Part 1

A certain National High School, Cebu City 5th January 2013 - 10:12

Kyle de Guzman, the school boy slouching on his desk was really not asleep... no, he was not even tired to begin with. He just wanted to hide his face from the endless back-biting. This boy was facing one of the dilemmas of teenage life: a bad rumor... yes, a bad rumor has spread against this otherwise normal high school student.

About the rumors... well it's not really about how he looks... for the most part he was quite handsome 14 year old, standing 6'11'' tall and a face that says "I'm friendly, be friends with me". Nothing can be nick-picked from the outset. So what was the bad rumor that has been on the rampage...?

"Yo! Mr. Delinquent." On the other side of his desk was his childhood friend and at the moment the only male student who is talking to him as if nothing has happened. His name was Gerard Cadelina; a bespectacled boy who arrogantly calls himself a genius, well on that note Gerard did rank as 2nd over all the freshmen in their school, so calling himself a genius was no understatement.

"Stop calling me that..." Kyle could only retort this way, it was about 3 days ago, when that incident gave him that t.i.tle in their school. Sure like anybody he wanted to be famous, but... if no one approaches him it would be for nothing... his high school life was ending in that very instant.

"Hmm, you're too worried about that, rumors can only last 99 days. So..." Gerard was clearly trying to calculate in his head but...

"Don't even bother about the weeks and the hours... just thinking about it is sapping the life out of me."Kyle could only shiver at the thought that he has to spend that long for everything to go back to normal.

"It's not like there are any girls who would go for you in the first place... a rumor or two won't kill you..." Gerard jokingly rebukes, but this seems to have a negative effect, no it might have triggered something bad, as Kyle just now head b.u.t.ted his own desk to have been reminded by his otherwise empty love life.

*sigh

"We have time; do you wan to play D.O.T.A.?" Gerard was clearly trying to console his overly worried friend.

In tears, Kyle could only nod at the proposal.

Net games are fun because you don't have to worry about being known by your opponents, you can have an alias or a code name and no would bother with it. This was an ideal world for him. (Especially now that his name was pasted with the word - delinquent)

That is why when a seemingly similar world opens a path in front of him... he took the opportune and seized it.

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Fuente Osmeña Park, Cebu 25th December 2012 - 11:45

A month ago on the eve of December 25, 2012, Kyle was alone since his mother and father could not spend Christmas with him because they are working abroad. Feeling a little blue, he wanted to go to an arcade somewhere to free his mind from the loneliness. On his way, he saw something magnificent; The Fuente Osmeña Park was gleaming in white as it is reflected by the white petals of the Sampaguita flowers. Kyle was a resident near that park so he knew that the trees and other plants around Fuente Park were mostly 'non-flower' bearing so it should have been green, but for some reason tonight it was beaming white... the aroma of the Sampaguita stimulated his nose and urge him to come closer.


That was when he learned of the Kingdoms of the Midnight Congregation, a world made of illusion, no, a world in it self; the world that could release him from his boredom and a life geared only to being a mere existence.

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A certain internet café, Cebu 5th January 2013 - 12:00

"Hey there are a lot of students here too." Gerard could only sigh at the shear number of people in the internet café. "Sure there was a half-day cla.s.s but do they have to come in batches..."

"...lets just go home..." Kyle could not even find the courage to wait in queue...

*grab

Kyle almost lost his balance when someone intently grabs his sleeves from the side. Do they want to kill me or something... this line was smoking in Kyle's head, if he had no training in martial arts he really might have fallen over, and that would not be the end, with the crowd he might have been stepped over. He needed to confront who ever this person is and give him a thing or two... or so he thought but...

"... I never got to say thank you..." the person pulling his sleeves definitely was not trying to kill him (on second thought he wouldn't mind being killed now) She was a student wearing a uniform to one of the famous all girls high schools in the city. She had her elbow length hair flow naturally; the golden earrings matched her blue pupils and her lush white skin complemented her blue laced school uniform. And this G.o.ddess... no, this girl was now shyly talking to him. This must be what heaven feels like, that was what he thought and felt.

