Unknown Threats

By: Fracklin Artea

I wrote this fanfic for mainly, anyone who wants to read it. I will try to keep it all ĪGā rated, heh heh heh· The story unfolds, as I think of it. As I write this forward, I have no idea what the story will hold. (whatever I think of, actually) Anyway, have fun reading.

Part 1: The Dream

Having cheated death more than once, the Paladin Blint felt he needed a vacation. Somewhere that no one would look at him and stare. No one would think of him as a lunatic or what not. He had been searching for this paradise for longer than he could imagine, and vowed one day he would find it.

He only wanted to annex himself from the rest of civilization, because he had accomplished many doings, slain many a dragon, sacked entire cities, and other things. To put it mildly, he was famous. So famous the King of Zenobia banished him from his kingdom. Ultimately, it was because Blint had sacked a town in Zenobia, a small one he thought no one would miss. The town's name was forgotten, but not to the King, who was enraged at this act of treason. After several unsuccessful assassination attempts, the King gave up, and let Blint go, on the condition he not show his face in Zenobia ever again.

Thus, Blint left Zenobia to a town in Southern Pogrom Forest, Rhodnia, and lived there in silence. Though several times, he came close to being found there, when the King told him to be a lot farther away, he stayed. After an incedent at the inn, he embarked on a quest for Valparine to see Deneb the Witch. When he was very close, though, he was attacked by bandits and left for dead.

The night he was attacked just happened to be a full moon, and he thought it fitting to die under these circumstances Lying in the ditch about 10 feet away from the road, he looked at the sky. Oddly enough, he saw strange lights in the sky, but could do nothing about it. All he could do is lay there and ponder the turn of events

* * *

1 week before

"Get out of my sight, vagabond!" The InnKeeper yelled.

"What? I woth only having a thpot of fon!" Jokingly replied the very much drunk Blint.

"Aaarrgh! Now! I'm warning you sir, you leave now, else you perish tonight! I'm not joking around, here! Move it!" Blint staggered outside the inn, and to his dismay, saw a legion of Zenobian Knights, clad in armor and all on white horses, surrounding the inn. Now, there's something you don't see every day, he thought to himself.

"Sir, by royal decree, you are hereby commanded to move yourself from your current location. This inn is housing illegal persons, and we must take care of our business. If you have a room here, then come back to it later, but move out of our way now!" The leading knight said after unfolding a scroll with a purple and red ribbon on it.

"Lans? Izzat you? Izzat wreally you?" Blint's speech was altered due to the alarming amount of alcohol in his breath. "I've been lookin' allover for ya!"

" You seem to be mistaken me for another," the knight said as he snapped his fingers towards Blint. Two of the other knights dismounted and hurried over to Blint. Each taking one arm, with a struggle, finally carried him off to another part of town where he couldn't interfere. As they were returning, Blint tried to stand up, only to crash down again.

"Ooohhhh My head hurts urgh!" He fought with himself in the streets like an old drunkard, until a young lady came to his aid and offered

"May we be of assistance?" She was dressed in a long blue robe, the covered everything from her neck to her ankles, and sported a staff made of oak. "The Temple is not too far, kind sir, we will help you any way we can, though."

"Uuuuhhhh Timple? What's a 'Timple'? Ha ha ha ha!!! Timple! What are you talking about?"

" Sir, let me assist you. Please come with me, and hurry! The night is getting cold and dark! You won't last out here unless you find something else to wear than those rags you have now. Come!"

"Umm Okay. On one condition, you let me keep my dedall-dedall what's it called? Oh yeah! Medallion! Umm Where is it? Oh well, it was probably worthless anyway"

" Yes, now come quickly before you freeze!" The cleric escorted Blint across the street and into the Temple, where 2 monks took over. Heating some water in the washroom, and putting it into a tub, gave him a warm bath. When this was done, they outfitted him in a tunic and fine mantle, and a soft blanket. Ushering him to a room in the monastery that was empty, one of them said in a low tone

"May the gods bless you with good dreams tonight," and then they left him alone in his room. A cleric came in with a lit candle for him, set it on the table, and left. Through all of this generosity, Blint couldn't muster to speak. He was dumbfounded, there were people here in the very town he was in who offered him a bath, bed, and clothes, and a place to sleep, asking for nothing in return. The concept couldn't bury in right, doing a lot for nothing?

Thinking of nothing now but a cozy, warm, soft bed to lie in soon took over his thoughts. He crept under the covers, not bothering to get undressed, he liked how his new clothes felt, nice and soft. Not wanting to take them off, fearing they would be stolen from him whilst he was asleep, he kept them on. He was soon fast asleep in the bed, with a horrid dream awaiting him.

In this dream, he was standing in the Royal Courts of Zenobia. Alone, wearing clothes that were suited for a king, he started poking about. He came across a small spring of water, and he bent down to take a drink. While he was bending over, a horse jumped over him. Startled, he looked up to see no horse, no one, nothing. Concentrating again on the water, he knelt down on one knee and caught some water in his cupped hands. Lifting it to his mouth, he heard hoof beats. Dropping the water to look up, again, there was not a thing. Once again, cupping his hands and filling them with water, he lifted them to his face. For some reason, he didn't drink it, but splashed it all over his face instead.

He tried twice more to take a drink, as he was thirsting more and more. Each time, he splashed his face with water, managing to not get any in his mouth. He stood up, and spun 'round, to see a princess behind him, giggling.

"You can't get a sip that way, dear lord! You need a cup, not your hands, you foolish man" she said as she withdrew a 2 handled goblet from nowhere. Handing it to him, and not saying anything, Blint filled the goblet with water. Offering it first to the princess, and she shook her head. Shrugging, he took a swig of water, and felt refreshed.

Then, the princess started to deform, revealing under her soft white skin, ugly, greenish skin that was rotted. Changing her giggle into a cackle, she drew near him. The beast grasped his arm like a lion grasps its prey, with a hard crunch. Blint tried to struggle, but to no avail. He finally withdrew his sword, (which he didn't know where he got), and started swinging. Slicing off the creature's head, it let go of his arm. Upon inspecting it, he saw it covered with a green ooze. Wiping in on the grass, it didn't come off. He washed it in the spring, and the gunk came off. The head of the monster opened it's eyes and looked at Blint, saying:

"It is done! You may think you have won, HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!" They eyes closed, and morning broke. The large bell in the bell-tower started ringing to wake up everyone. Blint arose, only to sink back in bed. His hangover was worse than it was last night He just layed there, waiting for something to happen, maybe for a monk or cleric to come in. Waiting for what seemed like an eternity, Blint had enough time to recover his wits, and to wipe the beads of sweat from his forehead.

Part 2: The Traveler

There came a knock to his door, and a cleric entered.

