A/N: Hey! It's been a while since I updated anything on FF... Here's a little more, though. Be forewarned that I'm in the process of revising the story, and I will change some words here and there. Nothing big, though.

Also, if you find any incongruity, please let me know by private message. As always, reviews are highly appreciated!

Chapter II - A Faithful Friend

Wolf paced from one side of his bedroom to the other. The rat was taking much longer than he'd expected and anticipated. He'd visited him that day, and was not glad to find that he was taking advantage of Wolf's hospitality. He'd walked in to find the old Jester surrounded by pillows, drowned in a sea of delicacies, and waited on by a dozen of servants.

Wolf had nearly lost his temper there and then. He ordered all but the strictest servant out, and had the pillows and costly food removed. He'd grabbed the old man by the collar and talked in the harshest and most threatening tone he had used in a while. If he did not finish soon, he had snarled, he would personally make sure the city's police force caught him and gave him permanent residence in Kebaras Island.

He now walked over to the window and looked at the horizon. Time was passing, and every day the Dark Master built more and more defenses around his lair. He would already have to deal with magical defenses, not to mention strange creatures rumored to surpass everyone in strength and might. Scattered stories around the inns told of a giant monster, looking very much like the pranksters that haunted the destroyed Garden of Rhysis. The Master made his dwelling in a place where only the mightiest and most important of his minions knew, and its location was somehow related to the Ivillis Temple. Wolf knew he would have to enter that dreaded place sometime to have some direction in his quest. His dreams were filled with giant chicken that randomly appeared behind him and pecked him to death. There were few nights now when he wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in cold sweat, breathing heavily and shaking all over.

He heard someone cough politely behind him. He turned and beheld his servant in the doorway, a scroll in his hand.

"Sir, the Jester has finished his work. I hope you'll find it to your liking." He delivered it into Wolf's open hand, and turned to leave.

"Wait... Mack, close the door. Something's been bugging me, and I need to ask your opinion of it. Am I making a big mistake? I know Sky doesn't like it, but... I just have to go fight!" He walked over to a chair and sat down hard, resting his head on his hands.

Mack's big hand rested on his shoulder. "Sir, if I may speak? We've been friends since before we chose our destinies. You took me in after life handed me a bad break, and I will always remember that. I would give my life for you. So if you decide you will risk this voyage, then please add me to your party. I would not let you go otherwise."

Wolf looked up at his burly friend in surprise. Mack had never been much of a fighter. Ever since early childhood, he had loathed the monsters and creatures that did not live within the cities. Even the tamed pets that a few were able to keep managed to upset him. For all his size and strength, Mack wouldn't (couldn't) hurt an Aibatt. How would he manage the terrifying monsters that roamed the Master's lair?

"I can't let you come, Mack. You know that..." he hesitantly replied.

"You don't go either, then. I'll lock every door and window in the house if I must, but you're staying unless you take me with you. What kind of a friend would I be if I let you run off like that? Besides," he added, "I've been practicing lately. You might find I know more than you expect me to." He tapped the bridge of his nose knowingly.

Wolf sighed. He could see why they were such good friends. They both shared the same well-meaning stubborn character. "Then it's set. We leave as soon as arrangements can be made. Tell the rest of the party that we're bringing you along. Oh, and don't forget your food. We don't want to waste time hunting mobs that are not worth our time."

Mack bowed his head then walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him. He mentally braced himself for the tasks before him. He would have to pack and, much more difficult, tell the rest of Wolf's party about his new commission.

A/N: Short, I know. I'll have something more soon. Review please!