The Toothless Beast
After disobeying the True King during the Great Wall incident, Alliah resigns as the Golden Knight to serve the Istavion Kingdom as its princess. One day she overhears her former subordinates, Anissida and Hailak, discussing rumors they've heard about her. When the topic of the Golden Knight's successor comes up, Alliah becomes emotional.
Of the seven major skydoms found in the Sky Realm, more than half fall under the control of the Istavion Kingdom.
The ruler of this powerful kingdom resides on the island of New Utopia in the Great Oarlyegrande Skydom.
Within the towering Utopia Z1 Palace stands a young princess, Alliah Istavion. Her shoulders are slumped; her eyes are trained on the floor.
In front of her is the imposing monarch of the Istavion Kingdom—her father, the True King.
True King: How have you fared as of late, Alliah?
Alliah: Your Majesty. I have not partaken in any civic duties to speak of. As for reestablishing my knowledge of the arts—
True King: Amend your manner of speech. The vestiges of your knightly tongue rears its head.
True King: You've neglected your duties as the royal daughter, tossing them aside to wave a blade around from dawn till dusk. I trust that will be corrected.
True King: Then make it so. Do not forget your role.
White Knight: ...
Ending the short conversation as abruptly as it started, the True King disappears down a corridor.
Alliah: He thinks I was just waving a blade around all day?
Alliah was once a part of the illustrious Seven Luminary Knights, loyally serving as the Golden Knight under the True King's command.
But during the height of the tumultuous events atop the Great Wall in Nalhegrande, she defied her father.
True King: I am shocked. Do you realize what you are doing?
Golden Knight: I beg forgiveness, Your Majesty.
Golden Knight: The Great Wall is far too great a threat.
Golden Knight: I have no regrets leaving this matter in the hands of those people.
True King: Hmm...
Alliah took refuge in Idelva in the aftermath of the Great Wall incident, but she ultimately returned to Istavion after several negotiations.
No longer does she brandish a sword or spear as the Golden Knight—her only obligation is to serve the kingdom as its princess.
Alliah: (In other words, I'm merely a display piece.)
Anissida: Hello, Your Royal Highness.
Alliah: Oh, it's you two.
Alliah turns to face Anissida and Hailak, two former subordinates from her time as the Golden Knight.
The two salute Alliah and continue to speak without breaking decorum.
Hailak: We regret to have not stayed in touch, Your Royal Highness.
Alliah: Yes, it has been a while since we last spoke to each other. Has anything changed as of late?
Anissida: No, ma'am. The army reports no issues at this time. Please be at ease.
Alliah: Oh... I see. That's good to hear, I suppose...
Hailak: Um, I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds, but may I inquire about your health?
Alliah: I'm doing perfectly fine after convalescing in Idelva. On the other hand...
Alliah: It's been so long since I last gripped the hilt of a sword that I fear I can no longer effectively wield one as a knight.
Alliah: What are you two doing now?
Hailak: We're mostly on guard duty until the next official assignment comes in.
Alliah recognizes that the two soldiers are stuck in bureaucratic limbo as a result of her vacated seat within the Luminaries.
Alliah: What an unfortunate staffing decision. First-class talents such as yourselves are wasted on guard duty.
Alliah: If the military is uncomfortable with your past ties to the Golden Knight, then I'll—
Anissida: We appreciate the kind gesture. However, this is not a matter for Your Royal Highness to be concerned with.
Anissida: This is a military affair. Rest assured it will be addressed through the proper channels.
Alliah: Ah, r-right... Very well. I understand.
Anissida: Thank you for your concern, ma'am.
Alliah: Of course. Carry on then.
Anissida and Hailak hold their salute until Alliah turns down a hallway and is out of sight.
They wait a few more seconds to make sure the princess is truly out of earshot.
Anissida: Phew... Can't get used to this politeness stuff.
Hailak: Man, I was sure she'd ask us how we were doing.
