Chapter 114: Erebella
Despite the royal family sparring field being built on higher grounds, that icy-cold river water still defies common sense and flows into the interior. This is a distortion of the physical phenomenon of 'water flows towards lower ground' to 'water flows to be of average height'. This is modification of the law of nature and only the highest governor of the Water Element is able to do it.
At every single moment, the situation is worsening. I do not have time to waste.
"Erebella, I need your help. I need your strength."
The water slowly creeps below my feet. Yet, I am still talking patiently to the wooden sword. Perhaps, I am seem like a fool to the eyes of the onlookers. However, I know that this is the only solution.
Erebella, this isn't the name of a human, but a deeply wounded soul. A beautiful lady who has been sleeping for more than 300 years already.
Although my plea for help has been voiced, it seems as though my plea had sunk into the deep ocean, there isn't any response at all. However, I know that she has already awaken, just that she doesn't want to respond to my calls. Or rather, she doesn't know how she should respond to my calls.
"Irene (Erebella's abbreviation), there isn't much time left. We must sign the Soul Contract as soon as possible. Only with your help can I battle on the surface of the water.”
A weak voice finally echoes by my ear.
"I am already very tired."
Soul beings do not possess physical body, so how can there be the concept of stamina and tiredness? However, I am able to understand what she means.
By saying tired, perhaps she is referring to her erection of a barrier to protect her wounded heart from shattering again.
"Yes, so you have already rested for more than 300 years. If you don't wake up and walk under the sun for a bit, you might disintegrate soon."
This isn't a lie. To humans, excessive depression is a dangerous mental illness but to the soul beings whose souls are their physical bodies, negative emotions are like lethal poison.
"Perhaps, disintegrating might be a good thing... You should know that I don't want to contract with any other Knight again."
"Un, that's why I didn't allow Reyne and the others to interrupt your slumber back then."
"You should still have other options. Even if you have yet to reach Silver-rank, as long as you were to approach them to contract with you, those Frigid Nightmares will not reject you."
Yes, the one sleeping in the wooden sword is a Frigid Nightmare, a companion of a previous Aurora Knight. At this moment, I am trying to poach her to become my mount.
"What I want isn't a chain who would bind me from growing further, but a pair of wings which could make me soar higher. Only you are capable of becoming my wings, and not a pair of manacles that would hinder my development."
There are many paths for one to climb to the pinnacle. However, to reach the pinnacle, just one is enough. Having more powers isn't necessarily a good thing, being too greedy would just result in one’s powers losing its purity.
I have already mapped out a clear plan for my own development. Ice, Death, Law and Holy Light. These four fields are more than enough for me to research for my whole life. The Frigid Nightmare can indeed boost my battle power, but it isn't something necessary.
Of course, becoming an Aurora Knight will boost my fighting power significantly, so it is something that I need right now.
However, the reason why I never considered contracting with Frigid Nightmares is because Frigid Nightmares will grow along with the Knight's soulwave. A mature Frigid Nightmare will have many marks from their previous owners. This would instead my limit my growth.
As a soul being, newborn Frigid Nightmares are a blank slate. As they grow along with their contracted Knight, their master's memories and emotions will become their nutrients. The desire of their owner to become stronger will become their motivation. They are the most trusted mounts and companion of the Aurora Knights. From a certain viewpoint, as their memories and emotions tend to be extremely similar to their master's, they are like half of their master's soul.
Under normal circumstances, accepting the Frigid Nightmare of others can allow the person to grow swiftly. However, it would be hard for them to climb to the pinnacle. Even so, there are exceptions to everything. The Knight whom Irene contracted with previously has a soulwave similar to mine. Or rather, saying that it is identical isn't a mistake as well. She doesn’t even have to do additional adjustments to adapt to my soul completely. No, if it is the Frigid Nightmare of that person, it would most probably boost my strength instead.
Of course, finding an infant Frigid Nightmare can also fulfill my objective. However, not mentioning how difficult activating the altar will be, even if I were to obtain a Frigid Nightmare, I can't afford to wait that long a period for it to mature. When the Frigid Nightmare finally matures, I probably wouldn't need it anymore.
