VOLUME 3: CHAPTER 177 – THOSE WHO SEEK VENGEANCE (1/2)
Stooping down at the sound of an arrow shooting from behind, she suddenly felt an enemy jump down from above, forcing her to dash out .
She had a small bow, but without the time to nock an arrow, the enemy shot at her again .
Frustrated as she might be, she had no other choice but to turn around from the narrow street and run away .
“After her!” The enemies cried .
At that, she turned around and shot an arrow at them . She did not have the leisure to aim her shot, but she still managed to reduce their numbers . Unfortunately, it was not enough, and the sound of approaching footsteps sent a chill running up her back .
Pale was currently in the midst of battling the assassins .
She took a dagger from her belt and threw it behind her without turning . When someone screamed, she stopped, turned around, and boldly approached the confused group to retrieve her dagger and attack .
A pair of swords came sweeping at her from the side, but she passed through them and lopped an enemy’s head off . At roughly the same time, a long sword went for her legs, but it hit nothing but air, for Pale had jumped, and immediately after, threw her dagger before pulling another one out .
The thrown dagger made a clanging sound as it hit something hard and was deflected .
Pale cried out in anguish, but the enemy just quietly swung his sword . She tried to defend with her dagger, but only the hard sensation of an armor was there to greet her, then the sensation of her flesh being torn as something penetrated it invaded her . Pale stifled her cries as she jumped back .
The attack she’d received with her dagger was a single swing; hence, it reasoned that there was only one foe before her .
As a blind woman, there were still things Pale didn’t know despite her superhuman hearing . When she heard her enemy stepping on sand, she woke up from her thoughts and tried to back off, but the enemy chased after her .
With the enemy able to close their distance without showing a single opening, it was clear as day that he was no small fry . He was not like those fodders that Pale had defeated .
From the pressure alone, Pale knew she would die the moment she turned her back . That being said, she didn’t know if she could win in a straight-up battle either .
Pale managed to run quite a bit, and judging from the sound of the wind, she could tell that they had already passed the slums . Help probably wouldn’t come .
Pale retreated half a step, then she heard the enemy move out .
As the pressure coming from the enemy became stronger, Pale had to fix her grasp on her dagger due to her blood getting on her fingers .
The enemy did not miss that opportunity . His step was heavy, but the sound it made was muted to the limits . That was indeed the skill of a first-rate assassin .
Pale twisted her body to dodge the enemy’s approaching dagger .
But then the sound of a ‘clink’ like some sort of mechanism activating reached her ears, and in the next moment, the blade that should have been dodged tore her hood and unraveled her bound hair .
“An elf, huh,” the assassin said inadvertently the moment he saw Pale’s long ears .
But he didn’t say anything more than that as his killing intent thickened .
Fighting in the narrow back alley up close with this assassin was hopeless, so Pale started racking her brain for a way to get out of this alive .
It was no exaggeration to say that Pale was picking a fight with the assassin clan, the Dagger of Werbus, alone . But now that it was clear that she can’t win, she wasn’t about to throw her life away .
She took a step back .
Naturally, the enemy would – in turn – take a step forward . Pale didn’t have Felbi’s talent for the sword, so unfortunately, turning this situation around would be difficult .
At least, it would be if she couldn’t use magic .
Pale wielded her dagger to hide her lips to prevent the assassin from noticing that she was chanting a spell, then she took another step back to lure the enemy toward her .
The moment the enemy leaped, she threw her dagger .
“Winds! Give me Power! (Wind Shot)!”
Although its firepower was low, it was a practical spell that was easy to use, and by cladding her dagger in the wind, she was able to raise its speed and strength .
The assassin tried to dodge Pale’s dagger, but it suddenly sped up, causing him much surprise as it dawned on him that he wouldn’t be able to dodge, so he decided to jump out of the way instead .
The assassin clicked his tongue as the wind-clad dagger grazed him by his shoulders . He turned back to Pale, but she was already fleeing .
But Pale wasn’t safe just yet, for her wounds were heavy, and without first-aid, it was doubtful that she would survive .
4 pairs of footsteps resounded from up ahead .
