It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (25/63), enjoy~
Chapter 4 – Wrath of The God of War
November 17th, the 1023rd year of the Imperial Calendar.
Twenty thousand troops led by the second son of the Grand Duchy of Dral ― Hunthaven ― entered the Feine Fortress, three cells (nine kilometers) away from where Hiro had set up their main camp.
The fact that they haven’t attacked even though they’ve been monitoring them suggests that they’re either watching the situation or are just being cautious, but either way, they’ve certainly been given time to think ― And now, Hiro was sitting alone in the chair at the command center, pondering what to do.
Hiro tilted his head and opened one eye. The voice sounded familiar, but he was startled by the respectful tone of it.
Looking at the entrance of the command center, he saw Ghada standing there, just as he had imagined. However, there were only a few times when he would be condescending to Hiro. It was only when he was surrounded by soldiers or in the presence of dignitaries or royalty.
On either side of him are the siblings Hugin and Munin. And behind them was the cause of Ghada’s serious behavior.
He was an unfamiliar figure, but from the way he was dressed, he wasn’t wearing the uniform of the Grantz Army. His appearance suggested that he was from another country.
Perhaps because Hiro didn’t react, Ghada bowed low again and let out a low voice.
“Your Highness, Hiro Schwartz, a messenger from the Grand Duchy of Dral has arrived.”
I see, said Hiro… Hiro allowed him to enter with some surprise.
“Excuse me. I am a general in the Grand Duchy of Dral. Exe von Martina. I am Hunthaven-sama’s vassal and have been admitted to the lowest ranks.”
As soon as he entered the tent, the man on one knee on the ground hung his head reverently.
“It is an honor to meet Your Highness Hiro Schwartz von Grantz, the fourth prince of the Grantz Empire, whose valor is well known even in this remote region.”
“Please raise your head. We’re indeed an enemy now, but we’re on equal footing.”
By the way… Hiro continued.
“What does General Exe want with me?”
Hiro told him briefly, and then Exe nodded sternly and widely and stood up.
“The other day, I believe you captured several noblemen from the Grand Duchy of Dral.”
“Yes, there are indeed some of them among the captives.”
“Would you please return them to us so that we can pay the ransom?”
A sheet of folded paper is handed to Hiro by Exe.
Hiro raised one eyebrow as he unfolded it with a dubious look on his face. The ransom is quite a bit of money written on it. No matter how much they want to get their own nobles back, they can’t just offer this amount of money to one person for whatever reason…
“We will have it for you by tomorrow. Until then, we will not launch any attacks from our side.”
Above all, he seems to be a courageous man to come into the enemy camp alone.
“Your Highness Hiro Schwartz, what is your response?”
It also showed that he had been trusted a lot. In addition to the amount of money, the letter also stated that if the messenger suffered even a single wound, they would immediately launch an attack.
Now, what’s in it for them, and why would they want to pay such a high ransom to get their nobles back?
Hiro, who had been studying General Exe’s expression, suddenly realized.
The coat of arms on the general’s chest was the same as the large flag that had been covered in mud during the recent battle. And given that he was serving the second son.
“General Exe, is that the coat of arms of Hunthaven-dono?”
When Hiro pointed to his chest, Exe wrinkled his brow in displeasure at being sidetracked. However, he nodded honestly, as if he felt that ignoring it was not a good idea.
“Yes. This is the coat of arms of my master, Hunthaven-sama; what is this about?”
“No, I’ve seen it a few times before.”
Something flashed in his mind. The noblemen who were captured ― the large flag that they were carrying was the same as the one on Exe’s chest ― probably belonged to a faction that supported the second son.
If that’s the case ― their faction will be weakened if they are taken to the Grantz Empire as hostages. For the faction that supports Hunthaven, this is not something they can ignore.
That’s why they are trying to get the nobles back by giving a large amount of money here.
“Unfortunately, we can’t return them to you.”
Exe was blatantly dismayed by these words and approached Hiro, his face turning red.
“Why? Do you think this amount of money is unacceptable?”
“If you come any closer to His Highness Hiro, I will have you thrown out.”
Exe tried to close in on him but was held back by Ghada and Munin on his way.
It was fortuitous. Hiro stroked his eye patch and deepened his smile; it was a good decision to let him live instead of killing him.
“I think such important matters should be decided between the commanders.”
“You mean you want me to bring Hunthaven-sama to this place? I don’t think that’s possible. There is no way we can do that because he could be harmed. And that is why I have come on his behalf!”
Hiro pointed his hand at Exe, who raised his voice to silence him.
“I never said anything about that. I’ll come to your place myself.”
Even Exe made a dumb face as if unable to keep his mouth shut.
When he became silent, Exe looked straight at Hiro as if trying to read his thoughts. Then, as if unable to realize anything, he sighed deeply, as if giving up.
“I just want to ask you one question… Are you insane?”
Hiro covered his mouth with his hand to hold back his laughter and shook his head.
“Yes, I’m quite sane… Is there something wrong with that?”
Exe’s face dropped as he pondered, and then he turned to him with a puzzled look on his face.
“It is not possible for me to decide on such a serious matter on my own. I apologize, but I would like to return to Fort Fiene to consult with Hunthaven-sama.”
“I don’t mind, but can you give me a reply by this evening?”
“Understood. Then, I will be leaving as soon as possible.”
Exe, who had bowed low, walked out of the tent in a hurry.
Then, Ghada gave Hiro a sharp look.
“Do you want to kill yourself? You want to go into a place filled with enemies all by yourself?”
“Yes… Is there something wrong with that…?”
“Wise brother is indeed strong and handsome, but I think you’re being too reckless this time…”
“That’s right. Why don’t you at least take an escort with you?”
Hugin and Munin also made a complaint. Hiro didn’t argue but shrugged his shoulders.