In the midst of confusion, Gerard was taking his eyes from the girl to Kyle... like the genius he proudly calls himself. He read the atmosphere almost immediately and... "Ah! I forgot that I still have some of my books left in school, got to go back home." And without a second to spare Gerard was gone.

This girl in front of Kyle was the reason he is savoring a bad rumor outbreak but now that he saw this girl full of appreciation, it simply did not matter. He was quite thankful for what happened that day.

"That Kyle... as expected from a genius's friend, his fast... I wonder when those two met..." Gerard was lost in thought as he went on his way home. While lost in thought he suddenly hit something in front of him...

"Ge~!"

Part 2

On the way to a certain school 3rd of January 2013 - 13:05

Kyle was late for the opening of ceremony because he had to see off her parents going back abroad (yeah his parent came on the 1st of January, yeahey). On his way to school however he saw some delinquents hara.s.sing a single girl..." is that a uniform of that famous all girls high school in Lahug?"

No one seems to be trying to stop them, or even trying to console the girl, self preservation was the priority of most of the onlookers, and Kyle saw it dangerous to jump on his gun...

"Don't worry we won't hurt you."

'Whoa... what an old line, tell that to any girl and they know your going to hurt them' Kyle pushes this thought to himself, as he continues to observe.

From Kyle's position he could not clearly see the look on the girls face but, he instinctive knew that she was scared.

Normally he would just go without a second look, if he were the up standing citizen; he could just call for some police officers nearby. But, for some reason he knew he would not fail to the likes of them.

"Can't you see, she does not want to go with the likes of you!?" [...so cool, I've always wanted to say something like this for quite sometime now.] He thought to himself as he inserted himself in between the girl and the delinquents.

The delinquents on the other hand, just stared at each other before they laughed at him.

"Are you trying to be a hero, boy" [another old movie line]

The skinny delinquent pushed his head near Kyle's [your close... too close]

"What?"

"Your breath stinks please move away from me" [that's it! That was way too cool.]

The skinny delinquent did inch further, but his face wasn't in the slightest happy in fact it was so distorted you wouldn't call that a face anymore.

Kyle tried his best to look cool but... that was before he saw it... the skinny delinquent removed his top and his chest bare.

"Geh!"

It was branded there the "The Immortal Phoenix: CROWNED SUN" the CREST of the "Great City of Warriors and Home to the Immortals" these delinquent are inhabitants from the kingdom of Uruk. Of the Kingdoms they are considered as the battle loving kingdom.

He was sure the girl saw him turn white, and was pretty sure the other delinquents noticed too. The skinny delinquent moved his eyes from his own chest to Kyle's... and there it was shining brightly branded on Kyle's chest is the "Rising Phoenix: CROWNED WINGS", CREST of the "Land of Garden and Kingdom of Beauty" a crest that marked him as an inhabitant of the kingdom of Babylonia, just like Uruk Babylonia who love strife, but Babylonia is more geared into cunning rather than pure brutes.

A blood l.u.s.t was formed between the two parties. Kyle was quite confident with his martial arts but he did not know the capabilities of his enemies as well. They might be RANKS from Uruk... at that moment he made a decision to make the first move, by using his speed Kyle launched his fist and instantly sent the guy on the far left unconscious. Now there were only two people left.

The two who could only react after their friend has been place to sleep, decided to counter by attacking Kyle on two sides. Noticing this, Kyle changes his stance from an offensive to a defensive one. It was for an instant but with the two who greatly varied in speed lost. Kyle evaded the skinny faster guy and counter attacked the slower guy without changing his position he used another counter, a kick which sent the skinny guy to the ground. (This earned him the t.i.tle of 'delinquent' in school for the next three days)

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Fuente Osmeña Park, Cebu 5th January 2013 - 12:45

Kyle together with the girl, who introduced herself as Eliza Flemings, a half-French exchange student who came to Cebu on her own because her parents were always on the go because of their business.

