VOLUME 3: CHAPTER 175 – BIG MOVEMENTS (1/2)
The plan to connect the various demihuman territories as proposed by Yushika of the harpies was finished within a year .
Inns were built along the road at fixed distances and were used to store food and weapons, and the goblins took on the duty of patrolling the area around them, making them into facilities that anyone could use .
Because of these trade routes, the power of the goblins could now reach the various demihuman villages, allowing them to fulfill the very purpose the Goblin King allowed their construction in the first place: to serve as a defensive measure against the demihumans that had misgivings with the king in the case of a rebellion .
As a result of these trade routes, the travel time from the nearest headquarters of the goblins, the Fortress of the Abyss, to the araneae village was now just 3 days .
And even the farthest demihuman village, the centaurs’, now only takes 7 days from the fortress . That was a speed unthinkable of in the past .
But at the same time, the demihumans also benefited from these trade routes . With them they could receive better medical care and it would now be easier to procure food .
The demihumans were generally a people of hunters, and their prey were the extremely dangerous monster beasts . To be able to hunt one was proof of one’s adulthood, but it was also because of that that many of them would find themselves wounded .
Until now the demihumans have been relying on different medical herbs from their villages, but with the resulting expansion of business from the construction of the trade routes, they could now have as much medical herbs as they needed .
Although the Forest of Darkness was vast, there were some herbs that could be gotten only from the scattered demihuman villages . On top of that, they were also limited by which herbs they knew useful .
But with the appearance of the trade routes, all those problems have been solved, and that’s exactly why Yushika suggested their construction in the first place .
The demihumans were hunters . Because of that there was no guarantee to how much food they could procure at a given time . Luck played a big part in their spoils . To solve that, Yushika thought to use the trade routes to distribute the excess food .
The reason Yushika became an excellent merchant and chief was for the sake of the demihuman alliance, but even as she thought to make a profit for all the villages, she couldn’t forget her own wallet . Try as she might, it just wasn’t possible for her to think of a plan that benefited everyone equally .
Once the various villages have been connected, someone would have to transport the goods . That duty would fall on either the harpies or the mud-scaled tribe . The Goblin King highly valued Yustia’s ability as she unknowingly opened such a large market .
The enrichment of the back lands could never chip a crack at the Goblin King’s path to world domination .
After the battle at the western capital had come to a pause, the Goblin King asked Yushika to gather at the human city .
Yushika folded her wings as she took her seat . Near her were the elves and the smarter ones among the goblins, the druids .
It was a simple meeting room made only for the purpose of having an audience with the feudal lord . It was in such a room that the king appeared .
The dignified aura about him was the same as ever, and Yushika couldn’t help but inwardly falter .
—Good grief, would it be too much to ask him to be a little easier to handle .
Yushika’s gaze pointed to none other than the leader of many races, the one who watches over them, as well as the one who continued to make her life a misery .
Her benefactor, Fei of the elves from Forni, was also present . A quick glance around the meeting room showed that the highest rank that could be currently be summoned were all present .
Sensing an ill foreboding, Yushika felt like sighing, but the moment the king spoke, she suddenly found herself with vertigo .
“I wish to implement a tax system . ”
It was here that Yushika remembered her conversation with the chief of the mud-scaled tribe, Fanfan .
Fanfan suspects that his highness might actually be an idiot . He has absolutely no idea what the word ‘impossible’ means .
Inwardly, Yushika found herself agreeing with her as she watched the meeting continue .
Even if the Goblin King was an aimless fool, the war with the humans had already begun . It was too late to be calling it quits .
“Hence, I would like you to make one . ”
Yushika was dead quiet .
—Did you just throw the problem to us?
She kept herself from saying that out loud as she patiently waited for the meeting to continue .
“I suppose this is in order to rule the humans?” Fei of Forni asked .
As expected, he is someone we can rely on, Yushika inwardly praised .
“Precisely . I would like you to keep it simple and the taxes light . ”
But if you want to rule the humans, a heavier tax should be better . Yushika couldn’t understand what the king was thinking as she shook her head .
As a merchant responsible for her whole tribe, even Yushika, who focused mostly on profits, couldn’t completely rid herself of her hate of the humans .
To her kind, this war was something they partook in to reclaim their territory . A reconquista, so to speak . It could also be said to be in preparation of their main goal: to create a country of only demihumans .
