"Who's bright idea was this again?"

"Shut up, Broker."

"No, really Trayce. Who's idea was this?" Broker exclaimed.

"Shut up, Broker." Trayce replied.

"Man, if we survive this, I swear to you I am taking away your friend card. I mean it this time."

Trayce took a deep breath, listening to the sounds of his surrounding, finding solace in everything before looking up alongside his partner. Though everything around the two was dark, the demon's glowing green eyes pierced the black nothingness of the putrid sewer as it towered above the two warriors. Cracking his knuckles at his side, Trayce drew his hand to his face, watching as a long slender blade of ruby erupted from his wrist all the way to his elbow, the edge on the outside as the blade curved in down the length of his arm.

"Magica Terrae: Gemma Gladio," Trayce mouthed, looking down and back at his partner. "Blame this one on Lily."

"Can do," Broker replied, sweeping the tail of his coat back as the monster released a guttural roar.

The sides of the sewer shook from the force of the bellow but both men remained steady. This monster, known commonly as a "Green Eyed Monster" had to be slayed. Whether the most infamous tag team in the Black Roses organization wanted, well, that was another issue.

'In this world, there are some things that cannot be explained. Some of these things baffle the mind and some of these things endanger the body. When things become out of control, elite organizations known as guilds are set up to handle the problems in this age known as the Magitek era. However, the best there is, will cost ya'. And they aren't cheap. They are…


[HIT 1]: The Vampire, the Warrior and the Lady

The Accel Desert had always been known for its ridiculous drastic levels of heat and absence of human life. During its hottest times, the pristine white sands that covered much of the desert could reach temperatures reaching almost two hundred degrees in the shade making any chance at sustaining life almost impossible. However, for the mercenary organization known as the Black Roses, impossible was simply a part of their job description.

There were three of them in total. All bundled up in bandages, it was hard to distinguish any features but for those who knew of them, they would be all but unnoticed. Leading the way, with tufts of his platinum blonde hair flowing free from his wrappings was the squad leader, Alastor. Once a normal human being, after being bitten and turned into a creature of the night, Alastor terrorized the world as the Prince of Darkness before finally being defeated and asked to join the team as a measure of penance for his sins.

Trailing to his side, was a smaller person. Wrapped tight in her clothes, her head down, Lotus trudged forward at her own behest.

"Are we seriously out in the middle of the freaking desert?" she cried, raising her forearm to shield her eyes from the sand.

"Yes." Alastor stated.

Despite his outwardly beautiful appearance, Alastor was a brutal and as nasty as they came and he had a voice that matched. Deep and commanding, the senior officer of the Roses shot a look at Lotus that told her to keep moving her legs and not her mouth. Lotus gulped and complied.

As the youngest member of the team, Lotus was everyone's little sister. At only fifteen years old, she was still in the most fragile time of her young teenage life. Memento, her senior, was at the tail end of his. Pulling up the rear, Memento Mori, the eighteen year old combative whiz kid of the mercenary group scouted for any potential threats. A solid crimson red bang hung down into his face as he scoured the sands.

"How much further?" he asked.

"Another twenty or so kilometers. Lily's report said the caravans coming through the desert have been being attacked by a monster that is said to look like a mix between a lion and a scorpion," Alastor said, looking over his shoulder, "It was also reported to only come out during the heat of the day."

"No kidding!" Lotus chimed. "It's so hot out here that the sand is turning into glass!"

Alastor looked down upon the sands and watched as the individual granules slowly became shiny flecks of glass. Something wasn't right about the sand. Acknowledging the situation stopped and looked over his shoulder. "We will double back. The heat is intensifying and the sand storm is making it hard to move. We will head back to that oasis we spotted ten kilometers backs and wait out the storm."

Unlike the harsh desert, the Accel Oasis, was a literal paradise. Untouched by the whipping winds and scorching heat of the inner desert, the oasis was the perfect place to stop for a moments reprieve. Without the sand to tear the skin to shreds, the three man team of Alastor, Lotus and Mento made haste in getting out of their desert gear as soon as the oasis allowed them the chance. They all wore their normal clothing: Alastor, with his dark Victorian style vest and dress shirt and tie, Memento in his all black ensemble, the bright white star gleaming on the back in all of its glory. Lotus, however, was different.

Being in the formative years of her life, Lotus chose to wear the only thing a teenage girl would at a beach like area: a bathing suit top, shorts and had, at her side, boots to go alongside of her clothing. While modest and a far cry from anything that would cause any alarm, she still knew Trayce would have a conniption if he saw her wearing this.

"Don't say anything," she said sitting across from Memento, dangling her feet into the cool water of the oasis.

