It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (48/85), enjoy~
In the central square of the town, Ain was sitting on a comfortable bench. Nearby, the royal knights were preparing the magic weapons and adjusting their equipment.
Fortunately, the wind was light, and there was only a light dusting of snow. The weather was not a hindrance to the march, and there was no change in the plan.
From behind the bench, Dill spoke to him.
“There will be no delay, Ain-sama. Soon, the royal knights will be heading for the lake first. Ain-sama will be leaving the city with me, my father, and the rest of the royal knights.”
“Right on schedule. What about the adventurers?”
“They are preparing to defend the town as planned.”
“So it’s just a short break for now.”
Ain let out a breath and relaxed his body. He turned his face to the skull of the ogre on the distant hill.
“It’s really big; those fangs could still be used for something.”
“I think so. They are sharp and heavy, so just throwing them around would be enough of a weapon.”
“That’s right. If you cut the bone that holds the jaw in place, the mouth will close, and a wyvern will be cut in half.”
“I guess the question is, can it be used that way?”
“Oh, and it looks heavy.”
After a leisurely conversation, Dill changed his tone of voice.
“…Now that you mention it, I think you should stop.”
“It’s as I promised. If the Upashikamui doesn’t attack me, I’ll definitely come back to this town. In that case, the magic weapons we brought will be dispersed, and we will prepare for another attack.”
“I know that. I’m speaking on that basis.”
“Ain-sama, let me remind you that you are the crown prince.”
Then Dill put his face close to Ain.
“──You are the one who absolutely must live, even if it costs a thousand people. Even if my father or I die, even if all the royal knights lose their lives.”
“The fact that Baltic will be devastated and Ishtalika as a whole will lose Ain-sama. There’s no comparison.”
“I’m sorry, but Dill’s words are just a little bit wrong.”
Ain stood up and stretched his back. He made a pleasant noise and put his hands on his hips to watch over the royal knights.
“I’m not going to lose; even if I was the target, I’m not going to lose.”
“But just in case…!”
“I’ll be fine.”
Dill was pressured by the strong and occasional supremacy that Ain showed.
“I’m already used to coming back from the dead.”
The sun was slowly setting. There were few clouds in the sky, and the visibility was good.
There were less than twenty people in the Ain’s group. In addition to Ain, Lloyd, and Dill, the rest are all the royal knights.
Until today, Ain had intended to enjoy the scenery of the Baltic. However, there was no room for that at the moment.
Lloyd, who was walking in the lead, noticed the presence of a monster.
“Hou, isn’t that an eight-eyed rabbit?”
“Eh, what’s that?”
“Look over there.”
In the direction Lloyd pointed, there was a huge rabbit that looked as big as a horse-drawn carriage. But it’s no ordinary rabbit; it has eight eyes on its face.
“It is called the eight-eyed rabbit because of its appearance.”
“Heh… It looks delicious, but is it strong?”
“Two royal knights could easily take it on. They taste very good, but they don’t fight unless their life is in danger, and with their natural ability to run away, they are quick to leave. Because of this, there is never much meat on the market, and most of it is consumed before it reaches the royal capital.”
After Lloyd’s explanation, Dill said with a dumbfounded look.
“By the way, Ain-sama, at a time like this, why are you concerned about taste more than anything else?”
“Lloyd-san, Dill is just as strict as usual.”
“I can’t comment on that….”
There was laughter among the royal knights. The atmosphere became a little calmer.
It was only a few minutes after leaving the town of Baltic, but the thread of tension was stretched to the very edge.
There was no telling when the Upashikamui would attack, or even if some other monster would attack, and they could not afford to let their guard down even a little.
Then, the eight-eyed rabbit ran away.”
“Aaaaah! Our food…!”
Although he spoke lightly and daringly, he was immediately aware of something strange in the atmosphere.
“It looks like I was right.”
“Indeed. I’m both happy and disappointed… I can only imagine how frustrating this must be ── Everyone, run!”
As soon as the order was given, everyone started running at once. It’s not cobblestone, nor is it dirt, but it’s a better match than the beach. The snow that had piled up around them was up to their ankles, making it difficult for everyone to run.
The ground shook.
A cold sweat ran down everyone’s spine as a huge presence loomed behind them.
“Hah… hah…! Lloyd-san! How long do we have until the lake?”
“I’m sure at this speed it won’t take more than ten minutes!”
“That’s great! All that training I’ve been doing every day is paying off!”
“Yes! I just thought that when I get back to the capital, I’ll make a proposal to His Majesty about snowfield training! It’s not as if there won’t be another opportunity like this!”
“I’ll join you then! For the next time!”
The two of them emphasized the word “next time” as a sign of their determination to return alive.
Dill and the royal knights all nodded their heads and put their strength into their feet. However, they were growing tired, their breathing was labored from the pain of the snow, and they were close to running out of breath.
The only hope was the advance party heading for the lake. Even the thought that they had already been hunted down and killed by the Upashikamui was not something they wanted to think about for a second.
Finally, the roar reached them.
It was a cry that sounded like a wail, a cry of grief. That was exactly like the wyvern that Viscount Sage had with him last year.
The trees in the area shook greatly as the angry shout pierced their cheeks. Before long, the weather worsened, and the snow clouds that covered the sky grew in strength.
“Ain-sama! It has that much power! No matter how many wounds His Majesty the First has inflicted on it, its singular strength cannot be underestimated!”
Soon, they could even hear the Upashikamui breathing. The screeching creak of the trees being pushed aside and the sound of the ground being gouged out as it advanced drove the terror into them.
