Minutes before a King fell, a certain servant communicated with her Master as she gazed to where she was going to go.
“I see…of course she did. And while it is a shame about the Emissary, we can now confirm that the King of Storms is connected to the Goddess."
A smile crept up in the face of said Master as she received what should have been considered as shocking news.
Furthermore, she spoke as if victory was but a fact.
"Regardless, what she has done shall be undone by her death. And it is then that we shall obtain our boon. In the meantime, proceed with the other objective, Brynn."
But those were only words, for she knew in her heart that her path towards victory was finally obscured, uncertain.
That was the reason for her smile.
One that remained as she turned to look at her forces and found them ready.
Lesser Dragon Lords, Wyverns, Undead, Monsters and Lizardmen.
All of them were commanded by those Lesser Dragon Lords bathed in her power and that of her personal servant, which gave their scales the unique coloration of violet and white.
And while they kept the ‘lesser’ prefix and their horns remained smaller than those of their Master, they were still the closest to become full-fledged Dragon Lords, thus they held considerable power.
As such, no ordinary veteran would be able to best them, let alone a normal knight or soldier.
Then again, they were all kneeling before her, waiting in excitement.
After all, it was the first time in centuries that they had seen their Master be eager for battle.
And they did not have to wait too long, for Violet extended her hand as if waiting for something to be given to her and one of her commanders immediately presented her a barbed spear.
Her barbed spear.
One that seemingly looked like an old and dried wooden spear until she took it, and a violet aura began to emanate from it, scraping away at such appearance and revealing its true form.
A dark violet ominous form which had the shapes of many dragons carved onto its shaft.
Moreover, it looked ready to take the life of the one that would be its opponent.
Thus, with everything ready, she summoned a grimoire from her personal space, her library.
It was a grimoire that seemed elegant at first glance, for it had a mainly black body with fine metallic edges. But if one were to look closer at it, one would discover that the ‘black’ part was not truly a color, but a void and the metallic edges were but the teeth of said maw.
Moreover, space itself seemed to warp around it as it floated into position and opened itself for its Master.
Then, she put her hand on top of its pages and fed it her great magical power, bathing the area in a violet hue.
"Grimoire that knows no distance, [Spatiophagos]! Let me befall on my enemy in an instant! [Grand Teleportation]!"
With that, she and her army disappeared in a flash of violet light.
At the same time as such call between Master and Servant, Prince Licht was grateful to himself for leaving the venue when he did, as he watched everything unfold from a hidden room in the palace.
A room that he had found years ago by accident and no one else knew about.
Among the things he found inside of it, there was a chest that contained a map of the hidden side of the palace, a weapon, and a journal.
Said journal was the one from where he learned the true purpose of the Kyrie Kingdom and what lied under it.
Of course, knowing how useful such room could be for him, he quickly turned it into his secret base and refuge.
Not only that, but he had even installed in it many crystals enchanted with high grade surveillance magic, which let him monitor everything that happened in every single part of the palace.
Be it the secret vault or the King's chambers, there was no place he could not see.
At least that was the case until a few days ago, for the surveillance spells in the underground cave had been utterly broken by some unknown force.
In any case, Licht could safely say that his father's plan had gone awry, and it was not because of his own plan, which did involve making his Father's fail, but because of someone else's plan.
The same plan that had forced him to make a gamble in the mere moments of his Father’s entrance.
Such gamble was to either stay at the venue and try to salvage what he could of his own plan, or to leave the area and just let whatever Lady Argento was planning for his Father happen.
He chose the latter and it paid off.
For when the King activated his teleportation circle, it did not work as intended. Instead of teleporting everyone to the underground cave, it only teleported the King, Hilde and...Lady Argento's group.
Which made it quite clear to Licht that Lady Argento was the one behind such thing and that that was only the first part of her plan.
Indeed, as its second part started immediately by the hand of the Head of the Church.
Or perhaps it would be more fitting to say by her voice rather than her hand, for she revealed everything related to New Glory to the guests.
Something that also showed Licht that Lady Argento was not bluffing when she told him that she knew everything.
