I should really finish reading the novels. Thankfully the anime at least gave me a primer for how the rest of the initial volumes finish up. Alas.

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Topic: Fortune Lover Mods Megathread
In: Boards ► Games ► Visual Novels ► Mods

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Replied On Jul 13th 2025:
It's okay, but I don't think using FL for a total conversion was worth it.

Replied On Jul 13th 2025:
Sorry everyone. I know this is probably a cursed post, but everyone keeps bringing it up as an injoke or something. What exactly is the 'Rambo Maria' mod?

Replied On Jul 13th 2025:
its like the my immortal of FL fics, and some guy even went and programmed it as a mod. its trash. totally avoid it.

►Arc of Infinity
Replied On Jul 13th 2025:
acleee isn't wrong. Basically, Rampart played Fortune Lover, and apparently never got that it's an Otome Romance, and he complained about how Maria was a 'weakling' because she never fought back and had to rely on guys.

Anyways, long story short, he wrote these extra scenes to insert into Geord's route where Enemy Number One hires - legit hires despite being a literal moron - an assassin to kill Maria. Get this, then Maria whips out a sword and the readers are treated to pages and pages of Errol Flynning stupidity, up and down staircases and light magic being flung like magic missiles. It's the most contrived thing thing in the world.

Anyways, Rampart's a joke, as is the mod, so that's how we treat it, when we allow it to be mentioned at all.

Replied On Jul 13th 2025:
I'm suddenly sorry for asking.

►Simon's Other Son
Replied On Jul 13th 2025:
It's the stupidest shit in the world.

Like, you know that thing about 13-year-old Naruto fans going on about katanas cutting tanks in half? That for 10 pages.

"Thankfully Maria knew Kenjutsu and was able to parry the European Zweihander aside."

Assassin with a Zweihander!

Replied On Jul 13th 2025:
Okay guys, let's get back on topic before this turns into the eleventy-first Rambo Maria derail.

The Kingdom's capital had its dark sides. When enough homes and businesses were packed together, the center became a twisting maze where the neglected and the forgotten gathered.

In one dead-end alley was a door. The establishment it connected to had no name, but it was referred to as the Upside Down Horse, given the bizarre gibberish symbol painted on its front entrance. Maybe it was a horse. Maybe it was a curse. No one cared.

The inside was humble enough, looking for all the world like another hole-in-the-wall tavern where those could slip away for an evening and have their drinks, no questions asked.

Despite its isolated location, it always seemed the drink was plenty and the food was unusually well-made. Perhaps it was a reward for keeping secrets. Or perhaps the people there never bothered asking the purpose of such patronage by outside forces.

Such forces, in exchange for the Upside Down Horse's continued financial success, only asked that a room upstairs be kept off limits except for certain parties, who would be best left forgotten, unless one wanted their life-spans severely contracted.

Two such figures took advantage of this. One sat by a desk in the corner of the room, barely illuminated by the one candle the woman - for that was all that could be discerned - allowed. The other was a silhouette that stood at the light's edge, solid, black and unknown.

"We're both professionals. I won't try and act coy," The woman said curtly. "There is someone at the magic academy we require killed."

"This cannot be done by subterfuge?" The shadow asked.

"We've considered it. We've even noticed an attempt at play, but we feel it isn't cost efficient. By contrast, an immediate strike can produce confirmed results. The target's value is in her social connections. Her death will help destabilise the kingdom in the future. A murder might lead to a culprit, but it might also lead to pointed fingers, ruining international relations."

"I understand."

"You'll receive half of your commission now, and half when the funeral bells start ringing." The woman turned and raised a parchment to show it to the shadow.

"This is who must be killed."

The shadow dripped forward into the light, until a hand emerged to pluck the sheet from the woman's fingers, and memorised the sketched image before touching it against the candle, so that it burst into flame.

"It shall be done."

Moonlight painted the grounds of the magic academy that Katarina passed through. It lent the place a romantic, fairy tale air, a place for love to have secret liaisons, and more.

That was for the romantic, however. Maria Campbell and Geord Stuart might have enjoyed such fantasies in passing, but not when they had spent almost all day in either intense classes or doing student council work. What was left in their wake was a burning desire to go to bed and sleep.

