Vol. 1: Chapter 93: Assistance

The thundering march of the undead army echoed in Zachariel’s ears.

It pulled him off his nightmare and returned to reality.

“Hah!”

`What was that?`

That mobile lump of flesh struck fear in his heart.

Even when its eyes weren’t around, its deep gaze could be felt from afar. 

Zachariel shook his head to rid himself of such a nightmarish scene.

Breathing deeply, he noticed that his hands were restricted and hung high up in the air.

Clang! Clang!

`Chains? Wait, it’s a bit too dark in here.`

He found himself in a dark room with barely any light coming from a torch on the sides.

His legs, albeit dressed in his uniform pants, could feel the coldness of the stone floor.

`I see. I’m imprisoned now.`

In front of him was a large metal door that didn’t have any openings.

There were straight and curved lines carved in the edges of the door.

Zachariel forgoes the notion of escaping for now.

Until he knew what was happening, it was best to behave.

The lines in the door lit up and opened.

3 people walked inside.

The leading figure was a handsome elven male.

A woman could see him as the perfect partner, while a man could find this person to be the friendliest brother around.

His glittering eyes were those of the stars in the dark starry night, whose gaze was as deep as space itself.

Although he carried a sword almost twice the size of his, his scabbard and strap handled its weight without budging as he walked towards Zachariel.

“You’re finally awake, Zachariel Strom.”, the man warmly greeted.

Zachariel felt like this guy was here to free him from imprisonment instead of being interrogated.

He stared at the two eldens behind the elven male.

One was a young woman with a carefree look on her face.

Zachariel wondered whether she cared much about him and the elven male, or not at all.

Her eyes moved sideways as her pointy ears fluttered up and down.

The other had a stern look on his face. He stared at Zachariel as if the young boy had done a great sin upon him.

His thick eyebrows made one not almost take his intimidating gaze seriously.

“You are?”, he asked the elven male.

“Call me Captain Knight Emil.”, he extended his hand, “Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize you were handcuffed.”, he chuckled in embarrassment.

The man behind Emil rolled his eyes.

“Just as the rumors say, you sure are an interesting person, Zachariel Strom.”

Zachariel narrowed his eyes, wondering what Emil implied by that.

“You sowed discord between the eldens and human empires a few days ago. Now, you wonder for yourself why you are stuck in this cold prison cell.”, Emil smiled.

“Is this your elden’s work?”, Zachariel asked.

“Well, logically yes. But it was not Thalanil nor us who did this to you. Anyway, we’re not here about that.”

“We’re here about you.”, Emil knelt on his left leg and stared at Zachariel’s eyes.

“About me?”

“You casted a mysterious spell 9 days ago in the public training area during your fight against your senior, didn’t you?”, Emil inquired.

“Yeah, what about that?”

“What about it is that it gave rise to the suspicion that you are secretly infiltrating the Great Human Imperium as a member of one of the dark underground factions.”

Zachariel then connected the dots himself.

“Then who imprisoned me? Shouldn’t I be resting in the Imperium Ward when I passed out?”

“Yes, you did. But one of the Imperium generals insisted that you would be locked down here in the Imperium Dungeon until you wake up to be interrogated.”

Emil realized something then smiled.

“Oh, and don’t ask me about who that general was. You’ll know it when the time comes.”

He chuckled, then his gaze turned serious.

“I know for myself that you are… not a member of the dark underground factions. But here lies the problem for you, Zachariel Strom.”

“Nobody in this Imperium can attest to your innocence, nor your criminality as well.”

“You should know your predecessors of this accusation lived their entire lives under this cold and dark place.”

“Those piles of bones on the left are evidence of that.”

Zachariel followed his direction and realized that what Emil said was true.

It was only then that he noticed the smell of rotting bones and flies buzzing above them.

Tap! Tap!

Zachariel looked at him.

Emil shrugged at Zachariel.

“Take my advice, kid. If you want to get out of here, you should fight Prince Kane a few hours from now, and do not accept Thalanil’s offer.”

Emil stood up and left, leaving the door ajar.

`9 days have passed. Shouldn’t the skirmish match be over then?`

Today was the 31st Day of Okton.

`No, maybe today would be the freshmen Prospects’ skirmish event.`

`I’m not in a condition to perfectly fight right now.`

He didn’t have his polearm with him.

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Instead, he checked out his cultivation.

In his head, he noticed small golden lights floating around his head.

They numbered in few, yet when he touched them, a connection with the world was created.

Confused about the purpose of the golden lights, he turned to his other body parts instead.

`My muscles and mana cores have enlarged. My mana nerves are good as new as well. Those intricate green lines extended into the entirety of my body.`

He was surprised by this result.

