*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.
Once again, my excellent memory has proven to be one of God's blessings unto me, for although I had only been afforded a glance of the map of Moon Orchid previously, I had been able to memorise the locations of most of the more notable places in this country. If the Queen of Moon Orchid had been aware of this talent of mine she wouldn't have dared to simply leave out such a detailed map of her own country in front of me. Hahaha!
After walking for about half a day, I accurately located the little town known as Leafy Forest Town. This town is indeed unique, for surrounding it on all four sides are deep forests, with the town built on this spacious grass field and a river conveniently flowing through it. If not for these unique geological features it would have been nigh impossible for this town to have existed.
But even with said features, such a town located in the middle of a deep forest wouldn't be able to support a large population as it isn't easy to import goods and materials from the outside.
I'm guessing that the only reason this town continues to exist is because of the numerous parties that pass by here needing a place to stay for the night. And businessmen are the same all over the world – wherever there is opportunity for a profit to be made, there they would set up their business, even be it at the entrance to a dragon's lair!
Further past the town is where magical beasts are known to appear in abundance. Even though magical beasts are extremely dangerous, they are also extremely profitable! Everything from their meat and their blood to stuff like their horns and fur can be used and sold, and it is from trading these things that the questing parties get their main revenue from.
I carefully covered the Sun insignia stitched onto my sleeve with a piece of cloth before walking into the town. Although the town was not very large, its development was not very well planned with buildings spread all over the place with no order, hence I had no idea where to go to for a pub.
I stopped a passing adventurer, slipped on a friendly smile and asked, "May I ask where can I find a pub here?"
The adventurer looked at me up and down, mumbling "Where did such a good-looking knight come from? I should…… to get rid of a potential rival", before clearing his throat and saying out loud, "Do you see that street on the left? Walk along that street and turn right after you see two weaponry store, after you pass a grocery store turn right again where you will see two wells. You will then come to a three-way intersection; choose the middle lane and walk pass a bakery before turning left. You should then see the pub somewhere at the end of the street. Did you get all that?"
"Got it," I smiled and repeated, "walk along the street on the left, pass two weaponry stores, turn right, walk pass a grocery store and turn right, then walk along passing two wells until I see a three-way intersection, choose the middle lane, pass a bakery before turning left and walk till the end of the road."
The adventurer was startled by me, saying in shock, "Woah! You actually remembered all of it?!"
I smiled at the adventurer who responded with a flustered look before turning down the street on the left. Hmph! What's a few detours to me? I even managed to memorize a map so large it covered five whole tables! Beat that!
I followed the directions given to me but could not seem to find the two wells mentioned…… I then suddenly realised – there is a river flowing right outside the town, so why would anyone bother to dig up two wells for water?
"I shouldn't have asked a man for directions." I muttered in annoyance. "What well? Hah! He probably wished there was one so he can throw me down it and rid himself of one less love rival!"
Looks like I'm going to have to ask someone else for directions again.
I was just about to head back to the grocery store for directions when a hooded person stepped in front of me, blocking my way. My face darkened at this.
A person with such dark aura…… a necromancer maybe? But this combination of elements doesn't seem right…?
While I was still undecided on my suspicions, the hooded person spoke up in a soft voice, "What an overpowering holy aura. Even I, who do not possess mage sight, can feel the heat from it. How unbelievable, so this is the holy aura of a current Sun Knight?"
I blanched at this. Never had I expected the other person to know of my Sun Knight position, and 'current?', why would he mention that?
Whilst my mind was still racing, trying to figure out who this person might be, the hooded person had already pulled down his hood, revealing his self underneath – his skin was so dark that not even the midday sun was bright enough to lighten it.
"A Dark Elf!"
"No wonder I couldn't tell your character from your combination of elements," I muttered in realisation. "I never would have thought that I would be able to meet a Dark Elf – the infamous race of dark elves who live underground – in my life! What evil plots are you cooking up to have come above ground?"
What I did not say was: 'I knew it! I knew I'd been hit with a spell of bad luck: a midnight stroll would lead to a meeting with a Dark Knight, and now a walk down a street would be interrupted by a Dark Elf! What next? The next time I make a trip to the washrooms I might step on a dragon?...... Touch wood! Touch wood! I merely said that in jest, God of Light! Please, please, please don't take what I said seriously!'
Now, I think I should explain a little to my fellow readers about what exactly a Dark Elf is, or else everyone might not understand how truly unlucky I am.
You see, humans aren't actually the only race in this world, although they certainly are the most commonly seen race. At most you would come across a few dwarves in blacksmiths. (Dwarves look just like humans except for the fact that even when they are fully grown men they are only two-thirds the height of an average person, and practically every male dwarf has a face covered with a thick bushy beard, and no matter their gender they are always very skilled in metal work.)
