As the remaining knights began to scramble, higher-ups barking orders at their underlings, Jin slowly turned to leave the town. Unsurprisingly, he was quickly surrounded by ten knights, completely encircling him.
"Why did you kill him?" one of them asked.
"It was my job. I was told to kill, and I killed. Much like you are doing now, you are trying to stop me because it is your job. You were told to stop me, and you will do everything in your power to do so, even if it means your very lives are forfeit. Look at me. Do you truly think you can stop me? You saw what I did to your poor, pathetic excuse for a commander. If he was in charge of you, then what does that mean for you? You're all much weaker than he is, that's why he could boss you around. Did you truly want to be stationed in this freezing hellscape? No. Yet here you are, because some fat, old man told you that was your job. Now, if you'll excuse me. I plan to leave here with little other casualties. You simply are a bore to me, nothing more than a bug to be squashed, or grain to be harvested."
The Knights were obviously incensed by Jin's words, and they responded by all charging in towards the Bringer of Death. He leaped out of the encirclement, landing safely on his feet. He twirled his scythe in his hand, preparing for combat. The Rune Knights all had grim looks on their faces as they turned towards Jin. While the Bringer of Death's words were harsh, he knew that they realized that what he was saying was true.
"Even if we were Commander Kennel's subordinates, you still broke a law through murdering an innocent man!" the Rune Knight from before called out.
Jin smiled beneath his mask. "Step forwards, you who are speaking back to me."
After a moment's hesitation, one finally stepped forwards. He was a thin man, with a big, bushy mustache beneath his helmet. In one hand, he bore a shield with the Rune Knight's sigil on it, as many of his other companions did, and in the other he held tight to an ax with a slightly discolored blade. Wizard-killer ax. More painful to those with high concentrations of magic in their bodies. They're really focusing on taking out the biggest threats, eh? No matter. As long as I clear up these fools quickly, I should be able to escape before any of their own wizards come to stop me. Jin then spoke to the Knight. "You have a lot of courage, standing up to someone like me. As much as you might see me as an emotionless, sadistic killer, I at least can commend you for that much. I'll kill you last. What's your name? Remember, any information you can give me is a higher chance that you survive."
The Knight gulped, clearly nervous. "Szjgard. I've got a sis, Syalla, who lives in Magnolia. That's as much as I'll tell you."
This guy's sis is the girl from the Demon's Den?
Seems like. Guess I'll be nice to you and spare him. Who knows? Maybe you'll get a nice gal at your shoulder. You need it. Jin quietly laughed at his own joke before shutting away the Paragon once more. "Very well, Szjgard. Now, watch as I kill your companions with ease."
Jin burst forwards, much faster than the Knights expected, as he slashed through the throat of one of the less-armed Knights, who collapsed on the snow, blood dripping from his wound. After a beat, the remaining nine, Szjgard included, began striking at Jin. His scythe clashed blade-to-blade with the Knights' weapons, the difference in skill between the magic-imbued Bringer of Death and the likely magic-deficient Knights evident. Jin was faster and stronger physically, even without enhancements from his magic. Nonetheless, he still buffed up his speed further with his call of Umbra Refrenatem, leaving him lighter on his feet. After what felt like minutes of the clash, Szjgard came forward, swinging his ax down, splitting Jin's scythe in two. Jin was surprised by the sudden turn of events, allowing the Knight to slash away at Jin's flesh itself, with several of the other knights able to land in blows before Jin weaved out of the encirclement, blood dripping from his arm.
"Impressive. You manage to break my weapon. Nonetheless, I am still intent on fighting you man-to-man." Jin focused on his Aspect of the Maw of Shadow, as well as focusing in on his Phantasmal strength. The second lesser-armed knight was the first to dash forwards, sword slicing through the air. Now. Jin merely place his hands into his jacket pockets as the blade was caught in mid-air. The shock on the trainee's eyes was evident, and that shock bled into the remaining knights as the looked to see the creation that had stopped the blade.
"Ara ara, you certainly are an interesting little mortal, aren't you?" the skeletal figure muttered. Jin placed his hand against the face of the trainee, unleashing a Skoteina Dorata. The man collapsed on the ground, lifeless. Jin looked over his shoulder to see the creation. He had found a mysterious lacrima back at the ruins of his hometown, and when he had absorbed it, this skeletal figure suddenly appeared, calling itself Hallow's Phantom. No matter who he asked at Silver Wolf, no one was quite sure how this thing came about into existence. All that Leona was able to say was that it was an Ethereal Projection, and it could morph into the world without the use of any magic power, though it was somewhat strange that it could take in emotions of its own. It was a strange being to be sure, and the Paragon had been whining at how now there were, in essence, three people inhabiting the same body. The Bringer of Death was certainly fine with it, as it clearly had intense power, especially against wizards. It could slowly drain away an opponent's magic power, Leona claimed, and in the limited excursions Jin had done in the purpose of research, that certainly seemed to be the case.
"Wh-what the hell is that?" Szjgard cried out.
