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Pick Good Friends (Fantasy Short Story) (Part 1)

Summary: When a school administrator receives a mysterious gem, he doesn't expect any trouble. Hold onto it for a few days and wait for the owner. Unfortunately, life was a way of disagreeing. Between elven mafia, magic cops, and monastic ninjas, it'll be all this man can do just to make it out alive!

"Hand over the gem, in the name of friendship!"

I visibly cringed at the knight in front of me. Sword to my throat or not, that was incredibly painful to listen to.

"Listen, pal, I think there's just been a huge misunderstanding," I said. "I'm just a random bystander."

The knight rolled his eyes.

"Do not take me for a fool. We've been monitoring you since the start. You singlehandedly destroyed the entire knighthood retrieval team in combat. You outfoxed my cousin, widely acknowledged as the greatest negotiator and interrogator in the past five hundred years!"

He stared at me.

"Does that sound like the actions of a random bystander?"

I opened my mouth to reply when a massive explosion rocked the side of my house. Men with bows trained them on me and the royal guard to my side. An elf in a black cloak and a tobacco pipe entered through the hole in my house. His pointy ears twitched lightly.

"Ah, if it isn't the Dagger of Banra himself," he said, staring directly at me. I muttered the nickname and rolled it around in my tongue. When did I get a title?

"I have to admit, sneaking by us like that, truly masterful," he said. "Were we not enemies, I would ask you for training myself."

My eyebrows furrowed in total confusion.

"I think we're a little mixed up here–"

An arrow slipped by my neck.

Oh no, oh no, oh no! I almost died just now! Are you kidding me!? What the heck is even happening right now!? Dad, I'm sorry I didn't just become a farmer like you!

The elf looked at me in surprise.

"Wow, no reaction," he said. "You truly a warrior."

He sighed. 

I choked down the desire to scream at the top of my lungs.

"Nonetheless, I'm afraid I require that gem. It is of elven make and belongs to our people."

I looked at the man in total confusion. My head tilted back and forth at the two parties. In spite of the bows, the knight looked remarkably calm. His sword began to glow with an eerie light.

"I would beg to disagree," he said. "It is property of North Banra. Your disagreements are irrelevant."

The elf spat to the side.

"We're not leaving without that gem."

For a second there was total silence, as the two men stared each other down. I idly looked at the hole in my house. That was gonna be irritating to repair.

A chuckle came from seemingly nowhere.

"The federal guard and the elvish crime syndicate," the voice said. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised."

Thuds echoed as a group of people dropped from the ceiling, surrounding everyone in a circle. They were all dressed in frocks, holding various weapons. I looked back and forth. This was getting more complicated by the second.

The guard's eyes narrowed.

"The Brotherhood?" He said. "Are we not allies? What is the meaning of your actions?"

An older man stepped forward, hands locked on a spellbook.

"We have no quarrel with Banra," he said. "But the gem is too dangerous for petty politicians to hold."

The monk's spellbook began to light up dangerously.

"And besides," he looked at me. "I have a personal score to settle."

Footsteps came from my side. A shadow appeared as someone was coming down the stairs. The person stopped.

"Honey, what's going on? I heard a really loud noise, did Albion go to the bar again?"

"No mom," I called back. "It's just the federal guard, a monkhood, and the elvish mob."

For a second nobody said a word.

"Oh, okay," she said. "Just don't damage the glass."

The shadow disappeared as she walked back up the stairs.

It had started with a package, as these sorts of stories are wont to do. There was no return address. I picked it up and shook it idly, noting a hefty weight to it.

I brought it back to the living room and tore it open with my hand. Inside rested a large red gem. Beside it, a note sat.

I pulled it out and read it aloud.

"Hey Firmin, I know it's been a while, but I need you to hold onto this for a while as I'm currently the target of an international manhunt–What on Thaend?"

I shook my head in confusion.

"Thanks in advance. Your old friend, Elric."

