Alas, busy times are busy. But finally, my test hell is over for now, so I finally was able to TL again! Now on to the next test hell! OTL
Maa, depressing news aside, I’m glad we managed to finish this chapter this week! That said, sometimes I really hate this author’s wording! It’s so hard to decipher!
On that note, please enjoy the chapter!
Kiriko: Translator + Editor
XCrossJ: Translator + Editor
Chapter 3: Encounter
Dios scratched his head, pointing at the map lying on the long table before opening his mouth.
“There are two roads leading to Belk Fortress. The road heading directly south, I’m sure, is okay to think of as definitely being a trap. Assassins, army corps, thieves, and bandits are there aplenty. The other path is to the east, running through a mountain within the Grauzarm mountain range. All that’s left after crossing through Mount Himmel, right next to the small country of Baum, is to enter Margrave Grinda’s territory.”
“We’ve also got cavalry. We can’t possibly cross over Mount Himmel.”
“Even if we choose to go south, we won’t be able to escape annihilation. That being the case, in order to increase the chances of saving at least a few more lives, we have no choice but to climb Mount Himmel.”
Tris, who was at Dios’s side, also nodded.
“Let’s split into two groups. As would be expected, there’s no way that all the soldiers can go via Mount Himmel. Because a diversion is necessary after all. Dios, take 50 infantrymen and lead them towards Belk Fortress. If you meet enemies along the way, abandon the wagon and do everything you can to get help from Margrave Grinda. Is that acceptable, Hime-sama?”
Liz had a disagreeable expression, but after a while, she gave a small nod.
“What’re you gonna do, Ossan?”
“I’ll cross the mountain with Hime-sama.”
“You’re already pretty old, so you shouldn’t overdo it….”
“Hmph, I still won’t lose to some greenhorn.”
“That so? Lately, your arms have been getting thinner.”
“What!? Is that true!?”
With Liz’s joke, the Operations Command Room became just a little bit more cheerful.
After being served a luxurious meal, a satisfied Hiro, having eaten his fill, sat down on his bed.
Like Liz said, he was received as a guest.
They hadn’t questioned him, but in front of his door stood a soldier on lookout.
Though the other side had one-sidedly raised their guard against him, to Hiro, this was a world that he knew absolutely nothing about.
He wouldn’t wander around recklessly. So he could tell them that what they were doing was completely pointless.
But if Hiro were to say that, it was possible that they’d end up treating him even more cautiously. If that were the only thing to happen, then it’d be fine, but there was a possibility that Hiro could end up in a more dangerous position.
Which was why he was sitting so obediently like this, thinking about what he should do from now on.
However, just as he was getting sleepy, having yet to come up with a good idea, the door suddenly opened as someone entered crassly.
—it was Liz.
“Sorry. A kind of urgent matter came up……”
“We need to change locations, and it turns out that we’ll be departing tonight.”
“……in other words?”
“We’ll have to return this place to the 1st Imperial Army, so Hiro won’t be able to stay here anymore.”
In an unknown land, he’d be thrown out into a place where he didn’t even know left from right.
Furthermore, in the middle of the night. There likely wasn’t anything scarier than this.
Though he wanted to think about what to do from hereon out, Liz began to make a rather impatient face.
There probably wasn’t any time to think.
Therefore……Hiro made his decision.
“Is it alright if I follow you?”
“Is that……a no?”
“You can but……it’ll be a pretty harsh journey. If it goes badly, you could die. Even so, do you still want to?”
“I don’t mind. Either way, if I’m thrown out alone in the middle of the night, I’ll probably wind up dead.”
“We wouldn’t leave you completely out to dry, you know. If it’s just a little, then we could lend you some money, and even for food……”
“I owe you a meal after all. There’s a possibility that I could backstab you, but……if there’s no problem with me following along, I’ll go with you.”
“Hiro, you’re a pretty strange guy.”
“Guess so. I get that a lot.”
—though it’s usually only Fukutarou saying so.
Upon exiting into the fortress’s central plaza, we found bonfires casting light onto the surroundings.
The full moon peeked out from behind the clouds, overlooking the area.
I followed behind Liz, and when we arrived in front of the fortress’s main gate, Cerberus came running up to Liz.
A large number of soldiers remained on standby next to the entrance.
Next to the vanguard, Dios, stood a man in his early 40s, muscles flourishing all over his body.
