Chapter 1 : Loyalty without oath
“Yizhou!” Yiyu was vexed and anxious. He didn’t not know how he could wake his brother.
“Shut up,” The Dragon Emperor suddenly yelled loudly. As Yiyu looked at him timidly, The Dragon Emperor calmed down again, “Don’t worry, when this battle is over, I will release his hypnosis.”
Yiyu skeptically glanced at the Dragon Emperor a few times. He could not believe the Dragon Emperor would openly admit he had hypnotized Yizhou. The Dragon Emperor turned his head, and his mysterious eyes stared directly at Yiyu. He said with a steady but dangerous tone, “What? You don’t believe me?”
Yiyu felt breathless while being stared by the purple eyes. He turned his face, and answered helplessly, “No… I believe you, Your Majesty.”
Satisfied that Yiyu shut his mouth tightly and stood there trembling, the Dragon Emperor returned his gaze to the arena. Though Gladiolus was now awake, there was still Yizhou. The Dragon Emperor understood well, it was impossible for Liola to kill Yizhou. As long as Yizhou stayed hypnotized, he would not surrender, and neither condition to win could be attained… other than surrendering, what other options were there?
Seeing the helpless Liola on the arena dodging left and right, the Dragon Emperor smiled and sat leisurely as he enjoyed the pain on Liola’s face.
* * *
“Liola, what do we do now?”
Daylight stood far away. With his strength, defeating Yizhou was simple, but he really did not want to harm someone who had no choice on how to act differently because of the Dragon Emperor’s hypnosis. Therefore, he had to dodge around. Nevertheless, despite Daylight’s strength being greater than Yizhou’s, he could not possibly remain completely untouched while dodging attacks.
Before long, a series of wounds appeared on Daylight’s body. Though they were minor injuries, but they accumulated to quite a number of wounds, which resulted in blood dripping from Daylight’s body. It was a horrifying sight to look at.
After failure of trying to secure victory for a long time, Yizhou’s eyes began to glow red, and he started to attack relentlessly. Daylight had a harder and harder time to dodge. In one of the attacks, he finally made a fatal mistake: he turned too quickly and sprained his ankle. With his body out of control, and when he was about to get a hit direct from Yizhou’s attack…
Liola was originally still thinking on ways to wake Yizhou, but when he saw Daylight in danger, he hurried to block his attack. With Broken Silver in front of his chest, a long time had passed and no metal collision sounds could be heard. Daylight peeked out his head from behind Liola, only realizing Yizhou’s sword stopped right before it made contact Broken Silver. Yizhou also looked like he had frozen completely.
Daylight asked curiously, “What happened to him?”
Liola shook his head. He also had no idea why Yizhou would suddenly stop.
“Su… successor… Your Highness…” Yizhou spoke with difficulty while stuttering. His sword slowly withdrew from Liola, and it looked like he wanted to perform a Knight’s salute to the successor. However, because his right hand was holding a sword, he could not do it. However, if he were put his sword down, it would go against the order the Dragon Emperor gave him. He fell into a dilemma, and his mind struggled on what he should do.
Liola, however, did not understand Yizhou’s struggle. To him, it looked like Yizhou was absent-minded. His right hand was still moving; in one moment it looked like he was holding it for battle, in the next he looked like he wanted to put it down. This thoroughly confused Liola.
In the time being, with his sprained ankle feeling much better, Daylight slowly stood up. He was also looking at Yizhou’s strange behaviors. Although Daylight had never sworn loyalty to anyone, being taught in the School of Knight for most of his life, he immediately understood what Yizhou was doing.
‘Is he trying to salute to Liola?’ Daylight realized shockingly. Right, didn’t Yiyu say something before about Yizhou being loyal to Liola and not willing to betray him, so he ended up being controlled by the Dragon Emperor’s hypnosis?
Perhaps, the only person who could help Yizhou escape hypnosis was not his brother, but the successor he was loyal to, instead — Liola!
“Liola, command him!” Daylight immediately yelled to Liola.
“What?” Liola turned his head, with a confused look on his face.
Daylight explained hurriedly, “Give him an order, like a Prince giving an order to his Knight… Liola, careful!” Halfway through his sentence, Daylight noticed Yizhou had escaped his indecisiveness, and charged straight at Liola with his sword.
