110. Undecided (8)
The Orc General’s pupils grew wide. His gaze turned to the human, and his eyes reflected the man’s incoming sword. The man jumped up and stabbed his sword into the General’s armor, splitting it into pieces. Blood poured out from between the cracks. The Orc General, however, just gritted his teeth and glared at his enemy.
He was a young man in his early 20s, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He smiled as he pulled out his sword from the Orc General’s body.
Like a kite cut from its string, the Orc General dropped out of the air, his body pinned to the ground by the man’s sword. The sudden turn of events made the charging Orcs stop in their tracks. Pygni, who had been frozen in panic, grabbed his horse’s reins and looked frustrated, his back drenched in a cold sweat.
A few moments later, Pygni realized that he had stopped breathing and quickly took a deep breath. His heart was pounding explosively, as though it would burst out of his chest. The fear of death had finally descended upon him.
“U-Uwah…! I was scared stiff! I thought I was going to visit the River Styx for needlessly taunting him!”
Pygni wiped off the sweat from his brow and turned to his personal guard.
“Ey, isn’t this a bit too much? I almost died!”
“…That’s what we want to say.”
Even the knights were caught off guard. Who could have thought that the Orc would throw his weapon? The knights considered their swords as their companions, so they would never let such a thing happen. Still, if that attack had been allowed to land, Pygni would have either died or received a critical injury. Then, all the blame would be passed onto the knights.
Pygni’s mouth was so dry that he fidgeted with his tongue, trying to find some moisture.
‘I thought my heart was going to fall out! I trusted Lome’s knights more than anything, but to think I’d be struck blind like this! I shouldn’t be so obnoxious next time.’
There were many that had charged toward Pygni, the Chief Commander and the King of Lome, aiming for his head. If they managed to kill him, it would turn over their precarious position on the battlefield. However, it was mostly frenzied people who rushed at him, disregarding any strategy, and it was all too easy to overcome them through taunting. Pygni was aware of this, so he chose a similar method, but…
‘I shouldn’t use this tactic against demons. These bastards have no sense! Also, if Oskal isn’t here, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I should just hunker down!’
While having a moment of reflection, Pygni turned to look at the one who had saved him. He was a youth in his early 20s. With blonde hair and blue eyes, he was a wielder of a Holy Sword, wearing plate mail that emphasized movement over defense. He was a Hero that had been dispatched by the Holy Kingdom not long ago.
‘His name was…’
The Hero called Peter rose from his place and smiled while looking at Pygni.
“That’s right, Your Highness!”
Peter must have felt good having his name remembered by royalty for him to shout so loudly. Pygni glanced at the naive Hero and clicked his tongue.
‘He’s one of the Hero Candidates from last year, along with Ludin…?’
Unlike Ludin, whose background was a fallen noble, Peter was a commoner from the distant countryside and had become a Hero Candidate after working as a mercenary. He had previously been pushed out from the formation of the Hero’s Allied Forces due to his commoner status.
‘From what I’ve heard, he’s only slightly less powerful than Hero Ludin…? But it’s rumored that Ludin broke through all the Apostles and held his blade against the Demon Lord’s neck… This Peter person should be capable as well.
‘However, why are such figures coming out of the Holy Kingdom? They aren’t mass-produced, but rather, trained naturally. Is it truly a land blessed by God…? No, before that, why are such skilled men gathering so mindlessly toward the Holy Kingdom? Could it be that Lome lacks resources? Or is it that they just don’t want to come!?’
Pygni groaned as he continued to grumble to himself.
“Ngh… In any case, thank you.”
“…? It’s okay. It’s only natural I do something!”
Peter looked awkward at first. However, he soon regained his composure and appeared happy upon hearing Peter’s words of gratitude, nodding in approval.
“He…ro? I see. If only you were dead…”
Peter turned his gaze downwards. In an instant, his head was in the fallen Orc’s grasp. He thrashed wildly and tried to break the Orc’s grip, feeling it growing tighter and tighter.
“Lome Kingdom’s strength will fall! Die! Hero! For Her Majesty, the Demon Lord-!”
The Orc General put more strength into his hand with bloodshot eyes. Suddenly, his hand was pierced by an arrow, allowing Peter to escape.
The Orc General’s gaze turned to the side.
An archer wearing leather armor and a hood was nocking his next arrow on his great bow.
“Peter, you can’t let your guard down so much.”
The archer named Luis turned his gaze.
“Now, mister. I’m going to be stepping up as well.”
At that moment, a female magician wearing a hood walked up to the scene. She placed her hand at the head of her staff and began to chant a spell. As mana began to gather, a massive ball of fire formed nearby.
The massive fireball descended upon the Orc formation, wreaking havoc everywhere. The Orcs were burned away in the flame while screaming painfully. Their armors melted, their flesh was seared, and even their bones turned to ash. Looking at this, the Orc General turned his rage-filled gaze toward the female mage.
“You bitch-! You dare…to my kin…!”
“Sad? You’re sad that your companions died, right?” The female mage stared down the Orc General and walked forward. “But, the pain of losing someone precious to you is greater.”
