Passage Chapter 2

Return of Lindwurm

Two days elapsed, and though there had been no more reports of killings, everyone was still on edge. Several of their ‘old friends,’ as Galleon had put it, had made their way back to town. Dr. Murad was on stand-by, and despite her lack of desire to regularly practice medicine in the Sun Palace, Dr. Silva decided to lend a hand for the time being. Jeane, the town’s runemistress, was at her usual post, while soldiers claimed, for the first time without guilt, that the current situation was the reason for their frequent visits to her shop. Messengers had been dispatched to various towns in order to prevent further dispatching of a different type. However, it was unconfirmed that this was the reason no others murders had taken place...

The doors of the great hall opened, catching the attention of Miakis and Lymsleia, who were both in the room.

“Your Majesty...!” Galleon called as he appeared. “Soldiers of the Lindwurm Mercenary Brigade have arrived.” He then stepped aside as three familiar men entered.

“Hey there!” Wilhelm called, stepping forward first. “Wilhelm, Commander of the Lindwurm Mercenaries at your service, Your Majesty!”

“Your Majesty,” spoke Mueller, briefly taking a bow. “Mueller, First Officer of the Lindwurm Mercenaries, at your service.”

Richard was next to greet the young queen. “Hello, Your Majesty,” he said in his usual cheerful manner. “I’m Richard of the Lindwurm Mercenaries. It will be an honor to serve you.”

“Oh...” Their entrance had left Lymsleia a bit stunned, but she quickly recovered. “Thank you all for coming,” she said as she stood. “The Queen’s Knights and I welcome you back to Sol-Falena. As you all may have been told, there have been murders among the nobles lately. We have reason to believe my life is also in danger, and that the killers will strike here soon. We have enlisted your help to defend against this threat.”

“Great,” said Wilhelm. “So what’s the plan, Your Majesty?”

“To investigate the reasons for these murders and prevent any more unnecessary deaths,” Lymsleia replied, looking queasy. “We’re...currently enlisting the help of a detective for the first purpose. The delegates of the new parliament are also meeting to discuss recent events as well as ways to help the other towns increase their defenses. If need be, we’re prepared to send soldiers. We’re also increasing the security around here.”

“Understood. But who are we defending against?”

“Uh...” The young queen grew embarrassed. “That’s...the one flaw in the plan, you could say,” she admitted sheepishly. “Even though several people have been killed, there’s been no description of the killers.”

“Are you serious?” Wilhelm asked, surprised, then looked down. “Huh. I see...”

“It’s gotta be Nether Gate!” Miakis declared. “Only they could leave that kind of mark. Tell me, who else would kill off that many nobles for no reason?”

“Yes, but...” started Lymsleia. “Without a proper investigation, there’s nothing confirming that.” She turned back to the three men. “Still, I’d like you to be on alert for anyone who looks or acts like an assassin.”

“If I may speak out of turn here, Your Majesty...” Mueller cut in, raising his hand. “Didn’t the Nether Gate break up after the war?”

“Well, there are always survivors. We all thought they had disbanded before, and we were wrong about that.”

“True, Your Majesty. But what makes you think they’ll lay a hand on you? If I recall, you made it through the war unharmed, and this place was swarming with Nether Gate.”

“...We think it has to do with the fact that her biggest supporters are being killed off,” explained Miakis. “So far, that seems to be the only link between the murders. The reason why the, the queen wasn’t harmed during the war was because the Godwins didn’t order it. A puppet queen would be of no use if murdered. And of course, neither Gizel nor his father, Marscal, would kill off her supporters, since their approval mattered the most. Whoever is doing this...probably doesn’t want Her Majesty ruling the Queendom.”

“Yeah...” spoke another voice. “Like people bitter over Lord Godwin’s defeat.”

Everyone turned as Kyle walked into the room.

“You gotta be kidding,” Wilhelm said. “Who in the hell would still back that nutjob after he tried to flood all of Falena?”

The blond knight shrugged. “Hey, you never know. But right now, it’s our best guess.”

“Is there anything else, Majesty?” Wilhelm asked, turning back to the queen.

“Well...” Lymsleia looked around nervously, exchanging looks with all her knights, who all understood her apprehension. “At the moment, yes. There’s...a temporary position open in Sol-Falena’s forces. I hate to sound desperate at a time like this, but...the fact is, we are a bit desperate for someone to fill this position until the threat subsides.”

“What is it?”

“We...need someone to command the Queen’s Knights.”

