“Hear ye! Hear ye! By the order of The Great Elders Council, I hereby invite all the nobles of our esteemed Royal City Of Rabensphere for the great occasion of the coronations of our new elected king, Sir Derlin von Eldrich and our new princess, her Highness, Miss Aldia von Eldrich. All nobles accounted for the rank of our royal esteemed guests, as for the last ‘Recruiting Royal Family Act- Seed 1274 z.l.’ is invited for the ceremony. The ceremony will be followed by the royal ball as held for the past 17 years after the appointment of The Elders Great Council. The Royal Coronation will be held at The Royal Palace on the eve of last day of winter. None other than the listed nobles of the royal family will be allowed to the ceremony. If done so, strict action will be taken against the individual who chooses to do so. All Councils of the 9 nations are invited, discretion is to be followed with dignity. May we all be guided by the light of Zeora.”

~ By Order,

Lt. Gen. Arimes zel Duertos,

Commander of Zenis Regiment,

Head Organizer of 67th Coronation.

Aloud and in full glory this announcement was made in the centre of the Fountain Plaza of the Royal City of Rabensphere. The Fountain Plaza was not only one of those places where there were announcements and sermons held, but also a place where anyone, irrespective of their caste, creed, or royalty could meet and interact with each other. The Kingdom Of Mira had appointed a new king and the coronation was to be held at the nation’s second capital city, The Royal City of Rabensphere. This announcement was not new to the citizens of Rabensphere as there had been an elected king in the previous year, Seed-1289 z.l. of the ruling, since The Elders Council was formed 17 years ago. After the death of the former King Sir Allant Novel de Gestal, and treason by his son, Consul Derwont de Gestal, the heir to the throne was to be elected from the remaining Royal Families from the kingdom. From these, only 2 families had the anticipated fame to stand as the rulers of the kingdom. The Royal Family of Eldrich Volzeris of the North and The Royal Family of Duertos Zelberg of the West. And so the king was elected from the Royal Family of Eldrich Volzeris, the 14th generation bloodline, Sir Derlin. Sir Derlin had a daughter from his late wife Wiz Elizebeth. Though the Eldrich Family won, The Duertos were provided with taking care and supporting the kingdom by all means necessary. The Royal City of Rabensphere was politically secular and maybe this was the strength behind the uprising of the Kingdom Of Mira to such a large scale. But in that crowd in the Plaza, amidst the entire clamour, just after few minutes after the announcement was made, there was commotion! It was the Imperial Guards who had caught two men…….

“Gotcha, you muggers”, said one of the guards.

“We knew we would get hold of you two here, you have given us too much trouble in these past few days.” said the other.

One individual from the crowd that was assembled around questioned, “What have they done?”

“What have they done!” the guard exclaimed, “Ask me what have they not! Pick pocketing, shoplifting, stealing fruits, and not only that last night they spiced up the evening meal of the knights pantry and gave us all a hard time finding solace for our throats from that excruciate burning soup!”

“They call themselves professionals in this sought of work, and get off the hook just because their mentor is the Great Migelo.”, taunted the other guard.

“Ha ha!” laughed one of the accused. He had black medium hair, brown complexion, and short built, rough stubble. He carried his cocky attitude with him as he wore his dark baggy pants, Gliger boots which were made for street fights. A white shirt with collars torn, and black metallic gauntlets till the tips of his fingers presumably for making his punches more brutal. He also wore a black thread around his neck; at its end was a silver ring with some engravings in an ancient language. This was Gladius.

“What’s so funny?” asked one of the guards.

The other accused replied, “Thanks for the praise metal head, but could we know why you have caught us now? All our past legendary deeds were accounted for by our mentor, so we are clean. On what basis are you arresting us now?” The other individual was fair, well built, muscular. He wore specs made of a gold frame that suited his broad jaw line and long woven black hair tied to a pony tail with his rough French beard trimmed slightly at the edges. He wore a royal Caradian jacket, over a red silk shirt with leather leggings and soldier boots. His name was Regas Russoni.

