It’s Ko-Fi Supporters’ chapter (2/23), enjoy~
Building the encampment took much longer than expected. Aside from the bonfires and fences that had been added as a precaution against monsters, the cold was making their hands too numb to work.
By the time the camp was set up, the sun had already set, and after a quick meal, there was no time to rest as the soldiers patrolled the area. Now, the soldiers patrolling the area were rubbing their hands together in their winter gear.
Beside them, Hiro was lying down on the snowfield, looking up at the night sky. Earlier, Munin and Hugin had been with him as guards, but they had returned to the tents, unable to bear the cold.
“Your Highness Hiro, if you stay here, you will freeze to death. Please return to your tent…”
This was the fifth warning. This is how many times the soldiers have told him to return to his tent.
“I’m sorry, I just want to look at the stars for a little while longer.”
He felt warm as if he were surrounded by spring air, thanks to the protection of the Heavenly Emperor as well as the fact that he was wearing the Black Princess Camellia, so Hiro didn’t have to worry about the cold.
“Is that so…? Then please return as soon as done.”
The soldier, with a quizzical expression on his face, turned around several times and went back to his patrol.
Hiro tried to look up again.
“Do you like the night sky?”
Hiro sat up and turned his eyes in that direction.
“Sorry to interrupt your private time. I just wanted to talk to you in private when no one else was around.”
Selene was standing there. As soon as he approached Hiro, he sat down next to him.
“So I ask you again, do you like the night sky?”
“…Well, I’ve always liked to look at the stars.”
“I see; I don’t like it so much. The stars are beautiful, but they only shine for a limited time. So I don’t like them very much because they seem so fleeting.”
Selene raised one hand to the sky and looked at the stars with a distant look.
“I think you’re like that. You’re standing on a precarious equilibrium.”
“How can you be so sure? You don’t know anything about me.”
“I do. I know because your story is well known up here in the north. Those who punish troops for looting in the Principality of Lichtine and abuse prisoners of war are not tolerated, even if they are nobles. The strictness of your military discipline is rumored to even among the northern nobility.”
At the same time, Selene lowered his eyes sadly.
“It’s a hard way to live, I guess. You’re doing it for the people, for the country, for someone else, it sounds good, but it’s all for the people, and that doesn’t include you.”
“I think that’s what a member of the imperial family, a person who stands above others, should be doing…”
“That’s it; your words are too pure. There is no contradiction; there is no compromise.”
Selene stood up, stretched, and sighed heavily.
“I hope you don’t make the same mistake as your ancestor, the God of War. He was an idealist just like you, but he was too pure-hearted to be broken.”
It is a truth that is not recorded in history, a stain that was buried in the dark a thousand years ago.
“I do not know the details of what happened. One day, he changed his mind and launched a brutal strategy, conquering his enemies with a vicious attack.”
Selene continued to look up at the night sky, his voice quivering with sadness.
“He was nicknamed “The Slaughter King,” and now, a thousand years later, he is feared by other nations as The Endless Despair.”
Hiro closed his mouth as he tried to ask why Selene knew about this.
(…..This person is also different and may stand in front of me one day.)
Hiro can’t show his weakness.
“I may be making this up, but I did give you a heads up. Well then, I think I’ll go rest.”
Hiro stared at the two swords on his hips until Selene’s figure disappeared into the darkness.
“I’d rather lose and lose something ― so I’ll keep winning no matter what.”
Hiro muttered as he stood up and walked over to the tent. Once inside, the warmth enveloped him. Hiro looked around and saw two figures in his obsidian eyes.
Leaning against the entrance, Munin and Hugin were asleep.
Hiro smiled and climbed into the blanket that had been prepared for him and began to sleep. As Hiro fell into a deep sleep, something strange began to happen to his chest.
To be precise, a talisman hidden in his chest ― handed to him by the First Emperor Altius ― began to overflow with everlasting darkness, as if a miasma were spewing from it.
The darkness, which had been blending into the air without anyone noticing, began to wrap itself around Hiro’s sleeping limbs and swelled rapidly.
Then ― it enveloped the world.
It was on a cliff, with rain pouring down. The droplets of rain that hit the earth and sand seeped into the ground. With the void dominated by clouds, no moonlight reaches the ground.
“Oh―… It’s a lie! Why, why! How could you?”
As the rain sounded, a young man’s wailing rang out in the dark night.
