Episode 15: Clash (1)
Holy Knight Ronius and Verdel have left the Holy Kingdom of Qualia.
The two of them were heading to the Daijukai with about fifty mercenaries which they successfully hired.
In this world, there are mercenaries and adventurers.
The entirety of the continent has yet to be explored. The Hydragia continent is filled with dangerous creatures such as monsters and wild beasts.
the demand for those who make a living out of fighting has increased.
Regardless of whether Mercenaries are hired normally or privately, they
are useful in various situations.
A group of such mercenaries was the ones who accompanied them this time.
Rather than wartime, they made their living by exterminating magical beasts and conducting exploration during land expansion, so they were perfect for this investigation.
This is how the job usually proceed, but problems are bound to arise like it's a natural thing to happen.
Senior Holy Knight Verdel was initially satisfied with Holy Knight Ronius' connections and coordination skills. Still, as the march to the forest progressed, his mood got worse.
“Aaah. Boring. Why do I have to be in charge of something like this? Damn it, I want to go home. In this case, it would have been hundreds of times better to listen to those VIPs shitty and boring lectures in the central.”
“It's probably because of the Northern Province mayhem. Normally, it wouldn't be surprising to see a larger scale survey team formed. The fact that it's on this scale shows that Qualia doesn't have that much time to spare.”
“Oh, well, I'll just leave it at that.”
Verdel waved his hand, and languidly walked over.
What was certain was that even though he was wearing the heavy knight armor but from his light movement and steps, it was clear that he was indeed a holy knight.
The unceasing training and the extraordinary power that their talents produce.
mercenary corps leader that accompanied them joined the conversation as
he witnessed the power of a knight who was said to do the same work as a
hundred soldiers alone.
“The Northern Province mayhem, it's none of our business, but it looks like things are bad over there...”
“Hmm? You guys aren't interested? I heard they pay quite a lot of money...?”
"Even if the pay is good, our life is on the line, and it looks too hard for an ordinary mercenary like us."
that's true. Even under normal circumstances, the mercenary's existence
was to be taken advantage of to do difficult jobs. If their crisis
senses are not high, they will definitely not be able to survive."
"And also... it seems that a witch has appeared in Northern Province."
Their language is coarse with each other. Verdel and Captain seem to be on the same page. Still, Ronius lets out a sigh at the exchange of dialogue, no longer knowing which the knight is and which the mercenary is. But during these conversations, he suddenly heard an unfamiliar word and cocks his head.
The man who acts as the mercenary leader said it. It was the first time ever heard the word.
Is there something going on in the Northern Province that he doesn't know about?
Because of curiosity, he finally cut their conversation.
“Witch? Captain, what's the story behind that? I've never heard of it...”
“It's just a rumor, but...”
“Hey, stop it! Don't talk about something so depressing when the situation it's already so dull!”
“I just want to get this investigation over with and get the hell out of here.”
Ronius is suspicious because Verdel cut off the talk about a witch.
But he knew he wouldn't get an answer if insisted on asking, so he kept his mouth shut.
''Well, just chill, holy knight's-sama. Fortunately, there is a city near the Daijukai, so the fact that we can drink alcohol there every night is a good thing. We shouldn't have to camp out.”
“Come on, let's just get this stuff over with and get on with it!”
Apparently, the Captain's persuasion had stopped Verdel's tantrum.
But Ronius still doesn't know about the Witch, and it's impossible to question the Captain here.
While still feeling annoyed, Ronius was carried away by the atmosphere of the place.
"Master Ronius, is that OK?
"Ah, yes... that’s fine."
How the Witch look like?
Could it be that the Holy Knight Verdel knows something?
There is a massive gap in the information disclosed to the Holy Knights, depending on their rank.
Unlike the lower ranks, it's not surprising if a senior level like Verdel knows top-secret stories from the center.......
“Oops! While we are talking, the Daijukai comes into view. That's the closest area to Qualia, for now, let's investigate from this area!”
That is Daijukai ...?
Just as the Captain said, a dark and gloomy forest came into view in front of them.
According to the map that we confirmed beforehand, this Daijukai is a vast forest. It's impossible to explore all of it, both in terms of time and manpower.
this time a simple survey would suffice. And if there's any kind of
anomalies, they'll send another large investigation team.
That's how they will dispatch of holy knight troops, and Ronius is also aware of that.
This supposed to be an easy mission to complete.
