Hot blood steamed in the air, splashed across the walls and the floor of the hall.
Fayte raised his shield over his head but he could not take his eyes off the scene. The ferocity of the attacks frightened him but the grace of their movements entranced him. This was not a foe he wanted to face. It was akin to watching his own father fight, but there was a fluidity in their movements. One slash followed through with another, their footwork a perfect complement to their strikes, taking them from one beast to another.
The Eres Star Templars were unmatched.
It was a dance that spilled blood with every step taken from one beast to the another. The first spectre appeared right in front of him, cutting the yeti in half before another Templar spectre appeared, joining the first in the bloody dance. Soon the yetis began to flee but their numbers had already been severely thinned. Now the grey spectres of the Templars filled the hall. They did not give chase though in the distance came the sound of dying yetis.
Instead the spectres present in the hall turned around, sword still in hand, and began to close in on them.
"Resfield," Commander Reyner called.
"You are in the presence of Emily Whiteart!" Captain Resfield shouted, his voice deep and commanding. "Daughter of King Eardon of the Royal Whiteart Family!"
The Templars pressed on.
"G-g-g-go away!" Mailer swung out both pieces of his marotte. "SHOO!"
Captain Resfield continued to scream at them, stating Emily's name once more and her father's and her grandfather's, and the Kings before them. Still the Templars approached them, their faces a misty blur but the way they held their swords made their intentions clear enough. What was also clear, though only to Fayte it seemed, was who exactly the Templars were approaching.
"ENNNNDD THE CUUURSSSEEEE!" a voice screeched from amongst the sea of spectres.
"Drop your sword and kneel, John Greyblade," said Captain Resfield. "Do it now!"
Greyblade? The name was familiar but Fayte could not recall from where. Not when there was a wave of murderous ghosts walking towards him.
"You bear the sin of your ancestor," the Captain went on when John did not move, though the man was trembling uncontrollably. "There is no escape from it! Do it before your Princess gets caught in their vengeance!"
A spectre appeared in front of John with its sword raised above its head with both hands.
"DEAAATH UPOON YOOOOUU!" it screeched, a thin and sharp voice.
John was paralyzed as the spectre brought its sword down. And so Fayte found himself sliding in between them, raising his shield and steeling himself to be cut apart like the yetis that lay around them. The blow never came. Instead Fayte caught himself with his breath held the entire time. He gasped for air as he slowly moved his shield away to find the spectre blade just inches away from his face.
It felt more stupid than heroic but Fayte said, "I do not know what sin this-this man has committed, but I was charged to bring him with me by the Queen of the Water Nymphs. She who serves Sera."
The sword did not move and so neither did Fayte but he grew braver then.
"Sera would not have sent him here to die, so John is under my protection," he said. "And I have taken a vow to protect those who cannot. I will not break that vow. Not even to a Templar."
I am speaking to a ghost, he realized. An actual ghost. A ghost.
The living dead was easy to swallow since he could cut them apart. Ghosts and spectres were a whole other subject altogether. Fayte wasn't even sure if there was a difference between the two. He found himself eager to speak with Kestel, curious if the High Sage knew more about them. Perhaps the High Sage had never even believed that ghosts existed. This would surely arouse much intrigue from the little genius.
He felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Are you well?" Wilson asked, staring at him.
"What?" Fayte turned back and saw that the spectres were gone. "The ghosts- the spectres-"
"Vanished," his friend told him. "Yet you did not move."
"They do that." It was John, standing far away from the Princess and the rest of them. "Ya lose ye focus and get distracted by other matters. Makes it hard ta fight them."
Emily was beside him. "That was incredible, Fayte!"
That was insane.
"You stood against a Templar," Sir Percson said, smiling as always. "Incredible? Yes. Wise? Hmm, very much debatable."
"You were going to abandon my Prince!" the Scygard said, pointing with his weapon.
"You are free to report it to my King," Sir Percson answered without a shade of worry.
Rinmar waved his warrior away. "Shush. Sir Percson is a man of Hylan. You would have done the same in his position."
Sir Percson’s duty was to protect Rinmar yet he chose not to when the time came. Fayte could understand why. It was not because the Whiteguard had no honour or that he detested the Prince. Sir Percson wanted to spare Commander Reyner from making an impossible decision.
The Commander of the Whiteguards may be grateful now, but he would have to punish Sir Percson in some manner when they returned to Rondiar. For now though the old Whiteguard’s anger was directed at another knight.
"You knew this might happen and yet you did not think it wise to warn me?" Commander Reyner was shouting at Captain Resfield, the two men standing closer to John. "The Princess could have been killed!"
"Well I didn't think Sera would lead us to a potentially fatal situation!" the Captain argued. "It was a dream, Reyner, and on top of that Sera is a very large dragon. I thought it wise not to question the command of a very large dragon!"
It would seem that Fayte and Wilson weren't the only ones commanded by greater powers to bring John to the temple.
