Invincible, that is the Legend
Disclaimer: I do not own 1/2 Prince of the Legend of Sun Knight and make no profit from writing this.
Chapter 11: Invincible Competition; Welcome to the Church of the God of Light
Feng Yang Ming, currently stuck as his avatar Feng Wu Qing, tapped his fan against his hand, eyes roving across the courtyard. This place looked pretty similar to Second Life, but it was a lot less fantastical. The pillars and arches of the building he was in reminded him of Rome, or maybe it was Greece (Yang Ming had never quite learned the difference), but the knights bustling about were totally rip-offs from medieval literature. If Yang Ming had to choose a place to be stuck in, he would rather be stuck in a wuxia novel. Then, he would be able to be like Chu Liu Xiang, using qinggong to glide across water and jump straight to the top of a house in two leaps while winning over the ladies with his gallant deeds!
Sadly, that fantasy of his had not come true. Instead, he was stuck in this place full of knights, there wasn't even a single girl in sight, and his abilities stayed the same as the ones he already had from Second Life. Well, mostly the same. He and Doll had experimented during their stay with Chasel once they realized they really didn't have the option of logging off.
While Doll was still capable of using magic, it had reacted unexpectedly and was actually stronger than she was used to, which led to her being chased by a bunch of skeletons that she had summoned herself. It was also what had brought the attention of the knights to them, but according to Chasel, they would have needed to meet eventually anyway. Still, if not for Doll's initial troubles with her summons, they would at least have been saved from being ganged up on by the knights-in-white.
After the summoning fiasco, Doll and Yang Ming had collapsed and laughed for a good long while. Yang Ming thought he probably should have been more chivalrous given that he was technically "Wu Qing," who he roleplayed as a courteous martial hero, but the sight of Doll being chased by her own summons had been hilarious. Especially when those same skeletons finally caught up with her and tossed her into the air like what people might do after winning a baseball game.
Doll confessed afterward that it made her remember how she had ended up joining Odd Squad, with Prince-gēge getting defamed from killing her summons, and Lolidragon-jiějie beautifully dismantling the bones. It had been a long time since she'd last lost control of her own summons.
"What do you think Prince-gēge is doing?" Doll had asked while one of her skeletons was courteous in Yang Ming's place and gave her a hand up.
"Being lost, I bet," Yang Ming had answered and waved off the help of the skeleton that had come over to give him a hand. It wasn't until later that Doll and Yang Ming realized that the skeletons hadn't blinked out of existence after being summoned, and Doll couldn't dismiss them either. That was another difference from Second Life. As a result, Chasel ended up with some new housekeepers. They were actually not bad at taking care of Chasel's house plants, but putting on the tea was a whole different matter.
Doll's question got Yang Ming thinking of everyone else. If his sister hadn't ended up stranded with anyone, Yang Ming had no doubt that she was super duper lost. Unfortunately, without cell phones, internet, or the ability to PM, Yang Ming couldn't contact or find her. The same went for Lolidragon, though Yang Ming was a lot less worried about her than he was about his sister. His sister, after all, was someone who could end up on an entirely different continent because of her direction sense. Lolidragon, on the other hand, would surely eat everyone around her alive. Yang Ming had no doubt about it, and he loved that about her. Still, even though he wasn't overly worried for her, he would still rather know where she was than not know at all!
...Okay, fine, he'll admit it. He was still really worried about Lolidragon even though she probably didn't need anyone's help. More like, the people around her probably needed help!
Yang Ming couldn't say he was very close to Doll, and he was probably even less close to Kenshin, but at least he wasn't stranded in this medieval rip-off alone. He couldn't say the same for everyone else. Yang Ming didn't know it, but the others truly weren't as lucky as him. Especially Ming Huang, who was in quite a predicament.
After their initial meeting with the head honchos, eight knights whom Yang Ming thought had probably all been chosen for their good looks, they had been invited to stay in this "Holy Temple" place instead of taking up space at Chasel's house, something about how they'd have more resources and help here to look for their companions. Now, they were being shown the place.
