Leading the way through the maze-like forest was Gilmi.
“We are called the goblins of the beginning,” quietly said Narsa who was beside me.
The solemnity of her voice was like that of an ancient miko.
“It’s said that we goblins were born from the Land of the Dead, from which we then came into this world.”
Is she talking about the Goddess of the UnderworldAltesia?
“The deceased Deetna, our mother goddess, our sole foundation.”
Reminds me of the legend Reshia spoke about. In that legend, the gods wished for Deetna’s return from the land of the dead. And she did, only… she came accompanied by monsters and magical beasts.
It seems the legend Reshia spoke of was also passed down to the monsters.
“But our god, Deetna, was defeated, and the one who came to rule the land of the dead was Altesia. It was through the mayhem reaped upon the world by her rampage and through her dreadful power that she conquered our land. And then she challenged the world of humans once more.”
And so the living and the dead fought once more, huh?
“But again we lost. When she ran to this land, she left us but one command before leaving us behind… Protect the Fortress of the Abyss, she declared. Do so and your king shall be born.”
Just how much passion was there in those words that you would actually shake as you utter them? What lies in your deepest thoughts… Narsa?
“And when that day comes, we shall awaken, and we shall clash against the humans once more.”
It’s a little different from the story Gilmi gave.
“And?” I asked.
This prologue’s too long. I just want to hear the conclusion.
“The four tribes together protect that which is sacred. So in order to protect the Fortress of the Abyss, each of us received a treasure from the gatekeepers of the Land of the Dead.”
I heard shouts from the right flank, but I just left it to Gi Gu Verbena.
“That treasure… is their objective,” said Narsa.
Shouts rose from the left flank, but the trees are blocking my vision… I have no choice but to trust in them.
“But why only now?” I asked. “Wasn’t the war over 400 years ago?”
“…It’s because they can’t wait anymore. So they thought to acquire the king with their own hands.”
Bitterness seemed to permeate Narsa.
At that moment, although they couldn’t possibly have been simply waiting for those words to be uttered, the Gaidga goblins appeared.
“Acquire the king, huh?”
Like dolls without will…
The king is me.
Someone who was only put in the position by others isn’t a king.
“Gi Za, I’ll leave it to you,” I ordered.
“No problem,” fearlessly smiled the druid chief, Gi Za, as he charged from my side toward the fray. Following from behind him was a lump of magic-wielding goblins.
Under Gi Za’s lead, colorless winds and blue water, attacked the Gaidga goblins.
“Gaidga’s chief is Rashka, child of Mishka. He is my fiancé.”
I see. I might be able to make use of that.
Narsa only hung her head down without even wondering what I was thinking.
“Expel them quickly, and take back the Village of Ganra!” I commanded.
Regardless… whether it be those four treasures or the king you all desire… I will take everything back.
I looked at the goblins under my control.
“Gilmi, search the surrounding area.”
The treetops are home to the Ganra goblins. Narsa seemed to be enduring something as she grasped her small fist tightly while watching the situation before her.
Like a human… huh?
I narrowed my eyes at her behavior. For better or for worse, dealing with humans might be better than dealing with goblins.
Then I looked at the bitter battlefield. There I could hear cheers sounding out in several places.
“For the meantime, it seems that we’ve achieved our objective,” I muttered.
Gilmi who was searching the surroundings from atop a tree went down to report.
“Looks like the Gaidga goblins have withdrawn,” he said.
I gave a large nod to the Ganra goblins’ commotion.
“Get some food, and keep vigil watch of the surroundings… This much should be fine, right?” I said with a sharp, commanding gaze.
Narsa, seemingly unable to resist my gaze, reluctantly nodded her head.
If that atmosphere had to be expressed in a word, then the word ‘extravagant’ would best fit.
Polished marble upon which red carpet was lain, extending straight toward the deepest room toward the throne of the king.
In which tapestries knit by the most skilled of tailors over a period of several years were draped over the walls. In which a chandelier inlayed with jewels, lighting the place bright through magic stones hung from the ceiling. And in which beautiful stained glass unseen even in the West Church were affixed to the windows, allowing the light passing through to match with the men in the room, creating an atmosphere of reverie.
It was the throne room, in which the king met his guests. And sitting on that throne was an old man known to the neighboring countries as a majestic king.
Ashtal Do Gelmion. He is the master of the kingdom in the western side of the continent whose border stretches from the Forest of Darkness to the south.
On either side of the red carpet stood the cornerstones of this nation, the nobles, the bureaucrats, the soldiers, and the merchants. They stood there like walls, not letting out even the slightest tremor of a cough. In that room, only one thing prevailed, and that was none other than the dignity of the king.
“The holy knights have arrived.”
Suddenly, within that strained atmosphere, like the sound of something snapping, those words echoed.
The king looked on at the door before him as it opened. And from it entered three men dressed in armor.