And that was not all, she also was obviously behind Lorelei Rupee’s public confession, as well as the testimonies of two Baronetesses and the mountain of evidence that Her Holiness had.
Thus, sealing New Glory's fate.
Following that, some guests and staff revealed themselves to be Paladins, who proceeded to arrest every single member of New Glory in the venue.
In a way, it was pitiful, for they did not have any time to react, let alone put up a fight.
After all, they were utterly disadvantaged against the Exalted Paladins of the Head of the Church.
Still, that also meant that no blood had been spilt, preventing the birth of a cycle of revenge and hatred created by said blood.
"This ball ended up being the silver platter in which my Father gifted New Glory's members to Lady Argento…"
So murmured Prince Licht as he acknowledged how foolish his Father had been to put everyone in the same place.
"He was so sure that he was going to win...he never realized that Lady Argento had already seen through him...just like she did with me."
A wry smile appeared on his face as he said that, but it disappeared almost immediately, for one of his surveillance crystals had picked up the presence of another group of Paladins within the palace.
They were searching for him.
"What are we going to do now, Licht?"
Asked Mary, who was clearly tense about the whole situation.
"We are safe here since they will not find this place. At least not for as long as it matters. So, we will wait until we can enact the rest of our plan. Besides, she should be looking for us too after seeing what is happening. And if she is as perceptive as I hope her to be, then she will find this place."
"Licht...I'm having a hard time believing that the rest of the plan will work at all."
Before such words, Licht turned to Mary in anger, and found her genuinely concerned, which made him look down. Then, he proceeded to breathe in and out, letting out such blinding emotion.
"You know that New Glory was never the main objective of our plan, and while I understand how frustrating it feels to see it fall not by our hands, we must focus on what we can still do. We must focus on our true obje—hm?”
In that moment, something in the corner of his eye caught his attention, so much so that he went silent.
No...it was not something.
"...ice-based traversal? There should not be a spell like that...unless..."
So said Licht, clearly surprised at what he had seen. At least before he began to ponder about it.
Meanwhile, Mary was speechless, for she had seen it too, a person coming out of a suddenly appearing icicle.
A person…that was familiar to them.
But that was not all.
"Licht, the place that hall leads to is..."
"Change of plans, Mary. We are going. Now."
So declared the Prince with a clear tone of urgency as he sprung up from his seat and went to the old looking chest that was in the room.
"What about 'we will wait until we can enact the rest of our plan'? Too prudent for you now?"
Asked Mary with a tinge of her usual sarcasm.
"As I have learned throughout this week, nothing goes completely according to plan no matter if that plan took five years of work or a mere minute. I can only hope that we can encounter her while we are moving towards that place."
With that, he opened the chest, revealing a simple looking sword with a simple looking leather sheath and grabbed it.
"Ok, then what if Miss Sunshine over there opens that vault while we are trying to arrive there?”
Asked Mary as she grabbed a strange looking red sword that was hanging on the wall. One that looked more like a big sized triangular knife than a sword.
At the same time, Licht proceeded to pour a bit of his mana into an old rune that was carved on one of the room’s walls, revealing a secret tunnel, which they entered immediately.
Not only that, but they started dashing towards the place their objective was trying to reach.
“She won’t be able to. That specific vault will take time to open, regardless if it is her. Even more so without my Father’s key since she will have to deal with my countermeasures. And forcing it open with magic is also out of the question, for it is made of Moon Tears in its entirety.”
"Ah, right. She is going to get old before breaking into that. That said, I always thought that you went overboard with that. No, you go overboard with every measure you take, but specially that. Also, stop it with the creepy smile."
Before Mary’s snarky words, Licht sighed and shook his head. But his eyes showed that he was relieved to see that Mary had returned to her normal self.
Even a small, normal smile appeared on his face before it vanished as he replied.
"Anyone would do that if they knew what that Black Mineral really is. Which also means that we need to stop whatever she intends to do with it.”
So said Licht as both continued running, but not before changing tunnels just in case the Paladins that were looking for them were also inside the tunnels.
Silence reigned for a moment before Mary spoke once more, doing so with a serious tone.
