     The tree behind where she was standing exploded into flames, causing the horse to whiney in fear and take off running down the trail towards Coddard. Unable to do much about that at the moment, Seraya moved quickly to behind another tree. “This is a big mistake, I haven’t stolen Kevoyo!”

     “Oh please don’t hurt the face,” the redhead called unhelpfully.

     “Please, let’s be reasonable, Ratidesi,” Seraya shouted from behind her tree, unwilling to draw her sword unless absolutely necessary.

     “Reasonable?! You’re the one that took my Kevoyo from me!” Seraya dived away as the tree exploded behind her, wincing as splinters embedded themselves deep through her cloak and bit into her back.

     “Ask her yourself, I’ve been trying to make her leave her alone!”

     “What? You don’t think she’s the perfect vision of loveliness? That’s an insult!” Seraya groaned as she jumped back from where a fireball scorched the ground.

     “Kevoyo, if you could change her mind somehow I’d really appreciate it,” the blonde called as Ratidesi chased her.

     “You’ll forgive me for tricking you,” Kevoyo asked, hesitant.

     “Yes, I’ll forgive you for yesterday!” That was enough and Kevoyo squealed happily before disappearing. Before she could worry about being abandoned, Seraya saw the redhead reappear and dive at Ratidesi. The taller angel shouted in surprise and immediately after, both disappeared.

     Not believing her luck and not looking back, Seraya quickly started jogging towards Coddard to look for her horse.


     It only took two hours to catch up to her horse, which had stopped at a stream with a bridge over it. She had planned on stopping there anyway, so after getting on once more, took off towards Coddard. The trip was peaceful, much to Seraya’s relief, who hoped she wouldn’t be seeing those angels again.


     Without the distraction of Kevoyo and Ratidesi, Seraya got within her goal of a half-day’s travel from Coddard before setting up camp for the night. As she ate some of the food she had packed, she looked up at the silhouette of Mount Onyx outlined in moonlight. “I’m coming, Buria.”


Day 3


     The first thing Seraya noticed as she started to wake up was a body on top of her. When she opened her eyes a little and saw a flash of red hair, she groaned mentally. “Kevoyo, I thought you were with Ratidesi,” she said quietly. The paladin bit back a sigh when Kevoyo burst into tears once more, face buried against the blonde’s shoulder.

     “I was but she was so mean to me! She... she called me a slut!” Seraya kept any comments to herself. “I was so upset I ran away and came looking for you, but you were sleeping so here we are.” She sniffed, drying her eyes on the paladin’s shirt and not noticing the blonde’s tense expression.


     After a short breakfast, the unusual pair continued on towards Mount Onyx. To Seraya’s relief, however, the angel seemed to have lost interest in her. The journey to Coddard was quiet and peaceful, and Seraya had started to decide how she might deal with the Crimson Dragon when the town they were heading to came into view around a bend in the trail.

     Shouts of panic caused Seraya to urge her horse to run faster. When they got near the middle of the village they discovered why. Many of the villager’s homes had been pillaged, chests and dressers broken and overturned, their contents spilling out. Even as the paladin watched, another chest was thrown out of a second-story window and shattered open on the ground.

     Frowning to herself, Seraya jumped off her horse and moved towards the entrance of the home that just had been ransacked and shouted up, “You there, show yourself!” From above came an answering shout in a strong, feminine voice.

     “Do you have it?!” Seraya glanced at Kevoyo in confusion then called back.

     “Have what?”

     “My insignia, it’s here! I know it! I know it!”

     “That doesn’t mean you can just go through peoples’ things.”

     “But they took it from me, I can take it back!” Seraya sighed quietly and started walking into the house so she could at least get the strange woman away from the building. As soon as she stepped inside though, a foot flew at her out of nowhere and kicked her hard in the chest, sending the blonde sprawling back and landing hard in the middle of the main road.

     “Seraya,” Kevoyo called, instantly at the paladin’s side. Seraya grunted softly as she climbed back to her feet.

     “I’m alright,” she said absently, glaring at the woman who was standing in the doorway. She had several dark green bangs framing her face and wild green hair pulled back into a loose ponytail. She was wearing a tight tiny blue top, the zipper straining over her deep cleavage. There was also a short green loincloth around her hips and black tights that stopped at the top of her thighs while disappearing into her white boots. On her left thigh was a black belt holding what looked to be a short wand with a large emerald stone on the end.

     “You have it, don’t you,” the woman accused Seraya.

     “I do not know what you speak of. Who are you?”

     “I don’t need to tell you, but since you’re stronger than the others I will anyway.” The blonde resisted rolling her eyes. “I am Mou Say, and I want my insignia back!”

     “Now just a moment, how do you know your insignia is here?” So focused Seraya was on the fighter that she didn’t have time to pull Kevoyo back.

