After being chased out of Filsand by the Kingdom of Feldi’s army, the Shulz tribe fled southwards, and built a ‘fort’ on top of a precipitous, rocky plateau.
Dianu, and the other children near her age, spent the majority of their childhood living in that fort.
However, as the tribe’s population gradually grew, they attempted to settle lands even further south.
Settling the desolate south proved to be extremely tough going, but along the way, they discovered the ‘Garden of the Gods.’
Garden of the Gods was an ancient stone ruin the size of a medium-sized city, which could easily accommodate 1,000 of the Shulz. As such, the entire tribe moved to Garden of the Gods, and their fort became merely the base of operations for their attacks against Filsand.
The young girl spent almost all of her time in the fort, together with her father, the Tribe Chief.
She had very little contact with her mother, who led the people living in Garden of the Gods.
All she focused on was the sword, spear, bow, horseriding, and short sword. She also learned how to lead troops from the Martial Chief of the time, seeing off the warriors leaving to attack Filsand with cheers of joy.
Every single person believed with their whole heart.
That the Shulz tribe was the side that had been stolen from, and that they were nurturing their power to seize back what was rightfully theirs.
Around when the young girl defeated the Rock Bat and began gathering her people’s hopes, there was change on the Filsand side.
Beginning with the fort, they started to aggressively attack the Shulz people’s lands.
Though it could be said that this was only natural after suffering from so many years of attacks, what motivated them was actually much more profit than retribution.
What they were doing, in short, was ‘hunting for slaves.’
There was no way the Shulz could understand this.
All they knew was that periodically, Filsand would send soldiers to the south and seize people from settlements.
If they hadn’t arranged to move more than half of their entire population live in Garden of the Gods, then the losses might have been even higher.
However, Garden of the Gods was also by no means completely safe. Casualties from stray Shadow Demons and man-eating monsters never ceased.
Within such a life, the young girl received a summons from her mother.
It was 4 years before now, when she was 12.
Her mother was waiting for her in the temple in Garden of the Gods, accompanied by the tribe’s Mystic, who she had never met before.
“You have been chosen by the Divine Sword. You are the one who is the Warrior of the Holy Kings.”
“Dianu, you must use that sword to destroy Filsand and fulfill the Shulz people’s dearest wish, alright?”
“…… Yes I will.”
With a smile, the Mystic gave the jewel-encrusted sword to the young girl.
Though her mother’s words were no different from the usual, the amount of hatred lurking in her blue eyes was much, much, much thicker than before. Noticing this, the young girl could not help but to shiver.
At first, the young girl thought the Divine Sword slightly eerie, but once she got used to wielding it, she realized that that was simply an indication of the sword’s power.
But of course, to her, that was the only thing that mattered.
Use strength to push through her will. If she wants something, then use strength to seize it by force. If something is taken from her, then use strength to seize it back.
From when her father gave her permission to join the raiding parties when she turned 13 up until now, she had been completely faithful to that philosophy.
“Eeehh?! No wait, how can I duel with a girl?!”
Which is why she was so completely surprised when she attacked that trade caravan from Filsand half a year ago.
“Hah?! Are you an idiot? I’m the Shulz’s Martial Chief! I’m saying that if you win against me, I’ll let all the guys not holding weapons get away!”
It seemed to be a caravan carrying raw materials from a nearby mine.
The unwieldy caravan had several tens of carts and more than a hundred knights. Normally, the Shulz warriors would not attack a force of this size and this well-equipped, but for a certain reason they had set up an ambush.
Probably because the other side had let down its guard, the ambush was successful, and the knights were taken down one by one.
The young girl — no, by now she had grown into Dianu, a proper female warrior — identified the knight with the best physique and wearing the most extravagant armor and challenged him to single combat…… but to her shock, was declined with a single word.
“We won’t resist anymore and just quietly retreat, so just let us go, alright? We’ll leave all our weapons and the ores here, alright?”
“You bastard, and you still call yourself a knight?!?!?!”
The knight, who removed his helmet, turned out to be a young man with fair skin and a round face.