'Elves' are another known race, but even though almost everyone has heard of them, everyone also knows that elves are a kind but arrogant race. However, it seems that hardly anyone has seen them, for they typically live on the outermost regions of the land in the deepest of forests where hardly anyone would venture.
And then there are some other races that seem to be a mix between man and beast. The fairies, for example, are little green beings which live together in large groups, or the weres who are half man half beast.
Although these races have achieved some form of civilisation – with a simple language of their own, capable of using fire and making weapons – their way of life is still not that much different from a pack of wild wolves, and so they are not considered to be one of the main races.
However, Dark Elves are different. They are definitely one of the main races. They look like Elves with their thin and slender builds and sharp pointed ears, but while Elves are fair skinned, the Dark Elves have ebony black skin, pure white hair and red eyes.
And in comparison with their fairer cousins who tend to live in forests, the Dark Elves choose to live deep underground, for they loathe sunlight and would very rarely come up to the surface. A hundred years may pass without even a sighting of the Dark Elves.
Now, most importantly is their character unique to their race – the Dark Elves are infamous for their nastiness and evil ways. All Dark Elves – from eight month old babies to an eight hundred year old dying Dark Elves are EVIL.
And other than their wickedness, the Dark Elves also have another characteristic – that is, they are all trained fighters. Imagine, an entire race of skilled fighters! While their numbers may not be very large, every single one of them – male or female, young or old – are all highly trained in the arts of combat, and it is said that a single troop of Dark Elves can single-handedly annihilate a city guarded by a well-trained army of soldiers in just one night.
But thankfully the Dark Elves hate the sunlight, and would very rarely venture above ground. And even if they were to come up, they usually come up to pick a fight with the Elves, for the Dark Elves and their fairer cousins are sworn enemies.
But now, standing right in front of me, thousands of miles away from home is a Dark Elf, looking at me with an admiring gaze and saying in a marvelling voice, "You are the second person capable of keeping your calm even after having realised my race."
"Oh? I would like to have met the first one." I answered, whilst considering the option of changing into the Dragon's Holy Robe. But I've heard that the Dark Elves are extremely fast. It would be a small matter to lose my life if I were to be attacked whilst still changing, but……
'SUN KNIGHT FOUND DEAD IN A BACK ALLEY HALF NAKED!!'
What kind of horrible rumours might arise from this shocking headline?? My problem is that this is definitely not an elegant way to die. If my teacher were to hear that I had died in such an inelegant and perverted manner…… well, you all know what will happen to me.
And rather than being dragged from the throes of heaven to the fiery pits of hell by my teacher…… Oi, what are you thinking about now? Keep your mind out of the gutter!
Like I was saying, rather than having died and gone to heaven only to be resurrected by my teacher just so I can die elegantly in front of him, I should just make sure my Sun Knight uniform is neat and tidy so I can die beautifully now.
"From your severe expression, I can guess that you're thinking of how to kill me?" said the Dark Elf with a self-depreciating smile.
'Not at all. I am merely thinking of which pose I should die in and what appropriate expression I should wear to make the best impact on those who will uncover my body. The middle of a back alley is already too unsightly a place to die in, so I have to make sure that my expression and pose are flawless to make up for the inappropriate background!'
Seeing that I had no intention of answering him, the Dark Elf's expression grew even more morose. However, I haven't eliminated the possibility of him acting, for Dark Elves are said to be very sly and cunning with hundreds of tricks up their sleeve. The Dark Elf then continued on, "Before you make your move, there's a friend of mine who would very much like to meet you."
'A friend of a Dark Elf? Great, looks like I'm really gonna die……'
A second hooded person walked out from behind a corner and headed towards us, probably a man from his height. Without saying a word, the man straight away flung off his hood and cloak, revealing – not another Dark Elf, but a handsome golden-haired blue-eyed man in his thirties, smiling at me with a soft and gentle smile.
Even though this new person looked trustworthy, the moment I saw who he was however, my pupils shrank, my whole body went cold and stiff, my heart started thumping erratically, and even my guts started twisting in agony……
"Why…?" The Dark Elf looked close to tears as he turned to the gold-haired man and said, "Neo, why is it that your student could remain calm and collected at the unexpected sight of the evil Dark Elf, yet when he caught a glimpse of you he-he looks so……"
"He looks so happy and touched to see his long-parted dearly respected teacher," the golden-haired blue-eyed knight cut in with a brilliant smile. "Child, it's been three years since I last saw you. Come closer so I may take a better look at you."