“Have you thought why your Father is not with her? Perhaps…”
"He stopped being my Father since what happened five years ago. So, whatever happened to him down there is...nothing but the consequence of his actions."
With that, silence reigned once more as they traversed through the hidden side of the palace.
A side composed of a web of tunnels and the desolated halls that connected them, making it seem as if the palace had its own private labyrinth.
Of course, it was not like the workers would get lost inside the palace or something like that.
The 'usual' palace was simple and easy to traverse, but its hidden side, on the other hand, was quite the conundrum to figure out.
Unless…someone had a map of it, like Licht and Mary.
Said map was an old one, and as such it did not show that which was added after its creation. But it still provided them with more than enough information for easy, unimpeded traversal, so much so that they arrived at their destination quite quickly.
And when they did, they found it to be unusually cold. So cold that Licht’s breath was more than visible as he let out such word.
"Licht, over there."
Meanwhile, Mary, who seemed unaffected by the cold, gave the area a quick look and found what she was looking for just as quickly, which she pointed at as she called out to the Prince.
It was a single, faintly glowing icicle.
An icicle that was coming out of one of the walls further down the hallway.
But that was not all, for instead of melting and disappearing, it had frozen the area surrounding it.
Of course, both Licht and Mary immediately walked towards it with the intention of figuring out more about it, specifically, the mana it was made from.
"This mana...as I suspected...Hilde is a servant of a Dragon Lord. The same one who attacked the capital five years ago. That must be why she had so much unusual knowledge such as the location of the sealing room and the power of the Black Mineral...Evil God's blood..."
Said Licht as his eyes widened at the confirmation of his years of suspicions.
At the same time, Mary grimaced angrily as she said that. Not only that, but her ire was strong enough to cause her eyes to change from human to those of an ogre.
It was then that…
"I finally found you...! You know how difficult it is to lock on to your mana trail after years of not seeing you and with only vague memories of it?! You are lucky that she is with you!”
…a female voice came from behind them, which startled them and made them turn around as they reached for their swords.
Something that they stopped doing when they realized who she was.
"Euphy…look at you…you are all grown up…"
And so, Licht and Mary looked at Euphemia, who was dressed as a maid, with eyes so full of love and joy that no other emotion could come close to it. They were the eyes that only true family could make.
"Indeed, I did grow up, big sis, brother.”
Eyes that Euphemia showed back at them, along with the warmest of smiles as she continued speaking.
“Although, you would not be this surprised if you had not forced me to live in Deamis for your crazy plan to work, brother. A plan which I now doubt. And…don’t think that I’m not mad at you for what you made Big Brother go through. Even if you made sure to plan everything so that he would survive long enough to be healed by his men. So, I’m beating you up after everything is done, understood, brother?”
It was at that moment that they both understood that the sweet, innocent, and playful child they knew had become someone that could intimidate them with a light change of tone and a beautiful smile.
"I...understand Euphemia, but now we have no time."
So said Licht, shaking off his little sister's intimidation.
"I know. I can see that there is someone related to Eternal Winter here. Their mana trail is similar to one of her subordinates...it’s Hilde, right, brother?"
As Euphemia said that, her gaze went from the icicle to the hallway, following what she could see as a faint, icy blue ‘cord’, which showed her the path its owner had taken.
A path she was more than intent in following as she started walking past Licht and Mary, who soon followed her.
"You sound like you are 'acquainted' with a subordinate of Eternal Winter."
Asked Licht clearly curious about his sister's words.
"Hmm. Let's just say I had a strange time while coming here."
Mary and Licht could not help but raise an eyebrow before such words, something that caused Euphemia to giggle.
"Euphy, why are you so relaxed…? Even if we have Licht's plan, she is still a servant of a Dragon Lord...it will not be easy, we might even die..."
So said Mary with a tone full of concern.
"Oh, I know. Believe me, I really do. And even with all the training I did while coming here, I am still sure that I am not strong enough to beat one on my own...not without my magic...and that is...complicated. But...! If everything fails, I am sure that Big Brother will not let us die."
