It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (28/63), enjoy~
November 20th, 1023rd year of the Imperial Calendar.
The Dral army that had been marching into the Felzen region had returned to the outskirts of Fort Feine. It took them only two days of a forced march to get there. It was a miraculous march that showed their determination to protect their country.
But the price was high. The ranks were in disarray, the formation was broken up, and the army was divided. Of the 20,000 soldiers in the Dral army, only 5,000 were able to keep up with the main army.
At the head of the line was the carriage carrying the commander, Puppchen.
“Perhaps we should take a rest somewhere?”
A passenger advised him. Puppchen, who was lying on the sofa, unpleasantly twisted his nose and glared at the passenger.
“You don’t need to worry about it. The enemy numbers are only five thousand, after all.”
“If the Dral nobles were on the defensive, their number would be reduced considerably.”
“Then there is nothing to worry about.”
Puppchen pulled out a basket under his seat, grabbed an apple from it, and bit into it with vigor.
“Do you want some?”
Puppchen offered it to the passenger, but he shook his head in refusal.
“In the first place, I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to be here, is it?”
“That’s why you should be leaving as soon as possible. It’s not safe for you to come any closer to that man.”
At those words, Puppchen snorted, threw his half-eaten apple on the floor, and opened his mouth as if he suddenly remembered.
“Oh… what did you call yourselves again…? Was it the Eye of the Black Death or something?”
“We don’t appreciate such mistakes. We are the Secret Neck.”
“That’s right, that’s right. I hear you’ve got some pretty good people in your group.”
Puppchen even took out a bottle of wine and brought it to his lips without preparing a glass.
This is the best way to drink, Puppchen said with a low laugh.
“I can’t stay with you any longer. If you’ll excuse me, I have some business to attend to.”
The man who called himself the “Secret Neck” walked out of the door without a sound.
From outside, the noisy voices of the guards could be heard. It was early in the morning, just after dawn, and a man like that would have been conspicuous. Puppchen snickered at the fact that there was a flamboyant group of secret agents.
“But the Grantz Empire, how could they abandon them so easily?”
Puppchen smashed the wine bottle on the floor in frustration. The glass splattered with a loud crash and grazed his arm, causing a shallow cut. His shoulders heaved up and down as he exhaled wildly.
“Puppchen-sama, we have confirmed that the Grantz army has surrounded Fort Feine.”
A report came from outside in a panicked voice.
“How many were they?”
“About three thousand.”
“We’re going to slow down the main army and join up with the detached troops as we head for Fort Fiene. First, form an advance team to attack the Grantz army.”
“Very well, sir. I will notify each unit commander.”
The morning chill is so intense that it blows away the sleepiness. Puppchen pulled the blanket over his head, complaining about the cold.
“Damn you, Hunthaven, for bothering me with a mere three thousand enemies.”
He had thought that a large army had invaded the city because of the call for help.
“What’s with that Descendant of the God of War? Don’t he have any shame in dancing around with a title like that?”
In this case, he wished he had stayed behind in the Felzen region with only about 5,000 troops. Then, by this time, he should have had the sixth princess in his hands.
“It was a shame, after all. I shouldn’t have let her go. If that woman hadn’t interfered… everything would have been perfect.”
She was a disgusting, chivalrous woman.
He regretted that he should have taken the remnants of Felzen’s army by surprise and taken back the sixth princess instead of retreating quietly. However, it’s not too late. He can go back and annihilate the Felzen remnant army from now on… Pupchen thought about this, but then he felt a presence on the other side of the window.
“The Grantz army has begun to retreat from Fort Feine.”
“What? Did the advance troops alone finish the battle?”
“No, the Grantz army escaped without a fight…”
He noticed a hint of confusion in the voice of the messenger. Puppchen did not understand what was going on but opened the window in the carriage.
Looking out of the window, he could see black shadows moving in a cloud of dust from Fort Feine. That’s the “Raven Army” that people have been talking about lately… He had heard that it was a ruthless, devilish army.
“It’s a shame that they’re running away without a fight.”
If this is the end, it’s a disappointment. He didn’t know what he was coming back for. What’s more, where did the descendants of the God of War go, and weren’t they always unbeatable?
“Rumors tend to become exaggerated, after all.”
