“We were participants in the empire’s tournament. We came here on the emperor’s request,” Kurdak answered.
“I see. I had heard a strong harvester squad was out of Fort Kesta lately. Looks like they were talking about you,” Alissanda nodded, “You must be really strong, to eliminate the cavalry unit without any casualties.”
“We don’t deserve such praise, Your Highness. We’ve had quite a few close calls,” Kurdak replied humbly.
“Is that so? You’re a high-order warrior and Leguna is as powerful as a high-order assassin. Are there really common enemies that can threaten you?” Alissanda asked.
“I can’t use my gift all the time. There are side effects,” Leguna muttered weakly from the side.
His state was worsening by the minute as he came off Host of Darkness and the exhaustion and strain started kicking in. That said, it wasn’t as bad as the last time he’d used Host of Darkness to this extent. He had fainted completely the last time, he was still conscious this time.
“What are your gifts?”
Leguna didn’t answer.
“Ah, apologies. It was inappropriate to ask such a personal question. Curiosity got the better of me. Let us instead trade then, how about that? I’ll tell you my gifts in return for hearing about yours.”
“Are you really that curious?”
“I am light and you are shadow, my opposite. Curiosity is a given.”
The prince had seen him fight, anyway. He could make good enough guesses on his own.
“I have three gifts,” Alissanda said, taking the lead, “I call the first Impetus Healing. I can heal using holy-aspect impetus.”
“I didn’t think you’d also be a half-priest,” Leguna blurted.
“You could say that. I regret I’m can’t heal you now. I used up all my energy, and holy energy can’t heal people that use shadow aspect energy, it’ll only hurt them no matter how you try to use it.”
“No worries. I’m not that hurt. It’ll heal in a day or two.”
“My second gift is called Endless Source. I can absorb the energy in sunlight.”
“What do you mean?”
“I can recover my energy levels just by standing in the sun. I’m about twice as strong during the day as a result.”
Leguna was speechless. He could recover his energy just by standing in the sun? That meant that he could theoretically fight from dawn till dusk with only a few moments of rest!
“I don’t have to eat, but I have to drink water,” the prince quickly added when he saw the two staring at him like he was a plant.
“Even then, that’s just too much,” Kurdak complained.
“My last gift is actually my strongest. It’s called Host of Radiance.”
The princes two companions’ imaginations started reeling. Leguna had Host of Darkness, did that mean Alissanda, with his Host of Radiance was his polar opposite? ANd what effects did it have?
“What’s wrong?” Alissanda asked, puzzled at the pair’s expressions.
“Nothing. Go on.”
“I can release holy-aspect impetus and reabsorb it into my body. When I’m in that state, my body continuously heals from any wounds not instantly fatal.”
Four eyes stared envious daggers at the prince.
“Why not call it Host of Immortality?” Leguna asked.
“Well, you could. But healing is not the same as absolving of all pain. Plus I don’t know what the side-effects are. Surely something like this can’t be without side-effects.”
“Heh, unlimited stamina and an invulnerable body. You’re the perfect tank,” Leguna half-spat.
“Well, I suppose I can pass as one. That’s why I always rush at the front of attacks. What about you?”
“Me?” Leguna smiled. “I have four.”
The three chatted as they walked. They knew each other decently by the time they met up with Vera. She sat on a boulder looking depressingly bored. The cold winds blew with some gusto. Thankfully she had her impetus to keep her warm.
“You’re back!” she smiled, “Who’s this?”
“Let me introduce you,” Kurdak said, “This is the Second Prince Alissanda, captain of Goldeagle Brigade. The light we saw was from his fight with a Stokian assassin. Your Highness, this is Vera, our squad’s ranger.”
“Greetings, my lady,” Alissanda bowed elegantly.
His sculptured face was dappled with sensual shadows cast by the silver moonlight.
Vera stared at him dazedly. She came to her senses quick enough though, and curtsied in the clumsy, fumbling manner expected of commoners.
“Nice to meet you, Your Highness...”
“Umm...” Alissanda glanced at Kurdak awkwardly, ‘why does she look a little odd?’ his eyes asked.
“Ahaha, she’s like this from time to time. Don’t worry, Your Highness. She’ll return to normal in a while,” Kurdak said, cracking a smile.
He had learned over the years that Vera didn’t know how to behave around handsome men and was easily dazed by a good face. He’s expected this reaction from her.
Kurdak glanced at Leguna as he spoke. Leguna pulled Alissanda away and kept him busy while Kurdak sorted Vera out.
“This is not the time to fall in love. He’s a prince. Pay attention to your behaviour and have a sense of propriety, will you?”
“But...” Vera’s eyes sparkled. “What a face... and that body. He’s also so polite... and he’s a prince... oh...”
“I don’t want you causing trouble!”
That said, Kurdak gave up trying to get Vera back to normal. There was no way she was going to come to her senses before sunrise, if even then.
“Tch, jealous?” Vera asked snidely.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Vera asked, smiling sheepishly.
“Yes! Yes, I’m jealous! My woman cannot look at other men like that!”
“So--“ Vera rolled her eyes. “--do you have feelings for me?”
“I... I do...” Kurdak squeaked.
“Hah! So you admit it!” Vera shouted victoriously before giving Kurdak’s hairy cheek a kiss. “Fine, since this is the cutest you’ve ever looked, I’ll stop messing with you.”
“Nice to meet you, Your Highness. I am Vera Trikel, a 12 strata ranger,” Vera introduced, walking up to the prince.
Her eyes were finally back to normal, though still somewhat glittery.
“Nice to meet you, Miss Vera. I’m Alissanda Hocke, a 17 strata knight,” the prince responded.
“Okay, time to go back. We had to leave camp to avoid Your Highness’s battle, but it’s time we returned. I’m sure Leguna also needs a comfortable bed to rest,” Vera said, having shaken the prince’s hand.
The prince didn’t think this woman would be a tough and sharp-minded one. Her strata didn’t lend itself to such an impression. That said, she was a part of Leguna’s group, so he should have expected she’d be abnormal in at least one way.
Kurdak finally broke from his days, somewhat irritated and completely embarrassed, finally realizing his woman had tricked him.
“Let’s go!” Vera shouted as she dragged Kurdak along.
“Don’t worry, you’re my man,” she whispered as if to an insecure puppy, “The prince can be as handsome as he wants, I’m not playing the game anymore. I’m a sucker for looks, but I’m not lecherous.”
Alissanda stopped for a moment when he saw the old man and the young woman walking so intimately.
“Yup,” Leguna smiled, “They’ve been partners in crime for years.”