Wrong Choice or Not, I Won’t Let You Leave
Lesus’s POV of V6Prologue, V4C10, and V6C9.
In the days leading up to the inheritance ceremony, my teacher asked me a question. What do you think the duty of the Judgment Knight is?
He had asked me the question once before during the time I first started practicing in the Judge’s Complex. At the time, I’d answered that the Judgment Knight’s duty was to punish sinners. However, I did not feel that my teacher was very satisfied with the answer, and after practicing for many years in the Judge’s Complex, I myself was not satisfied with the answer either.
My duty was definitely not as straightforward as “punishing sinners.” It included dealing with the citizens, leading my faction of the Twelve Holy Knights, and assisting the Sun Knight, but there was something unsatisfying even with this answer.
It wasn’t until Neo Sun pulled me over and entrusted me with an earth-shattering secret that I realized the path I was to follow.
The path I was to create.
After all, how was I to be the Judgment Knight if Grisia were not by my side?
Grisia was to be my Sun Knight, but according to his teacher, that could change at the drop of a hat, as Grisia was also a demon king candidate with the potential to become the Demon King. My eyes had widened when I heard this piece of information that even Grisia himself didn’t know.
Did it change my perception of Grisia? I couldn’t say it didn’t, but unlike what his teacher had feared, it only served to highlight even further what Grisia himself believed — we are what we make ourselves to be, who we choose to be.
Grisia believed in the God of Light. He believed in miracles. He believed in… me. I could not think of anyone else who had more faith than him, who was more suited to be the Sun Knight than him.
Grisia was Grisia, this person who was afraid of dogs but could spin a plan so cunning that you’d wish you never crossed him, who was mischievous and caused me both exasperation and amusement, who loved sweets so much that you wouldn’t ever want to see another pie in your life, who sucked so much at using a sword that you’d wonder how he was even able to pretend to use one in a fight, who believed in me even more than I believed in myself.
It was my turn to believe in him.
It did not matter that he had the potential to become the Demon King. Grisia was Grisia. He could be whoever he chose to be, and he’d already chosen to be the Sun Knight, so Sun Knight he would stay. I believed it to be what he wanted. At least, it was what I chose to believe. What I wanted to believe.
It was now up to me whether I wanted to reveal Grisia’s hidden identity to him, and when I would do it. At the time, I hadn’t even considered how irresponsible Grisia’s teacher was being, pushing all the responsibility onto me. All that was running through my head was this.
I can’t let Grisia leave.
I already couldn’t imagine him not being the Sun Knight, not being by my side. Who was I to share sweets with in the bathroom of the Judge’s Complex if that was the case? Who would pull me back from the darkness, to remind me that I hadn’t strayed?
Who was I to assist if he were not present?
I had thought it to be a given that Grisia would always be by my side, but now I knew that wasn’t to be so. If I wanted Grisia to stay the Sun Knight, I would have to see to it happening. I could not leave it to chance.
When I reconvened with my teacher, I firmly told him what I believed to be my duty as the Judgment Knight. I thought of how Grisia pulled me from the darkness. I thought of how I’d do the same for him.
“The Sun Knight leads the people forward, while the Judgment Knight will protect his road forward and not let anything obstruct it!”
I would forever protect Grisia’s path. It did not matter if that was not the answer my teacher had been looking for. It was mine, and it was one that I would wholeheartedly devote myself to in all the years I was to be the Judgment Knight.
Whatever was to come, this I would not stray from.
In the years following our teachers’ retirement, the matter of the Demon King did not surface right away, but it did not mean I forgot about it. The first hint that something was not quite right was when Sun disappeared. I hadn’t known that it had anything to do with his identity as a demon king candidate, but when we finally found him again in the Valley of Trizer, I could not stop myself from being shocked.
Sun had a head of jet black hair, eyes just as black as ink, both so very different from his golden hair and his sky blue eyes that so many people admired him for. He stood over Ice and Blaze who were on the ground, both severely injured from trying to fight off a dragon. Instead of helping, Sun demanded them to kneel down and beg him. It was his voice and the same daredevil tone he used in private, but he wasn’t Sun.
