Dell Gordon, the third-class Death Knight held captive, had his eyes closed in an effort to scan his surroundings.
Almost a month had passed since he had been caught. During the time, Dell received all of the scornful looks pretending to be emancipated.
All members of the Death Knights are humans. The blessing dwelling in their bodies grants them superhuman powers.
The power of blessing that he had almost exhausted when he was strung up in the prison, had already been replenished.
He was in a rather malnourished state owing to no proper food given to him, but it was nothing new as he has had to go without food or water while on missions before, not to mention there are techniques followed by the Death Knights that use the power of blessing to forcibly move one’s own body when it is unable to do so.
His hands and feet were bound by chains of a special make, and even the physical strength of Death Knights that enabled them to break through steel did not work on the chains. However, the same could not be said for the wall they were connected to.
At present with my power replenished, I can break the chains, wrench the bars open and make a run for it. The iron balls attached to my legs are a bit of an issue but with my strength enhanced through blessing, it should barely pose an impediment.
Rainel’s army is taking Death Knights too lightly. The only reason I pretended to have grown weak and had not broken out sooner was because I was waiting for the right opportunity.
The army of the Demon King Rainel had surpassed Romberg in terms of military strength.
Romberg was in danger of being crushed by the mighty existence that is Rainel’s army which had grown considerably in size and strength of each individual member.
The only reason that city had survived thus far was due to the strong outer wall that had taken years to build. Nevertheless, its strength was on the decline owing to all the abuse it had endured over the years. There was no other way to save the city but by defeating Demon King Rainel.
Once he falls, his army would be reduced to no more than a swarm of beasts. Hence, even the soldiers stationed in Romberg should be able to take care of them.
He never thought he would be a match for them by himself. And yet, he still had to challenge them.
Romberg was Dell’s hometown.
He did not have too many happy memories of the place. Romberg is a stronghold. Majority of its residents make a living through their swords, and it is a rough town to grow up in.
His family was no more. Even old acquaintances have probably long forgotten about him, who left town after being picked up by the Order.
That said, he was still born and raised there. Several of the battle techniques ingrained in Dell were ones he once learned from the soldiers of this land.
‘This is all fate’ Dell thought. It was probably no coincidence that had brought about Dell’s visit to Romberg, which had been pushed to a precarious state after being exposed to fierce attacks from the demon king’s army.
Dell was strong right now. It was the strength he had fostered through fierce battles against beings of darkness.
His fellow knights had tried to stop him. He had been admonished by his master who had looked after him all along.
With power comes responsibility. It was by code that the Order never involved itself in battles against demon kings. The Death Knights use their strength only to fight beings of darkness.
However, Dell refused to submit. And after seeing how determined he was, his fellow knights gave up on holding him back.
As to what the Order would do if he were to break the code and intervene…
He would not be excommunicated. Nor would they try to stop him against his will.
The right answer is… they would turn a blind eye.
This is Dell’s battle. And the Order would respect that.
They would not provide him with manpower, nor would they try to stop him. Exert your strength to accomplish your will. Heroes are that kind of people.
He did not think the Order had treated him poorly. For it was simply him being wilful.
No one would come to the rescue. His fellow knights had already departed Romberg. If Dell were to not return, he would probably be considered missing in action.
It was his good fortune that had kept him alive, but it was not in the least convenient to have become a prisoner.
Rainel is a gigantic Demon King.
He has a tough body which is said to have deflected a shot from a catapult, also immune to power of blessing, he is completely different from all the opponents Dell has faced thus far.
Even the Death Knights might find it difficult to win if they take him head-on. Besides, when it is a large army one is facing against, the level of difficulty simply shoots up.
Dell may have had a small victory in getting captured and placed among the troops. He could probably find a suitable spot to launch a surprise attack.
Even if defeating Rainel may not be possible, he might be able to take out a few of the top brass.
Right around then is when the circumstances changed.
The behaviour of Dell’s guards was stranger than usual. And, that appeared.
It had the appearance of a young man.
Its energy was suppressed but Dell could tell.
In front of him was… a being of darkness. The enemy of the Order, a powerful undead, the archenemy of all things living, a vampire.
Considering it had made its way all the way over here, it must be a guest of the Demon King Rainel.
‘How foolish of him’, thought Dell.
The undead loathe all living beings, be it humans or even their own kind.
When evolved into a vampire, they grow intelligent and are less driven to blindly follow their instincts to prey on any living beings they come across, but it does not make them any less dangerous.
That said, this might not be bad news to Dell.
If an undead were to join their ranks, Demon King Rainel would become an enemy of the Order.
Once they receive a report of this, they would swear on their dignity as Death Knights to bring down Demon King Rainel at all costs. The code was also meant to serve as a warning to discourage Demon Kings from ever associating with powerful undead.
By letting in a foreign body, an undead, the army was thrown into chaos.
Just as how the undead prey on the living, the living instinctively avoids the undead. It takes time to get used to the death energy they radiate.
I shall carry out my plan tomorrow, when the vampire cannot make a move, and the guards exchange shifts.
As I held my breath, circulating the blessing around my body in an effort to improve my condition even if by a little, I suddenly felt a chill down my spine. I slightly raised my head and put strength into my arms, ready to break out of my chains at any time. I donned on armor made with the power of blessing that I had kept on the reserve.
