*Gashari, gashari* Making that systematic sound, they drew near.
Wearing metal armor on their whole bodies, they were a heavily equipped chivalric order of the Jiol Forest Kingdom. Their outward appearance was similar to the Zadark Kingdom’s Magic Operated Armors, but the inside of their armors wasn’t hollow, and properly had Sylphid within them.
The knight at the head of the heavily equipped chivalric order gave a signal after acknowledging the figures of Vermudol’s group, and made the chivalric order stop.
「……I am assuming from your appearance that you are the King of the Zadark Kingdom, Vermudol-sama, but am I correct in assuming that!」
「Yeah, you’re not wrong.」
After Vermudol answered, the knight at the lead took off their helmet. From within, the face of a beautiful Sylphid woman appeared.
She had a silver bob cut hairstyle, and silver eyes. She had cute looks that seemed mismatched with her solemn armor. After looking closely, she had a smaller build than the other knights.
「We are the Jiol Forest Kingdom’s Heavy Equipment Chivalric Order. I am the commander, Elriol! We have come to receive everyone!」
It seemed that they really came to receive Vermudol’s group, but at the same time, that also caused questions to well up within Vermudol.
First, what was the meaning of the Jiol Forest Kingdom sending out the Heavy Equipment Chivalric Order? The Great Jiol Forest was a forest said to also be a forest of bewilderment. To walk in such a complex and complicated land, light equipment was much more appropriate than heavy equipment.
And then, there was the speed of their coming to receive them. No matter what, their timing was too good, and too fast. They wouldn’t have made it in time unless they departed the castle while Vermudol’s group was within the labyrinth.
To begin with, how did they grasp the whereabouts of Vermudol’s group? Certainly, they were informed that their group would be headed towards the Great Jiol Forest, but how did they deduce this spot of the immense forest?
Even through doing just a light amount of thinking, there were this many questionable points.
As for an answer that could settle all of these questions, there was only one──In other words, an enemy.
He didn’t think that there was someone in the Jiol Forest Kingdom that could tail Vermudol’s group without him noticing, but the possibility of that wasn’t zero.
The instant he realized that, Vermudol placed a hand on the sword on his waist.
Both Sancreed and Nino took similar stances, and if Vermudol were to give the signal, they would immediately spring forward.
But, it was rash to arbitrarily decide that that was the case. To the very end, that was nothing more than a single possibility.
「……Is that so. But why here?」
「Yes. The royal palace priest had received an oracle from the God of Wind Wyrm-sama. According to that, we were told that a Temple Knight serving Wyrm-sama would be accompanying you, Vermudol-sama……」
Hearing that, Nefas was surprised, and his body shook grandly.
That’s right, this meant that they came to receive not Vermudol, but Nefas.
Vermudol’s group had no way of knowing, but the instant Wyrm felt that Nefas would become his own Temple Knight, he gave the news of the birth of a Temple Knight to the priests that worshipped him as an oracle. Of course, the only one to receive that kind of oracle was a priest with a befittingly strong Divine Protection.
The Head Priest at the royal palace was astonished from receiving that.
A Temple Knight of Wind that was personally appointed by the God of Wind Wyrm was similar to being an agent of God. The bunch called the Temple Protection Knights that were numerous in the St. Altlis Kingdom’s Grand Temple of Life couldn’t be compared with him, as he was a genuine knight of a God.
The Head Priest rushed into the king’s room as if tumbling in, and hurriedly reported that to King Sarigan.
And then, King Sarigan stood up from his throne the moment he heard that, and gave the order. To go receive that Temple Knight-dono right away, and to immediately send out the ones who were the most proficient at escorting in order to soundly protect them no matter what happened.
However, at the same time as that Sarigan remembered that the King of the Zadark Kingdom, Demon King Vermudol, should have said that he was headed to the Great Jiol Forest.
The Demon King Vermudol’s exploration of the Great Jiol Forest, and the birth of a Temple Knight of Wind.
The timing for this was too good, and Sarigan was unable to believe that these two events were unrelated.
It was probably only natural to think that someone accompanying the Demon King had become the Temple Knight of Wind. In other words, a Mazoku had become the Temple Knight of Wind……that is how it would turn out to be.
For Sarigan personally, now that his prejudices towards the Mazoku had vanished, it was nothing special even if a Mazoku had become the Temple Knight.
But, for the Jiol Forest Kingdom and the neighboring countries, that wouldn’t be the case.
If a citizen of the Jiol Forest Kingdom became the Temple Knight of Wind, it would have been something joyous for the Jiol Forest Kingdom.
The appearance of the Temple Knight of Wind who could be said to be the agent of the God of Wind Wyrm would become a large strength to nations that worshipped the God of Wind. It was the same theory behind the faith of the God of Life increasing in strength through the appearance of the Hero. Also, looking at it from a military perspective, the Temple Knight of Wind was also extraordinary war potential.
