Chapter 3: New name and Title
At the royal knight training ground in the castle, yells, and sounds of metal clanging along with occasional explosions, dominated the air. If one was to look inside, they would be greeted by the sight of a party of two surrounded by a group of seven knights.
On the contrary to expectation, while the party of two certainly weren’t at advantage, neither were they losing ground against the other party despite the difference in the size of the party and quality of their equipment.
As the fight went on, the reason why the two weren’t overwhelmed became clearer. While their opponents were much more skilled individually, their teamwork was obviously stiff. On the other hand, the teamwork of the pair flowed seamlessly, almost as if they were capable of reading each other’s minds, allowing them to cover each other’s opening.
After several more exchanges between them, the two parties finally separated before sheathing their weapons. The knight standing at the center, obviously the highest-ranked one according to his armor decorations, turned towards the party of two before nodding with a smile,
“This is the last practice for you two, the seven of us have imparted any knowledge and skills we could to both of you. The battle from now on will only be tougher but after seeing your growth in the past week, I have faith that both of you will do your best against the odds.”
As if on cue, a familiar man with greying hair appeared on the training ground doorway. He glanced at the knight’s leader before speaking,
“I hope I’m not disturbing the practice?”
The knight leader gave the man a salute as he replied,
“No, Prime Minister Geis. In fact, we finished up just before as you arrived.”
The prime minister nodded gratefully before turning toward the two people he was looking for,
“I believe you two understand that the week’s training and preparation has ended. As agreed, you will depart for the demon land today… However, the king has called for an audience with the two of you. It seems that his majesty has a few more words to say to you.”
Ragna and Marse exchanged glances before nodding at the man. The prime minister nodded in satisfaction before speaking again,
“Well, now you two better get cleaned up, no matter what, having an audience before his majesty while drenched in sweat is not a good idea. Take your time but please don’t take too long, his majesty will be waiting for you at the audience hall.”
Having finished speaking, the prime minister turned around and walked away, presumably towards the audience hall to join the king. However, he stopped right after taking a few steps and turned back towards the two and he added,
“Oh, I nearly forgot. No need to change into your traveling gear just yet. We promised to let you stay here for a whole week and we intend to fulfill that promise. Don’t worry, you will not have to depart tonight.”
Ragna and Marse couldn’t help but turn red as the man walked away. Truth to be told, they were expecting to be “kicked out” of the castle right after their audience with the king. Sensing the youths’ awkward look, the knight leader smiled slightly in amusement before speaking,
“Well, since his majesty is waiting. I believe you two better hurry, it is not a good idea to let the king wait. Besides, his majesty might have something important to convey to you.”
Ragna and Marse nodded at the knight before stepping back and giving a salute to all 7 of them. During the week, the two could tell that the knights had spared nothing in training them and thus, they respected them as teachers. The Knights responded in kind before they all left the training ground.
The two best friends went back to their rooms for a quick bath and a change of clothes. Just like the first time they were headed towards the audience hall, the two met on the way.
They chuckled for a minute before walking towards the audience hall side by side. They soon reached their destination and the knights guarding the door opened it for them. They walked straight towards the kin before stopping several meters away from him and saluted him together,
“We greet the king of Luminario, may the goddess bless thy rule for eternity.”
King Albert smiled as he replied,
“Be at ease.”
As the two visibly relaxed while somehow still managing to maintain basic etiquette, the king spoke again,
“As agreed, you two stayed and trained in this castle for a week. Today marks the time for the hero to depart for the demon land….”
The two best friends nodded, Ragna still looking rather reluctant but not acting antagonistically either. After all, their unchanging situation aside, the king had stayed true to his promise. Despite the few complaints and opposition from the aristocrats against giving such preferential treatment towards commoners, he had provided them with practically everything they had asked for in order to give them the best training possible.
The king motioned to the knight standing on the side, who approached the two and handed out a pair of leather bags not unlike ones used by adventurers. The two received the bag and noticed that it was rather light as if it was barely filled. However, before they managed to ask, the king proceeded to explain,
“Those are magic bags, one of the newest inventions by our finest royal magicians. You can put nearly anything inside as long as it is not living thing or rooted to the ground. While they aren’t unlimited by any means, they should be big enough to be able to fit hundreds of items and once you put them inside the bag, they would only weigh 1/10th of the actual weight of the item until you take it out. To take out the items inside, you need only to think about it while putting your hands inside it. Why don’t you try pulling out a potion to make sure it works?”
