The time had come as Tanya sat behind the large conference table of the Knights, she was a little early, so it was no surprise she was in there alone. She was going over different scenarios in her mind, for questions she believed might be asked as Aaron and Klein walked in the room.
“Wow! Is that really you Klein?” Tanya asked watching Klein walk toward the table. He was wearing the normal white and blue Knight’s uniform, except one added extra. He wore a white, trimmed in blue bandanna, with a silver dragon embossed on the front.
“Yes, it is,” Klein replied rather proudly pulling lightly on the front of his trench coat. “Aaron filled me in on what was going on as well. This Freiveth guy sounds like a real jerk and a user.” He looked to Aaron. “Where do I sit for this?”
“You sit to Tanya’s left. I am to her right. The others will sit around the table in the order of their Knighthood. Be sure to address them as Sir or Lady and their given name. Some can get really butthurt if you don’t,” Aaron explained to him as he pulled his chair to sit down.
Klein chuckled. “Butthurt, huh?” He then pulled his chair and sat down next to Tanya. “Guess I have to call you Lady Tanya around the others?”
“Yes,” Aaron replied leaning forward as he looked around Tanya. “I call her Lady Tanya any time we are around others as should you.”
Klein nodded sharply. “Got it.”
After a minute or two, the doors opened once again, and the other thirteen Knights filed in and took their seats in the proper order. As they did so, Tanya and Aaron pointed each of them out to Klein.
The Knight that sat opposite of Klein had dark brown hair and slate gray eyes. His hair was neatly slicked back and he wore a proud and stoic expression. Klein imagined him to be one of the ones that got ‘butthurt’ over his title. He also looked to be the kind of man that was also butthurt over his position as ‘second best’. He practically leaked aspiration. This worried Klein.
“Second Knight, Sir Crelan, he is also Burgess of Dawnmeadow Village,” Tanya told him.
“Burgess?” Klein asked with a confused look.
Tanya nodded. “He is a person with municipal authority or privileges, in particular. He bought and inhabits the village Dawnmeadow. We have quite a few Knights like this.”
Klein nodded in understanding, as he did so, a tall woman with long, thick strawberry blonde hair that bordered on a pinkish red and she had hazel eyes, sat down next to Klein. “And this is Third Knight Lady Zirathie. She is the Burgess of Silkfall.”
The curvaceous woman smiled brightly--albeit a little seductively--at Klein and nodded, adjusting her uniform and crossing her legs as she sat down. She folded her arms underneath her large bust and waited patiently for the others to seat themselves. Then suddenly she pointed across the table at a seat further down.
“And that little one over there is Sir Theicien, the Tenth Knight from Honeyfrost. He’s very fun to mess with,” Lady Zirathie said in an amused tone.
“He’s the Burgess of Honeyfrost,” Tanya added.
Said Knight, had longish white hair that stuck up at the top and fell over his eyes towards the front. He kept the back in a short ponytail. His eyes were two different colors; the left being blue and the right being a bright honey color. He rested his head in his hand, wearing a bored expression. He appeared to be very young. Once he caught sight of Zirathie pointing at him, he clicked his tongue and rolled his eyes. Zirathie laughed and lowered her hand.
“Don’t mind him,” another man at the very end of the table said with a warm smile. He had short blond hair and green eyes. On his chin was a short, well-kempt goatee. “He just hates meetings. He’d rather be out doing work in the field than pushing papers.”
“Don’t lie, Thirteenth Knight Sir Dalehar,” Zirathie laughed again. “One day I dropped by for the hell of it and he was neck deep in paperwork that he didn’t even have to do.”
“Both of you shut up,” Theicien grumbled with a small growl. “Stop talking about me like I’m not here.”
As Klein stared at the three of them in awe, Aaron leaned forward and said, “Sir Dalehar the Burgess of Deerhallow, by the way.” Amongst the jokes between the Third and Thirteenth Knights, Aaron’s informational tidbit sounded rather like an afterthought.
After a few more minutes, two other gentlemen walked in. Both about the same height but one was much thinner than the other. “Sir Luthien is the Knight on the right. He is the Eight seated Knight of the Guild.” Tanya said pointing to the Knight with fire red hair and soft blue eyes.
He had a bright smile across his lips and was laughing at something the other Knight was telling him. The Knight to his left was stout with black, shoulder length hair that looked like he had not combed it all day then walked into a wind storm for more added...mess. His eyes were a dark brown and he seemed like the joker of the bunch.
