*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.
"Sun should be fine, right? His recovery ability has always been the best……"
"Did you not see his face when he collapsed? He looked no better than a dead corpse!"
'How rude! Who said that?! I'm much better looking than a dead corpse!'
I wanted to flip over, but my body felt so heavy, so I gave up and continued sleeping.
"You grace, will Sun really be alright? But he hasn't moved in two days……"
'Oh? I see. I haven't moved in two days…… No wonder my butt hurts. Why didn't anyone help to flip me over?! Oh, and what if my trousers were to get creased?! The perfect Sun Knight's pants getting creased…… how can I let that get out?!'
Fearing that my pants would get even more creased, I wriggled diligently to smoothen it out. But that little move had spent me out of all my energy, and so I fell asleep once more, ignoring the startled cries around me. All the while never once opening my eyes…
"What should we do? Sun has been unconscious for five days now, if this continues, he might die from lack of nourishment……"
"I said, everyone get out!"
Following that order was a lot of outraged cries, fighting sounds, arguing voices, etc. How noisy!
'Do you guys not see the severely injured patient resting here?! Keep the noise down!'
I flipped over in irritation, turning my back to all the commotion, and continued to sleep……
"Sun! Get up!"
I pressed my face into the pillow and continued sleeping.
"Creus Sun! Get up, right now!"
I suddenly stiffened…… 'Creus?'
Ahh… It's been a long time since someone had last spoken my name, I've almost forgotten that I was called Creus.
Ever since I officially became the Sun Knight, everyone just calls me Sun. You see, after becoming one of the Twelve Holy Knights, our last names are changed to our individual titles – for example, my last name became Sun. But actually, each of us still has our own names; it's just that people hardly call us by our real names anymore.
Because I rarely hear their names, I've forgotten most of their real names; for instance, I can never remember the Leaf knight's name…… was it 'elderberry'? Or 'strawberry'?
But to call out my full name, looks like Leithe Judge is angry for real. If I don't get up now, I may never wake up again……
Reluctantly, I opened my eyes and said my first sentence in five days hoarsely, "Will it kill you to let me sleep for just a while longer?"
Judge's ever stiff expression sagged in relief and he chuckled. He shook his head as if to say, 'What can I do against you?' before bringing over a bowl of fish porridge to me. Oh, I see he had remembered to add my favourite herb - parsley!
My stomach rumbled hungrily at that heavenly smell.
Instantly, I bounced out of bed and lunged for the bowl hungrily……
Before I could snatch it over, Judge had moved it away from my reach.
"Leithe Judge!" I cried out mournfully to him.
Judge calmly brought over the bowl while saying, "Take your time and eat slowly. Remember, you've only had some glucose drink to sustain you for the past five days. You might get yourself sick if you eat too quickly."
I took over the bowl and ate slowly to appease him.
"Actually I shouldn't have added the parsley. You should be eating bland foods that are easy on the stomach," mumbled Judge as he frowned. "But if I didn't do so, you'd probably refuse to eat some tasteless porridge."
'You really know me all too well! Who would want to eat plain porridge!'
While waiting for me to finish my porridge, Judge took out some official documents and started going through them. 'Sigh… you sure don't waste any time, do you?'
After finishing the bowl of porridge and gulping down a whole bottle of water, my hunger and thirst for the past five days was finally satisfied.
Seeing that I'm done, Judge put away the documents and looked at me, waiting.
Knowing what he was silently asking, I told him all about my visit with Pink and the following incidents thereafter.
Of course, no one is supposed to know that the necromancer and I are in cahoots…… oops! Sorry, I mean - that we are acquainted with each other. However, Judge is my best friend and I've never hidden anything from him, so naturally he was aware of Pink's existence.
After listening to my story, Judge kept silent, deep in thought. I, on the other hand, reached down under my bed, searching for something…… I remembered stashing a large chunk of jerky under my bed, so where is it now? Ah - ha! Found it.
I ate the enormous piece of jerky while looking closely at Judge's expression. His face is usually set in a stern expression - similar to how mine always has a smile on - but when in private, all kinds of expressions would come out. Take for example how I had stuck up my butt in the air while searching under my bed just now. How elegant do you think that was?
Judge looked up with at me with some uncertainty, but the moment he caught sight of me eating the piece of jerky, his expression turned thunderous as he snatched it from me. "Are you crazy?!"
"But I'm really, really hungry…" I pouted at him.
"I'll get more porridge for you later," he said unsympathetically, keeping away my jerky instead of giving it back to me.
"I've taken a look at the sword you brought back with you," he said, cutting directly to the point.
