Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Character Creation and Discussion (second reincarnation)
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Hotsprings Resort
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: The Gospel of Judas
Book Two: The Terror of Death
Chapter 2: Act 1
“What worth is loyalty? How far are you willing to go to prove your fealty, your devotion? What will you do when your meaning of existence, your
, betrays you?"
"What worth are you then?”
Once, this world was a paradise, a gem of blue and green upon the black sea of space. But, ah, see how Belka has fallen, now a brownish mass of hive cities, polluted seas and smog-filled skies. The world was a darker place now, a twisted land of the corrupt, the downtrodden, and the weak. Yet, in little places here and there, pockets of peace and beauty still clung tenuously to existence. The inhabitants of Belka had not been kind to their home, but still the planet survived. And amidst the hordes of the discontent and the wicked were souls still kind, working dutifully and tirelessly to live their lives as best they could.
The Sankt Kaiser, god and emperor, was both revered and cursed. Blame and praise was heaped upon the Belkan ruler, as people both suffered and prospered under the Kaiser’s rule. Yet these times were not of peace – war and conflict raged across the Belkan homeworld as much as it did in colonies and other Belkan territories. Disparities amongst the population was wide, the gap between the rich and the poor as wide as the seas. However ruined their lives are, unfortunate and needy, they still survived. Hard work and will to live carried generation after generation through hardship and stagnation. Even here, on this dank, dying world, love could bloom, and happiness, if for a fleeting moment, could be found.
This was no utopia, but people would make do.
The royal capital was the center of the world, around it a smattering of cities and towns of people hoping to be closer to their king. From there, the rest of the land seemed… uninviting. To the east were wild seas and unforgiving storms. The south was thick with life, dense forests blanketing much of the land, but in that same place were dangerous beasts and heartless men. Scorching deserts and lifeless wastes dominated the west, rich with resources but perilous for even the most prepared man.
And in the north, an unforgiving tundra. Few dared to even think of traversing this place, with barely surviving settlements few and far in between. If the cold did not kill you, the more apt beasts would. Yet it is often here that people would escape to, as it was believed that only madmen and the desperate would ever willingly travel through this eternal blizzard.
Like banshee howls, the wind screeched in his ears, whipping his tattered cloak all around him. The blustery snow nigh well blinded him, cutting his vision down to a few bare feet in front of him. Not that it mattered much, as the frozen wastes were all around him, hills of ice and snow in every direction. Here, in the north, Noland Reiniger struggled through the frozen plains.
North. He had to keep going north.
Away from his hunters, away from those that sought his blood. How long had he been running? It had been too long to count. Months, probably. But that was fine. Anywhere was fine. He could go anywhere, so long as it took him away.
This hill… why was it so hard to climb? Dozens he had already conquered, yet each new meters high snowdrift felt progressively steeper and harder to climb. And even though he eventually reached to top after a struggle, the down slope seemed even more daunting. Alas, it would be here that Noland fell; the knight’s knees failed him as he stumbled down a snow bank, causing him to roll bodily down the rest of the way. When at last he came to a stop, he found that even the smallest movement was impossible.
Dammit… his body… his body could no longer go on. Ice clung heavily to his tattered clothes, the fabric no longer holding back the chill. His feet were completely numb, as were his hands. It felt like a thousand razor blades sliced into any flesh exposed to the bitter cold, sapping his strength with every gust. How quickly his consciousness seemed to slip away in this unforgiving blizzard.
Yet, in the distance, he could make out a single dark shape slithering through the howling winds. Closer and closer it came, almost leisurely, having a distinctly humanoid shape. Was he hallucinating? Had the madness finally breached his mind? Or perhaps death was giving him one last respite before spiriting him away. Whatever it was, it had finally come close enough for Noland to make out some features. Long hair, tall, lithe and graceful. This had to be an illusion, for it seemed the figure was not even remotely affected by the storm.
“Still you live, Sir Knight? How it does make my heart soar to see you still amongst the living. Though in this hell, not even you may last much longer,” the figure spoke, standing over him at last.