Hailak: But even after giving up the Luminary gig, she's still concerned about the military.
Anissida: Nah, she totally wanted to shoot the breeze with us. I could feel it.
Hailak: Really? Then why all the military stuff?
Anissida: Because she's a princess now, and we're just grunts.
Anissida: Doesn't matter if we used to serve under her. Getting too chummy raises a bunch of issues.
Hailak: I wouldn't say we were that close with her back then either...
Hailak: Frankly I'm surprised you even care about protocol.
Anissida: What's that supposed to mean?
Hailak: In any case, she hasn't talked as much since returning to the kingdom.
Hailak: I guess that's her way of settling into the princess job.
Anissida: His Majesty personally went to bring her home from Idelva. That must've been a huge shock.
Hailak: True... A part of her still wants to swing the sword, but her princess side is showing too.
Anissida: Yeah, maybe that's why rumors fly in the military, with some calling her names like "coward" or "the toothless beast."
Hailak: A disgusting show of disrespect... Who do they take Her Royal Highness for?
Anissida: Oh well, you know how it goes! People wanna talk when a big change happens.
Anissida: Besides, everyone's focused on who the next Golden Knight'll be.
Hailak: You make it sound like all they have to do is pick someone's name out of a hat or something.
Hailak: It needs to be addressed though. Unlike the other Luminary seats, leaving the Golden Knight position in a state of uncertainty is a bad idea.
Anissida: Well, that's why people are talking. Aren't you curious too?
Hailak: Nope. As long as that person's worthy of His Majesty's recognition, I've got zero problems with the pick.
Hailak: So how long are we gonna stand here for?
Anissida: Just a bit longer. No one will miss us. There's plenty of guards to go around.
Hailak: Anissida, you ought to take work more seriously—
Anissida: You wanna know what I think? We're trapped in no-man's-land. No unit wants us.
Hailak: Alliah's busy with her royal duties. Getting us assigned to a new unit is on the back burner.
Hailak: Once the new Golden Knight is appointed, we'll be back in business. I'm fine with waiting.
Anissida: Eh, I'm thinking about leaving the military.
Hailak: What! You can't be serious...
Anissida: Does it look like I'm joking? I don't know if I have it in me to serve under a new superior officer...
Anissida: At times like this, I wish I were in Phantagrande or Nalhegrande.
Hailak: I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that. Come on—back to work, Anissida.
Anissida: H-hey! Stop pulling me!
Hailak drags Anissida away by her arm, and they return to their patrol.
As Alliah watches the two soldiers leave, she remembers her days as the Golden Knight.
She doesn't know it yet, but the repressed emotions inside her are starting to bubble to the surface.
Alliah understands that the True King crowned her as the princess merely for show. With no real duties to speak of, she has lots of time to reflect on the crew's pursuit of its own future, and it makes her question her own purpose in life.
It hasn't been long since Alliah Istavion relinquished her title as the Golden Knight.
Aside from a brief hello and goodbye with (Captain), her life as the princess of the Istavion Kingdom has been uneventful.
She follows her father's words without fail, wiling away her days in comfort.
Alliah: (Royal duties and the pursuit of the arts keeps me occupied. My needs are seen to, and the days of putting my life on the line are far behind me.)
Alliah: Sister left Idelva and secured a freedom for herself that doesn't exist in this kingdom.
Alliah: Cain and his group are creating a new future for Idelva after it became a republic.
Alliah: And then there's the crew that saved my life on the Great Wall...
True King: The Istavion Kingdom can make your deepest desires a reality.
True King: Come. Take my hand. Our goals are aligned; is it not in our best interests to fully cooperate with each other?
(Captain): I refuse.
Alliah: They had the conviction to follow their own course and refused His Majesty's invitation.
Alliah: (When I think about how everyone else is taking charge of their own lives, my inner voice flares up...)
Alliah: What are you doing?
Alliah: (Ah, doesn't my other self look so gallant?)
