A/N: well, this is what happens when I am not only introduced to a new series but said person, and I end up having a big discussion about that series where plenty of ideas were created. As a result, a story with potentially interesting avenues to explore are unearthed, especially with the fusion of two worlds.
So first, let me off special thanks to JameyoftheMegacosmos for the discussions that led to this story, his editing, and proofreading of the chapter.
Also, some special thanks to Seerking and Greatratking88; although the latter wasn't too familiar with the series, he did provide some moral dilemmas that could be explored and etc.
So without further delay, enjoy the chapter, and this is a separate world set up, which shall be a plot point that will be explained later.
The Black Knight
"It's him!" A guard whispered to his companion, a fellow city guard.
Entering through the northern gate of Lescatie, capital of the Theocracy of Lescatie, passing by a pair of guards was a man riding on a black stallion dressed in black armor that covered his entire body with a black cape attached to it.
The armor he wore was unique in that it seemed to be outer-worldly in origin with polished black segmented plates on the arms and legs. Its breastplate and shoulders were trimmed in gold while its hands were akin to sharp claws, yet they could grasp any object with ease, and his boots, as part of the armor itself, were black with wing-like designs. The mask itself, however, was a faceless visor or plate, and the black helmet concealed his identity leaving many to wonder how the wearer can see.
"Did you hear about that village far to the north?"
"The one that was infested with Matango?"
The guard nodded before telling him what happened.
"About a week ago, I guess some poor woman got infected with Matango spores. It wasn't long before it spread and infected the whole village within a few days."
The guards were unnerved by such a phenomenon. Matangos were a type of mushroom-like monster that could reproduce by spreading spores and having a human woman breathe them in. Afterward, the unfortunate woman's mind would be taken over, driving her to seek intercourse with the nearest male to absorb more spirit energy, causing the spore infesting her body to begin transforming her from the inside.
"So, they just sent in one man?"
"Yeah, but I guess that armor must've kept him safe from the spores."
Once the woman finished transforming into Matango, she would root herself to a tree or stump to draw nutrients for energy and spread spores to attract a man. Any man who breathes in a spore, his mind would be ensnared entirely, compelled to have sex with the Matango responsible. As they engage in intercourse, more spores would be produced and spread across the area. The man she has enthralled, in the meantime, would gradually become a Mushroom person as more spores grow upon his body, becoming a shell of his former self. He would only be driven to procreate with the monster, thus beginning its parasitic reproductive cycle anew.
Should this occur within a village, it would be consumed and transformed within a matter of hours unless the infected woman is found and stopped. Tragically, the affected village's inhabitants failed to notice the danger in time.
"How do we know he did the job then?"
"Spotters from a nearby town confirmed he did the job, but," the guard replied before his words trailed off.
"He burned the village down."
"He did WHAT!?" The other guard replied in shock.
"I guess the village must've been a lot worse than we thought. Enough that it was the only means to prevent anyone else from becoming mushroom people."
"I know, just breathe in a spore, and you're as good as a mushroom," the guard remarked, folding his arms.
The black-armored rider strolled away from the gate towards a young woman who had been waiting for him. Her appearance and attire made her stand out, typical to the people from the eastern island country of Zipangu. The girl had waist-length black hair tied with a bow near the end, dark brown eyes, and a fair skin complexion. She wore a tanned kosode and a dark brown hakama cut short above the knees and, which allowed more freedom of movement. Her footwear consisted of black oboko with white knee socks, nearly touching her thighs and brown string ties holding them in place.
"Koyoi," the black knight began before offering his hand to the young girl. "I trust you have been well."
"I have been well, Zero," Koyoi replied before accepting his hand to climb onto the black stallion. "I was more concerned about your well-being, given the danger you faced."
"Yes," the man known as Zero answered as Koyoi wrapped her arms around his waist to secure herself before the horse began moving. "Although Matangos aren't ferocious in any way, the spores they produce are the real danger."
The pair proceeded onwards through the city, but as he passed through Lescatie's slums in the Northern District of the city, they observed a family being evicted from a home. Koyoi was troubled by the sight of seeing the family, especially the man who pleaded with the city guard.
The Theocracy of Lescatie was famously known across the world as the country that has produced high-quality heroes to combat the monsters roaming the world. Many facilities throughout Lescatie trained potential heroes from childhood, usually ready to begin their lives as heroes by their late teens. For that reason, Lescaite was also known for possessing the second mightiest military in the entire Order.
However, Lescaite was also notoriously corrupt, especially among the rich and aristocracy. The nobility was more than willing to raise the taxes so they could enjoy more wealth at the expense of those lower than them. Even the authoritative priests of the religion they followed actively engaged in power struggles with the corrupt and greedy nobility, willing to involve the lives of their valued heroes in their political games for their advancement.
This city may produce the greatest heroes known across the world, but it's the most corrupt place I have ever seen, Zero thought internally as he and Koyoi exited the slums and entered the Central District. I wouldn't be shocked if this kingdom fell because of the discontent among its people and heroes.
