Malachai & Erminia

Chapter One

Malachai sat on a cushioned bench watching people chatter amongst eachother and show off their skills. He would occasionally shake his head at their stupidity. They were all just willingly sharing all their secrets and making it easier for other to steal their silk strand. He especially wanted to laugh at the men trying to impress the girls who joined the competition. he knew better than to underestimate a woman but these men gave away every little detail about themselves in hopes to charm them into bed. One woman in particular caught his eyes. She had rose red hair and was wearing a top that only covered her breasts. He could see a dragon tattoo on her tight stomach and he couldn’t help thinking how sexy she was. If he wasn’t here to participate in Kifnira he would try to show off for her himself.

She caught him staring and walked away from a man when he was in mid sentence about how extraordinary his magic was. She unsheathed her left blade and had it at Malachais neck moments later ‘i don’t tolerate being ogled, even if you are a prince”

“i’m sorry, i wont try to lie and say i wasn’t admiring you. please forgive me. I will quit staring” she smiled and put her sword away “so prince malachai, what is it you do? I know you’re good with your sword but is that all?’

“I don’t know if you’ll be on my team or not so i’m not going to give me secrets to you.” She smiled approvingly “smart man, thinking with your head and not your penis. To think moments ago i didn’t like you” Malachai laughed “you honestly blame men for admiring you?”

“when they do it lecherously”

“was i doing it lecherously?”

“You were too far away to tell where you were on the creep scale” Malachai laughed again. Erminia wanted to be serious in front of the other contestants but his laugh made her smile no matter how she fought it. “how high am i on that scale? I must know” Malachai said. “you obviously aren’t a creep. I like you. My name’s Erminia. I am of no regal birth if that’s your next question. my parents were hard workers though and did deserve respect.’

“were?”

“demons, last year. i went to visit them to find an empty home. Neighbors told me what happend”

‘i’m sorry”

“as I understand it your mother passed aswell from childbirth. i heard only good things about her. I’m sorry for your loss aswell”

“She was, I was very lucky to call her mother” Erminia nodded and sat down “could we make small talk? we don’t have to talk about our skills”

‘i’d like that, for starters what made you get that tattoo?”

“an ex boyfriend was a tattoo artist and wanted practice”

“he did an excellent job”

“oh yes, i love it. he let me choose what i wanted”

“So you are single now then?”

“Happily so, you?”

“Yep” Sampson walked over “well well, who’s this lovely lady?”

“Erminia and watch your tongue if you like your throat” Malachai answered. “Of what royal line are you from?” Sampson asked Erminia. “None” she answered then he said ‘then why should i fear her when we haven’t started the game. She wouldn’t dare raise” before he could finish her left sword was at his neck ‘i would and am. You are barely a royal so get off the damn high horse” Sampson was at a loss for words and apologized disingenuously. She withdrew her blade even though she could tell it was no real apology. ‘if he will be in your company I’m going. it was nice to meet you Malachai” Erminia walked off at a hurried pace. Malachai sighed ‘you really do need to quit being such an ass to people who were born lower than you. I liked her”

Before Sampson could answer an elderly man with a deep voice started to speak at the front of the room. Everyone fell silent to hear him. “it’s almost time to sign your wavers. As customary I have to explain the game even though nobody comes here without knowing. You will be divided into teams and each given a piece of colored silk to carry or wear as you see fit. To win you must obtain a silk strand from every other team which means to win you must obtain one of every color silk that is given out before you are sent to your starting positions. The wise work with their teammates but it isn’t somthing you have to do. If you lose your silk strand you may turn on your team to steal one of theirs so you can stay in the competition. I must emphasize in this game duels to the death are permitted and sanctioned by the king and queen. When you sign your waver you are saying you are equal to everyone else in this competition and you accept the risk of death to participate. No high blood will save you in this game. We don’t encourage killing people for their silk strand but as i said, it is permitted. dragons are waiting outside that are the color of the strand you will be given so you know which one to ride on. They will take you to your starting positions on the mountain. You all will be given a whistle with your strand so that you may call upon your dragon if you give up or have obtained every color. They will take you where you need to go. The colors are Black, Purple, Pink, Yellow, Red, Orange, Blue and White. So many signed up this year we had to add a new color which is why there is now white to support another team in this years competition. Any questions?”

