Chapter 1 – Departure
Translator: Ferro, Exct
Editors/Proofreaders: Sene9ty, Namorax, Skythewood, Ghoststaker, JcqC, TaintedDream
Azellerisia Mountains - the mountain range separating the Baharuth Empire and the Kingdom of Re-Estize, which also served as the national border. The Great Forest of Tove covered the mountain range’s southern foothills and to the north of the forest lay an enormous lake.
This enormous lake had a radius of approximately twenty kilometers, and was shaped like an inverted calabash, divided into the upper lake and the lower lake. The upper lake was relatively deep, hence large creatures gathered there while the lower lake was inhabited by smaller creatures.
At the southern end of the lower lake was a large region where the lake and the wetlands blended into each other. Multiple structures had been built there, with a dozen wooden stilts serving as a foundation for each one. A door opened at the side of one of these houses, and its owner entered the sunlight.
His demi-human race was known as lizardmen.
Lizardmen were beings which shared human and reptilian characteristics. More specifically, aside from their heads which did not have basic human features, they were bipedal lizards, with dexterous hands and feet.
They were regarded as demi-humans along with goblins and orcs, and were not as civilised as humans, with a lifestyle considered barbaric to others. However, it also could not be denied that they have a culture of their own.
Adult male lizardmen had an average height of about 190 centimeters and were proud of their strong muscles, weighing over 100 kg with little body fat
A reptilian tail used for maintaining balance grew from their waists.
Evolution caused them to have webbed feet for ease of movement on the wetlands. It was also because of this that land activities were slightly inconvenient, but this posed no problem for their general lifestyle.
Their dark green and charcoal grey scales were similar to those of a crocodile instead of a lizard’s, and they were harder than the low-end defensive equipment used by humans.
Their hands had five fingers just like humans, but with short claws growing at their tips.
The weapons wielded by both hands were basically very primitive items. Since it was impossible for them to discover ore in the wetlands, their weapons were mainly spears crafted from magical beasts’ claws, or akin to blunt weapons with stone bound to them.
The sky was a clear blue, the sun had already risen to mid-air, and a small amount of thin white clouds were in a combed pattern in the sky. It was a good weather, with the distant mountain range clearly visible.
The lizardmen’s field of vision was wide, and the sun’s blinding glare could be seen even without moving the head. He, Zaryusu Shasha, squinted and walked down the stairs rhythmically.
He, Zaryusu Shasha, squinted and walked down the stairs rhythmically, while scratching the imprint of a black scale on his chest.
Lizardmen had a strict class society, with the tribal chief as the leader of the tribe. This position was not determined by blood, but elected by the tribe for being the strongest individual. This election for tribal chief took place once every years.
Assisting the chief was the council of elders made up of elected elderly lizardmen. Below them were the warrior class, followed by general male lizardmen, general female lizardmen, and lizardmen youths. Their society was structured this way.
Of course, there also existed those who did not belong to any of these categories.
First were the druids, who were led by the elder druid. They aided tribal life through the use of magical cures and weather forecasts to predict dangers.
Next were the hunters, whose ranks consisted of rangers, responsible for fishing and hunting, but since ordinary lizardmen would also assist in this aspect, their most important job were forest activities.
Lizardmen were omnivores, but their staple food was a species of fish around eighty centimeters long, and they did not consume many plants or fruits.
Despite this, hunters entered the forest mainly to harvest timber. For lizardmen, land was not safe, and even simply collecting wood from the forest required skilled personnel.
As such, they were allowed to make their own decisions, but still fell within the jurisdiction of the chief and had to obey the chief’s commands. Lizardmen therefore had an explicitly paternalistic society with division of labour done according to jobs. However, there were also those outside the jurisdiction of the tribal chief.
Those were travellers.
Hearing about travellers would evoke the impression of foreigners, but this was impossible in lizardmen society. Lizardmen had a closed society, and a situation where an outsider was accepted into the tribe was exceedingly rare
So, who were these travellers?
They were lizardmen who wished to see the outside world.
Basically, unless something drastic like a shortage of food occurred, lizardmen would not leave their hometown. However, there was a small chance that a lizardman who wanted to see the outside world would appear.
When travellers decided to leave the tribe, they would have a special insignia engraved on their chests. This was proof that they had left the jurisdiction of the tribe’s control upon leaving the tribe.
Most of those who left the tribe never came back, died during their travels, found a new place to call home, or encountered a different fate… but on rare occasions, they would return to their hometown after having seen the world.
Travellers who returned were evaluated highly because of the level of knowledge they had gathered. Although they were individuals detached from the power hierarchy, they were still prominent within the tribe.
There were some who kept their distance from Zaryusu out of respect, but his fame was greater than that. It was not only because he was an traveller. The reason was…
When descending from the lowest stair to the wetlands' surface, his favourite weapon holstered on his waist collided with his scales, creating a clicking sound.
It was a blue and white blade with a dim glow. The shape was a bit peculiar, the blade and the handle were integrated, resembling a three-pronged fork. Starting from the grip part of the body it became increasingly thinner, until becoming paper-thin at the tip of the blade.
There were no lizardmen who did not know of this weapon. All the surrounding lizardmen tribes referred to it as one of the four treasured magic items: Frost Pain.
This was the reason behind Zaryusu’s great fame.
Zaryusu started to move.
He had two different destinations. The gift which he intended to bring to one of those destinations was currently carried on his back.
It was one of the large fish which served as the staple food of lizardmen. Walking as he carried four of these fishes on his back, the stench which entered his nose did not cause any discomfort to Zaryusu. On the contrary, it was a smell which made him feel very hungry.
A strong desire to eat. After puffing out wind several times out from his nose, he expelled this desire. Like this, Zaryusu pattered as he walked without stopping through the Green Claw tribe village.
Children, who still had their bright green scales, ran around and let out ‘sha sha’ sounding laughter, but stopped as they noticed the objects on Zaryusu’s back. Healthy growing children peered towards Zaryusu from under the shadows of houses—— no, it was because of the fish that they gathered together. Their mouths were slightly parted, even drooling. They stayed a slight distance away, but their eyesight was still locked on, with gazes like children who craved snacks.
