A Tale of the Ringbearers, by Brother Grimace

(Note: This follows the Ringbearer fic Camping.)

"It's almost dawn," Robert Nelson said, turning his head to see Daria Morgendorffer as she stood beside him, her hand soft in his own. "Do you really want me to do this? It's kind of corny..."

"Ever since Archangel mentioned it, I've wanted to hear it," Daria said, looking up at her boyfriend. "But I want to hear you say it. I want to hear you recite it in the proper way – as you recharge your Ring."

"The people who called you 'misery chick' have no idea, do they?" Robert said, smiling as he leaned down to kiss Daria. "They have no idea just how much or a classic romantic you really are."

"You rescued me and my best friend from vulgar rogues who were after our virtue," Daria said, taking on the accent and manner of a 'Southern belle' as she spoke. "You swept me off my feet – literally, you saved my daddy, impressed my mother with your chivalrous nature and your culinary skill, and you even rescued a helpless beast and returned it to the precious child who was missing her pet. A classic gentleman such as yourself brings out the romantic nature of a girl."

"If it wasn't for the fact that my ring wouldn't let me go 'splat' – I'd jump off the top of this Trump-sized crystal," a familiar voice spoke from behind, and the young couple turned to see Jane Lane standing behind them. "You know – there's a word for when you two get together to whisper sweet nothings to one another. 'Ipecac'."

"Don't start, Lane," Daria said, smiling sweetly as she refused to turn around to face her best friend. "Alyssa gave me the run-through on the thing the Rings can do, remember? I know why the seismographs at Lawndale State University have been reporting that small earth-tremors - around 2 or 3 on the Richter scale – have been occurring with some regularity in the Lawndale area... with the epicenter always in the vicinity of your neighborhood."

Jane's eyebrows raised, but she said nothing as Daria continued on. "I guess that explains why Quinn's been going to so many sleepovers lately, and I keep finding hairs about your length and shade on her clothes in the hamper when she comes back."

Daria's smile widened – but Robert stepped away, and was immediately pulled back by Daria – as Jane blushed a violent red. "You know, if you two hadn't told her, she wouldn't have recognized the Ring... and then, Alyssa wouldn't have assigned me to do her 'Tiger Cruise'."

Daria wasn't letting her off the hook just yet. "No one said that you had to get – creative – in showing her the roper, so to speak."

Jane decided to end it. "Do your parents know just how I found out about you, Robert and his Ring?"

The sudden explosion of color that was Daria's body-wide blush brought a triumphant grin to Jane's face. "Truce?"

Barely able to look in Jane's direction (as Jane didn't bother to lower her voice, and more than a few of the other Ringbearers present weren't even bothering to pretend that they weren't listening in), Daria's blush deepened as she mumbled, "I hate you. Truce."

The three young people stood on top of Tower One, Beacon Terra One – one of the two towers that made up the colossal multi-dimensional communications array that allowed Ringbearers to communicate throughout the various dimensions they traveled to – and Daria looked around to see that over a hundred Ringbearers had also gathered on top of the Tower's observation deck, over 2,000 feet in the air above the surface of Ringbearer Command Headquarters on Nova Valdris.

Daria glanced over to the second tower, a good one hundred meters away, to see that a similar crowd was gathered on the opposite observation deck as well. "Look – it's almost time," she said, as the very edge of the horizon was aglow with a reddish-gold color. "It's beautiful..."

"It's time," a tall, slender man with a strong Italian accent to his English spoke, raising his right hand into the air so that his Defender Ring was visible. "Any moment now..."

Daria stepped away from the group and stood against the safety barrier-wall that ringed the observation deck, her eyes on Robert and Jane as they, along with all of the other Ringbearers, lifted their Ring-hands into the air-

Light exploded over the horizon, and Daria couldn't help but to look across the deck, a tingle of excitement and awe going up her back as she watched the compliment of Ringbearers – human, alien and animal - recite their Creed:

We are the Ringbearers
We are the light that drives back the darkness
We are the wall that no evil can breach
We are the staff and the sword that shall defend life
We are the fire that will light the way to tomorrow
Our Rings are Forever. We are Forever.

As they spoke in unison, each and every Defender Ring glowed a brilliant, spectacular blue; the light building upon itself as each Ring drank in the light of the Sun, growing more and more powerful, driving away the darkness...

The light of the recharging Rings, on both Towers of Beacon Terra One could be seen from miles and miles away as it lit up the morning sky.

Through it all, Daria stood and watched with eyes wide, suddenly feeling very proud of her boyfriend, and her best friend.