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After invading the Principality of Lichtine, the Fourth Imperial Army continued to advance at an astonishing speed. Even if the enemy’s lack of resistance was one of the reasons, the fortresses fell one after another in less than half a day.
They are currently twelve cells (thirty-six kilometers) away from Azbakar, the capital of the Principality of Lichtine.
The Fourth Imperial Army had just fallen two more forts today and had halted their advance to give their soldiers and horses a rest. In their main camp, a military council is being held to decide the future course of action.
A simple tent surrounded the camp. Inside of it, General Kylo was in the top seat, and Liz was on his right. Amidst the tense atmosphere, one of the staff raises his hand.
“May we begin the next topic?”
“Umu. Sure, start it.”
With General Kylo’s permission, the staff stood up with the reconnaissance unit report in their hands.
“A rebel army has appeared south of the Principality of Lichtine. It seems that they are currently moving northward and heading towards us. If this continues, a clash is inevitable.”
General Kylo snorted in disgust as he received the report from his staff. He looked at the map spread out on his desk and the pieces on it.
“How many rebels are there?”
“About four thousand. It seems that they have kicked out the Principality of Lichtine’s defensive forces and are hiring mercenaries and incorporating the surrounding slaves into their army one after another. By the time they encounter us, there will probably be more than six thousand of them.”
“Fumu. What about the movements of the Principality of Lichtine?”
“According to the reports from my informants, they have gathered their troops and are holed up in the capital. The report from the secret agent is the same, so it must be true. I think they are preparing for a siege.”
“Hunkering down like a turtle, it seems like a cowardly wind has blown. But it is all settled――.”
General Kylo held up his hand generously over the map.
“First, we must defeat the rebels who stand in our way. Let’s incorporate them into our army. But we only need the mercenaries. Cut off all the slaves’ heads. After that, let’s capture the capital and return to our homeland in triumph.”
There was no objection from the staff. General Kylo nodded in satisfaction, but he noticed that Liz was staring at the map in dissatisfaction.
“Princess, is there something wrong?”
“The soldiers and horses are exhausted from the reckless march so far.”
They’ve destroyed several forts. The defenses are thin, and they’ve won many battles in a row. It can be said that they are doing frighteningly well. Thanks to this, the morale of the soldiers is high.
However, even though they were able to trounce them, there was inevitably no small amount of resistance. The battle still continues. Whether defeating the rebels or dropping the enemy’s capital, they need to rest.
Just thinking about the consequences of accumulated fatigue is frightening.
“If the rest is not possible, then we should stick to our plan and negotiate for the northern oasis city of Bruno.”
“You don’t understand it, Princess.”
There was an echo of mockery in General Kylo’s tone of voice. Liz was aware of this, but she listened in silence.
“You can’t treat the Fourth Imperial Army the same way you treat other countries’ soldiers. They’ve been training hard and building up their strength for this moment. They won’t get tired from a half-hearted assault.”
“But they are still humans. It’s impossible for them to keep fighting.”
“According to the plan, we only need to do two more attacks――destroy the rebel army and capture the capital of the Principality of Lichtine. If we do that, we’ll have half of the Principality of Lichtine, not to mention the whole northern part of it.”
“The Emperor doesn’t want to destroy the Principality of Lichtine.”
“Just because the capital fell doesn’t mean it will be destroyed. Don’t worry; we’ll leave the south for them. The slave ships won’t be able to dock there.”
With a hint of disgust at General Kylo’s triumphant mood, Liz spoke up in rebuttal.
“If we do that, the Fourth Imperial Army will be glued to the Principality of Lichtine. If the south’s defenses are thin, there is no telling what the Steichen Republic will do. Besides, the Principality of Lichtine will be eager to take back the capital. If the stability in the south collapses, it will be a disaster we can’t even imagine.”
“At that time, we can just destroy the Principality of Lichtine. Isn’t that right?”
Then General Kylo lifted the corners of his mouth and looked at Liz.
“The Princess is tired. That is why you keep saying such cowardly things. You can return to your command now that the military council is over. You can stay in the rear if you want.”