Zaryusu smiled wryly and pretended to not notice as he continued walking. He had already decided who to give them to. It was regretful, but they weren’t meant for the children.
The children's gazes were not caused by hunger --- something that would've been impossible a few years ago. This gave Zaryusu a feeling of happiness.
With his back facing the reluctant gazes, he passed through the residential area and arrived at the hut that was his destination.
This area was not connected to the village. Going a bit further, and it became dissimilar to the wetlands which were the general depth of the lake. This hut, which was sturdier than it looked, was built on this subtle border and was larger in size than Zaryusu’s home.
The strangest feature was that it was tilted. Because of this reason, approximately half of the house was submerged in the water. This was not collapsed due to damage, but was intentionally constructed to be so.
Swishing, Zaryusu got closer to the house whilst making audible water noises.
Wheedling sounds could be heard from the hut, it could probably smell the scent of fishes.
With a squeak, the head of a snake with deep brown scales and amber eye-pupils appeared from the window. after confirming that it was Zaryusu, the neck extended and coquettishly twisted around him.
With a habitual hand movement, Zaryusu stroked the snake’s body. The snake comfortably squinted using the eye protection membrane. Zaryusu also thought that the scaly snakeskin felt fine.
This creature was Zaryusu’s pet, called Rororo.
Since Rororo was raised from young, it was as if it could actually understand language.
“Rororo, I’ve bought food. Be good and eat it okay?”
Zaryusu chucked the brought fish through the window. ‘Dang’ and ‘Pluck’ sounds came from the inside.
“I really want to stay and play, but right now I really need to attend to the fish . See you in a bit.”
It probably understood the contents of the speech, and let out a reluctant noise and slowly released Zaryusu before returning inside the house. Afterwards, a chewing sound could be heard from inside.
Having confirmed that Rororo was in good health, judging by the spirited manner of eating, Zaryusu left the hut.
Zaryusu’s destination after departing the hut was the lake, which was a fair distance away from the village.
Zaryusu silently pattered along the forest. Swimming in the water should be much faster, but his concerns of ‘whether any problems would occur on land’ had fostered his habit of monitoring the land path. It was just that the trees would obstruct his line of sight while walking, therefore to Zaryusu it could also be considered a matter which consumed his concentration quite a bit.
Finally he could see his destination from a gap in the trees. Zaryusu let out a sigh of relief since no obstacles had arisen along the way. With only a short distance left to travel through the forest, Zaryusu quickened his pace.
Brushing aside tree branches like a diver swimming in the water, Zaryusu widened his eyes in surprise. This was because he saw the back figure of a person he did not expect to encounter.
That person was similar to Zaryusu: a lizardman with black scales.
“...Oh, it’s you.”
The lizardman with black scales turned his head around and looked welcomingly at Zaryusu. This lizardman was the current tribe chief of the ‘Green Claw’ tribe; Zaryusu’s elder brother Shasuryu.
He won the competition to be a chief twice in a row, and retained his position without needing to fight this year. His body was amazingly huge. When he stood next to Zaryusu, who was of an average build, he made him look small in comparison.
There was a single long, white and old scar on his black scales. It looked like lightning piercing through dark clouds.
This fellow who carried an enormous sword on his back, was close two meters in height and was huge and plain. The steel sword —— proof of being tribe chief —— had magic which increased its sharpness and prevented rusting.
Zaryusu and his older brother stood next to each other on the lakeside.
“What are you doing here?”
“...Older brother, that should not be your line, but mine. This is not the kind of place the tribe chief would need to visit personally.”
Lost for words, Shasuryu muttered his catch phrase, then turned to look at the lake in front of them.
Sticks stretched out from inside the lake, surrounding the area. Being carefully placed, there were very fine mesh nets between the sticks. Their purpose was obvious with a single glance.
It was a fish farm.
“Could it be… stealing a meal?”
Hearing Zaryusu’s words, Shasuryu’s tail jumped and flapped against the ground with a flopping sound.
“Muu, there is no way that could happen. I am only here to check up on the breeding conditions.”
“Younger brother, do you see your older brother in that kind of light?!”
Finishing his statement with a strong intonation, Shasuryu slid one foot forwards. The pressure he gave off felt like a wall pressing down on Zaryusu. Even Zaryusu, who was an experienced traveller and veteran of many battles, felt the urge to take a couple of steps backwards.
However, he had the perfect retort.
“If it’s only to inspect the breeding conditions, then it also means that you don’t want them. Such a shame, elder brother. If they were raised well, I was thinking about giving some of them to you.”
The flopping sound stopped, and the tail appeared dejected.
“So very aromatic too. They have become nicely fattened because of the nutrients diligently fed to them, even more plump than hunted fish.”
“If you keep them in your mouth, some really good tasting juice will flow out. Biting down with a crunch will also make it seemingly melt in your mouth."
Once again the cocked tail gave off a flopping sound, and it was even more intense than before.
Half of Zaryusu’s attention was transfixed on that tail, the other half was directed to addressing his elder brother in an almost teasing manner.
“Sister-in-law has also mentioned this before. Elder brother’s tail is just too honest.”
“What? That horrible person, making fun of her husband. Say again, which part is honest?”
At the sight of his elder brother replying whilst looking over his shoulder at the tail which was still, Zaryusu was momentarily lost and don’t know how to react, before vaguely replying ‘right’.
“Huh. That horrible person… If you have a woman… then you will understand how I feel right now.”
“I won’t be able to marry.”
“Huh, nonsense. Is it because of that mark? You’re better off ignoring whatever those elders say. Saying that there are no women in this village who find your affection annoying… even the person with the most beautiful tail will accept you.”
Lizardmen stored nutrients in their tails, therefore having a thicker tail was an important key factor for the opposite sex. In the past, Zaryusu would have chosen a thick-tailed female. However, the grown up Zaryusu, who now had an understanding of the world, wouldn’t choose in such a way.
