Guns and bombs, collectively known as “firearms,” are a highly despised class of weaponry in this pre-modern fantasy world.
They are often referred to as ‘weapons of the poor.’ In a world with mana and sensory magic, long-range projectile weapons are never considered ideal materials and are unlikely to be crafted by skilled artisans.
If they are made at all, they are crafted by people of modest skill, used by individuals of similar proficiency, and most shots miss, resulting in bloodshed devoid of romance, chivalry, or justice.
Thus, the mere presence of a gun is a good indication of an opponent’s skill. As for using explosives, it was a foregone conclusion.
The materials to produce sufficient quantities of high-quality, powerful bombs are managed as a strategic resource at the national level. Therefore, it’s nearly impossible to prepare one that can burn down a building.
At best, it would cause only minor casualties, so why be afraid?
There will be dozens of casualties, but conversely, the cost doesn’t equate to the extensive effort and human resources invested.
However, just like a kitchen knife can still hurt you if it’s plunged into your body. A firearm, even if it’s not a superhuman weapon, is the Grim Reaper to a civilian.
These simple instruments of death, with their capacity to bring about demise at the pull of a trigger, inexplicably grant the wielder a sense of courage and exaltation.
“Haa… Haa….” (Thug A)
“Why the rush back? You should’ve stayed low!” (Thug B)
“Brother… Can’t believe that knight’s still poking around! If I hung around, I’d probably end up stabbed like last time!” (Thug A)
“You little punk… the knight in that crib won’t tail you for long, he’s on babysitting duty, just make a run for it!” (Thug B)
“If that’s your plan, handle it yourself, but don’t cry if that guy jabs your eyes out!” (Thug A)
The man grumbled and shuddered. It was his job to watch the house where Isabelle, the Hero’s daughter, was staying.
No matter how talented she is, she’s just a kid. That means following and spying would be easy.
However, it’s a different story when there’s a protector. If the bodyguard happens to be a well-trained knight, it becomes a more significant issue.
Bullets are futile against a knight. This is common knowledge.
Approaching them with a gun is akin to sticking your head into a lion’s maw.
“The deadline’s breathing down our necks, and no word from the big shots? This crap’s getting old, been a whole damn week.” (Thug A)
“Sir Dionar should hit Frechenkaya today or tomorrow, and we kick things off the day after that.” (Thug B)
“I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard his name. Is he for real, though?” (Thug A)
“He’s almost here. Tight border checks got him walking.” (Thug B)
“Damn, all the way from Drovian to here?” (Thug A)
The guys shuffled through the alley, shooting the breeze. They’re just keeping tabs on Isabelle. Anyway, it don’t matter unless she decides to stroll around today.
As long as she’s there on the big day, that’s all that matters.
“I see. Dionar Eriksson.” (Ivan,)
The two men walking down the deserted alleyway came to a halt.
Their gazes crossed.
Did he tail you?!” (Thug B)
Nah, I was being damn careful. (Thug A)
Well, what the hell is that, jerk? (Thug B)
The guys shot each other looks, then booked it.
It doesn’t matter who that guy’s talking with. Only two things matter.
That he’s got the name Dionar Eriksson, and they didn’t clock earlier they were in earshot.
In plain talk, the mystery guy’s the heavy hitter. The underdog’s move is always the same.
“Fuck!” (Thug B)
The man who had been running ahead pulled out a small bead from his pocket, scattered it, and then ran out of the alley.
The bead exploded, filling the alley with thick smoke. It was a cheap smoke bomb with no toxicity.
Ivan chuckled and followed the fleeing men.
He didn’t hurry. He knew that, rather than chasing the strong who catch up, the one catching up despite the speed difference brings even greater fear.
Interrogation is a refined art. Mindlessly yelling, torturing, and threatening blur the resolution of information, an evil hand in the quality of intelligence.
The acquisition of accurate information must begin by crumbling the psychological foundation of the opponent.
