It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (56/90), enjoy~
The five great generals are the great military commanders that represent the Grantz Empire.
The emperor has personally entrusted them with the guardianship of their respective regions, and as the last bulwark, they have been able to exert a glare on other countries.
It is not hard to imagine what happened to his corpse. It will be greatly used as an example to encourage the western nobles to surrender.
(Even so, Bakish-san was killed in battle…?)
General Bakish von Hass, the guardian of the West. Although they were not particularly close, he still helped Hiro during the attack on the Grand Duchy of Dral. If it weren’t for him, Hiro’s plan wouldn’t have succeeded, and he wouldn’t have been able to get Liz back.
“The border garrison was less than 10,000, so it must have been a very tough battle. Above all, the Imperial Black Knights are also accompanying the third prince Blutar, so even one of the five great generals would not be able to withstand the onslaught of the Six Kingdoms…”
“So, how did the Six Kingdoms manage to get a large army into the west? How could they have overlooked a number of 150,000? If they are able to move around without us knowing, they may have already invaded the Central. Considering that, we must take countermeasures.”
The nobles, frightened by the invisible enemy, raised their voices as if to make a show of bravado.
“Perhaps… they were blending in with the Felzen remnant army.”
Seeing that the conversation was not going anywhere, Hiro pointed to a map in the middle of the desk.
“The 150,000 were divided into small groups and gradually separated from the Felzen remnants. After that, it is reasonable to assume that they joined up in several places and then invaded the west.”
In the Felzen region, there are plenty of towns, villages, forts, castles, and hiding places that have been ruined after several major battles. By using them, it is possible to hide a large army.
However, even with Hiro’s explanation, the nobles seemed unable to believe it.
“Your Highness Hiro, with all due respect. Sending a number of 150,000 in small groups ― that would take an uncanny number of years. Moreover, they must be very careful not to be noticed. Doesn’t sound very realistic, does it?”
“Doing something unrealistic ― that’s how serious they are.”
Before Hiro could retort, the second prince Selene leaned one elbow on his desk and said cheerfully.
“They have been preparing this for years. It may have been years ago… or it may have taken a huge amount of time, even decades. They’ve been preparing meticulously so as not to be noticed by us ― isn’t that right?”
The second prince Selene smiled at Hiro as if seeking his agreement.
“Yes, it also means that there was an opening in the Grantz Empire.”
It was an elaborate and grandiose plan to destroy the Grantz Empire.
The Granz Empire was so proud of its great power that it only invaded other countries and overlooked it. This is the reason why the current situation is so irreversible.
“I wonder why we have to bear such a grudge.”
The young nobleman said with a grieved expression.
“There are many people who resent our country because it is a great country and has a long history.”
The old nobleman who knew the root of the reason why the Six Kingdoms had invaded this time let out a deep sigh. It’s not that the ignorance of the young nobleman dumbfounded him but that he was thinking of the karma that the Grantz Empire had borne.
“Especially the resentment of the Six Kingdoms is considerable. To borrow the words of the second prince Selene, it can be said that the Six Kingdoms have been under preparation for a thousand years.”
The oppressed past, those who crossed over to the west because of persecution. They are the descendants of the families that once worked tirelessly for the Grantz Empire or their relations.
This was the Six Kingdoms, founded by the descendants of the “Five Generals of the Black Sky,” who were Hiro’s subordinates.
As the name implies, the Six Kingdoms are a confederation of six royal families.
The unity of the Six Kingdoms is based on the unshakable unity of the unified king at the top, but three of the royal families have the “Five Generals of the Black Sky ” as their founders. There are many different races, beastman, long-ear, dwarves, and human, and the characteristics of the people are also unique. Of course, none of the nations have forgotten the bitterness of their ancestors.
Even though their honor has been restored, the descendants of the “Five Generals of the Black Sky” are still treated as if they never existed in the Grantz Empire. The resentment of those who had been erased from history was immeasurable.
Therefore, this invasion was inevitable.