Dianu, who firmly believed in strength but wasn’t particularly an evil person, was taken aback at the truly troubled-sounding entreaty. She was taken back, but that was it.
“I never offered to let the knights and soldiers go. Even if they throw away their weapons, I’m still going to kill them of course!”
“Hii. Alright, then how about I’ll be your prisoner! I’m the eldest son of the Duke of Filsand, Balzard! Just having me as a prisoner would give you enormous leverage, alright?”
And so that was how Dianu managed to capture the Duke of Filsand’s eldest son. Either way, during the exchange between Dianu and Balzard, most of the other knights had already managed to run away.
A prisoner as important as the heir of the Duke was sent to her mother at the Garden of the Gods instead of being kept at the fort.
Dianu wanted to keep him in the fort to drag information out of him, but this time’s ambush was a success due to the Mystic’s ‘proclamation.’ Her mother used that as a shield to forcefully seize custody, and there was nothing Dianu could do about that.
The Mystic that she had met 4 years ago had lately begun to give out information on the Filsand army and trade caravans in the form of ‘proclamations.’
By following those ‘proclamations,’ they’ve managed to conduct numerous successful attacks and raids. As a result, the Shulz warriors’ fighting spirit was fanned even higher. Dianu herself had never gone back to Garden of the Gods even once after receiving her sword, but it seemed to her that her mother was growing to place quite a lot of faith in that Mystic.
Her father was the only one who found it strange that the Filsand side never issued a demand for the return of Balzard, despite him being the Duke’s heir. Dianu, however, did not think it strange.
After all, if the Duke wanted his son back, he simply had to come in person to seize him back.
Then, several days earlier.
A new ‘proclamation’ reached the fort.
“ ‘The man Gio Margils, who will come from the west, is the emissary of the Shadow Demons who is coming to bring ruin upon the Shulz. Set up an ambush on the western road and erase him, at all costs.’ ”
“What…… on…… earth……?!”
For the first time ever, Dianu felt her Divine Sword to be as untrustworthy as a tiny tree branch.
When she had thought the black-robed man to be muttering something to himself, suddenly this gigantic something had already appeared in front of her.
A gigantic dragon covered with dark blue scales.
Just its front leg was almost twice her own height. Its mouth was the size of an entire house, and looked wide enough to eat five of her in one bite.
In all 16 years of her life, Dianu had relied on her own strength to break through any and all obstacles in her way.
However, she knew instinctively that that meagre strength of hers would do absolutely nothing against the gigantic creature in front of her.
How did things before like this?
Wasn’t this Margils person a mere Demonist?
Confusion welled out together with waves of terror.
“DRAGON!! IT’S A DRAGON!!!”
Her teeth chattered, and she felt the area around her groin becoming wet.
The Shulz warriors that had been stationed all around have also either collapsed with pure despair or have run away while screaming.
For the first time in her life, Dianu felt terror in the face of an absolute power.
«Anything, is there anything that I can do?»
Feeling like crying, Dianu searched within herself for something to cling onto.
Both the hatred that she had received from her mother and the sense of responsibility that she had learned from her father seemed like nothing before the overwhelming fear.
«What is this…… I, to think that I’m actually this empty inside……»
The realization of her hollowness actually enabled her to resume being able to think and move. Or perhaps she was just imitating what the heir of Filsand, who she had seen in a similar situation, did.
“…… My name is Margils. So, what is it?”
With the enormous dragon behind him obediently awaiting his orders, the man calmly replied to Dianu.
Black hair and black eyes. Thought this combination is not that rare in the east, his demeanor that is absolutely absent of killing intent and hatred actually made him that much more eerie.
“I just want to confirm, even if I lose, you’ll let these guys go, right?”
“Indeed, that is my intention. Of course, even when I take you prisoner, you will not be ill-treated. This I promise.”
“Then I’m re……lieved!”
It wasn’t that she had any particular tactic in mind.
She simply chose the most appropriate action from among all the techniques that she had learned.
After moving to the angle where Margils became positioned right in between herself and the dragon, she unleashed a slice aimed straight at him.