Take on Another World with My Best Friend Vol. II Ch. 5
"Alright, Akira. We need to talk"
Akira is sleeping on the couch, and Shin sits beside him. Akira is now awake. Akira sits down.
"What is it?"
"We're getting too much attention on our ass. You need to stop"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I know last night you put a dent in the moon. I saw the whole thing. Can you please stop?"
"I don't know what you are talking about"
"Don't insult me thinking I don't know. You gave your armor to Talos, yet you won't sell them. You refuse to make a weapon to be sold, and then you spread them around like it's candy. You refuse to sell them to me, but making them is okay. And that's not even the one I'm worried about. When one of us dies, do you think no one will take your weapon and use it against us? With your power, we are already attracting attention to ourselves. Don't do this"
Ken, who is driving the RV, is listening. Feeling concerned.
"That's why we needed it. Do you know who we're facing? We're talking about Lucifer. He and the other went against the rest of the heavens. Do you think humans stand a chance against him? I nearly died fighting Mammon, and he's the weak one!"
Ken is increasingly worried. Not about the devils they're going to fight, but about the arguments. Both sides have a valid point, but neither of them is backing down.
"You could use your Omnipotent!"
"I only have a human limit of omnipotence! The only reason that Mammon was defeated was by divine elements that I don't fully know. Alexander won't tell me!"
Ken is even more worried now that they're increasingly louder.
"Then what about me? What about Ken? We don't have what you have!"
"You're celestials now! Why are you screaming at me, like I'm some superpowered egomaniac? Do you really think I want to attract attention?"
"YES! THAT'S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT FOR YOU ISN'T IT?!"
"IT DOESN'T. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO ATTRACT ATTENTION, THEN GET OU-"
"BOTH OF YOU, STOP!"
Ken hits the brake of the car and gets out of the driver's seat. He looks pissed and worried at the same time.
"Why are both of you fighting? This is NOT what we can afford right now!"
"Great. Now you're taking his side too."
"I am not on both of your sides. You both have a great point, but we are not fighting over this. Shin. We're bound to attract attention anyway, so why does it matter? We need any advantage we can get, so what's your point stopping us?"
Shin stood there, reflecting on what he said earlier. But he keeps his gaze toward Ken.
"And you, Akira. What the fuck do you think you're about to say back then? You did not bring us here, on a nigh-impossible mission just to cast us aside. This mission is bestowed on us. On you, as a leader, and now you want to kick him out?"
"Excuses, now? Really?"
Akira is facing down, ashamed. He tried to apologize to Shin by offering his hand.
"No. You're right. I don't want to attract attention anymore. I'm out of here"
Shin steps out of the RV and walks away.
"Wait. Where are-"
"Leave him, Ken. That's his choice"
"We could at least persuade him!"
"It's no use. He's as stubborn as I am. Let him be. Right now, let's just get to Romolo"
"Aren't you going to apologize to him first?"
"No. I know that he knows I'm right"
"Don't you think that he's right too?"
"Yeah, I do. But do you think attracting attention is our priority?"
"I do. I know perfectly what it meant. One of our mission is to save your people. If they know you were coming, do you think they won't use the slave as a meatshield or bait?"
Ken walks off to the driver's seat and continues driving. Along the road, he can't shake off his guilt over Shin's leaving. While he's driving, his phone vibrates in his pocket. He takes out his phone. A text message from Shin.
"Hey. Sorry for taking off like that. You know how it is. I'm sure you agree with me too, but it's best that I leave for now. Stay vigilant, Alright? Keep the big idiot safe for me. Thanks, Bro"
Shin replies with a voice message.
"Alright. Stay safe, man"
Ken hit send and Shin react to his voice message with a thumbs up, before another message pops out.
"I took all the gold with me while he was asleep. In exchange, I left something in a cabinet for you. It's a merchant identification. You could book a safe passage inside Romolo"
"What will you be doing?"
Ken Hit send.
"I'll rendezvous with Assassiyun and The Thieves Guild. The slaves are not only in Romolo, but Gaulo, Romano, and many other cities. The empire is vast. So you focus on rescuing the slaves on Romolo"
Before Ken can send another message, Shin sent a video of 2 figureless dark humanoids, malleable but seemingly dead. There's another person, in full leather armor and a horse. The person is staring at the camera, terrified. The horse seems calm.
"Found these fucks on their way to Romolo when I got off. Must be keeping an eye on us since that forging last night. Now, you can safely pass Romolo. You owe me one"
At the end of the video, Shin put a barrel into the scout's head and pulls the trigger. With a silencer on, the sound is noticeable only on the video. Blood and brain matter splattered into the tree behind the scout. The video ends. Ken sends a message to Shin.