The young man was holding a woman in his arms, her beautiful golden hair losing its shine as it was covered in mud. More importantly, her face was as pale as a dead person’s, and blood was dripping from the edge of her mouth, which had turned purple. The boy pulled out the spear that pierced her body and shouted to the sky.
“How can this be! How could this happen!”
The sky did not respond. The only thing that happens is that the thunder rumbles, and the rain gets stronger.
“…She didn’t do anything; why should she be sacrificed?”
The black-clad young man pulled the woman into his arms, buried his face in her neck, and cried out. He repeatedly apologized and regretted his stupidity in not being able to save her.
“O, King! Our king! Now is not the time to grieve. For her sake, we must proceed!”
The five generals kneeling behind the young man ― one of them trembled in his voice. The reason his body was shaking was not because he was cold or because the rain had drenched him.
It was because the murderous energy radiating from the young king had pierced his body.
“O, King! Please calm your anger now. Don’t let your judgment be clouded.”
“I know, I know, Rox. I’m quite calm, even to my own surprise.”
The next thing he knew, the woman had disappeared from the young man’s arms. The only thing left in his hand was a black sword.
The five generals were taken aback by the strange event, but they quickly came to their senses.
“What the hell is a peaceful solution…? Haha, this is what you get for making concessions.”
The man called Rox stiffened when he saw the young man’s face as he stood up. The young man was laughing, crying, tears streaming down his cheeks, a thin smile on his face; it’s so distorted.
“I will carve into every single one of their bodies who they have offended and who they have dealt with.”
“P-please wait! You can’t do that――.”
“Rox, I understand how you feel, but I have no more words to say.”
“Please, have mercy on them! Please, please, I beg of you! Your Majesty Schwartz!”
The young man started to walk away from the voice that tried to stop him. And then he stopped. When he looked down from the edge of the cliff, he saw that a large army, probably more than 100,000 strong, was waiting for him.
“God of war! God of war! God of war! God of war! God of war!”
The soldiers who recognized the young man’s figure clapped their swords and cheered. The cheers, which had once been invigorating, were now only empty.
“God of War! God of war! God of war! God of war! God of war! God of war!”
The light was fading from the young man’s eyes. Deep sadness took over him. His heart would never be filled again; it would never be moistened; it would continue to thirst.
“The path of kings has been cut off. All that is left is the path of supremacy.”
The young man with the black sword raised swung his arm down vigorously and held it horizontally, issuing the king’s command.
“My army, the Raven Army. Quench your thirst with the blood of the enemy!”
The boy pointed the tip of his sword at the capital of the enemy nation and smiled a cruel smile.
Ever since his conversation with Selene, Hiro has been having trouble sleeping. He had vivid dreams. The memories of what happened were frightening to the point of being terrifying.
When Hiro pried open his heavy eyelids, he could see the scenery outside the window. The earth was completely white. It was covered with snow.
Hiro narrowed his eyes. The snowfield reflected the morning sun, making the light even more intense.
October 9, 1023rd year of the Imperial Calendar.
Hiro and the others had crossed the border of the Levering Kingdom as planned. Currently, they are staying a little further away ― near the border.
“I think I will take my leave here. It’s been a short but very enjoyable journey.”
“It’s been a good time, too.”
“I’ll be watching for your future plans.”
Hiro felt slightly uncomfortable with these words, but he remained silent and waited for the rest of the conversation.
“I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, and I present you with this.”
Selene held out a red flower to him as he exited the carriage.
“It’s a special flower that only blooms in the north. It’s called ‘lotus.'”
As Hiro’s eyes widened in surprise, Selene climbed onto the back of the horse and turned it around.
“See you next time. I’ll invite you to my pride and joy, the White Silver Castle.”
Just as he had done when he first appeared, Selene galloped away. Hiro cut his gaze from Selene’s back and sighed deeply when he saw the lotus given to him.
“A flower that only blooms in the north…”
“Wise brother? It seems that your complexion is not good. Are you feeling bad?”
He shook his head in response to Hugin’s concern for Hiro.
“I’m sorry, it’s nothing. Let’s get going.”
Hiro hid the lotus in his pocket and ordered the coachman to depart. Eventually, they arrived at the Levering Kingdom’s security checkpoint, but an unexpected person was waiting for them.
“Envoy from the Great Grantz Empire, thank you for coming all the way from the Great Imperial Capital. We will be your escorts from here on out.”
His body was much bigger than that of a human, and his armored figure reminded one of a warrior. His skin is white, and his demon blood is thin, but the magic power that permeated through his body was unfathomable.
“I am Haniel Van Wenzel, one of the Three Demon Generals.”
