Dai Densetsu No Yuusha No Densetsu - Volume 3 - Chapter 3
Chapter 3 - The Burden I Shoulder
The horse galloped.
At full speed.
’’My butt huuurrrtttttsssssss!’’
While yelling, Ryner rode, he rode, for four days, he rode.
Beside him, Ferris, who had also been galloping for the past four days without sleeping, went,
’’.................................. mumyu ~’’
’’Hey, don't sleep while ridingggggggggg!’’
Ryner yelled at the Ferris who seemed about to slip off her horse.
On hearing that, she opened her eyes suddenly, looked up, and wiped off the little drool from her mouth,
’’Hm? What? It's morning?’’
’’No, it's evening though. Wait, that's not the problem, don't sleep on the horse! It's dangerous.’’
’’I wasn't sleeping.’’
’’I think you were sleeping with half of your body about to fall off.’’
’’I was practicing body-bend riding.’’
’’Yeah. A big lie!’’
’’And you're admitting to it so quickly!’’
’’Of course. I'm sleepy. And since I'm at my limits, I'm going to nap a little. Let me know when we reach.’’
’’No, I was telling you not to sleep duh.’’
Ignoring Ryner's holler, she closed her eyes, and with that, she seemed about to slip off the horse again.
’’That's why I was saying, don't sleeepppppppppppppppppp!’’
Ignoring him, she fell off the horse, and in a splendid manner, she spun a few times in the air and landed on the ground. On top of that, with a soft plod, good night, she said and entered the world of dreams.
Following that, the horse which Ferris had been riding on suddenly became energetic due to the lightened load, and whizzed off.
’’Jeez, that fella's such a botherrrrrrrrrrrrrr!’’
While yelling, he whipped his horse. With that, he caught up to the horse which Ferris had discarded, and grabbed hold of its reins. And pulled. He stopped the horse, turned it around, and returned to the place where Ferris was sleeping.
’’Hey, we don't really have time to tarry around. We're already one day late from the appointed day that we're supposed to link up with Kiefer.’’
’’Hey, we only need to ride for another half a day before we reach our destination, so c'mon? Hey? Ferris. Please.’’
Without looking at him, she said,
’’...... shut up. I'm sleepy. I'm sluggish. Bothersome. Go by yourself.’’
’’Hey, are you me! I'm also sleepy to the point of dying, but, if we don't get our act together, Toale's life will be in danger. So let's do our best for a little bit more, ok?’’
On hearing that, Ferris finally got up. She looked up at him with a pained expression,
’’But Ryner. For the past four days, I haven't eaten a dango you know? As a person who is a hundred million, two thousand, eight hundred, and ninety-two percent made up of dango, do you think I can continue without any dango?’’
At that question, Ryner, with a tired face,
’’Wait, so how many percent does your entire body constitute?’’
He asked back squarely,
’’Who cares about that, just listen to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!’’
She became really angry.
Ryner smiled wryly and said.
’’...... erm, no, well, I know that it's been hard on you to not have eaten any dango for four days, but right now, it's an emergency so bear with it.’’
’’I can't bear with it.’’
’’I can't bear ----------------------- it! By the way, there's a nice dango shop nearby.’’
Upon saying that, she suddenly got up energetically, which was unthinkable for a person who was tired from going without sleep for four whole days.
Looking at that, Ryner exclaimed,
’’Huuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhh!? Eh? Eh? What's this? Is this that? All that ranting about being sleepy and falling off the horse was an act?’’
Ferris promptly replied,
’’Don't 'of course'me!’’
’’Whatever you think about that is not the main issue here!’’
Ferris said vehemently.
Ryner sighed out.
Even without that, he was already drained. Having fought with that red-haired monster, getting them horses, and riding crazily without sleep.
Riding crazily without sleep on the horses which he had sneaked out of a noble's stables along the way.
He already felt like dying. Not just from the lack of sleep, but more from the pain in his butt.
Indeed, it seems like they would need some rest soon, but......
So as to speak, after working so hard till this point, isn't it ok for him to take about two hundred years'worth of afternoon naps right? Isn't it ok for him to just disappear somewhere and take a long afternoon nap right? A temptation like this started to grow in him, but, Ryner stomped it out and said.
’’...... b-but you know Ferris. At the appointed place, Iris will be waiting for us with Wynitt dango......’’
But Ferris said.
’’Nelpha dango and Roland dango are different things altogether.’’
Her tone became stronger than before,
’’...... you're right I guess. Then, erm...... let's take a short break......’’
Ryner gave in.
Let's take a short break, Ryner relaxed.
As his strength left him, he almost fell off his horse. Ferris supported him with a hand.
’’See. You're also tired.’’
’’Well...... it's obvious that I'll be tired after riding for four whole days......’’
But, he had never thought that he would be so tired. He didn't realize it since he had been keeping his body tensed up all this while, but his body had become abnormally heavy. He immediately understood how it came to be so. It was a consequence of the Estabul magic which he had used to accelerate his movements during his fight with Claugh. That magic, in exchange for granting a period of increased bodily reflexes and ability, will cause the user to feel its weariness later. On top of that, this time round, in order to do something about that red-haired monster, he had seriously overused his body. It was probably the burdens from that which had come to assail him.
However, even those words alone were not enough to convey how heavy his body currently was. Right now, his entire body was enveloped with a level of fatigue that could make him pass out.
Seeing that, Ferris said.
She looked up at him, and somehow, with a slightly angry face, she averted her eyes and said.
’’Jeez...... you've overdone it this time. I understand how you feel, but even so, there's a limit to what one person can do. Don't push yourself too much.’’
In other words.
It seems to be that.
It seems like all of Ferris's acting, and her willful behavior of wanting to go to a dango shop, were all for the purpose of saying this.
Aah ~, Ryner thought.
He stroked his disheveled bed-hair,
’’Aah ~...... erm, sorry.’’
’’Well then, let's go to that dango shop and rest up in the village.’’
Ferris then said,
’’Idiot. There's no dango shop.’’
’’That's why you're a real idiot.’’
Upon saying that, for some reason, her face blushed, and in order to mask that, she made an angry face.
Looking intently at that.
Looking intently at her face,
’’...... aah, I see.’’
Ryner smiled with a troubled look.
Ferris then jumped onto the horse, the horse that Ryner was now riding. With that, she took the reins away from his hand,
’’Alright. If your overly stupid brain has understood, it's time to move. We don't have much time. Once we reach there, there will be work waiting for you again. That's why, the idiot can just sleep. I'll wake you when we reach there.’’
Upon saying that, she started to kick into the horse.
Ryner then frantically said,
’’Eh, but Ferris, you haven't slept a wink as well......’’
But at that moment,
’’Don't worry about that, just sleep, idiot.’’
Upon saying that, she made a chopping stance with her hand and started sending it into the back of Ryner's neck,
’’Eh, no wait, that's bad......’’
Ryner lost consciousness.
Deep darkness spread.
In that deep darkness.
Ryner was visited by dreams which had missed him for quite some time.
Strangely, they were cheerful dreams.
Sion appeared, and with a face full of mischief,
’’Alright Ryner ~. Nap time's over. It's time to get working.’’
For some reason, Ferris, who was munching on dango beside him, drew her sword for no good reason,
’’Die, you pervertttttttttttt.’’
She shouted and came beating him.
That was the scenery that was repeating again and again.
With Sion, and Ferris, the three of them.
A dream in which the three of them were making merry in that small office.
There was nothing to worry about there.
There were no lives nor troubles from others to shoulder.
Only a bunch of fools laughing happily.
And he thought.
It'd be nice if such days can go on forever, he thought.
No, he had believed that it would be so.
Such days would go on, even when he was complaining about how unpleasant or bothersome things were, as long as he worked hard, the world would be alright, he had thought.
That's why he was laughing like that.
He had never thought that it would end.
Laughing like an idiot.
Even when he was made to work throughout the night. Even when he was bashed up by her sword.
Ryner had always been laughing happily.
And he felt a little blessed.
Even though up till now, he had only been laden with tiresome things.
But, after seeing that dream, he felt like doing his best for a little longer and looking forward.
Since in his dream, he had been laughing like an idiot with them.
He had been laughing like an idiot from the bottom of his heart.
But, the dream came to an end.
Suddenly, it ended, he realized.
No, perhaps he had realized that right from the start of the dream.
Sadly, that dream was nowhere close to reality.
But, he wished, for a little bit.
Each time he saw that dream, he'd wish.
Ryner would wish that, if only this bothersome reality could be the dream instead when he open his eyes, and that he could wake up to that noisy office, he would be willing to pay any price.
If he were to open his eyes right now.
If he were to awake from his dream.
And the nightmare would have ended and he could wake up to that noisy office again.
He would not make the same mistake again.
He would not leave Sion to his solitude again.
In order to laugh together.
In order to move forward together, this time round, without feeling bothersome, he would do his best, he thought.
And so, Ryner opened his eyes.
Wishing that he could wake up to that office.
He opened his eyes......
When he opened his eyes, they had already reached their destination.
On the land that was very near to the borders between Nelpha and Runa.
There, were gathered tens of thousands of people.
Ryner opened his eyes and straightened his body,
’’...... hn? You've awakened?’’
From behind him, Ferris, who had been doing the riding, said.
Ryner turned around,
’’...... eh? Ah, yeah. I had a good sleep. Thanks, Ferris.’’
’’Umu. I also had a good sleep.’’
’’Hey, what would have happened if you have slept as well.’’
Upon making that jab, with a slightly tired face,
From her face, it was clear that she hadn't really slept at all. Quite unbecoming of her, there were dark circles beneath her eyes. She was clearly very tired. Ryner then began,
’’This time, it's your turn to sleep. Leave the rest to......’’
But, before he could finish,
She rested her head on the back of Ryner, and slept.
Ryner smiled, and without letting her body fall off, he supported her with his left hand and once again started the horse galloping.
However, with the throngs of people gathered, they couldn't move very fast.
He then looked around him.
He looked at the faces of the people gathered here.
Clearly, the people here did not just comprise of soldiers.
Originally, Kiefer was supposed to guide the ten thousand soldiers, who were thrown away as sacrificial pawns by Starnel and later saved by Toale, to this place.
’’What on earth is this?’’
Ryner said with a troubled face.
Clearly, the commoners who were present here greatly outnumbered the soldiers.
Women, children, as well as the elderly.
A throng of people who couldn't contribute to the fighting strength.
Well, he could probably make a guess as to why they were here.
’’...... Toale, that guy sure is popular.’’
While muttering that, he moved the horse forward.
The people all looked up in a dumbfounded manner at the riders on the advancing horse, at Ryner and the peerless golden hair beauty behind him.
He then asked a question to someone who was clad in military uniform among the people.
’’...... ah ~, erm, you are one of the soldiers following Toale right? I have some business with Toale, so do you mind leading us to him?’’
On hearing that, the soldier looked up. And he glared at Ryner.
A man who had a piercing gaze. With long light brown hair tied up at the back, and perhaps, due to his unshaven face, he looked to be in his mid-twenties.
He looked up at them and squinted his eyes.
’’...... are you Ryner Lute?’’
Ryner was surprised at hearing his own name.
’’Oh? To know my name, am I perhaps famous around here?’’
On hearing that, the man's face contorted,
’’I'm Kazaal Selues. A Major. I was given command of ten thousand troops from Prince Starnel and ordered to fend off Roland's forces, but I went against that and am now following Toale-sama.’’
On hearing those words, Ryner looked again more carefully at this man called Kazaal Selues.
He was of medium build and medium height. A well-trained body with no opening. He's probably quite strong. Well, of course, he can't be compared to that abnormal killing intent from that red-haired muscled idiot though.
However, just from his appearance, he could tell that this fella has some ability. To elaborate on that, to have become a Major in his twenties, this fella must have achieved a number of accomplishments on the battlefield.
That was the reason why Starnel had assigned ten thousand troops to him, and abandoned them.
He had probably thought that this fella would be able to fend off the Roland forces for a while and buy him more time to escape.
A smile surfaced on Ryner.
’’...... I'm grateful to Starnel's idiocy.’’
