The town of Engey. In the room of a certain inn, all the Death Knights were gathered.
The Death Knights are people put together for the sole purpose of fighting darkness. They may be referred to as Knights, but they are not affiliated to any country. They travel around the world annihilating enemies that threaten the peace of mankind.
Their numbers may be low but they are known to be the most elite. They are divided into three classes based on ability. A member of the lowest class is more skilled than a top grade mercenary of the same rank.
A normal human would find themselves over their head if they were to face a vanguard of darkness. The Death Knights are man’s last line of defense against darkness, and it was for this reason they were often depicted as heroes in fairy tales.
The centre of the room. An old man sat down heavily on a comfortable armchair.
Deep wrinkles adorned his face, his hair all white, but his body that had been trained and tempered over the years showed no signs of weakness. If one looked closely, the enormous power possessed by the man, would make one feel peaceful as if they were in a dream.
In reality, that old man was one of the few first class knights, and the leader of the group of knights who had arrived at Engey on the mission.
He boasted ultimate authority within the order and is the cornerstone of light, who has defended humanity against many a disaster through the years.
Epée the ‘Destroyer’.
The old Knight who was revered for his countless military exploits and his calm demeanor, looked on his disciples with his usual calm eyes.
“So… he still hasn’t been found. Horus Carmon.”
“Well he’s a second class necromancer alright. There’s no mistake that he’s in the woods… His ‘Mislead & Dispel’ skill seems powerful. I can’t find any weaknesses in it.”
“It would take too long to launch a frontal attack. This just sucks.”
In response to the Master’s words, one of the disciples – Lufry, the bright leader of the group, shrugged and the boorish Nevira clicked his tongue.
A skilled mage is capable of practising magic outside his area of expertise. In particular, mages who break the taboo have a tendency to excel at magic that helps them cover their tracks.
The Death Knights are by no means strangers to magic, but naturally they fall short of a mage who is skilled enough to break taboo.
‘Mislead & Dispel’, bewitches a person when they enter a particular range, and makes them lose their way naturally. It is a type of bewitching spell and top grade barrier magic.
It makes it too difficult to launch a frontal attack. However, it has a weakness, wherein it is rendered ineffective if one were to be guided by someone who is privy to the location.
Epée frowned in response to his disciples’ report and said quietly.
“Horus is a dangerous individual. He’s managed to slip through our hands too many times. He needs to be put down before he becomes a first class necromancer.”
Similar to how the Death Knights are divided into three classes, the archenemies of the Death Knights, namely the necromancers are also divided into three classes.
Horus Carmon is categorized as a second class necromancer, and classified as first class is a type of demon that has transcended humanity. A second class necromancer could be said to be an extremely dangerous practitioner.
Naturally, the Death Knights will not face defeat, but depending on how things pan out, the possibility of losing a few third class knights was very real.
However, Epée gave a big warm smile that could clear the heavy atmosphere. One could catch a glimpse of absolute confidence behind that smile.
The first class knights who were few in number had other duties on top of subjugation of evil.
And that was to pass down their strength and experience to the next generation.
He directed his attention towards the youngest girl in the room who was yet to speak a word.
“Senri, You’ll be in charge as planned. Work with the knights and destroy Horus . You can do it, right?”
“… Yes, Master.”
A second class practitioner is rather powerful. Naturally not as powerful as the first class, but still one does not come across them too often.
Senri’s voice was composed as she accepted the mission. Those purple eyes, with nary a trace of impurity, looked back at Epée.
Epée nodded satisfied upon seeing the expression on her face.
“ You don’t need to worry, Senri. You are still young, yet your strength is exceedingly close to that of a first class knight’s. In particular, your blessing is one of the most powerful in history.”
Virtuous soul. The Sword Princess of Light. The one who was blessed by the God of Creation at birth. Senri Silvis.”
She is an outstanding talent even amongst the Death Knights which is an ensemble of the best of the best.
Especially because of her blessing which grants her ability to dispel darkness. The necromancers refer to it as positive energy, and hers is the strongest ever among Epée’s disciples.
The Death Knights are put through a strict training of the mind and body to increase the strength of their blessing. However, Senri already had a tremendous amount of blessing when she was recruited by Epée. And the power of light has only grown stronger over the years.
