It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (55/90), enjoy~
A huge flame was spreading. Strands of flames were erupting from everywhere.
The world was enveloped in a storm of a red, cloudy, disastrous fire.
Hiding in the background was a strange odor that was driving one’s sense of smell crazy.
In addition, the sky was covered in black smoke, and a sea of blood dominated the ground.
As far as the eye could see ― it was endless and went on forever.
The flowers and grass that had sprouted on the ground were dying out endlessly. Beside them, corpses that were still in their original form were burning and smoldering.
The corpse, pierced with countless swords, is suddenly crushed by horseshoes.
“Is there anyone still alive?”
The soldier on the horse was running with a large amount of fresh blood dripping from his side. He stepped over the corpses of his friends who had laughed with him yesterday and continued to run away. Even though he looked around desperately, what he saw was a plain covered with dead flowers.
“Damn it! Damn it! Why, why!”
Deciding that it was too dangerous to go any further, the soldier threw himself forward and started to run as fast as he could.
But life is cruel. There are no miracles for those who are trapped.
“Hey, the remnant soldier. Where are you running to?”
A girl appeared in front of him with a fan in her hand, looking out of place on this battlefield and, one might add, very out of place.
“Will you tell me? How can you escape in such a disgraceful state?”
“Well, there is no need to be afraid. I am a kind woman. I will kill you painlessly.”
With a bottomless smile, the girl spits out cruel words and takes just one step forward.
That was enough to break the soldier’s mind.
The core of the soldier, who had been through many death rays and had overcome many difficult situations, was broken instantly. He lost all hope of living, his face turned pale, and his spirit collapsed.
At that moment…
It’s not a metaphor. Just as the words say, without a second notice, the soldier’s body exploded from within.
The deafening sound shook the air, and fresh blood poured onto the ground along with pieces of flesh.
However, without getting a single drop of blood on herself, the girl who opened up her fan smiled lustrously.
“You have done nothing wrong.”
It’s all collapsing. The great empire that has kept out all foreign enemies is about to collapse.
“You are not at fault ― except for the misfortune of your birth in this land.”
No one can stop this flow.
“Just being born in Grantz is enough to deserve death.”
No human being can stop a raging storm. All they can do is wait for it to pass. The weak are left with no choice but to hide behind doors and hide their breath.
“Overrun it. Annihilate. Conquer!”
The girl’s prayerful murmur was accompanied by a series of grievous cries around her.
It was not just one or two. There were dozens of them, piling up and echoing as if they were splitting the air. No one could survive. Even a single breath was enough to send out dozens of spears. There was no way to escape the beasts that were relentlessly targeting their prey.
Even so, there were some who bravely stood up to them.
“Stand up! Anyone who can stand up, follow me!”
The way he mass-produced corpses with a single swing was truly one of a kind.
The way he sprinkled fresh blood on the ground was just like an evil demon.
His martial prowess is so overwhelming that it is hard to imagine from his ordinary appearance.
“Do not allow those people to trample on the land of Grantz!”
One of the great heroes, known as the Five Great Generals, began his assault with the remaining defeated soldiers in tow.
“You must be Bakish, one of the five great generals who protects the west. If you don’t mind, I’d like to have your head.”
A woman with blood all over her body smiled miserably in front of the hero. In her hands, she holds a giant hammer that is well over her height.
“Stop joking around… You don’t want to get your sickening face smashed in, do you?”
“…Then I’ll crush your body.”
The moment the woman stomped on the ground, the winds of the world converged and exploded.
“Wha ― Nnggh.”
“As expected of one of the five great generals who have made a name for themselves in the world, I was going to spare only your neck, but you are quite sturdy, aren’t you?”
Bakish knelt on the ground and vomited blood when he saw the large hole in his stomach.
“It seems you have high vitality to spare. Then perhaps you will entertain me a little?”
The woman raised her hand, and her soldiers smiled sneeringly and took out their daggers.
“Gghhh, what are you doing…?”
“I don’t know how much more pain you can endure, but it has to be torture, of course.”
In spite of the cruel words, the woman revealed a refreshing smile.
“First, I’ll rip out your nails, shave off your ears, and cut off your nose.”
