Prologue – Colossi of the Forest
With a cacophony that rumbled throughout the forest, the trees and soil gathered together and took the shape of a giant human.
The majestic appearance of the 『 Colossus of the Forest』 far exceeded the average adult human being in height, and struck fear into the hearts of the soldiers who confronted it.
Even the fully armed and experienced soldiers of the army corps fell into a panic when they saw the forest suddenly take on a different shape in front of them.
Faced with the war cries of the colossi that rose up from all directions, even the commander’s ability to inspire his soldiers deserted him.
The commander, a soldier in the prime of his life with a large scar that ran diagonally across his face, reprimanded his men and tried his best to keep them from falling into a rout.
However, he revised his decision on glimpsing the arrival of a new colossus out of the corner of his eye.
In the presence of multiple colossi, it was a foregone conclusion that the organization of the army would collapse entirely.
“Withdraw to the coastal city!! Full retreat! Messengers! Pass the orders for all units to withdraw!!”
The commander gave orders to prevent his army that was two thousand strong from falling into the hands of the colossi.
Hearing the commander’s orders, the soldiers of the messenger division raised long-barrelled guns fitted with signal rounds that emitted a high-pitched sound and fired off the signal to retreat with trembling hands.
All units sent back a signal that the orders were acknowledged.
Hearing the signals, the commander glared towards the distant front line and angrily threw his helmet onto the ground.
“This isn’t something that can be handled by reinforcements of a measly five hundred troops!”
After cursing an entity that wasn’t present at that place,
“All units, retreat! Run! Run for your lives!”
Shouting that, the commander spun around and started to run without even waiting to hear if his orders were being passed on or not.
He threw away his heavy gun and armor and ran for all he was worth along with the other soldiers.
After running for about an hour, he saw that he was nearing the edge of the forest.
Had they only been able to force their way through such a short distance of the forest? The entire army was assailed by a sense of helplessness.
The commander eventually made it out of the forest and finally took a break after reaching a place from where he could see the ramparts of the 『Coastal City Isnia』, which was the stronghold of the invasion force and also where his base of operations was located.
Around him were soldiers who had also managed to run this far, gasping for breath and cowering with no sign of discipline.
There appeared to be a lot of injured people. How many men had lost their lives?
The commander looked back at the forest that he had just left behind him, without even waiting to catch his breath.
The borders of the forest were astir with activity. It felt like those colossi that seemed to be tall enough to pierce the sky might cross the edge of the forests in pursuit at any moment.
However, near the edge of the forest that was dark even during the daytime, the rough and ominous figures of the colossi appeared to melt into the forest and disappear one after the other.
Rather than the bitter taste of defeat, the commander felt relief.
The colossi did not cross the borders of the forest.
Even in records of the past, it was said that they would chase their targets to the edge of the forest, but they would melt away and disappear once they finished chasing the trespassers out of the forest.
According to the report of a brave soldier who had hesitantly made his way back to the edge of the forest after his unit had suffered a similar defeat and retreated to the coastal city, he found an enormous footprint that proved that a colossus had indeed been standing there. However the colossus itself appeared to have dissolved into the forest and was nowhere to be seen.
“All of you, wait here.”
After giving that order to the men around him, the commander slowly started walking back towards the edge of the forest.
He had tried to appear fearless in front of his men, but his legs refused to obey his will and were shaking.
“Admiral Chris is going to throw a fit again.”
Wearing a fed up expression, the commander muttered some words to himself that would get him into serious trouble if someone else happened to overhear them, and resolutely walked towards the forest once more.
It was so quiet that it was almost funny.
Along with the tracks left by his soldiers as they ran away, he also saw footprints the size of a canoe made by the colossi as they tried to crush his men underfoot.
Swallowing hard, the commander stayed on high alert as he slowly walked along the border of the forest.
The colossi gave off a phosphorescent glow, had a torso and fists that looked like massive boulders, and feet the size of a canoe.
They didn’t have anything that looked like a head, but instead had something that appeared to be a grotesque mask affixed to the torso.
Although their appearance indicated that they were made from soil and the trees of the forest, neither blades nor gunpowder had any effect on them. These 『Colossi』 used overwhelming force to chase away anyone who attempted to trespass upon the forest.
Perhaps that forest is a territory of the gods, a place that we must not violate.
The commander thought about something that might have got him crucified if anyone from the Holy Church of his homeland happened to hear about it.
He thought he saw something stirring deep inside the forest. His eyes opened wide and his body froze in place.
However, the forest was just as peaceful as it had been before.
Birds called out intermittently, and a squirrel scampered along the ground some distance away. It appeared to be a natural place no different from the large and deep forest in his homeland, although the vegetation was of a different sort.
The roots of the trees reminded him of the arms of the colossi, which frightened him.
