This is an AU story of Suikoden V. I decided to put Hero IV as a major character here because I felt it would be more interesting that way. Many thanks to DarkAngelScythe for giving me key suggestions for the story's plot (we're online pals). And also, many thanks to WraithRune and Jonathan Priest for their fantastic stories, Silent Watcher and War of the Runes: they gave me inspirations.

Before the Beginning (Part I)

The corridors and halls of the Sun Palace were quiet to almost silent. It had been a day since Queen Arshtat sent her son, Prince Freyjadour, and her sister, Lady Sialeed, to investigate the current situation in Lord Lake. The palace maids and guards knew very well that the report concerning the scorched, forsaken town will not be pleasant at all. And so they kept quiet, careful not to gossip about matters that might anger the Queen and the nobles in public.

Lazlo frowned at the eerie silence around him. He was leaning on the wall of the Guard Room with his arms crossed, waiting to be summoned by the Commander of the Queen's Knights to his office. What could the Commander possibly want to talk with me about? he wondered. It must be something important. Otherwise he wouldn't have bothered to summon someone like me here in private.

"Lazlo," a hoarse voice called out from the other room.

Lazlo straightened up and walked toward the door to the office. He pushed the door open and saw Ferid, the Commander of the Queen's Knights and husband to Queen Arshtat, sitting behind his desk, a paper in front of him and a quill in hand. "You called, Your Majesty?" he asked.

Ferid – Commander Ferid – cracked a smile. "Your teacher, Franze, have told me many great things about you," he said and put his quill down. "Guess what?" His grin widened. "You're promoted."

The expression on Lazlo's face quickly turned to surprise. "Me, Your Majesty?" he asked, his eyes widening. "But I'm only nineteen."

Ferid nodded. "I know full well that you are too young to be a Queen's Knight, Lazlo," he said, "but your skills in swordsmanship and rune magic are too valuable to be wasted as a Queen's Knight's apprentice." He chuckled and then added, "And don't worry about age. The Lady Miakis, my daughter's bodyguard, was also nineteen when she became a Queen's Knight."

"And the reason behind my promotion is?" he asked suspiciously.

"I knew you might ask. Her Majesty needs another Queen's Knight. The maximum number for members is nine, but there are only seven of us, including me. With you as an addition, that makes eight. Eight knights are better than seven when you think about it."

That's not exactly a lie, he observed critically, but it's still a lie nonetheless. He smiled and nodded curtly. "I'm honored to able to serve as a Queen's Knight, Commander," he said. Lie or not, he couldn't let this opportunity slip away so easily: being a Queen's Knight does have its certain advantages after all.

Ferid grinned. "Good," he said cheerfully. "Your knighting ceremony will take place this evening. Any more questions you'd like to ask?" There was a pressing note in his voice.

He thought about it for a moment. "Well…" he said almost hesitantly, "I do have a few more questions to ask."

"Then ask away," Ferid offered.

"Why did you choose me?" Lazlo asked curiously. "How do you know I can be trusted? What makes you so sure I won't betray you and the Queen?"

He expected Ferid to throw a fit, but the calm expression on the Commander's face plainly said he wasn't the least bit surprised. "Simple," he answered. "It's because you remind me of my son."

His answer caught him by surprise. "That's it?" Lazlo asked incredulously.

"Not very much, but a little bit." Ferid's kind face then turned deadly serious. "However," he added warningly, "I certainly won't forgive if you double-cross us. And I'm sure Falena won't either. You will be facing immediate execution should you ever betray the Queen." He smiled a mischievous smile. "Understand?"

The fact that he's threatening me like this must mean he doesn't trust me that much after all, Lazlo thought. Oh well. It's not like I need his complete trust nor Queen's for that matter. He bowed politely and then spoke in a serious voice. "I understand, Commander."

"Of course you do." Ferid went back to writing his paper. "You're dismissed. Oh, and don't forget to wear your new uniform for your knighting ceremony. I've already sent a messenger to deliver it for you. Be sure you arrive by sunset."

