Volume 2: Chapter 147 – Departure
|Possessed Skills||Ruler of the Demon Children of Chaos; Defiant Soul; World Devouring Howl; Sword Mastery A-; Dominator; King’s Soul; Ruler’s Wisdom III; Household of the Gods; One-Eyed Snake’s Evil Eye; The King's Dance at the Edge of Death; Magic Manipulation; Soul of the Berserk King; Third Impact (The Third Chant); Warrior's Instinct; Blessing of the Underworld Goddess; Guided One|
|Divine Protection||Goddess of the Underworld (The goddess)|
|Subordinate Beasts||High Kobold Hasu (Lv77); Gastra (Lv20); Cynthia (Lv1); Orc King (Bui) (Lv82)|
|Abnormal Status||Blessing of the One-Eyed Snake; Protection of the Twin-Headed Snake|
Within the country of the ‘holy knights’, only seven have reached the apex.
Every single one of these seven had their own peculiarities, but they were all strong enough that they couldn’t ignore one another.
The Knight of Destruction, Zelkov; The Iron-armed Knight, Gowen; the Knight of Storms, Gulland; the Twin-Swords Knight, Vald; the Ripper Knight, Sivara; the Sharp-Eyed knight, Jize; and the late Lightning-Fast Knight, Gene Marlon.
A mad man loved by the gods, an old veteran used to war, a peak existence among adventurers, a traveler from the east… Their origin and purpose were as varied as their personalities, but there was one thing they had in common, they held the peace of the country in their hands.
On their back, they carried the soldiers they led and the countless citizens that they protected.
Of course, they knew this fact well, and it was because of that that King Ashtal named them holy knight and gave them honor and wealth befitting that of the kingdom’s guardians.
“…I don’t like it.”
Gulland’s animal-like instincts were tingling.
He didn’t know why, but for some reason, that merchant that was bothering Reshia was nowhere to be seen.
As Gulland left his seat, he left the ballroom and went outside, to walk under the tranquil sky of the night god lit by the red light of the moonlight goddess.
Sounds of the feast grew more and more distant as he walked, then he heard something.
That something drew Gulland’s attention.
It was the sound of grass being grazed; the sound of a person’s voice being forcefully stifled. For someone like Gulland who was used to the quiet of the snowy battlefield, the castle was irritatingly noisy.
His ears honed by combat, Gulland walked toward the source of that sound.
“Oh, how cruel my dear saint, how cruel… How could you hurt this one’s fragile heart?” That annoying merchant from awhile ago said with ragged breath as he approached Reshia, who was currently being held by a man covered in black, the merchant’s escort perhaps.
The man in black noticed Gulland’s footsteps, but the merchant was oblivious.
The merchant extended his hands toward Reshia, caressing her slender cheeks that were as smooth as clay.
“Ahh… Ahh…” The man moaned.
As his hands caressed Reshia’s cheeks like a slug, desire took him, and he jumped to embrace her, but—
“That’s enough, scum,” a voice suddenly resounded from behind him, causing him to freeze in his tracks.
When he turned around, his eyes almost fell out of their sockets when he saw Gulland standing behind him with his arms folded.
“K-K-K-Kill him! Sigmund!” The merchant commanded.
The black guard immediately threw Reshia away and drew his dagger.
As Reshia fell to the ground, unconscious, Gulland snapped his tongue.
“What an unnecessary mess I’ve found myself in.”
As Gulland muttered to himself, the black guard swung his blade at Gulland’s throat.
“Hmph,” Gulland haughtily said as he dodged the black guard’s sword by a hair’s breadth.
At the same time, he caught the black guard’s arms, keeping him from moving.
“Weak,” Gulland said.
With no room to run, Gulland’s fist descended freely on the man.
There wasn’t even a sign that Gulland was about to make a move. He just swung his fist like a beast attacking its prey, sending the black guard flying into a wall.
With no way out, the black guard reached for his own armor.
“What are you…” Gulland asked when the black guard suddenly threw his armor at him, causing his vision to move away from the black guard for a moment.
When he looked for the black guard again, all traces of him were gone.
“He ran…” Gulland muttered, then he turned to the merchant.
“E-Eeek…” The merchant cried as Gulland’s eyes bore into him.
Gulland knocked the merchant out, then he carried both him and Reshia.
