“A-Are you sure!?”
“Did you just say an entire army!?” A pair of panicked guards asked the equally flustered chief to confirm his claim the moment they heard it.
“You heard what I said! The Princess saw it herself!”
“Look, I know what you’re trying to say, but we can’t just…” As they were soldiers and not black catkin, the men in charge of the city’s defense didn’t trust Fran’s testimony nearly as readily as everyone else, but the chief talked them down and convinced them that there was a need for concern.
“Enough of that! Just hurry! You need to get to both Greengoat and all the surrounding villages and let them know the news!”
“Sir, please understand. We just have to make sure of it first. We can’t just be going around reporting whatever we hear.”
Yeah, this isn’t working. Looks like we’ll have to step in a bit.
“Is truth. Don’t believe?”
“That’s not really what I’m trying to say here…”
“Will handle responsibility. Hurry. Move.”
Fran activated her Intimidation skill as she spoke to the guards. For the record, she wasn’t threatening them. She was simply making them understand their place in the metaphorical food chain. As beastkin, the guards respected those that were stronger than them, so she was only doing the most natural thing and putting on a show of her strength to emphasize that they should listen to her.
“I-I understand.” And surely enough, they were immediately rendered obedient.
“We’ll get on it right away. In fact, I’ll head out right this instant.”
“Will go to Greengoat myself,” said Fran.
“W-will you really?” asked a guard.
“Nn. Faster that way. Will leave you responsible for evacuation. Nearby villages.”
“Yes Ma’am! We’ll make sure it gets done.” The chief was so full of energy that he promptly responded in the guards’ places.
“Then going now. Urushi.”
We already knew exactly where Greengoat was relative to our current location, so we soared through the sky and made a beeline straight for it. We had to get Urushi to push himself a bit beyond what would’ve otherwise been his limits to get there in a timely manner, but it was well worth it. We managed to cut the journey, which had taken us over four hours the first time around, to less than a quarter of that; sixtyish minutes was all it took for the Urushi Express to transport us to Greengoat.
A part of me had been tempted to just have our wolf companion ferry us right to the governor’s doorstep, but I ultimately decided against it. Dropping in uninvited is a terrible idea. We’d have a lot of explaining to do and not enough time to carry any of it through.
With no other choice, we suppressed our fiery emotions and stopped by Greengoat’s gate.
We didn’t bother making Urushi shrink. He approached the gate with us while in his larger form. Naturally, having a massive wolf close in on one of the city’s entrances in the middle of the night sent the guards into panic mode, but it really couldn’t be helped. It was an emergency. We needed every last second we could get.
“I’m Black Lightning Princess. Need to talk to governor. Emergency. Let through now.”
“S-Sure, I’ll get right on it!”
He’s doing a pretty good job of keeping his cool, but I’m totally convinced that he’s in full blown panic mode on the inside right now. This whole scenario’s hella blown out of proportion. Like, this dude was casually going about doing his night patrol, only to suddenly have a giant ass wolf drop in front of him. If I was him, I would’ve been expecting to die. And that’s not even it. Next thing he knows, he sees a pretty girl riding it, only to find out that she’s the Black Lightning Princess. And that she has business with someone way high up the chain of command. If this scenario isn’t nerve racking, then I don’t know what is. Must suck real hard to be him right now.
His surprise was clear. The man was so shocked, in fact, that he readily agreed to our request without so much as asking a question. He simply nodded as he opened the gate in a hurry.
As today was a bit of a special case, Fran didn’t dismount Urushi. She rode him through town and had him fly above the buildings it was comprised of. The wolf flew straight as an arrow and made it to the lord’s house, the manor that lay at the town’s centre, in a mere matter of moments.
“W-what!? A wolf!?” shouted one of the guards. His partner made a similar remark.
“This. Governor’s house?”
“Huh? Wait, might you be the the Black Lightning Princess herself?” The bolder man stepped forward and began to speak with Fran.
“Nn. So? This, governor’s house?”
“Y-Yes ma’am! That it is!”
“Need to meet him. Urgent.”
“P-Please wait just a second. I’ll have someone let him know immediately!”
