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 VOLUME 2: CHAPTER 119 - DAIZOS

Status

Race Goblin

Level 48

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 (Lv1); Orc King (Bui) (Lv82)

Abnormal Status Blessing of the One-Eyed Snake; Protection of the Twin-Headed Snake

For the first time, I experienced the difficulty of reconnaissance in a war between different races.

In a battle between humans or goblins, it is simple enough for one to slip into the crowd and appear like everyone else, but that's not possible in a battle between two different races. After all, we look completely different from each other. It simply isn't possible. Even the harpy scouts aren't able to close in on the centaur village as their archers could easily shoot them down.

The mud-scaled tribe were already working as messengers between our group and the advance group consisting of the long-tailed tribe (rizalat) and the fang tribe (werewolves), so they weren't an option.

As I watched the scene before me, I became thoughtful.

"Why are they closing themselves off here?"

Numerous tents had been put up in the middle of the meadows, around which were wooden sticks sticking out from the ground, probably meant for defense. Inside were centaurs wielding wooden shields reinforced with iron. This was the centaur village.

"Fighting on the meadows is supposed to be their specialty."

I don't understand. The forest isn't even that far, it's just about 500 meters away.

But even if they don't want to run to the forest, they should be wanting a large area to exhibit their superior mobility. The greatest advantage of mobility is the ability to repeatedly send out killing moves.

"Yushika, you sure they're not hiding anywhere?" I asked.

The harpy chief shrugged her shoulders as she chuckled. "Yep. Even the mud-scaled tribe says they don't see anything. You sure you're not just being too cautious? They just couldn't run, that's all."

They just couldn't run?

But why? Is it really just because they look down on us?

I'd really like something more concrete, but we can't wait here forever. We've already mostly surrounded them and the path to the elves has already been cut off by the fang tribe and the long-tailed tribe. Gi Za and his horde of goblins and demihumans is also in position.

The only thing unexpected is that Nikea got herself caught. Or is that a part or her plans too?

"Yushika, I need to send a messenger to the centaurs," I asked.

"Can we expect extra compensation for the risk?" Yushika smiled seductively.

"I'll give you as much as you want," I decided.

After hearing my answer, Yushika flew away.

◆◆◇

Dodging the arrows flying toward her, Yushika threw a wooden rod wrapped in white cloth toward the centaur village. In a war between demihumans, this was the way demihumans requested for a temporary ceasefire.

After seeing that the arrows have stopped coming, Yushika flew down.

Yushika gradually approached the ground until she finally landed.

She smiled as usual at the centaurs surrounding her. "Where is Lord Daizos? Or has the centaurs fallen so low that they can't even negotiate anymore?"

Many of the centaurs frowned at her words, clearly angry, but they let it slide. Before long the centaurs made way and Daizos approached her.

"What did you come for?" He asked.

"I'm here as a messenger," Yushika said, bowing respectfully.

Daizos raised his brows. "Fine. I'll hear you out."

Entering the second biggest house in the village, Yushika gave Daizos the goblin king's message.

The conditions the king gave could be said to be exceptional.

One, if the centaurs surrender, they must not ask for compensation for any damages incurred.

Two, they must release Nikea.

Three, they must join the united front against the humans.

Those were the three conditions the king gave, yet Daizos still refused to show agreement.

"Exactly what are you intending to do?" Daizos asked.

"Wow, you're actually going to remain stubborn despite the predicament you're in?" Yushika said, half fed up of Daizos' attitude, but Daizos refused to give in.

"We won't lose to some goblins."

"And what about the other descendants? Hmm? The fangs, the long-tailed ones, the shells, the araneae? You realize they're serious about this war, right?"

"Fallen ones."

"Don't you mean you were just too short-sighted?"

"...Perhaps."

Daizos bitterly smiled as Yushika tried to persuade him. All this time they've been friends, and yet now, they were enemies. Nothing was more painful than losing a friend because of war.

Eventually, Yushika got fed up with trying to persuade Daizos and she asked.

"I know I'm stepping over a line with this one, but why? Why do you hate the goblins so much? I know you said they're savages, but I don't think that's all there is to this," Yushika said.

Daizos bitterly smiled when he saw Yushika take off that chiefly mask of hers to reveal her truer side: a friend.

"Since you're going that far, I won't answer you as chief anymore but as Daizos. I respect the elves. I respect their form, their extravagance aside. The goblins do not have that. I fear that if we join them, our world which has been centered around the elves for so long will crumble," Daizos solemnly said.

He continued. "I can't forgive that. I can't forgive them baring their fangs on the elves who gave us the land we live on and the technology to live."

"That's not necessarily the case though. Humans and elves are different, after all."

"No, they will definitely bare their fangs. Because the elves are corrupted," Daizos seemed to be scorning himself as he said that.

Yushika was speechless.

"Despite that you're still going to fight for them?" She asked after a pause.

"The blood of my great-grandfather who swore an oath to the elves flows in my veins. The gratitude handed down generation after generation until me, the very loyalty that permeates us will become nothing more than a lie. I can't betray them."