Alliah: (She just doesn't know when to quit, does she? Or maybe I'm trying to lie to myself...)
As Alliah engages in a monologue of self-derision, she hears footsteps echoing down the hall.
True King: ...
Alliah moves to the True King's side as she's always done, bending down on one knee in fealty.
True King: ...
The monarch strides past his daughter, his eyes focused straight forward.
Alliah may as well be a weed growing on the side of a road. She watches in disbelief as her father walks away.
Not once does he ever look back, and soon he is gone.
Alliah: (He crowns me princess without defining a clear purpose.)
Alliah: (Whether he speaks to me or not falls entirely to his whim.)
Alliah: (As a child I assumed this was normal. But now I know better...)
Alliah: Does it make you angry?
Alliah catches sight of something in the palace mirror that stops her in her tracks.
Alliah: This isn't the first time that man has neglected you.
Alliah: I guess you're happy with a few words thrown your way every once in a while. That's pretty much all you're worth anyway.
Alliah: Shut your mouth...
Alliah: What a lovely ornament you've become. Before, you wanted so much to be a piece in his game, but now you're not even that.
Alliah: Sister has her magic. (Captain) has determination. You have nothing.
Alliah: It's only natural that you'd be left behind. Everyone's already so far ahead; who has time to wait for the straggler?
Alliah: I am determined...
Alliah: Oh, good. Then what's your goal?
Alliah: What do you have left in that hollowed-out shell? What do you want to do?
The former knight struggles to answer her own question.
But even if her internal dialogue is unclear, it's a sign of change to come.
Golden Splendor: Scene 2
One day Alliah bumps into Anissida and Hailak, who report that they're going to a small island in the Amahtgrande Skydom to hunt a monster that ambushed Istavion soldiers. Alliah wishes them well.
One day Alliah has another encounter with Anissida and Hailak.
But this time the two soldiers don't appear to be out on a routine patrol.
Alliah: You both look busy. Did something happen?
Hailak: Yes, ma'am. We've been requisitioned by another unit.
Hailak: Tomorrow we fly for Amahtgrande Skydom. We're in the middle of making preparations.
Alliah: A requisition? I suppose it's not an ordinary operation then.
Hailak is quickly cautious of Alliah's probing question.
Hailak: It's... I'm not sure if this is meant for Your Royal Highness to hear, but...
Hailak: The unit requesting assistance was tasked with establishing a foothold on a small island in Amahtgrande.
Hailak: When they landed on that island, a number of their forces were attacked by a monster and forced to withdraw.
Hailak: The Green Knight had accompanied them since he also needed to cross the Grim Basin, but his hands are tied with another matter. That's why we're being called in as backup.
Alliah: That's some monster.
Hailak: The soldiers will live, but their memories of the attack are hazy. Thanks to that, we can't determine anything about the pest.
Hailak: Not what it looks like, nor if there is more than one. I've never heard of a sorrier bunch of soldiers that bear Istavion's crest.
Hailak: It was also discovered that some equipment was lost. That unit is making a mockery of the kingdom.
Anissida: It's all good! So long as we settle this quickly, restoring our pride and honor should be no big deal.
Hailak: Huh? Uh, yes, that is the intention, but—
Alliah: Focus. A disgrace to the military is a disgrace to the kingdom.
Hailak: Yes, ma'am! Understood!
Alliah: Stay vigilant, especially when our intel of the monster is lacking. Carelessness is our worst enemy.
Hailak: Yes, ma'am. Anissida and I will take your words to heart.
Hailak: We will exterminate the monster and avenge our sullied name.
Alliah: Good. I have no doubts the two of you will resolve this competently.
Anissida and Hailak salute Alliah and return to their duties.
Golden Splendor: Scene 3
Hailak thinks he's found the monster that ambushed Istavion soldiers, but it turns out to be Alliah wearing the Golden Knight's armor, and Anissida was in on her plan. Having decided to reclaim her Luminary title, she snuck onto the island and secretly dispatched the monster for sword practice, knocking out a few soldiers while at it. Vowing to see the sky's future with her own eyes, Alliah battles Anissida and Hailak to shake off the rust.
