Chapter 28:

A Familiar (Handsome) Face

Lovely kNight

A figure stands at the entrance to the testing facilities. Their eyes which glow a passionate red survey the scene, leaping from one face to the next in a vigilant watch. They happen to stand out well from the crowd thanks to their appearance which is neat and nearly perfect with a uniformed pride. From their straight and finely kept onyx black hair to their impeccably beautiful, flawless face. Handsome through and through; the perfect image knight.

Garbed in threads worn only by highly honored knights, they wear a fine uniform exuding authority. A white, wing tipped collared shirt with a red tie decorates with white striped patterns in its collar. White dress pants with a red stripe running down each leg and into fine boots which raise to the mid of their calves. A red jacket with ornate, golden threading is fastened upon their shoulders. Medals pinned onto the left breast display their status for all to see.

A luxurious, double sided cape with its inner color being a majestic red and the reverse a clear white falls to their higher back while asymmetrically overlapping across their right shoulder. An arm band much like my own is colored red and white and has stitched into its fabric: “Loveless Elimination Squadron” with a rank listed beneath.

The last pieces to finish their knightly appearance are a regal sword sheathed upon their left hip and an ornate buckler shield that is fastened to their right.

As their attentive eyes catch us in their sights while we're on the approach, a marvelous smile blooms on their handsome face.

“Well if it isn’t the kingdom’s two greatest knights.” They speak with a singing tone.

“Vestil! What are you doing here?” Juna calls out to the knight and gallops towards them.

“I’m on watch duty for the time being. Thought I’d might as well keep watch over this sector. After all, I’d heard that one beautiful mage knight to be would be visiting today.”

“Oh stop it, you!” She replies through a fit of bubbly giggles.

“Nice to see you again, Vestil. In good spirits as always.” I greet them with undeniable glee I couldn't ever manage to obfuscate.

“Last time we’d all met together, it was for your special little celebration. It’s been far too long. Nice to see you again, handsome Hero of Celestia.”

I sigh to myself with an inkling of jest and irony.

The knight before us is none other than our accomplished friend and fellow knight of whom was a fellow grad of our class year: Vestil. They have always been quite the looker with the charisma to compliment. They had made themselves busy schmoozing and flirting with all the maidens they could find during the personal celebration for my ascension they themselves had prepared and held. Doubtlessly they would nearly make the perfect playboy if they weren’t so devoted to a life of knighthood. But that certainly doesn’t stop them from teasing their way into as many hearts as they can afford. And maybe even then a bit further into dangerous territory.

I can vividly recall the scene I’d witnessed that day. Leaned against the bar with a glass of scotch in hand and their tie left stylishly loose in their collar. A gathering of women hanging about them and every word that proceeded from their mouth.

Returning to what had been previously stated; I say that they would nearly make the perfect playboy. The reason they aren’t quite there is due to the fact that they couldn’t entirely claim to be a playboy. The fact of the matter is that despite all appearances and attitudes, they are a woman themselves.

“So how have things been coming along since this guy ended up getting that dream of his going?”

“Busy is one way you could describe it.” I speak and fail to stay my hand from scratching my cheek. “There has been plenty on my plate, but it’s been a fine time. Meanwhile Juna and I have been working to take this next step towards her future.”

“Inseparable as ever, I see.” She chuckles to herself. “When was the last time you’d both had a day apart? I’d bet you two are so attached that you’ve probably taken up showering together by this point.”

“V-Vestil!” Juna yelps as her cheeks light up.

“Hey, I’m not going to blame or judge. It’s a good way to save on water, is it not? Plus I’m sure you’d both be able to take off some stress while you’re in there.”

“H-Help each other out?! No! Nothing like that! I-”

“Why are you so flustered, my dame? I’d only meant to imply maybe washing each others backs. It can be stressful to reach such difficult places.”

“Undoubtedly that was your intentions.” I say with a wry laugh. “And what about yourself? Had your hands full all this time?”