On hearing that, Selues looked at him with a look of surprise,
’’What did you say?’’
’’No, I was just giving thanks to Starnel's idiocy for throwing away someone as capable as you without even batting an eyelid. Thanks to the foolishness of Starnel, the plan I came up with might just go well. By the way, are you popular among your subordinates?’’
Selues did not answer. However, even without answering, it was clear.
Ryner looked around him once more.
The soldiers around him all had brightly lit faces. There was not the slightest drop in morale.
After getting abandoned by Starnel, and on top of that having Roland's soldiers on their heels, their current brightly lit faces could not just be attributed to Toale's popularity alone.
Ryner's grin broadened increasingly.
’’Unexpectedly, things may just move ahead even without us doing anything.’’
Toale is popular with the commoners. If both Starnel and Toale were to claim their names to the throne, most of the people would probably follow Toale.
However, this Selues appeared to be very popular with the soldiers.
With this, if Starnel was to continue with his oppression, he would probably end up destroying himself.
If Toale were to rise up, supported by Selues at his side, there was a possibility that the rest of the power-wielding nobles, soldiers, and people would follow him.
If that were to happen.
Starnel's life would probably be no more. Even without Ryner, Toale, or Roland doing anything.
Thanks to his own foolishness, Starnel would be killed by Imperial Nelpha.
If that were to happen, then there would be no need for Ryner to take the trouble to capture Starnel.
However, the real problem will start from there.
After Starnel's death.
After Toale becomes king.
At that time, Roland will probably be asking for Toale's life.
The current Roland will definitely not allow Toale to live.
That's why in order for Toale to live, there are two choices.
Escape to outside of the country.
Lead Nelpha's soldiers to fight Roland.
But the latter was out of the question.
Right now, there was no longer any country in the southern part of the continent with enough power to fight the military might of Roland.
Ryner was very well aware of that.
For the past one year, he had always hung around Sion's side.
Working hard together in that office to strengthen Roland.
And in just one year, Roland was totally transformed to something different from before.
Roland was reborn.
Even though Ryner was not directly involved in the military affairs, he could still imagine roughly how much power the current Roland wielded.
To the Nelpha right now, it would be like hitting a rock with an egg.
Well, however, if they were to ally with Runa Empire to resist Roland, then it would be a different story.
Even for Roland, it would be difficult to face two countries as its opponents, he thought.
However, Runa was an ally of Roland.
As such, Nelpha no longer had any chance of winning. There was no other way other than to surrender.
In other words, for the short term, there was no way but for Toale to first capture Starnel, become the king, and issue a surrender, and before Roland catches him, escape out of the country.
As he unfolded the various development scenarios in his head,
’’Aah, this is bothersome.’’
Upon groaning, Selues nodded.
’’Yeah. It's extremely bothersome. That's why there's not much time left. According to Kiefer Knolles, you are supposed to have arrived yesterday. What in the world were you doing?’’
Ryner's face turned serious at that and he looked at Selues.
’’Sorry we're late. Even though we were already rushing all the way here, it was my calculation mistake. But, I'm not going to make another mistake hereon. I'll save this country, and save Toale's life. So can you lead us to Toale?’’
Selues then grabbed hold of the reins of Ryner's horse and led them.
Once again, the horse started off slowly.
Ahead of where Selues was leading them, was a small tent. Outside of that tent, was a familiar group, made up of a golden hair girl, a black hair boy and his childhood girl friend, playing.
Iris, Arua, and Kuku.
At that moment, Iris noticed Ryner's group.
’’Ah ~! Wild Beast-kun ~!’’
Arua then turned towards here as well,
Following that, the tent opened, and out came Kiefer, with her hand waving.
Ryner then waved back at her, and lastly......
A man around the same age of Ryner came out of the tent. With brown hair and a kind face. However, compared to the time he met him a year ago, the face was more drawn. It was filled with more fatigue.
Just from that, he could see what he had been through for the past few weeks.
Ryner smiled at Toale.
And in response to that.
Toale returned with a wry, troubled smile.
Ryner then turned around.
’’Ferris, wake up. We have reached. There should be a bed somewhere, go sleep there.’’
On hearing that, without opening her eyes,
’’Hah ~, then, carry me there.’’
’’Walk on your own.’’
’’Carry me there like a princess.’’
’’Huuuuhhhhhhhh? Huuhhhhhh? You, with so many people looking......’’
But, upon saying that, she grabbed hold of Ryner's neck. And while strangling him,
’’You're so annoying. If you dare wake me again...... I'll kill you, get it?’’
As she said that, her fingers seemed to be really crushing Ryner's neck,
’’Hey, I get itttttttt! Whether is it like a princess or groom, I'll carry you so don't kill me.’’
’’Um. Then, please carry on. I'll be going back to sleep.’’
Ryner sighed out loudly, and following that, he dismounted the horse. After that, he brought down Ferris, who had descended into deep sleep.
Then, in her desired princess cradle fashion, he carried the bothersome princess,
Iris made a jab as she clung to Ferris's chest.
The weight of the two people on Ryner's hip. His hip seemed about to sprain. He really felt like killing the two troublesome sisters.
’’...... uhwu, I have to bear with it until I get her to a bed. Do your best, Ryner. I'll be able to relax when she sleeps......’’
He encouraged himself, and started walking.
Following that, Kiefer came to him.
While staring at him, she smiled kindly.
But, somehow, it was different from the smile just now. She was looking intently at him with a somewhat, transfixed, biting gaze, and softly,
’’...... princess cradle.’’
’’But you know, these two people are really heavy...... hey, Kiefer, can you help me?’’
Ryner asked, to which Kiefer said,
But, at that moment, she grinned,
’’Just kidding ~. It was a joke, a joke. I'll help you. The past few days have been tough on you guys right? You're tired right?’’
While saying that, she supported Ryner's arms, and pushed upwards. With that, his burden lessened.
’’Oh, that really helps.’’
Kiefer acknowledged happily.
Following that, Ryner once again looked in front of him, at Toale.
For some reason, with a seemingly bad mood, he was looking at him --- rather, at Kiefer.
’’Hn? What's wrong, Toale?’’
On hearing Ryner's words, his face turned to one of surprise,
’’Eh? Umm...... ah ~, no, nothing. Long time no see, Ryner-san.’’
’’Long time no see.’’
Upon saying that, Ryner wanted to wave his hands, but realizing that both his arms were encumbered, he merely nodded his head at him.
Toale then rushed up to him.
’’Do you need help?’’
’’Yeah, can you help me with the top one.’’
Toale nodded, and lifted up Iris, who had been clinging to Ferris's chest.
Iris's face then lit up,
’’Wah! It's high, are you bringing me higher!? Iris loves that!’’
On hearing that, Toale lifted Iris up and down. Following that, he looked at Ryner,
’’Well Ryner-san, I would have never expected to reunite with you under such circumstances.’’
Ryner nodded as well. He smiled wryly at the tight-fitting, seemingly unsuitable military uniform that Toale was wearing.
’’Yeah. I've never thought so either. So to speak, it became something real bothersome.’’
Following that, Toale opened the entrance to the tent. Inside was a simple bed, and he pointed to it,
Ryner nodded as he carried Ferris there. He put Ferris down on the bed, and hugging the pillow, she slept comfortably.
’’Thanks for your hard work.’’
Ryner then said smilingly.
Following that, once again, Kiefer looked at him with a slightly angry face.
Ryner cocked his head to the side.
’’So, what's wrong?’’
’’Hey, those words sounded rather thorny.’’
’’No they don't.’’
’’Yes they do.’’
’’I said no, they don't’’
’’Well ok...... forget it then.’’
Kiefer turned her face away from him and went out of the tent.
With an incomprehensible look on his face,
’’...... what the hell was that?’’
Ryner asked Toale.
On hearing that, for some reason, he also made an unpleasant face,
’’Please don't ask me.’’
’’Toale, why are you angry as well?’’
’’I'm not angry.’’
’’Yes. More importantly......’’
Upon saying that, he looked at Ryner.
’’Really, long time no see. Ryner-san, I'm really happy to hear that you are coming here to help me. I'm coming here to save you. The reason is because we're friends. Ok?, those words, frankly speaking, made me want to cry.’’
He said, to which Ryner smiled.
’’Was that a little too mushy?’’
’’Nope. It was a great thing to me, who was depressed from getting cornered in all directions.’’
’’Is that so. That's great then.’’
Ryner nodded, pulled up a nearby chair and sat down.
Toale then said,
’’Should I brew some tea like what we did in the past?’’
’’Ah ~, the tea you brewed was really good. But, forget it now. There's really not much time left. Erm, so the situation we are now in......’’
’’I have already heard everything from Kiefer-san. As to where did you come from, and why are you here now......’’
Upon saying that, Toale looked at Ryner with a pair of somewhat reproachful eyes,
’’...... jeez, Ryner-san, you really had me with all those lies. You are a person from Roland right. And on top of that, the best friend of that hero king, Sion Astal. And to top if off, a year ago, you introduced that Sion-san as your cousin and ate in my house......’’
On hearing that, Ryner nodded with a somewhat apologetic face.
That's right, that's how it was.
Ryner had met Toale and withheld his true identity then.
During that time, as a spy from Roland, he had to hide his identity while searching for the Heroes'Relics together with Ferris.
They had then visited Imperial Nelpha, Runa Empire, and Iyet Republic before returning back to Roland again.
On top of that, Toale had met Sion.
At that time, Sion was on a formal visit, calling on the grandfather of Toale, the previous king of Imperial Nelpha, Gread Nelphi, and had asked Ryner to become his bodyguard.
And so, Sion then went to the place where Ryner was at, which was Toale's house, and they had dined together on the same table.
During that time, he couldn't possibly have imagined that the relationship between Sion and Toale would have become such a bothersome thing.
Ryner nodded, and said.
’’...... yeah. When we met you, Sion was masquerading as my cousin.’’
Toale then smiled vexedly.
’’That fine young man is the hero king huh...... a powerful enemy indeed.’’
’’Well, yeah. He's really a workaholic...... it will be a troublesome thing to surpass him.’’
’’But we're going to surpass him right?’’
’’If not, you will be dead.’’
’’Yeah. But, can I trust you? Ryner-san, you are the best friend of Sion-san right? I am a little doubtful that you will betray him and truly come here to help me. Perhaps, this is just Sion-san's ploy......’’
However, Ryner shook his head immediately,
He denied it outright.
’’Even if you say that, I don't have enough information to make an assessment though. Now, with the lives of tens of thousands of people on my shoulder, will I be able to see this through correctly......?’’
Ryner then looked intently at Toale,
’’Are you pressuring me to explain everything to you?’’
’’Yes, that's right. Even if it's me, I can't move too carelessly while carrying the lives of so many others.’’
’’Well, you're right though. So, what do you want to know?’’
’’The first thing I want to ask is about the time when you first made contact with me. Was all that an act? Did you send that hoodlum to put up an act in order to get to me, who has royal blood flowing inside my veins?’’
When he said that.
Ryner felt a number of extraordinary killing intent from the surroundings outside of the tent. The tent was probably surrounded by soldiers.
’’...... woah, Toale-chan I say, you're pretty cautious.’’
Ryner said in a light manner.
Following that, Ferris's eyes opened in response to that killing intent,
’’...... hey Ryner.’’
But immediately, Ryner said,
’’Go sleep, Ferris. There's no problem. I just need to explain things a little.’’
’’I said it's fine. You're tired right? Just sleep. In the first place, with this level of opponents, I can take care of them myself. In the worst case, I'll take Toale hostage.’’
Ferris then replied,
’’...... well, you have a point.’’
’’Got it. But, if something......’’
’’I said it's fine. You should know that Toale and I are good buddies right? So, don't worry and sleep.’’
After Ryner said that, Ferris nodded and went back to sleep.
After ascertaining that, Ryner looked at Toale. With a troubled face. Then,
’’Withdraw your troops. I told you I'm your ally right?’’
However, without taking his eyes off him, Toale said,
’’...... but you're the best friend of Sion.’’
Best friend --- Toale had said.