I looked back at the gem and stared at it. Could I make it disappear by glaring at it hard enough? Probably not, but it was worth a shot.

Wait, was it glowing?

After about a minute, I sighed and set the gem in a nearby drawer. 

Elric was a fellow administrator at the academy I worked at. We had gotten to know each other fairly well.

Suffice to say, it was pretty shocking when I found out he was some kind of international master thief. Didn't find out until the federal guard had shown up at the school, asking questions about my old pal.

I scratched my chin. It was odd that of all the people he knew, he picked the random school administrator.

After a second, I shrugged. Elric was an ok guy, career criminal or not. I'd give him a hand this time around.

Having made up my mind, I walked over to the firepit and smashed some flint against a nearby knife. The sparks ignited the already prepared wood and soon enough, a small blaze had appeared. I grabbed a little pot filled with water off a shelf and hung it over the firepit. The shelf creaked ominously.

Probably got to fix that, I thought.

The heat warming me up, I could feel that this was going to be a relaxing day off, weird glowing gem or not. I stretched my back out–

A gleaming silver blade passed directly overhead, just barely shaving off some hair.

"Well, that's new," I said.

I slowly stood back straight and looked to my side. A man in a blackened hood stared at me in visible shock.

"How–" He shook his head. "How did you dodge that?"

"Oh well, you know," I waved my arms around. "Do my stretches, calisthenics. Get a good range of motion and all."

I'm actually going to die. This is not how I was expecting to go.

The man blinked.


He shook his head, the hood falling off.

"You have honored me with your skill, and so I am obliged to return that honor," he said.

He lifted his arm up and twirled his blades in his hands.

"I am Aengus. The Black Shadow, right hand of the Druid's Congregation. I have slain over nine-hundred-ninety-nine targets. You will be my one-thousandth."

He lifted his arms up into a ready stance.

"Prepare yourself!"

Ok, so this dude is out to kill you. Think man, think!

I awkwardly settled myself into an approximation of a fighting stance.

Aengus was a smart person. You don't survive long in this business unless you are.

So when the target in front of him made that stupid excuse for a fighting stance, Aengus knew better. His eyes narrowed as he scanned the obvious openings.

It's a trick, he thought. He plans to lure me in and destroy me.

"I see," said Aengus. "You're a craftier fighter than I thought."

"Uh, thanks?"

He even has the cluelessness down pat! he thought. Truly, a masterful actor!

"You may be fast," Aengus began to step forward. "But can you keep up with this!?"

Aengus started darting around the room at inhuman speeds. To any skilled observer, he appeared to be nothing more than a blur. He leaped off the ceiling, the wall, anything to increase his speed.

The target stood still. After a second, he began to make odd movements with his arms, twirling them in a wide circle.

Aengus trailed the movements with his eyes.

What is this strange form!? Is he doing some kind of magic ritual?

I looked around in confusion. The man had completely vanished. I shrugged and decided to stretch, the stress of the situation having tensed up my muscles.

Ahh, that hits the spot!

There's no time to waste!  thought Aengus. I have to stop him from doing whatever move he's planning!

Aengus leaped forward, his blades at the ready–

The target stretched to the side, causing Aengus to completely miss. Unfortunately, the target had been covering the firepit behind him with his body. Aengus attempted to divert his aim, but he was too late. He landed with a crash into the pot of boiling water.

"Ouch, ouch, ouch!"

Scalding water covered him. In his panic, Aengus stumbled into the rickety shelf, causing a massive amount of pans to whack him in the head.

Aengus placed his hands to his head and clenched his eyes shut. The target–no, the victor–stepped closer.

"Hey, are you okay?" he said. "That was a nasty fall."

Aengus stepped back, blades raised.

"You have defeated me completely," He pulled a small object out of his pocket. "The next time we meet, it will end differently!"

He tossed the object to the ground. Smoke erupted from the object, allowing him to slip away.

