VOLUME 3: CHAPTER 173 – BROKEN WINGS (1/2)
To the east of the Eastern Holy Shushunu Kingdom were the small nations, the small nation of Fenis who took care of the elves, the farming country of Guralio, and the Iron Kingdom of Elfara . It was in the eastern part of their territory that the headquarters of Elks Clan was located .
Pale and her two fellow adventurers entered into one of the countless small countries, stopping at a corner somewhere away from the main road .
Pale’s legs seemed to tremble as a repulsive odor wafted to her nose .
“Umm, Ms . Pale…”
In the end, the boy and girl she saved at the Holy Shushunu Kingdom ended up coming with her all the way here .
“…Rue, sorry, but can you tell me what you see?” That cold voice of hers was due to her unwillingness to accept the reality that was before her .
The young girl tried to say something, but the tragedy before her kept those words from leaving her throat .
“Umm, but… . Shurei . ”
She seemed about to cry as she turned her pleading eyes to the boy next to her .
In the end, it was the young boy who spoke of the tragic sight before them .
“It’s been burned down . It’s horrible . ”
That was all he could say . The young boy neither knew enough words to describe the scene before him accurately nor did he wish to .
He had not been raised naively enough to believe that the world was a kind place . He knew full well that the world was a cruel place that could take even the small happiness he had if it so wished .
That being said, he was still not sure whether it would be a good idea to tell Pale what was in front of them .
This used to be a lively bar where people made merry and drank themselves drunk, but now, there was nothing left but the remnants of a once great fire .
That nostalgic place Pale and her comrades frequented was now gone .
They probably haven’t started rebuilding it yet . After all, the smell of burned structures and humans lingered yet in the air .
But even more appalling than that was the sight of a spear sticking out from the abandoned corpses .
The freshly severed head that were put on display were not just one or two either .
The boy said that the place had been burned down, but that was not an accurate description of the scene, for what had occurred here was surely a massacre .
The boy thanked god that she could not see . He thought it was her good fortune that she could not see something so terrible .
“Why did something like this…”
Could something like this really be allowed in the middle of the city? The boy wondered as he looked at the people nearby .
He noted that they were frightened .
If something so outrageous could be done so openly, then that could mean only one thing: the people who had done this were strong .
Pale felt like being depressed, but she forced herself to calm down . She had to think and keep walking even if it was hard .
She did not expect for their base to be burned to the ground even if they had lost to the Red King .
It was true that a battle among clans was done for the sake of having the initiative to take a dungeon, but there was no reason to exterminate each other so thoroughly . After all, something like that would no longer fall under the scope of a mere clan war but a true war .
The Elks Clan was supposedly a small to medium sized clan, but it was still fairly big .
It was hard to believe that that entire clan was actually done in . There had to be some survivors . At least, Pale forced herself to believe that .
The Red King clan had yet to calm down and it was hard to imagine that the Elks clan would lose so one-sidedly; if so, then perhaps they were taken by surprise and were forced to run away .
In any case, she would have to first find the survivors, and then…
“…Shurei, Rue, thank you for accompanying me until now,” Pale said .
“But, Ms . Pale . ”
The boy and the girl were kind people, and they did not believe it would be good to leave Pale alone, but her firm words left them unable to decide whether it would really be a good idea to tell her that .
As they were wondering what to do, Pale turned her back on them and walked away . They had been traveling until now, but unfortunately, they were caught up in something bad .
“From here on out, I will be fighting for the sake of my comrades . This has nothing to do with you . ”
That voice that used to be so kind was now as cold as ice as Pale bid them farewell .
While unsure whether to chase after her or not, Pale vanished into the crowd of people walking along the road .
The high-standing officials that was normally present with the king was nowhere to be seen .
In the throne were only two people: King Ashtal and a kneeling holy knight .
“…I hear you lost . ”
“Punish me if you must, but please spare my subordinates . ”
Gulland bowed his head with much frustration as he clenched his fists down onto the carpet .
“The threat to the west has yet to be expelled . Someone must deal with it . ”
“Yes . ”
The holy knight, Gowen Ranid, who used to be responsible for the west had already passed . Gene Marlon was actually next in line, but he too has already passed, and even before Gowen, way back in the Forest of Darkness .
Of the holy knights that left to rescue the saint, only Gulland was still alive .
King Ashtal looked at Gulland with sunken eyes .
Gulland had no way to refuse him . This recent defeat was bound to shake whatever achievements he has built until now . After all, there was nothing unusual about a losing general being punished .
“I will definitely expel the western threat . ”
“I will be expecting then . ”
After being dismissed from the king’s presence, Gulland returned to his room . As soon as he did, he slammed his fist onto the wall .
He had been moved from the north to the west . That was the same as giving all the efforts he put into stabilizing the north to Lili .
The Holy Knights of Germion Kingdom were tasked with the duty of leading the army and fortifying one of the cardinal directions . It was a position that was both at the peak of the army and the ruler of a big territory .
