*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 next few days were smooth sailing and there were no chords of dissent among us. Even our hostage, Ecilan Frost, was pretty satisfied……. Why, you ask?
On the first night of our Great Escape, he had sworn to the God of Light that he would not try to escape, nor would he try to harm any of us once I remove the Chains of Darkness from him. This was all done for the one purpose of…… cooking for us!
One can never judge a book by its covers. To think that one of the high and mighty Twelve Holy Knights would turn out to be a better cook than both Yuna and Caecilia combined together! After having tried his cooking that night, everyone henceforth refused to ever again settle for Yuna and Caecilia's cooking, including the two girls themselves.
A horse to ride on, a test subject for me to experiment on, and when I tire of playing with my experiments, delicious food waited to tempt my palate; ah, what bliss can match up to this?
"Can you not play with your bones whilst you perform holy light magic at the same time?"
Not for the first time – and surely not the last, Yuna tried to argue with me, spouting some nonsense about 'This is going against nature, the old time-proven laws of elements that states that light and dark elements cannot co-exist together peacefully is being completely trashed by you! You are committing a crime against nature itself!' or something like that.
"Are you saying that should our pursuers catch up to us, I shouldn't use dark magic to stop them and light magic to heal you guys at the same time?" I had thrown back at her.
At that, all the fighters in the group immediately blanched and rushed forward to shush her while at the same time trying to placate me.
'Heheh! I dare you to try to start that up again!'
So, where was I again? A horse to ride on, a test subject for me to experiment on, delicious food awaiting me when I tire of playing with my experiments, and a group of supporters who will rush to my defence when I am scolded as well as placate me…… I'll bet even the Sun Knight doesn't have as cushy a life as I do!
But what a pity that after only three days, our days of comfort were cut short.
Everyday, I would cast the spell Divine Wings on Walter before he would drop back behind our group to watch for any pursuers. That day when he returned to the camp and changed back into human form, he brought with him grave news. "The Blaze Knight is catching up to us. I saw him leading a group of about ten men less than a day's journey away from here."
"Do they have a priest amongst them?" I questioned.
"No," Walter answered with a shake of his head.
"Why hadn't they brought along a priest?" I asked with suspicion. "Priests can help to cast Divine Wings on them, right? Wouldn't that make the journey quicker and easier for them?"
Just then, Ecilan interrupted and explained dully. "A priest isn't capable of casting Divine Wings on ten people continuously for a long time. For that, they would need at least two priests, and they would need to be high-level priests at that. And even so, the priests would just be a burden as they are too weak and cannot withstand the journey at such a hurried pace."
At Ecilan's words, a thought occurred to me that Walter's estimate might not be accurate. "How much time would they need to arrive here?"
"With the Blaze Knight leading them the pursuers would most likely consist of holy knights from his own division, and if that's the case, if he says they would need a day's journey, then it should really take them five hours at most."
Everyone stared and gulped nervously at this.
"So quickly?" Archie cried in astonishment. "Are you sure they are holy knights and not of the thieves class?"
"Why are you being so honest?" I, on the other hand, was rather suspicious. As a hostage, Ecilan had not only behaved and kept quiet, he had even willingly cooked for his kidnappers and is now spilling all the intel on his rescuers to his enemies. Is there really such an obedient and helpful hostage as him? He might as well just declare himself one of us!
"Because escape is futile. When I mentioned that Blaze was nearby, do you know where he was?" he paused before giving the answer. "He was in the city of Fated Leaf."
Everyone reeled back in shock when they heard this, with the exception of myself. "Why? What about Fated Leaf City?"
Walter took a deep steadying breath before he explained, "Fated Leaf City is on the edge of Forgotten Echo, some distance away from Kissinger. For any ordinary person, it would take them six days to get here…-no, there are forests and the danger of thieves and wild beasts that one would need to get through, so I think ten days would be a better estimate."
"And yet they only took three days?" I asked in astonishment. "Have they been travelling without stopping for food or rest? Are they even human?"
"We are not normal humans."
Ecilan suddenly spoke up again. He looked at me as he stressed slowly, "We were never normal."
