Chapter 31:

The Black Knight


When Renra woke, he was greeted with darkness, the absence of people, and the cool dampness of the stone beneath his back. For a moment, he comfortably laid, enjoying the chilly temperature. He even rolled over on his side, letting some water seep into his previously moistureless skin.

Renra felt content. He quickly acclimated to the hardened floor and temperature and the pull of his eyelids beckoned the boy to sleep. He rubbed against the floor to straighten himself and stayed unmoving.

Wait a minute... The boy blinked long and hard. Wasn't I just hallucinating in front of a giant door? Wait I most definitely was! Wait, where's Ceylica? Actually... Uh where is everyone?!

Renra felt his breath stop in his chest.

Dutifully, he sat upwards and shouted, "H-hold up, Renra!"

Now's not the time to be taking a nap! The young boy thought.

Then, he jolted his side from side to side, attempting to make light of the darkness. It came to no avail, of course. Darkness wasn't something one just saw through when they wanted to. He understood as much.

Regaining his mental faculties, the boy carefully stood.

"Think Renra, think. Now, what would be the best option forward..."

A weight had been lifted off his back, literally. He noticed that the heavy straps of his backpack were no longer tugging at him. He looked around again but found no trace of it. Meaning that it was missing. Meaning that for all intents and purposes, he was probably fucked.

Rule One of Masters' Tenets He recalled, taking a waft of cool air. Positive thinking, Renra. Positive thinking!

Thinking of his situation, the boy affirmed in Modern Aoelian, "You got this, Renra!"

"You do." A voice eerily agreed behind him.

Renra crossed his arms and nodded. Quick to indulge in some positive reinforcement, it was only until a moment passed that he realized.

"ULTRA DUSTER PUNCH!" He yelled, right hand launching in the vague direction of the sound. Renra felt his attack strike empty air. His foot lost balance, and he stumbled twice. Then once more. Then again. Before he finally landed on his chest.

The air left his lungs. Renra immediately scrambled, attempting to gain leverage. His body was addled with fear, and self-preservation came to mind naturally.

"It's Valefar."

And thus it left. Only a heightened sense of stupidity and self-awareness in its wake.

"Oh, sorry about that," Renra replied, stifling a chuckle.

The vampire's voice bounced against the stone walls. "No matter." Valefar accepted. "I find your reactions... Amusing." He strode to Renra. "Still, there are better places to clown than in this damp filth."

Renra extended his hand to the encroaching footsteps. He poised it upwards and felt a cold rendition of flesh. Upon grasping Valefar's hand firmly, Renra was pulled to his feet.

"Sorry, but I can't see in here". He said, hoping to excuse his clumsiness.

"I'm aware." Valefar continued onwards, moist steps of leather against stone.

"W-wait! Sorry to ask, but could I like uh..." Renra searched his thoughts for a method, some roundabout way to traverse safely. "Hold your hand or something?"

There came a silence. Not even air escaped Renrar's throat at that point.

Aw man. Hope I didn't offend some vampire tradition.

Renra Seltiel, seventeen years of age, thought his life was effectively over. In his mind, he conjured up some half-assed will and prayed for salvation.

And then, all at once, came a note of laughter.

The harmonics of amusement still caught in the Vampires' throat gave way to a simple declaration.

"You may hold my coat."

"You got it, boss!" He reached out hand first.

Catching onto Valefar's leather coat, the two then proceeded. They went at a brisk pace, just barely above a walk. As Renra wondered why, his question was answered soon enough.

"Careful." Valefar urged. "One misstep, and your frail body goes plummeting into spikes."

He stared at the vampire. "Woah,” Renra gasped, driven by slight panic. "Is there like a gaping chasm all around us?"


Renra felt dizzy; his mind was getting creative, imagining the usual dungeon fanfare in video games. "Is it filled with really, really large spikes?"


A courageous front contorted Renra's face. "I'll just do my best not to fall in!"

"Good," Valefar replied.

Forward they'd gone, towards a direction that took them, left, right, backwards and straight on ahead, in no particular order. That was until Valefar slowed, his next ten steps declining in speed with gentler and gentler taps of his leather boots.

"Take two steps backwards," he said.

Renra did as told and crept backwards at a snail's pace. He'd known better than to question the vampire. And even found Valefar quite friendly, in his own strange, cold, apathetic sort of way.

Perhaps it was his optimism which deluded him so, or perhaps it was just a matter of cultural difference. Either way, the outcome was the same.

Renra stood silently and surveyed the darkness that lay just ahead.

Rule Four of Masters' Tenets. Always have patience for others!

The sound of a mechanical 'click' filled the imperceivable space.

"Be brave," Renra whispered, gulping down a pocket of air. He did not know how to react.

Coming from ahead was then a consistent sound of grinding. Heavy stone, crashing and chipping against one other loudly enough to overpower his thoughts. Renra could only hope that it was something good.

His confirmation came in the form of light. All of a sudden, Renra could no longer see. There existed only a blinding flash of imperceivable colour. He spent a good while squinting and uselessly shoving his hands in front of him. When he'd finally acclimated after a fair deal of pain, Renra saw something strange.

A thin vertical strip of yellow hue shone out of a wall.

It started from the right but was growing larger by the second.

Accompanied by the softer grind of stone, the process continued for five seconds before an entryway big enough for a person revealed itself.

Through the squared doorway, Renra saw a long corridor of stone and moss.

A ceiling low enough just to touch Valefar's head.

Torches, spaced arm's length from each other, hung in stone brackets along the walls. Mushrooms and plants, varied in colour, sublimated the dull grey of rock with variety. And perhaps most importantly, at the end of the room was a sharp turn to the right.

"It seems we opened a door." Valefar pointed out, coming to the other side.

