Stride Vollachia (ストライド・ヴォラキア) was Wilhelm's mortal enemy when he was younger. Though not making an appearance in the main story, Stride played a prominent antagonistic role in 2nd and 3rd novels from Wilhelm's prequel trilogy, four decades before the start of the main story. Right before his death, Stride revealed himself to be the Witch Cult's Sin Archbishop of Pride.
In the months following the end of the Demi-Human War, Stride kicked off his destructive rampages across the Kingdom of Lugnica, causing irreparable damage. Roughly 3-4 months after his initial appearance, Stride summoned the Black Dragon in one of the five regional cities known as Picoutatte, slaughtering hundreds of innocents and indirectly causing the death of Roswaal J Mathers–starting the incident that would come to be known as one of the worst days the Kingdom has ever experienced. After finally getting defeated, he and his wife Melinda, were eaten alive by the same Dragon that Stride had previously summoned.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
From a mere glance, Stride Vollachia could easily be recognized as a man of status of around thirty years of age. His features, which helped distinguished his importance, were uncommonly sharp and noble. He had long, rich deep-purple hair that had a silky look to it and reached past his shoulders. His slim body had, ever since his youth, been riddled by illness that made even the simplest of physical activities grueling for the Wolf of the Empire. His voice betrayed his imperialism and thus also his connection to the meritocratic Empire of Vollachia.
In reflection of his physical appearance and noble carriage, Stride wore clothing of princely refinement. His outfit, that was primarily black, consisted of black trousers, black shoes, a light grey shirt, a black cravat, a white waistcoat over the shirt, and a black long coat over the waistcoat that had notched lapels and rolled cuffs. Some of his clothing had purple lining that matched the color of Stride's hair. On his left shoulder, Stride had a large black feathery decoration. On each of his ten digits, Stride wore a magical ring that he could use to afflict curses on his enemies.
Personality[edit | edit source]
As the Sin Archbishop of Pride, Stride was vain and prideful, disliking being told what to do by others, as shown when he rebuked Yaktol Suwen for trying to restrict his actions, and later did the same to Kurgan for talking back to him. He was openly rude to those he viewed to be lower than himself and Theresia noted that he fluently insulted others. He seemed to underestimate fighters that aren't well known, as when Wilhelm and Kurgan first fought, he didn't think the former would stand a chance.
Despite this, he was a quick thinker, and praised things he found to be satisfactory. He was willing to ignore formalities to stop Wilhelm and Kurgan's first duel in order to prevent himself from potentially losing a valuable pawn. He plotted against the Kingdom of Lugnica knowing full well the power of Volcanica's protection, earning him his alias.
He was also of high status to be able to have Kurgan as his bodyguard, however the Vollachia Empire claimed that he didn't exist. He was later revealed to be the Sin Archbishop of Pride, though he didn't have any faith in the Witch of Envy.
Stride spoke in a very archaic, regal and scornful manner. He favored using the pronoun mine venerable self (余 yo) when speaking, which is a pronoun used only by kings or emperors. He also referred to people using thou (貴様, kisama) with it having connotations of Stride treating everyone he spoke to as an inferior.
History[edit | edit source]
Stride Vollachia was born as one of the sons of the Emperor. However, he was born sick, and his family quickly proposed to offer the renunciation of his inheritance rights to another family, exchanging him for a suitable recompense. On the surface, Stride was sent to train under the strongest warrior in Vollachia–Kurgan, in order to improve his strength in mind and body, however, he was fully expected to die under Kurgan's harsh training regime. Luckily for Stride, though, Kurgan grew strangely attached to the bottomless evil that was cultivating inside of the young boy's eyes, quickly taking a liking to Stride. After reaching adulthood under Kurgan's supervision, Stride participated in the Imperial Selection Ceremony, killing his siblings and getting closer and closer to the throne. However, due to a certain fever he had suffered in his past, Stride was unable to reproduce. Due to being incapable of accomplishing one of the primary tasks as the Vollachian Emperor, Stride was forced to back down. Shortly after, his own father poisoned Stride with a powerful poison, which caused Stride to drift between life and death for three arduous and agonising months. The illness utterly destroyed him, to the point he more resembled a walking corpse, than a man. However, his eyes shone with newly-found determination–as he had found the very truth of the world, in the midst of his battle for life. On that day, Stride started to believe in a delusion; That there were entities called "observers" who sit in the heavens, toying with everyone as if they were mere pieces upon a board.
Stride later recruited the Twin Shura–Shasuke and Raizo, after their home village was burned to ash, due to the fear of the Shinobi Clan growing too powerful for the nobles to contain them. Not long after, he met his future wife, Ashen Bride–Melinda, the sole survivor of the Evil Eye Tribe, erased from existence due to their ability to see then unseen with their Evil Eyes.
Years later, he joined the Witch Cult and received his gospel.
