Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 10: The Blind Evil King
What was the last thing that the young Neuschler saw?
It was the figure of a kind man, with red petals scattered on his chest, collapsing into a bed of blooming white flowers.
Forced to live in a shabby hut in the yard behind the royal castle, Neuschler grew up never knowing what warmth was. Even his father, the King, hated him for being filthy and repulsive. He was always alone.
Although he never had to worry about where to sleep or what to eat, everyone feared him and did not want to touch him. Everyone but the young man with the deep blue eyes, whom he met for the first time that day at the flowerbed in the backyard.
He picked up young Neuschler as if he were a treasure and kissed him on the cheek and forehead.
‘There’s nothing to worry about.’
‘I’ll protect you from now on.’
‘Let’s go back to my country together.’
That was the first act of unconditional love that Neuschler had ever received. It was the kind of love that parents who cared for their children would naturally offer. It was quite a common thing, but to children, it was like a ray of light.
Fearfully, he reached out his hand and clung to the warmth of the young man’s chest. The arms that embraced him were full of love as if he considered Neuschler as his own child.
But that happiness was snatched from Neuschler in the blink of an eye.
He did not remember what his father, who had looked like a demon as he pierced the young man’s chest with his sword, was shouting.
But the beauty of the young man’s eyes as they were losing their light, still gazing at Neuschler and smiling at him in an attempt not to frighten him, was the only thing that was still etched in his mind, even though he had now lost his eyesight.
The person who picked up Neuschler, who had both of his eyes torn out and was abandoned in the uninhabited wilderness, was Taiga, a child of the Mutani tribe. That tribe was regarded as barbarians in Lidsalessaloth at the time. The Mutani were a tribe with beastkin ancestry. Even today, though their blood has faded, they still boasted a high level of physical abilities. Taiga, the son of the chief, was only ten years old at the time. To convince the adults who opposed his decision to help the child cursed with the Demonic Eye, much less the child of the hated royal family, he announced that he would give up his position as the next chief if they would accept Neuschler.
In the Mutani tribe, the chief held the utmost respect and power within the clan. Taiga was the leading candidate for the next chief, both in terms of bloodline and ability, so the chief’s concubines, who had children of their own, were excited by his proposal. Taiga’s mother, the chief’s legal wife, Tabiya, a former respected female warrior, supported Taiga’s proposition, saying that it was her son’s own decision.
Thus, Neuschler became a member of the Mutani tribe and was raised by Tabiya as Taiga’s younger brother. Tabiya did not coddle Neuschler because of his blindness but strictly disciplined him so that he would not be dependent on others for everything, rather be able to do what he could on his own. Before long, the wounds from Neuschler’s torn eyes healed, and he was able to open his eyelids, even though sight would not return. When Taiga and Tabiya saw Neuschler’s eyes, they realized the crimes of King Aego.
After remonstrating with the outraged Taiga, Tabiya secretly went to visit Queen Clareth who was said to be “holed up” in a remote palace, but she was not there. Clareth had been imprisoned in a remote dungeon under the orders of King Aego II. She was already on the brink of death when she was rescued from the said dungeon by the Mutani. When Clareth was reunited with Neuschler, she burst into tears of joy and told him about his real father, Prince Luvent.
Clareth, who had been suffocating under the pressure of being forcibly married off to King Aego II, who was as old as her father, met the second prince of the Kingdom of Dardenia, Luvent, during a secret trip to the city. The King, Aego II, did not want his young and beautiful wife to be seen in public, so rarely took Clareth out. Thus, Prince Luvent met as a young man and woman, unaware that Clareth was the Queen, and they fell in love with each other. Eventually, the relationship between Lidsalessaloth and Dardenia began to grow unstable. When Luvent had to return home, he went and asked Clareth to become his wife and to return with him. It was only then that he discovered that she was the Queen.
It was a helpless love.
It was an unattainable desire.
Heartbroken, Prince Luvent left Lidsalessaloth, leaving Clareth behind. And in time, Clareth found herself pregnant. Ten months later, she gave birth to Neuschler, who had the distinctive features of the Dardenia’s royal family in both of his eyes.
