White Knights

Most days in The Backrooms are normal. Or at least, as normal as they could possibly get - not like they were normal in the first place, you'd just get used to it at some point down the line. On such 'normal' days, she'd normally be assigned to ham-fistedly document the run-of-the-mill building level, or interview some entity which she thought was hardly even befitting her time. She always thought she could do better were she to be trusted with something special, something that she could do justice, but alas, novelty in the ranks of archivists did not do her justice. She could only do normal things instead. The fault was ultimately her own however, for she ought to have enlisted with The Archivists much earlier than she had if she wanted something that wasn't normal. It's what her mother used to warn her about back home, and even after all those years, she still hadn't learnt. This thought was amusing to her.

Today, however - despite her previous shortcomings - was the dawn of a new era in her career. Today was the day when Apprentice Researcher three, Rebecca Patelliday, group eleven of the M.E.G.'s pupil archivists program, was assigned something big. Big enough to change what everyone thought of her, big enough to officialize her status and begin the trek down the path for roles that were bigger. Jobs that were more important. A title that was dignified of her person. Today was the day when she would do something utterly devoid of any quality which could be denoted as normal.

Currently, she stands in a well-kept study. Several books are held on bookshelves in front of her, and the enormous pane window between the furniture shows a view of an outside world gone awry. The surfaces of the room are polished, and the ground is clean, with no dust sticking onto her feet when she made her way to the equally clean chair she was sitting on. The only peculiar quality of the room is the vast array of weapons and battle trophies that are hung on the wall. Most of them are swords, some of which she can recognize. A bilao, a distinctly curved khopesh, a cutlass, a gleaming trisula. She had a collection of swords in her apartment back in The Frontrooms which she was fond of. The rest were alien to her, and so were the other relics and weapons hung there.

Opposite to her, behind an oak desk, sits a man, clad entirely in sheets of a set of white, gimcrack armour, save for his head, which is exposed. He holds the helmet in one hand, and a glass of hot coffee in the other. Just like his tatty armour, the man seems to be worn out, weary, as if he too is a part of the armour, which seems to have had a long, long history. His frail, brown hair seemed to have had the life sucked out of it, the last tufts clinging on by sheer desperation. His stubble is cut unevenly in places, his skin grimy, scarred, a large mosaic of battles long-past. One of his eyes has a milky white colouration, most probably blind in it. Looking closer at his neck, she swears he has bandages wrapped around his adam's apple. Yet, he possesses a peculiar quality that make him handsome, even with his grim, gaunt appearance. He is like a defiant rebel in contrast with the well-kept, orderly room.

His armour follows suite to the man it protects. Faint scratches, scorch marks, dents, and god knows what else, are all displayed on his armour proudly, like medals on the chest of a general. Despite this, the armour is nothing grandiose - less like the armours she was used to seeing displayed in museums, with all those intricate designs she loathed so much, and more like an armour made solely for the purpose of protection as opposed to showing off. Something about it felt more genuine, more human. As she studied the armour, taking it in as she repeatedly clicked the ball-point pen, she decided right there and then that the adjective most befitting of the armour, or rather, the man behind the armour, was honesty.

"Dear Archivist, I wish not to interrupt… whatever it is you are doing, but I believe it was you who requested to speak to me?"

His question makes her freeze, as she realizes she'd been staring at him this whole time. She puts away the pen in embarrassment, before taking it back out as she realizes she needs something to write with.

"Sincerest apologies, I was- er, observing. Do you guys just… clean this place, regularly? Everything seems so clean, it's not what I was expecting when they told me this place was an errant camp,"

He raises one of his arched eyebrows. "What makes you think we wouldn't take care of our abode?"

"I'm… not quite sure? I guess it's more the word 'camp' than it is the word 'errant'. I was imagining… well…"

"Camps. You were expecting camps with tents, yes?"

Her cheeks take on a slightly reddish hue. She is flustered, embarrassed at her naivety. "I suppose? I'm not used to to any other types. I'm fairly new to examining outposts and… I'm deviating. I'm here to interview you, I should actually get to that,"

He nods, slowly and stiffly. He does not seem impressed so far, but he does not seem mad either. Just wholly bored. "You may go forth with your queries… I believe I haven't asked for your name yet?"

"Rebecca. Rebecca Patelliday, but just call me Rebecca. Reb. Or whatever really, I don't mind."

"Rebecca, then," he says, taking one big gulp from his cup, setting it on the table. There is a simple cat painted on it with permanent marker, a sight that seemed absurd considering who was holding it. "For posterity, my name is Sir Oliver, and I am the currently appointed… 'leader' of the Knight Errants."

"You say leader as if you're unsure of the title. Is there a reason why?"

"I lead forty-seven other Errants, I spearhead them in combat against our adversaries, I coordinate our movements and our strategies to ensure that we can work as efficiently as possible - by all means, I am a bona fide leader if we are going by traditional terms. I am not, however, a leader by name, as we do not work under a hierarchy. We are - and I hope you shall excuse the cliché expression - somewhat like a family."

