Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
Lynx, the central city of Margrave Grinda’s territory, is a unique combination of grassland and desert. The grasslands in the northern district are home to the higher class citizens, while the desert area in the southern district is home to the lower class.
In the northern district, there was the mansion of the lord, Margrave Luzen Kiork von Grinda. The walls were white, with an octagonal tower building in the center of it, and sloping roofs on all sides.
The two-story wooden mansion, built on the plateau overlooking the city, has an air of dignity that befits the name of a nobleman. A high wall surrounds the mansion, and in the center of the wall, in front of the iron gate, a man collapses.
A soldier on guard on either side of the gate rushes over to him.
“H-hey. What happened?”
“That’s a pretty bad injury.”
The faces of the soldiers turned pale as they turned the man face up. His body was covered in wounds, and a lot of blood was caked on. The blood had dried, but the wound looked new. The soldiers are impressed that the man is still alive.
Suddenly, the man grabbed one of the soldiers.
“C-convey my message to Margrave Grinda immediately.”
“…H-hey! I don’t know what happened to you, but let me go!”
“You’re wounded. Please calm down!”
An unusual amount of force had been applied to his well-trained arms. The two soldiers tried to pull him away, but the man clung desperately to one of the soldiers.
“P-please! I am Dios von Michael… I serve Celia Estreya-sama… Please, my message.”
“A-all right, all right. Let me go! I’ll report it right away!”
“Please… there’s not enough time…”
The two soldiers look at each other with a troubled look on their faces. They have no time to verify the truth. But if it’s a lie, they’re in big trouble, and if it’s the truth, they don’t know what kind of punishment they’ll face if they just let it off.
Deciding it was too much for them to handle, the soldier grabbed by Dios shouted out.
“Hey! Notify the garrison captain!”
The other soldier who was about to pull Dios off nodded, and ran towards the mansion. The garrison captain who had sensed the unusual situation immediately came out of the gate.
He approached Dios and gently tapped him on the shoulder.
“Grinda-sama will meet you. So will you let that fellow go, please?”
The two sides form a staring contest, and Dios releases the soldier and sits down on the spot.
“Please… Her Highness Elizabeth is in trouble.”
“Yeah, I understand. But you need to be treated first.”
Take Dios-dono to the infirmary. The guard captain added at the end.
With two soldiers carrying him on their shoulders, Dios was led into the infirmary in the mansion. Inside, a man was waiting for him and opened his mouth when he saw Dios.
“I would like to greet you first, but―would you mind if I asked you about the situation?”
He is probably Margrave Grinda. He looked as kind as Liz told him. Dios was lowered to the bed to talk as the doctor treated him.
“There were a hundred and fifty of us… and I’m the only one who survived.”
Dios’ words were tinged with frustration. After leaving the battlefield, the injured soldiers died one by one on their horses. Even more unfortunate, they were also attacked by bandits. How much more could a man who had accumulated fatigue fight? When he passed through the death line, and his vision became dim, he was alone.
Hearing Dios’ explanation, Margrave Grinda’s expression twisted in grief.
“I see. You’ve done a good job. I would like to tell you to get some rest now, but…”
He choked on his words and shook his head, and held out a letter to Dios.
“It arrived yesterday.”
With a curious look on his face, Dios receives the letter.
After reading the contents, Dios looked at Margrave Grinda with shrinking eyes.
“It seems to be a large army of two thousand. But don’t worry. I will not betray my niece.”
“But… this is…”
“I do know the “War Maiden” very well. Even though this is a remote area, I’ve heard that term often. I doubt I’d be able to match her. And even if I wanted to make a plea to the Emperor, he’s currently in the middle of a military campaign.”
“So, you’ll hand over the princess?”
“I told you. I’m not going to betray my niece. She’s a memento left by my younger sister, you know.”
“Your opponent is 2,000 strong, how many soldiers are you able to assemble here?”
“Even during wartime, this place could be said to be free of war. Grinda’s territory has three thousand standing reserves. That doesn’t mean we can gather them all, nor do we have the time… I guess we can gather a thousand.”
“That’s not enough…”
Their opponent is the “War Maiden”. She won’t let her guard down just because her opponents are so few in number. She will be out to crush them with all her might. This is proven by her war record so far.
“I will hold them until the Emperor returns. Even if my opponent is the feared War Maiden.”
“When will the Emperor return?”
