Here is the second part, I don't own SO3, blah, blah, blah …Hey I speak Dracula! (lame joke, sorry. I've been eating roasted mini marshmallows over a candle flame so I'm a bit hyper) I also decided to up the rating because after reading the age recommendations on T and M, I figured the battle scene in this was M material. And before I go, more special thanks to Lorelai Kline (she gave me an interesting line about Nel's thoughts on Albel's scream).
"…Because I am going to hunt you down and make you mine…"
Nel's eyes snapped open as she felt her body falling. White sheets fell down with her and tangled in her legs as she tried to get up. She gave up in her struggle and opted to sit there and figure out how she got into such a situation. Oh yeah, she was having a nice dream…but what was it about? Ruby colored eyes appeared in her mind and a deep voice repeated the promise Albel had made to her on that night three months ago. Now she remembered. Three months had passed since they had defeated Luther and the Elicoorians had returned to their normal lives. Airyglyph and Aquaria were still observing a truce, but there was still tension among the people, mostly among the stubborn commoners who thought the other country was worthless. Arias was still being rebuilt and more and more of the townspeople were retuning to their homes and former lives before the attack. Nel had been working herself to the bone since the journey ended, resulting in the queen giving her a forced vacation. With nothing much to do and no where to go, she decided to stay in Arias to help Clair out.
Save for Roger and Adray, she hadn't seen any of her companions, not even Albel. She knew Albel was still alive because she would hear talk that he was in town but was never be able to find him. It was almost as if he were avoiding her. He had said that he was going to make her his and yet he never seem to even attempt to fulfill that promise. Maybe he had forgotten or maybe…he didn't feel the same way for her anymore. Then again maybe there was something holding him back: the thin line of peace reigning between their kingdoms. But still…would it kill him to stop by and say hello? It was not like that wasn't allowed. Well if he wasn't going to talk to her, then maybe she should go talk to him!
Suddenly the door to her room opened to reveal a worried Clair. Golden eyes scanned the room and found the other edge of the Crimson Blade sitting on the floor, tangled in sheets with a determined expression on her face.
"Are you okay Nel? I thought I heard-"
"I'm fine! I just fell out of bed, that's all," Nel said quickly as she gave her friend a reassuring smile.
"Again?" the silver haired girl chuckled, "Well if you're okay, then please report to the conference room after you get dressed."
Nel managed to free her legs from the sheets and stand up before she tilted her head in confusion from Clair's order, "Why?"
"Well…we have a situation that only you may be able to handle," Clair started while glancing at her with uncertainty. It didn't sound like a big problem, but why did Clair look so …unsure?
"Well…you'd have to come down and find out for yourself," Clair replied before leaving Nel to her morning routines.
Nel decided to put on her uniform and brush her hair, but didn't bother with her armor or weapons. She didn't expect any fighting to go on today so there was no point in weapons. Once she deemed herself decent enough, she opened the door and headed downstairs towards the conference room. Inside, she expected everyone to be sitting at the table, discussing some serious matter, but instead found them all crowding around a window. Tynave and Clair were quietly talking behind a giggling Farleen and several other female soldiers. The window they were pressing their faces against faced a small field that they had transformed into training grounds so Nel had to wonder what was out there to cause such a commotion.
Nel cleared her throat to gain Clair and Tynave's attention, "What's going on?"
"Take a look for yourself, Lady Nel," Tynave offered as she pulled the still giggling Farleen out of the way.
When she was able to reach the window, she didn't find anything unusual. …No wait, there was someone there. It was a tall man with a claw on his left arm pacing around like a tiger on the prowl. It was Albel! Her heart fluttered when she recognized the visitor and she wanted to run out there and either tackle him into a kiss or give him a black eye. She decided to back away slowly and calm herself instead. After all, there was an audience and both choices would raise suspicion, not to mention the end of the truce.
"He's been there since the crack of dawn and won't respond to anyone else," Tynave explained when Nel was done looking out the window.
"Since you have more experience in this area, do you think you could go out there and see what he wants?" Clair asked with an amused smile, "Pardon the mimic, but I do not think that any of us are the right 'maggot' he wants to speak with."
Nel seldom kept any secrets from Clair, so the commander did know of her friend's involvement with the man outside. As much as Nel had feared, she didn't like the fact that she chosen their enemy for a lover, but was overall happy that she found someone to be with. …And she was somewhat jealous too. If Clair had time to find someone she liked, then her father would stop trying to find suitors for her.
"What? He didn't want to talk to the 'worm'?" Nel inquired sarcastically with wide eyes. Albel's vocabulary had been an ongoing joke between the two girls even before the truce began. During her spying days, Nel overheard what Albel called each of the members of the Crimson Blade and shared with the others, resulting in the joke every time he was the subject of the conversation. Clair was the only one called 'worm' and everyone else was maggots. Of course they knew that Nel was 'woman', 'wench', or 'Zelpher' nowadays, but she still went by the first name she was given.
"I'm afraid that this is a job that only a 'fool' can handle."
"I see… Tell the maggots I'm going in," Nel replied before her and Clair started chuckling.
She slowly made her way to the front door, trying hard to not look excited or anxious and then straightened her hair and clothes when she was out of sight. If Albel had come to see her, did that mean he was going to fulfill his promise? Then again, he may be here to deliver a message from the king or was here in the role of a goodwill volunteer, probably a forced volunteer. But if that were true, then why didn't he want to talk to Clair? After the short journey around the mansion, she paused near the corner to peer out at the Glyphian down below. He didn't seem any different than before, he still wore the same clothes and his hair was the same, if not a bit longer. She noticed that he had his Fangs of the Wicked on as well as the Crimson Scourge. Was he expecting a fight?
