Another chapter is out!
I hope you like it ^^~!
Chapter 2, Episode 15: Joining the Battle
The sun was high in the eastern sky, hidden by a haze of sand.
The sun was barely visible, but rather than cooling the earth, it created a humid heat, draining the energy of those who were fighting below it.
And that wasn’t the only thing taking away from everyone’s stamina.
There were lumps of flesh covered in the dust of war littering the ground.
They were the remains of what used to be humans.
Some corpses are so severely damaged that it can not be discerned whether they were friend or foe.
「We are soldiers of the glorious Grantz Grand Empire! Do not allow a mere rebel army best you!」
Although they are surrounded by a countless number of corpses, there is no room for complaint.
They must step over their comrades and continue to fight.
All for the sake of fulfilling their duties as warriors, as soldiers.
「We are superior to them in numbers! Surround them and slaughter them all!」
A voice filled with bloodlust flies across the battlefield.
As the soldiers in the area raise a war cry, they begin to cut down the enemy soldiers.
They drag their enemies off their camels, surround them in groups, and end their lives.
Then, they rush to the next enemy.
「Don’t let them overwhelm you! We have the protection of 「Mars」with us!」
These men in heavy armor possess the bravery of many— They are the men of the Fourth Imperial Army who oversee the defense of the southern end of the Grantz Grand Empire.
Kigui, the commander of these men— of the second battalion— died in battle at the hands of the zorosta.
But having built up as much experience as they have until now, they did not lose their composure.
In fact, it seems as if they are now making an extra strenuous effort to push the rebel army back to dispel the dismal air.
Why is that—? There are a number reason for it.
The one who took over command, was their original commander and was very skilled.
The presence of the Sixth Imperial Princess is uplifting their morale.
And the Zorosta who was the cause of the rebel army’s momentum, has been stopped by the young boy in black.
The key figure who was responsible for stopping their collapse was, a young boy— Hiro. He was currently at the center of the second battalion.
Behind him, is a young girl with crimson hair.
Her name is Celia Estreya Elizabeth von Grantz.
She is affectionately called 『Liz』 by those close to her, and she is usually an innocent young girl as brilliant as the sun.
But now, she is showing signs of fatigue and shock as she stares at Hiro’s back.
In front of the speechless Liz was Hiro, and on the other side of him, was a large man with light, purple skin.
He is a Zorosta who incited the liberation of the slaves in the Lichtein Dukedom and led a revolt— He is Gahda.
His well trained body is brimming with magic powers. His eyes were focused on Hiro with a glint that almost seemed like it would pierce through his heart.
「What is “that”? You’re cleverly trying to hide it, but I can see that torrent of immense power. But that sword isn’t written of in any literature or stories. At least in any stories that I’ve read… I ask you once more, 「one-eyed dragon」. What is “that” in your possession?」
Gahda’s gaze is focused on 「Excalibur」.
But there came no response from Hiro, so Gahda snorted displeased.
「Hmph. That’s fine. I’ll find out naturally if I fight you.」
Those words infused with bloodlust would plant fear in any whose ears they hit.
Any powerful warrior would have every strand of hair on their body standing on end before this man.
But there are exceptions for any case.
Hiro would be a prime example of that. He stood facing Gahda fearlessly.
His thick, pitch black hair which seemed to be an embodiment of darkness, and his eyes of the same color, could be likened to obsidian. And despite the humid desert heat, shining deep in his eyes, is a frosty clarity as cold as the Grauzarm mountain range.
After smiling slightly, with a gentle movement, Hiro pointed at 「Beben Slave」 in Gahda’s hand.
「「Beben Slave’s」 krall is 「impact」. 「Laevateinn’s」 is 「superhuman strength」. Each of the five treasure swords of the world capitalizes on a special trait for its krall. There are no two kralls that are the same. In which case, you should naturally be able to deduce it.」
He maintained the same natural pose he usually takes, though he showed no opening. He wore a shrewd expression as he continued.
「So I’ll show you.」
After inhaling softly, Hiro held 「Excalibur」 in the air, then kicked the ground beneath him.
Gahda only had a moment to be surprised— A godly slash of light attacked him.
Liege Grazart— A super high speed flurry of violent attacks.
Gahda placed 「Beben Slave」 in front of him to stave off the attacks, but his right arm spouted blood and went flying.
