Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「Three Heroes + One」
Unfortunately, there was no way to say that the day the beastmen would be liberated was a beautiful one. The weather was the complete opposite of what such an occasion called for, with thick gray clouds hanging in the sky above the capital.
Since the city hadn’t been cleared of undead yet, many people were forced to stay in uncomfortable tents camps behind the inner wall.
However, the faces of the people didn’t reflect the gloomy atmosphere.
Stories of how the undead horde outside the city had been wiped out had spread throughout the populace, there was even talk among the citizens about forming search parties to hunt the remaining undead.
Many citizens had already volunteered to help destroy the remaining undead, the atmosphere was far from depressing and full of energy and liveliness.
According to Zahar, rumors of the beastmen being set free had intentionally been spread throughout the populace whenever talks about rebuilding the city came up, although the full story hadn’t been leaked.
I was wondering why they took such measures, but he politely explained the circumstances behind them to me.
“Before we arrived to rescue the city, the capital lacked the necessary manpower to defend the city, so all the beastmen slaves and those gathered for the church had been mobilized. Originally, it had been planned to hand them over to the church after the crisis had passed, but now there’s no need comply with their demands since the cardinal was exposed.”
Zahar had an unpleasant expression on his face as he spoke.
“Still, it’s possible that the beastmen will try to escape the capital. It’s possible that some them have already fled after yesterday’s battle had concluded. The King had to spread rumors in advance to prevent them from recklessly trying to escape the city.”
I nodded and muttered an affirmation after listening to what he had to say.
It would be an easy feat for the physically endowed beastmen to scale the inner wall and escape now that most of the undead were slain.
Still, it was a dangerous action to take nevertheless, enduring slavery didn’t leave much physical endurance in a person.
Ariane, Chiome, Ponta, Zahar and I were currently in the reception hall of a guest mansion that had been built near the palace, watching the garden below through a window.
Normally, the general public wouldn’t be allowed inside the royal palace, but a multitude of beastmen had been gathered in the large garden.
There were quite a few of them, though Zahar said that they didn’t exceed more than a thousand people.
It was obvious that the beastmen who voluntarily made their way here came to witness, with their own eyes and ears, the declaration that would affect their place within this country.
Then they’d be able to report back to their peers what they witnessed.
Chiome had been immersed in deep thought ever since she saw her brethren file into the garden.
Zahar gave her a sideways glance before bringing up what had happened yesterday.
“Chiome-dono, there is no excuse for Nina’s rude behavior yesterday.”
He was trying to apologize again, but Chiome’s blank expression remained unchanged. A look from Ariane told me that I would be our representative today.
“Chiome-dono doesn’t seem too worried about it, so don’t worry about it Xahar-dono. ……I haven’t seen Nina-dono today, is she with Princess Lille?”
Zahar scratched the back of his head and smiled bitterly when I asked about her whereabouts.
“She was punished by Lille-same after the incident and is still reflecting on her actions&hell
I heard a small sigh for the two other people listening to him.
When I looked at the two people in question, their eyes were suspiciously directed at the horizon.
“……So, Nina-dono was serious about it.”
I found myself imagining the still pre-pubescent princess chastising the female knight with a whip in hand, as I glanced back out the window.
The thought of Nina shouting “I’m sorry!” after the whip bit into her back made me blush and apologize in my heart for having such a daydream.
Either way, it seems Lille could be entrusted with Nina’s punishment, so I cleared those disgraceful thoughts from my head and asked Zahar another question.
“Zahar-dono, why is it that you don’t carry any malice towards the beastmen?”
Hearing my question, he offered me a small, self-depreciating smile.
“Unlike Nina, I don’t belong to the nobility. When I was a child, living in a small village, I met and befriended a beastman child and his community by chance in the nearby forest…… I earned their favor by informing them where and when a slave hunt would occur.”
As Zahar told me this, he nodded slightly and had a somewhat envious look on his face.
“Is that so……”
I wanted to ask him what his beastmen friend was up to now, but given his expression, it was probably better to avoid digging into what was obviously an unpleasant topic for him.
Eventually, guards carrying trumpet-like musical instruments silently entered the garden and began to blow into them.
The chatter below came to a stop as everyone’s attention was focused on one location.
King Asparuf, accompanied by two royal guards, stepped onto the balcony that overlooked the garden after the song played for fanfare came to an end.
