Izek was being pushed back by Cesare’s shield and I saw him lose his footing, stumbling a few steps back and switching the hold on his sword to go into defense.
The bright blue luminescence lighting up the whole room was growing brighter, so it was impossible to see what kind of face Izek was making. Whether he was in pain or panicking from getting overpowered or if he was confident that he was going to win, I couldn’t see it at all.
I was sure of one thing, though. Cesare’s divinity was no match for Izek’s. He thrust his sword forward and snarled, and more and more cracks were appearing on my brother’s cerulean-colored guard. The light of his divinity was fading. Cesare’s shield was falling apart.
I could see Izek getting the upper hand again as he cornered Cesare, and the entire room vibrated with their divinities clashing. Luminosity fading in and out like lightning strikes, the sound of thunder booming in my ears, the heavy pressure in the air because of divinity bursting forth and the room shaking while cries rang out from all directions—I was scared. If this continued on, then Izek… Izek would…
“What the hell are you doing?!” An unexpected voice, loud and panicked, blared out just as mine did.
The light of blue divinity waned as Izek’s royal purple seeped through the cracks, another collision exploding and echoing through the room and shattering the mirrors around us.
The blast not only blinded me, but also knocked me down to the ground. I tried to break the fall with my arms, but the sting from the shards still embedded in my flesh had me gasping for air.
“Stop it, you fool! He’s the son of the Holy Father! Stop!” My father-in-law sounded desperate and frantic, and he raced past me and towards his son, getting between the two men destroying the room.
I understood his desperation. I had been trying to do the same.
Powerful people from powerful families from every corner of the continent were all gathered here. It didn’t matter if Izek was the strongest knight in the North and the soon-to-be King of Britannia. If he killed the Holy Pope’s firstborn son and the future governor of Romagna right here…
The room lit up one last time, the light turning my vision white, and then it all ebbed away. Despite that, the area was still vibrating and the pressure in the air had barely diminished. I was thrown off balance and noise was still lingering in my ears. I tried to blink everything away and find Izek amidst all of this chaos, but Paladins were in front of me, blocking my sight.
I almost fell back again while trying to get up, my hands slipping on the floor because of the blood, but someone rushed in from behind and pulled me into a hug.
I was greeted with Ellenia’s horror-struck face. Her fingers shook as she swept my bangs away from my face. Over her shoulder, I could see an entire wall stripped bare of mirrors, all of them shattered and broken on the ground.
“E-Ellen… I-Iz, Izek…” I tried to find him, but I couldn’t see him through the tears.
I could barely hold my upper body up and I winced in pain, trying to sit upright. Ellenia sat behind me and I had to rely on her to help me up. She tried to cover my eyes, but I resisted.
The Paladins in the room were raising their voices, calling out to my husband and asking where the duke went.
I looked around to try and figure out what was going on. I couldn’t find the Duke of Omerta nor Cesare anywhere.
Instead, I was able to locate my husband. He shoved his fellow knights to the side and staggered and swayed, his eyes feral and a snarl on his face. Then, all of a sudden, he rushed forward as his focus locked in on something.
I blinked my eyes and then he was gone. A loud bang reverberated through the room, as if something had been slammed against the wall, so I turned to look to the opposite side. Izek was holding Lorenzo by the neck and was strangling him.
I was still shaking. My whole body was vibrating.
I didn’t know whether it was me who was trembling or whether it was Ellenia at my back. I did know, however, that this wasn’t just trembling from fear, but the pressure in the air pushing down on us because of divinity raging and getting out of control.
I shrugged off Ellenia’s arms still wrapped around me and mustered up all the strength I didn’t really have. Just like Izek had done earlier, I shoved through all of the Paladins standing between us and desperately grabbed his hard shoulder, turning him around and off the young boy.
The world seemed to slow down and everything else faded away. There was no one in the room but me and him. I hadn’t been this close to him in two days, but it felt more like it had been two years.