Lazlo bowed politely one more time and exited the office. Even after he shut the door behind him, he could still hear the faint whispers of Ferid muttering to himself. "Franze was right. That Lazlo is a strange kid."

He smiled. You have no idea how true that is.

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Inside her bedroom, Lymsleia, Crown Princess of the Queendom of Falena and jewel of the Falenas Household, screamed in surrender and dropped her head on the history book she had been reading. "I give up," she complained. "I can't do this anymore. It's too boring here without brother!"

"Princess!" Miakis, her bodyguard and a fully fledged Queen's Knight, gasped in mocking surprise. "I never knew you were so…so…lonely."

"Be quiet, Miakis." Lymsleia slammed the book shut and crossed her arms. "I'm really bored right now," she said irritably. "I need to be entertained."

Miakis chuckled. "You know, Princess," she told the younger girl, "you're sounding more and more like a spoiled brat than usual."

"I can't help it alright? Brother is far away and I really miss him." She sniffed. "And I'm really worried for him too."

"Don't worry, Princess," the Queen's Knight assured her. "Lyon's there to protect him."

"What if he gets sick?"

"Lady Sialeed will know how to take care of the prince if he gets sick. And they have an expert doctor aboard the ship, too."

"Humph." Lymsleia headed for the door. "I'm going for a walk," she announced. "Hurry up, Miakis."

"Yes yes, Princess," Miakis sighed.

The two were strolling through the corridors of the east wing area when they heard voices echoing from the other side of the corridor.

"How shameful," a male voice said. "You – A Queen's Knight? Bah!"

"There's no way we nobles will let you, a mere kitchen boy, become a Queen's Knight," another male voice said sneeringly. "My father has close ties with the royal family you see. He'll definitely convince the Queen to change her mind. So why don't you go back to scrubbing dishes? Your existence is fouling our majestic Sun Palace."

"What are they talking about?" Miakis whispered, her eyes narrowing.

"Hey hey...What's your name again?" the other male voice asked mockingly. "Lazlo was it? What a hilarious name! Hahaha!"

"That's it!" Lymsleia hissed. Angrily, she marched to face the two harassing speakers. "Hey you chicken heads!" she shouted. "What do you think you're both doing?!"

The culprits, two young men wearing clothes that symbolized nobility, jumped in surprise. When they saw her and Miakis, their eyes widened in horror and their faces paled considerably. Their victim, a brown-haired young man clad in breeches and a shirt with a red bandana tied around his forehead, however, stared at Lymselia not with horror, but with a look of total surprise on his face.

"Your Highness," one of the young noblemen said nervously, bowing. "We didn't know you were here."

"Leave the palace," she told them coldly. "The sight of you both is hurting my eyes."

"But—"

"You better listen to the Princess, little boys," Miakis warned, her face clouded with evil intent. She slowly drew out her daggers. "Otherwise I will throw both your corpses into the Feitas River."

The two fled after that.

"Are you alright?" Lymsleia asked.

Deep blue eyes widening, the young man quickly bowed. "I'm fine, Your Highness."

"Why were they cornering you?" Miakis asked.

The young man opened his mouth to answer her question, but his voice was drowned by a familiar, booming voice. "Lym, Miakis! There you are!"

Lymsleia turned her head to see her father, Ferid Falenas, the Commander of the Queen's Knights, walking toward them. "What's going on?" he asked curiously. "I heard Lym shouting something about 'chicken-heads' so I came to investigate." He noticed the young man. "Why are you still here, Lazlo?"

"You know him?" she asked.

"Of course I know him. I was the one who had summoned him to my office half an hour ago." He looked critically at the young man called Lazlo. "So?" he asked. "Why are you still here?"

"Uh—"

"He was being harassed by two noblemen, Commander," Miakis explained, quickly coming to Lazlo's defense. "We caught them attacking him with prejudiced lines like 'we nobles will not allow you to become a Queen's Knight'."

"I see." Ferid's face softened. "I apologize for acting suspicious," he said apologetically to him. "You didn't take it personally did you?"

Lazlo shook his head.