"Good day, sir. I hope you had splendid dreams. Will you be leaving today, or are you prolonging your stay with us?"

"I'm Leaving now. I have things to do" Blint shoved his head in his hands, from the sheer pain in his head. Sitting up, he found enough strength to stand all the way up, and stood. In the low light of the room, since day was just breaking, he looked like a shadow. "Did you want the clothing back?"

"No, sir, you may keep it. You had nothing, so just keep it," she said with a smile. Blint walked out the door, only to find most of the other people were also awaking. He walked a few feet, then spun around facing the cleric, and asked

"How does one leave these halls? I don't remember the way I came in, else I would just reverse that path" The timid cleric started walking and said "Follow me, sir," and Blint promptly followed. Not going far, they came to the entrance of the Temple.

"I thank you much for your hospitality, may you have many blessings!" Blint was trying to be polite when he didn't think he could be.

"We thank you for staying, giving up your pride to accept our humble offerings," said she. The cleric then bowed to him, and returned inside. Making his way back to the inn, where he vaguely remembered being last night, Blint saw pieces of wood littering the streets. Hmm he wondered, but kept going. Going further, he saw many people lying in pools of blood, and the streets and buildings were being cleaned up by nearby shopkeepers and a few monks.

"Excuse me, what happened here?" Blint asked one of the men working.

"Aye, you mean to say you don't know? Alas, I knew that group of scoundrels at the inn last night were in for trouble! Brought knights from High Zenobia to clean them out, they did! And all because some one tipped off the authorities, what was her name? Vendeb, maybe? No, I think it was more like Danube. Anyway, this witch complained of them in her castle in Valparine, courting her and making marriage proposals and what-not. She tried to make them leave by casting a magic spell on them, but to no avail. They had magic barriers, I believe. Anyway, she couldn't get them to leave, and they smashed in the heads of all the guards she sent after them! Now that must have been an uglier sight than this! After that, she fled by way of riding a huge Gryphon to Zenobia, to beg for mercy and help.

"Aye, I also hear she's not the kind of witch you want to mess with, horrible things have happened to those who tried! I heard she once turned an entire legion of men who were invading into skeletons! Wretched beast she is, I tell you! The knights she went to didn't want to help her at first, but after a spot of trickery, that she-devil lured them to her castle to take care of the other men. I shudder, just thinking about it, what she was threatening them with, or by! Either that or she was so beautiful they didn't want to let her go without getting to know her! Alas, poor warriors!"

"Hmm I see your predicament I will go there and see for myself what this, witch, is like anyway. I also thank you for your tale." Tossing the man a coin, Blint nodded his head and carried on. Blint went next to the stables, where he thought he could rent a horse.

"Sorry, I want to keep all my horses in safe for a while, until there's no more news of bandits attacking travelers," the stable master said to Blint. Out of luck, and deciding not to go back to the Temple, Blint struck out on foot, on his own. He stopped to fill his pack with non-perishable food, because he didn't know how long his trip would take, and he definitely didn't want to starve out on the road. He went around the town, and asked only the people who looked exceedingly rich or well off, and asked them for alms. He also wanted to not appear at Deneb's door with no money, she might only like high-class, rich people.

He finally reached the town gates, and looked out beyond the horizon. Nothing but trees and plains, as far as he could see. He escorted himself over to the guard's tower, to try and get a better look. He arose the ladder, and ended up at the top. From there, he could see a lot farther, because Lake Jannenia could be seen now. He decided that a route through Lake Jannenia, then west and through the mountain pass would be a lot easier (and quicker) than going strait south to Valparine, which would be over many a high mountain.

Now decided on his course, Blint set out on his journey. He clambered down the coarse steps of the ladder back to the ground. Leaving the town Rhodnia in southern Pogrom Forest behind, he embarked on they journey to Deneb the Witch's castle. Heading southwards and a little east, Blint wanted to arrive at the small town of Kaiselly in northern Lake Jannenia. The only problem with this would be that he had to cross a river.

Knowing only what he just discovered from the high place in the sky, he still wanted to see Deneb. Who knows, maybe she could help him? Maybe not, he wondered. Maybe she lured people there to steal them and make them slaves. A hoard of different thoughts ran through Blint's head until about noon. It was early spring, so the temperature was about average for a long travel like this. He sat down under a tree and ate a small meal, then continued.

About 6 PM, Blint was hungry again, and sat down to eat once more. Being very frugal with his food, since he knew that after he ate it, he was out, and would starve to death. For 4 days he continued like this, breaking every few hours for resting or eating, and fill his flask with water from a nearby well or spring. At the closing of the 4th day, he looked like Death waned over. Tired and groggy, he arrived at the river he must cross to get to Kaiselly. There was a ferry there, so he caught a ride to the other side.

Booking at the local inn, he left for the public baths, where he cleaned up. Blint then headed back to the inn, where he checked in, and slept the whole night without waking or having a nightmare. In the morning, all rested up, Blint filled his packs full of food again, his leather flask with water, and headed for the stables.

"Sure, you can have a rid, but I can only take you as far as Kranso Dale. You can get a ride on a boat from out colleagues at the dock, they can take you a bit further. Worth a try, m'lad," the kind Stable Master told Blint.

"Thank you much, Stable Master," he said as he left for the docks.

"Well, let's see I can take you down to Roseanhels, near Valparine, for 5000 goth. Expensive, but that's the price I put on my crew's heads, and mine, no thanks to that she-witch Deneb! Alas, nothing we can do. I'll take you, do you still want to go?"

"Yes, I want to go. Can we do something about the price, though?" After a little bargaining Blint caught a boat ride right then for a hefty price of 2000 goth, 3000 less than what he was supposed to pay. The wind was with them, and they sped along to Roseanhels in less than 2 days. It was barely 3 PM by the time Blint got off the boat.

He made strait for the Stables this time. "Pardon me, but can I get a ride?" Blint asked the man grooming the horses.

"No, but I can sell you one, if you want. 3000 goth, I don't know if I can feed the family this week I'm running out of options," the man said with a worried look in his eye.

" All right, I'll buy a horse, for 3000 goth. Hitch him up, I'll be around in a while to pick him up." Blint left the stables and headed for the inn, where he dined, but did not stay. He came around the stables, and collected his horse. With due payment to the Stable Master, Blint was off, fast as lightning along the road. He made it to Talka before nightfall, and decided to spend the night there. Hiring the Stables to watch over his horse for the night, he went to the inn, rented a room and was fast asleep. When morning broke, he ate a light breakfast, then went to the stables to get his horse. After giving the Stable Master there a tip, he left, due south. He went strait through Baljib, and kept going until Peltmont. He ate lunch, then was off again.

