Earlier That Day
*DON DON DON*
“Awaken, Sir Ryk! Your liege commands you to train with her at once! Hurry to the field!”
On the fifth day of the month of Sierahi, Ryk, the Wandering Knight, awoke to the energetic shouting of Lucile Allard, the Baroness of Saint-Lusan and his lord. He took one look outside the window. It was still early morning, as the twin suns were only just beginning to peak over the horizon.
He could hear the sounds of Lucile’s footsteps quickly leaving his door. She didn’t even wait for a response.
Nor did she need to, for as soon as knocked on his door, he already knew what it meant. Daily combat training.
Ryk quickly got out of bed and began to ready himself for the day. He swapped out of his bedclothes and into something more appropriate for his duties.
Though it was early morning, combat training called for some armor, so he equipped his set - a pair of gauntlets, a pair of greaves, a breast plate, as well as some shoulder pads, all made of light steel. It was a set of armor designed for mobility while offering some protection, as it worked easier with his style of combat.
He strapped on his belt that carried his pouch and the sheath that carried his blade. It was simple longsword emblazoned with the sigil of House Allard, a four pointed star and two feathered wings. It was a gift from Lucile when she knighted him into his service, and the very sword that she knighted him with. It was sturdy, with a blade made of hardened steel. But it was also a great magical focus, with a white handle made out of Dovelen wood, renowned for its mana enhancing properties.
Now geared up, he went to the standing mirror and ensured that he looked presentable. Ryk stood at a height of 175 centimeters, normal for a man of twenty years. His face was soft and clean, save for a horizontal scar that ran under the left of his sharp blue eyes. He ran his hand through his messy chestnut brown hair in an attempt to make it look more presentable. It didn’t do much, but what little it did do would surely help, he thought.
As left his room, he stopped in front of his dresser. Laid out on a gentle cloth was a small framed portrait of a beautiful woman who shared Ryk’s eyes. She cradled an infant in her arms. Beside the portrait was a spear that was splintered into three parts. The only other relic of the parents he never knew.
Ryk pressed his hands together, bowed his head and closed his eyes.
“Please keep watching over me, mother.”
The sounds of metal striking metal echoed in the fields during the early morning, with the thrum of magic interspersed.
“Haa… haa… Come on, Ryk. Surely you can do better than that.” Lucile, though somewhat spent, wasn’t willing to back down just yet.
“I would prefer not to accidentally harm you.” Opposite of his lord, Ryk stood with his blade at his side. “Perhaps we should stop and have breakfast now. You’re clearly tired, and I’ve heard that a message from Sir Balzac regarding his mission has arrived.”
The pair had been sparing for the better part of an hour, swinging their blades and slinging spells. The morning mist provided an refreshing chill to their intense practice. Despite it, though, the pair were visibly glistening with sweat.
“Gah, once more then, Ryk! Don’t hold back, and neither will I.” She readied her greatsword, keeping herself low to the ground and the massive blade over her shoulder.
*sigh* “Very well then.” Ryk in turn took his sword in his right hand and readied himself, keeping the blade in front of him, guarding his front.
The air was tense as they prepared to strike.
Lucile took the initiative, stepping forward with her rear foot and swinging the massive blade downward in a deceptively quick strike. Her blade rapidly began to shine a radiant white as it fell on Ryk. Ryk took his own sword by the handle and blade and blocked her strike. He fell to one knee as he braced against the force exerted by the young noble and her magic enhanced strike.
He angled the force of the greatsword down to the side and swiftly sidestepped away. He moved back to make some distance before preparing a spell. Using his sword as a focus, he channeled his mana through the blade, as circles of magic began to spiral around it. He could sense the blade becoming hardened as he channeled earth aspected mana into the metal. Such a simple spell didn’t require him to form a chant or call out the spell’s name.
His weapon reinforced, he took a step forward and slashed three times, aiming for the chest. Each time, Lucile blocked each strike with her greatsword, not giving up any ground. Stepping back, Ryk made one more attempt, this time a thrust to Lucile’s abdomen.
“Oho, it’s not going to be that easy.”
Lucile had blocked that strike as well, and kept Ryk’s sword away with her blade as she pushed forward into arms reach. He noticed the glow of magic forming around her gauntlet too late. The same color as her sword, the color of light aspected mana.
