Former General Is Undead Knight - Act 2-2
Chapter 2 : Great Horse of Nightmare②
Lambert was walking in the forest alongside Alvana, the blind minstrel.
Contrary to Lambert, who was walking cautiously as he observed his surroundings for sudden attacks from monsters, Alvena was walking in a nonchalant manner. Laughing merrily, she spoke to Lambert every now and then to the point of being a little bit annoying.
Seeing her acting like that, it was as if she had no worries about monsters appearing out of nowhere at all.
Alvana was playing her harp, stopping every several steps and then starting to walk again as she hummed some sort of tune.
For some reason, her harp was echoing clearly in the surroundings, as if it blended with nature itself.
—She’s a woman who dares to enter a dangerous forest, despite being blind… She’s let her guard down way too much. Has her mind become careless since she knows that I’m with her?
Lambert was slightly perplexed upon seeing how relaxed Alvana was.
「Knight-sama! Did you come to this forest because of the rumor about that 『Great Horse of Nightmare』 too?」
Tilting her head, Alvana asked such a question as she looked at Lambert.
Even though her hearing had informed her of Lambert’s position, the way she turned around to look at Lambert made it seem as if she could truly see him.
「What the heck is that?」
「You’ve got no idea about that rumor, right? Well, it’s the most fearsome being in this Lost Folk’s Great Forest, an undead’s great horse. Though no one knows who made such a powerful undead, it appeared out of nowhere just recently. It’s said to be an extremely violent undead. Adventurers who try to subjugate it never return. The city lord is also sending his soldiers to subjugate it, but… none of them made it back.」
「… I see now. If adventurers are coming here, then the city must be nearby.」
「I’ve no idea what you mean by that, Knight-sama. I mean, it’s natural to stop by the city to make preparations before you go into this forest. By chance, have you never been to Barreira City before?」
「Yeah. I came from Ainsaz City, located right on the other side of this forest. I’ve nothing to do with this forest. My business is with Barreira City itself.」
「Hahaha! It’s funny how you said that joke in such a serious tone. Your sense of humor is truly amusing, Knight-sama. I mean danger aside, Ainsaz City is really far from Barreira City.」
Although Lambert was telling the truth, Alvana simply dismissed it as a joke. It couldn’t be helped since there was more than a 200-year age gap between them.
But of course, Lambert didn’t care whether she believed him or not.
It was easier this way, especially since she didn’t bother to think further into his words.
「But then, why did you venture so deep into this forest, Alvana?」
「I’ve said it before, you know! I came to feel the 『Great Horse of Nightmare』’s force with my own body. Because that kind of sensation is akin to good fortune for a minstrel and poet like myself!」
Although Lambert almost retorted with “you jest” upon hearing her speak like that, he changed his mind upon seeing Alvana’s face. She was serious about what she said.
Alvana was quite reckless herself.
Lambert felt that she was extremely reckless, but he decided to keep quiet about his evaluation of her. He walked forward and replied with a simple 「I see.」
「In addition… I happened to hear a rumor in a bar: the horse bears a great resemblance to a horse that was killed fifteen years ago. The thing is, I have no idea whether that rumor is true or not.」
Lambert walked quietly as Alvana recited the rumor that she heard about the ghost of that horse. As befitting a minstrel, her tone was eloquent and prosey.
Even though he never asked for it, she was definitely a chatterbox.
According to the rumor, it used to be a horse of a famous adventurer.
The adventurer who came to the Lost Folk’s Great Forest for hunting was taking a rest due to his wounds. However, a thin white horse attacked him.
The injured adventurer was already on the verge of death back then, but he was trampled to death after being thrown off the back of the nimble horse.
The adventurer was trampled to death with stark hoof marks all over his body, broken limbs, and a disfigured head to the point of being unrecognizable.
However, that horse was the favorite war horse of the heir of a noble family.
The adventurers who were afraid of the horse’s wrath then cut it into pieces as soon as they saw it. They apologized to that heir, slaughtered the horse, and beheaded it.
When they arrived at the end of the story, Alvana’s intonation loosened and she was back to her usual frivolous tone.
「… It’s matching the situation, right? That horse should have a deep grudge against humans. In the end, it became the target for necromancy due to its deep resentment. Resentment is the strongest emotion of any living being, after all, and not all rumors are empty talk.」
「Ayaya~h, did my story move your heart? How unexpected, according to my observations, yours seems to be hard and solid.」
「No… it’s not that I’m deeply moved by your story.」
There was little to no fluctuation in Lambert’s voice.
Even though Lambert denied it, he felt an emotion akin to sympathy toward the horse who died to protect its master.
In that moment…
―Dan, dan, dan.
―Dan, dan, dan.
The sound of a horse’s hooves hitting the ground put their conversation to a halt.
That sound was heading toward Lambert and Co. in a straight line.
Alvana shouted in high spirit upon hearing the sound of her target closing into their location, but contrary to her cheerful voice, her hips gave away first.
「The sound is deep… It seems the “Great Horse” moniker isn’t just for show.」[TL : This NU Gundam isn’t for show.]
Lambert unsheathed his greatsword.
The one who leaped through the trees, heading toward them in a straight line, was a huge black horse.
Its burly frame was filled with toned muscle.
Its four limbs were stout and extremely muscular. And yet, Lambert could see that its leg muscles were extremely flexible.
The great horse’s body radiated a pale light that illuminated the dark forest.
Its flesh was only a temporary reproduction from necromancy.
And finally, the head that should’ve been on its neck was gone.
A mysterious black-colored blood was continuously dripping down from its neck, where the head should have been.
The black blood oozed and fell to the ground, withering the grass around it.
「… I see, it’s a great horse.」
「K-Knight-sama! This is the very same dangerous horse from the rumors! I thought I would be able to get away somehow, but… I was too naive. Now that I’m standing in front of it, I know that I won’t be able to escape from it no matter how much life I have.」
The headless great horse rushed toward Lambert.
Lambert received his dash head-on with his greatsword, but he was pushed back, unable to withstand the power behind the headless great horse’s rush.
He was pushed back, leaving deep marks in the ground where his feet scraped by.
As if excited, the great horse raised both of its forelimbs.
The eerie neigh of a horse suddenly resounded in the forest.