It had been 6 days since he left Rhodnia, and he still wasn't feeling at al homesick. Blint sped along due west, until he came to the mountains. Here, he let his horse have a rest, while he himself took a little nap. When he awoke, it was time to go through the mountains. Making his way through the narrow mountain pass was easy. He came to a river, and with the help of his steed, crossed it. After there, the mountains looked tinted, a different color than the mountains he usually saw. Oh well, he thought to himself.

Pushing on through the mountains was tricky, the terrain was hard and rocky, and there was no road leading through. Not many people visit Deneb I suppose, though Blint as his horse tried to climb a steep hill. After finally reaching the summit, it was past dark, and lights from a town shone in the valley. He started his way down, and after a load of hardships and trials, he made it to the bottom. Blint headed for the town, after giving his horse some water from his flask. When he got to the town, some of the lights were still on, but not all. He made his way through this strange town to the stables, where he booked his horse, then to the inn, where he booked himself.

After a bath (which was provided in the package he bought), he ate a nice dinner of roasted ham, strait from the spits, and washed it all down with mellow wine. He retired to his room, where he rested up for what remained of his journey.

Falling into a deep sleep, he had a dream that Deneb was going to be burned at the stake for being a witch. Trying to save her, Blint was also roasted on a pillar of wood, right in Town Square. Just as his flesh was being singed off, he woke up to the call of the maids, running through the inn waking up those who requested it. This is a mistake, he thought, I didn't ask to be wakened. All the better, he thought, that I awake before I die in that dream

"Which way to Valparine?" Blint asked the custodian.

"D-De-Deneb's? *gulp* As in, the witch Deneb? Umm I can't tell you, sorry. It's not my field, uh, yeah! That's it, I don't handle this stuff!" The custodian seemed anxious to slip away, so Blint let him. It would be useless to interrogate him

"Never mind, get back to your work" Blint left the inn and went to the stable, paid for the keeping of his steed, and set out again. He came across a man who looked like he knew the area, and instead of blurting out his plan, tried to keep it secret.

"Excuse me, I'm new to this area, and I've heard bad things about a certain Deneb around here. Might you be so kind as to direct me in a path that doesn't lead to wherever she lives?"

"Very well. Deneb lives southwest of here, so any direction besides that one will do well for you," the young man replied.

"Eh, thank you. I shall heed your warning!" With that, Blint was off again, atop his steed. He felt unusually tired and sleepy, for having just slept for about 10 hours, and decided to take a small rest. He dismounted, and tied his horse to a tree, then lay down on a soft patch of grass for a little shut-eye. He woke up, to see that his horse was jumping around, neighing wildly. He looked up at the moon, which was out now, and said aloud

"How could I have slept this long? What happened?" As if to answer his question, 3 wizards and a dragon appeared from around the hill. They made their way, the wizards taunting and laughing, about how they made the ultimate sleeping potion that even knocked out a young lad like the food they caught for the dragon. Reaching for his sword, to fight them off, or at least die trying, with dismay found they had taken it. He quickly leapt to his feet, and tried to run away, but to no avail. The magic they made on him had him still sleepy, and he fell down from exhaustion.

They beat him mercilessly, and left the horse to the dragon for a snack, after they had beaten Blint enough.

"Morris, what should we do with him?" One wizard asked.

"I don't know, I say we leave him here!" Said another.

"Ah, just leave him here to die. You know Pelotius doesn't like human flesh, har har har!"

"Well then," said the first, "agreed. We leave him here. Help me put him in the ditch, so that no one passing bye may take pity on him and try to save him!"

"I'm with Jezch," Morris said. They carried Blint into the ditch, about 10 feet away from the road, and left him therefor dead. Covered in moss, writhing in agony, alone, and cold, Blint knew his end was near. For some reason, every now and then, the sky would light up for a second, then go dark again. It wasn't thunder, because there wasn't any noise. He just lay there, waiting for something to come and put him out of his misery.

While he was lying, a figure in a purple, flowing robe was approaching, with 2 dark silhouetted figures came near. He tried to call out to whoever it was, but couldn't. He thought to himself, Those evil wizards! Taking away my voice! Blint started to weep.

Upon hearing this sound, the figure cam loser to him, instead of going northeast, the direction it was going before. The figure bent over Blint, and pressed its hand over his eyes. From the feel of the hands, he could tell they were from a female's hand.

"Sshhh," the woman said, "I'm here, don't worry, you'll be alright. Let's just cast this, " and then Blint blacked out.

Part 3: Deneb

When Blint awoke, his head was as light as air, almost. Feeling swoony, he tried to stand, but couldn't. He started to observe his surroundings: A large cauldron was boiling water, two darkly attendants were tending the fire underneath, (all he could see was the rough outline of their heads, and their long cloaks), and the walls were made out of a shining type of stone which he had never seen. Along the walls were placed several Candelabra stands, each holding 5 candles and lighting the room. For all the light in there, he still couldn't see what the strange men looked like. He could not get up, his body hurt too much, and he strained to remember why. He had not been drinking, and even that would have only gave him a headache, not aches and pains all over his body. He thought he may have been thrown from his horse onto the rocks, but then he remembered.

"My horse! He was eaten alive, by that dragon!" He cried out without thinking. One of the attendants, seeing that Blint had recovered, drew nearer.

"What the! You've got no-- Aaaahhh!!! Get it away, please! Pleeese, get it away! Help! Some one, HELP!!!" He screamed at the sight of the attendant, who had not a head like a normal man, but a pumpkin in its place! It didn't pause or slow down, just keep going at the same pace. It got to him, and he decided that wherever he was, he would have to defend himself. He was a warrior, after all, not a small child who has never left his mother's side! The pumpkin-head came closer, and closer, and closer. It bent down, as if it were going to pick Blint up.

He seized the opportunity, and hurled his fist strait at the part of the pumpkin, which was softer than the other parts. His hand went bounced off, because the pumpkin was petrified. Kicking and screaming, Blint was carried to the cauldron, and set down above it, on a large wooden plank. Fearing for his life, he tried with all his might to hurl the pumpkin-man into the water, thinking it was acid to dissolve him, he thought he could melt the pumpkin instead. He pulled himself up, using the very pumpkin-head he was trying to defeat to help himself to the ground, where he could push that thing in.

"Die, vile creature of hell!" Blint yelled as he pushed as hard as he could on the solemn pumpkin-man. Though he gave it everything he had, he couldn't budge the rather corpulent being, and it picked him up and sat him against the wall, still on the plank. The pumpkin, knowing that Blint greatly desired not to go in, sombered away. He glided to the doorway, which was a good 30 feet at the highest point. More than half the candles blew out, and the room was now lit very dimly. Straining through the darkness, Blint could see a small figure, wearing the same flowing robe, like whoever it was last night. The petite figure glided up the steps to the plank where Blint was, and spoke to him in a gentle voice,

"Who are you, anyway? Why do you want to refuse my hospitality?" She said making a slight smirk on her lips. "I am Deneb, the Good Witch of the East. Hee hee hee! I love saying that so much! "

"Goo-- *gulp* Good Witch? You're a, y-y-you're a, a, a witch?" Blint sank in the corner as best as he could, trying to protect himself with his cloak.

