Prologue: This- is our captain
Duty 1: Eat breakfast
Duty 2: Smile, wave, and be the Church's walking billboard
Duty 3: Take care of the undead creatures
Duty 4: Look after the Sun Knight Division's holy knights
Duty 5: Help out with your colleague's problems
Duty 6: Attend various functions and ceremonies
Duty 7: Advise fellow holy brothers against an unwise decision
Duty 8: Get along with your neighbours
Duty 9: Spread the true teachings of the God of Light
Duty 10: Secure the faiths of the believers
Epilogue - Rule B: Respect the other Twelve Holy Knights' privacy
Now, let me introduce you to the daily duties of the great and illustrious Sun Knight.
Firstly, attend various boring functions and gatherings – For example, the coronation of the new king.
Secondly, pretend to be an electric automatic hand-waving machine –waving constantly in above said
functions without breaking one's wrist is an art unto itself.
The third imperative task is – take care of the undead creatures.
The fourth task…… to think that there are more than four tasks to do in a day, does everyone now realize how demanding and tiring my job as the Sun Knight is?!
Prologue: This- is our Captain.
My name is Adair. (Ah-die-er) Just yesterday, I was merely an ordinary holy knight, but everything will change from today onwards. After today, I will be reporting directly to the Sun Knight as one of his Sun Division's holy knights!
Although, my direct commanding officer is not yet officially the Sun Knight; he is the same age as me- only 18 years old. Sun Knights have always taken on their title at the age of twenty years, so that will be when he will step up and replace the current Sun Knight as the 38th Generation Sun Knight.
"Adair, Adair! He's coming!"
Another holy knight who had similarly been chosen for this honour of serving in the Sun Division rushed in, looking all excited and nervous. I know that as holy knights we've always been trained to keep our calm no matter what happens, but-this is the future Sun Knight that we are meeting!
The leader of the Holy Temple's Twelve Holy Knights! As well as our direct supervisor! How can we remain calm in this situation?!
Even though in our hearts we were unable to calm down, we did not wish to affront the Sun Knight with our lack of manners. Within a few seconds, all twenty-five Sun Division holy knights were standing at attention in neat rows, as everyone looked forward with excitement and no small amount of trepidation to the Sun Knight's entrance.
The first to come in was the current Sun Knight. I had seen him in various functions and in the tributes held to the God of Light in the Holy Temple. Each time I see this Sun Knight I would sigh in admiration of his elegance. My decision to be part of the Sun Division had largely to do with this person that I so admired. It's a pity that I had been born too late to serve under this Sun Knight's Sun Division.
This time, the Sun Knight did not speak a word. He merely smiled in a relaxed manner as he stepped aside. It was then that we saw the person behind him.
Is that him?!
My eyes widened as I stared at him, not daring to even blink for fear of missing a single detail.
He just stood there in a pool of sunlight, his back towards the light. We couldn't see his face clearly, but the sun shining down on his head of golden hair made it seem to shine even brighter than pure gold.
This golden hair! So beautiful, like the legendary golden hair of the God of Light Herself. I couldn't help feeling some great emotion stirring deep within me. Perhaps, the Sun Knight that I am to report to is even more perfect than the one I had admired?
The person then stepped forward, revealing his face and figure. Sparkling golden hair, eyes as blue and as deep as the sea, skin as white as snow, and a smile as bright as the sun in the sky, his princely bearing and incredible elegance …… Dear God! I sound exactly like I'm recounting the tale of the legendary Sun Knight!
You might think this rather strange; after all, he is the future Sun Knight, but-but…… he's a little too similar to the 'Sun Knight of the legends'. Even the current Sun Knight-perfect as he is-is a little inconsistent with the image of the legendary Sun Knight... But this person standing in front of me is absolutely identical to the Sun Knight of the legends.
This future Sun Knight looked at each of us with a gentle smile, before finally sighing in delight. "Ah… It must be the God of Light's benevolence that has brought us all here together-to permit this Creus to meet my fellow brothers. Let us become as brothers inseparable, and together bring peace and joy to Her people."
Hearing this speech, I could feel all my emotions rousing. I looked around to my left and right-all the knights of the Sun Division were as stirred up as I. We could not help but hold our heads high and stick out our chest in pride as this thought rang through our minds:
"This-is our Captain, the Sun Knight."
Book 2: Duty 1 – The Sun Knight’s First Duty: “Eat Breakfast!”"Captain Sun Knight, Captain Sun Knight……"
Mmm…… hmm…? I flipped to my other side and buried my head under my pillow. 'There… shouldn't be able… to hear… anything now……'
"Captain Sun Knight!"
I could still hear something. I slowly pulled my head from under the pillow, and slowly sat up. My eyes may be open, but everything was still a blur to me. I was completely unable to focus on anything…… I can therefore conclude that this is NOT my usual waking time!
'Which bastard dared to interrupt my beauty sleep?!'
In a voice lower than my usual one by a whole octave I called out, "May I ask if the holy knight brother outside had been enlightened by the God of Light, and thus come a knocking on this Sun's door to exchange words of Her love and benevolence?"
The person outside sighed in relief, before swiftly changing back to the previous urgent tone. "Captain Sun Knight! It is Adair! Have you forgotten? Today is Sunday."
"Sunday…… is a public holiday!" Once I had figured that out, I fell back onto my bed, pulled up the covers and wrap myself in it.
"No, Captain. Today is your turn to preside over the worship service, have you forgotten? Captain? Captain……"
The calls became softer and softer. I was very satisfied with this. I may still be able to continue on sleeping in completely chaos, but I'd sleep better if there was no one bothering me. Since it's a Sunday I'll sleep till noon before getting up to eat my lunch……
I jumped up from bed in a panic. 'What is it? What's happened?'
"Captain Judge Knight, please don't be so rude……"
I turned to see Judge Knight slamming the door close on Adair, nearly taking out his nose. I have to say, that Adair is not very tactful to dare to talk to Judge in that tone. Even I dare not talk to him that way!
"That vice-captain of your still isn't very flexible. He should have just come in and wake you up instead of calling from outside your door."
The moment the door was closed, the harsh lines of Judge's stern face relaxed a little. He shook his head saying, "With that kind of person as your vice-captain, it is no wonder your Sun Division is always stirring up trouble. Just three days ago they had ambushed the Duke of Ceylan's third son. The Duke was furious and had brought this matter up with the Crown Prince."
"Err…… I'm also very troubled about this matter!" I said. I then sighed, "But it can't be helped, you know how he is, he's just one of those obstinate types!"
I'm not sure if I'm just imagining it, but Judge's deep black eyes seemed to be looking at me meaningfully as he said, "However something about this strikes me as strange. The Duke's third son is a good and honourable knight; he couldn't have done anything to anger the Sun Division. He may have been involved in the earlier case as the person who had disposed of the body, but he was just following the King's orders."
"I don't know. Maybe he accidently stepped on Adair's foot or something? I'm sure you're aware that I rarely interfere in the Sun Division's matter and leave everything to Adair." I shrugged my shoulders, bemused.
Judge frowned at that but did not rebut me, only saying, "It's all in the past anyway. Ask them not to keep picking fights with the third son, or the Crown Prince would be in a difficult position."
I nodded my head obediently and said, "Okay, I'll give them a warning."
Judge then gave me another glance and reminded, "You should start getting ready. The ceremony is starting soon. You only have 30 minutes to spare."
I stared blankly at him. 'The ceremony…? Ah! Is it my turn already to preside over the worship service?'
Every Sunday, the Church of Light will hold a worship service to pay tribute to the God of Light. Its itinerary mainly consists of the priests giving a long sermon on the God of Light's benevolence, as well as recounts of some of the tales of the past Twelve Holy Knights, before everyone sing some songs praising the God of Light. And lastly is the most important event—donations!
Anyway, the Twelve Holy Knights all take turns to preside over the ceremonies, and this Sunday must be my turn again.
Judging from my surprised expression, Judge understood that I had just fully awakened and had finally realised the situation. He said calmly, "Now that you know, hurry up and get ready. You still have 30 minutes, should be plenty of time to spare-"
"What?! Only 30 minutes!" I yelped. "30 minutes is definitely not enough time for me to comb my hair, put on my facial mask, get the steaming iron hot enough to iron my clothes, shine my shoes……"
Judge's eye twitched at this and said, "If that's so then I'll leave you to it," before quickly leaving. He had probably left in such a hurry because he had previously accidently seen me with my green face mask on. Unfortunately, I had been standing in the shadows at that time and had startled him into drawing his sword, nearly slicing me in two.
'Honestly. What's there to be scared of? I now only make pink face masks.'
Speaking of face masks… Thank goodness I had the foresight to make a new batch last night, or else I would never be ready with just 30 minutes. Now, first I'll start heating the iron, then I'll wash my face before putting on the mask, and following that I'll comb my hair with my left hand while I shine my shoes with my right. By then the iron should be ready and I can then start ironing my clothes……
With five minutes left to spare I was at last ready, and I elegantly walked out my room. Standing just outside my door was Adair, waiting for me.
"Adair," I greeted him with a smile.
"Yes, Captain Sun Knight," Adair immediately saluted me.
I gestured at him, signalling to him for us to set off.
"This Sun has heard that you and the rest of the division had ambushed the Duke of Ceylan's third son, and beaten him up…… "
As we walked to our destination, my face turned sorrowful, and I gave a sigh. "Violence is not something the benevolent God of Light approves of."
But Adair interrupted agitatedly, "But he had stabbed you back at the execution grounds. It is unforgivable for him to have injured you so badly……"
"Adair!" I cut him off. I reprimanded him, "The Church of Light's teachings tell us that no matter how serious the crime, as long as the offender truly repents his actions, we have to forgive them and accept them with a kind and merciful heart. This is the God of Light's merciful teachings. Do you understand, Adair?"
"Yes," nodded Adair. "I will beat him up until he repents his actions," he then muttered.
I sighed elegantly and said, "Adair, you still do not understand. The Sun Division's conduct should reflect the God of Light's kindness and goodwill, instead of inflicting violence upon others."
"Understood," Adair nodded once more before mumbling softly, "We will cover his head first with a bag so he won't know that it was us."
'Ah-ha! Adair, oh Adair. You are so smart! As can only be expected of my-personally hand selected-vice-captain.'
I nodded my head in satisfaction.
As we neared the great hall where the service was held I stopped and turned to smile at Adair. "With Her Holiness the God of Light's love shining down upon the earth, I believe the blueberries must be growing in great abundance, the wheat plants bursting with her love, and even milk would taste as sweet as honey! I am grateful indeed for Her caring love, for Her providing such food to Her people."
Adair respectfully noted it all down, "Yes, I will prepare your breakfast. One blueberry jam sandwich and milk, and perhaps some honey oat biscuits to go with?"
I nodded my head, extremely satisfied as I watched Adair leave to prepare my breakfast. When he met one of the Sun Division's holy knights on his way, he stopped and ordered them, "Go cover that bastard knight's head with a bag and beat him up till he can't even open his mouth to repent!"
'Ah. Adair, you managed to so succinctly put the words to my meaning. With a vice-captain such as you, what more could I ask for? ...... except perhaps a blueberry sandwich and a glass of milk?' After rushing for half an hour I'm beginning to feel a little hungry!
'Hmmm… should I wait to eat my breakfast before going over to the service?' Even though I'm supposed to be presiding over the service, I'm actually just there as decoration. The ones who actually preside over the service are the priests from the Hall of Light.
"Oh my? Is this not our most brilliant Sun Knight? Why has he not entered the hall yet, instead of standing around here like a pillar blocking our way? Ha! And a glowing pillar to boot. How pretty this pillar looks with all the light shining on him!"
These remarks…… I blinked and turned around. 'Yup, it's Cold Blood Faction's Metal Knight.'
The whole continent knows that the Metal Knight is famous-or rather, infamous-for his razor sharp tongue and venomous words, capable of infuriating even the most patient of saints. It is said that talking with him for ten minutes will shorten one's life by a year.
However, I don't really see why people say so about him. His words don't sound that insulting to me. In fact, it sometimes sounds as if he were actually complimenting me. Just take that last sentence of his for example. '… how pretty…… with all the light shining on him…' Is this really all that venomous?
He should instead say: 'Your hair looks really yellow like frog shit. You sure you hadn't mistaken frog shit for your hair serum and mistakenly applied it to your hair instead? No wonder I'd always thought you smelled a little funny. Now that I take a closer sniff, the smell is coming from your hair!'
Now that's venomous!
This is why I often suspect that Metal's real personality must not be venomous at all. Of course, I don't know what he really is like because I'm not that close with him. Every time I tried asking Judge he would clam up and refuse to answer me; and if Judge doesn't want to say something, no one can force him-not even the God of Light Herself.
Following behind Metal is another of the Cold Blood Faction's knights. This one however is one I'm more familiar with. He is the Moon Knight, the whole continent knows that he's autistic…… cough! I mean, he's famous for being narcissistic and arrogant and a completely antisocial person. His nose is forever in the air as he looks down his nose at others and being a total condescending bastard.
Because of this, I had had a very poor impression of him at first. After all, no one likes being looked down upon with disdain.
However one day, I had chanced upon him bent over on the ground feeling around for something. The thing is, his head was still lifted high in the air and he was not looking at the ground at all! How can anyone find anything like this?!
He eyes were obviously in good working condition, yet he was feeling around for something on the ground like a blind. And the object he was looking for was plainly beside him at his feet, yet he could not seem to find it. The scene was absolutely hilarious!
After watching him for half an hour and having laughed at him to my satisfaction, I lazily gave a yawn and walked over to pick up a very beautiful and intricately designed silver bookmark, before handing it to him.
"Thanks," He let out a sigh of relief as he took back the bookmark, and-completely opposite to his usual arrogant expression-gave a small but sweet smile.
As I bit into the pie Frost had thrown at me earlier I asked him, "A gift from your lover?"
"How did you know?"
Moon turned to me, startled. When he realised who I was his face went blank. I was pretty sure that when he had taken back the bookmark earlier he had had no idea that it was I, the Sun Knight, who had given it to him.
With his true colours exposed, he looked rather lost and unsure. "Sun Knight……"
I casually took out a second piece of pie and asked him, "Frost made this blueberry pie, do you want one? No need to be shy, I had already given a piece to Judge earlier."
Then, as he ate the pie he complained to me of the hardships of having to keep up the Moon Knight's image. Because he had to lift his nose in the air all the time, the muscles in his neck had stiffened until he was no longer able to bend his head down anymore……
How terrible can not bending down one's head be, I asked.
Moon gave a long sigh as he looked at the ceiling above us before explaining it to me. "If I were to drop anything, it could take me more than half an hour to locate it."
I nodded at this, for I had already seen proof of this earlier.
He could not make use of his considerable height to look down the female priests' top…… cough!
And lastly-and perhaps worst of all-is that he could not bend down to kiss his girlfriend, for how to kiss one's shorter girlfriend when one's head is lifted up?
"Then what do you do? Do you locate a ladder for your lover to climb up?" I asked anxiously. After hearing of his sorrowful plight, I felt closer to him now that I could relate to his problems.
"I can't always look for a ladder, now can I? Besides, ladders are usually located around places where people are sure to walk by, it's not very private." Moon answered me openly. "So I had no choice but to look for a girlfriend even taller than me."
"Hey, you must be at least 180 cm……"
"My girlfriend's 182 cm, and every time she comes out on a date with me she would put on high heels that are at least four-inches high. This way she could bend down her head to kiss me."
I sigh sadly for Moon's tragic plight before telling him of the tragic spot my position as the Sun Knight had placed me into. "The Sun Knight can only love the God of Light, but not women……"
I had only spoken one sentence, but Moon had immediately looked horrified, exclaiming, "Awful! How awful. That's just too tragic!"
~O~O~O~O~Anyway since then, I have another 'friend who is not a friend' among the Cold Blood Faction.
Now back to reality. I smiled at Metal Knight and said, "This must be one of the God of Light's blessings, letting this Sun meet my two brothers on such a lovely morning. This is a really beautiful start to my day.
However, this Sun has to leave to preside over the service and cannot stay to talk with my brothers. This Sun is extremely apologetic about this, but after this Sun has paid tribute to the God of Light's wonderfulness this Sun will definitely seek out my brothers, so that we may continue our exchange of the God of Light's benevolence."
'Of course, it won't be my fault if I am unable to find you guys.' I thought internally.
Upon hearing this, both Metal Knight and Moon Knight were taken aback. Metal was so surprised that he even forgot to be his venomous self and blurted out, "Sun Knight, did you not know that today is the tribute ceremony for the King's coronation?"
Moon Knight on the other hand was looking down at me at a rather condescending angle. But he cannot be blamed for this, because for someone who cannot bend his head down this is the only way he can look at people.
He too added, "All the Twelve Holy Knights are required to come, even I am here."
The tribute ceremony for the future King's coronation…… Why is it that I had heard nothing about it?!
"Morning, Sun Knight." Storm had arrived as I stood there blankly, walking up to me in a relaxed manner and patted me on the shoulder as he said, "Good luck with today's solo."
I slowly turned my head to look at him and asked carefully, "Solo?"
Storm slowly withdrew the hand on my shoulder, and slowly backed away before asking me warily, "Yeah? According to tradition when a new King is crowned the Twelve Holy Knights would all perform a tribute song together, and both you and Judge Knight would each sing a solo to show your blessings for the new king's rule. And hadn't you picked the most difficult song-the God of Light's Melody? Everyone is looking forward to hearing you as it has not been performed in over twenty years."
God of Light's Melody?! That incredibly high pitch song-so high you could even reach the God of Light Herself in the sky; a song so long that it takes half an hour to sing; its verses so long and complicated that you could even call it a book; the song known as the Church of Light's most nonsense-filled tribute song? That song?!
Someone must be trying to set me up!
Judging from my frozen smile and twitching eye, Storm finally realised that I knew nothing about choosing the God of Light's Melody. He hesitantly stepped closer and whispered, "I heard from one of the royal maids that ever since the Duke of Ceylan's son was beaten up by your Sun Division, he's been looking for a way to get revenge on you. Seeing as the Crown Prince had not stopped him, he too, probably wants you to make a fool of yourself to decrease your popularity among the people."
'I see. Like I said, someone's trying to set me up!'
There's no way the Duke of Ceylan would have just complained to the Crown Prince and leave it at that. And the Crown Prince must have had an inkling about my involvement in that Death Knight case. Even though my involvement had ultimately allowed him to finally attain the throne-so he won't exactly try to get revenge on me, but the fact that I had dared to set up a king had probably unsettled him; after all, he is the next king.
Storm recommended, "Just change songs. They probably only want you to switch songs at the last moment and embarrass yourself, and not for you to really sing the song. The Crown Prince would not be pleased if you bungled up the song and ruined his tribute ceremony."
My warm smile still remained on my face, but inside, I was giving a cold laugh. 'Heheh… humiliate myself?
'Don't joke around, I'm the Sun Knight! Even when falling down, the Sun Knight still maintains his grace and elegance; how can you say that the Sun Knight would humiliate himself?! If my teacher were to catch wind of me embarrassing myself in front of the whole country……' I shuddered at my bleak prospects should that really happen.
God knows where that teacher of mine is right now. Why, he might even be right outside in the crowd waiting to watch my performance!
"Brother Storm, this Sun believes that with the God of Light's blessings he will be able to perform the God of Light's Melody, and so spread Her Holiness' kind and gentle love to Her treasured people."
"Sun, don't joke around," said Storm urgently, his face had blanched at my words. "The God of Light's Melody is not a song that one can sing without any preparations. Furthermore, you have to constantly exude Holy Light whilst you perform. Not even the head priests can keep that up for 30 minutes continuously…… no!
"Even before that, remember that you have to perform another tribute song with all the other Twelve Holy Knights, and that's another 10 minutes at least."
I was well aware of all these point. To perform a tribute song refers to singing whilst adding the essence of Holy Light into the words as one sings them, with the aim of affecting one's audience. A quick and energetic song could encourage and motivate people; battle songs could give soldiers additional strength; a relaxing lullaby could lull one to sleep; and an upbeat song could cheer people up, etc. etc. It is said that a song performed by a real master of this art is capable of making even the most embittered criminal regret his crimes and repent.
Unfortunately, these masters are a thing of legends, and so no one knows if it really is possible to make criminals repent with just a tribute song. That is why the easiest way to get a criminal to repent is to send them directly to the Judge Knight! I guarantee you that within three hours he would have the criminals confessing to everything bad he had ever done in his life. Even including the incident where he had stolen his neighbour's panties when he was a kid!
What's that? Handing them over to my Sun Knight Division should be as equally effective?
Bro, you've got it all wrong. If criminals were to be handled by my Sun Knight Division, they would not confess to their crimes and repent, but instead they would not be able to speak up to repent at all!
Now that I've explained what all the fuss is about regarding the performing of the tribute songs, everyone should now understand that it is not such a simple matter as singing a song. It's actually all about expending the effort to pour Holy Light into our songs.
With the combined chorus of the Twelve Holy Knights and thirty minutes of the solo, that's forty minutes that I have to radiate Holy Light for. 'Can I do that?'
I thought it over for a while before deciding, 'It's a bit much. A holy knight would never be able to maintain it for so long. But, for a holy knight who could have become the strongest pope in history, there is definitely no problem!'
Storm was about to continue persuading me when a flurry of footsteps drew near, and Leaf Knight came hurrying out from the Great Ceremonial Hall. Upon seeing us standing outside the entrance he stopped and look at us, stumped, before hurriedly saying, "Sun, why are you guys still outside? Come in quickly, everyone's waiting."
"I thank my brother Leaf for his kind reminder. It must be the God of Light's gentle reprimand to this Sun that tardiness is an undesirable habit," I said before entering the hall.
The Great Ceremonial Hall is the Church of Light's largest building, with a raised dais at the very end. The wall behind the dais was an enormous glass window picturing the God of Light's symbol-an elaborate cross. The sunlight from outside shone in through the glass window, lighting up the Hall and shining down on the raised dais, making it the brightest and most noticeable place.
In front of the dais are rows of seats, usually adequate to seat the people who come for the worship services. However as today is such a big event most of the seats have been taken up by the royalty and the nobles. After them come the wealthier families, with the majority of the ordinary citizens left standing in the back.
My eyes swept through the crowd, instantly spotting His Highness the Crown Prince-and the soon-to-be crowned king-sitting in the middle of the first row, his ministers, advisors and the more important nobles sitting to his left and right. The Duke of Ceylan too was sitting in the first row, a royal knight standing on each side.
The old geezer-the Pope-was sitting in his usual seat to the side of the dais, wearing a veil to shroud his face, acting all mysterious.
Up on the dais, the Judge Knight was already standing in the middle and slightly to the left, the rest of the Cold Blood Faction lined up to his left.
My position is obviously in the middle and slightly to the right of the dais. The arrangement was such that Judge and my positions did not block the God of Light's Cross behind us, allowing everyone a clear view of it.
I walked up to my spot, and Storm stood to my right, Leaf following and standing to his right, and so on……
Finally the Twelve Holy Knights were in their position. Behind us stood the choir priests, while the Bright Light Priests in charge of directing the choir stood in front of us. The Bright Light Priest is actually not one person but two, consisting of the Bright Priest and the Light Priest. They are the Pope's right and left hand man; their position in the Hall of Light is second only to the Pope's.
Following tradition, the Light Priest is a female who specialises in healing magic and boosting magic; the Bright Priest on the other hand is typically a male who is a master in all kinds of exorcism magic as well as with the art of guiding lost spirits to the after world.
It seems that we really were rather late, for the Light Priest did not say anything to us, but instead immediately announced the start of the first tribute song-the song to be performed by all Twelve Holy Knights.
A holy knight stepped up and handed us our music sheets, and the moment he stepped down from the dais, a choir priest behind us started singing a note. She was soon followed by the rest of the choir. They would go 'la la la la' for up to three minutes before it is our turn to sing.
This piece of tribute song is not difficult for me, because during the yearly celebrations of the day the God of Light had descended to our land, a large tribute ceremony would be held where all Twelve Holy Knights would come together to perform this song. Since taking over the title of Sun Knight from my teacher, I've sung this song no less than three times, so I'm quite familiar with it.
I am even less worried as it is a combined performance by all twelve of us. Even if one of us was weaker at radiating holy light, the difference would be made up by the others.
As holy light was never the Cold Blood Faction's specialty, their holy light essence is weaker, and it has always been the Good Warm Faction who had made up for the difference.
Because we Twelve Holy Knights were quite familiar with this song, we soon finished performing the song without a single mistake. Next, the Judge Knight would perform his solo. He stepped forward and without further ado began singing in his deep baritone voice. The whole song was sung in a deep and low tone, seemingly making the audience feel down and depressed.
Thankfully, Judge had picked the shortest and simplest song; the song was mainly about how the sinners would be punished harshly by the God of Light. Even with the chorus from the choir, the song was less than five minutes long; and in actuality Judge's solo had only been two minutes.
But, this is not because he's lazy or anything. As I said earlier, the Cold Blood Faction's specialty was never holy light, so his holy light is not particularly strong. This is why they are allowed to pick the shortest and simplest tribute songs to perform.
However, as the leader of the Good Warm Faction, I am not given such leniency, especially when it is the king's tribute ceremony before his coronation. If I were to pick too simple a song, it might be viewed as an act of disdain to the king.
This is one of the reasons why I decided not to switch songs. If I were to perform the song perfectly the Crown Prince would probably be pleased and forget about the past incident. So, it is not because I am afraid of my teacher finding out that I had humiliated myself, and consequently sending me to meet the God of Light, that I chose to continue on with this song. Definitely not because of that…… at least, it is not the sole reason for my decision!
Judge finished his song and stepped back to his previous position. It is now my turn.
I had just stepped forward a few steps when the people started cheering loudly. In fact, they were cheering even more loudly than at the yearly tribute ceremony. Looks like everyone had heard of the news of my 'chosen' song and were eagerly anticipating it. Ha! I'm probably the only one who had not heard of the news that the Sun Knight would be performing the famous God of Light's Melody not heard for over twenty years!
The God of Light's Melody did not start with a chorus; I am the one who has to start off the song.
I took a deep breath and checked my reserves to make sure that I had sufficient holy light. Seeing as I have enough holy light to perform two of the God of Light's Melody, I made the decision to draw on more holy light. This way, people shouldn't notice me if I were to sing off key, right?
I released a large amount of holy light-enough to cause my whole body to glow softly with a golden light. I had closed my eyes, but I could still hear the murmurs of surprise and awe from the crowd. I then opened my eyes and sang the first line of the song.
"A bright light appears, piercing through the dark, sending down a ray of light, bringing hope immeasurable to us……"
My voice soared up to the heavens and the whole hall reverberated with the clear notes of the God of Light's Melody. The entire hall was filled with holy light, lighting up the hall and chasing away the shadows from even the furthest corners. It was as if the God of Light Herself had graced us with Her presence in the glowing hall.
The crowd had immediately hushed as everyone raised their heads and focused on me, their gaze captivated by me.
The moment I had started I knew I was in deep trouble. 'I really should have practised the song beforehand,' I thought.
I had started on too high a note. This was a very high-pitched song to begin with, and there are many instances where I would have to go even higher. Now that I had started on such a high note, how am I going to continue on in the song when it goes even higher?!
I could hear the gasps of surprise from the Twelve Holy Knights behind me. They had all had some practice with the song before and were well aware of how high the song could go. Someone muttered, "That first line was impressive! You're really something to dare to start off on such a high note."
'What's there to be impressed about? I hadn't meant to start off so high! I'm close to tears here!'
Furthermore, the God of Light's Melody is extremely long winded. I had very nearly run out of breath several times before I finally reached the next interval where I could take my next breath.
To other holy knights, the difficulty of performing this song would be the impossible challenge of releasing so much holy light. But releasing such large amounts of holy light does not faze me at all. It is the fact that the song is so difficult to sing in the first place that makes it so taxing for me!
'Oh no! This next line is pretty long, and I have to hold the final note really, really long!'
I elegantly placed my hands on my diaphragm, and pressed the shit out of it. I pressed down with all my might to squeeze out the very last breaths of air I had in my lungs……
"Famine, disease, natural disasters, and evil…… all disappear with the shine of Her li-…… (I pressed down)…… (and continue pressing)…… (and pressed down even harder!)…… -ight!"
At this point, I had tears in my eyes as I finally finished that very long line. Thank the God for Her blessings, I finally finished-- the first part. At the end there I was just about out of breath and could not squeeze out any more, causing my note to waver heavily, but I didn't have time to fret over it. Next comes the choir; they would sing for about a minute. I have to make full use of that one minute and try to recuperate.
I relaxed a little and released my hands from their position on my diaphragm before realising……. how hungry I am!
I had been hungry even before the ceremony had started, and after the huge effort I had exerted singing just now, plus the desperate pressing of my stomach, everything had led to my becoming even hungrier. My stomach is so empty right now that I could swear that my front is touching my back!
At this moment, the dazed crowd finally awoken from their stupor, and the Great Ceremonial Hall was filled with thunderous applause. Even the voices of the choir were drowned out in the sea of applause as the crowd exclaimed:
"What a marvel! What a beautiful voice! I never knew that the Sun Knight was such an impressive tenor."
"Look, look! There're even tears in his eyes! He must have truly felt the presence of the God of Light in Her song and was moved to tears!"
"That wavering note at the end was wonderful! He'd managed to fully express the deep passions and feelings in the song in his voice!"
From behind me came Leaf's low voice, "Sun, you sung that part really well. However, are you sure that you can continue on? Do you need me to step in and finish it for you?"
Upon hearing this I was extremely glad. 'Leaf, I love you, you're such a great guy!'
I was about to agree to the exchange when Storm suddenly spoke up, "No."
He then continued on to explain, "The middle part of the God of Light's Melody is the longest one, with up to twenty minutes of singing. Continuously expending holy light for twenty minutes would be too much. Among the Twelve Holy Knights only you are able to pull that off. Sun, finish singing this middle part, and me and Leaf will sing the last part for you."
After hearing Storm's explanation, even Leaf the nice guy, stepped back.
At this, my gaze turned to look at Earth Knight. Earth's holy light should be the second strongest among the twelve of us. After all, his specialty-Earth Shield-is the result of adding holy light to his frenzy, resulting in such a strong defensive shield. It should be no problem for him to release holy light for twenty minutes.
