On the night of the sixth day, the king and Escanor discussed the latter's proposition in great detail. Following his sophisticated ideas and poetic judgment he explained his plan to the king. Escanor had a few things in mind with this competition. He wanted to make it more exciting than the rest of the other events because he wanted to take pride in the one thing he had done for others. He and the king continued their discussion throughout the night, but, the king felt uneasy after hearing Escanor's second request. Escanor did not want to be present when his contest took place; he wanted to take his reward and leave as soon as possible to not waste his opportunity. He would leave the gates of Liones just after Dawn and would take his sacred treasure with him, for a particular purpose he had in mind. They both came to an agreement and parted ways. Escanor returned to his room and packed what he thought was necessary; a change of clothes, a single piece of paper and a map. He left Liones Castle at approximately 6:01Am, with his sacred treasure and strangely did not leave the eastern gate with it.
The final day of the seven deadly competitions finally came and everyone was incredibly excited. Since first place had already been decided, the final day would decide who came second and third. If a clear winner was not decided then the person who performed the best overall would receive the second prize. The effects of the sixth day did not go unnoticed as some of the competitors had some serious injuries from the fight festival. Merlin was one of the casualties, she had received several fractures across her body after being punched by Escanor. Although the Lion's sin of Pride had been holding back to the absolute minimum of his abilities, he could not avoid hurting Merlin in that fight. She had anticipated this might have happened and whilst she was in pain, she was glad to have gotten more data. Deldrey was in a coma like state after Escanor punched her, she had a fractured skull, pelvis and both her arms had been dislocated. The other competitors all made it to the contest as their wounds were not as severe. The actual competition was about to start and the competitors, minus Escanor and Merlin, made their way outside of Liones into The Great Plain. This was the same area where King's race took place, however the pitfall traps and foot prints that Diane had created attempting to squash Ban had somehow disappeared… almost as if by magic.
The king gathered everyone into the centre of The Great Plain, to begin what the sin of pride called: The Sacred Treasure Hunt. The Lion's sin of Pride had suggested that the king hide all seven of their sacred treasures, to commemorate the ending of the seven deadly competitions. The rules were as followed;
No location magic!
No teleportation magic!
Fighting is allowed, but, try not to kill the other competitors!
Stealing and cheating are fine, as long as they don't break the other rules!
No messing with people's memories!
As the king read out these rules, everyone glared at the person most likely to break them. They stared at Ban and Lord Denzel upon hearing the fourth rule and everyone gave Gowther a death-stare when the last rule was announced. The aim of the game was to find all 7 sacred treasures before the other competitors. They would do this by gathering six notes, which would be distributed by a holy knight standing next to each of sacred treasure. Each note held a clue to where the final sacred treasure would be and when gathered together they would form a poem. The last sacred treasure to find was Divine Axe, Rhitta, because it was way too heavy, for anyone other than Escanor, to move. Nobody knew where the final sacred treasure was because Escanor had taken it with him and placed the final note himself. For this contest it was imperative that all competitors could read. This would be problematic for Ban and Diane. Ban could not read very well, due to his lack of education, and Diane was too large to read what Escanor wrote. However, for her sake, they made especially large version of his poem by carving each verse into stone slabs. To begin this contest all the people were given a few pieces of information, in the form of the six locations:
Herritt: The Great Plain
Chastifol: Everdeen forest
Lostvayne: Edinburgh castle
Aldan: Merlin's Magical Research Facility
Courcouse: the summit of Mt. Titus
The king gave them all this information and stated that the contest would start when he organized all 14 contestants into a large circular shape that pointed every competitor in a different direction. Meliodas prepped himself by cracking his knuckles, Ban cracked his neck, Diane stretched and King looked mildly impressed that Escanor managed to do all this. His admiration for Escanor's work was immediately dispelled from his mind when he began to admire something of greater importance; Diane, more specifically her posterior. He watched her voluptuous bottom move in all directions as blood poured out his nose at an alarming rate. Every passing moment felt like a dream come true, he even began to cry at how perfect the situation was for him. His blood and tears landed on Ban's head, which made the latter look up and grin at the sight of spoiling King's happiness.
Ban: "What are you doing? Being a massive pervert and looking at Diane's butt!" he yelled. King instantly had a gut wrenching feeling and when he looked up he saw Diane, who was now facing him. His life was about to be ended by the woman he loved just because he was staring at her butt without permission. He watched in confusion as she simply stepped on Ban.
Diane: "Going back to this place reminded me of what you said a couple days ago, you jerk. This is payback!" she yelled, continuously stomping on the same spot almost a dozen times, before Ban's beaten, broken and bloody body crawled out of his makeshift tomb.
Ban: "tsk… can't believe that backfired on me. I suppose next time I'll get him and I can always use this as blackmail." He said, pleased with his new idea and equally disappointed he didn't get King in trouble.
King: "Phew… that was close! I thought she caught me staring." He thought, whilst chuckling to himself which invigorated the sin of Envy's curiosity, who had literally just noticed he was there.
Diane: "King, what did Ban say before I smashed him?" she asked.
King: "Nothing of interest Diane. He said he was going to win. Anyway let's have a good treasure hunt." He replied. Diane smiled in agreement and began walking away. Unbeknownst to King, she glanced back at him with a smile on her face. Her smile slowly faded into a confused expression as she contemplated what she had just felt. It would seem that for a split second she subconsciously felt connected to King again. King reacted in a very typical way and simply smiled back. Diane awoke from her daydreaming and began questioning what just happened. Since the contest was her main priority, she refused to let it bother her and walked towards Meliodas.
Diane: "CAPTAIN!" she exclaimed.
Meliodas: "Not again!" he thought. Luckily he was saved by the beginning of the seventh contest.
Bartras: "If you would all kindly gather around in a circular shape, so we may prepare the final arrangements before the contest begins." He said, gesturing at the competing holy knights to gather around. As a point of reference he stated that there were people and holy knights along the way that could guide them in the general direction they had to go, if they did not know their geography.
Ban: "I'm gonna steal this victory from under your nose, captain." he declared, smiling menacingly at Meliodas.
