Do I look smart and beautiful enough to have come up with the brilliance that is Rekka no Ken? . . .
Aw, I'm flattered, but seriously? I didn't create Rekka no Ken, IT AIN'T MINE.

Rated for kissing (yes, Lucius DOES get some action in this chapter! Very tough to write--) and
for all that shounen-ai goodness. That, and the shockingly obvious lack of het . . . Not even Jaffar/
Nino is mentioned. How . . . sad.

This is it, then. Teh end. . . Wow, it's over? Kind of weird, actually . . . I really truly enjoyed writing
this, it was fun, and I'd appreciate it if you let me know if you enjoy the ending or not (too fluffy,
methinks . . . ) I couldn't get in touch with my beta, so typos galore. (e-mail issues; hey R Amythest,
I think the problem was at your end cuz my email's working fine with everyone else I've mailed.)
Not to mention, the chapter is some 3000 words shorter then I orginally intended . . . deal with it.

I'm glad to know all my readers actually took the forty-five minutes of your life to read this, and for
a few of you, to appreciate the work I put into it and reviewed.

You'll be seeing me back in the FE section soon, that's a promise!

-------------------------------start fic----------------------------------

I scrambled up, haphazardly throwing myself to the side. The second spear sank harmlessly into the
wood with a solid twanging THUNK.

He had come, I realized with a sinking feeling, from Wil and Rath's direction. Were they okay? Had
they hidden in time, had the enemy paladin missed them completely? I had no way to find out, and
the priority at the moment was two things.

One, survival. I picked up the hem of my robes and screamed, as loud as I could, which was
unfortunately very high pitched. As much as I'm sure the enemy was disarmed by my, er, 'manly' war
cry, I wasn't about to take chances and I turned in the general direction of the camp and ran.

Now, I've previously mentioned the difficulties of running in heels and a skirt (not that it's a skirt, of
course . . . it's robes, I swear!) and when said runner doesn't even have a path to follow, it doesn't
help. I hopped as best as I could over logs and stones, and while thankfully the woods hindered the
horseman more then it did me, my chances for survival were still slim.

Priority number two was to warn the camp of attack, which meant that survival wasn't as much of a
priority as getting within yelling distance of the camp was. Gee, wasn't I just a little ray of optimism
. . . must be lack of sleep.

I was trapped, in some bizarre scene from one of Serra's romance novels. Running frantically
through the forest, tripping over my heels, pathetically fleeing my malicious pursuer. . . I resent being
cast as the damsel in distress, if only I had my magic. . .

I stumbled, tripping. I let out a muffled yelp as I managed to catch myself against a tree. I tried to
regain my footing, but really . . . even in a forest where I have a movement advantage over horses,
I'm no match for a purebred battle steed. I was too late in recovering, and the paladin raised his
throwing arm.

I seem to remember Serra saying something about this situation from her novels, as well . . . at this
point, some 'dashing hero' would leap from the air behind me, brandishing a magic blade, defeating
the 'dastardly villian' and then proceed to whisk 'beautiful damsel' away to their impromptu wedding.

I really should have tried to dodge, or move, or SOMETHING as he aimed directly at my face, but
my mind was too busy stupidly thinking something along the lines of 'So, where's the hero?'

A bolt of light sizzled past my nose . . . light magic, my mind registered dully, as it struck the paladin
on the shoulder. His aim thrown off -- understandable, as being struck by a firey bolt of lightning can
be a bit distracting -- the spear whistled over my head and clattered noisily across the rocks.

"Lucius!" Wielding a Light Brand, a Hero DID slide in front of me, twirling his sword with an expert
flourish. I found enough strength to blink foolishly. " . . . Lord Raven?"

. . . Alright, so if Lord Raven's the 'dashing hero' I suppose being the damsel in distress isn't all that
bad a role . . .

"L-Lord Raven!" I blinked again, and shook my head to clear my thoughts. Yes, it was Lord Raven.
Nice noun, how about a few verbs? "W-What are you doing here?"

The enemy looked down at the hero as if he were no more than a pesky distraction to be crushed. I
winced . . . one thing about Raymond, he's proud to a fault. His stubborness and pride make him a
hassle to talk to, but in battle they make him a force to be reckoned with. He narrowed his eyes against
our opponents's scorn, and regripped his swordhandle.

"Lucius," He said steadily, "The camp's been attacked. There's a spellbook of yours in my pack, dig it
out." I did so, fumbling the book into my arms, barely catching it.

The paladin seemed amused by this, obviously not thinking I was much of a threat. I really did have to
agree with him there. Normally, I wouldn't be worried. But you see, as much as I hate to state the
obvious . . . Raven, he has a sword. He's very good with it and all, but the enemy paladin . . . he had
a lance. And well, while I might not exactly be an expert at the finer points of close combat, I know
that lances best swords.

