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March 8th, 2024 - Floor 45: Brotherhood Base...

“That’s it! Keep it up!”

These words were the norm during a Brotherhood sparring session. The blades of swords, spears, and hammers echoed into the sky as an individual with a blond buzz cut walked around. He wore the same robes most others in the Guild wore, but his had a blue and white color scheme to it, with a gold trim to match.  A sword of stainless steel was attached to his hip, with a blue hilt and golden linings in the blade. This was Raiju, the Second in Command and High General of the Brotherhood of the Bloodborne Zone. He was currently walking about the training grounds, surveying a gaggle of Brotherhood members.

Another, this time, a female, walked up to a sparring foursome, competing in a two-on-two duel to strengthen and sharpen their skills. As one of the members was cut, the girl showed them how to better correct their error. This girl wore white robes with red outlines, the torso section acting as one piece. She bore leather sheaves and forearm protectors, with dark blue pants and brown leather boots. Her hair was styled in three ponytails, two at the back of her head and one at the top. She had a sword with a gold pommel and horn tipped guard, and a black hilt to match. Red ruby was imbedded into the blade, which was made of steel. This was Risa, the Lieutenant General of the Guild. Her job was the same as Raiju’s, looking over the training of their Guild Members.

A male of neck length black hair was talking to another Guild member of whom he was tasked with training. He wore the traditional Robes of Bloodborne, complete with the beaked hood, but his color scheme consisted predominantly of black and red. He had a sword that had a pitch black blade and a red hilt. This was Kaien, the Vice General of the Guild.

A third male with red dyed hair stepped forward to demonstrate a difficult Sword Skill his trainees had trouble grasping. He wore robes that seemed bulkier than the others, with fur cloaks padded around the pauldrons and neck of the hood.  There is a silver eagle on the shoulder that holds a cape in place. There is a gray, short sleeved robe that he wears under the breastplate, the robe itself being in three layers. The hood and cape are connected, giving off a red color. This was Corbin, Rear General of the Guild.

Together, these four, along with Bellator, make up the Quinate, the top five authority figures and leaders of the Guild. They are tasked with leading the Guild in battle, as well as handling the most important duties of the group.

After showing their trainees the moves, the four stood atop a small set of stairs that led down into the training area. Smiles tugged their lips as they saw their teammates improve greatly in a short amount of time. Raiju is the first to speak.

“I gotta admit, I didn’t think we would make it this far.” Raiju said.

“What did you expect? Dying on the first day or something?” Risa spoke.

“Someone has little faith in their Guild.” Kaien chirped in, causing the four to laugh

“Hey, we’ve made it this far already. Don’t go and jinx us, Rai!” Corbin said, chuckling a bit.

As the foursome continued chatting away as they watched the training, Bellator strode up from behind them, his hands behind his back and his hood down.

“It seems our fellow Guild members are doing well as always,” Bellator said, “I assume training has been going smoothly?”

“It’s been great so far, there are always things to work on, but overall, improvability is at an all time high.” Risa informed.

“Nothing a little training can’t fix.” Bellator said, “By the way, what happened at that duel earlier?"

“That Kirito guy won,” Corbin said, “He’s a player unlike any other, that’s for sure.”

“He’s still a Beater, though.” Kaien informed.

“Beater or no Beater, the guy is a valuable asset on the frontlines.” Raiju said, “Speaking of that duel, why weren’t you there?”

“Had other things to focus on.” Bellator shrugged.

“Things like what the Intel revealed to you?” Risa asked, eyebrow raised.

“Yes. I’ll inform you about what she said later, but right now…SOUP’S ON!” Bellator suddenly screamed.

With those two words, the other Guild members froze, sheathing their weapons and running up the stairs, hoping the food wouldn’t be gone by the time they get there.

In the base’s Mess Hall, laughter and whoops could be heard among the clanking of spoons, knives, forks, and plates, along with other utensils commonly found on the average dinner table. Bellator was sitting back at the head of the table sitting in the middle of the room, laughing and smiling as he chatted amongst his Guild members.

