Chapter Nine: Slavers Beware

"Big Brother, please show them your gratitude too."

"Urgh, Atla! Don't trust them so easily! They've basically kidnapped us!" Fohl mumbled irritably.

The teenage tiger and his younger sister were sitting on the couch of Motoyasu's home. The bandaged girl looked the same as before, while Fohl still looked like he was about to throw up after his first experience with teleportation magic.

"Drifa Healing Warmth." Amber's fire healing spell washed over the young tiger boy, helping a bit with his nausea while simultaneously healing many of his different injuries.

"We didn't kidnap you though," Keel said in a confused voice and cocked her head while standing in front of the two siblings. "We just freed you and took you to a safe place. We even removed your slave crests and everything."

"You bought us and our debts! That means we're basically enslaved to you!" Fohl shouted. "Don't you know how it works?!"

"Eh? Is that how it works, Anya?" Keel asked her friend.

"No idea, really. It would be kind of weird if you owned your crush though." The cat girl said under her breath at the end.

"What was that?" Keel asked.

"Nothing." Anya grinned mischievously. She could tell she would have a lot of fun with this running joke of hers.

"Well, anyway, I don't care how it works or not, you're not slaves and we didn't kidnap you, and that's final." Keel stood tall, crossing her arms and pouting at the hakuko tiger.

"Stop lying!" Fohl snarled as he stood up. "You probably paid at least thirty gold coins for us both! And you expect me to believe that you did it just because you wanted to apologize for kicking my butt in the Arena?!"

"Actually, it was sixty gold coins," Keel admitted, smiling just a little too happily at the admission. "And I intend to repay Bubba Spear for every coin he lent me to do that."

"W-WHAAAT?!" Fohl screamed.

"Big Brother, please, not so loud." Atla sighed. "I can tell from her aura that she hasn't lied to us even once."

"Oh? You can tell?" Anya asked, looking dubiously at the closed eye girl.

"… Yes." Atla turned her head in Anya's direction, before facing her older brother. "Fohl, I know it's hard to believe, but none of these people harbor any ill intentions in their hearts. If they did, I would tell you."

"B-B-But Atla, we can't just trust-" Fohl tried to say.

Atla smiled softly in her brother's direction, disarming his voice. Atla then turned her head to face Keel again. "Miss... Keel, was it? Thank you again, I'm glad that you saved me and my brother. I hope you'll be able to become good friends with him in the future."

"You're welcome, I hope we can... wait, has he never had friends before?" Keel looked at the boy curiously.

Again, it looked like Fohl had been punched in the gut.

"Yes. You see, Fohl's never been able to have any friends since he's always been focused on taking care of me. I do hope that will change after today." Atla explained simply.

"Friends?! What?! No! No no no no no!" Fohl glared distrustfully at the maid dog girl again. "The last thing I want is to have her bugging me all the time!"

"Hmmm. That just makes me want to be your friend even more though." Keel grinned, eyeing up the tiger teenager like he was a piece of prey.

"NEVER! Not in a million years! Not in-" Fohl screamed.

"Brother, you shouldn't try so hard to lie." Atla chided him, much to his shock. "I can tell you're grateful and interested in getting to know her better, so just be honest about it and take that step."

"Wha- NO! I'M NOT!" Fohl screeched as a blush crept up his face.

"Volume." Atla chided him again, a soft smile on her bandaged face.

"Huh? Know me better? Does she mean like my hobbies and interests and stuff?" Keel asked Anya once more.

"..." Anya said nothing. The denseness of her friend's skull was beyond most metals, she was sure. And to think she'd literally taught her about the birds and the bees YESTERDAY!

Maybe she should try slamming her head against the dog girl's and see if that would beat some common sense into Keel?

"Alright, enough fooling around, you lot." Motoyasu chuckled. "I still need to go see Melty, and then I'll bring food back with me right after."

"Sweet! I hope Gar cooked something good tonight!" Keel exclaimed happily.

"Bring a lot back. I could eat a dragon after today." Anya rubbed her belly, which was growling at her in demand for sustenance.

"Better a dragon than a Filolial, I say!" Motoyasu laughed.

"Motoyasu," Hearing his name coming from the tiger girl, the Spear Hero turned to face her.

"On behalf of me and my older brother. Thank you," The tiger girl bowed her head in his direction.

"Um… er…" Fohl looked from his sister to the knight figure, a mixture of different emotions crossing his face. The others in the room remained silent.

But then, he too bowed his head in gratitude. "Thank you."

Two simple words. But they held a lot of meaning from the tiger kid. There was no need for him to add anything else to such a sincere statement.

"You're welcome." Motoyasu smiled back, his voice filled with happiness.

"Wait! Before you go, where are we right now?! Can I at least know that?! And what do you plan to do with us?!" Fohl asked desperately, wanting some semblance of normalcy to return to his life, which had been thrown upside down in the span of a mere moment.

"Ah, right. We're in the Hero's Nation right now." Motoyasu grinned. "By the way, I'm the Spear Hero, and this is my home."

"... … …" Fohl stared at Motoyasu. His eyes slowly grew as wide as saucers.

It was like he was finally looking around himself. They were in a nice home, but it was made of wood instead of stone. Out the back window through the darkening night, he could see a cliff facing a vast ocean.

Zeltoble's Capital wasn't by the ocean.

"As for what I want you to do, nothing at the moment. I'll see about having Jerry put together another wheelchair for your sister so you can take her outside." The Spear Hero continued. "I guess I would like you both to live here for now, so I can keep an eye on Atla's condition. But if you have a home or surviving family members out there somewhere, I promise, I'll help you reach them later!

