*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.
Roland wasn't very interested in the clothes designs or the cloth's material. If it weren't for the tailor being utterly smitten by his good looks and insisting on picking out his clothes for him, Roland would have just said 'three outfits, here's the deposit' and left without a trace.
But I hadn't expected Roland's lack of interest in the weapons store either. He had simply looked around and carelessly picked a steel sword. Well, I guess that with that demonic sword of his no sword in this ordinary weapons store would attract him. After all, regardless of its heavy dark aura, the sword is actually one of a kind with its amazingly sharp blade.
So at the end of the day we had ended up spending most of our time in the candy store. Pink had bought as many as two bags full of sweets and candies, a quarter of them consisting of strawberry flavoured lollipops alone. And since she had insisted on waiting for the fresh batch of strawberry shortcakes to come out, we didn't even have time for the toy store.
All along the way back to her little house, Pink constantly pestered me, "Toy store, toy store! Please let's go there, just for a while?"
"Next time! It's almost time for me to change back. If I delay it any longer I'm going to be sucked dry by this Dragon's Holy Robe!" I said impatiently.
"Don't be ridiculous!" scoffed Pink. "You had turned out perfectly fine despite bleeding out so much the last time. My goodness, you're even harder to kill than the undead……"
I rolled my eyes at this and ignored her, turning instead to Roland to say, "We didn't have enough time today, but next time I'll bring you somewhere else more interesting."
Roland nodded to that. "Anywhere's fine as long as I can go outdoors once in a while."
Sigh… I don't know if today's outing was really for Roland's sake or Pink's sake. I shall have to bring him to some more interesting places so he won't get bored next time.
I bid goodbye to them and left, maintaining my Sun Knight's smile all the way back. Hah! I'm always the centre of attention no matter where I go, even on such a remote and quiet street. ……but it seems like their stares are a little strange? Is it my clothes? Are they messy or something?
I hurriedly looked down to check, only to see skin-tight black outfit and silver armour…… I'd forgotten to change back!
No wonder everyone was looking at me so, for no matter where you go such an outfit is sure to arouse suspicion. Honestly, what was the creator of this outfit thinking when designing it? How is an assassin supposed to carry out their mission in such a conspicuous outfit? It's even more eye-catching than the brilliant Sun Knight himself!
'Master, this servant is a nocturnal outfit and should be worn during the night time. It may be eye-catching during the day, but it is perfect for concealing one's self in the night.'
I blinked once before realizing that it was just the Dragon's Holy Robe speaking to me once more. I said comfortingly to myself, "It's not my memory that's poor, it's just that no one would be able to get used to their clothes speaking back to them, right? Dragon's Holy Robe, don't speak up unless necessary or you'll give me another fright."
'Yes, Master. This one will not repeat such a mistake again.'
'Oh man, why does it feels like I'm bullying the outfit?... Oh forget it; let's just quickly find a hidden spot to change back before I suffer from excessive blood loss.'
I looked around for a suitable place but instead caught sight of the Sun Knight Division heading in my direction. I quickly hid myself in the shadows and watched as they passed by my hiding spot to enter a pub. Stepping out from the shadows, I looked at the pub that they had entered consideringly.
'A good captain shouldn't eavesdrop on the personal matters of their subordinates…… but then again, when have I ever claimed to be a good captain?'
After clearing that up in my mind, I quickly found a quiet alley and jumped up onto the roof of the pub, trying to locate my Division knights. It wasn't long before I found them in one of the private rooms.
Luckily for me, the building was built from wood and the noise from the pub area outside the private room was quite loud, thus allowing me to cut out a hole in the roof so I could look in and eavesdrop on my holy knights.
I peered through the hole I made and saw all twenty-five of them sitting at a large table, with my vice-captain Adair sitting at the head. Quite a number of dishes were already served on the table.
'Damn it! It smells so good!'
"What should we do, Adair? We can't find a single opportunity to attack him!"
'Attack? Who are they trying to attack?' I thought with a frown.
"Should we report this back to the captain? Maybe the captain wasn't aware of the situation......?"
Adair shook his head in disagreement and said, "We can't do that. Once the captain has given his orders, no matter what we have to carry them out successfully. Or have you forgotten our captain's first lesson?"
The moment he said that the team all looked at each other wryly and then said in perfect unison, "'If I ask you to jump off a cliff, you better jump, or else I will personally push you off the cliff, and throw down a huge rock after you.'"
