Northern Empire, Holy City of the Triplet Mountain, Imperial City.
The royal guards of Imperial City's Morlaix Palace had witnessed that Nostradamus, the head of the archmages in the Empire Kingdom, walked out of the royal study room a few hours later with a solemn face. The expression on his face suggested that he was very worried. It seemed that he just learned about some really bad news.
But right after that, he shook his head and smiled comfortably. Then he activated his teleportation spell and left the vicinity of the palace.
In the beginning, the guards were not aware of anything at all. After all, Nostradamus was the mentor of the emperor when the emperor was still a teenager. The archmage had once assisted the Emperor in defeating the other princes and seized the throne to become the emperor he was today. Under the guidance of the great archmage as a consultant, the emperor that also defeated the orc army. Well, the both of them were rather close. Nostradamus did not even need to show any pass or order to enter and exit the palace. He could just walk in and out of the palace. Although his face looked a little stranger than usual this time, that was still within the acceptable range.
They originally thought that this was just an ordinary teacher-student meet up. After all, the emperor had just vanquished the Orc Palace. So it would be a normal thing for the two of them to catch up with each other after that.
However, even though that statement was generally true at that moment, there was still a very slight difference this time.
Starfall Year 832, 23rd of July. After giving it some thought, analyzing and researching about it over a few days, a secret order was secretly passed down to all member of the Empire Kingdom's high-level and all superior forces in the Empire Kingdom through all sorts of channels.
Meanwhile, the person who gave the secret order was in fact Israel Diamond, the emperor of the Empire Kingdom himself.
Across the fortresses in the South, the northern territory with two dukes, the outpost at the northern mountains, the land in the North and also the border shores at the east side, it did not take long before the secret order reached down to all of the related people because of the convenience that magic could provide. After that, other than central of the Empire Kingdom, every other region had started making their move.
Some of them frowned and some of them were worried. Some people disapproved, and more of them had even begun making intense preparations for battle.
The army that was originally joyful after getting rid of the orcs was currently occupied with the tasks at hand once again. Of course, they appeared to be following their daily training routine. However, anyone could still smell that something was off. Even if it was declared that the army was just training as usual, the tension formed before a war was inevitable.
Moreover, the administrative departments of the city that were done with work were getting ready for the celebration had also begun gathering foods and supplies. They also started reshuffling their official work. Meanwhile, most of those official work were not ordinary at all. They were actually special works regarding preparation for the anti-aircraft attacks. The soldiers on the lower ground were still good. As the high-ranking officers, many could tell by a glance that these fortifications were not aimed to defend against ordinary civilized races. Instead, they seemed to be guarding against some sort of beasts that could fly in the air.
For example, dragons!
In the royal study room of Morlaix Palace, the emperor of the Empire Kingdom placed an orc's skull at the corner of a table. The skull had no decoration or whatsoever over it. The scars and cracks on it were not repaired at all. Even so, it was the one and only, the most precious collection on the entire surface of the table.
Well, the reason was that the skull was last of the orcs that were now extinct. Without any accidents, this would be the most outstanding feat that the emperor had over the final war with the last of the orcs that he eradicated.
Emotionally speaking, Israel was naturally willing to believe what Nostradamus said.
He was particularly interested in what Joshua said about the dragon attacks. The emperor of Imperial City had his own 'channel' to get the news, to analyze the information he gathered and to understand it all. One should know that the incidents of dragons raiding villagers had been all over the place now. That sort of incidents did not just happen in the North. If the emperor were to disregard the incidents, he would only think that those incidents could only be the repercussions of the Dark Tide. However, it would be suspicious if he thought about it from other perspectives.
Even though he was born in the military, the process of him winning all his way to the throne he now had today was not peaceful and harmonious at all. Even so, Israel could not sit and watch the dragons causing massive panic and devour the people of his kingdom. He had yet to reach the point where he turned cold-blooded.
Because of that, although there was no definite proof about the rumors he heard from Joshua, he still made the decision to make preparations. He gave the orders to so that his people would be prepared for the attacks that might come upon them. Meanwhile, he also gave the secret order to carry out an investigation on the Pentashade Dragons.
In the meantime, Moldavia in the North.
The incident where their baron slew the dragons were slowly spreading.
That was actually normal though. After all, no one had received any order nor did they give any order about concealing the news about Joshua slaying the dragons. Back then, when Joshua rode on Black as he made his way out of the city, everyone had their eyes wide open as they witnessed their baron riding out of the city. So all it took was a few of them to talk and spread the news before the entire city knew about what happened.
Regardless of whether it was the local mercenary guilds or the adventurers that gathered at the city from the suburbs, regardless of whether it was the hotels or the motels by the streets, everyone would be talking about it as they found themselves at the bottom of their bottles. They even swore that they had once seen a few huge skulls of dragon's head being hung on the walls in hall of the liege's mansion as decorations. The dragon skulls alone should be enough to prove their baron's deed.
