Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
Later that day, the princess returned to Nordis with a handful of members of the Magic Corps. Lacking any ability to fight, she would only be a liability in facing the dragon. Above all, it was best to have the princess take command in the preparations for the citizens’ evacuation.
After Gouda explained the situation to her, the princess had only one thing to say.
“That is our best option.”
After the priest was released from prison, Gouda urgently assembled the Magic Corps in the courtyard of the castle, and personally ordered them not to use Magic again.
Naturally, there was backlash. Guy in particular, the son of the former Captain of the Magic Corps, was so upset that he lashed out at Gouda, grabbed him by collar, and even hit him.
“I respected you,” the young man said. “Even though you couldn’t use Magic, you understood it. You memorized all the incantations, understood the effects and properties of various spells. We counted on your orders! Now you’re bowing down to a priest and telling us to abandon Magic?!”
“It’s to protect the people. We need the Church’s help in order to escape from the dragon and survive. Fortunately, the priest here is willing to overlook the fact that we were using Magic. Complying is our best—”
The young soldier clenched his fist tight and punched Gouda in the face once more. Fresh blood splattered on the ground, but Gouda didn’t even bother wiping the blood from his lips.
“The Church, my foot. You haven’t forgotten what the priest on this island did to us, have you?! He took food from the starving people, saying it was an offering to God, and when Magic began to spread, he captured and killed children! Children who simply repeated the incantations of grown-ups. He whipped them all night and left them tied up out in the cold! The fucking coward! He was too scared to get close to those who can actually use Magic.”
It wasn’t uncommon for a priest assigned to a remote area to do whatever they wanted, taking advantage of the lack of supervision from headquarters. A lone priest might be powerless, but he had a powerful organization behind him. Peasants and poor land owners would have no choice but to follow his demands.
“How could you follow their orders?! Is this what you wanted all along? To forbid the use of Magic? Did you always see His Majesty, my father, all of us, as heretics?!”
“That is not true, Guy.”
“I believed I was the heretic. Ever since Magic came to this island, there was no place for me.”
The young soldier’s face tightened, looking like someone betrayed by his older brother. He bolted out of the courtyard.
“Ah, to be young,” the priest said.
“This is your fault, you know,” I remarked.
“Please don’t blame me for this. This is the sorcerer’s fault. The existence of Magic is a mistake to begin with.”
I glanced at Zero’s face to see her expression, but she was watching the meeting between Gouda and the Magic Corps with a calmness that seemed to indicate she hadn’t heard anything.
Breathing a deep sigh, Gouda looked up at the sky. “Our destination is the Forbidden Land where the dragon lives. The princess’s Magic had wounded it, so it will stay in the volcano for a while to heal its wounds. We will use this opportunity to blow up the crater and trap the dragon in the volcano. This is a dangerous mission with little chance of success, and without Magic, you are all powerless.” The soldiers stirred.
Gouda’s gaze took in all of them. “Therefore, I hereby disband the Magic Corps!” he declared. “Only I, the Beastfallen, and the priest will head to the Forbidden Land!”
“This is absurd, Captain! What can three people even do?!”
“We are up against a dragon. Whether there’s a hundred of us or only three won’t make a difference. As your last mission, I want you all to be witness to our task. If we succeed in stopping the dragon, we will light a signal fire. Once you see the smoke, hurry back to Nordis and tell the princess to call for the ship.”
“Are you saying that you don’t need our help because we can’t use Magic? That we’re useless?”
“Then let me ask you this. Without Magic, what do you have left? What can a Magic Corps, assembled solely for their magical gifts, do when they’re not allowed to cast spells?”
Silence descended. Gouda let his gaze drift to the ground, as if he didn’t want to ask this question.
Then from the dispirited soldiers came a voice. “I can handle gunpowder.”
Gouda blinked and looked at the man. “What?”
“I-I can cook!” said a middle-aged woman. “I can make a meal for a hundred people in one go, anywhere. I was born in Nordis, so the captain might not know, but I used to cook food for miners before I joined the Magic Corps!”
It didn’t matter if they were male, female, young, or old. The only requirement to join the Magic Corps was the ability to use Magic. Without the uniforms, it would be hard to tell that they all belonged to the same organization.
A lanky man stepped forward. He didn’t seem the type to be joining any military organization. “I am familiar with medicinal herbs,” he said. “If you get injured in the Forbidden Land, I might be able to help.”
“I… I can follow the captain’s orders!”
The last person’s words elicited a round of laughter. They all began talking about what they could do.
Gouda was watching them blankly. He bit his lips, his brows pulled down to a scowl.
“I can tell you that’s Lord Gouda’s face when he’s trying to hold back a smile.”
“I get it. Enough fooling around!” Gouda barked. “You guys are staying here. There’s no need for you to go to your death.”
“See, I knew it,” said someone, his tone both playful and reproachful. “You’re trying to carry the burden on your own again. When you decided to make peace with Nordis, you offered your own life without consulting anyone!”
“You always sacrifice yourself first. When we made mistakes, you told the princess that you gave the wrong orders. Did you think we didn’t realize how much you looked out for us? Otherwise, there’s no way we’d follow a scary, grumpy, blunt, and antisocial person like you. Besides, we’re much stronger if we use Magic.”
“We’d like you to consider our feelings as well. If you succeed in stopping the dragon, you’ll be a hero, while the Magic Corps under your command will go down in history as heartless dimwits who did nothing.”
Gouda’s subordinates nodded at each other. He was starting to get flustered. “But the danger…” he said, but the people who followed Gouda’s orders faithfully last night were not listening to him now.
“If you fail, the dragon will kill us all anyway. So we want to help out and contribute to the operation, even if it’s just a little. I joined the Magic Corps to protect my family. I want to protect them until the end, and the only person who can lead us is you, Lord Gouda.”
Distressed, Gouda clenched his fists tight.
Zero tapped the captain’s back. “More resources is better than less, Captain,” she said. “Especially if they are motivated, trained soldiers.”
“A group that acts swiftly without questioning the captain’s orders is strong, even if they’re weak individually,” I added. “Plus the more people we have, the more gunpowder we can carry, making it easier for me.”
“I’d like to point out that you just expressed your true, foul intentions at the end there,” the priest said.
And you should quit butting in every single chance you get, you fucking priest.
As if he lost all interest in me, the priest turned to Gouda, pointing his well-shaped chin towards the direction Guy ran off to. “While it looks like things are going well here, as a priest who values harmony, I think you should go after him. He probably provoked you so you wouldn’t march to the Forbidden Land, but now he’s going to be left out.”
“Right,” Gouda said. Cursing, he took off. Then, as if he just suddenly remembered, he turned around and gave orders. “There should be gunpowder in the castle’s basement storage! It’s old and damp, so sort out the usable stuff and take them out of there. We ride at dawn!”
“Yes, Sir!” answered the Magic Corps. They rushed into the basement storage, and a moment later, people already found the gunpowder.
Watching their perfect coordination, the priest muttered, “It seems like things will indeed be easier with them around.”