He didn’t remember us.
He didn’t remember saying how the Twelve Holy Knights would never abandon the Twelve Holy Knights.
He didn’t remember.
Blood chilled, I bellowed, “Besides the Holy Temple, you aren’t going anywhere!”
Grisia, you’re the Sun Knight! I’m not letting you go anywhere out of my sight!
I was afraid we were too late, that Grisia was soon to become the Demon King. Otherwise, why would Grisia’s hair and eyes be black? Neo had not told me the specifics of what becoming the Demon King entailed, but surely this was a step towards it.
I was so thankful that my presence and the presence of the Divine Sun Sword were enough to unlock Sun’s memories. He remembered, and even though he was reluctant to take back the Divine Sun Sword, he eventually took it, holy light pouring back into his body.
When he opened his eyes again, they were blue.
I was ever so glad that I had been able to persuade Sun to continue being the Sun Knight, that words had been enough to return him to us.
We had come too close to losing Sun that day, and that was only the tip of the iceberg.
The next time Sun’s hair turned black, I was unable to persuade him to take back the Divine Sun Sword.
He had once again disappeared from my sight, from my reach, and now that we’d found him, he planned on welcoming the darkness out of his own resolve. It unsettled me, but his plan was sound, and he entrusted me to make him take back the Divine Sun Sword.
I watched him willingly cast aside his holy light to absorb dark element. His hair slowly became dyed by inky darkness, his eyes transforming into dark pools. I flinched, thinking that the Grisia from the dragon’s cave was back, the one who had thrown Ice and Blaze to the dragon without a care, but when Grisia turned towards me, I saw that there was a touch of golden light in his inky eyes, like looking at a starry sky.
I was somewhat reassured, but there was still no guarantee that Sun wouldn’t be drunk on power and refuse once again to take back his sword. If that were to happen, would I be able to persuade him once more? I doubted, but Sun reassured me that even if he were to refuse the sword, I should just shove it back.
When Sun returned after defeating Charlotte, I thought the matter to be settled. He had won. He had returned. But then he handed the Eternal Tranquility back to me and refused to take the Divine Sun Sword.
My heart plummeted even as I tried to be lighthearted with my words. Had my worries come true? Was Grisia going to abandon us? Would I be enough to pull him back?
I felt my heart plummet even more when I realized that Grisia was trying to be reasonable. Grisia didn’t just want to protect “us.” He thought he needed to protect the world. It would be the best for everyone. How could he be selfish and turn his back on the world? Anyway, it wasn’t like being the Sun Knight was easy. It was so cumbersome! There were so many things holding him back, so many inconveniences. He was much freer now, much happier!
I nearly wanted to laugh hysterically.
You want to become the Demon King? You want to save the world? Since when have you been so responsible? You’re Grisia! You should just continue being selfish!
I shouted that I hadn’t become the Judgment Knight because it made me happy. Grisia knew this best. He knew the turmoil that I suffered from my position, the self-doubt that plagued me. But I had chosen, just like he had chosen, and I would never go back on my choice. This was the path I was to follow. It was that path that he was to follow.
This was our path.
And I wanted it to stay that way. I didn’t at all believe that he was never happy as the Sun Knight.
I didn’t at all believe that he was happy right now.
I wanted him to be selfish.
I wanted to be selfish.
I didn’t want him to leave.
“Lesus, you still owe me two favors.”
My heart lurched. Oh no, Grisia, don’t you dare. Don’t you dare–
“My second favor is- Oomph!”
Without thinking, I punched Grisia to stop him from speaking any further. Words were useless. I was never as eloquent as Sun. I could not persuade him to change his mind with my words. He didn’t think I was doing a favor for him right now, but surely he would thank me later…
At least, I wanted to believe so. I didn’t know if I was making the right choice or the wrong choice. Right choice or not, wrong choice or not, I wasn’t going to let him leave.
He fell to the floor and stared up at me incredulously, unconsciously opening his eyes wider even when he had no need to do so. It was selfish of me to want him to stay when we as his brothers had already caused him to lose so much, from his eyes to his golden hair and who knew what he would lose next, but I was selfish.
