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Volume 4: Chapter 277 – The Fall of Elfa (3/4)
Along the way of their retreat, Misha’s wyvern knights saw a giant shadow approaching from the distant northern skies.
Suddenly, the wyverns panicked and she had to tighten her hold on the reins to get back control. When Misha looked around her, she saw that all of the usually obedient wyverns were flying wildly as though they didn’t want to be ridden.
It was as though that giant shadow from the northern sky was influencing them, so she immediately turned their course around to fly south instead. When she did, the wyverns became docile again. In fact, they were flying even faster than before.
“…Was it that monster’s influence?”
At the end of Misha’s glare was Douhet the Flame Ryuu.
The wyvern knight reinforcements for Elfa also had to turn around after just seeing him. That creature was on a completely different level compared to the wyverns. The wyverns that were bound by the Collar of Slavery must’ve realized the threat to their lives and desperately fought against the magic forcing them to obey.
At Misha’s behest, the wyvern knights changed their route of retreat and were able to safely reach Elfa. The reaction of the wyverns to the threat was so intense that they actually ended up saving their riders.
But to the young Misha, that did not know failure, there was no greater failure than to be forced to retreat before even fighting.
The situation was also similar for Rafa, who had been sent by the hero to communicate with Rasdir. As a young woman overflowing with talent for both the magic and the sword, the hero greatly valued her talents, and so sent her to Elfa as a messenger.
With the successful recruitment of the young leader, Rasdil, it’s safe to say that Rafa’s mission was already 60% complete. But indeed, as one might expect from a girl that held so much confidence in herself, the orders she received from the hero did not end there.
She was also tasked with ensuring that Elfa would last long enough against Alrodena to become a shield for Altigand. Of course, the opinions of emissaries from allied countries couldn’t possibly be used when deciding the course of the nation.
Yet Rafa was confident.
For she had the knight commander, Rasdir, in her hands. She stuck to Rasdir like his shadow under the pretense of advising him, and she would give her opinion on Elfa’s policies, but when the discussions reached a stage where the crucial Rasdir would have to mobilize to expel the northern threat, Rafa couldn’t help but become impatient.
At this rate, her influence in Elfa would diminish.
For Rafa, who never doubted her own superiority in the slightest, Elfa fighting back on their own volition or surrendering were both unacceptable.
Unfortunately, Rasdir’s mobilization was already decided.
In her panic, she pushed her position as an emissary of an allied nation to attend their meetings, completely ignoring the fact that they were treating her very coldly as she expressed her own opinions as Altigand’s. To make things worse, Saldin, who led the Red King, and Gulland, who led the volunteer soldiers, were more influential in affecting Elfa’s policies than her.
The Red King, led by Saldine, has fought in many battles, and due to the changes in national policy, even mercenaries have come to have a great deal of influence in the nation.
But then again, to lend an ear to the strong that shed blood was only natural in the militaristic nation of Elfa.
For the same reasons, the volunteer army formed by the surviving vassals of Margrave Mordred was one of the few reinforcements that was not destroyed by Aransain in the north, and was able to arrive safely in Elfa.
“…And so, because of the above reasons, our Altigand would prefer that Elfa fight a defensive battle instead.
As Rafa said that without the slightest doubt that she was in the right, silence filled the meeting room.
As a nation that has already been driven into a corner, Altigand’s support was indispensable. But they found it emotionally hard to swallow to be subservient to them. If they prostrate themselves before Alsas, a nation that was once their enemy, how would they have the face to meet their forefathers, who themselves died before Alsas’ schemes?
With Rasdir, a man serving for the second generation, for the first time, there was unity in the opinion of the nation.
Unable to bear the blank stares and silence, the king, who was presiding over the meeting, turned to the volunteer soldiers.
“…Do as you please. We will respect Elfa’s will,” Gulland said.
