This is a story not too long ago.
It’s a story after the long fighting between the demon/human race ended and when the demon/human race began infighting amongst themselves for territory.
A time of war.
It was especially worse in the center of the continent, where most of the human race resided in. Without a ruler or any form of control, the land kept collapsing as time went by.
A villiage chief would rise up and create a country, only to be attacked by its neighbouring country and fall, and that neighbouring country would also be attacked by another and fall, and that other country would also…
Destruction, it was a world where such destruction was a natural course of life.
Wasn’t it more peaceful when the humans with the humans and the demons with the demons united as one? There were many who doubted as such but none could give an answer.
How many times had such fighting repeated?
There was a sudden increase of bandits and mercenaries.
Farmers would have their entire families slaughtered as well as their fields burned, leaving them no choice but to become either bandits or mercenaries.
It was the only way to live.
With an imbalance of supply and demand, the poor had no choice but to steal from others.
Many orphans were born as well.
Of those orphans, only a lucky few would be picked up by knights to become a page and such, but for most, it was either to become a slave or a thief… but usually it was neither, and a death from starvation awaited them.
A food shortage caused an inescapable swamp of constant looting.
But even in that swamp, the human race gradually found a resolution.
The center continent is a fertile land.
This is especially true when the land is closer to the south and west, where the barren land disappears and endless green grasslands emerges.
It had the potential to save the diminishing human race that had been worned out through war and famine.
There was one country that realized such and began to create a strong foundation.
The country that took the step forward was called the “Dragon King Kingdom”.
Protected by the Dragon King mountain, it invested a long time into building its strength and capital, making it an affluent country.
It was even blessed by its geographical location.
Thanks to its ever soaring Dragon King mountain, there are only two ways to enter the country.
A safe roundabout trip.
A dangerous steep shortcut.
The safe route goes through an extended flatland but since it goes around the Dragon King mountain, it takes more time to finish the trip.
However, this also makes it easy to defend against any foreign invaders.
On the other hand, the dangerous route has no guides on the road nor food supplies, leading to a continuation of a deadly wasteland for the regular folk.
However, it only takes a quarter of the time of the safe route to complete.
There are countless people who pass through the wasteland, but nearly none come out in the end,
This story is about the latter.
It starts in the deadly wasteland.
A barren continent as far as the eye can see.
With no vegetation to be found, the closest thing were trees filled with poisonous fruits. Occasionally, on the top of the dry dead soil, bleach white bones tumbled away.
A bleak reality where without the soaring Dragon King mountain to guide them from afar, one could not tell which way he was going.
The landscape was not something that could be completed by walking three days and three nights.
From the neighbouring country, it took one month.
The wasteland expands in a seemingly endless fashion.
Whether this land seems ever extending or narrow must vary from person to person.
There are living things. There are a great number of sand bugs that feed on the corpses of dead animals. As a matter of fact, only sand bugs live here. There are no birds that fly in these skies. An eerie feeling without a single sound nor hint of life. There are scholars who say there is a reason why the land is like this but so what?
There is no question that an army passing by or even a veteran traveler would lose their lives in this wasteland.
Such was the harshness and dangers of the land.
Even so, it was still the shortcut to the Dragon King Kingdom.
And in this wasteland was a single boy.
[Fuun Fu Fu～♪ Fuun Fu～♪]
Joined by the sound of armor rustling, he pushed forward into the wasteland while humming.
Wearing a suit of shining silver armor, he carried a huge greatsword on his back.
His black haired head cut by a Zanbura was entangled in sand and hurting, but beneath it all, showed a tough face and held another worldly aura around him.
Walking without even taking off his knight armor during the intense heat showed his lack of experience in travelling, making it all just pointless.
However his expression showed nothing but a sign of a good mood.
[Guess I’m almost there~]
In his heart lied the ambition of becoming a hero.
All those stories about heroes he had heard as a child.
He had always wanted to become like the main character of those stories.
And soon, that dream will become a reality.
Because in the town that the boy is heading to is currently recruiting people for the slaying of a dragon.
Dragons are the strongest lifeform.
Not only are they strong in numbers but individually they are the largest on land, have strong magical prowess as well as high intelligence.
Dragons are truly the strongest indeed.
Though there are cases where outraged dragons would destroy countries of the human race, there is no case where humans went to a dragon’s shelter and came back with a kill.
But the boy dreamed that if it was him, a dragon could be defeated even if he was alone.
And in that dream, everyone would end up praising him for his deed.
And rightfully so.
His objective was the hero knight he head heard from fairy tales.
Defeating a million strong army, bringing down an evil dragon as well as bringing peace to the world, he was a nonsensical existence.
If it was a little child embracing such a delusion, it wouldn’t be strange as it is the age where kids would dream of such things. There are many people who had such dreams as a child. It was kind of a spur of the moment illness, like measles.
The boy’s name was Alex = Ryback.
He is a boy who has scumbbed to such illness.
And solely because of it, he qualified into knighthood, passing through the waste of death and will soon challenge a dragon.
He is a seriously ill patient.
[I have to hurry or they will start without me~….. huh?]
In front of him, Al found some rugged cloth.
