Chapter 254. <Independence(3) >
Time passed quickly.
The more races that joined the Fire River Council, the more colorful the flag that symbolized the Fire River Council became. The development took place at such a rapid pace that we spectators couldn’t help but exclaim from time to time.
“Wait, wait! Slow down for a second!”
The one who was most excited was my friend Anastasia, the Black Dragon Master.
“Another race has proposed a challenge to the Chairman of the Fire River Council!”
“What race is it this time?”
“The snail race! Judging from the way they’re dressed, they should be a miner. A snail miner challenged the Council Chairman to a duel!”
Raising her finger, the Black Dragon Master pointed toward the hologram.
“You have eyes, use them! Focus your gaze and take a closer look!”
Ah, it was true.
It was a snail with seven tentacles. It originally had eight, but it seemed to have lost one of them to the storms of life.
However, the loss of a tentacle didn’t seem to have a negative effect on her. The miner who lost a tentacle, like a soldier who wore their scar like a medal, sat with a very solemn expression.
On the ground was a red carpet. On both sides, goblins lined up. Each of the goblins was enormous, and they looked down on the small snail, exuding a frightening aura.
Tak, the snail spat.
The saliva of the snail was slimy. Just like the toy slime that I played with as a child.
That’s why it seemed like a declaration of war like [From now on, I will play with you like toys].
-First off, on behalf of the snail race, I pay my respects to you mold bastards!
The snail shouted.
-If it weren’t for you, we would have been destroyed, and those who managed to escape destruction would have become slaves and made to work until their shells cracked and their skin melted. Rimu. You are the reason we are able to mine and live moderately! I especially give thanks to the legendary Chairman Uburka!
Although the words were friendly, her expression was still rough.
-Thanks! However, now, it is enough. We now have enough to live by taking care of ourselves. It has already been hundreds of years, and there are no longer any bastards that want to kill us, so it is shameful and embarrassing to live under your protection!
The current Chairman of the Fire River Council chuckled.
-He who knows shame is deserving of respect. Because it means you mustered up courage. I know your shame. Now show me your courage.
-I am the strongest among the snail race!
Wriggle, wriggle, wriggle.
The snail raised her seven tentacles. The weapon she chose was neither a sword nor a spear. Rather than a fancy weapon, it was better to call it a tool.
Every tentacle was wrapped tightly around the handle of an ungainly miner’s pickaxe.
The goblin warriors burst out laughing. With the exception of the Chairman seated upon the giant rock, dozens of goblin warriors snickered at the same time.
-I heard that a representative of the snail village was coming, so I thought it would be some kind of prodigy!
-Dares to fight us with a pickaxe!
-If you’re a miner, go back to the pit and dig rocks like a miner! Dig up some salt! If you manage to encounter a silver or gold nugget in your life, take it and be satisfied! Ugo! How dare you come to the sacred field of honor with a pickaxe!
The snail didn’t respond.
She didn’t even look at them.
From beginning to end, she had only looked up at the Chairman of the Fire River Council.
The Chairman nodded.
-By my orders, those who were just laughing, duel that member of the snail race.
There was a stir among the goblin warriors.
-When we were still confined in the huge cave of the snail race, Rimepolis, we didn’t have weapons. Spear? Knife? Don’t make me laugh. All we had were water buckets and hammers. And with those very hammers, together with our dear friend White Lion, we destroyed the snail empire.
-The hammer became a weapon that destroyed an empire. It is the weapon of our ancestors, the weapon of our comrades, and our weapon. How is it different from a pickaxe? A warrior who cannot recognize the true nature of a weapon has no right to boast about their rank in the Fire River Council. Everyone who loses in the duel with the snail will give up their rank and go back to Guru!
The faces of the goblins turned blue.
But the Chairman of the Fire River Council, the one who rules over the fire and the river, did not rescind his orders.
Five goblins hesitantly entered the field of honor.
The expression of the snail didn’t change. She just shook her tentacles once, whoosh! The pickaxe spun sharply in a radius of three meters.
-You can attack one at a time or all at once, whichever you please.
The five goblins couldn’t even shrink back.
The real duel began after that.
The warriors who could have easily refrained from ridicule stepped forward. They were defeated.
The warriors who could have thrown away their prejudice against other races. They were also defeated.
A warrior, who regarded the aura that dwelled in all creation as beautiful and to whom the world burned like fire, came forward, thinking of [fire that burns forever]. He was defeated as well. However, five of the snail’s seven tentacles were cut off, and one tentacle was crushed, leaving only two tentacles on the side like the arms of a human.
-Huff... hu, ha, ugh... ha.
Covered in blood.
