Toll for the bridge

The fresh air is exactly what OneStar needed. Peri, Wil, and Val is making the journey quite entertaining. The three constantly play jokes on one another. Wil replaces Val’s water with animal urine, Peri added a spice so hot that Wil and Val went running to the river to cool their mouths, and Val placed spikey thistle under Peri’s saddle that sends his horse into a fit from the sharpness of the thistle. To say that she didn’t laugh at every joke would be a lie.

“Oi, look thers’s a bridge up ahead!” Val shouts out while looking through his telescope. “Don’t see no body there tho”

“Maybe this will be easier then we though.” Peri says with his pipe in his mouth. Peri has a bit of a smoking problem, but is always present when you need him.

“Or more difficult you nitwit. Do you really think it’s going to be easy? It’s for a raid invitation half brain” Wil says as he laughs.

OneStar can’t help to smile at that. “We will observe the surroundings, and double check for traps before we cross. We will be prepared.” She says.

Val rides ahead to have a closer look. There’s a man unconscience on the ground near some shrubs. With speed, Val rides back to the group. “There’s aman there knowcked out on his arse.” He says almost breathlessly.

All four ride fast to the scene of the man. OneStar is the first off the horse. She lays her head on the mans chest. Small shallow breaths can be heard.

“He’s alive! Come brothers, lets sit him up and try to wake him.” OneStar goes into her magic bag and pulls out her healing potion. She takes the top off and pours a little into his mouth. This potion only works if the person is alive. The man starts to cough wildly taking in deep breaths.

“Where am I? What’s going on?” He asks in confusion, but is staring OneStar in her eyes.

“Oh, there he his. You sir, were almost a goner!” Peri says oh so elegantly.

“Nice one Peri, why not scare him to death, when he just evaded it.” Wil says shaking his head. “Don’t mind the knuckle head sir. What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I umm, I was about to cross the bridge with my horse…I don’t remember anything after that. ” The man says rubbing his head.

OneStar is staring at the man, but most differently the the others, this she is sure of. He has the bluest eyes with a crown of gold right in the center. His hair is oddly cut, at least its different from what she is used to seeing, but is pure black. While she had her head on his chest to see if he was breathing, she could smell the natural woods on him with a hint of ginger mixed in it. Not to mention how solid he felt when she touched his chest. So now she is just staring at him in another world, not paying any attention to what is being said around her. Well, that is until Val called her name, waving his hands in front of her face to get her attention.

” Yoo hoo! Sister? ” Val says

OneStar shakes her head to erase all the thoughts from her mind. “What is your name?” she asks ignoring Val.

“I think OneStar has love on the brain? yeah?” Peri asks laughing. OneStar punches Peri in the chest which sends him backwards to the ground.

“Oi!, Touchy are we?” Peri says through a grimance of pain. Val and Wil snikers, but quiets when OneStar looks at them.

“Your name?” OneStar asks gently

“My name is Rafe. I am from the guild, Knights of War.”

“I know that guild.” Val says. “It’s one of the outlaying guilds of the Kings Capitol. The city of Dreagon.” Val looks Rafe in the eyes and says. “If you are who you say you are, then you bare a marking of the guild. Show me.”

Rafe stand up, takes his shirts off and turns around. A grand mark covers his back, in the shape a knight holding his shield in front himself, and the words, Knight of War in the middle of the shield.

“What he says is true. In fact he is of ranking there to have obtained such a marking.” Val says inpressed

“Well, ain’t this all honky dory. Nice to meet ya Rafe, glad we could save your life, but off we go now.” Peri says as he mounts his horse.

Wil follows suit and mounts his horse. ” We do need to get going, ya know to finish this quest.”

“Wait.” OneStar says. ” We cannot cross. If we try without paying the toll, we will end up like Rafe here, almost dead.”

“This is true, but there isn’t anyone here to pay a toll to.” Val says. Then he has a thought. ” What if its a riddle?”

“Leave it to smarty pants to find a puzzle. Good job brother.” Peri praises Val.

OneStar is noticably staring at Rafe with his shirt off.

“Hey ah, sis. You ok there?” Val asks uncertain if he will get punched.

blood rushes to her cheeks, she can feel them burning. OneStar looks away. “Yes, just thinking of what the quest says.” OneStar pulls out a folded pieces of paper. “The quest says, each must pay a toll to pass. Quest 2 will be given to the last.”

“What do we give?” Wil asks “I’m alright in giving Peri.” He says with a laugh.

“Oh you would huh? How about I get off this horse and show ya a think or two?

‘Calm yourself brother, they wouldn’t keep ya. You stink terribly.” Wil says with a loud laughter. Peri dismounts and starts after Wil. the two chase around until Peri catches up to Wil and puts him on his back. “Give me away now will ya.” he says.

“Twas a joke ya big oaf! Get off!” Wil yells

“We pay what we deem of value individually. The last one of out group to cross will receive quest 2 directions.”OneStar instructs. “I will go first.”

