Author's Note: Phew, finally! I wasn't able to write anything for a year since my PC got bricked, and, well, I had to save up for a new one.
I'm really sorry about the lack of updates by then.
On another note…
For any Non-Battle Scene inside a castle, please play "Ancient Castle Stage" from Devil May Cry 1
For any Non-Battle Scene that takes place inside a place that has floors and walls of flesh, please play "Ancient Castle Basement Stage" from Devil May Cry 1
For the scene that involves fighting hell demons for the first time, please play "Normal Battle" from Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne
For the scene that involves fighting hell demons for the second time, please play "Fierce Battle" from Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne
For the scene where a Dullahan is fought inside castle halls, please play "Psycho Siren" from Devil May Cry 1
For the scene where a Dullahan is fought in the wilderness, please play "If It's For You ~Song 4U~" from Tales of Xillia 2
That's all for the OPTIONAL BGM's for this chapter. They're not really needed for the enjoyment of the story. They're just there for [Atmospheric Effects]. Whether you play them or not while reading specific parts is up to you~
That's all for the notes, folks!
Monster Girl Encyclopedia:
Bonds are Unbreakable
"A Violent Party of Blood and Lightning"
The sounds of rain repeatedly pierced through the carriage. The cold air kept entering through whatever gaps the carriage had, causing the 4 passengers inside to start shivering slightly. The temperature had lowered to the point where the current occupants where breathing out small mist from their mouths. One of them is a young woman, around seventeen years of age. She has long orange hair that reached her hips, her bangs framing her face and reaching near below her chins, complimenting her beauty. She wears a armor equipped only by the high ranked heroes of the order. Her blessed sword rests by her side, ready to be drawn by a moment's notice.
The other 3 occupants are wearing a full set of armor belonging to the Order's infantry, leaving none of their discernible facial features visible. At this point, only their voices would be the only thing to recognize them. Each one has their sword and shield resting by their sides, all ready for sudden combat as well. One of them, unable to stay silent from the cold, decided to find a way to distract himself and his comrades from the embrace of cold.
"Lady Eristia, are we really sure that there is an important divine artifact in that abandoned castle? I know that it is in a location behind a monster city, but, that city is a neutral zone under a peace and trade treaty. I'm sure that if there is something of importance that is hidden in there, they would've told us a long time ago." One of the soldiers asked. The orange haired woman, named Eristia Vitral, turned her sight towards the soldier, her expression stoic, and her voice nearly monotone.
"Even if they did know, they cannot do anything about it. They cannot handle what lingers inside that mansion, after all." Eristia replied.
"Is it a powerful monster living inside that place, Lady Eristia?" Another soldier asked. However, Eristia shook her head in reply, before taking a deep breath and making her answer as clear as possible.
"Not, it is not a monster that has been locked in there." Erisita begins, her voice serious and deep, "Hell Demons. Those are the things hiding within the depths of that abandoned castle."
The rest of the passengers fell silent. As each one of them is familiar with the stories, Hell Demons are enemies that even a high ranked holy knight must not take lightly. Even taking down just one will require much effort from humanity's side, their battles with the hellish abominations being the epitome of 'Nightmarishly Difficult, but not Impossible'. While it was never confirmed who won in the war between Humanity and them, the fact that they suddenly disappeared anyway was quite a relief to the people of the past and the present. It was because of their disappearance that humans were able to properly prepare and fight back against one last enemy; The Monsters of the land.
The carriage makes a sudden stop, indicating their arrival at the official cavern entrance to the underground City of Lunaria. The passengers got off the carriage, and with weapons in hand and wearing a cold, unyielding face, the Holy Knight Squadron under Eristia Vitral marches for the abandoned castle of the former Demon Lord Dierdre…
"Before we enter, I shall ask one more time; Are you sure about your decision of joining this expedition…Darwin, Claudios, and Reid?" Eristia asked the three Order Knights behind her. In response, the three Knights raised their weapons in respect.
"Darwin of House Lionhart will not back down, Lady Eristia!"
"Claudios of House von Aegern will fight to the death for the Goddess!"
"Reid of House Astrea will fight by your side til the end, Lady Eristia!"
"…Very well. Then let's move onward, knights!" Eristia commanded, earning a roar of approval from her knights as they headed for the direction of the abandoned Demon Lord's castle…
Levant took his first step into the castle. He felt a strange sensation in the air as he stepped onto the main hall of the castle, sending a chill down his spine. It was as if all the confidence he had earlier before the gates evaporated in an instant. Even with his and Wilmarina's foot steps loud enough to echo all around, the silence of the place was still enough to engrave an unsettling sensation in his chest. All he could focus on was the clanking of Wilmarina's armor. As an Assassin, he was trained to move in absolute silence, to shut down his heart as he breathes. But now…even the cold looking metal of Wilmarina's armor looked much more warm and safe than his own robes.
It was as if…somewhere around this wide hall with 2 floors with eight doors each and a large set of stairs in the middle, someone…something was watching them. Something that they couldn't see. Even for an Assassin like Levant, or a powerful Hero like Wilmarina, this place really gives them an uncomfortable chill.
It was as if they were submerged in icy cold water then sent inside this unsettling castle.
The two then stopped their steps, and looked around. Seeing the number of doors seemingly required to split up and search for any open door, but…the chilling sensation they keep feeling argued against that. With a silent agreement through an eye contact, Wilmarina and Levant decided to check the doors of each floor together. The two begins their search of the doors starting from the left side of the hall.
First door checked. It had a broken lock, having seemingly rusted and rotten to dust from its prime.
Second door, also with the same situation.
Third door, same.
Fourth one…it has some large doorknobs that can be pulled, and had no locking mechanism. It would've been easy to open…had it not been for the chains with a large padlock around it.
"Locked, too, huh? Wanna go for the next one, Marin?" Levant offered to his childhood friend, who somehow twitched, and was going slightly pale. The Assassin looked in worry, and decided to let his worry out before anything dangerous might happen.
"Marin, you're getting pale. Are you really okay for this? We can rest for a bit, you know?" Levant asked, his voice filled with concern.
The Hero shook her head urgently, "No, no, I'm alright! Rather, let's keep moving, and search for the entrance of the place where the scroll is hidden. I just…wanna get out of this creepy place as soon as possible." Wilmarina declared, her body trembling slightly. For her, just being in this place felt really unpleasant…it reeks of evil. It was as if the very air of this place is gripping her heart with a cold hand and making it shrink in fear. In fear of something dangerous awaiting the right moment to eat her up whole. And she can't see where it is…
The pair then proceeded to head for the doors at the other side of the main hall. Unlike the first four doors they checked, the ones on the other side were…looking maintained. This rung an alarm in Wilmarina and Levant's heads. Unlocked or not, they will have to stick together.
For it appears they are not alone in this castle, after all. And just in case the time comes to greet the residents…they will have to be prepared and tackle things side-by-side. With Wilmarina giving a silent to Levant's looks, the pair slowly approaches the door, and checks the door knobs.
Just like the rest of the door, it was not rusty, and appears well maintained and recently used. This…is quite a very obvious trap. Nevertheless, Levant and Wilmarina tried turning the knobs…and found out that they're unlocked. Wilmarina gives a silent signal to Levant, who, with his honed stealth, silently and slowly opens the door with none of the usual resulting creaks at all.
It took them a few seconds till the Assassin has one half of the door fully opened.
What the pair found inside astounded them.
It is a wide room, its walls seemingly forming a circle all around. One half of the room is an area of dark green marble floor, with the door that Wilmarina and Levant stood on being at its farthest edge, and two sets of stairs that ran along the walls leading towards a second floor starts from the two directions beside where the door stood. A single, large chandelier gave light to the entire wide room, albeit its light did not give anything but an ominous shine.
Meanwhile, on the other half of the room, facing the door on the first floor is a large pool of water with an altar, where a painting of what appears to be two people stood. One which appears to be a female demonic being wearing a wedding dress, having a pair of intimidating horns on her head, and her eyes are bright crimson that reminded of blood. The other one appears to be a human man in a groom's clothing, having no other notable feature other than his hair that had the color of the deep sea, and his eyes which were bright gold, like the rays of the sun. From what one can see, his facial expression outright says that he's an energetic, fun loving person. The walls around the pool and the altar appears to have holes shaped like swords, from which the water of the pool appears to flow from. In the middle and deepest part of the pool, a single large drainer shaped like a shield sucking the pool's water just at the right speed to prevent the pool from either drying up or flooding around.
"Wow…this place…it feels so different compared to the main hall. It's so…calm, like I'm taking a bath beneath a clean, cool river." Wilmarina says, walking close to the water and watching the depths. It feels like watching the water is healing all her stress. Meanwhile, Levant makes a smirk on his face, walking beside Wilmarina as well.
"Oh my, didn't know you were quite the poet, Wilmarina Noscrim. Did the Order taught you to recite dramatic lines while arresting criminals or something? Wanna make me a limerick?" The Assassin teased the Rookie Heroine, a big a childish smile on the former's face. The latter raised her eyebrow in annoyance.