Memento smirked. "I won't have to. If Alastor tells Trayce, you won't need me to say anything."

"Alastor won't say anything. I'm covered up and that is all he cares about."

Memento couldn't help but laugh. Coming in together, he had known Lotus the longest out of anyone on the team and knew it wasn't so much that she was covered up, it was that she was covered up around Creed, Trayce's little brother. With her being fifteen and he sixteen, hormones would only become exacerbated by Lotus "growing in" to herself.

"Yeah, I guess you're right," Memento chuckled. "Besides, you don't have anything to cover up anyway."

Instantly, Lotus face flushed with color. "What! I do so have boobs! Take that back!"

Across the oasis, away from the bickering teenagers, Alastor looked out unto the white sands. Out in the distance it was clear to see where the sandstorm started and the tranquil weather of the oasis ended. Something about the desert just wasn't settling right with him. Why was the sand in the desert turning to glass? And why was the sandstorm split apart from the oasis? And why was it significantly hotter inside the sandstorm? He couldn't put his finger on it but he was aiming to figure it out.

Turning to check on the kids, a tremor shook beneath his feet. Looking back, Alastor saw nothing but the sand. Perhaps a figment of his imagination? Turning back, Alastor began to walk over to Memento and Lotus, watching as the two bickered. They are were best friends and it was easy to see the big brother little sister relationship they had. Just before he reach them though, a tiny sparkling light within the sand caught his eye. Stopping to take a look at it, he bent down and examined the twinkling.

"Glass?" he asked, looking around, realizing a trail from himself to the kids. Another tremor hit before he realized it.

Before Alastor could even do anything, out of the pristine blue water of the oasis, a beast lunged. Memento and Lotus barely had time to jump back as the beast landed, steam pouring off of its body, separating Alastor and the children.

"What the hell is that thing?" Lotus shouted.

"It's the Manticore! That is the thing that Lily said was attacking the caravans!" Memento replied. "Holy hell that thing is huge!"

And huge it was. The Manticore stood approximately three stories tall and was a towering mass of muscle. A humanoid lion composed the top part of its body, its wild orange mane playing sharp contrast to its glistening ivory fangs. The bottom half of its body was that of a death stalker scorpion, a large spiked ball tail accentuated by a stinger raised high into the air.

"I understand now," Alastor remarked. "It makes since. That thing has been the one causing the ground inside the sand storms to cauterize because of the acidity in the venom in its body. Because it's a scorpion, it's been burrowing under the ground, making using the vibrations of the travelers to follow them, making it too hot for them to continue on and then attack when they are most vulnerable. It must have been forcing us back here so it could take advantage of us relaxing!"

"So the thing is smart too?" Lotus cried as the beast attacked.

Memento was quick enough to shove Lotus away from himself as the Manticore's boulder like stinger came crashing down between them, splintering the rock earth beneath the sand. Retracting its stinger, the Manticore roared, the beastly lion like shout sending ripples of sound through the air. Memento and Lotus lay on both sides of the newly formed chasm, looking down into the earth. At the point of the impact, aside from the original damage, the ground looked as if it were cauterized, instantly turned to glass by the poison of the scorpion's tail.

"Too close," Memento remarked, climbing to his feet. "Lotus, stay away from its tail. If you're hit, you're about as dead as it gets."

Lotus nodded in understanding, climbing to her feet, turning her eyes to the beast who was preparing to attack again. On the other side of the monster, Alastor charged. Avoiding sentient like tail attacks from the scorpion half of the beast; the vampiric master of darkness weaved in and out of the deadly blows before lowering his shoulder and planting it firmly into one of the creature's back legs. The beast staggered forward, whipping around with its lion half and batted away the vampire prince, sending him tumbling backwards.

"DolorDeorum, Deorumdoloreadfecitnervissupracorpustuumelit.Emollire!" Lotus cried in the split second the beast's attention turned to Alastor before firing off a pink tinged blast of energy from her out stretched hand. The blast was swatted out of the air before it even could be within range of the beast. Raising its tail again, the Manticore struck, aiming at the young woman who intended to harm it. Jumping out of the way, Lotus slid to the side, her feet dinging into the hot sand as she fought for some form of grip. Memento, noticing a chance to attack, sprung to his feet and ran towards the beast, clutching his right arm.

As his feet churned, a emerald green energy began to envelop his form, slowly weaving in a serpentine fashion down his right arm. "BrachiumDraconis.."

With a burst of flaring energy, the sleeve of his pea coat erupted open, the shredded fabric becoming shrapnel in the wind as his formally normal right arm had become covered in crimson red scales, grown substantially larger and become clawed. Yanking his arm backwards, Memento released his clutch upon the appendage before whipping it forward, aiming at the Manticore.


