Chapter 7:

6 - The Fallen clan - The return home

Angel of Death


Prologue

Its early morning, the day after the graduation ceremony of the 1st Royal Military Academy ended.

On a dirt road surrounded by fields on both sides, a wooden carriage drawn by a Griffon can be seen traveling on it.

Modest in appearance the carriage looks like any other you would see in the countryside. The screeching of the weals and its wooden frame shaking as it passes over the uneven road with no emblems or banners decorating it, makes it seem like just another farmer's carriage passing by. As the people tending to the fields see it pass by not even in their wildest dreams could they have known just who was riding in it?

As some time passes a boy raiding in it woke up, still drowsy and half asleep with the breeze of the morning wind blowing across, the familiar smell of the countryside awoke him completely. The old memories of working on these very same fields and villages as kids he and his sister knew them all too well. The smell, the scenery, the sound all that awoke him as his nose picked up the smell of the countryside it hit him, as he opened his eyes the view came into his field of vision that sensation jerked him fully awake. 

Dressed in modes close something a village youth would wear he moves his still somewhat stiff body - from the unnatural position he fell asleep - and got on to the driver seat up front.

There holding the reins of the Griffen was his guild master, he appears to be drinking some wine evident by the empty bottles next to him - it seems this is not his first bottle but third or fourth - yet he is as sober as ever. Looks like a few botels of fine wine can't do much to his charismatic master thought the boy as he sits next to him he looks behind himself and says.

"Morning, boss. It seems our guest is still asleep?" Casting a worried look at the sleeping soundly in the back.

"Um?" As the guild master turns his head slightly. "O, Maro morning, what shes still asleep? Well, she sure is a heavy sleeper just like her" Who he compared the sleeping princess in the carriage too, Maro did not know but the still worried expression stayed on his face as he turns back, watching the road they travel on he asks.

"Is it alright, I mean taking her in and all that?" Maro's eyes wandered left and right in a somewhat worried manner. As he watched the road ahead.

"Sure, it's a shit job and probably the worst thing she could have done to me... but its an order none the less. Even if you don't say something about it Maro, the others will"

"Yes I would say something, but..." 

"But, The Queen ordered it" Grey finishes Maro's line of thought.

"Yes, the Queen ordered it" A somewhat defeated Maro just repeats his master's words, the same thing he was about to say moments ago. He curiously asks something that's been on his mind the whole time.

 "Can you do it?"

"Look if the girl - the princes - is even half as good as Emmor and the rest of her clan make her out to be, then..." As Grey could literally feel the scared pair of eyes pierce him he somewhat hastened with a higher pitched voice continued on. "Uhh, for the love of. She learned from Marija so she out to have a good head on her shoulders and even Ezi showed her the way of the sword and the list goes on and on. So yes I can."

"You can?"

"Of course, that girl is the same as me in many ways. I had many teachers just like her but unlike her, I had a master"

"Meaning?"

"Meaning, she does not know the absurd near ridiculous entity that defies common sense that is a master, for any true disciple. Soon she will learn... (after all Dalmatia's. No one of the worlds mightiest master-disciple lineages) she will become a part of it"

As Grey demeanor gets more serious, the air around him becomes heavier. The words now spoken have a much deeper meaning of great importance that is something Yuki, - the princes - and the people of Dalmatia will only learn in time.

In Dalmatia, one of the most sacred and honorable connections one can establish and be part of is a master-disciple relationship. As old as the time itself the Dragons considered the master-disciple relationship to be the same as the parent-child relationship. Just as a child can only have one father and one mother - bound by blood - one can only ever have one - bound by spirit - master in one's lifetime.

For a Dragon, the greatest honor he or she can receive is to become a master and pass on the teachings, knowledge, skills, beliefs, and way of life to their disciple - youth - and have them carry on that knowledge and improve - add upon - while passing it on on to the next generation. 

"...? Wa, b-boss? Is something"

Maro's somewhat startled response is only natural. After all, there are not many topics or things in general that get his easy going - my pace - guild master to turn so dead serious.

Over the years that Maro and his sister Lucy spent with the Fallen there have been many instances and emergencies to be precise clan crises that have happened, that allowed them to see their guild master in action.