"If that's everything, please excuse me, I need to inform our Governor about what happened. I'll make sure she knows you'll be staying here in the meantime. Hmmm... Maybe I'll ask our local pharmacist to take a look at Atla too, just in case..."

Motoyasu muttered to himself in thought while he and Amber walked to the front door of his house. The Spear Hero looked pretty pleased with himself as he simultaneously changed his Spear to a new weapon form to unlock.

Right before Fohl's eyes.

"Eh- EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!?" The young tiger boy gripped the sides of his head. Steam exploded out of his ears, and he very nearly passed out on the spot.

It had all been too much to take in for his young brain.

"Huh, what do you know, they even act alike when they experience information overload." Anya deadpanned while kneeling next to the hakuko boy, flicking the side of his head with her finger. Fohl didn't so much as react to the touch.

"Eh? I've never done that though!" Keel stated furiously.

"Fine. To measure the right side of a triangle, first you have to-" Anya began to say.


Keel fell backward onto the floor, a dazed look in her eyes and steam coming out of the ears on her head. "Ehhhhhhhh?"

"Yep, just like in Mahoya's lessons." Anya rolled her eyes.

Atla giggled happily. Weakly rubbing a hand along her brother's arm. She could tell she was going to love living here.

Huh, funny, just an hour ago, she thought she was doomed to die. Now she was looking forward to what the next day would bring. And the day after that, and the one after that.

Motoyasu heard it all as he walked to the door and chuckled to himself. Ah, this was sure to make things even more interesting down the road. He couldn't wait-

Wait, was he forgetting about something- ohhhhhhh, right. He hadn't gotten Sadeena's message yet.

Welp, he'd just have to portal back early tomorrow. Surely, Granny would understand if he skipped out on one sparring session, right? Not to mention, he was already over an hour late reporting to Melty thanks to this side trip. So he was going to have to deal with her first and then grab dinner for everyone else and-

"Blondie," Amber suddenly straightened next to him. "What's going on outside?"

"Eh?" Pulled out of his thoughts much more quickly than normal, Motoyasu looked at the girl in surprise. "What do you mean?"

Amber didn't speak, however, as she'd opened the door. She pointed a finger in the direction of the town.

It was dark, so the Spear Hero couldn't tell what was wrong at first. But then, he noticed the lines of smoke coming up from random parts of the town.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhh!" His ears were also met with the sound of screams.

Uh oh.

Lurolona Town, approximately thirty minutes before Motoyasu's return

"How's it looking up there?"

A thin man with sharp eyesight observed their target from his perch in the treetops. He had a sword sheathed on his back and a scowl on his lips.

Balred had certainly seen better days in his life. Once a trusted member of the adventurer's guild in Melromarc, he had lost almost everything after that fiasco in Mirso with the Sword Hero and the dragon Gaelion.

It was supposed to be a simple job. Get the foolish young hero to kill the pesky dragon. Move in and capture the dog girl the dragon had been guarding. Bring her back to the Three Heroes Church.

The former adventurer had no idea why the pope wanted her so badly, but he didn't care. He'd just wanted the money from the contract since the Church raised the amount each year, and by that point, it'd been so high that he even used his connections to his slaver friends to help him get the job done.

The problem was, that the Sword Hero didn't leave after killing the dragon. And after beating the crap out of all of them and siding with that blasted dog girl, Balred and his associates were forced to escape that accursed mountain. Nearly dying several times throughout the whole trip back.

In fact, several of his friends didn't survive the return trip. And when the guild found out about his shady dealings, he was fired and thrown out. Finally, after Mirellia returned, he was put on a wanted list.

He would get his revenge on the Queen and his former comrades at the Guild later. But for now, he knew the Sword Hero and the dog girl he rescued were here, in this town. And the formerly portly adventurer was currently in the middle of an operation with a bunch of other nobles to capture as many of the townspeople here as possible so more… legit, merchandise, could keep Zeltoble's economic bubble going.

That was part of the reason the others were here, at least. Some wanted to kill demis, others wanted to get back at the Queen for one reason or another and thus wanted to kill her daughter.

Balred simply wanted revenge on the Sword Hero for ruining his life. And on that blasted dog girl too, since she was the job that turned his life into a living hell.

He was going to enjoy this. And as he watched, he saw as the knights patrolling on the bulwarks of the town's new wall began disappearing down the back for their shift change.

There were none of those blasted Filolials in sight. The creatures had been lured away by trails of monster meat others had laid down close to the village. That scary old lady they sometimes spotted in the training arena along with those they'd identified as the Hero's party members were also gone, helping to powerlevel some of the locals in the forest.

And best of all, the Spear Hero still hadn't returned yet. He didn't see the bright light emanating from his house, indicating the use of his portal skill to return to the town. Something was holding him up, and he had a feeling that he wouldn't be back for a long while if that was the case.

The only legitimate threats left inside the walls were the Sword Hero and the Dog Girl. And the intel they got said that the young fool still hadn't recovered from his battle against the Spirit Tortoise. This was it. Tonight was the perfect time to strike. Balred was going to get his revenge at last.

He hadn't grinded every day in the wild since the Sword Hero humiliated him till he reached level 75 without a good reason, after all.

"Everything is in place," Balred said to the men waiting down below.

It was time for the slave raid to commence.


Balred and his dozens of fellow nobles ran for the entrances of the towering walls. Screaming at the top of their lungs to make it seem like an even larger army was attacking that side of the town. The other two groups would be doing the same at the other entrances.