To be precise, It was more something that looked like a rugged pack of cloth.
A dirty brownish kind.
[Nah, it’s a person isn’t it?]
Looking closely, it was a person who had fallen. Wrapped up in a rugged cloak, a little girl with chestnut hair was lying face down on the ground.
Al thought that it was a corpse but immediately dismissed the idea.
For a corpse, it didn’t have any sand bugs on it nor did it show any bones. Sand bugs would feed on rotting corpses so he had thought that it hadn’t been too long before she took her last breath.
Al slapped the back of the girl with his palm.
He could feel a warm heat and a pulsation from the body.
As expected, she was still alive.
[Guess it’s someone dying after collapsing]
Al casually turned over the girl into a face up position.
She has the face of someone who lived a diligent life. Tanned dark skin. She is most likely from the Begaritt continent. She has a scar on her cheek like the boy’s. You could tell that she had long slit pupils despite her eyes being closed. Her chestnut hair along with her tanned dark skin matched the wasteland. She is short and skinny, but unlike a slave showed signs of muscles.
Al started touching the girl’s body.
It wasn’t to scavenge the belongings of a dying person nor was it to indulge his sexual desires for he was a gentleman. He was checking to see if she had any physical injuries. No physical wounds nor any sign of her clothes disturbed. It doesn’t seem she was attacked by a monster or bandit. Though he didn’t know if monsters or bandits even existed in this place…
The girl had the clothes of an experienced traveler but had no food nor water in her possession. The water bottle hanging on her lower back is also empty.
She most likely collapsed due to hunger and dehydration after exhausting all her food/water supply.
[A very important value of a hero is saving others. Well come on, drink up]
Al said as he pushed his water bottle towards the girl’s face.
After two ample seconds the girl stopped and look at him with dull eyes.
Did she get it in her nose?
She had a strong confused expression on her face but unlike her violent movements at first, she gracefully took the water bottle and placed it on her lips, drinking the lukewarm water bit by bit without hesitation. Even without a conscious, the body is honest.
And right after, the girl once again lost her cousciousness.
[Okay.. Wait, please don’t die on me]
Al slung the girl on his shoulder and began walking through the wasteland while humming.
His steps were light.
For a man like him who aims to be a hero, saving others is his life long duty.
By saving a person, he gets one step closer into becoming a hero. That’s why he always keeps an eye out for those who have fallen or are in need of help.
It’s not that he enjoys the misfortunes of others, but rather finds benefit in saving those who are down, something that those in need would welcome with open arms.
Of course, Al knows that no matter how many times he helps people, he won’t be remembered as a hero for generations to come as he wishes. But anything stacks up eventually. If he stops being aware of the little basic things in his path to becoming a hero, he won’t be able to able to act accordingly when an important opportunity for him to arise occurs.
On top of that, no matter what kind of situation Al is in, for him to carry a girl or two until he reaches town is not much trouble.
[I will~ crush evil~♪ With my fists~♪ They will be crushed~♪ ohh?]
Was it a few hours after he started walking?
Al had found a large black rhinoceros beetle in front of his path. These beetles lived in cracks of people’s homes. However the detestable black kind had multiple species and some of them even grew to 1 meter long and would attack people as well.
To be precise, he saw something that looked like a large black rhinoceros beetle. A black hunk metal that reflected the sunlight.
[Well, it’s not an insect]
To be exact, he saw a person wearing a black suit of armor.
The person was wearing a black suit of armor that was getting hot due to the sunlight, it was a tall woman who had fallen down face down.
It’s a dead body, Al thought. It was a fallen body that had no sense of life in it. If the girl he had rescued earlier was glittering with life, this woman here was glittering with death. She will most likely rot and become a meal for the sand bugs here.
She was one stupid lady. To wander this wasteland that had no shelter for the sunlight while wearing a black suit of armor that captured all the heat.
[If only she had wore a silver set of armor like me that reflects the sunlight instead.. Well even then, it’s still hot.]
However, a hero was not someone that would be discouraged by the degree of heat.
Everything starts with a shape/impression. A hero without his armor is unthinkable.
Now then, even though it is a dead body, finding her was also kind of fate. It would be good to do a background check on her.
Al dropped the baggage he held on his shoulder. He heard a voice saying [Gufu…] but ignored it. He turned over the lying girl face upwards.
The face that was pummeled in the sand was blushing red and there was a sense of life left in it.
As he put is hands on her face, he felt heat as if she was suffering from a heatstroke, but he could still notice her breathing.
Did she just suddenly collapse not too long ago?
Al turned his head to the route that he was taking.
The sacred mountain that soared to the skies, he could see the smoke at the bottom of the Dragon King mountain. If she had walked for one more hour, the wasteland would have been over. Just a bit more and she would have been able to see the plains that had food. This current place was such a checkpoint of sorts.
She is an unlucky woman.
If she had just tried a little harder, she would have made it.
But on the other hand, her luck isn’t all that bad considering Al had found her. Because for Al, helping a fallen lady or two is of no difficulty for him.
Al carefully took off the hot armor, and beneath the black armor was a black outfit that a castle maid would wear. It was an impressive outfit with black chains compiled together on various parts of the body.