With that, the holy knights immediately lapsed into laughter, while one of them nudged the knight sitting beside him and asked laughing, "So, Ed, how did it feel being pushed off a cliff and getting squashed by a rock?"
The knight named Ed gave a wry smile and sighed, "In the beginning when we first saw him, the captain looked like such a nice and kind person and not at all bad-tempered, always seen with such a brilliant smile…… Who knew that in actuality if you did not humbly submit yourself to him, you would be bringing down a whole world of pain and suffering unto yourself."
"Well said!" The other Sun holy knights cheered.
'What rubbish! I have never asked anyone to 'humbly submit themselves to me'! This person who said that, he's called Ed, is he? Well, Ed, you'd better watch out, I've noted down your name!'
Just then Adair hurriedly corrected his team members, "Don't say that, the captain is a good person, he's just a little strict with us, that's all……"
The whole Sun Knight Division turned and gave him a look.
Adair looked a little exasperated and added, "and perhaps he's a little strict with anyone who has offended him too……"
Every single person raised an eyebrow in disbelief, as if to say 'stop bullshitting'.
Adair had no choice but to admit, "Alright, he's also strict with anyone who might offend him…… But no matter what you say, it cannot be denied that the captain is a guy loyal to all his friends and teammates!"
"That is true," everyone nodded in agreement.
'Heheh… it's a good thing you had all agreed, or else…… Hmph! You guys dared to talk bad about me behind my back? You guys all better take care, I've already noted down this incident!'
A few of the Dun holy knights shivered and looked around in suspicion. "Why does it suddenly feel so cold?"
"I also feel it too, let's close the windows."
Ed slammed his fist on the table in anger and frustration, saying "However, that guy Jak is such a coward! Not having the guts to fight one-on-one with Adair, how dare he claim himself to be an advanced level knight?"
'Jak?' I frowned. 'Who's that? Don't tell me he's Adair's enemy, and that Adair's using my name to lead the Sun Knight Division in an attack on him to exact his revenge?'
"But Adair, are you sure that the captain is aware that Jak is under the protection of people from the Church of the God of War?"
'The Church of the God of War?' I was shocked. 'No way? My Sun Knight Division has managed to attract trouble from the neighbouring country's Church of War? Isn't this a little too much?'
Adair answered him weakly, "I'm not sure if the captain is aware of it or not, but I am certain that if he was already aware of them, and that we had not carried out his orders but instead went and bothered him with this…… "
'Hey, hey! What has this got to do with me? I don't even know this Jak guy or whoever he is, and I definitely have no idea about all this stuff to do with the Church of War.'
Ed suddenly buried his head in his hands and cried out, "Aaargh! I would rather go against the whole Church of War than to go against the captain and be pushed off a cliff and getting squashed by a huge rock!"
Upon hearing this, the whole room burst into laughter as they all chipped in, crying out stuff like 'let's all go against them', and 'let's cover their heads with bags and rip out their balls'…… and other similar things. I better stop repeating their words or the God of Light might smite me down with a lightning bolt for polluting the ears of our innocent readers.
One of the Sun holy knights spoke up in concern, "But what if the captain didn't know that the Church of War had gotten themselves involved, and we still went ahead and attacked them? Even though we've already made quite a number of enemies over the years, those were all done under the discretion of the captain. If the captain had no intentions of going against the Church of War, then……"
"Then we'll be slaughtered by the captain," Ed finished for him in a tone close to tears.
At this all the holy knights quieted down and then turned to look at their leader…… Of course I'm referring to Adair, not the me sprawled on the roof above them. Adair gave a sigh and said for lack of a better option, "Alright, I'll go and ask the captain about it. So don't make a move yet."
"We're counting on you!"
"Only you can understand what hell the captain is saying from that confusing spiel of his."
Ed consoled him saying, "If the captain were to push you off the cliff, we'll hide at the bottom of the cliff and secretly catch you."
"No, don't," Adair said sternly. "If the captain were to find out it'd be even worse for me. Please, just let me fall. And if the captain wants to throw a rock down after me, make sure you help him, and remember to pick the biggest and heaviest rock."
Understanding dawned on the rest of the Sun holy knights. "Oh, I see! Adair, how sly of you. If we were to push a huge rock down after you, the captain would get worried that you might just meet the God of Light, so he'll quickly try to heal you. And with the captain's healing abilities, no matter what kind of injuries you have he would definitely be able to heal them all up."
Adair gave a little embarrassed laugh.