Ghada brushed his fingers across his brow to relieve his fatigue.
“I can understand that the capture of the sixth princess is distracting you, but this time it is too dangerous, even for you, One-Eyed Dragon. There are 20,000 opponents. You can’t kill them all, can you?”
The air was not conducive to joking about challenging one’s limits.
All three of them were giving Hiro a serious look. He could see that they were genuinely concerned about his well-being. If that’s the case, he would have to convey his sincere feelings to them.
Hiro sighed and confided his true feelings.
“To be honest, there is a part of me that wants to rush. I think I’m being reckless. But I can’t take any more time. If you ask me why, I can only say that I have a feeling… So please don’t ask me any questions.”
“But the enemy will always bare their fangs at you. What if you are captured in the same way as the sixth princess?”
“They may be willing to negotiate with me face to face. If they try to capture me, I’ll come back with Hunthaven’s and Exe’s heads.”
“If you insist so much, there is no point in trying to persuade you, is there?”
“Sorry. I’m just stubborn like that.”
Hiro said, and Ghada sat down on a nearby chair, crossed his arms, and quietly closed his eyes. He looked unhappy, indicating that he was not convinced, but he seemed to have given up trying to convince Hiro.
Hiro feels sorry for him, but this is the only thing he can’t give up…
And Hugin, with her eyebrows furrowed, approached the determined Hiro.
“You should be really careful. I’ll be ready to move quickly if anything happens to you.”
“I’ll be counting on you then.”
But Hiro was confident that he would succeed in this negotiation.
The Grand Duchy of Dral would think that Hiro might be planning to barge in. So he must go and correct that mistake.
(I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to feed them all my schemes.)
Hiro narrowed his eyes ferociously and spread his lips into a crescent shape. His face is that of a scheming military strategist and a predator who is out to get his prey.
Yes, a snake indeed.
A moment later, Hiro received a messenger ― not from Exe, but from a high-ranking official of the Grand Duchy of Dral.
“Your Highness, Hiro Schwartz, they have come for you.”
“Heh… so can I assume that they’ve set up a negotiating table?”
“Your Highness, Hiro Schwartz, I am here to welcome you. Please leave the safety of the road to me.”
It’s a bit unreasonable to be at ease with an escort provided by the enemy.
When Hiro had a complicated look on his face, Ghada whispered to Hiro.
“Be careful out there. I’ll be ready to fight in case something happens to you.”
“Yeah. Take care of the rest.”
“Your Highness, Hiro Schwartz. Are you ready?”
“Yes, let’s go.”
At the invitation of the high-ranking official, Hiro climbed into the carriage that had been prepared for him.
By the time Ghada and the others had seen him off, the sun was setting over the undulating horizon. The carriage continued to drive along the streets, relying on the faint reddish light.
Soon, the encampment of the Dral army came into view.
The soldiers who had not been able to enter the fort seemed to be camped outside, chatting with wooden bowls in their hands, perhaps because it was mealtime. He could see enthusiastic figures working hard on their training and cleaning their armor. As he approached Fort Feine, the peaceful atmosphere gradually began to give way to a noisy scene.
“What an enthusiastic welcome! I suppose they won’t let me leave if the negotiations fail.”
The soldiers were lined up in a line across the road where the carriages ran. In their hands, their sharpened weapons emitted a dull glow, and they were heavily armed, determined not to let him leave.
Eventually, when Hiro reached the main gate of Fort Feine, he was dropped off from the carriage in front of the gate alone.
A groan arose from the soldiers on the watchtower of the fort. They probably didn’t think Hiro would actually come. Everyone was staring at him with wide eyes.
(I see some of them are hiding behind the breastworks with their bows at the ready. It’s an insurance policy in case I escape.)
Then, looking over his shoulder, he saw a line of heavily armed infantrymen with spears at the ready. The air was so tense that a battle would start immediately if he made even the slightest noise.
In the midst of such tension, the gate opened, and a person appeared with an offering.
With Exe at his back, the man was quite obese. His arms and legs are short, and his belly is as bulky as an ogre. His personality, judging from his plump face, seems kind at best and unreliable at worst. He is probably Hunthaven, the second son of the Grand Duchy of Dral.
“I-I’m surprised you’re actually coming.”
“I am Hiro Schwartz von Grantz from the Grantz Empire.”
He smiled cheerfully and held out his hand, saying that he would be pleased to make his acquaintance.
“I-it’s my pleasure! I am Hunthaven von Dral of the Grand Duchy of Dral!”
Hiro noticed that Hunthaven’s hand was trembling slightly the moment they shook hands, but he pretended not to notice and smiled at him.
“So, if you don’t mind me asking, would you like to negotiate?”
“Y-yes. It’s not the right place, so please come inside the fort.”
He was about to get behind Hunthaven, who had turned on his heel when someone intervened.
“I apologize, but I can’t let anything happen to him.”
Exe said, gripping the hilt of the sword at his waist. As a matter of course, Hiro just nodded and followed them.
As soon as they went through the main gate, the wind pressure hit Hiro from behind. The back of his hair fell into disarray, and the hem of his “Black Princess Camellia” flapped wildly.
“…What does this mean?”
Hiro turned around and checked that the gate was closed for the time being.
Then, when he looked at the scenery around him again, he saw that the soldiers who had been hiding behind the castle walls had begun to surround him with long spears. As he looked up, he saw that there were hundreds of arrows pointing at him from the breastworks.
“Y-Your Highness, Hiro Schwartz, let’s negotiate here.”
“That’s fine. First, let’s hear your demands.”
“As long as you don’t resist, we won’t treat you harshly. You’ll be a hostage for me to get my men back.”
Hiro’s response was unexpected, and Hunthaven was surprised and widened his eyes.