Meliodas: "nishishishi, I'm going to win Ban, you stand no chance." He stated.
Diane: "Aww, captain's so cute when he's serious." She said, holding her hands to her face and blushing.
King: "Why can't she look at me that way?" he whispered. Tears streaming down his face as a slight tinge of jealousy crept into his heart.
Gowther: "Would you like me to help you find out King?" he said, his usual monotone voice was replaced with a dark and mysterious one, almost as if he was a different person.
King: "It was a rhetorical question, Gowther. I know why she doesn't love me." He replied, reminding himself of his past and getting slightly unnerved at Gowther's voice.
Gowther: "Understood!" he replied, his usual monotone voice had returned and was much more pleasant than his previous one. Gowther returned to his spot between Slader and Dale. Suddenly the king declared that the contest would start, everyone was geared up and ready to begin.
Bartas: "Everyone get into your positions. Ready, set, go!" He yelled, watching as all 14 competitors bolted off to find their first piece of paper. The king then read his version of the poem and quickly realized where Rhitta had been hidden. The king never expected Escanor's contest to be a children's game, let alone his reason for it being one. Late last night, before he left for his room, Escanor stated that his motivation for picking such a contest was that the princesses and misfits were playing hide and seek once with smiles across their faces. Since he didn't have any first hand experience he assumed it might be fun to play such a game with friends, although he didn't want to ruin the game's reputation or hurt anyone, so he chose not to participate.
The Great Plain
The Great Plain was an immense prairie of luscious green grass and grand mountains that rose beyond the clouds. A flowery field with many natural wonders, inhabited by herds of dusk bison, wild boars and flocks of cuckoo birds. It is a truly beautiful plain with none that could parallel its perfection. The plain's beauty was renowned throughout Britannia and attracted many weary travellers who sought a place to relax. Another individual who found this place more than simply relaxing was the Boar's sin of Gluttony. This was the first place she had ever met Escanor, if only briefly, before he cowered at her presence and ran into the woods. The plain's magical healing properties also interested her, as she sought a way to produce the same effect on people. Regardless of her personal goals today she required rest, thus she opened a portal as to observe the competition.
A sweet, floral aroma filled the air, causing all the competitors to relax as they searched for Twin Bow Herrit, the first of the seven sacred treasures. The competition began with none of the competitors trying to rush ahead, the soothing aroma protruding from the flowers was causing light headedness and casual skipping by the sin of Envy. In their drugged up state, they tried finding the sacred treasure in all possible locations. King searched in a desolate cave and was terrified by a colony of bats. Ban jumped around happily humming to himself whilst some angry cuckoo birds pecked open his head. Meliodas lifted rocks and found nothing under them. Gowther kept asking every lifeform he met if they had seen anything, but got no response. Most of the competing holy knights were looking around normally, searching and remembering where they had been. Diane searched around a miniature forest where she bumped her head on a beehive. She was seen running and screaming across the plain.
Diane: "Captain! Save me! I HATE BUGS!" she yelled, tears rolling down her face as she was being stung countless times by the swarm of bees.
King: "I'll save you Diane!" he replied, rushing over to help the crying giantess.
Ban: "You guys should focus on the game." He muttered before returning to his own escapade and falling into one of King's old pitfall traps. The sin of Greed sighed, an annoyed expression on his face as he attempted to remove the large spikes from his chest and continue the treasure hunt!
An hour passed and everyone gathered on a Cliffside where they suddenly realized they had no idea what Gowther's sacred treasure looked like. It was at that point that Diane, who felt like she'd been tricked, threw a slight temper tantrum and stomped on the ground. Her stomp resulted in all the competitors tilting sideways as they realized that Diane's stomp had rendered the cliff less stable than before. It did not take long before all 14 competitors were plunged into a deep ravine, Diane hit the ground first with a thud and with an embarrassed expression on her face watched as all the other competitors, who were male, land on her breasts and bounce off of them and onto the ground. The men were all thanking the gods for the heavenly cushion that broke their fall, but, upon turning to face Diane her angered expression spoke volumes about her current state of mind. King, the only competitor that could float, watched as Diane's anger transformed her kind nature into one of pure rage. She proceeded to beat up everyone that landed on her breasts, except Meliodas.
Five minutes passed and Diane was seen leaving the area, clapping her hands together as if to imply a "job well done". She, King and Meliodas rushed towards an opening that could lead them back to the surface and upon closer inspection they noticed Hugo, one of Batras's bodyguards, leaning against the opening and holding what seemed to be paper. The three sins had managed to gather the first piece of the puzzle. Diane quickly placed her stone slab into her backpack, whilst Meliodas and King pocketed their notes and kept running. The three sins were followed by the remaining two, Ban and Gowther, who were mostly unharmed by Diane rampage. The remaining holy knights were all lying in the ravine unconscious and all brutally beaten by a young maiden's wrath. Thus the amount of people fighting for second and third place diminished down to five; Ban, Diane, Gowther, King and Meliodas. Their next stop was Everdeen Forest where they intended on finding King's sacred treasure, Spirit Spear Chastifol. King was eager to get his sacred treasure as he wanted to cuddle into his pillow as it would provide a more comfortable mode of transportation.
Everdeen forest was filled with tall, thick oak trees that grew several times higher than a giant and were incredibly sturdy. Whilst the Great Plain was the most beautiful plain, the Everdeen forest was a close second when comparing it to the Fairy king's forest. It had a gargantuan tree in its centre, called the millennium tree, which all competitors were assuming was the location of the next sacred treasure. The height of the trees made travelling easier for the sin of Envy, who no longer had to worry about hitting another beehive. Surprisingly, they managed to navigate their way through the forest with much ease, gathered their respective clues from a holy knight apprentice named Gustaf, and left. However, leaving the forest was more difficult than entering it. The Everdeen forest changes the route which travellers must follow to escape once every hour. This is a defence mechanism the forest has used since before the great holy war and has survived due to its reputation as one of the most dangerous forests around. Unfortunately for the sins, an hour had passed whilst they were navigating the forest and it quickly shifted and made escape impossible.
Meliodas: "Wait, the way we came is blocked?" He exclaimed, clearly surprised by the sudden change.