"Heheh… s-sorry Sun, my voice is too deep, it's impossible for me to sing the God of Light's Melody," said Earth apologetically. However, I could see his unholy delight at my situation shining from his eyes; he did not look apologetic at all!
Unfortunately, what he said was true. His voice is almost as deep as Judge's. It's just not possible for him to sing such a song as high-pitched as the God of Light's Melody. Besides, I had made it even worse for myself by starting off on such a high note…… but that expression of his just makes me extremely irritated!
In addition, when I glanced at His Highness the Crown Prince and the Duke of Ceylan, the former was still smiling harmlessly as usual, while the latter had an extremely sour expression as he glared at me. I bet he hadn't believed that I would really be able to perform the song.
Those two bastards!
They were the reason I was forced to sing such a difficult song without any practise beforehand! I could have forgiven them for that, but the fact that they had made me perform the song whilst hungry is inexcusable!
Don't they know that when I'm feeling hungry it means that my blood sugar level is dangerously low? For someone like me who can eat sugar in the stead of their main meals to have such a low blood sugar level, it will only result in making me extremely cranky. And only God knows what I would do when in such a cantankerous mood!
"I'm going to sing the whole song," I announced.
"What?" Storm was shocked at my announcement. Even the other Twelve Holy Knights had turned to look at me, various expressions of admiration, disapproval and worry in their eyes.
And just then, the one minute of chorus was over and it was my turn to sing the second part of the God of Light's Melody. I ignored Storm and Leaf's worried objections, took a deep breath, and began singing the second part.
"O' Sinners, lower your heads and repent,
For no matter where you cover in the dark,
You cannot hide your crimes from the Judge.
O' virtuous people, lift your heads and look up,
For as long as the Sun still shines upon the land,
The light will never be vanquished."
The first part may have nearly caused my expiration from lack of breath, but the second part was much easier. Although, this part is often called the 'holy knight killer', for holy knights have to expend twenty minutes worth of holy light at this part, and hardly anyone is able to finish it.
In contrast with the first part, the verses in this second part are much easier to sing, so I did not have any difficulties with it. However, I was hit with another dilemma…… the song is too dull!
It was precisely because the first part was so difficult, that it had taken everything from me just to finish singing it. I had not had any time to spare a thought to my hunger. But now that the second part was so easy and dull, I was completely relaxed and could feel the emptiness of my stomach. I wondered idly if the reason I was able to project my voice so loudly had anything to do with my stomach echoing my voice……?
I slowly and unhurriedly-sort of reminds me of a cow-finished the second part. The crowd immediately gave me an applause, although it was nowhere near the enthusiastic cheering I had received earlier. But I don't blame them, for the fact that they could even remember to clap for me when they were already close to nodding off is quite impressive.
Following this is another minute of chorus by the priest choir, allowing me a minute to rest.
"Sun, are you really sure you don't want us to step in for you?" Leaf asked quietly from behind me. He sounded rather worried.
"Don't be stubborn! You've already expended a lot of holy light. This last part requires you to radiate enough holy light to drown out the priests' holy light. It'll be even harder than the previous part." Storm too advised me to step back.
Expending holy light is not the problem here…… it's my hunger that is worrying!
The third and final part is extremely high-pitched and the verses extremely long. It is said to be the God of Light's Melody's hardest part. So as soon as I start singing this third part, I'll be so nervous that I would forget all about my hunger!
"My brother Storm and brother Leaf, please believe in this Sun. With the blessings of the God of Light, this Sun believes that he will be able to successfully finish Her song."
After hearing this, the objections and persuasions from behind ceased.
The one minute of chorus is almost up, and here comes the final part of the God of Light's Melody. The first note is an extremely high note, loud and piercing, reverberating through the large hall as if symbolizing the light piercing through the darkness…… and at the same time startling awake those who had fallen asleep during the second part.
I must have been pretty good, for more than a few slumping people had immediately jerked awake and straightened themselves. Judging from their expressions they must have received a pretty good shock, for they were now wide awake. Heheh…...
As I sung with all my heart, my eyes turned to glance at the Duke smugly, only to see the guy winking at a knight standing in a quiet corner. The knight was rather ordinary-looking, so I'm disinclined to believe that the Duke was flirting with him. (-.-")
After receiving the signal from the duke, the knight merely nodded and took out a scroll while giving a sinister look in the direction of the raised dais.
That there is definitely a plot aimed at me, or my name is not Creus Sun!
The scroll the knight had taken out looks to be a magic scroll. A magic scroll is a scroll made from a special parchment where a sorcerer had imbued his magic ability into as he writes on it. These scrolls can be used to cast a spell once, and the spell cast would obviously depend on what the sorcerer had written on the scroll. After the spell has been cast, the magic scroll would then just become an ordinary piece of parchment.
There aren't many sorcerers who know how to create a magic scroll, and both the specially made parchment and special ink are very expensive. With limited supply and such a high cost, the end product-the magic scroll is considered to be one of the more expensive products to be sold on the market.
To spend so much money on a magic scroll just to be aimed at me--how wasteful!
If you had given me the money instead, I would have risked inciting my teacher's wrath and humiliated myself for you!
No, rather than let that guy use the scroll on me and waste all that money, I'll just snatch it from him beforehand. 'It'll be my compensation for the harrowing experience I had undergone at the hands of your son.'
I kept a constant eye on the knight as I sung, and it was only when I was close to finishing the song that the knight made a movement and got ready to throw the scroll. But as I watched and waited, he did not throw it out. He seemed to be waiting for something.
I thought about it for a moment before realising his plan. How sly! He must be waiting for me to reach the end of the song when my holy light reserves would be empty! How sneaky and underhanded! I should have expected it from a knight assigned to carry out the duke's dirty deeds.
But no matter how underhanded you are, you cannot match my underhandedness…… Ahem! I mean, no matter how intelligent you are, you cannot match my intelligence!
As I excitedly thought about how the magic scroll would soon be mine, my singing grew even louder and higher-pitched!
It is now the last line of the song. 'Wait for me, my magic scroll, I'm coming for you!'
"Praise…… be…… the…… light……" As I sang the final line, I gave off large amounts of holy light. The holy light exploded out and filled the entire hall with it, and even shone out from the windows. Everyone was instantly blinded. Everyone except me, that is. I could clearly see the knight standing in the corner. He too was blinded by the light.
This is it! While everyone was blinded by the holy light, I'll cast a paralysis spell on the knight and steal 'my' magic scroll! I was in the middle of chanting the paralysis spell when I was suddenly hit by a dizzy spell.
I was about to fall when someone steadied me. I looked up only to see a black figure rushing down the dais towards the knight.
It must be the Judge Knight! In such glaringly bright holy light he couldn't have been able to see anything. The only person who could have possibly been able to see through my holy light would be the Pope. Yet, Judge was not only able to sense my faltering and steady me; he was also able to reach the knight without error. Amazing!
The holy light lasted for about ten seconds before gradually dissipating away. When it was gone, every single person in the hall stared at me stunned, while I stood there on the dais with a serene expression. As I maintained my serene expression, I glanced at the knight and saw him lying beaten up on the ground, the magic scroll shoved into his mouth. The person responsible for his pitiful condition was already back in his place behind me.
'Oh, Judge, my friend, why had you not brought back the scroll to me instead of shoving it in his mouth? That's so wasteful!'
After mourning the loss of 'my' magic scroll for a moment, I then turned and looked at the Duke of Ceylan in glee. Upon seeing that I had successfully finished the song, the latter had immediately turned to the knight in anger, but when he saw the state his knight was in he had paled abruptly.
I gave a cold chuckle inside as I thought, 'You think to ambush me with such a simple underhanded trick? Your grace, you have greatly underestimated the head of the Twelve Holy Knights'
"This Sun sincerely offers His Highness the soon-to-be crowned king this tribute song-the God of Light's Melody. This Sun is confident that under Your Highness' wise and just rule, as well as with the blessings from the God of Light, you will usher in a new age of peace and prosperity."
With that, I elegantly bowed to the Crown Prince before retreating back to take my place among the Twelve Holy Knights.
The Crown Prince let out an extremely pleased smile at my blessings and started to clap while praising, "What a beautiful tribute song, as can only be expected from the perfect Sun Knight."
At this point the rest of the audience finally woke up from their stupor and started cheering. No matter the ordinary citizen, the royal knights or even the people from the Church of Light, everyone was cheering together excitedly as they all shouted something along the lines of, "Long live the Sun Knight, long live the King, long live the God of Light!"
'Yes, yes! That's it! Shout out 'long live the King', and please the Crown Prince even more!' I shouted in my heart as I stole a glance of the Crown Prince's face. Haha! He's smiling even brighter than a Sun Knight's bright smile.Because the cheering was so loud and enthusiastic, the Light and Bright Priest spent a long time calming down the crowd. They then announced the next event-the new King's tour of the city. To put it simply, the new king will parade on the streets and through the city, thus announcing that said guy is the next king, so watch out and don't offend him should you ever meet him strolling in the streets in the future.
It is in the human nature to be proud of one's reputation after all. After stroking his ego-even if I had once set up his own father-he had still praised me and called me the perfect Sun Knight.
It is in the human nature to be proud of one's reputation after all. After stroking his ego-even if I had once set up his own father-he had still praised me and called me the perfect Sun Knight.
The Crown Prince stood up and two rows of royal knights hurried to clear a path through the crowd for him. They then left the Great Ceremonial Hall and began their grandiose trip out into the city.
The Pope would then be the next to leave.
But you know? That old geezer loves to play at being mysterious and is always seen with a veil hiding his face from everyone else. Who knows if the person currently sitting in his seat is really the Pope or not? The person sitting there might have been a substitute, while the real Pope has gone off for his breakfast!
After the Pope is the Twelve Holy Knights' turn. As the leader of the Twelve Holy Knights, I am, of course, the first to leave. As I passed by Judge, I said quietly to him, "Thanks for earlier."
The moment I stepped down from the dais and was certain that my teacher would not be able to see me, I immediately swayed on my feet as my hunger finally caught up with me. I would have collapsed inelegantly to the floor were it not for Storm and Leaf catching on to my weakened condition and hurriedly supporting me.
"Sun! Sun! Are you alright?" Leaf asked quietly.
I said in an extremely weak voice, "I……"
'I'm going to die from hunger!'
"How could he be alright after expending so much holy light?!" Storm said worriedly. "Stop bothering Sun and just hold him steady."
"Yes, of course." Leaf hurriedly nodded.
I suddenly spotted my vice-captain standing near one of the side entrances carrying a tray with my blueberry jam sandwich and milk. However, he looked rather hesitant, as if unsure if he should approach us or not. Seeing this, I immediately struggled up, trying to dislodge Blaze and Storm so I could get my beloved breakfast to its rightful place-inside my growling stomach.
"There's no need for your vice-captain, we can support you just fine. Don't worry, you can depend on Storm and I!"
Blaze grabbed me once more while waving away Adair, telling him that there was no need to come forward. Adair stared at me hesitatingly, not daring to leave, yet not bold enough to step forward.
"The parade is about to start, let's go," Storm said urgently, and then with Blaze's help he started dragging me away.
'No no no! Let me go!'
'I'm so hungry! Adair, my blueberry jam sandwich, my milk, and my honey oat biscuits! Blaze, Storm, please let me go!'
'Adair-! My breakfast!!!'
Book 2: Duty 2 – The Sun Knight’s Second Duty: “Smile, wave, and be the Church’s walking billboard!”After the tribute ceremony was over, and in accordance with tradition, the future king is to parade around the city, while the Twelve Holy Knights tag along behind.
So after dragging me away from my breakfast, Storm and Blaze helped me up onto my horse, before they themselves get onto their own horses, with Leaf and the rest of the Good Warm Faction following behind.
The only person riding abreast with me was the Judge Knight. And following behind him were the rest of the Cold Blood Faction.
Ahead of us was the Crown Prince-the future king. Riding to his left and right are his most trusted royal knights. Judge and I followed behind, covering his back.
The tribute song God of Light's Melody seem to be having a good effect on the people, as they were very excited and enthusiastic as if the God of Light Herself had descended in front of them. The streets were filled with people, all cheering so loudly that my eardrums were close to bursting.
I think the only time the people were this excited was when the world famous theatrical troupe visited the city to perform one of their plays a few years ago. As for the His Majesty the King's inspection tour…… well, it would be considered successful if it did not degenerate into a vegetable market, with everyone trying to score a hit on His Majesty.
I believe that the last time that fat pig had come out for one of his tours, the tomatoes had been growing particularly well…… In the end, all the royal knights accompanying the King on that particular inspection had sworn off eating tomatoes forever. This is another reason why the King was so unpopular with his own knights-after accompanying the King on several inspection tours, the knights were unable to look at vegetables without puking anymore.
The parade tour had only just begun, but Judge had been giving me several little glances. To the unknowing bystanders, it probably looked like he was glaring at me, but I knew that that was his concerned look. Due to my extreme hunger my face was probably as white as flour.
The Judge Knight sat ramrod straight astride his mount, his eyes focused on the road ahead. The aura he emitted was dark and intimidating, and all in all he looked aloof and distant; but from his mouth came the concerned words, "You doing alright?"
"Not at all! I'm hungry! I'm going to die from hunger! I want to eat blueberry jam sandwich, I want to eat honey oat biscuits, I want to drink milk." I muttered as I smiled and waved at the people all around me. It's not like it matters what I say right now. It's so noisy they can't possibly hear me. They'll probably think that I'm talking about the God of Light's benevolence or shit like that.
The corners of Judge's lips gave a little twitch-looks like he's close to smiling. Luckily after more than ten years of training, his ability to maintain his cool and stern demeanour rivals my own ability to fake my smile. He managed to push down the corners of his lips, giving off the appearance that he was in an extremely bad mood. However, out of the corner of his lips he whispered quietly, "Be patient just a little longer, you'll get to eat your breakfast soon."
Be patient just a little longer? Let me see, at the rate we are going at right now, the time necessary to complete a round of the city would take up…… a whole. Fucking. Day!
Are you kidding?! I'd probably faint from hunger halfway through!
The Sun Knight falling off his horse… can that be considered horse riding?! My horse riding skills may be rather
Back then, this was what my teacher had told me:
"Child, even though you are a holy knight, it's alright if your sword skills are poor! That can be overlooked, for at least your self-recovery abilities are extremely good-you don't have to worry about dying even if the enemy were to cut you up a little."
I was thirteen that year and had been learning sword skills from my teacher for three years. All the other future Twelve Holy Knights had successfully passed the intermediate level of swords fighting. Judge had actually passed the advanced level a year ago, but I was the only one who had yet to even pass the basic elementary level, despite trying and failing three times already.
"Child, even though you are a holy knight, it's alright if you are unable to attain frenzy! At least you know how to cast the priests' special defensive spells-Holy Blessings. After all, its effects are more or less the same as frenzy."
I was sixteen that year and had been learning from my teacher for six years. All the other future Twelve Holy Knights had already successfully attained frenzy. I was the only one unable to do so. I'd like to add that Judge had successfully attained frenzy when he was thirteen.
"But my child! As a holy knight, you cannot not know how to ride a horse! Is there such a thing as a knight who does not know how to ride a horse? Of course not! Why, you might as well you go and create a holy infantry division yourself!"
At that time behind me, Earth just happened to clear the highest hurdle in the horse racetrack, his skill and posture so perfect that even I felt like cheering.
'Hmm… now that I think back on it, perhaps our enmity had started back when I was sixteen years old.'
In the end, my teacher got so angry and frustrated with me that he raised his Holy Sun Blade, held it to my neck and said, "Get on the horse. If you dare to fall off, I will immediately send you off to meet with the God of Light so you can suggest to Her the possibility of creating a holy infantry!"
Because I had been scared stiff and dared not move, as well as because the horse under me had also been frightened by my teacher's wrath that it, too, dared not move-with both man and beast scared stiff, I was thankfully spared the fate of being sent off to meet with the God of Light.
However ever since, I no longer dared to fall off my horse…… at least, not unless I was a hundred percent sure that my teacher was not present. And now at such a huge event, I cannot possibly know for sure if my teacher might just happen to be standing in some corner watching on. If I were to really fall off my horse, next year tomorrow might just become the first anniversary of my death.
But if this continues and I have to suffer my hunger for an entire day, I cannot guarantee that I would not fall off my horse, weak from hunger. So I hurriedly turned to Judge for help. "Judge, do you have any blueberry biscuits with you right now?"
Judge gave me a look, and at my terribly pale face he hastily added, "Don't worry, the Crown Prince is busy with a lot of national matters. He has only arranged for the parade to go along the main streets. It should only take half a day."
Upon hearing that I still had half a day to wait, my face turned gloomy…… Ah, no! Wrong. My face always maintains its brilliant smile.
And my left hand was still waving elegantly at the citizens crowding around in the streets. But at the news that I had half a day to go, I immediately adjusted the speed, my waving hand getting slower and slower……
"Child, it is now time to teach you how to wave to the people."
"Teacher, do you even have to teach a person how to wave?"
"Child, at your usual waving speed, how many times do you wave in a minute?"
One minute later…
"Teacher, eighty-eight times."
"Okay. Now tell me this, how long did it take the last time I had accompanied His Majesty the King on his city tour?"
"I think it took about three hours."
"Now the next question is a mathematical one. If you were to wave at a rate of eighty-eight times a minute, and you had to wave for three hours continuously, how many times would you have to wave? "
"This next one is a question regarding one's physical health. If you had to wave your hand continuously 15,840 times, what do you think would happen to your hand and wrist?"
"…… I don't know."
"So, my child, do you want to learn from me how to only wave a thousand times in any parade, or would you rather wave 15,840 times in any and all future parades?"
"Teacher! Please teach me how to wave my hand!"
The longer the parade will take, the slower the speed of waving, and the wider the angle of each wave. At the same time, one's upper arm should remain in a naturally downward sloping position, bending only at the elbow to move one's forearm to wave, thus utilising the most energy efficient way as well as the least number of times possible to wave continuously at any crowd, ensuring that one's arms retain the capability of holding one's lover at night…… ah, no! I mean practising one's sword skills and correcting work documents!
This is the secret to the art of waving, passed down to me from my teacher!
Although I am armed with the art of hand-waving, I still find myself faced with a dilemma. Just now Judge had said that the parade would last up to half a day, which would mean about five hours. If I were to adjust my hand-waving speed to wave only a thousand times in five hours, that would mean that I can only wave two hundred times per hour, 3.33 times each minute, once every twenty seconds.
Twenty seconds to complete one wave?!
This-isn't this is a little too slow?! At such slow speeds people might think that my arm was spasming instead of waving.
While pondering on how to solve my problem, Storm's voice spoke up from behind. "Sun, could I talk with you for a while?"
"Brother Storm, are you yearning to share tales of the God of Light's benevolence or Her mercy?"
'Please do!' I was just thinking of talking with someone to kill some time, so that I can speed up my hand-waving later on, but here Storm was, asking to talk to me before I had even asked.
But it's strange that Storm would take the initiative to chat with me. He always complained that talking with me was an extremely tiring process-even more tiring than having to wink at a hundred women. He said that speaking with me for ten minutes is enough to send him into a deep sleep at night because he would be so tired out from our conversation.
"There's no need to talk about anything in particular, anything is fine. I just want to pretend to talk with someone," explained Storm hastily after the suspicious look I gave him. He then further added, "As you know, there are more than a hundred women on each street, and this parade would pass through quite a number of streets. If I were to wink at every single woman on this city tour, I would become blind! That's why my teacher taught me a technique of winking only a thousand times in a single parade! "
"… …" Why does this sound so familiar? (-.-")
At that moment, Storm winked at another two women in the crowd and smiled flirtatiously, inciting excited shrieks from the crowd of females. He then directed his horse to move ahead and to the side of me as he began 'talking' with me.
"My teacher often told me that for some strange reason, women always like to see two good-looking men standing close to each other. As the Sun Knight is always a beautiful man-even if he were one of the more average-looking ones he would still be far from ugly-so it is always best to talk with the Sun Knight. I would not even have to wink at a single woman during the whole parade, if I were to just place my hand on your shoulder, or to push back a stray lock of your hair, it is enough to send the women into a screaming and fainting frenzy."
Upon hearing this, I entire body went stiff and I unconsciously gave a little kick to my horse's belly. My horse instantly and beautifully leapt to the side. In that one moment, I felt as if the horse and I were one. My revulsion at the thought of being touched by another male was successfully conveyed to my horse, leading it to co-operate with me so well!
'O' horse of mine! You must be a stallion for sure, my good brother! I promise to reward you with the best hay I can find later when we return to the Holy Temple.'
"… … Don't worry. I have no interest in touching a guy either. I'll still wink my thousand winks, but just talk with me for a while so I can kill some time."
I released a breath of relief. Thank goodness I don't have to be touched by Storm. If I had to choose between letting him touch me and having to wave 25,840, I'd rather choose the latter. I mean, it's not like I have any lover to hold at night, so it wouldn't matter if I were to lose my hands or not.
I smiled and asked, "Then does my brother wish to talk of the God of Light's merciful nature or Her benevolence and generosity?"
"Er……" Storm looked like he was having a hard time choosing between the both undesirable topics.
After that to avoid hearing me speak of the God of Light's mercy and benevolence, Storm would chat nonstop, hardly daring to let me cut in with a word. But this suited me just fine-not only did I not have to wave my hand, I did not even have to open my mouth to speak either. If you ignore the fact that I'm extremely famished, I could say that I have no complains whatsoever about my current situation.
'Hungry, hungry, I'm so hungry……'
I turned to considering Storm, looking him up and down. I wonder, if a person could be eaten, which part would taste the best? The breast? Or the thigh? or maybe even the calf……?
The flood of words from Storm slowed down and finally stopped. He asked me strangely, "Did I say something wrong? Sun, why are you looking at me like that?"
I was jerked out of my fantasizing by his question. I just shook my head at him and looked down, deciding not to look at Storm anymore. I don't want him to say that I had been looking at him strangely again. But when I looked down and saw the two perked up ears of my mount, I began drooling once again. Since roasted pig ears taste so good, roasted horse ears shouldn't taste that bad, right?
"Su- Sun?" Storm called out to me hesitatingly, but I was too busy salivating over horse ears to pay him any attention. He then called out in a louder voice, "Sun! Quick, look there, there's some disturbance in the crowd over there."
I raised my head just in time to see a large and juicy tomato up high in the sky. The tomato contrasted rather nicely with the clear blue sky to look deliciously red and ripe…… It looks sooo good!
The thrown tomato in the air curved and started to fall back down as gravity kicked in, creating a beautiful red arc……
……and finally landed on Judge. The whole street instantly became quiet as a grave.
'Yay! This is great! Since we're such good friends, it shouldn't be a hard thing to ask Judge for a tomato!' I thought. I swallowed the saliva pooling in my mouth before opening my mouth to ask, "Judge……" '…please give me the tomato!'
I had not finished my request when Judge calmly flicked the tomato from his uniform. Then in a show of superb horsemanship, he directed the horse to stomp on the tomato.
He said coldly to the culprit who had thrown the tomato, "If something like this occurs again, this is what will happen to you."
The guy gulped nervously as he looked at the completely squashed tomato, his previous bout of courage deserting him. He immediately turned tail and disappeared into the crowd.
'Judge……' I looked at the remaining tomato juices on his uniform, and then turned to look down at the squashed tomato. 'My tomato! You idiot!'
'Why throw it at Judge? Why not throw at me instead?
'I'm already so hungry to the point of thinking of eating horse ears, why didn't you just throw it to me so I can eat it?!'
That tomato was so juicy and smelled so good! Even though it had been completely squashed by Judge's horse, it still smelled just as appetizing. No, in fact it actually smells even better after all its juices had burst out! I really feel like eating tomatoes. I had forgotten to mention to Adair earlier to prepare my dessert. First I'll eat my blueberry jam sandwich, then I'll wash it down with a glass of milk while leisurely dipping my honey oat biscuits in the milk and eat them, and afterwards I'll follow it with a large juicy tomato. Ah… that would be utter bliss.
"Sun Knight, can you please…… Sun Knight? Is that OK?"
'Huh? What? Hmm… my honey oat biscuits, yum…'
I smiled distractedly as I mumbled, "Honey… …"
"Sun Knight, do you really need to think so long on a name? Please hurry up and stop wasting my time."
Upon hearing Judge's cold and deep voice, I was instantly jolted from my daydreaming. As I looked about and took in the scene around me, I could see a couple standing in front of me. From their bearing and demeanour I could tell that they were husband and wife; and held in the arms of the wife was a newly born baby. Thinking back on Judge's words-'think so long on a name', I instantly grasped the situation.
Right away I smiled brilliantly at them and said, "Let's call her-Honey. May she grow up to be as sweet as honey, a sweet and gentle girl who will be well loved by all."
I shouldn't be wrong! They must be asking me to name the baby. I've already experienced this same situation so often now that whenever I see a baby less than a week old, I would have the reflexive impulse to start thinking of a name for them.
"Ah!" The crowd around us cheered and congratulated the couple and their newly named baby. "What a beautiful name! Honey, little Honey!"
I was right! Thank goodness for my fast reaction. I managed to escape a potentially embarrassing situation. I'm actually quite impressed with myself, to be able to turn around the awkward situation……
However… the married couple don't seem to be very pleased with the name I gave? They had some pretty strange expressions on their face…?
Now that's weird. Typically parents only ask me to name their babies as a blessing to their newborn child. So as long as the name isn't too weird or anything they would usually just accept the name happily. The name Honey might be a little unusual, but it's not as if it actually sounds bad…… right? (Could just call her 'Honey, I'm home!' :p)
At this time, Storm came up to me, an awkward expression on his face as he whispered into my ear, "Their baby is a boy, not a girl."
Book 2: Duty 3 – The Sun Knight’s Third Duty: “Take care of the undead creatures”
I kicked open Pink's wooden door, but I did not see Pink. Instead, I saw someone else…… no, I mean, something else.
Roland might have the flame eyes of a Death Knight, but he is no ordinary Death Knight. No, in addition to the flames eyes, his pale corpse was covered with black flame markings, and he had a pair of clawed leathery black wings growing out from his back; a heavy and black dark aura surrounding him.
He is specifically highlighted in all the undead creatures books, the one they all warned never to be allowed to be born, for he could summon whole armies of undead creatures; he is the strongest and most powerful of all undead creatures; he is the Death Lord; he is……
He is--wearing a pink apron and holding a mop as he diligently mops the floor clean.
"Roland. What the hell are you doing?" I asked emotionlessly.
Roland calmly raised his head to look at me, and then answered my question seriously. "I am mopping the floor."
I was speechless for a moment. Just then, my stomach gave a loud growl and I suddenly exploded. I flipped over a nearby table and shouted, "What the fuck do you mean by 'mopping the floor'?! You are the general of the vast undead armies, the Death Lord! You should be outside, killing and pillaging the city, slaughtering innocents left and right and leaving behind a river of blood and bodies in your wake! Have you forgotten that you are a Death Lord?!"
Roland was stunned by my outburst as he looked between the fallen table and me, before frowning. "Creus, you are the Sun Knight."
At that moment, Pink walked out from a door, holding a lollipop in her hand. She shook her head and sighed, "My, my. What is the world coming to? A Death Lord who quietly mops floors indoors, while the Sun Knight is demanding him to go out on a homicidal rage."
"Don't say that, Pink. Creus is a pretty decent Sun Knight……" Roland said seriously.
The moment I saw Pink I charged over towards her and snatched away her lollipop before desperately licking it. "How sweet! So sweet and tasty!"
Pink was stunned by my actions for a second, before bursting into tears. She pounded at me and tried to snatch back the lollipop, but she was too short to reach it. In the end, she gave up on hopping up to reach it and instead started sobbing instead, "Sun, you big meanie! Give me back my lollipop! Sob, sob!"
Roland was clearly taken aback by the scene unfolding in front of him, but he then turned and scolded me,
"Creus, as a Sun Knight you shouldn't steal a little girl's candy. That's just not right."
I gave another lick to the lollipop as I refuted him. "What? I don't see any girl here. I only see the corpse of a dead girl. A corpse doesn't need to eat any candy! As the Sun Knight I simply cannot allow such a waste of good food to happen right in front of me, now can I?"
Roland frowned at that, unable to refute my statement.
After seeing that tears wouldn't work on me Pink immediately stopped crying and accused, "You would allow a Death Lord and a necromancer to walk about in front of you, yet you cannot abide the wasting of a little lollipop? Roland, and you just called this candy stealing thief a decent Sun Knight?!"
But Roland didn't seem to hear her, absorbed in his contemplations on whether stealing a corpse's candy is the right thing to do or not.
Pink then slowly began floating up as a heavy dark aura swirled portentously around her, her hair swaying in an invisible breeze. She said ominously, "Sun, I'm warning you. If you don't return the lollipop to me this
instance, I'll make sure you regret it for the rest of your miserably short life."
Even though the city's strongest necromancer (and also the only necromancer) was getting into such a wrathful mode right in front of me, I still coolly licked the lollipop and said unhurriedly, "Frost mentioned that he's going to make strawberry ice cones. Do you want them?"
Right away Pink dropped back to the ground and clutched my leg, her shining doe-like eyes looking at me pleadingly. The only thing missing to complete the picture would be a wagging tail.
I humph and said haughtily, "Then the lollipop…?"
"Well of course you can have it! We've known each other for such a long time, our relationship is as deep as the rot on a decades old grave! What's a little lollipop between you and me? If you so desired I would even give you a newly dead ultra-fresh corpse!" Pink said with infinite sincerity.
'Urgh! Who wants your fresh corpse? Stop saying such disgusting things, I'm still eating here! Now you've gone and reminded me of when I had to repay my debt with digging up corpses for you. Urgh! I'd probably seen every stage of rotting corpses, and then some.'
"You guys……" Roland suddenly spoke up questioningly.
I kindly explained it to him, "Don't worry, Roland. Even when we had our worst argument, Pink had merely thrown me out of the house, sending me flying several meters and only knocking down a row of houses. That's a far cry from making me 'regret it for the rest of my miserably short life'."