I blinked before turning to the rest. "Do you guys think he's telling the truth? If he's right, the Blaze Knight will catch up to us within five hours; we won't have enough time to escape."
"Of course what he says is true," Yuna said harshly. "He is a disciple of the God of Light and one of the Twelve Holy Knights-the highest order of the Light Church; everyone knows that they would never speak falsely!"
"And he doesn't need to lie to us, does he? We can't escape anyhow," added Walter, finally convincing me. Even without my memories, I refused to believe that there was anyone in the world who would never lie.
"If escaping is pointless, then we'll just have to attack them first," I considered calmly. "We'll ambush them instead."
"You want to go up against the Blaze Knight?!" cried Igor incredulously. "Have you gone mad?!"
The rest of the group were a little slow to react, having stared at me blankly before finally staring at me in shock when the words registered.
I tried explaining it to them. "They are only ten men strong while we have six. Plus, we have a hostage with us. If we can plan our ambush carefully, we would have a pretty good chance of winning--"
"Pretty good chance of winning? Only ten men?" Archie stared at me with his mouth wide open. "Do you have any idea who the Twelve Holy Knights are? The God of Light's Twelve Holy Knights, the War God's representative-the Son of War and the God of Chaos' Silent Eagle are legends! Real life legends! They hold even more influence than the Gods that they represent!!...... They are living, breathing gods themselves!"
Everyone nodded their heads in agreement.
'Really? That strong?' I thought as I patted Ecilan's head absentmindedly. "So, you're saying that this thing is a living breathing god?"
"Creus, in a lot of ways, you're not a normal human either," muttered Walter in a low voice.
Yuna shook her head and sighed. "Just the fact that you managed to break the laws of dark and light elements coexisting together excludes you from the realms of normal. To simultaneously cast both holy spells and necromancy spells, heavens! I wonder just who you really are."
I tilted my head as a memory sparked in my mind. "Hadn't you guys said that I had been travelling with a holy knight and a dark elf? Perhaps they weren't really my companions but actually my teachers, or something like that?"
At that, a look of comprehension dawned on them……
I was about to mention Red to them as well when Ecilan suddenly said, "If you don't start setting up whatever ambush you had in mind now, you won't have enough time. The trap would have to be absolutely perfect for the Blaze Knight and his holy knights to fall for it."
You hear that? You hear that?! One really has to wonder if the Frost Knight has a grudge against the Blaze Knight! Wait a minute, Blaze and …… Frost? Could it be that they don't get along like 'fire and ice? And if that's true, is Ecilan actually using us to off his enemy for him?
"I won't kill him, but arranging a little inconvenience for him wouldn't be out of my way," I said after having thought it through. "Don't sweat it," I told him, patting his shoulder in a show of camaraderie. "Since you've been so cooperative with us and cooked for us, as well as telling us so much about him, giving you a helping hand shouldn't be too much trouble."
Ecilan stared at me blankly.
'He's probably embarrassed that I had figured him out, huh?' I nodded to myself.
"Alright, gather around, people. Here's how we're going to set the trap--"
"Hey, you know how to set traps too?" Archie interrupted. "At least leave something for the thief to do," he protested.
"He's taken over my job, why not yours too," said Yuna icily.
"Thank goodness my job's still secure," crowed Igor smugly. "Not only does he not know how to use a sword, he can't even hold one properly!"
I rolled my eyes in exasperation. "I'm a priest…… and maybe a necromancer on the side, so of course I wouldn't know how to handle a sword."
But I noticed that as soon as I had said that, Ecilan stared at me in disbelief.
"What are you looking at?" I asked him impatiently. "It's not like I'm a knight like you, so what's so surprising about me not knowing how to wield a sword!"
Ecilan quickly turned to look away, but his expression looked kind of funny……
I was hiding behind a small hill with the unicorn by my side and Ecilan still being carried on the unicorn's back. The only difference now was that while previously he had been wrapped tightly in chains and then laid across the back of the unicorn, this time he was chained to the back of the unicorn.
This way even if the Blaze Knight managed to overcome all of us, the unicorn can still escape with him. And as long as they haven't gotten back Ecilan, the Blaze knight cannot kill us, so really, this was a preventive measure in case our plan fails and everyone is captured.
