The human army was approaching the demihuman’s hidden village.
They were marching through the forest, so no horses or carriages. Everyone was on foot. But their number was reported to be about a hundred, and nervousness ran through the villagers as they were informed of the situation.
“Do they have knights? What about their provisions?”
“There were about ten canine beastman slaves at the back of their formation. They were carrying a mountain of supplies, but the soldiers were carrying some too, so I don’t know how many days they’d packed for. And about the knights, umm… I think maybe around five or six.”
“What are their goals? Are they heading here?”
“I don’t know… They look like they’re searching for something, so I think it’s only a matter of time before they find us.”
As the elven hunter relayed the report, the adults began their discussion, their faces grim.
There were quite a lot of people in the hidden village, but most of the youngsters and the hot-blooded men had gone to join the resistance. The only people remaining were adults with low combat power, women, children, and the elderlies.
“Everyone, please stay calm. We should focus on thinking of a solution.”
The elven royal twin appeared from the log mansion. Several frowned upon seeing Gold behind them, a human. The princess noticed them. Her eyes faintly narrowed, and she quietly turned to look up at Gold.
“Sir Hero… you must have heard the report. Which country do you think the army should belong to?”
“…they sound like a company from Seize Kingdom.”
If the group had around a hundred men and five or six knights, then they’d be split into two platoons, each led by a platoon leader and their second-in-command. Overall command was held by the company leader and their aide. Considering the number of men, Gold expected it should be a large country rather than a small one.
The villagers gasped, knowing that a large country was attacking them. Their fear spread to the children, and one of them tried to run toward Gold, seeking safety in the herculean man. But the kid’s mother held onto her child in a panic. She pulled the kid away from the human.
Gold stayed quiet. The princess continued the discussion as if nothing had happened.
“…sir Hero, what shall be your intention?”
“Sister…” her younger brother whispered his disapproval at her inaction against the mother, but she ignored him, continuing to stare at Gold.
“…if they come, I’ll talk to them.” Gold replied.
If the human soldiers didn’t notice the village, all the better. Their marching course was slightly veering off the village, as a matter of fact. But then their scouts found the place, and unsurprisingly, they began heading directly for it.
The next day. As the troops approached the fence surrounding the hidden village, the voice of a man who appeared to be the company leader rang out in the forest.
“Hear me, demihumans! Our company belongs to the Second Division, Outer Western Front, Seize Kingdom! Our country had been assaulted by evil monsters called ‘dark pixies’, and we have been pursuing the fugitive responsible for summoning them. They were reported to have come here! Surrender peacefully, and allow us to do our investigation!”
Just as with any other country, Seize Kingdom was also suffering from attacks by the dark pixies suspected to have been summoned by prison escapists, criminals incarcerated for holding dangerous ideologies.
Their hideouts had been raided and scoured by investigators. The report had revealed that their goal was not simply sowing chaos in society and overthrowing governments with the dark pixies — they wanted power enough to destroy the system of nations itself. To that end, they were plotting to summon the Fairy King by using the dark pixies as a medium.
As the worldwide attacks all made use of the same summoning of dark pixies, the humans had determined that a single mastermind existed. Yet they could not find a single trace of this mastermind beside the name ‘Brian’.
Seize Kingdom had discovered one of the summoners’ hideout in the western forest. They had found the fugitive and several accomplices, but the criminals had all killed themselves with poison. The arrest was a failure. Then, the Second Division in charge of this mission had ordered two battalions to split into companies to comb over the forest as a special investigation task force. As eight companies combed through the enormous western woodland, one found traces of a camp left behind by a hunter. They cut their way into the forest depths, and there they found the hidden village.
Once the company leader was aware of the demihuman nature of the village, combined with the fact that the demihuman resistance was making trouble all over the world, he concluded that the village was related to the criminals he was pursuing. He came to the hidden village with an aggressive order of unconditional surrender for the villagers.
But the people appearing to answer him were only an elven girl who looked ten years of age and a well-built human man.
“I am Gold of Torrann! I ask, is there anyone here who know of my name?!”
The company leader widened his eyes upon hearing the name. It was the name of one of the Heroes, the Warrior, the man whose fame had spread throughout all of the human race. The company leader, himself a viscount, had had a single opportunity to see him several years earlier. He knew the Hero’s face.
“Oooh, sir Hero! What twist of fate brought you here? You should know this is the territory of Seize Kingdom. This is our land!”
This forest was over a thousand kilometers away from the westernmost village of the kingdom. It held not a single trace of the human race, and yet the company leader had shamelessly proclaimed it theirs. Gold faintly frowned, and he answered the man.
“In my journey to train myself, I had come to rely on the aid of this village. I swear to my own name that there is no such criminal here. I beseech you to seek elsewhere.”
“I apologize, but I cannot comply, even if you are the Hero. Our mission concerns the survival of our very own country, the Kingdom of Seize. As such, we cannot allow any foreign interference to our domestic matter… ah, but pardon me! Sir Gold no longer belonged to a country. Please, I ask forgiveness for my mistake.” The company leader said and bowed, his politeness without a trace of sincerity.
Gold was the oldest among the Heroes, and people had held him in high esteem for many years. Yet ever since his overwhelming failure to prevent the destruction of the Sapling and his country’s collapse — even if the country had been assaulted on two fronts at the same time by the Dark Lady Whitehare and the Troll King — military men and women of countries throughout the world now treated him with contempt and ridicule, thinking his power to have declined. The lower-ranked knights, those who had idolized the Heroes, were the most disappointed. The company leader even hated him, believing Gold to have betrayed their trust and expectations.
