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Here is chapter five. Sorry this one was published later than usual, I've had some problems. It's hard to get comfortable with a broken rib. But I pushed through it and got this chapter out. I'm not sure it will be that great as I am strung out on painkillers right now, but I did the best I could.
As always, please rate and comment. If you want to know when the next one will be published or you have a question, check the comments section as Mishikail and I usually answer there before posting the next chapter.






Chapter Five:
School Life and Transfer Students



The day after their wedding, Richard and Daiya had woken up past noon. They had gone through a very long and pleasure filled night that was spent entirely in their bed, their bodies writhing together as they sampled what the other had to offer. They ate lunch in bed and it was only when they both decided they needed a bath that they would leave it. It was when they decided to take a walk through the gardens when they were reminded of what day it was and how little time they had to relax. It was King Dycoz who spotted them on their walk and came to talk to them, a small smile on his lips as he tried to convince Daiya and he to stay in Elothia.

'Where is everyone?' Daiya asked when they hadn't seen any of their friends.

'They left last night after the reception,' her father replied and knelt down to look at particularly beautiful flower. 'The academy reopens tomorrow so they all needed to be back.'

'Crap, I totally forgot about school!' Richard exclaimed and stomped his foot into the ground at his idiocy.

'Don't worry, Richard. If we fly there on Loki and Cotaz we can make it before second period begins,' Daiya informed him with a sweet smile, but King Dycoz scowled.

'There's no need for you to go back to the academy,' he said harshly. 'You are above the level that they can teach you there, Daiya. And the whole reason for you to attend a school in a different country was so you could find a suitable husband, which you've done. You should stay here and train with your Master instead!'

'Father-'

'I don't want to hear any more about this! There is no reason for you to go back to that school!'

'What about Richard?' Daiya growled menacingly. 'Is he just going to sit around the palace while I am at my lessons with the Fire Master? His mother, both aunts, and all his friends are at that school so you don't have any right to keep him here!'

'We have many institutions where he can train, if he wishes!' the King countered and Richard suddenly felt like a dog toy, being pulled apart from two separate directions. 'He can continue to work in the Dragons Den as well! If he wants to go and be with his family then he can, but you are going to stay-'

'Oh, I will not stay here!' Daiya roared and both Richard and King Dycoz took a step back from her. 'Richard is only a first year at the academy and it is not right for him to just leave! And I, as his wife, will go where ever he is! I still have half a year I want to complete! Besides, you can't use the war as a reason to keep me home anymore. Are we not currently training the military for combat? Did you not agree to go into the war if Queen Reiea allowed Richard and I to be married? You have no argument, father!'

With that Daiya turned on her heel and marched from the garden, leaving a stunned Richard and King Dycoz behind. He had seen her act aggressive a few times before, but she had gone to a whole other level and he was extremely surprised. It seemed he had a lot to learn when it came to his new wife and he was sure it would take him more than one lifetime to discover every little facet of her.

Richard nodded to the King and made to leave, but he felt a large and strong hand on his shoulder stopping him from going. 'It's best to let her have some space, Richard,' the King told him with a small shake of his head.

'Are you sure? She looked pretty upset.'

'She'll calm down. While most small children cry or beg when they don't get their way, Daiya would grow fierce and find some argument or explanation that you couldn't refute. I've never been able to stop her from doing what she wants,' the King explained and patted Richard on the shoulder.

'So you're going to let her go then?'

'Of course not! But I don't have any other choice. Her mind is set and nothing with change it. I expect you two will be leaving in the next hour or two.' The King looked out over the gardens wistfully and heaved a heavy sigh before turning back to Richard, an unreadable look in his eyes. 'You should probably check on your dragons before it gets too late; wouldn't want them flying that vast distance on an empty stomach. Besides, I had the leatherworkers cook up a little surprise for Loki over the last few days and I think you'll really like it.'

'Your Majesty...'

'Do well in your studies, son. And take care of my daughter, I fear dark times are ahead of us. Now, if you'll excuse me, there is something I must do right away.'

King Dycoz patted Richard on the shoulder once more and then walked away, heading into the cool palace and out of the blazing sun. Richard stood in the garden for a few more minutes then decided to take the Kings advice and go check on Loki and Daiya's dragon. Loki was a pain to deal with on good days, but when he was hungry he was almost intolerable and Richard didn't want to have to deal with that flying nine hundred feet above the ground.

The Dragon's Den was buzzing with activity and trainers, tamers, and soldiers ran back and forth in a frenzy as the dragons roared, screeched, crowed, and caused general havoc. They had gone back to their normal selves and no one could explain the strange turn around; Richard had a pretty good idea though. After his fight with May the hatchlings had started to do better and he figured May had left the area with her massive red dragon. It had probably been that beasts presence that had been freaking all the other dragons out.

Loki's new nest was located near the top of the volcano and was quite a walk through long and confusing tunnels. Apparently the trainers had moved him up there after the big brute smashed through his wall and fled, with Richard screaming on his back as he tried to hold on. There was more space in the new nest and Loki seemed to be fairly happy with it, or that's what Richard thought anyways. Most times he looked out a palace window he would see him sitting on the lawn enjoying the sun instead of being with the others of his kind. It was honestly a little scary looking out a window when you first wake up and seeing a massive black dragon staring at you with a hungry glint in his eyes. The only reason Loki had gone to the Dragon's Den today was probably because Richard hadn't gotten up early to feed him.

When Richard finally made it to his friends nest he was surprised to see the great lug snoozing in a corner, his massive and powerful tail curled around him like a baby. What surprised him even more was the saddle sitting in the corner closest to the door. It was pristine white with black stitching and could easily fit four people on it comfortably. At the very front, where Richard would sit, it looked like it had been reinforced and gave off a slight hum from some powerful spell that had been cast on it. It was probably a protection spell and it reminded him that he was now technically in the Elothian Military. It would take getting called Dragoon Lord a few hundred times for it to fully sink in, even during war time.

Richard quickly fed Loki and groomed him by scrubbing his massive pitch black scales with water and a massive brush. With the amount of food Richard had given him, Loki didn't seem to worry so much about the sudden bath and even seemed to enjoy it a little. He must have been able to sense that they were leaving soon because he kept glancing at the new saddle in the corner with an almost excited look in his big yellow eyes. If there was one thing Loki loved, it was flying. Richard only hoped that didn't change after the long flight they had ahead of them.

After bathing him and putting on the saddle, which took over an hour because he had no idea what he was doing, he patted Loki on the side and promised to be back soon. He made the long trek back to the palace and headed to the private wing that had been set up for them, planning to pack quickly and check in on Daiya. When he walked through the door of the bedroom they were currently using he found three large bags already packed and sitting by the entrance. Daiya was standing in front of the mirror and adjusting the straps on her leather Dragoon armor that hugged her body like a glove. Richard couldn't bring himself to break the enchanting vision by saying anything for a few minutes.

'How long are you just going to stand there?' Daiya asked softly a few minutes later without even turning to look at him. He could see her reflection in the mirror smiling at him and he blushed a little.

'S... Sorry,' he replied lamely and stepped further into the room.

'Did my father keep you behind to try and convince you to get me to stay here?' she asked and Richard noticed the cold sting to her words. It could have either been directed at him or her farther, or both.

'Actually, I was getting Loki fed and ready. I think someone else was tending to Cotaz so I thought I would come and pack; it looks like you've already done that though.'

'My, it's like we share the same mind,' Daiya laughed lightly and finally turned to face him, a playful smile on her face. Her cheeks were a little flushed and her pupils dilated, so it was easy to tell that she was excited. He had seen that kind of face many times the previous night. Without a brain riddled with passion and lust anymore, Richard found himself feeling embarrassed under her gaze now.

'If... uh... if we're going to go we should do it pretty soon,' he stammered and tried to force a smile on his face. 'We should probably say goodbye to your family before we do though.'