"How did it go?"

Aengus grimaced.

"He's far better than we thought. I was completely outmatched."

"What!? How!?"

"His battle perception is unlike any I've ever seen before. He predicted my moves as if I were a machine."

"Battle perception? You don't think he could be...?"

"It's distinctly possible."

"I suppose we'll have to bring out the big guns, huh?"

I looked around, searching for any trace of the weird assassin elf-dude. Finding nothing, I shrugged and put the kettle back on.

I should probably contact someone, maybe get into witness protection?

My water finished boiling and I poured it into a mug. Grabbing a tea bag, I dropped it into the mug and sat back.

I felt my eyes twitched at the arrow embedded in the wall. Just painted that too.

Elric is gonna owe me a fortune for this.

Having relaxed with some tea, I had decided to head outside and try to clear my head before deciding anything. There was a forest outside the city walls where I knew I would be alone.

The walk was quiet. I knew that the area was defended by warriors and monks, so I wasn't particularly afraid.

After having walked for several minutes, I seated myself on a small log.

"Hello there, young man."

I turned my head. An older person in a monk's frock stood before me. His features were wizened yet clear, his eyes sparkling with cleverness.

"Greetings, sir," I responded.

"May I ask what a man such as yourself is doing out here?" he said, seating himself beside me.

I shrugged.

"Basically, I agreed to hold onto a magic gem that someone tried to kill me for, so I'm trying to figure out what to do."

The old man stared at me for a second before blinking.

"Well, I didn't expect you to be quite that forward."

I tilted my head at him.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you've been honest with me, so I will act in return," he said. "I've come to get that gem, actually."

I eyed him warily.

"You aren't planning to attack me or anything?"

The man burst out laughing.

"Goodness no!" He shook his head. "I want to negotiate, like a civilized person."

I let out a breath of relief and nodded.

The older man raised an eyebrow. 

"Say, what happened to the assassin?" he said. "For this gem, you would've been fighting off someone of great renown."

"Yeah, he actually had a title or something. The Black Shadow, I think."

The man's jaw dropped open.

"How did you survive?

"I don't know," I said. "It was kind of a blur."

He shook his head.

"You must be a truly impressive warrior to have survived."

I looked forward awkwardly.

"Uhh, sure, let's go with that."

"So, negotiations?"

I nodded.

"Yeah, I dunno," I said. "Somone trusted me with this gem thing, I don't think I could break his trust."

"Oh?" The man shook his head. "Well, I can't fault one for loyalty."

His hands twitched slightly. I felt a droplet of sweat roll down my back.

"Well, I think I need to get going," I stood up.

"Hold, I have one more question," the old man said.

"What is it?" I said.

"Where did you train?"

He... He wanted to know where I studied as a teacher?

"A bit south of here, in Elsbeth."

His eyes shot open ever so slightly.

"Ah, I see," he said. "Did you know someone by the name of Frederic Salauta?"

One of my earlier students?

"Yes, I took care of him myself, as a matter of fact."

He seemed to disappear then reappear several feet away from me.

This was him. The most notorious assassin in the entirety of Banra.

Frederic Salauta was one of the most famous knights in the kingdom. Renowned for his swordsmanship, he was a one-man army. For years, assassins of the queen had attempted to take his life, but his superior skill allowed him to see it all coming. Poison, blade, bow, nothing worked.

It would take a monster to defeat him, and it was a monster they would get.

Col didn't see the battle itself, but he'd heard of it. He'd heard how almost a quarter of Owlturn forest had been turned to ashes.

For years, every organization in Banra had been hunting the assassin down. Someone that dangerous without any kind of leash? Too much risk.

Now here he was, right in front of Col.

Why would he confess it so simply? Was he that foolish?

No, that wasn't it.

He was confident.

He knew that Col couldn't touch him.

Col gulped down his fear.

A wrong move here would be the end.

"So you're the one, huh?" the old man muttered.

