Home Post 518-chapter-84


After Enya disappeared from the food storage, Piache used every possible means to find the woman. The people of the Nervana Forest joined forces to thoroughly search everywhere. This included a few warriors like Rigata, who had been left behind by Tarhan.

They did their best to search for Enya.

“In the midst of this, Gernan’s army attacked. Suddenly, they declared they would conquer Aquilea, abandoning you. We were the only ones who resisted. My pharmacy people, the Nervana Forest forces, and the Rigata group you left behind. But we were outnumbered.”

The group left in Aquilea, already frantic in searching for the missing Enya, struggled to face the suddenly invading armed forces.

The group was divided, and some of them vanished without a trace.

“During that chaos, even Ihita the child was caught… The fate of some from the Nervana Forest, even Rigata, became unknown. Gernan’s army indiscriminately attacked everyone they thought was part of your forces. Honestly, we were just scrambling to escape with the patients.”

Her eyes, recalling those days, began to moisten with tears.

“And then… in that cave we finally discovered…”

What the remaining people finally found was nothing but a deserted leper’s den that was unknown even to them on Aquilea land. Amidst the horrific scene of rotting flesh strewn about, Piache collapsed in despair at the last traces of Enya.

Piache wiped away her tears and began to speak.

“After they completely abandoned us and left, I heard about what happened to the expeditionary force in the Argon Desert. Avisak’s Perugia army and some of Gernan’s Aquilea forces had rebelled against the Allied Forces’s leadership.”

The old woman’s pale eyes hesitated momentarily as she looked up at Tarhan.

“I, I… honestly didn’t think you were still alive.”

Piache, looking up at the man before her with disbelief, spoke again.

“When I heard that Gernan had become the new leader of the Allied Forces, I really thought… you were dead.”

The former leader of the Allied Forces, who was said to have vanished in that chaos before the war, was now before her eyes.

Looking utterly weary and bewildered, yet at the same time, there seemed to be an unbreakable strength in him. How many days and nights had he crossed the plains alone? Dried blood and scars surrounded the stubble on his angular jaw.

The former leader of the Allied Forces who had disappeared with just a sword…

Piache opened her trembling mouth and looked at the man, who returned like a ghost and began to speak shakily.

“…Didn’t you see earlier? This place has been completely ravaged. It was already chaotic due to the plague, but after Servia and some leaders like the Elder Haraibo suddenly followed Gernan’s army and caused havoc, then vanished…”

Aquilea had turned into utter chaos.

The forces of the other sixteen tribes that remained had already followed Gernan and become subordinate to the Allied Forces.

What was left were the sick, women and children unable to fight, and a few Nervana Forest people, along with a handful of Aquileans who decided to stay on the plains. These remaining people were left in the desolate plains, unable to find direction, like birds without a mother.

Piache watched anxiously with intense eyes as the man stared at his son’s grave, buried years ago. She was scared

She had no idea how the man, who had lost everything again, would react.

Piache couldn’t even begin to guess. She had no way to console him, nor could she think of any way to persuade him. The old woman reached out with trembling arms and grabbed the man standing like a mountain by his legs and collapsed.

“…The gods of Aquilea watch over a great warrior like you, Tarhan.”

Her aged body knelt down before Tarhan, tears finally falling down her wrinkled cheeks. Piache pleaded with Tarhan, like a mother begging her last remaining son.

“Your life is even admired by the gods. So please, don’t even think harshly and leave this old woman behind.”

The harsh life of a foreign woman who survived in Aquilea’s land with medicine learned from her homeland in the barren fields was evident in her trembling voice.

Tarhan’s resolute mouth didn’t soften. His focused gaze was on the doll placed at his child’s grave.

“…She’s alive.”

Piache, who had been weeping, clinging to his legs, hastily looked up as he suddenly blurted out.

“What, what do you mean…?”

The man’s arm, stained with blood that was unidentifiable, whether it was from a beast or a human, moved. He slowly reached for the sword hilt at his waist.

His voice was numb and chillingly low.

“That woman, she’s not dead.”

Piache remained frozen as Tarhan raised the drawn sword aloft.

Had the man finally lost his mind?

The next moment, Tarhan’s body began to slowly aim the sword at himself. In that frenzied motion, Piache, letting out an animal-like groan, clung to the man’s legs again and tightly closed her eyes. The old woman cried out in a quivering voice.

“You can’t, Tarhan…! If you do this, I really…”

Suddenly, Piache, who had been crouching and clinging to the man’s legs, rolled backwards as his body moved violently.

Ga, gasp…!

Breathing heavily like an exhausted mule, she stared straight at the scene before her.

The sword that Tarhan had forcefully driven into the ground was bent in two, yet the man did not stop. He once again put immense force into the sword, a companion of his life as an Aquilean warrior, driving it into the stone ground.


With a resounding sound that struck her ears, the sword shattered into two pieces. One half of the completely obliterated blade lay at the gasping man’s feet.

Piache couldn’t believe her eyes.

“I guess you forgot. I am not an Aquilean.”

The man, who had broken the iron weapon with his bare hands, spoke in an unbelievably calm voice. Piache scrambled backward on all fours, still sitting on the ground.

The sword, which had accompanied him since his youth and through his years as a young man, was now completely destroyed and lay scattered on the stone floor. The man picked up the pieces of what was once his sword.

He walked towards the grave he had been watching and, one by one, planted the remnants of the broken sword in front of his son’s grave.