(I wonder if all maids arm themselves like this…)
A maid wearing a suit of armor walked through the wasteland.
Without knowing the reason as to why she did so, Al tilted his head.
[… Guess everyone has different circumstances huh]
After muttering so for some time, he bundled the armor into one, strung it up and carried it on his back.
And then he splashed all the water he had left at the woman’s face. There is no shade to hide from the heat here. His best bet would be to hurry to the town. Whether she lives or dies is totally dependent on her stamina.
Thinking as such, Al slung the girl on his left shoulder while carrying the woman on his right side.
He is aiming to be a hero.
Saving a person or two is of no hardship for him.
The biggest tavern in the Dragon King Kingdom was especially crowded more than usual.
Al didn’t understand the [more than usual] part but it was fully occupied despite having a large amount of seats compared to other taverns. Also, there was a group of people that didn’t seem like customers that hung around the wall area. Looks like that’s where the [more than usual] part lies.
What is the reason that so many people are here today to the point of it being full?
Al had an idea to the reason why.
It is the same reason as to why Al took this journey to the Dragon King Kingdom.
Today was the day where the person who requested the slaying of the Dragon King would come to explain the details to those who accepted his request and this tavern was the place chosen for such discussion.
Now then, leaving that as it is.
In front of Al’s eyes, two women were emptying plates as if they were competing against each other.
One was the girl with the slit eyes, with a face of peculiarity rather than one of awe. Her small body was covered with a ragged mantle. She is earnestly stuffing meat into her stomach constantly.
The other person was the tall maid with the face of either an intellectual or one of cold heartedness. Wearing a suit of pitch black armor on top of her maid clothing, she held the appearance of what one would think of when they imagine an elegant knight. However right now, all that elegance was washed away with her only aim being the food on the table.
They were one scary girl and woman. They gave the impression that if someone were to bump into their shoulder in the streets, they would consider it fate and suck them dry of all their money.
As soon as we entered the tavern, the two girls used the strength they recovered from sleeping on the way here to run into the shop, chase out some customers that were already seated and secured a table, ordering dishes in succession right after.
Seemingly not even caring about Al, who was sitting across and facing them
To be exact, they definitely don’t care.
They are only focused on replenishing their missing nutrients.
[But seriously, there seems to be a lot of interesting participants gathered up here huh?]
It wasn’t a voice that was directed towards him, but Al listened in closely.
It seems that those people talking don’t have anything to do with the gathering here. Are they merchants? With their drunk breath intoxicating their surroundings, they happily looked around the tavern.
[Those guys there are the Dragon King Kingdom’s royal knights right?]
[They sure are famous! Their leader is the 『Astonishing Lion』, Leonhardt = Ponbador! The man who makes the impossible possible. Accomplishing countless attack and defense strategies for the kingdom, a true man indeed!]
Al’s gaze shifted towards where the men looked.
In the corner of the tavern, you could see around 10 fully armored men gathered into a group. With a steel blue set of armor, their armor had no fancy decorations other than the red feathers that decorated their helmets. They were armed for practicality and had it not been for the Dragon King Kingdom insignia engraved on their armor, people would have mistaken them for a mercenary group.
Although they may seem simple, the proudful royal knights of the Dragon King Kingdom had many great tales.
Sometimes, when a dragon comes down from the Dragon King mountain and attack human settlements, it was their duty to exterminate the threat. And as the drunkards said earlier, they were also very proficient in the battlefield. For the Dragon King Kingdom to maintain its status as a great nation during these warring times, their abilities definitely played a huge role as well.
A proficient knight’s order held proudly by its great nation.
It would be impossible for them to be weak.
[And over there, aren’t they the Prime Leopard mercenaries?]
[You’re right. The only people who wear those leopard printed coats in the continent are the Prime Leopard mercenaries! Even then, they are one of the primary color divisions, the Blue Leopard division!]
Al switched his gaze once again.
They were seated to the side, two tables away from the Royal Knights.
As the drunkards said, the group wore leopard printed coats.
Rather than a vibrant blue color, they wore a shiny/showy blue colored coat covered with black leopard print patterns.
Talking about the Prime Leopard mercenaries, they are a huge mercenary organization in the central continent. With their leader 『Big Panther』 at the top, there are five color divisions consisting of red, blue, yellow, white and black. Under these five, there are four separate divisions as well. Their members are said to be around a hundred thousand strong and have the might rivalling that of a national army.
Among the mercenaries present was a man hunched back wearing his shiny and vibrant blue coat with dyed short blue hair. He is probably the leader of this group.
We accidently met eyes.
The man had no interest for Al, but his gaze lied upon the two women who were greedily emptying the plates around him. The man’s expression turned crooked. Do they know each other? As Al looked, he could see the man clicking his tongue and downing his drink in one shot.
[Who are those guys up on the second floor?]
[That shining white armor. Those who wear such evil warding armor can only be the Holy Knights’ Order of Millis. The proud executioner division of the holy Millis nation. They are said to be more nasty than the Temple Knights, but that’s also the reason why they are so strong. With overwhelming anti demon equipment, they go around killing off witches or whoever their target is.]