What? No…! What was she doing here?!
“Do you know how hard it is to track you, Reiniger? All this time, you’ve eluded capture and fooled your hunters. I’ve always admired that tenacity and will.”
Noland could not form any words. Were his lips frozen? Or was he just not able to speak? Not only his lips, but his entire body felt paralyzed. Only his dimming vision and shaky hearing was left. Yet she stood there, glorious and completely unaffected by the storm. She, the Azure Witch, the Right Hand of the Sankt Kaiser.
“Selvaria… Bles…” Noland finally managed to wheeze out, his breath freezing immediately in the air.
“Ahh, how cruel your fall was,” as if acknowledging him, her tone and vernacular morphed, like a chimera, discarding the frank, coarse language of commoners for the sweet poison of the Nobility. “Your life, torn apart in an instant, and innocent blood spilt. That child really was cruel…”
What… what do you want?
“Poor, lost, lonely soul. Your quest will be a long one, and your soul will be tested. You will know fury, hatred, and bitterness. You will suffer defeat, fear, and loneliness. All this, you will witness. But…”
What? What the hell was she talking about?
“You are not alone, Knight Reiniger.”
A warm palm pressed against his snow-covered forehead, a strange but soothing heat spreading from his head downwards into the rest of his body.
“I will ensure that…”
Darkness came to claim what last of his consciousness remained, a bright light suddenly encompassing the entire figure of Selvaria. It would be the last thing he saw, even as the light revealed itself to be the headlamp of a haphazardly maintained snowtruck. A heavily clothed and portly figure hopped out of the vehicle, coming to a stop before the prone knight.
“Izzee still ‘live?” came a tinny voice on the truck’s external speakers.
“Oy, I caunt baleeve dis bloke still be breathin’! Mus’ be a strong one!” a puff of warmed air escaped the crude respirator mask, its eyes dimly glowing a baleful yellow.
“Eh, we’s low on quota this time. Toss ‘em innda cage wi’ da resta them, Biggs!” the figure’s partner spat. “And ‘urry up! It’s colder thanna hag’s tit out there!”
Who was right?
Was he right?
What was right?
Isn’t that right?
The question worked to snap Noland back to attention, turning his head towards his companion. “I’m sorry, my liege, what was that?”
Alone in this long hallway, he and a much shorter person walked side-by-side. Dim lights upon the walls illuminated their path, casting dark shadows along their path. The time was late, and the time to rest was upon them. But first, a king must be escorted to his room, and his eccentricities---entertained. He was, perhaps, the only king whoever enjoyed speaking the ordinary tongue of the peasantry, though an indulgence he made sure only to partake in amongst close friends.
“We had asked if there was anything else that would require Our attention in the morning. Really, Reiniger, what is the matter today? You’ve been out of it for a while now.”
“I’m afraid I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while. Current events have had me rather stressed.”
“Hmm, you and Us both,” the shorter one nodded. “However Our question still remains. Are there any pressing matters to attend to in the morning?”
“No, sire. None that the Chancellor hasn’t gone over already. However the thirteenth Knight of the Round must still be determined.”
“We’ll worry about that in the morning, then,” he gave another nod.
“As you wish, my Kaiser.”
The hall soon gave way to an elaborate set of doors, a pair of heavily armored guards standing at attention nearby. At their approach, the guards raised their arms across their chest salute, a gesture returned by Noland and acknowledged by the Kaiser. Here was the private quarters of the Saint King, a lavishly decorated room with a grand velvet and silk covered bed and exquisitely crafted wood. Gold and azure furniture dotted the dim room, the lights brightening only when the two of them entered. It was not until the door closed in grand fashion of deep, resounding tremor that a sudden change in the Belkan Sankt Kaiser was witnessed.