Ivan pierced through the smoke and continued walking in the direction the men had fled.
Breathing deeply, reminiscing about the past.
Ecdysis was blankly staring at the night sky from the bedroom terrace.
“Uncle is dead.”
His death had even led her father to offer condolences. Though the situation was delicate, preventing him from attending the funeral, her father had spent a considerable time drowning his sorrows in alcohol after returning.
She raised her hand absentmindedly.
Somewhere near the corner of her mouth, hesitating.
Apart from the beard, there seemed to be similarities when you really looked, and it was both scary and entirely different.
Bright blue eyes, well-defined features, graceful eyebrows, and nose.
Yeah, it seemed somewhat similar.
Ecdysis shook her head. This is a bad thought.
Uncle Ivan died as a great warrior. After slaughtering the Seven Dragons, he sacrificed himself, allowing the survival of a few members of the party.
That’s an extraordinary feat. The Seven Dragons were formidable opponents, even by the standards of the warrior parties of that time.
Confusing such a noble man just because he “resembles” someone would be nothing short of an insult to him.
Originally, the idea that Uncle Ivan would flirt with Isabelle, sleep with Professor Enrique, and simultaneously indulge his sexual preferences while stalking university students seems absurd. (Of course, it is.)
Feeling sorry for equating such a low-life with Uncle Ivan, Ecdysis bowed her head with a pained expression.
Drovian’s religion follows the common faith of the United Kingdom, following the ‘God of Light.’ However, it has a peculiarly distorted afterlife belief mixed with traditional customs.
A great warrior believes in continuing eternal struggle alongside the ‘God of Light’ in the afterlife.
Since darkness is always the enemy of light, warriors wield their swords against the darkness on behalf of the god in the deep night.
Those traces are the stars. The countless stars in the sky are the warriors who have departed to be with the god.
So, thinking that Ivan’s star might be somewhere up there, Ecdysis whispered politely while bowing her head.
“Uncle, I miss you. Lately, a bit more. I picked up an instrument as you suggested. It’s not easy, but I’m working hard. I’ve made many friends too. I’m doing well.”
Since the stars don’t appear during the day, you might not know what happened during the day.
“So please watch over me. When I graduate, once I become proficient enough, I’ll play a eulogy for you in front of your grave. So that your sacrifice wasn’t in vain, and the world remains as beautifully as it does.”
With tears in her eyes, she gripped her handkerchief and sobbed.
She never dared to think of playing at night. She couldn’t let Uncle Ivan hear her unskilled playing.
Therefore, Ecdysis wiped away her tears determinedly and stood up from her seat.
Due to the confusing events during the day, going to sleep early was out of the question. Since tomorrow was a day off anyway, she decided to take a night stroll.
“Uncle Mord! Let’s go out for a bit!”
“Well, let’s do that.”
Mord, who was cleaning weapons downstairs, shrugged and stood up.
The two of them ventured out into the summer night streets of Frechenkaya in casual attire.
King Einar has numerous brothers. Huskal, the king’s loyal companion. They are killing machines who willingly obey the king with bright and happy emotions like loyalty, friendship, love (not in a strange sense), and hope.
These lively slaughterers usually stay in the king’s palace. They celebrate festivals every night, revel in meat and alcohol, and dedicate their lives to fighting among themselves.
From Ivan’s perspective, they are like organized thugs. It wouldn’t be wrong to say they are organized and violent.
But there are rules among thugs. Their only law is ‘boss.’
As long as you consistently provide them with meat and alcohol and maintain a force worthy of their respect, there is no more loyal and robust group of force on the continent than these thugs.
Therefore, instances of Huskal betraying are extremely rare. The key point here is the word “extremely rare.”
The word “rare” implies that it did happen at some point in history.
And history proves that once something happens, it can happen again.
The betrayal of the faithful is the most painful of all.
