It was not long after their conversation that they had landed in the center of town in Sylph territory. With the message Tanya sent her friend, Kurt, aka Satyr and the message he sent in return, he told her he would meet her at a fountain in the middle of town. Kirito stayed with her until Kurt arrived. Well... Kirito and a few other fairies. Leafa, who he introduced as his kid sister, was also a Sylph Fairy like Satyr. Lisbeth, a friend, was of the Leprechaun clan, and a guy named Klein, also a friend, was of the Salamander clan. They chatted cheerfully, Klein hitting on Tanya a few times, and getting dirty looks from Kirito for him doing so. It was not long, and Satyr showed. He did not look too pleased that she was hanging out with them, but Tanya did not care, she was always for making new friends.
After a quick introduction of everyone, Tanya said her goodbyes, thanking them for their hospitality. She then turned and walked away with her friend, Satyr. However, she did not get too far when Kirito called out to her.
“Tanya, wait a minute.”
She turned watching him come quickly toward them, “What’s wrong, Kirito?”
“Nothing. I just wanted to know if you want to partner up tomorrow for a trip to Aincrad?”
“Yes!” Tanya exclaimed softly.
“Tanya! Really, Aincrad? That place is dangerous,” Satyr expressed.
Kirito looked to Satyr with a ‘mind your own business’ look as he replied, “She will be safe. She will be with me. I have conquered every floor, most twice.”
Satyr shook his head. “I object to this. You're supposed to be here helping me. How can you help me if you're off winning battles with this Spriggan?”
Tanya looked to Satyr and sighed, then perked up as an idea came to her. “What is a good time for you Kirito?”
“Well,” Kirito stated as he opened his panel to look at something. “It’s twelve twenty-five in the afternoon where I am.”
Tanya opened her panel and looked at the time. “It’s nine twenty-five, Thursday evening for me.”
Kirito smiled at her, “It’s Friday afternoon for me.”
“Ah, future boy,” Tanya poked fun at him.
Kirito chuckled, “So you have school?”
She nodded, “I am out at two, home about two thirty. Then homework. So about three, I am free as long as the Instructors don't pile it on us.”
Kirito went into thinking mode. “Three… three... that would be four in the morning for me.” He nodded swiftly. “That’s good for me.”
Tanya blinked at him, “Kirito, that’s rather early.”
“I am good. It’s only an hour earlier than when I normally get up.”
Tanya’s body went limp like she was a rag doll as her shoulders slumped, as she groaned, “Ugh… I don’t want to think about it. I have to be up at five in the morning for school as well.”
Kirito smiled at her, “Alright then, go do what you need to do, and I will meet you at three your time where we met tonight.”
Tanya blinked, “Over the lake?!”
Kirito grinned at her, “What’s wrong? Afraid you will take another dip?”
Tanya drew up her hands resting them on her hips, giving him a cocky look. “Not on your life. I know how to fly now, thanks to you.”
“Great,” Kirito replied as he turned from her as he waved over his shoulder. “See you tomorrow, Tanya. I expect to see great things from you in Aincrad. Don’t let me down, Dragon Master.”
Tanya giggled at Kirito when suddenly Satyr grabbed her arm jerking her attention to him.
“You told him about Dragon Lance and that you were a Guild Master?”
Tanya pulled away from him with ease, an odd look on her face. “Yeah, what’s wrong with that? It’s Kirito. The Kirito. I don’t think I have to worry about him.”
“How do you know it is the Kirito? Just because he tells you he is him don’t mean he is,” Satyr informed her. “You need to be careful with what you tell people in here. You don’t know any of them. You don’t know if they are lying or telling the truth.”
Tanya sighed with a nod just to shut him up. He was starting to remind her of her parents. She knew the rules of the web and she was no fool. But she also knew someone was not going to go around pretending to be a kid that was trapped in a VRMMO for two years. She blew him off and just agreed with him. Finally, they started on their way to his place to talk about the creation of his Guild.
