“…yeah, thanks. You can come back now.”
I told Panda to get back from his hiding spot near the broken barrier magitool.
I used to only be able to know where my kins were, but now I could even share their senses and use my [Causality Alteration] through them. Perhaps it was due to my level increase into [Archdemon], strengthening the bond I had with them.
Originally, it had been a power I could use as long as there was a connection — internet or otherwise — and magic, but now, this new development had opened up even more options in my plans.
I was actually short of hands now. If only I got a few more kins. Sadly, normal monsters either just ran away from me or tried to fight me. Monsters like those two were really rare, it seemed.
The shoddy plan I was using this time was nothing more than a gamble beholden to luck. I couldn’t even call it a real plan. But well, luck was something I could handle.
To be honest, while it’s true the plan was meant to hide my existence, I had to admit that destabilizing a spell from afar to destroy the magitool was quite a bit easier than directly modifying the magitool to do what I wanted it to.
And then I tried to get a group of players to lure in monsters. I think I saw them before somewhere… what’s his name… Cardi? Anyway, apparently the “trickster and guide of man’s fate” part in my description had worked a little too well. They actually got the Troll King himself.
His combat power was 36000. That’s a Dark General all right. Before, he would have made for a tough opponent even for me.
If I’d known they’d managed to bag the Troll King, maybe I wouldn’t have needed to go through all that trouble to get those monsters inside the barrier.
…well, whatever. You can never have too much preparation.
The swarm of Rock Lizards I chased into the station was tearing up the place.
Just like the tricks I’d used before, the more I repeated it, the better the humans would respond, and the more stringent their security would become. Still, I think I could use this a few more times.
Honestly, places with Saplings generally had more security anyway, both in terms of personnel and magic. Even if I could break through, I’d need time, which the humans could use to summon more reinforcements. It’s a pain in the ass. Now, with the monsters showing up at the station, some of the guards in the building housing the Sapling had to be sent there.
All these were what one of the younger guards told me. I pretty much just asked. Disguising as an adventurer really made things simple. If anything, maybe my grown-up look actually helped out here?
Also, according to what Panda told me on his way here, the Troll King’s army had split into two. The one led by the Troll General was attacking the Republic of Savanhuit, while the Troll King’s was heading here. I anonymously fed the info to the adventurer’s guild.
They probably wouldn’t just believe it out of hand, but once they got confirmation, they’d most likely be forced to share most of their military supplies.
Anyway, until the Troll King gets here, maybe I’d deal with the buzzing watcher drones I’d been seeing all over the place. Just enough to not be suspicious, of course.
“Gather up the resident guards and surround the station, now! Send the order for the knights to gather to the south of the castle!”
After his return to Torrann Empire, Gold gave his order to the soldiers. He watched the men ran off, his fists white-knuckled, then turned to head toward the castle in the capital.
If it had been up to Gold, he would have stayed at the railway segment that had lost its barrier to stop the Troll King’s army, but the situation and his position did not allow that.
He ascended the castle. They must have had already heard the news. The knight who came to pick him up guided him right toward the emperor’s office.
“So you’re here, Gold! Come.”
Gold was the seventh child of the previous emperor, as well as the younger brother of the current emperor.
The emperor was an obese man clad in gaudy clothes. As soon as he saw Gold, he began impatiently tapping the table.
“Why did monsters show up at the station?! And the trolls, they should’ve been inactive ever since Father’s time. Gold, explain!”
“A part of the railway’s barrier was gone. It seemed the adventurers had something to do with it, but we hadn’t determined their motive…”
“Who cares about that! Damn those Temple adventurers! I’m the emperor of this country. I am God here! …no, wait, maybe I can use this to discredit the Temples and get them off my land…”
“Brother, this is not the time. We need to deploy the Holy Knights right away!” Gold said, interrupting whatever plot his elder brother was muttering. The corpulent man opened wide his squinting eyes and began to panic.
“N-no! Isn’t the rumored Dark Lady aiming for the Sapling?! We can’t weaken the castle’s defense!”
“But we need the Holy Knights’ thaumaturgy to defend the walls from the Troll King! Else, the citizens will be…”
The Holy Knights of Torrann were users of a kind of holy magic called ‘Thaumaturgy’. It was more defensive than offensive, which was why the emperor wanted to keep them at the castle. But holy magic users were rare. If they were protecting the castle, they could only focus on erecting barriers for the Sapling and the emperor. If the troll horde could invade the castle, then their magic was only good for buying time.
In that case, Gold thought it’d be better for them to help reinforce the walls, stopping the trolls’ advance, and healing the wounded soldiers. Unfortunately, his idea was shot down immediately.
“This country only needs the Sapling and me, their god! As long as we survive, that’s all that matters! Gold… the Warrior. I’ll lend you my Imperial Guards. Take your responsibility and deal with the trolls!”
“…understood, Your Majesty.”
Goldi von Torrann. The Hero called the Warrior.
He was one of the only three Heroes of this world. At the same time, he was royalty. As his brother, the current emperor feared him for his possible claim to the throne. He was not allowed the freedom to act.
