Published at 29th of December 2018 09:39:48 AM
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Chapter 28

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[6:57 AM - Before the morning Assembly]

Surprisingly, the morning assembly looked like it would start late this morning .

Usually, it would begin on the dot at 7:00 AM, before the students began their day with a morning meal, then 14 hours of gruelling training - except for during the past few months of deathmatches; during this period the trainees had their time to themselves whether to train or to spar .

But today, the members of the management had not yet arrived, meaning that it would surely be delayed by 5 to 10 minutes at the minimum .

The gathering trainees were nearly silent, the quiet only broken by occasional coughs or low murmurs when something happened . They were a disciplined bunch - discipline learned after troublemakers and interlocutors during the early days of the assembly were beaten to death on the spot . Beaten to death by bare fists - slowly .

As a result of the morbid and lethal nature of the assembly (as well as nearly every other session conducted by trainers, instructors or even one of the 3 invigilators themselves), the remaining trainees were those who were disciplined enough - *and* smart enough - to survive .

The stillness in the large hall with a capacity of 2,000 was interrupted every now and then when key figures or big names entered .

Such as when Linges, the barbarous half-beastman came .

"I heard he killed another 7 trainees . . . "

"Nonsense! . . . It's 9 . 9 more trainees died at his hands . . . "

"Linges . . . " "Linges . . . " "He's here . . . " Myriad voices sounded simultaneously upon his entry .

"Shh . . . "

"He'll kill you just for . . . "

"I heard he last . . . "

"My best brother was slain by him just for sneezing when he passed by . . . "

"Aren't the management going to do something about that blood murderer . . . ? Before we're all dead . . . "

"Shh! Do you think the management care about our lives . . . ?!"

"Yeah! We're less than cattle to them! At least cattle have the right to breed!"

The last line drew muffled sniggers and chuckles which quickly fell silent again - no one knew when the assembly would be called to attention, for example, a surprise early start to catch them unawares . Or when the stalking death of the halls would choose to go on a frenzy and rip them all apart . . .

And everywhere the hulking berserker passed by, there would be an island of absolute silence as if someone had laid a high-level silencing spell upon that area . As well as a parting of the Red Sea - if you were within reach of Linges, he might just choose to use you as a human toothpick - before he bit down on your neck and decapitated you . . .

He soon took his place and the uneasy trainees resumed their wait .

The arrival of the other members of the top 10 trainees similarly drew hushed chatter, though much more reserved than for Linges .

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"Look . . . The "Princess of the Sands" they say . . . "

"How I'd like to f*** her . . . "

"Haha! They say if you can do it with a Princess, you'll become a wizard!"

"A wizard . . . ? What's that? Why?"

"Because they'll cut off your rod and you can use it as a wizard's staff!"


"Good one!"

Raucous and uncouth words were heard, slightly less hushed and more than whispers .

Perhaps the gossiping ones wished for Moira to know their lewd thoughts about her .

The same could not be said for Seline, however .

When she arrived, the response *did* have words of admiration . But none dared to make any bawdy jokes about her, lest Rosa and the posse visit them in the night and leave them bloody and bruised . . .

"Shh . . . She's here . . . "

"Man I wish I could . . . "

"No! Don't say it! If you do, that bit--"

"Shh!!! *You* watch your words! Or you'll be killed by that whor--"

Countless veiled insults flew out - but each from a speaker who their identity would not be sussed out .

Similarly, waves of muted noise arose each time members of the top 10 entered .

"There's Speed Demon Kaido . . . I heard he lost to Moira in a spar recently and has been training like mad in isolation since . . . "

"Ice Claw Saul - he gives me the chills . . . I'd rather face Linges than that pervert! Brrr!"

"That's nothing! The one I detest the most is Harem King Matsuo . . . Even without doing XXX, he still does all sorts of obscene stuff with his all-female entourage! I-it's not fair . . . I wonder what it is about him that makes those girls go crazy . . . "

But the greatest clamour arose when Lars entered .

Though, at first it started by abject silence .

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Countless stares fell on him .

Some admiring .

Some in awe .

Some derisive .

Some pitiful .

But all dumbstruck that he was still alive .

"The Lunatic . . . "

"Lunatic . . . "

"Deathwish . . . "

"The madman who wished to die . . . But could not . . . "

"I heard even the reaper refused him . . . "

"I heard he descended to the 18th Underworld, the worst place for the worst monsters . . . But Death was afraid of him and sent him back . . . "

"Oh my gosh . . . What a terrifying person . . . "

"Yeah . . . And he ate the dead bodies of all the fallen trainees in the morgue and infirmary to recover from his wounds . . . "

"What are you talking about . . . ? I thought he beat Linges with his undying body . . . ?"

"No, I heard he transformed into a demon at the last second and killed everyone . . . "

"Idiot! Then why would he spare Linges!"

"You are the idiot! Of course as a good rival for the future!"

