Chapter 2- The Forbidden Order of Magic Paladins
This rusty sword was stained with the blood of the wolf.
The crimson blade that pointed at Arnold was inches away from him.
His heart was about to jump out of his chest, and when the freezing wind blew, the black robe did not provide any insulation. Instead, it made his hands and feet feel colder, while his mind seemed to fall into a sea of fire.
The knight’s voice sounded from behind the mask.
“Who are you?”
His voice was deep, with a hint of hoarseness. Coupled with the tall armor, it gave others a feeling of oppression.
Arnold suspected that if he said the wrong words at the moment, the other party would kill him as simply as he had stabbed the wolf. Facing such a person in paladin attire, he could only discard his original intention and whispered tentatively, “… I, I am lost, Lord Knight, I am from St. Nice’s Cathedral…”
The sword edge pressed closer, as if it could pierce his skin and slit his throat in the next moment. Arnold stopped speaking abruptly as his throat moved stiffly.
“Which faction do you belong to?” he asked.
According to common sense, he should praise the God of Light and Eternity, and disguise himself as a devout believer in order to escape death by the paladin’s sword. But the other party’s gloomy and cold tone made Arnold subconsciously pause. He stared closely at the bloodstained blade in front of him, and without knowing where his confidence came from, whispered back, “… I’m not a believer of anyone.”
The leaves of the forest were rustling.
“I only believe in my… my mother.”
The word “faith” had multiple meanings in the Oran language, including absolute trust with the meaning of taking or giving, and should be judged depending on the situation or one’s environment.
Before Arnold could regret his impulsiveness, the knight in the red armor in front of him withdrew his long sword and sheathed the rusty weapon back into the special leather buckle between his armor. The blade was wrapped in the skin of an unknown animal, revealing only its back.
The paladin lowered his head and the bandages under the semi hollow mask were layered one after another. However, Arnold felt that the other person seemed to be looking at him, so he immediately gazed back.
“Follow me.” The knight continued, “Otherwise you won’t survive the night.”
In addition to the lone wolves that roamed alone at night, there were also many dormant magical beasts in the Dark Forest of Labyrinth. These creatures were extremely difficult to deal with and possessed cunning human-like intelligence. Little beings like Arnold that stayed alone in the forest were practically akin to sweet cake covered in honey to them.
Who wouldn’t want a bite? Even inside his cold armor, his long lost sense of taste was revived with the temptation.
The knight lifted him by his collar with one hand, and Arnold anxiously reached out to grab the other person with both hands, freeing his collar from the other man’s broad and powerful fingers and stumbling before standing up. He quickly asked, “… Sir Knight, what were you doing here…”
Paladins were all raised by the Church. They were well-trained and blessed by the Holy Light, given the best swords and guns and the most expensive armor. Not only did they enjoy a high status in the eyes of ordinary people, but even priests who had not been promoted showed respect for these knights. The largest paladin force was part of the Church Magistrate Office.
There was no reason for him to be in such a dark place.
The other party did not respond.
“Sir Knight, who are you? Which… order do you belong to?” Arnold had some understanding of the church that he had lived in for more than a decade, and only by asking the other party’s Order could he feel at ease一 even if he died in the mouth of a magical beast, he was more afraid of fanatics than death.
The fingers gripping his robe slowly loosened, as if losing the intention to pull him. Under the crimson-colored armor, the tall figure in front of him paused and said, “I am a dead person.”
Arnold was stunned.
For the brief moment he was dazed, the other party bent down. He held the boy’s waist in the palm of his hand, and lifted Arnold up一 as easily as picking a flower.
The knight’s arms were sturdy and powerful, pressed along his spine, as hard as stone. He was tightly held in his arms, with the other person’s shoulder pressed against his chest, similar to a small child being held. A little higher, and he could almost be lifted up. Arnold lay on his shoulder, frustrated and worried about the disparity between his poor physique and the other’s physical strength.