"Why did you send me that?"
He hit send and after a few minutes, a reply from Shin
"A message for you to be careful. This guy is only a scout. Their guards, knight or Paladin is stronger than him. Much, much worse. So keep yourself and Akira safe, okay?"
"Got it. Thanks, man. Love you"
Ken hit send. He was met with silence for a few minutes. He must feel stupid for sending something cringy to Shin until a notification pops up.
"Love you too, brother"
Ken smiles and pockets his phone. He drives the morning toward Romolo, without taking the main road to avoid attention. When the clock is showing 9:15, they stopped near a village. It looks really run-down, but the people are still living here. They get off the RV and walk towards the village. They are greeted with a cold gaze. The people here are skinny, and their movement really shaky. Some people are laughing like crazy. They are greeted by an old woman, in her 50s, but might be mistaken for 80-something, due to how shriveled up her skin is.
"What business do you have with us?"
"Hello. I'm looking to rest here. May I come in?"
"Ho? Sure. We have a guest room but excuse our condition here. We haven't received any funding from the empire, so your guestroom might be in disrepair"
The old woman is shakily walking, guiding them toward the guestroom. Once they're outside of the guestroom, the old woman bows and takes her leave. They are cleaning the room with wind and water magic. They rested for a moment in the guestroom.
"Hey. Does this place seems off to you?"
"What do you mean, Ken?"
"Those people. Impoverished, shaking, and laughing. I read once back on Earth about a disease called Kuru"
"Yeah, what's it about?"
"Kuru is a disease from Papua New Guinea from the Fore People. The disease stems from Prion Protein, making the people who contract the Kuru disease experience degenerative effects on the body. For what they eat-"
There's a banging on the door. Akira gets up from the floor, but Ken stops him.
"They eat people. We're better to get out of here. Teleport us outside of the village"
Akira teleports them outside of the gate, where they meet the old lady. They ran as fast as possible, without being noticed.
"Wait, why are we running? We can just kill them all"
"Don't, Akira. They are just starving villagers"
"But they are cannibals"
"Not by choice. Look at them. The last time they probably eat in when someone died"
"Should we end their suffering?"
"Akira, that's enough. Let's just get out of here"
Akira concedes and storms off. They continue their travel without rest or eat.
"Akira, I'm hungry"
"Good thing I prepared this burrito. Here"
Ken unwraps the tinfoil cylinder and eats the burrito while driving
"This is good. What's in this?"
"Anything that is in sushi. Fish, rice, cucumber, seaweed, and eggs"
Akira sits beside him and eats with him. The burrito is big enough, it's almost the size of Ken's arms. Ken's driving with his left hand and driving with his right. When they're nearing Romolo, Ken stops the RV in an inconspicuous grassland where no one can see them.
"Right. Let's finish our meal, and get out"
Both of them finish their meal and gets out of the vehicle. They wore their mask and wear inconspicuous clothing to blend in with the crowds. They walked towards the gate. The guards are as vigilant as ever. Their armor is made of refined steel, with dents all over but shiny. They approach the guards, but they are cautious.
"Ave, Profligates. May I see your identification?"
"Here you go"
Ken hands the guards the identification. The guards read the identification. Harsas and Callum as the guards read their identification as merchants.
"Merchants? I don't see your carriage with you"
"We're here not to resupply. We're here to collect debts"
"Oh, you're here for debts? Who's debts?"
"None of your business. With the war going on, we're withdrawing our investment"
"Oh, yeah, I'm afraid you won't be paid."
"Sure, whatever. Let's go, Harsas"
"Wait a second.
"What is it?"
"I said so"
"I'll tell you instead. He got a nasty burn all over his face and mine was maimed"
The guard unsheathes his sword and points it at Ken. Ken telepathically communicates with Akira
"Akira. Illusion magic on our face, now
Akira cast an illusion magic on Ken. Once the magic is cast undetected, Ken opens his wooden mask, and Akira unravels his bandages, revealing scarred face from Ken and a burn from Akira's face. The guards stare in fear
"How did you both survive with face like that?"
Akira walks in front of the guards, staring with his burned face
"I survived because the fire inside burned brighter than the fire around me. I fell down into that dark chasm, but the flame burned on and on. It never stops burning. My skin. Every day, I have to unwind the bandages and replace them with fresh ones"
The guards look terrified as Akira put his bandages on again. Akira and Ken grab their identification and went inside the castle wall of Romolo. The city would be really clean, if not for the dead bodies hanging from the lynch stage.
"What a waste of human life"
"It's too late for them. Let's go"
"Where should we go from here?"
"We should book an inn first. We can plan from there"
"Where's the inn from here?"
