A Thousand Year Old Tale
Rody carried Muse across the grassland for two days. They usually traveled during the night where they less visible That evening, they heard the sound of horses trotting. They both immediately hid among the grass. They saw a team of Roland cavalrymen, about 100 of them running in their direction from the distance.
Both of them held their breath until the cavalrymen went by.
Muse who had always relied on her own terrifying strength could not accept the situation they were in. She could not help but ask Rody, “Aren’t you supposed to be very powerful? The other day you completely annihilated my 200 cavalrymen. Now there are only 100 of them. What are you afraid of?”
Rody gave her a strange look but did not say anything.
Last time, Old Mark’s life-saving crystal gave me unlimited fighting energy. But right now, I do not have anything. Other than my strength as a Grade 4 swordsman, I do not even have a stick to use. Charging into 100 heavily armed cavalrymen is just suicide.
At night, they finally found a small grassland tribe. The tribe only had about a dozen tents. They also had a fence which surrounded about a dozen cattle. A few horses were also tied beside each tent. The place was extremely quiet without a single person keeping guard.
Rody left Muse behind and went in to steal a horse. Muse watched him while she hid. She contemplated her dignity. She never thought that she would be reduced to accompanying someone to steal a horse.
Her palms began to sweat. After a long while, she suddenly heard dogs barking. Soon after, she could hear the sound of drums as the tents began to light up. She then saw Rody rush out from the tribal village with a horse. The horse rushed towards Muse and she noticed that Rody looked somewhat embarrassed. He had a string of dried meat hanging around his neck. Rody helped her up and made her sit in front of him.
The tribesmen behind them were shouting. Some of them had already mounted their horses and were chasing them. Rody and Muse fled as fast as they could. After some time, they could no longer hear the sound of people chasing them. Then they sighed in relief.
Muse started to blame him. “Aren’t you very skilled? How did you get spotted for stealing a horse?”
Rody did not answer immediately. He took the dried meat around his neck and hung it on the saddle. After that, he took something out and gave it to Muse. He then replied without facing her, “At first there were no problems but when I saw this, I risked entering the tent. As a result, I was spotted.”
Muse pinched the object and asked, “What is this?”
Rody smiled wryly. “The grassland tribe’s medicine for wounds. At Watt Fortress, we captured a lot of people from the Great Moon Kingdom. They were all carrying this. That’s why I recognized it.” He crushed the medicine and mixed it with water. After that, he said, “Rub this on your wound.” He then paused for a moment before continuing, “I heard that applying this medicine can be painful but the effects are good. When you use it, try to endure the pain.”
Muse held the medicine and it felt warm. She knew that it was warm because of the duke’s body temperature. At that moment, she felt hot and her mind went blank.
They rode the horse towards the south for three days. Fortunately, they did not run into any pursuing soldiers. The grasslands were very large but the population was small. This saved them a lot of trouble. As they continued to travel south, Rody started to worry about the situation at Watt Fortress so he sped up. Muse was frustrated but she could not do anything other than follow Rody involuntarily.
She tried using many magical methods but it seemed like her sorcery had disappeared without a trace. She also did not have any magic tools around and had no way to make use of her magical knowledge.
She was originally a proud and indifferent person. However, that personality was built on her terrifying strength. Now, she had become a weak and ordinary woman. On top of that, she had a hard time understanding common social communication; She never needed to worry about that before. When she became a fugitive, she was initially stubborn and argued with Rody. However, she had to rely on Rody for everything. Along the way, the skillful warrior, Rody hid their tracks and stole food.
Not only was Muse unable help at all, she was ridiculously lacking in common sense. In the beginning, Rody just gave the food to Muse. However, he soon learned that without magic, she could not even start a fire. Occasionally when he caught a hare, he would give it to her. However, she did not know how to cut and clean the hare for cooking or remove the fur. Rody could only smile and do everything. He could not help but think of Muse as an idiot.
At first, Muse would answer back sarcastically but then she realized that she was really ignorant of simple things. She understood that without her magic and the duke’s help, she would not have survived a day in the grasslands. Her arrogance started to disappear and she began to act more like a helpless woman. She also remained silent whenever the annoying duke called her an idiot.
As the Saint of the Roland Continent’s Black Veil Temple, the people usually respected her. She was also said to be one of the most outstanding saints in the past several hundred years. However, she was now regarded as an ignorant little girl by the Duke of the Tulip Family and was even called an idiot. She felt extremely frustrated because she was unable to refute his words.
