It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (63/96), enjoy~
Chapter 3 – Unquenchable Hatred
January 10th, 1024th year of the Imperial Calendar.
The Great Grantz Empire ― the Imperial Palace Venetian’s guest room.
“The enemy’s invasion is much faster than I expected.”
Hiro’s heavy words were spat out during the daily military discussions.
“Yes, it seems that two-thirds of the western part of the country has already fallen into the hands of the enemy.”
Prime Minister Gils muttered in frustration as he held the map in front of him. The sleeve of his lost left arm was shaking slightly as if his body was trembling from anger.
But he wasn’t the only one. Everyone was revealing their disappointment. Some of them cursed the western nobles for their unworthiness.
Prime Minister Gils took a deep breath before placing the pieces on the map once again.
“The streets are blocked as many of the people have fled to the Central. It seems that the Six Kingdoms are deliberately driving them away. It’s also reported that the third prince Blutar has been captured, although this information has not been confirmed.”
“Wha… Blutar has been captured?”
The second prince Selene, who could not hide his surprise at this, lifted himself from his chair.
“Blutar is cautious. I thought he had secured a perfect escape route…”
Rosa also covered her mouth with her hand in disbelief and dropped her gaze.
(Aura’s absence is the only reason for this result… and I’m not surprised because he’s a worse fighter than expected.)
But even if he is incompetent, he is the prince of the Grantz Empire. The value of his use is immeasurable. That was probably one of the reasons why the enemy invasion was accelerated. Above all, with the death of one of the five great generals, Bakish, the guardian of the west, the only hope for the west was the third prince Blutar. If he were captured, the chain of command in the west would have collapsed, and if he was to think about the future, he should have chosen the path of self-determination rather than live in shame in captivity. If he had done so, the vengeful nobles of the west would have been able to weaken the enemy’s momentum through their struggles.
(It’s better to think that the Felzen region also fell into the hands of the Six Kingdoms.)
For the people living in Felzen, the Grantz Empire is nothing more than an invader.
If the Six Kingdoms had defeated the Grantz Army, claiming to be liberating them, their popularity would have been unstoppable. Probably, there must be defectors from the Felzen remnant army as well.
As a survivor of the Felzen royal family, Skaaha was like a hostage of the Grantz Empire. If they say that they will take her back, many people will follow the Six Kingdoms.
(Are the clouds getting worse…?)
There is an excellent chance that the past events will come to the surface, and things are taking a turn for the worse.
The blame for all of this will lie at the heart of the Grantz Empire, which has made many blunders.
Many of the people who should be held accountable died in the rebellion started by the first prince Stobel, although it could be said that they deserved it because their great power intoxicated them. If it were another country, Hiro would laugh it off, but the Grantz Empire is a country left behind by his friends, who are now deceased.
(As long as I’m here, this country will definitely have to remain…)
It is the last chain that is left by his friends.
Whether it is someone’s intention or not, he will not allow them to do as they please. No matter what it takes.
“The first thing to do is to move forward. It is important to find a way to save the West.”
The Prime Minister’s statement brought Hiro back to reality.
“I don’t mean to belittle the life of the third prince Blutar, of course, but I don’t think he’s in any danger from his position. Whether it’s a ransom or a demand for territory, we’ll have to wait until the Six Kingdoms make their move.”
After confirming that there were no objections, Prime Minister Gils coughed loudly and straightened his collar.
“So, I would like to hear about the progress of each of you.”
“I’ll report back then. Can I have the permission to speak?”
The one who raised his hand was Rosa. Prime Minister Gils responded with a nod.
As soon as she stood up with the report in her hand, the eyes of the nobles focused on her.
“I have ordered my subordinates to gather forces in the east, but… it is going to take about a month for them to come to the central. But I have strict orders to send out the troops that are ready at any time…”
Rosa shrugged her shoulders and growled dourly.
“The power of war is only effective when it is assembled. If you send them out one by one, not only will they not be much of a fighting force, but if you send them to the battlefield, they will be wiped out.”
“It can’t be helped. It would be better to wait until we are fully prepared. Don’t push yourself too hard and get as many people as you can before you leave.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
After expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister Gils, Rosa whispered to one of his aides.