“…Fuhahahahaha ― you rotten bastards!”
Bakish kicked the ground with his sword in his hand with all the strength he could muster.
But fighting back was a foolhardy and childish act.
The sharp blade only cut through the thin skin, which reminded him of the futility of resistance.
Surrounded by a vast number of enemy soldiers, Bakish was swept up in a storm of hatred.
There are no exceptions on the battlefield, no matter how famous a person is.
There is no mercy. Everyone was dying by the blade.
Eventually, the head of the general whose limbs had been torn off was exposed, and shouts of joy erupted from all over the land.
“We have defeated one of the five great generals, Bakish! Let it be known throughout the land that the heads were exposed on the streets! Let them know that we, the Six Kingdoms, are the strong ones, and let them fear us by telling them who has attacked them!”
Still, they did not stop. They didn’t end the war even after taking out the general.
“Eradicate them! Let none of them live! Give them an equal death, regardless of their status!”
In response to the voice, an inexhaustible amount of dead people were created as if to release the accumulated resentment.
Even surrounded by such a horrible situation, the girl did not stop smiling.
“Now is the time to take revenge for our ancestors.”
Chapter 1 – Calm Before The Storm
January 4th, 1024th year of the Imperial Calendar.
On this day, a cold wind blew with a sharp pain that stung the skin.
Once outside, it was so cold that it was impossible to stop shivering. The Great Imperial Capital was experiencing a cold wave that could freeze people to death if they were not careful. However, even in such a harsh environment, the capital of the Grantz Empire, Cladius, was strangely filled with a strange kind of enthusiasm.
The central street was filled with people, so many that there was no place to step.
And strangely enough, there was a sense of urgency on their faces as they all headed towards the main gate with large bags in their hands. It was as if they were frightened of something, as if they were running away from something as if they were in such a hurry that it could be called panic.
“Hurry up! If we stay here, we’ll die! The Six Kingdoms are going to attack us!”
There was a merchant who tried to break into the long line of people. Normally, this would be a blameworthy situation, but in the current situation, no one blamed him because there were many people around him who were trying to break into the line and get through the main gate.
Some people were glaring at them with resentment.
Although they didn’t say a word, what they spat out in their hearts must have been vindictiveness.
They must be cursing them as heartless people.
Watching the people running away from the city from afar were the people who had originally settled in the Imperial Capital.
They can’t abandon the land they’ve lived in for so many years just because the empire is in danger, and more importantly, there’s no way they can afford to move to another country.
Even if they had enough money and were fortunate enough to escape the war, if they lost their country, they would not be able to live their lives as before.
In other words, whether they stay or flee, it is the same either way.
So, unlike the merchants who never settled down, they could not move from this place.
“What a heartless bunch. What about the Six Kingdoms? This is the Great Grantz Empire.”
“But is everything alright? They say that the emperor was seriously injured in a battle with bandits who invaded the imperial palace?”
“Moreover, it is rumored that the Six Kingdoms have 150,000 troops. We’re a large country, so our forces are dispersed throughout. Because of that, we can’t gather our forces as quickly as they can.”
The Grantz Empire has divided its vast territory into five regions, bordering on hostile countries. Skirmishes were an everyday occurrence, and the majority of troops were deployed and dispersed along the borderlines. If they tried to unify, there would be a breakdown somewhere soon enough.
That’s why the existence of the five great noble families, who are in charge of managing each territory, stands out in times of crisis, but that was only if they were still standing on their feet.
“The rebellion started by the Krone family has temporarily cut off the logistics. Because of this, no one will go near the capital for fear of danger. And before the chaos was over, the barbarians from the Six Kingdoms invaded the west.”
“Do you think we can stop them?”
“Well… It looks like the Mark family is going to take over the Krone family’s place, but those central nobles have started a rebellion, so we can’t count on them. The only thing left to do is to hope that the western nobility can hold out, but how long can they?”
“It is rumored that not only the Steichen Republic but also other countries have begun preparing for war. If we start a full-fledged war with the surrounding countries, it will really be the end of the Grantz Empire.”
“I wonder what’s going to happen… now that the new year has passed.”
The people turned their anxious gaze to the imperial palace.
