The kingdom of Ostoberg. It was a kingdom located to the southeast of Arcadia. They had about the same amount of lands compared to Arcadia and their climate was pretty much the same as well. If one was to say a difference, it would be that the temperature was slightly higher there. Besides that, to the south, they bordered with the superpower, the kingdom of Garias, a military country that was famous for how they kept Ostoberg´s invasions in check. The kingdom of Ostoberg was a country that was considered one of the seven kingdoms.
“Gahaha, congratulations, your Majesty!”
At the major power of the kingdom of Ostoberg, a change was happening. At the present moment, the hero of Ostoberg, the [Black Gold] Strakules, was lowering his head to a certain person…
“No, it´s nothing to be proud of. It was Strakules that did all the hard work. I believe it is very unforgivable that I asked a hero like you to lose a battle not many days after I had asked you to meddle with Garias.”
It was a skinny youth of fifteen years old. His lustrous hair made it feel like “a good person” aura flowed from his eyes and his whole body. In addition, this aura would dissolve any kind of suspicion against him. Everyone would come to like the youth and nobody would be guarded around him. If one was to describe him in a few words, it would be that he was a very likeable person.
The youth lowered his head to Strakules and the place became noisy.
“…You majesty, if a king thoughtlessly lowers his head, it sullies his reputation.”
Hearing Strakule´s advice, the youth showed a surprised expression.
“Ho-however, Strakules. I have responsibility in having sent you to do unfavorable tasks. It is impossible for me to ignore that and keep holding my head high.”
The youth showed a smile. With just that, the place became calm again. Strakules sighed and showed a smile to the youth. In response to that, the youth made an even broader smile. Simply by that, despite all the people at the place being in the presence of their king, there could be felt a trace of a cozy feeling in the mood.
“Because the previous king has died and the domestic situation of the kingdom is unstable, it is now the time we need to be careful the most.”
“Uh, sorry Kimon, for not being so reliable.”
“…If your Majesty makes such a face, I will be the one looking like the villain.”
Strakules second in command, Kimon, who had been in his guard all this time, had immediately been charmed by the youth´s demeanor.
“Well, but since we saw through the instability, we´ve already cut out the most important factor for the instability. That place we were at disadvantage; all they value is honor.”
They had thrown away Raconia on purpose. This was something everyone present at the place had agreed on.
Originally, they didn´t have any reasons to attack, but the last command of the previous king was that they were to take back Raconia at all costs, which resulted in that big war. Even if they had taken Raconia, Ostoberg, which now had just changed kings, wouldn´t have the spare time to be able to hold onto that. Therefore, they had thrown it away. So their plans would not be seen through, and so their instability would not be clearly shown, they meticulously took measures…
“The previous king was a good man. He properly chose his successor and took precautions about the question of the succession line so that things wouldn´t get problematic. The last invasion at Raconia was reckless, but this too was for the sake of his Majesty.”
“I know that, Strakules. Father has given me the chance of prestige to the me who is still weak by having me have the chance to capture Raconia. Why would I have any reason to resent my father´s last act of love.”
Kimon listened to the conversation while having dreary thoughts in his mind.
The previous king wasn´t a fool, but he definitely wasn´t a wise person. The invasion of Raconia he ordered at his last moments was all for him to be able to leave his name in the history. He didn´t have any love for his son; only after all the efforts from Strakules and Kimon was that the youth was able to be elevated to the position of the successor of the crown. If Strakules had remained neutral, it wouldn´t be possible for the youth to be sitting at the throne now, and instead, much more now, he would have been caught at the dire affair the dispute for the throne was.
“Besides, even if father is not here anymore, all of you are here for me. You all are like my own father. I will be counting on you, everyone. Let´s all work together and have Ostoberg prosper!”
It was a voice that had no ambition in it. However, everyone in the place became filled with energy. This too was because of the virtue the youth held. Although this was the only weapon the youth had, it was the most potent of all.
“By the way, I have some sweets. Let´s eat them together.”
He was a swindler.(TL note: I am not sure if this is being said in the literal meaning. It might mean in the way that the youth swindled the people by “honestly being nice to them”, but it still being swindling because all those people yielded to him just because he was nice to them. Later on, in the text, it doesn´t say anywhere the youth is really deceiving the people. Rather, it feels more like the youth is really like that.)