As far as her kind were concerned, it didn’t matter how many humans died in the process, and they didn’t feel even the slightest guilt for it .
Yushika unconsciously frowned .
“It seems there are people who don’t agree with me, but the stability of the hinterlands is necessary for our next step . So long as they are willing to accept my rule, I am willing to accept even the humans . ”
The king was going to accept humans into his country, so he wished for them to come up with a tax system . At least, that’s what it felt like he was saying .
When the king said that, a commotion broke out among a considerable number of those present .
Of those causing a commotion, there were even some who were goblins .
“Gi Ba’s people are as noisy as ever,” Gi Za remarked .
“Displeased, Gi Za?” The Goblin King asked .
Gi Za wryly smiled and shook his head . “The king has spoken . If there is any among us goblins who have a problem, I will deal with them… But if you ask me if I’m displeased, well, yes… I am . ”
“I don’t mind if you exploit them, so long as it doesn’t cause problems . ”
But, of course, many of the people attending nodded . Yushika also agreed inwardly .
“The humans are few . Many of the people in this room could take on 10 humans alone and come out the victor . But what if that number was increased to a hundred? What about a thousand? Few among us could claim confidence in coming out the victor then, no?”
When the king pointed that out, the people in the meeting went quiet .
“Besides, I may intend to rule them, but that doesn’t mean I will favor them . ”
Seeing the Goblin King’s smile full of confidence, Yushika wondered if he had a plan of some sort . But even if he did, would it really go well? The humans are a fearful enemy, who would quickly grasp victory given a moment of weakness . If such a thing were to occur, wouldn’t everything come to nothing?
That thought weighed heavily upon her .
“…Let’s say I believe the king’s words, a tax system would undoubtedly be necessary to organize a country,” Fei of Forni said after a long period of silence . “But the next question then would be ‘with what should they pay’?”
No boorish remark such as ‘just take whatever they have’ came out in response to that question . Not even the goblins suggested it . That spoke greatly of the quality of the people gathered here today .
“Let’s have them make farms . When the time of harvest comes, we can then take our dues . ”
“That won’t be enough . There should be merchants even among the humans . We need to think of a tax for them too,” Yushika blurted out without thinking .
One of her subordinates has on more than one occasion reported to her about sightings of people carrying goods on covered wagons . She knew from what she’s gathered that those were none other than human merchants .
If the only tax were to be on goods produced, such merchants who didn’t produce anything would end up having nothing to pay .
Various opinions came out, but in the end, a conclusion couldn’t be reached .
“We could also try asking the humans,” Gi Za suggested, and the meeting immediately went quiet .
“We are creating a tax system to rule over the humans, and we are going to ask them for their opinion?” One of those participating in the meeting asked .
Gi Za didn’t mind and replied, “the humans can be separated into two classes, those that rule over others and those that are ruled . They have many methods with which they rule their fellow man, methods we could never even dream of . ”
Is that so? Yushika tilted her head .
“If the burden is too great, the humans will rebel, so we need to keep the tax light to ensure that they will work for us . Is this what the king intends?” Fei asked the Goblin King .
The Goblin King did not seem dissatisfied as he nodded in response .
After that, the humans, Shumea and Yoshu, were called to seek their opinions regarding the tax system . The meeting livened up once more .
That meeting continued for 3 days, and in the end, it was decided that the farmers would give up 30% of their crops . As for the humans enlisting into the army as battle slaves, their tax will be set to 10% . As for the merchants, they will be obligated to accompany the goblins and demihumans and their taxes will be paid through the food they sell .
Ever since the king made up his mind to move south, the pressure they have been exerting toward the east greatly weakened .
The assassin, Gi Ji Arsil, left only the barest guards and led his platoon south . They would be the advance force, while the main force would soon follow from behind .
Gi Gi Orudo who led the beast army, Gi Zu Ruo who led the brawlers, and the relatively unscathed of the noble class commanders all went south .
Gi Gi Orudo’s monster army, in particular, advanced at an amazing speed . He moved toward the south with the rare class, Gi Bu, as his adjutant .
Their goblins numbered few, but they led a staggering number of beasts . Such a number would naturally require an equivalent amount of food to sustain . Gi Gi’s answer to that was to take the food from the lands they passed .
