The Light Wand and the Ice Blade Chapter 13


By Silveran

After the First Demon War where the sprites’ hero, Hodgepodge, had united them, the sprites decided to separate into seven tribes each representing their own element to keep watch over Filgaia.

The Fire tribe, led by a female sprite named Pyra, lived in the ruins of Volcannon Trap where they felt at home near its fires. Some of the characteristics of these sprites were their red and orange coats, matching that of their fires. They also had flames at the end of their tails, very unique to their tribe. But they were widely known for their fiery temper. Fires sparkle in their eyes and their flame tail would flare up. One would know the extent of their anger by the size of the flame. Rumor has it that they could also spit fire from their mouths but no one---Sprite, Human, and Elw---have ever seen this and it just remains that, a rumor.

The Fire’s counterpart, the Water tribe, led by another female by the name of Ida, lived in the Dragon Shrine beneath the Strait of Rosetta where the vortex was once located. It is here that they could listen to the currents and waves of both the Inner Sea and Outer Ocean. These are the only sprites that could breathe underwater and are powerful swimmers. They blended perfectly in their watery environment with their dark blue coats and rudder-like tails. Unlike the quick-tempered nature of their fiery counterpart, these sprites have the personality of water; they take everything in stride but they could be as violent as the rapids. And the destructive force of water is well known. Water is also known for its remarkable healing properties and so these sprites are very adept at healing.

Water is also used in creation, which leads to the next tribe, Earth. The land cannot be sustained without life-giving water. And the Earth sprites know this so they live near the Water tribe, in the Forest Mound slightly southeast of Rosetta Town. The Earth sprites had long admired the work of the Elw girl, Mariel, in trying to restore the land and so they had helped her in secretive ways. They would watch her plant some seeds and water them with care. When she was gone, they would help cultivate the seeds with their own earthen powers since they were fine-tuned to the land.

Lindol, a large sprite that towered over most sprites, led these green sprites. He was bulkier than most but then that was the characteristic of his tribe. The Earth sprites are the biggest when it comes to size compared to all the other tribes, relying more on brawn than brains. Though they lack intelligence, they hear the cries of the land and they try everything in their power to restore it. Their ears could hear the slight rumbles of the earth beneath them and the leaf-like tips of their tails could sense where water is located in the ground.

Where the Earth sprites can predict an earthquake, the Thunder sprites can predict when a storm is coming. Kima, a very unstable female sprite, lead this dangerous clan. The Thunder sprites are very unpredictable just like their element. They could be calm one minute, then they would explode the next. They seem to be constantly conducting electricity through their purple coated bodies, a small ball of lightning at the tip of their tails and thunder crackling at the end of their paws every few seconds. They mostly quarreled among themselves. The constant rumbling heard in the mountainous region surrounding the Dead Sanctuary is mostly due to their fights, not the dark clouds in the sky.

But what would make a storm more powerful is the wind. The Tribe of Wind lived quite far from their thunderous brethren. The Mountain Pass, where dangerous winds blow through, was home to Hanpan’s clan. Most of his clan shared his characteristics of being curious, knowledgeable, and a little arrogant but then that was the characteristic of a Wind Mouse.

The Wind Sprites listened to the wind, listened to its messages. They could also smell danger floating in the air from afar. These speedy creatures think light on their feet when it comes to danger. In the words of their leader, speed and wit are their forte.

The last two tribes, though, share most of the common characteristics of the other clans. The Holy Tribe and Evil Tribe are as different as night and day, black and white, shadow and light. Where the Holy Tribe relied on wisdom for victory, the other relied on pure power.

The Holy Tribe, led by a sage white sprite named Puraw, lived near the forest of Baskar Village. The clan consisted mostly of elders who would listen to all complaints with a very calm demeanor. Judgment was always fair and wise, eliciting no complaints from the rest of the tribe. They live a slow and peaceful existence, gaining new knowledge in the process.

The Evil Tribe, however, were a dominating tribe. Led by Dakes, these sprites were the purest of evil. Their black coats and white eyes were a testament to their black hearts. They lived in or near the Ancient Arena, located on an island just opposite to that of the Holy Tribe. These sprites reveled in the fights of the Arena, reveled in the excitement of the bloodthirsty crowd. It seemed as they fed on the negative side of the humans crowding the Arena. Yet, given their destructive nature, they still remained loyal to Filgaia. Though they could join the demons in conquering their world, they could not for the demons were not of their world. The Evil sprites could only feast on the negative side of creatures native to Filgaia---Sprites, Humans, Guardians, and Elws.

With all the different characteristics of the different tribes, how did Hodgepodge manage to unite them against the demon threat a thousand and twenty years ago? No one knew for certain but they honor him every ten years by assembling in the same exact place where he united them. They called this important event, Diwata, a gathering of all the sprites in the world.

Ten years has passed and Diwata has begun.

Tucked away deep in the mountains south of Yard lies a small valley. What was once a green and luscious valley surrounded by forest covered mountains and flowing rivers, was now a dried up husk. The path to the valley has long been blocked and inaccessible, the location of the valley forgotten in the course of time.

A village used to reside in this valley when Filgaia was still a green and fertile land. The inhabitants of this valley traded what their surrounding forests had to offer for the things the sea had to offer in Yard. Yard and the village, Durgon, lived harmoniously and complemented each other.

But, alas, during the invasion the villagers lost their forests and so could not live in the valley any longer. They left their valley, their way of life behind, for a new life down in Yard. It was hard for them to leave but they were willing to learn the new way of life by the sea.

And so the valley was abandoned, giving way for the elements to do with it as it wished. Rivers became dry and the forest died slowly until nothing was left of this little paradise. Nothing resided in this small valley, not even the birds nested there. The only signs of life the valley had shown come every ten years.

The Sprites would gather in a corner of the hidden glade for their Diwata, where a shallow riverbed ran on one side and the mountains on the other. On the mountain’s rocky face there stood out a small ledge, a ledge that has come to be well known among the Sprites for this is the ledge that the legendary Hodgepodge had spoken from. That is where he had stood as the Sprites had gathered below him to listen to his sayings during the war.

And now the Sprites had gathered below that ledge to pay homage to him and to strengthen their unity with one another.

It has been a week since Diwata had officially begun.

Hanpan walked among his tribe’s huts, troubled by this year‘s Diwata. The last Diwata was a very peaceful and enjoyable gathering where it was mostly fun and games. This time, however, it’s different.

The other sprites sensed danger looming in the air. His tribe could feel it in the wind; the other tribes could feel it in their respective elements as well. This Diwata had a serious note to it much like the time during the First Demon War.

