Red Knight Chapter 1

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It was too late to regret.

Vomiting blood, Judith felt those words were absolutely right.

“Excellent.”

There was a man looking down at her.
He was the same as usual.

Black hair and eyes.
A mysterious appearance.

“It’s always neat.”

“Leader Jermel… Keuk…”

Judith vomited blood and it spilled on the golden carpet, but no words came out.
The floor was already soaked with blood from the prince whom she killed a while ago and herself.

“As expected, you’re useful.
I never thought you’d break through that tight security and kill the Imperial Prince so easily…”

The man, Jermel, identified the body of the prince who had just been alive.

“Why…”

Originally, it was her who had to identify the body.

Assassinate the 3rd Prince.
That was the order given to Judith.

She did her job perfectly.
Everything was going well, and she was on the verge of completion.

It would have succeeded if only Jermel had not stabbed her in the back.

“Why attack me… keuk!”

Jermel did not answer her question.
Instead, he was making sure that the prince’s life had ended.

Meanwhile, Judith’s mind became more confused.
Her breathing became more and more painful, and her droopy body trembled.

Her instincts foretold: Death.

“Of course, the assassin of the Prince should be punished.”

“…!”

Her head felt like it was burning with anger.

“It was your order…!”

“It’s you who chose to carry out the order, knight Judith.”

“You… Ugh…”

That was bullshit.
However, her body couldn’t rebut his argument since her hands were getting wet from the dripping blood.

Jermel’s tone was as mellow as a singing poet.
It was the same with his expression.
There was no sarcasm or sympathy for her.

“Your eyes are angry.”

A white light leaked out from Jermel’s hand, which was examining the prince’s body.

Was it magic? She didn’t know.
However, Judith pressed down her wounds to calm the fading spirit.

“There’s no problem.
The assassin dies after killing the Prince.”

“From the beginning, this was your plan…”

Judith regretted it.
She knew it was already too late, but she felt like she was going crazy from the regret.

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She did not accept the assassination mission of the 3rd Prince in the first place.

To assassinate the imperial family was extreme.
No matter how much bounty was promised, she had no intention of giving up her head.

But her judgment was clouded.

On the day he ordered the assassination of the prince, Jermel’s tone was blunt and plain.

It was the same when he ordered the subjugation of beasts or other miscellaneous things.

Jermel was a leader who gave orders that were impossible to do and could not be resolved.
But, if completed, there was always the promised bounty and his congratulatory from the work.

So she believed.

She wasn’t worried in the first place.

History belonged to the winners.
And the winners were on the side of the Black Knights from generation to generation.

The weaker the Black Knight, the better it is for the imperial family.
As always, she thought she would never pay for her blood.

But what came back was a sword stabbed in her heart.

‘No…’

Judith pulled herself up to her feet.
Her hand that held the sword trembled.

“You’re in good spirits considering you have been stabbed in the back.”

“Don’t be ridiculous…!”

The pain was already gone.
She felt hot blood flowing from her chest.

She couldn’t admit it.
She cannot accept this death as her end.

“Leader Jermel!”

A grayish-white light erupted from Judith’s sword.

Her aether pierced the ground like lightning as it shook the imperial palace.

Forgetting the situation, Jermel admired it.

She was indeed a genius.
Even the tip of the sword was intact before death.

“I admit it.”

“I’ll kill you…!”

“You were useful.”

His mouth, which had always been somber, twisted.

“I’ll personally cut off your neck with my sword.”

Jermel drew out his sword.
It was a black blade that resembled its owner and had no light, it flew toward Judith’s neck.

Each time the aether swords collided, a shock wave would spread.
The wall cracked and a gust of wind blew.
At first glance, it sounded like a whistle.

But the reality was different.
Unlike Judith, Jermel was relaxed.

Judith’s stab, which was as sharp as a wedge, lost its hind core and shook.

Jermel deflected her attacks with no difficulty.

In the end, her sword could not reach Jermel.

“Stop playing around like a kid.”

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Jermel got a hold of the sword and his hands gleamed white.
The next moment, Judith felt something strange.

‘I can’t read his movements…?’

Wherever Jermel’s sword touched, the space was unnaturally cut off.
It was as if a picture drawn on the sand was erased.

Slash!

She thought she could see the cross section of the clean blade, but her body flew away helplessly.

“Ugh…”

There was no mercy or warmth.

Judith felt dizzy as her body hit the wall.
After she vomited a lot of blood, she could hear a non-stop wind blowing from somewhere.

That was her limit.

“Do you remember the Black Knight’s vow?”

“…”

“Swing the sword for the value more than your life.”

He approached her and looked down on her like a bug.

“You chose money.”

She did.
Until this day, Judith only looked at money.

The reason she became an imperial knight was that it paid more than knights, and the reason she chose the Black Knights was that the missions were dangerous, but the rewards were high…

That was why Judith lived with money as an important value.

