After the Easter incident, many Holy Knights were vaguely aware of what truly happened to Adio, though there was no official report from the warrior-bishop. One of the Holy Knights who had a hunch that Adio was on the run was his wife. She knew that something had happened the night of the incident, since Adio hadn’t come home. She suspected that it had something to do with how he voiced his opinion against the warrior-general. Royse was worried for her husband, however she didn’t try to go after him. She trusted that he would eventually come back for her and their son, Col.
Sadly, this trust would not last. Adio had, unknowingly, paid a steep price for his new power.
“To gain my power, you must shed all ties with your god and entrust them with the one closest to you”. That is what the Son of Satan told Adio when he accepted his new power. He had not lied to Adio. That was the only price he had to pay. Unfortunately, this price is much more steep than it first seems. Humans can only handle a certain amount of connection to God. If the person closest to Adio weren’t a Saint, a sickness would befall them and kill them within hours.
Unfortunately, the person closest to Adio was Royse, a Saint. Instead of a physical sickness befalling her, her mental state steadily deteriorated. She began to transform from a strong-willed Saint into a mad zealot. And that’s when the voice began to speak to her.
Kill them all. Kill all of the demons that plague your world. Kill all that dare to defy the church. Kill all that deny your god. Enforce your will upon the masses. For your will is the will of god.
As she heard the voices, Royse felt a twisted emotion overcome her entire being. She felt love. A love that would not leave no matter what she did. It gave Royse the highest of highs. Her soft smile grew wide a crooked, her gentle gaze turning to one of obsession. She had made the decision to do as the voice said.
Soon, Royse was no longer known as the Graceful Valkyrie. Instead she was known for slaughtering families seemingly at random. She was known for enforcing laws that she herself had made up. She was known for making a list of people to kill in the name of the church. These acts and many more had earned her a new moniker: The Mad Valkyrie.
As the name of the Mad Valkyrie began to spread across the kingdom, another name became apart of the Kingdom’s collective conscious. Many church officials had recently turned up dead, and in each case a figure in a black cloak wielding a black-bladed sword was seen fleeing the seen. It was determined that this figure was likely the culprit in all cases. Citizens of the capital city dubbed the murderer “Satan’s Hand”, since they believed him to be a Satanist looking to destroy the church by cutting off the head.
In truth, this was the work of Adio, who wasted no time since attaining his new sword. As soon as he ate and got some rest, he began making a list of targets he needed to take out to successfully kill all that associate with the warrior-bishop. He decided that he would work his way from the bottom-up in the member’s rankings, saving the warrior-bishop for last. However, there was one person that he refused to put on the list; his wife.
Adio had heard about his wife’s recent actions, and he knew that they all warranted that he kill her. But he refused to believe that she was doing it of her own free will. He believed that there must be someone forcing her to do it. He couldn’t think of who could possibly be strong enough to force her to go against her morals, however, so he didn’t dwell on it too much. Royse didn’t feel the same on this matter. When she heard about Satan’s Hand, the voice told her who it was. Even so, she immediately put the killer on the top of her kill-list.
Next on Adio’s kill list was Holy Knight squad captain Reynald Baynard. He was as cruel as a Saint could get, a man of zero tolerance and firm belief. He used to be a much more gentle man, as all Saints were, but the thrill of demon killing changed him. Adio would’ve been more than willing to take the man head-on, but that would inevitably lead to his subordinates getting involved. He didn’t want to kill the whole squad, just the captain.
Adio waited for the tiniest of openings in the man’s schedule, a mere second in which nobody looked at him while he pissed, to strike. In that moment, Adio swooped in and chopped the man’s head clean off. Inevitably, Reynald’s subordinates noticed immediately after it had happened, but none of them could have hoped to catch Adio. He ran away fast as the wind. Arrows flew, seeking him out, but he easily avoided them, even cutting one clean in half mid-flight to show the Knights the disparity between them. Satan’s Hand has gotten away again.
