Summary: Ashless Reprieve is a little on the psychotic side, but at least she knows what she wants in life; to become the King of Ganja's revered Diamond Knight! Unfortunately, during a peace campaigne in a neighboring country the King is eaten by demons. Damn, that sucks. The only survivor, it is her duty to send word to the King's widowed queen and soon-to-be-floundering empire. It is also up to her to gain revenge!

Help comes in many strange forms, namely two very conflicted individuals. Eden Serenade is a member of Conscis Holy, a clan who claim to be descendants of the One True Force(or OTF for short). But Eden has given up the path for some hazy, unknown reason. Why he agrees to help Ashe is a mystery, and the Knight prefers to keep him at arms length.

Ever Ransom is a bounty hunter who has given up the will to live, shattered by his permeable condition as an Empath. His psyche shredded, he walks a very fine line between sanity, madness, and that hazy grey area inbetween. And besides, how is he going to help at all when he falls over everytime Ashe throws a temper tantrum?

What will befall our morally confused, hapless heroes? Infantile humor, sword fights, and political intrigue goes way over their heads in...


The Mirror Appeal of Dysfunctional Heroics


Prelude:

A Really Rude Awakening

A young man sleeping in a tree falls out of it, and suddenly his destiny is revealed. Funny how these things work.

Though that is a somewhat unorthodox way to begin our narrative, this particular man has been lounging about in the same tree for over four hours. I, your all seeing and all knowing narrator, would know.

He lays cradled in it, arms and legs draped over tree limbs as if he were nestled in the hand of a giant. If the tree were a giant, it should crush him as punishment for doing absolutely nothing while a glorious morning phases by in the wood of the Gho. Oh, tangents. Apologies, gentle readers. Though I may be omniscient, I am not patient.

Anyway, the only indication that he is alive is a long, steady stream of snores. Sometimes the monotony is broken by a mumble or shout, but other than that our suspiciously relaxed hero has been resting peacefully all in the forest all morning. The forest itself is as ancient, they say, as the world. It is named for the majestic creatures that make it their home, attracted by the relative quiet, warm weather, and abundance of Maki roots-a staple of any Gho's diet. Many creatures, big and small, make their homes here. It is a revered, undisturbed part of Mecanora; one of very few left as the nation becomes more and more industrialized.

History lesson concluded, an incensed young woman comes trampling through the undergrowth as if to contrast the sleeping young lad. She too is mumbling, but more along the lines of hushed curses rather than fitful dream murmers. She stomps her feet and kicks out at saplings and the occaisional tree trunk.

This is the precise moment when Eden met Ashe.

And moreso, this is the day Eden fell out of his tree for the first and last time.


Chapter One:

Wherein Two People Meet and Instantly Dislike Each Other.

BOOM!

Ashless Reprieve had been happily content stampeding through the forest. In fact, her hazel eyes would have eventually lost that terrifying, inner rage that made them blaze so malevolently; if only she hadn't been interrupted midway through her tantrum. Felling a few more innocent saplings with her boot would have done wonders for her mood.

She groaned, feeling the weight of something awfully heavy on her chest. Blinking rabidly, Ashe registered that the creature whom had taken her so off gaurd was starting to move.

Eden Serenade yawned. Though he had fallen nearly ten lengths out of a tree, he wasn't the least bit traumatized. In fact, he seemed rather comfortable. He had landed on something warm and soft. And his nap, judging by the position of the sun, was only half-way completed. He tried to snuggle up against the warm presence and resume dreaming, but two sharp, talon like hands gripped the skin lying atop his shoulder blades and twisted. He yelped and tried to roll away.

The girl and boy sat on the ground in two very different positions as afternoon sunlight filtered through the thick foliage, dappling them in shadows. Ashe was poised in a crouch, ready for a fight. Eden, in contrast, was sprawled out where he had come to a stop in the warm grass, blinking two big blue eyes in surprise.

"That was rude," he murmured, trying to look behind him at what were sure to be very grave and deadly wounds.

Ashe stared the young man up and down, perplexed. Shouldn't he be attacking her instead of brushing the dirt from his clothes? Or perhaps this was some kind of trick?

"Is this some kind of trick?" Ashe hissed, choosing the blunt route. Her voice cracked slightly, and she cringed internally at her blatant display of unease. Where was the rage that had infused her only moments ago? She couldn't start to fall apart now...