“Taking the current situation in the village into account, I have no desire for females with thicker tails. If I had to use tails as the criteria, I would choose a female with a slim tail instead. Personally, I think one like sister-in-law’s is also fine.”
“Of course it is fine for someone with your personality… except, don’t you dare mess around. I do not want to butcher anyone over some silly matters. Speaking of which, you also ought to realise the pain of being married. It’s just not fair that I am the only one.”
“Hey, hey, elder brother... I’ll tell sister-in-law.”
“Ugh… this is one of the pains of being married. Even me, your elder brother and tribe chief, can be threatened.”
Boisterous laughter sounded out by the peaceful lakeside.
After the laughter stopped, Shasuryu looked at the fish lake as he voiced out some words of frustration.
“But honestly? It’s just too great; Your…”
Zaryusu came to the rescue of his elder brother who fell silent.
“Do you mean the breeding farm?”
“Right, right, that’s the one. In our tribe’s past we have never had an individual who would do such a thing. Furthermore. many people already know of its success. In the future, more and more people will feel envy at the sight of your fish and copy your ways.”
“It’s all thanks to elder brother. I know elder brother has said all kinds of things about me to everybody.”
“Younger brother, talking to many people about reality does not count for much. That kind of stuff is merely recounting anecdotes. If it weren’t for your hard work in nurturing such delicious fish from this breeding farm, those words would have been meaningless.”
The initial breeding farms were constantly failing. This was expected, since they were built solely based on the impressions from talks during his travels. Just the construction of the fence was met with constant setbacks. After a year of trial and error, although the fish lake was created, there was still more work to be done.
Fish could not be left alone without being looked after. It was necessary to obtain fish feed.
The fish in the fish lake had died out many times by experimenting with a wide variety of food for the sake of finding out what kind of feed was best. There were also instances of the surrounding nets being broken by monsters, freeing all of the fish.
There were some who criticised him behind his back for ‘treating fish captured for food as toys’. There were also those who said that he was nothing but a fool. However, the results of his efforts finally bore fruit.
The shadows of enormous, swimming fish were reflected on the lake’s surface. Comparing its size to hunted fish, it would be in the very large category, and no lizardmen would believe that these were fish that had been completely reared from birth, apart from Zaryusu’s elder brother and sister-in-law.
“...Simply amazing, younger brother.”
Seeing the same sight, Zaryusu’s elder brother said this in a low voice at the same time. His words were filled with emotion.
“This is also thanks to elder brother.”
The younger brother who replied also conveyed such emotions in his tone.
“Huh, what have I done?”
Truthfully, elder brother - Shasuryu did not do anything. However, that was just the official stance.
During times when the fish health deteriorated, priests would suddenly show up here. When collecting materials to build a fence, there would be many individuals who came to help. When captured fish were separated and allocated, there would be live fish. In addition, there were also fruits brought back by the hunters to be used as fish feed.
Those fellows who came over to assist all refused to reveal who they were doing this favour for. However, even the dumbest person would realise who was pulling the strings, even if the person was adamant on not disclosing the name.
Because it was not appropriate for the tribe chief to look after travellers, who had seceded from the tribe hierarchy.
“Elder brother, wait for them to grow a little more larger, then I shall take some to your place first.”
“Hum. Then I’ll look forward to it.”
Turning around, Shasuryu took a step away from the place, then said in a low voice.
“...What are you saying, elder brother. Elder brother has not committed any wrong.”
These words may or may not have been heard. Zaryusu merely looked silently at the back figure of Shasuryu moving away from the lake shore.
Having confirmed the condition of the fish lake and returned to the village, Zaryusu suddenly felt a strange feeling, and looked towards the sky, yet there was nothing out of the ordinary up there. The whole sky was blue, with a thin layer of clouds at the mountains towards the north.
It was the usual landscape.
There were no changes. Just at the moment he brushed it off as a misconception, a weird layer of clouds appeared in the middle of the sky.
Almost at the same time, black clouds which blocked out the sunlight suddenly appeared at the centre of the village. Those were thick rainclouds which cast a shadow over the entire village.
Everyone was surprised and looked up into the sky.
The druids had said there would be clear skies for the entire day. Priests made their weather forecasts using both magic and their many years of knowledge accumulated through experience, therefore the accuracy of their predictions was extremely high. As such, anything that was not predicted would come as a surprise to anyone.
However, the strangest feature was that there were no rainclouds apart from the dark clouds covering the village. Simply put, it was as if someone had called out the clouds and placed it above the village.
Furthermore another strange feature appeared.
Whilst the clouds swirled with the village as the epicentre, they also expanded in range at a constant rate. It was as if the sandwiched sky was being invaded by the terrible momentum of the ominous dark clouds.
Warriors all around scrambled to be on alert. Children escaped by rushing back into their homes. Zaryusu bent down, observing the surrounding while reaching towards Frost Pain.
The dark clouds completely covered the sky, and blue sky could still be seen in the far distance. It was as if the dark clouds were targeting this village.
From there, a clamour arose in the village centre. The wind carried over a high-pitched sound produced by lizardmen’s vocal chords.
That sound was an alarm, one which signaled that there were formidable enemies and advised others to evacuate according to the situation.
Zaryusu who heard this sound bolted along the wetlands at a speed which was fast for lizardmen.
Run. Run. Keep on running.
Moving in the wetlands was extremely difficult, requiring use of the tail to act as counterbalance. At a speed unattainable by humans —— although lizardmen feet were more suited for this environment —— Zaryusu reached the source of the alarm.
At that place, Shasuryu and the tribe’s warriors had formed a circular formation, staring at the village centre.
Following the object in their line of sight, Zaryusu also glared at the same place.
Everyone’s eyes were focused on a monster which looked as if it were created from dark mist.
Within the dark mist, numerous terrified faces would appear then quickly vanish. Although faces of various races appeared, the one thing they had in common were expressions of agony.
Carried by the wind were sounds of sobbing, resentment, painful lament, and dying gasps melding together to form a chorus.
With his back frozen from the gathered resentment, Zaryusu trembled in fear.
...Not good… we should have let all the people in the vicinity escape, leaving elder brother and I to deal with this, but if that were the case...
