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"Dammit, I'm out!" Aiolous shouted in frustration at 2nd Life, a bar in Torusice, I laughed, sticking my tongue at him as I took my winnings.

"Buddy, you should of listened to Evaristus, you didn't stand a chance!" Aiolous crossed his arms, sulking.

"You so cheated." I grinnned, patting his shoulder.

"Heyyy man! I'll get you a drink, good game, good game." I pivoted on my bar stool, chugging down the last of my beer.

"Hey! Ismene! A drink for Aiolous please!" the bright blue eyed waitress popped out from under the counter with a mug.

"On it!" She quickly said, somewhat nervously as I grinned patiently, she pulled out a pint, handing it to me, shaking.

"Thank you." I grinned, blowing a kiss. She collapsed to the floor, not getting up until 10 seconds later.

I handed the mug to Aiolous "You were always one with the ladies eh Leon?" I leant back, cooly.

"I was born with it, thats me: The Loving Gambler!" I got up from the chair, glancing at the clock.

"Here, Ismene." I passed her a note of money. "Keep the change." She fainted again.

--

I walked off into the night, humming a tune before Akakios, King Ladringtons young messenger came to greet me.

"Good Evening Sgt. Lotto!" He cheerfully said with his usual, young and energetic voice.

"Hi Ack-ack, any news?" He pulled out a letter from his bag

"Indeed sir." I noticed the royal insignia and snatched it away from him instantly.

Attention to all of my elite:

Some may have heard of the recent victories by Kaze'aze in Ellia. She has just taken command over the Basilisks armies, and I fear no good shall come. I wish for us to rally as a stealth squadron and to spy on her activities.

May Torusice stick with you~ Laddy

I noticed the lollipop attached, and sighed. According to Athanasius, Ladrington's father was nothing like his son, a serious man who wanted his son to excel and be like him. In my eyes he was half right.

"Thanks Ack-Ack, see you later kiddo." I scruffled his hair and walked off, I could hear him gasping and fainting also.

--

"So when do we leave sir?" Dionsyios muttered, Athanasius agreeing.

"When I finish my gummy shoes Lieutenant." Ladrington threw 5 into his mouth, I shuddered. How could this guy eat so much sugar and yet have such good health.

"Right, finished." Ladrington screwed up the bag, Athanasius stood up in relief.

"Finally!" Ladrington looked confused suddenly.

"Now I just need to find a bin..." I held out a bin bag for him, he giggled childishly.

"Okay, roll call! PRESENNNT ARMS!" Captain Kreios called, we all stood at attention.

"Lieutenant Dionsyios, when we arrive you're taking the lead, Sergeant Lotto, you'll take to the trees and spot for us, Lance Corporal Euthymius, you shall stick with your majesty and help him hold our backs and Sergeant Athanasius, you'll be sticking to our right flank. I shall take the left." He shouted epically.

"Okay boys, make me proud! Saddle up, go!" We all ran to the boats in pairs. I was paired with Athanasius in a small rowing boat. It wasn't the battleship I was expecting. We began to row on our long journey to Ellia.

--

As we rowed, I felt like I needed to ask Athansius the question. Yet just before my mouth opened, he spoke before me.

"Any girls your into bud?" He glanced left and right as he said this, I giggled.

"You know me. If I actually tried to hold down one girl, all hell would break loose." I fiddle with my cards, shuffling them.

"Hm, really..." He sighed.

"Why? Are yooooooooou in love?" I asked cheekily and chidlishly, he growled.

"Hell no!" I stared into his eyes. He began to panic.

"...Yes..." I cheered, doing a small boogie, before continuing.

"So whos the lucky lady?" He blushed.

"When I was on a break at an inn, I found her, she looked beautiful, Amalthea was her name. With her brilliant hazel eyes, her long black locks..." He began to daze off into a lala land.

"Steady boy, steady! Don't try and command the love, let it control you." He snapped back into his senses, before Kreios called.

"Landing, 30 seconds! Hustle people, all in!" the sound of the boat docking sounded in the dark, we mounted off, held our weapons at the ready and moved out.

The darkness grew thicker and thicker as time went on. We had set up a small encampment behind a small hill, covering us from what lied ahead, Kaze'azes Caste. She had been taking Ellia slowly over the years.

"Get down, Rotten Ants coming, right flank." Dionsyios whispered, all of us splashing our faces in the mud. I took a risk and peeped over the hill, spotting Dark Anmon with a white haired man slung over his shoulder. Blood covered the mans face, and I soon noticed he had lost his eye. I spotted another, spikey haired man, but Kreios pulled me by the leg back down, slapping me over the head.