Piache finally realized what the man had done.

…Breaking a warrior’s sword upon a warrior’s death, ‘killing’ it and burying it with him. Next to the buried sword pieces, a doll made of straw and hair lay fallen.

“There’s no way God would watch over someone like me.”

The desolate wind blew. Grass fluttered aimlessly around the grave.


* * *


That day, Piache returned to the collapsing makeshift barracks, carried on Tarhan’s back. The man’s stern eyes took in the ruined pharmacy and the huts that had turned into a wasteland.

As news of his return spread, people gathered at Piache’s pharmacy.

In the narrow room that could barely fit a couple of beds, familiar faces expressed various emotions. Some showed composed surprise, others intense sorrow, and some displayed fierce anger, all directed at the leader who had returned from the dead.

“We must check on Rigata’s whereabouts first, Tarhan. We need to take revenge on those scoundrels!”

His followers, severely injured and bandaged, raised their voices, each one louder than the last.

“Now that Tarhan is back, there is nothing to fear. We will give our lives!”

They asserted, ready to draw their swords at any moment, revealing their ferocious intent.

In their corner, Suya, Rigata’s sister, held her two children, anxiously looking around. Surrounding her were the women of the Nervana Forest who were incapable of fighting. The remaining Nervana Forest warriors encircled them protectively.

The women were visibly uncomfortable. One child tried to approach Suya’s child but was held back by a Nervana woman.

Seeing this, Suya bowed her head.

“Are we just going to look for Rigata? Many from our Nervana Forest are also missing, their whereabouts unknown.”

A man who introduced himself as Inaken of the Lehjin tribe, part of the Nervana Forest men, spoke with arms crossed.

“Gernan’s Allied Forces has headed back to the Argon Desert. They seem firmly convinced they can confront the desert powers and the ‘hole vipers’ on their own.”

Inaken sneered, adding bitterly,

“It’s clear what sort of trouble that ragtag group is facing right now. We’ll strike them from behind.”

“But we are too few in number for that.”

The one who spoke up quietly from behind was Lehjin himself, one of the leaders of the Nervana Forest. The old man with thick white eyebrows and leaning on a staff asserted with a trembling voice,

“We can’t risk any more dangers.”

“But Yaru, Nihtan, and even Fiarca have disappeared too. Those three were among Nervana’s most crucial forces. They wouldn’t have been easily overpowered.”

Kiyan interrupted Lehjin’s words.

“They must be alive somewhere. We need to find them first.”

Kiyan’s voice was as brittle as thin ice.

A young girl lay asleep on her lap, exhausted — Yasmin, the daughter of Yaru and Nihtan.

The next moment, a furious voice sounded. Reyhald, who had been listening to their conversation from the start, suddenly stood up and shouted, “Wait, Kiyan. Are you saying if they’re not a fighting force, they’re not worth looking for? Hey, old lady from the pharmacy. Say something.”

He pointed agitatedly towards Tarhan.

“You’re close with the chieftain of the Aquilea… well, not anymore. Anime, this man. Stop being as silent as a clam! The one missing now is Ihita. Your assistant, old lady!”

“Hey, Reyhald.”

Zechariah, a younger man of the same Lehjin tribe, stepped in to stop Reyhald.

“You’re too agitated. Calm down. Leroi, try to calm your brother.”

Cugnac, Lehjin’s son and was the current leader of the Nervana Forest men in Nihtan’s absence, also chimed in.

“Yeah, Reyhald. Everyone knows you’ve grown close to that young Aquilean girl. But right now, finding members who can contribute to our strength is more urgent.”

“That’s right. Confirming the whereabouts and if Fiarca, Yaru, and Nihtan are alive is our top priority.”

Then Leroi, Reyhald’s twin, who had been silent, spoke up.

“Of course, the most important thing is Enya’s whereabouts.”

His gaze was fixed on the former leader of Aquilea, who had returned.

“As you can see, this is our situation. The decision is yours to make.”

All eyes in the room turned to the former leader of Aquilea.

Piache, who had been silent until then, also looked at Tarhan. The man had been silent from the beginning. Finally, he, who had not met anyone’s gaze until that moment, spoke up.

“…Only hair was found.”

As his gaze was lifted towards Kiyan, Kiyan nodded silently in response.

“That’s right. Clumps of it, covered in blood.”

Her touch on Yasmin’s forehead was gentle, but her eagle-like gaze towards Tarhan was fierce.

“Right now, the only place those who fled without a chance to contact us could have gone is the Nervana Forest. They must have hidden in the most familiar place.”

Her guess seemed plausible. If Enya had survived and fled with some of the Nervana Forest people, they would most likely be hiding in the forest now.

“Enya’s matter is a concern for all of Nervana Forest. We will cooperate fully.”

Kiyan’s eyes closed tightly.

“Even if it’s to find my granddaughter’s body.”

Piache also bowed her head in agreement.

A heavy silence filled the room as no one spoke. At that time, the man’s locked mouth broke the silence.

“…She left a doll at the grave.”

Those in the room looked up, not understanding the meaning of his words. Tarhan ignored their puzzled gazes, not bothering to explain.

By the grave, an old, faded doll lay next to a newly made one.

Only Piache and she knew the location of the grave.

Tarhan didn’t ponder long. As if the decision had been made from the start, his voice resounded with determination.

“We go to the Nervana Forest.”