“With the coming carnival festivities I’ve had a mite more tasks given to me. It’s been a lovely time. Today is of the more lenient sort. So long as there aren’t any brave Loveless rearing their faces in to disturb the peace.”

“Is that a new medal on your jacket?” I ask as I lay my eyes on an unfamiliar adornment.

“This little thing? It does happen to be some new flair I’ve netted myself.” Her grin is nice and toothy.

“You really are a hard worker unlike anyone else. What is this one for?” Juna gives herself to curiosity.

“I’d been awarded this little trinket for excellency in discipline. My unit had done me proud to prove the fruits of their training and made a new record for the knighthood with their swordsmanship exams. I really am blessed to lead the best knights.”

“With that glow on your face you seem more like a proud parent than a commanding officer.” I snicker.

“What can I say? I’m a role model for my troops and they’re my pride and joy.”

Despite that it had only been a small number of years since our graduation, Vestil had made her way up the ranks in a record time. She had always been a star student in the academy, even earning herself the privilege to be named a valedictorian. That work ethic had carried on into her knighthood. As of this moment she’s become the commander of a unit for the honored Loveless Elimination Squadron; a duty reserved only for the strongest combatants in the kingdom.

“If we leave you alone for a few more days you’ll probably have another badge on your chest when we meet again.” Says Juna.

“If that was the case I suppose I’d send you a message to let you know. Well, that’s what I would do if either of you ever actually carried a communicator. I mean, seriously. Not in the academy and still not even now. How do you two manage?” She says with an exaggerated huff. “Though I suppose you’ve already got your life partner there beside you. What's the use of a communicator when you're always with the one you talk with? All I would need to do is tell one of you and the other will know in no time flat. You two share everything together. I’m sure you’ve slept with each other recently to boot.”

“W-Woah! Don’t go saying something that can be wildly taken out of context!” I stutter as she has now taken me off guard.

“I was talking about the usual for you two like you always used to do in the academy. Unless there’s something more I’m missing…?” She sends another cheeky smile my way.

“Nothing of the sort, I can assure you!”

“Your reactions are always so priceless. I could enjoy that look on your face all day!” A gleeful laugh floats from her. “And besides, there’s barely anyone here, let alone anyone you two would know. Lighten up a little! Is our new Celestial Knight so humorless?”

“H-He is wearing that arm band and I’ll probably be a knight here soon enough.”

“...Okay, you’ve got me there. I’ll ease back a smidgen for now.” That doesn’t stop her from chuckling one last spell. “But speaking of your approaching knighthood; the testing will be beginning soon enough. Should we get you on your way, my lady?”

She offers her hand with a dignified bow and smile. Chuckling, Juna instead chooses to link her arm through my own.

“I should have expected that outcome.”

Though Vestil prepares to lead the way, her feet suddenly draw to a halt as she sees two women chatting together while watching her closely. With a flick of her dark hair and another handsome smile leading into a polite bow, she sends the two her patented charm. And as usual, they eat it up and squeal in excitement. Only after she’s gotten her fill do we move forward.

✩ ✩ ✩

The building we stand in is one set aside for kingdom knights. From quest directories to assemblies and studies, this is the epicenter of activity for the knighthood. The commons themselves are pleasant. Furnished elegantly with lamps and seating to put the mind at ease, its four walls are an aged wood that gives off a gentle aroma.

“O-Okay. I’ll get going then.” Juna speaks as she finds her courage.

She turns me to me with a shy gaze. Taking a deep breath, she lightly, awkwardly taps her forehead against my shoulder.

“It’ll all be okay. Now go and get ‘em.” I assure her.

She offers me one last nervous smile before picking up her feet and entering into the testing area. Vestil offers me a sly look with bouncing brows.

“When I’d first come here, I didn’t expect that it would be so cozy. It almost makes me want to become a kingdom knight with Juna rather than remain a simple freelancer.”