The surrounding lizardmen were all elite warriors of the tribe, but the opponent was one which even Zaryusu was terrified of: a powerful undead. In this situation, the only two who were able to give a proper fight would be Zaryusu and his elder brother. Even more importantly, Zaryusu knew that this undead had special abilities.
Diverting his attention slightly, he noticed that the majority of the lizardmen present were all taking short and sharp breaths, as if they were scared like little children -- despite all of them being of the warrior class
The monster stood at the village centre and made no movement.
After some time had passed, whilst maintaining a tense atmosphere and aware that only a tiny disturbance would trigger off the escalation into a fierce battle, the warriors slowly narrowed the distance. They resisted the mental stress and moved into action.
Using his peripheral vision to confirm that Shasuryu had drawn his weapon, Zaryusu also swiftly and silently took up his sword. If it became a fight, he intended to launch a surprise attack faster than anyone else.
It is necessary to tell others about that guy’s special ability, therefore, I cannot act rashly.
The tension in the atmosphere thickened. Suddenly, the sounds of resentment stopped.
The noises emitted from the monster mixed together, forming one sound different to the intelligible cursing earlier. It had a definite meaning now:
“Listen well. I serve as the messenger of the Great Being and I came here to announce his decree..”
Everyone looked at each other. Only Zaryusu and Shasuryu did not break eyesight.
“Proclaiming your death sentence, the Great One has sent his army to exterminate you. In his leniency, he has granted you mortals time to put up a meaningless resistance. Eight days from now, the lizardmen tribe of this lake shall become the second sacrifice.”
Zaryusu and grimaced, revealing sharp teeth and issuing an intimidating sound.
“Resist stubbornly, mortals. Allow the Great One to relish in your demise.”
Like smoke which constantly changed shape, the monster also gradually deformed and floated into the sky.
“Do not forget. Eight days.”
As if there were no obstruction, it flew in the sky towards the forest, with its departing back figure watched by many lizardmen. Zaryusu and Shasuryu were silently looking at the distant sky.
The biggest hut in the village — the assembly hall — was rarely ever used. Clan leaders had absolute authority on all matters and assembly only happened once in a blue moon. There was no real value to having the hut, but on this day the inside of the hut was filled with strained clamor.
Many lizardmen had gathered, causing the spacious hut to feel narrow and stifling: the warriors, the druids, the hunters, the elder council and Zaryusu, who was a traveler. Everyone sat cross legged, facing Shasuryu.
Acting in his capacity as clan chief, declared the start of the meeting and the first to speak was the elder druid.
The aged female Lizardman’s body was covered in white dye, showing fantastical drawings. Although the symbols had many meanings, their significance were unknown to Zaryusu.
“You all remember the black cloud that covered the sky? That was magic. From what I know, there are two spells to manipulate weather. One is called 「Control Weather」, a 6th tier magic. We can safely rule that out since magic of that level is in the realm of legends. The other is a 4th tier magic called 「Control Cloud」. This is also a spell that only a powerful magic caster can cast. We would be fools to stand against such a foe."
Behind the Elder Druid, the similarly garbed druids nodded their heads in agreement.
Although Zaryusu understood how powerful 4th tier magic was, the other Lizardmen did not and their voices of doubt filled the surroundings.
Not sure of how to explain, the Elder Druid showed a perplexed expression before pointing at a Lizardman. The one being pointed at showed a confused expression, pointing at himself as well.
“Yes, you. Can you defeat me?”
The Lizardman slowly shook his head.
He might stand a chance if both sides were using weapons, but if you included magic, the odds of winning were really low. Or rather, it was nearly impossible for a mere warrior to win.
“However, even I can only use 2nd tier spells.”
“So to say, he should be twice as strong as you?”
Facing this kind of dumb question, the Elder Druid sighed and shook his head.
“It’s not that simple. Faced with magic of the 4th tier, even our Clan Leader would be easily killed.”
"Although it’s not absolute" added the Elder Druid speculatively then closed his mouth.
Finally understanding the terror of 4th tier magic, the room became silent. At this moment, Shasuryu started talking.
“In the end, what the Elder Druid means to say is...”
“Fleeing would be the best course of action. Even if we fought, there would be no way to win.”
“What are you saying!”
Following the thick and low roar, a tall Lizardman stood up. He had a similar build as Shasuryu and was the Head Warrior.
“To flee without even putting up a fight! Running away when facing just that level of danger is intolerable!”
“— What is in your head!? It would be too late if we are to start fighting!”
The Elder Druid glared and stood abruptly, face to face with the Head Warrior. Both of them had already lost their temper and made threatening sounds. Just when everyone feared the situation was about to escalate, a cold voice could be heard.
With faces like being woken with cold water, the two of them turned to Shasuryu and seated themselves as if in apology.
“Head Hunter, let us hear your point of view.”
“......Elder Druid and Head Warrior’s opinions are both understandable, they both make sense.”
To answer Shasuryu’s question the skinny Lizardman opened his mouth. Although he seemed small in size, it was not for a lack of muscle, but rather that his muscles were densely packed.
“That is why since there is still time. We should examine the situation. Supposedly, they are sending an army. There ought to be signs of construction for a forward base and such, therefore we should observe first and decide afterward.”
Without any information, saying this or that would be completely useless. A number of people expressed their agreement.
“There’s not much to say, all of the opinions are correct. All that’s left is to leave the decision up to the Clan Head.”
Letting his gaze wander, Shasuryu met Zaryusu’s eyes, who was sitting among the crowd, and gave him a nod.. Zaryusu felt as if he’d gotten a gentle push on the back — whether the road ahead was dangerous was unknown — still, he raised his hand to show he had an idea.
“Clan Head, please allow me to speak.”
At this time, the focus of all the Lizardmen gathered on Zaryusu. Most of them wore expectant expressions, but others showed discontent.
“This isn’t the place for a ‘Traveler’ to be speaking. You should be grateful we’re already allowing you to attend,” a member of the Elder Council declared. “Step down right...”