“The other is Ninth seated Knight, Sir Daurith. He is a little bit of a clown, but don’t let his joking personality fool you. He can be very serious as well.” Tanya continued.
Bingo… Klein thought to himself. I nailed him.
The next few filed in rather quickly as they sat down Tanya pointed them out and told Klein who they were and their ranks. Though Klein was figuring out the rank rather quickly with the way they were seating themselves around the table.
“Fourth Knight, Sir Adoth. He is the Burgess of Grayminster the second largest village in our territory. He is a real hard case strictly by the book. So watch yourself around him.”
Klein looked to the guy and smiled with a stern nod in greeting him. He was tall with a lean tone build with long pale blue hair and matching eyes. He returned Klein’s greeting with a nod of his own as he sat to the table, his arms resting atop it his hands folded together.
He looked to the two men and the woman that walked in with the Fourth Knight. The one gentleman sat down between the Tenth and the Twelfth Knight. The Eleventh Knight, he was sure of. He had short honey blonde hair with bright blue eyes. His build rather average, though he looked strong. He said nothing as the Knight to his left spoke to him, he only nodded. The other guy sat to the left of the Fourth seated Knight. He was number Five. He was also of average build. Short strawberry blonde hair and hazel eyes. He was feminine looking and carried himself in the same manner. Then there was the only other female besides Tanya and the Third, her hair long and was such a pale blonde it was almost white, her eyes a jade green. Her build was tone and she seemed to have a chip on her shoulder. She sat down next to the Eight seated Knight. Knight number Seven was her rank.
Tanya smiled at Klein, he seemed to be taking the information in rather well. “This is not too much is it?” Klein looked her way with a bright but serious smile shaking his head slightly. “Good. I am sure you won’t remember them all in one day, but in time.”
Klein nodded again as the last two stepped in the door and took their seat at the table. He nodded to them as they looked his way. Two more men, Knight number Six, and Knight number Twelve.
Tanya smiled and started pointing them out and naming them off. Giving him a little bit on each one without overkill. “Eleventh Knight, Sir Tirav, he is the Burgess of Summerbrook.” Looking his way Klein nodded. “Fifth Knight, Sir Adoadus and Seventh Knight Lady Adiv, she is the Burgess of Lakefalls village. Sixth Knight, Sir Kedieg he is the Burgess of Dragonwarf and one of the two Knights that breed Dragons within our Guild.”
Klein looked from the woman to the massively beast man with soft brown eyes and a head as bald as bald could be. He wore a soft smile and had a loud booming voice. He seemed prideful, loving, protective, and very energetic with the way he was interacting with the others.
“And last but not least. Twelfth Knight, Sir Aekin. He is a family man. Married with two kids. He is the other Dragon breeder of our Guild.”
Klein looked to the last Knight as he sat down at the table. He was chatting cheerfully about his kids and lovely wife with the two sitting next to him. He was a large man of good build. His hair short and dark brown with soft green eyes. He had a calm soft look in his eyes and his smile.
At that, Aaron stood taking the floor as the doors closed soundly to the room. “Thank you for coming on such short notice, but this was a last-minute issue. However, before I start.” Aaron looked Klein’s way and smiled proudly. “I would like to announce that we have finally found a Grandmaster for our Guild. Sir Klein.”
Klein stood and nodded to the group as they clapped, welcoming him to the Guild. “Thank you, I know it will take me some time to learn all of your names and ranks but know my duties as your Grandmaster will not fail in that way. I have led Guilds in the past so this should not be any different. I will do you proud and I will fight to the end with each and every one of you.”
The group seemed happy with his announcement as they gave nods of approval and clapped again. Klein then took his seat pleased with what he told them and their reaction. He had to admit, he was a little worried about it all. Once he was seated again Aaron turned back to the group.
“Now, for the reason I gathered you all here today on such short notice.”
Aaron started with going into detail about the day's events with the Grandmaster from the Western Guild. Some of the Knights spoke their mind immediately about it going back as far as when the treaty was signed. Some complaining about how every time something came up the West always came around with their hand out and never returned the favor or offered to help when a Guild or others were in need. It was a rather loud, and long meeting. After the first hour, they were still sitting in the Conference Hall still discussing the route they should take with the Western Guild, Illusions of the Serpent.
