Passage Chapter 15


The mid-morning sun beamed down on the city, bright and warm and pleasant. Queen Lymsleia soaked up the light as she stood on the walkway to the palace, just a few paces away from Miakis. Miakis watched Lymsleia relaxing as a child would, and she chuckled to herself, remembering just how young the girl really was.

“It feels good to get some sunshine, doesn’t it, Your Majesty?” she asked.

“It sure does,” Lymsleia replied contently. “And...I don’t know why, but there’s something different about it,’s a new light, or something.”

“Heh, heh.” Miakis stepped up beside the girl. “I think you’re just relieved that this whole mess is nearly at an end.”


“Too bad it means saying good-bye, though...”

Struck by both the female knight’s words and tone, Lymsleia turned to her with an uneasy look. “Wh-what do you mean?”

“Think about it, Your Majesty,” Miakis said, staring straight ahead. “Galleon and Kyle were on the verge of leaving the Queen’s Knights before the murders began. Once everything is back to normal, they’ll likely continue with their original plans. Then all our other friends will leave...there’s Murad and Silva...actually, I get the feeling Galleon might leave with Silva...heh, heh, heh...”

“Oh...with everything going on, I...I guess I forgot about all of that.”

“Yeah. It’ll just be you and me, Your Majesty. We’ll be without a commander again when the Lindwurm Mercenaries leave--”

Lymsleia felt her heart jump.

“--but I’m sure we can manage for the time being,” Miakis continued, and then her face brightened. “Oh, but the good news is that our trainees are improving, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we have a full roster of knights. And, hey, maybe your brother and Lyon will be back by then!”

“Yeah,” the young queen said, though the reply was unusually half-hearted. She brought her gaze down, absorbing the shock of these reminders.

Say good-bye? she thought, suddenly depressed. It feels like I’ve been saying good-bye too much lately. I said good-bye to Brother, Lyon, and Georg. I had to say good-bye to Mother or Father, whether I was ready or not. And now I have to say good-bye again. But how can I, just when I’m getting used to the way things are? How can I say good-bye to Galleon, or to Kyle?

...or to Richard?

* * * * *

A few days elapsed, and Lymsleia’s combat training was well underway...or so her instructors would have liked to claim. The girl was not quite what people would call “a natural” at sword fighting. Though she was something of a tomboy, somehow she just could not pick up the art.

“No, no,” Miakis was saying. “Try not to flail all around as you--wait, no. Keep steady. You’ve got to--” She gasped as the girl came at her clumsily, and she dodged the wooden point that had almost scraped her jaw.

“S-sorry!” Lymsleia looked embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to. I just...I’m no good at this.”

“You’re the one who wanted to learn how to defend yourself.”

Lymsleia let the wooden sword drop by her side, and she threw her head back in frustration. “You’re always going to hold that over my head, aren’t you?” She then sighed, turning her gaze back toward Miakis. “I’m sorry, you’re right. I did ask you, and I shouldn’t complain. I’m just not sure if this is the way, though.”

“Yeah, that’s crossed my mind once or twice,” the female knight admitted, and then her expression was replaced by an impish grin. “So that’s why I’m setting you up with a different sparring partner.” When Lymsleia reacted with alarm, Miakis added, “Don’t worry. This person knows what to do. I have a feeling he’d be a better teacher than I could ever be.” She then turned toward the door. “Hey! You can come in now!”

The doors to the audience chamber opened, and there, in plain sight, was none other than Richard. Back in his mercenary outfit, he marched in, practice sword at the ready.

“Good morning, Your Majesty!” he greeted her, smiling. “I’ll be your sparring partner today!”

Lymsleia wasted no time turning to Miakis with an appalled look. “Are you nuts? Why don’t you just ask a kitten to fight a stone golem?”

“Don’t worry, Your Majesty,” Richard told her. “I’ll go easy on you.”

“If...if you say so...”

“There you are!”

Richard turned around as Kyle and Galleon entered the room. “Oh...hello there.”

“Is it time already?” Miakis asked, and then turned to Richard. “Hey, Richard, come over here for a second. We want to talk to you about something.”

“Huh? Oh, okay. Um...” He briefly looked in Lymsleia’s direction. “Sorry, could you wait a second?”

“Uh...sure,” Lymsleia said with a mixed expression.

“You can practice those swings like I showed you,” Miakis suggested. “Just remember what I told you.”

While Lymsleia attempted to follow her instruction, Richard joined the three knights off to the side. For a moment, they looked at the girl, watching her flimsy form and pitiful swings.

