The sun was approaching high noon when they reached the village. All around, many people were bustling around. Everywhere they looked, stalls were set up with all sorts of merchandise. Men behind them would call out to anyone passing by to come over and buy something.
"Can you believe that one guy back there was asking me to buy dolls? Come on! I'm fourteen and wearing armor, why would I want dolls?"
They were pushing their way through the crowd of people. Kurama was cutting a path and Penny and Viola were following behind him single file. Kurama answered back to her without turning around.
"This is a pesants festival. Many people here are trying to earn some extra mon-"
Viola stopped dead, frozen in place. In front of her, Kurama and Penny were walking on oblivious that she was no longer following them. A weird feeling had washed over her. Something sinister was happening, she could feel it. She wanted to do something about it, for justice to be served, for evil to be punished.
She hesitated for a moment. Remembering what Mordokai told her, she listen intently. Now she could hear a voice inside her head, urging her to go. The voice was speaking in a strange language that she couldn't comprehend, but she could understand its meaning. And the voice sounded like her own, yet had an alien harmonic ring to it.
She couldn't resist it anymore, the feeling was too powerful. She turned directly right and ran through the crowd unobstructed. She knew where and when it was going to happen, and she only had seconds left to stop it. The feeling directed her to an alley between two buildings. At first, the alley was deserted, but then a man emerged from a side door. He was dressed in high quality garments and he was holding onto an assortment of merchandise. He closed the door with snap and began to make his way toward her.
Viola started to prepare herself, but stopped. This man wasn't the danger. He glanced at her with a little interest, but continued on towards the way she had come towards the main street. It was then that he passed by a pile of rubbish.
Then Viola sensed the moment had come. Without thinking, she stepped forward and yanked her sword out of its sheath. It one movement, she stepped behind the man and swung the sword. There was a loud clank of metal on metal, the ringing echoed around the alley. The trash had been shoved aside and the man who was hiding in them had tried to stab at the fancy dressed man. Now, his sword was locked with hers since she blocked the blow.
The fancy dressed man jumped and turned around. Upon seeing the two armed people behind him, he quickly turned around and ran away as fast as he could, leaving Viola alone with the mystery assailant.
"Grrr. You paladins always have to get in the way, don't you."
The man spoke to her with bitterness and venom in his voice. Before she could speak, he quickly turned and ran the opposite way down the alley, away from Viola.
Viola quickly chased after him.
She pursued him relentlessly, following him wherever he went through the village, never losing sight of him. The chase eventually led them out of the village and into the nearby forest. She stumbled a bit on the roots and leaves, but she still managed to give chase to him.
Suddenly, they emerged into a clearing of a grassy plain. The man finally stopped and turned around taking a fighting stance. In his right hand was the short sword he has tried to stab the fancy dressed man earlier. But in his other hand was a dagger with a jagged blade to it. Viola noticed that both blades had an orange colored liquid that coated them. She guessed it was poison.
She stopped and took her stance, sword before the mysterious man. He glared back at her with hatred etched on his face. He spoke to her with the same malicious voice he said to her earlier.
"I'm impressed. Most paladins can't keep up with me normally. I don't know how you managed to find me since I was so careful, but here you are none the less."
He lunged at her suddenly, swinging his short sword. She had barely an instant to react, using her blade to deflect his. But he was still incredibly fast and she didn't manage to deflect it completely. His blade slid down hers and cut a large scratch on the left hip of her armor. She hopped back quickly, as did he, and looked down at the scratch. He didn't managed to break through it completely, but the scratch was pretty deep. Orange liquid rested in it as well.
She looked back to him and took a more defensive stance. She got the feeling that this man had a lot more fighting experience than she did. The man however looked back at her puzzled.
"Odd. You don't seem surprised I could scratch your armor so easily. But maybe you paladins have finally realized the lengths I will go to overcome any obstacles. It took me a long time, but I managed to find something that would cut through your special armor."
Viola didn't know what he meant. Her armor got dented and scratched all the time when she was dueling with other paladins.
"What do you want?!"
"I want my pay, which you so conveniently stopped me from earning. It's going to be much harder to do the job I was paid to do now that he's on alert."
Her thoughts strayed back to the fancy dressed man.
"You mean killing him?!
"Duh! You should know all about that, paladin. I'm not a world famous assassin for nothing!"
He lunged at her again, but this time she was ready.
She took her sword in both hands and put her weight behind the sword to block the blow. Her thoughts went back to Rabbit's training sessions as she executed the block perfectly. The man was caught off guard at being stopped so suddenly. He tried to swing his dagger at her face, but she twisted her sword and forced him off balance and he stumbled to the ground at her feet. She took a step back, swung her sword out and over her head, and brought the sword down in a perfect swing toward her enemy.
