*Disclaimer note: This is merely a translation of the original Chinese version. I do not claim any part in the creation of the original story.
After running for about half an hour – with the help of a Divine Wings on myself – I finally found them.
I had thought that they'd be further away; I hadn't realised that they were already so close…… I broke out in a cold sweat at the thought. They probably would have caught up to me if I had spent a moment or two more talking with Ecilan!
But as I approached them, I realised that they had settled down for the night; their camp fire looked to have been raised some time ago.
'Why not continue the chase if they were already so close?' I wondered. But for now, I cast a Holy Protection spell on myself as I observed them, ready to run away at the slightest hint of danger.
To my surprise, the holy knights weren't what I was expecting. Instead of the 'strong, handsome and elegant holy knights' image I had built up in my mind after Caecilia's constant drilling into my mind, they were instead sprawled out clumsily all over the camp area; some were leaning against the trees, some had laid out on the dirty ground and some were even slumped against each other. Sprawled out as they were in their various positions, one could easily tell that they were exhausted.
Each holy knight looked exactly the same. Dirty and tired and sleeping like a log. I couldn't tell which one was the Blaze Knight!
And it's unthinkable that they hadn't even set up a guard to keep watch!
The only ones still awake were Caecilia and Yuna who sat in the midst of the 'fallen' holy knights, looking rather tired themselves. But when compared with the knights lying all around them they looked practically wide awake.
But no matter how wide awake they are, the holy knights couldn't have left those two outsiders to stand guard, could they?
This scene before me seemed rather suspicious. If I was someone who couldn't care less about Caecilia and Yuna's lives and just rained down a number of lightning bolts on them, I might even have successfully sent these 'living, breathing gods' to meet the real gods.
I approached slowly, the stench of unwashed bodies and dried sweat hitting me; it's a wonder that Caecilia and Yuna managed to sit there calmly in the midst of this stench where it's most definitely the strongest.
Just then, Caecilia appeared to have noticed me, for she was staring at me in shock and suspicion, but hesitating to call out. Around us, not a single holy knight stirred; none of them seemed to have sensed the intruder amongst their midst.
I walked out from the cover of the trees under the wide-eyed gaze of Caecilia. I hurriedly lifted a finger to my lips and even dispersed the holy aura from around my face, but still she stared at me in suspicion, not seeming to have recognised me. But why? I'd already dispersed the elements hiding my true face, so she should recognise me……
Just then, I suddenly remembered Ecilan's insistence that I wear a full mask. Could it be……?
I removed the mask.
Caecilia's eyes widened in surprise, before she let out a breath of relief. She then nudged Yuna, alerting her to my presence. Yuna had originally been facing the campfire with her back to me. When she turned around and saw me, she nearly let out a sound of surprise, but managed to cover her mouth in time, stopping the sound from escaping.
I couldn't help noting that whenever they looked at me, their faces would always be turned towards me…… No, it was not their faces, but their eyes that must be facing me.
Why are they different from me? I don't need to face anything, nor do I need to use my eyes to see anything. I can see in all directions just fine without needing to turn my head.
So, when Ecilan said that I was blind…… I softly patted at the area around my eyes. So, I really can't 'see' anything? But, I'm definitely seeing something, I'm just using a different method from everyone else.
Different from everyone else…… just who am I?
I hesitated for a moment before putting back on the mask. I somehow felt more secure at the thought that no one could see my face.
"Creus," Caecilia scurried over to me and whispered, "What are you doing here?"
"They're too fast; they're almost catching up to me. Why haven't you guys slowed them down?" I asked her instead.
She rolled her eyes and whispered back, "You have no idea how scary the Blaze Knight is. He threatened to leave us behind if we dared to even breathe a single word. Even when we pleaded that a necromancer was after us, he still refused to soften towards us……"
"Has he left you behind?"
She glared at me and huffed, "Of course not."
"Well then, if he was going to leave you two behind, why would he bother to say it? He's just got a sharp tongue but I bet he's a softy inside-…"
"And how would you know?" she shot back. "He just might do as he threatened! You've never seen him when he's in one of his moods, it's really frightening! The Blaze Knight is known as the fiercest amongst the Twelve Holy Knights, you know."
I was about to say that of course I knew that, when I stopped abruptly. Why would I think that? Why 'of course'? It's not like I really know the Blaze Knight. For all I know, he might really leave the two of them behind. After all, he hadn't wanted to bring them along in the first place, right?
"You finally took the bait."
I gave a start at that, as the dirt beside me blew up and from below came out a person. This person's fire and holy aura was so much stronger than the rest of the holy knights, so it was a surprise that I hadn't noticed him…… I had already known that Ecilan's holy aura was very much stronger than normal, so as another of the Twelve Holy Knights, the Blaze Knight's holy aura couldn't have been the same as the other ordinary holy knights!
