Not Alone
Celeste Zamarelli

Author's Note: This story does contain spoilers for chapters 4 and 5 of Suikoden 3. Also, I've taken a few liberties with some characters from the original Suikoden without actually playing it, so I apologize if anyone takes offense.

"Ro, Rome....o......"

What am I doing here? How did I ever let that weirdo talk me into starring in this play?

"I take thee at thy word: Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized; henceforth I never will be Romeo."

I can’t believe this is happening! Playing Romeo to Lady Chris’s Juliet!


What was my line again?

"The wings of love carried me easily over these walls."

Hmmm… perhaps Lady Chris needed more time to learn her lines.


Well, at least Borus knows his lines.

"There lies more peril in your eyes than twenty of their swords: Give me but your sweet look, and I am proof against their enmity."

I certainly played this scene out in my head rather differently…

"The voices came from somewhere around here."

That little knight looks very disappointed. Poor human.

"Um, ummmm......"

I sincerely doubt that there is a castle anywhere in Zexen with guards that look like Dupa and Shiba…

"Oh, Mistress Juliet, I heard the sounds of people talking here..."

Actually I only heard one person talking.

"Ye... yes."

Thank the goddess we’re only putting on one scene.

"I'm very sorry. Please forgive my rudeness."

Too bad the human hid. I would have liked to show off my skill in battle in front of this large audience.

"What is it? You got any complaints?"

I wish he would just leave already…

"Juliet, though we have only just been talking, must we part already?"

I could go on playing this part forever…


When I said I wanted to act, I didn’t mean as the nurse.

"I'm... I'm heading back inside."

Finally. I thought it would never end. But poor Louis… he has to be the nurse.

"Yet I feel sad a THOUSAND times over to see you go. If you love me, let me see your face once more."

Oh, do say you love me, Lady Chris!

"The producer sent me back on stage."

Damn him.

"Aaaah, Juliet, the one for me!!"

Lady Chris, there could never be another like you!

"Um, Ummmm...."

This has got to be the stupidest play on earth…Romeo is so pathetic.

"Madam! Come quickly!"

I wanted to be Romeo. Maybe next time.

"Um, ummm... does this mean I'm finally allowed off stage? ... Give me a break."

No wonder Juliet killed herself… she must have gotten bored.

"Sleep dwell upon your eyes, peace in your breast! In that peace and in that sleep I would also share, if I could only be at your side."

If only…

"I said, I'm hopeless as an actress..."

Huh, no wonder they booed. This play is awful. And maybe next time they won’t force me onto the stage.

Borus shook his head as he heard the boos emanating from the audience. Well, that certainly didn’t play out the way I had wished, the knight thought to himself. My performance was rather good though, or at least I thought it was. Wasn’t too hard a part to play, he thought ruefully.

"Borus! Well, well, if it isn’t our very own Romeo."


"Excellent performance, if I may say so," the dark-haired knight said. "Didn’t seem as though our Lady Chris was impressed, though."

"Thank you, for the part that I will choose to take as a compliment, Percival," Borus answered.

Suddenly a gruff voice rang out. "Borus! You know they’re booing you back there!"

"Leo, I don’t believe they’re booing Borus in particular. Given the circumstances, I think he did rather well," the tall elf Roland said, walking up behind Leo.

"Yes, now, don’t go being too hard on poor Borus, Leo. After all, he was truly acting from his heart, weren’t you, Borus?"

The blond knight looked at Percival exasperatedly. "It was just a play. I acted as I saw fit. No need to make it out to be more than it was." Borus hoped he spoke confidently enough to hide the fact that he really hadn’t been acting while he was on stage.

Percival chuckled. "Of course, sir, whatever you say. We all know Borus has only friendship for our dear Captain, don’t we?"

Leo snorted. "Yes, and the Lizard Clan are really a very peaceful tribe."

"Now, now, what’s going on over here?"

Borus almost visibly relaxed as he saw Salome walk up to join them. "The other knights are just mocking the play, that’s all."

"That was harsh, Borus. We’re merely offering our opinions, isn’t that right, Roland?"

Roland shrugged in response to Percival’s comment.

"Oh is that all?" Salome replied. "Actually, I was impressed, Borus. Although Lady Chris seemed not to know her lines very well…"

"She’d know them better if I were to play the part of Romeo, I think," Percival said nonchalantly.

"What was that, Percival?"

The knights turned abruptly at the sound of the voice. "Ah, Lady Chris! I was simply extolling the virtues of your remarkable performance!"

"‘Remarkable performance’? That’s a bit much even for you, isn’t it, Percival? I think it’s safe to say I’m better on the battlefield than on the stage," Chris answered with a laugh.

"But that’s not to say we didn’t all thoroughly enjoy seeing you spout those beautiful words upon that balcony-"

"Enough!" Chris said with a wave of her hand. "I’d prefer to wipe that experience from my memory, if you please. I’m just amazed that Borus could actually remember his lines. I certainly couldn't remember mine."

"Oh it was nothing, Lady Chris. I’ve read the play before, that’s all."

"Yes, he practices it every night in front of the mirror, imagining the day that Lady Chris would be his Juliet."

"Percival!" Borus hissed. "Quiet!"

Luckily for Borus, Chris had been conversing with Salome and missed Percival’s words. "I agree, Salome. I’ll put together a party tomorrow and visit a few of the nearby areas. We can use all the help we can get."

Chris was startled awake by the sound of knocking at her door. She reluctantly returned to wakefulness. What was it she had been dreaming? It had seemed important… The knocking grew louder. "Yes, yes, I’m awake."

"I’m sorry to wake you, milady, but Salome hoped you would get an early start," came the slightly muffled sound of Louis’s voice through the door.

"It’s quite all right, Louis, I understand." Chris opened the door to reveal her young squire.

"I’ve laid out your armor for you, milady. Do you need anything else?"

"No, that’s fine, thank you, Louis."

"Salome wishes for you to leave whenever you are ready, Lady Chris."

"All right, Louis. I’ll just get ready and gather a few companions. Will you prepare my horse?"

"Of course, milady." Louis hurried off.

Chris smiled at his enthusiasm. Such a charming boy. She finished putting on her armor, picked up her sword, and went to find a party.

"So tell me, Borus, did you throw yourself at the part of Romeo when you found out that Lady Chris was going to be playing Juliet?"

"For the love of Sadie, Percival, are you still going on about that?" Borus was more than a little annoyed at the teasing of his best friend.

"I only want to know the details. After all, I know this must have been a momentous occasion for you," Percival innocently replied.

The blond knight could only scowl as he went to answer the door. "Ah, Lady Chris! I trust you slept well?"

"Yes, thank you, Borus."

"And the lady appears," Percival muttered under his breath.

"Is there anything I can do for you, Lady Chris? Perhaps you have need of my swordsmanship?"

"Yes, actually, that’s why I’m here. Salome suggested I do some recruiting for our army, and I thought perhaps you and Percival might be interested."

"Of course! We would be delighted. When do we leave?"

"Just as soon as I can get a party together. Any suggestions?"

Percival quickly stepped forward, finally being able to get a word in. "What about that young knight, Fred? He certainly seems enthusiastic."

Chris laughed at that. "Yes, that may actually be an understatement. All right, so we’ll take Fred and Rico. And I think I’ll also ask that young girl, Sanae Y. She seems to really want to practice her skills."

"I could go get them, Lady Chris, so you can finish anything else you have to do," Borus offered.

"Thank you, Borus, that would be helpful. I’ll meet you at the front of the castle, then." Chris made her exit.

"Ever so accommodating, aren’t you, Borus?" Percival asked mockingly.

Borus just shrugged. "I do what I can to help her out, that’s all. Maybe you’re just jealous that I always think of it first."

"What? Me, jealous? Of you? Hah!" Percival spluttered, heading out after the shorter knight.

The small group of fighters gathered at the exit of the run-down castle that served as their headquarters. "The Maximillian Knights are at your service, Lady Chris!"

A short, brunette girl tugged at the taller dark-haired knight’s shirt. "Master Fred, I think she knows we’re at her service. She asked us, after all."

"I know that, Rico! I’m only stating my support. A good knight should always clearly state his allegiance to his lord," Fred said matter-of-factly.

"Oh, of course, Master!" Rico added conspiratorially to the young girl with large glasses standing beside her, "Master Fred is so smart! I always listen to what he says so that one day, I can be as great as him!"

Sanae Y. agreed, "Yes, he seems to know a great deal. I think my parents would approve of him. I shall watch him so that I may learn from him and become as great as my parents."

Late that night, Borus had a dream. He was sitting on a bed talking to a young woman. But, somehow, it wasn’t him. He could feel the man’s emotions, but he was clad all in blue, his sword was not his own, and he seemed to be rather taller than he should be. Borus did not recognize the woman, either. She was very beautiful, with long auburn hair and green eyes. She radiated an air of courage and strength, but she seemed very sad. Borus sensed by the tension in the room that these people were in a time of war. He could feel the blue-clad man’s love for this woman, and also his desire to help her. He could not make out their words, for some reason, but he knew that the woman, who seemed to be the leader of their army, or whatever it was, was confiding in the man. Borus could feel how he reached out to her and spoke words of encouragement, as she spoke of great matters and hard tasks that must be done. Slowly the room faded out, and Borus slept dreamlessly.

That same night, Chris also dreamed. In fact, she dreamed of the same man and woman that Borus had. She looked down at herself, wearing a red cape and with a bow and a quiver of arrows slung across her back, and at the man all in blue next to her. He was handsome, with strong features, unruly brown hair, and clear blue eyes. Although Chris did not know who this man was, she felt oddly comforted by his presence. She felt that a great burden was upon her shoulders and that she was in the midst of making important decisions on which the fate of many lives would depend. And she knew that this man, this man she loved, would stand by her and help her in whatever way he could. Then the room faded out, and Chris slept, feeling more peaceful than she had in a long time.

Both Borus and Chris would recall their dreams vividly the next morning, neither guessing that the other had shared in it also.

Chris was standing on the ship at sunset, letting the array of colors wash over her face. She inhaled deeply, enjoying both the beauty and the serenity.

