“Liz, what’s wrong?”
“I felt something strange, so I came outside.”
“No, it was just the grass swaying in the wind.”
Liz laughed and then turned to Aura, who was approaching from behind.
“I’m amazed at how much you’ve grown, Liz-dono, to even be able to sense the presence of grass.”
Skaaha appeared while cracking a joke.
When she came outside, she took one look at the Hill of Tragedy that Liz had just been looking at, nodded her head in agreement, and then looked at her with interest.
For some reason, Liz felt that she was being observed and unintentionally averted her gaze from Skaaha, but she was puzzled by her immediate reaction, which she did not fully understand.
Liz hid her inner turmoil and changed the subject to avoid unnecessary scrutiny.
“More importantly, was that really the right thing for Skaaha to do?”
Skaaha would be working with the “Raven Army” from tomorrow. She wanted to be separated from Liz and the others. The reason for this was clear. Liz and her group would be heading for Scheue, the former royal capital of Felzen.
According to a report from a spy, it was in the same ruinous and unbearable condition as the town of Nex, where they were currently staying. So, when Skaaha offered to accompany the small country of Baum rather than go to the devastated former royal capital of Scheue, Liz was very relieved.
“Yes… because I have no doubt that the situation is worse than it was two years ago.”
It was the kind of bandits―criminals―who attacked the former royal capital, which had lost its king, soldiers, and people.
That was probably why the Six Kingdoms moved the capital. It would take far less effort to repair the burnt-down houses, repair the looted palaces, and bring back the residents who had fled.
“It sounds pathetic, but I’m not sure if I could keep my composure if I saw the royal capital.”
Liz nodded silently at Skaaha’s honest confession of her feelings.
Liz did not have any words to say to Skaaha. The original source of the destruction of Felzen was the Great Grantz Empire. It was not comforting for a person who belonged to the Grantz Imperial Family, the source of the destruction, to say to Skaaha that she understood how she felt.
The only thing that Liz could do was to express her feelings of apology to Skaaha―or Felzen―in her attitude rather than words and in her actions rather than her demeanor.
“We’ll meet up again later. Then it will be time for Felzen to be liberated.”
A change was made from the original plan, and the attack on Felzen was to be made from two sides.
The reason for this was that the speed of the invasion by the First and Second Armies was faster than expected.
The First and Second Armies, which had already begun their actions, were scheduled to continue on their current course to the former royal capital of Scheue, where they would be joined by the main army led by Liz. The remaining Third Army and the small country of Baum invaded from the southern direction, playing the role of suppressing the movement of Anguis.
The current plan was for Liz and her forces, who had seized the former royal capital of Scheue, to move south to launch a pincer attack on Anguis and annihilate it, thereby driving out the Six Kingdoms from Felzen.
“Yeah, we’ve finally come this far. I will do my best.”
“And although you have the approval of the small country of Baum, be careful; it can be tiring to be in an unfamiliar environment.”
“I appreciate your concern, but… Felzen is also an unfamiliar place for Liz-dono and Aura-dono. I hope you both take good care of yourselves.”
Liz smiled at Skaaha’s kind words, but a question suddenly crossed her mind.
“But why the small country of Baum?”
Skaaha chose to work with the “Raven Army” rather than the Third Army of Grantz.
Certainly, given the current situation in Felzen, not many people would listen to Skaaha’s words. This was especially true in the Anguis-controlled West. It would be better if they only cursed her, but there was a possibility that they would throw stones at her.
However, if she couldn’t go to the front anyway, she could have stayed in the rear with the Third Army. The reason why she bothered to choose the “Raven Army,” which was further back, was unclear.
“…I wanted to have a little chat with the Black Dragon King.”
Liz was expecting Skaaha to dodge the question, but she told her honestly.
“I’ve been trying to find out what he’s thinking for the past two years―or is it already three years?”
“And I hope you can have a meaningful conversation with him.”
Liz was curious about what she was going to talk about, but as expected, she would not be honest with her about the contents of the conversation. Skaaha was a good person, so she would eventually tell her story. Liz had no choice but to send her off with that thought in mind.
“I’ve heard that you have a strange feeling in your ‘eye’?”
The topic had been left vague because of Liz’s sudden departure from the room.
“Yes, I wanted to know what you two thought about that.”
Liz stepped inside the house and invited them in.
“We’ll talk about the details inside.”
Just before closing the door―Liz took one look at the Hill of Tragedy and disappeared into the mansion.
September 18th, 1026th year of the imperial calendar.
A port town in the Felzen region bordering the Anfini Sea―like many others, this town had become a lawless zone due to the war with the Grantz. Pirate ships were stopping at the port with an air of self-importance, repeatedly looting the surrounding villages.
