A/N: Thank you all for the reviews, favorites, and follows. I must say I am also surprised to see it reach a thousand views so quickly.
Once more special thanks to JameyoftheMegacosmos for his contributions, including editing and fact-checking with everything on the Monster Girl Encyclopedia to ensure everything fits just right.
Also, to those wondering why my other stories haven't been updated, well, I do have a chapter for the "Demon and his Knights" just about ready to post it. I am just debating on a final scene, but as for the rest to summarize it without spending too much time on the subject, call it a lack of confidence in some parts of those stories I am stuck on.
Anyway, let us proceed with the chapter.
The Order of the Ice Flower
"I don't like this," Zero said as he examined a map of the area set upon a wooden table.
Standing around the map and the table were Wilmarina and Eva. Compared to his days as a recruit, the apprentice was wearing a new attire consisting of shorts, long leather boots, a blue collared shirt with a vest, and a blue tie.
"I agree that there is a risk," Eva offered as he came to the same conclusion.
"The dam here provides the enemy with a way to flood the valley, drowning our troops," Zero pointed out, tapping a dam upon the map.
"Or they could rain arrows and artillery down upon us."
"Perhaps we could seize the dam?" Wilmarina asked as she folded both arms before moving a hand to her chin while contemplating the situation.
"We could," Eva agreed before he cautioned. "But if the enemy realizes they lost the dam, they could use the captured fortress's cannons to destroy it, putting our forces at risk."
Presently, the Order of the Ice Flower had set up camp a safe distance away from the entrance into Moomin valley, which was a strategic location for the Theocracy of Lescatie. Not only was a passage through the valley vital for traders from other kingdoms, but it was crucial for military offenses against the Demon Realms nearby. At the same time, the fortress provided a rest stop for Heroes seeking to venture within the Demon Realms, fighting to push them back.
About two weeks ago, the kingdom heard that monsters had seized both the fortress and the nearby valley. Although another order dispatched to reclaim them, their failure prompted the Order of the Ice Flower to carry out the mission. Along the way, they found survivors from the fallen knight order, and so the meeting was conducted to go over what they had learned.
"Unless we employ a small task force to take the dam quietly," Lelouch suggested with Eva nodding, liking the idea as well. "Then, we can support our main force when they attack the fortress, raining arrows from the mountainside."
"Could we also deploy a smaller force to infiltrate the fortress and open the gates to allow our forces entry?" Wilmarina inquired.
"That could work," Zero contemplated. "We should maybe ask Kirsch to put together some volunteers. We should investigate the area and see if runners are dispatched between the fortress and dam to ensure they are still in control of it."
"I approve of that idea, and once Zero seizes the dam, our forces will move towards the fortress under cover of night," Wilmarina suggested, pointing at a dense forest at the top of the area around the fortress. "Once you have archers in an ideal position, you can provide support from above from the cliffs."
"We'll have to act quietly and quickly to avoid alerting the enemy at the fortress."
"I concur," Wilmarina then turned to the sole male of her Knights. "Eva, assemble those most suitable for the party, and summon Kirsch in here."
"Yes, ma'am," Eva replied with a bow before leaving the tent.
"Did the survivors say anything else?" Lelouch inquired as he folded his arms over his chest.
"No," Wilmarina answered before she stepped back from the table to take a deep breath. "But so far, reports confirm that the majority of the enemy are Amazonesses with some Dark Warriors counted among them at the fortress."
"I thought Amazoness didn't form large groups like this," Zero put one hand on his chin. He contemplated how unusual such a large number of Amazoness could seize not only a fortress but the dam as well.
They've seized two critical positions in this valley. Could another monster be driving their actions?
Amazonesses was formerly a race of warrior women until succubi entered their village and converted them all into monsters following the ascension of the new Demon Lord Lilith. No one understood how it happened, but until over a thousand years ago, all monsters that had formerly hunted humans to consume their flesh all became female. Furthermore, they all had the shared characteristics of a Succubus engraved into all of them in one shape or form. The fact no male monsters were no longer being born among them made the race of monsters entirely dependent upon human males for reproduction and feeding on their spirit energy.
Amazonesses typically venture from their camps to hunt or capture potential mates. So how and why did so many of them gather to seize a fortress?
Before and during his time in this world, Lelouch studied various monsters and their subspecies. He was familiar with most of them, especially the more common types usually spotted around the kingdom. Still, he could find no reason to explain their behavior, which only urged him to be cautious.
"So did I," Wilmarina replied, "Do you think something is behind them?"
"We should probably proceed on the assumption that a powerful monster could be influencing the Amazonesses as a precaution," Zero advised as the tent opened. "Better to sometimes overreact than to regret it later."
Just when the masked knight went over his thoughts, another woman who was twenty years of age entered the tent.
"You summoned me?" the soldier asked softly. The woman possessed long black hair with a red bow on the back of her head. She wore a black coat over a white shirt that left her stomach exposed and black shorts with knee-high leather boots while wearing black gloves armed with a sword and a dagger.
"Yes, Kirsch," Wilmarina began as she began going over the map. "We determined that we'll need to seize the dam before we can retake the fortress. We're going to use the cliffs that lead from the dam so our archers can support our main force as we invade the fortress. But we need to know what the enemy's routine on the dam is, so we can create the illusion that everything is normal to mislead them. We also need to know if any runners go between the dam and the fortress, and if so, when."
"Attack after the runner leaves? Do not alert the enemy?" Kirsch said, stoically understanding the mission and the purpose behind it. Lelouch heard from the commander that she was initially born in the poorest slums and Lescatie and raised as an assassin for the Norscrim family. It was a harsh reality that she wasn't taught much in terms of language and communication, only speaking what's necessary.
"If you feel you must take some men with you," Wilmarina commanded as she confirmed. "Just observe their actions and report back."
"I shall carry out the mission," Kirsch bowed politely, "I'll depart immediately."
Kirsch immediately took off. Now that Wilmarina was alone again, Zero came to notice that she was quiet, seemingly bothered by something.
"You don't trust her, do you?" Zero inquired.
"Anyone assigned to me by my father yes, but mostly her," Wilmarina answered before turning to Lelouch and smiling lightly. "Well, I trust you, at least."
"I appreciate it of all things considered. I wouldn't blame you if you did."
"I am grateful for your understanding," Wilmarina replied with a thin smile. "Still, your help has been greatly appreciated."
"You have proven to be a capable commander yourself," Lelouch offered as a compliment as he thought to himself.
I actually would like someone like you to serve under me as a commander, or better yet, we could be partners.