If Joshua ever got to hear about this, he would have burst into laughter. Truth be told, these bragging adventurers did not get it wrong though. However, the two dragon skulls that were placed in the liege's mansion belonged to the Corrupted Black Dragon and the Rimetooth Dragon he encountered and slew in the past. None of them belonged to any of the white dragons he slew in the recent event though.
In the meantime, in the northern region of the city, the family of a scholar welcomed two new members.
Edward who was nearly seventy years old had hair graying at the temples. He was wearing alchemy glasses when he was standing by the front of the door together with his female servant. He was looking at the two children that seemed anxious and uncomfortable. His gray eyes were filled with kindness and love.
The boy and the girl standing in front of them had the same white-blond hair. The girl had a long ponytail. The boy, looking just like his father, had a short braid of a hunter. Both of them had gray eyes just like regular folk in the North. Hence, it was pretty obvious that they were born of the pure bloodline in the North.
"Ivan, Amelia, you don't have to be afraid."
Taking a step forward, the old man placed the two children in his arms. His voice was full of compassion. He reassured the poor children who had just lost their parents not long ago. "Children, grandpa is here for you. Grandpa's house will be your new home."
Truth to be told, Edward was not the father of Andre the Hunter. In fact, Edward was his younger uncle. However, he did not want to be a hunter back in his home. Hence, after having a conflict with his family, he left home and followed the Draconic Caravan all the way to Imperial City to start a new life.
Ten years later, he returned from the city after he had learned everything he needed. After returning to the North, he became a teacher to the scholars. However, because of his previous conflict with his family, he did not contact his family much. Well, he only went back a couple of times when his parents and his elder brother passed away. Because of that, it was natural that the old man and his elder brother were not close to each other. However, after the old man found out about the death of his elder brother and his elder brother's wife, he felt as if his world was falling apart. He even almost fainted. Well, he did not have any child of his own. Furthermore, it was quite a shocking news to hear that one's brother and the wife were murdered by draconic beasts out of the blue as well.
Even ordinary civilians were very concerned about having their bloodlines continuing in this world. Hence, upon suffering such a huge blow mentally, even he who was a calm person would not be able to endure that kind of mental blow. Fortunately, after that, his female servant in the house had heard a rumor that among all of the villagers that were slaughtered, two children survived the onslaught. Meanwhile, those two children were the children of Andre the Hunter. So, between the great sadness and the great joy, the scholar immediately looked for someone to find the children of his elder brother. Then he asked them to be delivered to his home.
Being hugged by the old man who claimed to be his grandfather, Ivan was still feeling a little nervous. But his intuition as a child told him that the old man was not malicious to him and his sister. The old man was full of genuine joy and love. Hence, the body of the little boy that was tensed up pretty bad slowly softened up. The boy even felt the grief for his parents' passing that was once overshadowed by his anxiousness and fear rising up to his chest.
However, right after that, he held his tears and his emotions back. Instead, he shook his head and spoke out softly with his young yet tough voice of a child, "I will not forget."
" what's not to forget?"
Edward was shocked as he paused. He was a little puzzled by what he heard from the little boy.
Ivan and his little sister looked each other in the eyes and took a deep breath at the same time. "I'll never forget about those monsters!"
Those monsters! Those dragons!
They had destroyed his village and slaughtered his loving parents, scorching everything sweet in his memory away Although he would still feel terrified whenever he recalled on the presence of the dragons that came raiding over his village, he was never going to forget that the dragons were his enemies of a lifetime!
Even though the boy had heard rumors about their baron going ahead to the dragon's lair and annihilating them, his hatred towards the dragon did not reduce even by the slightest bit.
Creature like the dragons should not exist in this world in the first place!
Having looked in the eyes with the young little boy as he heard the determined words spoken by the little Ivan himself, Edward could not help but remain in silence for a moment. After that, he revealed a genuine smile on his face. He even laughed aloud afterward. His laughter gradually became louder as he laughed.
After laughing aloud, he praised the little boy loudly. The old man's eyes were flashing with the same light as the little boy's eyes did. He heavily patted on the shoulder of the little boy and spoke in a determined tone, "You did not get traumatized by the dragons even after you've experienced such a tragic event. That's great! The bloodline of our family will always flow in our veins. The hunter's blood! Even threatened with death, we shall never fear our prey!"
Hatred could only create more new hatred, but hatred was also the greatest motivation. As a scholar, Edward naturally understood that truth.