None came so they all lined up to sign then get their whistles and silk. Malachai sent a silent prayer he would be put on a team with Erminia. The color Malachai received was Yellow. Sampson was next and received Red. ‘well that stinks” Sampson said since he wanted Malachais team ‘maybe next year” Malachai said. Malachai went outside to his dragon and was soon nearly scared out of his boots by a man that ran up to him “oh my god! I’m on the same team as the brother in law of Zane Koopman!” Irwin exclaimed. H ewas soon relieved when he saw Erminia standing in his group with her yellow silk.

“Is he really as terrifying as they say?” Irwin asked excitedly.

“Uh probably more than they say.” Malachai answered.

“Listen boy,” Erminia said when she heard his nonstop chatter, “if you cause me to fail because of your constant blathering I will kick your ass.”

“Ease up on the boy, sorry young man. He’s just excited. Is this your first year Irwin?” He asked as they climbed onto the back of their dragon.

“Yes and I’m so excited. Did Zane ever compete?”

Malachai chuckled. “A couple of times.”

“That is so cool.” The dragon pushed off the ground and soared high up in the sky. Both Malachai and Erminia enjoyed the wind blowing in their faces. Malachai wondered if this was how Ariel felt every time she asked Irim to take her up. It gave him a greater appreciation for the beast he was sitting on. The dragon circled down, landing gracefully on its feet and letting them down. Irwin stayed close to Malachai, not looking like he would betray him for the world.

“So what’s the plan?” Irwin asked.

“Work together, get our ribbons, leave no man behind. A team is only as good as each person, weak link and we all crumble just like in a military unit. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Spoken like a true prince.” Erminia said and he smiled at her and they set off down the mountain.

“Make sure to keep all of your senses open.” Malachai said quietly. “And step lightly, one broken twig could easily give you away.”

Unlike Malachai, Ermnia and Irwin the rest of the yellow team just ran in separate directions without forming any type of teams. Malachai didn’t expect to see a single one be declared a winner of this game. It was sad they had no idea the value of working together. They explored the mountain stealthily to find people with a different color silk than they had. Erminia doubted they would find anyone for a few hours since the dragons spaced teams as far apart as possible. They began to pass an apple tree and Erminia said ‘wait, lets gather some of these and put them in my bag for when we’re hungry later.” Irwin jumped up into the tree and cut apples down with his sword until Erminia told him that was enough. ‘you boys are lucky your with me. You two really brought nothing with you”

“stuff slows you down” Irwin answered. Erminia shook her head then they kept moving in pursuit of another player. The sound of chatting caught Malachais ear and he looked at Erminia who had obviously heard it too. “how good are you guys at tree top moving?” Malachai asked since they were now in thick woods. “great” ‘perfect’ they answered. The three team mates climbed up in the tree and followed the noise. They were all silent as cats on the hunt as they moved from branch to branch. They saw four black silks sitting and eating. Erminia felt this would be an easy taking since they were resting to eat this early in the game. Malachai gave a thumbs up with a questioning look to ask if they were ready to strike. Erminia and irwin both returned the thumbs up so Malachai and Erminia jumped down from the treetop.

Irwin stayed up and shot an arrow from his bow. It embedded deeply into one of the mens shoulders. Blood oozing right away and flowing into his green shirt. The man yelled in pain as the others began to fight Erminia and Malachia. Irwin went to send another arrow flying but the female was apparently faster than his eyes could register. She held a a dagger to his throat ‘give me the silk or I will kill you, are you ready to die? Will you test me?”

“People who talk big often underestimate their opponents.” Irwin said.

“What are you…” Irwin charge his body with electricity, giving the woman a nice shock so she toppled out of the tree. Irwin jumped down and grabbed her silk and tucked it into his boot. He then checked her pulse, breathing easy when he found her alive.

“That was amazing.” Malachai said, his praise making Irwin light up.

“Yes, quite a feat from someone so young.” Erminia concurred.

“It’s static magic. I just draw it straight out of the air.”

“Come, lets get out of here before this lot wakes.” Malachai sheathed his sword and they all started out again, leaving as little of a trail as possible so the team they defeated couldn’t find them and exact revenge. They stopped to catch their breath and eat an apple. When they had their wind back they moved through the woods silently. Malachai was excited about running into Sampson and stealing his silk. He knew Sampson would be being overly competitive in hopes of beaing able to gloat about defeating the prince.

“So, Malachai, could I maybe meet Zane someday?” Irwin whispered.