Despite Lelouch being wary of Wilmarina at first, the pair proved to be a formidable pair. Between Wilmarina's leadership and charisma, combined with Zero's extraordinary strategic mind, they turned the Order of the Ice Flower into an invincible company over the past two years since the pair first met. Likewise, Wilmarina had been wary of the masked knight due to his dealings with her father. Still, any distrust eased due to his contributions, which made him both popular and a mystery among their followers.
Enemy armies would now flee from them, and any monsters in their path would be slaughtered. But this task before them was a challenge due. Not only the enemy force was large, but the enemy had a strategic advantage in this valley.
However, the role of Lescatie's greatest hero is nothing more than a gilded cage, Lelouch thought about Wilmarina. You've been caged for the sake of your father's political career, making you more of a tool, no more like he has kept you like a doll.
The Theocracy of Lescatie hailed Wilmarina as the greatest hero and the hope of humanity, but there was a price. Wilmarina has been more or less a caged bird with no freedom, made for walking the path her parents decided, and even the ability to have friends was stripped from her.
Circumstances were different, but Lelouch understood the plight in Wilmarina.
"Kirsch will not return for a while," Lelouch offered. "What's on your mind?"
"Its nothing," Wilmarina seemed surprised by the sudden question, but she tried to brush it off. "I suppose I am hoping all will go well."
"With all due to respect, you are lying," Lelouch replied bluntly. "It's terrible to say this to a hero, but I can tell as well."
The young woman seemed rather offended slightly, but she too brushed it aside and sighed.
"Am I that easy to read?"
"I am afraid so, which I advise you should take into account when talking to certain people."
"I suppose I have been anxious about someone," Wilmarina began to say, but quickly stopped herself. "No, forget it, you wouldn't understand."
"You might be surprised," Zero offered in response crossing both arms under his chest.
Wilmarina looked at Lelouch with a curious expression, but she knew there wasn't much she could glean from the man due to his mask.
"Alright," Wilmarina said as she took the unspoken challenge Lelouch laid down to her. "I am sure you are familiar with Elt, aren't you?"
"He's Mersé's favorite student, and a beloved childhood friend for yours, isn't he?"
Wilmarina's face held a mix of shock and annoyance as her cheeks turned pink.
"Did you learn all of that by spying on me?!"
"No, your expression told me everything," Lelouch shook his masked head. "I have seen how you been looking at him when you think no one is looking and how he looks at you. Those signs told me you two must've known each other for a long time, maybe since children, given how you responded upon seeing him among the recruits two years ago."
Wilmarina didn't know if she should be impressed or angry with Zero for having deduced her past relationship with Elt. Zero's answer verbally sucker-punched her by revealing he had picked up on their connection through observation.
"Don't be that ashamed," Lelouch admitted. "I too once had a friend I was close with as a child, so I understand how you feel, even if the feeling and circumstances are different?"
"Different?" Wilmarina reacted as any annoyance and anger she had evaporated, replaced with curiosity.
Lelouch was carefully considering how to explain without revealing too much, making this a risky gamble.
"When I was a child, I was cast out to a foreign land. Trusting people became…problematic for me."
I don't want to reveal too much, but if it helps cultivate a stronger trust between us, then all the better, Lelouch considered. There is no reward without risk.
"My father more or less banished me following the murder of my mother," Lelouch admitted after much careful deliberation. "My sister was also sent with me after she was left crippled in the same incident."
Lelouch knew this was very risky to reveal this much, but Wilmarina was the kingdom's most revered heroine. Should his plan to overthrow the nobility and the Order take place, then having her endorse his cause would be a huge boon. Winning her trust would be critical for the sake of that plan.
"Your father? But why would he do that?"
"I confronted him over his lack of action in finding those responsible for her murder," Lelouch answered as Wilmarina looked at him in stunned silence. "It ended with me banished along with my sister as he deemed both of useless. He didn't care that my sister's legs became paralyzed when our mother died in shielding her."
Lelouch felt a flash of anger as he recalled when he saw his mother's body lying near the bottom of the stairs, clutching a terrified and wounded Nunnally.
Wilmarina didn't know how to respond. Although she couldn't see his face, she could feel the sorrow and suppressed anger radiated through the mask. Her curiosity to learn Zero's identity had only grown, but there was clearly more to that story.
"So, this friend you met then?"
"He was the son of an official in the land we were banished to, and I was quite distrustful of everyone at the time, so we didn't initially get along. But through my sister, we managed to become friends, and he was the first real one I had."
"We were separated after war erupted in that nation," Lelouch remarked bitterly. "It seems my father had hoped that we would die in the invasion, which would've benefited him. As for my friend, I never learned what happened to him, but I am certain that he survived."
"That's…quite the story."
"I don't blame you if you don't believe me," Lelouch acknowledged, wondering if he might've revealed too much. "I will admit there are a few details I have kept, but only because it would involve revealing my identity and other details, I would rather keep close to the chest."
"You certainly love your secrets, don't you," Wilmarina said with a sigh.
"I have good reasons, I assure you. One, I am sure you can guess."
"It's because you are worried your mother's killers might recognize who you are?"
Lelouch nodded in confirmation after Wilmarina instantly deducted to her answer.
"While I am confident that they are nowhere in Lescatie, I am not taking any chances."
"I see, but you mentioned a sister?"
"Yes," Lelouch answered, "She is living somewhere safe."
"Why haven't you moved her to Lescatie?"
Lelouch carefully contemplated his answer.
"There are certain parties in the city I am wary of, which I am sure you understand. But if I can do something about it, then maybe you'll get to meet her."
Wilmarina was interested in meeting Zero's sister, curious about what she was like, but on the one hand, something Lelouch drew her attention.
"What do you mean by certain parties?"
"Well, my sister wishes for the world to become a gentle place. Aside from the monsters who cause problems, I wish to do something about the rest of the world. For instance, I aim to do something about the chains that keep heroes from living as they wish because they risk their lives for the people, so shouldn't they be allowed more freedom than having their lives decided for them?"
Lelouch's words resonated within Wilmarina. It was a defiance to the unspoken law in Lescatie that forbade relationships between heroines such as her or anyone whose social standing was too different. Wilmarina remembered what happened to Elt when they were children. Despite being the child of servants who served their family, the two were able to play together.
Those were some of the best days of my life, but…
All good things had to come to an end with Wilmarina's father. He became suspicious and wrongfully believed Elt's parents were attempting to use their friendly relationship with Wilmarina to climb the social ladder. So Elt's parents were cast out without a recommendation, and the last Wilmarina heard they had all died. But when Wilmarina saw Elt in that line up two years ago, she realized her father had lied to her.
My father doesn't allow anyone whose social standing isn't close nor equal to mines near me.
Since that day, Wilmarina killed the young girl she was and focused on being a hero. Although her beloved childhood friend had come back into her life, any attempt to approach him would only result in him killed.
