CHAPTER 29 - ORDERS OF RONDIAR

It didn't make sense.

"What would Ra'gelor want with Emily?" Wilson asked as he channelled his energy into Ye'Jou, allowing the gryphon to go further though not faster. Ra'gelor was out of their sights but they knew where he was headed. "He no longer needs a hostage!"

Wilson was right and no one knew the reason. Kamille had explained that Ra'gelor could only exist with a host. Right now that host was Rinmar's uncle, but when Rinmar allowed Ra'gelor to consume him, the demon was no longer limited by a physical host. That was the danger of allowing Ra'gelor to consume her Prince, but it opened up a weakness.

"Ra'gelor is the devourer of souls and shedder of blood," Kamille had told them. "With my Prince inside him, my blood is now able to wound him."

That was one thing that Fayte did not understand. "Why?"

Kamille looked at him. "What you mean?"

"Why is your blood able to wound him now that Rinmar's soul is inside Ra'gelor?"

It was clear Kamille had the answer and that she had been hoping no one would ask for it. Now that the question was asked though, she saw no need to hide the truth any longer.

"My Prince does not know," she said, speaking loudly against the wind. "But my Prince is also-"

"Half your brother," Wilson said for her. "Right?"

Siblings? "I thought you were lovers!"

Kamille flushed and threw her elbow into his chest. "We are not lovers but I did love him… as my brother. And it pains me that he will never know."

"Why wasn't he told?" Fayte asked.

"My mother," she explained. "She is why Rinmar and all others did not know. Her affair would have shamed the Emperor and forced his hand to take her head. That… that is our way. Rinmar has lost much. A sister would bring him joy, but it would make his sacrifice all the more difficult."

At that moment Fayte turned back to look at Wilson. His friend was thinking about Amelia, too distracted to notice Fayte looking. No doubt Wilson was worried. Ironsville was along the way to Zywedior. If Ra'gelor somehow decided to make a stop, or more likely if Aunt Silvia decided to interfere.

I lost my whole family… "What did your Prince lose?" Fayte asked, but he asked with sincerity and not spite.

Kamille shook her head. "It matters not if we do not defeat Ra'gelor. Once the demon is no longer, that is when all will be revealed. I pray your King is the just man my Prince believes him to be when that moment comes."

Wilson tapped him on the shoulder. "Fayte, when we battle with Ra'gelor later…"

"You're going to be too tired to support me," Fayte said, nodding. "Don't worry. Kamille and I will be fine."

"I was going to say that our focus should be on saving Emily." Preston handed Wilson a potion, the same potion he gave to Fayte, which he drank in a single gulp. Wilson's eyes flashed white for an instant. "Don't forget. She's my best friend too."

A few more of that potion would do us all a lot of good. "Alright."

"Do you have a plan?" Kamille asked.

"A plan?"

"Yes, a plan!" the girl said, irritated. "I have heard from your Princess during our time in the dungeon that you were fond of plans. She had said that you were great at chess games, and that when it came to strategies and wits, no other squire in the whole of Hylan could stand next to you."

Emily must spend more time with Jeremiah. Or any other Vladertz for that matter. "No, I don't have any plans," he said as he wondered. I did defeat Jeremiah… but that was out of sheer luck… right? He looked to the sky. Sera, please keep Emily safe. All she wants is peace and an end to the bloodshed. I am the one wielding the sword and causing the bloodshed. If you must… Fayte breathed. Take me. Take me instead.

A flash of lightning lit the sky.

Oh, so you are more keen to respond when I offer you my life, but you remain silent when I beg for your aid?

A second bolt of lightning shot down from the cloud and Ye'Jou banked left, barely dodging a horrible death.

"What was that?" Kamille exclaimed, her eyes wide with shock.

Ye'Jou was squawking madly.

Fayte said nothing else. Even if he had any more to say, he would have held it for they had come upon a battle. Beneath them was a wide open land with rolling hills to the north and the Green River to the east in front of them. Beyond the river was a great host facing off with Ra'gelor who had landed. Three white lights were jumping all around the demon, striking and slashing with flashes and blasts of light. From the ground, a hundred mages were standing in their elemental glyphs, showering the demon with bolts and other magical spells.

"Fayte!" Wilson shouted, his face coloured but covered with sweat. He ceased the channelling and leaned on Fayte's back, pointing to their right. "Look to the south!"