It was the weekend, a week and a half later, and Ashley pretty much had the day all to herself to do with as she pleased. Kurt was busy for the day, so he did not need her help. Kirito had a family thing and would not be free until her evening time, better said as his morning of the next day. As for the others in her Dragon Lance game, besides her brother, she was not sure what they were doing, so she just relaxed for the moment on her bed thumbing through one of her Gamer magazines. She was trying to read up on some of the new VRMMO’s coming out, but her mind would not stay focused on what was in front of her, it kept running through the events of the past week.
It had been a little over a week since Ashley started helping Kurt out with his Guild, and things were moving along well. In that week alone, he doubled his numbers for Guild members going from twelve to twenty-four. Sure, it was nothing major, but it was better than the progress he was having. Before she started helping him, he was getting no recruits at all. His small count of twelve was what he started with and stayed with for months. So it was a step in the right direction, which made Ashley happy. Kurt on the other hand, not so much. He wanted results now, yesterday even, but that was not going to happen. With his impatience, he started getting pushy and offering outlandish things if they joined his Guild. She told him he could not do that. Finally, she got him to understand how things worked. Seeing that if he did not stick to his own laws and guidelines of his Guild, his members would see him as a bad leader and would start dropping or just become inactive and that is not what he wanted for a successful Guild. He finally went back to the way she had things and his member count went up a few more members.
Her personal life, or aka VRMMO life was moving along great. Her and Kirito hung out a lot, hunting, and doing battle in Aincrad…Which was amazing! She could not believe the challenges and how hard they were, but thanks to her Dragon Lance game she was doing rather well. Her sword skills were really paying off. They had just made it to the third floor yesterday. It took them, or well…her, three days on each level to finally get there. Not too bad, or at least in her book, it was not too bad. If it had not been for Kirito being with her she was sure she would have still been on the first floor. When they were not doing battle within Aincrad they were hanging out with Kirito’s friends and his little sister. Which Ashley enjoyed way too much. His friends were really nice and pretty cool, and she was starting to make friends of her own while she was hanging out in ALfheim.
After a while longer in thought, Ashley started to grow bored and she closed her magazine setting it to the headboard of her bed, retrieving the headgear for her game. Placing it on her head she slid down on the bed and laid down getting comfortable. She crossed her arms over her stomach.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Dawnmeadow Village as Tanya stood in front of Whitehaven's Castle gate, home and stronghold of her Guild. With her eyes cast over the village, she smiled warmly. It was hard to believe how beautiful Dawnmeadow had become. Still, on the Western side of the river, the now metropolis of Dawnmeadow was home to hundreds led by the Guild’s second most Noble Knight, Sir Crelan. This metropolis was rebuilt by Sir Crelan and the Villagers themselves, and filled with spiritual significance, which is of great importance to the people of Dawnmeadow and its now success. The metropolis itself looked delightful. With its ebony wood rooftops, marble walls and silent mountain range that gave them a beautiful backdrop to their village, Dawnmeadow had gone from a desolate atmosphere to a captivating atmosphere.
The cathedral was still the village's main attraction, which was built years ago but was refurbished by the Holy Knights of their Guild. Besides the cathedral, Dawnmeadow now had a prospering economy, which was mainly supported by engineering, blacksmithing, farming and wood production. But their biggest strengths were their sophisticated cooking and weaponsmithing. However, Dawnmeadow still lacked skill in battle. It was not that it did not have any, it just had very little. This made it a target for thieves and attacking Guilds that were not allied to the Knights of The Mystic Dragon. At times this proved a little adventurous for the Knights of The Mystic Dragon with Dawnmeadow’s prospering economy.
Despite its strengths and weaknesses, Dawnmeadow was now one of the most favored villages to live in with its clean rivers for fishing, crisp, fresh mountain air and thriving forests with ample amounts of vegetation and huntable wildlife. It was nothing to find the population climbing every day, but it was not their only village. Nor was it their only village that had rose from the ashes into glory. There were eight more that surrounded them under their jurisdiction, Dawnmeadow was just the biggest and most thriving at the moment. With the castle being so centralized in the world they were surrounded by many things. Mountains to their North; the sea and volcanic range to the East; the Western plains with ample lakes and their flora and fauna, green forests; and the South with their desert flatlands. They even had treaties with the four other larger Guilds in the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western hemispheres of the world.
