Savior of the Nation
The liberation of Kalinsha had been surprisingly simple.
The combination of the Zerns rising up in revolt, the sheer lack of demihuman manpower compared to the size of the city and the absence of the henchman demon to command them, meant that it was a foregone conclusion. Of course, there were many casualties on both sides, but the losses to the Holy Kingdom Liberation Army were surprisingly light considering they had managed to retake such a large city.
One of the main reasons for that was Neia, who carried the Ultimate Shootingstar Super on her back.
Of course, CZ had assisted from the shadows, but Neia and her spectacular bow had been a majestic sight which had greatly inspired the people.
And so, Neia stood atop a platform and passionately addressed the audience gathered in the plaza.
She told them: there was no greater king in this world than the Sorcerer King.
The first thing Neia did after liberating Kalinsha was to request support in order to go searching for the Sorcerer King.
The Zern did their part and questioned the demihuman captives about the Abelion Hills, but she was still severely lacking in material resources, information, experience, and the like.
It would be one thing if they could try as often as they liked, but it was difficult to repeatedly send out search parties and rescue teams into enemy territory. In other words, they had to get it right the first time. That being the case, no amount of preparations would be enough. That was why she had decided to capitalize on the fact that many people had been freed through the liberation of Kalinsha and seek their aid in various areas.
However, the people did not volunteer their help immediately after it was requested. Even after taking back Kalinsha, there were still many other cities that had been captured, as well as many people who had been imprisoned or who had lost track of their relatives. Neia was trying to sell them on the benefits of aiding the Sorcerer King in order to move their hearts.
However, as the number of helpers increased, the contents of her speeches gradually began to change.
The people who had come to hear Neia speak about the Sorcerer King were all people that the Sorcerer King had once rescued. They were people who had tasted the purest of pain and who now wanted to cling to a powerful being in order to heal the lingering emotional trauma in their souls.
Those who knew of the Sorcerer King’s greatness could be considered her comrades.
It was second nature for Neia to joyously tell them about the Sorcerer King’s magnificence.
Gradually, people who did not know the Sorcerer King began to take part as well. These were the friends of those who had been rescued by the Sorcerer King. As the word spread, more and more unrelated people came to listen to Neia’s words.
With her visor on, Neia gushed to these people about the excellence of the Sorcerer King during the liberation of the city and the battle with Jaldabaoth.
She would not have been able to speak so unreservedly several weeks ago. She would have tensed up under the eyes of the audience and she would have been at a loss for words as her mind blanked out. But after addressing crowds over and over again, she finally came to realize that she did not need to express her own thoughts, only paint a picture of the Sorcerer King’s glory for the audience with her words. Neia had become an eloquent speaker.
Yes, they now spoke of her as the Faceless Preacher.
“Thus, His majesty is truly beyond compare! How could there be another king who cares so much for the people! Yes, I know what you want to say. After all, Her Majesty Calca Bessarez is also an excellent queen, however -- has anyone here heard of a king who would go this far for the people of another nation! You!”
Neia pointed at one of the members of the audience in front of her.
“Have you ever heard of a king who went out by himself to save another nation’s people from torment?”
“Eh, ah, no, that, I’ve never heard… anything like that… before…”
As everyone’s eyes focused on him, the voice of the man who had been called out gradually trailed off.
“Excellent answer! That’s exactly it!”
The rows of people beside Neia on the stage joined the people in the audience who shared Neia’s views, to applaud the man as Neia praised him.
The man blushed and looked a little shy.
“In truth, we checked to see if any other king had done that much, but noooo! No matter how hard we looked, we could not find any king like the Sorcerer King!”
There had been kings who had led armies to rescue neighboring countries, but it was a fact that there had been no kings who had gone alone.
“Think of it, a king going to aid the people of another country regardless of the risk to himself! It’s never been done before! Only the Sorcerer King!” Neia paused, then continued. “Only His Majesty! Only a king like that truly deserves to be called a righteous king!”
“But can we trust him!? Isn’t he undead!?”
Neia responded to the question from the audience with a gentle smile. At first, Neia had thought the same thing herself. In other words, he was like herself from the past. He simply did not know; he did not understand.
She would make him see -- no, she would open his eyes, just like she had opened her eyes, and those of everyone else’s. With that feeling in her heart, Neia addressed the crowd.
“Yes! His Majesty is undead! It is only normal that you should all feel uneasy! It is a fact that the undead are frightening monsters. I have no intention of saying that all undead are good. Many undead are evil, and there is no doubt that they hate the living!”
Now that everyone was listening to her in earnest, Neia seized on the mood in the air and forcefully declared her summation.
“However! There are exceptions to all things! Just as there might be a warm day in winter, just as a bud might bloom from a withered branch, just as a brilliant shooting star can streak across the darkest night. So too is His Majesty -- an undead being who aids the living. You must have heard the stories from the people he rescued. It is also possible that some of you were rescued by him. Then based on what you know to be true, you have the proof that I am not lying!”
After verifying that there were no objections from the crowd, Neia spoke in leaden, grim tones.