After two or three words, the aide bailed out and quietly left the guest room.
After Rosa finished, Prime Minister Gils turned to the second prince, Selene.
“Next, what is happening in the north?”
“As you all know, there is a Spirit Wall in the north. The Marked People have been quiet lately, but we must stay alert. They probably know that the Grantz Empire is in turmoil.”
About five hundred years ago, a strange race of people was discovered in the northern part of the Grantz Empire. They scavenged for dead flesh, and the people named them “Flesh-eaters” and hated them, so they began to kill them. However, they were defeated because they possessed physical abilities beyond those of ordinary humans.
A sub-race called the “Marked People” was born from the subjugation team. They possessed intelligence and physical abilities that far surpassed those of the “Flesh-eaters.”
When the “Marked People” began to overtake the Flesh-eater, they began to invade the north. However, the emperor’s power of the time, a man who later became one of the Grantz Twelve Great Gods, and the combined power of the spirits pushed them to the western edge of the north. ――The north succeeded in driving them into an “uncharted territory.”
However, they could not be completely destroyed, and the emperor of the time built a “Spirit Wall” to contain them in the “uncharted territory.” Five hundred years have passed since then, but they are still watching vigilantly on the other side of the wall, looking to expand into the northern regions.
“We’ve seen the advance troops, the Flesh-eaters, near the wall. They are probably hoping that our defenses will be thin. We can’t afford to move a large army for that reason. We have 26,000 – 30,000 in total since we brought 4,000 to the Great Imperial Capital. Although they don’t have much experience in actual warfare, they are well trained. I think I have assembled an elite force. I do hope you’ll understand.”
“No, everyone is aware of the situation in the north. The instability of the situation. But when will the remaining 26,000 arrive at the Great Imperial Capital?”
“It will take about a month for them to reach the capital, just like Rosa.”
“I see… So, what about the Mark family next?”
Prime Minister Gils couldn’t hide his disappointment and popped the question to the Mark family.
The man who would be joining the five great noble families stood up proudly.
Orléans Longwill von Mark.
They were originally merchants, but after their grandfather invested a huge amount of money in the previous emperor and put him on the throne, he became a baron of the Grantz Empire. Therefore, the history of the Mark family is relatively short, and it is not a venerable and famous family.
Nevertheless, they have achieved a great deal over the past three generations and have risen to become one of the five great noble families.
By using the negotiation skills he inherited from his grandfather and the imperial knowledge he received from his father, Orléans was able to become the head of the family at a young age.
There is no doubt about his skill, and his ability is well known.
“Due to the lingering effects of the rebellion, we can’t gather as much as we hoped, but many nobles have offered to help us.”
That’s not surprising. Since the Six Kingdoms have already penetrated deep into the west, the nobles who have territories in the vicinity have no choice but to cooperate.
“Even so, the number that can be moved is around 20,000. If all of them were to join forces, it would be more than 40,000, but we decided that it would be better to use them to defend the central and maintain public order until reinforcements arrive.”
Orléans said and then picked up a report.
“The security situation is worsening because people from the west are fleeing to the Central. Bandits have started to attack the people in the west, and I think that is one of the reasons. Above all, the report says that the winter has brought a shortage of food and that monsters are targeting the people in the west.”
If this is one of the measures that the Six Kingdoms have come up with, it is safe to assume that they have quite a few military strategists.
They are definitely trying to contain their movements and cut down the west.
(The assassination of the head of the Krone family, one of the five great noble families, followed by the rebellion of Stobel, the death of the emperor, the invasion of the west, the march to Felzen, the damage to the refugees… And we lost two of our five great generals. I can’t deny the decline in war potential.)
There is a high possibility that they are still trying to do something else. Although it needs a way to contain them, the Grantz Empire continues to be on the back foot before it has a chance to gain a foothold. Everyone is aware of this fact. The heavy air swirling in the guest room was a clear indication of this.
“We can only hope that Her Highness Celia Estrella will return from the south as soon as possible.”
What the Grantz Empire needs now is time. They need to buy time in order to build up the strength to defeat the Six Kingdoms. But if they leave it to luck, it will never come true.
“We can’t keep hoping.”
Hiro stood up and spoke his mind.