"I thought you would be inside planning our next move with the other commanders, Lady Chris."

The silver-haired knight turned around at the unexpected sound of another voice. "And I thought you would be honing your skills, Borus."

Borus laughed. "I did my training this morning, before anyone else woke up. I prefer the quiet."

"Yes, it is quite hard to get a moment to yourself around here these days. That is why I like to come out here. If I try hard enough, I can forget about all my problems, if only for a little while."

The fair-haired man inwardly ached to know what Chris’s problems were, but outwardly he replied lightly, "I suppose that makes two of us, then. I was getting rather tired of listening to Percival alternately poke fun at me and talk about his many admirers."

That got a smile out of Chris. The two knights just stood for a while in the comfortable silence that comes from long companionship and mutual trust. The sky gradually darkened as night set in. Chris shivered.

"Are you cold, milady?"

"Oh, no, I think I just caught a bit of a chill. It must be from the lake being so nearby."

Borus nodded. They lapsed into silence again. Suddenly he couldn’t resist any longer not asking Chris to confide in him. "If you don’t mind my saying, Lady Chris, but you can talk to me, if you want," he said hesitantly.

"Talk to you?" Chris was puzzled.

"I mean to say, you don’t have to keep all your worries inside, come out here to make them go away for a while. Perhaps all you need is an ear to listen?"

"Like that woman and the man in blue," Chris said softly.

"What?" Borus asked, surprised.

"Oh, it’s nothing. Just a dream I had."

"About a woman confiding in a man dressed all in blue?"

Chris turned wide-eyed to the other knight. "Why, yes. How did you know?"

Borus was getting quite excited. "Because I had the same dream!"

"What do you mean you had the same dream? That’s crazy!"

"No, it’s not! Don’t you see, it’s a sign. I felt the emotions of the man, and I’m assuming you could feel the emotions of the woman. I could be your man in blue!"

"Borus, that’s silly. It was just a coincidence. I don’t need any ‘man in blue,’ whatever that means anyway. If you’ll excuse me…"

Borus could only look after in mild shock as Chris hurried away from him. He was so sure that he had been right. How could she not see it? Disappointed, he returned inside. Perhaps he should put more thought into the meaning of the dreams. After all, he had only just found out Chris had had the same one as he. Maybe they only needed some time to work it out.

"Bit crowded tonight, isn’t it?" Borus commented, looking around at the full tables in the tavern.

"Perhaps that means it’ll be a good performance, then," Percival said, as they sat down at one of the few remaining empty tables.

Borus snorted. "I doubt it."

"Well, I believe Hugo’s starring tonight. I’ve heard he’s got some talent."

"Yes? Where’d you hear it from, the Karayans? What’s this play about, anyway?"

"Who knows? In any case, if it’s bad, we can just have a few drinks and I’m sure it’ll all look better," Percival said with a smile.

Just then Ace poked his head out from behind the curtain. He scanned the room, obviously looking for someone. When he spotted the table full of mercenaries, plus Aila, he grinned and waved. "Hey guys! Don’t drink too much or you’ll miss my big scene!" he called out, before retreating back behind the curtain.

The two knights watched in amusement as Geddoe groaned and put his head down on the table. Joker ordered another drink. Queen shook her head. "Oh, brother."

Suddenly there was a disturbance as Anne ran over to the back of the room. "Sharon! What do you think you’re doing?"

The young Dragon Knight smiled innocently. "Just getting ready to watch Futch in the play, that’s all."

"You can’t let that dragon in here!"

Borus and Percival noticed the huge dragon standing in the shadows. He roared, causing the very floor to shake.

"He only wants to watch Futch, too. You can’t turn him out!"

Anne looked as though she wanted to argue, but she appeared afraid that Bright might attack her. She sighed. "All right then. But he causes any damage, it’s on you!"

"Yeah, right," Sharon muttered. "Futch’ll pay for that."

Percival turned to Borus. "Glad we came, now?"

The lights dimmed as the play started. The production was of Neclord’s End, a story neither of the two knights were familiar with. Percival and Borus were startled to see Leo stumble through the narration. The two knights looked at one another. "Leo never told us he was in this play…"

"I wonder why," Percival replied.

First introduced was Neclord, played by Landis. Even the two Zexen Knights shuddered at the odd Winger.

Hugo, as Riou, was next to take the stage, to a burst of applause from the large group of Karayans that had shown up. Lucia could be heard above the other noise, proclaiming, "That’s my son up there! You show ‘em, Hugo!"

When Ace sauntered out, playing the part of Viktor, he gave a huge wink to the audience. Aila started cheering, and nudged Jacques. "Isn’t he great?"

The reticent young man only shrugged. "……"

Futch entered then as Flik, to cat-calls from Sharon and a tail-thumping bellow from Bright.

Ayame played the part of the vampiress Sierra, shocking everyone with the fact that she actually said her lines.

As the play ended, Borus and Percival applauded loudly with the rest of the audience. They called out to Leo as he attempted to discretely move towards the door. Too bad he was blocked by a rather large dragon.


Leo glared menacingly at Percival. "One more word and I will introduce your face to my axe."

Percival bowed ingratiatingly as the other knight left. "Such terrible manners," he commented to Borus. "Still, he got a much better reception than your play, huh, Borus?"

Borus groaned. He had thought he might have been able to get away without another comment from his friend about that night. Oh, well. "How about a drink, Percival?"

"Sounds good to me."

Borus spotted Chris the next morning as she was about to go visit Jeane, the Rune Sage. "Good morning, Lady Chris. How are you today?"

"Fine, thank you, Borus. Just a bit busy."

"Oh, of course. As the Flame Champion you have a lot of responsibility." Borus nodded. "Ah, Lady Chris, did you… did you think about what I said yesterday?"


"It’s all right, Lady Chris. I just thought I’d ask." Borus tried to hide the disappointment that he felt.

Chris smiled and continued on her way.

"Having some trouble?"

Borus looked around to see the Karayan Chief Lucia walking towards him. "What makes you say that?" he asked harshly, not pleased to see that someone had noticed his last interaction with Chris.

"No need to be angry, I only want to help," Lucia said smoothly.

"Help? How could you possibly help, and why would you want to?"

"Ordinarily, I could care less about your romantic dealings, Sir Knight, but seeing as we’re going to be spending some time together, I’ve taken an interest."

"Really?" Borus smirked.

"My, my, aren’t you touchy? No wonder your Lady Chris ignores your advances."

"And what would you know about it?" The Swordsman of Rage was beginning to show the temper that so characterized him.

"Well, I must say I have some experience in matters of love, certainly more than you do. And as I told you, I’ve taken an interest in your… situation with Chris. Seeing as you’re not receiving guidance from anyone else, I thought you might appreciate whatever you can get."

Borus resigned himself to the fact that Lucia was not going anywhere until she’d had her say. And reluctant as he was to admit it, it would be nice to talk to someone who could perhaps understand. "What have you to say, then?"

"Only that it’s obvious Chris fancies you."

"What?" The knight certainly hadn’t been expecting to hear that from the woman who only weeks ago had been his enemy.

Lucia smiled. "Oh, yes. A woman can tell, you know. Why else would she anger so easily? I guess all I can tell you is, eventually she’ll come around. She’s stubborn, so be prepared for it to take awhile. But trust me, it’ll happen."

Borus could only nod, as he digested this new information. A seed of hope long forgotten sprang up again within him. Could she really love him? He had given up on that ever happening long ago.

"One more thing- if I were Chris," Lucia whispered in Borus’s ear, "I would never have been able to resist that pretty face of yours, not to mention," she raked her eyes openly over Borus’s form, "well, you know." Borus stared as she retreated, mouth hanging open in astonishment.

Borus sat in the tavern by himself with a glass of wine. He pondered the events of the last few days, debating whether it would be a good idea to drink himself into a state of forgetfulness. He glanced up at the sound of another chair being pulled out at his table. He groaned at the sight of his companion. I really don’t need this right now, he thought to himself.

"Should have known you’d be at the tavern, eh, Borus?" came the mocking voice of Percival.

Borus was in no mood to deal with his friend’s banter. "At least I can hold my liquor," he half-heartedly replied.

Percival noted the other knight’s tone. "Drinking away your troubles? Let me guess… Chris has once again failed to take note of your blundering advances? Oh wait, that’s right, you have only friendly concern for her, and not a single amorous thought." He didn’t even get a response. "What, aren’t you going to tell me to be quiet? No hissed ‘Percival!’ or fierce glare?"

Borus merely continued to stare at his drink.

"All right, I’ll be a good friend now. What’s wrong?"

"I’m fine."

"No, you’re not fine, obviously. If you were, by now my bit of annoyance would have sparked your famous temper. So tell me, what’s upsetting you?" Percival was getting genuinely worried.

"It’s not your concern. You’d only ridicule me anyway."

"Well, maybe so… but that’s beside the point. Perhaps I can help."

Borus sighed resignedly. "All right then. I had a dream, Lady Chris had the same one, I suggested perhaps that we were linked, and she fled from my presence. Now will you leave me be?"

The brunette gaped at Borus for a few seconds. Shaking his head as if to clear it, he said, "I’m sorry, but could you repeat that one more time? And this time, say it so it makes at least a little sense?"

"But that’s it. I dreamed of a man and a woman, as did Chris. The woman was unburdening herself to the man. I thought that the two of us having the same dream must signify something, so I offered to lend an ear to Lady Chris. She refused. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Apparently I’m so pathetic that even Lucia noticed."

He tried to hold back, he really did. But Percival burst out in laughter anyway. "My dear Borus! Are you sure you weren’t drunk when you came up with that story? I think you should put down the rest of that glass."

Borus was offended. "You think I fabricated it? You see why I don’t like to tell you these things, Percival?" He became irate as Percival continued to laugh. "Are you quite finished?"

"Yes, yes, sorry." The handsome dark-haired knight managed to calm down. "It’s just so dreadfully funny. You should tell it to Arthur, he’d love it for a story!"

"Glad someone finds it amusing, because I certainly don’t!" Borus stormed out of the tavern. Percival watched him go, now a thoughtful expression on his face.