“She’s...horrible,” Galleon remarked quietly.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Kyle added. “Some people should never pick up a sword. What were you thinking, Miakis?”

“I was thinking that I’m following Lymsleia’s orders!” Miakis fumed. “Give me a little credit.”

“Fine, I’ll credit this bad performance to you,” Kyle quipped. “In the meantime, she’s going to need a lot of work.”

Richard smirked, watching poor Lymsleia. “Well, as my dad used to say, there’s always room for improvement.”

“Your dad?” Miakis asked, partly confused and partly suspicious.

“Huh?” The teen turned back to the three, feeling his face flush. “Did I say that? I meant Mueller! Guess I’ve been around him too long, he’s like a dad to me! Hahaha.”

The knights all exchanged looks with one another, and Miakis shook her head. “Anyway, we had a proposal for you.”

“Really? What is it?”

Toward the center of the room, Lymsleia practiced furiously, trying to perfect--or at least produce--a proper swing.

I just can’t get the hang of this, she thought in disappointment. I’ve watched Kyle, Georg, Lyon...even Father...couldn’t I have picked up even one thing? Oh well. She continued practicing her moves, paying more attention on the swing itself and less attention on anything else.

“...So if it’s okay with you, we don’t mind,” Miakis was saying to Richard. “Between the three of us, we’d like to keep you as Commander. I mean, should you choose to leave the mercenaries, even for a short while. What I’m saying is, you’ve always got a home here.”

Richard’s eyes widened in surprise. “Oh, that’s...very generous of you. I don’t think I’ll quit the Lindwurm Mercenary Brigade, though.”

“ least think about it, won’t you?” asked Kyle.

“I suppose I’ll have all the time in the world to do that,” the teen replied with a smile. “But correct me if I’m wrong. Won’t that position be filled anyway when she gets married?”

Miakis let out an abashed chuckle. “Probably,” she admitted, “but I don’t think she’ll get married for quite some time. She’s really adamant about choosing her own husband.”

“Besides, I don’t think she’d object if you did return,” Kyle said, his look sly. “You’ve really made an impression on her, and you’ve got her full trust. Actually, the same goes for all of us. And that’s important when working with someone in the Queen’s Knights.”

“Hahaha. Well, thank you for the offer. I’ll certainly think about it.” Richard shifted his weight back. “But for now? I’m just waiting for Mueller to return. We’ll probably go back to Zelant when this is over...”

Keep steady, keep steady, Lymsleia silently ordered herself, beads of sweat appearing on her forehead. Go, go... She hadn’t noticed she had drifted closer to the group.

“Well, good for you,” Miakis said. “I would’ve hoped you could stay a little longer, but of course, it’s your decision.”

“That means a lot to me,” Richard told her, taking a couple of steps back. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

Not realizing she was mere few feet away from the group, Lymsleia focused all of her energy on a side movement. “Here we go...!” She took the hilt in both hands, her shoulders square, and swung full-force to her left.

“Anyway, I’d better get back to Her Majes-- argh--!” Richard felt the carved blade smack across his backside, and his whole body tensed up for a moment before he dropped to his knees. “Ugh...”

“Richard!” the three knights shouted in unison.

“Huh?” Lymsleia looked at Richard in alarm. “D-did I...? Oh my gosh!” She dropped the blade, horrified, covering her mouth with her hands. “Richard, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize you were there!”

“Oh, great,” said Kyle sarcastically. “The one time Lym hits anything, she takes out the commander!”

Richard forced a laugh, somewhat embarrassed. “I’ll...I’ll be all right. I should’ve been watching. Ow...”

“So should I,” Miakis said, though she wore an expression of awe. “Your Majesty, I’m so sorry. I should’ve need a weapon you can wield with two hands!”

* * * * *

Several hours later, Richard and Lymsleia had taken a leisurely stroll through the city and were now returning to the palace. It was the first time in quite a while that either one of them had gotten to do...absolutely nothing related to work or duty.

“You know, it’s really not that bad,” Richard was saying. “Maybe you aren’t suited to wielding swords, but there are plenty of other weapons you could use.”

“You’re right,” the girl said. She was still in her training outfit, and had gotten plenty of strange stares from the citizens. However, she didn’t really mind. “After all, neither Galleon nor Miakis have swords, and they’re both wonderful knights. I think I’ll toss the practice sword and ask Miakis if I could practice with her daggers.”

“Well, just be careful. I’m pretty sure those are dangerous.”

Lymsleia found herself bothered by the implication, whether it was intentional or not. “Richard, I’m not scared. I’ve had blades pointed at me before. You should know. At least here, I’d be in control.”