In the antechamber, where silence fell, the person who had been watching the event opened his mouth.
“Let’s think about the future first, shall we?”
The sixth princess, Celia Estrella Elizabeth von Grantz.
She has red hair reminiscent of fire with a silky luster. Her blazing red jade eyes give a strong sense of will. She has an interesting face that is still young, but her appearance, which reminds of the tranquility of a sculpture made by a master sculptor, is irresistible to people.
“What we should be discussing right now is what to do about the Six Kingdoms that are invading us.”
Liz was taken aback by the back-and-forth, off-topic military discussions.
“Y-you’re right. Let’s continue the discussion.”
The nobleman who was facilitating the meeting cleared his throat, then unfolded the parchment in his hand and muttered.
“Most of the 30,000 soldiers who participated in the rebellion have surrendered, but it would be difficult to have them accompany us if they are mentally unstable and going on a counter-offensive. In addition to that, considering the punishment of the nobles who were involved in the rebellion, the number of troops in the Central has been greatly reduced ― I estimate that only about 50,000 can move immediately.”
However, security has been deteriorating as desperate fugitive soldiers have been running rampant in various places, and bandits have appeared to take advantage of the chaos at the Central.
The number of 50,000 can only be gathered if those factors are ignored, he said.
“So, considering the maintenance of public safety, we can only gather about 20,000 at present.”
“That’s not enough to push back an army of 150,000. Do we have to wait for reinforcements from all over?”
“We have no choice but to do so. The west has no choice but to endure. For now, we should bring in forces from the north, east, and south.”
“That is also difficult.”
Prime Minister Gils said with a face full of bitterness.
“And why is that?”
The nobles questioned, but at this point, Hiro stood up and pulled out a letter.
“I received a letter from the Muzuk family.”
The mention of the names of the five major noble families that ruled the south caused a slight commotion to rise in the antechamber.
Hiro tapped the letter with an exaggerated hand gesture and urged the nobles to silence.
“This letter describes a tense situation in which the Steichen Republic is deploying troops on the border. Their number is unknown at this stage, but it is said to be no less than ten or twenty thousand.”
“Ridiculous. The Steichen Republic is not in a position to intervene in another country’s struggle for succession.”
“I agree, but it’s true. The Muzuk family has written to me requesting me to move the Fourth Imperial Army.”
The sixth princess has the right to command it.
Everyone’s gaze is directed at Liz at once, but she makes a difficult face and sighs.
“The Fourth Imperial Army is ready to move. I’m sure they’ll be ready in no time… But if I do, you won’t be able to count on any reinforcements from the south.”
Whether to fight until the Steichen Republic retreated or make peace, it was clear that it would take some time either way. Moreover, since the command of the Fourth Imperial Army was in Liz’s hands, no orders other than her own would be accepted. In other words, Liz herself would have to head south to deal with the Steichen Republic.
“The only current holder of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword in the Grantz Empire is Her Highness Celia Estrella. How is it possible to send her to the south? Right now, the Six Kingdoms to the west are far more of a threat than the rural south republic. I hereby insist that the Muzuk family should endure.”
As one nobleman expressed his opinion, the noble lords nodded one after another as if to show their agreement.
“No, I’ll ask Liz to head south. We don’t want to make the Muzuk family feel unhappy here. If we make enemies with them, it will be the end of the Grantz Empire.”
If the west is about to fall apart, and the south is about to fall apart as well, the Grantz Empire will truly collapse.
“Then… what are you going to do about the west, Your Highness Hiro?”
“I’ll head there myself. I’ll be taking 20,000 troops with me.”
“Hiro, wait. What are you going to do with only twenty thousand?”
Liz interrupted the conversation with a surprised look on her face.
Hiro smiles at Liz as he scratches the bridge of his nose.
“It’s okay; I’m not going to do anything crazy. I’m just trying to stall them from pouring into the Central.”
Hiro nodded at Liz’s response.