His eyes were quivering and his chest was heaving. Sweat was dripping down the sides of his face and his whole body was tense. He looked like a wild beast, ready to strike. But I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t afraid of him.
I had missed him.
His eyes slowly regained focus and he took deep breaths before shuddering, reeling in his divinity, and the heavy air crushing us gradually eased up.
He lifted a trembling hand to my cheek, his face filled with agony and grief, and he tenderly stroked the blood and tears away. His soft touch made more tears well up. He caressed me like I was made of glass.
This quiet moment in time didn’t last long, because chaos like none of us had ever seen before erupted from outside.
A dragon’s roar rang loud.
The whole city of Elendale was in chaos because of that damned Cesare.
The whole room shook as the roar of a dragon echoed through the air. It was much worse than the earlier clash of divinities.
Before anyone could react, palace guards rushed through the door, all of them in a frenzy and their faces laced with panic.
“Knights of Longinus, there is an emergency!”
“Monsters have breached the city! Not only that, but the Frost Dragon has returned and is attacking the town!”
“The commander has ordered every knight to gather immediately!”
Urgent footsteps, cries, screams, swears, and more sounds of chaos came from outside and the knights rushed out of the room straight away, not even giving me the time to blink.
While everyone was in an uproar, hurrying out into the hall and shouting things I didn’t understand, the hand that had been caressing me pushed me away and into someone else’s arms.
“Please, Ellen, take care of her.” Izek’s voice remained calm despite the unfolding disaster. “Andymion, take them someplace safe and protect them.”
I couldn’t even register the robe being draped around my shoulders as the young boy came close. His golden eyes were distraught and he looked particularly shaken.
“My Lady, I… We…” I understood what he tried to say.
“We need to hurry.” Ellenia, quickly cutting in, put her arms around me and fastened the robe more securely. She was almost hugging me and urged me to start moving.
Izek was already out of the door.
He had been battling monsters all day and yesterday too, and then almost died fighting Cesare, and now he was off to battle monsters again? He hadn’t even changed out of the armor he had been wearing since this morning!
“Iz, no! You aren’t…!”
He had to be exhausted. He wasn’t in his usual state. Even if Cesare had been no match for Izek, he had to have drained him from his divinity all the same. The fight earlier with Cardinal Richie must have taken so much out of him as well…
Regardless of the fact that he was the main character of this world, he wouldn’t be fine.
I ran after him, trying to call out, trying to stop him, but he was already so far away. He was at the end of the line of knights disappearing around the corner on the other side of the hall.
Another dragon’s roar echoed through the walls and the sounds of panic became worse. The distance between us grew wider.
Just before he vanished from my sight, he turned around and we locked eyes.
It only lasted for a moment before he moved again, and then he was gone.
I felt Ellenia wrapping her arms around me, hastily pushing me in a different direction. Freya’s face passed me by. She was stiff and she was pale, as if she had seen a ghost. She couldn’t look me in the eyes.
I understood why. Everyone else that had seen it had the same look.
“Angvan Palace is closed off! Everyone, follow us to safety!”
The palace guards leading us down the hall were all rigid, their moves constrained and unnatural. Despite being Northerners, this situation of the heart of the capital being attacked by monsters and a dragon was something that was unprecedented. Tensions were running high, especially since it was happening during the middle of the festival of the Gladiatorial Match, with people from all over the continent attending.
Because of that, foreigners not from northern countries, who had presumably never encountered a monster before, were hysterical and causing more mayhem, making the situation worse.
In no time at all, the festival had turned into a complete disaster.
Andymion and Ellenia were on both sides of me, their hands on my back and leading me to follow the guards. I thought that they were being too much, acting like I was a child that had to be carried, but my vision was fading in and out and my consciousness was going back and forth. I couldn’t figure out for how long we had been walking already.