“So how was today’s hunt? Catch anything? Complete any new Quests?” Bellator asked, slurping his soup.

“Well,” A female member of the Guild started, “I did manage to find a Quest in the last couple of days that earned me this.” Said member of the guild accessed her Meny and selected a weapon, causing a Two Handed Assault Spear to materialize in thin air. It was made from pure gold with the spear in the shape of a teardrop. It had red and black jewels forged into the teardrop shaped blade, along with the curved guard jutting out from the blades sides.

Bellator motioned for the female to hand the blade to him, which she did. Bellator inspected the blade with precision, immediately recognizing it.

“Heaven’s Judgment, a powerful weapon indeed. 800 Attack power, near 200 Durability, and a Weight of 120 pounds. How’d you find this? I’ve sent search parties out to find this.” Bellator asked.

“I’ve been racking up Stat Points for my Tracking skill for months now. You’d be surprised at what kind of Quests you can find with that skill.” The female said.

“Why didn’t I think of that?” Bellator asked.

“Because you’ve been to focused on ranking up your One Handed Sword Skill! I bet you even try to rank it up even though you’ve mastered it!” The female said with a smirk, causing everyone to chuckle away to their amusement. Bellator even cracked a smile, even though the joke was at his own expense.

“Ha ha!” Bellator said dryly, still smiling, “Laugh it up, Alice. Let’s see how you fare with that weapon on the battlefield.”

“Oh, believe me, I’ll be able to handle my own just fine.” Alice laughed.

“Just hope that what happened to your first spear doesn’t happen to this one.” A male member at the table said, causing more chuckles to be heard as former memories were brought up.

“Don’t make me demote you, Momonosuke!” Alice said, puffing her cheeks and crossing her arms.

Bellator couldn’t help but look around and actually see laughing. Ever since the game started, he always wondered why people would laugh when they’re inside a game that could kill them. He thought those people were crazy. Over time, though, he got accustomed to the game’s community, and he should have, being it the fact that they were to be stuck there for a while, so he knew he had to adapt and accept the game for what it is now. A laugh here and there just made him glad to be with his friends.

The laughter amongst them all was interrupted when a male in gray beaked hooded robes appeared from the hallway leading to the main entrance.

“Bellator! Someone is at the gate!” The man shouted.

“Who could possibly be there at this time of day, Thaddeus?” Bellator asked, taking a sip of his drink.

“…The Flash.” Thaddeus said solemnly.

With those two words uttered, all action in the Mess Hall came to a sudden halt. It was so quiet, a pin could be heard dropping if you listened closely enough. Bellator abruptly stopped drinking and put his glass down on the table, looking at it with a stoic expression on his face.

“…Let them in.” Bellator said.

Whispers and murmurs could be heard around the Mess Hall as Thaddeus nodded his head and turned to face down the hallway.

"OPEN THE GATES!” He yelled to someone out of sight.

The Brotherhood knew that their rivalry with the Knights of Blood was a fierce one, so why they would show up on the doorstep of their Base was bewildering and alarming at the same time for each and every member of the Guild.

“Everyone, please leave. I’ll handle whatever it is that they want.” Bellator said emotionlessly.

“What?! Come on, man!” Commander Kyon exclaimed.

“Why can’t we stand by you?” Lieutenant Commander Renji asked.

“We don’t even know what they want, and we don’t know if they brought other members. Should I get in a scrap with them, I’ll call for you guys. Ok?” Bellator explained.

With this explanation, the Guild members continued exiting the Mess Hall, silently agreeing with Bellator’s plan. Just as the rest of the Quinate were about to exit, Bellator stopped them.

"Not you four.” Bellator said.

Raiju, Risa, Corbin, and Kaien all stopped turning back around to face their leader.

“Should this turn hostile, I might need you guys for backup as well. Plus, I also need you representing the Guild in whatever they require. Got me?” Bellator asked.

Like the others, they silently agreed and returned to the table, taking their seats. Commodore Thaddeus returned to the door.

“Bellator, Second-in-Command of the Knights of the Blood Oath, Asuna.”