Kyle instantly found himself with this shy girl because he had similar experience, and because of that the two easily found themselves comfortable with the other. While at the Fuente Osmeña, Kyle unknowingly blurted things he shouldn't have.

"The Sampaguitas here are quite beautiful aren't they?"

"Hmm...?" Eliza did not know what he was saying; all she could see were green trees and bushes bearing no flowers. Did he meant it metaphorically... she wanted to know.

"Ahm, Kyle..."

"Kylllle!!!" Kyle did not see what happened in that next few minutes but he clearly knew who the person who crushed his neck from behind. She was one of his childhood friends, Kia Ching, a busty girl who is more interested on martial arts moves than lovey-dovey stuffs and girly dresses other girls her age would happily accept (She is also from the same dojo, where Kyle is currently learning martial arts).

"Rope... rope..."Kyle mimicked a wrestler touching the ropes so that he would be released from a hold.

"Huh u hu"

"Kyle...?" a worried Eliza was in front of him.

On the other end was a p.i.s.sed off childhood friend and on another side a beaten bespectacled best friend.

For what matters most Kyle gave the two a gist of the situation and Kia started to recommend Eliza the dojo so that she too would train so that she can protect herself. Kia even practiced with the already beaten up Gerard to show off her skills. While Kyle sighed off, Eliza's voice, no, more than her cute voice were the words that left her mouth surprised him more.

"Have you ever heard of the Kingdoms of the Midnight Congregation?"

Part 3

Shop 'Grimoire Atelier', Albion 8th January 2013 - 01:45

"So you decided to introduce her to the Kingdom of Babylonia and accidentally got into a secret dealing instead, which almost caused her, her life and yours." Gerard summarized the whole incident.

"Yeah... Thanks..." Kyle affirmed the summary and thanked Gerard for the warm chocolate drink.

Kia couldn't retort.... No she couldn't even think of Kyle's predicament now... as it all comes down, she has given the other kingdoms an excuse to start a war.

"Are you alright? You look even worse than I am." Kyle tried to console his childhood friend; it was a start and because of this simple concern, Kia managed a smile.

"But I never thought that you two are inhabitants from Jade..."

"Hmm...? The two looked at each other and laughed as Gerard proudly showed his chest to Kyle. In it branded the "Mystic and Mysterious Dragon: CROWNED MOON", CREST of the "The Land Born by Magic; Kingdom Built by its Great Swords".

Kyle could only open his mouth in amazement. He then tried to divert his gaze to Kia's chest... but he only saw her right fist while covering her chest with her left hand...

No way, it a surprise enough that his two friends are members of the Midnight Congregation, but he was quite amazed to know that the two were actually inhabitants of the kingdom hailed as the strongest, Albion.

"Then your rescue earlier was..."

...

Kyle had to remind Kia of her mishap... she started to look gloomy again as she lowers her head to the ground as if thinking of the "I should not have done this", "I should not have done that" amongst other things. But, she didn't like it when Eliza, was being treated like a thing.

"You did the right thing..." The voice came from the door

It was the voice of Gerard and Kia's border patrol team leader, Ace. He has gone back from his report to the castle of Albion.

"If you have not done it, you would have sullied the pride of the knights and I will have sent you to another team."

Ace C. Bloodforte, a young man who leads the border patrol against encroaching soldiers from other kingdoms. He seems young but he has some speck of white hair, his brown eyes shows a youthful glare but his words are that of an old man. But for Kia and Gerard, those did not matter he was their pride and their only leader.

Kia smiled as if the world has forgiven her... no as if she has forgiven herself. She sighed and slapped herself on the cheeks to energize her. (Girls really are amazing creatures)

Gerard and Kyle were happy because they have seen the Kia they knew has gone back to her normal self.