“I don’t see why not. Come to the castle when you have time and I’ll take you to meet him.”

“Really?”

“Yes, now please hush and pay attention.”

A few more hours passed without seeing any other players so they stopped to eat the apples Erminia had them gather. She gave them each one “Lets not actually fill ourselves. I don’t know how many times you two have played but I’ve been participating every year since I was old enough to join. You’ll be better if you’re not fighting on a full stomach.” they listened and only ate the one apple. “nightfalls approaching, shall we take turns grabbing a short nap? We could sneak up on people as they sleep if we don’t rest ourselves” Irwin said. “I don’t play that way. I take people by surprise but i find it cowardly to attack sleeping enemies.” Erminia said. Her words making Irwin feel ashamed. malachai spoke “I definitely don’t think we should all sleep at once. Two of us can sleep for about four hours then the one that stayed up can sleep four hours. Sound good?’

“perfect, I say Malachai and i should sleep first and then you Irwin.’

“ok, that’s fine with me. Just lay down when you’re ready”

“i’d rather just rest now. It’s best to keep on your feet in this game so if we are going to rest we should go ahead and get our sleep” Erminia said and Malachai agreed. They laid down, fully trusting Irwin to alert them if enemies approached. Irwin didn’t like being alone with his thoughts since they kept traveling to his ex. He missed her so badly but he knew he had screwed up too badly for her to take him back. The words i hate you were still sawing into his heart. He deserved her anger but he wished he could rewind time and not be such a selfish prick. Irwin kept looking at the sky, wishing time would stop being so cruelly slow. he wanted their four hours to end so he could rest and stop picturing his ex girlfriend.

When their four hours finally passed he woke them with a light static shock. They didn;t mind and just sat up to stretch. Irwin laid down “night guys”

“night” they both said. Malachai cracked a smile when he saw grass in erminias hair. “what?” she asked ‘there’s grass in your hair” Malachai answered. She took out a small mirror from her satchel then got the grass out. “thanks for telling me”

“I didn’t really, my smile gave it away”

“you still todl me none the less. Did you rest well?”

“Yeah” Erminia smiled at his answer “It’s refreshing to meet a prince who isn’t spoiled”

“My parents would never do such a thing. We even had to help the servants with their work. Mom wanted us level headed” Erminia frowned i didn’t mean to make you think of your mother”

“There is no reason to apologize. I am always happy to talk about my family, dead or alive. My mother and father were amazing people, they raised us to be strong and self sufficient. I love and miss them very much, but I cherish the time I got with them.”

“Well they raised an amazing son. I believe they would be proud of you.”

“I hope so, I have many faults and as far as relationships go I am a disaster. The longest one I had lasted two months.”

“What happened?”

He shrugged. “We tried loving each other and it didn’t work out. We finally just decided on a strictly sexual relationship and at two months we kind of went our seperate ways. The truth is, I have never met a woman who made me want more in life.” Until now, his thoughts finished for him. He shook his head, wondering what that was about.

“You okay?” She asked.

“Yes, thank you. My thoughts are just jumbled right now.” Erminia placed her hand on top of his.

“Best clear your head prince, jumbled thoughts are liable to get you in trouble out here.”

He smiled. “You are right of course, thank you for your concern.”

He stared up at the sky, breathing deeply of the fresh air. He let his troubled thoughts drift away, needing to be completely alert if he wanted to be of any use to his team. When it was time to wake Irwin, Malachai shook him. He jerked awake and sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and getting up. “Lets get moving.” Erminia said as she shouldered her bag.

Both men obeyed and got moving. This time they were the team surprised. Two orange silk holders seemed to pop out of thin air, one of which slamming a large tree branch into Erminias head. She stumbled but didn’t fall. She swung her blade cutting the branch in half then angrily kicking the man in the balls. She knew it was a low blow but he had pissed her off beyond a functioning, rational mind. She got over top of him and held her blade to his throat. He sighed and gave her his silk in defeat ‘thank you’ she said. Erminia turned and laughed immediately as she saw Malachia use two of his fingers ot hit his opponents larynx. The man gagged and waved his silk in defeat. Malachai took it and both previous orange holders ran off.  Malachai sighed ‘we both took him down really. i don’t know what to do”

“You did the final blow that made him give up. You keep it. We’ll find another orange”

‘you sure?”

“Yeah, I would ahve never thought of what you just did” Malachai smiled ‘it’s somthing my mother taught me.”

