[Nameless Hero - Chapter 8]
As the Princess handed down her verdict, the light binding the hero and the Princess turned black, darker than the pits of depression and despair. Such what the sheer depth of such heartless cold that now formed the bond between these two people. As if their hostile feelings towards one another had manifested, tainting the light that once shone between them.
“I deem you guilty, a manifestation of darkness who seeks the harm and utter destruction of light itself. Lower than any life form, doomed to perish within the darkness you so hoped to spread.
Your only redemption shall be to claw your own path through the darkness and into the light.
None have ever done so, and you shall find yourself left within the abyss long after your death upon this plane.”
The princess was beyond angry, to the point where she had actually grown painfully calm. As if all of her emotions were slowly burning away. Her desire to harm the one before her had almost manifested in the physical plane.
But, what the Princess couldn’t help but feel… was a sense of hesitation.
A single, faint question that continued to appear, over and over again within the corners of her mind. As if whispering that she was walking into a trap, her senses began to sharpen as if a threat to her life were coming about. What was the cause, she could only look towards the women with a faint smile looking back at her silently. Not a shred of fear on her face.
Then she began to ponder back to what had occurred. The Princess wasn’t foolish, she had attained the position of heir by birth right, sure, but she has held it all these years through her capabilities. She knew how to handle herself and manage a realm, aiding her aging and near infirm father manage the realm. While her actions were sometimes deemed arbitrary by the nobles, each of her forceful actions furthered the authority of the Royal Family, weakening the threat of the noble’s who constantly sought to gain further power.
Why… why was this women constantly provoking her… if she had just given due respect, then she, the First Princess of the Kremor Kingdom, would have forgiven the intrusion by now. If only she showed some respect during this trial, then these problems would have been resolved and she would have been let go, it was only a formality anyway. They would have given her suitable life expenses and a place to stay, if what she said was truthful, then they would certainly need her help one day. Why risk her own life by taunting her…
No… how was she so easily able to taunt her… her emotions were being brought out as if being played on an instrument… what was her goal…. why would she….
Just as the Princess was pondering the situation for the first time in her calmed form, the hero spoke once again, shattering the whispers and silence of the room after the verdict.
“Ah, so you chose total defeat in the end huh?
Well, that’s fine all the same.
Oh, and just so you know, I might have overheard your little plan with the King yesterday.
‘Leave it to me, i’ll silence her and take care of you, just like always’
How cute of you to think you could, the second you thought I was gone you showed the Royal Family’s true nature. Sorry, I waited outside the door for a moment to look through my bag.
Woops, you gave me complete warning to expect your Royal foul play, thus I have been seeking out knowledge to survive you and move on. Well, even if I didn’t hear you say it, given all of the hero stories i’ve heard and read about, the fact that my entrance started like that basically was screaming that the Royals would make themselves my enemies with the nobles becoming figures that would use me.
I don’t like peasant wars though, so I don’t figure i’ll be joining any of the three standard factions, you Royals can be as tyrannical as you want as long as you leave me alone after this. Oh, and what was that about if I win the fight, the Royal’s life falls into my hands?”
The faint smile on the hero’s face turned into the dark crescent.
A chill was sent down the Princess’s spine. This women had the wrong from the very start! She wasn’t aiming to kill her at all, she was aiming to prevent her from gathering her influence amongst the nobles and causing her Royal Family trouble. Why else would she have suddenly intruded on her coming of age ceremony…
As she thought that, the Princess’s mind once more went back to the stories that the women had been telling. Heroes from another world, mighty quests against evil, tearing down tyranny. They were all far too unrealistic for her to believe as true, yet she still couldn’t shrug a feeling as if she was missing something.
At this point, she realised that she had been playing right into the hero’s hands. With that last comment, it made it obvious that the women had decided to go after her, the First Princess.
Aside from that, this also meant that Sir Dorian and Lord Isaac had given her instruction on how to deal with the Royal Family’s formalities. No, that certainly doesn’t matter at this point. Who was she going to choose to fight.
Someone that would serve her well, preferably someone that would be able to remove this plight from her heart. Once she was dead, there would no longer be any point in worrying about it, she had already deemed her guilty. Not a single person had ever survived being marked as guilty, it was a death sentence.
Who to choose… perhaps someone that the women would hesitate against… ah… that is right….
At this moment, the Princess remembered the time where the hero had entered the dining room with her arms locked around Gregory… her Gregory… but no, now wasn’t time for such thoughts, she’d have Gregory do it. But even better yet, she’d use this chance to build him up and take him for herself. The glory for being the Royal Family’s champion would allow her to finally, finally make him hers…
“My champion shall be Sir Gregory, personal Royal Knight and retainer of the First Princess Sophia of the Kremor kingdom.”
