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Chapter 3

"Lazlo? Lazlo are you listening to me?" Light colored orbs looked up witnessing even from his back the determined look of Princess Flare. Lazlo forming a smile in return. "Sorry it was such a nice day, I didn't want to spend it just talking about another battle fleet formation. We just repelled those pirates." Flickering red bandanna tails flowed in front of his eyes. Yet the princess was less than happy with the answer.

"Lord Lazlo, how can you say that. You know what we just went through we can't lower our guard. They will over run Obel. Just because Snowe decided to become a traveling merchant doesn't mean you have to pick up his lazy attitude. My father would have a fit to see you being so lazy right now." Flare placing her hands on her hips, eyes staring down at Lazlo. Who would sit up and shake his head lightly.

"Fine Flare show me the layout again. I will pay attention this time I promise." Lazlo looking at the table which was set up on the main deck. Flare now happy with this answer would start to point out several of the ships position forming a wedge. "We know that this group was nothing more than a scout ship, so we need to signal Gretchen's ram ship to lead. We will follow in our arrow ship."

"Flare!" Alan sat up, his right hand reaching up as if to touch something. Beads of sweat poured down his face and onto his bare chest. Fingers closing and opening again, a pain shooting down his right arm, remembering his punishment rune. "Alan you're awake." Selma would knock him out of his daze which he had been stuck in. "Yeah, sorry how long have I been out, where are we? Where is Teressa and Paula? Were the supplies okay?"

"Calm down m'lord everything is okay, why are you so upset?" Selma asking concerned seeing the look on his face told her otherwise. "You were dreaming about the others weren't you?" Alan remained silent hearing the flap of the hut open a Karayan walking in. "Our chief wants to speak with you. Wants that is done we will give you back your weapons." Selma looked toward the Karayan, "Can it wait he has just awoken and is still suffering from exhaustion."

"It's okay Selma, I need to get an update to whats going on. Hand me my shirt though please." The Karayan walked toward the door moving the flap to the side. "Its the hut in the center of town. Don't keep our chief waiting." Selma would hand over the semi torn tunic to Alan before getting up and following the Karayan out. Alan groaning a bit looking up, "Damn it, I should have drowned at sea." Words spoken in frustration while he slipped on the tunic and stepped outside noticing his arm had been patched.

He would walk with Selma toward the main hut, noticing young Karayans playing around in the field nearby. So this was the clan of Karaya. Two guards would allow Alan and Selma entrance into the large hut. A female Karayan was sitting with Teressa and Paula seemed to be leaning against the side of the hut. "Alan you are awake." Teresa smiled toward him, before looking to the female Karayan. "I want you to meet the chief of the Karayan people Lucia."

Alan would bow his head forward, "Thank you for allowing me treatment of my wounds chief Lucia." Lucia tilted her head to the side just looking the male up and down, he looked young when actually standing there. Though his eyes they looked old, dead, and even dangerous. They were a look she had never seen before, "It's the least I can do for you helping to get my village some much needed supplies. I do have a question for you?"

Alan would stand back up right, only to hear her words and then question. "I am glad I could be of service to both Greenhill and the Karayan people. What question do you have?" Lucia would move from the table she had been sitting at to her chair, lifting up the two sheathed wakizashi's. "Your fighting style it's similar to our Karayan style. Where did you learn it?" Alan blinked and shook his head, he had been defining his swordsmanship over many years. It wouldn't have surprised him if some Karayans had picked up on the stance and even some of the moves.

"It's not that strong, its just simple dual weapon combat. I just happen to read about the Karayan style in scrolls I ran into while studying abroad." Lucia didn't believe it for one second, "Your moves. The way you came off that cart even as I thought I had you. You were in full control, you had me and another of my warriors. Thats not simple dual weapon combat. You are a highly skilled warrior. I haven't seen any like you in my travels." Alan shook his head lightly, "My apologies, it's just my luck. I was pulled at an angle where I could recover is all. You easily could have killed me."

"Perhaps. I have a request for you." Lucia clicking her tongue to the roof of her mouth in thought. "What is the.." "Chief Lucia! The raiders are coming! The raiders!" A nearly out of breath Karayan would step into the hut. Lucia tossing the two wakizashi's toward Alan. "I am sorry we will have to talk later. I do not have anyone to spare to help guide you out of the village. You must leave on your own Teresa. Your servants weapons are there." Lucia pointing toward the straight sword and heavy two handed sword against the hut.

