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Knight of Demise Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Seated in his chair, carefully sizing up the girl before him, Julian cannot help but feel somewhat curious.

 

On first glance, she seems younger than even Julian’s current flesh. Pale violet hair, smooth and satin-like, reaches down to her waist. A white ribbon demurely parts her bangs, putting on display a delicately beautiful face. Her cerulean eyes are filled with liveliness, and her light-pink lips open slightly in a sweet smile. A white strapless one-piece perfectly delineates her slender figure; long, elbow-length gloves wrap her arms tightly within. Immaculate cotton boots lend the outfit a splash of playfulness, and the gold-bordered black cloak trailing behind, a sense of scholarship. [1]

 

She is a girl of unquestionable beauty, but Julian’s interest is elsewhere.



 

These particular memories are from the previous owner of his body, not Julian’s own per se; but if he recalls correctly, then he’s heard the name before. How could a citizen of any nation not know the names of its royal family?

 

“If memory serves, your name is not unfamiliar.”

 

Nonchalantly lifting up a nearby teacup, Julian studies the girl.

 

“Auvalire West – isn’t that the name of our nation’s princess royal?" [2]

 

“……”

 

The girl doesn’t immediately answer Julian’s query, but her face dims considerably.   

 

“In the past, yes … but … not anymore.”

 

In her voice, there is audible regret, pain, even sorrow.

 

Julian has little pertinent information on her royal highness. He knows that the princess had been born in the fifteenth month of the year of Scattered Flowers. She enjoyed foremost popularity among royalty, due not only to her unrivalled beauty and silvered voice, but also her considerable political acumen and good reputation. As the saying goes, alas, ‘he whom the gods love dies young’. [2] At only sixteen years of age, the princess fell ill suddenly, and died – an event that had gone on to cause great waves within the kingdom of West… but, the matter was now thirty years past.

 

The Felix youth had heard about the subject from his parents. Regardless of their circumstances, his father and mother had been ranked among the nobility, and knew of these affairs from consequence if not exigence. They had even taught the young Felix to treat the princess as a role model, in order that he too may become a nobleman of wisdom, talent, and flair.

 

Of course, no rumors spread at the time out of respect to the royal family. But, in light of the new evidence, illness seemed … unlikely.

 

Though Auvalire is silent on the subject, Julian's sure that she is a victim of murder – probably the premeditated variety, in fact.

 

The murder of its princess royal is not a light matter for a nation.

 

“Who was your murderer?”

 

Julian gets right to the point. The nobles who had resided here at the time could not have been the ones responsible, since their bloodline would have been long cut down if so; why would a royal family let off such provocation so easily?

 

Unfortunately, that complicates. ‘Death to sudden illness’ is an oft-used explanation in deceiving the peasantry, perhaps sufficient to fool commoners but not the elite. Neither the royal family nor the aristocracy would accept that explanation in private. This was especially so since the princess was quite charismatic, being well-loved both within and without the palace. Both the royal family and the nobility command substantial, non-overlapping respect. Suspicion would not be unexpected from at least one of these two, and yet the death had been brushed over with a single broad stroke.

 

Julian’s question is left unanswered; Auvalire shakes her head slowly, her expression melancholy.

 

“Then, let me ask you something else.”

 

Unwilling to pursue a topic of clear disinterest, Julian changes the subject.  

 

“What do you plan to do next?”

 

“… Plan to do next?”

 

The girl pauses at those words. She raises his head, her eyes full of confusion and bewilderment.

 

For someone who has been dead for over thirty years, her reaction isn’t surprising. If not for Julian’s intervention, Auvalire would likely have maintained her existence as an arcane revenant for perpetuity. For such a spirit without reason or thought, time is meaningless; but she’d recovered her wits anew, and could no longer spend her days in a stupor. As a pernicious ghost – what kind of future could an existence like hers even imagine to achieve?

 

“I don’t know …”

 

Considering the notion a moment, Auvalire shakes her head. She casts her gaze groundward, letting her eyelids droop a little.

 

“I don’t know what I should do; I can’t think of what I ought to do.”

 

“If that’s the case, shall we make a deal?”

 

Placing his teacup back onto the table, Julian glances at Auvalire. The latter is silent, awaiting what he has to say.

 

“I can assist you in restoring your form – in, ah, creating a physically extant body, so you can live like a human once again. Of course, that wouldn’t mean you’d become human, but I think it should be enough. In exchange, I would like you to work for me. How about it?”

 

“Are you a wizard?”

 

Expressing surprise for the first time since they'd met, Auvalire stares in astonishment at the man before her – he looks only a little older than her, his skills indecipherable.

 

“No.”

 

Smiling, Julian turns his head side to side, handily rejecting her hypothesis.

 

“I am a knight. But that’s not important – all that's important is you.”