Pale couldn’t concentrate well because of her wounds, so her ability to detect the enemy declined . Pale’s breath was ragged as she took out her dagger . She was at a disadvantage, and the longer the battle went on, the more disadvantaged she would be .
So this is as far as I go? Pale thought as she braced herself for the worst when a scream and a jeer suddenly reached her ears .
“Ms . Pale!”
“What’s with these brats!?”
The rookie adventurer, Shurei, and the follower of Zenobia (Goddess of Healing), Rue . They swung their swords and joined the fray to save Pale .
The two of them took advantage of an opening and made their way to Pale .
“In my name, heal! (Heal)”
When Rue chanted that spell, a warm light wrapped around Pale and healed her wounds .
“Why?” Pale asked .
“What do you mean ‘why?’ We can’t just abandon our benefactor!” Rue said .
“We may not have been together for long, but we’re comrades . And, Ms . Pale . I know that there’s no way you’re the sort of person who would abandon her comrades!” Shurei said .
The two were visibly afraid, but they still tried to be as positive as they could be to keep themselves from being overcome by it . Of course, Pale noticed that, and in fact, it was precisely because she didn’t want to drag them into her mess that she left them .
Still, be that is it may, she was still somewhat happy that they came here .
“…And? Are you ready to die with those brats?”
When Shurei and Rue looked at their enemies again, they noted that there were more of them now than before . They had 5 more men added to their ranks, and there were even more coming from behind .
“Kill them all!”
As the enemies charged toward them, Shurei puffed out his chest with courage and stepped forward, but then—
—The enemies started screaming from the other side . It seems someone has come to their aid .
“Hey! Where are the brats!?”
That somewhat carefree and heavy voice resounded throughout the area . One glance at his sword was enough to tell that he was far more powerful and experienced compared to Shurei .
“Earth! Shoot forth toward the enemy! (Earth Bullet)”
Be it sword or magic, the swordsman excelled in them all . It was a skill reminiscent of the sylph commander, Felbi . It seemed he was deeply blessed by the God of Earth .
Light brown skin, silver hair, and through his bangs, long ears . That was proof that elven blood run thick through his veins .
Blood spurted left and right as he cut open a path through the enemies, but he wasn’t fazed even a little . It was the very picture of a warrior chosen by the gods .
“So this is where you were, brats… And, I suppose you’re an elf . ”
In the blink of an eye, he suppressed all enemies, and suddenly, he was right there before Pale, looking down at them .
The man introduced himself according to the old custom of the elves . “Friend of the North (Noizan Arata), greetings . I am Berg Alsen Royon of the Gnomes . Due to some circumstances, I am currently a traveler . ”
“Migrating bird (Royon)? Are you out for vengeance?” Pale asked .
The elves were divided into four races . The sylphs, the gnomes, the undines, and the salamanders . Normally they prefer to be by themselves, but there are times when they leave their village .
The gnomes, for example, have a custom wherein they leave their village and swear not to come back until they avenge their family . Such gnomes who travel for vengeance are usually given the names ‘migratory bird’ or ‘homeless’ in the ancient tongue to make their status clear .
When Berg saw Pale know such knowledge despite being so young, he couldn’t help but raise his brows .
“It is as you’ve said . I’ll get straight to the point . There’s a question I want to ask . ” There was a hardness and sharpness to his gaze as he said that . “Do you know the gnome sword dancer, Cell Beork?”
The Holy Knight, Gulland Rifenin, who had gathered the refugees of the western capital, was currently in the royal palace with his aide, Yuan .
Gulland had been summoned to the office of the guard commander .
“You came, Holy Knight, Gulland Rifenin . ”
Gulland told Yuan to wait before entering the room alone .
“I’m busy . You better not be wasting my time . ”
Gulland was already in a horrible mood the moment he entered .
Naturally, the guard commander frowned .
“Watch your tongue, Gulland . There are people who’ve been calling for you . ”
“And now why is that? Tell me . ”
The guard commander was a traditional high-ranking noble and was in a position with considerable power . After all, he was one of the few powers the king had that could stand toe-to-toe with the royal army under his direct control .
“It’s just a warning for now, but it’s only to be expected what with you associating with dubious people . If you’re a holy knight, you should— Wait! Gulland!”