I stepped back a few paces, contemplating my suicide.
'Dear God of Light! How mean of you! I would have preferred stepping on a dragon's tail than to see my…… my teacher.
My teacher turned back to his friend with a smile and said, "The boy is quite shy, isn't he?"
The Dark Elf smiled wryly and said, "I don't think so. I feel he looks more like he's just seen a ghost…… Oh, you know? Like 'Ah! A ghost!!' kind of thing."
'You're wrong! A ghost is nowhere near as scary as my teacher!'
My teacher smiled and replied, "My dear Alstier, what a funny joke, but do stop play around. Look, you've scared my student."
"He is scared, that's for sure," said Alstier with a faint smile. "But I'm afraid it's still up in the air as to who had scared him."
"Perhaps he was frightened by your black skin! As you know, Sun Knights have always have had skin as white as snow."
"I concede the fact that your student is fair, but you on the other hand are like a burnt piece of toast." Alstier retorted.
My teacher raised an eyebrow at him and sighed mockingly, "Well, at least it's better than a basin of dirty water…… But do not despair, my friend. Something as trivial as skin colour will not be an obstacle to our friendship."
"Friendship?" gasped Alstier in mock surprise. "Why, I didn't know that we had one …… Err, Neo, your student seems to be leaving."
"Ahahaha! Stop with the jokes already, Alstier. He's my student! He would never dare to pretend not to see me, or not greet me or leave without bidding farewell."
I halted my footsteps. I could feel my eye twitching, before finally, an expression of resolution and hopelessness passed over my face. I turned around and walked back to my teacher, calling out, "My dear beloved teacher! With the blessings of the God of Light showered upon us, we finally meet-"
My teacher's face darkened, and in an ominous low voice, he ordered, "Keep the God of Light to yourself and tell me what exactly are you doing in a quest party?"
I told him about how things came to be, and after hearing my story, my teacher sunk into silence. Alstier, on the other hand, commented coolly, "As a member of the party, it is wrong to leave the party and disappear of on your own!"
I glanced at the Dark Elf. Inside, I wanted to retort 'As a member of the Dark Elf race, it is wrong to act so nice and not at all evil!', but before I go around offending him I had to figure out first exactly what his relationship with my teacher is.
Just then, my teacher smiled at me in understanding and clarified, "You left the party to investigate Alstier and I, didn't you? It is very suspicious for a creature of dark aura and a creature of light aura to be travelling together, much less when they keep a constant distance away from the group."
As can be expected from my teacher; he sure understands me well. I'm pretty sure he would even be able to tell what I had had for lunch just from me farting.
I nodded at him and said, "I first noticed it around the forest's borders, but didn't pay it much attention. But in the following two weeks even though you guys had made detours around the forest, you still seemed to maintain a constant distance away from us, and this made me rather uneasy. But as I couldn't reveal my mage sight, I had no way of telling my team members about it and had to find an excuse to leave the party and investigate it on my own."
At this, Alstier had a look of surprise on his face.
My teacher nodded before turning to Alstier and saying in pride, "See? I told you it's impossible to follow my student without him noticing us."
"How astonishing," Alstier turned to me and said, "I apologise for my previous words and take them back."
I stared at the Dark Elf. 'Can't you be a little more like the descriptions of your race and act a little more evil? This kind and gentle demeanour of yours is completely going against my earlier explanations of the Dark Elves!'
"Why are you glaring at me so?" Alstier asked curiously.
I looked at him up and down and asked doubtfully, "Are you really a Dark Elf? Are you sure you're not just a really, really super sunburnt elf?"
Alstier blinked at me in surprise.
My teacher, however, had started laughing uproariously as he clapped the Dark Elf on the back. "Oh Alstier, aren't I right once again? I told you that as long as you do not attack him, no matter that you are a member of the race with an atrocious reputation, this child would still stand with you and would never draw his sword against you…… even though he's equally as weak with a weapon in hand or not," He muttered that last bit.
After hearing what my teacher said, Alstier's gaze at me softened and he even smiled at me friendlily.
Now evidently in a good mood, my teacher gave my shoulder a pat, saying, "Child, in commemoration of this rare meeting, let's get ourselves a few drinks! I have a great many tales of my adventures to tell you, and I would also like to catch up on the events in the Holy Temple."
He then turned back to Alstier and said humorously, "This student of mine can hold his liquor even better than I; you'll definitely appreciate him for sure, now that you can drink to your heart's content tonight."
"Oh?" Alstier said with interest in his tone.
But upon hearing this, I drew a sharp breath and started glancing about, frantically trying to plan my escape route…… there!
"Er…… Neo, your student is trying to climb that wall over there."