With the sun shining in the cloudless blue sky, the imperial palace is shining brightly again today, unaware of the feelings of the people living on the ground.
At that moment, all the important people of the Grantz Empire were gathered in the palace.
Since the throne room was no longer available for use by the First Prince Stobel, a temporary command center had been set up in the antechamber. It was in the antechamber that the imperial family, including Hiro and other influential figures known as the great nobles, gathered to determine the future course of action.
“What should we do now that we’ve lost His Majesty and so many high-ranking officials?”
It was explained to the people that former General Loing started the previous rebellion with the help of first prince Stobel.
The fact that the first prince Stobel had invaded the imperial palace and killed the emperor and his entourage was kept secret so as not to confuse the people. It was only reported that the emperor was injured by the bandits and that there were casualties among the high officials.
“It was an unprecedented event. No, there was only one similar incident three hundred years ago.”
“But that’s nothing compared to three hundred years ago. It wasn’t like 150,000 troops invaded like this time.”
That era was a time of turmoil, and every country had similar events. Above all, there is no mention in the literature of a single emperor being killed and the damage done to the high officials.
“We’ve managed to keep the emperor’s death a secret from the people, but we can’t do that forever.”
An announcement will have to be made sooner or later. However, this will only happen when the next emperor is chosen.
In order to counter the threat to the Six Kingdoms, it was necessary to prevent the heirs to the throne from fighting over the throne. Therefore, there was no choice but to shelve the situation temporarily.
Even if a temporary emperor were to be chosen, the noble lords who were dissatisfied with the interim emperor would support their own heir to the throne, which could lead to a joint rule.
This would lead to the division of the Grantz Empire.
(First, we have to win the war against the Six Kingdoms. The next emperor will probably be elected after that. That is if the neighboring countries don’t invade…)
The Grantz Empire rests on an extremely precarious balance.
The Six Kingdoms to the west and the Steichen Republic to the south. There were other small and medium-sized states around.
If they were to join forces, the territory would be cut down in the blink of an eye, and the Grantz Empire would disappear from the map without recovering any lost ground.
(In order to avoid this… we must get rid of the nobles who fatten their own pockets.)
Betrayal begets betrayal. Many of the nobles who are obsessed with power will not want to give up their current positions. There is no such thing as patriotism.
Therefore, there will always be those who are misled by sweet words.
It is easy to change one’s mind if one is promised relief of territory.
(But a simple approach will lead to inducement. I have to be very careful, but with the Six Kingdoms invading, there’s no time to be complacent ― if that’s the case, the only way is to take forceful measures…)
Hiro sighed and quietly looked at the people gathered in the antechamber.
Everyone has a pained expression on their face as they think about their country.
Among them, there was one person who was watching over the scene with a calm face.
The second prince Werewolf Sharm Selene von Grantz.
He has a huge following among the people of the north and is called the “King of the North” and “Twin Wolf.” He has a neutral face and an eye-catching appearance, but what stands out even more is that his eyes are different in color. It is called “Distinctive Eyes” and is a physical characteristic that can be said to be a quality of heroes possessed by legendary figures.
The second prince Selene has a blue eye on his left and a gold eye on his right, which gives him a strange impression. His blue hair, reminiscent of the sky, is as soft as silk, and his body is covered in thin brown fur, with silver and white armor peeking out from underneath.
He seems to have no intention of being hostile at the moment, but it is unclear what he is really thinking.
He’s not interested in the throne, but he’s obsessed with the northern part of the country, which he protects.
He was prepared to go to any length to protect the north.
If they were to become enemies later on, he would be the first to be eliminated.
(But it would be a shame to dispose of him in a situation where he has value. We still need the second prince Selene to do his best. At least until Liz’s position is established…)
Hiro turned his gaze to Liz, but her neat form was covered in deep shadows.
There was no doubt that her defeat by the first prince Stobel was still lingering. The fact that Skaaha was seriously injured in that battle and has yet to regain consciousness is also a factor.
(She lost to Stobel, but there were benefits… She was able to encourage the awakening of the “Flame Emperor.” But there are some things to be concerned about. She is too mentally immature to be an emperor.)
Then, she would not be able to win the support of the nobles and lords.