“No matter the route we take with the Western Guild,” Sixth Knight, Sir Kedieg spoke up. “Their blatant actions toward the Dragon’s has to be stopped. This not only affects the West but all of us.” His heavy fist came down on the table as the solid oak table creaked under the force.
“Easy there, big guy,” Klein told him with a soft chuckle. “Don’t go breaking the table in half. Save that hammer power for the bad guys.”
Aaron chuckled softly and nodded. “Agreed Sir Kedieg. We will do just that, but in turn, I will deliver a message to their Guild Master, Thoin.”
“And what might that be? Take care of your own for once and stop bugging us. Their Guild is plenty capable of handling this.” Sir Crelan spouted, his arms folded over his chest.
Klein shook his head and looked to the man. “From the information I have gathered in just the short time I was made Grandmaster. Their Guild is not capable of handling this. Illusions of the Serpent have been around one month less than Knights of The Mystic Dragon. Where you and your other three allied Guilds have grown in size and strength. They have not. To be able to destroy an adult Dragon you have to have some major skill and strength under your belt. Illusions of the Serpent doesn’t have that. Therefore, they will not be able to handle this rogue Guild.”
“So we go fight their fight then in another month we let them come knocking again?” Seventh Knight, Lady Adiv asked looking from Klein to Aaron.
“No,” Aaron stated shaking his head. “I am going to the Guild Master and informing him as such.” Aaron paused and looked at the men and women seated around the table. “We will disband the Guild that calls themselves the Dragon Slayers. In return, the Guild, Illusions of the Serpent will step up and do as Guild Master Lady Tanya instructed and get a hand on the smaller Guilds in their territory. If they do not, and another incident like this arises or they come to us over foolishness as they have in the past. It will not be the rogue’s they are reporting we come after. It will be the Guild, Illusions of the Serpent.”
Sir Kedieg smirked. “So we break the treaty they are abusing and take over their territory.”
“Exactly,” Aaron replied looking at him.
“I am all for that.” Sir Kedieg spoke up.
Heads started to nod around the table as they talked amongst themselves for a few minutes. After they started to quiet Tanya lifted to her feet and looked around the table as Aaron and Klein took their seats.
“I have sat here being silent, listening to all your spoken thoughts on this matter. You have been presented with the dilemma and the route we want to take with this. You have heard the message Vice Master Aaron wants to deliver to their Guild Master, Thoin. Now I asked.” She looked around the table again as she continued. “Think thoroughly on your decision. Are you in favor or disagreement with this action? For if they do not step up as we are sure they will not -- Since theyhave notin the last year and a half. This will put the Knights of The Mystic Dragon into war with the West.” Her eyes still looked around the table as the men and women sat in silence. After a few moments of silence, hands started to lift from the table. Tanya looked around at all thirteen Knights. Then looked to her Vice Master then her new Grandmaster. She nodded her head slowly.
“The vote is unanimous,” Tanya told them as she sat back to her chair, Aaron standing once more.
“I need one more Knight to ride with me and Grandmaster Klein to the West. Which one of you would like to take the offer?”
Sir Kedieg’s hand lifted high above his head. “I will go. How many of my men will you need?”
“I will need your best of the best, Sir Kedieg,” Aaron told him. Aaron then turned and looked to the others around the table. “Thank you and you all are dismissed.”
With that, the doors to the Conference Hall opened and all the Knights started to flood out. All that was, but Sir Kedieg, Vice Master Aaron, Grandmaster Klein, and Guild Master Lady Tanya.
They were well into their ride to the West. The troops of a little more than a hundred and fifty men and women spread out along the winding road, some on horseback some on foot. Aaron and Klein rode toward the front of the troops keeping watch as two scouts rode further ahead watching for rogue Guilds and bandits that might try to ambush or attack them on their journey. They kept the Grandmaster of the West toward the center of them so to keep him safe.
As they rode along, Klein admired the landscape around them, a bright smile crossing his lips as they cleared a wooded area and came upon a large lake to their North. A group of Dragons was flying overhead a few more just walking along the lake's shore. He looked to Aaron shaking his head.
“I was starting to think the landscape around here reminded me of a few floors in SAO, but then I see the Dragons and start rethinking myself,” Klein told him turning back to the scenery as he listened to Aaron chuckle softly and return conversation.
“I know what you’re saying. When I first started playing Dragon Lance I thought the same thing.”