In my place behind the hill, I stretched the images in my mind further and further, spreading out in ever wider circles…… until I finally found the Blaze Knight.
The amount of fire and holy elements that made up the Blaze Knight was staggering and impossible to miss. But I quickly noticed that Walter was wrong, in that there were only eight of them instead of the ten he had reported.
"What is it?" I asked Ecilan absentmindedly, my attention still focused on the Blaze Knight. I suddenly got curious and asked, "By the way, what's the Blaze Knight's name?"
Ecilan quieted for a moment before asking in a soft voice, "You-have you really forgotten? Blaze's first name is Jacques, Jacques Blaze; and your full name is Creus Sun!"
I blinked, my attention instantly focused on Ecilan. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Creus Sun! You are the Sun Knight of the Church of Light, the head of the Twelve Holy Knights!" he cried in a fierce tone I had never heard from him before.
I am the Sun Knight? The head of the Twelve Holy Knights?
I paused before shaking my head and smiling faintly at him. "Heh, you nearly got me. You're trying to stop me from harming your comrade, Blaze, right? That's why you came up with such a story."
"I'm not lying!"
Ecilan said urgently, "That day when you vanished, Judge sent out eight separate troops in search of you. Earth and Stone were sent to Moon Orchid, while Blaze and I were sent to Kissinger here to look for you. The rest are spread out within Forgotten Echo looking for you."
"Bullshit!" I lashed out.
But Ecilan refused to give up, continuing, "Sun, you have to believe me. We should hurry back to the Holy Temple. Judge is furious, he said that if you go back completely unharmed he'll kill you; but if you dared to go back injured, he'll make you regret it."
"Well then, it's a good thing I'm not going back, isn't it?" I blurted out while I wondered who the hell Judge was.
"Leithe Judge. That is Captain Judge Knight's full name." Ecilan looked at me pityingly as he pleaded, "You have to believe me, Sun, you don't want to upset Judge. He's the only person you are afraid to go against."
'I'm afraid of him?' I snorted contemptuously. "You're missing a huge flaw in your story."
"That's right." I smiled coldly as I said, "Have you forgotten what Igor had said earlier? I can't even hold a sword properly, so how can I be a knight? So really, this lie of yours is stretching too far!"
Ecilan was finally struck speechless. I smiled at him mockingly, before finally noticing that the Blaze Knight and his holy knights were approaching the first trap. I hurriedly signalled my teammates at the first trap.
Ecilan suddenly said, "Don't harm Blaze, or else you will regret it for the rest of your life."
"I won't kill him, I don't want to get chased down by the Holy Temple," I replied as I signalled them. Ecilan kept quiet after that.
Interlinking traps – activate!
Phase 1 – The Honey Trap.
Caecilia and Yuna lay slumped by the roadside. According to them, holy knights would never ignore damsels in distress, so they would definitely bring them along, thus giving them the perfect opportunity to infiltrate the enemy camp!
"This might have worked against the others," commented Ecilan suddenly. "But against Blaze…… Blaze has always been rather tactless, and of the Twelve Holy Knights, he's the least gentlemanly; he doesn't know how to – nor does he need to – act chivalrous to women."
"… … why hadn't you said something earlier?" I growled at him resentfully.
"I don't believe I have any obligation to help you," he said indifferently.
Erh! I couldn't say anything in response, as what he said was true. After all, he was our hostage, not one of our teammates.
"But couldn't you have cooperated with us just once more?"
'I-I can't believe it! He actually turned his head and ignored me! Wh-what kind of attitude is this?! Has he forgotten that he's the hostage, not me?!!'
Meanwhile, the Blaze Knight really did march past Caecilia and Yuna without sparing a glance for them, continuing on his merry way. I could even 'see' the embarrassment on Caecilia and Yuna's faces. Initially when they had heard about their part in the plan, they had looked so excited too……
Who would have thought that the first phase of the plan would fail just like that? "Damn you, Blaze Knight! How could anyone have called that cold unfeeling man a knight!!"
