CHAPTER 26 - A DEAD MAN

Fayte took off the blindfold and found himself alone on the road.

Eres Star City can be retaken. A small task with the Order of the Elements helping us. Fayte found himself without any other choices. I need to get Emily out of there.

He made his way back down the road. The situation had somewhat changed now. Rescuing Emily was still his top priority, yes, but Rinmar's presence here changed things. He must had known that his uncle was planning this. That must be the reason why he came to Hylan. It was no coincidence that Ra'gelor appeared just as he proposes an alliance. He kept the truth from us. No, he had no choice. Fayte would have done the same. None of them would have believed that Rinmar was working against his uncle. Even now Fayte had trouble believing it. But after all he's been through, even getting caught while trying to save Emily. He began thinking about that dungeon guard Rinmar killed in there. Was it to convince his uncle… or us?

Rinmar had said before that his father did not want war with Hylan, and that it was not his father who destroyed Zywedior, yet he was the one suffering the consequence of it. If Rinmar's uncle was the one behind Zywedior, then the Emperor being the brother would be dragged into it. The more Fayte considered that theory the more sense it made. It would explain why his uncle is unaware of Rinmar being here in Hylan.

The sun was high in the sky now yet he still wished for thicker clothing, just as Jeremiah had said. Fayte stopped and turned around to look at Mount Erestor. Somewhere beyond the clouds was the Eres Star Temple. Now more than ever Fayte was convinced that Ra'gelor was there. He didn't even know how the demon looked like. Was it a spirit? Did it have a physical form? Was it a giant? Did it look like a man? A beast? Monster?

Why did his uncle wipe out the entire slave camp? Fayte asked himself. To raise an army of ghoul. Like what happened to Ironsville's graveyard.

Fayte felt a sudden chill.

It was not from the cold wind but from a sudden realisation that brought on a stab of fear. He looked at the people all around him. Eres Star City was being cut off from the world for the same reason. He is going to kill everyone-

His sisters screamed.

Fayte grabbed the sheath of his sword tightly, hurrying through the crowd. Zywedior. The whole city massacred for no reason… until now. Eres Star City was going to be massacred just like Zywedior, and it made sense that Zywedior was wiped out for the same reason. To raise an army of ghoul. Zywedior was just a test to see if it would work... no, Hylan was not attacked following the- Sera, no, could it be?

Zywedior was only a few leagues away from Rondiar. Eres Star City was on the other side of Hylan with Ra'gelor. If the Orders of Rondiar marched to Eres Star City, then Rondiar will be left undefended. With the army of ghoul and earth animations from Zywedior… No, no, no, this is not happening.

It all made sense now.

I cannot allow this to happen!

"How d'ya like that? Don't you know carryin' a sword's against the law? Huh?"

Fayte went closer to the crowd that had gathered ahead. Once the Order is here, Emily will be the only thing stopping them from taking back the city. Ra'gelor must be stopped. The Orders of Rondiar must return to face the threat from Zywedior. The dead of Zywedior must not walk again. He jostled through the crowd and appeared on the other side. Two false knights were having their fun stomping on a man sprawled on the ground.

"My sword…" the man said, his face long and sickly thin, his hair a black mess of- I sat next to him in the inn. Very well. "Give me my-"

"SHUT IT!" the false knight kicked him across the face. "This sword's ours now! Rusty piece of iron more like. And we're taking you to the prison."

"Pr-prison?" The man was dazed. "No, no please, let me go!"

Fayte dug out his father's seal. "Excuse me."

The two false knights turned around. Both of them were much taller than Fayte and the white armour they wore made them look almost twice as large as he was. Fayte bit his lips. Jeremiah could not stand the disrespect these man had shown by donning the knight's armour and carrying the white shield. Fayte could take it no more as well, finding it all very wrong. Neither one of them was worthy of such an honour.

"I would like to speak to your commanding knight."

He could hear the crowd behind him distancing themselves from him.

"What did he say?" one of them asked the other.

"Says he wants to see our commandin' knight," the other answered.

Both men approached him, their hands resting on their swords. Swords that they had stolen.

"I am Fayte Kaywin," he announced proudly. "Son of Frendon Kaywin, Lord-Knight of the Order of the White Shield. This is the Royal Seal of the Order of the White Shield and by the authority of this seal, I command you to take me to your commanding knight. Now."

