An Event In The Prince’s Study
“Shit! God fucking damn it!”
Riutt Glorio Allysia smashed his desk as profanities flew from his mouth, one after another.
The report that’d just entered his ears had ignited in him an irrepressible fury. One of his recent initiatives, the Wicked Forest Expedition, had more than just ended in failure. Its outcome was the absolute worst possible. The entire expedition force had basically been annihilated. The only unit that survived was the one that’d turned tail and fled from the enemy. Every other soldier and mercenary they’d sent had failed to return. They’d been completely destroyed.
Naturally, the man in charge of the unit that had survived was judged a coward. He was immediately removed from his post and permanently blacklisted from the Allysian knight order.
“Fucking damn it!” The prince gave his table one last smack as he thought through the consequences of his failure. He had promised his investors profit. He told them that they were sure to benefit so long as they trusted him with their funds and believed in him. But he failed. He had nothing to show to those that had supported him. And that wasn’t even the end of it. Riutt understood that the blunder had taken a toll on his reputation. He knew that he had turned many off from investing in his future exploits, and that the expedition had become a blatant black stain on his record.
To make matters worse, the Wicked Forest Expedition was something he’d put together without the king’s permission. He ignored the bureaucracy and acted entirely of his own accord. If he’d succeeded, he would have been able to brush off the resulting criticism by emphasizing his newfound achievements. But he did not. And so, he was prone to blame and punishment. His crime was so grave that he would have been court martialed had he not been a prince. Fortunately, his status allowed him to escape conviction, but that didn’t mean he was scot-free. Some sort of punishment was inevitable if his actions and their consequences were ever brought to light.
Riutt had no choice but to somehow make up for his failure. If he didn’t, his name would remain sullied, and his reputation smeared with mud. The nobles wouldn’t obey him, even after he inherited his father’s throne.
“What now, my lord?” The only other individual in the prince’s office raised his voice. “The expedition’s failure was likely due to a lack of personnel. We’ll need to send an even larger group if we wish to succeed, but it doesn’t look like we can. His Majesty will likely catch wind of our actions if we do.”
“I fucking know already goddamnit! I don’t need you reminding me.” The prince’s immediate reaction was to shout, but he realized that losing his temper wouldn’t be to his benefit, so he took a deep breath and calmed himself before continuing. “If quantity isn’t an option, then we’ll have to resort to using quality instead. Why don’t we employ that one group of orichalcum class adventurers?”
“With all due respect, Your Highness, that isn’t possible. They’ve already been placed on another task. I doubt any adventurers weaker than them will work either, seeing as how our foe was capable of crushing an entire army.”
“Damn it.” The prince clicked his tongue. “Fine, then let’s use that.”
“That, your majesty?”
“I’m talking about the thing the church’s been boasting about lately.”
“You mean to say the hero? I believe it hasn’t finished its training yet. The church is likely willing to lend it to us regardless, but I’m sure it’ll demand quite the amount of compensation in return.”
“Feh,” scoffed the prince. “Those greedy misers. They call themselves ‘god’s vassals,’ but they’re as hungry for gold as the most avaricious of merchants. Fine. We’ll reel them in by flashing them a cut of the profits.”
“If that is your will, then so it shall be, Your Highness.”
“Ugh…Why am I here again?”
The hero sighed as she pushed herself to continue moving through the undergrowth.
Her name was Nell. She was a young girl that’d formerly lived in a village out in the boonies. She’d always thought of herself as an average girl, but one fateful day, that’d all changed. A man claiming to be one of the church’s priests had showed up at her doorstep and informed her she was qualified to become a hero.
Nell’s excitement shot through the roof in an instant. Her mother had always told her tales of heroes, of how they used their blessed powers to rid the world of evil and calamity. The many folk and fairy tales she heard about them had led her to develop a deep admiration of their craft. Becoming a hero would not only let her help people, but also make things easier on her mother. She had no father, so Nell’s mother had slaved away, overworking herself day in and day out in order to raise her.
The combination of her circumstances and her respect for heroes had led her to be enthralled by the priest’s words. She immediately accepted his offer and took up the hero’s mantle. The days that followed were filled with naught but hellish, grueling training. She would train with the knight order until she was utterly exhausted before moving on to listening to an old court mage ramble on and on about magic. His lectures were so “fascinating” that they threatened to almost magically force her into the land of dreams. It took everything she had to resist the urge and continue listening.
Nell was confident that the relentless training she’d been put through had toughened her up, and that the church was finally sending her out on a mission because they recognized her abilities. Frankly, she was happy. She was glad that all her hard work had finally been acknowledged.
The mission was for her to eliminate a man-slaying demon that lived within the depths of a forest. It was her first job, so she was pumped, especially since the church had provided her a full set of equipment.
“W-what was that!?”
Nell took up a stance as a large bird took to the skies somewhere nearby. Her training had clearly paid off; the action was entirely unconscious. But that said, Nell wasn’t exactly what one could call composed. In fact, she was exactly the opposite.
Her voice had clearly indicated that she was on the verge of breaking into tears. She lacked the mental fortitude to deal with her current situation. Nell had been named a hero, but the truth of the matter was that she was still just an ordinary girl at heart.