Hanpan sighed as he looked up at the mountain, particularly at the ledge where Hodgepodge had spoken from, uniting the sprites under the turmoil of war. Will it happen again? Will war break out like the first time or will it be subtle like the last time? Whatever the case may be, he’ll be sure to fight it if no one was willing to.

Hanpan laughed at that thought. He had always thought himself as a coward but after meeting Jack and later, Rudy and Cecilia, that attitude changed. Though he could not fight their battles, he was able to help them in some ways as in picking up treasure that was out of reach or imparting knowledge that he knew about various ruins. And he was glad to have helped them in some way. He was also proud to call them friends.

Not many sprites have any contact with humans. As a matter of fact, he was the only living sprite that had come into contact with humans. He knew that Dakes’ tribe feast on negative human emotions but they haven’t really come out and talk with them.

Hanpan sighed. In truth, they were afraid of them. At the mere sight of a human approaching, they would scamper and hide just like ordinary mice. That irked him somewhat. They would run and hide like animals but the fact of the matter is, they weren’t animals.

They were sprites, intelligent beings that could have a normal conversation with any human.

Hanpan shook his head in resignation as he headed towards the clearing in the middle of the camp. It was almost time for the Tribe’s Council.

The Tribe’s Council was a meeting between the chiefs of the seven tribes. It was held out in the open as a sign to their people that they are welcomed to listen and to voice their opinions. This was Diwata, after all. It would show unity and support among all tribes.

Hanpan reached the open space and saw that the old mouse, Puraw, was already seated, patiently awaiting the arrival of the others. The wind mouse quietly made his way towards the holy mouse. Upon closer inspection, he saw that Puraw had his eyes closed and his paws crossed over his chest. Probably meditating, Hanpan thought as he quietly sat down as to not disturb the holy mouse.

Puraw cracked open an eye to see who had arrived. The wind chief sat at his right side staring straight ahead. “You seem troubled,” the old mouse stated as he closed his eye.

Hanpan almost jumped out of his fur upon hearing the humbled voice of the holy chief. He just looked at the old mouse for a minute then averted his gaze. “These are troubled times, Puraw,” he murmured. “The wind is telling me some troubling things.”

“You sense that too, eh?” Puraw nodded. “Powers long since dead are beginning to awaken. Be it good or evil, I don’t know. This is a serious matter to discuss with the others.” Hanpan nodded in agreement and both sat in solemn silence.

Soon the other chiefs began to arrive and take their respective seats to form a circle in the middle of the camp. Hanpan saw by the look on their faces that he wasn’t the only one that felt distressed. Even Dakes, who had a reputation of being disruptive and taunting, had a dour look on his face in contrast to the smirk he always wore.

“Surprising, isn’t it?” a voice asked at Hanpan’s right.

The wind chief turned to see Ida. “What is?” he returned curiously.

The dark blue female sprite motioned her head towards the evil chief. “Dakes,” she replied. “I’ve never seen him so dismal before. Every Diwata he would always be talking about the battles that took place in the Ancient Arena with much enthusiasm. But now look at him. He’s actually quiet for a change and that smirk of his is gone.”

“As it should be,” Hanpan said. “These are troubling times, Ida, and it’s no laughing matter.”

Suddenly, all talking ceased as Puraw stood up. “It’s time for the Tribe’s Council to begin,” the old mouse announced as he looked at each sprite present.

The holy chief was the appointed leader during these meetings. His wisdom and patience makes him the perfect candidate. These two attributes were very important in settling the differences between the tribes.

The other chiefs also respected him. He was the oldest living sprite and as the old adage goes, wisdom comes with old age.

Now they all look up to him as they waited for him to continue.

“Fellow chiefs,” the old mouse began, “as you know, this Diwata is like no other. Perilous times are upon us. The question is how are we going to face this danger? Join the humans like in the first war or send a representative like in the second?”

“Hey!” Hanpan squeaked. “I wasn’t really a representative! Jack stumbled into me while I was exploring a ruin. And you can say things picked up from there. No one sent me to help humans. I accidentally came in contact with them.”

“And that suits you for the job,” Pyra declared. She then turned to the old one. “I say we send Hanpan again. It’ll be easier for one sprite to work than the whole seven tribes.”

Puraw stroked his whiskers in thought. “So you want to send Hanpan. Anyone else wants to have a say in this?”

“I agree with Pyra,” Kima replied with a certain crackle in her thunderous voice. “I believe this demon threat is just like the last. No sense in sending out an army of sprites.”

“I believe that too,” Lindol agreed. “I’ve sensed that only one city has been attacked.”

Hanpan’s expression darkened at the mention of that. He had sensed it too, living so close to that very same city. It seemed that the demons’ opening move was to always attack that city first. And this caused Hanpan to be doubly concerned.

He knew that Cecilia was very skilled in magic but her last encounter with the demons wasn’t very successful. And if it wasn’t for Jack, she could have very likely died. Now he wondered if she was all right after that attack last week. He wondered if Jack or Rudy had been with her during that attack and had helped her repel the demons.

Puraw’s voice snapped him back to reality.

“It seems that everyone is agreeing to send Hanpan back out into the world,” stated the sage mouse. “But we must put this to a vote. Those in fa---”

“That won’t be necessary,” Hanpan interrupted.

All eyes turned to him. Hanpan stood up and addressed the council. “I’ve decided to go. I had planned to go anyway with or without your approval. Besides,” he added with a grin, “I have a feeling that you want me to go and I can’t blame you for feeling that way.”

There was a collective sigh of relief within the circle. “Very well, Hanpan,” Puraw nodded. “Now with that settled, are there any more issues that need to be brought up in Tribe’s Council?”

The other chiefs murmured among themselves. Then one by one they shook their heads. Puraw nodded. “Very well. I bring this meeting to a close.” Everyone stood up and went back to their respective tribes.

Hanpan followed the example of his fellow chiefs but stopped when he heard the old one call his name. He turned and saw Puraw standing sagely behind him. “What is it?” he asked.

“I think it’s best that you leave as soon as possible,” the old mouse replied as he stroked his whiskers. “You have a destination in mind?” Hanpan nodded. “That’s good,” the old one said then cracked a smile. “I’m sure you’re eager to return to your friends after all these years.”

Hanpan lowered his head. “I’m worried,” he said softly. Puraw gave him a curious look. “These demons,” the wind mouse continued with a frown, “these demons are different from the others.” He looked up at Puraw. “They’re stronger, faster, and probably invincible though I pray to the Guardians that they are not. One of my friends nearly died at their hands. That’s why I’m worried; worried for their safety.”

The old sage nodded in understanding. “Then you should make your preparations now. You’ll probably see your friends by nightfall if you leave now.” Hanpan nodded and turned to leave.

He went to his tribe and saw that they were gathered to hear what had transpired in Tribe’s Council. “So what happened?” one asked when their chief had joined them.

