Act 2-1.2 : Under The Sky of Nargol
「And everyone, since you’re so busy, please don’t mind me and return to your posts.」
Kuroki headed towards the fortress as he made his statement to appease Runfeld’s anxiety.
「Let me guide you inside, Your Excellency.」
「No, don’t worry about it. I’m going back after a short inspection anyway…」
Kuroki turned down Runfeld’s offer and went to see the fortress by himself.
After inspecting the fortress, Kuroki quickly mounted Glorious and left.
「It seems I was a bother to them…」
Kuroki unintentionally muttered.
「Unforgivable! Kuroki-sama is the one who saved their life after all!! 」
Nut’s voice suddenly echoed from inside his armor.
The demon race stationed in that fortress were clearly disturbed by Kuroki’s presence. Nut was angered by their reaction—Kuroki was summoned to save them, and he did so by defeating the hero. Yet, despite knowing full well that they were the ones who summoned him for their own convenience, they still treated him as a nuisance. This was definitely not a nice experience.
What’s even worse is that Kuroki treated the demon race in the fortress with etiquette and utmost respect. But, let alone being welcomed, he was treated as a nuisance instead.
Honestly speaking, the only two who really welcomed Kuroki in this world were Modes and Nut, which was satisfactory enough. Even Kuroki would lose his temper if, for example, the ringleader treated him cruelly.
However, what Kuroki didn’t know was that there was another person who welcomed his arrival in this world. Someone he would never expect.
「Thanks for worrying about me, Nut.」
Kuroki expressed his gratitude to Nut’s anger and care for him.
「That aside, I wonder where shall we fly to today, Glorious.」
Kuroki brushed Glorious’s neck. There was nothing better than doing something else to erase a bad mood. For Kuroki, it was swinging his sword before he came to this world and, after he came to this world, it was flying with his dragon. He was really glad to have found such a magnificent dragon for himself. When he first laid eyes on this dragon, he immediately decided that if he were to succeed in taming it, he would name it ‘Glorious’.
（Though it’s an illsuited name for me, it’s just the right name for Glorious.）
Kuroki smiled wryly as he pondered about this matter.
He had heard that it was extremely difficult to subdue a dragon, but as he pondered about his experience, he felt that it was surprisingly easy for him. Taming this dragon took no real effort on his part, he just threw a few attacks and jumped around a few times until, shortly after, the dragon acquiesced to being his mount. It was all rather child’s play.
（Well, let’s see how far I’m going to fly this time.）
Kuroki told Glorious to fly atop Akeron mountain. After receiving his command, Glorious sped up and flew towards the sky high mountains. As the wind brushed his figure, Kuroki couldn’t help but exclaim to himself how wonderful this experience was—riding a dragon by himself was far better than tagging along behind someone else. At least now he had a say in the destination and, more importantly, he didn’t have to awkwardly embrace someone else’s back.
Kuroki shuddered at the thought. He then looked at the scenery that whooshed past him and started admiring it. Though the skies of Nargol weren’t beautiful due to the presence of everlasting clouds containing a high density of mana, which made the sky look dark and gloomy, it still had its own charm in a way.
（But, let’s try a different sky this time.）
Kuroki was curious about the Akeron mountain range, this time he didn’t just want to fly over it, but wanted to get closer to the ground and glide over people’s dwelling places; he wanted to see this special mountain top in detail.
According to Nut, Akeron mountain was the boundary that separated Nargol from the rest of the world. However, its specific border limits had still remained a mystery to this day. This technicality was the reason behind the Holy Knights’ constant unwanted appearances, it gave them the leverage to pull pranks on Nargol all the time.
Moreover, Akeron mountain was the biggest goblin residential area in this world, many goblins resided in this mountain. He often saw many of their figures when he would fly past these mountains.
Though it seems that the majority of the goblin kingdom followed Modes, the ones who lived on the side of the mountains that did not belong to Nargol did not follow the Demon King, they would even sometimes show hostility to the demon race and himself. Though he knew those goblins won’t go as far as trying to attack a dragon, Kuroki still decided to fly a little bit higher just to be sure.
Just as he was about to raise his altitude, he came across an impossible scene in the middle of Akeron mountain range.
「Nut! Those are humans, right? 」
In fron of him were the figures of humans, something rarely seen on these mountains, and those people were being chased around by goblins.
Without giving it a thought, Kuroki guided Glorious down towards that place. The dragon roared as he approached the perpetrators. Hearing such a fearsome sound, the goblins stopped their attacks and looked up, only to see a humongous and terrifying figure rushing towards them. Seeing their impending doom, the goblins screeched and fled as quickly as they could.