'Our family, you mean,' she corrected and now her face took on a deeper shade of pink. 'We'll do it just as we're leaving; that way my father doesn't have much of a chance to try and stop us.'

Daiya crossed the room to him and wrapped her slender yet strong arms around his shoulders. She leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on his lips, the heat of her skin sinking deep down into Richards mind. She looked him in the eyes and he knew exactly what she was thinking; it was beginning to claw at his emotions as well. She was a totally different person in these moments and Richard had a hard time believing she was still the same person he had first met.

'Are you still not satisfied after last night?' he asked teasingly and kept himself from kissing her deeply.

'Don't get the wrong idea, I am thoroughly satisfied. I just want to keep that feeling alive. Is that such a bad thing?'

'No, not really,' he mused and she kissed him on the side of the neck lightly, 'but if we don't leave soon we'll never make it to the school before classes start. It does suck that we didn't get to have a proper honeymoon.'

'Honeymoon?' Daiya asked curiously and took a half step back so she could look at him better.

'You guys don't have those here? On Earth, newlywed couples typically go on a honeymoon right after the wedding. It's kind of like a get away to exotic places where the couple can just be together for a little while, without having to worry about their lives or their obligations,' he explained and Daiya smiled slightly at him.

'That sounds like fun,' she giggled and wrapped her arms tighter around him once more. 'Maybe we should take one of these honeymoons before going to the academy.'

'After the speech you gave the King earlier? I'm not sure that would be the best idea.'

'Ugh, I guess you're right. Shall we go then?' she asked and Richard nodded. Before releasing her grip on him she pressed her lips to his and her tongue danced over them in a long and passionate kiss. She finally pulled herself away from him with a sad sigh and they left the room with their luggage.

When they got to the back courtyard they found that Loki was already sitting there waiting for Richard, and Daiya performed a spell created for the Dragoons to call her dragon to them. There was a startling difference in size between Loki and Cotaz. The only reason Richard was noticing it now was because this was the first time he had seen them standing side by side like this. Loki was a good four feet taller than Cotaz and their wings spans reflected that as well. While Loki was built like a fortress, Cotaz was slimmer and looked to be built purely for maneuverability.

They tied their luggage on the back of Loki's saddle and then climbed onto their mounts backs, grabbing the reins and preparing to leave. Richard didn't have much experience with flying with a full saddle and reins, but Loki was attentive and could make up for whatever flaws Richard had as a rider. A moment before they were about leave the palace doors opened and the King, the Queen, Nadia, and Saphrin quickly came out and flagged them down.

'I hope this isn't what it looks like,' Queen Rina said with a small smile and she placed her hand on Cotaz's snout gently, 'because it looks like you two were going to leave without saying goodbye.'

'S... sorry, mother,' Daiya answered in a soft voice and couldn't meet the beautiful Queen's eyes. 'We are in a hurry though.'

'No need to explain. If you stayed here any longer your father would find some other reason for you to stay. Isn't that right, Dycoz?' she asked and looked at her husband in an annoyed manner. The King shifted under the harsh gaze and mumbled something Richard couldn't make out.

'Can I go too?' Saphrin asked and her eyes were wide with excitement at the possibility of following her older sister to another county.

'I don't think so,' the King growled and the little girls face fell, 'I want to keep at least one of my daughters at home!'

'Wait... where is Nadia going?' Daiya asked and her eyes narrowed in suspicion. Cotaz shook his large head from side to side as if he had already pieced together what wasn't being said.

'I'm going to be attending the Majou Academy for Magic starting tomorrow,' the sour and angry looking girl said in a monotone voice; she obviously wasn't excited about it and Richard figured it was the Kings decision and not hers.

'What is the meaning of this, father? Are you seriously sending Nadia there to babysit me?'

'Not at all!' the King retorted but the Queen held her hand up in front of his face to stop him from saying anything further.

'You speak so highly of the academy and you seem to enjoy being there that I thought Nadia could use that experience. She's always cooped up here in the palace that she could use some experience out in the world.'

'The headmaster has already been notified of the situation.'

'Give me a minute to grab my bags,' Nadia groaned loudly and turned to leave.

'You'll have to find your own way there,' Daiya warned her younger sister and there was a hint of anger in her words.

'She can ride with you on Cotaz,' King Dycoz offered but his willful daughter shook her head at the thought.

'Richard is still learning to ride Loki with a full saddle and reins, so I need to be able to help him out quickly if the need arises. If I jump off the back of Cotaz it would leave Nadia there to fend for herself on someone who won't listen to her commands. It would be far too dangerous. So Richard and I will leave now and you can try and catch up.'

Without waiting for a response, Daiya flicked her reins hard and Cotaz leapt into the air and began to fly away. Richard knew she was just making up excuses so she didn't have to deal with riding with her sister; there was no real danger with Richard flying on Loki anymore. After that first time when he had no control over his friends actions, Loki had come to treat Richard like a brother and the only problems they had were when it come to bathing him.

'Um, thank you for everything, Your Highnesses,' Richard said weakly and smiled at them as Nadia stormed away. 'I'll make sure we come back for visit as soon as possible.'

'You are very welcome, Richard,' Queen Rina smiled and waved to him. 'Take care of Daiya. She relies on you more than you know.'

Richard nodded and then bowed his head towards the sulking King before flicking his reins gently on the back of Loki's neck. The massive black dragon let forth a triumphant roar and leapt high into the air before beating his gigantic wings and speeding off after Daiya. She had left the city limits by the time he caught up to her and it was easy to see that she was not a happy camper right now. Richard couldn't really blame her; he wasn't exactly happy that Nadia was going to be coming to their school either. She still seemed to hate Richard and no matter what he tried to make her warm up to him it had no effect.

'You going to be okay?' he called out loudly over the rush of wind in their ears.

'I'll be fine. Let's fly as fast as we can so we're not late!'

Daiya urged Cotaz to fly faster and she shot away from him like a shooting star, a small yellow dot in the distance. Richard simply patted Loki on the head and he beat his wings faster until they caught up once more. For most of the first day of their journey neither of them spoke, and the atmosphere felt a little tense. Mountains, forests, plains, and lakes passed under them and before night had even fallen the snow that Richard had left behind a week ago was prevalent once more, covering the land as far as they eye could see like a thick blanket. The winds were so cold that Richard had to go into his bag and grab himself his winter cloak just so he didn't freeze. He wanted to ask Daiya if she wanted hers as well but she seemed to be doing fine on her own. She didn't so much as shiver.

As night fell on them both dragons began to pant and they landed near a small lake where they could take a short rest and get some much needed water. Richard set out some slabs of meat for them to eat and then went under the massive tree that Daiya had set up small fire beneath. She handed him a small cup of hot tea and they settled down for a break of their own, cuddled up underneath a heavy blanket to warm up against the cold night air.

'I'm sorry about earlier,' she said softly after a few minutes. Both Loki and Cotaz were currently tearing at their slabs of meat with abandon.

'It's alright, there's nothing to apologize for. We'll be back at the academy soon and away from your over protective father,' he replied with a slight smile and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

'How long will that last though?' she asked quietly. 'If the war gets any worse the school may be closed down, and then there will be nothing stopping my father from bringing me back to the palace.'

'We can always stay Aura's mansion,' Richard suggested, 'I'm sure she wouldn't mind. Besides, with Elothia joining the fighting this war should end soon.'

'I'm not so sure about that,' Daiya said softly and there was a long pause before she spoke again. 'Since the beginning of the war there hasn't been a major offensive and both my father and Reiea fear one is coming soon. Even with the Elothian military and the Dragoons, we will be outnumbered going against three nations at once. And no one knows what started this war to begin with. There had been peace between the kingdoms for over eighty years and then out of the blue Alysia gets attacked. There's something strange going on here, that much I am certain of.'

