Prince Oswald Gallon de la Sistina – the next in line for the crown. He strove to follow in the footsteps of his father, King Reginald. As such, he became every bit the powerful warrior and military leader of Sistina, pursuing the shadow of the great unifier.
Chancellor Lamps Magellan – an Electi summoned by Lady Oldenburg. Given his knack for inventions, Princess Katalina took great interest in him. After proving how much science and technology could benefit the entire kingdom, he was instated as the next Chancellor. His master, Olivia, was also given a place in the royal court, becoming Oswald’s fiancée.
Eryn and Claude stared at these two men of renown, having been shackled and dragged to the throne room after being captured. Next to those two, a pair of women made light conversation among them.
A girl with long, blond hair and wearing a flowing blue gown held Oswald’s hand. Her eyes carried a hint of worry as she looked at him. But he shot a confident smile towards her and gave a thump of his chest, reassuring his fiancée that he wouldn’t be taken down so easily.
Across from them, a bespectacled girl with light blue hair looked inquisitively at the magic tool that Lamps used before. Pulling out some tools from out of nowhere, she tinkered with it while Lamps looked on with a tiny smirk. Such craftworking was rather conspicuous given the setting, not to mention her extravagant green dress which was unsuited for such labor.
Yet, the people of the court did not find this odd. The Chancellor and Princess had long been in a relationship over their mutual interest towards invention. Spontaneous crafting appeared to be as natural as breathing when it came to those two, so people paid it no mind.
In fact, it was this very union of military might and technological innovation that led to a promising new era for the Kingdom of Sistina. That was apparent if one looked at the figure sitting upon the throne, King Reginald.
The current ruler was thrilled to have both of his children involved in leading the future. Because of them, friendly ties to the neighboring nations of Sanshiro and Macali had been created. Even the northern Purnesia Empire had dropped hostilities. This was due to a proposal by Sistina to terraform the earth to restore mana flow, reparations for wronging the people of Purnesia in the past. Knowledge and trade flourished between them, marking a new age of prosperity for the kingdom, one that the King was happy to abdicate the throne to welcome its new leaders.
However, a disturbance had interrupted that transition. News of someone destroying the Duke and his forces swept through the kingdom like wildfire. The very thought that such a powerful noble could be slain so easily caused an uproar everywhere.
The King stared at the captured pair, a lady from a low-ranking house of nobility and her supposed Electi. His trained eyes could feel the anger and resentment coming from them, not necessarily directed at him but at their current predicament. Flashes of killing intent exuded from the pair as the Chancellor relayed the full story of what they were brought in for. He raised his hand to shush the court as he was ready to make his verdict.
“It goes without saying that what the two of you have done is a serious matter. Regardless of the possible wrongs that have been thrust upon you, committing a massacre in an act of revenge is not what a member of nobility does. If only you had stayed your hand for just a bit longer, we would have acquired the evidence to remove Casper Charlemagne from his position and moved to make reparations. But you, unfortunately, decided to take matters into your own hands, misguided an otherworlder to do your bidding, and brought a mark of shame to this kingdom.”
As the Chancellor revealed, they had been keeping tabs on the Duke’s misdeeds. The web of exploitation was fairly wide, reaching quite a number of nobility who sought to secretly overthrow the current king. Many of those felt that traditions and antiquity of a bloodline took precedence over that of ingenuity and merit. But the whole uproar of the Duke’s death had shaken up the kingdom’s efforts in flushing out the rats that clung to their titles.
Realizing that, Eryn hung her head, feeling guilty that she couldn’t have endured a little longer rather than charge forward. But at the same time, frustration gnawed upon her lips as she bit them.
‘Why did so many close to her have to suffer before they would act?’ Thoughts such as these made her feel like a scolded child that had no power over her own life.
“For your crimes, we have no choice.” The King stood up and motioned for his guards. “Take her away. We shall arrange for an execution date later.”
But as the guards went for her, Claude stepped in their way. He spread his arms out in defiance, shielding her.
“Can there really be no other way? Please, your Majesty. She was only fighting back after being cornered!” he yelled out in a desperate plea. “She did not trick me. I just couldn’t stand by and let that happen to her!”
The guards took out their swords, waving them menacingly at Claude, who simply glared at them. The King took two steps forward, signaling for the others to stand by.
“Claude Evers, Electi of Critical, you have been summoned here as a hero. As we have another Electi here before us, we sympathize with the mindsets of otherworlders like you. You acted in another’s best interest, with what little information you had. That is why we decided not to fault you for this ordeal. But rather, the Master that sparked a sense of duty within you.”
“So, you’re saying that Eryn knowingly disrupted your kingdom’s rules and led me on? And that I get a pass because I didn’t know better until now?” Claude replied, his expression stony. He looked back and forth between the King and Eryn, who turned away in shame and guilt.