Without time to even suffer from the intense pain, the next sword flash approaches. Unable to stop it or evade it, Gahda’s burly body is smeared in blood in the blink of an eye.
Though Gahda tried to counterattack, there’s no way he can land an attack on an enemy he can’t see. Even so, he swings 「Beben Slave」 around, desperately chasing Hiro’s after images. But as if to ridicule him, the brilliance of the afterglows grow brighter, and the number of slash wounds on Gahda’s body increases.
Hiro went around to Gahda’s rear and unleashed a powerful kick to his back.
Gahda was about to go flying— or so it seemed, but with a surge of magic, he wraps his own legs around with sand and resists the impact.
Gritting his teeth, Gahda forcefully turned his body over.
「Beben Slave’s」 blade clears away the now hazy air.
But Hiro jumps away quicker than it approaches him and evades it.
As if he was waiting for this moment, Gahda spoke.
「Hah! You can’t move while in mid air!」
He thrust 「Beben Slave」 towards Hiro.
「Sorry. I can move.」
Immediately, he has a spirit weapon appear.
Using that as a foothold, he repositioned his body, and swung 「Excalibur」 down with immense force.
Completely turning the situation around, Gahda is forced to switch to the defensive.
Again, he begins to be toyed with by Hiro’s phantasmagoric swordplay.
Even if he stops the sword, a fist comes flying towards him.
Even if he evades the fist, a kick lands on his stomach.
If he catches the kick, the sword goes aiming for the nape of his neck.
「Damn it— Pesky little fly!」
As Gahda voices his irritation, he desperately tries to get a grip of the situation.
However, there is no point in slashing in the wrong direction.
Repeating these intense movements under this blazing sun does nothing but drain your stamina.
Before long, Gahda fell to his knees, possibly because he had reached his limit due to the profuse sweating and the blood flowing out from all of his wounds.
Hiro stares at Gahda breathing heavily. He moves his shoulders slightly and points the tip of 「Excalibur」 to the ground.
「… Haven’t you had enough?」
「Don’t be ridiculous. I can still fight!」
Hiro sighed in disappointment at his immediate response.
「I see… I wish you’d give up and surrender though.」
After wiping off the sweat dripping down the side of his face annoyed, Hiro looked around his surroundings as he caught his breath.
The two wings of the Fourth Imperial Army is completing their encirclement of the rebel army.
The sounds of angry bellows and cries of death can be heard from the enemy, and the smell of death and blood is mixed in the air as it hits his nose.
With the second battalion regrouped, there’s no doubt it will only continue to get worse for the enemy.
Taking his eyes away from the now hellish place, Hiro spoke to Gahda.
「Besides, you aren’t drawing out the power of the Demon Emperor Sword, are you?」
He once fought a 「Beben Slave」 user, but he wasn’t an opponent that could be toyed around with to this extent. He was a stalwart warrior who skillfully used 「impact」 to immobilize Hiro’s legs and counterattack.
No matter how much his physical abilities were increased with the protection of 「Excalibur」, there’s no way he should be able to defeat Gahda so easily. This is because his opponent also has the protection of a Demon Emperor Sword and his abilities are increased as well.
After considering all that, Hiro came up with a hypothesis and voiced it to Gahda.
「I don’t know what attracted the Demon Emperor Sword to you, but I think it’s safe to say that you began to lose whatever that was. Though you probably know that best, even without me telling you.」
「… It’s true. This one is trying to abandon me. And I know the reason well. But regardless, I must continue to fight.」
Gahda pours strength into all his limbs to stand, but Hiro tells him any further effort is pointless.
「Without the ability to draw out the powers of the Demon Emperor Sword, you can’t beat me. That’s why I want you to surrender. I won’t do anything bad to you.」
Which is a lie. According to the current flow of developments, he will be exploited after the enemy surrenders.
If he was completely blunt and said that outright, Gahda would no doubt become obstinate and put up more of a resistance.
It’s not certain whether or not he saw through the lie, but rather than nodding, Gahda replied with a scornful smile.
「Heh, then why don’t you make me? If you say you can defeat me, it should be simple, right?」
Hiro expected he would say that.
Which is why he already thought of his next move. It was to dampen Gahda’s fighting spirit.
And to do that, it was necessary to make him waver.