But as soon as I said that, Ecilan admonished me harshly, "It's not that he is unfeeling, but that he feels too much! Sun! When you were declared missing, Blaze was the first to rush out to search for you, and he was the one to cover the widest area in his search. He practically pushed him and his division to their very limits! It is for you that he treats them so coldly! You can forget everything else, but you should never forget that Blaze always has and always will be the one to support you most."
Ecilan's impassionate tone gave me pause to think over his previous words, and after a long tense moment I couldn't help asking, "If I'm really the Sun Knight…… I can't wield a sword, money and women are all I think about, and I can even cast necromancy spells…… The Lights above, what kind of Sun Knight would I have made?!"
'I am the complete opposite of the Sun Knight ideal that Caecilia was constantly praising!'
Ecilan quieted before saying in a calmer manner, "We aren't really what the rest of the world perceives us as, but we do try our best not to disappoint them." He paused before continuing, "If not for the fact that you had already used dark magic and ruined the Sun Knight image before I could speak, I would have told you that you were the Sun Knight the instant I could speak."
'I see.' I recalled all the times he seemed to want to say something but had kept quiet in the end.
"Ecilan," I called. He looked at me quietly. I looked back at him and said apologetically, "I really don't remember you or the Blaze Knight, so no matter if what you said is true or not, Walter and the rest of the team are my comrades now. So right now, I'm trying my best not to let them down. But I give you my word that, unless absolutely necessary, I will not harm the Blaze Knight."
Ecilan merely hmmed in reply before suddenly remembering something and cautioning me, "Sun, don't blindly believe that strange girl; there's something suspicious about her."
"You've seen Red?"
I smiled weakly. "To someone who's lost their memories, everyone is suspicious."
"Then suspect everyone. No matter that girl Red, or Walter and his team, or even Blaze and I."
I was a little taken back by this advice, but regardless, I nodded and accepted his advice.
I then turned back to focus on the situation at hand and threw out a lightning bolt. Not at the Blaze Knight and his holy knights, but at Caecilia and Yuna…… Ah, I can almost hear their screams.
"He can't leave two women alone if they're injured and on the verge of dying, right?" I smiled faintly. "If so, then I'll really have to reconsider if I want to go up against up someone so-…… someone like that for just five thousand gold coins."
I stopped myself in time from adding the word 'unfeeling'. Even though I still had my doubts about what Ecilan had told me, I still chose to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I had with Red. For even if it was rather unlikely, there was still a chance that what Ecilan had said was true, and if so I didn't want to blemish the Blaze Knight's name.
I can only half believe both Ecilan and Red, whereas Walter and the rest of the team…… well, to be honest, they aren't really capable of doing anything to me, so I'm not worried about them.
It is also precisely for that reason, that I can only believe in them right now.
When the lightning bolt struck them, the holy knights had indeed stopped and looked back hesitatingly before turning to look at their captain questioningly.
The Blaze Knight hesitated for a few moments before going back for the two women and casting a few healing spells on them. He then proceeded to ask the women a few questions as he peered around carefully, but he didn't manage to find anything out of the ordinary. He then called over one of his knights and together they each carried one of the women on their backs and continued on their way.
It is now my turn in the next phase of the plan. I got onto the unicorn, and along with Ecilan, I started out on my task – to lead the Blaze Knight and his merry men in circles – thus buying time for Walter and the rest of the team to complete their preparations.
I had originally thought that this would be an easy task, a piece of cake, for it shouldn't be any different from previously. After all, is it not the same, riding on the unicorn?
Well, that is true.
But! I now have to ride day and night without rest, for I had only a few moments to dump my ass on the ground and munch a few mouthfuls of bread before I am forced to remount and continue running away.
Those holy knights are monsters! They seem to know neither hunger nor exhaustion, only the swift and steady march after their target – me.
Whenever I try to travel on the smooth well-worn roads, they seem to magic horses from out of nowhere, forcing me to retreat back into the deep forests where the unicorn would have to constantly leap over and around various trees and bushes and other sorts of obstacles as can be found in a forest terrain. My butt suffered the brunt of it as a result of such rough riding, and I am forced to constantly throw healing spells at my butt, in fear that it might split in two sooner rather than later.
But thankfully my sacrifice is not in vain as they are forced to dismount and pursue me on foot through the forests.