Ryner made a sad face on hearing that,
And he nodded.
’’Yeah, that's right. But, for Sion's sake as well, I won't let him kill you.’’
’’For Sion's sake, you say?’’
’’Yeah. His way of thinking is already different from mine. We're looking in different directions now.’’
While saying that, but, isn't it because we have been looking in different directions right from the start, Ryner thought.
Even when he was shouldering everything, suffering, and on the verge of tears, he was a fool who would not even confide in his best friend.
Even when he had already been looking in a different direction, he had hidden his weeping face, and had kept on smiling perhaps.
That's why this had happened.
That's why things had progressed to this unrecoverable state.
However, he could more or less understand his thought process.
’’...... he...... Sion probably wants to use the shortest amount of time to eradicate fighting in the world. Choosing the path with the least number of sacrifices, and advancing along that path. But I'm a little different. I can't distinguish between many lives and few lives, I think. Whether it is sacrificing you to save hundreds of thousands of lives, or sacrificing Sion to save millions of lives, I can't forgive something as stupid as that. At the very least, I don't want that. If you die, I'll cry, if Sion dies, I'll cry. But I hate crying.’’
Toale then smiled wryly.
’’You're so willful.’’
’’...... perhaps. But, that's probably what's different between me and him.’’
’’Ryner-san, because you're too willful right?’’
’’But, he should have the same kind of thinking as me. At any rate, he's the type of person who hates fighting, a person who hates crying, but yet, since there was no one who could save that rotten country, he became king even though he didn't really want to you know? So there's no way a gentle person like him, could kill you, or the people of Nelpha without batting an eyelid, just because this is something necessary, he isn't the kind of person who can decide this so easily with a smiling face, you know?’’
Well, the truth was that he wasn't the kind of person who can come to such decisions easily. Otherwise, Ryner would not no longer be alive by now.
An Alpha Stigma bearer is an accursed creature who would end up killing others. Then, in order to save many other lives, he should have killed the Ryner, who's in danger of going berserk anytime, right away, in order to avoid such a calamity.
But yet, he didn't kill him.
Holding a knife while yelling how he would kill him, but yet, in the end, he didn't kill Ryner.
’’He's really...... a fool. He's always carrying everything by himself and weeping by himself. But still, he started moving forward...... because he had no choice. But, I want to stop him. And I want to look for another way with him. I want to tell him that he's not alone, and doesn't need to shoulder everything by himself. But, I'm no longer by his side. My voice can no longer reach him. That's why I'm aiming higher. I want to reach a place where my loud voice can reach him. For that purpose, I......’’
At that juncture, while looking intently at Ryner, Toale began,
’’For that purpose, you've come to save me.’’
’’...... both of you are my friends. I've already said this earlier, but I hate to see my friends cry or die.’’
’’...... I see. But I heard that Sion-san wants to kill you...... and you still want to save Sion-san in spite of that?’’
But, to that question,
’’Don't make me repeat myself please.’’
Ryner replied promptly.
Toale then smiled.
’’......even when you are faced with that, you hate to see your friend cry...... and because I'm a friend, you will risk your life to protect me? That's quite reassuring huh.’’
Ryner shrugged his shoulders.
’’Well, if you keep annoying me by making me say those lines again and again, I won't be your friend anymore.’’
On hearing that, haha, Toale laughed out loud. Following that,
’’Then, during the first time we met......’’
’’That was purely a coincidence. I didn't know about your identity then, and even if I did, it didn't matter. However, that's not the case with Roland. They see your popularity as a threat. You were asleep then so you didn't know this, but a year ago, when we were putting up at your house, Roland had sent an assassin, but got driven off by us. Well, during then, I didn't know that he was an assassin from Roland as well......’’
At that moment, Ryner recalled the time when the assassin came to kill Toale.
He remembered the unpleasant guy called Miran Froaude, who had eyes cold like the devil, and wielded a Heroes'Relic.
The first time he fought him was in the backyard of Toale's house.
He never would have thought that Froaude was the subordinate of Sion.
Was that also.
Was that assassination attempt also carried out on the orders of Sion? If that's true, then right from the start, he was already looking in a different direction from Sion.
Well, even if he worried about it now, there was nothing he could do about it, so he brushed those thoughts aside.
Meanwhile, Toale had an expression of surprise on his face at hearing that.
’’I didn't hear about it.’’
’’We didn't tell you.’’
’’You should have told me.’’
’’Even if I had told you, it wouldn't amount to anything.’’
’’Eh? No, that's true but...... but doesn't that mean my life got saved twice by you guys?’’
But, Ryner waved his hand to brush that aside.
’’You gave us food, a place to sleep, and on top of that let us into the library, we are even.’’
’’Erm no, that can't make us even right.’’
’’You think so?’’
’’Then, trust me this time. That will make us even.’’
’’But, aren't you doing this to save me......’’
However, Ryner shook his head.
’’That's not it. I'm also asking you to lend me a hand to save Sion.’’
Upon saying that, Ryner held his hand out to Toale.
’’Can you lend me a hand?’’
He looked intently at Toale with a serious expression on his face.
Then, wasn't this how Sion held his hand out to me?, Ryner thought in the corner of his mind.
Let's go together, Ryner thought back to the time when Sion had held his hand out to him.
That really saved him. Having been engulfed in loneliness and thinking that he was better off dead, that one line really saved him.
But it was different now.
He was no longer the one being saved, but the one who will try to save, he thought.
Of course, he didn't think that he could do it as well as Sion.
That's why Ryner held his hand out to Toale. Moreover, he didn't know whether he could be saved. No, to have taken this path, he didn't know whether he could save Toale, and after that Sion.
But, he could no longer bear seeing others get hurt and not do anything about it.
He had to move forward.
Whatever the result might be, he shall shoulder all that and move forward, Ryner thought.
Just like what Sion did.
Just like how he has saved the me who has been running away all this while.
That's why Ryner stretched his hand straight out to Toale.
Toale then looked at that hand. He looked intently at it with a troubled face.
It was difficult to make a determined decision. He was carrying tens of thousands of lives on his back. If he made a mistake, there was a possibility that all those lives would be lost.
He was probably fearful of that.
He was fearful of carrying all that.
A weight that was as heavy as the one as Sion, who was enduring everything like an idiot and screaming in anguish.
That was why Toale looked at Ryner's hand silently for a while.
But in the end,
’’...... jeez, you got me. Coming at me straight in that manner with my troops surrounding the tent, doesn't that make me feel embarrassed?’’
While saying that, he took Ryner's hand. And then,
’’I understand. I shall trust you. You won't be falsifying your identity again, right?’’
He smiled upon saying that.
To which Ryner smiled as well,
’’No, I'm still fake this time you know? The truth is the hardworking me you're seeing now is a fake, the real me really wants to dump everything and take an afternoon nap.’’
On hearing that, Toale said,
’’I know that, you know? I also want to dump everything and take a nice afternoon nap.’’
’’You said it.’’
’’Yes. But, we can't run away from troublesome things...... and what should our future plans be?’’
On hearing that question, Ryner released Toale's hand. He scratched his head and started thinking again.
Originally, Ryner's plan was like this.
To look for valuable, capable people to protect the commoners with the soldiers.
In the meantime, Ryner will bring along Toale to subdue Starnel.
If however, Roland breaks its agreement and attacks while Ryner and Toale are not around, then the plan will change.
The Nelpha troops will carry the flags of Roland and attack Runa, then pretend to lose and run away.
This act should create a powerful threat to Roland.
At any rate, if things go badly, the alliance relationship between Runa and Roland could sour terribly.
Of course, since Runa and Roland are allies, there was a possibility that Runa has already been alerted to this plan of Ryner's, but that would not pose a problem.
The problem was how other countries would view the troops carrying Roland's flags getting beaten off by Runa.
Say for an example, what will happen if that is known to Cassla?
No, even if not other countries.
What will happen if this news reach the troops led by Starnel?
What if the soldiers of Runa were misled into thinking that their ally, Roland, was fearful of them?
The rumor would spread easily.
It's even better if it's a bad rumor.
And if that kind of rumor were to spread, the image of a mighty Roland that Sion was trying to paint would crumble. In this way, the image of nobody being able to resist against Roland who held an absolute amount of overbearing power, would easily crumble.
The other countries in the south would form an alliance and there was a possibility that Roland would no longer be able to advance northwards easily.
That's why the plan should work easily.
Since Sion is a gentle person who will choose the path with the lowest number of sacrifices.
That's why, just by doing the things they ought to do, even without attacking Runa, the plan should succeed.
Ryner was then about to explain the plan to Toale.
He was about to explain it to him and tell him it's okay to follow him.
But, at that moment.
Before Ryner could explain the plan to Toale.
Abruptly, everything started going crazy.
Suddenly, the entrance to the tent opened.
Ryner turned his gaze there.
Standing there, was the face of a familiar man.
Golden hair tied up behind him, a calm face.
That was the man who Ferris took hostage when Ryner attacked Claugh a few days ago.
His name was Shuss Shirazz, if he remembered correctly.
An excellent vice-commander of Claugh.
Ryner looked at Shuss with tinge of surprise,
’’Oh, they sent a messenger at a surprisingly early time. Have you already told Sion my suggestion?’’
On hearing that, Shuss nodded. Then,
’’...... we did.’’
As he said that, for some reason, his face looked dark and a little pained.
On seeing that, Ryner asked with a puzzled look.
’’...... so, what did he say? You've come here to give a reply because he accepted right? At any rate, he should not have any a choice other than to accept this plan......’’
But, cutting his words off, Shuss said.
’’No. The reply has not come yet.’’
’’Huh? There's no reply?’’
’’Then, what did you come here for? If there's no reply, there's no meaning in you coming here right?’’
On hearing Ryner's words, Shuss made an even more pained expression,
’’...... the truth is that I came here not on His Majesty's orders, but to pass a message to you from Field Marshal Claugh Klom.’’
On hearing that, Ryner face became increasingly more puzzled.
As if he had entirely no clue.
He had never expected that in this situation, it was not a reply from Sion, but a message from Claugh. That's why he could not guess what kind of message it would be.
He knew that it would not be something good. He knew that immediately just by looking at Shuss's face.
Looking at the dark expression on Shuss's face, Ryner asked.
’’So, what is it? What did that muscle idiot red-hair want to tell me? Did he say I'm annoying and that he wanted to kill me?’’
Following that, in a grave voice unmatching of that light tone of Ryner, Shuss said.
’’No. Field Marshal, his Honor, told you to...... 'Run away'......’’
Ryner cocked his head at those words.
’’Huh? Run away? What is the meaning of that? Why do I have to run away? We are the ones threatening Roland right? Right now, you shouldn't be able to take on both Runa and Nelpha right. In order to prevent that, Sion definitely has to accept my idea......’’
However, Shuss cut him off there,
’’...... Roland has already started invading Runa Empire.’’
Ryner's eyes widened at that,
He could only utter.
But, Shuss continued.
’’His Majesty made no reply to your message. He ignored it totally. And, Roland has already passed the southern borders of Runa, and advancing northwards at an overwhelming speed. The commander is Marshal Bayuuz White and, Lieutenant General Miran Froaude. Without accepting Runa's surrender, they are now massacring people. And we have also received our orders. Until we have killed both Starnel Nelphi and Toale Nelphi, do not relax on your attacks. Show them Roland's might --- it said.’’
On hearing that.
On hearing that, Ryner.
Was at a loss for words.
He then desperately turned over what Shuss had said in his head. Unable to breathe, his face pale, he thought desperately.
Shuss had said.
’’His Majesty made no reply to your message.’’
Shuuss had said that.
But, he thought otherwise.
The reply had already come.
Sion had already made his stand on Ryner's plan.
I'll not accede to your wise plan. Roland shall, without borrowing your power, challenge the world with its might, speed, fearsomeness, and massiveness.
In order to do that, I don't care how much sacrifices there will be. Even if it amounts to hundreds of thousands, or even millions of lives.
The balance Sion was using has become a gigantic one.
On realizing that, Ryner uttered,
He had made another mistake.