The Next Day

Borus ran straight for the top deck where he and Chris had talked several times before. He looked around frantically, but she was not there. Please don’t let me have missed her, Borus prayed. He searched the entire ship, top to bottom. Nothing. He looked again. She must be here! How could this happen? She must have finally come around, decided she needed someone to talk to, and chosen him! What else could it be?

His second search proved fruitless. He spotted that knight, Fred. He was friends with Chris, perhaps he had seen her.

"You! Fred! Have you seen Lady Chris?"

Fred took in the sight of the anxious knight. "Lady Chris? She went out to the Mountain Path. She heard rumors of some rare armor there." He frowned. "And she didn’t take me! I, Fred Maximillian! Can you believe it?"

"There, there, Master Fred. It’s all right." It was that little girl who always tagged along with the knight. Borus couldn’t remember her name.

"What do you mean? I was told she was waiting for me…"

"Oh, no, sir. She’s been gone for a while now." Rico! Yes, that was her name. "I think someone played a trick on you."

A trick? That little… Fred and Rico stared as Borus shot away.

"What the hell is your problem?" Borus fumed as he sighted his enemy at the end of the hallway.

Nash casually looked up to see the aptly named Swordsman of Rage running towards him. "Need something?"

"What do you think? You set me up, you piece of filth!"

"What are you going on about? I don’t remember doing anything to you."

Borus nearly attacked him right then. How could he be so indifferent? Was he an idiot? The knight practically spat out the words. "You know exactly what I’m talking about. You made me think Lady Chris was waiting for me on the ship, you bastard."

"Ooh, watch your language! But yes, I do seem to recall something of the sort. Relax, it was only a bit of fun," Nash shrugged.

"Only a bit of fun…" Borus couldn’t believe his ears. "You think my feelings are a joke? You think you can just play with my emotions for a laugh? Are you insane? I could kill you right now!"

Just then, Percival came out of his room. "What’s going on out here? Sounds like there’s a war being fought."

"This twerp thinks he can make a fool of me for sport, Percival!"

"He’s completely overreacting. I was just looking for a good time, he’s an easy target," Nash said coolly.

"He’s got you there, Borus," Percival said with a laugh.

"You’re taking his side? I can’t believe you!"

"Hang on a moment, I don’t even know what happened. Care to fill me in?"

Borus was able to calm down enough to explain what had happened, starting with earlier this evening, in the bath, when Nash had told Borus that Chris had wanted to talk to him. Percival managed to listen with a straight face while inwardly he shook with mirth.

"Nash, you’ve gone and done it. Hit him where it hurts the most. I’m afraid there’s nothing to be done for you. Well, have at it, Borus, I know better than to get in your way." Got to hand it to Nash though, Percival added to himself. Wish I’d thought of it.

Borus struggled to maintain his composure. He decided to at least give Nash a chance to defend himself. "So? Have you anything to say?"

"Only that I’m terribly sorry I missed seeing the expression on your face when you saw that Chris was not waiting for you."

Percival winced. You’ve really done it now, he thought. Here’s hoping Borus doesn’t kill you.

The blond knight lunged at Nash, knocking him to the ground. Suddenly a furious voice rang out.

"What in the hell is going on here?!" Chris ran over and yanked Borus off of Nash, her usually pretty face contorted with anger.

Borus pulled free of Chris’s grasp and said nothing. Nash got to his feet and kept silent, for once. Borus was staring daggers at him.

Chris looked skyward as if for guidance. "Percival?"

"Oh, just a disagreement, Lady Chris, nothing to worry about." Chris raised an eyebrow. "Okay, fine, it was a huge disagreement. You see, Nash here played a trick on poor Borus and made him think you were waiting for him. Obviously you weren’t, so Borus came to confront Nash, who acted like a complete ass, thus provoking Borus to attack him. If you hadn’t come along, who knows what tragedy may have befallen us? Lucky for you," Percival nodded in Nash’s direction, "that the finest swordsman in all of Zexen failed to draw his sword."

"And what was your part in all of this, Sir Percival?"

"I heard the noise and decided to see what was happening. I tried to stop them, really I did. But then I figured I’d just stay for the show," Percival smirked.

For the love of Sadie… "Nash, I don’t like you. I’ve said it before. You can’t just go around causing problems, as if we don’t have enough already. If you’re going to be here, then try and do something useful. …Or if you can’t manage that, at least don’t be a nuisance."

Borus grinned.

But it was too soon. "Borus," Chris turned on him. "I am severely disappointed in you. As one of the Six Mighty Knights, you are meant to be an example for others, using your abilities only to serve Zexen. And yet here you are, undermining our position by fighting with an ally!" Chris put up a hand as Borus attempted to defend himself. "Stop! I know what you would say. Yes, you were provoked, but as a knight I would think that you could control your temper. Oh wait, of course, it’s Borus that I’m talking about, made famous by his lack of ability to control his emotions."

Borus could hardly believe his ears. Was this his Lady Chris talking? He had to make a concerted effort not to show the pain he was feeling. Percival, too, was staring wide-eyed at Chris, and even Nash looked surprised.

Chris continued, "Really, Borus, what were you thinking? What gave you the idea that I would ever pursue your company outside of our knightly duties? Still going on about that dream? You must be a bigger fool than I thought."

"Foolish I may be, Lady Chris, but only because I care. I care enough to worry about you, to concern myself with your feelings. For years now I have thought only of you, of how I might aid you. I counted you as among my closest friends. I suppose I needn’t fool myself any longer, as it is obvious you have no thought whatsoever for my feelings. Should you ever need my sword, you know where to find me." Borus spoke coldly, in a manner very different from his usual self. He took his leave, as a stunned Chris wondered what exactly had caused her to say what she had said.

The next day, after a shopping trip to Caleria made much easier thanks to Viki’s teleportation skills, Chris stopped by the room shared by Borus and Percival. She knocked on the door.

"Come in!"

"Oh, hello, Percival."

"I know you’re here to see Borus, Lady Chris, but he hasn’t been in. I think he must be really distressed, as he hasn’t even come to talk to me. He didn’t even go to the tavern to get rip-roaring drunk."

Chris sighed. "I know. I’m not surprised. He probably hates me."

"If you don’t mind my saying, milady, you deserve it. What possessed you to speak like that to him?"

"I haven’t the slightest idea. And I don’t know how to make it better, either."

Percival spoke comfortingly. "He’ll come around, Lady Chris. He always does."

Chris smiled weakly. "I hope so."

Chris knew exactly where to find the man she was looking for. There he was, standing on the top deck, gazing out into the distance. Despite the magnificence of the setting sun he ordinarily admired so, Chris could see his shoulders slumped in sadness. She silently crept up behind him, trying to work up the courage to apologize. She knew she had hurt him dearly this time.


He flinched at the soft voice. He didn’t turn.

"Borus, I know you’re upset…"

"Do you care?" His voice was harsh. "What are you here for? I know you’re not going out again tonight."

"Please, Borus," Chris pleaded. "Just let me say my piece, okay? I don’t know what came over me yesterday. I didn’t mean it, those awful things I said."

"Yes, you did. You always say what you mean. Perhaps you just hadn’t fully realized you meant to say it, yet."

"No, that’s not true! You of all people should understand that when we’re angry, we say things only to spite, not because we truly feel that way."

He took that differently than she had meant. "There it is again. Me, of all people! Yes, Borus, the one who can’t control his temper, who gets upset over stupid things, who says things he doesn’t mean, who strikes out…" He stopped then, not even caring how close he’d come to admitting his darkest secret to the one person above all others he feared to tell.

Chris had let him vent, knowing he needed to get it out. She reached out to touch his hand. He cringed at the slight contact. "Borus, that’s not what I think at all. I think you’re very passionate, someone who feeds off his emotions, but doesn’t let them control him. It’s part of what makes you such a good knight." She turned his face towards hers so he was looking into her eyes. "Part of what makes you such a good person."

Borus’s deep brown eyes were filled with tears. Ashamed, he turned away.

"See?" Chris said gently. "You feel strongly. You needn’t be ashamed. I know I hurt you. It pains me to imagine how much so. Please understand that I had no intention of doing so. I genuinely care about you, Borus. I count you among my closest friends." He was startled by the use of the phrase he himself had used last night. "And I would hate to lose that friendship over this. Do you think you can forgive me?"

"I can always forgive you, milady," Borus whispered.

Chris smiled. "Good. Then would you like to accompany me to the tavern this evening? The production is of William Tell, starring Roland."

Borus offered his arm to his lady, who gladly took it. "I would be delighted."

A few days later, Chris exited the meeting hall, having just gained some information about Harmonia's latest plans and Jimba. She would have to visit the Cyndar Ruins right away. Pondering over who to bring with, she started at the sound of her name.

"Chris! I’d like to have a word with you."

The Zexen Captain walked over to where Lucia was waiting for her. "Yes? Something more about our current situation?"

"No, nothing like that," Lucia answered with a small smile. "Something much more interesting."

"Well, what is it, then?"

"I spoke with your young knight a week or so back."

"‘My young knight’…" Chris was perplexed. "I’m sorry, but you’ll have to clarify that one."

"The blond, Borus, of course."

"Oh, of course." A frown marred Chris’s attractive face. "What does that have to do with me?"

"Everything! It was you we were talking about," the Chief of the Karaya Clan was surprised at just how oblivious Chris really was.

"Lucia, could you please just say whatever it is you mean to say? I have work to do."

"I’d just like to give you some advice. He’s very fond of you, and he won’t give up easily. But if you keep going on like you have been, either he’ll end up a very bitter, lonely man, or some other girl will come along and piece together his broken heart."

Chris didn’t know what to say to that, so she merely nodded and hurried away. Lucia sighed. "Ah, to be young and in love! I only hope that when my Hugo finds the one who makes him happy, they won’t be so awkward about it."

Dupa came up beside Lucia. "Meddling in Zexen affairs again, Lucia?"

She smiled up at her friend. "Only affairs of the heart, Dupa."

It was a weary party making their way back from the Cyndar Ruins. The journey passed in silence for the most part, each companion lost in his own thoughts. The Flame Champion hadn’t said a word since they had exited the ruins. No one knew what had happened while Chris had been inside the ball of energy created by the True Water Rune.