A large crimson wave of energy shot forward from Memento's arm, taking the shape of a dragon in mid-air before smashing into the monster's face. The Manticore reeled in pain as it stumbled back…straight into the arms of a risen Alastor. A sinister smile crossed his beautiful features as he clutched just one leg of the monstrous Manticore's scorpion half.

"Finally…" he chuckled, gripping harder upon the appendage, "I can let loose! Tenebraequis:Tincidunt! 15%!"

The ground shook and sand began to swirl around Alastor and the beast as the vampire's dark energy shot high into the sky, circling the pair. Dark clouds slowly formed overhead as the sickening, caustic black energy of the vampire was released upon a small scale. Lotus and Memento both had to shield their eyes from the eruption of energy, looking away so as to not be pelted with the sand and sharp wind resulting from an unlocking of his power.

The Manticore thrashed about in Alastor's grip but it was no use. The vampire was far too strong of an opponent.

"You are not even capable of understanding the danger you are in, monster," Alastor stated within the miasma, "but I will teach you. I will instruct you about what true fear really is! ServileCortina!"

Enveloping the leg of the Manticore within the swelling miasma of his energy, Alastor took a deep breath before letting go, firing off a orb of energy, propelling the monster forward out of the vicious storm with the force of hydrogen bomb being detonated. The massive explosion ripped rock and sand alike from its resting place as the battle damaged monster hit the ground and slid. Sprinting out of the storm after it, Alastor rotated his shoulder, his beautiful platinum blond hair whipping in his own winds.

"Lesson one children, beasts such as this one were once mighty," Alastor shouted before colliding again with the beast, hammering it with a nailing blow that bounced it between Memento and Lotus. The two junior members of the team separated and readied themselves. Lotus placed her hands out in front of herself while Memento clutched his dragon arm. Sliding a halt, Alastor cracked his knuckles. "However, as time went on, their legends became just that, legends. Vampires however, we only continue to evolve. Are you ready for the kill?"

Lotus and Memento looked at one another and then to Alastor. They nodded. Alastor smiled a Cheshire cat smile. "Good. Transylvania formation! We shall make this monster wish it had never messed with the Roses!"

Suddenly, as if on cue, three bright lights began to shine forth from the bodies of the Black Roses members. The singular, namesake mark of the mercenaries all glowed with awe inspiring vigor on their places upon the individual's bodies: Alastor's atop his forehead, just above his right eye, Memento's upon the palm of his dragon like arm and Lotus on her back, just beneath the strap of her bathing suit. In unison, they all closed their eyes and began to chant.

"It sleeps within the forest…"

Bruised and battered, the Manticore began to rise, shoving its stinger into the ground to help prop itself up.

"Lying in wait for those that seek its beauty…"

Upon its front legs the beast trembled, the shock of the translated Cauldron Slave rattling its bones.

"Knowing of their ill intent…"

Rising to its full height, the monster bellowed, flexing its arms and chest taut. Rearing back, the great beast inhaled before leaning forward and launching a massive roar. The force of the audible attack shook the ground with great intensity and rended chunks of the earth from the ground, sending them flying. Memento and Alastor easily enough moved out of the way but they weren't they weren't the target to begin with. Just like the hunter it was, the Manticore was attacking the smallest and weakest link in their chain: Lotus.

Large, solid spikes of earth sped towards the tiny teenage warrior only to shatter upon impact. Her body glowed with great ferocity as she did not even open her eyes, instead taking a deep breath as the damage sunk within her frame, a trickle of blood running down from a cut on her cheek.

"As they approach its vines ensnare…"

Again the beast roared, wrenching up chunks of earth that blasted the small warrior. Yet, she stood firm, taking blow after blow from the punishing rocks. It was if she were possessed, convicted to stay in the face of the sonic and shrapnel assault. Every time she was hit, she grew brighter and brighter, the glow beginning to flicker with the beating of her heart.

"Wrapping them in the silence of the sleeping forest…"

Roar of after roar escaped the beast, its fervent attempt at destroying the "weakest" link in the chain before finally, angered by her stand, the Manticore marched towards her. Rearing its arm back, the monster looked to end it with a direct assault.

"Allowing their final image to be the beauty of the Black Rose."

Just as the last word escaped their mouths, the beast brought its arm full swing in a decapitating blow.

"Remaneo!" Lotus shouted, her eyes shooting open.