Somehow.... in front of this large forest, they felt a terrifying sensation. As if it was a lair of creepy monsters
Ronius continue to stare at the forest before him.
They all stopped walking on Holy Knight Verdel's orders.
The Daijukai lay before them, and as per discussion, they would start the investigation.
They discuss many things while looking for an entrance to the forest.
Verdel's words brought them all to a halt.
What could be there?
Everyone noticed that Verdel's gaze was focused into the forest, and they all turned to follow his eye.
Then they saw one figure quietly coming towards them.
“What is that...?”
That is a girl.
Her skin was creepy white. Her hair was a wavy and dull gray.
She was dressed in tattered clothes made of linen.
Her red eyes give an impression of an oddity, and combined with this situation, she makes an extraordinary impression.
"What a rare occurrence in a place like this. What do you think, Ronius?"
“We heard earlier that the dark elves were expelled from the El-Nar Spiritual Contracting Union.”
“We were informed that they were headed to the southern continent, so perhaps she was survivors of that?”
“Hmm, a survivor... HEY.”
Verdel shout with an overtly suspicious look in his eyes.
Verdel is the one in charge of this operation.
Ronius and the mercenary group are confused about what to do, but they decide to leave everything to Verdel.
Verdel crosses his arms and stares at the girl intently.
Eventually, when the girl got close enough, Verdel loudly started questioning her identity.
“Hey! Girl! Who are you? We've got business in this forest, but why did you get out of this Daijukai!”
"Ah, I presume your excellency is the Qualia Holy Knight-sama. I am one of the dark elves who escaped to this forest. May I know the purpose of your visit here?
The first word is quite familiar.
dignified voice sound is lovely, despite the impression he gives from
his appearance. That oddity makes Verdel can't trust her.
“I can't tell you why I'm here. That's classified. You'll have to answer my question first, little girl. Why did you come out of the woods?”
“We have been forced to leave our homeland, and we have no place to return to. This cursed land is the only place where we can find peace, where no one comes to us.”
“Purposely living in a cursed land is weird. Well, all right. We are, as you say, holy knights of Qualia. We have some business in the woods. You don't mind if we go in?”
“You can’t go in. Please do not enter the forest, Holy Knight-sama.”
“You, this is an act approved and justified by God. I don't really appreciate your words of rejection....”
"Hey, I'm one who is talking here, shut up, Ronius!
"..... I beg your pardon, Holy Knight Verdel-sama."
Verdel's harsh rebuke made Ronius tremble.
It was true he was wrong for interrupting, but was there really necessary to rebuke that harshly?
Anyway, he and she are talking.
Deciding to report the man's rude attitude to the central later, Ronius is quietly watching the events unfold, trying not to interfere again.
The girl glanced at Ronius then to the mercenary group.
Her red eyes looked over at them eerily.
Is she really a dark elf?
As they all looked at her, they all had their doubts in mind. The girl remains silent for a while.
Eventually, she makes sure that Ronius doesn't get any further into the subject. The girl looks at Verdel again and answers the question in an emotionless voice tone.
“The dark elves who have also escaped are frightened. We have all survived the hard and painful journey. We have just finally found a safe place to live. We beg you to have mercy on us...”
“We also have work to do. If we could, we'd like to go home, but with orders from above, it's not possible...”
“We hope that you will understand and forget your desire to enter the forest.”
The girl's words were polite and respectful.
Except for the uncomfortable part of it, it could be described as a perfectly reasonable plea.
But the Daijukai, all these forests are cursed.
The girl in front of them was clearly an alien entity who didn't belong here.
It was no exaggeration to say that there might be something in the forest that make her reject them.
As an example, the disaster predicted by the Saintess.
"What's inside the forest?"
“There is only quiet peace. Nothing threatens you. Why are you so obsessed with such a tiny, dimly lit forest?”
“Tsk! We've come here with an oracle that tells us there was a disaster in this land. We can't just say, "Yes, we understand" and go home...”
“Ve, Verdel-sama! This is a top-secret mission! Why did you tell about the oracle to that dark elf!”
"Shut up! I told you to shut up, Ronius! How many times I have to tell you!
The words were unintentionally uttered, and Ronius was silenced by another burst of anger.
Disclosing the state's top-secret matters to those who are not authorized to do so.
Initially, the act can be considered a breach of trust crime, but Verdel may have been aware of this and still tried to break down the negotiations.
For the first time, the girl showed a hint of surprise in her expression. She showed a puzzled gesture with her hand over mouth.