Zero parked and secured his horse outside one of the large cathedrals that dotted the Central District. Compared to the slums, the central area of the city was very different. It didn't have just the royal palace of Lescatie's royal family. It also had the homes of the nobility and heroes, their training facilities, and new churches for the Chief God herself.
Instead of building more churches, they could make more homes for people, Zero thought, though he was mindful to keep his criticisms to himself as he and Koyoi entered the cathedral.
The interior was undeniably impressive and extravagant, which only worsened Zero's opinion of the Order and those in power behind the scenes within the city in general. Nearing the altar, a member of the cathedral's staff gestured for Zero and Koyoi to follow him. Leading the pair behind the altar, the group walked down a hallway. After some twists and turns, the couple entered a large room on the other side of the cathedral. Four men were seated around a round table with an empty chair left open for Zero.
"Please have a seat, Zero," one of the men at the table offered.
Zero nodded before taking his seat at the table while Koyoi silently stood behind him.
"First, allow me to congratulate you on accomplishing your mission."
The man speaking to Zero was a man in his mid-forties with balding red hair, wearing white and gold regal robes that seemed more appropriate for a king than a holy man. His name was Grand Cardinal Steenwyck, who was also one of the most influential members of the Theocracy's church.
"I never would've imagined a lone man could've wiped out a village overrun with Matango," Steenwyck complimented, clearly impressed. "A single person would've easily been overwhelmed by them."
"But, he burned down the entire village!"
The outburst came from a slightly younger man with blonde hair tied into a ponytail, wearing black and gold-trimmed robes befitting someone of the nobility. Yet, at the same time, Zero recognized this man's personality was very typical of the nobles he had seen before.
Snobbish, believing themselves more important than everyone and too self-entitled.
"He was supposed to clear out the village, not burn it!"
The noble's name was Duke James Hardenbrook, owner and overseer of the city's blacksmiths due to owning the mines that provided their materials, which in turn presented their armies and heroes with weapons.
"And," another member of the gathering spoke. "Do what with a spore and mushroom covered village? No sane person, no matter how much we bribe them, would willingly take refuge. We should be glad he dispatched the problem for us so quickly. Otherwise, I believe one of your mining towns was close to that village, wasn't it?"
His name was Lord Thomas Killian, an influential member of the nobility who is one of the King's most trusted advisers. He was slightly older than Steenwyck with black hair and a beard wearing black attire, which was more of a suit based on Victorian fashion trimmed with gold and red.
"I concur, Zero's handling of this matter was fast and efficient. Something some of these heroes could learn when they do their tasks," Steelwyck noted.
"The loss of the village and its structures is regrettable, but unavoidable once the Matango had overrun it, twisting everyone into monsters to be purged."
The final member of the gathering was arguably one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. He wore white and gold-trimmed robes befitting a holy man, but his station was much higher than Steelwyck's because he was both the head of one of the kingdom's oldest and wealthiest families while a priest of the church. He had light blue hair and green eyes appearing to be among younger than most, but his cold cunning had ensured his quick rise through both the ranks of the church and nobility combined with his family's generations of wealth and influence.
His name was Priest Baltus Noscrim.
"Nevertheless, you handled a dangerous job alone, quickly and efficiently," Priest Noscrim said as he had one of his fellow-men present Zero with a large sack of gold. "For that, here is your reward with a little extra in how you accomplished your task. There is more where that came from if you are interested in a job I am offering you."
"What are the details, Priest Noscrim?"
Baltus smiled at Zero's professionalism.
"I am in the process of laying the groundwork for a new Holy Order of Knights, Baltus explained. "Before you dealt with those Matango, you established quite the reputation as a mercenary. Your devious and ruthless efficiency helped in wiping out bandits plaguing our supply and trading routes as well as monsters."
Zero had only appeared in Salvarision six months ago. Still, in those six months, Zero quickly built up a reputation as an efficient and ruthless mercenary who not only hunted monsters but criminals as well.
"His handling of Bandits at Black Rock Falls was an interesting solution," Killian commented.
"He destroyed their makeshift dam, drowning their camp where he finished off the survivors one by one," Steelwyck remarked.
"Don't forget how he handled that pack of werewolf raiders who were attacking your mines and the villages home to the workers," Baltus remarked, glancing at Hardenbrook. "I would like someone to act as my eyes and ears within their ranks while offering counsel and advice to my daughter."
"Wilmarina Norscrim," Priest Norscrim clarified. "She will serve as their commander in our campaign against the monsters."
"I agree, Zero has made an awe-inspiring reputation as quite the problem solver," Steelwyck offered in agreement. "He'd be one that would be beneficial in the Order of the Ice Flower."
"But shouldn't we know who Zero is?" Hardenbrook offered as an argument. "No one has ever mentioned him being seen without his mask?"