Liola turned his head towards Yizhou. This time, he understood Daylight’s words a little, and he yelled with the personality of Silver Moon, “My Direct Knight, what do you think you’re doing? Are you trying to attack me?”
Yizhou’s sword stopped. His face was now filled with perplexion. The Dragon Emperor’s command was again in conflict with the successor’s orders, and the two forces were having a tug of war in his heart. One moment the Dragon Emperor was winning, and in another moment it was the successor.
“Yizhou!” The Dragon Emperor stood up, and shouted into the arena.
“Yizhou!” Knowing this, Liola also shouted at the same time.
Yizhou’s body stiffened. His face show the pain of struggle of the conflicting sides to the point where the Knights watching began to feel sympathy. Of course, they had no idea about the hypnosis, and instead naively thought the Knight was simply having issues with not knowing whom he should be loyal to.
“You are my Direct Knight, do you remember?” Liola tried to wake Yizhou, “The person you are loyal to is me!”
Yizhou looked at Liola with skepticism. To him, the successor Silver Moon was a cold and merciless person, which made him suspicious of Liola’s warm and caring attitude. To Yizhou, who was now almost fully controlled by the hypnosis, he could not “think” about looks; he could only act on his instincts, and his instincts told him…
No! The successor Silver Moon wasn’t the person in front of him.
“You’re not the successor!” For the first time, Yizhou spoke on the arena, but there was no signs of him escaping the hypnosis. Instead, he raised his weapon once again to attack.
Liola dodged the attacks while he began to think about what Yizhou meant. Why would Yizhou say he wasn’t the successor? Could the hypnosis made it impossible for Yizhou to recognize him?
Yizhou attacked relentlessly as he murmured, “Silver Moon Highness is… is…”
“Is what?” Liola was suddenly a bit curious, or perhaps the Silver Moon in him was a bit curious. How exactly did Silver Moon exist in Yizhou, the person who was once his Direct Knight.
Yizhou, however, could not say how the successor really was. Would he describe the successor as the cold and arrogant Silver Mask, the cold Third Prince, or the Silver Moon with the charm and elegance of a Prince? How could a person have so many different faces? As such, how was he to know whether this person, who claimed himself to be the successor, wasn’t simply just one more personality of the successor?
Doubts began to muster in Yizhou’s mind. Slowly and unconsciously, his attacks began to slow down. If this person really was the successor, then he absolutely must not attack him!
“Yizhou.” Liola noticed his hesitation, and felt even more certain that, even under hypnosis, Yizhou did not want to be enemies with Silver Moon, his direct superior.
Yizhou looked blankly at Liola, the one who was calling out to him.
“Are you still not willing to swear Soul’s Devotion to me?” Liola purposely spoke about the things that happened before, hoping to incite more of Yizhou’s subconsciousness.
Yizhou paused, and slowly shook his head. By now, his attacks had completely stopped, and the blank eyes began to show skepticism.
The Liola now was, after all, partially integrated with Silver Moon’s personality. To him, putting up Silver Moon’s personality again was no difficult task. His soft eyes was now getting more and more cold, and his tone felt like a chilling wind, “Then, are you betraying me?”
The expression on Yizhou’s face suddenly changed. The unique cold presence of the successor, Silver Moon, was slowly waking up his consciousness.
“Let’s forget about you being unwilling to swear to me, but attacking me with your weapon, isn’t that betrayal?” Liola’s tone became harsher, and shouted, “Do you want to betray me? My Direct Knight!?”
“No!” Yizhou roared shockingly.
“Then lower your weapon, and surrender.” Liola yelled.
Yizhou almost wanted to follow Liola’s orders, if the Dragon Emperor did not gestured to the Idojin standing by him.
“Too bad, I was originally planning on giving him freedom after this match.”
The Dragon Emperor said in a low whisper. He knew the successor’s perception would allow him to hear. Surely enough, Liola looked towards him skeptically with stern eyes. He wasn’t sure what the Dragon Emperor was up to.
“I guess now I have to make Idojin completely destroy his consciousness. Though by doing so, this Knight with a bright future will be completely destroyed after this match. However, sacrificing one Knight to make you lose this match will be well worth it.” Despite saying something this cruel, the Dragon Emperor smiled slightly.