"I don't know. Maybe we should ask around"
Akira and Ken ask around, but the people look at them with wariness as if outsiders are unwelcome there. The commoners look really dejected and the nobility looks disgusted. They approach one of the noblewomen with a group of dirty-clothed people 2 of them are beastfolk.
"Excuse me. Pardon my intrusion. May I ask where's the inn?"
"Inn? You profligate more belong in the stables. Well, if you insist on dirtying the inn, it's in the Southern part of the city, with your fellow animals. Go on, git"
Ken looks offended, but Akira grabs Ken, bows, and go.
"Let's just go. Don't pay attention to them"
"It's not that. Her groups. Are those people slaves? There are beast folk too"
"I know. But we can plan in the inn first"
Ken and Akira walk in the direction pointed out by the arrogant noblewoman. They approached the inn called Warrior's Retreat. The inn is clean and looks glamorous. It looks more like a 3-star hotel rather than an inn. The front desk is decorated with golden statues and a chandelier. The front desk table is made of marble. The receptionist wears a uniform that could be considered elegant. A dress as black as the night sky for the women, and an outfit so dashing, it sparkles for men's uniform. They greeted Akira and Ken by placing their right palm on their left chest and bowing their head down.
"Ave. Welcome to Warrior's Retreat. For 2?"
"For how many nights?"
"How much per day?"
"For a standard room, 25 gold per night. For Deluxe, 50 gold per night. For Royal Suite, 1 platinum coin per night"
"That was a fine price. What service do you offer?"
"Well, free breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A thermae whenever you feel like it. Vineyard views for the Royal Suite and...'Night Services'"
Ken is confused about what night services provide. Akira leans in and whispers in his ears.
Ken blushes and hides his face with Akira's back.
"We probably don't need some night services"
"That's a shame. Our night services provided by the finest slave Mercia has to offer"
"Yeah. Men, Women, Young, Old. Whichever you like"
"So are these slaves for sale?"
"Absolutely. Their price is ranging from 70 silver to 1 platinum coin"
"Do I need to pay extra for these night services?"
"No, not at all. They come with the room"
"What do you think, Callum?"
"Callum" thinks for a few moments, and thinks for 5 seconds.
"Let's get the Royal Suite"
"For how many nights?"
"We'll stay for 10 days. So that'll be one platinum plate, right?"
Akira grabs one platinum plate from his pouch and hands the front desk attendant the platinum plate. The male attendant verified the platinum plate. The attendant puts the platinum in a safe on the marble desk.
"Thank you. Your room will be on the 10th floor. Room 1057. You could take the elevator to the 10th floor if you're not feeling like taking the stairs"
"Would you like to have lunch now?"
"Oh? What do you have?"
"We have an assortment of fruits, focaccia with garum, and meat platter for our base menu, but we can take custom orders"
"Great. I'll have a meat platter and garum, with the focaccia. Please bring some wine too"
"I'll have fruits, please"
"Of course. Everything will be sent to your room immediately. Vale. Enjoy your stay"
Ken and Akira take the elevator to the 10th floor, to their room at the 4th door on the left hallway. When they enter the Royal Suite, they were dazzled by the sparkling clean marble pillar in the room. The floor is made from white polished marble, everything except the bed which was separated by a room only decorated with windows that are out looking towards the vineyard. The breeze of Romolo squeezes through the Royal Suite. The sweet scent of grapes and wine are flowing through the room.
"This place is amazing, Akira"
"Yeah. I would really love to have this place on Newlight"
"Can you just buy the place?"
"Uh, I don't think it would fit the aesthetic of the city, which is the 80s"
"Eh, You could put it on Hakone and it would be fitting"
"We already have the hot spring inn. Maybe I could put it somewhere else"
A knock on the door. Ken opens the door to reveal a beastwoman servant in a thin toga, barely covering her body shape with a food tray in her hand. The tray is so loaded with food, it looks really heavy, so Ken took it off her hand.
The servant woman place her right hand on her left chest and bow her head.
"Wait, Ken. Please let her in"
Ken opens the door wider and the servant enters. Upon closer look, there's a silver ankle chain on her right ankle.
"Do you want me to service you, master?"
"Before that, tell me your name and where you are from"
"My name is Hana. I'm a Harpy or a bird beastman, if you like. I am from the Great Amazon Jungle, but was taken a slave by the Corsair Prince in Friguld"
"Oh? What a coincidence, then"
"Oh, this guy beats the Corsair Princes, and makes their territory his"
"Basically, I am the king of that place"
Hana is skeptical, a man calling himself a king visits this place.
"Hmm... You said you're a bird beastman. Do you have any relatives who called Diomedaia?"