Take the City-state of Ragusa as an example not to mention the Sky clan and that's just the things that are more commonly known.

"I see, there is probably more to all of this then meets the eye. Right boss? If so I'll leave it at that"

"Umu, seems you realized just how troublesome this is" 

"Well what do you expect me to say, you get all serious on me, honestly I'm scared to death just what was the Queen thinking we have a lot of enemies outside Dalmatia and we are not exactly on friendly terms with some clans in the kingdom, to say the least"

"Ahh, things will work out don't worry I might have spoken a bit over the top, but trust me if it was not safe the Queen would have not entrusted her to me"

"I hope your right, over half of our members, are outside the kingdom or are out on quests and assignments so if something does happen we might not have the numbers to deal with it"

"Sure if you put it that way, but look if the worst happens I'll deal with it"

"I sure as hell hope so if I understand you correctly, the princes will join our guild and she will stay with us for next five to ten years guaranteed"

"Something like that, yes"

"....O dear god, I just know this will end in disaster"

And so the two of them carried on their conversation after some time they finally arrived at the Fallen clan home. The village of Bize where the clan made its home over half a century ago.


Part 1 - The village of Bize and the Lionheart estate

The small village of Bize was slowly coming into view, like any other settlement in the region its humble and modest look leaves the impression of a poor frontier settlement yet one would be surprised to learn that in this small village the famous Red Apple resides.

And up the cliff directly above the village hidden by the sharp cliff side and the three lines, thou hard to see the Fallen clan made their home the Lionheart estate.

As the carriage approaches on the dirt road leading into the village one can see the farmers tending to the fields the hassle and bustle of the countryside.

"Ah, I missed this so much," Maro says as he can't stop smiling, after being away for so long finally he is home. Even tho he and his sister went separate ways, Lucy joining captain Milos and heading for the Pearl islands Maro, on the other hand, went back home.

"Well, its been years since your left. Nothing much changed you know, still the same old"

As they go through the village by the main road they arrive at the Red Apple. 

"Here Maro," Grey throws a small bag of coin to Maro." unload the bags and supplies from the carreg the head to the tavern and pay a few rounds I'm sure they all would love that" On their way to the Appel they passed a few people, seeing that Maro has returned they all eagerly welcome him back naturally that called for celebration so Grey decided to let Maro have the rest of the day free so that he could meet with the rest of the villagers.

"Thaks boss I will just quickly get this all unloaded then, what about you?"

"O, I'll have some stuff to take care of if I'm finished quickly I might join you later ok"

"Sure boss"

Eagerly Maro unloads the supplies as he took them to the back entrance, meanwhile, Grey went inside the Appel quickly greeted by Regen and another member of his clan at the bar counter.

"Master welcome back," Regen greets Grey bowing his head slightly while standing behind the counter.

"Welcome home boss" 

"It's good to be back. Regen, Emi"

Next to Regen a young girl stands barely tall enough to be seen over the counter, yet by all means shes Regen's senior coming to the Fallen clan before him and currently holding one of the most important positions in the Fallen clan, she is a Forest cat named Emi.

Emi despite her appearance of a young girl is almost 250 years old being a member of the numerous Cat family she specifically belongs to the Forest cat race. Somewhat small in height her fur shares the same color as her hair a deep brown color. Her eyes are blue - the black part instead of having circular pupils she has vertical ones - even in human form, the cat eye trait remains, the same goes for all members of the Cat family that's one of their signature traits by which they differ from other races.

 "Boss if you have the time, we need to talk. It's about the job requested by the 7th"

As Grey takes a seat at the counter."You mean the one that I gave to Abra and Lun"

"Yes... boss?" As Emi was about to say, in her field of vision something strange appeared. 

"What, are we over the guild budget again, I swear," Says Grey.

"No, I mean, umm... boss" A young girl stands at the doorway slightly disoriented with an angry look in her eyes. Emi recognized her immediately hence her somewhat startled behavior.

"WERE THE HELL AM I!? Guild master Grey?" Yelled the girl in a stern tone. 

"Yuki you're awake, about time. Hungry perhaps? (pretty sure the smell of food woke her up, I swear her primal instinct are the same)"

As Yuki approaches the counter ignoring anything around her she rushes toward Grey and says coldly.