-Easier than... mining a cave, rime.
The snail’s shell was crushed like a car bumper after an accident. Blood and mucus flowed all over her body.
Looking down at the snail, the Chairman of the Fire Rivel Council, who sat on the seat that only the strongest warrior of an era could reach, laughed loudly.
-What is your name
Leaking mucus, the snail groaned.
-The last descendant of the Rekamurime Family, one of the seven lords of the now defunct Canyon City, and the successor of the spiral.
The Chairman of the goblin race bared his huge fangs.
-From now on, you, Seimslam, will be the second Vice-Chairman of the Fire River Council.
Time flew quickly.
In the history of the goblin race, a snail became the Vice Chairman. It was an unprecedented event. Even considering the historic past when the snail race ruled over the goblin race, it was the first time such an important position was entrusted to an enemy race.
Unconvinced, numerous goblin warriors challenged her to duels. And every time, the snail, Seimslam, Vice-Chairman of the Fire River Council, defeated the challenger. She never backed down from a duel
-A person who knows pride.
The goblin race chose to tear down the sediment of their long history.
-A strong person.
The goblins chose to bury the sadness of the past in the beauty of reality.
-That is enough.
And so, the snails were officially accepted into the Fire River Council.
At the very least, if they were strong enough to be ranked in the Council, they wouldn’t be ignored or mocked. The existence of the strong. This was the only commandment that was kept since the White Lion led them to Guru.
While everyone looked at the hologram together, Anastasia suddenly muttered. In the hologram, Seimslam, the snail race Vice-Chairman, was greeted politely by the warriors who were ranked lower than her.
“They are less advanced than we are, their society is cruder than ours... it’s not like they can accomplish many things like us, and they definitely don’t know as much as us.”
The Black Dragon Master opened her lips slightly.
“But they’re as strong as us, no, stronger than us.”
“Those kids are living with pride. The snails that swing their pickaxes in the salt mine, the mermaids that swim along the waterways, the elves that hold gold coins and occasionally step onto the fire play stage, and the oni who sends duelists instead of going to war... all of them. Are really strong.”
While feeling infinite pride in my heart.
“Those children are as strong as us... healthier* than us.”(*:Like... ‘physically fit/strong’)
Suddenly, a strange feeling welled up in the middle of my heart.
Something clear, but never muddy, spread bit by bit from the center of my heart.
Turning around slightly, I saw that the Crusader and Black Dragon Master had similar expressions.
I realized the identity of my emotions.
‘I guess I’m proud of this.’
I wasn’t sure if it was the pride parents felt for their children.
Or if it was just pride a human felt from seeing other humans around them.
Nevertheless, that fact made me feel good.
[The 37th Stage Begins.]
A snow covered field was displayed on the hologram.
The frozen north. The red dragon, who had been sleeping in the perennially frozen ground, woke up. The red dragon had woken up once, a long time ago, which caused a volcano to erupt.
All the Hunters gathered there knew where the volcano was, and how hot the lava it spewed was.
“...the volcanic eruption on the 31st floor was probably caused by that dragon.”
Anastasia frowned after reading the quest description.
Now, we could no longer interfere with the stage, but thanks to [The Lady Who Walks Through The Mirage]’s consideration, we were able to read the quest description for a moment.
“Mm. Looking at it, it should be as strong as a Constellation!”
Glancing at the hologram, the Heretic Questioner touched his chin.
“In this case, since Uburka is staying there, he can interfere...”
I shook my head.
“The Fire River Council will solve it on their own. Watch.”
The group, who had started out as a small council for the goblin race, was no longer the exclusive property of the goblin race. The mermaids, the elves, the snails, the vampires. Countless warriors gathered under the banner.
The goblins still occupied more than half the number of warriors. But, all of those who had gathered there had won their ranks through fair duels. There were no snails who complained that there were too many goblins, and no vampires who complained about the presence of the elves.
They were warriors.
-Are we all here?
The Chairman of the Fire River Council asked.
Thud, thud, thud, tens of thousands of warriors stomped the ground in unison.
The Chairman nodded slightly.
-We’re all here. Let’s go.
To the frozen north.
On the way north, they encountered an army. One horned giants. It was the oni race’s army.
It had been less than a century since the Venomous Snake had descended and fought a war with the oni race. There was still a strange feeling of rivalry and competition between the oni and goblins.
The two armies faced off across a tundra plain. From the goblin’s army, the Chairman of the Fire River Council, rode out on his own atop a lion, and from the oni army, the High Priest who worshiped the Snake God, stepped forward while striking their cane against the ground.
The Chairman of the goblin race asked.