I was not a good person. I was the Judgment Knight. I was selfish. It mattered not what people thought of me.
I grabbed his neck, hand fisting his dark hair, and raised the Divine Sun Sword. Grisia’s breath hitched, but I didn’t let that stop me. He protested, but I didn’t let that stop me either. I stabbed the sword straight into Grisia’s chest, my blood pounding in my ears as I did so. He screamed, but I could not hear him past my roaring blood and whirling unease.
Did I know what I was doing?
Did I stop?
Even as Grisia begged for me to stop, even as all of the other Twelve Holy Knights yelled that this was Sun I was hurting, I didn’t stop. I steeled my heart and pushed the sword in even further. Grisia screamed and twisted in pain, his skin burning from reacting to the holy element of the divine sword, but I couldn’t let myself stop. If I stopped, Sun would be gone forever. Forever out of my reach.
I could not bear to see him in pain, but I could not bear losing him even more. Before I lost my resolve, I yelled for everyone to gather holy light. With our efforts combined, perhaps we would be able to drive out the dark element from Grisia’s body and return him to us. I could only believe.
“Believe in me,” I said, my voice completely contradictory to the turmoil that swam inside of me. I had to be strong for everyone. Just like how Sun believes in us. Please believe. “And believe in our Knight-Captain Sun!”
He will return to us. We just have to believe.
I so very much wanted this to be true.
Grisia continued to wail and writhe in pain, but this time, none of the others told me to stop. None of us gave up even as Grisia begged for us to stop. Holy light enveloped Grisia. Eventually, his cries died out. The darkness from his hair bled out.
My holy light was completely spent and I was exhausted, but I was still not reassured. Even when Grisia lazily told me to pull out the sword so he could heal his injury, I was still not reassured.
As if I were chaining him to us, to me, I circled the chain of the Eternal Tranquility around his neck, letting the gem drop against his chest. I had to make sure he would not be swallowed up by the dark element again.
Then, with white hair spread around him in disarray, Grisia gazed up at me and apologized. His eyes were blue once more, even if I were no longer in his eyes. “I knew there would come a day when I would be bashed up by you and still have to say ‘I’m sorry, I was wrong.'”
He paused and then quietly said, “I’m sorry, I was wrong. And thank you for not letting me go.”
It…worked? Is it really okay to relax now? Are you truly staying, Sun? You’re not going to leave?
His words washed over me. Mind blank, I finally pulled out the Divine Sun Sword.
Sun jerked in pain. I flung the Divine Sun Sword away and collapsed against his shoulder with my head bowed, my entire body sagging with relief and exhaustion. I hadn’t known if it would work or not. I hadn’t known if I could get Sun to stay. He had sounded so sure of himself, so sure that he didn’t want to be the Sun Knight anymore. What if that had been what he truly thought? What if I was wrong about his desire to stay the Sun Knight? What if he really did want to abandon us, to leave me in the dark?
I felt my eyes become moist and my throat tighten. I quietly whispered my insecurities to Sun, Sun who I felt could slip out of my grasp at any moment.
Sun, was I wrong? Was I right? What if you still wanted to leave after I pierced the sword through you, after I’d hurt you so much to get you to stay?
Was I wrong?
He gently placed a hand on my shoulder, as if to say, I’m here, Judgment. You weren’t wrong. You were right. Thank you.
He claimed that I was always right and had never been wrong, but I knew the truth to be different. He had gained three favors from me for the time I’d interpreted his actions wrongly, but that wasn’t the only mistake I’d made. I’d died and forced him to sacrifice part of himself for me. I’d let him out of my sight, not once, but twice. I hadn’t nearly done enough for him so that he would not feel the need to take everything on by himself.
I would gladly owe him more favors if it meant I would never make a mistake ever again, if it meant I could successfully protect Sun’s path.
I attempted to school my expression. I shakily stood up and reached out to pull Sun up. He placed his cold hand in mine. I gripped it firmly, wishing I could pull him to me and never, ever let him out of my grasp.
Selfish or not, I would do everything I could to make sure he stayed the Sun Knight.
That was my resolve as the Judgment Knight, whatever was to come.