Hanpan took a deep breath before answering. “I’m leaving,” he simply answered and paused to let the news sink in. When the commotion died down, he continued. “The Tribe’s Council decided to send a representative to aid the humans in this battle.” He wouldn’t call this a war since no huge battles are taking place.

“Why you?” a fellow tribesman demanded.

“Because I’m the only sprite that has been in contact with humans,” Hanpan replied.

“He probably wants to go to them,” the wind mouse heard someone said derisively but he ignored it.

“Remember that this is for the good of Filgaia,” Hanpan reminded them. “Hodgepodge himself,” he pointed at the ledge, “told us sprites to watch over the world and help during times of need. Does anyone deny that?” He heard muttered no’s among the tribe.

“Good!” Hanpan beamed. “I’m glad you still remember. Now then, in my absence I appoint Kazin as chief.”

The tribe parted as a sleek looking sprite came forward. He was a couple of inches taller than Hanpan and his features were sharp. “It is an honor to serve as chief in your absence,” he bowed. “I will do my best.”

“I know you will,” Hanpan agreed then turned back to the tribe. “Prepare to perform the Wind Dance. I plan to leave as soon as possible.”

The tribe dispersed at that announcement, eager to perform their famed dance, except for one. This young female wind mouse approached her chief a bit hesitantly, unsure if her presence was welcomed. “Um . . . Excuse me . . . Chief . . .?” she called softly.

Hanpan looked at her and smiled. “Yes?” he replied amiably. “What can I do for you?”

“Um . . .” the young sprite began a bit shyly. She wrung her paws, unsure of how to ask her request. “Uh . . . I was just wondering if . . . I . . . could come . . . along . . .? On your journey, that is.”

Hanpan was surprised at this request, his ears perked up and his eyes wide. She wants to come? With me?, he thought then shrugged. It wouldn’t hurt to have a companion and it would give the sprite some experience with humans. He smiled and replied, “Sure! But I have to warn you that there are some dangers in this quest.”

The young sprite beamed, all traces of shyness washed away. “I know that there will be dangers but I don’t mind! Thanks Chief!”

“Please, call me Hanpan,” the wind mouse said. “And you’re name is . . .?”

“Gail!” she replied enthusiastically. “Wow! This is so amazing! I’ve always dreamed of meeting humans ever since you told us your stories about your adventures!”

“Really?” Hanpan said as he rubbed his head. “Well, I’m glad you’re up to it.” The conversation came to an abrupt halt when he noticed the tribe gathering again. “The Wind Dance will be performed in the middle of the meeting ground,” Hanpan announced.

“Ok, Chief!” one exclaimed happily as they all began marching towards the middle.

Hanpan stepped aside as the tribe filed pass him. He then turned to Gail and said, “Shall we go?” He held out a paw towards her as he smiled.

Gail smiled demurely as she took the offered hand. “Ok,” she replied unsure of what else to say. Hanpan gave her a reassuring smile and both went to join the others.

When they reached the clearing, they saw that the other six tribes were gathered as well. He also noticed that his tribe has made the necessary preparations for the ceremony.

Most of the wind tribe stood in a circle in the middle of the clearing. Those who weren’t standing with them were off to the side, holding what looks to be long pieces of wood. But upon closer inspection, one would see that they were wood instruments. One of the musical sprites waved to Hanpan and shouted, “Ready when you are, Chief!”

Hanpan waved back then looked again at Gail. “Ready?” he asked her gently.

Gail looked at him then at the circle then at him again. She was beginning to harbor doubts about her decision to go but she pushed them aside. “Let’s go before I lose my resolve,” she replied softly yet determinedly.

Hanpan nodded and gave her an encouraging smile. He held her paw as they proceeded towards the middle of the circle.

“Who’s the young lady?” Puraw shouted after them as they stood within the circle.

“Her name’s Gail and she’s coming with me,” Hanpan replied. “You don’t mind, do you?”

Puraw shook his head. “No. It ’s good to see young sprites going out into the world. Good luck to you two!” Hanpan nodded and then motioned his tribe to begin the ceremony.

The band of sprites began playing a soft tune that emulated the wind’s song that blew through their home in the Mountain Pass. The circle of sprites began to hop and skip in time to the tune. Their moves were fluent like the wind itself.

Hanpan and Gail waited patiently as they watched the tribe dance to the soothing tune. Hanpan’s ears perked up and twitched slightly as he felt a breeze. He grabbed Gail’s paw and smiled at her. She returned his grin. Both stood ready as that breeze became a gust.

Soon both sprites were hovering above the encampment. They could see the wind tribe still dancing in a circle but the music changed. It now had an urgent tone to it as if asking the wind to hurry with its journey. It was on that tune that the wind changed, blowing the two sprites away from the encampment. They could hear shouts of farewell from the other tribes as they were spirited away along the breeze.

Soon the mountains were gone and the Town of Yard was fast approaching before them. “Where are we going?” Gail asked curiously as she watched the ground beneath her pass by.

“Adlehyde,” Hanpan replied grimly as he stared ahead.

Gail was shocked by the tone of his voice and looked up to see the wind chief staring firmly ahead of him. She wondered at the relationship Hanpan had with his human friends to cause him to be resolute. That thought would have to wait until they reach their destination.

For now, though, she was content to be just soaring across the sky.


Razan and Valta looked around in wonder at the strange place they had arrived from the tower. “What is this place?” Valta whispered.

“This must be Malduke,” Razan replied as he walked around, studying everything in sight.

“But where is this Malduke?” Valta questioned as he slinked on all fours. “It felt like we were teleported far above the world of Filgaia to the stars.” He then growled as he asked a bit angrily, “Are we in space again? It is the last place I want to be in!” They had traveled through space for the past millennia and the notion of returning to it sickened him.

“There’s only one way to find out,” Razan answered unawares of his companion’s trepidation as he started climbing a set of stairs to explore the rest of Malduke.


Bow sat on a chair in the control room as he stretched his arms and yawned. “How long will it be until we reach that crater?” he asked.

“It will take the whole day,” Seth replied as he leaned against his chair staring at the monitor screen. “This fortress wasn’t built for speed.” He stared idly at the screen where birds and clouds flew by.

The sky was beginning to turn to shades of pink and purple, an indication of another day drawing to a close. The thin clouds only accented the colors, giving it a scenic look. It looked like something a painter had painted and that made the demons feel disgusted.

“I can’t wait until the sky would be lit with flames from the destruction and death we’ll bring,” Bow muttered as he fingered the string of his weapon.

Seth only nodded in agreement.


Jane stood in front of the mirror in her guestroom of Adlehyde Castle, staring at her reflection as she tried to fix her hair with her blue ribbon. “Doggone it!” she cursed as she untied the ribbon for the umpteenth time. “My hair doesn’t seem to want to cooperate tonight!”