Undoubtedly, a being that came into existence for the sole purpose of being a Death Knight. With enough experience, she is certain to surpass Epée.
Such a huge disparity in talent would not even evoke envy.
“The opponent is one of the strongest in the second class, but I’m sure you’ll be able to defeat him with the help of your fellow knights. I intend to use the achievements from this mission… to recommend the promotion of Senri to first class.”
“?! But… I’m still…”
“It doesn’t matter that you’re not yet strong enough. There’s no point comparing yourself to me who’s been a first class knight for thirty years. I’m sure you’ll catch up in no time. You have an innate talent for the sword and need I talk about the strength of your blessing? The only thing I’m worried about is… listen carefully, it’s your naivety, Senri. Because necromancers… are crafty.”
Senri listened earnestly and nodded in response. The others also listened to their respected master earnestly.
Senri looked at him straight-on, and declared in a calm and composed voice.
“ Not to worry. I’ve seen a lot of disasters they’ve caused. Necromancers are wrongdoers against humanity. The blessing placed on me, exists for the sole purpose of putting them to death and for the salvation of the poor souls who were defiled by them.”
“… Your kindness, your righteousness, is your strength and at the same time your weakness. But fear not, for it’s a path everyone traverses in their lives. Without facing troubles and hardships, one could never become a knight of the first class.”
“Please count on us, Master. It’s true that Senri has a naive side to her, but she’s got us with her. Although her blessing is stronger than any of us, we have more experience fighting against darkness. We have each other’s backs.”
The Master looked at them with fatherly affection and Lufry who was beside Senri stepped up and bumped a fist to his chest.
They displayed all kinds of emotions as nodded vigorously.
Epée nodded satisfied and crossed his long legs and stared at Senri.
“Even necromancers can’t live without assistance. Strong magic needs a good catalyst. I’m certain Horus’ aide lives in this town. Proceed with your investigation. That is your job, Senri. I shall provide advice upon request, but I don’t plan to get involved directly.”
“That said, don’t forget you’re not a first class knight yet. You have me backing you up. It should take time to accumulate enough energy in order to become a first class necromancer. On the off chance that he has already advanced to first class, you’re to report to me.”
Senri kept Master’s words in mind and left with a few assigned knights in order to continue with the investigation.
☠ ☠ ☠
At the base, Nevira was engaged in conversation with Senri who was checking the equipment.
He is a long haired man who had the position of vanguard and looked up to Epée, whose main weapon was also a mace.
“Senri, you should blow up the barrier along with the forest really. I’m sure you can do it with blessing as strong as yours. ‘Mislead & Dispel’ is certainly powerful but sensitive at the same time . You mess with its order a little and it can be easily destroyed.”
“Like I said before… that will be our last resort. If we wreak havoc in the woods, the monsters that flee could hurt the people in town.”
“And that’s exactly why the Master calls you naive. Sure, there will be casualties, but letting a second class necromancer run loose is probably much worse .”
Nevira ground his teeth as he looked at Senri.
They never got along, but Senri thought that he had a point.
The duty of the Death Knights is the annihilation of darkness, and everything else came second place. At times, in the process of subjugation, several innocent people have been caught in the crossfire.
The Death Knights have long since held their own brand of justice.
The necromancer Horus Carmon who manipulates the dead is a formidable opponent. A dark mage who trifles with the soul and even death, would resort to using any dirty methods. Hence, once needs the resolve to fight against it.
Senri was aware of why she was deemed naive by her Master. However, Senri had joined the Death Knights in order to protect the weak.
Senri had been very sick before. The blessing that was too strong, the increasing positive energy had placed a burden on her body.
However, owing to physical growth and training her mind along with her body, she is perfectly capable of utilizing the power. Senri now had the strength to fight back.
“I am the leader of this mission. We will proceed with the investigation. As long as we are in the town of Engey, the necromancer won’t be able to make any big moves. We don’t need to be hasty.”
The Death Knights have an overwhelming advantage over necromancers. There is no doubt that they would win if they clashed head-on.
Nevira scratched his head and spoke with a harsh tone.
“… Tch. Forget it. You are the leader this time. But… set a time limit at the very least. Sure we may be able to find someone who knows the location of their base, but we can’t afford to waste too much time searching. Horus Carmon is not the only necromancer in the world. You understand?”
“… I know. We will settle this in under a month.”
