It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (65/96), enjoy~
January 12th, 1024th year of the Imperial Calendar.
It was winter, and the rising sun did nothing to ease the dry, cold air. Still, this was the only day when people were not confined to their homes but were out in the heat of the day.
The central streets of the Grantz Empire were filled with cheering people.
Under a sky of mixed white and blue, confetti made of paper was flying through the air. The air was shivering with incessant applause and resounding cheers.
The crowds occupied both sides of the road, and marching in the center were a group of strong men.
Hiro, a descendant of the “God of War, ” was leading the way,” astride his swift dragon. He waved to the crowd with a cheerful smile on his face.
“Glory to the Great Grantz Empire!”
“May the twelve great gods of Grantz bless you!”
The people spoke words of farewell to the fourth prince. They were combined with the graceful music played by the musicians to form a chorus. This heroic march inspired the hearts of everyone, including the soldiers.
The wind blows. It was a gentle breeze that seemed to bestow blessings on the soldiers who were going into battle. The flag that swept gracefully across the sky was the emblem of the black dragon ― the “divine flag” that only the God of War could raise.
Sighs of admiration flew out of the mouths of the people. The eyes of those who gazed at the elegantly fluttering flag were filled with pure respect.
There was no such thing as high class or low class there.
The twin-black hero-king who built the foundation of the Grantz Empire.
Soldiers of all ranks were saluting Hiro with the greatest of admiration.
The number of soldiers following Hiro was 20,000 ― made up of the private armies of the central nobility.
The soldiers mentioned earlier belonged to the eastern nobility and would not be accompanying Hiro on his mission.
The reason for this was that Hiro insisted on using only the central nobility in order to emphasize cooperation.
Hiro removed his gaze from the people and looked at the breastwork built above the main gate.
(…..I’ve asked you to do the rest.)
The person who had opposed Hiro’s argument until the very end was reflected in his eyes.
She gave a small wave of her hand and a stiff smile. It’s an unusually melancholy attitude for someone who has always acted so stoutly.
Hiro narrowed his eyes and formed a caring smile, but she didn’t smile back.
He knows why. They even argued last night, which is a rare occurrence. At the end of the night, there was no way to convince her.
(When everything is over… I’ll be back.)
Hiro felt his hair stand on end, but for now, he tried to look ahead and failed. The reason is that he spotted a curious sight out of the corner of his eye.
“That girl is…”
He couldn’t help but shout.
He spotted a girl in the crowd with her hands held up, and her voice raised.
He remembers it well. It’s an event he couldn’t possibly forget.
The first time he made his triumphant return to the Great Imperial Capital, she had presented Hiro with a red flower.
Today, the flower is in her hand again. However, there was no sign of her approaching.
He thought selfishly that she might have been put off by the noisy crowd, but then he realized that the atmosphere she wore was different from that time. She was staring at Hiro sadly ― or perhaps resentfully.
Hiro’s whole body felt like it was burning at the sight of such an outpouring of emotion that was not typical of a child. But before he could speak to her, the girl disappeared into the darkness that pervaded the alleyway.
“…..Am I making the wrong decision?”
As if asking someone, Hiro looked up at the sky and muttered to himself. But there was no one to answer him. Even he himself could not find a clear answer.
As Hiro smiled to himself, the swift dragon passed through the main gate.
A loud cheer erupted from behind him.
With a quiet fighting spirit, Hiro pulled out the “Heavenly Emperor” from his waist.
“Glory to the Great Grantz Empire, and may it be blessed in our path.”
The brilliant radiance of the “Heavenly Emperor” shone down upon the ground, and the flowers and grass danced with joy.
(Until we meet again… please be healthy.)
After saying goodbye to the girl he had in his mind, Hiro looked forward.
There is no stopping him when he starts to move. His heart is boiling, and he pursues the battlefield. His hungry heart yearns for war, where his flesh and blood boil and dance.
“It’s an honor to be able to fight alongside the descendant of the God of War.”
In response to the voice that came from next to him, he looked over to see Orléans, the head of the Mark family, wearing silver armor, riding a horse. The way he clutched the reins without bending his back was quite a sight to behold.
“I will do my best to assist you so that you won’t be slowed down.”
“There’s no need to get too worked up. It’s just a way to stall for time, after all.”
Hiro gave Orléans a cold stare as if he were looking at a scandalous person.
“Your Highness Hiro must have a plan, don’t you? It has already been rumored among the nobles that you will create a new legend that will rival that of your ancestor.”
