I Became the Youngest Disciple of the Martial God
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
Without a doubt, the person I had been most afraid of in my previous life was my father, the Lord of Blood and Iron.
Of course, I had not held even a few conversations with the man. No, even the number of times I’d seen him could be counted on one hand.
Though I possessed the Bednicker family name and had lived off the wealth of the house, the influence of the Lord of Blood and Iron had still been an invisible crushing force that restricted me.
However, the fear I held toward the Lord of Blood and Iron was an uncertain thing—that fear had never been proven correct.
In contrast, the fear I felt at Arzan standing before me was very certain.
In my previous life, just seeing her face had been enough to make me tremble in fear, so I’d tried to evade her as much as possible.
Of course, there was more to my fear of her than just the violence I’d endured.
She’s still the same as I remember.
Her eyes were especially cold. When she’d been beating me up like a machine, she’d had the same emotionless expression she was wearing right now.
She hadn’t listened to my words, and since she’d just been swinging her fists at me even as I apologized, of course I’d been afraid of her when I was young.
Honestly, I’d been a little curious: what would I feel when I saw her again in this life?
The body and soul were intertwined, and fear engraved in one’s body was difficult to remove.
Unexpectedly, I now had the opportunity to resolve that curiosity.
“Hello,” I said.
As expected, I didn’t feel anything.
For the last ten years, I had been beaten up over a thousand times more, and by someone a hundred times scarier than Arzan.
At this moment, I also realized something that wasn’t particularly important right now: never again would I grovel at someone’s feet because of their violence.
“Yes, young master. It’s been a while.”
“What’s with the sudden visit?”
Arzan bowed at a right angle at her waist.
“I intended to take another week of self-reflection, but I overheard something from one of the servants that I couldn’t ignore.”
“You overheard something?”
“I heard that the Fang Knight Order has come here. And that they are going to take you to the main house.”
I still felt that something was off, though.
It was surprising to me that even though it happened only recently, Arzan had already heard about it.
And I don’t think she’d sneakily try to eavesdrop on other people...
It seemed that there were a few individuals within this mansion acting as Arzan’s eyes and ears.
Of course, it was possible that the servants went and told her without having been instructed to do so, but if she really did have people working under her, she might be a much slyer character than I’d previously thought.
“...Although it is good that the young master is going back to the main house, I heard that the process would take you through the mountain range.”
“That’s what the knights said.”
Hearing that, Arzan became quiet.
It seemed like she was holding back from letting out a sigh, but she also seemed like she was looking at a young master who didn’t know of the dangers of the world.
“Young master, do you know what kind of place the Gem Mountains are?”
“They’re the biggest mountain range in The Empire.”
“Do you know anything else?”
“The name is a bit odd? Maybe there’s a mine there.”
Although I had lived as a mercenary in my previous life, I didn’t know much about The Empire’s geography.
I hadn’t been active in this area.
Back then, just hearing the Bednicker name had been painful, so I’d tried to work in the other areas of The Empire that were furthest from that name.
“It’s one of the Four Forbidden Areas of The Empire,” said Arzan. “Do you perhaps know what a forbidden area is?”
Even I knew that, but I chose to remain quiet.
As expected, Arzan continued with her explanation.
“Even though the land is part of The Empire, all attempts to conquer it have failed.”
“Although The Empire has sent multiple subjugation squads to the area, none of them found success. In the end, they gave up on conquering the area and decided that it would be deemed forbidden to enter, so it became a forbidden area.”
I’d laughed thinking she was making a joke, but I was only met with awkward silence.
I stopped smiling and got back to the topic.
“I heard that the knights made their way here through the mountains, and they didn’t make it sound like it was that dangerous.”
“They only passed through the mountains once.” Arzan stretched out her thumb. “Statistically, the number one means nothing.”
...She wasn’t wrong. Listening to her talk, it seemed like the Gem Mountains really were much more dangerous than I’d initially expected.
However, there was one thing Arzan didn’t know.
“Still, I need to go.”
“Do you want to go back to the main house that badly?”
“That’s not the problem. This is an order from the family head.”
For the first time, Arzan’s calm expression turned to one of surprise.
“As a butler who worked in the main house, shouldn’t you know this better than me? This isn’t something I can refuse.”
“...I see. I understand.”
She accepted that rather quickly.
Perhaps I was the one who’d been unreasonable in our conversation, not Arzan.