But that was a long time ago, and now, sensing the attack of the Grantz, they have fled to the sea, and the town was a deserted wreck.
The bloodstained beach was littered with a great number of corpses. The clothes they were wearing indicated that they were probably residents who had failed to escape. All of them showed signs of torture, and the bodies were severely damaged.
Someone was walking with a light gait on the beach, which reeked of death.
The person was dressed like a pilgrim, wearing a hood and holding a tin cane in his hand.
If there were people there, they might have mistaken the person for a priest who had come to offer prayers to those who had died of a tragic event.
However, those who knew the person were all calling him Nameless.
After leaving the beach, Nameless entered a rocky area with poor footholds.
Eventually, he arrives at an eerie cave, the depths of which are so dark that he could not see what lay ahead.
Without any hesitation at all, Nameless stepped into the place where a normal person would have stepped back.
The air inside was colder than that of a prison. A beastly snarl was emanating from the air as if to repel intruders, and drops of water sliding on the rocky surface fell to the ground, accelerating the eerie atmosphere.
Even so, there was even a hint of a smile on Nameless’s face.
Like a child on his way to a secret base, his steps were light and bouncy.
Eventually, Nameless stopped walking. Ahead of his eyes, he saw what looked like an altar sitting on the ground.
On the altar, tens of thousands of candles were lit all at once, and the bones of humans, animals, and “monsters” were randomly placed. Around them, blood was still splattered. In the center of what appears to be the scene of a gruesome murder, a muscular, white-haired man, his limbs chained together, groans.
The man’s eyes were unfocused, and he flailed about, trying to tear the chains off, but he soon grew tired and hung limply. The color of the skin was a deep purple, so dark that it was hard to believe that he was human.
He was not human. Neither is he a beastman. He was an ambiguous being that belongs to neither―if one were to use an analogy, it would be safe to say that the man was a “monster.” The sound of gravel echoed in the cave as Nameless stepped closer to the man.
“…You are finally here.”
The man’s expression changed from the previous one, and he showed a sense of calmness.
The eyes that have been looking up at Nameless can be seen as the color of reason, although it is murky.
“How are you feeling?”
“…Not bad. The “food” was also plentiful.”
The man looked at the bones scattered on the ground, drooling profusely from his half-open mouth.
“I’m glad to hear that. It looks like I made the right choice in choosing this place.”
Satisfied, Nameless nodded his head repeatedly. Then he tilted his head, and his smile deepened.
“It is time to go. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“…No problem. I won’t run out of control as I did before.”
“Then, I have a partner who might be just right for you to get used to it.”
Nameless said in a light tone and tapped the tip of his tin can on the ground. The sound of the bell echoes through the cave, and all the bats that had been resting fly off at once.
“…Who was it? Do I know him?”
“One of the five great generals of the Great Granz Empire―the strong arm Cain.”
The man sighed when he heard the name and snorted derisively.
“That man from the central… he’s a man with a brain that only knows how to fight.”
“A convenient opponent to try, isn’t he? After that, I’ll have you fight the Sixth Princess of the Great Grantz Empire.”
“…I hope she’s getting stronger.”
“Yes, she’s stronger than you expect.”
The man laughed loudly as Nameless assured him. With tears streaming down his face, the man’s laughter intensifies as he dances with the chains that bind his limbs as if to say that he has been waiting for this.
“Fuh, kukukuku… as expected of the rightful Grantz, the holy bloodline Grantz―the princess who inherited the crimson of destruction.”
The man’s joy was short-lived. His expression immediately became expressionless, his cloudy eyes wandered about, and a large amount of drool dripped from his mouth onto the ground. Seeing this, Nameless distorted his mouth and let out a zero tone of voice.
“Give death to the poor cursed princess.”
Nameless nodded and pulled his body close to the man, who obediently nodded and whispered quietly in his ear even though they were the only two people in the room.
“That’s your role, okay?”
“Oh… my dear, dear―… victory for you. I will surely twist them to death with my own hands and offer up their accursed souls.”
Away from the man who had begun to move violently, Nameless looked up at the ceiling of the cave, which had begun to crumble.
Dust and debris were raining down incessantly, unable to withstand the man’s violent power.
“Yes, that’s right. Overcome the curse of the spirit. Then you will be elevated to the one and only.”
The man screamed as he broke the chains. It was a maniacal cry of anger, sadness, and joy, a mixture of all three emotions.
Nameless’s mouth was stained with joy.
It was a deep, dark, black smile.
“We must take revenge on the Grantz―let our hatred be heard throughout the world!”
Two loud laughs echoed in the cave, which had begun to collapse.