The sun was setting, the moon was peeking out, and the night wind was filled with cool air.
The wind blows, the lights sway, the sounds of insects are drowned out by footsteps, and echoing voices shake the night air.
Azel, one of the countries of the Six Kingdoms―a swarm of lights occupying the roadway that leads to the capital city of Licht.
As they approached, a great number of tents occupied the land, built in an orderly fashion like a city.
The coat-of-arms banner of the lion, illuminated by a bonfire, danced with the wind, casting shadows.
13th October of the imperial calendar.
The Grantz Army, which had invaded the Six Kingdoms, halted its advance just before a town called Kahlen in the country of the Azel.
There was no problem.
It was just that the sun had set, and they decided to carry over their march to tomorrow and take a rest.
The “Raven Army” that was accompanying them had also borrowed a part of the site from the Grantz and set up an encampment. Normally, the encampment of the “Raven Army” was quiet, but today it was noisy, unlike usual.
This was because some unusual people had intruded into the encampment of the “Raven Army,” which emphasizes discipline.
A man with horns sprouting from his head was dancing with a smile on his face and a drink in his hand. He was trying to get the soldiers of the “Raven Army” who were guarding the encampment to drink.
Then, three drunken men intervened. Similar scenes could be seen at many of the “Raven Army” encampments.
The cheerful group was dressed in clothes that could pass for bandits, but the “Raven Army” soldiers, although somewhat bewildered, showed no sign of alarm.
This is because they are not enemies but allies.
They had an air of banditry about them, and although they belonged to different organizations, they were legitimate soldiers, and they had a tent next to the “Raven Army” encampment, so to a point, they were in a cooperative relationship. Therefore, they could not be treated with disrespect, and the “Raven Army” soldiers had a hard time dealing with them.
They also have other characteristics that are different from those of the “Raven Army.”
That was, they had cheerful personalities that couldn’t help but have fun at all times, and they had a better physique than the human race. People called them beastman.
It was not only the soldiers of the “Raven Army” who were troubled by the beastman who came to them with alcohol in their hands. Their master, the King of Baum, the Black Dragon King―Hiro, too, was troubled by the beastman in his tent.
“When are you going back to Steichen?”
Hiro asked the woman who was biting a huge piece of meat in front of him.
“Hmm? After this battle, we’ll go home anyway.”
The woman’s underwear was completely visible because she was sitting on the floor, but she didn’t seem to be bothered by it. It was more like she was originally dressed only in her underwear. Hiro would have liked to ask them why they were so revealing, but he felt that they would simply say it was difficult to move around.
However, their appearance was nothing short of beautiful.
The ethnic costumes with a high degree of skin exposure might even give a vulgar impression, but the jewels discreetly scattered throughout the costumes gave an air of elegance, and they were in perfect harmony with each other, compensating for each other’s shortcomings and an artistic quality like a painting.
More than anything else, her toned body accentuated her healthy good looks before her sex appeal, and this did not detract from her attractiveness but rather enhanced it.
With such exceptional looks, her name was Skadi Vestra Michal.
She was the supreme chancellor of the Republic of Steichen, located in the south of the Great Grantz Empire.
“Well, Hugin, it looks like a very fine piece of meat. Eat it well.”
“Um… Luca-neesan, I can eat it by myself…”
Behind Skadi, Luca was cutting up a piece of meat and trying to feed it to Hugin.
Hiro turned his face away from them and returned his gaze to Skadi, who was chugging down a glass of grape wine.
“Good to know you’re going back. Because you seem determined to keep fighting until you get tired of it.”
“Well, it would be more fun, but I guess it would be more convenient for the king that we return to Steichen.”
After letting out a sigh, Skadi wiped her mouth. In the spur of the moment, some grape wine drops flew off and landed on the ground, creating a stain. Before that, she had been drinking the wine so vigorously that a large amount of liquid had overflowed from her mouth, but it had all disappeared into her cleavage.
“You are right. It would be better for me if you did. I know you’re concerned about the free people.”
“Not that I really care. I’ve left my elite guard at home. If something goes wrong, they can handle it without me.”
“You are so optimistic.”
“We’re beastman, you know. You have to enjoy everything, or you will lose.”
Skadi laughed as she poured herself a silver cup of wine for what must have been the third time.
She is a very cheerful woman.
“More importantly, I want to fight the king again. Please fight me.”
“I’m tired, so I’ll decline.”
Sipping his tea, Hiro was unaffected.
But Skadi, unable to give up, slammed her silver cup on the ground as if to express her dissatisfaction.
“Don’t say that~; I’m frustrated~. I was looking forward to seeing what kind of strong men I would be able to fight, but the Six Kingdoms are nothing but weaklings, and there’s no one who can make me excited like you.”
Drunken interaction, huh…? When Skadi rubs shoulders with him in a familiar manner, Hiro lets out a single sigh of exasperation.