"Lady Chris, are you in need of anything?"

"No, thank you, Borus. I’m fine," Chris said, turning to the man walking beside her.

"You must be exhausted after your ordeal," Borus said, concerned.

"Well, I am a bit tired, but it’s not much further to the castle."

Borus hesitated, then decided to go for it. "Would you like to talk about anything?"

Chris offered a small smile. "No, that’s all right. Thank you for asking."

Borus stifled a sigh and smiled back at his companion, but the smile did not reach his eyes.

Farther back in the group, Lucia and Dupa observed the exchange between the two knights.

"I can’t understand how that little human woman attracts so many admirers," Dupa was saying.

"Because among humans, Chris Lightfellow is deemed quite a beauty, Dupa."

"Hmmm… they all look the same to me."

Lucia laughed. "I can see how she wouldn’t hold much attraction to you."

"No. But many do fancy her. Though I believe that small knight really loves her," Dupa said thoughtfully. "Or, maybe he is just the most obvious. I can never tell."

"No, I know what you mean. Although he is very obvious."

"Why do you take such an interest in them, Lucia?"

The Karayan shrugged. "I don’t really know. Because they are interesting?"

"And why does he not just challenge the others to battle in order to win her heart? It is what the Lizard Clan does."

"It doesn’t work that way, Dupa. These things are not so simple among humans. And by the way, why is it I’ve never seen a female Lizard?"

"I am shocked you have not, Lucia! They live in the Great Hollow. They are very attractive," Dupa said matter-of-factly, nodding his head.

"… I’ll bet."

Chris awoke to a beautiful morning. The sun was shining brightly and she couldn’t help but be in a good mood. She felt like going out and doing some exploring, some training. She decided she’d ask the other knights to come along. It had been too long since the last time they’d all been out together.

On her way to see Borus and Percival, Chris stopped at the Suggestion Box. She enjoyed reading the notes the others left her. It gave her a good idea of what was going on at the castle, how the troops were feeling. This morning, the box contained four messages.

Chris read the first one. It was from Dupa. It read, "Our Lizard Clan will fight for our homes, the weak and the young. Don't waste our strength." Huh, don’t I know it, Chris thought ruefully.

The silver-haired knight was a bit surprised to see she had received a note from Geddoe. He was always so taciturn. She picked it up and read, "Take it easy." That was certainly to the point.

Chris was already smiling as she saw a message in Fred’s handwriting. "To conquer evil ambitions, please feel free to use my power. I'll participate in all the wars." That boy never changed.

The last was from Joker. "That bar doesn't have enough drinks available. I can't get drunk at a bar with that booze." Chris couldn’t help but laugh outright at that.

Chris was still chuckling as she entered the room shared by Borus and Percival.

"You certainly seem happy today, Lady Chris!"

"Oh, Borus, it’s just so wonderful outside I can’t help but be cheerful. And reading some of the letters from the troops is always entertaining."

"Did you get any from Borus, Lady Chris? A poem, perhaps?" Percival said slyly.

"Percival!" Borus hissed. He turned smiling to Chris. "Well, I’m glad to see you so happy, Lady Chris. But did you need anything?"

"Yes, I wanted to see if you two were interested in a patrol. I thought it would nice if the six of us went out again, like old times."

"Excellent idea! I know I’m always up for a battle or two. Percival?"

"Why not? Lead on, Lady Chris!"

"When are we leaving, already?" Leo asked, fingering his axe impatiently.

"Settle down, Leo. The enemies will still be there, you know," Percival said.

Leo scowled.

Chris joined the other knights (along with Louis) at the front of the castle. She mounted her horse. "Is everyone ready?"

"Been ready," Leo muttered. Salome silenced him with a look.

Borus rode his horse forward a few steps. "I believe we’re all ready to go do some fighting, Lady Chris!"

Chris nodded. "All right then. We’ll begin in the Yaza Plain, travel through Zexen Forest, battle the treasure boss in North Cavern, stop in Vinay del Zexay for some shopping, and then make our way back."

A Few Days Later; Night

The burden of leadership was weighing heavily on the woman of Chris’s dream. She could feel her anxiety and her apprehension. Chris supposed that they must be planning a major attack. She smiled in her sleep as the woman’s blue-cloaked companion gave his unyielding comfort and support.

Borus watched the actions of the dream as though from far away. It was different, this time. He still felt like he was the man, and yet, as he wrapped his arms around his love, Borus felt removed from the scene. How he longed to hold his Lady Chris like that…

That Morning

"Something troubling you, milady?"

"What? Oh, no, Salome. I was just thinking," Chris answered, glancing up to look at her most trusted advisor.

"Anything I could help you with? Planning, perhaps?"

"No, nothing like that. It’s silly. Forget about it."

"Try me." Salome took a seat next to her.

"Why is everyone so concerned about me recently?" Chris asked laughingly. "I’m beginning to think that I’m mortally ill, and no one’s told me about it yet."

"Well, milady, we just worry about you," Salome said gently. "You have so much responsibility and difficult matters to deal with, yet you never speak of any of it."

"It’s only… I’ve been having these dreams. Dreams about a different war, of a man and a woman. It’s strange; they seem so real, I can feel what the woman feels just as if they were my own emotions. And some of them are…" Chris trailed off uncertainly.

"What happens in these dreams, Lady Chris?" Salome prompted, as she did not continue.

"Nothing much, really. The man and the woman are very much in love. I believe she is in charge, and the man is her… foundation. Their words are unclear, but I know she tells him everything, her plans and ideas, her worries, her fears, her insecurities, her hopes and dreams. He encourages her, and loves her, and is just there for her. And when I wake, I feel more rested and at peace than I have in a long while."

"They sound like lovely dreams, milady. But perhaps they are meant just to comfort you."


"But you don’t think so?"

"Borus thinks they mean something. You see, he’s been having the same dreams."

Salome did not know what to make of that. "I’m afraid I can’t help you there. My expertise is in strategy, not the meaning of dreams."

"I know, Salome. It’s just one more thing…" Chris sighed.

"All I can say is, maybe it would help you to talk to someone. Please excuse me, I must be going." Salome left the room, hoping against hope that when Chris opened up, she would open up to him, and that the significance of Borus sharing the same dreams as Chris meant nothing.

"Tell me again what we’re doing here, Percival."

"Relax, Borus. It’ll be fun, I promise," Percival said as he walked forward into the town.

"As if that, coming from you, is actually reassuring," Borus muttered under his breath.

"I heard that," Percival called over his shoulder.

Borus didn’t know what had possessed him to allow Percival to drag him along on a trip to Iksay Village. It was just some hick town, as he had seen the last time he was here. It wasn’t even looking much better after the raid by the Lizard Clan- many of the buildings still showed fire damage. The blond knight supposed he had come along because he was pleased Percival had asked him to. He didn’t think that the other knight was appreciating all the time he and Chris were spending together.

Lost in his own thoughts, Borus didn’t realize Percival had stopped in front of a house. He smacked right into the taller knight.

"Easy now, Borus. No need to get so excited," Percival chuckled.

Borus scowled. "Why did we stop here? This house looks just the same as the other ones."

"This is my house," Percival said, as he opened the front door.

Surprised, Borus followed after. "Your house?"

Percival lead Borus into a plain, but comfortable living room. He sat down on the couch. "Make yourself at home! My mother will be back soon. I’m sure she’d love to cook for you."

"You mean you were born in Iksay?"

Percival clapped. "And he finally gets it! My, Borus, you can be thick sometimes."

Borus shook his head slightly. "I never knew. I mean, I knew you were a peasant, but I didn’t know you were from Iksay. How come you never said anything?"

"Oh, there it is. Wealthy Borus sees firsthand the peasantry of poor Percival."

"You know I didn’t mean it like that…"

Percival waved him off. "I know. It’s just how you’ve been raised, and all that. But as for never telling you, you never asked. Didn’t seem important."

Just then a middle-aged, plump woman entered the room. She had a kindly face, warming Borus towards her instantly.

"Percy! I didn’t know you were coming. And you brought a friend, too. Is he another knight?"

Borus smirked. "Percy?"

Percival threw him the nastiest look he could muster. "Hello, Mother. Sorry I didn't warn you, it was rather last minute. This is Borus, and judging by his armor, he would in fact be a knight." He got up to give his mother a hug.

"Oh, isn’t that nice. I’m sure you’re hungry after coming all the way here, aren’t you, Borus?"

The fair-haired man smiled at her. "Yes, actually, I am. I’d love to try your cooking. I’ve heard it’s different from what I’m used to."

Percival’s mother nodded. "Yes, it’s much better. We grow our own vegetables and raise our own livestock, after all. I’ll be just a few minutes." She went into the kitchen.

Percival rolled his eyes. "She’ll be an hour. Mother loves to cook for company, so she’ll pull out all the stops. Would you like to look around the town? I don’t think you saw much the last time you were here."

Borus got up. "I’d be delighted, Percy."

"Oh, Percival! It’s so good to see you! I was worried when you hadn’t been back for so long."

Percival turned smiling towards the red-haired young woman who had just run up to him. "I appreciate your concern, Margaret. It’s been tough fighting these past few weeks, but I’ve been able to manage all right." The girl giggled.

Borus rolled his eyes and coughed none-too-politely. Margaret looked at him.

"Who is this, Sir Percival? One of your men?"

Borus attempted to cover up his gag with another cough. It ended up sounding rather strangled. Percival smirked while Margaret looked concerned. "Are you all right, sir?"

Percival slapped Borus on the back, saying, "Oh, he’ll be fine. He has episodes like this every so often. But we really must be on our way. It was very nice talking to you, Margaret. I look forward to our next meeting."

The two knights left the girl practically drooling over Percival. Borus cast a questioning glance over to Percival. "Episodes?"

"Well, I didn’t want to draw any unwanted attention to you by informing her that you are in fact one of the Mighty Knights."

Borus snorted. "Didn’t want to put an end to your fantasy of being a better knight than me, more like."