Bam! The sound of a tail striking the floor, it cut through the Elder’s words like a sharp knife.
Giving off a dangerous vibe, Shasuryu's voice carried the guttural sound that Lizardman made when riled up, the tension in the room increased sharply as the heated atmosphere from earlier cooled down.
In this atmosphere, an Elder opened his mouth without paying attention to the gazes around him who were warning him “Don’t do anything unnecessary.”
“But Clan Head, to receive special allowance just because he’s your younger brother is not good. Besides, Travelers are—”
“I said to be silent. Didn’t you hear me?”
“Presently, all who are seated here possess wisdom. Why not hear the idea of the Traveler.”
“The Clan Head has spoken and you still refuse to comply?”
Moving his sight from the silenced Elder, Zaryusu looked at the other Heads.
“Elder Druid, Head Warrior, Head Hunter, do you also think there’s no value in listening?”
“Zaryusu’s words are worth listening.”
The Head Warrior spoke first.
“What kind of warrior would disregard the words of Frost Pain’s wielder.”
“I agree, there’s definite value to listening.”
Then the Head Hunter spoke followed by the Elder Druid who shrugged.
“Of course we have to hear. Refusing to listen to a wise man is something that’s only done by fools.”
Receiving the intense mocking, some of the elder council’s members pursed their eyebrows. Shasuryu nodded to the three Heads and let Zaryusu continue his speech. Zaryusu sat still and opened his mouth.
“To flee or to fight, if we had to decide we must choose the latter.”
“What is the reason?”
“Because it is the only choice.”
Normally, if the Clan Head asked for the reason one must explain clearly. But Zaryusu didn’t continue and closed his mouth as if he was finished.
Shasuryu cupped his chin and sunk deep into thought.
…Have you seen through what I am thinking? … Brother.
Zaryusu did his best not to leak his inner thoughts. At this time, the Elder Druid showed a pained expression while directing his question to no one in particular.
“Is it possible to win?”
“Of course we can win!”
Head Warrior shouted as if to disperse the feeling of unease, but the Elder Druid only narrowed his eyes.
“...No, in the current situation the odds of success are very low.”
The one to directly reject the Head Warrior’s opinion was Zaryusu.
“...What exactly are you trying to say?”
“Head Warrior, the opponent should already know about our side’s fighting force, otherwise they wouldn’t approach us with such a belittling attitude. If that is the case, then it is impossible to obtain victory with our current fighting power.”
Then what shall we do? Just as everyone was about to voice out their doubts, Zaryusu spoke out before anyone else to share his inner thoughts.
“That’s why we need to disrupt the plans of our enemy… Does everyone here still recall the previous war?”
Even those with dementia would be unable to forget the last war which took place several years ago.
In the past these wetlands had been inhabited by seven lizardmen tribes: Green Claw, Small Fang, Razor Tail, Dragon Tusk, Yellow Speckle, Sharp Edge and Red Eye.
However, now only five remained.
It was a war which claimed the lives of many, and wiped out two tribes.
The reason for this conflict was the bad harvest of the staple food, fish. Led by the hunter classes, the fish hunting zone was expanded further around the lake. Of course the other tribes followed suit.
And then conflicts over hunting and fishing spots amongst the hunter classes arose. Since it concerned food resources necessary for the survival of the tribes, it was impossible to make concessions
Quarrels soon turned into fights, and it was only a matter of time until these fights escalated into carnage...
Next, in order to support the hunter class, the warrior class also took action. A fierce battle was sparked because of the food shortage.
Five of the seven existing tribes were embroiled in the fighting and ended up in a three vs. two situation: Green Claw, Small Fang and Razor Tail against Yellow Speckle and Sharp Edge. Apart from the warrior class, other male lizardmen and even female lizardmen were mobilized to fight for their tribes.
After several large battles, the side with the three tribes that included the Green Claws emerged victorious, leaving the defeated two tribes so destitute they became unable to sustain themselves and were forced to scatter. These remnants were then absorbed by the Dragon Tusk tribe who didn't participate in the war.
Ironically, since the number of lizardmen had been greatly reduced, the food shortage which had originally sparked the conflict had been solved as well. The staple diet of fish could now be distributed to everybody.
“What of it?”
“Think about the words which that person left behind. He said that this village was the second, which also means that he has left a similar message at the other villages.”
Numerous voices that agreed with Zaryusu’s words arose.
“It means we need to form another alliance!”
“Could it be that…”
“Yes, we should form an alliance.”
“Just like in the previous war.”
“In that case, perhaps we may yet win?”
The small mutterings between the Lizardmen soon evolved into a big commotion. The entire hut was discussing Zaryusu’s opinion, yet Clan Head Shasuryu maintained his silence. The chief’s eyes looked as if he was gazing into the depths of his heart, rendering Zaryusu unable to turn his face to him.
After allowing ample time for discussion, Zaryusu spoke again.
“Don’t be mistaken. The alliance I spoke of includes all of the tribes.”
At that suggestion, the second person to understand its meaning was the Head Hunter, who let out an astounded sound. Zaryusu’s eyes locked onto Shasuryu and Lizardmen in his line of sight subconsciously parted to either side.
“Clan Head, I also suggest forming an alliance with Dragon Tusk and Red Eye.”
The surrounding erupted in an enormous commotion, as if a grenade went off in the room. They had no communications with Dragon Tooth and Red Eye who did not take part in the war. Furthermore, Dragon Tooth took in the remnants of Yellow Speckle and Sharp Edge, the refugees of their enemy tribes.
To form an alliance with those two tribes, forming a five tribe alliance.
If that were possible then it might be possible to win. As everyone held this faint hope, Shasuryu suddenly spoke out:
“Who shall be the representative?”
“I will go.”
Shasuryu was not surprised by Zaryusu’s immediate answer. The surrounding lizardmen reckoned that it was because he understood his younger brother’s character and had anticipated this response. Letting out sounds of empathy, they also thought that there was no candidate more suitable to be selected. However there was one who was of an opposing opinion.
“— Sending a traveler?”
It was Shasuryu. His ice-like gaze pierced directly through Zaryusu.