In this moment, both the hero and Gregory were caught off guard. For the nobles and the Royal Family, the choice was rather obvious. Sir Gregory had long since been in the Princess’s favor, since they were quite young in fact. In a few years time when she took the throne from her father, there was a good chance that she would finally be able to silence those who interfered and marry with Gregory. So, her giving the glory of being the Light’s champion, or rather, the Royal Family’s representative, to Sir Gregory was a rather obvious choice.
Besides that point, Sir Gregory happened to be one of the Kremor Kingdom’s greatest knights, who could hope for a better champion than him, a symbol of virtue and skill.
These opinions began to waver slightly as they saw Sir Gregory’s hesitation, his hands slightly shaking. Sir Gregory had both his loyalty to his Princess and his current enticement by the hero’s actions. The hero was like his Spring breeze, blowing across the land, having seen so many things and having such a depth of life experience. What she would be capable of to please him in various ways made him hesitate on the thought of killing such a person. She would have made a wonderful mistress whenever the Princess was busy and he couldn’t please himself with her body. He knew full well he would have the Princess, but was constantly being denied by those self entitled nobles.
He had to hold off on pressuring the Princess into giving herself to him in case it ever got out. If that happened, the crime for taking a Princess without marriage was castration… Regardless though, once she became Queen, he’d be able to convince her to once again abuse her authority for him and take him as her King. Once he was there, he’d be able to slowly turn her into his pleasure source rather than a wife, such a beauty would only be worth that much. She was so easily manipulated and he was a genius. Why would he not deserve to be the King. Once they got older and the Princess was no longer attractive, he’d have her die and take someone new, perhaps one of the younger Princesses. After all, he would be King, and he would forge a new Royal Family after his own name.
There was, one other thing that was causing him to worry… It was that mysterious power that the women had displayed earlier that had him worried. To be able to match his speed at the sword with such petite arms, to be able to lift such a heavy stone without her arms even twitching, so many variables that he couldn’t process. His warrior instincts had begun to surge after he was chosen as the Royal Family’s champion, they were warning him that his opponent was dangerous.
But, before he even finished thinking, the Princess spoke again, as if sensing his hesitation.
“Sir Gregory, I am sure that you have heard of the Amalren family’s recent demise. The sole heir to the entire family perishing at the hands of rabble as he was making his way over to attend this very ceremony. With him the last of the family has died out. As such, the whole of the Barony of Amal and the City of Ren have been left without rightful governing.
I’m sure there would be no denial of one successful in sacred battle as a suitable representative of light. Surely such a reward would only be warranted.”
At this notion, even the elderly nobles and those who had been silent began to hastily speak to one another. The noise generated from such an event grew to a dull roar. The Princess was actually going to bestow a High Noble title with the most valuable territory outside of the Royal Demesne to her favorite knight!
While he was still of the noble class, his family was a low level aristocratic family that only rose to power form merchants just two generations prior to him! To suggest raising such a person to such a position was outrageous…
“Of course, there would be the matter of your family’s status.
I’m sure there would be several disgruntled individuals in regards to your short lineage. Well, as you may have heard, I just so happened to have recently come of age, yet I have no betrothed nor suitor. Certainly a victorious knight could fill this role for his Princess.”
At this mention, even the Royal Family had broken out into an intense discussion. While no one could directly say anything against this development, they certainly were in shock. She was the First Princess and Heir apparent to the Kremor Kingdom!
It was known since she was just five years old that she had developed feelings for Gregory, but his status had allowed the nobles to constantly interfere to keep the knight at a distance. Mostly for their sake, they would be able to pressure the weakening king to marry her into one of the main houses. Many of the unmarried noblemen had always been watching such a woman with the eyes of a predator.
That very Princess had just bypassed them all in one foul swoop!
Using the glory that he would gain from his victory in this trial, she would elevate him to a higher noble position, then marrying him into Royal Blood to give him legitimacy and secure his titles. It was her intent to marry Sir Gregory using this ceremony all along!
While this was not the case, the Princess certainly was not going to waste the opportunity to unite herself with her beloved.
She was also going to be able to expand the Royal Family’s influence once more, and there was not a single legal way for the nobles to stop her this time.
It was then that their attention went towards the victim of this situation. The very woman who had since the beginning, had the gall to provoke the First Princess, Royal Family, and nobles alike. That very woman… was smiling contently.. that frightening women… just where did all of that confidence come from… perhaps… was any of those stories she was telling true…?
Then the hero spoke.
“Princess, by chance do you see me as some one of those weak types that hesitates to kill a pretty face?
Gregory dear, I know you’re quite tempted with that land and the pretty flesh being offered to you, but if you take her up on it, you’ll die you know.
I’m not in the merciful mood, though I suppose even if I was, there wouldn’t be any real way to keep you alive given the rules. I’d be inclined to break them if I was in a better mood and knew what the hell this beam was.