I wish to do something about the rest of the world, too, she thought as she asked.
"How would you accomplish that?"
"I won't be easy," Lelouch answered, speaking with confidence. "But I am working closer to have the means to begin laying the groundwork for it. It's part of the reason I became a mercenary. I wish I could do something faster, but if all goes well, maybe I can."
It was that same confidence Wilmarina knew that when Zero said he would make it possible, he does.
"I sincerely hope your sister's wish for this world to become gentler will happen, and if I can, I will gladly help you."
Lelouch smiled under the mask.
"Thank you, Wilmarina. I appreciate that."
Around the same time in another corner of the camp, Koyoi was sitting a short distance away from the tent Wilmarina and Zero occupied while Vermut stood guard outside. Luciana was next to Koyoi on the same fallen log where they ate.
In the two years since joining the Order of the Ice Flower, Luciana swapped out her recruit's uniform for her preferred outfit. Her person choice consisted of a white and gold jacket, only buttoned up at the top. Covering her legs was a brown belt, a blue loincloth dress, long dark blue knee socks, and brown shoes. She held a brown sheath behind her for her long sword, and all around her uniform were gold and silver cross emblems of the Order.
"So," Luciana asked with a mixture of curiosity and concern. "Any idea why Zero still keeps wearing his armor? I heard he has been sleeping while wearing it."
"Wearing that armor all the time can't be good for him."
The comment came from the newest arrival, Alameria Crescentia, who chose to sit down with Luciana. Alameria's new personal attire she wore upon completing her training as part of the Three Musketeers consisted of a large black tricornered hat with purple feathers and a silver cross emblem. The rest of her attire had a bikini-top breastplate with black gauntlets, a black skirt, and gloves along with black and silver boots.
"He has to take it off to bathe, doesn't he?" Luciana insisted.
"Ever since I have known him, Zero has never taken off his armor, at least not in my presence," Koyoi answered. "He always locked himself in his room and placed magical seals to prevent anyone from entering."
"Magic seals, huh?"
Now joining them, much to the slight annoyance of Koyoi, were Mimil followed by Parshe. The young pair had taken an interest in the conversation and decided to sit next to Koyoi.
"What kind of seals are we talking about?" Mimil asked. "They are probably overlapping magical barriers if he set them upright."
Like the others in the Order, and due to her position as their most powerful magic user, Mimil wore a bright and more colorful outfit of her own choice. It consisted of mostly white, pink, magenta colors with gold trimmings. Her feet had long white socks under her red shoes and long bell-shaped white sleeves attached to her arms. Separate from her frilly dress, she wore a white bow on her head.
"I don't think they would be anything complex," Parshe added.
Opposite of Mimil, yet more similar to Luciana, Parshe wore white and blue cape from her waist and shorts and brown leader boots. Her uniform was more comfortable to work with due to wielding a short sword instead of a magic staff.
"Meaning I should be able to crack them easily," Mimil offered boldly.
"Maybe we could get a look at what Zero looks like under his mask?" Luciana asked with growing curiosity. "Is he disfigured under that mask or something else?"
"Maybe he's a demi-human," a certain redhead entered the group. He could help but eavesdrop on the conversation, which more ire than he anticipated.
Elt, being a soldier, wore the standard uniform of a soldier of the kingdom, which included a tunic with the kingdom's emblem and chainmail with armor upon his shins and forearms.
"This has nothing to do with you," Parshe retaliated over his presence. "Why don't you head back before your boss chews you out again?"
"Sorry, I just couldn't help it," Elt apologized. "I mean, there has to be a reason he wears a mask. Considering how the Order is, I doubt that they'd simply trust him just by showing his face."
"Like you're the one to talk," Primera entered the conversation, suddenly dropped down from the tree. She spent her time observing the camp herself but could let the discussion below pass when it got to that point. "There's something up with that guy if she's too cowardly to show who he is."
Primera had a much more elvish, if slightly more revealing, appearance compared to her Order compatriots. She had metal bracers, boots, and knee socks that all had a green leaf symbolism to them. She also had a shirt and left shoulder of a similar design with large purple leaves sticking out like a skirt. Lastly, her bow had an elvish appearance as well, complete with dark green colors.
"Well, what I mean is...what if he's some kind of crossbreed between a human and a monster? Half-elves are one thing, but I don't think that they'll easily listen to someone who has a connection to what we're fighting."
That was true, although many in the group were doubtful about that. They were confident that if it were true, the Order would've noticed something like that by now. On the other hand, the fact that Zero was mysteriously immune to things that would've enthralled other men under a monster's spell was definitely out of the ordinary. One example was when he infamously burned down a village that had been overrun by Matangos, whose spores could easily trap both men and women with no known defense against them. The story was that the armor Zero wore granted him peculiar enchantments that rendered him immune but was not available for reproduction. Moreover, some suspected there was likely more to that story than Zero was willing to reveal.
"Maybe we can answer one mystery tonight," Mimil suggested with a grin, which led to Luciana smiling as well.
A short time later, a group of infiltrators approached Zero's tent. Luciana led the team, peaking behind the tree Primera was on before giving the all-clear. Mimil and Parshe trailed behind them, doing their best to keep themselves as quiet as possible. The three heard what sounded like splashes of hot water. There was also a dim light within the tent, which showed a pretty young body, something proved by Merse during the spar. Despite having an idea of what he looks like, nothing is good without getting up close and personal
"We really shouldn't be doing this," Elt tried in vain to be the voice of reason. He didn't understand why they had to tag him along, but he was the omega among the pack.
"Come on, we're just going to get a look at him without his mask," Luciana said, trying to dispel the worries of her friend.
"But if we try to spy on Zero while he is bathing..."
"If we time it right, we should just see his face, so I wouldn't worry," Mimil said, waving her hand dismissively. "Now, let's get a look at these magical barriers he has set up."
The quartet of infiltrators crawled on the ground to make sure they didn't alert the masked knight. Luciana ensured that Vermut was away from the tent, telling her the Wilmarina had an errand for her. Although she'd figure out that was a lie, it provided just enough time for Mimil to conduct the next phase of the plan.
Parshe looked over Mimil's shoulder, curious about the magical barriers and wards Zero had established around his tent. Some of the mystical barriers Mimil discovered were your standard elemental barriers. But laced on top were magical barriers designed to suppress sound and block attempts from peering inside using mystical means or otherwise. Naturally, there was a barrier that prevented unwanted intrusion.
"Not bad, Zero was very thorough in setting up these barriers," Mimil complimented with a smirk.
"So, can you break through them?" Luciana asked.
"Of course, I can, but give me a few minutes. If I am too direct, it might alert Zero."
