We left again at dawn and arrived in Iskia Village the following evening, on the 28th of the Month of Platinum (Hakkin).
「The fighting seems to have died down.」
I heard from Seria that Iskia Village was also under attack from the monster army.
I thought that we might need to fight our way into the village, but fortunately we didn’t encounter even a single monster, so we managed to enter the village safely through its eastern gate.
By the fact that the monsters came from the Iskia Hills, I thought that the main stage of the battle would be at the western gate on the other side, but the monsters had apparently surrounded the village so we even saw traces of battle at the eastern gate.
Among the corpses rolling around on the ground are Centaurs and Goblins; there are even some Pegasuses with broken wings. It really was an invasion by a great variety of monsters.
The fact that I don’t see any dead people is probably not because there haven’t been any casualties, but because they’ve already been recovered.
The face of the knight of Spada in red armor that came out to greet Nell and I shows clear signs of fatigue and grief.
The vigilante corps and adventurer group are wearing similar expressions.
In response to this scene that forcefully reminds me of the events of Alzas Village, my heart throbs with unease once more.
As if sensing my emotions, Nell calls out to me with a worried voice.
「I’m fine. More importantly, it seems impossible to send out a rescue team from the village.」
I head straight along the central road of the village, from the western gate towards the eastern gate.
As far as I can tell, there aren’t enough spare personnel to put a rescue team together.
They haven’t let any monsters inside, but seeing the people running around, busy with things like treating the wounded and repairing the stone walls even though it’s the middle of the night, I don’t need to ask to know that the people here have their hands full just defending the village.
The worst thing about this situation is that the villagers haven’t been evacuated.
When I passed through the center of the village, I saw unarmed women, children and the elderly. It seems they’ve taken shelter in the larger buildings, with the Adventurer’s Guild in the center of them.
Either they were already surrounded with the first attack, or the monsters appeared on the highway that they would have used to escape.
The option of running away was eliminated before they even realized; they had no choice left but to hole themselves up in the village.
For the situation in the village to be this bad as well; if I didn’t have to go to Iskia Fortress, I’d want to join their defense, but –
「Oi! You, you’re Kurono, aren’t you? What the hell are you doing here?」
A person’s silhouette suddenly jumps out in front of Merry.
It’s a plump man wearing dirty leather armor.
That face, no, if I had to say, that hostile tone, is very familiar.
「You, if I’m not mistaken, you were Kuar Village’s...」
「You bastard, don’t you say the name of that village!」
It’s the self-appointed leader of Kuar Village; his name was Nachim, if I recall.
I guess it’s been this way since we met in the slums of Spada, but it seems he still resents me. Well, it’s to be expected.
Just like me – no, even more than me, he’s lost everything.
「Are you fucking kidding me, showing up in a place like this? Come to destroy another village, you pest?」
Pest, huh. It’s exactly as he says.
The fact that I’m attempting to overcome a trial for a god’s divine protection is of no concern to Nachim. From his point of view, I’m a criminal who leads villagers to their deaths no matter where I go.
And I can’t deny that; I mustn’t.
I have no choice to but to keep my mouth shut and sit here, listening to his tirade without objecting –
「Please stand aside.」
For a moment, I didn’t know whose voice that was.
But the fact that it came from right behind me means that there’s only one person this voice could belong to.
When I twist around, I see Nell, whose face always wears a gentle expression. But right now that face is cold and has no expression at all.
In her hand is the『Scale of White Wings』that she used to heal my arm before, pointing at Nachim as if she were thrusting the tip of a sword at him.
「I am the first princess of Avalon, Nell Julius Elroad of the Rank 5 party『Wing Road.』I will forgive your insolence towards my companion only once, but there will not be a second time. Please stand aside, and never appear before us again.」
What an unbelievably cold tone of voice. No, I heard Nell’s voice like this only a few days ago.
『I’m telling you to stand down, aren’t I? I’ll have you executed for treason!』
I clearly remember the threat of execution directed towards that noblewoman called Christina from Avalon.
And just like that time, her words are immediately effective.
「Kuh... I-I humbly apologize...」
He probably knew Nell’s identity even before she introduced herself. Nachim lowers his head immediately as he reluctantly apologizes.
I guess this is the power of authority – no, Nell is probably displaying this uncharacteristic behavior because of me.
From her point of view, it might look like I’m being blamed unfairly, but that’s not true. Nachim’s words have some truth to them.
What should I say? No, is it better not to say anything in this situation? As if to drown out my hesitation, –
The toll of a bell echoes out.
「Monsters are coming!」
Before I have time to ask what the bell means, someone shouts an answer to my question.
The details are unclear, but it seems that Nachim is involved in the defense. He quickly turns around and leaves.
He turns and shoots me a reproachful glare, but this isn’t a peaceful situation where I can afford to feel upset about it.
「We’re going to have to break through the enemy.」
「It will be alright, because I will protect you, Kurono-kun.」
That’s right, this isn’t the time to be mourning what happened in the past. I just have to press on with the determination to save my friends!
Five days have already passed since the defensive battle to hold Iskia Village began on the 22nd of the Month of Platinum (Hakkin). The great army that seemed to be made of every single monster that lives in the dungeon, however, did not swallow the village in one go like a tsunami, but instead came in repetitive, sporadic waves.
Repeatedly throwing forces at the enemy is the worst strategy possible, but even so, the vigilante corps and the adventurers defending the village have had their strength exhausted and have been forced to make sacrifices.