Pink was quick to complain, "Hey, don't make it sound as if it was completely one-sided. After throwing you out hadn't you immediately come running back and completely destroying the house and my cleaning corpse! It took me a long time before I was able to return the house to just the way it was before."
Roland frowned and asked, "So, you guys aren't going to duel it out?"
"Why would we duel it out?" asked both Pink and I as we stared at Roland with wide eyes.
Roland then said with a serious expression, "Well, you two were fighting over the lollipop, and since we can't determine who is right or wrong, you should duel it out to see who gets the lollipop!"
'Are you kidding me?! The Sun Knight and a necromancer duelling over a measly lollipop?! We would become the laughing stock of the city!'
Pink and I immediately shouted, "We were joking!!"
At that, Roland just shook his head at us as if we were two unruly children and turned away from us.
Ignoring us, he reached out to flip back the overturned table to its proper spot before picking up the mop and continue his mopping.
I seriously have no idea what is going on in that head of his. The great and fearsome Death Lord mopping the floor?? And with such a serious expression too, as if mopping a floor is as significant as slaying a dragon. And what was with that just now, me and Pink duelling over a lollipop?...... How is it possible for Roland to have become even more serious than when he was a kid??
As I thought about it, I wondered if I would be seeing in the future many scenes where the great Death Lord is reduced to mopping, dusting, doing the laundry-or even sewing clothes!
'Dear God! I would rather see him sewing a person's mouth shut than to see him sewing clothes!'
As said scenes continued to assault my mind, I hastily turned to Pink in protest, "Why are you making Roland mop the floor? He is a Death Lord, for God's sake, not one of your lowly cleaning corpses."
"Whoever said that I had forced him?! I had only commented that the floor was dirty, when he himself took it upon himself to start mopping!" Pink argued back, but under my suspicious stare she relented, "I may have said it several times."
I stared at her even harder disbelievingly.
"Maybe it was about a hundred times or so…… Ok, fine, I said it at least five hundred times, alright! So stop staring at me!"
'I knew it!'
While Roland cannot be said to be a lazy person, he is someone obsessed with sword practicing. You would have an easier time trying to get me to put down the lollipop I'm holding right now than to get him to put down his sword and do something else.
Pink huffed over to a chair covered with strawberry motifs and reached under to pull out a brand new lollipop. She gave it a satisfied lick before recalling something. She turned to me and asked smugly, "Sun, the special effects I made for you last time was pretty good huh? No one had seen through it and realised that Roland hadn't actually continued on to the afterlife, right?"
"No, but…… Judge might know something," I said hesitantly.
Pink immediately cleared herself of all responsibilities. "That has nothing to do with me. It must be because he knows you too well."
"The Judge Knight?" Roland stopped mopping and asked. He then said earnestly, "His sword skills are pretty good. If it's possible I would like to have a spar with him some time."
"Don't go bothering the Judge Knight!!" Pink and I shouted in unison.
Pink then gravely warned Roland, "Judge is completely different from Sun. He is a real and proper Judge Knight. If he were to notice you running around the city he would definitely catch you."
'Hey! Are you calling me a fake?' I rolled my eyes in annoyance.
Roland looked down at his cold, pale-and most importantly dead-hands and sighed, "I understand, I won't step a foot outside."
'Roland……' I sighed. Even though I had saved Roland from the fate of being barbequed by the Holy Temple, being cooped up indoors together with an annoying necromancer (who would go so far as to comment on the dirty floor more than five hundred times just to get him to mop the floor) cannot be fun.
Perhaps to Roland he would rather be burned to ashes than to have to endure this different kind of torture.
"Pink, can you lend the Life Ring to Roland? I'll use my holy aura to mask his dark aura, this way I can bring him out without letting others find out about his true identity."
Upon hearing this, Roland's eyes lit up with hope and eagerness. 'Looks like he really has been cooped up for too long,' I thought.
Pink's eyes had lit up even brighter as she shouted in agreement, "OK! But I want to go out too!"
'What are you butting in for?' I rolled my eyes at her. However when I looked at Pink and her pouting face-as if saying 'if you don't let me come along, don't even think of getting out the front door'……
Sigh! Why does it feel as if I am leading a tour group? And an 'undead creatures tour group' at that? ......
Oh God of Light! Please make sure that I do not bump into the Judge Knight, or I just might become the first Sun Knight to experience the Judge Knight's various torture methods.
"Sun! You are really stupid!"
Pink had probably guessed at my predicament and said matter-of-factly, "you could just become 'Slayer', couldn't you? Even if we were to be found out, as long as you are assuming the identity of Slayer, the Sun Knight would not be connected to us in any way!"
'That's right!' I exclaimed in surprise, "I hadn't realized that the Dragon's Holy Robe could be used in this manner!"
"Duh! Why else did you think I gave you the Dragon's Holy Robe?"
"Didn't you give it to me so I could kidnap the Duke of Ceylan's third son?" I asked suspiciously.
"Of course not! Something so simple as kidnapping someone would not require the use of such a rare and precious artefact!"
"Then the real reason you gave it to me was……?"
"Of course it's so you can do bad things with me!" said Pink matter-of-factly.
~O~O~O~O~To complete the disguise of an ordinary person, other than putting on the Life Ring, Roland had changed out of his usual clothes and into a set of battle outfit and armour that Pink just happened to have lying around.
The outfit was rather simple and unadorned, resilient and unrestrictive. On the chest was a design of a pair of wings, and magic runes were stitched into the hem of the sleeves. I could faintly feel the repressed aura of wind element coming from the runes-looks like wearing this outfit would help increase the wearer's speed and agility.
And the armour was nothing to scoff at either; it was made in a simple style and so well-polished that I could see myself reflected in it. It, too, had magic runes carved onto it.
I frowned and asked suspiciously, "I seem to have seen this wing motif on the battle outfit somewhere before."
"Ho ho! You're pretty observant, Sun. This outfit was in fact worn by the Tornado Knights of the human faction in the Second Great Demon Hunt."
I hit my fist in my other hand, saying, "No wonder! I must have seen this outfit in one of the Holy Temple's wall mural. And this-this armour looks rather familiar too."
"Of course it is. That armour is the very same one worn by the Tornado Knights' captain!"
"Then it goes without saying that this armour is a pretty high quality one."
"Duh!" said Pink smugly. "Every single thing I own is anything but common--ah!"
I had pinched Pink's cheeks painfully and said through gritted teeth, "You idiot corpse! I really don't know how long this body of yours has been dead-not only is your body thoroughly rotted, but even your brain has rotted away to nothing! Why are you giving this top level armour outfit to Roland to wear? How can he blend in with the rest whilst wearing this? We are only going out for a stroll on the streets; we are not going out on a demon hunt!"
"But I only have this kind of outfits!" sobbed Pink pitifully as she gingerly touched her red cheeks.
"I'll just wear my own clothes," Roland said, making a move to change back to his usual outfit.
I gave a long sigh and said, "You can't. Your clothes are so ragged and torn; you'll attract everyone's attention like that too."
Roland answered me seriously, "Not at all, I've already sewn the torn pieces back together."
I turned to Pink and said, "Pink, next time I visit I'll definitely knock before coming in. So if Roland happens to be sewing clothes, or doing something even weirder than sewing at that time, please don't open the door."
~O~O~O~O~After changing back into his own clothes, Roland looked much more normal. Even though his clothes are a little old and patched, he should blend in well with all the other scruffy-looking warriors often seen walking in the streets, so he should be fine. Instead, it is I who stand out in my Dragon's Holy Robe outfit.
I don't know what kind of magic she did, but Pink was able to change her pink-coloured skin to a normal skin tone; and with a black mage's outfit on she actually looked like an ordinary looking girl.
'Darn it! I should be the most normal person among this group, yet now I look the weirdest.'
"But a Sun Knight like you isn't really considered to be normal," Pink mumbled under her breath.
I sent a glare at Pink before saying, "Even though it is just a stroll along the streets, we may never know what might happen. Therefore, let's first get our stories straight before going out. We'll pretend to be siblings who have left home to go on an adventure."
Roland will be the big brother and a warrior. We could have said that he was a knight, but if someone were to ask where his horse is-as all knights ride on horses-he can't really summon out his demonic horse to show them, now can he? So, it is much safer to just say that he is a warrior.
I will be the second brother. Everyone need only look at my skin-tight outfit and facemask to know that I am an assassin.
Pink would, of course, be our little sister who is just beginning to learn to be a mage.
But in actuality, our ages are the reverse. I mean, look at that battle armour from the Second Demon Hunt, Pink is definitely older than she appears to be. And even though Roland and I are the of same age, I am actually older than him by a few months. Moreover, he would have stopped aging after he died, so I'm now even older.
I had contested my role of being younger brother, but……
"I'm older than Roland, why do I have to be the younger brother?"
"Because you're shorter than him."
"Only by a few centimetres! Besides, not all older brothers are taller than their younger brothers. That's just a stereotype!"
"Because you're weaker than him."
"Says who? With the Dragon's Holy Robe, my abnormally strong self-recovery ability, and my knowledge of magic and necromancer spells all combined together, I should be stronger than him! Err…… I should be, right?"
"Because you don't look as dependable as him."
"In what way do I look less dependable than him? My smile was even nominated as the expression that put people at ease the most…… What? Someone with black hair and silver highlights, wears a face mask and a skin-tight black outfit? Well of course he would look like a suspicious person!"
In the end, my appeal failed and I had to quietly accept my role as younger brother.
So, after agreeing to our individual roles the three of us left to walk on the streets. As soon as we left the little house, Roland began looking panicky, and as we joined the more popular and crowded streets, he hesitated before gathering his courage and followed us into the crowd, all the while looking left and right nervously.
"People have taken note of me, I keep feeling people's gazes on me," said Roland worriedly, frowning. "I think I've been found out, maybe we should just go back."
'People are looking at Roland?' I frowned and surreptitiously looked around, instantly noticing those sneaking glances at Roland. There! Those women peeking from the windows, and the groups of giggling girls, and even a few bold women who winked as they passed by us.
"Don't worry, it's just a bunch of women admiring a handsome man," I assured Roland before adding sourly, "But if I weren't wearing my mask, I would definitely attract more admirers!"
"Oh don't be sad, Su-Slayer! There are a lot of people looking at you too!" Pink patted my hand comfortingly. "Look there on the left, a group of holy knights are looking at you up and down! And over there on the right, a knight is staring at you! Oh and-and, over there in the corner, a few priests are sneaking glances at you!"
I had cheered up at Pink's words and had turned to look where she pointed, but instead of the giggling girls I expected, I saw a bunch of men looking me up and down with suspicion in their eyes…… I turned back to Pink in anger and growled, "That's because I look so suspicious!"
Understanding dawned on Pink's face as she said, "Oh, I see. I thought it was strange how only men were looking at you. I had thought that Roland was a chick magnet while you are a 'dick magnet'!"
'Damn you! Who are you calling a dick magnet?!' I said to her threateningly, "...... do you believe that I know all your hiding places where you keep your stash of strawberry candies?"
Not to be outdone, Pink retorted, "Do you believe that I can turn your hair black with silver highlights permanently?"
I quickly shielded my hair and yelled back, "You just try it and you can kiss Frost's strawberry ice cones goodbye. For-ever!"
"You meanie! You're such a sneaky underhanded meanie!" Pink stomped her foot in anger and before pulling out her short mage staff on me.
'Hmph! I won't lose to the likes of you!'
I immediately exchanged 200ml of blood for a dagger and pointed it at Pink……
I hate to admit it, but Pink's short mage staff and my short dagger pointed at each made a rather ridiculous picture and not at all impressive. I could already hear a few people sniggering behind me.
Sprouting Leaf City's law enforcement is very strict. Even drawing out weapons would bring a squad of knights running to intervene and stop the two fighting parties. Yet now, even with so many holy knights and royal knights around us, no one seemed to be bothered to stop us…… 'Hey! Don't look down on us like this! Just because our weapons are a little small it doesn't mean that we aren't dangerous!'
At this moment, Roland backed away a few steps.
Both Pink and I turned to look at him and asked in unison, "Roland, why are you backing away?"
Roland replied matter-of-factly, "To give you enough room for your duel."
"What? Who's duel?" I asked blankly.
"Yours and Pink's," he replied. "You have both taken your positions and are ready to start your duel. You will now settle the dispute between yourselves with your swords, as in accordance with the knight's code of honour."
I looked down at the dagger I held, and then at Pink's short mage staff. From whence came 'our swords'?
Pink looked down at her mage outfit, then at my assassin's outfit, and said a little embarrassedly, "Slayer and I aren't knights so how can you say 'in accordance with the knight's code of honour'?"
By now the sniggering had turned into full-blown laughter, and the holy knights who had previously been looking at me with suspicion were bent over with laughter. Upon seeing this sight, I was suddenly immensely grateful that they did not know my real identity-the Sun Knight.
A few knights walked up to us, laughing as they said, "I'm so sorry to interrupt your 'knight's duel', hahaha… but it is prohibited to fight on the streets."
"This is not a fight, this is a duel," Roland corrected seriously.
The knights snorted and started laughing again at his reply, and the watching crowd's laughter became even louder.
"In all my twenty-three years I've lived, I've never been so humiliated," I said, feeling like crying.
Pink, too, lowered her head and said, "Yeah, in all my two thousand three—Ahem! I mean, in all my years, I've never been this humiliated either."
Just then a shout pierced through the crowd's laughter, "What's going on here?"
I turned only to see a whole troop of holy knights. What's worse, I could see the badge of a sun worn on their chests…… my Sun Knight Division!
All twenty-five of them were present, even my vice-captain Adair was among them. Seeing them fully armed and marching in such an organised manner, it doesn't seem like they are merely out for a stroll, nor do they look like they are planning to gang up on someone…… could it be that this month is the Sun Knight Division's turn to patrol the streets?
This is bad news!
My Sun Knight Division's specialty is in dealing with the undead, and so they are much more sensitive towards any hint of dark aura. Furthermore, they were present at the Royal Palace and had seen Roland's face. Even though Roland looks like a normal live person right now, he doesn't actually look all that different from his Death Knight appearance. He could easily be recognised by one of them.
I couldn't help checking on the holy light enveloping Roland, making sure that his dark aura was tightly sealed away with not a hint of it leaking through.
At this moment the holy knights standing in the corner and laughing at us earlier swiftly approached my division and reported the situation in a respectful tone.
Upon hearing their report the Sun Knight Division's stern faces relaxed a little, and so did I. Looks like we managed to fool them, I thought in relief. But just then I caught sight of my vice-captain Adair walking out from amongst the troop of knights and stopping in front of Roland. He scrutinised Roland before asking casually, "You are a holy knight?"
"No, I am a knight." Roland answered honestly.
'Hey, Roland! Hadn't we agreed on our story earlier? You are a warrior!'
"Is that so?" Adair then gave a cold laugh before asking ominously, "Then why is it that there is a holy aura all around you?"
No sooner was Adair's question out his mouth when the other twenty-four Sun Division holy knights immediately formed a circle around us, trapping the three of us in.
How annoying! I shouldn't have kept ordering them to gang up on people. Now their speed and familiarity in ganging up around people is so quick and practiced that even I wasn't able to react before realizing that they had already trapped us.
As the saying goes, 'You reap what you sow'.
I really, really hope I'm not going to have to experience firsthand the skills my division had acquired at my directions.
Adair slowly drew his sword as he explained to the rest, "If the holy aura isn't coming from you, then it can only mean one thing-the holy aura is wrapped around your body to cover up something else, a dark aura for example."
I now realised that having a vice-captain who is too smart is not necessarily a good thing. Now this'll be even harder to get out of.
"So what if it's covering up a dark aura?" Pink suddenly asked. "Is covering up a dark aura against the law?"
Adair was pretty patient and answered, "Covering up one's dark aura certainly isn't against the law, but those with a dark aura are usually bad news, such as-the undead."
"Then what about followers of the Chaos Church religion?" asked Pink, lifting her head in defiance. "Are you saying that the Church of Chaos' dark knights are bad news too?"
Aha! What a great move! Why hadn't I thought of that? The only type of knight with a dark aura is the dark knight of the Church of Chaos.
Upon hearing this reply, even Adair was taken aback. His reaction is not surprising as the Church of Chaos is a long way from here. Even though I knew of their existence, I had never seen them before.
Adair frowned and asked doubtfully, "You are a dark knight? Then why do you cover up your dark aura?"
Roland frowned, unable to answer him. I bet he has no idea what we are talking about. This guy doesn't care about anything that's not related to sword fighting.
But again, Pink answered for him, saying mockingly, "'cause there're a lot of prejudiced dummies out there who think that anything with a dark aura is an undead creature!"
The surrounding holy knights bristled angrily at her mocking tone, but the one who had been insulted-Adair did not seem to get angry at all. He merely frowned as he thought it over for a while before saying to Roland, "Please remove the holy aura around you."
Hearing this, I dithered for a while before finally deciding to take a chance and hope that Pink's Life Ring would be enough to dupe them.
I removed the holy aura from around Roland. To other people, Roland might look completely unchanged, but to the Sun Division, they could right away sense the faint wisps of dark aura coming from him, tensing as their expressions turned grave.
Adair frown and thought over the problem for quite some time when his gaze suddenly sharpened. I was immediately alarmed, and followed his gaze to…… the sword hanging at Roland's waist! It was the very same sword that had slashed me back then when Roland came to say 'hi'.
Adair then lifted his gaze and stared at Roland's face. If he still hasn't figured out that Roland was the very same Death Lord they had been chasing not too long ago, then I'll seriously start to doubt my judgement in choosing him to be my vice-captain.
However, I am confident in my judgement, and so I had already started thinking up ways to escape. Perhaps I should take my own vice-captain hostage? But Adair's sword skills are pretty good. If I were to fail in taking him hostage and was instead apprehended by him, how can I face him after this and continue being the captain of my Sun Division, his superior?
"You can go."
'Fine! I'll just have to ask Roland to take him hostage then…… Huh?' I was dumbfounded. 'What did you just say, Adair?'
The rest of the Sun Division asked him worriedly, "Adair, you sure about this? Shouldn't we get the Captain and ask him about this case?"
Adair just shook his head and said, "No need. Let's go. We still have to finish our patrol and then carry out the Captain's orders afterwards."
'Huh? What orders?' I blinked clueless. 'Had I given out any orders recently?'
As Adair had been in charge of the Sun Knight Division for several years now, none of the Sun holy knights protested his decision, and they immediately returned to their original patrolling formation and left us, marching away in a surprisingly neat and disciplined formation.
If I hadn't just seen it with my own two eyes I would never have believed that my Sun Knight Division could be so neat and disciplined. Adair really is awesome! What great judgement I have!
But what exactly are they going off to do? I don't remember giving Adair any instructions? And he had obviously recognised Roland, yet as the Sun Knight Division's vice-captain, is he actually allowing a Death Lord to run about freely in the city?
Perhaps I did not understand my vice-captain as well as I thought?
"Sun, are we going to follow after them?" Pink asked quietly, her eagerness painted quite clearly on her face.
I pondered about it. No, it's impossible to follow behind them with Roland without them noticing. No matter his own dark aura or if I covered it with holy aura, my Sun Knight Division would be sure to notice it.
"No, today we're accompanying Roland wherever he wants to go."
Upon hearing my reply, Pink looked crestfallen, but not for long. She was soon dragging Roland by the hand, looking at everything and anything that caught her fancy. As I watched Roland being dragged about by Pink, I noticed that he hardly seemed to have much interest in the things around him.
"Roland, is there any place that you would like to go?"
"Candy stores! Toy stores! Graveyards!"
I ignored the noisy little girl and asked Roland seriously, "Where would you like to go? I can bring you anywhere…… except the Church of Light."
Even if he were interested in seeing the Royal Palace, I would still have a way of showing him around the palace, but the Church of Light is the only place that I cannot bring him to. After all, that's the headquarters of the undead's sworn enemy. Even if a Death Lord were to try to enter the place he would immediately be drowned by the vast amounts of holy light coming from the place.
Roland's face looked a little disappointed at my words. 'Don't tell me he had actually entertained the thought of visiting the Church of Light?!'
My God! A necromancer without any self-consciousness running around the city is already more than enough, now there's a Death Lord who doesn't seem to be conscious of his status either. Could it be that the undead these days aren't aware of the fact that they are already dead and should avoid all things 'holy' and 'light'?
After thinking it over, Roland quietly shook his head. I sighed and said, "Then I'll just get you some new clothes, oh, and a new sword too. After all, you can't even use that sword of yours without attracting unwanted attention."
The moment that sword is drawn, its powerful dark aura would be unleashed, and then we would have to play hide and seek with a bunch of holy knights.
Roland nodded in agreement, but Pink jumped in between us and protested loudly, "Candy store!"
"Are you still going on about the candy store?" I mocked her. "The number of candy you have stashed all around your house could rival the number of corpses in a graveyard. May I remind you that you are a necromancer? For you don't seem to be very much aware of your profession."
Pink rolled her eyes at me and said impatiently, "How funny. Your magic skills are ten time better than your sword skills, your Holy Light is a hundred times stronger than your frenzy, and your necromancy skills are a thousand times better than your horsemanship. I think it is you who are the one who has the least self-awareness of your own profession, Sun-Knight!"
I couldn't say anything to defend myself.
'Am I really suited to becoming a holy knight?'
In the thirteen years that I've been a holy knight, I've asked myself that very same question at least thirteen times. (Every year after looking at the results for my sword skills, I would ask myself that question once more.)
Back then, my teacher would comfort me thus, "Child, becoming a knight was the worst career you could have chosen, and becoming a holy knight was the second worst career. So stop feeling so sad, for at least you hadn't made the worst choice."
After comforting me so, my teacher would then comfort himself, "And thank goodness I'm your holy knight teacher, and not your knight teacher. If I had to train you up into a decent knight, I might as well kill you and let you reincarnate again into a new body. That would definitely be quicker than hoping to be able to make a knight out of you."
"Furthermore, as the leader of the holy knights, the fact that you were actually lectured by an undead necromancer and not even being able to refute her is even more disgraceful! Hmph! What a self-conscientious Sun Knight!" said Pink mockingly.
"If you don't shut up right this instance, I'm not bringing you to the candy store!" I threatened, scowling. Pink was instantly all smiles as she motioned zipping her lips.
"Let's go, let's go! If we are to go to so many places then we'll have to hurry up."
As I walked ahead of them, leading the way through the crowded streets, I was suddenly struck by a thought.
'Perhaps, bringing an undead necromancer and a Death Lord to stroll around on the streets is the most unconscientious action that I, the Sun Knight have done?'
Book 2: Duty 4 – The Sun Knight’s Fourth Duty: “Look after the Sun Knight Division’s holy knights”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!'
~O~O~O~O~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."
~O~O~O~O~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?!'
~O~O~O~O~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 respectfully, 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."
Book 2: Duty 5 – The Sun Knight’s Fifth Duty: “Help out with your colleague’s problems”As the saying goes, 'Think about the owner before kicking the dog'.
And Adair is one of my-the Sun Knight's-dogs…… no, I mean-subordinate. In fact, he's my top dog even… top subordinate!
You bastard asshole actually dared to attack him! I don't care if you're the great Son of War, in my eyes if you've harmed one of mine, you're the Son of a Whore!
But revenge is a dish best served cold. It'll take lots of time and planning, and then when he least expects it--wham! He won't even know what-or most importantly, who-hit him. Therefore, I've decided…… to settle the problem with the Hell Knight first.
Following the method of contacting the Hell Knight as given by the Pope, I arranged a time and place for our meeting. While waiting at our meeting place, I practiced all kinds of sincere and honest expressions on my face, so that during our meeting when faced with my various 'sincere' expressions, the guy would not have the heart to bother me with his problems. Hopefully.
It wasn't long before I spied someone approaching. I smiled at him as I covertly studied him. He was wearing the typical royal knight's uniform, but instead of the usual issued royal knight's sword, he was carrying a sword of a much better quality.
His face and body are not bad either; he had the 'versatile' type of good looks…… What? You ask what I mean by versatile good looks?
The so called versatile good looks refers to a guy with a rather handsome face, but not so handsome as to incite the hatred and jealousy of other guys (to eliminate one more rival for any future affections).
For if you were to take a closer look, you would actually see quite a few flaws, such as his too thin eyebrows, or that his nose wasn't quite so straight. You would then feel that he wasn't that handsome after all and feel guilty for previously feeling such animosity towards him, and to make up for that you would make the effort to be extra friendly with him.
On the other hand, while guys might think that his looks weren't all that, his good looks are versatile enough for girls to dream about. If the ladies loved fawning over the cute guy type, they would think that his eyes were big and adorable; if they preferred a more mature and serious guy, they would dream of lying in his strong arms, sheltered by his broad shoulders; and if the ladies leaned more towards the bad boys, they would definitely fall for that jaded and cynical smirk of his.
Huh? But what about those flaws- too thin eyebrows and the not-so-straight nose?
Bro, you really have a lot to learn about women. Haven't you heard? 'Guys pick at women's flaws, whilst women love their men's assets?' As long as a woman can find one thing about a guy that she likes, all his other flaws would become assets as well to her; the thin eyebrows frames his eyes better, or a slightly crooked nose gives him character, and other such nonsense!
Therefore, the versatile good looks are also called the 'universally effective' good looks. Its best selling point being that they are well-liked by all, men and women. Even dogs would feel drawn by his charms.
These people are well suited to any kind of career, with more notably jobs in the selling industry, or the scamming and conning career. Of course, being an undercover spy is also an excellent alternative for these types of people.
I couldn't help being impressed with the previous Hell Knight's eye for potential, for he had managed to choose the one child who would grow up into a guy with the versatile good looks from all the other ten year olds.
By now, the guy had reached me, and I immediately smiled brightly at him as I greeted him. "With blessings from the God of Light, this Sun is finally able to meet you, my brother Hell."
"Sun Knight? Why are you here?" He seemed quite surprised.
I smiled softly and explained, "His Eminence the Pope has informed this Sun that my brother the Hell Knight has met with some problems. From one holy knight to another, perhaps this Sun could better understand your problems, so this Sun has volunteered to come and meet with you."
"Sorry, but can you please stop calling me Hell Knight?"
The Hell Knight took a deep breath and announced determinedly, "I am not the Hell Knight. I am only a royal knight."
'Damn that old geezer! I knew it had to be a difficult dilemma for you to have so completely given up on him……'
I gave him a soft and sad look as I asked hesitatingly, "Hell Knight, why would you say such a thing? Could it be that the Church of Light has offended you in some way for you to reject the position of the Hell Knight?"
'If I find out that that bastard Pope has been mistreating you and thus forcing you to desert us, he's dead!'
"No, please don't misunderstand, it's just that……"
At this point, the Hell Knight took another deep breath and said slowly, "when I was first selected to be the next Hell Knight, I was only under the instruction of my teacher at the Holy Temple for a year, but I've been a royal knight in the palace for twelve years. In this life of mine I have two teachers. One is my holy knight teacher; he taught me for only a year, and since then we hardly see each other again. The second one is my royal knight teacher; he had trained me for ten years and had been my mentor until just recently when he retired.
"The Crown Prince might not really like me, but he's never done anything to me, and he had even entrusted me with important missions several times, while the Queen (King's wife)is very fond of me. I grew up together with the princess as playmates and the Crown Princess (Crown Prince's wife) has often helped me out.
And not to mention all my royal knight comrades. We grew up together, trained together, and even risked our lives for each other…… In contrast to that, the Holy Temple and the Twelve Holy Knights are complete strangers to me; I don't even know a single one of them.
He smiled wryly and looked at me. "You-you understand what I'm saying? Sun Knight, I don't know the God of Light, I don't know the Holy Temple, and I don't know the Twelve Holy Knights. Instead, the royal palace is where I really belong, and the royal knights are my true friends and comrades."
After hearing this, I couldn't help frowning. No wonder the Pope had wanted to kill him. A spy in the enemy's camp who's turned coats on us is a great threat. If he were to confide everything to the Crown Prince, we would be in deep trouble.
I had been quiet for some time now when the Hell Knight suddenly began inching away from me as he said in a low voice, "I never told the Crown Prince anything, but the princess knows about all of this. She has promised not to tell a soul, but on the condition that I remain unharmed. If something, anything, were to happen to me, she'll put all the blame on the Church of Light."
'Dear God!' I quickly raised my head and smiled my most sincere smile as I reassured him, "Please do not worry. You should know that I am not very skilled with the sword. Even if I were to attack you, you wouldn't lose. And as you can see, I had not brought along anyone else."
"Er-oh! Sorry!" After hearing my explanation, the Hell Knight stopped backing away and his face turned red. He then apologised to me embarrassedly, "I didn't mean to suspect you of anything, but-but the princess said that the Holy Temple might come after me, ahahah…… Now that I think about it, how could the Sun Knight possibly do something like that as to kill me? I should have realised from the start when I saw that it was you who had approached me, that the Holy Temple meant no ill will to me. I'm really sorry."
What an intelligent princess! Looks like the princess is no naive sheltered girl, to emphasize that if anything were to happen to him, she would look to the Holy Temple for revenge. Seems like she is well aware that many so-called accidents are not really as innocent as they appear.
"Please give this Sun some time to think this matter over, and to try to find a solution to this problem," I said with a hundred percent sincerity. "And please don't let this out to anyone else. If the Crown Prince were to catch wind of any of this, the Church and the royal family would be on very bad terms. I believe that as both the Hell Knight and a royal knight, you would not wish to see this happening."
The Hell Knight nodded his head in agreement. "Yes, it may not have been for long, but my holy knight teacher had always treated me kindly. Even though I've now decided to swear loyalty to the royal family, I would never do anything to endanger the Church."
I nodded, believing him. Not because of his promise, but because if this whole thing were to get exposed, it would not benefit him at all. After all, it's hard to gain people's trust if they were to know about your past spying days.
But if we were to just release this Hell Knight into the wild (serving the royal family can be a really rough life), it would be akin to a ticking time bomb under the Holy Temple. You never know when the Crown Prince might find out about this while we are kept unawares.
But if it is decided not let him go, we can't really force him to take the position of the Hell Knight, can we? So what then?
And if it is decided that the best way to go is to eliminate him, there's still an intelligent princess backing him up and protecting him.
'Damn you old geezer! You actually expect me to deal with this mess you've created?! Just you wait, you're going to pay for all the troubles you've pushed onto me!'