“Wait! What of me? Let me go first in case you are wrong. I owe you my life.” Rafe says with sincerity.

“That’s not necessary. Thnak you though.” OneStar digs into her side pocket and pull out an old piece of fabric. It’s a piece of her mothers shirt. It was in her hand as they dragged her away from her mothers dead body. Then she walks to the bridge.”This is my most valued posession.” OneStar lays it at the beginning of the bridge. For a moment nothing happens, but then the piece of fabric disappears. Leading her horse behind her, OneStar places one foot in front of the other slowly.

“Becareful sister!” Val calls out

“Shhh, don’t make a noise. We dunno how testy this bridge is” Peri says.

“The bridge cannot hear us nitwit” Wil says, and gets smacked in the back of the head almost instantly.

Finally OneStar is across the bridge, and the piece of cloth in front of her. Picking it up give her relief to still have it. “Come on one at a time. Give what you believe is your most valued posession on you.”

One by one, each gave what they preceived as their most valued posession, and passed safetly. Rafe stayed on the other side, to allow them to finish their journey first. Also, he wanted to stare at OneStar abit longer. He had never seen a more beautiful creature in his entire life. She’s a warrior, fearless, and smart.

Val is the last one over. “Where’s the quest 2?”

“Did we read it wrong? Are ya sure the last one in our group gets it? Will asks

“Maybe it thinks that Rafe is the last of our group?” Peri says. Everyone looks at him with a cocked head.

“Look at you saying smart things.” Wil says laughing.

“Good show brother.” Val turns to Rafe across the bridge. “Rafe, the bridge thinks you are in our group, pay your toll mate!” He yells out to Rafe.

Rafe lays his toll, a feather from a prized peacock his family owned. Once he crossed, a column to the right opens and a scroll is there for him to take. Rafe doesn’t open it, instead he tries to hand it to OneStar. She declines. “You may be the only one who can open it. I don’t want to chance anything. Please open it, and read.”

Rafe opens it. “Quest 2: You must battle in the fight arena in the city of Laderine. All in the group must battle individually. Highest of all scores will receive a one of a kind prize.” Rafe looks up from reading.

“Looks like your one of us til the raid.” OneStar says with an even voice. Inside she is warm with feelings, knowing that they will be traveling together. This is new, these feelings of another. Also a weakness. She will try her best to keep this hidden, she has to.

“Let’s get a move on, we can set up camp after a few miles behind us. We all know Wil is a scardy cat with the dark. Peri laughs and trots off.

“Not funny! Peri! Wait up you oaf!” Wil mounts his horse chases after Peri. Val follows persuit, leaving Rafe and OneStar alone.

“Come, let’s get moving.” OneStar starts to mount, but Rafe touches her shoulder.

“Thank you, I didn’t get to say it earlier.” Rafe looks down. ” You’re beauty is almost blinding, I desire to be next to you very much, to touch your hand, or to touch your face. I’m not sure it is wise to travel with your company, I don’t want to be distracted or to distract.” You can hear Rafe not really meaning he didn’t want to come, only that he shouldn’t.

“Too bad. No matter what your feelings are, the quest accepted us as a group. You will come, fight to your best ability, get your invitation, and part ways. It is as simple as that.” Even as she said it, she didn’t believe it. It was words that he needed to hear though. Rafe walks past her to mount his horse. She takes in one last breath of him, and closes her eyes for just a moment.

Onward to complete the second quest for the invitation to the raid, Onestar, Peri, Wil, Val, and Rafe, ride towards the great city of Laderine, where it is told that the Queen’s sister adequately named, Pukka, rules with the fairest hand with in the seven cities of the Capitol. We shall see.

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Raid

It’s been three weeks since the death of Joha and Sleen. The whole village can still feel the sting of the loss. Every move seem like a routine in the village instead of life. OneStar cannot do this anymore. She must find a quest to do, more then just taming horses or getting scared kittens down from a high tree. Walking with a purpse towards the quest office, OneStar can feel the looks of disapproval from the villagers. The looks of, its too soon, and that their mourning is to last longer.

Sitting behind a desk, dressed in the most up to date fashion of a female, his golden hair, with small white flowers woven into, spill over his shoulders, Brasia stands up the moment he sees OneStar.

“My dear OneStar! How are you my sweet dew drop?Please come sit. I am here for you.” Brasia hurries over to OneStar, ushering her to a seat.

“I need a quest Brasia, and not anything local. I need to get back to work. Find more clues about Bladar, and to stop hurting over my lost brothers of WA.” OneStar almost sounds a little desperate.

Brasia flicks out his fan, and starts to fan himself while he thinks.