“An oracle by a saintess........? The Holy Knight fears the disaster. But no one in this land would want to do you any harm.”
“What do you have to prove that?”
“I can only prove it with a single word.”
“Can we have access to the forest? Just a little bit. That will be enough to convince us.”
“No, sir. Please refrain”
“What are the chances of disaster befalling our country and its people?”
“None, sir. In fact, we are the ones who are afraid.”
"Even though you are still a child, you speak very fluently. It seems you are used to negotiating and are also very brave.''
"Again, we are not the ones who will harm you.”
It is a roundabout way.
She doesn't reveal her identity, just begs him to leave so she can have peace.
All the people here had already figured out that the girl was not just a dark elf.
No, that there is no such thing as a dark elf.
The more conversations we have, the more uncomfortable it becomes. And an eerie sense of evil drifting through the air.
They are not sure what the girl who's wafting the scent of pure evil is thinking and stopping them from entering this forest. There is no way for Verdel and his team to know that.
Seem the girl would never be willing to say that either.
So Verdel made a decision and asked one last question to end this encounter.
“Is that something you can swear to God?”
"I swear to my God.”
The girl has sworn to God.
Whether it is really the God they believe in or something else, Verdel does not know.
But he meditates for a while, and then eventually opens his eyes and tells his companion.
“We're going home.”
Ronius look at Verdel with a surprised expression upon hearing the sudden words.
The other party was clearly an evil creature.
It never occurred to him that a holy knight like Verdel, who was at the senior level, would say such words.
It was as if he succumbed to his fears and bow down to evil.
Even the supposedly pious and level-headed Ronius shouted at this.
“What are thinking, Holy Knight Verdel-sama? That one has a distinctly alien air! How can you, a holy knight, fail to detect the evil spirit in this girl's heart?”
don't give a shit about evil spirit. I'm going home. She told me they
wanted to live in peace, and I agreed. That's all it takes. I'm so tired
Verdel seems to have already made up his mind. He stretches his back and loosens his body in the same manner as before he came here again.
Needless to say, Ronius and the mercenaries were still confused, and he approached Verdel again.
“Are you going to overlook an evil entity?
“I'm not talking about overlook it or anything. There's no problem. That's the investigation result.”
"What if she has been deceiving us? If you bring disaster to our Holy Kingdom, how will you take responsibility for it?”
“Don't focus your eyes on fear, Ronius. Our doctrine begins with belief. Read the Bible again, unbeliever.”
Ronius word not getting any reply.
Verdel seemed to have already made up his mind and would not budge, even if he pressured him.
On this trip, Ronius knew his character disgustingly well. He knows it's impossible to persuade him only with words.
Finally, Ronius took out the card that he kept just in case.
“You are accused of kidnapping an innocent girl and committing lewd acts. It can be that you have been seduced by that evil girl?”
Verdel's eyebrows furrowed, and his irritability instantly became apparent.
“Are you stupid? Isn't that just an accusation? That's not even the point of this conversation. Don't makeup stories based on speculation in a way that suits you. I'll punch you in the face.”
This man is suspected of criminal activity. Convinced by his unknightly actions and statements, but above all by his cowardly attitude in the face of evil, Ronius lets the justice in his heart lead him.
"Senior Holy Knight, Verdel. I regret to inform you that you are no longer in command because of desertion. Henceforth, it is I, Holy Knight Ronius, who will now preside over the investigation.”
“What? Hey, you have to be kidding me! How high up do you think you are, man?
That's why you're in the lower class. Do you understand?”
“Holy Knight Ronius-sama. Please don't get angry too quickly. Conflict breeds nothing. We still can resolve this by talking.”
Verdel is stupid. Even the girl who was quietly watching them tried to warn Ronius not to argue.
This is not right.
Because this was more than enough to ignite Ronius's anger and sense of justice.
"Shut up, you wicked thing!”
Ronius drew his sword and pointed it to the girl.
The situation has clearly changed.
The rupture between Verdel and Ronius is now inevitable, and the problem that was about to end earlier is swelling up.
“Hey! Mercenary! You guys need to stop this guy!”
“I'm sorry, Verdel-sama. We are employed by the Holy Knight, Ronius-sama, so even though you are his superiors, we can't obey your orders.”
Verdel, who disliked handling the paperwork or negotiating with the mercenary group, paid the price for leaving everything to Ronius.
longer did anyone agree with him. The only one who agrees with him is
the girl, but she is under suspicion right now, so she can do nothing.