Gowther: "I believe the trees have moved and thus have made our original path useless. The number of variations to this forest's escape route total 124,795 and this is without taking into account the branching roads on the main path. I suggest we find another way to escape the forest and do so in a timely manner, before the forest moves once more." He explained. His monotone expression did not assist the situation, as Diane and King ran around like headless chicken panicking about their current situation.
Ban: "Why don't we just use Chastifol to carve a path through the forest?" he said, with a serious expression displayed on his face. Whilst this would be a great idea for a normal group of knights, King was the fairy king and did not share Ban's enthusiasm.
King: "Are you insane? Think of the creatures that live here and the trees, they are all alive Ban. We are NOT cutting down this forest to open up a new path, we are going to complete this puzzle properly." He yelled, his ears were steaming at the sound of Ban's selfish ignorance of basic biology. Ban proceeded to ignore what King said and picked his nose. Throwing the booger at Diane, who barely dodged it and kicked Ban into the forest wall. Ban's body was pierced by branches, the branches broke and Ban landed on an incredibly sharp rock which skewered him in half.
Ban: "Ow!" was all he could say after being impaled over twenty times by various size branches and the one large rock. He quickly regenerated himself and pointed in the direction he had been facing.
Ban: "Yo! Captain, the exit is that way!" he yelled, picking out the branches from his body and looking at Diane, annoyed as all hell with what she just did.
Meliodas: "Thanks Ban! When we leave the forest it's a competition again, right guys?" he stated, running towards the exit that Ban was pointing to and signalling to the others to follow. Diane glanced down at Ban smiling at him, whilst he stared back at her with rage exuding in his eyes. A trickle of sweat rushed down the back of her neck as she hurried over to Meliodas to escape the changing forest.
Ban: "I'll get you back for that… I promise!" he said, a malicious smile forming on his face, implying he had already conjured the perfect way to deal with her.
The sins had no other option than to duck under bushes, squeeze past trees and jump across large ravines. The last ravine they crossed was the continuation of the one they had fallen down before, which was obvious considering there were knights carrying all other competitors away on stretchers. Diane rubbed the back of her head and giggled as she realized she too out more than half of the competition. Suddenly the sins felt a huge shift in the ground beneath them, a miniature earthquake of sorts. This prompted the sins who were casually jogging to start sprinting towards the way out. The landscape shifted, the bushes moved, the trees relocated and the slight faint light at the end of the forest appeared at the end of a long stretch of road. They had a small window of time before the exit closed and they would be trapped inside the forest for more than a day. Picking up the pace, King was the first one to escape the forest considering he was the fastest of the sins when he needed to be. He was followed by Diane, Gowther and Meliodas. 4 of the competitors had escaped the forest whilst Ban seemed to have been left behind. It seems that without realising it, Diane had accidentally stepped on him… again! His revenge against Diane would be even sweeter the more she gave him reason to do it. They shrugged it off and continued their way to Istar, the place where Gideon had been relocated.
Istar is the holy land of the druid clan and was a small plain littered with large rocks inscribed with magical texts. This land had many enchantments to ward off intruders, however, they were dispelled due to a considerate sin of Pride dropping by and warning them that his competition was going to take place in Istar temporarily. Gideon, the third sacred treasure, was said to be here as per Batras's instructions. The remaining 4 sins and a splattered Ban, stuck on the sole of Diane's boot, arrived there seven minutes after exiting the forest. They had continued sprinting and were now exhausted, well half of them were. King continued floating on Chastifol whilst Gowther never seemed to be exhausted. Meliodas sat on one of the large rocks and Diane lent on two of them, where she was inspecting a squishy feeling under her foot. She scrapped it off on one of the large boulders and Ban's body feel off her boot like a pancake. He quickly regenerated himself and in a cry of rage smacked Diane across the head.
Ban: "QUIT STEPPING ON ME YOU GIANT BITCH! IT STILL HURTS YOU KNOW!" he yelled, making sure she understood he was fed up of being stepped on. Considering this was an accident and that she had not been yelled at by her comrades before, Diane's true colours shone through as she began to cry.
Diane: "I'm sorry… I didn't mean to that time…" she whimpered, her words slightly disoriented due to her eyes tearing up and her body shaking.
King: "It's alright Diane, it's just Ban seems to be having a rough day… it's not your fault!" he said, attempting to comfort the giantess to no avail. She continued to make associated crying sounds, sniffling, whimpering, slight pauses between each wail, she was clearly a sensitive soul who did not appreciate being yelled at.
Meliodas: "Could you stop crying Diane? Ban is an ass sometimes, but, you just have to be more careful and watch where you step!" he suggested, which alleviated the teary eyed giantess's crying fit. She began to regain her composure as they all looked around, picking up rocks, talking amongst themselves, Diane still getting over the fact that she was a giant in a small world, yet they all found no trace of Gideon.
The largest sacred treasure was unmistakably huge, almost as long as Diane was tall, and whilst searching the entirety of Istar they could not find it. It was at that moment that Gowther began reading the writing and becoming preoccupied with it, considering it told a story of how the druids were founded and how their magic was created. Whilst the sin of Lust dabble in history, Diane decided to try some comedy, picking up two large rocks, sneaking behind King and smashing them together loudly. This sudden noise scared the sin of Sloth senseless, to the point where he could barely speak. The sin of Envy fell to the ground laughing and began rolling around in joy. It was whilst she was doing this that her head accidentally warped through one of the druid clan's portals. Inside of it she saw what appeared to be her sacred treasure and upon pulling her head out of the portal she gestured to the others to come take a look. They all walked through the gate and met up with five people; the druid elder called Zibinni, a small four year old boy called Theo, twin sisters Jenna and Zaneli and finally the holy knight chosen to hand out the flyers was one of Denzel's apprentice holy knights, Arden. The sins were greeted by the druids, had a small conversation about the competition and parted ways by talking to Arden. He scoffed at the sight of the sins as he handed them their flyers, commenting on how stupid this competition was and the person who created it should die in a fire.