The sun is the ruler of heaven that shines on all people. It is not allowed to shine only on certain people.
If one is grieving for someone, one must grieve for all.
You must have compassion for your people, respect for your soldiers, and love for your country.
(These are emotions that many rulers have forgotten and abandoned.)
She would be able to feel heartache for the unnamed.
Hiro also knew well that Liz was a kind girl.
(But… that’s not what she needed right now. She should not be swayed by her emotions.)
If the emperor were still alive and well, less than a month ago, she would have been able to take the throne despite her naivety. But now… with the loss of the emperor and the invasion of other countries, it won’t be easy.
(What the next emperor needs to do is to make a calm decision. Only those who can assess the current situation without being influenced by emotions can be considered as the next emperor. Liz’s growth has been remarkable, but she hasn’t yet mastered the ability to stifle her emotions.)
Not bound by anyone. Not controlled by anyone. Not to be dictated by anyone.
That’s what an emperor, someone who aims for the top of the Grantz Empire, should be.
Although she is powerful enough, she does not have the dignity of a lion or a champion.
(There are other problems, too…)
Hiro loosened his collar and let out a deep breath, catching Rosa out of the corner of his eye.
Her bewitching beauty had a stern expression on her face. The reason would not only be that the emperor was dead. It was also because she was forced to revise her plan to put Liz on the throne.
(My presence is getting in the way. I should have changed my support to Liz earlier.)
With this incident, the order of succession to the throne had shifted significantly.
The first prince Stobel rebelled and was deprived of his right to the throne.
Next would be the third prince Blutar, but the power of the western nobles has weakened.
The second prince Selene was not interested in the throne, and he rarely came to the central. He was considered a low-ranking successor to the throne because of his weak health. So, who among the people in this room is the highest in the line of succession ― if asked, all of them would point to Liz.
However, this brings up the issue that concerned him earlier.
There is no faction that supports her. In short, there is no one to support her.
Then, even if the order of succession is high, it is meaningless. It’s just a title, a treasure trove. The next highest in line of succession, Hiro, would be a hindrance to Liz.
He has the support of the eastern nobility and is popular among the people because he is a descendant of the “God of War.”
Above all, Hiro’s accomplishments since he was adopted into the Grantz family, according to Altius’s will, are also impeccable.
(There’s no one who can stop me even if I forcefully declare that I’m going to become the emperor here.)
(There would be a split. They won’t let me take the throne so easily.)
Hiro looked at the powerful nobles, including the Mark family.
The central nobles who have begun to look up to the Mark family as their leader in place of the Krone family, which has lost its power, are fed up with their lightness of foot. These central nobles are whispering to each other with anxiety on their faces.
Some of the whispers were directed at a certain person.
“Why did he show up now…?”
“Where was he before? He was supposed to be with the emperor.”
Their eyes were fixed on a thin, unhealthy-looking man.
Bizan Gils von Sharm.
He is the former head of the Sharm family, one of the five great noble families, and the emperor’s right-hand man ― he is also the uncle of the second prince Selene.
The other day, he suddenly appeared with an unconcerned look on his face and took part in today’s meeting.
“Prime Minister Gils… how could you survive in such a situation?”
Perhaps thinking that it was useless to whisper to each other, one of the nobles said straightforwardly.
The fact that his words were a bit harsh was probably due to the possibility that Prime Minister Gils was linked to the first prince Stobel. But Prime Minister Gils opened his mouth without changing his expression.
“What is it that you want to know?”
“Of course. Many of those who were in the imperial palace had been attacked by the deadly blade and had died. The only ones who survived were the women and children who had hidden in the hidden rooms beforehand. In such a situation, you, who had always worked together with the emperor, survived. It’s a question that anyone would ask themselves, don’t you think?”
Prime Minister Gils shrugged his shoulders at the nobleman’s persuasive tone.
“At the time, I was away from the throne room at the behest of the emperor.”
“What kind of order was that?”
“I was ordered to increase the security of the throne room. So I went to the door to send some of my knights to guard it and was attacked and wounded by the first prince Stobel.”
From there, it all happened in a blink of an eye ― and Prime Minister Gils’s body shook with fear.