She shoved the staff in her hand into the Orc’s mouth. Peter looked shocked at her actions and decided to step in.
“S-stop! Stop it already! This Orc bastard, he no longer has the strength to resist! Just what are you…!”
Peter tried to stop her by grabbing her staff, but she spat out a single word, “Die.”
Flames burst out from the Orc General’s head like fireworks. His body was burned away, and Peter hastily retreated. The archer, Luis, simply shrugged his shoulders helplessly while shaking his head.
“A woman with a grudge is scary!”
Peter looked awkward at his words.
“The General has…!”
The surviving Orcs were left dazed and confused. With their enemy’s formation and morale in disarray, the knights took the momentum, their morale soaring.
“It’s time! Die!”
“Kill the Orcs-!”
The knights charged at the Orcs. Without a leader, the only thing the Orcs could do was retreat. The sound of clashing weapons rang out once more, along with the Orcs’ miserable screams.
Time passed. The City of Twilight crumbled due to that single event. They lost their bearings once the Orc General was killed. Unable to organize another solid defensive line, the Orcs were swiftly suppressed. They were either killed or captured as prisoners.
Peter looked at the dead General with sympathetic eyes before turning his head away. The female mage was glaring at the captured Orcs with a frosty gaze.
“You aren’t going to kill them?”
Pygni nodded as though it was obvious.
“They are going to be used in negotiations, so we can’t kill them haphazardly. Also, I’m not some perverted murderer that takes joy in killing prisoners.”
His tone and words seemed to say that he didn’t particularly fancy the female magician. Of course, he didn’t like her actions a moment ago. Someone like an Orc General would have been a great bargaining chip, after all.
The female magician wasn’t pleased by Pygni, either. She covered her face with the robe and bit down her lower lip.
“…Understood. When are we starting the subjugation of the Demon Lord?”
“Demon Lord subjugation? Are you in that much of a rush? Well, that’s fine with me, but this isn’t a subjugation. This is a kidnapping. And, that part…we’re doing it now.”
Hearing his reply, Peter and Luis, who was approaching them, looked surprised at Pygni.
Pygni turned to them and replied, “My mistake. I don’t mean right away, but today, the next day, and the days to come! However, I wish you’d take a rest for a few hours before setting out. Of course, I know that you’re all travel-worn, but in my position, I wish to rely on you in leading this war to victory.”
Peter smiled, looking satisfied at Pygni’s compliment.
“We’ve ended this without any casualties on our side, and this is the only method to win against our opponent. In order to make quick negotiations, we need to hold the Demon Lord hostage. “Also, this incident will pull out some of the demon’s soldiers. In hopes of taking back this city, that is. We’ll draw their attention while you all cross the mountains to reach the demon capital… Infiltrate the Demon Lord’s castle and take her hostage. That is my strategy. So…” Pygni narrowed his eyes. “Prepare to set out immediately. Tonight, please leave this place and head to the capital.”
The female magician’s voice grew louder, as though she was waiting for this answer. Peter and Luis, however, were in opposition to her. Peter appreciated Pygni’s compliments, but obviously, they were exhausted from an overbearing march.
Peter spoke to the female mage to voice his concerns, “Um… Isn’t it a bit too much?”
“No, it’s not. Wasn’t it you who wished to quickly capture the Demon Lord and gain fame?”
“T-that is true, but…” Peter nodded in shock.
The female mage placed her hand upon his chest and moved her mouth near his face. Her voice and breath crawled into his ear as she whispered,
“Then… help me.”
Peter’s face grew red, and he nodded to hide his awkwardness.
With Peter’s agreement, she passed by him. Peter stared at the female mage, mesmerized, while Luis just scratched his head. He was clearly displeased and kicked Peter’s butt in annoyance.
“…You, still acting naive! Don’t just agree because a girl is asking you.”
“Asking me? This is what we’re supposed to do!”
“Yes, it’s what we’re supposed to do, but you just now…” Luis frowned and muttered while looking at the female magician’s back. “We’re moving in accordance with Aris’s request. Regardless of whether you’ve fallen for her, this is stupid.
“Do you even know why Aris participated in this Demon Lord Subjugation? She’s…a survivor of the Former Hero’s Allied Force and the lover of the former Hero, Ludin. The reason she’s participating in this war is also…”
“I know! I know…!” Peter nodded and cut him off. “She must want revenge, but I only want to help her.”
“…Ah, I can’t take it anymore.” Luis frowned deeply. He glared at Peter and the distant female Mage, Aris.
Aris, one of the party members of the former Hero’s Allied Force led by Ludin, was dispatched by the Holy Kingdom. However, she was also Ludin’s lover, and she had participated in the Kingdom of Lome’s war for her revenge.
The newly dispatched Hero Peter, who was following her around like a dog, had been an innocent youth trying to make something of himself through reputation. He was smitten with her at first glance, dancing at her whims. He was indeed a naive Hero.
‘…Well, I was also quite the famous mercenary. I came here hoping to gain some reputation to revive a fallen family, but…’ Luis thought of the current party formation and sighed. ‘With this party, it won’t be enough even with 10 lives.’
It was truly a headache of a party.
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