“…indeed, Torrann no longer existed, and I am no longer royalty. All the same, do you mean to say you cannot trust the words of a recognized Hero?”
“You say you still possess the Hero’s power? When you couldn’t even protect your country? At any rate, we have no intention to pin any crime on the demihumans, nor will any indiscriminate persecution happen to them.”
“In case we judge the village to be unrelated to the criminals, and as long as you pay tax to our country, then I shall entreat the Second Division commander to allow this settlement to continue existing. One hundred large gold coins. If you can’t pay, then turn yourselves into slaves to pay for it! Women, children, anyone who can move!”
Not just Gold, even the villagers staying behind were wide-eyed in disbelief.
At that moment, the hitherto silent elven girl spoke up and stepped forward.
“What now, little elven girl, something to say for yourself?”
“You claim this forest belongs to the human Seize Kingdom. However, this region is far away from human territory, and no humans wander here. Why do you say this land belongs to you?” The princess protested, dauntless before the company leader’s tyranny.
The man only scoffed.
“It’s decided in the international summit meeting, of course. Any land of the world is governed by the country that controlled the Sapling in the region. It’s how the world can have its stability.” The company leader said, naturally proclaiming that the whole world belonged only to the human race as if it was a matter of course.
The princess widened her eyes a fraction, then quietly closed them.
He spoke with arrogance, that was true, but she could see where he was coming from if she looked upon his words from the viewpoint of the human rulers. All living beings pursued territory, to find a place where the group could raise their young in safety and to expand it. This village had done the same — it was built upon territory stolen from wild animals. Calling only the human race ‘evil’ for doing what all life was doing wouldn’t be right, she thought.
But the human race had gone too far. They were completely rejecting coexistence with all life that held territories. In other words, the humans were making war with the whole world. It was the reason why even the World Tree, the pillar that propped up the world, had abandoned them.
But there was no point to her trying to explain all this to a simple military man of no importance. It’d just be meaningless words.
“Understood. We do not have human coins, though we do possess some mythril silver coins issued by the nation of elves. If it isn’t enough, then I shall surrender myself and my brother to be slaves… sir Hero, would you be our witness?”
The mythril silver coins of the elven nation were as big as large gold coins, and with their artistic value in consideration, were worth ten times as much. And the princess even offered herself as a slave in case it wasn’t enough, asking a Hero, one whose words held significant power, to witness the contract.
She could have appealed to Gold’s kindness and asked him to, if not kill them, then at least repel them, and he would have accepted. But the elven princess hadn’t allowed herself to so easily rely on the sword of a Hero. Her nobility and bravery struck Gold deep in his heart.
Yet the elven princess had taken the greed of mankind far too lightly.
“Is that what you want, elf girl? Fine, here’s a better deal: we’ll take all your villagers as slaves, your mythril silver coins, and any valuables you have. Then we’ll see what the Emperor has to say for your ‘wish’. Men, take them into custody!”
The princess was speechless. The human army began their march toward her. The earth shook with their steps.
“And you call yourself a knight?! You would raise your spear against the innocent?!” Gold shouted, enraged.
“What strange words you speak, sir Hero. Demihumans aren’t human. This is our land. Resources are there to be utilized.” The company leader said, his true thoughts finally laid bare.
Gold set his hand to his sword.
“Do my eyes betray me, sir Gold? Am I seeing a Hero about to oppose us? Are you not a Hero, a protector of the world?”
Gold’s breath hitched, himself rooted to the spot. The soldiers spared a glance at the man as they broke into the village. The princess, bound by the knights, was staring at Gold as if taking his measure.
The soldiers flooded the village, tying up demihumans one after another. Gold was paralyzed by his position of being the Hero.
And then a familiar voice of a kid rang out from deep inside the village.
The elven boy named Yol scampered toward Gold as soon as he saw him, as if running away from something frightening. Taken by surprise, one of the knights reflexively thrusted his spear. Before he could register what he saw, Gold was already jumping out.
Gold had once saved a human and left a demihuman to die. And now, he finally understood in truth the value of life as the Dark Lady had said to him.
There were no humans, no demihumans. There was just Gold trying to save a young child. He stood up, a bright aura surrounding him, the greatsword given by the princess now in his hands as if it’d always belonged there. And before the soldiers could realize what happened, Yol was already inside Gold’s arms, the knights and soldiers around him all mowed down by a single flash of his sword.
“Yol… have you been hurt?”
The company leader shouted.
“Sir Hero, what in the world are you doing?! You will be branded the worst traitor to the human race, Hero or not!”
Gold turned to look at the man, his eyes cleared of doubt. His smile regained the absolute confidence he once had in the past, and he readied his mythril greatsword.
“Indeed… I am not a Hero of humanity. I am a Hero of the world! And as the protector of all, I cannot let you commit such atrocities!”
Gold swung down, and the light of his greatsword cut down a third of the company. The company leader, bruised and battered, had to be carried off by his soldiers. They retreated.
The human threat was gone. Inside the village exploding with cheers, Gold silently knelt down before the princess.
“Princess… I am a man who knows nothing but fighting. Please, tell me the truth of the world.”
“Yes, I shall, our Hero.”
And so, the Warrior learned of the truth of this world and stood as the vanguard of the demihumans. In order to truly save the world, he chose the path of being an enemy of humanity.
AN: So the Warrior knows the truth now.
He’s dangerous against the humans too, but in a way, he also acts as a limiter to the resistance who’d been getting more and more radical.
With what’s happened, there’s been a small change in the power balance worldwide.