Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
――The next morning.
The Fourth Imperial Army, which had cleared the camp, was facing north in a flank formation. A thousand vanguard troops set out at dawn and completed their formation at a distance of one cell (three kilometers).
Behind them, the Liberation Army, consisting of 3,000 slaves and mercenaries, formed up.
“The flames have risen, huh?”
As Hiro muttered this, black smoke began to rise high into the sky from the destroyed fort further ahead than the vanguard troops. Then the Principality of Lichtine’s army appeared with a shout.
Their morale must have been boosted by the burning of the enemy’s logistics. However, the Fourth Imperial Army was not shaken. Rather, they were wondering why such a place was on fire.
Because the Fourth Imperial Army’s real logistics are elsewhere, the burning fortress only contained food and weapons that Hiro had brought in to lure the enemy.
“It’s interesting how well the plan works.”
Hiro shrugged his shoulders at Driks’ words and sat down in the simple chair that had been set up for him.
“They were cornered. So, if you flick the bait at them, they will jump on it.”
He stroked the head of the dragon that was lying on the ground beside him and then looked at Driks again, who was looking forward with joyful eyes. The vanguard troops clashed with the Principality of Lichtine’s army.
“Your Highness, Hiro. The enemy thought they had burned our rations, and morale was perfectly high. The vanguard troops alone will probably not be able to win. Above all, their numbers are different. Suppose the vanguard troops are destroyed, and the Liberation Army behind them is also defeated. In that case, their morale will rise even higher. They may use that momentum to charge at us. If that happens, it might be a little inconvenient.”
Hiro held up his left hand to interrupt Driks’ words.
“It’s not going to happen.”
“Hou… have you prepared any other plans?”
“Even if it is a winnable battle, if you are not careful, you will be caught off guard. You need to change the situation so that you have the upper hand, depending on the situation―-that is if the morale of the opponent continues to be that high.”
The Principality of Lichtine’s army is undoubtedly accumulating fatigue. What’s more, they have been set up to do so. Without giving them a break, they were constantly on edge, trying to wear down their physical strength.
“The Principality of Lichtine’s army has indeed been working hard since midnight, so I am looking forward to it.”
When Driks rubbed his chin and smiled, Hiro gave him a disturbing look and then waved his left hand. The flag bearer raises the flag. It’s the flag of the lily on a red background―the flag of the sixth princess, Liz.
Receiving the signal, the cavalry on both wings slowly began to advance. The formation of the Fourth Imperial Army is transforming without a single thread of disruption. After confirming this, the commander pulled his horse over to Hiro.
“Hiro, is it starting?”
She is a beautiful girl. Her flame-red hair suits her well. The dirty battlefield did not diminish her beauty, and she even exuded a certain elegance.
“Yes, Liz. It’s about time.”
“Liz, you have to stay here. Okay?”
She knows she doesn’t need to hear the end of it. She wants to go to the front. But if the commander moves carelessly, the chain of command will be disrupted. There are times when it is necessary to go to the front, but not now. Hiro smiled at Liz, who puffed out her cheeks as if sulking, and turned his hand to the maidservant sitting in front of her―Mirue in disguise.
“Do you plan on taking her with you to the front lines?”
“No, I can’t. I think she hates me.”
She’s been ignoring Hiro ever since she found out that it was his order to send the Liberation Army to the front. It may not be that she hates him, but she’s certainly become more cautious.
“Is that so? I think she’s just nervous because she was told that you are the descendant of the second emperor.”
Liz followed up, but Hiro didn’t hear her and thrust his arm forward. At his fingertips was a battle between the vanguard troops and the Principality of Lichtine’s army. When the Liberation Army gives the signal, have the right and left flanks head at full speed to flank them.
“What about the Principality of Lichtine’s rear? If we attack from three sides, they’ll probably run away from us.”
“We’ve prepared for that as well. There is no way out. After all, they’re already trapped from the start.”
Even before this war started, it was over when they invaded the Grantz Empire. In terms of land, military power, resources, and population, the Grantz Empire was superior. With no allies and no reinforcements, invading the empire would be the same as destroying their own country.
Whether the odds were in their favor or not, it was uncertain. The people who made the decision were all killed in battle. Hiro feels sorry for Marquis Ranquille, who was given a white feather in his cap when the ranks were thin.
(What would I do if I’m in his position…?)
I would have taken the same path as Marquis Ranquille without even thinking about it, said Hiro. In fact, he chose that path a thousand years ago. It could be said that he couldn’t even make the right choice. Anyway, retreating in such a situation will only lead to destruction. Rather than sit and wait, they should move forward and open a new path.
(Even so, it seems that the situation was not exactly the same as mine.)
The Liberation Army defeated the foolish prince, the great nobles have all fallen, and the only ones left are the nobles who can do nothing but parasitize. Despite this, Hiro appreciated his attitude of standing up to them instead of abandoning the fight.