The distant murmurs of havoc played in my ears like a lullaby, and I tried to hold on to my consciousness, but it kept slipping away from me.
“I’m sorry, Ruby,” Ellenia’s brittle voice rang out. She sounded heartbroken. “I’m so sorry.”
“I should’ve known…” I saw her lips quiver as she bowed her head.
What was she talking about? She had nothing to apologize for.
I barely had the strength to hold on to her, but I was desperate. “S-Stop, please stop.”
Perhaps they sensed my distress, because our steps, trailing behind the group of people following the palace guards, immediately came to a halt.
I drew in a long breath and clutched her hand. “You have to let me go, I have to—”
“You can’t do that, My Lady.”
As if he knew what I was about to say, Andymion got in front of me and squared his shoulders. He looked like a knight in this moment, and not a boy.
“The situation is out of control. Traces of mana stones have been found all over the city. That means that the monsters have been possessed by the summoning magic of the stone, so they have an unquenchable thirst for blood now and they won’t be easily stopped. Especially the Frost Dragon, so no matter what you do—”
“I’m the only one who can do it! You know that!”
“But, My Lady!”
“What are you two talking about?” Ellenia, having had enough of this vague dialogue, turned her sharp gaze towards Andymion.
The boy faltered and swallowed nervously, shifting his eyes to me. “That… My Lady, I’m sorry.”
“Ellen, I will explain everything to you later,” I faced her and her hand fell away. I didn’t have time. “But I have to go somewhere, right now.”
“That can’t happen. You can’t go. What are you even planning on doing in this kind of situation?”
She let out a harsh breath, her face contorted and was drained of all color. The sadness clouded in her eyes was something I had to figure out later. Right now, the clock was ticking and time was running out.
I was the only one. I was the only one who could stop this catastrophe.
“My brother planned this.”
“What?” Ellenia whispered.
“He’s probably already boarded a ship and left Elendale by now, but regardless of that, it’s still my brother who caused all of this. So I’m also responsible for what he has done.”
“You’re not responsible at all, Ruby, what are you even saying…”
“You apologized to me, so if you really mean it, then please take me to Izek. You’ll understand once you see it for yourself. You’ll understand everything, Ellen, please.”
The night we became a real married couple, my husband asked me to tell him what I wished for. I told him back then that I wanted to stay alongside him together with my monster friends.
Should I not have done that?
Weeks before the start of the festival, all of the Paladins had been working day and night to capture monsters to put them in the Match. Izek had told me that he tried to prevent anyone from catching the Frost Dragon and Popo and Griffin and my other friends.
He did that, a holy Paladin, knowing that conspiring with monsters was one of the greatest taboos he could ever commit, all for me. And now he had to fight them, while he had tried so hard to protect them. I couldn’t stand the thought.
Not only that, but he had also been fighting nonstop for the past two days. Never mind the fact that these last few weeks had been so hectic for my workaholic husband, the fight with Cesare had to have burned him out. There was no way that Izek could fight a bloodthirsty dragon right now and get out of it unscathed.
So I had to go, for him.
“Please, Ellen, Andymion. If he dies… If he dies, I won’t be able to live any longer.”
Sounds of the disaster unfolding outside filled and echoed through the empty corridor.
A line appeared between Ellenia’s brows and she squinted her eyes at me, pursing and biting her lips. She looked at Andymion for a second, then.
The moment that passed felt like an eternity, even though it had only been a few seconds.
The Frost Dragon, who had been in hiding ever since its first appearance and had been possessed by the magic of a mana stone, soared high into the sky and immediately went for Angvan Palace.
The monsters that had breached the city walls and were attacking the streets were just a bunch of sh*tty cannon fodder that went down easily. The biggest problem, however, was the appearance of the top predator, the king of all monsters, a dragon. Dragons had the ability to make their lessers go into delirium, and considering that the demons had already been possessed by the magic of a mana stone, their madness became even worse.