If my life is in danger from it, it would just be safer to ask you to die, you understand right?”
Everything about her had become… cold… as if everything that gave her life warmth earlier had just been an illusion. To change the very air about her so quickly…
As she was now, the hero’s current state of mind had long since gone into survival mode. During her youth, she had been involved in several of her nation’s annexation maneuvers to bring underdeveloped nations into their nation. Of course it was for the sake of offering them full medical, technological, and financial support, but nonetheless the native populations would resist and soldiers would be sent to remove the malcontents. At the age of just 13, she had snuck into her province’s militia due to her height and participated in three annexations before she was caught and sent back home.
Even though most conflicts only resulted in minimal bloodshed with a majority of the enemy surrendering due to superior tactics, there was still the death and violence of the battle field. Such a scene was exposed to such a young girl who had volunteered out of a near blind devotion caused by youthful inexperience. Of course, with age she had grown past a blind devotion, but she still could never refute the perfect track record of her nation’s leader and would have gladly served in the military during the invasion had she not been in the continent that was hit while visiting family.
While the current hero is nothing more than a college student in her early twenties, she has had both combat experience as well as a sense of military discipline in a fight.
One could say that the true reason for her mental fatigue was due to the scene of millions of lives being destroyed. Mountains of bodies, the melted bodies of children splattered against walls, cities in ruin, friends and relatives slaughtered before her very eyes. One could truly wonder about her mental stability at this moment for sure.
Regardless of how stable she was, right before her very eyes was a chance to vent some stress. She had purposefully instigated the Princess into voting guilty. Since she was the heir, there was no point in provoking the nobles, they would simply side with whatever the Princess said. They didn’t seem to have too much influence, so there wasn’t a need to win them over or make enemies with them. Sure the nobles could speak at any time to interject, but who would risk their little authority over a pointless case. Knowing this, the hero put all of her effort into poking the soft spots in the Princess’s pride.
As for Sir Gregory, he was still shaking, but now he had a small smile on his face. Instead of being worried about the fight, he was excited. His dreams and plans were finally about to come true. All he had to do was kill a single girl to achieve everything.
From an early age, he had dreamed of rising up in the world, beyond the arrogant nobles who mocked him and his family. For this purpose, he had been slowly courting the Princess’s affections for more than a decade to the point where she was completely in her hands. To him, any women could be won over if it was him who was after her, with him winning the hearts of the future queen, he had no reason to doubt these misconceptions.
The Princess herself was, at heart, a rather kind and diligent person, but over time Gregory had manipulated her during her youth. Pushing her towards rash decisions and her wrath rather than patience and being attentive to others. To show her full anger towards everyone who was lower than her in status to show them where they stood. Every time that the Princess showed a virtue that would lead her to resisting his control over her, Gregory would slowly contain it, isolating her further. No one else would be allowed near his toy besides him.
Now, finally he had the chance to rise above those petty nobles, and all he had to do was kill that whore of a women!
Since the moment he was assigned to guide her around she had been all over him. Since she was just as, if not more pleasing to the eyes than even the Princess, he had allowed her to play around and grow attached. If the Princess was his ticket to authority, then this one would have been the solution to all of his pent up lust and desire, a far more mature toy, no, a real woman that he would be able to continue to use. He had planned to get her somewhere private previously so he could have his way with her, sadly she was always being preoccupied with various other people. With how she had behaved, he had thought that she would have specifically been after him in the first place, so there would have been no reason to hold back, she wouldn’t have resisted anyways. She was just a power hungry whore that wanted to bed various influential people after all. Though he still didn’t know why she resisted his subtle advance earlier this morning when he came to wake her up. Perhaps she just wasn’t a morning person.
Well, no matter in the end, he just had to not damage the outside and use her while she was still fresh. He’d just have to bribe a single servant to deliver the still warm corpse to a room where he’d use it until he was satisfied. She’d still taste the same if he used her before she got cold, no different than food really. No one would care even if word got out, since she was branded a representative of darkness, there wouldn’t be anyone who would see the corpse as a human being.
All he had to do now was just disarm that women and break her neck, that way the body would still be intact. Who cares about that trick that she was using before, she might be a bit stronger than she looks, but he was one of the best fighters in the entire Kremor Kingdom, there was no way a petite woman could hold up in a fight against such a man as him. Women were just toys to be flaunted and used by men as they see fit. If a woman has money or influence, catch and use them until they run out.
Just as Gregory was thinking about how to use his new found influence and power, the hero began to speak again.
“Hey Gregory, what’s with the smiles? I know you just got a marriage invitation but-”
Just as she was about to say something, the hero took another look at Gregory. It was then that she saw him in a different light, something was off about him. She had found him fun to play with previously, thinking that how we was quite weak for her was amusing. But… now, there was just something off. It was disturbing to her and she wasn’t quite sure why. One could perhaps call it an instinct that a woman has when sensing a person’s malicious intentions. When she got this feeling, she stopped wanting to poke fun at Gregory, the little remaining silliness in her nature had gone quiet.
