Chapter 72:

Sword of the Demon Emperor

The Children of Eris

Stood in the centre of the room wearing only thin clothes and armed with her spear, Hilda stood in silence with her eyes closed, breathing calmly. Bookmark here

Mania had told Hilda that today would be her final test and, if she passed, she would be worthy to serve as the Demon Emperor’s knight.Bookmark here

However, Mania hadn’t told her what she had to do to pass the test.Bookmark here

Over the last five months that she had trained with Mania, Hilda had gone from fighting a single skeleton to fighting an entire team of adventurers by herself. Bookmark here

She had been beaten, bruised and wounded, but she had never stopped trying.Bookmark here

She’d even requested that they held more training sessions together after Scylla and Charybdis had been summoned. Bookmark here

Every time Hilda overcame Mania’s tests, Mania escalated the difficulty by a considerable amount which was why Hilda was steeling herself for the hardest challenge of her life.Bookmark here

“Hilda, I want you to listen to me very carefully,” Mania said from across the room. “In a moment, I will release your opponents into the arena for you to kill, not defeat. Do you understand?”Bookmark here

Hilda nodded.Bookmark here

“I do not expect you to hesitate for even a second,” Mania continued as the rattling of metal cages echoed around them. “If, for any reason, you do not strike down your opponent with the intention of killing them, then you will not be qualified to become his majesty’s knight. Do you understand?”Bookmark here

Hilda nodded.Bookmark here

“Say that you understand.”Bookmark here

“…I…understand.”Bookmark here

“Good. Now.” Mania clapped her hands twice and the heavy footsteps of Machai soon followed. “We shall be releasing your thirty opponents in one group of ten and the other as a group of twenty. You will kill all of them with only your spear before they can kill you. If they kill you, then they get to go free. Do you understand?”Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“Then, on the count of three, the first cages shall be opened and your opponents will fight you to the death,” Mania continued. “If they try to run out of the arena, we’ll just push them back in. Won’t we, Machai?”Bookmark here

The Machai grunted and beat their chests, terrifying the prisoners in their cages.Bookmark here

“Release the first batch,” Mania commanded.Bookmark here

The steel door of the cage was thrown open and ten humans in ragged clothing carrying rusty weapons stepped out, panicked, crying and scared out of their minds.Bookmark here

As soon as Mania had ordered the captive’s release, Hilda struck.Bookmark here

She flew across the room with a powerful kick and thrust the tip of her spear into a man’s heart, instantly killing him. She tore it free, spun around, and cut another man’s head off. Hilda then took out the legs of the next person closest to her before stabbing them in the face.Bookmark here

The remaining seven combatants panicked.Bookmark here

Two fell onto their knees and begged for mercy, one tried to run but a Machai pushed them back into the arena and the other three charged at Hilda. Hilda easily parried the first and second attacks, then bent beneath the third attacker’s blade. She then grabbed the third attacker by the collar and slammed them head first into the stone floor.Bookmark here

The woman’s skull cracked open before Hilda discarded her corpse and swept her spear through the stomachs of the other two attackers. Bookmark here

With those three dead, Hilda easily decapitated the last three as they cried and screamed for mercy.Bookmark here

Per Mania’s instructions, Hilda didn’t hesitate once.Bookmark here

“Release the rest,” Mania ordered.Bookmark here

The twenty remaining prisoners all decided to charge at Hilda after seeing how ruthlessly she’d dispatched the others.Bookmark here

However, even outnumbered like that, Hilda wasn’t fazed.Bookmark here

She increased the speed and power behind each of her strikes, cutting through them like butter.Bookmark here

She avoided their attacks and speared them through the chest whenever an opening appeared.Bookmark here

When a few tried to get behind her, Hilda fell back a few metres to stop them encircling her.Bookmark here

No matter what the desperate prisoners did, Hilda cut them down ruthlessly and efficiently without once hesitating.Bookmark here

When the last body hit the floor, the room and Hilda herself were covered in blood. Bookmark here

“Congratulations, Hilda,” Mania said, clapping as she approached her. “No honour, no chivalry and no quarter. All that mattered to you was performing your duty.”Bookmark here

“…Yes, Lady…Mania,” Hilda replied.Bookmark here

“Why did you fight like that?”Bookmark here

“Because…you ordered me…to.”Bookmark here

“Even though you didn’t know who those people were? Where they came from? Whether they were criminals or not? Did none of that matter to you?”Bookmark here

Hilda shook her head. “You told me…to kill…so, I kill,” Hilda answered. “There’s no need…to think…about anything else.”Bookmark here

Mania smile widened. “Excellent. As you said, that is all that should matter to you. If his majesty tells you to do something, you do it, no matter what. That is your duty as his knight. Bookmark here

