Editor: Areth Kyntaul
This must be the most awkward trip ever.
It was the first time I felt what ‘can’t sit still’ meant.
We were in the horse-carriage the entire time with those soldiers’ weapons. They had taken the carriage back, now, so we didn’t have it to stay in any longer. We can’t stay in the supply carriage. That was the only one left behind after all. Veirya’s escorts were horribly stingy.
Veirya sent all the guards away, leaving just one horse-carriage and two horses. The only ones left were her, Leah and I.
There was a coachman, too, but he was an old man. He was basically the same as a corpse.
I rode on the other horse. Fortunately for me, I had learnt to ride a horse in the past. I once had a superior who enjoyed horse riding, so I invested in it.
Leah sat in front of me. Veirya, who was to our left sat up straight as she rode forward, but she kept looking at us and then away. If you were to describe Leah as being scared before, she must hate her even more after last night.
I feel like it’s become more trouble than it was before.
Last night, Veirya asked me to help her to get friendly with Leah, but I don’t know how to do that. I don’t believe that the severe trauma Veirya gave Leah is something that can be solved with love or peace. I don’t think any child could accept seeing her parents killed in front of her eyes and then being hunted down. I don’t think a kid can accept “to each his own master” as a reason. Thinking about it now, I don’t have the foggiest idea as to how Veirya can earn Leah’s forgiveness.
There’s definitely a way to resolve a conflict between adults, but it’s relatively troublesome with children. I have confidence in my negotiation skills to get an adult to give up their resentment; they’d be able to shake hands and get along, even if it was a three-generation feud, as long as gains are to be made. The key is how to get them to accept the potential gains they can make.
But what was there for Veirya and Leah to gain? Nothing to speak of. If these two want to make peace, it’s an emotional problem, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, I’ve never been good with emotional problems. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been single all my life…
I can provide them with an opportunity to be near each other, but I think I may very well have a murder case on my hands if I leave the two of them alone together…
Veirya did express her desire to get along with Leah, but it was not as if she was not angry. As for what Veirya could do when she gets angry… I don’t even need to tell you…
Therefore, I need to control the two of them…
Though Veirya wants to be on friendly terms with Leah, she hasn’t said anything to Leah. Leah, also, watches Veirya vigilantly from my arms as though she was afraid that Veirya would run over and stab me.
Veirya didn’t put any stipulations in place for me. Although I was spoils of war for Veirya, she didn’t seem to remember that or something, as she allowed me to ride on a horse next to her.
She wants to be friendly with Leah and yet neither of them speaks to the other… How are you going to make friends with her like this…?
We went straight forward and we finally saw traces of buildings constructed by humans from an obviously warmer climate area. Both sides were no longer wastelands. The blocks of land we passed had been opened up for farming. The houses on both sides must’ve been for those watching over the land.
The surrounding road became more visible, too. No longer was it two wheel-tracks from a horse carriage in between wastelands on both sides. We were now travelling on a simple stone paved road.
We followed the road forward and soon saw simple stone city walls. The stone walls were, honestly, extremely simple. They were basically square stones stacked up. They were fixed into place by clay in between the stones.
Since it was winter now, they supposedly used ice to fortify the walls as well. However, it still looked visibly askew. It was weak and wobbly, as if it could collapse with a push, despite that.
At the end of the road were two folding timber gates that were shut tightly. But I could see what the city looked like behind the damaged, rotting gates.
I don’t think it can be called a city, at that size. At best it’s a town. The town didn’t even have a plaque with its name. I don’t know what on Earth this town is called, either. It looks like it wasn’t under the kingdom’s jurisdiction, previously. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be without even a plaque.
But even if it wasn’t in the past, if Veirya was able to choose to come here then it means that this town has already been integrated into the kingdom’s territories. Why isn’t Veirya getting a single welcome upon coming here? Even if this town was more run down, if a new secretary or town-chief came, then there must be someone who comes to receive them.
We stood at the entrance of the town.
Veirya frowned and shouted toward the interior of the city, “I am the new lord sent here by Queen Sisi of the Tarahinur Kingdom. Open the town gates and let me in now!”
As soon as she finished speaking, two heads popped out from the top of the city walls. They wore the helmets of the army, so I let out a sigh of relief. I thought this town was displeased with the ‘whatever’ kingdom and planned to rule autonomously, but it looks like I was wrong. Maybe they just didn’t receive news because of poor communication…
But before I could finish my sigh, the two of them raised their bows up and fired their arrows at us. I was pushed off my horse before I realised it and hit the ground with a heavy thud. I landed on my back and found everything in front of me dark, as well as feeling like I was going to vomit blood.
Leah, being in front of me, landed on top of me, using me as a flesh-cushion, so she looked fine. I struggled to hold Leah and sat up. I saw Veirya draw her sword and glare at the soldiers at the top coldly. Their arrows had hit my horse’s head, causing it to drop to the ground with a large volume of blood coming out from it.
The two soldiers quickly went to arm themselves with their swords, but Veirya didn’t give them the chance to. She drew two small daggers from her belt and threw them at the soldiers.
I heard their wails before they died and the sound of their corpses hitting the ground. One corpse landed right in front of us.
Veirya kicked the corpse away. She then looked at the timber gate in front before looking at me and telling me, “You two hide. I’m going to kill the people inside.”
I hugged Leah, whose soul was shocked out of her body. I quickly got up, looked at Veirya in front of me and asked, “Even the citizens?”
This isn’t an army camp. This is a town.
If a battle broke out here, the innocent citizens inside the town would get caught up in it.
‘According to Veirya, an armed rebellion has broken out here. The citizens inside are either supporters of the rebellion or are being held as hostages. If Veirya goes in, I don’t think she’ll kill just the rebel soldiers.’
