Rest Stop — Part 2
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“Thank you for taking care of all the paperwork, Governor.” Nell shuffled her feet awkwardly as she retrieved our keys from the old man’s subordinate. “P-please excuse us.”
“Err… yeah, what she said. See ya later dude. And take it easy.” Like the hero, I turned my eyes away from the man I was speaking to out of a sense of shame.
“…Rest well. We will be departing first thing in the morning.”
After saying our goodbyes, we turned in the direction of our room and headed out for the night. Or at least that was what we had intended. I made it no further than halfway down the hall before freezing in place. A strange, tingling sensation had run up my spine. Danger was coming.
“Yuki? What’s wrong?” Nell turned to face me right as the expression on my face switched from one of alertness to one of annoyance.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake… I just wanted to kick back, take it easy, and relax. I guess that’s not happening anymore.” I sighed. “Get your sword ready. You’re probably going to need it.”
Her hands shot to her blade. One held up her sheath, and the other sat on the weapon’s hilt as she began scanning her surroundings. Though she wasn’t able to detect the threat I had hinted at, there was no doubt or questioning in her response, only trust.
“Is something the matter?” The manner in which we had both suddenly shifted gears caused the old governor to take notice.
“There’s a big-ass group of monsters inbound. They’re headed straight for the city.”
“How long will it take them to reach the city?” asked Nell.
“Not long. They’ll probably reach the walls in the next 30 minutes.”
I quickly looked over my map after answering her and made note of an oddity. The monster army shared our trajectory; they approached the city from the same direction we had. Is it just me, or does this seem like a setup?
The horde’s makeup was composed of orcs, ogres, goblins, and various other human-like monsters not considered a part of the intelligent races. There were a few other beast-like monsters as well, mainly boars and wolves. These creatures served as mounts and carried members of the more humanoid species on their backs.
My proclamation was met with something along the lines of a public announcement. The clamouring of what was probably a giant metal bell began ringing throughout the city, resounding off its outer walls and spreading through each and every one of its alleys. The other guests began to stir as they realized that there was an emergency. Local authorities shouted loudly in order to calm the people down and steer them to safety. Their voices were so loud I could clearly hear them even through the inn’s thick walls.
“I almost find it difficult to believe that you were able to detect them more quickly than the watchmen even without the use of your eyes,” said the governor, “but I suppose I should have expected nothing less from a demon lord.”
“Yeah, well, where I live, you’ve gotta be at least this good at sniffing out potential threats if you don’t want to die,” I said. “Anyway, you’re supposed to be some kinda big shot politician nowadays, right? Shouldn’t you be getting the hell outta here and holing yourself up somewhere safe?”
“Of course not. As a member of the nobility, it is my duty to step forward precisely at times like these and fight for the people. Sir Gamdia!”
“At your service, my liege!”
The other person I recognized, the old commander, straightened his back, stepped forward from his position at the governor’s side, and even saluted for added effect the moment his name was called.
“Rally every last man. This is no time to rest,” said Raylow, without a moment’s hesitation. “Inform them that we will be marching to Governor Nigel’s manor immediately, and that we will be offering him our aid.”
“By your command, sir. I’ll have them ready to depart immediately.”
The knight left with all the vigour and energy typically exhibited by members of the military and began acting on his orders without a moment’s delay.
“Yuki, could you please… help me help them?” asked Nell.
“Sure. I don’t mind. Hell, you didn’t even need to say please.” I shrugged as I flashed my teeth. Evidently, the combination of the statement and my nonchalant reaction had eased Nell’s worries, as the somber expression on her face was soon replaced with a smile.
“Are the two of you planning to take action?” asked the governor as he approached.
“Well, I won’t do nothing. I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep too well with bells going off and idiots pounding at the gates all night,” I grumbled. “Besides, little miss hero over here decided to ask me to help, so now I’m more or less obligated to pitch in, one way or another. I’m probably going to fly around for a bit, put a plan together, and act on it once I figure out exactly what’s going on.”
“Which direction are they coming from?” asked Nell.
“Same direction we came from, which is pretty weird because literally none of the monsters there were even the slightest bit hostile while we were passing through, but whatever.”
“Okay. If that’s the case, then I’ll head straight for the gate. Can you keep me updated if you learn anything important?”
“Sure. I’ll make sure I stop by the gate once I finish scouting things out.” I turned to face the governor. “So yeah, we’re basically gonna play it by ear.”
“If that’s the case, we’ll be operating under the assumption that you’ll be working alongside us,” he said. “Normally, this would be the type of situation in which I would have to prepare myself for death, but with the two of you here, I feel much more at ease.”
“I got this. Everything’ll be fine. Hell, you could probably just kick back and chill, right Nell?”
“Maybe. It depends on whether or not you mess up and start screaming profanities at the top of your lungs,” she said. “Because you let your guard down, trip over your own feet, and end up doing exactly that all the time.”
“Oh, shush,” I averted my gaze. “But you’re right. I’ll make sure I keep my eyes peeled.”
“I doubt I’ll have anything to worry about if the two of you are that relaxed,” laughed the governor. “But whatever the case, I wish you the best of luck.”
Alfyro’s governor, Raylow Lurubia, burst into his colleague’s manor with such fervour that the other lord had almost mistaken him for an attacker.
“Sir Raylow!? Why are you here?” Sengillia’s governor turned away from the guard he was speaking to and faced the entrance to his mansion.
“I was on my way to the capital and chose to spend the night at a local inn. I rushed over the moment I realized that the city was in danger. Please let me know if there is anything my troops and I can do to help.”
“That seems rather unfortunate on your part, but I’m grateful you’re here. Fighting alongside the man once known as the god of war is very reassuring indeed.”
“That was a long, long time ago, Sir Nigel,” laughed Raylow, dryly. “Would you happen to have any detailed information of the situation at hand. I’ve learned nothing beyond the fact that we are being attacked by a horde of monsters.”
“I see your ears are as sharp as always, Sir Raylow. Nothing truly escapes you, does it?” Nigel sighed. “It is exactly as you say. One of the men standing watch spotted a legion of monsters marching towards the town. There are hundreds of them approaching, and not nearly as many of us.”
“Hundreds? That certainly is quite the number…”
“To be exact, their ranks are made of orcs, ogres, goblins, and various riders. Many of the species spotted are of the menace class in terms of their threat level.” Sengillia’s lord pinched the bridge of his nose. “If I must be, it is effectively a stampede, and one that occurred without any warning.”
Nigel’s expression was grim. There was a chance he would soon lose everything, that his men, his people, and even his life would soon be forfeit. For a moment, Raylow shared in his gloom, but unlike the other man’s, Raylow’s frown was stained with hope.
“There is a stroke of luck in all this,” he muttered.
“What are you trying to say?”
“Or perhaps not. It depends on the viewpoint.” Raylow sighed. “It frustrates me to rely almost entirely on their efforts. Hiding behind a greater power in the face of violence is cowardly. But I can confidently say that, with the two of them present, the cleanup is sure to be a much greater worry than the invasion itself.”
Nigel wasn’t quite able to keep up with Raylow’s rant, so he ended up raising a brow as he listened to the man speak of a solution that only those already in the know would understand.