Hearing what the Dragon Emperor said, Liola’s face suddenly changed. He did not doubt for a second the Dragon Emperor would do such a thing. The person who was willing to sacrifice his own blood would never take pity on a Knight. What should he do now? Liola instinctively looked at Kaiser, the person to resolve all the problems. Unfortunately, Kaiser did not have a perception like his, so he had no idea what the Dragon Emperor said. Instead, he frowned as he looked back at Liola, unsure why he was suddenly talking to him in “eyebrow language”.
All of a sudden, there was something wrong with Yizhou. The weapon he had been holding onto tightly had fallen of the ground, and he held his head with both of his hands. At first, his face was warped from the pain, and he initially tried to withstand it without making a sound, but seconds later, he could not refrain from yelling. He was experiencing an unbearable amount of pain: the pain of all feelings being forcefully pulled from his mind, the very same feeling Liola had once experienced.
“Ahhh—” Yizhou knelt on the ground, and moaned in pain endlessly.
Yiyu was looking with a pale face on the side, and said somewhat helplessly, “Yizhou…” But all he could do was look at the Dragon Emperor hesitantly, whose imposing manner made it impossible for him to do anything. Even so, he didn’t know what was exactly happening. To him, Yizhou was perhaps simply struggling between the hypnosis and his direct superior’s command.
He was unaware that his brother was about to become an emotionless Maxun. He was simply giving into the imposing manner of the Dragon Emperor, but he was not going to continue to sit while his brother was in pain.
“Stop…” Liola said helplessly. He had once went through the very same pain Yizhou was going through now, and he knew the horror of those feelings, so he was feeling both terrified and furious at the situation.
Should he do nothing as he watches Yizhou become the monster without feelings? Liola thought about his prior situation. Back then, he felt like his body had been emptied out by someone, the only thing he had was his skin on the outside, without anything solid on the inside. Even now, in the depth of night, he would sometimes question if he had really returned to being a human, whether he was really a person with feelings, instead of a Maxun wearing the skin of a person.
Now, the Dragon Emperor was doing the same thing again, sending yet another person in the path of emotionlessness, and that person was the Knight who was loyal to him. How could he allow such a thing happen?
“Stop, Dragon Emperor.” Liola yelled loudly.
The Dragon Emperor smiled lightly, “Do you really think I would stop just because you said so?” He paused briefly, and turned towards Idojin, “Is it still not done?”
Idojin shook his head slightly, and increased the transfer of energy from his body. By now, on the arena, Yizhou had gradually slowed his moans of pain, and the painful expression on his face had lessened. Emotionlessness slowly crept up his face. To Liola, the person in front of him was as if he was slowly turning into a marble statue.
But he could not think of a way to rescue him! Did he really have to stand by while Yizhou become a feelingless monster…? No!
“I surrender! Do you hear me? I surrender. Stop now!”
This was the only thing he could think of, was to surrender. If he were to surrender, then there was no point in turning Yizhou into an emotionless monster.
Silence befell onto the entire stadium. The situation was far too unexpected. Why would the successor, who was bound to be victorious, suddenly surrender?
Other than the Dragon Emperor’s side, no one knew why Liola would surrender. Even Liola’s own companions did not know clearly the reason because they could not hear what the Dragon Emperor said. However, they all vaguely knew it must had something to do with Yizhou.
After Liola surrendered, he suddenly realized the participants to of match on his side was more than just himself: there was still the companions who followed him without hesitation. He turned to look at Daylight, trying to find dissatisfaction on his face.
“What?” Daylight, however, showed a confused face. He could not understand why Liola would stare at him after surrendering.
“Sorry, I… surrendered.” Liola was a bit frustrated. He should have discussed it with Daylight or Kaiser. Perhaps the two would have had other better ideas. He was never one to come up with good ideas.
Daylight, instead, gave him a trusting smile, “Don’t worry, you must have your reason to surrender. If that’s the case, then I guess we have to surrender.”
Perhaps he saw Liola’s disappointing looks, Daylight immediately comforted him, “It’s all right, there are still two more matches. We will definitely win, don’t worry.”