As I thought that, Arzan looked at me and said something quite shocking.
“If that’s the case, I will go with you.”
* * * * *
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
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* * * * *
The next day.
Even before the sun rose over the horizon, the Fang Knight Order came to find me at the mansion again.
They looked at me standing in front of the mansion, then turned to look at Arzan standing next to me.
“And who is this?”
“Butler Arzan. She’s the pride of our mansion. Due to some circumstances, she’ll be traveling with us.”
Two of the five knights that had gathered here looked at Arzan in a daze. As part of their job, they should’ve seen quite a few young ladies of noble houses, but it seemed she was still a striking beauty to them.
However, Osel’s brow narrowed.
“We are not going somewhere an ordinary butler can join us...”
I instinctively raised my head, feeling that something was wrong. I slowly looked toward his face, but he didn’t shy away and looked straight at me.
As we exchanged stares, Arzan began to speak. “I can look out for my—”
But I cut her off.
“Are you telling me to cross the mountains without a single servant?” I frowned deeply as I said, “I don’t think I can do that. Of course, if one of you knights acts as my hands and feet for the entire trip, then I’ll think about it.”
I laughed like an idiot, and the expression on the knights’ faces hardened. A few of the knights even looked at Arzan with pitiful expressions.
“...Understood. However, if a situation does occur, do know that the only person we can protect is you, young master.”
“Don’t state the obvious. Between a regular butler and me, the son of the Lord of Blood and Iron, it is obvious who you should protect first.”
Arzan’s expression probably hardened as I said this, but rather than glance at her, I continued to slowly observe Osel’s face, as if to taunt him into saying what he was thinking.
However, just like before, he just raised the edges of his mouth a little.
“...Then shall we go?”
“The Gem Mountains are southeast of The Empire’s capital,” Arzan explained. “The average altitude is 3,000 meters, so they’re not the tallest in The Empire, but the dangers here are unrelated to their height.”
“The reason is the monsters that live in the mountain range. Young master, please wake up.”
I swallowed the spit that had pooled in my mouth.
“...I’m not sleeping.”
After looking at me for another second, Arzan continued her explanation, and I looked out the window as I pretended to listen to her.
It was still peaceful, though this was because we’d spent most of the day traveling.
On the day we’d set off, we visited the closest town to the mansion.
From there, we hired a carriage heading toward the Gem Mountains, and I spent the entire day sleeping.
Of course, Osel paid for our expenses.
When the day became brighter, we set off again... and if what Osel had said was correct, we would reach the mountain range by afternoon.
“It’s faster than I expected. Was the mountain range always this close to the mansion?” I asked.
Arzan answered, “It’s because the mountain range is quite big. From the capital, any southeastern route will lead to these mountains.”
“They say that every time someone tries to explore the Gem Mountains, new plants and animals are discovered. It’s the reason some scholars say that the mountains truly are a gem. Because of the conditions in the mountains, there is a very high chance that mutants appear. To start with, in the outskirts of the mountains...”
As she continued to speak, I felt my eyes growing heavier.
Before I started to fall asleep again, I took the initiative.
“You can stop the detailed explanations, so get to the point.”
Arzan’s expression clearly stated, Isn’t that what I’m doing?
So those hundreds of words she’d said so seriously had been the entire point?
“First of all, why is it called the Gem Mountains? Is there a mine there?”
I was pretty sure I’d asked a similar question when we first set off, but I hadn’t heard an answer back then.
Arzan just blinked at me.
It looked as if she hadn’t expected me to ask such a simple question.
Even so, befitting her aloof and calm nature, she schooled her expression.
“There are monsters within the mountains that you must not encounter.”
“Yes. They are especially dangerous organisms even among mutants. They are known by a few names, but the most common...” Arzan deepened her voice and said, “is ‘gem beasts’.”
“...Then should we be heading into a place crawling with such dangerous entities?”
“That is why I am going with you: to ensure your protection, young master,” Arzan said, her voice calm. “Of course, I’ve heard that the chance one encounters a gem beast in the mountain range is like getting hit by a bolt from the blue. From what Sir Osel has said, we won’t be going that deep into the mountain range, so the chance is even lower.”
“...A bolt from the blue,” I mumbled to myself as I looked out the window. “So it’s not that unlikely.”
As I said that, we crossed over a hill. In the distance, I was able to see the huge shadow of the mountain range.
Two days after leaving the mansion, we entered the Gem Mountains.
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