“…What a pain,” Gulland complained.
“GAU, GUUUU!” Gastra barked when Gulland entered Reshia’s room, but Gulland ignored him and left Reshia on her bed before leaving.
“…Lord Holy Knight, huh,” Gulland said as he became unnecessarily sentimental, then he closed the door behind him and sat in front of it.
He didn’t feel like returning to the feast, so he figured he might as well wait here in the silence of the night god.
Gulland closed his eyes.
Gi Ji Arsil’s report had finally arrived.
The walls of the human fortress ran 10km long. It was so long, I couldn’t help but wonder from where and how they managed to procure all that stone in such a short time, but even more surprising was the height of the walls.
The walls were over 3 meters tall. Moreover, people could walk atop it.
That meant that the walls weren’t just long and high, they were also thick.
It should be safe to assume that the castle walls are arranged in a circle. As for what’s inside, it’s probably either defensive facilities or a town.
According to the report, there were also things similar to shields placed near the exit leading to the human territory.
They are probably meant to obstruct one’s vision and stop an attack, but that’s something to think about another time. Right now, I should focus my attention on the human fortress.
The humans have gone far and beyond my expectations.
Walls 3 meters high coupled with several defensive facilities. Attacking the human fortress does not seem like an easy task.
Beyond the forest is a flat land. There might be a hill or two out there, but there shouldn’t be anything taller than the human fortress.
“A shield thrust before us, huh.”
Should we capture it despite the cost? Or should we just ignore it?
To begin with, my goal isn’t to capture the fortress but to defeat the human kingdom.
The human villages shouldn’t all be that big.
“Shumea, there’s something I want to ask,” I said.
Shumea has been training with Felbi ever since recovering.
“Hmm? About the human villages?” She asked, puzzled.
“Gi Ji’s report came in just awhile ago. Apparently, there’s a large fortress right in front of the fortress.”
“That’s probably a colonial city,” Shumea said.
Oh? It seems to be famous.
Things finally made sense after listening to Shumea’s explanation. It seems these so-called ‘colonial cities’ are bases the humans build to begin an invasion. With it working with the city behind it, it is certainly a threat.
I thought it was a shield, but it turns out, it’s actually a spear meant to drag us into a war of attrition.
It would be great if the humans could fight among themselves, but that’s obviously too much to hope for. After all, they’re all united as one race fighting against monsters.
Not to mention, the person leading them is that general. I can’t expect them to make much mistakes.
In that case…
We’ll have no choice but to take them by surprise from behind.
We have to use something unexpected, something they haven’t thought of, a method beyond their wildest imagination…
…Unfortunately, nothing really comes to mind. The blessing of the goddess of wisdom isn’t something that comes just because one wants it. Well, I’ll just take my time.
I’ll have to pull out that card to gather information and steal a march on them.
“Shumea,” I called out.
“What is it, Boss?” She asked.
“Do you want to go out of the forest?” I asked.
Shumea looked at me with a shocked face, then she made a difficult face and said, “please don’t ask difficult questions.”
“It’s not really difficult, though. Do you want to go or not?”
“You sure make it sound simple, Boss. I hope you haven’t forgotten that I’m a slave.”
“Former slave,” I corrected.
Shumea scratched her head. “Well, yeah, but… Damn it! Honestly, I really want to go out! But, it’s just… you know… kinda scary?”
At first, excited, then meek as a lamb. Even Shumea seemed embarrassed at how cowardly she was acting, as a blush could be seen on her cheeks.
According to her, slaves who have lost their master will become the slave of whoever catches them, so we’ll have to do something about her identity as a slave.
“It should be fine as long as we give you a new master,” I said.
“W-Wait a moment, Boss. Goblins are no good,” she said.
Naturally, but at least, she’s catching on. Good, that will make this quick.
“Obviously, especially since the master himself will also need some identification,” I said.
“Well, yeah, but do you have someone like that?” She asked.
“Yes, the only question is whether that person will agree or not. And even if that person does agree, the fortress probably won’t rest easy knowing who it is we’re placing our hopes on. But after that, everything will hinge on you,” I said.
“I owe you a lot, Boss, so don’t worry. You can definitely count on me,” Shumea said as she laughed.
Now, all that’s left is to pick out the master.
