*Disclaimer note: This is merely a translation of the original Chinese version. I do not claim any part in the creation of the original story.
The figure fell silent for a moment, neither agreeing nor denying her name. She merely said gently, "Sun, please let that girl go. The one to kill Leaf was me, so you should be coming at me."
"The weapon that killed Leaf was the Dark Knight's rapier," I told her coldly.
"It was I who told him to kill him," She admitted freely, before going on to explain, "If we didn't kill him, we would never have been able to escape your pursuit."
At that, I grinded my teeth in anger. "I thought you knew me well enough."
A burst of tinkling laughter came from her as she said, "It was precisely because I knew you so well that I told him to kill Leaf. You knew that the Resurrection Arts could still be performed within eight hours of one's death. You could have first healed the Son of War and the others before coming after us and attacking us, and then go back to resurrect Leaf…… But you would never do that, would you? In your eyes, nothing is more important than your own holy knights, not even a princess."
"Then you should know!" I roared furiously. "You should know that all who dare kill my holy knights will perish at my hands!"
Pink fell silent at that before speaking up again in a sincere tone. "Do not fight against me, Sun. You should be well aware of what I am. I cannot die. Even if you were to destroy this body, it would be pointless."
I knew that; I knew Pink was a liche.
We've mentioned ghoul witches previously; the liche can be said to be an improved version of the ghoul witch. Both are born from humans who – for various reasons of their own – willingly turned themselves into unnatural creatures – the undead. However, there is a difference between the two: the ghoul witch can still die, while the liche cannot. Liches had forsaken their own flesh and placed their 'souls' in a hidden place. They can then possess all kinds of things in the place of their body.
Compared to the ghoul witches, the liche is indubitably stronger and more powerful. They were often extremely powerful mages or priests in their previous lives which allowed them to successfully complete the rituals to become a liche; to live after their bodies had been destroyed. To fight against one of them is extremely foolish, for you would be going up against an immensely powerful and undying creature.
Even If I were to kill Pink, only her current body would be destroyed; she could just as easily find a new body to use.
I took a deep breath at this and said, "Alright, seeing that we've known each other for some time, I'll just kill the Dark Knight."
"Er, please don't kill him too, Sun," she asked a little awkwardly. "He's the 'Silent Eagle' and the head of the Church of Chaos's dark knights. As the Church of Light's Sun Knight, you should have come across this name before?"
I had heard of the name. The Silent Eagle may not be the Church of Chaos's champion, but he is actually the one with all the real power…… Damn you! Shouldn't those in charge be very busy? How could he have found the time to flirt with a princess?!
"If you kill him you'll be in a lot of trouble," continued Pink. "The Church of Chaos might not be as strong as the Church of Light, but they are well known for always getting their revenge. They might not be able to kill you, but they'll definitely try to assassinate one of your Twelve Holy Knights in revenge. And I don't think you want to see another one of your Twelve Holy Knights die, do you?"
"You keep calling them 'them' and 'they'. Are you not one of the members of the Church of Chaos yourself?" I pointed out coolly.
Pink gave a derisive snort at that and said with disdain, "Who would group one's self with those who serve them?"
I frowned at that, not really understanding what she had meant. But I had an inkling that I was close to learning one of the Church of Chaos's deeply hidden secrets, and I had no wish to be involved in it whatsoever. Just as Pink had said, the Church of Chaos is known to nurse a grudge for a very long time. Learning of one of their secrets would just bring me trouble.
And so after thinking things over for several moments, I finally came to a decision. I turned around and gave a kick at the Dark Knight. When he came about with a pained moan, I asked him, "Your name?"
The Dark Knight slowly lifted his head to look at Pink, before turning to look at me. "I have no name. Ever since I became the Silent Eagle, I no longer have a name…… You who have defeated me, perhaps you can bestow a name on me?"
I stared at him blankly. Defeated him? Using a hostage counts too?
This Church of Chaos's dark knight is really weird…… After chuckling coldly for a few moments, I said, "Then I shall call you Solerwaith! You who dared stab the heart of one of the Twelve Holy Knights. You shall wait for me. I won't kill you for now, but rest assured that I will make you pay for this affront! The Church of Chaos may be known for getting even, but this Sun Knight is even more so! "
"Solerwaith…… very well, hence forth I shall be known as Solerwaith," he nodded, really accepting the name I had given.