“I didn’t laugh because of that Regas.” Spoke the other accused, “I found the ‘Professional’ part funny.”

“Idiot has a point. Let’s go, we’ll catch them later.”, said one of the guards.

“I’ll get you one day…. you Scumbags!” exclaimed the other, as both the guards walked away and the crowd took its leave.

Well, they were the kind of professionals that you dare not muddle with. Regas and Gladius were the charismatic individuals who would get caught up with most of the small petty crimes, but were spared because their mentor was The Royal Chef of Rabensphere, Migelo Russoni. Regas was Migelo’s son, while Gladius was a war orphan. Not much was known about Gladius, only that he grew up fighting with street gangs and was surprisingly also a scholar who was studying at the University of Winhelm, Rabensphere’s most acclaimed institution. His education was supported by himself as his street fighting would credit him with lots of private contracts which would give him lucrative offerings. But fighting was not the only field which interested him, it was one of the oddest of hobbies that he had expertise in. And that was thieving. Regas was his classmate and his best friend, and both Regas and Gladius, were in the mentorship of Migelo Russoni, who, apart being the Royal Chef, is also a professor of Arachnian History in the University of Winhelm.

“We must take our leave too, Gladius. Father would be upset if we don’t return to our duties on time.” said Regas.

“What’s with that oldie all of a sudden, lately he’s kind of strict with his timings.” replied Gladius.

-“Well, didn’t you hear? The Royal Coronation is coming up and father has been given the responsibility for preparing the grand feast for the occasion himself.”

-“Wait a minute…. You’re invited?”

-“Yeah… you dumb ass! That ‘oldie’ you call is the Royal Chef…. and the Royal Chef is appointed from the Royal family!!! You should’ve known that!”

– “How the hell would I believe that! No royal Noble fights for concession on a 2 gil ticket of a chicken fight show and drinks Alvirian coffee while pissing on a sheep shaped toilet just because he thinks the coffee rejuvenates the sphincters, while the sheep dignifies inner peace! ”

– “Ha ha! You always get so mad whenever there’s an event which I get to attend while you strum your guitar all evening.”

– “Boo Hooo…. so caring of you, Noble blood! Now let’s go, before the old man gets furious and swears on my life’s mistakes.”

As this conversation concluded both started walking along the plaza’s exit until a man from the crowd bumped into Gladius as he walked pass him.

Gladius turned to see who it was, but by that time the man was nowhere to be found.

“What is it Gladius?”, asked Regas who was walking ahead of Gladius. “It’s nothing, you go ahead. I’ll catch up with you later.” replied Gladius as he looked confused and reached out for his pocket as if he was expecting something in it. His doubt was right; the man had dropped a message written on a small piece of paper. Gladius opened the folded paper on which was written:

 

 

‘The more it is, the less you see.

Tell me! Oh, tell me! What could it be?

If you know what it is, then come find me!

I’m above the water and beneath the tree.

~ R.G.’

Gladius recognized the riddle and he had an idea about who would have wished to contact him this way.

“The more it is, the less I see…. Darkness it is. It’s above the water and beneath the tree…..hmmm… Only wind can flow in between. Ah! I got it, the Black Breeze Inn near South Market! But why would Ronald call me there?” thought Gladius.

As he headed towards the South Market of the city he wondered why Ronald Grey would call him; and that too in this kind of secretive manner. Ronald Grey wasn’t an ordinary employer that Gladius had acquaintance with.

Roland Simon Grey was referred as the King of Thieves. He was not only an expert in his art of stealing but also he had made a fortune out of it, so much so that he became an entrepreneur himself and became one of the renowned businessmen of Rabensphere, and also started his own syndicate where he hired people to do his dirty work for him. Gladius was an exception, even though he worked for Ronald, Gladius’s self conscious attitude to do the right thing, always forced Ronald to give him jobs that would fit Gladius’s requirements. But this time, things were different. Ronald never had the need to contact someone in this way, and even Gladius realised something is wrong, as Ronald’s riddle pointed at the Black Breeze Inn…..

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