'Oh? I see that I have forgotten to mention to them that I now know the art of resurrection, and that even if they had really died and met the God of Light, as long as their head remains I would still be able to revive them.
'Adair, you better have a good explanation for all this later, hmph!'
Back at the Holy Temple, I was still pretty curious, but I had no idea when Adair would come to report to me, and I cannot go to him and ask about it as that would let it slip that I had been eavesdropping on them.
Luckily, I spied the Storm Knight, laden with his usual burden of official documents.
"My brother Storm," I called out.
Storm halted and-used to my questionings-asked, "Is there anything you want to ask, Captain Sun Knight?"
"Have you heard of a guy named Jak?"
"Jak?" he asked. "Are you speaking of the Duke of Ceylan's third son?"
The Duke of Ceylan's third son, so he's Jak! The guy I had told Adair to beat up until he couldn't even speak to repent.
'Adair oh Adair, oh how I've misunderstood you. You are still my most loyal vice-captain!'
"Sun?" Storm asked me uncertainly.
I quickly turned back and said extremely sincerely, "Brother Storm, this Sun is most grateful to you for helping to answer my problem. Your answer has enlightened this Sun and cleared away the clouds of doubt in my heart, as if the God of Light had descended on me and melted away the glaciers from my doubts, leaving behind fresh and clear understanding."
"If you really want to thank me then please never thank me again, you're giving me a massive headache……"
"I wish to pose one more question to you. Have there been any rumours recently about disciples from the Church of War coming to our country?"
"I see you've heard about it too."
Storm's expression turned serious as he said, "I heard that they had just arrived yesterday to attend the king's coronation ceremony. They're currently staying in the guest wing of the Royal Palace."
"The disciples of the Church of War are quite diplomatic, we should look to them as a good example to learn from." With this sentence, I was secretly asking him if they were here merely for some polite social mingling, or if they had another secret agenda.
Storm gave a cold laugh and said, "Even the Son of the War God is here; I imagine this is more than just a simple courtesy calling."
The Son of War. He is the highest ranking person in the Church of War, similar to my position as the Church of Light's Sun Knight. However, it can be argued that his position is even higher than mine as although I am the Holy Temple's head, there is still the Pope of the Hall of Light who could restrict my authority. And if I'm completely honest here, should the Judge Knight wish to fight for the position of head of the Holy Temple, he wouldn't necessarily lose to me.
But it is different in the hierarchy of the Church of War. The priests' positions are far lower than their fellow warrior comrades. Furthermore, the Son of War's autonomous power over the Church of War is incontestable; no one can override his authority.
So anyway, the Son of War coming over to the country of Forgotten Echo is as strange and unusual as me and the Pope going over to visit the Church of War's base-the country Moon Orchid.
Storm suddenly stepped closer and whispered into my ear, "The Princess's handmaiden's brother had let slip to me that immediately upon the Son of War's arrival, he had asked for an audience with the King and the Crown Prince, and after that he had paid a visit to the Princess. And this time the Son of War had come along with a large number of luggages. Extremely heavy and well guarded locked chests."
Luggages? Yeah right. They're probably betrothal gifts. Looks like the Son of War is thinking of asking for the Princess' hand in marriage!
"I also have reason to believe that the Duke of Ceylan is-in some way-involved in this matter. There seems to be a number of people from the Church of War entering and leaving his home--"
"Captain Sun Knight."
Storm immediately stopped talking and backed a step, looking warily at the person who had just interrupted him.
I turned to smile at the person, greeting them. "Captain Judge Knight, what a beautiful evening it is today."
Judge merely said abruptly, "The Pope requests your presence."
Oh, it must be time for it already. I nodded and said simply, "This Sun thanks my brother Judge for his notification."
I knocked softly on the Pope's office door and got back a reply quickly.
"Please come in."
Inside was a person standing in front of a French window (a floor to ceiling window for those that don't know), looking out and seemingly enjoying the view outside. I politely greeted him, "Your Eminence."
"Why do you address me 'Your Eminence'? Come now, Captain Sun Knight, as the head of the Holy Temple, your position is equal to mine after all."
"This Sun Knight dare not show his disrespect, for respecting the 'elderly' is part of one's basic manners," I said, giving ample stress on the word elderly.
Hearing that, the person turned around to face me. The young boy was smiling innocently, looking to be no older than fifteen.
However, this person is far from an 'innocent fifteen year old boy'-at least 60 years away- because this young teenager is the Church of Light's Pope and the man I call old geezer.
