~Dioral Kingdom territory, at Sherwood~
“Trouble keeps occurring over and over. I need to hurry to the king’s side, and yet… three days have already passed since the promised day.” (Kureha)
【Sword Saint】Kureha Claylet was grinding her teeth.
She was on her way back from finishing her task in the Sherwood forest that is west of the Dioral Kingdom.
A brutal demon appeared at the west, which ordinary soldiers can’t compete against, so she was dispatched because the【Sword Saint’s】power was needed.
Even the demon that buried several hundred knights of the Dioral Kingdom is not an enemy for the【Sword Saint】.
The problem was after that.
Her job was not just to defeat the demon, but had also included escorting a severely wounded person to the royal capital.
However, the car wheel of the carriage the wounded person was on broke. The bridge collapsed, so they needed to take a detour, but they were attacked by a group of monsters.
That kind of trouble happened frequently, so their return to the royal capital was drastically delayed.
Normally, she should have reached the royal capital three days earlier, but it seems like it will still take another whole day.
“I feel like explaining this to the king will take up time. … Fuu, I am sick of this.” (Kureha)
She looks considerably worn out.
Her prideful silver hair has darkened as well. It is not just from this incident that she is tired out by.
A【Sword Saint’s】job is extremely busy.
The Dioral Kingdom has lost its greatest fighting powers of their country, who are the hero of【Magic】, Flare, and【Hawk Eye】, one of the three champions. To fill up that gap, the【Sword Saint】is being overused.
If she is late to the king’s call this time, a good enough explanation is needed.
She feels like galloping away on her horse by herself from the file of troops, but the demon she defeated this time had a powerful monster with it, and they were attacked by a different group of monsters the other day as well. If the body of troops transporting the wounded person were attacked without her, they will be helplessly defeated.
“Kureha-sama. Thank you for your hard work.”
The woman serving as Kureha’s attendant brings her tea.
It used the tea leaves Kureha likes, and it was brought at the temperature she prefers.
As she has been serving her for a long time, she is thoughtful.
“Thanks. This helps.” (Kureha)
“No, I am sorry for only being able to do this much. It was a beautiful fight this time as well!”
Kureha smiles wryly.
Although she said her purpose is to protect the Dioral Kingdom, she has betrayed this country and is circulating information to the hero of【Healing】and the hero of【Magic】.
She heard about Kearu’s group’s activities in Buranikka, the town where humans and demons coexist.
The hero of【Magic】, Flare, made a speech about humans and demons coexisting, and ending the war without fighting.
She wants to increase the amount of towns like Buranikka where humans and demons coexist, and that if they are able to achieve it in Buranikka, it should be possible for other towns to do it.
That seems to be a wonderful thing, but also feels difficult.
For Kureha who is fighting at the front lines, she can tell.
… The long battle has left countless scars on the people’s hearts. Important people were killed by the demons and monsters, and she knows of many knights that hold strong resentment.
And that is probably the same for the demon’s side.
Although it’s an unnecessary war that was brought about by the Dioral Kingdom because they wanted profit, neither side can be stopped.
Even so, she will work hard, because this is that person’s dream after all.
“Kureha-sama, you are making gentle eyes. We have had a long acquaintance, but you have only started making those eyes after going to Ranalitta. Did you have a wonderful meeting in Ranalitta?”
Kureha’s face turns red.
Then, she averts her face from her attendant and opens her mouth.
“It isn’t like that. But, well. It isn’t wrong that I had a wonderful meeting.” (Kureha)
After just saying that, Kureha closes her mouth.
She is embarrassed to the point of death.
Her attendant kindly smiles, and didn’t ask any further. It is because she knows that any more would trouble Kureha.
And then, her attendant chose to change the topic.
“Recently, the higher-ups have become kind as well. To think they would gather severely wounded people at the royal capital and heal them.”
“That’s true, there are military surgeons in remote regions as well, but for severely wounded people, they need the power of healing magicians in the capital or exclusive equipment.” (Kureha)
It’s the same right now as well, but recently, the severely wounded people who the institutions and doctors in the countryside cannot deal with are carried to the royal capital, and are made to receive medical treatment.
The royal capital takes the burden, and the knights that could only die without help could be saved, which raised the knight’s morale.
“… But, you hear bad rumours as well. They haven’t returned since coming to the capital, or the people that came back have changed. My acquaintance said that it was as if their interior was changed with someone else.”
Kureha smiles wryly at her attendant’s words.
“You are worrying too much about it. They were severely wounded people, so it’s not like everyone would be saved. Besides, they were on the verge of death from their injuries. They wouldn’t just stay the same as they were before.” (Kureha)
“That is true. … But, Karura, ah, she is my acquaintance, her lover came back, but he is overflowing with tragic heroicness, so slightly changing is-.”
Their conversation was interrupted. Their carriage came to a sudden stop.
“What happened!?” (Kureha)
Kureha raises her voice at the driver.
“It seems the wheels of the carriages in the back suffered damage.”
“Again? How many times does this make. You go and help repair as well.” (Kureha)
As expected of a driver, a man that can do simple repairs was driving.