     “Ooh, you’re so strong and handsome,” the red-haired angel purred as she stroked Mou’s arm. The fighter looked at Kevoyo confused, then her eyed widened when the angel leaned up and kissed her.

     “Harlot!” Mou shouted and kicked upward. Her foot planted against the redhead’s bare chest and pushed her back, the angel falling back to the roadway with a whine.

     “But—“ She didn’t have a chance to defend herself before Mou pounced on top of her, starting to punch her in the face, shouting each time.

     “Whore! Slut! Witch!” Mou was about to land another punch on the weeping angel’s face when two strong hands gripped her wrist and threw her off.

     “Now listen, Mou, that was hardly called for—“ Seraya quickly lifted her left arm and the fighter’s kick landed square in the middle. A faint crack appeared on the shield, and the paladin looked down in shock at it, then back up at Mou. She then quickly ducked, Mou’s other foot cutting through the air where her head had been.

     Regretting finding herself fighting the woman, Seraya drew her sword and raised it to parry off Mou’s wand. It looked slim but the sound of the two weapons striking each other was loud and echoed up and down the street. The paladin learned too late to always keep her eyes on the fighter’s feet as she was kicked once more, wind knocked from her lungs as she stumbled back.

     Mou gave a battle cry and charged once more, moving too fast for the blonde to deflect. The emerald orb smashed into the side of her face and blood flew from Seraya’s mouth as she fell back from the blow, dazed. “Tell me where my insignia is!” Seraya groaned and rolled back as Mou kicked her in the stomach once more, panting for breath. As she did, she gripped the sword tighter, a green glow seeping from between her fingers.

     The fighter gripped her hands together and brought her arms up, ready to bring them down on the back of the blonde’s head when Seraya looked up with glowing eyes, throwing out her palm. An orb of green energy shot from her hand and slammed into Mou’s chest, sending her flying back. She hit the opposite wall and fell to the ground on her hands and knees, shaking her head.

     “Oh wow,” Kevoyo whispered, the bruises on her face missing as she watched the fight wide-eyed. Mou lifted her head, glaring daggers at the paladin who looked much worse, trickle of blood running down from the corner of her mouth. She leapt to her feet once more, lifting her wand to attack but another orb of magic threw her back. When she hit the ground this time, she didn’t get back up.

     Seraya watched the unconscious fighter warily for several moments, then grunted as she pushed to her feet and sheathed her sword. “Oh Seraya, that was amazing,” Kevoyo gushed as she went back to the paladin’s side. Seraya ignored her, limping over to Mou and gathering the green-haired woman in her arms.

     Scared villagers looked out as Seraya walked unsteadily to the center of town, calling out thanks and offers of rewards for defeating the fighter. She didn’t answer them and put Mou’s neck and wrists into the stocks, then closed them and put the lock in place. How the villagers dealt with the woman wasn’t up to her, but she wouldn’t be able to vandalize any more homes that way.

     The last thing Seraya heard before she collapsed against two warm, soft pillows was that she was welcome to rest at the inn, and that she could have as much food as she wanted.


Day 4


     “... Kevoyo.” The angel looked up, warm hands resting on Seraya’s stomach.

     “Yes?”

     “Give me my clothing.”

     “Just a little longer?”

     “No!” The angel pouted.


     Seraya headed downstairs, dressed fully and feeling much better. Throughout the night Kevoyo had healed her injuries, and besides Mou trapped in the stocks, there was no evidence they had been in a battle with the fighter.

     Taking up the innkeeper’s offer, she and Kevoyo sat down to a large breakfast. Having gotten used to daily rations while out on the front line, such a generous meal was a real treat to the paladin.


     Back on the road again, Seraya picked up their traveling pace as the clouds overhead darkened, becoming loaded with rain. “Uhm, is it okay if I ask you something, Seraya?” The blonde merely nodded. “Why are you going to Mount Onyx?” She looked up thoughtfully at the mountain, which was much larger than when she started her journey, then glanced at Kevoyo flying alongside her horse.

     “My Lord and Lady’s daughter, Princess Buria has been taken captive by the Crimson Dragon that lives in the mountain. I’m going to attempt to save her.” The angel considered this.

     “So she gets kidnapped and you willingly go after her, even if it’s a dragon holding her?” Seraya nodded in response. Kevoyo pushed out her lower lip in a jealous pout. “I wish I had a beautiful knight in shining armor to come to my rescue.” Seraya rolled her eyes as she looked back towards the mountain in front of her.

     “Kevoyo, may I ask something too?” She didn’t look to see the redhead’s response. “Do you ever look at males? Just curious...”


     It did not take long for the clouds to fill themselves with water. Only half way towards noon, the sky burst open and rain started pouring down, soaking the angel and paladin in a matter of moments. Without speaking, Seraya pulled her horse to a halt and jumped off, pulling out the rods and cloths for her shelter.