He turned his eyes onto me.

"Tell me, how did you do it? How did you defeat him?"

I tilted my head in confusion. Defeat? I guess he meant how did I teach him?

"I mean, he wasn't that difficult," I shrugged. "Just applied the right pressure and he gave in."

Not a hint of a lie.

What kind of monster is this man?

Col felt his breath leave him in shock. His power must've been truly enormous.

But that wasn't what horrified Col.

"Your nonchalance..." He said. "Do you truly care so little?"

The man's head twisted in confusion.

"I mean, was I supposed to?"

He's a psychopath!

"That was my son," Col practically growled.

I tilted my head in confusion.

"I, uh," I looked at him. "I'm not sure what I did to make you angry?"

The old man gripped his fists in visible anger, his eyes almost crackling with anger.

"You know what you did."

I went through my memories of Frederic. I guess we went to that barber one time together–oh...

"Wait, is this about the whole thing with his hair?"

The old man's anger seemed to evaporate.


"Well, after I got done with him, we went out to celebrate," I said. "I accidentally messed up his hair, so–"

"Stop! I don't want to hear any more!"

This man...

This man had desecrated his son's body.

He stared up at the young man, no, the monster in front of him.

"Hear me, 'o Dagger of Banra," I pointed at him. "I can't defeat you now. But soon, I will track you down with a team, and on that day, your head will roll!"

I took a dagger and tossed it at him. He didn't move an inch, allowing it to slip by him.

As he did this, I hammered my foot into the ground, disappearing into the wind.

"Well, that was a thing," I said to myself.

I looked up at the sky.

"I think I'm running low on groceries."

And thus I walked off, having completely forgotten about the assassin who'd tried to kill me two hours earlier.

That old man was weird, I thought. But he was definitely just messing with me.

After all, what kind of nutter would kill someone for messing up his son's hair, right?

"Ma'am, it's him. He's here."

Margaret rolled her eyes and took a sip from her glass.

"I'm a genius, not a telepath. Who are you talking about?"

The man took a nervous gulp.

"The D-Dagger, ma'am. The Dagger of Banra."

The glass she had been holding dropped to the ground, shattering into dozens of pieces.

She stood up and slammed her hands against her desk. "Where did we get this information from?! I swear, if this is another false alarm–"

"He's associated with Elric, ma'am. Elric had passed him object three," The man looked through some papers on a clipboard. "The Union had the Black Shadow trailing Elric. Just as the Shadow was about to get him, Elric passed on the gem to the Dagger. "

Her breath sharpened.

"Object three... Yes, I see. Where did we get the information from?"

The man had the dignity to look apologetic.

"Well, I was getting to that part," he said. "The Black Shadow was wounded and was unable to use his usual stealth. He was spotted heading towards a known elf mob headquarters. Some of our guys in the brotherhood reported that the local branch leader was organizing a strike force against the Dagger. We put the pieces together, and well..."

"Do we know his present location?"

The man nodded. "We've had him tracked since we found out. He's in the market. Seems to be gathering supplies."

Margaret's eyes widened.

"He's going to make a break for it!" She pointed at the man. "Get the retrieval specialists ready right now. I want a perimeter asap!"

The man scurried off.

Margaret gulped. This was going to be the most dangerous mission of her entire career.

I looked at the market stall.

Peaches or apples? Peaches or apples? Hmmm... Apples.

I picked up a few apples and slipped the seller some copper coins.

As I walked, I saw a few knights. Surprised to see such high-ranked guardsmen here, I gave them a little wave.

"Why–Why aren't they attacking him?"

Margaret clenched her teeth. her knuckles whitened as she gripped the telescope.

"We can't get him in this crowd, it's too dangerous."

The man furrowed his eyebrows.

"Why is he waving, then?"

"He's taunting us. He knows we can't get him," she smiled threateningly, her eyes sharpened to pinpricks. "Clever little munchkin."

