~ Chapter 26: Pertiko and the Paladins (Part 2) ~
“Maybe we should take a detour?” asked Kleo all of a sudden.
Looking back at her, I saw that she was a bit worried about meeting these Paladins. Seeing how she was a necromancer and all, it was highly likely that they saw her as their enemy.
Seryanna looked at her for a moment and then let out a sigh “Sure… We’ll take a detour.”
“Thank you…” the black-scaled dragoness replied.
Kataryna didn’t comment, and I didn’t feel like this was my place to drop my opinion. I for one wanted to see these so-called Paladins, but not if it meant throwing Kleo on top of their swords, no perverted jokes implied.
“Who goes there?” somebody shouted at us.
Please tell me this isn’t that cliché situation where we meet the one who brings us inside… I thought and looked towards the new guy.
It was a dragon with glistening, white scales and wearing a heavy steel armor. Thick armor plates engraved with strange runes protected him from attacks. He was a walking tank with a tail and a pair of wings. A shield on his left hand and a drawn sword in his right gave him a more intimidating look, but unlike I often saw in games, this guy was actually wearing his helmet.
Me and my blasted luck… I grumbled in my mind.
Getting the girls and through extension me into trouble wasn’t my idea of ‘good luck’.
“Seryanna Draketerus, knight of The Third Princess of the Dragon Kingdom Albeyater, Elleyzabelle Sojourn Seyendraugher!” she identified herself.
“What of the rest?” he asked pointing his sword at us.
“I don’t feel like giving you my name, but I’ll tell you this. I’m not someone to mess with!” Kataryna warned him with a chilling smile.
“I’m… er… what am I exactly?” I asked as I tilted my head.
Seryanna sighed and shook her head.
“They are with me. None of them pose any danger to you or this village. We heard your situation and understand it. We will walk around the village and be on our way!” she declared.
“If you are indeed a knight, then by no means will we force you to go around the village! I offer myself as your guide until you pass through!” declared the paladin as he sheathed his sword.
We looked at each other for a moment, but seeing how he offered himself like that, it would have come out as suspicious or rude if we declined. Kleo gave us a small nod, and we passed by the two guards.
“What brings you to these remote parts, Sir Seryanna?” asked the paladin.
She didn’t reply, only gave him a long look almost as if she was intending to crush him under her foot.
“Ah! Pardon me! My name is Blake Merchant. I’ve been a Paladin for six whole years now. A pleasure to meet you!” he said, stopping and bowing like a real gentleman.
Only then did Seryanna averted her glare.
“I’m simply returning from my grandfather’s home. Last time I passed by this village, it didn’t seem to be under any sort of threat. When did the zombies start attacking?” she asked coldly.
She’s a real ice queen… Glad I’m here to warm her up! I smirked in my mind, seeing how my hands were resting on her waist.
“About two weeks ago. The dungeon to the north of here started to act strangely, and an entire wave of zombies popped out. They were taken out with ease, but they kept coming and coming. From time to time, a dullahan or a group of skeleton warriors would try to attack the village, but we managed to push them back.” Blake explained while guiding us through the village.
At first sight, I thought we were walking through a ghost village, but upon a closer look, I noticed the frightened eyes of the villagers peeking at us from behind their windows. No one was outside except for those brave enough or the Paladins. There was quite a number of them too, not only one or two. So far, I counted six of them and about eight villager guards.
“When did you suspect that this might be the work of a necromancer?” asked Seryanna.
Speaking of which, Kleo was hiding her face and clinging tight on Kataryna’s back. This was definitely a clear sign that she didn’t like the presence of these armored folks.
“Four days ago when some of the villagers who disappeared returned as flesh-eating zombies.” he replied.
“Is there a difference?” I asked curiously.
