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Chapter 124: Premonition

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: Scribble Hub

Elyss put her head down on her paws in defeat. It’s been a few minutes since Camilla easily nullified one of her strongest spells. For some reason, that weird mix of undead and holy magic that Camilla created was extremely effective at unraveling holy and undead magic alike.

If close range combat didn’t work and her spells didn’t work, then what chance did she have left for winning? The reason she even resorted to magic in the first place was because all of her usual approaches didn’t work, and now she knew why.

The culprit was sitting in front of her, a lich on one side of her and that weak templar on the other side. Said culprit had a grin on her face. Carmen didn’t used to smile a lot, so it was surprising to see that her personality changed so much after becoming Camilla…

“Do you believe me now?”

Elyss closed her eyes. “Yes… Master, I do.”

“And you submit, right?”

“Yes…”

Camilla laughed. “Good, good. You know, I was actually going to go to the stronghold to look for you. Who would’ve known that you’d run out here by yourself?”

“Stronghold? As you are now?” Elyss asked, opening one eye to stare at at Camilla like she was stupid. Camilla really was stupid, actually.

But Camilla didn’t seem to care at all. She shrugged nonchalantly. “I naturally know what I am or am not capable of, and as far as I’m concerned, I can dismantle most of the templars still stationed at the stronghold as easily as I did for you.”

“Hmph!”

As she huffed and looked away, Elyss suddenly felt a chilly glance from the lich sitting beside Camilla. When she met the lich’s gaze, she shrank back.

This lich, Kagriss, was really scary. From the bottom of Elyss’s heart, tracing back to her bestal instincts as a lion, she suspected that Kagriss was bad news and that between angering Camilla and angering Kagriss, it was an infinitely better choice to pick Camilla.

But from what Elyss has seen so far, offending Camilla is the exact same thing as making Kagriss angry. She swallowed and looked away. What she didn’t see didn’t exist, after all.

It was humiliating. She was a powerful mana beast, and yet, one moment she was the queen of the plains, and the next she was once again the tamed beast of her old master. On top of that, her old master’s friend outranked her as well, despite being weaker.

Just thinking about it made Elyss mad.

Luckily, there was one last person sitting in front of her that was ranked even lower in the local hierarchy. A tall girl with short blond hair. A templar, one that Elyss had smacked around earlier that evening. She had even seen her around the stronghold before.

Unfortunately, that girl was now unresponsive. After hearing that Camilla was actually Carmen in the past, having been reborn in a little girl’s body when she turned into a vampire, all of the color had drained out of her face and she sat there, frozen.

A vampire. Even Elyss was taken aback, and she wasn’t even a templar. Everyone knew how much the previous generation of templars hated the vampires that took so many of their friends.

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The pain should’ve eased when it came to Lucienne’s generation, but it was their teachers that they lost. It couldn’t be helped that Lucienne was shocked by the revelation that their former leader now stood on opposite battle lines as her.

Elyss sighed. Life was pain.

Well, at least now with Camilla’s help, she’ll be able to eat as many human foods as she wants.

It wasn’t all bad, returning to Camilla’s side. It had been surprising to hear that Camilla returned, but although her appearance changed, Camilla was Camilla.

“So what will you be doing now?” Elyss asked, leaving the young templar alone. “Are you going to go back to the stronghold? Are you taking me back? I don’t think all the people at the stronghold are as accepting of the undead as you and I.”

“I’m not going back.”

“Oh?” Elyss looked up from the pig, muzzle red with glistening blood. She had dragged the carcass over after the battle and now she ate it as she talked. The feeling of meat in her belly was heavenly, and each morsel that passed over her tongue made her want to wiggle.

It was almost good enough that she wanted to tune Camilla out, but she didn’t dare.

“I know that even if I want to, there is no way that I’ll ever make it in the stronghold. I’m not that naive. But…Kagriss wants to see the place I grew up in, so there’s no helping it.” Camilla shrugged and laid out her hands.

Her strange sword was gone, hidden back in her blood.

“Just because she wants to see…?” Elyss muttered, finding it hard to believe. “That’s so shallow.”

“Well, originally I was going to see how you were doing, so my original goal is gone. Now, I just want to give Kagriss a little look.”

Elyss watched as Camilla looked at the lich sitting next to her and the scary lich looked back. They looked deep into their eyes.

A sudden realization struck Elyss.

They were a pair! Camilla finally found a lover, and it was with an undead! But even if she went back to the stronghold, she couldn’t tell anyone or Camilla might skin her. Or rather, Kagriss will, and Camilla will definitely let her!

After looking into each others’ eyes, Kagriss shook her head. “I don’t need to see! If it’s so dangerous, then let’s just not go!” Then the two hugged and began to kiss each other.

Elyss could hardly believe her eyes.

Kagriss, being the taller one, was pushing down on Camilla. There was the slightest hint of resistance from Camilla, but it seemed to be all for show as she blushed, saying things like “wait!” and “people are watching!” that only made Kagriss go harder.