“The news of his victory arrived five days ago. He should be on his way back with the First Prince by now. I’ve sent out a messenger, but it will arrive in five days… or three days at the earliest. Until then, we will have no choice but to fight a war we can’t afford to lose.”
“A battle we can’t afford to lose, huh…”
“Yes. The scouts report that the enemy troops are now moving southward from the Zegen village to the Grole Plains.”
“So, the decisive battle will be on Grole Plains?”
Margrave Grinda nodded at Dios’ words.
“The enemy may be aiming for the borders of the small country of Baum. But we won’t let them. First, we’ll stall them in the Grole Plains.”
“Then I’ll go with you.”
“No, I want you to lead two hundred men to meet Elizabeth at Fort Alto. The fort is not exactly sturdy… but for now, you have to buy yourself some time with a siege or something.”
Fort Alto was built near the border of the small country of Baum, but there are less than a hundred soldiers stationed there because it was not involved in the war. Moreover, it is said that the equipment is old and does not work as a fort.
The Margrave Grinda’s territory may have enjoyed peace too much. However, Dios had no desire to blame him because that would have been normal in peace times. And also, Margrave Grinda had not been lining his pockets but had used the money to help his people.
“I am sorry. If I had been more firm, we would not have been in this situation.”
“No, I’m the one who came in. So, I’m the one who has to apologize.”
It was Dios who had brought the troublesome spark to the table of all people. If they want to defend their current position, they just have to hand over the princess. Even so, Margrave Grinda is still trying to fight this battle. He’s just grateful that the margrave is willing to help him in a war with no chance of winning.
“The Princess would say the same thing. So please raise your head.”
“Thank you for saying that… I really appreciate it.”
Once Dios thought the margrave had raised his head, he lowered it again. There was no sign of raising his head for any length of time, so Dios decided to change the subject.
“So, what are you going to do now?”
“I’ll be leaving as soon as the soldiers are assembled.”
“Well, then, please take care. I’ve got to go meet the princess and…”
“I’ll send a messenger to Fort Alto. I’ll leave Elizabeth to you.”
“I understand. Until next time――.”
Dios offered his hand. Margrave Grinda smiled and held his hand tightly.
“Umu. I will see you again with Elizabeth.”
Thus, they vowed to see each other again and set about doing what they had to do.
The Third Imperial Army’s camp was pitched eight cells (twenty-four kilometers) away from the Grole Plains. The sight of hundreds of tents being pitched was nothing short of breathtaking.
In the center of it all―inside the blackened tent, a man and a woman were facing each other across a desk. The man tilted his head and then turned his head to the girl who was opening a book in front of him.
“Heavenly Spirit Eye?”
“Yes. Have you heard about it, Viscount Spitz?”
“Of course, I know that. It’s one of the three great secret eyes in the world, and even that long-lived and well-informed long-eared race doesn’t possess it, and only the second emperor has ever possessed it in the past and now.”
Then Spitz remembered something and continued to speak.
“Ah, yes. Speaking of the long ear race, I believe there was one in the staff officer of the First Prince of Schtobel.”
“Yes. I had a few words with that person several times. That’s when I heard about the Heavenly Spirit Eye.”
“With their longevity and knowledge, I’m sure they knew a lot about things.”
“It was very meaningful. He said that the Heavenly Spirit Eye is capable of understanding Heaven and Earth and controlling the battlefield. He said it was a ridiculous and outrageous eye.”
“It was a joke, wasn’t it? I don’t think an eye can have that much power, but…”
Spitz shrugged his shoulders in disbelief. However, his expression would soon change. This is because Aura’s cheeks were puffed up with a sullen look.
“I’m certain it was real. The “God of War” is proof. More importantly, this was said by the long ears, who do not like to joke. It’s believable. Do you not think so, Viscount Spitz?”
Although he was afraid to deny the words of the sulky Aura, he still couldn’t believe what he couldn’t believe. So, without any hesitation, Spitz opened his mouth, choosing his words carefully.
“I can’t just believe it. That would make tactics and strategies meaningless. And victory is grasped by human hands; you can’t gain anything by simply looking at it.”
“That’s not wrong, of course. It is people who grab the heavens, people who tread the earth, and people who manipulate people. Just by looking at it, you are no better than a mere bystander. Still, I want to hope. I hope that the Heavenly Spirit Eye is real.”
As Aura said that, her gaze fell on the map spread out on the desk. Spitz followed suit and looked at it as well. Several pieces were laid out on the map. Aura slowly moved her gaze over the map as if to check the terrain and spoke out.
