“The road to Hel is paved with good intentions.”
--- Clarisse of Bellevaux c. 510 M.C.
~October 5, 999
Inhaling the twilight mist, Seirin rubbed her eyes and stifled a yawn.
Leda went over to her side, and gave her a small shot of Morroc Fruit Wine. “A Rupi for your thoughts?”
“I’ll raise you 2 Rupis then.” The Royal Guard covered her mouth with one hand and tossed a couple of coins the Archbishop’s way with the other. “It’s getting cold and it’s not helping me keep awake.”
Leda caught it and pocketed it into her frock, drinking her own cup of Siroma Icetea. The silence between them wasn’t awkward, but it was still too quiet, so she said, “Zeny’s really unstable these days. I thought they phased the Rupi out of circulation.”
“Bureaucracy, go figure. Don’t try to figure out politics, Leda. It’s unhealthy.” Seirin shrugged while mock-lecturing her friend. They exchanged some lighthearted banter before the blonde downed the remainder of her shot and looked up at the navy bluish sky. Silent again, the militant hummed before broaching on something that’s been in her head for awhile.“You know, I had a nightmare again yesterday. Demons did…things. I kind of expected it because of where we are, and its not like my body conformed to it in either dream state or reality.”
The white-haired Archbishop patted her friend’s shoulder in comfort and brought out a rosary, offering her, “do you want me to pray for you?”
“No, no thank you. There’s no need for that. I can be killed, injured, or violated in any dream, but what always got to me was what happened after the demons.” Seirin shook her head and stepped out of the Archbishop’s touch, holding her arms together as a shield from the cold before continuing, “Randgris was there, and there were ten others, but I only saw their shadows, or silhouettes, I think?”
“Randgris? The Dark Valkyrie Randgris?” Leda inquired curiously.
“Yes, the same one that fled to the southern skies after I nearly killed her,” the blonde affirmed, looking up at the dark sky as it turned into a brighter shade of blue from the all-encompassing dimness. “She started coming at me, and the ten others did too. Before I knew it I was on the ground torn into pulps of flesh and blood.”
Leda listened before pitching in thoughtfully, “so that’s why we saw her in the Endless Tower, or maybe a copy. I don’t think I can tell you what that dream means. You’d have to ask a Shaman for that,” She looked down on the ground in a sort of apology, putting her rosary back in her pocket then glancing at the inn door. “He’s late. I thought he’d be the first one up since he’s so insistent on getting an early start.”
“You probably wore him out when dancing the horizontal polka together last night. The walls sure are awfully thin for such a fine and rich city,” Seirin impishly grinned at her friend.
“S-Seirin!” the Archbishop sputtered, her face flushed from her friend’s rather crass teasing. When the laughter finally died down, the silence returned between them, with Seirin smiling but Leda rather slightly pensive. A few seconds ticked by in before she let out a sudden outburst, very red-faced and wheezing. “I’m really sorry about what happened last January. I know you were hurt and Yura and I-”
“Leda!” Seirin raised her hand to stop her, a little red and flabbergasted herself all of a sudden. “Stop, please,” she didn’t laugh, but no tears either, as if this was just normal conversation “I’m fine, I swear. What occured then was something that had to happen. Avoidable, yes, but it was something that happened anyway and I’m mostly fine from it already. I also told Yura and Miria I’ve forgiven them too before I even left.” she assured, shrugging then smiling as a sign of good will at her companion when the latter looked up to her face.
“If you two are done with your disgusting good-feels cutesy moments, let’s go.” A third person interrupted them, and the two women looked back to see the Dastal glaring right at them. “We haven’t got all day and I want to be back before sunset.”
“Dastal,” Seirin rolled his name off her tongue nonchalantly “you’re up.”
“Of course I’m up.” The Ranger marched right past the two and walked on before turning back and sending them another glare. “Now move it! I want to get there before sunrise.”