The only small, but very vital upside to all this was Katarina Claes, who the two flanked. In her arms was a pile of books that she held with both hands in a stack that far outweighed the two her best friends held.

"Thank you so much, Katarina," Maria repeated, for what might have been the third time. Even if she knew the response, she couldn't help herself. "I know you and Geord didn't have to go out of your way to carry all these…"

"Nonsense! These hardly weigh anything!" The brunette laughed, despite the hour, before breaking into a yawn of her own. "What's that saying? Many hands… spoil the broth?"

"'Many hands make light work'," Geord corrected, chuckling. "As my fiance says, none of us would ever object to helping one of our friends in need."

Granted, it was because having a moonlit stroll with Katarina gave Geord a little something to hold over the others' heads. Maria mostly preferred it as something to add to her little collection of cherished memories. But as the other saying went, the one is good by doing good.

Yes, just the three of them that night, walking down the arcade next to the open field. And when Maria realised it, she slowly came to a halt.

Katarina and Geord turned to their companion, confusion clear on their faces.

"Maria?" Katarina began to ask, before the blonde held out a hand, asking for silence.

Maria might have left the countryside, but one couldn't take the countryside out of her. And one lesson she had learned very well was this: when the animals were quiet, it meant predators were around.

And listening, Maria felt a growing unease that she needed to hide as well.

Geord's eyes narrowed in recognition. While he didn't have the same lesson as his romantic rival, his instincts also picked the air of disquieting stillness suffusing the area.

By now even Katarina began looking nervously between the two, knowing at least that they were suddenly worried, if not about what.

The third prince of the kingdom shouted out into the air. "If someone here has evil intentions, reveal yourself. We won't be taken for fools!"

For several agonising seconds, it seemed like Geord would only pay with his embarrassment. But then, further down the corridor, a shadow started dislodging from behind an archway, before the dark shape congealed into a recognisable pair of legs, then a torso being hung from a pair of arms, before the figure dropped onto its feet, dark cloak and hood covering it.

"Who are you?" Geord called out warningly. "You're trespassing on school grounds."

In response, the figure reached for its waist, and the three students jerked back at the sight of a longsword being drawn before being held low in both hands.

"Are you pointing a sword at Geord Stuart, Third Prince of the kingdom?" Geord shouted, this time, both in warning and in a call of alarm. The threat from him was clear. This was the first time he had to weaponise his title.

"Bite me," The dark figure retorted, before walking forward a few steps until it broke into a sprint at them, blade tilting upwards.

"Katarina, Maria, get behind-" Geord immediately shouted, pushing himself ahead of the two girls, before thrusting his hands forward. At the same time, he drew on his inner heat, and in an instant, the arcade passage was enveloped in fire magic.

Maria and Katarina stared in horror. It didn't matter if they were being attacked, this was the first time they had seen Geord so quickly and efficiently turn his magic into something violent.

And in spite of that, the flames parted with a tempest burst, the attacker practically rocketing out of the inferno. Geord didn't even have time to blink before a knee smashed into his cheek. In the bright light of Geord's fire, Katarina could see how the attack was ready for war, with greaves and gauntlets strapped to its extremity, and knives strapped to its front. It wore a cloth mask that almost completely concealed the attacker's face, save perhaps a passing flash of yellow. This figure practically carried the Third Prince onward on its knee, past Katarina and Maria until they crashed to the ground; Geord slamming limply onto the hard stone floor, while the hooded fighter rolled forward and onto its feet.

"He has wind magic!" Maria whispered, stunned in realisation of what could have defeated the flames. Here was another figure who was dead set on using the power invested in him to hurt others.

The figure turned around to face the two, and walked over to the unconscious prince, his sword's tip drifting just a few inches off the ground, and then it began to trace its way over Geord's chest.

Katarina's eyes widened, and realised her first friend just a thought away from being skewered.

"Don't hurt him!" She cried out, begging, arms raised.

The assassin lazily - almost contemptuously - walked over the royal, and stalked a straight line towards the remaining two students, and Katarina realised she was wrong.