Alan caught his blades, hooking them back to his belt. Teresa standing up, "I cannot turn my back on this, I wish to help you fight. I didn't see many warriors here when we arrived." Lucia sneered, "What can you do? You are no warrior, we have more than enough to fight these weaklings. Now go, before I change my hospitality." Lucia would grab her whip and exit the hut running toward the field with a mere five warriors. "We should go Lady Teresa." Teresa looked toward Alan, "Like I said I won't turn my back on them. I will follow them regardless."

Alan bit his lip, hearing both Selma and Paula adjust their weapons. "Did the young woman we arrived here with leave?" Paula would rub one of her long ears, "She went back to the forest village. It's just me, you, Selma, and Teresa." Alan would sigh looking out toward the open field, seeing a little child fall and begin to cry. A mother would lean down and pick up the child. Reading her lips Alan was able to determine that she told the little one to be strong, don't cry, be proud for your father he is watching from the sky.

"Damnit.." Alan grunted moving out the front of the hut, his wakizashi's bouncing against his thighs. Selma and Paula would quickly follow Teresa in tow. "Are you going to help them Alan?" Teresa asked with concern hearing him speak harshly and begin moving in the direction where Lucia and her Karayans went. "Teresa stay here, you mean to much to Greenhill to get hurt in this." Teresa simply shook her head, "No this is my business, I want to help these people so I will do what I have to. Even if I have to fight personally myself."

"Damnit Teresa there is nothing noble about dieing. We don't need martyrs, when they can do more by living." Alan sneering remembering his dead friends, the ones who died to early the ones who died for nothing." Teresa blinked hearing his harsh words, he didn't sound like the young scholar she grew up with. "Then why are you doing this Alan? Why are you going to help Lucia." Selma would rub her fingers over the handle of her sword getting ready for combat, she could sense it was getting near.

"Because I am tired of seeing children grow up with their mother and fathers. Paula!" Alan speaking sharply while he picked up his pace toward the large grassy hill ahead. The sounds of metal clashing could be heard, Alan unsheathing both his wakizashi's. Paula had moved up to keep pace with Teresa, "I got it Alan." Paula unsheathing her steel sword, keeping her steps close while she moved forward. "Lady Teresa do not leave my side please."

Teresa would blink looking toward Paula noticing she became different the soft and happy expression was gone she looked angry. Or was it just serious, noticing Paula had unsheathed her two handed sword and was keeping pace with Alan, her breathing beginning to cut short when her stamina was running out. "I can hear them ,Alan." Alan said nothing as he reached the top of the hill seeing the battlefield seeing one dead Karayan several dead men, they seemed bunched up.

Alan could see several men with crossbows, a few sword wielders, and even someone wielding a two handed bastard sword. The numbers were still twenty five to Lucia's mere four, Alan rushing toward the center, pointing his two wakizashi's out to the left and right. Selma going to the left and Paula moving with Teresa toward the right. Lucia would snap her whip, dragging a man down only for the leather to be cut by the man wielding the bastard sword. "Lucia look out!" A Karayan warrior would step forward to block the strike. The sheer force would knock the warriors sword down the blade piercing into his eye area knocking the warrior down.

"Beechum!" Lucia explained going to her friend who was holding his face where the wound had occurred. The swordsman raising his sword again intending to finish off the the Karayan Chief. Then would come the crashing body of Alan who knocked the man down, raising his right hand blocking a strike of a swordsman. Only to ram the left handed wakizashi's into his chest. Spinning around to avoid being cleaved in half by another man His left hand being brought around the handle of the wakizashi driven into the man's skull knocking him forward.

The lunging forward blade of another swordsman would be pushed down when he rose up his left leg striking the man's wrist. Leaning into the man Alan would head butt the man knocking him down his nose being destroyed. Lucia looking up, "Wh!" Her words cut short as she helped Beechum up. Selma had come in on the left her sword cutting through a man's abdomen the crossbow falling toward the ground. The elf quickly kicking the wooden weapon upwards slapping a man in the face.

In turn only to spin around hitting him along the face his head splitting apart. Paula would join her friends seeing Teresa linger back as blood would splash onto her clothes and skin. It came when Paula would thrust her sword into a man's abdomen killing the crossbow wielder. Pulling her blade out only to swing downwards striking a man in the right thigh the man clutching the wound, When she stepped into him using her shoulder to knock him down. Both of her hands coming to rest on the handle thrusting it into the man's abdomen.