Richard gave the troubled looking woman a long hug under the blanket and pressed his cheek against hers. She sighed and hugged him back before kissing him on the cheek and grabbing his hand. The dragons had finished their meals and Loki was staring at him like he was raring to go, his eyes locked on Richard intently as he growled softly in his throat. Taking the hint, they put the fire out and packed what they had taken out, jumping onto the dragons once more and taking off.

The night was long and cold and Richard was already missing the tropical weather of Elothia. It was hard to believe they were going west instead of north. By the time the sun began to rise, Daiya informed him that they were still a few hours out from the academy and probably wouldn't make it there in time for their first classes. It wasn't that big of a deal for her because she had first period off in the second term, but Richard had no idea what his classes would be. He hadn't been there for three months and never even got to take the exams; so for all he knew he might have to repeat math and history.

A few hours later the two hundred foot tall towers came into view and the dragons seemed to be reenergized at the sight of their destination. Cotaz had been to the academy before and looked eager to get back there, where as Loki just saw something shining in the distance and automatically got interested in what it could be. When Richard and Daiya touched down and dismounted, they retrieved their belongings from the back of Loki and placed them inside the door of the main tower that held the administration offices. Daiya quickly patted Cotaz and the smaller yellowish-green dragon took off into the air while Loki looked towards Richard curiously.

'Go on, follow Cotaz. I'm sure he knows of a good place to stay around here,' Richard told the massive black dragon with a hard pat on the scales. Loki tilted his head and continued to look at Richard as if he didn't understand what was going on. 'Um, what is he doing?'

'Looks like he doesn't want to leave,' Daiya observed with a small grin. 'He's become pretty attached to you.'

'Come on Loki, get going, I have to go see the headmaster about my classes before I miss them all. I know there's snow around here and not too many mountains, but Cotaz seems to do pretty well out there.'

Richard turned to walk into the gleaming white marble tower and Loki whined, digging his massive claws into the ground and tearing up the earth hidden beneath the thick layer of snow. He huffed loudly and Richard could feel something warm on the back of his neck. Turning around he found the massive black dragon staring at him with a sad look in his eyes and trickles of flame in his slightly open mouth.

'You'll be fine! Look, I promise I will come see you every day after class is over. We can fly around for a while. Sound fair?'

Loki continued to look at him before shaking his gigantic body and turning around, almost kicking Richard's legs out from under him with his massive tail. He flapped his wings hard and shot off into the sky, kicking up large swirls of snow and wind that hit both Richard and Daiya in the face. He quickly became a speck in the distance as he chased after the more experienced dragon, Cotaz.

'Are you sure he's an adult?' Richard asked as he and his wife turned back to the door and entered the building. 'He acts a lot like a baby.'

'He's twenty years old. Dragons become full grown at eight years,' Daiya explained. They located the large spiral staircase and made their way up to the top floor where the headmasters office was. 'I will admit that he does seem a little odd. That's probably because you helped save him from a full grown red dragon. Blacks and reds don't get along very well and have to be separated in the Dragons Den; even when they are in the nursery.'

Richard took that into consideration as they reached the landing of the top floor and headed down the curving hallway towards the office. As they neared the door they saw it open and a young woman with short flaming red hair, fair skin, and had a small smattering of pale freckles across her small button nose. As they drew near she looked towards the two late comers and smiled at them as they passed. There was something in that smile that had Richard a little on edge though. He couldn't put his finger on it but there was something there. Like she had been expecting to run into them or something. No words were said however and they knocked on the headmasters door before entering.

Massive book cases covered every single wall of the large office and a large polished wooden desk sat near the far wall on a small raised platform. The headmaster sat at her desk, thick glasses over her ancient eyes and she was more wrinkles than anything else. Richard had heard she had spent almost her entire adult life at this academy and it looked very possible. She was the mousy type of person who always had their nose buried in a book. He had actually seen her with a smudge of ink on her nose on occasion. She looked up as they entered and beckoned them further into the room, motioning for them to sit down in the chairs right in front of her desk.

'I suppose congratulations are in order,' she said but there was no smile on her face, just a hard creased line where her lips should have been. 'And now that we have that out of the way, we can get to the real issue here.'

'Issue?' Richard asked as he found himself a little confused.

'I don't appreciate having the heads of two kingdoms send me word that two of my students have broken the academy rules and gotten married. The fact that I only received word yesterday makes matters even worse.'

'There was an amendment made to the law preventing students from getting married though,' Daiya explained but quickly found herself the subject of the headmasters harsh gaze.

'Yes, I've been made aware of that. The Alysian government is free to make whatever exceptions they want to this schools charter, but I do not like it when it is done behind the schools back! Now I know you two aren't entirely to blame for this, and I should speak with your parents instead. What I do need to discuss with you is what your marriage will change for your time at this school. In the long one thousand and seventy nine years this academy has accepted aspiring mages, there has never once been a marriage between two students.'

'How would it affect our experience here?' Richard asked honestly. He wasn't trying to be a smart ass or anything, just curious as to what the old woman meant.

'First of all, you both have two classes together each day. I expect you will both remember that this is a place of learning and take that seriously. I don't want to hear any complaints about public displays of affection from any of the students or professors. During your classes you two will uphold the moral standards of this institution. Is that understood?'

'Yes,' Richard and Daiya answered together. The headmaster took off her thick glasses and placed them on the top of a book on the desk before regarding them once more.
'Good. Then the next thing would be deciding what to do about your living situation. Now, even though this academy prides itself on the equality between students we encourage, there are some discrepancies among them. You both are royals and have both been allowed to have large private rooms. In Lord Richard's case, an entire floor to himself. However, we've never had a male student and a female student stay in the same room before.'

'If it helps, Daiya and I can live in the city and fly here every morning,' Richard offered but the headmaster shook her head gently and clasped her hands together.

'All students must live in the academy while attending classes. And even if that rule didn't exist, Princess Daiya is still the head of the disciplinary committee and must be on school grounds for that reason alone.'

'Are you planning on making us remain in separate rooms?' Daiya asked quietly. Looking over, Richard found that she was blushing slightly and it was easy to tell what was on her mind.

'I'll admit that that was my original intention, but I have come up with another that should satisfy everyone. Currently Lord Proud is staying on the top floor of the first and second years tower, and Daiya is on the thirteenth floor of the fourth years tower. Since the top few floors of each tower are for males only, and the uppermost being for royal males, I am willing to allow you both to stay together on the top floor of either of those towers; since there is no one currently occupying them. The rules on female students going onto that floor will be lifted as long as they are invited. All you have to do is choose which tower you will both stay in.'

'I don't mind staying in the fourth year-' Richard began but Daiya quickly cut him off.

'It's frowned upon for lower year students to enter the upper year towers, so we'll use Richard's tower. That way his friends and my friends can come over without getting into arguments about knowing their place.'

'That's a good point, older students can be pretty territorial so this won't cause too many problems. There is one more thing we have to touch on, and this is the biggest. While sexual relations are allowed between couples in the privacy of their own rooms, there is still a no pregnancy law. While either of you attend this academy I will not stand a pregnancy. If there is one, you both will be expelled immediately. It shouldn't be too hard to avoid one, just make sure you keep your rune on, Daiya.'

'We understand,' Daiya answered as Richard was blushing too hard to form a coherent sentence. 'Was there anything else?'

'No,' the old woman answered with a wave of her hand. 'Now second period will be starting in a few minutes so you both better head to your classes. And don't be late again.'

Daiya and Richard stood, but when Daiya turned to leave Richard stood his ground and looked down at the woman who was once again opening her massive book and picking her glasses up. She peered over the thick lenses at him and made an annoyed clicking sound in the back of her throat. Richard persisted though.

'What's the situation with my classes?' he asked and she looked at him curiously. 'I missed a lot of the first semester and I didn't get to take the exams. Will I be repeating math and history? Or can I take a makeup exam?'