“Are you sure the number of troops that Margrave Grinda has gathered is 900?”
“Yes, the Third Imperial Army’s scouts are excellent. I’m sure of it.”
Considering the size of Margrave Grinda’s territory, they should be able to gather about 3,000 troops… Perhaps it’s because they haven’t experienced a battle for so many years, or perhaps their ability to communicate on the spur of the moment doesn’t seem to be functioning well. Although one must not be careless, this will be a battle that can be won easily. This is the Third Imperial Army’s pride and joy, the 2000 elite of the “Imperial Black Knights”.
“Have you received a letter response from Margrave Grinda?” Said Aura. Spitz straightened his posture and held out the letter he had just received.
“Yes. The contents were as expected. He refused it.”
Spitz said with a sigh. Aura confirmed the contents of the letter and nodded her head in agreement.
“It’s obvious. We should try to make an attempt to exchange messengers tomorrow as well so that things can be done quietly.”
Spitz sounded dumbfounded. He thought he misheard it. However, looking at Aura’s face, it seems that that is not the case.
“P-please wait. Then what is the purpose of the strategy before?”
Leaning forward at the desk, Spitz asked. Although they are not here now, many unit commanders and staff members had heard of Aura’s strategy earlier. If they didn’t plan to fight, what was the point of it all? In fact, what was the point of coming here in the first place?
In contrast to the flustered Spitz, Aura remained calm and tilted her head cutely.
“The only purpose is to talk. But if Margrave Grinda is just a fool who doesn’t even want to communicate, then we’ll have to fight him. The strategy just in case, though?”
“But I suppose a fight is inevitable when it comes to this point…”
“It’s not too late. We must avoid senseless conflict between the Empire people.”
“That’s true, but…”
Spitz was unable to take over the second phrase. But this was to be expected. He had thought that his beloved Lord would be reluctant to move on here. That’s why he took the first step. Falsely claiming that it was Aura’s order, he has ordered several troops to invade Margrave Grinda’s territory and capture the Sixth Princess.
Although he didn’t want to move on his own without the Lord’s knowledge, perhaps his decision was correct. Just as the silence was about to be filled―a messenger, covered in mud, rushed into the tent.
“Urgent! The Principality of Lichtine with approximately 15,000 soldiers are approaching the border!”
Spitz was stunned as he raised up from his chair. Aura stopped the piece she had been moving on the map and turned her attention to the messenger.
“Report the details.”
“As per Aura-sama’s orders, the unit that was waiting for Her Highness Celia Estreya near the border seems to have caught a suspicious movement on the part of the Principality of Lichtine, and after sending out scouts to investigate, they have confirmed the movement of the army.”
After hearing the report from the messenger, Aura’s eyes narrowed sharply. On the other hand, Spitz’s heart was on the verge of stopping. This is because Aura has found out about the existence of the unit that was sent to the border area on his own accord.
Naturally, it’s not surprising that Aura is suspicious of something she doesn’t remember. An angry look pierced Spitz. But now is not the time to do that, Aura shook her head, moved her eyes to the messenger and informed him.
“I know you’re tired, but do me just one favor.”
“By all means.”
Aura smiled at the quick reply.
“I would like you to tell this to Margrave Grinda as well. He would also like to help if he can. I’ll write a letter right away.”
Paper and pen were prepared on the desk. Aura wrote smoothly with ink on the tip of the pen. The sound of the pen’s tip rubbing in this highest-ranking tent had lasted for a while.
When Spitz, having regained his composure, wasn’t sure if he should apologize or not, Aura’s eyes, which were filled with anger as she finished writing, turned to him.
“I should be angry, but I’m not going to question it this time.”
“If Lord Spitz hadn’t sent the troops to hide on the border, we probably wouldn’t have known what the Principality of Lichtine was doing. So it’s a non-issue.”
“Is it true?!”
Spitz stands up from his chair in happiness. Aura, who handed the letter to the messenger, took a glance at Spitz.
“But if you don’t get punished, it won’t show the soldiers that you are getting disciplined. And so, I will be rewarding you for your future work.”
After concluding that, Aura picked up the book on the desk and began to read it quietly. Spitz, who had been staring at his Lord with passionate eyes, moved from his chair to the ground and got down on one knee.
“I will. I will certainly return the favor!”
Spitz vowed, his voice trembling with emotion.