Switching his gaze from the mercenaries to above.
Above was a group that stood out even more than the Blue Leopard mercenaries. A group wearing a white suit of armor. It was the Holy Knights’ Order. Their official name is the “Anti Demon Armored Army Corps.” Their white armor held a high degree of anti magic resistance, and only they, the Anti Demon Armored Corps otherwise known as the Holy Knights’ Order were granted such treasured equipment.
Officially speaking, they aren’t official knights of Millis. However, as a foreigner, if you asked about the Millis knights, they would always mention the Holy Knights. This was referring to them. Rather than the Temple Knights who rarely left their home country, the Holy Knights’ Order that were found to be all over the continent were much more well known.
Within the group, one man with crude features that didn’t seem to even match the vocabulary of “holy knight” looked at us with a surprised expression. Since he didn’t match his eyes with Al at all, it seems that he is acquainted with one of the women here. Just like the Blue Leopard division’s leader, he had a face of disgust as if he had found some garbage insect and looked away abruptly.
[Hey hey, who are those muscular guys over there? They look very sweaty]
[You idiot, what are you going to do if they hear you? They are a martial arts group called the Phoenix’s Nest. Their hometown lacked the metal to make the weapons and armor they needed, so they resulted to developing their hand to hand combat instead. Well now a days, it seems as though their objectives and means to solve matters seem to have reversed roles respectively.
Even Al at least knows the name of the group. Though we don’t know why they need to, they are a group that specializes in fighting anything with their fists. The hand is surely a strong weapon. Everyone has it and since it can be used anywhere, the more you train with it, the more power you can create. Furthermore, it is the closest range weapon of them all. With only using skills, one can deliver a strong damaging blow to their enemy by sticking onto them.
However, the hard truth is that a person is at his strongest when holding a weapon.
Since the reach is very short, it is considered very portable but outside of that there isn’t much. A longer reach is better.
Knowing all too well of this, they didn’t sit down in their seats. Being a nuisance to those around them, they trained towards the corner of the tavern, becoming all sweaty. You could see that the one who looks like their leader is helping to lead one of their especially young members during their training.
All of the members were naked waist up, and with one look you could see an unneccesary amount of muscles covering their bodies.
However, in the region that the Phoenix’s Nest is from, there seem to be many huge monsters with tough hides living in the region. Although their muscles might get in the way when fighting against humans, when it comes to slaying such monsters, those muscles were probably getting the job done.
But of course, there is still some lingering doubt since they live in an age where weapons could just be imported from the outside.
[Who are those gloomy fellows over there?]
[Huh? Those guys are some magician group from the northern side. From what I recall, they call themselves the “Grass World Leaf Tree (Souyoyoumoku).” I don’t know the details but I can tell you one thing, Everyone in that group is a imperial court level magician.
They were a quiet group.
Wrapping their bodies up with light brown and navy blue robes, they seated themselves at the table in the very end and quietly ate their meals. They barely have a conversation. They really don’t fit in with this loud, alcohol infused atmosphere.
A tense sensation could be felt, probably due to the Millis Holy Knights’ Order being here as well. The holy country of Millis prohibits all use of magic, and the Holy Knights are on especially bad terms with such magicians. Millis prohibits any magicians from entering the country and when they do enter illegally, they are judged and punished as criminals. The ones that punish such heretics are those of the Holy Knights’ Order.
When their bretheren are killed, people have a burst of anger no matter what the reason is.
Magicians are no different. They are humans after all. Maybe they really are mad. But it wasn’t possible to interpret as such from the expressions they made sitting at the table near the end.
Suddenly, my eyes met with a young girl sitting amongst the group.
Taking a look at Al’s gaze with dimlit eyes, she tilted her head to the side.
Al got rid of his gaze.
After a brief moment.
On the platform of the tavern.
On the stage where usually travelling bards or whatnot would perform, the man appeared accompanied by his guards.
A dark purple body with four arms. You could tell at one glance he was of the demon race.
And so, if he is a demon, it is obvious that he is the organizer of this assembly.
The tavern returned to dead silence. Even those drunkards would not open their mouths. At any rate, five large organizations are glaring around the place. With that being said, no one could dare open their mouth.
It seemed that even the sound of eating would make them find you at fault.
However at the most extreme end of things, this didn’t matter to the two girls who didn’t care about their surroundings. Not caring about the glances surrounding them, they slurped away at their noodles.
[My name is Yulian Halisco. Ah. I’m a weapon’s blacksmith more or less, but every single one of you here probably know that much]
He didn’t shout too loudly, but just enough to reach the corners of the already silent tavern.
He is probably of a race that didn’t have fully developed vocal organs. His hoarse voice suited him as one of the demon race.
He is still young. For the demon race that sometimes live up to one thousand, even ten thousand years, he probably hasn’t even reached the age of 500. It would be hard to distinguish such from his appearance alone, but for the demon race that stack up years of life, most become ferocious as they grow older. I can’t feel the ferociousness of a starved beast from him, so he is definitely young without a doubt.
