It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (107/119), enjoy~
It was raining that day.
The endless rain continued to fall until the end of the day when the thunderbolt roared.
“Aa… Aaahh! Liar, liar, liar!”
The sky was raging, the ground was shaking with the roar, and the roaring wind oppressed the world.
A young man’s voice was crushed as he cried out. But he continued to raise his voice despite the thunder.
“Why, why, why are you…?”
But his voice did not reach out. The wind drowned it out, the raindrops bounced it, and it disappeared into the sky.
The rain that pounded the young man’s body, exposed to the violent wind, had an effect similar to poison. It gradually drains the young man’s body heat, and eventually, his breath turns white, and his face turns pale from the cold.
The cold air was about to cover the ground as if he was trapped in an ice world.
Then it is natural that the woman he is holding will also have her body heat scraped away in the same way.
“…Please don’t ― don’t hurt her anymore.”
His desperate plea was also mocked as it was bounced by the rain and dissipated. The relentless freezing raindrops kept pouring down on the woman.
The young man tried desperately to protect her, but his small back could not keep her safe.
“Rey… Rey… open your eyes. Please… I beg you. I want to hear your voice.”
There were probably many other things he wanted to say.
If he had remained calm, if he had maintained his composure, he would have had more to say than he could say. But when he realized that the light of her life was fading, his mind was filled with blankness, and everything was gone.
“Why is this happening to me? Why does she have to be sacrificed?”
The young man held her close to him as if to chain her soul together, even though he knew it was useless. He buried his face in her neck and cried inarticulately like a child who did not want to be separated from his mother.
“Someone… someone… Please.”
No one responds. But still, he couldn’t help but pray.
“I’ll do anything… Someone―…”
No one could help him. But still, he couldn’t help but pray.
“Please save her!”
No one can help her. Even so, he couldn’t help but ask.
Even if his prayers ended in vain, even if his wishes were cruelly shattered, the young man never gave up and kept asking. There must be a way to save her. He continued to search desperately.
“R-right… Spirit king! You must be able to save her. Spirit King, you’re looking at me, right? Save her! It’s not hard for you to chain a soul to this world!”
But the moment he looked up at the sky, he knew there would be no miracle.
Black clouds swirled in the sky and looked down at the ground, and the storm that was brewing grew more and more threatening.
As if in inverse proportion, the woman’s chest rose and fell shallowly ― the blood overflowing from the wound disappeared with her breath as it was washed away by the rain. The young man’s face is stained with despair, and the lightning strikes light up his face.
“N-no, I don’t want it, I don’t want it, I don’t want it!”
His throat ripped open with a cry, his windpipe clogged with his breath, and his breathing stopped with a sob.
His heart raced for oxygen, but he clawed at his chest, and the young man refused to live.
“Ah, aah, aaah… ― ah!”
He swore to live with her. Therefore, his heart was broken.
He swore that he would rescue her. That’s why his soul was broken.
The young man wailed in order to deny the unacceptable reality, the unacceptable truth, everything.
“Ah, aah, ah, aaaaaaahh!”
That day ― the young man’s soul died.
Chapter 1 – The Small Country of Baum
“…It’s time to wake up.”
Hiro jumped off his bed before he could even open his eyes when he heard a loud voice.
At that moment ― the sound of destruction shook his ears. The terrifying sound was so powerful that it shook him to his core.
Hiro couldn’t hear the person’s clicking tongue. It’s because he was being driven by the blast and was rolling around on the floor with vigor.
Hiro stopped when his head slammed into the wall and opened his eyes in the same position.
In front of his gold and black iridescent eyes, he saw a woman with stagnant eyes standing there with a giant hammer in her hand.
“It’s you again…”
Hiro sat down on the floor, patting his head, and gave the woman a disgusted look in the dusty room. However, she didn’t seem to take offense and stood there looking down at Hiro.
“You dodged it well, didn’t you…?”
With the bed shattered behind him, Hiro sighed pitifully and stood up.
“It’s been two years now. It’s about time you gave up…”
“I believe the condition for working with you was that I could try to kill you at any time.”
Her words were laced with sternness, and her whole body exuded a cat-like wariness that she had no intention of getting along with.
“I did say that, though, didn’t I?”
