The Lady of the Lake
Limalisha was blown away by the blast of wind, her back slamming heavily into the trunk of a tree.
She couldn’t help but let out a low moan as she tried to get up.
The pain in her back was quite severe. Reaching her hand to her back, she found that the leather armor felt wet to the touch. A bad feeling came over her and she brought her palm back to her eyes.
The palm that had touched her back was stained red with blood.
“Ah… this is a fatal wound.”
She had fought everywhere as a mercenary, so it was obvious at first glance.
‘This is going to be a problem,’ She thought to herself, looking up at the sky.
It was dark, and the trees around her were so tall that they formed a canopy that blocked out the setting sun. The vision began to blur. There were explosions in the distance. It must be Tigre and the others fighting.
The opponent was probably the enemy that caused the explosion that blew her away. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a black shadow flying overhead that looked like a black flying dragon, Vyfal.
“Is it an enemy that can manipulate black dragons?”
Zhcted’s crest also has a black dragon painted on it. It’s a founding legend that every Zhctedian knows.
“I must go.”
She got up shakily.
“Lord Tigrevurmud must be protected.” In her growing haze of consciousness, Limalisha kept repeating the phrase.
When she had first met him, he had been a simple and overly forthright child, like a brother to her.
He probably didn’t remember that incident. It was two years ago. She was seventeen then, and he was fourteen.
By secret order of Eleonora, Limalisha had traveled to Alsace, the border land between Brune and Leitmeritz. At the time she disguised herself as a common traveler.
Her main task was investigation. After Eleoneora became a war princess and had mastered the entire land of Leitmeritz to a certain extent, she decided to confirm the surrounding situations with her own eyes. However, as a war princess, she couldn’t go to the neighboring country herself, so she decided to send Limalisha, who was known as her right-hand, on her behalf.
Although Alsace is an Earl’s domain, but it was not wealthy, it had a small population, and there were no industries that were particularly popular. The territory consisted of only one town and four villages, which were so insignificant that they were not even worth invading – that’s what was written in the notes left by war princess before Elen. And the people who had served the Duchy of Leitmeritz for generations also held the same opinion.
After seeing it with her own eyes when she was there, Lim felt that it was a poor but generous territory.
Everyone had a smile on their face, and the town was filled with the simple, rural energy of the countryside. It must be because of the character of the lord, Earl Vorn. Lim wanted to meet him in person, but was unable to do so during a reconnaissance mission to conceal her original identity. The only person she was able to meet was the only son of Earl Vorn who had come to the town with her, Tigrevurmud Vorn.
Tigrevurmud Vorn was a cheerful and unassuming young man. At the time, the boy was feeling inferior because he was not good at martial arts other than archery and was worried that he would not be able to fit in with the noble society, so he asked her for advice when he first met her.
The first son of the earl, even though he had a generous personality, poured out his heart to an ordinary female traveler.
It was clear that he was at a loss as to what to do. Since he said he wanted to hear from her heart, Lim thought hard and gave him an answer.
‘Sometimes it’s better to build on your strengths than to fix your weaknesses. Better yet, think of ways to make the most of your strengths.’
This was what the man who taught her swordsmanship when Lim was a mercenary had said, and she had told Tigre this in its original form. After thinking for a moment, he asked this.
“I’ve heard that archery is more valued in other countries than in Brune. How much do you think my personal archery is worth?”
“I don’t know how good you are with a bow, but I’ve heard that good snipers are hard to come by. If you want to be a wandering knight, then cross the mountains to Leitmeritz. I hear the war princess of that land is recruiting good soldiers.”
It was only a whim that suggested him to go to Leitmeritz. She thought it would be interesting if he really came to join the army afterwards, but she didn’t think about it at all–what if he did come?
“Whether it’s for the sake of joining the army when the time comes, or to inherit your father’s position later on, you should learn the language well first.”
Limalisha had traveled extensively and was already fluent and comfortable in several languages. She not only spoke Zhcted and Brune, but also Sachstein and Asvarre, which she told Tigre on the spot.
She also told Tigre that for an individual, communication was a matter of life and death. And in the diplomatic settings of the nobles, learning more languages than others would be more advantageous than others in gathering information. There was absolutely no downside to learning languages anyway. These were all things that Limalisha had experienced firsthand.
The young son of Earl Vorn’s family nodded his head in agreement to her suggestion once he heard “learning” although he appeared to have a difficult face.
“Then, do you really want to visit a foreign country?”
When Lim asked him that, Tigre immediately shook his head and said.
“No, I’m just talking about hypotheticals. I love this Alsace so much. I want to know what I can do to protect this land.”