Seeing that the situation resolved itself on its own, Kuroki directed Glorious towards an open space to land. Once settled, Kuroki lifted his face and looked at those people. There were around 20 of them. There were no adult male amongst them; they were composed mostly of women and children. And what they all had in common right now was a frightened face.
Kuroki mused that their frightened faces were probably due the dragon’s previous roar, but he didn’t really care and certainly didn’t think of coaxing them. All he wanted to know was why they were in such a place
「Who are you people?! 」
Still sitting on Glorious, Kuroki asked for their identity. But, none of them gave him an answer, they were still quivering in fear by the sudden appearance of the dragon. The lack of response and their reaction was starting to get on his nerves.
（Just what in the hell is wrong with these people? Do they even understand that they’re bound to be attacked by goblins as long as they enter this mountain range? What the hell is with this carelessness? Or maybe, they did so while being fully aware of the risk.）
Though he ended up saving their lives, Kuroki understood that he might have done an unnecessary thing, just like what he did in the fortress a while ago. However, he had already saved their lives, so he decided to hear their reason for the time being.
Kuroki jumped down from Glorious’s back and took off his helmet. Once his slender face was shown, a commotion immediately stirred amongst the once quiet group of humans.
「A… human? 」
「The Dark Knight is… a human? 」
Seeing that the face behind the helmet was that of a human, they all relaxed and sighed in relief.
「Anyone want to tell me what this is about?! 」
The group became noisy after hearing Kuroki’s question. A while later, a woman came out from amongst them.
The woman looked quite young, her age showing to be around the latter half of her teens. Upon a closer look, her dress was the best amongst the group. Though it was now tattered and dirtied, it was clear that in its original state it was an exquisite dress fit for nobles.
「Uhm… M-My name is… Regena, princess of Algore kingdom. The people here are my blood relatives.」
The woman called Regena introduced herself with great difficulty.
「… A princess? What is a princess doing in this kind of place? 」
Kuroki was further confused after knowing her identity. Members of royalty, especially princesses, were individuals who were supposed to stay in their country’s castle, only going to the safest of places with many escorts in tow. Her presence in such a dangerous place was baffling.
Doubting the authenticity of her introduction, Kuroki tried to ask Nut about this country in a small voice. However, what he got in return made him more confused—Nut didn’t seem to know much about Algore kingdom. It was quite surprising because, as far as he knew, Nut knew of all the major kingdoms in the human world, so the fact that he didn’t know about Algore kingdom convinced Kuroki that it wasn’t a major kingdom.
「We… were exiled from Algore. We didn’t have any other choice but to come to this place.」
Regena explained their situation in a timid voice.
After hearing her explanation, Kuroki finally got more information about Algore.
Algore was a kingdom located near Nargol. In this kingdom, rulers were chosen from several influential clans, the king belonging to a different clan every few years. However, it seems that Regena’s clan had monopolized the king’s throne for many decades, which greatly displeased the other clans. Not enduring it anymore, the other clans decided to join forces and rebelled against the current monarchs. Being attacked from many powerful parties, Regena’s clan was quickly rendered powerless and were defeated. They were then banished from the kingdom.
The clans who rebelled feared that Regena’s clan would come for revenge after restoring their power in another country. That’s why they drove them away towards Nargol—naturally, they would become goblin fodder. Kuroki felt that it was quite a cruel execution.
Regena told him their story while sobbing. At first there were 100 of them, but their numbers quickly dwindled after the goblins’ attack. The men all fell victim to these battles first for the sake of protecting their women and children, Regena’s older brother and father being amongst those fallen men. Which is why, now, there were only women and children amongst them.
「Please. Please save us…」
Regena pleaded to Kuroki. According to Regena’s story, Algore is on bad terms with their neighbouring kingdoms, thus no kingdom will welcome herself and her clan, royalty from an enemy kingdom. That’s why Regena’s clan had nowhere else to go—they were merely refugees now.
Kuroki heaved a sigh and looked up to the skies irritably.
Had he known of their complicated story, he wouldn’t have saved them. It was useless to pull them out of a hopeless situation only to throw them in another one. Currently, even if he helps them leave this goblin infested place, they still won’t be able to enter Nargol as refugees. They’ll only be able to stay outside of the rampart, which will surely make them fall victim to other demons. They’ll be treated even more cruelly by the powerful demons than the weak goblins.
Though they might be able to survive if he brings them to a powerful kingdom, he couldn’t possibly take everyone from Regena’s group with him. Not to mention that with his identity he would probably be unwelcomed as well.
