A sword was stabbed into the grass between the sky and wastelands. The blade was as bright and clear as autumn water. The ribbon emblazoned with the emblem of a crescent moon attached to the sword handle was swaying with the wind, just as it had once stood in his memories.
The man squinted his abstruse eyes, looking at the wide and vast world underneath the heavens. He wore a white cloak, and underneath it was a pair of strong arms holding onto a black and dull scabbard. The man stood upright like a proud lion.
“Your Majesty, It’s getting late.”
“Krentel, guess what I am looking at.” The old man smiled and turned his head.
“The land beyond the plains, at Aouine, Your Majesty.”
“Aouine, the land that we vowed to protect... But you’re wrong this time. I’m looking at my sword, Krentel.” The old man retracted his gaze. The sword seemed uniquely slender, but it was powerful enough to hold up the skies.
“Will there be anyone who picks up this sword, wipes off the dust and remember our oath after hundreds and thousands of years? Can the people of the future stand the test of time? Tell me, my friend. How long do you think Aouine will last?”
“Aouine will continue until the end of time, Your Majesty.”
“What if they forget their promises one day? Kirrlutz was once glorious, but they too fell. This could happen to the people of Aouine as well.”
“Krentel, Aouine is not what I want.”
As the clouds reflected in his steel-blue irises, ash settled down on his wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. The passage of time had taken a heavy toll on him, and he could feel the dying flame in his heart. But at that moment, it was rekindled.
He had seen too many wars and too much suffering far too many good men and women had been sacrificed for this land.
He closed his eyes. The images of the past were coated in a golden sheen, like the warm glow of the evening sun when they first left Kirrlutz.
He thought back to the moment when it all began.
“What I want is not Aouine, Krentel. It’s devotion to this piece of land that I was inspired to build. What I want is for this culture to continue spreading into the future. I wish that its heart - these aspirations - will not be forgotten. I want the nobles to always remember their duties, for them to be the light that guides Aouine in the dark.”
“Remember, if one day, the people of Aouine forget their duties... Return this sword to where it came from and stop protecting this country.”
Return this sword to where it came from.
“Your Majesty, the people of Aouine have forgotten everything.”
“Although it has only been 200 years.”
“This piece of land no longer upholds your wishes from back then.”
But today, the sword had returned to Aouine.
The blade filled Krentel’s vision with golden rays. It shuddered in the girl’s hands as if it had been reborn. Its vibrations were so strong that it could break out from its shell anytime.
Krentel could feel his tears streaming down uncontrollably, even though his eyes could longer cry.
These were tears from his heart.
Your Majesty, can you see? Someone picked up your sword, wiped away the dust, and remembered our promise. The beliefs you had, your vision of Aouine, has returned once again. After two centuries, the flag of Aouine finally shines..
Brendel glanced at the Lionheart Sword in Freya’s hand.
Suddenly, he heard the voice of the sword. It was like a reverberating echo, narrating the ancient stories of its former glory. He saw it: two stalwart figures and their long, drawn-out shadows, alone in the wilderness.
The sword was answering to ancient oaths upheld--
How long do you think Aouine would last?
Aouine will continue till the end of time, Your Majesty.
“What happened, Freya?” Maynild asked loudly.
Everyone was shocked by the strong rays emitted by the sword.
“I don’t know!” Freya looked at the vibrating sword in her hands, dumbfounded. It was as if it came to life, resonating with something. “It’s sensing something…”
All of Ampere Seale began to shake.
Forst rushed out from the tent in a panic. The White Lion Legion’s command post was surrounded by a loud buzzing sound. Everyone stopped in their tracks and looked towards a certain direction.
The center of the camp.
The White Lion battle flag shone brilliantly, standing proudly in the rain. It was as if the White Lion on it had sprung to life, baring its fangs and flexing its claws.
“The Glorious Flag…” Forst said with a stunned tone.
He seemed to understand something and looked eastwards.
Callun of the White Lion Legion was also looking in the same direction. Amidst the rain, an unknown army marched towards him, only to stop right before his soldiers.
“I vow upon my sword-”
“I vow to lead my people away from war and slaughter, from the greed and arrogance of the nobility.”
“I vow to never repeat these bloody mistakes. The nobles of this newborn kingdom shall follow the spirit of chivalry - fairness and discipline, righteousness and courage, compassion and kindness.”
“I vow to uphold this oath today, and every day in the future.”
“I vow for today, and for every day in the future.”
Their helmets bathed in the rain, the lions on their armors having only appeaed in legends. They wielded five-foot-long swords and wore handguards marked with the emblem of the White Lion. They donned heavy armors and scalemail skirts, chanting as they marched.
At that moment, legend overlapped with reality.
The scene struck a chord within the hearts of the White Lion Legion. It was a scene that came from their glorious history, the air around them taking on a mystical, magical quality. The army which they thought only existed in fairy tales appeared before them.
They were their predecessors.
The White Lion Legion’s Secret Army.
Yet they had become the enemy.
All because they betrayed their oaths. They once swore to inherit King Erik’s glory, but they did not uphold their vows. And now they faced retribution, delivered by none other than the legendary army before them.
The soldiers of the White Lion Legion all took a step back.
