VOLUME 2: CHAPTER 98 - OATH OF THE SWORD
Class King; Ruler
Possessed Skills Ruler of the Demon Children of Chaos; Defiant Soul; World Devouring Howl; Sword Mastery A-; Dominator; King's Soul; Ruler's Wisdom III; Household of the Gods; One-Eyed Snake's Evil Eye; The King's Dance at the Edge of Death; Magic Manipulation; Soul of the Berserk King; Third Impact (The Third Chant); Instinct; Blessing of the Underworld Goddess
Divine Protection Goddess of the Underworld (Altesia)
Attributes Darkness; Death
Subordinate Beasts High Kobold Hasu (Lv77); Gastra (Lv20); Cynthia (Lv20); Orc King (Bui) (Lv82)
Abnormal Status Blessing of the One-Eyed Snake; Protection of the Twin-Headed Snake
When we arrived at the orc village, Bui came out to greet us, and I handed the spear deer over.
"Umm... Thank you," Bui timidly said as he looked alternately between me and the speer deer. "So, to what do I owe the honor of this visit?"
All the other orcs except for Bui have locked themselves in their houses, careful not to make a single eek. They were acting as if someone troublesome had come.
Cynthia herself has started growling by my feet, but it's really nothing to mind.
"I thought of discussing your reward for the recent battle."
Bui looked back at me with surprise. "Oh, you don't have to... really. We just so happened to fight with the humans, so..."
"You don't have to be so reserved. It's not like I plan on forcibly pushing something troublesome on you."
"Ah, but..." Bui looked troubled.
I chuckled. "It's not a bad thing not to have any desires, but you should at least hear me out."
"I'm thinking of giving you the land from to the south."
"Exactly how much land are we talking about?"
Originally, the area north of the lake was designated to be the orcs', but the recent battle has reduced the goblins' numbers. So I thought of giving the south - the village region, in other words - to the orcs.
Bui became thoughtful before speaking again. "There's something I'd like to confirm... Do you mind?"
"If you give us these lands, exactly where do you plan to hunt?"
Right... In the past, we hunted the region south of the lake to feed on giant spiders, spear deer, and double heads, but with the recent battle, I've been thinking of moving.
"We're temporarily pulling back to the Fortress of the Abyss to the west."
"Wouldn't that mean you've lost against the humans?"
There was a fervor hidden behind those words I didn't expect, causing me to be taken aback for a moment. As expected, though seemingly timid, a monster was a monster. It was almost as if he was challenging me.
"Do you plan on competing with me in place of the humans then?" I mischievously asked back, but disappointingly, Bui's shoulders quivered.
"When the twin moon gods appear for the 350th time, we shall once again battle the humans."
"So we are to be the breakwater until then?"
What a thoughtful orc, I thought, chuckling.
"We have a ceasefire with the humans, though I don't know how long they plan on keeping it."
Caution is necessary. There is no way the humans would merely sit idle after having suffered so much. Right now, I need to increase the goblin population as much as I can. To that end, I will stretch out my hand to reach lands unknown, and bring to me the scattered goblins and strengthen our horde.
The humans set us back a little, but from now on, I'm going to have the goblin forces gather around the fortress.
"I will leave it to you what to do with the southern lands in our absence. You could hunt them if you so wish, or you could ignore them."
Bui became thoughtful again.
"This is the reward I give you. Whether you accept it as a reward or not, however, is up to you."
"...King of Goblins, I will accept that reward," Bui said with resolve in his eyes.
"Oh, and do tell your people not to touch the kobolds. They can be of use if you feed them."
"The kobolds? If I recall, they fought in the previous war too..."
"They are also my subordinates."
After saying what I needed to say, I carefully turned around so as to not step on Cynthia, who was playing by my feet, then I went back to the village.
When I returned, the sword god's adherent, Gi Go Amatsuki, knelt before me with a brooding face. It was almost dusk; the sun almost sunken as the arms of the night god stretched out to dye the world in his color.
"O king... Please hear my request." There was a long wound on his face from his brows to his cheeks incurred during the war.
"Speak," I said.
"I request a duel," he said.
There was no killing intent as he lay prostrated, but there was a weight behind every word spoken.