"Dio...is my brother"
Akira takes his phone and opens his gallery. He shows a photo of him, Shin, Mina, and the rest of the castle staff. Humans, beastkins, and tieflings. He shows several photos to Hana. Mealtimes, candid photos, selfies, and group photos. They all look so happy"
"How about my parents?"
"Your parents are fine, but they are constantly worrying about you"
Hana, who was expressionless started tearing up. She feels happy that her family is doing great, but she feels sad that she couldn't meet them anymore.
"Hana. Come with us back to Newlight. I am sure your family would love to see you again"
"I wanted to, but I can't. I'd already made a slave here. So I resigned myself to this fate. Do you see this ankle bracer? It's a slave collar. If we were to run away, the collar would take us back to our owner. Every time, every day was painful, but there's nothing I can do"
Akira takes a look at the ankle. He senses a different magic power from the bracer. Probably her owner. He tried to analyze the magic pattern of the bracer. He finds that while the surrounding magic is filled with the owner's magic, the bracer core stays dormant. If Akira can fill the bracer core with his magic, the bracer would shatter.
"Hana. I can break this bracer, or at least disguise the magic with my own until the time for escape comes. But I need help from you. I want to free every slave in this country, but my friend is also held captive. I need to find him first. Can you help me free the slaves in this town?"
Hana composes herself. She is afraid, but on her face, she looks determined.
"What should I do?"
Akira closes his eyes and creates a small orb of dragonstone, or obsidian, and filled it with his magic.
"This is my magic, concentrated in this dragonstone. I want you to gather every slave and smash the orbs when you have rounded the slaves. This thing has a small range, so please don't leave anyone behind if you can help it"
Hana nods. She grabs the obsidian and pockets it between her legs, inside.
"When you're done, head to Sabea. There should be transport for you waiting at the border, but if things are not working according to plan, wait for me at the nearest town"
"I am not sure how can I do this. How am I able to contact you?"
"Touch your left ear"
Hana touch her left ear with her left hand.
"Now you can hear me. Think about what you want to talk to me"
"I can hear your voice in my head!"
"And I can hear yours too. You can talk to me anywhere, anytime. I'm afraid our time is up. You better go back before they are suspicious"
"I'm counting on you, Hana"
Hana nods and went out of the room.
"Do you think it's okay?"
"To let her do all that?"
"Probably not, but we can't be in two place at one"
"Well, I mean, you can"
"What are you talking about?"
"You're omnipotent, aren't you? You can teleport them in and out in an instant"
"I could, but those ankle bracers would just drag them back. Freeing the slave one by one and someone will notice and there are millions of slaves here. I checked after sensing Hana's ankle bracer. We need to do it all at once. And we have Erik to worry about. So I need to focus my attention on Erik"
"So, we need someone who thinks like you and is as powerful as you. I wish Shin was here"
"Come on, man. Knock it off. Don't make me feel worse than I already am"
"Then we have to find someone else. Do you have in mind?"
"I don't. Mina's great at stealth, but she's not as strong as I am. Dad won't be able to do it. Do I have someone?"
Akira is thinking hard about who would fit the job, then one person he hasn't accounted for.
"Talos. We got someone!"
"Great. Can you bring him here?"
"I can't as of now. The anti-magic barrier is still up so I can't teleport him in"
"Okay, what do you want me to do?"
"No, no. Don't worry about it. An anti-magic barrier is made to prevent magic from coming in, but it's still made of magic. I can absorb the magic and no one will be none the wiser"
"Can you do it now?"
"That's what I'm about to do"
Akira went to the balcony facing the vineyard and place his left hand up in the air. The Anti-magic barrier warped a bit before shattering like glass. He absorbed every last bit of the magic in the air and no one seem alerted.
"That's some disgusting magic. Who's magic was it?"
"Wow, you did absorb all of it. How does it feel?"
"Huh? Oh. It's like drinking every last drop of water in a lake. But this magic taste like ass"
Akira closes his eyes and summons Talos to the balcony. Talos now looks really similar to Akira. Except for his bronze-colored eye color, he looks every bit human-like Akira.
"Oh, hey boss. I know what you're thinking"
"Can you help me with it?"
"Absolutely. I brought your mask. Do you want it?"
"No. I told you, you earned that. Now, I leave that to you. This is important, so please don't let me down"
"You got it, boss"
Talos walks off the room to scout every slave and rescue them. After Talos left, Ken receive a text message from Shin.
"Hey, we got some information that Erik is currently at the castle dungeon. Might want to take a look at it"
Shin replies with a text back.
"Who are you texting, Ken?"
"Oh. Can you ask him how's things going with him?"
"Why don't you text him?"