Where did those come from? "We must warn them!" he told Kamille.

The girl nodded and Ye'Jou dove but right then a Hylan gryphon shot past them. Another came at them from above, the rider swinging his sword, but at the very last moment the knight reared back and his mount spun away. The gryphon knight circled back and matched speed with Ye'Jou.

"Fayte?"

"Captain Teynier?" Fayte said. "What are you doing here?'

"Thank, Sera, you're alive!" the Captain said, laughing excitedly. "I thought I lost my squire!"

"Captain Teynier, why are you here? What about Rondiar?"

"Feralina now commands the City Watch," he explained, sheathing his sword. "Your father has ordered a joining of the castle guards and the city watch. A temporary measure to boost the city's defences during his absence."

"What about the King?" he then asked. "Who protects Castle Rondiar now?"

"Queen Remilda is with Sir Airagon. As for King Eardon…"

At the front of the great host, Fayte squinted and saw King Eardon atop his white stallion, Silverwind, with Serayen glowing in his hand. He had donned a knight's armour and put on a coif of chains over his head. And of course on top of that was his crown of white. How could father agree to let… to let the King come rescue his daughter. There was no way his father could have stopped the King. It made Fayte think about how worried his own father must had been during his absence.

"By the light!" Captain Teynier had just seen what approached from the south. "Another army of undead?"

Fayte nodded. From the ground the animations were blocked by the difference in the level of the terrain. The Orders of Rondiar were on the top of a hill while the animations were coming at them from the rear. No one was paying attention to their back, not when there was a gigantic demon in front of them. The Orders needed to turn around and engage the animations that easily outnumbered them four to one.

"The King is going to have to split the army in half!" Captain Teynier said.

"No!" Fayte stopped him from flying off.

He looked to Ra'gelor. The mages and priests were doing little good against Ra'gelor, and the remaining knights were just as helpless. Captain Teynier's plan of splitting the army in half was so that the other half could remain, allowing them to support the battle against Ra'gelor.

There was no need for that.

"Captain Teynier, I need you to trust me on this," Fayte begged of him. "Turn all of them around and have them ride to face the horde."

"I can't do that," Captain Teynier said. "Your father needs our-"

"I know this demon better, Captain Teynier!" Fayte pleaded. "Please. Trust me on this. Just get me a gryphon. We'll take care of the demon. Even with our full strength, the Orders of Rondiar will struggle against a horde of such strength. They regenerate faster with Ra'gelor, this demon, near them. I've seen it with my own eyes!"

The Captain hesitated. It was a squire's words against a knight's and one with the rank of Captain.

"Please…"

But Captain Teynier had watched Fayte grow up since the day he enlisted in the Order. He had seen what Fayte was capable of and seeing Fayte now, alive and chasing after a demon with a Saldarian girl and Hylan's youngest priest, on top of a strange beast he had never seen before… "Jormez!"

Another gryphon knight swooped down beside Captain Teynier.

"Get on," he told the other knight. "Fayte. Take this gryphon." Captain Teynier grabbed Fayte by the shoulder and pulled him close, risking them both a fall to their graves. He grinned at Fayte. "Go save your Princess."

Fayte returned his smile. "Aye, Sir."

They switched places and Fayte got on the gryphon. The beast glanced behind when he got on and did a double take, craning its neck towards Fayte to sniff at him from head to waist before squawking at his face.

"You again?" Fayte laughed. "My friend, I believe I still owe you a treat from our last flight together!"

At first the gryphon tilted its head like it was surprised Fayte was still alive after jumping off of him that night. Then it squawked again, excited, for Fayte had promised an even bigger treat now.

"Fayte!" Wilson called to him. "What's the plan?"

That was when Kamille reached into Ye'Jou's side satchel and pulled out a flask of red liquid. She flung it to Fayte and nodded at him, holding a second flask herself.

"And here I thought you were going to cut yourself open," Fayte said, holding the flask of Kamille's blood tightly.

For the first time, Kamille smiled at him and for a Scygard, the girl had a beautiful smile. "I will follow your lead, squire."

"Very well, try to keep up, Scygard!"

By your will, Sera.