He closed the window and sat down in the carriage, muttering, “Boring.”
“We’ll continue on our way to Fort Feine. I have to reprimand my useless brother.”
Eventually, Fort Feine came into view. An encampment had been set up around it. The fire was still burning, and the pots and pans had been thrown away, indicating that the Raven Army had fled in a hurry.
“Hmm, this kind of scenery makes me feel like I’m getting stronger.”
As the sun rose above his head, Puppchen reached the main gate of Fort Feine. A gentle breeze was blowing on the ground, and the morning dew on the grass and flowers was glistening in the sunlight.
The march of the Dral army had stopped, and after some time had passed, Puppchen noticed something strange.
“Hey, are the gates still not open?”
He turned his irritated voice outward, and a soldier came over with a puzzled look on his face.
“That’s… I’ve been calling out to them repeatedly, but…”
“What the hell does that Hunthaven think he’s doing?”
Puppchen dismounted from the carriage to see if he could go to him directly. His aides, who recognized his appearance, dismounted and followed him in a panic. If they were to mount their horses and chase after Puppchen while he was on foot, lightning would surely strike.
If they provoked the anger of the future Archduke, he might confiscate their lands. It was with a sense of self-preservation that they followed Puppchen.
“Hunthaven! Open the gates; your brother has returned to help his unworthy brother!”
Looking at his brother’s heraldic banners lined up on the breastworks, Puppchen’s feet hit the ground repeatedly in frustration. Given the presence of soldiers on guard, it was unlikely that there was no one there.
“Hey, what are you doing? Why don’t you just open the gate! Do you want to get your head chopped off!”
Sensing Puppchen’s anger, his aides turned pale. They, too, appealed desperately for the gates to be opened.
Eventually, a man appeared on the watchtower.
“Welcome back, Puppchen-sama.”
The man bowed his head reverently, but his hood hid his face, so it was impossible to read his expression. The only thing that could be discerned from his voice was that he was a young man.
“Who are you?”
“I’m the chamberlain to Hunthaven-sama.”
“What the hell is he doing? Why doesn’t he come directly to me?”
“Huntthaven-sama is ill.”
“What? I didn’t read anything about that in his letter the other day.”
“It was only yesterday, so it’s not surprising that Puppchen-sama didn’t know.”
“If that’s the case, it can’t be helped. Open the gate so that I can visit Hunthaven.”
Puppchen tried to end the conversation, but the hooded man did not move an inch.
“What happened to the sixth princess?”
“Why should I tell you such a thing? It doesn’t matter; just open the gate!”
“I’ll ask you again. What happened to the sixth princess?”
This guy is ridiculous. Didn’t he know who he was talking to? The aides are swearing at one another.
There’s no need to inform every last soldier about the sixth princess. Puppchen, who had made that decision, remained silent but shook his shoulders in annoyance.
“Puppchen-sama, are you not going to answer about the sixth princess?”
At the hooded man’s words, Puppchen finally gave a look of anger.
“You bastard, didn’t you know who you were talking to?”
He was so angry that his aides began to distance themselves from him in fear.
“I will open the gates immediately and cut off your head myself!”
Just then, a clamor erupted from behind him.
As his aides turned to see what was going on, Puppchen glared at the hooded man on the watchtower. He muttered something about how he would definitely kill him and finally drew his sword from his waist.
“What is it?”
“I didn’t call for you. I’m talking to the soldiers around you!”
Puppchen looked at the soldiers around the hooded man in turn. His bloodshot eyes fluttered, and his lips twisted in torment.
“Whoever cuts off the head of that man there shall be rewarded.”
But no one moved. Rather, it is the laughter that comes with the wind.
“More than that, Puppchen-sama. Please look behind you. You’re in big trouble.”
Puppchen turned around as he was pointed to the back.
“He gasped when he saw the strange sight.”
A sandstorm was raging in the rear of the Dral army, even though there was no wind. The next sound was a deafening shout, which was quickly replaced by a scream.
“Puppchen-sama! An enemy shadow behind us! It seems the battle has already begun!”
An aide reported bloodily.
“How many of them?”
“We can’t tell because of the sandstorm!”
“Who are they?”
A light sound rang out. It was a simple sound, like the sound of cutting fruit. Puppchen opened his eyes and looked at the collapsing aides. A single arrow pierced the forehead of the white-eyed, fallen aide.
