Riel-chan’s voice resonates in the battlefield. She ran to our side with those legs that are faster than a wild goat.
Zephyr is also calling me in my mind.
(Doje, I can move to support anytime.) (Zephyr)
“…Hehehe, Mistral, you have been completely surrounded.” (Solje)
“Looks like it.” (Mistral)
He is speaking with complete composure.
Well, in terms of mercenary career, he is a monster that has been in it for several tens of times more than us. He wouldn’t get flustered about danger to his life at this point.
He might be immortal after all…
Will he disappear after being killed several tens of times?
He did lose magic power yesterday when he regenerated.
“Onii-chan, it might be underhanded, but should we lynch him with everyone?” (Mia)
“Hoh, are you going to let me taste everyone of the Banjar Mercenaries?” (Mistral)
“Hmph, we let you go last night, but…I don’t like that we got attacked the very next day. Solje, let me shoot the head off this Skeleton bastard!!” (Riel)
“If we are taking him down, let me do it!! He injured my father, I can’t let this go without making him pay.” (Loroka)
Our women and children are at full fighting spirit. If I were to give them the go sign, they would tear Mistral from limb to limb.
“Interesting. Looks like you will be entertaining me.” (Mistral)
Mistral takes a stance with his greatsword.
The girls were smiling boldly.
Jean is making a face as if he is thinking about this ‘Mother’, but he would definitely comply with my orders.
Good grief, every single one of you is so wild that I really love you all.
…But first, gotta confirm something.
“Riel, have there been any deaths?” (Solje)
“Eh? …No, I saw a lot of injured, but in terms of fatal wounds, as far as I know, there hasn’t been any.” (Riel)
“I see. So, Jean!” (Solje)
“How much blood is flowing in the battlefield?” (Solje)
“Eh? R-Right…there’s the scent of old blood from the city, but…eh? Even though the battle is this big, the scent of blood is thin.” (Jean)
“I see, thanks. Okay, everyone, keep alert and calm down.” (Solje)
“Eh? We are not killing him, Onii-chan?” (Mia)
“That’s right, Captain Onii-chan has something to talk about with that skeleton bastard over there. Arianrhod is not here anymore, right?” (Solje)
“Y-Yes! Her presence has clearly thinned compared to before. Mother must have gone back south.” (Jean)
“So it seems.” (Solje)
“…Solje-san? N-No, I mean, Captain! What’s the meaning of this?” (Loroka)
Loroka asks. Riel is looking straight at me, but right now I have to talk to this master class monster shouldering a greatsword about something.
I am the one who clashed blades with him, so I know more of him than the others.
“This guy…didn’t attack this place seriously.” (Solje)
“…What? What do you mean by that, Solje Strauss?” (Riel)
“The reason not a single death has come out is a message. A blatant night raid like this and there’s no deaths? He most likely ordered them not to kill.” (Solje)
“For what reason?” (Riel)
“That’s what I want to ask, Mistral.” (Solje)
How will he react to my words?
His face lacks any meat so he has a natural poker face. It is hard to read his emotions, but I don’t think I am off the mark. His presence is clearly different from when I faced him yesterday.
“You said this request was from someone else, right? Yesterday you were acting for someone that’s not Arianrhod, and tonight you attacked this place most likely because you had no choice but to do so.” (Solje)
“Something like that.” (Mistral)
“As I thought. You have way too little drive compared to yesterday. You don’t seem to like Arianrhod.” (Solje)
It is a person that didn’t try to avenge her little sister and disappeared at once.
That’s impossible. In the eyes of a siscon like me, she is a shitty woman I would never like.
“We are in an inseparable relationship. She is the God that gave me this immortal body. I don’t really worship her, but I do owe her.” (Mistral)
“Are you saying it wasn’t your intention to injure my father?” (Loroka)
“…Spear Maiden, your father is quite the skilled warrior. In order to seize the item, I had no choice but to injure him.” (Mistral)
“Why did you do something like that?” (Loroka)
A Zeruaga and an Agarm probably have a stronger contract than master and servant. Even if he doesn’t want to, he has no choice but to obey. Well, there’s something more important than that…
“Arianrhod isn’t keeping an eye on you anymore, right? Speak about your other ‘lord’. You are moving seriously for that person’s sake. What is that person trying to make us do?” (Solje)
“For the sake of victory. That’s the only thing that person wishes for anymore.” (Mistral)
“…Which one is it? Julian Laichi or Vashiri Nova?” (Solje)
Or is it some other knight or a friend I have had in the battlefield?