When she finally decided to move away from her hiding place he glanced up at her and immediately stopped pacing.
"It's about time the maggots sent you. I was about to go storm the place."
So he was here to see her. She fought back a blush and tried to act casual, "So you finally decided to come see me, huh?"
"You make it sound as if it were an easy task. It's hard to track you down when you're off on those missions." He looked as if he were about to reach out to her, but then he cast his eyes above her and scowled before he ran the hand through his hair instead. Nel hadn't thought of that, she had been on a lot of missions lately. She didn't think once that her missions were the reason he hadn't visited her.
"…I guess not," she finally agreed as she stepped closer to him, "At least you came, so I am glad."
Albel backed away slightly and tuned away from her, earning a confused look from her. Why was he doing this? Nel was about to question him on his behavior when he cut her off.
"Could we talk in a more …private place?" he inquired in a nearly inaudible voice, but she was able to hear clearly. Her eyes widened when she remembered that Clair and the others were still watching them through the window and were most likely trying to read their lips. She turned so that her back was facing the window and went into her usual pose.
"…We could meet up later somewhere else, that is if you don't mind going further into Aquarian territory."
"I don't mind, but pick a place that has no people nearby," he said before he dared to glance at her from the corner of his eye.
"Remember the entrance to the Aquatic Gardens past the Irisa Fields? Is that private enough for you?" she asked with a grin.
"Very," he responded in a deep tone that made her hold back a shudder, "Let's meet there…say in…four hours?"
"Sure," Nel nodded and allowed her side to face the window. She might as well make up another conversation to satisfy curious eyes, "So was there anything else you needed to tell me?"
Albel seemed to catch on to what she was planning and also turned to show the side of his body, "Yeah, the off-world maggots are coming for a visit. They think they may be here by tonight, but are not sure. …Frankly I'd rather not see those maggots, especially the ape, but they threatened to track us down if we don't show up. Bah…"
"Really? …How do you know this?" She wasn't expecting this response and was even more shocked when he began digging into his item bag. It was stuffed to the brim with miscellaneous healing supplies! Was he expecting to be attacked by the whole Aquarian army?
"The worms informed me with this 'communicator' device. Speaking of which, here is yours. You ran off before they could give it to you." He handed her a small black rectangular box that when opened, revealed several strange buttons.
"Uh…thanks," she replied as she studied the foreign device before he scoffed.
"That sounded grateful," he said sarcastically as he crossed his arms, "though I suppose I was expecting too much from Aquarian scum."
"Watch it…" she snapped in a threatening tone. He better not be thinking about starting a fight in the middle of town… She decided to focus her attention back to the communicator, "So where are we supposed to meet them?"
"Why don't you go ask them?" he retorted before turning on his heel and heading out of the training field, "I'm leaving…"
"W-wait!" Nel called out as she held out her hand towards him.
"…Four hours," he reminded her before adding, "And take a shower, you reek like an Aquarian."
Nel scowled as she watched the Glyphian warrior saunter off. She knew he said that just to get a rise out of her, she could see the smirk on his lips, "Just keep walking you…you JERK!"
She wasn't surprised to hear distant laughter from inside the mansion.
When she returned to the conference room, everyone was sitting at the table trying too hard to look innocent. Clair carefully had her arm resting on the table so that her hand covered her mouth.
"So…what did Albel have to say?" Clair eventually asked, trying to make it seem like they hadn't been eavesdropping on them. But unfortunately, one of Nel's subordinates didn't catch on.
"And what does a … 'communicator' do?" Tynave asked as she tried to pronounce the word she read from their lips.
"Tynave!" Farleen and Clair hissed.
"Oops!" the dirty blonde girl slouched in her seat from embarrassment. Nel shook her head as she sat down at Clair's left hand side.
"Don't bother with the act, I can tell you were all amused by the performance."
"…But you really did look funny when you called him a jerk!" Farleen chuckled, then added, "Besides, we all know that Glyphians smell worse."
"Yeah, they smell like they always have beans for dinner!" Tynave agreed before the two broke out in laughter. Clair almost joined in until she noticed Nel putting the device on the table.
The red haired woman knew nothing about how to use it, but after close examination, she discovered that it was remade so the Elicoorians could use it. There were 12 buttons, 10 had each of the team member's names, one was the 'call' button, and the last one was the 'shut off' button. Albel had said to call them to find out where to meet them, but didn't know who to call. She decided to call Mirage since she always seemed to know what's going on.
A screen popped up in thin air above the box, catching the attention of everyone present as the words 'connecting' appeared. Nel was the only one who didn't appear amazed when the screen changed to reveal a beautiful blonde woman's face.
"Hello Nel. I'm glad to see Albel finally gave you your communicator."
"Hi Mirage! It's great to see you again. I feel like it has been an eternity since I've last seen you guys."
"It has been quite a while…three months in fact-" she was cut off by a blonde blur behind her.
"Hey, is that Nel?" a voice easily recognized as Cliff asked in the background, "Tell her I said hi!"
Mirage rolled her eyes and chose to ignore him, "So has anyone told you that we're coming by for a visit? We just picked up Fayt and Sophia on Earth and should be by Elicoor around nightfall or tomorrow morning."
"Yeah, I heard about that, but where are you going to be?" Nel inquired before Mirage went into a thinking pose.