-Are you going to fight?
The High Priest of the oni race replied.
-We’re going to fight. But we didn’t come to fight you guys.
-It is said that if it is left alone, a disaster of mythical proportions will occur. Every mountain will explode with lava, every river will burn red, and all the land will be barren such that no one can live.
-It’s a scene I want to see at least once. Ugor.
-I agree, but the younger ones have different thoughts.
The Chairman and High Priest chuckled.
-What did you Snake God say? Will he descend?
-Our god was worried, but...
The High Priest shook his head.
-He said he wouldn’t intervene.
Chun Mu-mun Master.
The Venomous Snake probably wanted to take the lead to protect his kids more than anyone else, but decided not to in the end. He decided not to intervene. He took a step back so that they could overcome this crisis on their own.
This was the choice of the Chun Mu-mun Master who was still in that world.
-The last time the red dragon spread its wings, the gods protected us. However, a lot of time has passed since then. God said that he believes in us. We are strong. And we will become even stronger.
-But still weaker than us. Ugor.
-Fucking moldy bastard.
The High Priest grumbled and the Chairman held out his right hand.
-Our dear friend, parents and friends are all watching us from the sky. Let’s show them how strong we’ve become.
-Krr. A joint fight.
Us Hunters watched the scene of the 37th floor without a word.
In the middle of a snowy field, the red dragon roared.
A blizzard rampaged in every direction, but it was not enough to hide the bright red skin of the red dragon. A huge amount of snow fell from the sky, but it was far too little to bury the red dragon’s fierce heat. The ground, which had been frozen for thousands of years, gave off a metallic shriek as it was torn apart every time the red dragon moved.
In the first fight, the High Priest of the oni race died.
He got caught in the fiery breath released by the dragon and disappeared like snowflakes on the snowy ground without even leaving his old cane behind.
In the second fight, the Chairman of the Fire River Council died.
Someone needed to buy time while the warriors completed the Infernal Heavens Formation. For one minute. No, for at least 30 seconds, the warriors needed to concentrate, exchange auras, share mental images, and bring that image to the real world.
In the end, the Chairman of the Fire River Council managed to last for 1 minute 23 seconds. His ax dented the skin of the red dragon, and his fist ruptured the red dragon’s left eye. Facing the mythical being that caused earthquakes and volcanic eruptions simply from its very existence, the lone warrior was bitten to death by his enemy’s teeth as he was in the midst of swinging his ax.
In the third fight, the red dragon’s head fell from its neck.
The red dragon’s skin was thick. Its flesh was thicker. And its bones were even thicker.
With one swing of the pickaxe, the skin was scratched, with two swings, the skin was dented, and with three swings, the skin was finally pierced. The flesh was cut in four swings, with five swings, the flesh was torn, and six swings scratched the bones.
Seven swings of the pickaxe cut through the bone.
With her only remaining tentacle wrapped around the pickaxe.
A lone snail stood on the neck of the red dragon.
-It’s easier, than digging a cave.
Then struck the final blow.
As the huge head of the red dragon, which was as large as a hill, fell endlessly, endlessly underground, it released the scream that remained in its mouth even after its head had fallen from its neck. The scream continued as it fell to the bottom of the glacial wall.
At some point, the sound of the scream gradually receded, replaced by the sound of water.
The red dragon’s head fell beneath the surface of the icy sea.
The snail on the cliff shook her head. Mucus splattered.
When she turned around, she saw that very few of those that had come to the north were missing. One, two, three. In total, seventy four warriors died.
Among them were the High Priest of the oni race and the Chairman of the goblin race.
The snail, who was the second strongest warrior on the continent yesterday and the strongest warrior on the continent today, smiled bitterly.
-Let’s go back home. Rime.
The 629th Chairman of the Fire River Council.
It was the first time in history that a snail had become the Chairman.
[The 37th Stage has been cleared!]
A success without the help of any Hunters.
That— was the first time a clear had been accomplished without the help of the so called ‘players’.
‘Mm? What is it Sir Sword Emperor?’
-Haven’t you forgotten a certain old man and the race he’s taking care of...?
Let’s correct it.
That— it was possible that this was the first time a clear had been accomplished without the help of the so called ‘players’.
‘That sentence doesn’t really feel right....’
Anyway, it didn’t matter.
“Ahhhhh!!!”, right beside me, the Black Dragon Master screamed and hopped in place while clapping excitedly. The work of the Chun Mu-mun Master and the Sword Saint would definitely be resolved well.
For now, I decided to just smile and bless the ones displayed in the hologram.
‘Congrats on your independence. Kids.’
I was more proud of our kids than anyone else.