Hiiiiiiiii~ Another chapter is here!

Nearly missed posting this day but managed to pushed through and finish the latest chapter a few hours ago.

Oh, and we've reached 100k words! It honestly doesn't feel like I wrote that much tbh. Thank you all for supporting this far :)

Also, thank you to my newest patrons: 0r0b0r0us, Jhoss Torrico, PocketRat and Herbert Pego for the upgrade. Y'all rock!

That's all,

Author NimtheWriter out!

Beta read by Shigiya, Fluffy Slayer and DOOMRAIDER.


-Thorne-

Aside from being Celestine's territory, the Kingdom also housed one of the largest collections of books and tomes from a bygone era of history. Personally collected and preserved by none other than Celestine throughout the centuries, even the highest Church members to the Pope himself could not access the place.

With a powerful barrier protecting the room, only the Goddess Reborn and the other Princess Knights who held a piece of herself could walk through the invisible wall without resistance.

A place filled with a wealth of infinite and forbidden knowledge where mages all across Eostia yearned to have a peek at the truth of both the past and the ancient magic that it held. One could call the library the Princess Knights' ultimate weapon. Some speculated that the place held the answer to immortality, ultimate power, and infinite wealth, with the rumors growing year after year when after centuries to present times, it turned into a mythical legend.

Celestine would sometimes laugh when she heard some of the rumors, but never had time to clear them up.

Currently, in the middle of the library, there are dozens of open books lying all over the place. Celestine sat on the cold marble floor, lost in her own thoughts as she kept turning page after page of an old book of recorded history.

Through the use of magic, Celestine managed to cast a spell on everything around her to always remain in pristine condition and never decay with the passage of time, and for some, to at least keep them from decaying any further when she first acquired them. In a way, the entire library was stuck in a single point of time from when she first cast the spell. Such a feat of magic that closely resembled the usage of True Magic if Archer ever came to learn about it.

To Celestine, however, such spells weren't the cause of admiration during her heyday.

Clank

Clank

The sound of metal armor clanking on the hard floor echoed across the expansive room. The blonde elf didn't need to look back to check the identity of the person approaching, as solely the Shields were allowed to enter the library, thanks to their blessings. And only one princess was still present who would check up on her frequently, like a mother checking up on her child.

"You have returned, Claudia. How is Klaus doing?" Celestine said, not taking her eyes off of the content she was reading.

"Same as usual. One is overworking himself while the other refuses to see his son or me."

"I see. That's unfortunate." Celestine didn't bother hiding the disappointment in her voice. "I expected Grave to change for the better after retiring from the field, but he remains prideful and arrogant towards family traditions just like in the past."

"He certainly was quite proud and joyful when I first married Klaus, but after hearing about his own son's… situation, the man now treats him like a stranger."

Right, Klaus was incapable of fathering a child with Claudia due to his own physical inabilities. It wasn't like the man wasn't in love with his wife. She'd seen that his eyes held genuine care and affection for the Princess Knight. It just so happens that the man was unable to establish a physical relationship with Claudia due to being unable to get aroused.

Honestly, Celestine was half tempted to concoct an aphrodisiac but restrained herself as she promised herself to never practice such dangerous magic ever again. It caused more harm than good in the long run, and Klaus could end up addicted to the potion if ingested.

"Come with me back to the dining hall. I heard you haven't eaten anything since yesterday. Your handmaidens are falling into a tizzy on your whereabouts and well-being." Claudia said, wanting to change the topic of their conversation.

The Goddess Reborn snickered a bit, imagining the girls running around the palace pulling their hair, trying to find her. She loved them like they were her own children, but she did have a tendency to pull off small amounts of mischief at certain points when she wanted to liven things up. It certainly broke the monotonous and boring atmosphere around the castle. And her string of 'pranks' was further enhanced by how much she spent her time around the young kids in the orphanage.

There was even one time that the children were able to convince her to create a spell that when sat on it would cause a flatulent sound. She was glad that the Pope was understanding and laughed alongside them when he fell for the prank.

"Don't laugh about this matter. I swear, you act more like a child than the wise leader that people see—you need to act more your age. The same could be said for those kids. They have a duty to uphold in the future."

