Chapter 11:

Leon's First Mission

Adventures of Zeleon

"Audio log number three. It has been a month since I first touched ground on the planet Zeleon. It's been a process, but I've grown accustomed to life within the castle, except for the King and Katrina's attitudes. I personally can't stand the toxicity that exudes from them. Courtney has become my best friend on this planet, despite her in your face personality that I can't quite wrap my head around. Gwilym and Serena have been kicking my ass on the daily, trying to get improvements as soon as possible, but I get the feeling they're wearing themselves out as much as I am, especially in recent days. Serena has also done tests on me, and it turns out Zeleon's highly oxygenated atmosphere coupled with what she referred to as a high magic affinity, has made me capable of outrunning a cheetah in a foot race and pushing five tons of weight around. Even with these advantages, I can't help but wonder if I'll be ready in five months….this is Leon Atkins over and out."

Leon ended the recording and put the recorder back in his dresser. It was a bit after lunch, as he prepared himself for what he thought was another bout of training. He wore a new proper outfit made for him, it was different shades of browns with leather armor over his torso, the rest was a loose cloth that allowed freedom of movement, with leather boots and a holster for his sword. As he exited his room he went downstairs and saw Serena speaking with what looked to be a frail looking trader of some sort, based on his neutral colored and loose clothing. As she caught Leon out of the corner of her eye she made a bold statement that made both the trader and Leon second guess her on the fly decision making.

"Why don't you have Leon fill in for your short handed group today?"

Leon and the trader were in unison with not only the look on their faces but their audible reaction. "Huh?!"

"My Queen, I run a business that needs protection, not an amateur!

"I haven't been in training long enough to be relied upon like this yet!"

Serena smiled nonchalantly as she looked between the two of them. "Leon, you need to learn to be cooperative and show your capabilities to others, and instill confidence that you can be a reliable protector." She turned her attention to the trader. "And you, Hanyu. You have a critical time frame that needs to be followed, you have what, five hours? That's not very long, and options without convincing pay are few. So. Do I make myself clear, you two? Leon will accompany you today, free of charge."

"Seriously, milady? I'm going with a group of ragtag hired hands across dangerous territory? The odds of this going over well aren't looking up."

"This is what I'm talking about. You're still very young and need to learn to not operate by yourself all the time. There will come a day when you'll have no choice but to trust someone you normally wouldn't in a dangerous situation."

Leon sighed and walked out with Hanyu, with Serena sending her best regards to them both. Surprisingly, Leon was the first to break the silence between them. "So...where are we delivering to anyways?"

Hanyu spoke again, his voice having more of a rasp when not raised loudly. "We're delivering bagged blood to the vampires, which is the second reason why I took you on. I can't be late or Charlotte will have my ass. That woman is scary for her stature, but she's the original and their Queen for a reason." He paused briefly as he took a breath. "Speaking of, no mouthing off while we're there, or you'll get us all killed."

"I get it now. Serena you are shrewd. You knew, didn't you? Where he was going, and why. You wanted me to meet the feared Queen."

"Yup. I got it. Keep my mouth shut and no mouthing off at anyone."

Leon headed towards the west gate with Hanyu through the city, he felt like there were eyes on them on the way. He never spoke it out loud as he didn't want to startle or alarm Hanyu, but it was on his mind.

As they arrived at the gate, the rest of the crew had the load ready to go. There were 3 guys and two girls who all had ragged clothes on them. They all gave the roughneck type of vibe, making Leon touch the handle on the blade checking that it was still at his hip.

"I apologize to you all, the last of our crew pulled out suddenly and I got us an emergency replacement thanks to the Queen. Meet Leon Atkins, he's a newbie in every sense so, please take it easy on him."

The five looked at him with a glare, before one of the girls who was in the back of the carriage hopped out and investigated him. She had a darker caramel complexion, her eyes a golden brown; and while having a slender build, she was toned in an obvious way. "What's this girl doing anyways, she sniffing me too?!"

"I know who you are, you're that Earth human who's a Guardian candidate." Her tone was so serious sounding Leon didn't really know what to say in response. "Look, we run a tight ship here, and I would prefer if you don't act high and mighty just because you were chosen by the Queen. Choose your words wisely when you speak, and most of all, handle yourself, cause we're not going to babysit."

She turned around and headed back into the carriage as the others looked at her then to Leon, giving a serious look as she gave. "Well. I guess I'll keep to myself. These people obviously work as a closed network."

Within ten minutes, they were headed out of the gates. Leon sat right at the back of the carriage, looking out at the scenery behind them. The girl from earlier moved to the back, sitting across from him.