Liz was tempted to shout at him, but she clenched her fists and restrained herself. But the anger didn’t go away easily. General Kylo’s second-in-command, Kigui, saw the anger on her face and reproached her for it.
“You are a member of the staff now. Your status as a princess has nothing to do with this. Showing emotion is not admirable. You should also be careful about what you say that could afflict His Excellency. You should control yourself.”
“Kigui, you shouldn’t say that. The princess is still young and has only been a soldier for a short time. It would be unreasonable to expect her to know the rules of the military right away. It is best if she learns it slowly from now on.”
Isn’t that right? General Kylo asked his staff, and they nodded in agreement.
“Princess. Don’t worry. We will give you a chance to make your mark.”
General Kylo gave a small smile and turned his attention to the map. It may be a gesture to indicate that he was not going to talk anymore.
“Yes… Then I’ll take your word for it and rest.”
If she vented her frustration here, it would only make her position worse. The only people around were the bootlicker staff officers. When Liz stood up from her chair, she walked out of the tent with a resentful stride.
Then Tris brought her beloved horse to a halt in front of her.
“Princess. Is the military council over?”
“General Kylo seems to have no idea what’s coming next.”
Liz, astride her beloved horse, turned her horse’s head toward her own camp.
“Fumu… As expected, there was no way to change his mind.”
“Yes, they are going to defeat the rebels and invade Azbakar.”
“He’s full of ambition. I thought he was a cautious man.”
“Yes. How are the preparations going?”
“Sixty percent, I’d say.”
“Well… I’ll write another letter for him.”
When she returned to the camp, Liz looked up at the sky. The wind was blowing hard, and the dust was rising heavily, obscuring her vision.
“There’s something unnatural about this. Why the wind all of a sudden…?”
This was the first time something like this had happened since they had invaded the Principality of Lichtine. If it were a gust of wind, it would be impossible for a storm-like wind to last forever.
It was then that Liz suddenly noticed that the “Flame Emperor” was trembling slightly.
“Princess? What’s going on?”
Liz didn’t answer Tris’s question but squinted ahead. Then the wind suddenly disappeared with the dust. And then―in front of her eyes―there was a massive army of camel cavalry.
“It’s ridiculous… Why is the enemy getting so close? What were the watchmen doing?”
Tris shouted in agitation. The soldiers around him were also upset by the sudden attack of the enemy.
“Calm down! Get into position! Blow the horn to notify the main camp!”
Liz was calm. She drew her Flame Emperor from its sheath and raised her voice.
“Tris! Can we move now?”
“The first cavalry battalion is ready to go. The second cavalry battalion may take a while.”
“All right! Then bring the first cavalry battalion forward!”
As Liz kicked the horse’s belly and moved forward, Tris shouted in surprise.
“Princess! Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’ll buy you some time so you can get ready!”
Moving through the gap between the cavalry, Liz stopped her horse a short distance away. A large cloud of dust was rising in front of her. It was closing in on Liz like a wave.
The distance was about 90 roos (270 meters).
She gripped the hilt of her “Flame Emperor” tightly as she looked at the camel cavalry.
When the camel cavalry approached at a distance of 37 roos (111 meters)
“No need to hold back. I’ll burn them to the ground!”
At that moment, flames erupted from the tip of the “Flame Emperor” blade. The flames scorched the air, and a dry heat spread throughout the area. The flames spread rapidly to the sides, forming a large wall that completely cut off the two sides.
Cheers erupted from the allies at the fantastic sight.
“The enemy will avoid the flames and spread out to the left and right!”
With her horse’s head turned, Liz headed for the front line of the first cavalry battalion.
“The first cavalry battalion will be the first to go. First Cavalry Battalion, follow me!”
Tris is riding up to her.
“What’s the matter?”
“The second battalion is ready!”
“Then instruct them to flank the enemy! Send word to the main camp, tell them to bring the reserve cavalry to the rear! We’ll surround them and destroy them!”
“Very well! May the Twelve Grantz Gods bless you!”
“You too, Tris! The first battalion, let’s go!”