Yushika was greatly troubled by the man in front of her who was saying he would protect the elves despite knowing of their corruption. She wanted to shout at him and call him stubborn, but she wouldn't be able to change his mind that way. Daizos has probably thought hard about this already.

"...Lord Nikea told me this awhile ago. We can still make it if we talk with the goblin king. I don't know if you've noticed it, but the elves are staying in the village. They came to collect the tax. Nikea said I should talk to the goblin king to ensure their safety."

That's why you didn't run. No, that's why you couldn't run.

"The goblins are no foreigners to negotiations," Yushika said, pointing out the obvious flaw in his argument.

"No, that goblin will surely use the elves. It's not greed, but for the goblin king to realize his goals, he needs as many allies he can get," Daizos said.

And so they will lead even the elves into chaos and ruin?

Daizos continued. "The demon children of chaos, the goblins... The burden they carry is too heavy for us who once dreamed."

Yushika felt her chest ache when she saw Daizos' lonely smile. Gurfia was his brother. He was his pride and joy, but before he knew it, he was a ghost, who threatened the demihumans.

"...What do you intend to do about the elves?" Yushika asked.

"I will protect them. To protect them is my will as chief. But even I, as Daizos, believe that they should be protected," Daizos said.

Yushika stared at Daizos when he pointed out those two faint yet important wills. As a demihuman, Daizos was still young. In human age, he would be in his 30s to 40s, but the position of chief carried with it much trouble.

"I've also thought of throwing away this weight on my shoulders many times," Daizos smiled.

That was not the smile of a happy man, however, but the smile of a man who has resolved himself.

"But if I throw it away, I won't be me anymore. That's why I will fight the goblins," he said.

Finally, Yushika realized that there was no way to persuade the man.

"You're a fool, Daizos." Yushika said.

"I think so too," he said.

Silence filled the room after that, as Yushika didn't know what to say. When Daizos finally spoke, he was back to being a chief.

"Sorry for complaining. Please forget it... Daizos' time has ended. From here on out, I will make a decision as chief of the centaurs. Lord Yushika, I shall return Lord Nikea. Please inform the goblin king I wish to challenge him to a duel," Daizos said.

"A duel?" Yushika asked, unable to understand.

Daizos nodded. "If I win, he must withdraws his troops posthaste. If he wins, however, the centaurs will surrender."

"You intend to die?" Yushika asked.

"I told you before, I won't lose to some goblin. I simply intend to minimize casualties on both sides. There is nothing more to it," he said.

"There's no guarantee that goblin king will accept it."

"Then please persuade him. For the sake of protecting the demihumans, and for the sake of protecting your beloved customers."

"...You're selfish, you know."

"Centaurs are like that."

"...Where is Nikea?"

"I'll have her brought at once."

After Nikea arrived, Yushika walked away with her.

As they walked, Yushika passed by Daizos, uttering some last words to a friend she would no longer be seeing from today onwards.

"Farewell, my dearest," she said.

"Farewell, my dearest neighbor," Daizos said back.

A bid of farewell between two friends.

◆◆◇

After confirming that Nikea was safe, I listened to Yushika's report.

"A duel, hmm..."

Indeed, that would probably be the best way to conclude this war.

"I'll accept it."

I want to minimize the casualties too.

"Also... Apparently, there are elven messengers staying at the centaur village. That's why the centaurs couldn't move."

Yushika wasn't wearing her usual smile when she said that. Her eyes were filled with resolve as she looked at me.

"I see..."

How to deal with those? I should probably send them off, but I could also use them to negotiate with the elves. To do that though, I'll need to ensure their safety enough to convince the demihumans.

"We can't involve the elves in the war," I said.

If it were only the goblins, it wouldn't matter much, but the demihumans are with me too.

"There is no reason for Your Highness to personally go out and fight that duel," Gi Za said. "Let me go instead. There is no reason to risk it."

Indeed, there's no reason to risk it. The enemy could pull something just like that time with Mido.

But he wanted a duel with me.

I can't run away, not as king.

"As I've said once, I am the king. I cannot run away from these challenges. Even if it is dangerous, I can't run. Or else how could I ever be fit to sit in my throne?"

"...I understand," Gi Za said reluctantly.

"Bring the prisoner," I said.

We will be releasing that young centaur we caught on the day of the duel.

"Let's settle this quickly."

The next day, I accepted the duel.

◆◆◇

Under the eyes of goblins and demihumans, two men stepped forward.

One was the centaur chief, the other was the goblin king. In their hands were a spear and a long sword, respectively; and serving as their referee was a member of the harpy tribe.

"This war shall be settled with this duel!"

At those words, the two men nodded. They raised their swords and swore.

"Glory and compensation to the victor!"

"Glory and peace to the defeated!"

No one disagreed to the words cried out.

"Swear to the God of Duels, Yul Basta!"

The two men knocked their weapons at she sound of that sonorous voice.