"Growing old is inevitable. Growing up is optional. The kids need to do stupid things while they're young, or they'll have nothing to smile about when they inevitably become full-grown adults."

Her smile died for a few seconds when the memory of fire and death resurfaced, with that red-headed boy walking through hell itself, no sign of life within his empty eyes.

"Life is short. It's cruel and unforgiving, but it still has so much beauty for them to experience. I have come to learn that lesson too late in my life. If I can be the source of their joy, if my childish acts can bring a smile to their faces, then I don't mind teasing the people in the palace from time to time."

Claudia gave her a mile-long stare.

"Does this include that time you dropped a bucket filled with a solution that dissolved my clothes on my seventeenth birthday?"

Another laugh escaped Celestine's mouth, which she hid behind her hand, but it was too late.

"It was a harmless prank, one that helped you relieve your stress. If I remember correctly, you were having a breakdown from the pressure getting to you, and I just wanted to burn some of that away."

"By making me chase you around the palace naked while I chased you with a sword?"

"Yes, anger is one of the best ways to vent out any pent-up frustration… aside from other things, of course."

"..."

The air became awkward between them.

"Alright, enough with the nostalgic talk, let's head back. You need to eat and rest. I can see that you haven't gotten any rest since. We don't want you to catch another fever in your current state. It's better to have all the Shields gathered first."

Claudia, unlike the other girls, knew the true depth of the blessing they got from Celestine. Maia had a vague understanding as she wouldn't stop pestering her for more details on what exactly was put inside of her. Prim and Alicia respected and trusted Celestine too much to ask for more details on the matter. Luu Luu didn't care in the first place, though Celestine argued to never underestimate the halfling's intelligence as the latter could potentially have guessed the process already.

The soul of any living being, may they be gods, humans, or even monsters, held an unshakable foundation for the being to grow in every aspect possible. It represented their truest self, holding the secrets and possibilities of how high one would be able to soar through the heavens. Their future potential, their lifespan, and their magical prowess—everything was recorded and engraved in the book-like existence known as the soul. What Celestine basically did was rip out some of the pillars supporting her powers as a goddess and give them away to the Shields. In a way, this process proved to be no different than crippling oneself intentionally. This weakened her far beyond anything Claudia thought possible. Though she remained the strongest spellcaster amongst them, it still was a far cry compared to her past self.

Ironically, her premonition abilities and sensitivity to magic only seemed to have increased.

How? She did not know.

For this reason alone, such an important piece of news was kept secret, and only some of the Shields knew about it. Not even the Pope and the rest of the ecclesiarchy had the slightest idea of this event. To them, Celestine remained the powerful Goddess who could bend the elements to her will. A force of nature capable of ravaging the land with her spells, just like she did centuries ago against Olga. As much as she and Claudia trusted their people, some matters needed to remain in the dark, or it would invite great calamity over them. Worst of all, if Olga were to find out even a sliver of this knowledge, then she would join the front lines as well, with no fear of the Goddess Reborn being powerful enough to stop her.

"You can go ahead. I wish to remain for a few more hours and search for the answers I desire." Celestine said.

Her oldest friend couldn't help but sigh at the blonde's recent weird behavior. She'd become quiet, at least quieter than usual and more reclusive.

"What are you even researching about? You're starting to seem a bit obsessed about it, that even I find it off-putting coming from you!"

"You remember the artifact in which Kin demonstrated to us its power?"

"The Ultimate Eraser? Yes, it is a powerful item. Many with greed surpassing their pride will try to steal it at the first chance. I'm happy that it remains in safe hands. Kin is a very capable mage. Are you researching it?"

Safe… safe…

"Yes, Claudia, I have searched through every single record in this library yet couldn't even find the slightest mention of such a gem. Red ruby with the ability to weaken and destroy spells? No such thing has ever been mentioned or created at any point in life."

She brought a book in front of the Princess Knight's face.

"Here, look! The Crimson Scaled Lizards, the Azure sky civilization, and the ancient high humans have never mentioned anything of sorts in their records. Kin claimed to have scavenged the land near the region where I remember once stood the Capital of Vesmi, and once again, they also didn't have anything like an Ultimate Eraser in their records!"

