Re: Ankoku Kishi Monogatari - Act 1-11
Act 1-11 : Freedom Fighter
「Just a bit more and we’ll reach the Holy Republic of Lenaria, headquarters to the Hero and his companions, isn’t that right Nut?」
Kuroki asked Nut, who sat on his shoulder.
「Yes, it won’t be long til we reach our destination, Kuroki-sama.」
It seemed that prior to this journey, Nut had once gone on a mission to investigate the Holy Republic of Lenaria’s neighboring countries. It was probably the reason why they hadn’t lost their way throughout this journey.
It had been two months since they left Nargol and set towards the Holy Republic of Lenaria, Reiji and his companions’ base. Their journey was no less adventurous than any other journey. Along the way, they had experienced various dangerous and exhilarating events such as the Scylla’s murderous attack and the Elf girl’s loving hospitality. As he thought back on these occurrences, Kuroki couldn’t help but muse to himself- “It was indeed a long and arduous journey.”.
However, his thoughts were quickly disrupted by the sound of hurried footsteps. Kuroki looked ahead as several running figures appeared within his line of sight, approaching his and Nut’s position in a chaotic manner. This scene did not escape Nut’s orbs either as he amusedly watched them and asked Kuroki inquisitively.
「Eh? Kuroki-sama. Is it just me or did those humans scream “Goblin”, or something along those lines?」
「They did. Let’s take a look at them.」
Kuroki then sped towards them; however, the running men immediately ran past him as if they had seen a ghost. Kuroki stood there stupefied as he watched their figures disappear. Right after, the sound of a commotion came within his earshot and, curious, he ran down the road towards it. As he and Nut arrived at the scene, they were met with an encirclement consistent of four goblins, and in the middle, stood a lone male human. The man’s expression showed his unwillingness to die by the hands of these monsters as he unskillfully swung his sword, trying to escape the barricade.
「Uwa~, that human is quite weak, Kuroki-sama. It’s only a matter of time before he becomes goblin’s fodder.」
Nut’s laughter could not be contained as he witnessed the one-sided brawl. Perching on Kuroki’s shoulder, the two companions peeked at the scene from the shadows, hiding behind the trees beside the main road. The show was indeed quite laughable; the besieged man was wildly flailing his sword, missing his targets each time. He was quite obviously weak, it was an undisputed fact that he would be killed by the goblins any minute now.
（What should I do?）
Kuroki had no obligation to save that man, but still pondered whether to save him or not. There really wouldn’t be any issues for him if he decided to kill those goblins due to the fact that they were both outside of Nargol and therefore, Modes’s jurisdiction. Survival of the fittest was this world’s law and it applied to both demons and humans; plain and simple. This was the reason why Kuroki had no intention to help both parties.
（But, what is this feeling… Even if my appearance is that of a human of this world, I feel like a completely different being inside.）
He knew all along that the humans of this world were a different race, only their appearance bore a resemblance to Kuroki and the otherworlders. Along his journey, Kuroki had met quite a few humans and had gotten acquainted with them, which had made him notice the discrepancies and realize the insignificance of human lives within this world. That was the reason why he stopped regarding the humans of this world as his own kind.
（Is it possible that my regard to them as a different race is due to me being summoned by Modes, a demon?）
While Kuroki was pondering about those matters, the man before him was on the verge of dying.
（But, what if he’s a citizen of our destination? It’ll save me a lot of trouble if I rescue him and make him my guide.）
In the end, Kuroki decided to save the man.
「Can’t be helped. Let’s save him.」
「Eh? Are you sure about this, Kuroki-sama?」
Nut asked, puzzlement written all over his face.
「Yeah. Please get off of me for a moment, Nut.」
「Roger that, Kuroki-sama. I don’t know why you’re trying to save him though.」
After finishing his ramblings, Nut left Kuroki’s shoulder and descended to the ground. Once Nut reached his feet, Kuroki leaped out of hiding and entered the encirclement, his back facing the helpless man who was now lying on the ground.
「Ah? Who are you?」
「I’m here to save you.」
Kuroki had no intention of divulging his identity. He drew his sword from its sheath, prepared to attack.
The sword in his hand was not his usual demon blade, rather, it was an ordinary weapon he had bought from a random shop at a discounted price. The sole purpose of this low quality sword was for it to be wielded by Kuroki during his journey to the Holy Republic of Lenaria, hiding both his real battle prowess and the existence of his demon blade – which was too powerful and immensely conspicuous.
The front most goblin started approaching, a stone axe in hand.
Kuroki knew from his previous lessons with Lugas that goblins-save for a few exceptions- weren’t blessed with the power to wield the fire element. It was for this reason that the goblins in front of him-as well as the majority of their race-wielded stone weapons instead of the more generic metal ones
Kuroki effortlessly parried the goblin’s stone axe.
From the side, a second goblin carried an attack, but Kuroki easily dodged it as he performed a counterkick on his first attacker, sending the monster a few steps back.
（What a bother. I guess I’ll use magic to solve this situation as fast as possible.）
Already bored of this meaningless sword dance, Kuroki decided to use fear magic.
Fear magic was a type of psychological magic which targeted the opponent’s psyche, rendering them weak. It makes them feel an insurmountable terror towards the spell caster, as if they were facing the strongest being in this world. However, the truth of the matter is that it’s all an imaginary feeling.
Once attacked by Kuroki’s psychological warfare, the goblins’ faces were immediately drained of blood; they were dyed a white as pale as a blank sheet from their horror.