Their tour guide was one of the lackeys of the knights-in-white who had ganged up on Doll and Kenshin at the marketplace. This particular knight seemed to have no qualms rambling off even when two thirds of his audience understood not a single word, and the one person who did rarely responded.
"Sdnuorg gniniart eht si siht!" The knight exclaimed, fairly excitable for a knight. He gestured outside. "Sllird ot noitisnart ew nehw ereh gninnur ruo dne dna noitacol siht morf spal gninrom ruo trats ew!"
"How cool!" Doll answered.
"...Do you know what he's saying?" Yang Ming asked.
"Nope!" came Doll's answer.
Both Yang Ming and Doll turned, eagerly looking at Kenshin, the same thing they'd been doing ever since waking up in this foreign world. Their taciturn translator merely said, "Training grounds."
Yang Ming looked outside where several knights were swinging their swords. Even if Kenshin hadn't said the two words, "training grounds," it was easy enough to see what the place was. Unfortunately, it didn't seem like Kenshin planned on translating any more than those two words.
"Bet Prince would go crazy here," Yang Ming concluded while watching the knights. Over all the hot guys. Shoot, Lolidragon would join right in with Sis! He flicked his fan open. There are way too many good looking knights here! What is up with that? Yang Ming was starting to think he was correct about them choosing knights based on their appearances. Good thing Lolidragon isn't here!
"Right? Prince-gēge would love having so many strong opponents!" Doll chimed in.
...There's that too, but I was more thinking along the lines of how she'd be drooling...
Since Yang Ming hadn't been able to understand the conversation at the meeting with the eight head honchos, he had instead spent his time evaluating each of them. And boy were they tough competition.
The majority of them could be called baddies, the bad boy type that girls just loved to throw themselves at to see if they could melt their hearts. There were only two knights who seemed friendlier, a brash redhead with a loud voice and a down-to-earth guy who kept stuttering. Normally, Yang Ming would score them lower - friendly guys weren't anywhere near popular in current times - but considering how the majority of them were either just as much of an ice cube as Kenshin, or they were on the sadistic-looking end, Yang Ming supposed that these two friendlier looking guys could be a sight for sore eyes.
Among the six baddies, the number one ice cube had to be the completely expressionless knight with pale hair. He rarely spoke, and even when he did, he only spoke in short sentences. If Kenshin, Cold Fox, and the ice cube knight were all put in the same room, the room would probably freeze over!
The most suspicious-looking was a dark-haired knight who wore a mask and skin-tight clothes, showing off his perfect abs. Even their game characters didn't have abs as perfect as his! Enemy of all men, that one was. Still, he had nothing on the towering hunk who had opted not to wear a shirt at all. Damn, those muscles! Other guys would probably be envious, but Yang Ming wasn't trying for the buff look, so... whatever.
If a girl were into masochism, there was even an ultra baddie type, a total punk with blond hair, piercings, belts, chains, and knives. And then, if a girl wanted to be insulted, she could always depend on the haughty, long-haired knight who would definitely win the race for being the most condescending ten out of ten times. Gods, just how many girls has that one made cry?
Last but not least, there was the leader of the head honchos, the head head honcho. He sat at the end of the table in oppressive black, eyes a dark glare, as if everyone before him was a sinner. However, when he spoke with Chasel, who had taken the seat next to him, his expression relaxed just a teeny bit.
Yang Ming had no doubt about it. He must totally be what people called the "tsundere" type, even more than the ice cube!
What a place with terrifying competition. No matter what type of guy a girl sought, this place had it. Well, almost. They were just missing cute, dazzling, flirty, and inconspicuous.
Too bad. Yang Ming had almost thought he'd walked into the perfect host club. Still, his sister and Lolidragon would totally be drooling over everyone if they were here!
Their tour guide, Ed from the Sun Knight Platoon, continued babbling away, clueless about how very far his audience's minds where from what he was introducing. Even if he'd known, he'd still continue rambling away, so it didn't really make a difference.