“I knew you couldn’t sit and wallow in sorrow for too long sweet pea. I have a raid in a week you can attend, you just have to do 2 quests to get the invitation.” Brasia brings his face closer to OneStar, his fan covering partially, then says in a lower voice with excitement, “There’s an artifact up for grabs. Its said to contain the power of fire. Fire that surrounds your body, but not burn you!” Brasia says with a giggle, then goes back to fanning himself. “Oh, and the fire burns those around you. Thats the most delicious part of it. The artifact is called Vehemence’s Breath. The short story version of how we mere mortals received this items is, from the the God Perfurin. The God gave it to the winner of the Maze, that is held in the Gods gardens.” Brasia sits back fanning himself happily, satisfied in the telling of the story.

“Brasia, you always did know how to over sell the quests and rewards.” OneStar smiles. ” You had me at the part where you had a raid for me. I gladly accept, and will go prepare.”

“Oh, but wait! Don’t you wanna know what the two quests are?” Brasia asks, with his hands on his hip.

“I’m sure they are dangerous, and riddled with surprises.” OneStar says as she starts for the door then looks back at Brasia with a big smile. “I’m sure you will give me full details in my brief, that I will pick up on the way out.”

“You are my favorite here OneStar, don’t go getting yourself killed or worse! Captured!” Brasia calls after OneStar even after the door closes behind her.

Looking around the courtyard of the small village, all are still in black, slowly pushing through, as they mourn. OnseStar feels a twinge of guilt. Should she be mourning just as hard? The sound of horses coming through the front gate. It’s Kinjen, Chason, and the twins Aramu, and Daramu. Looks as if they just came from hunting. Kinjen doen’t smile like she use to. She is doing the same as the rest of the villagers, routine mouring. OneStar opens the manor door and Kinjen calls out to her.

“OneStar!” Kinjen shouts.

Turning around, she answers. “Yes Kinjen?”

“We have a job.” Kinjen says as she dismounts from the horse.

“Erm, I accepted a quest already. I leave as soon as I pack.” OneStar replies.

“Very well then, see you when you return.” Kinjen leads her horse to the stables, without looking back.

Doesn’t take OneStar long to pack. Taking a deep breath, she walks out of her room and towards the stairs, but is taken by surprise by the view. Every brother, Kinjen, and Kingly are standing around or near the stairs.

“We never let one of our own go off to a raid without a proper send off. nor do we allow one of our own to go off to a raid by themselves.” Kingly sounds more stern then usual.

OneStar is speechless. How did they know? What happens now?

“I will not assign your raiding group, instead you may choose your group, and going a lone is not an option. We lost enough recently, I do not intend to lose more so soon.” Kingly although is sounding stern, you can hear him wanting to choke up a bit.

“My apologies Kingly, I meant no offense. Of course I will do as you wish.” OneStar bows slightly with her right hand on her chest. A sign of respect within the guild.

“I know you don’t yet understand the full dedication we have to our guild. E’ery last guild member is family, which means that if you died, we would mourn equally as hard, as losing my two sons.” Kingly walks out of the room, so not to lose his composure in front of the others. All eyes are on her, waiting to see which three OneStar will call out. Not Kinjen though. She went to console Kingly.

“Peri, Wil, and Val, pack up we leave in 10 minutes.” Nothing else was to be said. OneStar decides to give Kinjen space, so no goodbyes for her this time, and it feels strange. Before mounting on her horse, Brasia taps her on the shoulder from behind.

“Here you go sweet pea. The first quest, you get the second one as part of your reward from the first quest. It’s like a fail safe for the invite. To ensure all participants has done both quests.” Brasia says fanning himself.

“Thank you Brasia. I will see once i return with the artifact.” OneStar smiles in sincerity. Brasia hugs OneStar.

“I’m gonna worry until I see your golden blonde hair trotting through these gates.” Brasia says half dramatically sobbing.

OneStar mounts her horse, Peri, Wil, and Val right behind her ready for what ever is ahead of them.

“Ya!” OneStar urges the horse forward into a run. Just leaving through the gates, OneStar feels a weight lifting off her. To the side, by the forest, Kinjen is on her horse riding paralle to them. Not to catch up but to desperately to say goodbye. Kinjen waves and screams to OneStar. ” I will see you soon sister!” OneStar smiles with relief and waves, then rides harder. As if that was the last piece that she need to make her feel better about the coming events.

Quest 1: Pay the toll to cross the bridge.

This should be easy.

The Invite

It’s been months since OneStar had put a letter opener in Jin Su’s throat, and found the Winged Assassins, who are now her family. She declined their family name until she finds her brother.

Now on a regualr basis OneStar, Kinjen, and a couple of the brothers, Joha and Sleen, take on mission after mission, earning more then their share. The four sit around a fire, waiting for the right time to move in on their target.

Joha is eating, as usual and Sleen is dozed off.

“How do they do that?” OneStar asks

“Do what exactly?” Kinjen says

“Eat right before a mission, or sleep? Anything could go wrong.” OneStar is stretching, preparing herself.