I blinked at the spellbook in my arms. It was thicker then all of my books, would I be able to use it?
I hefted it over to check the spine. . . Aura?

This spellbook . . . wasn't one of mine. I wasn't even sure if I could use it or not . . . I pried it open,
trying to ignore the clanging of metal on metal. The symbols were familiar, at least . . . I chanted the
latin as fast and clearly as I could, hoping that it didn't turn out to be some sort of cleaning or utterly
useless spell.

The paladin jerked up, finally getting it through his thick skull that I might actually be a threat. He lifted
a rather large sword, almost as big as Raven's, and raising it, began to charge. There was no way
either Raven or I could survive his critical attack . . . Raven tensed up, but didn't move from his
protective stance in front of me.

My chanting raised pitch considerably. Lifting an arm, I felt the magic rise to a cresendo within me and
I released the power with the final line. ". . . tui potentia arguo ut ego; propinquo, et servo!"

I winced from my own spell's power. I was scarcely braced for the blast of air hat followed, nor the
loud shriek of the spell as it ripped the air. Light flashed against my eyelids, and it was more then a
few seconds before I could bring up the courage to face the enemy again.

. . . problem was, there wasn't so much an enemy as much as a smoking bit of crater.

Raven didn't look half as shocked as I felt . . . in actuality, he didn't look shocked at all. He gave a
curt nod and swung his sword blade from a ready position to it's casual resting place on his shoulder.
It was as though he'd EXPECTED me all along to have the ability to unleash Elimine's divine wrath
upon unsuspecting enemies. . . I was having trouble in deciding whether to gape at Raymond or at
the spellbook in my lap.

. . . and a small, disgruntled voice at the back of my mind was managing to mumble, 'So much for
damsel in distress . . . I guess this means no whisking off to a wedding?'

"Raven . . ." I said in a fainter voice then usual, "Where did you get this?"

He shrugged, an oddly expressive gesture for Raymond. "Enemy bishop. He was carrying it, and it
looked useful."

I blindly began to follow him back to the camp. "Ah, right . . ." I said, sounding rather flat in my mild
state of shock. "Useful . . ." I shook my head to clear it.

The camp seemed to recovering from a more serious part of the battle. I wrinkled my nose in
distaste as I stepped over a brutally hacked body, wondering just who had thought it funny to give
Karel a longsword. Karel near a regular sword is scary. . . Karel near any other kind of sword is
just plain messy. I lifted my robes as daintily as possible to keep the blood from getting on them.

"Lucius, stay near the camp." I looked up at Raven, his face was set and he looked annoyed.
Battle, to say the least, didn't bring out the best in him. "Stick to healing for awhile," he ordered,
eyes glittering.

"I'll try, milord," I said softly, with a small bow. It had to be a small bow; any lower, and my hair
would have dipped into that rather nasty looking puddle in front of me.

Lord Raven didn't look too happy with my answer, but he was being called to from our left. He gave
me an annoyed look -- which my Raven senses translate into 'worried' -- but gave me a curt nod
before briskly walking off.

Eliwood and the tactician were pointedly debating the fate of two captured bandits, hogtied to their
right . . . that is, before Geitz decided to end the debate, and his hand axe cleanly knocked the
heads off both of them. Both the tactician and Lord Eliwood blinked, and then gave a joint resigned
sigh, rubbing their temples wearily.

Serra hadn't been as lucky as I, and HAD gotten blood on her robes, and was shrieking at Erk to
do her laundry. Erk was beginning to glow from his suppressed annoyance, and I hoped Serra
noticed before the mage had to release all that energy -- at her.

Matthew and Guy were arguing about who'd killed more. . . . apparently, all Matthew had done the
entire battle was kill off enemies that had been weakened already by Guy, stealing from his kill count.
Guy looked ready to start throttling the thief before Matthew grinned and leaned in close, whispering
something in Guy's ear. The swordmaster . . . blushed heavily.

I wisely decided not to read into that.


I winced as the girlish shriek sounded to my right . . . although it sounded very dstressed. My memory
seemed to recall an archer with that self same call . . .

"Rath!" I heard Wil's voice wail again in a panicked tone. "H-Hey, stop, horse! Horse, I m-mean it!"
A disjointed trot met my ears, and as I swivelled to meet it, I saw Kent rush forward to grab the
reins of Rath's mare . . . a mare which had only one rider, Wil.

My mind dimly thought 'Well, at least he hasn't fallen off yet' before realizing the connotations of a
Rath-less horse. Lyn must have realized this before me and darted over to Wil, helping him off the
horse and rattling off questions at the same time.

