Message from translator: I was really happy to see people comment on the last chapter. After seeing chapter by chapter go by without a single response, I thought that people didn’t care about this novel….Glad to see that that wasn’t the case. As for this chapter, we get introduced to the city as well as some new questions. Enjoy~
I’ll probably be posting chapters up on Tuesday rather than Wednesday from now on. Just a heads-up.
Volume 1, 3-5: Provincial Capital Winea
The city walls of Winea were elegant, as well as twice as tall as those in Nanais. The circumferences of the two cities’ walls couldn’t even be compared. The shabby party of refugees bent their neck backwards to look at them and each member had their own expressions of blank astonishment.
Army soldiers were standing by the gate, but it didn’t look like they were checking those entering and exiting. They only accepted tolls from the occasional merchant pulling a cart.
“There aren’t any, bonfires…..”
Oandus muttered in a daze. Fin also looked around and frowned. There weren’t any pedestals for bonfire outside the walls. This would imply that this city wasn’t exposed to attacks from the Beasts of Darkness.
Was it because the city was too large? Or, was it because the army soldiers patrolled the surroundings, going around and exterminating the Beasts? If that was the case, then the appearance of those bandits would be strange…..
Since Fin and the others had come around to the eastern gate from the north, they hadn’t seen the splendid, main road that continued towards the main gate on the southern side, nor did they notice the numerous solemn graves. Nevertheless, there were cheap gravestones for the common folk lined up around the area. Despite being a graveyard, shrubs of white and sweet flowers were blooming. It appeared that the life that Nanais and Tetna had lost, continued here.
When the party approached the gate, the two guards raised their eyebrows in suspicion. Fin exchanged anxious gazes with Nellis, Oandus, and the others. Although they didn’t have a guilty conscious over anything, they didn’t want to be called out, so they unconsciously quickened their pace.
“Wait. Wait, you guys.”
Sure enough, the guards lowered their spears, blocking the path. Reluctantly, Fin halted. Because he was exhausted and there were injured and children with him, he didn’t want to cause trouble.
With the feeling that they were confused at what kind of interaction a guard should have, the two closely looked over the party and said in an unclear tone.
“You don’t look like traveling artists, so you beggars? Do you have anything like a passport or any proof of your identity?”
Normally, you would rarely be asked to show your passport, even if you were traveling from town to town. Permits were to prevent criminals and runaways from infiltrating, so with the exception of times that call for strict inspections for some situations, people could just pass through without being suspected.
Fin never left the town where he was born and raised, so he was quite shocked at being treated as a beggar despite not knowing of this area’s situation. He reflexively turned around to look at his comrades. Then, his shoulders dropped as he understood. They neither had a carriage, horse, nor even proper traveling clothes. They were covered in dirt, filth, and blood as they looked like they’ll die of starvation.
(Right, we’re…..beggars. We came here to beg for help.)
While he was feeling such self-mocking thoughts, Fin dug through his belongings and pulled out Masod’s letter. It was untouched. The seal also remained intact. He breathed a sigh of relief and stepped forward with it in hand.
“I’m a special envoy for the army. I came from Nanais. Behind me is my family as well as survivors from Tetna.”
The guards raised their eyebrows in suspicion, but they opened their eyes widely as they ascertained the seal on the letter, “It’s real.” They took another look at the shabby party and asked with a baffled expression.
“You said they were survivors from Tetna, right? What the hell happened?”
“You weren’t notified? Did the army soldiers not return?”
“That is….Yeah, the troops from Tetna did certainly return here, but I heard it was because of a convention. Am I wrong?”
“Convention? Not the other way around?”
Fin asked another question in confusion. Although there was a need for troops to be deployed from Winea, in contrast, there didn’t seem to be any reason for them to convene in Winea. At the very least, it was so safe that they didn’t even need to light bonfires outside of their walls.