“I'll deal with the Holy Knight, Verdel-sama later. You first! You wicked thing! And I'll interrogate you to clarify why you were in the cursed forest! Capture her, and we will interrogate her in the royal capital to confess in front of God. Hey, mercenaries! Bind this one up!”
The girl was surprised.
She shakes her head quietly with a troubled expression and expresses her refusal.
However, that refusal does not reach Ronius. No, he may have had no intention of listening to the girl's words from the beginning.
The mercenary Captain looked at Ronius to confirm his orders.
They had already drawn their swords, and each of them in a battle stance.
Even though she looks like a mere girl, it's already clear from the atmosphere that the other party is not human.
If she resists, there would definitely be a battle.
About fifty mercenary groups against one girl, as a fighting force, they are overwhelming.
But she is demons, and they never know what will happen.
“I don't care. Just do it! If she is going to resist, you'll have to use force. Just be careful!"
"Hey! Stop! Don't put your hands on non-resisting people!"
But there is no one to follow this man. He has already been stripped of his authority by Ronius, and his words echo in the void, empty.
The mercenaries circle around the girl and narrow the siege.
“Oh, it's not working.”
The girl let out a small sigh.
“Tsk! Damn it!”
Ronius could not understand what had happened to him.
He heard a crash sound, then a reversal of vision.
It wasn't until he saw the blue sky in his eyes that he realized he had fallen.
“Ronius! Are you OK?!”
“Eh, yes ... but what?”
“There's no "what"! You said it yourself! It's called "The Evil One"! You know what you're talking about, you fool! Now get up!”
With a buzz, a creepy tentacle wriggling above him came into view.
The tentacle has a slippery epidermis and a spear-like tip.
There is a single cut on the surface of its skin.
Before Ronius knows it, the tip of Verdel's sword, which was drawn out, is wet with purple liquid.
Verdel pushed Ronius to avoid the offensive and defensive move that he didn't recognize. Ronius hurriedly gets up his body with the understanding that his life was saved.
Everything was going so well, but life is so unpredictable.
The girl turned her eyes to the ground, let out a loud sigh again, lifted her head around, and stared at them.
“Hey! Mercenary! Anyone! Let's get this thing home! --The Witch! The Witch is out!”
“I'm sorry, Holy Knight-sama…… her target was our messenger.”
Captain's voice echoes from behind them, and as soon as Ronius turns around, he realizes what's going on.
A messenger and horses pierced by a tentacle protruding from the ground.
The unnamed mercenary man spat out a large amount of blood from his mouth while coughing and twitching. Eventually, he collapsed to the ground with a dull thud as that tentacles returned to the ground.
If they look closely, it's not just the messenger. The horse used for the wagon also fared the same.
In this mission, they only brought a minimum number of horses because they did not want to prepare large quantities of water and supplies.
horses they had prepared seemed to have been wiped out. Now they had to
deliver a message to the center regarding this incident by themself.
But they sure the girl wouldn't let them escape or retreat.
In fact, the tentacles that had been doing their job faltered behind her, as if looking for new prey.
"Tsk! It's an accurate aim!"
"You see, it's a monster you're looking for? It's a manifestation of evil. The darkness that you want, the existence of darkness that was a part of God, has appeared."
"Don't get scared, Ronius. We've got to do it ... ready to fight! Don't let your guard down! Put your life on the line!
The fire of fighting spirit lights up in everyone's eyes at Verdel's words.
Everyone understands that there is no tomorrow if we don't get through this place, and they've all made up their minds.
“Yeah. You are going to confront it, aren't you, clergyman? A fool who has made an irrevocable choice with the unnecessary investigation and a sense of justice. How will you face this calamity?”
Her costume, made of hemp, begins to dissolve.
phenomenon occurs around the girl as if sludge overflows as if stagnant
malice spills out of her body. Soon, the costume takes shape.
Her black robe contained darkness.
Her hair is light ash, nauseous eyes that seemed like hell itself.
Several tentacles sprouted from her back and swayed as if they were going after their prey.
Her red eyes caught them, and she screamed.
“Come on, pray.”
“God! Give me the power to strike down evil!”
Verdel and Ronius, at the same time, cast a miracle on their body.
A group of mercenaries nails an arrow to their bows and takes aim at the girl.
The girl shows a terrifying smile and then takes a step forward.
Atou is the sludge hero of Mynoghra.
For the first time, the King of ruin has placed full trust in her. She is about to unleash her fury on this world.