I don't own anything except Chris Keon

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When the time of the Dragoons comes once more, there will come a man from the frozen lands beyond the edge of the world. Though he be not warrior when his journey begins, he will conquer the King of Dragons and become its master.

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On that cold, seemingly typical Alaskan day, twenty-one-year-old Chris Keon did not know that he would soon leave his familiar world behind, nor that he was fated to be something much more than a karate-trained orphan living a normal, uneventful life.

Instead, Chris was trying to avoid freezing to death in the freak blizzard that had caught him on his way back to his home. And he wasn't having much luck. Blast this blizzard, he thought bitterly. Why does the coldest snowstorm in a hundred years have to come just when I'm miles from anywhere? He shivered, realizing that if he did not find shelter soon, he wasn't going to make it.

Already, Chris was having difficulty keeping his eyes open, and he couldn't feel his legs; sure signs of hypothermia. The numbness was creeping up his body, and he finally stumbled to the ground. No reason to fight it anymore, he thought tiredly. I'll only die tired...

Chris slumped, unconscious, and the wind quickly buried him in snow. If anyone had known where to look for his body, however, they would have found nothing, for it was then that Chris left Earth behind, to fulfill a prophecy foretold long ago in the land of Endiness...

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Sir Lavitz Slambert, head of the First Knighthood of the Kingdom of Basil, awoke in his cell in Hellena Prison, expecting to see the same, tortured surroundings that he'd stared at since his capture. But this time, Lavitz saw that there was another prisoner, tall, black-haired, wearing cold-weather clothing, and lying in a heap in another corner of the cell. He seemed to be almost frozen, which puzzled the knight; Hellena Prison was located in a rather temperate climate.

Whoever he was, Lavitz was inclined to aid him; anyone who was sent to Hellena was no friend of Sandora. He knelt beside the young man, trying to determine the extent of his injuries.

Chris awoke then, blinking in confusion, both at his surroundings and the fact that he was still alive. "Where in the snowy wastes am I?" His eyes focused on Lavitz. "And who are you?"

The knight smiled slightly. If he had no idea where he was, he was certainly not with Sandora; nor, for that matter, was he with Basil's knights, for they all knew of Fruegel's prison. But he was apparently not an enemy. "I'm Sir Lavitz Slambert, of Basil. And this, I'm afraid, is about as close as you can get to hell without dying first. Welcome to Hellena Prison." Lavitz held out a hand. "Can you stand?"

Chris pushed himself to his feet. "Yeah. I think." He shook the knight's hand. "Christopher Keon, of Alaska. But I get the odd feeling that I'm either hallucinating, or I'm somewhere a long ways from home, because I've never heard of Basil or Hellena Prison. You do something you shouldn't have, or are people in these parts just all-around bad-tempered?"

Lavitz shrugged. "Hellena is run by our enemies, the Sandorans. Do you know why they've imprisoned you, Sir Christopher?"

Chris shrugged in turn. "Since I don't know where I am, I'd say I don't know why I'm here, either. And call me Chris, Sir Lavitz. I'm not a knight, I'm just an ordinary guy with a little knowledge of the martial arts."

"Then call me Lavitz, Chris. Titles mean little in a place where everyone is equally miserable." Lavitz gazed speculatively at the younger man. "Martial arts, you said? So you can fight?"

"A little," Chris admitted. He glanced at the door. "By the way, is that made of wood?"

His cell mate blinked at the unexpected question. "Yeah, so? It's too thick to break down. It'd take an axe to get through that."

Chris smiled. "Not if you're a sixth-degree black belt in karate. So you're a knight, huh? Can you take care of the guards if I can get us out?"

Lavitz snorted. "What do you think I do for a living, parade? But that door's several inches thick; unless you're a lot stronger than you look, you won't put a very big dent in it."

"Watch me." The young martial artist tossed aside his thick winter coat, revealing a far more practical black martial arts gi beneath. After a moment of warm-up exercises, he drew back his right leg, then thrust it into the door, near the hinges. "They think they can lock up a karate student behind a wooden door?" he said incredulously, then slammed his booted foot into the door again.

Lavitz's eyes widened as the cell door flew off its hinges, colliding with a guard in the hallway. "The way is clear, Lavitz," Chris said. "Shall we?"

As they left the cell, Lavitz shook his head. "Where do you hide it?"

Chris glanced at him, puzzled. "Hide what?"

"The battering ram," Lavitz said. "I've seen guys three times your size break bones trying to do that. And they don't even shake the door." Picking up a spear from the fallen Sandoran, the knight looked at his companion. "And you need me to handle the guards?"

Chris picked up a battle staff from a wall rack. "I'm not a fighter, Lavitz," he said. "I've never fought in a battle before. I really don't know how I'd react. If I freeze up or for some reason have difficulties, you're gonna have to take care of those guys yourself. Not, of course," he added, "that I'm not going to try. But I'm not trained for fighting blade-to-blade. I've only done unarmed sparing, or at most with wooden staves."