Percival chose to ignore that comment. He didn’t want to get into an argument with or offend Borus, both of which were rather easy to do. He had wanted this trip to be a vacation of sorts, a way to reaffirm their friendship. Ever since they’d arrived at Lake Castle, Percival felt as though he and Borus were drifting apart, as Borus spent more and more time with Lady Chris. He didn’t want that to happen. Borus had been the one constant in his life ever since he had left Iksay and joined the knights, and they had met in training.

Almost as if he had sensed what Percival was thinking, Borus spoke up. "Percival, I feel as though we hardly ever talk anymore."

"Do you? I feel the same way." The dark-haired knight spoke seriously. Now wasn’t a time for smart remarks.

"What’s happened? It used to be I could tell you anything, once you stopped teasing me, of course."

Percival laughed slightly. "Someone needs to keep you in your place, Borus." He turned serious. "You always talk to Lady Chris now."

"It’s just those dreams. I feel as though I should talk to her, get her to open up to me…"

Percival began to imagine scenarios of Chris drawing closer to Borus and farther from him as she opened up to the other knight. He grimaced. Suddenly he didn’t feel like talking about that anymore. "Why don’t we go look at the fields and the barns? I’m sure you’ve never seen anything like it."

A Few Days Later

"I thought I’d find you here."


Borus leaned on the side of the ship next to Chris and stared out at the lake. "It’s beautiful, don’t you think? The way the sun reflects off the water."

"Borus, I know you didn’t come out here to talk about the view."

"Oh, didn’t I? Must I always have some ulterior motive? I can’t just enjoy the company of a beautiful woman?"

Chris put a hand to her forehead exasperatedly. "Please, Borus, I don’t want to argue."

The fair-haired knight turned to look at Chris. "Don’t you see? That’s not what I want either! All I want is to help you. Sure the dreams prompted it, and they’re not going away, but forget about that for a moment. I worry about you. You and Percival and the other knights are the closest friends I have. Why won’t you let me in?"

Oh, what the hell… "I’ve been so used to keeping things to myself. A knight mustn’t show weakness. That would undermine my position. I need to be strong, for myself, for Zexen, now for the Grasslands too." She paused. Borus silently waited for her to continue, knowing that if he said anything, she would probably run off again.

"I never asked to be a hero. All I wanted was to be able to serve my country, help the people that I love. I wanted to be as brave as the father I barely knew. I don’t want to be the ‘Silver Maiden,’ or go to parades in my honor like some sort of show horse. I certainly don’t want every male in the country practically kissing the ground in front of me." Borus had the sense to at least look ashamed at that.

Chris continued, "The last thing I ever expected was to volunteer to lead this huge army into a war I sometimes wonder if we can win. I can give rousing speeches and endorse plans of attack, but that doesn’t mean I have faith myself. It’s just so hard, sometimes…"

"But don’t you see?" Borus interjected when she seemed finished. "That’s what I’m here for. And the other Mighty Knights. We want to help you. Disclosing your feelings doesn’t make you weak, it can only make you stronger. Let me give you strength when you feel like you can’t go on. Lady Chris, I…"

He knew he shouldn’t say it, he’d ruin everything he’d gained tonight, but when Chris gazed at him with her lavender-hued eyes, he couldn’t stop it. His brown eyes met hers as he admitted it for the first time. "Lady Chris, I… I love you."

She stood stunned for a moment. "Borus, don’t, please don’t."

"No, wait! Here me out. I’ve loved you since the moment I first laid eyes on you. We were only children then, squires, who knew nothing of the real world. But as we grew, I could see your spirit, your courage, everything that is good about you. I saw you struggle in a world made for men and I saw you come out on top. And don’t… don’t say you don’t feel it, because you do! I know you do, if you’d only admit it."

Chris couldn’t take it anymore. Too many feelings were running through her head, she couldn’t sort them out, she didn’t know what she felt. Except that she couldn’t breathe, she felt stifled, and she had to go. She turned to run but Borus was too quick. He grabbed hold of her arm.

"If you don’t feel it, then stop me." He kissed her then, passionate and full of emotion, showing none of the fear that threatened to overwhelm him. He grew bolder as Chris kissed him back. It seemed to go on for an age, and yet only a split-second- he’d waited so long for this… Suddenly she pulled away from him. Her eyes were wide with disbelief. She put a hand over her mouth and wrested her other arm from Borus’s grasp.

Borus felt slightly intoxicated. Then came the all too familiar sight as he watched his love dash off back to the castle. He hadn’t even tried to stop her. He sank down onto the ship’s deck, thinking, where do we go from here?

Unbeknownst to the two young knights on the ship, someone had been watching them. Percival had hoped to catch Borus alone. He felt like doing a bit of training. He hadn’t expected to find Borus and Chris conversing.

He hadn’t meant to spy on them, but when he overhead what they were talking about, he felt he shouldn’t interrupt. He was leaving until those three fated little words were said. He’d turned back and hid against a wall. And then he’d seen it. Percival’s worst nightmare. Borus kissed Lady Chris, and she had kissed him back! He ran then, not wanting to see anymore.

Chris retreated to her bedroom. What was that? How dare he take advantage of her like that! Borus, with his kind words, manipulating her into sharing feelings that she shared with no one…All because of a few stupid dreams.

Chris paced around the room, alternately sitting down on the bed only to jump up again moments later. She didn’t love him. She couldn’t. She was his superior, after all! She still couldn’t believe that he had kissed her. And she had actually enjoyed it… No! What was she thinking? It was wrong, very wrong. And it would not happen again.

Borus wearily made his way back to the room he shared with Percival. He found Percival sitting on his bed, staring at a spot on the wall. He stunk of alcohol, but Borus decided to ignore it. After all, he was probably going to get completely drunk that night himself, anyway.

"Aren’t you spending the night with your new lover, Borus?" Percival asked dully.

"What?" Borus asked, confused. "No time for jokes. I need to talk to you."

"Is that right? Well, maybe you should find someone else. I don’t feel like talking."

"Percival, you’re my best friend, and there’s something huge I need to get off my chest. So just hear me out, won’t you?"

"Maybe I don’t want to hear it!" Percival exploded, leaping upright.

Borus was shocked. Percival was ordinarily so low-key. "What’s the matter with you?"

"Figure it out."

With that, Borus was left completely bewildered, alone in the room. And I thought my day was bad, he thought.

The Next Day

Chris often frequented the library. She liked to look at the musty old books, that spoke of anything and everything from recipes to the True Runes to treasure. Eike, the librarian, was a bit scary at first glance, but he was nice, Chris supposed, once you got to know him. Ace was there today as well. Chris hadn’t pegged the mercenary to be one for books, but he actually spent a lot of time in the library. She noted his selection this time was some sort of adventure novel.

She picked up a book about the Toran Liberation War and settled down to read. It was interesting to think that people she knew had been involved in it, like Viki and Futch, Apple and Jeane. It seemed odd to imagine Toran under foreign rule. Chris had only visited there once, long ago, but the capital city was beautiful and bustling with life. Suddenly she paused, staring at a picture. No. It couldn’t be. It was impossible. But it was. Chris was looking at a picture of the man and woman from her dreams. She glanced at the caption. Flik and Odessa Silverberg.

Quickly Chris began flipping through the pages, searching for their names. So she was right. They had been lovers, and Odessa was the leader of the rebellion. But she had been murdered early on in the war, even then thinking of the cause, as she had her followers hide her body so word of her death would not leak out. Flik was absent when it happened and never forgave himself for it. Such a sad tale. I guess I only got the nice bits in my dreams, she thought ruefully.

But this only served to complicate matters. The dreams were real, the people were real. What did it all mean? She knew she should tell Borus, but she didn’t feel like talking to him at the moment. Wait! Of course, why hadn’t she thought of it earlier? She could go ask Yuiri at Alma Kinan. Surely she would know of such things! Chris practically fled the room in excitement, leaving behind a very disgruntled Eike, angry at the noise.

In the Meeting Hall

Chris sighed. "Very well. I shall go to Brass Castle as the Council wishes."

At that moment, the door opened and Borus stepped in. "I’m sorry for interrupting, but I would like to accompany Lady Chris."

Chris was incredulous. "What? No, I don’t think-"

Salome took a step forward. "Wait, Lady Chris, I think that would be a very good idea. In case you run into any trouble, Borus could back you up."

"Right then, shall we be going?" Borus held the door open and waited for Chris.

Chris didn’t look at him as she said with forced politeness, "You go ahead, Borus. I need to ask Salome something."

"As you wish," Borus said with as much mock civility, as he exited the room.

Chris looked at Salome. "I’d like to also make a stop in Alma Kinan. I’ve just had an interesting discovery…"

Chris, Borus, little Viki, Futch, Bright, and Sharon set out about an hour later. They walked across the Yaza Plain, only encountering a few weak enemies. Borus was clearly avoiding Chris, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to speak to him.

"What do you think you’re doing? There was no need for you to come with. In fact, it would have been really nice if you hadn’t!"

Borus started walking a little faster. "Salome thought it was a good idea." Chris scowled. "Just because you’re angry with me because you can’t face your feelings doesn’t mean I’m going to stay behind while you do all the fighting."

Chris was incredulous. "How dare you presume to know what I feel!"

"Someone has to do it, since obviously you can’t see it for yourself."

"I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation!"

The other knight shrugged. "Seems to me that you’re the one who came over to talk in the first place."

Chris flushed in anger. However, Borus had already walked off before she could say anything. She decided to let it go for the moment, as they’d reached their destination.

In Kuput Forest

Chris crouched on the ground, breathing heavily. That witch… How could she have lost the True Fire Rune? She ached all over. She wasn’t sure if she could stand.

Borus limped over to Chris’s huddled form. "Lady Chris? Are you all right?"

She hadn’t the energy to be upset at Borus right then. "I’m not sure… I feel as though the Rune was ripped from my body." Chris laughed grimly. "I suppose that’s because it was."

"Maybe you should just rest a moment…"

"No! I can’t. I’ve got to go back to the castle. They’ll be coming for Hugo." Chris shrugged off Borus’s arm, but was forced to accept his assistance when she couldn’t stand on her own.

"Are you sure you’re up to it, milady?" Borus asked worriedly.

Chris nodded resolutely. "We’ll need reinforcements."