Hearing what Daylight said, Liola could not help but look at the people who would be participating in the other two matches — Kaiser and the other, only to see him staring back with the widest eyes, while occasionally hearing the sound of teeth grinding.
After Liola shot an apologetic look to Kaiser, Daylight suddenly pulled him. He turned his head in confusion, and Daylight gestured towards the Dragon Emperor’s direction. It was not until now that Liola realized, the Dragon Emperor had already stood up, and walking towards him elegantly. Liola put on his guard, and even used his body to completely block the way between the Dragon Emperor and Daylight. Nevertheless, Daylight would not leave Liola to be the only person in front; he took a step forward, and stood firmly by Liola’s side.
Liola looked somewhat shockingly at Daylight, whom smiled deeply. This smile told Liola clearly, he would not be able to leave his companions behind and stand in the front lines by himself.
Though Liola was a bit worried the Dragon Emperor might try something funny, but he knew Daylight’s stubbornness was a big part of his personality. To change his mind… would be something Kaiser would yell “never ever”. Therefore, he had no choice but to let Daylight stand beside him. In any case, the person he was opposing was his own father. Even Liola, a trained Assassin, felt a bit uncertain, and having Daylight, a person who was stubbornly righteous, standing by him did indeed make his determination much greater.
The Dragon Emperor finally walked up the two, then courteously waved his hand, “Good work, child.”
Liola’s eyes tightened, and he said with a deep voice, “Let go of Yizhou.”
The Dragon Emperor smiled slightly, then slowly moved closer to Liola, and said carelessly into his ear, “Of course, the next two matches are the battle of Magic and the battle of Dragons. Yizhou has no more value, so it doesn’t matter if I return him to you.”
“You abandoned the bigger picture because of a single Knight. Child, you really are too immature.” After saying so, the Dragon Emperor took a step back, then began to announce to everyone, “The next match will the battle of Magic. The match will begin in half an hour.”
Even without the Dragon Emperor’s reminder, Liola knew how idiotic his actions were. This was the only match he could participate, and in some sense one could say this was the one they were definitely going to win. Instead, he gave up on this match, which means they must win both of the upcoming battles to secure the final victory.
Never mind the battle of Magic, the battle of Dragon would be… Even though Baolilong belong to the strongest race of Dragons, the Sacred White Dragons, it was still a child and could not possibly win over the matured Miluo.
Liola already began to doubt: was there a point in continuing the match? When he forfeited this match, did it mean he had already given up the entire gamble?
Daylight looked at Liola’s worsening expressions, and was originally planning on cheering him up, but Kaiser and others had already walked up onto the arena. Kaiser patted Daylight’s shoulder, and gestured in a direction. Daylight followed that direction curiously with his eyes, realizing Yizhou had already, with the help of his brother Yiyu, slowly started walking towards Liola.
Seeing this, Daylight temporarily gave up on the idea of cheering Liola up, and waited quietly with companions to see how things unfold. Everyone seemed to have an optimistic attitude to what was about to happen.
After Yizhou walked up to Liola, he said coldly, “The Dragon Emperor is right, you really are immature, Your Highness, Direct Knights exist only to assist you. If they become a burden to you instead, then to a Knight, it is an insult to the Knight’s honor, and it is far worse than losing one’s life!”
Liola suddenly froze. No matter how much he emotionally prepared himself, he did not expect the person blaming him to not be his companions, but the Knight he saved…
“Hey, hey, do you really have any idea what’s going on? He was trying to save you! Don’t tell me you really think the Dragon Emperor really wouldn’t harm you?”
Kaiser began to shout angrily. Having lost a match that was supposedly to be certainly victorious for them, already infuriated him, but the very person who made them lose match was now blaming Liola for being mature. It was just too much! Kaiser was almost at the point of throwing a few dozen Divine Fireballs. Luckily, Meinan noticed something wrong quickly, and grabbed ahold of Kaiser. Otherwise, Yizhou would have escaped from the Dragon Emperor’s hands, only to be blown into pieces by Kaiser.
Yizhou slowly pushed his brother away, and mustered all his strength to stand up straight and perform a Knight’s salute towards Liola, then he said, “Please do your best to be a qualified King.”