~O~O~O~O~All the way as I walked back to the Holy Temple and into my room, and as I mixed up my facial mask and slapped it on, I was constantly turning this problem over, trying to think of a way to resolve it. I lied on my bed with the mask on, planning to think it over as I wait for the mask to take its effect……
Knock knock knock!
'…… I'd nearly forgotten that curse of mine that activates every time I apply my facial mask.'
I pushed myself up and called out, "May this Sun ask which brother of mine has heard the gentle whisperings of the God of Light and decided to seek out this Sun?"
From outside came Judge's deep voice, "It's me."
"Oh, then please come right in," I said as I lazily lied back on my bed. It doesn't matter if it's Judge, as he's already been startled by my mask several times now.
He came in and closed the door. Upon turning around and seeing me, he froze.
I glanced at him and asked nonchalantly, "The pink coloured mask should be an improvement to the usual green masks, right?"
Judge studied my face seriously before passing judgement (pun intended), "The green was startling at first, but after looking at the pink mask for some time, it looks even grosser than the green one."
"Good to know. Next time I'll put on a green mask on one side and a pink mask on the other, so that you can be both startled and grossed out."
Judge chuckled at that and shaking his head, said, "You should be having quite a lot going on right now, yet you still have time for your facial masks?"
"Why would you say that?" I asked casually as I folded my arms behind my head.
Judge should only be aware of the case regarding Adair, unless the Pope had told him about the Hell Knight's dissent. But according to my knowledge of the Pope, he wouldn't have bothered to repeat the same thing twice, especially when Judge isn't good at dealing with those kinds of situation, and so informing him about it would have been pointless.
"The Church of War is here, and no matter what their reason for coming, it would definitely be related with matters of spreading their beliefs and increasing their followers."
At this, Judge gave me a look, but immediately looked away. 'Hmm… guess the pink mask really is disgusting.'
He then continued to add, "And strengthening the beliefs of our faith is your duty."
"I know. I was just planning to think about it while I apply my whitening mask."
"I think you'd probably fall asleep instead," said Judge dryly.
'Ahh… he who knows me best……'
"Alright, to avoid me falling asleep, let's think about it together!" I said.
Judge shook his head at me before taking out a small white bag embroidered with the insignia of the Sun Knight. "No can do. I still have a number of criminals to interrogate. I only came by to drop this off with you. It's Frost's homemade blueberry chocolates. He said you can keep it on you so you won't go hungry."
'Oh Frost! You're such a good and loving wife/mother. If you had been born a woman I would definitely marry you!'
I quickly grabbed the little bag and opened it. 'Oh! What a lovely smell!' I thought as I sniffed the heavenly scent of chocolates and blueberries.
I then looked up at Judge, only to see him really getting up to leave. I hurriedly threw out a problem at him. "The Church of War wishes to kill Adair. Even the Son of War himself had personally challenged him to a duel, and used me to threatened him into accepting the duel."
I paused for a moment before continuing on, "And even when there was already a clear winner, the Son of War still tried to kill Adair, even to the point of stopping the rest of the Sun Division from helping Adair. In the end, Adair ended up being rescued by a royal knight called Elliot. Can you deduce anything from all of this?"
Upon hearing my words, Judge did stop in his footsteps and thought about it. 'Aha! This is one of his job's bad points-whenever he hears about something suspicious, it has become second nature to stop and think about the motives behind the incidents.'
Seeing that I had successfully stopped him, I popped a few of the chocolates into my mouth as I laid back.
'Ah… Frost's blueberry chocolates, a warm comfy bed, and someone to figure out my problems, what more can I ask for? ……'
Judge finally spoke up, "I think there can be only one possible explanation…… Sun, wake up!"
"Don't bother me……" I mumbled as I flipped over onto my other side, faintly hearing a low voice calling out my name, "Creus Sun". 'Hmmm, this uniquely deep and low voice can only be heard when Judge has been angered……' I hurriedly opened my eyes, only to see Judge's black face. Startled, I immediately leapt out of bed shouting, "I'm awake! I'm really awake!"
Judge eyed me suspiciously as I quietly sat back on my bed, looking bright-eyed and alert.
Finally, he continued on, "I think the reason they would want to kill Adair should be related to your recent mastering of the resurrection arts."
"The resurrection arts?" I asked blankly. "But how did they even know about it?"
"While we might not have widely announced your resurrection skills, it shouldn't be surprising for them to have heard about it from the spies planted in and around the Holy Temple. After all, we've never exactly been on the best of terms with each other and both religions have been fighting to gain influence among the people around here, so it's no surprise that there'll be a few spies in each other's headquarters."
I nodded my head at that. Aren't there even a few of our spies hiding amongst the royal family? If we've even planted spies in our own country's ruling family, there's no reason to let off on our biggest rival, the Church of War. And if even the Church of Light, known for being kind and benevolent, has so many spies planted everywhere, what more the Church of War?
"I believe that the reason they would want to kill Adair should be related to your learning the resurrection arts." At this, Judge gave me a sideways glance before adding, "Although you claim to have mastered them, no one's actually seen you performed it before though."
He paused for a moment, then added regretfully, "If you had mastered them earlier, perhaps you could have cast them on your old friend Roland."
Upon hearing that I was taken aback and rebutted him immediately, "That's impossible! The resurrection arts have many limitations to them, with one of them being the time limit of eight hours in which I can cast the spells on a dead person. If I were to cast the spell eight hours after the person has died, there will be terrible consequences."
"Terrible consequences? Such as?"
I was silent for a moment as I considered my words carefully. "After being resurrected…… no! You can't actually call it being resurrected…… What I mean to say is that, that person's body will continue rotting on, but the person would still be alive and breathing. At least, until their bodies have rotten away, or until they've been decapitated."
Judge was shocked by my words and exclaimed, "Isn't-isn't that almost the same as an undead creature?!"
I kept quiet, and after Judge had calmed down a little, I continued explaining, "Yes, the resurrection arts is actually quite similar to the arts for raising the undead, the only difference being one is cast within eight hours of the person's death, while the other is done 'eight hours after'. The necromancers would then do something to prevent further rotting to extend the 'life' of the undead creatures, as well as control the minds of the undead, commanding them to do their bidding obediently……"
"Then does that mean that every necromancer is well-versed in the arts of resurrection?" asked Judge, frowning heavily.
"No." I shook my head and explained, "It is a relatively simple thing to turn a corpse into an obedient puppet, but to really resurrect him is much harder. The eight hours time limit is actually one of the simplest conditions. Another condition necessary would be the strong ability for gathering holy light. Just this one condition is impossible for necromancers to achieve.
"Other than that, one has to also consider the low chances of completely resurrecting a dead person, the price one has to pay for resurrecting someone, etc. etc.. In short, I can only give you this warning, you better not rely on me to come back after dying, for I cannot guarantee that I can successfully revive you, and without any important parts missing, or even worse……"
Judge paled and asked hoarsely, "Even worse? Is there something even worse than becoming an undead?"
I answered him frankly, "Well, not to that extent, for as long as you are revived within eight hours you won't turn into an undead, but you might be missing a certain part, or perhaps even have something additional. For example, you could have two horns growing out of your forehead, or a tail growing out your butt, a man could suddenly gain a pair of breasts, or a woman could gain a dick……"
"Enough!" Judge took a deep breath and shook his head, saying "This resurrection art doesn't sound very stable."
I nodded in agreement. "Of course. If resurrecting someone were to be easy, who would want to remain dead? Furthermore, it is said that the Pope does not know the resurrection arts, but this isn't true. He does know it, but his chances of completely resurrecting someone is so low that he dares not use it, for fear of whatever side effects the person might have……"
"Completely resurrecting?"Judge questioned.
"It means to completely resurrect a dead person without them suffering any side effects."
I gave a sigh and added, "I have about a one-in-four chance of completely resurrecting someone, yet this is already enough for the Pope to be envious. According to him, this is the highest chance for complete resurrection anyone has ever achieved in over five hundred years."
Judge nodded in understanding and continued our previous topic. "So the Church of War is probably worried that now that you've mastered the resurrection arts, the faiths of the various countries' rulers would switch to the religion of the Light God, for with you having mastered the resurrection arts, they would no longer have to fear dying."
I shook my head and said, "They are misunderstanding something. The resurrection arts are useless to those who have died of old age or illness. Those who had died of old age would immediately die again upon being resurrected, for their time is already up. The same goes for those who have died of some illness or another. Once revived their illness is not cured, and if it were not treated, they would just die a second time. For those afraid of being assassinated or dying from illnesses, it would be better to just hire more knights and bodyguards, priests and physicians. That way their chances of protecting themselves would be much higher."
"You're right," Judge nodded, but he then reminded me, "But even I was unaware of the various limitations and possible consequences of being resurrected, what more the Church of War?"
At that I became quiet. One of the mysteries has finally been solved-the Church of War's aim of killing Adair is to determine if I had really mastered the resurrection arts. But it seems that even after realising that, I still haven't solved the problem. No, instead I seem to have gained another problem.
How to let the public know of the scary risks and consequences of being resurrected? Otherwise should some VIP die one day, people would be hounding me to resurrect them and generally messing up my peaceful life.
"As to Elliot saving Adair, that Elliot guy has a pretty good reputation, and I believe that he had lent a helping hand purely out of righteousness."
"You know of Elliot?" I asked a little curiously. 'How come so many people know this guy? Is he really that famous?'
Judge nodded as he said, "Elliot's quite popular among the royal knights, and he is friends with a lot of people, he even knows quite a lot of our holy knights. I've never met with him personally, but there are a number of my Judge Knight Division members who know him quite well. However……"
At this point he paused and glanced at me as he continued, "come to think of it, your Sun Knight Division seem to be on pretty good terms with Elliot too, so it's not that strange for him to help save Adair."
"Why would my Sun Division be so close with a royal knight?" I asked, annoyed. 'Don't they know that their leader-moi-and the royal knights' leader-the Crown Prince- are on very poor terms? And yet they have been running off and making friends with the enemy.'
Judge answered my question with another. "Shouldn't I be the one asking you this? Sun Knight Division's Captain?"
I couldn't say anything to that, and so hurriedly said, "I'll just go and ask Adair……"
Judge interrupted me and scolded me, "Adair is following your orders to rest in bed. That being the case, as his captain you should at least allow him this brief period to rest uninterrupted and start carrying out your duties that you've been pushing onto him all this time!"
'Ah! I was scolded by Judge! This grudge will be paid by……I'll just add it onto the Church of War's tab!'
"Alright, alright! Then I'll go ask someone else." I said sulkily. I immediately got out of bed, straightened my clothes and prepared to open the door……
"What is it?" I asked annoyed as I turned around. "I already promised not to bother Adair."
"You haven't washed off your facial mask……"
~O~O~O~O~Once upon a time, I had a super-capable vice-captain working for me, yet I never knew to treasure him. Now that I've lost him, I finally realised his priceless worth…… without Adair, I can't even find ferret out a single one of my Sun Division knights!
After finally getting word from Storm that they might be at the Sprouting Leaf Pub and Inn in the East City, I immediately headed there in a cloud of irritation.
'Those idiots! Had I not just warned them not to simply leave the Holy Temple? My warning had just went in one ear and out the other, it seems! Looks like it's been a long time since I last threw someone down the cliff!'
Not too long later, I arrived at the street and saw all the Sun Division knights there, each of them out of their uniforms and strolling along the streets lazily. When they caught sight of me they even had the nerve to smile and wave at me!
I gave a wide smile and crooked my finger at them, leading them down a nearby alley. They followed me happily like lambs to a slaughter.
"Captain! Are we going to beat up someone?" Ed asked excitedly.
I ignored him and smiled at all the Sun Division knights. "This Sun seems to remember warning my fellow brothers to avoid leaving the Holy Temple?"
'You dare to ignore my orders? It seems like you've all forgotten the reason why I made you jump off a cliff when we first met!'
As can be expected from my Sun Knight Division, they immediately sensed the impending danger from my blindingly bright smile and paled, instantly straightening up from their previous hooligan slouch to stand stiffly as an upright and responsible knight.
I dropped my smile and glared coldly at the lucky knight standing closest to me-Ed. Ed stuttered nervously as he tried to explain, "C-captain, we-we didn't wear our uniforms and-and are in casual clothing, you s-see……"
"And then all twenty-four of you came out in one big group?" I asked at them, smiling. "Oh, I see. Yes, yes, nothing to be worried about, the Church of War's warriors are only skilled in fighting and are totally blind, they won't be able to pick you all out from the crowd," I said sarcastically.
Ed hurriedly explained, "Captain, w-we really had listened to your orders. This is the first time in days that we've left the Holy Temple. B-but you see, we had invited Elliot to the pub to treat him to a drink in th-thanks for saving Adair."
"I see!" I nodded my head in understanding, and when I saw them all let out the breath they'd been holding, I grabbed Ed by his clothes and growled, "This reminds me of another thing. I've been hearing that you all were already acquainted with Elliot? I had been troubled by that piggy king not too long ago, (and now the Crown Prince is trying his hand at hassling me too) and now I find that you've been going behind my back and consorting with the enemy?!"
"We aren't consorting with the enemy! Captain," Ed was close to tears now. "We knew him because we had ganged up on him and beaten him up before."
"Why the hell would you guys go and beat him up for?"
I'm pretty sure that I had never given them that order. I had never even heard of his name before this, so how could I have ordered the Sun Knight Division to go beat Elliot up?
"Th-that was 'cause we had mistaken him for someone else…… it was only after we had beaten him up that we realised that he was the wrong person, so we had no choice but to heal him and treat him to a drink as an apology."
Is this what they mean when they say 'No discord, no concord' and 'After fighting, comes friendship'? Although, those sayings usually refer to two people fighting each other, and not a whole group ganging up and beating someone up.
After hearing his explanation, I was speechless. I then scolded them, "How could you guys even bungle up something like beating up the wrong person?? How is it that you guys were even chosen to be in the Sun Division?!"
"But captain, that was our first time beating someone up! We should be given some leniency for our first time……"Ed protested in a quiet voice.
I coldly rebutted him, "If the one you had mistakenly beaten up was me, then no worries, it would have been your last chance to do so, ever!"
Ed hastily smiled and tried to appease me saying, "Captain, how could we ever mistakenly beat you up? You are such a blessed and well-guarded talented person, your holy aura and princely bearing is apparent to all who behold you (added Sun Division Member 1), your lips are cherry red and your teeth gleam like white pearls when you smile (added Sun Division Member 2), your skin is as pale and beautiful as the first fallen snow and soft as silk (added Sun Division Member 3), your smile is so beauteous you can charm the socks of anyone (added Sun Division Member 4)……"
"Shut up!" I rolled my eyes at them. 'The next time I see Adair I better mention it to him to step up on their literature. Just look at them and all that crap they were spewing, what kind of flattery are those?! How sloppy!'
"Captain," Ed inquired delicately as he watched my face carefully, his voice so soft I could barely hear him. "Then, can we leave to meet with Elliot? It's already past the agreed meeting time……"
I stood there considering. 'From what I've heard, that Elliot fellow seems to have been sincere when rescuing Adair and not plotting anything. If that is so, then as Adair's captain I should go and thank him personally.'
After all if it weren't for him, Adair would probably have died, forcing me to resurrect him. Who knows what body part Adair might have been missing after being resurrected, or worse, some extra body part had grown out?
I wouldn't mind if he grew horns or a tail. In fact, he might even look cool with them!
But if he were to gain a pair of boobs, I would lose a very capable vice-captain…… no matter how capable he is, if he came running towards me with a pair of bouncing breasts, I would still kick him down a cliff!
After imagining Adair with a pair of breasts, I shuddered and suddenly felt like I should get down on my knees in gratitude to Elliot, so I quickly said to my knights, "What are you all still standing around for? Hurry up and let's go. You've already missed the appointed time, so don't let him wait any longer."
~O~O~O~O~I followed the Sun Knight Division to the Sprouting Leaf Pub and Inn. Pubs and bars are rather foreign to me, for as the Sun Knight-known to pass out after only three shots of alcohol, I can never come to a bar to drink. I have only ever entered one when looking for someone (I was looking for Storm to confirm some news and had been looking for him all over the city, when I finally found him passed out in a bar and had to slap him more than ten times to wake him up-that was the seventh time I had angered him), or when I was passing by (whilst fighting with an undead on the streets I was knocked flying into a pub).
As the captain, I was the first to enter. At first, the people in the pub paid the newcomers no notice, but when a few glanced in my direction in curiosity, their stunned eyes became glued to my person.
I looked around the pub; it seemed to be a busy time for the pub as there were plenty of customers. It wasn't as dirty as I expected, but I wouldn't call it clean. It was pretty spacious, and other than the bar area, there was a second floor above, as well as several private rooms around.
As my eyes swept around the bar, a guy sitting at the bar with his back to me caught my attention. His back seemed so familiar. I was certain that I had seen that back before!
As I could not place a face to his back, I'm pretty sure that I had only ever seen his back and never his front. But this struck me strange, for why would I remember a person's back?
Just then, someone shouted, pulling me from my thoughts. "I'm a good person, please don't arrest me!"
And then as if he had broken the spell that had fallen over the crowd, everyone started shouting out all sorts of things:
"I have never stolen my neighbour's panties; it was the wind that blew it away!"
"I always pay my tabs after drinking, and I've never peed in public before!"
"I've never drawn graffiti on the walls of the Church of Light……"
Ed and the rest of the Sun Knight Division quickly shouted over them, explaining, "Everyone please calm down, we're not here to arrest anyone. We're only here to have a few drinks!"
"Liar! Everyone knows that the Sun Knight doesn't drink!"
"That's right! I heard that he goes red after one shot, gets a headache after two, and faints after the third."
"Such a low alcohol tolerance, what a pansy…… Ah, no! I never said anything!"
Hearing this, Ed got worried and shouted, "The captain is only here to gate-crash on our meeting!"
"Ed," I called out softly.
Ed paled and quickly turned to me, trying to explain, "Captain, that just now wasn't really what I was thinking, really……"
'It would have been more believable if you hadn't added that just now.' I resisted the urge to roll my eyes-for I am now the ever smiling and elegant Sun Knight-and called out to the guy sitting at the bar, "Would the knight at the bar like to join us for a drink or two?"
Ed followed my eyes and glanced at the man before saying, "Oh, captain. I didn't know you knew Elliot too."
'What? That's Elliot?!'
Without waiting for my response, Ed jogged over to the guy and clapped him on the back, saying cheekily, "Hi, Elliot! We're here! You haven't been waiting for long have you?"
The guy said exasperatedly, "Of course not. It's only just been half an hour, much better than the last time where I had to wait for an hour…… Honestly, and you guys claim to want to thank me."
"Hahaha! Let's not nit-pick now." Ed patted the other guy's shoulder and said enthusiastically, "Come! Let me introduce you to someone."
"Who is it?" he asked curiously.
By now, I had already walked up to him, and sensing someone behind him, he turned around……
The smiles on both our faces froze.
"This is our captain, the Sun Knight. Captain, this is Elliot." Ed introduced us cheerfully.
I took a few deep breaths before smiling brightly at him and greeted, "Hello, nice to meet you for the first time. How do you do, Sir Knight Elliot?"
Catching my reminder, he jerked out of his daze and hurriedly replied, "H-How are you? Nice to meet you too, Sun Knight. Terribly sorry about that just now, I was caught surprised by your elegant bearing."
The both of us stood there smiling at each other; one smiling brightly, the other smiling openly, but only the two of us were aware that we were actually smiling in irony. This is the first time I'm meeting Elliot, that is true, but this is the second time that I'm meeting the Hell Knight.
I see, so Elliot is the Hell Knight who wants to quit his job.
But as I thought about it, something wasn't right! I had already seen the Hell Knight's face, so why would I specifically remember his back, but not be able to put his face to his back?
What? You're saying that maybe I remembered wrongly?
I don't mean to brag, but my memory is so good that I could even remember the betting probabilities from 13 years ago, so how can you say that I remembered wrongly! I may have selective memory-like when Storm had reminded me yesterday of a meeting the next day, I somehow seemed to have forgotten it. How strange…… (shifty look)-but I wouldn't mistake something like this.
As I pondered and puzzled over it, the waitress had arrived to take us to our table. We were led to a private room, and as we entered, Ed turned to me and said, "Captain, this room is very secure, even if one were to speak loudly, others would not be able to hear anything from outside."
"Secure?" I mumbled whilst still thinking of the mystery of the familiar back, when something seemed to stir in my memories.
"That's right!" Ed grinned and then added in a whisper in my ear, "There are even secret pathways through which one could leave the room without having to go out the door and through the bar."
'Secret pathways…… I've got it! I remember now!'
It was in a secret pathway that I had seen that back.
Back then during the incident regarding Roland, I had sneaked into the secret pathways in the royal palace and had nearly bumped into the Princess and her secret lover kissing passionately in one of the pathways. Back then, the guy had his back to me, so I had only seen his back!
And that guy was Elliot…… so the Princess' secret lover is Elliot, and Elliot is the Hell Knight!
No wonder the Princess was so protective of the Hell Knight; she was worried for her beloved!
'The Hell Knight and the Princess in a secret affair?' I frowned as I thought it over, wondering if this is a good thing or not……
'Oh! Ahahaha! Of course it's good news! The God of Light must be favouring me! I now have a way to stop the Son of War from marrying the Princess! Hahahaha!'
"Ca-captain?" Ed asked me warily.
I was suddenly in an excellent mood as I smiled radiantly and asked him nicely, "Yes? What is it?"
Ed slowly backed away two steps and gulped before saying warily, "Er, the waitress is ready to take our orders, is there anything you would like to have?"
I smiled and said to the waitress, "Two plates of beef and ten bottles of your strongest alcohol!"
The waitress nodded and left to prepare our dishes.
Ed scratched his head in puzzlement and asked, "Captain, with so many people here do you think two plates of beef are enough for all of us?"
I chuckled, in a good mood, and said, "Who said it's for everyone? I wish to speak with Sir Knight Elliot, so you guys can all go eat somewhere else!"
Upon hearing that, everyone looked at me stunned, while Elliot looked at me with wariness in his eyes.
"Do not worry, I only wish to thank Sir Knight Elliot properly," I said with a smile, before saying in an undertone to my knights, "Well? What are you all waiting for? Or are you guys itching for another trip down the cliffs?"
Ed immediately turned to Elliot and clapped him on the back, saying loudly, "Elliot, why don't you have a nice talk with our captain, get to know him! We'll come back later……"
'We promise to bury your body properly. As your friend, we owe you that at the very least,' said their woeful and mourning expressions.
I watched dispassionately as the Sun Division knights bid Elliot farewell, saying all kinds of goodbyes like 'Farewell, Elliot', 'Sorry to leave you to such a fate' and 'I hope you have a better life next time', just as the waitress arrived with the two plates of beef and ten bottles of alcohol. She gave the scene a strange look and looked at both me and Elliot curiously before leaving.
"Sun Knight……" Elliot watched me carefully.
"Hmmm?" I smiled as I opened up all ten bottles of alcohol.
"You look to be in a good mood?" he asked cautiously, a hint of curiosity mixed in.
I chuckled and said, "Yup!"
He frowned and asked, "Is it something to do with me?"
"Definitely. I've suddenly thought of a way to deal with your other identity," I said in the devil's seducing voice. "If you agree to do one thing, giving me a way to answer to the Pope, you would no longer have to be the Hell Knight."
Elliot was ecstatic, before remembering something and his face sunk as he looked at me suspiciously. "I won't betray the royal family."
"Oh, don't worry! I would never ask you to betray the Princess. In fact, it's something that would benefit both you and the Princess, actually." I grinned at him. The 'but you might have to go against the Crown Prince a little' went unsaid.
Elliot looked at me, not knowing whether to believe me or not. "What is it that you want me to do?" he asked.
I grabbed a bottle of alcohol and said, "Oh, we'll talk business later, but first let's drink a few cups of wine. I'll go first!"
I drank the whole bottle of wine in one go, and as I wiped my mouth, I saw Elliot staring at me in shock. I gave a little smile and giving the empty bottle a shake, said "It's your turn."
Elliot looked at the remaining nine bottles of wine and paled.
~O~O~O~O~About two hours later, I decided that it was getting a little late and so called the waitress to lead Ed and the others back.
Upon entering the room and seeing Elliot slumped over the table unconscious, Ed exclaimed worriedly, "What's wrong with Elliot? Captain, it couldn't be that you really killed him?"
I smiled faintly and explained, "Nonsense. He's only a little drunk. Sir Knight Elliot sure can hold his liquor! He managed to drink all ten bottles of wine."
"All ten bottles?!"
Everyone's mouths were gaping wide open as Ed stammered, "Im-impossible! This is 'Bottled Intoxication'! Known for felling a man with just one bottle of it. Even Elliot would only be able to drink a bottle and a half tops before passing out……"
I frowned at that. So this wine is that strong? No wonder Elliot had slumped unconscious on the table, and nothing I did could wake him up.
'Oh well.' I pretended to sigh remorsefully and said, "Oh, we were having such a great time talking with each other that before we realised it, he had downed all ten bottles. If I had known how strong it was I would have stopped him."
Everyone was still looking at me disbelievingly, so I quickly told them, "I still have some business to attend to and need to leave. Remember to send Elliot back. Don't leave the poor fellow here, or he'll catch a cold."
Ed and the rest of the Sun Knight Division nodded dazedly.
Once my back was turned towards them, I couldn't help licking my lips. That Bottled Intoxication was pretty good. If I had known, I wouldn't have shared that bottle and a half with Elliot! Tsk tsk. Oh well, since I'm going to meet Roland to ask for a favour next, I could always bring him here with me and I can then continue drinking in my Slayer identity!
Book 2: Duty 6 – The Sun Knight’s Sixth Duty: “Attend various functions and ceremonies”After a night out drinking with Roland, I learned something new…… Death knights can also get drunk.
Although, it was fortunate that he had gotten drunk, or else I wouldn't have been able to pay off the tab by allowing the bar's female owner and all the waitresses to grope him.
I never knew Bottled Intoxication was so expensive!
I had nearly fainted at the bill. Thank goodness I had left without paying earlier in the afternoon.
We had stayed at the pub drinking way into the night, and after letting the bar owner and waitresses grope Roland to their heart's content, I had to drag a drunken corpse back to Pink's house. So by the time I came back to the Holy Temple, it was already the next morning.
Upon stepping foot into the Holy Temple, I wasn't even able to return to my room to catch a few winks of sleep when Storm had stopped me. "You have a guest," he said mysteriously, giving me a wink.
A guest? And what's with Storm's weird tone? As if he'd caught me sneaking off to meet with a secret lover…… 'Don't misunderstand me! I had merely sneaked off to drink, and it was a corpse accompanying me, not my secret lover!'
Even though I was filled with questions, I kept my smile up and asked, "May this Sun ask my brother Storm, in which visitors' hall is this guest awaiting?"
Storm shook his head and said, "How can she be waiting in the visitors' halls?!"
"Not in the visitors' halls?" I couldn't help showing my bewilderment.
Storm seemed very satisfied to see me with an expression other than my smile, for he gave a wave and said, "Follow me."
Before long, we reached a rather secluded prayers hall. Originally, this place was reserved for the holy knights who have come to pray in peace and quiet. However, I was fully aware that more often than not this place had become a place for noisy mealtimes for the rowdy knights.
The moment I entered the room and saw my guest, I understood why she would never have waited for me in the visitors' halls. The visitors' halls are open to the public, whilst this person is not someone who would carelessly show themselves to the public.
The royal family's only Princess!
I couldn't help but be impressed with her swift actions, for it was only yesterday that I had discussed the issue with Elliot, and now the very next morning she had immediately come to speak with me. I turned to Storm and said, "Brother Storm, could you please give us a little privacy?"
Storm left reluctantly, his face filled with unrelenting curiosity.
"Elliot has told me of your plans, but I refuse to work with you." The Princess declared, getting directly to the point whilst looking at me scornfully. "You must think that my brother is uncaring of my wishes and is forcing me to marry the Son of War, but let me tell you that you are wrong! My brother had previously discussed it with me and I had agreed to it. As the royal princess, sacrificing myself for the royal family is my duty!"
"I think we must have a little misunderstanding here, Your Highness." I said whilst maintaining my smile. "Please understand that no matter what happens, I will never lift a hand to harm the Hell Knight. I have sworn to the God of Light that I will always protect every one of my holy knight brothers."
Upon hearing that, the Princess seemed surprised as she looked at me doubtfully, disbelieving my words.
"However, while I might not harm him, the Pope does not think of the holy knights as his brothers. He will not spare anyone who threatens the Church of Light. And as you should know, I'm not on the best of relations with the Pope. His Eminence will not stay his hand because of me. As I cannot stay by Elliot's side twenty-four hours, once you've left to marry the Son of War, who's going to protect Elliot?"
The Princess paled at my words, her earlier determination wavering.
Judging from the situation, I knew I had a chance of persuading her to agreeing to my plan. Even if she were willing to sacrifice herself, I do not believe that she could bear to sacrifice her own beloved lover.
The Princess hesitated for quite some time when she suddenly turned to me furiously. "You actually dared to threaten me with Elliot! You are no representative of the God of Light; you are the very definition of the shameless and the despicable! Brother Sun was right about you!"
'Brother Sun? Ah, the Princess must be talking about my teacher.' My teacher has always been on rather good terms with the royal family, that's why the Princess would call him Brother Sun. Although considering the difference in their age, she should be calling him Uncle instead, but my teacher had always disliked being called anything older than 'brother'……
I asked hesitatingly, "What did my teacher say about me?"
The Princess shot me an icy look and began recounting her conversation with my teacher.
"What kind of person is my student? Hmm, well, I guess you could say that generally speaking he's a nice guy…… as long as you don't go up against him."
"And what if someone does go up against him?"
"Well, you would still think he is a nice guy. But you would start wondering why you seem to be really unlucky recently. When trying to get something done all sorts of problems would crop up around you, when drinking cold soup you would get scalded, when eating porridge you would choke on a bone, when walking along the palace hallways you would step on dog shit……"
"But how can anyone get scalded by cold soup? Whence came the bone when bones aren't even used in porridges? And how could there be dog shit in the clean palace hallways?"