"They have someone with them." I whispered, as the great doors of the structure slammed shut. We all rose to our feet, Ladrington took off his hat, cleaning it

"We're gonna be here for a while elites, by a while I mean a few months, maybe even a year!"

Yeah... Right

We were there for SIX years. Every day felt the same, guard duty, sitting in the cold, lifeless area, spoiling for a fight from time to time. But soon enough, it came.

~~

"Cover, I hear something!" Athansius motioned, all of us sprinting behind the hill for cover, Euthymius eyes widened.

"I can hear her." he was right, we all looked up, seeing Gardosen, gate keeper of hell and Kaze'aze herself at the ledge of the top floor of her castle. Gardosen held the spiked hair man six years before, who was battered and beaten.

"He's dropping him! No!" I gasped, as he was thrown down. I could only watch as he flew down with a loud thud. I scrambled to my feet, but was pulled down.

"Wait! Wait! Wait for them to go." Ladrington hissed.

~~

"Anmon Search Squad, ten soldiers, 20 metres, no cover. Around landing sight..." Euthymius whispered. I pulled out a joker.

"On my flare." I said, before leaping up and swiping my arm, sending the joker high into the air. It reached above their heads before bursting into fireworks. As the Anmons were distracted, Athanasius, Dionsyios and Kreios charged forward, dropping the group quickly, Kreios grinning.

"I'm proud of you, men!" I ran towards the three, but the white haired man was gone. There was a trail of blood leading away, and I followed.

"Split and search!" Ladrington yelled, as we split up. I soon heard him shout:

"Someones here!" I perked up.

"What did you find sir?"

"The young man, he doesn't look to well" I facepalmed at this comment. They started talking, before the man fell unconscious. Ladrington walked off with him on his back.

"Sire? Do you need any help?" I asked, Athanasius.

"Get back to the boats... Now." He emotionlessly said.

~~

We went home after that. The bloke we found didn't have a name, or at least never told us, so Ladrington decided to name him Deimos. Despite all this, he rarely went out in public. I never spoke to him in person for the years to come. My life was back to its normal, boring self. Always winning poker, oogling girls, drinking some beer. That was until war came to us, which we were unprepared for.

At the time, I was back at 2nd Life after closing time. Talking to my old drinking buddy Aiolous, and the waitress Ismene:

"I'm telling you, the mash had 3 noses in it!" Aiolous joked, Ismene headdesking in laughter. He then motioned at his eyepatch.

"And thats how I lost this boy. Lets just say mash potato has an appetite for eyeball." I facepalmed with a grin.

"Thats definetly one for the books! God..." I sighed. Ismene got up with hers, Aiolous's and my mug. Getting more rum. We weren't drunk, but we were tipsy. Suddenly there was a light rumble, followed by soft screams.

"What was that?" I asked, getting up. Aiolous put his leg on the table, closing his eye.

"Kids, you know what they're like." He laughed, Ismene arrived with her drinks, another rumble came, somewhat stronger.

"Now that couldn't be kids. What the hell was that?" Aiolous heaved himself out of his chair and walked to the door, opening it slightly. He motioned us to come over, and we both peeked through.

"Dear lord." The town was on fire, people were screaming, dieing, running. We were underattack.

"Grab your equipment now!" Athansius yelled behind a building across the street. Akakios was cowering next to him, under his arm.

"We won't stand a chance!" I shouted, as a large flaming boulder crashed in the middle of the street. I could hear Ladrington giving out orders to the men who have formed up.

"Get over here Athansius!" Aiolous called, beckoning. Athansius nodded, and picked up Akakios. He charged, before being hit in the knee by an arrow. He tripped to the floor, and Akakios landed under him, unconscious. Aiolous charged out in an instant dragging the 2 back by the collar. They scrambled for the door as I slammed it shut after them.

"Wait... They've stopped." Ismene muttered as Athansius sat up against the wall, grunting.

"Clear! All Lancers, form up at the Northern Plaza!" I heard Ladrington shout.

"Those in need of medical support, go to the Southern Plaza!" He continued, before the sound of marching, horses and wood moving were heard.

"Okay, Aiolous, you get Athansius, I'll get Akakios." He nodded, wrapping his arm around Athansius shoulder and helping him hop.

"I'm fine, I'm fine." He mumbled as Ismene opened the door.

"Hey Ismene, grab the first aid kits will you? S Plaza's gonna need it." Aiolous growled in his normal rough voice. Ismene nodded, and went behind the counter. I held Akakios on my back, as I kicked open the door. I could see a large number of dead bodies, grieving relatives and wounded people limping to the south. All of a sudden, there was a flash, as a silver figure flew up high.

"Jebus! What in the hell is that? Get me some spotters!" I commanded, before the being made himself known.