"…… Get back here! We'll pay for the tab."
I let out a sigh of relief at this and jumped down from the wall, saying most sincerely, "Not a problem, my dear teacher. Even though it is said that the Sun Knight cannot take more than three glasses of wine without succumbing to the liquor, seeing that my teacher requests for my company, this student shall gladly accompany you, come hell or high water."
My teacher exchanged a look with the grinning Alstier before saying a little embarrassedly, "Getting you to part with money is harder than getting you to make a trip to hell. Honestly! I have no idea where you got this money stingy personality from."
'Didn't I get it from watching your sad fate……?'
He then continued on, "Change into Alstier's clothing before we head over to the pub. You must not let anyone know your true identity; the Sun Knight's image of passing out after three glasses must not be ruined! "
"Alright, but why can I not change into your clothing?" I asked curiously.
"Because I'm wearing a knight's outfit and there's no way you look like a knight. You may be able to fool the ordinary unsuspecting people, but bars are where powerful professionals tend to lurk in, so it's better for you to pose as someone else! It's a pity we don't have any priest's outfit, or you could have changed into it we would have been a perfect three-people party with a knight, an archer/assassin and a priest. We would have had countless tasks just lining up for us! Sigh, what a pity."
'Fuck you! I'm a holy knight!'
My teacher slid a warning look at me. "Don't you curse me even in your heart, or you can foot the bill yourself."
I nearly went down on my knees at that, begging, "I'm sorry! This humble student shouldn't have cursed my teacher……"
Alstier rolled his eyes at this ridiculous display. With his ebony black skin contrasting greatly with the whites of his eyes, this action of his was particularly obvious. And annoying. He couldn't help saying, "Can you two – the current Sun Knight and the previous Sun Knight – speak a little more elegantly than this so-called savage and uncouth Dark Elf?"
"After years under the God of Light's shining tutelage, I feel greatly sorrowed that there are still corners of darkness in my student's heart. I feel that it is my duty as your teacher to speak of the God of Light's glorious teachings, and pray that the darkness in your heart can be chased away by her Holiness's beautiful glow, and that you can return to the rightful path."
"The God of Light shines Her love and benevolence upon this land, lighting up our lives and bringing peace and goodwill to all the creatures on this land. And yet, hidden within this student's deepest recesses lay pockets of darkness, and that this student would direct this darkness in the direction of my dearest teacher, this is unforgivable and deserves the greatest punishment! But today, my teacher brings the teachings of the God of Light in hopes of helping his student; how can this student refuse such kindness and mercy? This student humbly accepts, and is now filled with anticipation for a renewed life of light and goodness."
"...... Forgive me, I was in the wrong. Please continue with your vulgarity!"
So after that, we entered through the wide doors of the only pub in town. Upon entering, all the female waitresses looked to the entrance at us and cried out in joy: "Neo!", "Neo, you've retuned!" and "I've missed you, Neo!"
My teacher returned their 'warm' greetings with a few flirtatious winks. If one didn't know better, one would say that he was the previous Storm Knight.
In comparison, Alstier did not seem to be as popular. Even though he had securely covered up his entire body in the cloak, there were quite a number of unfriendly looks in his direction. Looks like they are aware of his race.
When I glanced at him, I could totally understand. Even though he had hidden himself in the cloak, he still had to extend his arm out when reaching for a drink or for some food. Anyone could tell from that black arm that there was something wrong with him.
There could only be two things with black skin: the Dark Elves of the legends, or a walking burnt corpse. And both these things aren't really all that welcome anywhere.
While everyone may have been rather cold and hostile towards Alstier, the treatment we received from the men were equally as poor, and I felt rather unwelcomed......
So seeing as how everyone's hostility towards us was rather obvious, we had to choose a table in a corner furthest from everyone else. Following that, Neo began ordering dish after dish, bottle after bottle. It couldn't be help; the waitresses just kept coming one after another.
Alstier was a little worried as he advised, "Neo, I think it's best if we refrain from drinking too much tonight."
Neo turned to him and asked in amusement, "Too much? It's only a dozen bottles between the two of us!"
"But you ordered two dozen...?"
"Well of course! Or else my student would accuse me of being stingy."
Alstier looked at me from under his hood at that. I couldn't be sure, but I think I saw a hint of pleasant surprise in his eyes...... looks like Alstier is another drunkard. I think the most impressive thing about our three-person party is not our power and capabilities, but our drinking stamina! Between the three of us we could probably drink a pub out of alcohol!