'Did no one tell you that you passed both those classes? Even without taking the exams and missing so much class work, you still finished with a high enough grade to move forward. I believe you barely passed in history with a fifty two percent grade, and you received an eighty nine percent in math and a strong recommendation from Professor Meetra for private lessons as your knowledge on the subject exceeds what we teach here. Your current academic courses are First Year Languages and Physical Education. You missed PE so you have languages now.'

'Wow,' Richard exclaimed at the information she just rattled on about, 'you can remember that without looking at my file?'

'I have an eidetic memory. Now go before you are late, please.'

Richard and Daiya left the administration tower and headed off to their classes; leaving their luggage behind for an attendant to take to their room. Daiya had math right now and she wasn't looking forward to it. Even though she was one of the top students at the school, she still struggled with the subject apparently. Richard would gladly trade her though; he was sure learning languages he had never even heard about before would be extremely difficult for him to accomplish.

They newlyweds said a quick goodbye and went their separate ways. It felt strange for Richard to be walking through the halls of the first year tower again. Only a few weeks ago he had thought he would never see it ever again. He had to admit that it felt good though. He had never enjoyed school until he came here and he really enjoyed having friends and good teachers. When he arrived at the class room on the eighth floor he was surprised to find that both Karo and Lisbeth were in the same class, and they seemed to be pretty surprised to see him there too. They were sitting near the back of the class and there were two empty seats by Karo, so Richard quickly jumped on the one next to him and put his book bag down heavily as Karo just stared at him.

'What?' Richard asked when his friend still hadn't said anything.

'We... we didn't expect to see you back at school so early,' Lisbeth answered.

'Yeah,' Karo spoke, 'I was sure you would spend the next week locked up in the Elothian palace with Daiya.'

'Karo!' Lisbeth groaned and smacked him on the shoulder. 'You don't say things like that out loud!'

'Why not? It's what everyone was thinking!'

'Well we weren't going to miss school,' Richard said quickly, hoping to cut this off before it started. 'Daiya has her work with the student council and my mother happens to be a prominent professor here. So it's not like we could get time off even if we wanted. Besides, someone has to keep an eye on you, Karo.'

His dirty blonde friend looked at him with a wicked smirk on his face and slapped him on the back lightly. 'Well either way, we are glad to have you back. School wasn't the same without you.' Karo then leaned in and spoke so only Richard could hear him; 'We'll spend some time together on your floor tonight and you can tell me all the good details about your wedding night.'

'Yeah I don't think that's going to happen,' Richard groaned and Lisbeth looked at both men curiously, not sure what Richard was talking about. 'Daiya is moving in with me and I'm sure she would burn you to a crisp if you asked about that in front of her.'

Karo flashed him a dejected look, but the time for talking had thankfully come to an end as the professor, a short middle aged woman with close cut hair walked into the room and raised her hand for silence. She placed her books down on her desk and then stood in front of it, probably mentally going over every face she saw trying to find their names. This was the first time any of them had been in this class before as the new semester had just started that morning.

'Before we begin class, we have two transfer students who have just been enrolled at this academy. Most of you have probably met during the previous semester, so I would like to take a moment to let the new students introduce themselves. Come on in, please.'

Two girls entered through the open door and Richard recognized both of them. Nadia was easy to pick out with her long ears, icy good looks, and tanned skin. The scowl she wore on her face when she noticed him in the class was also hard to miss. Richard had seen the other girl coming out of the headmasters office when he and Daiya had gone to meet with her earlier. She wore a polite smile on her pale face and her long red hair hung over her shoulders in a loose way. They both walked towards the professor and turned to face the class, Nadia being the first to introduce herself.

'I'm Princess Nadia of the Elothian Kingdom, second born of the royal family. I'm transferring to this school at my parents request,' she spoke loudly and then bowed her head slowly. A moment later she nodded to the professor and then took a seat at the very front of the class, as far away from Richard as she could manage.

The redhead from before took a step forward and scanned the class, her eyes moving over each face before moving onto the next. When she got to the top level where Richard and his friends sat, her eyes narrowed and she began to walk towards the stairs. Before she could take one step up, the professor quickly cleared her throat and she froze for a second.

'My name is Lillin DuColt,' she said and then continued on her way. She climbed to the very top level and turned towards Richard, tossing her bag down on the desk right next to him and taking the empty seat there. She didn't so much as look at him when she did this, nor did she say a word to him.

Both Karo and Lisbeth looked at him with raised eyebrows, but all Richard could do was shrug his shoulders at the strange behavior. He didn't have much time to worry about it as the professor began to write on the chalkboard. Richard couldn't read any of the writing but was glad to see that it looked like most of the other students were just as lost as he was. Most of them had blank expressions on their faces and a few even looked like they were furiously trying to figure out if they had come into the right room or not.

'Welcome everyone to First Year Languages. I am Professor Mindel. We'll be starting off with basic Elfish and by the end of the term I expect each of you to be able to hold a small conversation in this language. Can anyone here read what I have written on the board?' the teacher asked and immediately Nadia's hand shot into the air. 'Anyone besides someone who speaks it already?'

'It says 'May all who come be graced' right?' Lillin answered without putting up her hand and everyone looked towards the new girl.

'Correct! Two points to your academic score,' the teacher announced and then continued with her lesson. 'Over the next few weeks you'll be learning some basic phrases and how Elfish phonetics work. Would you all please take out some parchment and your quills and we will begin the class.'

To say that Richard struggled in that class would be a huge understatement; he couldn't follow a single thing that was being said. To make matters worse, he was married to a Dark Elf and his sister in law was in the same class as him. It couldn't get much more humiliating than that. Most of the other students seem to get the hang of what they were being taught after a while, but Richard struggled no matter how long he listened to explanations and examples. Even Karo was doing alright, which was strange because he usually wasn't good with academic courses.

By the time the bell tolled for lunch Richard had a brutal migraine just behind his eyes and a parchment full of information he didn't understand. He had never been good with languages and had flunked Spanish in high school a few years back. He vowed to never take another language course again after that, but it was apparently mandatory here. He ended up leaving the class with his friends in a daze and didn't realize where they were going until they were sitting down inside the first/second year dining hall on the bottom level of the dormitories.

Steaming hot and hearty looking food was being placed in front of all the students who clambered to find seats with their friends and Richard was grateful to get something into his belly. For the last day he had only been eating the dried meat that Daiya had packed for their trip and he needed something substantial in his belly. Before he could lift his spoon to his mouth he was interrupted though. The loud talking and laughing that filled the large room suddenly stopped and Richard looked up to see that everyone was staring at the open door where a tall and beautiful fourth year was entering. Daiya noticed Richard sitting with Karo and Lisbeth and she quickly hurried over, an exasperated look on her usually gorgeous face.

'What's wrong?' Richard asked as she sat down next to him.

'I hate math!' she growled. She must have been pretty hungry herself because she ended up taking a large buttered bun from his tray and started devouring it like she was ravenous.

'If you want I can help you get better at it,' Richard offered and Daiya stopped chewing on the bun to flash him a massive smile. 'Only on one condition though.'

'Hmm, and what would that be?' Karo asked for Daiya and he was wiggling both of his eyebrows in an obscene way. Lisbeth quickly stepped in and smacked him on the side of his head hard, causing his eyes to cross in pain.

'You have to help me learn your language. I couldn't understand anything in class today.'

'Deal!' Daiya yelled and kissed him on the cheek, covering it in bread crumbs that he quickly wiped away.

Daiya was quickly given her own tray of gourmet food and she was even nice enough to replace the bun she had taken from his. People still looked over at their table with curiosity, but most had gone back to their own meals and friends as the room was quickly filled with noise once more, allowing Richard and his friends to eat and socialize in peace. In an even rarer turn of events, Lythia appeared at their table a few moments later and joined them for lunch. She hated being down in the crowded and noisy dining hall during meal times and would always eat up in her room or in the common room on her floor with Lisbeth.

'So is your sister not going to join us?' Lisbeth asked Daiya when she noticed that the other Dark Elf princess avoided the dining hall and went up stairs.