"I would honestly prefer that you refer to me by my name, the Hallow's Phantom. Truly, I'm a wonder to behold. Bask in my glory, little puny peasant."
Jin sighed as his Umbra Refrenatem faded out. He slowly began walking towards the remaining eight Knights that had pledged to stop him. They were all well-armed with these shields and their own anti-wizard weapons, though they would serve no chance against the Hallow's Phantom, let alone with Jin also involving himself. The mysterious Phantom was, if nothing else, an incredible convenience. Jin could simply sit back and watch the phantasmal golem destroy his enemies without having to get involved if the enemy was weak enough. Just as the Bringer of Death had been in a sort of symbiosis with the Paragon, the Hallow's Phantom was now getting involved in this smorgasbord of coexisting personalities in the same body. Each was in tune with the other's combat, and despite merely having been integrated into Jin's body a week prior, the Phantom had already begun to synchronize with both the Bringer of Death and the Paragon of Virtue's combat styles.
"Now, you all can see me, to be certain. If you take a very close look, you'll see that I, in fact, am a skeleton. And, judging by the looks on your faces, you certainly think I am both spooky and scary. And, as the old saying goes, Spooky, Scary Skeletons send shivers down your spines, and I think that sounds like an absolutely WONDERFUL idea! Now, I must show you my Super Ultra Spooky Factor!"
With that, a bright light flashed from the Phantom, causing all the knights to wince in pain. The Hallow's Phantom laughed as the knights looked around for Jin, who now was weaving in and out between them, taking advantage of their hindered vision. He delivered a kick into the gut of one of the knights, who doubled over in pain, leaving his face in reach for a swift knee to be delivered from the Bringer of Death, which was then followed up by the Hallow's Phantom chiming in with a punch of its own, smashing the knight into the ground as Jin stomped on his neck with a disgusting crunch. Despite being sealed away, the Bringer of Death still heard a wince of pain and regret emitting from the Paragon of Virtue. Jin quickly followed up by dashing over to a second knight, delivering another knee to the gut, before finally removing a hand from his pocket, calling a Cor Comedenti to boost his physical prowess as he launched the knight skyward.
"Oh, an alley-oop, is it? Very well, I suppose I'd best oblige the boss for once." The Hallow's Phantom grew in size quickly, quickly catching up to the rising Knight before once again delivering a two-handed fist smash to the knight, spiking him deep into the earth head-first. His legs twitched for a moment before going still. By this time, the remaining six had regained full use of their unhindered sight, as they stared at the destruction caused in the brief moments they were blinded. "Aaaaallllllriiighhhty then, whoooooooo's next?"
Three more of the Knights dashed forwards, intent on defeating the Bringer of Death and his Projection. He powered up a Umbra Refrenatem once more, placing his hand back into his pocket. One of the Knights stabbed with his spear, with Jin easily able to backflip out of the way. The other two came in a pincer formation, both slashing with their swords and both missing as the Bringer of Death ducked. As the one that came from his left flew by, Jin delivered a quick knee into her gut, sending her tumbling to the ground. The other sword user swung his sword at Jin, only to have his blade caught in the air once more.
"Ara ara, I would've thought that the police would be a liiiiiiitle bit more...I dunno....competent, I guess? Ah well, no matter. You already saw what happened to the last guy who tried ta stab me, so let's just cut to the chase." The Hallow's Phantom placed his other hand on the head of the Knight and squeezed tight, crushing him as he tumbled to the ground. The spear user now dashed forwards once more, Jin sidestepping out of the way as he delivered a swift and decisive knee to the spearman's crotch. The other sword user had sprung up almost at the same time as the spearman tumbled down, rushing forwards.
"Honestly, I don't like killing women as much as men, but...I suppose I really have no choice in the matter, do I? My job certainly is a tough one." He sighed, removing both hands from his pockets. "Least I could do is give you a respectable death. One at the hands of magic and not at the hands of...well...Hallow's hands." Jin clapped his hands together, calling out Sang Brulant. A wreath of flames emitted from his body, engulfing both of the remaining Knights that had come forth to challenge him. He then once more sent forth a Skoteina Dorata, piercing the swordswoman as she tumbled to the ground. He turned to face the remaining three Knights as the spearman screamed out in pain. "Szjgard, I promised I would kill you last. If you would kindly step aside so I don't accidentally kill you before your cohorts."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Szjgard did not listen, with him and his fellow companions both rushing towards the Bringer of Death simultaneously. "You would do best to, you know, not disobey the master's orders, Mister Alphabet Soup. I'm guessing the boss wants to leave you for himself, so...I guess I'll hold back on my super special ultra secret attack of doom: Scarlet Moon!"
The Hallow's Phantom's eyes glowed a bright red before lasers fired out from them, piercing the hearts of the two non-Szjgard Knights, and piercing through Szjgard's legs. Jin then slowly walked up to Szjgard, hands slowly returning to his pockets. "You really should have listened to me, let along my Phantom here. Oh well, guess you had to learn the hard way. Goodbye, Szjgard."