Lavitz snorted. "Okay, I'll handle the guards, you handle the doors." He shook his head again. "Knocked the door right off its hinges..."

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On their way out of the prison, the pair managed to free two other captured members of the First Knighthood, with Lavitz holding off the guards while Chris splintered the door. From there, as Lavitz had a good idea of where the prison's exit was, they hurried on, guarding the two soldiers.

Chris wasn't quite as ineffective as he had predicted; the first time a Sandoran had tried sneaking up on them, Chris had somehow noticed him, spun around, and crushed the man's throat with his fist. Afterwards, he shook. "First time you ever killed a man, Chris?" Lavitz asked.

The younger man nodded. "Yeah. It's generally considered bad form to kill your sparring partner, and the area I lived in was too isolated to have much in the way of thieves." Chris took a deep breath. "Is it always like that? Do you always feel this bad after you kill someone?"

The knight sighed. "No. Every time you kill someone, it gets a little easier. You get used to it. But you never, ever forget. If you do, you're the same as they are."

Chris nodded silently, then began moving again.

Farther on, they ran into another, larger group of guards. They saw the two solders first. "Escapees!? Die!"

"No!" Lavitz shouted, swinging his spear into the first Sandoran. Only the haft connected, but the force of the blow was sufficient to send the man tumbling over a railing and into a very long drop.

Chris had just broken another enemy's neck when a man dressed in red armor and carrying a broadsword rushed into view. Chris and Lavitz readied their weapons, but the man raised his free hand. "Wait! I am Dart! I am not your enemy!"

"I think he's telling the truth, Lavitz," Chris said. "He doesn't look or act anything like those gutter-scum guards."

Lavitz nodded and lowered his spear. "I am Lavitz Slambert, a knight of King Albert," he said to Dart. "My companion is Chris Keon, a fellow prisoner."

"Looks like we don't have time for introductions," Dart said through gritted teeth, as more guards poured into the room. "Let's get them!"

"I agree completely," Chris said. "Kill first, ask questions never." Lavitz had been correct; already, he was coming to grips with the killing required by whatever bizarre twist of fate had brought him to this land.

But he had difficulty had actually doing the deeds; he had no battle experience, and no idea how to use bare fists against men with swords and armor. So instead of fighting with his companions, Chris had no choice but to leave the battle to them, while trying frantically to stay away from the sharp pointy objects being thrust in his direction.

The newcomer, Dart, proved to be an excellent warrior, dispatching his enemies with ease. "Double Slash!" he called out, quartering a man with a pair of fast slashes.

"Spinning Cane!" The knight of Basil twirled his staff with the ease of long practice, either impaling, gashing, or cold-cocking his foes.

And then it was over, for the moment. But two of their number seemed to be missing... "No!" Lavitz roared, as he caught sight of his fellow knights tumbling down the endless drop. "No!" With another quick motion with his spear, Lavitz gutted the Sandoran guard who had arrived in time to murder the freed knights.

This done, there was finally enough time for Dart to explain what he was doing breaking into Hellena Prison. "The Sandorans burned my village and killed several villagers," he said, rage evident in his voice. "And they kidnapped a childhood friend, Shana, and took her here."

Chris and Lavitz glanced at each other. "The let's get her out," the noble knight said.

"Thanks," Dart said. Then he looked at Chris. "So what are you doing here? Are you a knight as well?"

"I don't have a clue," Chris replied. "No, I'm not a knight, and the last thing I remember before awakening in that cell is collapsing in a blizzard. I don't even know where I am."

"Sounds like a problem," Dart said. "But one that can wait until we get out of this place, I think."

"Yeah," Chris agreed. "So, first we have to find Shana's cell?"

"No," Dart replied, "first we need the key. Knowing where she is won't do any good unless we can open the door."

Lavitz laughed. "Let Chris worry about the door, Dart. You and I take care of the guards, and Chris will open any locked doors we find."

Dart looked at the young man with renewed interest. "You can pick locks? What are you, a thief?"

"Actually, he breaks them down. He's a martial arts student." Lavitz chuckled. "How do you think we got out of our cell? You can't pick a lock when you're on the wrong side of it."

Dart blinked, surprised. Chris just grinned; people who didn't use their fists and feet to fight were often surprised when martial artists displayed concrete-breaking techniques. "That's right," he said. "You guys kill the guards, I'll kill the doors."

"Let's go, then," Dart said urgently. "I don't know how much time we have!"

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Several dead Sandorans and a handful of broken doors later, the three found their way to the cell where Shana was being held. "Shana!" Dart called. "Are you all right!?"

The girl, who appeared to be about eighteen, looked out the door's barred window. "Dart, is that you!?"

"Yes, it's me. Stand back, the door is about to be opened." As Shana backed away, Dart turned his head toward Chris. "Ready?"

Chris flexed his leg muscles. "Yeah. Just a sec..." He took a step back, then spun and slammed his booted foot into the lock. Continuing the motion, both of his feet left the floor and hammered the center of the door. This blow splintered it.