Claudia gave her a raised eyebrow.

"Maybe they didn't want to have such a powerful weapon be known by the general masses and kept it a secret?"

That was a possibility that Celestine considered prior. Just like her own secret, maybe the king of Vesmi didn't want to spread the existence of the gem to his enemies. But that theory became irrelevant as soon as she remembered a single detail.

"Kin mentioned that he found this item in an ancient tome he collected along his journey. Has he shown you the particular book?"

He claimed to have found an ancient book on a site she scavenged over a century ago and couldn't find a trace of such an object in the first place. And that was when she held her full powers, which should have made it easier for her to find the item in the first place!

"Celestine, Kin has been a long-time ally and friend. He helped us in our darkest of times when dealing with Olga's forces. Rescued countless lives of our Knights and soldiers and even trained an entire mage association despite being so young. Why would he pull such a trick on us, to begin with? We never asked for the gem and even allowed him to keep it, so it wouldn't have been for his greed or anything like that."

Yet he still hid the so-called 'book' from everyone, despite never doing so in the past.

She remembered holding the gem in her hand, feeling for its source of power. At first, it felt like an ordinary gem, her magic sensed nothing almost as if she was holding air in her hands. It was able to negate her sensory magic before it could even touch it. That alone made her feel uneasy and wary. Something in her gut kept telling her to stay away from that piece of ruby, that something seemed off with the item in question. Unbeknownst to everyone in the room at that time, she brought out a fraction of her divinity, using it as a source of fuel and power to brute force her way past the negation effect and peer through the surface itself.

An intricate and tedious process, trying not to reveal the presence of divinity in the room surrounded by people who possessed a shard of her being and not worrying anyone was near impossible but it was still doable.

Yet when she finally breached the barrier, she only sensed a single feeling from the stone. It lasted for less than a second, almost unnoticed by her, but that split second was all that she needed to detect the presence of a single presence, creating a null space when her divinity made contact with it.

She remembered this… thing.

One that seemed so horrifyingly familiar yet so foreign at the same time.

Something or someone she never wished to hear from and see again.

A dark presence that bore the same energy to the corrupted voice from her dreams.

.

.

.

That single moment made her world turn dark from the sheer terror that followed after.

{Break}

Pain!

His face stung with pain and his gut felt like it was kicked by a horse!

Even the headache from the impact against the ground felt like it gave him a concussion!

"What is wrong with you, Hicks!?"

"I will not allow you to hurt my teacher!"

What was wrong with him? He should be asking the same question to these fucking bitches!

After returning to Ken, facing the news about the death of that fat pig and the closing of his favorite spot in town, Hicks was in a horrendous mood. How could so much have changed with the few days he left the Kingdom!?

He decided to get to the bottom of the issue, as he felt like he was missing something. Someone like Henry Blueborn couldn't die from a fucking accidental fire of all things! Apparently, Maia reported that the Count committed suicide after facing the wrongs of his past, and the next morning the entire underground slavery market was abolished from Ken, and the captives were freed from the slavers. His entire mansion was searched in a span of an hour by Maia's personal Knights before they found the entire record of his illegal activities as well as an underground dungeon which was unfortunately empty.

It sounded so absurd that it made Hicks wonder if he wasn't dreaming from a night of drinking.

Henry killing himself? That man cried bloody murder from a single cut to his finger, and to his knowledge, that man absolutely found his practice of Dark Elf trafficking to be fair and justified with how he viewed their species. There was no 'acknowledging his mistakes' with him, it was all about money and power.

So, he decided to investigate using his connection with the local priests, guards, and his own stationed men all across the Kingdom to get to the bottom of this bullshit. What he discovered at the end of his little investigation had unnerved him at the time—someone killed the men he left behind to check up on Bianca!

This further soured his mood and the confusion he experienced the entire day soon ignited into pure fury the more he read up about this 'Archer' fellow.

