Way of the Knights

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Way of the Knights Pinus Sylvestris
Armorless Union Assassin icon.png
Armorless Union Member
Bounty Hunter A icon.png
Bounty Hunter
Sarkaz Mercenary B icon.png
Sarkaz Robber
Nearl Estate Living Room
Kazimierz Streets
Kazimierz Ghetto
Champion's Hall
Ice Forest
RI Bridge
Chernobog Avenue
Kawalerielki Arena
Młynar arrives at a worrying conclusion, forcing the Nearl sisters into an even more difficult predicament. "What does it mean to be a knight?" Maria ponders to herself.
<Background black>
On what will you shine your light? On what can you shine your light?
To do your utmost. That is the glory that all knights should seek.
Glory. Glory did not betray Kazimierz. It is the people that abandoned glory.
That does not mean glory is meaningless.
The word glory itself is far too intangible, Margaret. Wearing it on one's sleeve is foolish.
That is why knights must prove themselves by their deeds alone.
Suppose the cause to which you've dedicated your life turns to sneer at all that you are... Do your deeds still hold meaning?
<Background 1>
[As stated before, Margaret Nearl the Radiant Knight dueled with her uncle Młynar in the Nearls' residence's courtyard to settle the old scores between them. In the duel itself, Młynar is outmatched by Margaret as she knocks his sword off his hand...]
Młynar –!
[...and stood in shock, having been defeated by his own cousin.]
Młynar Ngh...!
Margaret Uncle!
Młynar How many times I have told you? Never speak to your opponent in combat.
Margaret Then why won't you use your Arts?
Młynar I should ask you myself. Your Arts have improved. You must have realized the truth, then?
Margaret About that... yes.
However...! Uncle Młynar, right now, I would prefer it if you–
Młynar Say no more.
You sent my sword flying. That means you've won, Margaret.
Margaret Even though... you never used your Arts at all?
Młynar It was a match, nothing more, nothing less. All other factors are mere excuses. When have I ever taught you to be so indecisive?
Margaret ......
Młynar If you've come to understand the price your grandfather paid for your naivety, then you must understand the meaning of your return.
Margaret, you are trampling my father's will.
Margaret For us to become cowards?
Młynar ......
Margaret "Fear neither hardship nor darkness."
Młynar Right. Fear neither hardship nor darkness... You won the battle. You won the chance to continue your mistakes.
Do remember to say your prayers, and pray that your stubbornness won't drag too many souls into its wake.
Margaret Uncle...
Do you still believe those times are forever behind us?
Młynar ......
[Młynar's phone rings.]
Młynar Margaret, how dare you ask me this question?
I have a telephone meeting later. Everyone is busy with the Major. As for your little charade... Try not to do anything to distract me from my responsibilities.
Face reality. See how others must live. See their needs. And stop imposing your fantasies on them for your own glory.
You find yourself disappointed, sooner or later.
Margaret But what if I don't end up like you?
Młynar Like me...? You?
Looks like those Sarkaz friends of yours took excellent care of you during your exile.
[Młynar leaves just as Maria came to see her sister...]
Maria Margaret!
Margaret, are you okay...?
Margaret Yes... I'm fine.
[...followed by Zofia.]
Zofia Okay, Maria. Stop squeezing her like that. Her arms must be going numb.
Maria Oh! S-Sorry... Does it hurt?
Zofia *Sigh*. I never imagined I would find you two dueling today–
–Młynar hits hard, doesn't he?
Margaret ......
How has he been the past few years?
Zofia Normal. He's been living a pretty normal, routine life. He heads out early for work and comes home late, always busy with meetings or dealing with difficult clients, and, once in a while, he gets into debates on account of the "Nearl" name.
But I'm sure this 'normal' feels enough like a punishment for him.
I mean, he used to be so... Uh, never mind! Let's talk about something else!
Margaret ......
Zofia Look at how you frown. You won, but it doesn't feel like it, does it? Seems that stubbornness runs in the family.
Maria At least Uncle Młynar's agreed to let Margaret compete in the Major, right?
If she takes the crown again, I'm sure that'll be the end of his complaints.
After, it's all for–
Maria Nearl, the Blemishine.png
For family. For myself. For... a knight's glory.
To tell the truth, I know the bounty of the land of the knights today is a far cry from the glory of the past.
<Background 1>
Maria ......
Zofia Maria? Why so quiet all of a sudden?
Maria Ah...
Zofia Are you hungry?
Maria A-Auntie!
Zofia Let's give Margaret some time to rest.
<Background 2>
[Młynar picks up the call on his phone.]
Młynar ...Hello?
My apologies. I just got home, and I had some family matters to deal with... Not a problem. The documents have been annotated.
Sponsoring the Major...? Me? No, please, stop pulling my leg. You know I'm not suited to something like that...