Liola looked at Yizhou with confusion. He really had no idea what Yizhou’s actions meant, but without any further explanation, Yizhou’s feet gave out underneath him after the salute, and began to fall to the side. Fortunately, Yiyu caught him in time. After looking deeply into the successor’s eyes, and with his brother’s help, Yizhou slowly walked away from the arena.
“I don’t understand.” Liola was thoroughly confused. He saved Yizhou, but then Yizhou blamed him, and after doing so, he saluted and asked him to work hard to become a King. All these actions did not seem connected to Liola.
“I think I understand.” Daylight said with a thoughtful look.
Liola turned to look at Daylight, with confusion on his face.
‘Understand my ass, he’s just a nobody…’ Kaiser was furious and he was starting to yell, but Meinan and Purity worked together to cover his face, making his words nothing but muffled sounds.
“You saved him, but as a result lost this important match.” Daylight looked at Yizhou as he walked away. Because Yizhou was moving slowly, they had not gotten too far away, and Daylight believed Yizhou should be able to hear his words… perhaps? Daylight took a deep breath, using all of his lungs to say, “He must be both moved that you saved him, and angry he caused you the match. He probably hopes you would stop worrying about him. The purpose of a Direct Knight is to protect you, and not be your burden.”
“Is that so?” Liola was skeptical. He felt this was not something Yizhou would say, and perhaps only something in Daylight’s imagination.
Yizhou indeed heard what Daylight said. He turned his head, without any expression on his face. Daylight and Liola thought he was about to blame them Liola, and stood straight up as a result. However, Yizhou did nothing but nodded at the two, then continued on his way out of the stadium.
“What does he mean by that?” Daylight drew a blank.
Though Daylight did not understand, but this time Liola understood. He smiled slightly, “What he meant was, you’re right.”
“Hmm? Is that so?” Daylight was a bit surprised.
Kaiser impatiently escaped Meinan and Purity, and snapped, “Of course that is so. They’re both in the same race, so of course they share a common language!”
“Same race?” Meinan asked curiously.
Kaiser glared at him, “Ice cube race!”
“Liola-dage isn’t an ice-cube anymore. He’s laughing now! And he often talks!” Purity protested loudly.
“Yeah, Liola, you’re actually talking! And even laughing! This is a miracle.” Kaiser said sarcastically.
“Yup, Liola-dage has made so much progress.” Purity did not recognize Kaiser’s sarcasm, and instead was happy about Liola not being as cold as before.
Kaiser buried his face into his palm, and said helplessly, “If I didn’t know any better, I might actually think Purity is mocking Liola!”
Meinan was also forcing a smile.
However, “sarcasm”, being the advanced feeling it was, was not something a novice at feelings like Liola could notice. He smiled and replied to Purity, “Thank you, I will do better.”
“Mmm, Liola-dage, do your best.” Purity cheered sincerely for Liola.
“We all have to do our best.” Daylight also smiled as bright as the sun.
Kaiser looked at the three being cheerful, and all showing an idiotic smile, then turned around to ask Meinan with a bitter expression on his face, “Meinan, I’m starting to wonder, who are the abnormal ones here, us or them?”
“We are all abnormal.” Meinan answered seriously.
Hearing this, Kaiser immediately showed a vicious look. He stabbed Meinan’s chest repeatedly as he questioned, “Hey, I don’t care if you call them abnormal, but how dare you drag me into it! How the hell am I abnormal? We’re going to clear this up right now!”
Meinan protected his chest with an innocent expression on his face, “We lost the first match, and the next match begins in half an hour. It’s the Magic battle where us two would have to go, yet we’re still joking here… I don’t really think that’s normal?”
Silence ensued for a few seconds, then Kaiser bursted out with a cry of pain, “Right, we have to fight in the next match! God! I don’t know what kind of evil plans the Dragon Emperor will pull next!”
“I don’t want to fight!”
Kaiser immediately tried to run. Unfortunately, Meinan already predicted this, and the protective shield was already up in every direction. Before taking many steps, he rammed face-first into the transparent shield. His face flattened, and his body slowly slid down.
“Daylight.” Meinan pulled a rope out of nowhere. He gestured at the rope, then at Kaiser.
Daylight nodded without any hesitation.