He had made another mistake in his calculations.
Because of that, large numbers of people will die.
Because of my stupidity, foolishness, and my lack of consideration, many people will die.
Because my resolve has yet reached the level of Sion's, large numbers of people will die once again.
Upon thinking that,
’’...... damn damn damn.’’
He wanted to cry.
He wanted to run away.
He wanted to run away to a faraway place right now.
But there was no place to run to. He was already shouldering large numbers of lives.
Even if he was slapped with sudden despair, and wanted to scream in anguish.
He could only move forward like what Sion did.
He could only move forward like him.
Since the gears were spinning.
Since they were spinning crazily, intensely.
That's why Ryner.
He glared at Shuss, and with a low, cracked voice,
’’...... Roland already has the power to crush both Nelpha and Runa at the same time?’’
However, that was a foolish question.
The results had been proven.
Runa had already declared their surrender, but Roland did not accept it and continued to raze them.
And that performance was probably creating a dramatic effect. As a result of having razed and crushed two countries, Nelpha and Runa, with overwhelming might, Roland has created an image of itself to other countries as a fearsome country that will not accept any kind of surrender once it starts waging war.
It would be able to make other countries tremble in fear with that image.
So the next time when it moves again, others will proclaim a surrender without even putting up a resistance, allowing Roland to proceed unhindered.
For that purpose.
For that purpose, there was meaning to the massacre this time.
This was the best choice to minimize the number of sacrifices in the future.
In order to take the path of least sacrifices, Sion had again taken the lives of large numbers of people.
In order to take the shortest path, Sion had again chosen the lives of large numbers of people.
The one who had yet the resolve.
The one who had yet to make his resolve,
’’...... is me.’’
Ryner said groaningly with a face that was on the verge of crying.
But, he had really never thought that Roland would be able to acquire such overwhelming power to be able take on both Nelpha and Runa at the same time. It was beyond his expectations.
’’...... damn. That's also my calculation mistake.’’
Even when he had been spending that same time with Sion, he had never noticed it.
He had never once noticed the depth of the darkness he bore.
He regretted it.
Even when the regrets did not help him, he regretted.
’’...... I understand now what Sion is doing. So, Claugh is asking me to run away?’’
’’In two more days, we'll start advancing our troops again. The next time we meet on the battlefield, we intend to kill all of you. But for just two days...... we'll stop at our current location. In the meantime......’’
Ryner continued from there.
’’...... in the meantime, you want us to run away? In other words, this time, Claugh is unsatisfied with Sion's order?’’
But, Shuss said.
’’No, he didn't say that. Field Marshal, His Honor, will definitely not go against the orders of His Majesty.’’
Even if he said that, Claugh would not be setting off immediately, and would be delaying things for two days. On top of that, he even told Ryner about the current situation, where Sion had started attacking Runa.
If this is not going against his orders, then what else is?
But Ryner instead said,
Shuss nodded again.
’’That's right. And my mission ends here. The next time we meet will be......’’
’’On the battlefield?’’
’’Yes. The next time I will be killing you. I won't be so easily defeated like the last time, so brace yourself.’’
Upon saying that, Shuss turned on his heel. With that, he started exiting the tent.
To his back,
’’...... tell Claugh thanks for his help.’’
On hearing that, Shuss merely waved lightly and left the tent.
Looking after his departing figure,
Ryner took a deep breath and breathed out. As if he were letting go of the built up despair in his body, he breathed out with all his strength.
And once again, he looked at the Toale beside him.
Toale was making a complicated face. Looking at that face,
’’I'm sorry Toale. The plan's all messed up.’’
’’So, with regards to what's next......’’
Upon saying that, a tired smile surfaced on Toale's lips,
’’I shall show myself to Roland, and get executed publicly......?’’
But Ryner shook his head.
’’That's useless. Roland is not even willing to accept the surrender of Runa, we don't know how far they will go with the massacring until they are satisfied...... well, at the very least, the soldiers who followed you will be killed.’’
Toale then smiled sadly.
’’Uwah, that is a little...... too much for me. It's all because of my fault to have led these soldiers......’’
’’No, that's not it. If you hadn't stopped these soldiers, they would have already been killed by Claugh. You have saved their lives.’’
’’It's just for a few days though...... but, then, what should we do?’’
On hearing those words, Ryner kept quiet again.
As he pondered, he looked up at the roof part of the tent. The sunlight that was passing through the tent top was red.
The sun was already setting.
Night was falling.
When night comes, they won't be able to move.
However, there was not much time left.
Roland's troops were pressing in from the south, as well as from Runa's side.
If they don't run, they'll get killed.
Everyone'll get killed.
Realizing that, Ryner called out,
The entrance to the tent opened. Selues entered.
’’What is it?’’
Ryner said to the solemn face of his.
’’My plan has failed. Roland's troops will be attacking from Runa's side. We need to escape now. So mobilize the troops. We're running.’’
Selues then stared at him,
’’What about the commoners?’’
’’Scatter them, to the west. We shall go north, straight through the Autonomous Holy City of Cassla. Roland's forces will probably come after us.’’
’’I see. So we are the decoy for the commoners to get away. That's a great way to die.’’
On hearing his words, Ryner's face contorted.
However, on the solemn face of Selues, a thin smile surfaced for the first time.
’’No, you made the right choice. I can trust you a little more with this.’’
Upon saying that, he turned around. Then,
’’The situation has changed! We need to change locations again!’’
While yelling, he went outside.
After ascertaining that, Ryner turned towards Toale.
’’Then, let's go, Toale. There's already no more time left. Let's get going quickly. Since you are the one being targeted, you should be moving right at the front.’’
However, for some reason, Toale smiled sadly,
’’....... no, I can't do that. I shall stay back.’’
As he said that, Ryner's face contorted again.
’’Huh? Why? What are you going to do here?’’
Toale then said,
’’...... I shall remain here and buy some time by negotiating with Roland......’’
However, before he could finish, Ryner said,
’’Use your head Toale! If you were to remain here, most of the troops who have followed you will also remain here right. What will then happen to them? Do you want everyone to die with you? You're leaving. Take the soldiers and flee to Cassla.’’
To which Toale made an unsettled face,
’’Will Cassla take in the soldiers of Nelpha?’’
However, Ryner promptly replied,
’’I don't know. But, other than that, there's no other way. At any rate, if you stay here, everyone will get killed. We have no choice but to try. Now that we're going to do it...... now that we're going to do it, I'll...... definitely not let you die. Even though we were talking about decoys earlier there's no need to die. Before Roland catches up to us, we'll pass through Cassla. You'll live and get away. Everyone will get away and laugh in the end. So don't foolishly talk about dying again. Get it?’’
In response to that strong tone of Ryner, Toale looked intently at him and said,
’’....... got it.’’
And nodded. Then, with a somewhat delighted smile,
’’And thanks for coming here to help me...... Ryner.’’
Not Ryner-san, he dropped the honorifics and called him Ryner.
On hearing that, with a somewhat embarrassed and vexed face, Ryner began,
’’Aah jeez, don't worry about stuff like that. Now, go to where Major Selues is. If you take command, the soldiers will probably move faster. Get a thousand troops to remove their military uniforms to protect the commoners and disperse them. The remaining soldiers shall head north......’’
But, at that moment before he could finish ---
Screams rang out from their surroundings.
Following that, a thunderous roaring noise which made their heads spin sounded.
In response to that.
In response to that, Ryner's eyes widened in shock.
But, once again.
Screams rang out.
Following by another thunderous roar, again and again.
Ryner then said again,
’’...... no way, how could this.......’’
He murmured dumbfoundedly.
This shouldn't be happening.
There was no way the enemies could have reached them so quickly.
But, as before, thunderous roars reverberated.
Flickering lights that dazzled even the eyes of those in the tent.
Following that, another thunderous roar.
Ryner knew about all that.
It was a large-scale magic used by Roland.
’’...... what the hell is happening!?’’
Ryner yelled as he rushed out of the tent.
At the instant he exited the tent.
The night sky, the dark night sky was lit up.
Before Ryner's eyes, tens of people.
Were reduced to ashes in an instant.
Screams were heard from men, women, children, and the elderly who were roasted from the high temperatures caused by magic.
Screams rang out.
And then they got roasted.
The people who were roasted by the intense fire died.
’’...... uwah...... damn, shit......’’
Ryner trembled as he saw that. He couldn't move.
However, from the hell-like scene, Kiefer came dashing over.
’’Ryner! Roland's troops are approaching from the borders at Runa's side......’’
She was also on the verge of tears. In her arms was a four, five year old girl who was injured.
Looking at that.
Looking at Kiefer's teary face,
Ryner was brought back to his senses. Looking intently at her,
’’...... I got it. Let's run away immediately. Selues! Protect everyone and make for the north! Move the troops! Get them to counter Roland's large-scale magic attack!’’
At that voice of Ryner, Selues gave out orders and the soldiers started moving.
Following that, Toale came out of the tent as well and he told him.
’’Toale, you go lead the people and escape.’’
’’No buts. If you're not there, no one will move. Don't just stand there and get moving! I'll do something about the rear somehow, you just focus on getting everyone out of here!’’
On hearing that, Toale wanted to say something again, but he relented, nodded once, and ran off.
Ryner looked at his departing figure, then said to the unsettled Kiefer beside him,
’’Take Iris, Arua, and Kuku with you and follow Toale.’’
She then made an anguished face. She made a face as if wanting to say that she wants to fight with him here. But instead, her face contorted painfully and she said,
’’...... got it.’’
She then carried the girl in a hugging fashion, and said,
’’I'll do my best in supporting Toale to help him get into Cassla. But, Ryner also......’’
However, at that juncture, he stopped paying attention to her words. He didn't have the luxury of time to listen to that anymore.
If he tarried further, the next large-scale magic attack would come. If that were to happen, tens of people, hundreds of people would die again.
He needed to defend against that.
Ryner looked in the direction of where the magic came from.
He looked in that direction and widened his eyes.
Following that, red pentacle shapes surfaced on the center of his black pupils and glowed.
Cursed eyes known as Alpha Stigma.
With those eyes of his, he tried to locate the faraway large-scale magic spell formation.
But, he couldn't see it.
He couldn't see the construct of the magic.
Was it because they had yet to start creating the large-scale magic, or was it because the troops were charging straight towards here without deploying the large-scale magic?
’’Damn, if I can't see it, I can't come up with the counter spell......’’
But at that moment.
’’I say, Ryner!?’’
His face got punched heavily from the side.
Following that, he turned towards the one who punched him.
The same tearful Kiefer was standing there.
’’Erm, eh? Why did you punch me?’’
To his question, she said with an angry face.
’’Because you are not listening to what I'm saying!’’
’’Erm, what you're saying?’’
’’B-but, this is not the time......’’
But, she cut him off,
’’It's precisely because of that, that I'm telling some seriously important stuff right! So listen up properly!’’
She said menacingly.
On hearing that,
’’...... erm, ah ~, alright. I'm sorry.......’’
Uhm, Kiefer then nodded at Ryner's apology.
’’It's great that you understand.’’
’’Er, erm, so Kiefer, what do you want to tell me?’’
Kiefer looked once to the sky from which the large-scale magic was invoked, and then looked back at Ryner.
Then, with a serious-looking face,
’’Since there isn't much time, I'm going to say all the important stuff that Ryner needs to know in one breath, ok?’’
Ryner nodded in response.
She then exhaled softly, following that, she took a deep breath.
’’...... here goes. Ryner. If say, you are unable to stop Roland's forces here and Nelpha's people and soldiers get massacred, it'd not be your fault. So don't go throwing away your life to save them, get it? I think from hereon, you'll be someone who will save a lot more lives. That's why you can't afford to die here. If you were to die easily here, then you're merely a brainless fool. A fool who won't be able to save Sion. But if you're not a fool, and really want to save a lot more lives...... it's forbidden for you to die here. Get it?’’
On hearing those words, Ryner became flustered,
’’Buts are also forbidden. If you die, I'll commit suicide as well. I'll definitely do it you know?’’
’’Eeeeeeeeeh, hey, Kiefe......’’
