Rockwall Lou – V7 Chapter 10

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟎

(10)

The gentle sunlight and a strong wind.

How much time had passed? The temple that had become a ruin had no pillars, walls, or floors left. In the place where the “Altar of Endings” used to be, a large hole had formed, and it was filled with water.

On the surface of that water, what was once Ozma floated, its size shrunk to about half that of a human. It couldn’t maintain its form after its core, which could be described as its heart or brain, and which even the stone sword couldn’t reach, was crushed.

Its withered eye tentacles looked up at the sky, and the mouth tentacles opened and closed weakly.

“Hara.”

The last murmur.

“Heh, taa.”

A tentacle tip fell off, and what was once Ozma sank into the puddle.

The knights of the “Star Guardian” and members of the Hero Squad barely survived. Just before the giant rock collided, the surroundings rose, shielding them from the blast, and because they were all caught by tentacles, the shock was absorbed. Still, they sat down, utterly exhausted and battered.

Luo and Tweney arrived. Tweney was holding a small Horned Lion. It was completely unharmed.

“Hmph, he got what he deserved.”

While looking down from the edge of the hole, the small Horned Lion spat out.

“I am a sacred beast that carries the power of the goddess. If you mix me with the power of evil, of course, I’ll run wild. Gee-nya!”

Whether its pronunciation is clumsy or not, it makes a sound, mumbling its mouth.

“Princess, are you safe? And Luo too.”

Gangi, staggering, rose and greeted the two. Naturally, his eyes were drawn to the blue furball.

“What’s that?”

“It’s Lord Horned Lion.”

“What?”

The seniors, in astonishment, crawled over.

Tweney explained the situation.

Just before being absorbed by Ozma, from the horn that the Horned Lion released, this child was born. That this child is an incarnation of the Horned Lion.

And that Luo defeated Ozma.

The senior knights, with such a concise report, made faces as if they had swallowed something bitter.

“Is, is that so?”

“Well, as expected of Luo.”

“Yes, indeed.”

“We should’ve asked from the start.”

“Don’t say that!”

Inside the rock shell, Tweney received an explanation about the future from the small Horned Lion. Since it wasn’t used to speaking, Tweney relayed the information.

“Originally, I, with Lord Horned Lion, was supposed to head further north from here, to a place called the ‘Miniature Garden’, to obtain salvation in the ‘coventant’.”

However, the small Horned Lion, having lost most of its power, cannot fly with Tweney on its back.

“Luo and I will head there.”

On their own, without taking anyone else with them.

The senior knights, understanding the implied meaning, became flustered and surrounded Tweney.

“No, we can’t let that happen. Protecting the princess is the duty of us “Star Guardians”.”

“Still saying that!”

The small Horned Lion that Tweney held spread its forelegs widely and threatened.

“The ‘Miniature Garden’ is right at the feet of the goddess. Originally, only the ‘Star Princess’ can enter this sacred place. Moreover, the bottom of the ‘Great Hole’ is even more dangerous than the ‘wilderness’. You all would just be in the way. Just this human child is enough!”

Surprised by the sharp words uttered in a cute voice reminiscent of a lisping child, the seniors were taken aback and fell silent.

“Understood, acknowledged.”

Believing they had no right to voice opinions given their lack of knowledge, Gangi deeply bowed to Tweney, overwhelmed by emotion.

Then, he turned to face Luo.

He started to speak but stopped himself.

He had intended to earnestly ask him to protect the ‘Star Princess’. However, doing so might restrict the free-spirited Luo.

That was the one thing he should not do.

As he gently placed his hand on the young boy’s head, memories of various moments since the boy’s arrival as the ‘Star Guardian’ flooded back.

“Be careful.”

The end of his words trembled.

“Don’t be reckless.”

“Okay.”

Mii and Pii, the Hippohorses, as well as the carriage, were safe. After swiftly making preparations, they said their goodbyes.

Probably knowing that if they spoke, apologies would spill out, the seniors could only nod with tears in their eyes.

“Peppoko, let’s go.”

“W, Wait a moment.”

Tweney rushed over to the Hero Squad, who were seated a little distance away.

“Everyone, thank you for your kindness towards me. I’m leaving now.”

Bowing, he looked at Battsu, with whom he interacted the most during their journey of trials.

“Take care, Battsu-sama.”

“Ah. . . . . .. . . . . ..”

The girl turned her back and ran away, and Battsu instinctively reached out to her.

The wounds of the exposed heart throb, bleeding.

A long time ago, when still a child.

He had a younger sister.

In the Arche town slums, known for its bad security, Battsu lived with his sister, surviving by stealing and pickpocketing. All around them, children and adults alike were enemies.

If they stayed here, they would never have a good life. They’d probably die in the streets.

With that thought, Battsu took a gamble.

He ventured into the “wilderness,” searching for a demon beast’s egg.

A demon beast’s egg is highly toxic, but if one can withstand it, they can acquire the magical power the demon beast possesses.

If one is of a low “grade” as a wizard, they might end up doing physical labor in mines, but at least they won’t starve.

At least for him and his sister.

However, his young sister protested. She cried and wanted to go with him. The “wilderness” is a dangerous place filled with numerous demon beasts. Moreover, the most powerful demon beasts are lurking deep within. He couldn’t take his young sister there.

Leaving behind a small amount of food, Battsu embarked on his journey into the “wilderness” alone.

Luck was on his side. He had several close encounters with death, but deep within the “wilderness,” Battsu found an egg of a powerful demon beast called a land dragon. Without much food on him, Battsu ate the egg right there. Enduring excruciating pain, Battsu felt that everything was about to change.

The ability to manipulate earth and rock freely.

With this ability, he wouldn’t let anyone suffer or starve.

Returning to Arche town, Battsu was shocked.

His home had been ransacked. According to the neighbors, it seemed robbers had broken in. His resisting sister had been gravely injured and had passed away. Her body had already been buried in the communal graveyard outside the walls.

Battsu crushed every opposing group, but he couldn’t find the culprits.

I did nothing wrong.

The power I have acquired is the strongest.

Otherwise, it’s meaningless.

To prove his righteousness, Battsu proclaimed himself the “strongest” and continued to fight. Even after becoming a wizard and being selected for the Black Neck Squad, his agitation never faded.

Until he embarked on the journey of trials.

While protecting Tweney, Battsu felt something akin to peace.

You don’t have to do anything.

Just leave everything to me.

If you do that, everything will surely work out.

However, on that night in Arche, Battsu was utterly defeated by Luo. He wasn’t even a match. What hurt Battsu the most, although he wasn’t aware of it, was that Tweney chose to follow Luo of her own will.

And even now.

Tweney is leaving him, taking the hand of a boy, setting off together to a dangerous place. Despite the harsh fate awaiting them, they smile happily.

“Why?”

How can that be?

I actually knew.

It’s not about magical power.

What I really needed was━━

“Damn it.”

Clenching his outstretched hand into a fist, he slammed it onto the ground.

“Damn it! Damn it!”

The seniors of the “Star Guardian” approached Battsu, who continued to punch the ground without caring about injuring his fists.

The “Star Guardian” considered the “Black Neck Squad” to be their sworn enemies. The situation was such that a battle for revenge could start at any moment. However, the elders’ faces did not show any signs of resentment. Instead, they looked lonely, as if they were the ones left behind.

One of the elders spoke.

“Young wizard, we have a request.”

Battsu’s shoulder twitched slightly.

“By now, the city of Arche should be under attack by demon beasts. We must go and help them.”

He had no lingering attachments to such a damned hometown.

“We need your power.”

However, Battsu needed someone to unleash his overwhelming anger upon.

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