However, if he went back home with nothing to show in spite of getting the army decimated, there was no telling what kind of terrible punishment the Admiral, who had anger issues, might pronounce upon him.
Despite his age, the commander was suddenly struck with homesickness and felt like going back home before he got himself trampled to death inside the forest of the gods. While looking along the path that the squirrel had taken, he suddenly saw something that was out of place.
Summoning up the last of his courage and stamina, the commander forced himself through the trees and entered the forest. He picked up a certain object from the underbrush that the squirrel had disappeared into, and overcome by sudden impulse, dashed out of the forest again.
The commander’s breath was ragged despite having only run for a few meters, and he looked down in puzzlement at what he held in his hand.
It had almost lost its radiance, but it was the feather of a bird with a shaft that shone like gold.
There were a number of stealthy figures running beneath the branches of the forest of giant trees, whose leaves shone like emeralds in the light of the sun.
The figures were human, with brilliantly colored feather decorations in their hair and wooden masks upon their faces.
Although the masks had eyeholes, their field of vision must have been quite poor.
Moreover, all of the masked people running in the forest had a large portion of their bodies exposed to the the elements.
Their clothing only protected the arms, legs, and the regions around the neck and the waist, showing off skin that was deep brown in color and bearing tattoos of various designs.
The trees of the forest blocked their path with an innumerable number of branches, but the people kept running without missing a beat, as if their restricted vision was no impediment.
Different groups of the stealthy figures started to gather from all directions, until they eventually formed one large group that continued to run.
Even so, their numbers were far fewer than that of the army from the coastal city. Eventually, one of the people who was running close to the front and appeared to be the leader raised a short sword and shouted loudly.
The shout reached the group of running people without losing out to the sound of the wind.
“Is everyone okay!?”
The leader had a woman’s voice.
“There are no problems!!”
The other stealthy figures shouted out as if in concert and picked up the pace even more.
The woman who was running in the front and appeared to be the leader wove through the dense undergrowth with no path without slowing down even once, and then jumped towards the boundary of the forest with all her strength.
They were in the sky. The stealthy figures were now leaping through the sky.
The forest on the opposite side of the coast ended in a sheer cliff.
At the bottom of the cliff was a large, open plain, a forest even larger than the one they had just run through, and a sacred mountain rising up in the background.
The stealthy figures that had leaped into the air were pulled downwards by gravity and began to fall.
One of the other figures that was being pulled down by gravity shouted towards the masked woman who was the leader.
Instead of replying, the masked woman, who was called Rozen, removed her mask.
In the next instant, beautiful, long black hair that looked like night in the middle of the day was released from under the mask and spread out in the air.
The breath she expelled roughly from her well-shaped lips and nose roared out and was absorbed by the surging wind.
The beautiful girl called Rozen had a pattern tattooed on her skin and a mask decorated with feathers. One of the other figures called out to her.
“Look, Rozen! The giant tree is shining just like your eyes! It is blessing our victory!”
Following her companions, Rozen looked high up into the sky that she was falling through.
“……That’s right. I have to protect this sky, this forest, and this land from the people of the ocean, no matter what.”
Her companions laughed happily and looked even further into the distance than Rozen.
They looked beyond the open plain, the forest, and even the sacred mountain.
The sacred mountain Paho Tika which possessed 『Holy Ground』. The gigantic 『Tree of the Sky』 that had golden leaves, stood taller than the clouds in the sky, and was said to stand at the end of the earth. They were both shining brilliantly in the light of the sun that was at its zenith.
“Wait for me, Rera. I’ll show you this sky again soon.”
Looking up at that shining light, Rozen whispered to herself in a voice that no one else could hear.
Suddenly, she heard the sound of the wind whipping through fabric around her, and came back to her senses.
“There’s the village! It’s time to get off!”
Rozen casually plucked a blue feather with a golden shaft from her mask and,
She threw it forcefully at a point directly beneath her.
In the next instant, a thunderous roar rang out, and Rozen’s falling speed suddenly reduced.
The other masked people who were about ten seconds away from crashing into the ground also reduced their falling speed by throwing blue feathers directly beneath themselves.
On the open plain beneath them was a village comprised of tipis constructed from animal hide, wood and cloth, and the group of masked people gently descended towards it.
A large number of people on the ground looked up at them and waved their hands as if in welcome.
Just like Rozen, they had brown skin patterned with tattoos of various designs, golden irises, wore clothes that exposed a lot of skin, and had decorations made from feathers in their hair.
“We’re back, everyone! The Battle-queen of Din’na, Rozen, has defeated the people of the ocean!”
Hearing the declaration of victory from Rozen as she descended, the people of the ground shouted out in joy.
In the 『New World』 on the other side of the mysterious large forest illuminated by light from the sun and the 『Tree of the Sky』, a large number of people threw themselves into a battle that stretched on for many years in order to win a place for themselves on the morrow.