I think they are in the leader layer of Zakuroa though.
“By ‘victory’…you mean winning against the 5th division of the Imperial Army, right?” (Solje)
“That’s right. That person doesn’t want his native country to be destroyed… He has succeeded the will of Phaser-dono.” (Mistral)
It is a name I don’t know of with my superficial knowledge. For those things, I should just look at my adjutant. Hey, Loroka-sensei, who is it?
“…He is most likely speaking of Viola Phaser. A female politician that bore fruit to a resistance against the Suzerain Country around three centuries ago…in that sense, it would be better to call her a revolutionary, I suppose.” (Loroka)
“Meaning that she is the mother of Zakuroa?” (Solje)
“That’s right, and she is my beloved lord I offered my heart and sword to.” (Mistral)
To think you were even older than Ares. After living so long, no wonder his flesh has rotted off completely. His bones and armor becoming one is a bit strange though. Maybe because of his desire for battle?
“…Succeeding the will of Phaser, they are trying to protect the land of Zakuroa… That’s not the philosophy of Laichi.” (Loroka)
Loroka points this out.
Umu, thanks for the consideration. I still think of the Iron Blood Alliance as my close friends. Sorry for having you take the bad guy role here, my adjutant. But don’t worry, I know that you said this for my sake. Thanks.
“…Right, so Mistral, the one you acknowledge as your lord is the leader of the Iron Blood Alliance, Vashiri Nova?” (Solje)
I remember the smile of that energetic old man that shouted the name of my father and welcomed me with a hug. That’s right, my heart was pulled in an instant by that old man. Must be because he is at the spot that knights look to arrive at.
Accepting the young, teaching them…and even when growing old, still following the path he believes in. The very picture of chivalry. Even at this moment, I can’t bring myself to hate him.
“Did the old man Vashiri say he had hopes for me?” (Solje)
“…That’s right, that person is trying to be strong for his country. With the resolve to throw away the things that he used his whole life in accomplishing, his knight code that he considers heavier than his own life; he intends to walk the path of a fiend.” (Mistral)
“Of a fiend?” (Solje)
Jean comes close to my feet and looks at me with his trembling light brown eyes.
“What’s the matter? What’s getting you so agitated?” (Jean)
“I remember now… At that time, the one there was a middle aged knight.” (Solje)
“What time are you referring to?” (Solje)
“At the time when the voice of Mother—I mean, of Zeruaga Arianrhod made my blood rampage and I ate everyone…a knight came running to me.” (Jean)
“Middle-aged knight… It has been close to 10 years since then… In other words…” (Solje)
“…That was the first time my lord and Arianrhod-sama made contact.” (Mistral)
“…So it really was.” (Jean)
“What happened at that time, Jean?” (Solje)
“That person fought to try to stop me. Even though he was getting injured…he understood that I was a beastkin and had lost control…!” (Jean)
“Calm down. You can take your time.” (Solje)
“Y-Yes… R-Right, even though I bit his arm, he…he said he forgave me…! That it wasn’t m-my fault that everyone died…!” (Jean)
“…Old man Vashiri…” (Solje)
That’s the personification of chivalry for you. He must have tried to save that pitiful werewolf. The werewolf that devoured the kids of the orphanage and the staff…his own family.
Jean, I will not be asking this directly to you, but…
Were you not eating the flesh of your family while crying?
You were swallowed by your instincts, and with tears and snot, you were played by Arianrhod.
Isn’t that why the old man said ‘I forgive you’ while you were biting his arm? And Arianrhod…!