「You’ve been distracted by something behind you since earlier.」
Gahda maintained a straight face.
But Hiro didn’t overlook the small movement in his shoulders that lasted for just an instant.
「Could it be that there’s someone dear to you in headquarters?」
There were a number of times during the fight in which Gahda’s focus was interrupted.
Even now, with his life in danger, Gahda has his attention directed behind him.
If he kept his focus, he probably wouldn’t have ended up losing so much blood.
「Shut your mouth!」
Gahda glares, unable to hide his anger.
This was basically a confession.
Hiro reflected on that for a moment and shouted out.
「Liz! Can you stand?」
「Y-Yeah. What is it?」
「I want you to go to enemy headquarters and capture the girl who’s acting as their leader.」
As he said that, Gahda reacted to those words just as Hiro had anticipated.
「Do you think I would allow that?!」
Gahda’s fighting spirit wells up and the space around him starts to warp.
Hiro senses a fearsome flow of magic. He was assailed by a heat that made his skin feel like it was being burned to a crisp.
Hiro was slightly surprised.
This was because it was rare for a zorosta to think so dearly of someone of another race.
Fundamentally speaking, zorostas look down on anyone other than pure blooded zorostas as inferior races.
At the very least, the racism from the zorostas 1,000 years ago was striking.
Other races were slaves and the target of contempt.
They proclaimed that zorostas were supreme, and that they were the dominant race.
You could say it was that arrogance that created the union of the four other races and the ruin of the zorostas.
It’s not impossible to think that Gahda is an eccentric.
But if he holds that young girl dear, they definitely have to hurry.
「Liz, I want you to leave this to me and go.」
The rebel army headquarters is surrounded. At this rate, the young female leader’s life is in danger.
If she is Gahda’s driving force, and something were to happen to her, it’s doubtful that he would choose surrender.
In which case, the battle would end up continuing on until one side was completely destroyed.
Considering the big picture, that would not be favorable.
This is because the battle with the Lichtein Dukedom still awaits.
It’s likely that the Lichtein Dukedom has already received word that the battle here had begun.
Even with the resilient Fourth Imperial Army, they wouldn’t be able to endure an attack from the side right now.
—He has to avoid any significant loss. It would make Liz’s path to becoming empress that much more difficult.
In order to prevent that, they have to secure a victory in which even the central nobles have no room for complaint.
If it came down to it, he has another option in mind, but it’s not something she would want.
So first, he’ll have the rebel army surrender, then attack the Lichtein Dukedom.
With a concise response, Liz jumps onto her horse’s back and turns its head towards the enemy headquarters.
As Liz kicks her horse’s sides to run off…
「Do you think I’ll let you go?!」
Gahda tried to chase after her, but Hiro appeared to block his path and pointed 「Excalibur’s」 tip towards him.
「Did you think I would allow you to chase after her? You’re going to be captured here.」
「Hmph, you’ll have to cut off both my legs if you want to capture me!」
Hiro slipped to the side of Gahda who came charging. He was able to discover his driving force.
Liz should be able to successfully capture the young girl and bring her here.
「Let’s end this.」
Until they do, he wants to avoid having soldiers sustain injuries from Gahda’s resistance.
「I want you to go to sleep for just a little while.」
He approaches Gahda and drives his fist into his face. Gahda’s head goes flying back, which Hiro grabs and pulls towards him as he sinks his knee into his stomach. Then, he forced his body around and struck his heel into Gahda’s neck.
He grabs the staggered Gahda by the face and drops him down. A large cloud of dust rises up.
He swings his leg clearing the dust, then drops it into the pit of Gahda’s stomach, burying him into the desert.
Hiro gives the unconscious Gahda a sidelong glance and turns towards a nearby soldier.
「Restrain him tightly so he doesn’t escape.」
He grips「Excalibur’s」 handle tightly and attacks the rebel army members in the area who are still putting up a resistance.
「H-He’s coming this way!」
「I-I can’t believe the boss lost.」
The rebel army is trembling in fear after seeing that Gahda had lost.
「We have no choice but to run.」
「Don’t be stupid, where are you saying we should run to?!」
Some of them did try to run, but they were surrounded and were unable to do so.