“Whew! Finally, a moment of respite!” the Kaiser huffed, unceremoniously collapsing on to the giant bed. In a shimmer of light, the Belkan king’s ceremonial armor dissipated to reveal the cobalt blue dress underneath. “He” rolled about on the luxurious surface, rumpling fabric and mussing up “his” hair, arms and legs outstretched like a cat lazing about. Finally sitting back up, the Emperor of Belka shrugged off the topmost layer of the dress, revealing a subtle, but most definitely feminine figure.
“My lady, that isn’t very becoming of one of your position…”
“Come now, Noland. We are in private quarters now. Have you forgotten your promise already?” she gave Noland a look as she loosened the braid in her hair, letting her blond locks fall around her shoulders.
The knight turned away, unable to keep his eyes on his lord. Old lessons in etiquette made him automatically fall back on the timeless defense of formality, “Err… no, but I am quite aware of my status as a male, and you female…”
“Oh, fine! I’ll just be a minute then…” she huffed, the rustle of clothing the only sounds the large room, until finally, “Alright, I’m decent…”
With a quiet sigh of relief, Noland turned around. With the Sankt Kaiser lounging upon her bed, the knight took a seat nearby, inciting a small smile from the young woman.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been able to talk like this. Tell me, how is your family?”
The mention of family was enough to bring a similar smile to Noland’s face, “They are well, thank you. Mother and father continue to experience success with their business, and my sisters are doing well in class. Remilia is soon to graduate, and Cecilia has become quite popular with her classmates.”
“Ahh, little Remilia is far too adorable, and it is good to hear Cecilia is getting along with her classmates!” a low giggle came from the Kaiser, as she slipped back into the courtly manner as well unconsciously. When another speaks as such, it is only natural to acquiesce even at the risk of overcompensation. “Ah! That reminds me: is she to have an extended break soon?”
Noland looked thoughtful for a moment, racking his brain for dates. “I believe she is to have a break in the next two weeks. Shall I invite her to the capital?”
“There’s no need – I know of ways of visiting without your assistance,” she smiled evilly, promising great frustration in the future.
That incited a low groan from the Belkan knight. “Oh no, not that again…”
They talked like this, casual and frank, into the night. Now, they were not knight and emperor, but friends meeting again after a long absence. Alas, like all good moments, an end must come.
“The bell has rung; time to rest, my lady,” Noland murmured, doing his best to hide a yawn.
A sigh, “I wish we could be like this a little longer. Only with you, only like this, can we speak like this. I’ve no other confidants like you, not even the Chancellor or…” she trailed off, unable to speak more of the matter. Recognizing the sensitivity of the topic, Noland was quick to interject.
“I’ll not die the morrow or the next, my Kaiser. Have faith in my loyalty; so long as there is breath in my lungs and strength in my body, I shall always return to you.
The Sankt Kaiser said nothing for a moment, only digging deeper into the folds of her bedsheets. Then, quietly, barely audible to the knight despite his proximity, she spoke. “Thank you, Noland. You… I… … good night.”
“Rest well, my lady.”
Noland’s exit was as quiet as a whisper, though the warmth of the room lingered still.
"She was cold and lonely that night... a pity she cannot give voice to such feelings of weakness."
It was warm. No, it was bloody hot. The throne room felt oppressively scorching this day, the fault of horrid, unpredictable weather and his heavy uniform. Despite that, Noland Reiniger did his best to hid his discomfort before the seat of the Sankt Kaiser.
“You summoned me, my liege?”
“Knight Reiniger, We are alone here. What We discuss now must not be revealed to anyone else, not even your fellow Knights of the Round. Do you understand?”
What could be so important…?
“I do, Kaiser.”
“Before We continue, We must ask you: what of your life? How far are you willing to go in my service Knight, even if death is almost certain? The possibility of failure is incredible, and the chance of victory is miniscule. Can you survive, Reiniger?”
Noland blinked, confused at the question. Was the Kaiser doubting his loyalty, his ability? It was almost insulting, had it come from anyone else.
“My oath is sacred. My life, yours. Death will not stop me.”
“I see…” the Kaiser murmured, so faintly that Noland thought it an illusion.