However, in the event that someone of another country were to become the Temple Knight of Wind, this would cause a certain problem.
In the event that that person were to serve their mother country’s royal palace or chivalric order, there was the possibility that the Temple Knight of Wind, who was the God of Wind’s agent, would be seen as becoming that country’s subordinate──as well as the subordinate of another God.
This would be a heavy blow to the Jiol Forest Kingdom, and at the same time, it would definitely be a trigger to a dispute over the hierarchy of the Gods which had all been made out to be equal in rank.
And then, in this currently unstable international situation, that would conceive danger that would invite the worst-case situation.
That is why, for the Jiol Forest Kingdom which worshipped the God of Wind Wyrm and the God of Water Aklia, they couldn’t hand the Temple Knight of Wind over to another country. They needed to take custody of the Temple Knight of Wind into their own country.
With that sort of motive, Sarigan dispatched the Heavy Equipment Chivalric Order.
As for how they had arrived here, actually, the Jiol Forest Kingdom had a grasp of the location of the Grand Temple of Wind.
Through the hero of the Jiol Forest Kingdom who had traveled together with the Hero Ryuuya in the past, Luuty Ligas, they ascertained its location. Of course, its location was not announced to anyone other than those who served in the Jiol Forest Kingdom’s government and temples.
As Sarigan, who thought “if a Temple Knight of Wind were to be born, it would surely be there……”, hurried the chivalric order, sure enough, Vermudol was there. That is how it turned out.
However, for Elriol, being polite to a fault, she said that she could not explain all of that.
「I do not have the authority to explain the method in which we knew about this location, but we have no hostility towards you. The command we received was the protection of the Temple Knight of Wind-dono.」
Seeing Elriol glancing over at Nefas for a while now, Vermudol gave a nod.
Even without explaining it, it was very clear that Nefas was the Temple Knight of Wind. The ones whose appearances had green as their basic tone in this place were Nino and Nefas only. And among them, the one who really did have Temple Knight-like attire was clearly Nefas.
Incidentally, Nefas himself was turning the other way while shedding a cold sweat. That was naturally noticed by Elriol’s gaze.
Maybe because she became excited from seeing the Temple Knight of Wind, Elriol’s eyes as she looked at Nefas were somehow passionate, and even her face had slightly turned red.
「So, is that the Temple Knight-dono over there?」
「Yeah, that’s right. His name is……what was it again?」
After Vermudol looked down at Nino who was in his arms, Nino groaned as if thinking about it for a bit.
「If Nino remembers correctly……Stalker?」
「……That’s quite a unique name, isn’t it.」
「No, that’s wrong, you know?」
Having become unable to continue feigning ignorance as one would expect, Nefas hurriedly denied that.
Having no other choice but to resolve himself, Nefas turned to Elriol.
「……This is our first time meeting. I am of the Albania Duke House of the St. Altlis Kingdom, the one called Nefas Albania. Just a little while ago, I was appointed as the Temple Knight of Wind by Wyrm-sama.」
Hearing “St. Altlis Kingdom”, Elriol’s brow moved with a twitch.
The fact that the relationship between the St. Altlis Kingdom and the Jiol Forest Kingdom wasn’t doing well right now was common sense among the knights that served in the Jiol Forest Kingdom.
And then, Elriol also knew that Duke Albania had come to the Jiol Forest Kingdom for the sake of friendship between both countries.
That is why Elriol quickly judged that this was “not the worst-case situation……”. It was one step before the worst-case situation, but with the fact that it was someone of a noble house that was friendly with the Jiol Forest Kingdom being the only good part, there was still no telling how it would turn out.
At any rate, she couldn’t allow Nefas──allow the Temple Knight of Wind to return to the St. Altlis Kingdom just like this. She needed to detain him in the Jiol Forest Kingdom, and then entice him to stay.
Elriol was entrusted with a portion of authority by King Sarigan for the sake of that.
「……Temple Knight of Wind, Nefas-sama. I am the Commander of the Jiol Forest Kingdom Heavy Equipment Chivalric Order, Elriol. I beg your pardon, but I ask that you accompany us to the castle. ……By the way……as rude as this may be, Nefas-sama, would you happen to have a fiance or a sweetheart?」
「Eh? No, I don’t but……」
Nefas answered like that while being confused. He resolved himself to be restrained in the Jiol Forest Kingdom, but why would he be asked that question? It seemed like there many other things more important to ask than that.
「Is that so. I also do not have one.」
Hearing those words, the Heavy Equipment Knights behind Elriol started to get noisy.
However, for Nefas, he didn’t understand the aim of Elriol’s conversation. He was troubled even if he were told that she didn’t have a sweetheart, and the atmosphere was too serious for idle talk.
Elriol uttered her next words to the bewildered Nefas.
「Well then, Nefas-sama. Do you like small women?」