One of Maia's followers reported that this man was the same one he had heard about in the village of Grünes, where an Orc warband attack had apparently taken place. The man in question was reported to have white hair, tanned skin, and a black armor chest plate with red clothing. Ever since that guy became involved with Maia, the latter began acting weird—at least weirder than usual. The man that should have been executed for murder was set free in no time by the orders of Maia! His hatred for him grew intensely when information about his regular visits to Bianca was revealed!

It was him!

He was the one responsible for everything!

Yet why… Why was he the one on the floor injured by the people that are supposed to trust him?

"Maia, what's the meaning of this?" Kin asked calmly, focusing his sight on Archer.

Hicks got up while holding his bloody nose and sore stomach while shouting, "Why is that criminal fuck not rotting in jail or hanged!?"

"Because he was proven not guilty, your men attacked him in the middle of the street for no reason whatsoever."

"Not… guilty?"

Hicks couldn't believe his ears.

Did she not fucking hear him?

"What do you mean not guilty? This man killed my men with his own hands, and you're saying that he was guilty because of some flimsy excuse? This is absurd! There is no way he didn't play some cheap trick on them and played the victim!" Hicks continued to retort, much to Maia's frustration.

"Listen, Hicks, we have received several reports on this case, including my Knights' commander vouching for him in the first place. She was present at the site of the incident and saw how everything turned out. You can either accept the truth, and we continue our journey in peace, or I will forcefully send you back to Ken so that you may get a few days of rest to cool off."

She lied. Brynn never mentioned anything about Archer being in the right or that the Kuroinu men attacked him first. Maia heard it from Archer during one of their meals, and was annoyed that it was because he visited a brothel for a certain girl, which the thugs were in charge of keeping safe for Hicks. She wasn't sure which part of the tale annoyed her the most, the fact that Archer was going to a brothel, or that Hick was willing to kill someone just to fuck a girl. She just wanted to put this matter behind her as quickly as possible. As for Archer telling the truth or not? She couldn't bring herself to care, honestly.

Getting to know him for the past few days, she realized that he was not someone who enjoyed battle or killing. Being the model househusband, he just spent his days cooking, cleaning, and reading books in her library when he wasn't training Brynn into the ground.

Another reason why she believed Archer now was her recollection of her days in the Kuroinu. It was a hard pill to swallow, but not all members were exemplary people. Some were just regular thugs using their group as a means to commit crimes under the guise of it being their job and, more often than not, committed more crimes than the criminals they arrested or killed. So after hearing Archer's story, Maia concluded that he must have been unlucky that day and stumbled upon these kinds of people.

This time, even Kin did a double take on Maia's behavior. This was a first for her, to get all hostile and authoritative on them out of nowhere. The friendly and cheerful Maia they knew suddenly became a cold figure in a blink of an eye.

"Who… who vouched for him," Hicks said darkly, his rage building even further than he thought possible. Already making plans on how to get this person.

"I did," Brynn walked up fearlessly in front of him, neither showing fear or hesitation when facing Hicks and even matching his hostile attitude.

Her past self would have been appalled by her actions. To face someone of higher authority in such a manner was inexcusable. But disrespecting her teacher and coming at him with a drawn sword also didn't sit well with her. She didn't even hear Maia's previous words and just focused her glare on Hicks, almost challenging him to attack her.

Archer smirked when he saw her actions.

He almost wished he had popcorn for this entertainment.

Who would have expected the girl who, just like Hicks, came at him with her sword would now protect him from a similar assault? In fact, he found the whole ordeal to be quite amusing, as the man expecting Maia to be just let him casually behead someone without intervening. She had her faults and even changed a bit, but even her past self wouldn't stand for such a thing. Hicks was just too blinded in rage to notice his lack of logic and the error of his ways.

If he had kept a cool mind and approached his group without showing hostility, he would have gotten the opportunity to deal with Archer immediately or set up a trap.

The only person Archer felt unsure about was Kin. The latter looked too calm for him to decipher anything. He had a perfect poker face while he stood behind the raging man and continued to observe. With glasses that reflected the sunlight, there were very few signs of his true intentions.

But at this point, he had nothing to worry about yet.

"You bitch, I'm going to show wh—what! Kin!? What the hell!?" Hicks cried in shock as his body started to levitate outside his control.