Adio’s kills all followed this same pattern. Patient waiting for a small opening, killing before the target even notices, and running way from the ones close enough to see. If he were going after average human beings, the last part wouldn’t be necessary. He could wait for them to be all alone and kill them. Then he could simply walk away calmly and be gone by the time the body’s found.
But Holy Knights are not ordinary people. Due to their strong holy aura, they attract the attention of demons of immense power, known as “Saint Hunters”. These demons all travel alone, never working together, and they only care about killing the strong. Even for some of the stronger Holy Knights, taking one on mono e mono is an impossible task. In fact, they are only three alive known to have killed one of these demons alone. Because of this, most Holy Knights ensure that they are never alone at any point in the day. The result is a bunch of really difficult targets for Adio.
A few months had passed after Adio had obtained his new power and blade from the Son of Satan. During that time, Adio’s body began to undergo inexplicable changes. His golden-blonde hair began to fade to the color of freshly-fallen snow. Half of his left eye turned from blue to deep amber. His many scars, earned from years on the battlefield of demons, disappeared seemingly overnight. Adio noticed these changes, but it didn’t bother him. He was all too focused on the task at hand.
Satan’s Hand had become a primary concern among the church authority. They scurried to try and find out which cult he was connected to so they could predict his next move. However they couldn’t find any pattern in region, names, achievement, or rank. Unlike at first, the killer was no longer slowly working up the rankings, but rather jumping up and down them to keep authorities guessing. Security for all high ranking officials steadily rose, and the Mad Valkyrie, Royse, was named head of investigation by the warrior-bishop
At this same time, Adio was plotting his most important kill yet. It was also his last target before the warrior-bishop. His next target was the warrior-bishop’s head of defense, Berengar Fawkes. Compared to all of Adio’s other targets, barring the warrior-bishop, Fawkes was in an entirely different league. Other than Royse and Adio, Fawkes is the only living Holy Knight to have killed a Saint Hunter alone. Despite that, he was a twisted Saint. In fact, many question if the man truly is a Saint, or just a man that was born with supernatural ability. Either way, he was one of the few people who could say they were Adio’s equal.
If Adio fought him before having obtained his new power, victory would not be a sure thing. Now, however, Adio could fight him head to head without any worries. But if he did that on his way to kill the warrior-bishop, Fawkes could possibly buy enough time for the warrior-bishop to escape, or for him to double-team Adio. Either way, it was better for Adio to kill Fawkes assassination style rather than in a duel.
Along with the skilled target and their importance, Adio’s plan had another risk involved. He planned to kill him at a major end-of-year strategy meeting. This was because the schedule, which Adio had obtained, had a period of time in which Fawkes would be in a loosely populated room with open windows. Adio knew he could easily swoop in and kill his target within that time frame.
However, it was a risk because Adio knew that kind of thing in a schedule for a meeting was somewhat fishy. It seemed like just a bit too long of a wait time. Even so, he knew passing up this opportunity would be naive. So he went to wait outside the place in which Fawkes would be least guarded. He waited for hours for the head bodyguard to arrange when he did, Adio began to count down the five minute opening he had.
It didn’t take long for Adio to see his opening. A moment in which no eyes fell on Fawkes. Like a lion laying in wait for their prey, Adio leapt out towards his quarry. He passed through the open window nimbly contorting his body to fit through. In one motion, Adio landed, drew his sword, and sliced Fawkes’ head clean off. Just like always, the bystanders noticed just moments after the deed had already been done. Adio immediately turned to flee from the way he had come in. But he was immediately stopped in his tracks.
Next to the tree that Adio was hiding in was a woman. She had brown hair cut short in a way that Adio didn’t recognize. She had chocolate eyes with a wicked look that Adio didn’t recognize. She had soft lips curved into a wicked smile which Adio didn’t recognize. But Adio knew who this was all the same.
Unable to move at the shock of seeing his wife after such a long time in a place like this, Adio had fallen for the Valkyrie’s trap. The voice had told her that Satan’s Hand was Adio, and had told her to sacrifice Fawkes in order to lure him in. She had set similar traps many times before, however this was the first time Adio actually targeted the person she thought he would. However, all those failed attempts helped the Valkyrie learn more about Adio’s intentions, and led to this trap successfully luring it’s prey.