"Fine. Levant, Levant, what a cocky prick." Wilmarina replied, with a straight face on.
Levant only laughed harder.
"Wow, Marin, keep it up and you'll be the next Shakespeare! In fact, I think they'll be famous among those dabbing in necromancy! Think of how the dead would want to rise just so they can kill themselves again after hearing your written works! Truly a marvel of this generation's literature!" Levant teasingly retorted back. Wilmarina took a few seconds to digest the Assassin's words. And when she did…her face grew redder than tomatoes, even though she has quite the smile.
"Eh?! How dare you, you…you degenerate! Jerk! Jackass!" Wilmarina slightly shouts as she playfully punches Levant. And by playful, it's a punch that's in the same force as the kick of a stallion at full power.
"OW! Hey, that hurt! Ouch, my arms! I'm sorry for insulting your barely existing poetry skills, okay?! OOF!" Levant complained even as he did not resist Wilmarina's playful punches. However, before they could keep on playing around, the sound of a door opening from the 2nd floor on the other side of the wide room placed the Rookie Heroine and the Assassin in alert. As it appears, looks like the residents, if there are any, have appeared. Or maybe it could also another explorer, or bandit looking for treasure in this old castle of demons.
Wilmarina gave a silent look to her partner, instantly giving the latter an idea of what they must do next; To see if there's someone upstairs.
The duo unsheathes and readies their weapons. They then took the stairs on the left side of the room, slowly and carefully proceeding for the 2nd floor.
The two eventually reached the 2nd floor. The air up there was…cold. The area felt unsettling, disturbing, even, when compared to the rest of the room. It was as if it was in a different dimension. Levant and Wilmarina gripped their weapons tighter, and as they reached the door, each one of them placed themselves on each side of the large double door, placing one hand on the thing respectively.
The door creaked as the two opened it, eventually fully revealing the insides of the room. What greeted them was a wide room, with wide, tall opened windows, with its velvet curtains being swayed by the wind from outside.
In the middle of the room is a pedestal of a dark velvet color, with a strange looking, double-edged great sword stabbed onto it. The weapon has the head of a jet black dragon biting the blade, with the wings of the dragon acting as the guard of the sword. The hilt has a swirling pattern leading to skulls at the bottom with a spike pointing out. The sword's blade is so smooth, that it looks more like a fragile mirror shaped like a sword than an actual blade made of metal.
To Wilmarina, the sword gave a dark omen, and is something that neither she or Levant must touch. To Levant, however…
"Ugh…my head…!" The Assassin fell on his knees as he clutched his head, as a searing pain made itself known within his brain. In response, Wilmarina quickly went to her childhood friend's side, kneeling on one knee and gently but urgently checking his head for any wounds.
"Levant?! What happened? Where does it hurt?! Levant, are you listening?!"
The moment his eyes landed onto the strange sword, two different voices suddenly rang in his head. Voices both familiar and unfamiliar…
And yet, both of them gave him a strange, nostalgic warmth in his heart…
'My dear Celice…'
'I'm so sorry…'
'But I cannot be with you…'
'Lady Deirdre, are you sure about this?'
'Yes. It may not be the same, but even if it's just my appearance, then, it should be enough…'
'…I understand. Then, I shall swear; this appearance shall be what I'll take until the very end of my days as a human.'
'Please, take care of my dear Celice, Mi-'
"Levant, no!" Wilmarina's voice shook Levant's consciousness away from the strange voices. However…
When the Assassin finally comes to his senses, he finds his right hand now tightly gripping the ominous looking sword in the room, and as a result, azure colored lightning bolts danced and roared all over inside the room, piercing the walls and burning the curtains. At the same time, a velvet colored glyph is summoned unto the ground, its design causing Wilmarina panic as she recognized the design and purpose of the glyph; That it is a defense system type glyph meant to teleport away thieves or intruders within one's home. Normally this glyph is something that's found within a royal castle, or the convent of priests and priestesses…
The Rookie Heroine rushed to reach the hand of her childhood friend, only for the teleportation glyph to activate right before Wilmarina even managed to move, engulfing the room in a bright velvet light. When the light subsided, Levant and the strange sword was gone. What was left was Wilmarina herself, and…Levant's dual short swords on the ground. Wilmarina was about to scream in despair, only for her trained mental fortitude to instinctively reign her emotions in, allowing her mind some form of clarity enough to allow herself to think properly.
"…No, I cannot panic here!" Taking a few deep breaths, Wilmarina purged most of the panic in her mind and heart, and retained her focus. Putting her sharp mind to work, Wilmarina proceeds to dissect what happened just now.
What took Levant seemed to be a base defense glyph, a type of glyph meant for teleporting thieves or intruders away to a prison cell or a room which the glyph was connected to beforehand. Which means that Levant is mostly unharmed, and is likely in a prison cell right now. However, seeing as how his weapons, his twin short swords, are on the ground, it means that Levant is still defenseless. And from what she remembered from childhood, Levant isn't one to trust magical items, which means that he likely won't use the ominous sword that he caught nilly-willy.
This meant one thing for Wilmarina;
Find the entrance to the underground rooms, and she'd better do it fast.
"Wha…what in the world?!" Eristia shouted in alarm as the floor of the entire main hall of the castle is suddenly covered with a base defense glyph, one which she recognized as a teleportation type. However, before the newbie heroine could call out to her allies to run like she is doing, the glyphs instantly activated, leaving only Eristia in the main hall, and nobody else.
"Shit…I knew there was someone else around here." Eristia commented as she unsheathed her sword, slowly heading for the ominous looking door at the second floor at the far end of the main hall. From this point, she has two choices; To look for her comrades first and face the main boss of the castle to deactivate the magical traps laying around, or go straight to searching then killing the spell caster and save her allies that way instead.
And based on her experience so far, Eristia chooses the latter option.
Whoever this spell casting bastard is, he should die first.
The newbie heroine then heads for the stairs, eventually reaching the double door at the second floor. As she was about to touch the knob, the door on her side suddenly opens with great force, revealing…
"…Eh? Aren't you Miss Vritral, from the Monster Slayer Corps?"
"…Lady Wilmarina! You were here as well?!"
Meanwhile, Levant found himself at a rather…unpleasant place.
No, unpleasant would be an understatement of the century. No, rather, the correct word for this place he's in would be…
It's fucking horrifying.
Having had his training all over many continents around the world by Al Mualim of the Assassin Brotherhood, Levant was a well-travelled man. He has been to the greenest plains of the main continent, the icy mountains of the north, the scorching deserts, the roaring seas of the world, the deep underwater caves of Alexandria, but…
Never had he stepped foot on a cave with pulsating flesh for its walls and floor. In fact, there appears to be veins pulsing with what maybe be blood on the walls of flesh.
"What…what in the fucking hell is this? It's as if…as if the entire area itself is alive. I'd better get my blades-oh…how in the hell?! Where'd my dual blades go?!" Levant nearly shouted at the loss of his weapons. He looks around more carefully, and finds no dual blades. But what he does find stabbed onto the ground a few feet away from him, however…
"That strange sword again…Seeing as how it sent me in here, I don't think that picking it up would be a good idea-"
A shill scream interrupted Levant's monologue, causing him to twitch in surprise. A scream…it can only mean one thing.
Someone is under attack. Which means that Levant might need to interrupt and help out. And for him to help out, he'll a weapon that isn't his hidden blades, poisons, or throwing daggers…
The Assassin sighed as he gave the ominous looking sword a glare. There is no time to hesitate. Someone's life is in danger, and he can't waste time moping about wielding a demonic looking weapon. This isn't the time for such idiocy…!
Levant runs for the sword, grabs it with his right hand, and…
"Woah, what in the-AGH!"
The moment the Assassin's hand gripped the hilt, multiple bolts of velvet colored lightning shot out from the sword, and struck Levant multiple times. The bolts didn't really fry him, however, but it did paralyze the entirety of his body, with the exception of his lungs and his heart. The Assassin could not say anything with his paralyzed mouth as the demonic sword floated up the air…and pointed its sharp tip at him.
At that moment, a powerful voice rang in Levant's head.
"I am Alastor. The weak shall give their heart, swear their eternal loyalty to me and shall spend the rest of eternity as my sheath. The strong shall grip me by the neck and conquer the world with my power!"
"Show me your mettle, fiend!"
The sword flew towards Levant faster than the speed of sound, impaling the Assassin in the chest, and then nailing him to a nearby wall of flesh, causing blood to splurge out of Levant's wound and the walls. Levant tried to pull the sword out, only to fail, the sword seemingly stuck to the wall of flesh.
"Damn it! Damn it! Of all times!" The Assassin had started squirm harder, but to no avail. Dark thoughts had began to well up in his mind. Is this the end for him? Will he be fail in escaping this place? Will that person who needed help die from his incompetence, too?
Will he end up making Wilmarina cry from his stupidity again?
