Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
October 16, 1023rd year of the Imperial Calendar.
A storm of tyranny was brewing in the southern part of the Levering Kingdom ― mainly in the outskirts of Halm.
The rebel army led by Fraus was merciless. They plundered, slaughtered, burned every scattered village, and cruelly destroyed the city.
The men were thoroughly tortured, the fleeing women became an outlet for their lust, and even the children were no exception, having their heads cut off in front of their parents and left to rot in the ground.
The stench of decay covers the southern part of the country, and once again, a village is being burned to the ground today. Houses were burning down, and black smoke rose from the fields, mixing with the stench of death and rising to the sky.
Small flames smoldered around the houses, which were filled with burnt people.
“If we were a slave nation, we’d take the women back with us.”
“You needn’t worry about that. There are still plenty of women in the south. In fact, you might as well worry about them dying out.”
The soldiers spoke their thoughts amidst a swirl of vulgar laughter here and there. Their hands were clogged with plunder. The soldiers strolled through the village, listening to the screams of the women as if they owned the place.
“I never thought we’d be able to plunder the south.”
“It’s true that the people in the south have a lot of human blood, but they are still citizens of the same country. More importantly, the southern part is ruled by one of the three demon generals, Haniel.”
“He was the same three demon generals as Baal-sama. But, even though they’re the same, he was no match for the wisdom of Baal-sama. I’m glad I sided with the crown prince Fraus.”
After laughing at each other, the soldiers stopped in their tracks. A horse came galloping up from the front. A blue cloth was wrapped around its arm, the sign of a messenger.
The horse neighed and came to a stop in front of the soldiers, sending up a cloud of dust.
“Join the main army at once! This is a strict order from the crown prince Fraus!”
The soldiers looked at each other and grumbled as they lifted their shoulders.
“That’s bullshit. The reconnaissance mission is not over yet.”
“Yeah. We’re not scheduled for return yet, are we?”
It was no wonder they were complaining. It’s only the second day since they were plundered in the name of reconnaissance.
“You’ve been told to join up by tomorrow! I don’t care if you don’t listen to the orders, but be prepared for your heads to fall to the ground in return!”
The messenger turned his horse’s head back to the road he had come from and galloped off over the horizon, his horses’ hooves echoing.
“What the hell was that all about?”
“Damn it. I haven’t had enough of this yet.”
“It’s no use. Let’s go scavenge for a woman who hasn’t been killed yet.”
The soldiers dumped their loot on the ground and walked in the direction of the screaming women.
A day away from the burned down village was the main camp of the rebel army. In the center of the camp were a flashy tent and the flag of the Kingdom of Levering fluttering in the wind.
Once inside, after passing through the tight security, Baal, one of the three demon generals, and his advisors were holding a military council.
“Seven villages, two cities, men’s heads chopped off and lined up on the city walls, every inhabitant, women, and children, killed. The inhabitants of the surrounding villages and towns are said to be so frightened that they are moving south as refugees.”
As one of the staff members announced, the surrounding staff members were at a loss for words as they heard the insurgents’ rampage reports. In the midst of this, one of the unit commanders shook his voice.
“Isn’t this too much? This will turn the south into a wilderness. It will be a problem in the future.”
“We’ve ordered all reconnaissance units to return. Let’s make sure they refrain from doing so from now on.”
Baal responded by waving his hand lightly in an annoyed manner. The staff member, perhaps irritated by the gesture, raised his voice.
“What do you think you’re doing, hurting your own people?”
“We have no choice but to do so for the sake of future operations. Although the casualties were a little high.”
“…What is the purpose of this operation?”
When asked by the staff officer, Baal sighed in exasperation.
“What do you think will happen if those who have lost their homes move south?”
This is the southern part of the kingdom of Levering, but another 60 cells (180 km) to the south connects to the eastern part of the Great Empire of Grantz. The chased people will go south to the east, not to the north of the Grantz Empire, where the rebel army will invade after pacifying the south.
“That will be accepted by the Eastern nobles.”
“There. That is my purpose.”
Baal stood up from his chair and grabbed the edge of his hood to increase the shadows hiding his face.
“If it were someone unrelated to them, they might treat them with disregard, but they are our longtime allies. They will not have the option of not accepting the refugees.”
