“Goodnight, my prince,” Rokusho said, gently smiling at his charge, whom he had wholeheartedly devoted his life to. Kabuto, the prince in question, gave him a slight smile in return.
“Don’t stay out too late on patrol. It’s been getting colder and colder these days,” he advised.
Rokusho nodded. “Will do,” he returned. Kabuto nodded and closed the door with a soft click. Rokusho knew all too well just how poorly he handled the cold, even with years of training. Turning, he snuffed out the last light beside the prince’s room and headed toward the exit.
Suddenly, a young Medalorian‒probably a soldier of low rank‒ran from around the corner and skidded to a halt in front of him. “Commander Rokusho, sir!” She gave a short bow, remembering her manners at the last second. “Unknown forces have been spotted on the eastern horizon!”
Rokusho’s demeanor stiffened. “Has the king been alerted, yet?” Any mirth from his prior exchange vanished, replaced with his usual seriousness. “We must alert him and prepare the royal family for protection if needed.”
“Not yet. I thought it best to inform you first, sir, since the scouts report that they are armed. I will report to the king right away.” With another bow, the soldier scurried off.
Rokusho turned to urgently wake his soldiers. They roused quickly, but they could not disguise the anxiety which spread wordlessly through their ranks. Rokusho hoped that it wouldn’t severely distract them from the threat at hand as he prepared his troops to march out and meet the unknown forces.
Advancing in the moonlight in a thin veil of mist, the encroaching platoon looked almost ethereal. Their polished ivory armor seemed to glow, and Rokusho could feel the tenseness amidst his soldiers only grew with each step. The opposing force bristled as soon as the Helms drew close, but a large Medalorian in front swung out their naginata-like weapon to stop them.
“State your business marching into Helm territory armed and unannounced!” Rokusho thundered. For once, he was thankful for his notoriety as the Lunar Knight, as he saw a few of the opposing troops exchange glances.
“I’ve heard the tales, but I didn’t think the legendary Lunar Knight would be this hostile to his own kind,” the leader said coolly.
The pale white armor with dark detailing finally struck him. Though these designs were different, more evolved, and more imposing, the motifs were still there. These were undeniably Scissors soldiers, forces from a kingdom that the Helms had decidedly quashed and absorbed over a decade ago.
Yet… something told Rokusho that these were no ordinary Scissors soldiers. They must have resurged in strength for a reason , he concluded. “I have no desire to fight if a fight is not necessary, but I would venture that you want to take back what you lost when the Scissors kingdom fell and anything else you can get your hands on. Is that right?”
The leader’s expression changed to a sneer. “There’s not enough of us left to take a whole kingdom. That’s what your beloved king did to us, to our entire people.” They raised their weapon, pointed gracefully at Rokusho’s chest. “I have no qualms with running you through if you try and stop us. Do you really feel nothing for your own people?”
At the rise of the weapon, Rokusho’s stance changed, and he stepped back. “My people are the Helm people, and I will not allow you to cause any harm here!” Without looking away, Rokusho ordered his troops, “Signal the castle for Code 2! Prepare for battle!”
At the shout, the Scissors soldiers jumped into a fighting formation with utmost fluidity. One of the Helm soldiers shot a signal flare into the sky. After a few tense seconds, the castle signaled back.
“They destroyed our way of life and killed almost everyone! Now, we are here to exact revenge on the one who ordered it!” the leader shouted and stepped into an offensive stance. While the Helms remained still, the rest of the Scissors soldiers began to run in a wide arc, their great speed turning them into moonlit beams. A cry of pain rang out as one of the outer Helm soldiers was stabbed through their chest with a gold-tinged blade.
Even with extensive training, the rest of the Helm soldiers had hardly any time to react before the battle began. They started firing, though they were already at a disadvantage in close combat. Rokusho rushed forward to break the arc and make his way to the leader. All pleasantries were over, and it was his time to shine. He felt adrenaline course through him at this new challenge: a remarkably adept enemy that could match his own speed and his own skill with the blade. He managed to fell a couple of soldiers, but he had to admit that they were unlike anything he had ever encountered.
Suddenly, the long blade of the naginata crashed against Rokusho’s. He winced as he saw its shimmering gold surface tarnished with black fluid. The leader’s and his eyes met, their icy stare of hatred sending an involuntary shiver down his spine. Then, the naginata flipped and swung upwards, attempting to catch Rokusho’s chin with the blade. He barely stepped out of the way in time. He then heard the rapid pattering of feet behind him and tried to turn around‒
A wave of pain through his side told him that he hadn’t been fast enough. Though nonfatal, the long slash near his midsection caused him to go dizzy for a moment. When he looked back up, expecting to see the blade pointed at his head, he was shocked to see that the leader was nowhere to be found.
In fact, all of the Scissors troops seemed to have vanished into thin air, as if with the mist. The clamor of feet he’d heard were Helm reinforcements arriving too late to the remainder of his forces. The leader of the reinforcements looked out at the well-trained group that had been overwhelmed in an immensely one-sided battle, wide-eyed and in awe.
With difficulty, Rokusho stood, clutching at his wound. “A warning.”