One second later, the beast was sent flying backwards as a wave of energy, in the shape of hundreds of spheres of light, collided with the Manticore, knocking it towards Alastor. Alastor had been awaiting the monster. Had together tightly, blood red lightning crackled within his palms causing the sky above to bellow with thunder. Just as the monster was about to make contact, Alastor placed his hands out in front of himself, catching the monster of in his palms. Ancient sigils of races long since forgotten spiraled about around his hands, lending him their evil energy before he let his power explode with a crackling death beam.

"Periculi Heli!"

The powerful beam of destruction ripped through whatever it touched, drilling a whole the bottom half of the great Manticore, throwing lava like acid into the air. The screech sound of bats wailed in the air as the manifestation of Alastor's power left the gaping hole, fluttering out in the shape of a colony of blood red bats. With no center to hold itself up, the Manticore crashed to the ground, outstretching its hands to stop from falling face first. However, it was too late.

Just as it stopped itself, Memento Mori, the combatives genius of the Black Roses was ready and waiting. More crimson red scales now adorned his skin, slowly climbing up and forming around his neck as his ears became pointed and his eyes went from a subtle brown-black to a golden yellow, his pupils slit vertically. Lowering his right arm to the ground, the dragon man gripped his bicep, clenching his teeth as he let his energy flow to his arm.

"BrachiumDraconis Diam!"

The powerful blast aimed at the ground shot Memento high into the air, taking him much above the forty-five feet (three stories) of height of the Manticore. Throwing his head back, he inhaled, his crimson red draconic energy flowing into his mouth before whipping his head forward for one mighty attack.


No words could describe the immeasurable power of Memento's power Dragon Flame as he unleashed every bit of his energy into a mighty shower of energy. The Manticore stood no chance. As soon as the flames made contact, flesh and bone were instantly vaporized. The ground itself was caught in the crossfire, becoming scorched earth just beneath the smoking remains of the Manticore. Descending to the ground, Memento slowly allowed his red scales to recede, watching as the last remnants of the Manticore burned away.

"You would think something that could turn glass to sand wouldn't burn so easily," Lotus remarked, walking over to meet Memento.

"I guess a dragon breath's fire a lot hotter than anything they can produce. Plus, Alastor did most of the work."

"Hey!" Lotus replied, elbowing her best friend. "I did damage too!"

"You both did fine." Alastor smiled as he walked upon his team. "It was a little sloppy but that just means we need more work. A level five mark should not be giving us this much trouble."

"Level Five! That's it?" Lotus couldn't believe it. The Manticore was monstrous. It was easily larger than most elephants and yet it was only a rank five on the hunt scale.

"Alright team," Alastor remarked, taking a look around the destroyed oasis before reaching into his pant pocket and removing an intricately decorated mask. Securing it upon his face, he grinned. "Let's go home."

Next Chapter

"Triple D"

[Glossary] *as translated from Latin

Magica Terrae: Gemma Gladio- translated as Earth Magic: Gem Sword

DolorDeorum, Deorumdoloreadfecitnervissupracorpustuumelit.Emollire!- translated as Gods of Pain, Gods of Agony, inflict thy body with illness! Enfeeble!

BrachiumDraconis Diam- translated as Dragon's Arm Wave

Tenebraequis:Tincidunt! 15%!"- translated as Darkness Seal: Release! 15%!

ServileCortina- translated as Cauldron Slave

Remaneo- translated as Bide

Periculi Heli- translated as Hell Shock

Draco Flamma- translated Dragon Flame

[A/N- Well hello again, friends, loved ones and critics alike. My name is Trayce D. King and in case you didn't know, I am the de-facto leader of this rag tag group of writers called The Garden of Black Roses. I started this group back in 2008 to 1) pay homage to the wonderful writing group I used to be a part of called aka Meteor Infinity and 2) gather like minded writers, new and old, together to form a supportive network that encourages growth through constructive criticism, mentoring and having fun writing because that what is really all about. Regarding that, this story is just that.

I have not written consistently in some years [and am rusty as hell so please forgive me on the first couple of chapters if they aren't mind blowing] and have slacked on my duties as a figurehead. I promised people stories and I will fulfill on that by delivering to you all: Mercenary Fiction! Mercenary Fiction is a piece that highlights groups of three in the Black Rose organization and gives everyone their time to shine. So, I pray that you like what you read and come back for more. Wait, wait, how do you get in on this you say? You want to be apart of this wonderful collective and have a super cool character that beats the snot out of monsters? By all means, join the Garden! PM me that you are interested and we would be more than happy to have you all as a part of our extended family.

So, until next time, which I pray will be soon, adios, adieu and all that jazz.

P.S. What did you guys think about the attack names? Should I keep putting them in Latin or should I just translate them?]