The blonde dodged the swing with effortless ease and blocked the second one with a sideswiping strike of his sword.

The 20th floor of the tower was treacherous and unwieldly for a normal man to tackle. But Ghosh Rhode was no normal man. Prince of Monsbaiya and heir to the noble House of Rhode, he climbed up the treacherous heights to further hone his already impressive skills, proving to all that HIS was the best sword of the city.

At least in the beginning, this had been his intention.

Now he only wanted to survive this one battle. The second Killer had already wounded his left arm, immobilizing the use of his two-handed blade, crafted for him by the town blacksmith. Now he fought one handed in a stance thoroughly compromised in areas of power and accuracy.

Blue Eyes evaded the axe-bladed hand and watched it make rubble out of the floor of the tower as he rolled to his side, avoiding Killer number three's arm. Stupid of you! he thought to himself. You could have escaped here sooner had you brought one of father's familiars!

No. He could not have done it either way. He had already sworn to himself that he would reach the top floor with his own skills. His way. Alone. This wasn't the first time Ghosh underestimated the effect of the spell cast on would be treasure hunters by the main gate.

All who enter the tower are brought under a spell which reduces their strength considerably. However, familiars and other monsters are immune to this spell so it is advisable to always bring at least one familiar with you who knows the tower. Jorda's voice recurred in his head like a broken record. But there was nothing the Prince could do but finish this battle and hope to survive in one piece.

"ARGH!" Ghosh screamed as a deep cut appeared in his left leg, put there by Killer number one. The two other Killers were formed around him in a loose semicircle and poised like the cat playing with a wounded mouse. A pair of axe-bladed hands were raised in the air and Ghosh waited for it all to end...

FTWIP FTWIP FTWIP

Three arrows came from behind him and the Killers scattered like frightened women. He looked behind to see who had saved him and was not at all surprised at finding out who it was.

"Kou."

Guy's son was running full speed, accompanied by a Troll with a crossbow and that ridiculous Kewne familiar. Behind him was Ghosh's sister, Selfi. Great, now SHE had to see this.

"Big brother, what the hell are you doing?!" Her high pitched voice reached him even before she did. "You know very well not to come to the tower without some sort of familiar with you, or even a couple of magic orbs!" Selfi offered a hand to help her brother up. And as Ghosh was about to take it, she withdrew it and planted a slap across his face.

"OW!" Ghosh cried "You didn't have to do that!" The sorceress' eyebrow went up and she berated her older brother some more. "Stupid of you! You know you're the heir to the Noble House of Rhode! You can't just get yourself killed like this! Who's going to give me away at my wedding with Puffy Lips?"

"Ah, Selfi?"

"What?!"

Kou cleared his throat and said "I think this is a family moment. Maybe I should leave.."

"Oh Puffy Lips! Don't leave me behind with my incompetent excuse for a brother!" Selfi's eyes began to water like she was about to cry. Ghosh winced at her comment.

Kou smiled impishly at her and added "Well he has the Greatest Sorceress in Monsbaiya with him. he should be able to manage with your superior healing spells." The sorceress thought it over for a minute and smiled "Well yes, now that I think about it he shouldn't be able to screw up any more than he already did."

"Well then, I have to go. Good luck Ghosh! Try not to get yourself killed next time."

See you later, Puffy Lips!"

With that, the red-headed monster tamer turned and walked away, both his familiars following him in the direction of a nearby elevator. Selfi sighed deeply before she happened to pull out her wand.

"Ancient Magics of Healing and Medicine," she chanted "gather thee from all directions and create water to restore this vessel to its condition." The floor around Ghosh and Selfi began to glow an ethereal blue as runes in her wand glowed with power. She took aim at her older brother and shouted "Healing Beam!"

Instantly the wounds created by his numerous battles to the 20th floor closed up along with the tatters in his expensive silk clothing. Just like Selfi to come up with spells to heal tailored clothes. Ghosh examined himself all over and exclaimed "Nice work, Little Sister. Now let us make our way to the 21st floor and.."

"Wait, you barely survived going to the 20th and now you want us both to go to the 21st? Selfi let out a haughty laugh. "Big brother, I always knew you weren't right in the head but now I see that I am correct." Ghosh protested "But I thought we were a team!"

"Team? Very droll. The only reason you kept me around in the old days was to do all the work while your reasonably crappy sword techniques finished off the monster. Very not like old Puffy Lips." She stuck her hand in her bag and rummaged around, looking for a wind crystal she brought along coming into the tower.

"Puffy Lips this and Puffy Lips that," the blonde raged "is there ever any time you don't talk about him? Where were the days when it was me you looked up to?"

"Good question big brother. Where are those days where I once looked up to you? Now shut up. Let's go home. Draw the Circle of Return!"

You see, it wasn't always like this.

Once I was the greatest swordsman in the world. I was revered as a great warrior. A prince. An heir to the Great and Noble House of Rhode. Now I'm taking crap from my own little sister.

Yes how the mighty have fallen.

"Ghosh I'm sorry. I don't feel the same about you the way I feel about Kou."

Nico. Wasn't I the first one to ever treat you like a real lady?

"I learned that money isn't the only thing that matters Ghosh. I'm sorry."

Fur. Wasn't I always your best customer?

"Mister Kou isn't weird! he is..he is.."

Cherryl. You didn't have to defend that barbarian.

"You're a nice person Ghosh but I'm afraid I'm already seeing somebody else."

Vivian. Do you honestly think barbarians even know what culture is?

"I bet you're sorry you ever ignored me before, huh, Mister Ghosh?"

Mia. Yes. I am sorry I ever ignored you before.

"Where are those days where I once looked up to you?"

Selfi. My sister. Have I lost you to him too?

"Good luck Ghosh! Try not to let yourself get killed next time."

Kou. Once upon a time I was the one saying those words to you.

I swear upon the name of the Noble House of Rhode. Upon the graves of the Rhode noblemen who once ruled this city. I will not be left behind you, Kou, the son of Guy. I will surpass you. I will be the most powerful swordsman in the land. Ghosh Rhode will reclaim the greatness so rightfully belonging to him. Ghosh Rhode will defeat you. Ghosh Rhode will again be the great man he was before.

And when that time comes, you too will know that you lost to me.

Ghosh Rhode
Prince of Monsbaiya