The prostrating followers immediately straightened up and looked at her in shock. Almost in unison, they began to speak.
"Don't abandon us!"
The sudden pitiful outcries could almost make Elania feel sorry for them. Almost. The fact that she was still naked and they hadn't offered her any clothes was a sticking point for her.
Unlike the others, the Bishop remained silent, but he couldn’t disguise the pained expression on his face either. Maybe his black book didn't have any suggestions on what to do in this instance.
Elania wasn't sure what her position really was... she desperately needed more information. She might have already made a huge mistake with her refusal, but something about the initial desperation of the lower-ranked members made her hope otherwise. Perhaps they would send her back to Earth or wake her up... although she wouldn’t hold her breath.
"Great Mistress, we did not summon you unprepared. We have much to offer you. In addition to our loyalty and obedience to your will..."
The Bishop gestured toward a dark wooden chest banded in metal. Two of the men rushed to the chest and then struggled to lift and bring it closer. When the lid opened, Elania expected a spill of gold coins, and she was correct. The majority of it was gold coins, but it was the captivating lights mixed with the precious metal that caught the eye.
‘Gems. Wait, no.’ Elania stared at the glittering stones and realized they were giving off their own internal light. Some brighter than others, but all of them possessed multiple hues that sparkled in the dim room. ‘Some kind of mana stones or something?’
Elania’s lack of reaction prompted an explanation by the Bishop. "Great Mistress, we know this must seem paltry considering the great wealth and abundance of mana shards in the demonic realm, but this represents years of our preparations so you might empower yourself quickly here on Eladu."
Elania decided she would play the role for them. Mainly because she was tired of being naked in front of the crowd.
"Remove the circle and give me some clothes, and I'll consider it."
Surprised and incredulous looks passed between the cultists, while the Bishop appeared shocked at her request. The silence that fell in the room was deafening.
Finally, the Bishop cleared his throat. "Great Mistress, I am but your humble future servant, but I have to ask... what is your name?" he asked apologetically.
Had her demand somehow given her away? Surely they didn't expect her to stay in the nude forever, and hell would freeze over if that was what they wanted! Maybe... they couldn't remove the circle without a contract? Or was it something else she had said?
They all looked at her expectantly, and a defeated thought whisked by. ‘Well, I doubt I could keep tricking them forever that I'm some Demon Queen. I should just tell them the truth.’
"Elania. My name is Elania."
She watched their faces for a reaction, and—much to her surprise—most looked relieved or excited.
The Bishop nodded and lowered his head. "I'm sorry for doubting you, Dark Queen Elaniaonbe'tila. I beg your forgiveness. I lack the power to remove the barrier without you signing a contract."
"I can help with that," said a voice from the hall, and everyone's head whipped around toward the entrance.
Elania’s eyes widened when she took stock of the newcomer. He was tall and broad-shouldered, clad in silvery-white plate trimmed with gold, complete with a full winged helmet. He had his sword drawn, and the blade gave off its own blue-hued light. She felt her breath catch in her chest when she noted red dripping down the tip. The blade had been recently used.
All of a sudden, the cultists snapped out of their haze, and a myriad of chants erupted. The thought that was he was here to rescue her was quickly dismissed. ‘He's here to kill me!’
Multiple orbs of different types of elements flung themselves toward the charging knight, but most of them missed or were useless as they struck and dissipated on the polished metal.
The cold fear filled Elania to the core. She didn't want to die, but she was at a loss of what to do, being naked and trapped in the circle.
The Bishop finished his incantation and pointed his staff at the man. Darkness sucked out the light in the room as a dark purple-hued tentacle rose from the floor and swung for the knight. He didn't seem to care as he continued forward. At the last second his blade flashed up and cleaved through the ethereal limb.
A second tentacle appeared and tried to slap the holy-knight-maybe-a-paladin, but a second slash took care of it just as quickly. Then he collided with the Bishop. Staff met sword, and sparks suddenly flew as the two objects resisted each other. Magical weapons? Elania thought the Bishop was putting up a good showing, the knight was a head taller and encased in metal, but the Bishop didn't give an inch.
As if the Paladin had heard her thought and sought to dispel it a gauntleted fist flashed through the space between the locked weapons and smashed into the Bishop's face. He flew back, and the horned skull flew off his head. The old man bouncing off the ground in a nasty impact.
‘Super strength?’ The thought was numb, and Elania was horrified as the knight then turned toward her and approached the barrier. He was getting dangerously close. Small bursts of the weaker magic orbs continued to hail down on him from the cultists, but they didn’t faze him. Raising his sword, he swung it through the air at the circle.
The blade stopped, catching in an invisible barrier for a moment before a bright light flared up from the indentations on the floor. The blood in the channels rapidly dried up into a mist and then nothingness before the light flickered and finally died completely.
Then he stepped over the empty circle. "Demon, you can show your power before I send you back."
If she had any powers to show, she would have appreciated the gesture, but Elania could only shake her head and take a few steps backward, trying to keep the distance between them. Another step back, and she lost her footing as she slipped on one of the pillows. A yelp escaped her as she fell backward across the now dead circle.
Elania struggled to get back to her feet, but she wasn’t fast enough. She went completely still as the cool tip of the blade pressed against her left breast. All she could do was look up at the metal-clad man.
Now that he was towering over her, he appeared even larger. Suddenly, the sword's pressure surged painfully, and she retreated until her back was fully pressed against the cold stone floor. In her daze, she thought she let out a frightened whimper, but his voice came out clearly.
"Eziel?" The confusion and question in his voice were evident.
The man paused and withdrew the blade for a moment before pressing it to her throat and then drug the metal across it. At first, she thought he had intended to cut through it, but the utter dullness to the blade saved her. The knight seemed confused and began to poke and prod her with the sword less than gently.
Elania had no idea how long that lasted. She felt tremors shake her body as the bastard continued to torture her with the length of steel. Thankfully, she was rescued when a whip-like crack erupted from behind the knight as a tentacle slammed into his back and sent him flying through the air and into a wall with a loud crash.
‘He totally deserved it.’
The impact left the whole room shaking as plaster, dirt, and dust fell from the ceiling. Elania coughed as she tried to regroup herself. The source of the attack was evident, and the whole room had filled up with dozens of the large tentacle arms. On the other side, the Bishop had gotten back to his feet and was waving his skull-topped staff around.
"Kill the Lightbringer!"
The command came out in a hoarse angry voice, and a volley of fiery red orbs flew into the cloud of dust, surrounding the area where the knight had crashed into the wall. Elania had no clue how he could still be alive. That kind of impact was surely enough to kill anyone.
‘I have to get out of here.’
No one was paying attention to her anymore, and she was no longer trapped. Quickly, she got to her feet and ran for the exit, only pausing when she saw one of the shining stones. Acting on impulse, she snatched it up as she was passing by.
There was shouting and dust swirling everywhere, but somehow, she managed to cover most of the distance without any problem. Elania was about to reach the corridor when one of the cultists stepped in front of her and held out his arms in an attempt to block her.
"Stop, Mistress! We—"
She didn't even have to think about it. Without slowing down, she drew back her hand with the glowing stone and slammed it into the man's face. She had expected to cause some damage but didn’t anticipate his immediate collapse.
[ ???? - Human - Lvl 33 has been neutralized!]
[You have gained multiple levels!]
[You have gained a level in Unarmed Combat!]
Ignoring the screen, Elania dashed into the hall, leaving the chaotic fight behind her.