I tilted my head in thought, 'he must be talking about the one I had taken from the knight, back at the execution grounds.'
"And? Have you found out to whom it belonged to?"
"The sword had the Ceylan family's insignia on it - an orchid. Only a high levelled knight could have wound you like that, and there are not many of them. Within the Ceylan household, there are only three knights who meet these criteria - the Duke of Ceylan's third son, as well as two other knights pledged to the Ceylan family."
"But which one was it?" I pressed further. I believe that Judge is capable of finding out almost everything just from examining the sword.
Judge kept silent for a moment before speaking, "The duke's third son. His allegiance is to the Crown Prince."
I, too, became silent before asking hopefully, "You sure it's the duke's third son and not anyone else?"
The question I really wanted to ask was, 'is the crown prince really the culprit between all this?'
Only a direct order from their liege could have made a knight who placed such importance on honour do something as despicable as disposing a body in secret. If the duke's third son's pledged lord is the crown prince, then there could be no doubt as to who had really tortured the Death Knight.
Judge nodded his head and said, "It couldn't possibly be the other two knights. One was in another country that day, while the other was patrolling the city. There are many other knights with him that day who could attest to this."
"The crown prince…… torturing a person to death?" I muttered strangely. This just didn't seem like something the responsible and kind crown prince would do.
The room suddenly grew quiet and oppressive. If it really was the crown prince, what could we even do about it? Even if there was irrefutable proof that the crown prince was guilty of the crime, could we really send the country's only heir to the guillotines?
"Outside the temple……" Judge suddenly spoke up haltingly, before stopping.
I looked at Judge. I had thought he was acting rather strangely today.
Usually, when the both of us are alone, he would drop his stern look and smile - although he looks quite funny when he does so. His smiles are quite stiff, you see; I guess it's because he doesn't get many opportunities to smile.
But today, he might have smiled a little initially, but it had looked forced. I can tell - it had looked exactly like my smiles.
I looked at him and he looked back at me. A strange atmosphere grew around us, one that I had never before felt between us.
"Damn it……" I raked a hand through my golden hair in frustration before giving him a hard look. "If you've got something to say then say it! Don't try to hide it from me, or else I will no longer acknowledge you in the future."
Judged hesitated for a moment, but at the dark look in my eyes, he sighed and said, "The whole city's filled with rumours saying that you had tortured the Death Knight to death."
I stiffened at this, but Judge continued on. "Because of this the Pope has given us new orders to forget about the investigation and to instead start slandering the Death Knight. We are to announce that he was a criminal of the worst sort who was caught by you, and that when he could not be persuaded to show remorse for his crimes, he was sentence to death by me.
"The reason why he would have a grudge with you was because you were the one who had originally caught him," said Judge calmly, as if it was only the weather we were talking about and not the slandering of a possibly innocent man.
But this is so obviously a lie!
I was enraged. I do not know if it was anger for the poor Death Knight who has become a victim of circumstances; or perhaps it was because I had been forced to drag myself out to investigate in my weakened state, and nearly killing myself in the process - only to get a notice saying that the investigation was to be discarded!
I felt such great burning anger seething inside of me, threatening to engulf me in its flames; but strangely my limbs felt so cold, freezing even, as I broke out in a cold sweat.
"Calm down," Judge said in concern when he noticed my state, patting my shoulder comfortingly.
I shoved away his hand violently, this action causing the both of us to freeze for a moment.
He retracted his hand slowly and kept quiet, but I couldn't hold it in anymore and burst out, "Do even you believe that I'm responsible for that knight's death?"
The Judge Knight stared down dazedly before looking back at me and said, "I believe in proof."
My face darkened upon hearing this.
Judge elaborated, "Right now, it is possible that the crown prince had killed the Death Knight, before ordering a knight loyal to him to dispose of the body at the execution grounds......"
"But, it could also have been me, isn't that right?" I interrupted sharply. When Judge didn't deny my words, I got even angrier and shouted, "After all, the only person the Death Knight has mentioned so far was me! You have only my side of the story of the incident at the execution grounds, and a sword I had brought back with me. I could have made the whole thing up! Perhaps I was thinking of shifting the blame onto the crown prince, and since no one would want to further investigate the crown prince, this case would be closed, isn't that right, Judge Knight?!"
My chest heaved up and down after my rant. I could feel an ache in my chest; was it just because I was getting tired? Or was it my anger trying to burn its way out? I do not know.
After a long while, Judge finally spoke just one sentence, "It's possible."
"Damn you!" I yelled furiously.