"That's why I say that my student is 'generally speaking' a nice person, as long as you don't go against him."
"You aren't the so-called perfect Sun Knight, but just a sneaky underhanded little creep! Even your teacher thinks so," the Princess said angrily.
'Teacher! Your examples are too poor! If it were me I would never do something so obvious as to use cold soup to scald people! It's too noticeable!'
I frowned and explained to the Princess, "Your Highness, you can believe that I have my own personal stake in this, but do you really think that I do not honestly wish for the Hell Knight to find a happy ending with his beloved Princess?"
The Princess looked at me indifferently and said mockingly, "You don't actually think I would believe that you have Elliot's well-being in mind, do you?"
I gave a cold laugh and said, "Elliot may be one of the Twelve Holy Knights, but this secret identity of his must never be revealed. Therefore, he is only an ordinary royal knight. And as you are well aware of, it is almost impossible to overcome the hurdles of allowing the Princess of a country to marry a mere royal knight."
I then continued sarcastically, "To be honest, it would probably be easier if I were to battle the Son of War for your hand in marriage than to get you to marry a royal knight! No matter what you might say, I am the head of the Holy Temple and the representative of the God of Light."
At this the Princess started frowning, her lips pursed in anger and worry.
"And if I were to win, not only would I be elevated to the status of a noble, should the Crown Prince fail to beget an heir, my child would have a very high chance of getting the throne. What would I have against it? I, who am 'generally speaking' a nice guy, would actually give away this opportunity to Elliot after cracking my head over this for so long?"
In a move that was partly acting and partly real, I turned my head away in an upset huff, while secretly glancing at the Princess from the corner of my eyes.
She was silent for some time, her face showing clearly her doubt. When she was unable to find an answer to my questions, she finally turned to me, her voice softened from her previously hard tone, as she asked, "then why would you want to help us? After all, have we not obviously gone up against you?"
I immediately rebutted her. "'No, you have never gone against me! Elliot might not wish to continue as the Hell Knight, but he never actually harmed the Holy Temple, and whilst Your Highness might have agreed to marry the Son of War, that was merely because you were going along with the His Highness the Crown Prince's plans. With the royal family's reputation at an all-time low and the Church's rising popularity, as the next King it's understandable that he would want to try and regain the royal family's previous standing, so I do not consider him to be going against me either."
After hearing all this, the Princess looked even more confused. She no longer looked like an arrogant princess and more like a lost little girl. I smiled at her humorously and said, "You may have understood my teacher's hints not to go against me, but you forgot to ask him what I would consider going against me."
"And what would you consider going against you?"
When I didn't answer her, the Princess actually said coquettishly, "Come on, tell me! Only after you've told me can I avoid going against you, you know."
A Princess older than me acting so gave me the shivers, but as I thought about it, it seems that there is a prime example of someone going against me.
I gave a cold laugh and said, "Alright, I'll give you an example. Recently there's been this bastard who tried to kill my vice-captain, and is trying to steal one of my brother's woman, totally disregarding this Sun Knight. I swear that if I don't let him suffer some payback, my name is not Creus Sun!"
~O~O~O~O~The Crown Prince is indeed worthy of admiration. Even for his long awaited coronation, he had showed no intention of upgrading the decorations of the royal palace.
Even though today is the new king's coronation, the palace had not undergone any changes or decorations, and only the observant would notice that the red carpets had been changed…… or were they merely washed?
It was rumoured that the Minister of Ceremonies had even approach the new king to advice (lecture) him, but the new king had merely rebutted him with a softly spoken "My father has already redecorated the royal palace several times, it is already quite lavish enough."
No wonder the Princess was so willing to marry someone she did not love, for if her brother was willing to be so selfless, how could she refuse him and say that she already had a lover and that she did not wish to marry the Son of War?
It probably didn't hurt that the Son of War wasn't actually that bad looking. When I finally caught my first look of him at the ceremony, I was annoyed to find that that guy standing opposite me, who was not too bad looking, was actually the Son of War. As the head of warriors, I had imagined him to be a tall man with bulging muscles, messy hair and scruffy looking…… but I have to admit that it couldn't be further from the truth.
He was tall and muscular, but they weren't the exaggerated muscles I had imagined. From the way he walked with light and sure steps, one could tell that this guy definitely does not depend solely on brute strength, that his speed and agility are pretty good too. And with that head of wavy black hair, he looked like a stalking panther; beautiful, sleek and deadly. No wonder then that Adair had lost to him, and nearly lost his life too.
And from the way the ladies around the ceremonial hall were stealing peeks at him, he was obviously popular with the women too…… The Crown Prince had probably sincerely believed that the Son of War would be a good match for his sister, before deciding to allow his sister to marry him. But of course, he had no idea that his sister already had a lover whom she loved with all her heart.
But back to the coronation ceremony. Although the ceremonial hall was not very lavishly decorated, it was still a very solemn and stately room. And what was most important was that the whole country was actually looking forward to his coronation, as his ascension would also mean that someone would finally be stepping down from the throne.
When the King handed over his crown to the Pope, and the Pope carefully placed the crown onto the Crown Prince's head, declaring him the new king of Forgotten Echo, there was no small number of people who had released a breath of relief.
I didn't know whether to celebrate or to mourn this occasion, for even though that piggy king's conduct was poor at best and horrifying at worst, it is easier to deal with the stupid pig king than to deal with the tiger-disguised as-a-pig king.
Sigh… looks like the easy days of dealing with the 'real pig' are over. From now on I would have to carefully tread my way around the 'fake pig'. I can only hope that I do not get eaten alive by the tiger……
As I was mourning the past days of my easy life, the dignitaries from the various countries had been approaching the King with their coronation gifts. A jewel studded dressing mirror, a complete set of expensive diamond jewellery, a jewel encrusted sword……
To be honest, while all these gifts are very expensive for sure, none of them are really priceless treasures. In fact, the gifts presented to the previous pig king on his birthday were even more impressive than these gifts. This isn't because the other countries were being stingy. Oh no, as this concerns a country's reputation, one cannot afford to be stingy in matters such as these.
The problem was that the time between the announcement of the new king's coronation and the coronation itself was too short! The countries had scrambled to find the best gifts possible but with such short notice they could only offer gifts such as jewel encrusted gold ornaments and the like……
Hmmm… if the king were to pluck the jewels off and melt down the gold, they could be recast into gold bars and sold off! No one would even notice anything.
'Crown Prince…… Ah, no! Its fake pig king now, you are simply too amazing. If we weren't on opposing sides as we are now, I would have bowed down to you to show my respect for your pulling out all the stops in your schemes to get more money. Once I've told the Pope about this, I'm sure that he too would be most impressed, and perhaps even wish to become sworn brothers with you.'
At this moment, the Son of War gestured to the warriors standing behind him, and immediately two warriors stepped forward, carrying the Church of War's coronation gifts with them and placing it before the king.
It was a shield. If one were to raise it to shield one's self from attackers, I guarantee you that no one would be able to hit it…… And if there is someone who could bear to hit a jewel encrusted gold shield, I would be the first to kill this wasteful fellow. You should know that if one were to damage even the smallest of the jewels on the shield, not even my entire salary from now (24 years old) till my fortieth birthday would be enough to pay for the damage!
The king nodded his head in appreciation, his eyes reflecting the jewels as they glinted in the light, his smile widening.
Upon seeing this, the Son of War proudly said, "This shield was crafted with the co-operation of an army of mages, jewellery smiths and goldsmiths, working together to create this marvel of art. The jewel in the centre of the shield has the emblem of Forgotten Echo carved onto it, while the surrounding circle of jewels has a mage's spell carved into them, shielding the bearer of the shield from any magical attacks. Furthermore, its defence is one of the best; even taking an axe to it would not leave a single scratch!"
Upon hearing this, the crowd in the hall started murmuring, for this gift was unarguably the most impressive of all the gifts presented today.
But inside I was secretly laughing. I bet the fake pig king would rather throw his own trusted knights in front of him than to use the shield and potentially scratch it.
"Put it away carefully," the king said to the attendants standing beside him. This was the first time he'd said anything since he started receiving the coronation gifts.
The Son of War looked on in satisfaction as the attendants carefully kept away the shield, before turning to look at me, a challenge in his eyes. "The Church of War has paid their respects to His Majesty the King. I am curious as to what the Church of Light is going to present to His Majesty?"
I stepped forward from my place amongst the Twelve Holy Knights and walked towards him on the red carpet, stopping when we were only two feet apart. I then took out a beaded bracelet. The bracelet was made from golden transparent glass beads in the shape of small roses and a single large rose in the middle. While delicately beautiful, the bracelet looked far from expensive.
I bowed to the King before saying sincerely, "This Sun has not many worldly possessions, but presents this flower bracelet-blessed by the God of Light and personally imbued by this Sun with holy light."
The King gave a polite smile and nodded, but the Son of War gave a derisive laugh while the other guests frowned, for this gift seemed to be a rather poor gift and hardly befitting a King's coronation gift.
Just then, I added, "With blessings from the God of Light, may His Majesty know only of good health for the rest of his long and prosperous life. However, should His Majesty ever suffer from an injury, he may break one of the small roses and receive the God of Light's blessings. Its effects are equal to a high level healing spell. The largest rose in the centre, however, will give His Majesty blessings equal to an Absolute Healing Spell."
Upon hearing my explanation, the King couldn't hide the pleased look on his face, and after speaking a few words with one of his trusted knights, the knight stepped forward to take the rose bracelet from me and hand it to the King. After taking a good look at it the King immediately put it on, completely ignoring the Son of War's scowling face.
I had to smile at this. 'Even though it was a gift from me, the King had still loved it,' I thought triumphantly.
After all, the one thing most feared by those in power is assassination attempts.
But with this bracelet, it would be the equivalent of carrying around a priest capable of casting eighteen high levelled healing spells and one Absolute Healing Spell (there are eighteen small roses and one large rose).
And what's more, this priest could never be bribed by the enemy, nor is it a vulnerable priest-often the first to be killed by the enemy. So how can he not love this precious life-saving bracelet?
And besides, this life-saving bracelet cannot be created by any ordinary priest!
To make one of the small roses, thirty high levelled healing spells have to be cast one after another on it. As
for the large rose… well……
I wasn't being stingy when I only gave the King one of them, for I had only managed to make that one large rose.
Even I who am overflowing with holy light can only cast at most ten or so high level healing spells. This bracelet had taken me a whole month to create…… 'Oh, the lengths to which I go to just to pocket the coronation gift money given by the Pope! But it's all for the sake of my retirement!'
"Captain Sun Knight!"
At this moment, a holy knight jogged over to me and reported in a low voice, "There are several necromancers rioting around the city with undead creatures."
I maintained my smile as I listened to his report, all the while looking at the Son of War standing opposite me and smiling at me gleefully…… 'You damn bastard! You dare to try to pull this trick?!'
I refuse to believe that any necromancer other than Pink-who is specially contracted by the Holy Temple-would dare to cause trouble in the city of the Church of Light's headquarters. It's not as if they feel like they have too many undead creatures and are feeling generous enough to donate a few for the Church of Light's priests and holy knights to practice on.
This is definitely the work of the Church of War!
As the whole land knows, I hate undead creatures the most, and that if an undead creature were to appear I would definitely ask to be dismissed to deal with it. And in my absence, the Church of War would then take the opportunity to ask for the Princess' hand in marriage, as well as try to garner the support of the nobles.
My expression turned severe as I said, "Necromancers actually dared to bring the undead into the city blessed and protected by the God of Light? How terrible! Listen up, give the orders to my Sun Knight Division to deal with those unblessed undead creatures. I have been thinking that they have been growing lax in their training and should step it up to ensure that they have the sufficient skills to protect this city."
"Yes, sir." The holy knight answered, and after giving me a salute he left quickly to carry out my orders.
At that moment, the Son of War opened his mouth and slowly said, "Sun Knight, the undead have appeared on such an important and auspicious day; don't you think you should look to it personally?"
I replied him in a confident tone, "Please do not worry, your grace. Today is the day of His Majesty the King's coronation ceremony, a day blessed by the God of Light. Those unblessed necromancers have not a single hope of succeeding in whatever nefarious plans they might have. I assure you that my Sun Knight Division is more than capable of defeating them. "
Heh, what's there to be worried about?
The Church of War is not at all experienced in dealing with the undead. I doubt they would dare to involve the truly powerful necromancers in their plans. Moreover, those truly powerful necromancers would never bother to get involved in affairs such as these…… If it were Pink, she probably would agree to their schemes, but necromancers like Pink are far and few between.
Besides, I am confident that this plan to let the undead run amok in the city was planned solely by the Church of War, and that the King had had no part in it.
This is because Forgotten Echo is a country which has always followed the Religion of the Light God. As such, the people are extremely unsympathetic to the undead and dark aura. Chances are that this move has instead displeased the King, for he showed no inclination of opening his mouth to command me to deal with the undead myself. Looks like he's rather angry at them.
When the Son of War saw that he could not get rid of me, he gave up and turned to the King. He then said frankly, "Your Majesty, other than coming to congratulate you on your ascending the throne, there is one other reason for our presence here."
Right away, the King put on a look of curiosity and asked, "Oh? Speak your mind."
The Son of War's gaze drifted to the Princess as he said, "I have long heard tales of the Princess' beauty and intelligence, and have always admired her. When I beheld her for the first time today, I was struck by her beauty, and knew that the rumours of her beauty had been greatly understated. This has only strengthened my resolve to take such a wonderful lady as my wife."
Although the Son of War's marriage proposal was rather sudden and inappropriate, the Church of War's warriors have never been known to mince around with their words, so regardless of his rather uncouth proposal, no one really took offence.
At this moment, several warriors started bringing forward chests after chests. The Son of War opened the first chest and the hall was immediately filled with glitter. Inside, the chest was filled to the brim with gold and jewels. The Son of War then spoke up, "This is the betrothal gift for Her Highness."
At this, all the nobles turned to look at the King. After realising that the King was not displeased, they then understood that the King already had the intention of giving his sister's hand in marriage to the Son of War. Murmurs of congratulations started up, and there were even a few who started clapping loudly while shouting out blessings for the couple.
"Hold on a minute!" I shouted, surprising the guests into silence. I then knelt down, and in my most sincere voice I asked of the King, "This Sun, too, holds the Princess dear to my heart. It is my fervent hope that His Majesty would give this Sun an equal chance to pursue the Princess' hand in marriage."
The minute my request was out my mouth, all the guests in attendance exploded into an uproar, and even the King appeared stunned…… and not to mention the Twelve Holy Knights who were staring at me with wide eyes, each looking as if they had seen a ghost instead of the Sun Knight they all knew and love (or hate, in some cases).
Storm spoke up in a disbelieving voice, "How inconceivable. I always thought that Sun's first choice for the hand in marriage was the God of Light's statue!"
The Twelve Holy Knights all nodded their head in agreement with his statement, but as expected of my not friend-friend, Judge did not.
When he saw me glancing at him, Judge reached out and patted Frost's shoulders, raising an eyebrow as if to say, 'I thought your first choice would be Frost?'
Not waiting for the King's response, the Son of War turned to me and growled, "You bastard……"
The Duke of Ceylan who had been watching the proceedings so far quickly stepped forward and stopped the Son of War from saying anything that he might regret. After calming him down, the duke turned to me with a smile and asked, "Sun Knight, since you have the intention of pursuing Her Highness' hand in marriage, you must have prepared a betrothal gift?"
Hearing this, the Son of War's face brightened and he added gleefully, "If you haven't got a betrothal gift prepared, it would mean that you are only trying to cause a disturbance here!"
"As this Sun has said earlier, this Sun has little worldly possessions, and can only offer once more the God of Light's blessings to show my sincerity," I said as I took out another rose beads bracelet. However, this second bracelet wasn't created by me, for I did not have enough time to make both gifts. Instead, I had given the method of creating the rose beads to the Pope, and in exchange he would make me 108 of the rose beads as my teaching fee.
When the King saw the second bracelet his eyes had lit up, but still he pretended to deliberate on the matter before showing a reluctant expression. 'Hmph! In my opinion he's probably trying to think of a way to avoid marrying his sister to me, and yet still keep the bracelet!'
He gave a deep sigh (can't think of a way of keeping the bracelet huh?), turned to his sister and asked, "They are both fine young men, my sister, and they both seem to be sincere in their love for you. What say you to this?"
Now, according to the King's script, the Princess should hesitate for a few moments before demurely glancing at the Son of War……
But as the saying goes, 'man proposes, but God disposes'. The Princess' gaze remained firmly glued to her hands lying in her lap, and instead the royal knight standing behind her leapt out.
The royal knight-Elliot- bowed to the King while proclaiming loudly, "You majesty, I am the one who loves the Princess with all my heart! W-we are in love with each other!"
Upon hearing this, the crowd turned to look at the Princess. The Princess did not show any intention of denying his statement. To a well-born lady of her status, her silence would be equal to acknowledging his words.
The entire hall was in an uproar, for no one would have thought that the Princess, who had previously never received a single proposal, would suddenly be inundated with three all at once. What the hell is going on?
The King obviously did not foresee things going this way, for he just sat there looking stunned, before suddenly turning to glare at me.
'Your Majesty, you are far too shrewd…… But even though it is my fault, you needn't glare at me so obviously.' After showing my surprised look, I quickly arranged my expression to look at the King's glare with puzzlement, as if wondering what would cause him to glare at me so.
Seeing this, he hurriedly turned to look back at Elliot, a frown gracing his forehead.
The King's two trusted knights quickly stepped forward; the younger one who looked to be about thirty or so shouted at Eliot, "Elliot! Stop fooling around! The Princess is not someone you can hope to match with!"
Elliot ignored him and instead looked at the older knight, an expression of shame and guilt on his face, but even so he still gave the knight a pleading look. Upon seeing this, the older knight gave a sigh but he did not speak to lecture him.
At this moment, Storm neared me and whispered in my ear, "That older knight may not have been Elliot's official teacher, but he seems to be very fond of him and would often teach him many things. He could be considered half a teacher."
I nodded my head while trying to stop myself from smiling gleefully. 'Hahaha! I never knew about this, looks like Elliot's chances of winning has just increased significantly!'
"Who would have thought that Elliot would have the guts…… But then again, Sun actually having something going on with the Princess is even more surprising," said Storm with a sigh as he talked quietly with Leaf and Blaze. As they were some distance away, I had to strain my ears to hear him.
'Ho-hold on! Whoever said I had something going on with the Princess?!'
"No wonder I had heard from the Sun Division knights that Sun had forced Elliot to drink wine till he was stoned for no apparent reason. Now I see that it was a fight between rivals. And the Princess had secretly come looking for Sun the next day, most probably to explain things after having being caught two-timing them."
Storm had a look of content on his face as he revealed the ultimate gossip, while the other Twelve Holy Knight standing nearby all perked up their ears as they eavesdropped on the conversation.
'I see, so it isn't just my Sun Division knights who are gossipy…… it's the entire Holy Temple! And you call yourselves holy knights?! Why don't you just call yourselves the gossipy knights?!'
Whilst complaining about them in my mind, the King had asked sternly, "Sister, do you really like Elliot?"
In reply to his question the Princess nodded quietly. The King became silent again.
As his silence grew, his face grew darker and darker, and no one dared to speak a word for fear of worsening to situation. The entire hall elapsed into an awkward unbearable silence. Even the Son of War kept quiet despite his obvious confusion with the situation; he merely frowned as he looked between me and Elliot with an unfriendly look.
After the stiff silence had gone on for some time, I broke it by speaking slowly, "How about this, let us settle this dispute with our swords, as in accordance with the knight's code of honour."
'What? This sentence sounds familiar to you? Ahem!…… the dead have no intellectual rights!'
The Son of War's face immediately lit up at this and he immediately agreed, "This is a good idea, warriors use their swords to settle their disputes!"
'Duh!' I knew he would agree for he knew that I am not very good with the sword; and as a mere knight, Elliot had no blessings from the Gods. Also, in terms of jobs, Elliot is at a disadvantage. The warriors are good at one-on-one battles, while knights specialise in group battles. Everyone knew this.
"Then so be it!"
With that declaration, the King turned and left abruptly. Judging from his dark expression he was in a mighty fine temper.
I secretly smiled. 'Step one-complete.'
Just then, Leaf rushed towards me and patted my back comfortingly. "Don't feel too sad, Sun. There's plenty of fish out there in the sea. It doesn't matter if you can't marry the Princess."
"I'm on pretty good terms with Elliot; I'll ask him not to make things difficult for you," said Storm as he, too, patted my back, acting all 'we're bros, don't worry, I'll protect you'.
"If that Son of War beats you up too badly, I'll definitely help you get revenge on him!" said Blaze, waving his fist at an imaginary foe.
"S-Sun, don't worry, even though it g-goes against the rules, I'll s-still help to block the fatal blows…… even though t-there'll be a lot of them, I won't give up on saving you!" Earth's words are a hundred times more poisonous than Metal's!
"…… can you guys not have a little more confidence in me?"
Upon hearing that, the Cold Blood Faction merely gave me a cold look, but the Good Warm Faction instead said in unison, "We do! We are confident that with your recovery abilities they wouldn't be able to beat you to death. That's why we can confidently allow you to step up and get beaten up!"
'Why is it that the Cold Blood Faction's cold looks don't chill me at all, while instead the Good Warm Faction's words make me feel like I'm in the middle of a freezing blizzard……?'
Book 2: Duty 7 – The Sun Knight’s Seventh Duty: “Advise fellow holy brothers against an unwise decision”The next day after the King's coronation, a missive from the royal palace arrived, stating the date of the duel to be two weeks later. As it was impossible to make a fair fight for three, it had been decided that all three competitors would battle it out together, with the last person standing declared the winner.
This news wasn't new to me, as I had requested that the Princess try to make it a three person duel, as well as try to push the competition as far back as possible to give me at the very least two weeks to prepare. The King clearly loved his sister quite a lot, for even when he must have been furious, he had still listened to his sister's suggestions.
However, the King probably was furious with me, for along with the missive was a note I was required to sign, declaring the disclaimer of responsibility in the event of my death in the competition. 'He can't be thinking of using this opportunity to let the Son of War dispose of me, can he?'
I wryly signed the disclaimer note, quite aware that with my healing abilities and the Pope watching the battle, it's almost impossible for me to die on the stage…… It would probably be easier to just assassinate me.
After confirming the date and time of the duel, I immediately left to look for Judge. It was only after I stopped a passing holy knight and asked for the Judge Knight's whereabouts, that I realised that the Twelve Holy Knights were in a meeting. Now that I think about it, it seems like I haven't attended one in a very long time?
Oh whatever, it's not like attending meetings is one of the Sun Knight's main duties.
I opened the door to the meeting room and immediately became the focus of attention. I smiled and nodded at everyone before saying apologetically, "My apologies, my fellow brothers. This Sun has been busy with things recently and was unable to attend the meetings……"
"Oh, it's alright! I-it can't be helped that you're busy! Re-really, its fine, your presence here wouldn't make any difference!" said the Earth Knight 'sincerely'.
'Earth, you…' I grinded my teeth in annoyance and my gaze swept past him to look at the Judge Knight. "Captain Judge Knight, if you do not mind, this Sun wishes to appropriate some of your time to practice my sword skills with."
"I do not see anything wrong with that, as long as you do not mind accidentally getting hurt," said the Judge Knight coldly.
As we walked out the meeting room, I closed the door behind us, but not in time to catch Leaf's worried exclamation, "Oh dear! Sun's upset about not getting the Princess and is feeling suicidal!" followed by Metal's "Nonsense! Our Judge Knight has no interest in beating up a weak defenceless person." And lastly, all the Good Warm Faction knights agreeing with him, "Hmm, you're right, Judge wouldn't bully the weak and defenceless."……
I couldn't help turning to Judge and complaining, "Honestly, am I really that weak?! Whatever everyone might say, I did make it till now alive and kicking, and in fact I have even defeated numerous undead creatures, so you can't say that I am that weak, right?!"
Judge's lips twitched before he distracted me, saying "Where are we going?"
"The prayers room."
Judge nodded and before long, we had arrived at our destination. Hanging outside the door was a sign that said 'undergoing construction'. Ignoring the sign completely, I pushed open the door and entered. Inside the room was Elliot, his head raised as he stared at the murals decorating the walls.
I nodded my head in satisfaction. That Ed is pretty efficient, and quite smart too. I had told him to sneak Elliot in here without anyone noticing, and not only had he carried out my instructions perfectly, he even had the presence of mind to hang that 'undergoing construction' sign outside the door to stop people from entering.
And even better, he was smart enough to know not to stick around afterwards, thus avoiding me having to waste my saliva to order him out.
Looks like I can entrust some things to Ed in the future and thus lessen Adair's burden. I wouldn't want Adair to die from being overworked before my retirement, would I? If that were to really happen I would die without him here to help me.
"Judge Knight!" Elliot didn't look surprised to see me here, but he was stunned when he saw Judge following in behind me.
Judge frowned as he looked at me and Elliot before asking me, "What are you trying to pull here?"
I replied him frankly, "I want him to marry the Princess, so I need you to train him with the sword before he competes in the duel."
"If it were you, it's fine, but I have no obligation to help him," Came Judge's cold and detached reply.
"No! You do have an obligation to help him……"
Even so, Judge merely looked at me before turning to leave.
I hurriedly grabbed him and added, "No matter what, he is still one of the Cold Blood Faction; don't tell me that you-the Cold Blood Faction's leader, would be so heartless as to ignore him?"
"What?" Judge turned around, frowning as he took in Elliot in his royal knight uniform, before turning to look at me with doubt.
I quickly explained, "He is the Hell Knight Captain and one of the Twelve Holy Knights. Since young, he was sent away by the Pope to go undercover in the royal family. However, after so many years spent undercover amongst all the other royal knights, he no longer wishes to return to the Holy Temple……"
When I saw understanding flash in his eyes, I added, "Furthermore, he and the Princess really are in love with each other, so I've promised him that as long as he married the Princess and thus stop the Son of War from marrying her, I would release him from his Hell Knight position."
I then quietly added in a whisper, "Or else, the Pope is going to kill him now that he has not only become useless to him but also a threat to the Church."
Upon hearing my explanation, Judge's frowns deepened, and after some time he finally said, "The Son of War is extremely strong. I fear that even I would not be able to defeat him. Besides, knights are less suited to one-on-one battles than warriors. Knights ride horses to do battle and use shields to block the blows of the enemy. If it were us holy knights, we might be able to make up for some of it with our holy spells, but the Hell Knight cannot use any of the spells or moves of a holy knight to avoid his true identity from being exposed…… In short, he doesn't have any chance of winning."
I nodded my head, saying, "I know, but he does not need to win. I want you to train him with the goal of staying in the battle for as long as possible in mind."
Judge frowned at that and said with disagreement, "Captain Sun Knight, you should remember that your current duty is to……"
"Secure the faiths of the believers!" I said for him.
I then continued, as serious as can be. "Believe me, everything that I'm doing is for the sake of this duty…… but I might accomplish an additional mission while I'm at it."
Judge rolled his eyes at this. 'Yes!' Upon seeing him roll his eyes at me, I knew right away that the serious and responsible colleague Judge Knight had been switched for the friend who would agree to almost any request of mine, Leithe. He said exasperatedly, "Let me guess, if I don't agree to this request of yours I would never get any peace!"
I chuckled at that. It was true. I had the most perseverance when asking someone to do something for me.
Back then, I had once asked Leithe to scale the walls of the Holy Temple to get me some blueberry pie. Every hour like clockwork I would approach him to remind him to get my pie. Do note that it is 24 hours a day, including a reminder every hour at night: "Leithe, buy some blueberry pies for me!"
Now that I think back about it only do I realise how close to danger I really was. Fortunately, Leithe had caved in to my demands and chose to scale the walls for my blueberry pies instead of enacting a chilling midnight murder and killing me once and for all……
"Then please start training him from today onwards. There's only two weeks left."
Upon hearing 'two weeks', Judge shook his head and said, "One of these days I'm going to just kill you once and for all instead of agreeing to your demands."
I hastily said, "No way! Judge, you're the world's nicest person, ever! Even nicer than Leaf! You would never kill your bestest best friend!"
"…… are you mocking me?" Judge shot me a glare.
"I'm praising you!" I quickly corrected, before giving a little cough and nudging Elliot, reminding him, "Hey! Are you done daydreaming? Judge has agreed to train you, so hurry up and thank him."
Elliot finally woke up from his daze and stammered, "A-aren't you supposed to hate each other……?"
I nodded and said, "Yup! Let me introduce you to him. This is my most hated best friend, Leithe Judge."
"Most hated…… best friend?!" Elliot was stunned once again, his brain seeming to have grinded to a halt.
"Stop bullying him."
Judge shook his head at my cheeky actions before suggesting to me, "If your aim is for him to stay in the fight for as long as possible, you should get Cloud Knight to help in his training. That would go a long way to helping his stay in the fight."
I thought about it before realising his meaning. "No problem! I'll go and look for him right this instance. Cloud is one of the Good Warm Faction and very obedient. I'll just order him to help with the training."
Judge nodded and started to consider Elliot, probably thinking of the best way to start his training…… I spared a moment to offer a prayer for Elliot. Even though Judge is a fair and righteous man and would never purposely try to make things difficult for Elliot, I have seen the training schedule that Judge sets for himself…… and I can only say that with that kind of training anyone would become a skilled swordsman!
'Who was it?! Who was it who said excluding me? I heard you!'
~O~O~O~O~"Cloud! Cloud Knight! Where are you?" I called out as I walked along the corridors of the Holy Temple.
Although such an action is rather inelegant and contrary to my Sun Knight's elegant and graceful image, there's nothing that can be done about it! This is the quickest way to finding the Cloud Knight. And besides, when everyone realized that it was Cloud that I was looking for they all looked at me understandingly, disregarding my inelegant behaviour.
As the whole continent knows, the Cloud Knight is a drifter who leads a wandering existence and who has a flighty and capricious disposition. It is said that he is most commonly found on window sills, atop the roofs and under large shady trees, where he would usually be reading books or getting lost in his thoughts.