Wil wailed out the answers the way he wailed out everything else: loudly. "We were practicing -- you
know, riding and stuff -- and then WHAM! We were attacked by this gigantic horse guy! Rath
drew his sword and yelled something Sacaen at his horse, and then the beast set off towards here,
with me on it! And --"

The tactician broke into Wil's monologue, barking out extra orders in his/her urgent voice. "The
battle's not over yet, dammit, the enemy reinforcements arrived! No -- I said, NO, don't mind that
now, Lowen, get up!"

Needless to say, it's hard to ignore our resident strategist. "Sain, get over there, now! Kent, you
too, and if Rath isn't dead already, give him this." Kent caught the pro-offered Elixer with an
expert catch, and the tactician turned and commanded the rest of us, "I want the north edge of
camp fortified with --"

As people scrambled to obey his/her orders, I knelt by Wil, who was now trying to hold back
tears at the mention of Rath's possible death. Wil looked blinkly at the earth by his knee, and
then up at me.

"He was. . . buying me time, wasn't he?"

Now I could tell that Wil was dead serious due to three startling facts. He had, for one, just
spoken in a reasonably coherantly formed sentence. For two, my ears weren't humming from
Wil's usual volume. And three . . . he had a stratling lack of grin on his face. Wil was Very Serious.

Well, I certainly couldn't lie . . . I bit my lip. "I-It sounds like it," I admitted hesitantly, hoping he
didn't decide to do anything stupid. A few moments later I realized, my hopes were in vain.

I couldn't help but be able to feel the emotional waves coming from him, he seemed to ooze his
feelings in the most childlike way possible, to the point of his eyes brimming with tears of
frustration. He roughly rubbed his fist across his eyes, and then looked up at me in an something
akin to helpless anger. ". . . I'll go after him."

What? I blinked down at him, perhaps my sleep deprived mind wasn't interpreting this right . . . no,
I got that right . . . Wait, WHAT?! Was he insane? There were Elimine knows how many troops
in those forests, and without a close combat back-up unit? He'd be dead in three seconds flat! I
opened my mouth to tell him so, before I was interrupted.

"No, don't you DARE tell me not to go, because I've just made up my mind!" He began to struggle
valiantly to his feet, having collapsed from his emotional fit. I think I must have looked pretty
foolish, being told off by one of the camps permanent sugar highs, but luckily most of the camp
was already following the tactician's orders and heading north. Wil looked blankly at our migraing
comrades, and it was a moment before I relized that he really and truly wasn't joning them.

I had to swivel to find him walking in the opposite direction. You should know, as one of our few
long distance attackers -- including myself -- he was a crucial part of all our battle plans, and here
he was, walking off. This was going to utterly ruin the tactician's defensive strategy . . . What
was I doing? I had to do something!

"Wil," I yelped, following him, "Those aren't our orders! We're supposed to be back up for the
north side of camp!" A new fact struck me. "And . . . And if you're going to save Rath, he's
THAT way, not anywhere in THIS direction!" And I thought Wallace had a bad sense of
direction . . . well, yes, Wallace does have a bad sense of direction, but if this was a sign of
Wil's cluelessness worsening . . .

"Well, yeah, I need to get something first, it's just in here." Wil abrubtly ducked into a tent -- a tent
which wasn't his. I gawked at the tent, before stuttering, "W-Wil, wait! T-That' the TACTICIAN'S
tent!" He certainly hadn't asked if he could go in there! "That's stealing! Wil! WIL!!" The archer
popped out of the tent, ignoring me to the best of his abilities -- which was pretty good, considering
how blatantly oblivious he could be.

"It's not really, really stealing," He said in an almost stern voice -- 'almost' being the key word, as
his tone was closer to 'righteously pouty'. "I mean, it's not like it wasn't gonna be given to me
anyway." He opened his tightly clenched fist to reveal a silvery, strangely thin and overly long arrow,
before almost gingerly twirling it between his fingers. I blinked at the Orion's Bolt, then up at Wil.

"Surely . . ." I gaped up at him hesitantly. "You don't mean to use that!"

"Yup." Wil's tone was shockingly blithe, as he began a brisk and half-skipping walk, which I had
to jog to keep up with. Wil continued to jabber as we made our way through the now mostly
empty camp; the tactician having sent most our units to the north end. "I kinda have to, if I want to
get to Rath in time. We didn't bring our bows, Rath's only got his sword and no offense to him or
anything, but he's not very good yet. The Kutolah aren't a tribe for swords and blades and stuff, Lyn
told me that was more the Lorca and Creeoki thing . . .so he needs my help, right?"