They dropped from the air into a dive, swooping across the air and speared towards Ra'gelor. Fayte felt his adrenalin rushing through his bloodstream. Soaring at great speed towards Ra'gelor, he watched as his father knocked Ra'gelor back, striking hard at the demon with his Seraph Wings behind him.

"Father!" Fayte cried. "Use this!"

The gryphon dived close to his father and Fayte tossed him the flask before they soared into the air again. His father stood there engulfed in the Light of the Spirits with his Seraph Wings behind him. The Lord-Knight stared at the flask in his hand. Please do not drink it, please do not drink it. For a moment there it looked as though he was going to do just that, but Kamille flew by and waved her blood-coated sword at him. Together, she and Ye'Jou went straight for Ra'gelor, slicing off the tip of one of the demon's horns while it was distracted by Lady Elisen and Sir Jaylen.

The demon howled in fury.

Fayte turned away from his father once he saw him pour the blood over his sword. Without the Light of the Spirits there was little Fayte could do against Ra'gelor, but he didn't need the light to find her.

"EMILY!"

The gryphon screeched aloud as they soared through the black mist, making a turn around Ra'gelor's body and spiralled down as Fayte searched for her. Many times he had caught a glimpse of her but the mist took her from him. Soon the gryphon was struggling to keep ahead of the tendrils that came after them. He had no choice but to pull away and put some distance between them and the demon. It was no use. Ra'gelor was keeping Emily too close to him. If Fayte wanted to save her then someone had to-

A great shadow flew past them.

Coming down from behind him, the massive white dragon slammed itself against Ra'gelor and took it to the ground. Fayte searched below and found a huge white glyph on the ground, stretching a yard long from the centre. Standing upon it was Bishop Tydon, draped in his silver robe with a staff of white wood in his hand. His dragon, Rhastior, as large as the demon blasted Ra'gelor in the face with white flames, scorching the demon into a howl of fury and razing the grass behind him. The heat from Rhastior's flames was so intense that his gryphon screeched and flew away.

Fayte watched as his father jumped into the fray and took off three of the demon's claws. The black mist came at him immediately from all directions. For a moment his father seemed defenceless in mid-air, but the Lord-Knight wrapped his seraph wings around him and not one of the tendrils could pierce through. Once he had fallen close enough to the ground, the wings spread with a blast of light and burned off the tendrils. His father glided across the land and fell steadily on his feet. Wasting no time his father spun around and charged Ra'gelor again.

"Fayte!"

"There she is!" he said, following her voice and the gryphon dove without any urging.

Ra'gelor fought against the dragon and just as Fayte got close enough, the demon kicked Rhastior aside and proceeded to sink his claws deep into the dragon's body. The air shook with a wail of agony as Rhastior bellowed from its wound, but the mighty dragon would not fall so easily. Rhastior sank his teeth into Ra'gelor's shoulder and managed to put them both onto their feet.

Fayte flew right at them and he saw Emily reaching out for him.

"Emily!"

He grabbed hold of her hand and together with the gryphon Fayte snatched her from the black mist. His success was short lived. A black tendril caught the gryphon by the neck and yanked it from the air.

"NOOO!" he screamed as Emily's hand slipped from his and the black mist seized hold of her again. You will not take her from me again!

He jumped off the gryphon and drew his sword, bringing it down on the tendril. Sera, guide my blade! Fayte swore he saw his sword glow white, right before he cut the tendril of mist apart, freeing Emily. Unfortunately now they were both free-falling to the ground, at least, until the black mist caught hold of them again. He was about to slash at the mist again when the gryphon snatched him away. Fayte climbed onto the gryphon's back again quickly and turned it around to go back for Emily.

The gryphon squawked at him, refusing to return.

He's hurt. Fayte saw the blood and all the missing feathers from its right wing. He won't be able to carry me anymore. "Land!" he yelled at it.

The gryphon squawked again and instead of landing, he brought Fayte close to the ground and then spun upside down. Fayte fell from its back with a yell, barely holding on to the gryphon's reins. At that point he saw a back of white right below him. Instincts kicked in and he allowed himself to fall onto the horse.

Whitesong greeted him with a loud whinny.

"I don't believe this!" he laughed, wondering who had brought her here. "By Sera, you came here yourself didn't you!" Whitesong neighed in answer. "Good girl, Whitesong, good girl! Now let's go save our friend!"