Meliodas: "You should not insult the Lion sin of Pride or his work, you might foul his mood. I fought him once and got trounced, although neither of us were really serious. He also destroyed an entire kingdom once because one of their knights pushed over a small child and refused to apologize. Safe to assume they all died." He said, a huge grin appearing on his face. He pressed his lips together, began whistling and placed both of his hands on the back of his head. All the while, Arden had wet himself at the brutality that might befall him should ill of the Lion's sin of Pride. Diane picked up Gideon and they all laughed amongst themselves at the stain on Arden's pants. They proceeded to rushed to their fourth location, towards Edinburgh Castle.
Lostvayne was not that difficult to locate once the sins arrived at the disfigured remains of Edinburgh Castle. Ban, Diane and King looked at the horrific mess of a castle and immediately concluded this was Escanor's doing. Meliodas looked deep into the hole he had created to alleviate Gelda's anguish of being a vampire with no purpose. He tipped his head close to his chest, his hair covered his eyes and a single tear rushed down his face.
Meliodas: "I wonder if you will forgive me one day, Zeldris… I wonder if I did the right thing all those years ago…" he whispered, reminiscing about his past decision and questioning his actions. His regretful tone was dispelled when he caught a glimpse of what seemed like a sparkle. This was in fact a race against the others, so without hesitating he jumped into the 30000ft hole and landed perfectly on two legs. Down there he found his sacred treasure coupled with an amulet. The amulet was shaped in the symbol of the goddess clan and he chose to pocket the amulet in case it would become useful. He noticed a lack of a holy knight in the area and proceeded to jump out of the hole, where he bumped into Death Pierce, another one of Denzel's apprentices. He silently handed Meliodas a piece of paper and gestured towards the others who were already racing on ahead to Merlin's magical research laboratory. He thanked the knight and darted off after them.
Death Pierce: "So this is Edinburgh Castle? The sins must be monsters to cause so much damage to one place." He thought, as he walked back to his small campfire waiting for the other contestants. Meliodas quickly caught up to the rest of the group and began charging ahead, in hopes to reach the laboratory before the others did.
Merlin's Magical Research Facility
Aldan was the easiest of the treasures to find as they all arrived at Merlin's Magical Research Facility and her apprentice Vivianne was standing in front of the large building and handed them their clues. The reason for this being a short and sweet escapade is because Escanor stated that he did not want Merlin's affairs to be treated poorly and thus opted to not move her sacred treasure. Instead, it lay on a bedside table next to the resting Merlin, who was using it to watch the sins overcome Escanor's trials and reading a few of the poems he had written about her, which she had taken from his room. She blushed as some of them went into great detail about her beauty and her passion for magic, whilst others focused more on her kindness and gluttonous appetite for sweets and other foods, especially raisins, which Escanor found cute. Her one day of rest turned into a pleasant day of watching her comrades' mess around, eating sweets, drinking wine and reading poetry.
She was not perfectly content with her situation though, as she felt guilty. Merlin felt guilty about the other day during her fight festival. She was upset with herself trying to manipulate Escanor and felt horrible that she even attempted such a thing. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that it was the wrong thing to do. She needed him to return quickly so she could apologize to him for her actions, she genuinely felt upset by what she had done. Lord knows why she was having these feelings of guilt, but, some might say it derives from her attachment to Escanor.
The sins were almost finished with their treasure hunt and eagerly ran to their last location before the puzzle would unveil itself. The last location would be the most difficult to reach as the remaining 5 competitors had to scale the largest mountain on the east coast of Britannia, Mt. Titus.
Mt. Titus was estimated to be 3000 metres above sea level and was renowned for its steep elevation and the various minerals extracted from its core. It was located next to the mining town of Oreus, a wealthy town built upon its large trade investments and unique goods, thus the size of the town rivalled the nearby kingdoms, but, compared to the mountain there town seemed incredibly insignificant. When the sins finally made it to the mountain, after a 20 minute sprint, they all began to rest at the foot of the gargantuan wall of rock. Even Diane was impressed at the size of it and she used to live at Megadozer. After a brief break, the sins began scaling the steep mountain, hoping that nothing would go wrong. Each sin tried their own technique and some were beyond insane. King floated skywards as he watched the others climb the mountain slower than he could fly, thus giving him an unfair advantage in this contest. Ban and Meliodas tried running up the mountain, much like one would across a wall, however they did not reach very far before they lost their momentum and fell back to the ground. They both hit the ground in a massive explosion of earthen debris, removed themselves from their respected holes, laughed their asses off and continued to repeat the process until they reached a small cave in which they could mark as a checkpoint. Diane took the standard approach and climbed the mountain, using Gideon and her pointed boots to create holes within the rocky mountain face. Gowther was the only member of the sins that did not have a means to reach the summit of the mountain, so instead he fired an invasion arrow into King's head, making him pick up two pages as a posed to one. The sin of Lust smiled from within his large suit of armour and sat down, awaiting his plan's succession, whilst the others exerted themselves to scale the large mountain.
Diane: "This is a lot tougher than I thought… I'm starting to have… trouble… breathing…" she said, as she was reaching the mountain's summit. King had already reached the summit, but, was waiting for Diane in hopes that she would make it safely.
At the peak Courcouse was hanging on a large metal pole, which had the pages magically enchanted upon it, whilst Diane's slab was lying on the floor. King had already acquired his page and the one for Gowther, which he had been tricked into getting. Suddenly, Diane's arms rose from the mountain side and came into his view. His flurry of positive emotions negated the fact that his lack of breath was bothering him, but, more importantly Diane was safe. She let out a huge sigh of relief and reached over past King to pick up her slab. Upon grasping it she carefully placed it inside of her backpack and smiled at King triumphantly. King casually floated down to try helping her in any way he could, his own smile glimmering with kindness as he worried about Diane's safety. The momentous occasion was short-lived when both sins heard a loud cracking noise and Diane found herself slowly tilting towards the ground. Within a split second of this happening the only thing either sin could say was…
Diane and King: "CRAP!" they both said, panic clearly identifiable in their voices and the cold sweat of fear running down their faces.
