Near the end of mine and Ophikka’s rendezvous I’d remembered one more request I’d promised I’d raise up to the king. That requested by one cat eared girl I’d crossed paths with recently. She too was promised that special attention would be given to her case. As he’d promised me his assistance, he’d nodded with nothing but warmth and understanding.
Eventually he’d plead for me to carry on my day. He’d laughed heartily while being astonishingly candid to state that if he’d failed to practice self control, he could easily find himself shirking his responsibilities to carry on speaking with me for the remainder of the day. I’d laughed a bit nervously as I was overwhelmed and flattered by his words of praise.
Taking my leave, I’d pushed my way into the streets where I’d started my newest study.
“After the device has been powered on, the operating system will begin booting. During this time safe mode may be engaged with a held press of the main input button.
“Upon initial start up, booting will take a moment in order to process and structure the databases of information for the end user. All following activation instances of the device will be considerably faster.
“The device battery is powered through usage of magic that is naturally supplied via the body. For those which are in fair health, retaining energy is a simple task. It is best to recharge the device through direct contact daily via handling. To maintain the greatest performance possible for the device, a manual reset should be initiated once every week.”
My eyes shuffle through the pages of my KNITE Signal’s operation manual while I walk my course through the streets. Never having been the most technology savvy, it proves to be an exercise in computer literacy. Though I make substantial headway into the book I have yet to properly boot the device. Before I give my first attempt, my attention is thrown back to my surroundings by an individual who passes before me.
“Oh! Good day. Pardon my-” I stop myself from colliding with them.
Platinum blonde hair hidden beneath a hood. The sight of two sweet blue eyes brings my words to a faltering. Their serious demeanor is fraught with surprise unfitting to their cool appearance.
We’re paused while the rivers of the crowd carry on with their business and split upon us like flowing water on a rock. It’s quick that she rights herself and picks up her heels to leave me behind. I throw my hand in reflex and accidentally grip her hood more roughly than I’d intended, causing her to yank back with a jerk.
She twists on heel more violently than a twister to show me a scowl like a snarling wolf. Her stance reads clearly that she’s ready to flee on her way at the first opening. Even if she has to forcibly make it herself with her fists.
“My apologies. I didn’t mean to-”
“More apologies.” She huffs. “What do you want, knight?”
“We’d met just yesterday. In the alleyway.”
“I know that. I’m not senile. You didn’t answer my question. What do you want, knight? Here to harass me and restrain me?”
“No. Nothing close to that. I’d just wanted to talk. Sure there was a bit of an unorthodox incident and what happened had happened, but I’ve no intentions for anything else other than to speak with you.”
“Are you sure you’re not going to just corner me and take me away?”
“I can give you my word as a knight.” She bites down on her teeth hearing that promise, so I give her something more substantial to hold faith in. “Better yet; I give you my word as the Celestial Knight. You’re not in trouble or anything of the sort. The investigation came through and those people were indeed wanted criminals. I may not fully endorse vigilantism, but I’d never desire nor choose to punish anyone for doing a good deed.”
She remains in a battle ready stance for a moment longer but it soon melts away and her guard lowers.
“Alright. I’ll give you five minutes. But do you mind letting go of my hood?”
“Apology accepted. Just get on with it.”
I release her hood and allow her to right herself before starting.
“I’d wanted to thank you on behalf of the kingdom. Not the knighthood since, if I’ve come to understand anything thus far, you’re rather nonplussed about it.”
“Perhaps.” She crosses her arms. “It’s strange to hear your kind saying anything in gratitude to someone like me.”
“It won’t fix anything that could have happened in the past, but I apologize if you’ve had a handful of sour run-ins with fellow knights. As an insider looking outwards, I suppose there may be some sides to the knighthood I can miss with my own biases.”
She shifts her heel one more time, seeming to have taken a minute interest in what I have to say. But in the end it appears that she’s dismissive all the same.
“Sure. Thanks, knight. But do you want to tell me what that is you have in your hand?”
Her pointed finger directs me to the manual I’d been reading.
“I’d received a device from the kingdom today. It’s to be used for communications while I go about my work. I’m not so well accustomed to these sorts of things so I’d taken to studying.”
“You read from manuals? Nobody reads from manuals.”
“So I’d been told by my tutor. I’m not sure why others would be so quick to dismiss manuals and instructional books. Isn’t it the best way to learn the ins and outs of something? They’re written for a reason.”
“Didn’t expect Celestia’s hero to be such a nerd.” She scoffs. “And by the looks of it you were even reading while walking, weren’t you?”
“I’ve been figured out. It’s been busy, so time is of the essence. Reading while going about the streets can be a pleasant experience. My best friend would do that all the time while we were in the academy together.”