「We’re not running! We’re going to save the boss!」
If they can’t run, they have no choice but to put up a fight. But with Hiro as their opponent, who they couldn’t even see, they were cut down in the blink of an eye.
Each time his sword stirred up a gust of wind, a scream could be heard as blood went flying.
Pools of blood began to build along the desert. Cries of joy could be heard as the soldiers saw their enemies sinking. By the time the corpses formed a mountain, a cry of victory could be heard from the front lines of the second battalion.
Perhaps the rebel army could sense their impending defeat, as the resistance in the area began to weaken.
Hiro stopped in his tracks and mumbled to himself.
「… It’s not over yet.」
For the most part, the outcome had been determined, but there are still those who will not accept defeat.
In order to have them throw down their weapons, they need Gahda and the young girl who is acting as their leader.
He cuts through the spaces between the rebel army who had begun to throw down their weapons and surrender and walks towards where Gahda is.
However, he was surrounded by a large number of soldiers and could not be seen.
They are standing guard so as not to have the rebel army take him back. But even so, there are too many.
Hiro weaves through the soldiers and moves to the center.
The scene which unfolded before him was pretty much what he had anticipated.
「Don’t think you can continue to exist in this world after going against humans, zorosta.」
What Hiro saw, was a soldier kicking Gahda.
Seeing as how he was wearing what looked like high quality armor, he was likely the son of a noble.
Following suit with the man, a couple of other soldiers are assaulting Gahda as well.
「If it weren’t for the forgiveness of 「Zeltius」*, you would have all been eradicated by 「Mars」.」
TL note: Kanji is “first god”.
「What an ungrateful race, for you to forget that debt and point your blade towards humans!」
His feelings were understandable.
Many of his comrades were killed by him, so it can’t be helped that he’s emotional.
If he had thought things through before taking action, Hiro might have let him off.
But to calmly take on an action that could be a hindrance to the entire army, simply as a momentary distraction, is something that absolutely could not be allowed.
「You should leave it at that.」
Brazen stares focus on Hiro as he steps forward.
The noble’s son approaches him. Being taller than Hiro, he ends up looking down on him.
「Boy, who do you think you’re talking to?」
「To you, and your followers.」
「… Do you know who I am?」
「I don’t so. Could you tell me? Are you a renown commander or something that’s leading a unit?」
「I lead the 26th squad. Daniel von Eduart.」
Based on his attitude, it can be assumed that he did not see Hiro fighting.
It’s hard to tell why he’s so belligerent to begin with. Maybe he doesn’t have the time to do any thinking.
He wanted to poke at the man’s thought process, but Hiro laughed sarcastically and spoke.
「Umm, you seem like an idiot.」
If he had witnessed Hiro’s fight, he probably wouldn’t have taken this attitude.
Actually, the faces of the soldiers in the area who did see Hiro fight stiffened as they drew back.
There’s no doubt Sir Daniel was in the rear of the second battalion.
He probably came this far out after receiving word that they had captured the zorosta.
Adding to that, his excessive mistreatment of a prisoner of war was a violation of military regulations.
「… You shitty brat, do you want to die or become a slave? Pick one.」
Good deeds must be rewarded, and bad deeds punished. He’s in high enough of a position to strictly adhere to regulations.
Considering the future, this man’s life is worth even less than that of Gahda’s.
After thinking it over, Hiro came to a conclusion— This man was not needed for his strategy.
「It’s too bad. I’m unable to offer you any choices. If you’re a squad leader, we can just replace you..」
「Didn’t you hear me? I said your life has no value.」
「What did you—?!」
The noble tried to grab Hiro, but his head left a fresh trail of blood as it went flying in mid air.
With the angry expression remaining unchanged, the head fell on the ground as the blood spread out.
「Ahh, sorry. It did have value. In dying that is.」
While everyone was left speechless, Hiro approached Gahda and stooped down.
「Are you all right?」
「It was just enough to wake me up.」
「I can’t have you die. I won’t let anyone lay a hand on you anymore. Don’t worry.」
「When I see you, I think I’d be better off with these guys.」
「Haha, I’ll take that as a compliment.」
Now— Hiro straightens up and looks around.
The soldiers who had finally regained their senses were grabbing their sword handles, ready to draw their weapons.
「Ahh, you’re better off not drawing your swords. You don’t want to commit lese majeste, now do you?」
After Hiro’s warning, a 「shiryu」 approached, intimidating the soldiers in its path.