"A family," says Rebecca, untidily scrawling a few notes down on her paper. "How well would you say you know the other White Knights?"

"Knight Errants," he corrected her. "Not White Knights, though I quite like that term. I digress - to answer your question, I ask you to refer to what I said earlier, that is, we are a family. Part of being an Errant is being acclimatized to your brethren. We know each other not by name, but by soul as well."

"Right, so sticking together is pretty important for you guys, right?"

"Most definitely. Brotherhood and amicability with one another is what binds us together against the fracas against the menace we have sworn an oath to vanquish once and for all."

"And this menace you speak of is?…" Rebecca says inquisitively, curiosity peaked as she taps her pen on the clipboard. She's getting to the interesting bits now.

He leans in towards her, as if telling her a secret. "Have you ever heard of The Black Knights?"

"The Black… it rings a bell. The name isn't alien to me, but… the thought eludes me right now. Could you give me an overview, maybe? So I can rejuvenate my memory, I mean, if that's not much of a hassle, y'know."

"Of course," he says, leaning back into his chair. "The Black Knights are, to put it simply, a threat that lies in the shadows. Even those of us who live to combat them know none of the specifics to their absurdly complicated modus operandi. The common consensus is that we know no better than your supervisors do."

He drinks from his cup once more, finishing it and setting it on the table with immaculate care not to make a single noise. "What we do know is that they are not 'knights' in the traditional sense. They serve under a monarch, so they should be knights, but that monarch serves under an ulterior presence we know nothing of, meaning they are more of an army than they are knights. What they fight for we know not either — to put it simply, they elude is in every way."

"Hold on, hold on, you mentioned a… monarch? Like, a leader, right?"

"A monarch is, by definition, a leader no matter what one does to shift the definition. I believe what you wish to ask is 'what is a monarch', yes?"

From any other person, this behaviour she would have considered pompous and presumptuous. But from him, it seemed patient, understanding. He was not trying to tutor her with the haughty air of a doyen, but he was speaking to her on an equal level. There is no distinction here between him and her, despite the outlandish situation.

"Yes," she says, almost stumbling on her words. "Excuse my… stunted delivery. Could you explain to me what a monarch is?"

"Within the cohorts of the knights, the monarch is what a general is to his troops. A monarch leads his army against their opponents — whoever those unfortunate souls may be — in combat. We are trained to deal against knights, and that we do to great success. But against a monarch? The battle is fought uphill."

"How powerful are the knights exactly though?"

His expression is clouded with thought as he purses his lips, an addled expression showing itself on his face. "That we are not always sure of. Whilst we know a myriad of their capabilities, it is a list that grows with each encounter. To give you an example, we used to think the knights could only manifest arms of war, that their powers were limited only to an advanced form of combat. Lo and behold, however, we discover that their powers are also viable for demolition, as we have seen them do to buildings they wish to… take care of, for lack of a lighter term,"

Rebecca felt like a light bulb had flicked inside her mind. She faintly remembered something about…

"Runes," she muttered.

"Pardon?" Sir Oliver replied, eyebrows furrowed.

"The knights use runes, at least, if I remember correctly they do. It's ike an alphabet which holds some secret power of sorts is what I heard from some other guys at 11. You probably already know this though, right?"

He nods. "The word 'know' is an understatement here. Observe."

At this, Sir Oliver stood up from his seat, walked towards his sword collection, and grabbed a weathered broadsword from the wall. He began delicately running his hands over the blade from the bottom to the top, feeling for the odd grooves that were etched onto it. Rebecca watched in awe as with one final swipe of his fingers, the runes on the sword glowed a brilliant red, and the sword began to redden, as if exposed to tremendous heat.

"The knights use runes to give attributes to objects as they please," he said to a wide-eyed Rebecca. "Here, I have demonstrated runes giving the blade a sharp increase in temperature. The blade can now cut through anything it pleases like butter."

"That cannot be safe. How does the metal not melt?"

"There's more than one rune on the sword. I could go in detail, but you'd need to understand the runes beforehand."

He sighs as he looks at the sword, examining the runes closely as he puts the sword dangerously close to eye level. "Though, to put it in a simple manner, think of it as altering the code of an object. Some commands can break the whole program, hence why other lines of code are built into the code to prevent faulty programs."

"So you have another code that keeps it from melting?" She says, pen at the ready.


The sounds of the pen hitting the paper on the clipboard reverberate across the small room as Rebecca jots down this information. "And what about turning off the effect of these runes?"

"There are also runes for that,"

He runs his hand on the underside of the sword's cross-guard, and the sword's glow begins to quell itself rapidly. Soon enough, the sword is returned to its previous state, and Sir Oliver places it on the table with impeccable care. "Accoutrements such as this one are hard to smith. The preciseness we are to exhibit when chiseling the runes is, to put it bluntly, painful work. One small mistake could render either the sword ineffective or you dead. But we are exemplars of rune-etching. It has been ages since we have floundered the forging of a single arm in our panoplies."