Everyone knew they were on the clock. They had to get in and get out before the Filolials, the Hero's party members, the fighters, and the Spear Hero returned. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to capture anybody and turn a profit. Wasting all the time they'd spent scouting the village from a distance, figuring out the knight's shift schedules and the time when Motoyasu typically returned so they could perform this operation.

This was the time when most of the knights would be out of armor. The time when the raiders could cause the most chaos to get in and out.

Balred was the first one through the town entrance, his sword raised and ready to cleave through one of the first knights that'd climbed down from the walls just a minute ago.

His sword swung through nothing but empty air.

He and the others kept charging forward for a few seconds. Screaming like a bunch of lunatics. Similar things were happening at the other two entrances to the town.

But eventually, they all came to a stop. Looking around themselves in confusion.

"Where are the knights?"

"Where are the townspeople?"

"Where are the kids we're supposed to be kidnapping?!"

Nobody was running around, screaming in terror or confusion. None of the knights they'd seen on the walls earlier were charging out to face them. There weren't any people hastily erecting barricades in an attempt to slow them down. There wasn't even some brave idiot holding a pitchfork to stand in their way.

They were met by nothing except deserted roads and unlit houses. Giving the place an abandoned, dreary look.

"Are we being targeted by illusion magic or something?!" Balred shouted to one of the men in the back.

"No! I'm not sensing any magic besides the buffs I cast on everyone before this!" A scrawny, well-dressed, yellow-toothed man dressed in wizard robes yelled back.

Balred felt a cold sweat going down his neck. No! He swore he saw knights on the walls earlier! He'd also been able to spot people in the streets whenever he was perched higher in the trees during the day!

Don't tell him! Had they expected the raid tonight and already evacuated beforehand?!

Fine then! If they'd already left, then he was going to make sure they had nothing to return to! He didn't come here just to waste his time!

"Burn the place to the ground!" Balred ordered.

Some of the men with him were confused. Others looked all too happy to oblige as they raised their torches to the air and began screaming again.

These men were the ones who charged forward towards the unlit homes and buildings nearest them.

"W-Wait, behind us-" The mage in the group started to scream.

"Drifa Earth Fortress!"

Balred turned around, locating the origin of the shout.

It was a short blue-haired girl in a blue dress, standing on the rampart above the town entrance. The Second Princess, and this town's Governor: Melty Melromarc.

No sooner did Balred realize who it was when the earth began to tremble.

Pillars of earth rose up underneath and around the reinforced wooden walls all around the town. Raising their height from twenty-five feet to nearly a hundred.

In front of the entrances, large slabs of earth came out from the pillars. They slammed shut like the gates of hell, trapping the slavers inside.

The eyes of all the enemies were wide in shock and terror while Melty glared down at them all.

She was well known for her use of water magic, but people tended to forget she was also a practitioner of Earth magic. She wasn't as good at it as she was with Water, but, unfortunately for Balred and his allies, she had been studying and preparing to deal with another slave raid for quite a long while. And she'd been improving her use of Earth Magic so she could pull this off.

Papa would have been proud. It was a weaker variation of his Drifa Cataclysm spell he used a couple of times during the War. She had no affinity for wind magic, unfortunately, so she couldn't use that spell to eliminate all their enemies in one fell swoop while improving their fortifications. She probably wouldn't have been able to control it well enough to keep any of her allies from being harmed either. So it was ultimately for the best.

This was more than enough for this garbage.

She would make sure that none of them would escape. As a bonus, with the walls now able to rival those around the Capital, they wouldn't need many improvements besides the towers for quite a while. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

"Captain, is everyone ready?" Melty asked.

Captain Mayor stepped out from his hiding place on the rampart, as well as every one of Mirellia's knights who'd volunteered to help protect the area from any future slave raid. "Yes. Ready and waiting, Lady Governor."

The knights had never left the walls. They'd been hidden there all along, together with some of the townspeople.

All of them were armed with bows or had magic spells at the ready.

"Fire at will," Melty told him in a cold voice.

"First volley, launch!" Captain Mayor ordered.

As one, the first arrow and magical volley fell upon the heads of the slavers.

And just like that, the town became a battleground once again.


"Find cover!" Balred screeched, plowing over the man in front of him who had an arrow sticking out of his arm.

Very few of his allies heard his order and obeyed it. The rest either attacked the new stone gates in a desperate attempt to break them down or ran around the streets like chickens with their heads cut off.

Those who listened either ran for the open doorways of nearby homes and shops or to stalls and wagons to hide under to escape the barrage.

The second group ended up being the smart ones.

"Yah! Charge them, lads and lassies!" As one of Balred's men was running into a door, a mace slammed into the home invader's face, knocking him to the floor.

Jerry the Blacksmith came charging out, dressed in a Scottish kilt and holding a giant war mace in one hand and a round Viking shield in the other. From the other homes, more fighters, both kids and adults, charged the slavers, snarling as they took them on in melee combat.

"Don't let them escape! Dawn's Thrust!" Eclair yelled, her sword flashing as she moved into one of her magic spell techniques to bring down a man a head taller than her.

"What the-"

"Stand and fight!"

"There's too many of them!"


The charge was quick and vicious. Balred took cover behind a barrel as more of his allies were met by the blades and spears of the villagers.

These weren't cheap knickknacks either. These were well-crafted, high-quality weapons with good stats attached to them. Those wielding them didn't look inexperienced with these weapons either. They weren't battle-hardened veterans, but neither were they novices.

What the hell… Balred was level 75! Most of the allies with him averaged level 60-70 and were experienced warriors, nobles, and mercenaries to boot!

How the hell were most of them getting beat up by literal children?!