“The opponents are a huge army of 150,000. If all the nobles don’t join hands, we won’t be able to break through the desperate situation. If that is the case, we should gather our forces in the Central and challenge the Six Kingdoms to a decisive battle.”
“Are you planning to intercept the Six Kingdoms in the Central?”
“Yes, I’m sorry for the people in the west, but they will have to endure. Right now, we have to concentrate on building up our forces.”
But as time goes by, the casualties in the west will continue to increase.
Many noble lords and princes will distrust the Grantz Empire, which could lead to informers.
To avoid this, Hiro himself will go to the west and use 20,000 soldiers.
“The people of the West might be disappointed if they find out that the reinforcements are only twenty thousand.”
Hiro took his gaze off Liz and looked around at the people participating in the military council.
“But if I, a descendant of the God of War, head out as commander, I can alleviate some of the anxiety.”
If Hiro, who is an important figure in the Grantz Empire, rushes to the aid of the army, he can convince the western nobility and people that the home country has not abandoned the west.
“And the third prince Blutar is to remain in the Felzen region. Let him regain his wits in preparation for the coming day, and when the time comes, we will pinch the Six Kingdoms and defeat them once and for all.”
It’s an empty theory with no sense of reality, but it must be conveyed with confidence. It was also meant to discourage the nobles and lords who were harboring double-mindedness from thinking anything improper.
“I would like the acting head of the Kelheit family to head to the east, gather as many troops as possible, and return to the Central. The second prince Selene will remain stationed in the great imperial capital to consider countermeasures against the Six Kingdoms.”
When Hiro looked at Rosa and the second prince Selene, they all nodded.
Hiro continued to speak one after another.
“We need to reassure the merchants to avoid further dissatisfaction among the people and further damage to the economy. I hereby propose that we change the unstable trade routes in the west.”
“That’s fine, but… do you have a plan?”
Prime Minister Gils interjected a question, and Hiro nodded as if to say it was obvious.
“Let’s work with the Grand Duchy of Dral to avoid economic stagnation. We will also strengthen our trade with the Levering Kingdom in the north, and take in their abundant ore at twice the price of what it used to be, and have it flow to us on a priority basis. It will be temporary, but we will use it to stimulate the market until the war is over.”
Prime Minister Gils held his chin and fell silent. After a few moments of silence, he nodded vigorously.
“…Fumu, you want them to think that it is in their interest to join forces with the Grantz Empire?”
The first priority is to stop other countries from invading the Grantz Empire. If the neighboring countries believe that this kind of situation will not shake the Grantz Empire, the Six Kingdoms will become impatient because they will not be able to get any help.
While some of the nobles were convinced, Liz twisted her lips in dissatisfaction.
“I understand about revitalizing the economy. You mean that in anticipation of a prolonged war, right? But I don’t think that will be enough to break the current situation. We’ve already been attacked in the west. The Six Kingdoms may stabilize the west and invade the Central before we are in a perfect state.”
Her beautiful voice has no stagnation and is full of confidence.
Liz didn’t show any signs of hesitation and spoke her opinion with an air of authority.
“There’s no guarantee that the west will be able to endure while I’m dealing with the Steichen Republic. Even if you say that you can stop them with 20,000 troops, they have 150,000 troops, and if they organize a separate force, on the contrary, you might be the one to be stopped.”
Is there any way to stop them? Liz added at the end, looking at Hiro.
Hiro, who had been listening to her silently, forgot the atmosphere of the place and made a dumbfounded face.
He hadn’t expected Liz to point this out to him.
It seems that the nobles had noticed that he was trying to distract their attention from the problem and had made it vague by muddying the scene.
(No… It’s no wonder. Originally, Liz’s growth had been remarkable.)
Recently, he had heard that Rosa had been teaching her politics and Aura had been teaching her military strategy.
It wasn’t something that someone had told her to do. It was because she had thought about it herself and had questions that she offered her opinion.
Her growth was admirable, and Hiro fought to keep his cheeks from loosening.