Strakules had the belief of not participating in the politics. However, that power was the reason why he had supported the youth to become the king to the point he would go against that belief.
At the present situation of his reign, there already weren´t any more political enemies. No, while there had been, all of them were drawn to the king´s side. This wasn´t something done by deceiving; all was simply him gathering his enemies and meeting them with the intent of naturally becoming friends, which ended up as all of them coming to his side. It was a power that didn´t have any selfishness, and moreover, it was the strongest and it was an unparalleled power.
He didn´t have any enemies. Therefore, he was invincible.
He was the eighth generation in the reign Ostoberg, Elunst Dar Ostoberg. He was the wise rule of their next generation that the hero, Strakules, had fallen in love with in the first sight. There was nobody that could oppose that jaded smile.
“By the way, Kimon. About that brat… Did you kill him or let him live?”
After having finished his report to Elunst, Strakules was now walking at a corridor at the royal palace together with Kimon. In respect to Strakules, Kimon was walking slightly behind him.
“He was able to stay alive by his own efforts.”
In a very simple way, Kimon simply stated the outcome of the test. Strakules became slightly surprised after hearing that.
“He had ran away from your hands? From the [Black Sheep]´s hands? Gahahahaha!”
As if he had become satisfied with the report, Strakules was showing a smile and started to imagine about the next battles that were to come…
“…I regretted having let him escape.”
Kimon was in a mood different from his usual. Compared to how he would usually be, he was lacking confidence.
“Perhaps, one day, he might become a poison to his Majesty and your Excellency. I am having the feeling it will. Each day I think about it, I feel as if I am becoming more certain about it.”
To Kimon, who would usually answer things in a simple way, those were soft words that didn´t come out of his mouth very often.
“I can have enough of it; I can´t! To think I would be able to taste new things even after becoming of this age! That´s why I can´t stop going to war! Guhaha, I can´t have enough of it!”
Kimon´s worries were wiped away in an instant. That unripe young man wasn´t someone that would be able to do as he pleased against the monster in front of his eyes; this monster that had been born just for the sake of war. At least, he wouldn´t be able to catch up in time while Strakules is still in good health. After becoming confident of that, Kimon was now certain.
“The black brat from Garius and the white brat from Arcadia, and then, his Majesty. Also, with those knights from the prospering kingdom of Arkland, even if the seven kingdoms are still going strong, I can´t read what is going to happen in the future at all. It is because of that that it is so great. It is really great!”
The existence of that man was too heavy. Would even this world in chaos be capable of shaking that man..?
“Will they be eaten by me, or will they eat me… Guhah, now it became interesting!”
Much more now that he grew old, the hero became even more domineering.
“Hey, Volf. Where are we going next?”
At the north was Ostoberg, and at the south was the central sea, which was the foundation of all commerce. To the east was a mountain range, and at the west, there was a conglomerate of small countries, which was the greatest nation of the world in this generation, Garius. (TL note: Would this be considered an empire? It was never stated in the story before-.- My guess is that it something similar to a commonwealth-ish kingdom)
Those people were a group that were now near the proximities of the borders of the western side. Their encampment was built to make space for a hundred people. The night shone with the red of the bonfires. (TL note: The word used to refer to the red color is ->茜<- which means “madder”, which apparently is some kind of plant. I´ve never heard of it before .-.)
“Ah… For now, how about buying a beautiful nee-chan with the money we got from the war and going to paradise at some island at the central sea in the south.”
The one named Volf was a person that one couldn´t be distinguished between a man or a woman. His head was hit.
“We had to come all our way to Garius to pay for all our debt because you did that the last time! B-besides, you took the money of the whole company all to yourself for that!”
Volf, who had his head beaten, looked at another direction from the eyes of the woman while saying “ouch ouch”.
“…It´s just because they are women that those slaves keep escaping.”
“…The reason my charm doesn´t reach them is because they don´t have any sense of beauty, yes.”
“You are always too greedy. Besides, you are too soft on women. If I was around at that time, I would have killed that slave woman.”
“Like I said before, I did it in the spur of the moment.”(TL note: ->だーから、一人でやったんだっちゅーに<- I´m not sure about this line. Even the person helping me wasn´t sure about it, so I can´t say this is really right T.T At least, it has a good chance of being it because it makes sense 0.0)
“Thaaat´s why I said you are too soft on women!”