In the small moment that Adio hesitated, many captain-level Holy Knights began to surround him. While they were great in number, they still weren’t a match for Adio. However, Adio had no intention of even hurting them, which made this an extremely delicate situation for him. This was also a part of the Valkyrie’s plan, who had deduced that Adio only wanted to kill people in the Warrior-Bishop’s political party.
Just as Adio had assessed the situation and began to come back to his senses, he was caught off guard again. The Valkyrie, who had just been standing beside a tree that was twenty meters outside the building, was suddenly close enough to cut Adio. He was barely able to black and dodge the Valkyrie’s attack. As soon as she landed, however, she immediately went in for another strike.
Adio had expected her to attack again. After all, he knew her fighting style very well after years of sparring with her and watching her on the battlefield. She was always the type to never relent, to attack so often that you had no time to gather yourself, so that inevitably you would make a mistake that she would then exploit. Adio was the only person who could say he ever beat her in a duel fair and square. Even so, Adio was shocked by her attack.
Now that he was entirely focused on the Valkyrie, Adio could tell just how fast she was moving. She was at least twice as fast as the last time he had sparred with her. When their swords clashed, Adio could feel that the Valkyrie’s strikes were at least twice as powerful as well. As this occurred to Adio, the thought of what might’ve caused this came to his mind.
“To gain my power, you must shed all ties with your god and entrust them with the one closest to you”.
Is that what caused this sudden power increase?
As all this went through Adio’s head, he managed to stay entirely focused on the battle at hand. Clash after clash, leap after leap, parry after parry, the battle intensified, all the while Adio looked for a potential exit. He noticed that all the captain level Holy Knights were on standby, acutely aware of the disparity between them and the two battling. Adio knew that if he could get away from the Mad Valkyrie somehow, then he could get away from the entire group.
However, this battle was decided before it even began because of two simple facts. Adio fought without intent to kill, and the Mad Valkyrie had it in droves, because of this, Adio couldn’t possibly turn the tables and take the offensive. As the fight raged on, Adio got more and more anxious about not being able to get away. This state of mind had blown away all chances for Adio to walk away with his life. The Mad Valkyrie had won.
Adio, inevitably, made a mistake. The Valkyrie, inevitably, capitalized on it. But as the blade began to fall upon Adio, poised to end his life, Royse hesitated. In that small moment, she had regained her perspective. She remembered that the man she was fighting was her husband, the father of her child. In that small moment, she didn’t just lose her intent to kill, she lost all intention of causing Adio any harm.
This, however, was only for a moment. But at the speed in which Adio and the Valkyrie fought, a moment can be the difference between winning a fight and being killed. Adio recognized Royse’s small hesitation, and immediately acted upon it. In one swift motion, Adio deflected the Valkyrie’s blade and hit her in the head with the hilt of his sword. This attack was only able to stun the Valkyrie for a couple of seconds, but that was more than enough time for Adio to deftly exit the window.
After coming back to her senses, the Valkyrie went after Adio. However, the man was able to break the line of sight immediately in the small window of opportunity he had. Even so, the Valkyrie searched everywhere for him. After hours of searching, the Valkyrie gave up with a scream of agony.
“Curse that damned Satanist traitor!” The Valkyrie’s already twisted face turned even more terrifying. “There would be nothing more just in this world than for him to be sent to hell! It’s only a matter of time!!”
The Valkyrie ranted on for a few more minutes, until suddenly, her screeching stopped. Her expression turned back to her wicked smile, and she began to laugh. At first it was only audible to herself, but it steadily grew in volume so that all within dozens of meters could hear it. Then suddenly she stopped, and began talking to herself again.
“It’s only a matter of time before our paths cross again,” the Valkyrie’s smile widened, “And this time, without a doubt, one of us will meet the end of our tale”
The Valkyrie’s statement was, unfortunately, correct.