“A month is too long. The longer it takes, the more power they accumulate. The barrier around woods will be fortified as well. You may be able to escape this unscathed, but Horus is a powerful mage. Your fellow knights will die.”
His tone was almost threatening. Senri held her silence for a while after which she raised her head determined.
“… One week. If we don’t find a lead by then, I’ll destroy the woods. Preparations for it will be made alongside the investigation. The arrangements for the clean-up after the destruction, determining where the destruction should take place–”
Nevira’s mouth twisted into an almost callous smile as he looked at Senri’s determined eyes, he clapped her hard on her delicate shoulders.
☠ ☠ ☠
All the preparations were steadily underway. Upon the Lord’s orders, I go into town with Roux.
The whole town of Engey was enveloped in a tense atmosphere. Unlike during our previous visit, if one listened carefully, one could hear the rumors around town about the Death Knights.
I fulfill the task assigned to me as I wince at the sundown pouring down on me.
I reckon the Lord had us run the errand at noon because the Death Knights would be on high alert at dusk when the undead are usually active.
Huck passed onto us a package very similar to one we were given prior.
I made to leave the room as soon as we received the package, but was stopped by Huck, who had a message for us to pass on the Lord.
His usually carefree face looked a little weary.
“Tell Lord Horus I look forward to the day I can meet him again. Those guys are searching for us. I don’t intend to betray him, but they are good at sniffing out things. It’s too much of a risk to deliver any more ‘supplies’.”
“… You really are sentient huh. Also to think you can move around just fine under sunlight… how terrifying. Lord Horus, your Master is undoubtedly… the strongest mage.”
Huck showed a bitter smile and shuddered ostentatiously.
We left the room after the transaction was completed. Short though it may be, it was a time I had my freedom.
The final showdown is yet to come. I entered a deserted back alley. Roux who had always reproached me for my wanton behavior, followed me without a word.
There is very little time when I am not being watched. I am under constant surveillance in the cellar where I am usually placed, and I am not allowed to leave the mansion without express orders.
The only time I get to be free is when I am on these errands. Now with the Death Knights being watchful, the Lord cannot attach his familiar to me.
I loomed over Roux who had receded into her shell, and peered into her dark eyes.
“Did you get what I asked you for?”
“Ye-yeah. B-but, what, use could, something like this–”
“I knew you wouldn’t disappoint. Thanks for the help. Really.”
I have no more time. The Lord has been shutting himself up in the laboratory more and more with every passing day.
I reckon he is preparing to conduct some sort of ritual. The only time he sees me is when he has to order me to hunt.
The Lord looked thoroughly exhausted but his eyes had an eerie spark in them.
He is trying to break some new taboo. It may not be my place to speak, considering I am an unforgivable existence myself, but it is rather repulsive.
I am not a match to the Lord or the Death Knights as is. If they make the first move, the chances of us winning are slim to none.
Her face displayed fear and doubt, as she pulled out from her pocket what had been asked of her.
I all but snatched it from her hands, checked it, and smiled for the first time in a while.
I may have been able to obtain it even if I had requested the Lord. However, that would invite unnecessary suspicion upon myself. I wanted it to be discreet.
It may be something trivial to Roux, but to me, it is the key to survival.
Roux did not seem like she was in pain. It is the slaves themselves who decide if they are in violation of their orders.
Meaning, Roux did not consider her cooperation with me as an indirect attack towards the Lord.
Roux looked around her restlessly and whispered in a shaking voice.
“ S-so… about the deal—”
“Ah! Of course. Well, you’re simply going to have to trust me on that but I will keep my promise.”
Upon hearing the reassuring words coming from someone she had not yet begun to trust, Roux heaved a sigh of relief.
Her expression softened and she looked a little less tense.
I am weak but Roux is far weaker. The thought of resistance does not even cross her mind. That is what made her different from me, who had resisted death even in my last moments of my life.
She really is a hopeless, pitiful person.
Nevertheless, I do not have the time to dilly dally. I need to make the necessary preparations.
“Roux, I won’t take long. I have something to do, so wait at the exit.”
I did not wait to hear her reply as I rushed out of the alley with the object.
I need to make sure I do not bump into any of the Death Knights.
The situation was as precarious as being at the verge of death, but now I have a body that can move.
And I do not wish to wager my life on neither the Lord or the Death Knights.