"I'm not sure. Probably Aquios, but it really depends on what you, Albel, Roger, and Adray decide on."
"Hey, do you think they had kids yet? Can I be the Godfather?" Cliff inquired again in the background.
"What did he say?" A blush began forming on her cheeks as Mirage glared behind her, "I don't want to dignify that with an answer, but does he really think that babies are born after three months?"
Mirage shrugged as she faced the screen, "Klausian pregnancies can last up to two months, but I can assure you that he was joking."
Suddenly an alarm went off before Marietta's voice was heard, "Captain, we are approaching an asteroid field. What course shall we take?"
"…Isn't that the same asteroid field where Cliff's hunch was wrong?" Maria wondered before Steeg confirmed that it was the same asteroid field.
"I was wrong one time! One time!"
"Wait…" Fayt's voice started while Sophia started giggling, "You guys crashed in the Solar System?"
"Marietta, proceed slowly and do not, I repeat, do not listen to Cliff's hunches," Maria ordered.
"All right, that's it! Give me control of the helm. I'm going to direct the ship through the asteroid field and prove to you that the last time was a fluke." Everyone gasped at Cliff's request and Mirage grew pale.
"Nel, we have an emergency over here, I'll have to call you back later," Mirage said before the screen flashed and the words 'End Transmission' appeared.
"Are…they going to be okay?" Farleen inquired as Nel closed the box.
"I'm not sure."
Two hours later, Nel was back in her room getting ready to go. She briefly glanced at her Valkyrie Garb and wondered if she would need it. After thinking it over, she decided that she wasn't going to be in a big fight and put on her regular armor. Once she sheathed her Blades of Ryusen, she headed out the door only to run into Clair. The grey haired woman seemed concerned as she stared at her best friend.
"What did Albel mean when he said 'four hours'?" she inquired before Nel could ask what was wrong. That part of the conversation was disguised so she wasn't surprised that Clair didn't know.
"Because we're meeting up somewhere," she replied, not wanting to tell her anymore than that.
"Near Aquios." Which was true in a sense.
"Oh…Nel? I have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that he is up to something so…"
"What are you saying?" Nel cut her off, shocked by her words, "He is no longer our enemy and I have been traveling to different worlds with him. I trust him."
"I'm not saying that you shouldn't go and I know that he wouldn't harm you……well he wouldn't kill you anyway, I'm just saying be careful and be sure to bring some extra healing supplies with you. …You know, in case you fight, or rather spar with each other."
Nel was about to tell her that Albel already seemed to have enough items for the both of them, but then realized that Clair may be right. He was equipped with his best weapons and he did ask to meet in a place where there were no people. Did he want to fight her? For what purpose? Or perhaps there was a monster that required two people to fight it. Then again, it was not likely that Albel would be asking her for help. Well there were some things she was certain about: he didn't scare her, she still trusted him, and she was still going.
"Thank you for telling me this, Clair. I will be careful." Nel proceeded to head out, but was stopped one more time by her friend's voice.
"If I am correct and you two are going to be fighting, could you do a favor for me?"
"What is it?"
"Make him scream at least once…for Tynave and Farleen." Nel suppressed the faint blush threatening to overcome her. Albel's scream... how could she forget the last time she heard it? Such raw, unadulterated anguish... the very memory brought out something within her that she wasn't quite willing to examine.
"I'll uh, see what I can do…" She ducked out of the mansion before Clair could say another word.
Nel traveled from Arias to Peterny with no problems or detours as she avoided most of the monsters in the Palmira Planes. It wasn't like she couldn't defeat them, but it was still time consuming and she wanted to be there on time. Peterny was bustling with people and business like it did everyday, leaving her to push through the heavy crowds as she headed north. She stopped only once to purchase some blackberries and a few blueberries before she was out of the town. She didn't see many monsters out in the Irisa Fields…well actually she didn't see any live monsters out. Dozens of fresh corpses littered the sides of the path as she headed down the almost faded road, past the near demolished bridge, and all the way to the entrance to the Aquatic Gardens. Albel certainly had quite a warm up.
She was immediately able to spot him when she arrived. He was sitting on the ground, leaning against a stone wall as he lifted his gaze up to her. He didn't say anything, no greeting or a 'you're late' comment. He only stared at her like a predator inspecting his prey. Nel resisted the urge to shudder at his gaze and walked up to him. His eyes followed her every move, but he still refused to speak.
"So what did you want to talk about?" she finally asked as she leaned over slightly. Before she realized it, his good hand shot out and pulled her down. The next thing she knew was that she was sprawled across his lap with his claw arm supporting her back and his other hand trailing up her outer thigh.
Albel smirked down at her, "Comfortable Zelpher?"
She glared at him and quickly squirmed in his lap to get into an upright position, but his claw wrapped around her waist when she tried to get out. She was expecting to have a conversation with him not…this! He was holding her so very close that she could smell the Glyphian spices on him and easily felt the heat coming off of him.
"L-let me go!" she protested before she held in a blush when he brought his hand up to her cheek and forced her to look at him.
"You don't like this?"
"Not used to it," she replied. He let out a small chuckle and then shifted her to sit beside him. He was still very close. Too close for her to think clearly. She didn't notice the sudden smirk but didn't care to notice when she felt his good hand snake behind her and rubbed the flesh that was exposed by the slit in her skirt. She nearly squeaked before she grabbed his wandering hand to prevent it from exploring any further.