"No…I can't die here…no matter what happens!" Levant breaths in. He tried to think what happens when he tried to pull the sword. When trying to pull it out, there seems to be some invisible force pushing the sword further the more Levant tries to pull it out. It's like trying to remove an item that is being held by a dog via its mouth-
"Ah. I see. If pulling won't solve it then…Oh this is gonna hurt. But no matter. I'm going to leave this place. A missing lung isn't so bad…!" Levant thought as he decides to try out his new method of escape; Push through the sword itself, right or left lung be damned.
The Assassin groans in deep pain as he pushed himself through the sword and struggled to keep his consciousness at the same time, and he starts screaming in pain as he pushes himself through the dragon head and the dragon's wings portion of the sword.
"It hurts, but I can't stop!"
"I haven't avenged my mother yet."
"I haven't killed Rodrigo Noscrim yet."
"I can't let Marin and Primera cry again."
"I can't inflict grief to Sasha and Mimiru."
"I don't want to disappoint Merse."
"I still haven't taken Francesca from the castle yet."
"I can't die here, no matter what!"
"Power…I need more Power!"
And within a few seconds, Levant escapes the demonic sword, lying on his knees on the ground and is out of breath, blood dripping from both his chest wound and his mouth. One of his lungs were cut, and it's hard to breath. His consciousness barely hang on, as he even has to force his eyes to wander back to the now bloody sword, and within that instant…
…His body moved on its own, his right hand instinctively grabbing the sword. The moment he tightly gripped the weapon, lightning bolts danced around the Assassin's body and started piercing through everything in the entire room of flesh as he felt a large surge of power igniting within him, as if something that was asleep has awakened after a long time. The black pupils in his eyes turned into shining silver, the extreme pain in his chest disappeared instantly, his body feels a hundred times more lighter than before, and a sensation of strength burned in his heart, as if to say…
"So…this is what power feels like!"
As if in response to his excitement, the dance of lightning bolts around him intensified and exploded, frying and burning the walls and floor of flesh around him. Levant smiled. Not only did he survive, he has gained what he has always wanted the most;
The Assassin then touched the area where the sword pierced him…only to find out that only the clothes were left thorn; That explosion of power just now also healed that fatal wound he took. Levant looked at his healed chest for a few seconds…and laughed as he fell on his knees. He couldn't believe it. He literally just survived getting impaled on the chest by a large sword, and not only that, he gets a sweet bonus from doing so, too.
Before he could continue celebrating, however, the scream from earlier rang again, reminding Levant that somebody seems to be attacked…and needs help right now.
With new strength and weapon in hand, Levant runs to the direction where the scream came from, intent on helping the person in need, and testing out his new power…
"Please…stay away from me! I never took anything from this mansion, so please…!" A young female elven mage begged as she felt her body weaken, her mana already low and leaving her harmless as a result. She has long, straight golden hair that reached below her hips, jade colored eyes, long pointed ears common amongst elves, and ivory colored skin. She wears a white blouse beneath a long sleeved green coat, a light green mini-skirt, a belt with a bag hanging on her hips, white thigh-highs on her legs held by white garter straps, and a pair of high cut green shoes on her feet. A staff is held by her right hand.
Approaching her are two tiny monstrosities, around two feet tall.
They have sunken, mummified skin, narrow limbs, an enormously distended belly and a long, thin neck; their appearance, as so, reflect their state of insatiable hunger.
These beings are the low-tier hell demons known as the Preta, a spirit that originates from the mythological and religious texts from the far east, as well as in Zipangu. Generally, they are the spirits of greedy, jealous or corrupted people who have become, for their negative karma, demons with an insatiable appetite for a particular substance, that can vary from corpses to anything bizarre. And unlike regular hell demons, Pretas can be best described as something that's barely intelligent, and would only act on instinct, attacking even the highest ranked hell demons out of hunger, even the former Demon Lord. Hence, all Pretas were sentenced and cursed to be never be able to leave the fleshy underground areas of the former Demon Lord's castle.
And for tonight, their meal is going to be a tasty, magically flavored elf…
However, before any of them could reach the elven mage, Levant rushed and jumped from the shadows, brandishes the hidden blade from his left hand, and pierces it into the head of one of the Pretas as he landed, causing alarm to the other one, who then proceeds to rush at Levant, opening its large mouth and attempting to take a bite off the Assassin. In response, Levant swiftly side steps to the left, causing the demon's attack to miss, and allowing Levant to cut its head off with a single diagonal swing from Alastor, whose blade danced with lightning bolts that burned the Preta to ashes as it was slain. The Assassin then checks back to the other Preta, who lay dead on the floor still. This surprised the Assassin, as he remembered that his hidden blade, made of Demon Realm silver, was not supposed to be able to harm neither monster or human, and yet, that thing he just stabbed it with literally died, so…
If they're not monsters then…could they be the hell demons Saphirette warned him about?
And right after taking down those two, more came out from the corner of the fleshy hall. Around six of them, in fact. Levant grinned in anticipation. Looks like he just got a lot of opportunities to test out his new weapon. With how light his body feels now, it shouldn't be too hard to start blitzing around this kind of enemy…
The Assassin rushes forward at inhuman speeds, slicing through the first Preta who foolishly charged alone. Two more of those hell demons rushed in, intent on hitting Levant with their bony arms and fists, to which Levant responded by speedily dashing through their attacks, before instantly executing a pirouette followed by a quick, powerful slash with Alastor, slicing one Preta in half diagonally from one shoulder. The other Preta left rushed in for a bite, only for the Assassin to casually side-step the attack and jam a hidden blade through the Preta's right eye and straight to the brain, before pulling out.
The three remaining Pretas managed to surround the Assassin, slowly circling around him. They were a little too close, which meant that at the moment Levant has slain one, the other two can find an opening. Normally, the best option would be to find a way to get out of being surrounded, but…
Levant decides on a second option. Taking a deep breath and feeling power building up within him as he focused, Levant stabs Alastor to the ground.
Using the weapon as an anchor, the Assassin takes his feet to the air and starts an attack of continuous spinning kicks, hitting all surrounding Pretas with a kick straight to the nearby walls and destroying their initial tactic of surround and conquer. With all three knocked hard onto the ground, Levant uses his newly acquired inhuman speed to rush and chop down all three hell demons before they can get up, finally finishing the fight.
The Assassin then rests Alastor on his right shoulder, and turns his attention to the elf, extending a hand to her as he approached. The elf felt her heart beat fast as she takes the hand of the person who saved her.
"Are you wounded anywhere? If not, can you still stand and move?" Levant asked the elven mage, earning him a nod from her as she takes the Assassin's hand, and stands up with his help.
"…Yes, I'm mostly fine. I was simply drained of mana after I fought at least hundreds of those things." The elven mage explains, dusting off her clothes. To think she'd meet someone down here…the elven mage thanked her luck for that. However, someone else being in here means that they, too, might have encountered that base defense glyph from upstairs. Which means that…
"Say…were you also taken down here by a teleportation glyph too, mister…?" The elf asked.
"Glyph? Oh yeah…Yep, I was taken down here by one. Some 'abandoned vacation castle' this place is. Not to mention those…things we just met. 'Abandoned castle for thousands of years', my ass. That scholar just dumped all the work on me!" Levant ranted, before catching himself and sheepishly scratches his head as he tries to introduce himself, "Sorry about that. I'm still glowing with the adrenaline from the fight. My name is Levant Zanvolt, a Templar under Lescatie's branch of the Holy Cross Templars." Levant explains, using the designated introduction template that was instructed to him by his teachers at Masyaf. 'No matter what happens, do reveal yourself as part of the Assassin Brotherhood unless you are talking to a superior or to a fellow ranked member' were his teachers' words.
The elf looked surprised for a few seconds, before breaking down in small laughter and introducing herself, "And my name is Angelica Springwood, a mage from the elven empire of Aselia, serving directly under Princess Seria Aselia. Thank you for helping me back there, Mister Zanvolt." Angelica made a slight bow of thanks to the Assassin, causing him to wave his hands in panic.
"I didn't do anything worthy of that bow, Miss Angelica. Please raise your head! And just call me Levant. I'm…not really big with overly formal stuff." Levant declared.
Angelica indeed raised her head, with a soft smile on her face. Although, deep inside, she is actually quite surprised. The humans she has met so far were always so drowned in arrogance and is so vocal and loud about what little accomplishments they have done in their life, even more so when they're gloating about in front of a member of another race. It was as if they truly believe themselves to be above all others. And yet, these very same humans would also preach about humility when it suits them, while never acting the part. However, this Templar in front of her…he was strange. He is calm, did not hit on her 5 seconds after first contact, doesn't gloat about how he saved her life, and most of all, he has this…serene scent about him, as if he's someone whom Angelica can at least trust no to do something funny. Well, when it comes to strangers, anyway. That, and the human still has not asked for anything at all ever since saving her, only showing genuine concern for Angelica's wellbeing since then. It was more than enough to ignite a warm feeling inside the elven mage's chest.
"That hood he's wearing makes him a little too sinister, though. That, and I can't see what he really looks like. I wonder if I can get him to remove it somehow." Angelica mentally commented. If there's one thing she wishes for right now, it would be to see and remember the face of her savior. Even if just once. A high elf must always repay their debts, after all, and Angelica can repay hers if only she could see and recognize the face of her hero.