When Yang Ming sleepily woke up from a good night's sleep, Kenshin was seated by the window, looking outward, sword resting against his shoulders. Yang Ming yawned and stretched, lazily running a hand through his hair.
Come to think of it, it was strange seeing Kenshin's hair so unrestrained, eye-catching red falling about his shoulders, pooling by his propped feet. Kenshin had given his hair tie to that princely knight on a horse, who, now that Yang Ming thought about it, could probably fill in for one of the missing types among the head honchos.
Yang Ming rummaged around, pulling out an extra hair tie. "Here."
Kenshin turned but didn't take the hair tie. It was getting a little awkward, holding up the hair tie like this, so Yang Ming placed it on the table in case Kenshin wanted it. At least, he had tried.
Then, he flopped back in bed and asked, "Figure anything out?"
Kenshin didn't answer. Maybe the guy wasn't contemplating the mysteries of the universe like Yang Ming had thought. He almost fell asleep again when the clink of a sword woke him up. He lifted his head and saw Kenshin tying his hair up. When he finished, Kenshin gave a nod toward the door, katana in hand.
A spar, huh? Yang Ming was impressed with himself at how much better he'd gotten at reading Kenshin. "Sure, let's go."
He poked Doll awake, and off they went. Maybe he shouldn't be poking princesses awake, but Doll was Doll, and she'd hate to be left out.
Is this how Cold Fox always feels? Kenshin could not help wondering as he dodged Feng Wu Qing's rapier. Is this what true battle is?
Kenshin had never been able to figure out the allure of battle. Fighting was just that, fighting. He was programmed to be a boss NPC, his levels set at the max. His stats could not grow. He could not learn new skills or abilities. Cold Fox always delighted in challenging him, and each time they fought, he could see Cold Fox becoming stronger. Faster. Deadlier. Cold Fox's fighting told him that fighting was what made Cold Fox feel alive.
What then, about himself?
Kenshin won each time, but he did not "improve" like Cold Fox did. All he could do was alter his current abilities - perhaps use his sword drawing technique at a different angle, or use aerial leap in conjunction with one of his strikes - but that was it. He could not surpass his programming. His programming made him strong, but, at the same time, stagnant.
Fighting had never been difficult for Kenshin, whether or not he could improve. He had always moved at ease, his skills a part of him since he'd gained awareness. Fighting had never been like this, where his breathing quickened, where his muscles screamed, where each step, each parry meant he was just that much closer to exhaustion, just that much closer to figuring out how he could change.
Is this what Cold Fox always feels?
This was battle, battle like Kenshin had never known it. This was why Cold Fox always reveled in it. Here in this foreign world, Kenshin finally understood.
Wu Qing's rapier glanced to the side, and its owner hurriedly surrendered. "I'm really no match for you," he said.
Kenshin's heart was still pounding furiously fast, but he willed himself to put away his katana. Without a strong enough opponent, Kenshin wouldn't be able to figure things out to the end. Perhaps this too was why Cold Fox always sought him out. Kenshin flicked his eyes at his sparring partner, who was now fixing his clothes and making himself look presentable.
Wu Qing had actually improved a lot since they began sparring, so Kenshin said as much. "You've improved."
It was just two simple words, but the result was a goofy grin that lifted Kenshin's mood.
"Might I also ask if you are available to practice sword-fighting with me?" a deep voice asked.
Kenshin turned. Behind him stood Chasel's student, the current Judgment Knight. At the meeting the other day, it was this particular knight who had commanded word to be sent to all major cities in the Kingdom of Forgotten Sound.
The message went like this: "Execution Squad, gather at Leaf Bud City."
Wu Qing wrote the message in Chinese. Doll wrote the message in English. They signed it with their names and figured that should cover their bases with their companions. While it was possible that their companions could have ended up outside of the Kingdom of Forgotten Sound, they would have to think of a different way to send word to territories not under the Church of the God of Light's jurisdiction.