Diane quickly grabbed on to Gideon and accidentally pulled King into her cleavage as she fell down the rocky mountain side, upon the summit which had cracked from the mountain because of Diane's climbing "tactic". The ride was incredibly unpleasant as Diane was tossed in the air a couple of times due to the terrain. King's current situation was anything but as he was pressed into Diane's hill sized bosom, his nose was bloody and he had lost consciousness. Barely thirty seconds past and Diane opened her eyes long enough to pinpoint Meliodas and Ban trying to run up the mountain. They both looked up, at each other and with a unanimous blank expression began running back down the mountain to the maximum of their ability whilst yelling…
Ban and Meliodas: "CRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPP!" they yelled. Their screams could be heard from the bottom of the mountain, where Gowther noticed their cries without comprehending what they were saying. Due to the cloudy weather that day the sin of Lust's enhanced eyesight could not help him pinpoint their exact location and distance. Within his armour he squinted and within a few seconds of trying to decipher a large incoming shadow, he saw Ban and Meliodas running down the mountain with Diane and King sliding down it with his note. However, due to Gowther's logical and sophisticated mind he only had a single thing to say about his current situation…
Gowther: "Crap!" he said in a monotone voice, which had a tiny layer of shock behind it. Approximately two second after he shared his opinion on the situation Ban and Meliodas darted past him and the entire summit of the mountain landed on Gowther's head.
The force and speed of the impact caused Gowther's helmet to press into itself and the left horn broke off. Diane crawled out of the debris, dirtied by the dust and mud that had scattered around the area upon impact. King had been blown a few metres away from Diane and was lying in a miniature pool of his own blood. Today had been a great day for King, it almost made up for the terrible things in his past. Ban and Meliodas had fallen on their rectums and stared in shock at the resulting impact to the surrounding area. Both Ban and Meliodas walked over to the centre of the debris and picked up a single note each. King and Diane gathered around the two of them as well, but, were in worse condition considering they were hit by the impact of the mountain.
Meliodas: "That's the last one guys, we are officially competing against each other now!" he declared, with an immense grin on his face. Before the other sins could compose themselves and respond to his statement, Gowther's arm busted out of the debris and claimed the note King had acquired for him.
Gowther: "Thank you, King!" he said, the rest of his body jolted upwards and also busted out of the debris. The other sins were all worried for his health, considering his head had been flattened. He seemed perfectly fine, so the others simplify shrugged it off. From this point on, they would part ways as to find out where Rhitta had been hidden. Each sin left in a different direction and laid out their notes, or slabs in Diane's case, to guess the location. Each page/slab was numbered which made it easy to identify the position of each verse. They all looked at the notes and soon realized… it was a poem. The name of the poem was entitled…
Seven Sacred Secrets
You've travelled endlessly across The Great Plain.
You entered Everdeen Forest and had to use your brain.
You battled Istar's magic and met a familiar face.
You passed through Edinburgh Castle, you remember that place.
You went to my sweet's home and entry you were denied.
You scaled Mt. Titus, fell and almost died.
You accepted the hunt and for the last page.
You must travel through the lands and find a unique cave.
Your only hint is it's close to my heart.
I'd recommend Liones, that's a good place to start.
After reading Escanor's poetic treasure hunt all of the sins were confused, even Gowther's logical mind could not decipher the obvious clue he had been given. The only option they all had was to travel to Liones and search there. The location was not all that special, the only trick was the whereabouts of this hidden cave. Back inside her magical facility, Merlin had already deciphered the poem's hidden message and was laughing to herself. Not only had she enjoyed the slight addition of him calling her "my sweet", which was his nickname for her, she also enjoyed the fact that the cave was literally beneath her feet. "Close to my heart" was a reference to the cave being close to Merlin's current location, however, the other sins were unable to understand this clue. The only person who knew of Escanor's love for Merlin were the two parties involved in the relationship and Meliodas, he was simply too dense to understand it. The five remaining sins were now gathered in Liones and heard a special announcement from the king, who was using one of Merlin's enchantments to project his voice.
Batras: "Attention to all remaining competitors, due to the unforeseen length of this tournament we have added a new feature to this contest. The second and third prizes have doubled in monetary gain, in other words, second place will receive 2000 gold pieces and third place will receive 1000. Thank you for your cooperation and I hope you do find this last page… it's quite a good treasure hunt!" he explained, finishing on a high note as to inspire the sins to increase the amount of effort they put behind their search.
Diane looked around the eastern hills, Ban looked in the dungeon, King looked outside the perimeter of the wall, Gowther looked around the castle and Meliodas, slowly putting two and two together, was searching around Merlin's facility. He found quite a the opening to a cave standing at around 40ft in height and 20ft across, it was almost unnoticeable yet the others could not seem to find it. The deep, dark cavern was at the foot of the large cliff Merlin's magical facility was built upon. He entered it without hesitation and within the depths of the dark cavern he found a large chamber illuminated by a single ray of light. At the centre of the cavern, Meliodas gazed at a crystal clear spring. The pure water was trickling down a set of steps that led up to its location and he escalated the same set of stairs until he found what he had been searching for. The small amount of sunlight which illuminated the cavern was being absorbed by an incredibly large axe, in the centre of the spring. Upon the axe there was a single note which read "Congratulations" and Meliodas smiled to himself as he lessened the gap between him and the final sacred treasure, Rhitta. He knew from his countless experiences helping Escanor move his sacred treasure that even his power level, which was over 30,000 at the time, could not assist him in carrying the axe easily. Instead, he chose to reduce the distance between him and the treasure by jumping across the spring, using a number of damp rocks which were incredibly slippery. He continued to get closer until he felt an incredible pressure and a tingling sensation which made him leap away from the sacred treasure. A sudden surge of magic erupted from Rhitta and blasted Meliodas further away, not damaging him due to the distance he had already regained. The magical pulse was a small amount of Sunshine that had been stored inside of Rhitta and for some reason had released itself against Meliodas, the reason being because of his demonic presence and the threat that Rhitta believed he imposed on it. This did not register as the reason for the sudden burst if magic in Meliodas's mind, he leapt across the stones once more and arrived in from of Rhitta this time with no resistance. He grabbed the final piece of paper and noticed that there was only two of them, this meant that only one person could officially win, but, someone else could come second. Whilst he was lost in thought, he heard King's voice echoing in the cave and immediately came back into reality and rushed out of the cave. King noticed him holding a piece of paper and thus darted into the cave to get himself a page.