“Ah, Queen Cantaly. My father speaks of how pretty she was a lot. Was she truly that beautiful”

“she was to me but then again I am her son and she was an amazing mother so it colors my perception” Irwin smiled at Malachais answer. They began to walk again, glad everything was going so well this far. They still had their own color plus Black and Orange. That meant they needed Blue, Purple, Pink, Red and White to win. “we’re a good team” Erminia said. “yeah we are. I’m glad we were set in a team together and you two wanted to work with me” Malachai answered. they were just walking along when irwin screamed. he had been walking behind Erminia and Malachai so they both jerked backwards to see irwin had fallen into a hole that for whatever reason didn’t claim them “what the heck” Malachai said as he looked down the deep hole “i know, why didn’t it make you two fall in” Irwin said.

“lets just get you out” Erminia said. She fished in her satchel and pulled out a rope. “you think of everything” Malachai said. “I told you, i’ve done this every year since i was old enough to compete” She lowered the rope down slowly. It wasn’t long enough to go as low as she would have liked but all Irwin had to do was jump for it. Malachai grabbed the rope too to help pull then they both yelled ‘jump for it Irwin!”

Irwin jumped and grabbed the end, gripping as if his life depended on it. They started pulling and he used his feet to help push himself up. When he was close to the top Malachai reached down and grabbed his arm, hauling him out. “Are you okay?” He asked.

“Yeah, I still don’t understand how that happened.” Irwin answered.

Erminia studied the hole and what was left of the debris that had been covering it. “Ah, Malachai and I walked along the edge. We only had one boot on the trap each, but you stepped right in the middle.”

“I’m sure one of the other teams set this. Perhaps we should wait to see who?” Malachai suggested.

“Good idea.”

They found a place far enough away not to be seen, but close enough to see the faces of the ones who had set the trap. Half an hour passed and the team bearing the purple silk showed up. They approached the hole slowly and spoke in bewildered voices when they saw no one. “Irwin, charge the air.” Malachai whispered. Irwin sent static electricity coursing through the air, surrounding the opposing team with it. They looked around, their eyes searching the sky for any sign of lightening. Malachai pulled his sword out and Erminia followed his example. “Shock them.” Irwin pushed the electricity into them, making them scream. Malachai and Erminia rushed them, quickly knocking them into their own trap.

They hit the bottom, all of them unconcious. “That was amazing.” Irwin said excitedly.

“Alright, lower me down and I’ll get their silk.” Erminia said with a happy smile. “We’re getting closer boys, we only have four left.”

“you two only have four. Remember, we only found two orange members”

“oh that’s right”

“Nope all of us. Two of these guys have an orange silk so I’m grabbing one for you” Erminia called. “thanks” he yelled back. Soon they each had their silks and were even in number again. They searched high and low for more combatants but none were found. They didn’t stop walking until it was night again. “jeez, no wonder this competition can take so long” A dragon roaring startled Irwin making Erminia laugh “don’t worry, the dragon circle the mountains to look for dead so they aren’t waiting on nobody”

“well isn’t that bleak” Irwin answered then Malachai said ‘well killing people for their silk is permitted”

“Yeah, five people died last year right?” Irwin asked Erminia “yeah, butchered. they were over killed for their silks and they of course didn’t investigate who did it since killings allowed. I think in over kill cases players should still get in trouble.”

“I agree but I have no influence here to change that. Maybe i could talk to my sister and she could talk to the royals here’ Malachai added. ‘you should” Erminia said and Malachai smiled ‘if it’s for you, then of course i will” Malachai blushed “wow sorry, that was fliritng”

“I didn’t mind”

“I see why you two wanted to be up together” Irwin said with a wink and Erminia hit him in the head “shut it”

“sorry, just teasing. Can i sleep first tonight?”

“Go ahead” Malachai said. Irwin laid down to soak up every minute of his four hours. Malachais mind filled with what an amazing fighter Erminia was and how much he enjoyed talking to her. She was funny adn adorably tempermental. heloved that fire in such a beauty. He admired how she was a woman who could take care of herself. he felt such strong feelings for her and he didn’t understand them one bit. All he knew for now was he wanted to keep in touch with her when Kifnira was over. “you’re staring Malachai” Ermina said and he turned his head “I’m sorry, I got lost in everything about you…i mean, well damn that was what i meant. I’m sorry Erminia” Malachai said with a deep blush.