The two quarreling was the usual sight. The people at their surroundings kept doing their business, treating that as something normal. Actually, there were pretty much nobody that was on guard duty. All of them were each relaxedly taking their time as they wished.
“Fine then. I can forgive that you are soft on women and that you are too negligent. …But there is no way I can for having been about to die.”
With the tone of that voice suddenly being lowered, the girly man became dejected. Volf´s expression became cloudy.
“…Sorry. To be fair, I was being too pretentious. I didn´t know a monster of that power existed in this world.”
What Volf was talking about was something that happened one month ago at a skirmish between Garius and Ostoberg. They didn´t know why that skirmish was happening at that time, but Volf and her company decided to participate at that war that suddenly happened as mercenaries. The result of that was that they raised many achievements. However, at only one occasion, they suffered a very rough defeat.
“[Black Gold] Strakules. That guy is a monster. He was stronger than anyone I´ve ever met. He was good at commanding, and so was his personal strength. I couldn´t compete with him at all. Besides that, he actually spared my life!”
At that moment, everyone´s eyes who had been looking somewhere else before all gathered at that place.
“That genius, strong, cool and handsome man had spared me!”
If it was the usual, Volf would have done some kind of tsukkomi somewhere at that declaration, but because his angry expression and also because of the black shadow that was gushing out of Volf for those that could see it, the people around were feeling pressured. (TL note: In the japanese comedy, the tsukkomi happens a lot. Tsukkomi is when a person does or says something stupid, and the other guy says something about it, doing a tsukkomi. Think of it as “adding a joke”)
“I agree with you about the genius and strong part, but about him being cool and handsome…. Besides, this ruins all your point.”
Among all the people, there was only one that was calm.
“Shut up Nikka. Either way, that was really humiliating. Even though it is already surprising that there were people more outstanding than me, even that general´s sheep bastard is stronger. I am depressed. Really depressed.”
The macho woman named Nikka violently scratched her head.
“Yooou knooow, you are going against the army of a country and his general. Besides, it is one of the seven kingdoms. It would be stranger if you were to win. How many times do I need to tell you?”
Volf became teary and started to sniff because of Nikka´s scolding words.
“It´s because… I promised I would definitely not lose.”
“It was Lilya, right? I know about that. But even so, you should know it is the end once you are dead, right? You need to live in order to have a chance to get revenge. If you die, I will be alone. If that happens, it will be reeeeally lonely.”
There was a small locket hanging by Volf´s chest. In the whole world, probably only the two of them remembered about the person drawn in the picture inside the locket. To the two, that person was an existence there was no replacement to.
“I know, I know. I won´t lose. And I also won´t die. I might be reckless, but I won´t overdo. It should be fine like that, right, Nikka?”
Volf silently opened the locket and looked at the picture of the smiling girl that was inside it. Those were the vestiges of the memories about the little country distant at the north Volf used to live at before it had been destroyed. They weren´t able to do anything. They weren´t able to save anyone, nor able to allow the dead to rest in peace. Just like that, all they could do was to remain alive. All they could do was to blame their weak selves. (TL note: In the raw, the “nor able to allow the dead rest in peace” is ->楽しませてあげる<-. By reading what I wrote, some might think that they weren´t able to bury the corpses or something. I believe that it actually means that they weren´t able to take revenge on the dead, and so, not being able to have them rest in peace knowing the people that killed them are dead.)
“…Ou. Then, let´s have it decided in the next battle. We aren´t weak anymore. However, we aren´t strong enough to be letting our guards down. In order to become strong… we need to experience more of the world! We are ten years early from the paradise at the south countries.”
Nikka sat at the big bonfire located in the middle of the encampment which many people were gathered nearby.
“Thank you for the manzai.”(TL note: Manzai = type of japanese comedy.)
Whistlings and cheers like “How hot!” and “It´s fine even if you are a macho woman. Please, let me do it with you!” came from the surroundings. Nikka looked at the man that called her a macho man and threw a knife she slipped from her wrist. The man fell down in surprise.(TL: whistle´s onomatopoeias all suck!)
“I am not your wife, and I am also not a macho woman! I am a fully-fledged girl, you stupid bastard!”
Now would be the time for people to fall silent. For those that started to laugh at such time lacked one or two screws in their head. After giving a snort, Nikka returned to the place she was sitting.
“Ten years, huh. Will we be able to get to that level after ten years? At the level of that monster.”