“From those spawned by a dungeon? Certainly! The ones spawned by dungeons can’t leave its territory and are far easier to kill. Reanimated corpses, on the other hand, need to be chopped up into pieces and then burned down to make sure they stay dead. Of course, we Paladins are capable of casting [Repel Undead], [Holy Light], and [Release Soul]! With these spells, no necromancer can stand in our way!” Blake declared proudly.
“Yet, if your power level is smaller than that peculiar necromancer’s, you will fail in your cast and at most only injure their creations.” snorted Kataryna.
“In the end, chopping them up is the best option, huh?” I asked raising an eyebrow.
“Ahem! Yes, for the non-Paladin, it is so.” he refused to admit defeat.
“So the fire we see over there?” asked Seryanna pointing at the pillar of smoke to our right.
“Corpses burning, nothing more.” Blake replied shaking his head.
We continued to walk on the main road through this village, while looking around curiously at both the villagers and Paladins who patrolled the area. I was starting to guess that they were preparing for something bigger, especially giving their numbers and diligence.
All this time, Kleo didn’t utter a single word and continued to hide herself between Kataryna’s wings. Maybe she could also hide her necromancer energy behind hers as a well. So far, the Paladin next to us didn’t seem to have noticed, but if one were to, I had to wonder if they were going to attack us or not.
Going by the order of things on the scale of stupidity, they will see Seryanna as a non-awakened and brush off her authority. Kataryna will most likely defend Kleo, and I certainly won’t stand around to watch them get attacked by these dragons. Worst comes to worst, I’ll summon Gragh’jaggar to take us out of here, and Jophiel to clear our way. Or better yet, I’ll test out [The Effect of Tzuika] and [Super Chihuahua Style]. Somehow the second sounds more like a side effect of the first. I thought while looking at these Paladins.
When we reached the center of the village, we saw the signs of a recent battle here. There was blood splattered on the ground, a broken sword laying down next to a well, now plugged with earth, and a lot of slash marks on the nearby buildings. Other than that, the village didn’t seem to have suffered any major damage, meaning the attackers were most likely lured here, where there was space to fight.
Looking around, I spotted a group of four Paladin coming towards us. One of them had a better-looking armor, with more shiny things on it, so I was guessing he was the top dog/dragon around here. Either that or an overzealous rich noble.
“Paladin Blake! Who are these people? Why did you let them in?” the man in the shinier armor asked furiously.
“Great Paladin Baltros! She is Sir Seryanna Draketerus, and these are her companions. I let them in because I thought it would be rude of me to tell them to go around the village.” he reported after he saluted by placing his right hand over his heart and making a small bow.
“I understand. So, Sir Seryanna, what brings you and your companions to these parts of the country?” Baltros asked while taking a long look at each and one of us.
“Personal matters, Great Paladin Baltros.” she replied coldly.
He looked into her eyes and then over at me. I gulped and hid behind her.
“It matters not, please be safe on your way out of this village. As you can see, we have our hands a bit tied up at the moment with our current zombie problem.” he spread out his arms in reference to the whole village.
“I see. We will be on our way then.” Seryanna replied.
“Understood!” he nodded.
It was then when one of the Paladins behind Baltros stepped forward.
“Wait!” he shouted.
Seryanna raised an eyebrow at him.
“Paladin Iolaus, what is the meaning of this?!” Baltros demanded, shooting a glare at his subordinate.
“Great Paladin Baltros, if she is Sir Seryanna Draketerus, then the one behind the silver-scaled dragoness is none other than Thraherkleyoseya Draketerus!” he declared.
WOW! Not only did he remember her full name but also knows how to pronounce it?! was my first thought before the rest of my brain woke up and understood the danger this moron was putting all of us in.
“And?” Baltros asked.
“Thraherkleyoseya Draketerus is a black-scaled dragoness necromancer. She may be the one who conjured up these zombies and disturbed the dungeon!” he declared.
“How dare you accuse me, you no-good cheater!” shouted Kleo.
“Cheater?” I asked confused.
Seryanna sighed and rubbed her forehead with two fingers.