“what do you mean everything?” she asked. “just, how you fight is so impressive and as I said before the game started. I find you so beautiful. I just adore talking with you and truly everything that makes you who you are. You make me feel, i don’t know. Different I guess” he chuckled at himself “I sound stupid”

“No, it’s actually really sweet. I’ve never had anyone say the are impressed with my skill or that they adore anything about me. Men just usually oggle me and try to smooth talk their way into my pants. So thank you, you make me feel beautiful.” It was her turn to blush, an act which shocked her since she had not done it since she was little.

“Even that is adorable, the way your cheeks get all rosey. I really like that.” He brushed his knuckles over her cheek. “You are the most gorgeous warrior woman I have ever laid eyes on.”

“Have you had your eyes on many?”

“No, just you.”

“Oh just kiss her already, all this mushy talk is making it hard to sleep.” Irwin said, his back still turned to them. They both blushed in embarrassment.

“Well, may I kiss you Erminia?” Malachai asked softly.

“Yes, I’d like that very much.”

Chapter Two

He tangled his fingers in her soft, red hair and pressed his lips against her’s. His heart skipped a beat and the whole world seemed to fall away, leaving only him and her. It was electrifying, earth shattering, and incredibly sweet to the point Erminia thought she might cry. When he finally parted their lips she couldn’t help but feel disappointed. He had the same look on his face, the one that said he would gladly do more if they weren’t in the middle of the woods with Irwin and people possibly looking for them.

“that was amazing” Malachai said. “yeah, it was” Erminia answered. Malachai couldn’t look at her as he asked “would you consider being my girlfriend? I don’t have an amazing track record with women but I really want to be with you Erminia. You are special and have stirred feelings in me I didn’t know I had.” Erminia smiled happily then kissed his cheek “I would gladly be Malachai. I don’t want to move away from this land though. Could you come home with me instead of us going to the castle?”

“of course, I’ve lived in the castle all my life but I think it might be fun to get to know this land and stay with you. I’d live anywhere for you”

“lets be quiet now so Irwin can sleep” she answered. “I’ll be quiet if you sit between my legs and lay against my chest”

“If it’ll shut your mouth I guess” Malachai opened his legs so she could sit between them and lay back. Malachai wrapped his arms around her then bent down to kiss her neck. “Malachai” he smiled “That was innocent, i swear”

“Better be” Erminia ended up falling asleep in Malachais arms which made him feel good. he was glad being held by him made her relax enough to fall asleep.” When it was time to wake Irwin Malachai gently coaxed Erminia awake. Then they woke him for their turn to sleep. He got up and they laid down together. “don’t let romance cloud your heads you two.”

“we wont” Erminia said as her eyes drifted back close. It was crazy to her how much Malachais touch put her at ease. Irwin got lost in his head while he was on guard. Five members from the white team spotted them and made plans for how they’d defeat them to steal their silk. They decided on their plan then went to execute. Irwin was jrked out of his mind and became frantic when he was surrounded by thick smoke. It came from nowhere and he could hear the laughter of enemies. “guys!” he yelled. Malachai and Erminia jerked awake. it was but a second later when Erminia screamed Malachai tried to reach for her but his arms coudln’t find her. All he found was a hard hit over the head. Malachai wanted to swing his sword but didn’t want to risk hurting Erminia.

“Irwin, charge it now.” He yelled.

“But…”

“Now!”

He felt the electricity dance across his skin and braced himself. Irwin screamed as he pushed out all the electricity he could. Malachai’s body spasmed and he could hear the pained screams of others. He fought against the current, getting to his feet and searching for Erminia. She was nowhere to be found, but three members of the opposing team lay on the ground unconscious. Malachai took their silk then kicked one in the ribs. “I’m sorry, this is all my fault.” Irwin said, feeling dejected.

“It’s okay, we just have to find Erminia.” He pulled one of the men up and slapped him. The guy groaned and opened his eyes. “Tell me where your friend took our friend or you’ll get another shock you cowardly prick.”

“To…to our camp, to the east. He’s crazy, he killed a lot of people last year.” Malachai dropped him and grabbed Erminia’s bag. He looked inside, seeing she had stuck her silk pieces in there. His heart hammered with worry. He wondered what would happen when this madman found out she had no silk on her.

“Irwin we must go now.”

