Chapter 32: 020. Imperial Prince is Bestowing Divine Protection -1
The silver-haired girl ran around assisting soldiers while carrying sheathed swords in her hands, as well as a quiver full of dozens of arrows slung on her back.
Harman became rather stunned, and couldn’t help but dazedly stare at her carrying all these equipment that even grown men would find difficult to lug around.
For a slender, frail-looking girl to do something like this, her physical strength and stamina must’ve been quite considerable.
‘But, wasn’t she a daughter of a simple farmer?’
He knew her as both the daughter of Gril the farmer, and as a nun serving in the monastery where the Imperial Prince had been staying.
She was lending her support to those soldiers currently doing their best to protect the citizens who failed to evacuate to the feudal lord’s mansion in time and remained stuck near the city’s outer walls. Her focus was on delivering the necessary equipment or healing the injured.
Harman could only smile bitterly at this.
Even the child of a farmer, despite not being a soldier, was giving it her all. Yet how dare he stay weak and unfocused like this?
‘We can endure. We will defend against them. And in the worst possible scenario…”
Harman shifted his gaze away.
Several hundreds of undead were surrounding the Vampire Count like a defensive wall.
‘…I’ll break past that and cut the Count’s head off myself!’
Harman tightly clenched his fist. But then…
The zombie projectile landed in the area behind the silver-haired girl. They rained down from outside of the wall, on top of it, and on the inside right after.
Harman flinched and hurriedly searched for her.
Because of the zombie projectile, all of the soldiers and convicts on top of that part of the wall were thrown down to the ground below. There were many zombies starting to crawl back up to their feet behind the girl.
Startled by this sight, he quickly unsheathed his sword and rushed towards her position.
In the meantime, she sensed movements behind her and looked back. A zombie blankly stood around, looking down at her.
She must’ve been so surprised because she ended up dropping the swords and arrows she had been carrying.
“What are you doing?! Run, child!”
Harman roared out, but the girl didn’t budge.
Without a doubt, she must’ve been terrified silly.
She quietly sized up the zombie. In the next instant, the undead monster finally moved. Its jaw opened wide as it reached out towards her.
‘Dammit, I won’t make it!’
Harman gritted his teeth.
‘I shall use divinity and then…!’
“Oh, the God of War Heim. Grant your power to protect a poor lamb…”
As divinity rushed out of Harman’s body. White particles wrapped around his arms, legs, and his sword, increasing his speed greatly.
Just as he tried his best to reach the girl…
Her eyes suddenly became as sharp as a snake’s. She picked up one of the fallen swords and rolled on the ground to evade the zombie’s reach. While maintaining her steady breathing, she moved the weapon to her rear and unsheathed it.
“…Oh, the Goddess of Mercy and Love, Gaia.”
Although faint, her sword was now emitting gentle light.
Harman’s expression froze right away even as his legs were still taking him closer to her.
“Grant me the power to protect your precious one…”
After kicking the ground and powerfully pouncing forward, she rapidly dug into the zombie’s unguarded torso.
Her right leg was planted on the ground, and using it as a pivot, her entire body spun 360 degrees. Her blade easily sliced the zombie’s head off.
That strike was so clean and fast that it left behind the sword’s afterimage in the air for a moment there. Only then did Harman’s steps come to a stuttering halt.
Her attack was both clumsy and shoddy, almost as if she learned to imitate the movements by looking at a sword training manual. He felt that she managed to execute the unfamiliar sword technique just through her sheer strength alone.
It was rough, but at the same time, truly sharp.
As if to display her explosive power, two-thirds of the zombie’s severed neck was cleanly cut through, but the remaining portion looked serrated and rough. It seemed like she had to forcibly cleave through the rest.
The zombie’s head rolled around like a ball near her feet. The headless creature staggered ungainly before finally faltering down on its knees and crashing to the ground.
Harman’s eyes twitched as he took a look at the zombie’s neck.
‘That was definitely…’
It was the imperial swordsmanship, passed only through the ranks of the ‘Holy Cross Knight Order’ that protected the Imperial Family for thousands of years.
How could a girl from a rural village use the Imperial Family’s sword style?
The girl, Charlotte, looked at the dead zombie and sighed in relief.
Her heart was still pounding hard. Although she froze a little due to the fear, she still ended up pulling through in the end.
‘…My training, it was worth it.’
She briefly recalled the contents of the books back in the monastery – records that contained all sorts of techniques known to the Imperial Family. They were placed there so that the exiled Imperial Prince could at least try to learn them. Of course, he only cursorily glanced at them before completely giving up on learning any of it.
‘What his highness has failed to do, I can do it in his stead.’
Feeling elated by this achievement, Charlotte turned around only to spot Paladin Harman standing still.
“Is something wrong?”
She tilted her head and asked him but Harmon simply stood there frozen stiff.
“We… we won!!”
The soldiers who were protecting the feudal lord’s residence looked at the pile of zombie and ghoul corpses right before their eyes. Even though they had a few casualties, it was still a miracle for these regular soldiers to win so convincingly against ghouls and a dullahan.