Yes, that may be . . . "But --"

"You don't have to come if you don't want to," Wil pointed out. "I mean, I can go on my own. It's not
like I haven't gone solo before, I can do this, I know I can . . . I can't NOT be able to, after all, so
. . . " the archer trailed off as his voice wavered, and his steady walk staggered for a moment, before
he looked down to his hand and the arrow that lay in it. " . . . and this is going to make me stronger."
I winced at the reference to the object in his fist.

"Of course I have to come!" I found myself saying. "The tactician didn't send a healer along with you
or Kent or the others, I must go!" After all, what if they were hurt? In any case, Rath was definitely
going to need my help, he couldn't have fought with his premature sword abilities and not have
recieved any injuries . . . I decided to not mention this in front of Wil, as he might find a new use for that
Orion's Bolt involving the arrow's pointy end and my skull.

Surprisingly, Wil didn't talk as we made our way to their training ground. That was fairly worrisome,
as was the sight of his brows frowning in concentration. Wil rarely frowned, and his silence was oddly
even more distracting then his incessant chatter.

But upon reaching the lightly forested area, it was the scuffling sounds that drew my attention.

Rath. The nomad, at the very least, was still alive.

He wasn't as bad with a sword as the others had made him out to be. Rath's usually stoic form was
putting on quite a show, his scimitar flitting back and forth between the small crowd of opponents he'd
attracted to himself. From what I could tell, the horseman the Wil had spoken of was already taken
care of and laying limply on the ground, but had been replaced by three axemen.

Why weren't Kent and the others here yet? . . . Oh, right . . . horses don't move as fast through
forests, we'd made better time then they had, obviously . . .

Wil isn't very observant for an archer, and his eyes widened upon seeing the nomad. "RATH!" Wil
screamed. It was a useless gesture when I practically leaped on him to clap my hand to his mouth --
we certainly didn't need to be noticed -- but it was too late. The three bandits and the nomad jerked
up, Rath taking the opportunity to stumble back for some room.

Rath . . . wasn't normally one to stumble. He was obviously injured, and it was then I noticed the
growing patches of red that littered his torso and arms. They were dificult to see against his orange
and brown clothing.

One of the bandits broke off, deciding to take his chances with Wil and I. We certainly didn't look
as threatening as Rath. Most likely because between the two of us, Wil and I had a threatening
factor lying somewhere around 'wounded rabbit.'

Now normally, I'm alot faster then Wil, but the sudden oddness in the air made me fumble as I
fingered open my spellbook. I glanced at Wil, and my cause of uneasyness was clear.

It was still Wil standing there. But . . . his eyes seemed sharper, his stance and shoulders set more
determinedly, his bow had grown as tall as he was, and the shimmering Orion's Bolt he had been
notching had dulled to a normal wooden arrow. The archer -- no, the SNIPER -- drew back the

His eyes slitted, and with a hiss the arrow was promptly released into the face of the approaching
bandit. I winced and looked the other way before it hit the target -- and I know it hit the target,
because aforementioned target's last pained gurgle was a rather unpleasant testament to that. Once
I heard the reassuring 'thump' as the body hit the ground, I began to furiously chant at one of the
remaining bandits.

Wil didn't have enough time to notch another arrow, as Rath had cut down a bandit and my magic
brought down the last. I winced as the resulting crater made Wil blink, but he in all honesty the sniper
wasn't all that concerned with me at the moment.

"RATH!" Wil shrieked, and launched himself in the nomad's direction. I followed, and Wil began to

Waving my staff over Rath -- it was only a Heal staff, it took several waves -- as Wil dangled
shamelessly off the nomad's arm was a difficult task. "Rath! Rath, you're okay, that's good, right?
I mean, of course it's good, but Rath, you had me WORRIED!"

". . . You should not have come." Rath looked at Wil reprimandingly. This got through to Wil more
effectively then even the tactician's reprimands (and those were hard to ignore), and he stepped
back, mumbling at his feet for a moment. Wil never mumbles, he's always very clear with his words.
Loud, yes, but clear.

Rath took the small moment of silence to give me a nod of thanks, and I stepped back, making a
show of walking several feet away and becoming absorbed in my Aura tome. The fact that I was
still intently listening
in on them could be easily overlooked, couldn't it?

Wil very quickly snapped out of his quasi-apologetic state, and reattached himself to the nomad's
arm even -- if possible -- harder then before. "But it's good I came right? I mean, I saved your life
by popping up, you couldn't've won against three guys at once! A-And Lucius!"

I jerked up at the sound of my name, but he wasn't paying me any mind, still clinging to Rath the
way he was. "I mean, you might've bled to death if I hadn't brought Lucius!" he wailed desparately.
What exactly was he desperate FOR, anyway?