“Yes sir.” Irwin actually kicked the man in the head as he passed, rendering him unconscious once again. Malachai was proud of him and gave him a slap on the back before they began their sprint through the woods.

Erminia woke dangling upside down. She found herself staring at someone’s back. Her head hurt more with every bounce, making her feel sick. Her vision darkened and she slipped back into unconsciousness. “Malachai.” She whispered as her eyes closed. She knew he was coming.

Malachai and Irwin ran as fast as they could. Them both feeling guilty for letting an adversary take Erminia. They took comfort that the crazy couldn’t have gotten much done in that little bit of time. Just as they approached where the crazed man had Erminia they heard him screaming. Erminia was biting his hand “shock that bastard” Malachai screamed. It caught the attention of both the upside down Erminia and the razed white silk member. Irwin shocked the man with everything he could muster. He fell to the ground screaming in agony. Malachai cut Erminia down “you ok? Did he hurt you” Malachai said as he looked her over “I’m fine, get him tied up. He’s a fucking nut case”

“he’s the man that mutilated those players last year. his other teammate said so. What did he try to do?” Irwin asked as he used Erminias rope to bind the stunned man on the ground. “when I told him I had no silk he said he would have to find it then tried to put his hands in my pants. I grabbed his hand, brought it to my mouth and bit as hard as I could. Pervert” Malachai blew his whistle “don’t quit” Erminia said then Malachai responded “i’m not, I’m just getting a ref” Their yellow dragon soon landed and looked at Malachai “I need a ref please” The dragon nodded then transformed into the human he really was. “yes my prince?”

“This man uses this game to kill people. He killed those people last year and woul have killed Erminia if we hadn’t stopped him. I don’t have proof but I’d like to think my word as the prince and her word are enough”

“I will take him away and tell the the counselors. Are you three staying in the game?”

“Yes, he just needs to be out of here and delt with” the man bowed “yes your majesty” He transformed back into a dragon then grabbed the other played in his claws before flying away. Malachai hugged Erminia “h god that scared me”

“Me too, theres still a game to be played and we need three more colors to win. We have to get going.”

“you sure?”

“Yeah, my head just hurts.”

“Lets hunt then” Malachai took Erminias hand and they climbed up into the tree tops to hunt for other players. They came upon Sampson alone and jumped down from the tree ‘oah, three against one? How unfair”

“They wont be helping me. It’s just you and me Sampson” Erminia and Irwin didn’t protest. They just sat in the grass to watch. Malachai had no doubts he could win this. His adrenaline was still pumping from briefly loseing Erminia. They each drew their swords and started clanging them against eachother. Erminia watched with an open mouth at their movements. They had been through a lot of training so this was more like a show. She was self taught so didn’t look nearly this good when she fought.

Malachai and Sampson laughed like little boys who were only play fighting. They had done this many times as boys and had always had a friendly competitiveness between them. Malachai employed one of his old tricks, letting Sampson stab at him and catching his friend’s arm between his own and his side. He pressed his blade into Sampson’s throat, both of them laughing at how silly they thought they looked. “Good fight my friend, you got me again.” Sampson said as Malachai released him.

“You seem to fall for that one every time.”

“Someday I’ll learn that an opening with you is never truly an opening. You won fair and square.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his silk cloth as well as four pink ones. He held them over. “I took all of them to make it harder for other teams to win.”

Malachai handed him back one of the pink ones. “There, that way you’re still in the game.”

“I guess I’ll see you three at the finish.” Sampson parted from them, disappearing into the woods.

“Do you think he’ll come back for us?” Erminia asked.

“Nah, besides there are others with our color silk so he’ll probably go after them.”

“You have a lot of faith in your friend being fair.”

Malachai chuckled. “We made a deal when we were kids, whoever wins wins, this time I won and next time it could be him, but we don’t hold it against each other and we learn from our mistakes.”

“By the way, where did you learn to fight like that?” Erminia asked as they started out again.

“My father and having Rapunzel and Casimer to practice with also helped. It took a lot of practice to get this good and I am constantly learning even now.”

“I would love to learn how to do the things you do.”

“Come with me to the castle some time and I will ask Bernadette to teach you a thing or two.”

“We should all go together some time.” Irwin said, happily.

“sounds great, I have to talk to my sister about this game after it ends so we can all go then. I know you don’t want to live there Erminia but would you like to go ahead and go with me when we finish?”