"Oh, come on! You're a man, act like one! It's not like I'm going to-" a loud crash coming from outside interrupted Deneb. "What next? That's the 4th time this week!" Deneb stormed from the room, and at the entrance, spun around and said "It's only water, he was only trying to wash the mud off your body, it's not like he was going to boil you for my supper or anything!" With that, Deneb left the room at an alarming speed.

The solemn pumpkin-head glided again to Blint, and motioned for him to get out of the corner. For whatever reason, maybe some magic spell Deneb put on him while she was over there, but Blint was now willing to do this. He clambered up, using the wall to help him, and slowly processed over to the awaiting cauldron full of water. He stopped in front of it, and the pumpkin sauntered over, and took his filthy mantle and cloak. Rather than having this thing undress him, he decided to finish himself. He sunk into the pool, and was refreshed almost immediately, all his sores disappearing and his cuts and bruises healing.

Spending nearly an hour in the tub, Blint didn't want to leave. Lo, he was just beginning to notice his skin getting wrinkled like a prune, when Deneb appeared in the doorway. He sunk in the corner of the large kettle, so as not to be seen by her, and peered over the top.

"You," she said pointing to Blint, "your turn's over. Get out now or I'm coming in after you! " She said it like she meant business, so Blint, under the mask of the dark water, waded over to the side where the pumpkin-head was waiting. He didn't realize it, but while he was soaking, the pumpkin-head had been cleaning his clothing. He grabbed his tunic and pulled it over his body, even though he was still in the water. He didn't care, because Deneb was waiting impatiently, and that the clothes were already wet from being just washed.

He stepped out of the warm bath and was chilled by the air outside it. Though that was how it was, he quickly gathered his belongings and left the room. Another pumpkin-head was waiting for him there, and it escorted him to a room, with a meal awaiting on the table. After he was seated, the pumpkin-head walked to the closet, opened it, and there was another change of clothes, along with a blanket. Sauntering over to the stove, he pointed below at a bucket of coal, obviously for burning to keep warm. After that was done, the pumpkin-head left the room, only to disappear in the shadows of the long corridor.

He ate his meal in complete silence, save for loud bangs and crashes outside the castle walls. Wondering what on earth was going on out there, Blint stepped away from the table and stood at the window, which was nothing more than a slit in the wall used for raining arrows down upon any raiding forces. He looked down, and saw a great battle on the road northeast of the castle, the direction his window was facing. Much to his surprise, the battle was being fought by hundreds of pumpkin-heads, which were fighting a legion of Fighters and Knights, with a few Clerics to heal the wounded.

He watched as they started raising their arms into the sky, and have huge pumpkins drop from it, landing on the invaders. Just as easily, the Clerics would heal them, and the Fighters and Knights would slash the pumpkins to pieces. Another small army of wizards came in, along with their Dragons, half Red, half Green. The Red Dragons breathed fire upon whoever happened to be closest, and the Green Dragons chewed up anyone, or anything, in their parameter.

Then, out of nowhere, another legion or two of more pumpkin-heads appeared to wreak havoc on the new forces of Wizards and Dragons, as well as the other force. Dropping more huge pumpkins on the battlefield, their strength was in sheer numbers, which was evident when more than 75% of the battle was composed of pumpkins. After about 10 more minutes of battle, the remaining humans fled with what little they had left, and the dragons followed their masters while walking backwards, so as to bite or scorch any of the pumpkins that bothered to give chase. None of them did, however, some of them remained posted at the portcullis to ensure the safety of Deneb and Valparine.

"Wow," he said aloud, "now that Deneb's got a good, err, strong force fighting for her. It's a good thing she doesn't want to conquer the world"

"I know," Deneb said as she entered the room without knocking, wearing a revealing purple robe. "You like? I made them myself!"

"Wha?" Startled at her voice, he spun around. "You mean, you can make these, things?"

"NO! They're not things, they are my beloved children! You must respect them, or you will get nothing more from me! " Deneb said firmly.

"I- I didn't mean to" Blint trailed off, seeing Deneb twirling her blonde hair with her finger. "I mean, I didn't mean to mock them in any way, I'm sorry!"

"Oh please! Don't go overboard, I believe you! " Deneb plopped herself on the bed that was meant for Blint. He patted the soft blanket next to her. "You you know, want to? "

"No way! I don't go in for that sort of thing, Ms. Deneb!" Blint retorted loudly.

"Okay And by the way," she said while getting up, "it's just plain 'Deneb', okay?"

"Umm" Blint began speaking, but didn't bother to finish, because Deneb left. Thinking of the horrible things that could have happened if he had given in Yet, she seemed to give up easily. Though she was stunningly beautiful, he didn't know what to think of her, because after all, she was a witch. Witches were tricky, and usually cunning.

He turned his mind to other thoughts, mainly, him in bed asleep. He put on a nightshirt that was stashed in the closet, and crawled in bed. What am I doing, he asked himself.

{I just can't go to sleep here, like this! I've got to think think of what? Boy, I'm in a predicament! All I can do is lay here thinking Of what? Oh, now I'm going in circles, I'm just} Blint fell asleep while 'thinking'.

When the sun rose, so did Blint. He slept soundly, all except for a crazy dream in which he married Deneb, and stayed at Valparine for the rest of his life. Frightening him good, he didn't want to see Deneb ever again.

Blint didn't know where in the castle he was, so he couldn't find his way anywhere. The best plan of action, he decided, was to leave the door ajar and see if anyone came by. He opened the door wide, only to see that a pumpkin-head sentry was in the hall, facing his door. He peered out the door, looking down the hall both ways, and didn't see any more of them. The pumpkin-head started gliding swiftly down the hall in one direction, and Blint closed the door to his room and followed. Not even thinking now that he had wanted to stay away from Deneb, he went through the winding corridors, one left after another, and finally ended up at Deneb's Study.

Adjacent to the Study was Deneb's Library, which was full with many books. The pumpkin-head left him alone here, and he started looking around. On the table in the Study was an odd looking contraption. Blint looked at it for a while, and tried to figure out how exactly it worked. He was circling the table, trying to get the best view on it. Deneb walked in right then, and sat down in one of the many high-back leather chairs.

"How might this little gadget be manipulated?" He asked Deneb when he saw her.

"Oh, that. That's called a sextant, sailors use it to find their way during daylight hours, when the North Star isn't visible, " she calmly replied.

"Ah, I see. Why do you have one, then?" Blint questioned the young witch.