They had it all. They were the highest Guild relied on, looked upon and sought out when something or someone was in need. To the ones with power in the Guild, it was no longer a game. It became a full-time job. A job they all loved and because of their love for the Guild and the VRMMO they stayed strong and flourished. Though others gave the credit to Tanya and her fairness and kindness toward the others no matter their rank. Tanya fought for her people, their property, shared the wealth and treated everyone as an equal. It was not just the Guild she favored. It was everyone associated with it that she protected. And it was not just her that cared; it was also her ranking officers. From the Noble Knights to the Privates in her Army. They all helped the townspeople in any way they could. Be it something as simple as sweeping and cleaning up litter to hard labor like farming or rebuilding after a battle. They all looked out for one another. To some Tanya was not a Guild Master, but the Queen of their world and their Royal Court of the realm. She was loved and admired by all. She and her Guild, the Knights of The Mystic Dragon were their Guardian Angels of their VRMMO world.
With a final glance across her Guild’s land, she turned with a bright smile still spread across her lips as Tanya walked toward the gates of the castle.
“OPEN THE GATES! LADY TANYA APPROACHES!” A watcher called out to the men at the gates helm.
“OPEN THE GATES!” Another man cried out. “LADY TANYA REQUESTS ENTRY!”
The gates opened with the clatter of chains and the loud groan of turning metal cogs as they slowly opened outward toward her as she stepped toward them. She nodded at the men and women on the wall controlling the gate, keeping watch and protecting the stronghold they called their home. They bowed and waved all wearing bright smiles across their faces. Some wished her a good day, others a cheerful hello as she passed by them into the courtyard.
Once well into the courtyard a strong wind whirled about as the sound of wings echoed in her ears. Her hood fell from her head revealing her dark raven hair, her cloak dancing behind her in the steady breeze from the beast's wings. It landed behind her, the earth trembling from the weight of the mighty creature as it reverberated through her body. Her hand came from inside her cloak and stretched above her head, in her palm four tiny sugar cubes rest. The beast lowered his head removing them gently from her palm. Then lowered his head back to her hand as her palm tenderly stroked his lower jaw.
“I have missed you, my friend. Have you missed me?”
The creature snorted softly, his head bobbing slightly as his comrade and soon Master tilted her head back and looked up at him with a bright smile.
“I was told you have been behaving. I have a treat for you for your fine behavior while I have been gone.” Tanya told him as the two stopped at the stairs at the base of the castle.
She stepped up on the stairs taking a few more and turned to look at Musashi. She extended her arms upward as he lowered his head between them. Her hands gently rested to either side of his head as Musashi lowered his head more, his Master gently pulling him closer to her. Once close enough she kissed the flat of his nose and rested the side of her head against it.
“It’s good to be home even if it is only for the day.” She lifted and looked into Musashi’s eyes. “Ready for your treat?”
Musashi bobbed his head softly in her arms as she released him.
“Alright then,” she went to open her panel as a Herald walked out of the castle behind her calling her name.
“Lady Tanya,” he went to one knee and bowed his head, his arm drawn across his chest, hand balled into a fist at his shoulder.
She turned from her panel to the man behind her. “Alickath, is there something wrong?”
“Vice Master, Sir Aaron. He needs you in the Conference Hall…” He paused and looked up at her with serious eyes adding with an urgent, but calm tone. “Now, my Lady.”
Tanya turned back to Musashi and quickly gave him his treat of Venison. His favorite. Patting his nose with a tender kiss she turned back to the Herald as he too turned to lead her into the castle as she called back to her Dragon.
“I will be back Musashi. Don’t go anywhere…”
She disappeared into the castle as Musashi laid down where he was and ate his treat, waiting for her to return to his side when she finished.