The sudden surprise sent all the men into a frenzy trying to avoid the sudden ambush. Alan feeling blood splash onto his face when he cut a cross into an unlucky swordsman ripping him into fours. "Finish them Paula!" Alan issuing an order watching ten men begin to run away out of a surprise. Paula raising her right hand the shine of the wind rune becoming clear. A large gust of wind picking up, the clouds darkening a bit over the horizon while the men were fleeing. Two tornadoes would drop down beginning to rip up the ground.

Teresa was surprised to witness the wind rune summon the shredding attack. Tossing the men around snapping their bodies like twigs in sickening screams of high gusting wind. It was vicious, it was like watching the attacks from the horse during the unification war. It was truly savage, fingers coming to brush along her face feeling the hot sticky blood, she could feel her heart beat faster. Fingers beginning to shake as she collapsed onto her knees, then forward onto her hands beginning to throw up.

"Teresa! Alan!" Paula would scream toward Alan while she lowered down to check on Teresa resting her hands on her back rubbing to help ease her panic. Alan was distracted with a current issue looking down at the man who wielded the bastard sword, stepping on his wrist only to kick him in the face. The man falling onto his back groaning feeling the bone in his wrist snap when Alan twisted his heel digging into the radius and ulna. "I am sorry you picked the wrong day to be a mercenary."

Alan raised his right hand up intending to drive his sword deep into the man's chest being stopped when he felt Lucia grab his arm. "Stop wait I need to ask him a question." Alan blinked looking down at the man, "Seems you got lucky this time." Alan stepping off the man's wrist letting him clutch his broken wrist. "Where are they!" Lucia would scream at the man. Who looked up and began to laugh. "Like I would tell you go ahead and kill me!" Lucia getting angry would kick the man, "Stop messing with me! Where are my people!"

Alan whistled, Selma approaching, "I am growing impatient make him talk." Selma would semi grin, her ears flicking back a bit while she reached down grabbing the man's broken wrist. "I would talk if I were you." With that said she would begin to break one finger on the broken wrist hand after the other. The man beginning to scream, Alan turning to see Paula with a concerned look toward Teresa. "Take your wounded and Teresa back to your village. Selma and I will get what you want out of him."

Lucia was surprised by the sudden ruthlessness and then orders to move her wounded. He was right they needed to get Beechum and the others treated, even she was wounded. "Fine, lets go Beechum can you walk?" The Karayan would nod as he rubbed blood from his face, "I will be fine." The Karayans would leave with Paula and Teresa, Alan looking at the man while Selma broke his fifth finger on his broken wrist's hand. "What was that I couldn't hear you amongst the screaming. I will have to ask you to speak in a calmer tone." Selma grinning a little, breaking his thumb on his good hand, the screams would echo all over the plains.

Teresa felt sick resting in a chair by a table inside of Lucia's tent. She had cleaned the blood off her face, but the reflection still reminded her. "Are you okay Lady Teresa?" Paula asked the question approaching brushing her fingers through her hair, feeling the loose strands drip with water. She had to rinse her hair out, her sword tapping against her thigh. Teresa would look up shocked, "How can you do that?" Paula blinked confused her ears waggling upwards while she looked toward Teresa. "What do you mean?"

"Kill like that, I mean you three did it like it was nothing. How can you take life so easily, you didn't try to wound the men or capture them. You three cut them down and slaughtered them like they were dogs." Paula would swallow a moment, she should have known that was what she meant. "It wasn't easy for me originally. It took me years to get used to being an efficient soldier. Lord Alan showed how to be strong and push past that feeling you are having." Teresa felt even more sick, "How is it a good thing to say that. There is no weakness in valuing life."

"Its weakness if you always think before acting." Lucia would approach, her arm wrapped up while Beechum was in tow behind her. "I am sorry you got wounded for saving me Beechum." Beechum simply bowed his head, "It was an honor to help you my chief." Lucia tried to take comfort in his words, while looking toward Teresa who looked very pale. "If you show no compassion you are no better than them." Teresa responding in rebuttal to the comment from Lucia. "There was no reason to show them mercy. They have been capturing my people and taking them somewhere to sell as slaves."

