Phantom Host

Lynch: A Belief In Your Heart

”The hell do you think you
e saying, you insignificant stripling! ” roared Mark-al-din as he stomped over to them.

Karin was following him closely, looking harassed.

Mark-al-din was a nine-foot-tall giant of a man blessed with immense strength and vigor. His face was square and his skin was a darker shade of azure, unlike the lighter azure of the common navarian people.

He stood beside them. Tall. Radiating undiluted physical prowess. His green eyes did not glow like other maestros like Lynch or Fioz when they were spending gloom or burning bright. Yet Ash failed to lock eyes with him. There was such wildness in those big eyes of his. Those were the eyes of a famished creature, an alpha predator, ruler of the jungle, out at night, looking for food. Eyes that projected nothing but violence.

Ash swallowed. He took a step back.

Mark-al-din grinned.

”You dare accuse a hero of the dynasty of treason? ” he said.

”Ooh-la-la, ” Karin sneered from beside Mark-al-din. ”A smidgen of Ash sure messed up big time. ”

Ash glanced back and forth from Mark-al-din to Lynch.

”No- no- I- I would never! I- no- ”

”Calm down, Ash, ” Lynch ordered.

Then he rebuked, ”Stop scaring the kid, Mark. He has my permission to speak freely. ”

”Yes! Thats true! ” Ash said quickly. ”I- I was just curious about- you know- um- Lynch said that well be out of jobs soon. I was curious and I was just asking him about it! ”

”What! ” Mark said as he gave Lynch an incredulous look. ”That couldn be true! ”

”Possibly, ” Lynch said quietly.

Karin looked shocked.

”But maestro! ” she cried at Lynch. ”What about my training? ”

”Oh, shut up, Karin! ” Ash said. ”Who cares about your training? Youll never be as good as Lynch anyway. So why bother? ”

Karin glared at Ash. Her eyes glowed scarlet like burning ambers. Ash smirked in return.

Mark contemplated as he looked into Lynchs eyes.

”What are you thinking, old friend? ” he said.

Lynch lightly yanked his mask loose and let it rest upon his chest. The wind brushed against the well-defined features of his face, it was a face that had seen years and years of extreme warfare. The air was scented heavy with blood. He regretted taking off the mask.

He exhaled. ”Mark, what do you think the current population of the flat world is? ”

”Have you ever heard the term all brawn and no brains? ” Mark said. He was smiling. ”You
e looking at it. ”

Karin giggled. ”Its true. Pops has no brains. ”

”Ooh, I know! ” Ash exclaimed. ”About three million! ”

Lynch nodded. ”Good lad. And what do you think the population was when the movement against the tyrants started? ”

Mark frowned. ”Where are you going with this, Lynch? ”

”I know this too! ” Ash said. ”Nearly three hundred million! ”

Mark was glaring now. But Lynchs eyes glowed scarlet and showed determination.

Karin watched the two of them with concern, sensing the tension.

Mark sighed. ”Whats the meaning of this, Lynch? ”

Lynch said, ”Weve eradicated nearly ninety-nine percent of this worlds population in our struggle against the Last Tyrants and their loyalists. To bring about permanent peace, weve slayed the last of our enemies here in Amaryllis city. Mark, what do you do with your tools when you
e done freeing your garden from weeds? ”

”I put them away in the closet, ” Mark said slowly. ”But thats absurd. His highness would never disband the marchers. What if an emergency occurs and he needs us? ”

”For what? To fight whom? Who is left to rebel? ” Lynch asked keenly.

Mark looked away. Scanning the work of the lower rank marchers as they sorted the massacre around them and gathered intel if there was any of use.

”No one, ” Ash replied. ”So, it is true! We really are going to be disbanded! ”

That alarmed look returned on Karins face.

Mark faced Lynchs way. His voice was filled with devotion.

”Even if that happens, ” he said, ”Then well simply have to accept our fate. For it is our duty to serve our beloved savior. We took an oath. We crossed our hearts and pledged to die for him. If he deems that the death-dealing marchers are not necessary anymore, then so be it! It only means that weve succeeded. And no more death needs to be dealt. Here at last! Permanent peace! We will rejoice and embrace our new life over mugs of old acerola! ”

”I don care about damn acerola, ” Karin muttered.

Lynch left an inward sigh. What a thing to say. Peace. Embrace new life. What a thing to say indeed.

In a world this big, the present population was not a rain, but a sprinkle in a drought. Nothing but wandering phantoms in a great big desolation.

”But what about me? ” Ash said. He sounded anxious. ”My family depends on me. The emperor gave me lands to rule when I received my marcherhood and became a bright prentice. Am I going to lose everything when I lose my job? What about my elder sister? Her wedding might be called off if I lose my status! ”

”You don have to worry, Ash, ” Mark assured. ”Our gracious savior would never abandon his faithful subjects. And he would never take back the gifts hes bestowed upon you. ”

”I pray and hope, ” muttered Ash.

”Anyway, I almost forgot what I came here for, ” Mark said. ”Vala wants you, Lynch. Youve got to come with me. ”

”What does the marshal want with me? ” said Lynch.

”She ordered all the Major and Captain ranked marchers to gather in the market square. Well, aren you a Major? ”

”What do you think is going on? ” Ash asked curiously.

Ash was a second lieutenant, merely one rank higher than the common soldier marchers. Normally, his rank wouldn allow him to respond to a call for the marchers above the captains rank.

But he was someone who was born with the gift of burning strong bright. It granted him special regard in the band, just like Crodix who was now a hero felled in battle. In time, Ash would become a powerful bright maestro and a valuable asset for the empire.

”Interrogation, ” Lynch replied. ”I believe the marshal is interrogating the prisoners. ”

There was a hint of bitterness in his voice. The marchers were merciless. But Vala hated the high society. They were the remnants of the age of the tyrants, now known as the rebels, opposing the empire.

For them, her malice was bottomless.

”And I think shes going to try to establish a communication link with the emperors directorium, ” Lynch added.

”Ooh! ” Ash exclaimed. ”I just felt chills! Are we going to have an audience with the empire all the way out here? On the fringes of the world? ”

”Lets go and see! ” Mark barked and roared with laughter.

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