Veirya calmly replied, “Of course. Those who support the rebellion will be killed with no mercy. Everyone in this town must die.”
“But they can’t help it! The rebellion has nothing to do with them, right?!”
Veirya looked at me and sternly answered, “Everyone has a chance to choose. They chose not to resist. They could choose to fight back. They could choose to give up everything for Her Majesty, but they didn’t choose to do that, because they are weak. They don’t believe that Her Majesty will protect them or rescue them so I have no need to protect them as Her Majesty’s knight. They didn’t exhibit the loyalty Her Majesty’s citizen should, so they deserve to die, too.”
I suddenly realised that Veirya was right, too…
‘Get outta here! If the citizens could be so fearless of death and follow such a just course of action, there wouldn’t be these rebelling soldiers. Of course the citizens, who don’t have the power to protect themselves, require the protection of the army. What else would the army exist for?! The people only need to protect themselves in times of chaos. It’s the army’s job to handle the fighting! The citizens don’t have to fight a life-and-death battle with the enemies if they occupy the area. They just need the army to come and assist. Put another way, what would we need knights like Veirya for if the people could solve all these problems?!’
But it’s not the time to be debating this with Veirya at the moment. Veirya had already headed over. She kicked the wooden gate open.
I don’t have a clue how she’s so strong. Or maybe the town’s gates were already breaking down. She booted the gate open and after a loud bang, plus dust blown behind, over a dozen armed soldiers came into sight.
They watched Veirya before them. Unexpectedly, the soldiers didn’t show a very strong will to fight. Rather, they were afraid of Veirya, who slew the Demon King.
Their armour and clothes were in poor condition. Their uniform that carried honour was already torn and tattered. Their army badge had been removed. Their gazes were void of a will to fight. As a matter of fact, their eyes were filled with terror as they looked at Veirya.
One could even say they had a despairing look as if they knew they were going to die in their eyes.
Killing them wasn’t hard for Veirya. Veirya was a knight capable of slaughtering her way into the Demon King’s city and then slaying both the Demon King and his wife. Further, she was evidently more eager to fight.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they fled after Veirya killed one. I think it’s better to describe them as deserters rather than rebels.
“Don’t come here!! Listen up, we have men who locked up all the citizens in a building. If something happens to us, we’ll kill all of them! Stay back!!”
“Well thank you then. I was planning to kill everyone here, anyway.”
Veirya’s footsteps didn’t slow down. She instead walked to them more resolutely.
Veirya was serious. She didn’t care about the townsfolk’s lives. In fact, she couldn’t ask for anything more than to let them accompany these soldiers to the other world.
‘What meaning would there be to this? Are we three just going to starve here?!’
I called out loudly to Veirya who was advancing, “Veirya!!”
She turned around to look at me surprised. It was the first time she wore a slightly angry expression. She pointed toward the exterior of the city and shouted, “Didn’t I tell you two to hide outside?! What right does a servant have to speak?!”
Alright, so now I have to figure out how to get Veirya to back down.
Veirya won’t say much to me, and the enemies won’t wait forever. I only have about the time of a sentence. I need to convince Veirya to forego her idea in one sentence.
‘Veirya’s proposal is to kill the rebels and townsfolk here.’
‘My proposal is to not kill the townsfolk.’
‘So our contradiction is whether or not to kill the townsfolk.’
‘What condition must I use to convince Veirya to give up her proposal? Or otherwise, what sort of threat must I use to force Veirya to give up her proposal? I don’t have any condition I can mention as I indeed don’t have anything on hand that could make Veirya interested. So the only way I can make her give up her proposal is to threaten her, then. What could make Veirya scared?’
‘Veirya is someone who’s always loyal as can be. Queen Sisi’s order is everything to her. Did Queen Sisi order her to come here to kill people? I can guarantee not. Queen Sisi had her come here to manage the place. Without people, what will she rely on to manage this place?’
‘Let’s give it a try!’
“Do you still remember the order Queen Sisi gave you?!”
“She wanted me to manage this region, so; I must kill these rebels!”
“How are you going to manage this place if you kill all the townsfolk?!”
Veirya shuddered, and I knew that I had succeeded. Winning a so-called negotiation against Veirya is easy. She looked at me stunned and then looked at the soldiers before her without knowing what to do.
I looked at her and then gently placed Leah down.
Leah panicked and looked at me.
I looked at Leah and gave her a kiss on her cheek.
I then turned to walk toward the group of soldiers.
I said to Veirya, “Leave it to me if you can trust me.”
Rebel armies are very tough to deal with, however; deserters are easy to deal with. Deserters are afraid of death in the first place. They just don’t want to get arrested and brought back to be executed.
I don’t need to prepare any conditions for this negotiation. I just need to promise they get to keep their lives. So…
The question is; who can provide them with a way out?
Answer; the lord of the region.
Who’s the lord of the region then?
Answer; The woman behind me is the lord of the region.
“Wh-What do you want…?”
The deserter in front of me looked at me fearfully and at a loss for what to do. They were armed with sabres and swords, but I wasn’t scared of them at all this time. The hands holding their blades quivered. Even their blades themselves were shaking.
I’ve had Veirya rest a long-sword on my neck. I managed to get through that even with her absurdly heavy killing intent at that time. I have confidence that I won’t be scared no matter who rests another sword on my neck.
“I came to talk to you.”
I looked at the deserter in front of me with a smile and raised my hands up.
They were armed, but I knew that I was the one with the upper-hand this time!
I wasn’t doing this purely for the sake of protecting the townsfolk. More importantly, I didn’t want Veirya to kill all the townsfolk and then for the three of us to starve to death here!