“Jeze, what the hell…
Alright, Gregory, hurry up and get yourself ready, we’re fighting here and now. I’m not waiting for some knife to stab me in the back, since both contestants are here and ready, we’ll start here once you’re good to go.
Hmmm, one of you knights toss me your sword.”
When she said this the people in the room were puzzled.
Was she seriously wanting to fight in the middle of the Throne room?
The nobles and Royal Family members were confused if she was just making another remark or not, but once they saw her expression, they knew she was serious. They couldn’t exactly speak out either as it is the accused who choses the time and place for their final battle. Well, it wasn’t a sure thing, but there had never been any accused who had ever survived before.
Without anyone saying a word, the hero walked up to one of the Royal knights and took their sword. He had protested at first, but yielded to her unwavering gaze, there was something intimidating about her seemingly bottomless confidence.
The weaker willed knights that gained their positions because of their parent’s lineages would never be able to face someone like the hero. They had no real life experience outside of luxury, so when faced with such a person, their instincts cause their body and mind to freeze.
Taking the blade, the hero walked back to where she was, at which point she seemed to remember something and asked for a servant girl to come help her prepare. A minute later a medium sized woman entered the royal hall, her attire was far more elegant than that of one of the normal servants within the castle.
As it would just so happen, the women was the head maid of the castle.
Upon inquiring how she could be of service to the hero, she was met with,
“Ah, thanks for the help, it’s rather hard to imagine fighting in this thing, so could you help me take off this dress?
Oh… don’t worry, I have something on underneath, i’m not planning on fighting bare. Though I do suppose if I were to consider the norms from a few thousand years ago, it will still be a bit indecent, though I really can’t be asked to bother. If i’m going to be forced to actually fight in some medieval duel to the death, i’m going to chose how i’m going to fight it.
There’s a metal tag of sorts on the center of the back, just pull it down if you would. I would have asked someone here to do it, but they’d probably get some funny ideas. Oh jeze, there are those looks already, grow up you children!”
The head maid quickly went about finding the metal zipper in the back, she was curious as to what it would do and was surprised to see it part the dress as she pulled it down. The zipper went halfway down the back, stopping just above the waist. After the zipper went down, the hero used her one hand to push the dress off, alternating which hand held the sword to get her arms out of it. As the dress went down, it was revealed what was underneath. From her shoulders down to the upper abdominal muscles was a white silk bandage, tightly wound as to press her figure while being rather modest in its wrapping. If one were to compare it to a piece of clothing, it would be similar to a tank top that exposed most of her stomach region. On her waist was a pair of form fitting white tights that went down to half of her thighs. In modern sense, what she had on would still be rather suggestive, though compared to some choices in under attire, it was still in a modest sense that would pass as sleepwear.
As for the reason why the hero had her chest bandaged rather than normal undergarments, it was simply a matter of preference more so than anything else. To her, what needed to be covered was covered while she remained comfortable. As such she had several different colored lengths of silk for such use. The cost of them was rather expensive, though they had lasted her many years and were quite durable.
After handing the head maid the dress, the hero took off her shoes and placed them into her bag. Once they were removed, the bag was also entrusted to the head maid.
As if a weight was lifted, the hero began to stretch and make various bizarre movements. To the onlookers, it was an odd sight, though to the hero, it was just a simple warm up. Various clicking and popping sounds came from the hero’s body as she warmed up.
Then she took a stance and began what almost looked like a dance. Her movements were so clear and crisp, yet almost blindingly fast. Her blade danced all around her with a clear grace as her footwork maintained a fluid motion. As she turned, she used her own momentum to continually increase the speed, and eventually her blade’s movements began to blur with the speed. With a jolting motion, the hero reversed her fluid motion, taking a spiral into the air, her blade shooting straight out as if an extension to her arm as she moved. Her movements had grown so fast that most of the onlookers could only see a motion blur by this point, the beauty of the dance as she majestically moved with her blade as if they were one in the same. A perfect unity between the weapon and master.
As if reaching an end to the dance, the hero once more stood on two feet with sword resting in hand. To some of the male nobles in the seats, they felt a certain level of regret that the dance had stopped, they wished they could remain entranced by it just a while longer.
On Sir Gregory’s face there was only surprise, but deep down there was a small flicker of fear.
“What, surely you didn’t think I was helpless with a sword this whole time, did you ‘SIR’ Gregory?
Come now, the fight for your survival begins.”
With a smile on her face and her expression completely calm, the hero began to walk towards Sir Gregory, an obvious flickering of bloodlust mixed into the air.
[Nameless Hero - Chapter 8 END]