The warning bells went off in my head. A strong aura of darkness was approaching. The ogre guards seemed to have not noticed it.
There was no sound. No scent. It was simply an evil aura closing in.
It was not magic. It felt like a skill peculiar to a vampire evolved from a fleshman.
Everything was silent. Soft groans escape the lips of the three ogre guards. Their eyes merely grew wide before losing all light the next moment and they collapsed on the ground.
Dell stared, eyes wide as he got up to his feet. Vampires are monsters, even if Death Knights are equipped to deal with them, they cannot be taken lightly.
His body trembled. From excitement.
From the shadows emerged a pair of blood red eyes, veiled by a small curtain of hair, peering at him. The skin that appeared to be dyed dark, returned to its original color as if by a wave of corrosion.
The monster’s appearance remained the same, but it felt a whole lot more daunting than before.
For a moment, Dell even forgot the Demon King, his original target. Even for him, who held no particular grudge towards vampires, it was apparent that this monster before him had to be killed no matter what.
As Dell glared at him silently without masking his murderous intent, the monster spoke.
“I’m going to kill Rainel. I’ll let you out of here. Work with me.”
☠ ☠ ☠
I killed too many. I am burning up. My vision keeps flickering.
My head is practically on fire. I take a deep breath to regain my composure.
The origin of the heat is probably my vampire instincts. It is also the reason why vampires are considered fearsome monsters. As I am still a lesser vampire, my instincts should not be as developed, however, it is furious as a fire or a storm, and a few moments seem to be necessary to completely shut it down.
Though I had just had my fill, my throat felt totally parched. I had made a mistake.
I messed up the order of execution. Before drinking Monica’s blood, I should have invented an excuse to look for Senri. I would have kept my cool if Senri had been by my side.
It is incredibly easy to let my impulses control me, but that would only take me one step closer to becoming a monster. Even if I had caught them off guard, having taken out three ogres in an instant only proves how powerful I had become. It is going to be touch and go from here on out.
I grabbed on the iron bars, yanked it out of place and threw it aside. I stepped into the cell that was now open wide.
Despite my gracious attempt to save him, the Death Knight glared at me, murderously.
Slender body covered in wounds. Strong-willed pair of brown eyes. He was clad in an armor of blessing in an effort to keep me at arm’s length. However, as I am now, I could most likely punch him through the armor and all.
My vampire instincts screamed at me to kill the man in front of me. But I cannot do that. Even if he looks upon me with killing intent, I cannot respond in kind. As long as Senri places her trust in me, I cannot betray her.
I want to knock myself down for thinking, that before Senri got here, I should free the Death Knight, take down Rainel and ask for her blood as reward.
The Death Knight said nothing. However, I proceed to clear things up.
“Ah. I understand your reluctance. I don’t really want to do this either. But the enemy of my enemy is an ally, right? We can put off trying to kill each other until after. Rainel’s pretty strong and to be honest, I might be in over my head by myself. And the same goes for you too probably.”
I do not really expect us to become real allies. That is obviously impossible.
That is why, I shall point him towards a different target. This Death Knight was caught after a strife with Rainel’s army. So, it stands to reason that Rainel should be his target.
The iron balls on his legs spelled nuisance. I grabbed onto the huge chains and lifted it up. As I was about to pull on it with both hands, it suddenly dawned on me.
“Ahh, dammit… it’s not the full moon today.”
This was a mistake. If I decide to strike back, it is best to wait for the full moon day on which I am at my strongest. I would have normally realized that way earlier, but it looks like I was thirstier than I had imagined.
I put all my strength into it. The chains seem to have been custom made for they were pretty sturdy, but after pulling on them with all my might, I heard a snap. I heard an even louder sound escape my arms followed by a dull throb, but I ignored it. After wrestling with it for some time, the chains made a dull sound and popped out of my hands.
The Death Knight said softly.
“… There should be a key.”
“… Ah, you’re right. I didn’t think of that. Shit…”
My instincts screamed at me to use my strength. My reason was being corroded.
I am in a very excited state right now. You could even call it impatience. I felt as if I had been sunk under water for a few years.
I patted down a dead guard to find a bunch of keys that I threw to the Death Knight.
Dreadful. Vampire instincts are completely dreadful. What made it dreadful is that I might not even realize if it merged with my own.
I almost wanted to drop everything and take off after coming this far, but I cannot do that. I have taken several risks. The die had already been cast.
If I run away right now, it will turn into a habit. And it is not the kind of freedom I seek.
The Death Knight got to his feet. He was more built and blessed with a better physique than me, who had grown taller after becoming a lesser vampire.
Even though he was supposed to have been bound for long, he did not look unsteady on his feet. What possessed Rainel’s army to capture a Death Knight of all people? Should I call that daring or foolish… I would have killed him instead had I been their position.
The Death Knight spoke.
“I need a weapon.”
“There’s a treasury. You should also get some proper clothes.”
I may not be one to talk, but it is not right for such a macho man to move around in rags.
Well then, before the sun rises and Rainel’s army realizes what’s up, let us get this over with.