“And Rudy will be here any minute,” McDullen added placidly as he took the ribbon from Jane’s hands and started fixing her hair.

As soon as he finished that statement, there came a knock on the door. “Jane, are you ready? It’s almost time for dinner,” a voice called.

“In a minute!” Jane exclaimed then to McDullen, “Hurry up McDullen!”

“But I thought you wanted to look your best for the Knight Captain,” McDullen countered as he tied the ribbon around her hair. “There you go!” he said when he finished. “You look splendid!”

“Thanks,” Jane muttered as she looked over herself one last time. She was still wearing her usual pink dress. In their haste to carry the message of the Photosphere to their friends, they forgot to bring extra clothes but she didn’t forget to bring her trusty ARM. She was about to pick it up when McDullen stopped her.

“Remember the king’s order of no weapons,” the steward reminded her.

“Right,” the former bounty hunter murmured. She then turned to McDullen. “How do I look?” she asked him.

“As your usual self, milady,” McDullen dully replied as he moved to the door. “Shall I let the Knight Captain in?” Jane took a deep breath and nodded. McDullen opened the door and Rudy entered.

He was wearing his Knight Captain uniform, minus the sash and weapons. Jane stared dreamily at Rudy. “My, my aren’t we looking charming tonight!” the Knight Captain greeted as he went over to Jane. “Are you ready to go, my lady?” he asked politely as he bowed and held out his hand.

“Oh Rudy . . .!” Jane sighed dreamily as she took Rudy’s offered hand.

Rudy took her hand and linked his arm with hers. He then turned to the steward. “Coming McDullen?”

The steward shook his head. “No, sir,” he replied. “I’m too old for this. I’ll just pick something up from the kitchen.”

“All right, McDullen,” Rudy said, “it’s up to you.” He then looked down at Jane and asked, “Shall we be going?” Jane clung onto Rudy’s arm in answer as he led them away towards the dining hall.

McDullen poured himself a cup of distilled wine. “I swear they look like a married couple,” he whispered before downing the drink.


“Zex!” Zed called as he knocked on his son’s bedroom door. “It’s time for us to leave. Are you ready yet?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” his son replied as he opened the door. “I feel funny in these clothes,” he whined as he shut the door to his room. He wore a white long-sleeve blouse, black slacks with a black belt that had a golden buckle, and shiny black shoes with black socks. His hair was combed in a fashion that befits him of a perfect gentleman, the bandanna that he normally wears, gone. The boy sighed as he walked over to his mother who was sitting patiently by the table in front of the doorway.

Rosa felt her son’s appearance and smiled. “You feel like a perfect gentleman but now you have to act like one,” Rosa instructed. Zex grumbled as he fidgeted in his awkward clothing.

“You’re not the only one that feels funny,” Zed griped as he pulled on the sleeves of his blue coat. He wore blue dress pants that went with the coat and black loafers. His hair, which was usually disheveled, was combed straight giving him a slick look. He brushed back his hair as he mumbled, “This is my first formal dinner and I’m beginning to dislike it.”

Rosa laughed softly. “We have no choice in the matter,” she smiled. “We’re honored guests of the king, remember?” She then stood up from her seat and held a hand out. “Let’s get going. We don’t want to be late.”

Zed took her hand and linked it with his arm. “You look beautiful,” he whispered into her ear as they went out from their house with Zex closing the door.

Rosa blushed slightly as she leaned her head against her husband’s shoulder. She wore a blouse just like Zex’s with a vest that matched the color of her hair. A gray skirt flowed down to her ankles and white sandals covered her feet. “Why, thank you Zed dear!” she exclaimed as they carefully climbed the steps to the gates of the great castle.

Zed only nodded as they made their way into the castle. They stopped for a moment at the courtyard, gazing up at the ancient building with its banners gently waving in the evening wind. “I’ve never realized how huge this place is,” Zex whispered as he looked at the tall spires. “Which reminds me, do you know where the dining hall is, dad?”

Zed scratched his head. “Now that you mention it, I don’t know,” he said. “This is a huge place. I hope we don’t get lost looking for it.”

“We won’t get lost,” Rosa spoke, “because we’re already near it. There’s a door to the northwest, yes?”

Both father and son looked dumbly at the woman then they looked at the direction she pointed. Sure enough, there was a door there. “I can hear some pots boiling and ladles stirring. There’s also a delicious odor coming from that direction. Can’t you smell it?”

Zex perked up at the mention of food as he sniffed the air. His mother was right! There was food wafting from that direction. “Let’s go!” he exclaimed as he started running towards the door.

“Slow down, Zex!” Zed called after him. “Remember your manners!” His son didn’t listen to him as he disappeared into the doorway. Zed sighed as he and Rosa followed their son into the kitchen.

The couple stopped behind their son who just stood where he was staring in awe at all the food that adorned the three tables in the kitchen. “I’ve never seen so much food in my life!” he whispered in amazement.

“You can say that again,” Zed agreed as he too stared in amazement. As his gaze panned the kitchen, he stopped when he saw two figures emerge from the northeast doorway.

It was Rudy and Jane.

The couple entered the kitchen oblivious to the sights and sounds around them. It’s when they were near Zed and his family did Jane stop staring at Rudy and hissed. “You!” she growled at the demon.

“Nice to see you too,” Zed returned as he smiled nervously. “You here for dinner?”

Jane snorted as she turned her head away. “You’re lucky that I don’t have my ARM with me at this moment.”

“What have you got against my dad anyway?” Zex asked angrily. “He’s a gentle man that wouldn’t harm anyone unless they provoke him to.”

Jane looked down at the boy. “Well, kid, you really don’t know your adopted father really well then.”

Rudy then whispered into Jane’s ear, “Jane, Zex is really Zed’s son. Note the woman next to him.”

Jane stared at the woman as the blind lady spoke. “Zex is really our son,” she informed Jane as she held Zex close. “Maybe everything will be straightened out at dinner. There you can hear our story, Miss Maxwell. And accept Zed as friend, not foe.”

Jane shrugged. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a heart wrenching story or whatever, but I’ll never accept a demon as friend. Let’s go Rudy.” She turned towards him but the Knight Captain looked at her straight in the eye.

“Am I any different from Zed?” he asked her seriously. “We’re both made of Living Metal . . .”

“But you fought on our side,” Jane interrupted, “while he fought with the other demons.”

“That’s true,” Rudy nodded, “but without my grandfather’s teachings, I would be a killing machine just like Zed was when he was with the other demons. Rosa helped him change his ways just like my grandfather did to me. Do you understand, Jane?”

“Whatever,” Jane muttered. “All I understand is a demon’s a demon and a Holmcross a Holmcross.”