     Kevoyo watched though shivered miserably, arms crossed over her naked breasts. She stood nearby as the paladin bound the metal rods together with rope then laid the cloth over them, making a small but waterproof shelter. When the blonde girl disappeared underneath it, Kevoyo quickly moved to the small entrance, looking inside with a sad, wet face.

     “There’s another set of rods you can use, Kevoyo,” Seraya said without looking up, rolling down her bedding on the wet grass.

     “But I don’t know how, and you already have this one up, Seraya,” the angel pleaded through chattering teeth. “Please, I promise I’ll be good!” That particular statement didn’t make Seraya feel much better but she hesitantly nodded, letting the redhead in to share the small space.

     “Get undressed.” The angel looked up in surprise, even as Seraya was peeling her wet clothing off. “If you stay damp you’ll get ill,” the paladin explained as she kicked her boots off, dumping the water out of them.

     “And I thought you were beginning to warm up to me,” Kevoyo said with another pout, pushing what little clothing she had down her shapely legs.


     By the time noon had rolled around and they were eating what road rations hadn’t gotten soaked, Kevoyo was sick of the silence. Seraya had lain there with her eyes closed for the hours between their setting up camp and having their midday meal. Determined to not sit through more silence for however long the rain lasted, Kevoyo attempted to start a conversation. “So what do you do at Castle Sulryn?” The large stone fortress had little interest to the angel, but she figured the paladin would like to talk about herself.

     “Well... I am King and Queen Sulryn’s commander-in-chief, I lead the kingdom’s military operations.”

     “Oh my, that sounds like a powerful position.” The blonde nodded a little, already on her back with her eyes closed once more.

     “Yes, but with great power comes great responsibility. If the kingdom loses a battle, it’s because of a fault of mine. Because of a kidnapping, I have to attempt a rescue.” Seraya paused a moment then opened her eyes, turning her head to look at the naked angel. “What about you? Is there some sort of angel hierarchy or anything?”

     Kevoyo shook her head, “Not like your military or anything; I just have divine powers, that doesn’t mean I have to spread gospel or convert anyone.” Seraya kept a comment to herself about how a topless angel would have an easy time of converting people.

     “What about you and Ratidesi?” The redhead grinned.

     “Just a jealous ex.”


Day 5


     The next morning, Seraya was dressed again as overnight their clothing had dried. Kevoyo, on the other hand, opted to remain naked much to the paladin’s exasperation. The first half of the trip was peaceful and they made up for lost time, in sight of the base of Mount Onyx when the sounds of battle echoed from not far up ahead on the trail.

     Seraya urged her horse to a stop and shushed the angel, listening closely. Shouts and negotiating pleads of what sounded like a female human, and high shrill giggles broken by senseless taunts. “Goblins.”


     In a small clearing, a ring of grinning goblins had surrounded their prey. Each of the six creatures was about three feet tall with long flat ears, beady black eyes, huge clawed hands and dark green skin. Every goblin also had on a loincloth and a crude dagger made from sharpened rock. Their grins revealed brown teeth and their stench was strong enough to wither flowers just by walking near.

     Standing in the middle of the circle was a tall human woman with chocolate-colored eyes and brown hair that ended in-between her shoulder blades. She was wearing a tan sleeveless dress that had slits all the way up both legs, and tan-colored gloves that reached just below her elbows.

     In her tense hands she had a slim sword. Not liking the situation she saw once she and Kevoyo had gotten closer, Seraya silently drew her sword from the sheath.

     “Just return it and there won’t be any problems,” the dark-haired woman called out, which only made the goblins cackle louder. “Come on now, I’m giving you one last chance to surrender—“ Her voice was drowned out when all six goblins screeched and charged.

     Seraya cursed and called over her shoulder as she ran towards the outnumbered woman, “Stay put this time, Kevoyo!” From the fighter’s reaction, she appeared to have expected the uneven fight and was holding her own. Using her own sword and high speed, she avoided three of the goblins’ swings and sliced their weapons apart. Immediately they ran off terrified without weapons, and ran into the blonde.

     “I don’t like goblins,” Seraya said quietly just before an explosion of magic erupted under the goblins’ feet. Before the lifeless bodies hit the ground, she was on her way again.

     One of the remaining goblins slashed clumsily at the brown-haired woman’s leg and received a lethal kick to the forehead instead. Before she could regain her balance, a second goblin latched onto her leg and bit down hard into the soft flesh. A scream echoed through the woods and sent a shiver down Kevoyo’s spine.

     “Hold on,” Seraya shouted as her sword flashed, finishing off the third goblin that was almost ready to throw his crude weapon at the screaming woman’s head. He fell limply beside the one that was kicked and was promptly ignored.