“It is as you say. We are willing to give you an opportunity. Someone of your abilities would serve us well in the court, just like Chancellor Magellan has shown. The power of an Electi is immense. One’s capabilities are a legend waiting to change the world.” The King walked up to him, hand extended for the offer.
Claude smirked. That sounded like a tempting deal, but he knew exactly what to say.
The King’s hand dropped down, a look of surprise upon his brow. There was no hint of hesitation in Claude’s rejection.
“I’m not a man of ambition. I don’t chase after glory and fame. Rather than change THE world, I would rather change ‘one person’s world’. So I have to ask you, please release Eryn.” Claude stared at him with determination, refusing to budge on this point.
He felt a pair of hands rest upon his shoulders and a head grinding into his back.
“Claude… don’t do this… don’t throw your life away for me…”
Eryn didn’t want to lose anything else. If the suffering could end with her, then she would be at peace. She didn’t want to bring anyone else down with her. Especially not the man that gave her a taste of revenge, however fleeting that victory was.
“Please… just live…,” she continued, her tears wetting his back.
“Heh, what did I tell you before? It’s your fault that I’m here. If I don’t protect the one thing I have right now, then what good are riches and fame? I’m going to make you take responsibility for this, dammit!”
The King shook his head, softly growling at this turn of events. It was unfortunate to lose a potential hero with such offensive capability, but he couldn’t let this go unchecked. “Very well! Take them both away!” he yelled out to the guards.
But just as the King was about to turn away from them, a low voice gave him the chills.
“Since I know exactly what I’m doing now, does that mean that I don’t get a pass for this?”
Accompanying the voice was a strong aura that made the King put up his defenses in an instant. He turned back to the pair, just in time to see a strong aura emit from Claude, causing the shackles on his hands and feet to crumble. They were nothing against the power of a critical attack.
Immediately, guards dove forward to restrain him, making Claude lash out at the nearest ones with a swing of the arm.
It was a simple motion, like swatting a fly out of the air, but the energy that rushed from his fingertips was far from benign. A silence enveloped the room. For a moment, nobody moved. But then, the two bodies in his path suddenly collapsed on their own, into sickening splats upon the floor. The white marble surface was instantly dyed red from the diced bodies that were whole only moments before.
The very sight of it shocked everyone, even Claude himself, who had meant to only destroy their equipment. The power of his ability was far more dangerous than he realized.
Seeing the deaths of his guards before him, the King instinctively drew his sword, Durandal, and struck. But he realized that it was a mistake borne out of his natural reflexes, one that would cost him dearly.
A set of purple eyes turned towards him. An instinctive strike from a cornered prey, but overpowering, dauntless, and unstoppable. The vision of that glow was etched into his sight. He knew immediately that the kingdom’s most prized sword would crumble against its might. His armor that weathered against over a decade of war was mere parchment to be torn to shreds.
‘My children… I hope you can stop him in my place…’
And with that last thought, the King of Sistina turned into a pile of metal and flesh, smeared across the throne room floor.
With his bare hands, Claude obliterated the strongest man in the kingdom, who was 70 levels higher and possessed the strongest equipment available. The symbol of Sistina’s strength being reduced to nothing with a single touch brought everyone to a standstill.
The people in the throne room stared dumbly at what happened, looking at each other as if confirming whether their eyes had gone bad or if they were dreaming. They were too shocked to say anything. Claude was the first to move, feeling bitter about his carelessness but believing that he had no choice. He gave a gentle tug on Eryn’s arm, breaking her out of her trance. Gripping her shackles and using the bare minimum amount of power, they turned into metal shards.
“That is our answer. Screw this kingdom’s rules,” he said as the two walked toward the exit.
And when the door slammed shut on those inside, it was like they could finally move again. Like time flowed for them once more.
Katalina fell to her knees, crying at her father’s death. Lamps bent down to give her a reassuring embrace. Meanwhile, Oswald moved to chase after the pair, but he was pulled back by Olivia’s grip on his arm. She could tell that he was about to act poorly in haste.
“Don’t. We can’t stop them. Not at this time.” Olivia pleaded to her fiancée, not wanting to lose him as well. “You saw what he can do. We can’t rush in without a plan.”
The Chancellor added his thoughts as he was comforting his love.
“My dear Master Olivia is right. Given his high specs, he is quite the danger to all of us. A scientist’s worst enemy is the variables that one cannot control in the slightest. For now, we must regroup and reformulate our strategy. We must gather more information to gain an advantage. Because at this very moment, you, your Highness, must rule Sistina.”
Oswald clenched his fist, so hard that his gauntlet was starting to warp. He swatted at the air a few times in frustration, a habit still left over from his immaturity. Lamps was right, he had to act like a proper king from now on. He let loose those last dregs of childishness before burying that feeling forever. With a long sigh, he eyed the now-empty throne that he would have to take up. His father had prepared him for this, but inheriting the crown under such circumstances was difficult to swallow.
“Sister, Chancellor, what do you have in your repertoire that can defeat an Elec-, no, a demon gone mad?”