（It seems they can’t resist it. They’re far weaker than I expected.）
Kuroki arrived at that conclusion after seeing their indescribable fright. It was quite peculiar for him to witness this scene as, in fact, psychological spells were not really his forte. If he had been facing an opponent with the same level of magical prowess as him, then his magic wouldn’t have been effective at all. Therefore, since his magic worked so wondrously on these four goblins, then it was a given that their magic was weaker than his.
A sudden loud cry escaped the goblins and, as if they were chased by a monster, they ran away trying to escape the hellish area. After making sure that they had all left the premises, Kuroki turned around to face the previously distressed man.
「D-Did they leave? Thank you so much Hero.」
The man was looking at Kuroki with a look of disbelief.
「Are you okay?」
「Yeah, I’m okay. My name is Dozumi and as you probably guessed, I’m a Freedom Fighter. And you are?」
The man stood up as he introduced his name while Kuroki observed him.
Dozumi was an average looking human. He had an oblong shaped face with wide cheekbones, sunken cheeks, and an unshaven beard. His long, unkempt inky hair was loosely hanging down, a piece of cloth coiling around his forehead like some sort of protector. He had a stick-thin figure, as if there was no meat left in his body. It was obvious that this man had experienced the vicissitudes of life. His attire was crudely composed of a low quality hide armor and, for his sword, a sheath hanging messily on his waist. His attire was definitely that of a Freedom Fighter.
Under the demons’ constant threat, this world was always in need of many male humans to become fighters.
However, there was a glaringly apparent distinction between public and private fighters the difference being that public fighters had an obligation towards their country and could only act under their nation’s command while private fighters could move under commissioned orders. Thus, to easily differentiate between these two separate and different entities, this world’s populace had dubbed public fighters as Knights and Soldiers, while private fighters were dubbed as Freedom Fighters.
The peculiarity of Freedom Fighters is that they, as their name implies, have the freedom to choose and accept whichever commission they are offered. However, once one is accepted, these fighters have to be completely obedient towards their employer. This is where the origin of their name appears.
These mercenaries are immensely popular in this world and can be found anywhere. No prerequisites are required for someone to join and their origins and knighthood qualifications are also unnecessary. As long as a country or a private entity is willing to hire them, their faction will not disappear anytime soon. As such, this was not the first time Kuroki had met a Freedom Fighter.
「My name is Kuro, also a Freedom Fighter.」
Just to be safe, Kuroki used his alias.
As one of the demon king’s subordinates it was normal for him to constantly investigate Reiji, humanity’s hope. However, this did not mean that he wanted to attract people’s unwanted attention, Kuroki wanted to be as stealthy as possible when gathering information so as to not alert the wrong people. As such, along with using an alias wherever he went, he also didn’t clad his Dark Knight’s attire.
For his journey, he only brought along a sack to carry important commodities and a hooded cape to lie low. He also didn’t wear any of his armor as his attire consisted of normal clothes: a common long sleeved tunic, traveling leather shoes, and a leather belt.
Though he could be considered as poorly equipped for a Freedom Fighter, Kuroki was not worried. He was aware that due to the large number of Freedom Fighters funds were scarce and difficult to find, leading to some of them being even poorer than him since they lacked the funds to buy defensive gear. That’s why his attire could be considered as normal.
「I see…. Since you’re a freedom fighter too, could it be that you’re going to the Holy Republic of Lenaria?」
「Indeed, but is there a problem with that?」
「No, well, I in fact live in the Holy Republic of Lenaria. If it’s okay with you, I can become your guide. I can then repay you for saving me.」
As soon as he heard those words, Kuroki felt like he hit the jackpot. He had intended to stay in the Holy Republic of Lenaria for a short while and thought that it would be better for him if he found a local guide. It was a good thing that he decided to save that man, saving him a lot of time and troublesome effort.
「I’ll take that offer then. By the way, what are you doing in this place?」
Dozumi let out a wry smile upon hearing Kuroki’s question.
「Nothing, I guess was just left to die in this place…」
Dozumi then started explaining his situation.
Dozumi was hired to escort a cargo from the Holy Republic of Lenaria.
But, a short while after leaving the country, his cargo was ambushed by a group of goblins. Dozumi had unsheathed his sword, ready to fight, and had thought that the other hired Freedom Fighters would do the same. Goblins were stronger than him, but with other people helping him he had the confidence that they could at least escape with the cargo safely.
However, reality proved otherwise. His companions were cowardly and chose the easy way out, they used him as bait and escaped the confrontation, taking the cargo with them and leaving Dozumi behind to fend for himself.
「So that’s what happened. huh.」
In short, Dozumi had been abandoned by his comrades. Kuroki guessed so after he heard Dozumi’s story.
「Well it doesn’t matter now. Rather, you said that you’re going to the Holy Republic of Lenaria, right? Then please allow me to become your local guide.」
Kuroki tilted his head when he heard those words.
「Huh? Are you sure you don’t want to go after your comrades?」
「Well, I do want to, but it’s okay now. I mean, my duty was to deliver the cargo safely to its destination. The cargo should arrive safely since they used me as bait to distract the goblins. Even if I chase after them, I won’t be able to catch up and it’ll be dangerous as it’s almost nighttime. That’s why it’s better for me to just go back to the Holy Republic of Lenaria.」
Dozumi explained as he began to walk.
The area outside of the rampart would become a field full of danger at night due to the presence of nocturnal demons. Countless people had lost their lives due to their carelessness. Even if a group of people only had the thought of camping on the outskirts of the nearby country at night, they’d still have to be wary and take turns to keep watch. That’s why journeying alone in the night was basically equivalent to comitting suicide.
Dozumi was right, so Kuroki just followed silently behind him.
They only had to travel a little bit further to reach the gates of the Holy Republic of Lenaria.
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