Jezu Grandil

Jezu proudly serves as General of the Royal Guard under his sister, Belatrix. He’s also known to be the best swordsman in Castle Krondolee.

Like most members of the Grandil family, Jezu is highly dignified and values his honor above his life. However, he’s known to make unorothodox decisions from time to time due to his senstive temperament. He has a strong sense of compassion and is more forgiving than Belatrix. Anyone on his bad list, adversely, should run as far from his path as possible.

Jezu Sketch

Story excerpt
from the Visual Novel

As General Jezu and I prepare, I can’t help but wonder if Nikolaos was right to warn me against sparring. I am physically weary from days of traveling, and emotionally exhausted by my new surroundings. In any case, there’s no turning back now.

Jezu stands on the open field, holding his broadsword high before him. Muscles ripple up his arms as he firmly grips the weapon. His stance is perfect, his feet planted in such a way that he looks as difficult to topple as a large tree in the jungle.

“BEGIN!” shouts General Jezu, his voice booming across the courtyard.

I lift my spear. I do not hesitate. I can’t afford to. Against Jezu, my only advantage is my unpredictability. “Haaaaa!”

My feet dash over the churned soil and I feel the breeze carry me forward. Here, without trees or vines to impede me, I feel as free as a bird in flight. I soar across the field and thrust my spear towards Jezu’s chest. His sword knocks my spear aside just in time, but I might have still landed a blow if he didn’t stagger backwards.

He takes a moment to catch his breath. The surprise in his eyes rewards me for my efforts. “By the gods, you move quickly! But you desperately lack technique.” Swiftly he shifts in place, returning one more into a strong and balanced stance. “Let me DEMONSTRATE!”

He rushes forward, swiping his blade in an arc. I feel the wind from the weapon like the flap of a griffin’s wings. Only my nimble feet save me as I quickly dash backwards.

The swipe of his sword brushes my tunic and leaves my heart racing. If I’d moved just a little bit slower, that blade could have slashed deeply.

On the sidelines, Nikolaos wrings his hair anxiously. “Easy, General, please! Are you trying to kill her?”

“Stay out of it, Nikolaos!” Any kindness I previously perceived in Jezu is gone, replaced now by the sheer will to defeat me. “You’re the one who vouched for her abilities. Now let’s see what she can do!” His teeth flash brightly with a snarl, which curls slightly into a grin. “Well then, Elsa? Are you finished already? Or will you come back for more?”

My arm still hurts from the first time I tried to strike him. But I grit my teeth to the pain and rush forward again. “Haaaaa!”

The world blurs around me. Everything melts away but Jezu, who grows larger and larger before me. I aim all my efforts towards striking one point of his armor. I notice the slight adjustments he makes in order to fend off my blow. And at the last second, I aim for a new spot.

“Umph!” The strike knocks Jezu backwards, and he stumbles across the dirt.

The echo of the impact slaps the wall of the fortress. I fall back, recovering my senses, and remember to breathe. Pain throbs in my arm from the impact of my spear against his armor. But I can’t resist a small smile. Already, I have managed to get past Jezu’s guard and strike him. If that doesn’t impress him, what will?

After a moment, though, I start to worry. He remains on the sidelines, huddled in pain. Did I hit him too hard?

“Lokke’s luck be with us!” cries Nikolaos. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think the two of you were trying to kill each other!”

“And who says we aren’t?” With a coarse groan, Jezu heaves himself back up. “Worry not, Nikolaos. I can control myself well enough to keep my blows from killing your companion.” His eyes blaze up at me from within his dark complexion. “But I wish to see her full potential. She should come at me with every fiber of her strength. After all, if an untrained novice can get the better of me, then what right have I to call myself General?”

He swings his sword back up. He leans slightly forward. And before I have time to prepare myself, he lunges towards me.


It happens so hard that I don’t comprehend it until later, when I find myself sprawled in the dirt, head spinning and shoulder aching. I tried to fend off Jezu’s attack, but it happened too fast, and he struck me with the flat of his blade. Truly enough, he could have killed me just now if that had been his intention. He moved with such grace and calculation that I saw no chance of escape.

Now he falls back again, hefting his sword back up, looming over me with a somber expression. “Well then, Elsa, I have proven my superiority. You now face a decision every soldier must make. Will you admit defeat while you still have your life? Or will you keep fighting, no matter what the chances of failure?”

I don’t even think about it. I know I lack experience and “technique” in Jezu’s style of fighting. I only know how to fight for my survival, and that means trusting my instincts, and pouring all of my strength into whatever action I make—as if my very life depends on it.


I don’t aim at all this time. I don’t have a plan. I just attack. And for just a moment—for one, fleeting moment before the impact—I see the fear flash in Jezu’s eyes.