"Incoming!" A familiar dog demi-human florist, along with several others leaning out from the second-floor windows of nearby buildings, threw buckets of fresh caterpilland manure at the disorganized nobles as they tried to rally in the street under barriers a couple of mages had put up so those in the back could prepare a counter-attack.

The buckets were stopped midair, but their contents fell through the transparent barriers, smacking all over the heads of the enemies and causing them to scramble in confusion and disgust.

"Aye! No hiding on the battlefield!" Jerry, spotting the hiding swordsman at that moment, broke the barrel with his mace in an attempt to hit Balred.

The disgraced guild member ducked the blow, which slammed into the wall of the house behind him. He then jumped up, plowing the large blacksmith over with his shoulder.

"Urgh!" Jerry fell to the ground, his mace falling out of his hand.

Balred screamed in anger and frustration as he then tried to impale the stunned blacksmith with his sword.

"Don't you dare harm Blacksmith Guy!"

Before Balred could even turn to face the new threat, the breath was stolen from his lungs as the mace that Jerry had just dropped slammed into the slaver's rib cage. He was sent flying dozens of meters, rolling across the ground with his chest armor dented in.

He was far away from all of his other allies, who were becoming more disorganized by the second as the barrier above them shattered thanks to the mages losing their concentration.

"You alright, Blacksmith Guy?" Blue asked as he handed the blacksmith back his weapon.

"Aye, just bruised my pride is all." Jerry groaned as he sat up, accepting the mace from the blue-haired preteen.

"Gwah! (Destroy them! Destroy them all in the name of Rikka's Tyrant Eye!)" A familiar black-feathered Filolial dove into the scene.

"Gwah!" "Gwah!" "Gwah!" An entire flock of Filolials appeared diving from the wall behind her. The same thing happened at the other entrances where the slavers had entered the town.

"All Aqua Shot!"

"Four Cross!"


Balred gasped for breath as he forced himself out of his chest armor. He had a huge bruise already forming on his chest as the sounds of battle continued. And it was clear what direction it was going, since that time, the roar of voices hadn't come from the slavers.

"Run! Run for it!" One of the slavers screamed in terror. Running deeper into the village towards the ocean. He was, however, plowed over by a Middle Eastern lady riding on the back of a large caterpilland before he could get very far.

Others foolishly tried to stand and fight, while others ran away as well. Only to be met by other townspeople who'd been held in reserve, waiting for their prey to try and flee.

Balred slunk off into the shadows, however. As he fought through the pain to run between houses in the direction of the cliffs, he knew at that moment that they were all screwed. None of them were going to escape. It was likely that the locals had even more people waiting for the raiders at the ocean if they managed to get that far.

They'd underestimated their foes. The intel they'd gotten from the individual inside this place had been rotten. They were as good as captured.

There was nothing they could do.

Balred came out of the alley, running in the direction of the Hero's homes.

Since that was the case, he was going to stop pretending he was there to capture slaves and instead find the Sword Hero so he could kill him and exact his revenge on that dog girl and-


The cry of a baby dragon was the only warning the wandering swordsman got before a fist covered in some strange kind of energy slammed into his face, sending Balred flying back onto the ground once again.

"Huh, I didn't expect anyone to make it this far."

"Looks like Melty was right to ask us to stay back while Crystal and Rachel handled the other parts of the wall. I wonder how many others we'll have to deal with."

Tersia and Farrie stood tall and imposing. And between them, with a cute little red dragon sitting on her shoulder, Wyndia cracked the knuckles in her hand as the gem spell she'd used dissipated.

"Whatever. Let's just subdue him before more of his friends show up. I don't want the noise to wake Ren up. I just managed to get him to sleep." The dog girl said in a bitter voice.

This girl- he recognized her! She might have looked older now, but it was definitely the brat who cried in front of that dead dragon! And he recognized the other girls too! They were also friends of that stupid Sword Hero!


"YOU DAMN DEMIIIIIIII-" Bleeding and battered, Balred charged the dog girl and her friends.

He'd lost.

Actually, that wasn't enough to describe what happened.

Balred was completely and utterly humiliated in his defeat.

Nah, those weren't strong enough words either.

He was boned before he even took his first step. He didn't even see how he was defeated. It happened too quickly for his brain to process.

The gods themselves were likely laughing overhead right now at how badly he'd lost. His father, had he been here, would be shaking his head in disappointment at his mockery of a son. His siblings would walk around, pretending he was never their brother. His children, if he ever saw them again, would act as if they were bastard children without a father, their future kids biting their thumbs in Balred's direction if only to avoid the shame of having him as their grandparent.

Ok, that felt a little personal.

Either way, to make a long story short, Balred and his allies had been completely and utterly smashed by the time Motoyasu ran out to help.

The rising stacks of smoke came from the few wagons or roofs that'd been set on fire during the fighting. The screams were all coming from the slavers still coherent and conscious. But besides a couple of minor injuries here or there, all the townspeople and knights were completely fine. Whereas all their enemies had been either killed or captured.

It was around a 50/50 ratio with most of them having died to the initial volleys of arrows and magic spells while they were out in the open. The rest had been incapacitated by the ground fighters and were tied up, waiting to hear their fates.

It was a complete and total victory.

"Ohoho! You missed out on the fun Spear-dono!" Granny laughed boisterously as Motoyasu walked up.

"I… huh…?" Motoyasu still looked stunned.

"Gwah! Gwah!" A Filolial with a white eyepatch ran up to Amber, and after a moment, Amber nodded her head.

"According to Rikka, Melty knew the slavers were readying to attack, so she set up conditions to make them attack on her terms." She explained.