Even if he didn’t use his legs to support himself against the other person’s body he could feel that the knight’s physical strength was strong enough to keep him steady. That’s why the seasoned and experienced experimental subject calmly quieted down without attempting to struggle, because he knew it would be a waste of effort.
But even if he was clear-headed, Arnold couldn’t help but recall the other’s words… What did it mean to be a man who had already died? It didn’t seem like the paladin was joking, but the strength and breath of this knight had nothing to do with the term, “dead man”. Was this a guilty knight seeking atonement? If that were the case, it would explain why he lived in such a desolate and barren place…
Just as he was speculating wildly in his mind, the other party had already cut off the branches on the road and turned a blind eye to the covetous animal eyes that were constantly surrounding them, all the way back to a house in the middle of the forest.
It was a house made of wood, and didn’t look big. Outside, green vines snaked over the windows. There were no trees or fences around, and the ground was bare, as if it had been burned by fire.
Arnold lay on the other person’s shoulder, and watched the knight push open the door. In front of him was a man-made wooden staircase spiraling down, presenting a simple yet bright room.
He was placed in front of the stove.
The stove was warm and tidy in appearance, and seemed to be made from scrap iron. Half of the firewood inside had already been burned, and ashes piled up in the furnace. As the pine needles burned, it emitted hissing sounds upon contact with any trace of moisture.
A corner of the black robe fell to the ground, and Arnold slowly lowered his hood and turned to look at the paladin. However, the knight only entered another room, took out a machete, and began skinning the wolf within ten steps of him.
It was only then that he realized that the other party had brought the wolf back.
The temperature here was warm and comfortable. His hand, hidden under his robe, gently touched his legs, fearing that the high temperature would trigger some of his mutated parts. He was even more fearful that the knight would discover that he was a deviant. Therefore, even though he was greedy for the heat, he restrained himself and moved back.
Nearby, there was the sound of the knight peeling and deboning the wolf corpse.
The little monster was sleepy and tired, and his hood slid very low, almost covering his face. However, Arnold was awake and carefully spoke, “Thank you for saving me… my name is Arnold.”
That was the name of the knight.
Arnold first reacted absentmindedly, then realized that the other person had told him his name and noted it with slight surprise. He repeated “Kaos” in his heart, feeling that the name did not have a good meaning in the Oran language.
But how could he say this? He was facing a pious paladin of atonement… Even in the church, there were not many knights who practiced such asceticism, to clear their sins, let alone in Maze City, so far from the Holy City of Salamis.
Arnold watched quietly as the knight disposed of the beast’s carcass in his hand. He washed the edible parts with clean water, and then walked out with the residue and waste, without giving the young man a chance to help.
After a while, Kaos returned to the room, washed his hands with ease, and removed the half hollow mask from his face.
It was the standard equipment of a paladin, and the workmanship was excellent. The part from the nose to the mouth was solid, with iron protecting all the way to the throat, and the part in front of the eyes had a hollow design, crisscrossing like a net.
When the mask was removed, the knight’s bandages became even more noticeable. The blindfold that covered his eyes looked neat but old, as if he had been unable to see for a long time. But with such mobility, Arnold guessed that the other party’s Holy Light blessing must be very strong. In other words, this man was a devout and powerful knight of atonement.
The other party had beautiful blond hair, which the Church believed to be a holy color, and was in line with the aesthetics of most people, Arnold thought quietly, thinking of his own black hair.
A rare hair color on the mainland, also known as Devil’s Gift.
A gift that made him more beautiful and more like a monster.
He restrained his wandering thoughts and looked over the embers of the fire, only to see a tall and straight nose bridge and moderately thick lips, in addition to the blindfold. From his appearance, the other person’s handsome visage could be said to be one of the best among the people Arnold had seen. Along with his golden hair, which was slightly disheveled by the helmet, he also carried a sense of deviating from the holy with a violent burst of sensuality, similar to that of a wild beast.
He promptly withdrew his gaze to avoid the other party’s keen senses, and began to think about what he could do to return the favor.