(Then I have to respond to this growth of yours…)
After regaining his composure, Hiro began to explain in order to dispel her fears and even suspicions.
“That question is natural, I guess. But the Six Kingdoms have no choice but to remain in the west for a while. I’ll explain some of the reasons now.”
Hiro pointed to the map and then traced it around.
“First of all, the Six Kingdoms have not yet established their logistics. I don’t know how long it took them to do it, but they don’t have enough food to feed an army of 150,000 people. Nevertheless, they cannot just loot the cities and villages.”
“Why not? If they have a grudge against the Grantz Empire, why don’t they just loot them?”
Hiro smiled mildly at Liz, who tilted her head to express that she didn’t know honestly.
“Now that the winter season has arrived, looting could lead to people starving to death, and the backlash from the locals could lead to an armed uprising. When considering the future of governance, including expansion into the Central, such a blunder should be avoided.”
If you are not too incompetent, you will not allow looting. If a defeat is imminent, there is no telling how they will respond, but as it stands, the Six Kingdoms have the upper hand, so they will not do anything reckless.
Looking at Liz, who was nodding her head several times to try to understand, Hiro spun his words slowly.
“One more thing, if they cross the Felzen region, the logistics with their home country will be fully extended. They have their collaborators in Felzen, but they also have their enemy, the third prince Blutar. For now, the priority for him is to find and destroy the supply routes, and he will remain as an obstacle until our forces are ready.”
War cannot be waged without food. Without people, food cannot grow. Without land, people cannot be born. These are three things that cannot be ignored when thinking about what will happen after the invasion.
“I don’t think they will invade the Central right away because of these concerns. I believe that they will challenge us to a decisive battle after they have made all preparations.”
Since they have gathered a large army of 150,000, they will want to avoid defeat.
“So we have plenty of time to prepare our forces.”
However, deep down, Hiro is convinced that they will attack very soon.
(What we’re thinking, they must be thinking it as well. They must have some sort of countermeasure in place ― just like the seasons; they want to settle this in a short period after moving a large army.)
In the meantime, Hiro gave Liz a look while he pondered.
She was not satisfied with the results… yet she groaned with a sense of reluctance.
(This will ensure that she can go down to the Muzuk family.)
After patting his chest, Hiro looked at the council members and asked if there were any other opinions.
No one wanted to say a word.
After confirming that there were no objections, Hiro sat down in his chair.
“Now, let’s discuss our respective roles.”
Prime Minister Gils stood up in his place and proceeded with the topic without hesitation.
(This is how it will be…)
Hiro dropped his gaze to his hands and stared at the letter sent from the Muzuk family.
Now that the meeting was over, Hiro stepped out of the antechamber into the hallway and began to walk in silence.
Many nobles were hurriedly running past him and then running away. There was a variety of fervour that could be felt from the people in this hallway.
The Central nobles with territories close to the west were in a state of agitation, while the northern nobles who lived far away from the Central nobles had a heavy gait as if it was none of their business.
(There’s a huge atmosphere difference when it comes to this war.)
Until now, they have only fought localized battles.
This is the first national-scale war involving all of the Grantz, and most people think it’s just a fire on the other side of the river. People do not feel threatened until they themselves are affected, so the nobles do not panic unless there is a danger to their territory.
This is why there is such an atmosphere difference.
In other words, the nobles who have enjoyed peace for so long do not have a sense of crisis.
(In short, they are spoiled by peace.)
That is why they are too stupid to deal with national crises. They have become lax in their thinking.
When Hiro found the group of nobles chatting, he became even more grumpy.
Hiro tried to leave the place quickly, but…
The voice drew him to look behind him, and he saw Liz standing there with her hands on her hips. She had a puffy but charming face that soothed the anger raging in Hiro’s chest.
“Don’t just what’s wrong me. Are you sure you can manage with only twenty thousand?”
“As I said in the military council, I’ll just buy some time until we can gather our forces.”
“Are you serious?”