"Indeed. The Queen trained her daughter well." Granny grinned. "I almost feel sorry for the poor fools."

As Motoyasu was still processing this, the Second Princess herself finished examining the last group of individuals. She had a large frown on her face, as did her protector Eclair.

"Is there a problem, Lady Governor?" Granny asked, seeing the troubled look on the young girl's face.

"Yes, I thought I recognized these people from somewhere. I'm pretty certain most of them are members of Melromarc's nobility." Melty said.

"..." Motoyasu looked the figures over again. Now that he thought about it, they didn't look anything like the slavers he'd seen in Zeltoble. A little dirty from living in the wild, perhaps, and their equipment had seen better days, but they definitely didn't look nearly as wild as the slavers he met before.

Eclair's frown deepened even more as she approached one of the men, who didn't turn his face to her. "I recognize you." She scowled. "You're one of the knights that served under my father. Sir Preot, was it?

"Why are you attacking the place you were sworn to protect?"

The man didn't speak for a moment, refusing to address the lady knight. But after a moment, when Eclair's glare didn't relent, the man finally spoke.

"Bah, to be humiliated by this tainted bloodline once again." The nobleman and former knight spat on Eclair's boot. "If only you'd died alongside your bastard father so I would have been spared the sight of seeing you."

"Harsh words… from someone who is now under the custody of the Hero's Nation," Eclair replied in a dry tone. Her hand, however, tightened on the hilt of her sword at the insult towards her father.

"Yes, and praytell, what are you going to do to us, exactly?" The man looked up with a smug grin. "The Princess is right about us being nobility. And on top of that, you've killed many of my comrades who were also nobles.

"Do you think you'll get away with killing them? Do you think your lives are more valuable than ours?

"You're going to have much to answer for as soon as word of this tragedy reaches my father." The man stated in a smug tone. "There's no way he'd let this dump stand for this."

"... are you threatening us?" Melty asked. There was a dark look in her eyes. "You do realize where we are, correct?"

"Threatening? No, of course not 'Second Princess'." The man laughed. "I recognize we are in Seaetto, a land Her Majesty gave away without consulting her nobility. I also recognize the difference in our status, and how any punishment you choose to inflict upon me and my friends will be returned to you a thousandfold by our parents, who keep your parents in power.

"Face it! No matter how superior you think you are, you can't do anything to us! And I say, for those of my friends who have fallen here today, we shall return their blood upon the heads of the livestock here a hundredfold for daring to think they could ever rise against us and-"


As the man was raving, Eclair slashed her sword across his face, cutting off the front part of his tongue.

"Egh! Eghhhh!?" Sir Preot screamed in pain, fear, and confusion through the blood pooling in his mouth. The faces of his comrades twisted in shock at the action.

"Lady Governor…" Eclair drew in a deep breath. Her tone was filled with venom. "Remind me. Is Seaetto, as Sir Preot calls this land, a part of Melromarc right now?"

"No, it is not," Melty answered without hesitation.

"In the hierarchy of things, has her Majesty ever placed herself in authority above the Heroes, who were given my Father's land to make their own nation?" Eclair continued.

"No, she is not," Melty answered again.

"... What is the punishment for human trafficking in the Hero's Nation that we all agreed on at its forming?" Eclair asked next.

"Death." The girl answered, again, without missing a beat.

"And are there any exceptions to that rule?" Eclair asked. "

"None. Not even the Heroes are exempt from it." Melty answered in a cold, hollow voice, her gaze falling on Motoyasu.

The Spear Hero shuddered. He understood that the girl wasn't threatening him, and yet, he could not shake the cold chill that traveled down his spine at her words.

"You say that we can't do anything? I disagree. In this land, your statuses mean nothing." Melty continued coldly before looking down at the surviving raiders. "Your parents might keep the King and Queen in power in Melromarc, but my parents aren't the ones in charge here.

"You all forfeited your lives the moment you decided to step foot on this land and enslave the people here. Now you will all pay the price for your actions."

Eclair nodded, and without pausing, she swung her sword once again.

This time, the head of Sir Preot rolled away from his body. A look of stunned shock was forever immortalized as his eyes lost the life they'd held in them.

At hearing what Melty said, and seeing what happened to their compatriot, the others tied up in the group began to struggle and raised their voices in panic. "Y-You're kidding, right?!"

"We're nobles! You can't kill us!"

"This'll mean war! My parents will kill you! You hear me!"

They shouted these and other things at the Second Princess and Eclair, as well as the knights and townspeople standing there witnessing the event.

Really, they were already on another tier of stupidity for attacking Lurolona. Sure, they might have been highly leveled compared to previous raids, and sure, the people here might not have had as much battle experience as they did.

But the people living here had been saved by the Heroes. They'd fought off the chains of slavery and established homes, families, and lives of their own in this place. They'd faced off against the remnants of the Church, fought against the familiars of the Spirit Tortoise, worked hard under the Heroes, and even had the flock of the great Fitoria around to protect them.

Many of them had Hero Service Crests placed on them to improve their strength under the Heroes. Others were undergoing Fitoria's way of strengthening through level sacrifice. A few were going through both to become even stronger than everyone else. Even with higher levels, these slavers couldn't have ever hoped to be victorious against the citizens of the Hero Nation on their own. For this was a people preparing to fight alongside the Heroes against the Waves, the Guardian Beasts, and any other foe the Heroes would be facing.

But where the nobles' stupidity shined was thinking that they'd only get away with a slap on the wrist for their actions because of their 'status' in Melromarc. Melty made it absolutely clear when writing the laws of this new nation that slavery would never be allowed, whether you were a commoner, a noble, a royal, or a Hero.