“Arianrhod likes strong souls. She is disillusioned of mortals, but in a sense she is kind and tolerant.” (Mistral)
“Kind and tolerant?” (Solje)
“Solely by her standards, that is.” (Mistral)
“What do you mean by that? Zeruagas seem to be messed up in the head, so I would like an explanation.” (Solje)
“She considers mortals killing other mortals as salvation. She has lost hope for mortals. Thus…she is attracted to people that bring death to mortals under the name of mercy.” (Mistral)
“T-That’s right…t-that was the case for me, Captain.” (Jean)
“No need to be flustered about it, Jean. Calm down. Take your time telling me what you want to say.” (Solje)
“T-That night…I asked that man. Please kill me…knight-sama. I have to die…and go to where everyone is…to apologize…!” (Jean)
The despair this weak willed boy shoulders is heavy.
There’s no way the heart of a child can endure that.
It doesn’t matter if they weren’t related by blood, he ate his family… It wouldn’t be strange to wish for death.
This sin runs so deep it would have been unbearable.
“But that person…he let me go. He told me to live. As long as I stay away from settlements…he wouldn’t kill me… And then, one day, I can just atone for it. That way…even my soul can surely be saved…!” (Jean)
Tears stream down from the wolf. His voice was trembling and his tears were hot.
“I-I am weak, so… I even f-forgot those important words of his…!” (Jean)
“It is okay, Jean. Your pain is deep. No one blames you. And most importantly, the old man Vashiri doesn’t blame you.” (Solje)
Isn’t that right? That mercy of yours is the knight’s code that you and I believe in!
“That’s right. Wolf, my lord would definitely forgive you. If those tears you are shedding right now are for the children you ate.” (Mistral)
I feel like Mistral is taking the place of Vashiri in speaking to Jean about his knight’s code.
You are that kind of straightforward man, right, old man? When you welcomed me in your arms, your eyes were showing slight tears.
Was it that joyful that I was alive?
…Thanks for crying for me.
And most importantly, staying by the side of my important subordinate at the time of his life he cried the most and gave him some warm words of comfort.
…But are you telling me that you whose way of life was the most righteous of all…was already on the side of the Evil God, Arianrhod?
- Chapter 89
“…Mistral, what is Vashiri-jiisan going to do from now on?” (Solje)
“He is going to choose 1,000 of the elites in the Iron Blood Alliance. And then, charge into the 5th division on their own.” (Mistral)
“Impossible! That’s suicidal!!” (Solje)
“That’s right! There’s no way they can go against the 35,000 of the 5th division that Zack Claine commands!” (Loroka)
There isn’t even the need for Loroka’s intelligence to understand this. It is an army 35 times bigger than theirs! Moreover, charge from the front? There’s no tactics to it! No matter how you think about it, that’s just insane.
“Don’t joke around! What is that old man thinking?! Can’t he at least wait for us to bring the Diaros cavalry back?!” (Solje)
I roar into the cloudy sky. I know that no matter how much I shout, it won’t reach Vashiri Nova, but it just came out straight from my heart to my mouth.
“Is he bringing his comrades to death with no plans?! That’s not supposed to be your knight code!!” (Solje)
“…Solje, maybe he does have a plan.” (Riel)
Riel was placing a finger on her lips and thinking about something.
What is it? Did your superior elf intuition tell you something?
Please tell me. Right now my emotions are taking the better of me and my head can’t turn its gears properly…!
“Zeruaga Arianrhod. Vashiri Nova has made contact with that God, right? And for close to 10 years at that.” (Riel)
“Are you saying Vashiri Nova is borrowing the Authority of Arianrhod?” (Solje)
“The power of a Zeruaga defies reason. If those first-class knights that have trained their body and mind are given this abnormal power…wouldn’t it be like a thousand Mistrals being born?” (Riel)
The words of Riel threw everyone here into shock. That’s right, we have seen one of the authorities of Arianrhod. She made a contract with the Zakuroa knight Mistral more than 300 years ago.
That guy has been living as an undead for all that time while he continued being a mercenary as an immortal.
Loroka-sensei begins to draw estimations of Arianrhod.
“The little sister Zeruaga Aggraias had the ability to control the living as she wished with her Authority. Could it be that her elder sister Arianrhod is the other way around…the power to control the dead as she wishes with her Authority?” (Loroka)
“…Twin Gods, similar powers, powers that complement each other… Is that how it is?” (Solje)
I see, that sounds plausible.
