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10.16% A Knight's Will. / Chapter 5: Collar.

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Chapter 5: Collar.

Alex was woken up the next morning by a knock on his door. As he looked out the peep hole, he saw that it was Touma.

"Whats up?" Alex asked after opening the door.

He noticed the expression on the boy's face, it was a mix between awkwardness and gratitude.

"She told you, huh?" Alex spoke.

"Thank you for saving me and keeping Index safe" Touma said with a bow.

"I Don't require thanks, I merely did what I wanted to." Alex responded.

"I don't think that's all that's on your mind, whats bothering you?" Alex asked.

It was clear Touma had more to say than just expressing his thanks.

"They said she will die if she doesn't get her memory erased every year, the amount of knowledge barely leaves her brain any room for anything else." Touma explained.

Alex laughed at his statement.

"They were told a lie and their superiors were using that excuse to control the girl. A girl who doesn't know anything else would never rebel and they would have the perfect container for all their books." Alex explained.

"Let me guess, the time limit for the mind wipe is coming up?" Alex asked, knowing the answer already.

"Yeah….." Touma answered, still a bit skeptical.

"I'll be here when it happens just in case." Alex responded.

There was a bit of silence after he said that and Touma finally spoke again.

"How did you get so strong? Index said you are purely human yet you could stand up to that girl who said she was a 'saint'. I don't understand much about the magic world but wouldn't that make her stronger than any human?" Touma asked.

"There were a lot of situations that led me to get this strong, I had to fight in many life and death battles. " Alex replied vaguely.

"Can you….teach me?" Touma asked hesitantly. He realized how powerful the people who come after Index may be and he wanted to protect her.

Alex thought for a moment before a smile crept onto his face.

"There is no going back once you start my training, you may wish you were dead." Alex said.

"Please…I want to get strong and protect her" Touma said as he begged. He hadn't known Index for long, but he wanted to protect that glutton, she was basically family to him at this point.

Alex's eyes softened at this, he knew the look Touma was giving him. It was the same when he was with Percy.

"Alright, we'll start in a couple hours. First though, lets go grab your little girlfriend" Alex said as he walked out the door.

"Shes not my girlfriend!" Touma shouted as he followed.

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"WHAT IS THIS SUPPOSED TO TEACH ME?" Touma yelled as various objects were shooting at him from golden ripples at insane speeds. If Touma didn't dodge, he would get injured quite badly.

"We need to develop your instincts." Alex said calmly as he was eating his meal next to Index who was also enjoying the show.

Alex had found an isolated location and set up some bounded fields for a practice area.

This practice continued for several more minutes until Touma finally got smacked in the face with a golden cup.

"Not bad, you already have decent survival instincts. Now we just need to develop them further and get you strong enough to dodge attacks that are beyond your sight" Alex said as his attention was drawn to the edge of his bounded field.

"If the two onlookers wish to join, you are welcome if you do not cause trouble" Alex said to the surroundings.

The two magicians from the other day walked into view of the group.

"When did you find out we were there?" Stiyl asked.

"When did you assume I didn't know you were there?" Alex retorted.

"I've never heard of a barrier like the one you set up around this area, it forces people to ignore everything that goes on inside. Which religion does it come from?" Kaori asked.

The magic in this world came from some sort of religion or more specifically, certain deities. Stiyl's magic was based off Runes that originated from Norse or Scandinavian mythologies.

"It isn't connected to a religion, its just a basic bounded field. Even beginner magi can create one." Alex responded bluntly. No reason to lie or misdirect, they wouldn't understand regardless and Alex didn't like to lie if possible.

The two magicians took a moment to take in this information. Even Index was a bit shocked at what he just said. It was known that Magic required a corresponding religion from somewhere, even with her vast library she couldn't find a reference to magic that didn't do so. She also never heard of 'magi' before.

"Are you both here regarding the memory wipe on Index?" Alex said, breaking them from their thoughts.

Touma who overheard the conversation was about to walk over until more golden ripples appeared at started firing at him.

"Breaks over, back to training." Alex said with a smile.

The magicians watched the familiar golden ripples that put fear into them earlier. They couldn't recognize its origin even after staying up almost all night trying to research. Not only that, those weapons.....they couldn't understand how they all appeared in this mysterious man's possession.

"You both are stupid." Alex said abruptly.