Now don't go thinking that I call him an old geezer because I'm jealous of his youth. You see, according to my teacher, when he was ten and being chosen to become the 37th generation Sun Knight, the Pope had looked exactly like he does now. And when he turned forty and retired, the Pope's appearance had not changed one bit.
So this would mean that the old geezer is at least sixty, but he had insisted on using magic to keep his appearance young.
Well, if you want to cast a spell to look younger, that's fine. Nothing wrong with wanting to look a little younger. Even my teacher had secretly used the same spell to keep his younger appearance, but at least he had kept his appearance at about thirty years old, unlike this old geezer who insisted on looking like a fifteen year old boy, how perverted.
"Ah, Sun Knight, you are still as charismatic as ever," The pope chuckled.
"And Your Eminence, you are still as young as ever," I replied, smiling brightly.
We both smiled at each other for a while before the Pope's face suddenly sank and he said in that clear ringing voice of a fifteen year old boy, "Enough! There's no one else here so stop all this bullshit already. The Church of War is already encroaching on our territory, what are we still quibbling amongst ourselves for?"
My smile, too vanished as I said to him exasperatedly, "How dare you say that to my face. Don't you dare say that you weren't aware of the Crown Prince's intentions to humiliate me by choosing for me to perform the God of Light's Melody without my knowledge?"
The Pope gave a few awkward chuckles and hurriedly explained, "I did this for your own good, you know. Ever since the incident where you had tricked the King, the Crown Prince has been very unhappy with you. Who knows how long he might hold this grudge if you do not allow him to pay you back a little."
I gave a cold snort. 'If that was so you could have informed me earlier. I definitely could have played the role of an unwitting victim well.'
"However, did you really have to perform the God of Light's Melody so well?"
The Pope gave a little frown as he walked over to the coffee table and sat down. "The original intention was to let you make a fool of yourself and lower your popularity a little. Instead, you managed to perform the whole song perfectly and got the opposite effect."
I smiled wryly. I can't really tell him that back then I had stupidly made the decision to sing the whole song because I had lost my reasoning due to my extreme hunger, can I?
"Now because of this the Crown Prince is even more wary of you."
"When speaking with him, did you remember to pretend to be at odds with me, as if you want to topple me in my power and authority?" I asked worriedly.
"Of course," the Pope then gave a shrug, saying "It was the usual, the Holy Temple and the Hall of Light secretly jostling for power, with the Pope and the Sun Knight battling it out…… would you like a cup of tea?"
"Yes, please," I nodded. "And this wasn't enough to dispel his wariness?"
Whilst making the tea the Pope complained, "Well if it weren't for your outrageous actions-to even go so far as to force the King to step down-do you think the Crown Prince would be so wary of you for fear of meeting the same fate as his father?"
"How can he think that? Is he not aware of his father's extremely poor conduct? Forcing his father to step down is one thing, but to force down the Crown Prince with his impeccable reputation is another thing. Not even I dare to claim to being able to do so," I protested.
"Well yes, that is true, but the heart of a human will always lean towards suspicion!" said the Pope exasperatedly as he handed me my cup of tea. "That is why he has decided to curb the Church of Light."
"By using the Church of the God of War?" I asked as I accepted the cup, sipping my tea elegantly as I thought about it.
The Pope had poured himself a cup of the tea and explained as he sipped it, "That's right. The only ones on par with our influence are the Church of War and the Church of Chaos. However as the Church of Chaos is very far away as well as the fact that it's religion is more to the dark side, and thus not very easily accepted by our country's citizens who are so used to the light, the Crown Prince decided on the Church of War."
"And he really plans on marrying off his sister to the Son of War?" I asked, frowning at this, for this move will not be easy to counter.
"My, my. Your information is
quite up to date. The situation is just like you said." The Pope too was looking worried. "If the Princess were to really marry the Son of War, the Church of War would have a legitimate reason to spread their religion within Forgotten Echo."
I sighed at that, "And not only can the Crown Prince curb the Church of Light's influence, he would also get many benefits from the Church of War. Moreover, he is trying to push the responsibility and blame onto the Duke of Ceylan. Even Strom believes that the Duke is the one behind everything. How sly and cunning! How sneaky and underhanded! As can be expected from the Crown Prince who's already had control over the political scene for many years now."
The Pope rolled his eyes and said in exasperation, "This is no time to be impressed! Hurry up and think of a solution to this mess! The youth of today are all restless and filled with energy, they aren't interested in the Church of Light and its more mellow teachings. If the Church of War who places more importance on the strength of warriors were to spread here in Forgotten Echo, they would immediately switched religions."