It was understandable, as it was not unreasonable considering her feelings. But he could at least complain about the disturbance to his restful sleep.
“…It’s not easy to relax when your life is threatened like this every morning.”
Hiro reached into the shattered bed and probed for his mask but was kicked away.
“…Why did you kick it?”
“Because there was a mask there.”
“…You seem to have an unusual hobby.”
He smiled at her with a straight face, then went to the window to pick up the mask that had flown away.
“The weather is beautiful. Though it wasn’t the most refreshing morning.”
He suddenly looked through the window and saw that the sky was as blue as the ocean.
A flock of birds swam gracefully in the clear sky. They must be heading west, east, and eventually across the sea. As if to ridicule those who are bound to the ground, they fly freely and unobstructed, resting on their fancy, aiming for a new heaven and new land.
It was May 20th, the 1026th year of the Imperial Calendar.
Hiro, who had parted ways with the Grantz Empire two years ago, was hiding out in the small country of Baum on the eastern edge of the central continent. He was staying in a room in a temple called the “Temple of the Spirit King” in the only city in the small country of Baum, a medium-sized city called Natua ― the room where Hiro once spent time with Liz.
“Please return Eagle to me. And then I’ll disappear from your sight.”
The woman who had been acting aggressively towards Hiro since a while ago was Luca Mamon de Urpeth.
She was a former general of one of the six nations located on the western edge of the central continent, the Urpeth Kingdom.
Two years ago, during the invasion of the Great Grantz Empire, her brother was killed in battle and trapped by a desire for revenge; she went on a rampage to the point of collapsing the western part of Grantz. In the end, however, she was prevented by Liz, and the hatred simmering deep in her belly had nowhere to go.
Hiro took advantage of her emotions and brought her into his group, but there was no way she could remain calm in the face of the person who killed her brother, and as such, she came back to try to kill him every day.
So, for the past two years, she has been coming to kill Hiro every single day nonstop.
“Well, I did say that if you can’t stand it, you can kill me and take my life, though.”
He never expected to have his life threatened at all times.
Hiro smiled and walked over to Luca, brushing the dust off his white cloak.
“I told you that I would give you hope when the time came.”
He smiled at her, close enough for their noses to touch. Despite this sudden event, Luca’s expression does not change at all. In fact, she glared straight at Hiro.
“Until then, you have to follow my orders. That’s one of the conditions. Do you understand?”
As Hiro said with a smile, Luca’s eyes became even sharper.
“I know that. I don’t need to be told that over and over again. I’ve been following all your instructions for two years now.”
“I am grateful to you for that. Keep up the good work.”
Hiro patted Luca on the shoulder and put on the mask with a practiced hand.
In the meantime, the giant hammer in Luca’s hand ― the Vajra Mallet, one of the Five Destructive Holy Principle Swords refined by the Fairy King ― has disappeared.
“So you’re not just here to kill me, are you?”
Hiro looked at Luca again. As a former princess, she is a beautiful woman.
However, half of her body was burned to the point that one would want to turn away from her, and one of her arms was also lost in a fight with Hiro two years ago. With that in mind, it made sense that she would continue to target her hated enemy, Hiro, every day.
But unfortunately, she had not been able to inflict even a scratch on Hiro.
“Fuh, 90% of my goal was to do so, but I have a message from the shrine maiden knight.”
In spite of the harsh tone of voice, she honestly fulfilled the role of messenger, and Hiro was certain that she was serious at heart. In the past two years, she had faithfully obeyed orders, albeit with the aim of killing Hiro.
“Today, goodwill ambassadors from all over the world are visiting us again, without having had enough. The shrine maiden knight wants you to come to the king’s hall as soon as possible.”
“Goodwill ambassadors… huh? Then, I’ll let Ghada handle it. What’s he doing now?”
When Hiro was re-summoned to this world, he was confronted by the demon Ghada Meteor.
The Principality of Lichtine, located in the south part of the Grantz Empire, was where Hiro met Ghada as an enemy. After the two sides cut each other to bits and Hiro eventually won, he decided to make use of him, and Ghada also joined his side as their interests coincided.
Two years ago, Hiro abandoned his position as the fourth prince and took on the name of the “Black Dragon King,” and Ghada followed suit, taking up residence in the small country of Baum.