Back at Lake Castle

Salome found Borus sitting on the fence in front of the stables. He took in the other man’s solemn expression. "Something on your mind, Borus?"

Borus looked up. "Salome," he said by way of greeting.

Salome could tell Borus was formulating what to say. He didn’t try to push.

After a few moments had passed, Borus spoke up. "Lady Chris isn’t too pleased with me."

The older man nodded. "I’d surmised as much. She gave me a rather unpleasant look when I agreed you should accompany her to Brass Castle and Alma Kinan Village. What exactly is the problem?"

Borus sighed. "I suppose I pried too much into her life. All I want is to help, but she won’t have it. I just… I thought that those dreams meant something. She needs someone, and I thought that maybe the dreams would help her to see it. Perhaps not."

"I agree with you, Borus. She has too much to deal with on her own. She barely even speaks to me any more, except for matters of strategy. You may be right about those dreams, especially now that Lady Chris has discovered that they are about real people."

"What?" Borus was puzzled. "Real people?"

Salome looked surprised. "You mean you didn’t know?" Borus shook his head. "Well. Lady Chris must really be upset with you. She saw their pictures in a book in the library." Salome told Borus the story.

"That is interesting," Borus said. "So that’s why she wanted to go to Alma Kinan. Perhaps if she ever talks to one of those women she’ll see my point." He sounded disbelieving. "That’s if she ever gets around to it now."

Salome tried to look reassuring. "I’m sure it’ll all work out." To himself, he thought, I hope you work it out, Borus, but not in the way you want. Forgive me, Sadie, that is selfish of me, but I need to hang onto whatever hope I have, just as he does.

Blood. All over, on his sword, on his hands. The stench of it hung in the air. The bodies were littered all around him. Innocents. Women and children. Killed, by his hand. The rage was fading, guilt and shame filling the void. What had he done? He could feel the tears course down, mixing with the sweat already on his face. And the blood. Everywhere, the blood.

Borus awoke with a start. He lay shivering in his bed, unable to banish the images from his mind. He had the nightmares almost every night. As he should. Murderer.

He rolled over and tried to concentrate on the sound of Percival softly snoring in the next bed. Anything to make him forget. But he could never forget.


Borus was sleeping fitfully when the second dream began. He could hear the loveliest voice he had ever heard singing softly to him. He knew instinctively that it was another dream of Flik and Odessa. But it was different. He was alone. Flik was alone. This must be after Odessa had died. He felt an overwhelming sadness, mixed with self-loathing. But still the song went on. He could hear the words, singing into his soul.

Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see
All of your fears will pass away

Safe in my arms
You're only sleeping

Odessa was singing to him. He could feel Flik responding. She was giving him the strength to go on, just as he had always done for her.

Hope fades
Into the world of night
Through shadows falling
Out of memory and time
Don't say: "We have come now to the end"
White shores are calling
You and I will meet again

And you'll be here in my arms
Just sleeping

Borus himself visibly relaxed as Odessa’s song worked its effect. He could sense her smiling gently down upon the man she had lost, willing him to be happy again.

Yuiri and Yumi were standing over next to the stairs in the castle lobby. Chris walked over to them, determined to solve the mystery of the dreams once and for all.

"Chris! It’s so good to see you again!" The elder of the two Alma Kinan women exclaimed. "May the spirits bless you!"

"Yumi, Yuiri. I’m glad to see you are both well."

"Oh, yes!" Yumi said excitedly. "We are honored to be here to join in the Fire Bringer. There are so many different people here!"

Chris smiled. "You’re right there, Yumi. I appreciate you both leaving your village to help us. Your fighters were most helpful in the attack at Brass Castle."

"It’s no trouble at all. After all, Alma Kinan fought with the original Flame Champion." Yuiri frowned. "But something tells me you are not here to welcome us, Chris. You are troubled."

Chris looked away for a moment. "I should have known I couldn’t fool you, Yuiri. There is something bothering me. I think you can help."

Yuiri nodded. "I would be happy to help."

"You see…" How to begin? "I’ve been having these dreams. And Borus, one of the other knights, has been having them too. They seem so real, different from anything I’ve experienced. Basically, they’re about a man and a woman, Flik and Odessa. Who, by the way, I discovered actually lived. Flik may still be living, for all I know. They were lovers in a time of war. Odessa was the leader of their army. She turned to Flik for support, comfort… She told him everything. And he gave her whatever he could. Borus believes that the dreams are meant to be symbolic, I suppose. But I…"

Yuiri studied Chris thoughtfully. "Chris, you don’t need me to tell you anything. The spirits are sending you a message, but it’s up to you to decide what it means. You already know, I think. You’re only afraid to admit it."

Chris remained silent.

Yumi spoke up. "Chris, you are strong. You have powerful emotions, as you displayed when you tried to stop Yun. But you need to listen more. Listen to yourself, to your heart, or you will lose sight of what is important. Don’t be afraid."

It was as if a veil was lifted from Chris’s eyes. She knew what she had to do. And she realized she had known it for a long time now. She smiled at her friends. "Thank you," she said, as she left to complete perhaps the hardest and most important task of her young life.

Luckily for Chris, Percival was out at the riding track. She wanted to talk to Borus alone, without making a huge scene. And she really didn’t want to deal with Percival, of all people. She hesitated outside of the door. Why was she so nervous? This was right, she knew it to be true. She chuckled at how the thought of this conversation scared her more than any battle she had ever fought. Summoning up her courage, Chris knocked on the door.

Borus was sitting at his desk attempting to do some paperwork. He hated this part of being a knight. The Council required detailed documentation of everything. Usually Salome would handle it, or sometimes Percival, but occasionally Borus was asked to help out. This was one of those times. However, his mind kept wandering. He wanted to put a note to Lady Chris in the Suggestion Box, but he was never sure how she’d react these days. Besides, he couldn’t make up his mind as to what to say to her.

Someone was knocking on his door. Who could that be, he wondered. "Come in!"

Chris took a deep breath. Well, here goes nothing, she thought as she opened the door. "Hello, Borus."

Borus stood up. He was surprised to see the silver-haired knight standing there. She looked… uneasy. She wasn’t looking at him and she kept shifting her weight from foot to foot. "Is something bothering you, Lady Chris?"

"Um…" Just say it… "Borus, I want to talk to you."

Borus wasn’t quite sure what she meant. "Milady?"

"Goddess, must you make this even more difficult than it already is?"

It suddenly dawned on Borus what Chris was having so much trouble saying. He sat down on the bed. Chris paced in front of him, unsure of how to proceed.

"Lady Chris?"

"All right. Now let me talk without interruption, okay? Because if you stop me, I may not have the courage to continue. Agreed?"

Borus nodded.

Chris began speaking quickly, uncertainly, until she was able to fall into a rhythm. "For so long I’ve relied on myself. You know all that. How I couldn’t be seen as weak or too much like a woman. I could never get too close to anyone. I guess that started when I lost my father, I never really had the chance to know him. It’s strange how I can be surrounded by all these people, have these wonderful friends, and yet still feel alone. I know now that I have myself to blame. Because when I look back, I know that you were always there. You were always there to offer assistance in any way you could. You always asked, and I always turned you down. Thinking back on it, I can’t imagine how you’re still even around."

Chris paused. Borus smiled shyly as he saw that she was only joking.

"You were always there, Borus, though I gave you nothing in return. No, don’t say it," Chris said as Borus attempted to get a word in, "you promised, remember? Salome was the only one I ever told anything to, and even he received little. Mostly only what pertained to the mission. And yet it was always you. I see that now. Isn’t it silly how it took a few dreams to make me see what was there all along?"

Chris was sitting on the bed now, gazing into Borus’s eyes. "I could talk forever, about how much I regret my actions, how much I missed out, why I did it. But that’s not really important now. The bottom line is, I was afraid. Afraid to let you in because of what might happen. Afraid to say what I really felt. I know better now, and yet still I’m afraid to say it. I know it to be true, and yet it’s still so hard to put it into words!"

Chris took Borus’s hands in hers. "The past doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is us, here, now. I know that you know what I feel for you, but I need to say it and you deserve to hear it. So, I…" She breathed deeply. "Borus, I love you."

Borus’s world was spinning. He felt such immense joy, such that he had never felt before. Yes, he had told her he knew it, but to actually hear those words coming from the lips of the one he loved with all his being, the one he had thought for so long would never, could never, feel the same… He could hardly believe it was real. Surely it was only dream, he would wake up and it would all be gone. Borus shut his eyes and opened them again. No, she was still here! His goddess, his angel. He couldn’t think straight, so he did the first thing that came to mind."I love you, Lady Chris." Borus leaned in to kiss her. This kiss was so very different from their first, soft and gentle, full of the longing each had felt for so long. Then they pulled away, Borus trying to look affronted but failing miserably as Chris began to laugh.

"What’s so funny? Should I be offended?"

"Certainly not, Borus! But I have no idea why I’m laughing. I’m just so happy, and I feel silly because I ran for so long from something so amazing."

Borus laughed then, too. "Yes, milady, you can be dumb sometimes."

"Oh, you think so, do you? Maybe I-" Borus silenced her with another kiss. Chris willingly obliged, threading her fingers through his blond locks.

A while later, Chris and Borus were sitting comfortably together in silence. Chris maneuvered herself in Borus’s arms so she could look him in the face. "I don’t want to keep this a secret, Borus. I’d like to tell the other knights all at once."

"Of course, milady. Why don’t we do it now?"

"I’d like that."

"So, why don’t you get Louis and Salome, and I will get Percival, Leo, and Roland?"

Chris nodded her agreement. They stood up and walked towards the door.

"I’ll see you in a bit then, Borus." Chris kissed him on the cheek and left.

As she shut the door behind her, Chris was startled to find Percival waiting outside of it. "Percival! You scared me. I wasn’t expecting to see you."

"I’m sorry, Lady Chris. I’ve just returned from a stint at the race track."

"Oh, well, Borus was going to tell you, but I guess I’ll just say it. I’d like all the Mighty Knights to gather in my room. There’s something I want to say."

"Oh?" Percival asked curiously. "What’s it all about?"

Chris blushed and turned away. "Nothing, really, I’d rather wait till we’re all together." She walked in the direction of Louis’s room.