A long silence follows after my invitation. What I received eventually is still a bitter rejection from Irene.
"I am already very tired and I lack battle will. In my current state, I would definitely pull you back."
To a Warrior, lacking battle will is equal to death. How could I not know that? A Warrior who seeks death will eventually die. Even though I know that Irene is able to strengthen my current battle prowess, I never tried to awaken her from her slumber. But now, other than her, I can't find any other solution that could help me protect the people I would want to from this desperate situation.
"Help me, will you? I need your strength to save my comrades." To a person whose heart is dead, it would be hard to get logic through them. If so, it is better to try getting through via emotions and reality.
"Without your help, not only will I die. The final inheritor of the Mist Bloodline will also die. If so, the contracts with the Frigid Nightmare will be cut totally. Alright, Irene, regardless of whether it is for our friendship when we were younger or for the future of the Frigid Nightmares, please lend me a hand. The spirit of the Knights dictates for them to save anyone in need."
"As expected, you are still that same despicable Roland."
Yes, very despicable. I know how to say words that the other party is unable to reject. A true Knight is unable to ignore the pleas of others. All along, that person only listens to persuasion and does not submit to force. As half a soul who shares his memories, Irene is unable to ignore my request.
"Besides, that person would probably return to the Main Dimension not too long later. Don't you want to question him why would he make that kind of decision? Why he, despite already making up his mind, chose to abandon you?"
"...I already know. I have already thought it through. In his eyes, the foolish spirit of the Knights cannot give him the strength he needs for vengeance. Betrayed by the humans he trusted plunged him into despair and agony. The sacrifice of his elder brother made him swear to exact vengeance towards this world. Thus, he made his choice. He abandoned everything and responded to the summons of the Chaos Abyss, entering the gates of Hell, in hopes of gaining sufficient strength for vengeance."
"That fool has always been so extreme. However, don't you still want to ask him to his face? Ask him how he has been, whether he was beat up in the Chaos Abyss, whether he misses home or if he regrets abandoning you... Abandoning you, is it because he fears that his fall to depravity would corrupt you!"
"Despicable. Despicable. Despicable. Despicable." It seems that my last question has hit the bullseye on the weakness of the other party. Irene is becoming agitated.
The profanities of an agitated little girl lacks skill. Lacking in vocabulary, she could only repeat 'despicable'. This is probably the vilest phrase that she could recall.
She is considered a little girl even though she is a few centuries old? It was only ten years after hatching from the egg that she fell into slumber again. Even if they shared memories and knowledge, a person who has less than ten years of experience can only be considered a little girl.
However, I seem to have underestimated the resentment of the little girl.
"Prince Roland, haven't you been mocking the Knight's values of protection and sacrifice? The Spirit of the Mist which Prince Karwenz believes in was treated like a joke by you. Going by your personality, shouldn't you rationally give up those chess pieces to retain your strength? Why are you choosing the path of a protector which you have despised all along now?"
Yes, Irene is Karwenz's Frigid Nightmare. This young soul has been brought up to be dim-witted like him. However, a long slumber left her time still stuck at 300 years ago. She still treats me like that young Holy Knight Prince.
"Was that what I thought back then? It does sound like something I would say."
There's no need for me to get sentimental now. Since she asked such words, I know that her will is wavering.
"... Back then, I was indeed quite arrogant. In the end, I lost terribly. Now that I have gotten back to the starting point, Karwenz started walking on my old path instead. Therefore, I intend to stop him. Erebella, join me. I have hidden many things from you. After our contract, you can see it all for yourself. If you are dissatisfied then, you can always break the contract."
A white light silently seeps out from the wooden sword. That is Irene's reply. From the moment I invited her, it has all been decided.
The pale white cold light shrouds me as the soulwaves of the two souls approach one another. The benefit of being twins is that Irene doesn't have to match her wavelength to mine to contract with me.
"What kind of joke is this! So many things actually happened that year! So many calamities, how did you get through them!"
