It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (82/107), enjoy~
There was a stench of death in the air. A stench so dreadful that it drove the sense of smell crazy and so fishy that it burned the chest, eroding the air.
The grasslands were covered with burnt corpses of soldiers, all gasping in agony. When the wind blew, the hot air that was left over from the battlefield spread all around.
“Are you going?”
In a scene filled with mute wreckage, the person answered the silver purple girl.
There is no way to see the expression on the face of the person who picked up the remnants of the flag that had fallen to the ground.
The person’s face was covered by a mask.
“This is just the beginning.”
The voice with no inflection suggested that it was a man. But whether he was sad or laughing, it was impossible to sense any joy, anger, or sorrow.
In the ruins of a battlefield filled with death and hatred, the masked man turns his head around to look around.
In the depths of his mask, his right eye, which was shrouded in darkness, was filled with golden light.
“A thousand years of stagnant time has begun to move.”
The masked man quietly took a step forward. He stomped on the weeds that were blackened with blood and walked with ease and without hesitation.
No one in this world can stop his steps.
In a world where the flowers of death are in full bloom, it is as if the living cannot exist except him.
“The world is in turmoil; a turning point has come.”
It was not a voice speaking to anyone. Yet his voice trembled as if he wanted someone to hear him.
However, no one in this place could give him a reply.
“The endpoint is fixed.”
The masked man raised his hand to the sky and gripped the sun tightly.
“――Because everything is one.”
Chapter 1 – Gears Begin To Go Haywire
It’s early in the morning ― just after the sun has risen, and the edges of the sky are still as dim as a haze.
Morning fog envelops the area, and the city disappears as if it were sinking to the bottom of the water.
While the ground was obscured from view, far to the east was the majestic Glaozarm Mountains, bathed in the chilly morning sunlight and glistened with the white snow accumulated on their peaks.
In such a fantastic world of white smoke, a sound disproportionate to the silence rang out.
It was a noisy, chilling sound that rushed through the air, shaking the atmosphere far away.
A storm of violent metallic sounds that shook the divine world swirled in the sky.
Beneath the azure sky, where mystery and noise are intertwined, a metropolis worthy of the name of luxury and splendor sits on its haunches.
It was Cladius, the capital of the Grantz Empire, also known as the Great Imperial Capital.
It is one of the most ancient cities in the world, still standing after a thousand years.
Centered on the magnificent imperial palace of Venetian, the city is surrounded on all sides by a richly scenic landscape, with solid walls protecting it.
At its main entrance ― the so-called main gate ― more than 100,000 troops were lined up in an orderly fashion.
This was the source of the strange noise that had just been made and the cause of the early morning atmosphere.
Therefore, there was no such thing as silence on this day ― the Great Imperial Capital was covered with a disproportionate amount of noise.
It started with a shout.
“God of War!”
It was unclear who shouted it first. Even so, the thoughts in a loud voice were certain, and they were filled with sincere sadness.
“God of War! God of War!”
The heat that blew away the fog was spreading rapidly.
One person shouting became two, three became four, and so on. At some point, one person’s cry became a chorus, shaking the world, shaking the ground, and piercing the air.
“God of War! God of War! God of War! God of War!”
The temperature was more like freezing than chilly, but the heat that never cooled down was launched into the sky one after another.
In the face of the overwhelming mass difference of the raging screams, the heavens cede control to the people. The air was shaken with a loud voice, and the clouds were torn apart by angry voices laced with hatred.
“Revenge! Revenge! Revenge! Revenge!”
As the soldiers continued to shout vigorously, the drums beat in response.
“This is a war of revenge! Let’s bring the hammer of our anger down on the Six Kingdoms!”
A large number of soldiers beat their swords against their shields, and the droplets of mist that clung to them flew apart. The glittering droplets reflected the faces of the soldiers stamping their feet in rage.
“You people! We should be offering silent prayers right now!”
Unable to bear the sight of the rowdy soldiers, the superior called out to stop them, but the momentum did not stop. As if to add fuel to the fire, the heat of their anger only increased visibly.
“Let our anger roar! Let our grief roar!”
March 8, 1024th year of the Imperial Calendar.
On this day, shocking news came to the Great Grantz Empire.
It was the death of Hiro Schwartz, the fourth prince, on the Larix Plains in the west.
