Regular chapter! ^^
The story is a bit slow right now, but I’m hoping it means it will just get better later! ^^
Chapter 2, Episode 2: Village
It’s a clear day without a cloud in sight. The sun hanging in the sky beats down relentlessly on the earth.
There were animals running across a lush plain, and the scent of the flora was riding a gentle breeze.
A creature smaller than a horse, but incomparably faster, is dashing along while kicking the ground beneath it.
Riding on its back, was a young boy clad in black.
(Even I can ride this… Amazing! And it’s fast!)
The wind beating on his cheeks feels good. It’s almost as if he’s become one with nature.
Hiro was riding a creature he received from Tris called a 「shiryu」*.
(TL note: Kanji is “swift dragon”.)
It is a foreign species which is naturally found on an archipelago called Shaitan, east of the central continent.
An adventurer captured and brought a number of them from the Shaitan archipelago about 300 years ago, but they escaped and multiplied.
「I can just race straight past Margrave Grinda at this rate!」
He has a rough map in his head which he drew from his memories from a 1,000 years ago, and the current maps which were in Fort Belk.
But because his familiarity with the land had become dull and he thought there was a chance of getting lost, he decided it would be better to use the stagecoach.
Although there was no time limit written in the Emperor’s summons, it was probably best to get there as quickly as possible.
And so, he is currently heading for Links.
He will likely reach the town by tomorrow morning at this pace.
However, a journey is such because things don’t go as planned.
Hiro sensed the faint scent of blood mixed into the air.
(Over there, huh…)
It was drifting over from a small village a little ways away from the highway.
Hiro dismounted from the 「shiryu」 at the village entrance.
There is a board attached to a pole pierced into the ground.
It’s probably the name of the village. On it, was written 「Haltzna」.
Hiro took one step into the village, noticed something unusual, and stopped in his tracks.
Even though it wasn’t noon yet, there weren’t any villagers in sight.
There were about eight log houses erected around a well in the center.
There was a noticeably large building to Hiro’s right with smoke coming out from a chimney. He gathered it was some sort of work cabin.
(I wonder if something happened.)
As he walked forward, he saw there were baskets with books carelessly scattered about, and what seemed like farm tools which had fallen onto the ground.
The signs suggested that the people here ran away from something in a hurry.
Something caught his attention as he was walking, so he stooped down and narrowed his eyes.
He saw bloodstains on the ground.
(Bandits? No, that doesn’t seem right…)
There’s too little blood for a bandit attack.
Based on the scale of the village, there should be at least 20 people living here.
(And it looks too undisturbed.)
A bandit’s main goal is to pillage. They force themselves into houses to steal food and valuables.
But there wasn’t a single house that was destroyed.
There’s the chance that it was a kidnapping, but if the villagers resisted and caused a commotion, the Fourth Imperial Army would have caught wind of it and come right away.
Bandits wouldn’t do something so dangerous.
(There has to be another reason for this.)
Hiro lifted his face, and he saw a sturdy looking mansion built atop a foundation of rocks ahead.
He felt a strong presence of people coming from there. As he started heading there, the door of the mansion swung open.
A man came rushing out looking fraught.
『Hey, boy! It’s dangerous there! Hurry and get over here!』
As Hiro looked suspiciously at the man who seemed to be a villager, a large shadow soon fell down from above.
A giant bird had appeared overhead. A pair of ominous eyes were glaring down on Hiro.
Its giant wings sent a rush of wind to the earth causing clouds of dust to rise up. Its grim talons shimmered in the light of the sun, locked onto Hiro like a predator to its prey.
『What are you doing?! You’re going to die if you freeze up! Hurry and run for it!』
The villager’s face turned pale, perhaps because he thought Hiro’s legs had frozen in fear.
The man would have known this if he were closer to him, but Hiro’s face was calm.
The space around his waist split open, and 「Excalibur’s」 handle flew out.
「You want a piece of me?」
It let out an ear splitting roar, and its talons swooped down on Hiro.
However, the sharp claws simply pierced into the ground. Hiro leapt right in front of the giant bird’s eyes.
In his hand, was 「Excalibur」. He lightly brandished it to the side, cleaving through the air as it whizzed by.
A single, thin line appeared across the large bird’s neck, and soon thereafter, a flower of blood bloomed in the sky.
With its head severed from its body, the giant bird swirled down as it scattered blood all about.
(… Something’s off.)
Hiro looked at it with skeptical eyes.
(That was too shallow of a response.)
「Excalibur」 began to disappear as it fell towards the ground, dissolving into the air.
As Hiro looked on quizzically at the giant bird’s dead body, the villager from earlier had run over to him.
「Hey! Are you okay?!」
「I’m okay. More importantly, there’s something I’d like to ask you—」
As he turned around, there was a sight that concerned him more so than the man.
The mansion that was visible beyond the man’s shoulders— from its door, out came about ten people all at once, without any sign of life in their faces.
After “seeing” that, Hiro felt like throwing up, and at the same time, a sharp pain traveled up to his left eye.
He pressed his left hand above his eyepatch in an attempt to lessen the pain.