“You don’t need to become a kingdom knight; you already are one! Or have you forgotten your duties already despite how much you'd dreamed of the day?” Vestil snickers. “With that fancy armband of yours this entire kingdom is practically your oyster. Kind of wish I had one with that kind of privilege.”

“Why? So you could attract the attention of even more maidens?”

“Maybe you aren't entirely off target.” She snickers.

“But I suppose you aren't wrong. It’s a shame I’ll be too busy with my duties to get too many chances to take up kingdom quests. Perhaps they’ll give me a few in time.”

“I’ve been lead to believe that the bulk of the duties they’ll be giving you will be in dealing with the Weeds and whatever offshoots and wild Loveless they find. I take it you haven’t been tasked with anything like that yet.”

“Truly. I wasn’t expecting such a hold up to the combat side of my duties. Perhaps it was a bit impatient of me, but I was expecting to have already been fighting Loveless by now. Yet… other things have more or less gotten in the way.”

“By the way there, Khiron.” Vestil leans her arm against the hilt of her sword in a relaxed stance. “Are you two going to play hooky on that little arrangement again this year?”

“With serving as security officers at the carnival?”

“That’d be the one.”

“We intend to make good on that goal this year. I was actually going to head to the commissions office to see if I could get myself and Juna on the committee while we have the chance. If it wasn’t for my duties having taken up so much of my focus I’d have already gotten it handled. Not to mention my sword still needs to be repaired from the tournament’s beating.”

“Right.” She snorts sarcastically. “But it’s your lucky day! You have me here to keep you two accountable to that dream. What say you that we’d go to check it out together? I’d like to look through some possible duties for myself.”

“I’d appreciate the company for one. For two; quit your disbelief in us.” I poke her shoulder in jest.

“Right, right. I mean it’s only been like 3 years or whatever. But sure! This time’ll be the charm!”

✩ ✩ ✩

While I’d filed mine and Juna’s applications, Vestil herself had flipped through mission, quest and request documents. Having selected something light for her off time later on in the day, near the end of Juna’s testing, we were both set and ready to go.

“So what duty did you decide to take?” I ask.

“Nothing too fancy. Just a small investigation into a reported issue with animals at a local park. These kinds are fairly common yet often neglected by knights. Because of that there’s a 3 day window for anyone to accept the task before they are forcibly assigned to someone.”

“Small investigations are really that unpopular? That would honestly explain a few things about this kingdom.”

“Hey, they’re free and easy game. I don’t mind all too much since it’s usually just walking around and surveying an area or interviewing a few people. I usually take them up while they’re fresh before they’re passed off. This one was filed not too long ago today. It’s best to strike while the iron is hot.”

“I’d heard that there’s a bit of a shortage of knights recently.”

“A tiny bit. In my opinion the workload is fair enough. But some new recruits wouldn’t hurt either. I’m looking forward to the fresh faces from this testing season. Though I’ve heard that there aren’t as many this year. But there’s one important, gorgeous flower of girl I look forward to working with and maybe playing with as well.”

“Watch out. That handsome face of yours is looking a little intimidating there.”

“Right. Right.” She laughs and rights her composure. “In the meantime while you’re waiting for Juna’s testing to finish, what are you going to be up to?”

“I was thinking of searching for a task in town to make use of my new privileges. Maybe a little patrolling like I’d always do before I became the Celestial Knight. I don’t really have anything else in mind other than returning to Juna when her testing has concluded.”

“Of course you’ll be there waiting for your magical bride to be.”


“Oh? Looks like your feathers have become a bit more of a challenge to ruffle? No matter; I’ll just have to try harder in the future is all.”

She starts on her way and sends me a wave.

“Well, I’ll be getting back to duties for now. I don’t have much longer until I’ll be going off to that park. Take it easy, Khiron.”

“Don’t get yourself into too much trouble, Vestil.”