Anyone who tried to enforce slavery in this land would be punished the same. And they wouldn't be spared an ounce of mercy.

Melty watched silently as Eclair's blade swung back and forth, beheading one Melromarcian nobleman after another. Several of her fellow knights joined her in executing the ragtag group of nobles.

"W-Wait! You can't-" As one guy tried to flee, a pair of knights gripped him by the shoulders and pressed him down, keeping him from moving while exposing his neck. "NO! NOOOOOO-"

He was beheaded too.

Balred looked around, shock and terror written on his face as the rose-haired executioner made her way down the line.

No! No! He still hadn't gotten his revenge on the Sword Hero yet!

It couldn't end like this! IT COULDN'T!

Just like his comrades, he tried to get up. To run. To flee. To fight to the bitter end. The man's fight and flight responses were triggering simultaneously. His body didn't know which one to follow.

Unfortunately, like the others, he was also pinned down by a pair of knights. He watched in horror as Eclair slowly made her way to him in his spot in the line.

"NO!" Balred screamed.

His eyes spotted Wyndia and the others in the crowd of people. The dog girl looked to be supporting the Sword Hero, who looked tired, weak, and haggard, just as the intel stated. Where had he been that entire fight?

"YOU! I SWEAR, I WILL NOT DIE BEFORE I GET MY VENGEANCE ON YOU, SWORD HERO!" Balred screamed like a maniac, making Eclair pause as she readied her blade to execute him.

His screaming also grabbed the attention of those two individuals. As well as the attention of Farrie and Tersia, who stood behind Ren, ready to assist him. "Gah?" Little Gaelion also appeared from the folds of Ren's scarf, where she'd settled down to take a nap.


"Ren, do you recognize him?" Wyndia finally asked.

"... … …" The Sword Hero remained silent for a moment. He was briefly pulled out of his cloud of depression by the man who'd threatened him and his girlfriend.

"... no." Ren finally muttered. "He doesn't look familiar…" And back down into the cloud of depression, he went.

If only the earlier fighting hadn't woken him up… he felt more useless than ever before having not been able to help with the slave raid.

"Have we seen this guy before?" Farrie asked her sister.

"I can't recall." Tersia, who had the best memory of the group, shrugged.

Balred looked like he'd been punched in the gut.

All that time… all that effort… all his planning to make it here and take his revenge on the people who'd ruined his life…

And they didn't even remember who he was…

Balred's life, his ambitions, his hatred; all of it was left unfulfilled as Eclair's blade fell once again.

And thus ended the lives of Balred Veranir and his allies.

When it was all said and done, the knights began the long work of gathering the bodies of their foes to an area outside the walls of the town, where they were to be burned along with all their belongings.

Filolials patrolled the mountains and caves the slavers had been hiding in. Making sure all of them had been dealt with before reporting to Amber and Blue, who then reported to Fitoria, who'd been on standby, just in case she was needed. But with how things went, that proved to be unnecessary.

When everything was settled, Melty could be seen standing in her office, arms crossed behind her back while facing the windows with a frown on her face. Motoyasu finished reporting to her about Zeltoble.

"So that's why you came back late then." She said in an icy tone. It sounded very similar to Mirellia's whenever the Queen was angry.

"... I'm really sorry about that." Motoyasu bowed in apology. "I'll make sure to be here on time from now on."

"..." The Second Princess sighed. "It's fine. In a way, your absence helped to encourage our enemies to rush headlong into the trap I prepared for them."

"They'd already begun preparing for an attack. We'd probably be hunting down those who chickened out had you or Ren been out there to fight."

Motoyasu frowned. Had that been the reason his younger bro hadn't been fighting today? It never looked like he'd been told that... and besides that: "How would they know I was late though? That's the part that doesn't make sense to me."

"I… honestly don't know." Melty breathed through her nose while rubbing her forehead. "Your portal skill is pretty bright whenever you use it. Perhaps they had someone watching your house to find out when you were portaling inside."

"..." Motoyasu frowned as he thought about potential alternatives. "I'll move my portal location to my attic then."

"Mhmmm…" Melty nodded but continued to frown.

"Is… there anything else I can do for you, Melty?" Motoyasu asked, dropping all formalities with the girl.

"..." The bluette sighed. "I may have made a rash decision tonight." She admitted. "The last thing we needed is more enemies. Especially from Melromarc.

"I can only imagine how much trouble this is going to cause for Mother…"

The two both remained silent. Whether they liked it or not, the sons of some very influential people had just been killed by their hands. Whether they tried to cover it up or not, word would eventually reach their parents when they received no more contact from their sons, and then they'd have more issues to deal with.

The Melty of a few months ago would have never considered executing anyone, much less, a whole group of people. She felt nothing for those who'd fallen in battle. They were their enemies, and she herself had killed people today in the fighting. This was nothing new to her.

But executing the prisoners after capturing them? When they were defenseless and unable to do anything?

Had this just been her way of venting her anger? Did she feel more satisfied with her feelings towards Naofumi now after having done that?

No, not at all. That wound still stung like a festering sore… and watching a group of smug, pompous, arrogant nobles, who'd acted just like Naofumi had that day, die… hadn't made her feel any better.

In fact, looking towards Eclair, who also had a downcast expression on her face, the girl felt guilty for having her friend execute them on her behalf.

Would her mother have done the same thing in her position? Would she have struggled with these same thoughts? Would she have thrust the burden of killing on someone else so she wouldn't have to bloody her own hands?