"Very well. Then feel free to call me Angelica, as well." The elven mage replied.
"Alright, Angelica it is, then." Levant takes a quick glance around him, before turning back at the elven mage. Now that he thought about it…didn't Angelica say something about having no mana? If they were to leave right now in that state, that would be suicidal. If the tales Levant hear dabout hell demons were true, then taking a mana-less mage with him around enemy territory is outright stupid.
"You said you're out of mana earlier, right? Wanna take a quick rest to recover a bit of it before we head out of here?" Levant offered, earning him a pause and then a nod from the elven mage.
"Yes. I could really use one right now. Oh, and don't worry about hurrying up; I've got a few mana potions left to speed up the process." Angelica replied, before taking out a vial with blue liquid from the bag on her belt and started drinking it.
They sat on the fleshy floor with their backs at a nearby wall of flesh, deliberately ignoring the pulses from within to favor rest. And not wanting things to get awkward, Levant decides to strike up a conversation.
"So…this might be a funny question to ask, seeing our current predicament, but, how did you like the main continent so far? From what I've heard, Aselian elves rarely, if ever leave their capital city, much less to go on adventuring in isolated, hell demon infested castles, so…I'm kind of curious as to what you think of the 'Human Territory' continent." Levant started, earning him an unreadable look from Angelica, who then proceeds to try and remember what she has experienced all the way before her expedition to this castle of a former Demon Lord.
"Well…If we're talking about your continent's capital cities, then…I find the division between the shiny portion, the violent portion, the noisy market portion, and the dirty portion a bit confusing, and they're all stinking with a horrid scent. Isn't it a citizen's duty to keep the entire city clean and peaceful? Your taverns, most especially, feels like a philosophers gathering area…except that the philosophers are noisy, witless drunks. That's even to mention the filthy air all over the city! No matter where I go, it's so hard to breath. Do your people in the cities even clean the streets at least once a day?" Angelica replied, making Levant laugh a bit. Those four 'portions' she mentioned…she must be referring to the Noble's District, the Military District, the Trading District, and the Slums. Although, she's gonna have to get used to the taverns. No changing humanity's favorite past time of drunken philosophies, debates, and brawls. Well, maybe not as bad as the Vikings of the Northern Regions, but it's still damn fun.
"Although, when it comes to the natural areas, like the forests, plains, plateaus, mountains, rivers, beaches, even the seas that surrounded the continent…the humans have done a good job. I've seen how loggers will always have an assistant who plants five new seeds for each tree cut down, how the animals are hunted on a non-lethal pattern against the ecosystem, how humans would always make sure to do a daily disposal of incombustible trash by using a decomposition spells to convert those trash into fertilizers or extra crafting materials…compared to the other continents, the humans in the countryside areas of the Main Continent are actually hard working and nature loving. I still do not like the taverns even over there, however. That's all I can say." Angelica finished, making a soft, satisfied smile. Levant can't help but agree. The countryside is ironically cleaner than the nest of nobles and royalty in the capital city. Well, they have natural resources all over there and never having the problem of hunger unless there's a famine, but, at the same time, the countryside villages also lack the protection of the city guards, knights, mages, and rangers. There's always the risk of bandit attacks and most especially, monster attacks.
Oh well, there's always the bad with the good, Levant thought.
"What about you, Levant? What do you think of any elven village or city you've visited?" Angelica asked, as she believes it's now her turn to be curious of the other side's point of view.
"Well, elven villages, for the most part, are quiet, peaceful, and really clean, too. The fruits and vegetables are always top notch, the music, the architecture, and the weaponry are amazing, too. I've only seen such similar things on another elven village, but never anywhere else in the world…" Levant began, making the elven mage smirk with pride…
And then Levant added more, "Although, on the other hand, your cuisines are, to be putting it gently, quite shit. Your alcohols are always the same flavor and kind, looking at them makes me lose hope in life. The hostile and inhospitable reception to visitors kind of makes the thought of revisiting kind of impossible, too."
Angelica felt her jaw drop, her pride as an elf taking a cannon shot to the ovaries. In a moment of sparkling rage, she makes her reply, "Well, human cuisine isn't that good, either! Your drinks too! It's so barbaric and tasteless. Who in the world drinks beer?!"
"The people with working taste buds and has drunk something else that isn't just 'O MY SACRED ELVEN WINE FERMENTED UNDER FORNICATING PRIESTESSES BY THE MOONLIGHT' for two hundred years straight, that's who! I mean, who drinks wine mixed and fermented with love juice?! Did you know how horrified I was when I first discovered that?" The Assassin retorted, now smirking in amusement at Angelica's reactions. Man, elves are so fun to tick off, Levant thought. This entire conversation reminded him of the entire year he teased Primera for accidentally giving herself a bowl cut. The half-elf's seething face was really memorable for Levant back then.
"Wha-how dare you! A moonlight priestess' nectar has always been pure, for her body has never been touched by any man or woman! It is a sanitary choice. In fact, it cleans the wine of all its impurities!" Angelica retorted, her face now deep red.
"I don't really think putting fresh love juices into your freaking wine counts as sanitary practice, priestess or not. I mean, come on, you don't do that to fine wine no matter what kink you're into! That's just outright degeneracy!" The Assassin replied. This caused multiple veins to start plopping on Angelica's forehead.
However, before the elven mage can make her reply…
The clash of steel against flesh coupled with war cries interrupted their chat. Levant gives Angelica a look that asked if she's ready, and she nods in return. The two stood up, and ran to where they can hear the noises of a battle.
"Just how many of these things are there?! There's just no end to them!" Darwin screamed in frustration as he killed his 8th Preta with his saber, only for two more to come out of nowhere. He swiftly avoids the bites the hell demons throw and cuts them down right after in quick succession.
"And no matter where we run, they keep coming out!" Claudios complained, before mowing down 3 more Pretas right in front of him using a halberd. In response, 3 more Pretas popped out from the corner. The knight wastes no time dashing towards them and mowing them down with but a single swing as well.
"Such persistence, such difficulty, such numbers…Is this how humanity repeatedly lost against these abominations in the Holy Wars?!" Reid questioned as he smashed a trio of Pretas flat with his great hammer…only for another one to drop kick him from the side, sending the Order Knight flying to a nearby flesh wall. Before he could get up, Reid found himself pinned down by two different Pretas, with mouths open…
"Reid, no!" Claudios screamed as he rushed, but alas…
"Blizzard Artes, Form 4: 'Ice Needle Barrage'!" Angelica, having gotten in spell casting range, launches her spell, which summoned forth an ice blue colored glyph above the Pretas. Sharp stakes of ice, around the size of a large knife, rained from the glyph, finishing off the two Pretas that held down Reid, allowing the knight safety from impending doom-
"Reid, above you!" Darwin shouted, causing Reid to look up, and find three Pretas falling from the ceiling, mouths open-
"Yeah, don't even think about it!" Levant commented as he ran at an amazingly fast speed and jumped towards the three Pretas. The Assassin then grabs and throws Alastor like a lance at one of the Pretas and nailing it dead on a nearby flesh wall, before brandishing his hidden blades on both hands and stabbing through the skulls of the two remaining hell demons as he reached them on time in mid-air, before using them as a cushion for his drop on the ground, planting his hidden blade deeper onto the Pretas' brains and finally finishing them off with a sick sound of their skulls and brains being crushed further.
"I see. By all admittance, my body in its previous state wouldn't have been able to do that stunt just now. That surge of strength in my chest really was not my imagination after all." The Assassin then quickly runs to where his sword was, grabbing it and running back to the fallen Reid.
"You alright, man? You can still fight, right?" Levant asked as he helped the Knight stand. Ins response, Reid gave a nod and a look of appreciation to the Assassin and his elven mage ally.
"Yes, I am fine. And I am grateful to the two of you for that. But, for now…it seems that there's more incoming!" Reid says in alert as he hears more footsteps from the other end of the fleshy hall, causing him to ready his weapon. The other two knights and Angelica readied their weapons as well, and so did Levant after rushing in front of Angelica protectively to make sure her spellcasting isn't interrupted.
"Knights, assume vanguard formation! Let us be the first obstacle this hell demons face!" Claudios ordered, causing the other two knights to nod in affirmation and rush to Claudios' sides, intent on protecting the Assassin and the elven Mage out of gratitude from earlier. Levant, out of everyone else, was largely surprised. From the way those knights spoke…they are no doubt nobles, part of those snotty, dickish group of people that made life in Lescatie a lot harder while looking down upon others not of the same social status. And yet…these three knights acted like none of the noble-born knights Levant had encountered. How is this even possible, Levant asked himself before returning his focus on the upcoming enemies. Angelica, seeing that the defenses are good, prepares a wide area hitting spell.
