Passage Chapter 12


Later that day, Queen Lymsleia, accompanied by Miakis, headed back to the infirmary. Though they arrived at the room with a plan already in mind, they were met with something unexpected.

...that ‘something’ being Richard’s presently active voice. A departure from his gentle, easygoing nature, the barrage of frightened pleas was enough to alarm any passerby.

“What’s going on?” Lymsleia asked immediately upon entering the room.

Mueller, who was sitting at Richard’s bedside, turned slightly. “It’s nothing for you to worry about,” he told her calmly. “It’s just a recurring nightmare. He’ll be all right.”

“But...” Lymsleia came closer, watching Richard anxiously. “If he keeps moving like that, won’t he reopen his wounds?”

“Well, according to Dr. Silva, the Dawn Rune sealed his wounds to the point where they were no longer life-threatening. He’s physically spent, but he’s getting stronger. Even if he reopens a wound, it can easily be treated.”

“Even so, I don’t think--”

“Agh...!” moaned Richard, rapidly turning his head. He was still unconscious. “No...I did...everything...I-I”

Mueller turned back to the teenager. “Richard...”

“No...!” Richard cried out, though it clearly was not in response to the man. His entire body seemed to tense up. “You promised...I did...I did everything...all the children...get to why can’t I...argh...”

“How horrible,” Miakis remarked, her expression nearly matching Lymsleia’s. “Was the battle that hard on him, or...”

Mueller let out an exasperated sigh. “This goes beyond last night’s battle,” he explained reluctantly. “This...goes as far back as his childhood. I’ll say no more.”

“You promised me...” came Richard’s faint voice.


“It’s...never good enough...why...?” The teenager’s eyes were closed, but everyone could see the anger and heartbreak in his expression.

“Richard,” Mueller repeated a little more loudly, his voice rigid. “It’s me.”

“Stay away from me...I mean it...”

Mueller turned to the stunned visitors, his face apologetic. “Listen, Your Majesty. I don’t mean any disrespect, but I think it’s best you leave. You...shouldn’t have to see this.”

Lymsleia looked despondent, but she shook her head. “With all due respect, Mueller, I’ve seen far worse than somebody having a nightmare. Besides, I owe it to him to be here, whether he’s presentable or not.”

Mueller started to reply, but was interrupted.

“S...stay away...!” Richard shouted as he rolled onto his side, away from everyone. The bedsheets slid away to the teenager’s waist, giving everyone a disturbing eyeful.

Lymsleia gasped, horrified, bringing a hand to her mouth. There, on Richard’s back, were a multitude of scars that spanned his slender frame, too numerous to have been acquired in his young life, and too healed to have been earned in recent battles. “I’m sorry...!” she exclaimed, rapidly shifting her gaze between the teenager and Mueller. “I-I didn’t know. Please forgive me!”

“Ah...” Mueller shook his head, and then stood up. Reaching over, he grabbed Richard by the shoulders and brought him back to his original position. “If the blame belongs anywhere, it’s with the past. As much as this fool annoys me, I, uh...can’t blame him for being the way he is.” As if in response to these words, the young swordsman reached up with a hand and clutched the older man’s wrist out of some inexplicable fear...or maybe instinct. It was a bizarre thing, sad and unnerving and somehow touching, yet it all somehow made sense, the sight of Richard clinging to Mueller like a scared child.

When Richard finally showed signs of calming down, Mueller moved out of his grasp. “Heh. And besides, he works harder than all my other soldiers. If I had to think about it, it’s a fair trade-off for all the times he acts like a babbling idiot.” He turned to Lymsleia. “Anyway, I think the nightmare’s passed. I’m going to find the other idiot and drag him back from whichever woman he’s chasing today.”

“Uh...” Lymsleia watched as the man walked past her.

Mueller stopped at the door. “Your Majesty,” he said. “Please forgive my rudeness earlier.”

“Oh, that’s...that’s not...” Before she could finish her sentence, however, Mueller was gone.

Lymsleia turned back to Richard, studying his still form with concerned eyes. So Richard did indeed have a past...a past both he and Mueller were determined to cover up. Yet was it every bit as horrible as it sounded?

As if to answer her question, Richard mumbled something.


He would not say anything else for the rest of the night.

