TL notes: Now we start on Chapter 2 of the 1st volume! I realized that I’ve been posting each part in r/noveltranslations as a chapter, when they’ve all been a part of one chapter, so I’m going to be changing that (Sorry for the confusion). Also, I’ve decided to uppercase “Beasts of Darkness” and “Followers of Darkness” as we get a peek into their origin. I would like to think that I’m improving in my translations, so I hope you enjoy the chapter!
Volume 1, 2-1: Trip to the South
“Well, the season has been pretty good so far, eh?”
Iguros said and glanced at Fin’s family. Feelings such as, “The amount of luggage that will slow us down increased,” and even comforting himself with, “It’s better than being with just a miller,” did not appear on his face. At any rate, Fin was happy that he didn’t say any complaints. While he was harboring worries of how Iguros’ attitude would change after spending a night together, he played along with the conversation.
“Yes, it is. Now, we don’t have to walk around while wrapped in fur, shivering. And since there is grass growing around, we don’t need to prepare a lot of barley for the horses. We can move around more lightly.”
The actual winter of the northern Nanais was miserable: damp and terribly cold. Summer was said to be comfortable, but if Fin, who had actually experienced it were to say, it would be, “Of course the hot season is hot.” This season of fresh leaves was truly fortunate.
Although the rays from the sun felt faintly of summer, it was still comfortable and the wind was refreshing. And green farmlands spread out on the side of the main road, though there were no signs of people working there diligently.
Fin gazed at the abandoned ruins of the farmlands and pastures, and his face darkened. He wondered if any signs of people living there could be found there. Or, maybe even the whole empire, with the exception of Nanais, was in such a sorry state…..
“Hey, I said hey! Big Bro Fin!”
He came back to his senses after being called by the strong voice, and Nellis was beside him before he realized. It was decided beforehand that two horses will be loaded up with luggage on their sides and the leftover one will be for the two women to take turns riding, but it looks like it was Fauna’s turn now.
Fin asked, “What?” with just his expression, so Nellis pointed up. When he looked up in that direction, there was a shadow that looked like a black bird circling around.
“It’s strange, you know, but do you think the Beasts of Darkness hunt those types of birds? If they are supposed to indiscriminately and completely devour everything, then shouldn’t rabbits, pheasants, foxes and such be long extinct? Even our donkey and ducks have become their meal, you know.”
“How do they distinguish prey?” Nellis pouted in dissatisfaction.
“Now that you’ve mentioned it, that’s true.”
Fin also noticed for the first time and pondered.
If the Followers of Darkness harmed other living creatures with the same fierce attacks they do to human beings, then animals that don’t have the same level of ability to protect themselves as humans should have disappeared first. But before they would’ve been extinct, hunters would have gotten their hands on various game in swamps and forests. Pheasant, quail, duck. Deer and wild boar. He wondered why those kinds of birds and animals haven’t been targeted by attacks from the Beasts of Darkness. By that bone-chilling hatred.
Fin shuddered as he recalled the intensely cold hatred that traveled through his sword.
“What if the Beasts of Darkness…..only hated humans? Humans and the animals that were useful to them…..livestock.”
“What the heck? Do you not know the legends as well?”
Iguros cut in from the side. Nellis flinched and only glared at him with eyes of distrust and vigilance, not answering him. Iguros didn’t overlook at how Nellis drew closer to her older brother.
“Well, look at that. I’m hated. Hey, you don’t have to be so scared; I don’t got a hobby of makin’ brats cry and feeling good ’bout it. In particular when little girls cry. That especially hurts my ears.”
Nellis turned bright red at his joke towards her and the anger in her eyes burst into flames, but she still remained silent. She understood that if she shouted here, she would be doing exactly what he expected.
After Fin lightly slapped his hand on his sister’s shoulder, he asked Iguros again.
” ‘Legend’? We know the general ones, but is there some special tale?”
“It’s not exactly ‘special’, but there’s a reason why the Followers of Darkness hate humans. You really don’t know? In the past, there was nothing in this world but the sky and sea. The one who rules over the sky…..”
“I know that much, you know. Deia and Audia brought forth the Earth goddess Neena. Then, she gave birth to various gods, dragons, and spirits and created the terrain, plants, and animals; dwarves and humans were also created during this time. Finally, when nighttime came and everyone fell asleep, the God of Darkness created the creatures of the night.”
Fin tilted his head as if to say, “Right?“ Iguros nodded and began to tell the myth, slightly more in detail than the simple tale that Fin knew. It wasn’t a “fairytale” directed towards children, but rather the contents of a “record” taken from scrolls and books that he had studied and examined.
The gods tasked with the creation of the world each had their own responsibility and influenced the world peacefully. Gods and dragons, and even the spirits had no such desires for dominance or worldly materials, but the ones they created, those small existences, yielded such desires. Same goes with the Followers of Darkness.
“And then, there was the great war between day and night, right?” Fin interjected.
Humans and dwarves changed night into day and began to take more time and land for themselves, and the Followers of Darkness opposed and tried to change day to night.
The two sides fought fiercely, but whoever gained wisdom first, won.
“And that was us, the humans.”
Human beings were weak, but they devised methods to compensate. A technique to make spirits and dragons their allies; in other words, sorcery. However, that shook the foundation of the world.
“Humans and dwarves were blinded by power, ignoring their original goal and the voices of their conscience telling them to stop as they tried to stamp out the Followers of Darkness. And finally in the end, the world which was constructed through great efforts seemed like it was toppling over. So, what did the gods do? They isolated the areas of fierce fighting to prevent the flames of war from spreading. They could’ve probably returned everything to nothingness, but they must’ve thought that it would’ve been a waste to throw away all that they’ve worked hard to make.”