He was coming for them.

In that instant, all sorts of old lessons that the girl had left packed away in her memory came flooding forth. Memories from summers with Grandmother, who told her what to do when suspicious and dangerous men came out into the country. Advice from a retired old soldier who tutored the rich and foolish about protecting themselves. It had been forgotten for a long time, because Claes, for a long time, saw no danger, though she had expected it. And now there was.

Prioritise your safety .

The brunette grabbed her friend by the wrist and dragged her along, almost violently.

"Come on, we're outta here!"

The two raced down the halls, back into the school's administrative building, and the heavy footballs resounding behind them was all they needed to know the chase was on.

Katarina didn't even need to guess who the assassin was after. Maria was the heroine of Fortune Lover , the love interest of two princes, and the sons of a prime minister and a duke. Bad guys always went after princesses! Or… functional princesses!

Katarina was damned if she was going to let things go that way. She was a villainess with standards, and Otome games had elegant and ladylike bullies, not crazy, creepy, sword-swinging Dark Souls -looking ripoffs!

A loud popping broke the monotony. Maria turned to look behind her, and saw the assassin hurtling through the air, like a human arrow loosed from a bow.

"He's going to reach us!" She cried out.

Katarina choked with annoyance, features contorted with rage, and she turned to the first door they were beside. With a might and highly ignoble lift of her leg, her booted foot slammed into the locked knob and smashed it open. Katarina pulled her friend inside just in time to avoid a blurring figure that had carved a groove in the wall as it flew past, his sword skipping across the doorframe and narrowly missing their backs.

The momentary reprieve was enough for Maria quickly slam the door shut, before the two together grabbed the first heavy thing they could see - a large desk - and shoved it to jam the entrance shut.

The two turned and looked around. They were in one of the administrative offices, and the thing was that it was no place to protect themselves. There were doors in two other walls, so nothing was keeping the assassin out.

"Geord's been hurt. He needs help," Maria said, panting from the sudden run for her life. "We need help. No one ever comes to this building after dark. Well, barring us."

"We need to get to the dorms," Katarina agreed. "There has to be guards… or teachers… even Keith!"

"Your brother?" Maria couldn't help but ask, head tilting in confusion, which was met but a hurried but proud nod from Katarina.

"His golems are crazy! He'd squash that loser in an instant!"

It was as good a plan as any. That meant the first thing they had to do was find a way out. As much as it pained them, Geord was the safest he would be, being ignored so long as the assassin kept hunting the two of them.

Side by side, Katarina and Maria crossed room after room, opening door after door to find their way back to the front entrance.

The next opened door pulled the two students into a larger hall.

"Have we been here before?" Katarina couldn't help but ask.

"It's a showroom for guests," Maria offhandedly answered, as she continued deeper in. It made sense if Katarina, bless her short-term memory, didn't recall ever visiting, since it had no value for her. It was a miniature museum, filled with a few glass tables and cabinets containing old parchments and books. For those of more juvenile persuasion, there were cases full of weapons. Swords of all shapes and sizes, which Maria couldn't care for the reason why, hung on walls or in more cases. A few were held by suits of displayed armour, and a few long spears were bundled and left to stand.

It was perfect for boys who needed to be convinced the magic academy was a path to swashbuckling fame and fortune. Maria was glad enough they were reduced to show pieces. Oddly enough, Katarina had paused for a second to stare at the rack of swords.

Maria calling her name was enough to shake her from her stupor. "Sorry!" Katarina apologized.

At that moment, the double doors into the armory were kicked open to admit the cloaked assassin inside, sword held hanging from one hand. His yellow eyes meeting those of Katarina and Maria were enough to send them scrambling for another exit at the far end of the room, while they put as many cabinets and desks between them as they could.

The assassin watched them run, judging the distance as he began to raise his hand over his head. It was a bad angle and a bad shot, however, if tried as per usual…

He flung his hand forward, and the longsword shot through the air, buffeted by a cushion of wind. Whistling forth, it barely missed the back of Katarina's head as it slammed into the plaster wall with enough force to bury itself halfway. Its length was therefore sufficient to be in Maria's way, who had neither time to react, especially with the way Geord's nominal fiance was pulling her along.