I don't know how the previous Cloud Knight drifted or floated around, but I do know that our Cloud Knight would really float around. And furthermore, his 'drifting ability' is extremely good, for he would often 'drift' past me without me even noticing his presence…… and the best places when looking for him would be dark gloomy corners, dusty attics and unused cupboards that are rarely opened even once a year. So in short, it's best to go looking in all the dark and musty corners of the Holy Temple when looking for the Cloud Knight!
Typically, he would light a small light in those dark places and read books like, How to Excel in Divination, The Top Ten in Fortune Witchcraft, and Avoiding Bad Luck and Beckoning Good Fortune. And beside him, would be a bottle of some suspicious pitch black or murky green or blood red liquid, of which I've never quite dared to inquire about.
However, as the Holy Temple is quite extensive and holds a rather large number of dark musty places, it would be almost impossible to ferret him out from his newest hiding place.
Therefore, everyone has settled for the next best method—calling out his name while walking about the Holy Temple.
After looking for Cloud for what seems like half a day, I saw Storm walking in my direction with an unusually small stack of official documents-only ten or so of them. Even though I knew that the chances of Storm knowing Cloud's location were extremely slim, I was so frustrated by my lack of success that I couldn't stifle the desperate hope within me that led me to asking, "My brother Storm, may I ask if you noticed the direction in which our brother Cloud headed in after the meeting was over?"
Storm raised an eyebrow at me and replied with a question of his own, "Have you ever seen him other than when he is standing right in front of you?"
"Never…" I sighed. This Cloud really is like a ghost. Not only is he fond of dark gloomy corners, he walks using the Cloud Knight's specialty-the Cloud Flight Steps. Using the Cloud Flight Steps-originally designed to evade the attacks of one's opponents- he's improved it to the point where he could even evade everyone's sight…… If he did not wish for you to see him, short of growing a third eye, it would be impossible for you to spot him!
Storm nodded at my reply, but before I could leave him dejectedly, he spoke up. "And where do you most often see Cloud?"
'Where I most often see him?' I thought about it. 'The meeting room? No, I hadn't actually 'seen' him then either.
'Along the hallways? No, I've never ever 'seen' him walking in the hallways.
'Inside cupboards? Not there either! Even if I were to come across the correct cupboard, I wouldn't see him either as he would have 'blended' in with the cupboard perfectly.
'Hold on! Now that I think about it, the place I see him most often is……' A chill crept up my spine as I said tremblingly, "Behind my back……"
Storm nodded his head and pointed to behind me before continuing on his way.
I was silent for a moment before calling out experimentally, "Cloud?"
'It really is true……' I whipped around and sure enough, I saw the figure of the Cloud Knight standing before me, his skin even paler than mine due to lack of sun exposure. I asked exasperatedly, "At what point in time did you start following behind me?"
Cloud answered respectfully in his wispy voice, "Since you came out of the prayers room that was undergoing construction and started calling out for me. I was, coincidentally, inside the book cupboard just outside the room."
"…… And you've been following me ever since? Why didn't you call out to me?"
Cloud answered weakly, "I called out to you several times, but my voice was drowned out by yours when you called my name at the same time, so you probably didn't hear me."
I was speechless.
"Just pat my shoulder next time then."
"Alright," Cloud nodded.
"You were hiding in the cupboards again?" I then asked, disapproving of his unusual habits. "Haven't I told you that that is not a place suitable for people? If you want to read your books you could go to the reading rooms. Or if you dislike others around you when reading you could go to one of the prayers rooms too. You are one of the Twelve Holy Knights; even if you were to ask for your own personal prayers room no one would object."
Cloud shook his head and said, "I wasn't hiding in the cupboards. You had forbidden me from them, so I wasn't hiding there."
"Didn't you just say that you were hiding in the cupboards?"
Cloud shook his head again. "I was hiding in the 'book cupboards'."
"…… is there a difference?"
Cloud tilted his head to one side and answered, "The cupboards have a damp mouldy smell, while the book cupboards smell of termites. Termites smell better than mould."
'Oi, oi. Wouldn't a normal person dislike both smells? And if the smell of termites is better, then why did you previously hide in the cupboards which smell mouldy anyway?'
I totally couldn't figure out Cloud's way of thinking…… 'Oh whatever! Whatever floats his boat, I guess.'
"Cloud, I want you to look for the Judge Knight in that prayers room that is undergoing construction and listen to the orders he gives you."
"Alright." Cloud nodded, turned, and then disappeared into thin air like a ghost.
I nodded my head at Cloud's obedience. He might be a bit peculiar, and hard to find, and his voice is very soft, and he may think in rather weird ways, but the best thing about him is his obedience. He would always listen to my instructions and carry them out without any questioning.
"Sun!" Someone called out at me.
Without even waiting for the person to reach me, I asked with a frown, "Something happened again?"
"How did you know?" Blaze executed a sharp brake as he stared at me in surprise, as if suspecting that I had suddenly gained the ability to see the future.
"Whenever I see you running towards me panicked, it is never a good thing." I explained, a dark look passing over my face as I recalled the last incident where Adair had nearly lost his life.
"Oh, I see……" realised Blaze, hitting his fist in his other hand, before suddenly regaining his earlier panicked state and shouted, "Wait! Why are we even discussing this?! Your Sun Knight Division has just gotten into a fight with those people from the Church of War. They've all suffered some injuries, although nothing life threatening, thankfully. They're in the great hall at the moment.
"However, those guys from the Church of War are there, too, calling out some bullshit about demanding justice. What utter bullshit! Both parties were involved in the fight; and further more, their injuries are in no way as bad as the Sun Knight Division's! It should be us who should be demanding justice from them!"
After hearing the account from Blaze, I was furious. My Sun Knight Division actually went and got involved in a group fight? And they had picked a fight with such a strong enemy, completely disregarding my warnings!
Are they trying to anger me on purpose?!
~O~O~O~O~I rushed after Blaze in the direction of the great hall, and sure enough I saw my Sun Division knights, all of them covered in blood. I was so angry I nearly started shouting at them in front of everyone. Thankfully though, Blaze had jerked on my shirt and gestured silently at the group of warriors from the Church of War standing in the middle of the hall, thus forcing me to swallow my angry words.
Standing among the group of fifty or so warriors was the Son of War himself.
I put on a faint smile and walked towards him, passing the injured Sun Division knights without a second glance, and greeted him politely, "This Sun was not aware of the Son of War's visit, or else this Sun would have came earlier to welcome you, to show the God of Light's welcome and love of guests. Since you are now here, are you wishing of a tour of the Church of Light……"
The Son of War listened to my spiel with a steadily increasing tick in his jaw, until he impatiently interrupted me and shouted, "Cut the crap, Sun Knight! Your men have beaten up mine, and as for you-you… Well, you better give me a good explanation."
'My men beat up yours?' I gave a cold laugh inside. 'My Sun Division knights are much more heavily injured than your warriors! Furthermore, they've been strictly schooled by me and would never go against those whom they have no guarantee of winning against, so it still remains to be seen who had actually started the fight!'
The more likely event would be that after Elliot and I had stepped out to compete for the Princess' hand in marriage, he couldn't find either of us to vent out his frustration on us. As he wouldn't dare to touch the royal knights as they belonged to the King and not Elliot, he settled for the next best thing and picked a fight with my knights…… Those idiots! Hadn't I warned them not to leave the Holy Temple? See how they've ignored my warnings?!
Upon hearing his words, I had immediately arranged my face into a stern expression and said, "Indeed. As the benevolent God of Light preaches to us, we should treat all guests, especially those who have come from afar, with the utmost hospitality and respect, and not with such horrifying violence. The benevolence the God of Light bestows upon all her people and all creatures is an example that we should all follow. For it is only kindness and love that will generate kindness and love in return; violence will only invite further violence and hate. As no one would wish to be treated with violence, we should of course show our love in hopes of the others returning in kind……"
As I continued on, the Son of War's forehead knotted itself in deep frowns until at last he grabbed his head with his hands in seeming agony and roared, "Shut up!"
Following his wishes, I closed my mouth and kept quiet, all the while smiling at him warmly.
Behind me I could hear Blaze muttering, "Amazing! I had fought with him earlier but couldn't touch even a single hair on his head; yet Sun managed to give him a massive headache by just using his mouth."
"Just tell me how you intend to punish them!" The Son of War growled whilst panting heavily. 'Looks like listening to me speaking is more tiring than a fight with Blaze.'
Upon hearing him, I turned to my Sun Division knights and berated them harshly, "You all actually used violence on our guests? Have you forgotten that you are holy knights pledged to the God of Light? Do you think yourselves barbarians? Since you do not wish to act as honourable and well-behaved knights, you are all forbidden from receiving any healing from the priests. You are to go to the infirmary and bandage yourselves up before reporting yourselves to the holding cells, for you are all grounded for a month!"
The Sun Division knights hung their heads in shame as they stood up slowly and made their way out. The more severely wounded had to be held up by the others as they all limped their way out, dripping blood all over the previously spotless floor, a trail of blood marking their journey as they headed in the direction of the infirmary.
Seeing this, Blaze said quietly to me worriedly, "Sun, shouldn't you at least allow them to heal their wounds before locking them up? They are really wounded quite heavily!"
"That is their punishment," I said lightly, not budging on my decision.
The surrounding holy knights all looked on with pity and commiseration for the Sun Knight Division's plight, before turning to glare angrily at the group from the Church of War.
I, too, turned my head around and saw the satisfied smile on the Son of War's face, as well as the group of warriors behind him who were laughing at the Sun Knight Division's as their battered figures left the hall.
"I look forward to the duel two weeks from now, and in respect to the God of Light's benevolence I promise to show you some mercy. Hahaha…" laughed the Son of War mockingly.
I smiled at him and merely replied, "I thank you for your kindness."
"Hahaha……" The entire group from the Church of War laughed uproariously as they left smugly, not even bothering to take their leave with us.
It was only after the last of the group had left the Holy Temple that Blaze looked at me carefully and asked quietly, "S-Sun? Now that they're gone should I ask the priests to heal the Sun Knight Division?"
I gave him a look and he immediately shut up.
I left in search of my division knights, and after a moment's consideration Blaze, too, left after me.
Although there is more than one infirmary in whole of the Holy Temple and I never specified which infirmary they were to go to, I continued on my way without hesitation. After all, I only had to follow the trail of blood before me.
Along the way, all priests, holy knights and even the Twelve Holy Knights went white when they caught sight of my expression, before hurriedly turning back and taking a detour.
Upon reaching the infirmary, I closed the door quietly before turning around and shouted furiously at the Sun Division knights inside, "You bloody idiots! What did I always tell you?"
The knights all lowered their heads, keeping quiet.
I continued on my tirade, "Have I not told you before?! If you are going to fight someone make sure they're at least twice as weak as you are. If the opponent's quite strong, and you cannot guarantee a 200 percent chance of defeating them, then endure it and come back to tell me about it first!"
"Captain, it was they who refused to let us leave!" said Ed in a miserable tone as he bandaged his bleeding left hand.
I immediately rebutted him, "Nonsense! How can they stop you from leaving if you really wanted to? And in broad daylight too! If they were really blocking you all from leaving, the patrolling royal knights have an obligation to interfere and stop them."
"B-but, we can't leave! They were insulting your honour, captain! If we were to leave with our tails in between our legs wouldn't that just prove them right?!" shouted Ed.
Everyone started speaking up all at once, complaining, "That's right! They actually dared to say that our captain is a person who depended only on his looks, but whom lacks substance underneath!"
'That just means that I'm very good looking! What's there to be angry about?'
"And they said that holy knights know only how to take a beating and nothing else! That's just too much!"
'This… well it is true in a way… the greatest characteristics of holy knights are their defence and recovery abilities, and these two abilities do increase our ability to take beatings. When you take into account our sturdy physiques, holy knights are definitely number one in taking beatings!'
"And they also said that our captain couldn't care less what happened to us. Even if they were to kill us they said that you wouldn't dare to do anything to them anyway……"
'What?! Bullshit! If they really dared to kill you guys I would make sure that they become paralysed and can never move again! '
The third accusation finally angered me and my face darkened as I continued listening to their complaints as they bandaged themselves up. After a while and seeing that all their wounds had been seen to, I ordered them, "Report yourselves to the holding cells."
When they heard that they were still going to be locked up, they lowered their heads in dismay and were about to walk out the infirmary when there came a knock on the door.
"Who is it?" I called out, frowning. 'Which idiot would dare to interrupt me whilst I am telling off my knights?'
"Captain, it's me, Adair."
"Seeing as you've disobeyed my orders to stay in bed, your injuries must be all healed up already?"
The moment he came in, Adair knelt down and said remorsefully, "Captain, if you are going to lock up the Sun Knight Division, please lock me up with them too, as all this happened because I, the vice-captain, was negligent in disciplining them."
I looked at him, and seeing his fluid motions, I could tell that his wounds were indeed all healed up. I said to him coldly, "Very well! You can all report yourselves to the holding cells."
Adair lowered his head so that I couldn't see his expression. He only said with his usual reply, "Yes, sir."
Book 2: Duty 8 – The Sun Knight’s Eighth Duty: “Get along with your neighbours”I waited till night had fallen before knocking on each of the Twelve Holy Knights' doors, greeting them with the same "I need a favour" when they opened their door.
And so I went, knocking on each of their doors until I reached Judge's door. When he opened his door, just like all the others, I said, "I need a favour."
"What favour?" He asked, and then adopting an innocent manner he said, "Buy blueberry pies? Asking Frost to make strawberry snow cones?"
"Lend me ten of your Judge Division knights," I asked, directly to the point.
Upon hearing my request Judge sighed and asked, "Is this for your mission? Or is it for revenge?"
"It's for the mission……" Upon seeing his disbelieving expression I hastily amended, "But I admit to planning to exact a little revenge along the way."
Judge looked as if he didn't whether to laugh or cry at my answer. "Will you stop before going too far?"
I gave a shrug and said, "Of course. I only wish to strengthen the faith of the believers, not go to war with the Church of War."
Even though I had already assured him so, Judge took another minute to consider my request before reluctantly saying, "I can only lend you five; this is to avoid you from going overboard. You've always spoiled the Sun Knight Division; now that they've been humiliated in front of so many, and were even so heavily injured, I doubt you would be able to control yourself from ruthlessly exacting revenge from the Church of War's warriors."
"Fine, five then," I agreed instantly.
Upon seeing me agree to his condition so readily, Judge started frowning once more. To avoid giving him time to regret his decision I quickly diverted his attention. "How is Elliot's training coming?"
"Pretty good. He has a pretty high learning curve, and now that Cloud has modified a few of the Cloud Flight Steps to suit his style, his skill in avoiding hits has become even better. He should be able to reach your target of 'staying in battle' in two weeks time."
I nodded my head. "That's good to hear. There shouldn't be any problems then."
"May I ask how you plan to strengthen the believers' faith?"
"No!" I refused right away. If I were to let Judge know of my plans, I cannot guarantee that he won't just kill me with a slash of his sword, and thus stop me from harming myself when young, harming the Church of Light now, and possibly harming the world in the future.
"I knew it! You are going to cause trouble… sigh… Alright, I guess its better that you don't tell me. Plausible deniability and all that."
Judge shook his head at me and gave up finding out about my plans to save him the moral dilemma of whether to kill me or not. As he closed his door I could hear him muttering, "I better go to sleep early tonight. I don't want to find out about exactly what my five knights have been forced to do and regret agreeing to your request. But then again, I've always regretted agreeing to your requests…… sigh!"
"Sighing once will shorten one's life by three seconds," I told him.
From behind the door came his voice, "Agreeing to one of your requests will shorten one's life by three years……"
I disagreed with this. "If it really shortens your life by three years you would have died a month after meeting me!"
"I see you're aware of your own behaviours…."
After successfully requesting a few knights from Judge, I glanced at the moon outside the window, determining from its position that it was roughly ten o'clock and just about time. I quickly headed in the direction of the Holy Temple's kitchens. At this late hour there wasn't a single soul in the kitchens, but already prepared on the kitchen table were several baskets of bread and milk.
I carried the baskets and secretly made my way to the holding cells. However, instead of approaching the only door to the holding cell I approached the cells from the 'outer walls'.
I knelt down beside the wall and was about to open the secret door to send in the baskets of food when I heard voices coming from within.
"This time captain is just too much! Locking us up and even forbidding us from being healed. Several of us were pretty heavily injured!"
"And no food too…… Does the captain really not care about us anymore?"
An agitated voice suddenly cut through the rings of complaints. "As a member of the Sun Knight Division, do you all really believe like everyone else that the captain doesn't care about us? Who did you think sent us the food whenever we were locked up previously? Who was it who sent us the blankets? And who was it who secretly opened the secret door to the holding cells and let us out?"
I recognised the voice as the one belonging to Adair. 'You really are my vice-captain who knows me well!'
Another voice hurriedly explained, "Adair, don't get so upset! Of course I know that the captain hasn't stopped caring about us; it's just that, he would often ask us to do some impossible tasks……"
"But he's always given us help with them!" Adair defended adamantly.
"Yes, of course, but sometimes… the captain is-is pretty off his rockers. Like the last time he had asked us to hide our identities and beat up the Earth Knight. He gave us 25 sets of outfits but had forgotten about the weapons. And in the end we were beaten up by the Earth Knight instead……"
Adair's voice did not make an appearance again; looks like even he couldn't say anything in reply to that.
What complete hogwash! How could I have forgotten something as important as beating up Earth?! It was just that after purchasing the 25 sets of clothes, I was caught by the Pope. He had then taken back the rest of the money, leaving me with no money to buy the weapons. I then thought that with 25 against one they should be able to get in at least a hit or two, right?
But no, they never even made it past his shield, and instead came back to me, covered in wounds for me to heal. How annoyed I was then!
I roughly jerked open the secret door and threw in the baskets of food angrily. I could hear the baskets hitting against the walls from the force of my anger.
The holding cell went quiet for some time before Adair opened his mouth and tried to explain to me.
"Captain, everyone's just venting out their frustration. They don't really mean any of it."
I ignored his explanation and merely threw in a number of rose beads, saying, "Only those heavily wounded can use one of the beads, and you're not allowed to completely heal all of your wounds. Everyone must have a wound remaining on them. This is an order!"
In a voice close to crying Ed pleaded, "Captain…… those guys today from the Church of War were just too much. We were just too angry at them and said some nonsense, please don't be angry!"
"We're sorry, captain!"
"Captaaaiiiin, we were wrong!"
Hearing all the cries of 'captain', I started to soften towards them. 'Damn them, they must be aware of this weak point of mine. Every time they do something wrong they would keep calling me 'captain, captain'.'
"Alright, alright! Just shut up already! Those heavily injured quickly heal yourselves, and those less severely injured quickly eat your fill. I have a task for you to do later."
When the calls of captain from behind the wall disappeared, I called out, "Adair."
"Bring everyone to the usual meeting area later. I'll send some people to back you all up; and there're some tools that you'll need waiting there too."
"Captain, will you be going with us?" Ed suddenly asked.
"'This Sun' will not be going."
At around twelve midnight, Adair led the other Sun Division knights out of their holding cells through the secret door. I was watching them from behind a tree and followed behind them as they headed towards the meeting area. Although Adair was no doubt extremely competent, I was still worried that he might not fully understand what it was that I wanted them to do. So, just in case, I decided to follow behind them to make sure that they got it.
"Adair, do you think that that dark shadow behind us was the captain?" asked Ed as he craned his head around to look behind him.
"No, the captain said that he won't be coming," said Adair without even bothering to look behind.
Hearing this reply, Ed said a little embarrassedly, "No wonder the captain likes you so much, Adair."
Just then, Adair jerked to a halt. Following directly behind him, Ed wasn't able to stop in time and had collided painfully with his head.
Ed felt about his nose painfully and quickly cast an elementary level healing spell on him, before turning to complain loudly, "Adair! Why'd you stop so suddenly?"
Adair merely gestured in front of him dazedly, and as one the entire Sun Knight Division leaned around him and saw…… a black-clothed Judge Division knight stepped forward and reported to Adair:
"Ten Storm Division knights, ten Blaze Division knights, ten Leaf Division knights, ten Earth Division knights, ten Frost Division knights, ten Moon Division knights, ten Cloud Division knights, and five Judge Division knights, all present and accounted for. We have orders from the Sun Knight Captain to follow the orders of the Sun Knight Division's vice-captain, Adair."
Ed dazedly pulled on a corner of Adair's shirt and asked softly, "Adair…… do you think the captain wants us to teach those warriors from the Church of War a lesson, or to completely destroy them?"
"Er… I'm not entirely sure," replied Adair, a little perplexed. He then caught sight of the two chests in the middle of the clearing and 'muttered' loudly, "Looks like these are the tools the captain mentioned earlier."
Hiding in the dark, I nodded my head, even though I knew Adair wouldn't be able to see it.
Ed walked up to them and started to curiously take out the items inside the chests. He then exclaimed in surprise, "Aren't these the royal knights' uniforms? And their standard issued weapons too…… and over here are the Church of War's warriors' uniforms? What are all these for?"
The Sun Knight Division all turned to Adair, accustomed to getting their answers from him. The latter puzzled about it for some time before 'muttering' loudly in realisation, "Oh, I see! Looks like we'll be separating into two groups. No wonder so many people are needed!"
Hearing Adair's report, I nodded my head in satisfaction. Looks like he knows what to do now. I have to say it again: I really had excellent judgement when I had chosen Adair as my vice-captain!
~O~O~O~O~The Judge Knight was busy training Elliot, and Elliot was busy being trained by the Judge Knight.
Adair and the Sun Division knights have been busy carrying out the tasks I had given them all night, coming back to the holding cells at the break of dawn and sleeping the day away like the dead. Even if one were to make their way over those 'dead bodies', stepping on them all the way, you wouldn't hear even a peep from them, only the rhythmic ringing sounds of snores reverberating around the cell.
Even Pink and Roland were busy preparing for the request that I had asked from them. This time, I was pretty successful with my request from Pink, for when I mentioned my request to her, her eyes had immediately lit up and she had not mentioned anything about payment. And I had, of course, decidedly not brought up the subject of payment either.
On the other hand when I had made the request, Roland had turned a shocked ashy white…… although there wasn't really much difference, seeing as his face was already an ashy white colour.
I cracked a huge yawn, picked a blueberry biscuit from the plate beside me and stuffed it into my mouth, before continuing to read the book Cloud had lent to me—How To Pick A Suitable Lucky Charm Before Going to Battle.
This feels quite good-everyone busy with their own tasks while I sit here all relaxed and everything.
The door suddenly swished open, letting in the sun's rays and lighting up the entire area. However, this did not pose a problem for me, for I had already been reading from the light emitted from the holy light I had gathered.
"If it weren't for Cloud who had told me, I would never have believed that you were really hiding here…… Isn't hiding in book cupboards more of Cloud's thing? Moreover, are you really depending on that book to prepare you for the upcoming duel?"
I lifted my head and saw the Judge Knight looking in from outside the book cupboard, his lips twitching at the sight of the book in my hands. I raised an eyebrow at him and said mocked indignantly, "Hey, don't underestimate this little book, it really is quite useful! Besides, I can now understand why Cloud likes to hide in these book cupboards. With the glow from the holy light, it is actually a perfect little slice of heaven right in here."
Moreover, it is a perfect little slice of heaven where I won't be bothered! In the past even when I was in the prayers room, people would often come in looking for the Sun Knight; however, no one would think to look for the Sun Knight in a book cupboard!
Judge chose not to comment to that and merely said, "Well, when you're finished with that book and have lost interest in book cupboards, why don't you go pay the Hell Knight Captain a visit?"
"Why? What's wrong with him? Could it be that he can't master the modified Cloud Flight Steps?" I frowned at that. That would be bad, for according to my plan he had to be able to stay in the fight with the Son of War for at least ten minutes, or more.
Judge shook his head and said, "He is coming along pretty well with the training, but he looks like he's upset and depressed about something. After inquiring about it, it seems that he is under a lot of pressure from his colleagues. Because of his secret affair with the Princess and him going against the King in his plans, the other royal knights are looking down at him and giving him the cold shoulder."
I nodded in understanding. "Oh, that! Don't worry, it'll be settled within a few days."
Judge thought about it, then shook his head and said, "Well, I've already informed you of the Hell Knight's situation. Since you don't think it's a cause for concern I won't bother with it then."
Now, this made me curious, for usually Judge would have easily deduced that the Hell Knight's problems would soon become a moot point in a few days. So why would he purposely seek me out to inform me of Hell's situation?
'Could it be……' I suddenly asked him, "Didn't the five Judge Division knights tell you what I had asked them to do?"
"I told them not to tell me," said Judge as he slid the book cupboard door close. "I do not want to know a single thing."
Looks like Judge can tell that this time I've been causing a lot of trouble, thus deciding to avoid finding out about what I've done. But this is good for me, so I don't have to apologise to him for all the troubles I've raised even as he is giving me the fatal blow with his sword!
As I looked down at the book in my hands, I thought about looking into Elliot's situation. I then stuffed the last piece of blueberry biscuit into my mouth and randomly flipped a page.
Keep your beloved's handkerchief in your left breast pocket, and love will protect your heart from any fatal wounds.'Hmmm… this is pretty useless for me, but it would be helpful for Elliot. Perhaps I should tell him about it and remind him to ask for a handkerchief from the Princess to keep in his left breast pocket?
'Besides, I've already finished the blueberry biscuits anyway.'
I wiped my mouth and straightened my clothes before stepping out of the book cupboard.
"How do you do, Cloud Kni—Su-Sun Knight!"
I turned back and saw a few holy knights standing there with a dazed expression. Upon seeing me turn around and confirming that it really was I, the Sun Knight, they all froze in shock as if turned to stone.
"The God of Light shines upon the land, showering it with Her benevolence and love; and even a simple book cupboard is filled with the air of friendship, this Sun couldn't resist going in to revel in Her love……"
After stringing together some bullshit, I quickly left the scene. Looks like I'm not suited to hiding in book cupboards. If I were to hide there several more times the number of frozen statues blocking the hallways could become problematic.
To avoid unnecessary distractions, I put on my cloak and hood and left the Holy Temple in search of Elliot.
Seeing as Elliot's probably just finished with Judge's torturous training session, he should be exhausted and would use the most direct route to return to the royal palace. Hmm… or maybe he would stop en route for a meal. I feel that based on Judge's less familiar relationship with Elliot, he wouldn't prepare any blueberry biscuits for him.
I very quickly found Elliot in a restaurant halfway in between the Holy Temple and the royal palace. His face looked pale and exhausted, a complete 180° from his previously handsome and dashing royal knight image. He looked as if he had aged 20 years; even the waitress had handed him his food brusquely, not even giving him a spare glance.
The poor thing…… no wonder Judge had asked me to have a look at him.
I walked over to him and sat down in a chair beside him, at the same time stealing the piece of beef he had picked and placed it into my mouth.
He looked at his empty chopsticks blankly before turning slowly to look at me, suspicion in his voice as he asked, "May I ask who are you?"
I nudged my hood away slightly whilst smiling at him, allowing him a glimpse of my face.
"Ah! Su-…… it's you," he said in surprise, before falling silent. He looked as if he were worrying about something, for he didn't even move his cutlery, and it was after I had eaten more than half of the beef when he finally asked resignedly, "Should I even remain in the competition?"
'Oh dear! Looks like he's thinking of throwing in the towel…' I hurriedly swallowed the piece of beef in my mouth and asked, "Why would you say that? Don't you love Her Highness?"
"It's not that!" His reaction was rather extreme as he leapt up and declared, "It's impossible for me to not love her, impossible!"
I nodded my head in acceptance. "If that is so, why do you not want to compete in the duel? Are you really willing to give Her Highness up to the Son of War?"
Elliot sat back down in his seat depressed, saying quietly, "I-I do not wish to give her up…… but with my low status I cannot hope to match her."
"Is that what your fellow royal knights are saying?"
"And His Majesty the King, and my teachers too. They're all furious with me," he said, rather disheartened.
I picked another piece of meat and chewed it carefully before swallowing and said, "How about this? You can continue with Judge's training while you think about it for another two days, alright? And if you haven't changed your mind by then, you can give up then."
This time, Elliot nodded quickly, and then said a little more enthusiastically, "Actually, I wouldn't mind continuing the training sessions with the Judge Knight. The Judge Knight is really skilled with the sword! I've only received a week's worth of training and I can already see the marked improvement in my skills. How unbelievable."
"But of course. Judge had already become near invincible at the age of thirteen. I think that other than Roland, no one else would be able to match him in terms of sword skills."
"And which holy knight is Roland?" asked Elliot, his eyes gleaming at the thought of another strong opponent.
"Er… he isn't a holy knight," I said hesitatingly.
"Oh? Then is he just an ordinary knight? Or a royal knight?" Elliot asked relentlessly. 'Looks like he's really persistent in meeting this Roland who is capable of going toe to toe with the Judge Knight.'
Now it was my turn to be curious. They were both royal knights, so shouldn't he have known, or at the very least, heard of Roland?
"He's a royal knight, but he's dead now. Have you really never heard of Roland?" I asked.
"Ah…… Is it Captain Roland?"
Elliot said in realisation, "I'd seen him a few times, but it was only in passing. I never really got to know him as he's a little distant and doesn't socialise with others easily. And as he rarely gets into fights I never had an opportunity to judge how strong his skills were; but I never thought he was that strong!"
He then said a little upset, "If I had known earlier I would have made an effort to get to know him better. Perhaps I would even have been able to advise him against going head to head with the previous King, and maybe he wouldn't have been killed then."
"You knew that Roland was killed by the King?" I asked a little surprised. Wasn't the whole incident sealed by the Crown Prince?
Elliot nodded and said softly, "Most of the royal knights are aware of it, but as with respect to the Crown Prince's wishes, we do not mention it."
I nodded in understanding. After all, there were close to fifty royal knights at the scene when Roland had came looking for the King for revenge. It would have been impossible to stop everyone from speaking of the incident. And the Crown Prince probably didn't really try all that hard from stopping them. After all, his father's reputation was already so poor; what is torturing a royal knight to death in comparison with all his other horrible activities?
Seeing Elliot's dejected figure, I was about to tell him of 'someone else' that I knew who was equally as strong, and offer to introduce him to 'him', when I saw a large group of people approaching from behind him. I quickly grabbed the plate of meat and switched to another table, pretending not to know Elliot.