“If you’re still bitter about our meeting in the Photosphere,” Zed interrupted, “then I apologize and ask for your forgiveness.”

Jane was surprised by Zed’s display of humbleness. A demon! Asking for forgiveness! She was beginning to change her view on Zed but only a little. “I’ll see if you do deserve my forgiveness after I hear your story,” she replied haughtily. “Let’s go Rudy.” She urged the Knight Captain to lead her to the dining hall.

Rudy sighed. It seemed that the dinner meeting was given a bad start already.


Jack sat besides the bed where Cecilia slept peacefully. He covered one of her hands as he remembered the little scuffle that took place in the garden during lunch and the aftermath.

Cecilia had exhausted herself and was too weak to walk back to the castle on her own. His son had to carry her back to their room and had laid her on the bed where she had been ever since.

When Bedwin found out what had happened, he had yelled at them. “How could you let this happen to her?!” he had shouted. He and the royal family were out in the hall in front of the royals’ bedroom where Cecilia was sleeping. “She’s not yet fully recovered!” he had continued unabated. “You want her to relapse into another coma?! Whose idea was it to bring her to the garden?!”

The royal family had looked at each other then the prince had stepped forward. “It was mine,” he had replied boldly. “But it was her choice whether to come or not and she chose to come.”

“The walk itself did not weaken her,” the king had added. “It looked to strengthen her a bit. And it certainly lifted up her spirit.”

“Oh?” Bedwin had raised an eyebrow questioningly. “Then explain why she looked so winded and weak.”

The king then had explained everything to Bedwin, who was not pleased with the report. The doctor was bold enough to give Jack and his children a warning before leaving.

Jack’s mind returned to the present as he sighed and looked at his wife’s peaceful face. He would have to learn to curb his tongue as to not invoke her anger. He then snapped his head towards the door when he heard a knock.

“Father?” Cecil called. “Are you ready? It’s time for dinner.”

Jack sighed again as he slowly stood up. He then bent over and kissed Cecilia’s forehead. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, feeling guilty. If it weren’t for him, Cecilia would have been well enough to accompany him to dinner.

He straightened up and took his crown, which was resting on the dresser. He gazed at it pensively before placing it around his head. Then he took one last look at Cecilia and patted her hand before answering his son’s call.

Cecil was about to knock again when the door cracked open. His father stepped out in all his regal glory.

For the occasion, Jack had donned his most formal of all his attires or what he deemed to be the most formal. He wore a simple white shirt beneath a blue jacket trimmed in gold followed by white pants that ran down to his ankles and were tucked into his black ankle-high boots as was his habit. The emblem of a horsehead was on the upper left of his jacket stitched in gold. A blue sash made of silk went about his waist, the ends tied to one side and hanging down. Finally, a cape of white was draped over his shoulders and ran down his back, his hair tied loosely behind with a blue ribbon. The crown he wore about his head only accentuated his prominent look.

Cecil stared at his father in awe. He couldn’t believe that the man standing in front of him was his father but an entirely different person altogether.

Jack smiled at his son’s reaction. “Too flashy for you?” he queried.

The prince suddenly realized that the man had spoken to him and also realized, much to his embarrassment, that the man was his own father. “I’m sorry, father,” he apologized awkwardly as he rubbed his head. “It’s just that this is the first time I’ve ever seen you wear such clothing. If I had known you were being this formal, I would have chosen my clothing with more care.”

Jack took a quick look at his son. Cecil wore a white tunic with a blue sash tied about his waist followed by blue pants and the black boots he always favored. His hair was tied back to a ponytail unlike the king. Jack thought it was simple at best.

“You look fine,” the king smiled reassuringly. “I would have worn the same thing if I weren’t the king. Remember that I’m playing host tonight so it would be best to dress up for the occasion, right?”

Cecil smirked and said, “Then it’s a good thing I’m not the king. And it’s a good thing I’m not inheriting the position. Jill is better handling the job than I am.”

Jack clapped his son on the back as he laughed. “Well, we just have to remedy that somehow now do we?” he teased jovially as he led his son away from the door and towards the stairs. “You know, we’re still looking for a Minister. Maybe you’ll be perfect for the position.”

“Father!” Cecil exclaimed indignantly. “Am I to be my sister’s keeper then?”

“What do you mean by that?” a gentle voice asked from the stairs.

Both men turn to see Jill emerge from the stairwell and smiled at her presence. “It’s nothing,” Cecil replied then quickly changed the subject. “You look beautiful tonight,” he said as he looked over her dress.

His sister wore a white blouse beneath a blue jacket with cuffs of white lace. A thin ruffled skirt of blue flowed down to her ankles followed by white sandals. Jill smiled and curtsied at the two. “Well, thank you for the compliment, brother,” she said as she straightened. “But I do believe it’s time for dinner. We don’t want to keep our guests waiting especially if our guests include a half-demon child.”

“Ah, yes,” Cecil murmured thoughtfully as he remembered the boy’s eating habits.

“Then we don’t want to delay things any further,” Jack declared as he limped towards the stairs.

Jill moved to the side as her father passed by then recognized something different about him. Being the observer she was, she realized that her father was limping without the aid of his cane. “Father,” she called and when he turned, she continued. “Where’s your cane?”

“Does it matter?” Jack countered and when the twins didn’t answer, he turned back and began limping down the stairs carefully.

Jill looked at Cecil, who just shrugged and followed after their father. After a few moments, Jill likewise followed.


Rudy sighed as he idly spun a fork between his fingers. He listened vaguely to the heated conversation between Jane and Zed.

“Can you just leave me alone?” Zed begged frustratingly. “I’ve never done anything to you.”

“But your kind did!” Jane countered harshly. “Once a demon, always a demon. Who knows when you’ll return to your wicked ways.”

“But I won’t!” the demon replied, pounding a fist onto the table, rattling the silverware. “When will you understand that? When will you learn to accept me like the others? They’ve forgiven me for my past actions. When will you?”

“Forgive you? Hah! That’s a joke!” Jane snickered. “I’ll forgive you once you’re dead!” Even though she didn’t have her ARM with her, she would find some way to kill him. She glanced down at the table and saw her knife. Not really her weapon of choice, she grabbed it anyway and was about to lunge at Zed when a loud booming voice stopped her.

“That’s enough!”

Rudy dropped his fork and stood rigidly up out of habit whenever he heard that type of voice. Zex saw his example and urged his mother to stand as he, too, stood. Zed and Jane were frozen in place, the latter poising for a strike. The Knight Captain turned and bowed towards the door. “Your majesty,” he greeted.

Jack stood at the door with his two children behind him. The king wore a frown as he gazed at the scene before him. He then looked at Rudy, an eyebrow raised in uncertainty, and said, “Well, Knight Captain? Why is Jane holding her knife in a threatening manner? Isn’t it supposed to be used for dining?”