The people shed tears, the soldiers revealed their anger, and the nation’s spirit sank to a low point.
“O Spirit King! Hear us in our anger! Embrace our grief and soothe it!”
Several bannermen raised their banners and raised a cloud of dust. As they weaved through the gaps in the ranks, they raised the “Lion’s Banner” into the sky.
“Twelve great gods of Grantz! Illuminate our path and dispel the darkness!”
The Great Grantz Empire, the ruler of the Central Continent for a thousand years, was in turmoil.
Two months have already passed since the Six Kingdoms, which control the Krim region on the western edge of the Central Continent, invaded the west.
The threat was growing day by day, and the damage was immeasurable.
Firstly, people lost their homes, and refugees were created, and secondly, security deteriorated as bandits and monsters ran rampant.
Secondly, the loss of two of the five great generals, the nation’s symbols, weakened the nation’s power.
Thirdly, the central chain of command was completely paralyzed due to the successive deaths of the emperor and the royal family.
However, even with all these sacrifices, the Great Grantz Empire was still unable to move. Because of its vast territory, the Grantz Empire continued to be on the back foot.
“Let the heavens punish the Six Kingdoms! Let the thunder of our anger rain down upon their heads!”
The anger of the soldiers must have been directed at the nobles, who remained silent.
“Revenge war against the Six Kingdoms! Let our glorious emperor challenge us to a war of revenge!”
The soldiers began to shout, praying for the hope of a long neck crane towards the Great Imperial Capital.
With eyes filled with anger, they glared at the giant castle perched on the horizon.
By this time, the fog that had been covering the entire area had cleared.
The sun was peeking through the clouds, allowing the beautiful Great Imperial Capital to be seen as usual. However, the air surrounding the Great Imperial Capital seemed to be stagnant.
Whether it was due to the tragic news or the will of the heavens considering the feelings of the angry soldiers, unfortunately, no one could understand the true meaning.
Once through the main gate of the Great Imperial Capital, visitors are greeted by the central street, where stalls are set up. Now that the Six Kingdoms have invaded, all the merchants have fled the city. Although it’s not as empty as it used to be, it’s not as prosperous as it used to be, and it’s deserted.
Still, there were a few people who opened stores.
However, in contrast to the soldiers outside, they offered silent prayers without raising their voices, even abandoning their merchant’s temperament.
Beyond that line of sight, the colossal statues of the twelve great gods of Grantz stood on either side of the street, glaring at the people. The most popular among them is the one called the “God of War.” It is the bronze statue of the “Heroic King of the Twin Blacks” and the “Second Emperor” who built the foundation of the Great Grantz Empire.
“Our God of War… bring back the spirit of the fourth prince Hiro.”
People were kneeling in front of the “God of War” as they gathered around.
The season of spring is approaching, but the cold weather is still continuing.
Their breath was white, and their hands were too cold to move as they wished. Just looking at them, one can feel the cold. However, the central street was filled with people kneeling on the ground praying.
No one’s face was contorted in pain, and everyone’s eyes were wet with sorrow.
A statue of the “Goddess of Beauty” stood a short distance away. She is the only one of the twelve great gods of Grantz who is not an emperor, and she is one of the pillars of the gods.
At the goddess’s feet, people were also bending their backs in prayer with their arms outstretched.
“Please… Your Highness Hiro… first Princess Shrine Maiden… please, please.”
Some were praying to the gods.
“What are they doing? It appears that His Highness Hiro led only forty thousand!”
“The Grantz Empire is full of incompetents who sent him into this reckless battle!”
“Even a layman can understand what the emperor is thinking…”
Some did not even try to hide their dissatisfaction with the Grantz family, and they were complaining to the imperial palace.
In such a palace, an urgent military meeting is about to be held.
“…..The people’s anxiety is growing by the day, isn’t it?”
A woman who had been watching the city from a window looked back behind her with a shade on her lustrous face. The leading nobles gathered in the room ― their faces dominated by a somber expression.
The news of the death of a man amid his strength comes as a great shock. A heavy air of mourning and moaning drifted through the antechamber.
The woman let out a small exhale and sat down on the chair that had been prepared for her.
“Then let us begin the war council.”
She declared in a solemn tone, Myste Cagliara Rosa von Kelheit.