* * * * *

Three days passed before there was any improvement in Richard’s condition. Queen Lymsleia, the Queen’s Knights, the Lindwurm Mercenary Brigade, as well as everyone else were all nothing short of anxious. However, this was mostly due to the threat that had swept the area in the last several days. There had been no activity since then, nor had there been word from the Oboro Detective Agency, who had been investigating all the while. The only comfort to be drawn from the entire situation was the arrival of forces from both Stormfist and Rainwall, which had been strongly defending the palace and the city.

As there was nothing to do at the moment except wait for news, Lymsleia thought it the perfect time to begin her training. And so, during certain hours of the day, the audience chamber had turned into a training area. Lymsleia had traded her robes for a more favorable outfit, and was now awaiting instruction.

Miakis approached the girl with a wooden stick, short and shaped to near perfection. “Here, Your Majesty.”

“Er...” Lymsleia accepted the item with some confusion. “What’s this?”

“It’s a practice sword.”

“A sword?” the queen asked, looking hesitant. “Do you think I’m suited for something like this? I was thinking more long the lines of a longbow...”

“We could teach you that, too,” Miakis replied. “But you’ve also got to learn how to defend yourself at close range. Don’t worry; I’ll be using a practice sword, too. See?” She held up another similar wooden stick. “Now, today, we’ll teach you some very basic moves, like attacking and defending. That is, of course, if you think you’re ready for it.”

“I’m ready!” Lymsleia declared, grasping the sword’s hilt tightly. A look of shock then registered on her face, and she gasped, dropping the weapon.

“Your Majesty! What’s wrong?!”

Embarrassed, the girl lifted the hand that had been holding the weapon. There, lodged not too deeply in her palm, was a medium-sized splinter. “I, uh...guess I should’ve put on some gloves first.”

“Err...” Miakis was looking equally sheepish. “Yeah, I should’ve made that lesson number one. Don’t worry, though. We’ll come back to this lesson just as soon as we see Dr. Silva.”

Lymsleia shook her head. “I’m fine,” she insisted. She pulled out the splinter, drawing a tiny pool of redness. “Just a small flesh wound. We don’t need to trouble Dr. Silva for that.”

“At least let me get some bandages,” the female knight offered. She turned to Galleon and Kyle, who were also present in the room. “Hey guys, stay with Lym until I get back, okay? Maybe you could give her a few tips, too.”

“Of course, Miakis,” Kyle said as the young woman left the room.

When she was gone, Lymsleia retrieved her sword. She walked over to the throne area and took a seat on the step, her shoulders slumping.

Noticing her gloomy manner, Kyle said, “Don’t worry, Your Majesty. None of us are really good when we start. And at the risk of embarrassing myself, I couldn’t hope to wield a dagger half as well as Miakis. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.”

The queen shook her head. “It’s not that. I don’t expect to become as good as any one of you.”

“Then...what’s the matter?”

“I can’t stand this waiting. Not knowing what the Nether Gate is up to, not knowing what their bosses are planning...” She let out a sigh. “Not knowing what will happen to Richard...”

“Well, Silva says he’s getting better, right?” Kyle asked.

“Indeed,” Galleon said, responding to the name. “I’m sure that young man will be back in a matter of days.”

“And then what?” Lymsleia questioned them. “We’d still be waiting for news...”

“Your Majesty...I may not be in a position to demand such a thing, but please try to look on the bright side.”

A laugh erupted from the young queen. “Galleon, saying ‘please’ is hardly demanding!” she exclaimed. “But you’re still right. There have been a lot of good things that have happened in spite of everything else. The assassins were driven away and haven’t been back since, and no one else has been murdered. I’m certainly grateful for that.”

Kyle grinned. “That’s the spirit.”

“Your Majesty!” called Miakis. She burst into the chamber, and then stopped to catch her breath, her hands on her knees. “Oh...Your Majesty...”

“What is it?” Lymsleia asked, standing up. “Did you get the bandages?”

“ But I’ve got some good news.”

“What is it?”

“It’s Richard,” Miakis replied, looking every bit as cheery as she sounded. “He just woke up a few minutes ago.”

Chapter 13

All That Glitters Is Cold 3 Fanfic Competition

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