Together they charged towards Ra'gelor again, unafraid of the two giants that were now locked in close quartered combat. From the ground Fayte could see Emily but she was out of reach. That changed when Ye'Jou swooped across her and suddenly Emily was screaming and falling. The Saldarian gryphon spun around with unmatched control and speed, allowing Kamille to grab hold of Emily just long enough to break her fall and let Emily fall safely into-

"Got you!" Fayte pulled her close to him and held her as tightly as he could.

"Fayte!" Emily said, her voice hoarse from all the screaming and her eyes wet with tears. "Fayte…"

"You're safe now," he told her, hugging her as Whitesong took them away from the fight. "I'm not letting you go again. And, Emily, there's something that I have to tell you now."

She was shaking but her eyes were kept to his as she listened.

"Emily, I lov--"

--Whitesong stumbled.

Fayte hugged her close to him and they rolled across the ground. Once they came to a stop, he opened his eyes and saw Whitesong being mobbed by ghouls from all directions. He looked around them and saw a small horde coming at them as well. None of you will take her away from me again!

"Emily, stay behind me!"

He grabbed his sword from the ground and cut his way through to Whitesong, chopping off the anima- These are not animations! The creatures didn't crumble when he smashed through them with his shield. Their skins were rotted with worms, bugs, and all manner of festering critters crawling on them. These were reanimated corpses, but Fayte slayed them all the same, kicking them away and cutting them apart from shoulder to waist when they got too close.

"Get on!" He helped Emily onto Whitesong and gave her the reins. "Get out of here!"

"That's not going to happen, Fayte!" she argued.

Fayte rolled under Whitesong and slammed his shield against two ghouls. A third grabbed onto him from behind and Fayte decapitated it before it could sink its teeth into his neck. The corpses weren't staying down even after he cut them down. There is no use fighting them!

"Whitesong, take Emily to safety!" Fayte met eyes with his horse. "GO!"

The white destrier reared onto her hind legs with a neigh. Once she had done that, Whitesong just stood there and looked at him.

You stubborn thing- "GO!" he screamed, lobbing off another ghoul's head only to have to slice it apart from the waist to keep it from coming at him.

The upper half of the headless ghoul used its hands and continued to crawl towards him.

Sera, I beg of you, give me a break!

"You've forgotten that we raised Whitesong together, Fayte!" Emily kicked a ghoul that got too close to her. Whitesong did the same, kicking off the head of a ghoul with her powerful hind legs. "Try to get on, hurry!"

Easier said than done. There were just too many of them. He was busy as it was keeping them off both him and Whitesong. Fayte had no openings to climb onto Whitesong, not without getting dragged off himself or risk having Emily pulled down. "By the spirits, just stay DOWN!"

Fayte swung his sword and right before it connected with the ghoul, his sword flared white with power and when before his blade had cut, his weapon now seared through the ghoul. The undead crumbled to the floor in a heap of ash, leaving Fayte standing there in amazement. "I… Have I become-"

Wilson laughed.

A blast of white light razed three ghouls in front of Fayte into ashes. Preston flew over his head and set another ghoul on fire, pulling up into the air when they tried to reach for him. Wilson appeared beside him and touched his sword again, imbuing it with a holy light different from the Light of the Spirits.

"You're not a knight yet, my friend," Wilson told him, slapping him on the back. "You will be soon, just not yet. For now, let us focus on getting rid of these."

"Wilson!" Emily called.

"Ah, and how is my sweet Princess-" The ground shook when Ra'gelor and Rhastior took each other down again. "Perhaps we should catch up another time."

Preston concurred with a blast of fire, burning of the head of a ghoul before Wilson clobbered it to the ground with his mace. Fayte moved all around Whitesong, cutting down each ghoul with ease now that they weren't able to regenerate anymore. He had been wrong about their numbers. Before Wilson had come there seemed to be no end to the living dead, but now that they could no longer rise after being cut down.

"Princess!" a woman cried.

Fayte ran his sword through a ghoul and skewered another behind. Only a handful of the undead remained and they were promptly dispatched by two knights and Lady Elisen. The Whiteguard was covered with dirt and dried blood when she ran up to Emily.

"We will escort you to safety," Lady Elisen said. "Are you injured, my Princess?"

Emily shook her head and looked to the two giants battling it out.