“Command the Queen’s Knights?” Wilhelm repeated, looking puzzled. “Hold on, isn’t that position reserved for...oh...right.” He brought his gaze down for a moment before nodding. “Uh...sure, Your Majesty. If you really need that position filled, then I’ll speak with my men to see who’s up to the job.”

Lymsleia breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Wilhelm...” she said, then looked at the other two. “Mueller. Richard. That will be all. For now, Kyle and Galleon will tell you what needs to be done at the moment.”

* * * * *

Some time later, Queen Lymsleia stepped down from the throne and was now meeting with the three mercenaries on a more personal level.

“I just wanted to thank you on my brother’s behalf,” she told them. “Even though there is money involved, I’m sure he would appreciate your cooperation just the same.” Her expression turned more serious as she focused on them, one by one. “I...also want to thank you for all your hard work during the war. You really came through for my brother, not just here, but in Rainwall as well, if only briefly...”

Realizing that Lymsleia was staring directly at him, Richard blushed slightly. “I can take thanks for part of the war,” he started with a sheepish grin. “But Rainwall? That was all Mueller.”

Wilhelm let out a groan, insulted. “Uh, hello?”

“Oh, and you.”

“Really?” Lymsleia asked, a bit confused. “I could have sworn you’ve been around awhile. I’ve definitely seen you before.”

“Huh? Oh...uh...” The teen only seemed to grow more embarrassed. “That’s...probably because you have,” he said, bringing a hand to the back of his head. “But that’s not the most flattering story in the world. I was one of the participants in the Sacred Games, you see...”

Just then, something struck Mueller from the inside, and a brief memory played in his mind.

* * * * *

“Ow! Muellerrr...! Please stop that!”

“Don’t neglect your training!”

“I’m not! Mueller, you know me. I’ve been training since I was very young! Wilhelm even said some of his better soldiers are calling me ‘the Blademaster.’”

“Ohhh, so Richard thinks he’s a big shot now? Well, pardon me. I didn’t realize you were too good for us. Why doesn’t Mr. Big Shot go win the Sacred Games so that he can be the Commander of the Queen’s Knights? Certainly, that’s better than anything we could provide you here.”

“Huh? Sacred Games...?”

“Yes, the Sacred Games. A tournament that decides the future queen’s husband. The winner marries the queen and also takes his place as the Commander of the Queen’s Knights.”

“Wow...that sounds like quite an honor! You...really believe I’m capable of this? Well, of course you do! You wouldn’t have mentioned it to me if you didn’t...”

“I believe that you’ll be the Queen’s Knights Commander the day I believe Wilhelm will stop chasing women.”

“Well, anything’s possible!”

* * * * *

“...and before I knew it, my entire body had gone numb!” Richard finished. “It wasn’t much of a battle. Later, they found out an anesthetic had been put into the sweets that one girl served me. But by then, it was too late. I’d already lost the match...”

Lymsleia looked at him in concern. “Oh, that’s a shame. There were so many warriors that never got a fair chance to compete. I’m just...glad the games are over with. It isn’t just the idea of not being able to select my own husband that I loathe, but all the cheating that went on.”

Mueller, who had uncharacteristically been silent about the pathetic defeat, only studied Richard in a serious manner.

“Well, I’m glad you don’t have to go through that anymore, either,” said Richard. “Haha, I think I’d be nervous wreck if I was somebody important and there were a bunch of women competing to be my wife. Thankfully, I’m just a mercenary for hire.”

“Hey,” Wilhelm said, barely nudging Mueller’s arm. “You all right, man? You’re staring at those kids like they’re the biggest advance payment you’ve ever seen.”

“Huh?” Mueller shook his head, snapping out of his trance. “Don’t be stupid. I was...I was just remembering how that fool shamed the Lindwurm Mercenary Brigade that day.”

Wilhelm chuckled and started to leave the room. “Yeah, right. You weren’t even serious when you told him to enter that tournament.”

Mueller turned, following Wilhelm all the way to the door before looking back at Richard and Lymsleia.

I wonder...was it really all so farfetched...?

“Bah...” The man then turned back around and started to walk off.

“...and they’ve treated me pretty well. Well, Mueller’s sometimes hard on me, but-- Mueller?” Richard stopped, noticing both men disappearing down the hall. “Hey, Mueller, wait up!” He left Lymsleia’s side, running after the man.

Queen Lymsleia turned around, bewildered by the boy’s sudden exit. “Uh...okay,” she said, chuckling nervously.

Chapter 3

All That Glitters Is Cold 3 Fanfic Competition

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