[As for why I’ve gathered you all here, all of you are probably well aware of the reason why]
For a moment, the tavern turned noisy and returned to its lively state.
But it was really only for a moment, as it returned to silence.
[I plan to make a sword. All the theories of how I will do so are complete. My workshop is also ready but there is one flaw, and that is the lack of materials]
It was straightfoward talk. Now the conversation will head to the main topic.
[The lord of the Dragon King mountain, King Dragon King Kazakt shall be the material I use. For that to happen, I need you to enter the Dragon Kingmountain and bring his corpse. I want you to come back with every inch of his body without even a scrap left behind]
Having a huge body compared to other dragons, it utilizes high tier gravity magic to make its seemingly sluggish body jump and leap with ease.
Although in terms of group strength, they cannot match the Red Dragons. They are no match for the Red Dragons that eat any living being that steps a foot into the mountain.
However, in a fight of individuals, they reign supreme.
Dragon Kings are the strongest of all dragons.
And out of them all, is King Dragon King Kazakt.
His name is more famous than any other dragon. An ancient dragon that has lived for who knows how many long years.
During the Great Human Demon war, he fought the You-race hero known as Ran Shao who had sided with the humans and won. For his victory, the Dragon King mountain bestowed upon him by the Demon God himself.
Currently there is no living survivor from the Great Human Demon war. The only one still alive other than the King Dragon King would be the Immortal Demon King Atofe, who governs a piece of demon race territory.
King Dragon King Kazakt, a creature that human intelligence cannot fathom.
[As for the reward, I have prepared an amount of money that you will be able to spend playing around for the rest of your life. Furthermore, I will give you the greatest sword I make from the King Dragon King’s remains]
A commotion erupted for a second time.
Whether it was a creature that human intelligence could not fathom, or one that could not match human intelligence, it did not matter.
Humans live for desire.
With that money and selling the sword as well, not to mention a life time, it would be like being promised great prosperity to the very end of your teenage years.
Everyone grew excited as they hoped.
[Go! The Dragon King is in the mountain!]
Thanks to the command of the demon race organizer, Yulian, the tavern became much more lively than it previously was and the groups inside who were like the lords of the place began to rush out, leaving the place behind.
After the brief moment of liveliness, the tavern became devoid of life.
The ones left behind were drunkards who had no interest in dragon slaying.
After realizing he was off to a late start, Al got up in a daze.
I can’t be like this, I’m going to be the one to slay the dragon.
Falling behind the others, he didn’t have time to pass by idly.
Let’s run out of here quickly and take over the others. After that, it’ll be straight to the King Dragon King.
[It’d be useless even if you go now]
After hearing the voice, Al stopped his feet.
Looking around, he found the tall maid’s figure standing with a happy face, with a toothpick.
The once bright red face from the heatstroke returned to its white color matching her body. Her satisfied gestures gave off a bewitching impression. A bewitching one not suited for a maid.
Beside her was the imposing girl, with a happy face as she drank her after meal tea.
Al asked the woman. Although he didn’t even know her name, for some reason her words just now held a certain weight behind them.
[What do you mean useless?]
The woman, with a puzzled look as if asking how he couldn’t know, said bluntly.
[There’s no meaning to it, is what I mean]
[So then what do you mean there’s no meaning to it?]
Despite thinking that she was going around the question, Al kept stacking questions, so the woman tilted her head to the side.
[What? Isn’t your goal to exterminate the dragon? Or am I misunderstanding?]
[There’s no misunderstanding. I’m going to defeat the dragon and become a hero]
Al said so with confidence but the woman returned a bitter smile. She thought that he was joking.
However, to Al who was serious, began to receive her smile with disdain.
It probably showed on his face, as the woman blinked her eyes and bowed her head.
[Ara, I’m sorry. To defeat a dragon and become a hero. It is a spectacular dream]
[Regardless of that, what do you mean it is useless?]
Receiving the apology, Al instantly got rid of any irritation he held and asked her for a second time.
This time, the woman replied.
[If you enter the mountain in huge groups, the Dragon King will be alerted]
[So you mean because of that King Dragon King Kazakt will hide deeper inside the mountains?]
[Well who knows. Maybe he will come out himself to face them. However, it is most likely that he won’t care about what the humans are doing. So it won’t end within one day. One week to two weeks, if we look at it long it may even be a month before they find the King Dragon King. The groups that left to search for him will come back to resupply so you should start your search after they come back here. At least that’s what I would do]
If you go to search in one big crowd, never mind the King Dragon King, the Red Dragons Kings will be agitated and the group will have no choice but to fight them. Each of those groups could probably taken on two to three dragon kings but there will undoubtedly be chaos in the mountain.
Therefore, it would be safer to go alone when no one is there and it would take not much labour to search the mountain to the top. This is what the woman was implying.
As for gathering information, using the traces that the other groups left behind should be enough.
[Well, even if you know it’s futile I know your feeling of being left behind won’t go away. So go at it. Gepu]
The woman said so as she indecently burped.
Al understood her words and sat back down on his seat.