An Istavion ship crosses the Grim Basin and sets down on a small, deserted island in Amahtgrande Skydom.
As soon as Anissida, Hailak, and the other soldiers step foot on the ground, their search for the mysterious monster begins.
Hailak: Find any monster tracks?
Anissida: Nope. Doesn't look like this is the place.
Hailak: Nothing over here either. Probably gonna have to go farther inland.
Anissida: Somebody's taking this seriously, even though we're more like consultants. Is this part of your "avenging our sullied name" thing?
Hailak: Dedication to the mission shouldn't just be expected of a soldier. It should be ingrained in them.
Hailak: That reminds me of our conversation with Her Royal Highness—
Hailak suddenly stops walking. The sight before him fills him with dread.
Hailak: Anissida! It's—
A number of Istavion soldiers lie unconscious in the brush.
Anissida: They're still breathing. Is anyone conscious or are they all lights out?
Hailak: How could this have happened so quickly? I didn't even sense an enemy, much less see—
Hailak reflexively whips around to stare into the thick overgrowth behind him.
Anissida: Yeah, I know. We're in for another big surprise.
They've never felt such an intense aura of bloodlust before.
Hailak: (Here it comes!)
Hailak stares nervously into the brush, sweaty hands clenching his spear.
To his utter surprise, the Golden Knight steps out from the shadows and tosses a bundle of clothing to the ground.
Alliah: Thank you, Anissida.
Anissida: Yep. You're welcome.
Anissida, having known exactly what to expect, picks up the discarded garb: an Istavion army uniform.
Hailak: Your Royal Highness? Why are you wearing the Golden Knight's armor...
Hailak: And the fact that Anissida's not surprised in the slightest can only mean—
Anissida: Yeah, I don't think you need to finish that thought, right? Anyway, it's more like I'm lending a hand.
Anissida: Alliah wants to take back the mantle of the Golden Knight.
Anissida: What's the problem? A tough army boy should be ready for any change in plans.
Hailak: Laugh all you want; that's not going to change my opinion. Your Royal Highness, please tell me this is a joke.
Alliah: I didn't don this armor to sully its name for the sake of a joke. I despise jokes.
Alliah: I can't rewind history to stop myself from surrendering my seat as the Golden Knight.
Alliah: But life as a princess, as I've come to realize, is nothing more than a bitter experience.
Alliah: Anissida was the one who sparked my dissent.
Alliah: When I heard her speaking about my potential replacement, it lit a fire in my soul.
Alliah: I didn't want to surrender that seat to anyone. That was my unequivocal determination.
Hailak: You overheard us talking that one time?
Anissida: She sure did. I made a point to speak loud and clearly.
Anissida: It was a gamble, and the odds weren't in my favor. It all hinged on Alliah.
Alliah: Anissida procured the equipment and documentation that allowed me to slip in with the other soldiers.
Hailak asks another question, trying to make sense of all these revelations.
Hailak: So what's the point of coming here?
Anissida: Alliah mentioned her sword skills were flagging.
Anissida: This island's monster should do wonders for getting her back in rhythm.
Hailak: Are you crazy? You saw what that monster did to an entire unit of soldiers—
Anissida: Um, actually... Alliah did that.
Alliah: I swiftly dispatched the monster without breaking a sweat, but it still wasn't enough to bring back the exhilaration I once felt, so...
Alliah: I don't how I will justify my actions to these men. Of course I used the back of my blade, but that's still not how a princess should behave.
Anissida: Let's just report that the soldiers were slacking off, so the princess gave them a stern reprimand.
Hailak: Yeah, like that'll work!
Hailak: And even if we pin the blame on the monster, I'm not sure the soldiers' testimonies will corroborate a monster attack...