In other words, they fed the beasts as they traveled down south . But this was not a good thing to the beasts native to these lands . After all, though a good majority of the beasts in the army were those that were driven away from their homes in the forest, there was still a huge gap in strength between them and those living in the plains .
That was a horde so great it was like a tsunami as it overwhelmed them .
If the beasts were even a little clever, they would surely run . It didn’t matter whether it was the human territory that they rarely trespassed or the territory of some other beast . Before that tsunami-like horde, they had no choice but to force their way through .
As Gi Gi rode on the back of his triple head, he looked on at the army following from behind with satisfaction . He was the first one to receive the king’s permission to build a village .
Theirs was a village of beast tamers, made up of the northern goblins Gi Gi had taken back with him and the goblins that were born in the fortress while he was gone that had the aptitude to become beast tamers . Naturally, the resulting army from such a village was also a beast tamer army .
The goblin raid led by Gi Gi caused the monsters living at the northern part of the free cities to go into rampage, and even the docile beasts that normally didn’t attack started proactively attacking .
Screams resounded from a small village under the rule of a large city-state .
Though the small village had relatively weak defenses compared to the large cities, they still had weapons of their own . Unfortunately, it was not so easy to deal with the rampaging beasts . All the more so when they came in droves, one wave after another . The situation was such that not even knights and adventurers would be able to easily handle it .
The warriors from the city-state that acted as the feudal lord of the village would normally go expel the beasts, but they were currently busy preparing for the war between the northern and the southern free cities .
The smaller beasts wreaked havoc upon the crops, while the larger beasts destroyed the houses . When the people saw that the feudal lords had no intention of stepping in, their dissatisfaction toward them soared .
From the perspective of the feudal lords, the people rebelling was a scary thing, but making an enemy out of the Kushain believers was even scarier . Fear of the believers has been deeply burned into their hearts after witnessing for themselves the holy war that the patriarch, Benem Nemush, called .
To the believers, killing the feudal lords and all of the people was not a strange thing . Although they may all be Kushain believers, they were not all as fanatic as the patriarch about their faith’s teachings .
There were many among those ruling who interpreted the teachings to suit their agendas .
To the feudal lords, these kinds of believers were the scariest .
The two messengers from the Leon Heart Clan had another audience with the king three days later . Tauropa from the Big Fang Tribe and the man who called himself Zakusen .
They looked toward the Goblin King as he sat in his throne .
There was no one else in the room other than he . At the very least, they did not see anyone .
“I’m thinking of taking you up on that deal . ”
When the Goblin King said that, the two messengers heaved a sigh of relief .
—Looks like we won’t be dying here just yet .
The Goblin King noticed their quiet exchange, but he didn’t say anything about it . Instead, he said that they needed to work out the details .
“…The details?” Zakusen asked with that frivolous expression of his .
In response, the Goblin King smiled cruelly like that of a cat tormenting a little mouse . “It is necessary, no? How much will you be paid and what roles will you be undertaking… These things need to be decided upon . ”
The money was understandable . The Goblin King was a smart one .
But when Tauropa heard the king mention about ‘roles’, he couldn’t help but tilt his head in puzzlement .
Zakusen felt an ill foreboding as cold sweat slid down his back .
“The only thing we can do is fight,” Tauropa said .
“Yes, and I would like you to help with that,” the Goblin King said with that same smile from before .
“…What is it that you wish of us?”
“I want you to destroy the Kushain believers from within . Act as their allies and find sympathizers among their ranks . ”
In other words, betray humanity . The two messengers were shocked .
“That… would be going against our honor as mercenaries,” Zakusen said hastily without even the time to fix his frivolous mask .
“Oh, I think you’re gravely misunderstanding something here . The moment you left the human camp and came to our side, you became traitors . ”
The Goblin King mercilessly buried that cold harsh truth into their hearts, and though Zakusen understood that full well, he couldn’t help but avert his eyes .
“Of course, if you haven’t resolved yourselves, then we can forget about this whole conversation . ”
This was not a war between fellow humans, but a war among races . The very existence of a race was at stake here, and the Goblin King would not accept any compromise . To that end, he would use anything he could .
The Goblin King was reminding them just what kind of war they were about to throw themselves into .
It was the least respect he could give for these two brave messengers who risked their lives to come here .
