It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (21/63), enjoy~
It was evening, and the sky was overcast, and it was starting to rain. The temperature had begun to drop rapidly due to the cold air blowing from the Travant Mountains.
The soldiers who had been preparing the bonfires stared at the sky with resentment and covered the coals with tanned leather to keep them dry. They were not the only ones in a panic. The soldiers who had been preparing the meal were also busy moving around now that the fire was out.
This was the main camp of the Felzen remnants, three cells (nine kilometers) away from Fort Mitte.
A woman was awake in a tent pitched in the center of the camp.
Haran Skaaha de Felzen.
Her face was pale and lifeless as if she was in poor health. As her eyes wandered aimlessly, she noticed the presence of a man standing in the doorway.
“Skaaha-sama, you’re awake…”
The man who breathed a sigh of relief was Rach de Fairtra. He was a former commander of the royal guard when the Felzen family was still alive and well.
“I was worried that you might not wake up anymore…”
“I see… I must have passed out…”
Skaaha remembered something and slipped out of her bedding, holding her aching head.
“You should still rest. First, you need to eat and regain your strength.”
Rach approached her in a panic, but Skaaha stopped him with her hand.
“I need to get some fresh air. I’d rather see the results with my own eyes.”
Rach tried to lend a hand to Skaaha as she hobbled toward the doorway, but she refused, saying that her pride would not allow it. And once outside, she took in the fresh air into her lungs and turned her head to look around.
“…It seems that we still haven’t managed to bring down Fort Mitte.”
She looked up and saw a solid fort standing in the drizzle.
“We started our offensive after that, but unexpectedly, their command system was not disrupted, and we could not take advantage of the opportunity. I am truly sorry for wasting the opportunity that Skaaha-sama risked her life to create!”
“No, the one to praise is the enemy’s commander. As expected, the “War Maiden” is a great military strategist, just as the rumors say ― or even better than the rumors say.”
A blue spear appears in the right hand of Skaaha, who spoke in a self-mocking manner. Despite the sudden appearance, there is no surprise on the face of Rach, who is standing behind her. It’s a familiar sight for him, probably.
“Skaaha-sama, please don’t use that kind of power anymore.”
Rach closed the distance between them with a hint of anger in his voice.
“The side effect is that you will lose consciousness, which will also shorten your life span.”
“I know that… but I couldn’t resist seeing that man.”
Rach frowned suspiciously, and Skaaha gave him a sad look.
“Booze von Krone.”
Skaaha only told the name briefly, and Rach gnashed his back teeth.
The blood dripped from his tightly clenched fists and melted into the mud. His eyes were bloodshot, and his breathing was ragged, but he was still trying desperately to control himself.
“Even you would react in such a way. Then how could I possibly control my anger?”
Skaaha’s long eyelashes trembled as she looked up at the cloudy sky and shed a single tear.
“It was the man who had betrayed my father and tortured my mother and brothers to death, and my mind went blank.”
Skaaha did not see Felzen’s demise in her eyes. She was studying in the Six Kingdoms to the west under royal orders. She tried many times to return to the country in times of crisis, but her aides stopped her, and she was unable to do so. The king ordered her, and so she was asked to endure.
However, when Felzen was destroyed, the Six Kingdoms, which had been on friendly terms with her, felt that it was dangerous to keep Skaaha around and sent her away. And what awaited her on her return was a harsh reality.
The royal capital, which had been famous in the surrounding countries for its beautiful cityscape, was in a state of ruin. Burnt houses lined the streets, the stench of corpses polluted the air, and the people were oppressed like slaves by the Grantz soldiers.
The end of a defeated nation ― it was not something Skaaha could bear.
“If I had not met you there, I would have recklessly fought the Grantz army alone.”
A desire for revenge drove Skaaha, but Rach, who had infiltrated the city, stopped her and saved her. After that, she was told the details of what the royal family had been through.
Her mother, the queen, sacrificed herself to Booze Von Krone to rescue her younger brothers, and her father gave up his head in exchange for the safety of his people. But the man did not keep his promise; he chopped off the heads of her brothers in front of her mother and then, of course, tortured her to death as she cried out in front of their bodies.
“How much pain my brothers, my mother must be in, I hear them night after night asking me to avenge them. My mother and brothers come to me in dreams, begging me to kill that man.”
The sound of the rain drowned out Skaaha’s sobs. But the anger would not go away, and the fires raged behind her tear-stained eyes.
“I can’t let that man get away with this.”
In order to avenge her mother and brothers, she decided to lead the Felzen Remnant Army. She swore to her late father and brothers that she would drive the Grantz Empire out of Felzen’s territory.
“But you held back well when you captured the Sixth Princess. I thought you would chop off her head.”
Rach’s words made Skaaha raise her eyebrows unhappily.
“I am a member of the honorable Felzen royal family. I have no taste for killing women and children like the Grantz imperial family.”
She said in a dignified tone and then continued to tell Rach about her concerns.
“But what do you think about leaving the sixth princess in the hands of the Grand Duchy of Dral?”
