Chapter 16: Vidfamne

It had been 13 months since Shelley Lancaster met with Count Margarita Prigent in highland.

Everwood and Jarodor had each lost half of their territories to the demonic forces.

Lady Rania Euphemia, Princess Siraye, and Princess Louise were currently in Everwood. Having split away from the hero 8 months ago, they headed to their home countries to rally volunteers among the local population to join the hero's army.

The Hero had traveled east from the holy kingdom towards the two empires. He as well; was raising an army. As it stood, the number of volunteers and mercenaries that had joined up across the continent resulted in an army so large it dwarfed the previous allied forced by more the ten times.

As it stood, the army would be the largest the world had ever seen. No coin was spared to arm and train it for a full-out attack on the demonic army.

Many in Jarodor and Everwood held their breaths in anticipation of the army coming to their aide. Half of their territories were stolen, and a once allied kingdom of Highland was now no longer an ally.

They were trapped between the demons and a potential enemy. Should the worst come, they will be wiped out?

None was more concerned about this potential than Duchess Rania Teresa Alumet Vidfamne. If Everwood fell, the next target for demons would be her duchy.

She sighed at the reports that came, telling of another elven city falling to the demons.

As it stood, the best possible evacuation for the citizens of Vidfamne would be through Highland. If they went north from Highland, they would come to the gloom forest, which connected the Holy kingdom and the two empires.

However, for the past 13 months, the duchess had been unable to get in contact with the king of highland. All attempts to reach him have been to no avail.

Even the prime minister has been impossible to get in contact with. She was not used to being treated like this, especially by highland.

Normally, the royal family of highland would be the one seeking an audience with her, but the situation has reversed.

[What are they thinking] she thought to herself.

“Your tea duchess,”

“Thank you, Shelley," she said before sipping the tea. “Still no word from Highland?”

Shelley shook her head, “Every time we send an envoy, they get turned back at the border. It would seem my first entry was just a means to use Vidfamne to quell the fears of Everwood and Jarodor about a possible Highland attack.”

“I agree, but does that mean they no longer value Vidfamne? Or was my suggestion of him taking some of my granddaughter’s as concubines seen as a high insult?”

“hmm…it is had to tell.”

“Indeed, I don’t like where this is heading. The demons are getting closer to us, and Highland is the only reasonable escape route.”

“Yes. As merfolks, we could swim, but that would mean abounding our property and facing off against the Lamias. They are stronger and faster than us underwater. The damage we would take is unimaginable.”

Duchess Rania Teresa Alumet Vidfamne sighed at Shelley’s words.

The lamia was one of the four races that lived on one of the four island kingdoms west of the continent.

Lamias had a human upper half body and snake-like bodies below. They could swiftly move underwater, and with their long tails, they could catch and crash merfolk with ease.

Laminas like ghouls, harpies, and medusas were once habitats on the main content, but about 5200 years ago, they had a falling out with the largest member of the continent – humans.

Laminas, ghouls, harpies, and medusas were demi-kin with one difference. They could not have a child with humans. It was not long before corrupt nobles and merchants who wanted gold, land, and other resources started spreading rumors that they weren’t demis but monsters and should be hunted as such.

Any human with half a brain could tell that these were nothing but lies, but what is a lie compared to a gold coin.

It wasn’t long before tales of harpies and Laminas attacking human villages and travelers were heard. With pressure from high nobility and against its better judgment, the adventure guild was forced into accepting subjugation requests of the demis.

It tried all it could to prevent such a thing from happening, but when, the then holy pope did not offer his aid and mounting pressure from adventures who felt their livelihood being threatened by mercenaries who had no issue accepting such quests, the adventure guild finally buckled under the pressure.

Hunted like monsters, the demi-humans turned to the goddesses for aid, and the goddesses responded by creating 4 large islands to the east of the continents. There, they sent the four demi-kin to live.

The four demi-kin felt betrayed by the goddesses.

[Why must we be treated like monsters!?]

[Why must humans take our land? We did nothing to them.]

[I will never forgive them!?]

[Goddesses, we reject you!]