She wasn’t trash that would do anything for money, but she wasn’t about to be a cleaning lady to earn it.

For 26 years, she lived like that.

However, life was not easy.

A lot of money required great effort, so she came to swing the sword desperately.
When she looked back, fame had caught up with her, and she was called a genius.

But why?

It was none other than Jermel who recognized the life of a knight who pursued money.

But why? Why now?!

“I followed you like a dog… I made sure I was worth the money…!”

“Right.
Now that I’ll kill the dog, I’ll return the price for it…”

“What…?”

Gold coins fell on Judith’s body and scattered as if she were a beggar.

“As the leader, I pay my respects to you.”

There was contempt on her face as she looked up with all her might.

Jermel looked at Judith like trash.

She’ll never forget that gaze.

“A very worthwhile death.
Isn’t it?”

Even before Judith could reply, there was a dull sound.

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The surroundings suddenly became as quiet as a desert night.

Grey hair and bloodstained gold coins laid near Jermel’s foot.

He gazed down at the splattered blood on his shoes.

Blood poured out from the body that had just been alive, but he only looked at it with a blank look.

“Leader Jermel! …What? This, this, what is this…??!!”

“It was an assassin.”

Jermel’s black sword returned to its sheath.

His business was over.
It was the end.

“Get rid of the body.”

The contemplative escort knight hurriedly left.

Jermel gave a few more commands and walked away without any regrets.

He didn’t know that a quiet miracle had descended.

At that moment, a white light appeared and disappeared from Judith’s body.

~*~

Every time Judith introduced her life, she would end it short saying she didn’t like bad stories.
A life with many things was nothing to brag about.

She had no father and no money.

Judith had only two things.
A mother who works while throwing away her health and a sword.

Even the sword was a life that was not allowed at first since she had to take the chance on her own.

Judith took the sword when she was 11 years old.
The Viscount’s son got tired of learning swordsmanship and sent her instead.

At that time, she was being trained as a maid.
But she went to a class without saying a word.

“I’m here to take a class on his behalf.”

“Really? …Okay.
All you have to do is pay for the meal.
Let’s begin.”

The sword teacher was a forty-year-old man.

He taught the class even though he knew a girl came instead of his nephew because the daughter of a commoner who learned what she was told would be better than his nephew whining about the sword being heavy.

Judith thought that all the knights were like that, but she knew that it was the first opportunity she ever had in her life.

Soon, the teacher took in the little girl (Judith) who confidently said she would not pay for the classes.

“Once you’ve drawn the sword, kill your emotions.
Focus only on the opponent in front of you and throw away your thoughts.”

“Yes.”

“Don’t even answer.
Stay in that position for 3 hours.”

“…”

He was a very strict teacher while Judith clenched her teeth and learned the sword.

“Judith, it’s very tough.
Why are you learning?”

“It’s my dream to become a knight.”

“Knight? Dream?”

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The swordsmanship teacher looked at his disciple with eyes full of energy.

“Aren’t you quite far from that?”

“I said it was a dream!”

“You’re still little, you cheeky thing.”

The teacher then handed her buckets of water for muscle training.

Judith was no ordinary child.
She did not give in, even when her hand which held the bucket trembled.

“You cursed at my dream.”

“You’re strong, but I didn’t curse.”

“You did!”

“Oh, shit!”

Judith had a good relationship with him.
Perhaps, that was the happiest time in her life.

Four years later, Judith turned 15.

On the last day of class, her teacher waved a letter of recommendation in front of her nose.

“Let me ask you one last question.”

“Tell me.”

“You really want to become a knight?”

Judith was hesitant to answer.

It was a topic that she got tired of because they had discussed it enough for the past four years.
Her teacher would know her answer even without asking.

“Judith, this world is dirty.
Chivalry has long since fallen to the ground.
The weak are trampled on, and the master is no different from a pimp.”

Her teacher’s eyes were serious for some reason.

“When you become a knight, you have to pursue sincerity, honor, justice, and things like that.”

“That’s how knights are supposed to be.”

“That’s what I said.”

The teacher said so and grumbled.
But in retrospect, it was advice.

“By becoming a knight, you will live a life where you don’t know the value a knight should pursue.
What do you want? If you want a title, land, or gold after receiving this letter of recommendation, you are not a knight.
Is that what you want?”

Judith, who lacked many things, reached out for the letter of recommendation to fill her empty life.

Money was after the sword.
But she didn’t even know what it would be after money…

Her teacher laughed a little bit bitterly.

“I can’t give you titles, land, or gold, but you can.
Take care, Judith.”

“…Stay healthy, sir.”

They parted.

5 years later, A 20-year-old genius swordsman, called the youngest Aether Master, joined the Imperial Knights.

“Black Knight Judith.
I will protect the weak, protect the imperial family, and live reverently.
I wield my sword for the value above my life, and I swear to be faithful.”

That was how it started.

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