Eden stopped trying to turn his head all the way around, deciding to peer at this rude creature instead. She wore the light red armor and sword of a Ganja Knight; probably a trainee, judging by her age. Her long blond hair was pulled back in a tight braid, also the staple of the Ganja Imperial Order. The Knight's face was round but thin, with small facial features. The focus of her looks however, were two very rich, amber colored eyes. The girl's lips curled contemptuously as she analyzed him up and down, in the same manner he seemed to be employing; blazon and without modesty.

She might be attractive if she weren't so angry, Eden thought. Though what caught and held his attention-a rare feat indeed- was the intense anger that radiated from those eyes. They held his own, daring him to make a move. There! A flicker of indecision. Her gaze had fluttered briefly, and he allowed himself a microscopic grin.

Picking grass from his own robes, Eden resumed his bored demeanor. "Ganja Knights don't usually stray away from their comrades." His voice was low, husky, and smooth. His eyelids were hooded as he regarded the blade of grass clenched between two fingers.

Ashe bit her lip, still on guard. Does he know? No, there was no way, she thought to herself. It only happened an hour ago, at least...

She stiffened. Ashe had heard that some Conscis Holy's could read minds, but this one seemed so...unprofessional. It was true that he wore the pale blue robes of a Conscis Acolyte. Oddly though, a few pieces of Ganja armor supplemented his attire. And who on this planet didn't know of the immense arrogance of the Conscis Holy's? No Acolyte would ever be caught dead wearing something from Ganja, especially if it concealed the elaborate symbol on the chest. Acolytes never missed the chance to boast about their precious Kai symbol, either by pointing excitedly at themselves or pushing out there chests. The young knight relaxed slightly.

"My name is Ashless Reprieve," she orated with her fullest voice, summoning air from the lowest part of her belly.

The young man didn't look up, but continued to braid a piece of grass between one gloved and one bare hand. "Aren't those of the Order supposed to pay homage to their lord before introducing themselves? I serve so and so, and my name is blah blah blah?"

Crap. So he wasn't as clueless as she had initially thought. "I'm not a part of the Order at this very moment." She admitted with restrained force, instead of getting angry, as was her first impulse.

"In between careers at the moment?"

"Sarcasm noted," she snorted. "And who might you be?"

He shrugged, undeterred by her rather rude manner of questioning. "Eden Serenade is what they call me."

The impudent boy-Eden-rose very slowly up onto his feet. He stretched languidly, like a lazy cat, and finished with one last fantastic yawn. He looked at Ashe and gave her a quirky smile. "See ya later, then."

Ashe stood staring as he sauntered off down the darkening path. Her fists loosened. She stopped clenching her jaw. Though her intense pride screamed out against her next move, she loosed the words from her mouth anyway.

"Wait!" she cried.

Eden kept walking. A bird swooped in his wake, disappearing into the trees.

"Stop!"

Eden's ears pricked. Desperate had clouded her words, causing him to turn around and raised an eyebrow. The tremor in her voice had piqued his attention much like a fishing hook snags a drowned old boot.

"My King is dead!" Ashe confided breathlessly, deciding to drop all pretenses as she shouted to him. "I know those of you from the Isle of Concis don't care about the affairs of Ganja or Mecanora, but this is hugely important! You must help me!

Eden took a few backward steps towards her, until they were almost touching. His eyes widened and his face took on a frightful intensity. He inhaled, causing Ashe to lean forward to receive his response.

"Opps on your part, I suppose. Letting your own King die? Tsk tsk."

He smiled impishly, despite the fact that she was very near tears now.

That is, until she smacked him in the head.

"I should kill you for that! I should skin you alive for speaking so irreverently about His Illustriousness!"

Eden rubbed the side of his head. "You mean, His Late Illustriousness, right?"

Thwack!

As he stood, rubbing both sides of his head and wincing, he recognized the quality in this strange, fiery girl that had lead to her candidacy as a Ganja Knight. She practically seethed loyalty through her pores. Not to mention her punch had quite a bit of force behind it.

"Alright, alright," He held up a hand to ward off any blows she might still send his way. "What do you want from me?"

She lowered her fists and tried to calm down. "I need to get to Thades. There I'll be able to tell the President of this country that the King of my county is d-de-"

"Delectable?'

She visibly struggled with the words.

"Deleterious?"

Her nostrils flared.

"Come on, am I getting warmer?"

"SHUT UP!" She drew her sword with a metallic rasp, and without thinking, swung it down on the source of her rage with the full force of her body.

Eden had no time to react. He saw the shining blade as it arced towards his body, making a sound as though it were cleaving the air in two.

All he had time to do was snap the forefinger and thumb of his gloved left hand.