"I never introduced myself properly. Names Ravlynn, but everyone calls me Lynn." Leon had no response, pushing her to try to get him to talk. "You're a loner type aren't you? I can deal with eeeeverything myself. Bare it all myself. I'm sure you're asking, 'Why is she trying to talk to me? This is a one off kinda thing that I didn't even wanna be here for.' Am I right?"

Leon sighed heavily, rolling his eyes as he looked at her. "My thoughts exactly, after all you told me to choose my words wisely. So I haven't spoken until you prodded me."

Lynn smiled slyly. "So he speaks. Almost thought you were a mute or something. But, now that I do have your attention, give me an answer to why there's a vampire's scent on you, would you please?"

Leon, Hanyu, and the rest of the crew had their eyes opened in reaction to what she said. Soon all eyes were on Leon as he weighed his options frantically. "The scent of Courtney is there so I can't deny that, the strength would say the amount of exposure I had around her. There's only one thing I can say…." "You got me. I hang around with a vampire."

The casualness of Leon's voice de-escalated the tension. Hanyu spoke up from his driving spot in the front. "Who is the vampire Leon? It's not everyday that a vampire takes any interest in a human, especially a teenage Earth human like yourself."

"The former second in command Courtney Huntington. She knows the Queen intimately and has been helping me in training for the Tournament."

No one other than Hanyu was old enough to know who he was talking about, as she's been gone for over 25 years. "I see. I'm glad she's alive and well. None of the vampires have seen her in quite a while. Charlotte will be very happy to hear this. Although, you might get interrogated by her."

After roughly an hour and a half of traveling, they made it into a forest path that had been unnaturally cleared for passage. What awaited them was an ambush. A massive branch crashed in front of them, scaring the horses pulling the carriage making them come to a sudden halt, throwing everyone in the back around. "Ready yourselves!" Hanyu warned them as he saw shadows move in the trees, quickly retreating into the carriage himself.

Arrows rained down on them making it impossible to escape without getting pierced. Leon sat quietly as he looked at the others, who were all looking at each other in confusion. "Are we just going to sit here or what? Does anyone have heavy armor, some ability, or like a smoke bomb?"

Lynn cooked up an idea as the group began to mobilize. "Leon, lemme show you what true teamwork is all about." The other four mobilized quickly, out front was a behemoth of a man named Oni who had a bodybuilder's physique grabbed two shields that were on his back in either hand, who charged out yelling to draw attention. The other four quickly moved out into the treelines on either side of them, as you could hear a bunch of rustling before loud thuds of the archers falling out of the trees. Leon stayed guard of Hanyu and the blood until the arrows stopped.

Leon hopped out of the carriage as the five of them reconvened over to the side. "See Leon? That's what happens when you cooperate with people." Leon gave a blank stare as he listened more to his surroundings. "You really think they're done? In all-" Before Leon could finish his sentence his concerns were proven valid, roughly 30 of them came up behind them.

Leon moved out into them without hesitation as the others soon followed suit. It occurred to him at that moment, was he going to be able to kill these human attackers? Lynn and her group paid no heed, they drew their weapons but didn't show lethal force. As Leon ended up having 6 around him, he hesitated a moment before he quickly made the tough decision to not kill them.

The attackers wore uniform dark red armor that covered their shoulders down. Leaving only their heads exposed.

Leon charged one on a flank to avoid getting double teamed and punched him square in the jaw, knocking him out on impact. He turned as he heard the shifting of their armor as the other 5 charged him. He parried the first attacker's strike with a harder one from his blade that knocked him off balance. The next he made a smooth sweeping takedown, slipping behind him while taking one of his legs out from under him, pushing his palm into his chest making a greater impact into the ground.

Leon charged at the other three who seemed like they were afraid of him by this point, giving the middle one a straight kick in the gut that knocked him backwards. He baited the others into attacking him, making them attack each other after making a last minute movement before charging and shoulder tackling one of them square into a tree. The last of the attackers was hesitant to go after Leon seeing what he did, as Leon turned around and met eyes he made a half hearted charge that made the soldier in red strike swing his sword too early, giving room for a second true effort with a jumping knee strike that caught him clean under the chin.

The soldier he knocked off balance earlier looked at Leon in fear before running away. Lynn and the others had made fast work of their opposition as well.

The five of them looked at Leon as he let out a long exhale. "What? This is hardly the first time I've gotten ganged up on, it was pretty much the norm where I'm from."

"Well. It seems like you all had fun without me." An unknown female voice came from nowhere, making everyone look in the direction it came from in the trees.

Leon had a harrowing feeling all of a sudden, his body shook uncontrollably for a reason he didn't know. He couldn't place why, but his body screamed to run away.