But, with a serious-looking face that was really on the verge of crying, she continued.
’’I'm serious ok? I don't want to live in a world without you. So if you end up being unable to stop Roland's forces, run away. Get it?’’
On hearing those words.
While Ryner was yet unable to reply, Kiefer started again,
’’I'm asking you whether you get it or not!!’’
She yelled loudly.
He trembled a little,
’’......I-I, got it.’’
’’Alright! Then go!’’
’’Hurry up! If not, I'm really going to cry!!’’
While shouting, Kiefer had in fact started crying. In response to that, Ryner frantically turned his face away,
’’Erm, er ~, sorry.’’
’’Then, I'm off.’’
’’Right...... you must definitely not die.’’
Kiefer said from behind.
Ryner then nodded,
’’Kiefer, don't die as well.’’
’’Uhn. Then...... see ya.’’
’’Aah. See ya.’’
Upon saying that, Ryner started running.
Firstly, back to the tent. Ferris was already awake.
’’Roland is attacking.’’
On hearing those words, her face became a little dazed and she said,
’’...... horh. So, what are you planning to do?’’
’’Go receive them for a bit while the others escape. Wanna join me?’’
A thin smile floated on her face. She then drew the sword at her waist.
’’...... well, if I'm not around, you will be trembling in fear like a weak worm, pee in your pants and die. Jeez! You're already an adult and still pee in your pants, aren't you ashamed of yourself!’’
’’Hey, what are you talking about?’’
Another smile appeared,
’’I'm lending you a hand so that you don't pee in your pants.’’
After saying that, she swung her sword, and sliced apart the tent flaps.
Then, beyond the sliced portion. Far beyond that.
Ryner could see a light construct forming up.
It was a large scale lightning attack magic, Raguru (Lightning Falling Lighting).
There were three of them.
’’...... three, huh.’’
Too little. Ryner thought.
If Roland's main forces were closing in, there will be ten times more Raguru (Lightning Falling Lighting).
In other words, right now, the ones that were attacking them were a smaller vanguard.
A force to hold them here while the main forces arrive.
So that none of them could escape.
In other words, they were attacking in order to massacre all the soldiers and commoners, without letting any one of them escape.
’’...... damn. You're going to this extent huh, Sion.’’
Ryner groaned while he looked intently at the forming Raguru (Lightning Falling Lighting).
If these three Raguru (Lightning Falling Lighting) were completed, hundreds of people would be killed again.
However, they had only just started to form up. And Ryner knew how to shut down that magic. No. Even if, say, he didn't know, with his special pair of eyes he would be able to discover the way to shut it down.
A smile surfaced on Ryner.
’’...... well, but, at this level, it's still possible to barely counteract them.’’
Upon saying that, he looked around him. And as expected, he found a group of Nelpha soldiers who were about to make a large scale magical attack,
’’Hey you guys, that won't do. More importantly, don't you have any water-based magic?’’
At that question, a soldier answered.
’’Water, you say? We do...... but the power......’’
But, cutting him off, Ryner said.
’’We don't need power. We just need something simplified. Focus on the speed. The next coming attack would be lightning magic, you guys just render that ineffective......’’
At that moment, from beside him, Ferris broke into a run.
Towards the enemy.
In the direction where the Roland soldiers appeared to be.
After looking at her back, Ryner once again turned to the soldiers and said.
’’...... you guys just stop their large scale magical attack once, in the meantime, we'll keep them in check, can you do it?’’
But the soldiers appeared to be flustered,
’’B-But, how did you know that the enemies are launching a lightning magical attack on us......’’
But Ryner cut him off,
’’I'm an Alpha Stigma bearer. I can tell what kind of magic the other side is using and where they will be coming from.’’
On hearing that.
On hearing his words.
A look of fear appeared on the soldiers'faces. And they peered into the eyes of Ryner.
At the red pentacles floating above the center of his black eyes ---
Following that, their faces became increasingly contorted with fear.
The killer eyes.
The massacring cursed eyes.
Once those crazy eyes go berserk, a scene of carnage and despair will ensue.
That's why everyone hated those cursed eyes.
Hated the people who possess those eyes.
That's why he ran away.
Since he didn't want to be looked upon in that manner again.
Since he didn't want to be looked upon by those fearful, loathing, demeaning eyes again.
But, at that moment, the soldier said.
Looking at him, looking at him with fearful eyes,
’’...... I, I see...... t-that's really reassuring under such circumstances......’’
Said the soldier in a trembling voice, to which Ryner said,
’’...... isn't it?’’
And he smiled.
Following that, he started giving instructions.
’’So listen to me, and defend against their magic. Defending is enough. We'll do the attacking.’’
’’Understood. So, which way......’’
With that, Ryner pointed in two different directions with both his hands.
’’One from this direction. And another one from this direction. And also one from there. They'll be invoking three rounds. From the current constructing speed, you have probably another five minutes. So, how long do you need?’’
That soldier then turned around.
And another soldier behind said,
’’For the simplified version, in two minutes.’’
’’Then get to it now.’’
As the soldier acknowledged, the soldiers and commoners who were heading north had started to move.
’’Oh, finally, the preparations to escape are done huh.’’
Ryner turned towards the crowd who were starting to move.
Aaarrrggghhh, sloooowwwww, Ryner wanted to holler at the moving crowd.
But it couldn't be helped.
There were both children and elderly. They were not trained soldiers.
Even if the vanguard sent out by Roland were to retreat, the main forces would probably catch up in no time.
However, even so, they couldn't give up. Even if it was only for a little while, they needed to escape northwards.
That's why he fought.
At the battlefield.
Not only that, at last, he had to fight the soldiers of his own country.
His finger danced in the air, and started carving out glowing words. And then.
’’I OFFER THE CONTRACTED WORDS, LETTING THE SLUMBERING MALICIOUS SPIRIT DWELL WITHIN.’’
His body sparkled and his movement speed increased......
But, at that moment.
A voice sounded from behind him. It was the voice of Arua.
Ryner frowned and turned around.
’’What are you doing! Hurry up and get out of here!’’
But, Arua said,
’’I can't bring you along! This is not a situation where you can be useful! Go protect Kuku, Kiefer, and Iris!’’
After saying that, he was about to ignore Arua and run off, but,
’’No! I won't be a burden to Sensei! I've come here to bring you these.’’
On hearing those words,
Ryner turned around.
Arua handed him a bunch of cloth-like objects that he was hugging against his chest,
’’...... if you are going to fight Roland soldiers, won't it be easier to get close to them if you bring these along?’’
Ryner took them. And opened them up.
They were the Roland flags which he had gotten Iris to prepare for him earlier.
Ryner then said,
’’Ohhh, aren't you a smart one!’’
Arua then smiled happily.
’’Was I useful?’’
’’Very! As expected of my disciple!’’
On hearing those words, Arua blushed and smiled, ehhehe like a kid.
’’Well then, go back, and protect Kuku, Kiefer and Iris.’’
Arua then made a slightly worried face,
’’What about Sensei......’’
Ryner shrugged his shoulders.
’’I'll be right back. Kiefer said that she'll get mad at me if I die, so I'll come back alive.’’
’’...... is that a promise?’’
’’Yeah. It's a promise. Ok, I'm off.’’
After saying that, Ryner started running.
He went in the opposite direction of the waves of people. Before long, he left the crowd. And on the other side.
On the side of the open field, was Ferris riding a horse.
While riding on a horse, with her left hand, she was holding onto the reins of another horse running alongside her.
Ryner tried to catch up to her with everything he got, and gradually, gradually, the tiredness from the acceleration started seeping in,
’’Ah, hey, Ferris! I can't do this! It's tiring to chase you! Could you stop for a little while?’’
Ferris ignored him.
’’Heeeeeeeyyyy, you can hear me right! I'm telling you to stop!’’
And at last, she turned around. And gleefully, pahn pahn, she clapped her hands,
’’Mr Ogre, I'm here ♪, the sound of my hands......’’
Yelled Ryner as he accelerated even further. He ran at his full speed where he felt as if his legs were rupturing, and as the horse got closer, he kicked the ground.
With that, he got onto the back of the horse.
Zeh zeh, he groaned as he gripped the reins. Getting meaninglessly tired, his entire body was covered in sweat in an instant.
Looking at that, Ferris said,
’’Ooh, you can do it if you try.’’
’’Shut up. And, don't make me waste my energy like that......’’
’’Hm. But there's no time right? Before the enemy launches their next magical attack, we have to......’’
’’No, it'll be fine. The Nelpha soldiers will do something about that. Even though it'll indeed be terrible if they managed to invoke it next time......’’
But, at that moment, Ferris faced the front and squinted her eyes. Ryner followed her sight.
He could tell that they were nearing the enemy squads. If the horses were to run at full speed, at this rate, they would probably be able to charge right in the enemy formation in three to four minutes.
’’Before the next magical attack, we can charge into the enemy it seems. But the problem is the enemy numbers. Do you think we can render them ineffective with just the two of us?’’
On hearing those words, Ryner folded his arms.
’’Uhn ~, I wonder ~’’
The large scale magic, Raguru (Lightning Falling Lightning) that was about to be invoked would need at least thirty casters.
In order to bring the greatest amount of power smoothly, they would need a hundred people.
In other words, for the enemy to invoke the three rounds of Raguru (Lightning Falling Lightning), they would need at least ninety mage soldiers and at most three hundred of them.
But normally, with respect to the practice of Roland, the large scale magic squads are protected by four times more troops than the casters. Once the casters start to invoke the large scale magic, they will not be able to move for five minutes, and during that time, they will be completely defenseless, so in order to protect them, a substantial number of troops are needed.
In other words, on the other side of this open field, the number of Roland troops would number at least more than five hundred.
In the worst case, there could be a thousand people.
Of course, it was not a number that could be handled by just two people.
On hearing Ferris's words, Ryner nodded.
’’I've got one.’’
’’What should we do?’’
’’...... I'll tamper with the large scale magic on their side.’’
’’Horh. So in other words...... we have to bust right into the enemy, and you'll forcibly change the magic formations made by the enemy?’’
’’While being completely surrounded by a ton of enemies, I shall hold them off while you change their magic formations right?’’
’’...... hm. I see. And, there's something I want to ask.’’
’’...... can you call that moronic strategy a strategy?’’
Ryner smiled wryly at that question.
’’...... yeah you can't call that a strategy at all. We might die. Then again, shall I think of another plan...... I'd rather just risk my own life, but to get you caught up in it......’’
But Ferris said to that,
’’But, there's no time to come up with another strategy right?’’
To which Ryner nodded.
’’While coming up with one, others will die.’’
’’Then, we have no choice but to do it.’’
’’...... yeah. Sorry.’’
’’No need for apologies. In the worst case, I'll just abandon you and escape.’’
On hearing those words of hers,
’’It'll be great if you can do that.’’
Said Ryner, but, even though she said that, she won't just abandon me and escape, how troublesome, he thought.
It was just as Kiefer had said.
There was no reason for Ryner to die here.
He could not succeed in his strategy all by himself. He would definitely need Ferris's cooperation.
However, if things come to a point where they can't do anything, Ferris will definitely.
She will definitely not abandon me and escape.
That's the type of person she is.
In other words, if Ryner were to die, Ferris would also die.
That would be terrible.
He didn't want that.
In other words, this time,
’’...... I have to do my best......’’
He moaned out.
He was exasperated at the fact that even though he had already been working hard up till here, but, why did he have to work even harder?
However, if he doesn't work even harder, he won't be able to protect the things that are important to him.
And they include Ferris, Kiefer, Iris, Kuku, Arua, Toale, and also Sion.
So, even while feeling exasperated,
He looked ahead.
They were nearly upon the enemy.
As to the enemy numbers ---
’’...... ah ~, that's around three thousand.’’
’’A few thousand more than what I've thought.’’
’’A calculation error.’’
’’Yeah. With the two of us, we can take on about twenty to thirty of them......’’
She nodded. And for some reason, she looked delighted,
’’...... in the past, we also charged into a swarm of troops before. This time round, let's do the same.’’
On hearing those words, a smile surfaced on him.