The two followed right behind him. Seirin leaned discreetly toward her friend and whispered, “I’d respect his determination and eagerness if it weren’t for the fact that he’s too much of a spiteful prick, and not the attractive kind; no offense.”
“None taken,” Leda giggled and whispered back “I haven’t seen him this active since all the others started resigning from adventuring and disappeared into obscurity. He’s bored so this quest might do him some good.” Another brief silenced passed before she spoke again, this time with an earnest request. “Just please don’t fight each other, for me?”
“Like Hel!” Seirin wanted to shout and roll her eyes but felt the Archbishop’s energy tap against her own for reassurance, so she held it down with a smile and instead sighed, “haah, alright. For you.”
Sure enough, the unusual trio arrived at their destination by sunrise; not that they could see the sunrise with the imposing height of Mt. Mjolnir behind them and the stagnant clouds and fog before them. Glast Heim’s rusty gate loomed right in front of them. Beyond those doors lay evil that men couldn’t and shouldn’t have to comprehend. The church militant felt her hair stand on end. She’s been here a lot of times, her only way to gain experience having been to kill those who were already dead and offering their lost souls a temporary respite. There was no doubt that her two companions have been to the forgotten capital multiple times as well. They should already be used to this.
Though everything still was supposed to be the usual, she still felt the necessity to warn them though because of an unsettled feeling, “be careful inside. Just because people have set up a ‘safe’ base camp doesn’t mean we’re actually safe from the undead. The monsters would take every opportunity they could to latch onto us because of our abundant life energy, especially Leda’s.” With all that said, she went first and pushed open the gate. All at once, disconcerting silence enveloped them, more nervous and dismaying than the ones between Seirin and Leda just awhile ago.
The old capital was a place utterly devoid of life, like, not even having any soul. Sure there was the overrun vegetation but rather than 「alive」 it’s like the entire place was stuck in timeless catatonia, no wind or breeze came from or blew by them. The sky overhead was a gloomy black-blue, enshrouding the ruins in a state of perpetual twilight even in the what should have been a bright morning.
Their meandering walk came to a sudden halt upon hearing the sound of a neighing horse right behind them. A black spear struck the ground right between the three, forcing them to scatter. An Abysmal Knight and two Khalitzburgs spawned right behind them! Unfortunately, it looked like they just decided that Leda would make a fine target. Before the spear could strike her, the Archbishop was able to stop it, “SANCTUARY! PNEUMA!” The spear was stopped with a holy forcefield and luminous mist that surrounded the Archbishop, followed by the repeated strikes and deaths of the Khalitzburg mob. All the while, Dastal had been knocked off a little farther that he was out of range, and both Sanctuary and Pneuma soon wore off. It was far too troubling. Because both skills had to draw power from the user’s own supply of magical energy instead of augmenting it with gemstones, it was comparatively one of the weaker spells of the Priest-class skill tree.
“Leda!” Seirin ran to her friend, sending a surge of holy magical energy in the Archbishop’s direction that washed over the woman. The Abysmal Knight’s spear struck Leda, but she felt no pain as a spark traveled over the leyline of holy energy on the ground and the pain transferred over to the Royal Guard instead. Seirin felt a searing ache hit over her cheek like a blunt hit, but paid no attention to it. Not wanting to risk Leda’s life any longer, she threw her shield and charged her Hallowed Long Horn at the dark horseman. Ready to strike, she felt her eyes widen beneath her helm as the monster retracted its own spear and raised its sword over Leda. All at once Seirin leaped and blocked the sword mid-air from swinging down with her holy spear, making sure the edge of the blade was nowhere near her flesh. “Watch out! Get behind Dastal, quickly!”