"Since when have you become such a pervert?" she inquired as she pulled his hand away.
Another blush threatened to overcome her as his mouth found its way to her ear and whispered gently, "Since when have you become such a tease?"
Nel couldn't hold it back any longer when his tongue darted out to trace the outer shell of her ear.
"What do you mean?"
"You constantly provoke me in public with the way you walk, smile….breathe. Because of you, I always had to restrain myself from claiming you in front of those maggots."
There were so many insulting comebacks she could have replied with, but the hot puffs of breath on her ear turned her wit into mush. …She quickly jerked away after his claw came up to cup her cheek, knowing that he was about to pull her in for a kiss. If he thought he was going to seduce her here of all places, he had another think coming.
"If all you're going to do is feel me up, then I'm leaving!"
Albel let out a laugh that could be deciphered as evil or amused, she couldn't tell.
"Fine then, be that way," he chuckled before inquiring in a more serious tone, "Do you remember what I told you three months ago before we went into that blasted Sphere building?"
She almost froze as she realized he was talking about his promise. Was he here to tell her he couldn't do it? No, that can't be it, otherwise he wouldn't be practically trying to undress her. So did that mean that he found a way to be with her without going against both their kingdoms? She was about to ask him, but decided to pull his leg instead, "You mean that threat you gave me where if I didn't cure you after a battle, you were going to tear out my tongue so I couldn't cast runology?"
Instead of a scowl or a glare, she received a playful nip on her ear, "If I have to stay focused and not touch you, then you have to stay on subject and stop trying to tempt me into pinning you onto the ground."
Her body heated up at the thought of him losing control. Still, this needed to be discussed. She had looked for any possible way for them to even be allowed to be seen talking to each other and doubted that he could have had any better luck than she had. She didn't want to have to secretly meet him in places just to see how he was fairing.
"I remember…" she sighed as she glanced away from him, "Are you going to be able to keep your promise?"
"Maybe. It depends," he shrugged. Nel faced him, confused by his response.
"Depends? On what?"
"You'll see," he grinned as he grabbed his Crimson Scourge up from the ground beside him, "I challenge you to Bellare."
"B-Bellare?" It sounded familiar to her. Wasn't it some duel?
"What does challenging me to a fight have to do with your promise?"
She was about to think that he may have been talking about some other conversation they had in the past until he replied, "It's an ancient duel practiced in Aquor. It's so old and forgotten that both kingdoms still have it in their laws, meaning that the outcome of this battle will have to be accepted by them."
Bellare…Bellare…she tried running the name through her mind, but nothing came up. She knew she had heard it before…and what did he mean when he said that they would have to accept the outcome? At least it didn't sound like a fight to the death.
He easily caught the confused look on her face and nearly laughed, "What, you still don't know what it is? Come on Zelpher, you Aquarians are supposed to be descendents of Aquor!"
"Yeah, but it's so old…and there were so many different duels," she argued, "…What are the conditions of this duel anyway?"
"Just to fight until one of us can't fight anymore. Since you still don't remember it, let's make this more interesting, say if I win, then you'll have to do what ever I want and if you win then I'll do what ever you want."
There was something he wasn't telling her, she could see it in his eyes. But what was he hiding? Well it was apparent that he wasn't going to tell her so she decided to see first hand what he was planning…
"Sounds good. I accept the challenge." They both stood up as she reached for her daggers. If she won this duel, then he would have to do what ever she wanted! True, it would be hard to defeat him, but it wasn't impossible.
He smirked as he brought the Crimson Scourge out of its sheath and pointed it at her, "Good… I'm going to claim you in the way most befitting a warrior like you!"
Nel blinked at his words, but didn't get a chance to dwell on them as he was quickly upon her. She barely managed to pull out her daggers and parry his first attack. She brought up her second dagger to block his claw and jumped back to arrange her feet into a proper fighting stance. Sparks flew off their weapons each time they hit due to the force Albel was using. He certainly wasn't going to go easy on her, then again neither was she. Nel blocked one more attack before bringing her blade across his stomach, lightly scraping the muscled flesh. It wasn't deep enough to make him bleed, but it was enough to make him jump back.
She used the sudden space to make an attack of her own. She quickly charged him, clashed her blade with his, dodged his claw, and then dropped down for a sweeping kick, knocking him to the ground. He had a look on his face that said that he was impressed with her fighting so far, but he didn't look anymore close to tiring out than she did. The duel had only just begun. As Nel moved to get up from her position, his gauntlet clamped down on her ankle, the sharp points digging into the leather and the flesh that was underneath it. She ignored the stinging sensation as she reached down to make him let go, but he pulled her down until she was underneath him.
His sword soon planted itself into the ground, next to her arm, cutting off some of her sleeve and grazing a bit of her arm. His claw came up to rip her scarf from her neck and it looked like it was going to wrap around her neck, but she kneed him in the stomach before he could continue. Albel's heavy body fell to the ground beside her, allowing her to roll away and get back up. She was able to reclaim her previously fallen daggers as he regained himself and went back into another fighting stance. She steeled herself for the next attack and easily held back his katana with one dagger, but was completely caught off guard when his claw wrapped around her waist and pulled her against him.