Right... Of course. It's work. I shouldn't be trying to bargain. My apologies.
Yes, of course. I will be there right away.
[Młynar hangs up as he noticed the presence of someone familiar to him.]
Młynar The window's open, Toland.
You're getting rusty. I could sense your presence.
But, please, come in through the front door next time.
<Background 1>
Zofia Okay... Doesn't look like you're hurt.
Margaret He held back.
Zofia Yeah... He didn't use his Arts after all.
And actually, it's been a long time since he had that look on his face...
Margaret ......
Zofia –Alright! Get up.
So what's your plan now? You need to report to the Knights Association, don't you?
Margaret There is a complicated process, but it's not time yet.
Maria Margaret... We barged into that unfinished match... Is it really going to be alright?
Zofia Alright? You're looking at an exiled Infected, Maria. She smashed through the arena walls and waltzed onto the field, remember?
With all that she has done, what's interrupting a match or two?
Maria R-Right... You have a point...
Margaret Trouble is an old friend. Be it then or now, so long as Kazimierz remains as it is, we will face all manner of obstacle in our path.
Maria So are you going to compete in the Major, Margaret?
Margaret I am.
Zofia ......
Maria Is that... something that you absolutely have to do?
Margaret ...Maria.
Maria It's just... you finally got to come home... I don't think the Association would make things difficult for Uncle and the family...
But if the Chamber of Commerce have their eyes on you again like they did a few years ago, then we–
Margaret ......
Zofia Maria has a point, Margaret.
It doesn't matter how the Knights Association deals with this, or what the Adeptus Sprawiedliwi's decision is. To the masses and the knights, you are still the Radiant Knight.
I have to admit... I don't get it either. I don't understand why you insist on competing again... I don't understand what you're thinking.
But I'm sure you have it figured out. Stubbornness may run in the family, but that's not the same thing as recklessness.
Margaret This is just the beginning...
Whether I take the crown or not... it's just a beginning.
Maria, Auntie Zofia. If all we do is cower on the sidelines and look on at society with indifference, if we only comfort ourselves, insisting that nothing can be done–
–then when will we truly regain our glory?
Are the knights of Kazimierz destined to wallow forever in times long past?
Zofia So you want to...
Margaret Shining light on the tragedies of the world is not a permanent commitment to dispelling the darkness.
Sometimes... Sometimes, it's just to illuminate the path forward, to help those who are lost see things from a new perspective.
Even in today's Kazimierz, there is still meaning to keeping our faith.
Maria Margaret...
Zofia Alright... Sounds like you've made up your mind.
But you put on such a show as soon as you got back to Kazimierz. If there's a chance... Margaret.
Don't forget you're home. You have family and memories here. You have Maria... and me.
At the very least, give Maria some time to fawn on you.
Maria A-Auntie! What are you saying?!
Zofia She's been working really hard lately, you know?
Maria I-I haven't...
Margaret Yes, I know. I'm proud of you, Maria. You've really... really grown up.
Maria Nearl, you will be an excellent knight.
Maria Oh... right.
About that... Margaret. If you're thinking of joining the Major, you probably won't have time to rack up the points you need, right?
Margaret It will be difficult, but not impossible.
Zofia Right... Just like the Candle Knight who's been popular the past few years. I understand it didn't even take her a month to earn enough points.
That may be the case, but the Candle Knight racked up her points early in the preliminaries. Even if Margaret gains the Knights Association's approval right away, we'd still be cutting it close.
What's your plan?
Margaret The competition's rules have changed, but the basics are still the same. So long as I scrape together a win in the melees, I should still stand a chance.
Maria But... that's too risky! I drew a lot of attention when I stepped into the ring. If you take to the arena yourself, you're bound to attract even greater opponents...!
Zofia Right, and we can't say for sure that the corporations won't pull their dirty tricks on you.
Anyway, we need to come up with a plan as soon...
Maria I... I have an idea.
Zofia Maria?
Maria Independent knights... like me and Margaret... aren't part of a knightclub, so we compete as part of a "knight family," right?
Zofia That's true... You used the Nearl family coat of arms during your matches.
Maria And, if I remember correctly, it's not just knights of the same knightclub who are allowed to transfer their points, right? Those from the same knight family are allowed to do the same?
Zofia –Maria?!
Margaret No, I can't accept that.
Maria, those points are proof of your gallantry as a knight. I can't–
Maria –I don't care!
I... I chose to become a knight because I wanted our home to be ours.
The Nearl family's ancestors... Grandfather... Father... and you. I didn't want to lose all that. I wanted to protect the Nearls' glory.
Margaret ......
Maria But... But then I realized... I was too naive about all this.
If we followed them into the Major, if we became their knights just to uphold our knightly name... then... we wouldn't have changed anything.