As she said that, she jumped forward and turned around while making a big, confident smile at them, to which Licht shook his head.
"I do not think so; he is probably in another place awaiting orders...that woman is likely planning to only use him after the dust settles."
Licht tried to bring his sister back to reality with such skeptical words, but rather than working, they made her laugh.
"Hehe…if I am right, then you two will be quite surprised at how close 'he' is."
While Mary and Licht were both intrigued and confused as to what she was implying with those words, they did not have time to say anything about them.
After all, they had arrived at their destination.
One that invited them in as its massive wooden door was open, revealing the room where the vault was located, and standing at the center of said room was woman with hair like the sunrise and fair skin.
"Oh, it seems I have been discovered. And by the Prince no less! Did you wish to dance with me that badly, Prince Licht? Hm? Is that Princess Euphemia? My, you surely have grown to be a fine lady! Your beauty stands out even in that outfit. Your Father would have liked to see you...it’s shame that he is not here. Now, if only the last of you siblings was here...that would certainly be..."
A sudden surge of killing intent filled the area the moment Hilde Val spoke of the eldest sibling of Licht and Euphemia, her voice even turned deeper for a moment.
"...but alas, I will wait patiently. Now, I suppose you are here to stop me from taking the rest of the Black Mineral with me?"
And then, it vanished as her voice and attitude seemingly returned to normal.
"You are correct. But we are also here to get rid of the Dragon Lord's servant that has been behind everything since the very beginning."
With that, the three of them stepped forward.
Mary transformed into her ogre form as she pointed her triangular blade at Hilde.
Meanwhile, Euphemia summoned a pair of scepters from her storage bracelet.
Flames danced on top of one them while space contorted on top of the other.
And lastly, Licht firmly grabbed the handle of the simple looking sword that he carried, unsheathed it, and pointed its blade at Hilde, causing her eyes to widen a bit as her gaze fell on it.
"To think that you would even bring a blessed weapon...and an old one at that. Oh prince, you really intend to kill me…hehe."
After such amused giggle left her lips, Hilde smiled eerily as the human light in her eyes began to slowly disappear from them…
"Very well then, I shall show you how utterly inferior you are...all in a...short…dance."
…turning icy blue as she closed the massive wooden door behind them with a flick of her finger and froze it completely, all while releasing an intense pressure and killing intent.
And as such things assailed them, Licht, Mary, and Euphemia knew that they only had one shot at beating her…just one.
Thus, they charged forward.
Meanwhile, inside one of the suites of a luxurious inn, a group of maids waited for their Master's signal.
One of them was a serious looking woman with straight dark green hair and a piercing gaze.
The word 'cool beauty' would pop up in the mind of anyone who saw her as she was looking at the horizon from the balcony of said suite.
All as the wind blew softly, making her hair sway lightly.
Then, her eyes grew sharper as something grabbed her attention.
"Hey, are you listening to me?"
So asked the slim brown-haired maid that was with her in the balcony, prompting the cool maid to turn and stare at her.
The cool maid’s stare was so intense that it ended up making the brown-haired maid nervous, and then the former finally spoke.
"What were you saying, Dog?"
"Keh! Listen to others when they are talking to you, would you?! Also, don't call me that!! It's Sophie! SO-PHIE!!"
Said Sophie clearly annoyed at the green-haired maid, who tilted her head lightly.
"But why? Lyra calls you that."
"That...! She is only saying it to tease me as revenge for beating her in a fight! Wa-wait! That's not the point! I was asking you if you would be able to detect the forces of Violet Death with you being a hunter and all!"
So exclaimed the still annoyed Sophie while she moved her hands in a manner that looked as if she wanted to strangle the hunter maid.
"Really? Because it seems like a friend nickname to me. Aren't we friends...? We have been eating together..."
With that, the hunter maid's expression turned sad and hurt, or at least that is what she thought it looked like.
"What is up with that face?! Its creepy!! Stop it!” “
But in reality, it was a face that made Sophie shiver, so much so that she tried to not look at the hunter maid.
“We are friends, Jules! We are friends! There! I said it! So, stop it with that face!!"