“A spring for the citizens?” (Ivan)
“Yeah! Th-that’s it! I don’t know anything more… Seriously… So, that’s it. Stop asking about that…”
“You want more of a healing potion?”
“Don’t be ridiculous! How can that be a healing potion!!”
After causing turmoil for the poor guy in agony, Ivan straightened his back and stood up.
Even with that small movement, the guy cowered with a gasp, trembling uncontrollably.
“A spring for the citizens. Quite poetic for a rebel faction.”
Ivan chuckled bitterly. In this primitive pre-modern society, strangely, the group to which this guy belonged had the characteristics of a multinational human rights organization.
Of course, only on the surface.
‘A single person’s longevity and a single sword should never wield power over the absolute majority…’
Wasn’t that a slogan of democratic revolution?
However, Ivan knew this was nothing more than sweet propaganda.
Unlike Earth, this world has mana. This magical resource, literally, is a special material that can be anything from a nose ring to an earring.
Enhancing an individual’s strength to split mountains and soar through the sky, amplifying a person’s hearing, smell, and vision to animal levels – that’s what magic weaving can achieve.
It’s a special material that, when crafted into magic, can demolish fortresses and massacre armies.
The overwhelming power that an individual can achieve solely through talent and effort makes democracy meaningless in itself.
He, who had lived in a democratic society, could be even more convinced of this.
Contrary to many misconceptions, rights don’t simply arise from obligations. They are established based on a societal system where one can claim and maintain those rights.
And that societal system is naturally upheld by force. Overwhelming force. The driving force that enables the state to enforce obligations on individuals.
In a world where mana exists, equality among people is impossible. It’s a sad truth, especially in a world with demons, elves, and dwarves.
So, this is a malicious propaganda with a pleasant-sounding message, trying to sugarcoat the harsh reality.
And one more thing.
“An international organization in a world where there are no means of communication except for letters and messages.”
Even in a world where phone calls and video calls are common, establishing an international organization was extremely challenging, especially during the pre-modern era. Naturally, it implies that there is a power behind maintaining such a large-scale organization.
Isn’t it ironic? The nature of the organization created by those in power is democratic. It may seem like a beautiful ‘top-down revolution’ at first glance, but the world is not a utopia from a fairy tale.
All those in power act rationally for their own ambitions.
“Alexander. I don’t know what you’re up to, but you’re using your head well.”
Ivan chuckled and shook his head.
‘Targeting children of the Hero Party was part of the propaganda.”
Their slogan is the ‘salvation of the many from the domination of the few.’
If we consider the hero party as a symbol of the power of the old era representing a few powerful individuals, it makes sense. They surpass the level of the state with their individual strength.
Therefore, if the reason for targeting children of the hero party is indeed terrorism aimed at the hereditary power of individuals, it’s plausible. This is an achievement that they can directly show to the people who are seemingly naive.
Ivan nodded approvingly at the unfolding story of the past days.
‘The field practice terrorism wasn’t a mere coincidence.’
Recalling the demon insurgents who had remarkably accurately identified the location and nature of the field practice to assassinate children of the hero party, Ivan narrowed his eyes.
Someone in the Krasilov monarchy, military administration, or bureaucracy had sold and leaked information.
And this would be nothing more than a preview of numerous future terrorist acts. An organization of this magnitude wouldn’t be deterred by just one or two failures.
Ivan chuckled bitterly. What is the young prince, who used to show so much promise, thinking now, and what is he planning?
What does he want? Dismantling the monarchy, collapsing the United Kingdom, and undermining the authority and public opinion of the nobles—what benefit does such an act bring to him?
And why was Veolgrin chasing Alexander?
Where did Maximilian disappear to?
Thoughts piled up clearly. Ivan sighed.
The simplest way to untangle a complex knot is to cut the knot itself.
Ivan slung the axe over his shoulder.
“To contact Dionar Eriksson., where should I go?”