“I’d really like that.” She said excitedly. Malachai took her hand ‘well then lets get two more red silks and three blues so we can all emerge victorious” They walked along until they heard groans, yells and thuds. it caused them to run to see what all the commotion was. They couldn’t tell what all silks were represented but there were about twenty people fighting in a meadow. It was more like a brawl than anything else. “should we join” Irwin asked in a confused tone. Malachai looked perplexed ‘how does anybody freaking know what silks their fighting for and if they won or not?” Erminia laughed “this always happens. It is best for us not to get involved unless we’re pulled it. It truly is too chaotic to really know and is what causes some murders in the game.”

“yeah, I don’t want to kill anybody i don’t have to so lets wait it out in these trees” Irwin said so they climbed up. The brawl had settled to about eleven people when the three caught the attention of a wizard who used wind to push them out of their tree. They fell hard on their backs. It hurt but they all rose quickly anyway. They had been drug into the brawl. “remember! we only need two reds and three blues! Lets get them and go if they are represented here’ they lost eachother in the fray wich deeply upset Malachai. He got more concentratd on finding Erminia than finding men who had the silk he needed.

Erminia found a woman witha red, pink and white silk tied to her wrist. Erminia rushed her but this woman was fast and unsurprised by the assault. They clanged swords and exchnaged kicks, one landing inot the other womans rib cage. it made her faulter giving Erminai the opportunity she needed. “I only want your read one” Erminia said when she had the woman subdued. She untied it and handed it over before running away.

Irwin charged his arrows with electricity and shot them into person after person, only wounding them, but giving them a nasty shock that made them lose control over their muscles. He ducked as a screaming woman swung a mace at his head, going for a killing blow. He punched her in her stomach, putting electricity behind it to make it even more powerful. He managed to find two blue silk and quickly tucked them away. Malachai finally spotted Erminia fighting with a wizard, dodging the fire that was shot her way and unable to get close enough to do any damage. He ran up behind the wizard and smashed the hilt of his sword into the man’s temple.

“Thank you.” Erminia said with a smile. They made their way over to Irwin who was being double teamed by twin swordsmen, their blades slicing at him and making small cuts that he was trying desperately to avoid. They blocked the next blows about to be rained down on Irwin and shoved their opponents back. They kept Irwin safely between them while he caught his breath.

“You ready Irwin?” Malachai asked as he blocked another slash.

“Yeah, but I should touch you two to keep you grounded.” They moved closer to his and he placed a hand on each of their shoulders as he built up as much electricity in the air as he could. Both Malachai and Erminia could feel a slight tingle move over them that raised the hair on their arms and even a little on their heads. “Now, Irwin and give it all you got.” Irwin electrified the air, hitting everyone standing near them so they screamed in pain, their bodies spasming uncontrollably. He let go of Malachai and Erminia, collapsing to his hands and knees in exhaustion. He had never used so much energy at once. He could only watch as his companions attacked the stunned challengers.

To their delight they had enough silk for all three of them to arise winners. Erminia gave them each a tight hug “I’ve never fought with better men by my side’ She said. They all blew their whistles to summon their yellow dragon. He came quickly “we’ve won” Irwin said excitedly. The dragon smiled then they climbed on. Malachai had his arms tightly locked around Erminias waist as they flew to the kings castle. The yellow dragon landed in front of the gates just as gracefully as he had taken off. A servant greeted them “congratulations, follow me and I’ll take you to the king and queen” they followed the man inside and into the audience room. They stood their patiently until finally the king and queen walked in. The queen smiled brightly “again Erminia? How many times have you on now?’

“twelve times your majesty”

“so this is your thirteenth time then?”

“Yes mam” The king chuckled “You’re an impressive woman.” They gave each of them a bag of gold and a medal to wear around their necks. “you have all proven yourselves mighty fighters. I hope you enjoy your reward money and have many proud stories to tell your family and friends.” Erminia hugged the king and queen ‘thank you” they walked out “we get to keep the silk too?” Irwin asked “yep” Erminia responded. “cool, so we’re off to your kingdom now Malachai?”

“I’d prefer to get real rest at a hotel and then head off tomorrow’ Malachai answered then erminia agreed “yeah, lets get a room and rest before we go traveling”

“alright, your pick. I’ll just follow” They walked into town and went to a hotel Malachai remembered staying in when he was younger. Before they approached the desk Malachai asked nervously “are we getting a room together Erminia?”