Yet, that proved to be useless, for the hunter maid followed Sophie's line of sight with her swift movements, just like a puppy. A very strange looking puppy. One who smiled satisfied when she listened to those words.
"To answer your question Dog, yes. After Master gave me this incredibly cool-looking body, my senses have become sharper. If there is a sudden change in the scents that come from the city or the forest, I would notice it. Even more with the wind blowing towards us—!"
Sophie twitched a bit when Jules called her 'Dog', but she immediately gave up in trying to make her stop as that was not important, whatever had caused her to stop talking and make a truly serious expression was.
"What is it, Jules?"
So asked Sophie even if she knew that there was only one possible answer.
With that, Jules’ ears and eyes began to glow with a wild green color as she focused strongly on the forest near the horizon, for something was going on over there.
"It stopped...no...it was stopped!"
Sophie's eyes widened at Jules' words but then something else took her attention.
"Jules, those clouds! They don't look normal!"
They were black clouds that stood out even in the moonless sky and they were all moving in the same direction.
A direction that Jules quickly followed with her gaze to the same location she was focusing on and then she saw it.
That unique magical glow that she had grown accustomed to see thanks to her experience as a Knight and most recently, her Master.
"They just teleported here!"
So exclaimed Jules as her expression turned fierce.
And almost as if reacting to her words, the crests that symbolized their pacts with their Master started shining, prompting them to quickly turn around and go inside the suite, where Luca and the others were already waiting for them.
"This is...the signal..."
Her shy expression was gone, and instead she had the expression of someone in charge.
"Get ready...for teleportation..."
Her voice was still as low as always, but for some reason it carried more weight than ever.
Jules nodded immediately and joined the other Maid-Knights, and Lyra, in the already made formation.
Meanwhile, Luca only needed to say Sophie’s name for her to understand what she meant.
The time had come for her to carry the burden of the extremely important role given to her.
To show her Master and everyone that she was worthy of that trust.
That she was indeed Sophie, the Knight of the Ever-Burning Will.
And she was not going to fail.
'I was never able to use this skill before, but now...!'
Thus, with such confident thoughts in her mind and a smile on her face, she started.
"Kekeke...everyone! I will be stablishing the communication relay now! [Great Parallel Transmission: Ever-Burning Will]!"
Suddenly, a kaleidoscopic aura enveloped Sophie's head and then it concentrated on the sides of it, taking the form of something unknown to any of them, for such objects did not exist in their world.
Alas, their Master would have described them as a ' set of kaleidoscopic fantasy headphones and microphone'.
Said things then appeared on every single one of the Maid-Knights, even those that still waited for their teleportation inside the castle.
The strange apparatuses stayed there for a moment before seemingly disappearing, but they all felt as if those things were still there.
"With this I have connected everyone! If you need to communicate with someone just say their name and you will be instantly connected with them! I know that it might be distracting at first, but I'm confident that this will help us coordinate with more efficiency!"
So said Sophie with a certain tinge of excitement in her voice.
Meanwhile, everyone else looked at her with eyes that resembled those of an elder sibling who was proud of their little sister.
"Keh! Stop it with those eyes!!"
Even the ones in the castle had the same expression despite her complaints.
Moments later, several magical circles appeared under the Maid-Knights, for their Master had begun to teleport them to the battlefield.
Thus, the battle that would become legend drew near.
To be continued...(Cue illustration of Licht, Mary and Euphemia, ready to fight against Hilde Va) (Is she really just a servant or something more? WHAT A MYSTERY!!!)
Merry christmas everyone! I hope that you all enjoyed the chapter! Thank you all for the joys, the comments, the support, everything! I'm blessed to have you as my readers!
And as a christmas gift, here's Santa Auros by none other than LARH! He wishes all of you a merrry a christmas too! Also...SHE LOOKS AMAZING!
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Special thanks from the bottom of my heart to: EmbraceTheSleeb, Lord-Hollow, YukisoraRin, LordInquisitorSteele, Anon, Anon2, Tikku, Teresa, Ayth, Knight_Redundant, Schoookie, sumdudeguy, pokio and greatred!
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See you all tomorrow!