Chapter 1:

Chapter 1 - The holy knight

PowerPlay! ~ The odd tale about awesome powers, quirky personalities and why they make for an awful mix.

“Boss, these guys are serious… I think they’re coming our way…” Bookmark here

“Uhm, we might have trouble with the seating.” Answered back the old man.
“BOSS, THEY ARE THOUSANDS! We’ll never be able to accommodate them all…!!!” I responded while covering my face with both hands.
“AAAAH! Besides, these many holy knights must come from the Crystal Temple itself! There’s no way they’re coming all the way down here just to unwind, is there?!”Bookmark here

As I raised my despairing face from the palm of my hands, my eyes locked with those of Romon, who had begun stroking his grayish beard pensively.
“I wonder what holy knights drink…” Said my boss, trying to picture the holy beverages with his eyes closed.Bookmark here

A shriek of rage echoed in the crossroads as the few patrons began growing agitated with me.
My boss, sensing the confusion around him, calmly opened his mouth and declared:
“Calm down...” He opened his left eye, showing the bright golden glint of his iris.
“…I don’t smell a battle. And my instincts never lie.”Bookmark here

I once again raised my head only to meet his gaze. He was no longer Romon, the innkeep.
I was looking at Romon, the hunter.Bookmark here

Damn geezer, I always forget he’s human in appearance only.Bookmark here

“They’re here…” The rumbling sound of hooves and steel had stopped.
“…better take a step back, Dust.” He mumbled, closing his left eye dismissively.Bookmark here

SLAM!Bookmark here

In a single moment, the massive doors of the tavern were flung open with the strength of a speeding bull. Two knights in full battle garments stepped solemnly through the front door, their armor tingling with the resonance of a myriad bells.Bookmark here

“Tsk, lucky me I have good reflexes.” I groaned from the pile of empty ale crates I had jumped into, in an attempt to save my poor body from being crushed to a pulp.Bookmark here

The younger knight stepped forward. His cloak, decorated with the feathery symbols of the church, fluttered right in front of my face.Bookmark here

The Holy Church of Resonance. Bookmark here

The greatest religion on the continent. Strict, zealous and kind of out there, honestly. I don’t really know that much about them and I’m not trying to say that they’re bad people…
I’m just saying that they’re a bit difficult to deal with.Bookmark here

The empire already has somewhat of a religion surrounding the cult of our ancestors, so the church is not officially recognized in the provinces, but it does have a lot of practitioners. I mean, praying to the ancestors doesn’t give you control over cool sacred magic, does it? So the nobles and the small folk alike adhere to their beliefs. Every village has a priest, at least.
This obviously gives them a huge political influence. One would think that this could be seen as a menace to the empire officials. Or that it would easily make members of the order go astray, but in my memories I can’t recall a single priest ever taking part in anything even resembling a crime. Besides, they are the only ones going around magically healing people for free.Bookmark here

So why would they be difficult to deal with? Bookmark here

As I said, they’re not bad people per se…
…they’re just a bit…Bookmark here

“My lord, this place is not worthy of your presence… if you wish for refreshments I’m sure the capital can provide…”
Faith is a curious beast. I had picked myself up and proceeded to clean the mess I’d made on the floor. The youngest knight was right beside me. If he had looked around for even a moment, he would have noticed me. Knights are noble souls. They must be, in order to use their magic. I was actually quite sure that in any other situation the knight would have apologized and helped me up.
But it did not happen.
In his zeal to serve his lord paladin, he did not even see me.
It was like all of his attention was not enough. Like if all of his senses, all of his being was needed to respond to what he felt was a higher call. Bookmark here

The senior knight had raised a hand. “Enough, knight captain, I am here to meet a very important personage. I commend you and your men for following me without my request, but I now must speak with the proprietor of this fine establishment.”Bookmark here

The young knight captain surrendered and, with a sigh, he crossed the open doors to command the legion of faithful soldiers waiting outside. I just massaged my bruises and went to put the broom back in its place, trying to take a better look at the knight who was left standing in the hall.Bookmark here

He was certainly different from all other holy knights I had seen in my life.
His poise, his powerful gaze, his shining armor and armaments, they all told the onlooker he was...

…something special.Bookmark here

First off, the man was a giant. He was a bit shorter, but he could almost look Romon square in the eyes. His body had the gait of a trained warrior and the presence of a deacon.
His features were squared and strong. His raven-like hair and beard were well groomed like a nobleman’s, but kept modest and short like a monk’s. His deep black eyes had a focused piercing gaze that seemed to look straight into your soul.
But most of all, the man seemed to exude an aura of pure and soft devotion. It was truly supernatural. His presence alone had a soothing and calming effect, while at the same time it would inspire the reverence and righteous fear of a saint.Bookmark here

Who was this guy? Bookmark here

“My name is Nero Cicero Severo, lord paladin in service of the church. I would like to stay and make use of your services for the night.”Bookmark here

A paladin with a nobleman’s name? Curious.
It has a strange ring to it too…
Like it’s familiar, somehow…Bookmark here

Romon’s eyes flashed with curiosity too. “Well, well. The immortal knight, in the flesh…”Bookmark here

Immortal knight? THE immortal knight?! Here???
Isn't that a big shot from the church? Like, very close to the pope or something?!Bookmark here