’’Yeah ~, that incident huh.’’
And he recalled.
That was an incident which had taken place in Nelpha.
He had just met Ferris not long ago then.
It was an incident which had taken place when they were just starting to search for the Heroes'Relics, and had just entered Nelpha from Roland.
The Nelpha troops had captured Milk, and they had gone to save her.
However, the enemy numbered fifty then. And it was tough even with just fifty of them. Rather, they were risking their lives there.
But the enemy numbered three thousand this time.
’’...... somehow, I feel like running.’’
’’The scared Ryner wants to call out to Mama while he pees in his pants huh?’’
Ferris said lightly as usual, but Ryner nodded readily.
’’Yeah, I'm about to. If the strategy fails, and if you were to die, I will definitely be unable to take it, and pee from my eyes. So......’’
At that moment, he looked at her.
’’So Ferris. If things become really bad, get away.’’
She then looked at him as well,
’’...... uhm. You too......’’
’’Then, let's go.’’
Upon saying that, Ferris sped up her horse even further.
At the same time, Roland completed its large scale magic attack.
It was Raguru (Lightning Falling Lightning).
And they fired it towards the Nelpha soldiers.
As they did so, a large scale magic for counteracting that was invoked from Nelpha.
Different from individual magic, one by one, three bouts of lightning that was powerful enough to blind the eyes were fired, but, they were received by a wall formed by large amounts of water erected by the Nelpha soldiers and rendered ineffective.
A buzz then started among the Roland soldiers. As Ryner expected, the enemy's attention was drawn to that wall of water. Nobody noticed their presence.
Looking at that,
Upon saying that, Ryner spread the Roland flags. With that, he jumped off the horse, and charged into the Roland forces.
At that moment.
A person noticed him. And his face turned to one of surprise.
Ryner then showed the flag,
’’I'm an ally. I carry an order from Field Marshal Claugh Klom from the south.’’
The soldier then started frantically,
’’His Grace, Field Marshal Klom?’’
’’Yeah, that's right. It's an emergency. Who's the one commanding this force?’’
As Ryner asked that, he tensed up a little.
It'll be bad if it's him, he thought.
That monster who was entirely covered in black, and a user of a Hero's Relic.
It'll be bad if it's Miran Froaude, he thought.
According to Shuss, currently, the ones attacking Runa were Lieutenant General Miran Froaude and, the former military man from the Kingdom of Estabul, Marshal Bayuuz White.
The one called White might be worse. While Ryner had never really met him before, he had heard from Sion that his ability is the real deal.
But the soldier said,
’’The commander is Captain Terohm. He's right at the center.’’
Upon saying that, he pointed to behind him.
Sighed out softly.
It's not White nor Froaude. The two of them were probably with the main body.
With that, the situation was very much easier.
Ryner did not look in the direction where the soldier pointed. It was not like he had any business with the commander.
The ones whom he had business with were.
He looked at the left, right, center of the forces where new large scale magic were starting to get deployed.
The next spell they were invoking was once again Iigisu (Flaming Crimson Fangs). The magic that was first used to burn the soldiers and commoners of Nelpha.
He would tamper with them.
Ryner pointed to the closest Iigisu (Flaming Crimson Fangs) that was in the process of getting invoked to the right. Ferris then nodded.
At that moment, a number of soldiers started,
’’Hey, don't you find it strange? Why aren't they wearing any military uniforms......’’
However, without waiting for them to finish, the two of them started running.
Pushing through the soldiers, they dashed towards the Iigisu (Flaming Crimson Fangs).
In the midst of that.
One of the soldiers looked at them,
’’...... don't tell me they are enemies? Hey, report this to Captain Terohm......’’
As the man was speaking, Ferris struck him down.
Seeing that, a number of soldiers said,
’’Hey, did you see that!’’
’’It's the enemy!’’
’’The enemy has come!?’’
While yelling that.
Ryner invoked his magic.
Drawing the magic inscription in the air at a high speed,
’’WHAT I SEEK IS SILENCE >>>ANTE’’
The sounds around them were gone.
With Ryner at the center, the sounds in the surrounding area were gone. A blanket of silence fell on them.
This is a simple magic that stops the vibration of the air and stops sounds from getting transmitted, however, when people are in a completely soundless environment, their hearts will become unsettled. Especially in the case of noisy battlefields.
Previously, when he used this magic against Nelpha soldiers, it caused a great panic among them. However, this time round, the reactions should be a little different.
The reason was because ---
The reason was because this was Roland's magic.
At that moment, sounds returned.
’’What!? What's the meaning of this!? Someone extinguished the sounds!?’’
’’Who was the one who used Ante!’’
A commotion started among the soldiers.
Gazing at that, Ryner started drawing another magic inscription. And then,
’’WHAT I SEEK IS WATER MIST >>>MISUMI’’
A large amount of water became a raging stream and rained upon the soldiers,
’’I-It's the eneeeeeeeeemmmmyyyy!’’
’’No, wait! This is Roland's magic! It's a traitor! There's a traitor!’’
This time round, a panic ensued.
And that's not the kind of panic caused by the desperate searching of the enemy. It was the kind of panic caused by the possibility of having everyone around oneself as an enemy.
And by that time, Ryner and Ferris had finally reached the invocation location of Iigisu (Flaming Crimson Fangs).
Ferris drew her sword and started mowing down the mage soldiers who were casting Iigisu (Flaming Crimson Fangs).
And as Ryner reached what was behind them,
’’Now, here I go ~, ohrhya.’’
With a tremendous force, he started tampering with the Iigisu (Flaming Crimson Fangs).
And around that time, the surrounding soldiers started realizing who the enemies were.
’’Stop those two!’’
With that yelling, a single person started drawing a magic inscription while facing them.
’’I won't allow it.’’
Ferris beat him down with her sword.
Following that, a number of others drew their swords and came attacking her, but in an instant, they were sent sprawling onto the floor.
On top of that, a number of other soldiers drew their swords and came attacking Ryner,
Ferris said as she came back to him and somehow sent them flying.
But the enemy waves did not stop. A number of soldiers started drawing glowing magic inscriptions simultaneously.
’’How long are you going to take?’’
’’Make it one.’’
’’Then, just hurry up and get on with it!’’
While saying that, she jumped out again. After striking down one, two, three of the soldiers who had started inscribing magic circles, she returned to Ryner's side.
At the same time, the soldiers completed their magic.
Three bouts of Kurenai.
The streaking light of Kuuri that was fired off first was sliced apart by Ferris.
Following that, she snatched the Roland flags away from Ryner, knocked off some of the flaming shells from Kurenai, and repelled the rest with her sword ---
Then, in the nick of time, she jumped towards the last remaining flaming shell flying towards Ryner and......
She knocked it off with her bare hand.
Ferris's left arm got scorched and hung loosely. Unable to move.
Ryner uttered but,
’’Don't worry about me, just finish what you need to do!’’
She yelled angrily and jumped out again.
She then further went on to kick the face of a man who was about to start drawing a magic inscription, and swung her sword with just her right hand.
However, bit by bit, she was no longer able to defend against the enemy's attacks.
And Ferris's body became,
Covered in blood.
’’...... damn, damn, what am I doing...... faster, I need to finish this faster......’’
While saying that, Ryner hastened his hand.
He couldn't go help her. He wouldn't be able to do much by helping her.
That's why he stopped looking at her.
The last time his eyes were on her, she was cut by a sword from behind. She couldn't dodge that. Blood was spurting. Her cries of anguish could be heard.
But, even so, Ryner did not go help her. He merely,
’’...... please...... please, don't die, Ferris!’’
Yelled as he focused on the magic inscriptions before him.
And continued tampering with its composition. With an abnormal fast speed, he changed the structure of the complex puzzle that was constructed by many people.
A little bit more.
’’I just have a little bit more, so Ferris! Keep on going!’’
At the same time he shouted that, he completed it. In the center of that large scale magic's giant inscription, which could not have been drawn by a single person, on the platform, a billow of black smoke formed, and the smoke spread to the surroundings in just a moment.
Then, it penetrates into the magic inscriptions of the other Iigisu (Flaming Crimson Fangs) that were concurrently in the process of getting invoked, and altered their structure.
What was invoked was a little curse. A curse that stopped the activity of the spirits in this area.
With this, for the next fifteen minutes, it would not be possible to use any magic near these magic inscriptions.
And this was not the magic of Roland. Rather, it was not a magic of any country. This was a special magic that Ryner had researched for the past few years, that's why, once again, unable to comprehend what was happening, panic descended upon the Roland soldiers.
At any rate, they could not use magic.
On the battlefield, if they could not use magic, they would not be able to pursue their enemies.
In the next fifteen minutes.
The Nelpha soldiers would have an overwhelming advantage.
Since Ryner had invoked that magic,
’’...... I'm done! Now, let's get out of here, Ferris!’’
He turned around to look for her.
Covered entirely with blood, Ferris was on her knees.
Her entire body was full of wounds. Blood flowing. Even on her face. Even on her abnormally well-featured, beautiful face, there were wounds.
She looked at him.
She looked at him with a troubled face.
’’...... I'm sorry, Ryner. I'm dy......’’
At that moment, from beside her, a sword was about to swing down. As if to behead her, a sword was about to swing down.
Ryner broke into a sprint.
But, his movements were terribly slow. Due to the magic invoked by Ryner which stopped the activity of all spirits, the acceleration magic which he had cast on himself had been terminated.
It seemed like he couldn't make it. Even while the sword was about to swing down on Ferris's neck, it seemed like he couldn't make it.
But, still, Ryner ran. With everything he got.
And he jumped.
He jumped into the space between the sword and Ferris and embraced her.
Instantly, the enemy's sword slashed deep into his left shoulder and struck his bone. And he was sent flying from the pain and impact. His left arm could no longer move.
But he did not let go of Ferris. While hugging her, he fell onto the ground.
She then looked up at him, and following that, looked at his slashed left shoulder.
’’A-Are you an idiot!? What the hell are you doing!? Y-You...... want to die!?’’
As she said that, Ryner carried her and started running again.
’’T-That's...... my line, idioooooooootttttttt!’’
With his face on the verge of tears, he looked intently at her,
’’Uwaaahhhh, that was close! I thought you were going to die! I thought you were going to die! And cut it out already! Do you really want to die so badly! Didn't you say that you'll run away when it looks like you're going to die! But yet, why were you still guarding me while you were on the verge of dying! Didn't I tell you that if you were to die....... if you were to die, I'll cry! Don't shit with me, jeez!’’
He yelled uncontrollably with anger, and embraced her strongly.
She looked up in a dumbfounded manner, and for some reason, her face turned red. It's probably because she lost too much blood and was gradually weakening, he thought.
With a troubled face that appeared to be red from blushing, she said,
’’...... ah? Errmm, don't...... don't get so angry, Ryner.’’
’’Of course I'm angry.’’
’’I-Is that so...... sorry.’’
’’This is not something you can just make up by apologizing!’’
’’Uuu? Then, what should I do......?’’
While running, Ryner said to that.
’’That'd of course be to live on and get out of here. The two of us. We can't become, we can't become sacrifices in some godforsaken place......’’
But, at that moment, Ryner's words stopped. A number of enemies were again upon them.
However, the Ferris who Ryner was carrying, swung her sword with her still movable right hand and mowed them down.
Ryner then said,
’’Oh, that's pretty good.’’
’’With this, it seems like we can still go on. Can you continue moving your right hand for a while?’’
A weak smile then surfaced on her,
’’Who do you think I am?’’
’’A troublesome rampaging dango girl.’’
’’I'm going to kill you.’’
’’Save that for later. If we survive, I'll let you kill me as much as you want later...... well, shall we go?’’
Ryner asked, to which,
And the two of them started making their escape with everything they got.
While Ferris, who was carried by Ryner, was mowing down the enemies, they moved straight on.
Most of the enemies around them had already realized where they were. Rather, that commander called Terohm or Parohm, well, forget about the name;he should already have realized where they were.
Gradually, groups of the enemies came.
If this were to continue, they would definitely be killed.
They couldn't make it.