"Food"

"Of course, can't have a conversation on an empty stomach. I take that as you still remember your mother's orders"

As Yuki takes a seat next to Grey still somewhat angry, the two observers were speechless, to say the least.

"Regen can you prepper the house special for her... o, and make it extra large"

"Of course master" Not bothered by the weird scene in front of him Regen whit a sense of professionalism smiles, bows and goes in the back room where the kitchen is to prepare the meal. Needless to say, Emi did not share Regen's calmness.

"Boss please tell me you did not kidnap the princes"

"Pleas Emi, like I would do such stupid thing. I got a request from the Queen thas all"

"... yes, how stupid of me not like you usually pull stunts like that" Emi's expression somewhat empty as she turns toward Yuki.

"I do apologize my princes, but can you confirm his story"

"Well, to be honest, the last thing I remember is me losing consciousness and then waking up in the carriage outside"

"Um....haa," Closes her eyes while looking at the ceiling - can't make eye contact at the moment - after a moment of self-processing and double checking she heard Yuki say that. She turns toward Grey her eyes stone cold.

"Boss?! You better have the greats most logical explanation, because of the words; losing consciousness and finding oneself in an entirely unfamiliar place coming from the princes her self. I. DON'T. HAVE. TO. TELL. YOU. WHY. THATS. BAD."

Emi's last words to her boss were overflowing with pure anger and bloodlust as she closes the distance between her and Grey and crept closer to him, her eyes the closer they got the deeper the darkness in them visibly got.

"Relax there maybe, just maybe, a small accident happened where I unleashed my full bloodlust and completely by mistake unleash it on her causing her to lose concessions"

"What the hell!?" At this point, Emi just did not know wetter to punch him or apologies to the princes. So she did both.

Hitting Grey full force in the face dropping him to the floor, Emi jumped the counter and faced the princes vigorously apologizing.  

"My apology, princes Yuki I'm sure you were brought here with a reason but to treat you like that, our kingdoms only princes I hope you can forgive our guild master's lack of comen sense he will be punished for his stupidity you have my word as the guild's submaster"

"S-submaster, what?" For a moment Yuki was startled she first-hand saw and experienced what kind of power Grey possess yet now this girl dropped him with lightning speed and at the same moment appeared so fast in front of her she wasn't even able to react - turn her head - in time

"Hey, now should the submaster not support the guild master. Emi?"

"Silence you fool, I'll report this to Lord Persa"  

"O-oo, no now come on no need to get Marija involved" 

"You wish, I'll have her talk some common sense into you. How could you treat our princes like that? Like she's some bag of potatoes and just leave the capital like that"

"But the Queen said its fine no need for fancy or special treatment" 

"Like I care shes our princes if word got out of this half the kingdom would be after your head"

And as the two of them went back and forth Yuki was slightly confused the submaster by all means in any clan shud be pretty powerful and mighty even in her on clan - Dragon clan - her brother - the prince - is the current submaster so naturally, she found it strange that such a young girl holds such a high position.

"Submaster, but were... (those eyes and ears shes a member of the cat family, and she mentioned lady Persa moments ago. Could she have some relation to the Black Tiger? Submaster... master... guild-guild. Were, Emi. ....EMI!? Could she be Persa's?) Co-copper Coin. Copper Coin Emi?"

Upon hearing those word Emi's ears twitched stopping momentarily hear arguing with Grey.

Seeing her reaction Yuki was sure of it. 

"You're her right Copper coin?" Asks Yuki.

"Um, well I was known by that name back in the day, but now" Replays Emi, in a shy manner.

"So I was right. But then what are you doing here? I mean your a member of Blac Tiger-"

"Was" Emi replays hastily.

"?"

"I was a member but that was years ago, now that's all a thing of the past"

"You can't be serious. Grey whats the meaning of this even I've heard the name Copper Coin many times shes famous in the capital, how come shes your submaster?" Yuki turns to Grey for answers now, it's only natural considering who Emi is, or was in the capital.

"Well to be honest," Grey says in a serious manner. " I stole her from Marija"

"Wa? Stole, the hell do you mean STOLE!?"

"Goddammit boss, would you stop with the stupid jocks," Says Emi while pushing him to the side.