"Captain Sun Knight……" Elliot could not understand the reason for my actions.
"Elliot! There you are!"
Elliot was surprised and turned around, only to see a large group of royal knights bearing down on him like a herd of stampeding buffalos. He immediately paled at the sight while mumbling, "They can't be here to beat me up, can they?" glancing at me with a pleading look from the corner of his eyes.
The first knight to reach him immediately clapped his hand on Elliot's shoulder while growling out, "Elliot, you better win!"
"That's right! Marry the Princess!"
"Don't you dare lose to that Son of War!"
The crowd of royal knights were shouting all at once, but it was all mainly about how the Church of War could go drown themselves, and that Elliot was to make sure he won the competition. Elliot was bewildered by all the commotion, and when he lifted his head and saw the older of the King's trusted knights standing in the doorway, he called out a little confusedly, "Teacher…… what is going on?'
But contrary to his mature years, the old knight was as hot-tempered as a young man. He ran over to Elliot, grabbed him by the collar and growled, "Boy! If you don't marry the Princess I will never see you again, you understand?"
"Teacher?" Elliot stared at the elderly knight with wide eyes as he stammered, "Wh-what is going on?"
A royal knight standing beside him said irately, "Those damn Church of War warriors actually came and sneaked an attack on us last night!"
"They were also yelling about how we only knew how to fight in groups, and that we were cheating to ride horses, insisting that we get off our horses and fight with them one-on-one."
The group of royal knights were further incensed by this as they began clamouring, "We are knights! Knights! Knights have always specialised in horse riding and fighting in groups. Who would want to fight with those who specialise with one-on-one battles?! We haven't gone completely mental!"
"This won't do," frowned the elderly knight, Elliot's half teacher. He said frankly, "Your skills are way below his. You don't have a hope of winning against the Son of War at your current skill level. And it is even more impossible for that Sun Knight who can't even hold his sword properly to defeat him…… Let's go, let's go! I'm going to give you some special training!"
'Hmph! If you want to give your own student extra training that's fine by me! But why do you have to drag me into it?!' I rolled my eyes at the elderly knight.
"Wait a minute, I've just……" Elliot was going to say that he had just finished a gruelling training session with the Judge Knight, but halfway through he realised that he couldn't reveal that to them and so had to keep quiet.
With no reason to refuse him, Elliot had no other option but to let himself be dragged off to another training session, throwing me puzzled look after puzzled look all along the way.
Just then, one of the royal knights growled out, "It's the Church of War!"
The Son of War was indeed leading a group of angry warriors in their direction, his eyes glaring at the group of royal knights as a whole instead of focusing only on Elliot; his target quite obviously the entire group of royal knights.
The Son of War reached the group of royal knights and immediately launched into a tirade, "What do you royal knights mean, trying to pick a fight with us in a group and on horses?! We are warriors! Who wants to fight against a mounted group, it's not like we're completely stupid!"
Hearing this, the already dark expressions on the royal knights' faces grew steadily worse as they all clamoured up. "It is your request to fight one-on-one that is unreasonable! We are knights! We refuse to fight with you one-on-one!"
Upon hearing this reply, the Son of War started to laugh in fury, saying "Alright. Alright. Alright! I'll fight against all of you singlehandedly; you can all fight against me riding horses or donkeys; a few together or even all at once! I don't give a damn!"
The royal knights were furious at his condescending tone, when at that moment the elderly knight pushed his way through them and walked up to face the Son of War. He said to him coldly, "Interesting! Very well, you can have the experience of fighting against a mounted opponent, but it will only be me against you."
It was only then that the Son of War noticed the older knight, and upon recognising him he started frowning.
I said seemingly to myself in a low voice, "That is one of the King's most trusted knights. Even if it were you, you shouldn't want to go against him for now! After all, the King has only two knights whom he trusts the most, and of the two he is the senior knight; the King would probably listen to his advice more often than the other."
The Son of War looked extremely frustrated, wishing to vent out his anger and frustrations, yet not quite daring to go against the elderly knight standing before him. In the end he growled out, "We're leaving."
The King's trusted knight, too, did not seem to really wish to go against the Son of War, for he merely turned around with a dark look on his face and clapped Elliot's shoulder heavily while warning him, "Boy, you better battle it out with him properly. If you lose, you'll be in for it!"
"That's right! If you lose you'll be in for it!" shouted the rest of the royal knights.
Elliot immediately turned even whiter than Roland and desperately tried to signal SOS at me with his eyes.
I really pitied him, for truthfully, his chances of defeating the Son of War were only a tiny bit higher than my chances of defeating the Son of War.
However, no matter how much I may pity him, I still avoided his gaze and lowered my head, swallowing the last piece of meat and wiping my mouth delicately with a napkin.
The Church of War and the royal knights are now in a feud with each other, and even if he wanted to quit the royal knights would never allow him to do so…… 'Hmmm, looks like I can tell Adair to stop their midnight missions.'
I stood up and headed back to the Holy Temple in a good mood, planning to get Frost to bake me another batch of biscuits and maybe ask Cloud to give me a book cupboard where no one would pass by, as well as lend me another book that I can read myself to sleep……
Book 2: Duty 9 – The Sun Knight’s Ninth Duty: “Spread the true teachings of the God of Light”The day for the three person battle finally arrived. Early in the morning of the momentous day, the Holy Temple had cleared out. Everyone had left early for the duelling arena to get good seats, clearly anticipating the upcoming fight.
"Honestly. Even the knights on patrol duty have completely disappeared. They should be on alert in the case of any emergencies. Even though we are in an age of peace right now, there are our rivals from the Church of War on our territory right now. Geez… The whole Holy Temple is as quiet as a grave! This is just too ridiculous!"
"If that is so then you guys can stay here and guard the place," I told them as I released the Sun Knight Division from their holding cells.
They looked extremely reluctant and unenthusiastic.
"What…… Why did it turn out like this?... And I had hoped to watch the fight after being released, captaaaiiinnnn!"
24 men dressed in the uniforms of holy knights looked at me with huge puppy eyes, each calling me captain and stretching out the word 'captain'. As I looked on at this scene I couldn't help feeling……
"How nauseating! Scram!"
I roared at them, annoyed. When I turned around however, I saw my vice-captain Adair standing in front of me, his shoulders slumped dejectedly.
He gave me a bitter smile and said sincerely, "Captain, I will fulfil my duty as your vice-captain and make sure the Sun Knight Division guards the Holy Temple well in your absence. Even though I cannot help but feel disappointed that I would miss such an opportunity to see you as you valiantly battle and rise victoriously over the other two competitors, this Adair will definitely obey your every order, I just feel so disappointed…… sigh!"
"If you feel that disappointed then come over to the competition after you've arranged their guard shifts."
"Yes, sir!" Adair seemed to have instantly revived.
After dismissing Adair, I turned to gauge the position of the sun. I still had yet to pick up someone else; if I don't hurry now I might be late.
Even though arriving late to some occasion has never fazed me before, when the people forced to await my arrival include the King of a country, a Princess, my own church's Pope and several other VIPs, then it might be a little bad.
As I walked away, I could hear some shouts and scuffles erupting from behind me.
When I reached the door leading out of the Holy Temple and looked around, I immediately found the person I was looking for. He was standing quietly in a corner. I gave him a nod of acknowledgement before continuing on to the battle arena, secure in the knowledge that he would follow after me.
~O~O~O~O~As I made my way into the arena, the royal knights standing guard gave me a nod in acknowledgement, but when they looked back up again they immediately stopped the person following behind me.
Their apprehension drew the crowd's attention, and soon everyone had turned to look at the entrance as well as the strangely dressed person standing there.
The man was wearing a skin-tight black outfit, his lower face, chest, lower legs and various other vulnerable areas were covered with silver armour in the curious pattern of scales. Although his outfit was obviously that of an assassin's, he had a long sword hanging from his waist instead of the usual assassins' favourite short sword or dagger.
I raised my voice and stopped the guards, saying "He is not a suspicious person; he is from the Holy Temple. Please allow him to enter."
Everyone looked curious at this, but the reactions of the Twelve Holy Knights were even greater. A few of them kept looking between the man and me, shooting us looks of suspicion.
I smiled at the crowd and introduced, "This is the Hell Knight Captain, recently returned from completing a secret mission and finally back with us where he belongs."
The Blaze Knight was the first to exclaim, "What?! He's not Sun—No, I mean Slayer?"
I nodded my head and said, "Oh! That's right, the Hell Knight Captain's full name is Slayer Hell. You weren't wrong when you called him Slayer. However Blaze Knight Captain, when in front of others you should still address him as Hell Knight Captain, so as not to lead others to misunderstand his position."
Blaze stared at us with his mouth gaped open, seemingly at a loss for words. He wasn't the only one surprised, for the other Twelve Holy Knights had expressions of shock, doubt and even disbelief on their faces.
As the crowd broke into conversations about the surprising information, I took a look around the whole area. The audience were clearly divided into three groups; the royal knights' region, the Church of War's warriors' region and the holy knights' region.
The royal knights surrounded the King's box and the Church of War's people were seated opposite them, with the holy knights sitting on both sides and in between the other two parties, providing some sort of neutral ground. After all, with the royal knights and the Church of War's warriors all glaring at each other so fiercely, one can't help wondering if it was actually a battle between two groups and not a fight between three men that was about to commence.
The Son of War was standing near the duelling stage; the seats directly behind him filled with his Church's warriors, all rooting for him.
The other competitor representing the royal knights, Elliot, was sitting opposite the Son of War, the duelling stage rising between them. However at the moment he was staring at the so called 'Slayer Hell', his face and expression all stiff.
Her Highness the Princess was not seated by her brother, the King, and had instead chosen to seat herself behind Elliot, in a box specially prepared by her to show her support for her beloved, utterly ignoring the other two competitors for her hand in marriage. The Son of War's displeasure at this blatant favouritism was shown clearly on his face as he scowled at them, but I merely maintained the calm and serene smile on my face.
The Princess was casting suspicious looks at Slayer Hell, when she turned to give me a warning look, cautioning me not to play any tricks.
Back then, I had not told the Princess much about my plans, only filing her in till up to the three-person fight. I had promised her that I would help her beloved to achieve victory, but neglected to mention anything else. Actually, I couldn't tell her about them or else I would have definitely found myself tied to a burning stake.
Just then, the King slowly spoke up. "From the way you spoke, it would seem that the Twelve Holy Knights do not recognise their own comrade."
I swept an elegant bow to the King before explaining, "Yes, Your Majesty. Other than this Sun, the others do not know this comrade."
"Oh? This sounds interesting." The King's curiosity was piqued.
I nodded and explained, "Of the Twelve Holy Knights, the position the Hell Knight holds is a unique one. With the changing of different eras, so too will the Hell Knight's duties change. However, he is usually in charge of the more secret and low-profile missions. For example, during periods of unrest and war, the Hell Knight of that period would be in charge of gathering enemy intel."
"So from what you're saying, the Hell Knight's existence is actually that of a spy or an assassin, is that right?"
One of the King's trusted knights, the younger one, gave an incredulous and mocking laugh as he said, "So there are actually knights among the Twelve Holy Knights who do these sneaky underhanded things?"
Elliot standing to the side had lowered his head.
"It is not like that," I denied with a rare severe expression.
After pausing a moment, I continued on, "With the God of Light's guidance, all holy knights have pledged themselves to upholding true justice, and not the justice of the ignorant and uneducated. However, during times of war, having a good grasp on the enemy's movements and plans is vital. Not only does having accurate intel on the enemy help to reduce the sacrifices of our fellow holy knight brothers, we can also attempt to bring the war to an end as quickly as possible so as to spare the God of Light's people from unnecessary suffering. However, enemy intelligence will not come to us freely, much less can we hope to get correct and accurate from questioning. To get this precious intelligence, someone has to sacrifice their freedom of standing in the light and enter the darkness. They do so not only to lessen the God of Light's people's suffering and to protect their own holy knight brothers, but also to carry out the true meaning of the God of Light's justice."
I discreetly snuck a look at Elliot. His tight expression had loosened up and he looked a little cheered up. I said softly, "Please believe me that no matter that a holy knight may have their backs turned from the light and face into the darkness, they still walk under the light and not within the dark."
After I had finished my explanations, everyone looked to be in deep thoughts as they thought about what I had just said. The Princess had even thrown me a small smile; probably 'cause this speech of mine had cheered up her lover.
However, my words were not only applicable to the Hell Knight, but also in line with all members of the Cold Blood Faction, and especially their leader, the Judge Knight.
The King nodded lightly and said, "Sun Knight, you have just deepened my understanding about the holy knights."
"It is this Sun's honour to be able to enlighten Your Majesty, and it is also by the will of the God of Light."
"Captain Sun Knight, are you done talking?" The Son of War was trying to maintain his poise, but his irritation could be heard in his voice as he said, "If you're done then let's start the duel!"
"My most humble apologies for making you wait. Now, let the God of Light with Her radiance bear witness to our friendly duel today."
As I said that I moved forward to step upon the stage…… however, a black and silver figure suddenly stopped in front of me, blocking my way.
I stopped in surprise and asked him questioningly, "Brother Hell, is something wrong?"
The Hell Knight said simply, "Fighting is not something the Sun Knight should do; please allow me, your substitute, to fight in your place."
Upon hearing this I let out a soft, "Ah…" However, the King was quick on the uptake as he questioned, "Substitute?"
"Hmm. Well, this…" I looked at the King a little troubled as I started to speak, but breaking off, clearly reluctant to answer the King.
The King gave the younger of his trusted knights a look, and the later immediately said loudly with dissatisfaction, "What's this? Could it be that the upright and straightforward Sun Knight hides a terrible secret that he cannot speak off?"
I purposely turned back to look at the Judge Knight, for he was the only person capable of collaborating with me even without knowing what was going on.
So, while he might not have the slightest idea of what I intended, he was able to co-operate beautifully as he said in a slightly angry tone, "If you insist on speaking then know that you will have to bear the consequences."
I hesitated before giving a sigh and started explaining to the King. "It is like this, Your Majesty. The first Hell Knight was suspected to be actually the Sun Knight in disguise, and not a real person. However no matter whether the first Hell Knight was real or not, the following Hell Knights definitely exist, but at the same time they have been entrusted with bearing the Sun Knight's secret identity, as their substitute."
After explaining it to the King, I turned to the Hell Knight and tried to persuade him from his decision. "Captain Hell Knight, please step aside, this is a duel that I have to fight myself."
Hell growled angrily, "If you will not allow me, your substitute, to go in your place and instead insist on fighting this duel yourself then you would have destroyed the meaning for my existence. You will have to kill me and walk over my dead body if you wish to go up that stage."
I could not say anything to that. On the other hand, there was a commotion amongst the crowd, for it was rare to hear a typically composed and self disciplined holy knight say something so out of control.
"Captain Hell Knight, I cannot allow you to substitute me," I sighed as I said exasperatedly, "If you were to win this fight, how can it be considered my victory?"
"Then please walk over my dead body as you step up to the stage," the Hell Knight replied coldly.
"That's impossible…… please step aside, Captain Hell Knight," I said, getting a little angry.
"No!" With just that one word, one could hear his determination and defiance.
We were now at a stalemate with neither willing to give an inch. The Hell Knight stared at me steadily…… or should I say, he worked hard to maintain his steady gaze, however I was confident that this shouldn't prove too hard for him as he's always been an extremely steady person.
"Why don't you let the Hell Knight Captain take your place?"
The tense impasse was surprisingly broken by the Princess.
She said in a soft and gentle voice, "If it is someone who would lay down their life for you, it should make no difference as to whether you are fighting the duel personally or not, Captain Sun Knight."
I shook my head and sighed, "But Princess, the other two contestants might not agree to this arrangement."
Elliot gave it some thought before answering, "If the Princess has no objection to this arrangement, then I accept it too."
The Son of War, on the other hand, did not reply, frowning heavily at the idea. I could understand his reluctance to agreeing, for although he had no idea how strong the Hell Knight was, anyone would have been stronger than me.
Quickly adding fuel to the fire, I said, "It would be perfectly normal for the Son of War to refuse this arrangement. After all, it would be unfair to him if the Captain Hell Knight were to win the duel."
Upon hearing this, the Son of War's expression darkened as he gave a snort and said, "Who said I refused? It wouldn't matter who fights me, for victory shall be mine."
The King nodded at that.
Seeing as all those entitled to refusing the arrangement had agreed, the matter was settled and the three men fighting for the Princess' hand in marriage stepped up onto the stage as they prepared for the fight.
As one of the contestants for the Princess' hand in marriage, I instead walked over to the group of Twelve Holy Knights and took my place beside the Judge Knight.
The corner of the Judge Knight's lips twitched upward as he said softly, "You had no intention of even stepping onto that stage, did you?"
"Of course. I have no interest in getting the shit beaten out of me in front of everyone," I replied matter-of-factly. I then gave him a glance and asked questioningly, "Judge, with your deductive abilities, you should have known that from the moment you saw me reading Cloud's book on whatever lucky charms. Or did you actually think that I am someone who would depend on lucky charms to help me in my plans? Unless I have 200 percent certainty, or at the very least 100 percent certainty, I would never make a move so 'boldly'."
"Ah… yes. Silly me."
Judge shook his head and said a little vexed, "Forget seeing you with the book, I should have known from the moment you agreed to the duel that you would never allow yourself to step onto the stage and fight them."
I rolled my eyes at him in annoyance. 'What does he mean by that?! I have fought and dealt with the undead before…… some of the undead creatures Pink sends me are strong, you know!'
Just then, a servant walked up to me and said respectfully, "Sun Knight, the King is asking for your presence."
I nodded at him and followed him, fearlessly giving the King a smile. Even if he's realised that I had manipulated events leading to this, he can't actually do anything to me here and now in front of so many, now can he?
The King waved away the two trusted knights standing beside him, and they quickly put some distance between us to give us some privacy.
The King then gestured me to come closer. I walked up the steps to stand by his side, bending down to hear him. "If it weren't for the fact that my sister actually likes Elliot, I would never have let you mess with everything."
"Although this Sun does not know to which Your Majesty is referring to, this Sun is deeply impressed by your great love for your sibling," I said with heartfelt sincerity.
Indeed, if the King had stubbornly insisted on marrying his sister to the Son of War, he could have come up with at least ten different ways of stopping my plans, and then continue on with his original plans to marry off his sister to the Church of War. But he had done neither of those things and had instead turned a blind eye to my interventions, allowing things to unfold as they had.
"Hmph! If you had come up with such an elaborate plan and yet still can't let my sister marry her one true love, leaving behind a mess of things, you had better watch out!"
As an older brother worried for his sister's happiness, the King warned me and gave me a hard glare before turning to watch the fight with a frown.
The King's frown was not without reason, for even after receiving special training from Judge, Elliot's chances of winning against the Son of War were still nearly as low as mine.
I knew this, Judge knew this, the entire Church of War knew this, the royal knights knew this, and even the King knew this.
But what they did not know was that there are many different definitions of winning, especially when it comes to fighting for a woman's affections.
~O~O~O~O~When I left the King's side and returned to the Twelve Holy Knights, the three men on the stage had already started fighting. The first to attack was the Son of War. Warriors have always placed emphasis on making the first move, while knights prefer to take a defensive stance rather than the offensive, and as such they are rarely the first to attack.
"Excellent swordsmanship!" The Judge Knight murmured, his eagerness for a strong sparring partner gleaming in his eyes.
This was not, of course, in praise of Elliot, for while Elliot's skills were not bad they were nothing for Judge to exclaim about. He was referring to Rol—the Hell Knight on the stage whom was battling it out with the Son of War.
Right from the beginning of the duel the Son of War clearly knew who his real opponent was, for even though on the surface it appeared to be a three-person duel, it was actually mainly a fight between the Son of War and the Hell Knight.
The Son of War had thought of eliminating Elliot first before turning to focus his attention on the Hell Knight, but the former's footwork was too strange, and his swordsmanship was not bad either. He could not defeat Elliot quickly, much less with a Hell Knight watching his every movement for an opening.
Even the Son of War would find himself losing should he not pay attention to the Hell Knight in a fight.
All the above are as explained by our expert, the Judge Knight.
To be honest, I could only make out the flashes from the weapons and the shadows of three people as they parry and evade blows and hits, as well as a bunch of clanging sounds from the clashes of their weapons…… Thank God I hadn't stepped up to the fight, or else just the sounds from all the clashing weapons would have pained me greatly.
"If you were on that stage you wouldn't be hearing the clanging sounds as you would have lost in an instant." That was what Judge had said to me upon hearing my comment.
"However don't be disheartened, your speciality is in dealing with the undead. If it was a competition in dealing with undead creatures you are stronger than all three of them." He then consoled me.
"But if it were dealing with living creatures, you're not even one tenth of Elliot's strength and skill." After consoling me he stabbed me with another even more depressing truth.
Now in a rather bad mood, I asked defiantly, "And between you and Hell Knight, who would be stronger?"
Judge merely gave me a glance and said slowly, "Hard to say. You know what I mean."
I immediately shut up as I remembered that Slayer Hell was not limited to fighting with a sword. In fact, fighting with a sword was actually his least threatening ability.
But then again, if he really wished to go all out against 'Slayer Hell', then the Judge Knight as a holy knight was not limited to fighting with his sword either.
Although it's hard to say for sure who would win in a fight between the both of them, one thing is for sure. Judge is already aware of Slayer Hell's true identity.
Even though I had had no intention of hiding it from Judge, his amazing powers of observation are really scary. If I had to really hide something from him one day, I doubt I would have an easy time of it.
"How did you find out who he is?" I couldn't help asking in a low voice.
"Such skilled swordsmanship is easy to recognise."
'Oh I see. Skilled swordsmen are so annoying!'
"Your expression is saying that all skilled swordsmen should go to hell." Judge glanced at me from a corner of his eye.
"If you continue guessing everything right I'm going to start believing that you are not really the Judge Knight but a mind reading alien."
Judge looked away from me, but his lips were curling into a minute smile. I reluctantly asked him, "What's happening now?"
"The Son of War is definitely worthy of his position as head of the warriors. His skill is not something to be underestimated. If Slayer Hell does not use his other abilities other than his sword he would surely lose."
"Even under the combined attacks of Elliot and Slayer Hell the Son of War is still going to win?" I clarified.
"As can be expected from the Son of War, he surely is strong!" I sighed in admiration.
"Your expression is saying that thank goodness I never thought to step up to the fight."
"Shut up, alien!"
Judge's eyes were filled with laughter.
Thank goodness everyone was focussing on the fight and no one was paying attention to him, or else the sight of the ever cruel and stern Judge Knight smiling would have given a whole bunch of people the shock of their lives.
Sensing that it was about time, I warned Judge in a low voice, "No matter what happens, don't make any moves."
Judge nodded and said decisively, "Then I think I should leave first, or else others might get suspicious of my lack of action."
I nodded at that. 'As expected of Judge, he always thinks of everything.'
"And this way I can avoid finding out just what exactly you've done."
…… yeah, it's for the best. I wouldn't want to find out from him first hand that I've reached the end of his endurance and be beaten up by him for my actions.
After watching Judge walk out the arena, I turned to look back at the stage. The clanging sounds had not stopped for even a second, and the Frenzy from the three contestants were so strong that the force from them were strong enough to blow my hair into disarray. There were several large cracks in the duelling stage, and the small pieces of rocks were being blown about by the frenzy.
The eyes of the audience-regardless of them being knights or warriors- were all glued to the fight as if fearing of missing a single moment of it. From time to time, they would exclaim with cheers or shouts of amazement.
It was time, I thought. If this continues on Elliot might be pushed past his limit and lose, and everything would have been for naught. Also, most importantly, I have no idea how I was going to resolve everything should that happen.
If Elliot were to lose the fight, I still can't allow the Son of War marry the Princess, so would that mean I have to marry her? I'd probably have to wear my armour to sleep on my wedding night to spare my wife from attaining the reputation of killing her husband.
I reached into my pocket and broke a heart-shaped piece of glass.
Book 2: Duty 10 – The Sun Knight’s Tenth Duty: “Secure the faiths of the believers”Just then up on the stage, the Hell Knight suddenly gave Elliot a kick. Not expecting his ally's sudden attack, he wasn't able to avoid the kick and was sent flying before finally coming to a stop at the very edge of the duelling stage, narrowly escaping from falling off.
'What a fright! I really thought he was about to fall off there!'
Because he had suffered the full brunt of the heavy kick, Elliot was unable to get to his feet right away, but he still struggled painfully to stand up.
The Son of War was about to step up and finish him off once and for all, but he was blocked by Slayer Hell.
"Why are you defending him?" The Son of War had a look of suspicion in his eyes, before suddenly shouting out, "could it be that the two of you are on the same side?!"
"On the same side?"
Slayer Hell gave a light chuckle and said unhurriedly, "Can there be such thing? There is only one Princess; she cannot marry two men. It's just that if I allow you to finish him off, then it'll just be a matter of time before I am defeated too. "
Hearing that, the Son of War gave a smug smile as he said arrogantly, "Even with him here you still won't be able to defeat me."
"That's true." Slayer Hell nodded frankly, and then adding, "Your swordsmanship is very good-perhaps even better than mine-and your strength is far greater than mine."
The Son of War gave a laugh at that. "You're not bad either; you are extremely fast!"
'Hey, hey! You guys don't have to be so buddy-buddy with each other, okay!' I thought, not knowing if I should laugh or cry at this scene in front of me. Although, it wouldn't be a bad thing if Slayer Hell can actually become friends with the Son of War.
"Let us settle this fairly then!" Slayer Hell said as he shifted into a fighting position.
The Son of War gave a hearty cry, "Agreed!" and swung into position too. The both of them looked to be in a pretty good mood.
At that point in time, Elliot had finally managed to stand up. He looked on at the fighting men a little discouraged though, as he could not find a way to break into the fight between the others two.
However, I kinda disagreed with his thinking. He should realise that one of his opponent is the Son of War, while the other is…… well, suffice it to say both his opponents are extremely strong! Even if he were to lose to them it is nothing to be ashamed of.
At the same time, I'm confident that after having seen the immense skill and level of those two, Elliot's comrades would not think it shameful to lose to them either. In fact, for Elliot to have even stayed in the fight for so long with those two is a credit to his own strength and skill.
And besides, Elliot is a knight; fighting in single battles has never been his strong point.
In other words, if Elliot, the Son of War and Slayer Hell were to each lead a small team and fight in a three party battle, the other two would definitely have lost to Elliot.
It is precisely this image that I was going for. That when fighting one-on-one, Elliot can last at least ten minutes or more against them; but when it comes to leading an army in battle, Elliot is definitely superior to the other two.
This way to the audience-and especially to the royal knights-Elliot hasn't really lost.
Just then, Elliot took a deep breath and prepared to jump back into the fight……
I suddenly shouted, "Elliot! The Princess is in danger! Protect her!"
Elliot was stunned for only a second before he instantly rushed in the Princess' direction. As he reached her he turned back to look……
A black flash of light lodged itself in his chest and he instantly slumped to the ground. Both his hands were clenched at his chest, his face was filled with agony. A horribly-smelling black mist seemed to be crawling out from his whole body.
I had rushed to his side by then and as I looked down to examine him, I exclaimed, "This is—it's the Black Curse!"
Not fearing the cursed black mist covering Elliot's entire body, the Princess threw herself on him while screaming, "Elliot!"
I sternly looked up at some point in the audience, and everyone turned to follow my gaze.
A cloaked figure standing above the stands of the crowd suddenly drew back their hood…… revealing—one of the extremely rare ghoul witch!
I had to work hard to suppress the urge to cheer Pink.
She was hauntingly beautiful in her desolate sorrow; a beautiful face, an hourglass figure and pale skin tinted with a hint of green. Her clothes were ragged and falling apart, her attire revealing in all the right places, showing her beautiful long legs, her cleavage and her flat belly, yet not distastefully so that it was PG 18. All in all, she was beautiful and enchanting and scary, all at the same time.
Although she didn't appear to be a living person, she is technically not a dead person. To be more precise, ghoul witches are actually one of the types of the cursed living. While I might say 'cursed' living, most of them are actually women who had cursed themselves with the intention of becoming a ghoul witch so that they will gain power to get revenge and various other similar reasons.
I had purposely instructed Pink not to use the undead, for with a whole arena filled with knights it would have been too easy for the undead to be discovered.
But I never thought Pink would be able to find a ghoul witch; these things are not easy to find, ya know?
Just then, the ghoul witch leapt down into the arena and started treading slowly in the direction of the King.
Because ghoul witches are technically still women-and a sorrowful one at that, as they had usually experienced an extremely miserable and painful fate- and in addition this ghoul witch was such a beauty, so even though the whole arena was filled with knights, no one really stepped forward to stop her.
The ghoul witch started laughing in a sharp high-pitched voice, saying, "I want revenge! Revenge! Revenge!"
The King's younger trusted knight shouted angrily, "Nonsense! How can Her Highness have had dealings with an evil foul creature like you!"
"Hahaha! Not the Princess, but the King! He threw me away after playing with my affections, and even killed my unborn child! Oh my poor child, I was unable to protect you! My poor, poor baby!" cried the ghoul witch, laughing one moment and crying the next; she seemed to have gone completely mad.
Instantly, the King's eyes bulged wide open. Seated beside him, the quiet, ever-smiling and elegant Queen's face suddenly darkened. Everyone had turned to look at the King in shocked disbelief.
Had the King turned into a completely different person the moment he had ascended the throne?
The King's expression was extremely poor, and there was a tick in his jaw as he forced out through clenched teeth, "What nonsense! I've never seen you before!"
From what I managed to see from a sneaked peek, the reason for the King's extremely poor expression was entirely due to the Queen's four inch spiked heels currently nailing his foot to the floor.
"Not you, your father!" the ghoul witch shrieked.
Everyone let a breath of relief, and the Queen's elegant and regal smile returned as she 'pulled' out her heels from the King's feet and tucked them back under her long skirts.
Everyone started complaining:
"What a fright, speak clearly next time!"
"And here I thought that the moment he had become the King he had changed from a whipped husband to a perverted sex fiend!"