He then added meaningfully, "Don't forget that securing the faith of followers is your responsibility as the Church of Light's 'walking billboard'. Furthermore, this whole thing was started because of you, so you have to take responsibility of it."
I said coldly, "Regardless of my involvement or not, the Crown Prince suppressing us would have happened sooner or later. Because of that piggy king, the Royalty's prestige among the people has fallen to an all time low. At the same time because the Church of Light has been keeping an eye on him and curbing his more outrageous decisions, our popularity has soared to heretofore unknown heights. Now that he's finally gotten the throne, the Crown Prince would never let anyone or any institution to have an even greater influence on his country than him."
The Pope immediately started in on me again, "That's why I've been telling you all along to show a weakness, but what do you do? You just had to force the king from the throne, making the Crown Prince even more wary of us."
I tried to defend myself, albeit a little embarrassedly, "Well it wouldn't matter if I had showed a weakness or not, he would never have let us off so easily."
The Pope maintained, "It doesn't matter now. My job is to keep the Church of Light running, and making sure that the believers obey the Church's laws is the Judge Knight's job, but the most important duty of the Sun Knight is to strengthen the Church of Light's faith among the people! Therefore you have to settle this issue."
As this pertains to the Sun Knight's most important duty, I nodded my head seriously, but left a warning with the Pope, "But I want you to give me your word that no matter how I deal with the issue you cannot interfere in it or stop me."
The Pope agreed right away, "Deal."
Looks like the situation this time really is serious, or else the Pope would never have agreed to my condition so quickly and easily. Every time a problem came up he would secretly interfere in it, and no matter how bleak the situation had seemed, he would always manage to get some benefit out of the whole ordeal, as can be expected from the old geezer who has been in charge of running the Church of Light for quite some time now.
"Oh yes, and another thing!"
The Pope smiled at me cheerfully, giving me an uneasy feeling. He asked casually, "Do you remember the Hell Knight?"
"Hell Knight, one of the Twelve Holy Knights and the only knight from the Cold Blood Faction that does not take orders from the Judge Knight, but instead reports directly to the Sun Knight; specialises in carrying out the more secret missions. Some say that he is a trained assassin or spy among the Twelve Holy Knights. There are also rumours that in the first generation of Twelve Holy Knights, the Hell Knight was not a real person but actually the secret alternate identity of the Sun Knight when he is required to carry out secret missions."
"Why are you explaining it all to me? I already know the history behind the Hell Knight."
"Because you asked me?" I asked sarcastically.
"What I have to say is that there's a problem with the Hell Knight."
I raised an eyebrow and said, "What's that got to do with me? Even though he is supposed to take orders from me, I've never actually seen him before. Wasn't he sent by you to go undercover in the palace not too long after being picked to become the next Hell Knight?"
"Oh don't say that, he is still one of your Twelve Holy Knights, and he's been forced to go undercover as a spy since young. Now that something's happened are you really going to just leave him like that?"
This old geezer…… he's making it sound as if I was the one who had sent the Hell Knight undercover. 'You were the one who had pushed him into such a situation!'
I glared at the old geezer, upset that he was trying to push another problem onto me when I already had enough on my plate, what with the situation with the Church of War and the Crown Prince.
We glared at each other for a while before he gave in first and sighed, "Alright! Since you don't care about Hell at all, I'll just have to sacrifice him. Besides, he's never showed up before, so it'll be easy to let him disappear without a trace……"
I shouted at the Pope angrily, "Old geezer! I've warned you this before, you can do whatever the hell you like and even kill off all your priests, but you will never touch one of my holy knights!!"
The Pope just smiled at me, "Then what about the Hell Knight?"
I growled at him, "Give me the means of contacting him! Now that you have pushed his problem unto me, he's mine from now on. Don't even think of taking him back, got that!"
"But of course! He always was one of yours! I promise that I will never interfere in anything to do with him in the future." The Pope sincerely promised.
What…? To relinquish control of him so easily……. The Hell Knight's problem must be no small matter.
Urgh. The Crown Prince trying to quash the Church, the Son of War asking for the Princess' hand in marriage and now the Hell Knight's problem coming up…… why are all the problems piling up all at once?!
"Heheh!" The Pope chuckled, calmly taking a sip of his tea as he commented, "How rare to see the almighty omnipotent Sun Knight looking so troubled!"