“That is true, Clan Head. However we are at trying times. If the other side is unwilling to listen to my words merely because I am a traveler, then they have no worth as an ally.”
Zaryusu easily repelled the cold stare. After the two glared at one another for a brief moment, Shasuryu let out a lonely smile. It was either because he gave up, or because of his helplessness in stopping his brother, or perhaps internally ridiculing himself for agreeing. It was a smile without gloom.
“Bring along the seal of the Clan Head.”
That had the meaning of being the Clan Head’s representative. Several elders which wished to express the view that ‘this is not something a traveler should possess’ were silenced under Shasuryu’s powerful glare.
“My extreme gratitude.”
Zaryusu bowed. Accepting his gratitude, Shasuryu continued speaking:
“...I shall select the representatives who will head to the other tribes. First is…”
Cold wind blew at night. Because it was the wetlands, high humidity and the summery heat combined together to give people excruciating pain, however at night this heat mellowed and the gusts of wind would even be considered freezing. Of course for the lizardmen with sturdy skin, this hardly registered as a significant change.
Zaryusu stamped along the wetlands, his target being his pet Rororo’s hut.
Although there was still some time, it could not be said for certain that nothing unexpected would suddenly happen, and more so it was not known if the enemy would abide by their declared schedule, or perhaps hinder Zaryusu’s movements. With all these considerations, riding through the wetlands on Rororo was still the most appropriate.
The stamping footsteps slowed down and stopped. The bag on his back which was filled with various items also shook. The reason for stopping was because the moonlight illuminated the sight of a familiar lizardman leaving Rororo’s hut.
Both individuals staggered at the sight of each other, and the confused Zaryusu crooked his neck in a bow. The black scaled lizardman drew himself closer and closed the distance.
“... I reckon that you are the one more suitable to take the mantle of Clan Head.”
Those were the only words of Shasuryu who had approached to within two meters.
“...What are you saying older brother.”
“Still remember the previous large war?”
Since Zaryusu had raised this question during the meeting, there was no way he would not remember. Of course this was not the main point of Shasuryu’s question.
“...After the war you became a traveler. At that time when you had the insignia burned upon your chest, you have no idea how much I regretted it. Even if I had to use my fists, I should have stopped you.”
Zaryusu fiercely shook his head. His brother’s expression at that time still remained a thorn in his heart.
“...It is all thanks to older brother’s permission that I was able to learn the ability to raise fish.”
“If it were you, even if you remained in the village you would be able to come up with that method. Such an intelligent man as you should be able to be the supporting pillar of this village.”
The past was the past, therefore any hypothetical discussions starting with ‘what if...’ were pointless. The past was already set in stone, but to ponder over such events were these two men’s weakness.
No, not exactly that either.
“...Not as Clan Head, but as your older brother, I cannot tell you that things will go smoothly if you go alone. Come back safely, don’t try to be brave.”
In response to this remark, Zaryusu replied with a haughty smile:
“Of course I will complete this mission with perfection for you to see. This task is nothing to me.”
“Huh.” Shasuryu’s face broke out into a wry smile.
“Then if your mission were to be a failure, the fattest fish that you have raised shall be mine.”
“Older brother, that kind of thing is nothing amazing, and not something you ought to be saying at this moment.”
Both men silently laughed.
And then exchanged serious looks.
“So is your objective really just that?”
“...What are you saying? What do you mean?”
For a brief moment Zaryusu narrowed his eyes… and then thought to himself “Darn!”. With knowledge of his older brother’s insight, his reaction just now was a mistake.
“... Your speech in the hut was as if to incite everybody’s opinion, yet the way you said it was obviously withholding something.”
Zaryusu fell silent and Shasuryu continued:
“...The cause of the previous war was not solely due to the dispute between tribes. A substantial increase in the population of lizardmen was also one of the reasons.”
“Older brother… Let’s not talk about this any further.”
Zaryusu’s grim tone seemingly confirmed Shasuryu’s statement.
“So… it was that.”
“...It can only be that, in order to prevent a recurrence of the previous war.”
These words that Zaryusu spat out implicitly contained his own detestable thoughts and plans. It was simply too foul, and if possible he did not wish for his older brother to know about them.
“So then if the other tribes refuse to form an alliance, what then? Because those who are only willing to provide support and those who wish to flee from the outset would surely refuse.”
“In that case then… The only option is to exterminate them.”
“Starting with wiping out your own tribe?”
Hearing the tone of persuasion in Zaryusu’s voice, Shasuryu smiled almost inappropriately.
“I understand that your concern is correct, and I also agree. As the guiding figure for the tribe, since it concerns the survival of our tribe, of course I would have to consider this. That is why you need not be reserved, younger brother.”
“I appreciate those words. Then shall they be brought to this village?”
“No. According to that person this village was the second one, so the main battle should take place at the first village. Ordinarily it would be the best strategy to gather at the final village or the one with the highest defence, but if it were to be destroyed then it would have serious impact on the subsequent battles, therefore let us establish our defensive position at the first village. To exchange intelligence reports with you, let us communicate through the elder druids’ magic so that you can directly transmit from over there.”
The magic which older brother described was a delicate one which was unable to transmit too much content or if the distance was too far away, but Zaryusu judged that it would be fine for this instance.
“Then I assume that there will be no problem if we draw out rations for the soldiers from your farm?”
“Of course, but spare the juveniles. It was not easy to get them where they are now, and even if we were to abandon the village it would eventually come in handy.”
“Deal. Then how much can it provide?”
“...If we are talking about dried consumables, around one thousand tonnes should not be a problem.”
“If it is that… then in the short term there will be no problems.”
“Ah, I leave it in your hands then. So, older brother, let me go ahead… Rororo.”
Reacting to Zaryusu’s voice, a snake head appeared at the window. Pale blue moonlight reflected on the scales, giving off a fantasy-like beauty.
“We have to depart. Can you come over here?”
Rororo looked for a moment at Zaryusu and Shasuryu, and retreated its head back inside. Then a sound came out like that of a heavy animal moving through water.