When the alcohol arrived, I immediately grabbed the bottles with both hands and started chugging them down. After finishing the first bottle in my left hand, I immediately followed it with the bottle in my right, then my left, and then again my right...... One minute later, I took out a napkin and delicately patted the corners of my mouth. Hmm, while the wine here cannot compare with the Bottled Intoxication in Sprouting Leaf City, it's still pretty good.
When I looked back up, Alstier was gaping at me. My teacher slapped a thigh and laughed uproariously (not his thigh, the approaching waitress's thigh.)
I opened another bottle and raised it in Alstier's direction, declaring, "A toast to you."
Alstier blinked at me, asking in stupefaction, "What for?"
Although I was not yet drunk, I was a little woozy. When I saw all the unfriendly and hateful looks thrown in Alstier's direction, I looked back at them challengingly and said loudly, "I drink to you for sitting here!"
"Well said, child! I drink to you for sitting here!" My teacher, too, raised his bottle at him.
Alstier slowly removed his hood, revealing his black skin and pure white hair. He then raised his own bottle and said, "Then I toast to the two of you for sitting with me!"
And with that the three of us chugged down the alcohol. When I finished my gulp and looked back down, I was just in time to see a bottle come flying at Alstier's head. Before I could shout out a warning, my teacher had already kicked at the coming bottle, kicking it back in the direction from whence it came from without smashing the glass bottle. The bottle hit the person's face, breaking and drenching its contents all over the person.
He was a warrior with bulging muscles and a huge axe at his side. He did not look at all happy, with a face full of alcohol and a tick in his jaw.
"Haha!" My teacher stood in front of Alstier and turned back to us saying, "Great! I hate warriors the most!"
Still a little woozy and recalling two whole weeks of disdain and contempt from Michael and Ann, I too stood up and smiled, saying, "Like teacher, like student. Teacher, I hate warriors the most too!"
By then, Alstier had stood up too. He cried out, "Neo, Creus, please don't start a fight over me......"
My teacher and I rolled our eyes at him. 'Who the heck said it was over you?'
Alstier looked a little abashed after receiving our looks. He looked between the two of us and the raging warrior and then at the tense atmosphere surrounding the pub. He then said wryly, "Need any help?"
"Drink your wine," My teacher replied.
"Eat your food," I told him.
Alstier sat back down, and perhaps he was a little miffed at us, for he sat with his back turned against us and the rest of the pub and actually started drinking and eating for real.
As the warrior approached us, waving his axe at us in an attempt at intimidation, my teacher said to me nonchalantly, "Child, your sword skills suck. Why don't you join Alstier and have a drink with him? "
"Teacher, I am not wearing a knight's outfit right now," I reminded whilst gathering some water elements and turning it into ice in my hands.
"Oh, that's right."
And with that, my teacher drew his sword and blocked the blow aimed at me, a loud clanging sound resounding through the room and hurting my eardrums. I threw out the block of ice – now as big as a large pot of iron – at the warrior, knocking him out cold! Pun intended.
The warrior was sent flying backwards and flew into a table. The fall looked quite painful, but as can be expected from these muscular warriors, after some while he managed to stumble to his feet, roaring loudly. His red bloodshot eyes looked around him before grabbing at a nearby table and flinging it at us.
My teacher didn't even bat an eyelash at the incoming table.
At that moment, I flung out an arm and raised an Earth Shield in front of him. Earth Shields are shields formed from holy light and are used to block attacks…… This is actually Earth's specialty move which I had secretly learned.
The flying table crashed against the Earth Shield, breaking into pieces, but with the Earth Shield shielding my teacher he was unaffected by the flying shards and debris.
The bloodshot-eyed warrior growled at us, "Are you guys actually defending this black skinned guy?! Do you not know that the Dark Elves are an evil sort?!"
"If you're spoiling for a fight then just come on, there's no need to come up with excuses," said my teacher icily. "Come and fight me then, and I'll let you have a taste of history's strongest-…… knight's ability!"
Phew! I wiped away my cold sweat. Thank goodness my teacher remembered to omit the word 'Sun'.
By then, the other remaining customers in the bar had stood up and started shouting.
"What knight! Anyone who mixes with Dark Elves can't be anything good!"
"Get out of here, Dark Elf!"
"Get out of our town!"
Seeing that he had a whole room on his side, the emboldened warrior shouted even more scathingly, "You evil being! You and the Dark Elf should scram!"
"Oh? Evil being, is it?" My teacher pondered the term for a moment before grinning. "Interesting. This is the first time I've been called so. Well, in order to fit this new title…… should I be a little more evil? Ahahahaha!...... You? You aren't fit to challenge me. My student, go and deal with this pack of unruly dogs!"
And with that he turned with a flourish, walking back to our table and sitting down with Alstier, enjoying the food and wine and completely ignoring the situation behind him.
