Chapter 24 – Lion heart
“These words are not actually meant for you, but I believe that you can do it.” Ebdon was silent for a moment, before it raised its head up to look at the youth.
Brendel was silent as he grabbed the reins with one hand. He hesitated to reply.
Ebdon immediately guessed that he did not believe in the words it had just said, but it did not seem to mind. He merely knelt on his right knee, straightened up his chest and placed his sword into before him with both gloves on the hilt.
“The king slumbers within the valley when the twin moons can be seen. The Evergreen Winter Tree shadow points to the northwest where gathered stars fade away as the dawn lowers her authority—”
Brendel’s expression did not change after he heard the words. He rode past Ebdon before turning back to him again. There were many riddles like this in the game.
[I was never good at solving at all these puzzles. The twin moon probably references the two moons that appear together under Vaunte’s sky. The king slumbers in the valley… The grave of the Holy Saint? But it might be some random Aouine King.]
Brendel’s brows furrowed a little.
[The Evergreen Winter Tree points to the northwest… Aouine doesn’t seem to have this variety of tree, does this mean it’s a metaphor for something? Or a noble’s symbol? The meaning of the Evergreen Winter Tree means saintly, but there are numerous Houses in Aouine that have the symbol of the Evergreen Winter Tree leaves. As for the remaining two sentences… I don’t have a clue at all.]
Ebdon intentionally gave Brendel time, once it saw that Brendel was looking at him again, he continued speaking: “The two-faced statue did not speak or utter, has it forgotten the Holy Oath? The emerald lake in the pure white mountain, lies a sword amongst swords buried in rocks.”
“Hold on!” Brendel suddenly interrupted Ebdon. He suddenly felt a strange excitement within him.
[Sword amongst swords?! The genuine Lion Heart? That’s the sword of that was passed down generation to generation from Aouine’s first king, ‘The Kind Erik’.]
The Lion Heart was the symbol of the Lion Dynasty, as well as one of the four Kirrlutz’s holy weapon. When Erik brought it out from the Kirrlutz Empire, it became Aouine’s royal family symbol. But hardly anyone knew the real Lion Heart had been lost in Aouine’s internal civil war a long time ago. The kings who passed down this sword from that point onwards is nothing more than a fake. There were very few people who knew this secret, and there was most likely going to be chaos if this secret ever got revealed.
Brendel only knew about this after Aouine’s demise happened.
[If Ebdon is really speaking about the true Lion Heart, then the later half of the riddle makes sense. The Holy Oath probably referred to Erik’s Oath as a Holy Saint Knight, to rebel and lead the Empire’s citizens away from the arrogant and greedy nobles. He had made a strong rebellion, and that was where the ‘Kind’ word came from when he fought for the citizens. But the other stuff about the lake, mountain and rock… I don’t get it.]
The lore within the game stated that the kingdom was strongly tied to the Lion Heart, and it appeared to be true. Ever since Aouine lost the real sword, each generation was weaker than the previous one, until Aouine finally perished. But Brendel did not believe in this saying, a kingdom’s demise could hardly be attributed to a single sword, no matter how legendary it was. To him, it sounded like an excuse to push away the responsibility.
But even so, he was curious over why the sword was so amazing to the point where it was circulated with by poets and bards.
[Based on the speculation of the forums… This weapon is at least a level 60 weapon with a Fantasy-ranked rating.] (TL: Fantasy-rank is one tier above Thorn of Light.)
So he blurted out to ask: “What’s the emerald lake?”
But Ebdon unexpectedly shook his head: “I don’t know either. Sometimes when I think about my past, I would frequently recall these words, and there is even a divine oath that’s still binding me. But I don’t know where my memories come from and why it continues to haunt me.”
“Not every undead likes their memories.” Brendel replied. He suddenly felt that Ebdon was someone more important in its former life. At least in his memories, Ebdon did not have any ties to the royal family.
“I know that I’m more unique compared to the other undead.” Ebdon rubbed the helmet on his head. “The undead that live in the shadows are intelligent, but I’m different compared to them and I don’t trust them with this secret. But when I see you, young man, I somehow feel that you can unravel this riddle.”
Brendel did not answer Ebdon. He felt that it was telling the truth, but he did not trust it easily.
[…The two-faced statue did not speak or utter? The Saint Statue in Randner? But if that’s the true identity of the riddle, it’s going to be quite a hassle. To make it speak I need the Sage Slate… But the nearest Sage Slate is in Bruglas that’s half a month’s journey. The black market rate for that is 500,000 Tol coins. That’s quite a large sum of money… But should I be thankful that this side mission intersects with the thing I’m about to do next?]
Brendel started to calculate the days he had to execute his next plan in his mind quickly and found that he did not have much time.
He straightened up on his horse and said: “Is that all you have to say?”