“Huh? Oh, I-I didn’t mean you were incapable. I just meant they look pretty sharp. I’m not sure if I’d want to wield them.”

The queen was taken aback by these words. “Really? But you’re so good at this combat thing. Didn’t you start training since you were my age?”

“Your age...?” He looked at her, but suddenly found himself thrown into a time he had been trying for years to forget.

* * * * *

“Get up! What do you think you’re doing?”

“Ugh...we’ve been practicing for ten hours straight. My knee still hurts from yesterday...”

“Oh, don’t be a baby. My comrades can practice for twice that time with ten times the injuries! You’re a disgrace!”

“I’m just a kid! I shouldn’t be doing this just yet!”

“You’ve got a head start on all these morons! Yesterday, I met a fifteen-year-old who couldn’t tell a codpiece from a chin guard. Well, that little fool will be limping for a week. And it serves him right!”


“Are you deaf? I said get- up-!

“Ow! Father, don’t!”

“Just shut your mouth and get up. You’re gonna be just like your old man when you grow up. And don’t you even think about letting me down.”

* * * * *

“Is something wrong, Richard?” Lymsleia questioned him, noticing how sick he looked all of a sudden.

“What?” As Richard drifted back to reality, his skin color reverted to its normal tone. “No, of course not!” he insisted with a chuckle, though sounded quite nervous. “I, uh...let’s just say I started a bit earlier than you.”

“Well, that explains why you’re so good at such a young age.”

“Yeah, uh...I guess...”

“Are you all right?” she asked, realizing he was still not quite himself. “If I said something to offend you, I apologize.”

Richard shook his head. “You haven’t done anything, Your Majesty. It was just a very long time ago, and I always find it harder and harder to remember.”

“Oh...well, I suppose after a while, you let go of a lot of memories. Galleon tells me that sometimes, even he can’t remember what exact year he joined the Queen’s Knights.” Her laugh was appropriate, though somewhat forced. “So then...are you okay?”

“Of course!” the teenager insisted, sounding closer to normal. “Never better. In fact, nothing could ruin this perfect day... huh?”

“What is it?” Lymsleia asked.

Richard’s eyes scanned the area just before the palace, and all of the people present. “It’s the mercenaries,” he told her. “They’re...they’re back? Then that’s over!”

Joy was the young queen’s initial reaction. “Oh, that’s wonderful news!” she exclaimed, but felt downhearted beyond this. “Wonderful...”

“That’s great! Then Wilhelm can take another job, and I’ll be well enough to fight with Mueller, and--” He stopped upon overhearing a conversation between a group of mercenaries.

“...a shame. I wanted to pay my last respects before, but...”

“I know. The guy deserves more than this. I mean, he’s always been tough on us, but I really respected him, you know?”

“Yeah, and no matter what he’s said, I know he respected all of us. Sacrificing himself just to protect a wounded soldier...that’s...that’s...”

“If it weren’t for that other assassin making that surprise attack, he would’ve been just fine.”

“I’m so sorry, guys! I was there...! When he took a hit to the chest, I tried so hard to stop the bleeding, but medicinal herbs don’t really do much there...”

“It’s not your fault! It’s those damn assassins! I’m just glad we killed them all. At least, the ones involved in the plot.”

“So how much longer does he have live?”

“You mean Mueller?”

Richard went white.

“The doctor said a few the most. I hate to say’s all over for him.”

With a frightened exhalation, Richard immediately left Lymsleia’s side, bolting toward the palace.

“Richard!” called the young queen, then stopped, her expression becoming sorrowful. “Oh, Richard...”

* * * * *

“Damn it...” Wilhelm muttered, shaking his head.

In the infirmary, he stood by the window, his arms crossed. On the bed lay Mueller, who bore critical wounds to the chest and back, as well as a broken arm, all of which now prevented him from doing much of anything. Silva, a female doctor with many years of practice, was trying to make the severely injured man as comfortable as possible.

“I’m not going to do it,” Wilhelm continued, turning around. It was strange to see him so emotional, though it was perfectly justified. “You begged me. You begged drag your sorry ass back here, and now you want me to tell him the news?” Sniffling, he shook his head. “I’m not gonna do it. I’m not breaking the kid’s heart. That’s your responsibility.”

“I’m on my deathbed, you fool,” Mueller retorted weakly. “I thought that...that Richard would be back when we returned, but apparently he’s off in the city with the queen. It’s not that I want you to do it.”

The scruffy-looking man sighed. “Mueller...”

“Where is he?!” called a panicked voice. “Is it true?!”

Wilhelm exchanged worried looks with Mueller, and then turned to the door as Richard appeared.

