The Consequence of Saving the World
Traditionally, knights were attached to a specific knighthood order or served directly under a lord. They were the symbols of virtue, honour and strength. Their armour would be brightly adorned with elaborately designed coat of arms while their weapons would be made of the finest steel.
However, the knight blocking our path was nothing of the sort. His suit of armour bore no discernable embellishments whatsoever. It had a dark lustre and still had mud stains on his greaves, which certainly didn’t help much for first impressions.
It would be hard-pressed to describe this person as a knight. It would be more apt to call the person hiding within the shadowy slits of his helm as someone who was just wearing a suit of armour.
“Sereya, do you know him?” I asked.
“Maybe if I flipped open that visor, but no bells are ringing for now.”
“Excuse me, but you’re blocking traffic here. Could you please move out of the way?” Anita beckoned.
Not a single word emerged from within the walking steel container. The only reply we got was his halberd, still aimed at Sereya.
It was clear that he wanted to pick a fight, but of all the possible times and places, must it be right now?
From the side of the street, a man shouted, “Hey, tin man! You’re disrupting my business, bring your troubles somewhe—”
It lasted for less than a second, but I felt it. My heart stopped beating from the immense bloodlust that leaked out of the hinges of the full plate armour. Next to me, Ain was visibly shaken.
Even though we weren’t the targets of that outpouring of malicious intent, we still felt the pressure. As for the business owner, he was already on his bum crawling away, stuttering and completely frightened beyond his wit.
This knight was a Dragon-ranked adventurer, someone capable of slaying the most fearsome monster known to man. Unlike me, who was a fluke, he was the real deal.
“Sorry, Anita. I’m unsure why, but it’s me he’s after. I don’t think I can finish this in an instant, so I’d greatly appreciate your patience.”
As she hopped off the cart, Sereya had an expressionless, professional look on her face. Was having challengers this common?
“It’s fine. Just don’t get hurt, okay?”
“If you lose, I’m gonna laugh!”
The mother-daughter pair showed their support for her in their own way. Before I could give mine, however, Sereya had a strange request for me.
“Lend me your sword. Mine is useless for this fight.”
I still remembered her slicing a cup so immaculately, not even the liquid inside poured out. Now she was saying it was useless?
“It may look filthy, but that armour he’s wearing is made of the Serenesteel, the most durable alloy in the world. If my sword hits that, it’ll snap. Yours is tougher, it will at least leave a dent.”
I unsheathed Exordium and offered it to her. To my utter shock, instead of grabbing the handle, she held the edge of the sword with her bare hand!
Could she not see what she was doing?! She was cutting herself!
“C’mon, don’t act so surprised. Half-swording is a legitimate technique, just that doing it with one hand probably hasn’t been done before.”
“What are you gonna do—bash his head in with the pommel?”
“Exactly. Great minds think alike.”
I meant that in jest!
Forget about using the sword as a mace—how in the world was going to swing that without cutting herself? My eyes were glued to her hand, gripping the centre of my sword firmly as I prayed it wouldn’t slip or draw blood.
As Sereya and the knight took several steps to the side of the road, my attention shifted to the surroundings. The guards were looking away, purposely ignoring the fight that they weren’t strong enough to stop. On the contrary, pedestrians and other people were pausing their daily routines to take a look, forming a small crowd in the process.
This was starting to feel surreal. Of all the possible welcomes we could have received from reaching Breven, it was a fight that greeted us. Right after running from that evil presence, too.
“You’re not going to introduce yourself?” Sereya asked her opponent, who proceeded to answer with silence. “Good, then I won’t announce who I am, too.”
I was starting to wonder if the knight was mute. He adjusted the way he held his weapon, gripping it with both hands over his head. The range on that halberd was immense. Even though I was sure that Sereya would outspeed him, how was she going to hit him with just half of a sword?
She walked calmly towards the knight with the awkwardly-held sword in her hand. Her steps came to a sudden halt as a swift thrust flew towards her face.
Sereya didn’t seem fazed as the spear tip of the halberd narrowly missed its mark. The knight followed up with repeated pokes and quick, tiny slashes, using his reach to keep the swordswoman at bay.
It didn’t work. Sereya advanced while making small but effective evasive movements, almost as if she was a slippery eel, unable to be held down by the knight’s attacks. Strangely enough, her opponent also started to walk backwards while maintaining the onslaught, keeping the distance between them constant.
He was gradually being driven to a wall by Sereya, who did nothing but walk towards him. Whoever he was, the extreme caution he exercised was a clear sign that he knew how strong Sereya was.
“Just who is she? She’s driving the Dragon-rank back!”
Some of the bystanders began to whisper and murmur, trying to uncover the identity of my partner.
The two fighters eventually reached the wooden walls surrounding the town. Instead of being backed up, the knight suddenly ran vertically up the wall! Right after defying gravity, he borrowed its strength as he swung the axe blade of his weapon down hard, resulting in a loud crash.
I felt the ground shake momentarily as steel slammed into the ground. It wasn’t just a simple dent on the floor like what Rolf did—the entire area leading up to the street was covered in cracks, as if a small earthquake just happened!
The speed and the force of that blow were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. My eyes darted everywhere to find Sereya. Instead, I found her voice first.
“Don’t blame me for that! If you need money for repairs, ask the knight—he did it!” she shouted from the top of the wall.
To see her unscathed and even ignoring him to address the spectators—that must have ticked off the knight. In a single leap, he flew next to Sereya, but only managed to slice air with the wide swing he made.
“You should give up now. I think you’re strong enough to realise the gap between us.”
It wasn’t Sereya’s declaration that was surprising, it was where she made it. She was casually standing on the blade of the halberd!
I could only imagine the knight’s face as he slowly turned to look at her. Like any sane person, he dropped his weapon.
As the halberd slipped from his grasp, so did her footing. Well, at least he surrendered. Finally, that random battle was over.
Sereya adjusted herself to land on the ground. I was already thinking of what to congratulate her with, when the knight flew into her like a projectile!
I only saw a black flash of light. Before I knew it, Sereya suffered a rough landing next to our cart. The ground underneath her feet cracked as she landed on the road.
She wasn’t injured, but her face had “shock” written all over it.
“Are you okay?!” Anita immediately asked out of concern.
“Yeah, but he’s…”
We all turned to face the knight, but he was nowhere to be found.
My immediate instinct was to look up, and boy, did I regret it. Like a meteor, her opponent was falling from the sky about to crash into where we are!
Sereya got onto the cart, just in time to parry the strike with Exordium. My eyes widened in disbelief as I saw my own reflection on the knight’s newest weapon—a pair of daggers.
With his attack deflected, he flipped acrobatically in the air making several twists and turns before landing a fair distance in front of us. To see that hulking piece of steel move in such an agile manner was absurd.
That wasn’t a knight—that was an assassin.
“Just my luck. Someone with an Augmentation,” Sereya muttered as she got off the cart.
“Huh?! He has an Augmentation?!”
I had the same question in my mind as it left Ain’s mouth first. My mind recalled back to Melyeze. Her eyes burned brightly in two different colours—a result of her Augmentation, allowing her to use magic that she normally couldn’t use.
Sereya instructed, “Look at his legs. That’s wind magic.”
From the thighs down, the dark plated armour gave off a soft green glow. Dust and pebbles started to be blown away in a small radius around the unnamed enemy.
With a knife in each hand, the armoured assassin was poised to strike once more.