"Well, let's just say that I have my ways, " Deneb replied chuckling to herself. "I receive many gifts from men, tee hee! "

" Well, that's... nice, I suppose. What do you use that thing for," Blint asked pointing to a safe in the wall.

"Well," she began, "I use it to store some of my precious items, You see, I turn this little knob 3 left, 16 right, 3 left, 8 right, and 3 left again and presto!" The safe opened, and the inside was littered with various jewels, rings, and other gaudy equipment. Deneb slammed it shut, the spun the knob a few times to reset the lock. "That's what this is, alright. I can keep whatever I want in there, even a pumpkin! "

"Why would you put a pumpkin in there? I don't even know why you would put the things you did in that small hole. It seems a little ironic to me, when not a soul can even reach here, with your army of pumpkin-men and all"

"Well, where are you?" Blint looked around, and said "Your Study," to which Deneb replied "Then you see that my army doesn't keep everyone out, just who I want to keep out. For you, I don't think I would let you take what's inside, I'm waiting for some one more important than you. "

"Umm Okay. I don't think I could use such silly trinkets, unless I sold them for money or another horse." Blint put it bluntly.

"Trinkets?? You don't know what power these hold, you-umm by the way, I never did catch your name. What is it?"

"Oh, how foolish of me! Not introducing myself in the presence of a lady! My name is Blint. I am a Royal Paladin of Rodisti, to the far-north. I came to Zenobia for pleasure, and *ahem*, got caught by the King of Zenobia, for doing something, heh. He banished me, and I went to Rhodnia, where I thought I would hide forever. There was an incedent at the inn there, and I left for here after hearing about you. On the way, I was attacked by a group of wizard-bandits, and apparently, you came to the rescue, which I thank you graciously for. That is who I am." Blint sunk into a huge, leather, plush chair.

"And to think," she said shaking her head, "all I did was ask you for your name? And I got the entire story! How sweet of you to come down here just for me, "

"Umm, well, uh" Blint was at a loss for words now that Deneb was smiling brightly. She curled up in the chair she was in.

"You seem to be sort of a trooper, Blint! I just adore strong men like you. Would you like to stay? You can, for however you want, " Deneb batted her eyelashes as she spoke to him, worrying him a little.

"That's generous of you, almost too generous." Deneb put that puppy-dog look in her eyes when he said that. "But, I think I can stay a while longer. Do you have any conditions?"

"Well, let's see Are you a fighter, or more of the kind who stays at home and works? I need a new gardener, if you can do that. The walls in my bedroom need new paint, but I doubt you could do that. I know, instead of having you do chores," Blint looked at her as she smiled softly, "how would you like to become a pumpkin? "

"No way! I don't think I could live as a speechless piece of fruit!" Blint yelled excitedly.

"Oh Okay, if that's what you want, then I will leave you in your current form. How would you like to be the Top General of my army? You won't need to become a pumpkin yourself. " She giggled when Blint bowed his head, thinking about it.

" All right, I'll do it. What exactly do you want me to do?" Blint, after giving it much thought, gave her a yes.

"Well, first off, come with me, " Deneb said as she jumped up and went to the fireplace. She pulled on the head of one of the small gargoyles, and a secret passage opened. She went in, and Blint followed close behind.

Part 4: Rotted Pumpkins

"So," Blint started, "What exactly will I be doing? Will I be on the front lines when enemies attack, or will I be in back planning strategy?"

"Well, for starters, you'll be under my orders. When I tell you to lead a legion of my precious pumpkins into battle, you do it. If I ask for a foot-massage, then that's what you do. If I send you to Valhalla to speak with Mizal, then that's what you're gonna do, okay, sweetie? "

" All right, I can handle this, I think. What are your first orders?" Blint asked excitedly.

"Well, you can start by" Deneb opened a large door at the end of the tunnel, and went on with "Making yourself able to speak with them! "

"And I'll still remain in my current state, right?" Blint looked at her hopefully, but she was too busy setting up her next spell.

"Hmm? Oh, yes, you will just have the power to communicate my beloved, precious children! " Deneb was also getting excited at the thought of having a new General for her army.

She set up a pedestal that had a 3-pointed star on the center, in the middle of the small circular room. Hurrying over to the closet, she picked out a statuette, and put its 3-pointed base exactly on the star. The stature was of a pumpkin, with a mouth, and the mouth was open. After this as done, Deneb asked Blint

"Would you step over here, hon? " Deneb put Blint next to the pedestal, and walked over to a pulpit from which she started looking through a thick book. "A-ha!" She exclaimed when she found the right one, then "Okay, repeat after me, please, Blint. "

Deneb started reading phrases from the book in the tongue of witches, and the carpet beneath Blint started to glow. After they were done, Deneb stepped down and called for one of her pumpkin-heads. One came, and said

"My lady, what do you wish of me?" Though his mouth did not move, he still was speaking. The voice came from within.

"This is your new General. Tell everyone here that we have found some one, and to meet in the court yard." She said to the pumpkin-head.

"Very well, my Lady" the pumpkin glided back out the door and down the hallway, through the study, and was gone.

"Blint, 'a speechless piece of fruit'? Ha ha ha, now you know better! " Deneb taunted Blint by making him swallow his words.

"Well, they were not speaking before!" He retorted.

"Oh, no matter. We must make haste for the balcony, you have a speech to give, " she said as she grasped his arm and pulled him out.

"But, what am I supposed to say? I can't give a speech without preparing first! What am I to do?" he said, worryingly.

"Oh, just tell them that you're their boss, and they'll all listen to you. It's that simple, sweetie! " Then, thinking

{Would you stop calling me 'sweetie', please?} But saying

"Alright," he said as he pulled his arm away. "I'll just say I'm their boss, and they'll all be mine to command?" He asked with a glint in his eye.

"No! They're all mine, and they always will be! You'll just be able to give some of them orders, like the cleaning staff, the armies, and some of the kitchen workers. You can't tell my personal assistants what to do, nor can you make the bath-attendants do anything except prepare a bath for one of us, "

"Umm Okay, I'll remember that," Blint was cut off when Deneb stopped dead in her tracks in front of a purple curtain. She slowly turned around to face Blint. Grabbing him by both arms, she thrust his through the curtain to the other side. He was facing the courtyard below, which was full of pumpkin-heads, and more were gathering still. He stood before the railing, looking down at the courtyard, full of orange-headed pumpkin-men.

Deneb whispered behind him

"Psst! Sorry about that, I really am! " She poked her head through the curtain, and seeing the courtyard full with pumpkin-heads, chuckled to herself. She then stepped out onto the balcony next to Blint. As the assembly moved in till they were packed shoulder to shoulder, Blint was searching for what he might say. Deneb said softly

"You don't need to make a big speech, just tell them that you're my new General, and then I can take care of the rest " With this relief, Blint stopped racking his brain for the right words, and chose something a little more simple. A few seconds later, Deneb turned to him and said "They're all here," and Blint started.