His lips crashed against hers for but a second before he pushed her away and prepared to strike. Nel was too dazed from his brief kiss to block him and ended up having some of her leather bodice torn in the front by the Fangs of the Wicked. She caught herself in time to block the claw with her blade to prevent it from traveling down to tear her skirt. She used her much of her strength to push back his metal arm and continued to hold his sword at bay with her other blade before she planted her foot against his stomach and used him like a spring board to gain some distance from him. It was now Albel's turn to be stunned as something flashed across his cheek, leaving a small trail of blood on his face. She had flung one of her daggers at him in mid air. Once she landed, she immediately made the hand motion to summon some runology, but before she could let out the last syllables for the Ice Needle spell, he was suddenly gone from her sight.
Albel's gauntlet had found its way back around her middle again and she soon felt his rock hard chest pressed against her back. His claw tightened around her possessively as his mouth descended upon her neck. He gradually began trailing upward, kissing along her lower jaw and up her cheek. The blood on his cut smeared onto her own cheek during his ministrations, eliciting a primal growl from the male behind her at the sight of it. She let out a moan and was about to relax in his grip until she remembered that they were supposed to be fighting. She was then suddenly aware of the fact that he was reaching for his sword that he stuck in the ground beside him.
Nel quickly shoved her remaining dagger into his metal arm, forcing him to let go of her. When she dared to glance back, she was satisfied to find that she destroyed the 'Earth Glaive' symbol that was engraved on his claw. Now he couldn't cast that spell anymore …not that he had been using it in this battle. She cautiously inched closer to the discarded twin dagger that she had thrown earlier as he examined his good hand. It had been trailing down the arm that he grazed and now had her blood all over his palm. Albel smirked before he raised his crimson eyes back to the Aquarian.
She had slowly bent down to pick up her dagger, making sure that she was facing him the whole time. When she was back into her usual fighting stance, she reflected back on the battle. He seemed to be using her feelings for him to his advantage by kissing her to throw her off guard. Also, it seems that she wouldn't be able to cast any runology without him getting that close to her again. She wasn't sure if she could last much longer if he did that again…
"You've gained some …peculiar battle strategies since we've returned to Elicoor," she replied, speaking for the first time since the duel started.
If it were possible, the smirk on his face became larger and more evil, "One has to adapt to peculiar fighting conditions."
Nothing more was said as the two warriors continued to attack each other. Her speed had been slowed greatly because of the damage Albel did to her ankle, but in return, she was able to render his sword arm useless when she dislocated his shoulder. The battle lasted for hours before they both showed signs of wearing down. Unfortunately for Nel, the reason she was wearing down was because she received more injuries than he did. Although she didn't have to worry about the Crimson Scourge, his claw still did fair enough damage…especially on her clothes. He destroyed her sleeves, leggings, skirt, and ripped out the center of her shirt, allowing him to see some cleavage. She was fairly certain that his attention was officially on her chest rather than on her face after he did that.
Nel had one more idea left in her mind and waited for him to attack. Just as his claw came at her, she ducked under his arm, sheathed one dagger and punched him hard in the stomach. The wind was knocked out if him for but a second as she quickly pulled back and prepared to hit him again, this time in the jaw. But the final blow never came, Albel's mouth descended upon her own as he purposely fell on top of her. They both fell over onto the ground as Nel's weapon flew out of her grasp. He balanced himself with his claw arm so he wouldn't crush her, but covered her body enough to where she couldn't push him off. She was trapped and couldn't get out, she had no choice but to admit defeat…that is if Albel was willing to let her breathe.
"Okay you win…I give up," she gasped after he finally decided to release her lips. He was too busy catching his own breath to answer her, but he reluctantly rolled off of her so that he was lying beside her. The next few hours were spent on resting and then recovering. They had plenty enough blueberries and blackberries to heal all the wounds they inflicted upon each other and soon all that was left was popping Albel's shoulder back into place.
When it was all over, Nel's thoughts went back into the duel as they both sat next to each other against the stone wall. She had to wonder what Albel would make her do and how it would be allowed by their kingdoms.
"So what do I have to do?" she wondered as she lazily moved her head to look at him.
"Since you admitted defeat, you now belong to me and as for the bet we made: I want you to marry me once everyone gets used to us being together," he explained in a slightly tired tone. Suddenly it all came back to her.
Ancient Aquorians consisted mainly of warrior women (she recalled Fayt once saying that they were similar to Earth's Amazons) and in order for a man to claim one, they must defeat her in Bellare. If the man is strong enough and won the duel, the woman became his 'property' because marriage didn't exist yet. If Albel was correct and if the Bellare duel was still within both Aquaria's and Airyglyph's laws, then she legally was his now, truce or no truce. Then, of course, if their leaders accepted it (which she was certain they will), the commoners would eventually stop protesting the truce and then the peace treaty would finally be underway because they wouldl be likely candidates for an arranged marriage.
She had unwittingly sold herself to him the minute she agreed to the terms and accepted the challenge. But then there was something else…that small detail he was hiding earlier.
"Now I remember! ….You bastard! You were afraid that I could have won and used the fact that I didn't remember Bellare to your advantage," she grinned. If the male lost in the duel, then the woman was allowed to kill him.
"Give me more credit than that, woman! I wouldn't allow my Aquarian to defeat me…" he scoffed as he crossed his arms. Her grin refused to leave her face.
"Mmm hmm sure. If you weren't worried about me having a chance in winning, then why didn't you tell me what Bellare was? You knew I would have accepted the challenge either way."
"If I told you, then you would have lost on purpose and that wouldn't have been any fun," he said as his eyes traveled down to her breasts again.
She blushed as she noticed where he was staring and covered herself, "Fun? I thought fighting was fun to you? What you've been doing was trying to tear off my clothes with your weapons."