“Eh, they’re used to it, and they’ll never let us down.” Kinjen tosses a bit of water at Sleen’s face.

“OI! I was nappin!” He says with annoyance.

Joha, OneStar, and Kinjen laugh and start to prepare as well.

“Ok then, you all know what to do, yes?” Kinjen asks.

“Duh, i ain’t stupid Kindey.” Joha says sarcastically

“Eh, don’t call her that Joha, she’ll not cook for a month this time! She promised!” Sleen almost begs.

“Oh no worries Sleen, I will cook for you and OneStar.” Kinjen says and she roughly sheaths her dagger.

“Oi, i didn’t mean it sis, honest. just a bit of fun.” Joha’s attempt on an apology.

OneStar just smiles. If only Bladar were here. They could enjoy this camaraderie. No more need for bad thoughts, and to be able to think of the future as if were attainable.

Kinjen pats OneStar on her shoulder. “Come, back to us sister. You look to be far away again.” she says.

“Was just wishing Bladar were here. It would complete me.” OneStar replies.

“We’ll find him one way or another sister.” Joha says solemnly.

OneStar nods is acknowledgment.

“Now lets move. Tonight is the only night we will be able to get to the children easily.” Kinjen announces.

The four move to their spots. Sleen and OneStar are in the trees watching below, Kinjen and Joha are on opposite sides of the road ready to leap into action once the carriage with the children come by.

The carriage approaches the mark, with only four guards. That seems a bit odd to OneStar and Sleen, but before they could react or signal to Kinjen and Joha, the carriage stops. BOOM! The carriage explodes. the explosion causes Sleen and OneStar to fall out of the tree. OneStar’s vision is off, she can only hear faints of noises. She shakes her head in an attempt to clear things up. Looking around for Sleen and the others, OneStar stumbles to Sleen’s body. Her vision is still wonky but she pulls him away from the area.

“Kinjen! Joha! where are you?” Kinjen! Joha!” OneStar screaming for them. Someone grabs OneStar from behind. OneStar’s mind set changes instantly. She headbutts the person who grabbed her, with a speed matched by none, she grabs her dagger and stabs another guard five times before he realizes he’s gonna die. Guards from the camp surround her. OneStar doesn’t flinch, no shaking or nerves, just standing there surrounded, with only a dagger as her weapon, and of course her dragon’s breath.

It’s all she’s gonna need.

Jumping into action, OneStar jumps up and wraps her legs around the closest guard’s neck, twisting it til she hears the snap, stabs another in the neck, and summons her magic that she learned in her training with the Winged Assassins. Just as she was about to give every guard in reach the dragons breath death blow, a man with a pistol to Kinjen’s head calls out.

“Oh mighty OneStar, do you think we might have a chat? Hm?” The man dressed in a high ranking officer’s uniform says.

“OneStar, go leave us. tell my father. He will avenge us!” Kinjen says

The the man holding the gun to her head, moves it to her mouth. OneStar almost panics, but catches herself.

“Yeah, I think thats enough from you little one.” He says approaching OneStar.

“I only wish to give you an invitation. You see you’re a hard one to reach. Aren’t ya? Oh dear where are my manners. I’m Captain Adrew Sternugh the 4th. My Master is the one who hired you to retrieve two imaginary children, just to get to you.” Captain Sternugh says as he digs in his inside coat pocket, with his other hand. It’s an envelope with Onestar’s name in gold on it.

“You think that I will just bend and accept such an invitation, after you do this? With a gun in my sister’s mouth? and the possibility of a brother’s death? I think you’re master sent those he could replace,because he knows I will kill you.” OneStar grasp her dragon’s breath, almost ready to just dot it.

“Oh, no lass you got it wrong. This” He urges the gun a little into Kinjen’s mouth. “This isn’t your family now is it? Not really. Not your blood family. Oh but I do know who is. Bladar is his name, isn’t it?”

OneStar’s eyes open wide. She goes into combat mode. Already chanting her protection spell for Kinjen in a whisper.

“All we ask is that you take the invitation, and you will see no more of us, well until you come to the arena of course. Here, let me ease your pain. Your brother will be there.” Captain Sternugh extends his arm further to give OneStar her invitation. OneStar takes it in haste. Then without thinking about it, she grabs Kinjen’s sword out of her sheath and just starts chopping at every guard she could reach, even the Captain’s. She sliced his arm clean off. Kinjen falls to the ground, tears fill her eyes. Most of the guards were smart to run aways and to carry their Captain screaming away.

” Sleen! Oh my brother!” Kinjen cries. OneStar stabs the ground with the sword, and rushes over to Kinjen.

“We must go. Where is Joha?” OneStar asks in fear for his life.

“He’s gone! A flank of wood from the carriage went into his chest! They killed my brothers!” Kinjen cries heavy and loud. So loud that surely the Gods hear her sadness. OneStar is sadden by their deaths, but she’s never cried. She was trained as a child that crying gets you no where, but to a beating.