"With such serious matters ahead of us how can you be so relaxed as to make fun of me?" I asked annoyed.
"Make fun? I'm not making fun of you at all. After all no matter how serious or worrying the case is, as long as it is handled by you everything would be solved perfectly--"
"Sun! Sun!" From outside came this thunderous cry.
The Pope and I were both surprised when we heard a series of footsteps approaching us hurriedly. The Pope quickly hid his teacup and teapot in a drawer, lifted his heavy robes as he rushed over to his desk, and grabbed the veil he had left on his desk before quickly putting it on. He then sat down and waited.
I, on the other hand, had hurriedly went over to stand in front of the desk in a respectful manner, pasting on a rather stiff smile on my face and thus completing the picture that I was a little upset and annoyed.
Just in time, the door was kicked open so hard that it banged against the wall, resulting in a second loud bang. I was startled, as was the Pope sitting in front of me.
Who would be so brazen as to kick open the Pope's door?
I turned to see the hot-tempered Blaze Knight and scolded him, "Blaze Knight, how can you be so rude with His Eminence the Pope here……"
Blaze abruptly interrupted, shouting, "Your vice-captain's in trouble! Hurry to him, he's close to death!"
My mind went blank, with only one thought running through it.
'Adair is…… dying?!'
I raced after Blaze through the hallways until we reached a door. Typical of his signature 'hands-free' style of opening doors, Blaze kicked open the door. Upon our entrance, the Sun Division Knights inside the room turned to me, their eyes red, as they cried out,
"Captain your head! Move!"
I shoved two of the knights away while searching for Adair, only to see him lying on the bed, his uniform soaked in blood. His face was abnormally pale due to extreme blood loss, and his eyes were closed. He was unconscious, and his breathing was very faint-
'We don't have time!'
I quickly looked him over, making note of his most severe injuries. There were three large gashes on his chest, and another one on his thigh. I immediately placed my hands on his chest and his thigh where he had been injured.
I chanted a short incantation, casting a mid-level healing spell. Healing spells at these levels can only heal injuries like broken bones or some more severe cuts, but they are definitely not enough to heal Adair's severe wounds. However, they can stop his condition from worsening, buying me a little more time.
You see, high level spells require the caster to summon a large amount of holy light, as well as to recite an incredibly long incantation to transform the holy light into healing power. If I were to start right off with the high level healing spells, Adair might have become a cold corpse long before I could even finish the lengthy incantation.
Looking down to check on his condition, I felt that he still looked to be on the verge of drawing his last breath, so I threw another mid level healing spell at him. After the second spell, his breathing became steadier, and I could then concentrate on summoning up my holy light as I started the incantation, transforming the holy light gathered in my hands from its pure white radiance to a soothing golden glow.
"…… Absolute Healing!"
Upon seeing Adair open his eyes, looking bleary and disorientated, I finally let out a sigh of relief. Even though I could still revive him with the resurrection spells if he had really died, the resurrection of the dead does not come without a price. Furthermore, the chances of a resurrection failing are not low either.
Just then, I only realised that I had been swaying dangerously on my feet when two of the holy sun knights hurried to my side to steady me; Adair too had leapt from the bed in concern for me. Fortunately for me, my Sun Division knights were pretty observant and quick to respond, or else it would be my turn lying on the bed right now.
'Urgh! First the tribute song earlier in the morning, then I had to expend holy light to cover up Roland's dark aura, and just now I had to cast such a high level healing spell. This is all too much, even for me.'
After regaining my feet with the help from the two knights, I then turned to glare at Adair. "Lie back down! Don't think that just 'cause you can't see any wounds on you, it means you're fine. The fact remains that you had been severely wounded. Would you rather I send you sprawling back down, or would you prefer to lie back down of your own accord?!"
Adair climbed back into the bed obediently, not daring to utter a word.
After my outburst, I huffed angrily, before turning to call out, "Blaze."
"Ah?" Blaze stared at me with wide eyes. He was probably shocked by my inelegant and unsmiling self.
I forced out a smile and said, "This Sun wishes to handle private matters regarding my division. Could my brother Blaze please give us some privacy? And please remember to close the door behind you, thank you."
Blaze hesitated for a moment before nodding. After saying "Alright, take care," he turned and left the room.
The second the door was closed, I shook off the two knights beside me, walked over to a chair and sat down. "Now, somebody tell me, what the hell happened?" I asked icily.
"Captain……" Adair began struggling to sit up in bed.