When Gulland stood up as the representative to the volunteer soldiers and said that, Rafa’s eyes opened wide, while Elfa’s representative blinked his eyes.
“Did I hear that wrong?”
“No, we will respect Elfa’s will.”
The meeting room grew abuzz, and gazes darted to and fro.
“Gulland-dono, your opinion appears to oppose the emissary’s.”
One of the heavy knight commanders who stayed behind to defend the capital gave Gulland a sharp look.
“You can take if that way if you want, I don’t mind. We came here to help Elfa because of Margrave Mordred’s last will.”
Rafa quietly glared at Gulland, but the glares of a little girl with just a little bit of talent couldn’t possibly discomfort him enough to even feel like a mosquito’s bite. Meanwhile, the leaders of Elfa wanted to applaud Gulland for his brazen rejection of ‘Altigand’s’ opinion.
“Our Red King agrees with that Mr. Hero over there. And no, we’re not changing our opinion even if you pay us,” Saldin said.
“…Well said. I’m sure people like yourselves are what people would refer to as true allies,” a knight commander said.
As though on behalf of the people gathered there, the knight commander of a heavy knight platoon expressed his thanks to Gulland and Saldin.
Of course, to Rafa there was nothing interesting about this turn of events. This was a disaster. The people of Elfa would also likely refuse from here on no matter what she says. She could tell that much, which is why she glared so hatefully at Gulland and Saldin.
In the end, the meeting continued regardless of Rafa’s opinion, and it was decided that the people would be sent to flee to Altigand, while Rasdir and his heavy knights drew the attention of Aransain in the north. As for the rest of the army, they would be in charge of stopping the attacks coming from the south.
Rafa tried to volunteer herself to pilot the boat, but even that was rejected by Elfa.
“I believe it would be best to entrust that duty to the leader of our volunteer soldiers, who himself has survived many battles. Especially since such a role is meant to protect our people.”
In other words, they couldn’t trust her. The look on Rafa’s face after such a rejection was truly a sight to behold.
Yet despite the humiliation, she could only back down.
In the end, she was nothing more than a messenger sent by the hero. No matter how talented she may be in magic and the sword, she was just a girl in her teens with no experience nor achievement to speak of.
“We will be stopping the enemy approaching from the south,” the knight commander said.
When it was time to part, the knight commander of a heavy knights platoon called out to Gulland and patted him on the shoulders.
“I have high hopes for your conquests in combat, Knight of Storms,” the knight commander said.
“…I’ll do my best,” Gulland made a bitter face and responded vaguely.
“We need you, Gulland. We need even a little bit of that thing called hope – a hope called ‘hero’.”
“A false reputation is better than none, huh.”
“At the very least that’s the case for the people. Please.”
The knight commander offered his hand, and Gulland took it, but the power in the man’s eyes and in his grip surprised him. The man trusted him so much, and that made something smoldering deep inside him to start burning again a little.
“You can count on me, Commander. I’ll Make sure the people of Elfa make it to Altigand.”
“That’s our hero! As expected of the man the people of Elfa have put their trust in!”
The next day, Gulland departed with some volunteer soldiers and knights.
“I thought for sure you’d be coming with us,” Gulland said.
Saldin of the Red King snorted at Gulland’s invitation. “That’ll be a problem for the client. Sorry, but we’ve never failed to see a contract to the end after accepting one.”
“…I see. Don’t die now.”
“Who do you think you’re talking to? I am the clan leader of the Red King.”
As Saldin laughed fearlessly, Gulland left with the volunteer soldiers and led the people north.
“Now then, men. There’s nothing to fear. Let’s go scare the hell out of this so-called demon king’s army, shall we?”
The heavy knights cheered.
“They’re goblins. The same goblins you’ve been exterminating all this time! There’s no reason we can’t win!”
As Saldin encouraged his men, the remnants of the Red King cheered.
Though the imperial capital of Elfa knew that Alrodena was fast approaching, their spirits remained high.