Ina few minutes, fourteen Pretas rushed in, all looking irritated. Claudios rushes in executes a wide swing, mowing down 4 in one swing. The moment his attack finished, 2 Pretas rushed in to exploit the opening from that Claudios' attack…only for their necks to meet the swift swings of Darwin's saber and dying just as fast as they reacted to Claudios' vulnerable state. Four more Pretas, running closely with each other, rushed towards Darwin, who then runs as fast as he can…before making a sudden barrel roll to his left as Reid charged forward and smashed flat the four hell demons into a red paste.
The last four Pretas rushed for Reid…only for two of them to literally lose their heads from a spinning Alastor Levant threw. The Assassin then follows up with a poisoned throwing knife to the right eye of one of the two remaining hell demons, blinding it into panicking from losing an eye. It takes but 3 seconds for the poison to fully reach its brain…causing the hell demon to fall dead on the floor. The remaining Preta then tries to rush for Levant…only for the Assassin to throw a finely broken vial of poison at its eyes, putting it in a panic in blindness as Levant rushes in and brutally nails the Preta's head on the floor with his hidden blade.
The Assassin then wastes no time retaking Alastor from a nearby flesh wall and rushing back near Angelica, who has just finished preparing the spell for another incoming horde…
And another horde of thirty did arrive, merely seconds away from after finishing the previous one, much to the knights' consternation and to Levant's annoyance. However, before any of them could rush in…
"Everyone, please move back a bit. I shall now cast a large spell!" Angelica declared, and started chanting as the knights and Levant moved aside.
"Blizzard Artes, Form 11: 'Diamond Dust'!" Angelica chanted, summoning forth a large, ice blue glyph in front of her, the glyph's size covering both the width and height of the fleshy hallways perfectly. In a split second, a an extremely strong blizzard blew from the glyph, as if someone has just opened a portal to the northern realms in this very place, instantly freezing both the fleshy hallways and the thirty Pretas in fifteen inches thick ice, before breaking down into pieces. For the thirty hell demons, they broke down into crystal-like gore thanks to all the broken ice…
The group did not say anything, and waited patiently in case of another horde, with Angelica preparing another spell…
Around fifteen minutes passed, and there was no enemy coming out.
"…It's clear. Phew." Levant says as he takes deep breaths to relax his heartbeat, before turning his attention to Angelica, who then proceeds to voice out her thoughts.
"Let's leave. I don't want to wait for another horde." The elven mage declared. Levant felt relief. He really didn't want to stay in the presence of nobles-
"Then would you mind if we were to join you on the way out? We, too, would like to come back to our superior. She must be frantically searching for us. Oh, right, I forgot to introduce myself and my comrades!" Claudios makes a bow as he introduced himself, "I am Claudios von Aegern, a Knight Templar under the Lescatie Branch of the Holy Cross Templars. I would like to thank you for saving my friend Reid earlier. I am glad to have met such skilled warriors like you two!"
Levant twitched. A noble who's also an actual Templar? Really? Must have been brain damaged enough to wear equipment and doing dirty jobs meant for a foot soldier rather than wearing his Templar combat equipment.
"And I am Darwin Lionhart, a member of the Lescatie branch of the Knights Hospitaller. I would like to thank you for saving Reid as well. I am pleased to meet you both." The knight named Darwin introduced himself as well, and bowed befitting the manner of a nobleman.
"And I am the man you saved. For that, I am grateful to you two for life. My name is Reid Astrea, a member of the Knights Hospitaller just like Darwin here. Nice to meet you two!" Reid introduces himself, bowing down in respect as well.
Levant sighed internally. For all he knows, these three noblemen might just be pretending to be polite and kind because they wanted a chance to shag the elf in the vicinity, or that they didn't want to show their true colors in a place that isn't Lescatie, image of the noble's family and all. He may not like it, but the Assassin decided to play their game for now. He'd at least like to avoid looking like a rude prick…to the elven mage at least.
"And I'm Levant Zanvolt, member of the Discreet Mamono Suppression Department of the Holy Cross Templars. Nice to meet you, Templar Claudios, and his two Hospitaller friends." Levant introduced himself while bowing slightly, causing surprise to the trio of knights, not expecting a member of the rather infamous Assassin Brotherhood to be someone they'd encounter in the flesh, considering their usual elusiveness and lack of presence. Claudios most especially, his eyes widening for a few seconds before returning to normal. However, their surprise ended when Angelica cleared her throat to get their attention.
"And I am a currently off-duty mage from the elven empire of Aselia. My name is Angelica Springwood. Nice to meet you, Templars." The elven mage introduced herself, proud in her tone, something that the knights somewhat expected when it comes to elves.
"And now that the introductions are done, let's get moving. I'd rather be out here sooner than later. Don't you agree?" Levant asks Angelica and the knights, who nods. Well, at least they all have common sense. Sure, there's his mission to look for the scrolls Saphirette wanted, but, he sure as hell not doing that unless he has Wilmarina around. For now, he should find a way to reunite with her.
An eerie silence was present amongst the group as they traversed the empty halls of flesh. The silence only breaks with the occasional encounter with Pretas, but they're not really as many as they were earlier, and thus, the fight would end quickly. However, instead of chatting up after a fight, Levant and the others preferred silence…for each of their different reasons.
Levant, while he really does want to chat it up with Angelica, can no longer focus as his irritation of the nearby nobles is taking away his mood for conversations. Angelica is still waiting for Levant to start talking, and does not trust the scent of flames coming from the three knights, Reid and Darwin are nearly tired, and Claudios is contemplating and needed the silence to think…about why a combat-able personnel and a potential Knight Templar is just an unblessed, suicide assassination fodder, as well as the presence of an elven mage from the isolated empire of Aselia, whose people are infamously xenophobic, they don't look at other races as living beings.
"How in the world? This skilled combatant in front of me is an unblessed one? A cannon fodder meant for suicidal assassinations?! That's impossible! The Templars are so pragmatic to the point where they would never miss out on any potential combatants on their ranks, recruiting even the closest battle maniac who can expertly throw piss-pots at people, so how-wait…" Claudios paused as he made a speculation on what he has just witnessed, particularly, how someone so skilled in combat somehow didn't catch the eye of the Templar examiners at Lescatie, based on what he has seen and experienced, "Ah, of course. It must be the usual politician, noble, or priest having grudges and bribing the officials to alter the entrance exam results again. And as usual, it is up to us Templars to correct the results of that idiocy…Looks like that one extra ring I brought back at the carriage will find use, after all. On another side…there's the elf from the infamous Aselia Empire. I honestly thought she'd talk down to our faces about being uncivilized monkeys hanging about in demon infested castles, but…she's just really silent and asocial to anyone that isn't the Assassin. However, that would mean she isn't a national threat, as a watchdog of the country basically has eyes on her most of the time, even more so when that watchdog is the only person she willingly talks to in the group. So, for now, cooperating with them to leave this place would be the optimal option."
After a while, however, Reid breaks the ice.
"So, Sir Levant, what brought you to this old castle? The usual scouting job just like your Department entails, perhaps?" Reid asked his hooded savior, who looks back at the knight before answering.
"I am here because I'm currently on vacation, bored to death, have nothing to do with my life, and found the design of the castle inspiring and life changing as I passed through the street in front of it. So I went inside and triggered a teleportation glyph for kicks and giggles." Levant replied in a dry tone. Well, he is bullshitting on each and every word, so of course he's gotta act the part of the cold, heartless cannon fodder Assassin. And besides, he has no business telling them of his mission anyway. Not without his actual superior, Wilmarina, around. That, and talking with nobles is really tickling his murder bone.
"Hahaha, sorry about that, Sir Levant. I shall not go further." Reid scratched his head with a smile on his face, believing that Levant just subtly told him that he has a mission of the confidential nature. Deciding that he shall not bother the Assassin, he turns his attention to the elven mage. Elves, for the most part, aren't really the best conversationalists when it comes to talking with humans, but, Reid believed he still should try. Angelica also saved his life, after all.
"How about you, Miss Springwood? Were you touring the castle…?" The knight asked.
Even as she replied, Angelica did not bother looking at Reid, "I'm pretty sure I said I was off-duty when I introduced myself. So, yes, I was indeed exploring around when one of those teleportation glyphs caught me by surprise. Was it the same with you and your friends as well?"
"Yes. As the three of us and our leader, Lady Eristia-"
"Reid, you may stop right there." Claudios cuts off Reid, who quickly realizes that he was about to spill confidential mission details, and decides to shut up, much to the amusement of a smirking Angelica. Humans can be so much of a dork, they turn adorable at times, she thought. Meanwhile, Levant felt like palming his face from laughter, which he barely suppressed. Is the Knights Hospitaller gonna be alright like this, he asks himself.
The party eventually reaches a large door. It appears to be made of metal, with strange letters no one could read. Levant and Claudios moves in closer first, and slowly opens it, only for the door to creak loudly anyway. Claudios gives Levant a look of panic, causing the Assassin to shrug and just signal to open the damn door with force. They do so, and what greeted them gave their eyes rest from the horrifying walls and halls of flesh they just traversed for quite some time now.