I then further realised that those holy knights slumped all around…… there were only seven of them!
The Blaze Knight had placed his huge broadsword at my neck, but I ignored it. I tried to hide the shaking in my voice as I tried my best to speak in a steady manner. "Why did you trick me?" I asked Caecilia and Yuna.
They looked at me and tried to say something, but stuttered and couldn't form a complete sentence.
They couldn't have not known that the Blaze Knight wasn't amongst the holy knights, yet they gave me no hint or warning! In fact, they had even played along with his trick!
The Blaze Knight suddenly gave a mirthless laugh. "Ha, ha! This is the first time someone actually ignored my presence! Well, to show my respect of your bravery, I'll give you a painless death!"
At that, I finally turned my attention to the Blaze Knight and said indifferently, "That's fine, but I hope you won't mind your seven holy knights coming along me."
The Blaze Knight gave a little jerk before shouting, "What did you say?"
"Even though they are only pretending to be asleep, their exhaustion isn't faked." I gave a cold laugh at this. "They were so tired that they didn't even notice me using Chains of Darkness to tie them down until too late. And they've completely missed the bone spikes I had prepared below ground aimed directly at their hearts!"
The Blaze Knight turned to look around and sure enough, he saw his holy knights struggling within their chains but unable to get free.
Surprisingly, he didn't look worried, but instead shouted at his own knights angrily, "Get yourselves free! What the hell are you guys playing at?! To let yourselves become hostages, don't you know the meaning of the word 'shame'?!"
"We-we've tried, captain, but we can't get loose!" one of the knights shouted.
The Blaze Knight was surprised by this, and after a few moments, I said to him slowly, "So, Jacques, are you going to let me go or not?"
He immediately turned to me and asked in puzzlement, "What did you call me?"
"Chains of Darkness!" I roared out, and immediately hundreds of thick black chains sprung up around the Blaze Knight and tightened around him. There, we now have a second cocoon to join Ecilan.
However, the Blaze Knight wasn't ruffled by this turn of events and merely gave a cold derisive laugh. "Using dark magic against one of the Twelve Holy Knights? You might as well try to evaporate a river with a matchstick!"
"Lightning!" I cried out, this time unleashing the unicorn's specialty – lightning magic, and threw all of them at the chained Blaze Knight.
Anyone else would have died from the shock of all that electricity, but not the Blaze Knight. He gave a soft grunt before quickly unleashing his light magic in an attempt to destroy the Chains of Darkness, but the moment he had them destroyed, I immediately added on more chains, throwing in several shots of lightning at the same time…… After several rounds of this, the man was still able to stop from letting out any hints of the unbearable pain he must be experiencing. After this impressive display of strength and perseverance, I had to concede that they certainly lived up to the description of 'living breathing gods'. This guy just doesn't seem human.
"Such strong dark elements, who are you?" he asked in suspicion.
My heart gave a jolt at that, for I am the one who wants to know the answer to that question the most!
But instead, I asked in a forced calm voice, "Ecilan said that I'm the Sun Knight. Do you believe that?"
The Blaze Knight immediately let out an enormous burst of light energy, disintegrating all the chains in an instant. Thankfully, the chains on the rest of the holy knights remained intact, so I still had my hostages.
He gave me a derisive snort. "You're trying to distract me by spouting nonsense in order to subdue me!"
He then suddenly charged towards me; caught by surprise, it took me a moment to remember to remind him of the hostages I still had in my hands, but that moment was all he needed, for before I could say a word, he had already closed the distance between us and was standing less than a meter away from me.
"Whoa, hold on! Don't be rash now, don't you care about your holy knights?"
"You wouldn't dare kill them!" He roared as he grabbed me and dragged me closer. "I don't know how you managed to subdue Frost, but it must have been through underhanded trickery. But you are mistaken if you think that I am like Frost and will play by your rules and get tricked by you! I don't care about anything else except to beat you to an inch of your life, you meddling bastard!"
Meddling? I blinked at that description before blurting out, "Oh that's right, you're looking for the Sun Knight, right? But Ecilan really told me that I'm the Sun Knight--"
"Shut up!!" roared the Blaze Knight. "You are not the Sun Knight! You cannot possibly be the Sun Knight!!"
'Can't possibly? I see……'
I asked him woodenly, "I can't possibly be the Sun Knight, huh. So, Ecilan lied to me?"
"Don't you dare besmirch Sun's name!! Sun isn't trash like you! And he would never have harmed a single holy knight, never!!"
And with that, he swung his broadsword at me. At the same time, more Chains of Darkness sprung around his arms, stopping him, but with a flash of holy light the chains disintegrated again once more. But even so, that one moment was enough for me to escape his grasp.