“As I said before, it’s imperative that we buy some time now. For now, we should head west with only those who can move quickly ― 20,000 troops.”
“I have heard of that idea, but it is too dangerous. If the third prince Blutar is captured and the fourth prince Hiro is also captured, it will not make a good impression on the surrounding countries… There will be people who will ridicule the fact that the era of the Grantz Empire is over.”
One of the nobles said sorrowfully.
However, now is not the time to be concerned about face-to-face meetings. If anything, his statement seemed too pessimistic. Hiro thought about reprimanding the weak noble to get the moment going, but he changed his mind, thinking that it would lead to unnecessary friction.
“I understand your concern. But if we keep our hands to ourselves, the west will surely be cut off. If the Six Kingdoms get a foothold in the Central, it will be extremely difficult to retake the west.”
“You are right. However, I think that it is not right for Your Highness Hiro to be sacrificed just to buy more time. More importantly, isn’t it easier to retake the west if we gather the power of the Grantz Empire?”
“That’s true. As long as the current situation can be maintained, it will certainly be easy to retake it. However, the political situation is changing every moment. The more time that passes, the more likely it is that someone will have second thoughts. This was also the case during the last rebellion. It’s also meant to be a check by making a clear move here.”
“There are certainly many people who harbor double-mindedness, but such people can be found in any country. But, you see, the Grantz Empire is not so weak or naive as to be defeated by the intentions of such people.”
The great lion nation that dominates the world has survived for a thousand years.
There have been several times when the country has been in turmoil to the point of collapse. In the long history of the country, there have been more than one or two rebellions. There were times when the country was split in two by ugly battles between the heirs to the throne.
Repression, massacres, dictatorships, invasions, assassinations, the list goes on and on.
However, in every era, the power of the “king” still remained.
(Good grief… I can’t feel the Spirit King’s power anymore.)
The spirits still remain in the world and watch over people. But, Hiro couldn’t feel the presence of the Spirit King, the creator of the spirit, since he came to this world.
It would be fine if Hiro’s senses were merely dull and unaware, but if he put his faith in wishful thinking, the nation would collapse.
If anything, the Spirit King’s departure from the world would explain the various problems that have erupted and the repeated wars that have occurred. If the existence of the Spirit King is really gone from the world, it means that from now on, people must walk the path of their own thinking and open up the era only with their own power.
(That’s why I need insurance. An insurance policy that will ensure the survival of the Grantz Empire.)
The preparations have been made. All that remains is to put it into action. No one can stand in their way.
Hiro exhaled a sigh and smiled fearlessly.
“Weakness and laxity have nothing to do with it. Repeated wars have put pressure on the finances of the Grantz Empire. We have to renew our armor, pay our soldiers, build and repair our forts, and so on. This time, with the gathering of troops from other regions, the treasury will be further depleted.”
War requires a huge amount of resources. There have been many countries that have perished due to lack of funds because they started wars without a plan.
Wars are waged for political purposes, whether they are beneficial to the country or not.
It is up to the parties involved to decide where the threat is directed, within or without…
(For the Six Kingdoms, this war is worth fighting.)
If they know they will lose ― they won’t start a war.
“I don’t understand what you mean. Do you want us to give the Six Kingdoms the West? It’s a contradiction in terms of what you just said earlier, isn’t it…? Give them territory without fighting back and protect your existing wealth.”
“Will you please listen to me until the end…?”
Hiro didn’t even attempt to hide his anger at being interrupted and glared at the nobleman who had spoken without permission.
Looking at the silent nobleman, Hiro revealed the uneasiness that was coiled in his chest.
“Once again… Due to the repeated wars, the prices of goods have skyrocketed, the economy has stagnated, life has become impoverished, and the people are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the unstable situation. In such a situation, the people’s anger would reach its peak if we let the outrage of the Six Kingdoms go unchecked. In other words, to leave the west behind is to commit a foolish act and is equivalent to abandoning the support of the people.”
It would be unacceptable to stand idly by and not help the west until the forces are ready. The people will think that their country has abandoned them. There is a high possibility that the western nobles will turn on them.
The effect of this will be felt throughout the entire Grantz.