“There are a few people in the Six Kingdoms who are in possession of the Five Destructive Holy Principle Swords. I think you could have some fun fighting with them if you could meet them.”
One of them, Lucia, was back in Anguis. The other one was probably the Nameless, who had not been seen since the battle that day. There was a possibility that they would intervene in the battle with Azel, but until then, there would be no one to entertain Skadi.
“Five Destructive Holy Principle Swords, huh…? I don’t really like the way they fight. They don’t get me fired up at all.”
“Have you fought them before?”
“Only once. There was one person among the free people who had it. That person had a very strange blessing.”
“What do you mean by strange?”
“Hmm, how should I put it… She never opened her eyes and waited for her opponent to attack, and when the opponent attacked, she would counterattack. Then, when I make a move, she’ll always counterattack.”
Perhaps the drunkenness was preventing her from thinking clearly, or perhaps the wrinkles between her eyebrows were carved, and with a grunt, Skadi was mouthing the words from the end of her memory.
“The attack was sharp and heavy, and above all, my attack didn’t work at all. She’s strangely good at avoiding them, even though her eyes are closed. But she never attacked me, so it was a boring fight.”
“That’s an interesting way to fight, isn’t it?”
That’s an interesting story. What Hiro knew about the free peoples, moreover, was very little.
The common belief was that they were founded by people who fled persecution in the past and that they have had a lot of contact with the Vanir Three Kingdoms due to the various circumstances they went through. Also, they did not get along well with the neighboring Republic of Steichen, and there were frequent skirmishes near their borders.
“What was the result?”
“It was a draw. She just tried to stall for time. She got out of there as fast as she could. Thanks to that, I was so frustrated that I pushed all the bandits to death after that.”
Perhaps she was getting very drunk; Skadi rubbed her cheeks against Hiro.
The sweet breaths that occasionally popped out tickle his ears.
Skadi’s instincts tend to be stronger among the beastman, and her occasional animal-like behavior makes her very difficult to handle.
“By the way, can you tell me the name and characteristics of the holder of that Five Destructive Holy Principle Swords?”
The holder of the Five Destructive Holy Principle Swords, naturally, was not an existence that could be ignored, considering what was to come.
“She was a woman with thin lines and a fragile impression. I believe her name was… Verona.”
Her name was, after all, one he had never heard of before. But she was so good that she could compete with Skadi, so there should be a rumor or two. However, Hiro had never heard of Verona.
“Ah, Verona rarely appears in the public eye. So it’s not surprising that the king doesn’t know about her.”
Hiro, who had been thinking about it with his face down, raised his head in response to Skadi’s words.
“But didn’t you fight her once?”
“Yes, the Nidavelir invaded the free peoples a long time ago. They burned a small village to the ground.”
The Nidavelir were a faction of the Republic of Steichen centered on the dwarves.
Because they were the largest faction, they were able to exert oppressive control over the country. However, their prosperity came to an end when the Jotunheim faction led by Skadi rebelled against them, assisted by Liz, who rushed to the aid of the Jotunheim faction.
“When Verona learned that the village had been burned to the ground, she came alone to the camp of the Nidavelir faction.”
Tipping her silver cup, she found that the liquor had disappeared, and while pouring a new glass of wine, Skadi looked at the purple liquid as she continued.
“Well, the opponent was the holder of the Five Destructive Holy Principle Swords―as you can imagine, a one-sided massacre had begun.”
Against just one person, the Nidavelir faction’s 2,000-strong army was decimated. However, the angry free peoples attacked the Republic of Steichen in retaliation but were repulsed by the Jotunheim faction, including Skadi.
“In order to save those who failed to escape, Verona appeared and fought with me. As I said before, she ran away after buying some time. Since then, I haven’t heard anything about seeing Verona. I don’t know what she’s thinking, after all.”
Skadi said so, but being chosen as one of the Five Destructive Holy Principle Swords, Verona must have some strong thoughts, beliefs, philosophies, and so on. He really didn’t want to get involved if possible, but it would be foolish to leave it at that. Whether confronting her as an enemy or using her as an ally, either way, he must investigate this Verona person.
“But that is not the point…”
Skadi brought her face close to Hiro’s ear as she pondered this. There was a certain warmth in her eyes. Although she seemed to be well-behaved, her eyes moved uneasily, somewhat reminiscent of a drunken person.
“Hey… king, are you really going to do what you think you’re going to do?”
The words mumbled in a voice so small that Luca and Hugin could not hear them were full of anticipation but also had an ominous ring to them.
“…I think you’re drunk.”
“There’s no way I could get drunk that easily.”
She put her arms around Hiro’s neck and pressed her breasts against his chest, making them close together.
“I’ve had some strange looks since I’ve been in this country. A lot and a lot of them.”