My expression cold, I got up from my bed and went over to my wardrobe, took out my cloak before looking at my Holy Sun Blade hesitatingly. I was considering taking it out but then decided against it. After all, it wasn't like I had any confirmed plan. I only wanted to get away from here and Judge!
"Sun, where are you going? You still haven't fully recovered--" Judge had stood up too, looking disapprovingly at me.
"I'm going to see Pink." I interrupted him and then mocked, "If you want to, you can add 'consorting with necromancers' to my list of crimes."
"You - " Judge was getting angry too.
'Oh, dear!' I thought nervously. I hadn't meant to slip out that last sentence. Now Judge has gotten angry……
'Oh! I don't care! So what if he's angry? I'm even angrier!'
I grabbed the cloak and headed out, deciding to discuss the events with Pink, when I suddenly remembered something and turned back to Judge. "Under no circumstances is anyone allowed to spread the Pope's ridiculous rumours. I will find out the truth."
Again, Judge went silent at my words. I felt a little nervous, because in the past, this best friend had agreed to all my demands - among which many were rather random and unreasonable - with no questions asked. Taking my place in fights, helping me to investigate a case, helping me to get even with someone…… Yet now he keeps quiet…… 'Oh dear, I really shouldn't have angered him,' I thought.
Fortunately, Judge was more forgiving than I thought, for after turning it over in his head for a moment, he replied, "I can only suppress it for three days, at most."
"Very well! Three days it is." I agreed before I put on my cloak and left my room.
"Hey boss, give me your biggest, sweetest, pink, strawberry flavoured lollipop!"
I tossed out a silver coin and got back in return a lollipop even bigger than my head. Straight away, I regretted my actions. What was I doing, trying to act cool? Now my retirement fund has decreased by one silver coin!
My heart heavy with regret, I trudged over to Pink's house. I don't know if she knew I was coming or if she was just enjoying some sun, but when I reached her place she was already outside staring hungrily at the huge lollipop I held. Her drooling saliva was enough to fill as many as three buckets full.
She rushed towards me but I quickly lifted it out of her reach, causing the tiny necromancer to jump around me trying to reach the lollipop. In the end, she gave up and pouted at me, clasped her little hands together and knelt in front of me, looking at me pleadingly.
"Has the Death Knight been here?" I asked, waving the lollipop.
Pink swallowed a mouthful of saliva and said, "Yes."
Ah - ha! Looks like we're getting somewhere.
"Does he still listen to your orders?"
"He's never listened to my orders. Death Knights are rarely obedient. I told him to sweep and mop the floor, and to wipe the tables, but he completely ignored me." Pink pouted.
Asking a Death knight to sweep and mop…… Alright, fine. Even the Sun Knight runs errands for her and buys her lollipops. Ordering a Death Knight to clean shouldn't be so surprising.
"Oh yeah! Sun, don't go provoking him, he's really strong right now. You can't beat him."
I looked at her strangely. This indifferent little necromancer who's afraid of nothing, is asking me to avoid the Death Knight?
Pink mumbled, "If you are cut into tiny pieces by him, even I would have trouble reviving you. Then I won't have my apprentice anymore."
She then tugged at my cloak and asked me eagerly, "When are you going to become my apprentice?"
"When I'm dead."
Don't mistake this sentence for a refusal!
A few years back when I was unable to complete my mission, I had foolishly turned to Pink for help. Of course, she wasn't going to help me out for free, so I promised to give her things in return for each time she helped - lollipops, beautiful pink frocks, a pair of good - looking male and female corpses……I had to go digging around several graveyards for ten nights, looking for corpses fitting those requirements.
In the end when I had nothing left to offer, I actually went ahead and offered my 'dead self'.
Ever since, I hardly dared to ask for her help any more, afraid that I would lose even my 'alive self' to her.
"What is that Death Knight's unfulfilled obsession?" I asked, waving the lollipop high up in the air. I intended to make full use of that one silver coin that I had spent.
Pink looked at the lollipop before reluctantly saying, "Don't know, he won't say."
"How about who his murderer is?"
Pink gave me a strange look and said matter-of-factly, "Duh, wasn't that you?"
"I didn't kill him!!" I shouted angrily.
"Oh, I see… so it wasn't you……" Pink glanced everywhere else but me, not looking like she believed me at all.
'This brat…' I grinded my teeth, wishing I could bite her instead. But, of course, I didn't really do so. I'd probably die from food-poisoning from eating rotten flesh if I actually bit her!
And besides, I still need her to clear my name. So, I smiled at her my most innocent, most misunderstood and hurt smile - guaranteed to arouse that mothering instinct hidden within all women and to generate sympathy for me.