They had to gain the territories they were given with the soldiers they had . Because of that they had to pay careful attention over the management of the territory and the soldiers under them . How to acquire soldiers was left to the holy knights’ discretion . Of course, they could borrow from the king, but for the most part, they had to recruit their own .
In Gowen’s case, he turned the young boys from his region into soldiers, while Gulland used his influence as a former adventurer to recruit the skilled adventurers from the guild, and Sivara brought the soldiers from his region with him .
There were various ways to procure the necessary soldiers, but regardless, they all fought to expand the territory they were given .
That was the military system of Germion Kingdom .
Currently, many among the big aristocrats of the kingdom have come from the holy knights of the last generation .
But there was a catch . If the king found one incompetent or one blundered horribly, the territory he has been given could be changed, causing him to lose everything he has worked for .
Germion Kingdom was the great western kingdom of the continent .
The scope of territories it ruled would not lose out to the Holy Shushunu Kingdom at the center . But the more territories one covered, the bigger the differences would be from region to region .
There was a big difference between the borders and the large cities, for example .
The western region that was troubled with monsters and the northern region that was troubled with barbarians were borders and had less business, while the east that was flourishing with trade with the Holy Shushunu Kingdom and the south that traded with the free cities naturally had more business .
Gulland wouldn’t be so vexed if he could get one of the more affluent regions, as that would mean that he would get more taxes and human resource that could be used to develop business and increase income .
But if he were to get another undeveloped territory that would be throwing away all his efforts onto his successor . Especially, now that he has been ordered to move from the north to the west .
The land Gowen had developed was now a den of monsters . Because of that getting the west was the same thing as having to start from zero . Gulland would have to recruit soldiers anew and reclaim the west .
Fortunately, there were elites who fought under Gowen mixed in along with the refuges coming from the west .
He would have to make a new western army using them .
“I won’t lose to something like this, goblins Just you watch, I’ll kill every single one of you . ”
Gulland’s hate for the goblins burned ever fiercer .
The boundary between the Goblin King’s territory and Germion Kingdom’s wasn’t clearly defined, so the area from Sinta Hill, where the fortresses were, was considered to be the border .
There were 8 fortresses protecting the road to the capital . It was a group of small fortresses that were specifically built so that they could support each other .
Its surveillance network wasn’t by any means perfect, however, as it was actually possible to easily get past it by taking a large detour through the north .
After all, it just wasn’t feasible to have soldiers stationed throughout the entire border, so a specific point to focus their forces on was necessary . But it was precisely because of that that two figures were able to enter the goblin territory from Germion Kingdom .
“…Finally managed to get through,” a man laughed as he watched the watch fires of the fortress from the distant forest in the night . His voice was high-pitched for a man, giving his words a frivolous feel to them .
“Can’t let your guard down if you want to live,” the other man said in a low-pitched raspy voice .
The two hooded men casually walked along the forest when they saw some monsters squirming from a distance .
“This is it, the end of the human border . ”
“I don’t like shedding blood needlessly . ”
As one man cracked a joke, the other took a peek at the monsters . If they could avoid getting noticed, they could slip past them .
Stifling their breaths, they proceeded cautiously and left the forest .
“The western capital is finally within sight, but isn’t this bad?”
They arrived at the plains after leaving the forest, but without any tall grass, there was no place to hide .
Because of that they were completely exposed .
The two humans immediately turned their backs to each other as the goblins surrounded them .
When the blue goblin asked them that question, they took out their weapons .
“Resistance won’t be tolerated,” the goblin said .
Now what? The man with a high-pitched voice quietly asked the other .
“Answer me this first,” the man with a low-pitched voice said . “Is your boss generous enough to talk?”
Gi Ji Arsil ordered his goblins to stop attacking as he observed this pair of invaders once more .
It was nighttime and they were surrounded by so many goblins, and yet they seemed confident enough not to lose .
“You ask if our king is generous? At the very least, he doesn’t have any to spare for you humans . ”
The man with a low-pitched voice went quiet at that, while the other man spoke in a panic as he raised his arms .
“Hey, hey! We came here to negotiate!”
Gi Ji was certain of his advantage, so he kept on talking to try and drag out more information from these two .
Gi Ji has had more opportunities to see the enemy humans ever since taking on the role of the vanguard .
His interest in the humans mostly stemmed from getting information from them, which he was recently informed the king valued .
“That’s right . We came here to talk with your boss, so don’t hurt us, alright?”
“What kind of talk?”
“…That’s for your king to know,” the low-pitched man said .
Gi Ji nodded . “Very well . In that case, we shall tie you up and present you before His Majesty . ”
Gi Ji ignored the man as he panicked, and he ordered his subordinates to catch them .
As one goblin approached the two trespassers, the low-pitched man spoke .
“Fine, take it,” he said as he handed their weapons without hesitation .
“Woah, woah, take care of those! Those don’t come cheap!”
Like that the two trespassers were brought before the king .
The free cities to the south of Germion Kingdom were currently in the middle of a civil war .
From a religious perspective, the north adhered to the Kushain faith while the south followed the desert god . From a cultural perspective, the north focused on farming while the south focused on trading .