     The last goblin continued to bite with all the strength he could muster. Dirty claws dug into the woman’s thigh, thin streams of blood rolling down her leg. Thinking quickly, Seraya cringed as she put her gloved hand on the quivering goblin’s back. His eyes opened wide, filled with a green fire then all life left him, falling to the ground like a rag doll.

     “Seraya! Seraya, what did you do to him,” Kevoyo asked as she ran out from her hiding spot. The paladin poked the body with her toe as Kevoyo insisted the strange woman stand still so she could take care of the bite wound. The blonde didn’t answer the question.

     “Thank you for the assistance, Lady Shadowharper,” the woman said through gritted teeth, the angel running her hands up and down the injured leg. The paladin nodded, sliding her sword back into place.

     “If you already know my name then I am at a disadvantage.” She chuckled.

     “Of course you don’t remember me. Why would the Commander-in-Chief remember a random thief she arrested three years ago?” This made Seraya tense up and quickly reach for her sword once more, in case the former criminal decided to attack. When the strange woman noticed, she laughed and quickly continued, “No, please, Lady Shadowharper, don't worry. I'm not mad at you... in fact, you taught me something important: to ask permission before I take something.”

     Kevoyo paused from where she was rubbing her face up and down the woman’s healed thigh. “You’re a thief?”

     “No, now I’m a treasure hunter.”


     The rest of the day was spent finishing the journey to Mount Onyx. “So why were those goblins after you, Shyny?” The rogue smiled, brushing a lock of brown hair out of her face.

     “Actually, I was after them.” She looked over to the angel flying beside them, sitting behind Seraya on the horse. “They took something from me, so I wanted it back.” A small red jewel, which seemed to glow from an inner light, suddenly was in her hand and being shown to Kevoyo.

     “Wow, I didn’t know Fire Opals still existed.” The jewel disappeared.

     “They don’t, it only has the appearance of a Fire Opal.”

     “So, if you’re a treasure hunter, why were the goblins able to take it from you?” This left Shyny sputtering and Seraya fighting back the urge to smile.

     “Tell us, Shyny, what you’re doing here in the shadow of Mount Onyx.” The dark-haired woman regained her composure and looked back to the blonde she was sitting behind.

     “I’m going to the mountain.”

     “Oh?”

     “I’m sure if the Crimson Dragon is asked nicely, he’ll give up a little bit of his treasure.”


     When the ground couldn’t be seen under the full moon, the party knew they had reached the base of Mount Onyx. Seraya helped Shyny down then climbed from her horse, letting him rest. They wouldn’t be able to use the animal on the mountain face. The rogue and angel unrolled their beddings beside each other and the paladin tried not to roll her eyes as she went to retrieve firewood.


     After a quick meal, the blonde rolled over away from the pair. “You know, Shyny, I couldn’t help but notice how smooth your legs were.”

     “Well, thank you Kevoyo. I’m glad you like them.” Seraya closed her eyes tight, forcing herself to fall asleep quickly as to not hear the rest of the conversation.


Day 6


     “Come on, what’s taking so long!”

     “Kevoyo, we can’t fly like you can, slow down!”

     “I knew I should’ve mentioned I’m scared of heights earlier—AAH!”

     “Got you!”

     “Hey, are you two okay back there?”

     “Just a loose rock, we’re fine.”

     “... you might be.”


     “Wow. It’s so pretty,” Kevoyo commented quietly. The entire kingdom lay out before the three women standing on the rim of a wide crater. The volcano wasn’t completely dormant, as all were sweating from the heat.

     “You know you both can turn back now,” Seraya noted quietly, already turning her back on the vision of Thrad and searching for her next goal.

     “No way, I want to meet this Princess I’ve heard so much about,” Kevoyo answered with a big grin. She had refused to get dressed again so was still very much nude.

     “I’m not turning back either, at least until I meet the Crimson Dragon,” Shyny added. The blonde took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

     “Very well. Then how do we get into the Dragon’s lair?” There was silence for several moments as they all looked around.

     “You mean you don’t know,” the angel asked and Seraya shook her head.

     “So we’ll have to look. Kevoyo, you fly in there and see if the entrance is inside the volcano. Shyny and I will go around the rim and search. If you find anything, shout.” The redhead didn’t like the idea immediately.

     “But it’s warm in there!” She made a point of wiping her sweaty forehead.

     “You’re the only one that can fly, so go.” The steel in the paladin’s voice made a shiver run down Kevoyo’s spine, and she spread her wings, disappearing down into the dormant volcano crater. “You go counterclockwise, Shyny. Same thing applies, if you find anything, shout.” The rouge nodded and they parted ways, looking for a cave entrance.

     It wasn’t long before complaints were shouted from the angel flying inside the volcano. “Seraya, this isn’t fair! I’m sweating between my breasts and I can’t scratch them!” The blonde did her best to ignore them, and was rewarded soon after when she came across a set of stairs dug into the rock of the mountain.