They both looked down, glaring at the Dagger–

"Wait, is he following them?"

"What, of course not, why would he–"

She took the telescope off her eyes. After a second, she blinked and rubbed them in confusion. She looked through the telescope.

"I..." She searched for words. "I have no idea what's happening."

A smooth slab of stone made an odd buzzing noise against her side. She picked it up and glyphs appeared on it, glowing.

"Boss, you'll never believe it, he just came with us!"

"Yes, I noticed," she said, tone as dry as a desert.

"He even accepted the anti-magic box cuffs! All we had to do was say that it was standard procedure and he just held out his hands!"

Margaret blinked.

"I'll meet you back at the station."


She turned over to her secretary.

"I just captured the most dangerous criminal in Banra, maybe Thaend, and yet..."

"It's kind of anti-climactic, no?" said the secretary.

She nodded.

"Yeah, anti-climactic."

I idly sat in the small seat. This whole thing seemed really odd. From the knight's awkward looks to the strange oversized handcuffs, it almost felt like I was some kind of criminal.

But that was ridiculous. They said it was just standard procedure, after all!

I leaned back. Gosh, my hands were itchy.

Stop thinking about it. Stop thinking about it.



"Ah, hello there." 

A red-haired woman with green eyes entered the room. She had light armor with a crest identifying her as a knight.

"My name is Margaret," she said. "You, sir?

She waved her hands in a forward motion.

"Oh, sorry," I said. "My name is–"

Her eyes narrowed.

"Let's skip ahead, Dagger of Banra. We both know that wouldn't be your real name anyway."



"Wait, I think you're a bit confused."

She gave me a deadpan stare.

"Where's the gem?"

I awkwardly looked away.

"Sorry, can't say."

She stared at my eyes, searching them for something. After a second she leaned back and sighed.

"Yeah, it was worth a shot."

I looked at her in confusion. She leaned forward and placed her elbows on the table.

"My normal shtick isn't gonna cut it here. I know that, so I'll make an exception," She stared at me. "We're willing to cut you a deal. Give us the gem and we'll wipe your record, no question. You've been quiet for years, it's clear you're out of that life, right?"

"Uh... Yes?"

She nodded.

"That's about what I expected. The only condition would be that you can't leave the province anymore."

I shook my head.

"Listen, I don't think you understand, I really can't give–"

"What's your price?"


"Two million upfront, three million to be paid in installments."

My jaw dropped. I would be able to buy a castle with that kind of cash. No, forget that! I would be able to buy three castles!

"Uh, miss, that's a pretty generous offer, erm–"

"What do you want!?" she slammed her hands on the table. "Information? Power? Women!?"

I pursed my lips.

"I suppose that what I really want is to find Elric and beat him to a pulp."

"He's currently in Vassyria, doing a job for a multi-millionaire. Trying to steal an ancient painting."

She glared at me.

"I'm not usually so lenient with information," she said. "But it's clear that you're not budging."

My eye twitched slightly.

"Look, can we just be done here?"

She narrowed her eyes.

"You want proof," She raised an arm and snapped her fingers. A man came out of the door behind her and passed her a file.

She opened it up and pointed to a highly realistic painting. So real, it looked like a moment snatched out of time.

"If you scan it, you'll find that it wasn't painted. It was done all at once. This is because it was created using state-of-the-art magic."

"I really don't know how many times I need to tell you this. I'm not giving you anything."

She snapped her fingers. The same man came back in and passed her a vial with an injector. She pressed the vial into the injector.

I felt a slight flash of fear come over me.

"What exactly is that thing?"

She smirked.

"Truth Contrancia. Mix that in with the body and it dispels all deceptive energy."

She approached me slowly.

"Last chance, Dagger."

Oh, man.

I really hate needles.

She pressed it into my arm. A numb pain spread out over it and–


The Dagger had outplayed Margaret at every step. She kept pushing too hard. Made herself too desperate and he had ruthlessly struck back at every turn. In her panic, he had even ended up getting free information just like that.