“Everyone had foolishly let their guard down. It’s safe to say that everyone was relieved when the first prince Stobel, the holder of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword, showed up.”
However, they soon learned that it was a mistake.
“The slaughter began. All of them died without realizing what had happened. By the time I realized it, I had lost one of my arms.”
Prime Minister Gils tightened his grip on his left sleeve. The sleeve creased as if to indicate that it was hollow.
“I then decided to flee in shame to inform His Majesty of the emergency. But I lost so much blood that I fainted in the process. But fortunately, a maidservant saved me, and… I am now safe and sound ― or rather, miserable.”
“Do you think such an explanation will convince us?”
One of the noblemen stood up, slapping the desk with both hands.
“The enemy is the holder of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword. In fact, no one other than you has survived an attack by the first prince Stobel. What does that mean!”
Following the angry nobleman, the others also complained as if they were not satisfied.
“In the face of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword, ordinary people are like babies. Encountering a natural disaster and being able to escape at the cost of only a single arm is… unbelievable.”
“You were working with the first prince Stobel, weren’t you? It would make sense that you sacrificed your left arm to avoid suspicion, wouldn’t it?”
Hiro also generally agreed with the questions of the nobles.
The Prime Minister is second in rank only to the emperor. He is the most important person after the emperor.
If someone were planning to overthrow the country, they would not let Prime Minister Gils go.
(Since Stobel is powerful enough, he can take out Prime Minister Gils with little effort. But I have no proof. I guess I’ll just have to leave it at that.)
More importantly, a man as strong as Prime Minister Gils would not easily show his face.
“It’s ridiculous. You should be ashamed of yourself for framing me as an informant for such an unfounded reason!”
The voice of Prime Minister Gils was filled with anger. It was a rare display of emotion for a man who usually embodied calm and collected.
The whispering of the nobles stopped as Prime Minister Gils slammed his right hand on the desk.
“It’s not the time to be arguing. As we speak, the sacred territory of the Grantz Empire, given to us by the Spirit King, is being trampled upon by the barbarians of the west.”
He had a point. There is no time to waste in denouncing something that does not have any proof; there are other priorities.
He was putting himself on the shelf, but it was a good argument. This is why the nobles fell silent.
“Now is the time for us to unite, but this is not good for the emperor! If you want to frame me, you’d better get rid of those barbarians in the west first!”
Hiro inwardly muttered that this was shameless, but it was fortunate that the Prime Minister of the Grantz Empire was still alive. With the loss of the emperor, there is no doubt that he is the head of the country, and it will certainly be easier for him to organize future policy.
“Then… Could we move the topic to the Six Kingdoms?”
A nobleman, the facilitator who had been watching the barren dispute, said in exasperation.
He then confirmed that there was no one to object and asked the civil servant for data.
“According to the report of the spies, reinforcements are being sent one after another from their home countries, and it is possible that the final number will exceed 200,000.”
The nobleman in charge of the proceedings read the report he had received from the civil servant without hesitation.
In contrast, the nobles who had been quietly listening to the report shouted in surprise.
“If such a large army were to flow into the Central, it would be impossible to stop them.”
“What about the reinforcements coming from outside the Central?”
“It will take a month or two for the reinforcements from each region to gather at the central, and… three months at the earliest to prepare for an interception.”
“Will the western nobles be able to withstand the threat… for such a long time?”
No one could answer the last question. A serious atmosphere filled the antechamber.
The nobleman who was in charge of the meeting spoke, looking at the quiet people in the room.
“The Six Kingdoms that are currently invading the west seem to have divided their forces into several groups and are advancing through the western territories. According to reports, they are rampaging through the country, sinking forts and cities one after another.”
“What is the army that was doing security work in Felzen doing? Why did they allow the invasion to happen so easily…? What is the third prince Blutar doing, and where is he?”
“In addition, I believe that one of the five great generals Bakish is in the west; what is he doing?”
When the nobleman in charge of facilitating the meeting was questioned, his lips pulled back in frustration.
“The main force of the western nobility ― the army led by the third prince Blutar ― seems to be stranded in the Felzen region. In addition, general Bakish, who fought hard to defend the borderline between the Felzen region, was killed in the battle…”