The two men looked at each other. One of them wanted to laugh but he didn't, not when he saw how serious his friend looked. That was the smarter one. Fayte had hoped that one of them had enough sense to see how important he was, being the Lord-Knight's son and everything. Not to mention the Royal Seal he was waving at their faces.

"We'll take you to our lord," the smarter one said, his nose was crooked but he arms were broad and muscular. "After you hand us that piece of white gold there."

Fayte tucked the seal away under his cloak. White gold was rare and very valuable. "No."

The false knights dropped the man's rusty sword and drew their own. The sight of them holding two silver knight's swords was just wrong, but Fayte did not allow his emotions to get the better of him. The man on the ground quietly retrieved his sword and hurried aside to watch. Fayte looked around him.

"No need to look around," the other false knight said. "No one's goin' to help ya. Ain't got the guts. We're knights you see. We're the law."

"You?" Fayte said, disgusted. "Knights?"

That's it. He swung his arms apart and threw his cloak back. Fayte reached behind him and pulled out his shield while his other hand drew his sword. From his shield alone these two men knew that Fayte was from the Order, but they could not know that he was just a squire.

"I'm a knight."

"You're just a squire," the smarter one said, spitting on the ground like the very word 'squire' left a bad taste in his mouth. "Too young, just like that other bloody one."

Well this guy is smarter than I'd prefer.

"Just drop your toys and give us the seal," he said sympathetically. "Us knights don't hurt children."

"Yeah," the other said, laughing as he nudged his friend. "We don't."

The smarter one glared at him. "We don't." Then he turned to Fayte. "Listen to him and drop your sword, squire."

"How about a wager," Fayte said. The one thing that a mercenary values most… "Defeat me and the Royal Seal is yours, but if I defeat you, you'll take me to your lord." And also… "Come on, afraid of a little squire?"

That was all he needed to say.

"Have it your way, boy." And both men charged him.

Their movements are awkward. They're not used to the armour. Fayte dashed forward and used the frozen road to slide past the both of them, swinging his sword as he did and parried a slash from one of them while his shield guarded him from the other. The white shield is weighing the dumber one down.

Fayte rammed his shield against the dumber one and knocked him back. The smarter one with the crooked nose seized the chance and lunged at him with a stab. Fayte dodged and countered, striking him on the shield with the hilt of his sword. He then wailed on him with a series of slashes and bashed him once, twice, and then a third with his shield, knocking him to the ground.

"AHHH!" the other mercenary charged him.

Fayte met the dumber one steel with steel, parrying his strike as he grinned. He threw away his shield. Fayte raised his leg and tried to kick him but the man jumped away laughing, only to be charged by Fayte with his shield. The man hurried to guard himself with both hands on his sword, meeting Fayte's shield with his thin weapon. You should have dodged. Fayte's shield clashed into his sword, then he raised his shield and along with it he raised the man's sword-

-and both his hands.

Sera, forgive me. Fayte reached out wide and drove his sword through the leather joint of the man's left underarm.

Without waiting for him to fall, Fayte released his sword and with both hands on his shield, swung it around just in time to block the other false knight's strike. Fayte nearly lost his footing, but he had expected a stronger blow having exposed his rear for so long. Without having to look, he reached back and drew his sword from the dead man as he fell.

Fayte backed away and sucked in long, deep breaths to steady himself.

A few of the people in the crowd started to cheer for him. Even the man with the old sword was laughing and cheering at him, taunting the false knight for having such a hard time with a squire. He had expected his foe to get angry and come at him in a rage, but this man kept his distance and his eyes on Fayte. He's waiting for help to come. I have to end this now.

Fayte drew a final breath.

He slashed at the mercenary and made circles around him. The false knight was having trouble keeping up with his movements. The knight's armour was encumbering him. Fayte had to admit, this man was skilled, but he was nowhere near as skilled as someone like Jeremiah.

Fayte glanced over the man's shoulder and screamed, "Jeremiah, NOW!"

The man turned and slashed his sword behind him only to find himself cutting air. Fayte swooped in, knocking his shield away with his own before he threw his fist into the man's face. The false knight struck the ground hard and lost grip of his shield. Fayte stomped on his sword hand, shattering his wrist. The man wailed in pain until he felt the tip of Fayte's sword on his neck.

"Now," Fayte said, "take me to Orson Reydar."