Ivy needed the magic core of a [Ground Dragon] because it was only a month until the various academies of the Coristel continent opened their doors for new students. Ivy was planning to sign up for the number one academy on the continent, the Olsyvia Academy, the academy was split into five campuses: East, West, South, North, and Central.
The East campus for those who had outstanding talent, West for those of royal birth, South for members of the clergy, North for those of noble birth, while the Central campus was for those of common birth. Normally Ivy would’ve entered the North campus due to her birth but she had wanted to transfer to the East campus. Students of the East campus were exempt from their families’ control and obligations while they still attended the academy due to them being considered ‘exceptional’.
What Ivy wanted was just that, in the recent years the adults of her family had been considering a political marriage with another big family; if she didn’t act now, she was very likely to be married off as a political pawn.
The East campus was exceptionally hard and Ivy’s movements had been watched by her family, the teacher in charge of assessments had some relation to her family and had purposely given her an extra hard task to scare her away from the East campus. The other students who had applied for the East campus were at most assigned to hunt monsters like [Earth Bears] and other C-class monsters, it was easy to see how unfair it was that Ivy was assigned A-class monster, [Ground Dragon].
After hearing about the unfair treatment that Ivy received, Bella was furious. She had already made a backup plan in case they failed in [Ground Dragon] hunting, it was to find a way to pull Ivy to her side as there were still 9 empty thrones in the Dark Sanctuary’s Demon King Hall, even if Ivy’s power was inadequate to inherit one of the thrones, there were other positions that Bella could give her.
In front of them, there was an entire herd of [Ground Dragons] and Bella figured that it was very likely that they wouldn’t be able to succeed but she didn’t want to give up before even trying so she had gathered the party’s members to discuss their next course of action.
“Kriss, can you break through the defences of a [Ground Dragon]?”
“I can but… with so many of them, as soon as we attack one the rest will probably swarm us and that’ll be quite troublesome.”
“Nee-sama, why does it have to be us that fight the [Ground Dragons]? There seems to be a more powerful monster within these forests, we could lure it into the [Ground Dragon] herd and we just secretly wait on the side while they fight.”
Noesha’s words enlightened everyone, this plan was usable, though risky. If they accidentally brought back something too strong, those who acted as ‘bait’ could be in danger. To be cautious, Bella decided that only Kriss and herself would lure out the other monster while the rest of the party remained here and kept an eye on the [Ground Dragons].
Apart from Susan and Ivy, the other members of the party didn’t have any problems with Bella’s decision, most likely because they knew her true power. After Kriss confirming that she had no problems as well, Susan and Ivy finally gave their approval for Bella’s plan.
“You really do have a dragon-slaying blade, Kriss!”
Seeing the strange pale white sword in Kriss’ hand, Bella was rather envious of Kriss’ ‘cheats, if only they were able to ‘exchange’. Kriss was currently wielding ‘Dragon’s Elegy’, a sword that had slain countless dragons, previously wielded by 【Dragon Killer】 Arnold, a hero renowned for the number of dragons that he slew. His final battle was a terrifyingly powerful demon king who had effortlessly cut him down with a standard-issue steel blade.
Kriss casually introduced the sword’s origin, the more that Bella heard the more suspicious she got. Kriss knew a little too much about the sword, being able to remember minute details like how many strikes it took for the demon king to cut down the hero. After knowing that Kriss may have a ‘dark side’, Bella suspected that Kriss herself may have been the terrifyingly powerful demon king that slew Arnold, she might just not have remembered it herself.
As there were only two of them, Kriss was a lot more open-minded, probably because Bella already knew about her ‘cheat’. As they had no support or any way of pinpointing any monsters, the two of them travelled towards the centre of the Unnamed Forest, light novel MCs almost always find high-level monsters the first time they travelled into the central regions of a forest, so Bella and Kriss decided to give the old gimmick a shot.
In another part of the forest, a river of blood was being shed. The party that Octavio Irene had led into the forest had been ambushed and encircled by zombies. Even though the average member of the party was stronger than that of Leonard’s party previously, as they also had not brought any clerics with them; it was hard for them to escape their fate.
While Irene was a holy knight, there were several necromancers on the other side casting dark magic on her party which didn’t have any clerics to fight back with and it didn’t take very long for all her subordinates to die. Irene had managed to hold out till now with her holy knight’s 《Dou Qi》, her armour had been damaged beyond repair and the necromancers’ 《Corpse Poison》 had already seeped into several of her wounds, causing her to feel unbearable pain.