"I think there is probably more to this then your wanting to admit"

"Right you are our princes but you don't have to wonder much you being a member of the Dragna family have a right to know if you what to"

"Of course I do, please tell me how the former No.2 of the Black Tiger ended up here of all places?"

"Just as Emi was about to answer Yuki's question Regen enters with a plate of warm baked potato and a dish of roasted deer meat.

"Here you go, our house special, with an extra large portion of meat"

The aroma of the food rekindles Yuki's hunger instantly and having seen the spark in her eyes Emi decided to leave the topic for another time and let her eat.

"Well I'm glad you like it, Take your time with it. Regen keep her company after she finishes her meal do take her up to the estate. She will be staying in my guest room for the time being"

"Understood master, I will see to it" Nodding slightly showing he understood, Regen immediately turns his attention to Yuki and offers her something to drink almost naturally starting a conversation with her they start talking like old friends. Regen showing his people skills he learned working behind the counter for years.

"Good then I and Emi have some things to discuss apparently so will take our leave for the time being. Let's go Emi"

"Umu, yes boss" Remembering the matter that Emi had to discuss earlier with him, Grey decides to deal with it now when Yuki is being busy with her meal knowing it will take a while before she finishes. Both of them leave. 

Taking the stairs up the third floor they go into the back room behind that room a steel door stands heavily fortified with a double reinforcement the door looks like it would not even budge a millimeter if someone tried to open it.

On it, a symbol is drawn. Fully spread angel wings the right black as the darkness itself the left white just as angel wings are. This is the Fallen clan crest its symbol that all members of the clan have.

And it symbolizes that behind this door the Fallen clan's territory truly starts.

Opening the door slowly a long dark tunnel reviles itself Grey and Emi enter it disappearing in the cover of darkness, after some time they reach a wooden door opening it they find them self in a basement.

"So Emi, mind telling me what's so important?"

"Yes, but well I think its best to show you the aftermath. It's about the mission that you were supposed to deal with"

"You mean that job with the 7th? The one I gave to Abra and Lun"

"Yes.. to be completely honest boss. We, we messed up" The hesitation in her voice caught Grey's attention usually Emi has a strong straightforward way to her when she talks about guild business - the 7th Hunter request being said guild business - yet now she spoke worldly Grey knew something must have happened and immediately asks.

"Did something go wrong?"

"Y-yes, Abra was severely injured. Lun and the guys from the 7th  broth him last night"

Grey stops walking, as he turns his head to the side facing Emi. He scratches his head an asks after a brief moment.

"How was that possible, I know I was originally planning to deal with this but none the less this was supposed rutin dealing with smugglers in our one backyard. Both Abra and Lun are experienced adventurers and veteran warriors for something like this to happen"

"Abra was unconscious at the time they broth him, from what Lun told me they encountered the intruders a group of slave traders transporting around twenty slaves near the border. As they then proceeded to attack them, one group led by Lun dealt with the slave traders and the other group led by Abra went for the slaves"

"Hmm... let me guess they hid one of their ones among the slaves. Right"

"Yes, a Giant to be precise"

"Don't tell me he... was he sent flying?"

"Full force Abra was caught of gourd and the bastard got him, got him good. He was sent into the air and on the way down collided into every three and landed on a rocky craves"

"O for the love of. That idiot, where is he now"

"The medical wing in the main guild hall. But there is more"

"What?"

"Before Lun left with the rest of the 7th soldiers back into the mountain. He told me who they were dealing with"

"They? Meaning they managed to learn the identity of the slave traders"

"Yes... it's our old "friends" from Ragusa"

"Ahh, those bastards. Is Abra awake?"

"I left two members of the 7th that were lightly injured with him to watch over him. His condition is stable since last I saw him and I told them to call me immediately if his condition worsened... so he should be awake if they did not call for me"

"I see"

Grey hurried his step as they were currently in the basement of the guild hall they quickly arrived at their destination. 

One floor above them to be precise as they saw the two soldiers of the 7th Hunters standing in the corridor they appeared to be lightly hurt one having his hand in bandages and the other has his head covered as well. They saw Grey and Emi approach them.

"Master Grey! Submaster Emi!" The two of them greeted them as they immediately salute bowing their heads.