     “Hey! I’ve found something,” Seraya called out to Shyny and Kevoyo, then looked back. The end of the stairway was invisible, walls black as far as she could see. If it was the lair, the Crimson Dragon would have to have the ability to change its shape. The stairs were sized more for a human, not a large creature.

     If that were true, the party would need to be prepared for anything. Kevoyo landed behind Seraya and panted, skin shining with sweat. “Don’t tell me we have to go someplace warm again,” she whined, batting her wings and fanning herself. Once Shyny got back to where the other two women were waiting, the blonde turned grim.

     “Last chance to turn back. I won’t have any less respect for either of you if you don’t follow me.” She raised her left hand, palm facing upward and made a green orb appear over it. She also drew her sword from its sheath, then, not looking back, she started to descend into the darkness with her magic as a light source. Kevoyo and Shyny looked wordlessly at each other then followed Seraya.


     At the bottom of what seemed like endless stairs, the heat had risen a dozen degrees or more. None of the party complained, all of them tense and expecting to be suddenly facing off against the Dragon at any moment. Before Seraya was a short hallway and what appeared to be a room lit with torches. She cautiously entered it when she didn’t notice any living creatures.

     The room was large and lit with several torches resting in holders on the walls. There was lavish furniture everywhere, sitting pieces and tables the likes of which weren’t seen anywhere else in the kingdom, not even Castle Sulryn. “Things the Dragon’s looted, I imagine,” Seraya noted quietly as the magical orb disappeared. After searching the whole room visually, the paladin continued towards a doorway in the back.

     The next room was just as large, and also had torches and a doorway leading to a third room. Instead of living space, however, there were great piles of valuables. Gold coins, pottery, jewelry, weapons and every other type of treasure one could imagine. “Oh wow! With all of this, I’m sure the Dragon wouldn’t mind letting me have a little,” Shyny said happily. She didn’t get a response, however, and the three continued towards the far door.

     As they got closer, however, Seraya threw up her free hand and indicated to the others to stop. They fell silent, listening nervously. In the next room, two feminine voices could just be heard. One Seraya recognized as Princess Buria. The other she guessed was another captive, but the tones weren’t those of frightened prisoners. Instead, they were more along the lines of... lovers.

     “Stay here,” Seraya whispered. She silently moved forward and carefully peeked through the doorway. From what she could see, the room was the last in a row and furnished as a bedroom. There were mirrors everywhere and a few sets of rather small sleeping clothes tossed about randomly. In the middle of the room was a large canopy bed and the image of two female figures intertwined sitting inside.

     It wasn’t the fact it was two women that worried Seraya, it was the fact that one had a large pair of demonic wings coming from her back. The Crimson Dragon, it appeared, in human-like form. That explained to the paladin why the cave entrance could be so small. She silently made her way back to where Shyny and Kevoyo were waiting and said in a hushed tone, “The Dragon appears to be in the shape of a demonic woman.” This perked Kevoyo’s interest, evident by how her expression lightened up.

     “Is the princess alright,” the dark-haired woman asked.

     “Yes, though she appears to have been seduced by the Dragon.” The paladin ignored how the angel’s expression changed with that statement. “She may not be willing to leave, but my duty here is clear: get Buria away from the Dragon with any necessary force.” She thought furiously for a moment, and then continued, “The Dragon will probably attack immediately, but there’s no telling what form it will take. As soon as it does, you two get to the Princess and get her out of here. I’ll hold the Dragon off as long as I can.”

     “Wait. Seraya, I’ll help you fight the Dragon.” Shyny held up her hand, stopping the blonde before she could start to protest. “It’s too much for you alone, so Kevoyo can get the Princess and you and I will hold off Crimson.” Seraya sighed quietly then nodded, agreeing with the rogue’s plan.

     “I have a question,” Kevoyo whispered. “Is the Princess cute?”


     Seraya walked in first, the other two women to her sides and slightly behind her. “Crimson!” The couple on the bed froze then there was a deep and angry feminine voice calling back.

     “Who intrudes on my home,” the Dragon asked darkly from behind the nearly opaque curtains. Her shadow moved over the drapery then she jumped out of bed, looking at the three women. It might've been an effect of having her blue and black fleshy wings stretched out to their full length, but Crimson appeared to be taller, more muscular, and more shapely than all the others.

     She glared at Seraya and the knight's party with gold-colored eyes. Messy red bangs shadowed the rest of her face while large brown ram horns curled out from the top of her head. Triangle markings, two each on both sides of her jaw, marked her as not being in her true form. "Wait, stop!" The other female voice called to the dragon as she slid out from the bed as well, making herself visible.

     Princess Buria barely reached the dragon's shoulder, her straight shoulder-length blue hair pulled back into a ponytail by a thin red ribbon. She also had three wide bangs, two to the sides of her face and the third covering one of her sea green eyes. Like the dragon, she was naked. "Do you know these people," the powerful redhead muttered, glaring at Shyny, Seraya, and Kevoyo in turn. The last made a quiet sound of fright and ducked out of sight behind the paladin.