One of the guards announced the King’s arrival with a shout.
“King Asparuf Nozan Soulia, of Nozan Kingdom!”
The majority of the beastmen gathered in the garden had never seen the King before, so whispers immediately sprung up within the crowd.
Meanwhile, King Asparuf slowly walked up to the railings and looked over the beastmen that had gathered down below before he began speaking.
“Thank you, everyone, for gathering here today. As you all know, our country faced an unprecedented crisis just the other day. While our fate was in God’s hand, it was due to the effort of the beastmen that we survived. On behalf of the country, you have my utmost gratitude.”
The beastmen looked at one another at the King’s show of appreciation.
They were confused because a human king, the apex of the nation, had just personally thanked beastmen for their help.
However, there were those who were disgusted when they heard the king’s words.
They must have been thinking that the only reason the king was being so generous was that the country had been in danger. Perhaps they thought that the words of a conniving king weren’t credible.
After all, only the bare minimum had come to this place since the majority of the beastmen assumed that this was a trap meant to recapture them.
Not to mention, that none of the armed guards that surrounded the garden spoke out against what the King was saying.
“You all have probably heard that the undead who were besieging the city have been almost completely annihilated. They vanished so abruptly that I was certain they would return to the capital in larger numbers.”
That rumor had definitely spread amongst the people…… it was said that almost every undead had been slain and the King confirming it to be true caused a small cheer to raise from the crowd.
“During this crisis, my daughter, Princess Lille became a messenger and invited three heroes from other countries to fight on our behalf. It is because of their strength and ability that I stand before you today. I swore to provide them the greatest reward their efforts warrant.”
The noise became louder as Asparuf continued to spin his yarn.
Unsurprisingly, the King proclaimed that three people were being rewarded for their achievements had everyone looking around in confusion.
The crisis the capital faced wasn’t a situation where just three people would have been able to make a difference…… some were already starting to doubt that the attack had even occurred.
However, those who had actually taken part in the war effort were quick to refute those claims since they’d actually seen the innumerable horde of undead besieging the city.
Besides, the primary source of their unease was why they had been gathered here to listen to the achievements of others.
For them, the three heroes and their being her were incompatible with one another.
Moreover, Princess Lille had been expressly identified as the messenger who had brought the heroes here…… if said heroes hadn’t been non-human mercenaries, they would’ve had no choice but to flee, considering the state of the country.
However, neither the inhabitants of the capital nor the citizens of the kingdom had been gathered in the garden.
The hundreds of beastmen who had gathered here were equivalent to the students of a single school gathering for an assembly, so I was a bit reliant to receive the hero’s mantle.
I would also like to refrain from being introduced to the rest of the capital’s populace like in such a manner.
“The reward which they asked for…… was the immediate release of all elven and beastmen slaves. Furthermore, they insisted that we outlaw the unjust enslavement of either of those races and that a befitting punishment is enacted for anyone breaking this law. Here and now, I swear that from this day forward, that the provisions of human law shall be applied to beastmen and elves as well!”
There was a moment of silence after Asparuf’s declaration before the crowd of beastmen erupted into cheers as the king quietly looked on.
It must have been difficult, given the conditions they faced till now, but the rumored slave emancipation had just been announced by the King himself.
Apparently, the story was easier to accept when there was an existence that thrust the liberation condition upon the country.
Naturally, the topic moved on to the three people who had laid down that condition.
“Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce these heroes! The elven knight from the Great Canada Forest, Arc Raratoia-dono! The elven warrior, Ariane Glenys Raratoia-dono!”
After Asparuf’s introduction, Ariane and I stepped onto the balcony and stood before the crowd below.
People immediately began to talk amongst themselves when we came out.
The course of this event had been prepared in advance, but I was unaccustomed to being the center of attrition.
Though I always caught the crowds’ attention when I walked down the street, coming off the King’s introduction and the sheer difference in scale was unnerving.
Some of them seemed to have seen our fight with Cardinal Palermo and began speaking about Ariane and me.
“Can we believe that elves would assist humans in a crisis?”
“Hey, hey, is that guy in the armor really an elf? I’ve never heard of an elf wearing armor before.”
Various people pointed at us and doubted my elven nature, or questioned why elves would lend humans a helping hand.
“Why is he hiding his face in front of an audience?”
“Idiot, it’s obvious. Not everyone wants to sell his face as a hero. He’s either trying to hide his identity, or he’s too ugly to look at.”