"Please wait, Your Highness! Gi Go! What are you thinking!?" The knight class, Gi Ga, asked when he heard my conversation with Gi Go as he struck out his spear before Gi Go. Killing intent filled him as he demanded Gi Go to explain himself, but the latter only looked back fearlessly. There was a pressure emanating from him that only those who have resolved themselves could give off.
"Gi Ga, it's fine. I am the king. I must accept this challenge."
I don't have a great sword though, so I'll have to make do with a decent long sword.
After swinging the long sword once, I ordered Gi Go to go all out.
"Gi Go Amatsuki! Come! Do not hesitate, lest you wish to regret this duel!"
"You don't need to tell me!"
Gi Go brandished his curved sword and faced me. There were no openings in his stance, proving just how much his concentration and his martial strength have been tempered.
The curved sword held under his arm screamed as he ran toward me. I used my long sword as a shield in response, then I immediately took back my sword, inclined my weight forward, and then let loose a scooping slash from below. If it were a great sword in my hands instead, just the pressure behind this attack would have been enough to strike fear into him, but what I had was a dainty long sword. Pulling off such a feat was beyond its capabilities.
My sword tore through the air, but despite the setting sun's light being barely enough to see anything past the silver light of the sword, Gi Go dodged.
A spectacular read. Predicting my attack and then dodging with the least movement, then-
He sent a blow just slightly below my sword toward my neck. With the centrifugal force empowering it, it was a decisive attack.
Our swords crossed. I took a step back and exhaled to concentrate, then as I took a step forward, so did Gi Go.
Right in that very moment where my foot was about to leave the ground, Gi Go took a step forward and slashed downwards. The speed of that sword was such that it would reach my side before I could even react!
"Let my body be inviolable.Shield"
An armor of flame burst out from ether to wrap around me, protecting me from Gi Go's curved sword, while I swung down my sword to knock his weapon away.
"Why?" I asked with my sword pointed at the goblin.
"King, please punish me..." He desperately said.
The whispers of the sword god compelled him to fight the strong, so much so that at some point, he stopped being able to tell whether it was truly because of the sword god that he wished to fight or simply because he himself desired it.
Not a day passed where he could not hear the sound of swords clashing. He even started to feel like his very life lived within his curved sword. And as sounds of blood spilling resounded, a voice echoed within, saying-
'Cut down the strong'.
'With these arms, these hands, these fingers... Cut them down!'
'Even if you lose your arms! Your eyes! Your legs! Even if you lose your life!!'
'If you lose you arms, swing your sword with your mouth!'
'If you lose your eyes, listen closely with your ears!'
'If one of your legs is crushed, cut it off!'
'If your chest is pierced, cut the enemy down before you die!'
Like that the sword god slowly took Gi Go's consciousness away and made him swing his sword.
Cut, cut, cut cut cut CuT CuT CuT CUT CUT CUT Cut CUTTTttt!!
That voice seemed to resound even in the very breath he breathed. Gi Go looked at the king half-dazed.
"I request a duel."
Before he knew it, he had challenged the king.
For the first time, he realized just how terrifying the king was.
The king was truly overwhelming, enough to make him imagine that what was before him was actually a mountain. Even though the king was not using a great sword, the pressure the king emanated was still beyond his imagination.
Dodging the king's sword with the least movements and feeling the erupting wind from the king's sword filled him with joy.
The sound of swords clashing called forth both fear and joy within him.
Our king... Illuminates the path and leads us to a brighter tomorrow; an existence like no other.
And yet I pointed my sword at him...
I have sinned...
But there was no doubt that the simple joy of battling the strong filled him.
The two conflicting emotions stirred him up from within.
He was going mad. Gi Go smiled each time he thought of it.
He was losing his mind over his sword.
When the king showed an opening, he unleashed his blade.
Only to reach a wall of black flames. The flames of the underworld protect the king.
As the king's sword descended, his curved sword fell and cracked.
When he came to, the king's sword was pointed at him.
Gi Go himself knew that he had committed a grave sin. Hence, he would voice no complaints even if the king punished him there and then.
"Why?" The king asked.
But Gi Go could do no more than lower his head as much as he could.
"King, please punish me..."
The great king would not run from any challengers. And with his great heart, he would surely forgive him. The fact he asked for an explanation was proof of that.