The two were startled at his comment, before they could retort he continued to speak.

"You didn't even bother to check if what the church said about Index's memory was true. You can literally ask anyone in this city about her 'condition' and they would tell you that its stupid." Alex explained.

"….what?" Kaori asked hesitantly.

"Its obvious the church is erasing her memory to control her." Alex replied.

Index was listening on to their conversation. She wasn't an idiot, she could guess what had happened to her. These two were probably her former companions and they were forced to erase her memory to 'save' her.

"There is a magic on her, its called 'collar'. Its basically a leash as a fail safe." Alex said.

"I've never heard of such a magic." Index interjected.

"Of course, why would they want the prisoner to know how their cage works?" Alex explained.

"So you're saying we've been lied to and manipulated?" Kaori asked, her bloodlust was starting to leak out.

"Pretty much." Alex replied.

"And whats your role in all of this?" Stiyl asked.

"I was asked to protect her" Alex said, motioning to Index.

"By who?" Stiyl asked again.

"Secret" Alex responded.

"Can Touma remove the 'collar' on Index?" Stiyl asked. He knew about the boy's ability to negate magic with his 'imagine breaker'.

"He could, but it would probably cause John's pen to retaliate." Alex said

"You know about john's pen?" Kaori asked surprised. It was supposed to be a secret encase index's life was ever threatened, a last resort.

"Yup, it's rigged to start up if the 'collar' is threatened." Alex explained.

"Those assholes" Stiyl said angrily.

"If I lose control....it will have access to all the magic grimroires in my head, can you deal with that?" Index asked. She had a basic understanding of 'john's pen'. It took over her body and used her to cast magic through her knowledge.

As index finished speaking, Touma had finished his last 'training set' before walking over. He was exhausted but had a look of dedication on his face. He heard what was being said even when he was being pummeled.

"I can stop it" Touma said with confidence. He had been introduced to a lot of new things these past several days, many of them scared him to his core. Who wouldn't be frightened learning that magic is real and some practitioners of it were trying to kill him. But he wouldn't to protect that girl that fell on his balcony.

Alex noticed the resolve in his eyes and decided to let the boy handle it. He needed to grow not just physically, but as a person. If Alex stepped in and handled every battle Touma was supposed to fight, he would stagnate and potentially die in the future when Alex was no longer around. He would play the support this time around.

"Alright, lets get started!" Alex said with a smile. Better to do it before Touma starts to second guess himself.

"Wait! We need to prepare!" Stiyl said in shock.

"Already did, you don't think this bounded field only keeps us hidden do you?" Alex said with a smirk. He had layered several bounded fields upon one another. He allowed those two magicians to enter, otherwise they would have never been able to.

Alex activated his armor while the magicians readied themselves. Index closed her eyes and Touma reached for her neck with his right hand.

As he brushed up against her neck, Index's mana suddenly flared up and a strange symbol appeared at the center of her neck. The Magician's were surprised, they were told she didn't have mana and that 'john's' pen' was a program that overcame that and merely used her body as a catalyst to cast spells.

"Error, unauthorized user is attempting to removed designated 'collar' from host. Starting Defense protocols." Index said with an odd monotone voice.

As she finished her words, Touma was blasted back by the sheer power of Index's mana. She continued to speak but it was gibberish over the winds and debris that were being blown up due to her releasing her power.

As Touma regained his footing, he was ready to charge back and remove the rest of the magic that was binding Index, until several magic circles appeared in the air behind her.

Alex opened a single golden ripple and called out. "RHO AIAS" He said as a purple flower shield formed up with 7 layers of defense.

It was weird how the Gate also stored 'conceptual weapons' like the Rho Aias. It wasn't tangible, yet he could feel it was in there and merely needed it call its name. It was also a bit odd how the Gate even had it, there were apparently some rules that dictated what the gate could and could not have that he was unaware of. The gate did not posses 'rule breaker' since it was not a real 'item' but a formation of the legend of Medea's betrayal. Yet, the Rho Aias was inside the barrier, it was a conceptual weapon given form from the legend of blocking the strongest Spear in the Trojan war. Matters to ponder at a different time.

A large beam of light shot at the barrier, the first layer was actually destroyed before the beam finally let up.

The Magicians and even Touma were looking at the shield In awe. They were not aware of what this shield was, they heard the name 'Rho Aias', but it was not familiar.