One was a man past middle-aged. With a face of sophisticated features, a straight back, and silver hair almost white, he gave off the image of a butler. However, the sharpness that lay within his gaze refuted any such notion of him being one. As he rubbed his moustache, his presence overawed the surroundings.
Another was a young man. His arrogant gaze swam left and right. His body was built like a rock, and was dressed in armor. His jaws seemed as if they could crush even steel, and in his ferocious blue eyes could be seen an ambition burning. Even his short-trimmed hair seemed to be facing the heavens, standing against it.
The last one was a long-haired man dressed in red armor. The beauty of his dazzling, long, golden hair made it easy to mistake him for a woman. His slender body had white, porcelain skin that seemed as if it hadn’t once felt the touch of the sun. Although he looked like a woman, a sarcastic smile drifted up his lips as his narrow eyes looked down on the surrounding people.
“Gowen Ranid, Gulland Rifenin, and Gene Marlon has arrived to answer to the king’s call.”
As the middle-aged man knelt before the king, the other two followed.
The king raised his arm that was like a dead tree, and he signaled for them to relax.
“What does the king require of us?”
The holy knights are the kingdom’s greatest military asset. For three out of seven to be summoned to the king… they knew very well just how urgent the matter at hand was.
From the south to the southwest is the Forest of Darkness. In the north is the mountain range of the God of SnowYggrasil. In the east is the Holy Shushunu Kingdom. And in the south-east is the Lords’ Alliance. For this country who is surrounded by all those, it prizes strength the most. And the ones to have reached the apex of that pursued strength are the seven holy knights.
“A request came from the West Church,” said the king.
Upon hearing that, Gowen, who was still kneeling, immediately understood the details of their task.
“Find the saint,” said the king in a low voice.
Each of the three assented through the expressions on their faces.
“Bring her back alive at all costs,” commanded the king.
“By your will!” replied the three holy knights.
Satisfied, the king dismissed them.
“Reshia Fel Zeal, Zenobia’s saint, was it?… Just what on earth are those people from the church thinking, I wonder?”
This is a secret, but the Ivory Tower actually pressured this kingdom.
The Ivory Tower is overflowing with exceptional magicians and bureaucrats. So even though this kingdom has a number of exceptional people under its employ, it doesn’t dare sneer at the Ivory Tower’s strength.
Yet that Ivory Tower and the West Church itself requested for a search to be done for the sake of but one girl.
A fortuitous, yet at the same time, worrying existence.
If she’s alive, then find her, and bring her back.
As a flame blazed within Ashtal’s sunken eyes, he smiled.
“I wonder what our king is planning,” asked Gene as he walked while playing with his long hair.
Having being dismissed from the presence of the king, he neither bothered to control his frivolous lips, nor did he bother to hide the twisted impression he gave off as a sarcastic smile rose upon his lips.
“You don’t really care though, right? In any case, how about we start by looking for some prey in the forest? It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of hunting after all,” ferociously laughed the man who was known as Gulland.
As a knight with great stature who is also known as the Storm Knight, there is no one superior to him when it comes to handling a great sword.
“What do you think, gramps?” asked Gene with a smile to the older knight that was walking in front of them.
Gowen, the oldest amongst the holy knights, and the one that supposedly had the most achievements amongst them.
“…The Ivory Tower and the Church obviously pressured him into it,” said Gowen as he looked at the two behind him.
That gaze he sent them… he didn’t look at them with sober eyes, no. Rather he looked at them with a gaze that could be said to be extremely cold. It was a freezing gaze that seemed to be looking down on something utterly worthless.
Gene’s smile twitched.
“As expected of the Strong-Armed Knight, your eyes are amazing. In fact, your gaze doesn’t even feel human anymore,” said Gene as he looked at Gowen with ridiculing eyes.
If one were to take a closer look, then it could be seen that Gowen’s left hand was actually a boorish, metal arm.
As Gowen stopped walking, Gene also stopped, and he took some distance.
“You want to try, gramps? My Fifire is fast, you know?” said Gene as he lightly placed his hands on the thin sword by his waist.
His movements were natural, and frighteningly enough, there were no openings in his movements. He was always ready. Ready for any prey that might come attack him.
“We should stop. There’s nothing interesting in fighting amongst ourselves even if Gulland finds it amusing,” expressionlessly said Gowen as he sent his gaze to the tall, brawny man.
“What, so you’re not doing it? And here I thought I’d be able to kill the wounded one,” laughed Gulland in a low tone as Gene shrugged his shoulders.
“You’re just no good at judging character,” said Gene.
As he heard those words, Gowen began walking again. Gene and Gulland glanced at each other once, and then they too began to walk.
Fighting here would only bring them harm.
If they’re going to fight, then they might as well fight from the start, and win. The both of them were also well aware that this was the wisest course of action.
“The captive princess, Reshia Fel Zeal, was it? For the meantime, why don’t we go and rescue her?”
As Gene lightly said that, the other two ambiguously nodded.
I changed the perspective a bit, and put in a story from the human kingdom.
Villains sure are nice, huh?