"It's going to be hectic from now on." Ace puts on a different tone and pushed the seriousness of this matter to the people inside that room. "From this moment onwards, attacks from both the kingdom of Uruk and the Jade Empire will be inevitable. We will be a.s.signed to protect the border overlaying with the Jade Empire; the JUUSANKA will be deployed to aid us."

"...Those girls." Gerard and Kia were gasping in shock; JUUSANK are knights who are directly commanded by the King of Albion will be their support, nothing could be more shocking for the two.

Kyle who was from another kingdom could not understand the jargons that the three knights were discussing, but he knew that because of what he had heard from that secret meeting last night, war was now on its way and the stage has move to the next phase.

Of course, Ace has not forgotten about the boy from Babylonia who was still in the same room and the circ.u.mstances that he and the girl brought. He gave the boy the gist of what is to happen to him.

"For the most part, the girl, Eliza right, will be safely taken care off here at Albion; no one will dare touch her here." Ace a.s.sured the boy named Kyle; he promised him an oath to give her utmost protection.

"But you, as an inhabitant of the Babylonia, you will be taken back to your kingdom."

"No..." it was the girl who Kyle brought with him, Eliza. She only knew a few things about the kingdoms but she knows bad people when she sees one. And those people on that meeting were one of them, if Kyle were to go back there...

Kia also showed her concern by moving to Kyle's back, while Gerard could only bite his thumb.

"You don't have to worry." Ace gave the four another a.s.suring smile. "Kyle here has given Albion 'quite valuable information' that Babylonia MUST not confirm."

Gerard who always considered himself a genius a.n.a.lysed the words behind what their team leader Ace spoke and...

"So if they do something to the one who gave the information then..."

"...they will have confirmed that the information is reliable and give Albion and the other Kingdoms a reason to interfere with their actions, war could even be momentarily stopped..." The three turned hopeful while Kyle, sighed an instant relief.

"But of course, that does not change the fact that your life is in danger..." In order to give an insurance Ace gave Kyle a piece of paper and a crest, the content inside the paper is only known to Ace and Kyle.

"You will be going back there, but you will not be alone..." Ace pointed on the other item he presented to Kyle... the crest.

Later Kyle will find out that the crest is a mark of protection form the most feared man in the Midnight Congregation, the one known only by his second name "The Emissary of Death".

Part 4

Shop 'Grimoire Atelier', Albion 9th January 2013 - 13:16

Ace gave off a tired sigh, for two whole days now he was forced to stay awake on patrol duties, with the declaration of open war from the kingdoms, battles over the city of Cebu was flowering seeds of anxiety. Because of that the Ace was up all night preparing for an a.s.sault from the Jade Kingdom, since his two subordinates, Kia and Gerard were still students he had ordered them to turn in early. He gave them the a.s.surance that the JUUSANKA, the kings personal knights (who for some reason were all beautiful ladies wearing maid uniforms) and him would be able to fend of any attack from the Jade Empire.

The presence of the JUUSANKA might have prompted the other side to think twice before going on an offensive. Ace was glad in a way, but he could not let his guard down just because he was with the strongest of knights. In the end, even if the enemies did not turn in, Ace had forced himself to stay awake.

*yawn

"Those girls are really something..." He was referring to the JUUSANKA who were not moving a single inch from were they were stationed waiting for the enemies in that cold wet night.

Ace was currently in his shop named 'Grimoire Atelier', a shop that creates almost anything, from shoes to dresses, and even accessories women would fancy... and in the Midnight Congregation, more specifically, Albion, his shop is most popular for creating BLANK SLATES with the potential to become HEIRLOOMs.

With the war looming Ace's shop has been busy, just that morning two of the SWORD houses together with their subordinates had visited his shop and place order for SLATES.

"Are you sure you are not tired?"

Ace gave a worried look at his newly hired a.s.sistant, who after helping him tend to the needs of the guests was now cleaning the beakers and tools inside the Atelier. Her name is Eliza Flemings, a girl who got involved with the affairs of the Midnight Congregation by coincidence. The meek girl just gave an enthusiastic smile.