“Sister, lets take them home.” OneStar gently wraps her brothers in their blankets from their bed rolls, and placed both of them on a litter she made fromt he branches. The sadness surrounding them is so heavy. Kinjen looks as if she doesn’t even wants to breathe another breath of air. What is there to say? OneStar has seen so much death, its amost a normal thing, but this. These deaths squeezes on her heart. It’s a feeling similiar to the day Jin Su snatched her brother from her arms. OneStar sent a message of their situation and what has happened, so that Kingly could make the necessary arrangements.

Approaching the gates of Sagel, all the brothers are lined up waiting for us, and Kingly right in the center. White and purple flowers line the trail in front of them, going towards the gate. Theres not a dry eye in the crowd. Passing through the gates, the villagers assemble in the center of the village.

OneStar stops the horse, and dismounts. She can feel all eyes on her, and understands that they may hate her for not doing more to save her brothers. Any punishment that comes to her, she will accept it. For she blames herself as well.

Kingly limps over to Kinjen’s horse and carries her away into the manor. All could tell that she was barely holding on. Then the brothers, now twenty four of them, approach her. OneStar closes her eyes and breaths.

“Sister, we’re so glad you are ok.” Roban picks her up and hugs her tightly. “I’m pleased you are unharmed too sister.” Echric. OneStar truly doesn’t know how to feel. The love pouring out of these brothers, is clouding her mind. Then it happens. A tear, falls from her eye. Then another. This is too much. OneStar runs out the gates in to the woods, and doesn’t stop running until her body fails her in emotion.

“Why? Why did you take them? Goddess Erignu, the blessed please bring them back! We are not whole! We are broken. Please God Perfurin, the most powerful of all, hear my cries!” OneStar is on her knees, crying into her hands. The wind picks up just a bit, then much more. Soon theres a circle of wind around her and a figure coming out from a light.

“We have heard your cries great warrior, but this is their time to leave this world to go to the next.” the figure says as she comes into focus for OneStar to see. “I am the Blessed one, and I come to you at your hour of need, to console you. You have never called for any of the Gods before, we almost thought we didn’t believe we existed.” The Goddess says with a smile, and bends to her knees to be eye level with OneStar.

“Why come now? Have you not given me enough pain to live through without your presence? What of the nights that I starved, when I was cold, or when my brother, my only family was taken from me? Or more importantly, where were you when my mother and father died?” OneStar, tries to stand, but a power from the Goddess is keeping her down.

“We were there the entire time. There are somethings you cannot know about yet, you aren’t ready. Please know your brothers will never feel pain or hunger, sadness or be alone. Your parents are alive. You have many things to accomplish before you are ready to know the full truth. Accept the invitation, you were given.” the Goddess stands up and reaches out to help OneStar up.

“I will accept it, and I will kill them all.” OneStar says with fire in her words.

“Once you get there and see who has invited you , you may change your course. i will bless you for this journey, so that you will not fall to any sword.” The Goddess starts to say her blessing, and OneStar stops her.

“I didn’t need it before now, so don’t waste your breath on me. If I die, it’s just my time right?” OneStar walks away, heading back towards the village. She has two funerals to attend, and no matter what anyone says, she knows this was because of her.

Sagel

Trotting through the gates of an unknown place, makes OneStar feel uneasy. Kinjen just hops off the horse comfortably and smiles up at OneStar.

“Well, come on then. We’re here no sense in clamming up now.” Kinjen says as she runs across the way to huge manor that is sorely in need of repairs. You can see the patch work on the roof in an attempt to keep the rain out, the hinges of the windows are barely hanging, and the paint looks as if it had seen better days. Even with all the seen fault of this manor, it was still a home. Something OneStar and Bladar had never experienced.

The door of th manor opens wide, and out comes a tall, burly, one legged man, civered in tattoos of various designs, very excited to see his daughter. You can see the mechanical parts of his artificial leg. The cogs moving as he did.

“Where have you been? You should have been back ages ago. I almost sent Nint after you.” He bends down and give Kinjen a great big hug.

“Well, I ran in to a bit of trouble with my horse.” Kinjen starts, then turns to OneStar. ” She helped me da. I think you should hear her story.”

The burly man, that could almost be called a giant waves his hand towardthe manor inviting OneStar.

“Come, come. There’s stew on and fresh bread, and I got alittle jug cider tucked away,”

Just as happy as she could be, Kinjen enters the manor and her father behind her. OneStar feels nervous, something she isn’t used to. It’s almost like fear. She doesn’t do well with fear. Entering the manor OneStar sees all the wonderous things that a home posesses. Specific areas to eat, entertain, wash, and sleep. A long way from stone floors soaked in out own urine, serve food on that very floor, and sleep as well.

“Well come sit with us. We won’t bite. The boys are all out in the fields, so we will have time to talk. Oh, my name is Kingly, and as you probably figured out, I am her father.