Rath peered stolidly down at Wil, and then -- to my complete shock -- offered a small smile at
Wil. Rath. Smiling. This was an unheard of event in my book.

"Yes, Wil, I am grateful." Rath, apparently, was in the habit of acting completely un-Rath-like
when in Wil's presence. I tried to look casual and unnoticing as I turned the page blankly.

"He-ey, wait, what? Where's the fight?"

I turned. Sain rode into the clearing, the horse tossing it's head to free itself from the feel of the
tree branches against it's nose. "I missed it?" He pouted, and turned to Kent, who was
following behind him. "Ke-ent, we missed it!" Sain whined loudly.

Kent brushed off Sain with well-practiced ease, and dug his heels into his steed.

I looked up at Rath and Wil, and sidestepped off to the right as Kent wheeled and sidled his
mount beside us, the horse nickering quietly. "Is everybody OK?" He frowned at us. "What
are you doing here? You're supposed to be to the southeast of here . . ."

"Yeah, we are." Wil answered evenly, with a wide grin. Kent gave him a quizzical and then an
almost reprimanding look, but wisely didn't say anything else on the matter. It's nice to know that
at least some people in the camp have common sense.

Sain looked bored. "Kent, what do we do now? There's nothing to DO here."

Kent shook his head. "For once, he's right . . ." I heard Kent mumble in a voice not loud enough
for Sain to hear. In a louder tone, he said. "Yes, let's head back to camp."

"Ooh! Ooh ooh ooh!" Wil bounced on the balls of his feet, pointing south. "Look!"

Kent did a doubletake, and Sain blinked blankly. I had to turn to see what my companions were
looking at, and then wished I hadn't.

It was a general, armed with a steel axe; a living montain of impenetrable armor and steel, a moving
arsenal, capable of taking me out in one well-aimed blow. His steps were slow, and his armor almost
shook the ground, it was so heavy-set. I wondered just how many hit points he had. Quite a lot.

We stared for a bit, our small group blinking silently at the newcomer. The general might or might
now have blinked back; he had a very large helmet on that made it hard to tell. Sain, predictably,
broke the silence. "Well, he doesn't look too happy. Who's that?"

"The enemy leader." Kent said flatly, turning to face the general full on, readjusting his lance with
serious intent.

"Kent!" Sain yelped from atop his horse, the creature beneath him sensing his unease and dancing
nervously. "T-That's the enemy CAPTAIN! You can't take him on!"

"Of course I can," Kent answered tritely.

The green social knight attempted to block Kent's path. "Let me rephrase that: You can't take
him on, and SURVIVE, how's that?!"

Sain had a point. The captain, as Sain had dubbed the new opponent, was nearly twice as large
as the more wiry cavalier, and the armor -- painted in a gaudy motif of ibis red and a puce
yellow -- made him impossible to get a hit against. Generals have incredably high defense . . .

Kent looked at Sain, then at the enemy. He wheeled indecisively before turning back towards
us, probably figuring it wouldn't be very dutiful to die in an all out suicide charge. ". . . fine . . ."
he muttered, scanning the surroundings. "We can't take him on alone, but we can outrun him to
camp. . . . "

Rath mounted the stallion that was formerly of the horseman he'd killed. "We ride," He agreed
in a shocking demonstration of vocabulary, leaning over and in a swift move, hauling Wil onto
the horse with him.

Wil looked rather pitiful as he tried to suppress his squealing.

I quickly scurried next to Kent's mount -- it was either ride with Kent or ride with Sain, and
unsurprisingly I chose Kent -- and Kent hauled me up as well.

I began to understand Wil's fear of horses after Kent yanked into a determined gallop. I stifled
a squeal of my own as I latched onto the first grip I could get to -- Kent -- and clung for dear life.

It was bumpy, the wind was messing up my hair, and the horse was sweaty and rather smelly,
and seemed determined to scare me witless, what with it's blind halting run through the woods.
Kent wasn't making things any easier for me, either, what with him actually approving of said
demon horse and it's aforementioned blind run.

The trip to the camp was only seven minutes or so, but it was seven minutes too long. I don't
know the route we took to get there, because I had my eyes squeezed shut the entire time. . . not
that there's anything wrong with that. . .

I only knew we'd reached our destination because Kent somehow managed to pry me off the back
of his shirt and deposit me on the ground. I wobbled on my feet, the shock of actually having my feet
on the dirt making it a hard decision over whether to fall to my knees and kiss the blessed, blessed
ground, or to kick the horse. I admit, I was leaning towards the kicking idea.

We'd ended up directly behind the front lines, where the strategist could be seen milling about, yelling
at random troops.