"I don't feel appropriate right now"
Before Ken hit send. Another text comes in. And then another, and another. A total of 4 messages were received on Ken's phone.
"I saw the troops mobilizing towards the border. The Thieves Guild is using this opportunity to release the slaves. Wish us luck"
"Ken. I heard Erik is among the Mercian troops. This might go bad. If you're reading this, please send a backup. Here's my location"
"I can't believe it. Erik is actually a Minotaur. This is really bad. Send help, please. 9mm can't penetrate him. My .50cal would kill him. He can't disobey those troops, and later, he might be on a rampage"
"Erik just decimated Suleyman's troops. They are retreating. One more push and Sabea will be in danger!"
Ken is shocked that 5 messages just come in an instant.
"Akira. Shin is in danger. He said he saw Erik at the border. He decimated Suleyman's troops"
"Come on! We need to get to him"
"Do you have your motorcycle?"
"I have mine"
"Take it out once we're out of the city. Let's go!"
Akira and Ken don't bother to run down, they jumped out of the balcony. Akira grabs Ken's arms and starts floating with the lightning on his foot and lands on his feet. They don't even bother running toward the gate checkpoint. They scaled the wall and jumped really far. Once they are out of sight, Ken takes out his motorcycle and Ken starts riding it with Akira sitting behind him. Ken hands his phone to Akira, which has the maps that Shin sent. Ken accelerates as fast as possible.
"Those Anti-magic area is blocking reception. I should have seen it"
"Don't think about it now. Just go!"
Ken's motorcycle has to be at its limit when he twists the throttle as hard as he could. He has his mask to protect himself from dust in his eyes, but it still wouldn't protect him if he falls. He took every shortcut he can find. Shallow creek, woods, and grasslands. Ken and Akira arrive at the battlefield in about an hour, littered by Suleyman's soldiers. They went to Suleyman's camp to find Shin. The soldier of Suleyman is clearly demoralized, but one of the generals points them in the direction of Shin's tent. They walked and enter the tent, but Shin was not there. Instead, it's one of The Hands.
"Shin heads back to Sabea. Some of our Fingers freed the slaves, and the Assasiyun is coordinating with the Thieves Guild to free more"
"How many slaves are you freeing right now?"
"About 400. We just started today"
"I heard about a bull man fighting at the border. Do you know where he is?"
"Oh, that enormous monster is already left. The troops are retreating after the assasiyun cut off their supply line"
"Where are they heading now?"
"Back to Romolo. I am surprised that you don't see them on your way here"
"What about the troops here?"
"We lost a lot of life to hold the line. 10 thousand people died and 8000 are injured. We're lucky that the Assasiyun cut their supply line in time. Any later, Sabea would have been invaded"
Akira takes a look at the troops. The dead troops are being buried in the mass graveyard. They are offering prayers for their fallen comrades. Akira knew he cannot mess with life and death, but at least he can save the one wounded. Akira cast a large area of healing magic that is so potent, so strong, the soldiers who are losing their limbs, regrow their limbs back, and energized in a matter of seconds.
"Ho...You are as powerful as I have heard, but I never thought I would see it with my own eyes"
"Thanks. What can you tell me about that monster?"
"All I know is he is not in his mind"
"What do you mean?"
"Someone is controlling him. We saw a blue ring around his neck that seems to glow whenever he is resisting to fight"
Ken is worried. If one monster this strong was being controlled, Mercia wouldn't hesitate to invade a kingdom with just one man.
"We need to get to him, Akira"
"Right. Oh, Hand. I need some help"
"I have started the rescue of the slave of Romolo. When they are all escaped, please take them to safety. Carriages, Horses, anything. Just get out of here, fast"
"Thanks. I'll take my leave"
The Hand bows and offer her prayer to the duo. Akira and Ken ride back on their motorcycle and take off to find Erik. They are speeding through the off-road trail. On their way to Romolo, They don't see any sign of Erik but found some knights in metal armor instead. Their armor is lavish and indented, but the trace of blood from their armor means they are involved in the battle back on the border. They stopped the duo. It's too late to hide the motorcycle now.
"Stop where you are!"
Ken has no choice but to stop. They looked at the knights with an annoyed response.
"What is it?"
"What is this monstrosity you are riding on? An iron horse?"
"Something like that. What do you stop us for?"
"Get off your ride"
The knights unsheathe their swords. By now, they are surrounding them with a sword pointed at the two.
"The knights of Mercia have ordered you to get off. Now get off!"
"Knights of Mercia? So let me clarify. None of you are slaves, captured or bought to Mercia, correct?"