Both the clergywoman and militant knew what it meant should they ever get hit. A Priest once wrote about the abysmal blade lost in darkness, and knowledge of it was archived within the church records, one they both studied at separate occasions. Just a small cut from the sword would set an irreversible process of spiritual corruption on the poor victim. Sacrifice might alleviate some effects, but due to the magic ultimately stemming from just a human source, it would be more of a hindrance than a benefit. Had Leda been hit by the blade lost in darkness, Sacrifice would have caused them both to corrupt spiritually, albeit at a slower, more torturous pace.
The Archbishop obeyed and hid behind the Ranger, buffing her lover with many spells and sending heals right at Seirin’s direction, some helping the Royal Guard and some damaging the Abysmal Knight.
Now preoccupied with defending herself, Seirin kept the dark sword at bay with her spear and shield. She couldn’t believe she was doing this, but, “Dastal, help!” She could only defend for so long before she had to counter back at the expense of her own safety, or keep her footing before the corrupted knight finally broke through her defenses. Sucking in a breath and gritting her own teeth, she tried to push the monster back and buy the Ranger more time to get closer. The loud clangs of metal against metal began to grate at her, infernal green and yellow sparks flying off.
A sudden crashing sound stopped the attack. It sounded as though it came from the other side of the city wall. The crash repeated again and again until a large hole crumbled on the city wall and in came a big, blue wolf-like creature. The two women stared at it in relief as the Warg went to Dastal’s side, who petted it and pointed to the Abysmal Knight. “Go get ‘im, boy! WARG BITE!”
Following its master’s command, the Warg leapt at the corrupted knight and swiped its claws before biting the horse by the leg and tearing it off. The horse neighed as black rotted discharge spurt from the leg stub, the stench of death overwhelming. Dastal came closer and unleashed another barrage of arrows overhead of the black knight while Seirin managed to push the blade off of her. Their odd teamwork victorious, the monster fell “dead” before disappearing into nothing.
Dastal held onto Leda’s hand, a little dismayed at the shock but not showing it, followed closely by the Warg who nuzzled and drooled over his master’s lover. “Hey, down boy, she’s mine, not yours. Get your own.” The Warg growled a little before ditching the Archbishop and going to the Royal Guard and slobbering all over the militant instead. “Down, boy! Don’t lick her, she’s poison.”
Of course, the Warg pretended not understand this and Seirin smiled while petting the large wolf’s nuzzle before giving a deadpan stare at Dastal. “really? After all these months you still have the gall to say that in my presence?”
Leda, who had since recovered from that scare, discreetly struck her Dastal’s gut with her elbow then approached the Royal Guard with him in tow and breathed easily. “Let’s just go to the castle entrance before we attract any more of those things. I wonder why the Church never tried to exorcise this place anyway…”
“I’ve been wondering the same thing myself,” Seirin remarked softly, touching the walls that the Warg went through. It’s crumbled form seemed to become grayer than the rest when she picked it up. “Perhaps this city isn’t as static as people thought.”
“Let’s get a move on. Instead of just going around trying to find those traces you’re talking about, let’s visit that time professor. Maybe we could find some clues from the past and stop all this with that book you have. You brought it, right?” asked the Ranger while he affixed his bow to his back. He led them down through the lifeless vegetation and stone pillars while his Warg sniffed around close behind.
Seirin calmly brought out the Rune Royal Family Book from where it was nestled at her shield’s back and tossed the book to him, which he caught. “Even if we do, that kind of thing is just a fringe benefit, isn’t it?” The Royal Guard said, as neutrally as possible, “you don’t actually want to help me or the tormented souls; you just wanted more footwear and time crystals to give to the guild Geneticist and sell for retail. Well, there’s one problem with that.”
Dastal scoffed, crossing his arms and glaring at Seirin. “Oh yeah? What’s that?”
Unrelenting, Seirin countered with a calm tone, “you are so obviously wrong that even if you know it, you ignore it for money. The past can’t be changed; it will fail, or had already failed, and the outcome of the present will always be inevitable.” Though she had enough self-control to refrain from taking an aggressive tone and insulting him, the tension between the once good friends was palpable. One more syllable from either of them would’ve been enough for a fight to break out.