     "I know one of them," Buria replied, frowning as she looked at the kingdom's general. "What are you doing here?" The tone was not of a kidnapped figure of royalty, it was of an annoyed lover who was just interrupted.

     "I'm here to return you to the castle, Princess Buria."

     "Hmph... my parents got you from the front line and sent you after me?"

     "That's right."

     "Fools." Seraya's frown deepened.

     "Lady Buria..." A low grumble brought an end to the conversation as Crimson reminded everyone of her presense.

     "You're not taking her away from me, human, nobody is!" The dragon crouched a bit as she prepared to attack, hands flexing. The paladin raised her sword, the two glaring at each other.

     "Wait! Wait just a minute!" Shyny moved between the two ready combatants. "Crimson, I have something to ask." The redhead looked suspicious but made no move to stop the brunette from continuing. "Can I have a little of your treasure?"

     The stone walls shook with a roar just before Crimson lunged at Seraya and Shyny. Two swords were swung at the dragon, and two swords were pushed back along with their wielders by the sheer strength of the human-shaped dragon. Seeing the fight had started, Kevoyo quickly made her way around the room towards the concerned princess.

     Whenever the dragon's hands were deflected, the swords sung like they had struck metal. Knowing it would take more than a simple blade to distract Crimson enough to give Kevoyo time, Seraya started pooling her magic in her offhand. Sensing the stronger attack coming, the dragon left Shyny alone for a moment to concentrate on the paladin. One strong hand blocked the sword while the second blurred, slamming into Seraya's chest. The paladin, the wind knocked from her lungs, stumbled back and collapsed to one knee. Her shirt was slashed open, three thin cuts starting to bleed between her breasts.

     When Crimson started concentrating on Seraya, Shyny was quick to act as well. Seemingly out of thin air the red jewel she had nearly lost to the goblins was in her hand once more. She had been lucky, Kevoyo had realized it was indeed a real fire opal, and either the royal knight hadn't sensed it was, or hadn't noticed. Fire opals were extremely rare because of their power, and that power Shyny was counting on.

     The small round gem started glowing while Shyny focused. If she was fast enough, this battle could be over. She wasn't fast enough. Having counted on a couple more seconds while the dragon fought Seraya, she was dismayed when she saw the hand that had nearly crush Seraya had swung upwards towards her. The hit to her face left her reeling and Shyny staggered back as well, the red jewel losing its glow and falling to the ground.

     "Foolish humans, Buria is mine! None can have her, she--" Crimson stopped as something felt wrong around her. Gasping for breath, Seraya hoped it meant Kevoyo had gotten the princess out of the cave and was well on her way from Mt. Onyx. A gentle moan from the direction of the bed, however, confirmed Seraya's reservations of why she shouldn't have let Shyny not help Kevoyo get Buria out.

     The angel had her arms wrapped around the princess, one across the blue-haired woman's breasts and the other hand tucked between her thighs. Kevoyo was also passionately nibbling on Buria's neck. The princess, instead of rejecting the angel's advances, had one hand reached behind her and clutched in the red hair. The other was gripping Kevoyo's wrist that was resting over her stomach.

     When Crimson slowly looked over her shoulder and saw her Buria being despoiled, her slitted pupils shrank and she froze for a few moments. Then, another wall-shaking roar echoed through the cave, this one filled with anger mixed with sorrow. Shyny and Seraya, whom had gotten back to her feet, never saw the dragon's wings lashing out at them.

     Both were crushed backwards against the cave walls by the fleshy blue wings as the dragon breathed hard through gritted teeth. The force of those wings was so great, neither was able to breathe, and when unconsciousness started to take them into darkness, another loud moan sounded from the princess. Not able to listen to anymore of those, Crimson quickly turned and charged towards Kevoyo, Seraya and Shyny crumpling to the ground.

     Bad luck was in for Seraya, for as she fell she hit her head on the stony ground. Dizzy and feeling consciousness slipping from her, the last thing the paladin saw was the Crimson Dragon lunging at Kevoyo, Buria fallen onto the bed.


Day 7
(Choose An Ending)

(Shyny's Ending)


     Seraya's eyes fluttered open, morning light illuminating her pale, sweaty skin. She wasn't in Crimson's cave, nor was she dead. Slowly as she regained her senses, the knight looked up to see Shyny smiling down at her, face darkened with sadness. She was resting the blonde's head on her lap and holding a cool, damp cloth on Seraya's forehead. "You're awake."

     "What.. happened?" The paladin's voice was soft and weak, usual strength drained out of her. Shyny's smile faded.