Rudy blinked in confusion. Jack just stared at him. It took a while for the blue-haired knight to realize that the king wanted him to remove the knife from Jane’s hand. “Yes, of course!” he exclaimed.

Jack nodded and walked towards the head of the table followed by his children while Rudy forcefully removed the knife from Jane’s hand. The king took his seat at the head of the table with Cecil to his right and Jill to his left.

As the royal family sat down, the others resumed their seats as well. Rudy sat by Jill followed by a scowling Jane Maxwell. Zed sat by Cecil followed by Rosa and lastly, Zex. Jack looked at his guests and noticed a couple of people were missing. “Where’s McDullen?” he asked Rudy. He would have asked Jane but saw that she was in a foul mood.

“He decided to stay back saying that he was too old for this sort of thing,” the Knight Captain replied. “It won’t affect the meeting, will it?”

“No.” The king shook his head. “But we are still missing one other person. While we wait for her to arrive, why don’t you help yourselves with some bread, fruit, and wine?” He indicated the bowls and pitcher that held the said items.

“All right!” Zex exclaimed as he took a roll of bread.

While Zex was busying himself with the food, the others could feel the tension in the air as Jane continued to glare at Zed.

Zed squirmed a little at that glare, hoping that the mystery guest and dinner will arrive soon.


It was nightfall when Hanpan and Gail finally reached Adlehyde. Hanpan looked at Gail and asked with a smile, “Are you ready?” Gail nodded and squeezed Hanpan’s paw.

Hanpan returned the squeeze and smiled before looking down. He would have to act quickly or else they would pass the castle. They were now flying above the courtyard. Here we go!, he thought before blowing a shrill whistle.

The wind suddenly slowed and soon both sprites were floating towards the branches of a tree. The wind stopped as they landed on a branch. “Finally made it here in one piece!” Hanpan exclaimed as he dusted himself off then looked at Gail. “How do you feel?”

“A little disoriented from the flight,” she replied, “but my heart is thumping in excitement! I can’t wait to explore this place!”

“You’ll explore it soon enough,” Hanpan agreed. He then looked down from the branch to see a middle-aged woman walking across the courtyard muttering angrily to herself.

“Oh no! I’m already late!” Hanpan heard the woman exclaim softly. The sprite thought that the woman sounded familiar. Only when the woman looked up at the sky for a very brief moment did the wind mouse recognized her.

“Professor Emma!” he squeaked happily as he ran down the tree, momentarily forgetting about Gail in his excitement.

The woman looked towards her left where the voice had come from. She saw a blue ‘something’ running down the tree towards her. It then jumped unto her shoulder. Emma grinned when she recognized the rodent. “Hey mousey!” she greeted. “You’re just in time for dinner!”

“Is that what you’re late for?” Hanpan asked innocently.

The professor nodded. “There’s a dinner meeting with the king to discuss on how to fight these new demons. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss it.”

“That’s why I’m here,” the mouse agreed.

“Don’t you mean ‘we’?”

Both sprite and human turned to see another sprite climbing down slowly from the tree. Gail took her time to reach the ground before approaching them. She then stopped in front of the human and glared up at the sprite sitting on her shoulder. “Aren’t you forgetting someone?” she huffed.

“Oh, Gail!” Hanpan exclaimed a bit guiltily as he remembered. “I’m sorry.”

Gail’s hard expression softened as she smiled up at him. “It’s all right. I know that you are eager to see your friends again.” She then looked hesitantly at Emma and asked politely, “May I jump onto your shoulder too?”

“Sure,” Emma nodded and Gail jumped next to Hanpan. Seeing both sprites comfortable on her shoulder, she began to walk towards the kitchen. “I would introduce myself but we’ll save that for the meeting,” the professor said. “We’re already late.” They passed the knight that was standing guard at the door and entered the kitchen.

The cooks were laying out the course on the tables. There was steamed fish, fried chicken, mash potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls and butter, assorted cakes, bowls of fruits, and . . . bowls of cheese! Both sprites’ mouths began to water when they saw that particular bowl.

“You have to wait for the meal to be served,” Emma declared when she saw the expressions on the sprites’ faces. “The head chef can be really nasty.”

Both sprites sighed. “Oh, all right,” Hanpan agreed echoed by Gail.

Emma nodded and headed towards the dining room. Unbeknownst to the sprites, she was relieved to find out that dinner hadn’t been served yet.


Jack tried to coax the group into a friendly conversation but they would have none of it. Every conversation that began ended up in an argument with Jane desperately trying to find a way of killing Zed by using the things around her. Once she tried to burn the demon by grabbing one of the surrounding torches.

Luckily, Jill extinguished it with a spell. Then she surprised the group when she threatened the former bounty hunter to behave or else she would cast a prison spell on her. That did the job and Jane remained silent. That’s when Jack tried to start a friendly conversation but all was silent.

The king sighed and leaned back against his chair when his fifth attempt of starting a conversation failed. His last guest hadn’t arrived yet and wished they would hurry. He got his wish when he heard someone enter the hall.

“Sorry I’m late!” Emma exclaimed as she walked into the room. She quickly noticed the group’s sullen expressions. “Well, you don’t have to be grouchy about it,” she muttered mistaking her tardiness to be the cause of such expressions.

Jack sighed again as he motioned for Emma to take a seat. As the professor walked to her seat besides Jane, both sprites studied the group. None seemed to notice their presence on the professor’s shoulder.

“Do you know these people?” Gail whispered to Hanpan.

“I don’t know,” Hanpan replied unsure. “Most of them look familiar but somehow they are different. I do sense some familiar auras though.” He then gasped softly in surprise when he recognized Zed among the group.

“What’s wrong?” Gail asked alarmed.

Hanpan looked at her for a moment then replied, “It’s nothing. My mistake.” He didn’t want to frighten her by telling that Zed was a Metal Demon but Hanpan knew that the demon had changed for the better. Gail, on the other hand, might think him and his friends mad for befriending a demon.

Emma took her seat next to the bad-tempered Jane and addressed the group. “I’m truly sorry for my delay,” she apologized again, “but I ran into an old friend of ours.” The professor suddenly became aware of the group’s interest when some of their expressions changed from sullen to curious. Emma smirked then turned to her companion on her shoulder. “Go ahead, mousey,” she whispered. “It’s your show.”

Hanpan was stunned a bit at the announcement. He hadn’t planned on announcing his return to a bunch of people. He felt like he was back at Diwata again where he represented his tribe. Now he is representing his people and must speak for them. He had to also take into account that Gail was watching him.

The wind mouse took a deep breath and jumped down to the table. Before he could utter a greeting, someone had beaten him to the task.