"Are we winning?" she asked.

It was a good question. Fayte sheathed his sword and went up to them while a priestess that came along with Lady Elisen did a quick examination of Emily. The priestess from the White Rose healed a few scratches and the bruises on her face. Now it was easier to look at her without feeling his heart wrench. A shadow enveloped them and Lady Elisen drew her sword at once.

"Wait!" Fayte called. "She's a friend!"

"Fayte, we have a problem," Kamille said from atop Ye'Jou, sweat dripping off from her forehead. "It's not working. Ra'gelor is too strong."

Not working? "What in the name of Sera do you mean it's NOT WORKING?" he screamed. "Rinmar wagered his life on this working! You mean he wasn't sure?"

Kamille seemed ashamed… and even scared. Her last hope had failed her.

Rinmar, you are truly a fool.

Lady Elisen mounted on her gryphon with the priestess. "You are the Scygard girl, correct?"

"I-I am," she said.

"Come," Lady Elisen said. "Someone wishes to speak to you. It concerns the sealing of the demon."

Sealing? The Whiteguard would explain no more here, not when the Princess was still in danger.

It was safer with Emily in the air so Fayte followed from the ground with Whitesong and Wilson. They rode away from Ra'gelor and the increasingly bloody Rhastior. Wilson had considered joining Bishop Tydon, thinking he could perhaps channel his strength to the bishop. Yet when he thought of how old the Bishop was and how young he was, Wilson knew that what little mana he could offer would be better used for himself. They rode east to the Green River where the banners of the three Orders had been staked to the ground. Before they could reach the war camp, Lady Elisen yelled from the sky and pointed at the party of three riding towards them.

Two knights were escorting Administrator Langton who wore his large-sleeved robe of olive green and summer orange. Fayte did not see him at first but riding with the Administrator was Kestel.

"Is he reading a book?" Fayte asked. "By the light, he is reading a book!"

"He is never going to get a girl," Wilson said with a sigh.

From above Kamille flew down and both parties came to a halt.

"Are you the girl who shares half the Prince's blood?" Administrator Langton asked urgently. "Answer quickly!"

"I- I am!" Kamille said, confused.

How did he know? Fayte wondered.

The Administrator nodded at the knights and both of them drew their swords. When Fayte saw them advance on Kamille, he rode in between them and raised a hand to halt them.

"Sir knights, what is the meaning of this?" he asked. "Kamille is a friend."

"Blood for sealing," Kestel said, flipping the page of his book. "Need it now."

Kamille quickly dug into her sack and pulled out two flasks of her blood. "Will these suffice?"

"They will not," Kestel said, reading.

"You didn't even look!" Fayte exclaimed.

Administrator Langton urged his horse closer to them. "The ritual requires a blood seal, Fayte. I have taken it upon myself to learn this profane art and I will tell you now, those two flasks will not suffice. Not with a demon that size."

Not enough? He turned to Kamille who seemed to understand the Administrator's words. "No…"

"It… it cannot be helped," she said, her voice shaky though she was determined to be stay strong. "I will do it."

"Very well," the Administrator said, dismounting. "Sir Kaydan, ride to the Heads of Elements and have them prepare the bindings. Sir Leonard, tell Lord Frendon it is time."

The two knights nodded and rode off in different directions. Administrator Langton moved quickly, shouting for them to clear a space for them. When Kestel ignored him and just went on with his book, the Administrator said nothing and just moved himself further from the High Sage. They gave him about ten meters of space and he had Kamille stand beside him. Moments later, a bright light landed beside him and Fayte felt the warm arms of his father wrapped around him.

"Thank, Sera, you're all right," his father said. "Oh thank, Sera, you are all right…"

"I'm sorry for what I did, father, I had to-"

"No need to explain yourself," he said, panting hard. His father was leaning on him. Fayte had never seen his father so exhausted. Bishop Tydon might be supporting him, but even healing took its toll on a person's body. Healing was not an end-all solution. "You have done me proud, son. Very proud."

"Lord Frendon!" the Administrator called him. "Are you fit for the task?"

Fayte did not like the Administrator's tone nor his question, like he was doubting his father's capability. But he had to admit that there was cause for his concern. The Seraph Wings had faded with the Light of the Spirits the moment his father landed. Without these magic supporting him, his father was barely able to stand. Yet as always his father proved him wrong, letting go of Fayte's shoulder to slowly make his way to the Administrator.