When the King saw Neuschler’s eyes, he was furious to learn of his wife’s infidelity. However, the news of the Prince’s birth had already spread throughout the country. The King imprisoned Clareth in the dungeons but did not immediately kill Neuschler. Instead, he kept him as bait to lure Prince Luvent to his country.
And then, that tragedy happened.
Once she had finished recounting everything, Clareth grasped Neuschler’s hands and apologized for not being able to protect him when he was a newborn. Neuschler groped and caressed his birth mother’s face, tracing the outline with his fingers and kissing her forehead and cheek, just as his father had once done for him. Clareth smiled, and a few days later, she had passed peacefully on to heaven.
Even after the secret of Neuschler’s birth was revealed, the Mutanis’ attitude toward him did not change. The younger kids, who were close to his age, laughed and said that it was good that their little brother did not have the blood of that terrible King in his veins. The older adults patted him on the head and told him that even though the light had left his eyes, the light in his heart was still burning.
If I could just live peacefully as a member of the Muthani tribe, that would be enough.
However, Neuschler’s wishes were cruelly crushed by King Aego II, who heard rumours about Neuschler from somewhere.
One day, an army directly managed by the King of Lidsalessaloth raided the Mutani village. They accused the Mutani of murdering Queen Clareth and announced that they would eradicate the tribe without giving any reason or explanation.
The chief at the time was Taiga’s older brother, the son of the previous chief born of a concubine. He struck Neuschler on the neck with his hand when Neuschler begged him to present him to the King’s army, knocking him out and placing him in the arms of a dumbfounded Taiga. He then had the women, children, and young men of the tribe, including Taiga, flee the village.
The adults purposely stayed in the village to give them time to escape. No matter how physically gifted the clan was, they could not compete with the overwhelming difference in quantity between them and the armoured army. The adults who stayed behind were all massacred, and Taiga’s brother, the chief of the tribe, had his head displayed on the castle’s gate.
Neuschler, who had been carried away when he was unconscious by Taiga, wailed.
‘If I hadn’t been picked up by the clan, or better yet, if I had never been born, none of this would have happened.’
For the first time that day, Taiga struck Neuschler, who was weeping and screaming. He said, ‘Do you mean to mock those who loved you as a brother and the adults who cared for you as part of their families?’
Neuschler clung to Taiga and sobbed. He knew that his brother’s cheeks, which he had cupped in his palms, were also wet with tears.
I will not forget this sorrow, this indignation.
Neuschler and Taiga vowed to each other that they would make the Mutani people’s regret known. The two of them joined the survivors of the Mutani tribe, who had fled to various places, and were reunited with Tabiya, who had been leading the women and children. They became nomads but gradually rose to prominence. Originally, the reign of King Aego II was notorious for being oppressive. The Mutani, who had gained many allies both domestically and abroad, gathered under Taiga, the new chieftain, and Neuschler, who supported him, and revolted against the Kingdom of Lidsalessaloth.
At the end of the year-long struggle, King Aego II was finally cornered and captured by the rebels. When his father begged for his life, the silent Neuschler chopped off his head with a single swing of his sword, despite his blindness. Thus, the lineage of demonic eyes flowing directly from the Heine royal family was cut off.
At the heart of the Kingdom of Lidsalessaloth, in the royal castle built in the royal capital Nephimen, there was a royal room with a polished marble floor and high ceiling.
Sitting alone on the cold throne, waiting for the familiar sound of footsteps to approach, was the young King with both eyes scarred shut. The Blind Evil King, Neuschler Ladav Heine.
Ten years ago, Neuschler, who had taken the throne after overthrowing the then-King in a coup d’état, installed his sworn brother Taiga as his commander-in-chief. He then went around purging the country of influential nobles and merchants who had been under the thumb of King Aego II. The tragedy that unfolded with such apparent indifference earned Neuschler the nickname, “The Blind Evil King.”
“Nora, I’m back.”
“Welcome home, Taiga.”
A tall man opened the door to the King’s throne room, which also served as an audience chamber, and walked with large strides to the throne without hesitation. Taiga Uru, the Black Panther General. He was the one who brought Neuschler to the Mutani tribe and was also the current chief of the Mutani tribe. He was Neuschler’s sworn brother, whom Neuschler loved and trusted more than anyone else.