'Doesn't seem like it. Can't say that I'm not glad though.'

'Why?' Lythia asked lazily as she played with her food and watched two students argue at the next table over.

'We're pretty sure her father sent her here,' Richard answered while Daiya had her mouth full with stew. 'When Daiya decided to return to school the King wasn't really happy, so we think he sent Nadia here to keep an eye on her and report back to him, or something like that.'

'With any luck she'll just avoid us at all costs and nothing will change,' Daiya added between heaping spoonfuls.

'Richard doesn't have that luxury,' Karo laughed, 'she's in our language class. Who knows, she might even be in PE with us as well. That other new student is.'

'Other new student?' Daiya asked.

'Yeah, we saw her coming out of the headmasters office earlier,' Richard reminded his wife.

'You mean that red haired girl currently staring at all of us?' she asked and pointed towards the back of the hall. Sure enough there she was. It was easy to pick her out with her very pale skin and vibrant red hair. She was sitting at a table all by herself and staring at them while she ignored the food in front of her. She wasn't even trying to look like she hadn't just been caught.

'That's not creepy at all,' Lythia sighed sarcastically and everyone looked at her. 'What?'

'You sounded a lot like Richard...' Lisbeth pointed out.

'Really? I heard someone say it on T.V.'

'T.V.?'

'It's uh... a...' Richard tried to think of something quick that could cover up what she had just unleashed but his mind was suddenly blank and all he could do was repeat the letter a over and over again.

'It's from a play we happened to see on our way back from getting Richard,' Daiya smoothed out and he heaved a loud sigh of relief. 'The theater company was from Richard's homeland so they speak like he does.'

The explanation seemed to pass among the group pretty easily and the imminent crisis they were facing was effortlessly avoided. However, it also had the effect of bringing everyone off topic of what had started it all off and only Richard was still aware of the strange girl sitting in the corner staring at them. It almost seemed like she wasn't blinking and it was really starting to bother him. That was three times in just the last few hours that she had caught his attention, and none of them had been in good ways. He honestly didn't know what to make of her.

They all ate the rest of their meals and chatted about random things. The hot topic of the day just happened to be about Richard and Daiya living in the same dorm room from now on, and Karo did his best to champion that conversation for as long as he could. Before too long the bell once more tolled and the students in the dining hall filed out to head to their magic classes. This couldn't have come at a better time for Richard and Daiya because they were starting to feel a little awkward with everyone talking about their living arrangements. Technically they would all be living in the same tower.

Richard and Daiya entered Advance Arcane Magic together and took their usual seats at the top of the class. Magical classes seating was purely based on your ranking within the school and as it stood they were allowed to sit next to one another as they were ranked first and second. That could have changed if they had been able to fight their match during the winter tournament, but as it stood after the cancelation in the semi-finals the top four seats were still occupied by the same people. Daiya was ranked first, and then in a tie for second was Richard and Coni, and in the third position was an ever petulant Agnes. In a way Richard was glad the matches had been called off. If he had lost to Daiya and then Agnes had lost to Coni, he would be forced to sit next to her until he could bring his rank up; and the only way to do that when you were one of the top five students was to beat someone right above you.

It felt really good to be back in this class with Aura teaching. His Arcane magic was still lacking and after seeing the powerful display that May had done when she fused both types of her magic into a devastating spell, he was more keen on learning to get better. He knew that she would come back one day, and it would probably be sooner rather than later. He had to get better control of his magic and become stronger so he could protect his family, a family that had just gotten bigger over the weekend. He wouldn't let May or anyone else hurt the ones he cared for. He had to get stronger so he could protect them from whatever wanted to tear them apart.

After Advanced Arcane Magic he and Aura had Advanced Arcane Theory, and even though he didn't understand half of what the old teacher was saying he still did his best to listen and copy everything down. This class was probably the most important class he would take at this school. It went over a wide range of topics, from how focuses work to how Arcane Magic can distort the world around the caster. He knew that if he was ever going to learn how to fuse his arcane and light powers together, the knowledge would come from this class. It was just a matter of getting to it, if it was even in the curriculum.

He actually paid so much attention during those two classes that when the bell rang to signal the thirty minute break before the third and final class of the day, Richard's head was full of new incantations and spell descriptions that he wanted to put into practice right away. The rest of the school had elemental magic for their next course, but since Richard was the only one who could cast Light Magic, he was left with a free period. Usually he would go to the library and study, or head out into the forest to practice a little before dinner, but after the long flight to school and then an almost full day of classes, he was extremely tired. He ended up making it into the first/second year tower and all the way up to the top floor common room before he passed out on a large and comfortable couch.

Richard had no idea how long he had been sleeping, but it didn't feel like it had been enough when he was gently woken up. His head hurt, his eyes were sensitive, his gut was burning, and he was pretty sure his legs wouldn't support his weight if he tried to stand up. When he opened his eyes fully he saw Daiya's tanned face hovering above his, a small smile on her lips as she kissed him on the cheek and nudged him once more for good measure. She had curled up on the couch next to him and there was a blanket around their bodies that hadn't been there when he had passed out earlier.

'W... what time is it?' he groaned and it took almost all of his energy just to get those words out.

'It's almost dinner,' Daiya responded softly and nuzzled into his cheek with her nose. Her body was so warm and soft against his that he could feel the presence of sleep still clinging to his senses as his body and brain wanted to pass out again. He resisted it as hard as he could though.

'How was class?' he asked groggily.

'My elemental class is always boring. When you train with the fire master for as long as I have you tend to learn more than any of the teachers could ever hope to know in a lifetime,' Daiya answered with a sigh and Richard wondered if she missed training for real. She was so far advanced that no one at this school could catch up to her.

'Well at least you have someone who can teach you everything you want to know,' Richard said with envy. He hadn't meant for it to come out like it had; it sounded like he was whining.

'You're special, Richard. If you really are Roku reborn, you will be the strongest mage who has ever lived. Just give it time okay? Besides, you got to take a nap while I had to stay awake in class.'

Richard smiled softly at Daiya's words and let her body heat warm his body up. When he was over tired he became cold, so it was nice to have her and the blanket there warming him up. He was pretty sure he had been shivering in his sleep and that's why she decided to cover him up and climb in next to him. They lay there for a few moments, just enjoying one another's presence and Richard began to think back on how fast everything had progressed for them. Less than a week ago they had never so much as kissed, and now here they were as newlyweds, lying together on a couch on their own private floor. There was also the all-nighter filled with sex, but that had been so crazy and stoked by the emotions of the day that it was hard to believe it had even really happened.

'Did you want to go and climb into bed? If we don't go down to the dining hall a maid will bring our food to the room,' Daiya offered. It sounded perfect to Richard, but there was one major flaw in her plan; they had unexpected guests coming up the stairs as they spoke.

It was technically against the rules for anyone to come to that floor if they weren't invited before hand, but it seemed their friends didn't get that memo as they just appeared at the top of the stairwell while chatting and laughing loudly. It seemed like everyone had come, even Coni and Aura. At first Richard hoped they would notice them lying together on the couch and give them some privacy, but he wasn't that lucky.

'I thought the rule on being together was that you had to do it in the privacy of your room,' Aura said after clearing her throat loudly. She didn't seem too serious about her accusation though, as there was a pleasant and bemused smile on her pretty face.

'I am way too tired for that,' Richard groaned and his cheeks instantly flushed with a rush of blood. Another side effect of him being over tired was that his brain-to-mouth filter didn't work so great anymore. And as a result of that little mishap, Daiya playfully swatted him on the shoulder and got off the couch.

'Good, because we're coming in!' Lythia announced and before Richard or Daiya could so much as argue the point she had already rushed into the large and lavish common room and planted herself down in a very luxurious looking sofa.

'I thought you needed our permission before coming in,' Daiya complained but Aura quickly shook her head.

'Students might, but as a teacher I have no such obligation. Besides, this is a housewarming party for you two!'

