Rockwall Lou – V5 Chapter 4

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟒

(5)

From the audience chamber, up the staircase, and a short distance down the corridor, Tweney waited just before the exit.

Following the voice of a woman who seemed to be the host, a gallant music began to play.

“Now, Princess Tweney, let us proceed.”

Guided by Ozma, Tweney followed her lead. Ahead, the corridor opened up to a balcony overlooking the palace square.

The sun had long set, but bonfires were lit everywhere in the square, illuminating it like broad daylight. The flames danced in various colors, emitting a magical light.

Guards stood atop the castle walls, vigilantly scanning their surroundings with restless eyes. Below was a sea of people; thousands of faces crowded the square enclosed by high walls.

The music had stopped at some point, leaving only murmurs in the background.

“Hey, Tabashika. Thanks for the hard work.”

Ozma called out to the female wizard on the balcony overlooking the crowd.

“How did it go?”

“Given that it was where the ‘Blue Demon Beast’ attacked, everyone was initially frightened, but now they’ve calmed down.”

“That’s great news.”

Tweney, Ozma, and five wizards stood in a line on the balcony. The young woman wore a dazzling ceremonial dress, and the wizards were clad in leather coats.

『Silence!』

The air seemed to vibrate with tension.

Slightly below the balcony, on a platform-like protrusion from the castle wall, stood a petite woman. She wore a flamboyant hat adorned with decorative feathers and a red necklace.

Puffing up her cheeks like a frog, the woman began speaking with a surprisingly powerful voice.

『Dear citizens, standing here is none other than Princess Tweney!』

Her voice reached everyone in the palace square. Tweney, who was relatively close, was taken aback and seemed overwhelmed.

“The second-grade wizard ‘Roar’ Hachiko. She doesn’t have combat abilities, but her magic is incredibly useful.”

Ozma explained with a smile.

Checking her script, ‘Roar’ Hachiko began speaking slowly.

『Forty years ago, the evil religious group, Mail Cult, audaciously rose against the royal family. This became known in history as the ‘Cult War’. Their ill-advised plot was of course foiled. Our esteemed ‘Wise King’ Ramon himself drew his sword and defeated them.』

Taking a breath, Hachiko continued.

『Then, ten years ago, remnants of the Mail Cult re-emerged. Disguised in the shadows, these cultists sneaked into the royal palace intending to kidnap the then-newborn princess. Some of you may recall this event, which shook our world and is referred to as the ‘Fanatics’ Rebellion’.』

Tweney was taken aback. She hadn’t known about these events from before she was conscious of the world. Yet, for many others, these were well-known facts as they nodded in acknowledgment.

『Fortunately, this plot was also thwarted. Announcing back then that Princess Tweney had been assassinated was a necessary measure to protect her young life. Dear citizens, Princess Tweney is alive and well. She has been under the watchful protection of our ‘Wise King’ and has grown up healthy and strong.』

To protect oneself? Really?

If that’s the case, why was I called the “Child of Misfortune”?

Leaving the girl’s doubts behind, the story continues.

『The evil Mail Cult was destroyed. However, the wicked deity they worshiped did not perish. Though diminished in power and transformed into a demon beast, the evil god was secretly sharpening its fangs, waiting for a chance to exact revenge. And three months ago, it appeared before us as the “Blue Demon Beast”.』

Before anyone realized, the square had fallen silent.

『The dwelling of the “Blue Demon Beast” lies in the northern “wilderness” at the “Altar of Endings”. It must be swiftly vanquished. Our “Wise King”, having taken advice from Prime Minister Hou, has ordered Boskin, Commander of the Royal Knights, to defeat the “Blue Demon Beast”. However,』

Hachiko spoke in a lowered tone, yet with a clear voice.

『After heading to the “wilderness” from the city of Arche, the Royal Knights lost all contact.』

The crowd murmured in whispers.

『Later, a report came from the city of Arche that a horde of demon beasts numbering in the tens of thousands emerged from the “wilderness”. The swarm of demon beasts is advancing south, and they are now approaching the city of Perzen. My friends, our “Wise King” has nothing to hide. Let it be said: our country is facing an unprecedented crisis!』

People looked at each other and began whispering. Should we stay or should we flee?