I ignored the strange guy and said to the sky, "Pink, will you return to Sprouting Leaf City?"
"I will go back someday," she said honestly. "I have something waiting for me there, so I'll have to go back sometime."
I nodded my head, before suddenly focussing huge amounts of holy light into the Holy Sun Blade and throwing the sword up into the sky, accurately impaling it into the small figure floating in the sky.
Pink let out a muffled grunt and moaned painfully, "Sun, you……"
"I'm sick of seeing a little girl," I told her coolly. "Get a new body before coming back."
As her body slowly crumbled into ashes, she smiled wryly and said, "To prepare a semi-permanent body would take lots and lots of preparation and rituals…… You really do hold a grudge."
I nodded in agreement. "Hmph. You should have known that already. Learn from this and behave yourself in the future. No matter what, do not touch my holy knights."
I could still hear her mumbling to herself, "If I'd known what was in stall for me I would have just let you catch up to us, rather than go about provoking your wrath. Ah, this is such a total loss! Now where am I going to get a suitable body from…? Sigh… I've really been inconvenienced by you, Solerwaith……"
"I'm deeply apologetic for this." When Solerwaith heard the last part, he – ignoring his grievous injuries – got up to his knees and bowed lowly to her in apology.
This surprised me. Looks like Pink's position in the Church of Chaos is very high.
"Sigh, forget it," said Pink magnanimously. "Leave the princess to Sun and go back to the Church of Chaos to prepare for your proposal. Just ask the Queen of Moon Orchid for her hand in marriage properly! After all this, I doubt the Son of War would still wish to marry your Alice."
"But…" he hesitated a little worriedly.
Pink interrupted him, saying "Don't worry. After realising that you and I were the real killers of the Leaf Knight, he won't kill the princess. Even though that fellow doesn't really act like a knight at all, he still somewhat holds to the knight's code of honour…… probably, I guess……? "
By then, Pink's body had fully crumbled away into ashes.
I rolled my eyes at the general area where she had once floated. Even when dying she still spewed a load of crap. You, the most evil of beings – the evil liche – actually reminding me, the Sun Knight, of the knight's code of honour?...... This world really is all shades of grey!
Just then, Solerwaith stood in front of Alice, shielding her from me. He then got down on his knees and sincerely begged me. "Please do not kill Alice. It was me who had killed the Leaf Knight. All this has nothing to do with her."
"No!" Alice immediately rushed in front of Solerwaith, and using her slim body to shield him, she turned to me and pleaded, "Don't kill him, I beg of you! Just take me. All this was my fault. If I hadn't ran away from home none of this would have happened. So I beg you, please don't kill him!"
Solerwaith grabbed the princess and tried to protect her, but she struggled against him. "Alice! Please don't do this," he cried painfully.
"Oh Eagle!" cried Alice, her tears already falling from her eyes. "I would have no reason to live if you die. It's pointless to protect me."
"Alice……" Solerwaith's voice had roughened with emotion at his lover's declaration. In the face of love, even the cold-hearted Dark Knight shed a manly tear.
As I stood there watching the both of them crying together, I felt a little stunned. I never would have thought I would get to see a real-live enactment of a classic love scene. And it seems that I'm playing the role of the despicable bad guy trying to heartlessly separate the two lovers?
Are you kidding me?! I'm the knight trying to rescue the damsel in distress, okay?!!
'Master, the time limit for three hours is drawing close. Do you wish to give out more blood to keep the outfit?'
"No thanks," I answered the Dragon's Holy Robe a little weakly. "I've used this robe a total of three times in just this one month. If this continues on I'm going to get diagnosed with anaemia. Besides, even if I were to maintain this self, it's pointless as I can't bring up the desire to kill those two snot-faced idiots……"
And so, the first thing I did after changing out of the robe was to threaten the pair of star-crossed lovers.
"Don't you dare tell anyone else about my true self, and that includes talking about my assassin outfit, or else……" I trailed of threateningly.
Alice had probably been scared out of her wits by the whole ordeal, for she immediately clutched her lover tightly and cried out, "As long as you don't kill Eagle, I'll do anything!"