“Hey, Hanpan!” Rudy greeted. Jane muttered something under her breath and Zed nodded towards his direction. Jack remained silent while the rest looked at the sprite curiously.

Hanpan turned to the person who had greeted him. “Rudy!” he exclaimed when he recognized the blue-haired man. “It’s nice to see you here! As a matter of fact, it’s nice to see familiar faces again.” He nodded towards Jane, Zed, and Rosa. “Though that scowl isn’t like you, Jane,” the sprite added. The former bounty hunter just snorted in return.

The sprite then looked at the new faces. Next to Rudy was a young woman that looked very much like Cecilia but he sensed that her aura was different from the former princess’. There was a boy, seated next to Rosa, who was preoccupied with the appetizers seemingly unaware of the events around him. Then there was the young man that looked like a carbon copy of Jack in his younger days. Hanpan’s eyes watered as he remembered those days when he had traveled with the trio.

Jack watched his former treasure-hunting partner as he studied each face. He then noticed that the sprite’s stare lingered on his son and knew that Hanpan was seeing himself when he was young.

Hanpan continued to stare at the young man but then turned to the person at the head of the table when he began to address him. “I bid you welcome, Hanpan, to Adlehyde Castle,” the king greeted formally to the wind sprite. “Your presence here is truly appreciated.”

Hanpan looked strangely at the king. His voice sounds very familiar, he mused. He then looked at the king’s aura and gasped, taking a step back in shock. “You---You’re . . .!” he stammered.

Jack smirked. “Come now, Hanpan,” he said. “You shouldn’t be too well surprised. It was your advice, after all, for me to tell Cecilia how I felt.”

“But I thought you wouldn’t take it seriously!” the sprite protested quickly overcoming his surprise.

The king waved a dismissive hand. “That’s all in the past now,” he said, “and we’ll catch up on old times later. Right now, you’re here for another purpose; the same purpose of why we’re gathered here.” The king waved a hand that encompassed everyone on the table.

“And now since all of my guests have arrived,” Jack declared, “it’s time for us to start the meeting. I believe introductions are in order for the benefit of everyone in this room. As you know, I am King Jack Adlehyde. To my right is my son, Cecil,” the prince gave a nod, “and to my left is my daughter, Jill.” The princess smiled at the mention of her name.

“Knight Captain Rudy Roughnight in the blue hair and besides him is retired bounty hunter, Jane Maxwell,” Jack continued. “Next to Jane is Professor Emma, head of the E.I.A., that I hope will be reinstated.” Even though it wasn’t a question, Emma nodded.

“To my right, next to Cecil we have Zed, Rosa, and their son, Zex,” Jack finished.

Hanpan listened patiently as he matched names with faces. Of course, he recognized Rudy, Jane, Zed, and Rosa and he had already met Professor Emma out in the courtyard. He was surprised to find out that Rudy was the Knight Captain of Adlehyde Guard and that Jane was retired. Then there was the matter of Zed and Rosa’s son, Zex. But what intrigued him the most were the prince and princess.

As he had noticed before, they were carbon copies of their parents. Almost. Their aura was quite different from Jack and Cecilia’s. They were familiar yet . . . stronger, radiant like beacons of light shining through the darkness. And Filgaia needed those beacons of light to shine through the darkness that is once again covering the land. Hanpan had no doubt in his mind that these two will accomplish the task that their parents could not.

The sprite then bowed after the introductions were finished and said, “It’s nice to meet everyone, old and new alike.” He then straightened up and continued. “As most of you know, I am Hanpan and,” he smiled, “I did not come alone.” He then turned to Gail, who was sitting on Emma’s shoulder, and motioned her to the table.

Gail was a bit hesitant at first but Emma and Hanpan encouraged her with their smiles. She smiled back and jumped down to the table, landing nimbly by Hanpan’s side. “This,” Hanpan began motioning to the sprite standing besides him, “is Gail. She’s a friend who decided to come with me.”

Gail smiled demurely as she bowed. “It’s a pleasure meeting you,” she said in a soft voice.

“The pleasure is ours,” Jack said speaking for everyone in the room. “It’s nice to know another sprite besides Hanpan. You are welcomed here as much as Hanpan or any other sprite.”

Gail again bowed and said, “I thank you, your majesty.”

Jack nodded then looked at the group as a whole. “Now that all are gathered here---”

“All?” Hanpan interrupted. “Aren’t we forgetting someone?” He looked around the table again to see if he was mistaken. When he saw no empty chairs, a sense of dread filled his belly. “Jack, where’s Cecilia?” the sprite asked anxiously.

A dark cloud seemed to pass over the group as an eerie silence ensued. The crackling of the torches and Zex’s munching were the only sounds that pervaded the silence. Hanpan didn’t like the implication of it. He thought the worse.

But his fear was partially dispelled when Jill spoke softly, “Mother is unable to make it to dinner due to someone’s insensitive tongue.” She glared at her father who just smiled nervously.

So they still argue, Hanpan mused remembering their arguments when they had traveled together. But the sprite reasoned that was not the only reason why Cecilia hadn’t shown up for dinner when he saw Cecil’s dark expression. Something had happened during that attack he sensed a couple weeks ago but he would find out in due time. Right now, they had to concentrate at the task at hand: how to defeat these invaders.

“I see,” Hanpan said then shrugged and smirked. “I guess old habits die hard, right Jack?” Before the king could reply, the sprite clapped his paws together. “Well, let’s get this meeting started! It’s what we’re here for, after all.”

Jack was grateful for the change of subject. “Yes,” the king agreed. “I believe Rudy should begin with a report on their week’s journey.”

Rudy coughed and said, “Yes, of course.” The Knight Captain took a deep breath then spoke of what had transpired during the past week. He begun his report in their first destination: Curan Abbey. There he explained about the interpretation of the Prophecy, as it is now called, and how it led them to believe that they must obtain the Guardian Blade to help battle these powerful demons. Rudy also said that Anje had made a copy of the text and had given it to them.

“The text,” the king interrupted, “do you have it with you?”

Rudy looked to Jill and the princess nodded. Fortunately, she had brought the book knowing that it will be needed during the meeting. “Here, father,” she said as she gave the small blue book to him.

Jack took it and flipped through some of the pages. “Riddles,” he muttered recognizing some of the content.

“Yes, riddles,” Rudy nodded in agreement. “Riddles that led us to the Guardian Shrine, Saint Centour, and back here, to Adlehyde.”

The Knight Captain continued on with his report with their journey to the Guardian Shrine following their stop at the abbey. He explained what the Guardians had conveyed to them about the twins having the power to release their true power and about the ‘rebel’ who shall lead them to the Guardian Blade.