Now everyone had entered the room and Richard found himself being pushed down the long couch by Karo and Sabina as they sat down next to him, forcing him to sit up and become uncomfortable. There was no room for Daiya to sit down next to him so she reluctantly took an empty seat next to Coni and stared balefully at everyone. Showing up out of the blue like that when all either of them wanted to do was climb into bed and rest in peace for the rest of the day. That wasn't very nice, but what could they do? Aura was a professor at the school after all, and if she wanted to host a party there at that exact moment, there wasn't much anyone could do about it.

'So did you really fly all the way here on Loki?' Lisbeth asked him from the other side of the room. Her face was hopeful and Richard realized that she had become very attached to Loki when she had been in Elothia. He would have to take her to visit him one day; when he was feeling better of course.

'Yeah, and I'm paying for it now.'

'Yeah and you look horrible too,' Karo pointed out with a wicked grin and Richard had to repress the urge to hit his friend. It was hard though, everyone was getting on his nerves tonight.

A few minutes later a group of maids came up the stairs carrying steaming trays of food. There was enough for everyone present and Richard figured that Aura had told the kitchen about her plan for a party. It was very delicious but he would have much rather been eating it in bed just before he fell asleep for the last time that night. Instead he had to deal with loud noise as everyone talked over everyone and wine was freely passed around for the older students. That wasn't saying much though, the only one too young to drink at the school was Richard, as the legal drinking age was eighteen and he was still seventeen for another six months or so. Even Daiya had a glass or two.

'So, how does it feel to be back, Richard?' Coni asked and surprisingly she sounded sincere in her question.

'It feels pretty good. I honestly didn't think I'd miss this place as much as I have,' he admitted with a small smile; it was all he could manage right now.

'Well, we're all glad that you're back,' Aura smiled happily at him as she put her empty plate back on the silver tray it had come on. 'I wasn't expecting the two of you back so soon.'

'Why does everyone keep saying that?' Daiya asked before Richard could.

'Your father was hoping that being newly married would calm you down a bit and you'd want to stay in Elothia. That's why he was pressing so hard for the law to be lifted on the two of you being married earlier than what is normal.'

'He just doesn't want me anywhere near the war,' Daiya sighed and a few people around the room nodded. 'He doesn't seem to understand that me being here is the best chance at staying out of the fighting. If I was in Elothia I would have my duties as a Dragoon. Same with Richard.'

'Well then I'm glad the two of you came back here. Just remember not to remove your rune; I'm not ready to be a grandmother at my age!'

'Can we not talk about this?' Richard groaned and everyone laughed, making him even more annoyed.

Aura smiled at him mischievously, almost mirroring Karo's look exactly, but she let the subject go. Everyone dissolved into their own discussions and Richard tuned them out as much as possible. He sat on the couch, stretched out as much as he could, and dozed on and off while his friends and family had a good time. Every once in a while he would catch Daiya doing the same and he was glad to see he wasn't the only one who needed to sleep badly. After what felt like an eternity (which was only two hours) the others seemed to get the hint and decided to leave without being asked. Richard and Daiya pulled themselves from their comfortable seats and went to see them off at the top of the stairs. Like most of Richard's day up until then, it was just too good to be true.

When Lisbeth took two steps down she stopped suddenly and stared at something just outside of Richard's view intently. A few seconds later Richard heard hard shoes climbing the stone stairs and a moment later a mane of flaming red hair appeared, quickly followed by a pale yet pretty girl. Lillin stopped a few feet away from Lisbeth and looked at everyone who had gathered on the landing, her eyes immediately picking out Richard and Daiya.

'You're not supposed to be up here,' Aura said to the young girl sternly and took a step towards her. Lillin looked up at the powerful professor and a smile spread across her thin lips.

'I'm glad you're here, Professor Proud,' she said and pulled a piece of parchment from a pocket on in the inside of her school cloak. 'I'll require you to witness this.'

'For what?' Karo asked.

'I'm here to issue a challenge!'

Everyone was quiet for a moment as they soaked in the new girls words. After a few moments all eyes were on Daiya, Richard, and Coni as they tried to figure out who exactly had just been challenged. If she was asking to duel one of them, it would most likely be among the three top ranked students in the school. Coni seemed to have thought the same thing, because she quickly pointed it out.

'Who exactly are you challenging to a duel? You've got three of the strongest students at the academy here, so you need to be more specific.'

'I'm not here to play with the weaklings. I want to challenge the strongest!' Lillin said in a gruff tone and both Richard and Coni sighed. It looked like neither of them wanted to deal with turning her down right now.

'I'm sorry, but I'm not accepting any challenges right now,' Daiya answered in a brisk manner and with a wave of her hand. 'The new school term just started and there's a lot that has happened, so I don't have much time for that sort of thing at the moment.'

Lillin regarded Daiya for a second, her eyebrows knitted together in concentration. Then suddenly she started laughing. Not a small chuckle or even a giggle, but a full on belly heaving laugh that ran off the walls and came back at them over again. There were a few tears of laughter in her eyes and she quickly wiped them away as she tried to control herself, her face red and cheeks stretched.

'Did you really think I was talking about you?' she asked and handed Aura the piece of parchment she had taken out of her pocket. Aura unfolded it and quickly red what was written, her face turning just as pale as Lillin's and a shocked look haunting her vibrant eyes.

'W... what is this?' she asked breathlessly and shoved the parchment back towards the girl who had given it to her. 'Is this some kind of awful joke?'

'Not at all. It's exactly as the agreement says. I hereby challenge Lord Richard Proud to a Daimdi Duel!'

'M... me?' Richard asked in confusion and everyone else mirrored his concern. 'But... didn't you just say you wanted to challenge the strongest? That would be Daiya...'

'It's you!' the girl blasted and Richard took a step away from this sudden change in attitude. 'It even has your name on this form!'

Lillin handed Richard the piece of paper that Aura had just looked over, and sure enough his name was written as one of the participants; Lillin was the other. The document looked pretty official but he had no idea if that was true or not. At this school, when you wanted to duel someone you just went up to them and issued the challenge verbally, or so he thought anyways. The word she had used before was also bugging him and he had no idea what it meant.

'What's... what's a Daimdi Duel?' he asked.

'For someone who grew up in the Eliz Kingdom you sure don't know much about your own customs, do you?' Lillin accused and Richard realized he had just made a vital mistake.

'It's a formal duel between two people that is a custom for establishing the dominant warrior of local villages and is also used to decide the winner of disputes between warring villages,' Aura explained, but it still didn't do much for Richard. 'If I remember correctly, once a dispute has been established between the two parties, the challenge cannot be declined for any reason, and it is usually fought to the death.'

'D... d... death?' Karo stuttered as Richard was unable to think clearly now. 'Those kinds of things aren't allowed that the school though!'

'There is a provision in the school charter that allows for traditional duels between two people from the same country, but only if there is grounds for a dispute. What dispute do you have with my nephew?' Coni asked. If anyone would know about the school rules it would be her, the student council president.

'He and I have many disputes, but I the two most prominent would be that our villages back across the sea are common enemies, and I am also a citizen of Zygog!'

'Zygog? Isn't that nation at war with Alysia?' Richard asked and everyone nodded.

'If that's true, what are you doing at this academy?' Aura asked and her voice had gotten very serious suddenly. 'And do you honestly expect this duel to be approved by the headmaster?'

Lillin snatched the paper out of Richard's hands and held it up to Aura's face, a triumphant smile spreading across her lips. 'The duel has already been accepted by the headmaster! Lord Richard and I will duel tomorrow evening! If he doesn't show up his life will be forfeit according to the rules of the Daimdi Duel!'