"It should have been obvious, asina. We are not"
"Knights acting like a bandit. No wonder the whole country is a mess"
Ken and Akira gets off the motorcycle. One of the knights rides the motorcycle, but once he's on, the motorcycle breaks. The sheer weight of the knight and the armor shatters the motorcycle to pieces.
"What junk! I just ride on it and it breaks"
Akira know full well that Ken loved his motorcycle. The sight of his motorcycle in pieces enrages him, more than personal insults. The knight that broke the motorcycle kicks the now junk motorcycle. Ken couldn't hold it any longer. He grabs the knight that broke his motorcycle by the helmet without putting his gloves on, bends him backward, and slaps his chest piece. The armor chest piece shatters like the motorcycle and the knight, who are now unconscious, has a red mark on the right side of his chest. Not from the hand mark, but the redness of his chest means that Ken tore the knight's pectoralis muscle. Some of the armor pieces are lodged in Ken's palm, but not big enough to bother him. His palm is trickling with blood, but this pain will not bother him. At this precise moment, Ken is at his peak of anger. He vowed. To destroy.
"Wh-WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! YOU JUST ATTACKED THE KNIGHTS OF MERCIA"
Ken does not care. In his rage, all the remaining group of knights are not spared by Ken's anger. They all unsheathes their swords and point them at Ken and Akira.
"Want me to help?"
Ken growls. His voice by now is barely recognizable. He growls like a mad dog. The knights are cautious, but fearful of what they will face. Ken starts charging at one of the knights on his right. Even without magic or the gauntlet, his punch is too strong for the knights to handle them. The punches connect to his chest and it made a sickening crunch sound. The second knight drops and wails in pain. He continues charging at the other knight, who coiled back when Ken's charging at him. Ken hits a haymaker to the jaw. The helmet shatters and the force of the punch left the knight lower jaw hanging off on one side. The sight of a mangled jaw scares the rest of the knights and they ran away, but before caught by their leader. The leader of a squad of Knights is a Paladin. This paladin is twice as tall as Ken.
"Paladin Marcus. Th-this man killed 2 of ours"
"And you run away in fear?"
"We're not as strong as you, Marcus. Remember, we are a son of nobles. We hold a higher rank than you. Protect us"
Paladin Marcus grabs the backtalking knights on his throat and lifts him one with one hand.
"You seem to forget. I am a paladin. I take my orders from the King"
Paladin Marcus snaps the knight's neck and throws him to the side like he is a piece of trash. The rest of the knights are terrified of their commander even more.
"All of you, listen well and remember. Whoever tries to run from the battlefield will be put to the sword. If you're caught by me, will be crushed like he does"
The knights are hesitant to fight, but they are more afraid of the paladin behind them than the enemies in front of them.
"Ken. Do yo-"
Ken just charges the knights and finishes them off swiftly, but not painlessly. He ripped each knight off their limbs. Hands, legs, and even head. Ken looks at Paladin Marcus and bares his teeth.
"Close your mouth, wretch. You are not even worthy to see in my direction"
Ken punches the Paladin on his chest, but it barely leaves a scratch. Ken is now feeling the pain in his palm and the fatigue of this fight.
"Looks like I got a friend in me. Come here, bull"
The grounds after the bull roars. When he walks, the footprints that are left on the ground are so deep because of his weight. The bull stands beside Paladin Markus. The blue ring on his neck, the familiar face of the bull. Akira recognizes the bull as Erik Papadopoulos.
"Ken. Calm down, now"
Ken looks at Akira. He seems to snap out of it.
"That's him. That's Erik Papadopoulos. Whatever you do, do not kill him"
Ken is still angry, but he finally snaps out of it. He wants to direct his anger to the paladin.
"You go fight Erik. I'll handle the paladin"
Ken looks at Akira, confused. He almost sputters an annoyed "huh" at Akira.
"I want to test my staff. You go break that blue collar off his neck"
Ken nods and charges at Erik. He tried to do a jumping punch but Erik caught the punch with ease. Ken get off from Erik and runs away to separate Erik from Marcus. Akira takes out his staff. Even though it's already noon, the staff is still sparkling as if the staff is made out of the night sky. Akira throws the Celestaff at the paladin, but he catches it. Although, it sends him several meters backward. But when Paladin Marcus tries to throw it, the Celestaff suddenly becomes really heavy. Akira opens his palm and the staff returned back to him.
"That's not a normal staff, isn't it?"
"Yeah. I presume you have weapons to fight me?"
"I don't need a weapon for someone weak like you"
Of course, Marcus knows that Akira is not weak if he's able to lift that Celestaff. But what Marcus didn't know is that the Celestaff is only responsive to his owner. If some stranger takes over the staff, it will become heavier.
"Hand to hand?"