OneStar takes a seat next to Kinjen, and looks at her with a little worry. Kinjen mouths, ” It’s ok.” and smiles.

“So ya gonna tell me what happen? Eh? Or will I be waiting till winters come and gone?

Kinjen tells the story, OneStar sits still observing everything around her without moving her head. Kingly stands, and walks to the kitchen area. A few minutes later walks ever so carefully with a tray of food and drink.

“OneStar it appears I owe you my gratitude for saving her life.” Kingly then starts to fumble around in his pocket for something. He pulls it out, it’s a card. Not an ordinary children’s game card, but of the magical type. The wings on it are gold and have the intials “WA”

This must mean a great deal to them, because Kinjen’s eyes light up.

“Oh da! Really?” She says with a smile and hugs her father.

OneStar is confused about what this mean, but still accepts the card. It feels as if it is metal yet it bends, leaving no crease.

“I am the guild master here in this village. Winged Angels are what we are called. That my dear is your invitation to join us. Will you join us?”

Speechless, no one had ever wanted her for anything. Only her brother ever wanted her.

“Oh, da. there is something else. Jin Su is dead.” Kinjen says.

“Dead? No I don’t believe it. It’s gossip I heard yesterday.” Kingly responded.

“It’s true I killed her myself. I stuck a letter opener in her throat and watched her bleed out. I left Silverling to protect and care for the others.” OneStar says calmly.

Kingly looks at the both of them. OneStar digs through her small sack, and pulls out the letter opener.

Kingly stands up, and almost looks angry.

“Why in the blazing hell you didn’t start out with that story first?” Kingly busts out a hearty laugh and hussels the kitchen bell. He rang it 3 times.

“Oh, the boys we be celebrating this news tonight! And they deserve to! You!” Kingly ponts to OneStar. “Are our official hero.”

With in minutes the house starts to fill up with all the boys from the fields. They are all full of questions of why they were called so early from their duties.

“Da, I still gotta harvest the the wheat!” one says in outrage.

“Oi I gotta usher the herd into the barns, they are done grazing!” another shouts.

“QUIET!” Kingly orders, and he gets almost instantly.

“I have the greatest news to bare to you. JIN SU IS DEAD!”

low murmurs turn in to howls of happiness and they all dance around rejoicing in this new.

Mean while, OneStar is still sitting, sipping on her cider, biting on her stew, observing. Is this how families act? she wondered.

It wasn’t until one of the boys tripped and fell on OneStar did they even notice her. While still laying her lap, the boy looks up at her, ” Who are you?” they rises up and stares at her. All of them join in with him.

“I am OneStar.” Is all she said.

“Don’t be modest lass. This lass killed Jin Su. She brought proof that only she could have gotten, by killing her. This was given to her by the High Lord of Ruemen. It was her only protection against anyone.”

A few pipe up, ” well I’m gonna marry her! She’s a hero!” one says “Not if I get to her first!” another says. The boys soon start to push each other out of the way to try to get to OneStar.

Before any of them can reach her Kinjen stands in front of her.

“You will act like you have a bit of sense and go wash up. This is her second day out of Hell’s Mansion and he need to breathe. So back off, or I will wallop you so hard you’ll wish you hadn’t crossed me!

“Geesh sis, ok, ok. We’ll back off.” the brother in front of her says.

Kingly laughs so hard at the boys. “I cannot believe she’s got you all whipped!” and continues to laugh. Kinjen give her father a stern look, and he stops.

Kinjen sits next to OneStar. “Why don’t I show you to your room?”

Taken back from what Kijen just said alittle, OneStar asks, “My room?”

“Yes silly can’t haveyou shacking up with all the boys, the house would never rest. They would constantly try to win your heart.” Kinjen comicly places her hands over her heart.

OneStar lets out a short laugh. “Thank you Kinjen. You have all been so kind to me.”

“Psh. Don’t thank me yet. Your training starts in a week. Da will want to get a better assessment of ya. The guild does odd jobs such as finding people who don’t want to be found, rescuing those who are taken, you know the ordinary stuff. It’s how we are able eat, clothe everyone and buy the fighters from the arena.” Kinjen replies.

“I will do what ever is needed of me. Just know I will still search for my brother. I will not leave abandoned. Even if I find that he is in a grave, I will not abandon finding him.” OneStar says as they are walking up the stairs. They stop in front of a room.

“We would never allow you to stop looking. Now you have more eyes and ears to find him. Now this is you here. Sleep well OneStar.” Kinjen hugs her and walks away. Closing the door behind her, OneStar looks around. It feels as if its too much at once. Laying on the bed felt strange to OneStar, so she makes a pallet on the floor. OneStar can hear the various conversations from downstairs. The joy that they have for each others company.

OneStar closes her eyes. For the first time ever she feels protected.