Maria gave a short cry of pain as she crashed headlong into the protruding sword grip, and the sudden blow sent her jerking backwards, while Katarina's mad sprint suddenly lost its counterbalance, sending the brunette pitching forward and tumbling into the ground.

The assassin was on them in seconds, pushed by wind so that he could run across the glass-panelled desks weightlessly until he dropped atop Maria. He grabbed a fistful of her blonde hair and slammed her face first into the wall, eliciting a terrified shriek from the commoner student, especially when she saw the assassin pull a knife from his chest-mounted brace.

"No!" Katarina screamed, trying to scramble to her knees to do something to do something.

The knife came to a stop against the side of Maria's neck.

"Please, please, don't hurt her," Katarina gasped, trying to placate the killer.

There was a twinkle in the assassin's eyes as he spoke. It was muffled, and the voice sounded warped. From where she was, Maria faintly guessed his mastery of wind magic was such that he could even alter the sounds passing through the air in front of his mouth.

"Stand up, Katarina Claes."

Unsteadily, the girl did, eyes narrowed in uncertainty.

"Come over, arms spread. One good shot to your heart and death will be instant and painless."

Maria and Katarina's eyes widened in unison, the former in realisation, the latter in confusion.

"You're after her?" Maria whispered in shock.

"Y-You're after me? Why?" Katarina dumbly asked.

The assassin outright giggled, his warping pitches sending chills down Katarina's spine.

"You're serious! So the academy's little saint isn't putting on airs, she's really just a dumb and carefree puppy."

"I-I'm not dumb!"

Maria tried her best not to grimace at the denial.

"I'm not here to explain things. Just come over."

Katarina didn't.

"Of course, you don't have to, if you think your life is so precious. I'll even let you go tonight. All it'll cost is Miss Campbell here, and the Third Prince back there, hm?"

Katarina glared, and hissed in frustration.

"Two lives for the price of one. An average deal when it comes to nobility. Or perhaps you can make it one life for two?"

"You know me?" Maria asked, desperately trying to find a way to bide time. Katarina couldn't… shouldn't… but Maria knew if there was anyone who would...

"I do my research," The assassin whispered close and fast to her, before calling out to Katarina. "Come quickly, Lady Claes. Before we check how sturdy Miss Campbell's neck is."

The brunette's head lowered for an instant, seriously considering the choice, if there was one at all.

And she slowly began to walk forward.

"K-Katarina… don't…!" Maria begged.

That was when she passed the longsword, still embedded in the wall.

This wasn't a new trick for the assassin. He counted at least five occasions in the last year where his quarry desperately grabbed for the sword, believing it would save them. The simpering fools never had the strength though. Lives spent drinking wine and eating quail egg delicacies left them too feeble to lift anything heavier than a spoon.

But of course, how would he know Katarina spent her life hauling sacks of soil, tilling the ground and prying vegetables from the earth like the farmers?

When she grabbed the sword, she pulled, and it came loose as easily as any tuber she had handled in her life.

"Katarina!" Maria screamed as her friend bared down on her and her captor.

The assassin chose to protect himself, and immediately pulled Maria from the wall to shove her towards Katarina while backing away. The brunette threw her arms open to grab her friend as she collided into her, before pulling her to the side with one arm so that she could point her stolen blade at the assassin, with a fierce frown.

"You know how to fight?" Maria couldn't help but ask.

"I had a few lessons, just in case."

The two parties stood off, and Katarina knew things weren't going to stay this way.

"Maria, I need you to go and find help from Keith, Alan, and the rest."

"What!? No, I can't leave you, you're the one he wants!"

"I can't protect you either, Maria!" Katarina fiercely argued, as she kept her eyes fixed on her opponent. "He won't go after you as long as he has me."


"Maria, trust me. I'm not going to die to such a badly written ending."

The blonde was near tears at the thought of abandoning her… Katarina. But she was right. This would go on forever if one of them didn't get help, and only one of them knew how to fight.

"I'll be back!" She declared and ran for the far door.