"I suppose that is true," Baltus said, giving Zero a chance to explain himself. "But I trust Zero has a good reason for hiding his face."
"I do," Zero replied. "As you know, those who prove to be a danger to the hellspawn of darkness will be easily targeted. My mask is simply to protect my identity from the monsters who would seek to target me more directly, and for protection against any potential enemies. I am sure you can all understand, but let not my identity be my proof of my trustworthiness but the results I deliver."
"Yes, you have delivered results that have more than proven your loyalty," Baltus acknowledged before adding. "Very well as long as you prove your effectiveness, we'll let you keep your mask on, agreed?"
"Fair enough," Zero offered with a nod.
"Now then I think that concludes our meeting for now," Baltus said, exchanging glances with the rest of the gathered men sitting near him. "I'll send a messenger for you tomorrow to meet my daughter and those I have chosen so far to become members of the new Order of Knights."
"Very well," Zero replied before he rose from his chair, taking his payment before leaving with Koyoi. "I'll be looking forward to it."
Later that day, at their shared home in a quiet corner of the Central District, Zero was meeting with Koyoi in the dining room.
"Are you sure we should trust them?" Koyoi asked as she sat at the table, eating her meal while Zero sat across from her. He ate with a small section of his mask opened, revealing a mouth, but not his face.
"No, we shouldn't," Zero admitted. "But this could be an opportunity to gather followers should anyone become dissatisfied with this new order of knights."
"Are you certain of that?"
"I understand you are skeptical of my goals, but we'll need more followers if we want to change things for the better," Zero replied, seemingly easing Koyoi's concerns. "If we can get a closer look at those in power behind the scenes, that will help us formulate our plans better with more information."
"Very well, I have come to trust you this far, so I'll continue to follow you," Koyoi offered stoically, although Zero knew she had criticized some of his methods in the past. "But are you alright? I can't imagine what you saw in that village was…pleasant."
Pleasant was putting it too kindly. The sight of former villagers, young and old, had been transformed into living mushroom people with the females affected and consumed from the inside out by the spores they inhaled. Although Zero had no way to know if it was all at once or one by one, they had all lost themselves to the spores that reduced them to breeding mates for the newly transformed Matangos. Knowing what they once were and seeing them occupied in a continuous state of intercourse with their slowly turning male mates was anything but pleasant to behold. Any weaker-minded men who ever went into the village would suffer nightmares for weeks, which justified him burning it down.
Yet, Zero said nothing for a minute and merely tried to brush it aside.
"I am fine," Zero offered after a moment of silence, but yet Koyoi didn't seem to believe him.
"I don't think I believe that, but if you wish to talk, I can listen if you need someone for that purpose."
From there on, Zero continued to eat silently with his new accomplice.
Koyoi Amanomiya was a former member of the Amanomiya clan, which specialized in monster-slaying. Everyone was trained since birth to dedicate themselves to a life of hunting and slaying monsters. Their training and dedication to their trade were such that family members like Koyoi were forbidden from having friends unless approved by the family. Even partners for marriage chosen for them as well. Freedom and personal desires were forbidden.
That changed following a succession dispute between Koyoi and her elder sister after the disappearance of her youngest sibling. Unable to bear her family being harmed in a civil war, she left her home country, believing it was best. That was when she met Zero, who was on his way to Lescatie after his own journey to Zipangu.
Ever since the start of their partnership, the pair realized that they worked well together despite a difference in methods. The biggest one that Koyoi noticed was that she was mentally prepared for the horrors of what hunting some monsters could bring. Zero, on the other hand, was not.
"I'll speak to you in the morning then," Koyoi offered as she finished her meal, followed by Zero.
"Yes, I'll see you tomorrow Koyoi," Zero offered before bidding Koyoi good night.
Retiring to his room, Zero locked the door and made sure the windows and the covers were closed. Most importantly, he wanted to make sure that they were all locked.
Zero then took out a unique key, which unlocked a door leading into what appeared to be an empty room at first glance. He then reached into his cape and brought forth an artifact with a pulsing white crystal embedded between two serpents encircling it. Approaching a pile of rocks that formed a half-finished stone door frame, Zero raised the item as the light flashed upon the stones. The stones suddenly rose and built a door frame as a white wooden door materialized.
Pushing on the door with one hand, Zero entered the door revealing a mystical purple space beyond it. Stepping through the door, Zero began walking along a winding path upon a stone pathway that encircled a tree that was far bigger than the city itself.
At the top of the stairway, Zero came to another white door, but upon passing through it, he exited into a chamber with golden metal and stonework. It was ancient, being much older than most structures he had known, yet this was one of the few places he could remove his mask.
After pushing a hidden switch, a hissing sound could be heard as the mask unlocked itself. The back of the mask slid open, allowing Zero to take it off and reveal his face. Beneath the mask was the face of a fifteen-year-old teenager with short black hair, a fair skin complexion, and amethyst eyes.
