Rockwall Lou – V5 Chapter 6

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟔

(6)

The parade for departure was grand and impressive. From the main gate of the royal palace to the north gate of the capital, the streets were packed with the city’s residents, and shouts resembling both joy and rage filled the air.

Now that the Royal Knights are no more, the only one who can save this country is Princess Tweney, the “Saintess.” Some desperate citizens broke through the crowd and knelt in front of the luxurious carriage that was presumed to carry the princess. However, they were quickly restrained by the Royal Guards.

Princess Tweney was not in the royal family’s carriage.

In secret, Tweney, her maid Rayza, and the six members of the Hero Squad slipped out of the royal palace. They headed towards the eastern gate of the capital and departed in a different carriage that had been prepared, leaving some time after the initial one.

They regrouped in the city of Soeto, their first stopover. The road from the gate to their accommodations was guarded by the Royal Guards and the city’s patrol, and they were warmly welcomed by the city’s residents as they arrived.

“Ah, they’re here!”

“Where? Where?”

“Around the carriage. One, two, three. . . . . .look, all six of them!”

“Wow, is that the ‘Hero’?”

Innocent children pointed and chased after the Hero Squad, who were guarding on horseback.

Young Battsu and flamboyant Paulun seemed to be enjoying the attention. However, Tenku and Fuuri looked uncomfortable. Tabashika, seemingly uninvolved, discreetly waved at someone on the roadside.

In the lodging’s lobby, a high-ranking official was waiting. He was accompanied by what looked like his family, town dignitaries, and some journalists, among others.

The official, gesturing grandly like an actor on a stage, expressed his welcome to Tweney. He made no mention of or even looked at the Hero Squad.

“Such divine beauty you possess. Ah, the emblem on your forehead is surely a testament to the inherited holy power. Princess, if you would be so kind, bless me.”

As he approached with a sycophantic smile, Rayza, the maid, intercepted him.

“Due to special circumstances, the princess has been avoiding public attention. She would surely be startled if an unfamiliar adult suddenly approached her.”

“Is that so? Actually, we have prepared a grand banquet in honor of the princess, who faces such daunting challenges.”

As Rayza’s gaze grew stern, the official’s words started to falter.

“Please have the meal delivered to our room. However, avoid the banquet dishes. Ingredients or seasonings she hasn’t tried might harm her.”

With a look that seemed to say, “That’s your job, isn’t it?” directed at Ozma, Rayza guided Tweney towards the upstairs room.

“Wow, she’s intimidating.”

Battsu said in a joking tone.

It was an unexpected event for Ozma. He had thought that a maid, forced to accompany them on a perilous journey, wouldn’t have the spirit to protect the princess.

Ignoring the now irrelevant official, Ozma instructed his subordinates.

“For now, Hero Squad, you’re dismissed. We’ll have a meeting before dinner, so don’t be late.”

As Ozma, assigned a room upstairs, walked ahead, a man dressed in gleaming armor appeared.

It was Ignis, the Captain of the Royal Guards.

“Ozma, you insolent cur!”

Striding forward with determination, Ignis grabbed the collar of Ozma’s shirt.

“How dare you entrust the escort of the royal carriage to our honorable Royal Guards! What were you thinking?!”

“Well, that was the plan from the start.”

Ozma pulled out a document from his pocket and thrust it in front of Ignis’ face.

“Look, it has the king’s signature.”

“Tch.”

The Captain of the Royal Guards couldn’t possibly defy the king’s decision. Although Ignis trembled with frustration, he eventually released Ozma and turned away, storming off with squared shoulders.

Ozma watched his retreating figure with a bitter smile.

Originally, it was supposed to be Ignis, the Captain of the Royal Guards, leading the Hero Squad to escort the princess to the “Altar of Endings.” It was understandable that some discord arose since Ozma made changes to a role everyone had agreed upon.

Once inside the room, Ozma checked outside through the window. The Royal Guards directed the city guards, ensuring they thoroughly guarded the surrounding lodging facilities.

“They truly are professionals. It makes things easier.”

What Ozma didn’t notice was:

While he and Ignis were arguing, a maid was secretly watching from the shadows of the corridor.

The maid, as if making up her mind, nodded slightly and hurriedly followed behind Ignis.

After a short break, Ozma headed to the gathering place, the conference room. For now, the idle members of the Hero Squad were seated aimlessly.

“Not everyone’s here. Where’s Tabashika?”

“She sneaked out just a while ago.”

Battsu reported with a smirk.

“As always, she’s not great with group activities.”

As long as everyone did their jobs, Ozma wasn’t too particular about the team’s discipline. This also applied to how his subordinates behaved and spoke to him.

“More importantly, captain.”

Tenku grumbled with an exasperated look.

“How long will this farce continue?”

“Farce?”

“The Hero Squad, yes, the Hero Squad. It’s absolutely embarrassing.”

It seemed he became embarrassed only now, even though they had shown off at their debut ceremony.

Paulun chuckled.

“Just a while ago, we were the infamous Black Neck Squad. We’re now the center of attention everywhere, even popular among children.”

“It’s all a joke.”

With her arms crossed, Fuuri grumbled unhappily.

Ozma was a bit disappointed. Did they not like it?

“Didn’t I explain beforehand? With the massive horde of demon beasts approaching, everyone’s anxious. By playing the role of the universally recognized ‘heroes’ from stories, we can give people hope and encourage them.”

Ozma smiled warmly.

“That’s just the public reason. It’s all just a ruse to improve the image of wizards.”

The members seemed to lose all their energy.

“In the current situation where everyone in the kingdom has to rely on wizards, this is, in a way, our chance. For our bright future, let’s all work together as a team.”

Smiles and lines may seem dubious, but it’s not as if the essence of the conversation is incomprehensible. Reluctantly, the members fall silent.

Tabashika appeared there.

“Ah, it’s already started.”

Without offering any apologies to the boss or colleagues for her tardiness, the female wizard sat down with a composed expression.

Amidst the delicate atmosphere, Ozma took charge again.

“Well then, now that everyone is here, shall we go over the future plans?”

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