“Older brother, there are still some issues which I wish to hear about, are you able to answer? What about the numbers? Depending on the situation we need equipment to be used for negotiations.”
Shasuryu paused slightly, then replied:
“...Ten warriors, twenty hunters, three druids, seventy females, a hundred males, children… that’s about it.”
“...Ah, I understand.”
Shasuryu gave a tired smile and Zaryusu remained silent. A sudden loud water noise broke the silence. Both men observed the direction where the water noise came from, and smiled out of nostalgia.
“Ah, older brother, me too. I did not expect it to grow so big. When I picked it up, it was so small.”
“I also find it hard to believe, it was already quite large when you brought it back.”
The two men reminisced about the past Rororo. Then four snake heads surfaced on the water a short distance from the hut, all four using the same action in splitting the water and heading towards Zaryusu.
Suddenly the snake raised its heads and the figure of an enormous body could be seen inside the water. The beast had four reptilian heads connected through long necks to the enormous four-legged body.
It was a monster, a hydra.
This was the name of Rororo's species.
It was not only evident from the snake elements, but also recognisable from the chewing sound when it was fed with fish.
With an unexpectedly fast movement unbefitting of its large body that spanned five meters in length, it arrived beside Zaryusu.
Zaryusu climbed onto Rororo’s back as nimble as a monkey.
“You have to return safely. In addition, it’s more your style not to use your brain like you did in the past when you shouted “not even one person shall be sacrificed”.”
“...I have also matured, that is what happened.”
To Zaryusu’s words, Shasuryu snorted.
“The kid has grown into a man now… Well, alright. Don’t get into trouble. If you do not come back, the first target to be attacked will be determined.”
“I will return safely. Just wait for me, older brother.”
After some time passed, they exchanged gazes filled with emotion and without warning, the two drew apart.
The ninth floor of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. This floor had many rooms of various types. It goes without saying that these included Guild Members’ and NPCs’ rooms, but also included imitations of large communal baths, cafeterias, beauty salons, clothing stores, grocery stores, fitness salons, nail salons and numerous other types of facility rooms.
The creation of these rooms had no actual significance for game play. It was because the players here had an attachment to these things, or perhaps due to the players’ pursuit of an ideal city, or perhaps a longing for these features due to the poor working conditions in real life.
Within these rooms, there was one particular room whose manager was the Great Tomb of Nazarick’s deputy chef. Although his ability would normally be used in the cafeteria, according to certain days of the week and time of the day he would come to this room and make preparations for those that might stop by.
The room was designed in the concept of a bar with few regular customers and was illuminated with soft gentle light.
There was a shelf lined with alcohol behind the counter and eight chairs. Although there were only these features, it was sufficient for a quiet tasting. The deputy chef thought of this space as his own castle, and it gave him immense satisfaction and fulfillment
However the atmosphere of the place also relied upon customers having refined taste. He realised this minutes after today's first customer was welcomed in.
Glug, glug, glug, phew—
Making a sound like that, that person downed his drink.
While wiping the glass, he thought to himself: for people who drink like that, there are more suitable places.
In fact, the ninth floor also had common rooms and tavern facilities, so there was no necessity for those who drank like that to come to this bar.
The deputy chef struggled to keep his face from contorting at the sight of the person chugging down the approximately 500ml beer mug and then slamming it onto the counter.
Responding to the customer’s request, the deputy chef injected a continuous stream of Polish distilled vodka, and then injected a shot of blue food coloring.
He then gently present the cup.
“This drink is called ‘Lady’s Tears’.”
The customer looked at the drink with suspicion. After being casually informed of this name, and because she did not see the cocktail mixing process, the customer then revealed an expression of gratitude.
“Ah, does the spreading blue colour symbolise the tear?”
“Yes, it is just as you say.”
He lied through his teeth.
The woman grabbed the cup, placed it besides her mouth and drained it in one gulp like one would with a glass of milk after a shower.
With no hesitation she slammed the empty cup on the counter like with her previous drink.
“Huu, feeling a little tipsy~”
“You drank too fast, so it cannot be helped. How about retiring a little early tonight?”
“...No, I do not want to go back.”
“Is that so...”
While wiping the glass, he felt annoyed by the woman’s gaze.
Wanting to say something, yet unwilling to speak out, that is why women are so troublesome. Gentlemen are more suitable for this kind of establishment, not troublesome women. Barring women from entering… is impossible, it would be too disrespectful to the Supreme Beings. I really messed up this time.
The one who invited her was none other than himself. This was the result of him greeting her out of concern on the ninth floor upon seeing her distraught appearance. He now regretted his actions, but since he had offered to be a host, it was also necessary for him to display etiquette as a bar owner to customer.
Even though I am serving drinks made sloppily, I have to handle this properly!
Having resolved himself, he asked:
“What is the matter, Shalltear-sama?”
In that moment the woman, Shalltear, prepared to answer as if she was waiting all along for this question to be asked, proving that his conjecture was correct.
“Sorry, but I do not wish to talk about it.”
Stop kidding me. His face involuntarily contorted, but since he was a mushroom man, the woman could not comprehend his facial movements. Neither did she say anything, merely continuing to toy with the drink glass on the counter.
“A bit drunk?”
“...Yes, that is true.”
...That is not possible.
Shalltear seemed to feel that she was already drunk, but he was certain that it was impossible.
Intoxication and poison were seen as the same kind, so a person who had absolute immunity against poison could not possibly be drunk. Of course, Shalltear, being undead, was immune to toxins and could not become drunk. Basically, those who came to his store either unequip poison neutralising items, or knew that they would not be drunk and just wanted to enjoy this atmosphere.
Except, Shalltear genuinely felt that she was drunk, intoxicated due the atmosphere.
Well then, what to do? He thought. Fortunately at this moment he heard the ringing sound of salvation. He lowered his head to the arriving customer.
“It’s good to see you, Piki.”
The person who shouted out the nickname given to him because of his mushroom-like appearance. He was a regular patron here, the butler assistant by the name of Eckleya, accompanied by the male servant who was carrying him.