The zombies encircling Irene weren’t giving it all, she had figured this out long ago. These zombies moved with extra-wide motions that covered much of the field of view for the zombies and necromancers behind them. If these zombies had worked like they did on her subordinates, Irene would have perished long ago.
Bella’s zombie commander had been secretly giving commands to its subordinates who were encircling Irene and had purposely made them not kill her. As a rather intelligent monster, it was able to recognize that Irene shared a lot of physical features with demon king Bella-sama who had summoned it, the two were very likely related by blood. Even if the two of them weren’t relatives, there were credible rumours spreading within the Dark Sanctuary’s upper echelons that Bella-sama had a taste for females, if it brought back such a beauty for her, Bella-sama would definitely reward it more than if it had only brought back some treasures.
The zombie commander sneaked a glance towards the altar not too far from it where the grey-robed necromancers were still laughing sinisterly, probably something related to the treatment of the beauty knight as they were eyeing her up with strange gazes. These pretentious humans, I’ll send them up to their maker soon enough, the millennia of zombies being controlled by necromancers ends today.
“Heheh, I didn’t expect to be able to find such appetizing prey here, without those bastards from the Church of Light, our subordinates can deal with these holy knights with ease.”
“The Church of Light has fought with our Church of Darkness for so long and had always held the upper hand, these holy knights were their biggest accomplice. If it wasn’t for the Church of Light’s Salo faction secretly providing us with intel, we would have been eradicated long ago.”
“This beauty seems to be barely an adult, let’s turn her into a zombie knight! It’s our chance now as the unholy maiden isn’t here!”
The necromancers conversed openly, completely unaware that a zombie behind them was currently recording everything that they said onto a piece of paper, they were also unaware that several zombies were stealthily making their way towards them.
Irene was finally unable to stand and dropped to a knee while forcefully propping herself up with her sword. This pose was the same one that Felia had died in just a few months ago, but Irene would prove to be more fortunate than her late sister.
Seeing that Irene was no longer to resist, the front row of the encircling zombies stopped their movements, blocking the way of the zombies behind them who couldn’t do anything about it. This was the difference between intelligent zombies and those who weren’t, zombies without intellect wouldn’t attack their peers while the intelligent ones who were currently blocking them would. If their commander ever gave the order, they would cut down their peers behind them without hesitation.
“What’s wrong, these zombies aren’t responding to commands! Hurry up and attack, bring me that knight’s head…” the necromancers were about to give the command for the zombies to continue the attack but were cut short by two figures rushing their way, a swordswoman and a female knight. The swordswoman with flowing silver hair waved the golden sword in her hand and the zombies nearest to her were instantly cut into pieces.
What was stranger was that quite a few zombies had run away from the two girls as soon as they had shown themselves. On their way, they purposely tripped and ran over the zombies who didn’t run. The densely-packed defence line formed by zombies had an opening forcefully made by the ‘traitor’ zombies, letting the two girls reach the altar where the necromancers were with relatively little trouble.
“Quickly Jimmy, summon skeletons, there is something wrong with these zombies, we…” A necromancer was just about to turn around when a zombie not too far behind him pounced him and bear hugged him from behind, its dirty hands firmly clasped over the necromancer’s mouth, stopping him from chanting any spells.
Right after, the zombie forcefully twisted its arms, breaking the necromancer’s neck. As the necromancer fell to the ground his eyes were open wide as if he still hadn’t understood why or how a zombie that he had summoned was the one that killed him.
Seeing the death of their companion, the remaining necromancers quickly activated flight magic to take to skies and assess the situation. Right as they got off the ground, several zombies grabbed them by their ankles and pulled them to the ground. Zombies had strength far exceeding that of humans while necromancers were absolute rubbish at close range, they were destined to be no match for zombies in a melee. As soon as the necromancers hit the ground, they were swarmed by zombies who used their various weapons to fiercely stab at the grounded necromancers.
From a distance, Bella watched the necromancers being stabbed to death without surprise as she was able to recognize that over half of these zombies were those that were summoned by her previously but were gathered by those ‘death-seeking’ necromancers. She and Kriss had originally planned to travel deeper into the forest to lure stronger monsters but had run into the large mass of zombies.
Bella recognized the banner flying over the encircled humans, it was that of the Octavian Empire(Knights), even though Felia was already considered dead to the empire, it was still the homeland of Felia and her feelings had influenced Bella ever since Bella had taken her body.