Perhaps he was too nervous about the oncoming enemy. One of the royal knights lost his footing on the snowy ground due to exhaustion.
In a matter of seconds, the Upashikamui had closed the distance.
“That’s…! It is a monster that escaped from His Majesty the first… and…”
There is nothing to be afraid of! Ain was about to shout vigorously. However, the royal knights turned around and saw the Upashikamui.
The huge body and bloodshot eyes… and…
It swung up its strong, rigid legs with an angry shout.
Ain stopped and turned around to look at the royal knights. At a distance of more than 20 meters, he saw the stout face of a royal knight who was about to be crushed like a bug, ready to die.
And then, for the first time, he saw the figure of the Upashikamui.
Just how big is it? It was not as big as a sea dragon, but it was as big as a small fort.
The front legs are thicker and more muscular than the back legs. The scales covering its entire body are like light-colored sapphires. At the end of its long tail, there were several long spines that were several meters long.
Its face was like that of a dinosaur, and its head itself was larger than that of a common house.
“It was so big!”
…Such a huge body.
A royal knight on the ground would be as small as a man petting a puppy.
(It only has one eye? And the wings on its back are…)
There was a sense of discomfort in the Upashikamui’s body that Ain saw.
The first thing he noticed was that one of its eyes was missing. The back and the pair of wings were not normal. There was no wing membrane, just the asymmetrical skeleton of a wing.
He thought back to the conversation he had with Lloyd in which he predicted that the Upashikamui’s body would have scars from the battle with the first king.
(I don’t even want to think about a monster like that flying!)
If it had attacked from the sky, there would have been nothing left. The strength of the first king, who took away one of its eyes and hunted it down until its wings stopped functioning, was simply astonishing.
No matter how damaged the body is, crushing a fallen knight is like breathing.
Lloyd grabbed Ain’s hand and ran off. There is no way to save the knight; that’s what Lloyd was telling him.
But Ain shook off his hand.
“He’s the one who came with me! I’m not going to abandon him!”
This decision was probably a mistake. He should have abandoned him and run to the lake using the fallen knight as bait.
However, he still couldn’t separate the situation.
A deep fog rides the wind around Ain’s arm.
It quickly reached the side of the royal knight and the Upashikamui, who were far away, and the Upashikamui was puzzled by this strange situation.
It was late to swing its front legs down, and the knight stood up and started running.
Meanwhile, a thick fog clung to the Upashikamui’s face and wouldn’t dissipate.
“It’s a thick fog of the Black Fawn. It should not be a skill that moves in such a mysterious way!”
“I don’t know! But I was able to do it consciously!”
It’s hard to get the point across, but it was the result of desperate action.
From behind him, the royal knight from earlier shouted.
“Why did you save me? You shouldn’t stop!”
“If you don’t want me to stop, all you have to do is not stop! Then everyone will reach the lake safely! Nothing difficult about that!”
In response to his forceful words, the royal knight burst into tears. He wiped the tears from his eyes and thought of Ain, who was running near the front of the line.
“You’ll get a sermon when you get back to the inn!”
“It can’t be helped! But Lloyd-san’s sermon is going to be hard, so please be gentle with me!”
“Well, I can’t make any promises!”
In the meantime, the distance between them and the Upashikamui was growing apart again.
Whether it was afraid of the dense fog covering its face or just trying to shake it off, the Upashikamui was swinging its front legs vigorously, reaping the trees around it.
But it won’t last long. As soon as the fog disappears, it will come right back for Ain.
“That’s enough; we can make it to the lake!”
Everyone nodded at Ain’s encouragement and began to torment their legs, which were shaking with fatigue.
The advance party was safely waiting for them at the lake at the end of the run.
Seeing Ain’s group struggling to get through the forest, the royal knights began to prepare to fire the magic weapon and the magic stone cannon at once.
“It’s coming into sight!”
“Yes! I’m relieved to see that the advance team is safe and sound.”
This is because of the wounds left by the first king.
“The first king’s wounds are the reason for this. Now we must lure the Upashikamui into the lake!”
After that, they would fire the magic stone cannon into the lake. It will break and melt the hard ice and block the movement of the Upashikamui as it falls into the water.
“I’ll just have to run like this. It would be great if I could run on the ice of the lake and use the magic stone cannon when I get to the end.”
“D-don’t be stupid!”
“I’m not stupid or a fool; the Upashikamui is after me!”
Lloyd flinched at the truth.
“It’s nothing compared to what the Sea Dragon did! We can all breathe, and we have magic stone cannons! We have Lloyd-san and Dill, and we have so many royal knights!”
“Even with all this power, it’s still impossible? We are talking about the best land forces in Ishtalika.”
It’s like a provocation.
Ain’s eyes turned sharply, which gave a glimpse of challenging emotion. It’s a self-centered word that he would certainly never have said under normal circumstances. However, it certainly resonated in Lloyd’s mind.
“Then, Lloyd here, I will make time for you to run through it.”
The tone of his voice was full of fighting spirit, something he had never shown until today. It was the same as when Ain first met Sylvird, a battle-hardened air that affected him to the depths of his body.
“Make time? How?”
“I’m imitating Ain-sama. …Dill! No matter what happens, stay by Ain-sama’s side!”
Leaving the two runnings, Lloyd stopped near the lake.
He pulled out the greatsword on his back and closed his eyes. He could sense the presence of the approaching Upashikamui, but the voices of the royal knights and Ain and the others did not reach his ears in the slightest.
He looked focused in a way that even his only son, Dill, had never seen before.
At the same time, the Upashikamui came through the forest and caught sight of Ain.
“Don’t be hasty; your opponent is me.”