Above all, the plan to lure the Fourth Imperial Army deep into the territory and collide them with the Liberation Army and strike them when they are exhausted―although it failed, it was a great idea.
If he had succeeded, they would have returned triumphantly to the capital by now, and he would have been celebrated as a hero once again. He would have been known throughout the world as the one who defeated the Grantz Empire.
That’s why it would be a shame to kill him. The loss of his brain is unbearable.
(It’s worth using. Still, the premise is that if he’s still alive―I won’t stick with it.)
It’s difficult to capture him alive on the battlefield, and if you insist on it, you’ll end up causing damage to yourself. If you die in this battle, it means you are no more than a dead man. At that point, there’s no choice but to give up. So Hiro has not told Liz or anyone else that he wants to capture him.
(Will the heavens let him live, or will he be killed…? Or――.)
Hiro stood up and waved his right arm to the side. A single crest flag appeared on the battlefield and flapped wide as if to sweep away the dust. It was the flag of a ruler, with a dragon’s image holding a silver and white sword on a black background.
Cheers erupted from the soldiers. It was understandable. For a thousand years, the banner had never been used. The flag was buried in history and could only be seen in books. What would happen if it were to appear in front of them in reality? The hearts of the soldiers with strong faith would be filled with excitement. Hiro smiled, grasped the handle of the “Heavenly Emperor,” and pulled it out with vigor.
The soldiers stopped cheering when they saw the silvery-white sword pointed at the heavens, and the tip of the sword turned seven colors in the sunlight.
“All troops, march!”
No rhetoric, just a statement of purpose. It was simple, and the voice was insignificant―not something that could be heard throughout the entire area.
But the voice must have been heard. The first, second, and main lines of soldiers began to clang their spears against their shields and raise their voices.
The first emperor, Altius, once said of the boy:
He is the perfect son of war.
He is the transcendent of authority.
Therefore, even though the god of war does not speak, his mere presence can move the hearts of others.
Hiro put his fingers in his collar and pulled and was released from the suffocation. It was the first time in a long time that he had been nervous about an order, and his breathing was a bit ragged. He wondered if he hadn’t done something wrong, and when he looked at Liz, her mouth was agape as she held up the “Flame Emperor” and gave instructions to the soldiers.
(It’s going well, isn’t it?)
Hiro patted his chest. The way she was acting, it seemed that she was satisfied. Just as he was relieved, a horn was blown.
The soldiers’ shouts became a profound melody, shaking the space like the roar of a dragon, and the entire army began to move forward without a stitch of hesitation. If it was supposed to be Liz, the commander, she should have done it.
“It’s Hiro’s first battle, so I’ll leave it to him. Also, since you’re going to be the center of attention, you should at least fix your sleeping habits.”
It was at a military conference before dawn that he was given a bit of motherly advice.
“Hiro, are we going to attack the enemy lines like this?”
Liz asked, interrupting his thoughts.
“No, we just need to close the distance and wait. After that…”
He stopped talking. He noticed a large cloud of dust rising from the front line.
“It looks like it’s started.”
“Yes. The end is near.”
Hiro stroked his eye patch and his smile deepened with amusement.
“I’ve given you hope; now you must know despair.”
Hiro’s hand tightened around the front as he held out his arm.
The front line―the vanguard troops of the Fourth Imperial Army―was in turmoil. The dust was blocking their view, and they were unable to grasp the situation around them.
“Damn it, what’s going on?”
As General Kylo swung his sword down, blood sprayed high into the sky from an enemy soldier’s chest plate. The enemy soldier coughed up blood and fell to the ground. He raised his sword and shouted loudly.
“Watch out for friendly fire! We’ll have better visibility in a while!”
If the enemy had penetrated this sincerely, he would have had to retreat in order to regain his footing, but General Kylo looked back behind him and gritted his teeth. He could not withdraw even if he wanted to. The Liberation Army is involved in the battle.
“If they had just stayed quiet, this wouldn’t have happened!”
In order to make it to the center, they could not afford to make any blunders, and they had to produce results, but they kept getting in the way. General Kylo flashed his sword as if to let out his anger. There were a scream and a splash of blood. The tip of the sword plunged through a gap in the enemy’s armor. The enemy soldiers were slaughtered one by one as the sword struck them at the vital points.
“Don’t underestimate me!”
He was proud of the fact that he had risen to the rank of general. He has been through numerous campaigns and battlefields. He even once wandered between life and death. Nothing is lacking as a warrior.
“Your Excellency! The enemy’s numbers are increasing! I think it would be better to retreat from here, sir!”
“We can’t afford to die here!”
“I know what I’m doing. I don’t have to tell you that, but I can’t let the slaves get in my way.”
“They are slaves, after all. No one will complain if they are killed. Why don’t we just cut down those who are in our way and create a path for ourselves?”
“However, His Highness Hiro would not forgive you if you abandoned your men, killed the slaves, and ran away.”