“…..You think someone is watching your every move?”
“Perhaps! They must be curious about what the king is doing.”
Skadi lowered her buttocks in front of Hiro, who was sitting on the floor, and then she continued to entwine her legs around his waist.
“What are you going to do? I like the king’s idea and would like to cooperate with you. But if you fail, I will have to change my mind.”
“I will not fail.”
Frowning at the smell of alcohol that brushed his nose, Hiro felt her sweaty body heat and looked at Skadi with a cold, stern gaze.
“Everything is going according to plan.”
“I guess that’s it, huh?”
With a satisfied nod, Skadi pushed Hiro down.
Her expression as she looked into his face was ruthless to the point of chills, despite the body heat transmitted from their close body contact.
“You have a nice face. It’s a man’s face, isn’t it? Then, I’ll believe in you.”
Skadi’s expression was full of joy as she licked his cheek. Perhaps it was the alcohol, but her sexiness was amplified, and she began to wear a glamorous atmosphere.
“But if you betray me, I will show no mercy, regardless of how powerful a king you are. Just remember that.”
“Yeah, I’ll set the stage for you to get your frustrations out of your system.”
“Great. I’m really looking forward to it.”
As Skadi said this, a large shadow fell over their heads.
Luca, who was carrying Vajra on her shoulder, looked down at them with disturbed eyes.
“What are you doing rutting in front of people? I’ll kill you!”
If Luca had said that, it wouldn’t have been a joke, and that would have been very bad.
However, the beastwomen were not so weak as to give in to such threatening words.
“Ahhh? The gloomy woman with a face like a dead man.”
Skadi stood up and glared at Luca. Hiro was so stunned by this predictable turn of events that he couldn’t even muster the strength to stop them.
“Uh, you two! Why are we suddenly in this kind of mood?”
Hugin was trying desperately to intercede while her face was turning pale. However, Hugin’s presence was not recognized by the two.
“Hah, do you want to die? Shall I turn you into minced meat, you horny beast?”
“Not so fast. Shall I tear your belly open with my claws to get the blood flowing?”
The two were so close that they were about to start a fistfight.
“Both of you need to calm down; there is no point in fighting here. It’s better not to waste your energy.”
Hiro tried to be careful not to provoke them, but the two of them glared at him together.
“It’s your fault because you don’t have the right attitude. You accept everything as it comes. Not rejecting those who come and not chasing those who go, surely that would have been allowed if the times were better, but nowadays, it is only children who are allowed to accept anything and everything – yeah, you are like a child, but even so, there are limits, right? It doesn’t matter how many abandoned kittens you pick up.”
Hiro looks fed up with this mouthful that makes him want to cover his ears.
Now, how to appease her… he tried to unfold a troublesome thought, but more fierce mouths came from the side.
“What’s with the scornful look on your face like you had nothing to do with it? The king is actually happy to have my breasts pressed against him, isn’t he? You can turn up your nose if you want. I can understand that since a dead person like you doesn’t have breasts, that would be very satisfying.”
Skadi laughed loudly as she patted Luca’s chest with the back of her hand.
It was a gesture as if she was checking the feel of a rock.
The one who stiffened at the outburst was Luca. Her face was so bewildered that it was almost smiling, appropriate for her age. But to those who know her, it is a very unusual sight.
That’s why it was frightening; if Luca changed her mind, it could lead to a deadly situation.
When he decided to separate the two of them―something interrupted him.
“Don’t blame Wise Brother! He’s a kind man! He just can’t leave an animal in need!”
His faithful subordinate Hugin, with her arms outstretched as if protecting Hiro, appealed to the two women.
Hiro held his head and sighed deeply.
But his heart was restless, and he could not find rest.
“And, you see, the swift dragon and Cerberus are very fond of Wise Brother, and he even picked up my big brother, as well as myself and the Raven Army. He is a wonderful person who is loved by animals!”
He wanted to say many things, but that defense would only add fuel to the fire.
In fact, the beast woman who had been lumped in with the animals was glaring at Hugin angrily.
“Hey, little girl, are you treating me like an animal?”
“Hey, you horny beast, you mess with Hugin; I’ll kill you!”
The situation was not so relaxing, but he felt like he had been let down.
In the meantime, Hiro drank cold tea.
But it’s not that he didn’t like these lively times.
War was often depressing.
The pain caused by various events, both physical and mental, gradually eroded the mind.
That was why human connections were so important on the battlefield.
It was necessary to avoid isolation.
Drinking, talking, making noise, supporting each other, strengthening bonds, and overcoming difficulties with comrades-in-arms.
This had not changed and would not change. And it was not difficult to imagine that it would remain unchanged in the future.
Recalling the faces of his former comrades-in-arms, Hiro’s eyes narrowed at the sight of the three women making noise in front of him.