When I didn't get a reply from the Dark Knight, I used my mage sight and realised that the dark aura was seeping out of him at an alarming rate. Looks like his injuries are really serious. If I were to let him go right now he'd probably fall dead on his way to his destination, hahah……
I cast an Absolute Healing on him, healing most of his more serious injuries immediately.
Both of them were likely shocked by my unprecedented act of kindness, for they sat there staring at me quietly, whilst I maintained my mysterious air as I said coolly, "Get out of here. I'll send your princess back to her mother safe and sound."
Solerwaith stood up slowly, but did not make any move to leave. He cautiously asked me, "That time, if I had really moved, would you really have cut off her hand?"
"Yes, or else it would have been me who would have had my hands and feet cut off," I replied without hesitation.
Solerwaith went quiet at that, and showed no intentions of leaving.
"However," I continued, "once you dared not move again and had been beaten severely, I would have reattached her hand."
Solerwaith let out a long sigh of relief and said, "I believe you, sir."
I couldn't care less if you believed me or not, but why the 'sir'? Why are you so courteous to me? I felt a little flattered by him, but also a little uneasy. This guy couldn't be thinking of making me his arch-rival and worshipping me, could he?
Solerwaith then turned to Alice and said, "Alice, wait for me. I will definitely come and ask for your hand in marriage."
"But didn't you say that the Silent Eagle could never marry? The Church of Chaos had forbidden you from proposing to me; wasn't that the reason why we had to elope......?"
He gave a small chuckle and said, "With 'that person' telling me to propose herself, no one in the Church of Chaos would dare to stop me."
''That person'? Is it Pink?' I frowned in puzzlement. Just what exactly is Pink's position in the Church of Chaos?
And following that, I got to witness another classic scene – that of two entwined lovers forced to part ways tearfully. As I watched the nauseatingly sweet scene unfolding before me, I had the urge to stab both of them, and show them the true meaning of 'till death do us part'.
"Solerwaith," I bit out in annoyance, "If you don't leave and get your remaining wounds seen to right now, you'll soon die from blood loss and won't be able to propose to her anymore."
When she heard that, Alice hurriedly pushed him on his way, and he finally left.
Alice kept up her vigil as she stood there, watching her lover until he could no longer be seen, before finally turning around timidly and asking, "Are we going to fly back now?"
"Do I look like I know how to fly?" I asked sarcastically, looking her up and down. "What level mage are you?"
"Advance level," she replied timidly.
She seemed to be treating me like a ferocious beast ready to attack her at anytime. Her attitude was totally different from Ann. Even when she was frightened by me, Ann wouldn't act scared, and would instead come after me with her double axe.
"Good," I smiled faintly. "Whilst waiting for leaf and the rest to reach us, you will teach me all you know about wind magic."
"Teach you?" She asked in surprise. "What is there that I can teach you? Your magic is even stronger than mine!"
I can't tell her that other than the few dark spells Alstier had taught me, I don't know any other spell incantations, can I? If I did, she might use her magic on me when I let my guard down.
As I thought about how to get out of this, I remembered her fear of me. So I put on a fierce expression and growled, "What are you asking so many questions for? Just do as I tell you to!"
"Okay!" she squeaked, looking so pitiful, as if I'm the evil step-mother abusing her step-daughter!
I'm a holy knight, not an evil step-mother!
"Pl-please don't get angry! I'll teach you everything I know, and I won't ask any more questions! Sob, sob…… Eagle, I'm so scared……" she cried.
I am a holy knight, I'm here to rescue the princess, not abuse her!
"Eagle… sob, sob… come and save me……"
"Stop crying!" I roared at her.
"Meep!" Alice stopped crying indeed. She had fainted dead.
In the following few days, the princess and I encountered many difficult problems……
Although Solerwaith had left behind a tent, both the Sun Knight and the princess had no idea how to set one up.
Although Solerwaith had left behind some firewood, both the Sun Knight and the princess had no idea how to start a fire.
Although Solerwaith had left behind some meat, both the Sun Knight and the princess had no idea how to cook and had ended up burning their meals.
I looked up at the heavens and gave a long sigh, deeply regretting letting Solerwaith leave. Why the hell did I keep this useless princess around for? Other than looking pretty she seemed to have no other use.