They originally lived two very different lives, but they were forced to unify because of the threat that was Germion Kingdom, which used its might to cull the monsters, drive out the northern barbarians, and conquer several cities from the southern free cities .
Because of that the nations of the free cities formed an alliance, creating the current free cities .
At the center of that alliance were three city-states and 2 kingdoms .
Kingdom Elrain, which focused on both trading and agriculture, due to it being situated right at the border of the desert and the green lands .
The city-state of Pena which focused on commerce through its oasis .
The mysterious city of Tortoki that was situated in the southern desert .
The city-state of Cultidian, which was the headquarters of the Kushain believers .
The Northern Kingdom of Fatina, which was connected to the borders of Germion Kingdom .
One of the main players of the civil war, the Kushain believers, had Cultidian and Fatina in their hands . Both were big cities that had at least 300,000 people each . And with the surrounding villages included, their numbers could reach a million .
Their army numbered about 200,000, and their patriarch, Benem Nemush, was vigilantly watching the region as he looked for an opening .
On the other side, Kingdom Elrain had grown weaker due to the conflict between the Kushain believers and the desert god’s, and was currently in a state of chaos . As for the mysterious city of Tortoki, it had money, but with the adventurers caring mostly about their own conveniences, it did not have the power to muster the south .
The remaining city-state Pena has just lost its old king and appointed a new queen in place .
With the south unable to muster its forces, the Kushain believers were free to attack, and many of the smaller cities were forced to capitulate without fighting .
The defeated city-states were given high taxes and were in a horrible state, but those that rebelled were burned down, so they were even worse off .
When the southern part of the free cities heard the state of things from those who had managed to flee, they were shocked . As a result, they decided to hold a meeting .
No one actually believed that a civil war would seriously break out while Germion Kingdom was baring its fangs on them, but seeing the Kushain believers serious, the alliance decided to reorganize the alliance so that they may be able to deal with them .
The new alliance was given the name: Ashunasan (Desert God) Alliance .
The Red King clan that managed to exterminate the Kushain believers from Elrain Kingdom joined the alliance to lend a hand to the weakening Elrain Kingdom .
The strength of the Red King Clan was further proven when it was able to deal with the Kushain believers from Kingdom Elrain’s neighboring nation, Windsdam .
Gradually, the Red King Clan led by Brandika, became a force in the south that no one could ignore .
“They just kept smoking at us . ”
“Well, the upper brass are all pretty much the same . ”
Brandika nodded to the words of the man dressed in desert clothing .
He was a large-statured man with red hair worn knotted in the back, and he was currently drinking with a young man .
He drank strong ale without the slightest hesitation and he came out of it completely unaffected .
The clothes he wore were clean, but they couldn’t be said to be expensive .
A glance at his worn-out breast plate and boots showed that he was clearly a veteran adventurer .
The people around him were all mostly from the Red King clan .
“They’re not bad people, though . ”
As Brandika emptied his mug, he thought back to the alliance meeting . It couldn’t really be called a meeting, though, because no one wanted to foot the bill for the war . Just remembering it made the bitter ale taste even bitter .
“I have no intention of serving anyone but you,” the scholarly pale-skinned young man said resolutely .
“I’m flattered you think so highly of me,” Brandika wryly smiled .
The young man closed his eyes and protested . “You overestimate me . I’m also named Carlion Quinn Kirks, you know . ”
“Well, let’s leave it at that… So, Carlion . It’s fine to keep going like this, right?”
“Yes, we’re sending messengers to the influential people in Elrain, so we should just quietly watch for now . Besides, we’ve also dispatched the clan from Tortoki to a wonderful place . ”
“General Kanash of Elrain has given us a favorable reply,” a beautiful elf quietly fell from the ceiling to report that, then she immediately excused herself .
“Oh, Cell,” Brandika crossed his arms as he looked up at the ceiling, but his gaze was not on the ceiling itself . Perhaps it was on the future he yearned for or the blood-drenched battlefield .
“There was a person that caught my interest back at the meeting . ”
“The princess of Pena, I take it? I believe she’s 19… I can’t think of anyone else promising from that meeting other than her . ”
“The young knights beside her were fairly good too . ”
The fierce smile on Brandika’s lips left a good impression on the gnome, Cell . It was a feeling close to awe .
That princess from the meeting had overseen the meeting calmly as she tried to bring together the various leaders that only cared about their own countries .
But the best part about her was how beautiful she looked from the side with that calm composure of hers .
“…By the way, Carlion . ”
Brandika’s expression suddenly became serious .
“What is it?”
The fact that Carlion fixed his posture showed just how odd Brandika was suddenly acting .
“…Think that princess is the sort to look thin while wearing clothes?”
“…If my eyes aren’t lying to me, quite . ”
“…Let’s believe those eyes then!”
As Brandika’s eyes sparkled, the beautiful female gnome warrior kicked him and sent him tumbling over .
The reverence in her gaze was gone and what was left was a disdainful look as if she were looking at trash .
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