The processed wolf meat was skewered on iron needles, and the knight approached and sat by the fire to roast the food.
Arnold wanted to make room for the other man, but was held down by Kaos and continued to sit apprehensively beside him, waiting for the paladin to begin his interrogation.
But until the smell of the roasted meat wafted out, the other party didn’t say a word. It seemed that his background, identity, or why he appeared had nothing to do with the knight. He didn’t care about his appearance at all, just like a tiger didn’t care about a rabbit intruding on its terrain.
Arnold looked down at his barbecue and wanted to say, “Let me help you” several times, but he really didn’t have any experience of cooking over a fire… He had been raised like a pampered saint in the past twelve years of his life by the church. His clothes were always given to him and his mouth never lacked food. However, his life was full of the arrangement of others and he didn’t have the freedom to live as he wished.
Medication and needles were injected into his body, causing excruciating pain every time. The implantation surgery of the magical parts were continuous, and the sequelae and complications still haunted his body like curses. Arnold had passed a period of being full of indignation and resentment. Every day he lived, he struggled to reconcile himself with this abandoned body.
Therefore, he was afraid that if he couldn’t do well, it would anger the knight. Even if the paladin did not get angry with his mistakes, he would still feel guilty.
The aroma of the barbecue grew stronger as the oil sizzled. Kaos brushed the wolf meat with homemade jam, and the scent of the meat suddenly carried a hint of sweetness.
Arnold secretly complained about his awkwardness and uselessness. As the meat continued to roast, he gradually let down his guard and realized that the knight really had nothing to ask him.
The meat coated with jam looked incredibly fresh and tender, and the oil dripped onto the fire, causing even the iron needles to burn.
Kaos withdrew his hand and handed one of the skewers of meat to the young man next to him. As Arnold hesitated, the other person calmly and coldly thrust it into his hand.
The little monster had to take it devoutly with both hands, holding it rigidly, hungry and afraid to eat first. However, he was even more afraid that there would be nothing he could do in return. He didn’t know to what extent the other party’s Holy Light blessing could reach, and was afraid that one day the paladin’s powers would become too strong. Suddenly, he pictured his surroundings and saw himself sitting there in a magician’s robe, eating. What a shameless being he was.
It was too dangerous.
Arnold, pretending not to know about the blessing of the Holy Light, and cautiously whispered in a confused manner, “Kaos… your eyes?”
“I can’t see.”
“My ears are fine.” The knight raised his head and “glanced” at the place where the voice was coming from, and with extremely precise positioning, “I can feel it.”
The so-called feeling should have been the blessing of the Holy Light, and the love that knights received from God that was such an ethereal “feeling”.
Arnold reluctantly felt at ease.
He took a small bite of the meat and, under the watchful gaze of Sir Knight, who was facing him after finishing his meal. He slowly finished the portion that was a bit too much for him, saying thank you several times.
Kaos didn’t seem to take notice of his gratitude, nor did he reply with any courteous words that a paladin would say. Instead, he reignited the stove and said, as if to make the other party feel more at ease about eating the meal, “Please tidy up the room.” Then he turned around and went back to another room.
Arnold nodded repeatedly, then remembered that the other couldn’t see and replied out loud. He raised his hand and rubbed his face as he looked around.
There were some minor ash deposits and dust, and many items were placed in a corner in a disorderly manner, which seemed to take up a lot of space. They were most likely old objects that were no longer in use. In any case, having something to do alleviated some of the psychological pressure he felt, no longer fearing that he may be killed by just eating rice.1Getting killed for no reason
He first cleaned and dried the bloodstains from the previous skinning and bone cutting on the floor, then wiped away all the accumulated dust on the surrounding furniture. Finally, he picked up the clutter and started to organize it.
Arnold crouched in the corner, rolled up the sleeves of the magician’s robe, and then stacked the books with worn out covers. He sorted out the severely worn tomes from the shelf in order of publication. As he was organizing the dates carefully, a semi circular object rolled down from the middle of two books on the shelf.
The metal collided with the ground and snapped.