Things like this happened multiple times, so their return was delayed.
In the next moment, Kureha felt something cold in the muscles along her spine. She checked the surroundings.
“Youna, could you exit the carriage and check the situation outside?” (Kureha)
“Certainly. I will be off.”
The attendant goes outside.
Kureha puts her breathing in order and takes a stance.
“You have something to talk about right? I have cleared out the people. Come out. Or else, would you prefer me to come your way?” (Kureha)
Kureha puts her hand on her sword.
Then, one man appears from the shade.
“As expected of the【Sword Saint】-sama. To think you would notice me.”
“Might you be an assassin?” (Kureha)
“No, I have come to send a letter to you from my father. And, a verbal message.『This country has already ended. Run away even if it’s just by yourself.』, he said.”
After just saying that, the man hands her a large envelope and disappears in the darkness.
Kureha tears open the envelope. Inside it, there were multiple documents and one letter.
An upside down cross symbol has been stamped on it.
She only knows one person who would use something like this on purpose.
A comrade in arms of her late father, Arthur, and also someone who she has personally fought alongside with multiple times, the Dioral Kingdom’s strongest man.
“What exactly does priest Bullet want from me?” (Kureha)
The man right now who said Bullet was his father is probably his shadow.
Something he wanted to convey to me enough to use that shadow… she reads the letter with shaking hands.
After that, she reads into the letter and the enclosed documents.
“… No way, to think my connection with Kearu was exposed. … Besides, this, it’s a lie.” (Kureha)
Kureha opens her eyes widely.
The contents of these were awfully unbelievable.
Through Kearu, Kureha learnt the other side of the Dioral Kingdom.
The Dioral Kingdom was using their army to attack demi-human villages and sell them as slaves.
Apart from that, they marked innocent villagers as heretics and burned them to death as a lesson, and performed every possible wrong doing.
Even so, she hadn’t thought their darkness was this deep.
Putting the letter in her pocket, she left a letter addressed to her attendant and a necklace with the Claylet’s family crest and rushed out.
On it, this was written.
『Youna, I sensed the presence of a powerful demon. Go back, because proceeding any further on this path is dangerous. I will carry out separate actions from here. If you are troubled, rely on marquis Roulubach. If you show that necklace and use my name, they won’t be cruel to you.』
And then, she enhanced her physical ability with mana and ran.
If this was true, informing Kearu immediately is necessary.
~Priest Bullet’s letter~
It’s been a while, Kureha-jou (TL Note: jou = miss, girl, etc)
I have heard of your fame.
Hearing that that little Kureha-jou who pestered Arthur and I to play with her became the current【Sword Saint】and is doing well makes me feel a mysterious feeling of happiness and loneliness.
Kureha-jou, I will enter the main question.
The Dioral king has a relationship with the demon king and possesses a suspicious power.
He is no longer human, and the king is also changing the knights of this country one by one into something that isn’t human.
It is under the pretense of gathering severely wounded people from various places to treat them.
People who can’t endure the suspicious power turn into tragic corpses that aren’t in a human shape, and the ones that endured it turn into something that’s neither human nor demon. And these things that aren’t human return to the countryside, becoming the king’s eyes and limbs.
You absolutely cannot return to the royal capital.
The king who perfected the experimental technique to change people with a suspicious power wants the strongest pieces. The ones he will aim for will be heroes like me and other people like you.
The king has called for you and I in secrecy.
… If we, the two strongest in the Dioral Kingdom, fall into the king’s hand, it will be the end of the Dioral Kingdom.
For this reason, I made my subordinates hinder your mission and made it so you can’t go back to the king’s side.
I have arranged for this letter to reach you in case I cannot come back after heading to the king.
If my bad prediction is correct when this letter reaches you, I am either dead, or have become something that is not human.
Head to the hero of【Healing】that has proceeded further past Buranikka. And then, inform him of the kingdom’s darkness that I investigated. This country has already ended.
In the near future, the king will probably set out for world domination with the knights that have changed into something not human and the demon king’s troops.
… The only method to save this finished country is to defeat the Dioral king together with the hero of【Healing】and have princess Flare govern it.
Kureha-jou, please forgive me for only being able to entrust everything to you.
And, I will tell you this to not make you misunderstand.
It is fine for you to abandon this country.
After delivering the envelope to the hero of【Healing】and princess Flare, it is fine to forget everything and live with the one you love. … For you who has a strong sense of responsibility, you will probably choose the path of fighting, but if you are to choose that path, please stop your legs for a moment and think over it carefully.
Because you are the daughter of my deceased friend Arthur, I want you to become happy. Make the option you won’t regret.
If you are to choose the path of fighting, become a【Hero】. From here on out, a human that has simply been trained well cannot put up with it.
I have enclosed data about【Heroes】that I have investigated in my lifetime.
【Heroes】return. Many go to new lives. However, people that have the qualifications are pulled in. For you who is the most worthy of【Sword】in this world, you will surely be able to achieve it.
To my dear Kureha-jou