Hiro takes a pole hanging from the 「shiryu’s」 side and thrusts it into the ground.
The wind blows, and the cloth which was wrapped around the pole unfurled under the sky.
It was a coat of arms which a certain man raised in the past.
Now, it is simply a thing of legends and can only been seen in the world of art.
That is how sacred it is to the people of the Grantz Grand Empire.
—A crest of black soil and a dragon holding a silver sword.
It was that which 「Mars」, the Second Emperor and one of the Twelve Great Gods of Grantz, carried.
Everyone looks at it wide eyed.
As if seeing a legendary creature, they simple look back and forth between the flag and Hiro with mouths agape, unable to make a sound.
Silence envelops the area. The one who broke that silence was the zorosta, Gahda.
「Hahahahahahaha, it all makes sense now!」
Hiro looks at Gahda surprised after he suddenly began to laugh.
Gahda let out a roar towards the sky.
「So you used me! Are you telling me I was kept alive just for this?! Is this what you wanted?!」
「Get out of here,」 Gahda finished.
It was at that moment that the Demon Emperor Sword was wrapped in light and started to dissolve into thin air.
It was only for a moment that Gahda’s face twisted in regret. But almost immediately, as if he had come to some sort of realization, he wore an exhausted smile.
「… How faithful of you.」
Hiro realizes from his expression. The Demon Emperor Sword had abandoned Gahda.
「Now, you’re a regular zorosta. But you still possess a magic stone, so you’re probably plenty strong.」
「Are you satisfied?」
「I wonder. Either way would’ve been fine with me.」
Even if Gahda is abandoned by the Demon Emperor Sword, it’s no hindrance to his future plans.
Then, Hiro looked around at the soldiers. They looks suspiciously at Hiro.
It feels as if they’re at a complete loss as to what they should do. But having said that, it would be troublesome for them to stay this way forever.
After sighing, Hiro addressed the soldiers.
「My name is Hiro Schwarz von Grantz. I am a descendant of 「Mars」, the Second Emperor. I have become a member of the Imperial family as the Fourth Imperial Prince.」
Hiro’s voice was neither loud nor soft.
「As a member of the Imperial family, I can not overlook any offenses. Earlier, Sir Daniel showed excessive mistreatment towards a prisoner of war, for which I bestowed punishment. If there are any that are dissatisfied, can you please step forward?」
He didn’t try to sound welcoming on purpose, but there was a power in his voice which made those who hear it listen to him.
「None, right? Then capture those two.」
Hiro pointed at the two who were acting violently towards Gahda along with Sir Daniel.
The faces of the two soldier stiffened as they drew back, but other soldiers who heard Hiro’s orders immediately restrained them.
「What did we do wrong? The zorosta killed our comrades! Don’t you guys hate him, too?!」
Since he punished Sir Daniel, he couldn’t possibly treat them as innocent.
Not only would that affect morale, it would confuse the soldiers and cause them to be disgruntled.
He must punish these two accordingly as well.
「Take them to the rear. And the rest of you, send word to each unit. Make sure they don’t use excessive mistreatment towards those who surrender.」
After saluting, the soldiers began to disperse.
As he watched the soldiers moving quickly, Hiro stooped down next to Gahda.
「The young girl that’s so important to you should be brought here soon.」
「If there’s so much as a scratch on her, I’ll kill you.」
「… Is she that important to you?」
「We have a little bit of time. Can’t you tell me why?」
Gahda showed a bit of hesitation towards Hiro’s words, but he opened his mouth and said…
「… There are many small inconveniences for a zorosta to lead humans. So I used her. She went along with me, despite my selfishness. I wanted to at least send her home safely, but look at me. I can’t even do that.」
「Then I have a proposal.」
「Right. If you listen to my orders, I’ll safely send her home.」
Hiro continues speaking to the zorosta who has his face down to the ground.
「I don’t think it’s a bad deal. Having lost your Demon Emperor Sword, it would be difficult for you to save the girl and escape from the battlefield. I don’t believe you to be so foolish as to take such thoughtless actions.」
「If what you say is true, how do you plan to prove it? There’s no proof that you’ll safely send her off.」
「I swear it on the spirit king.」
「Think about it carefully. There’s still time.」
After saying that, Hiro stood up. Gahda’s face was still pointed downward as he was deep in thought.