Neither Katarina or her would-be killer moved until the door slammed shut. Then the latter hummed, more amused by anything as he began sauntering to the side, tracing an eye over Katarina's form: the way her legs were spread. How both hands were wrapped around the grip to keep it perfectly centred and ahead of her chest. The way her eyes tracked her enemy.

"Hm, that's definitely the posture for a longsword. You've actually been tutored by a soldier. I'm impressed. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking a fight's the same as a duel, with rapiers and epees. Comparable, but a fight doesn't exactly have rules-"

A knife flew through the air at Katarina, who effortlessly knocked it aside with a shallow, quick swing of her stolen sword.

"To think such a sop was prepared for a war. How very, very interesting. Then perhaps I'll treat you to a war?"

The assassin's gauntleted hand faced no difficulty punching through a glass case to reach in and pull out an absolutely massive zweihander.

Katarina's eyes widened in growing horror at the length and weight of the approaching weapon. She barely backed away before the long sword whorled through the space she had occupied. A few deft twists of his arms, and the assassin brought the sword around again and again. He knew what he was using.

Again and again, she narrowly dodged away. Despite the larger weapon, the assassin was still nimble, even more so perhaps thanks to the wind magic at his command.

Katarina growled in frustration. There was no way a longsword would block something like that. She would just get crushed by the force of the blow itself. That meant she couldn't just enter the assassin's great range or even parry.

She could have grabbed for a nearby spear or halberd, but her old tutor always refused to let her 'taste-test' as he called it. "We're going to make you good for emergencies. Leave all these weapons for paid professionals."

Yeah, like the one in front of her. Where the hell was this in Fortune Lover? Some stupid third-party DLC thrown in to milk the licence!?

That didn't change the reality of the situation. She could only defend, and that left her attacker free to, well, attack. And he was a mean one, too. When Katarina put an upright cabinet between them, he merely swung his sword into the case, shattering it with a hammer blow that sent glass every direction.

Katarina yelped and brought her arms up over her face to block the sharp glass shards, letting them scratch her limbs rather than her face.

She wasn't going to win in this room. And her old mentor had something to say about that.

"We're not duelling, here, Lady Claes. If someone's out after your blood, you have to do whatever it takes to keep it on you. Cheat, run away. Do whatever it takes to get to a place where you can even the odds- no, make the odds overwhelmingly in your favour."

Where could she pull something like that off? Where could she-

Would that even work?

There wasn't exactly time to second guess as Katarina ducked under a swing that warped the air above her. The impromptu fighter took a swing at the assassin's legs, but a mere raise of the shin caused the sword to bounce off its armour. Then, as it was still lifted, the killer thrust it out in a kick that planted itself in Katarina's side, sending her tumbling back across the ground.

She gasped for air, and looked up just in time to roll away from the following downwards chop that smashed the tile floor where she had been.

"Ah! Whatever!" Katarina whined, now that she had room to breathe. Picking herself up, she ran for her life through the open double doors and out the hall.

The assassin chased after her, pausing only for a second to grab a second sword from an open rack, sliding it between the belts of his pants.

Katarina ran, until she managed to even clear the front doors of the academy's administrative building. Turning, she charged into the open lawn ringing the facility, before turning around to fix herself in another guarded stance ahead of the approaching assassin, who slowed down to an easy walk.

"I'm warning you. You better back off, or you'll get a taste of my fearsome earth magic!" Katarina warned.

"Ah, we're threatening to use magic now. Not particularly smart, challenging me in open air either, you know," The assassin cooly retorted.

Katarina didn't say a thing, merely keeping her sword up.

The assassin shrugged. "Well, let's get back to it then, shall we?"

And once more he plunged forth, sword swiping out, and the noble girl dodging away. But in the middle of a particularly invested downwards strike, his foot slid forth to balance his frame. And that was when Katarina found her opportunity.

Her magic exploded out from under her feet.

"Earth Bump!"

A few centimetres of dirt jutted out of the soil. And for once, that was all she needed.