[I wish to hear your side in more detail. My name is Alex=Ryback. I’m called Al by others]
[Ryback…. Ryback? I feel like I’ve heard of that somewhere. Wasn’t that the name of some famous noble in the country side?]
[Yes, even in my home town it is mostly a forgotten family name. I wouldn’t think that someone in a far away foreign country like this would know of us]
[Are you perhaps from the Northern side? Sorry to assume based on your facial appearance, but I would assume you are from the Tetsugan cold plains of the vast Northern lands]
[Of course not, it’s more to the east]
[I see.. You really come from the rural areas]
She has never been to a country that is to the east of the Testsugan cold plains. The map she had thought of in her head basically matched her thoughts
[My apologies for the late thanks regarding your help. Thank you Al and hello. My name is Shaina. Shaina=Marian]
She elegantly bowed with a bewitching smile fixed on her face.
[My occupation is that of a wandering knight. You could also say I’m a mercenary, but more or less I am still a knight]
She said as she stretched out her hand.
Al responded and they both shook their hands.
[A wandering knight huh. That’s very cool]
What’s with the maid outfit? Was what he wanted to say but he swallowed his words.
[It isn’t that good of a job. The bad thing is I can’t join any order of knights. Kind of like a homeless knight]
A knight is someone who devotes their life to their king. Whether it is from doing deeds of merit in battle or being talented with a sword, there are many reasons but it isn’t something that anyone can become. Only those who are respectfully polite and know proper manners/etiquette would be able to hold the title of one.
A knight is different from a mercenary. They are just fundementally different. A knight isn’t all about fighting. Unlike the crude mercenary, the noble knight would have to help out during festivals and rituals. When negotations are to be made with other countries, if a knight isn’t available for escort, usually a wandering one would be hired to do the job instead.
It depends on the wandering knight but usually countries would expect them to take rough tasks like mercenaries.
She would most likely be someone not just with manners, but one who could be reliable in battle as well.
Al could sense it just by grasping her hand. This hand wasn’t something that was used to holding up a ceremonial sword during a ritual. This was one that actually wielded a sword.
That’s why Al brightly laughed.
[To joke about not being able to join any order of knights, you are popular aren’t you?]
Shaina rubbed Al’s hand in intrigue.
[Even you Al kun, you must be quite skilled, taking on the task to slay a dragon]
[Yup, I’m strong you know]
[To say so with your own words. You must be really confident]
[Because it would be impossible to win without confidence and resolution]
Al said as he took his hand back.
[Thank you for the meal]
At the same time, a cup was placed on the table.
The imposing faced girl took one deep breath and looked at Al with a piercing gaze.
In reality, it was her just sending a mere gaze, but it was more fitting to say she sent a piercing one. It was truly a powerful observation from her.
[Thanks to you I survived. Chiki’s name is Chiki-ta. Remember it]
She said as she stretched out her hand to Al.
[Chiki works as an assassin. I had a job to do here]
Al’s hand stopped for a brief moment.
But then again, there is difference in status regarding one’s occupation.
Assassination is also a job, it is different from ill intended murder.
[I’m Alex=Ryback. You can call me Al, Chiki san]
[Got it. Al. But to carry two people and walk in the wasteland. You must have some great stamina. What do you eat to become like that?]
[It’s nothing like that. I only carried the both of you for a short distance]
Al said so as if it was nothing.
Even though it’s a wasteland, it’s only a week long trip. Anyone with enough water, food and equipment could walk through it.
To Al, he couldn’t understand why the place was called the “Wasteland of death” by travelers.
[For a wasteland like that, there are know-how ways to do the trip]
[For instance, you could eat those sand bugs that feast on the corpses. They provide great nutrition as well]
Chiki looked at him in disgust and took away her hand.
To eat something that has been feasting on dead bodies is like eating the corpse itself. There’s a limit to the strange things one can eat.
[You can fish the sand bugs with some dried jerky. They live underground, at the innermost damp part so they have plenty of fluid as well. They are a must for anyone travelling the wasteland]
Chiki shaked her head with a disgusted look on her face.
[Chiki is a city girl. I don’t want to eat any bugs]
[Is that so? Well in my hometown, everyone eats it like a normal meal. But can’t say it is tasty. So I get what you mean]
It wasn’t a matter of taste, but seeing Al understanding it the way he did, Chiki couldn’t say a word.
Chiki wasn’t rude enough to complain about the hobbies of the person she just met that had saved her life.
[To collapse from refusing to eat sand bugs. You’re not that good at travelling are you Chiki san?]
[That’s not true. Chiki is a great assassin. I just had a little miss this time around]
[I see. Is it the same for you too as well Shaina san?]
Al passed off the conversation to Shaina who was quietly listening to their conversation.
[It wasn’t a miss for me you know. I was provoked by others telling me there was no way I could traverse the wasteland with that armor so I pushed myself through it. The sorry state I was in was what happened because I refused to give up]
[Then what would you have done if you died?]
Shaina showed no concern for Al’s surprised reaction and responded smoothly.
[Well I survived like this so there’s no problem is there?]
[It’s as the knight says]
Said Chiki with a loud voice.
[That may be true…]
Al observed the self proclaimed great assassin as he spoke.