Anissida: That's the beauty of it. People are prone to laughing off stories of impossibly powerful phenomena.
Anissida: Given a situation where everyone fainted at the exact same time, your first thought is it had to be the work of a monster.
An unconvinced Hailak glares at Anissida and her easygoing attitude.
Hailak: I knew there was something off when you dropped formalities and went right back to speaking casually with Her Royal Highness.
Hailak: Look, are you absolutely sure you know what you're doing, Anissida?
Anissida: Obviously. I take orders from the Golden Knight, and that's what I'm doing: following my superior officer's orders.
Anissida: In my mind, I can't picture anyone other than Alliah in that suit of gold.
Hailak: Is that because you hate the jobs other officers assign to you?
Anissida: Maaaybe... I'd say it's half the reason?
Alliah: I'm willing to overlook her attitude toward her official duties in this case since I used her for my own purposes.
Anissida: We've got a relationship of mutual benefit. She's looking for a comeback, and I'm trying to avoid getting a new boss.
Hailak: So it's basically give and take...
Sensing Hailak's lingering hesitation, Alliah takes a commanding tone to cement her intentions.
Alliah: Hailak, as a loyal soldier to the kingdom, I understand your confusion.
Alliah: But my decision is final. I eschew the dull peace of the palace so that I may observe the sky's future with my own eyes.
Hailak: Its future?
Alliah: To quote my own words, right now there are a countless number of "pieces" scattered throughout the skies.
Alliah: Every piece has an endless possibility of moves they can make on the board. But imagine how long it will take to feel the effects of all those actions.
Alliah: Who's the one looking down on the board and moving those pieces?
Alliah: When all is said and done, even His Majesty is probably just a piece as well.
Hailak: Blasphemy! Have you forgotten how many skydoms rest in his control?
Alliah: Yet His Majesty is still part of the same sky. The same stage.
Alliah: No one can stop being a piece and leave the board from the outset.
Alliah: Close your eyes. Cover your ears. It doesn't matter. No one can escape from the sky's fate. If that's the case, I'd rather face it head-on.
Alliah: No longer am I content to be a passenger. I will see what the sky has in store of my own volition.
Alliah's voice grows stronger as she speaks. Anissida and Hailak are at a loss for words.
Alliah: Now raise your weapons. Let this be my final lesson to you.
Hailak: Please reconsider, Your Royal Highness!
Hailak: Without His Majesty's blessing to return to the Luminary Knights, we have no choice but to take this fight seriously.
Anissida: I'm fine with going all out. If she loses to us here, she won't make it out there.
Alliah looks at her subordinates and lets out a small sigh inside her helmet.
Alliah: There are two things you two don't seem to understand.
Alliah: First, the Golden Knight is back, and she requires permission from no one.
Alliah: And second, even two against one, you're no match for me.
Hailak: Then eat this!
Golden Splendor: Scene 4
Alliah defeats Anissida and Hailak, declaring that she'll never relinquish the seat of the Golden Knight again. She returns to New Utopia in her armor and tells the True King she will act on her own terms. Then she leaves the palace to pursue (Captain)'s crew.
Alliah: That was a good session. Despite Anissida's apathy, it seems you've been keeping up with your training.
Alliah sounds relaxed.
Anissida: The military isn't taking you seriously. They're wrong to call you a toothless beast.
Anissida: Far from it. Your fangs are as sharp as ever. No wonder you're the Golden Knight.
Alliah: Today I return to the line of duty, but not as a pawn of His Majesty. I move on my own terms.
Hailak: I still don't get it, Your Royal Highness. What's so dissatisfying about being the princess?
Alliah: I wouldn't call it dissatisfying. Life in the palace is more fulfilling than some people can ever dream of.
Alliah: Frankly, I wanted to move away from home.
Alliah: I didn't want to be beholden to that man. I simply realized I didn't need him; I'm my own person.
Anissida: Woo-hoo, you've gone and said it.
Alliah: More than anything, the Golden Knight is the very essence of my will to live.
