12 The Lion
After a ritual that lasted about an hour, Drake felt refreshed. The chant calmed his spirit, while the blood runes drawn on his body replenished his confidence in his own strength. Every time he came in this place, his mind would feel cleared. When he was worried about his father or his mother, he would often come here in his childhood. It truly lived up to the name of 'Sanctuary'.
Drake picked his armour again, and started to pet the wolves who were now used to his presence. He had seen them grow up. When the Druid took them in, he received heavy criticism from the people and from fellow Druids. There were 8 druids, but most of them were either hermits, or healers. They might be druids, but they still hated wild beasts.
After all, wolves ate lambs and sometimes attacked humans. It wasn't surprising for hunters to lose their lives after mistakenly venturing into a wolf den. The Moonlight Territory was pretty peaceful. The bandits were nowhere to be seen after the Viscount had purged them, and besides the barbarians, there were no 'true enemies' to hate.
Hence, most of the unnatural deaths came from wild beasts and diseases. And within the Moonlight territory, there were many forests, hence many wolves.
Drake was about to leave, when someone attacked him. A dagger was aimed at his heart, showing clear knowledge of a human's anatomy. But Drake was a knight. Though surprised at his opponent's strength, he gripped her throat after disarming her.
She was a young apprentice, no older than 13. Yet, her strength had already reached 1.2 point, a truly surprising value! He didn't know whether she was a knight trainee, or some kind of lady, but she had a grace that was difficult to explain.
After taking a closer look to her attire, Drake found out that she had medallion, proof of her apprenticeship in the order.
"What's the meaning of this, Gallan?", Drake said in a cold voice.
It might have been harmless, but the girl still tried to kill him.
"I apologize, my lord. She is…my disciple. I have taken her as a student five years ago, after treating her. She was not sick. She had been starved."
"Indeed. You killed the one who saved her from slavery. Jonas, that is. I am not trying to justify her act, I am just asking for leniency, my lord."
Drake loosened the grip around the young girl's throat, while warning her in a very cold voice: "Never, ever do that again, girl. Or else you see the lands of the dead, believe me. Be sure to thank your mentor, he is a good man, and a good man doesn't deserve grief"
Drake then headed out after donating a dozen gold coins to the Order.
The Order was vital to Blackwater. They served as healer, but as charity as well. There were no slums in the city. There was no benefit in having lowlife scum in a city. After all, those who grew up in the wrong street would often end up criminals. Hence, Drake's grandfather decided to donate part of his money to the order, which would help the poor and feed the hungry.
It wasn��t paradise for them, the conditions were very tough for the poor commoners, but it was endurable. No one would starve to death, at least.
"Use this gold for a good cause, Gallan."
"As always, my lord."
Meanwhile, a fight was taking place in the Barbarian Mountain Range. With a peak culminating at 8 kilometres of altitude, and rocks that seemed to go on for kilometres, the Viscount and his army was weakening. And yet, when they managed to locate the Barbarian's King hideout, the moral instantly returned to its peak.
Although there was little oxygen in the mountain, the Viscount and the Dark Legion was unaffected. Their training made sure of that.
When they entered the Bone Village, as it was called, the Viscount felt fear for the first time of his life. The Barbarian King had asked for a duel. If he won, they would stand down, and stay put for a generation.
The tradition had been going on for generations now. His father had won against the previous barbarian king, like his grandfather, and his great grandfather before him. It was finally his turn. It was a sacred task, the most important task of the Moonlight Household.
The Barbarian King might not have half the skills of a regular knight, but it could take on a Knight without sustaining many injuries. This Barbarian King was especially dangerous.
'I can feel his aura as a Grand Knight…To think that the rumours were true…'
"Are you afraid?", Kalan, the assassin knight next to him whispered in his ears.
"Of course I am!", the Viscount answered in a hurry. Who wouldn't be?
The Barbarian King was huge, being about 2m50 tall. His hands seemed big enough to crush skulls, and his bone armour made him scarier than a Yaksha.
"Good! It means you're not stupid", Kalan laughed.
The Viscount analysed the situation. Although the odds were against him, the Killing technique passed down by the ancestor of the Moonlight Family, Arclight Chop, was enough to turn the tides of the combat if it landed accurately.
The Viscount was not of afraid of dying. He never was. His father was very harsh against him in his childhood, enough to push him into near-death situations to make him stronger, to make him worthy of inheriting the household. And it made him the man he was today. Meeting Freya, the Queen of the Lunar elves, changed him to his core. He became more loving, and unlike his father's beliefs, this love became his power.
A man doesn't grow strong because of toughness. He becomes strong because if he falls, the people he loves and protects fall along with him. And a knight shall not flatter.
Be it Freya or his sons, the Viscount couldn't imagine the world without them. His separation with Arthur was especially harsh, but he knew he was in good hands, in his best friend's hands. Even Frederick, a good-for-nothing child who fooled around with girls and alcohol, was worth fighting for with his life on the line.
"If I fall today, tell my son I am sorry for not keeping my promise."
"That I would come back safely."
The words were simple, yet full of meanings. The Viscount focused on his fight. He drew his sword, which started to glow in a shining blue light. It was incomparable with Drake's dim light when he practiced the very same technique.