Leda stepped between the two, speaking up, “Seirin, I think it’s a great idea. You saw that Abysmal Knight. Souls like those,” she paused momentarily to find the right words “they deserve some rest. Now that we know what will happen, or what did happen, maybe we could prevent this and save all these people. Please? We have to try…” the Archbishop pleaded with her, full of sweet hearty optimism and good intentions. Seirin’s weakpoint.
The Royal Guard didn’t have the heart to tell her that such a possibility was only wishful thinking. Many adventurers traveled to the past of Glast Heim so many times, a memorial dungeon in tribute to those who fell during that fated day. Regardless of the various repetitions, what happened must happen, and that is the inevitability of fate.
It was another fundamental rule of this world. In theory, paradoxes in time could not exist; the world will repair itself according to the will of fate. Scholars who looked into and studied the chrono-spatial instances observed the aftereffect of some mysterious force gaslighting anyone who slips into these instances to ensure the continuity of the natural order, and even introduce sensory illusion from something as mundane like outfit swaps to the massively unstable “Anachronistic Displaced Lucidity Syndrome.” More than anything it was probably decreed by God to prevent people from tampering themselves out of existence or making forbidden wishes about others’ life spans. The only way adventurers knew they traveled in the past was clear memories of the dimensional device, which existed in the present and therefore did not break the rule of the world, and of course, the loot. While in the studies it was dictated that some remembered better than most, they only did so to a limited extent.
Leda’s efforts would be wasted; the two bound to do the same thing they’ve already done dozens of times. Still, Seirin couldn’t stand to turn that smile upside-down. Was it a sin to give false hope when there is also a small possibility of a miracle? Maybe they might catch something worth remembering. “Alright, fine. But be careful.”
But there was still the matter of unconditional failure. It was already a foregone conclusion that Dastal and Leda and any other adventurer failed, and Glast Heim fell anyway. Besides, Seirin had a more crucial objective: to find Heinrich. The past already happened, but the present exists; if she could find Heinrich, she had a feeling she would find the answers about the Ymir’s Heart piece in Glast Heim. She could not retroactively remember among the times past in the memorial dungeon if Heinrich and her ever encountered each other, but beyond a reasonable doubt, he was involved on that day as the tyrant king’s right hand man. Her tactical prowess got to work quickly. How would she act if she ever met the man? What was his fighting style? Is it alright to land a fatal strike in self-defense?
With a sly and surreptitious glance at Leda, she succinctly suggested, “We should split up. I’ll stay in the present and you two go to the past.”
Dastal, who had been in front and leading the way to the base camp glared at her again with suspicion. “Why?”
“It’s more convenient to see if something changes in the present if someone is actually in it. I’ll stay behind. I need to be here to observe and find clues.” She apologized in her mind towards Leda, because truly the idea had no merit. She disliked to admit it, but perhaps there was merit to Dastal’s idea. If those two triggered the past, a huge influx of magical energy from time-space distortion would most likely attract Heinrich out of hiding in the present. The idea of using them this way left a bitter taste in her mouth and a dull ache in her heart. Depending on the outcome, with luck she would be able to ascertain how the heart piece impacted the old capital’s history and governance, closer to fulfilling the mission she’d been dispatched with.
Finally relenting, the Ranger groaned and agreed, “fine.”
“Good luck.” Leda smiled at her, with Seirin calm and accepting, and the three parted for their respective objectives.
It was easy to lose track of time in a stagnant city, even easier if exploring said city alone. Her feeling of time was that it wasn’t quite lunchtime yet, even though she only had a light breakfast and felt a wee bit peckish. With no guide, she wandered about looking into nooks and crannies for anything she missed from the multiple times she’d been in the former capital, muttering all the while, “I should have kept that book.” Eventually, her search was rewarded when a strange wisp of blue led Seirin to the inside of the chivalry after a short chase. “This is-” Brief flashes of white marble walls and beautiful paintings came and ended in a second. Just awhile ago, the traces of Schmitz she had spoken to upon becoming a Royal Guard refused to acknowledge her, but surely what led her here was a sign from God, right?