“I’ve never been fond of lectures . If that’s all you have to say, I’m leaving,” Gulland clicked his tongue .
The guard commander clicked his tongue too and cut to the chase . “Complaints have been lodged . They want you punished . ”
When Gulland turned around, a dangerous glint flashed in his eyes . The guard commander felt his back chill .
“For now it’s just a worthless complaint, but they’ll investigate you for real if the complaints pile up . You understand what I’m saying?”
“Hmph, what a kind guard commander . Thank you . ”
“…The king is worrying too . ”
“…If that’s all, I’ll be taking my leave . I told you before, but I’m busy . ”
“Do you really understand, Gulland!?”
The guard commander yelled, seeming almost angry, but Gulland ignored him and left .
“Goodness gracious, the hero really is a handful . ”
When Gulland left, a plump civil official appeared, shaking his head as he stood beside the guard commander and uttered insincere praises .
“Even though he acts so audaciously while hiding behind his achievements, he should still have treated our kingdom’s meritorious guard commander with respect . ”
“But that man really is one of the most valuable soldiers of our kingdom . His majesty is even more concerned about him after losing the west . ”
“No matter how excellent he is, disrespect to the kingdom can only be poison, never medicine . ”
“I know! That’s why I reprimanded him!”
The civil official raised his brows in an exaggerated manner and whispered .
“Good grief, if that hero could just act with a little more decorum, our guard commander wouldn’t be having such a hard time . ”
After the west fell and Gulland started rebuilding his army, a delicate change in power at the apex of the imperial court occurred .
The kingdom’s influence had declined with the passing of Gowen Ranid . The defeat of the dispatched royal army and the holy knight who has supported the kingdom all this time, as well as being the king’s right hand man, has greatly wounded the king’s authority .
The holy knights are the pinnacle of martial strength, and as such, incur much envy from others . Nobles who have nothing going for them but their pedigree, in particular, were the most envious of all .
Gulland’s irritated footsteps resounded as he left the castle when he happened upon a familiar face, causing him to stop in his tracks .
“Well, if it isn’t the great hero,” the Ripper Knight, Sivara Bandier, said with a relaxed smile .
“What? Are you going to lecture me too?” Gulland asked, irritated .
“What you on about?” Sivara laughed .
“I was thinking of getting more reinforcements . The monster beasts have been attacking a lot lately, so…”
“Ahh, there have been more beasts lately coming from the west . They’ve been good training for the soldiers . ”
“You’re the same as ever, I see . ”
See ya, Sivara waved his hand and went on his way . At that, Gulland too left the castle .
“I have a place I need to drop by . You go back first . ”
“Weren’t you warned just now? I know I should trust you more as your aide, but…”
“…I’m not going anywhere interesting . ”
Sivara says that, Yuan says that, everyone has something to say . Gulland found that a little embarrassing, and he snorted as he went his way .
The direction he was headed to was a slave merchant’s residence in the merchant district .
“This is?” Yuan asked .
Gulland ignored him and passed through the gates .
“Your boss in, yeah? Tell him Gulland’s here . ”
Gulland opened the door and entered . Seeing him act unusually high-handed, Yuan swallowed his questions and quietly watched .
“T-The master isn’t around…”
Gulland grabbed the servant by the chest and spoke with a threatening voice .
“Tell your master, Gulland is here . There won’t be a second time . ”
The servant screamed as he ran back in .
Gulland wore an unhappy face and turned to Yuan .
“I would rather not have my boss sued for intimidation…”
“Don’t worry about it . ”
Really, now? Yuan thought as he sighed and his stomach churned . The residents of the western capital mustn’t be thrown away even in the worst case scenario .
If a problem were to occur with this man, he would have to lead the western capital’s people himself .
“I-I-If it isn’t Master Gulland!”
That rolling voice came from the rising merchant that picked on Reshia .
“Nice house… Looks like you’ve been raking in the dough . ”
“W-W-Well, o-of course . Everything is due to your excellency’s grace . ”
Seeing the merchant visibly acting suspicious, Gulland smiled fiercely and forcefully had the merchant invite him in .
“T, To what do I owe, the pleasure of this visit?”