"Whether or not you know why you are here tonight, it doesn't matter. I am your new General, my name is Blint. You will address me as Commander Blint, or whatever title(s) are more fitting of the occasion. Deneb," he gestured Deneb to step forward, and she stood next to him, and then speaking out

"My beloved children! I have found a new leader for you! One who is more durable than the last, I say! He is your commanding officer now, and those of you who are to be under his command, (you know who you are), follow his orders. You are dismissed."

The crowd did not really object to this, since they were, for lack of a better term, mindless. Deneb and Blint walked through the curtain behind them, and the crowd dispersed.

"Whew. Do you anything, Deneb?" Blint asked.

"Well, there is one thing " She stared into his eyes with a smile on her face. "I would like you to make sure the arms cache is still full. Would you do that, hon? "

"As good as done. Where is it?" Blint realized he was asking a stupid question which needed to be asked.

"Okay, I guess first you need to learn your way around Valparine. You can either get a personal tour, by me or ask one of my servants."

"Well, I'll wander about the place for a while, until I get accustomed to it. If you'll excuse me, Deneb," he said as departed down a different hallway. Deneb kept going her own way. Blint ended spending most the entire night wandering about, looking at things, and memorizing ways through the castle.

Part 5: Questions Answered

Blint, after acquainting himself with the castle and a few of his troops, finally found Deneb, in her Study. Half the books in the adjoining Library were unshelved, laying in piles on the table or on the floor, stacked a little less than neatly. Deneb herself had one of the books, and was sitting curled up in a reclining plush chair, reading intently. She didn't even notice him standing in the doorway she was so absorbed in her reading.

"Deneb," Blint began. Deneb shrieked as she jumped up, and put her hand over her heart as she sunk back into the chair.

"Don't EVER scare me like that again! You almost gave me a heart attack! What did you want? " She asked, a little more calmly than the first things she said.

"I Why are all these books out?" He trailed off, then patches his sentence with what was on his mind.

"Oh, that. I'm a witch, you know. I have to keep up with all my witch-trends, tee hee! " She giggled.

"I see. Anyway, what I came here for, I am now confident I know my way around the castle."

"Ooh, that's nice. " Deneb said as she returned to her book. Blint, thinking he was dismissed by this gesture, went into the Library. There, he saw several pumpkin heads cleaning up, re-shelving the books.

"Hello, my friends." He said, trying to make use of his new powers. The 3 pumpkin-heads looked up at him and stared. The kind of stare that felt like it would bore a hole in his skull. From this, he gathered they either didn't want to be disturbed, they didn't like him, they were not under his command, or any combination of those.

"Well, carry on!" He said, waving his hand, trying to make the best of a not so good situation. The pumpkin-heads returned to the books, stocking the wide wooden shelves. He walked over to one of the piles, picked up a book, opened it and read the inscription:

To my darling Deneb,

Life, shall I say, Death has been hard without you. How I wish to hold you once more! The Halls of the Dead are lonely, why don't you come and visit me once in a while? I send you this book to remember me by


{Hmm So, this person is in love with Deneb? Nah, probably not. After all, he said he was dead freaky} He was busy thinking to himself when Deneb called out

"Hey hon, why don't you bring me that book you have with you? I just finished this one!" She said lightly, holding a thick book up in the air. Blint reluctantly walked over to Deneb, and handing it to her, she grabbed his hand softly and said "Oh, thank you so much! " He withdrew his hands, and went back into the library, where he asked

"How long did it take you to read all these books?" Deneb looked up at him, a little startled, and responded with

"Oh, about a month. Why? "

"A month?! You mean, the last time we saw each other was a month ago?" He proclaimed loudly.

"Well, yes, I suppose it has been a full month. I've looked for you all over, but couldn't find you anywhere " She began, looking surprised to see that he didn't know that an entire month had gone by.

"Well, I'm I have to be somewhere, please do me the honor of excusing me," Blint said as he hurried out of the Library and Study. He went around the castle to the kitchen, and to his delight, found a pumpkin-head there.

"Make a special meal tonight, in honor of the Mistress of Valparine, Deneb."

"May I ask why? There is no important date which falls on today, my Liege, she also did not request it," the pumpkin-head solemnly pronounced.

"Well, she deserves it. Does she not, in your opinion?" Blint asked raising an eyebrow, looking strait at the pumpkin-head.

"Well, I would suppose she does deserve a grand meal once in a while"

"Then prepare one. If you need help, summon it. Just be sure to have it all ready at or before 5:30, and if before, keep it warm," Blint finished giving the pumpkin-head his orders and left.

"Yes, my Lord," the pumpkin-head responded, bowing. Blint left the kitchen and went to Deneb's Study again, where he found Deneb, to his dismay, on a different book.

"Please do not tell me another month has passed," he told her with an odd look in his eye.

"Oh, no, it's just that I've read that one before." Blint, now greatly relieved, went on to her with

"I am having a meal prepared, will you be ready to accept it at 5:30? I am having the chef in the kitchen prepare something good to eat."

"Well, I guess I could go I'll need a bath first, I can't eat looking like this," Deneb said standing up and going into the Library to put the book away. To Blint, she looked marvelous from all angles, he didn't know what she meant by 'looking like this'. She told him to summon her bath-attendants and prepare a bath for Deneb, the way she likes it. He did so, finding the attendants where they were supposed to be.

"Prepare a bath for Deneb, just the way she likes it. Move quickly, she is almost upon us," he said to the pumpkins-in-waiting. They bowed without a word, and started up the fire and putting fresh water in the cauldron. He dispersed quickly, so as not to have a run-in with Deneb when she was on her way to receive her bath.

Making haste to his quarters, which he re-located near the entrance to the castle, so in the emergency of battle he would be able to be there soon. At his quarters, he himself took a towel and soaked it in water, then wiped himself off of any filth or unwanted materials form his body. He changed into a blue tunic and black cloak, and departed for the dining room. When there, he found the pumpkin-heads putting platters with covers on top out on the table, setting up the silverware, and tall wineglasses.

Finding everything acceptable, Blint left for the courtyard, where he had almost 20 minutes until dinner. There was no one, no pumpkin-heads or otherwise, in the courtyard. Sitting on a sofa carved out of rock, he began to ponder the turn of events. He left Rhodnia, he came to Deneb's Castle, bandits attacked him, Deneb rescued him, and he became her top General, all in less than 2 weeks. But so little happened in the month that just went by, and he didn't even know it. How could he have lost track of time that easily? He didn't even see the sun rising or setting, like it was invisible to him. He started thinking of things to ask Deneb at the dinner table, questions he didn't even know she could answer. Oh well, he thought, it wouldn't matter that much.