Before the man could cause any more trouble, the head mage of Kuroinu decided to finally step in before his partner went too far.

He used his magic to restrain Hicks and brought the man closer before harshly whispering to him.

"Listen, I know you're mad about this entire ordeal, but you need to calm down before you ruin our plans and get yourself hauled back to Ken by force! Vault is waiting for us near Feoh for the attack on Olga's castle, and your dispute with Maia will only delay our mission!"

"But that man must—" he got cut off again, feeling his throat tighten and receiving a glare from the mage.

"—I don't care about how you lost a single girl! You'll have plenty soon, and that includes Alicia. So, keep that in mind before trying to take on the Knight Commander."

"Come on! You can't tell me that you aren't finding it bizarre how Maia is acting!?"

He did. Kin didn't like it one bit.

This man was an unknown factor that showed out of nowhere and wielded magic that was unknown to him.

He needed to know more about the man before he planned anything involving him.

"So what am I supposed to do? Get on my knees and kiss the man's boots while apologizing my ass off?"

Kin sighed, already getting a headache from this idiot.

"Yes on the apologizing part and no for kneeling, unless you're willing," he suggested, only to have it immediately be rejected by the incensed Hicks.

But in the end, after cooling down a bit, Hicks realized his mistake and relented.

He could take care of the two, but later on, especially that bitch, he'd personally make sure she regretted what she did. Maia will most likely become Vault's property, but this brunette was just a Knight. He could buy her off in the future and have fun with her and Alicia.

Taking a deep breath, he proceeded to face the others.

"Still trying to kill me?" Archer said, his tone of voice sounding like he was taunting him to do so.

"Fuck you!" Hicks roared before taking off with his horse past them and down the road.

"Oi! Come back, don't just run off like that!" Maia tried to call him back only to be ignored.

Maia clicked her tongue in annoyance, while Brynn continued to glare at the retreating Hicks.

"That guy…"

"Forgive him for his behavior. The recent news of Henry's and his men's death pushed him over the edge." Kin came forward and apologized. "Nice to meet you. My name is Kin, head mage of the court and second in command of the Kuroinu group," he said politely.

"Archer."

Archer returned his greetings, preferring to just present his name and nothing else.

"What a weird name. Are you perhaps an Outlander?"

"I am."

"How fascinating! To come from a land outside of Eostia… I heard you are a capable mage."

'Oh boy, here it comes.' Archer thought to himself, already having an idea of what Kin wanted from him.

It was quite clear that this man wanted to pry information from him about his past and use of magecraft. With everything that he'd shown in the past, it kind of boggled him how no one aside from Maia came to ask him about his use of Magical Spells and their uniqueness compared to this world's spells. And now that an actual mage showed up, they would play the friend game in order to learn as much as possible from him.

And he did.

Or at least tried.

"May I know what branch of magic you specialize in?"

"Nothing, in particular, I'm just getting by with the little I can do," Archer answered vaguely.

"In which institution have you studied?"

"In a shed."

"What?" Kin's smile strained, "Please, there is no need to be shy with me, Archer-san. As fellow magic users, it is our duty to help each other and learn from one another. Maybe I could help you in any areas you might be struggling in."

The Counter Guardian doubted that claim.

"Perhaps, but I'm alright for now."

As they continued their travel, he continued to question him persistently.

Kin wouldn't stop asking about his style of magic and the elements he was more aligned with. Bringing up the five elements of fire, metal, water, wood, and earth. Wondering which element he was born with, and how he could use them to create such a powerful explosion. Archer did notice how this world's magic held similarities to the Chinese basic elements and other culture's theories all mashed up into a single entity. Then again, even his world's elemental affinity sounded very similar in comparison. The only difference was that they didn't have metal and wood—instead having void and wind.

From what he understood, Kin was an earth-aligned mage who specialized in barriers and shield magic. But that did not mean he couldn't use other types of spells from other elements. It just meant that he possessed a higher affinity with the earth-related ones and could cast them much easier.

It made Archer wonder what element Maia was aligned to with that weird blessing of hers.