“The people you killed were members of the Sons of Tartarus and a few curious peasants that got too close to the Dread Keep.” Mania giggled. “Of course, that meant sending Ravens disguised as soldiers to inform their loved ones that they’d offended Lord Kelsey and were dead. If there’s one thing those birds excel at, it’s their illusion spells.”Bookmark here

“I’d say they excel as assassins, too, Mania,” David proclaimed as he entered the room. Mania, Hilda and all the Machai knelt before him as he approached. “It seems that I was too late to see Hilda’s finest moment.”Bookmark here

“If I had known you were coming, I would’ve gladly postponed it for you, your majesty,” Mania answered.Bookmark here

“It’s fine. How was she?”Bookmark here

Mania raised her head and flashed David a bright smile. “She was beautiful, your majesty. She passed her exam with flying colours; I truly believe she is worthy to call herself your knight.”Bookmark here

David smiled. “High praise, indeed, and it would seem like she did excellently. Hilda, while I am sad to have missed your finest moment, I am pleased to hear that Mania’s training has paid off.”Bookmark here

“…Thank you…very much,” Hilda said, keeping her head low.Bookmark here

“Although.” David frowned a little. “I am surprised that you were so easily able to kill, especially another human, so easily. You haven’t let her kill any humans before today, have you, Mania?”Bookmark here

“I haven’t, your majesty.”Bookmark here

“I thought so. Hilda, tell me, why were you so easily able to kill other humans?”Bookmark here

It took everything I had to kill those three back at the Shadow Tombs, David thought. It took me more than five minutes before I had the courage to stand before Connor’s team and kill them.Bookmark here

How did you do it without hesitating even though it was your first time?Bookmark here

Hilda slowly lifted her head, then stood proudly with her back straight before David and spoke slowly.Bookmark here

“Humans abandoned me …raped me, tried…to kill me…Why should I…have any love…for any of them…outside this castle’s walls?”Bookmark here

I’m happy to hear that she at least considers Eva and the others that way.Bookmark here

“I think Hilda’s hard work has earned a reward, don’t you, Master?” Mania asked.Bookmark here

“Yes, she has. Bring it in here.”Bookmark here

Mania clicked her fingers at two of the Machai standing off to the side. They promptly left the room before returning a minute later with a mannequin covered in a cloth and a long leather case.Bookmark here

The Machai dragged a table before Hilda, placing the case on top of it and the mannequin beside it. Bookmark here

“…What is…this?” Hilda whispered.Bookmark here

“When the Sons of Tartarus fell, we found many great treasures in their vaults,” David explained as he walked towards the mannequin. “They had many great things that would help us with the coming war, including the world’s strongest, and rarest, metal. To even make one suit of armour from it would bankrupt a duke.Bookmark here

“However.” David gripped the cloth tightly with his fingers. “We were not only able to salvage hundreds of ingots of it, we also found talented blacksmiths who were more than willing to forge the Draconic Metal into armour and weapons. They’re making new equipment for me, my generals and the rest of the council, but.” David started to pull on the cloth. “I asked them to make this one first.”Bookmark here

David pulled the cloth off the mannequin, revealing a suit of Draconic plate armour tailor made to fit Hilda.Bookmark here

It looked like a normal knight’s uniform made of steel, but it had a black and white trim along the plates and an obsidian-coloured satyr’s skull on the chest piece. The helmet was based on one David had seen in his old world: the Sutton Hoo helmet which had metal guards to protect the mouth and ears. Bookmark here

In order to make Hilda’s armour look even more demonic and befitting of the Demon Emperor’s knight, he had two satyr’s horns modelled onto the side of the helmet. Bookmark here

“As of today, you are the Satyr Knight, my personal knight and a member of my council,” David proclaimed. “I have also had a mighty spear crafted for you and you alone to use. Mania.”Bookmark here

Mania smiled and opened the case, revealing an imposing looking two-metre-long spear with a crossguard beneath the tip, and a spike at the bottom of the shaft. Bookmark here

Hilda slowly reached to grasp at the spear but hesitated.Bookmark here

She looked to David for approval and he nodded., Hilda swallowed and picked up the spear.Bookmark here

Despite its size and fact that it was made of metal, it was lighter than her usual spear. Hilda then examined the blade more closely. She gently grazed her fingers over it and drew a little bit of blood.Bookmark here

Hilda put the spear back in the case and dropped to one knee before David, lowering her head.Bookmark here

“Your majesty…from this day forth, I…Hilda…swear eternal, undying loyalty…to you…my saviour…the Demon Emperor,” Hilda vowed. “No matter what you…ask of me…I shall…perform my duty as you…will.”Bookmark here

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David smiled and put his hand on her shoulder. “I thank you for your pledge, Hilda, and have great hopes for your future.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.