Unfortunately, Tauropa could not understand the king’s good will, and he looked at him with a gaze filled with fury, before turning to glance at Zakusen .
When he saw that Zakusen wasn’t saying anything, he spoke . “We are mercenaries, we—”
But Zakusen cut him midway and spoke in a loud voice . “—Fine! We accept your terms!”
Tauropa opened his eyes wide in shock, but Zakusen ignored him as he looked at the Goblin King .
The Goblin King’s crimson eyes that were as red as blood shot through the humans before him .
“…Very well . I shall believe you then . ”
The Goblin King stood up and approached them .
I’m going to be eaten! Tauropa cried inwardly as the king’s ferocious smile grew bigger .
The Goblin King spoke . “State freely your heart’s desire! From here on, I shall treat you as allies!”
“I gratefully accept,” Zakusen boldly replied .
Tauropa felt his cheeks grow hot at his earlier shameful display . At the same time, he found respect for their vice-leader’s guts .
Tl Note: Sorry, it seems I’ll be needing to split this chapter into three . I had some difficulties with some parts, and I ended up taking more time than normal, both for this part and the previous one .
Pale Symphoria left the bar with her hood on and walked through the main street . This was her fourth day gathering information, but she still came out empty . She started gathering information as soon as she parted with the rookie adventurer, Shurei, and the believer of the goddess of healing (Zenobia) .
But regardless who it was, when it came to the Elks Clan, all mouths were closed, even the talkative drunks . Pale was again made aware of just how big the enemy was, and that fact made her grit her teeth alone .
Which was why the moment her sharpened senses picked something up, she immediately left the main street and entered into the back alleys .
If she couldn’t find a trail, she would just have to lure the enemy to make a trail for her .
So she used herself as bait .
There were several people chasing after her as she passed through the back alleys . Those people kept following her even after she reached the slums .
Pale knew her way around these parts . Adventurers often had scuffles with thugs like the yakuza, so they had to have a thorough understanding of the area they worked in .
Pale had intentionally led her pursuers to a place they could easily attack her .
When Pale reached a dead-end in the slums, at a place that used to be a plaza, she stopped .
She hid the dagger in her hands as she eyed her surroundings .
“What ‘cha doing out here all alone, miss?” One man stepped out and spoke frivolously .
“Yeah, yeah… Especially at a time like this . Don’t ya know there’s a lot of bad guys out there?”
The sound of two more came from behind, and there was another hiding under the shadow of the abandoned building to the right, stifling his breath .
The earlier man from before didn’t seem to like Pale keeping her silence, as he suddenly raised his voice and struck the ground with a rod-like object .
“Tch… It’s the boss’ orders, so it can’t be helped . Just hurry up and die . ”
Pale calculated the distance between her and her assailants as she confirmed the sound of footsteps coming from both in front and behind .
Judging from the sound of their footsteps, the people approaching her didn’t seem well-versed in martial arts . In that case, the real enemy was probably the one hidden under the shadow of the abandoned building to the right . As Pale arrived to that conclusion, she revealed the dagger she had been hiding all this time .
“Ooh! Pulling something like that!” One of the men said as he played with his rod .
The moment the man swung down with his rod, Pale’s body shifted a little, and his rod landed on the ground, giving rise to a cloud of dust .
The man ignored his numbed arms and pursued Pale’s shadow, but her dagger had already been thrust at his neck .
“Tell me who sent you and I’ll let you off,” Pale’s voice was without a hint of warmth as she allowed her dagger to lightly cut the man’s skin .
The man faltered as he screamed, and Pale followed him to ensure her dagger remained on his throat . But the moment she neared the man, the footsteps coming from behind got her attention .
Two pairs of footsteps approached from behind . As Pale felt even the sound of the weapons swinging, she slightly moved her dagger and turned her body, and in the next moment, the man Pale was threatening screamed .
He ended up receiving his allies’ attacks in her place .
As the enemy behind clicked his tongue, Pale took a step and sent her dagger toward his arms .
She may have been blind, but with her exceptional hearing, she could reproduce an image of her surroundings within her mind .
When the sound of an arrow flying from behind resounded, Pale bent down .
As the other man behind her cried out in pain, Pale ran toward the direction the arrow came from .
As Pale caught the sound of someone hastily standing up, she threw her dagger toward the enemy .