T-teacher…… After having played the role of the Sun Knight for twenty years, you now want to change and try out being a 'godfather'? I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at my teacher's immature behaviour, but seeing as my teacher had asked, I could only step forward and take on the angry horde.
"As you wish!" I shouted and begun casting my magic without even bothering with the incantation…… Actually, it's more like I didn't have time to chant it out as the entire bar had already identified me as a mage. And as the whole continent knows, a mage's greatest drawback is when they cannot finish reciting their spells before being dealt with by the enemy.
And so, everyone came flying at me like a groom at his bride on their honeymoon, so that even if I had wanted to keep up with the pretence of chanting spells and experience the life of a real mage, I couldn't! Hmph!
I summoned an Earth Shield with my right hand, and after making sure that all the incoming weapons would not land on me, I threw out all sorts of magic spells with my left. Wind Blades, Fire Balls, Ice Spears and all the like were thrown out, and if I did not aim my spells at anyone in particular, well it wouldn't matter anyway. With a whole mob of people right in front of me it would have been impossible for me to not hit anyone. With each spell thrown out there would be an accompanying cry of pain. What a sense of satisfaction!
Just then, from behind me came Alstier's voice as he sighed, "Your student sure is enjoying himself. He could have just defeated all of them with intermediate spells, yet he chooses to toy with them with only elementary spells."
My teacher nearly spewed out a mouthful of beer, and he laughed chokingly as he explained, "It's not like that, Alstier. That is because he only knows how to cast elementary spells. Don't forget, this student of mine is not really a real mage. But even so, with the Earth Shield, no one can manage to get a hit on him, so those 'elementary spells' of his are already enough of a problem for them."
"Why hasn't he learnt more advanced spells?" came Alstier's curious voice. "With his ability he should be able to master them easily."
"Well, since he started till now, have you heard my student utter a single word of incantation spells?"
"He is not a real mage, and was never taught the proper words to the spells. As such, he doesn't really know a single spell incantation. At the very most, he would pretend to mutter something like 'she sells sea shells on the sea shore'. Even with his talent for magic, he is unable to cast the more advanced level spells without their incantations."
A shocked gasp, followed by, "He doesn't know a single spell incantation? Then how did he learn magic spells in the beginning?"
"Well, about that," I heard my teacher mock-whispering. "I was training him in sword practise one day, and after a tiring day of training, we called a break. Whilst resting, he took the opportunity to walk around the city."
"He went walking around the city even though he called for a break?"
"No, it was I who called for a break. I had received more disappointment than I could take and needed a break from him……"
"…… please continue."
"So he came back. The next day, I was coaching him on horse riding the whole day too, and ……"
"Needed a break again?"
"Yes. I was so tired of failing to get him to learn that I got angry and shouted at him, 'Tell me! Why should I waste my time and effort training an imbecile like you?! What the hell can you do? I can't stand this anymore, I'm going to demand another student!' In the end, the child gave it some thought and cast a few Wind Blades to help cool me off. He then went back to his room and brought out some meat, skewered them, and using a Fire Ball he barbequed some meat for me. Lastly, he cast an Ice Spear and poured some jam over it and gave it to me to eat for desert…… I asked him where he learned all these spells from, and he told me that whilst walking around the city the previous day, he saw several beautiful mages being hassled by some thugs. They got annoyed by the thugs and used Wind Blades, Fire Balls and Ice Spears to chase them away. "
"So, you decided to keep this student of yours because of a fan, some skewered meat and a dessert?"
"Yup…… I mean, of course not! Alstier, do you think I'm such a shallow person?"
There was some muffled laughter coming from Alstier's direction.
A note of annoyance crept into my teacher's voice. "It was three beautiful mages, each using a spell of a different element, yet he was able to learn all three different types of spells and could cast them successfully. And that's not counting the holy spells he had already learnt. How can I exchange him for another when he has so much potential?"
"Yes, yes. Of course you can't exchange him."
"You don't sound at all sincere."
"I'm a Dark Elf, well known for being tricky and insincere, what else can you expect? You're lucky I am not using you for any nefarious plans of mine and should be grateful. The word 'sincere' cannot even be found in the Dark Elves' language!" said Alstier with a straight face.
My teacher merely gave a scoff at that and didn't say anymore.
Hearing a lapse in their conversation, I quickly cut in, "My dearest teacher……"
My teacher hmphed at that and said, "You never add 'dearest' without reason. What is it you want?"