After sending a messenger to her, she finally appeared before me.
“Are you serious?” She asked.
Yes, it was none other than Pale Symphoria. The green light reflecting from the trees of the forest illuminated her and Selena as they looked at me.
When it came to healing secret medicines, being bathed in light was quite effective.
“Yes,” I nodded.
Pale became quiet.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts. She wasn’t like Gi Ga and the others who have sworn fealty to me. She also wasn’t someone like Shumea who couldn’t betray me because of her circumstances.
The demihumans and the elves might both be our allies in this war against the humans, but their positions were vastly different from each other.
“I don’t understand… You are not a fool. Surely, you must realize that I will betray you,” Pale said, startling Selena.
Having that said straight to my face, I couldn’t help but wryly smile.
“The elves won’t be enough to fetter me,” she said.
“I figured that would be the case,” I said.
“Then why?” She asked suddenly, and I honestly replied.
“Do you think what you know can hurt us?” I asked.
“Humans can have a broader outlook because of the knowledge they possess. It is, therefore, a king’s duty to give one the opportunity to ascertain the truth,” I said.
Puzzled, Pale asked. “Are you saying you’re giving me time and opportunity?”
This woman, Pale Symphoria, wasn’t someone who would turn to my side so easily, but after coming here to this fortress, she has started to change. After all, she has seen our way of life. That alone is enough to change the one truth she has held all this time… We are not monsters.
I’d love to know what she thought when she realized that, but while it probably wasn’t at Felbi’s level, it must have still caused a world-shaking change of her perspective.
I’m going to use this as an opportunity to pull this genius into my army.
“Confident, aren’t we?” She said.
I smiled back.
It’s a risky gamble, but I can’t just wait for her feelings to change naturally.
Pale, I don’t know if you truly haven’t noticed it or are simply feigning ignorance, but…
When you fought me in the battlefield back then, you were smiling.
You’re happiest when leading an army in a battle of life and death.
I don’t know if it’s hunting monsters that you find fun or having power in your grasp, but regardless, I have chosen you.
“Of course, if you refuse, there’s nothing I can do,” I said.
“Please let me think a bit,” Pale said.
Selena looked at her with a tinge of displeasure.
The next day, Pale agreed. Selena would be coming with her and she also recommended Felbi to act as an interim between Shumea and me.
Like this, the party of three elves and one human set out into the world of humans.
That was a memory of the time when he still believed in the illusion called happiness.
A memory tinged with the red of blood and shame, and remorse for icing.
No matter how hard he cried or flailed his arms, that was a memory in the past he could never reach.
The village he lived in was a small village.
It was a village of 100 people surrounded by a fence that kept the monsters away. It was a small peaceful village where everyone knew each other.
Life as an adventurer had its risks, but it paid well, allowing him to have a small fortune.
He had a fiancée. He had a mother, who though old, was cheeky. He had a cute younger sister.
Though he wasn’t rich, he was happy.
But one day, that happiness was destroyed.
A horde of monsters attacked his village.
As a young man, he flailed his arms and mustered every little bit of strength he could, but struggle as he tried, in the end, the monsters broke through and killed the men who fought.
As for the women, they were—
He stretched out his hand, but his blood-stained hands couldn’t reach them…
Suddenly, his consciousness became detached… Detached from that dream he’s seen countless times.
The sun of the fragrant spring shone on him, bringing him into a warm embrace that lulled him into a deep slumber.
In that deep slumber, there were no nightmares.
When the sun’s rays fell on his closed eyelids, he finally woke up.
He clicked his tongue upon realizing that he had fallen asleep, then when he saw a blanket on him, he became confused.
The door to the spire had already been opened, the insides empty like that of a snake’s shed skin.
Picking himself up, he went to the terrace of the castle and looked down on the city.
Crowds had gathered to wish the saint farewell.
“Saint, huh? What a load of bull,” he spat, then he left to prepare for his return to the north.
He would not waver because of something like this. He was a holy knight, an existence who slayed monsters and protected the people.
It was just that his eyes couldn’t help but follow after the saint’s leaving figure.
The crowds showered her with cheers, and just a little, she tried to wave back.
A cheap hair-clip could be seen attached firmly on her hair, but no one except for some boys by the corner of a street, noticed it.
163 days until the battle with the humans.