Kent was very . . . to the point. "Milady . . . er, Milord . . . er . . . Tactician! We are pursued by a high
level armored adversary, from due southeastof here. Orders?"

The tactician wasn't very happy at this latest bit of news. "DAMMIT!" In a swirl of robes, he/she
whirled on Kent, rattling out an almost indecipherable flurry of words. "Get Nino, she's over there
-- Lord Pent, too, if he's not off snogging Louise again -- and Erk, accompany her!"

He/She snapped to me. "Lucius! Find Raven, if he isn't already trailing you, and get him to follow
the other spellcasters."

For being a tactician, he/she was not particulary tactful. I nodded in affirmation, and glanced around.
Raven was supposed to be on the front line, not a safe place for liltle ol' me to be. However, I'd
been conditioned from near birth to follow orders, so I headed north, to where the combat was
growing . . . surprisingly heavy.

I could see Lord Eliwood, Guy, and Florina fighting off a seemingly endless supply of fighters with
relative ease. It defied too many laws of physics to pull off half the moves they were pulling, (ie Guy
splitting into six people, and Farina actually owning a flying horse) but the opposing side was losing,
and that was what counted in these things.

"Lucius, what are you doing here?" Guy shouted from some distance away. "Get back, you aren't
supposed to be here!"

"I have to find Raven!" I shouted back. "Have you seen him?"

Guy didn't answer right away, due to being busy cleaving an enemy fighter's arm off. "Ew . . . Oh
man, uh, no! Ask Matthew, he's around here . . ." With a cursory gance around the battlefield, he
hacked at another fighter and shook his head. ". . . somewhere. . ."

I waved my thanks and peered around, leaping out the way of a sloppily swung axe as Lord
Eliwood skewered the offending wielder. He too, looked concerned that I was there, but didn't
have the chance to act on it as he was very busy in the act of slaughter.

Matthew's usually tell-tale red cape wouldn't help me find him here. Red was everywhere; usually
in the process of being spattered in every which way. It was very messy, and very distasteful, and
I found myself thanking Elimine -- once more -- that I was a long distance fighter.

There wasn't much I could except wander around and hope I bumped into him. A very thin chance,
and could prove to be detrimental to my health, if you brought the flying bits of metal and various
sharp, pointy objects into consideration. And if you then brought my impossibly low luck score into
play . . . it wasn't good.

However, I really didn't have a choice as --


The rough bark from behind me was unmistakable. Raymond! Perhaps I had some amount of
luck after all. I swiveled by sheer reflex, just beginning to form a response. "Lord Ra --"

My voice echoed faintly against the thick armor I was suddenly nose to nose with. The general --
the enemy leader, the captain of the opposing troops -- was right there beside me, holding a rather
large axe . . . The corner of my eye caught Raven yanking a sword from the nearest person and
dashing towards me . . .

Predictably, I did the worst possible thing, and fell promptly backwards. I scrambled back,
retreating clumsily to put space between me and the goliath enemy.

I'm not sure exactly how to describe what happened next without sounding completely insane . . .
but to put it bluntly, Lord Raven . . . jumped. A good dozen feet or so, into the air. I had no idea
he was capable of something like that.His sword came up and for a single shining moment, he
seemed to hover, suspended by forces beyond my coomprehension.

And then he crashed down, cleaving into the General's armor like warm butter.

. . .That was it. The battle was over.

Mumbled comments half-drifted from the crowd, barely mistakable from the hush since no one
seemed to want to incur Raven's considerably more influential wrath.

". . . a bit of an anticlimax, that . . ."

". . . is he paid more then me? He used to be a merc, right . . . ?"

". . . my blade, it sings for his blood . . ."

" . . . Welll, I wasn't expecting THAT, but hey, the guy's dead now, right?"

. . . That last comment must have been Wil, seeing as he's the only one in camp who simply
can't refrain from stating the obvious whenever possible, as loudly as possible.

Quite honestly, I don't think ANY of us had expected that. . . Least of all Raven.

Ever since using the Hero Crest and making the change from a mere mercenary (not that he was
ever 'mere,' this is what he said) to the hero class, he'd never once pulled a critical hit. It hadn't
been necessary, since he hit hard enough as it was.

The fact that he was using Guy's infamous Killing Edge was the only reason he'd been able to
do so, and he seemed to realize it as he looked down at the sword. The blue eyed swordmaster
shifted uneasily at his blade's close inspection, as though afraid Raven might find some sort of
imperfection with it. An unnecessary fear, actually; Guy spent more time caring for his weaponry
then any other -- minus Karel, of course, and his odd sword fixation.