Such thoughts echoed among the demis as they looked across the waters to the continent they once called home.

One particular demi didn’t mind being on an island away from humans. She never liked humans, to begin with.

She was the queen of the Laminas.

Proud and powerful, she couldn’t even count the number of adventures she had sent to an early grave.

She showed no mercy and had no affection for anyone. Anyone that is, except for one.

A beautiful woman who was now known as one of the heavy beauties. She sparkles as she swam in the water. Her singing made the waves seem calm even if they weren’t.

She was her best friend even though she was of the merfolk, but that didn’t matter. The Laminas and merfolks were close allies. Even though they couldn’t have children with each other, there were many couples between the two.

Their relationship was so close that humans even began to think they were the same species.

You can imagine how the Laminas felt when their close allies refuse to go with them to the island.

Not a single merfolk decided to leave the continent. Not a single one.

The Laminas were furious to the point of insanity. They cursed the merfolks and vowed vengeance on them.

This was how the merfolk Laminas war began. Under the direction of the goddesses, invasion of the four lands and vice-versa was forbidden, however, countless battles happened at sea.

The Laminas would stalk the waters of Vidfamne. It became so bad that the merfolk now feared to enter the waters.

The duchess fearing this used everything in her power to form an alliance that would defend Vidfamne from the threat of the Laminas or any other that would do her people harm.

She created an alliance of kingdoms and dukedoms that swore to protect Vidfamne from harm. And all it cost was marriage, the universally acknowledged price between nations.

Gold easily comes and goes, but blood ties last forever.

“Duchess, is something the matter?” Shelley asked out of concern. She rarely saw the duchess drift into deep thoughts.

“No, no. I was just remembering something from a long time ago.”

“Is it about the past marriage arrangements with Highland?”

“No. This was a different matter altogether.”

“I see.”

The duchess put on a wry smile before continuing, “How long before Euphemia and her two friends arrive?”

“Lady Euphemia, Princess Louise, and Princess Siraye should be arriving within 2 days.”

“Is that so? While the hero goes to the empires to raise an army after the alliance forces were destroyed, those three went to Jarodor then Everwood to lay the groundwork for a massive push back against the demons. I’m sure the nobles of both kingdoms were happy for their arrival.”

“Yes. It confirmed that the two empires and the hero had not forgotten about them. The only complaint they must have is that the army is not already marching to their aid.”

“Yes. I am sure they can’t comprehend just how much money it takes to support a force that exceeded the alliances' previous force by more than ten. However, I too must voice my displeasure. If Everwood were to fall, we will fall with it. The only thing between us and those demons is Everwood. Jarodor is too far to rely on their aid, and I seriously doubt they would offer it despite being part of the alliance.”

She was right.

Jarodor had a lot of bedrocks underneath its soil, which meant that those large demonic worms that moved underground with a large demonic army within them were mostly never seen there.

It would seem they had difficulty traveling through such soil.

On the other hand, Everwood had no such protection, but the elves never had a real city, to begin with. They constantly were on the move within the forest, and their capital with the world tree in its center constantly moved in the forest.

It’s well-known that a fool traveling in the forest without the company of an elf was likely to get lost and die there. Even human scouts found it hard to navigate the forest kingdom.

All these factors meant that both Everwood and Jarodor were doing a fine job holding the demons back despite having half of their territories destroyed or conquered by the demons.

However, it was only a matter of time before they fell. If the hero, and the new armed forces did not arrive soon to aid them, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that they will fall.

“This new army must march as soon as possible. Unfortunately, with the fall of the east, my influence has greatly reduced. I have limited pieces to move. I can't afford to annoy the merchants or the nobility of the empires, not when we may need to abandon Vidfamne.” She bitterly uttered those words

“Please calm down, my lady. I am sure everything will turn out alright.” no sooner had she spoken those words than a thunderous sound was heard.

Shelley and Duchess Rania Teresa Alumet Vidfamne looked outside her window. It was like the world was making fun of Shelleys' words.

What stood at a distance from the capital of Vidfamne was a large demonic worm.