1 -

"The ultimate defense of the free nations against the forces of darkness! The last resistance of the free people! The final battle that will decide the fate of the world is upon us!"

"Shut the fuck up, Lynch!" shouted Albert, apparently irritated by my glorious speech.

Albert, that hot-blooded warrior, wielded his greatsword just like his words. With no elegance whatsoever.

"The bards will soon write sagas on this epic battle, it is my duty to give these artists something to feed my legend!"

"Stop quarreling, you two!" interceded Lilliana. "Don't you understand our current situation?"

Lilliana was a competent enchantress, most likely more competent than this entire group of idiots. She employed healing and support spells to keep us alive while using her interpersonal skills to ensure the cohesion of our party.

"Bah, what's wrong with messing around a bit to relax the atmosphere?" started Rich. "Everything is so depressing… Here! Take a good swig of my hydromel, Lilliana!"

Rich was a solid warrior of the proud dwarven race. Even with his short frame he didn't look less imposing. Equipped with a monumental shield covering the entirety of his height and a one-handed axe, he was a veritable wall blocking the advance of the enemy. He constituted all the vanguard that we needed to protect the fragile members of our party.

"I'd prefer staying lucid," resumed Lilliana. "After all, today is the day that the free nations will triumph of the calamity that befell our beloved world!"

"Not bad, Lilliana. That's a good start, but there's still work to do with your phrasing," I approved with a satisfied nod. "Under my guidance, you shall learn how to accomplish venerable feats that will make your name reverberate through the royals courts for millenniums to come!"

Then, a graceful elf carrying a long bow and a quiver on her back took a step toward the dwarf. "Give it here, Rich!"

The dwarf looked at her, puzzled. Some might think that, at that moment, the dwarf was simply bewildered by her beauty. The elf was proudly displaying her cute pointy ears through her long radiant blond hair. Her face had refined features and was covered in an immaculate white skin. Her outfit displayed plenty of that smooth skin, although her cleavage was not showing due to her chest being as flat as a chopping board.

But looks were deceiving.

And the dwarf, having known the elf for a long time, was not duped by her appearance. In fact, he simply lost track of the conversation and was wondering just what was she talking about.

That elf, named Élise, explained herself, "Your hydromel, give me some! And don't be a cheapskate, I want a full jug!"

A barrel was standing in the middle of their little gathering. The cover had been torn off and revealed a golden frothy liquid. It exuded a rich and sweet aroma.

Élise was drooling profusely in anticipation while Rich plunged a jug into the barrel.

Despite her refined looks and her feminine charms, her demeanor was childish and immature. Still, her noisy personality was a good match with mine and her proficiency with her bow and arrows was remarkable. She lacked the innate delicacy of the elves but was nonetheless entertaining.

Rich passed her the dripping jug, a bright smile on both of their faces. Rich loved sharing and for that reason, he always had a bunch of jugs near-at-hand.

Élise immediately started gulping down her share while Rich filled some other cups and handed them to the rest of us. Even Lilliana gave in and grabbed a jug.

We raised our hydromel together. Élise, having already finished her drink, hurriedly plunged her cup into the barrel again and raised her jug with the rest of us.

I exclaimed, "A toast! To peace!"

The five of us constituted the elites of the Royal Guards.

We had fought each others in the past, but now that peace was achieved, we would not let anything tear us apart. And if a third party suddenly appeared and tried to threaten that fragile peace we worked so hard to build… We'd crush them.

Next chapter