Sir Oliver hands Rebecca the sword, which she is still cautious of despite his nonchalant attitude. "Look for yourself," he says. "The runes are on the fuller."

Rebecca looks down at the fuller, and as told, runes are etched into the blade in an esoteric fashion she had not seen before. But something about them strikes her as odd.

"These aren't the knights' runes."


"They're- they're not the knights' runes. I'm no expert on the knights, but everyone who's heard of them has, at some point, seen one of their runes. And they don't look like this, the knights' runes are more… linear, if that's the right word. They're made of a bunch of different lines, varying length and whatnot. These look more like different shapes than anything else."

"But they work, no?"

Rebecca thought she has him cornered on this point, but the fallacy in her own logic proved that the tables had turned. "I- yes. They work, but what does… I… don't understand."

Sir Oliver sits down on his chair, reclining in it and stretching, not dissimilar to a cat in mannerisms. "I don't blame you for the confusion, it is information that eludes all of the new knights who join our cohorts," he says, adopting a stiffer position as he gets closer to Rebecca. "The thought behind our runes is an absolute aversion to the culture and folklore of the black knights. Instead of utilising the runes which are intrinsic to the image of the knights, we have crafted our own to replace them, ones that are typical of the right cause. We are not them, so we do not make use of their arms. We have flipped the table, and from the ashes of their defeat, we give life to a new creation, one that codifies hope for a new era."

Rebecca stares at Sir Oliver for a few moments, mystified. She then begins pacing around the room. "So, from what I'm gathering, you guys are sort of… opposites of the knights. You exist solely to contradict them, to improve morally over them— hell, you guys even paint your armour white!"

She stops pacing. "My question is though: what is the significance of this? Why are you so focused on fighting the knights? Why them, of all threats in The Backrooms?"

"They are the enemy."

"But why? Why them specifically? I've heard tales of entire groups formed of inhumane scientists, crazy bird cultists, and whatever those corporate guys are — why the knights?"

Sir Oliver does not retort immediately to this question, and he instead stares at Rebecca for a few moments. She falters slightly, but he raises his hand when she does this, as if to assure her that he is not mad.

"Every threat, no matter how niche, must be dealt with. The knights are a threat, not the biggest, but they are one nonetheless. This is why we exist: in a situation where we are needed, we are the respondents,"

He grabs another weapon from the wall, a busted bayonet with a rusty metal blade near its end. "Knight attacks, whilst not all that frequent, can easily rid the unsuspecting wanderer of his life,"

He thrusts the bayonet to the left, as if practicing against an incorporeal entity. "We are there to find the threat, eliminate it, and escort the victims to safety, which most of the times means our camps."

With one sudden movement, he swipes the bayonet in a wide arch, startling Rebecca, before raising it hight into the air. "This is what makes us heroes in the end. Our cause is chivalrous: we expect very little from those we save from strife. It is only because of our passion towards our code that people are inspired to fight under our moniker."

He puts the bayonet back in place, and turns to Rebecca, grinning. "Our efforts inspire us to continue. To save a life is to have safeguarded beauty, and there is, in the end, nothing more noble than protecting that which is a creation of the cosmos. If the Black Knights are the darkness of this world, then we are their opposite: as you put it, we are White Knights."

Rebecca can't help but smile at the situation. Listening to Sir Oliver speak filled her with a fiery emotion she could not exactly describe. Was it passion for a cause she'd never fought for? Desire for a life she'd never lived? Or was it inspiration to take action in her life and be part of the mission? She decided then and there that it was simply the rousing effects of Sir Oliver's righteous qualities. A man that seemed honest and truthful to his organisation, determined to his cause, and courageous to the ordeal that was the battle against forces beyond his scope.

"I feel this covers everything I needed to ask in terms of basics then," she says. "I may just need to do some small assumptions here and there, but I've got most of it covered."

Sir Oliver nods, arms folded across his chest. "Very well then. I shall send one of my errants to escort you safely out of our territories, back to the city, I assume?"

Rebecca replies with an affirmative grunt, to which he replies with yet another nod. "Should you need something from us, do feel free to come once more. You are always welcome to be among us."

"Thanks. It means a bunch," she says.

Rebecca turns around to leave the room, before she suddenly remembers something.

"Oh, cause I forgot to do it earlier; could I look at the sword again?"

"Most certainly, you can,"

He takes the broadsword off the wall and hands it to Rebecca, who carefully puts it on the table with the same care he had exhibited prior to her handling of the blade. She puts her clipboard next to it and begins copying the runes on it, and before Sir Oliver can tell her to stop, the clipboard and all its contents burst into an intense flame, which surprisingly burns nothing around it. The same cannot be said for the clipboard, the remains of which lie on the desk next to the sword as the pair look at the mess in dismay.

"No!" Rebecca screams, hands on her face in dismay. "My research!"

She slumps down to her knees as Sir Oliver comes next to her, holding her by the shoulder. "I believe you may want to stay here more. I can… perhaps write up something for you?"

She's moved to tears by this point. "I had all my Danganronpa fanfiction there too…"

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