Chapter 7:

Crimson Robes (Part 1)

Last Tale: Return of the Guardian Knight

Coughing and spurting blood as he got stomped on and kicked around by the mysterious woman, Leo tried his best to stay conscious. He was having a hard time deciding whether he should fight or take flight. Either of those options did not favour him in any way. There was something familiar about her, but he could not place his finger on the exact details.Bookmark here

He did not have the luxury to think about things that did not directly relate to his survival in the current situation.Bookmark here

Not being able to use or sense his skills made him anxious and prevented him from thinking calmly. Not being able to sense any attribute from the negligible amount of mana in his body added to his worries.Bookmark here

For the first time in a long while, he was afraid. A genuine overwhelming horror conquered him. A bone-chilling anxiety-induced fear settled in his bones as he continued to lose strength while being tossed around like a rag-doll.Bookmark here

The unison of voices continued chanting the same question telepathically as if they were possessed. None of the bodies, except the woman kicking Leo, moved. They stood like statutes under the crimson sky.Bookmark here

Although he had regained his memories, his present situation was a mystery to him. He had all the pieces of the puzzle but failed to piece them together.Bookmark here

Leo laughed at himself for even considering him as the strongest being in all creation. All his former titles and achievements seemed laughable. They were nothing more than mere participation trophies in the big picture in an endless world. He was too weak.Bookmark here

The weak have their pride and principles defined by their ego and arrogance. Leo mumbled with a smirk, “If I have to disappear then it will be on my own terms. Let’s make this end an ugly one.”Bookmark here

He mumbled his resolution as an act of reminder to not change his mind. In the face of overwhelming strength, everything comes to nought.Bookmark here

Bracing for another kick on his stomach, Leo prepared mentally to grab the woman’s foot. That was all there was to his plan. He had no afterthoughts because he lacked the confidence of being able to achieve the minor accomplishment. To his expectation, right before the moment of impact, his body instinctively flinched and he curled up on the liquid floor like a pill bug.Bookmark here

To his surprise, he did not feel any pain. Instead of feeling the pain in his gut from being kicked and the momentary weightlessness at the instance of being tossed a distance, Leo felt a warm caressing whisper on his exposed skin.Bookmark here

The warmth was soft and gentle, but more than anything, it was familiar. It was melodic, in harmony with his soul, and made his mana excite. Leo recognized the warm feeling.Bookmark here

He trembled in shock as he continued to lie down, covered in blood. He would never forget that feeling. That was the one thing he could never forget. It was ingrained in every fibre of his being. He knew the warmth he was stained in. Involuntary tears rolled down his cheeks as he sat up without opening his eyes and faced the source of the warmth.Bookmark here

With a choke in his throat, he forgot everything about his current situation.Bookmark here

A bright light penetrated his shut eyelids. Slowly opening his eyes, Leo faced a large door standing in the middle of nowhere in the crimson world. The door had a strong, oppressive presence, but at the same time, it was warm and welcoming.Bookmark here

The gate was comprised of two symmetrically designed wings with marble-like texture rising and merging into an arch. The material that the door was made of had a strong luminescence and strong concentrations of mana leaked in the form of white vapours.Bookmark here

The doors were decorated with relief carvings of a great-sword, almost as big as the door, with its axis overlapping the split between the two wings. The sword was positioned with the top of the blade pointing to the base of the door and the end of the grip pointing to the apex of the arch.Bookmark here

The grip of the sword was detailed with a scale-like pattern. The hilt was a simple base and the blade was engraved with sharp and frenzied lines. The blade was also coiled by vines, whose stalk grew thicker, downwards, towards the tip of the blade. The leaves on the vines were hastate.Bookmark here

The tip of the blade was hidden behind a field of tall grass decorating the base of the door which also concealed the foundation of the vines.Bookmark here

Leo trembled and uncontrollable cried silent tears, while he sat and faced the door. The world around him had suddenly calmed down. There were no more voices in his head. He was no longer being kicked and tossed around. There was no one around him anymore. Everything he was facing seemed like a bad dream which he was waking up from. He did not bother checking around to confirm his thoughts.Bookmark here

The leaking mana from the door slowly reached for Leo and intertwined with his colourless mana. He suddenly felt at ease. He was relaxed and could finally think clearly.Bookmark here

Leo stood up like a puppet bound by smoke strings. The ripped fabrics that remained on his body were soaked in blood and weighed him down. He made his way, one step at a time, towards the large door before him. Getting close to the door, Leo placed his hand on the carving of the great-sword on the door. Tears continued to flow down his cheek as he was overwhelmed by the warmth emanating from the gate before him.Bookmark here

With a heavy choke in his throat, Leo whispered under his breath, “Clara!”Bookmark here

Now that his mind had calmed down, Leo was able to finally think about the details of his situation.Bookmark here

Blood Prison! It was the price he had to pay. He had completely forgotten that every action had a consequence and a price to be paid for. The price he had to pay for using the final skill in his archive was that his soul would be trapped in the Blood Prison.Bookmark here

It was thought of as a myth and a story. It was supposed to be a prison worse than hell that chips away at the soul, tormenting and torturing the prisoner till there was nothing left. It was said to be a place of eternal misery without an escape and the soul trapped in it would forever be destroyed without being able to join the cycle of reincarnation. Even Leo, who had seen wonders and miracles, had his doubts about the existence of this place as well.Bookmark here

His expression slowly changed. With seriousness in his eyes, he contemplated on a few bothersome topics. He tried remembering the stories and legends he had heard over the years about the blood prison. But for some reason, he could not remember anything except the vague details.Bookmark here

Leo suddenly felt a presence behind him.Bookmark here

He turned his head to look behind him without turning around. The woman who was kicking him stood a few feet away from him.Bookmark here

He had one question that took priority over all else. He wanted to know the reason he could sense the mana before him. His eyes reflected the seriousness of his question.Bookmark here

Without a moment’s delay, the woman replied telepathically, “Yes! She was here!”
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Cours Twent
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