     "I'm not too sure... when you hit your head I knew we were in trouble. The dragon was focused on Kevoyo and I had to save someone, so I carried you out." The brunette bit her lip softly then continued. "I heard Kevoyo scream... I think the dragon killed her." Seraya winced lightly, releasing a sigh.

     "Buria...?"

     "Stayed with Crimson, I guess... she seemed to like being there." Shyny sighed herself, gaze lowering down to Seraya's chest to the slashed clothing. "Seraya... I don't know how to tell you this so I'll just say it: I think you're poisoned."

     The skin around the three slices Crimson had left in Seraya's chest was dark and sickly, green color slowly becoming stronger. "I don't have anyway to fix it, nor do I know how long before you... you..."

     "Die." Shyny nodded a little, biting her lip again and closing her eyes.

     "I never... never imagined I'd see you again, Seraya." Shyny sniffled quietly. "All that time after you caught me, I've been thinking about you." The knight's brow furrowed a little. What the rogue was saying was important, at least to herself, so Seraya did her best to listen closely. "I know, sounds strange, right? A criminal thinking of her captor all the time, but not with hatred... I thought of you with awe.

     "See, something occured to me during that time. When you caught me, it was like you were protecting me. Protecting me from making the same mistake. I.. I'm not making sense, but whenever I thought of Seraya Shadowharper, I thought of a knight who did her best to protect everyone, even lowly thugs like me.

     "And... once that came to me, I realized something else, my knight." Seraya blinked slowly when the darker-haired woman leaned down, then her eyes widened a little when Shyny kissed her. A gentle warmth, quite unlike her fever, spread through her lips. When she pulled away, Shyny smiled again, caressing the paladin's cheek. "I realized after all that time that I had fallen in love... with my protector."

     This quest had been the strangest Seraya had been on. Kevoyo's lustful attention and now Shyny's confession. It left her feeling very uncertain, and her cloudy mind tried to think more about the rogue's words. She didn't have much time now, she felt the poison burning in her heart. Soon it would stop, and her with it.

     "Shyny... I don't know... what to say," she said between labored breaths, eyes sliding closed.

     "No... you don't have to say anything... I understand, Seraya." A hot droplet fell onto Seraya's lips, then another as Shyny cried silently over her dying protector.

     "At least... Buria is happy..." She will have her happy ending, Seraya thought before she gently gasped then went still. Shyny's silent crying gave way to sorrowful sobs, leaning down and cradling the dead paladin's head and shoulders. The world lost a great woman that day.

THE END



(Kevoyo's Ending)

     Seraya's eyes fluttered open, morning light illuminating her blonde hair. She wasn't in Crimson's cave, nor was she dead. Slowly as she regained her senses, the knight felt two warm arms circled tightly around her middle and a female face pressed to her shoulder, crying quietly. The wings she saw glowing in the sun told her it was Kevoyo.

     "... what are you doing?" The angel cried out in surprise when the paladin spoke, then resumed her sobbing, hugging Seraya tighter.

     "I'm so sorry, Seraya! I should've helped you sooner, I'm so so sorry!" The blonde let Kevoyo cry for several more minutes before pushing herself to a sitting up position.

     "Kevoyo, calm down, just... tell me what happened. Where's Princess Buria?" Kevoyo sniffled, trying her eyes on Seraya's cape.

     "I... I don't know, after I beat that mean demon--"

     "You defeated the Crimson Dragon?!" The shock in Seraya's voice couldn't be held back.

     "Well... yes." For the first time since she had met her, Seraya watched Kevoyo blush. "You see... carnal activity increases my power, and after that cute princess and I finished, well... I destroyewd the Dragon." The angel lowered her head, looking sadder than ever. "I killed Shyny too..."

     "Oh, Kevoyo..."

     "I didn't know where she was...! When I attacked the Dragon I didn't know you and Shyny were so close, I... I'm... Seraya, please forgive me!" The paladin sighed when Kevoyo buried her face against Seraya's chest, crying again.

     "Listen, Kevoyo... I know you're upset, but I have to know what happened to Buria." Unable to let the angel keep sobbing, Seraya lifted her gloved hands to gently hug the redhead around the shoulders. To her distress, that only made Kevoyo snuggle closer.

     "I-I'm not sure what happened to Buria... after the dragon was gone and I looked on the bed, she... she was gone! I know she didn't leave the cave... she disappeared, Seraya!"

     They sat there for several minutes, Vartia crying and Seraya gently holding her. The sky got darker overhead, sun disappearing fully from view.

     "Seraya..." The angel, her voice soft and weak, lifted her head to look at the blonde. "There's... something else." The tone set alarm bells off in Seraya's head but she said nothing, looking down at Kevoyo. "The Dragon... when she cut you..." She trailed off, looking down at the tear in the paladin's top. The edges of the three thin slices are just starting to darken and turn green.

     "It's resisting my magic... I can't cure you..."

