The prisoners and the masks under the moonlight
Mylarka walked to the girl, whose eyes shined brightly like gems.
Demi-humans had their own language, but I could somewhat understand it, and the genius teacher could fluently speak it.
“The tiger-race should speak the new werebeast language, so… Do you understand me?”
“Y-Yes, I do! But Miss, aren’t you a human? Why do you know our language?!”
The girl was enthusiastic. Their language developed during the years as it detached from the old one, still spoken only by a few werebeasts living in secluded areas due to its different and difficult grammar, and became a new language, which was spoken by the majority of them.
“We are from the Kingdom of Albein. Those guys were part of the Velvechia’s army, but… why were they chasing you?”
“Ugh… Albein destroyed our mountains. Everyone hates you.”
When Vinceburg constructed the road to pass through this mountain, they had to raid the tiger-race’s area, so it was only natural that the victims saw us – all of us – as enemies.
While I was thinking about a way to solve this matter, the girl spoke again.
“But Mister and Miss are different. You defended me from Velvechia, and you’re even friends with a dragon. The tiger-race and dragonkin are friends too. Dragons are the dragonkin’s guardian gods.”
It seemed like her race wasn’t in good relationships with any other aside from dragonkins. Also, it was quite rare to meet a friendly tiger-race, so this was a golden chance to know them better.
Dragonkin worshiped fire dragons, so if I was accompanied by one, I could’ve established a good relationship with them… but I wanted to talk about it with Shura first.
“The Elder said that Velvechia’s soldiers have a camp not far from here. They told us to split our rations and to bring them many men and women, or they’d burn down the entire mountain…!”
“…Dick, we are going to raze Velvechia’s encampment right now.”
“I want to do the same, but we need more information. What happened to those who brought them food?”
Hearing my question, the girl’s expression clouded, and I guessed something bad had happened.
“Velvechia said they were strong and seized even the women who were assigned to cooking. They are prisoners to avoid our rebellion.”
“I see… it must be hard for you. But rest assured, now we are here. There is nothing you have to worry about anymore.”
Mylarka comforted the girl and held her tightly in her arms, but as the werebeast’s firm gaze started to blur, not a tear descended from her eyes.
“The others are more hurt than me. They told me that I had to escape, but I couldn’t even do that.”
“You did more than enough. You can go back to your village without a worry.”
“Later, we should go with her. We must ask the Elder’s forgiveness for some things, like that we blocked the mountain’s path.”
“The Elder wants the road like before. Even if it takes time, that way everything will go back the way it was before.”
Mylarka had to block the road with her magic to stop anyone from passing through it, but we needed to make it look as natural as possible. I was planning to borrow the earth and trees’ spirits power for that.
“Great, then let us depart. We are going to Velvechia’s encampment first, since we must rescue the prisoners as soon as possible. What’s your name?”
“I’m Riko of the tiger tribe. And you are?”
“We are… the masked saviors. Sorry but we cannot reveal our real names.”
“It’s fine. I’ll tell the Elder about you. That you saved me and the others.”
She couldn’t imagine that we planned to restore the mountain to its former glory, given how little she saw about our power.
“You must hide your smell if you come to our village, though. The tiger tribe doesn’t like the smell of humans.”
“I can imagine it… What should we smell of, then?”
“Riko’s tail. I’ll rub it on you. There’s a big, scratched tree outside the village. I’ll wait for you there.”
I wondered if she guessed our intentions when she saw us… but I wasn’t really sure about her having such a keen eye.
We had to neutralize Velvechia’s forces, rescue the werebeasts prisoners, block the road, and then report everything to the Elder.
“Riko… bring here some adults and take those guys away.”
“Okay. We’ll keep them under arrest until Velvechia promises to stop.”
She angrily snapped her teeth while showing her canines. That went without saying, since she was chased and targeted by arrows.
If we managed to save her comrades, the soldiers would’ve been able to return home safely. To reach that outcome, I put my trust in the somewhat gentle nature of Mylarka.
Our first destination was twenty minutes away from the tiger-race’s village by horse, and only five minutes if we used a fire dragon.
At evening, we were ready to move. It was time to act.
“First, we’ll free the prisoners, Mylarka. I’m sure you can destroy the buildings bit by bit and disarm the soldiers.”
“Analyzing and disintegrating this many objects will take me some time. The guys form earlier had their gear made almost entirely of black steel, so it was easy to disassemble.”
“How much will it take to destroy everyone’s gear and tents?”
“I’d say around fifteen minutes. It should be enough for my magic field to expand, analyze and disintegrate their equipment, tents and everything else.”
“Great. While I infiltrate their base, you start the preparations to raze the place. After I’m finished saving the prisoners, I’ll signal you to go ahead.”
Once we parted ways, I erased my presence with Concealing Magic and entered the enemy territory.
The camp was well lit only on the side that faced the road, so I could sneak in without problems. Well, who would cross an entire forest to enter an enemy base? Not to mention that it was located on the kingdom’s border, so they didn’t expect anyone from that side to assault them.
In the back of the camp were fences and watchtowers filled with negligent soldiers. I fixated a grappling hook at one of the towers, climbed over the fence and jumped behind a soldier.
“Why is this grapnel here…?”
I muffled my landing and footsteps with magic as I approached him. Aileen could move without a sound thanks to her martial arts abilities, but I always relied on magic… I didn’t train enough and was too self-critical to reach the same outcome without help.
“Don’t move. Tell me where the prisoners are.”
“W-Who’s there…? One of them…? O-Or someone from Albein…?”
“You don’t need to know it. Now, answer.”
“T-The werebeasts are… beyond that tent…”
“Good. For your information, we’ll raze this base tonight.”