"In order to win in Bellare I had to demonstrate dominance over you…" he then smirked, "If you hadn't given up, I could have won another way by-"
Nel's blush deepened and she pushed him away before he could pounce on her, "That's okay Nox, I know the rest. No need to repeat it."
Albel grabbed her around the waist and pulled her halfway into his lap. Their noses were touching as a mischievous, but evil look came across his features, "Why Zelpher, are you afraid to discuss what happens between a man and woman in bed?"
"No…It's just that this isn't the place to discuss this." She began protesting when he shifted his legs and forced her to straddle him.
"Well I say that this is a good place to discuss this," he declared before he nuzzled the side of her neck, "And I don't know about you but I don't think there will be much talking going on."
She moaned as his good hand traveled up her thigh and rested on her bottom. All rational thought was lost to her as her own hands found their way under his shirt. Albel let out a playful growl and then claimed her lips once again as his claw prepared to slice through the top half of her uniform…
Suddenly a loud noise erupted, making the two warriors spring apart and reach for their weapons. Nel's communicator rang once again inside her item bag before they realized what was making the noise. She slowly moved off of his lap and searched for the small box.
"Ignore the wretched thing!" he demanded after its third ring. Nel chose to ignore him and answered it when she found it. She soon regretted her decision when Adray's large head appeared on the screen.
"Hi Nel! …Wow you look so tiny! Have you been eating right?"
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes, "I've been eating fine Adray. It's the screen that's making me look small."
"You don't say?" He continued to tinker with his communicator until his face appeared upside down on the screen, "I still don't get how all of you fit into this little box!"
Albel bit back a snort of amusement as Nel tried to hold in her laughter of the confused old man.
"Um, what do you need Adray?"
"Tell him you're busy," Albel muttered as he wrapped his arm around her waist again and pulled her back against him. Luckily the aged swordsman was none the wiser to the male voice and her sudden shifting as he made a serious face… Well it seemed like it was serious, it was hard to tell with him being upside down.
"Fayt has been trying to contact you for quite some time, but you never answered…"
Had her communicator gone off? She had never noticed it. Of course how could you notice it when you're trying to avoid getting hit in battle.
"I'm sorry, I have been fighting for most of the day so I must not have heard it."
"Ah that's okay!" he said as his features brightened up, "All he was going to tell you was that we're meeting up in Peterny. He also requested that our queen and the king of Airyglyph attend so I was put in charge of bringing Her Majesty and Lasselle over there and that little scrawny critter …Roger, wasn't it? He was put in charge of getting King Arzei and Count Woltar. …Albel was supposed to be the one to do Roger's job, but no one was able to reach him either…"
He stopped for a moment to think something over, "Speaking of the lad, be sure to tell him where we're meeting…that is if he isn't hearing it now."
"What's that supposed to mean?" she inquired skeptically. Adray was a very dense man so she was going to be worried if he was able to figure out who she was with.
"That Cliff fella said that he had a hunch that Albel was with you." Nel's free hand fisted in anger before the grey haired runologist let out a large grin that looked like a frown because he still wasn't holding the communicator properly, "Now don't rush to get here. Take your time and go at it more than once because I want a lot of grandkids. …If only Clair would stop rejecting the suitors I pick out for her…"
Nel quickly turned off the device and threw it furiously across the clearing. She tried hard to ignore Albel's amused grin and his lust filled eyes as she focused on fuming. She was so getting Cliff for this! He didn't need to tell Adray about her and Albel! Now the old man was going to pester her daily to ask if she was pregnant yet.
Before another thought could cross her mind, she was suddenly down on the ground with a heavy body hovering over her.
"You heard the maggot, let's get started," he smirked before kissing her again. In the end, she did keep her promise to Clair, though Nel was sure that she meant to make him scream in battle.
When Albel and Nel arrived in Peterny, they parted ways so they could take care of some personal business before meeting the others. Nel needed to get some new clothes (thanks to Albel) and had to sneak around in the cloak he had brought with him. Albel went straight to the workshop to repair his claw and engrave the rune back on it.
Fortunately for Nel, she met Clair near the inn and she had a change of clothes available for her. Her friend instantly knew that she was hiding tattered clothes and dragged her off to a room where she could change. It was a long green sleeveless Greeton style dress with gold clasps on the sides. The ends of the skirt reached to her ankles and the slits on each side reached mid thigh. When she was done dressing, the grey haired woman produced some nice sandals that went with the outfit to replace her leggings and boots.
"I figured that you would need this since you went without your Valkyrie Garb," Clair explained as she gathered Nel's damaged uniform.
"Thank you…but why a dress?"
"It wouldn't hurt you to look nice for the queen…or for Albel."
"W-what? Don't tell me Adray-"
"Has been bragging about you two to everyone except the queen and Lasselle," she finished for her, "Now he won't rest until I have a husband."
"I'm so sorry…" Nel apologized knowing that her father could be relentless when it came to accomplishing goals.
"Personally I blame Cliff for this. He's the one who told my father about you and Albel… We should make him pay for his actions," the Aquarian commander said with the look of vengeance across her eyes.
The Double Edge of the Crimson Blade plotted ways to get back at Cliff as they headed down to the lobby to sit at the tables. It wasn't long before the conversation shifted to why Albel called her out earlier. Nel told Clair about the Bellare and that she lost, but didn't go into much detail over how it happened or what happened afterwards.
"You do realize that he now has control over you?" Clair said in a worried tone that her red haired friend only shrugged off.