“…..You’ve got quite the proper way of talking.”
Nellis grumbled in a whisper. Iguros raised his eyebrow in exaggerated surprise and grinned right afterwards.
“In actuality, I don’t understand what the gods’ were thinkin’. Anyways, for that reason, they sprouted the tightly-knit, towering mountain range east of Diateus which spreads from the north to the south; and at the base of the mountains, the earth split and became hell, and the humans finally came back to their senses. But at that point, the conclusion had practically been settled, and the Followers of Darkness didn’t regain their power.
Afterwards, humans naturally abandoned their very dangerous spells. There was also the rumor that the dragons and spirits had refused to cooperate. Anyhow, all the Followers of Darkness became weak and moreover, the experienced humans created various kingdoms, became busy attacking each other and getting attacked, and began to think that their former arch-enemies are at the same level as wild animals.”
“…..But, our enemies didn’t forget. That’s what you’re trying to say, right?”
Fin ended the story in a sorrowful voice. Hundreds and thousands of years of pent-up resentment assumed shape and began to take revenge. They were still “babies” only born 20 years ago, but the possibility that each human could withstand a hit doesn’t even exist. Fin remembered the numbing pain and chills and unconsciously tightly gripped his right hand.
“Don’t make such a gloomy face like it’s the end of the world.”
In an instant, Fin retorted, “This isn’t a laughing matter,” at Iguros’ jest, then in a surprise, he realized and gave a sarcastic laugh to cover it up.
“I’m sorry. I have a natural gift for making everything boring.”
Fin jokingly added, “Apparently, I’m at the same level as a dead fish,” and gave an exaggerated groan as he received a punch from Nellis. After all, from now on, they’re all traveling companions so there’s no need to feel anxiety and despair. When nighttime comes, they’ll also understand, whether they want to or not.
The sun slowly passed overhead. The group took only a short break during noon and afterwards continued walking without stopping. Even so, only ruins of houses were scattered on the side of the main road and they couldn’t reach a village.
When the sunlight turned a honey color and the shadows and uneasiness grew bigger, they finally discovered a village. —Or to be correct, the ruins of one.
Abandoning the dumbfounded family, Iguros quickly went to investigate inside of the village, suppressing his emotions. Fin also helped out. Were there any usable items left behind? Were the walls and roofs still intact? Which house was the best condition? Concerning survivors, they had no hope for them; in fact, there were no living animals left behind, not a single chicken or mouse. At best, there were only insects.
“It’s here, right?”
Iguros said after investigating a barn and Fin agreed. Within the village, this was the only building with a roof and the walls still intact. There was some litter left around and if they gathered them up in a clean area, then a bed could be made.
After Fin and Iguros had gathered up the remains of horses and humans left on the floor and buried them, Oandus and his family entered, tied the horses, unloaded the luggage, and began to help out. Fauna excitedly ran towards the well to gather enough water for both the horses and people.
The outside was already dim. Nellis quickly retrieved a square lantern and lit it. The bright golden light filled the area. But it wasn’t just because of the flames. Fin blinked in surprise.
“Nellis, could it be, that square lantern….”
“Yeah, it’s the temple’s. Lady Fianera bestowed one upon us. Since we’re going to use a bonfire anyways, I thought we’ll need a light that’ll stand up against rain and wind. Also, with this, the flame’ll still be there all night long even if we don’t watch it.”
Fin was relieved and thanked the priestess of Nanais. If it were just one person whose turn it is to keep watch, then it would be difficult for that person to keep watch of the fire and Beasts at the same time. With the square lantern, those worries were relieved.
Fauna lit a small fire on top of the bare dirt ground and boiled some water with a small pot to make preparations for dinner. She boiled some lumps of kneaded wheat flour, added some leftover beans and a few vegetables, and managed to make what seemed like a meal. Everyone restlessly sat down and ate.
Iguros tried to delight Fauna by saying that this was tastier than the meals the soldiers receive, but it didn’t really soften the tense atmosphere.
The first one on watch duty was Fin. With the sword he had become all too familiar with drawn, he sat on the side. Although the bonfire was smoking, it didn’t change the fact that the square lantern was properly illuminating the middle of the barn.
Nellis and her family laid down, though they knew they couldn’t sleep. As expected, Iguros was accustomed to such a situation that as soon as his head rested on the nest of litter, the slowed sounds of his breathing could be heard.
Time slowly passed.
Fin stood up when he guessed that Nellis and the others had finally fallen asleep and took a peep outside through the cracks in the door. There weren’t any blue dots. On the contrary, outside was bright bluish-white. Moonlight.
Fin was surprised and slightly opened the door, slipping out after checking his surroundings. The clean night air filled his chest.
Suddenly, Fin remembered. There were nights like this before.
When he looked up at the sky, the full moon shone brightly. Especially when the dark purple sky was sprinkled with only bright stars.
Fin became engrossed by the sky and stood there for a while. He noticed that he naturally knelt down on both knees and prayed to the gods. He was thankful for the world that bestowed such beauty and wished that it would continue, and he requested for them to graciously illuminate his path with light. And to please protect everyone with light for the following nights.
When he muttered his own prayers with his clasped hands pressed against his forehead, he calmed down for the first time since these past couple of months. He felt that even if after this the Beasts of Darkness appear, he could fight without being frightened.