“In this dust, it is impossible to distinguish friend from foe. I think we should tell His Highness that.”
“Fumu, I guess that’s all we can do.”
“Unfortunately, it is impossible to give instructions in this dust… There is no choice. The main force will now leave.”
General Kylo finished with a depressed look on his face.
“Understood, sir. Then, the next is――?”
The body of the staff member who was about to take action was blown away.
“A-are you okay?”
General Kylo hurriedly approached the fallen staff member on the ground, but the arrow had pierced his head, and he was dead. Blood dripped from the tip of the arrowhead and was sucked into the sand.
“Damn… this is not good.”
At the moment―a large number of arrows came pouring down through the dust cloud. General Kylo, his face scrunched up, quickly picked up his shield and bent down, but the soldiers and staff around him could not react and fell one after another. He thought it was an attack from the enemy, but oddly enough, it came from behind them. It was hard to believe that the enemy had gone around to the back because the Liberation Army was waiting behind them. Then, the identity of this arrow was obvious. They belong to the Liberation Army.
“Do the slaves not know how to use arrows?”
When the rain of arrows stopped, General Kylo stood up, threw away his shield, and pulled out the arrow that was stuck in his arm.
“Guh―I-is there anyone here?”
As he took a step forward to walk, General Kylo stopped in his tracks. A huge body appeared in front of him. A large man with a familiar pale purple skin. In his right hand, he was holding a bloody sword. In his left hand was a spear of the Principality of Lichtine’s army.
“Why are you here?”
A large man, a demon, approached him silently.
“Say something. You were supposed to be in the back in the first place――.”
He couldn’t finish the words as to why the sword was painted with blood. A shock went through his chest. Something hot was rising in his throat. He held his mouth to endure, then pulled his chin back and looked down to see a spear piercing his body.
“Gobuh… W-what are you doing?”
Fresh blood spattered from the cracks in his fingers. General Kylo’s knees buckled as his legs relaxed, and he put his hands on the ground. A large shadow falls over General Kylo’s head. When he looked up, his bloodshot eyes were mostly agitated, but there was also a hint of frustration.
“You look distressed; can’t you breathe?”
It was impossible to tell anything from the demon’s expression. There is no joy, sorrow, anger, or sadness, just a blank stare down at General Kylo.
“It’s your own fault. You should have been a little more humble.”
The demon who pressed his sword against General Kylo’s neck said.
“I have a message for you from the One-Eyed Dragon.”
“It’s a heavy responsibility that you have recklessly incorporated uncoordinated slaves into your troops in your desire for achievement, causing unnecessary confusion in the army, and to add to that, your repeated violations of military discipline up to now are outrageous. Therefore, you are hereby demoted.”
General Kylo, who had been forced to bear the full brunt of the war’s disgraceful consequences.
He opened his mouth to speak, but he didn’t seem to be able to utter a single word of resentment, and only frothy blood spilled.
“Goodbye. General Kylo―or was it a second class officer?”
Unable to beg for his life, unable to utter a curse, General Kylo’s head danced in a tail of fresh blood high in the sky. The demon who threw away his sword―Ghada, turned his back on the corpse and joined the mercenary group that was waiting for him at a remote location. He pulled on the reins of the camel that had been prepared for him, and as he jumped on its back, he opened his mouth.
“Let’s get out of here. Our task is over.”
“Why don’t we just run away?”
“Yes, but we’ll have to make a spectacular escape.”
“Give me a break!”
“Then… I will leave it to you. All right, then. Sound the drum.”
“Whoa! Let’s get out of here! Follow my lead!”
The camel that Ghada was riding took off at full speed. The mercenaries also followed, trying to stay close. The slave infantry, noticing the sound of the drums, began to disperse as quickly as possible.
“Don’t shake your ass too much at the Principality of Lichtine’s army! They have no regard for men or women!”
The mercenary ran alongside Ghada, surrounded by vulgar laughter that lacked any sense of tension.
“How is it? I’m sure it’s pretty good.”
“…It’s very much like a mercenary group.”
Ghada sighed in annoyance. Then he looked at the place where the Fourth Imperial Army’s main camp was located. He had done everything that needed to be done. All that remains is to wait for the final touches.
The hero of the Principality of Lichtine, Ranquille, might have noticed this by now.
“I named him the One-Eyed Dragon, but… might as well be the Hero Eater.”
If the whole story of this war is known, the neighboring countries will surely be shaken.
“In any case. Let’s just focus on getting away for now.”
If they don’t escape before the dust clears, their lives will be in jeopardy. The dust this time was created by Ghada.
“With the Demon Emperor’s Sword… there was no need to worry about the depletion of magic power.”
Now that he had been abandoned, it had become difficult to sustain it. The depletion of magic power will not kill him, but it will make him faint. If someone were to fall asleep in the middle of a battlefield like this, it would be directly related to death.
“Well, I’ve done my job. Now let’s just relax.”
He snorted, thinking of the boy’s scornful face.