Ah, teachers know their students well. I chuckled embarrassedly and asked, "About the compensation for the damages to the bar……"
I had not even finished when my teacher cut in snappily, "It's only been three years; you've gotten stingier! As long as you are with us, you won't have to pay for a single thing, so don't ask me anymore questions about money. Every time you bring it up, I'll let you experience for yourself why exactly I'm known as the strongest Sun Knight in history."
My concerns put to rest, I let out an evil smirk and started gathering large amounts of water aura, filling the entire bar with it. At the same time, I also started gathering some lightning……
By the time the horde noticed the static in the air and realised that something was wrong, increasing their efforts at hacking through my Earth Shield, I let out a cry, "Web of Lightning!" and released the lightning spell. With the air heavily saturated with water, the electricity spread everywhere, and howls of pain erupted all around.
The Web of Lightning – as the name suggests – is actually formed from a combination of two elementary level spells – water and lightning. When I combined an elementary spell with another, I felt a spark of wonder…… and delight.
"An intermediate level spell! And to use three different elements at the same time," exclaimed Alstier in surprise. "Neo, looks like you underestimated your student's potential."
My teacher didn't get upset at his jibe, and instead, when I sat down at the table once more, he asked me excitedly, "Child, how did you learn how to cast intermediate level spells?"
I admitted the truth honestly, "After you retired from the Sun Knight position, I was disguised in a cloak and heading for a certain street, when I saw a-"
My teacher cut in impatiently and waved his hand, not waiting for me to finish my explanation, "Alright, alright, you saw some hot mage, yada yada…… no need to say further."
Inside, I pouted upset. 'Teacher, you've got it all wrong. It was an old mage geezer! You have no idea how hard it was to force myself to stay and watched that wrinkly old face of his as he slowly finished his incantation and finally cast his spell, thus learning the trick to intermediate spells.'
Just then, the bar owner who looked to be a weak timid sort nervously made his way through the debris to our table and said, trembling, "D-dear valued customers, a-about the damage……"
My teacher turned to look behind him lazily, taking in the broken tables, smashed chairs, puddles of water on the floor and the smashed windows. When he nonchalantly dropped several shiny gold coins into the bar owner's hands, the bar owner broke out in a large smile and said, "Please, please continue to smash till your heart's content!"
And so after that, the three of us sat at the only unscathed table in the whole pub, drinking and eating and talking to our heart's content.
I brought up the latest incident of how the Princess Alice had been kidnapped, as well as my unexpected encounter with the Dark Knight. Although my teacher is currently retired, he had been the Sun Knight for twenty years. Such experience is not something to be scoffed at. Perhaps he might be able to point out something I've missed.
When I reached the part where the Dark Knight had declared that he and the Princess were eloping, as well as his apparent unawareness of a ransom note, Alstier spoke out in disagreement, "Surely you do not believe the words of a kidnapper?"
"But he was extremely handsome," I said bluntly.
"How handsome?" My teacher asked with a serious expression.
I, too, answered with matching severity. "The kind 'where men get the urge to kill him and then piss on his dead body' kind of handsome."
Alstier looked bewildered upon hearing my reply, but my teacher merely nodded his head in understanding and said solemnly, "Ah. It was indeed an elopement."
"You cannot jump to conclusions so hastily," Alstier said disapprovingly, shaking his head at us.
My teacher merely clapped the Dark Elf's shoulder, and in a tone of a wise elder imparting wisdom upon a young child, said "Believe me. You're still young and have not the experience I have."
Alstier scoffed at that in humour, saying "I'm already a hundred and thirty-six years old."
"Elves can live five to eight hundred years old, so in human terms, you're not even twenty and even younger than my student here."
Alstier rolled his eyes at him and teased, "Experience should not matter when converting my age, shouldn't it? Therefore I have a hundred and thirty-six years worth of experience."
My teacher smiled faintly at that. "And yet you are still a child; how envious!"
Alstier looked at him, mystified.
My teacher took another swill of alcohol before swiping his mouth with the back of his hand, looking the part of a rugged adventurer and completely different from when he was still the Sun Knight. He then patted my shoulder and said, "Child, continue on."
I nodded my head and continued, "However, there's one thing that I do not understand: The Queen had forced Leaf and I to join in the quest, indicating that she knows that the kidnapper is a Dark Knight – and notoriously difficult for warriors to handle, so with us in the party there would be a higher chance of getting back the Princess. But on the other hand, Ann is leading us around in circles; clearly she doesn't want us to find the kidnapper. Right now I'm really confused. Do they, or do they not want us to find Princess Alice?"
He smiled faintly at my question, not at all baffled by it. "The answer to that is quite simple: The Queen and Princess Ann are on different sides."
"Different sides?" I still didn't get it. Mother and daughter on different sides?