His straightforward smile made a good impression on her.
That kind of refreshing smile, she had seen it several times before.
It was similar to the smile of her master, Eleonora.
(Ahhh, so that’s how it was──) Then she understood. So, he was also from that side.
“However, if it’s for Alcass’s sake, it’s a good thing to broaden your knowledge.”
Unintentionally, the words came out of her mouth.
Did she say that because she wanted to see him grow, or because she had other feelings? In the present she herself was not sure.
At that time Tigre looked puzzled, and they parted. After about a year, she got the chance to officially visit Alsace as an emissary. When she saw him again there, he didn’t recognize Limalisha, but when he was greeting her in language of Zhcted, she realized how much he had grown over the past year.
The reason for suggesting that Tigre go to Leitmeritz was definitely not just because she had seen his bowmanship.
Then, six months ago.
Tigrevurmud Vorn came to Leitmeritz. Unfortunately, Elen, the Lord and War Princess, was not present, so it was Limalisha who greeted him instead.
“Lord Tigrevurmud. You are a guest, but during this time, you will have to study through the practicalities with me as the princess’s agent.”
She said so, and then took him on official business. When there was an incident within the territory, they would go out together to settle it, and when there was a dispute with the neighboring territory, she would ask him to go with her so that he could actually see the mediation. Sometimes he is also asked to give his opinion and even refer to it.
Particularly regarding matters of the mountains and forests, Tigrevurmud Vorn was often able to offer a local perspective that benefited Lim herself. More importantly, he was able to see the hardships and difficulties of the city folk. And with a vision as sharp as a hawk’s, he was able to see through what the crowd missed.
Yes, just unconsciously.
Limalisha found herself relying on his opinion as a matter of course. Listening to him speak, she felt a strange sense of clarity in her head.
It was an amazing thing. And for Lim, there was something about such a discovery that made her happy.
And the fact that he called her by a nickname like “Lim” also made her happy.
“But, it looks like I’m done here.”
Being injured this badly wouldn’t last long enough to make it back to him alive.
Even if she could join him, she would only become a burden to him. He had been allowed to test shoot a few times while in Leitmeritz, so everyone around him knew how excellent he was with the bow. Everyone knew that he was an expert archer who could shoot at a target three hundred alsin (about three hundred meters) away.
It was only after arriving on this island of Asvarre that it became clear that even such an assessment had underestimated him. She didn’t think he could even defeat a dragon.
“He’s surpassed me before I knew it…”
At first, I thought I was his teacher.
Thought I was the one guiding him. But unknowingly, it was him who was ahead of me instead. He was able to use his original qualifications to the fullest, which made Lim feel happy.
It was a shame that I would never be able to witness his growth again.
To what extent would Tigrevurmud Vorn actually grow? I really want to know.
-I still have to go. Even if it was beyond my reach.
Limalisha took a step.
A puddle of blood immediately spurted out of her mouth. Returning to him with a body like this would only be a burden. However, she couldn’t stop. She knew that the current state of her body was only a trivial matter. Even if she returned intact, it would still only pull his leg.
In the previous battle with the Flying Dragon, she had already dragged him down.
Judging from the information she had so far, he would still have to face that kind of powerful enemy. At that time, there would be no place for Limalisha. At most, she could only command the other soldiers to stand farther back to avoid getting in his way.
Right. Even after Elen got the Dragonic Weapon, Limalisha’s role changed in this way as well.
“Elen, my dear friend. I was really happy when you became a war princess. At the same time… there was a little, really only a little, uneasiness.”
It was only after she spoke from her heart that her true feelings dawned on her.
Ah, so that’s how it was.
It was only at that moment that she realized her true feelings.
It turned out that she wasn’t satisfied. Just standing one step behind Elen wasn’t enough for her anymore.
If she were with him, she would have been able to walk side by side, to pursue a higher realm with him – a superficial thought that she was holding groundlessly in her heart.
But in hindsight, she realized that everything was mistake.
In the end, Limalisha was different from him and Elen, always just a mortal, just an ordinary person that was everywhere. She is just a stone, destined to admire the brilliance of a jewel.
-So this is what happens when you have such a deluding wish?
Limalisha raised her mouth sarcastically.
From a certain point of view, perhaps that was fine.
It’s not possible for a person to fly, even if you have ambition to do so. It is better to end up in this stage of life than to keep on struggling to death, suffering with ambition.
Better? Better for what?
Limalisha clenched her fists tightly and bit her lip.
For an easy life?