However, where the wisp entered, it disappeared, and she was left alone again to wander the ancient knightage. “What did God want me to find here?” There were a few brief encounters with monsters, but nothing to be too fearful over. Still, she felt sad just being outside for some reason; the gloominess of the city seemed less intense indoors than out. “What a beautiful city it must have been, but excess ruined it,” she said, her hands feeling for the walls while swinging her spear at stray monsters with the other. Now at the second floor of the antiquated chivalry, she gazed at the interior’s rusting splendor, keeping an eye and ear out for nasty surprises before finally stopping, staring into the darkness below the edge before her.
Seirin had found herself before a set of stairs. The stairway itself was obviously dark and the masonry was cracked. It’s just as she had expected. Below the crevice where the stairway led to, the musty air permeated, emanating only of antiquity and devoid of life and light. There was nothing yet, not even any monster had shown up in this godforsaken part of the chivalry; or at least, not in her presence after she had cut a few Khalitzburgs down. Her spear scratched against the stone flooring and torn fabrics, making loud noises to attract any monsters nearby. It was a risky tactic, but she decided that it was better to confront them now, rather than having them attack by surprise with her back turned later. She kept her ears attentive to the noise outside of her spear. “Nothing. Looks like I’m safe for now, I guess.”
Walking from the side and standing over the ledge of the stairway again, the Royal Guard stared back into the ruinous steps below before looking at her own feet and noticed the small drops of dried blood right near the sole of her shoes. She stooped and knelt on one knee, her gauntlet covered fingers brushing over the dry maroon stains on stone. A memory entered her, and she remembered a poor sad knight, bleeding mid-air in an unholy magic circle, the engraved incantation a summoning ritual that entailed chimerical and necrotic magic; who was that? Who had caused that? It was something she should remember. Her thoughts drifted, and she remembered something someone once said to her when she was so very young, that to bring forth an immortal being into Midgard, heavenly or otherwise, would require a sacrifice of life.
That was yet another fundamental rule of this world. What only differed was that infernal and nonaligned beings have no rules or limits while heavenly beings required the holocaust to have commiserating intentions when doing a conscious self-sacrifice. Her fingers rubbed over the dried blood stains and she uttered a soft prayer of repose for the dead knight whose name she could not remember. “It must be the worst way to depart this world; to die against one’s own will as a pawn of destruction. Poor man. Find rest in God.”
Unnerved by the discovery, she searched around the immediate vicinity for a second time, as faint clear shimmers began to appear in the air, and she could see the translucent outlines of her friends, and a woman clad in black and skulls and ugly frills. “Ew.” As she watched the reappearing moments, she folded her arms close and scowled in nervous anticipation. “There really is an effect in the present. They made it this far. Thank God. Please be safe.”
Yet as her friends continued on the visions disturbed her mind; watching it unfold before her eyes even if it was all just a chrono-spatial illusion now, Seirin began to remember some of it with vivid clarity. “The heart piece was stolen by Dead Man’s Valkyrie 470 years ago. It hasn’t been here for centuries. Father Bamph and I had it wrong all along.”
The mission was complete. The primary objective to investigate the status of the piece has been met (and the secondary one to retrieve it had failed from the start). Heinrich’s whereabouts had been merely tertiary, not even a “side quest” in adventurer slang. Still, something wasn’t quite right. The conclusion and truth of what happened that day had been drawn, but something surely important happened here long before and long after, yet what? Seirin struggled to remember and looked around again, watching the faint shimmers around the air distort slightly as Leda and Dastal engaged at a red monster with eyes and stitched up flesh –“Armdarais,” she now remembered– in the past. “It must have been my imagination. What’s wrong with me? I usually finish the mission and go. There’s nothing else; I should just wait for them to return to the present then go home,” she debated to herself and left to see above other than slight past-present distortions. So why had she jumped down the ledge onto the stairway just now?