Approaching the Conference Hall, Tanya could hear the muffled voices of Aaron and another talking about something. The voices were low so she could not make out the second voice, but she could hear the tone in Aaron’s voice well enough to know he was growing upset at the person in there with him. The Herald pushed open the door further as she heard Aaron speak.
“We will discuss this further when Lady Tanya arrives, Grandmaster Freiveth.”
Both men looked her way when they heard her booted footsteps enter the room. Raising from his seat Grandmaster Freiveth stood and bowed deeply to her. “Lady Tanya. I am honored you could grace us with your audience.”
Seeing who it was Aaron was speaking with, Tanya looked at Grandmaster Freiveth with annoyed eyes. “Yes, I am sure you are, Grandmaster.” She replied in an annoyed tone as she walked around the table where her Vice Master was standing.
“What is he doing here?” Tanya whispered to Aaron as she stepped past him to her chair. She removed her cloak draping it over the back of said chair.
Aaron turned facing her as he stepped past her, back to his chair on her right. His head was lowered slightly as he replied. “The Westward Guilds are causing them issues again.”
Tanya smiled the best she could at the man as she turned to face him. “So the same old song and dance is it Grandmaster Freiveth? If you would have listened to me--”
“If you would have assisted like we requested last month this would not be happening,” Freiveth demanded, cutting her short, his tone slightly rising with her.
Tanya removed her gloves tucking them neatly into her belt as she then leaned forward to the table and looked to Freiveth. “First off, Grandmaster Freiveth. You will refrain from interrupting me while I am speaking. It is common courtesy to let the person finish speaking before you return comment and secondly, you will not raise your voice to me.”
Freiveth narrowed his eyes at her with a soft growl his gloved hands tightening around the chair’s armrests as Tanya continued. “As I was saying. If you would have listened to me and took control of the Guilds in your surrounding area you would not be having this issue. You did not have to put a leash on them as you believed, but to keep order you need some sort of control over them. We have no issues at all with the smaller Guilds in our order, nor do the Guilds of the Northern, Southern or Eastern hemispheres have issues with their smaller Guilds.”
Freiveth crossed his arms over his chest with an ‘if you’re done’ look, as he sat in the chair looking at her. “They are calling themselves the Dragon Slayers and they have so far killed three Mystic Dragons.” He paused for effect, watching Tanya’s eyes widen. He then continued, “One was just an infant. His eyes were not even opened yet. The other two, the mother and then a random mystic. I am sure they just stumbled across them. They have banded together with four other small Guilds.”
Tanya narrowed her eyes at the man sitting in front of her as her hand lifted and slammed down to the tabletop. “I blame their deaths on you! If your Guild would have listened to me, they would still be alive!”
Aaron placed a hand to her shoulder calming her some as she stood erect. Her body was trembling from rage and the fight to hold back her tears for the poor creatures that suffered this fate. He looked from his Leader to the man sitting in the chair as he wore a smug grin across his lips. Aaron’s hand tightened into a tight fist at his side. He looked back to Tanya his hand on her shoulder tightening slightly as her look jerked his way. Aaron nodded slowly as his hand dropped and he looked to Freiveth.
“Grandmaster Freiveth. Will you please excuse me and Lady Tanya?” Aaron requested as Aaron gestured toward Tanya.
Freiveth nodded, linking his fingers together in front of him as he looked to Tanya. “Take all the time you need, Lady Tanya.”
Tanya looked to the Grandmaster with narrowed eyes her stomach sick, not with just his news but sick of his smug look. She turned and started a path toward a door at the other end of the room, Aaron following behind.
Once in the room with the door closed, Aaron heard Tanya sniffle, her back still to him as he watched her hand lift, rubbing at her cheek lightly. His hand wrapped gently around her arm as he turned her pulling her into his arms. One arm wrapped around her waist as his other lifted, his hand going to the back of her head as he caressed her hair.
“Let me take a small group to the West and stop this madness. I will disband this Guild of rogues and put a stop to their killing of the Dragons.” Aaron told her still consoling her.