The pursuit of an easy life should have been abandoned a long time ago. If she had only wanted an easy life, she would have stayed in that peaceful town for the rest of her life as a civil servant’s daughter. She left her hometown with Elen of her own free will. She wanted to pursue a higher realm, to pursue it endlessly, even if she ended up dead – was it all a lie, all that I wanted, all that I had in mind?
In a whisper, the feelings were voiced.
Once the emotion spilled out, it couldn’t be stopped, and her mind was filled with thoughts of regret. “I don’t want this.” Lim shook her head. “If I ended here, then I really wouldn’t know why I’ve been fighting so hard so far.”
“No, no, no, no….”
Spitting blood from her mouth, her foot takes another step forward. Take a step. One more step. She vomits blood violently, then drags herself to take another step forward. Exerting all her remaining strength, she took another step forward.
That was her limit.
She fell forward from the head. She thought her face would hit the ground hard, but unexpectedly, water splashed out – her body fell into the water.
She swallowed the water and began to struggle.
Is this a water fountain? Or the lake?
Lim had lost the strength to even open her eyes. She wondered if Tigre would be more worried if he couldn’t find her body. Let’s hope he doesn’t spend too much time searching for body.
Now was not the time for that sort of thing. Every second counts, and the impostor king’s army must be brought to heel as soon as possible….
At that moment, a singing voice came from nowhere.
It was a clear, female voice.
Is it the calling voice from the land of the dead? What kind of mythology does Asvarre have in this regard? No. Since I’m a Zhctedian, is it only right that the country of the dead that I should go to is also in Zhcted…?
Limalisha heard someone calling out to her, so she pricked up her ears and listened intently.
For some reason, strength was gradually returning. The other end of her tightly closed eyelids filled with a bright light. She slowly opened her eyes to see that her body was floating in the water.
In front of her, there was a woman.
The woman was naked, while her skin was incredibly glistening and unlike a human. The color of her hair was a wonderful green, and probably no one on this island or the continent had hair like that. The eyes emitted a golden glow, bizarrely so.
But incredibly, no hostility could be felt from her at all.
The green-haired woman swam slowly towards Limalisha. At that moment, she noticed that the woman was holding two short swords in her hands. One of the swords had a blue blade and the other was red.
For some reason, the part the woman was holding wasn’t the hilt of the sword, but rather the unsheathed blade. She came to Limalisha and handed over the two short swords to her.
──This is for…for me?
She hesitated. Because, she could tell at a glance that it was an extraordinary weapon, something similar to Elen’s. Arifar.
──Do I really have that kind of value?
Limalisha knew full well that she was only mortal, there was absolutely no way she could become like Eleonora, there was absolutely no way she could become like Tigrevurmud Vorn. Can such a self really take these two swords?
The green-haired woman was smiling.
It was a delicate smile that could melt the heart. It was a smile that said, “You can.”
With determination and trepidation, Limalisha stretched out her hands and grasped the hilt of a sword in each hand.
Her heart was beating fast, and her head was heating up from the depths.
An illusion of blood boiling throughout her body came over her, making her scream aloud. But the sound couldn’t come out, only bubbles came out of her mouth. It was only logical that the lack of air in the water should have been excruciating, but miraculously, she didn’t feel that pain at all. Bubbles kept coming out of her mouth one after another, and the burning sensation of her whole body made Lemurialisha twist and struggle.
『Sanction to the resurrected dead.』
The female voice sounded in her head.
The dead? Sanction?
What does that even mean? By the way, was the voice really coming from the wom an in front of me?
Limalisha thought with her still not quite clear mind. She then recalled the situation when the Dragonic Weapon Arifar suddenly appeared in front of Elen and Elen picked it up.
She said that somehow she felt the will of Arifar. The will coming from it is very vague, it can’t be called words, but it just doesn’t make sense to understand what Arifar is thinking.
Not into a conversation.
If that was the way artifacts and people talked to each other, then the one in front of her was very clearly different. With clear words, this voice called out to Limalisha in her head.
“What do you want me to do?”
She asked the woman in front of her. Even though she was in the water, incredibly, she was able to make her own voice clearly.
But now she was no longer surprised at all. It now felt like a dream, and she naturally took in the phenomenon before her. Before she knew it, the wound on her back was no longer painful. Maybe this really was a dream. No, maybe she wasn’t alive anymore….
『Sanction the dead. Punish those who distort the destiny of the dead.』
“What exactly does “dead” mean? What’s this about twisting destiny?”
『Therefore, I will give you this in the name of the gods.』
This object – the woman said, pointing at the two short swords in Limalisha’s hands.
