Prologue: The End of “War-Torn”
On that day, that life she took for granted—came to a sudden end.
Or perhaps it hadn’t been sudden. Perhaps the writing had been on the wall since long ago. But the girl was much too young to know of the circumstances surrounding the kingdom or the neighboring nations…it had all occurred in places she was not familiar with. The only thing she could do was stand there in a daze at this much-too-sudden turn of events.
Somewhere, someone was yelling.
Somewhere, someone was crying.
Somewhere, someone was shouting.
Countless voices layered over each other, creating a cacophonous tune. There were screams, bellows, shrieks—the innumerable voices harmonized with the roar of the flames and the howling of the wind, forming a symphony of sorts. It was impossible to tell any one voice apart from the noise—in other words, it was the death knell of a single nation.
Outside the window, she could see something strange.
In the sky, far away, an enormous thing was floating.
She didn’t know how far away it was, but she understood in an instant that its sheer size was incredible. From the size of the dragon knights flying alongside it, she surmised it was probably about as large as a castle—no, perhaps even a mountain.
But it was floating in the air.
There were no supports to hold it up. There was nothing keeping it afloat. It was just like a cloud.
It was true that magic could make the impossible into a reality—but even so, this was much too extraordinary.
At first glance she thought it looked like some kind of upright cylinder, but upon closer inspection it looked more like a statue, like the figure of a maiden with both arms to her chest, mimicking the act of prayer.
A gigantic statue flying in the sky.
It would take her a bit of time to realize it, but it was the enemy coming to attack.
I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared out of my mind.
Thinking she should escape, she shifted her gaze downward.
But it was too late. The scenery of Hell was already spread out before her.
An enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. Another enemy soldier. There were enemy soldiers—everywhere.
The scenery below her was already overrun with enemy soldiers.
An incalculable number of soldiers were barreling their way through.
She watched the soldiers overwhelm, crush, kill, and exhaust their enemies. She saw them brandish their weapons, ready their shields, and eliminate their opponents. She saw it all.
“Your Highness, where are you!?”
She was too young to understand strategy or tactics or the like, but even so, she was convinced.
They wouldn’t win like this. There was no chance of victory at this rate.
The door finally gave way, and an elderly female attendant tumbled into the room.
“Ah, Highness…to think you were here!” she shouted, her face contorted into the very image of panic. She looked absolutely wretched; her hair and clothes had become a mess. Her usual insistence that “ladies of the court must be prim and proper, first and foremost” now seemed like some sort of farce. She had more than likely tripped and fallen somewhere. Blood trickled down from a cut on her cheek.
“Please, won’t you come with me…and quickly!”
They continued on through the castle, the attendant pulling the girl along all the while.
The castle scenery that the girl should have been used to seeing by now—was now unrecognizable.
Everything was red.
It was all the color of blazing flames, the color of spattered blood—that overly familiar scenery had been crushed and dyed in the color of death and destruction. The once proudly-hoisted flags and the decorative paintings were up in flames, scattering embers everywhere. If the carpet hadn’t been soaked in massive amounts of blood, it likely would have gone up as well.
Numerous corpses littered the ground, both enemy and ally.
Counting them would have been truly impossible, as some of the pieces no longer resembled anything human.
Many of the bodies had been cut down with swords, but there were also corpses that had been burnt black, and others whose whole bodies had been melted down like wax. How on earth these people had died, she couldn’t even imagine.
There were corpses of men, women, children, and even the elderly.
The deaths of each and every one of them were laying there in plain view.
Walking through all that—
“It’s all right, Your Highness, it’ll be all right,” muttered the attendant as she weaved through the dead bodies, occasionally stepping over corpses as she continued onward. She sounded as though she was trying to reassure herself rather than the girl.
Neither tried to distinguish the corpses as ally or enemy. They couldn’t; there was no time for that.