King: "I will win this contest for Diane's sake…" he said, determined to be second or at least come third overall. He saw Rhitta off in the distance, grabbed the last page and followed Meliodas out of the cave. The only reason King had found this cave was the pressure that Sunshine gave off, the other sins felt it as well but were not prepared to locate and deal with the problem. Meliodas rushed past the eastern gate with King hot on his tail, he found King's speed to be impressive considering his title of sin of Sloth. The competitors were officially down to two and their will to win was clear as day. The passionate look in their eyes was obvious to all the onlookers as King began to break away from Meliodas. His flight speed was making it much harder for Meliodas to keep up, so the captain did the only logical thing to win the race. Meliodas activated his demon mark and got slightly serious in the competition. Within less than a second Meliodas had not only passed King he had made it to the finish line. This was just a small amount of the power the captain had within him, this surprised King as he crossed the finish line and stared blankly at his captain.
King: "How… did you do that?" he questioned, absolutely shocked that Meliodas was that fast.
Meliodas: "I got a little serious that's all." He replied in a casual way, as if to imply this was a normal response. King simply kept staring at him and began to question his captain's words. The thought was dispelled from his mind when the other three sins reappeared and moaned about how they did not win.
Diane: "Awwww… I wanted to come third! At least captain won though!" she said, giggling at her statement.
Ban: "Dang… I supposed we still have to drink to your victory, right captain?" he said, grinning at the captain.
Gowther: "I did not want to win anyway…" he said, truthfully not caring about who won, but, clapping for the victors nonetheless.
Bartas: "Congratulations Meliodas, second place is yours and King you have acquired third place, you will each be awarded the money momentarily." he said, walking over to a nearby table where two large bags of gold, one large than the other, were laying. He gave Meliodas the larger bag and King was given the smaller one. He asked them what they intended to use the money for and both Meliodas and King had different ideas.
Meliodas: "I'm going to blow the lot on a party. I will need a lot of booze, food and people to drink it!" he exclaimed. Everyone seemed to agree with this idea and smiled at him, this allowed him to get drunk and throw an amazing party.
King: "I'm going to use mine for something specific…" he said, looking at Diane's tattered clothing.
Diane: "Thanks King!" she said, blushing slightly and moving her hair in front of her face. She immediately realized what he was going to use the money on and was very thankful for it. Her clothes were barely holding together and she was already trying her best to avoid arousing any suspicion. The entire escapade on Mt. Titus really did a number on Diane she almost experienced an anxiety attack, regardless King felt it noble of him to get the materials for both of them to make Diane some new clothes, similar to the ones she is currently wearing. After all, he did hitch a ride in her cleavage at Mt. Titus so it was the least he could do. All the competitors and watchers rejoiced as their second and third place winners were awarded their gold and they all travelled back to Liones for Meliodas massive party. Diane and Merlin started in the distance, both thinking of Escanor in their own respective ways. Diane was worried about him, as the night would soon be upon them and she desperately wanted her question answered. Merlin was feeling something she had no considered possible, feelings of worry and of great adoration for the lion's sin of Pride.
As the sun began to set The Lion's sin of Pride was walking through the nearby town of Durham with his head lowered in shame. He refused to lift it up for any reason as he did not wish to cause any trouble and start a commotion. This village feared him, as all the others did, revering him as a monster created solely to destroy the human race. It was not his fault he was born with such a tremendous power, he was simply unfortunate. His entire life was spent isolated from society, his parents disowned him at a young age and left the forest to consume him. Due to Sunshine's properties, Escanor was and never has been harmed by any animals, simply because they are drawn to his warmth, nature itself would move at his whim and everything around him would not attack him. Sunshine, the ability of life itself, was comprised of all types of elemental magic; Creation, Disaster, purgatory fire and the goddess clan's light. It was an ability that was unique compared to all the others in its basic form, but, Escanor could not use the other types of magic all up… he had simply never tried.
He was taught many different things by the creatures in the woods such as construction, dancing, singing and communicating. He was able to grasp the basic fundamentals of humanity and wander around looking for purpose… but, he never found it. He had still not found his purpose after all these years of trying and was finally going to get what he wanted, he was finally going to attain a purpose to his life... However, his promise meant more to him than his own happiness and for that he simply wanted to see Diane's smile.
He was instantly recognized by the townsfolk and everyone ran away from him as he attempted to calm them down. He quickly realized this was of no use and continued walking through the town. Every echoing thud of doors being slammed shut and windows being barred only made him feel less human than he already was. He lifted his head to choose which direction he was going in and was quickly blocked by some holy knights from a nearby kingdom. They quickly resorted to attacking him instead of talking to him, assessing him as a huge threat and believing they could be paid handsomely should they take Escanor's head. They circled him, unsheathing their blades and gathering the composure. The knights were close to their thirties and each of their faces told a different story, ultimately they had all been corrupted by their own selfish desires. Escanor did not have the time for these knights, therefore opting for the safer solution of walking away. The knights decided cowardice was in their best interest and took one of the village children hostage. This caught Escanor's attention as he turned to face the knights, they continuously threatened the girl with their weapons and beckoned that the great criminal return and suffer a proper punishment.
Turning to face the knights he dropped his bag, the moonlight touching his face as it began to rise in the night's sky. He began muttering something to himself, which aggravated the knights as they believed it was an incantation to weaken them. He simply stared at them, his gaze pierced through their very being and they began to feel a fear unlike any other. In the moment the knights hesitated, Escanor had grabbed the little girl and had placed her inside of the open window, which her mother was crying out of. Upon realizing this the mother was astounded, the monster of a man saved the life of a child without any reason to do so. The knights were still quivering in their boots, more so than usual as the speed at which Escanor travelled rivalled King's flight speed and was not to be taken lightly. He decided that his discussion with the knights would end, but, their commander appeared behind him and openly stated his plans.