Inside the door was a large room, with blue marble floors and walls. Two sets of long stairs can be found on two opposite ends of the room, with one leading upwards to a door that resembled those Levant saw in the castle with Wilmarina, and the other staircase leading downwards to a door full of golden colored chains. In the middle of the room, however, is a pedestal with an item that's boxed in a crystal, an item which Levant quickly recognized…
"That thing…it looks like a scroll…and if I remember correctly, Saphirette wanted me to look for the magical scroll that can be found within the depths of the castle. And seeing as how that door at the end of the ascending staircase resembles those I've seen at the main halls…that means I'm in the depths of the castle where I'm supposed to find my target. My target which is now in the front of my eyes…" Levant smirked. Not only does he gain a powerful artifact to strengthen himself with, he gets to finish his mission at the same time, too. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
"That door up there…it's of the same design as the ones in the main hall…" Darwin pointed out, causing his two other allies as well as Angelica to look, and relief struck their hearts as they recognized the door's colorings and design.
"Thank the Goddess! We're finally out of here!" Reid says with great relief, while Claudios just smiles in a relaxing manner. Angelica, meanwhile, placed her attention back on Levant…
The Assassin walks for the pedestal quietly but quickly…before breaking the crystal protection, earning the attention of his allies. But Levant didn't care. He simply takes the scroll, and then turns to face the knights and Angelica.
"Well, we're done here. I'll be taking my leave. See you later, Templars, and Angelica." Levant makes a mocking bow, before heading for the ascending set of stairs. Before he could even reach the stairs however, Claudios calls out to him in alarm.
"Wait, where are you going with that? Do you even know what that is?" Claudios asked, only for Levant to shake his head. This overly heroic types are really annoying, the Assassin mentally commented.
"I don't know. And I don't care. I was sent here by a scholar and a Hero to retrieve this, and that's all there is. Bye." Levant says before turning his back on the three knights and the elven mage, and heads for the stairs. However, as he was about to reach the door, Angelica shouted. But this time, it wasn't to stop him from leaving, nor was it about questioning his motives. It was…
"Levant, above you!"
"Wha-Son of a bitch!" Levant screamed as he dodged a dropping thrust attack from an armored figure from above. The ground where the enemy sword had landed cracked, indicating a great physical strength and weight behind the said move. Levant felt cold sweat rolling as his back as he realized that fact. Had he not dodged, he would have been…
"…One more inch and I would've have gotten myself a hubby. Tch, why do elves keep cock-blocking me everywhere?! Damn bloody knife-ears!" The armored figure complained. Levant would've went straight for the head and knock it out…had it not been for the fact that the figure not only didn't have a head, but…
…It also held its own head, completely telling Levant of what kind of being he's facing right now.
"It's…it's a Dullahan monster!" Levant internally screamed. A Dullahan…a monster said to be on par with an elite Holy Knight or a Templar Enforcer in sheer combat skill. Not to mention all the sword artes and magic the monster has access to, due to being a former human warrior. Basically, an enemy that Levant cannot encounter and fight right now. And thus, the Assassin realizes he has three choices.
One, he could take the obvious route and go back to his acquaintances downstairs, and fight the dullahan together with them.
Two, he could take the most idiotic choice and fight the monster here and there. Which, of course, would result in an obvious loss, and…something worse after that.
Third, he can take the most desperate route, and…find a way to rush towards the door and escape, prioritizing his mission.
"Say, mister dark and handsome…can you give me that scroll in your hands? If you're lucky, I'll let you go with just a kiss, I promise!" The dullahan offered. However, it was that moment Levant made his decision…
"I'm getting outta here!" Seeing as how he is in a desperate situation, desperate measure had to be taken. Getting the scroll to Wilmarina must be prioritized. And thus…
"Are you sure you should be saying that…?" Levant smirked, before putting his sight behind the dullahan, "When there's a hero with a sword behind you?"
The dullahan twitched in alarm and nearly dropped her head. A hero?! Behind her?! Wasn't the door closed?!
In panic, the monster instantly twists her entire body to face the large door and puts on a defensive stance. And in the very moment her back was turned…
"…Gotcha." Levant whispered as he lands a powerful horizontal swing at the dullahan's leg using the blunt side of Alastor's blade. The moment the attack hit, lightning bolts danced around the dullahan's body, paralyzing it and causing her to fall over and drop her head at the same time, her face having a clear look of surprise just like Levant's, who, in turn, did not expect the lightning bolts but is thankful for it anyway. In that very instant her body fell down the floor, Levant screamed at the knights and Angelica downstairs.
And thus, the Assassin ran into the door and into one of the halls of the castle, followed by Angelica, Claudios, Reid, and Darwin. As they ran, Angelica caught up and gripped Levant's hand, who, in his adrenaline and rush, also gripped tightly but gently, causing Angelica's heartbeat to start rising and her face slowly becoming red even as she kept on running for her life. The three knights behind them made a look that said 'Ah, so that's the situation between the two of them' before making heartfelt smiles…
Meanwhile, the dullahan, having just recovered from the lightning inflicted paralysis, saw the degenerate hand-holding from where her head lay on the floor, thanks to the knights leaving the door open. The monster fumed as she realized the reason for the recent cock-block she just experienced, shouting her anger and frustration as she ran.
"You damn knife-ears! Once I catch your man, I'm gonna NTR the bloody shit out of you! I'll make you watch as his mind breaks from being milked dry by my body! Just you wait, you bloody tree fucker!" The dullahan screamed as she ranted about how elves are the most degenerate beings on this planet and screaming why she always hates those snobby tree hugging pricks…
The group managed to find an open door and hid themselves in the large dining room of the castle, putting a barricade on the door they went through as a precaution. As they sat around the table thinking of what to do next, Levant chimes in and proceeds to initiate a plan he has been cooking up since encountering the dullahan.
"Claudios, I have something of great importance to entrust you and your friends. A matter that will heavily affect the diplomacy between our nation and an important group of people outside the country. Can I be assured that you won't stray from what I will instruct?" Levant asks, his tone serious and a bit ominous, allowing three knights to realize that the Assassin, indeed, is serious. The nobleman of the von Aegern gives a nod with a deathly serious look as he gave his reply.
"I will. Give me your instructions, fellow Templar." Claudios declared.
Levant makes a satisfied sigh, and takes out the scroll he took from earlier, "Here. I was sent here on a mission alongside with the Hero Wilmarina Noscrim, you see, which was to retrieve this scroll. What I want you to do is to give it your all to give this scroll to Wilmarina Noscrim, and only Wilmarina Noscrim, no matter what happens. She might still be looking for me in the main premises of the castle, and if she's no longer in there, look for her in the city of Lunaria. When you finally reach her, give this to her, and tell her that I need reinforcements against a dullahan type monster, as I can't do anything than bait it away from from you guys and hold it off. Can I entrust you with this, Claudios von Aegern?" Levant asked sternly as Claudios and the two other knights' eyes widened at the mention of Wilmarina's name. He hates having to do this, relying on a nobleman, but he has no choice. He was the one whom the dullahan saw with the scroll, and thus, he's the one who'll get chased once they open the door and run through the hallways.
Giving the scroll to someone else is the only way he can make sure it won't fall in the monster's hands. He would've given this to Angelica instead, but, seeing as how she isn't a member of the Order, she might be treated as suspicious instead, and Levant doesn't want that kind of treatment for a person whom he can tell has a kind heart.
"I swear on the name of my family, the von Aegerns, and on my honor as a Knight Templar, that I will not fail the important task you shall entrust me with, even more so if it's a matter that will affect the entirety of our country. I shall put even my life at stake just to ensure this item will reach Lady Wilmarina. You have my word!" Claudios made a respectful bow as he finished, causing Levant to finally hand the scroll to the knight, who carefully and gently puts it inside one of his bags hanging from his belt.
"Very well. The moment we remove the barricade, and open the door, I want you four to run, and don't look back, alright?" Levant says as he removes the barricades on the door, and readies to open it. The three knights prepared to run, and indeed, as Levant opened the door fully, the three noblemen sprinted out with great force and as much speed that their feet can provide them, heading to where the main halls might be. Angelica, however, remained, causing the Assassin to give her an incredulous look.
"What are you doing? I said to run, didn't I?" Levant asked, his tone serious.
"And I refuse to leave. Like hell I'm leaving you alone to face something like that monster." Angelica says, readying her staff, "And don't try to make me leave. I'm not gonna budge anyway. So like it or not, you're stuck with me for the meantime! Hmph!" Angelica ended with a pout.
Levant sighed, and conceded to the elf, "Fine. Just don't go crying at me when we start losing, alright?" The Assassin declares. Looks like there is not shooing this elf, after all. And besides, that look in Angelica's eyes…it reminded Levant of Primera. That stubborn, unyielding expression...is it something common amongst female elves or something?
"Okay. Now that we're done with that part, let's go with the battle plans! First let's discuss what we have in our arsenal right now…" Angelica began, as she takes out and chugs an entire vial of a mana potion, "In my current state, I can at least fire off seventeen more spells before being dry again. I have spells for the elements of lightning, ice, water, fire, wind, and earth. What about you, Levant?"