Renra followed with a sturdy tread. Stepping across the felt-like moss and stopping just short of the sharp turn. The two boys stood with their backs against the wet stone.

Before Renra could ask why, the vampire raised a finger.


Somewhere beyond their position, from the direction of the unseen hallway to their right, was a methodical sequence of steps. Heavy and ringing with metallic clashes, it continued in an almost militaristic fashion, carried out in an evenly spaced rhythm of one foot then the other.

They listened to the strange sound without a word.

W-wait! Renra thought. Welp, never mind! My bag's missing and I've got nothing on me.

He frowned slightly. Renra had searched through his body in vain. No matter his slight Resolve, the boy doubted his prowess in punching something to submission, let alone someone heavily armoured.

Valefar's got this!

The face Valefar had was one of mild contempt. But it was not directed to Renra. His mind had no concept of 'depending on others'—only cold efficiency and a self-reliant modus operandi. Without a word, the vampire's right arm tensed, and his blue veins bulged against pale skin.

He said nothing of the matte as it was not necessary. His following action spoke for itself. Immediately, Valfar's Resolve flared to life and his Idiosyncrasy was activated, an image of a weapon painted in his mind.

Flowing blood coagulated into a sword in Valefar's left hand. Double-edged and half the length of his arm, it was finished with a round pommel and a narrow square guard.

Careful not to reveal his weapon, Valefar pointed it to the ground. By the time he'd finished, the sound of metal against wet stone was dangerously near.

You can do this!

Renra surmised it would take another two seconds. Another two seconds until whatever made the sound was in full view. Acknowledging that fact, he inhaled quietly, puffing out his cheeks in the meanwhile. The defenceless boy preferred to think it was Jaiga.

He hoped the Paladin was the one marching in heavy plate.

And with a gulp, wished that he would swallow fear and unease alike.

The figure stepped forward. Thus it was revealed. What walked before them was not the ally they wished for. It was, in fact, an ominous armour of black. Roughly equal to Renra's own height.

Clad from top to toe in a deep-black armour, the Black Knight was a menacing figure. Atop its shoulders was a great helm that covered all traces of flesh, save for two menacing blue eyes from its gap. And in its hand was a strange weapon.

Renra could see it was a 'belsmerzi'.

Half hand-axe, half-gun, and fully Crilandese in its conception.

Small as it were, it seemed rather unfitting for the knight. As a greatsword, poleaxe, or calabadra might not have been. But, it was useless to think of what was fitting and what was not.

The question wasn't really of an aesthetic choice but rather of survival.

During that split second of apprehension, everything seemed to come to a stop. That was when the black knight faced the two. It did not move. Nor did any sound come from its mouth.

Valefar did not care. "Die." He thrusted his sword forward, aiming for the gaps of the helm. Quite anti-climatically, it had missed the mark as it instead bounced off the black metal.

"Annoying." The blood sword vanished upon that strike and a new one soon took its place.

Valefar's aggression, however, was not unmet. The Black Knight raised his weapon to greet his foe. Sword and axe soon engaged. There was no clash of metal nor song of steel. Merely the vampire's blood blade vanishing upon contact.

The deflection of his strike provoked Valefar's anger. Time and time again, he manifested a sword. And time and time again, the Black Knight parried.

Valefar was breathing hard.

It came to Renra that the two were equal in skill. That the Black Knight matched Valefar's blows, as did the vampire in turn. He watched their back and forth with attentive detail. Every exchange seemed to repeat itself, a stagnant loop of equivalence.


There was a loud skid of leather on stone. The Black Knight had broken the stalemate. Its axe striking Valefar across his chest and sending him flying several metres.

A moment later, The Black Knight pointed his belsmerzi at the fallen boy. There was a black glow at the gun's barrel, and it did not seem friendly by any stretch of the measure.


Renra's arms and legs flapped in full force. His body crashed straight into the Black Knight, sending him toppling to the ground. When a second passed, the energy from his belsmerzi discharged into the ceiling with a large bang. Implanting a splash of black in its wake.


Around the same time, a shrill sound reached their ears. An ever-growing chorus of pain from the entrance they came through. A mockery of the living language, a patchwork of cries and torment, indescribable in its effect.

It was strangely unnerving, and while Renra didn't quite understand what it entailed, he didn't want to know.

The vampire got up. He rushed forward and took hold of Renra with one arm. Running over the struggling Black Knight, Valefar went straight through the corridor. Brimming with irritation, the vampire dashed from one hallway to the next. Shifting left, right and left again in unequal measure.

He finally stopped when he stepped through some small entrance. At once, he pulled the wooden lever just next to it, causing a stone block to begin descending and appearing to close the access off. Unfortunately, it was too late by that point.

A ghastly figure, transparent and with two holes for eyes, crawled through the narrow space. The sight of such a creature, of a ghost, forced Renra to squirm in Valefar's grip.

"Insect." whispered the vampire. Blood dripped from Valefar's open right hand. He knelt on the spur of his anger and grabbed at the ghost's neck.

Upon contact, the spot Valefar’s blood touched lost its transparency. Then, the creature began to scream. Wails of wretched agony and despair burst from its cursed throat as it was lifted into the air and smashed against the wall.

Crushing it with his blood-soaked hand, Valefar whispered a very quiet "Die."

The monster perished as any other. Physical or not, Valefar twisted its neck all the same. Loosening his hand, Valefar dropped the creature to the floor. It fell with an empty thud. Weightless.

The vampire did not fear what would come next. He stared unflinchingly, watching the creature's feet dissipate into ash before the rest of the body followed suit.

"W-what was that?" Renra said loudly, staring at its residue.

Valefar replied. "Beneath me."

Patreon iconPatreon iconMyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon