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The kingdom through the.., p.3
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       The Kingdom through the Swamp: The Courts Divided - Book 1, p.3

           Kell Inkston
 
CHAPTER THREE: NEW AND OLD

  The three knights step into the clean office laden with shelves of neatly organized books and ledgers. Sitting behind the desk is Redemption, dressed not in armor but in clothing of nobility.

  “Afternoon,” Redemption says. Order and Law promptly salute, while Love just sort of pleasantly bows her head.

  “Everything going well, Daniel?” Love asks out of turn, quickly receiving a death gaze from Law for using Redemption’s actual name. Redemption, a muscular, elegantly-built Ragnivanian smiles back with the utmost courtesy. His black hair is tied up into a ponytail as usual, Order sees, but Law thought he would look different. This is the first time he’s seen Redemption in person, but amidst all of his nervousness, the first thing he notices is how much Redemption’s office smells like cinnamon, not justice, which is a considerably citrusy smell- that is, so long as it isn’t vigilante justice, which smells more like jasmine.

  “Well enough to keep our countries from exploding, sure,” he says with a wry grin. Love nods as if she understands. “So I understand you’re the newly titled Law, yes? Hos’Rayull?” Redemption asks while looking the scaled titan up and down.

  “Yes, sir!” Law says, still in salute.

  “Very good, nice to have you with us. I’ve heard quite a bit about you from Meeo... you can stop saluting now.” Law’s arm causes a slight breeze in the room with the speed at which he lowers it to his side.

  “Yes, sir!”

  “Great, now where were we... yes, business. I’ve been incredibly busy, Ranalie, with the war to the East, the unrest in the Fairy Kingdom, and the possibility Chaos might suddenly pop up to say ‘Hi’ I sup-”

  “Wait, pardon me, unrest?” Order says to her old friend. Redemption hums as Love nods her head to the side.

  “Apparently the Fairy Kingdom thinks we’ve sent spies to kill their royal family,” Love says gently, winning a shocked look from Redemption.

  “No one was supposed to know outside of the messenger corps; how did you know?” Redemption asks. Love’s smile stretches warmly as she hums in thought.

  “Oh, I found a history book that hasn’t been written yet and flipped through it a little. Couldn’t get too far into it before it disintegrated due to inconsistency, though,” Love says with a hint of humor. The other knights look at Love with a mix of fascination, confusion, and a hint of terror. Law had always thought Love just lied about reading books before they are written, but how else would she know?

  Redemption steeples his fingers in contemplation. “Interesting. So, tell me, what happens with the war? Do we win?” Redemption asks, leaning into his desk. Love shrugs.

  “I didn’t get that far ahead; I just read we had a conflict with the Fairy Kingdom around this time,” Love says with a smile, as calm as ever.

  Redemption nods.

  “You’ve always been a... specialized Knight, Meeo. Let me know if you find out anything we could use.”

  She curtsies. “Gladly.”

  “That aside, I’ve brought you three in here for a specialized assignment of a highly political nature. It turns out that there have been several deaths in Liefland as of late, and they’re pointing fingers at the Western Kingdoms. There were two incidents: one with a knight dressed in Ragnivanian arms claiming the lives of twelve fairy-folk, and another with an unknown assailant claiming seven victims. The wounds were said to be caused by assault magic- which would suggest Kanvane. Lord Pitch, the fairy king, has contacted us to investigate the matter and prove the innocence of Ragnivan and Kanvane. I’m certain the three of you can understand how serious this is, considering a conflict for either of those kingdoms is a conflict for the Western Kingdoms. I feel it goes without saying a war for the Western Kingdoms is a war for us.”

  “If I could speak, just for a moment, sir,” Law interrupts.

  “Sure,” Redemption says with a nod.

  “Thank you, sir. I would like to know why you have chosen us in particular for this mission. It seems apparent, if not obvious to me that some of us you have selected might not be very competent in-”

  “Knight Law,” Redemption interrupts.

  “Sir!”

  “I selected each of you three specifically for this task, and I know you six will do fine together.”

  “Sir! If I m--six?”

  ‘That’s right, you three will be accompanied by three other knights. They will present a writ from me identifying them to you once you find them. You six will take the space gate to Kanvane and enter Fairy Kingdom territory through the sunken forest, and there you will meet the envoy sent for you. You will give him this writ to identify yourselves. He will then lead you into their kingdom without conflict. You will meet with Pitch, inspect the crimes, resolve the situation, and return. Do you understand?” he says with a glare as he pushes forward a letter that Order promptly takes. Law, the tallest in the room by far, straightens his stature and salutes.

  “Sir, yes sir,” the half-dragon says with a slight grumble.

  “Very good. The three of them have already been briefed and will meet you at our space gate once you’re ready. Lord General Order will be considered the leader of this mission, so if there are any more questions, you both are to defer to her. You will be cut off from contacting us as the Liefland border-control does not allow the use of chat-stones, so you will have to leave them here. Are you all ready to depart? The sooner, the better, I’d say.”

  “Of course, sir.”

  “Oh, I think so.”

  “Yes, sir,” Order, Love, and Law reply as they relinquish their glimmering gems, most of them connected to small chains or bands for safe keeping.

  “Very good. Then you will depart immediately. May the Omniverse watch you,” Redemption says with a bow of the head.

  “And you,” Order says with a smile, quickly picked up and returned by Redemption.

  The three step out of the office, and walk back down the hall to the space gate.

  “Unbelievable,” the dragon-knight grunts with a scowl the moment they are out of ear-shot from the office. Love gently pats him on the arm but is promptly shoved off.

  “Oh, Law, it’ll be okay. I’m sure the people we’ve been matched with are perfectly phantasmal,” Love says with a smile, well aware of what Law’s displeased about, but doing her best to be a good, positive example. Law sighs, says ‘right,”’ and follows Order down the hall.

  Outside by the space gate, a very excitable young lady has almost finished recovering from the sight of her lifelong idol and object of fascination walking right past her.

  “I... I can’t believe Order just walked out of the space gate, that gate right here next to us, and totally looking in this direction!” the fit, rather tall girl with hair as white as Order’s says, slightly out of breath. The youngest-looking of the three, a black and wavy-haired young lad, sighs as he massages his temples- his diminutive stature leaning over himself.

  “Yes, Aoline. You can stop saying that. We know!”

  “And to think, just imagine; the three of us will be talking to her any minute now!” Aoline exclaims again, waving one hand out in enunciation with the other placed firmly on her hip. The young, handsome boy groans.

  “Please, Aoline, relax. You’re going to make a bad impression if you act like some rabid fan.”

  “What’s the problem with being a rabid fan? The ‘Royal Knight’s Quest’ series is the best novels a person can read!”

  “Eh, no. They’re kinda dumb. They weren’t even written by a real knight.”

  “Have you read them?”

  “Well, no, but--”

  “Then how would you know?”

  “Come on, that’s not fa—Game faces, you two,” the boy says to the girl and the other knight with them, who is concealed in a cloak. Order, Love, and Law are stepping down from the headquarter’s entryway and right toward them. The Masterful Knightess Order raises a brow in interest, spotting a writ in the cloaked boy’s hand; this is the same group of kids she passed ea
rlier.

  Having approached, Order waits for the young lady to stop hyperventilating to hear what she has to say because she is obviously very excited about something.

  “Hello! Eh, Hello! Order! Hi!” the girl greets with a childlike giddiness. Order smiles the best she can; she quickly guesses this is one of those kids raised on those horrible “Royal Knight’s Quest” adventure novels.

  “Well, hello. Who mi-”

  “I can’t... I don’t... It’s you!” the girl erupts with excitement and adoration, interrupting Order. The other two youths come forward. The cloaked one salutes and holds while the pale boy just smiles. Law immediately looks over the cloaked one, somehow he looks familiar.

  “That’s right, it’s me,” Order says, “Who might you be?” The girl quickly steps back and salutes with a smile only paling in greatness to the grin of Chaos himself.

  “My name is Aoline Rayworth, low knight from The Knight Academy in Ragnivan! I’ve heard so much about you! Thank you so much for this opportunity!” Aoline presents with eager stars in her eyes. Order nods.

  “Alright, and you other two?” Order asks, looking at the two boys.

  “Lain Gainswold, top-of-class-” he coughs a moment, skewing his speech. “Knight from The Knight Academy of Kanvane, a specialist in fire, lightning, and alteration magic. A pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Lain greets, coughing to remove emphasis on the fact that he too is the lowest ranking of knight alongside Aoline. The cloaked one, still in his salute, looks to Law.

  “Dresmond Ulveroth, Knight Vanguard, yellow company, at your service,” the cloaked one introduces. Law nods in recognition to the only of the three young knights that properly introduced himself. What’s more, this kid is from Law’s company in the war, so he’s undoubtedly seen a few fights.

  “At ease, Vanguard Ulveroth. While it is fine to make your acquaintance, we are actually looking for a group of three office-” Law stops speaking as he finally notices the letter in the left hand of Dresmond.

  “About that, sir,” Dresmond says with an uncertain tone. Law stares at the cloaked boy, and sighs.

  “Give it here,” the tall dragon-kin asks the boy, no older than twenty. Dresmond hands him the letter and Law begins reading.

  Order and Love watch closely as Law’s relaxed, bored expression suddenly turns to anguish. He lets out a sigh and hands the letter to Order. Love shares a quick, humored glance with Order, who can both guess the news.

  “These are the knights we’re going with. Two of them just finished their training and this one here’s been at the front for about three weeks,” Law explains with a scowl. Order nods and places the letter in one of her in armor compartments.

  “A pleasure to have you three aboard. I’m Lord Knight General Order, this is Lord Knight Officer Love, and this is Knight Captain Law. Have you been briefed on the situation?”

  ‘Oh ye-’

  ‘We have, sir,” Lain says with a bow of the head, cutting off Aoline so as not to embarrass himself by proxy. Aoline puffs her cheeks peevishly and waits her turn.

  “Very good. So are you all ready to depart?” Order asks again as she steps up to the space gate to input the coordinates to Kanvane’s own gate; sort of like dialing a telephone number to transport to a location.

  “We are, sir,” Lain again answers, placing himself as the official speaker for the other two slightly older knights. He finds it only natural that it should be him, as Aoline seems to have trouble finishing a sentence normally around Order and Dresmond seems more like the quiet type.

  “Then we’ll leave immediately,” Order says as she inputs the code for their desired destination.

  Order finishes inputting the gate code and suddenly the empty doorway of the gate flashes with a brilliant array of colors, many of which are not visible to human eyes without the aid of some magic. The other side is revealed, Kanvane’s center square market.

  “Double file, knights,” Law commands with a stern growl. Dresmond quickly enters rank with Love, who is obeying her inferior officer’s command just for fun, while Lain and Aoline take a moment to remember exactly what they’re supposed to do. With a sigh, Law motions the knights in and places his helmet on before he enters. Order is the last one standing there to make sure they’re all inside. She takes a deep breath, says a quiet prayer, places her own helmet on and walks in with the rest of them.

 

 
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