As Liz looked forward, a startling sight unfolded. A wave of sand was attacking the flame wall.
“No way… How?”
The flame wall was buried entirely in the sand even while she was caught off guard. A large number of camel cavalry jumped out of the sand smoke high in the sky.
Liz, regaining her composure at the sight of them, swung the Flame Emperor forward, and shouted.
“Kuh, don’t let the enemy gain momentum! First Cavalry Battalion, charge!”
She pulled on the reins and kicked the horse’s belly. Behind Liz, who jumped into the lead with great vigor, a thousand cavalrymen were shouting, “Follow Her Highness!.”
Liz intersected with the leading group of the enemy. As Liz lowered her body, a spear passed over her head. She quickly wielded her “Flame Emperor” to cut through the enemy’s body.
She took one look at the enemy as he fell from the camel, blood splattering all over him, and then she created a mass of flames from the blade of her Flame Emperor and shot it forward. In the blink of an eye, the flames engulfed many enemy soldiers, causing them to scream.
Many of the camel cavalries could not evade the fire in time, their bodies burning and reeking as they rolled in the desert. A cloud of blood covered the battlefield as horseshoes crushed the bodies.
“They collapsed! Don’t give them time to get in line! We’ll crush them like this!”
The camels that had lost their riders were beginning to flail in fear of the hot wind. The enemy’s ranks had begun to fall into disarray. There, the cavalry attacked at a furious pace, their spearheads flashing as they pierced the enemy soldiers.
Liz also unleashed a series of slashes, killing the enemy soldiers, whose faces were drawn up in fear. The stench of death invaded the air, and the more corpses there were, the thicker the odor became.
“There’s a fearless little girl here!”
The one who shouted this was the one who jumped over the corpses from the front and rushed forward. He lightly lifted a large sword as tall as his body with one hand and kicked the cavalrymen in his path, cutting them in half and scattering them.
When Liz saw the man with the pale purple skin, tension flashed across her face.
“…Why are the demon here?”
The man on the back of the camel leaps. Bloody dust flew up in front of Liz’s eyes. The man’s big sword roared in the wind. Liz quickly readied her “Flame Emperor.”
A moment later, Liz’s sword collided with the big sword with a loud spark.
Liz’s body floated in the air with her horse. The demon’s power is unbelievable for an average person, but Liz, who is pushing it back, is not uncommon either.
Although it may have been received by the big sword, the demon’s expression changes when it is pushed back. The demon who took a distance from Liz turned his gaze to the Flame Emperor and opened his mouth.
“Ara, I wonder.”
Liz hid the numbness in her hands and smiled so as not to be recognized.
“You can’t have this kind of power with a body as slender as a little girl’s.”
“I think it’s too early to judge from that.”
In response to Liz’s words, the demon stabbed his greatsword into the ground.
“There is no point in trying to hide it. Mine is one of the five demon emperor sword, the Creation Demon. There are only a limited number of swords in Alethia that can take on the Demon Emperor Sword.”
The Demon Emperor’s Five Swords.
These are the five treasured swords that were refined by the demons a thousand years ago in order to counter the five emperors of the Spirit Sword.
They contain the souls of demons and, like the spirit swords, have a will of their own. The sword owner is chosen differently, and sometimes a person other than the demon race is selected, in which case it is said that some kind of curse will befall them.
“You know what I mean. You know that when they meet their long-time nemesis, they resonate with each other.”
The demon told her, and Liz looked down at the “Flame Emperor.” The red blade emitted enough heat to distort the space. To urge her to fight quickly.
Liz glared at the demon in front of her as she soothed the Flame Emperor.
“…You’re right, this is the Flame Emperor, one of the five emperors of the Spirit Sword.”
“Oh, the first emperor’s favorite sword, the “Flame Emperor,” it’s well written in the lore. It’s an honor to meet you. I believe it is said that its blessing was Extraordinary Strength?”
A strong wind blew as the man swung his greatsword.
“The Creation Demon’s blessing is “Shock.” The proof is in the fact that the little girl’s hands are numb. However, since we are both in a hurry, why don’t we cross blades?”