"Since the King was kind enough to give me the CREST of Albion and its protection, I have to work for its worth." Eliza who has no where to go was bestowed a blessing directly by the king of Albion. During the ceremony, Ace was there as her guardian and the one person who recommended her a place to live at, in a s.p.a.ce above his atelier and work as his a.s.sistant.

"Both the king and the queen were kind; they reminded me of my father and mother..."

"You may not believe it, but, those two sitting at the throne of Albion are young enough to be your siblings... so calling them mother and father would be..."

It was about three seconds before Eliza could sink in Ace's words... "Eh!"

Of all the kingdoms, the ident.i.ty of the king of Albion is not known by the other kingdoms. Even among their own ranks, only the heirs of the 13 SWORD Houses knew his real ident.i.ty. He was shrouded by mystery, he seemed flamboyant but his manoeuvres with politics were excellent. But right now that same king has ordered to open their war council and move to defend their territory.

The night after Kia and Gerard rescued Kyle and Eliza from the Babylonia soldiers, Ace immediately informed the king personally on the situation, his kindness brought on the strategy to bestow the CREST of Albion to the girl and another crest to the boy who will most likely have the most trouble. His ballroom-mask gave him a cool form of elegance and mystery.

"I really thought he was old... I'm sorry..."

"Don't worry about it..."

"Are you going to have another battle tonight?" Eliza changed the subject to one that is more gruesome.

"Yes, are you scared?"

"I always thought that the Midnight Congregation was a place with good ideals." Eliza wanted to join the ranks of the Midnight Congregation because she was alone in a country she was not originally born. And she wanted to create a place for herself, even now she thinks that joining will serve her best, but war was something she could not in the slightest be fond of...

Indeed all the kingdoms have good ideals; you can even say that because they all think that their ideals are good that they want to fully realize it as the country's sole goal. But, by waging war the probability of letting the government get w whiff of the Midnight Congregation's existence would be high, the probability of another 'IUDICIUM Rebellion' would become inevitable... it was something Ace or the King of Albion could not bear to see happen. That was the reason why up until now they have allowed encroachments from the kingdom of Jade and continuously dismissed its act of aggression.

But now that it has been made official, the choices that are in their tables have become short. The only thing they could do is protect the things they want to protect.

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Border overlaying Albion and the Jade Empire 9th January 2013 - 22:16

The cool wind and the moist of the evening rain has lifted as the blue moon once again reigned the night. The Sampaguitas were also at full bloom; tonight was a mark of the first major wars between two kingdoms, the meeting of two armies. Albion that centers its Border Patrol Knight with Ace's leadership together with his only members Kia and Gerard and the king's personal knights, the JUUSANKA (numbering only 13) which sum up with a total of 16 people versus the Jade Empire's Frontline Advance Troops (F.A.T.) numbering a hundred.

"Are they underestimating us, sending only 16 people against our numbers!?" One of the proud soldiers of the Jade Empire voiced out.

"Don't let your guard down... or have you forgotten that 20 people sent on the last encroachment failed against only the three." The general of the Jade Empire's F.A.T. clearly did not underestimate the forces of Albion as he ordered the troops to prepare for battle.

"...Such a large force. Aren't, they overdoing it a little...?" Gerard could not hide his fear as he watched the sheer number of their opponents, Kia who is usually with high enthusiasm shared Gerard's fear.

"Expect the numbers to increase..." Although Ace did not want to increase the already high anxiety of his subordinates, he needed them to be ready for what's about to come... in this battle, apart from a few combating soldiers that would go in the frontline were a shear number of SUMMONERs, individuals who can call forth a number of SERVANTs to fight in their stead. With that the one hundred on their face was surely going to increase by another fold.

Kia and Gerard both swallowed some of their saliva as they heard the General of the Jade Empire order the attack.

"Gōngjí!"

9th of January 2013. Time 22:25 the campaign that would last for 6 days the 'BATTLE OF SRP' begins.






CHAPTER DISCUSSION