...I don't actually want to become a knight.
Knights can't change the knighthood, Margaret.
Zofia Maria...
Maria If there is something only you can do, I beg you to do it.
I... I just want this home to still be our home...
Margaret ......
I understand, but I still need some time to think.
Zofia Alright now... Don't be so gloomy. We've got lots of ways to go about this.
Why don't we go to Old Marcin's bar for a drink later? It's been such a long time. I'm sure he wants to talk to you.
Margaret What about Uncle...?
Zofia You should try not to bother him. I'll check up on him.
There's one thing, Margaret.
There are a lot more Infected in the city than before, and the Armorless Union is also much more active.
Be careful.
<Background 3>
Platinum ......
Armorless Union Member Report.
Platinum What's the situation?
Armorless Union Member The Radiant Knight and Młynar Nearl just fought each other in a duel.
I read their lips. Neither looked very happy.
Platinum *Sigh*... I seriously hope she'll just stay home and spend some time with her family. They haven't seen each other in so long.
Please don't get yourself mixed up in anything you shouldn't, Radiant Knight. I don't want any more trouble to deal with.
Armorless Union Member Uh, Platinum, so what should we do...?
Platinum Keep an eye on her.
If she tries anything, let me know right away.
Armorless Union Member Of course.
Platinum What are the others up to? Mission-wise?
Armorless Union Member Uh... Per the rules...
Platinum I'm not allowed to know.
Whatever. It's either something about the Infected or the Adeptus Sprawiedliwi.
As long as we don't have to lift a finger, it's all fine by me.
<Background 2>
Zofia Młynar...
Młynar ......
Zofia Młynar!
Młynar ...Do you need something?
Zofia Are you... okay?
Margaret might've stopped herself in that last duel, but you weren't wearing your helmet...
Młynar You needn't worry about me.
Zofia She caught you by surprise... didn't she?
She caught all of us by surprise. After all... she's become far stronger than any of us could've imagined.
Młynar Is that all you have to say...?
Zofia I'm worried about you, Młynar.
Młynar I've fallen so far that it falls on you to worry about me.
Zofia Right. I'm sure even you have realized.
Młynar It's just a sprain, nothing more... Her swordsmanship has come a long way, but she's not yet at the point where I can't handle her.
But... hmm.
Zofia You're wondering what made Margaret like this?
Of course, there are her Sarkaz friends. They are all... noble souls. Shockingly noble.
It might just be that she's gone through more over these past few years than either of us could imagine.
Maybe... you could swallow your pride just a little and talk to either of them?
Młynar Confident enough to order me around now, are you? Did coaching Maria give you such a sense of fulfillment?
Zofia –!
Before Margaret became the center of attention, you and your brother were heroes to all of us.
I know how you see the rest of us. Marcin does as well, and so do V and Kowal. Though... at the same time... I am just as disappointed in you.
Let's leave it there. Have fun with work.
Młynar ......
<Background 4>
[Shining and Nightingale walks through an abandoned part of Kawalerielki's Infected ghetto.]
Shining Looks like someone used to live here...
Nightingale Right, there are still traces of their lives... but... are they hiding?
Shining This is... the third settlement we've come across.
In a glittering city, the Infected always run to cold, cramped corners like these.
It's hard to believe... How could Kazimierz be this heartless...?
Nightingale Are these the Infected Amiya and the kind old knight talked about?
Shining Right... If even the knights knew about this, then things can't be that simple.
Do you still have any strength left, Nightingale? It's getting late. We can head back for some rest, if you need.
Nightingale No, I can hang on for a little longer.
Shining Okay...
In that case–
[An explosion is heard as the ground rumbles.]
Nightingale Ah–What's the noise?
Shining A wrecking crew... They're tearing down the buildings... and the subterranean structures beneath.
Nightingale What if there are still Infected hiding below?
Shining Remember everything you see, Liz.
Perhaps Nearl knows something about this.
<Background 5>
Margaret ......
The Radiant Knight walks down the hallway in silence.
The portraits of past champions line the hallway like fences on the side of the road, filling her entire path with their glory.
Margaret Maria...
[The now-Spokesman Malkiewicz approaches Margaret.]
Spokesman Malkiewicz You... Are you... the Radiant Knight?
Margaret My apologies. Is this place not open yet?
Spokesman Malkiewicz Oh, uh... No... More accurately, it's not open to the public yet, though I am not sure you count as the public...
Margaret Right, sorry about this.
Spokesman Malkiewicz Uh... Forgive me, I haven't yet introduced myself.
Please, call me Malkiewicz. I am the spokes–I am the staff member in charge of maintaining the wall of champions.
Forgive me for asking, Radiant Knight, but what are your plans right now?
Margaret Radiant Knight, huh? It wasn't until today that I finally regained that title.