With the Levering Kingdom close by, he decided that he no longer needed to hide his true identity, and now he does not hide his purple skin, a characteristic of the “demon race,” and has been entrusted with the task of assisting the king in dealing with the various countries.
“He has been on an inspection tour of the surrounding villages. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of monsters in the area, and I have heard that many petitions have been received from the residents.”
“If Ghada isn’t here… then it can’t be helped. I guess I’ll just have to deal with them myself.”
He could leave it to Luca, but since she was originally from Urpeth and treated as a deserter, he didn’t want to expose her openly for diplomatic reasons.
If that were the case, the only other people who could be entrusted with the job would be the siblings, Hugin and Munin, but they were obviously not of the same caliber, which would not sit well with the goodwill ambassador.
In other words, if he wanted to avoid unnecessary friction, Hiro would have to go himself.
(I could also leave it to Princess Shrine Maiden, but… I don’t want to bother her with such a small matter.)
Hiro gave a small sigh of resignation and walked towards the entrance.
Luca followed close behind. After a few steps, Hiro could feel the unconcealed murderous intent of Luca on his back. He could tell that she was trying to bite him at every opportunity.
“Could you please walk in front of me? I don’t want to waste time getting attacked on the way.”
When Hiro opened the door to the room and urged her with his chin to go ahead, Luca let out a blatant sigh and then gave him a disdainful look.
“You want to walk while looking at a woman’s ass? I see that His Majesty, the Black Dragon King, has a taste that the people of Baum would lament if they heard about it.”
Luca started walking in front of him, her footsteps ringing loudly in a sarcastic tone.
“Follow me closely. The Spirit King’s Temple is like a maze.”
“I’m familiar with it… I’ve lived here for two years now.”
Hiro shrugged his shoulders and followed Luca down the corridor past the bowing shrine maiden knights.
(Before that, I used to live here, albeit for a short time.)
Hiro’s footsteps sounded lightly on the marble floor in the silent, white corridor.
Hiro gazed dazzlingly at the sunlight streaming in between the pillars and then thought about it as he gazed at the well-kept flowerbeds.
(I never thought that… I would be holding the throne of this country again, but…)
The small country of Baum has had a king only once since Hiro founded it a thousand years ago.
However, the young king of the emerging nation had only been on the throne for a short time, and since Hiro’s abdication, the second Princess Shrine Maiden, who had been his backer, had taken over the running of the small country of Baum.
(Originally, the small country of Baum was supposed to be destroyed. The reason it has survived to the present day is probably thanks to the successive generations of Princess Shrine Maiden.)
Whether they had foreseen this would happen or not, it was impossible to know, but whatever their feelings and true intentions were, the people of Baum had mixed feelings about the enthronement of Hiro.
Complaints and grievances, praise and applause, what the future holds for the country… even the gentle people of Baum were united in their anxiety.
(They may think it’s in their best interest to have the Raven Army stationed there to fight off the monsters, but they can’t afford to be a stranger when the fire is coming down on them. Well, we won’t know how much of a result it will have until the time comes.)
As he continued to walk in silence, pondering, he slipped out of the white passageway and came to an open-air garden.
There was a semicircular fountain, flower beds in full bloom, and trees overflowing with fresh greenery. It was a place that had not been used for its original purpose for a long time, though it had been tended to, and the last time it had been used for its intended purpose was a thousand years ago when Hiro had decided to leave this world.
This place was landscaped to entertain the eyes of the dignitaries of various countries, but now it is not used for political purposes, and it is said to be a place of relaxation for the shrine maiden knights, including Princess Shrine Maiden, and their apprentices.
As he walked along the path surrounded by various kinds of flowers, he was greeted by a different corridor from the one he had just walked down. In front of him was a wooden door that was much larger than the rest of the rooms, and it was very old. At each end stood a spirit knight with a helmet covering his face, and when he recognized Hiro, he quietly bowed his head.
Luca, who was walking ahead of him, turned to Hiro.
“You will be on your own from here on out, and I will be waiting in the other room.”
“It’s unusual for you to follow me everywhere. I will handle this, so it won’t be a problem if you come with me.”