But even though the unicorn is more nimble and is able to navigate through the dense forests unlike ordinary horses, it was being forced to carry two full-grown men and a bunch of baggage. So not only is the beast burdened down, it also had to take care not to shake too much, causing it to go even slower than the knights on foot.
"This is the border of Forgotten Echo and Moon Orchid, so the Church of Light would still hold some sway over the people here. It is very easy to gain the cooperation of the farmers around here to hear about your whereabouts or to draft a few steeds," Ecilan explained indifferently.
Damn it! I hadn't thought about that. I should have gone full out from the start when there was still some distance between us instead of purposefully slowing down for fear of them losing my trail.
But aren't Yuna and Caecilia with them? Were they unsuccessful in slowing them down…… or could it be that this is their slowed speed?
Well, no matter what, if this continues I'll be caught up for sure! The odds won't be good if they manage to catch up to me before I can lead them to the final destination…… Looks like I have no other choice but to attack them!
"Hmph! Jacques Blaze, one of the living gods, eh?" I snorted. "Well, let's see if you're really as they make you out to be!"
Even though I had no idea if it would make a difference between ambushing them during the daytime or at night, I took into consideration that their God - the Light God - had to mean something, so it would be best to avoid a conflict with them during the peak of the day. Instead, the inky blackness of the night would suit my purpose of sneaking an attack on them better. It also helps that I found it easier to wield dark magic at night.
So anyway, my plan was to sneak an attack on them at night and injure a few of them. Hopefully this will slow them down.
And according to Archie's teachings, one must cover their faces when doing naughty things.
So, I took one of Archie's daggers and hammered it into some kind of misshapen metal mask and tied it to my face with some string. I then put on one of Yuna's priest robes before covering it with a layer of dark elements. Next, I grabbed a strangely shaped piece of tree branch I found lying by the roadside to be used as a staff.
And last of all, I covered my face with a thick layer of dark elements, and I'm done!
"What do ya think? Do I look like a necromancer?"
Ecilan shook his head and said, "No necromancer would wear white robes. Furthermore, Blaze would recognise you just from seeing your hair colour and the lower half of your face."
I stared at him blankly. "What are you talking about? What lower half of my face? I've already covered it with dark elements, haven't I? And what is this 'white'?"
"… …" after a few moments of silence, Ecilan asked a completely unrelated question. "So, Leaf was right, you really are blind?"
"Leaf? Me blind?" I said doubtfully, "I can see you."
"Really?" Ecilan sounded angry for some reason. "Then tell me, what's the colour of my hair?"
"Colour?" I looked at him stupefied. 'What's he so upset about?' Pushing that question to the back of my head, I asked, "What is colour?"
Ecilan fell silent, before at last, he gave a sigh and said, "Forget it. You'll have to make the mask cover all of your face and then cover your hair and robes in a layer of dark elements so thick it is visible to the naked eye."
"So thick it's visible to the naked eye?" Can't you see it already with just a little elements?
"Just make it very thick!"
Ecilan refused to budge on this, insisting that unless I do as he says, I would be recognised instantly, that he didn't want Blaze to realise that his attacker was me as he would get very upset, blah blah blah……
So, to avoid being recognised…… or just to shut him up, I hammered another dagger and used it to cover the lower half of my face before adding thick layers of dark elements to my hair and robes. If anyone can still recognise me after all this effort, I'll-I'll-I won't listen to Ecilan ever again! So there!
When I had finally satisfied Ecilan and shut him up once and for all, I let out a sigh of relief, for this guy could be one demanding person. I've realised that whenever it's just the two of us alone together, his icy act would fall away to reveal his true nagging nature!
With all preparations complete, I gave a pat to the unicorn's neck and told it, "Unicorn, you stay right here with him and wait for my return. You are not allowed to wander away. You can try, but I guarantee you that you won't like the consequences!"
The unicorn nodded and even licked my hands. Seeing as I had to depend on it for my escape later, I magnanimously allowed it to lick me without saying a thing.
I absentmindedly rubbed my hands dry on the unicorn's neck before stepping out on my Night Ambush.
Oh God of Light! Please protect me and let this ambush go smoothly…… er, even if the target of the ambush is one of your holy knights, you mustn't play favourites!