Arnold lowered his head and picked up the dusty metal badge from the ground. With the other hand holding a cloth, he wiped it effortlessly. Dust and ash were wiped away, revealing the badge’s golden emblem that was covered with blood droplets that had condensed onto a dark red blot.
He paused slightly and stared at the patterns that were dyed crimson, crossed by thorns and a silver knightly sword, as well as the bottom insignia made of gold.
The Forbidden Order of Magic Paladins…
As one who had to participate in the church’s experiments, he was not unaware of the fame of this Knights’ team, however all the members of The Forbidden Order of Magic Paladins were already dead.
Ten years ago, an entire group of knights died in an unknown place due to an inexplicable and unspeakable strange force. Even those who escaped, died suddenly within a month. This became a secret matter for the Church, and he only learned about it unintentionally while studying religious records.
Could Sir Kaos be the only one among them who survived? Or did he suffer from the same curse? Was that the reason the phrase “already dead” was filled with such deep guilt and atonement, a statement about the complete annihilation of his comrades, or was it because Sir Knight himself was under some unknown curse, knowingly trudging towards his inevitable death?
Arnold, interrupted by his thoughts, put the badge of The Forbidden Order of Magic Paladins back as if it had burned him and let out a long breath.
Regardless of the outcome, none of this was within his control. If the paladin wanted to kill him, it was probably easier than killing a wolf.
The young man felt deeply exhausted by his own incompetence. He put the item back and carefully continued to clean the area. There were incomplete monster skulls, half an insignia, letters that had been chewed by something… a crystal pen inlaid with ruby, expensive silk for wiping swords, and feathers from strange beasts…
Arnold had cleaned all the way down the pile, and reached a point where he didn’t change his expression regardless of what he saw. He speculated that the right side of the shelf was where Sir Kaos displayed his spoils of war, because on the left side was clearly something that knights would use, and the right side had an extremely large number of magical elements, all of which were from slain monsters.
The young man stood on his tiptoes and wiped the top shelf once again. On the right edge, he touched something book-like. He picked it up and wiped away the dust accumulated on the cover.
There was no cover image or the familiar Olan language, and the lettering on it was bizarre. Although it was clearly an unfamiliar language, Arnold was miraculously able to understand every word.
It read, 《Notes of the Greatest Magician of the Seventh Century, Selena!》
The final exclamation tone was a universal symbol in the sorcerer’s language.
Arnold suddenly froze.
He gripped the notebook tightly, and had a sudden vision of Sir Kaos wearing the armor of The Forbidden Order of Magic Paladins, wielding a longsword and piercing a magician’s black robe, splattering blood everywhere.
Despite his fear, this was the only opportunity for him to leave this forest on his own, to not be threatened by the powerful forces of others, to learn by himself, and to be exposed to magic.
He remembered the black figure engulfed by the Judgment of Holy Light, the radiant brightness reflected from the person’s glasses as he calmly flipped through the book, and the reason for his desperate escape.
Freedom meant to be alive.
Freedom meant to survive.
Arnold closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths before stabilizing his heart. He felt like a thief, but he couldn’t help himself. He rubbed the magician’s script above and opened the notes slowly and apprehensively.
Behind him, in the room where the paladin was, between the cracks and shadows of the wooden door that touched the ground, a shadow surged and formed. A pitch black, small tentacle lifted its head from the darkness, and a round eye grew from the top of the appendage, silently staring at him.
Staring at his back, the book in his hand, and at the same time, staring at the light that surrounded the other intimately, it almost treated the young man as a host, but it was something normal people couldn’t see.
The author has something to say:
Arnold: I am a small piece of trash QAQ
The light affinity is at a full level and the talent for magic is at a full level, it’s really puzzling for evil gods.
More naming fun:
Kaos- from Ancient Greek, meaning chaos
Salamis- from Greek, meaning arable land and wisdom
Selena- from Greek, meaning moon
Thank you for reading! Hope to see you in chapter 3!
- 1Getting killed for no reason