“I am not a cheater! If I had known what you are back then, I would have never said those words!” he shouted back.
“Sir Seryanna, is what my subordinate saying true?” asked Baltros as he placed his hand on the hilt of his sword.
“About him being a cheater?” she asked a bit confused.
“The other thing…”
“Even if it is, you don’t hold the authority to take down my sister. If you dare to, you will have to pass through me.” she threw him an ice-cold glare and placed her hand on the hilt of her sword.
“I’m afraid I do! I was tasked by the king himself to eliminate any and all necromancer scum who pass through here under the suspicion of being the cause of the plague that has befallen this poor village! If I let this… thing go, then I might as well leave these poor folk to their faiths!” Baltros declared and unsheathed his sword.
“Erm, can’t we just talk about this?” I asked, hoping to calm them down a bit.
“All those who side with a necromancer are the enemies of the Temple of Light and as such, the enemies of this kingdom as well!” declared Baltros quickly.
Blake pulled away from us and unsheathed his sword as well, while the rest of their comrades followed suit.
“He’s not listening, is he?” I asked.
“Nope!” Kataryna said with a giggle.
“Question, Paladin Baltros!” I shouted.
“That’s Great Paladin Baltros for you!” he corrected me.
“Great Paladin Baltros then. Has any of you surpassed power level 500 or achieved an Awakened Breakthrough?” I asked him with a smile.
The dragon squinted his eyes at me. To be clear, they all looked similar in terms of what their awakened form looked like, meaning humanoid head with a few scales and dragon eyes, a long tail, wings or no wings, depending on the individual.
“What do you mean? What if we haven’t?” he asked.
“Then you can’t defeat EITHER of us. You will all die a miserable death as we break your bones and grind your muscles into paste!” I smiled “There won’t be even a spec of dust left if we go all-out on you. Heck, she can sneeze and you would all die an agonizing death!” I laughed and pointed at Kataryna.
I was half-bluffing and half-hoping this would scare them enough not to try and seriously attack us. They weren’t the bad guys, just misguided fools, but if they tried to kill us, they were dead misguided fools.
“If this isn’t enough, then Brekkar Draketerus will make sure you will die for touching his granddaughters.” I shrugged, dragging the name of the famous general into the pile of threats.
“The old general has been struck by an incurable illness! Everyone knows that!” he tried to put off my words.
“Is he now?” I showed him a wide smirk.
“The kid cured him, so not anymore.” Kataryna backed me up.
“So? What will it be? A battle to your agonizing and painful deaths or…” I said with a smile, but before I had a chance to finish my words, someone came screaming.
“The zombies are coming! The zombies are coming!” he shouted and ran right between us.
It was a simple anthropomorphic dragon villager.
We all looked at him as he passed by and went to hide in his house.
“Erm…” I looked back at Baltros.
He squinted his eyes at me and then sheathed his sword.
“Sir Seryanna! Do you swear on the name of the king that your sister is not the culprit for this disaster?” he asked.
“I swear on the name of the king that Thraherkleyoseya Draketerus isn’t the one you are looking for!” she declared.
“Very well then, I’ll believe you. MEN! To your posts! We have a zombie army to send back to their graves!” shouted Baltros and then looked at us “Since you are all here, your power might be needed in this battle. You wouldn’t leave one of the king’s villages to suffer from this sort of attack, would you?” he asked.
“Of course not! Me and my companions will lend you a hand in eliminating this threat. This way, I will prove to you that we are not your enemies!” Seryanna declared and unsheathed her sword.
“Wait, a swear was all it took for him to back off, seriously?” I asked a bit confused.
“The swear of a knight on the name of their king should never be taken lightly.” Seryanna told me as she dismounted.
“Dragons! Tonight we fight for the Light! Let us prevail against our undead foes!” shouted Great Paladin Baltros as he charged towards the zombies together with the rest of his comrades.
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