A group wearing red and white uniforms fitted with armor walked in. At the head of the pack of five was a teenage girl with chestnut colored hair wearing a white and red uniform that barred any armor. A rapier was in its sheath at her left hip. She was obviously prepared if things got ugly. They all walked up to the table as the Quinate did their best to look proper. If their rivals were just popping in on them, they, at the very least, had to make a first impression. As the four guards stopped in front of the other side of the table, Asuna leaned forward, hands on the table. Bellator simply leaned back in his chair, not intimidated in the slightest.

“Give me a good reason not to have you and your cronies thrown out of here.” Bellator stated bluntly.

"I didn’t come here to cause trouble.” Asuna said simply.

“Why? Did Heathcliff send you to do his dirty work again? He can’t handle this himself so he got his personal lapdog to do it for him?” Bellator stated harshly.

Asuna’s face lit up red in anger. She had the sudden urge to reach for her rapier and slice the man in front of her into little tiny pieces. Who the hell did this kid think he was talking to her like that?!

“You’re really testing my patience, Bellator.” Asuna stated, rage still seething through her.

“And you’ve been trying my own since our Guilds formed,” Bellator said, “So I’ll ask again, give me a good reason not to have you and your cronies thrown out of here.”

Asuna straightened up and crossed her arms over her chest, trying her best to subside her anger from Bellator’s sarcastic quip.

“Heathcliff wishes to propose something.” Asuna revealed.

“Yeah? What’s that? I’m sure it’s something brilliant.” Bellator said.

“He wishes to make a pact with the Brotherhood of the Bloodborne Zone.”

Again, silence surround the two Guilds. A pin, once more, could be heard ropping if one actually did. All Quinate members raised their eyebrows in suspicion. Why, all of a sudden, would their rivals want to make a pact with them?

“A pact? After nearly two years of a rivalry, your leader wants to propose a pact?” Bellator questioned.

“As strange as it may seem, yes he does.” Asuna stated begrudgingly.

“What’s in it for you?” Raiju suddenly asked.

“Excuse me?” Asuna asked, as if offended.

“Clearly there must be SOMETHING in it for you guys, am I right or am I not?” Raiju asked.

“Why must you always assume that we have underhanded tactics up our sleeves?” A man with red hair and beard asked.

“Don’t think that we aren’t aware of your reputation. We’ve been at each others’ throats for nearly two years. We pick up on stuff real fast.” Risa put in.

“What you have heard are all stories spread to you by the Divine Dragon Alliance. They have been feeding you the lies this entire time!” The red haired man suddenly yelled.

“Calm yourself, Godfree!” Asuna ordered to the man now known as Godfree, to which he stood down on orders from his superior.

“Is all what he says is true?” Corbin asked.

“We have reason to believe so? Was the Alliance killing four members of your Guild not evidence enough?” Asuna asked.

Bellator shifted in his seated slightly, thinking back to what Lana told him about the Divine Dragon Alliance and their framing for the murders. He knew the truth, but he knew that if he spilled everything here, it would just create more problems and strife.

“Yes, that was enough eye opening evidence than we needed to see,” Bellator said, “But why would we just suddenly join another alliance?”

“Don’t think of it as an alliance. Think of it as…a treaty.” Asuna said.

“A treaty? What do you mean by that?” Kaien asked.

“Like a Non-Aggression Pact. It’s very simple, really: We don’t mess with you, and you don’t mess with us. We meet up once in a full moon to discuss problems occurring with our Guilds, and everything is all smooth as silk.” Asuna stated.

“And, once again, why is Heathcliff willing to make this pact?” Raiju asked.

“To be honest, he’s not sure if our Guild alone will be able to clear this game. With us trying to keep the Divine Dragon Alliance in the rear view mirror as much as possible, and the rumors of Player Killing Guilds, we obviously need more people on the frontlines.” Asuna explained.

Bellator thought it over for a bit, thinking about the possibilities in the long run for the Guild.

“If you’re willing to contribute on the frontlines as much as we’ve been doing, and as long as you don’t try anything funny, you have yourself a deal.” Bellator affirmed.