Thankfully, they had a backup.

Truth Contrancia.

It had never once failed. No one, magical genius or normal civilian had managed to resist its effects. The only reason they didn't use it regularly was that even a single dose was enough to buy a small country.

"Where is the gem entrusted to you by Elric?"

He stared at her with a glazed look.

"My house,"

She furrowed her eyebrows.

"Where in your house?"

"Second drawer from the left."

Margaret gulped.

"Is the gem in the house where the Black Shadow attacked you?"


She slammed her foot against the table. Her secretary ran up to her.

"Ma'am, you need to relax–"

"Where were you trained!?"

"Elsbeth Academy for Business."

She stepped back and shook her head in shock.

"He figured out how to counter the serum!" 

Margaret smashed her hand against the wall.

"Get him locked up in maximum security, right now!"

The secretary nodded and dragged the Dagger away. Margaret stared at the injector.

"How did he do it?" 

She shook her head. "Well, it isn't a total loss. At least we've caught the Dagger–"

An alarm started to ring throughout the building. Red lights flashed as a metal sheet slid alongside the window, blocking off the light and preventing escape.

She pressed her hand to the door. Sensing her magical signature, it opened.

He couldn't have already made his move, could he?

When I woke up, I noted that I was already standing up. I tried to recall what had happened in the last couple of minutes, but nothing came to mind.

I was being dragged along by an older man in a suit.

"Hey, can I have some water?"

The man stopped and nodded. He waved his hands in the air, water coming out of nowhere as little drops. He grabbed a paper cup and allowed the water to drop in. 

He put it to my mouth. I took a few sips, a couple drops spilling past my chin.

What neither the protagonist nor the man knew was that the company in charge of manufacturing those special cuffs has cheapened out slightly on the material. Inside of the cuffs were glyphs made with magic chalk. There are multiple variants of magic chalk that are waterproof.

The manufacturing company chose none of them.

"Thanks for the drink," I said.

The man nodded and waved for me to step forward. I shrugged and did so. As I stepped forward. The cuffs on my hand dropped to the ground with a heavy thud.

I looked down at them in confusion. After a second, I turned back and looked at my escort.

"Hey, your cuff thing fell off–"

He had a look of pure, unadulterated horror. Sweat had broken out on his skin.

"Uh, hey man, is there something wrong?"

He broke off in the other direction screaming.

I stared after him for a second before shrugging and turning around. My eyes scanned the room.

"Exit, exit..."

Red lights started to flash and a loud siren noise pierced the air.

"All knights to sector five, all knights to sector five! The Dagger has broken containment!"

I furrowed my eyebrows. Who on Thaend was this 'Dagger' guy?

Footsteps echoed through the corridors, metal clanging against metal in a loud percussion.

"Stop right there, criminal!"

A group of knights dressed in white cloaks had appeared in front of me. The one in front pointed his finger in my general direction.

I swiveled my head.

"Criminal? Where?"

Another bunch of footsteps came from behind. A new group of knights came from the opposite end of the corridor, boxing me in.

Sweat prickled the back of my skin.

"Hold on, there's no need for this kind of stuff," I raised my hands. "Let's all just take a moment, yeah?"

A knight trained a crossbow on me. "Dagger, put down your hands!"

I slammed my hands against my side. "Yep, yep, got it!"

"Look guys, I don't know who this Dagger guy is, but I ain't him," I said. "I'm just a school administrator. The most dangerous thing I've been trained for is dealing with massive amounts of paperwork!"

A flicker of doubt seemed to cross one of the knight's eyes at my sincere tone.

"Sir, this all seems a bit extreme," he began.  "Maybe we shouldn't be acting like this?"

The leader shook his head.

"It's a trick. The Dagger is a master assassin. Think about it, isn't this exactly what a guilty man would say?"

My jaw dropped open.