" . . . "

Lars did not know whether to laugh or to cry as he heard the rumours about him growing more preposterous with every telling . Soon they would say he was a God fallen as a Demon who wielded the powers of life and death!

He decided to play it cool and just tossed back his hair with his hand and casually walked over to his place near the front - just 3 places behind Linges . They were ordered according to rank .

Which drew astonished gasps from the crowd .

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"Lunatic Deathwish . . . He still dares to go up to stand near Linges???"

"A madman, I tell you! A bonafide madman!!!"

The rumble of low murmurs increased slowly in amplitude, but the legendary mage ignored these words and looks .

His eyes were on Moira, two places in front of him .

The number 3 placed Kaido wisely edged away and did not hinder the thin but dangerous-looking Lars from his view of the pure beauty in the 2nd position . He was not willing to stand between the pair who were known to be lovers - as he feared whatever secret or trump card the golden-haired boy had used to face the king of trainees and come out in one piece .

Lars nodded in appreciation to Kaido, who looked away with a soft "Hmmph" sound, then daringly reached out to touch Moira .

It was impossible that she didn't know he was here, right . . . ? Why . . .

Why was she ignoring him . . . ?

His hand landed on her shoulder, and she jumped, startled . No one had ever dared to touch other trainees or even so much as move a hair's breadth during assembly before!

"L-Lars . . . ? Lars! It, it's you . . . " Her voice trailed off, making Lars wonder whether it was due to conflicted emotions or what his troubled mind told him - disappointment at seeing him again? He really was a worrywart . . .

Casting aside his anxious thoughts, he braced himself and spoke the words he had not said to her earlier .

"Moira . Moira Fenelle, or Moira Fenelle Vishnu or . . . Whatever you are called!"

The Princess was stunned . Who was this person speaking to her . . . ? Lars was always hesitant, weak-willed and very very gentle! What had come over him . . . ?

She smiled as she lowered her eyes and blushed . But she liked him better this way . . .

"I . . . Don't have something so precious as that which you gave me . But, I want you to know . "

He raised his voice which made him sound deafening in the quiet, echoing hall . "Even if the clouds and moon were to vanish like the mist . Even if the sun were to no longer rise in the east . . . Even if the world were to shatter and split apart!"

He grasped her hand and placed it against his chest, then kneeled . The height difference meant that his chest was still high enough that she could continue standing straight and still reach him .

"I, Miller Knight Larsson, shall never forget, never give up, and shall always belong to you as your knight, your servant . . . Whatever you wish me to become . "

He lowered his head and kissed her hand .

Moira's heart pumped furiously . Her face was beet-red from embarrassment - but also from happiness . Touched, her eyes began to grow wet, though she fought against the tears . She did not wish to cry in public, that would be *too* embarrassing!

The suave and formerly shy but now forthright boy stood up and placed his personal daggers in her hands, still in their sheaths .

This grew astounded gasps from the trainees, a raised eyebrow from Linges, a venomous frown from Seline and various other expressions of amazement from the others .

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To give away one's chosen weapons was tantamount to surrendering your life wholly and fully to the other - a gift and promise that said "My life is yours, and yours only . I forfeit it entirely - I am yours!"

Shocked and moved beyond her tolerance, the tears rolled out of her eyes and down her cheeks, the fat beads fell to the ground with a distinct *plop!* sound .

She felt . . . Joyous . Empowered . Loved . Liberated from her worries, fears and guilt and shame!

And most of all, she felt relieved of the burden of wondering whether how the boy would react, and how he would feel . . . And whether he would forgive her, and wait for her too . . .

The answer . . . ?

Yes . Yes! YES! He would!

She smiled as she nodded and accepted the light daggers . But in her hands, she felt like she was carrying the weight of the entire world . The weight of her hopes and dreams .

"I . . . Give you my life . I swear . Remember me by these cheap--" He smiled in self-deprecation at these words . "--Brittle daggers, though they are surely not fit for a Princess and Priestess as you . . . "

"But I hope you'll keep them as a memory of me . . . "

"And our promise . "

She smiled up at him shyly and nodded, then jumped into his chest to hug him and be hugged by him tightly .

"Yes . . . " The picture of the meek and submissive girl was completely contradictory to her normal domineering and powerful behaviour!

If this were a scene happening in a town square, a park or beside a fountain, there would surely be thunderous applause and jubilant cheers from the onlookers who shared in their joy .

But here, there was only silence and more murmurs .

"Who does he think he is . . . "

"Even he will just die to Linges soon . . . "

"No, wait . . . He's the death god right . . . ? He'll defeat Linges and live . . . !"

"But then how can a Princess be together with him . . . ? Whether he is a beggar or a demon . . . ?"

Nevertheless, to the couple, whatever was being said or thought around them at that moment no longer mattered .

The two held each other for this moment in time where the only thing that mattered was one another, treasuring and enshrining this moment in time forever .

They hoped that their dreams would really come true . . .

And last for all time .

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