Gold had no intention to take the throne. To prove it, he hadn’t taken a wife over the three-and-a-half decades of his life; he had sealed the equipment made from materials of the dragon he had hunted, never to be worn; and he had even parted ways with his former comrades once he was made the Hero. His life was spent following his brother’s wishes.
Partly, it was due to his love for the country. But also, he wanted to fulfill his father’s last wishes for him and his brother to stay as good siblings, to support each other.
Yet he could not see an inkling of worthiness in his older brother, the emperor. The man was not fit to rule.
“…we’re moving out!”
The young men of the Imperial Knights replied, their faces stiff.
Unlike the other countries, for the past few years, Torrann’s Imperial Knights had turned into an order of knights-in-name only. Their recruits joined only to have the suitable standing to work as escorts for foreign nobility, and the young noble kids joined only for the prestige.
There were still veteran knights remaining in the order, as well as some trained men with an actual sense of duty, but overall, the order was having problems both in the quantity and quality of their men.
At the moment, Gold had nothing more than simple equipment, nor were his old comrades here. He didn’t know if he could win against the Troll King, one of the Dark Generals.
[Goldi von Torrann] [Race: Human ♂] [The Hero “Warrior”] [Magic Points (MP): 700/700] [Hit Points (HP): 500/500] [Strength: 90] [Vitality: 80] [Agility: 80] [Dexterity: 7] [Swordsmanship 5] [Defense 4] [Offensive Magic 3] [Healing Magic 4] [Self-Reinforcement] [Total Combat Power: 14700]
But as the Hero of this world, he must fight.
On the way, he received further information. The troll army that had slipped through the barrier and escaped to the west had split into two, and they were heading for this Torrann Empire and the Republic of Savanhuit.
Fearing the Troll King, the country had always been focusing their defense on the south-eastern direction. Their west side, where the front gate was located, might have the barrier for protection, but the walls themselves were thin, and it had only a third of the amount of magitech weaponry compared to the south-eastern side.
Gold couldn’t recruit any more soldiers. The thousand resident guards were busy keeping the monsters at the station at bay, and there was no time to raise the militia. He had to make do with the existing force stationed at the west side: 400 knights and 1200 soldiers.
The military force of a large country was powerful. But on the flip side, a large country needed time to gather armies from their nobles and their rural areas.
“I’m not sure if I’m lucky or unlucky that the Troll King is coming here…”
As a hero, it was fortunate that the Troll King was coming to him instead of a country without a Hero. As royalty of this country, however, not so much.
He had wanted to recruit the help of adventurers. But while the emperor was plotting to eject the Temple — although the Guild might be a different story — then as long as the Sapling wasn’t in danger, Gold could expect some sort of interference.
The Troll King’s army was ignoring all the other towns, heading directly toward the capital. It would take them about three days. Meanwhile, it would be four days before the nobles could finish preparing their standing armies and arrive at the capital.
Simple math would say Gold needed to hold on for a day, yet even that single day of survival required preparations. And that precious time was wasted in the audience with the emperor. Gold was getting restless.
“The Hero!” “Victory to the Hero!”
Gold was on his way from the castle to the front gate when he was met with cheers, ringing out from the crowd of evacuating citizens.
They had the barrier, and they had the Hero. They believed they wouldn’t lose, and their expressions showed as much. Some weren’t even evacuating, instead drinking and making merry as if it was a holiday.
Yet the barrier was no absolute.
Some rare monsters, like the Troll King and the Troll General, could force their way in through the barrier. The reason they hadn’t done so was because even if they could get in by themselves, sheer number would still crush them, and they understood this.
All the same, if the Troll King could get inside, he would likely be heading straight for the barrier-generating magitool to destroy it.
The castle’s barrier was erected from right next to the Sapling, but the city’s barrier relied on several barrier stations. If just one of them was destroyed, the capital would fall.
In other words, the line of defense would have to hold the front gates and the walls from the troll army until noble reinforcements could arrive.
Seated in a magitech carriage, Gold sensed a disturbance somewhere in the city.
He turned his head. In that direction was the facility to distribute converted magic power to the other establishments, as well as one of the stations holding a barrier magitool.
“Milord, is something wrong?”
“No…” Gold replied to the soldier, his unease still nothing more than just a vague feeling, “nothi-?!”
But before he could finish his words, a powerful magic signal pulsed from the magic distribution facility.
The very next moment, the dull roar of an explosion rang out from the facility.
Despite the deafening sound, much of the explosion had been contained within the durable building. But judging from how one of the walls had collapsed and the flames were blazing, most of the explosion’s force must have been directed inside.
The city’s barrier flickered and disappeared. Horror kept Gold’s eyes pinned at the magic facility. There, he saw a girl slowly walking out of the flames.
Crimson eyes and scarlet dress.
Alabaster skin and snow-white hair.
And finally, a pair of long rabbit ears that could belong to no one else.
“…Whitehare, the Dark Lady!!”