"Welcome back to Earth, Lelouch," an old man spoke as he appeared to greet Zero by his real name.
The older man before him wore a black cloak with golden runes printed upon its edges. Lelouch couldn't see much of his face, but his single white eye glowed while the rest of his body was covered by the cloak he wore.
"I am glad to be back, even if it's for a little while," Lelouch replied before he followed the old man down one of the hallways.
"I trust everything went well for you? The Matango wasn't too much of a traumatic experience for you, was it?" The man in the black cloak asked.
"It," Lelouch admitted as his expression darkened slightly, appearing more haunted by the experience. "I'd rather not speak of it, Havi."
"I see, but what are your plans tomorrow?" Havi asked as Zero put his mask down.
"I will be joining the Ice Flower, a new knightly order established by one of the most powerful figures in the city led by his daughter."
"Oh, I see," Havi said with amusement, realizing Lelouch's intent. "So, you plan on using this to get a closer look at those who hold power behind the scenes?"
"Yes, and maybe if all goes well," Lelouch answered as his expression returned to his usual smirk as he focused more on his ultimate goal. "I could obtain more followers for my future goal to destroy Britannia."
Unknown to the world he was in, the man behind the mask was Lelouch vi Britannia, a former prince of the Holy Britannian Empire on another planet, another world called Earth.
Although no monsters exist on Earth, humanity has spread far and wide with three superpowers upon the world. One of them was the Holy Britannian Empire, dedicated to the goal of one day bringing the whole world under its rule. It had already conquered several smaller nations to expand its power and influence, driven by Social Darwinism, believing it was only natural for lesser countries to be defeated by them.
Lelouch was once a prince of the Empire. He was one of the many children of the Emperor Charles Zi Britannia. His mother, Marianne vi Britannia, was one of his many consorts and one of his favorites despite her common lineage. Tragically, his mother was murdered while shielding his younger sister, Nunnally vi Britannia, who was crippled below the waist and rendered blind by the trauma. His father brushed off Marianne's death and Nunnally's condition with cold indifference, which led to him angrily confronting the Emperor.
Lelouch was then banished to Japan, used as a political hostage alongside his sister. When Britannia invaded Japan, he was convinced that Britannian meant for him and Nunnally to die to justify the war.
Yet it seems fate would give Lelouch an opportunity to one day take revenge when he met Havi.
"I know I am far from ready to bring down an empire that controls one-third of the world," Lelouch mentioned as he followed Havi into a bedroom. "But the gold I have collected from my jobs has given me a good foundation to build upon."
"I see, so I'll leave the rest to you," Havi replied before gesturing to Lelouch's armor. "I am sure you want to clean up and get out of that armor. Rest up tonight, but make sure you return tomorrow as promised."
"If I must, but how is Nunnally?"
"Your sister is doing fine," Havi reassured Lelouch of his sister's well being. "Miss Sayoko has been keeping a close eye on her, as have I."
Lelouch hated spending so much time away from his sister. But regrettably, his purpose of destroying Britannia and creating a better world for her had to take priority.
Once Havi left, Lelouch took off the armor. Despite its construction, the armor was impressively light and comfortable to wear thanks to the Svartalfheim Steel from which it was created. The Black Armor was a relic from an ancient civilization and the last of its kind. It was an impressive piece of mage-smithing, which magic and technology were used to fashion it.
Changing into a simple white shirt and shorts, Lelouch stretched his limbs, appreciating the fact he was rid of the armor for the time being.
If not for the armor and the modifications that Havi had done to me, then those spores could've ensnared me, Lelouch thought, causing him to recall what he saw at that village much to his discomfort.
When Havi found him and Nunnally in Japan during the twilight of Japan, the elder took them in after saving them. Havi offered Lelouch to teach him how to fight and slay beings more dangerous than men, subsequently making him stronger and gifting him with vast amounts of knowledge that no one on Earth possessed.
Lelouch didn't trust Havi when they first met, but given his choices, he didn't have many other choices. He and Nunnally could've gone back to Britannia to end up a casualty of royal ambition. The other option was to seek the help of his mother's old allies and be kept as liability insurance. Neither option was favorable for Lelouch and his sister.
Choosing Havi had been so far the best choice he could've made at the time, even if he was unaware of the full benefits.
Even if Nunnally and I must be apart for a time, she'll be safer on Earth than in that world, Lelouch thought before he went to clean himself up, preparing for his work tomorrow.
The black knight knew well about the strength of Heroes in the other world, warriors blessed by the Gods that often granted them the power of over one thousand soldiers. Even though there weren't many and basic run-on-the-mill Heroes of the Order weren't prepared for what was to face, they would still be powerful considering their abilities. Besides the powerful enemy that Lescatie had to face, there was another that the Heroes would need to confront.