“Another knight, huh?”
“Yes. She’d taken the test for kingdom mage knighthood yesterday but something went awry. I’m doing my best to rectify the situation.”
“Why are you telling me this? Don’t you think you’re trusting a stranger a little too much too quickly?” She becomes apprehensively cross and peers at me with cutting eyes.
“I suppose that I may be doing just that. But with how you’d acted yesterday, I doubt you’re the type to make ill of someone willing to trust you. You’d so wanted to apply justice to criminals so it’d be a complete contradiction if you’d misuse trust of others. If that happened, I suppose one would be no better than those types of criminals, would they?”
The sharp eye she’d paid me lightens to that of fantastic shock. Speechless and it’s clear to see without a filter set before her face. Though she catches her slip quickly and raises her mask to front her once again.
“That’s fair.” I giggle against my own better judgment. “I remember what you’d told me yesterday. I’d stumbled upon something troubling. Something that could put myself and others in danger. I think that I’d found my way deep into that darker world after our meeting.”
“You don’t mean you’d done something dumb as hell and threw yourself into danger, do you? You didn’t go seeking out these people too?”
Again, eyes set full of flame. Yet even I can understand that the fire she has inside is filled with an impassioned concern for myself and those around me.
“It’s more like it had found me. It had nothing to do with our encounter that I’ve found myself confronting that world. Rather, that underworld is more than likely the reason why things went awry for my friend. I’d thought well about it while I’d wandered around yesterday and took in everything that had transpired. You were right. There’s something strange going on that I hadn’t ever known. Maybe I didn’t even want to know. But I can’t deny it nor run away from it now that it’s come to light for me. I’ve been steeped in it whether or not I’d wanted to be.”
“Great. And why did your friend’s situation get you into it?”
“…It was due to a judge. A judge that did something underhanded and seems to have some kind of connection to a darker side of the kingdom. So I’d been told.”
“A judge named Chamelis.”
“It seems like I won’t need to do much explaining then.”
“…I believe you.”
At last the ice that surrounds her begins to flake off enough that I can feel a seedling of trust building inside of her. She heaves a sigh while she focuses her eyes on mine with a deep link striking between us.
“Anyone who would imply or speak of that woman would do so knowing just what it could cost them. I’d expect at this point that you’re sharper than I’d given you credit for.”
“Thank you. I truly do loathe missing the good will of anyone else or tarnishing their trust. I’m grateful for your belief. I promise it won’t go to waste. But at this point I’d think that the next question I’d ask is a foregone conclusion. We’re both after the best for the kingdom. I as the Celestial Knight and yourself as a citizen who cares about its safety. I’d ask you if I could have your cooperation. Just with myself and those I trust, if you’d allow it.”
Caught in surprise but tempered to keep her cool, she shuffles about while pensive.
“Listen; I work alone in everything I do. It’s what’s best for everyone. Since you’re right and we do have our likes alike, maybe I can at least say hello to you whenever we meet. But having me around will likely invite trouble into your life.”
“Then I’ll let the trouble come. I can think of a single reason to distrust you or cause you trouble myself. My friend means the world to me and if you seek to unearth and expose whatever has been going on behind the shroud then I won’t hinder you. If anything, I’ll help you forward in the ways that I can. You’ll be helping this kingdom and you’ll be helping my friend as well. Both things are of great importance to me. Anyone who helps my friend is welcomed by me.”
“You really must be brave or just dull. But you’ve become the Celestial Knight for a reason. If I can’t put the tiniest fragment of faith into you then all most certainly is lost. I’ll do what I can. Leave the shadows to me and don’t wind up getting yourself killed or worse.”
She pockets her hands and prepares to be off but I stop her short with one final question.
“My name is Khiron. I’m sure it’s a fair gamble to guess that you already know that. Bu I haven’t heard your name yet and I could use something to call you by if we’ll be working together. You wouldn’t mind it if I’d heard that much, would you?”
Standing still, the crowd continuing to pass her by like parted streams, she turns her neck to look at me but soon twists on her heel to give me her full attention.
“You can call me Judgment.”
“Judgment.” I repeat her name and give it a try on my lips. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I promise that everything between us stays with us. I’ll make it seem like this meeting had never happened.”
No words. Just a resolute, firm nod to affirm our agreement and shared spirit. Her icy blue eyes are filled with confidence and trust despite how distant she may still seem.
The crowd begins to pick up as foot traffic from a local business finds its way onto the streets. When the sweeping waves of cheerful, unassuming faces overtake Judgment, she disappears among the faces in the streets in the blink of an eye. Flowing with the citizens, the curious watchman set about to seek after their own given namesake.