My teacher smiled and explained, "As the leader of a nation, the Moon Orchid Queen definitely wants Princess Alice back, for if she were to be married to the Son of War in an alliance marriage, it would strengthen the Church of War's standing and influence. However, Princess Ann is not the leader of a nation, but the sister of Princess Alice. If she were to find out that her sister did not love the Son of War and that she already had a secret lover, it is quite likely that she would side with her sister."
"I see," I breathed in understanding. "So the Queen had no other hidden motive and truly wished us to find Princess Alice. That note was probably forged by her to find an excuse for not mobilising the army and instead commanding us to form a party to look for her quietly. After all, it would be a scandal should it come out that her daughter had eloped with someone else. And Ann, on the other hand, purposely volunteered to join in the party to mislead us, allowing Princess Alice to escape with her lover."
My teacher nodded in approval and continued, "And she couldn't lead you guys in the opposite direction either, as that will arouse suspicion amongst you guys and give reason to suspect her sympathy for her sister, as in that scenario the Queen will most likely find out the Princess Alice's whereabouts from her."
"And so that's why we've been chasing after them from a distance, and would even occasionally have a brush in with the kidnapper. Unfortunately for us, the one person the kidnapper had bumped into is this Sun Knight who could not have possibly detained him, allowing him to escape once more," I followed.
How sly of her! When we eventually return empty handed, as the only person to have seen the kidnapper, I would have become her scapegoat and receive the brunt of the anger and blame from everyone.
She must really hate me. Wouldn't it have been better to arrange for Alston to bump into the Dark Knight? It would have been perfectly normal for a priest to fail in detaining the enemy, and no one would have blamed him… and yet… she picked me.
Just then, my teacher's face darkened as he reminded me, "Child, you said that when you met the Dark Knight, you were wearing an assassin outfit?"
I jerked upright at that, face paling. Oh shit! If the Dark Knight were to mention to Ann and Princess Alice that he had met an assassin with a strong holy aura instead of the expected Sun Knight…… those two would know that something was up!
"Figure out a way to cover it up!" My teacher ordered darkly, his tone very unhappy.
"Got it. I'll make sure that they take the secret to their grave…… " I replied coldly. "An early one, if necessary."
Alstier didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this scene. "Can the previous and current Sun Knights of the 'Light' Church not speak of sending anyone to their graves in front of the 'evil' Dark Elf? Such talk at dinner is giving me indigestion," he joked.
My teacher and I shrugged. For the sake of the Dark Elf's digestion, we abstained from any more 'un-Sun Knightly' talk.
My teacher then changed the topic, asking, "Child, what was the general direction you guys were heading in?"
After giving it some thought, I answered, "We were going about in a rather circuitous way, but generally we've been heading towards South West."
"South West, you say?" My teacher was silent for a moment before he let out a 'sunny' smile and said, "It just so happens that we have a quest South West of here too. How 'bout you come along with us and give us a helping hand with the quest? Sounds good?"
"Not at all……"
His smile turned warm and gentle. "What did you say? I, history's strongest Sun Knight, couldn't hear you just now; speak up!"
"Sounds great!!" I exclaimed before gulping down an entire bottle of wine. If I can't refuse him, I can at least make up for it by drinking him out of money!
Upon seeing my childish action, my teacher said to me laughingly, "Stop sulking over there. You'll get thirty percent of the reward after the quest is complete, alright? With the three of us, we can take on pretty high level quests, so the rewards should be quite substantial."
Upon hearing this I immediately put down the bottle and turned to him, saying with humility, "What? This won't do. Teacher, as your student, this Creus will walk over coals for you without a single complaint!"
"If that's so I won't share the rewards with you then."
I hastily changed my tune at that. "But a little reward is sure to go a long way at motivating people!"
"Then I'll just give you ten percent."
"But there are different levels of motivation," I hurriedly explained. "The greater the reward, the higher one's motivation! With the proper motivation (an extra ten percent), a holy knight who could only cast elementary level healing spells could be moved to cast intermediate spells! If the reward were to be increased (by another ten percent), the holy knight might even be motivated to cast advanced healing spells! And with even higher rewards still (additional ten percent)--"
"There's no need to go higher," My teacher smiled coldly as he interrupted me. "I'm more partial to holding my sword to one's neck. Shall I show you how the history's strongest Sun Knight motivates one to cast even the ultimate healing spells?"
I shut up at that. Alright, thirty percent is still better than nothing. It's not worth it to risk my neck (with my teacher, not the quest) for that additional ten percent.
Alstier just sat there shaking his head in bemusement. "Both teacher and student…… can not the two of you leave others with some shred of illusion of the illustrious Sun Knight intact?"