The man sitting next to Nikka said while sighing.
“We will catch up. It´s just that Volf is that much of a genius, strong and also hardworking. There is nobody that battles on worse conditions than him. That´s why all we need to do is to surpass him. Once we surpass him, there will be nobody that will be able to get to our level. Volf is an awesome guy after all, yes.”
Nikka´s cheeks were slightly reddened. Whether it was because of the bonfire, or because or something else…
“Well, it is because Volf is [fast]. All we are doing is desperately running after him so that we are not left behind. If. While we are desperately running after him, we might leave everyone else behind. And then… the [Noir guard] will become the strongest.” (TL note: I´m not sure if the guard part is correct. The name in katakana is ノワール・ガルー, which is above the japanese one in little letters ->黒の傭兵団<-. Since there is this 傭兵団, I guess it should be guard? Katakana engrish is always like that anyways -.-)
Noir Guard. This was the name of the mercenary group everyone here was part of. The leader was Volf. The second-in-commands were Nikka, and also the mild man she was talking to right now.
“Wolfs will band together after all. There isn´t any living thing that can win against wolves that stay together.”
The black wolves were silently sharpening their fangs and claws. They were still a small group, but for the sake of one day gourge their fangs onto the word, they would go to wars and diligently train themselves.
“Hey, so it is really no good even if it only one?”
“It´s obvious it is no good! You bastard, I will have you do a rocket dogeza a hundred times!”
Under the starry sky, the jet black wolves were lively moving around.
Distant to the east, across the sea, there was a big island. On this continent that was called Garnia, there were many small countries. Those would get destroyed, and many others would be founded, and then those would be destroyed; and so on the cycle would continue. This displayed well the aspect of this generation of warring states that was whirling in chaos.
Among all those small countries, there was a country that shined like brilliant stars. Its name was Arkland.
“Hime-sama, the wind of the night is poison to the health.”
“Yes, I will be here just for a short while.”
Since its founding, it has been five years, and not even three years has passed since its name changed to Arkland. However, in only those two years, its name was made know throughout Garnia, and after those three years after the change of the crown, let alone Garnia, it had its name thundered through even the seven kingdoms, which were across the sea.
“At the other side of that mountain, across the sea, there are wars bigger than those at Garnia. Doesn´t it make you excited, Sir Beilin? In my case… I am so excited, but so excited I can´t bear.”
The man called Beilin could see the big fire blazing inside the girl that hadn´t even come to age.
“I love war. I also love the blood, the iron; all this is dear to me. I wonder if I am mad. Is this fire that burns my body the evidence of this curse, or not?”
The beautiful red haired girl tenderly stroked the sword that was at her waist.
“Mad is fine. Hime-sama may stay as the warring maiden Apolonia of Arkland. All of us Arknights accept everything hime-sama will face against, and will cut all enemies.”
Seeming like she was satisfied of his answer, although the girl named Apolonia was looking at the night sky full of stars, at the great lands at the other side of the mountains, she was showing a gentle smile.
“Leave some for me to kill.”
“As you will.”
The girl that didn´t have even seventeen years, Apolonia of Arkland. This girl was Arkland´s main factor for their rapid progress, and was without doubt, the person ruling Arkland.
“Besides, I am not a princess anymore. You should stop calling me princess, Sir Beilin.”
“Ha, I am very sorry, your Majesty, queen Apolonia.”
“…This sounds creepy.”
Three years ago, at the young age of fourteen, Apolonia succeeded the throne. The king abdicated the throne by his own will and gave the crown to Apolonia. For the sake of Arkland´s prosperity, the strongest person must be the one to become the king. Therefore, Apolonia became the king. She became stronger than anyone and became more capable of being the king than anyone. Because of that…
“From times to times, you may call me princess. Now then, tomorrow will also be war. Today we should rest, and tomorrow we are to trample down the enemy!”
“As you will!”
The continent of Garnia was being burn by a fire called Arkland. At the moment, this fire was only gathered at Garnia. However, if one day it comes that it spreads outside of it, it wasn´t known whether even the seven kingdoms would be able to stop it. A fire that would burn to this extent was what the kingdom of Arkland, and its ruler, Apolonia, were waiting.
“Ah, where is the battlefield that will make my heart race.”
The fire called Apolonia was becoming more intense and was burning the continent.