`I think these green lines have something to do with those ancient spells. Let’s leave it at that for now.`

While he pondered over the changes of his body, he didn’t know that outside his prison cell, all the Imperium guards lay on the ground, sleeping.

“Captain, the stage is set. Squad 3 is on the scene. Mereia and Zaldor have confirmed the presence of the Fleeting Shadow and Templars in the area.”, the stern-looking elden spoke.

Emil nodded.

“What about that brat, Emil? You think he’ll pick your message?”

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Her yawning echoed in the tight dark hallway.

“Issha, stop addressing the captain like that.”, the stern elden reprimanded.

Issha rolled her eyes, “Shut up, Rigor.”

“He will.”, Emil noticed something before gesturing to his subordinates to go.

The three of them vanished from the dark hallway.

Just as they exited, a group of young students went down the staircase, guided by a small floating light orb that illuminated their path.

They were Zachariel’s classmates.

“Hey, are you really sure about this? What if these guards wake up all of a sudden?”, Luiz whispered.

“Shut up if you don’t want them to wake up.”, Iria knocked his head.

Luka led the way.

He couldn’t see far ahead of this dark hallway.

“Iria, where’s Zachariel’s room again?”

Iria was holding a map with the blueprint of the floor where Zachariel was. 

“According to this map, it should be around that corner.”

Iria pointed at the end side.

If she was honest, she could’ve located Zachariel by herself.

A connection between them was formed, caused by her master-servant relationship with Zachariel. This enabled her to pinpoint Zachariel’s exact location regardless of distance.

Three days ago, someone sent her a package full of mysterious contents. This map was one of them.

It detailed the layout of the Imperium dungeon and even marked the cell where Zachariel was located.

Another was a letter that told her to rescue Zachariel during the 12th hour on the 31st Day of Okton.

She doubted it at first until she noticed the CPL’s seal on the bottom left of the papers.

Inside it was a symbol of a tower with the three insignias of the Human Imperium, the Elden Conglomerate, and the Void Hive surrounding the tower.

That was when Iria realized that these came from a trustworthy source.

No one was foolish enough to plaster a seal of the CPL in a parch of paper unless they wanted to die.

Since then, she hoped to believe that the contents of the paper were true.

And now, her belief was proven well.

“Who put these Imperium guards to sleep?”, Kaela wondered.

“Someone powerful, I guess.”, Teddy shrugged.

“Hey, Zachariel’s been on the hot news lately. Don’t you think we are getting involved in a mess we shouldn’t be in?”, Ksenia voiced out.

“We’ve already involved ourselves the moment we were put in the same class as him. It makes no difference if we back out now.”, Luka reasoned.

In fact, everyone that Zachariel communicated with was already involved regardless of whether they were close to him or not.

“I-I don’t think it’s all about being involved with him. I mean, I consider Zachariel as a friend so I thought that helping him out would be what a friend like me does.”, Lia shyly spoke out her reason as well.

“Oh, we have the same reason here, Lia.”, Luiz displayed a thumbs up.

Ksenia sighed in defeat.

“That’s a big damn door, Iria. How do you want us to get over that?”, Luiz asked.

“It’s ajar, Luiz. Use your eyes.”, Iria pointed.

“Careful, it’s heavy. Let’s open this all together.”, Luka requested.

They grunted heavily as they pushed the door open.

“Hah! That was tiring!”, Luiz swiped off the sweat on his forehead.

“What are you guys doing here?”, Zachariel asked with a confused look on his face.

“Oh, Zachariel. We’re here to get you out.”, Iria replied.

“What about the guards outside?”

“Well, they’re fast asleep the way they snored heavily on the ground.”

Luka inspected the chains that cuffed Zachariel.

“Damn, they cuffed you like an animal. F****** bastards!”, Luiz cursed.

When they heard that Zachariel was accused of being a member of the dark underground factions, they immediately rejected such a thought.

Even though they saw his power firsthand before, they didn’t think much of it and thought that it was just his special set of skills whatsoever.

Moreover, with how Zachariel helped them in their training all day round, he had many chances to brainwash his classmates.

“Ah!”, Kaela shouted in fear.

“What is it, Kaela?”, Teddy moved close to her side.

Kaela nervously pointed at the corner of the room.

“Th-th-those are… bones… eek!”

Everyone looked in the direction she pointed and they shouted in fright.

“We have to hurry up. This place isn’t safe!”, Ksenia reminded them.

“Wait, how do we remove these restrictions anyway?”, Luiz pondered.

Luka finished his inspection, remaining steady after seeing the pile of bones in the corner.

“These are top-class beldum cuffs. Removing them wouldn’t be easy-“

“Not a problem.”

They looked at Zachariel as if he was a fool.

“Uhm, Zachariel, those are beldum chains, you know…”

Bang!

The chains disintegrated.

“Alright, let’s go.”