Hiro looked south and saw a horse running towards him at full speed.
It was Liz’s horse. And riding in front of her, was a small young girl.
Hiro waves his coat of arms to show his location.
Around that area were members of the rebel army who had surrendered. They were on their knees with their hands behind their backs.
Liz dropped her horse’s speed, then pulled the reins and stopped in front of Hiro.
「I brought the girl.」
「Yeah, thanks. And she is…?」
「I’m Milieu of the slave liberation army.」
Replied the young girl, whose body was wrapped in a black robe.
Hiro approached the young girl and looked at her face. At that moment, he was hit by a feeling of deja vu.
But he couldn’t have met this girl before…
After he shook his head to dispel the strange feeling, he took Milieu off the horse.
Milieu immediately runs over to Gahda.
「Sorry. Because I wasn’t strong enough…」
「No, I’m glad you’re okay.」
「Are you hurt?」
「No, big sis protected me.」
Hiro looked at Liz with the other two still in his peripherals.
「Before I tell you what’s going to happen now, can you tell me how the front lines look like?」
「By the time I reached enemy headquarters, their main unit was all that was left.」
「Just the main unit?」
「Yeah, it looks like the rear guard withdrew as soon as the battle began.」
Hiro put a hand to his chin and fell silent.
Liz tilts her head confused, but she continues her explanation.
「It looked like a number of units from their headquarters escaped right away, too. That’s why there was little resistance and I was able to capture Milieu so easily.」
「Did you hear which way they ran?」
「I heard it was to the east.」
「Got it. Thanks.」
After thanking her, he looks to the east. The rear guard ran away in the direction of Fort Azba.
There is a gentle slope and he’s unable to see beyond it.
Hiro turned back to Gahda and opened his mouth to speak.
「Gahda, was the rear guard made up of mercenaries?」
「It was. With just a few slave infantrymen attached to them.」
It’s decided. It’s pretty much certain that the rear guard was bought off by the Lichtein Dukedom.
This isn’t the time to think about when and where.
It’s a fact that the rear guard has disappeared, so they need a countermeasure.
「Liz, tell me how many men you’re leading right now.」
「Two thousand, the right flank.」
「Did you leave Tris in command?」
「Yeah, that’s right.」
「You there, come here.」
He called out to two soldiers atop horses.
「Yes? Your orders?」
「I want you to go to the right flank and deliver a message to Sir Tris for me. Tell him to deploy a unit to the east. He’ll understand if you tell him they’re orders from her Highness Celia Estreya. Go right away.」
「And you, I want you to go to headquarters and deliver a message to General Kielo. Tell him that the Lichtein Dukedom has appeared in the east, so I want him to send the reserve unit there. You can tell him these are orders from the Fourth Imperial Prince.」
Then Hiro spoke up again as if he just remembered something.
「If he’s reluctant, tell him he’ll be dismissed for the crime of treason against the nation.」
After watching the soldiers run off, he jumped onto the 「shiryu」 and grabbed his flag.
「Liz, you hurry and regroup with Tris. Take command of the right flank.」
「What are you going to do, Hiro?」
「Well, the enemy’s going to charge, so I’m going to go take the wind out of their sails. I think I can buy a little bit of time at least.」
「What should Milieu and I do?」
Said Gahda, as he cut into the conversation.
「Milieu will stay with Liz, and you can follow behind them on a camel.」
Hiro took out his silver sword and cut the ropes which were keeping Gahda bound.
「Is it okay to free me? I might kill that little girl and run away.」
「Now that you’ve lost the Demon Emperor Sword, you can’t win against Liz. I said it earlier too, but it’s impossible for you to take Milieu and escape from here.」
And if he left him here, there’s no telling what might happen.
It would be a problem if he escaped, but it would also be a problem if he were killed. This is his only option.
Besides, Hiro doesn’t think Gahda will run.
This is because of Milieu. If he leaves her with Liz, even Gahda can’t make any careless moves. He’ll probably follow them quietly.
「Okay, I’m off.」
At the top of the gentle slope, a large cloud of dust could be seen rising into the air on the other side.
Hiro’s expression stiffened as he kicked the sides of the 「shiryu」 and ran across the sandy plain.