The assassin's toes caught on the sudden protrusion. It was hilariously mollifying to Katarina to hear him give an undignified yelp as he suddenly pitched forward, one knee hitting the ground while his swing went horribly askew to bury itself in the soft soil.

Katarina was on the assassin now, like an avalanche. She struck again and again, aimed with intent at the attacker's hooded head and shoulders. Trapped on his knees, he could only bring up his sword, one armored hand grabbing it midway down the blade and using it as a bar to ward off the various slashes. There was no way he could bring its full weight to bear now, and each strike he blocked from Katarina, he could feel the vibrations running down his arms.

So he simply jabbed forward with his half-sword grip, the bladed bar clashing with Katarina's sword for an instant before he shoved her back further and take the opportunity to rise-

"Earth Bump!"

He stumbled again, but this time, as he fell he swung the Zweihander down before letting loose, wind magic turning the twirling sword into a sharp discus. While Katarina eeped and dodged to the side, the assassin rose to his feet, and let the basket-hilt sword he had stolen cut through the belt he had squeezed it under, allowing the empty sheath for the longsword to hit the ground while he darted forward.

Another sudden burst of earth magic forced him to dodge sideways as well, and the two stood off, swords at the ready.

Katarina wasn't exactly the sort to detail deep strategies internally, but she knew that her attacker had a sword, a bunch of knives, and some wind magic… if only she had Nicol or Sophia to ask for advice! All she could do was try and react. How long had their exchanges been? A few minutes? But it felt like hours, as the brunette heaved for air and tried to keep the trembling and adrenaline to a minimum even as they wracked her body.

The assassin, however, found himself trying to pin down Katarina in his mind. The girl was certainly a surprise. He bet most would scoff at the paltry show of magic, but it was a perfect weapon for a swordswoman. He was at a disadvantage in an open field, where the footing could be pulled out from under him with a few syllables.

It was such an unexpected challenge. She was so unexpected. This was fun. He hadn't had a challenge like this in years, with this perfect synthesis of swordplay and clashing magic. And he was running out of time, too! The pressure, the tension! How amazing!

Katarina listened to the assassin bark a laugh, before he drew and threw another knife at her. Jerking out of its path occupied her long enough for the assassin to make headway in a charge towards her.

"Earth Bump!"

Again the ground broke before the cloaked figure, but he skipped and leaped forward, letting the wind carry him across the ground several more feet until they were in range of each other. Then the sword fighting began proper.

Katarina might have been an unblooded fighter, but the fundamentals still remained in her bones. The longsword made minute parries and swirling deflections that pushed every thrust aside and redirected every slash away from her, so that the assassin should have left his chest open for a riposte. But every attempt merely had the attacker twist away from the strikes, or defend just as well, even with the fat gauntlet squeezing into the one-handed sword as it did.

"Good! Very good! You're quite accomplished!" He laughed. "But-!"

Katarina tried to go for a rising slash, given her enemy's continued high stance with his outstretched arm. She had planned to catch his underside with her longsword. Instead, a third dagger in the assassin's off grip caught the sword as it rose, to clamp it with the basket-hilt sword that fell from above, trapping Katarina's blade. Then, he swept the knife forward, letting it screech along the flat until it hit the crossguard.

Before Katarina could react, he pushed upwards, levering the sword out of her hands so that it spun above and past the assassin to hit the dirt behind him.

In another instant, the figure planted a forward thrusting kick into Katarina's chest, sending her crashing onto her back on the lawn's neatly shorn grass. As she gathered herself upon her elbows, she looked up and saw the assassin pull his sword back for a finishing thrust.

"As I end the refrain…!"

No time to cast even the shortest of spells. No weapon to grab onto. The death flag right in front of her. All other nobles had hit their limit here.

But not Katarina. After all, she had been fighting her routes since the age of eight.

Katarina reached into her pockets and threw a snake at the assassin.

"What the-!?"

Swiping the reptile out of the air, the assassin could immediately tell something was wrong. He had cut through rubber. He had cut through- he had been fooled by a toy.

Snarling, he twisted around to follow Katarina as she rolled past him and dashed for the fallen sword. He hurled the dagger, fuelled with enough angry magic to turn it supersonic, he'd punch a hole in her-

She threw herself towards the sword, and in mid air, she thrust her hand behind her, "Earth Bump!"