“If you’d like to” Malachai smiled and irwin said “bow chika bow wow” Erminia just rolled her eyes and they bought their rooms. “meet us in the lobby around nine am tomorrow morning” Malacai said to irwin “alright, see you then” Erminia threw off her boots and dropped her bag the second they were inside the room. She then allowed herself to fall on the bed “My muscles acheso bad” she complained.

“We could take a bath if that’s okay with you. I don’t mind letting you go first if that makes you more comfortable.”

“It’s okay we can bathe together.”

She got slowly up, groaning in agony as her muscles protested. Malachai started the water and plugged the drain while Erminia pulled her clothes off. He tried not to stare when he turned around, but couldn’t help himself. He felt his face grow hot a pulled his gaze away. “Sorry, you’re just so beautiful.”

“It’s okay, we’re dating so seeing each other naked is inevitable.” He smiled at her light hearted words. “Come on, get undressed.”

He took a deep breath and pulled shakily at his dirt covered clothes. When he looked at her face, he was pleased to find she was just as effected as he was. Her face was cherry red and her breathing rapid. She moved closer and ran her hands over his chest. “If I wasn’t so tired and sore I’d have you in an instant.” She said softly.

He chuckled. “There’s always later.” He replied and tipped her head back. “We have to be good or we’ll never get up in the morning. I would hate to make Irwin wait for us and you know he’d come knocking when we didn’t show.”

“Damn, I guess we can wait.”

He switched off the water and stepped in the water, sitting down and getting in a comfortable position. She stepped in after and sat between his legs then leaned back against his chest. “Better?”

“Oh yes, instant relief. How come you’re not as sore as me?”

“My father’s training. He conditioned me to be tough both mentally and physically so it takes quite a bit for me to get sore enough to notice.” He kissed her cheek and rubbed her neck.

“Oh that feels amazing, thank you so much.”

“You are welcome my love.” They sat there until the water got cold then pulled the plug. Erminia switched the shower on and they quickly washed themselves, making sure to get all the dirt and blood off of their skin. They rinsed and got out then dried, both of them going and flopping down on the bed, relieved to be clean and able to truly relax. They got under the covers and Malachai pulled Erminia into his arms, giving her a soft kiss. “Goodnight beautiful.” He whispered.

“Goodnight.”

The next morning Erminia changed clothes then they went downstairs to meet Irwin. He obviously didn’t bring a change either just like Malachai. They checked out, picked up their horses from the ranch they left them at then set off for Malachais kingdom. Erminia grew nervous about meeting Malachais family even though she only heard kind things about them all aside from Snow. Snow didn’t scare her anyway. Erminia could handle her mouth and maintain self control. When they arrived they found Casimer and Rapunzel in the garden. “welcome back!” Rapunzel exclaimed and hugged her brother. Casimer hugged Malachai next then Rapunzel asked ‘who are these two?”

“The lovely lady is Erminia, she’s my girlfriend. She was on my team. The man here is Irwin. he is dieing to meet Zane.”

“Zane and Belle are home with the baby. Thier little one isn’t feeling well so I doubt Belle would bring him out but I can send a servant to fetch Zane”

“thank you” Irwin said nervously. Casimer smiled “don’t be so scared.” Rapunzel opened her arms “do you hug Erminia?”

“of course I do” She hugged her queen “it’s nice to meet you Rapunzel”

“Nice to meet you. Just tell me if my brother starts mistreating you” Erminia smiled ‘oh i can handle him”

“I like you” Bernadette said loudly as she approached “I’m Bernadette, close friend of the families and knight”

“Nice to meet you” Erminia answered as Casimer went to find someone to send to get Zane. Zane was reluctant to leave Belle and Gabriel since Gabriel was sick but he did anyway since Belle asked him to. They all talked and got to know eachother. Malachai mentioned as soon as he found it appropriate how he thought she should talk to the other king about having rules on killing people so people don’t join for the chance. Rapunzel thought that was a great idea and thanked her brother for bringing it up/. he then started explaining how someone tried to kill Erminia which visibly upset her even though Rapunzel and Ermania had only just met. “I will get on it first thing tomorrow. Im so sorry Erminia”

“it’s ok” as the days went on there Erminia fell in love with not only Malachai but with his family too. She decided to move there instead of having Malachai move to where she was. She had missed having a family and she felt like she belonged in Malachais.

~ The End ~

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