Meanwhile, In Elf Land
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
Remiero, who had been in the midst of surveying the area around the village, raised a brow as he spotted something peculiar. It was a carriage. There was still some distance between it and the settlement, but it was clearly racing straight for the front gate.
Gazing through the telescopic crystal stationed at his vantage point allowed him to get a closer read on the situation. There were three people on board, all of which were human. And behind them, chasing after their horse-drawn transport, was one of the many undead abominations hanging around the forest. Most of the vile creations were slow, but this particular specimen happened to be more mobile than its peers.
The group’s composition, which seemed to be one driver accompanied by a pair of adventurers, was indicative of that of a merchant, specifically one from the city nearby.
Though the elven domain lay within a passive forest, it wasn’t all that far off from the beaten path. A large human city was only a day away by horse. The two communities had been actively trading on friendly terms for generations. In fact, this entire operation had only been made possible by the city’s governor. He had been the liaison that convinced the elves to host the meeting. The man in question was not the type to miss out on a profitable opportunity. This attitude could be seen in his policies. They were often heavily focused on the promotion of trade. That was why his city was home to a greater number of entrepreneurs than any other. Merchants flocked to it like moths to a candle.
After considering the circumstances, Remiero decided that it was likely best to save the three men. The undead dragon, however, put a wrench in the idea. He would have to deal with it one way or another, and quickly at that. It had yet to notice the caravan, but it was only a matter of time.
And as a head on approach was about as far from viable as it got, the only option was to lure the dragon again.
“I don’t want to put her in any more danger, but she’s the only one I can depend on for something like this.”
With a discontent frown, the old butler leapt from his perch and sought his successor.
“Don’t push yourself. Feel free to retreat immediately if you don’t think you’ll be able to keep it busy anymore.”
“Don’t worry, Remiero, I’ll buy you all the time you need,” said Nell. “Are you ready, boy?”
The dire wolf she was riding responded with an affirmative bark.
“Then let’s go!”
The old butler smiled to himself as he watched her vanish into the forest. She had been given a mount in order to aid her distracting the undead lizard, and not just any mount. The dire wolf was the queen’s personal familiar.
Their species was known to be cautious and proud. It was practically unthinkable for them to allow anyone but their masters on their backs. And yet, it had obeyed Nell’s every command without a shred of hesitation. The unexpected sight had left Napholahz flabbergasted. She had never expected that the hero would be able to tame the beast, even though she had agreed to lend him out. The comical sight of her royal majesty with her jaw dropped to the floor was still fresh in the old butler’s mind.
Nell’s handling of the beast suggested that it wasn’t her first time riding a wolf. She had mounted it with ease and sat comfortably on its back even without a saddle. She even seemed familiar with checking up on it to see how it was doing. He was confident that, with it at her beck and call, she was in as little danger as she could be, given the circumstances.
“They really do grow up in the blink of an eye.”
He smiled awkwardly as he realized that he really was getting on in the years. To him, it felt like she had only just joined the paladins. Even though he knew it to be an event that was several years old.
Driven by its instinctual need to end all living things, the dragon began chasing her the moment she exited the barrier obscuring her from its vision. It flapped its wings and dove with incredible speed homing in on her precise location.
Seeing that she had started to do her part, Remiero got to doing his. He squeezed his horse’s back with his thighs, signaling to rush towards the carriage he had spotted.
It only took a few minutes for the two parties to meet. It seemed that little had changed during the time that he worked to get everything ready. The driver was still panicked, and the adventurers accompanying him were continuing to desperately fend off the abomination.
“Keep going straight ahead! Don’t turn back!” Remiero shouted as he passed by.
Fighting the atrocity was no welcome experience. Its regeneration was the sort of problem that no swordsman enjoyed, a horrible matchup for a weapon focused on precision. But that didn’t stop from him leaping off his horse and flying at it like a human arrow the moment he was in range.
All that he had to do was shred it faster than it could regenerate. It was an approach that, in effect, relied on brute forcing his way through an otherwise difficult problem, but a viable one nonetheless.
His blade was drawn from its scabbard at a speed invisible to the human eye. It cleaved straight through the creature’s thighs, flesh and bone alike, without even a smidgeon of resistance. Now legless, the other half of its body began to collapse, but his next strike came before it could hit the ground, each hit transferring enough force into the undead to keep it in the air for as long as he wanted. The first parts to go were its arms. Then its head. And then, whatever was left of it was mangled beyond recognition by a barrage of cuts and slices.
It didn’t take long for its flesh to wriggle, as if to signal it was starting to regenerate. But that didn’t mean it was a threat. Or even anywhere close to becoming one.
Its sole remaining body part was split into two, two in four, and four into eight.
Each time the butler swung his blade, his target would be torn asunder. Though he gauged it no more of a threat, he erred on the side of caution and continued slashing at it for nearly a minute, stopping only when it ceased all signs of recovery. All that was left was a bloody torso, one marred by over a hundred distinct scars.
“Thank you, sir, you saved our lives!”
The merchant that had been driving the horse-drawn carriage approached Remiero and bowed his head repeatedly. His adventuring companions didn’t take long to join him.
“Thanks mate, none of our attacks were working on the damn thing.”
“Fuck, I thought I was going to die. We owe you big time.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad that you’re alright,” said Remiero. “Running into that thing was certainly a stroke of bad luck on your parts. Were you heading towards the elven village? If so, you picked a bad time to visit.”
“I was hoping to,” said the merchant. “But then we ran into that creepy dead thing. Oh, and I’m sure I might seem a bit suspicious, so here’s my permit.” He pulled out an envelope featuring a fancy looking stamp. “I’m licensed to trade with them. I wouldn’t worry about these two either. I hire them as guards every time I come here.”
“…So it seems.”
The businessman’s amicable smile was met by a cold frown.
“You some sort of knight, bro? With swordsmanship like that, I’m sure you must be in league with the big shots. Makes me want to ask you your na—”
Remiero’s blade flashed. The adventurer was cleaved into two before he could finish his sentence. The two halves of his body splattered all over the road, along with his blood, guts, and everything else.
“W-What the hell are you doing!?” screamed the merchant.
“W-what the fuck man!?” shouted the other adventurer.
While they reacted with shock, the old butler remained calm as ever.
“I wasn’t aware that they had human agents,” he said. “Tell me. Who are you working for? And what were you sent here to do?”
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about!” stuttered the merchant, terrified.
“You dug your own graves,” the butler explained. “While, yes, that is in fact an Elven Trade Permit, it isn’t yours. It’s already been made clear to all permit owners that entering into elven lands is currently strictly prohibited.” Remiero flicked the blood off his sword, then raised it in front of him. “I don’t know who you killed or stole from, but this is the end of the line. I might’ve allowed you to live if you claimed you were just another wandering caravan, but you clearly aren’t.”
“T-that excuse won’t hold in court, murderer!”
“If you really think that, then you should probably know that the permit will glow if its rightful owner channels their mana through it. Any real licensed merchant would know and show that when presenting their ID. Like I said earlier, you dug your own graves.”
The indignant pair changed their behaviour immediately. They went from being frightened to cold and frigid, as would professional killers. And without another word, they drew their weapons.
They knew there was no talking their way out of the situation they had at hand.
“I’m sure Nell’s husband will be very angry with me,” sighed Remiero. “I can’t believe I put her in danger for worms like you.”
After shaking his head in disappointment, the butler instantly dispatched both of his newfound targets.