I see. Her demeanor is sharp. Though I can’t truly understand how skillful she is, she definitely isn’t an amateur that only boasts around proclaiming herself as a great assassin in the streets.
Though she said she came here for a job, Al didn’t ask her who she came to kill as he wasn’t really interested.
Although a hero is someone who saves others, he is not one that can deny murder.
Al could kill someone while saving another.
With Chiki killing someone, there might be a possibility where another would be saved.
Thinking about it one step further, it’s all the same. Whether it is Al or Chiki, both are just doing their jobs.
[By the way Al]
[What is it?]
For some reason with an formal expression
[Although you are my savior, Chiki has no money]
[If you are talking about paying for this place, you don’t have to worry about it]
Chiki shook her head.
[… Although there’s that. Chiki’s life has been saved by you]
[Chiki’s job is to snatch other people’s lives. So there is a value on every life. That’s why since you saved me, I must compensate you with something equal in return. Do you understand?]
If there is a fee to be paid for destroying something, the same could be said for making it as well.
If there is a money to be had for killing someone, you can’t say that there is no money to be had when someone is saved.
Such are her values as an assassin.
[But I’m not some professional helper so I don’t need the money]
[Fumu, but if nothing can be given, Chiki won’t be able to settle down]
[Even if you say so…]
Demand something for your self, was what Al had interpreted from her. He put his hand on his chin and soon came up with an idea.
[If you’re going to keep insisting, please pay me with your body]
Chiki’s eyes widely opened her eyes and blushed.
She was petrified for a few seconds and then started looking around, finding the woman next to her staring at Al with a cold gaze and held her tongue.
She closed her eyes.
[Is that so, my body… so it will be. But, as you can see Chiki is very thin so I don’t know if Al is going to be satisfied. Are you okay with it?]
[Please don’t be so humble by saying you are thin. I carried Chiki san all the way here remember? You have the wonderful body like that of a flexible yet tough spring and one that is full of youthfulness]
[Is is that so? That’s the first time someone said that to me. You sure are passionate. Hm. I’ve simulated this before with my eyes several times but to hear this face to face is still embarrassing. Ah, so, uh, that’s right. Be gentle with me on the bed okay?]
Chiki dyed her face red and fidgeted her body as she looked at Al with upturned eyes.
Al tilted his head in confusion.
[Bed? No, I planned to have you work hard in the mountain]
Chiki was astonished. She was as girl that had superficial knowledge on sex. To her, it was something to be had indoors, but to do so outdoors was the skills of someone advanced in the act.
[This was the first time Chiki has ever felt embarrassed. At least…]
Al cut off her uneasy voice.
[It’s okay. It’s my first time too. That’s why it has to be the mountain]
Hearing Al’s words that brimmed with confidence, Chiki’s heart was in shock. Since the day they were born, for living beings to have intercourse day after day was their way of repeating evolution and what not. Thinking back on it, there’s this feeling that quite a few people who told her about this. Underneath the blue sky, feeling liberated but being aroused by the impending danger was the best way of doing it. Something like that anyways.
[That’s the reason why, is it… Sorry for not being well informed but is it okay to have your first in the mountains?]
[I’ve also yearned for something like a castle. A castle occupied by an old Demon King located in the deep parts of the forest]
[Ho, Ho. That’s is romantic indeed. Umu, that I can understand]
[But, it wouldn’t be dragon slaying if it isn’t in a mountain]
[… Dragon slaying?]
Hearing a word that she didn’t hear before, Chiki raised her lowered head.
[The opponent is the King Dragon King Kazakt. He can’t be approached by ordinary means. I need some comrades along the way you know]
After the clock’s needle passed by for three seconds, Chiki’s flushing cheeks returned to their normal colors.
She scowled at the female knight sitting beside her, who was covering her mouth from laughter.
[Hey knight. Did Chiki look like a fool just now?]
[You looked very foolish]
[Hmph! Chiki feels the same way]
Breathing out once with her nose.
Chiki folded her arms and returned her gaze back to Al. Just a little, she lifted her chin up as if she was looking down on him.
[Dragon slaying. Very well. Chiki’s expertise is targeted towards humans but if you take me, there will be things I will be useful for. I’ll work my life’s value]
[Thank you very much]
Al bowed deeply to the girl much younger than him. Although he had confidence of fighting the King Dragon King by himself, if someone got there first, it would be all for nothing. For tracking, it is much more advantageous to have the many people help out.
Better two people than one, better three than two. Al’s gaze looked toward Shaina.
[And so, Shaina san]
Shaina distored her face in refusal.
[What? I don’t want any part of it]
[But Shaina san, you came here for the dragon slaying right? Your observation before of seeing the truth from the nots was very impressive. Please by all means, lend me your strength]
[N.O. My principle is to never carry a burden]
A complete refusal. She isn’t bargaining. There is nothing she wants from this.
But Al won’t give up.
She is experienced. Not to say that she has experience in dragon slaying but she knows how to out maneuver the many groups ahead and reach for victory. Al is confident on bringing down the dragon but getting to it first is not something he can be confident of and is out of his expertise.
Al wants to slay a dragon, not search for it.