“Oh,” said Mueller softly. “So you are here.”

“I don’t understand,” Richard said as he cautiously approached, his horrified eyes confirming the truth. “ could you be injured? You’re a great warrior! Easily the best! There’s no way that--”

“Damn it, boy, would you stop putting me on a pedestal like that?” grumbled the man, wincing in pain. “I did one little act for you. Though I wouldn’t say it was a mistake, I regret having been the one to do it. It’s earned me the full-time job of being the recipient of your unwanted admiration.”


Seeing the hurt look upon the teenage boy’s face, Mueller sighed. “I didn’t mean that the way it came out. Actually, on second thought, maybe I did, a little. Listen...Richard. When I’m gone, there’s no need to go around acting like a lost lamb.”

“Don’t talk that way, Mueller!” Richard exclaimed, his tone and expression both desperate. “You’re going to live!”

“Oh, please...I can feel myself getting the minute. But...I have enough tell you this. Look. Look at me. I’m dying, boy.” Seeing the young warrior shake his head furiously, he raised his tone. “Look at me! Richard! Richard...please...if there was any time I needed you to do something for me, it’s now. Please. Will you at least listen? Can you do that? Please...”

Richard was silent, but he reluctantly made his way over to the man.

“Good...” Mueller whispered, letting out a few weak coughs. “Look...I know how much you think you need me around, but the truth don’t. After a certain never did.”

“That’s not true--”

“It is, boy, and you know it. Hell, everybody knows it. You’re the great warrior, Richard. After a while, you even surpassed me. Yet you still clung to me. I’d like to say I don’t understand...why someone as powerful as you would stick with someone who only hinders him from reaching his full potential... but to tell you the truth... if I really thought about it, I could. I could understand. I won’t tell you why, because deep down, I think you know too. But I will say this. do have the potential. Everyone has seen it in you. I know you have the confidence to lead your own unit. All you need is the desire.”


“Don’t ‘b-but’ me. Stop acting dumb and incompetent. You’re the Commander of the Queen’s Knights! And...afterward, you’ll continue your legendary status in the Brigade. Regardless of whether I’m here or not.”

Richard’s expression suddenly changed to one of absolute sadness. “I-I just...I know...Mueller. I know what’ll happen for me. I was just...afraid. Not of taking on responsibilities, but of not being able to repay my debt to you before...before...”

Mueller shook his head calmly, sighing. “Richard...” He reached out, taking the teenager by the hand. “No matter what you do, you’ll never repay the debt to me. Do you know why? There was never a debt to begin with. You were the one who imposed the debt. I...never expected anything of you...outside of what I’d expect of an ordinary soldier...yet you still returned more than anything I ever did for you. I know you wanted to impress me, and believe me, I was impressed. But I never wanted to let you know. I thought that...if I showed any sign of interest in your’d take that as a reason to stick by me...and never fulfill your own potential. Lucky that didn’t backfire, eh?”

For a moment, the teenager’s spirits were lifted. “Then...all this time, you admit it...? That’s...all I really give something back. Thank you, Mueller...”

“Heh.” A smile appeared briefly on the man’s face. “Don’t...let it go to your head, fool,” he grumbled as he laid his head back. “It’s not’re all that...” With a soft, extended exhalation, he began to close his eyes.

“Mueller...?” Richard said, feeling the man’s grip become loose. “Mueller?” He uttered a barely audible cry of disbelief. “No...” He studied Mueller’s still form for clues to dispel reality--but all he found were eyes that refused to open, a chest that no longer rose with breath...a life that no longer clung to existence. “N-no...” Tears began to flood the boy’s eyes--tears once prevented by the very man he was now shedding them for. “!”

Finally accepting the reality of the situation, Richard threw his head back in despair. Muueeellerrrr! he wailed. “Don’t leave me. Don’t leave meee...!” He gripped Mueller’s limp hand more tightly and brought his head down, sobbing. “Mueller...”

With a bitter face, Wilhelm took Richard by the shoulders and began to pull him back. Richard, however, resisted.

“No!” he shouted, shoving Wilhelm away.


“I said no! Just leave me alone!” With that, he took off, leaving the others to watch as he fled the room.

Silva turned to the scruffy-looking man. “Why didn’t you stop him?”

“Are you kidding?” Wilhelm scoffed. “I don’t even want to get in the kid’s way when he’s in a good mood. And besides, he needs to be on his own, anyway.” His look turned solemn. “He...has to come to terms with everything that’s happened...none of us can make that happen. He’s got to decide that on his own...”

Chapter 16

All That Glitters Is Cold 3 Fanfic Competition

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