As usual, Eckleya was silently placed upon the chair. For Eckleya who was one meter in height, sitting on the tall bar stools was a difficult task.
Piki felt it was odd that Shalltear didn’t made any greeting. He turned to face her, and found her with her head facing downwards as she was mumbling something. Listening carefully, it seemed that she was making an apology to the Supreme Being.
Eckleya ordered wine with fake grandiose:
Hearing that, only one specific drink floated to mind, one which involved the synthesis of ten different strong spirits to produce a ten coloured drink: the Nazarick.
The exterior appearance was extremely beautiful, and the taste was deeply satisfying, with regular customers often commenting that it deserved the name of Nazarick. However it was not something he would recommend to others.
In order to make it even more delicious, he had gone through much trial and error, and it was still incomplete.
With skillful movements he produced the ten-coloured drink, and placed it in front of Eckleya.
“The lady over there, please try this.”
After this, a ‘plick...plock...bang’ noise could be heard.
Eckleya wanted to slide the cup over to her on the counter. However that move was something only found in mangas or performed by people with great skill, and definitely not something a penguin could pull off.
Piki picked up the dropped glass, confirmed that it was not damaged and let out a sigh of relief. He then took out a cloth and wiped the spilled drink off the counter. With displeased eyes, he spoke slowly:
“Could you please refrain from waving your flipper around? If you insist on doing that, I will put you in a basin and push you out.”
“...I’m really sorry.”
Becoming aware of Eckleya for the first time, Shalltear raised her head and greeted.
“Ah, if it isn’t Eckleya. It’s been a while.”
“A while… But we see each other every time I come to the ninth floor.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes it is, but… I hardly ever see you in this bar. I thought that only Guardians like Demiurge come here. Last time, him and Cocytus came together to appreciate their drinks quietly.”
“Oh, is that so?”
Hearing her colleague’s words, Shalltear’s eyes widened.
“What’s the problem? Why are you acting like this?”
“It’s no big deal… No... I’ve committed a grave mistake, that is why I’m finding comfort in alcohol, just like a failure would.”
Eckleya made a subtle facial gesture towards Piki, silently enquiring “What is it with this girl?”, but Piki didn’t reply to this, and merely shook his head.
Since he wanted to give them a more enjoyable drinking experience, he asked:
“To lighten up the mood, how about some apple juice?”
The two of them were surprised by this suggestion.
“Made from apples picked from the sixth floor.”
Their curiosity were aroused and both of them nodded at the same time. Their straightforward reaction gave Piki a strong sense of satisfaction.
What was then placed on the table were two portions of unremarkable apple juice. His eyes drifted over to the male servant, but as usual, his offer was declined.
Of course, Eckleya had a penguin’s beak, so he had not forgotten to include a straw.
“A refreshing taste.”
“Although it isn’t bad, it lacks impact… Perhaps it is not sweet enough?”
That was the impression the two people had after finishing it in one go.
“Well, it cannot be helped. I tasted a sample when I brought it over, and compared to those stored in Nazarick, its flavour is insufficient.”
“There are apple trees on the sixth floor? I don’t recall there being any.”
Wherever Shalltear had heard of this impression before, she gave the correct answer before Piki replied:
“Could it be that it is the one which Ainz-sama brought back? I heard from Albedo that he was experimenting to see if outside fruits could be cultivated in Nazarick, to serve as replenishable consumables.”
Piki had also heard of this.
Apart from this, he had also accepted various foods from the outside because it was his task to confirm if it were possible to produce ability boosting cuisine.
“That’s right, I heard that too. If the plan goes smoothly, next would be cultivating fruit orchards, but it looks like the sweetness is still lacking by far.”
“No, it’s not like it is undrinkable. I would prefer this if I am looking for a refreshing sweetness.”
“...Then who is doing the cultivation at the moment? Aura and Mare are out, could it be that this responsibility... has been given to the monsters?”
“No, no. It’s delegated to the forest sprite that Ainz-sama brought back from the outside.”
Wondering who it was, Eckleya made a puzzled expression, whereas Shalltear let out an expression of realization.
“What is happening? Have there been new people joining Nazarick?”
Shalltear answered Eckleya’s question. Although Piki had seen the forest sprite, he did not know how the situation came to be and so he perked his ears to listen.
It seemed that the forest sprite was brought back after the battle to confirm the guardians’ teamwork. As a result of some agreement, it came to Nazarick and became an apple farmer.
<TL: Events from Drama CD 1>
“Nazarick is also evolving, becoming more powerful.”
Both Piki and Shalltear agreed with Eckleya’s words.
As deputy chef, Piki had no idea of the future plans for the Great Tomb of Nazarick. But now he understood that Ainz Ooal Gown, the final remaining Supreme Being, had put his full effort in gaining power in this world and becoming more powerful.
“I see. Then in the future there may be more entities like that forest sprite joining the ranks of Nazarick.”
Shalltear puffed up her cheeks and vented her dissatisfaction at Eckleya.
“I detest this. For this place created by the Supreme Beings… Why should those filthy things be allowed to roam these grounds?”
He also shared the same sentiment. This place was blessed with the presence of the Supreme Beings. For those who were born in this place, the mere thought of outsiders being allowed to enter would cause them to frown, but there was a point more important than his personal thoughts.
“We have to endure this. It is Ainz-sama’s decision after all.”
The highest Supreme Being, Ainz Ooal Gown’s decision was absolute. If he said something white was black, then it must be black.
“I did not mean to question Ainz-sama’s decisions!”
Towards the panicking Shalltear, the two others also nodded in agreement.
“Then in the future we also need to become role models, displaying more loyalty to Ainz-sama. I don’t think anybody but you will rebel against Ainz-sama.”
“That is true. Speaking of which, how is it Shalltear? If you join me now, I will grant you an even higher status in the future—”
Eckleya’s started his usual recruitment talk— which would never succeed, but was interrupted by a strange scream.
Both men’s stares were directed at Shalltear who was covering her head and ceaselessly professing her loyalty.
“...What happened? Her tone is different from normal too.”
In response to the astounded Eckleya, Piki shook his head and shrugged.
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