「H-Hey, boy. What’s wrong all of a sudden?」
The villager reached out to touch Hiro’s shoulder, who was now kneeling on the ground.
「D-Don’t touch me!」
He vehemently shook him off with his right hand.
A loud sound rang out throughout the village.
「Ah, I-I’m sorry!」
Hiro apologized in a fluster.
The villager shook his head and smiled.
「No need to worry about it. You’re the village savior. You’re not looking too good there. —How about it, won’t you rest in our village? 」
「You should listen to Father. We would also like to thank you for saving us from that monster.」
A beautiful girl appeared from behind the man.
(There’s something about this girl, too…)
The pain in his left eye begins to intensify. His “eye” is telling him that it’s dangerous here.
「No… I’m in a hurry.」
Hiro stood up while enduring the pain, and was about to turn around.
However, the girl grabbed his arm, and he was unable to do so.
「At least for just a little while…」
His arm is guided by her grip, and his hand is buried in her voluptuous breasts.
He wasn’t sure why she did this, but this was clearly an invitation.
If he was an ordinary man, he might have jumped at this beautiful woman.
But Hiro felt a chill down his spine. This was because he detected a madness in her eyes which she was unable to completely conceal.
He somewhat forcefully frees his hand.
「I’m in a hurry, really!」
Hiro turns his back to her and runs off.
The young boy leaps onto the shiryu and disappears far out of sight.
The girl who saw him off smiled silently.
「He got away.」
The sound of bells suddenly ring out from nowhere.
The villagers who were behind the woman disappeared.
「「Uranus」 really is troublesome.」
The sound of bells rippled through the air louder than before.
The village falls apart like confetti and gets carried off by the wind.
The giant bird drowning in a pool of blood also disappeared.
「I know. It’s okay. I doubt he realized who I was.」
Every single blade of grass around her completely withered away as if the life was sucked out of them.
「Well, I wanted to see him. But, was it enough for you to be scared?」
The woman stretched her hand out into the empty space. There is a blue crystal embedded into the back of her hand.
The crystal steadily became wrapped in a soft glow. Then, as it let off a remarkably large blast of light, it dispersed into the surrounding area.
「… Hehe, you’re right. I was so happy that I forgot.」
The light converged and a staff appeared in her hand, which she thrust it into the ground.
「Welcome back— 「Desperation」.」
The sound of bells shook the world.
The woman’s figure disappeared, and only a wasteland remained.
Meanwhile— Fort Belk, central tower.
First floor, officer dining hall. There was a man in a space reserved for high grade officers.
Although he is an old, muscular soldier, the manly atmosphere emitting from his body would not lose to any youth.
Feared by soldiers both old and young, the elderly soldier was well known as an ogre of an instructor. On his face, he wore an inexplicable expression.
It seemed like he was quietly groaning, but the old soldier suddenly began to scream— The gaze of the soldiers around Tris all focused on him.
However, he was so troubled about something that it didn’t bother him.
Then, a ghastly young girl with drooped shoulders came along.
It was the Sixth Imperial Princess, the one to whom Tris had pledged his allegiance.
「I was abandoned… I was abandoned by Hiro.」
She muttered while she sat across from Tris at a long table.
Liz, who Tris adored to no end, currently looked about ready to die.
Obviously, Tris couldn’t keep quiet.
「Mm, did something happen?」
「… Is that so?」
Knowing the reason why, Tris could only wear a complicated expression on his face.
「I think he probably went to Uncle’s place. He can’t ride a horse, so I think he’ll use the stagecoach.」
Horses excel in reading the emotions of humans.
If they don’t like someone, they make a fool of them. If they sense fear in the rider, they try to throw them off.
However, if you pour your love into them, they are reliable partners who will do as you wish.
In Hiro’s case, he has no problems in terms of technique.
He was able to ride a horse well enough to show that he had practiced a considerable amount.
It was just that the horse would not listen to his commands. Once he was thrown off, the horse would run away.
「Ahh, speaking of horses…」
Tris thought this was the perfect chance and decided to open up about his quandary.
It concerns both horses and Hiro.
「Princess, have you ever ridden a 「shiryu」?」
「Of course not. They’re of the dragon bloodline. They’re moody and I doubt their pride would allow a human to ride on their back. Even among the Anthros*, who are able to communicate with dragons, I hear only a limited few are able to ride them.」
TL note: Kanji is “beasts/ beast tribe”.
「… That is true.」
But Hiro rode one right before Tris’s eyes.
Actually, the shiryu lowered its head on its own, and made it easy for Hiro to get on.
「Speaking of which, wasn’t there one in this fort? I think I heard that they caught one that was running amok through a village before.」
「There was one, but the boy rode off on it.」
「Wow~ so you tell jokes too, Tris.」
「I saw it with my own two eyes. Before the sun came up, I clearly saw the boy straddle the「shiryu」 and take off from here! It was no dream!」
After blurting it out in his excitement, Tris realized his gaffe.
Right in front him, the ends of Liz’s lips turned up smugly.
「I want you to tell me more about that in detail.」
She said it in a kind tone, but her voice was filled with rage.