"Solerwaith is so much better than you! He can set up a tent, start a fire and can cook lots of yummy food!"
Alice was so hungry that she had forgotten all about her fear of me as she cried and shouted, throwing a huge tantrum. "Other than looking pretty, you don't seem to have any other use! No, that's not right! Solerwaith is a hundred times more handsome than you! Wahh-- you're neither good-looking nor useful! I want to be back by Solerwaith's side! Solerwaith!"
"It's him that's ridiculously good-looking, not that I'm ugly!"
I, too, was so hungry that I lost my patience and started shouting at her. "Like you're one to talk! Why's your flying skills so poor! Alstier could fly continuously for a whole day and night, yet you have to rest a day after flying for only three hours. And you flew so slowly too! It's all your fault that we can't get back!"
Alice retaliated by screaming even louder. "I have no idea who this Alstier is! Advance level mages can only fly for three hours, and this is the normal speed! Ahh!!! Solerwaith! I'm being bullied by bad guys, save me!!"
Argh! I'm so pissed!
"Stop shouting! I'm warning you, don't you dare breathe a word of this to another soul."
Then, going completely against my image of a knight, I started using large amounts of magic.
It's raining and can't set up a tent? No problem. I just used magic to dig out a cave in the foot of a cliff.
Hungry and can't get a fire going to cook the food? No problem. I just threw a Fire Ball at the firewood.
Meat keeps getting burnt? No problem, I just summoned wind magic and floated the meat above the fire, slowly turning it over the fire until it was cooked.
As Alice sat in the cave scarfing down her meal, she said through a mouthful of food, "I'm sorry, I was wrong in my judgement of you. You're still a little useful, even if you're not good-looking."
As I tore off a piece of meat viciously I retorted scathingly, "It's your sense of aesthetic that is skewered! After looking at Solerwaith for so long, your sense of aesthetic has been bent out of shape. If you continue to stare at his face, soon you won't even dare to look at yourself in the mirror."
Alice was so frightened by this warning that she didn't even notice her meat dropping to the ground as she screeched, "Liar! I'm said to be the most beautiful woman in the country! Even if I haven't been taking care of my appearance for a few days…… I'm still beautiful, right? Right??" By the end of her rant, she sounded so worried that she nearly began crying again.
I had kept silent, but when I heard her beginning to choke up in anxiety, I reassured her, saying "Alright, alright. You're still very beautiful!"
When she heard this, she smiled through her tears and even complimented me too. "Thanks. And you're pretty handsome too. At least, you have very beautiful eyes – comparable to Eagle's, and you have great skin……"
By then, she had gotten up to stroke my face and had cried out in surprise, "It's really soft and smooth, what are you using for your face?...... Oh wait, you're a boy. Could it be that it's naturally so smooth? How lucky."
I quickly listed out, "Soured milk mixed with ten drops of lemon juice, rose extract from thirty roses, lavender extract from ten lavender flowers and some flour, slick it onto your skin and wait for an hour before steaming it off, twice weekly."
"…… please repeat that to me when we get back. I don't have any paper or pen with me right now."
"If you play the role of a rescued princess properly and don't reveal my true self to anyone else, I can share with you all of my secret recipes for skin whitening creams. I guarantee you that by the day of your wedding your skin will be as soft and fair as a newborn baby's."
It continued to rain non-stop for the next few days, and as I had no guarantee that we would come across another cliff where I can carve another cave out off, we decided to just wait in the cave for help to arrive. And not a few days later, I sensed through my mage sight Leaf and many others approaching.
Amongst the approaching party, I sense three in particular with unusually strong holy auras, one of which is Leaf. Of the other two,…… one had a stronger water element and should be Frost; the other, on the other hand, had very strong metal elements but also had some earth elements mixed in, so he shouldn't be Metal, but…… the Stone Knight!
The Stone Knight – one of the Twelve Holy Knights from the Cold Blood Faction and famous for his obstinacy. His obstinacy is as hard and unmoving as a mountain, and it is said that it would be easier to crack his head than to crack through his stubbornness. Even trying to overthrow the Church of Light would have been an easier task than to get him to bend.