     Those words felt like a great weight had fallen on Seraya's shoulders. Poison that couldn't be cured by magic meant nothing else could cure it. "I don't know how long.. until you.. you..."

     "Die." The angel nodded a little, sniffling and looking ready to start sobbing once more.

     "I'm so sorry--"

     "Alright, enough... that's enough apologizing, Kevoyo, I understand your pain... but saying you're sorry won't help us now." Seraya lightly pushed the angel back and stood, giving Kevoyo a hand back to her feet as well. "There's no telling how much longer I have, so we must make haste. I have to return to the castle and tell them what happened."

     "But Seraya, that's so far without a horse!" The blonde shook her head.

     "It must be done... and if I don't make it, you will have to describe what occured to the King and Queen, Kevoyo." The redhead nodded, sniffling once more.

     "I promise..."


     The pair didn't waste anymore time, setting out for Castle Sulryn. Before reentering the forest at the base of Mount Onyx, Kevoyo whispered to herself, "I wish the Angel of Death sitting on your shoulder would listen to me..."

THE END



(Seraya's Ending)

     Seraya's eyes fluttered open, evening light fading and casting red and orange colors over her. She wasn't in Crimson's cave, nor was she dead. Slowly as she regained her senses, the knight felt her feverish forehead be wiped with a cool cloth. Her body felt drained of strength and it took an effort to focus her gaze on the blur above her.

     When she could see who it was, Seraya was surprised. "P... Princess Buria?" The blue-haired woman had a stony expression on her face, despite tenderly cooling the paladin's head.

     "You killed her... you killed my soulmate." Seraya frowned slightly as she struggled to keep her eyes open.

     "Your... soulmate?"

     "Crimson promised this would be the last time she'd have to take me from the castle, that she wouldn't need to return me there anymore. She promised we'd live together forever, happy..." Seraya shook her head a little, losing focus but regaining it enough to reply.

     "Buria... I had my orders..." This made the Princess angry and she leaned down to shout at the paladin.

     "Your orders are more important than love?!" Seraya winced weakly, closing her eyes.

     "I'm... trained not to love, Buria." Those words changed the Princess's expression completely, going from anger to surprise, then sadness at what the paladin revealed about herself.

     "... and here I thought you came here because you loved me. Facing off against a dragon, by yourself, and you felt no love?"

     "I... did not, Princess. I felt only... duty." Buria looked into the knight's closed eyes for a couple moments before closing her own. "Please... tell me what happened, Princess..." The dark-haired woman took a deep breath.

     "That angel with you... she used a Fire Opal. When it went off, it killed Crimson, herself and the rogue..." The Princess swallowed quietly before continuing. "The explosion sent you flying into the treasure room, and when I saw the wounds on your chest, I brought you down here."

     The thought of delicate Buria carrying her down the mountainside seemed very strange to Seraya, but there didn't seem to be any other explanation. "With Crimson gone, I have no reason to live." That sentence forced Seraya to focus once more, opening her eyes again to look up at the Princess.

     "Buria..." She smiled down to the paladin and affectionately stroked the blonde's cheek.

     "You do, Seraya. You have a reason to live... learn to love." The paladin was confused now, since she knew she would die soon. Even more confusing though, was when the Princess's body faded to a ghostly transparency, then seemed to dissolve into lights sinking into Seraya's body.

     She was filled with a strong warmth and gasped, the cuts on her chest being purged of the green poison and healing quickly until her pale skin was unblemished once more. When the last light disappeared inside her, Seraya closed her eyes then opened them once more, sky color having green flakes floating in it.

     The paladin rested a moment before pushing to her feet, then looked up at the mountain. The last rays of the sun framed it in oranges and red before fading, leaving a black place on the horizon once more.

     Seraya then turned on her heel, and started back into the forest, back to the castle.

THE END

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Comments on this poem/writing:

Meridian (152.163.253.8) -- Monday, July 19 2004, 05:25 pm

DOUBLE WOW!

Whoa! We have a lot of talent on this site! And I must say, I hope you keep writing stories, and maybe one day, if you want, publish them in a book, or better yet, write a book! I really like this..... Lady Seraya leading an army eh? Reminds me of Joan of Arc.... It's good to see women in charge for a change!! LOL! Real, super duper, job Hawk Shadowharper!

Have fun you accomplished story writer!
Smiles,
Meridian
Tarna (4.226.171.1) -- Monday, July 26 2004, 11:15 am

Truely Enjoyable

I really thought this story was enjoyable. I kept you wondering what was going to happen next whether it would go over the edge and too far into the sexual nature which was always threatening throughout or if Seraya and her band of unlikely heros would succeed in their quest.. I also liked the alternate endings instead of the usual happily ever after type thing.... I like choice... and in someways it seemed to invite you to come up with your own combination of the three.. very good talent there Hawk
 
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