“But we didn’t know who the rebel was at that time,” Rudy continued, “so we stayed in Milama Village to solve that part of the riddle.”

After a few days of analyzing the text, the trio were on their way to Saint Centour but stopped when they saw the Photosphere floating above the Inner Sea. They went to investigate and when they got near, it began to fire beams at them.

“I thought we were going to die right then,” Rudy murmured. “The beams were becoming very accurate. But then Zed appeared and saved us.”

Zed had appeared, floating in front of the Gullwing, deflecting the beams that were aimed at them. Then Seth had appeared and challenged Zed. While the two demons fought, the trio flew to safety towards Saint Centour.

“We were in for another surprise when we reached the deserted town,” the Knight Captain grinned as he glanced at Zex.

A surprise in the form of a small boy swordsman who had threatened them to not enter the town. But then Zed had reappeared and after a quick exchange, the reformed demon had invited them to lunch. For the rest of that day, Zed had played host to his guests but it was during dinner that things became serious.

“Zed had told us of an ancient staff that could help us find the location of the Guardian Blade,” Rudy explained. “And that staff can be found somewhere here in Adlehyde.” He then let out a slow breath and said, “That’s where we are now.”

A silence followed as everyone absorbed the story. Then: “So you need the staff to find the sword,” Jack mused as he stroked his chin. “Interesting but it makes me wonder,” he stopped stroking his chin, “isn’t the Guardian Blade uncontrollable? If it’s needed, who’s going to wield it in battle without losing control of it? I don’t want another Sand Ocean to be created.”

“That’s the surprising thing,” Rudy stated as he leaned back against his chair. “Someone had the power to control it in the first war. And we have a witness to that.” He looked at Zed.

“Yes,” the demon nodded, “there was someone who wielded it. He was the first king of Arctica or so I’ve heard.”

“The . . . first . . . king . . .?” Jack repeated, shocked at the news and Zed nodded again. “How can that be?” the king questioned. “I’ve never heard such a thing while I was serving as a knight in Arctica.”

“Did they even mention who founded the kingdom, father?” Cecil asked. “Did they even know who founded it?”

“Now that you mention it,” Jack said as he leaned back in thought, “no one was well versed in Arctica’s history. The only history we knew dated back only about five hundred years ago.”

“That’s only half of Arctica’s history,” Zed stated. “The latter half.”

“This is another mystery to be solved,” Jill said. “Maybe the text shall provide some answers.”

“And while you’re at it, you can look for a clue on where to start searching for that staff,” said Cecil.

“Of course, brother,” Jill obliged.

“Anyone else wants to comment on the Knight Captain’s report?” Jack asked the group. He then looked at Jane when he heard her grunt. “I assume you want to make a comment, Miss Maxwell,” the king stated rather than asked.

“You bet I do!” she exclaimed angrily, shooting a heated glance at Zed. “The story Rudy gave us proves that a certain someone here is still siding with the demons. Why demon,” she refused to acknowledge Zed’s name, “didn’t you finish off your fellow kinsman? If you were on our side, you would have killed him!”

Zed knew he had to choose his answer wisely if he were to befriend the former bounty hunter. “Because,” he began, his voice ringing loud and confident, “I am better than they are. I was once like them, killing for pleasure and personal gain, but I won’t have that anymore.” He then smiled and said, “You can say that I have been taught the concept of mercy.”

“Mercy, huh?” Jane snorted. “Mercy is for the weak.”

Zed was about to respond but Rudy spoke up first. “No, it’s not,” the Knight Captain objected. “If we weren’t merciful, then this place would be full of hate and sorrow. If I hadn’t been taught mercy, then I would be the same as the demons.” He then looked into Jane’s eyes as he stated, “I am a Holmcross, built in imitation of the Metal Demons’ physiology and strength. I was built to be a killing machine but thanks to my grandfather, Zepet Roughnight, I was taught to use my power of the ARMs to protect. Zed had finally learned the same lesson as well. Both of us were meant for killing but we found that we should use our power for protecting those dear to us. You understand that, don’t you?”

Jane remained silent as the words sank into her heart. All I understand is a demon’s a demon and a Holmcross a Holmcross. Her words came back to haunt her but Rudy had declared that he was the same as a Metal Demon, that he was once built for killing. And he was taught to use his power to protect. Didn’t she too use her ARMs to protect her village of Court Seim?

Now that she thought about it, she remembered seeing both the demon and---she recalled---his son standing in front of the woman with the red hair when she had pulled out her ARM. As if they were protecting her. Jane entertained the thought. Yes, maybe the demon had changed his ways but she was one to play it safe as if she was hunting again. The demon did climb a bit higher in her ladder of friendship but he was still nowhere near where she held the others. He would have to climb very hard to reach the level of Rudy and the others.

Jane then nodded in understanding. “I acknowledge your story, de---I mean, Zed,” she replied a bit forcibly.

“Hey, you called me Zed instead of demon!” Zed smiled. “That’s a start!” The former bounty hunter just grunted in reply.

“I’m glad we have that settled,” Jack stated with a sigh. “Anyone wants to add a comment or are there any more topics to be discussed?”

Emma decided that it was time to give her own report on the improvements being made on the Gullwing. “I think you should know how the Gullwing is doing,” she started.

“Yes, please,” Rudy prompted echoed by the twins.

“I know it hasn’t been a full day,” Emma continued, “but the project seems hopeful.”

“What ‘improvements’ are you talking about, Emma?” Hanpan squeaked curiously.

“Well,” Emma pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose, “Rudy requested to construct a weapons and defense system onto the plane. He said that it would be useful in order to penetrate the Photosphere from the air.”

“And you said the project seems hopeful,” Cecil interjected. “How long do you think it will take to finish this project?”

“That’s the bad news.” Emma took off her glasses and started wiping them with a kerchief. She placed them back on her face and continued. “A month at the least. Maybe more. The defense system I can handle but a weapons system . . . That’s a bit too much. As I have said to Rudy, it’ll be hard implementing ARMs into the Gullwing without a psychic mind to operate them. No previous research has been done on the subject so we’re going through this by trial-and-error. We’re working as fast as we can though.”

Rudy nodded. “As I said, take your time,” he said. “Is that all the news you have so far?”

Emma thought a moment then nodded. “Yes, that’s it so far. I’ll keep you posted on the status of the Gullwing.”

“We’d appreciate it,” Jill said gratefully.

“It seems the war against these demons looks promising,” Jack smiled as he raised his goblet in preparation for a toast. “Let’s drink to a quick end to this war and to a lasting peace in Filgaia.” He then drank followed by everyone else.

“Are there any more comments before I bring this meeting to a close?” Jack resumed.

“Yeah,” Zex replied a bit irritably from the end of the table. “When’s dinner?”

Chapter 14

Wild ARMs Fanfic