For searching the dragon, she will be reliable. He wants to bring her to his side by all means necessary.
If it’s not possible, it is what it is, is what he would usually think, but with Chiki lending her hand just before this, he wants to push his luck a bit.
That being said, how will he pursuade her.
Al with his worries had no words to say.
[Hey knight. Do your principles outweigh your life?}
The assistance came from right nearby. It was Chiki.
Shaina looked up to Chiki as if she was scowling at her and made a bitter smile with a what? on her eyebrows.
[If you say it like that, it’s pretty difficult]
[If that’s the case, you should help out. Or do you want to hoard the reward for yourself?]
[It’s not like that. There’s no way I can single handedly defeat a Dragon King… But uh… How should I explain this…]
Shaina folded her arms and groaned.
She had her own reason for approaching things as such, so her declining his request accordingly was something that even Al had assumed.
You have to pay back those who save your life. A knight is an occupation that works with their duty and honor. This is even true for a wandering knight. But there must be a reason why she refuses despite all this.
[What is your reason for wanting to slay the dragon? Al kun]
Right after her groan, she asked such a question.
[Even if you ask “why” I want to]
Al bitterly smiled
[Is it for money?]
[No. It may be awkward for me to say myself, but I’m from a wealthy family so I don’t mind giving up the money reward you know?]
He said so freely.
[Ara, you sure are generous. Then is it the sword made by the demon blacksmith?]
[No. This treasured sword that I carry has been handed down my family for hundreds of years and is my partner. At the very least, unless it breaks, I won’t be needing a new one]
He said freely as he touched the hilt of the sword placed on his back.
[To not desire anything from this. I can only doubt that you plan to do something devious]
[I do have desire]
[Is that so? Then what do you want?]
[I want to become a hero. So what I want, is fame]
That word made Shaina laugh.
This time, it was a really scorn filled smile.
Even Al knows what it means to be famous or a hero in these times.
It is not something that is simply obtainable. It’s something that sticks on like a stone weight over time.
If you expose yourself to the battlefield, anyone has the chance of obtaining it which made it a very common thing. If you live on the battlefield, you will surely obtain it. Fame is something like that.
Al received the scorn filled smile, but this time, he did not have the displeased face as before.
If she showed such scorn while carrying light feelings, Al would be irritated as well. But in her case, it was something much heavier.
She probably has ill feelings to the word “fame”.
[What will you do by obtaining something like that? Obtaining fame, and being called a hero, then what?]
[No matter how it is said, defeating the King Dragon King Kazakt, and earning fame to be called the hero of dragon slaying holds meaning]
[There’s no way something like that can…]
[There is one]
Al repeated once again while biting his lips.
For Shaina to have ill feelings towards the word is fine. But there is nothing wrong with wanting to earn fame.
And as for what Al wants, it is not something that could be simply said and generalized.
It was something personal, something like a personal idol of sorts.
So, Al just stared at Shaina.
Shaina closed her mouth.
Taking a breath.
[There is a meaning. At the very least, for me]
Al would only say that much.
If there was no meaning, he wouldn’t bring himself all the way over here.
To become a hero holds meaning. For it to not have one is not an option.
Al yearns to become a hero, but he doesn’t want to become one just by yearning.
He didn’t have the confidence to put those complex feelings into words. Al wasn’t good with words. He would try to start by explaining from the beginning, but would get lost himself along the way.
However, there was one thing that he could say.
[Please. The King Dragon King, is my father’s life long enemy]
Al said so and bowed his head.
How long did he bow down for?
Shaina relaxed her shoulders.
[… Alright. Going as far to say that much, I’ll help you out]
As Al elevated his face dyed with joy, Shaina sighed [ahh] and looked up at the ceiling. She had a face that she would make when during conflicts, the scales of fate that sided with no one would in the end choose a path for her that she didn’t wish to take.
[But promise me one thing. This isn’t a simple give and take. It’s a promise. If you protect this promise, never mind the dragon slaying, I’ll continue to always be your companion. It is a very important promise]
[For me to protect something]
To Al who obediently nodded in agreement, Shaina sent a weak gaze.
It looked as she was about to cry.
Contrary to her face, she said something truly simple, something that sounded simple.
[If at any point, if you feel at danger or risk, I want you to leave me behind and run away]
Al smiled brightly.
[So that’s it, that’s what you meant]
He replied immediately.
The girl on the side watching all of this unfold was sure that the boy who held justice to such a high regard would reject such a promise immediately.
He would shake his head and tell her it was impossible for him to leave her behind.
[That’s no problem for me]
Right after he muttered those words, Chiki spurted her tea from her mouth all over Al’s face.
TL Note: Hi guys, I’ve come back after a few years with the first chapter of the Subjugation of the King Dragon King. This is one of my most favourite arcs in MT and I hope all of you enjoy it as well. As you can tell, this is the tale of Kalman II, aka the Second North God, father of Alek.
There may be some translation errors (been a while since I translated a WN so…) and names that I kept in the Japanese pronunciation as they just either don’t sound good in English, or there are really not many words that can be described in English.
I will try to upload the next chapter by this month.