Tanya shook her head, “It won’t help. They did not listen to me when I told them what to do. If they do not do what is needed more rogue Guilds will rise up under them in the West and we will be back at square one.”
He released her placing both hands to her shoulders. “Then we do what we should have done eight months ago instead of signing a treaty with the Illusions of the Serpent Guild.” He gave her a serious look. “Conquer the West and the unchartered territory to the North and South of them.”
Aaron shook his head, “I knew with the way things were going in the meeting to sign the treaty, something was up. They were the smallest and weakest and still are. They have not grown in any way since they took over the Western Plains. The North, South and the East have doubled in size since they took their places. The only reason the West signed this treaty with us is that of our hospitality with the others. They are using us is all they are doing. Ever since that treaty has been signed all they do is stand there with their hands out. Money. Fight our battles. Find us Dragons. We need--”
“Aaron…” Tanya spoke up again, cutting him off as he turned right around cutting her short once more. He was mad, and she could see that in his eyes.
“No Tanya. I will go to the West with a small army of men to the Illusions of the Serpent Guild, and I will tell their Guild Master exactly how this works. Once the Knights of The Mystic Dragon remove this threat they are to take hold of the smaller Guilds in the territory as you instructed. If they do not and an incident like this occurs again and we have to come save them. It won’t be the rogues we will be rising against.”
Tanya looked into his eyes and sighed, “You know you can’t make a call like that, Aaron. Even if you are the Vice Master. We have to call the Noble Knights together and discuss this. This has to be placed to a vote and if all the Knights agree then that is what we will do.”
Aaron growled slightly, he knew she was right, but he did not want to admit it. “Fine, I will call them all together for a meeting,” he paused opening his panel looking at the time, then looked back to Tanya. “Will two hours from now work for you for the meeting?”
Tanya nodded in agreement that that would be fine. “I will have the Steward place Grandmaster Freiveth in a room, so he can rest before the trip back to the West.” She walked past Aaron to let the Grandmaster know of the plans as Aaron gently grabbed her arm.
“Tanya, do you think I am wrong for feeling this way?”
She looked over her shoulder at him and smiled, shaking her head, “No, I don’t. I have always trusted your instincts and you did make a call on this during, after and every time in between after the treaty was signed that their Guild was up to no good. I saw the same thing as you. I guess I just wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt in this. I guess I was too hopeful.”
Aaron chuckled softly, “I guess I wanted to believe the same thing. Let’s just hope we are nipping it in the bud before it gets too bad.”
Tanya nodded, “Let’s hope.” Aaron’s head then tilted slightly with a questioning look. “What is it?” Tanya asked turning to face him fully.
“When did we get a Steward?”
Tanya giggled softly, “Stewards are NPC’s like the Heralds.”
“Ah, makes sense.” Aaron’s hand went to the back of his head scratching it. He wore a goofy smile. “I never had to summon one so…”
Tanya smiled warmly at him and nodded. “We don’t have many stay over. So it is understandable. I forgive you for not knowing.”
“Oh, you think?!” Aaron said playfully as he grabbed Tanya and started tickling her. “I will make you think you forgive me.”
Tanya squealed gleefully as she laughed aloud, “Aaron. Stop. Stop…” She continued to laugh until he finally stopped a few seconds later. “You, big lug…” she teased him as she straightened her uniform.
Aaron chuckled softly at her pet name for him, “You want me to call the Steward?”
“No, I got it,” Tanya said looking at him still smiling. She lifted her hand opening her panel, summoning a Steward. She then looked to Aaron again. “Well let’s get this over with.”
“What are you going to tell him?” Aaron asked her as he watched her turn and walk toward the door, he fell in behind her following.
“You will see.” She gave him a side glance with a bright smile opening the door as the two exited the room, back into the Conference Hall where the Grandmaster waited for them.
About the author
I am a writer, or well, I would like to think I am. I have enjoyed writing since I was very young. I guess you could say since I picked up a pencil. I have had many good comments on my stories, so I hope you enjoy them as others have.