Well, according to 'what the whole continent knows', that is. This generation's Stone Knight, however, is a little different…… he is actually a very flexible and nice guy, easy to get along with and very 'go with the flow'.
I've heard that after attempting to train him for three years, the previous Stone Knight had finally given up on getting him to become even just a little stubborn, and decided to throw in the towel and start anew with the back-up successor. (Not every one of the Twelve Holy Knights had forgotten to pick a back-up.)
But the thing is, other than him unwilling to become stubborn, the little Stone Knight hadn't really done anything wrong. If he was to be replaced, the teacher had to give a very good reason. And so after half a year of arguments, finally came the day to decide once and for all if he would be replaced or not……
My teacher, the Sun Knight then, had walked into the room and said the following words with a gentle sigh: "Refusing to become stubborn even in the face of being kicked out of the Holy Temple? To so stubbornly refuse to become a stubborn person…… sigh! What a stubborn child."
According to him, the moment he said that, the hundred or so people gathered in the room had let out identical expressions, a rare sight he would never forget.
When I asked him what their expressions were like, my teacher thought about it before drawing 囧, and told me to imagine a hundred or so people with that expression. After imagining it, I agreed that it was, indeed, a sight to behold.
And so after that, the little Stone Knight was allowed to stay, with no one bringing up the topic of him being replaced again.
I could understand where Judge was coming at by sending Stone.
The Stone Knight was the only one amongst the Cold Blood Faction who was good at diplomacy. Even though Storm was better at diplomacy, he was needed at the Holy Temple. If Storm were to leave the Holy Temple, I'm afraid the temple would have fallen into chaos in his absence. Hence, he had sent Stone to help Leaf deal with any conflicts that might arise between the Church of War and the Moon Orchid's royal family.
If Leaf was left to deal with matters of diplomacy unsupervised, he would only end up agreeing to everything.
And as for Frost, well, that's pretty easy to answer. Frost is very strong. If we were to come to an unavoidable disagreement with Moon Orchid and the Church of War and needed to escape, we would have a better chance of escaping successfully with Frost there……
Leaf had rushed into the cave and shaken me upon reaching me. "Sun, Sun, are you alright? You're alright? That's great! Oh, oh! And Princess Alice is fine too, this is great!"
He had started to get a little choked up at the end.
I felt something like guilt stirring in my gut. Leaf had been worrying about things ever since we started out on this journey, as can expected from the Good Warm Faction's mother-hen……
"Please stop crying, everything's alright now," I reassured him. "See? The princess has been rescued."
"Bu-But," he sniffled, "your eyes……"
I rolled my eyes and said exasperatedly, "My eyes are fine, you're worrying about nothing, Mother Leaf."
"Captain Sun Knight, how are you?"
I turned to look at the entrance to the cave. The voice belonged to the Stone Knight, and following behind him was the Frost Knight. The latter did not say a word, as always.
I smiled my trademark Sun Knight smile and replied elegantly, "May the God of Light's love shine upon you always, my brother Stone."
Stone gazed at me searchingly before suddenly asking, "Sun, how many fingers have I got up?"
"…… With Her Holiness as my witness, the number you ask is the same as the number of brain cells you possess – zero!" I said exasperatedly. Looks like Leaf had told them the same nonsense about my 'blindness'.
"Correct, indeed." Stone chuckled and turned to Leaf. "Leaf, you're worrying too much. Sun is perfectly fine."
After a long time, Leaf finally mumbled a soft "Okay……" I have no idea if he really did believe me.
Not too long after that, Michael, Ann and Alston reached the cave, a whole team of warriors following behind them. The moment Ann entered the cave, she cried out her sister's name as she ran to her side, asking frantically, "Are you alright? You weren't harmed by that shameless despicable asshole, were you? Did he hit you? Did he take liberties with you?"
"Ann, what nonsense are you talking about?" Alice scolded her. "If it wasn't for the Sun Knight rescuing me from the clutches of that evil kidnapper, I would have still been in such terror. He's taken good care of me and protected me from anything dangerous. A perfect gentleman and a knight of the finest standing; you should not slander his name so."
A disbelieving silence fell around the whole cave, and after some time, Ann forced out incredulously, "He – Sun is a knight of the finest standing??"
The power of whitening creams is indeed amazing. I had been transformed from a shameless despicable cur into a gentleman knight of the finest standing.