“Puppchen-sama, it’s dangerous to look away.”
At the sound of this voice, Puppchen turned his attention to the watchtower. There was an unfamiliar flag on the breastwork.
“Wh-what… that is…?”
Puppchen groaned and pointed his trembling fingertips at the coat of arms flag. Everyone has at least once seen it.
In some countries, it is immensely popular; in others, it is a symbol of fear.
――A black dragon holding a silver and white sword.
“The Divine Banner of the God of War?”
Puppchen muttered in dismay.
In the meantime, the flags of Hunthaven were thrown to the ground one after another, and the flag of the black dragon was set up in their place. The next to appear was a large number of archers.
“W-wait, who are you pointing your arrows at?”
The archers lined up in a row on the castle wall, aiming at Puppchen.
The wind whistled.
As soon as the sound of cutting through the air was heard, the surrounding aides screamed.
The soldiers in the guard noticed something was wrong and tried to rush underneath Puppchen with their shields raised. However, a large number of arrows fired from Fort Feine spread out like a fan and shot every single soldier in the guard. It was all hell from there.
An unrelenting rain of arrows rained down, and the aides and soldiers scattered to their deaths with ease. Puppchen was so appalled by the sudden event that he could not even move.
“Puppchen-sama, the gates are open.”
It should have been the long-awaited opening of the gates, but what came out of the gates was heavily armed cavalry. His aides, who had somehow managed to survive the rain of arrows, were mercilessly crushed.
“Please come in. If you can, that is.”
Those who fled were pierced by spears in the back, and those who begged for forgiveness were mercilessly swung down by swords.
Of course, no one could stand up to such a situation. There was no way anyone could escape, and they died screaming.
Puppchen, who had been so vigorous, also chose to flee. As his aides were being taken out, he ran desperately, his knees trembling with fear.
“Puppchen-sama, where are you going?”
The hooded man appeared in front of him. He was the man on the watchtower, claiming to be Hunthaven’s chamberlain.
“Puppchen-sama, what happened to the sixth princess?”
“…..Who are you bastard!?”
He knew without asking. He just didn’t want to believe it. He was probably just as Puppchen had imagined him to be.
He had heard so much about him. No matter which party he attended, the topic of conversation was always him. Everyone calls his name with awe; everyone calls his name with fear.
――Hiro Schwartz von Grantz.
The man took off his hood, and his true face was exposed in broad daylight. The wind gusts snatch the hood away and take it far, far away into the sky.
“You are the One-Eyed Dragon?”
His soft face, unsuitable for the battlefield, made him even more terrifying.
“I’m tired of seeing that reaction. I’d like to see a reaction that defies expectations for a change.”
Hiro smiled cheerfully. It’s an out-of-place, innocent smile.
“So, can you tell me what happened to the sixth princess?”
“What will you do once you know?”
“Well, I won’t know until I hear it.”
One after another, jet-black horsemen gathered behind Hiro, blocking the way. Hiro’s head turned to look around them, and finally, he turned his gaze to Puppchen.
“This won’t take long.”
He didn’t need to ask anything. Puppchen’s army was without a commander, and all of his aides had been shot to death with arrows. In short, the chain of command was as good as torn asunder. The 20,000-strong army quickly became a ragtag group, unable to coordinate in any way, and was overrun by the Black Army.
“It seems that you’ve been running hard from the Felzen region. You must have been exhausted. It’s not a situation in which you can fight properly.”
The most important thing is, Hiro, muttered and continued to speak.
“If it’s an arrogant commander like you, you probably won’t give them a break at all.”
That was true. Puppchen had forced the soldiers to come this far without giving them a break.
“Well, let me ask you again. What happened to the sixth princess?”
He could have remained silent, but if he had remained stubborn about it, he would have been tortured. If that were the case, it would be better to tell the truth and be treated as a prisoner of war.
Puppchen smiled fondly as he made that decision.
“I-I’ve handed her over to the Felzen remnants.”
“I see. Let’s hear the details.”
“Y-yeah ― Gaah!?”
As he nodded obediently, a shock rushed to the back of his head. Before he knew the pain, Puppchen’s consciousness was pulled down to the depths of darkness.