After seeing that the zombies had retreated, Kriss didn’t pursue them and swapped the ‘Darkness’ Torment’ in her hands for the ‘Dragon’s Elegy’ once again. Around Bella, Kriss was able to switch swords without care or worry. While alone, she had been afraid of exposing herself during fights with others so had to use the same sword from start to finish.
Besides Bella, Kriss didn’t have such worries. In her opinion, the two of them had already seen each other’s ‘true self’ back at the river head and there was nothing more to hide from each other. Gradually, Kriss learned to like being around Bella, where she didn’t need to disguise herself anymore. She had already decided that she would find an excuse to stay beside Bella, it was just that she hadn’t had the opportunity to speak to Bella yet.
Bella right now didn’t know anything about Kriss’ thoughts, she had walked up to the female knight that was surrounded by zombies earlier and looked at the beauty knight.
This female knight with tall stature and golden hair was the 1st princess of the Octavian Empire(Knights) and first of the ‘Four Royal Beauty Holy Knights’, Octavio Irene, the older sister of Bella’s substitute, Felia. Irene was the strongest among the four princess knights but had her spot as dragon knight stolen by Lisha who had gotten cheats out of nowhere.
In Bella’s memory, while Irene didn’t interact much with Felia, but at least she didn’t regard Felia with disdain. As sisters, secretly she was actually really caring towards Felia. The princesses of the empire had to be more mature than normal girls their age as their unscrupulous father had already pawned off all their sisters of marrying age in political marriages, leaving behind only the four princesses with the cultivation of holy knight.
The four sisters were all holy knights and they would definitely bring a higher price than the other princesses with low cultivation, Octavio XII was waiting for suitable ‘buyers’ to sell off his remaining daughters to. Irene knew what her father was planning but couldn’t do anything about it as according to the Octavian Empire’s(Knights) traditions, holy knights still had to follow the emperor’s commands while dragon knights had a little more freedom as the emperor couldn’t force dragon knights to do something that they didn’t want to, unless the empire would fall if they didn’t, clearly political marriage didn’t fall under something that would cause the fall of the empire.
All was well until Lisha suddenly came out of nowhere and stole her ‘rightful’ position of dragon knight. After the competition, Felia wasn’t the only one depressed, Irene was also depressed for quite a while. After all, Irene and Luce were of legitimate descent and there was already an estrangement between them and their little sisters Felia and Lisha, who were of illegitimate birth. Irene was quite angry after Lisha had taken what would have belonged to her.
While Felia hadn’t even finished the fight before Lisha was prematurely judged to be the winner after showing off her ability in magic but at the very least she had gotten to fight. While Irene hadn’t even arrived on the fighting field before being told that Lisha had already won and the other contestants were automatically disqualified. This had struck a hard blow to Irene as at this time Lisha still had not formed a contract with the [Golden Dragon] and her combat abilities were at the most equal to that of Felia’s. If they were to seriously fight, Lisha at the time was definitely unable to beat Irene.
After this, Irene completely strayed away from Lisha, and as Felia was an illegitimate daughter just like Lisha, she also became someone that Irene despised, even though Felia hadn’t actually done anything to warrant her despise. The relationship between the four sisters had been broken, with Luce unconsciously avoiding Felia and Lisha under Irene’s influence. Every time she thought about this, Bella cried out for the injustice dealt to her substitute, Felia. It was all that girl, Lisha’s fault, yet Felia also got dragged into it simply because she shared the common trait of being an illegitimate daughter.
After returning from the memories, Bella carefully studied Irene, Irene was the first girl taller than Bella that she had met in this world. If Felia’s memories were correct, Irene was only around a year over than Felia, meaning that she was only nearing the age of 18. If they were on Earth, Irene had still not yet reached adulthood.
Something that Bella had to mention was that amongst all the girls that Bella had seen, Irene was the one that most fitted the description of a female holy knight. Bella felt pangs of heartache as she looked at Irene who looked like a war goddess but was half-kneeled on the ground.
“You are… little Felia? Is this the afterlife? To be able to see you again.”
Irene opened her heavy eyelids and turned her sky blue irises towards Bella, recognizing her identity even though her consciousness was flickering.
“Irene…nee, it’s me, are you okay!? This isn’t the afterlife.”
“Little Felia, I… nevermind, it’s a blessing that you’re alright, it’s a shame that I can’t accompany…”
Bella hurried beside Irene and gently covered her mouth to prevent her from finishing her sentence. She wasn’t going to give Irene the chance to raise a ‘flag’ and get herself killed. The current Irene looked so similar to when Felia was dying, Bella wasn’t going to let history repeat itself.