"I'm pretty sure he's going to treat me like he always does, but now he will …well…" she cut off with a blush.
"But he may not tolerate your stubborn nature."
"Believe me, he'll encourage me to fight back. I think he likes me because I argue with him," Nel reassured.
Before another word could be said, someone entered the inn's lobby and headed straight for them.
"So this is where you are," Albel muttered as he grabbed Nel's arm and helped her out of her seat, "The maggots are here, let's get this over with."
"Ow! Okay! You don't need to yank my arm off!" she sneered as Clair giggled.
He glanced over at her friend and regarded her with a slight nod and a "…Worm."
"The least you could do is call her by her real name!" Nel hissed as she pinched his good arm.
"That's okay, I'm used to it. Well I should go too and make sure my father isn't doing anything…stupid. Bye fool," she then turned to Albel and decided to end the conversation with the name both she and Nel picked out for him, "…And I'm sure I'll be seeing you around more often …imbecile."
"What did you call me?" he roared as she left, but Nel held him back before he could attack her.
"It's only fair since you called her a worm!"
"She is a worm!"
"And you're an imbecile!" she retorted, earning a growl from him. Soon the irritated look melted away into an appreciative one as he noticed what she was wearing…more precisely, how form fitting the dress was and how high the slits reached.
"Like what you see?" she grinned when she realized what he was staring at. He didn't say anything, he only leaned down to briefly kiss her before pulling her outside.
"Come on, let's get this over with so I can really appreciate that dress." She shuddered at his words as she allowed him to guide her to the town square. Many people were shocked to say the least when they saw the famous Crimson Blade, Nel Zelpher, and the notorious Albel the Wicked walking down the slightly crowed streets towards the square. It was a rare sight to see Lady Nel in a dress let alone Lord Albel letting anyone be that close to him-he even had his claw resting gently around her waist!
Many people, including the ignorant war supporters thought that they hated each other, but seeing them looking like they were on a date really blew their minds. Not one of them was angry at the display, only stunned and confused. Protestors from both sides (the majority of which was the youth from teenaged years to the early 20s) thought that their role models were on their side when it came to continuing the war (Glyphian belief) or to continue their distrust towards the other side (Aquarian belief).
Nel felt nervous from all the stares, but didn't show it. It wasn't really that big a deal was it? She knew it would be somewhat of a shock, but didn't think that jaws would be hanging open or people freezing in place like stone statues. Eventually Albel had enough of this and let out a deadly glare that quickly brought the merchants and shoppers back to their senses. They even cleared a path for them.
"Well, if this isn't a sight for sore eyes! Glou and Nevelle's only children actually enjoying each other's company," an elderly voice called out from behind them. Albel closed his eyes as quiet rage swept though his features. Nel glanced over his shoulder to find Woltar approaching them with a knowing smile on his face.
"So I assume that you won the duel boy?"
"I told you that this is none of your business old man!" he yelled as the ancient swordsman circled them and faced them.
"I am certain that if both of your fathers were alive today they would approve of this. I am very proud of the two of you for looking past the hatred of your countries and finding one another," he paused to grab Nel's hand in his shaky wrinkled hands, "Please grant me this one request, Lady Nel: take good care of the boy for he is still somewhat of an overgrown child…"
"I will do my best, so you can rest your weary mind," Nel giggled as the man beside her glared daggers at the grandfatherly warrior.
"Don't you have other maggots you need to bore, old man?" Albel inquired in an annoyed tone when they reached their destination.
"Don't you have other business to attend to? Like informing His Majesty of a certain ancient duel that he doesn't know that is in the law?"
"I need to go tell the queen of this as well, I will see you later, good bye Woltar," Nel said before she kissed Albel on the cheek and broke away from his light embrace.
"She is such a polite and well behaved woman…unlike a certain boy I know… She will make a fine wife for the likes of you," Woltar grinned as he limped away.
"Why must you ruin everything?" the Wicked One sighed to Woltar as he watched his woman go.
Nel was almost there, she could see Queen Romeria talking to Maria and Sophia with Lasselle off to the side, inspecting some food that was handed to him. The Aquarian spy secretly hoped that it was poisonous and that he'd eat it. Roger and Peppita were also nearby, bragging at how much more they grew than the other, though it was obvious that the Menodix was quite fond of the circus performer. Luckily for him, Peppita seemed to be warming up to the little creature so he may actually have a chance in winning her heart. A few feet away King Arzei was talking to Fayt, Mirage and …Nel could have sworn Cliff was over there too…
"I was thinking…" an all too familiar male voice started from behind her, "As Godfather to your and Albel's kids, I want special visiting privileges and the chance to take them out on the Diplo every once in a while. Also I want to name one of them-" Cliff stopped when he noticed the Albel-like sinister look on her face. She hadn't forgotten the mess he caused.
"Sca-ree," he commented as he backed away, "I'll get back to ya on that when you're off your period."
He then ran off to Mirage as she continued on to her destination. The queen soon noticed her most loyal subject and glanced at her as she bowed before her. Maria and Sophia stopped talking instantly and listened in to what Nel had to say.
"Your Majesty," she paused to take a breath, "Albel Nox challenged me to Bellare and I have lost. I am now his …possession."
"What?" Lasselle shouted as he dropped his snack, "That isn't possible! Lord Nox must be trying to break the truce… What insolence!"
"Silence Lasselle," the queen ordered before turning back to Nel with a small smile, "I am well aware of the conditions of the duel and I accept the results, but only under one condition: You must agree to marry him for the future peace treaty with Airyglyph."