“...This time round, that sturdy fortress line was broken, and the demihumans rushed in like an avalanche. Will such a tragedy only happen once? Does anyone believe it will not happen a second time?”
The silence of the audience spoke for them.
Of course they hoped that it would not happen again, but nobody could believe it.
“I fully understand how uneasy you are. Perhaps the generation of our -- everyone’s children might be able to rest at ease. After all, the tragedy that just occurred will spur us on to unflagging vigilance… however!”
Neia’s tone grew forceful.
“Can anyone guarantee that such a tragedy will not repeat itself in the generation of our grandchildren, or our grandchildren’s grandchildren? Does anyone dare say it happened once, so it will never happen again!? That is why we must prepare, so the fortress will never be breached again!”
Voices saying “Yes” and “That’s right” began to float up from the crowd.
“--It seems everyone agrees too, but in the far-off future, in an age when this tragedy is but a distant memory, can the people then still maintain their strength? Do you think we can station twice or three times as many forces on the fortress line?”
The military budget would drain the national reserves, and they would deploy an intimidating amount of fighting strength but have no obvious results to show for it.
“I trust there are people who served in the fortresses during your conscription. Then please recall the daily expenses and stores consumed back then; if they were tripled, do you not think it would greatly strain the nation? At that time, do you think a country that only knows of that tragedy from memory will continue their efforts?”
As understanding dawned on the faces of her audience, Neia delivered her conclusion.
“--That is why we need the protection of His Majesty!”
“Why! Why must we seek the help of the undead!”
The same voice from before rang out.
It was the man who had questioned her earlier. People like him put Neia at ease. Her toughest crowds were the ones where nobody reacted at all. When that happened, she felt uneasy about whether her words had reached them at all.
Neia’s supporters had suggested planting a few naysayers like that in the audience beforehand, but Neia refused. Similarly, she had rejected the idea of planting shills in the audience.
“I am saying this precisely because he is undead. His Majesty is powerful, but more importantly, he is undead, and so in that far distant future, he will still be alive -- still exist.”
“But, but I heard that the Sorcerer King fell in battle and died.”
“That rumor is both true and false at the same time. Sadly, the first part is true. His Majesty expended a great deal of mana and cast many spells in order to save we who were powerless, and in the end he was defeated by Jaldabaoth. But the second part is false. His Majesty is not dead! The existence of CZ will prove that to everyone.”
This was the cue for CZ -- one of the key figures in the liberation of Kalinsha -- to enter from the side.
The audience gasped in awe, and worshipful murmurs of “CZ-sama” could be heard.
CZ held her head high and puffed her chest out.
“Once, she was one of the maid demons in Jaldabaoth’s service, yet she fought alongside us in the Battle of Kalinsha. That is because His Majesty wrested command over her from Jaldabaoth’s hands.”
Many people had seen CZ slay demihumans without pause during the battle. The people who addressed her as -sama had probably been directly aided by her.
CZ was very popular. Even if she had once been a maid demon of Jaldabaoth, she was still very pretty, and more importantly, she felt youthful. One could say it was difficult to bear hostility against her.
Had the Sorcerer King considered this when he bound you to his service, Neia had once asked CZ. CZ had replied, “Maybe.”
“CZ was bound by the magic of His Majesty, and that remains in effect as long as the Sorcerer King still lives. In other words, she is the proof that His Majesty still lives.”
As the air turned electric, Neia raised her arms to indicate that everyone should be quiet, because she was not done speaking.
“I am sure you are all wondering why His Majesty has not yet shown himself. In truth I do not know either. However, I cannot imagine that such a compassionate lord would abandon us! There must be some reason why he cannot return here immediately. I do not know if that is because of His Majesty’s considerations, or if some danger has arisen. And that is why!”
Neia’s voice reverberated through the silent plaza.
“That is why I beseech all of you for your strength! Please lend me the strength to find His Majesty. Even if we bet our lives to walk the length and breadth of the Abelion Hills where the demihumans live before finding His Majesty, the Holy Kingdom still cannot fully repay the debt we owe Him. And I have said this before, but His Majesty came only to fight Jaldabaoth, yet he ended up fighting the demihumans on behalf of our weak selves, thus wearing down his strength and leading to his defeat!”
Neia raised her voice even louder as she shouted.
“And that is why -- everyone! That is why we ought to repay the debt we owe to the person who came to save us! That great man came by himself to save us! Even if he is one of the undead, I do not intend to be an ingrate! --And so, I call upon the people who seek to repay the debt to His Majesty in some small way.”
Neia stopped for a while to let the anticipation build before shouting again.
“I am looking for people to help me find His Majesty! But you do not need to go in person! Your skills, your knowledge, anything you can contribute will be useful. Please lend me your strength! Please help me!”
Neia bowed her head, and beside her, so did CZ.
Ohhhh, the crowd roared.
After raising her head, Neia finished thusly:
“...I am certain there are some of you out there who cannot believe based on my words alone. However, how about asking the people from the Liberation Army before Kalinsha was taken back? That way, I am certain you will believe that I am not lying.”