The duo looked as they returned to their camp, looking around to see if Leblanc was around, Melody making her way to the chiefs tent. After what happened with Sazh, she felt such a fierce feeling inside, something compelled her to find the answers she needed, even if it meant she had to go behind her leaders back. Sazh noticed and smirked a little seeing how he planted the thought into his friends head, following her. The two made note that both Alucard and Leblanc were nowhere to be seen as they entered the tent and Melody immediately went for the chest she kept next to her bed. Oddly, both thought, the lock had been removed already as if somebody was already there and Melody forced the lid up and looked inside. Cluttered around the box was many different keepsakes and mementos Leblanc had kept around. Melody rummaged through it carefully, seeing all sorts of old bounty notes. Melody grabbed the stack and carefully started looking through each one, noticing they were alphabetic so find Arizaki wouldn’t be to hard. “I wonder, why was the chest already unlocked. Nobody with a key was here.” Sazh said and waited for his ally.
“It’s opened because someone stole it.” Melody told him, holding up the stack and showing that the Arizaki file was missing. “Someone came here and took the file before we got here, but how?” She said as she gently set the stuff back and closed the case, a shiver running down her spine suddenly as if something suddenly felt off. She stood up and looked around a bit as she realized everything around her was frozen in place and everyone was gone. She gently left the tent realizing she was in some surreal state as a hooded figure appeared before her.
“Melody Kazin, a member of Leblanc’s rebellion, and child of the fallen Noble Luna. What you seek, the missing bounty note, has since been stolen. There is someone amongst your ranks you cannot trust, they are the one who stole it. What you seek will lead the world to the path of ruin and you are one of the only ones who can prevent it.” He approached her and walked through her, as if he was a spirit, a note falling before her, which she gently picked up. “Only you can steer the course of whats to come for your group, do not let yourself fall to the lies of the traitor. You mustn’t trust them.” He said “Go to Elderitch, the boy in that image is who you must aid, he will lead us away from ruin!”
Melody shakily looked it over and opened it, letters in blood red coloring spelt out the words “Lead us from Ruin.” accompanied by an image of Inferno, similar to the note Maxwell received long before. She was shaken and stepped back a bit dropping the note, looking around to ask the man questions, noticing he was now gone. Her head felt heavy and she collapsed on the ground, everything going black as she fell unconscious, the next thing she felt was a hand shaking her, her eyes shooting open in a cold sweat as she sat up and panicked, looking around to see Sazh, Leblanc and Alucard looking at her with concern. “Mel! Are you okay?” Sazh asked as he gently hugged her, trying to stop her shaking. “You suddenly froze up and next thing I knew you walked out here and without warning collapsed.”
“What?” she asked silently as she looked around, gently feeling her pocket which had a scrap of paper, but she didn’t dare pull it out in fear for what the letter held, knowing it might be the same as her dream. “Where did that hooded man go?” She asked, looking around as she slowly calmed down, the three looking at her with skepticism.
“There was no hooded figure Melody, are you sure you’re okay?” Leblanc asked as she gently helped her stand, looking her in the eyes, Leblanc showing a gentle loving side for her friend, gently placing a hand on her shoulder. “Melody, what happened?” She asked before Melody pulled back and quickly stepped away.
“I… I’m sorry, I need to be alone.” She said in a soft shaken voice and quickly left, the trio all looking at each other in concern before Alucard headed after her, Sazh and Leblanc staying back to rally the rest of the troops, maybe now was a good time to get going.
Melody made a run for the river and panted as she finally stopped and slowly fell to her knees and breathing softly, looking down at the water as she gently splashed her face with the cold water, calming her nerves after what happened. She gently dried her hands, rubbing them gently down her pant leg and thinking, before steeling her resolve and reaching into her pocket, pulling out the scrap of paper, noticing it resembled the one she witnessed in that surreal state. Upon opening it, she noticed that it wasn’t as she expected, it was the same message and image, but the lettering was now a more calm and stylized look, and it was a normal black color. “What could this mean, I have no idea who that figure could even be, and why did it happen to me? This image, it is prince Inferno is it not? Why would someone like me need to come to him. Ruin? Is our world in danger?”
Watching her from the bushed, Alucard glanced as best he could to see what the note she held contained. He couldn’t really tell was the words said but the image was enough for him to feel a weird anger. “He’s still alive? Huh, to think Maxwell would show such compassion as to take that brat in, even after killing the others, including Drazernon. I wonder, does Inferno possess something special?” He spoke silently to himself and just scoffed softly as he stood and turned away silently, walking off “Such a brat has no reason to be a concern, we will just kill him along with the rest of that pathetic family.” He said and simply made his way back to camp, since Melody was fine he had no reason to bother keeping up his worried act anymore.