Dismayed at her own illogical move, the Royal Guard sighed and began to feel for the wall that was at the bottom of the stairwell. Her eyes closed, the darkness setting in more with the visor of her helm, helping her concentrate her thoughts as her fingers traced and grasped at the cold, cracked surface. Drifting thoughts came in, contemplating why the Dead Man’s Valkyrie –what was her name again?- had been at this location. “Could it be that this was where the piece was kept? But it’s just wall.” Perhaps a secret passage or a filled doorway to conceal a room beyond then? She tried to push it with her hand, but nothing happened. There was nothing either, no mana from where a piece of Ymir’s Heart was once kept, or even dark mana of infernal origin. It was true then, Glast Heim was devoid of all life. Neither mana nor life energy could thrive here any longer.
Looking up, she could see the flickering time distortions as her friends -well, friend, since Dastal is in a gray zone right now- fought bravely against Armdarais. “God almighty, watch over my friends and grant them assured victory.” Only waiting for their battle to end so they could regroup, the militant closed her eyes and tried to remember the dictations of the Rune Royal Family Book, which stated that Schmitz von Walter had been an insane and hedonistic tyrant who tried to achieve the forbidden through unholy means; it was because of him that Glast Heim fell and demons from the underworld and dark realms appeared. However, it was irreconcilable and confounding. What she had witnessed and some of what she remembered through the time gap was different from the accounts of the book. Furthermore, when she became a Royal Guard, she had encountered the lingering trace of King Schmitz himself. He wasn’t insane as she was led to believe when she spoke to him, but her unease remained. Something was definitely wrong, and the story of Glast Heim was clearly incomplete.
There must be a good reason why with so few survivors from 470 years ago to testify, the consistent tale lived on that somehow the late king was at fault which resulted in the Walters being stigmatized to this very day. So how did those two points, Mad King Schmitz and Dead Man’s Valkyrie, intersect? What was the entire truth of the old capital’s downfall with no stone unturned?
It was unquestionable that something horrifying had happened to the late king; fragmentary words from the past had hinted as much. There was also the matter of his trace which seemed lucid enough when they were talking about Heinrich’s frighteningly undying loyalty. “That would mean that the Royal Guards of that time were probably the first victims of Glast Heim’s corruption then,” she softly echoed to the wall, tracing the cold stony surface with her gauntlet yet again while deep in thought.
…On the other hand, the Royal Guards of the present time were bound, once they turn from being Crusaders or Paladins. It was an irregular contract that actually binds an individual into involvement when certain criteria have been met; effectively making a person “property”, a pawn or bargaining chip that was more of a thing than a human being. “This is too strange. What are the pieces I’m missing, and why can’t I let this go when my mission is done? Think, Leid, think!”
A contract can use people way back then as tools, whether it is for nuptials, settlement of debt, or servitude, but what kind of contract would bind the militant arm of the Orthodoxy to turn their back on God and serve mortal kings?
And at the center of it all was Heinrich. Heinrich, whom she encountered as an official envoy of the Sanctuary to the Prontera Palace while under a mission to investigate why Paladins and Crusaders were leaving the service of the Church. Heinrich, the middle-aged man who was stuck in the glory days of the past and should seriously move on and get some medical help with that delusion. Heinrich, who has lived hundreds of years in possibly different bodies or other methods, and bind other people into hapless fealty agreements.