Percival felt a sinking feeling in his chest. Please let me be interpreting this wrong… He entered his room.

Borus looked up. "Percival, I was just going to see you. Lady Chris requested-"

"Yes, yes, I’ve just seen her. She told me already. But she wouldn’t tell me what it was about. You’ll tell me, won’t you, Borus? Sort of a sneak preview?"

Borus avoided looking straight at Percival and moved towards the door. "I don’t think I should say anything. It’s for Chris to do. I’ll see you later." He hurriedly made his exit.

Percival sat down and put his head in his hands. "No…"

Borus found Leo and Roland out training with Juan, the Bujutsu master. He waited for them to finish what they were doing, knowing that he wouldn’t want to be interrupted during a training session.

Leo stomped over to where Borus was leaning against a fence. "Borus! Waiting your turn?"

"No, actually, Leo. I’m here to relay a message from Chris."

Leo perked up at that. "Oh yes?"

"Lady Chris requests the presence of each of the Six Mighty Knights in her room as soon as possible, so that she can speak with them all together," the blond knight spoke as if reading from an official message scroll.

"Battle information, right? She wants to make sure we’re briefed about attack formations!" The Iron Knight seemed quite excited about this new development.

"Um, not exactly…"

"Then what is it? Spit it out, Borus!"

Borus was unwilling to divulge any information. "Lady Chris merely wants to speak with us all…" He trailed off. He began walking, hoping Leo would take it at that.

"What’s with all the secrecy? Seems odd to me!" No such luck.

Roland spoke up for the first time. "Lady Chris probably wishes to tell us about her and Borus." Borus stopped dead in his tracks.

"Eh?" Leo turned towards Roland.

"Their new relationship."

"Relationship!" Leo fumed. "Is this true, Borus?!"

Borus looked as though he wished a hole would appear and swallow him up. "Um…"

"Out with it!"

Borus resignedly admitted, "I’m afraid so…"

"What!" Leo whipped out his axe and began waving it around. "How could this be? I can’t believe it! Borus!" He embedded the axe halfway into an enormous tree and leaned on his knees, breathing heavily. Borus was glad the axe hadn’t ended up in his skull.

Roland sighed. "I’m not surprised. I knew that it would happen someday. Ah well. I suppose we’ll all have to find someone else."

Leo scowled. "As if any other woman could possibly measure up to Lady Chris." He looked Borus up and down. "At least it’s one of us, though; I shudder to think of her with someone like that Nash. Would have thought she’d pick someone of larger stature, though…"

Borus and Roland stared at Leo oddly.

Borus, Leo, and Roland all entered Chris’s room. Leo and Roland each sat down at the table, joining Louis and Salome. Borus was unsure of whether he should stand next to Chris or not. Eventually he decided on standing next to the bed, relatively close to her position at the window, but far enough away so he didn’t feel as though he were crowding her. Percival stood off to the side by himself.

Chris took a quick look around the room and decided she should get started. She took a deep breath to steady herself. She glanced at Borus, who gave her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "I suppose you’re all wondering why I asked you to be here."

Leo grunted. Chris looked at him for a second and decided to ignore him. "I suppose the easiest way to do this is to just say it. Borus and I… have decided to pursue a relationship." She looked up nervously.

Salome was the only one who appeared a bit surprised. Louis beamed at Chris and Borus (he had already resigned himself to the fact that he was too young for his Lady Chris and was content to simply admire her from afar). An angry expression passed over Percival’s face, but before anyone noticed it had been replaced by a mask of cool indifference.

Chris was a little put off by the silence in the room. Borus walked over to her and put a hand on her shoulder. She smiled gratefully at him.

Salome was the first to speak. Despite the ache he felt in his heart, he felt as though he should say something to put Chris at ease. He stood up. "Well, good for you, Lady Chris. And you, Borus. I’m sure you’ll be very happy. It is good for us to turn to others for comfort in these difficult times."

"Thank you, Salome," Chris said. She looked into Salome’s caring brown eyes and felt as though an understanding passed between them.

Roland stood up also. "Yes, indeed. It often takes a dark period for one to be able to appreciate what has always been there."

Chris and Borus exchanged a glance at that, each fully realizing the truth behind the elf’s words.

Leo stood menacingly in front of Borus. "You’d better take of her or you’ll have to answer to me."

Borus saluted him.

"Are we dismissed, then?"

Chris was a bit disconcerted as she heard Percival. "Er, yes, I suppose that’s all."

Percival brushed past her without saying anything, throwing Borus a contemptuous look. The other knights followed him out, leaving only Chris, Borus, and Louis.

Louis came over to the couple. "Lady Chris, Sir Borus, I’m very happy for you. I wish you the best."

"Thank you, Louis," Chris said smiling, as her squire left the room. She turned to Borus. "Well, I’m certainly glad that’s over. Did Percival seem a bit upset to you?"

Borus shrugged. "I’m sure he’s fine, milady. I’ll talk to him."

Chris nodded. "I would feel a lot better if I knew he was alright."

A knock came at the door. It was Salome.

"Salome? Is something the matter?"

"No, milady, but I think you should come to the meeting hall. There’s some people here you should see."

Chris glanced worriedly at Borus. "All right."

The blond knight nodded. "I’ll talk to Percival."

Percival stood at the window in the room he shared with Borus, staring out into space. He felt… too many emotions. He didn’t know what he felt. Disappointment, anger, betrayal, disbelief. He hadn’t spoken at the little gathering in Chris’s room because he had been afraid that he might have exploded, or burst into tears. He wasn’t sure which.

He tried to tell himself that he could have any girl he wanted. He had loads of admirers, and certainly flirted with a lot of girls. But there was only one he wanted. There had always been one. But now…

Percival didn’t turn as he heard Borus come into the room. He pretended he hadn’t noticed. He didn’t want to have to talk to his "friend" now…

"You were unusually silent during the meeting, Percival." Don’t talk to me… "Lady Chris is worried."

"Oh, is she? Why don’t you go comfort her, then? Give her your shoulder to cry on. It’s what you always wanted, isn’t it?" Percival gritted out.

"What’s the matter with you, Percival? You aren’t acting like yourself," Borus said, concerned.

"As if you don’t know? And like you care, anyway."

Borus frowned. "Is this about Lady Chris? Because you know I never meant to hurt you, Percival. I can’t help how things turned out."

Percival snapped. "Oh, you can’t help it, can you? That’s a load of crap, and you know it! This is what you wanted all along, so don’t go around saying you didn’t mean for it to happen!"

"Fine, then! I wanted it to happen! Yes, I won’t deny that. I love Lady Chris and I’m glad that she feels the same way. But I swear I didn’t want to cause you any distress, Percival. Believe that, at least!" Borus was fighting a losing battle to keep his temper. He’d never seen Percival so furious before.

"Oh, that’s rich. Just don’t even try, okay? Nothing you can say will ever make this any better!"

"Percival, you’re my best friend. I don’t want to lose you over this! It’s silly!"

"It’s silly? You think this is silly?!" Percival was shouting now. "Because I can’t seem to find the humor in it! I lost the woman I love to my best friend! You can’t have any idea how that feels, so just… just forget it!"

"Goddess, I can’t believe you! Can’t you just be glad for Chris and I? We’re happy! If you love Chris so much, just be thankful she’s happy! Just be my friend, be her friend, like you’ve always been."

"You just don’t get it, do you? You won! I lost! If you think I can be happy for you, you’re dumber than I thought. We can never go back to the way we were. You’ve seen to that. Just leave me be!"

"Fine! Percival, you’ve always had my respect, but now I’ve seen something else in you. I’ll never be able to see you the same way again."

"Will you just leave already! You’ve already lost my respect, friend. I can’t seem to care that the man who said he was my best friend and then betrayed me doesn’t respect me."

Borus slammed the door behind him without replying.

Percival sank down onto his bed. The anger was leaving him now, and he was left with a wave of grief. Not caring whether it made him seem weak, he began to cry.

Chris made her way wearily back to her bedroom. Borus sat waiting for her. He pushed his argument with Percival to the back of his mind. "So, what’s the news, Lady Chris?"

"I’ve just had a talk with Sasarai and Dios."

Borus leaped to his feet. "What?! Dios and Sasarai! Those stinking Harmonians… Are they still here? I’ll kill them!"

Chris put her hands up. "No, it’s all right, Borus." She was laughing a bit at his outburst. "They want out. They gave us vital information about Luc’s plans. Believe me, I didn’t trust them, but they are here to help. Goddess knows we could use someone of Sasarai’s power on our side."

Borus grudgingly took his seat. "Well, if you’re sure, Lady Chris. What did they tell you?"

Chris sat down next to the other knight. "I don’t want to think about any of that right now." She sighed and leaned against Borus, who put his arms around her. "Tell me about Percival. Is he all right?"

Damn. Borus had been hoping she wouldn’t ask about that. He didn’t want to worry her further, or make her doubt her decision to pursue a relationship with him. "Oh, he’ll be fine. Just having some trouble with women." He hoped she would let it go at that.

"Percival? Trouble with women?" Chris chuckled. "I’ve no doubt he’ll be able to work it out."

Borus smiled weakly. She had bought it.

They sat in silence for a while, enjoying their closeness.

"Lady Chris, there’s something I… I need to tell you."

"Of course, Borus, you know you can tell me anything." Chris was concerned at the downcast tone of Borus’s voice.

"I know I can, but…" Borus hesitated. He knew he had to tell her about what he’d done at Karaya Village, he should have told her a long time ago. But he was afraid of what her reaction would be, that she would reject him, send him away in disgrace. And whatever she did, he would deserve it. He stood up and moved across the room.

"Borus, please tell me. I can see it’s hurting you," Chris pleaded. "After all, weren’t you the one who always encouraged talking?"

The blond knight merely continued to stare blankly at the ground. Chris walked over and put a hand on his shoulder. At first he shied away, but then he took both her hands in his and forced himself to meet her eyes. "When I told you about Karaya Village, when I told you I didn’t kill those people… It wasn’t true. It was me." He waited for her to recoil in disgust.

However, Chris’s lavender eyes showed only love and… understanding. "Borus, it’s all right."