"Your sword," the Administrator said, his hand held out. His father drew his sword and handed it to the Administrator. "Thank you. Now…"

Langton ran the sword through Kamille's chest.

Fayte surged forward and reached for his sword, why, he didn't know, but he felt compelled to go to her aid as though the Administrator had meant her harm. And if Wilson had not held him back, Fayte might had just done that. Yet as sudden as it was, perhaps this was kinder for Kamille.

Goodbye, my friend…

The Administrator held Kamille and slowly eased her onto the ground with the sword still impaled in her chest. Kamille was still and she no longer breathed. Just like that, a girl he had once hated so much was now dead. Yet Fayte felt no joy or triumph. Somehow she had become his friend. And now she was gone.

"Don't give up on her yet," Wilson told him and said nothing more.

A glyph of red and gold flared to life beneath the Administrator's feet. Fayte and Wilson hurried over to help his father out of the glyph, watching from a distance as the Administrator faced Ra'gelor. He was chanting under his breath, kneeling beside Kamille's body with his eyes shut tightly like he was forcing them closed.

There was a sense of wrongness while Fayte watched the ritual. He could feel his father rejecting it as well. The very fact that his sword was used to kill a child was terrible enough. Now the Administrator was performing a blood seal. Blood magic was a forbidden school of magic used only by those in the Black City. It was a corrupting magic that took more from the wielder than it gave.

The air seemed to scream its disapproval as the blood glyph grew brighter and brighter. Power rushed from the ground and swept the air skywards, storming the Administrator with a violent gale. He was practically screaming his chant now but Fayte couldn't hear the words with the wind. Beside them, Kestel had finally looked away from his book and was now observing the ritual.

Unfortunately it wasn't just the High Sage's attention that was drawn.

Ra'gelor dropped the battered white dragon on the ground like a worn out toy, whipping Rhastior across the head with his tail when the dragon tried to get up. The demon turned to their direction and swept his wings apart to throw off the two Whiteguards still attacking him.

"Time for you to leave," his father said. "Whitesong."

Fayte was only mildly irritated when the girl came over obediently. Listens to everyone but me. "Father, I'm not a child anymore."

"You will always be a child to me, now get-"

"Frendon!" the Administrator called, flinging the sword in the air. What was once a pure white sword was now a tainted crimson blade. "Straight through the head!"

"Leave this place!" his father shouted at him before he ran off.

Ra'gelor blasted them with his roar and charged towards them, but not before the Heads of Elements acted. The four wizards and sorceress of the Order of Elements activated their trap. Four giant elemental glyphs appeared around the demon and flared to life. Fire, Ice, Thunder, and Earth, all four elements came together to hold the demon down.

The elements of fire and thunder struck Ra'gelor in the face, distracting the demon before the earth beneath him crumbled. Ra'gelor had power over the earth so before he could sink into a great depth, he ceased the movement of the earth only to have Rhastior come at him from behind. The badly injured dragon dragged him to the ground with an immense roar, drowning the demon with flames. Fayte spotted Archimage Lasandra in the distance surrounded with the light of crystal ice.

Four massive columns of ice flashed into existence around Ra'gelor and charged him, trapping him and Rhastior together. The demon howled furiously and tried to fight them but Ra'gelor kept getting assaulted from all directions, now even from the Whiteguards as well. His father brought forth the Light of the Spirits and took off into the air with his Seraph Wings.

Suddenly the blood glyph beneath the Administrator's feet disappeared and Ra'gelor was engulfed in red light from below him. Thousands of red tendrils burst from the ground and latched onto the demon, pulling him to the earth as he wailed in agony. Light burst from Ra'gelor's mouth and six eyes, and Fayte swore he saw bodies reforming and spilling out from the demon. The golden bands around the demon cracked and broke apart, while its wings were torn off by Rhastior. Ra'gelor was weakening greatly by every passing moment.

Wilson had released him to run up to Kamille. White light burst from his hands as he thrust them onto her body, filling her with healing energy. In the distance, Fayte watched as his father soared to Ra'gelor. The demon was bounded and could do no more than watch helplessly as his father sank the blade in between its eyes.

All they could hear then was the hellish noise let out by the dying demon.