"Well, I have throwing knives, poison to put on those knives which can paralyze monsters, a magical sword that can also send lightning to whatever it hits, and a pair of hidden blades made from demon realm silver. That's all I have." Levant explains. Angelica's ears perked up at the mention of Demon Realm Silver. If she remembered correctly, those things absorb the demonic energy from any monster it strikes at an astonishing speed, making it the go-to weapons by elves when facing monsters with a heavy reliance on magic abilities. And from what Angelica remembered, dullahans are basically the equivalent of the elven magic knights back at Aselia, warriors that rely heavily on magic to cast offensive spells and body reinforcement spells, which means that…
An idea pops up in Angelica's head.
"I presume you know how Demon Realm Silver works, Levant? Since you equipped it willingly and all." The elven mage asked, earning her a nod from Levant. A smirk graces Angelica's face as she received the reply, and proceeds to gesture Levant to listen closely…
"I have a plan. And I will need both your memory and your skills in stealth for this…" Angelica began explaining her plan, earning her an impressed look from Levant as he kept on listening.
At the end of the explanation, Levant felt only little of the fear he had from earlier. If he and Angelica can pull this plan of hers off…then, he just might be able to make it back to Wilmarina's embrace after all. However, a worried look makes itself known on the Assassin's face.
"Are you sure about this? That plan of yours…it sounds a little bit painful for you. Is this really what you want?" Levant asked.
"We are fighting an Elite-Level Monster from the Demon Lord's faction here. We have to give it all we got, or else we'll be prisoners and toys for that monster and her friends. Are you ready, Levant? There's no turning back once we head out that door." Angelica asked, having a serious, but determined look. Levant, having seen the elven mage's determination, proceeds to agree. They can't hold back. They must win this, no matter the sacrifices.
"Alright, I'm ready. Let's do this!" The Assassin replied, heading for the windows of the dining room, while Angelica headed for the door…
The dullahan twitched in surprise as she heard one of the doors open from the other end of the hall. The monster turns her attention over there, and finds the elf from earlier, looking ready for a fight. The dullahan smirked. To think she gets to have her sweet stress relief before finishing her mission…!
"Well, well, look who showed up! Looks like you didn't want to lose your man, after all! And her I thought you'd hide up a tree-house somewhere instead of fighting like an honorable warrior, like the uppity snobs you knife-ears are!" The monster taunted, only for her to receive a glare from Angelica.
"As expected of a monster from the Demon Lord's faction. Not only are you barbaric and vulgar, you are quite lacking in the brain department as well. In fact, you are making the human Vikings look like geniuses at this very moment. Are you sure the likes of you can land even a single hit against me, when you can't differentiate your right hand from your left? How delusional." The elven mage retorted back. That one, however, actually struck a nerve on the dullahan. The monster unsheathes her sword, and points it at Angelica.
"You sure have guts calling me an idiot to my face. Fine, I'll kick your ass so hard you'll regret being born in this world, you uppity cunt! I'll make sure to mess that pretty face of yours so much, your man will never get boners from looking at you ever again!" The dullahan then takes a battle stance, "I am Eresh Astrea, proud knight of the fourth princess of the Demon Realm, Lady Druella!"
"And I am Angelica Springwood, elven mage of the elven empire of Aselia, serving directly under Princess Seria Aselia. I shall put a stop to your rampage right here, and dump that empty head of your in this castle's burial ground!" Angelica declares, activating her mana and readying all the quick casting spells she knows.
"En garde, bitch!" The dullahan roared, charging towards Angelica, who counters back with a spell.
"Earth Artes, Form 2: 'Rock Wall'!"
A wall made of smooth, hard stone rising from the ground then greets the charge of Eresh, causing her crash onto it with a loud noise, her armor and equipment not helping. She jumps back just as quickly, with an irritated expression on the head that she is carrying.
"That hurt, you jerk!" The dullahan roared, charging up her mana. Seeing this, Angelica proceeds to make another counter.
"Water Artes, Form 4: 'Lotus Geyser'!"
An explosion of water, resembling a lotus flower, shot up from the ground, sending Eresh straight to the ceiling and gets slammed back to the ground by gravity. But no, Angelica was not done. She chants another spells as the dullahan got back up and start charging towards the elven mage.
"Wind Artes, Form 5: 'Wind Blast'!"
A green glyph appears in front of Angelica, which then fires a very strong blast of wind, sending Eresh all the way to the end of the hall, slamming the dullahan to a wall. The latter, however, has had enough. Eresh charges up her mana and demonic energy, causing flames of velvet and black to dance around her body, increasing her strength, durability, and speed. With a single breath, she charges towards the elven mages at a speed that carried her from one end of the hall to right in front of Angelica, preventing the elven mage from casting anything, and thus…
"Augh-!" Angelica grunted in pain as she takes a straight punch to the gut from Eresh, who then follows up with a spinning kick that sent the elven mage flying to a wall. Angelica tried to get up as fast possible, only to take another kick to the stomach from Eresh that sent her straight to the middle of the hall, with small drippings of blood now coming from the elven mage's mouth.
"Hah! Not so tough now without a vanguard to help you cast spells, huh, cunt?" Eresh says with a smug tone as she picks up Angelica by one of her arms, lands a knee onto the elven mage's stomach, and slams her to a nearby wall, with Angelica shouting in pain as a result. As Eresh closes in onto the elf, Angelica still manages to get up, and smirk at the dullahan.
"That face…are you going crazy from just that beatdown, elf? Heh, and here I thought you were as tough as the way you talk down on others!" Eresh taunted, but the expression on Angelica's face didn't fade. In fact, it got smugger, causing discomfort to the dullahan, who now can't help but worry.
"No, I'm not crazy yet. I'm just feeling happy. After all…I've won…" Angelica says, before throwing down an empty vial of mana potion of the dullahan who got surprised and had to parry it instead of dodging. The vial broke, its shard landing on the right eye of the dullahan's head, causing her to scream in pain and panic. With that distraction up, Angelica proceeds to chant another spell.
"Lightning Artes, Form 1: 'Thunderclap and Flash'!"
Angelica's body is suddenly covered in lightning bolts. Eresh, having recovered her eyesight, proceeds to strike her demon realm silver sword at the elven mage…who disappears in a flash of lightning. The very same lightning bolt lands and disappears at the other end of the hallway, leaving Angelica herself in that place.
"It's over." The elven mage declares.
"What do you mean-AGH!"
The dullahan's was cut off as Levant jumped from the chandelier above her, and lands a stab with his demon realm silver hidden blade at the stump where Eresh's neck should be. This area, in particular, will allow the hidden blade to absorb an amazingly large of portion of the dullahan's main source of power; Her demonic energy.
And absorb all that energy, the hidden blade just did.
As Levant pulled out his weapon, velvet colored mist arose from Eresh's body, and all flew straight to the Assassin's hidden blades. The Dullahan felt herself extremely weak right after, as her supply of demonic energy now ran really low, causing her body to fall down once again. Seeing the enemy incapacitated, Levant rushes for Angelica, who's obviously hurt.
He then princess carries the elf, much to her pleasant surprise.
"You did a great job back there. Let's hurry and get the closest priestess or doctor to heal you, alright? Let's go." Levant tells the elven mage with a smile The latter, in turn, wanted to tell the Assassin that she had healing spells of her own…but…
"I guess this isn't so bad after all." Angelica thought, resting her head on Levant's chest, "Very well. Then let's hurry. I'm tired, and famished too."
"Leave it to…me?!" Levant yelped the last part in surprise, as he felt someone grip his left foot…
The Assassin looks back, and finds the dullahan responsible for the grip.
"It's not over yet…It's not over yet!" Eresh screamed, summoning a teleportation glyph below her. Levant did not even have enough time to throw Angelica into safety as the glyph instantly activated…
Levant, with Angelica still in his arms, finds himself in the wilderness which he recognized as the area right above Lunaria, except that it is now a moonlit night. The glow of the moon and its light, felt warm and comforting to Levant. As if…he's getting more and more focused as he watches the bright sphere of light in the sky…
This moon watching however, was interrupted with the heavy breathing of Eresh, who, much to Levant's shock, looks healed from how she was down at the castle. Gently placing a worried Angelica onto the ground Levant turns to face the enemy…only to feel a hand grasp his own. He looks back at Angelica, who's holding the Assassin's hands as tightly as she can, before speaking.
"Please…I'm begging you…should things get too difficult, leave me be and run. A kind person like you…you must live, no matter what. Don't waste your life for someone like me…" The elven mage pleaded…only to receive an angered look from Levant.
"And here's my reply; I adamantly refuse. I'd rather die first than leave you here." Levant retorted.
"…Why? Why go so far just for…me? A stranger you just met? An elf, at that? For what reason are you doing all of this?" Angelica asked, wanting to know why someone would do something like this. A human, at that. Why go such lengths just to help someone from a race that looks down on you? A stranger, no less? Just…what is with this man's mind?