This man handed Liz a horse with chestnut hair.
“Tris, thanks for the hard work.”
Extending her gratitude, Liz mounted the horse without delay.
Instantly, a roar of cheers erupted from behind her.
Turning around in surprise, Hiro saw that, before he had realized it, a large crowd of fort soldiers had gathered to send them off.
“Please take care, Celia・Estrea-sama!”
“Grantz Grand Empire, banzai!”
“May you be blessed by the Spirit King!”
“May you be blessed by the 12 Grantz Gods!”
Smiling, Liz returned a grandiose wave.
As the light of the full moon shone down upon her, the young girl’s charm grew exponentially, making her figure appear as beautiful as a fairy.
In this face of this, the cheers flared up once more.
So as to ensure that he did not stray too far away, Hiro followed after Liz’s horse.
“Once we can’t see the fort……we’ll be splitting up into two groups. Make sure you follow so we don’t get separated.”
Liz’s voice rang out from above.
After walking in silence for about two hours, one could see the fort disappearing behind them, shrouded by darkness.
The first one to take action was Liz.
Jumping off of her horse, she turned towards Tris and shouted.
“Tris! You better guide everyone properly!”
“Hime-sama’s the one that I’m worried won’t be able to keep up with this old man!”
Tris dashed ahead of Liz.
“Let’s go, Hiro!”
Liz grabbed Hiro’s left hand, forcefully dragging him along.
Behind them were soldiers who broke out of their ranks, as well as the split-off soldiers who continued to advance without incident.
Worries such as, ‘exactly how far do I have to run?’ and, ‘will my body be able to keep up?’, naturally began to fill Hiro’s head.
Looking to his side, a sprinting Cerberus could be seen wearing a cool, calm face.
—as expected of a wolf. A little bit is fine, so would it kill you to give me some of that stamina……
As Hiro’s limit grew near, Liz began to walk.
Hiro repeatedly sucked in air with wild, ragged gasps. On the other hand, though drops of sweat glimmered on her forehead, her breathing was not disturbed at all.
“Are you ok?”
“I-I’m, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure? Tell me if it’s too hard, ok? If it’s only for a little bit, we can take a break……”
“That’s no good, Hime-sama. If you spoil boys, they will unavoidably become weak. Those who strive to become men are the type who grow from being thrown off of a cliff.”
Though Hiro wanted to interject(2), seeing how his mouth was dominated by oxygen, his wish to do so was left unfulfilled.
As if ridiculing Hiro, Cerberus ran around merrily.
“Hiro is still a kid. If you were to throw him off a cliff, he would die.”
“Mm? Is that brat not 16 years old? I heard this from Dios, but……”
“But his appearance is childish, right? We need to treat him gently.”
“Mm? Certainly, his appearance is quite young……but 16……furthermore, a child? Hmm, I’m not too sure.”
Turning his gaze away from Tris, who began to laugh uproariously, Hiro looked behind him.
He could see the large number of soldiers who had followed them.
Whilst wearing heavy armour, it appeared that their breathing was not disturbed, nor had any of them fallen behind.
Even the senior, Tris, had yet to break a sweat.
—this old man’s definitely a monster.
“Were there any that withdrew?”
“We don’t have such weaklings.”
“I see, thank goodness……”
“Right now things are going alright. It should be possible to start walking into the mountains by sunrise. Looks like it’ll end without anyone catching a glimpse of us.”
“I wonder if everything’s alright on Dios’s end?”
“There’s no need to worry. Because he’s strong.”
After walking for a while, the sky began to brighten, exposing a large mountain before them.
As always, Hiro’s hand was being gripped by Liz.
Whether he had gotten used to it……or had forgotten about it, Hiro was no longer as embarrassed about it compared to when he had first held her hand.
As soon as they had stepped into the mountain’s entrance, Liz brought her face close to Hiro’s.
Hiro’s face turned red as he waited for Liz to speak. This alone was something that he couldn’t get used to.
“Once we cross over this mountain, we’ll reach the Country of Baum. It’s pretty peaceful, and there’s a beautiful town overflowing with nature. Though there’s not enough time right now, so we won’t be able to visit it.”
I really wanted to show him around–Liz muttered in a disappointed manner as Tris spoke up.
“Hasn’t your Onii-sama’s reach extended to the Country of Baum?”