They couldn't reach the place where they had left their horses earlier.
Just as he was thinking about that.
The enemy's attacks stopped.
With the yell from a soldier, the enemy's attacks stopped.
That soldier had yelled out,
’’Ne-Nelpha is launching a large scale attackkkkkkk.’’
On hearing that, the eyes which had been trained on Ryner and Ferris turned together towards where the Nelpha forces were.
There, gigantic flames were gathering.
Massive flames used for slaughter were gathering.
Ryner's eyes widened.
Nelpha was about to launched their large scale magic here.
And there were around ten bouts of them.
’’Deploy a counter magic!’’
’’Why!? Why doesn't our magic activate!?’’
Someone cried out tearfully.
’’Are we going to be killed!? Are we all going to die!?’’
With that, terror descended upon the Roland soldiers, and completely ignoring Ryner and Ferris, they started making their escape.
No, Ryner also had to get away. The current wounded Ryner and Ferris wouldn't be able to dodge that many rounds of large scale magic attacks.
This was the worst possible situation.
It was a good thing if they were not to get killed by Roland's soldiers, but at this rate, it was not unlikely for them to get killed by their own allies, Nelpha's soldiers.
To get cornered into such a pressing situation.
But a frail smile surfaced on Ryner. He was looking at Nelpha's large scale attack magic which was quickly being deployed with his Alpha Stigma eyes.
It was a strange type of magic.
For some reason, it was a somewhat strange magic that appeared to be a combination of Roland and Nelpha's magic technology.
On top of that, the magic merely had a flashy appearance;the truth was that flames were not going to come flying towards here, and no attacks were going to come, they were merely flashy balls of fire.
In other words, what Nelpha was invoking now was magic for the purpose of threatening Roland.
A total deception magic, whereby two or three invocations could be performed by merely ten casters.
However, that alone had a tremendous effect. To the unsettled Roland soldiers who were not able to use any magic, upon seeing that fake large scale attack magic, everyone of them started retreating.
Looking at that.
Looking at that magic made up of a combination of Roland and Nelpha magic, Ryner smiled wryly.
’’...... damn. We got saved by Arua......’’
The only person who could do that was him.
Using the casters of Nelpha, by intermingling with Roland's magic, through improvisation, he devised a new type of magic.
That was a capability which could only exist in an Alpha Stigma bearer, who could read the construct of a magic and use it immediately.
And on top of that, to do it at this kind of timing.
After seeing Ryner invoked a magic used for disabling the use of magic, Arua had activated that large scale magic used for threatening Roland's troops.
He was probably looking at them all this while with his Alpha Stigma.
In order to save Ryner.
In order to save Ferris.
As kids, you'll just get in the way!, he wanted to brush him off, but yet, in the end, at the most crucial moment, he was saved by him.
’’...... seems like he has grown a lot...... I have to praise him later......’’
Upon saying that, they reached the horses which they had ridden earlier. And while carrying Ferris, he mounted on one of them. Immediately after that, he galloped off.
There were no longer any Roland soldiers around them. They had all started retreating.
That was the right move, he thought. If they could not understand the situation they were in, they should retreat. On one hand they could not use any magic, on the other hand, the enemy appeared to be about to use a large scale attack magic on them, then they should just escape from the range of the enemy's magic for now.
To have as few casualties as possible --- that was the right decision. The commander here appeared to be pretty capable, he thought.
And once again, Ryner thought,
...... fortunately, the commander is not Froaude.
If it were him, then he might not care about the lives of his allies, and proceed on to attack. After all, the soldiers here were meant to delay the enemy. And even if all his troops were to die, he would continue to attack to slow down the enemy.
If that were to happen, all of Ryner's plans would have been thwarted.
However, the result this time,
’’...... it's our win. We managed to buy time.’’
It was largely a meaningful thing.
For what reason did Roland send a group of soldiers to slow them down? It was easy if one thought about it.
If they didn't come to slow them down, then Roland wouldn't be able to catch up to the Nelpha forces who already had started moving.
In other words, if the delaying attack on Nelpha's soldiers this time round failed, then it meant that the situation had turned favorable.
They had managed to buy time to escape.
Ryner then said,
’’...... ahh, somehow, this is really tiring.’’
As the horse galloped on.
Upon saying that, in front of him, Ferris, who was sitting facing him, looked up,
’’Uhm. Thanks to your thoughtless plan, our bodies and heart are in shambles......’’
As she said that, she suddenly had a 'that's it!'face,
’’Th-Thanks to your violent behavior after getting drunk, my body and heart are in shambles! I'll sue you! I'll definitely sue you! And thus, the trial starts...... cough cough......’’
In the midst of saying all that, she started coughing.
Ryner then frantically said,
’’Jeeeezz, don't start spouting nonsense when you have all those wounds.’’
While saying that, he stroked her back. Ferris then made a unsatisfied face.
Looking at that, Ryner smiled faintly. Even as he smiled, his shoulder hurt, but compared to Ferris's wounds, this pain didn't bother him.
Looking at her bloodied body, he said softly,
’’...... damn. I'm sorry.’’
’’Nothing, I said. It's just that, after having put you through this much this time, I was thinking of giving you a dango treat.’’
On hearing his words.
She stared intently at Ryner for some reason, and said.
’’Hey Ryner. Don't be too conceited.’’
She said all of a sudden.
Ryner then said. Unable to understand her words, he was a little bewildered.
She was still staring at him.
And then, she said. With a somewhat angry voice,
’’...... whatever others may think, my wounds are not the fault of yours. The deaths of the Nelpha's commoners are not the fault of yours. So what's with that apologetic look? Are you omnipotent and right in everything, and will always succeed? Are you God? Stop getting conceited. You've already more than done your best. For a useless scumbag who only attacks girls night after night, you've already done your best. So be proud of yourself. Don't make such a face. Don't talk about treating me to dango, fool. Understand?’’
Ferris said all of a sudden.
To that, Ryner.
Couldn't say a thing. He could only look at her with a surprised face.
But Ferris buried her face into Ryner's chest,
’’That's all I wanted to say. I'm going to sleep. I'm a little tired.’’
’’Ah, er~m, ok. I got it. Wait, you.......’’
But, she immediately said,
’’Ah, but I think it's better to treat me dango anyway. Ok, I'm sleeping. I'll leave the rest to you.’’
Without saying anything further to Ryner, she lost consciousness. Her strength left her and she started to fall off the horse,
Ryner frantically caught her. However, she did not react to his touch at all. She was really covered with terrible wounds. He had to link up with the Nelpha troops quickly and render medical aid to her.
Even when she was covered with such terrible wounds, she was still worried about others like a fool.
Even when she always had a serious face while acting violently and causing trouble to others, at such a time, she only worried about others.
Wanted to say something to Ferris.
He wanted to say something softly to Ferris, and at that moment.
Suddenly, the light started to disappear.
Ryner was surprised.
That was not a metaphor, but truly, all the light of this world was disappearing as if it was being sucked away by something.
The sky, the atmosphere, the land, swiftly before his eyes, the light disappeared and the world was plunged into darkness.
A dizzying darkness.
And then, that darkness ---
’’Don't tell me......’’
Ryner knew of that darkness.
But that shouldn't be. If that was really the thing that Ryner knew of, then things had become troublesome.
No, not just troublesome.
Rather, it was the worst possible situation.
But clearly, that was the thing that Ryner knew of.
It was the same scene when the necklace Hero's Relic, which he and Ferris had gotten hold of while they were visiting Runa, went on a rampage.
The light disappeared from the world.
The light disappeared from the world.
And the light gathered behind Ryner.
In the direction where the Roland soldiers were running away, the light was sucked towards there and gathered.
He turned around.
He looked at the intense bright light gathering at a distance away behind him.
Ryner had seen that before.
It was indeed the same gathering of light by that necklace in Runa.
Looking at that, Ryner trembled.
’’...... you're kidding me.’’
Murmuring that, Ryner trembled.
That light gradually enlarged as it gathered the surrounding power.
Last time, when the light burst off and unleashed its power outwards, the scenery had changed entirely.
An entire mountain was leveled from the abnormally powerful light.
But, the necklace had disappeared at the same time. For some reason, once it was used, it would disappear it seemed, and Ryner had used it by mistake, and should not have brought it back to Roland.
Why did Roland have it?
And why did they use that abnormal power against humans?
That's not something one should use against humans right?
That power is......
’’...... what in the world does Roland....... what in the world does Sion want to do.......’’
But, in the next instant.
The world was bathed in light, the darkness sundered.
He could not see anything.
He could not dodge.
Ryner could only stand there, stunned at the end of everything.
And everything ended.
Ryner opened his blinded eyes.
The land beside him started hollowing.
Away from Roland, along the direction towards the Nelpha soldiers, the land started hollowing.
The scale of the destruction was smaller than the time Ryner invoked the necklace. It might be another type of the same relic perhaps.
But still, even so.
Even so, that was not a power to be used by humans.
Ryner turned around.
The thirty thousand over Nelpha soldiers and commoners who were running away was down by a third.
The rest had died.
In that instant just now.
With just a burst of light, over ten thousand people had died.
And, Kiefer and the rest might have been among those.
Iris, Toale, Arua, Kuku, might have gotten caught up in it.
On seeing that.
On seeing that,
’’....... y-you're kidding me.’’
Ryner started urging his horse forward.
’’......... this must be a joke, a joke, a joooooooooooooooooookkkkkkkkeeeeeeeee.’’
Towards where Kiefer and the rest were. Towards his comrades, Ryner urged his horse to gallop at full speed.
However, once again.
The light started disappearing from the world again.
The light was stolen from the sky, the atmosphere, the land, and darkness started to spread.
Ryner turned around.
He glared at a distant place where the light was being sucked towards.
’’...... d-don't shit with me...... don't shit with me Sion!! What the hell is this. What the hell is this! I didn't write that report for this purpose! I didn't gather the relics for this purpose!!’’
But that voice reached no one.
That voice did not reach his best friend.
Since he was too far away.
Since the path he tread on was far too different.
The light just gradually disappeared.
The light just gradually disappeared.
And the light of despair gathered at Roland's side.
The immensely huge destructive power that could take away thousands, tens of thousands of lives gathered at Roland's side.
The next time when this were to be unleashed, it would probably wipe out nearly all the humans.
Adults, children, men, women, everything would be erased into oblivion.
Everything would go to nothingness.
It was like the lightning of God.
It was like the flames of the Devil.
It was not the power of a human. Such a power was not a power used by humans.
But, Roland was using that power.
Sion was using that power.
It was like God passing His divine judgement.
It was like the Devil using a forbidden power.
’’Why...... why did it come to this? Why did it turn out like this?’’
Ryner could only murmur while on the verge of tears.
At his own powerlessness.
At his own worthlessness.
There was nothing he could do.
The Alpha Stigma is unable to see the construct of a Hero's Relic. He could come up with no countermeasure.
But, death was definitely near.
A certain death was near.
The gathering of light was done.
’’...... please stop.’’
But the despair didn't stop.
’’...... I beg you, please stop.’’
But the darkness didn't stop.
And once again, across the surroundings of Ryner, the light flashed......
Shrouding everything in despair ---
In that very instant.
’’...... wah ~, seems like you are really in a dire situation, Ryner-san. If I save you guys here, I should become popular with little girls as well as mature women right?’’
A light-hearted voice sounded suddenly from beside him.
Ryner turned towards the voice.
But, just in the instant he was turning, the light from the necklace of Roland burst forth.
And Ryner could only say,
But, at that moment,
’’Horh. It seems like Roland is using Ellearms (Demonic Beast Destroyer). Then we shall use this.
--- devour and disperse that light, Euloss Elma (divine Parasite Bugs).’’
From beside Ryner, for some reason, the sounds of countless insect wings could be heard, flickering in seven colors, fluorescent-glowing tiny bugs appeared and flew ahead.
They probably numbered in tens of millions.
Like a swarm of locusts, the flickering bugs filled the sky in a moment, and collided against the light unleashed by Roland.
At that moment.