“…Eh? Move the dead as she wishes? Then what about me?” (Jean)
Looks like Jean is holding doubts and fears at the situation of his own body. Mia went straight for the jugular like a child.
“Jean, zombie?” (Mia)
The wolf opened his mouth wide. So people receive that kind of shock when told they could possibly be zombies, huh… But my thoughts are different.
“…Jean, at the time your blood was awakened, you were on the verge of death.” (Solje)
“Ah, y-you might be right… We were being abused in that orphanage… We didn’t even get proper meals. That’s right…at that time, I had a fever.” (Jean)
“In other words, it is because you were on death’s door that Arianrhod’s Authority worked on you. Jean is not a zombie. His life force must have recovered with the power of a beastkin.” (Solje)
“I-I see, what a relief…!” (Jean)
Looks like the wolf is relieved that his identity was preserved. Of course you would be surprised, being told one day that you might be a zombie.
“But if that’s the Authority of Arianrhod…Vashiri-jiisan and the others are planning on becoming an undead knight army to attack the Imperial army?!” (Solje)
A thousand Mistrals? That would be exaggerating it a bit, but there will be 1,000 knights that won’t die even when killed, and if they attack the Imperial army…
…Even with 35 times the difference in numbers…it is hard to say they have no chance of winning…
“That’s how it is.” (Mistral)
“What are they doing?! Even if they obtain victory like that, they will be…!” (Solje)
“The same as me; live an eternity serving Arianrhod-sama. Excluding the times when she gives you a whimsical order, it isn’t that inconvenient, you know?” (Mistral)
“I am not asking about your standards here… Don’t joke around, such a pitiful way of living is just wrong! Vashiri Nova, you are being way too reckless!!” (Solje)
“…Solje Strauss, this reckless action of theirs is ironically related to you.” (Mistral)
What did he say just now?
Without escaping from the raging emotions I was showing, Mistral begins to speak calmly.
“It was around ten days ago, I think. My lord continued to reject the invitations of Arianrhod-sama, he heard a report that a nameless small country like Ludo had been led to victory by a dragon knight.” (Mistral)
“…Our victory against the 7th division…” (Riel)
Riel furrowed her brows.
She doesn’t seem to be in a good mood.
Of course she would feel like that. This victory we take pride in is somehow connected to Vashiri Nova making a contract with an Evil God and making his comrades into zombies?
“Are you trying to hurt our honour, you skeleton bastard?” (Riel)
Our Elf Princess takes a stance with her bow in anger.
But…I have to ask. Just what is about to happen in Zakuroa…with the Iron Blood Alliance?
“Wait, Riel. It is infuriating, but let’s hear him out.” (Solje)
“…Understood. Under the orders of Captain, I will wait before killing you.” (Riel)
“Umu, I am grateful for that. I would prefer to clash blades after we have finished talking.” (Mistral)
“…Spit it out.” (Solje)
What did our victory against the 7th division cause?
“Hearing about your victory, my lord was really happy. Learning that the son of the Winged Commander of Garuna, that this dragon knight led the Ludo Kingdom to victory, it moved him.” (Mistral)
“…I see. Zakuroa is being faced with an invasion by the imperial army as well, so it must have had a bigger effect on him.” (Solje)
“That’s right, and due to that, he decided to rely on a ‘miracle’.” (Mistral)
“The Authority of Arianrhod, huh.” (Solje)
“He of course expected that Ludo would be proposing an alliance. This was a welcome proposal for him, but the will of Zakuroa is not one. The people of Zakuroa are not the same as in the past. They are trying to choose servitude over freedom.” (Mistral)
“Julian Laichi…” (Solje)
“That is one choice. My lord doesn’t repulse it. Your way of life is something you decide for yourself. That’s the philosophy of Zakuroa.” (Mistral)
“But even with that, he chose to fight.” (Solje)
“Not quite.” (Mistral)
“…Right, Vashiri Nova sought victory.” (Solje)
“Yeah, forming a line of battle together with you people, and facing the large imperial army must have been the very definition of his knight’s code. Challenging a reckless battle, die, and become a legend in the battlefield; that’s the way of a knight in a sense.” (Mistral)
“…I can understand. I had the intention of doing that too…” (Solje)
If the Ludo Kingdom and Zakuroa are going to form an alliance, I was prepared to protect Zakuroa and fight the Imperial Army even if it meant I would be going down with them.