“…I really thought I became a Paladin just now!”
The soldiers spoke in exhilaration while looking at their own bodies. The divinity seeped out of them as if it knew its job was over.
However, they still couldn’t calm down from the high they were feeling after living the dream of becoming a Paladin for a brief while.
The one who felt really confused and flustered here was Jenald, though. He was a noble well-tuned to the affairs of the ruling class, which was why he heard more stories about the Imperial Prince than anyone currently present here.
‘His reputations says that he’s easily scared, extremely lustful, and an incompetent child who doesn’t even know how to properly wield divinity, but…’
A kid using a shovel to attack a dullahan was named a scaredy-cat? No, that would be an act of insanity.
And he didn’t know how to wield divinity?
‘Oh my god… just how high are the standards in the Imperial Family that they judged the seventh Imperial Prince as an incompetent failure? Someone who can’t even use divinity?! Could it be that the blessings from the scions of the Imperial Family can heal hundreds of people at once, and… perhaps even revive a dead person? Is it something of that scale?’
Could it really be like that…?
Jenald inwardly clicked his tongue.
He thought that such a thing was nonsensical, but when looking back at the level of divinity the Imperial Prince displayed earlier, his imaginations didn’t seem so outlandish anymore.
Hell, he even began thinking that all those tales from 50 years ago, about the legendary feats the Holy Emperor had achieved, couldn’t have been baseless fantasy anymore.
“…Good! Utilise this momentum and evacuate the rest of the residents to my mansion right now! Escort His Highness the Imperial Prince as well…”
Jenald wiped the sweat off his brows with a handkerchief before shifting his gaze to the Imperial Prince.
He wasn’t there.
The feudal lord was stunned by this sudden turn of events and quickly scanned the surroundings. He called out to some soldiers to inquire about the prince’s whereabouts.
“…My lord, you wish to know where his highness is?”
“He was definitely heading off somewhere along with a company of soldiers. I thought he obtained permission from you, my lord.”
“…He went with some soldiers?” Jenald asked.
“Yes, my lord. Uh…? Y-yes, he… definitely did… But, uh…”
The soldier’s eyes kept looking around in confusion even as he spoke. He could see that the number of soldiers in front of the residence was the same. However, only the corpses were gone now.
But then, the prince left with a company of soldiers?
Jenald and the soldiers’ expressions turned blank, almost as if they had fallen for a spectre’s spell. But this lasted only for a second as Jenald realised that the prince could be in danger. He started shouting out loudly. “Ten of you, follow me! We must locate his highness!”
The feudal lord and his soldiers hurriedly set out into the city to find the Imperial Prince.
(TL: Back to 1st person POV.)
“Gimme a freaking break.”
I gulped down the holy water and discarded the empty bottle. How many have I drunk so far? Maybe around five bottles? Although I feel grateful to be alive, I also feel really bloated right now.
Somewhat like how energy drinks were supposed to work, I sensed the divinity charging back up inside my body.
I continued walking around the interior of the city and chased after the stench of death.
A nearby door shattered and a ghoul jumped out. Its torn mouth opened wide while its claws were ready to cut me down.
The ghoul found itself suspended in the air.
After casting its gaze lower, it finally discovered dozens of spears stabbing through its torso.
I looked at the dozens of [Dead Spirit Soldier] units surrounding me. They were kitted out in the same outfit as the Ronia fiefdom’s soldiers. Since they were wearing armour, their faces were hidden behind veils and helms.
Now normally, I’d have summoned skeletons created out of divinity. However, I tried to conserve my divinity reserve and so, ended up recycling the available corpses with my skill, which led to the reanimation of these undead with their hides fully intact.
The spear blades permeating with divinity in them caused the ghoul to shiver rather noticeably.
Another Dead Spirit Soldier unsheathed its sword and leaped up, rotated its body, and cleanly sliced the ghoul’s head off.
What a nice-looking beheading, that.
“…Although a bit crude, it’s useful in its own way, I guess.”
That was the basic swordsmanship of the Imperial Family.
When I tried to do it in the past, I lost my balance and fell over ungainly, and yet, these Dead Spirit Soldiers could perform them fine, albeit in a clumsy manner.
I sniffed the air again.
We were currently going around the city, searching for the demonic energy-filled holes in the ground to destroy them. Because there weren’t that many and most of them were located near each other, locating them wasn’t all that difficult.
As I continued to walk while sniffing out the stench of death, a seriously disgusting stench hit me hard and I had to cover my nose from how bad it was. I frowned involuntarily.
Even before I noticed it, I had reached the Ronia fiefdom’s outer walls. The most intense battlefield at the moment, in other words.
“Hurry and ready the equipment!”
People, probably the civilians, were busy carrying around quivers filled with arrows on their backs, while spears and swords filled up their hands.
“Oil! Bring more oil and fire!”
“We need more stones!”
“Damn this, f*ck…! Those things are still coming! Sh*t!”
“Uwaaahk! I’ve been bitten! I got bitten!”