 

The girl looks towards Julian fearlessly, her eyes devoid of embarrassment. From another perspective, it further reinforces the veracity in what he remembers. The princess certainly has an air of regality unfound in the typical pretty flower; she doesn’t feel shyness or unease, and moreover has unbelievably strong self-control. That she had been able to suppress her instincts as a revenant is testament to that fact; her displayed potential piques Julian’s curiosity. In truth, he is unsure that he himself could maintain the composure she did, had he been in a similar situation.

 

“You need me.”

 

Her blue eyes glitter with discernment.

 

“That’s right.”

 

Julian readily agrees.

 

“But, as land-holding nobles go, you’re pretty small-time.”

 

Auvalire curves her lips upwards, revealing a confident smile.  

 

“I am the princess royal of this kingdom.”

 

“You were, in the past. Not anymore.”

 

Her words are combative, but Julian refuses to budge. He admires Auvalire's pretty face, making his appreciation of it plain. Disregarding all else, attractive women are at least easy on the eyes; women who are both attractive and smart, increasingly so.

 

“You’re not wrong.”

 

His words do not deject her, nor is there any trace of sadness or despondency. Quite the opposite, she answers him with a resolute nod.

 

“Right now, I'm just an ordinary person… and there is a price to every deal. I don't have the luxury of haggling; there's no reason for me to refuse your proposition. My old life is no longer. I’ve had enough of the terror and emptiness, the pure, unbridled chaos. I would rather choose a different future, however uncertain it may be …”

 

A hint of stubbornness enters Auvalire’s voice.

 

“After all, it is a path that I am choosing.”

 

“Very good.”

 

Julian inclines his head in satisfaction. He stands up, walking to her side; airborne, she looks at him with a mixture of interest and concern, perhaps even momentary panic.

 

“What do you mean to do? Don’t you need a magical diagram, or some kind of incantation?”  

 

“I’ve said this before, but I am no wizard; I am a knight.”

 

The youth offers her a cordial, charming smile, filled with pride and confidence.

 

“I have no need for such convoluted preparations. An easier method exists for me to create and perfect your body …” Noticing Auvalire’s puzzled expression, Julian takes a brief pause. “There is a large amount of void magic within you, which has persisted even after death. Hmm … but, I’ve never heard of your proficiency in the art?”

 

“No, I have none.”

 

Auvalire tilts her head in bemusement.

 

“I don’t know what void magic is… I feel only a strong force acting deep within my soul. I’d never had these sensations when I was alive.”

 

“Perhaps it has to do with your time as an arcane revenant?”

 

Vehement obsession and rampant magic served as the chains to Auvalire’s soul. Perhaps the duality’s unlikely coexistence had been the catalyst to awakening her elemental void. It’s only a guess, of course, but one that Julian finds a strange amount of credence in; if the princess’s magical talent had been discovered during her lifetime, she would have been treated as an endangered species… making her unpropitious murder in such a backwoods place no longer plausible.

 

“Ah, but you needn’t be concerned with these things.”

 

Not lingering further on the subject, Julian moves on with his explanation.

 

“I think it would be possible for you to freely use that power. What I must now do is to construct a nucleus within your soul. You need only focus on filling it with your strength when I say the word. Not a difficult task for you, I’m sure.”

 

“I understand.”

 

Auvalire’s face is stiff as she observes Julian’s gradual approach, but she nods nevertheless. The latter exhibits a peculiar smile in turn, and reaches a hand towards the girl’s chest.

 

“——!”

 

Even though she is keenly aware of her ethereal existence and comparative intangibility, Auvalire crosses her arms in front of her chest regardless, taking a few steps back in reflex. Julian is undeterred; extending his arm past hers, he reaches deep within her body.

 

For Julian, the soul before him is a being of pure spirit – unable to offer any physical resistance no matter how palpable her appearance. After all, there is only air. He tightens his grasp on the source of magic within her soul, and closes his eyes.

 

“Demise.”

 

As if on cue, the light about them is suddenly extinguished. A distinct power swirls in his right palm, its shape contorting and coalescing.

 

Auvalire feels a peculiar sensation.

 

It is the first time that the girl has, in a manner of speaking, allowed a man to “enter” her proximity. [4] Needless to say, she is both anxious and a little awkward.  A rising warmth, however, brings her indescribable feelings of comfort; like an infernal tide wantonly crashing against her extremities, it stokes her fire hotter and hotter. With no recourse, Auvalire bites firmly into her lips in self-restraint. She feels a profound shudder from within; a fiery, savage energy erupts, destroying her few remaining shreds of reason.

 

“The time is now!”

 

 

 

[1] Holy adjective barrage, batman.

 

[2] i.e. eldest princess.

 

[3] “ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν, ἀποθνῄσκει νέος.” Menander, Dis Exapatōn. Plautus quips a similar phrase in the Bacchides – “quem di diligunt / adulescens moritur”.

 

[4] This whole section is mildly euphemistic, which is clear; but also disorganized and repetitive, which I have tried to reduce.

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Knight of Demise Chapter 6 summary

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