“To what do I owe the honor of your visit, your grace?”
At those words, I finally took a furtive look around the room.Bookmark here

The few patrons left were squeamish to say the least. Many openly trembled. Others were praying with barred eyes. Some of them, probably the less innocent, were trying to make their escape, sneaking in the dark.Bookmark here

More like the honor of scaring away most of our clientele, I’d say...Bookmark here

“I am here to reunite with an old friend…” said the paladin, oblivious to what was going on around him.
“…he is a very important person, I expect I will be able to recognize him instantly from his overwhelmingly powerful aura.” He continued while resting his big armored body on a simple stool by the counter.Bookmark here

I could almost hear the stool scream.Bookmark here

Romon shot me a quick meaningful look and I sighed.
“Welcome to the Crossroads, sir. What can I bring you?” I asked with my most gentlemanly smile.
“Let’s see…” He did not even look at me, instead letting his gaze wander around the tavern to absorb each and every detail it could capture. His expression, now completely relaxed, showed the kind of joy one would usually reserve for special occasions. “…it’s not often I get to stay at a tavern, such as this…“
Right, right, why don’t you order something expensive to make up for all the clients you’ve scared away, uh?
“…It’s a really fine day too, the sun is bright and my spirit is high…”
I don’t care! Hurry up, give the geezer a reason to pay me at the end of this month!
“…yes, I think I’ll have some fresh goat milk!”
The paladin giggled embarrassedly, mumbling something about his precepts and thinking about them tomorrow.Bookmark here

The stool had it better.Bookmark here

“Right away, sir.” I responded and trudged mechanically to the kitchen door.
I quickly shot a glance at the two embarrassed patrons who were trying to escape through the kitchen window.
This was going to be a long, long shift
Bookmark here

-----Bookmark here

I groggily wrung the towel I had in my hands and looked outside the open window.

Two hours had passed and the sun had begun its descent in the afternoon sky.
I shifted my gaze to the counter, visible thanks to the small opening through which food and beverages could be delivered to the waiters. The sound of clutter and voices had once again filled the tavern floor, since the knights had begun taking the place of our usual patrons. Some of the bravest usuals had remained and were starting to get used to the intimidating presence of the holy crusaders, returning to their normal affairs.Bookmark here

It seemed unbelievable, but peace and quiet had finally returned to the Crossroads.Bookmark here

I sighed.
I sighed, because I knew better.
HE was still there.Bookmark here

I once again took a long hard look at the knight staring intently at his goat milk.
Yup, he still had to drink even a single drop of the foul thing.Bookmark here

There was something about him I simply could not place. Something that made me unable to let his presence fade out of my trailing thoughts.
He had not touched the whitish beverage in a couple of hours. And all the while he had giggled creepily, teetering on his seat with the expression of a child who could not contain his joy. Bookmark here

THAT was supposed to be the immortal knight of the church?Bookmark here

One of the four holy paladins capable of manifesting true miracles?
One of the most important charges of the church, equaling an entire army of soldiers in might and that was second only to the pope in hierarchy?!Bookmark here


I sighed.
Stop, no use trying to understand. Do like the old man does. Just go with the flow…
With the floooow…Bookmark here

“Flow?”Bookmark here

I screamed.
Just a little.Bookmark here

“AAAH! What was that scream just now?” Enrietta said, looking at me with her big green eyes widened in surprise.
“D-don’t whisper things from behind me! You idiot!” I said in a strained, unnatural voice.
“W-what?! I wasn’t whispering! I’d been calling you for a while…!” She snapped back, clearly taken by surprise.
“Ugh…” I took a moment to assess the situation and finally calmed down.
“Uh… s-sorry. I was spacing out and you spooked me a little.”
Enrietta smiled wickedly. “Just a little?” I gulped, knowing what would come next. “You call me an idiot, but you let out quite an interesting squeal just now, or did I imagine that?”
“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about…” I quickly averted my gaze.

“Anyways, how’s the situation outside? Knights giving you any trouble?” I smiled uneasily, hoping that my diversion would work.
“Uhm, I guess it’s good. Most of them have set up camp in the open fields near the Gratia...”
It did work!
“…they’ve mostly asked for fodder and spring water for their horses, so no need to man the stoves for now.”
Lucky, considering our best cook had taken the whole week as a vacation. Damn that guy.

“Anyway, wash these for me, will you…” She said as she filled my almost empty sink with glasses and jugs.
“Right on it, boss.” I responded.
“I’m not your boss, though.” She sulked.
“Well, you are the wicked spirit who always curses me with more work to do.” I gleefully answered back, while pointing at the overflowing sink.
“Idiot, I’m just doing my own work, you know?” She mumbled.
“Forgive me, oh vengeful spirit of overworking! Release me from thine grasp!”
“Oh, shut up.” She splashed me with cold water from the sink, she then picked up some more jugs of fresh water and finally went out of the door, whistling softly.

I watched her leave without drying my face, all the while efficiently letting my hands do their work.

Dripping calmly in the afternoon sun, I thought to myself…Bookmark here

Finally some peace, uh? Let’s hope it stays this way till night…Bookmark here

In that precise moment…
The ground began to rumble under my feet.Bookmark here

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Not again! Gods above, not again!Bookmark here

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Taylor Victoria
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