~ Chapter 110: Rumors and whispers (Part 2) ~
“What would that be?” I asked.
“Well, in some of our ancient documents, there is a time period that coincides with the appearance of the first Demon Kings and the Demon God Awakening event that supposedly shattered the continent to the far East. In this period of time, the scales of a dragon determined their value in society. Whether or not you were inferior or superior was determined by this and for many centuries, it was believed to be a trait passed down from mother to daughter and father to son. Thus, the brown-scales were at the bottom of society, while the gold-scales were at the top. In that period of time, there was a heavy discrimination between scales and some of it still lingers even in our present day.” he said.
“I think Kataryna also told me something similar about the country she was born into. There, nobility was seen as vastly superior to the commoners, and they acted upon that presumed superiority by tormenting and killing the latter. It was a terrible time to be born into the lower classes. If not for Kataryna's actions in their final war and the advancement of Albeyater, that cruel kingdom would still be here, today.” I said.
“There's not that much philosophy behind the who and the why. It's simple. Humans and almost all sapient species simply want someone to hate and kill. It's part of their foolish nature.” Kalderan scoffed.
“Nya~ Don't they all just choose to be like that? All fish want to be fish! Just like all humans want to be humans!” Tamara said as she looked up at us.
Once more, her strange comments led to the subject at hand being closed and we all just smiled wryly at each other.
This topic of conversation like many others similar to it were sensitive in their own manner, however, considering the time period and evolution of this world, there was still a chance to help prevent the mistakes of Earth from appearing here as well. At the same time, I feared there were those who rejoiced in the idea of introducing such sinister concepts into this fragile world.
However, what really caught my attention from this conversation had nothing to do with either discrimination based on physical differences or birth place, but rather the things that Coshun mentioned. There was a time period when the Demon Kings didn't exist. There was also a Demon God Awakening event of which I had never heard of before and which was presumably responsible for the destruction of an entire continent.
I remembered that the Godlike also told us, Human Heroes, that we came to this world in order to fight against the Demon Kings, but as one were to guess, we never encountered them so far. The Demon Lords were also a big mystery to us, it was almost as if we were still in a Tutorial Stage. But back in the Seculiar Forest, I did encounter creatures that could be called corrupted. They looked different and oozed of a black aura similar to that of the entity I encountered before we reached Mathias Town.
After we got something to eat, I decided to head out and look around the village, to see if there were any interesting rumors popping up. The current political and military situation of the Ten Swords Kingdom was in a fragile state, and I wanted to know just how much the people believed in the decisions of either their King or Queen. While everyone else was doing their own thing, I perked my ears up and listened to the passing whispers in the wind.
I walked down the main road and from time to time pretended to drink from my mug. There was only a bit of ale left in it.
While I did this, I heard from a guard how he didn't like the way the nobles kept raising the taxes and then pretending to never had done it before. While this could be a simple case of noble corruption, a merchant confirmed that it wasn't so. The export and import taxes didn't help the foreign merchants at all and only forced them to keep their products away from the Ten Swords Kingdom.
There were a few retired soldiers among a caravan's guards. When I got close to them, I heard them talking about the military situation at the capital. There were a bunch of unknown soldiers there, most likely from the Akutan Empire. The number of soldiers who got fired from the army were also on the rise, almost as if they were trying to disarm the country to make it easier for an invading force to take over.
Thinking about it, that powerful entity I met back then was in the middle of a battle with an Akutan military force. What were they even doing over there, armed to the teeth as if they were ready to start a war? Maybe that was their purpose in the first place?
“The Princess... did they kill her already?”
I stopped in my tracks when I heard him.
When I turned my head in his direction, I saw a child asking this of his father, a brawny adventurer. The man looked down at him and then put on a gentle smile.
“I don't know, but if they did, we will make sure they will pay for it! The Princess... she has no fault in all of this.” he said.
“Why do they hate her, daddy?” the boy asked.
“Because she's the one who should inherit the throne from the king, and... from what I heard, she was protected by her Majesty the Queen from the influence of the other nobles. She's like a flower on top of a snowy mountain. She's strong and persevering against the cold winds. Even if they said she fled the Palace, I'm sure she did it just to survive.” he nodded.
“Survive from what? There are no monsters there, daddy.” the boy looked up at him with worried eyes.
“True, there are no monsters like those your old man hunts, but as I said before... there are nobles who lurked around her every day. They fly around her like scavenger vultures. If I was to meet her by chance, I would do my best to protect her!” he then began to brag about his power and many other past adventures.
The boy was listening to his father with an excited gaze in his eyes, but I got the information I wanted and moved on. From the looks of things, the people of Ten Swords were uncertain about their future and more importantly... about what would happen to them if they dared to go against their King and take the side of either their Princess or their Queen.
What I couldn't understand though was how did things even reached the point where the people had to make a ridiculous choice like this? It wasn't right, however, I couldn't do anything right now, but through my decision to shelter Ildea, it appeared as though I made my choice in this upcoming civil war.
As I made my way towards the camping area of the caravans that weren't able to find a spot at the inns, I noticed several warriors looking towards the makeshift training field, where the guards of this village were in the middle of honing their skills. These four big men wore armors made from processed animal parts, and their swords had steel blades attached to bone handles, and belts that were pinned with the sharp fangs of various monsters. From a single glance, I could tell that these four were adventurers. Only they were crazy enough to walk around the city with armors and weapons like those, but to be fair, they were far more powerful and durable than the ones found at the usual blacksmith's place.