The colors of the swords were blue and red respectively, shining so brightly as if they themselves would glow. The touch should have been metal, but it wasn’t as heavy as iron, at most it was about the same weight as the wooden hilt of the sword.
Could it be that it was actually a wooden sword body that was coated with some kind of special paint?
No, it shouldn’t be that way. Somehow, that’s how she felt. Her senses strongly told her that the material that formed it was a completely different substance than the metal she usually uses.
Because she could hear it.
A kind of – a sound that was not a voice.
She just understood. The thought of the twin swords automatically flowed into Limalisha’s heart.
A sound that didn’t become a sound. Even though her ears didn’t hear anything, that sound would just permeate her mind, and Limalisha naturally understood it. The feeling that she had heard Elwn say in the past, she was now experiencing it.
“You both are the same as Arifar, right?”
The reason why it is said “you both” is because the two swords claim separately that they are different existences.
The two swords conveyed clear thoughts in unvoiced voices, and Limalisha could clearly distinguish that they were two different consciousnesses. They spoke to her with intense enthusiasm.
Their unspoken words were full of warmth and gently embraced her. And so, Limalisha instantly fell in love with these twin swords. And she could also understand through her feelings that the two swords also had affection for her.
But in addition to the affection, the twin swords also reflected another, stronger emotion to her.
It was an absolute hatred for the dead.
“Hate, the dead.”
Lim muttered to herself. The woman before her had also said that she wanted to sanction the dead.
She had originally thought that “the dead” should be a more abstract term; but the feelings coming from the twin swords made Limalisha intuitively understand what it was.
『Revived, the impure thing.』
The instant the words were uttered, a horrifying feeling of disgust ran through Limalisha’s entire body. That was the feeling coming from the twin swords. What on earth was that thing? The only possible answer came to mind.
Guinevere said it was–
In the beginning, Guinevere said that “The dead have come back to life.
Then she remembered the bone the princess had shown them.
It was a hand bone. She said that when the tomb was dug up in the temple of Artorius, this was all that was left inside. And the man who had killed her blood relative had only one arm.
Even so, there was no way she would take such a thing as the resurrection of the dead seriously.
It was supposed to be that way. But….
What if the character who claims to be the Patriarch Artorius is really the Patriarch Artorius himself? What if the original Artorius did rise from the grave?
The horrible feeling of shuddering all over her body turned the doubt in Limalisha’s heart into conviction.
『Sanction for the dead who are impure.』
The woman said again. Now, Lim could understand the meaning of the words. What exactly she wanted from Limalisha and what the pair of twin swords in her hands were, it was all clear now. But……..
Is it because I’m to be here?
Perhaps that was it. Limalisha was mortal – she knew that better than anyone. She was different from Elen and Tigre. If that’s the case… there’s no other reason for her to be chosen other than “she happens to be here”.
But even if that was the case, it didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s a power that she got by chance. These twin swords would give her power, the strength to stand beside Tigre.
However, the woman shook her head as if she had seen through these thoughts of Limalisha. “It’s not like that” that’s what she seemed to mean.
『You appeared where you were supposed to be when you were supposed to be there. Everything is like a promise.』
Although Limalisha didn’t know what kind of pact it was, she was able to readily accept the explanation. She tightly gripped the hilts of the swords in her hands. And as if in response to her heart, the twin swords emitted a blue and red glow.
The body floated lightly upwards. The soft glow enveloped Limalisha’s entire body.The figure of the woman floating in front of her gradually disappeared.
Limalisha closed her eyes. She felt quite comfortable and at ease, as if all her muscles were soothed and relaxed.
She awoke to find herself on the shore of a lake.
She stood up. Her body was soaked through, but miraculously unharmed and completely pain-free. She couldn’t see her back, but she reached over to touch it and the bleeding seemed to have stopped.
She was holding a short sword in each hand.
The hilts of the swords were blue and red respectively. However, the will from the sword could not be felt now. Looking over to the lake, it was shrouded in fog, so she couldn’t see the other end, but the lake seemed wide. She also remembered Guinevere saying that there was no lake around here, what is going on here??
It was unfounded, but Limalisha probably knew the reason.
This lake was hidden.
It was a place where only people who were meant to be here could come. That must be it. Normally, Limalisha wouldn’t believe in such a thing and would only dismiss it as a plot from a mythological story. But what she had just experienced firsthand was exactly the kind of scenario that would only happen in a mythological story.
The sound of an explosion came from the distance.
Judging from the position of the sun, not much time should have passed.
Lim said with two swords on her hands.
There was no response from the swords.
Limalisha ran in the direction of the explosion. The thing to do was clear, and she felt she understood everything.