His liege would never do such a gross breach of propriety in such a public space as the Throne Room, where the walls are filled with many eyes and ears! And so occupied was his thoughts that the knight never his liege lord, bringing a hand to rest upon the hilt of his armed device. Slowly, the blade was drawn, its platina luster gleaming in the light. The holy sword of the Sankt Kaiser, a sacred treasure and a symbol of a nation; how beautiful it was… and deadly. “Clench your teeth.”
Faster than he could see, the Holy Emperor of Belka had a spell charged and ready, the glowing blade of his sword cutting a cross-shape in the muggy air. In an instant, the roaring flames of the Holocaust came bearing down upon Noland with unstoppable fury. He had not even a chance to defend himself. No, even if he could, shock and surprise froze his limbs and mind, bewilderment jumbling his thoughts. All he could witness was the blinding fires of the Sankt Kaiser’s perfect Holocaust as it came crashing upon him. Searing his flesh and scorching his clothes, the very air he sought to breath was lit ablaze. The might of a titan crushed his chest, his head and his torso, threatening to rip his limbs away as Noland was blown off his feet and sent sliding across the once flawless floor.
The world… it spun all around him, hot as the sun. By luck or by reflex, a Protection spell had managed to spring up around him just as the Holocaust struck. Yet, it did little more than soften the blow, like a sheet of cotton before a warhammer’s strike. Dimly, Noland registered a pair of strong hands grabbing him by the arms and hauling him up. Despite this confusion, however, the Kaiser’s voice rang clear in his mind.
“The Knight of Two has attempted to assassinate the Throne. For this blatant act of treason, We hereby strip you of title and position! Nevermore will you know peace, Noland Reiniger, for the lot of traitors is only damnation.”
Wait. What? WHAT?
“What—what are you talking about?! What’s going on—UGH!”
An ironclad backhand rattled his brain, quieting his tongue for now.
“Be silent, filth! You no longer have the right to speak to me!” the Kaiser hissed acidly and turned away, unable to gaze upon the fallen form of the Knight of Two any longer. “Take him away. He is to be executed at the third bell the morrow.”
The shock had finally faded away, the reality of the moment settling in. Despair and confusion lost their hold on the knight’s tongue, soon replaced by boiling rage. Fury sprang forth anew as Noland was dragged away, giving vigor and fire to his voice at last.
“What madness has taken your mind now?! To what goal do you hope to find by doing this, Kaiser?! First you throw away Kaon like she was some unwanted dog, and now you brand me a traitor when I bear no crime?! What of our bonds, Holy Kaiser?! What of the trust we were supposed to have?! Answer me!”
Struggle as he did, he could not gain any leverage against his captors. All he could do was stare at the Kaiser’s back.
“Lord Kaiser! Holy Emperor! Do not ignore me! Do not forsake me! Kaiser! KAISER!”
The doors closed with grim finality, heavy and loud, before he could receive an answer. Abruptly, the hands that held his arms yanked him upwards.
“On your feet, trash! We’ll not waste the energy dragging your pathetic hide through these halls!”
Silently he obliged, awkwardly placing one foot in front of the other, as if in a daze. Barely did he realize that he had stumbled all the way to the prison halls, the final resting place for thousands, but for some, the first step into hell.
“Surrender your device immediately, traitor!” a large, burly man screamed at him.
Do not scream at me.
“Are you hard of hearing, wretch?!” a meaty hand slapped him across the face. “Obey my orders!”
Do not touch me. You have no right.
“You worthless dog! I should kill you here myself!” spittle splattered on Noland’s face, just as a great pair of hands wrapped around his neck and lifted him a foot off the ground.
. Let Me Go.
GET OFF ME.
“Get your filthy hands…” Noland growled, his wits finally at its end. “Off of me!”
The bonds that held Noland’s hands (he had bonds?) shattered as the fallen knight roared his defiance, his fists coming together to crush the arms that dare held him up. He dropped to the floor as the giant guard screamed and recoiled, Noland reaching up and grabbing him by the lapels. Once. Twice. Thrice. Noland’s forehead smashed into the guard’s face three times, each blow a great meaty crunch. He spun around, hefting the obese guard as if he were a mere sack of flour, and threw the pig into a crowd of approaching guards.