Zachariel stood up and noticed the dumbfounded expressions of his classmates.

“What are you staring at, let’s go.”, he urged.

They woke up from their daze.

“Ah, yes, yes. We should go now before the guards wake up.”, Iria led the way.

“So, how did the skirmish event go?”, Zachariel asked.

“Iria easily won the championship.”, Luka shrugged.

Zachariel thought it was obvious.

“What about you, Teddy?”

Teddy scratched his head.

“I fell out during the preliminaries. The opponents were stronger than I thought. Still, it was a good experience for me.”

Zachariel nodded.

“Hey, Zachariel, are you really alright? You were stuck in that hell of a place for 5 days! Are you hungry or thirsty? Moreover, you’re walking on the ground barefooted…”, Luiz worried.

“No, I feel full.”

“Zachariel, you should eat and fill your empty stomach. I know that you have the strength to continue but it would be best if you eat for a while…”, Lia advised.

Zachariel rejected her worries.

“When are the matches going to start?”

Luka took out a pocket watch. The time was 12:15.

“The matches will start an hour and 15 minutes from now.”

He closed it and returned it to his pocket.

“Good, I still have some time to prepare for more.”, Zachariel stretched his hands.

“Yeah, you could use some shower. That filthy dungeon has stunk your clothes and body to the brim.”, Ksenia interjected.

As they made their way to the public training area, somewhere in the Imperium Capital City.

In a dark underground room, several masked figures knelt.

A tall figure with a joker-styled mask turned around and faced them.

“Proceed to Plan B.”

The eyes beneath the mask glowed in dark blue.

“Capturing him will be hard, this time. The Knights are in position, and so are those fanatics. I hope all of you are ready.”

His demonic voice instilled dread in the kneeling figures in front of him.

“We are all prepared, Executioner Maganti.”, one of the masked figures spoke.

“Don’t fail this time, Magister Lerkaroga, Adjudicator Ardeannies.”, Executioner Maganti warned.

“We will not disappoint!”

On another secretive room near the public training area.

“Archbishop Karl, all preparations are ready.”, a cult member spoke.

They were wearing dark hooded clothing with the horns of a demon imprinted on the top of their hood.

Archbishop Karl stared at the demon idol in front of him.

Several horns were protruding from its head. Its hollowed eyes and wide-open mouth softly growled.

“What about the target?”

“On their way to the public training area.”

Archbishop Karl narrowed his eyes.

`His Lord’s plans have changed. I don’t know why our target is different, but it looks like he is committed to us having this person caught.`

1 month and two weeks ago.

“My Lord, I have something to report.”, Archbishop Karl knelt on the ground while raising his arms towards an altar.

A dark cloud puffed out of the altar, forming into a large head with hollowed eyes that spit out red flames.

“What is it, my loyal servant?”

Its hoarse voice instilled fear in Archbishop Karl’s heart.

“Kane Cromwell’s life is uncertain, My Lord. Two weeks from now, he will be fighting a formidable opponent to which his defeat is almost a certainty.”, he explained.

“Is that so? Show me the man this Kane will fight with.”

Archbishop Karl widened his eyes in surprise.

`His Lord isn’t angry, but more like… interested?`

If he remembered well, Kane contained the curse and is the vessel of the Demon Death Witch, which His Lord badly needed for a plan that he himself doesn’t know.

Moreover, a few hours right after he felt Kane’s curse, another one similar to him popped up as well.

He hesitated on telling his Lord about it, thinking that he might be punished for the failure.

“What are you spacing about, show it to me!”, the dark cloud became impatient.

Archbishop Karl shivered again, “Yes, this loyal servant will do as you wish.”, stuttering.

He took out a large oval mirror and incantated, “Remifarkura Valhina.”

The mirror’s glass became clouded and cleared up after a while.

It displayed Zachariel sleeping in the Summer Household’s guest bedroom.

Archbishop Karl then heard a low cackle behind him.

`Hi-His Lord is happy? Is laughing? What is going on?`

“I… can feel it. It… is him! He is… the marked one!”, the laughter loudened.

“No wonder that Kane and this brat are about to fight. When are they scheduled to fight?”

“1 month and two weeks from now, my Lord.”

The dark cloud’s hollowed eyes brightened.

“Accelerate the plan! Make it happen during that time! And let these two brats fight first. I don’t care what happens to that Kane, but do not let that kid go, ever! He must return alive.”

Archbishop Karl was dumbfounded.

He thought that Kane was their primary objective.

“What are you spacing out again? Did you hear my words?!”

Archbishop Karl shook his head and acknowledge the order.

“Your loyal servant will do his best to accomplish this task, My Lord.”

Archbishop Karl returned to the present.

He turned around, gazing at the eyes of the cult member.

“Prepare to move out. The Great Lord of Darkness awaits us!”


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