In Britannia, they also had powerful weapons of their own that made the invasion of Japan possible in the first place. The overall design was a five-meter-tall machine named the Humanoid Autonomous Armored Knights, more commonly known as the Knightmare Frame. Combined with all the technology on Earth that exceeded anything non-magical in the other world, they were still enough to wipe out entire armies by themselves. And unlike Heroes, which had to be handpicked and were rarer in number, these weapons could be mass-produced in large quantities and operated by anyone given enough training.
Regardless, Heroes of Lescatie, not to mention his partner from the Amonomiya clan, aren't something to push around in battle. They were initially made to combat monsters just as big before they became more human-like they are now. But even when pitted against advanced weaponry, with enough training and experience, they should be enough for him to take such powerful machines. With that and gold he collected, the potential resources of that world should be enough for him to build something capable of toppling Britannia.
And then, Lelouch thought as he closed his eyes. Maybe I'll do something about Lescatie.
The following morning back in Lescatie, Lelouch and Koyoi met with Priest Noscrim's messenger, who led them to one of the many training facilities for Heroes. Unlike some of the smaller complexes, they were led to one next to the castle itself, which was part of the nation's largest military base.
It was close to mid-day when the pair were met by the priest. In his company was a young woman around Lelouch's age with light blue hair hanging above her shoulders, blue eyes, and a fair skin complexion. She was dressed in attire befitting a young adventurer with knee-high leather boots, a short white dress with a white and gold-trimmed coat with blue upon the shoulders, a dark blue hairband, and leather bracers with a red cape.
"Thank you for coming, Zero," Baltus greeted before introducing the girl next to him, "This is my daughter, Wilmarina Noscrim, the future commander of the Holy Order of the Ice Flower."
"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Zero," Wilmarina said, offering a polite greeting. "My father told me much about you."
"The pleasure is all mine, as I heard much about your growing skills." Lelouch offered in return politely. "This is my partner, Amanomiya Koyoi, a former freelancing monster slayer before we teamed up to hunt them more efficiently."
"My lady," Koyoi greeted with a polite bow.
"I am pleased with your acquaintance, as well."
"Now, allow me to introduce the one we have placed in charge of training the recruits, including soldiers and other heroes to join our company," Baltus explained as he noticed another woman approaching the group.
She was older than both Wilmarina and Koyoi, being possibly in her late twenties with long grey hair tied into a top-knot ponytail, a tanned complexion, and a one grey eye. Her right eye was covered by a dark green headband used as a make-shift eye patch. Considering the scars upon her muscular thighs and a single scar visible on the left side of her exposed midriff, Lelouch assumed that the eye was something she lost in battle. She wore brown shorts, leather boots with armor plating on the shins and feet. A dark green coat belonging to military officers had its front open, revealing an armored stop that covered her bosom with a red tie attached to a collar.
In one black-gloved hand, she held her preferred weapon of choice, a halberd.
"This is Lady Mersé Dascaros, a veteran of many battles and one of our city's finest military trainers of both heroes and soldiers," Baltus introduced with a visible hint of pride. Lelouch suspected it was because he was able to include such an accomplished warrior among the Order's ranks.
"Your eminence, you falter me," Mersé offered with a lighthearted smile and tone to match.
"Nonsense, your reputation and the honors you have received are well deserved," Baltus was quick to add. "We are more than happy to have you part of our new Holy Order."
"So this is Zero, huh?" Mersé remarked, noticing the famed masked man. "You certainly have caused quite the stir since coming here. I heard about what you have done, but it takes some serious guts to take on a bunch of werewolves alone."
"It helped that I came well prepared for the encounter," Lelouch offered, but he raised an eyebrow from under his mask as Mersé began examining him.
"That armor of yours makes it hard to weigh how tough you are, so how about a spar?"
"I want to find out what you are made of," Mersé replied clearly, very interested in measuring Zero's strength as a warrior. "Depending on how you are, I could ask to help train the recruits."
"I don't see why not, but perhaps we should relocate to a more appropriate location if that will not be an inconvenience," Zero asked, turning to Wilmarina's father. "Or shall we postpone it for later?"
"No, it's no trouble at all," the priest replied. "But I, too, am curious to see your combat prowess first hand."
The group relocated to one of the training yards where promising soldiers or heroes would spar to test and improve their fighting skills.
Drawing from a space within his cape, Lelouch drew his preferred weapon of choice, a five-foot-long katana contained in a polished black sheath. The weapon, abnormally long for its type, possessed a polished black blade made of an otherworldly alloy with a purple tsukamaki handle wrapping. The golden pommel had a red gem embedded into it, and the golden tsuba had navy blue trimmings with a pair of serpents eating the other's tails.
"Nice sword," Mersé complimented.
"It was a gift from the man who trained me as was this armor I wear," Lelouch said, returning the compliment as he assumed a fighting stance. He placed one hand on the handle of his weapon, ready to draw from it.
Watching from the sidelines, Wilmarina became confused yet curious, prompting her to turn to Koyoi.
"Excuse me, but how did Zero bring in that sword? I don't recall seeing that hidden under his cape."