<<Kyukyukyukyukyukyukyukyukyukya -------------------------------------------------------!? >>
From the tens of millions of the insects, ear-splitting screeches started filling their ears, and then.
And then, they started devouring the light.
Upon seeing that abrupt bizarre scene, Ryner could only utter that.
But, before his eyes, it unfolded.
The tens of millions of flickering bugs devoured the light, completely devoured, completely devoured, as they advanced.
The bugs devoured the divine lightning unleashed by Roland, and before long, everything disappeared.
The light did not reach here.
They were saved. Without anyone dying, the light was devoured by the bugs and disappeared.
But, what on earth.
’’What on earth was that?’’
Immediately after Ryner said that.
<<Kyukya -----------------------------------------------------------------!? >>
The bugs screeched loudly, in an ear-deafening manner.
Ryner groaned as he covered his ears.
Before his eyes, the bugs spun around in circles. As if they were looking for prey. As if they were looking for the next sacrifice.
No other prey?
And after circling for a while, they turned around. And with that. They started moving towards Ryner.
’’...... d-don't tell me now they want to eat us......’’
Ryner said, and once again,
’’No way. They don't like human flesh.’’
The voice sounded again.
Ryner remembered that voice. That's right. All this while, since the pressing situation earlier, he felt that someone was speaking to him. On top of that, he seemed to recall hearing that voice before.
’’W-Who is it?’’
Sitting on top of his horse, Ryner looked at his surroundings.
But there was no one.
Some distance away, he could see the Nelpha soldiers and the commoners, but he didn't feel that the voice had come from there.
Then, where on earth......
At that moment.
’’No no, lower your line of sight a little, Ryner-san.’’
On hearing those words, Ryner dropped his gaze. And before he knew it, there was a smiling young man standing there.
A single young man who seemed to be around thirteen, fourteen years of age.
With beautiful black hair, and intelligent looking black eyes. A beautiful young man who was wearing an outfit that resembled the clothes of a Miko.
Looking at his face.
And the face surfaced from his memories,
’’Y-You..... aren't you Vois!?’’’’
He knew that young man.
The name of the young man is Vois Fiurelle.
While Ryner and Ferris were searching for Heroes'Relics, after passing through Nelpha and Runa, they met him at their last stop, in the country of the Iyet Republic.
And in that Iyet Republic, this fella reigned like a king.
No, rather than a king, it is more apt to describe him as the head of a mafia.
Despite being a brat, he is the head of the Fiurelle Group that forcefully governed a country with power and information.
Every time he saw him, he was always exploding with Hentai tendencies, a troublesome fellow creating plenty of troublesome matters, a fellow who numbered first in the ranking list of the people he didn't want to meet, but, when the Iyet Republic crumbled from the rampaging of a Hero's Relic, he disappeared.
That's why he had not seen him for the past year.
But that same Vois was before him right now.
As he looked at Vois's face, Ryner said.
’’W-What did you do just now?’’
And Vois replied.
’’What, you say, Ryner-san, I'm here to save you...... ah, do you want to thank me? That's it isn't it? It's only right to show gratitude when receiving favors from someone. This is just basic manners right. Is ok right? To give me around twenty cute girls......’’
’’HEY, aren't you the same as before!’’
Vois then said happily.
’’Ryner-san, I'm so happy to see your usual Hentai antics. Ferris-san seems to be full of wounds! Your bedroom play sure is intense as usual......’’
’’What the hell are you talking aboooouuuutttttttttttt!’’
Ryner hollered at Vois, who was full of his usual antics.
Vois then smiled cheerfully, and said,
’’Well, we shall save our reunion for now......’’
Upon saying that, he reached into his bosom. And took out something resembling a necklace.
A necklace with a scarlet orb.
Upon seeing that necklace,
Ryner uttered without thinking.
The reason was because, that necklace was clearly that.
The one Ryner saw in Runa.
The necklace that has an extraordinary destructive power.
Grasping that necklace, like a child, a smile surfaced on Vois,
’’Let's finish our work for now, Ryner-san. Let's kill everyone in the direction of Roland. It's troubling that they have gotten hold of something like Ellearms (Demonic Beast Destroyer). Let's kill them first and we'll talk later......’’
As he said that, he held out the necklace......
’’Hey, wait a minuteeeeeeeeeee!’’
Ryner snatched away the necklace.
’’You, what the hell are you trying to do?’’
’’Huh? I'm just trying to teach the arrogant Roland to know their place. Now, hand that back please. Then, I'll just kill them all in a blink......’’
’’No, like I said, you can't!’’
On hearing Ryner's yell, Vois cocked his head incredulously.
’’What do you mean by I can't?’’
’’Killing! Isn't it terrible to just kill them like insects?’’
But Vois's face just became more and more bewildered at his words,
’’Huh? What on earth are you talking about, Ryner-san? This is war you know? It's about killing each other. If we don't kill, we'll get killed. Am I wrong?’’
On hearing that sensible rebuttal, which was unthinkable to have come from a brat, Ryner said,
’’Ah, no, that's true, but...... but......’’
’’Alright alright, since you got it, let's kill them first then talk. Please give me back the necklace.’’
’’No no, like I said, you can't do that. Especially with regards to using this necklace that's embedded with such an insane power, that's a definite no no. If we use such a thing to wage a war, it will just end up dreadfully with both sides in despair......’’
Rather, that should be obviously a no-brainer.
It was an enormous power that was unattainable through the intellect of Man. It was an abnormally mysterious power to the extent which no one knows how to activate nor stop. If that were to be used in wars, the end result would definitely be the worst possible one.
Countries getting wiped out, no, perhaps the entire world would be wiped out. What would be left would just be dead bodies and despair. To wage a war using that, was too much of a foolish thing.
That was what Ryner thought, but,
As expected, Vois's face clearly showed that he did not comprehend.
On realizing that, he made an exasperated face,
’’...... aah well, forget that. More importantly, why have you come here? Did you really come to save me?’’
To that question, Vois promptly replied,
’’You won't be getting any free help from me. That's the teaching of the Fiurelle family.’’
On hearing those words, Ryner frowned,
’’...... you really haven't changed...... then why are you saving me? In the first place, where have you been and what have you been up to all this while, and what did you come here for?’’
After saying that, Ryner looked intently at the necklace that he had snatched away.
The swarm of bugs which had been flying in mid-air earlier probably belonged to him as well.
Both items were clearly Heroes'Relics.
What has he been using these for all this while, and what did he come here for?
Ryner glared at him, but, with his childish face, a cruel smile surfaced as he said.
Looking straight at him.
’’No, I just came here to give a somewhat interesting suggestion.’’
’’What is it?’’
Vois's intelligent looking eyes narrowed further. Then,
’’No, well, it's not something that I have to stand on ceremony about. The truth is, Ryner-san, I was thinking of having you become the King.’’
Ryner's eyes widened,
’’Haah? King? Hey, what the hell......’’
But Vois cut him off.
His eyes became narrower, until his eyes could hardly be seen, and he smiled.
’’...... I was thinking of having you become the King of the Anti-Roland Coalition which I've created......’’
At the same time he said those words.
Vois raised up his hand.
At his signal, all of a sudden, a little further away from where the soldiers and commoners of Nelpha were, a few hundred soldiers wearing strange armor appeared.
Not the brown armor of Nelpha, not the white armor of Roland, but pitch black armor.
Ryner looked at those soldiers,
’’...... what's that?’’
To those words, Vois smiled again.
’’Like I said, they are the Anti-Roland Coalition forces. I've put it together in this one year. Well, in name, it's actually a force built with the small country in the southeast part of the central continent, Belis, as its center, but I'm the one who holds the true authority over it. So, right now, three countries have joined the Anti-Roland Coalition, and I'm seeking out the Autonomous Holy City of Cassla, which is the strategic point for stopping Roland from swallowing up Central Menoris, as its fourth member......’’
In the midst of his proclamation,
’’Hey wait a minute wait a minute! Huh? Eeh? What the hell are you talking about? You've made the Anti-Roland Coalition?’’
Vois promptly nodded,
Ryner had an increasingly bewildered expression,
’’For what purpose?’’
Once again, a smile surfaced on Vois. An increasingly cruel, inhumane, cold smile surfaced,
’’...... that's simple. Because the world needs it.’’
’’Aah? The world? What the hell are you talking about? About the world needing the Anti-Roland Coalition?’’
On hearing Ryner's question, Vois shook his head. And he said in a low, cold voice.
’’That's not it. What is needed is the power to kill the cursed monster called Sion Astal. The power to destroy the mad sword known as Lucile Eris. Right now, the world doesn't want a hero king. It doesn't want a Sion Astal. The world doesn't want that mad demon. Excessively tremendous power, and overly huge ambitions, are hindrances. That's why I have come to pick you up. I've come to pick up the one that has the power to kill him, you. Now, let's kill him together. Let's kill that mad devil. He's the one who will topple the world's balance. He's the one who will take away the light from everything.
But, that cannot be forgiven.
The Goddesses cannot forgive that.
So Ryner-san, join up with me. No, that's not it. I'll follow you. I'll lend you a hand. So, by your hand...... by the hand of his best friend......’’
Vois said as he held out his hand with his usual grinning, cheerful face.
’’...... please kill Sion Astal with your hand.’’
But Ryner frowned.
His face contorted.
For some reason, Vois's words made the depths of his heart feel hollow.
However, that was not because of the fact that he was told to kill Sion. It's not because of the fact that Sion was called the mad devil. Even though he was bothered by what Vois had said all of a sudden. Rather, he was bothered by what what was happening in the central part of the continent.
But, those were not at the top of his mind right now.
The only word which made Ryner's chest hollow.
A word which made Ryner feel terribly, terribly, terribly unpleasant.
He thought about it.
That word from Vois which made him feel nauseous.
Just by hearing that word, Ryner could no longer move. Even though it wasn't a word that was out of the ordinary, nor did it bear any particular connection, but yet, Ryner could no longer move.
’’W-What in the world......’’
He said in a groaning tone. But his voice was also trembling. Trembling uncontrollably.
He could no longer think of anything else.
Only the word Goddesses kept reverberating in his head.
The word reverberated in his head.
The word resounded in his heart.
A surge of nauseousness.
A surge of anxiety.
What on earth is this?
What the hell is this?
And at that moment.
’’Aah, they are here.’’
And at his feet.
In his shadow extended by the moonlight, a creepiness started moving.
Ryner looked down at them. He could tell from his instinct that something that was terribly awful was about to rise up.
But, he couldn't move. He couldn't move for some reason. The only thing he could move were his eyes. Only cursed eyes which were overlaid with bright red pentacles.
Only his eyes were resisting something.
Only his eyes were resisting some power.
Ryner looked at Vois's shadow with his cursed eyes. He could see something squirming in that shadow. Something black. No, something darker than black.
’’...... what on earth...... what on earth are you talking about? They? Goddesses? What on earth, are you......’’
But at that moment.
Ryner's words stopped.
Suddenly, in his head,
<<Prostrate, worm. >>
A voice descended into his head.
On hearing that voice,
Ryner groaned out softly, and fell off the horse. Together with Ferris. She was unconscious. As he attempted to help her up, once again,
<<Prostrate, worm. >>
The voice descended upon him.
It was like the voice of a god.
It was like the holler of a devil.
Reacting to that voice, his body started moving on its own. Ryner squatted down onto the ground, and then prostrated. His face pressed painfully against the ground.
He couldn't resist.
He couldn't resist at all. His entire body was dominated by that voice, as if he was a puppet that was being manipulated, his body moved on its own.
What the hell!?
What the hell just happened!?
He cried out silently.
The only things he could move were his eyes.
His own cursed eyes.
But with those eyes. Those eyes that were glowing bright red like the color of blood, with those glowing pentacles that seemed to be resisting against everything in this world, he looked at Vois.
No, he looked at the black shadows at Vois's feet.
Then, from inside the shadow --- it came out.
The owner of the voice.
The owner of the voice that sounded like a god, crept out of that darkness which was darker than black, and deeper than the abyss.
Ryner looked at that.
Ryner looked at that.
Ryner looked straight at that figure.
And cried out in anguish.