My spear sinks into his neck—almost. I can already imagine it happening as the metal tip nears his flesh. Then sparks fly and the tip of my spear ricochets against his sword. The collision knocks both our weapons aside. Reacting quickly, I use my remaining momentum to kick him deep in the abdomen with my knee. I hear the breath knocked from his chest as he folds inwards, then collapses.

I step back and recover. A veil of red seems to lift from my eyes. I see Jezu, curled over the ground and struggling to breathe.

“General!” squeals Nikolaos, rushing forward. “General! Are you all right?”

At long last, Jezu looks up with a smile. “I’m quite well, Nikolaos. And I think I’ve seen enough of Elsa’s fighting.” The general’s dark brown gaze meets mine, and suddenly, I feel as if I am flooded with warmth. His anger is gone now, replaced by… I don’t know what to call the emotion I sense anymore. It suggests satisfaction and pride, but also a deep hunger for more—if such a thing is possible. “Well done, Elsa,” he says softly. “Well done indeed.”

I can’t resist smiling back at him. I feel bad for ignoring Nikolaos’s advice today. But in the end, I don’t regret it. I know that I’ve won Jezu’s respect. And that pleases me even more than I expected.


Belatrix Grandil

The Grandil family is well respected for its long history of honorable and trustworthy members. Belatrix is no exception.

Fierce, noble, and beautiful, Belatrix is only a hairsbreadth away from taking the throne herself. The Royal Duma will likely elect her to rule after Kallias. But Belatrix values her honor to a fault. Nothing matters to her so much as keeping her word and serving Kallias faithfully.

Belatrix Sketch

Story excerpt
from the visual novel

Nikolaos turns to his companion. I hold back another gasp, this time of dismay. The woman next to him is large and muscular, her body draped with armor, her eyes so fierce they seem to burn me from afar. She has deep brown skin which contrasts strangely—and beautifully—with the bright red hair spiraling down her shoulders. I am reminded of one of my few encounters with a large cat in the jungle, the beauty of which is rivaled only by its ferocity. In the presence of such beings I never knew whether to bow my head in adoration or flee in utter terror.

“No one else but the god of greed himself, I imagine,” says Belatrix. Her voice is both deep and sonorous, as strong and graceful as her body.

Even Nikolaos seems intimidated by the woman’s presence. He shifts about nervously.

“So … do you want to talk to him? I imagine that’s why you came all this way from Castle Krondolee.”

The name “Castle Krondolee” makes my heart leap with excitement. I have read stories of the royal seat of Darzia in Papa’s precious books. I have imagined it so many times: its large stone towers, its cobblestone courtyards. But Krondolee has always seemed like a distant dream to me. The thought that it is real, and that someone in my presence actually traveled here from that castle, makes me dizzy.

“Talk to Arken Jeridar?” snaps Commander Belatrix. “The Grand Traitor? And let him fill my head with lies? You must be as stupid as you look!”

A flush of red goes across Nikolaos’s face. I might actually feel sorry for the fellow, if I wasn’t so distracted by Belatrix’s words.

Arken Jeridar? Grand traitor? She couldn’t possibly be talking about Papa? These people must be mistaken. His name is Arken, that is true. But I had never heard the name “Jeridar” before. And he is certainly no “traitor!”

“Traitors are the worst scum on the planet,” snarls Belatrix, her teeth flashing white in the darkness. “They have no honor. No loyalty. No principles. A traitor cannot be ‘talked’ to. The truth must be wrested out of him, but carefully, like pulling the heart from an animal before it stops beating.”

I grip my spear so tightly, my fingers ache. This woman looks strong and ferocious, but if she tries to harm Papa, I will do whatever I must to stop her.

“What sort of truth are you hoping to ‘wrest’ out of him?” asks Nikolaos.

Belatrix looks around, as if afraid someone might be listening. I resist the urge to flee as her gaze sweeps over my hiding spot. Fortunately, the shadows protect me. Belatrix turns back to Nikolaos, lowering her voice so I must strain to listen.

“If you were anyone else, Nikolaos, I would not speak of it. But you already know about her, don’t you? You know about the former queen’s daughter. You know that the heir of House Elborn might still be alive.”

They are both quiet for a moment. I don’t hear anything but the pounding of my own heart. I don’t know who this “heir of House Elborn” might be, but whoever she is, she must be important.

Nikolaos crosses his arms and looks away from the Commander. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Belatrix blinks with surprise. “But you must. Your mother was the one who saw Arken take the baby away.”

“Oh, she might have said something like that a long time ago to impress the other maids,” shrugs Nikolaos. “Then the story got passed around and exaggerated. Servants’ gossip. That’s all it was. As you may recall, when the king questioned her about it later, she denied the story completely.”

“Yes, but…” Belatrix studies him carefully. She seems to doubt his sincerity. But Nikolaos avoids her gaze.

After a moment, Belatrix gives up. Her puzzlement shifts into anger. “Is your mother a liar, then? Or are you the liar, Nikolaos?”


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