Abrubtly, Raven let out a half snort and gave the weapon what appeared to be a casual toss,
but it ended up burying itself -- blade first -- into the ground not even five inches from Guy's feet.
The Sacaen didn't do a very good job of suppressing his gulp, but he drew the sword from the
earth, and after a cursory brush-off and inspection, Guy sheathed it once more with a metallic rasp.

The sword 'clicked' into place, and with that, Raymond's attention, in his current concentrated state
of mind, was promptly onto his next issue of importance.

His eyes snapped to mine with such clarity there was an almost audible crack.

There's not much I can do in those sorts of situations, really. I follow Lord Raven, something
goes wrong, and inevitably we always end up in a similar situation -- me, trying to look tiny after
saying or doing something wrong, and my attempts being completely in vain as milord drags me
aside and gives me a thorough tongue-lashing for whatever it was.

I never did like those little sessions. . . I don't have many options, as I said, except to try and look
as harmless as possible. I look pathetic as it is, and I can't imagine the new lows I reach when
I actually TRY to look so.

However, Lord Raymond seemed to have built a sort of immunity to me, as he did nothing but
begin to walk very determinedly towards me. There's no point in trying to act vulnerable and
helpless anymore once he grabs my wrist like that. . . at that point, I AM vulnerable and helpless.

And dragging me behind him like a flag through a wind, Raven deliberately sets off -- his hand still
in a vice around my wrist -- directly past the growing crowd into a secluded part of the woods. I
tried to give reassuring smiles, but my stumbling half jog behind Raymond made it difficult.

. . . tthere goes his 'remaining separate from me' ploy, my mind whispered smugly. I winced as I
silently agreed. . . then again, if what Matthew had said once was true, everyone knew anyway.

The murmuring faded into silence behind us, and Raven drew his Light Brand -- it was named
Light Brand for a reason, and in the early sunset haze, I could tell it was giving off a glow of it's
own. It would serve as an adequate light source once night fell . . . . and it seemed that Lord
Raven was planning on keeping me that long, and after.

He was, it seemed, confident we had not been followed, since the moment we got to a quiet and
relatively open space, he whirled on me, releasing my wrist from a grip more suited to a sword hilt
then my arm.

"I told you to stay near the camp!" He shot the closest thing to a glare he'd ever shot at me, and
I struggled to suppress a cringe. I looked at him and opened my mouth to protest, but he wasn't
finished. "You said you would," Raymond looked severely annoyed and distraught, but to most he
would just register as angry. He was that, too.

"I . . ." My swallow wasn't very self encouraging. "I said I'd try, and I did --"

Lord Raven shook his head, and in a rare show of emotion, turned to the side, running his fingers
worriedly through his hair. His voice came out softer then usual, and trailed off as though it wasn't
meant to be heard. "You deliberately disobeyed me. . . "

Those words hit me like a shock of cold water. I had done no less then promised, even though what
I had done had been against everyone's orders but my own. This did not bother me so much as the
perceived underlying meaning. "You . . . you don't trust me?" It came out in little more then a strangled

He jerked his head up to face me, an incredulous look on his face. "Of course I trust you!" he seemed
shocked that I'd even
assumed it.

"Then . . ." I was at a loss, and completely confused. "Then what --"

"I don't know." My question was cut off with acerbic alacrity, yet his voice was not as sure as it might
have been . . . I can always, always tell when people are lying . . .

" . . . yes, you do know." I murmured distantly. Raven stopped, his apprehensive look catching me off
guard. If he trusted me so much, then why was he lying to me? Why was he not telling me, if he didn't
trust me? I stepped forward, one hand on my chest and the other gesturing widely. "I know when you're
lying . . . please, please tell me . . . why are you . . ."

Raven turned away, and froze as his voice came out half strangled. "Don't make this hard on me, Lucius."
It was so quiet I'm surprised I could hear it at all.

"Lord Raymond, please! I've always been loyal to you! Always!" On impulse, I reached forward and
grabbed his arm. "Please, let me know why you're --"

"Don't, Lucius." The whispered word cut me off, the quiet force of it unnerving. Raymond turned
blazing eyes to me. I stepped back unvoluntarily, even though it wasn't the roiling, burning emotions
coiled in the lines of his face that scared me. It was the opposite . . . I hadn't seen that look on his
face before, in all of our life together. . . . and I found myselfwanting to keep the vivacity and
smoldering life in that expression.

He swung towards me, grabbing my shoulders and bringing his forehead almost carefully against

Don't," he repeated, more harshly, his eyes so close to mine that I was almost cross-eyed looking
up at him. "DON'T say you didn't ask for this." The ferocious intensity of his words were belied
by a calloused hand gently stroking my temple, and as his other arm slipped cautiously around
my waist, my sleep deprived mind completely shut down

His eyes remained half-lidded as his head bent towards mine. I looked up at him, my eyes wide.