Her fist found its way to Ryk’s stomach from below, making a clean strike. He felt his abdomen flare up in pain as the enchanted strike struck his armor and padding. Less than a second later, he felt a second impact strike him, though Lucile hadn’t moved a muscle. The spell she had cast caused the second blow and this time it went past his armor.
“Gah!” Ryk heaved heavily as he was taken aback by the punch. He flew back nearly two meters and had fallen backwards, but managed to catch himself and roll with the blow, landing on one knee, sword in the ground. “Alright, I -cough- yield!” he managed say in between coughs. He was glad he hadn’t yet eaten breakfast.
“Hurray! It’s my win this time!” Lucile exclaimed as she did a small victory pose, one hand outstretched and two fingers forming a V. “That makes our record… 248 to 395.”
“You’re getting -cough- much better, Lady Lucile. Perhaps one day you’ll have more wins than me. Though that fist to my stomach was a new one. Wherever did you get the idea for that?”
“Heh heh, well you see my knight, one must always try out new techniques when combining sword and sorcery.”
“Is that all…?”
“…I may have snuck out last night to watch an underground tournament.”
*sigh* “Please tell me no one-”
“No, no! No one knows I was there! I swear it on the Saints!”
The two are what are commonly known as mage knights, armored fighters who fight with weapon in hand but also have the capacity for magic. Not many choose to become mage knights, as most choose to specialize in either fighting or magic, but not both.
Lucile was born with an affinity for the elements of fire and light, whereas Ryk had an affinity only for the element of earth.
“Here.” Lucile offered her hand to Ryk, who was still on the ground. He grabbed it and she helped him back onto his feet.
The suns were already fully visible in the sky now. The wildlife was beginning to awaken and the morning mist disappearing. Their training was now over, and the two took some time to collect themselves after their workout.
“Have you given the sword a name yet, Ryk?” Lucile asked.
“Err, not I haven’t. Can’t come up with a decent name for it,” Ryk answered. “Besides, does a sword really need a name?”
“Of course it does!” she excitedly responded. “The name of a weapon carries a lot of meaning. It tells you the story of who wielded it, what battles its been through, its history-” Lucile went on a spiel about the merits of naming weapons. It was understandable, as her family had an ancestral sword passed down through generations, for hundreds of years.
But that blade, the greatsword 「Oathkeeper」, was missing.
“Lady Lucile, Sir Ryk!” An older voice called out to them from the house. The pair turned to the source of the voice, an elderly man with graying hair and a receding hairline. Wrinkles marked his face, and in one of his four hands was a letter.
It was Alban, the head butler to the Allard family. Unlike Lucile and Ryk, who were humans, Alban was a Gero, a race of four armed strong men. Though Alban wasn’t strong anymore, as time had taken its toll on his body.
“It’s an urgent missive from Sir Balzac. I believe you will wish to read this immediately,” he yelled as he ran over to the pair.
Lucile took the letter from Alban and broke the wax seal of House Allard that was stamped on the back. “Thank you, Alban. We’ll take a look at it from here,” she said.
“Of course, my lady. Breakfast is already prepared for the both of you.” He nodded to Ryk, who nodded in return. He bowed, then turned around and took his leave back to the house.
“Hmm, now let’s see what this says…” Lucile opened up the letter.
“If it’s from Sir Balzac, and it’s urgent, perhaps he’s found information on your mother?” asked Ryk.
Ryk couldn’t see the contents of the letter as it was in Lucile’s hands, but he could see her face visibly turn dark. It was a scary sight.
“Sir Ryk.” There was a hint of bloodlust in her voice.
“Y-yes, Lady Lucile?”
“Let’s head into town after breakfast.”
“That’s fine, but what did the letter state?”
“It seems the first breakthrough in my investigation has arrived in town.”
“What do you mean?”
Lucile Allard, ever since she was old enough to wield a sword, ever since she was old enough to read, had only one goal. Find out what happened to the mother she never knew. The mother that disappeared fifteen years ago during the Siege of Aquelia.
“Seems as though a certain rogue causing problems in town is actually a former comrade of hers. I say we pay him a visit.” Ryk saw the faintest glint of a smile. But whether or not it was happiness at finding a lead, or of anger for abandoning her mother, he did not know.
All he knew is she would do anything to find out the truth.