"Maia does not have an element." Kin said, almost as if reading his mind.

"What do you mean? You just mentioned that every human was born with one of these elements." Archer asked.

"I did, but that's only for humans. Beings like Celestine operate on divinity which I theorize to be an amalgamation of all five elements into one. And besides, Maia never showed any talent for becoming a mage in the past, so we never bothered checking her alignment—it most likely got replaced at this point."

"If every human is born with a particular element to them, why are there so few mages? I didn't even see one in Ken."

Especially in a world with so much abundant Mana in the atmosphere.

Kin shrugged.

"I cannot say for certain. Some people are just not meant to wield magic. Especially humans, the world just seems to hate us with how little of us become able to manipulate magical energy. The elves, on the other hand, are loved by all of creation. How lucky of them."

Archer didn't miss that subtle hint of resentment in Kin's voice.

Interestingly, this topic made Archer wonder if the weaknesses from one element to the other applied as well in this world. Rin was an 'Average One' holding affinity with all five elements. There are many cases of magi having more than one element—unlike the people in this world. Did that make Celestine an 'Average One'? Or it could be something else entirely, as this was merely a theory Kin came up with. Imagining Rin getting access to an infinite amount of Magical Energy and being capable of output far beyond anything her regular human circuits could handle sent a chill up his spine. This imaginary version of Rin made him want to flee to the mountains and never come back.

Kin even started to bring up the destruction of the forest and the Orc army back in Grünes Bergdorf.

"From the rumors I've heard, you must be attuned with fire-related magic and probably pure mana manipulation. Which is quite unique, I must say. I never heard of such a combination since both elements cannot be attained through normal means."

Just what was he getting at?

"Archer-san, are you perhaps a dark mage?"

Immediately, every single Knight bristled and had their hands near their weapons. What they were afraid of was not Kin's words but rather focused on Archer. If a mage like Kin gave them the confirmation that he was indeed an evil being, then they wouldn't hesitate to raise their swords against him.

"Oh for fuck sake…" Maia grumbled out, before she let out a shout, getting everyone's attention, "Alright! All of you need to chill the fuck out!"

She pointed an accusation at Kin, who just gave her an innocent smile.

"Four eyes, don't start any unnecessary trouble for Archer. I'll beat your ass faster than you can raise that little stick of yours!"

He smiled at her words and put his hands up to placate the Princess Knight.

"All of you girls, I'm telling all of ya again that he ain't a dark mage. If you doubt my words, then you're also doubting Celestine! I won't hesitate to drag your sexy little asses to Thorne and let you all explain how you all have been doubting her!" Maia gave all of the women a glare, making them look away in shame.

Satisfied, she turned back to the road, "Now stop talking about your magic mumbo jumbo and get ready. We've reached our stop for the day!"

Everyone's attention turned to the distance with large wooden gates leading into a large village, bigger than Grünes and with a large group outside waiting for them.

Heilung Dorf.

A single woman stepped forward to greet them.

She had long blonde hair tied into a bun and a green dress that hugged her curves, and showed off her long smooth legs. She had enormous breasts that looked ready to spill out from her dress, thanks to the deep V-neck of her blouse. With pointed ears and bright blue eyes, she eclipsed many of the women behind her in terms of beauty.

"Good evening, Maia-sama. I am Anna Florence, soon-to-be wife of Heilung Dorf's mayor and your caretaker for today. Please, make yourself at home. I'll be sure to cater to all of your needs to the best of my abilities." she spoke monotonously, her face never changing in her speech.

Her eyes stopped on Archer for a bit before going back to Maia.

In Archer's opinion, the woman barely exhibited any emotions on her face, looking almost like a doll, but there was something about her that he couldn't put his finger on.

His thoughts were interrupted when he felt an arm wrap around his neck, courtesy of Maia.

"Finally, we can rest!"


The next 5 chapters of Snafu, Harry Potter and my 2 Fate fics (Fate Coiling Sword having 3 chapters) are already available on my P treon. With 4 more Broly chapters at /NimtheWriter. Also, I post monthly commissioned arts on each story, already posted a few on an Archer's Promise and Snafu.