Alliah: It's my pride and joy, shaped without the help of my territory-seizing father or magically-gifted sister.
Alliah: It is my legacy.
Alliah: And if anyone wishes to usurp my hard-earned seat, they'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Anissida and Hailak immediately snap to attention and salute at the end of her speech.
Anissida: Welcome back, Alliah. Looking forward to another wild ride.
Hailak: While I'm not as thrilled by this reinstatement, I do understand Alliah's fervor.
Hailak: Moreover, I'm moved by her spirit of noble endeavor.
Hailak: A thousand pardons for my insolence. I will stand by your side.
Alliah: Thank you.
Having decided to reclaim her status as the Golden Knight come hell or high water, Alliah returns to New Utopia.
She is granted an audience with the True King, and she arrives in full dress.
True King: Why are you wearing that armor?
The look he throws at his daughter is not one of compassion but scorn.
True King: During the venerable child's flight from the palace, I distinctly remember saying you were no longer a knight.
True King: Remove the armor at once. You are not worthy of its weight.
Alliah: I respectfully refuse.
True King: Hm?
Alliah: If you'll excuse my incivility, what purpose do I serve parading around within these palace walls?
Alliah: In terms of furthering Istavion's prosperity, I believe enticing the venerable child is a more constructive use of time.
True King: You plan to join the venerable child?
Alliah: From now on I will act on my own accord as the Golden Knight.
Alliah: Rest assured I will remain steadfast in my commitment to my homeland and the Sky Realm.
Alliah: That is all I have to say.
She turns on her heel and leaves the bewildered king.
Hailak: Wait, Alliah! I can't believe you took that tone with His Majesty. This won't go over well...
Hearing the sound of her two subordinates chasing after her, Alliah pauses and peeks over her shoulder.
A pleasant laugh escapes her mouth as she removes her helmet.
Alliah: Hahaha... Did you see it?
Alliah: Never have I seen such a look of shock on His Majesty's face. That probably won't happen again.
Alliah: I feel... refreshed. As if my soul is many times lighter.
Anissida and Hailak simply stare wide-eyed at the giggling Alliah.
Anissida: She actually laughed... And I think she meant it...
Alliah: Wh-what do you mean? Don't act as if I've never laughed before...
Anissida: When was that again?
Hailak: I can't remember specifically, but I'm sure she has... Still, it's a pretty rare sight.
Alliah: Ahem. Let's move on to new business.
Alliah: I intend to track down (Captain)'s crew and unravel their motivations.
Anissida: What for?
Alliah: I was not opposed to marrying their captain if that person had chosen to do so, but it wasn't to be.
Alliah: I must ascertain if they intend to antagonize the kingdom.
Hailak: Should we ready the troops to fight them then?
Alliah: No. I'm making the choice to follow either their crew or the kingdom.
Anissida: Unbelievable. The family feud continues; the princess is basically committing treason...
Alliah: I see the sky stretching out before me. I want to be open-minded—to see more of the possibilities.
Anissida: Aren't you just cherry-picking what you want? Now isn't the time to be turning over a new leaf...
Alliah: Yes, I wish for the kingdom to prosper, but not in the way the True King decrees.
Alliah: His methodology has made me take stock of myself. I won't lose my seat as the Golden Knight ever again.
Golden Knight Alliah speaks with a newfound pride.
She leaves the palace and Istavion to chase after (Captain), never once stopping to look back.
Meanwhile the True King sits on his throne, pondering his next move.
True King: When a piece leaves the board, it is only natural to bring another back into play...
White Knight: ...
True King: However, it is premature to act. No matter how far that golden radiance strays, it shall never evade my gaze.
True King: Though to engage in a battle of wits with my own daughter... Who could have seen this come to pass?
The fallout between Istavion's royal father and daughter ripples throughout the kingdom.
But the rejuvenation of golden splendor and the spirit who bears it shall pierce the dark clouds of turmoil.