I watched as the King tried to keep his pain from showing as he gingerly moved about his foot, before he was able to shout at the ghoul witch angrily, "Even if that is so, you shouldn't simply slander and harm the innocent (my poor innocent foot!) Royal knights, arrest her!"
Upon receiving the King's orders, the royal knights as one drew their swords and advanced on the ghoul witch with military-perfect order.
The holy knights, on the other hand, all turned to look at their respective captains, who in turn turned to look at me questioningly. I gave a frown and said, "She must be from the same group of undead creatures who had tried to cause trouble in the city the last time. How abominable! We cannot allow her to continue harming the innocent as she pleases. Holy knight brothers, assist the royal knights where necessary."
"Yes, sir!" The holy knights replied in unison and immediately formed into neat formations to surround and capture. The effect from years of fighting along side by side with their neighbours-the royal knights- could be seen as both parties worked together beautifully to subdue the ghoul witch. Their formation was perfect and nigh impenetrable; even if it was a Death Lord it would have surely died a second time, much less one measly ghoul witch.
The ghoul witch continued to attack the surrounding knights closing in on her, but any ordinary attacks were blocked by the knights' shields, and when the shields cannot block her magic curses there were still the holy knights with their holy light shielding them. As such she was unable to really harm anyone.
Through the wall of shields, the royal knights extended their pikes as they advanced slowly step by step on the desperately struggling ghoul witch.
The ghoul witch was not bad earlier with her curse when she had hurt Elliot, as knights aren't able to block from a curse attack. However, when it comes to a direct fight she was ineffective and she could only watch as the pikes steadily grew nearer until they finally pierced her, while her attacks had no effect on the knights.
I turned to look away, not wishing to watch this scene. Even though it was only a ghoul witch-and most probably a fake created by Pink at that- I still did not wish to see any innocent person killed just for the sake of my plans.
The Princess suddenly screamed. "Elliot, he- he's not going to make it!"
'How can that be?......' I had specifically told Pink to pick the most visually frightening but also the most harmless curse.
But then again, it would be just like her to purposely switch the harmless curse for another more destructive one. So, I hurriedly made my way to their side and took out the rose bead bracelet meant to be the betrothal gift, saying "Princess, please break the beads to slow down his death and give the Pope enough time to complete the incantation for the Absolute Healing spell."
(It was only after he heard me that that old geezer finally begins to slowly recite the incantation.)
But before I could finish my sentence, the Princess had already snatched up the rose bracelet and start breaking the beads one after another as if they were just some worthless rock found on the ground. My heart ached at seeing her break them one after another like there was no tomorrow!
"Sister, my sister, slow down, I say! Breaking so many so quickly won't increase the effect at all!" The King's expression looked even more pained than mine. Looks like he's already thought of the bracelet as his.
Although, I did have the intention of giving this bracelet to the King as an apology for everything, and hopefully appease him from making more trouble for me in the future…… 'Huh? Now that I think about it, what's there to be pained about? It's not like the bracelet's mine anyway.'
By then, the fight with the ghoul witch had already ended.
The Son of War who had been standing aside and watching as events progressed suddenly spoke up coldly. "What difference does it make if he dies anyway? Isn't the Sun Knight skilled in the resurrection arts?"
Instantly, I became the centre of attention, and the Princess even looked at me hopefully as she asked, "Really? Is this true?!"
I nodded carefully as I admitted, "This Sun does know the resurrection arts."
Hearing that, the crowd immediately exploded into an uproar.
"However, only when it is truly necessary and only with the person's agreement, will this Sun use this power!" I suddenly shouted sternly.
"Wh-what? Why?!" The Princess immediately cried out. After all, it is her lover who is on the threshold of death.
"There are too many limitations on the resurrection arts, and it can only be performed on someone who has died within eight hours. If I were to cast it on a corpse that's been dead for more than eight hours, the corpse will become an undead! Furthermore, the resurrection arts cannot be used on those who've died naturally of old age, from illness, or from poison."
I gave a pause here before continuing, "In addition, the resurrection comes with many side effects to the person. The side effects known so far include horns growing from their heads, fur covering their entire body, growing an extra pair of arms, and some even going crazy or becoming disabled in some way."
I listed out all the limitations and drawbacks in one go, thus announcing the resurrection arts' various failings to the world. While at it I might have exaggerated a little to dissuade people from insisting that I perform the spell. That would have been troublesome.
After hearing about all the drawbacks, the whole arena went silent. Especially the Princess; she was crying so hard even though she tried to muffle it.
Only the Son of War looked ecstatic. Think about it. He'd finally understood that the resurrection arts was not as great as it seems, and that it was impossible for the Church of Light to use it to increase their influence, so of course he would be happy.
"The cost of resurrecting someone will always be higher than dying," I said meaningfully with a weary sigh.
Just then, the Pope who had been dragging his feet had finally finished the incantation.
With an "Absolute Healing", a golden glow surrounded Elliot, and not too long afterwards Elliot let out a moan as he opened his eyes, smiling as he called out, "Your Highness……"
"Elliot! Oh, Elliot!" The Princess cried out as she tightly held her beloved.
Upon seeing this, the Son of War's expression soured, looking rather like a husband who had just found out about his wife's affair. He stomped towards them, his warriors following closely behind him.
The holy knights all turned to look at me, but seeing no indication from me they stayed put and did not make a move.
However, the royal knights had gathered in front of Elliot and the Princess, forming an impenetrable wall and stopping the Son of War from advancing forward.
Seeing this, the Son of War gave a condescending snort. The Church of War's warriors immediately drew their weapons. In response, the royal knights, too, extended their pikes from behind their shields. The atmosphere in the arena suddenly intensified.
The holy knights were happily standing by as they prepared to watch the two armies go at one another when a holy knight suddenly cried out, "Ah! Doesn't our Sun Knight wish to marry the Princess too?"
The holy knights were jolted by that reminder and they immediately turned to look at their captains, awaiting their orders. The Twelve holy Knights all turned to look at me…… I had almost forgotten that I was one of the contenders for the Princess' hand in marriage.
I quickly put on a deeply moved expression as I sighed with feeling, "Ah! A knight risking his life to save the princess, and the beautiful tears of the princess shed for the fate of the injured knight, how touching! If this Sun continues to insist on tearing apart these two faithful lovers, surely even the God of Light would look upon this Sun with anger and disappointment!"
Hearing that, the Twelve Holy Knights withdrew their gazes and went back to watching the excitement.
Seeing this, the holy knights, too, returned to watching the ensuing epic battle between the two parties. But seeing as the royal knights are their neighbours (all living together in the same city) and with Elliot's immense popularity, most holy knights were rooting for Elliot and the royal knights.
Judging from their loud and enthusiastic cheering, and taking into account the hot-blooded and recklessness of young men, if a fight really did erupt between the royal knights and the Church of War, the holy knights wouldn't be able to keep themselves from joining in the fight.
At the moment, both opposing parties were standing on opposite sides. No one had yet to make a move as they just stood there glaring at each other; the respective generals of each army sizing each other up. The tension in the air was extremely thick; the arena so quiet one could have heard a pin drop… … if it weren't for a bunch of rowdy holy knights cheering and adding fuel to the fire, that is.
As I stood there watching my own knights and their passionate cries, I couldn't help thinking that they aren't content to merely watching by the sidelines but that they actually wished to charge into battle themselves.
"Those Church of War bastards had actually dared to beat up our own men!"
"Yeah, they even dared to beat up the Sun Division Knight! They're just asking for it!"
"Get them, royal knights! Kill those motherfucking bastards! They had nearly killed Adair!"
I turned to look at Storm. Storm just gave a shrug and explained, "Your vice-captain Adair's popularity among the holy knights is about equal to Elliot's popularity among the royal knights. Furthermore, your Sun Division Knights are the equivalent to the team of talented young knights that Elliot leads. What I'm trying to say is that no matter among the civilians, the Hall of Light, our own Holy Temple or even among the royal knights, they are extremely popular and very well-regarded. Even I would often go to them for help."
"Ah!" I smiled. 'Is that so? Seems like I've been underestimating Adair and the Sun Division Knights. In that case, I can entrust more tasks to them in the future.'
"Sun, don't smile like that! I feel like I've just created more trouble for them……" Storm muttered lowly; so softly that I wasn't sure if I was meant to hear that.
"Why would you say that, my brother? With the God of Light as my witness, my Brother Storm has just helped this Sun greatly!"
"I have caused trouble for them," Storm sighed before muttering to himself. "Once this is over I should treat them to a few drinks in apology."
"But honestly, is it your intention for them to fight each other, or not?" Storm asked me curiously. "Give us a hint so we can prepare ourselves?"
"This Sun believes that the benevolent God of Light wishes only for a beautiful ending to all love stories, and not to see pointless fights and unnecessarily shed blood."
The Twelve Holy Knights each withdrew their hands from their weapons. Blaze even let out a disappointed pout as he mumbled, "But I was hoping to see a big bloody battle……"
Back in the middle of the arena, the King, upon seeing the escalating situation, slowly stood up and gave a low growl, "Stop this at once!"
"Your Majesty," The son of War began angrily, "have you forgotten our agreement?"
The King's face darkened at that. Even though the Son of War had immediately realised that he had misspoken, he showed no intentions of retracting his words and instead frowned heavily.
"Son of War, why not allow the couple their happy ending?"
I said with extreme sincerity, "This Sun is already willing to withdraw himself from the fight, are you still insistent on separating the both of them?"
"Heh!" The Son of War gave a cold laugh in reply.
I smiled back at him, well aware that the Princess wasn't the main point.
"How about this. Perhaps His Majesty could help to set up a branch of the Church of War in Forgotten Echo, as a way of apology for the Princess' rejection of the Son of War's affections?"
Upon hearing this, both the Son of War and the King stared at me astounded, and even the Twelve Holy Knights were frowning at my shocking suggestion. I, however, merely kept on smiling calmly.
"If it really is such a sincere apology……" the Son of War began while glancing at the King, and after gauging that the later was not against the proposal, he nodded and sighed, saying "Alright! Sigh, truth in fact, I didn't really have the heart to tear apart these two lovers anyway."
I gave a big nod and praised, "Isn't that so! I have always heard that the God of War was a passionate and ardent being who has great reserves of sympathy for others. He would never do something like tearing apart two people who so obviously hold such great love for one another."
"That's right! Our War God is exactly as you describe! I would never have thought that the Sun Knight would understand our War God so well." The Son of War nodded in approval, most of his animosity towards me disappearing at my words.
I responded in politeness, "You flatter this Sun too much. After all, aren't we neighbours? It is only right that I would wish to learn more about your religion."
"Do you guys have to buddy up with each other so?" Storm muttered from the sidelines.
~O~O~O~O~In the end, the duel was cancelled.
After speaking a few friendly words with Slayer Hell-and extracting a promise from him for a sparring practice- the Son of War left with his warriors in satisfaction, not even once sparing a glance at the Princess.
The royal knights were left scratching at their heads in bewilderment as they looked between Elliot and me, confusion shining clearly in their eyes.
I ignored them and rounded up all the holy knights before leaving for the exit.
But, just as I was about to leave, I suddenly turned around and smiled at Elliot, saying, "Oh and by the way, Sir Knight Elliot, thank you for previously saving my vice-captain, Adair."
Elliot was surprised for a moment, before he beamed at me and said, "You're welcome. I think that with this we're even now, Sun Knight."
~O~O~O~O~"Sir, the King sent me to tell you that you are to make up for the eight rose beads that the Princess had used on me."
A few days later, Elliot secretly met up with me and passed on this message.
I gave a sigh of relief at this, for this message from the King indicated that he accepted my gift in apology. Although it doesn't mean that he had completely forgotten about what I had done, it does mean that he would not be looking to purposely make trouble for me.
"And from Her Highness the Princess, she says that you've risen from a shameless and despicable worm to a shameless and despicable nice guy……"
I could make no answer to that but smile wryly.
After passing along the messages, Elliot did not immediately leave. Instead, he hesitated as if at a loss for words.
After a moment he finally spoke up a little embarrassedly, "'Even with backs turned from the light and face into the darkness, they still walk under the light……' Y-you don't know how much those words mean to me."
I gave him a small smile. I was well aware of how important those words were. Ever since I had said those words to Judge when I had caught him in a moment of dejection, he's hardly ever refused me any of my-ridiculous-requests.
"Don't worry, even though the Church of War has been granted permission to set up a branch here in Forgotten Echo and spread their beliefs, the royal knights and I, as well as the Princess, we are all firmly on the Church of Lights' side." Elliot promised me with the utmost sincerity.
I smiled as I replied, "As the representative of the God of Light, this Sun sincerely thanks you for your support, Sir Knight Elliot."
"As Elliot I too sincerely thank you, Sun Knight, but……" Elliot revealed a perplexed and troubled expression. "What about that fake Hell Knight?"
"Hmm? Why do you say that the Hell Knight is a fake?" I asked with a perfectly matching puzzled expression. "This Sun does not understand."
Hearing that, Elliot was taken aback. After thinking it over for a moment, he then gave a wry smile as he said, "Ah, no. You misheard me. I said that the Hell Knight's swordsmanship is excellent. If given the opportunity I hope to have a few friendly spars with him in the future."
"You are kind in your praise. I will be sure to pass it on to the Hell Knight Captain."
Elliot looked pleased at this and said, "I really hope to get to know him."
"You will," I assured him with a smile.
He nodded and said, "Then please excuse me, Sun Knight. If there is anything you need please do not hesitate to come to me. I want you to know that, other than betraying the royal family, I will not refuse you anything else."
I gave him a look. "Very well. Should this Sun meet with any problems this Sun will ask for your help as a 'friend'," I emphasized.
Elliot nodded seriously and said, "I understand. From today onwards, the Hell Knight stays in the Holy Temple, and Elliot stays in the royal palace. Other than friendship we have no other relation."
I nodded with satisfaction, and after bidding me farewell, Elliot turned and left.
A few moments later, another person-the Judge Knight-stepped out from the shadows. He watched as Elliot left, before turning to look at me.
I started explaining without prompting. "Even without the Son of War marrying the Princess, many of the younger generation would have readily switched to the Church of War. Religion is not like a country where our boundaries can be clearly separated; that the people living over there have to follow the Church of War, and the people living here must follow the Church of Light, it does not work like that."
Judge nodded at that. "You weren't thinking of completely stopping the Church of War from spreading into Forgotten Echo."
"That is an impossible goal," I agreed. "Just as Moon Orchid has believers of the God of Light, so, too, will there be followers of the War God in Forgotten Echo, and even the disciples of the God of Chaos too.
"However, no matter what I cannot allow the Son of War to marry the Princess, for that will indeed pose a great risk to us. A princess has always been admired by and yearned for by young men. And to confound matters, the King has no child. In that event, the child born to the Son of War and the Princess would most likely inherit the throne, and if the Son of War's son were to become the King of Forgotten Echo, the Church of Light's future would be extremely shaky at best."
Again, Judge nodded to show he understood.
I continued on, "But let's not talk about something so distant in the future. We cannot let the Son of War become a member of the royal family, thus influencing the royal knights' beliefs. As the younger generation have always aspired to become royal knights, should the royal knights' beliefs change, so too will the younger generation's. But on the other hand, if the royal knights were to treat the Church of War as their enemies, so would the younger generation be influenced accordingly."
Judge nodded and continued for me, "Elliot is one of the more notable profiles among the younger royal knights, and the younger knights are the key point, as the older generation have pretty much settled into their beliefs and would rarely switch religions. So by managing to pull Elliot to your side, you've pulled the entire army of royal knights to your side. And with Elliot marring the Princess and with the King still showing no signs of begetting a child, their child would very likely grow up to become the next king. So even though the Church of War has managed to set up a branch here in Forgotten Echo, the Church of Light's position is even more unshakable than ever."
The Judge stopped at that, before continuing on in a dark voice, "But all of this, you could have just have the King privately arrange this deal with the Son of War, allowing him to set up a branch here in Forgotten Echo in exchange for him giving up on the Princess. And yet, you had to stir up trouble and suggest a duel so that you had time to stir up the animosity between the Church of War and the royal knights, making them sworn enemies. Fine.
"But on the day of the duel you purposely thanked Elliot for saving Adair in front of everyone, thus misleading them into thinking that you had allowed the Church of War to set up a branch here at the cost of the Church of Light's influence, just so the Son of War would give up on the Princess and leave her free to marry Elliot. This way, the royal knights' opinion of you would rise significantly—sigh… You really are……"
I hissed at him angrily, "Judge, you do indeed know me very well, but do not think of me so poorly! I am very grateful to Elliot for saving Adair. Are you actually doubting my concerns and protectiveness for my holy knight brothers?! Yes, I had a motive for thanking him in front of everyone, but it is not so that the royal knights would like me, but to clear Elliot of any suspicion of having any connection with the Holy Temple!"
Upon hearing my furious tirade, Judge immediately apologised. "I really am sorry. I misunderstood you. It is just that your methods of late have been rather alarming, that I kept thinking of the worst case scenarios."
"My 'methods' are only used on the duties of the Sun Knight, and I would never let anyone come to harm! In the last two incidents, exempting of the fat piggy king who deserved it, who else has been harmed by my plans?"
I was so angered that my voice had started trembling with fury. "I was trying to carry out my duties, I had been working so hard not to hurt anyone and yet still contrive to bring about a happy ending for everyone. Yet you, the person who knows me best, Leithe Judge, was alarmed by my methods?!"
Judge lowered his head at that for a while as he thought about what I had said. He then looked at me in the eye steadily as he said, "Captain Sun Knight, you have indeed carried out your duties, and had not harmed anyone who did not deserve it. I am truly sorry for misjudging you."
"Leithe, it isn't just a simple matter of me forgiving you, but you have really gone too far this time!" I refused his apology, saying stubbornly, "Securing the faiths of the followers is my main duty, and I have never once forgotten what I, as the Sun Knight, should or should not be doing. I admit that my methods may be a little treacherous and underhanded, but with the limitations of trying not to harm anyone, I have only those methods left open to me!"
"I'm sorry. I, Leithe Judge, swear on my name before the God of Light that I will never make this same mistake."
I nodded my head carefully, finally accepting his apology, but at the same time setting a condition. "How 'bout this, you promise to agree to any ten requests of mine unconditionally, then I'll forgive you."
"… … Do you really need me to promise you this? When have I ever refused any of your requests?"
"That was because it was for the sake of official matters that you had no choice but to agree, but I do have private requests that I might need your help with!"
Judge gave me a perplexed look. "And just how is scaling the walls to buy blueberry pies for you an official matter?"
"That was only a favour, not a request," I denied.
"I see. Are there any even more preposterous things that you can't ask me as 'favours', that you have to ask as 'requests' from me?"
I gave an uncomfortable laugh. "Er, there aren't any currently. But you never know when I might have one! I should take advantage of the rare occasion of you doing something wrong and get you to agree in advance, for insurance."
"…… three requests."
"Deal!" I agreed immediately. I am 'looting a burning house', after all. I'll take what I can get.
Judge merely gave a sigh at my antics, before bringing up another question. "And how are you going to deal with that Slayer Hell?"
"Oh." I smiled faintly. "You must be happy about Captain Hell Knight's long-awaited return?"
Judge gave me a look, asking me strangely, "What do you mean?"
I smiled at him as I explained, "ever since you turned thirteen, no one in the Holy temple has been able to match up to you in terms of swordsmanship. Now after ten years, you finally have someone whom you can spar with. Aren't you happy about that? Or do you actually think that in between your many duties as Judge Knight you would still have time to run over to the neighbouring country's Church of War and invite the Son of War to a friendly spar?"
Judge fell silent as he considered this before he spoke of his worries, "but he is a Death Lord; he is extremely dangerous!"
"A Death Lord in the midst of the Church of Light-the headquarters of the group of people who specialise in dealing with the undead? Are we the ones in danger? Or is it he who is in greater danger?"
Judge thought about this new point and finally nodded, saying in exasperation, "Whatever you say…… besides, I've just realised……
"He is nowhere near as dangerous as you are."
Book 2: Rule B – The Twelve Holy Knights’ Second Shared Rule: “Respect the other Twelve Holy Knights’ privacy.”"This is the Holy Temple's great hall, other than being decorative it has no other real use."
"There are two hallways leading off from the great hall. One leads to the inner section of the Holy Temple, while the other leads to the Hall of Light's great hall."
"This is the most important place of all, your room. It's just next, next door to mine. The room in between ours belongs to Captain Judge Knight……"
"And the conference room where the Twelve Holy Knights hold their meetings is just down two corridors after a right turn. It's the third room you'll see…… hmmm, this isn't very clear. Let's go, I'll just take you there."
"Creus!" I shouted, getting a little irritated.
Creus stopped in his tracks and corrected me, "You should call me Sun! Only call me Creus in private. But if you really insist on calling me Creus I guess it's okay too, it shouldn't really matter……"
I interrupted his ramblings, "I think I should be leaving now."
"What? What are you saying? Where are you going?"
"Nowhere, just leaving the Holy Temple," I said simply, feeling a little uneasy. The longer I remain in the Holy Temple the greater the chances of my being discovered for a Death Knight. It's a small matter if I were to be killed, but if it was discovered that Creus actually had dealings with a Death Knight, it would be a whole different matter for him.
Creus merely looked at me in surprise and said, "But you are the Hell Knight Captain. Where are you supposed to stay if not in the Holy Temple?"
I was speechless for some time before finally regaining control of my mouth. "I am not really the Hell Knight, remember?"
Just then, a holy knight came running at us, shouting frantically, "Captain! The royal knights and the Church of War's warriors bumped into each other on the streets and are now fighting each other like cats and dogs! (Or more like tigers and wolves.)"
Creus' face darkened at this news as he asked displeased, "What are the holy knights doing? Haven't they broken up the fight?"
"No, but they did form a strong defensive formation and are shielding the surrounding spectators! And after that they……"
"And after that they… what?"
"They stood around cheering on the royal knights……"
At this, Creus' face had darkened furiously. He hurriedly turned to me and said, "Just walk around and explore, I'll be back soon. Just remember two things: firstly, don't leave the Holy Temple, don't bother looking for Pink, she's moved; secondly, don't intrude on the other Twelve Holy Knights' privacy, especially their rooms."
"Wait-……" I stared at him with wide eyes as he left quickly with the other holy knight, leaving me on my own in the middle of the Holy Temple.
'Pink moved? Then where should I go now?'
I stood there for God knows how long, and during that time several holy knights walked past me, greeting me as Hell Knight Captain and even saluting me. I was at a lost as to how to respond to them.
Not long after that, I saw someone I recognised walking towards me.
"Judge Knight……" I watched him warily. According to Creus' description of him, he should be aware of my identity as a Death Knight.
But, the Judge Knight did not seem to have any wariness towards me, only correcting me, "It's 'Captain' Judge Knight," he stressed. "Judge Knight is what outsiders call us. Don't get it wrong, 'Captain' Hell Knight."
I was rendered speechless for the second time that day. Does he have no intention of exposing my real identity at all? He's going to just leave a Death Knight running around the Holy Temple?
The Judge Knight looked at me and asked, "Do you have any other questions?"
"I don't know where to go to," I answered without thinking.
Judge pondered the question for a while before answering me, "You could go to the library. There are plenty of books there that you can look up on how to carry out your duties as Hell Knight. Or you can go look for Captain Storm Knight. He's extremely busy and would welcome anyone's help. Right now he's in his room going over the office documents."
I could not say anything to that, only managing to scrape out a "thank you".
"By the way, Captain Hell Knight, do you have time later tonight for a spar with me?"
"Yes," I immediately agreed. The Judge Knight's sword skills are extremely good, and I had been looking forward to being able to fighting him once more.
"Good, then see you at night." The Judge Knight nodded and then continued on his way.
I did not know what to say to that. But now that I've promised to meet him later at night I can't leave the Holy Temple.
Thinking about it, I couldn't just stand in the middle of a hallway all day, so why not follow the Captain Judge Knight's suggestion and read some books in the library? I can pass the time that way until the agreed upon spar at night.
After asking a holy knight for directions, I followed his instructions and left the hallway.
There were quite a number of holy knights in the library, but I determinedly ignored everyone who greeted me as I made my way to a book cabinet and opened it, deciding to look for a few books on Hell Knights……
"Are you looking for any book in particular?"
I jumped back in shock, demanding angrily, "Who are you?"
"I am the Cloud Knight."
Just then, a head actually poked out from the book cabinet. His face was white as a sheet, and for a moment I couldn't tell if he was a ghost or not…… and the head actually claimed himself to be one of the Twelve Holy Knights? Impossible!
"Captain Cloud Knight, could you give me a book of poems about the Twelve Holy Knights? I would like to read it to the children."
A holy knight was smiling cheerfully at the disembodied head.
"Alright." The head retracted, and before long it returned, along with a similarly pale hand holding out a book.
"Thank you, Captain Cloud Knight."
After taking the book, the holy knight kindly told me, "Captain Hell Knight, if you're looking for a book you can ask Captain Cloud Knight to get it for you. He's extremely familiar with where all the books are kept."
It really is the Cloud Knight? I was stunned.
The head…… no, the Cloud Knight looked at me for quite some time before saying wispily, "What a strange man; standing in front of a book cabinet yet not looking for a book." He then withdrew his head and closed the door to the book cabinet with a click.
I was once again struck speechless. And here I'd always thought that Creus was a very weird holy knight, but I never knew that there were even weirder.
I gave up on the library and decided to look for the Storm Knight. Although I did not think that I would be able to help him at all……
"I am so extremely grateful!! Here, just take a look at these documents, circle any problems in red and summarise the main points of the entire document in three sentences at the end. Then give it to me to look over and I'll be able to stamp the approval on them."
And with that the Storm Knight shoved a stack of documents at me.
As I held the stack of documents I had been given I told him nervously, "But I've never gone through documents before, I don't know what to do."
"Don't worry, it's always like that the first time," the Storm Knight reassured me. "I will look over them before stamping the approval…… if I have time……"
I spent the entire afternoon looking over the stack of documents before finally handing them back to the Storm Knight.
"You did them wonderfully!" praised Storm as he grabbed the stamp, and-without even looking down at them- stamped the approval on all the documents. "Are you free tomorrow too? You are? Then how about coming over and helping me again? Okay? No problem? Then it's a date, Captain Hell Knight!"
Even though I hadn't actually said anything…… but a promise is a promise. Looks like I'll have to wait until tomorrow before I can leave.
"Oh and by the way, can you help me pass this along to Captain Frost Knight? Thanks." The Storm Knight gave me something that-no matter how I looked at it-looked like a plate and a fork. That led me to knocking on the Frost Knight's door.
After taking the plate from me, the Frost Knight said only one word to me before closing the door again.
I stood there and waited.
When the door opened once more he gave me two bags that-from the smell of it-was filled with sweets and cakes. He said simply, "This is yours; that is for Sun."
"… … thank you."
'I'll just give both bags to Creus,' I thought.
The Frost Knight suddenly said, and he then stared at me. I had no other option but to eat a piece. What a wasteful thing - Death Knights do not need to eat.
"Not sweet? Sweet? Too sweet?"
I did not know what to say to him. As a Death Knight, my tongue is only good for speaking.
"My taste buds are not very good, I can't really taste any food."
The Frost Knight Captain took out a notebook and as he wrote he mumbled, "Hell, super strong flavour."
After he'd finished his note taking, the Frost Knight Captain looked back up at me and asked, "Where are you going?"
As I myself had no idea where I was going to go, I told him, "Just walking around."
Frost nodded and asked, "Help me?"
~O~O~O~O~I carried a bunch of bags filled with sweets and went around looking for the rest of the Twelve Holy Knights, and my first stop was back to the book cabinet, looking for the Cloud Knight Captain.
"Thank you," Cloud poked his head out from the book cabinet and took the bag of sweets, at the same time giving me a few books. "These are for you."
I looked down to read the titles of the books, The Historical Biographies of Notable Hell Knights and The Hell Knight's Handbook of Duties and Responsibilities.
~O~O~O~O~The Blaze Knight Captain stared at me for a long time, muttering, "But Sun was obviously Slayer, so how come there's another Slayer? Just who is the real one? Slayer or Sun?...…"
In the end, he took the bag while mumbling, "I just don't get it. Oh whatever! They both start with an 'S' so I'll just think of Sun as cloning himself!"
I could not understand a single thing he had said. At all.
~O~O~O~O~When the Earth Knight answered the door, he kept trying to block the way, as if there was some unspeakable thing in his room that he could not let me see.
"M-my room is kinda messy," he gave a bashful laugh.
I nodded my head in understanding and handed him the bag.
"Eaaaarrth! Are you done already?"
Earth just looked at me and gave me a most innocent smile. "Erhehe… Hell, you must have misheard! There's no girl's voice coming from my room."
"… …" I never said a thing.
~O~O~O~O~The Leaf Knight Captain came to open the door with a cheerful smile. He wasn't trying to block the door to his room and I could clearly see that his room was very neat and tidy, as befitting a clean and proper knight.
"Thank you very much, Captain Hell Knight," he said as he took the bag from me.
It was then that I noticed the little straw doll in his hand. Aren't these things usually made in larger, human-sized figures and placed in farms to scare away the birds from the crops?
When the Leaf Knight Captain followed my gaze and saw me looking at the straw doll he immediately smiled and explained. "These things are really useful, you know! You just have to place them on the wall and with a nail and hammer you hammer the nail into the doll. It'll make your mood loads better!"
I had heard of it. It is rumoured that in the rural areas the witches would curse someone using that exact same method.
The Leaf Knight Captain very kindly gave me a tip, "and if you add a piece of someone's hair in the doll the effects are even better! Or even better yet if you can find their nails……"
I-very carefully-made sure that neither hair nor nail was left behind as I bid the Leaf Knight goodbye.
~O~O~O~O~That night when I saw the Judge Knight, before we could even start the match, I couldn't resist shaking my head and sighing as I asked, "Are the Twelve Holy Knights all so weird?"
The Judge Knight looked at me strangely.
I couldn't understand why he would look at me so.
He finally answered me slowly, "Well yes, we all have our own unusual quirks and idiosyncrasies, but we are all very respectful of the other Twelve Holy Knights' privacy. As long as they are carrying out their duties properly…… even if they were a dead corpse running around, we would still respect them."
I see, so the weirdest of the Twelve Holy Knights is actually me?
End of Second Volume