“If we could just reach His Majesty’s quarters, where His Majesty is—”
It had taken them several times longer to get there than usual, but the girl and the attendant finally reached the castle’s inner sanctum.
It was a miracle that they hadn’t run into any enemy soldiers along the way.
“Your Majesty! I’ve brought the princess!” the lady-in-waiting shouted as she burst into the audience chamber.
She froze in place, stricken with terror.
Normally, an overabundance of retainers would be in the reception hall—a hundred or so. This enormous room, which could be called a symbol of the emperor’s authority, had been completely abandoned. The sunset’s dim light shone through the windows, dyeing the entire room a languid color.
And then—in the center.
The throne upon which the emperor’s figure should have been sitting—was empty.
The attendant couldn’t help but gasp. A short distance away from the throne, a man had collapsed face-down on the floor. She couldn’t see his face, but with that build, and with that lavish gold and silver thread woven through his clothing, anyone could tell at a glance who he was.
It was also evident—that this incredible man had already breathed his last.
A pool of blood gradually expanding across the marble floor told the tale.
The attendant stared out over the emperor’s body with bloodshot eyes.
Eight people were standing there in a semicircle.
All of them were armed: knights with their swords, and wizards with their Gundo. A demi-human with beast-like ears and a tail also seemed to be in the mix. Each one of them wore a different uniform, and their personal features and skin color varied from person to person. Most likely, this melting pot of troops had been gathered from a variety of countries.
“Your Majesty, Your Majesty, Your Majesty!?” the attendant continued to scream as she rushed over to the corpse and fell to her knees.
But in that next instant–
“Your Majesty, Your–”
A dull sound resounded through the reception hall.
One of the eight had moved forward. Using the long sword in his right hand, he had sliced off the attendant’s head—it seemed. She couldn’t definitively say it happened that way because she barely saw the sword move at all. She only saw that the swordsman was now adopting a different stance and that the atttendant’s head had flown off her body and whirled into the air, a surprised expression perpetually frozen on her face, so she’d simply come to that conclusion.
“Are you…the demon’s daughter?”
One of the eight spoke.
The eight collectively focused their lines of sight on her.
Though futile it had been, the attendant certainly had said I’ve brought the princess.
Therefore, it was already too late to deny it or play dumb. There was no way they’d show any mercy. No—even if the attendant hadn’t said anything, it would likely lead to the same conclusion.
In this castle infested with death, there was no one around to bat an eye if the body count went up by one or two. As a matter of fact, if they let a blood relative of the Taboo Emperor go, they’d pay for their negligence and would all end up dead—that was a natural thought process.
“Then there’s no way around it.”
“Even if she’s just a child, there can be no exceptions.”
”We must sever the root of our anxiety.”
The eight calmly began to approach.
“For the world.”
“Don’t you dare ask for mercy.”
The swordsman that had decapitated the lady could be seen raising his longsword.
“Now then—curse and scream to your heart’s content, for it will be your last action upon this earth.”
The year was 1604.
On the continent of Verbist, the era of vicious conflict spanning three hundred years had come to an end with the collapse of the Gaz Empire in the north.
Its military force had consisted of official knights and soldiers, as well as wizards, saboteurs and mercenaries. There had been about 620,000 troops in total, along with a number of magic-based weapons including three sky fortresses, an army of Feyra, and a group of special forces known as “dragon knights.” Even so, every single one was overcome, and the Gaz Empire, “the root of all evil”, was completely and utterly wiped from the face of the earth.
After the destruction of the Empire, six nations had come together to form an alliance and had mutually agreed to a peace treaty from then on, which was a formal declaration that the war had ended. The Gaz Empire was then divided up, as were the staggering amount of resources and wealth the Taboo Emperor had amassed. These great riches of the Gaz Empire were distributed among the six nations and were used for war reparations. The magic technology that the empire had prided itself on met with the same fate.
This was the long-awaited era of peace that everyone had yearned for.