As Jin was about to stomp on the head of his newly-acquainted foe, he spun on his heel, quickly casting up a Den Oskyldiga Beskydarren, which quickly clashed with a flurry of icy arrows. Jin stared down at his new foe, and almost comically tall and stocky man with his hands prepared for Ice-Make magic. "Leave, soldier. I will handle this cretin!" he announced with a voice that seemed almost impossibly stereotypical for a hero archetype.
Jin smiled once again beneath his mask. "Finally, someone with magic. Surprised you sicced the weaklings on your assassin first instead of going with the big guns. Could've saved nine of your folks." Jin gritted his teeth. "Instead, we have you selfish sorts of people. You high-and-mighty Knights who have no regard for their comrades. I won't lie, I don't give a damn about my own comrades, but I'm at least upfront about that. Instead, you betray your people by letting the weak die while the strong leech off the suffering of their subordinates. No matter what way you cut it, you're pathetic, all you council-abiding lot. Following your weakling rules to a 'T' and punishing those who don't follow your corrupt orders."
"I'm supposing you're a member of a guild, villain. Which guild? I would wish to know so I may sic the best that we have to offer to you and show you how strong the Rune Knights truly are!"
"As if I would tell you. If you can figure it out on your own, I will confirm it. All I can say is that I care not for the council. Keep your rules, I have my own, and damned if I won't follow the beat of my own drum."
The would-be hero fired off more ice-make arrows towards Jin, who blocked them with yet another Den Oskyldiga Beskydarren. He sprinted out towards the hero, activating one more Umbra Refrenatem to reach him quicker. He was upon the hero within moments, delivering a kick that was immediately blocked by the arm of his muscular adversary. Jin knew that if he was in close-quarter combat with a wizard that he would eventually win because of the power of his Phantom. Even if Jin himself was still not the greatest in that sort of combat, and the hero seemed to be in much better physical shape, he could easily win a war of attrition. He sprung back, activating a Gwarcodwr Meddwyl to strengthen his ability to ward off magical attacks. Almost as if on cue, the hero fired an ice-make sawblade which struck Jin, sending him tumbling to the ground. Jin kipped up to his feet, dashing back into combat with the hero. The Hallow's Phantom fired off yet another Scarlet Moon, which the hero deflected aside with a hastily-made shield of ice. Jin delivered a swift kick to the almost unsurprisingly square jaw of the hero as he was on his knee to raise his shield. Jin feinted a punch with his right hand, which the hero followed with his arms, to which the Hallow's Phantom responded with a left-handed punch of its own to the side of the hero's head. He crashed into the Rune Knights headquarters, after which many civilians scattered, their hiding place now discovered. The mage slowly got to his feet, casting an ice-make floor, which Jin slowly accepted as it captured his legs. The Hallow's Phantom fired off yet another Scarlet Moon, one beam going towards the hero, who blocked it with ease, while another beam shattered the floor. Jin then turned his focus off of his Aspect of the Maw of Shadow, letting himself take a balanced approach to combat. He prepared a Calon Ac Enaid, before launching out a Skoteina Dorata to coincide with his Hallow's Phantom's third firing of a scarlet moon. The magic-wielding knight merely had a look of resignation on his face as the spells crashed against the headquarters, which crumbled under the weight.
As the dust cleared, Jin placed his hands into his pockets once more, approaching the rubble of the formerly-newly-built Rune Knight headquarters. The hero's head stuck out from beneath the rubble, as he coughed, weak of breath. "Let me admit something to you, Ice-Maker. Aside from my Hallow's Phantom, I have another voice in my head - another me. As much as I hate to do it, he's begging that I spare your life like I did with your subordinate. So, I'll do so. Of course, I fully expect you to become a rival in time, so I would ask your name."
Jin smiled beneath his mask. "Very well, Pendragon. I will not help you out of this rubble, so if you happen to die, crushed under the weight of the Rune Knights, so be it. However, I will not kill you now. I hate mercy, but my other self believes that you would be an amusing foe. I can tell by your mannerisms, your appearance, even your magic and your occupation that you have an obsession with justice and bringing the evil to shame. I am Death Incarnate, you see. I am known as the Bringer of Death, and as that moniker implies, I bring the everlasting rest to those who I deem unworthy of life. So I suppose, Pendragon, dear adversary, that I owe you a prompt. Namely, who is worthy of life? Is your sense of justice more valid than my sense of retribution? Perhaps it will take time to find out. I expect that you will hear from me again, Pendragon."
With that, Jin began to leave the town, Pendragon's allies hastily attempting to remove him from the rubble. Szjgard had escaped somewhere by this time, but the Bringer of Death was oddly fine with it. I know you hate mercy, but it's fun. It can give you a more villainous persona, if you have all these rivals and heroes wanting to destroy you.
That said, it can also serve as a benchmark to see how good you are getting at killing people.
Or just combat in general. Don't gotta just kill everyone all the time.
The three persons in the body of Jin Auri-el continued their bickering as they sneaked their way back to Silver Wolf, ensuring no one was aware of his allegiance to the guild.