Lea smiled as he and Kenta walked around the upper district a bit, both getting some quizzical looks from some nobles and lords, but none saying to much and mostly carrying on. Due to his unique samurai attire, Lea stood out in such a place, but the lords couldn’t really tell if he was anything special or if he was just another common visitor. Nonetheless, shopkeepers kept up their friendly demeanors for them and didn’t hesitate to try and be friendly even if they had a feeling the lower class couldn’t afford some of what they sold. Lea was looking at a beautifully crafted necklace and wondered to himself, still not sure what gift would be suitable to present to a renowned king such as Drax. “Hmm, maybe this is to over the top for him. Pardon me shopkeep, but I must ask. What do you recommend one buys when going to an audience with the king?”
This caught the man off guard as he looked and Lea, before smiling a bit and even giving off a hearty chuckle, the man was a bit bigger then the pair of wolves, and was clearly a fighter as he had the muscle build to prove such, it was a wonder how such a man ran a shop instead of fight amongst the knights. “An audience with the king you say? Well that isn’t common for visitors but I trust your word on that stranger. If you are in the market for a gift, well I may just have the perfect gift. You see, King Drax doesn’t show it often but he adores the sweets that the nearby shops sell, just don’t say you heard it from me.” He laughed, the two watching and appreciating his attitude. “But if you aren’t looking for sweets, I also have something someone only as sophisticated as him would appreciate. I have meant to take it to him myself to pay respects but have never the time to do so. I would gladly sell it to you, but it is a hefty price.”
“Oh? Well will this cover it?” He asked as he pulled out a sack of gold coins he carried, unknown to Lea that a gold coin in Elderitch was much more expensive that other kingdoms, he pulled out a couple handfuls and handed it to the man, watching his expression of shock. “Is something the matter?” He asked Kenta seeing the same shocked look.
“You really ain’t from here are you boy?” He laughed after a moment of silence, handing a good chunk back to Lea. “You see kid, we are one of the kingdoms that has a surplus of silver and such, so that was usually the price, a couple hundred silver coins, but gold coins are rare here as we haven’t established a good connection with the kingdoms that use gold. What you just gave me is the equivalent of a fortune or two, and I could never rip you off that much. Hell, just two is still a bit much. You’ve just tried making me rich and I don’t want to make that tax collectors suspicious.” He said, watching Lea blush in embarrassment from his lack of understanding. “I like you kid, the name is Alex, if you ever feel like learning more about our nice little kingdom here, I will gladly teach you. And here, take the gift.” He said pulling out a nicely wrapped up ceremonial sword, it was painted gold and silver and crafted carefully, Lea noting that one swing would break this thing like a twig.
“Why thank you for the lesson sir. I am from a hidden village so my knowledge of the outside world is very limited, my master never really taught me the value of such things as it was the opposite for us, we have gold to spare but silver was a sure sign of title and importance. I do have a lot to learn about your kingdom as well as how these things work, despite my age. My name is Lea Arizaki by the way.” He said, taking the sword from alex and carefully strapping it to his back to holding without breaking it.
“Good to meet you Lea, now you kids be careful, lately the scholars have been more active, and we don’t want some young people getting hurt. So when you get to the castle just watch your surroundings.” He said, both Lea and Kenta giving confused looks as he went back to work before they both walked off, neither really wanting to touch on such a subject as it was kind of nerve wrecking for both of them.
The two made their way for the castle, as they did, Thanatos was walking by and nearly bumped into them, thankfully quick enough to catch himself. Kenta yipped and jumped as he thought it almost happened twice in the same day and looked over seeing the muscular orange dragon. Thanatos blinked a couple times and looked at Lea “Huh, never seen you here before.” He said and examined him. “Interesting, you are Oliver’s apprentice aren't you? I remember when I was last there you were still a bit younger.” he noted out of nowhere.
“Hmm, I remember you, you came to my village a couple times asking master about some random things like rituals and history of the kingdoms. One day you left and have yet to return, and it makes me wonder what you are up to. You best not be causing problems, master may be going off to his death, but I won't hesitate to cut you down in his place.” Lea said, but was surprised to see a somber look on Thanatos’s face.
“Oliver is off to his death, you say?” He sighed and shook his head. “My condolences, Oliver was a friend and he always told me one day he would face ruin at its doorstep. He was always vague about his visions even to his friend. I hope our paths cross once more in the future.” Thanatos simply said, gently patting Lea on the shoulder before walking off, Lea confused by the sudden action.
“Friends with my master? He never mentioned that much to me. Why would Master hide such an important detail about him?” Lea said allowed as he watched Thanatos head for the city gates, Kenta looking away a bit, unsure of what to say as he felt awkward about the whole thing, he had seen Thanatos many times wandering the streets but has never had a proper conversation with him.
Lea shook his head and put back on a smile as he walked towards the castle, not having time to be sad or worried, he had a royal audience to attend. As the duo got to the gate, they saw a beautiful white lion woman discussing something with the guards, she was wearing a nice simple blue and purple dress that didn’t really show much and was very modest, she was surprisingly taller than the average male, but not by much. “Thank you once again, I know my husband doesn’t express it often, but we do value what you have done for us. Raigh has always been a very distant man.”
“No worries, Lord Raigh has always been a good member of his majesty’s court, so there has been no reason to be wounded by his personality. I understand why he is like that anyways, after everything he has seen.” They talked like normal people despite the woman clearly being someone of status, and she did not mind, it was quite relieving to witness such a thing.