Kinjen

OneStar’s eyes open to the rays of sunlight pouring through the bushes that she made a bed in last night. Her first night alone, and totally on her own, with only a small sack of food, and the letter opener she took out of Jin Su’s throat. It was the only weapon she had. Hell’s Mansion didn’t allow the guards to have real weapons. Only wooden batons and a shocker sticks. OneStar remembers the many times she was shocked with the shocker stick, for give her portion of food away to the smaller children. They were being starved until they stopped crying for their parents or families.

Sitting up and stretching, OneStar decides to get going. Once she was in Sagel, she would need to look for work, so that she can afford her search of her brother. Bladar.

“I’m coming little brother.” OneStar says as she looks forward down her path to Sagel.

Before starting her walk to Sagel, OneStar thought it best if she washed the blood off her in the river. She doesn’t want to cause anyone to notice her. Being unnoticed is one of her talents.

The river is bubbling by at a steady pace. OneStar just stares at it. Little schools of fish can be seen swimming, a frog croaks and jumps onto the side. This makes OneStar smile at one corner of her mouth, until a scream distracts her from her moment of peace.

Across the way, just a little ways away from the river, a horse is running in circles with what appears to be a rider who has fallen off. OneStar wades across the shallow river .

“Hooo hooo. Hey there.” OneStar shouts as she tries to calm the horse.

“Please! HELP!” Is all the rider to make out before it hits a rock and it knocks the rider out.

OneStar jumps into action. Sprinting beside the horse she grabs the saddle and hoists herself up, and starts to pull on the reigns.

“Whoa there. Whoa.” OneStar says gently to the horse then prceeds to pat it.

“You’ve been a naughty horse haven’t ya.” OneStar adds as she hops down to check on the rider.

The rider is female, and not much older then OneStar. Lifting the girl up in a seating position against a tree nearby, OneStar tries to wake her. With no luck, and seeing she is alive and will be ok, it was time to move on. Onestar starts to stand up and notices a tattoo on the young girls neck. An angel’s wing with “Winged Assasians” in it. This must be one of the guild members.

OneStar decides to take her and the horse to their home, which very luckily the same direction she was heading. The ride was smooth and refreshing for OneStar. Normally she would have to tame and tend to the horses at Hell’s Mansion. Never got to ride for pleasure. The air is pure, not hint of burned flesh from the brandings, or the poor children who were tortured the many different ways. OneStar shakes the memory fro her mind. The girl is coming around. groaning.

The girl opens her eyes wide with fear and goes into action. Making OneStar and her tumble off the horse.

Deciding to not attack back, and to show the girl that she was mearly helping her, OneStar only uses defensive moves.

“Who are you? And why are you kidnapping me and stealing my horse? The girl yells from frustration of not being able to land a hit.

“I am OneStar. I am not stealing your horse or kidnapping you. What is the last thing you remember?”

“Is this some trick where you get me off my guard and..” the girl stops in mid sentence.

“You saved me!” Her face is beet red from embarrassment. “Oh Gods I’m so stu..I’m so sorr.” She can’t even finish her statements.

“Please it is alright. My apologies for scarring you. I will be on my way.” OneStar nods sincerely and begins to walk away.

“Wait! Stop! I’m Kinjen! Wait please allow me to make amends and thank you! Kinjen shouts as she chases after OneStar.

OneStar stops. “You owe me nothing Kinjen. You were in trouble and I helped you.” She says and smiles. Politely nodding towards Kinjen once again.

“I can cook you some food!” Kinjen says happily.

Like it was on que, OneStar’s stomach growls. apples aren’t very filling and she ate the last piece of cheese and bread last night. She turns to Kinjen. “That is an offer I’m sure none can refuse. Thank you.”

Delighted by this Kinjen jumps in excitement. ” You won’t regret it and my father will want to meet you after you saved his only daughter from certain death!” Kinjen covers her mouth in realization that she could have died.

“Please lead the way.” OneStar says with a smile, breaking Kinjen’s thoughts of her almost death.

“Oh! Of course lets get mouse, we can ride her to the village.” Kinjen says as walks toward the horse eating grass waiting on her.

“You named your hourse mouse?” OneStar couldn’t help but chuckle a little. This is a new feeling for OneStar, and she likes it alot.

Kinjen and OneStar ride to the village. The entire way there, Kinjen just went on and on about her family, friends, and the village. OneStar was just so amazed that they could be in similar age but have such opposite back rounds. She listens to Kinjen’s stories of her love of food, cooking, her horse, and such happiness.

“Oh, my we are almost there OneStar, and I did nothing but babble on about myself. Tell about you!”

This catches OneStar off guard. She doesn’t have happy tale to say. This siuation is the happiest she had ever been.

“Kinjen, my story isn’t like yours. I wouldn’t want to tarnish your precious memories with my darkened life stories. The short version is, My brother, Bladar, and I are orphans. We were hauled off to Hell’s Mansion. My brother is missing and I’m searching for him.”