His mouth moved as if it had been greased, and Hiro was not happy with his brusque manner of speaking.
He can’t figure out how serious he is about this… frivolous attitude.
It’s endearing if he’s just flattering Hiro for fame and achievement… but there’s no way a man like that can rise to the level of the five great noble families. He must be planning something, for sure.
“Even if there is a groundbreaking plan to defeat 150,000 with 20,000, the chances of failure are higher. How can you come along with such a reckless battle?”
Hiro made a light probe. It’s more of a check and balance…
“If there’s even a ten percent chance of winning, I’ll go along with it no matter what.”
“It’s a tightrope fight. If we’re not careful, we’ll be wiped out.”
“But if we win, our name will be engraved on a page of history. The central nobility, who are dissatisfied with me as a newcomer, will gladly join my command.”
“Is that your goal, to use this war to establish your position…?”
He may have meant it, but Hiro didn’t think he’d revealed all of his innermost thoughts. He is still hiding something. How can Hiro fish out his true feelings that have sunk to the bottom of his dark belly?
“Of course. If there is no profit and only loss, no one will follow me. Everyone goes to war because of the potential for huge profits.”
“Some of these soldiers care about their country. Not just people like you.”
“Yes, there are, but most of them want to make a name for themselves.”
Hiro heard Orléans’ words and came to an uncomfortable answer. He realized that he was fundamentally incompatible with this man and that there was a definite difference between them.
This man has no need for a country. It’s just a business partner for him to make money.
(He’s a merchant at heart. I’d be reassured if the situation was stable…)
“Aren’t you one of them?”
Orléans asked Hiro.
“I’d say forty percent.”
Hiro is not a saint, so he is not giving free allegiance to the state. He also has more than a little of his own personal feelings mixed in.
However, he is not neglecting his country like Orléans.
“So, what is the position of this war in your mind, Your Highness Hiro?”
“Right. I’ll let you find that out in the battle.”
Hiro smiled coldly as he pushed him away painfully.
In contrast, Orléans also smiled, but his eyes were not smiling.
“I see… I haven’t gained Your Highness’ trust yet, have I?”
“It also depends on the future of the battle.”
Hiro replied nonchalantly and crossed his gaze with Orléans. There was a chilly laugh as they probed each other’s insides.
“I think it’s best to leave it at that…”
When they looked at the interrupting voice, Driks was running alongside them with a dumbfounded expression.
He’s a spy sent by Prime Minister Gils, and he has no intention of hiding it anymore. Or is it better to think that other spies are using him as bait to blend in?
“I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t question it in front of the soldiers. If word gets out that the commander and first officer don’t get along, it could affect morale in the future.”
It’s a fair point, but… they didn’t expect to be warned by him.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be careful in the future.”
Orléans hits the back of his head and says his apologies in a deliberate manner.
Hiro pulled the swift dragon away from Driks.
“There’s nothing wrong with that. This is fine…”
When he muttered as they passed each other, Driks raised an eyebrow as if he didn’t understand.
“More importantly, how are the roads? Can we use it for the march?”
“Due to the overflow of refugees, the army is not in a position to use them.”
“It’s still not possible, huh…?”
But that’s to be expected. This is because there is a way to take advantage of an opponent’s weakness by using an odd path rather than the right one.
“We will continue into the west by deviating from the road. Before that, can you send out scouts to check the position of the enemy army?”
In terms of alertness, the enemy is probably stronger than them. They should be able to see where gaps are being created. Hiro’s army is still at the backfoot. The first thing they need to do is to get behind the opponent by avoiding the road, and they need to get a better position to catch up.
After hearing Hiro’s order, Driks saluted on his horse and then left. His obsidian-like eyes were removed from his back, and Hiro looked up above him.
Looking at the clear blue sky, he let out a smile.
(I’m ready. I can see the path to victory. What remains to be seen is how my opponent will react.)
He must fight resolutely. Act cautiously so that the opponent does not understand.
“Then, Your Highness, Hiro, I will lead the advance party ahead of you.”
When Hiro replied, Orléans bailed lightly and left with his guards. All that remained was a few of his entourage, who had been left behind for the purpose of monitoring Hiro.
The situation of having enemies both inside and outside is so funny that it makes him laugh.
(Now, if my prediction is correct…)
The Six Kingdoms will either retreat without a fight or retreat after two or three battles. They’ll probably lure Hiro deep inside to make sure he can’t escape.
(I’ll use you… as a springboard for all my goals.)
In order to make the millennium’s grand plan come true again, Hiro tightened his grip on the reins as if to show his determination.