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The templar-commander Camilla was actually the submissive type?

After being force-fed a ton of public displays of affection, Elyss, who was still single, completely lost her appetite. She couldn’t even concentrate on her meal with Kagriss being all handsy with Camilla in the background.

Slowly, after she finished devouring the entire pig, she closed her eyes and tried to go to sleep. If she moved too much, she might destroy the atmosphere and then Kagriss might skin her…

As the mana beast Elyss tried to tune the ongoing events out while simultaneously keeping her presence to a minimum, Lucienne was still trying to gather her scattered thoughts. Just when she managed to snag those traces and pulled together some semblance of sanity, she saw Camilla and Kagriss kissing right in front of her and that strand of sanity was scattered again with the force of a hurricane.

More than two years ago, the templar-commander left on a joint grand campaign against the vampires. Around two years passed, with magical messages being regularly sent back from the front lines to update those at home about the situation. Most of the time, the messages were both grim and encouraging. Then, there was a day where the messages ceased completely.

Silence.

The day before the silence, messages were filled with hope that the campaign was finally drawing to an end. As long as they captured that fortress, humanity will have gained a foothold in vampire territory…

That day of silence, everyone at the stronghold held their breath, waiting, praying. But it was no use. The next day, the messages returned, in much lesser volumes.

Annihilation. The vast majority of the joint campaign army group was destroyed, leaving only the survivors to retreat on their own power. The supply train was cut off and those that were too deep could only watch as they were hunted down and killed.

Of the survivors, the young prodigy that should have led the Cloud Order to greatness was no present. He never returned from the war and his name became a legend spoken in whispers and while deep in one’s drinks. A what-if. What could have been if he hadn’t fallen…

Now, this legend was sitting right in front of her, but unrecognizable.

That tall, powerful body that was the target of many female templars’ attention was gone, replaced with a slight, fragile frame. An honest, approachable expression, replaced with a devilish face permanently molded into a smile that looked to hide many secrets. Golden hair…that was still golden, but instead of being tied back into a short ponytail, that golden hair cascaded down her back, reaching the ground yet remained free of dirt.

Undead, and a vampire. No longer human, and no longer a templar.

There was hardly a trace of that admired templar-commander left in Camilla, and if it wasn’t for the Order’s guardian beast’s words, Lucienne would never have believed Camilla’s claims. No, perhaps she would have.

Lucienne finally realized why she felt so pressured whenever she faced Camilla. A templar-commander will always have that air of command about her, no matter her appearance. It never faded, and Lucienne experienced that firsthand whenever Camilla rebuked her.

Still, everything was revealed to her all too suddenly, and for a moment Lucienne didn’t know what to do with this information.

The templar-commander was still alive, yet not, and she said herself that she was not returning. It was doubtful that the Order would accept Camilla as she was now, and even if they did, the other Orders will never allow one of their own to be led by an undead and a vampire at that.

Lucienne shifted her position and her movement grabbed Camilla’s attention.

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She struggled free from Kagriss’s embrace, breathing hard, her face red with embarrassment and a bit of resentment at Kagriss. “Geez, I told you…”

But Kagriss didn’t seem put off at all and the wolfish look in her eyes never faded. Instead of pouncing on Camilla again, however, she met Lucienne’s eyes.

Lucienne froze as Kagriss nodded at her and Camilla followed Kagriss’s gaze to look at Lucienne as well.

“…what are you looking at, c-comm—”

“Shhh. Don’t call me that anymore,” Camilla said.

Despite Camilla’s reddened face, Lucienne found herself naturally obeying. She looked down at the ground. “I’m not sure what to do…”

“Why not? You’re your own person, are you not? Just do what you want to do, like that time in Moltrost. What do you believe is right for you?”

Camilla’s words rendered Lucienne speechless.

She had been worrying about what she was going to tell the Order, but she completely neglected the option she had of staying silent. After all, the knowledge that the previous templar-commander was alive was of absolutely no use to the Order except for the possibility of a new enemy.

But somehow, Lucienne knew that Camilla kept her identity secret for a reason and that she wouldn’t want Lucienne to tell. On the surface, Lucienne was free to do whatever she wanted, but her actions had consequences. Then, there were her own feelings to take into account.

She…didn’t want to tell.

Over the past year or so, she personally experienced the degeneration of the Order. Slowly, the Order collapsed from the inside, losing its previous meticulous discipline.

Lucienne didn’t feel that close to the Order anymore. Her loyalty was to the old Order that no longer existed. All those years she had trained, hoping to be part of a vibrant organization, partly to repay her debts and partly out of vanity, but when she finally completed her training, she was welcomed into the ranks of an empty husk.

No longer did the templars regularly patrol the lands to proactively eliminate threats. In the name of conserving resources, these patrols and small expeditions that every young templar dreamed of participating in were eliminated.