"Your Majesty?" the royal advisor gasped, "Don't make her marry that barbarian, he only-"
Lasselle quickly caught the sharp menacing look from Romeria and shut his mouth. The queen knew for quite some time that Nel was smitten with the Black Brigade captain and had sent the material about Bellare to Woltar's library in hopes that Albel would find it. Now it seemed her plan was finally underway. She knew that Nel would still be a servant of Aquaria even if Albel decided that she should live in Airyglyph so she wasn't losing her valuable Crimson Blade soldier.
"Yes, Your Majesty, I accept your terms. …Thank you." Nel bowed again until the queen ordered her to arise.
She smiled as she left the queen to go search for Albel. She knew that he was going to be successful in his endeavor to get King Arzei's blessings. Both the ruling monarchs were waiting for something like this, especially the king because he wanted to try again to win Lady Elena's heart and be able to marry her without his kingdom going against him. Nel was still quite surprised that Albel had done all this research to keep his promise and was overall happy that he did…she was even willing to ignore the fact that Adray and Cliff were going to be constant pests. Though she couldn't figure out why Cliff wanted her to have kids when he could just get some of his own with Mirage… that is if he'd ever admit that he liked her more than just as his partner…
When she found Albel again, they stayed long enough to say hello to Fayt and the others and receive congratulations on their 'engagement' as the others chose to call it before he pulled her away to get a room at the inn. Night time quickly approached and soon the rest of the team decided to stay the night at the inn with promises to meet up in the morning to catch up on old times and help plan for Albel and Nel's future wedding.
Well not really… there were some loose ends that still needed to be tied and Clair didn't like revenge served cold. In the late hours of the night, Tynave and Farleen waited in the hallway of the Peterny inn as the grey haired commander appeared.
"Tynave. Farleen. Have you completed your assignments?" Clair asked when she spotted Nel's subordinates.
"Yes ma'am! I have written the letter similar to her handwriting and slipped it under his door. He should be here in thirty minutes," Tynave replied before her violet haired comrade held up some clothes and a box.
"And I have the supplies!" she announced cheerfully. Neither girl knew what Clair was planning, and didn't question it since it seemed Nel was in on this too. But still, attacking the guy seemed a bit much.
"Good, I will be in the room preparing the restraints. Wait here for Nel."
"Yes ma'am!" they both replied before Clair went off to her task.
Meanwhile, upstairs in another room, Nel opened her eyes and carefully tried to get out of Albel's grasp without waking him. When she was done with that task, she tried to get out of bed only to have a metal hand grab her wrist.
"Where do you think you're going?" Albel mumbled tiredly as he opened one ruby colored eye.
"I'll be back soon, I'm just helping Clair out and getting revenge on someone," she responded as she used her free hand to light a candle with runology.
"Will that someone die?" he wondered with interest.
"Oh…hurry back when you're done then." He then rolled over so that his back was facing her and went back to sleep. He was only going to go with her if death of the victim was involved. Nel smiled down at him and then got dressed before sneaking out of the room to meet the others at the rendezvous point. Four Elicoorian women should be enough to take him down…
Meet me in the hallway, near the lobby at 2:30. There is something we need to discuss.
Cliff headed downstairs with a yawn before re-reading the note. He had a hunch that something bad was going to happen, but decided to go anyway. He'd listen to anything Mirage had to say even if it was a challenge to a late night sparring match. …Then again, the Klausian mating season was coming up and maybe Mirage was in heat… That thought alone made him move his feet faster to the meeting place. After all, she had been staring at him at least everyday so maybe she was thinking that he was a worthy mate for her. Too bad his thinking was way off…
When he arrived, the quartet immediately tackled him and began dragging him to the room Clair had prepared for him. They were easily able to put him in the restraints, but failed to close the door. Incidentally, Mirage just happened to be walking down the hall and was able to see her partner being strapped to a chair.
"What is going on here?" she demanded, causing the Elicoorians to stop and glance back at her. Clair cleared her throat and walked up to the doorway.
"Cliff has been meddling in affairs that don't concern him so we are going to punish him for it." Mirage paused to think back on all the times she had lectured him about this…
"Cliff, you always stick your nose into other people's business without thinking of the consequences."
"You need to stop meddling otherwise you'll find yourself in trouble."
"Don't tell Adray that, you'd know he would give Nel and Clair grief if he knew about the relationship. …Plus, either Clair or Nel would kill you."
The female Klausian raised an eyebrow as she looked into Cliff's pleading eyes. That look was clearly begging her to help him. …They wouldn't really kill him, would they?
"Oh, carry on then," Mirage replied in a gentle tone before walking off. After all, she had warned him.
"M-Mirage? Come on, help me!" Cliff yelled, but lost all hope when Clair closed the door.
"Oh Mister Cliff!" Farleen called as she held up a pair of stiletto heels. Tynave had a particularly evil grin as she held up a small pink dress. There was no way that was going to fit him.
"Cliff," Nel started as she picked out some make-up from the box, "This is the price you pay for being a 'problem solver'."
Now it's the end
Bellare is an ancient Roman word meaning 'to fight' so I thought that would be the best name for the duel Albel challenged Nel to. Because I viewed the people of Aquor as Amazons, I was hoping to find a similar word in Greek since Amazons were a part of Greek Mythology, but Bellare worked out pretty well anyway. Well I hope you enjoyed this fic and I'll be seeing you on the next update of Aquios High!