The fact that Melty didn't know the answer to any of these questions only made her feel worse.

Perhaps, Naofumi had been right about her parents. How could she claim to love them when she didn't even know if her mother loved her or not…

"Melty," Eclair spoke at last. "What do you want to do next?"

"I don't know, I don't even know what mother would do if she were-" Melty started to answer.

"Melty…" Eclair repeated her name again, cutting her friend off with her serious tone. "Last I checked, your name wasn't Mirellia."

The knight's downcast expression vanished as she focused on the young girl before her.

"Your name is Melty. Who you are is Melty. The actions you take are yours, and not your mother's. Just like me, and how I'm not my father.

"Had Lord Seaetto been here, he would have granted those men mercy and given them a chance to atone for their mistakes. I'd know, since he has done so in the past. That was how I met Sir Preot.

"I do not share my father's sentiment. Some of those I executed today were indirectly linked to his death… and the fall of everything I knew and cared for while growing up." Eclair stated seriously. "Do I feel good about having killed them in cold blood? No, I do not. I feel just as I did when I executed my father's killer in the Capital of Melromarc.





"I do not feel happy to have killed once again.

Melty sighed sadly.

"... however, even though I feel that way… I know that I've done my duty, and protected those my Father would have wished to protect." Eclair continued. "Even if it wasn't the way he would have gone about it, even if there was another way we could have dealt with their ilk, I won't regret doing what I did. Because I did what I believe was right on behalf of you, and on behalf of all the people living here.

"And I trust that whatever will happen after this, you'll be able to guide us through to the end."

Melty looked from Eclair to the Spear Hero, who smiled a little in support. "Like she said, us Heroes didn't entrust running this place to the Queen. We trust you to do what's best for everyone here. And…

"Well, I can't say for sure if what you did was right or not, but you protecting all the people here? That was certainly the right thing to do.

"I bet if Naofumi was here, he'd be telling you the same thing."

Melty breathed in deeply again.

"The families of these nobles are going to want revenge." She stated matter-of-factly to the two.

"Should I postpone my mission in Zeltoble for now?" Motoyasu asked seriously.

"No, you have verified that a former resident is there, and that she has other former residents of Lurolona under her care. You need to ensure she and those kids make it back here safe and sound above anything else. Do not deviate from that." Melty told him seriously.

"Alright," Motoyasu continued to smile, and Melty breathed in deeply again.

"I'll take care of the problems here... I might need a bit of help though." She said, looking to her knight friend.

"I'm all ears." Eclair leaned forward attentively.

"… Shadow, will you help as well?" Melty asked, looking up to the ceiling.

"Of courze." A familiar male shadow appeared on a rafter. Motoyasu's eyes widened in surprise before he smiled brightly in recognition. He was happy to see one of the Shadows he rescued alive and doing better than ever. "What zhall I relay to her Grace?"

"Tell her this…"

The group listened as Melty explained the idea that came to her mind, and Motoyasu had Amber come in at one point to see if Fitoria's flock could assist with it or not. He supported what she wanted to do and had the thought that the sooner they could implement this, the better.

Upon hearing the plan, Fitoria voiced her doubts about getting involved in human affairs. Melty gave some assurances that the Hero's Nation wouldn't involve her flock if it did result in war. And that she was doing this to prevent more complex human affairs from occurring in the future. Which seemed counterintuitive with what she was going to do, but then, that's why she wanted Shadow's help getting this info to her mother.

If there was anything Melty did know, it was that Mirellia was a shrewd politician. She'd be able to spin this to their advantage somehow.

After thinking about it for a moment while Melty explained the rest, Fitoria gave her approval and promised to gather the fastest members of her flock by tomorrow morning. And with that, preparations for what Melty wanted to accomplish were underway.

Oh, and Motoyasu made sure to bring back some food to the others before he got home.

Boy, was it fun telling Keel and Anya how they missed out on all the fun.

Motoyasu returned to Zeltoble early the next morning after his spar with Granny. He wasn't able to skip out on it, unfortunately, but because he left, the Spear Hero missed out on seeing Melty's plan get put into action.

This was likely for the best, considering how much he was needed in the city of slaves.

Essentially, the heads of all the dead noblemen weren't burned with their bodies. Instead, they were put into crates, which were given to Filolials, who were then teleported near Melromarc's Capital, thanks to Fitoria traveling there during the night and setting a save location in the area.

Mirellia's Shadow returned before then, relaying the details of the previous night to the Queen. Believe it or not, she was already aware of the massacre, thanks to her other Shadows in the area returning and informing her of what'd gone down during the night. Because of that, the Shadow only had to report on Melty's plan.

Meaning that when Fitoria brought her flock near her castle with their cargo, Mirellia was already there, waiting with knights to assist them with what Melty wanted to do.

Mirellia and Fitoria had a moment to talk, which made both their days that much better. The knights Mirellia brought along with her, who'd fought alongside some of these Filolials against the Spirit Tortoise, and who'd come to view Fitoria in as good a light as their Queen, then rode the Filolials all day across the land in every direction.

These were amongst the fastest Fitoria had, trained to run long distances without tiring. Within the day, thanks to the directions Mirellia's knights gave the individual Filolials, almost every single package made it to the right nobles in record time. Thankfully, made easier by the fact that all the involved nobles lived in areas around the Capital and not on the outskirts of the kingdom.

The reaction from them upon discovering the contents of these crates was immediate. And it was within expectations.

As the morning sun peaked over the horizon on the second day, Mirellia was sitting in a moving carriage, surrounded by a bunch of recording crystals set to transmit in real-time. She watched as one image of a nobleman after another appeared around her, hovering above various areas of her carriage so she could talk to them all at once. Ironically, all the noblemen who appeared in the call opposed her and her peacetime views.