That day, the two of them met a group of traders with their caravans. Rody observed the caravan carefully for a long time to determine that they did not have any soldiers from the Great Moon Kingdom. After some struggle, they went up to the caravan to ask for news. They wore the stolen clothes of a male and female herder. Rody also forced Muse to smear dirt on her face to hide the color of her complexion. They both rode a single horse towards the caravans to greet the traders.
Rody did not know how to speak the language of the Great Moon Kingdom but Muse was extremely proficient at it. They started chatting with the traders, pretending that they wished to buy some goods.
Although the tribes in the grasslands were self-sufficient, there were caravans that traded in goods from the Radiant Empire. They brought specialty goods from the Radiant Empire and traded it for fur to take back to the Radiant Empire. Reuenthal did not prohibit the entry of these caravans. After all, that was where he bought the metal to forge their swords.
Although the two nations were fighting, the Great Moon Kingdom was located at the grasslands. There were no fortresses or walls to separate the territories. Prohibiting trade would have been a joke.
The two pretended to buy goods and asked for information. They found out that the havoc caused by the two groups dispatched by the Radiant Empire had made Reuenthal withdraw his troops back to the Great Moon Kingdom. Although the Trier Fortress and Loulan Fortress were still occupied and guarded by soldiers of the Great Moon Kingdom, their king was furious about the havoc caused in their country. He blamed Reuenthal for his incompetence. After that, there was an uproar in Dragon Plateau. The tribal leaders who disliked Reuenthal spoke against him and did not want Reuenthal to continue leading the soldiers. On the other hand, the second prince received a lot of support. He took the opportunity to seize power and the war had temporarily stopped.
As for the Radiant Empire, the Watt Fortress was still heavily guarded. The banner of the Tulip Family continued to fly but there was no other news.
Rody calmed down and believed that Gordon, Sieg, and the others were still waiting for him to return. He wished that he could grow wings and immediately fly back to Watt Fortress.
When they were resting that day, Muse looked gloomy. Rody laughed and asked, “Hey, what’s wrong idiot? What are you thinking about?”
During the past few days, while escaping together, they had become dependent on each other. Although they were enemies, they had now established an affinity for each other.
Muse no longer replied sarcastically. She ignored the fact that he called her an idiot. She lightly asked, “Your Excellency, have you decided on what to do with me after taking me back to Watt Fortress?”
Rody shook his head and replied, “I have not decided yet but I cannot let you go. The Roland Continent must have a reason for meddling in the war between Radiant Empire and the Great Moon Kingdom. How can I feel at ease without knowing their true motives?”
Muse closed her eyes and thought for a moment before sighing. She said softly, “There is nothing strange about it. What do you want to know? Just ask. I will tell you if I can.”
The moment she said that Rody was surprised, “You are willing to tell me now?”
Muse looked frustrated as she whispered, “His Majesty the King wants to get rid of me. Why should I pledge my loyalty to him? However, as a temple saint, there are still things that I cannot say.”
Rody nodded and thought for a moment before asking, “To tell you the truth, I am not familiar with the situation in the Roland Continent. If you all wanted to fight with the Radiant Empire, why did you all not attack directly from the north?”
Muse smiled but it slowly dulled. “Fight with you? Surely, we cannot win…”
Before Rody could speak Muse smiled again and continued, “We are different from all of you. This whole vast continent is the Radiant Empire’s territory. The populace and ample resources on this continent all belong to the Radiant Empire. Our Roland Continent is made up of more than a dozen kingdoms. Each has its own king and army. All of them are believers of the Temple and the king must be acknowledged by the Temple in order to ascend the throne. We are not of one mind and there is infighting every year. If we were to fight with you, we would definitely lose.”
“My kingdom is the largest one on the Roland Continent, the Kingdom of Sauron1. Although the Roland Continent has more than a dozen kingdoms, the Kingdom of Sauron occupies half of the continent with its territory, military force and population. The other 12 kingdoms combined cannot compete with the Kingdom of Sauron. However, at the same time, my kingdom is also the most helpless one. It is located in the south near the thunderous regions and next to the powerful Radiant Empire.
For hundreds of years, every time the Radiant Empire became stronger, you would cross the ocean to attack us. We would need to mobilize all the kingdoms of the Roland Continent to fight back! However, once the Empire retreated, the Roland Continent would be torn apart again and the 13 kingdoms would go back to doing their own things. The Radiant Empire has such a big territory and is so powerful. How can we in the Roland Continent pick a fight with you? The only time we have ever won was when we fought across the sea or when we took advantage of your civil strife but in the end…” Here, Muse looked at Rody and whispered, “In the end, we were still defeated by your ancestors, the Tulip Family.”
Rody’s face turned red. He was an impostor and it felt weird when someone praised his ‘ancestors’.