I cast sleep magic on him, since forcing him to sleep with violence might have been too much for him to handle. If Mylarka activated her magic field, the entire watchtower would disappear, so I immediately descended and approached my new destination.
A drunk soldier shuffled in my direction, but he didn’t notice me.
The average soldier couldn’t spot me at all.
I circumvented the tent and opened a peephole in it with a knife.
Women and children around the age of Riko were in there, and several males had beating injuries on them. Chains tied to solid poles bound their legs, and although they could break free with sheer strength, they couldn’t retaliate carelessly probably for the sake of their children.
A soldier was looking down on them with a smirk on his face, and one of the males rose his head to glare at him.
“How dare you look at me? Haven’t you understood your condition yet?! You’re gonna be slaves! The men will work to death in a mine, and the women will become toys for some rich nobles!”
The young werebeast, unable to keep his cool, stood up the next moment. His lover or wife was probably caught along with him.
He said something, but the soldier couldn’t understand his words.
“Good for you. If I could understand what you’ve just said, you’d be whipped pretty hard.”
“Still, I’m sure it was something bad, so guess what will happen… to her.”
The soldier, gripping a barbed whip, approached a nearby girl.
“You monsters have insane speed and regeneration, right? Whipping her once or twice won’t change much, isn’t it…? Look at her pretty face before I…”
While he was talking, I opened the gap in the tent and sneaked to his back.
He didn’t have the time to turn and face me: I just hit him on the back of his neck and he collapsed to the ground. Sleeping magic was somewhat pleasant, so my hand kind of moved on its own. I didn’t need to hold myself back there.
Those presents looked at me without following what just happened, and then I remembered about the mask on my face.
“Right… I’m wearing a mask, but I’m not one of the bad guys. Can you flee from here when I break your chains?”
I squeezed my memory to formulate that sentence in their language, and it seemed that they understood me. Then, a man among them looked at me diffidently.
“…You look like a human. Why are you helping us?”
“Because not all of us enjoy persecuting you. I’m from Albein, but I’m not like those who attacked your holy mountain. Maybe you won’t believe me, but can you accept that I want to save you right now?”
“…Masked Man, I’m grateful to you for saving my wife. I believe in you.”
“Ludo… You have a point. Forgive me. How can we escape from this place, Masked Man?”
It was obvious that they addressed me like that, but I wondered if it was really necessary to hide myself from them… Oh well, it wasn’t the time for such thoughts.
“I’ll guide you. First, I’ll break the chains, then let’s get out of here and hide in the forest.”
Around ten of those presents followed my every instruction like I was their knight in shining armor, even though I hadn’t used a sword for so long, so I was quite rusty.
Blasting our way through could’ve actually been the quickest way out of here.
Once we finished setting everything up for our escape, we crossed the ‘backdoor’ I made in the tent and went towards the fences in a straight line.
The logs tied together to form the fence were almost twice my height, and it would’ve been easy to jump over them if it wasn’t for their sharp ends. I had to make sure that the children wouldn’t hurt themselves.
I unsheathed my sword and cast a spell on it. It couldn’t even be compared to Cody’s sword of light, but I could at least make it strong enough to cut iron… still, it was so long since last time I wielded one that I was getting nervous, but I liked that pressure.
I applied Spirit Blade on my sword, which tripled the range of its attacks, and then swung it several times on the logs to cut them into pieces that fell on the ground the next moment, opening an escape route for us.
“Run! I’ll join you later!”
“Amazing… Who are you, Masked Man?”
“I can’t believe we’re all safe… Thank you very much…!”
“Thank you, Masked Mister!”
The werebeasts didn’t waste time and fled to the forest at an amazing speed, which was characteristic of their race.
Meanwhile, the soldiers noticed that something happened and were coming here, but it was too late for them to do anything.
“Velvechia’s army! If you don’t want to die here, drop your weapons and don’t move! Even you have a home you should come go back to!”
I raised a hand over my head and invoked the magic spell Lighting, that now looked like a bright sphere that rose into the sky before exploding. That was my signal for Mylarka.
The entire camp grew louder as the soldiers understood that something was going on, and despite the tiredness that afflicted them, they realized what had just happened.
But they now had no time to organize a counter-attack, as fifteen minutes were already elapsed.
“Restricted area annihilation n°66 – Disintegration field!”
Exactly like those who were chasing Riko, the soldiers’ gear turned into sand.
Before the encampment became a hell of agonizing screams, I tried to show them my sympathy with words, but Mylarka wasn’t that kind.
Sweet disaster started to descend from the sky while riding the fire dragon, who vividly stood out with the moon behind him, and once she was over the powerless soldiers, she started talking while looking down on them with an icy gaze.
“Not only you tried to invade Albein, but you also tormented the tiger-race! Your sins cannot be forgiven! I would sentence you to death in the name of this mountain’s gods, but since I do not want to smear this holy soil with your filthy blood, I will turn a blind eye! Do not dare to enter this mountain ever again if you do not want to draw the masked saviors’ wrath!”
Moonlight shone on her, whose chest was puffed with self-confidence, as her firm voice resounded everywhere… Bringing her here was the best idea I could ever have.
The tumult of the horrified soldiers that darted away was but a distant noise for me.
As Mylarka and her mount looked down on our enemy, she chanted her catchphrase, and then we erased what remained of the enemy base, leaving under the endless sky a vacant piece of land.
After that, Mylarka blocked the road with her magic and we proceeded to reach the former prisoners. When they saw the girl of miracles, instead of a walking calamity, they prostrated to her feet and started worshipping her.
Unable of bearing such a treatment, the genius teacher’s face went beet red.