"I am not completely sure of the details myself," Koyoi explained, which intrigued Wilmarina. "From what Zero told me, his cape has a special magic that allows him to store different weapons in a separate space. He can access freely by reaching into it to grab what he needs depending on the situation."
"I never heard of such magic. What other weapons does he have?"
"I don't know the full extent of the arsenal he has, but I have seen him draw out firearms akin to muskets but of an unusual design. Besides the sword, he has other magical weapons as well. The only others I have seen are two swords of fire, an ax infused with powerful ice magic, and a hammer with the power of a storm."
"So this should be an interesting fight then," Baltus only smiled, " All the more reason I am pleased with the high-quality warriors and Heroes that the Order of the Ice Flower shall have."
Mersé adopted a fighting stance to mirror Lelouch's. A tense minute of silence would pass before Mersé made the first move. She rushed Lelouch raising her weapon, but Lelouch drew his blade with lightning-fast reflexes as their weapons met with sparks signifying the meeting of the two bladed-weapons.
Despite the different shapes and sizes of their weapons, Mersé and Lelouch confronted each other head-on. The veteran Hero hopped back while spinning around with her halberd. Lelouch then went into a defensive stand as she threw her weapon against him. The black knight deflected the projectile, only for Mersé to leap into the air again and grab it. She landed behind him and swung once more, only for Lelouch to barely block it.
As Mersé and Lelouch exchanged in a ferocious exchange of parries, Wilmarina and the others watched the fight with great interest. They could feel the strength both fighters would put into their attacks as each blow released a shockwave.
Such strength between them, Wilmarina thought as the spar continued to unfold. But how they fight is different.
Mersé started with raw power in her strikes in an attempt to overwhelm Lelouch. That was proven when she focused her spirit energy into her legs, giving her a notable boost in speed before shifting her energy into her halberd. With Lelouch locked with the enchanted weapon, she swiped at his feet with her legs barely blocking the blade once again.
It was clear that thanks to years of combat, Mersé stayed one step ahead of her opponent, using honed fighting instincts to her advantage by catching and deflecting his attacks. Zero had considerable strength but focused on precision to meet and intercept all of Mersé's attacks.
The impressive display was also beginning to draw a crowd of soldiers who could hear the battle taking place, so they all came to witness it. Many, just as Wilmarina, were impressed by the sparring match unfolding. Both Lelouch and Mersé were holding their own, respectively, against the other despite a clear difference in age and experience.
After two more swings, Zero countered back pressed with the blade of his sword, forcing Mersé backward. The veteran officer recovered by landing both feet on the stone pillars of the training facility, launching herself back at her opponent. The black knight, driven by instinct that he couldn't withstand that kind of power, hopped away as the impact created a small crater. As shockwave blew dust into the eyes of the recruits, even Wilmarina and her father had to take a step back to avoid being knocked down. Koyoi, however, remained still as her hakama blew in the wind.
Zero then raised his sword in front, awaiting the veteran Hero to appear from the dust cloud. He only got a sight of Mersé leaping elsewhere to the side, causing them to lock each other's weapons once again. The younger warrior crouched down and leaned backward to prevent Mersé from using her fists or legs to knock him down last time. The blade lock then continued to last for a minute as Lelouch and Mersé pushed each other, with neither of them wearing out.
Actually, due to his younger age, Lelouch experience some fatigue in his arms and legs. However, thanks to his armor, that wasn't shown in front of his audience. However, before he could give in, Mersé leaped back to break the lock. Before Lelouch could take the initiative, she raised her hand in the air.
"Ok, that's enough," Mersé replied cheerfully before wiping some sweat from her forehead. "Now that was a fight. You have skills for being so young?"
"How could you tell I am young?" Lelouch inquired as he sheathed his sword.
"Your movements tell me, though you are very experienced and well trained," Mersé answered before noticing the crowd they had drawn. "I hope the lot of you learned something from watching us fight. He just set a new bar for the rest of you!"
"Well then," Zero put his sword away as the crowd went into an explosion of murmurs. The one behind the mask expected to have Heroes and soldiers swarming with questions, which is why he went straight to the priest before anything happened. "Shall we get to the topic at hand?"
"Of course," the priest complied as he went to Mersé. "Have you called in the recruits?"
"I have," Mersé nodded as she addressed the man. "Your men drew them from the training academies, taking only the very best and those with promise besides those you have invited."
"Very well," the priest then went to his daughter. "I suppose this is an excellent time for you to become familiar with those who will be under your command once their training is complete."
"You heard him! All of you line up!" Mersé commanded as the recruits quickly lined up in the training yard. "Let's start with our more experienced candidates who have formed their own trio."
The first in line was a young woman around Wilmarina's age, but perhaps a year or so older. She had long blonde hair, blue eyes, and a fair skin complexion. She wore a dark blue uniform standard for most recruits in the lineup, but like Wilmarina, she had been trained to become a hero since childhood.