They all said pretty much the same thing.

That the Hero Nation had killed their sons. That they'd been delivered their heads with warnings to never bother the Hero's Nation again.

The heads of the various families wanted retaliation and revenge for their dead children. The cry to go to war amongst them was strong. It was what you'd expect, honestly.

And that predictability would be their downfall.

Mirellia was patient, as she waited to make sure that an image of each household head involved in the matter was present before she finally addressed their accusations and concerns.

What happened could best be described as Manipulation Tactics 101. Or, if you prefer, the reason why Mirellia was called 'The Vixen Of Melromarc' by various politicians from other nations.

"You want me to go to war with the Hero's Nation."

Unanimous yes.

"You want me to go to war with the people tasked with saving our world." Mirellia continued.

… a short pause, but another unanimous yes. In their eyes, these Heroes were not Heroes, because their sons had been killed by them in 'cold blood'.

"The Heroes who outlawed slavery in their nation. Who also killed your idiot sons because they thought they were above the laws of a foreign land, and paid the price for their actions."

There were some words of complaint and dissent, but Mirellia continued as she found her groove.

"The Heroes who, mind you, I barely managed to appease last time by giving them the late Lord Seaetto's lands after all the &^%$ the Three Heroes Church put them through, to ensure they remained close by to protect us from the Waves and wouldn't seek our lives in retribution for that colossal mishap.

"The Heroes who, I must remind you, managed to do what entire armies failed to do by bringing down the Spirit Tortoise and saving the lives of everyone in our world. Bringing Melromarc far more prestige and allies than what it had before.

"The Heroes who, again, to remind you, have fought front and center in waves at Lute, Cal Mira, and other places, keeping casualties of our soldiers to a minimum. Who took on the brunt of the Spirit Tortoise's rampage, saving all of our lives with their sacrifice. Who took the dead land of Seaetto under their control and breathed new life into it, and thus new life into the hope for our world.

"And you want me to throw that all away, and to throw away your lives and the lives of our people in the process, by declaring war on those very Heroes. Who, I must remind you, have killed the Spirit Tortoise and accomplished many other feats of strength besides that?!

… … …

Mirellia didn't know what she loved more. The looks of shock on their faces, or the looks of realization when they realized the weight of what they were asking her to do.

For the next thirty minutes, the Queen of Melromarc proceeded to verbally rip all the nobles on the call apart piece, by, piece. She berated them for caring so little about their own lives and the lives of their people, she blamed them individually for not stopping their sons from attempting their foolish attack on a place outside her jurisdiction, she reiterated how Seaetto was no longer a part of Melromarc, how she'd traded that land to the Heroes so their lives would be spared, how the Heroes had made it clear how they'd treat those who tried to enforce the enslavement of the people under them, and a whole lot more.

Had Naofumi been there to witness it, he would have been so proud of the matriarch.

"The stupidity of your request doesn't even account for how the other nations they've saved would react to our hostility, much less, THE GREAT HOLY BIRD FITORIA HERSELF WHO HAS OPENLY ALLIED HERSELF WITH THE HEROES OF OUR WORLD!"

It was vicious. Mirellia didn't let off the gas for even a moment to allow the household heads to get a word in. Manipulation, gaslighting, she was giving the idiots propping her and her husband up the full course meal of her ire. Venting out years upon years of frustration in dealing with their politics over one single call.

"Maybe I should offer the Heroes your heads as an apology?! That should possibly convince them to not raze our country outright for your sons' unprovoked attack on their people, right?!"

Some of the nobles pissed their pants and left the call at those words. The rest of them, who were brave enough to stay, or who were too stupid to try and leave the call, began pleading with the young ruler for their lives.

After taking a moment to finally listen to their cries and pleading, Mirellia nodded her head and 'relented'.

"Fine then. You should be grateful I'm even letting you keep your positions and lands since I'm personally on my way to the Hero's Nation right now to make sure that your idiot offsprings' actions don't result in our destruction!"

The unanimous apologies and thank yous she got after that were almost the highlight of the Queen's entire day.

And thus, from that point on, the position of power inside Melromarc was reversed entirely from the nobility keeping the King and Queen in power, to the Queen being the sole reason the nobility could continue to live peaceful and comfortable lives in the first place.

The entire thing was a sham. The Heroes weren't the kind of people to enjoy causing trouble and killing innocents. Mirellia had very good relations with them almost from the start since coming back from Faubley, thanks to how good and forgiving they were, and because of how she'd assisted them since coming back. She was going to Lurolona for a different reason entirely.

The nobility didn't need to know all this, however.

While a few still stuck to their shady dealings in the background, Mirellia never dealt with open opposition from those who hadn't been loyal to her before ever again. Ultimately making her job and future plans for her country that much easier for her to accomplish.

Balred and his allies didn't die for nothing. Their deaths resulted in the end of the nobility of Melromarc and its closest nations seeking to harm the Heroes and the people under them for many years to come.

Not to worry, even if his revenge was left unfulfilled, their actions helped in saving the world, alongside everyone else.

Author's Notes:

LMAO. I actually had to go back to that chapter in Hope to remember what I named the guy. Honestly thought I'd have him and his friends die in the wild to Gaelion's poisonous offspring. This felt far more fitting, like the Royal Knight Commander Bastard who I never bothered to name.

Thanks Jav for letting me use the last name of one of your OC nobles for Balred. Hope your writing continues to go well for Family and Flower.

See you all next week!

Till Next Time