"This is unacceptable, Resfield!" Commander Reyner insisted. "It could have been a mere dream!"
"Then none of this would have happened! But it did happen which means Sera really did give me a command, and that means the Princess was never in danger to begin with!"
"You don't know that!"
"Enough," Emily said.
For a girl her size Emily could really silence a room when she wanted to. Her voice was nowhere near as commanding as Captain Resfield, but the voice of a royalty bore more weight than any Captain's. The two knights lowered their heads and turned towards her.
"If Lady Sera had intended for this man to be here then I believe she intended for all of us to be here as well," she said, glancing at John before she looked to Wilson for reassurance. The young priest nodded slightly for her to go on. "What occurred in this temple was by Lady Sera's doing, and if I had been hurt or killed, then it too was by her doing. I honestly cannot imagine what one could do if a God decides that I should perish."
I would beg to die in your place, Fayte thought, ignoring Wilson when he glanced at him.
Finally Emily sighed for she did not feel well reprimanding two knights of such esteem, so she smiled and did a twirl. "I'm fine. See?"
"Neither of them are your father, my Princess," Sir Percson told her. "I fear a little twirl and a cute smile would not suffice to assuage their fears."
"Well I don't care," she said and turned to the two knights who still held their heads low. "I am well so lift your chins, my valiant protectors, and tell me more of this man and the sin of his ancestor that he bears. Greyblade is a royal name from an age long passed."
Danfred Greyblade, Fayte easily recalled now. The King of Eres Star Castle.
"This man is a descendant of King Danfred Greyblade," Captain Resfield said after a glance at the Commander. The Whiteguard went over to Emily while the Captain approached John. "The last King of Eres Star Castle."
"A good King," John said, mumbling, sitting on the ground.
Captain Resfield scoffed. "Judge a father by the worst of his children. His eldest was the Lord-Templar and brought the nine heroes here to defeat the Great Evil, but his youngest brought only shame to the mighty name of Greyblade and the Order of the Eres Star."
"King Danfred had only one son," Emily said quite certainly. "I learned about him during my lessons with Administrator Langton. There was no mention of a younger son."
"A subject of dispute between historians," Commander Reyner explained. "Most believe there was only one child, others believed there was another. Of the latter they said that Danfred Greyblade disowned him."
The mention of historians made Fayte wonder which side his mother was on.
"To become a Templar was an achievement amongst the highest honour," the Commander went on. "It is said that his second son was the first Templar to ever break his oath."
"Why?" Fayte asked. "For what reason did he break his oath?"
"The Great Evil," Captain Resfield said, standing next to John who was picking at his boot absently. "It is said that Danfred's youngest son had only just become a Templar a day before the Order of the Eres Star marched against the Great Evil. It is said that he fled from the war while his elder brother gave his life so that the Chosen Herald could call upon the aid of the nine heroes."
"And for that he was cursed," Emily mused.
Commander Reyner was nodding. "We often say that those with the bloodline of the Templars are blessed with more strength or power."
"A myth," said the Captain. "A false one."
"But one that has compelled you and many others to greater heights," Sir Percson pointed out.
Fayte had never given this much thought until now. If strength and power were to be passed on through blood, then the blood must flow from that of a Templar. But there never could be a direct descendant of a Templar, for they could not marry and have children, lest it meant breaking their oath. And it was said that no Templar had ever broken his or her oath… save for one apparently.
John could feel their eyes upon him and the question they all shared.
The man remained silent.
"Two of us here were commanded by a high power to guide you to this place," Captain Resfield told him. "And for the first time, Templar spectres revealed themselves and chased away a horde of mysteriously frenzied Yetis."
"The Yetis were likely crazed by Ra’gelor," Rinmar said, standing next to Emily. "A mere coincidence, perhaps?"
Sera is not one for coincidences.
"Perhaps," Captain Resfield said respectfully. "Still, I was not aware that royal Greyblades still walked amongst us."
John sniffed hard and spat out his snot. "I'm about as royal as that."
"You bear the once royal name of Greyblade," Emily said, wanting to approach him but Commander Reyner stopped her. "You are no longer royal but you are still a noble lord by law. You stand amongst families such as the Emerald-Talons and the Vladertz."
That made John laughed. "Did the little Princess just called me a noble lord?"
Captain Resfield drew his sword and pressed it against John's neck.
A trickle of blood rolled past his collarbones.
"I’ve never cared much for fantastical Templar legends, but it is also said that the spirits of the Templars cannot rest until the curse is lifted," the knight with the bloodline of the Templars said. "The curse that has kept my ancestors from peace for centuries now."
"Captain Resfield," Sir Percson said warningly.
"A man cannot be judged for the sins of his father," Wilson stated, nervous now because none of them were close enough to stop the Captain. "Or his ancestor in this case."
John stared at the Captain defiantly. "And it is said that the curse can’t be lifted. Not until the last of them Greyblades are wiped off from the face of this world."
"Yes it is," the Captain agreed. "And here I have, it seems, the last of the Greyblades."