"Under that line of logic, you could imprison anyone who denies that they committed a crime!"

At my shout, all the knights backed up and flinched.

"He's going to attack!" one shouted, his sword glowing.

"I don't want to die..." another one whimpered.

"This is insane! Is this really what the knighthood has come to!?" I waved my arms up and stepped forward–

"He's making his move! Fire!"

I stepped onto the cuff that had fallen off earlier, causing me to fall to the ground. Beams of multicolored light flew over my head. The knights had fired at each other in their impatience. The building rumbled at the force, kicking up dust and smoke everywhere, making it even harder to identify the enemy.

"He's too powerful!"

"How is he shooting off all these attacks!?"

Attacks flew back and forth, steadily increasing in power. Some of the knights had rushed forward to engage in melee combat, accidentally beating up their comrades.

A huge beam attack struck a wall near me, causing it to collapse. I kept low and skipped out, finding myself outside. Stray beams shot out of the hole behind me, setting trees and shrubbery on fire. This caused a predictable reaction, with the guards of the building abandoning their posts to try to either join the battle or put out the fires.

In front of me was a fence. It wasn't particularly tall, but it would've delayed someone long enough for a guard to detain anybody causing trouble. Unfortunately, said guards were busy trying to stop their headquarters from burning down.

I managed to get over the fence. Civilians looked on in horror at the now raging fire that had almost totally consumed the knight's headquarters.

I whistled to myself and walked off slowly, before speeding up then breaking into a sprint.

Elric, you had better pay me back for this one!

Margaret stared in horror at the collapsing building. Her life's work, all gone in an instant.

"Help, someone..."

She rushed to the building, pulling off a large stone slab several times her weight. Underneath, one of her men had been trapped.

He looked at her with haunted eyes.

"Chief..." he coughed. "He was a monster. Nothing phased him... He just fired back even more when we counterattacked..."

Her eyes flamed with rage. This Dagger was going to pay–

"Don't do it chief... Not even you could face him. He's just too powerful!"

At the shout, he immediately shriveled up and coughed.

She yelled for a medic, but her thoughts were elsewhere.

Margaret tapped the small stone slab. After a second of silence, a green light came from the glyph, indicating a connection.

"Cousin, this had better be important. I'm trying to track down one of the Apostles–"

"The Dagger is here, in the capital."

"You're kidding me."

"He destroyed the entire headquarters. A good fifty percent of the knighthood is out of commission."

There was a moment of silence.

"How many deaths?"

She smiled slightly.

"None. It seemed that he was toying with them. The worst injured got knocked out by some stone, but that won't keep 'em down."

She heard a sigh of relief.

"I'll arrive immediately."

"Good. Make it quick."

She was about to hang up when she realized something.

"Cousin," she began.


"I talked to one of the survivors. He snapped our special-grade box cuffs."

There was another beat of silence as it sunk in.

"I'll really have to go all out for this guy, huh?"

"Indeed. Safe travels, cousin."

She tapped one of the glyphs, ending the call.

"Dagger," she muttered to herself. "You'll definitely pay for this humiliation."

I opened the door to my home and stepped in as my heart hit me like a boxer. I eyed the stairs, shocked that my mother still hadn't woken up. I walked over to the floor, fully prepared to collapse when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.

A note.

I picked it up.

I slammed my head against the wall and groaned.

Bring the gem to the address listed below, or your brother gets it.

Ah, nuts.

A/N: Anddd that's a wrap for part 1! There'll probably only be one more part and that'll wrap up the 'ignoble saga of the oblivious school administrator', or something along those lines...

I had a real blast writing this one, and it came out in the quality and the quantity, I think. I ran into pretty much no problems figuring out what was coming next.

Stories of this type tend to be rather odd, and if I were the one reviewing this I think I wouldn't put it particularly high. But in terms of the enjoyment factor for both audience and writer, I think I managed to get a high score.

Anyway, stay tuned!


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