"Can we please stop this?" Elt said, trying once again in vain to stop his friends.
As Mimil began working on the barriers, Parshe and Luciana kept watching outside for anyone coming. Luciana looked up to one of the high branches on the tree they hid behind no so long ago. Watching from the tree was Primera, who had quietly observed the scene unfold and gave Luciana the signal. After they were working on the barrier, she turned away, shaking her head away from the troublemakers.
After a few minutes, Mimil attempt at cracking the barriers was a success.
"I got it!" Mimil said after successfully undoing the barriers Zero had established, which only served as a testament to Mimil's magical skills despite her age.
"Wait!" Elt said in desperation as they all peeked into the tent.
With the barriers down, Mimil used her magic to search inside the tent but found no one inside prompting Koyoi to enter to check if Zero was indeed inside. No one was inside the tent, and the bed was empty with only a suitcase sitting in the center of the tent.
"Huh!?" Parshe exclaimed as she barged into the empty tent. She swore that they all saw Zero's figure within the dim light not so long ago. But all they found was unrolled sleeping gear, the small lantern, and what looked like a large suitcase in the center. "Where is Zero!?"
"I can't believe you people are attempting this!" Just when the others in the party noticed the confusion among Parshe, they heard the loud and sharp voice that belonged to Koyoi. The shocked group turned to the Zipanguese monster slayer with both arms folded across her chest. "I truly thought none of you would stoop this low."
"Come on, Koyoi, don't tell me you are curious who Zero looks like under the mask?" Luciana said, trying to convince Koyoi to join in their effort, but Koyoi was stone-faced.
"It doesn't matter who it is under the mask," Koyoi replied firmly. "I can't allow this childish behavior to continue."
"I have to agree," Wilmarina said, appearing behind Elt and Luciana, causing their blood to run cold. Even worse, Wilmarina was also accompanied by her personal knight Vermut and Mersé, who each looked down at Elt and Luciana with disapproving eyes. "I knew there was something wrong when Vermut said about a little 'errand' that needed to be done."
"Looks like you haven't been disciplined enough to worthy of this Order," Mersé gave her share of words before aiming towards Elt. "And that especially goes for you, soldier. I expected much better from someone like you!"
"M-Me!?" Elt exclaimed. "Why am I the one being punished?"
"Unbelievable," Wilmarina folded her arms. "You bunch are the last people I would've expected this from. You should all feel ashamed of yourselves!"
"I don't want to hear it any of it. Not from someone who just got caught being a peeping tom when you shouldn't be looking."
"Luciana, Big Brother Elt, he's gone!" Mimil came out of the tent along with Parshe. Wilmarina, Mersé, and Koyoi would glare at the girls for their behavior, which they did but were alarmed to hear what she reported. "Zero's not here in his tent!"
"That cannot be right," Vermut noted as she and Wilmarina were both confused. "I know Zero went in five minutes ago."
Wilmarina, Mersé, and Vermut entered the tent, where they found Mimil's claims to be true. There was no one inside the tent, even though Vermut was sure that he bathed in his tent the last time he checked. Koyoi merely sighed, knowing this wasn't going to end well.
"Where is Zero?" Wilmarina asked, but no one knew.
Suddenly the suitcase opened up, revealing the top of a ladder sticking out. Lelouch, dressed as Zero, emerged from the suitcase, much to the confusion and surprise of everyone seeing him from the entrance of his open tent. Upon exiting, Lelouch noticed the shocked expressions of all the girl and soldier boy in front of them. Instead of being surprised by the visitors, the black knight merely laughed at the encounter.
"I had a feeling someone would break my barriers and attempt to get a look at me," Lelouch remarked, amused at the situation. "Fortunately, I had planned for such an event."
"Can you explain all of this, Zero?" Wilmarina gazed at the open luggage with the concealed space inside. It bewildered her over how strange and creative the knight has gotten with this weird magic of his.
"Hiding in my tent is too much of a risk for me to keep my identity hidden," the black knight closed the suitcase before putting it back up on a shelf. "Therefore, I use the same magic that stores my weapons to create a private space for myself when my armor isn't needed."
"What were you hiding in?" Wilmarina asked as her curiosity caused her to forget about disciplining Elt and Luciana for the moment.
"A simple bag, which has been modified with magic to contain a nondimensional space inside. It allows me to store just about anything within."
"Wait a moment," The Ice Flower Hero noticed something new about Zero. "Your armor, it is different now."
Zero's helmet was still the same, but the armor itself was different despite retaining the same color scheme. The breastplate was trimmed with more gold yet segmented with a black tunic and a layer of chainmail underneath to allow more flexibility in battle. There were armored plates attached to the sides and rear, connected by a matching armored open coat below the waist. The armored boots and greaves were the same as the upper armor, which also covered his arms. The new armor's style also had more ornate cravings upon the forearm armor, retaining its claw-like segmented hands. The cape was identical as well, now with gold trimmings and a red inner layer.
"It was time to upgrade and change armor since I have grown out of my old set," Lelouch answered as he placed one hand on the breastplate of his armor. "This armor is identical to my old one, but it should allow me to move freely in a battle, and the enchantments it has been improved as well."
"How did you get it?" Vermut asked curiously. Did he have it with him all this time, or was it somehow delivered without anyone knowing?
"It was delivered to me through magic by three brothers who forged this armor for me. They were designed for me specifically as an improvement upon my old armor, which they said I've grown out of long ago."
"As much as I would like to ask you further about these brothers, I must first apologize for allowing these four to…"
Wilmarina gazed at the quartet as both Parshe and Mimil felt a chill when her eyes fell upon them.
"I see," Zero replied, "I knew someone's curiosity would get the better of them, but I didn't quite expect it would be a team effort."
"Rest assured that I'll have Lady Vermut and Lady Mersé ensure this doesn't happen again. As commander of the Knight Order, proper discipline should be enforced."
"It's appreciated, thank you," Zero replied politely before Wilmarina and her entourage left with Luciana, Elt, Mimil, and Parshe in tow. Koyoi alone remained with him in his tent. "When Kirsch returns from her mission, we'll head for the dam and seize it before we attack the fortress itself."
"Understood," Koyoi replied.
"In the meantime, you and I will choose those who will company our attack group while Wilmarina will prepare the rest of the order to march upon the Fortress."
"I assume we shall do this tomorrow?"
"Yes," Lelouch replied with a smile concealed under his mask. "We shall."
Five days later, Kirsch returned with the information she had gathered. Zero and Koyoi led a small detachment as they quietly entered the valley. They had left the Order of the Ice Flower's encampment two days ago as they avoided the main road. Kirsch guided them to a slightly more roundabout route to reach the dam, using the trees and dense forage to mask their approach.