Based on the way Judgment Knight carries himself, he should be an accomplished fighter. Kenshin thought. Next to Kenshin, Wu Qing had a blank look on his face, not knowing what the Judgment Knight had just said. To Kenshin, everyone's words sounded the same, but it was not so for Wu Qing and Doll.
Judgment Knight explained, "I came to tell you that the Pope wishes to see you later." He paused and added, "That was excellent swordplay just now."
Kenshin inclined his head in acknowledgement. Then, he placed his hand on the hilt of his katana and got into a battle-ready stance. Upon seeing his stance, Judgment Knight likewise got ready.
Wu Qing's eyes widened. "Hey, give me a warning if you two are going to fight!" Even as he complained, he quickly stepped backward to give them room. Doll tugged on Wu Qing's arm, bidding him to come stand next to her and watch.
Kenshin flew forward, drawing his katana at lightning speed. His opponent warded him off and pushed him back, almost enough to numb Kenshin's hand.
A thrill ran through Kenshin as he met dark, analytical eyes.
Cold Fox, is this what it means to be alive?
"He invited you to spar with him again?" Yang Ming asked. "With another knight as well?"
Kenshin gave a curt nod. "The Hell Knight. Tonight."
Well, well, guess that means I need to prepare the guazi! Or the popcorn! Or... whatever they have here that spectators can eat while watching a good show. Because man had that been an amazing bout of swordplay Yang Ming had just been privy to. It was too bad he hadn't had any guazi to munch on, and Judgment Knight had to leave to oversee drills or something like that.
They were currently on their way to this place called the "Sanctuary of Light" to meet the Pope. It was a lot more to Yang Ming's liking than the Holy Temple. Just like how girls tended to like playing mages and priests in games, Yang Ming could see at a glance that the priests here were made of a similar population - dominated by girls.
Though they didn't speak the same language, Yang Ming gave them a wink to show his appreciation. The girls giggled, and the down-to-earth knight that was showing them the way grimaced upon seeing Yang Ming's wink.
Huh. Funny reaction.
Their tour guide this time was the Earth Knight, who stuttered and blushed a lot, especially whenever any of the priestesses passed by them. It was actually kind of painful to see someone so tall act so timid, but at least it wasn't as disgusting as looking into Undying Man's eyes. If anything, this knight's timidness was working quite well on the priestesses.
Since the healers around them were dominated by priestesses, Yang Ming thought that perhaps the Pope would also be an elegant beauty. He could dream, right?
However, instead of the elegant beauty Yang Ming had dreamed up, they were instead greeted by a little boy!
The Church of the God of Light was not as grand as Doll's own palace, but it was cozy, like Infinite City. The study they had been led to by the fumbling Earth Knight reminded Doll of where White Bird-jiějie and Yu Lian-jiějie would assign them their tasks. By the table sat a boy wearing a veil. When Doll and the others walked in, the boy set down his teacup.
"Sgniteerg," he said, probably in some sort of welcome, and stood up. "Tnemaciderp ruoy tuoba em dlot evah Sthgink Yloh Evlewt Eht. Epop eht ma I."
She looked up at Kenshin-gēge, hoping he would translate. The latter monotonously said, "He's the Pope, and he already knows about us from the Twelve Holy Knights."
The Pope? If this had been Second Life, Doll would have guessed that the Pope was like her and had chosen a younger appearance than what he looked like in real life. However, this wasn't Second Life. There wasn't a separate reality where these people would stop being knights and priests. This was reality. And the Pope was a little boy.
Kenshin-gēge dutifully translated the Pope's words. Doll hadn't stopped being impressed upon learning that Kenshin-gēge could understand the people here. Even she didn't know the language, and she knew a lot of languages! Kenshin-gēge had explained that it wasn't like that, but she still thought it impressive.
The Pope explained that their case was quite unusual, not what the Church usually handled. But for the safety of the kingdom, they would look into the situation. It would not do to have random people from other places dumped here. Who knew what kinds of people would end up coming through? Future visitors might not be as benevolent as Doll and her friends.