“How’s everything going?”
“I’ve already delivered the souvenirs as planned, but…”
Taiga’s words were unusually inarticulate.
Both Neuschler and Taiga were well aware of the giant serpent that had taken up residence in the neighbouring country of Hinoe. It was also reported that the Princess of Hinoe had bypassed Lidsalessaloth and had gone to the Kingdom of Palcemith to ask for help from the Knight Commander Jolga, which had been approved by the King.
Over the past few years, Lidsalessaloth had repeatedly approached Hinoe about cooperating in defeating the giant snake. Of course, it was for ulterior motives such as food circulation, but that was not the only reason. That was why the action Hinoe took, disregarding the intentions of Lidsalessaloth, could have caused unnecessary tension in the originally bad relationship between the two countries.
As they continued to monitor the situation, the Hinoen Princess who was accompanying the Knight Commander Jolga of Palcemith surprisingly chose to cross Lidsalessaloth on their way back.
It made one wonder if the Knight Commander was too confident in his skills, if there was some kind of plan stirring behind the scenes, or if it was just sheer bravery.
The first thing Neuschler did was deliver a souvenir to the Palcemith Kingdom’s party, accompanying the Princess of Hinoe and her entourage.
The coup d’état that broke out in the Kingdom of Palcemith, just before the current King ascended to the throne, was said to have been successfully prevented thanks to the Knight Commander and his other loyal subjects’ abilities. However, it seemed that many of the coup’s collaborators were hiding in the surrounding nations. Neuschler gathered information, found the collaborators that were hiding in Lidsalessaloth, and had their heads chopped off and stuffed into pails. He then delivered them to the inn where the Palcemith Kingdom’s party was staying.
It was a blatant check and a powerful reconnaissance. The general, Taiga, took on the dangerous role of delivering the pails. Knowing from experience that it was useless to stop him, Neuschler let out a sigh and sent Taiga off to the town near the border, telling him that he would not forgive him if he did not come back.
Two days later…
According to the report from the scouts, Taiga delivered the pails to the group who had taken lodging in a town about a day’s wagon ride across the border from Cemthoah.
“Was there a problem? What sort of person was the Knight Commander?”
“Speaking of problems, there was one… it’s the Knight Commander. He is far beyond what rumours say. He is a heaven-sent god of war. With one look, I knew I wouldn’t be able to win. Even if I were berserk, if I could manage to draw against him, I’d be happy.”
“…Is he really so strong as to make you boast that much?”
Neuschler’s unseeing eyes opened, and he growled low.
“But, Nora. The real threat isn’t the Knight Commander.”
“…What do you mean by that?”
“The Knight Commander’s party is accompanying the Princess of Hinoe. One who is travelling with them is… that man.”
Taiga could recall it so vividly in his mind.
A beautiful young man peered into the pail that was handed to him, a faint smile on the corner of his lips.
Politely thanking Taiga, he said, ‘That’s very good.’ His boastful lips were red as he lowered his head and smiled sweetly. A chill ran down Taiga’s spine at the light words they exchanged while standing there.
“It was terrifying how he could see right through me. Our relationship, the real truth, which differed from the stories circulating in Lidsalessaloth… Even that we were friends with Susanoi.”
As expected, even Neuschler was shocked.
That was supposed to be a secret known only to Neuschler and Taiga. Neither their retainers nor even their mother, Tabiya, knew about it. For years, they had nurtured a solid friendship with Susanoi, who was expected to be the next Lord of Hinoe.
“As it happens, he has requested an audience with you… I couldn’t refuse, as the Princess of Hinoe was accompanying him. You’ll be receiving a visit in a few hours. In the meantime, I’m hurrying to prepare for their arrival.”
“Taiga… tell me. Who the hell is that person?”
At Neuschler’s question, Taiga exhaled softly.
“Anderheim Yucht Asbal. He is the former Prime Minister of the Palcemith Kingdom and is regarded as the last Sage. He is the biological father of the Silvermoon Maiden, who is favoured by the ancient dragon.”
The Mutani tribe’s berserk form is a way of fighting by literally turning oneself into a berserk warrior.
During it, one gains overwhelming strength but loses their rationality, making it impossible for them to distinguish between friend and foe.