Among the soldiers they brought, Lelouch had chosen Primera, Alameria, Mersé, Luciana, Mimil, Paula, and Olivie.
"Dam up ahead," Kirsch warned as she sighted it through the trees. She prompted Zero to make a gesture for everyone to stop before quietly gathering everyone.
"Alright, Kirsch will confirm their runner has come and gone," Zero explained before laying out his plan. "We'll wait long enough for her to be far away from the dam to avoid alerting anyone."
Zero turned to the half-elven archer among them.
"Primera, you and our archers will support us from the rear. But you'll also be in charge of ensuring no one escapes to warn the monsters at the fortress. If anyone attempts to blow a horn or anything to warn the monsters in the fortress, take them out."
The masked man shifted his gaze to Luciana, Mersé, Mimil, and Koyoi.
"Luciana and Lady Mersé, including myself and Koyoi, will join the main force in attacking the enemy head-on. Mimil, you will assault the enemy with spells, making sure no one can escape. Feel free to use ice magic."
"I won't disappoint," Mimil proudly responded as she readied her magic staff.
With a nod, Lelouch now turned to the three musketeers of the order consisting of Olivie, Alameria, and Paula.
Olivie was the leader of the musketeers, for which Alameria belonged to, and wore a purple tricornered hat with a purple flower. The rest of her attire matched the same color as her hat, except the style was more elegant, almost akin to a combat dress. The slits in the lower half to be allowed free movement for the legs where her leather boots were visible.
Paula, on the other hand, had an outfit opposite of hers, representing their different social standings. He wore a purple tricornered hat with a grey feather. Her white shirt covered her ample bosom yet left her midriff exposed with a purple and gold trim short-sleeve jacket on top and purple gloves. A fur and armored skirt concealed her shorts and knee-high boots with armor plates upon them.
"Olivie and Alameria will work together and wipe out any enemies and slowly join with us, closing the noose," Zero explained their role in the plan. "Paula, you'll provide support fire and pick off any stragglers."
"But wouldn't my weapon make too much noise?" Paula asked, holding up her weapon of choice, a small derringer held in her hand.
"You are exactly right, but I have just the spell," Zero answered before gesturing for Paula to hand her weapon over.
Leaving it sitting in Zero's open right hand, Lelouch began weaving the air above it as he began casting a spell over it.
"Let no sound be heard, and all be silent for a time," Lelouch chanted before the weapon glowed dimly. Lelouch handed the gun back to Paula. "For the next hour, your weapon will not make a sound when you fire it, so that should help."
"Thank you, Zero," Paula offered happily.
"Now that we have our plan in place, we should hit hard and fast," Lelouch commanded. "The rest of you shall assist your leaders. But most important of all, do not let any of them escape. Remember, our enemies are Amazoness. They are strong and trained to be dangerous warriors since they were children, so attack together and overwhelm them after our initial attack so they won't have a chance to regroup."
Zero's team observed from the trees across the road where the Amazonesses had established a camp alongside the dam. Compared to most monsters, the Amazoness looked very human with tanned skin adorned with black tattoo-like runes upon their muscular yet beautiful bodies, but they had a single curved horn sticking out of their heads and a small wing. The wing was too small to use as a means for flight, but Lelouch knew from books they were a secondary weapon in battle.
These don't have any husbands with them, which means this is probably just a temporary camp,
The black knight scanned the area with his eyes. The dam itself was constructed out of stone, which gave it a length of a thousand feet in width while being at least six hundred feet high.
Taking a deep breath, Lelouch took out his weapon. Instead of his sword, he drew a two-handed ax that possessed a curved blade and small runes engraved upon the edges, trimmed with gold and radiating a freezing chill. The main body of the weapon was made of polished black metal. The pommel was golden with a skull on the head and a crystal embedded into it.
The archers, including Primera, found a vantage point located high in a nearby tree, ready to let their arrows fly.
A tense few minutes passed, but once Lelouch had seen that Kirsch had managed to sneak to the other side of the dam ready to intercept any runners, Lelouch let his hand drop, giving the signal for the archers to fire.
The runner who went between the fortress and the dam was long gone now, and with Lelouch's command, the battle began.
Primera was the first to claim first blood as her arrow struck and embedded itself into the throat of an Amazoness. The monster who didn't see the attack coming fell over dead after choking to death on her blood. Before the others could realize what happened, they were met with a shower of arrows fired by the archers nearby before Primera downed another Amazoness.
Zero led the charge with Luciana, Koyoi, and Mersé, charged into the disorganized monsters. Mersé swiftly beheaded one Amazoness before locking blades with another. She dodged the small wing and swiped her enemy's legs before cutting her down. Luciana already had her sword ready, and with a great display of strength, she cleaved an Amazoness in half from the head down before she could grab her weapon.
In the corner of his eye, Zero saw an Amazoness running to blow a large war horn. He acted quickly by hurling the ax at the monster girl. The Amazoness saw the attack coming and promptly used her wing to block it. However, the ax embedded itself into her wing, which doomed the monster girl. In less than a second, she was frozen solid along with the war horn that she grabbed with one hand.
That was too close, Lelouch thought under his mask before drawing his regular sword from his cape.
An Amazoness sought to attack Lelouch to avenge her fallen comrade. Koyoi jumped in slashed the monster into pieces with multiple slashes from her katana, using a speedy yet elegant style of swordplay that was very precise. Koyoi was calm as she used quick slashes to deflect the blow from another Amazoness wielding a massive greatsword with one hand. Although she lacked raw strength, Koyoi was outmaneuvering the Amazoness by sidestepping her until after the Amazoness made a fatal mistake by embedding her sword into the ground after a mighty swing. Koyoi got behind her and beheaded her in one swift motion.
Paula and her musketeer friends joined the fight with the rest of the soldiers who charged into the fray. They all spread their ranks to box in the enemy monsters and keep them from escaping. Paula saw one soldier about to be overwhelmed by an Amazoness after breaking his arm following the poor man's attempt to deflect a fatal blow with his shield. He survived the attack, but his arm was broken from the effort, and the Amazoness restrained him with a lustful look on her face.
"I got you!" Paula announced before she shot the monster in the head, saving the man from potentially being killed or worse.
In the distance, the gunner spotted an Amazoness who had climbed into a tree. When she reached the other side of the dam, Kirsch quickly appeared before her and slashed her throat with her dagger. Paula shot another Amazoness that was with her. Since the distance was over a thousand feet, the shot should've been impossible, yet it was a testament to Paula's skills as a sharpshooter that no one has yet to match.
"Advance!" Olivie ordered as she dodged an attack from an angry Amazoness, as most of them were furious with the death of so many of their own.