5 minutes until dinner, so he left the courtyard and went to the dining room where he found Deneb and 4 of her assistants seating themselves around the table.

"Well, come on, Blint! " Deneb said cheerfully. Blint sat down in the chair across the table from Deneb, and they started dining.

"I have a few questions I would like answers to" Blint started, and Deneb looked up between bites of ham. She didn't have the best of manners, because she was used to eating alone, so she had no need for table manners. She tried her best, from what she learned as a small child, like 'Don't eat with your hands!', 'Elbows off the table!', and 'Well, you clean it up!'.

"Anyway," he went on, "I have been wondering many things. When did I arrive here?"

"Well, you got here about a total of 5 months ago. I don't know where you are most of the time, you're usually nowhere to be found, " she answered calmly to him.

"Hmm Okay, not really explaining anything, but let us go on. Why were you so eager to make me your top General? I was here barely two days, and was already Leader of your Army."

"Uh, no, it took many dinners a lot like this one to convince you to join me. You just don't remember, that's all. "

"How on Earth could I not remember something like dinner tonight?"

"I think it may be the air around here, or a spell cast on you by those bandits that tried to kill you on your way here. "

"Or you" he accidentally said aloud.

"? What do you mean by that?"

"Oh, sorry, I don't know where my mind is now I've been so confused lately," Blint tried to make up, but Deneb saw through his false apology.

"Oh, I see. You think I did it? Well, you're wrong!" she declared loudly.

"I'm sorry, I really am!" Blint tried to make up, but Deneb wouldn't let him off the hook that easy. She pressed on:

"No, you think I'm out to get you, don't you? If I had known you would be like this, I would've taken mind-reading classes more seriously!"

"Deneb, please stop," Blint pleaded.

"No, YOU stop! I don't fell like eating any more, take this away!" Deneb closed her eyes and clenched her fists at her sides while she screamed these orders. A pumpkin-head came from the kitchen, and bent over in front of her to take the dishes away. A slight gesture from Blint told the pumpkin-head to stand back, and so it did.

"Deneb, it was a slip of my tongue, not anything personal," Blint said trying to make amends. Deneb made a small squeal without opening her mouth, and unclenched her fists and opened her eyes.

"Why did I hire you in the first place?" she asked in a sarcastic tone.

"I don't know, you're the one who remembers all these things that I don't. Shouldn't you know?"

" Well, I think it was because you're so, charming, " Deneb said batting her eyelashes.

"Maybe so. May we go on, then?" Blint asked hopefully.

"Yes, we shall." Deneb motioned for the pumpkin-head waiting to take her dinner back into the kitchen to leave, and it did.

"Next question. Since I have been here, I don't ever recall seeing the sun, rising or setting. It has been like an eternal evening here, what is going on?"

"Well, you being infused with my magic might have done something for this. When you said that prayer during the ceremony, I don't know if you knew this or not, but you pledged yourself to my pumpkin-children and me, which includes never being able to experience sunlight. To them and you, the sun is always on the other side of the world, for me, it rises and falls like, well, the sun! I'm sorry if you don't like it this way. "

"Well, since I have no life to go back to eventually, I might as well stay like this. One more thing, I just happen to notice your 'children' have not touched any food tonight It's nothing, I'm just curious."

"If you were a pumpkin, how much would you eat? " Was Deneb's answer.

"Well," Blint said as he started giving up, "I must be gone now. Tomorrow, or shall I say, next month?" he asked.

"Tomorrow, I don't think I could wait another month, "

Part 6: Chastisement

"Good morning," Blint heard the cheerful voice of Deneb say. Blint sat up in bed, and tried his best to rub the sleep from his eyes.

"Why'd you wake me up?" Blint asked groggily.

"Tsk tsk, Blint! You told me to wake you up at dinner last night, silly! " She replied.

"How long has it been?"

"Well, judging by the position of the sun, I'd say about 15 hours. "

"Whew, it seems like 5 minutes to me! Oh wait, that's because time for me passes at a different speed, right?"

"Yes, hon. it does. " Blint struggled to get out of bed, and now saw that Deneb was sitting on the bed beside him.

"So, what do you need from me?" He asked.

"Well, I know that a whole brigade of Royal Troops are coming to invade, so you can probably start by doing that, " She seemed to not worry when she said that, even though her life could be in danger.

"Whoa! All right, your castle is as good as safe. Leave it to me, and your, rather, my army. I will await the enemy now." Blint jumped up and ran from the room, ducked behind a corner, and waited until Deneb left. Then he went back inside and changed clothes.

After he put on his war-clothing, a suit of golden armor, and a sword black as the eternal night he was doomed to endure, he went to the front lines. Realizing he had no one with him, he called out to a few pumpkins on top of the castle to round up some soldiers. They moved exceedingly fast, to him, when to everyone else (besides themselves), they were slow.

He waited for what seemed like 10 minutes, but was closer to an hour in real time. A pumpkin-head army came out from the castle, and he gave them all positions to be, where they would be able to surprise the enemy and have a better chance of winning.

After every pumpkin-head was assembled, he placed himself in a strategic position, and planned to cut down the enemy leader when he came through, then jump from harm's way. Waiting for a while, almost an hour to him and the pumpkin-heads, but over 5 hours for everyone else.

Finally, the 'moment of truth' came, and they heard the sound of hoof beats coming closer and closer. Blint saw Deneb in the highest tower, casting a spell over the army. He didn't know what the spell was or did, yet. He just sat where he was, and listened to the sound of the horses' hoofs, as they slowed down.

The invaders came up to the portcullis, which was closed.

"Deneb! Come out and surrender, or suffer defeat from my army!" The Lead called out. Blint had hardly realized him passing by, he moved so fast. The enemy leader seemed to be in with the group, as a sort of camouflage or protection. He called out three times, and each time there came no answer from anyone.

Blint was busy motioning to the pumpkins on what to do, and when to do it. After all was set, they kept waiting. They didn't try to raise the huge iron portcullis, they found a tree and chopped off the branches and carved the front of it, forming a battering ram. Before they even had the chance to charge, Blint jumped out from behind the mound of soil where he was waiting and yelled

"Death to all Zenobia!" which really caught the Royal Forces off their guard. He made his way through the startled crowd, dodging axe-swings and sword lunges, and other attacks. He made his way to the Leader, and ducking under his swinging sword, managed to get behind him and put him in a headlock.

"Denounce Gran, Scum of the Earth!" Blint yelled in the Leader's ears. The brave Knight promptly responded with

"?? Did you not heat that the High King Gran was killed? Are you the only man on Earth who does not know this? You fool!" He yelled back.

"Very Well, you can die now, unless you are willing to submit to me!"