The merchant visibly scared out of his wits, Gulland became the very picture of haughtiness, as he sat himself on a sofa and crossed his legs .
“Money,” he curtly said .
Ah, it’s over, Yuan thought in despair as he looked up to the heavens . This would probably be his last day working for Gulland .
“I’m not asking you to give me money, I’m asking you to loan me money . ”
Gulland did not miss that dishonest twinkle in the merchant’s eyes .
“500 gold coins… The interest… Let’s make it about 0 . 5%,” Gulland caressed his burly chin as he spoke in a cold voice .
“T-This is daylight robbery!” The merchant screamed .
Gulland stood up and approached the merchant . “You should be able to take out that much . Considering you’re wallet is heavy enough to hire an assassin… What? Ain’t you’re pops a huge merchant over at the Shushunu Holy Kingdom?”
That was clearly a threat, but it was indeed a fact that this merchant had brought a person without permission into the royal castle . There was also that matter with Reshia, so he was in no position to reject Gulland’s demands .
The merchant was on the verge of crying by the time he nodded .
Gulland left the premises .
“…Just know that I won’t be there to help you when you stand in court,” Yuan said .
Gulland snorted and waved Yuan off like shooing a bug away .
“Good heavens… At least, try not to get stabbed from behind . ”
It was almost time for the soldiers’ training, so Yuan left Gulland and went back to the eight western fortresses where the people of the western capital were waiting .
After that Gulland headed to the slums . Being home to the needy, its public order was horrible despite being in the king’s city .
Gulland entered a sloppy bar that also served as a brothel . He was looking for someone . When he found that person, he’d already been drinking here since this morning . That man’s body odor coupled with the surrounding stench of liquor resulted in a fetor so horrible it could make one puke his guts .
Clothes that hadn’t been washed in days, and a leather armor so dirty its original color was already a mystery . The man embraced his short spear as he drank his fill .
Hair grew in a deep corner under his eyes, and there was a scar extending from his forehead to his cheeks . The man was the very picture of a fiend .
“I’ve been looking for you, Belthazar .
“What business does the hero have with me?” Belthazar spat as he glared at Gulland .
“Work,” Gulland curtly said as he threw a pouch full of silver coins before the man .
“…I refuse . ”
“You’re daughter’s name was Liza, if I recall…”
“What is she doing now?”
Belthazar was silent .
Gulland continued, “The details of the job is simple . Go to western region and lop off some goblin heads . A gold coin for every rare, 5 for every noble . Beyond that, I’ll pay appropriately . ”
Gulland and Belthazar glared at each other, but the first to turn away was the latter, who stood up .
“That includes the coin for your preparations . You’ll be leaving in 10 days with the others . Of course, I don’t want a word of this to anyone . ”
Belthazar didn’t say anything as Gulland turned around .
“I’ll be expecting, Belthazar, the Almighty Spear . ”
Gulland knew that the king was wholeheartedly focused on defending, but as someone who has fought them twice, he knew full-well that defending against them was only asking for defeat .
One reason was because their rate of growth greatly surpassed that of humans . Even Gowen, who excelled at training soldiers and who never managed to find a right-hand man, would need 2 years to train proper soldiers .
But the goblins only needed one year to create such a fierce army . If they were to hide in their shell like a turtle, they might be able to prolong the war, but they would never win against the goblins .
Gulland couldn’t go against the king’s orders .
The best case would be if the goblins were to attack here on their own accord .
The small fortresses that Yuan and his western region citizens garrisoned could take even three times as many goblins as they’d fought . They could even defend for an entire year, so long as they focused on defense .
Which is why Gulland was willing to throw away his pride to dirty his hands with something like ‘strategy’ .
He would use money to buy life and shave away at the goblins’ numbers . If that didn’t work, he could provoke the goblins and not give them any time to sleep .
Gulland finally realized that the reason Gowen left Reshia’s escort to him was because he wanted to have someone who could lead others, even if it was only one person .
“A little too late for that, shit…”
The great threat that was the goblins and the responsibility of protecting the country weighed heavily on Gulland’s shoulders .
Gulland grit his teeth at the great loss of losing people .
10 days later, the people Gulland contracted left the capital quietly . Their destination was the western capital .
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