But he could not ask to be forgiven. If he did, his sins would never be cleared. And if he were to commit the same sin a second time, he would not be able to forgive himself, not even if the king forgave him.
When that time comes I will cut my own neck!
Gi Go froze. He could not lie. If he was asked to explain himself, he would have no choice but to answer.
"...I have lost myself to the power within me. Please exact judgment, My King."
Gi Go bowed as if offering his neck.
"...I knew you were struggling with the divine protection you received. I acted dumb precisely because it was a battle against yourself. Gi Go, a swordsman of my goblins, I pass judgment as your king."
Silenced filled the area as Gi Go waited for his punishment.
"You shall not kill until the appointed day. This shall be your punishment, Gi Go Amatsuki."
A vow not to kill.
"I swear on my life, I shall not kill until the appointed day."
His head rubbed against the ground as an oath to the king was sealed.
"Umm... Is there something you need?" Yoshu asked.
After I ordered everyone else to leave, the only ones left in the room were me and Yoshu.
"I have a request."
Yoshu listened carefully, and I continued.
"Go with Gi Go for a year."
"Huh? But Mr. Gi Go is..."
"Yes, I let him off with an oath not to kill. But whether that would stay put or not here is another question."
Gi Go will probably leave the village. I didn't expect the sword god's whispers to affect him so much that he would point his sword at me.
"...So, in other words, you plan to use me to fetter him?"
I smiled at that. As I thought, Shumea's younger brother is sharp. He's always with his sister, but normally, former slaves tend to have cold and callous personalities.
"If I refuse..."
"You want to know?"
For just a moment, Yoshu looked at me with a sharp gaze, but then he breathed a sigh.
"...No. Please take care of my older sister. I will surely return after a year. If I find out something has happened to my sister's body then, I'll be sure to chase you until the ends of the earth."
Fire burned within his eyes as he said that. As expected of someone who has received the flame god's divine protection, who is a member of the fire god's household.
I returned that gaze as I struck my long sword into the ground.
"I swear it on the king's honor."
Yoshu sighed deeply.
"...I'll be leaving immediately then. Please take care of my sister, and Ms. Selena."
"Tell that one yourself too."
"Don't you have anything to say to your sister?"
"Tell her I'll definitely come back alive."
As I watched Yoshu run off, I thought of Gi Go who was walking far away in the embrace of the night god.
Gi Go took only his curved sword with him as he left the village. The king had forgiven him, but he couldn't forgive himself.
He couldn't stay in this village. Not until he could bring the sword god's temptations under control.
He would bet his very pride to find a way to.
When he touched the curved sword hanging from his waist, he could hear the sword god's whispers, but it was distant now, most likely because of his oath to the king.
The night was quiet. When he thought about it, it's been a long time since he was last alone. He hadn't been alone since the king picked him up.
The loyal Gi Ga, the wise Gi Gu who could use other goblins well, and although annoying, the knowledgeable Gi Za. With them around, the village should be fine.
But what the king yearned for was a distant dream. A great ambition.
Gi Go decided to use his life to realize that dream. He couldn't waste around idly.
Hence he would temper his sword, and then return to the king.
"Mr. Gi Go!"
The sound of footsteps and a human's voice.
"It's Yoshu. The king's guest, Yoshu."
"Why are you here?"
"I have a message from the king."
"...From the king?"
When Gi Go heard that, he knelt down on one knee as he bowed his head, while his hand firmly gripped his sword. It was as if he would not miss even a single word.
"A message from the king must be properly heard."
"It's kinda embarrassing though... Anyway..." Yoshu cleared his throat, and then ruminated on the king's words.
"Temper your sword until the day we meet again! May the fortunes of war be with you!"
Gi Go's shoulders shook as he held his sword's hilt seemingly tight enough to break it.
"That's it... Oh, and by the way, the king told me to go with you."
The king's words continued to affect Gi Go for some time.
After a while, he looked up to the starry sky on the night god, then he turned to the village and bowed.
And then... he set off.
Gi Go Amatsuki
Abnormal Status: Sworn to Spare added.
Abnormal Status: The effects of the sword god on sanity have worsened.
The title Subleader has changed to Wandering Swordsman