In an emergency situation like this, no matter how superordinate the Paladins of the Knights of Longinus were, the orders of the Knight Commander always came first.
However, the minority elite of the Knights of Longinus, the six men who had been committing many sins and had been hiding many secrets, were following the champion of the Gladiatorial Match without any objections. In other words, they were recklessly disobeying the orders of the commander.
“It’s in the direction of the Moon Tower. Ivan, the team’s with me, you lead the rest to block off the entire area and then come back. Don’t let anyone in except our knights and the palace guards.”
“Understood. Hey, all of you! Follow me, we’re going this way!” Ivan, running after Izek and cutting through the monsters coming up from all sides, yelled at the rest of the Paladins behind him. “Where did that b*stard Galar go, huh? Where is he?”
The Paladins of the Knights of Longinus, those that were not in the minority elite of the order, were baffled. Didn’t the Knight Commander order the Paladins to regroup with the clergy and the other knights before heading to the town square? They had been obediently following behind their captain and the elites but these new orders didn’t make any sense.
No one wanted to say it, but not even with the combined efforts of the Knights of Longinus, the Knights of the Temple, the clergy and the palace and city guards could this situation be dealt with swiftly. They were all expecting the number of casualties to be in the hundreds, maybe even thousands.
The captain’s new instructions were so puzzling that the Paladins were wondering if Lord Izek had received separate orders from the Knight Commander or maybe even the king before they’d all headed out into the city. But when would the captain have had the time to chat privately with the commander or the king when they had been all hurrying to depart and save Elendale?
Camu, seeing the confusion on everyone’s faces, roared out, “The commander gave us this order!”
The Knights of Longinus had no time to be bickering with each other, anyway. More demons than they had ever seen before were charging right at them.
Ed./N: Okay for anyone that is confused (because I for sure was lol), I’ll explain all of these knight orders, etc.
The Knight Commander — Mr. Top Dog, the boss of all knights, you can compare the guy to a military general. We met him in chapter 42.
Knights of Longinus — these guys are specifically called Paladins, because they are the ones that deal with monsters and the like and have divinity. The entire world has Paladins since monsters are everywhere (but they’re mostly in northern countries, much less so in southern countries like Romagna), but the order of Paladins in the country of Britannia specifically is called Knights of Longinus. The terms “Paladin” and “knight” are used interchangeably for them.
Minority elite of the Knights of Longinus — they are six guys who are, you guessed it, the top six of the order. The members are Izek, Ivan, Galar (Andymion’s big bro and has red hair), Camu (has blue hair), Ruve (has an eyepatch, we met him in chapter 91), and an unnamed Paladin (I could literally SWEAR that his name was Ezekiel, but I backtracked on all the chapters and I couldn’t find him anywhere wtf. Did I make him up? Am I deluding myself? Did I turn into Ruby and start hallucinating? Idk we’ll see in the future chapters I guess, but right now I headcanon him as being named Ezekiel <3)
Captain of the Knights of Longinus — Izek, Mr. Has-it-all
Knights of the Temple — I was so tempted to call them the Knights Templar, but I backed down cuz it didn’t make sense for them to be in a country that’s supposed to be fantasy Britain lmao. They’re priests that are also knights and belong to the Temple.
Knights — just knights :3 They haven’t been mentioned to possess divinity (which is used when fighting monsters).
Palace/city guards — soldiers that are tasked to specifically guard one place, ergo the name.
Andymion — a squire, which is an apprentice knight who trains under the guidance of a senior. He’s not yet an official knight. Technically, he’s Izek’s kouhai :3
Divinity — this world’s “magic”. It is used when exorcising and fighting monsters. A Paladin must have divinity, but having divinity doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a Paladin (think of Cesare who has divinity, but is a cardinal instead of a Paladin. Dead Cardinal Richie too).
P.S. Editing this chapter fried my brain fr fr I don’t understand how I still have brain cells left tbh.