Alas, the prison guards faced a knight scorned and furious, whose strength was supplemented with rage and an undying will to survive. A thunderclap announced the arrival of the knight’s chosen weapon, a spear masterfully crafted and artfully wielded. These sad guards, with nothing more than swords and rifles, could not hope to stand against a berserk Knight.
Their last moments were of a sorrowful, rage-filled roar:
“AND TEAR THEIR SOULS ASUNDER!
Noland Reiniger escaped. His actions would not be so easily forgotten.
She cried a thousand and one tears that day... Such a pitiful existence.
“It seems our dear Knight of Two has broken free of his bonds. Unsurprising…” a tall man in a white physician’s coat murmured, one hand idly petting a young woman similarly dressed. The Knight of Eight, actually two people, did not seem all that worried.
“His flight only proves his guilt! Had he been innocent, he would have stayed to face his charges,” the Knight of Ten, a blond man in blue and indigo robes. Unlike the former, this knight blazed with anger, his vitriolic words mirroring his stance.
“What charges? He doesn’t even have the opportunity to defend himself! The accusation of treason… that is immediate execution!” A young woman in white knight’s garb cut in, her wide eyes betraying her confusion.
“Sympathizing with the enemy, Knight of Seven?”
“No! I’ve nothing to do with this. It’s just… I can’t believe that the Knight of Two…” she trailed off.
“Believe it or not, it’s the truth,” the gruff voice of the Knight of One at last spoke up, his expression decidedly neutral. Rather, he looked to the room’s entrance, immediately jumping into a bowed salute. “Behold, our king arrives.”
The other knights followed suit in an instant, dropping to their knees in respect. Before them stood the Sankt Kaiser, resplendent in full armor and sword by his side. Heterochromatic eyes gazed over the collected knights, twelve in all; the Knights of the Round, the Kaiser’s elite. Without preamble, the Kaiser addressed them.
“We are shocked and supremely disappointed. To discover that one of Our precious knights turn traitor during these trying times, We cannot even begin to understand what his motives were. However surprised We are, the facts cannot be changed: Noland Reiniger is a traitor to the throne and to the country, and as such, he must be brought to justice by any means!” The Saint Kaiser thrust a hand out dramatically, red and green eyes ablaze with anger. “Capture him at all costs! Bring this traitor to Us and to justice!”
The Knights saluted and called out in harmony, “
Yes, Your Majesty!
"The selfish and the selfless, pure and corrupt. What strange bedfellows you had..."
“You cannot run anymore, traitor! By the order of his majesty the Holy Kaiser, you are under arrest for highest treason against Our Lord!”
What misfortune, to be cornered at this dead end so quickly. Behind Noland stood ready a battalion of mages and infantry, lead by two Knights of the Round. Before him was a fall several stories high, jagged rocks below, and clear sight for some distance away. A brilliant idea it was to come here, oh yes. Right into this damn ambush…
“I had expected you, Knight of Ten, Algus Sadalfas,” Noland spoke without turning around, his eyes glued to the faraway horizon.
“You’ve no right to speak my name, trash!” Sadalfas does not even notice his poor slip into common in his righteous rage. Heh, what a hypocrite; he was always quick to correct the impropriety of others but never noticing his own failings. “Surrender immediately and I may show mercy on your pathetic soul!”
“That’s real promising, Sadalfas. You, showing me mercy? Don’t joke around – you are absolutely relishing this, aren’t you? This is an opportunity of a lifetime, isn’t it? But that’s rather pathetic that one of noble blood would hold such a grudge against a commoner such as me. Am I not below you? So why so serious?” Noland slowly turned around, giving the gathered soldiers a mocking grin as he did so.
“Wretched filth! How dare you speak to me like that!” the noble glared with all his might at the fallen knight, gripping his sword tighter. Oh how he wished he could just cut him down like the peasant mongrel that Reiniger was and be rid of this garbage forever! It was so easy! He was right there!