For someone who had been dozing on and off for most of the evening, Richard found that he couldn't fall asleep easily. He laid in bed next to a snoozing Daiya and tossed and turned. He had pretty good reason to be nervous. He was being forced into a duel to the death by a new student he had never met before, and there was nothing he could do to get out of it. After Lillin issued her challenge and left, Aura, Daiya, and Coni spent most of the night trying to find a loophole that would spare him this fate; but none of them had been able to come up with anything. Aura promised to keep looking through the rest of the night but he knew it was a long shot.

Daiya had tried to stay awake with him for as long as she could, but she was just too tired and ended up passing out while resting her head on his shoulder. Richard was actually glad for this though; it was bad enough having to think about all the horrible things that could happen the next night and he didn't need Daiya telling him that he had nothing to worry about. Sure, he might be strong, but his skill in using his magic left much to be desired. It also didn't help that his opponent was someone he hadn't seen casting magic before and he had no idea how good she was. To make matters even worse she was from an enemy kingdom and would most likely be going for the kill; something Richard wasn't sure he could do if he got the chance.

By the time the sun had come up and the bell rang to give the students a warning that classes would start in one hour, Richard had yet to get a wink of sleep and it felt like his body was falling apart. Daiya woke up and found that he was in worse shape than he had been the night before, so she told him to stay in bed and she would be back soon. When she came back into the room she was trailed closely by a sleepy looking Aura and a mournful looking Lisbeth. Aura still hadn't come up with a solution for his problem and had even talked to the headmaster about it; the only thing she would say about that conversation was that she was lucky to still have her job.

Lisbeth slowly moved to the side of the bed and held out a small flask filled with a vibrant blue liquid in it. She told him that Daiya had asked her if she could make a sleeping draught so he could get some rest. The elixir she made would knock him out for close to ten hours and when he woke up he would feel refreshed and ready for anything; something he seriously doubted. Aura had cancelled all of his classes for the day so he wouldn't have to worry about skipping them. To be honest, Richard didn't really want to drink something that would knock him out like that, but he really had no other choice. If he was going to be forced to fight someone in real combat he at least had to be lucid enough to defend himself. So he forced the bitter liquid down his throat and instantly felt the effects as his eyelids grew heavy. The last thing he remembered before he passed out was Daiya kneeling on the bed beside him and placing a soft kiss on his forehead.

The next thing Richard knew, he was sitting up in his bed with no recollection of even having woken up. The sun had set outside and a large fire was burning brightly in the fireplace, tendrils of warmth reaching all the way to him on the other side of the room. At first he thought he was alone, but he caught sight of movement out of the corner of his eye and saw Daiya standing by an empty chair, a hard and serious look on her face as she stared at him for a few moments.

'How do you feel?' she finally asked without moving towards him.

'Like a new man,' he replied clearly and stood up out of bed. 'What time is it?'

'It's almost eight,' Daiya answered quietly. 'Almost time for the duel...'

Richard didn't say anything as he crossed the distance between them. He stood in front of her a few minutes, trying to decide if he should hug or if that wouldn't be appropriate in that moment. He was about to walk by her and towards his clothes when she suddenly stopped him and held him tightly to her body, a long and heavy sigh rattling her chest.

'You'll be fine,' she said and Richard guessed it was more for her than him. Over the last few days he had seen a real shift in how she acted around him. She was actually resembling a caring wife, which was something he didn't expect considering it was an arranged and political marriage. 'That light shield of yours is extremely powerful so if you keep it up she shouldn't be able to touch you.'

Richard nodded into her shoulder and kissed the side of her neck softly, feeling her shiver slightly under it. He found that he couldn't let go of her in that moment and was glad when she didn't either. He was enjoying the warmth and softness of her body as they clung to one another and his mind began to go over the duel that was ahead of him. With a sinking feeling he realized this might be the last time he would ever hold her, and that made him want to let go even less. Why did some random mage have to challenge him to a duel to the death? Why couldn't he just have one week where he wasn't in danger and he could enjoy his life?

'Do you want me to help you get changed into your battle gear?' Daiya asked and Richard nodded. He didn't want to be away from her just yet and he had also recently received the Dragoons battle attire; something he didn't know how to put on.

Daiya released her hug but grabbed hold of his hand and led him to the dresser near the full length mirror. She then proceeded to pull out the leather and metal battle suit worn by the high ranking officers of the Dragoons and put it next to him. With her help he changed out of the clothes he had been wearing to bed, standing before her only in a pair of thin boxers. It was pretty embarrassing for him and he held his hands across his crotch, hoping he wasn't peaking out of his underwear. Daiya regarded him for a second, an interesting look in her eyes, and then she handed him the leather and scale mail pants.

The Dragoons armor was made to be light weight and strong at the same time. The leather had protective spells placed on them to dull down a spells effectiveness and the metal covered vital areas in case a blade or an arrow hit you. Even though it looked simple initially, there were a lot of straps that had to be done up and it could get pretty confusing. With Daiya's help they managed to get it all on quickly, and after putting on his heavy protective cloak he stood in front of the mirror and looked at himself in it. It looked like he was about to step right into the heart of a war, which wasn't actually far from the truth.

The time finally came for them to leave and Richard led the way, forcing one leg to move in front of the other. Some students who were still lingering in the dining hall watched curiously as they passed, probably asking themselves why someone was walking around in full battle armor like that. Usually duels were big crowd gatherers around here and it surprised Richard that it didn't seem like many people knew about this one. Maybe the school was trying to keep it quiet considering the circumstances.

Richard was about to head towards the arena when he was reminded about the protective spell over it by Daiya. If they were going to fight a real duel, it would need to be somewhere that wouldn't ensure the safety of the combatants. Apparently Lillin had chosen a clearing in the woods just outside the school grounds and everyone was already there waiting for him. So, with a heavy heart and an overheated brain, Richard forced his feet to take him there while Daiya walked quietly next to him, their hands touching every few feet but never clasping.

When they arrived at the large clearing Richard found that all of his friends had come to see what happened. There were also a few teachers, including Alyssa, and the headmaster as well. Everyone was bundled up against the frigid winds and they turned to him and Daiya as they entered the area, grim smiles on their faces. Standing at the very center of the clearing and wearing a light cloud grey robe was Lillin. She had a large dagger equipped to her hip and Richard was glad he decided to bring Dark Star with him; if she tried to use that dagger on him he would need his sword to defend against it. He only wished he had been given more time to train with that old swords master back in Elothia. He was sure that she knew how to use that dagger better than he knew how to use Dark Star.

'I commend you for showing up,' Lillin sneered at him and she took four steps back as Richard entered the center of the area. 'Not many people would willingly take me on in a duel like this.'

'You make it sound like I had a choice!' he shot back and pulled Dark Star from the scabbard on his back. He held it out in front of him and steadied his feet as he was about to make the first move. Before he could Lillin held up her hand to stop him.

'Have you been made aware of the rules?' she asked him and he nodded.

'The winner is the only one left alive at the end, right?' he asked but was surprised when she shook her head.

'Yes, deaths do happen in these types of duels, but that's not the desired outcome. A Daimdi Duel is used to settle wars and disputes in the southern islands of Eliz, so just killing your opponent isn't always the best thing to do. The duels are mostly fought between two masters or village chiefs, so you want to defeat your opponent without killing them and get them to concede the war or dispute. If you can knock your opponent out or show them mercy on a sure kill attack, the loser is forced to obey whatever two wishes the winner has.'

'What the hell are you going on about?' Richard demanded and a few of his friends also voiced their opinions on the matter.

'I'm telling you that if you win, I am forced to do whatever two things you tell me to do, and if I win you do whatever two things I tell you to do. There is no limit to what you can choose, but the requests must be made within an hour after the duel has ended or after the loser wakes up.'

'Like hell I would! I won't agree to these terms!' Richard yelled and looked back to the teachers hoping they would stick up for him.

'You have no choice, Lord Proud,' the headmaster spoke and adjusted her glasses slightly. 'The duel has already been approved and will be carried out while upholding the traditions of your homeland. You may begin anytime!'