Olivie sidestepped another attack before quickly muttering a light spell to blind the Amazoness before running her through with her rapier. Alameria fought by Olivie's side as their teamwork was a sight to behold, given how well in coordination they fought alongside one another. When one dodged an attack, the other would counterattack on the other's behalf, allowing them to strike down enemies one after another.
After running another Amazoness through, Zero hurled a piece of bright blue cloth high into the air with his sword.
"That's the signal," an officer leading the second group of armed soldiers. "Attack!"
At that point, Mimil appeared before a large group of Amazonesses that tried to run away. These were incredibly fast, but not enough to outrun the mage who flew into the scene.
"Wall of Ice!" Mimil chanted as a barrier trapped the fleeing monsters, completely immobilizing them. Using fire spells could've dealt with them more effectively, Zero warned that it risked creating columns of smoke. The last thing they needed was some signal by the fortress to alert the occupying monsters of their presence.
Quickly muttering the chant for another spell, Mimil unleashed a blast of ice magic that froze a charging Amazoness solid.
More arrows fell upon the enemy, but many deflected the incoming arrows with their shields and their weapons. But the rain of arrows was a distraction as the nearby soldiers who seized on the opportunity got to cut them down. Even Kirsch was making use of her skills as a deadly assassin. She would get behind an unaware Amazoness who was caught up in battle against a soldier before quickly slitting their throats. If the situation demanded, she ran them through from behind with her sword.
Lelouch fought alongside Luciana and Koyoi as the trio were cutting down Amazoness together. Their warrior lifestyle and superhuman strength would've made them deadly for a single hero to take on alone, but they were winning the battle.
"Luciana, on your right!" Zero called out.
The Knight turned around and parried an attack from an Amazoness. While not as powerful as Wilmarina, she was able to match the powerful monster in raw strength thanks to her Hero's Blessing. Reaching out with one hand, Zero recalled his ax to his side, which spun towards him thanks to a swift hand gesture. It kept going until it beheaded the Amazoness that Luciana confronted.
Returning the ax to his cape, where it vanished into its mystical storage location, Zero turned to block an attack from an Amazoness with his sword. The two were locked into a stalemate, but when Lelouch held on with one hand, both gauntlets of his armor began to glow bright red. The enchantments engraved within them were active as Zero punched the blade of the Amazoness, causing it to shatter. The destruction of the sword sent the monster girl staggering backward.
Before the monster girl could recover from the shock of having her weapon shattered, Luciana attacked and cleaved the monster in half across the waist with one mighty swing of her sword.
"Now come on, don't be shy," Mersé offered half mockingly after stepping over an Amazoness she had just slain with her halberd.
With a grin, Mersé engaged the next one, who struggled against the battle-hardened war veteran. She wasn't bloodthirsty by any means, but it seemed she enjoyed a good fight that challenged her. That was especially so since she glared at their more feminine traits. Her blows were powerful, and her instincts allowed her to predict and dodge the Amazoness's attacks before finding an opening and running her halberd through the monster girl's abdomen. As another Amazoness rushed to attack Mersé to avenge the death of her fallen fellow, but Mersé hurled the body off her halberd and into the charging monster girl. While a third Amazoness tried to get the body of her fallen sister off of her, Mersé struck and beheaded the Amazoness with one swing.
Mimil and Primera, along with the archers, soon turned their attention to picking off any stragglers. Mimil created another ice barrier while Primera took care of one or two that had attempted to run away.
When the dust settles, the battle in victory with Zero and his group. Every monster was eliminated, and they successfully claimed the dam without warning anyone.
"Well done, everyone," Zero said, congratulating everyone around him.
They usually would've cheered at their victory, but this was merely the first battle, and their essential role in it had been accomplished. They knew to cheer now could draw unwanted attention, but even so, some approached Lelouch to graduate him personally.
"Thanks for the save back there," Luciana said, shaking Lelouch's hand, which Lelouch returned.
"You kids are just cute," Mersé teased while putting her hands on their shoulders as she stood behind them.
"Please, Lady Mersé, it's not like that!" Luciana's cheeks slightly flushed.
"I wasn't saying it like that," Zero noticed the sharp tone in Mersé's reaction. Considering her brutality against the Amazonesses, it was clear that she had something up with other women, let alone the monsters.
Thankfully, Olivie intervened with a captain standing behind her.
"What shall we do about the bodies?"
"Burning the corpses could draw attention," Zero recommended. "We have no choice but to bury them for now. Just make sure the bodies are decapitated. The last thing we need is the monsters raising from the graves as zombies or ghouls."
"The rest of the camp?" Kirsch asked, approaching him from behind.
"For now, leave it as is. But check it for anything useful like messages between the dam and the fortress. Speaking of which, you did observe their routines, am I right? We need to make it appear all is well from a distance."
"All of you rest up once your assigned tasks are done," the Black Knight commanded as Kirsch left to begin searching the tents. "Even so, set up some guards to alternate during the night."
"Shall I have our musketeers join us now?" The captain who led some of the soldiers asked.
"Yes," Lelouch nodded. "Have them take time to rest to prepare for tonight."
A few hours later, Wilmarina sat atop a white stallion. Her faithful knight and protector stood beside her at the head of her order's assembled forces. The Hero had been waiting for word on Zero's success. She was feeling slightly anxious until a hawk flew down and landed upon Vermut's outstretched arm. The knight used her free hand to open up a small container attached to one of its legs.
Unrolling the piece of paper within, Vermut handed it to Wilmarina, who eagerly accepted it to read its contents.
"They have seized the dam, and they are ready," Wilmarina said with relief in her voice. Although she was confident that they would succeed, she was nervous just the same.
"Then, we march!" Vermut asked, which Wilmarina replied with a nod.
The rest of the Order of the Ice Flower began making their way to the fortress. They would stop at the halfway point between their present location and the fort to hide their presence until nightfall. Now, they waited to attack the fortress itself, awaiting Zero and the others to open the gates for them.
Long after the sun had set, Lelouch awoke from his nap to meet with everyone. However, they would attack during nightfall the plan called for them to wait until most of the fortress's inhabitants were likely asleep. Once they were sleeping, they would slip into the fort while their musketeers and archers took positions on a cliff overlooking it to support Wilmarina and the others from above.
Luciana was present to greet Zero after his nap to recover his strength and prepare for later tonight.
"How can you sleep in that?" Luciana asked with concern in her voice.
"It may not look like it, but my armor is quite comfortable to wear," Zero answered as they walked towards one of the campfires where some of their others were seated around. In actuality, it was thanks to a suit underneath that had built-in temperature regulators made of a titanium-dipped fiber Lelouch wore under the armor. It was part of a prototype advance battle armor Havi managed to obtain from the black market from Earth. Few people were interested in it due to its lack of protective qualities, but thanks to it and some magical enchantments, he could comfortably wear the armor for days at a time.