"So much hatred, despair and resentment. Why haven't you gone mad yet? Greed, emptiness, slander, envy and pain. You have seen so much evil of the world. The future is so bleak. How? How can you remain so positive? Why haven't you given up hope!"
A contract between souls means exposing everything to the other. The full memory of my 300 years in 3 lifetimes. That could be called a legendary experience. This made the innocent Irene shocked. Those suppressed emotions and memories of the soul became like the most nutritious delicacies to her, causing her to grow rapidly.
"Perhaps, even after Pandora's Box was open, even after all of the calamities have been released, but hope still remains at the bottom of the box. Besides, I am not alone this time..."
"Alright, stop looking at me like that. I know this is very literary, very chuunibyou. Then, let me use Karwenz's words instead —— You cheated, I refuse to accept it. Let's fight again. I don't believe that there won't be a day which I beat you to the ground!!"
"Pu! Back then, Prince Karwenz really said that."
Irene bursts into laughter. She suddenly recalls the duels between the brothers back then. Despite possessing an advantage in all aspects, that lazy elder brother always managed to claim victory in the end through ploys.
"Hmph, that brat likes to go to the extremes. He refuses to turn back until he hits into a wall, not giving up until he reaches the River Styx. Yet, he is extremely talented and strong, not to mention how blessed with luck he is. If he bumps into a wall, he would probably just bash through it. It also isn't impossible for him to get past the River Styx either. His actions always end in an irreconcilable situation... This time, he really overdid it. When he returns, I will beat some sense into him to show him the prestige of an elder brother."
"Prestige? You have such a thing? He always ends up calling your name straight though, the elder brother who always steals his younger brother's toys and tidbits?"
"Hmph. This is my way of letting him know the cruelty of the world so that he can cultivate a competitive spirit and a strong will to fight on! This is the way an elder brother shows his care and concern to his younger brother. Please call me Boundless Love Elder Brother, the cold on the outside hot on the inside brother."
"... Continue bragging then. You are obviously jealous of your younger brother's luck with women. Hee, Roland, have you forgotten that after the establishment of the Soul Contract, I am able to look into your memories?"
Communication between souls don't need time. While joking about, Irene who has ingested sufficient nutrients recovers swiftly. In a few short seconds, the Frigid Nightmare turns into an ice cocoon. In Darsos’s eyes, I probably just quietly took out a wooden sword and dazed out for a few seconds when a white cocoon suddenly appears in front of me.
After coming back to my senses, I touch the ice cocoon lightly. The giant cocoon starts to crack and following which, an illusory battle horse appears before everyone.
She is shrouded by an ice mist. Stars could be seen twinkling in both her eyes. Her physical body appears vaguely for a moment and disappears in the next, as though it doesn't belong to this dimension. Starlight shines on her physical body. The moment she stands up, with a slight tap with her hoofs, the ground she steps on turns into solid ice. This is a war horse that doesn't belong to the mortal world.
Suddenly, the playful little Irene blows a cold breath towards me.
Covered in cold air, I subconsciously sneeze. Before I could even react, a layer of white snow stacks on top of me, turning me into a Snowman.
I shake my head helplessly. Lightly shaking my body, the snow falls into the water, creating a thin layer of ice. On the other hand, a silver plate appears on me.
The ice plate created by thin ice isn't very thick, neither is it heavy. It seems like a fragile artwork. Yet, it is firm and durable. On Irene's body, Ice Magic seems to be turning corporeal. A saddle and many different weapons appear on the mount. Javelin, spear, round shield and a long sword. Those exquisite-looking ice weapons are filled with Ice Magic.
Even Darsos who is aware of it beforehand exclaims in shock. As fellow Knights, the White Wolf Guards will never forget the nemesis in their imaginations, that legendary order whose members are said to each possess the strength of a Gold-rank.
"Your majesty, I accept your goodwill but there are things that I still have to do. I will entrust my attendant Rosemary to you. Please bring her to safety."