Spokesman Malkiewicz So the Association gave their approval... Congratulations.
Malkiewicz comes back to his senses. The two of them turn their heads forward, to a portrait of the Radiant Knight herself.
Though she stands right next to him–or perhaps precisely because she's right next to him, a strange feeling washes over Malkiewicz.
The stubbornness is finally starting to loosen, and those things that are locked in place will soon be shattered.
Spokesman Malkiewicz You look much more gallant in person.
Margaret It's been a few years, after all.
Spokesman Malkiewicz I understand that you... have your differences with the Knights Association and many others. Perhaps this isn't something someone the likes of me should say... But...
I still would like to tell you. I say this not in a professional capacity... But... Rather, as a regular enthusiast of the knighthood and a citizen of the Grand Knight Territory...
Margaret Please, go on. You needn't be so reserved.
Spokesman Malkiewicz Welcome back to Kazimierz, Radiant Knight.
I truly believe this is the beginning of something great.
<Background 2>
Maria Huh? Margaret, where have you been?
Margaret I took a walk around the Grand Knight Territory. Where is Uncle Młynar?
Maria He got summoned to a meeting just as I got home.
Good thinking, taking a look around town since you just got back. What do you think?
Margaret Not much seems to have changed.
Maria Really? I kind of remember there have been a bunch of new fast food joints opening up at the mall the last couple years, though.
Margaret But it feels a lot emptier in here...
Maria We had to sell off a lot of the furniture...
Uncle Młynar is working for the corps, and I've been helping out at Master Kowal's workshop too. We don't have any troubles with our day-to-day expenses, actually, though Uncle Młynar doesn't tell me a whole lot...
But Old Marcin told me there are a lot of knight families and merchants who don't look too kindly on the Nearl family these days. Uncle Młynar might be facing a lot more pressure than we know.
So... Do you think we'll ever patch things up with Uncle?
Margaret It'll be difficult, but I'm sure we can.
I had a few arguments with him before I left Kazimierz.
It was Auntie Zofia who told me that Uncle Młynar's been depressed about a lot of things, ever since our parents went missing.
But now... I can't bring myself to agree with what she said, not completely. I... I've seen a lot of people, and a lot of things on my journeys, and now... to face Uncle Młynar again...
Remember the story Grandpa used to tell us when we were kids? How, on their very first trip together, Uncle sorted out a lowly noble who hiked up the tax rates and made life hard on the countryside commoners?
Maria I remember. We just couldn't imagine he used to be a brave young man like that.
Margaret It's not always the magnificent things that change a person's mind, Maria. I've come across many of those cases.
Maybe... he's been disillusioned ever since.
Maria ......
Margaret So how does it feel to be a knight now?
Maria Actually... It's not quite how I imagined it.
Margaret Yeah... I know what you mean.
That's why I will compete in the Major. Even if nobody understands me.
Maria Margaret... No... You have people in your corner too, right? Really impassioned supporters!
Margaret Do I?
Maria Of course! I'm talking about Shining and Nightingale.
I only met them briefly, but when I saw all of you standing on the stage for such a highly anticipated match, I couldn't help but feel I could trust them with my back.
I've been meaning to ask, what have you been through these past few years?
Margaret I will tell you soon enough.
It will be a very long story, though, and it doesn't have a happy ending, not like those novels about knights I used to read to you.
Maria Well, we're sisters.
Margaret We are.
<Flashback starts here>
<Background 6>
Sarkaz Robber Take everything you see and kill everyone! Get the food!
<Background 7>
Bounty Hunter A knight? What's a Kazimierz knight doing here?! All the people here are dead, and you'll still get in our way?!
<Background 8>
Shining The Radiant Knight...?
What do knights stand for?
<Background 9>
Amiya No! Nearl! It's too dangerous to run into the storm. You need somebody else–No, I'll come with you!
<Background 10>
Mephisto ...Faust.
I want her shot through the mouth.
<Background 11>
Firewatch ...The knights never helped us guerillas.
Our leaders waited years, but in the end, help never came. We fought to the last, alone, until we were devoured by Ursus. Not many of us are still around to tell the tale.
<Flashback ends here>
<Background 12>
[The audience cheers.]
Commentator The Radiant Knight is back in the arena! What amazing spectacle does she have in store for us today? Will we bear witness to a once-in-decades legend?!
Is she an Infected or a knight?! Will she reign victorious or will her opponent best her?! With all the dreams weighing on her blade, is it still sharp enough for battle?! Keep your eyes peeled!!
Please welcome–The Radiant Knight–Maaaaargareeeeeeet Neeeeaaaaaaarl–!
[Margaret enters the arena.]
Margaret ......
After a long journey, the knight finally made it home.
Just as always, the Radiant Knight steps forward.
She is about to face her greatest challenge.