The man couldn't dodge the blow. He wouldn't have been able to block it with his sword. So Viola was caught off guard completely when he instead grabbed her wrist instead and stopped her attack. He then twisted and kicked her hard in the stomach and shoved her off her feet, which she landed a couple yards away on her back, dazed. No one at the academy had ever used anything but their sword to fight. She didn't know how to fight someone in hand to hand combat.
She recovered quickly and and got back up again. The man was already up and watching her calculating. She charged at him this time and swung her sword at him. The man ducked under the swing and again grabbed her by the wrist. He then twisted her wrist in a way it wasn't suppose to go. Pain shot up through her arm and she was paralyzed from it. She couldn't move an inch with him holding her in this position. She saw as his eyes moved down the length of her sword and rested on the empty slot where the crystal was suppose to go. A grin played at his lips.
"Oh... I see. You're new at this aren't you. You haven't any real combat experience. I was wondering why you weren't using any obvious powers against me."
Viola stared into his eyes, scared. How did he know about the paladin's crystal? Who was he? Silently, she gritted her teeth. She couldn't move at all since he had her in this hold. His grin however, turned slowly into a frown.
"But this is worrying. How could a newby like you manage to track down me? Did I really make a mistake in my planning? Your danger sensing ability shouldn't have been able to register me with all the other people committing crimes in the festival."
He looked down at her puzzling over this thought.
"Oh well. I better finish this up. Maybe I can still execute my target before he can get into his uncle's protection."
He yanked on her arm, causing her to bend over onto her knees. She could hear him shift position as he placed the dagger over her neck. She was shaking uncontrollably in fear.
"Time to die, Paladin.
Just then, both of them heard a swishing noise as something was moving fast toward them. He pushed her away and rolled away as Penny leapt passed, her sword swinging right where his body was a second earlier. She skidded to a halt six feet away and turned around, glaring at the man with anger.
"Don't you dare touch her!"
The man looked at Penny coldly.
"That's right, I forgot. You paladin's always move in pairs. But just because you're a little girl, doesn't mean I'm going to spare you."
Suddenly, there was the sound of more movement behind him, he quickly turned and saw Kurama charging at him, swinging his sword.
The man managed to block Kurama's sword barely with both the short sword and dagger. He quickly tumbled away and stood up nearby a tree at the edge of the field. He gritted his teeth at Kurama's arrival and took up another fighting stance. He then looked down at his own blades and gasped. The liquid on both blades and frozen completely into a frost. He looked up at Kurama furiously.
"YOU STUPID IDIOT!! DO YOU KNOW HOW RARE THIS POISON WAS?!?! NOW IT"S COMPLETELY USELESS!!!"
He banged both his short sword and his dagger onto the tree and the orange frost broke off of them and fell to the ground.
"Damn you! Damn you all!"
Viola managed to get to her feet.
"Who are you?!"
The man froze in place, his anger forgotten. His eyes traced over all three of them.
"You mean you don't know?"
Kurama yelled back at the man.
"Quit it! Now tell us who you are!"
The man slowly sheathed his two weapons, a smile playing at his lips.
"Interesting. Very interesting. And here I thought you three were out here pursuing me under orders from your dear leader Mordokai."
He reached into a small pouch around his waist and pulled out several tiny black balls.
"But it certainly does seem that you only managed to find me by chance. Very interesting indeed."
He threw the balls down at his feet and a cloud of smoke appeared suddenly, spreading quickly. Viola, Kurama and Penny were coughing as the cloud spread, but it dispersed quickly. Looking up, they saw that the man had disappeared.
Kurama sheathed his sword and walked over to Viola.
"Are you alright?"
She didn't move for a few seconds before she nodded slowly.
"Good! Because what the heck were you thinking wandering off from us like that! Do you know how lucky you are?! Penny managed to see you disappearing into the woods after she jumped onto one of the buildings! That man was about to kill you!"
Viola was shaking slightly and her legs gave out. She slid down to the ground and sat wide eyed.
"I...I-I don't know wh-what happened... I felt a sudden feeling about that man... that man killing someone."
"So you're saying the paladin's call brought you to that monster?!"
"Oh Great! Now apparently your call makes you suicidal!"
Viola dropped her head, very close to tears. Kurama's fury died instantly.
"Uh... Well, come on. Let's get you back home."
He bent down and tried to help Viola to her feet. When she didn't move he instead picked her up. Penny went and grabbed her sword. The group turned and started making their way back to the fortress.