"The nobles are becoming haughtier these days," Ferid sighed, shaking his head. "But I never expected them to act that way in public, especially inside the Sun Palace." He smiled. "I see you've met my daughter and her bodyguard, Miakis."

Miakis made a forced cough. "Ahem."

Ferid chuckled. "I almost forgot. Lym, Miakis," he told them, "this young man is Lazlo. He's our newest recruit."

"It is an honor to meet you both, Your Highness and Lady Miakis," Lazlo said, bowing politely.

"Wait," Miakis interrupted. "You're the new Queen's Knight Ferid has been talking about?"

It was Ferid who answered her question. "Well yeah." He cocked an eyebrow. "Do you have a problem?"

"Of course not, but the nobles do."

"Ugh, how many times do I have to tell you, Miakis? The only ones who can decide who will be a Queen's Knight are me and Queen Arshtat. The Senate and nobles can complain all they want, but the Her Majesty's protection is MY responsibility."

"But," Lymsleia said worriedly, "won't your popularity go down, Father? The Senate is already displeased enough when you brought George here."

"They will shut their mouths up when they see Lazlo's skills in battle after the knighting ceremony."

"What did you say?" Lazlo asked suddenly, his eyes widening.

"Didn't I tell you? After you've officially become a Queen's Knight, you will have to duel one of our current members. It doesn't matter if you lose, but you have to show at least one or two of your skills as proof you are fit to be a Queen's Knight." He paused. "Will that be a problem?"

Lazlo shook his head. "No," he answered. "I'll do my best, sir." There was no trace of false modesty in his voice when he said that.

"Good. Now go back and practice with Franze to get ready for the duel," Ferid ordered. "Don't forget to come back here by sunset, too."

Lazlo bowed politely one more time and left.

After he was gone, Miakis looked queerly at Ferid. "Dueling?"

He shrugged. "It was the only thing I could think up of, alright? If that boy doesn't prove his worth then the nobles will keep harassing him nonstop."

Lymsleia nodded in agreement. "He's right, Miakis. Besides" – an evil grin touched her mouth– "I can't wait to see the look of utter disappointment on those chicken-heads' faces." She laughed coldly.

"Chicken-heads?" Ferid looked quizzically at Miakis.

She shrugged. "Her word, not mine."

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Zerase, the Bearer of Stars and a powerful sorceress, stared blankly at the empty platform where the statue containing the sealed Dawn Rune had once stood. She touched the black-stone earring attached to her right ear with her fingers and rubbed it gently. "Lazlo," she said calmly. "How is the current situation?"

Everything is still the same, Zerase, a male voice that only she could hear replied. I do have one, good news though.

"What is it?"

I've been promoted to a Queen's Knight. I'll be able to monitor the Sun Rune closely now.

"Keep a fair distance," Zerase told him. "If the Sun Rune clashes with the Rune of Punishment, the level of destruction will double. It is already troublesome enough that I have to watch over one True Rune."

Then what do you want me to do?

"Prevent the two True Runes from clashing at all cost," she told him firmly. "You may protect yourself from the Sun Rune with the Rune of Punishment, but that is as far as you can go."

So you expect me to do nothing the next time the Sun Rune goes out of control?!

Her reply was automatic "Yes. Remember – your duty is to monitor the Sun Rune, nothing more and nothing less. Leave the task of stopping the Sun Rune to the others."

What others?

"Look up at the night sky and you will see the answer," Zerase said. Without waiting for a response, she let go of the dark stone and the connection broke off, ending their conversation.

The fated war that shall change the course of Destiny has begun…

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I noticed not many people know the origins and meanings behind the names of most characters, especially Lazlo's. Here are the translations for the Suikoden IV and V heroes:

Lazlo – another name for Ladislas. It is of Slavic origin, and its meaning is "glorious rule". This was a royal name used in medieval Hungary.

Freyjadour – is of Scandinavian origin, and its meaning is "lord, exalted one". In Norse mythology, Frey is the fertility god (maybe that's way he looks so feminine), and also the most handsome of all deities.