It's likely at the insistence of her father, Lelouch thought bitterly over young people pressed into a dangerous lifestyle. Her father also probably wanted her to be a Hero for the sake of furthering his political career,
"Alright, tell Priest Noscrim your name, soldier," Mersé commanded.
"I am Olivie Amaltia, from the House of Amaltia," Olivie said, introducing herself.
"Ah, I know your father," Baltus complimented proudly. "He has proven to be an excellent ally. He has told me you have exceptional skills in fencing and skilled with a musket. I look forward to how you will grow within our new order."
"Thank you for your words, Your Eminence," Oliver replied respectfully.
"Next," Mersé said as they moved down the row.
The woman next to Oliver appeared to be the same age as her. Unlike Oliver, she had cocoa brown hair with blue eyes and a fair complexion. Compared to Oliver, who seemed more dignified and compassionate at a glance, this woman was more free-spirited and carefree.
"My name is Paula Tronmail," the recruit greeted with a smile. "Nice to meet you."
"Yes, I heard about you, as my daughter recommended you for our order," Baltus remarked, clearly initially dismissive about something but seeming to overlook it. "I had some reservations, but you are without question the finest sharpshooter among our recruits. Nothing has ever escaped your sights with a musket. I am pleased to see my daughter has developed a keen eye for talent."
Glancing to his side without anyone noticing, Lelouch noticed Wilmarina gazing at her father.
Now that I think about it, I heard the name as well, Lelouch recalled meeting with a man with the same surname. Judging by Paula's posture, she came from a more relaxed family, given her carefree stance and attitude. Tronmail was the surname belonging to a family of nobles who have ties to the local law enforcement but had only poor lands beyond the city. I once accepted a job from presumably her father, if I am right.
"Next is the last member of our trio," Mersé explained, introducing the third member. "We have noticed these three work very well together, so we plan on having them develop a three-person unit."
She was a blonde-haired young woman with yellow eyes who respectfully stood at the attention. Unlike the other two, she was around Lelouch and Wilmarina's age.
"This one I invited personally to join," Baltus replied proudly, but more at the fact he had secured another talented individual for the new Holy Order. "The poor girl lost her family during a monster invasion upon her village. She was taken in by the Order and became very devoted. She shows considerable promise and natural talent that the Goddess herself had blessed her."
"My name is Alameria Crescentria," Alameria said, offering her name.
"I look forward to your performance in the coming battles, Alameria," Baltus said with a smile.
"I hope you will not disappoint."
"I shall not!" Alameria replied with a determined expression.
I know that look she wants retribution for losing her parents, Lelouch thought. I can sympathize with that, so I wonder if her commitment to the Order of the Chief God is genuine.
"Our next recruits are those we have pulled from various training facilities finding the most exceptional among them like this young woman," Baltus explained as they moved to those Lelouch knew were those from commoner families. "However, this one has drawn my daughter's eye as well, so we'll have high expectations for you."
"Thank you, your eminence," the young woman said respectfully.
Like some of those gathered, this girl was young, also around the same age as Lelouch possessing short blonde hair and matching yellow eyes. There was a fierce determination in her eyes, and noticing the cuts and dirt upon her face was a sign this woman had been busy training.
I wonder if she lost something because I am confident something is pushing her to get stronger, Lelouch thought.
"My name is Luciana Sausare; it's an honor to be chosen for your new Holy Order," Luciana offered with a bow. "I was simply the daughter of a rabbit farmer."
"Yes, but out of most, if not all of the recruits we scouted, you are by far the most driven and determined learning swordsmanship at an impressively young age. You seem to be a natural prodigy when it comes to combat, so it would be madness not to cultivate such talent."
Baltus noted before gesturing to move down the row further.
"My lady," a woman bowed to the daughter who also approached her.
Lelouch also went over to a long blonde-haired woman with blue eyes, wearing white plate armor trimmed with blue and a white cape. She was dressed in the classic image of a Knight.
"Zero, this is Lady Vermut, my daughter's bodyguard."
"A pleasure to meet you," Lelouch offered politely.
"Likewise," Vermut returned the greeting.
"Next we have this one," Mersé introduced a boy with short blue hair and blue eyes. Unlike those present, he didn't seem like the athletic type, not that Lelouch was one to talk considering how weak his body had been as a child. "His older brother is a knight, but regrettably, he was called away on family business today."
"It's fine," Baltus replied. "Although this one isn't as skilled as his brother, I heard he shows promise as a mage and has a strategic mind, so he could be useful still if he proves himself."
"T-Thank you," The boy offered meekly. "I am Eva Mistiv."
Next in line, to Lelouch's surprise and worry, was a ten-year-old girl with long blue hair and matching eyes with a fair skin complexion. Judging by her expression, her emotions were a mixture of determination and anger towards something.
"Next is one of our growing talents," the priest went on. "She has shown great promise with both a sword and magic despite her age."
"My name is Parshe Lufarshe," Parshe said, introducing herself.