"Hand to Hand"
"Give me your all"
Poor choice of words. Akira takes his Celestaff and sweeps the Paladin off his feet, but he doesn't fall down. Akira thinks that the armor is too refined and too hard. If he cannot penetrate the armor, then the armor needs to penetrate itself. Akira imagines the Celestaff transforming into a Celemace. He swings the Celemace to his chest piece and it made a dent. But it's only his armor. The Marcus inside the armor is unharmed.
"Are you holding back, wretch?"
"I am. I wanted to know your real ability"
"Heh. Seems like we're doing the same thing. Are you having fun?"
"Well, not yet. I need to test this weapon first"
Marcus charges toward Akira. He moves very fast for someone with such heavy armor. His punches are calculated and precise. And Marcus landed a hit on Akira. Akira was thrown back into the tree behind him. Akira is coughing blood. But the blood is only on his lips. Both of them smile. Akira turns the Celemace into a Celespear. He rushes to Marcus with a sweeping motion, which Marcus anticipates, but he went up fast and to a stabbing motion with the spear. The Armor is now penetrated, and a trickle of blood comes out of the Armor.
"Right. I had my fun"
"Are you going to run away, coward?"
"Nah. My blood is rushing now. Let's do this hand-to-hand"
Akira puts his Celespear back into his item box.
"Then I won't be needing this"
Marcus takes off his helmet, to reveal a white man and blonde hair and greenish-blue eyes. He takes off his armor and his greaves. Underneath, he is wearing a simple brown shirt and long pants. The only armor he did not relinquish is his gauntlets. Akira sees the wound on his stomach from the Celespear earlier, but the wound is too shallow to hit any vital part. Akira heals himself and Marcus until his wound is closing.
"Why did you heal me?"
"Fair fight. What else? I'm having fun, and I haven't shaken off the rust"
Akira and Marcus are charging at each other. Their first punch connects to each other faces. They didn't flinch with the punch to the face. They traded punches, kicks, headbutts, and grabs. Each punch landed is getting more powerful than before. Akira cast a fire magic at the size of his head and propels it toward Marcus, and the fireball was deflected behind him. Akira cast a ground magic and throw a gigantic boulder towards Marcus. But Marcus destroyed it with a single punch. But Akira anticipated that. Behind the boulder, he prepares a downward kick to Marcus's neck. But it didn't make him fall to the ground. Marcus cast a physical enchantment on his body and punches Akira in his dead center. Akira flies high up from the punch, and Marcus jumps up and pummels him again to the ground. Akira landed on the ground, creating a crater around his fall. He coughs blood, but the wound is not really fatal. Marcus stomps Akira, but Akira caught his leg. He throws Marcus to the cliff wall and punches his face. The amount of the punch force is so strong, the cliff shatters around him. Marcus is now coughing blood, but he is still strong enough to punch Akira back. Marcus regains his stance and cast another physical enchantment. But before he can complete his casting, Akira shoots a lightning bolt from his hand. Marcus tries to block it, but the gauntlet is made of metal, so it shocks his body instead. His body is steaming. His body starts to weaken, but so does Akira's. The lightning bolt doesn't completely stop his physical enchantment casting. Marcus charges toward Akira, who is enchanting his body with lightning. Marcus punches Akira while Akira kicks Marcus's head with a lightning-enhanced kick. They both stood still for a second before collapsing down on the ground.
"I see. You're not even taking me seriously"
"I am serious I'm just rusty, that's all"
"Lies. I know who you are, King Akira. You are supposed to be omnipotent"
"You know of me?"
"Yeah. Mercia is keeping an eye on you. They say you're a threat"
"Maybe I am"
"How are you so strong?"
"I was made in a laboratory, or so they called it. Trained me when I was 5"
"Must be horrible"
"Of course it is. I was bleeding every morning and gained a new wound the next morning. They called me a defect when I cried, and sometimes kick me when I sleep in a dark room. I gained my first concussion on my 6th birthday and a broken bone on my 9th"
"With how strong you are, you could have fought them on your own"
"I tried and failed. There are much stronger monsters than I am"
"Ooh. I want to fight them"
"Don't. They fight dirty. They won't hesitate to hold your family hostage in order to win"
"Hey. Why don't you come with me to Newlight? I need someone like you to protect my kingdom"
"I am tempted, but I can't. Paladins swore an oath to be always loyal. That oath binds us until our death"
"That leaves me no choice"
Marcus gets down on his knees. Akira cast a fire around Marcus. The Yellow bright fire around Marcus burns bright, but it doesn't feel hot to Marcus. But the heat from the fire brushes cold through Marcus like a breeze. The fire engulfs Marcus whole.