Dart rushed in, anxious to make sure his friend was all right. "Shana, you're safe!"

"It really is you, Dart!" Walking out of the cell, Shana noticed Chris and Lavitz. "Who are you?"

Chris bowed. "I'm Chris Keon, the guy who broke down the door. This is Sir Lavitz Slambert, of what used to be the First Knighthood of Basil. Pleased to meet you."

Shana nodded. "Thanks for your help." Then her eyes widened. "Look out!"

Lavitz thrust forward with his spear, trying to kill the guard who had suddenly appeared behind Chris, but the young martial artist was faster. Dropping the staff that he wasn't even sure how to use, he swept his leg into the guard's, knocking him off his feet. Chris finished then by jumping on his neck, snapping it. "Not exactly how Sensei taught me, but I was in a hurry," he explained. "Well, Dart, now that Shana is out of that cell, what say we get the blazes out of this dump?" He shuddered. "Those screams I heard from other cells are going to give me nightmares for a very long time, I think."

Lavitz clapped him on the shoulder. "Happens to all of us, Chris," he said softly. "And the ones you've killed will always be with you, too. All you can do is remember that you did what you had to do."

Chris nodded. "Yeah, that's true. Thanks."

Dart laughed. "We'll make a warrior out of him yet, Lavitz! Just teach him to use a sword, and he'll be just as deadly as we are." Because of the shared experience of the prison break, the three were already acting like old friends, and it wouldn't take long for Chris and Lavitz to feel the same with Shana.

Lavitz sobered. "But Chris is right. We need to get out of here before Fruegel realizes something's wrong. That fat bastard can kill you just with his sheer ugliness, and if he sat on you, you'd be pretty flat."

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Now that they had no more reason to remain within the loathsome prison, the four quickly made their way back to the main gate. Any guards that made the mistake of attempting to stop them were ruthlessly dealt with.

To Dart's dismay, Shana insisted on fighting as well, using a bow that she had found along the way. Chris was not displeased, though. Shana's arrows saved his life more than once on their way out, given his inexperience at combat. When he could just forget and let his reflexes take over, Chris had little trouble dealing with his enemies. But if he took the time to think about what he was doing, it made him fatally slow and clumsy. Had he been alone, he would doubtless have never survived Hellena Prison.

They were near the gate when a loud voice called out. "Stop! Or I'll kill you where you stand!"

"Fruegel," Lavitz said with disgust. The enormous warden was just as fat and ugly as Lavitz had said, if not uglier. He turned to his companions. "He'll kill us anyway. Let's fight!"

"Right," Dart agreed. "Chris, you stay back; fists won't do any good against his armor, and you're not ready for this anyway. Shana, attack him from a distance with your arrows."

Shana nodded and swiftly raised her bow, while Chris reluctantly stepped back. Dart's right, he thought bitterly, but if we can ever get to whatever civilization exists in this land, I'm going to change that. Assuming, of course, that it takes me that long to return home...

And so Chris simply watched as his friends attacked the fat man and his guards. The first flunky was downed with an arrow through his throat; for all Shana's youth and naiveté, she was not squeamish during a battle. It was only the aftermath that bothered her.

Lavitz quickly killed the other. "Harpoon!" he called out, jabbing his spear into the Sandoran's gut.

With a snarl, Dart hurled himself at Fruegel. "Volcano!" The methodical four-hit attack knocked the obese, theoretically-human warden back a few steps, before Fruegel retaliated with a strike from his massive club.

"Dart!" Shana cried out. Fruegel raised his mace for another, killing blow...

And was knocked off his feet, landing heavily on his fat backside, as the tall, battering-ram-like youth slammed into him. Chris had begun running when Fruegel hit Dart the first time, and took a flying leap when the warden raised his mace again.

"Come on!" he called. "Let's get out of here before he collects his wits again!" As the four ran for the gate once more, Chris briefly explained what had happened. "Sometimes kinetic energy is sufficient to stun an armored opponent," he said with a grin. "Armor suddenly doesn't feel as safe after you've had your breastplate slammed into you at high velocities."

Leaving the fat man to regain enough breath and strength to summon reinforcements, the four escapees hurried out of the prison.

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Author's note: And finally the Solid (not liquid, solid) Shark posts something in the Legend of Dragoon section once again. I should note here that I have not given up on the Second Story of the Diamond Dragoon; I've simply been unable to think of anything else to write in it for a while. So instead, I'm working on another fic, one that is something of a departure from my other stories. In this, instead of centering around someone who already knows how to fight, it focuses on a young man who has no idea how to survive in battle, yet is destined to defeat the greatest Dragon of them all. Needless to say, Rose will play a large role in the story.

As you may have guessed, the words at the beginning of the chapter are the prophecy mentioned in the summary, and the title. This will be expounded upon in further chapters.

If you want to see what I've been up to in the last month, check The Will to Power, in the Xenogears section. The final chapter will be posted shortly.

I think that covers everything for the first chapter; read it and let me know what you think. Solid Shark