I turned and growled at him, "Quiet, you! I don't want to hear a word from you. In fact, I want you to go to sleep if possible. Ed! I want a rundown on what had happened, now!"
Ed was startled at being called, but I forgive him. After all, this is the first time I have ever called his name.
Ed received several nudges from his teammates before he finally got over his shock and began his report nervously, "Well, we were on the streets in the city when we bumped into Jak. Because we had orders from you, captain-"
"Jak is the Duke of Ceylan's third son. And also, Ed, the Captain never gave any orders……" Adair hurriedly interrupted, but halfway through he clapped his hands over his mouth, remembering just then that he was under orders to keep quiet.
Ah, the person who knows me best may be Judge, but Adair sure is a close second…… If it weren't for my eavesdropping on them from the roof of the pub, and then asking Storm about Jak later, I probably wouldn't have known that Jak was the Duke of Ceylan's third son.
"Continue on, Ed," I said, trying to maintain my stoic captain image.
"So because we had your orders…… er, no! It wasn't your orders-I mean, that is…erm…" Ed stuttered pitifully, unable to spit out a complete sentence. He was sweating bullets, trying to think of an appropriate way to explain the situation.
After hearing nothing but 'errs' and 'erms' for five minutes, I had no choice but to turn to look at Adair.
Adair caught my look and immediately removed his hands from his mouth, pleading sincerely, "Captain, please, please, let me speak. I really want to do the report. If I don't get it off my chest I'm sure I won't be able to have a moment's rest."
I gave a theatrical sigh and shook my head wearily, saying "What am I to do with you? Alright, since you want to speak so badly, you'll explain what happened earlier."
"Yes, sir." Adair nodded his head respectivefully, before launching into a passionate tirade.
"We were patrolling the city streets when we bumped into the Ceylan Duke's third son. Upon seeing him, I immediately remembered of how he had used his sword to wound you, and-even worse-he had done it from the back! It was utterly despicable and dishonourable of him, and completely unbefitting of a knight…"
As can be expected from my vice-captain of five years, his bullshitting abilities are hard to match by anyone else. In reality, I had been escaping when the sword had been thrown at me, yet Adair had managed to turn it around completely, saying that he had attacked me from behind…… 'I really made an excellent choice back then when choosing you, Adair!'
Even the rest of the Sun Division was looking at him with admiring looks, especially Ed who had been stuttering for forever earlier.
"…that's why I couldn't control the urge to challenge him to a duel, but that guy, that despicable and cowardly knight, he refused my challenge and instead got some outsiders to challenge me on his behalf-"
At this, I couldn't help interrupting Adair's long-winded bullshit and asked, "Who was it who had beaten you up?"
Adair drew a deep breath before answering, "It was the Son of War himself."
I was stunned. The Son of War? That guy who had an even higher ranking than me?
I shouted incredulously, "And you accepted? With his high ranking, his issuing you a challenge to a duel is unreasonable! Adair, my vice-captain and right-hand man, are you really that stupid?"
Ed immediately defended Adair, "Adair is not stupid, Captain! It was all because-"
"Ed, say no more…"Adair hurriedly interrupted.
"Shut up! Who made you the boss here?" I shouted at Adair, before turning to shout at Ed, "Continue what you were saying!"
"Yes sir," Ed then explained frankly, "It was because the Son of War had declared that if Adair refused his challenge, he would come and challenge you directly, sir, but-but……"
But, anyone who's seen me with a sword can tell that sword fighting is my biggest weakness.
My poor sword skills may not be widely known, but neither is it exactly a closely kept secret. Anyone can easily find this out by asking around.
So, the Son of War must have specifically asked around about my weaknesses and found out about my poor sword skills, for him to force Adair into accepting his challenge in such a way. But the question is why? Adair is only a vice-captain, not one the Twelve Holy Knights. Even if he were to win the duel, it's nothing to brag about. In fact, it might even cast him in an unfavourable light for picking on someone of lower rank.
Ed continued on angrily, "That Son of War is just too much! After having stabbed Adair several times, there was already a clear winner, yet he refused to let up on Adair!"
The other Sun Division members chipped in angrily, "Yeah! We even wanted to help him, but were held back by the Church of War's warriors……"
"Are you saying that the Son of War wanted to kill Adair?"
I was shaken by the thought. Why would they want to do that? They hadn't even established themselves in Forgotten Echo, yet they intend to go against the local religion, the Church of Light? And killing my vice-captain is no small matter that one can simply laugh off and forget about.