"I would sooner befriend that she-devil, Deneb!" Blint retorted to this by cleaving the man's head off, and letting his body falls to the ground.

"Make example of this puny, insignificant little wretch!" Blint yelled at the stunned legion of Royal Officers. All throughout this scene, pumpkin-heads were knocking down knights and clerics from behind with huge pumpkins. Through all of this, very few Zenobians were aware that their fellow men were dying. Soon, after a long and tedious battle, the number of Zenobian Troops fell below 10. Blint spared heir life, and sent them to Deneb, escorted without their weapons or armor and by 30 pumpkin-heads, and Blint himself. He was the first to speak to Deneb:

"My Lady, we have brought you these swine, captured and spared by me. I offer them to you, to do with as you wish." Deneb looked them over, and said

"Bring them all here," and she left the room and went to the Study. She dismissed the 30 pumpkin-heads, and they went back to the castle entrance to keep watch. Deneb went through the secret door in the fireplace, and told Blint what she had done in the tower. She had cast a spell on them to make the not so slow, to make them speed up to normal time-flow.

"By the way, you're on a great winning streak! 14 wins to no losses, that's awesome! " Deneb exclaimed. Blint dismissed this as normal, and didn't give it a second thought.

Once in the circular room Blint remembered only so well, Deneb picked out 10 of the best pumpkins from a ripe pumpkin patch, and began the ceremony. Blint stayed, only to watch that the officers who weren't having their bodies transformed didn't try to escape. Once all the men were transformed into pumpkin-heads, Blint led them to the castle entrance to prepare for another strike. All in all, the total number of pumpkin-heads lost, including the 10 new ones, was one 4. Thanks to their surprise attack, and the fact that the invaders didn't have any magic users besides 2 clerics, and no dragons, they suffered only very minor casualties.

Blint started to worry when he saw 2 ravens flying in the direction the invaders came from, but was soon in a non-caring state, as he planned another attack. Unlike the surprise attack they had just planned, he planned an attack from above the castle walls and in front. He knew Zenobia now knew that he had used that strategy before, and decided they would be prepared for it. Placing 100 pumpkin-heads on the castle walls, and another 100 around the corners of the castle, and the rest, which was about 300, in front, awaiting the attack.

As he expected, more Zenobian Forces were ahead, all coming in from multiple directions, but still unable to detect the hidden pumpkin-heads around the corners and on the walls. They marched up to meet Blint's Forces, and stopped about 200 feet away.

"Surrender now, Pond Scum! Do not let one victory go to your head!" the Commander said in a pompous tone of voice.

"Never, you who invade for no reason!" Blint retorted.

"HA! You say for no reason, like the experiments Deneb does are not as evil as her own self! You will all pay for supporting her, in all her misdeeds!"

With that, the Zenobian Captain snapped his fingers toward Blint, and his entire Forces were upon them. Though the pumpkin-heads were suited in armor, and were practically invincible since they could not feel pain, they were still losing. The Zenobian Forces were gaining on them, with enough clerics and shamans to heal the entire Battalion.

It was evident; they were losing. One after another, the pumpkin-heads were cleaved into several pieces by the razor-sharp swords of the Zenobians. Slowly, they were losing. There was no hope for anyone, Blint thought. He managed to slip away, behind some shrubbery and trees. The best course of action, so it seemed, was to jump out and destroy Mr. Zenobian Captain, who did not seem to notice him. He climbed the tree, and watched until the Enemy Leader grew close enough to pounce upon him. Blint leapt from the tree's strong limb, and landed behind the Zenobian. Blint putting his arm around him spun around so as to shield himself from any projectiles.

"Denounce your Great Filth, Gran!" he yelled.

"Die, foolish woman!" The straw that broke the camel's back was that, being called 'woman'. Blint threw the man down on the ground, and jumped into the air, aiming his sword at the Enemy Leader. He missed. The brave Zenobian rolled to one side, and grabbed his sword. A duel began, between the two Leaders. The clanking of metal against metal was the only thing each of them could hear through gritted teeth.

"I am Lans, fear me!" the angered Zenobian roared. Blint was stunned, and drew back, putting his sword in a defensive position.

"Lans? Is that really you?" asked the startled Blint.

"What of it! The only significance my name has to you is that I will send you to your doom!" Lans yelled as he thrust his sword down on Blint. Blint parried, swung his sword to divert that of Lans to the side, but to not attack.

"Is it really THE Lans? Lans, who fought with another named Blint?" Blint inquired.

"Be that as it may, you left us! You scoundrel, you had nothing in your heart but hatred toward your fellow man! You deserve to die!" Lans swung again, but met with the metal of Blint's defensive position.

"Lans, why are you trying this? Was it really you in Rhodnia, that long time ago?"

"It was, we were looking for you, but could not find you." Lans swung again, and Blint defended again. "All we found was your gang of fellow criminals, but they were taken care of. Their flesh was brought back to King Gran," He said swinging again, but Blint always managed to block it, "but he did not want it! He wanted yours, too bad he dies before he could claim his prize!"

Blint was enraged now, to know that the people he didn't know were murdered because of him, and he started fighting again. After that, Lans would laugh at Blint, which only made his anger stronger. Finally, Blint lunged with all his might, hoping to cut down his foe, but in his anger, did not see the tree branch in front of him. With all his might, he tripped and landed on his face.

Lans grabbed Blint's blackened sword, and tossed it to one side.

"Now, my old friend, Death is knocking!" The sword of Holy Lans glint in the sunlight, and was brought down on Blint.

Blint started to hack and cough, his nose started to bleed, and wriggled all over the ground. He saw Deneb again in the tower, she was looking down at him, frowning.

"I-I-I'm sorry, Deneb" He muttered, then gave his last breath.

Right after his death, the entire army, both invaders and pumpkin-heads, disappeared completely. No trace was left of them.

Part 7: Epilogue

"You got your prize, and my best-ever General, now leave me alone!" Deneb shrieks at Lans.

"Well, I guess I can, but the next time you are doing anything wrong, I'll be coming again." Lans left the room.

"It's sad," Deneb said to her pumpkin-head, "that a man so good at what he does could be so evil. I just don't see the point. I had to use my magic just to create that illusion for him, and he used his own brain to keep it all up.

"I guess it had to be this way, when you find a criminal along your way, you need to give him over to the proper authorities, no matter how good he was Boo hoo. I wish he was still here, "

So it was, Deneb plotted with Lans, a superb illusion to hand Blint back over to Zenobia. Making everything he saw and heard merely the work of magic, it was a deal made with Lans, 'Not to attack her, if she was to turn over Blint willingly'. She did, though it took a while, because he was just too good to throw away on the first day. Tricking him into thinking time was passing faster than it was, making him feel different, making him think he was better than everyone else at everything else. So he thought he could win a battle, which was his grave mistake.

The End