The stories didn’t match. The two guards changed their confused faces with troubled looks as they scratched their heads. They were lost for a while, but in the end, they decided to leave this matter to be settled by the higher-ups.
“Anyways, if you’re a real special envoy, then we have to let you in, huh? You know where the barracks are? Once you pass through the gate, go straight on the road, and climb the hill that faces the northwest from the city square. In front of you on your right side, should be the Temple of Neena and if you pass that, you can see it on your left side.”
“Thank you very much.”
Fin thanked them and just as he was about to start walking, a guard said, “Aah, wait,” in a panic and continued to speak.
“Aah, it’s just that, you see, only you can enter the barracks, okay? Leaving the rest of them at the temple to wait, would be less troublesome, right?”
His tone had some hidden meaning in it, so Fin felt some dull anger and disappointment. However, he thanked the guard again without showing any attitude and prompted everyone to start walking.
Even though they all risked their lives to reach here, there really was not a lot of support for them. Did the citizens of Winea really not know anything? Were there no various effects on their lives, like when crops didn’t arrive?
Everyone dragged their legs as if they had a limp, so Nellis spoke for her brother beside him.
“…..This is disappointing, huh? I thought that if we’d at least arrive in Winea, the army soldiers would immediately come to greet us, and they’ll say ‘Okay, we understand. Leave it to us,’ and then they’ll go and save Nanais….for us.”
Her last words wavered as she sniffled. Fin looked downwards at his sister and agreed in a dark voice, “Ah, me too.” It seemed that the children had the same thoughts as they cowardly looked around them, anxious. If we’d at least arrive in Winea, the army soldiers would immediately come to greet us. Why did they hold on to such baseless hope?
Fin stifled a sigh and raised his head, glaring at the path in front of him.
As this was the provincial capital, there were many people, and all of them looked busy. They glanced at Fin and the others, and even their gazes met; however, no one called out to them. They merely frowned and immediately turned away.
A clanging sound of an anvil being hit could be heard from afar. The stir of people and the cries of donkeys. The voices of those selling food, candles, and such. Each and every one of them made Fin feel some kind of bloodlust. When he looked more closely, he saw that about half of those people standing and talking were frowning and giving intense looks. The only ones who smiled innocently were very young children and male and female servants who only knew the house they lived in to be their world.
While watching out for any children lagging behind as she walked, Fauna whispered to her husband beside her.
“This place as well. Doesn’t it seem like the military is in control?”
“Yeah. They did mention a convention, but……No way, do you think they’re planning on marching the soldiers south?”
Oandus groaned. Due to the pain of his wounds as well as the relentless day-to-day, the crease in his forehead kept growing deeper. There was no doubt that later on, the vertical crease wouldn’t disappear.
“The south…..it appears that the Sarda tribe are still coming to attack.”
“I dunno. However, it’s clear that they have no intentions to send troops to the north. Sh*t!”
Oandus cursed and the children who were nearby froze in shock at his roughness.
The Sarda tribe that lived in the Pulma Mountain Range were humans like everyone else, but they were a minority group, living in the harsh environment and surviving mainly on hunting and gathering. They traded minerals and halite picked from the mountains to be exchanged with currency from the lower world. Although they rarely descended the mountains, it was quite rare for any of them to leave their territory. At the same time, strangers who stepped into their mountains didn’t receive warm welcomes.
It was peaceful when they lived separate from the rest of the world, but in times of bad weather or disaster, food would be hard to come by and the Sarda tribe would have to rely on their past methods. In other words, they pillaged the wealthy lower world. Although their land was incorporated as a part of the Diatius Empire, the mountain range was essentially treated, even now, as territory belonging to the savages.
In the past few decades, the army occupying Vitia was mainly fighting the Beasts of Darkness and the Sarda tribe people. In the far distant past, the Vitian people of the north rejected the imperialization of their land and fought back. However, by Oandus’ generation, it was unthinkable that the people were anyone but the citizens of the empire.