Knight Commander: "If you do not cooperate mongrel we will be forced to take immediate action on this town. If we burn it down then we can easily blame you for it… n'est-ce pas?" He said, his pompous attitude was easily distinguishable in his voice, not to mention he was speaking French meaning that knights from other countries were seeking fame by removing Escanor's head. The knights were not that powerful, in fact Escanor's current was much stronger the knight commander was on a different level though. Escanor had had enough of this hold up and proceeded to bolt in front of the knight commander and smack his hand into his chest plate. He then spun his hand in a lightning fast motion and propelled the knight commander into a nearby boulder, rendering him unconscious. He returned to his things, looked back at the other knights and stared at them once more; this time they ran away.
He walked towards the forest where he had estimated this great lake to be and wandered into it, searching for answers and searching or purpose. He arrived at an incredibly large lake that had a small island simply laying in the middle of it, upon the island was a glimmering longsword. He walked over to a nearby tree and dropped his rucksack on the ground. He carefully examined the water, perplexed at how he should proceed. He decided a direct approach would be the best course of action and simply chose to ask his question out loud.
Escanor: "Um… excuse me, goddess clan I've c-c-come to ask you a question!" He stuttered, shyly and quietly. He was still as cowardly as he had anticipated and was hoping for a standard response from the clan he revered and required the assistance of. He stood silently for several minutes to no avail, his plea had fallen on deaf ears and he slowly lent his head in disappointment. He casually sighed and walked over to his rucksack, picking it up and feeling incredibly upset. Not only did the legend not live up to its name, he was going to disappoint Diane without an answer to her question. He gazed at the middle of the lake once more before making a bold, daring decision; he would take the sword from the stone which seemed perfectly placed inside on the island for a specific use. He swam through the freezing water, shivering and complaining about the cold. He eventually reached the island, his clothes drenched and incredibly uncomfortable. Exhausted, he attempted to pull the sword out of the stone, to his surprise he easily lifted it out. The sword weighed barely anything especially compared to Rhitta, which Escanor struggled to move at night. He swung the sword around a couple of times before he began questioning why someone or something had left a well-crafted blade lying in the middle of the lake. His pondering was cut short when he heard an echoing voice, which terrified him to his core.
Voice: "How did you remove that sword?" it asked, equally puzzled and annoyed. The voice was very feminine in nature although the tone would be closer to that of an angered barbarian. Escanor was quick to release the blade and cower in fear behind the rock, however he noticed an incandescent light reflected in the water. He decided to peak from behind the rock and was surprised to see a member of the goddess clan emerge from the lake. She floated towards him, tapping her finger against her arm as she glared at him suspiciously. She noticed the look of amazement of his face and Escanor, realizing this might be his only chance to ask a question, decided to man-up and confront the goddess.
Escanor: "I pulled the sword out to get your attention." He exclaimed, the goddess looked confused, but, allowed him to carry on.
Escanor: "I wanted to get an answer to a particular question, will you answer it?" he asked, hoping she would respond favourably to his request.
Goddess: "I do not care about the meaningless questions humans would pose and I certainly do not care about your trivial existence!" she yelled, still annoyed at him for summoning her. She looked at him angrily as she began gathering light magic in her right hand. She began firing beams of light from her hand attempting to kill Escanor, or so it would seem. Escanor was cornered, he could not run away from this situation as he could not outrun a goddess nor could he afford to miss his opportunity to get his questions answered. He decided to fight her instead, using the blade he pulled out to defend himself. At first he was afraid, he was petrified, but he soon realised he could not live his life cowering from all his problems. She was quite amused by the idea that the human would fight her and immediately let down her guard. Escanor seemingly entered the same mind frame he possessed in the day and ruthlessly dismembered her. Fear coursed through her body as she saw both her arms fall to the ground. Their eyes met and Escanor's expression had turned from cowering to serious. He was tired of everyone stopping him from reaching his goals and was very antagonized by a pompous member of the goddess clan who thought herself superior to humans. He pointed the sword on her throat and demanded she answer his questions, to her displeasure she was forced to accept. Unfortunately Escanor's mood had tampered with his psychological though and he completely forgot about Diane's request to ask about Matrona. What he asked was much more self-centred.
Escanor: "What is my purpose?" He asked, his aggressive demeanour continued to become more apparent as he stuck the blade closer to her throat.
Goddess: "In that case… I'll tell you!" she said. Without speaking any words Escanor was telepathically given the answer to his purpose and upon learning of this new found objective he could only say one single thing.
Escanor: "I refuse to do that… if that is my purpose in life then I shall simply deny it and forge my own destiny. I refuse to kill the people you mentioned because they do not deserve such a fate, nor do the remaining clans of Britannia." He said, walking off with a large scowl on his face. He could not believe what he has been told he was made for. He was assigned to rid the world of the other races in order for the goddess clan to rule anew? He believed that she was simply toying with his feelings, unaware that this was partially true. It was in his darkest hour he found his purpose, not only did he reject the life he was told to lead he chose to make his decisions and stagger through all of the obstacles in his way. He lowered the blade from the goddess's neck and began swimming back across the lake. He made it to the other side, picked up his rucksack and left the forest, both annoyed and disappointed. He was still carrying the sword that he had pulled from the stone, which he did not want considering it reminded him of his apparent purpose. He was close to the kingdom of Camelot, so he decided to place the sword inside a stone, in a similar manner that he found it, and walked away.
The moon had risen high into the sky by this point and it lit the way for Escanor and some of the surrounding citizens walking amongst the street. He walked past a small barbarian encampment in which he noticed a man, a woman and two small children running around. They were incredibly happy, judging by the smiles upon their faces which created jealousy in Escanor's heart. He had always wanted friends, family and purpose. Having two of those three things he decided to tell Merlin how he felt when he got back to Liones, it was the only thing left for him to do. His daydreams were interrupted when he heard the sound of a small girl screaming. He looked towards the barbarian encampment and one of the children had been taken hostage by a thief, the old Escanor would have continued walking and hoped the situation fixed itself. The new Escanor, whose purpose was his to choose, decided he was going to intervene. The thief could not notice Escanor's presence due to his incredible speed as he smacked on the nape of his neck, rendering the thief unconscious instantaneously. He noticed a small wound on the girl's leg and identified the thief's weapon to be poisoned. He smiled, reassuring her things would be fine as he gathered a few herbs from the nearby forest.