The duel had begun.

The centaur thrust his spear with all of his strength. That spear was truly capable of crushing rocks, and not even the goblin king could come out unscathed under its might, but the goblin king parried that spear and counterattacked, his sword clad in the flames of the underworld goddess. Those flames that burned in the abyss burned fiercely with the fervor of the goblin king.

The goblin king's foot bore into the ground, then following the shortest route with the fastest speed, his sword reached for the centaur chief's legs.

The centaur foresaw what the goblin king intended, so he dodged those flames of hell with the least movement needed and attacked again. If one thrust could not take down the goblin king, then he would thrust a second, no, a third even. And so, three times did the spear struck out, each thrust brimming with the power to wound fatally.

Still, the goblin king dodged those worthy attacks; and in that narrow opening that opened up behind them, the goblin king forced his blade in, cutting toward the arms from below. Any monster would have had its arm lopped off by that attack, but the centaur chief used its quick legs to jump back and retreat.

The two warriors separated. Inwardly, they admired each other's skill. Unfortunately, they were enemies, and thus, there would be no greater way to show the respect they felt but to cut at each other.

The first to step forward was the goblin king. He needed to close in on the centaur quickly to negate the centaur's advantage in reach. Ether exploded behind the goblin king's back. At the same time, he used the resulting acceleration to quickly close in on the centaur. Suddenly, he was right before the centaur. In no time at all, his sword, clad in black flames, was swinging for the cenatur. It came swinging at a speed far beyond normal. It was so fast that any other centaur would have had its neck cut off.

To the goblin king's surprise, what resounded next was not the sound of a decapitated head touching the ground, but the sound of clanging iron. Without even time to spare for his ears to ring, the goblin king fell to the ground. Right after, a great wind blew with the centaur's spear as it swept toward the goblin king. That attack that could tear through flesh and crush bones cut through the empty air where the goblin king should've been before returning to the centaur's hands.

The centaur attacked again, but the goblin king had already fixed his posture and was able to receive his attack.

The fight continued like that, going back and forth.

Meanwhile, while the demihuman and the king were fighting, Gi Za took his druids and moved.

"The moment the king secures victory, we shall attack the centaur village," Gi Za said.

After giving instructions, Gi Za ordered his men to go somewhere they can't be seen.

When Luther of the shell-tribe saw what was happening, he called out.

"What are you doing, Lord Gi Za?" He asked.

"Preparing for war," Gi Za replied.

"The war will end with this. Whether in victory, or in defeat," Luther said.

Gi Za shook his head. It was far too unreasonable. "The king will win. There is no other path. But do you truly believe the centaurs would so willingly surrender? I do not! Those who refuse to put down their spears will hurt the king's victory. To perfect the king's victory, we, his subordinates, must move."

The moment the king won, Gi Za and his horde would move in to capture the village. His preparations were for that. Just waiting for the centaur to surrender was a waste of luck and time.

"That is wrong," Luther said. "To quietly watch your king win is giving glory to your king's victory."

Halfway through his speech, Luther was shocked. So much so that he wondered whether this goblin was truly the same goblin he was talking to awhile ago. On the way to the centaur village, he was so innocent, asking about their tradition, their beasts, and their skills. But now, all of that innocence was gone. In its place was a calm man with only one objective: to attain victory. Even the gaze this goblin looked at him had changed. Before it was filled with curiosity. Now, it was cold and calculating, as if in this world there were only two types of people: ally or foe.

"To increase the odds of victory even one bit more is my duty. I have no intention of becoming a retainer who is only capable of relying on the king!"

"Then what about the feelings of the centaurs? They are quietly watching this battle. They have left everything to the judgment of the God of Duels."

Gi Za sneered and shook his head. "It is precisely because you rely on gods that you have fallen... I, no, we do not rely on gods. Our victory is solely due to our king!"

The goblins had no gods. The humans, the demihumans, even the elves might have gods, but the goblins had none. Mother Deetna had already ceased in the abyss, and Altesia, who ruled the underworld, was not their patron. So when Gi Za heard of the demihumans and the elves' faith, he could only doubt the gods more.

From where did the goblins hail, and to where shall they go?

To live in this world without a god was to be severed from the world.

How lonely is it to live in the world without anyone to revere? Lost and forlorn children thrown out into the world alone.

But.

Fortune turned and the king appeared before them. Now, they no longer had to face that solitude alone.

Our king who is like a god.

We have no gods, but our king stands strong with us. If so, if so then... how can we devote ourselves to the king?

"Do you not fear the gods?" Luther asked with shaking voice.

Gi Za sneered. "Our god has long died. Therefore, we have no god, only a king."

Though they couldn't see it from where they were standing, cheers could be heard from the demihumans and the goblins surrounding the village.

If one listened closely, those cheers were celebrating the king's victory.

"Go! The king has won! Take the village!"

Like that Gi Za took his horde and captured the village.

◇◆◆◇◇◆◆◇

Level has risen.

48 => 53

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