Roughly four decades before the story, Stride started his rampage across the Kingdom of Lugnica, originally by making his appearance in one of the five regional capitals of the Kingdom–Picoutatte, where he arranged a duel between the Eight-Arms Kurgan and Sword Demon Wilhelm van Astrea. After cutting the duel short, he escaped along with his Vollachian champion. In the following months, he conducting a series of attacks, targeting seemingly random locations across the Kingdom, such as the Astrea and McMahon Manors, killing many. Roughly eight months into Theresia's pregnancy, Stride delivered a swift blow to the Astrea family by killing Theresia's father–Veltol Astrea–by cursing Carol Remendis into doing his every bidding. Carol kidnapped Theresia and Stride took both back to where it all began–Picoutatte. There, Stride situated himself in the city's main tower and begun collecting twenty innocent civilians who were blessed with a Divine Protection. After collecting all twenty sacrifices, he ordered Carol to kill them with a "sacrificial dagger", which drunk the blood of the fallen civilians. This later allowed Stride to summon the Black Dragon Valgren and try to control him with his Ten Cursed Meteor Rings. He used his wife Melinda's Evil Eye to cause great unrest among the citizens, prompting the masses to charge towards the incoming Subjugation Force, pinning them down, allowing one of the Shinobi–Raizo– and Kurgan to attack the Kingdom's knights. Before he could successfully subdue the Dragon, however, he was confronted by Roswaal J Mathers and Grimm Fauzen who were summoned to him by the other Shinobi. After an arduous battle with Carol (who was still under Stride's curse) and Shasuke–one of Stride's Shinobi, Grimm prevailed but at the cost of Roswaal's life. After forcing to defend himself from Grimm's attack by summoning Yang Sword Vollachia and cutting off his left arm due to the backlash from the sword, Stride revealed yet another secret to his foes–his affiliation with the abhorrent Witch Cult, as the Sin Archbishop charged with Pride. Due to his left arm being scorched to nothingness and five of his Ten Cursed Meteor Rings being destroyed, however, Valgren regained his senses and promptly attacked the four people on the top of the tower. Barely being saved by Shasuke, Stride–carried by his Shinobi–jumped in the air, but was intercepted by Carol, who was very skilled in aerial combat. A duel between her and the Shinobi followed, resulting in Carol bisecting Shasuke, leaving Stride unprotected. Realizing he had lost, Stride fell off of the Dragon's back, towards the streets of the city below. Before he could hit the ground, however, the Black Dragon sprung towards him. Just before he could swallow the Sin Archbishop, Melinda–utterly burnt due to being scorched by one of Valgren's previous attacks–lunged towards Stride, embracing him. Seconds after, the two were torn to pieces by the Black Dragon, effectively marking the end of both Stride Vollachia and Melinda.
Abilities[edit | edit source]
Authority of Pride (傲慢の権能 Gouman no Ken'nō): Stride may possibly have been able to use the Authority of Pride as the Witch Cult's Sin Archbishop of Pride, though no concrete examples of him doing so exist.
- Yang Sword Vollachia (陽剣ヴォラキア Youken Vorakia): As a member of the royal family, Stride was able to create an ornate crimson sword from light just like Vincent Vollachia. However, shortly after materialising the blade, Stride's left arm began to burn, prompting him to cut it off in order to save his life.
- Stride wore Ten Curse Rings, five on each hand, which he used to cast curses on people and control their actions, rendering them his puppets who would carry out his biddings. Some examples of the curses' effects include targets obeying each of his commands, being able to asphyxiate someone from a distance when their loved one touches them, shatter their personality rendering them completely unable to interact with other people, and hold their lives hostage. If Stride deemed it necessary, he would resort to a special technique–with the rings, he would draw out the very limits of his puppet's potential. Naturally, that proved to be an immense toll to the body, usually resulting in their deaths. The rings were so powerful that they even allowed Stride to bind a dragon to his will, despite the creatures being among the most prideful beings that have ever lived. However, in order for Stride to use the rings' power, he had to pay a toll, in form of offering a part of his body to the rings. By doing that, he was able to harness the power and unrestrainedly cast curses, however, a part of his body would be utterly destroyed. In his years of owning the Ten Curse Rings and casting curses with them, Stride's body was rendered to a near corpse-like state.
- The ring on his little finger was red and was known as the Scarlet Little Finger (朱色の小指 Akeiro no Koyubi), which was capable of casting a curse that rotted the target's limbs, eventually leading to death. He used the ring to hold Veltol's life hostage.
- Witch Cult Gospel: As a member of the Witch Cult, Stride was the owner of a copy of the Witch Cult Gospel. Each Witch Cult Gospel was a replica of the Book of Wisdom, a book that had been in the possession of the Witch of Greed Echidna. The Book of Wisdom would provide exact details of future events concerning the Witch of Greed, essentially bestowing Echidna with a form of precognition. Unlike the original Book of Wisdom, the Gospels of the Witch Cult were imperfect replicas, meaning that, although they detailed the future of its owner, the events conveyed were subject to change and the information provided was often up for interpretation. The Gospels took the form of small black books that could only be read by their owners.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Aside from the Witch of Envy, Stride Vollachia is the only individual to supposedly possess a Witch Factor who isn't named after a celestial body.
- Throughout real world history, many societies and cultures revered the color purple as something that denoted royalty and refinement. In fact, in some societies, it was forbidden for ordinary citizens to wear the color. The use of the color purple in Stride's design is therefore likely meant to highlight him as someone of nobility and high standing.
References[edit | edit source]
- "Each ring causes everlasting damage to a part of your body. That’s how they work." Sword Demon Battle Ballad Act 7: Part 3.
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