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Volume 4: Chapter 273 – The Iron-Country of Elfa (3/3)
“No, whether it be by hook or by crook, you must be of help to my master,” the messenger said.
This was a girl that could at most only reach his chest even if she were to stand up. Yet those words were spoken with neither hesitation nor fear.
Normally, any messenger who looked up at Rasdir’s great stature would instinctively become afraid, yet here was this girl so brave and fearless before him.
It was a strange sight, but Rasdir was so troubled that he didn’t have the leisure to consider the oddity of this situation. All he wanted right now was to get rid of this irritating messenger from Altigand.
“That’s why I’m thinking! If you care about your master, get the hell out!”
Rasdir stood up to evict the messenger girl, but then the smile on her stiffened. And she looked at him with eyes so opened they seemed to be gazing into the abyss, while the smile on her seemed to crack. In the face of that half-done yet heartbreaking smile, Rasdir’s anger dissipated.
It was then that Rasdir realized that the messenger’s situation was far from normal.
“No, you must be useful to my master.”
In the girl’s hand were magic stones.
She grasped them tightly without a care for herself, and blood began to drip to the floor. As the blood gathered on the floor, they begun to move on their own to draw a circular magic formation.
Then the blood on the floor glowed and pulsed in a squirming manner, and the circular magic formation expanded.
When the magic formation pulsed the strongest, a young, handsome boy appeared. Rasdir did not know what kind of material his armor was forged from, but as someone born from the Iron Country, Rasdir could easily see the brilliance and strength of its material.
But what really amazed him was the splendor around the boy.
There was a dignity around the boy that made him want to kneel right there and then and swear fealty to him.
“You should be the young knight commander of Elfa, Rasdir,” the boy said.
Before Rasdir knew it, he’d already knelt and responded to this boy.
He couldn’t help but question himself what he was doing.
To prostrate himself before a boy he didn’t even know… It was almost like he was a knight swearing fealty.
But despite telling himself that this was not acceptable behavior, his body refused to listen. It was strange. It felt as though his mind and his body had been separated from each other, as though he were in a dream.
Yet even stranger was that it seemed as though even that strange feeling could be transformed into joy. Rasdir waited for the youth’s next words.
“I need someone who can cooperate with me. An ally to help me defeat the demon king approaching from the west and recover the human world.”
The word ‘demon king’ sent a chill through Rasdir.
The enemy’s main force was made up of goblins, so they had looked down on them, but wasn’t it obvious that there was something else lurking there? There were orcs among their ranks too, so perhaps the goblins were nothing more than an advance unit. Perhaps there was something beyond them that existed in the west.
Perhaps that something was the demon king.
If so then this was not the time for humans to be fighting among themselves. Rasdir continued to kneel as he pondered to himself.
“Yes, my lord.”
“Won’t you fight with me to save humanity?”
“Gladly, but… Who are you?”
“I am a hero.”
As the splendor around the youth encroached the mind of the young commander, his last resistances finally broke.
“A hero to save the humans.”
Three days later, during another meeting, the Iron Country of Elfa confirmed the military alliance with Altigand.
And so, Elfa, who named themselves descendants of the great power of Ranserg, turned their blade with great vigor and aimed it at Alrodena.
──The Iron Country of Elfa has ordered its knight commanders to mobilize.
When Elfa gave the order to close the border between it and the former three-country alliance, Sophia frowned and immediately reported to Pale.
“Elfa is responding abnormally fast.”
Pale’s beautiful eyebrows furrowed upon receiving Sophia’s report. It was as though Elfa had suddenly removed itself of any hesitation, and suddenly gave the order to mobilize.
With the exception of the newly established knight order defending the imperial capital, three orders of heavy knights and three orders of light knights have already been deployed by the border. The speed of their response had exceeded Pale’s expectations.
Just a few days ago they were still discussing whether to ally themselves with Altigand or the goblins, or protect their independence. No matter which path they took, the decision should have been chaotic enough to threaten the country splitting, and yet not only did they make a decision, they even chose to relocate the capital.
Elfa’s royal family was moved to the city near the border of Altigand.
This was not a secret and was publicly announced, so the alliance between Altigand and Elfa was already certain.
“Apparently, the new knight commander, Rasdir, persuaded the other knight commanders,” Sophia said.
“…Is that all?” Pale said.
“Yes, there were no other major movements…”
“Thank you. Please continue to gather information.”
After Sophia withdrew, Pale became thoughtful.
In the end, was that really all this was?
The sudden organization of the Order of Wyvern Knights, the annexation of the Oceanic Kingdom Yarma, receiving refugees, the food aid from the archipelago nations. And now, the Iron Country of Elfa and Altigand. Two countries that could not live under the same sky, and yet now, Elfa was about to turn itself into a shield for Altigand.
It was an odd feeling, as though someone had piled up stones to forcefully change the flow of the river.
The information from the spies that infiltrated Altigand say that Altigand’s finances were bound to decline.
Do they intend to conscript the refugees?
Pale herself denied the conclusion she made.
From where would they procure their armor? These were human soldiers too, so they had to be trained, fed, and led by a commander. Strictly speaking, human soldiers were expensive. Moreover, it was doubtful that someone who was a refugee just recently would be able to do the job.
She had been leading Alrodena’s military for so long that she’d started to forget, but soldiers were supposed to be expensive.
They should not be able to match the goblins of Alrodena that have survived many battles.
They shouldn’t be able to, but Pale couldn’t forget that ominous red sky during the War of the Saint.
“Have the humans begun to control the power of the gods?”
Pale has heard from Yoshu of that man that tried to control Reshia at the Ivory Tower.
If so, then the possibility of summoning someone even more influential could not be dismissed.
But even if that were the case, there was no changing the fact that Elfa was standing in Alrodena’s way. Waiting and possibly leaving an opening would only give Altigand more time to prepare.
The essence of invasion was speed.
That truth would never change.
So all that needed to be done was to gather an overwhelming force at Elfa and conquer Elfa in one fell swoop. But if so, then Pale had to play her cards.
Fortunately, the government officials organized under Pale were already demonstrating their abilities.
The western sun shone upon the floor of the imperial castle.
The Goblin King, who had recovered his health, was in the process of completing his administrative duties.
“Excuse me, Your Majesty.”
The Goblin King raised up his head, but no change on his countenance could be seen. Saint Reshia was beside him, and she looked the same as well. Such things should’ve been a given, but she let out a sigh of relief nonetheless. However, she did not want them to see that, so she made sure to bow her head.
“I am here today on urgent business, Your Majesty.”
“War, I presume.”
“Yes. The objective is the last of the minor nations at the center of the continent, the Iron Country of Elfa.”
The Goblin King quietly listened, and she continued.
“The moment we annex this nation, we will be attacking Altigand.”
“So the time has come at long last.”
“Yes. This is the last war in this continent.”
The Goblin King nodded, then rose from his chair to command Pale.
“Send word then. I will be fighting this war.”
“As you will, my king.”
In the New Year of the fifth year of the King’s Calendar, the Goblin King took the reins of the expedition into his own hands.
The war between the Iron Country of Elfa and the eastern expedition was about to begin. And word of it travelled to every direction from the imperial capital of Revea Su.