“It would be better to take her into our custody, but considering the current state of our military, it would be painful to have the Grand Duchy of Dral pull out. I think we have no choice but to endure.”
“I don’t like that man. In addition, even without my feelings, I feel that it is dangerous to cooperate with that man. There is a strong possibility that he is planning to use us for his own purposes.”
Rach put his hand on his chin and snorted as if it didn’t ring a bell.
“Skaaha-sama, are you trying to tell me that the reason why Pupchen-dono offered to cooperate with us is not just to get credit for solidifying his position in the Grand Duchy of Dral?”
“Yeah, it was a small discomfort at first, but… now that suspicion is growing stronger.”
Skaaha questioned, reaching out from behind the tent to feel the light rain.
“Why did Pupchen-dono have to cooperate with us?”
“Because he signed an armistice with the Steichen Republic. He could not immediately break the agreement and invade, and the quickest way to silence the rebellious nobles would be to make a name for himself in Felzen.”
“That said, it would be foolish to challenge the Grantz Empire in battle.”
“That’s true, but I think it’s natural to think that he didn’t have much of choice.”
“Do you really think that a man who is vulnerable to the opposition of the nobles would go to such lengths to destroy his country?”
“That is certainly… the case. Then, perhaps, someone is behind Pupchen-dono.”
Rach nodded deeply as if he was convinced but then turned his face to Skaaha with a look of surprise.
“Could it be that the Six Kingdoms are pulling strings behind the scenes?”
Six Kingdoms is a confederation of six nations ― located in a land called Krim in the west of the Felzen region. The Six Kingdoms, with a unified king at the top, and his bloodline ruling the other nations, are engaged in a daily political battle to become the next unified king, competing with each other to increase their own power through various means.
“Maybe or maybe not. We don’t know for sure…”
All things are conveniently going in favor of the Six Kingdoms.
For example, suppose Felzen’s remnants are victorious. In that case, the Six Kingdoms will extend a helping hand despite the fact that they kicked out Skaaha. It’s hard to say whether they have the strength left to fight it off, and there’s a high possibility that the Six Kingdoms will ravage the land they’ve reclaimed again.
Even if the Grantz Empire is victorious, the combined forces of the Six Kingdoms will be able to wipe out the exhausted western nobility from the Felzen region in the blink of an eye. If the two countries start a war, the battlefield will be in Felzen, and the Six Kingdoms will not suffer any damage to their territory, and if all goes well, they will be able to cut off the western part of the Grantz Empire.
“And the Grand Duchy of Dral’s offer of cooperation was too good to be true.”
To tell the truth, it was the Felzen remnants who should have lost at that time. The only thing to be feared is the “War Maiden”‘s talent.
At that time, she had used herself as a decoy. She holed herself up in Fort Mitte and pretended to be isolated in order to round up the Felzen remnant army.
Lured by this, Skaaha gathered all her forces, which had been hiding underground and waging a guerrilla war, into one place. By the time she realized she had been outmaneuvered, it was too late, and Celia Estrella, the sixth princess, had launched a pincer attack.
“But the Grand Duchy of Dral was able to get behind the Sixth Princess Celia Estrella, and we managed to win the battle without being wiped out. We may have missed the War Maiden, but we certainly managed to survive.”
“And now we are in a position where we have no choice but to cooperate with the Grand Duchy of Dral, and we cannot even demand the extradition of Celia Estrella, the Sixth Princess?”
“Yes. Maybe Pupchen-dono is trying to use the sixth princess as a bargaining chip with the Six Kingdoms. Or perhaps he is planning to hand over the land of Felzen as a souvenir.”
It is not out of the realm of expectation, but it is better to keep it in the corner of the mind.
“It is possible that even this is part of the Grantz Empire’s plan.”
Rach sighed, relaxing his brows at the difficult look on Skaaha’s face.
“I’m just trying to bring peace to Felzen, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be easy anymore.”
Skaaha nodded her head in silence. At first, it seemed simple enough. It was supposed to be a simple matter of expelling the Grantz Empire from Felzen. But even if it were accomplished, the chaos would not be contained, and a new battle might have been called for.
“But even if that had been the case, it might not have made much difference to the current situation.”
As soon as she realized it, various thoughts enveloped Felzen. The darkness is so deep that it tangles and complicates a single rope, making it impossible to unravel.
“The rain may have stopped, but it will never clear my mind.”
Skaaha looked up into the sky and saw a ray of light shining through the clouds. The more she thought about it, the more she felt like she was falling into the depths.
“It can’t be helped… Let’s prioritize Booze von Krone’s head first.”
Skaaha, looking at Fort Mitte, where the “War Maiden” is caged, just before her thoughts became cloudy, slapped both her cheeks, and regained her composure.
“The only way is to proceed steadily, step by step.”
“That’s right. Let’s put the future aside for the moment. We’ll talk about it when we reach our goal.”
“The situation is such that we don’t know what will happen. I want to capture Fort Mitte as soon as possible.”
Various countries, such as the Grantz Empire, the Grand Duchy of Dral, and the Six Kingdoms, have their hands in the Felzen region. In such a situation, she can’t just leisurely deal with the “War Maiden.”