“Enough, Algus. You fail at diplomacy! It’s my turn, now!” a woman’s voice cut in, young and girlish in quality. From behind a line of infantry riflemen stepped out a short girl, almost child-like, but enrobed in the honorable cloth of the Knights of the Round.
The Knight of Ten crossed his arms childishly in a huff, turning his head away. “Hmph. Very well then, Knight of Six! See if you can get this fool to see reason for once.”
Noland only raised an eyebrow at the newcomer. She was not expected, but her presence was not surprising. How strange it was to see her in this state, without her Seibzehn knightmare. “You as well, Maria? Did Jack put you up to this?”
The young woman shook her head, her curls swishing with the movement. “I’m only here to take you back, Knight of Two. I care not what events brought us to this, but I have been ordered to bring you back to the Throne. Please, Noland, come with me peacefully.”
“And back to my death? The executioner’s axe awaits me at the capital, not justice! Already the people spit upon my name. There is no hope for me!”
“You cannot believe that already! There still has to be a chance for you…”
“Can you really promise me that? The Kaiser has already ordered my execution, an irrevocable command. Can you, Maria, really grant me the chance to defend myself and clear my name?”
The girl’s silence was all he needed.
“I will not go with you, Maria. Not while this noose tightens still around my neck. I have no future, no hope with you. I’ll not find my death yet.”
“Are you daft as well as stupid?!” Algus sputtered, unable to see just why this fool kept resisting. “You’ve no chance beyond here, Reiniger! This is your final opportunity! Are you a coward as well?!”
“…I’d rather live a fugitive, than die in false infamy,” Noland muttered, his eyes downcast. He then looked behind him, out into the dying lands. “At least then, I have a chance to clear my name.”
“You would refuse my mercy?” Algus scoffed and raised an arm as a signal. “Very well then! All units, ready arms!”
Before a single weapon could be brought to bear, the former Knight of Two had already made his move.
"Poor lonely soul, where do you have to go? Upon this road of broken dreams, I shall walk as your shadow..."
The earth below him rumbled, jumped and shook. No… It was not the earth. Whatever the hell he was on was shaking. It rattled his bones and shook his drowsy mind, serving only to further ruin what tenuous grasp he had on reality.
Why the hell was it so noisy?
It did not help that his head felt like a blacksmith’s anvil, nor did the fact that his body felt like it was made of lead and sand. A heavy fog seemed to permeate his mind, dulling his senses and blurring his vision. Still, as seconds ticked by, he could feel his sanity returning.
Where the hell was he? A cage? A prison of rusty, stained metal. So he was captured… how pathetic. With the cage covered by a large blanket, he could not immediately ascertain his location. All he knew that it was cold.
A rustle behind him caused him to whirl around. Another was here with him? Was it a beast? A monster? No, it was too small. Covered in a ratty blanket, a tuft of grimy red hair peeked out from the top.
A boy? Perhaps another like him, trapped in this cage for who knows for how long. The knight’s movements must have awakened the child, as a pair of icy blue eyes came to bear upon him. Noland was almost taken back by the emotion he could read from the glare the child gave him.
Those eyes… so full of rage. A familiar, almost kindred, sight.
Licking his dried lips, Noland willed his voice to return, a tired and dry rasp that was a far cry from his normal tone. “Where… where are we?”
No answer. Just that glare.
“What’s your name?” he tried something else.
Still no answer.
Grunting in annoyance , Noland settled in a corner opposite of the child, drawing his ragged clothing closer to him in an attempt to stay warm. Bothersome, mute brat! As if glaring at him would solve things. No, there was nothing to do for now, not while this caravan rolled on. With no idea of his location, escape now would just be a blind leap into the wilderness. If he was lucky, whatever wretched city the caravan arrived at would be thick enough for him to escape, lay low, and recover.
Until then, he would wait. He would share this cage with this hate-filled child, waiting for the opportune time to strike.
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