In any case, if their opponents were the Sarda tribe, then it would seem that it was unnecessary to gather even the northern troops. That was because throughout Oandus’ and Fauna’s lifetime, they heard of attacks from numerous raids by the Sarda tribe, but they were all repelled by the army from the southern providence.
Something wrong must be happening.
The two of them breathed a sigh in vague anxiety.
It was right at that moment when the Temple of Neena appeared before them. This temple that enshrined the goddess of the earth was placed on the side of a hill. From afar, they could see that at the very top was the guardian deity of the empire, the god of the sky Deia.
Fin called back to them from the front of the group.
“Please wait here. I leave everyone to you. I’m sure they’ll treat our wounds for us. And while we have this opportunity, maybe you can ask them about Nellis….. In the meanwhile, I’ll be delivering this to the army corps’ leader.”
“Got it. Be careful, okay?”
Oandus raised his uninjured left arm. Fin nodded and continued to walk further ahead alone.
His back was supposed to be familiar to Oandus, but it now looked like it belonged to a stranger as it disappeared into the crowd. He saw his son off with a slightly dumbfounded expression.
“……That boy. Before I realized it, he’s become a man.”
He whispered in a serious voice, and Fauna inappropriately laughed at it from the side. Because Fin was his adopted son, Oandus’ position in the family was completely that of the eldest. However, in actuality, the man was still in his thirties. It was still too early for him to be feeling old from the generation gap caused by his son’s growth. Fauna slapped the discouraged Oandus’s shoulders.
“I disagree, sheesh. You’re a much better man.”
Oandus gave a somewhat quiet moan and took a head count of the children, trying to dodge her comment. His eyes met with Nellis, who had on a teasing look. He became flustered and cleared his throat.
“Okay then. Well now, let’s see if they’ll let us wait here until Fin comes back. Since this is the Temple of Neena, there should be a place to get some free medical treatment. Come now, let’s go.”
Oandus hurried and turned around to hide his embarrassment, as he started to walk inside the temple.
For no particular reason, Nellis exchanged looks with Max, and the two of them jokingly shrugged their shoulders. However, those feelings mysteriously and suddenly faded and disappeared when they passed through the temple’s gate.
The moment they entered the temple’s grounds, the air felt somewhat different. It was an air that was pure and possibly peaceful yet filled with power.
Nellis unconsciously took a deep breath and looked upwards at the inner sanctuary in front of her. An impressive building—one could sense that an idol of Neena was enshrined inside. The statue was nothing more than a statue. It was called a work of art, but that was all. But to Nellis, a different power was dwelling inside of it. She could sense it from even far away.
She felt like she was wandering around the entire time they were in the wilderness without a guide. Now was the first time she found the door that she must pass through. As she walked through the actual temple, Nellis gently touched the door with her hand with another perception.
A new sensation was revealed. Nellis slowly pushed against the door….
—-In a moment, something completely different cut through her.
Dancing flames, a sky stained in red, screams and jeers, shouts of despair. Her strength drained all over her body. It was cold. Her body froze in an instant as it felt like she was locked in ice, in a world of darkness.
Blue lights were lit everywhere. They were delighted, overflowing with bottomless hatred and malice. They became a surging sea of darkness, advancing onward.
Her shoulders were grabbed, and she returned her to her senses. When that happened, both of her knees fell down on top of the pavement as she cowered. Her mind and body were chilled as if she had spent a whole night being battered by freezing rain. Her teeth chattered, making a katakata sound.
The girl unconsciously raised her face and stared at the far north.
Without a moment’s rest, tears spilled from her eyes. There wasn’t a reason, but she just “knew”.
Her parents and the children gathered around her with worried looks as she said just that with a hoarse voice in all her strength. Nellis threw both of her hands down on the stone beneath her as her body trembled with her sobbing.
 Rock salt
 Since they live in the mountains, those below the mountain are referred to as the lower world.
Leave a Reply