The Quinate and Knights of Blood members surrounding Asuna stil seemed uneasy by this, but they too had to think of the good of their Guilds before their rivalry. If they didn’t, they would surely perish.

“Good,” Asuna said, “I’ll send word to Heathcliff that the act has been accepted.” Asuna stuck her hand out slowly to confirm the pact. Bellator seemed a bit hesitant at first, but slowly stuck his own hand out to shake Asuna’s firmly. They both had stern looks on their faces, as if someone was going to pull out their sword right there on the spot.

“Now, we were planning on attacking the Floor Boss tomorrow. We would really appreciate your participation if you wish to move on in this game.” Asuna said.

“You can count on us being there.” Bellator stated.

The handshake ended and Asuna motioned for her guards to follow her has she led them out the door and out from the base. The Quinate members watched their retreating figures disappear from their sights, unsure of what this new pact might bring.

“Are you sure about this, man?” Corbin asked.

“To be completely honest, not really, but we have to put the safety of the Guild above everything else here,” Bellator said, “This pact may be the only thing that could get us to complete this game and finally get back to reality.”

“I hate to admit it, but you’re right on this one.” Risa said.

“I’m gonna choose to ignore that.” Bellator said.

The Quinate members called back in their Guild members and finished dinner. As they all left the Mess Hall to go and do whatever it is they did at night, Bellator sat in his room, on the edge of his bed. He was thinking about what Lana told him the other day. Was it worth holding in a secret that could tear the newly formed pact apart?

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Unknown Location...

A man wearing a black cloak over his shoulders with a blue long sleeved shirt underneath was walking down a hall lit by lanterns. He wore gray pants and black boots, a sword in a sheath near his lower back. He had black, spiky hair and seemed like he was in a rush. He arrived at what appeared to be a meeting area, where a young woman sat at a lone chair, inspecting her menu. She had raven colored hair, and a body that was covered with top notch maroon shoulder armor and forearm protectors. Her belt had a gray and maroon color scheme to it, while she wore maroon leg armor that reached from her knees to her feet. She had a valuable blade, with shades of gray and maroon on the hilt. She looked up to see the man walking towards her.

“Setsuna,” The man said, bowing towards the woman, “I come bearing great news.”

“Oh? Is it news of your recon mission?” Setsuna asked, listening intently.

“Yes,” The man confirmed, “It appears that spying on the Brotherhood actually paid itself off. Using my acute Listening Skill, I was able to hear in on a conversation between the Quinate of the Brotherhood and the top ranking members of the Knights of the Blood Oath.”

“Really. Enlighten me.” Setsuna said, motioning for the man to go on.

“It appears that the two have made an official pact. No matter what words were said, it sound slike an alliance to me.” The man said.

Setsuna frowned a bit, but recollected her thoughts, “Well, that’s a shame…for the Knights of course.”

“Why is that, Setsuna?” The man asked.

“Because they now stand in our way of the Brotherhood. For that, they must be eliminated. Our goal has been to terminate the Brotherhood at all costs, and no matter who got in our way, we would destroy them. That is exactly what the Knights are doing. It truly is a shame though. They were actually tenacious players.” Setsuna stated with a grin.

“Will this deter our earlier goals, Setsuna?” The man asked.

“No, no quite. It’s simply put like this…a new goal has been added for us, one that we will surely fulfill.” Setsuna said, “As reward for your success, you’ll receive a large sum amount of Col in your inventory in no time. Spend it whatever way you please."

“Thank you, Setsuna.” The man said, bowing once more.

“No, thank you…Kyuubi.” Setsuna stated, nodding her head.

Kyuubi got up and took his leave from his leader’s line of sight, returning down the hall. Setsuna simply folded her hands and lpaced them flat below her chin, grinning ear to ear.

“Soon, this whole castle’s gonna shatter under my boot…and there isn’t anything anyone can do to stop it.”

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So? How'd I do? I tried following Fede's advice by introducing more characters and still being able to work in the story, as well as the reveal of Setsuna.

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