When I walked up to them, the one to the far right noticed me and furrowed his brow. He scanned me with his gaze and then turned his eye back at the guards in the field.
“Stranger, how fast can you take down those two?” he asked motioning with his chin towards the two humans who walked into the middle of the field with drawn wooden swords.
I cast a quick glance at them and then replied “If it's with magic, then in the time you need to blink once. If it's with the sword than probably the same. Either way, it would be a very short, almost unnoticeable time.”
“You seem mighty confident in your skills.” he told me with a smirk.
“Not blindly confident if that's what you mean. I know when not to overestimate or underestimate my opponent.” I told him.
“A lot of the young'uns do make that mistake.” said the one next to him, he was wearing a helmet made from a monster's skull and still had the horns stuck to it.
He reminded me of a triceratops.
“Yeah, like them two fellas over there. Can ya imagine they went so brazenly as to declare that they would win in the Ten Swords Tournament?” he scoffed.
“Yeah, they be sayin' stuff like 'No one is better than brother Joe here, and none can beat my Lightning Sword!' Bah! A bunch o' kids playin' with their momma's broomsticks!” the oldest among them said, he was staying on the far left and wore a lizard skin armor, complete with back spikes.
“Indeed, they did!” the fourth one said, who was sitting between the old one and the guy with the horned helmet.
“But, stranger, you said you can defeat them mighty fast too. I'm guessin' you'll be sayin' stuff like takin' over the Ten Swords Tournament?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
I showed them a smile and then pointed at the tavern across the street.
“I'll buy you all a drink if you can tell me a little bit about this tournament and any other interesting thing you might have heard? You know, usual adventurer stuff. I'm not from around these parts, as you can see, and to be fair, this is the first time I actually heard of this Ten Swords Tournament. It sounds fun.” I smirked and patted the sword on my hip.
“Now this young’un I like!” laughed the old man.
Without any further ado, we moved to the tavern and took a seat at an empty table. The waitress brought us a round of ale and we took our time enjoying our drinks and conversation. I soon learned that the four of them were indeed Adventurers who came all the way from Blestarf City in the far South of the Ten Swords Kingdom. The monsters there were far more powerful than those found around these parts, mainly because the area was far wilder than others.
The oldest one among them was called Jundas. He was the father of Wolfgar, the one with the horned helmet. Mainer was the one who wore a lizard skin armor, and Uznard was the one who talked to me first. All of them were seasoned warriors who spent their lives in the forests or on the plains, hunting for monsters and making sure the area around their city was safe to live in.
When they introduced themselves, they told me of how wonderful Blestarf was and how mighty kind the people there were. Because of the abundance of monsters, they were used with wearing monster parts as armors and weapons, but it appeared as though other people didn’t think of this practice as fashionable or pleasant. Even their own City Lord and local nobles were sometimes called out to be barbarians with no sense of style. They didn't mind it though, seeing as how in a real fight, they were the ones to always come out on top.
The reason why they were knowledgeable about the noble life was because of Jundas' life experience. Throughout the years, he got to see a lot of different things and among them, the expressions of the foreign nobles were always one that stuck with him.
“But ye be askin' about the tournament, right lad?” Jundas asked after his third ale.
“Yes.” I nodded.
They gave me so useful info, so treating them to one or more beers wasn't such a bad deal for me.
“Well, here.” he said and then gave me a flier on which it was written with big letters 'The Ten Swords Tournament!'.
“Organized by his Grace and Beloved Majesty King Andarkuzzi Ammerundiel Kor... invites all brave warriors from across Ten Swords to participate in this onetime event... first prize 15000 gold coins and a wish? Second prize 10000 gold coins, and the third prize is going to be worth 5000 gold coins. No consolation prize, special prizes may be awarded too, such as becoming the personal instructor of the guards...” I mumbled as I read the flier.
The prize money does sound good, and a competition could be fun in a way. Maybe if we all apply to it we can find some interesting people as well? I wouldn't mind some positive reputation, and I have a feeling I'll need that at one point. Well, if I wish for this tournament to help me out in a positive way, then maybe it can work out? If not, I'll probably be stopped at the entrance. Hm, that could be the wish right there, a conditioned one. I thought and then decided to go for it.
As I handed back the flier, I asked them “So all of you are participating in this event?”
“Yeap! We could sure use them coins back in Blestarf. But you see, we don' be aimin' for no first prize! Oh that ain't one we can take. You see, we heard this darnest rumor that one of them Human Heroes will join the fray. He's like level 800 or something. If that monster joins, I'm afraid us four won't be a match for him even if we fought together.” Jundas said.
“Yah, he like be the best in the Ten Swords Kingdom! No knight can match him, not even foreign ones... They even say he was able to slay powerful monsters on the Dragon Continent like Dayuks and stuff.” Mainer added.
“And that's not all, I heard from a merchant a while back that he's been aiming for the Princess' hand, something along the lines it's a hero's destiny to be married with the Princess!” Wolfgar said.
“Of course, all of these are nothin' but rumors that might as well been spread to keep the fools out of the game. I could see a bunch of nobles spreading false rumors like that just so they can get their hand on that wish from the King.” Jundas pointed out.
“True.” I nodded.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
This is the first chapter after my break! 😀
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