Even though the convicts yelled out loudly, they still didn’t forget to fight against the hordes of undead infiltrating the city from the top of the walls as well as below it.
“I n-need healing…!”
“There are too many injured!”
“Since the venom and demonic energy permeated into his flesh, we need to slice it off!”
Numerous Priests could be seen busily running around here and there, moving the injured and healing them.
“A complete madhouse, eh,” I commented before putting the beak mask on.
Sure, my Dead Spirit Soldiers looked completely different from other zombies, but still, I’d be in a heap of trouble if they got found out. I mean, hiding my identity just in case wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Since everyone here was wearing the same masks, differentiating who was who should be impossible, I thought.
I approached the group of Priests urgently healing the injured.
Large pieces of cloth were placed on the ground. The wounded soldiers and convicts were laid down on them. The Priests, wearing beak masks to ward off both the venom and contamination from the demonic energy, rolled up their sleeves, cold sweat continuously dripping down their bodies.
“Demonic energy and toxins have invaded his internal organs!”
“What about letting him drink holy water…?”
“No. His body is too weak. Drinking holy water will only damage his internal organs from the adverse reaction. He’ll die at this rate. Dammit! We’re cutting open his stomach!”
“Get ready to operate! Bring me recovery potions, not holy water! What about anaesthetics?”
“We don’t have the time! The operation has to be done without it. We need to cut out the demonic energy invading his internal organs. If not, his intestines will start rotting away!”
Those wearing the beak masks hurriedly moved around while pulling out scalpels and all sorts of medical tools for operation. They then proceeded to cautiously cut open the patient’s stomach.
“Uwah… Uwaahk… Uwaaaaahk!!”
The soldier’s eyes grew increasingly larger as his belly was sliced open. The poor sob now had to witness his body being dissected in real-time.
Man, this wasn’t even a scene from one of those ‘Saw’ movies, so why… How gruesome…
“No, don’t! Stop! Y-you’re killing me…”
Since he wasn’t anaesthetised, he unsurprisingly began thrashing about in pain.
“Ah! Arghh!! I-I don’t want to die! I still haven’t… I haven’t… confessed to her yet…”
Hey, dude. That’s an obvious death flag.
I began staring at the dying soldier in sheer dumbfoundedness.
Just as I began thinking of that, the whites of the guy’s eyes could already be seen, his breathing threatening to cut out at any given second. I couldn’t stand by and watch this happen anymore.
After taking out a bottle of holy water from my item storage, I went up to them.
“Damn it…! Hold on, man! I said, hold on! If you lose your consciousness now, it’s all over… Eh? Who the hell are you?”
I simply poured the holy water into the opened up stomach. The other beak mask-wearing Priests were stunned by this sight and freaked out.
It was understandable, though.
Because the internal organs tainted by demonic energy immediately exploded from the adverse reaction, that’s why. Blood splattered everywhere as bits of flesh landed on the Priests’ masks.
“W-what the… You son of a b*tch!”
One of the Priests angrily grabbed hold of my collars. He probably was earnestly trying to save the man’s life, regardless of whether his patient was a real soldier or a convict.
“What the hell are you doing?! This isn’t time for your pran…”
I lightly tapped his mask in a way similar to knocking on a door and pointed at the dying soldier.
The Priest stared at my finger for a second as if entranced by it, before following it to look at the soldier on the ground.
“…What the hell is this?!”
The damaged internal organs began regenerating. The exploded parts disappeared only for the newly-grown organs replace the void.
“Ow… Ow… Uwaaahk! It hurts! It freaking hurts, man! F*ck, what the hell! My stomach, it’s… Sh*t, you stinking Priest bastards! What the hell have you done to me! Uwaaahk! It hurts! Uwaahk! You sons of b*tches! You devils!”
The soldier, who was on the death’s doorstep a second ago, suddenly roared out in unbridled pain. Eventually, though, he couldn’t endure it anymore and passed out.
“What are you doing? He’s going to die like this. You better stitch him back up right away.”
My ‘polite’ suggestion caused the Priests to flinch a bit. They hurriedly began closing the man’s open stomach and sewed it shut. Then, they injected their divinity to heal the injury.
The soldier must’ve survived since his breathing seemed calmer now. I took out another bottle of holy water from my item window and tossed it at the Priests.
The Priests alternated their gazes between the holy water on the ground and me.
“Make sure there are no more casualties. No need to unnecessarily increase the number of undead, now is there?” I said.
“Y-yes, we understand!”
The Priests replied politely and nodded their heads.
It seemed like they were dying to ask me lots of questions, but at the same time, they must’ve realized that now wasn’t the right time judging from how they all returned to caring for other patients.
“Just how bad is the situation that it’s gotten to this point?”
Twenty thousand undead. Even if they possessed siege weapons, wasn’t our side wasting too much time dealing with these slow-poke creatures?
I led the Dead Spirit Soldiers up the fortress’ outer wall.
< 020. Imperial Prince is Bestowing Divine Protection -1 > Fin.