But it looks like that wasn’t enough for Vashiri Nova.
“If we don’t win…no matter if I become a beautiful legend, it isn’t a victory. The freedom of the people that the zakuroan knights have to protect…if that’s lost, there’s no worth in the legend of a knight. Plain self-satisfaction won’t save the people.” (Mistral)
Those words were way too severe, but it is indeed reality. In a lost war, you cannot protect what you want to protect the most. I remember my burning homeland that was shown to me by Aggraias a few hours ago.
The screams of Cecil…
The small and hot reddened bones that my fingers held. That’s the result of defeat. Without victory, tragedies cannot be avoided.
“My lord guessed that you would eventually be coming after that war. Arianrhod-sama, who is always close to my lord, also did.” (Mistral)
“…Is that why monsters appeared at every place we went to?” (Solje)
“The horde of Skeletons and Reis were plans of Arianrhod-sama. She wanted to measure your strength.” (Mistral)
“What was she even trying to measure with that bunch of small fry.” (Solje)
“A mediocre person would die with that. If you don’t, you would have decent worth. You guys splendidly caught the interest of Arianrhod-sama. My lord was also moved by your strength.” (Mistral)
“…Then rely on us, instead of a Zeruaga!” (Solje)
“Solje-san…Representative Nova most likely wanted to entrust to you with what comes after the war.” (Loroka)
My adjutant Loroka says this.
That’s an honor, but it is also a lot of pressure.
“That’s right. Fighting against the 5th division and dying together with you would be a great honor for him, but…that won’t protect the future of Zakuroa. Not only that, you wouldn’t be able to protect Ludo if you die. For lord, that’s the worst conclusion. A conclusion far more tragic than becoming the slave of an Evil God.” (Mistral)
“Old man…” (Solje)
“Seeing the grand victory you brought about, my lord held great hope for the future. The Faris Empire that pushes warped values. A future where those pieces of shit rule…in order to change that despairing result, my lord threw away his pride as a knight and entrusted the future to you.” (Mistral)
“…To me?” (Solje)
“That’s right. He made you fight me to test your strength, and you defeated me. You are strong. I knew that the Garuna dragon knights were really strong!! You inherited his strength along with his red hair! No, you became far stronger!” (Mistral)
“…Mistral, could it be that the one you fought 50 years ago was…” (Solje)
“The red haired devilish swordsman, Strauss. The man who rode Ares was…your grandfather?” (Mistral)
“…Yeah, Zado Strauss. My grandpa.” (Solje)
This talk really brings me nostalgia. This Skeleton has also fought against Ares and Grandpa?
“This is not your battlefield to die. Thus, my lord…along with the people who shared his same sentiments, chose to accept the authority of Arianrhod-sama. Degrading into the disgusting and pitiful Undead King of Zakuroa…he will face the Imperial Army together with his comrades. He made that harsh choice.” (Mistral)
“It’s my fault…?” (Solje)
“T-That’s not it!!” (Jean)
This might be the first time Jean has objected to my words.
With strength overflowing from his light brown eyes, the wolf shouts at me.
“Captain was simply entrusted with something! They chose everything on their own free will!! There’s no fault in you!! For sure!!” (Jean)
“…That’s right, Solje Strauss.” (Riel)
Riel places a hand on my cheek. She is most likely trying to tell me with her warmth. In the intense cold of Barrow Gawick, the warmth of her fingers felt more precious than usual.
“There’s no fault here. It is instead something to take pride in. It has its sad parts, but the knights that called you a friend while you were on the back of Zephyr have entrusted you with the future. You were chosen; to live, fight, and save the future…” (Riel)
“That’s right, Solje-san. That’s why there’s no need for tears…!” (Loroka)
Loroka says this with tears in her eyes. She lacks any convincing power…don’t say that while crying…
“…Yeah, you are right. This is a decision the knights of the Iron Blood Alliance chose on their own free will. What’s left is whether I accept it or not.” (Solje)
“That’s how it is. You surpassed me. Show that you can at least protect a world from the Empire.” (Mistral)