Teresa was shocked by Lucia's response, Paula would look down she could remember times where her people had been forced into things if they were caught off guard. "I. I mean I had no idea, is that why there is so little Karayans here?" Beechum would speak up watching Lucia take a seat in her chair. "We lost a lot of our comrades during the unification war. However these raiders have been thinning our numbers further. It's been hard on our chief trying to handle this problem with."

"Stop Beechum, that is enough." Lucia stopping Beechum from saying to much. "Let it go for now, we are unable to do anything about this for now." Teresa was still confused, her eyes watching Beechum who would step out of the tent, probably to tend to other important matters. "Why would someone kidnap your people as slaves?" Lucia rolled her eyes annoyed with that question. "Probably the same reason those elves serve that kid. I am sure they were captured and made slaves early on in their lives to his family."

"That is not correct." Selma would speak up walking into the tent, her eyes slanting, "Don't speak bad of Lord Alan. He would not condone such actions, Paula and I serve him by choice." Lucia and Teresa would look toward Selma who plopped her heavy two handed sword into the ground resting on the pommel of the sword handle. "Touch a sensitive subject did I?" Lucia slanting her eyes a bit toward Selma. Paula getting angry, "Lord Alan has done more for our people than anyone ever before. We owe him our lives easily a hundred times over."

Teresa listened to the words and wasn't sure how to react, she didn't know much about Alan as she once thought she did. He was just a happy scholar right? A gifted strategist was all? Why were they talking about him like he was some king of a land. Selma would flick a strand of her hair out of her face. "We found out your people have been transported north, probably over the mountains near Harmonia. There is probably an illegal black market where they are sold to the corrupt." Lucia became more focused hearing of her people being shipped up north. "Are you sure?"

"I am sure, the man told us everything he knew." Lucia tapped her fingers on the chair scratching at the wood. "How do you know he was being honest?" Selma slanted her eyes toward Lucia, "He was begging to die by the time Lord Alan was done with him. So I am sure it was all true." Lucia would sigh leaning back into her chair, she had questions that needed some answers. "Fine you three can rest here tonight and help yourselves to food. Where is Lord Alan?"

Teresa would just look down, this had been a little more than she expected. Yet her justice obsessed side was worried about Lucia's people. This leaving her concerned and wanting to know some more. Perhaps she needed to return to Greenhill to get some help. "Lord Alan is bathing at the stream." Selma raising her sword and sheathing it in place on her back, before coming to rest against the hut by Paula. Lucia would quickly push off her chair and move out the hut moving toward the stream.

The water was warm, the sun was high in the sky now, it was probably getting late in the afternoon. Alan would look down into the stream, his shirt and weapons resting on the shore. Boots plopped by a rock, allowing him to stand in the water, leaning down to splash water on his face. The bandanna being soaked in the water along with his hair. Looking into his reflection he sighed, "Was I wrong again Elenor? Did I pick a fight I shouldn't have? Would you scold me or commend me? I am sure Agnes would reprimand me."

"Talking to yourself boy?" Lucia would approach him noticing him bathing of sorts, more caught up in his reflection. Perhaps he was narcissistic? It wouldn't surprise her knowing these people who have servants and were nobles. "Just reflecting on my life. Is there something you need Lady Lucia?" Alan turning to face her while walking toward the land stepping onto it and plopping down on a small boulder. Lucia shaking her head lightly, "I wanted to thank you for helping us. It irritates me to say we needed help. But thank you."

Alan shook his head, the water beading down his body. "No need for thanks, just doing the right thing." Lucia sighed, "No one has ever really helped my people. I have received lies and deception but never once had any of your kind ever helped us without wanting something in return." Slipping on his boots Alan looked at Lucia, "You don't have to look far Lady Teresa desires to truly help you and your people." Lifting up his shirt he would slide it on, rubbing the flat of his palm along the fabric to flatten our some of the ruffled edges.

"Maybe. Tell me something, how long have you been fighting?" Alan raised his light colored orbs toward the sun then toward the stream. "Longer than I can remember. I will help you find your people." Lucia took his answer, it explained a lot to her. She was a warrior and witnessing his skill in combat his decision and strategy. There was far more to him than she could put her finger on yet. "Thank you for that. I feel like I can put my trust in you." Shifting his wakizashi's he began to walk back toward the village. "That you should never do. I can only let you down." Alan not saying another words while moving away. His heart felt heavy again, remembering all his friends who said they could trust him. How could he honestly take that trust again, they all are gone now what could he do to really save them? How foolish he was for even thinking that was possible.