The Three Demon Generals are the guardians of the Levering Kingdom and the general term for the most powerful warriors. Their extraordinary fighting prowess is known as far south as the Principality of Lichtine.
“I am the protector of the demons.”
He knelt down in front of Hiro and pulled out the sword he had at his waist. He grasped the hilt with his left hand and lifted it high above his head with the blade in his right hand.
“It is a great pleasure to meet the descendant of the God of War, whom our ancestor King Rox van Levering worshipped as his king.”
“It’s an honor for me to meet one of the three famous demon generals.”
Then, after telling him to ease up, Haniel put his sword back on his hip and stood up. Hiro smiled cheerfully and then looked at the sword at his waist.
“Is that the rumored demon sword that is given to the three demon generals?”
The three demon generals, who are the guardians of the Levering Kingdom, are given a national treasure ― a special weapon called a demon sword.
“This is the demon sword, Auto Claire.”
Haniel proudly tapped the hilt of his sword. A large purple crystal, which is the source of magic power, is embedded in the sword’s hilt. The magic power felt from Haniel must have been supplied from there.
“It has a strange shape, huh?”
There are three large cavities on the sword. There was a large cavity in the center of the blade, one at each end of the flange.
“I’ve heard that it’s the oldest demon sword ever created. So it seems to have some unique characteristics.”
Hiro narrowed his eyes and only muttered, “I see.” Haniel doesn’t seem to know the final form. However, Hiro, who remembers those days, knows the final form of the demon sword Auto Claire.
There was no way he could forget his former subordinate, Rox, with whom he had fought through the turbulent times.
(It’s not for me to say. If this is the way it is now, then so be it.)
If the original form is not conveyed, Hiro’s pointing out will bring unwanted quarrels to the Levering Kingdom. It was not his intention to disrupt the country that his former subordinate had founded. As the conversation died down, Haniel started to string his words together.
“His Majesty is looking forward to meeting the descendant. I apologize for rushing you, but… we should be leaving soon.”
“Yes, we are ready to go.”
When Hiro looked around, Driks nodded.
The carriages carrying the high-ranking officials started to run towards the entrance one after another. Hiro also got into the carriage where Munin and the others waited and gave the coachman instructions to depart.
“The weather is fine today, so we should be in the capital by evening at the latest.”
Haniel, who had peeked in through the window, said.
“I understand. Please take care of us until then.”
“I assure you that the journey will be safe. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
Haniel left. Then Driks opened his mouth.
“Fumu, one of the three demon generals, is going to be your guide… So you’re treated as a guest of honor.”
“Of course. It’s not surprising since the wise brother is a descendant of the God of War!”
It’s not Hiro who said it, but Hugin.
She has a very belligerent attitude towards everyone but Hiro. Because her attitude is so blatantly obvious, many people say that she is cocky when she has the ability to do so. In fact, Driks glared at Hugin in disgust when the words that lacked character were thrown at him.
“Hugin-dono, you are a woman, you should have a little more discretion――.”
“Shut up, the only people who can give me orders are the wise brother and my older brother.”
“What is your rank――?”
“I’m in wise brother’s private army, so it doesn’t matter.”
Driks gnashed his teeth in frustration. Next to him, Munin bowed his head apologetically. It would be a problem if the atmosphere were to turn sour, so Hiro decided to proceed with the conversation.
“Well, the truth is, you were probably skeptical.”
“What do you mean?”
Hugin tilted his head. Hiro replied in a low voice.
“If it were just a high-ranking official, there would be no need for the three generals to come. The three demon generals have the support of the people. The king trusts them, and their status is that of prime minister. So, if it were just a high-ranking official, it would only be a matter of sending someone of a certain rank to pick them up.”
Hiro said, and Driks agreed.
“If the descendant of the ‘God of War’ that the Ancestor King Rox served ― and if the royal family is really coming, they probably thought it would be rude not to have a Prime Minister level as a representative.”
“So that’s how it is.”
Although a person from the Grantz imperial family has come to the country, if it is treated indifferently, it will not only incur the wrath of the people of the Grantz Empire but may also affect the surrounding nations.
The Levering Kingdom is currently in a state of excitement because the princess’ coming of age ceremony is approaching. They don’t want to put a damper on that situation.
“There should be no such thing as bad treatment. Let’s just hope it all goes well.”
Hiro looked out the window. It was a quiet scene with only a blanket of snow. However, the uneasiness that had been building in his heart only grew and would not go away.