The shield eventually faded, and Alex then drew the attention of 'john's pen'.

"I got her attention, look for an opening Touma." Alex said as he moved to the side and put distance between the group. He needed the boy to develop a battle sense and know how to exploit openings. He could tank the damage for now.

Index turned her body to face the highest 'threat'.

Alex suddenly had a chill run down his spine as he could hear Index chanting in a tongue he did not recognize. It was dark, extremely dark. It seemed as if a dark shadow took hold over the girl as even john's pen started to warp around the evil that was emanating.

Her mana flared up even higher than before as dark tendrils of energy formed up and shot towards Alex.

His eyes went wide at the power that was coming after him, he reacted on instinct as he removed the invisible air from his blade to reveal what was underneath.

The magicians saw it only briefly as it collided with the darkness that was spewing forth.

The light of the blade cut through the tendrils with ease but there were many of them that continued to attack. The Magician's vision got obscured as Alex did battle with the masses of energy.

"Identity confirmed, priority target set to King A...….." Index's warped tone didn't finish as Touma saw an opening and grabbed the girl at the neck with his right hand.

"Error…..error….erro…..e….John's Pen shutting down." Index said as she lost consciousness and fainted into the boys arms.

The magicians watched on as the spectacle that had just occurred. They did not know what that darkness was, they could only assume that john's pen had pulled from a very dark grimoire in her head to use. But they also heard what she was about to say about the mystery man, 'King' something. The mechanism had identified the man, they would have to ask Index about it later to see if she remembered.

Alex was a bit shaken, not at the battle as it wasn't very difficult all things considered. No, he was shaken at the sudden explosion of dark energy. This was not in the original plot, that was a completely foreign entity that intervened. He was going to have words with his 'boss' later.

He had managed to hide his blade before the magicians could take notice. They only saw it for a brief moment, he doubted they could identify it.

"Lets get them home, its been a stressful day." Alex said abruptly. He would rather they don't have time to mull thins over in each other's presence. Let them come to conclusions on their own.

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Alex was back in his apartment, the duo were resting across the hall safe and sound, if only a bit tired.

"Stupid stupid stupid" Alex said to himself.

He let himself be taken by surprise and almost revealed his identity which is something he didn't quite want to do yet. The gate of Babylon was fine, let them try to figure that out...…..his thoughts were interrupted at this point.

"What the hell am I saying?" He said out loud.

Why was it fine to originally reveal his gate of Babylon like that? It was a major trump card and he just revealed to the world that he had an ass-ton of mythological weapons as his disposal.

He was going to be heavily scrutinized because of that initial reveal, now his identity may be revealed. It was only logical that Index could identify the weapons, they probably didn't change much between worlds and this world had a connection to various gods at some level, so the records in her head could probably identify them.

"Calm down and think it through" He said to himself quietly.

He fucked up, but he got lucky. His asinine display of his gate did have an impact, even though he basically just used it to scare a couple of kids because he wanted to show off his new toys.

He started to question himself as a whole after trying to ascertain his rational for his actions. He was neither the Alex or Arthur of old but a combination of them. He thought his psyche had settled down and solidified but he was wrong. It seemed that certain aspects of both personalities tended to flare up at some point. It was immature and stupid what he did with his gate, he could attribute that to his second life.

He needed to think things through better. He needed to find a good middle ground between the unemotional king and the regular human. Maybe he had been unconsciously rejecting his first life more so than his second, which is why it flared up in the way it did? He couldn't deny that most of his regrets and bad memories originated form his time as king.

"One step at a time" He quietly said to himself. It would be fine if he was acting by himself and only he was effected, but he basically announced that he threw his lot in with Index and thereby caught her up in his stupidity.

His thoughts eventually drifted to that 'thing' that happened to Index. That was not a part of the plot nor was it native to this world. It felt way too foreign and grotesque. He had a few theories which involved his 'boss' and his 'work', he would need to have words when he got back.

All things considered, he was lucky to have learned this lesson this early. If he had been in a world where Gods were around every corner, he could have done some serious harm to himself or his interests.

"I'm much too old to lose control of myself like that" He said with resolution. He would not be making the same mistakes again.


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
Coraulten Coraulten

Didn't get a chance to upload this chapter before i left for work this morning.

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