"No! It’s not all right! It’ll never be all right! Don’t you get it? I killed them! They were civilians, innocent women and children! And I killed them!" Borus dropped Chris’s hands and fought to regain control of his emotions.

Chris reached out and took his face in her hands. "Yes, Borus, I do get it. Have you forgotten what I did that night? I killed that little boy."

"That’s different," Borus insisted.

"No, it’s not. He was just a child, and I killed him. Look at me, Borus. I love you. I know that you are a good man. We were all upset that night. You lost control, and what you did was wrong. But it’s all right. We all make mistakes. Goddess knows I have. I can see how you regret it. And for what it’s worth, I forgive you." Chris hoped that she had gotten through to him.

"How can you forgive me?" the blond knight asked sadly. "I can’t even forgive myself. I’m a murderer. A disgrace to the name of Zexen and the Six Mighty Knights. You don’t want someone like that fighting next to you."

"On the contrary, Borus. You are exactly the kind of person I want by my side at the end. Because I know you. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. Your courage, your desire to do what’s right and to fight for your people. I’ve seen also your quick temper, your impatience and your hot-headedness. I’ve seen the best and worst of you and I understand with perfect clarity what you are. You are a hell of a man. And I love you. You’re the one, Borus," Chris said gently.

Borus looked at his lady with such love and admiration that Chris was warmed to her very soul. "And she shall look on him with forgiveness and everybody will forgive and love… and he will be loved," Borus murmured softly. He broke down then, buried his face into Chris’s shoulder and cried. She just held him.

Borus didn’t feel up to seeing Percival. Besides, Percival would probably shut him out anyway. So he went to someone he knew would be willing to help him out. "Louis? It’s Borus. Can I come in?"

Louis opened the door. "Of course, sir, come in."

Borus stepped inside. He wasn’t sure exactly what to say.

"Sir Borus? Did you need anything?"

"Um, well, actually… I was wondering if you’d mind if I slept here tonight."

Louis frowned. "Of course, I don’t mind. But if you don’t mind my asking, did you have a disagreement with Percival?"

Borus sighed and nodded.

"I see. It was about Lady Chris, wasn’t it?"

Borus was mildly surprised. "You see everything, don’t you Louis?"

The young boy shrugged. "I suppose. I think most everyone knew that you both loved Lady Chris. Except for maybe Lady Chris herself."

Borus sat down. "I hate to fight with Percival. He’s been my best friend for years. He can be rather irritating at times, but I don’t want to lose his friendship. I never realized how much he meant to me until this whole mess, when I couldn’t really talk to him. I didn’t mean to hurt him. I love Lady Chris, but I think I love him too, in a way."

"Don’t feel badly, Sir Borus. You haven’t done anything wrong. But neither has Sir Percival. He has a right to be upset. I’m sure you would be too, had your positions been reversed."

The fair-haired knight couldn’t deny that. "I just don’t know what to do, Louis."

Louis patted Borus’s shoulder reassuringly. "Don’t worry, Sir Borus. It’ll all work out."

"I hope so. How did you get to be so wise anyway, Louis?"

The squire just smiled in response.

"What is it?" Percival yelled angrily at whomever it was knocking at his door.

"Sir Percival, I’d like to talk to you," came Louis’s voice.

"Fine, come in, then. I was afraid it was Borus," Percival said as Louis stepped into the room.

"No, it’s only me. But I want to talk about Sir Borus," Louis said, fixing the knight with his bright green eyes.

"All right then, out with it," Percival said with a sigh.

Louis began to speak in a voice taut with suppressed anger that Percival had never expected to hear from the usually cheerful boy. "Sir Borus is very upset, you know. Do you even realize what he’s had to deal with these past few weeks?"

Percival only shrugged uncaringly. "Do you know what I’ve had to deal with? He’s got the good end of the arrangement, I’d say."

"But that’s where you’re wrong, sir. This has been just as hard for him. Yes, he’s managed to finally get through to Lady Chris, but only after a struggle. He’s been insulted, poked fun at, humiliated, and turned aside at every attempt." Percival looked up in disbelief. "It’s been far from easy, Sir Percival! But he did it. He did it because he had the courage to face his feelings, the courage to risk pain and rejection because he knew he could help Lady Chris. And he did it with no assistance from you, his best friend. He’s had no one to talk to, no one to confide in, no one to comfort him all the times he was hurt. And sir, I hope you’re ashamed of yourself, if you don’t mind my saying."

Percival could only stare after in shock as Louis walked out of the room.

The Next Day

Borus exited the room only to find himself face-to-face with Percival. He decided to ignore the other knight and headed towards the stairs.

"Borus, wait. Don’t be like that."

"Don’t be like what? I think we said all we needed to say yesterday. If you’ll excuse me, there’s a meeting I need to attend." Borus continued walking.

"Can’t you see I want to apologize? If you would just give me a chance…"

Borus came to a halt and turned around. "What?"

Percival looked down at the ground. If Borus hadn’t known better, he would have thought the ever-confident Percival was actually nervous. "It’s just… I- I’m sorry. I realize now that I made a mistake. I’ve been terribly selfish. I never even considered how difficult this must have been for you. I’m supposed to be your best friend, and yet I let my own feelings get in the way. When you needed someone to talk to the most, I wasn’t there for you. So- I’m sorry."

The blond knight took a step closer to his friend. He looked up with shame clouding his handsome features. "No, I’m sorry, Percival. I’ve been trying to place all the blame upon you, but that isn’t fair. I was too selfish to even recognize that you were hurting. I was thinking only of my own problems, and never stopped to think about how my situation was affecting you. So, I’m sorry."

The dark-haired man smiled with the characteristic spark back in his eyes. "We both have been rather stupid, haven’t we?"

Borus chuckled. "That we have. Friends?" He reached out a hand.

Percival took it. "Friends."

From where he was standing in the shadows, Louis smiled.

Chris looked around at the sea of faces gathered before her in the bright sunlight on the deck of the ship. So many different people, different races. It was amazing how they had all banded together to face the common threat of Harmonia. Zexens, Lizards, Karayans, Ducks. Some from Alma Kinan, from Chisha, from Tinto, from numerous other places. Even some from Harmonia- mercenaries, Calerians, Le Buquians, and the biggest surprise of all- Sasarai and Dios. And all these people looked to her, to Chris, to the Flame Champion, for leadership. That definitely scared her.

Chris had noticed Borus and Percival come in together. She was relieved to see them chatting amicably. Despite Borus’s reassurances, Chris had been worried that something was amiss between them. And she thought she knew what- who- it was. She wasn’t completely oblivious.

It seemed like everyone was present. Chris couldn’t put this off any further, so she took a deep breath and began.

"I’ve been looking around at all of you here today, and all I can think of is how proud it makes me. It makes me proud to see how people who just weeks before were enemies can put aside their differences in the face of a common evil. But I certainly will not take all of the credit. The credit belongs to all of you. You are the ones who should be proud. Remember that as we face the final battle."

"For those of you who do not know, yesterday two more joined our army. Their names are Sasarai and Dios." The crowd began whispering excitedly amongst themselves, but were silenced by a stern look from Chris. "I know what you all are thinking. They are high-ranking Harmonians. They are the ones we are fighting. But they have come with valuable information. They wish to help, and I welcome it. I believe that anyone may join in our struggle if they so desire, no matter what they have done in the past. For aren’t we all forgetting past indiscretions, if only temporarily? We have all done things we are not proud of," Chris’s eyes met Borus’s for a second and she smiled at him, "but that doesn’t matter now. Now, we are here as allies. We will all do our part to keep our freedom."

"From Sasarai we have learned that Luc has gathered the True Runes together, intending to destroy his own True Wind Rune. This would mean the destruction of the Grasslands." There was an audible gasp of disbelief from the crowd. "We know where he plans to perform the ritual. Caesar has suggested an all-out attack at the Ceremonial Site in order to gain entry. From there we will try and retake the runes, and defeat Luc."

"So now we must prepare for what will be the final string of battles. It won’t be easy. We face a formidable foe, and even with the strategists and fighters we have on our side, some of you may die. I can’t tell you that everything will work out, because it may not. Most of you present here have already lost friends and family members, and you may lose more. All I can tell you is to trust in what we are trying to accomplish, trust in yourselves and in each other. We have faced dire odds before and were victorious. We have accomplished an amazing thing here, and I ask you to just do a little more."

Chris stepped down to tremendous applause. She blushed slightly at the attention and hurried over to where Borus was standing. He gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek and said, "You were magnificent, Lady Chris!"

She smiled and kissed him softly, saying, "You were my inspiration."

Borus turned crimson.

Percival flinched and backed away from the display of affection, but decided he should say something to prove to Borus he really was okay with the situation. He plastered a smile on his face and went over to the happy couple.

Two Weeks Later

Borus and Chris walked side by side through the courtyard of Brass Castle. Borus smiled as he looked around at the bustle of Zexen life. Children played in the street while their parents visited the shops, traders tried to get good deals for their wares, and knights hurried here and there with various tasks. Chris glanced over at her partner. "What are you smiling about, Borus?"

He turned to her. "Why, it's a beautiful day out, Lady Chris! Why not smile? I'm still just so happy to be here. I really did miss it, you know. The sights, the sounds, the people. Like they say, there's no place like home."

Chris couldn't help but smile herself at Borus's almost childlike enthusiasm. "You're right, of course, Borus. Sometimes it's so easy for me to ignore simple pleasures like this."

Borus took Chris's hand in his and kissed it. "That's because you have so much to handle, Lady Chris. But why not forget all about the past few months, and just enjoy today for today?"

The Zexen Captain hesitated for a moment, thinking of the work she still had to do. But then she took in the bright sunshine, the blue sky, and of course, the eager knight beside her. Paperwork and a visit to the Council just didn't seem so appealing right then. Chris laughed suddenly. "Why not, indeed? Come, Borus, let's go for a stroll!"

Chris Lightfellow and Borus Redrum were heroes, the both of them, in their own ways. But to any passing stranger, the two knights were just another young couple in love, hardly worth a second glance. And on this day, they would be glad to call themselves so.

The End