Luciana offered for Lelouch to sit with her, Koyoi, Alameria, and Olivie on a fallen log before a campfire. Opposite of them sat Mimil, Mersé, and a reluctant Primera, who preferred residing in a tree than to be among people.
"I am ready to crack some monster skulls tonight," Mersé said with a smile before stretching her arms.
"We will in due time," Lelouch replied, raising a hand to calm the ever eager Mersé. "But first, we'll need to get into the castle and open the doors for Wilmarina and the others."
"Shooting them or stabbing them is much better than beating them up, won't it?" Paula asked, joining the group as she approached the campfire. She was more interested in sitting with Zero but noticed that there weren't any spots left on the log.
"Um, I don't think you get it," Olivie replied to the awkward moment that Paula gave. Zero and Koyoi, on the other hand, stayed silent and away from the conversation.
"Anyway," Alameria intervened. "The three of us will lead the archers and musketeers into providing support fire. Zero and some others will infiltrate the fortress."
"Correct," Lelouch confirmed with a nod while a saddened Paula chose to sit on the other log. "Later tonight, we'll infiltrate the fortress and open the gates in time for Wilmarina and the others to storm the fortress."
"Sounds easy enough," Mimil commented before taking a sip of her drink from a wooden mug. The other side had a parfait, from Lelouch's knowledge in her world, that she happily ate with a spoon.
"Maybe, but it'll be tricky getting in without not alerting any guards," Zero offered as he smiled under his mask. "But I already have a plan in mind."
Hours later, after midnight, Zero, Luciana, Kirsch, Koyoi, and Mimil approached the base of the fortress.
Zero and Mimil quietly cast a spell together to levitate a log. They let it descend gently over the moat surrounding the fortress, allowing the pair to approach the walls unseen. It was just as Lelouch had hoped, without their forces at the dam to warn them of an impending attack, the guard on the walls was very light. Now at the base of the wall, Lelouch began chanting a spell on the wall while drawing out a white wand from his cape.
"By the power of the land of light, I make this surface passable through the realm between realms," Lelouch whispered as he traced his wand across the stone surface.
An area roughly the size of a door became intangible, creating a large hole inside. The spell lasted a minute, but enough for everyone to slip through the walls. Zero's party found themselves inside a storeroom filled with weapons and shields, which meant they were likely inside the guardhouse. They could feel the demonic energy emitted by the equipment, which indicated that they were forged with realmsilver, a standard metal mined in the Demon Realms.
"Ok, stick to the plan," Lelouch said as he gestured at Kirsch.
"I'll deal with the guards upon the walls," Kirsch said before departing.
"The rest of us will head for the gatehouse to lower the bridge and open the gates for the others," Zero said before he, Mimil, and Luciana left the room.
On their way out, they found that Kirsch had already killed some monsters. Unlike the Amazonesses, these were Succubi dressed in revealing black armor and large weapons in their armed. Each of them was murdered before their companions were aware of the danger. Still, the fact of the matter was these monsters being here could make the battle more difficult.
"Zero these are," Luciana began with barely contained disgust.
"Yes, I know they are Dark Warriors," Zero answered.
Dark Warriors are more akin to what monsters would call mercenaries, offering their skills to those who could help them obtain a husband. From Zero's knowledge, they were succubi born from female soldiers corrupted by demonic powers or a union of a preexisting one and their mate, seeking to fill their desires. They will march onto any battlefield for a man to claim.
"Then, some of the men who were likely captured…" Luciana stuttered from what Zero taught her in the past couple of years.
"I know," Zero sensed Luciana's pity for the men fallen to their fate.
But that means most of them will be occupied, Lelouch thought, using that last part delicately. From a pragmatic mindset, it was an excellent opportunity.
"Let's make for the gatehouse," Zero suggested he moved through the guardhouse with Luciana and Mimil and out into the open.
The trio cautiously kept to the shadows, but from where they were, Kirsch eliminated most the guards upon the walls. The trained assassin also had support from Primera and the other archers who sniped each of the guards that Kirsch missed. Luciana watched their backs as Zero and Mimil reached the gatehouse and located winch for the gate and drawbridge. There was no guard inside, allowing them to enter while Luciana guarded the door.
Working on different mechanisms, Mimil and Zero each cast the same spell the latter used earlier on Paula's pistol. Once they began lowering the drawbridge and opening the gate, they wouldn't make a sound.
"Is there anyone outside, Luciana?" Zero asked outside.
"I don't see anyone," Luciana replied, which allowed them to proceed to the next phase.
The way was open, and just in time as the trio stepped out onto the bridge, Wilmarina and the rest of the Order of the Ice Flower had arrived. The legendary hero was flanked by Vermut and an irritated Parshe, who was likely upset she was unable to accompany Zero. Also present was Mersé, who had rendezvoused with Wilmarina as Lelouch and the others opened the way for them.
Lelouch smiled as Wilmarina smiled back before Lelouch gestured for everyone to come in. The Order of the Ice Flower didn't just madly charge in, but they continued their slow and quiet march into the opened fortress. Rushing in now with a battle cry would only alert the monsters within the walls, but if they kept quiet until the last moment, then they could quickly dispatch many of them before they could fight back.
Meanwhile, in the grand hall of the main keep, two of the leaders sat by a large fireplace, unaware of the danger.
One of them was an Amazoness, but unlike the others of her kind, she wore armor upon her right arm and carried a black-bladed sword. Her hair was a pale purple, and her eyes were golden. She had some scars upon her limbs as a sign of this Amazoness being a battle-hardened veteran of war.
The other was a powerful monster in her own right. Her lower body was that of a black and gold serpent while a pale upper human body wore armor that protected her shoulders and chest. She had black hair and glowing yellow eyes with black markings upon her body.
"We seized this fortress, but there weren't very many men," Monique the Amazoness Chieftain said while leaning against the side of the fireplace.
"It's possible some escaped," Harum the Echidna commented. "But I am disappointed we didn't get any more from the army we defeated."
"More unfortunate was how many of them committed suicide, ranting about never to become slaves to us," Monique added with a sigh.
"We'll just have to keep a closer eye on any men we seize from now on," Harum suggested. "I am sure another Order of Knights will be dispatched against us any day now."
"Are you certain of that after losing one order of knights already?"
"Yes, because this fortress is vital to them," Harum replied after nodding. "I am sure they'll be more careful, but if they attack us, then our followers at the dam will come and support us. On the contrary, if they attack the dam, then we'll support them."
Suddenly, the door to the great hall burst open. Wilmarina, Zero, Vermut, and Mimil stood before them to the shock of the two monsters.