As soon as the words were out of the headmasters mouth there was an earth shattering boom from above and a bolt of electricity sped down towards Richard. There was no time for him to pull up a shield and with a sickening realization he knew the match was already over. He could feel the power of this powerful magic deep down in his bones and if he was struck directly it would kill him in an instant. But he hadn't brought Dark Star for just melee combat and the bolt of lightning struck the tip and was instantly absorbed, turning the blade yellow and crackling with electricity. Without a moment's pause, Richard spun around to face his foe and slashed his sword out towards her, the bolt of lightning trapped in the blade arcing out at Lillin. She easily created a large tornado of wind in an instant and used it to change the trajectory of the bolt, sending it harmlessly away from her body.

'I see Dark Star is just as powerful as the legends say it is!' Lillin yelled out to him and there was a smile on her lips now. 'This should be a lot more fun that I first thought!'

A strong gust of wind buffeted Richard and he had to dig his heels into the deep snow under his feet so he wouldn't be tossed onto his ass. Snow was kicked up into his eyes and he was momentarily blind as he heard his enemy rushing towards him, the metallic sound of a weapon being pulled. In the next instant he brought his sword up in front of his torso and somehow blocked an attack he hadn't even seen coming, the sound of the metal dagger ringing against his large black sword cutting through the woods around them. The tip of the dagger was only a few inches from his throat and he used all the strength he had in his body to try and push it away, but Lillin planted her feet and thrust all of her body weight behind it, the blade nicking his skin and cutting him slightly.

'Is this really the best you have?' she growled and Richard could feel magic start to gather in her body. It was so powerful that a strong wind picked up around them and Richard could feel every molecule in his body reacting to the amazing power he was about to be hit with. If he didn't do something quick he would be in real danger.

Richard gathered his own magic and unleashed it in an ultraviolet wave that tossed Lillin away from him and she flipped elegantly in the air before landing softly on her feet a few yards away. She raised the hand without the dagger and a beautiful blue ring shone yellow for a second before a bolt of lightning shot directly at him. Richard had enough time to pull his shield up in front of him and the powerful bolt stuck it with so much force that Richard was pushed back a few feet, his body straining to keep the shield up. There was a second bolt of electricity and this time Richard tilted his shield to the left, causing the attack to ricochet off of it and strike a tree with so much power that it broke in two instantly.

Not wanting to be on the defensive all the time, Richard gathered more power into his bracer and felt the warmth radiate throughout his body. He held his hand towards Lillin and released a ball of condensed light at her. Lillin quickly jumped out of the way but Richard pulled the spell back towards her and thought this would end it. It wasn't a very powerful spell but it should be enough to knock her out at the very least. The one thing he hadn't been expecting though, was that she would use her dagger to block the attack. The ball of light crashed into the silver blade and disappeared a second later, like it had never existed. The most surprising part was that the blade began to glow with an intense white light, like what Dark Star did when it absorbed an attack.

'H... how is that possible?' he asked in disbelief but never received an answer. Lillin flicked the blade towards him and his own spell shot through the air towards him. It caught him in the chest and he was flung backwards and landed heavily in the cold snow that threatened to bury him. His head was spinning, his chest felt like it was on fire, and he was pretty sure he heard something crack when he landed. The amazing thing was that he wasn't unconscious nor dead.

Richard pulled himself back up, clutching his left arm over his chest and ribs as they throbbed in pain. His vision was blurry and he couldn't make out his opponent anywhere, only the crowd of friends and teachers that had gathered around to watch the duel. In the very next instant his legs were kicked out from under him and he crashed down into the snow once more, more pain shooting through his ribcage as he landed hard on his side. Before he could so much as try to roll away there was a very sharp dagger at his throat, cutting into his skin and producing trickles of blood.

Lillin stood above him, an odd expression on her face as she regarded him thoughtfully. She pressed the dagger into his throat harder and kneeled on his chest, causing him to gasp in pain. She brought up her free hand, the one with the ring on it, right at his face. It began to glow and Richard could feel the buildup of power within it. Both his arms were pinned and he couldn't focus on controlling his magic at all as pain and fear coursed through his frantic brain.

'The win is mine!' she proclaimed loudly enough for everyone to hear, never taking her eyes off of Richard. A moment later her ring stopped glowing and she got off of him, putting her dagger back into the scabbard attached to her hip. That's when he noticed a long scratch running down the blade and something black under it. It almost looked like the blade had been painted silver instead of being forged from it.

A second later Richard was being hauled to his feet by Aura and Daiya, their eyes wide as they asked him if he was alright. Before he could answer, Lillin was standing less than a foot away from him with a small smile on her lips. It wasn't the same smile she had worn earlier, a cocky one, but an almost gleeful smile. It was easy to understand that she was happy at winning, she could get him to do anything she wanted. Who wouldn't like to boss someone else around like that?

'It's customary for the loser of a Daimdi Duel to get on their knees in front of the winner and bow in respect, and defeat,' Aura whispered into his ear when nothing was said for a few seconds.

Richard really didn't want to bow before this girl, but there was no other choice; she had beaten him and that was all there was too it. He was lucky to be alive. If she had tried to finish the duel off with her magic he probably would have been killed. He had never felt so much power, not even when he had fought Daiya in his placement exam. She was on a whole other level and it was hard to believe that she was only a first year. With her power she could easily be in the top magic classes the school had to offer.

Before Richard could fall to his knees and bow to the victor he was surprised when Lillin suddenly fell down in front of him and bowed deeply on her knees, her head touching the snow and her fingers forming a circle just above her head. Everyone else seemed just as stunned as he was and began to whisper quietly.

'Let me formally introduce myself,' Lillin said in a hushed tone and it sounded like she was talking to someone in a library, 'I am Lillin DuColt, Master of Wind and Lightning Magic and keeper of Star Shard. I beg your forgiveness for this duel and hope you understand that it was necessary in order to ascertain who you really were.'

'Wh... what's going on here?' Richard asked in a whisper as he noticed the others around him were starting to edge closer to hear what was being said.

'I'd like to know the same thing,' Aura said and moved closer to the kneeling girl. 'The Wind and Lightning Master is sixty eight years old, and you can't be more than eighteen!'

'I can explain everything,' Lillin said and stood up, 'but I would rather do it in private, if that is alright. General Roku and I have a lot of things to discuss.'





Note: Hey guys, Mishikail here. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for reading our story and answer a quick question. Someone asked why I didn't just write this chapter, the reason would be that my writing isn't as good as Captius'. I actually tried writing the first chapter of this story, but after eight rewrites I still wasn't happy with it so I handed it off to someone I knew would do a better job with it. The way our process works is that once we have finished a chapter, Cap and I will sit down over some coffee and discuss what we would like in the next one. When we get some details and plot figured out, it goes to writing where Captius takes over. I then do a quick run through and see if I want anything changed and then he goes back and rewrites crossed out sections. Then he will do a quick spell and grammar check (only getting what catches his eye the first read through) and then we post it.

Uh... not sure why I wanted to write all of that out for all of you... haha

Anyways, we will try to have the next chapter posted as soon as possible. Please keep in mind that my writer/slave is currently injured and slower than usual. We hope you understand.
88 comments

anonymous readerReport

2013-09-19 15:31:40
I loved it! I've been reading non stop since i found this amazing story!

anonymous readerReport

2013-04-21 20:40:25
This is one hell of a twist in the plot,you now really have my interest,really looking forward to reading the rest,hoping that it is as brilliant as the previous chapters,,best regards from djb8247

anonymous readerReport

2013-01-29 22:58:27
Could you post a direct link, I'm not seeing it.

anonymous readerReport

2013-01-29 22:52:09
I can't seem to find it :(

CaptiusReport

2013-01-29 22:37:07
The new chapter has been posted, but I made a mistake in the name. It is listed under Eternal Awakening: Chapter Six... it was supposed to read Eternal Darkness: Chapter Six. Sorry for the confusion.
-Mishi

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