Grey raises his hand and with a smile in a light tone said.

"At ease boys, at ease are the two of you alright"

"Yes, master Grey only some light flesh wounds nothing too serious" Answered one of them.

"Good to hear, and my one great adventurer hows he?"

"Fine he woke up a while ago askt for some water, he has been getting better but still can't get out of the bead he will need a proper healer to take a look at him as it stands now medicinal herds and basic healing will only get him so far"

"I see, then if you excuse me I'll need to have a word with him can you guys wait here"

"Of course"

As Grey went inside Emi accompanied him, in the room were six beds with the one in the far corner being occupied.

As Grey approaches the bed in it a man is sleeping can be seen. Raged and sacred his skin shows his age having only his face and hands visible - the rest of his body cover by the sheat - rough deep brown hair his hands were twitching every so often from the pain as one can see him holding his stomach tightly gripping it Grey slowly pulls a small chair next to the bed and sits down after taking a look at him he sais.

"Wake up you idiot!" Grey hits him lightly in the head.

That alone was enough to wake Abra up as he opens his eyes.

"Wah!? Urgh" Having moved his head to quickly his injuries acted up causing him to fully awake due to the pain. "Hm, ha? Boss"

"You god damned idiot"

"Boss I can explain, urgh" 

"Save it you need to rest otherwise your wounds will open up. Just answer my questions with a simple yes or no understand?"

"Yes"

"Good, then do you know the identity of the smugglers?"

"Yes"

"Did you and Lun follow the rules while in the forest"

"Yes"

"By any chance were you or Lun able to identify the slaves there being a chance they are our citizen or maybe Yamato's"

"No"

"Then tell me one last thing. Were you high?"

"No"

"I see... pathetic for someone like yourself to fall for such a simple trap, I would get it if it was Lun, not exactly the quickest arrow that one but you honestly"

"I... I'm sorry boss it's my mistake for not thinking of the possibility"

"As I always say in battle one moment one mistake can end you. You are lucky you survived...." Grey stands up as he leaves the room he stops for a moment and says after cracking a smile. " I, I'm glad you're alright. So long as your alive that's all that matters"

"Even when I'm so messed up that I can even take a shit without help?"

"Ph. haha, even then" 

"O for the love of god, can't you just admit that your glad he is alive. And you Abra stop with your stupid remarks"

After hearing Emi's remark as she sighs tiredly both Abra and Grey start to laugh at the end of it. Before Grey left Emi stops him.

"Well I know I'm going to regret asking but what are we going to do now, after what they did to Abra not to mention the obvious crimes they committed against Dalmatia we can't let this go"

"She's right, arg. - coughing - ahm boss"

"Right, that's simple. I'm going to kill them all like I promised last time no mercy now" The pure bloodlust in Grey's last remark was fully felt by both Emi and Abra as they just stayed silent the angry expression on Grey's face showed calmness but they knew that on the inside he was furious.

"Emi recall Lun and the 7th soldiers that are with him, have them set up a perimeter in the towers and have Regen and Maro guard the village"

"Understood. And what about her?"

"Um, keep her with you shell be able to deal with Abras wounds. And who also back?"

"U, no one boss aside Maro who arrived with you I believe it just me and Regen as well as Abra and Lun that are currently home. Kiki is with the 2nd dealing with monster suppression up north... did someone just arrive boss?"

"No, just asking I've felt something but I must have imagen it"

"I see maybe its Kage he was on route back from Yamato but he should arrive in two or three days maybe he went back early"

"Well leave it at that, Emi you're in command while I'm gone"

"You're going to deal with them, boss? Shouldn't you take someone with you just in case"

"No need I'll be fine, just a quick visit to Ragusa to remind our friends of what the consequences are for breaking a deal with the Fallen is"

Before Grey left the estate he went to his house some distance away from the main guild building east of it a house stand on a hill. That's the home of the grandson and grandfather duo that lead the Fallen clan.

A small stone trail leads up the hill towards his home as Grey followed the trail to his house he stops in the middle of the path surrounded by trees. He looks to the side his eyes survey his surroundings.

After some time he sighs and whispers.

"Hm, and here I thought you'd be gone for some time. When did you return?"