There’s a silence, until OneStar hears Kinjen sniffle.

“See, I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry.” OneStar sasys with her head down feeling now angry with herself for polluting this innocent girl’s thoughts.

“You got it all wrong OneStar. You didn’t upset me. I told you I was the only daughter, but i have many brothers whom my father bought at arena fights, so that they could have a chance in life. A family. So you see, i cry because I know they pain you went through, the suffering. No one should ever have to endure. With Jin Su in charge there the cycle will never end.”

” I killed Jin Su 2 days past. She is no more. The older children are tending to the younger.”

“Are serious? You killed Jin Su? Yes, yes father will want to speak to you sooner rather then later.” Kinjen urges Mouse to go faster with haste.

Sagel’s gate can be seen, and so can the chance of real information for OneStar.

Beginnings

Basic needs are hard to fulfill these days. Clean water, fresh food instead of stale bread and molded fruit, and a safe place to close your eyes even for just a moment. The world is unforgiving, yet OneStar wonders through it searching for a place to call home.

Orphaned at the age of 5, OneStar and her younger brother Bladar, were dropped off at the local orphanage delightfully called, Hell’s Mansion, to be raised as prized fighters. It’s where all children go when they have no mother, father, or anyone to claim them. In Hell’s Mansion, girls were separate from the boys, except once a week when there were fights. Bladar screamed and cried as they pulled him from OneStar’s grip. A memory that is never forgotten. Bladar, years later at the age of 15 became top fighter, moving up the ranks, while OneStar kept her head down, staying unnoticed.

Such memories of her brother, is what keeps OneStar moving, surviving. Winning battles in different lands, just to keep searching for him. So many whispers of where he may be, is all she has to go on. Bladar went to a Champion fight, lost and never returned to Hell’s Mansion. Weeks OneStar waited before she acted out. See the thing is, the guards never thought of OneStar as a threat. She had never won any of the sparring fights or the weekly fights. Unfortunately for the guards and the Headmaster, Jun Su, OneStar found her footing, when she was told that they had sold him for losing.

If you were inside OneStar’s mind at that moment of receiving that news, you could hear the snap. Killing all the guards that stood in her way of getting to Jun Su for information, OneStar is like a freshly sharpened blade. Cutting through all. Jun Su, hiding in her office, holding a pistol towards the door. OneStar bursts through the door.

” OneStar, it’s the rules! If they lose the champion’s fight, they are to be sold! IT’S THE RULES!” Jun Su pleads with sobs, and a shaking hand holding the pistol.

“Who did you sell him to?” Is all OneStar asked.

A noticable crowd starts to form outside the office, watching intently the unfolding of this devious woman, who would starve those who lacked in anyway.

“Please, OneStar I do not know that information. After he lost they took him to the back, and I sold him to the curator of the championships. Please do not kill me, who will watch after the children?”

OneStar turns the crowded hallway. “Any of care for this woman? Care for anyone here?” A girl, who had to be younger than OneStar steps forward. “I do not care for this woman.” She turns to the children behind her, then back to face OneStar. “But, I do care for them. I will ensure their well being, with help im sure from others here.” OneSar gives her a solemn nod in acceptance, then faces Jun Su. “You will give me the information on how to get to the Champion’s arena.”

Feeling alittle brave, Jun Su stands up. ” You think you have won? I will shoot you and all of these brats and refill my ranks with more orphaned children. You all are replacable and noone cares about any of you.” In the back round you can hear a few of the children sniffling back tears, or full out crying because they believe the poison coming out of her mouth. Without a second thought, OneStar picks up a letter opener off the desk and throws it directly in Jun Su’s throat. The only sound is her dropping to the floor, the clanking of the gun falling with her and Jun Su’s last words as a whisper. “You will never find him” OneStar looks back at the girl who has taken responsibility of the children. “Take care of them. Don’t make me kill you the same way.” With a smile the girl replies. “I expect nothing different. Come children, lets clean up an bit and raid the pantry.” Everyone left office but OneStar. “Oh, and by the way, I’m Silverling, and if you find yourself in Sagel Arena, look for the guild WA. It was my mother’s guild. Mention the name Jun Su and her death. Maybe they could be of help to you. They tried to take this place down before, but were ambushed by the King’s guard. Their traitor was Jun Su.”

OneStar takes in her information, and half validates it by seeing JunSu tattoo on her her arm, which reads out Winged Assasians. ” Thank you Silverling.”

OneStar now on her way to Sagel, to find out more information about her brother, the champion’s arena, and how to bring down the whole fighting ring of children. No child deserves to be put through the things she has suffered. She can see a town over the hill. It’s not the village she is looking for, but will no doubt have food, a bed, and information.

“I will find you brother.” OneStar vows to herself, yet somehow to her brother as well. Unknowing if he is still alive. Continuing on to the village, OneStar begins her adventure in finding her brother, and making the champion’s arena fall. Forever.