The man had probably been one of King Schmitz’s earlier attempts of summoning immortals and otherworldly beings. Surely, he was something not from Valhalla if he could make contracts that defied holy orders and possibly possess other bodies. But neither could he be an infernal being if he has command over holy magic. “Whatever Sir Heinrich is,” she was now sure “he definitely isn’t human. If he used to be human, it must have taken great power to live this long…” the Royal Guard paused at the possibility as a chill swept down her spine at the thought “…power like that from Ymir’s Heart. But without proof, I can’t just pull hypotheses out of thin air. Though if it’s true, then…” this must have been the start of Schmitz’s madness to consolidate all the state’s power and search for immortality, and Heinrich was somehow the archetypal inspiration. Was that the truth? “There’s too many holes to that theory. I need more evidence so the Church knows what it’s going up against.”
Her thoughts came to an abrupt stop when she heard laughing. Not just any laughter, the kind that was fanatical and intoned of unstable mental faculties, and it was right behind her.
Seirin quickly parried the sword that nearly stabbed her chest, face to face with a familiar man who she nearly once condemned to a fate of imprisonment. Her helm knocked off from the shockwave of the sudden impact, her deep blue eyes glared in fury at her attacker as she blocked blow for blow with her shield before her widening in recognition. “You...you’re...still alive? Faen! What the Hel are you doing here?”
Before her stood Rebarev Doug, the once captain of the 3rd platoon of Crusaders, and a traitor she had thought banished after the collection of a hundred signatures testifying against his treachery, one of whom was herself. “You miserable miscreant of a man, I thought you were under current investigation. Why are you here?” She didn’t declaim or shout. To do so would attract attention from nearby monsters, and she had a feeling it would only provoke that crazed look in this man’s eyes.
Ironic, Rebarev Doug was a man who wanted the impossible like the Mad King, yet she thought something seemed different, so different and so very wrong. This wasn’t a legend passed down or a fairy tale. This was so very real.
Many thoughts entered the Royal Guard’s head as she defended and evaded his strikes. She tried reasoning with him while parrying, “What became of you? Have you gone mad, man? This unholy place is not for the likes of us unless it’s to expiate dead souls and get experience!” And it was true, it looked like he’s become mad. “It’s weird how I never saw your body while Sir Heinrich was missing too and Sir von Shedough was already killed. Was it Heinrich who brought you here? Why?” She hastily asked, trying to pry more information from him while he tried to land another blow with his sword.
The edge of the older man’s saber clashed over her form, nearly swiping at her neck. She countered him after another parry and charged, putting her weight on the shield and solidifying her position. “Tch! No good.” With a wall right behind her, her current position didn’t leave her much room to move. She didn’t want to hurt him, because he still had to be made answerable for his crimes. With no other choice, she charged forward with her shield and nearly knocked him over, but failed again with the move only pushing him back slightly.
“Damn! If only I had more room.” She still had to fight him while keeping him at bay and alive. She had to distract him, and find out why he’s here and what he’s doing. But how? Alone as she was struggling while her friends –friend, Dastal still doesn’t count, damn it- were still gathering loots from the treasure room if the faint shimmers from above were anything to go by.
The former captain differed, however, and with a crazed fervor, swung at his target without mercy or thought. “I am a Crusader! I’m God’s chosen servant who will go to paradise. A sinner like you doesn’t deserve to be in Valhalla, so die!” he finally said in a frenzy as he yet again swung his sword over her head.
She blocked it with her shield, pushing him back yet again. “Damn! Definitely no good like this.” The man was drowning in pride and self-righteousness, more than any adventurer due to having a position of power. After this realization, finally, she caught sight of it. Beneath her lashes, or felt, magical energy flow into him, inhuman magical energy. “That power, it’s Sir Heinrich’s, isn’t it? It would be impossible for a man like you to be this powerful unless there’s outside interference!”
She rebuffed his attacks again, and began to move forwards and backwards at each step of the stairs while in combat. With all this noise, it was unusual that any monster hasn’t stumbled here yet, only confirming her thoughts that Heinrich had something to do with it. “Why are you really here?” She shouted at Rebarev Doug while striking the heart of his armor “Vanishing Point!” and missed.