“In a hurry. Will enter myself if takes more than ten minutes.” Knowing that Fran was dead serious, the man went pale. He immediately had the other guard get a move on. Unlike his partner, he remained to keep an eye on Fran, but I wasn’t sure if he really was up to the job. It looked like he’d been scared stiff. “C-Could you please tell me a bit more about this urgent matter of yours?”
He was intimidated to the point of stuttering, but he managed to do his job nonetheless.
“Will tell governor.”
“A-Alright, I understand.” The guard knew not to stick his nose into the confidential, so he promptly dropped the topic.
“This city, has knights?”
“We do. There’s an order serving directly under the governor’s command.”
Good to hear. I’d imagine that this country’s knights would be pretty damn strong.
The guard’s partner returned right as we were about to ask him about the number of knights present. Woah, that was quick. It only took him like five minutes.
“O-Our lord says that he will meet with you immediately! Follow me!”
I was expecting the guard to lead us to an audience chamber, but he instead brought us to a smaller building placed not too far from the manor’s entrance, one apparently built to receive guests of a more noble background.
The lord, Marmanno, was already awaiting us within. His bulky, muscle laden frame lay exposed under his thin, translucent nightshirt. The sight of him in what was basically a negligee contrasted his muscular image to such an extent that I likely would’ve laughed uncontrollably had we not been caught up in an emergency.
“Welcome, Black Lightning Princess. I’ve not seen you around these parts for a whole four odd days.”
“Nn. Thanks for agreeing to meeting.”
“It’s no big deal. Any request of yours that I am able to complete is a request I’m willing to at least consider. And meeting with you, even at this hour, is nothing particularly troubling. Personally, I would’ve preferred if I was to be properly dressed, but I decided not to waste your time after hearing that you only came at the behest of an urgent matter.”
So he only decided to meet with Fran right away because of who she was? Damn, that reputation of hers sure has been coming in handy lately.
“Not problem. Looks good on you.”
“Your words are too kind. But anyway, enough pleasantries. I’m sure you wish to get right down to business. What’s this urgent matter that the guards have been telling me about? Did you perhaps find out more about the assassins?”
“Hmm… I’m out of ideas then. I can’t say I’m capable of imagining anything else too realistic.”
“North. Whole army of monsters approaching.”
“Did you just say an entire army?”
“Nn. In wasteland north of Schwartzekatze. Headed south.”
“How many of them are there?”
“Nn…” Fran tilted her head to the side as she tried to figure out how to convey her thoughts. “Enough to fill entire wasteland.”
“T-The entire wasteland…!?” Marmanno’s eyes went wide. “Surely this is not something you’re speaking in jest, is it?”
“Not jest. Truth. Swear on my life.”
“T-That’s going a bit too far, Fran!”
Holy shit, talk about going overboard.
“Is truth, so not problem.”
“You’ve got a point, but that’s not what I’m trying to get at here. Don’t ever say that you’re going to swear anything on your life ever again, alright?”
“Nn? …Okay?” She didn’t quite seem to understand what I was saying, but she trusted me, so she agreed nonetheless.
“Is it a stampede…?” The governor began muttering his thoughts on the matter as I convinced Fran to place more value on her life. “No, that can’t be right. The area has no dungeons.”
Marmanno’s doubts were justified. I understood exactly where he was coming from. He was Greengoat’s lord, so there was no way he wouldn’t have known if there were any dungeons nearby, even if they’d only existed in the past. It wouldn’t make sense for the invasion to be the cause of a newly spawned dungeon either. Fresh dungeons didn’t have the means to produce tens of thousands of troops.
“Any other things in north?”
“I cannot think of too much worth mention. There is the Kingdom of Eldia to the northeast and Bashar to the northwest. However, the uncharted mountain range to the north functions as a natural barrier. I doubt either country’s troops could cross it.”
According to Marmanno, the only creatures that lived in the mountains were monsters that had adapted to it. Its climate was far too harsh for humans and beastkin to withstand. It was for that reason that the country deployed very few troops to the north.
Wait, but then… Just where the hell did all those monsters come from? Hmmm. Oh, wait, right. That’s not important right now. We need to figure out how we’re actually going to deal with all the monsters first.
Marmanno frowned and scrunched up his brows. The look on his face was one of dismay.
“I am very sorry, but the army cannot be immediately deployed.”
The words that left his mouth were the exact opposite of the ones that we’d hoped for.