Someone in the crowd tried to ease the general worry, but their guesses were far off because there was only a skeleton in this armor.
“Finally, the representative of the Jin Shin Clan*, Chiome-dono!”
Chiome was the same as usual, but she was covering her mouth with her face mask. I wonder, was that to uphold her dignity as a ninja, or to hide her tension?
The ones below were stunned when Asparuf introduced Chiome.
“Did he say the Jin Shin clan?”
“Have they ever come to this country before!? Are we truly free!?”
As the name of the “Blade Heart Clan” spread among the beastmen, exhilaration began to take over their expressions, whereas I was surprised that they even knew that name.
Chiome’s tail swayed as she gazed upon the crowd below.
Asparuf was content with letting the celebration occur for a while, before ordering the minstrels to play a short piece to let him regain their attention.
“Those in the capital shall be the first to be released, and once the latest affairs are put in order, beastmen in the surrounding cities shall be freed as well. Furthermore, Chiome-dono is recruiting beastmen to migrate to new lands. If you are interested in the offer, details will be posted in the near future. That is all.”
With Asparuf’s declaration complete, the people excitedly discussed everything they’d heard as they left the garden under the guards’ instruction.
I started up a conversation with Chiome-dono while seeing them off.
“Migrating to new lands…… how many are you expecting to come, Chiome-dono?”
“Fifty to a hundred at first…… since the new village isn’t ready to accept normal people, men that can survive harsh environment will be given top priority.”
Ariane simply shrugged and sighed at her answer.
“Looks like the place will become even stuffier, isn’t it……”
When I remembered the current state of the village, I realized it might be a dangerous place for Ariane to visit.
I doubted they could do anything to Ariane, but the number of injured we’d have to deal with when she lost her patience with them wouldn’t be worth it.
A panicked guard rushed to the King’s side while I was thinking that potential situation over.
Zahar promptly stopped the guard and spoke to him in a business-like manner.
“Halt! State your business with the His Majesty.”
“Messengers from Salma Kingdom’s Branier Territory have arrived, Margrave Branier requests an audience with the King. How should we proceed?”
Asrapuf stepped forward with a incredulous look on his face when he heard that report.
“Wait, are they really messengers from the Branier territory?”
Under the King’s direct questioning, the guard retrieved a letter from a breast pocket and began speaking in a high pitched voice.
“I beg for your forgiveness! I forgot about the letter the Margrave’s people had been carrying! And to answer your question, the people claiming to be messengers rode under a banner that definitely had the Margrave’s coat of arms!”
Zahar took the letter from the guard and confirmed the wax seal pushed onto it.
Ariane realized something after watching their exchange play out.
“Isn’t that the territory we passed through on our way here? The place where that group of soldiers had been attacked by undead……”
Zahar and I both remembered when she said that.
Honestly, yesterday had been so busy that that felt like a distant memory now.
Zahar quickly went to King Asrapuf’s side, whispered what he knew into his ear, and stepped back after handing him the letter.
“…… What, Lille gave that kind of order? Did the monsters enter the Margrave’s territory because they were chasing Lille, or for some other reason? The Margrave is different from the ignorant nobles in their capital, maybe he already figured out that Lille has crossed his territory. What is his intention……”
Asrapuf muttered as he broke the way seal and quickly read the context of the letter.
He was immediately shocked by what he read.
“What does Margrave Branier want??”
Zahar unintentionally questioned the king when he saw the change in the king’s expression.
Asrapuf remained lost in the letter for a moment before raising an eyebrow.
“It seems like they are about to face a crisis…… There’s no greeting, only a request to have an informal chat with me is written. Ignoring every formality as if……”
The King’s voice trailed off as he set his eye upon the guard that delivered the letter.
“I will answer the Margrave’s request. I am sorry Arc-dono, but I’ll be taking my leave today.”
Asrapuf left in a hurry after apologizing for his abrupt exit.
“Hmm, something seems off about this……”
Ponta tilted her head to the side when those words slipped from my mouth after the King’s footsteps became a distant echo.
Ariane didn’t seem to mind it and simply stroked Ponta’s tail.
However, Chiome’s cat ears stood straight up, signaling that she’d caught on to the same thing I had.
Chiome and I looked towards the grey sky above the city, the low hanging clouds seemingly even more oppressive than before.