Ed nodded emphatically, saying irritably, "If it weren't for the royal knights coming to our aid, that Son of War would have definitely killed Adair."
"The royal knights stopped them?"
I was surprised to hear that. The royal knights serve under the Crown Prince, and seeing as the Son of War was asked for by the Crown Prince, why would they try to interfere in the Church of War's affairs?
"That's right! It was the squad of royal knights led by Elliot."
"H-Hold on a minute! Who's Elliot?" I asked, puzzled.
Adair hurriedly explained to me, "Captain, Elliot is one of the younger leaders among the royal knights, but his loyalty is to the princess, so he is not a favourite of the Crown Prince."
Another knight added, "But even though the Crown Prince doesn't really like him, his abilities are pretty strong, and his popularity among the younger generation of royal knights is pretty good, so even the Crown Prince would often assign him to some important tasks."
Ed then said in a conspiratorial tone, "And, it is rumoured that he has a thing going on with the princess, he's on pretty good terms with the queen, and even the Crown Prince's wife, the Crown Princess would often help to put in a good word for Elliot to her husband."
'Oi, oi! Are you the Sun Division knights or the Storm Division knights? Why are you all so familiar with all the gossip? It's as if there are twenty-something Storm Knights standing in front of me, gossiping!'
"This Elliot fellow sounds rather like Storm……" I said tiredly while rubbing my temples, trying to relieve my headache.
Ed smirked and said, "Yup! Captain, Elliot is the Storm Knight's number one rival for the court ladies affections! Because of this the Storm Knight really hates him. Haha…"
"You all seem to know a lot about all the things going on."
I don't know if I should be impressed with them or not. Since when have my Sun Division turned into a gossip mongering division?
Ed was really getting into it, "But of course, captain. Even the Storm Knight would often come to us for the latest news and gossip, or to confirm a certain a certain rumour…… I don't mean to brag, captain, but when it comes to gossip and the latest news, if we were to declare ourselves second best, not even the Storm Knight would dare claim to be the best."
"I see, so my Sun Division knights have been spending their time gossiping…… Adair!"
"Yes! Captain?" Adair asked, startled, stumbling out of bed again.
"From tomorrow onwards, the Sun Division is to run one lap around the city every morning!" I said fiercely.
Upon receiving the order, Adair blinked blankly before looking a little troubled.
"What's the matter? Can't do it? And you guys dare to call yourselves knights?" Outwardly, I maintained my enraged demeanour, but inside my resolve was shaking. 'How long is one lap around the city? Maybe it is a little too long?'
At this, the rest of the Sun Division knights quietened down.
'Oh dear, looking at this situation, perhaps one lap really is too much, perhaps half a lap then? But I've already given the order, how can I simply retract it……?'
Just then, Ed gathered his courage to say, "Captain, five years ago when you first met us, you gave the order for us to run five laps around the city. Then three years ago, when our physical results lost to the Judge Division's, you got upset and ordered us to run three laps. At that time, Adair thought that you must have meant to add three more rounds, so these past three years we've been running eight rounds. This time……"
"……this time I mean add one more round. Any more questions?"
In perfect unison, the Sun Division answered, "No, sir!"
"Good! Now , with the exception of Adair, everyone else, scram."
Once everyone else had left, I stood up and walked to stand beside Adair. I regretted calling him stupid earlier without realising the entire situation, but as the captain how can I apologise?
After hesitating for several moments, I decided against apologising. If I did apologise, I just might give him a shock. I should just leave my instructions and be done with it.
"I give you one week sick leave, but avoid leaving the Holy Temple, and tell the rest of the Sun Division to avoid going out too. If they have to, tell them to wear casual clothes and not the Sun Division uniform. Also, you had better get sufficient rest these few days. Eat more eggs and meat, drink more milk, and try not to strain yourself too much."
Adair was surprised, but then smiled and said, "Yes, captain!"
After a moment, he then seemed to think of something and asked, "Captain, then what about the nine laps around the city?"
I thought about it and said, "You just stay in bed and rest. The rest can clean the Holy Temple instead of running, for now."
"Yes, sir" Adair nodded.
Even after all my instructions, I was still worried about him. Adair this fellow is very meticulous and detailed, and usually this is a good thing, but on the other hand, I sometimes get worried that he might one day suffer the same fate as Storm-death from exhaustion.
"Everything I just said is an order. They must be followed, you hear?"
Adair smiled and answered, "Yes, captain."