"Reason? I don't need any. I will not abandon anyone who clearly needs help, no matter what. That's all there is to it. And besides…you never left me to fight alone, and even stayed when I told you to leave. And I am grateful for that." Levant declared as he lets go of Angelica's hand and turns to face Eresh.
No, this isn't simply out of altruism. It's because…
For Levant, Lescatie is the shithole it is right now exactly because nobody wants to help the other without exchange. People leave others alone to die or suffer rather than help, because they know they won't benefit from such action, and that they might end up getting into trouble for it. And they're not wrong. But…at the same time, the Assassin believed that it doesn't mean he should be like those assholes and leave others to suffer!
To be left alone, even as you cry for help, for companionship, for justice in the middle of a sea of people, and not even a single one answering your cries of despair…Levant knew what it was like. In fact, he used to nearly fall into the same apathetic, cynical mindset as these soulless beings called 'humans'.
And yet, when these very same heartless scum called humanity kept telling him that no one will ever come to his aid, Sasha and her mother saved Levant and his mother, and brought them shelter and food.
When these very same humans would always comment that the people of the slums are humans who can never find happiness nor satisfaction due to not being born with a golden spoon in their mouths, Levant's siblings at the orphanage never stopped smiling and laughing despite all the hardships.
When humans would always preach about how brotherhood is nothing more than a temporary partnership as long as one benefits the other, Ramir kept helping Levant out of so many problematic and sticky situations, even those that are completely detrimental to him. Levant's best friend stuck with him through thick and thin, and the Assassin could not ask for anything more.
When these very same humans would point out that genuine familial love does not exist, for the all the love and affection involved are done simply out of cold obligation, Levant's two most beloved little sisters, Elisha and Silmeria, always looked up to him and would always tell him how much they loved him and how is the best big brother in the whole world every day, despite the fact that Levant isn't always exactly able to bring food to their tables back then.
When these very same humans would always point out how other people cannot be trusted, for they will just abandon you the moment they find something else that can benefit them better, Primera never abandoned the Orphanage even as she became a Top Class Hero, never leaving Levant's side on each and every single time he asked for help from her.
When these very same humans would always cry that the strong shall only step on the weak, and never help them, Mimiru came into Levant's life, and helped him and his siblings with a lot of things that he couldn't have gotten by himself, such as higher levels of education and learning that he can never provide to his brothers and sisters at the orphanage, since they do not have enough money for schooling. Mimiru did not care about Levant's status in life, she helped him so much despite gaining nothing from it, and even volunteered to be both a playmate and a teacher to the kids of the orphanage.
And when these very same humans would always scream out how love and loyalty never existed, on how promises are meant to be broken, Levant reunited with Wilmarina and discovered that she never forgot about him and never stopped thinking about him, just as she was in his mind and heart for the long years they were separated. The happiness he felt when Wilmarina recognized him before he did with her was something he can't exchange for anything else.
Everything that had happened so far, both good and bad, had taught Levant one thing;
The words "genuine kindness and love never existed when it comes to humanity" is complete and utter bullshit.
Even just the smallest kindness can already save a man's entire life, to change it for the better.
Just by consoling someone who's in tears, or helping someone cross safely to the other side of the street, or by making someone smile after a bad day, you already are someone's hero.
Levant's life was saved by a lot of kind people, all of whom doesn't even really have an obligation to do so. And he is truly grateful for that. As his own way of repaying them, Levant has always swore to himself;
'Just as my beloved family and friends never abandoned me…
I will never abandon someone who cries for help.'
Remembering those words, Levant's resolve to protect the elven mage behind him strengthened, strong enough to drive away the fear of facing the Elite Class Monster in front of him. Angelica's earlier decision of not abandoning him strengthened his heart even further. Before finally charging into what may be his last fight, he turns back to Angelica, and speaks with a smile.
"Don't worry …I won't let her reach you. I will protect you, till the very end."
And thus, Levant brandishes Alastor, and points its tip at the now fully recovered Eresh, who also prepares her weapon with a smirk.
"You sure know how to throw a party. No food, no drinks, no roofed venues, and the only other cute girl is injured. Hasn't your mother ever taught you that guys don't like violently persistent chicks?" Levant commented at the monster, who gives back a hearty laugh.
"How funny. Because my mom married my dad after banging him in the middle of the Grand Coliseum after he proposed to her, when he won their final match. So yeah, I'm gonna have to disagree with what your mother taught you, mister~! Oh, and may I know your name? I'm Eresh~!" The dullahan says in a cutesy, girly tone that made her a completely different person from the raging warrior literally just a few moments ago. In fact, Angelica's jaws nearly reached the flowers on the ground she was resting on after it dropped so hard from what she just witnessed.
"I'm Levant Zanvolt. Let's start the party!" Levant declared, with Alastor suddenly being coated in dancing lightning bolts as the Assassin went into a battle stance.
In response, Eresh licked her lips, and charged towards Levant with inhuman speed and power, and initiates a thrusting attack the moment she got the Assassin in sword range. For Levant, however, the world felt like it slowed down the moment the dullahan moved forward. And thus, with the raw power, reaction speed and movement speed on par with the monster, the Assassin makes a swift dodge to the left, before launching his counterattack, charging forward and executing a rising diagonal slash to the left…a move which Eresh foresaw and blocked.
That decision, however, sent the dullahan flying a few feet away from Levant, causing a surprised reaction in Eresh as she landed. The dullahan's heart started beating hard…in excitement. Looks like this is worth the effort of teleporting all the way here, after all!
Demonic Energy, no matter how little was left, started dancing around Eresh. With this, she will become an unstoppable beast for the nest five minutes. And within those five minutes…she shall defeat the hooded man, and claims his chastity and love before the elf that Eresh truly loathes. This five minutes of fate…it will be the fated victory of Eresh, the knight of the 4th princess of the Demon Realm!
"That raw power you have…it excites me. Your scent…it arouses me! I have decided; I will not let you go. I shall claim you in front of your beloved elf, and your body and heart shall be mine for the rest of eternity! Prepare yourself!" Eresh roared, before charging onwards and executing a wide, horizontal swing that Levant managed to block…and sent him flying at least ten feet away. And right after he landed on his feet, the dullahan was already right in front of him, and executes another swing. Levant ducked, barely avoided the attack, and sent his own swings, only for the to be brutally parried and allow Eresh to land a heavy blow unto his chest, which also sent him flying a few feet away before rolling on the ground.
"Levant! No!" Angelica screamed. Eresh, of course, heard it, and got a little aroused from hearing the elf's despair. Now then…to drown her in despair even more…!
To the dullahan's surprise, Levant got up quickly, the wound on his chest already closed up, with a few lightning bolts dancing on where the wound was, shocking Eresh. Before she could say anything, Levant spoke, with lightning bolts now converging on his sword, having been summoned over to the weapon by his own subconscious desire for power.
"Now then…it's my turn."
Thunder roared from the heavens and bolts of lightning danced around the skies as Levant charges forward, before suddenly rolling to his right to dodge as overhead cleaving attack by Eresh. The Assassin counters with a rising slash to the left, which the dullahan dodged rather easily and gave her a window to execute a powerful and extremely quick thrust attack meant to finish this fight.
And execute a thrust attack she did.
"Got you, Levant!" Eresh roared in victory…
…Only for Levant step sideways and parry the thrust upwards with accurate precision using the butt of Alastor's hilt, sending the sword of the dullahan flying up in the air, as the monster did not expect the sudden stunt from the Assassin. A large charge of lightning bolts then surged around Alastor's blade, and as that happened, Levant felt himself become weaker. Is the sword taking energy from him?
Meanwhile, Eresh's face paled as she realized the upcoming strike…and the weapon in Levant's hands, now that she has an even closer look upon it, and the velvet lightning bolts that danced around its blade…
She remembered it well, from all the pictures in the history books Druella once forced her to read, all of them that included the story of the Fiend Royal Arm wielded by the previous Demon Lord, the blade of demonic lightning known as Alastor…
Which meant one thing.
That part where the Assassin instantly regenerated a near fatal chest wound should've been a red flag to Eresh.
Eresh wasn't fighting a human this whole time.
She was fighting a horror that came from the depths of hell, one that she never imagined to leave the pages of history books…
"You were right, Lady Druella…I am too foolish and hot-headed for taking this job alone. I should've taken my entire squad with me..." Eresh whispered to herself, accepting her fate.
Despite his consciousness now on the verge of fading away, Levant still managed to make one last victorious smirk.
Levant lands a powerful, lightning powered horizontal slash to his right. The moment the Alastor's blade sliced through Eresh, multiple bolts of lightning crawled and struck the dullahan's body all over repeatedly, inflicting her with unimaginable pain that knocked her unconscious as the bolts exploded. The wound she received from the blade itself, however, was non-lethal, as Levant was already losing consciousness from Alastor's energy consumption before he landed the finishing swing, and thus making him fail to aim for the neck or the vital organs. He instead landed a skin deep wound that ran horizontally in the area between Eresh's breasts and stomach.
Levant, too, fell unconscious, and fell on his face a few seconds after Eresh did, the last thing he can hear being Angelica's footsteps and her voice frantically calling for his name.