"Gardosen, gate keeper of hell! Your lands belong to Lady Kaze'aze now Ladrington King!" A large flurry of fireballs flew in an arc towards us, as skeleton soldiers and anmons marched through the gates.

"Fall back to the Southern Plaza quicker!" Aiolous yelled in anger, pushing along a man who was limping away. A fireball suddenly crashed directly into the 2nd Life, which Ismene had yet to escape from.

"Ismene! NO!" I cried, as the 2nd Life crumbled downwards on her, crushing her.

"Leon! We have to go!" Aiolous grabbed my arm, limping Athansius in tow.

"Aiolo!- " I tried to object

"Leon! WE HAVE TO GO!" I angrily repeated, before a flurry of arrows hit me. I couldn't tell where, but I collapsed to the floor. I lay with my eyes struggling to stay open, seeing Akakios tumble off my back and land next to me. Aiolous said something I couldn't hear, but was beckoning too somone. He nodded and picked me up. I could see that he was asking Athansius to pick Akakios, now being able to walk a bit better. Suddenly Aiolous collapsed, and everything went black.

~~

I awoke to the sound of burning wood. I felt sore all over, as I noticed the body of Aiolous draped over me. I rolled him off and pushed my self up, before a sharp pain hit my right arm. It had been broken during the attack. Further reviewing of me showed I had 3 arrows lodged into my back, which luckily weren't deep enough to hit my spinal chord. With my left arm I crawled forward, the smell of burning flesh and drying blood in the air. I reached the ruins of the 2nd Life, seeing Ismene's First Aid Kit, which I reached for. As I held it up I noticed a charred feminine hand, which had once belong to her. I sighed.

"I'm so sorry..." I continue to crawl, before setting up next to a surviving tree. I took off my jacket and shirt, and pulled out a disinfectant spray, spraying it around the arrow wounds, before grabbing a knife from the kit, and carefully cutting around the arrows, dislodging them. I bandaged them, tieing the bow with my mouth. Next up was my broken arm, which I knew wasn't going to be pretty, for I wished to save as much of the kit as possible, incase I could find survivors. I picked up a splint from the tree, and stuck it in my mouth, before I grabbed hold tightly on my fore-arm, and took some deep breaths.

"Three... T-two... ... One." I strained as I pulled as hard as I could, growling, before a loud crack was heard.

"GRAAAAAGH!" I fell back onto the tree, gasping for air. Tears in my eyes as they rolled back. I shook my head, and got back to work. I ripped off my jackets sleeve, and cast it around my arm and neck, making a bow. I sat motionless, collecting my bearings.

"Hello!?" I called out, looking at now barely identifiable corpses of the town. Even the children had been murdered, which nearly caused me to vomit. An echoing voice erupted around me.

"Redrum, Redrum, Redrum..." I pulled out the knife from the kit again, and jumped upwards.

"Show yourself, are you one of The Ascendant Gods lackeys?" I demanded, as a figure suddenly phased through the ground and up infront of me, without changing the ground at all. He was dressed in a grey straitjacket, and gagged. He had uncontrollable dark brown hair, large silver glasses and an arm erupting from his back, which had blades attached to it in a wing like shape.

"Sad...So Sad..." He looked up, eyes closing.

"You are a host of sorrows... And soon, you will be one of them..." He pointed to the carcasses of my comrades, his gag twitching and wobbling

"I am your sorrow, I am Altelier... And like you I too am sad... Oh so very sad." My eyes widened, as the bodies of the dead began to rise again

"This realm is one of sadness, everything leads to death... Which soon enough, leads to sorrow..." His glasses had now begun twitching too.

"The living may not hear there calls. They are pleading, Leon Lotto... For your help." I stood my ground, as I strangely heard Danse Macabre playing

"How the hell do you know my name?" He ignored my question, and continued

"Their voices may fall upon deaf ears, but make no mistake... The dead, are NOT silent." His entire body was twitching insanely, as if he was having some sort of spasm. I threw my knife at his head, yet if floated right through him, he laughed.

"Now you must learn the sorrows of the lives that have ended." His right eye started bleeding, a line of blood trickling down his face, before his gag burst open, revealing an extremely large grin, and his glasses lense cracked. He flew into the air, laughing, as the corpses limped and crawled towards me. They grabbed for me, and piled a top me, I tried to wrestle with my one arm, but it was no use. The creatures began biting at my flesh, revealing the bone deep under the tissue. I was being torn apart, and I was helpless. I glanced upwards at Altelier, who still wore his grin.

"It is time for you to live..." He clicked, and I fell asleep. I widened my eyes a second later, to find myself against the tree, unharmed.

What had just happened?

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