「Please… We will do anything!! 」
Regena pleaded again. They had suffered too much on their journey to this place. She was desperate.
The others followed her actions and started pleading to Kuroki.
Kuroki was troubled by this situation.
（What should I do? It might be an easier choice for me to just abandon them here, but…）
Leaving them here meant leaving them at the goblins’ mercy. Though it would not cause him any future trouble, he would probably be prickled with guilt knowing he had caused the death of so many humans.
Suddenly, an unconventional thought crossed Kuroki – (What would Reiji do in this kind of situation?).
He glanced at Regena. Sure enough, she was a stunning beauty.
Reiji would definitely save her. Then, he would push the job of looking after her and her people to someone else in some random place. No one would dare to go against him as long as he used his hero privilege. He would put no effort in this situation but would then take all the credit and receive all the good affections. Typical.
He looked at Regena again.
He ended up being troubled by this situation, Reiji probably wouldn’t ever worry like him. Thus, he finally made his decision.
「YOUR EXCELLENCY!! WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS!! 」
Runfeld immediately raised his voice and protested when he saw Kuroki coming back to the fortress with Regena and the others.
「I brought my own slaves to assist you since I recall you saying that the fortress is experiencing a shortage of manpower, Lord Runfeld.」
Kuroki nonchalantly stated as he pointed at Regena and the others.
In the end, he decided to take Regena and the others to the nearest defense camp, which was the fortress. Naturally, his aim was to make them work in this fortress since when he visited the fortress, all the soldiers had irritably stated that they were short on people. Of course, he never had any intention to make Regena and her people his slaves, he had only made up this lie to deceive the demons. He didn’t want them to treat Regena and her clan badly, thus he clearly made his claim that they were his property. No one would dare act against them in this case.
「There are even children among them!!! 」
Runfeld’s protests were meaningless.
「Oops, did I mishear you when you said that you were terribly lacking in manpower in this fortress that you even went as far as bringing children to work? 」
Kuroki sarcastically implied the presence of Runfeld’s children earlier.
Discontented voices roused from the demons living in the fortress. The demon race looked down on humans, beings that were inferior to them in every aspect except for… looks… So, it was only natural for them to feel that way since inferior humans were forcefully shoved to them in order to help them.
But Kuroki ignored their protest.
「No need to give me your gratitude, Lord Runfeld. Please make full use of my slaves, be it dish-washing or cleaning. But, I want you to at least give them meals and a place to sleep.」
Then languidly made this vexing remark.
It sounded like he was worrying about the lack of labor force in the fortress but, in reality, he was just shoving his responsibility of taking care of those people to Runfeld.
He could hear the other demons angered whispers as they all echoed – "Stop doing things at your own convenience."
They were muttering this, but he knew that they wouldn’t dare to go against his words for now. Kuroki felt that there won’t be any other problems for him now. He then looked at Regena and the others. Though he more or less explained this matter to them, they still seemed to be anxious. But, he couldn’t help them more than this.
（It’s possible for me to look after them til the end, but I simply can’t. I already have so many things to worry about. I need to make them feel that staying here is better than becoming goblin fodder.）
Kuroki apologized to them in his heart.
「YOUR EXCELLENCY!! 」
Runfeld was still protesting.
「Lord Runfeld, my apologies, but I have to return to the Demon King’s castle immediately. Let’s talk about this matter again later in the future. Thus, please take care of my slaves till then, Lord Runfeld!! 」
Kuroki retorted using a stronger and more menacing tone, he was clearly stating that he didn’t want to hear any other complaints.
Kuroki’s attitude made Runfeld at a loss for words.
「Well, it’s time for me to go back to the Demon King’s castle.」
Kuroki left them with a last remark as he climbed on Glorious’s back, completely ignoring Runfeld’s further protests.
Glorious roared as it took off to the sky, making the people in the fortress scream in fear.
Soon, Glorious became a tiny dot in front of their eyes as he flew towards the Demon King’s castle.
Kuroki kept deeply pondering about what he had just done as they flew in the sky.
（In the end, I’m just like Reiji, doing whatever I please.）
His action might bring more discontent from the demon race. He didn’t know what would become of Regena and her clan after this event. But, he was sure that he would have regretted it more if he had chosen not to save them from the goblins.
（Reiji wouldn’t be troubled at all after doing this. I guess I shouldn’t think about this matter too deeply. Come to think of it, the creation of the Goddess clone will start tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the result.）
Kuroki was riding Glorious yet, this time, he felt depressed, just like the eternal gloomy sky of Nargol.