Ebdon nodded: “I still have one more request.”
Brendel looked around. The mercenaries appeared to be ready to move off any time. The battle in the valley had ended.
Ebdon took off the emblem on his chest. “I wish to die like a real knight. I wish that my armor and sword to accompany me in my eternal sleep. This is called the Lion Emblem— It contains powerful magic in it, but it has no meaning to me now. I want to entrust this along with my waist pouch. The things in them might prove to be useful to you.”
Brendel knew that he could forcefully take the White Fang away, and he had planned to give the sword to Freya, but when he looked at Ebdon, he still nodded.
The two of them knew that such promises meant nothing to an undead and a living person, but Ebdon had told him this much because he trusted in him. Based on this, Brendel could not find the heart to betray him.
Ebdon must be killed here. The refugees will not agree to have a high-ranking undead general to accompany them—
Brendel received the emblem and looked at it with the system activated. The brass emblem was fashioned into a lion’s head.
[The Lion Emblem, Collision Aura + 1?! It’s a skill emblem!]
Brendel nearly dropped the emblem with his fumbling fingers. The skill ‘Collision Aura’ was a core skill of the Templar Knights. The highest level that could be reached was level 29, while non-related professions could only learn up to level 10. The first level gave +1 to defence, while each incremental level before level 10 was +0.5. With level 10-20, each level added +1 to defence, and after level 20, each incremental level was stacked.
This meant that level 21 would add +2 in defence, level 22 would add +3 in defence, level 23 would add +4 in defence.
[If I reach level 29 and gain +10 defence on that level, then having this ring would add +11 in defence! That’s as crazy as having three full plates worth of defense!]
When Brendel saw this emblem he immediately decided to become a Paladin which could similarly learn Collision Aura to the highest level. In addition to the ring, there was another full-plate and shield that added +1 ‘Collision Aura’ each. With the combination of everything, he could gain + 36 defense.
[That’s like a portable fortress, heck, even the soldiers around me within 60 feet is equivalent to a tank. What kind of prowess would the cavalry have if I lead the charge?]
Brendel suddenly recalled that Ebdon was Madara’s vanguard in the game. In the later part of the game, it had the highest defense amongst the four riders.
[As expected as the Conqueror Ebdon… No wonder they called him that.]
Even though his mind was flooded with emotions and excitement, his expression did not change. After days of experiencing life and death, Brendel felt he was becoming more mature than before. If he got this in the game he would have probably done a naked dance to celebrate the event.
He kept the emblem and looked at Ebdon’s pouch. But he quickly found that his collection was not abundant. There were some low grade materials, while the most valuable material was some metal bits to make a full plate.
[Hmm. Looks like Ebdon also understands the power from this emblem. He had already started to plan to go in that direction.]
Brendel attached the pouch to his belt and looked at Ebdon again.
“Do you have any other requests?”
Ebdon shook his head. “Please do it.”
Brendel knew that it was a disgraceful thing to die alone in this battlefield. A knight’s death should at least in his enemies’ ahnds in a battlefield, to send him into eternal rest. He could at least do this much.
Ciel pulled out his sword and walked up to Ebdon, but Brendel stopped him.
Brendel pulled out his own sword with much difficulty and exchanged glances with Ebdon. He rode up to him and thrust his sword into the opponent’s chest.
Ebdon broke into a smile as the flames in his flared up.
“Young man, I told you these secrets because I am still ‘Ebdon’ from Madara. I should thank you for releasing me.”
The undead knight gave a final sigh: “But at the same time, I have to die as a noble undead. The undying Madara represents unyielding flames, it’s just that I did not expect to lose…..”
The Soul Fire within its eyes finally extinguished.
The ‘White Rider’ Ebdon was finally gone, and Brendel understood there would not be any Madara’s four vanguards any more from this point forth. He looked quietly at the remains before countless silver particles rose from its corpse and integrated into his body. This was something that he had not experienced before as a warm energy went into his entire body.
[This seems to be pure soul energy… Well, if I’m going by the system, that’s 1300 XP. The combined XP from killing the enemies from previous battles is nearly 2000. It’s more than enough to level up and make things easier for the upcoming battles… but that’s not a good idea as it will interfere with my plans for the future…]
He raised his head up and looked at the sky. The clouds have already disappeared, and he could see a cross-shaped constellation in the sky.
[The constellation of the King of Knights.]
He took out the statue in his pouch and raised it up. The elegant deer reappeared on the mountain’s edge, before it turned around and disappeared to the northeast direction.
He suddenly spotted Leto riding up to him.
“We have discovered a lot of ghouls to the sides of this mountain……” Leto lowered his voice and whispered.
“Understood, we’re still on track in regards to timing.” Brendel answered with the same calmness. “Get the refugees to make a move now. We won’t have enough time to waste on exchanging words right now.”