As if Grey was talking to himself on the whole estate the only people prest were in the guild building - Emi, Abra and the two soldiers from the 7th- and down the cliff in the Red Apple - Regen, Yuki, and Maro - aside from them there should be nobody else here. At least no other Fallen members, enemies are entirely different story thou.

"Just a while ago"

A voice replays in a relaxed manner.

"Is that so" Replays Grey. From the tone of the voice and the relaxed attitude of Grey, one can assume they know each other.

"Do you know what's going on?"

"For the most part, I listened in on your conversation with Abra and Emi" The voice gets closer. " Sorry I know you tell me not to, but there were those 7th Hunters so I couldn't show my self"

"It's fine it's fine, no need to apologize as a matter of fact it saves me the trouble of explaining things"

"Is that so. Then fine... so what are we going to do"

"What do you think" Grey's expression turns serious.

"... - sigh - I figured as much. I have time before I have to return, can I help"

"As a matter of fact yes"

At that moment as if out of thin air a figure appears.

Smaller the Grey yet covered in dark robes the figure hides his face behind a hood and face mask. his arms and legs are covered by the tattered robe yet one thing stands out the weapon the hooded figure carries with him a long scythe.

By all means, the person who appeared in front of Grey can be described best in two words.

Grim Reaper.

Part 2 - The night visit to Ragusa 

It was the middle of the night the city-state of Ragusa was still asleep, only the port and dockyard were wide awake as they work both day and night. The rest of the city was covert in darkness under the night sky the occasional patrols and night guards were the only once outside and the only source of light.

The city-state of Ragusa is divided into five districts they were; the port district on the north part of the cove, the fort district on the south side of the cove, the outer resident's district, the inner resides district and the guild district.

Deep in the inner resides district two guards make their rounds, walking the same route they always take in this part of the neighborhood small villa estates were built. A high fence and a large yard up front, the villas more or less all look the same five floors high build in a western style.

The occasional source of light can be seen from the roofs or yards of the villas they belong to the personal guards and bodyguards that work for the owners of the estate.

Along with the two guards patrolling the street, they are the only source of light in the neighborhood, as the two guards walk on the paved road in the dead of night the only source of sound is their armor and their voices as they are talking to one with another.

"Uhha, I'm telling you the night shift... as always boring and uneventful... as always"

As the slightly tired guard says, his eyes barely open he yawns loudly.

"Your complaining?" The other guard turns around and faces his friend. He points his small hand lamp towards him and asks while shining some light on him.

"N-no, I'm just saying no point to bother patrolling this part of the rout. I mean every house here belongs to the high class of the city and each of them has dozens of guards at least"

"So as always wondering why we are even here. The two of us right?"

"...yes"

"Ugh, every night. It's the same old with you... you know this is starting to become a routine with you" As he rolls his eyes he turns around and starts walking again. The way he answered monotony almost immediately goes to show that they already had this same conversation numerous times.

"Ahh, I'm just saying nothings going to happen here so - boom, tup tup- ..." Just as he said that a loud noise echoes through the street. 

They stop, almost as if they are waiting to hear the same sound again. They look around after some moments passes - boom, boom... tup - again the same noise now they are sure they did not imagen or misheard it they start looking around to find the source. 

"Did... did you hear that?"

"Yes, shit" His replay sounded angry yet more annoyed than anything else as he looks towards the source of the noise.

"What?" As he asks hearing his friends angry response.

"Well look, up ahead the third house on the right side" He points towards the place.

As he looks toward the place his friend pointed to.

"O, don't tell me is that?"

"The Temir family home. Goddamit look at all the commotion seems all the guards have lit the place on fire... something must have happened"

"What are we going to do? We cat just leave this to them, from the look of it there must be a pretty serious incident happening right now"

"Ugh, shit there goes our peaceful night shift, I'll go call for more men at the garrison you go to the fort and request help from the 7th Hunters. If something truly has happened the Temir family won't even listen to a word we say we need the 7th Hunter soldiers here otherwise this will just turn in to a bigger mess then it already is"

"Right, I got it"

So the two guards went their separate ways later that night the guards and 7th Hunters would arrive at the scene but by then it was too late.

 The Temir home went up in flames leaving nothing behinde. 


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