Muse did not pay attention to Rody’s facial expression and continued, “The Kingdom of Sauron has always been known as the strongest on the Roland Continent and its cavalrymen are all brave but it is in extreme danger because it is the closest kingdom to the Radiant Empire. Sauron acts as a strong barrier blocking the further expansion of the Radiant Empire to the north while the other 12 kingdoms hide behind us and enjoy peace.”
Rody raised his eyebrows and could not help but ask, “Since the Kingdom of Sauron is the strongest on the Roland Continent, why did you not capture the 12 smaller kingdoms and unify the continent?, Won’t you be able to fight against the Radiant Empire then?”
Muse looked helpless and replied in a low voice, “You will not understand. The Roland Continent believes in the Temple. Everyone, whether it is the king, the nobles, the knights or the civilians, they are all believers of the Temple. First of all, the Temple would never agree to unifying the continent. If the bishop made a decree, everybody would oppose to a war. Even the King of Sauron would have to step down. Starting a war to unify the continent? It is impossible.”
Rody sneered. “Hah, it looks like your Temple does not have good intentions! Uniting the continent to create a strong empire will weaken the Temple’s authority! Of course, they wouldn’t want that to happen! If I were the Temple’s leader, I would try to stop anyone from uniting the Roland Continent too! It is much easier to have all the small countries duped into worshiping one supreme religious leader than to struggle under a single strong imperial power…”
Muse shook her head. She obviously did not take the duke’s nonsensical words to heart and slowly replied, “The Temple is the religious leader of the Roland Continent. Naturally, they have power. They have 200,000 Circle Knights scattered across the continent in all the kingdoms. The Temple will also assign a saint to each kingdom. The saint manages religious sites and helps the king to govern the kingdom. In the smaller kingdoms, the saint has even greater authority than the king… so… so, do not insult the existence of the Temple! The Temple is God’s building! Everyone on the Roland Continent is under God’s protection! It is not… not as despicable as you said!”
Hearing this, Rody sneered again. “No wonder you cannot defeat the Radiant Empire! There is no centralized rule and there is no unity.”
Muse gave a crooked smile and replied, “It seems like the current King of Sauron has the same idea as you. The moment he came into power, he has been finding ways to weaken the Temple’s authority and influence of the religion. This time, he formed a secret alliance with the Great Moon Kingdom and funded them to fight with the Radiant Empire. How else did you think Reuenthal managed to get so much provision and military equipment? I may not know about many things but I know that war requires money!”
“Hehe,” Rody said with a sneer. After that, he said, “What about you? Did they dispatch you as a special envoy to assist Reuenthal?”
Muse nodded. “Although King Sauron is not loyal to the Temple, weakening the Radiant Empire is beneficial to the Roland Continent. This was something the Temple understood. As we cannot have a frontal attack, we can only hope for an internal strife. When the Great Moon Kingdom and Radiant Empire are at war, the powerful Reuenthal can at least delay the Radiant Empire for a few years… or even longer. Then, there will be a time of peace for the Roland Continent. So… so the Temple decided to support King Sauron even though they do not have a good relationship with him. This time, they dispatched me for the sake of helping Reuenthal to fight the Radiant Empire. It shows the amount of attention the Temple is giving to this.”
Rody thought for a moment and said, “I finally understand the gist of it but why do they want to betray you?”
Muse sneered and replied, “I am the Saint of the Black Veil Temple. Once my training is completed, I will officially serve as the leader of the Temple in the Kingdom of Sauron. King Sauron wants an autocratic rule. Naturally, he will not want a religious leader who can resist his power. It is normal for him to try and assassinate me. If I were to die here, they would be able to push the responsibility to the Radiant Empire. The Temple would not be able to say anything either. Besides, according to the Temple’s, a saint needs a few years of training. If I were to die, the Temple would need to send another saint to the Kingdom of Sauron and that would take a few more years.”
Rody sighed. “King Sauron schemed to kill you because it would take the Temple a few more years to send another saint. He would then weaken the influence of the Temple in the Sauron Kingdom and by the time the Temple sends a new saint, he would already be in power.”
After that, Rody suddenly thought of something. He asked, “The God you all believe in, and the God that the people of the Radiant Empire believe in, are they the same?”
The color on Muse’s face suddenly changed. Her beautiful face immediately turned cold and she replied, “Of course not! The Radiant Empire worships the devil! Only the Roland Continent worships the real Almighty God! The one you all worship is a demonic scum from the Mythical War during the Mythical Era a thousand years ago!”
Rody was curious, “What? How so? What Mythical War from a Mythical Era a thousand years ago?”
1 Googling 索伦 (Suǒ lún ) yielded Sauron among the images.