Even if it was a goodwill ambassador of another country, it’s just a casual greeting and a few bland words. It wasn’t like they were discussing anything important, so there was no problem with Luca being there. However, she shook her head with disgust plastered on her face.
“Are you uncomfortable being alone? You’re like a baby. I would say that, but the person on the other side of this door is the ambassador of the Vanir Three Kingdoms. It would be better if I didn’t go, in case they recognize me. Even though I was brought here by force, I’m still a deserter. There is no guarantee that this will not turn into a diplomatic incident.”
“I know exactly what you mean… But then again, I do have some unusual guests.”
The Vanir Three Kingdoms are the three western nations located south of the Six Kingdoms: the Vanaheim Theocracy, the Nala Knightdom, and the Kvasir Priestdom.
It is said that the Vanaheim Theocracy, which is ruled by the Long-Eared People who worship the “Fairy King,” the Nala Knightdom, which was founded by those who were given the highest rank by the Pope, and the Kvasir Priestdom have formed a strong alliance.
Therefore, in the west of the Central Continent, there was a strong belief in fairies due to its proximity to the Western Continent, where the sacred land of the Long-Eared People is located.
The Six Kingdoms, located to the north of the Vanir Three Kingdoms, had also been greatly influenced by this and are rapidly converting from the “spirit belief” and eliminating heresy. This is why the invasion of the Grantz two years ago was speculated to be due to pressure from the Vanir Three Kingdoms, but the truth was still unknown.
“…How dare they come all the way to the heathen stronghold? Are they trying to persuade us to convert, or are the fairy believers just daredevils?”
It was not an easy journey across the Grantz to reach here. If the true identity of the ambassador were to come to light, there was a chance that some of the Grantz soldiers who worshipped the “Spirit King” might even capture them. A thousand years ago, the two sides had joined forces to defeat their common enemy, the demon race, but the gulf that had grown over the past thousand years has only deepened, not bridged.
“You know what I mean. The country has come to laugh. When they heard that the Grantz were on the verge of collapse, they heard that the belief in spirits was beginning to waver, and in the midst of such signs of collapse, a new king was born in the small country. In other words, as pompous as it sounds, I suppose they came to see your face.”
Luca unleashed her words with a mixture of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek, and Hiro was impressed that she can be so far-fetched in her explanation. But her words only made him feel more irritated when he asked for her opinion. The only thing to do was to ignore her, considering the possibility of an argument.
“Looks like the grudge was not forgotten even after a thousand years…”
“For the short-lived Human Race, it’s in the distant past, but for the long-lived Long-Eared People, it’s in the recent past, and their grandparents, who had a falling out with the Human Race, must have told them a lot about it.”
The conflict between the “Human Race” and the “Long-Eared Race” occurred during the war against the “Demon Race” a thousand years ago.
A certain nobleman of the “Human Race” was dazzled by the beauty of a woman who was royalty of the “Long-Eared Race” and kidnapped her.
Naturally, the “Long-Eared Race” was furious. When Altius realized what had happened, he retrieved the woman, but the anger of the “Long-Eared Race” did not diminish, and they attacked the territory of the nobleman who had kidnapped the girl, burning down the villages and executing the mastermind.
This provoked the anger of the Human Race, and the two sides were on the brink of an all-out war. In order to avoid war, Altius prepared a negotiating table and formally apologized, but he could not repair the broken friendship.
The “Long-Eared Race” withdrew their troops and returned to their territories, although an all-out war between the two races was averted. This was what Hiro, who was on the front lines at the time, was told.
(And the discrimination they had suffered over the past thousand years had amplified their hatred of the “Human Race.)
It’s not easy to get rid of something that has accumulated and taken root.
And yet, for a self-respecting “Long-Eared Race” to come into the stronghold of the “Spirit King,” the object of their hatred, would be a disgrace that would make them want to commit suicide.
“It seems that they don’t just want to see my face…”
Hiro put his hand on his mask and let out a gloomy sigh.
“If you don’t have time to worry about it, why don’t you just meet them?”
Luca said coldly and turned away to leave. She must be planning to hide somewhere. But she’s right; it wouldn’t help if he stayed here and thought about everything.
Hiro made up his mind and took a few deep breaths before standing in front of the door.
He ordered the two spirit knights, and they bowed their heads reverently and put their hands on the door.