His sword struck brushed against the temple of her head, a few strands drifting down to the floor and a trickle of blood falling down her jawline. Her blonde locks cascaded down to below her shoulders, and he reached over nearly grasping the tresses of her hair had she not dodged from his touch. “Give me The Sign! A sinful woman like you doesn’t deserve it. You tried to take what is rightfully my reward for my services to God. I should be the one with a seat of honor in Valhalla, not some strumpet like you. If I have The Sign, God will give it to me!” the older Crusader roared, swinging his weapon with the intent to kill “you’ll be my sacrifice to God, and then I’ll be welcomed to paradise for expiating the Church from sinners! I’m the servant of God, and His angel appeared before me, heed my words!”
“You really have gone mad, you crazy old fool!” So The Sign was what he was after? Who told him about it, and about her possessing it, this “angel” he proclaimed? “Heinrich is no angel!” Seirin exclaimed, finally dropping the pretense of titles and formalities. Her fingers combed over the locks of her cornsilk blonde hair; all free except for one lock hidden beneath, where the tassel of the coveted heavenly artifact tied it together and hid under the rest of her hair. Rebarev’s sword came at her side and she obstructed it with her shield yet again, narrowly escaping a grievous wound. “In any case, you’re wrong, and I will never hand over a divine artifact to the likes of you!” Now driven by adrenaline and self-preservation, the militant began her offensive steadily, ascending the steps meeting him spear against sword.
The battle continued on, and her sense of time completely escaped her, but she didn’t back down. “Looks like your wish may come true then! You’re no relying on mortal strength, so I’m free to hurt you.” As they traded blows, she rebuked against him, “you could covet the seat of honor in the hallowed halls all you like; and since you wanted a seat of honor in a god’s hall so badly, you’ll be the seat of honor for Lady Hel’s heel then. Congratulations! I already told her about all your misdeeds. Now surrender or I will personally deliver your soul to her myself!” Pointing her spear at him steadfastly, the Royal Guard looked up with some measure of pity, “I will personally ask a Priest to pray for plenary mercy from God if you turn your back now and repent. Give up now, Sir Doug!”
At those words, he became enraged, unable to accept such a damning fate and not believing. Rebarev Doug refused to see and look at the beam on his own eye. Though she couldn’t judge him, she would send him on his way. “Forgive me, God, but if it is your will, then let him die.” He charged blindly at her, and the magic flowing in him stopped.
That was all it took for it to end. She stepped aside from his attack and stabbed him with her Imperial Spear right through the heart.
The former captain coughed blood as his body slid down her spear, but no words came out. Seirin would’ve liked to offer a prayer for him, but knew that he was already beyond redemption. Kneeling on one knee and holding up her spear, she touched the crown of his head and murmured a different prayer instead, “As a militant, I cannot administer your last rites, and may God forgive me. Lady Hel, I pray to you, that in his punishment, those who died by his hand may now know relief. Bring them to sleep in the World of Dreams, o goddess of death.” Tilting the edge of her spear downwards until his near lifeless body sprawled to the floor, she watched the life fade from his eyes. Kneeling down next to him, she brushed her hand over his eyes to close them and arranged his hands folded on the chest, as though in peaceful repose. “For me to personally deliver your soul to Hel is too much of an honor you don’t deserve.” The impromptu battle finished, Seirin picked up her Dip Schmidt Helm, put it back on, and stood up.
She laid the body to rest on the top step of the stairway. “Sir Heinrich! Show yourself!” As soon as she said it, her challenge was answered with a sudden rumbling. Turning to her back, what was once a wall now led to a dark and musty corridor with barely any visibility of the inside. She could no longer feel the flux of time-space distortion magic, which meant her companions have finished. Leda, and dare she say it, Dastal, were halfway decent people; she wouldn’t dare to bring them to danger. “It’s time to step up and face this challenge alone,” the Royal Guard muttered and she stepped into the threshold leading into unknown.