"What?! How did you get past the guards?" Harum said, alarmed by the most famous hero of the Kingdom of Lescatie with her followers.
More alarming was the infamous Zero who's reputation has become known among their kind. The fact that these Heroes had reached the Great Hall seemingly unopposed could only mean one thing.
"You're finished!" Wilmarina declared. "You vile beasts will be sent to Hell for what you have done!"
Meanwhile, Mimil had been chanting a spell.
The young mage emitted a fog that surrounded her enemy. Just when the two monsters took their weapons, they were already blinded by the spell as they saw illusions coming towards them. Harum and Monique became separated from each other as they struck the images of Wilmarina and the others. But when the fog cleared, Zero moved to engage the Echidna.
His armor shielded his body from their demonic energy. But if a woman was tainted with enough demonic energy, she would become a monster. So Zero stepped in first to soften up the leaders with Mimil supporting him from behind.
Harum charged, throwing a long table in her path aside as Lelouch charged towards the echidna, but Monique wasn't planning on being idle.
"My lady, please watch out," Vermut said before taking point to protect both Mimil and Wilmarina.
Vermut blocked Monique's first attack, but a headbutt to Vermut's face knocked her out, forcing Wilmarina to step in and engage the Amazoness queen.
Around the same time, Zero clashed against Harum, who conjured a chain whip to use against her masked foe. He drew his sword to begin parrying the attacks from the echidna while trying to be mindful of not getting too close. That was especially so when Harum, as a being with immense magical power, manifested a pool demonic energy that formed into tendrils. The surround attack caused the black knight to step backward, slicing through the dark sludge aiming for his limbs.
Zero muttered a spell under his breath as his left hand began glowing with magical blue energy. A stream of water erupted and doused the echidna in dew.
"Mere water?" Harum noticed as she never bothered to pour demonic mana into it. "Do you think that would stop me?"
"No, but this might help," Zero replied, following up his casting of water magic. By using the water as a conductor, he cast lightning magic that inflicted far more damage than it would've done on its own, with the making easier to land that blow. A few seconds passed as the assault weakened the echidna.
If I had used anything else, you would've dodged it.
Zero seized the advantage to press his attack against Harum, who quickly recovered despite being electrocuted. In a skillful display of swordsmanship, he backed away from another wave of tendrils and slashed off the ends. Since she spun to launch that attack, Zero managed to cut into her tail, causing Harum great pain. He moved in for a killing blow, but now feeling rather angry for that last attack, Harum lashed out with her whip. Zero side-stepped it before he was forced to dodge another attack. On her third attempt, Zero had to parry her attack, but this time her chain whip wrapped around the blade, allowing Harum to pull the sword out of his hands.
By then, she summoned more tendrils that wrapped around Zero. This time, it was a way to prevent him from escaping. Yet, he didn't seem distressed about being disarmed.
"You are fortunate I don't like killing men," Harum said as if his strike didn't matter to her.
"That is a weakness."
Just when Zero pointed that out, a gunshot rang out. The last thing Harum saw was smoke from underneath his hand, unaware that is where he holstered concealed pistol with a poisoned bullet.
Meanwhile, Wilmarina clashed with the Amazoness Chieftain in the room. She ducked and side-stepped an attack from her enemy, but Monique managed to surprise her with her wing. As a counterattack, the Hero used a quick casting of ice magic on the floor. Monique jumped back to avoid getting encased in ice but landed on another part of the frozen floor, losing her balance. Wilmarina used it as a chance to regain her balance, dashing at tremendous speeds to confuse her opponent. She stopped in midair above the Amazoness leader, delivering a mighty swing with her sword to strike her down.
Instead, Monique evaded Wilmarina's attack. She was then back on her feet within moments, ready to continue fighting, but Wilmarina was mindful to avoid locking blades with her foe. Wilmarina knew that would just result in a headbutt to her face or some underhanded trick.
But I am not fighting alone, Wilmarina reminded herself as she held her blade in front of her.
Wilmarina and Monique's swords clashed once more. The heroine was careful to avoid locking blades for too long, hopping back and to the side with great agility that left streaks of frozen air in her wake. She additionally manifested icicles out of thin air that attacked from multiple angles, though the Amazoness chieftain countered them all. It was merely a means to position Monique towards Mimil as they drew closer to each other.
"You will make a fine Amazoness," Monique complimented.
"I will never become a vile monster," Wilmarina snapped back as they crossed swords again in a fierce display of skill. Their blades met again and again in an intense exchange before another stalagmite of ice split between them. But with Monique so focused on Wilmarina, she failed to notice Mimil as she unleashed one of her stronger spells.
A massive spear of light soared past Wilmarina as it tore through the Amazoness's back, leaving her open for Wilmarina to behead her. At that same moment, a gunshot echoed through the room as Zero defeated his foe. With both monster leaders down, their main task for the operation concluded.
"I guess this means victory is ours," Wilmarina said triumphantly to Zero.
"With their leaders dead, all that is left is the mop-up," the masked knight offered in agreement upon retrieving and sheathing his sword.
"Let us help the others take care of the rest," Wilmarina offered before offering her hand to a recovering Vermut.
Meanwhile, outside the fortress in the distance, someone was watching the battle. The observer was a mix between a human girl and a goat known as a Baphomet possessing black fur. Despite their small sizes, they were known to be among the physically strongest among monsters and possessing powerful magic, with many becoming generals in the Demon Lord's army.
Dispatched as a messenger to meet with her friends, they were likely slain, much to the young girl's sorrow.
"I must inform Lady Druella of this development."
A/N: Well, Lelouch just drew the attention of some dangerous monsters, and that could mean trouble will be coming his way soon.
The poll is still ongoing, and since it got to almost fifty votes in under a week, I have decided to extend it until a hundred votes have been cast or more. How long it keeps going on for will depend on if there are no ties and the frequency of voting is consistent.
Choosing some candidates may ensure they not only get to escape the coming trouble with Lelouch but they "may" leave with their humanity intact.
Here are the results so far as of the chapter's posting.
In order from first to last.
Amanomiya Koyoi (33)
Alameria Crescentria (31)
Wilmarina Noscrim and Krisch (30)
Paula Tornmail (25)
Vermut Rosnair (23)
Luciana Sausare, Alto-Eris and Olivie Amaltia (21)
Primera Concerto (18)
Saphirette Spherica and Leia (17)
Litia and Levin Dil (15)
Ariel and Shirtiya (13)
Lilia Flimlight (10)
That is where the poll stands as of right now with 47 votes.
In the coming chapters, we might switch back to Earth for a time, and I'll try to introduce some of the other candidates in the next chapter if I can.
Thank you for reading, and see you in the next chapter.