「Just a little longer! If we hold just a little longer, the Knights’ Order will come! Give ‘em all you’ve got!」
Standing in front of the west gate that the new monsters are approaching, Gustav, the leader of the Rank 5 party, the『Iron Demon Brigade』, shouts words of encouragement.
The morale of the soldiers protecting Iskia Village is being maintained by the presence of this Orc, whose body size matches the volume of his voice.
As expected of the great man who has gathered a large, family-like party, he seems accustomed to being in command like this.
He has a magnificent attitude, the ability to read any situation quickly, gives orders efficiently and on top of that, he is overwhelmingly strong in battle.
There is not a single soldier who disobeys him, who does not rely on him.
「Zedra, how are them monsters organized?」
Holding the enormous metal rod in his right hand that he has used to thoroughly crush countless monster skulls, Gustav asks his party member standing on the tower this question.
「Dagger Raptors at the front. Centaurs and Slimes at the back. Also, a group of Harpies in the air.」
Zedra, the Golem covered in two-toned, black-and-white armor, replies in his usual robotic speech pattern.
The Golem’s red Mono-Eye Lens can clearly see the group of monsters approaching from beyond the highway.
In his left hand is a huge mechanical bow with a pulley-like mechanism attached at both ends of the bowstring.
On his back is a large quiver, which would be more accurate to call a barrel, packed full of arrows made of a Mythril alloy. A direct hit with one of these would cause instant death.
The sturdy tower supporting the immense weight of his body and weapon looks like it may collapse at any moment, but the fact that it has not yet done so means that it seems that it has not reached its weight limit.
「What about the Salamander?」
「I cannot detect its presence.」
At the news of the absence of the fiery dragon that they need to be the most wary of, relief spreads out among the men.
With that said, no matter how many torches they launch into the air to illuminate the surroundings, they would not be able to see it in this darkness until it was quite close. They cannot let their guard down.
But it would also be problematic to be overly cautious of a foe that they cannot see, so Gustav gives the order to attack.
「Alright, if that’s the case, let’s get out there and give ‘em a bit of a beating! Open the gate!」
The heavy wooden gate normally requires several people to operate the pulleys to open it or close it, but right now it’s being opened by only two people.
「Jeez! Don’t make a maiden do only this kind of manual labor! FUNNNNAAAAAAAH!」
「H-here we go, NNNNNNHH!」
This work was being performed by Gustav’s party members who are standing next to him at the front, the Minotaur (♂) and Cyclops.
The gates begin to open with a dull creak.
The Swordsman and Fighter-class soldiers who are to face the monsters head on begin to advance forward.
Gustav suddenly spots an unfamiliar silhouette among them.
No, it’s only natural that this silhouette stands out to him. The man dressed in black sitting atop a black horse like one that commissioned officers would ride and the angel riding behind him are ridiculously conspicuous.
「Oi, black nii-chan over there, it’s the first time I’m seeing yer face. Are you one of the adventurers who’ve come to help us?」
The news that Iskia Village is in a state of emergency has already been spread to the neighboring villages.
It is likely that an emergency quest was issued; on the second day, a group of adventurers from the other villages arrived as reinforcements.
They are a little late, but it is a situation where they would be grateful even for the help of a cat*. Even one or two extra pair of hands would be welcomed with open arms.
「No, we’re headed for Iskia Fortress.」
「Haha, the selfish whims of a princess, I guess.」
Gustav immediately understands the situation.
No matter how bad he is at recognizing people’s faces, there is only one person in all of Spada who matches the description of a woman with the wings of an angel.
「No, I wouldn’t say that’s –」
「It’s fine, I’m not plannin’ on stoppin’ ya. We’re worried about them kids stuck in the fortress, too. Well, as you can see, we don’t have the luxury of goin’ over there and helpin’ ‘em.」
He knows that the students of the Royal Spada Academy came here for the open-field exercise, and he heard the news that they are holed up inside the fortress and waiting for reinforcements from the Assassin-class woman who appeared a few days ago, acting as a messenger.
Of course, he knows that there are many sons and daughters of Spada’s royalty and nobility awaiting rescue there, but unfortunately they cannot spare the people to go and help them.
The students would be forced into a difficult battle to hold the fortress, but the village is still waiting for real reinforcements from the Knights’ Order to arrive, so they have their hands full protecting the village.
Normally, one would assume that there is no hope for the students, but truthfully, Gustav was not particularly worried about them.
During the enjoyable fight in the Guild bar, he experienced first-hand that the prince of Avalon has skill worthy of the Rank 5 title he possesses.
He knows that with the presence of the rumored『Wing Road』, there is hope that the students can hold out until reinforcements arrive.
「I wanted to join the fight here as well. Sorry.」
「Gahaha! We’ll do something about the village, so don’t worry about it! Hurry up and go save ‘em!」
After receiving the personal thanks from the princess, Gustav sees the two of them off.
Of course, in the direction their horse is going in, the monsters that have just arrived are lying in wait.
「Zedra, open a path for them.」
「Roger that, Head.」
From the top of the tower comes a reply in a low voice and the creaking of the mechanical bow as an arrow is nocked.
「They’re goin’ in with no hesitation. The young ‘uns these days are quite spirited, so I can’t lose to them!」
The man in black and the princess, with their strong resolve. As he murmurs words of admiration for the two, he hears the sound of an arrow being released overhead.