Soil blasted upward under the assassin's heel, making him throw the knife into the ground pointlessly. Instead, he used the motion to tuck inwards and fling himself at Katarina.

The sword was on the ground, and she grabbed blindly. There was no time to do anything properly. She felt its edge bite into her gloves-

The assassin was about to plunge his sword downwards-

Katarina spun around, screaming, and she slammed the crossguard and handle into the assassin's face.

There was a satisfying rattle that ran the length of the sword and into Katarina's fingers, even as she put all her energy into the swing, enough that the assassin was carried backwards until he smashed into the ground, sword on his masked face. The assassin's weapon slipped from his fingers from the sheer force of the blow, spilling onto the ground around him.

"That's for Geord, you jerk!" Katarina screamed.

The backwards weapon was pulled away for an instant, and as the assassin scrambled to rise, he was met with a second, even more intent-filled strike that sent him crashing back down, stunned.

"And that one's for Maria!" The girl crowed, angrily triumphant.

In the distance, familiar voices were crying out, followed by the whistling of the guard and the unmistakable grinding noise of Keith's golems.




Katarina swirled around, sighing with relief, before calling back. "Guys! I'm here!"

She made a mistake of turning her back on her opponent.

Motion suddenly blurred in the corner of Katarin's vision, and she spun, trying to get her sword up-

A knife was at her throat.

The assassin was laughing. Heartily, whimsically, and fearlessly. Like he had just heard the first good joke in a long time. He was close enough that Katarina could see his piercing yellow eyes as he leered in, and feel the wind magic warble around his masked mouth.

"You're so fun, Katarina Claes! You're really good. I can't finish this job if it ends with my capture."

The knife left her throat, and Katarina stumbled away, gasping, with a hand at her neck.

"You're literally the first one who's fought back like this. I've killed women before, but it's like crushing a doll underfoot, such fragile things. But you're quite a stout girl. Different from all the others."

The assassin reached up to pull down his mask. When he had flung himself back onto his feet, his hood had fallen away.

And it was not a man. Katarina saw the face of her attacker, and it was the unmistakable frame of a girl. Who knows how much older she was than herself. However she looked was lost in what she looked like now: midnight black hair spilling around her neck in disorganised tendrils, pale skin a canvas for the blood pouring from her nose and mouth, a crazed stare, and a loud spit to release a globule of crimson saliva before she gave a wide grin with her red-smeared teeth.

"Why… why are you after me?" Katarina could only ask.

"Why not? You're special," The assassin said. "If there's anyone in the world worth killing, it'd be you, believe me. You should be honoured, to know people want you dead."

When Raphael spewed angry threats and taunts, there had always been a sense of desperation. It was enough to make Katarina want to understand him more. All the compliments this girl was giving her only made her feel sick to her stomach. They were niceties that did nothing to change her violent designs on Claes. Crocodile tears, or rather, crocodile smiles.

It was enough to make her glare.

It only made the assassin smile widely. "That expression of yours. No woman's ever made a face like that at me. Maybe under all that pleasantness is a little beast, too. I like that. I like you."

"...I don't," Was all Katarina offered in retort.

The assassin girl laughed brightly, before pulling her hood back over her head, so all that could be seen were two oily yellow lanterns, and a blood-stained grinning jaw.

She winked.

"Keep an eye out at night. We're not finished. Not by a long-shot."


Geord's voice cut through the still air, closer than the rest.

Taking that as her cue, the assassin called up a cushion of wind underneath her, enough to throw her upwards and clear over the roof of the school administration build, so that she disappeared behind its spires and tiles.

"Katarina!" Geord's voice repeated again, and Katarina turned around to see the Third Prince stagger out the school's front entrance at the same time the rest of her close circle of friends arrived, Maria last, her face so red from her running she looked ready to faint as a tomato.

In that moment, all the fight left Katarina, who dropped her sword, and stumbled towards them in order to wrap her arms around as many as she could in one go.

It was a night too long. But somehow, she had avoided destruction.