"This flame...it felt...peaceful"
The fire turns brighter until it turns blue. But the fire extinguishes after just a few seconds to engulf Marcus as a whole. It doesn't leave any burn marks on the ground. Marcus is left unharmed by the fire. Marcus is left confused.
"But I was engulfed in fire"
"I just burn the oath that binds you. You are free"
"Why did you do that? I'm now an oathbreaker!"
"You didn't break your oath, I did. Because I need your help, Marcus"
"Need my help?"
"You are free to say no, but I would be happy if you could help me with my mission"
"Do you own any slaves, Marcus?"
"My mission is to free the slaves of Mercia. Some of those slaves are my people's family members"
Marcus is left speechless. It has been a long time since he sees this kind of kindness, ever since he was a little kid.
"If you are willing, I can guarantee you that you are free to be whoever you want to be in my kingdom"
"Why me? There's someone stronger out there"
"The fire that burns your oath is a holy fire. It doesn't burn physically but it detects what kind of person you are. The fire turns blue, that means you are a good person"
Hearing that someone declares him a good person, he is brought to tears. Marcus kneels on one knee and bows his head down.
"I, Marcus Benedictus Merciae, swear that they shall faithfully execute all that the King's commands, that I shall never desert the service, and that I shall not seek to avoid death for the Kingdom of Newlight!"
"I, Akira Takahashi, King of Newlight, acknowledge your fealty and wishes you good health and prosperity in the name of Newlight. May your prayer be answered and your deeds remembered"
Akira takes his Celespear and turns it into a Celesword. He taps his shoulder of Marcus with the Celesword. Akira helps Marcus up.
"What do you need?"
"Lay low for now. When we have released all the slaves in the town, escort them to Sabea for safety. They will handle the transportation, I need you to keep them safe"
"Call me Milord when in a formal setting. Call me Akira when we're in an informal one"
"Good. Let's see how's your bull friend doing"
"Oh no! I forgot about him. Your friend might be in danger"
"That bull is even stronger than I am"
"Yeah, that bull is my friend. But we'll talk later"
Akira and Marcus run toward Ken. Their fight is not really destructive, so they are getting overlooked. When Akira and Marcus find Ken, it looks like Ken is hugging him from behind. Marcus is not impressed by how he tried to defeat the enemy with a hug. But Ken lifts Erik and slams him toward the ground. A German suplex! Marcus is impressed. By this time, Ken already notices Akira. He shouts to them.
Akira and Marcus look puzzled. What does he mean by "count"?
"COUNT! COME ON!"
At last, Akira understands what he meant and slides down to the ground. He taps the ground with his hand. Tap!
Marcus is even puzzled, but he decided to just watch what is going on. Tap!
Ken is looking really serious about holding Erik down on the ground with every last strength he had. Tap!
Ken let go of Erik's body. He puts his hand in the air. Celebrating his victory. Akira looks at Erik's unmoving body.
"What the hell are you doing?! We're not supposed to kill him!"
"Huh? I didn't kill him"
Akira looks at Erik's body. Strangely, he doesn't see the collar Erik was wearing before.
"Then why did you kill him?"
Erik gets up from the ground. The gigantic minotaur grunts as he gets up.
"That was a nice German suplex, Kid. You won"
Akira is dumbfounded. Marcus is even speechless that the bull is talking. No, playing.
"Hey, Akira. We were wrestling a little bit. Turns out, your boy over here is a wrestling fan"
Erik is smiling wide. With the way, he is smiling. He looks more like a cow than a bull.
"Hey Erik. Nice to see you again"
"You too, Akira"
"Wait. You know the bull?"
"Yeah. He's an old friend"
"Oh, I remember you. This guy is an effective leader, but quite ruthless. He reminds me of my drill instructor"
"Never mind that. Ken, Please text Shin that we rescued Erik"
"Way ahead of you. He said to bring Erik to the camp we visited earlier"
"The battlefield is back that way"
"Wait. Suleyman's camp?"
"I'm afraid we're not quite welcome there. I was the one leading the charge"
"Ken, please ask Shin to meet us somewhere else. We're taking the RV"
"Wait. What about my motorcycle?"
"It's FUBAR now. I'll buy you a new one"
Akira takes out his RV and opens the door. Marcus is curious about the vehicle. But it looks really fascinating.
"Oh, I'm sorry Erik, but can you transform back to your human form?"
Erik transforms back to his human form, but his clothing does not get small with him. So this transformation leaves him quite naked.
"I think I have spare clothing inside. Let's go"
Erik, Akira, Ken, and Marcus enter the RV. Ken is driving and Marcus heads directly to the shower. Marcus is sitting uncomfortably on the Sofa. Ken drives to their new destination, the battlefield.