"Indeed." Alice then stood up and called out arrogantly, "Servants."
At her call, a dozen people walked out from the group standing guard outside the cave. Looks like there were quite a number of maids and servants amongst those who came. They surrounded the princess, handing her towels and clean clothes; and one even started brushing out the tangles in her hair.
Whilst Alice was taking care of her appearance, Michael stood by without saying a word to her. I wasn't at all surprised. From what I had overheard from Leaf and Ann's conversation, I knew Alice had attacked them. If I were Michael, I probably wouldn't be too pleased either.
The Stone Knight asked me politely, "Captain Sun Knight, as we've just arrived, could you please explain the situation to us?"
I dodged the question, saying "Let's focus on getting back before anything else."
"Good point, Captain Sun Knight. What say you all?" asked Stone.
This has nothing to do with having a good point! My only concern right now is to get a bath! Oh, how I stink! I stink so much that I'm questioning the purpose of the nose the God of Light had given me!
Getting back to the palace was very much convenient, for amongst the people who had come with us included several royal mages, and they had brought along the tools necessary for an Instant Teleportation ritual circle. This ritual circle had been connected beforehand with another in the royal palace. All we had to do was to pour sufficient wind magic into the circle, and the circle would activate, bringing all of us back to the palace instantly.
Back at the palace, it wasn't hard to get my long-awaited bath, for it was acknowledged that it would have been terribly rude to present one's self to the Queen before cleaning one's self. However, after having bathed and eaten a good warm meal, the soft and clean sheets of my bed seemed to be calling out to me seductively……
Even though I knew that I had yet to report the latest incidents to the queen, I just couldn't resist crawling into bed. Oh, it seems like a whole month since I last had a proper sleep in a proper bed; I could feel myself falling asleep……
Someone called out my name from a distance, and immediately I whined, "Urgh, what is it? I'm so tired, don't bother me……"
After a moment, the person replied, "It's nothing. Go to sleep."
A few days later, I received a commendation from the Queen.
The commendation was in thanks for my part in rescuing the Royal Princess, and I was awarded an – utterly useless – Badge of The Order of the Chivalrous Knights. Princess Alice had confiscated the badge before I could receive it, and was going to hold it ransom until I give her the recipe for my secret whitening cream…… Does she think I'm an idiot?! What would I want that useless badge for??
Well, I'm not changing, so she'll have to do better than that! Hmph!
However, on that very same afternoon, I was informed that the badge was carved from a precious stone and that its value was priceless…… In the end, I had to submit and go to her with the recipe.
The Son of War rescinded his offer for the Princess Alice's hand in marriage.
The Queen was reluctant to cancel the arrangement and had suggested switching to another princess, suggesting that Princess Ann marry Michael instead. However, when she brought it up, Ann and Michael had shot twin looks of disgust at each other, saying in unison, "If I have to marry him/her, then it'll be my turn to run away with someone else."
The Queen looked very distressed at that, but when the Moon Orchid's youngest – ten year old – princess skipped her way to her mother's side and declared in an adorable voice: "When I grow up I'm going to become Michael's bride!", all problems were finally settled.
And that was how Michael was betrothed to the little princess, with the understanding that he marry her when she turns sixteen.
Even though there were rumours like 'the Son of War is actually a paedophile' and stuff like that that arose since then, I believe it is well-worth it. Being called a paedophile is a rather small price to pay if one can get a young bride ten years younger than one's self. Well worth it.
At least, Michael seems to think so, so immersed is he in his plans for his future bride's education to protest the rumours.
It turned out that the resurrection had left a side-effect on Leaf.
When Leaf realised that he was able to spot a tear on a moving fly's wing from ten meters away, he instantly knew that something was up.
After numerous tests (one of them being asked to count the number of flies flying around a pile of dog shit thirty meters away), it was confirmed that he had superhuman vision.
An archer with superhuman vision is an archer with superhuman abilities…… In simpler terms, his already incredible archery had just gotten even more unbelievable.
On a side note, when I was able to point out the pile of dog shit thirty meters away from us to him and asked him to count the number of flies around it, Leaf was finally convinced that I wasn't blind.
And so, we finally returned home to the Holy Temple.