Klein slowly turned to look at Aaron with a shocked look. “You were part of SAO? You were there?”
“I was not there for the two-year takeover, but I was a Beta tester. The day they released the game I got called into work like twenty minutes before they launched.” Aaron looked out over the lake going back in thought that few years past. “I was pissed. I wanted to be there for the launch, but I figured Hell I could play it after work. Then the broadcast hit the airwaves about the ten thousand that got locked into the game and the thousands that died because the people did not heed the warning of Akihiko Kayaba. I don’t know what pissed me off most at that point. Not being in there with them to help them through or the fact Kayaba did this.” Aaron fell silent shaking his head his eyes drifting to the road before them.
“Be glad you were not there. It was Hell watching all those people go through that. Some of the kids were not even old enough to be there. Away from their parents.” A sadness filled his voice as he spoke about everything. “A lot of them gave up, took up homestead in the towns and let the stronger ones fight for them to get them out. A fight for your life and thousands of others. Literally. It was two years of pure Hell.” Klein himself went deep into thought as he shook his head. He then quickly looked to Aaron. “So did you know Kirito?”
Aaron shook his head. “We were acquaintances. I only knew of him in passing in the game. Nothing more. He was a solo player like me.” Aaron shook his head. “I just feel I could have helped out in there.” Aaron’s hands tightened around the reins. “There was not many of us, but as a Beta tester I could have helped.”
Klein shook his head looking down the road. “It wouldn’t have helped. From what I was told only parts of what you guys went through in the Beta testing was in the new programming. The attacks of the bosses changed as did their weapons. Rooms that you could not transport out of started appearing. A lot of the Beta testers died because of all the misleading facts. They would rush in thinking they had it and ended up losing their lives.” He looked over to Aaron. “And a lot of the players rose against the Beta testers. Kirito stayed quiet about being a Beta tester because of it. He let them believe he was a hacker of some sort.”
“Damn…” Aaron replied softly as his head lowered.
“You were spared for a reason, dude.” Klein smiled and punched him playfully in the arm. “Just think if you would have been in SAO you may not be here now, and you would have never had the chance to meet Tanya and the rest of us. You would not be here today saving the Dragons.”
Aaron chuckled softly. “True. My mom used to tell me I was spared for a reason. God had other plans for me and to take it as a blessing,” his head shook again. “But it just seems so unfair that I was spared and so many others die because of that.” He looked to Klein a weak smile across his lips. “They owe a great deal to the ones that fought and lost their lives to get them out, and Kirito needs a medal for what he did.”
Klein chuckled. “Kirito? Even if they offered him one he would not take it.”
“On the proud side, is he?” Aaron replied as he chuckled. “I guess I wouldn’t take it either. Even though everyone would be set free I would be fighting to get myself out. That’s what I would be thinking anyway. With the weight of thinking I was saving everyone, I would have fucked up and got myself killed.”
Klein laughed. “At least you're honest. And I know I would’ve if I had to bear that thought. Being the savior of myself was hard enough.”
The two laughed together as Aaron looked up to the setting sun. “We need to find a good place to make camp for the night.” Aaron whistled loudly as he looked to the sky.
Klein slipped his pinky finger into his ear and wiggled it around. “Damn! You whistling for someone on the other side of Tarragonia?”
“Un,” Aaron chuckled as he replied pointing upward.
Klein looked up seeing a Dragon dropping in altitude the closer it got to the troop. It swooped down over them, then turned coming quickly back at them. Klein ducked thinking it was coming in again, but closer. Aaron laughed as he looked at Klein, the ground shaking under them as the Dragon landed a few feet away from the horses.
“You got one too?” Klein asked with a pouting expression as he looked to the Dragon. “I want one.”
Aaron laughed. “We can do that.”
“Really!?” Klein perked up.
“Sure.” Aaron led his horse off the road to the side and dismounted, Klein following him. Walking over to Un, Aaron lifted his hand as the Dragon lowered its head. “We need a place to make camp, Un. Fly ahead and find a good place?” Un bobbed his head, his wings extending once more as he took off into flight again.
“Can you ride them?” Klein asked as he watched Un disappear into the horizon.
“You can, but it is not recommended. A Dragon likes to show off in flight. You could easily fall off and if you have not Mastered your Dragon skill you're as good as toast.”
Klein chuckled as the thought of that crossed his mind. “Understandable.”
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.