Liz closed in on him. Hiro retreated, startled by the beauty that loomed before him.
“I-I’m serious. As you can see, it’s a bit brutal to go up against 150,000 people.”
As Hiro stroked his eye patch to hide his embarrassment, Liz poked her finger at it.
“You must not do anything dangerous. When I’m done with the Steichen Republic, I’ll definitely come back, and you can wait quietly until then.”
“I know. I’ll be waiting for you.”
Hiro smiled, but Liz’s eyes were fixed on him as if she were looking at a suspicious person.
Liz has become more suspicious of Hiro lately.
It’s not that she doesn’t trust him. It’s just that she doesn’t take Hiro’s words with as much conviction as she used to. After examining and thinking things through in her own way, she began to say her own thoughts instead of agreeing with them outright.
That’s good for the future, but it’s not good for this situation.
“Oh, yes. When you head south, I want you to take Ghada and the others with you.”
“Hugin and Munin too?”
“Yes. Of course.”
Liz frowned quizzically at that. Hiro smiled and told her the reason.
“The Raven Army is currently returning to the Berg Fortress, recovering from their injuries. I want you to bring them with you when you come back to the Central.”
“Then I’ll just bring them. I think it would be better if Ghada and the others stayed with Hiro.”
“The Raven Army was originally mercenaries. You know they’re made up of roughnecks. They might not listen to Liz. I want you to take Ghada and the others with you in case that happens.”
Inwardly, he thought of the exact opposite but didn’t say it.
“Also, I want you to mediate between the Fourth Imperial Army and the commanders of the Raven Army. That way, they will feel more secure in knowing that they can rely on you, and it will be easier for them to work together.”
“All right. I’ll do my best.”
“Thanks. I’ll buy you some time until then.”
Liz nodded and made a difficult face. She looked up at him as if she wanted to say something as if she had something on her mind. Hiro sensed that and gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
“There’s no need to worry. You can surely defeat the Steichen Republic. You’ll be fine even without me.”
He gave her his approval, but Liz’s mouth twitched in frustration.
“Do you really think so?”
After all, she was still reeling from her defeat against the first prince Stobel. The most important reason why she does not have complete confidence in herself ― in order to get rid of it, it will be necessary to take forceful measures.
(Don’t worry. I have an idea… I’m sure she’ll get over the hardship.)
Hiro kept his thoughts to himself and decided to dodge the subject.
“I think so. So, you just keep walking and don’t worry about it.”
Let’s make a path for that. Give her enough confidence to break through her doubts. That’s what Liz needs for the day she rises to the sky and becomes the sun.
Liz couldn’t hide her anxiety, but Hiro assured her that any further words would be meaningless.
If it was the actual battle that made her lose her confidence, then it was only the actual battle that could make her regain it.
“By the way, how is Skaaha’s condition?”
“She hasn’t regained consciousness yet, though the doctor told me that she would wake up soon. Also, the wound seems to be healing well.”
“Then I want you to tell her to remain here when she wakes up. She might say she’ll have to go with you, but you have to force her. She needs to prioritize her recovery.”
Skaaha was badly injured in the battle against Stobel and the Fallen Ones.
She was not fatally injured because of the protection of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword, but if she had been an ordinary person, she might have been bedridden.
When she woke up, she would say that she would go with Liz since she had made a pact with Hiro.
“She’s a stubborn person and won’t easily give up, but if Liz can convince her, I don’t think Skaaha will be able to say no.”
“Of course, Skaaha needs to be healed first, but…”
“That’s a relief.”
Hiro gave a small laugh and then patted Liz on the shoulder, forcing the conversation to end.
“Then I can’t waste any more time. There are people in the west who are still being tormented by the Six Kingdoms as we speak. Let’s get ready right away.”
“Y-yes. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to leave.”
After Liz’s puzzled reply, Hiro walked past her.
He then turned his back on Liz and began to walk down the hallway.
Her sad voice never reached Hiro but melted into the empty silence.