I hurriedly backed several large steps whilst shouting out, "Bone Prison!"
From out of the ground shot out eerie ivory spikes which formed into a grimy-looking white wall, but the Blaze Knight merely cleaved open the wall with his sword.
'Bone Prison!' I added several more layers of the white boned walls between us as I warned him, "Stop! Don't come any closer unless you want to see your holy knights die!"
I tightened the chains on the holy knights, but other than startling a few grunts out of them in the beginning, they kept their mouths clenched tightly, not letting another peep out of them. However, just that one grunt was enough, and the Blaze knight stopped his attacks indeed, although he did look close to exploding.
Even though this fellow acted indifferent to their plight and was constantly challenging me to kill them off, it was obvious that he still cared for them. The moment he heard their groans of pain—no, no. It wasn't even a groan, but more like a soft grunt – he immediately stopped all attacks on me.
But anyway, since I'm not the Sun Knight after all, it shouldn't matter if I were to harm the holy knights, or even if I were to kill the Blaze Knight, right?
"You," I pointed at the Blaze Knight. "Stab yourself with your sword."
His eyes widened in disbelief when he heard that.
"Creus, please don't do this," cried Yuna. "They're only trying to get back the Frost Knight."
"And you believe him just like that?" I asked her mockingly whilst I formed dozens of sharp blades out of bone to hang above the holy knights.
"Stop it!!" roared the Blaze Knight as he raised his fiery broadsword, but his anger and actions immediately halted when I placed a blade to one of the holy knights' neck.
'I knew I had the right person!' I smiled in satisfaction. Since the beginning, I had noticed that this holy knight was the one to answer all of the Blaze Knight's questions; I knew that he would be different from the rest of the holy knights.
"Creus! Please don't!" Yuna sounded close to tears. "Please let them go! The Blaze Knight is one of the Twelve Holy Knights, they never lie! He really just wants to rescue the Frost Knight…--"
Yuna's pleas suddenly trailed off.
A shot of pain flared through me from my back, and I belatedly realised that an arrow was sticking out of it. And standing not too far away was Caecilia with her bow in her hands.
The Blaze Knight took the opportunity to swing his broadsword at me, and I tried to step back to avoid it, but the sword managed to cut me, carving a long deep gash starting from my left shoulder across my chest towards my right hip.
Another pain flared through my abdomen as I was kicked down and sent sprawling to the ground. He then kept me down, pressing his knee to my abdomen whilst holding his fiery broadsword at my neck.
But really, I could have told him that that wasn't necessary at all, for I ached so much that I couldn't have stood even if I tried. I couldn't concentrate through all the pain to gather any dark elements to me either. What a pity I hurt so bad that I couldn't even open my mouth to tell him that.
Caecilia and Yuna ran over to me. Caecilia – the same person who had just shot an arrow at me – was now anxiously pleading with the Blaze Knight. "You promised you wouldn't kill him, Blaze Knight!"
"That's why he's still alive," he said coldly without even bothering to look at the two women.
I smiled wryly. I thought the reason I was still alive was because I had managed to step back a little…… so, what? To the Blaze Knight, this is letting me off leniently?
"But-but……" stuttered Caecilia. She then gave up and turned to me. "I'm sorry, Creus. Just don't make any moves; the Blaze Knight won't hurt you."
'Oh really?' I thought sarcastically. 'Short of killing me, I really don't know what else the Blaze Knight could do to hurt me any more.'
"Let's see this bastard looks like," I heard him roar before a hand was reaching over to tear the mask of my face.
I suddenly stopped struggling and let him. I wanted him to take a good look at my face and see once and for all if I really was the Sun Knight or not. Even if I really wasn't, even if they would now have a face to put to my wanted poster; I just stopped caring anymore.
'Tell me, am I, or am I not? Was Ecilan really lying to me?'
The Blaze Knight's eyes widened in shock.
'You are really the Sun Knight?'
Or is it: 'You're that necromancer that's been wanted for ……'
Just what is to follow after that one word 'you'?
Well, I'll never know, for one minute the Blaze Knight was looming over me, and the next he was gone. I clenched my eyes shut and covered them with my hands, as if this could block out what I could already sense.
"Why?!" I cried out in anguish. "Why did you have to pick now of all times to take me away?!"
I scrambled up and shouted at the little girl, but ended up coughing up a mouthful of blood. Everything started to go blurry before a deep black darkness fell over me. But just before I slipped away into the dark abyss, I could faintly hear the soft pitying voice of a girl saying, "Because they're lying to you, Creus. They're all lying to you."
'Ah, so not only did Ecilan, Caecilia and Yuna lie to me, now even the Blaze Knight is lying to me too?'
'But then, doesn't that mean that everyone is lying to me?'