Are you seriously bringing a child into this army? Lelouch thought with alarm.
"The one next to her possesses very incredible magical talent for someone so young," Baltus said before introducing another child standing next to Parshe. "She mastered elemental arts by the time she was five and completed her studies at our highest institute of magic by ten. Never has our city been blessed with such a prodigy."
"The name is Mimil Miltie!" The girl replied cheerfully, who was seemingly opposite of Parshe.
Talented or not, I think they are too young for this, Lelouch felt quite uneasy, but he couldn't risk his future goals, so he uncomfortably swallowed his displeasure and buried it for now.
If anything, Lelouch felt more determined to do something about this state of affairs in the future. He had no love for anyone who would use children as tools.
"And we are down to the last few." Baltus said before they came face to face with another woman, "But these individuals are quite talented."
This woman appeared to be around the same age as Lelouch and Wilmarina. Still, she had characteristics of a half-elf, which surprised the black knight. During his stay, he learned how half-bloods were discriminated against by both humans and elves alike. She possessed long green hair tied into a pair of long twin ponytails with purple eyes and a scowl on her face.
If she has endured the discrimination I expected most like her have suffered from, I can't blame her.
The last recruit was a young man with short red hair and blue eyes with a fair skin complexion who looked quite normal among the group.
"This one I heard has made quite the impression with his trainers," Baltus said, eyeing the boy with suspicion.
Only Lelouch noticed this, but in the corner of his eye, Wilmarina seemed interested in the young man, hinting at a previous connection. Still, feeling a glare, Lelouch glanced without turning his head. He then got Luciana glaring at the scene slightly while trying to hide it.
I see, the masked man realized what was going on. Willmarina is attracted to this boy, and her father hates that because he has no social standing. On the other hand, Luciana knows the boy and is striving to become an ideal Knight to win his heart.
It was a hidden love triangle if there wasn't anything better to name it.
"My name is Elt, sir," the young boy introduced himself. "It's an honor to serve as a soldier."
"Be sure it stays that way," Baltus offered as a compliment, but there was a hidden threat beneath it.
"Rest assured, this one has been becoming one of my best students driven to learn and improve his fighting skills," Mersé offered, unaware of the tension in the air. "If we got more soldiers like him, then we could make one heck of an army with such men."
You better be careful, came the words Lelouch wanted to offer Elt.
In the Theocracy of Lescatie, there was an unspoken law that those of not the proper social standing would not mingle, let alone get married. If a lowly soldier fell in love with a Hero woman, it would be significantly frowned upon by those in the highest levels of power in the kingdom. Marriages involving heroes were made for the benefit of their family for political reasons without the feelings of the Hero.
Lelouch had heard men like Baltus employed assassins to eliminate those who got too close to a Hero or those whose social standing much higher than them. Rumors had that they were Heroes trained personally by the priest to serve as a secret police unit for his ambitions.
If I can figure out who the assassins are and how they operate, then maybe I could get to these couples and offer them sanctuary in exchange for their loyalty.
It was an idea Lelouch was considering, but that was not the only problem. He had to determine if they were trustworthy for them to become allies, making such a plan work without discovery to be quite difficult.
Every day, I find a reason making me wonder if I should overthrow Lescatie first before Britannia.
Little did Lelouch know there were powerful forces at work behind the scenes, which could dramatically change everything. But for now, Lelouch needed to stay on Baltus's good side for his plans for the Theocracy of Lescatie to have a chance to work.
And once that was done, it would be time to pour all of his efforts against the real threat.
A/N: well, that is the beginning, and this happens two years before events of CG. However, it will hurt being away from Nunnally, yet Lelouch has his other reasons for spending time in this world since he sees a potential pool of powerful recruits. Each hero has the strength of a thousand men, so consider what soldiers could they be in a force like the Black Knights.
Furthermore, its more opportunities for experience for Lelouch to become a later, and magic weapons aren't all that he has.
Now I am uncertain if Priest Norscrim is Wilmarina's father or just the head of the family due to some conflicting bits in some of the character profiles. So just to play it safe, I decided to just fuse the two together. Furthermore, for the Chief God or Goddess, I have seen the name of the religion used slightly differently, so I may use them interchangeably since I haven't seen a more common title for the religion.
And I know they use musket-like guns and rifles, so I thought I refer to them as such just to be safe if anyone was wondering.
Now on my profile, I do have a poll going to decide the harem, and while I'll mention which Code Geass characters I may include, I am focusing on the characters Lelouch will be meeting before he meets the CG cast later on.
I am almost decided on a lineup, but I am curious to hear if anyone believes a particular character would be better besides the traditional Code Geass choices mentioned on the poll. Furthermore, those who win the poll could escape an inevitable coming disaster hinted upon on the poll, or those familiar with Monster Encyclopedia should know what is coming.
So thank you in advance for your feedback and reviews, and I'll see you in the next chapter, which is already underway.