Chapter 10 – Territory (4)
Tirste looked up. The forest was filled with myriad shades of green. His thirty-seven knights under him were strewn all around him, lying quietly for all eternity amongst the decaying leaves. They were killed quite some time ago.
The sword injuries on the young Viscount were throbbing with pain, and every time he took a breath, he felt needles poking into his lungs, causing him to feel dizzy.
He turned his head to look at the ghastly knight staring back at him in the shadows. He realized that he had most likely fallen into a trap.
[The information came from the Unifying Guild’s internal department, and there’s the proof of the Oubourous sigil— Unless Megeska is a damned traitor.] (TL: Megeska is from the Unifying guild and also the commander of the Silver-Winged Cavalry)
Tirste expelled the air in his lungs with a bloody cough, and he subconsciously searched for the sword that was knocked away from him. But even if he was in peak condition, there was no way he could fight against the opponent before him.
That knight covered in emerald-green armor injured him with the very first strike. His strength was beyond common sense, and what surprised him the most was how it did not even use its Element power.
It defeated him with pure skill.
Tirst was unable to find his sword and he turned to the altar made out of white rocks in front of him. It was constructed on a ground that was void of foliage. The longsword was placed horizontally on the altar’s flat surface. Its blade was simple and ordinary, but the hilt’s grip handle was intricately made with golden-red sigils. A golden lion’s head jutted out from the center from the cross-guard with its mane extended from bone sides.
Three unknown heroic spirits, their runic names written on the blue gem just above the lion’s head, blessed the sword, bestowing the king’s merciful, braveness, and impartial nature onto it.
It was just a few steps away from the sword, but the Knight of the Lake stood in his way, making it seem as though there was an endless chasm between him.
Any normal man would run away, but Tirste gave a sneering laugh.
He was gravely injured and knew that he was about to die, so he hardened his heart and crawled to the sword. Blood flowed freely from his thighs and abdomen, revealing the deadly wounds that stopped him from even standing up. Yet he crawled forward with his left hand, while his right hand attempted to staunch the bleeding wound from his heart.
[Even if I die, I’ll be closer to my goals than anyone else!]
As Duke Grinoires’s illegitimate son, he quickly understood the cold-blooded nature of the world. If there was nothing to rely on, then he would rely on himself. Being weak meant losing everything. He had worked hard to gain the position he had currently. Certainly, he could be seen as having great ambition, and he would defy the world even if it meant giving up his life.
The earlier battle he and his knights had against the Knight of the Lake kept playing in his mind as he crawled towards the sword. He was unable to find that moment where the Knight of the Lake stabbed his heart.
But halfway through his destination to the Lionheart, the Knight of the Lake turned away; its sword was returned back to its sheath, and it walked away without saying anything. It adhered to the oaths of the knights of the old era, and would not attack anyone who had lost their ability to move.
[What’s going on?]
Tirst looked at it in confusion, not understanding why it stopped attacking. But he did not let this opportunity slide and put in even more effort to reach the sword. The distance was gradually shortened, and he finally laid his hand on the hilt.
The moment he grabbed the sword, a sudden warmth entered his entire body. He felt energy coursing through him, as though every pore within him was able to sense the world around him. His injuries itched for a moment before they repaired themselves.
He lowered his head to look at the wound on his heart, and discovered it was already gone.
Tirste stared at the Lionheart, but to his surprise, the light on it that had enveloped him was rapidly fading away.
It was turning into stone.
He was startled and nearly threw the sword away, afraid that it was somehow going to turn him into stone as well. However, when he took another closer glimpse, he could not see any signs of magic on it. He carefully felt the blade with his finger tips; it had already turned into rock.
He looked at it in confusion. Based on the strange event earlier, it ought to be the Lionheart sword as it invoked a holy power, but it was now a rock in the shape of an odd-looking sword. There was a strange feeling in his heart; it was as though the sword was rejecting him. The sword was clearly in his hands, but it did not feel like it was here.
He finally glanced at his surroundings again. He and his knights had searched this place carefully, and there did not seem to be anything else in the vicinity. The item in his hands was probably not a fake, but there was no answer to why it had changed. He looked back at the shadows carefully. The Knight of the Lake should be there somewhere, staring at him.
But it still did not appear even after he took a few steps away from the altar.
He sighed with relief and decided to bring the rock back with him.
“This trip is truly a nightmare…..” He shook his head hard and ignored the corpses around him, picking up another longsword as he started walking out of the forest.
============== Brendel’s POV ================
The Sage Slate in Brendel’s hand finally stopped. It was the first time it had resonated this long. Everyone was staring at the artifact until it stopped vibrating before they cast their eyes back at Brendel.
The prison fell into an uneasy silence, with the occasional dripping sound of water from somewhere far away.
“A sealed Sage Slate, Lord Trentheim?” Bosley said.
Even though he was a prisoner, or perhaps Brendel’s temperorary retainer, his attitude did not diminish in the slightest. He was almost expressing himself that he was likely to go back to the Royal Faction anytime, but Brendel did not seem to react to his actions.
It surprised him and made him feel uneasy, almost believing that he would be better off being imprisoned. But the warm fire and promise of fresh air stopped him from thinking.
Brendel glanced at him and appeared as though he had understood his thoughts. He had took on the role of Guild Commander in the game, but he had never gotten his own territory and acted as a lord. Even if he was in the position now, he did not feel like he was one.
Moreover, his attitude seemed to be acknowledged by the people who followed him. Amandina had to agree that his usual easygoing attitude solidified his men as a group better, although the most convincing aspect was how he seemed to have endless confidence in himself. She believed it to be charisma from a unique person.
“You know what this is?” He asked with a curious glance at Bosley.
“Sage Slates— They are described in the Poem of Grey from the Miirna and the witches to be fragments of the Stars. They are able to establish relationship to Fate itself, and in truth many mortals know much about the Sage Slates. Seers use them to find prophecies by having the Sage Slate establishing a resonance with something else. With the hints from the reaction, they are able to foresee the related events in the Sage Slate. The Saint Statue is able to see the future in the same way. As long as you place them on the Saint Statue, you would be able to receive the answer your heart wants—”
[Indeed, the gamers have validated these rumors themselves. This setting is in the game. But knowing that it’s sealed? Not everyone understands one of the oldest runic words. Perhaps as a blacksmith for the royal family, hearing rumors about it is natural. Understanding them is abnormal…… Though I doubt he’s bluffing here.]
“Indeed, this Sage Slate is sealed. Since you understand these things well, can you tell me what the words on this Sage Slate mean?” Brendel asked.
His question was actually forcing the impossible to happen. Even he did not understand what the chicken scribbles meant; though he guessed it had to do something with the Lionheart.
“Let me see…..” Bosley received the artifact almost smugly, but his face gradually turned solemn. Very soon, both of his hands were trembling. “The symbols of the kings, the saints…..”
He rubbed his eyes and looked at it again, before he took a step back with disbelief and looked up at Brendel, almost like he was testing the waters: “The Lionheart?”
Brendel’s face was even in a state of shock when he heard the name.
Scarlett let out a small yelp. Even though she did not understand what all the fuss was about, as an Aouine’s citizen, she had heard the most famous story about the King Erik the kind, and the Lionheart sword he possessed. She wanted to ask Brendel for confirmation, but he already answered in a hoarse voice:
“How did you know?”