The Viscount didn't plan on giving the Barbarian King the chance to reveal his so-called magic. He planned to end it all with one mighty strike.
The Dark Legion was chanting the Moonlight War Cry, which was also the family's motto: "GROW STRONG IN HONOUR".
As for the savages, they were laughing, mocking the man wearing metal on his shoulders.
However, their faces turned sour upon seeing the following scene.
The Viscount had used the Knight Killing technique while using a Secret Technique he picked up from a war veteran that used to be his mentor. It was a technique that forcefully ignited internal energy in one's body, increasing strength dramatically. However, the backlash of this incomplete technique was huge: months of recovery, pain and a risk of losing sanity in the process.
Using it also caused his mind to be filled with killing intent. If he didn't have such a strong will, he wouldn't be able to keep his humanity. But he had his family. It was a strength that kept him sane.
If Drake was here, he would be shocked to see that this technique allowed his father to reach the realm of Grand Knight when strictly speaking about sheer attributes. In fact, comparing the Viscount and the Barbarian King in terms of strength would only lead to shock. The two of them had similar, yet unimaginably high strength: 9 points each.
However, the Viscount possessed a knight Killing technique. As if he teleported, the Viscount appeared right in front of the barbarian in a fraction of a second. The Barbarian King, feeling the incoming danger, ignited his sword and blasted his enemy.
A huge explosion deafened everyone.
When the explosion fumes disappeared, everyone was shocked.
The Barbarian King had been halved in two parts, while the Viscount's armour was in a ruin, his body showing charred skin. However, he had won. He had won the duel in a matter of second, though he was no longer capable of lifting a finger. The backlash was beginning to show its fearsomeness.
The savages, shocked and fearful, began to grief the loss of their leaders. The duel was not intended to end with the death of either of the two leaders. But the Viscount couldn't bear to see barbarians occasionally raiding villages on his territory when the times were difficult. He couldn't bear to hear, every so often, the attacks on merchants. He couldn't bear to hear that his wife's village had been attacked by a barbarian tribe.
Hence, he cut down the barbarian king, and took their heirloom: an enchanted weapon. He wasn't blessed by the gods or something like that. The barbarian King's mastery of fire came from the sword he held, an enchanted sword that could be recharged in flames and used to emit flames and deal elemental damage to enemies.
Unlike magical artefact, enchanted swords could be used by anyone. And in the hands of a knight like himself, this enchanted sword was as dangerous as a magical artefact.
An arrow was aimed at his head. It was the Barbarian Queen, who was grieving for the loss of her husband.
At this moment, the Viscount realized he had messed up.
'To think that there would be another Grand-knight powerhouse in their tribe…'
However, Kalan, the knight assassin that had followed him since childhood, rushed, and managed to block the arrow with his shield. At least, this is what the Viscount thought at first.
But the arrow didn't stop. It pierced the shield, and it pierced Kalan's torso, before stopping an inch from the Viscount's eyes.
Kalan disregarded his own safety, carrying his lord to the centre of the Dark Legion Formation. The Barbarians started to fight against each other. The might displayed by the Viscount had scared most of them. Only cavern men were still looking for blood. The Fire Tribe revolted, and started to attack the them. In the meantime, the Bone tribe was attacking every single human being on their path, for having weapons.
Without the barbarian king, there was no more reason to stand together as barbarians.
Unfortunately, the Bone village was full of cavern men, and the Dark Legion had to face thousands of barbarians to escape with their lives. Every few minutes, several Dark Legion Elites, who served the Viscount for a lifetime, died. Of course, for each Dark Legion Elite that fell, dozens of barbarians would die. The Knights following the Viscount also showed high skills, working as 4 to supress the Barbarian Queen.
However, the Viscount witnessed another death that made his heart bleed.
Audis, taken by surprise, received an arrow in his throat by the barbarian Queen.
Lara shot several arrows on her as retaliation, but even with arrow piercing her heart, the barbarian Queen was still breathing. As she was about to escape, Kalan acted. Although he was gravely injured, he knew that leaving a Grand-knight powerhouse, hostile to the territory, would be a disaster.
He took out what seemed to be a one-handed scythe with a long chain. He used internal energy to throw it fast enough to hit the barbarian queen's back, who fell on the ground upon the impact.
By a mysterious slight of hand, the chain bounded the Queen's movement. Although he was just an injured knight, Kalan was managing to bound the movement of a Grand knight powerhouse.
As the pressure on his muscles made him cough blood, he started to shout:
"WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? FINISH HER FOR GODDAMN GOOD!"
Eventually, the chains broke, and the queen angrily shot a weapon that killed Kalan on the ground, but at the same time, a dagger slit her throat. George, who was quite concealed until now, had sneaked on her and killed her when her attention was at the lowest.
After losing their second leader, the cavern men realized they were doomed. Using the general chaos to escape, the Dark Legion managed to survive, along with the Viscount and part of his men.
48 Dark Legion warriors died, along with two of his most trusted knights. It was a disaster, but the Viscount still counted it as a victory. Ten years.
In ten years, he would have an army strong enough to conquer the barbarian mountain range. It was only a matter of time before the greatest threat in his territory was gone.
This day, the Viscount earned the title of Lion, for he defeated the Barbarian King, known for his title as the King of Animals.