Throwing my future spy Rosemary behind, I delightfully tear through the annoying clothes I am wearing, allowing the ice plate to come into contact with my skin. Even though there are many worries plaguing my mind, somehow I feel relaxed and happy.
Due to effects of the Soul Contract, the ice armor feels extremely warm. It doesn't have the restraining feeling of the ice armor previously. I also feel my body getting slightly lighter. The ice armor actually improves the mobility of its user.
While Darsos is still intending to say something, the white Knight has already charged to the entrance with his war horse, leaving behind footprints of ice on the water surface his horse steps on.
Darsos shakes his head bitterly. He could only retract his gaze helplessly.
"Begin the retreat..."
At this moment, I rush through the streets on my Frigid Nightmare. I activate my cold barrier, preventing the rain and storm from bothering me.
"Can you turn into a giant Ice Dragon? You used to be able to do it, so you should still be able to do it now. Although it is too striking and thus a little dangerous, it would be much faster if we fly there."
"I can, if you reach Legend."
On certain aspects, establishing a Soul Contract with the Frigid Nightmare is similar to a Mage's Magic Pet Contract. The maximum strength of the servant cannot exceed that of his master.
"...Time works just like a butcher's knife. In the past, Lord Roland wasn't that forgetful."
Under the commands of the Naga officers, the Fishmen before me stretch open several fishnets. It seems that they intend to trip my mount. However. with a light push on the surface, Irene leaps into midair, disregarding the enemy's attempt to intercept us.
"You didn't have such a venomous tongue in the past! Where did that Snow Woman big sister with a gentle smile go to?"
I tossed Ice Javelins while making a jab at her. The Ice Javelin rotates in midair in an arc before pinning the Naga Spellcaster into the water. Following which, a Ring of Ice explodes, freezing the few Naga Guards who dared to step forward to assist her.
"So the previous me had such an image in your heart? I can turn into the form of a Snow Woman if you want, but due to my lack in strength, the form I assume will be slightly younger. Are you sure you want to charge riding on a Snow Woman?"
Imagining it for a moment, a fully equipped Knight riding on a young girl, shouting, "Holy Light, that enemy is worth a fight!" while using a whip on the young girl's bottom, forcing her to charge ahead...
"I want to try... No, that's too immoral! Irene, maintain your current form."
I suddenly thought that if I were to be seen in that form by others, I probably will never be able to shake off my honorable title as the 'King of Gentlemen'.
"Uncle police, that’s the guy! Prince Roland, have you forgotten that our memories are shared? Also, the world that you were in previously is too perverted."
As our souls are connected, my memory from the other world is also shared with her. That familiar retort left me stunned for a moment before I chuckled.
"Actually, you can use the keywords 'Gentlemen Alliance' and 'True Love Siblings' to search in my memories... Right, in order to protect the underage you, please do not search Beifeng."
"...I retract my words. There are indeed perverts in every world. Also, you did it purposely, didn't you. The more you ask me to look, the more curious I would be. I almost turned blind! You must take responsibility!"
"I will take responsibility by introducing you to Beifeng."
"I'm sorry, please do not take responsibility for me!"
Even while joking about, the rapid Aurora war horse didn't stop her footsteps. Using her ability to turn the water surface she steps on into ice, she is able to easily avoid the encirclement of the Seafolk. Even the fastest Sea Horse is unable to keep up with her pace.
The benefits of our thoughts being connected is that I don't have to be worried about being shaken off the horse, I only have to choose which target to assault and kill. If some powerful offensive magic were to come my way, the protective barrier of the SemiGod Staff is perfectly suited for this situation.
【The Protection of the Dark God: Summon a formless protective barrier which can withstand 200 magic damage/magic equipment damage. Before the protective barrier breaks, the wielder will be immune to all stunning, hexing and any other control-type magic. Duration: 10 seconds. Can be used three times per day.】
By the time I used the final barrier of the day to block off a Chain Frostbolt by a Naga Spellcaster, before the arrival of the enemy’s flying troops, we have already arrived at the edge of Pearl District.
"Head to the Church of Law to meet up with everyone else first! They better be alright!"