“There’s no need to worry about that……or so I would like to say, but I can’t be so sure of that. It’s still possible that they’ve seen through our strategy.”
Tris made a difficult face before opening his mouth once again.
“Additionally, this time I didn’t give Baum any prior warning, so to avoid giving the country any unnecessary stimuli, we should head to Margrave Grinda’s territory as fast as possible.”
“……that’s true. Our group is about the size of a squadron, so I feel like we’ll be exposed rather quickly though.”
“Even if we’re noticed, they can’t do anything against the Empire. Though they’ll probably be swearing at us under their breath.”
“It feels like we’re taking advantage of their weakness. Can’t help but feel a bit guilty.”
“Once things calm down a bit at Margrave Grinda’s territory, there shouldn’t be any problems so long as we send a letter of apology.”
“Either way, it’ll still become a story of our impoliteness.”
As he listened to the two’s conversation, Hiro scaled the gentle hill road.
Though he had heard that it’d be a hard journey, in reality, it was a mountain that was extremely suitable for a picnic.
Along the roadside, numerous flowers bloomed, and cute animals could occasionally be seen.
“You look like you’re having a lot of fun, Hiro.”
“Yeah. Because I heard it’d be rough, I had prepared myself, but……it’s a nice mountain. Feels like the perfect place to have an afternoon nap.”
“Fufu, I agree. This Mount Himmel is the easiest mountain to climb amongst all of the Grauzarm mountain range. But since a lot of monsters live here, it’s dangerous enough that not even peddlers can pass through it. Well, this area’s still safe, though.”
“Yup. The closer to the summit you get, the more ferocious they become. This time we have to cross over that area in order to get to the other side, so it’ll be a hard journey, you know?”
It was a word that I’ve only heard within games, but hearing it from this beautiful girl made me feel a sense of fear.
Because her features had remained entirely neutral throughout her delivery(3), there was a strange intensity behind her words.
“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you, so it’s fine for you to walk proudly in the back(4).”
‘I’ll protect you’–is what the wolf’s gallant figure expressed.
Leaving time for a short break in between, we set out for the summit within 4 hours.
The sun had completely risen, and the surroundings became completely clear.
At this time, we had already travelled a distance where, if you raised your head, you could directly see the mountain’s summit.
But then—that appeared.
Its two large, bloodshot eyes moved around, staring at Hiro and co. as if it were trying to evaluate them.
Peeking out of its torn mouth was a row of yellow teeth, several of which having fallen out.
Its neck was thicker than Hiro’s waist, and as it rose up, its exposed belly swelled up like a balloon.
It was a hideous, humanoid monster.
“An ogre. It was originally a human, but it’s been said that because of a spirit’s curse, it was transformed into such a hideous form. After being driven out from human lands, it inhabits mountains like these and attacks travellers. It’s a monster that lusts for human flesh.”
Liz calmly delivered an explanation.
“Also, even though it’s strong, because its intelligence is low, it’s not that hard to take down.”
Just as Liz spoke, Cerberus ran forward.
Cerberus brandished his sharp fangs towards the ogre’s neck, and then――he landed on the ground with a light noise.
Together with an eerie splurting noise, the ogre’s head disappeared as blood came gushing out.
Grotesque……Hiro averted his eyes.
However, what appeared before him was a scene that made him want to cover his eyes.
The sight of the ogre’s head rolling gently down the hill road.
Watching over him, Liz’s side profile suddenly bloomed like a flower as she smiled.
“As expected of Cerberus-dono. An unseeable execution(5)! We’ve been given the honour of being shown quite a wonderful thing.”
After being praised by Tris, Cerberus’s tail wagged in response.
“There’re more things even stronger than that.”
Upon seeing Liz’s cheerful expression as she said that, Hiro had absolutely no idea what kind of face he should make in return.
- ^ Banzai = Cheers
- ^ Tsukkomi in the RAW
- ^ なまじ顔が整ってるせいで妙な迫力があった。 | Honestly, the translation of this line was a bit iffy, because this doesn’t seem to make sense in Japanese either (either that, or perhaps I’m just lacking in knowledge).
- ^ Liz is mean. Or maybe she actually meant that he could walk at ease in the back of the troop safely. But that’s not what the RAW says. 😛
- ^ 目にも見えない牙捌き | Quite literally, a “Fang Judgement” that couldn’t be seen by the naked eye.