Even though the squad before them was only half of the Secret Army’s full manpower, the battalion before them was their inspiration - the legacy they had wished to inherit as they grew up.
The White Lion Legion veterans could easily count the number of their enemies.
There are forty-five of them.
But so what?
Callun’s palms were sweating profusely. In all his time since becoming a knight, he had never faced an enemy that so quashed his battle spirit with only one look. Even so, as a soldier, he could not surrender. It’s all just my fears.
He shouted, “Do you have no shame?! Who gave you the courage to disguise as the White Lion Legion?”
His voice echoed out in the rain.
“White Lion Legion?” The army stopped moving, their commander also shocked.
Now! Callun grabbed the chance and raised his sword, “White Lion Legion, listen to my command and charge forward! Eliminate those disrespectful imposters!”
The soldiers of the White Lion Legion growled, the doubt in their hearts erased. Thousands of years ago, the White Lion Legion fought against their own kin the Kirrlutz, and thousands of years later the White Lion Legion fought against their kin once more. But this time, it was the people of Aouine.
The White Lion Legion’s horn echoed, the melody singing about the long, glorious history of the army. They advanced forward without fear.
They were unafraid of defeat not because of their unrivalled strength, but because of their indomitable spirit.
They feared no man.
This was the courage of a lion.
This was the belief that King Erik had passed on.
The soldiers pulled out their swords. Even though there were only two hundred men, they had the air of a million. The White Lion battle flag moved forwards in the rain, the army’s formation was akin to a blade forged by a grandmaster. Dense. Unbreakable. It was impossible for mere discipline to give them the ability to do that.
It was a sword crafted from their beliefs.
However, for the first time, the swords they held felt heavy in their hands.
“It’s really the White Lion Legion,” Carglise said. Is this fate’s arrangement for us to meet?
However, he was prepared for any kind of unexpected situation on the battlefield.
“The situation has changed.” The young commander initially wanted to regroup with Brendel, but unfortunately met the other White Lion Legion.
Carglise drew his sword.
Callun clenched his sword tightly as well.
“Heed my command!”
“White Lion Battle Tactics!” Amidst the rain, both of them shouted out the same command. Carglise had expected this, but Callun panicked as if his heart was shot with an arrow.
And suddenly, he could feel the other side strengthening.
They all wore heavy armors and wielded large swords, yet they emitted the aura of galloping horses, their hooves shaking the ground underneath them.
Callun’s palms turned ice-cold. That’s the legendary Swift Infantry! Their White Lion Armor is shrouded by a wind defense spell. But that technique should be lost to time. How…!?
They were all Magic Armors.
The soldiers of the White Lion Legion were intimidated. For two centuries, Aouine had not seen an army like this.
However, those veterans did not lose to them in terms of their imposing demeanor.
However, they felt something in the army that had suddenly appeared that they did not have. Something other than pride and glory. Something could be seen from the glowing eyes under their helmets.
As the two armies moved closer to each other, the veterans of the White Lion Legion felt nor fear, but rather shame for bullying the enemies with their larger number. It was a disgraceful act.
But this did not stop them from raising their swords to fight.
The experiences they gained from fighting hundreds no, thousands of wars gave them hearts of steel, and they could calmly handle any situation.
But an accident happened.
Ten meters until contact.
The heavily armored White Lion Battalion raised their huge swords. They had the White Lion symbol carved into the hilt and three claw marks engraved on the blade. It was the legendary Sword of Lions.
However, unlike in the stories, the swords glowed.
“No…” A bad premonition crept up from the back of Callun’s mind.
“Quick! Move away!” He tried to salvage everything at the last moment, but it was too late. Carglise and his army swung their swords as one.
The rainwater on their blades was thrown out as a ripple formed before them.
And in the veil formed by water flicked off their swords, white light flashed in a perfect arc. Instantly, it closed in on its enemies.
The White Lion Legion’s front line crashed into an invisible wall and fell to the ground.
Miserable shrieks resounded through the streets. Puddles of blood mixed with the rain, flowing downstream and dyeing the streets a deep, crimson red.
“White Raven Sword Art... this is impossible…”
“No... it’s more ancient than that. this should be…”
“The Wind Empress Sword Art, White Lion’s Fang…” Callun was shocked.
The White Lion Battalion sheathed their blades in unison, as if they were of one body. in that instant, recollections of the White Lion Legion’s history surfaced in their minds.
The past, the present; the legends, the tales; glory, the victories, and the losses. All of it flowed soothingly through their hearts like clear river water.
So that was the White Lion Legion, they thought.
But this name did not belong to them anymore.
Suddenly a loud voice proclaimed, “Today, I take away your crown as the White Lion Legion, for you have strayed away from the glorious paths-”
It was King Erik’s voice.
At the same time.
Carglise lifted his head and was dumbfounded by the scene before him. Everyone else’s actions ground to a halt. Tension filled the air, and even the flow of water and wind slowed.
They all felt the pressure.
The Sword and the Oath.
A loud thud was heard, Forst saw a golden pillar shot up from the White Lion Battalion’s battle flag. And in that instant, as if in concert with one other, another beam of light rose from the east.
The two light pillars reflected each other in the morning sky.
Forst was without words to speak, because he knew…
That was the Lionheart Sword.
King Erik’s Sword.