Like the Judgment Knight had commanded, word was being sent to all the major cities in the Kingdom of Forgotten Sound. They would update them on the situation if anything changed. Meanwhile, the Pope was looking into the mechanics of how they had ended up here to see if he could devise a way for them to return.
"He says he'll need to analyze the place where we passed through," Kenshin-gēge said.
"Chasel-gēge's place then?" Doll wondered.
With that said, the Pope began circling around Doll, examining her from head to toe. Wu Qing-gēge stepped closer, giving the Pope a haughty look.
"She's totally out of your league!" he said.
Doll giggled. Wu Qing-gēge and Kenshin-gēge are both so protective! "Wu Qing-gēge, he's the Pope! Doll may be a princess, but the Pope is a very high position too. Besides, Doll isn't a princess here."
In any case, Doll was very curious about the Pope too. His hair was snow-white, like Prince-gēge's, but he was a lot shorter than Prince-gēge, only around Doll's height. Doll didn't think he could be much older than her.
The Pope shook his head for some reason, and muttered a bunch of words. Then, he turned to Kenshin and spoke some more while gesturing at Doll. Doll tilted her head in incomprehension.
"He is amazed at your dual nature," Kenshin translated. "Are you truly an angel?"
Doll blinked. She turned to the Pope and flapped her tiny wings. The wings had actually been itching ever since Doll had come to this world.
The Pope gasped and circled around Doll even faster, both nodding and shaking his head. Then, he took a step backwards.
"He hopes you can demonstrate some of your necromancy," Kenshin translated the Pope's next few words.
A simple summon would be boring, wouldn't it? The Pope seemed to want to see what she could do. Doll ran through her choices. Anything with flames would be too dangerous. Mind made up, she shouted, "Undead creature bone dragon from the remotest depths of hell, abandon your slumber and answer the call of the necromancer, Doll. Come and help show the Pope that Doll is a true necromancer!"
Summoning here wasn't merely spending mana and activating a skill. She could feel her mana becoming depleted, but even as that happened, mana from outside would start filling in the void. Her summons didn't just come from nowhere either. When she summoned the skeletons, they had scared her out of her wits because they had come from below the ground, likely to be the skeletons of people who had been buried there.
Where then, would this dragon come from? Doll was a little curious.
It was perhaps not a very smart idea to experiment in the Pope's study. At first, nothing happened, and Doll almost thought her summon had failed. How disappointing.
But then, the whole building shook from a hard impact. All of the people in the room looked up at the gaping hole that had appeared in the ceiling. The Earth Knight immediately cast a shield to protect them from the falling debris. They watched as bony claws grasped the sides of the hole in the roof.
Amazed, the Pope lifted his veil, looking up at the bone dragon with wide, green eyes.
The bone dragon was the center of gossip for several days to come, and since it couldn't be dismissed, Doll had to train it instead. She also found out that the Pope was actually a lot like Yu Lian-jiějie. He was scary when it came to money! It was unfortunate that Doll did not have money here, despite having a lot of money as a princess. She felt really guilty about the hole in the roof. As a trade, Doll was helping the Pope out with studying her brand of necromancy.
Every day, Doll eagerly waited for news of their missing companions. When a messenger came bringing news, she brightened, thinking it would be news of Prince-gēge and the others.
Instead, it was a message from the Leaf Knight, asking for help.
to be continued
A/N: While watching Log Horizon, I thought it to be a pity that I hadn't explored in detail all the ramifications of game characters ending up a real world that operates by different rules. So, this chapter ended up focusing on that a bit more.
After 11 chapters, we finally meet the Twelve Holy Knights! Somewhat properly! Or well, not really. Yang Ming... that's not the proper way to introduce everyone! I hope, for readers that do not know LSK, that this isn't too confusing. XD; In the first version of this chapter, I actually had them meet Cloud (he even had a scene all to himself), but when I rewrote the chapter, Cloud ended up disappearing altogether...
Thanks for reading! You rock!