Now, they simply responded to cries for help and by the time they got there, the damage was already done.

The Cloud Order holed themselves up in their stronghold, constantly training. But training for what?

The soul of the old Order died with the old templar-commander, yet now the templar-commander sat before her.

Lucienne had a premonition. The premonition told her that if she followed Camilla instead, she would gain greater fulfilment of her life than if she remained in the order. But if she reported what she knew to the Order, that door will be closed to her forever.

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In the face of that choice, the answer of what she wanted was clear.

Although her mind was made up, Camilla didn’t ask her for a reply. Instead, Camilla went right back to staring at Kagriss, leaving Lucienne alone in her thoughts.

Before long, Lucienne felt sleepy. Her heart felt relaxed and completely at ease for the first time in a long time, as if a knot that had previously gone unnoticed was suddenly unraveled.

As her head drooped, Elyss stood up, scaring Lucienne out of her wits. Although she’d been at the Order for years, she had never been so close to the guardian beast before. To think she had been trying to fight her earlier.

Now, the guardian beast padded over behind her and laid down, and Lucienne heard Elyss’s gentle voice in her head while Camilla and Kagriss showed no indication of having heard anything.

“You can lay against me if you want.”

“Is that really okay?” Lucienne whispered, trying to keep her voice as low as she could.

Elyss didn’t reply. When Lucienne turned around, she saw the lion’s massive head on top of her paws. That head was as big her entire body, big enough to swallow her whole. Swallowing her uneasiness, she slowly leaned back against Elyss’s soft belly.

Although her armor was hard and probably cold, Elyss did not complain. Perhaps the high and mighty guardian beast was actually quite easy to get along with?

Although her eyelids were heavy, Lucienne remembered that there was one last thing she needed to do. Sitting up again, she gathered a ball of mana in her hands.

As she constructed the magic, the ball became a small golden bird of light, containing a short message. The message was merely a report that stated she had made contact with the enemy.

The enemy was a mana beast, a panther with pitch black fur. After a brief battle, the beast retreated. No reinforcements needed.

As the bird flew away toward the city, flapping its glowing wings, Lucienne’s eyes met with Camilla’s before breaking apart their gazes, and Lucienne fell asleep.

——————————————————

Arvel stomped into Demuur’s study, anger barely concealed behind a mask of calm.

“What is this about, Father Arvel?” Demuur didn’t look up as Arvel entered.

“You know what this is about! What’s this thing I hear about Camilla, that undead, proposing an alliance?” Arvel demanded. “I didn’t hear about that! You didn’t bring it up?!”

“It’s not important. Why are you so worked up?”

“How can I not be worked up? That was an olive branch! We could’ve gained an ally!”

Demuur snorted at that. “An ally? Don’t kid yourself. Don’t forget that no matter how human a zombie looks, they’re still that: a zombie. Undead. Don’t be fooled by their appearances. None of them can be trusted!”

Although Arvel knew that Demuur was right, at least with regards to the Church’s teachings, he couldn’t forgive him. He slammed down the file he had in his hands on Demuur’s desk, making the whole piece of furniture shake. “This! Look at all the information I gathered from something that undead brought back! I owe my life to her! She’s different. She just wants to help!”

At his outburst, Demuur slammed his fist on the table as well, standing up. His fist left a crack against the grain of the wood.

Despite the roiling emotions in him, Arvel knew that he might have gone too far this time. He was speaking to someone both senior and his superior. Before he could say anything else, Demuur leaned forward across the table.

Although he was short and the leaning made him even shorter, Demuur’s presence was not any smaller than Arvel. “Father Arvel! Be careful of what you say! You owe nothing to the undead and I suggest you abandon any thoughts that you do! Nothing owed!”

Arvel gritted his teeth, refusing to back down, but he couldn’t advance either. He had no rebuttal as Demuur continued his berating.

The old man’s eyes flashed. “Remember, traitors are not welcome here. I won’t say anything to the bishop this time, but remember your position next time, Father.”

Sometimes, not saying anything was the best move. Any reply could be taken as agreement, but an outright refusal was suicidal, so Arvel chose to say nothing as he glared at Demuur one last time and turned toward the door.

As he reached for the knob, he heard Demuur again.

“I hope you didn’t say anything unnecessary to her. As far as we know, that pair of zombies left the city. If you know anything about when she might return, since you’re so close with one of them, it would be best if you said something.”

Arvel didn’t reply or even acknowledge the archpriest’s words. After making sure that Demuur was done, Arvel’s hand that hovered over the door handle stayed no longer and he pulled the door open. He stepped out and without looking back, slammed the door behind him.


Axiom’s Note

A few of the chapters after this will have segments about the events at the Moltrost Church. Just because they’re there doesn’t mean they’re chronologically concurrent, although they might be. I’m bad with time, so don’t read too much into it.


Be sure to support the author, TypeAxiom, by subscribing to his Patreon!



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