Sure enough, Pink looked at me with an intense look in her eyes, rushed to me with her arms outstretched, looking like she wanted to give me a hug, and then she…… snatched the lollipop from me.
So, the brat was eyeing the lollipop! I had forgotten to hold it up and she had taken the opportunity to snatch it away!
With the lollipop now gone, I wondered if she would still agree to help me. 'Don't tell me I have no choice but to sell of 'my alive self'!' I thought as I slumped to the ground, depressed.
Pink crouched down beside me licking her new lollipop. She then patted my arm comfortingly and said, "Don't get so depressed, Sun. If it really wasn't you then just find out who the real culprit is."
"Easier said than done." I rolled my eyes at her. "It seems that the crown prince is involved in it. I can't just go up to the duke's third son and ask: 'Hey, was it the crown prince who did it?'"
Pink tilted her head and thought it over. "Then just kidnap him here, and I'll interrogate him for you for free!"
"……Which do you think would be worse? Torturing a guy to death, or consorting with necromancers?"
Pink looked at me as if to say 'One really cannot make a horn of a pig's tail' and shook her head, sighing. "Are you stupid? Can't you just cover up your face and be done with it?"
I was sorely tempted to do as she had suggested, for Pink could make anyone talk. It would save me a lot of effort……
But wait a minute! That duke's third son is a pretty strong knight in his own right! With my holy spells and my Holy Sun Blade, I could probably defeat him, but I can't guarantee that I can get him alive!
Besides, someone in the duke's household would come running to help him. I definitely can't defeat all of them!
"He's too strong, and he's bound to have a lot of guards around him, I can't kidnap him." I said, feeling even more depressed than ever.
"Says who? You're the one person I acknowledged worthy of becoming my apprentice!" Disagreed Pink. She grabbed my arm and dragged me into her house. Now, she may look like a little girl, but she's as strong as an ox! I was unable to break her grip on me and could do nothing but follow her in.
Sob, sob! Being dragged by a little girl half my height is horrible! As much as two thirds of my body was being dragged along the ground……
She dragged me into the house and slammed the door behind us, before releasing me and running to a large chest. As she rummaged through the chest - carelessly throwing around various things - her 'cleaner corpse' dutifully picking up her mess after her.
I stared blankly after her. When a pair of lacy panties landed on my head, I couldn't hold in my curiosity any longer and asked, "What are you looking for?"
"Found it!" She exclaimed - just after I had asked my question - before removing from the chest a badge the size of my hand.
I then stared at her blankly as she scurried over and slapped the badge onto my chest. I looked down and examined the badge. It was black with silver trimmings in the shape of a dragon; simple yet beautiful. It made a great accessory.
But I knew that nothing Pink owned was as it seemed. Except her lollipops, of course. There are five categories for Pink's belongings: dangerous, very dangerous, extremely dangerous, capable-of-destroying-the-world dangerous…… and not dangerous at all.
"What is it ?" I asked nervously. I still don't know which category this badge falls into!
Pink had pricked my finger with her sharp nails and held the badge under it, letting a few drops of my blood fall onto it. The badge suddenly glowed softly, and I understood that the glow signified the badge's acceptance of my ownership.
There are many various objects which require drops of blood - or in some cases, a magic ritual - to let the object recognise its owner, before allowing you full use of them.
My Holy Sun Blade is one such prime example. I had to undergo an extremely complicated ritual and had spent a lot of my blood to switch ownership of the sword from my teacher to me. Only after going through said ritual was I able to access its full powers. To any other person holding it, they would only be able to wield it as they would an ordinary sword.
One thing these objects all have in common is that they are precious, valuable and expensive!
Not even a whole vault of gold could necessarily get you one of these treasures, yet here I was, casually given one of them. I had to admit that I felt quite touched by Pink's generous gesture.
When I looked at her, I could tell that Pink was feeling a little discomfited by the ceremony. After all, my blood is well known to be one of the holiest things in the world, and absolutely lethal to all Dark creatures.
"All done!" Pink let out a deep breath and quickly retracted her hand, dropping the badge into my lap. I picked it up curiously and asked, "What is this?"
Pink looked at me mischievously and instructed, "Shout out: 'Dragon's Holy Robe, in the name of the dragon's successor, I order you to activate!'"
I looked at the badge a little sceptically, 'I wonder which god had designed such an old - fashioned incantation……'
Well, I'm sure Pink won't harm me. I mean, if she had wanted to she could have easily done so without needing to go through all this hassle. So, I began chanting, "Dragon's Holy Robe, in the name of the dragon's successor, I order you to activate!"