However, he was definitely not a person who would spread words persuading people to cast aside hatred. As a northern man having the same northern blood flowing in his veins, he would never be able to abandon his bad temper even after he traveled and studied for over ten years in Imperial CityIf you were beaten by someone, you should just beat the crap out of the person who did it. The enemy must bleed if you were bleeding because of the enemy. Even if it means death, you would drag the *sshole down to hell with you!
A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye! If the dragons had slaughtered his parent, he would make dragon slaying the work of his remaining days. That would be the most ordinary logic a northern man could believe in.
"Me too, I have the same thoughts!"
Right by their side, the little girl Amelia also clenched her fists as she spoke out as loud as she could, "I want to be just like Brother! I want to go with you if you are going to kill those monsters!"
"Okay! You're all good kids!!"
Listening to Ivan and Amelia shouting out and seeing them so determined, Edward laughed out loud. Then he hugged the two children into his arm in excitement. "Grandpa will provide you the best education and training there are even if grandpa has to spend all of grandpa's savings! Ouch!"
The movement of the old man suddenly stiffened up. "My waist..."
Meanwhile, the female servant who was standing at the side all that time quickly went up to the old man as if she was already very familiar with the situation. She helped the old man to put down the two children in his arms. Then the female servant picked up the old man who had a sudden sprain in his waist and put him on her strong shoulder. Then she sent the old man back to his room. While being escorted by the servant, the little boy and the little girl had also walked into the house after obediently following her steps.
As night fell gradually, the lights in this small house were lit as well. The place was very quiet before the arrival of the children. Now, the place was filled with the vibrant sounds of the children. The scent of nice food was filling up the air around the place. Everyone seemed to have found their own purpose and goals.
In the meantime, in a small village in the Western Hills.
A blond holy knight was holding a war hammer. He was wearing white armor bathed in blood though. There was a holy symbol of the Church of the Seven Gods engraved on the armor he wore. However, only the holy symbol of the Tree of Life was glowing. He remained in silence as he was dragging the gigantic draconic beasts one after another from the forest as he slowly arrived before the villagers that seemed to be waiting anxiously.
"Alright, you're all safe now. This is the last draconic beast that went berserk."
Next to the holy knight were quite a number of dead draconic beasts piling up high like a small mountain. Judging by the looks of it, there should be at least ten dead dragon corpses there. Upon throwing the last corpse of a dragon in his hand onto the mountain of corpses he left at the side, the holy knight clapped both of his hands together and spoke to the villagers with a calm and steady voice, "But do bear in mind. Even though I've annihilated every single monster in the surroundings of your village, none of you should let down your guard. The power of evil is brewing and it is spreading fast. I think that it would be much more appropriate if you all can just relocate to a place closer to a big city as soon as possible. It would be much safer that way."
His voice sounded a bit deep as he was wearing a helmet. "I might not be here to save you all next time around if you still stay in the mountain areas."
"You are probably right, sir. We're already preparing ourselves in order to do so."
The chief of the village quickly nodded. He bowed in gratitude as he thanked the holy knight on behalf of the entire village. He even reached his hand out to the knight with a bag of gold and said, "This is for you, sir"
"I don't need any reward."
Without waiting for the chief to finish his words, the holy knight pushed the bag of gold back into the chest of the old chief and rejected the offering given by the chief. Then his heavy voice came echoing out of the thick helmet of his as he spoke calmly, "Helping humanity is the way of the church. Instead of giving me this bag of money, why don't you use the money to buy some new clothes for the children? You can also buy some weapons to equip yourselves ready for battle if it comes to that. At least you will have the firepower to protect yourselves."
"Sigh. You knight never receive any rewards, unlike those barons who sit in their own territories collecting taxes and money We can't even repay you not even a little"
After being rejected for several times, the old man let out a long sigh. Then he helplessly kept the bag of god back into his arms. He seemed that he had something to say. However, right before the old man could speak again, an anxious little girl pushed her way out from the back of the old man. Before the chief could react, the little girl had already made her way to the front of the holy knight.
"Mister Knight, this this is for you."
She took out a protective talisman made of wood.
She was holding the protective talisman with her small hands that seemed a little dirty. Although the talisman seemed a little shabby, from the sculpturing marks on the talisman, one could tell that she had been very thorough when she was making it.
Meanwhile, the holy knight remained in silence for one brief moment. Then his voice was heard coming out from his helmet. It sounded as if he just chuckled in joy.
After that, he knelt on one knee and took the talisman from the hands of the little girl. In the meantime, his other hand was patting on the little girl's head. The voice of the holy knight came out from behind his helmet again. This time, he sounded very gentle as he spoke, "Thank you, child. Your blessing is my motivation to fulfill my duty."
"This is the best reward I can beg for."
After hanging the protective talisman around his wrist with care, the holy knight turned around and left the villagers who were still cheering and praising him.
The Holy Knight Roland was still on his journey merely because he was lost.