“Sorry to interrupt, I just have a letter here, I was requested to gain audience with his majesty from my master.” Lea said as the woman looked and smiled gently, seeing Kenta and waving, she was always nice to those in the lower districts, Kenta gently waving back shyly as he was always awkward around the royal family. The guard accepted Lea’s letter and read it, and without any questions quickly raised the gate. Lea thanked him and returned his letter to the bag he carried, walking in with Kenta, who was thankfully let in since Lea was clearly with him, The woman said her goodbye’s to the guard and followed them in.
“So, you are a visitor? Would you like me to lead you to the castle?” The beautiful lion asked them, Lea and Kenta but somewhat stunned by how she looked, but managed to nod. “My name is Marianne, Mary for short. I am one of his majesty’s court mages.” She introduced herself as she started walking with them to the castle, the modestly dressed noblewoman showing more kindness than that of most of the kingdom.
“I am Lea Arizaki, and this silent wolf is Kenta Sirios, I was sent here from my village to meet the king. You are really nice, my master said most nobles can be quite cold, so I really appreciate how you are treating us.” Lea smiled as Kenta nodded with agreement as he had always heard the same from his parents.
“Most nobles can be, but I choose to not be like that, as a member of his majesty’s court I have resigned myself to being the one who shows the lesser fortunate that we really do care, even if some people opt to believe we are not that caring.” Marianne said as she lead them up the steps of the castle, walking them in as the knights stood at attention.
“It is weird watching the knights do that, I know it is because of Lady Marianne, but just the fact I see it as I pass feels weird.” Kenta spoke softly to Lea who just smiled at him and nodded as he kind of felt the same way. The trio found their way through the foyer and Marianne lead them to the throne room, silently opening the door and the group stepped in to see the king sitting there with a doberman standing before him.
“I understand your concern Raigh, but we cannot just go and stomp out a group that just feels suspicious, you must show me proof. I do hear your words and am taking it to heart but I refuse to act without proof because as king it is my duty to lead these people and gain their trust, killing them without reason would break that trust.” Drax said, the doberman clearly frustrated as he clenched his fist and bowed before making his leave, Marianne sighing at that. Raigh was her husband and so she knew he was very bullheaded and would always act on his own thoughts and rarely listened to reason. “Ah, Marianne, a pleasure to see you as all, and I see you brought young Kenta along. And who is that?”
Kenta looked in shock and bowed quickly as he looked up nervously, shocked his name was known to the king. “You… know me your majesty?” He asked softly as Drax smiled and gently walked down from his throne and had Kenta stand, gently lifting his chin with one of his big scaled hands, the wolf nervous as a shaky gulp was heard as Drax chuckled gently.
“Of course I do Kenta. I take my work seriously, and part of being king is knowing my people. I would one day like to get to know you better as a citizen of my kingdom.” He said gently as he let the wolf go, he had a very fatherly presence to him, and it was clear why so many people loved and respected him, as well as why all of his sons and daughters seemed so happy around him, he wasn’t like Drazernon, he actually cared. Drax then went to Lea and examined him, looking at Marianne. “Why don’t you go and show Kenta around some, don’t take him to any of the private chambers but do leave us be.” He ordered as Marianne and Kenta left.
“My name is Lea Arizaki, I am a student of Master Oliver of the Hidden Village of Norille. I was sent here under his instruction to come and serve you and your family.” He handed the king the note, bowing as he continued. “My master told me to inform you of his vision of Ruin and you would know what that meant.” Lea said, Drax listening and nodding as he got serious hearing vision of Ruin. He lead Lea off elsewhere to talk.
“Get proof? What more proof does that idiot need than that they have assassinated people. Generals, Warlords, leaders, what else do you need you damned fool. No wonder your brother was able to form such a ritual without you knowing. You are a fool Drax.” Raigh spoke to himself as he made his way out of Elderitch and started scanning the area for the rogue camp he was talking about, hoping to stomp out Leblanc’s rebellion without issue, not caring if it broke orders. As he walked, Alucard walked up from behind some trees, his demonic form showing once more as he looked at Raigh.
“Feeling a bit mistreated, untrusted? Your king really doesn’t trust you does he Raigh? It is a shame really, I can sense such great powers from you.” Alucard smirked, watching the doberman as he drew his sword, aiming it at Alucard.
“Who are you?!” Raigh growled as he aimed at him, ready to swing. He wasn’t a part of the forces that went to attack Drazernon so he never met Alucard, so the demon was using this to his advantage. “How do you know my name you bastard? And what ARE you!?” He demanded, his anger clouding any judgment he had left.
“No need for hostility, I am a friend, you can say.” Alucard smirked, and gently pushed the blade aside, gently glancing into the mans eyes. “You suffer from rage, you want to be trusted and you wish for your king to believe in you. I can make that happen, why not strike a deal?” Alucard asked as Raigh slowly got frustrated, his breathing was staggered as his anger remained.
“What kind of agreement?” He asked, his sword now lowered, a smirk creeping even more noticeable across the demons twisted face.