A muffled noise resounded as the dagger buried itself into the fleeing man’s back . After hearing the man fall, Pale went back to the man whose arm had been cut .
She asked him the same question . “Now tell me who sent you . ”
Seeing Pale brandish her dagger once more, the man shook in fear and confessed .
“…The Dagger of Webrus . ”
As Pale quietly repeated those words to herself, the flames of vengeance burned within her .
The blade the black-haired swordsman swung was a giant sword as big as he was tall . In the desert, it was a weapon known as scimitar . It was a special kind of sword known for its curved blade, but the scimitar the black-haired man wielded was far bigger than common sense would expect .
The swordsman wielded his scimitar, whose curved blade ran deeper than that of a curved sword, as he took a light step and watched the lightly-armored swordsman .
The lightly-armored swordsman, whose skin was exposed, utilized a twin-sword style . He was an expert who pursued sharpness and lightness, and was one of the members of a famous clan from the labyrinth city-state, Tortoki .
It was in a small village located between Elrain Kingdom and Labyrinth City-State Tortoki that the Red King Clan and another were staking their existence .
And these two warriors were none other than the warriors sent out by their respective leaders to represent their clans .
As the twin-sword user took a light step and started a rhythm, his body blurred and vanished . Or at the very least, that’s how it appeared to the people watching .
Immediately after, the black-haired swordsman swung his sword at the empty air .
The sound of iron and steel clashing erupted, and the twin-sword user was sent sliding across the ground, spitting expletives .
Despite that, however, his stance remained unbroken, but this much was expected of a warrior who carried his clan’s existence on his shoulders .
The twin-swords user allowed the force to pass through his legs and begun preparing for a counterattack .
But a greater threat appeared as the black-haired swordsman swung his scimitar .
That was a power resulting from a man blessed with superhuman strength that went beyond the first-rate skill of the twin-swords user .
But even if that was the case, the twin-swords user had his pride . If he were to lose here, his family – his clan – would literally be crushed by these men .
He had accompanied his clan for many years now . At the very least, he needed to fight until the end, so he took on that descending scimitar with his twin swords and allowed its power to take him along .
As a result, it looked like he was running away, but that couldn’t be helped . As the twin-swords user jumped back with the impact of the scimitar, something happened that shocked him once more .
He had clearly jumped back, but for some reason, his body was suddenly forcefully brought back to the front . It was as if the world itself was offering him to the black-haired swordsman .
As the might of the scimitar directly fell onto his twin swords that pursued sharpness and lightness, it cruelly smashed them into pieces .
The twin-swords user braced himself for death as the black-haired swordsman pointed his scimitar at him .
“…We lost . ” The clan leader of the twin-swords user bit his lips in frustration .
The Red King, Brandika, heartily laughed . “Shunrai! Good job!”
The black haired swordsman glanced at the kneeling twin-swords user as he wielded his scimitar again .
“It was a good match . Let’s do it again one day . ”
Then without waiting for a reply, the black-haired swordsman known as Shunrai walked back to his clan leader .
As he did, he noted that Brandika was holding the opposing clan leader’s shoulders as they talked about something . Odds were he was promising him their clan’s continued existence under the condition they came under the Red King Clan’s banner .
Tying his hair into a knot behind him and letting the sides fall just up till the shoulders, the black-haired swordsman hid his mouth with a muffler despite being in the desert . He narrowed his eyes as he watched his clan leader happily talk of his ambition (dreams) .
“Good work . ”
As he was walking back to the clan leader, it was the scholarly youth, Carrion, who called out to him .
“I didn’t even sweat, though . ”
Hearing such a large contrast with his remark now compared to when he was talking with the enemy champion, Carrion couldn’t help but make an impish smile .
“Well, we don’t currently have any plans to fight with someone big . ”
“In that case, I’ll be hoping we have a change of plans, Genius Adviser . ”
Shunrai turned his back right after saying that .
“Ah, man… Oh, right!” Carrion was left scratching his head for a moment, but immediately after, a smile appeared on his face, and he looked coldly at Shunrai .
“According to the Dagger of Werbus, it seems we may have found a survivor of the Elks Clan . ”
“Oh? That’s interesting…”
The small opening through the black-haired swordsman’s muffler revealed a fierce smile like that of a beast eyeing its prey .
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