The demon twisted his mouth in amusement.
“My name is Ghada Meteor. I am the second-in-command of the Liberation Army.”
“I’m Celia Estrella Elizabeth von Grantz.”
Liz jumped off the back of her horse and readied her Flame Emperor. At this time, the Fourth Imperial Army was decimating the rebel army. It’s not only that they are outnumbered, but the second cavalry battalion is biting them from the flanks, and the reserve cavalry is trying to get around behind them.
Ghada must have noticed. He looked around and then turned to Liz.
“It looks like we don’t have much time. Why don’t we settle this quickly?”
“There’s no need to be in such a hurry. I’ve got plenty of time!”
Liz jumped at Ghada as if she were dancing, but her attack was easily caught. He’s a demon sword wielder, so Liz doesn’t think it’s easy to get ahead of him.
“Do you know, I can even create flames.”
The red ripples emerged, and the flame snake attacked Ghada. Ghada, who repelled the red blade, ducked down and put his hands on the ground. The sand, which is controlled by magic power, rose up and became a wall, blocking the flame snake.
Liz slammed her fist into the wall of sand.
Liz’s arm pierced the wall with a frighteningly monstrous force.
The fist hit Ghada’s face, which caught him by surprise, and he was blown away by the sheer force of the fist. Liz smiled and told Ghada, who stopped after spinning around on the ground one, two times.
“Ara, did you forget about the blessings of the Flame Emperor?”
Ghada wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth, and his smile deepened.
“An ordinary man would have been knocked unconscious!”
Ghada instantly crushes the distance between them and skillfully manipulates the Creation Demon, swinging it over Liz’s head.
Liz was able to receive it by raising her “Flame Emperor.” Her ankles were buried in the sand from excessive power.
“You should not think that you can stop me with that!”
Liz immediately kicked out her right foot. However, Ghada easily catches it with one hand. Liz levitated her body and used her left foot to kick the upper part of Ghada’s solar plexus.
Ghada retreated, holding his stomach, and threw away Liz’s right leg, which he had grabbed. Liz, who had adjusted her stance nicely while flying through the air, landed with her left hand on the ground.
She landed on the ground with her left hand, but there was no “Flame Emperor” in her hand, and it dropped to the ground. She looked down at her trembling right hand with a frown on her face. She’s numbed by the “Shock” of the “Creation Demon.”
“…What a troublesome animal strength… but when it’s numb, it won’t give you any strength.”
“Isn’t it rude to call a weak girl like that?”
“That’s true, too. For someone who has been favored by the Spirit Sword, it was a bit rude.”
Both of them stared at each other for a little while, but suddenly Ghada removed his gaze and looked around. There was a shadowy mix of screams and yells. Many of his comrades had become corpses, their flesh and blood coloring the desert. Ghada wrinkled his brow in displeasure.
“I’d like to say sorry and let us get serious. But that will have to wait for another time.”
“You think I’m going to let you get away with this?”
“Don’t push yourself. Are you going to fight with your hands like that?”
As Ghada had pointed out, Liz’s hand was still numb.
Ghada jumped on the camel and looked down at Liz.
“You have talent. If you continue to train at this rate, you will surpass me in five years.”
Just as Ghada said that, one of the rebel camel cavalrymen came running up.
“Leader! We can’t hold it any longer!”
“I know. We’ve achieved our goal. We’re retreating!”
Liz picked up the Flame Emperor and readied it, but Ghada only glanced at her and left the battlefield.
“Princess! Are you okay?”
Tris came to Liz, who was glaring at Ghada’s back in frustration.
“Yes, I’m fine. What’s the damage?”
“I haven’t heard any reports yet, but I don’t think there’s been much damage. The princess has attracted a troublesome demon. Shall we pursue him?”
“No, we don’t need to pursue him. Let’s leave the rest to General Kylo. The horses and soldiers are tired from the long ride, so let them rest as much as possible.”
Liz sighed deeply, and her strength drained from her body.
“Tsk, I’m not yet enough, huh?”
I’m not as good as Hiro yet. Said Liz with a weak smile.