The two raised their eyebrows and put their hand into the bags and pulled out a bottle of red potion. Nodding in satisfaction, the king continued,
“I’ve had both bags filled with things that you two might need; tent, utensils and several sets of spare armor and weapons. Unfortunately, items put inside will still obey the law of time, therefore we didn’t put any food ingredients inside. They have been locked to your respective blood signature, thus only allowing you to use it.”
Ragna and Marse couldn’t help but be impressed, the bag alone must have cost a fortune and they had even prepared any other necessities. However, the king wasn’t finished yet as he motioned the prime minister to step forward. The man bowed toward the king before he walked towards the two.
Once he was in front of the pair, the prime minister cleared his throat before pulling out a pair of letters bearing the royal seal. He handed the letters to the two youths before explaining,
“During your travel, you will pass the border of our country. These introduction letters are personally written and sealed by his majesty. Present these and as long as the country holds a diplomatic relationship with ours, they will let you pass unhindered. Please do not lose it.”
Again, this was a gift that neither of the two had expected or even thought about due to their common upbringing. In hindsight, they realized that it should have been obvious that in order to reach the demon land, they would need to cross the border into the neighboring countries.
Moreover, it would be suicidal to head towards the demon king castle with ONLY the two of them. The permit would make it much easier to gather allies… Maybe even requesting help from the allied country’s government if necessary.
The king couldn’t help but smile at the two’s expressions. Truth to be told, if there were any alternatives, he would have never asked the youths before him to take on such a dangerous mission.
They were commoners and should have lived in peace in their village. Yet here they were, heading straight into the heart of the danger zone simply because no one else could. The goddess had been quite specific: No one else but the Hero chosen by the sacred sword would be able to kill the demon king.
Thus, as far as the king was concerned, the country owed them everything and no words would be able to express his gratitude for them. While he couldn’t take their place nor accompany them in their journey, he will do his best to increase their chance of success, even if by a small margin.
Finally, the king cleared his throat to gather their attention one more time,
“One last thing… As you two might have remembered, the person who is chosen by the sacred sword and undertakes the mission to kill the demon king would be granted the title of ‘Hero’…”
This time Ragna and Marse couldn’t help but smile awkwardly, that bit of information had actually escaped their memory altogether due to the recent events. Fortunately, the king didn’t take any offense about that little fact as he continued,
“Now… With this, we would like to grant the title ‘Hero’ to the chosen one. After much deliberation, we decided that this title would hold the same authority and rights as a ‘Marquis’… Or in your case, a Marchioness.”
The king paused for a moment before continuing,
“As for the companions of the Hero, including any future companions you may find, we would like to grant you the actual title of ‘Marquis’ upon the completion of your mission. Even in the event of your failure, you have our promise that we will ensure your family’s safety and livelihood to the best of our ability.”
Again, the king paused to let the news sink in. It was obvious that neither of them had expected such treatment. Finally, the king continued,
“Due to the title of ‘Hero’ being a legitimate noble title, it also necessitates the possession of a family name. This… might be presumptuous of us but we had taken the liberty of choosing one for you…”
This time the king stood up from his throne and approached them for the first time. Sensing what would happen next, Ragna tactfully took a few steps back, leaving Marse alone before the king. The blonde on the other hand quickly attempted to kneel but the king raised his hand to stop her,
“Please don’t, you are the person who has been chosen personally by the goddess herself. It means that you are her chosen representative in this world and shouldn’t need to bow before a mortal such as I.”
The king lifted his scepter before resting it on the blonde’s shoulders,
“With this, I grant thee the title of ‘Hero’… From hereon forth, thy name shall be Marse…”
Suddenly, the blonde interrupted the king,
“Melisa… Please… As I am currently physically female, being called with a male name somehow feels quite wrong….”
The king raised his eyebrows but gave her a small smile of understanding before continuing,
“Very well… From hereon forth, until completion of thine mission, thy shall be Melisa vi Lumieria, named after the Goddess of Light, Lumina herself. May thee be the beacon of light our world deserves.”