The moment the words left my mouth, the badge trembled and floated up, emitting a silvery glow which became stronger and stronger until I had to close my eyes from the glare. Eyes closed, I could feel something - probably the badge - attach itself to my chest before growing bigger and bigger until it had enveloped my whole body.
To be honest, I was feeling extremely nervous. For all I know, this badge could be capable-of-destroying-the-world dangerous, but it was a little too a late to do anything now.
"Wow. Wow! Sun, you have such a great body!" I heard Pink exclaiming.
'Huh? I have a great body? I'm not naked, am I?!'
I quickly opened my eyes and looked down. Phew! Luckily I didn't see anything that looked like naked flesh. But my clothes had turned into a skin-tight black outfit, moulding to my figure and leaving nothing to the imagination…… No wonder Pink had said that I had a great body.
The black outfit had a light covering of silver armour protecting my chest and other important places, and even the boots were of a silver metal. At a closer look, I realized that the armour was actually made of many interlocking scales as small as my thumbnail , becoming a strong flexible armour that wouldn't hinder my movements at all.
"This is a magnificent piece of work……" I couldn't help admiring. But halfway through my sentence I suddenly realised that my voice had changed, no, more like I was speaking through something.
I curiously walked over to the only mirror in the house and looked at my reflection. A cool looking guy wearing a black skin-tight outfit and silver armour looked back at me. Especially with the streaks of silver in my black hair, I was dastardly handsome, capable of stealing the hearts of eight year old girls and eighty year old grandmas alike …… w-wait a minute! Streaks of silver amongst black hair?
I was stunned.
"Ahh---!!! My hair, its changed colours! My golden hair! Ahh!! I'm going to lose my job, I can't be the Sun Knight anymore! Nooo--! I don't want to become depressed over losing my job and have to join the God of Light!"
The handsome man capable of stealing the hearts of eight year old girls and eighty year old grandmas alike screamed while grabbing his beautiful black and silver hair.
"How noisy," said Pink, calmly licking her lollipop.
"OK, so its 300 ml of blood to change once, and it lasts for three hours. Every additional hour is another 200 ml of blood. I would advise you to go for five hours at the very most, or else you might very well die from blood loss."
Why does it sound like it is being put to work, and that I'm paying its wages in blood……
"However, after returning to your original appearance, you have to wait for another 24 hours before you can use it again."
And I even have to give it break times. Only working five hours a day, isn't that a little too little……?
"After you've changed forms, your defence doubles, your strength increases by 60%, you can jump higher by 50%, and your speed increases by 120%."
What detailed figures, why not just make it simpler and double all of them?
"After adding up all that, Sun, you should be about…… 85% as strong as the Judge Knight!"
'Ergh! You don't have to remind me how bad I am at battling!'
"However with that ridiculously good recovery ability of yours (even better than the undead), as long as you can drag out the fight for three days and three nights, you'll definitely win!"
"……Have you forgotten that this outfit will suck my blood? I would have become a drained corpse within a day or two, let alone three days and three nights!"
"Oh, that's right! I forgot about that…… it's alright! I'll just show you a few necromancy spells then, watch carefully!"
I don't want to! I'm the sun Knight; if people were to hear that I knew black magic, I'd be tied to a stake and burned alive!
…… Eh? I've learned it? Oh God! I've learnt it just by seeing it once?! Nooo--! Don't tell me I'm a priest prodigy, a magician prodigy, and now even a necromancer prodigy?!
"Sun, did you pick becoming a Sun Knight by throwing a dice? That dice god must really hate you……"
Stop talking about it…… sob, sob…!
I spent one hour at Pink's house listening to her explaining the rules of the Dragon's Holy Robe, as well as accidentally picking up a few necromancy spells…… Oh dear! I must take extra care not to accidentally use those spells, or I'll be in big trouble!
When Pink got more and more excited and started breaking out the more advanced spells, I quickly escaped from the little house to avoid becoming an advanced level necromancer.
Sigh… Forget about it! Now, if I can locate the Duke of Ceylan's third son within half an hour, spend another half hour bringing him to a deserted place, and use a further half hour to force the truth from him with the spells Pink just taught me, I should be able to change back within the three hour limit and avoid having to pay out additional blood to this blood-sucking outfit!
It might not seem like a big deal to you, losing just 300 ml of blood, but I've already lost too much blood too many times to remember, these past few days!
So without wasting another moment, I rushed off to look for the duke's third son. By my fist or by my black magic, I will definitely force out the truth from him!