“So now is the time to go to the west and fight the Six Kingdoms, even if it is only 20,000.”
The Grantz Empire, which had been forced to fight, would have to weigh the sacrifices it would have to make against the benefits it would receive. Whether to conclude a peace treaty or launch a thorough counterattack, it is necessary to assess the value.
(We should launch a counterattack. Even if we are few in number… we should fight to protect the dignity of territory, people, and authority ― these three.)
Among them, the biggest concern is that there will be riots. It’s easy to suppress them with force, but it’s not an act to ease the discontent; it’s an act to add fuel to the fire. It may be a temporary solution, but it is not a solution. What lies ahead of the crackdown is the collapse of the nation.
“I understand what you’re saying, but… what can you do with only 20,000?”
“I have a plan. If you leave it to me, I’m sure I can live up to your expectations.”
Hiro said with confidence and without hesitation.
“A plan that would allow a mere 20,000 to take on an army of 150,000? Is that what Your Highness Hiro says?”
The nobleman’s eyes shone with some expectation. It’s not just one or two people. Most of the people gathered in this room have that glow in their eyes. Hiro smiled inwardly at being able to draw interest.
“Not only will it buy us time, but it will also reduce their strength.”
Everyone responded with surprise at these words. Once he had the atmosphere of the place under control, all he had to do was to make things go his way. Hiro cross-referenced the report and placed the pieces.
“The Six Kingdoms are dispersing their forces and attacking to the west. It would be very troublesome if they were all together, but now that they are dispersed, we can bring them into equal numbers.”
If the danger is too great, they will retreat gracefully, but they will strike fiercely if they think they can win.
“In order to win a war, it is important to understand the situation of the battlefield and its characteristics, as well as the skill of the commander. If you can detect the foreseeable dangers in advance, winning is not that difficult.”
When dealing with a large army, you have to devise a plan, but when dealing with dispersed individual forces, the difference in the commander’s intuition and experience will determine the winner.
“If we can turn back one or two of the enemy’s armies, I think we will have a chance to win.”
Before he could get to the bottom of the matter with an exaggerated hand gesture, he spoke next.
“I expect you to cooperate. This is a time when we need everyone’s cooperation, across factions.”
It’s something he’s wished for many times. In order to deal with this extraordinary situation, everyone needs to be on the same page in order to defeat the Six Kingdoms. If the nobles, which are not concerned with the situation because it is happening in a remote place, do not wake up, there is no future for the Grantz Empire.
Of course, if they are told that, there is no one who can say no to a matter of national importance.
However, there were a few people who looked at Hiro suspiciously.
Among them, the one who looked at him strangely was Prime Minister Gils, but the one who was even more curious was Orléans, the head of the Mark family. Hiro sensed a hint of strangeness from him, but after giving him a quick glance, he didn’t pay any attention to it and began to explain without hesitation.
“The point is, we just need to buy some time. If we can keep them in the west for a long time, we will win. After that, we will join forces with reinforcements from various regions, challenge them to a decisive battle, and use that momentum to push them back to Felzen.”
After regaining the west, they pushed forward to establish their control again. Once they had defeated the Six Kingdoms, which had attacked with a large army, the surrounding countries, which had been very noisy, would have no choice but to remain silent.
Hiro looked at the faces of the surrounding nobles.
“The first thing I want you to do is to agree to attack the Six Kingdoms with the minimum number of troops.”
He added, “Please raise your hands.” One by one, the nobles raised their arms.
“Fumu… I see no one is opposed.”
The Prime Minister said in an emotionless voice.
“It is truly wonderful. Your Highness Hiro’s dedication will be remembered for generations to come. We of the Mark family and the central nobility will give you our wholehearted support.”
It was Orléans who poured out his praise. He was nodding his head with applause.
A strange feeling of discomfort swirled in Hiro’s mind at the sight of him, but he didn’t feel the need to devote his precious time to a formless object, and he immediately pushed it to the corner of his mind.
(If he’s up to something, I can just crush him as soon as he tries it.)
For the time being, they were able to proceed according to Hiro’s intentions. He should be happy about that for now.
“So… let’s start the strategy meeting to defeat the Six Kingdoms.”
Hiro smiled and began to place the pieces on the map.