Baal began to place the pieces on the map spread out on the desk.
“Humans need sustenance to survive. Food, clothing, and shelter are all essential. However, when the number of people increases rapidly, the stored gold, silver, and food must be unloaded. Inevitably, there will be discord. Those who have lived in the region since the beginning will feel uncomfortable with the refugees.”
What they had labored so hard to deliver to their lords was being devoured by those who had come from other lands.
Exactly ― it was an invasion without malice.
When discontent turns to hatred and resentment is directed at the ruler, there is no stopping it when it explodes. The beginning of a rebellion, a civil war in a great country can destroy a country in either direction.
“The Grantz Empire is powerful. It has a large population. That’s what makes it so deadly.”
Rebellions broke out all over the country in a chain reaction. The dissatisfaction that had built up over the years spread throughout the Grantz Empire. Then they can take advantage of the chaos to invade the north and chip away at the territory.
“That’s why we plundered. A massacre for that. It’s like an example. The purpose is to show them how horrible we are so that it will be easier for us to conquer the north later.”
However, even after listening to the explanation, the anxiety on the faces of the staff and unit commanders could not be removed.
“There must be people who can read our moves, and there will be nobles in the East who will not accept refugees.”
“That would be a blessing in disguise. If the refugees are forced on each other, there will be discord among the nobles.”
Baal thrust a small sword into the desk.
“A wedge will be driven in. Become like the Grantz Empire, which thinks it stands at the top of the world.”
The staff fell silent at the spirit that Baal had unleashed.
“This is the end of the military council. We will reopen the meeting when the reconnaissance unit returns. Stand by until then.”
Baal looked at the people around the table and then left the command center.
He was now headed for a place not too far away: the tent of Fraus. The soldier on guard, recognizing Baal, stepped back to make way for him.
Once Baal was inside, a strange smell clung to his nose. The room was filled with a foul odor that would have made any normal person nauseous. The smell came from the center of the room, from a bunk wrapped in clean sheets.
In the middle of the room, there was the changed figure of Fraus, his face pale and discolored.
“Oh… Isn’t it Lord Bitenia? What happened?”
Fraus, who noticed Baal’s presence, raised his upper body. However, he immediately lost his strength and looked up at the ceiling. Baal quietly approached and looked down at Fraus, who continued to breathe raggedly.
“Don’t worry, everything is fine.”
“I-is that so…?”
He was a young man, full of life, but now he had wrinkles all over his face, and his body was emaciated like an old man. It’s not even a week since the king’s murder. The abnormality occurred three days ago, when he collapsed in the middle of a military council, coughing up blood.
He became thinner and thinner from then on, and every part of his body was slowly rotting away. He had also lost his right eye, and the sight in his remaining left eye was fading. Now he can’t even stand by himself.
Thus ― Baal laughed. The good thing is that he can’t see, so he breaks his creepy purple lips into a crescent shape and shakes his throat.
And then ― Fraus’s chapped lips moved.
“Where’s Claudia? Have you found her yet?”
“No. We haven’t heard anything yet.”
“Oh… what is she doing when her brother is in this state?”
Tears flowed from Fraus’ eyes. He raised his hand, which was rotting away, and only three fingers remained.
“Lord Bitenia… bring Claudia to me. I need her power.”
“Oh ― Fraus-sama. You must not move. Your fingers will fall off again.”
Baal was about to burst out laughing, so he shoved his hand into his mouth and struggled to hold back his laughter.
“Leave Princess Claudia to me and take today’s medicine.”
The careless lifting of Fraus’s head elicited a kind of scream from his mouth, but it was not loud enough to be heard outside, and no one appeared to help Fraus. After a few moments of watching Fraus’ face contort in extreme pain, Baal reached into his own pocket.
He took out a small golden vial and brought the tip of the bottle to Fraus’ mouth.
“Here, drink it. Bitterness will become sweetness, the pain will become a pleasure, and anxiety will become hope.”
“Oh, goh! Guboh!”
A strange liquid was poured into Fraus’ mouth.
“We must surrender ourselves to our King. And we will surely be blessed.”
The cold darkness was gathering. The air was thick and stagnant and swirling. In this isolated world, Fraus continued to suffer and struggle.