They didn't stay wide for long.

His lips fell on mine, and my eyes snapped shut as I sank against him. He was . . so warm . . .

His lips roughly massaged against my own, slightly chapped and desperately working to get closer.
I found myself making a tiny moan and leaning in, and in response Raven's arm curled even more
tightly around my waist, pulling me towards him even closer, pressing us hip to hip and chest to
chest as his tongue snaked out of his mouth to lick my lower lip.

At the added contact my eyes fluttered open for almost half a second and my mouth opened to
let out a small noise -- not out of protest, I assure you -- and found it soon swallowed by questing
tongue. To me, this was adding even more to the shock of it all, and I could only try my hardest
to return the favor, although it was hard to concentrate with the feel of him tracing the roof of my
mouth and my cheek and running his hand through my hair and pressing my face even more
strongly to his.

I could feel my body tingling with warmth and a peculiar need, and I felt very safe and warm and
unprepared and ready and -- and then --

Then . . . lack of. I opened my eyes blearily, trying to refocus -- I'd gone cross-eyed for some
reason -- and managed to salvage some amount of my senses. Awareness of my position slowly
came registered: half standing, half carried by a strong pair of arms, weakly trying to stay standing
and yet knowing it was completely unecessary since aforementioned strong arms wouldn't let me
fall to begin with. Looking up, dazedly, at shocked crimson eyes and tousled red hair . . . it was
rather nice, actually . . .

And then the full portents of what had just happened hit me.

Lord Raven had kissed me.

He. Had. Kissed. Me. Not just anyone, but me. Raymond. Me. I blinked up at him, and felt the
heat on my face grow stronger as my flush deepened.

From the start, I hadn't been sure what to do, but I found that I'd hesitantly wormed an arm to
his shoulder and left the other loosely grasping his belt. I was then fairly sure that my feeble attempts
to return the actual kiss were . . rather pathetic. I felt my voice waver as I began to say, "I . . . I'm
not very good at that . . . I'm sorry, it's . . . it's just I've never done that before --"

"You haven't?" The voice was soft, uncharacteristic of Raven, yet managing to fit him perfectly. "Lucius,
who was it you were attracted to?"

No use hiding it now. "You."

I took in another breath as he leaned in, right by my ear. His dusky breath hit my ear and my breath
hitched. "Hn." his throaty approving sound rumbled pleasently through his chest to mine. We were
still standing very close, and I didn't mind at all "You . . ." I hated myself for being so doubtful. "You
really don't mind?"

"That would be hypocritical of me." He hadn't seen fit to remove his lips from my ear, and I could feel
them form the words against my skin.

To this day, I don't think I'll ever get over the look in his eyes when he leaned back and just stared
at me. No words need, none at all between us. . . it would cheapen things, just then, and if he was
content with the silent searching of eyes, then I was as well.

And then I leaned in and placed what began as a chaste kiss at the corner of his mouth. Note, it only
BEGAN as such. . . .

After another long, drawn out kiss, we somehow ended up in a tangle of limbs and leaves, Raven
leaning back against the smooth side of a birch and with me part dragged, part fallen, and part draped
ontop of his torso.

I felt a yawn rising up, and I fought to keep it down . . . with no success. Raven frowned at me, and I

"Tired?" He questioned mildly -- mildly for him, anyway, but his voice had no real bite to it.

I felt my sheeks warming again, to my horror, and tried ineffectually to look away. "Not . . . not really,
truly tired . . ." I tried to mumble, but Raven cut me off. He interrupts people more then he realizes, I


I opened my mouth to protest, but didn't get very far as Raven just kissed me again to make me shut
up. Not that I minded this, but a few bone-melting seconds later he pulled back and said -- in an even
hoarser tone -- "Go to sleep, Lucius. I'll keep watch for you."

So . . . I did.

In an epilogue of sorts, Raven DID watch over me while I slept, even though I slept the whole night
through right there in his arms. Apparently the tactician practically had a cornorary when he/she found
we didn't return right away. . . Wil seemed to have exaggerated Raven's reactions when he retold the

Of course, the fact that Matthew and Guy spent the night away from camp as well couldn't have helped

But the thing is, that day in my mind couldn't have been more perfect. . . don't give me that look. Yes,
it was a bit, shall we say, over-eventful, but . . . I don't think I would change it if I could.

I can't help but worry him too much, but he says he wouldn't have it any other way. He continues
to watch over me when I sleep. I . . . I still can't get over that . . . but then again, I don't really
want to, either. . .

So . . . I don't.




ore wa owari