Upon his return he asked the father for some water who was happy to oblige. He ground up the herbs into a small paste and added the water. He had the little girl drink the concoction which he described as an antidote. To the parents surprise the wound heal immediately and the girl awoke from what seemed like a terrible nightmare. Without warning a giantess, whose arm had a distinctive scar upon it came running from the forest. She examined the situation and explained she heard the screams and ran as fast as she could. She glanced down at Escanor and at the happy family, realizing that her tardiness was not an issue. She looked at the Escanor distinctively and said: "Thank you" in a relatively sweet tone. Escanor was no stranger to seeing giants but he swore he recognised this one. He did not want to appear rude so he simply chose to be direct about it.
Escanor: "Pardon me m'lady, but, what is your name?" he asked, politely and in a sophisticated tone.
Giantess: "My name is Matrona, and you are?" she asked, awaiting her answer with great intrigue.
Escanor: "My name is Escanor!" He replied, contented with the answer to her question Matrona continued looking after the little girl with the parents, whilst Escanor left without causing too much of a hassle. He looked into the night sky and smiled to himself. He had been beating himself up internally after realizing he was selfish and chose to ask his own question instead of Diane's, however he now had the answer to that question as well. Surprisingly, things were going his way today and that was a rare thing indeed. He chose not to procrastinate his return to Liones and immediately set out on the road back, he would arrive before sunrise which was always the preferred time to arrive. He left the view of the family almost instantly and Matrona perked her head up.
Matrona: "Escanor… where have I heard that before?" she questioned, seemingly remembering the name, but, not where she knew it from. She did not let it bother her as the family she had come to care deeply for was safe.
Back at Liones:
The party was a huge success. All of the competitors injured or not were absolutely hammered and enjoying themselves more than they thought possible. Gowther had been acting out, King had become a depressive old man, Diane fell asleep due to overconsumption, Ban had passed out scattered across the capital due to an argument he had with Diane and King, Meliodas remained somewhat sober and continued drinking to his heart's content and Merlin remained inside unwilling to go the party due to her feeling slightly comfortable. She was still pestered by her feelings for Escanor, which she could not seem to hide. Were the poems she read enchanted? Was the rhyming scheme a sort of incantation or was Merlin having legitimate feelings for the Lion's sin of Pride? She remained awake in her magical facility, clutching the fabric of her dress across her heart. She desperately wanted him to return unharmed.
A few hours passed and the entire party had died down. The knights and citizens who were not drunk decided to reward the competitors by assisting in the clean-up, something Meliodas would have done anything to avoid. He himself had also fallen asleep next to Ban's top half and when he awake he noticed the night was still upon them. Rubbing his eyes he started walking towards Ban's lower half and bringing him together. He then placed his hands in a nearby well and washed his face.
Meliodas: "It's been a while since I actually got drunk!" he thought, laughing to himself. His high tolerance to alcohol made it almost impossible for him to get drunk. HE assumed last night was an exception and began waking himself up with a nice cold mug of Bernia Ale. We looked at the kingdom's castle only to see Merlin gazing out of one of the windows. She had remained awake all night waiting for Escanor to return and refused to rest until he had arrived safely. After being put back together, Ban woke up and began yawing very loudly, which woke up Diane and King. Gowther had simply deactivated for the night and had yet to see a reason to come back on. All of the sins looked at each other and nodded in agreement they were all tired and needed some rest. Ban, King and Meliodas left for Liones castle whilst Diane and Gowther returned to Merlin's magical facility. Upon their return Gowther entered the storage room where he could read books at candlelight, whilst Diane went to the recent extension to the facility; a barn where she could fit and sleep. She arrived at her rather spacious home and stretched her arms in order to lessen the strain on her muscles. She kicked off her boots and placed them next to the barn, where she knew nobody would steal them. The pleasant sensation of earth between her toes was an enjoyable one for her, considering she had been wearing her boots all day, taking them off felt incredibly good. She entered the barn and began moving the hay bales around in order to get comfortable. She then noticed two things in her barn; the new clothes king had made for her and a note, which had been delivered by Escanor. Upon reading the note her eyes widened and her mouth began to gape, her eyes teared up and nothing could stop the waterworks from being activated. All it said was: "The answer to your question is 'no', because she isn't dead". Diane went to sleep much happier than she had assumed. The page she was holding became illegible dur to her tears and thus became unusable information once again. She would wake up the next morning having completely forgotten about the question, mainly because her life was always interesting and she did not consider giving the note a second thought.
Sunrise was barely minutes away and Merlin's mood had been slowly declining hour by hour. She finally gave up looking through her window and slowly walked through the hall way, she then noticed Escanor near one of the large trees outside and her expression brightened up immediately. She ran out of the door towards the tree and saw him facing away from her. He turned to face Merlin, who blushed when their eyes met. She tried shaking off her feelings for him, but, they were too overpowering. He slowly walked closer to her and placed her head on his shoulder. Her face was now bright red and her expression had changed from one of happiness to one of shock. She lifted her head and stared at him for a few moments. They were in each other's embrace, mere centimetres away from each other's face. Both the sins looked at each other with an embarrassed stare as the sun began to rise. Merlin felt Escanor's body tense up as his muscles began expanding due to Sunshine's influence. He looked at her more confidently and decided that it was a good a time as any for them to share at least one moment with one another. Both the sins interlocked their lips whilst the sun was rising in the background. A truly magnificent sight only amplified by the two sins sharing their romantic feelings for one another. They ended their majestic kiss and retracted themselves in embarrassment. They looked at each and discussed the idea of keeping their relationship a secret, to which they both agreed. Nobody barring the two involved would ever hear about the events that took place on the 8th morning of the seven deadly competitions, but, that was what made the moment more magical!
Apologies for the tardiness of this chapter, I have been quite busy lately and had very little time to write anything. I recently finished my university semester so I will be posting more often in the months to come, though. I hope you enjoyed the chapter and stay tuned for more!