The murmurs spread like waves. Voices overlapped and grew louder.

Just when the tension felt like a taut string about to snap, a woman wizard called Tabashika snapped her fingers.

“Enka.”

Flames of green erupted simultaneously from the bonfires in the plaza.

As the fantastical green flames settled, the crowd quieted down as if a wave had receded.

Tweney couldn’t contain her astonishment.

Was that magic?

Hachiko resumed her speech.

『The one controlling the horde of demon beasts is the embodiment of an evil god, the “Blue Demon Beast”. You all are likely aware of its power and cruelty. However, do not fret. Even his demon beasts have a weakness. That is the presence of Princess Tweney, who is here. Why did the remnants of the Mail Cult try to kidnap the princess? Why did the “Blue Demon Beast” demand her custody? They feared the holy power, passed down only to the daughters of the royal family. A mighty power that can even vanquish evil gods!』

Once again, Tabashika snapped her fingers, and this time, yellow flames rose high. The people, as if finding a beacon of hope, encouraged one another.

『However, for the young princess alone to overcome this divine trial is exceedingly challenging. Hence, our “Wise King” decided to form a Hero Squad to guide the princess to the “Temple of Endings”. A “hero” embodies three strengths: justice, a love for the country, and magical power.』

Tweney thought otherwise. While Maltheus, the protagonist of the “Tale of Heroes”, indeed described the three strengths required to become a hero, the specifics shouldn’t be known.

『Let’s introduce them』

Hachiko gestured towards the balcony.

『Battsu of “Earth Claws”!』

A man with spiky short hair raised his fist.

“I know. He’s the most powerful wizard!”

“Please, Battsu!”

“Impressive, you’ve passed the trial!”

After several voices, cheers erupted.

“Fake crowd.”

Ozma softly explained, but Tweney did not understand the meaning of the words.

After waiting for the cheers to die down, Hachiko moved on to the next introduction.

『Paulun of “Great Strength”!』

A large man with a big ring around his neck struck a graceful pose with his hand on his hip.

“Ah, he looks reliable.”

“He could easily handle a demon beast!”

“Paulun!”

『Tenku of “Flying”!』

A slender man’s arms transformed into massive wings, and he began to flap them.

The crowd gasped in astonishment.

『Tabashika of “Mystical Flame”!』

A bewitching female wizard raised one hand, and colorful fireballs burst out, shooting into the night sky.

The crowd let out a voice of amazement.

“Ah, you’re all so showy!”

The one who voiced the complaint was Battsu, who had been introduced first. He seemed to be jealous of being outshone. Tenku and Tabashika smirked teasingly at Battsu.

『Fuuri of “Immovability”!』

A man with a stern face stood there looking displeased. There wasn’t a particular uproar, but the crowd’s energy did not wane.

Taking a breath, Hachiko introduced the final figure.

『And leading them, the captain of the Hero Squad, Ozma of “Endless Appetite”!』

Waving gracefully, Ozma responded to the cheers with a smile.

As the atmosphere reached its peak, Hachiko began her concluding remarks.

『Recently, in the audience chamber, Princess Tweney declared boldly. ‘Your Majesty, rest assured. We will surely reach the “Altar of Endings” and defeat the “Blue Demon Beast”’. Citizens, praise the courage and dedication of “Saint” Princess Tweney! Glory to our kingdom!』

As Tabashika snapped her fingers, a huge pillar of fire rose from the bonfire, with red sparks dancing in the air. Thousands of voices cheered so loudly that the castle walls trembled.

“Woooaah!”

“Princess!”

“Tweney-sama!”

“Please save our country!”

“Blessings to the Holy Maiden!”

The crowd in the square reached out to the girl on the balcony, screaming.

The people illuminated by the bonfire looked like specters. Faced with such a bizarre scene, Tweney was petrified.

What is this? What’s happening?

Why am I here, receiving all these expectations from the people?

“Now, Princess. Please respond to their voices.”

Urged by Ozma, Tweney raised one hand. With just that gesture, the volume of the crowd’s voices increased even more.

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