She is a woman who exudes a bewitching atmosphere of seductiveness in her beautiful face. At the same time, she also possesses the arrogance of a great noblewoman who is not ashamed of her title as acting head of the Kelheit family, and the strength of her competitive spirit shines behind her lustrous blue eyes.
But now that sharpness has faded, and she’s showing a lot of exhaustion.
“The forces we have called in from all over are in place. Now we just need to figure out when we are going to depart…”
Once she finished her speech, Rosa looked into the face of the noble lords to see what was going on around her. In the end, her blue eyes caught sight of a pale, thin, unhealthy-looking man.
“But first, I have one question for you.”
Prime Minister Gils raised his right hand, shaking the sleeve of his left arm.
When Rosa silently urged him to go on.
“I can’t see Her Highness Celia Estrella; what is she doing?”
At this point, the other nobles and lords began to look around the room with curious faces.
When the emperor and the other princes were alive and well, no one showed any sign of caring whether Liz was present or not. However, she was always very alert at times like this, so Rosa naturally had to put on a frown.
“She seemed to have fallen a bit ill, so I’m letting her rest for the day.”
Rosa said, careful not to let anyone notice what she was hiding inside.
This made Prime Minister Gils tilt his head to indicate his suspicion.
“Is she all right? As commander, she has to conquer the Six Kingdoms.”
“That’s fine then…”
With the immediate answer, Prime Minister Gils closed his mouth.
There is no sign that the nobles and lords are going to pursue the matter. He didn’t want to give Liz a bad impression by complaining or grumbling here.
“The doctor has examined her and says she will recover after some rest.”
Rosa tried to keep as calm as possible, but the anxiety in the back of her mind was getting bigger and bigger. She didn’t know if Liz would be able to go to war or not.
(I thought love, affection, and the like… were still too early and out of touch for Liz…)
When Liz heard that Hiro had been killed in action, she could not bear the shock and started hyperventilating.
Rosa had tried to calm her down but to no avail. She was so upset that she hit her head hard in the process, which caused her to pass out. According to the doctor, her inability to wake up was mainly due to her mental state.
(At that time, I’ll have to think of another way, such as doubles or…)
Right now, Aura and Skaaha are taking care of Liz at the Kelheit family mansion.
Above all, Rosa could understand what Liz was going through. She wanted to cry and scream as well.
(Even so, my position does not allow me to do so…)
In the near future, Liz would have to let go of her grief. The place she is aiming for will not allow her to reign with her naive feelings.
That’s why Rosa has to give her time, just for now… just for now.
(Liz… cry a lot, and be sad. You won’t be able to do that eventually…)
Rosa’s gaze falls on her own waist. She looked at the “Lion King” that Hiro had given her before leaving and exhaled as she clutched the handle.
(I’ll hate you.)
After muttering in her mind, Rosa turned her gaze to the people around her again.
“So, as I said earlier, when should we go into battle…?”
“I suppose we’d better go into battle tomorrow. The soldiers can’t be held back any longer. We don’t know what will happen if we postpone any longer.”
Rosa reacted to Prime Minister Gils’s words and voiced her opinion.
“No, can’t you make it in two days?”
The other nobles snorted at this as if to show their disapproval. This was because they were already ready to go, and there would be no problem if they went into battle tomorrow.
However, it would be very difficult to go into battle tomorrow when it was uncertain when Liz would wake up. Above all, if she needs a double, she needs to secure as much time as possible.
That’s why ― while keeping the real reason a secret ― Rosa said the next important thing to do.
“Actually, I’m waiting for a letter from Her Majesty Queen Claudia.”
“You mean the Levering Kingdom…?”
“Yes, that’s right. According to the letter I received the other day, something is going on in the Six Kingdoms camp. The next letter that arrives should contain the details.”
As Rosa explained, one of the northern nobles opened his mouth.
“What is Her Majesty Queen Claudia doing?”
Everyone gathered here knows that she has rushed to reinforce the army. However, instead of stopping at the Great Imperial Capital, her troops went off the road and disappeared.
“It seems that Her Majesty Queen Claudia is heading west with her own army alone to deal with the Six Kingdoms.”
“Wha… how can that be allowed to happen?”
“Yes, that’s right. This is the Great Grantz Empire, not the Levering Kingdom. What are those lowly demons doing running around as if it were their own garden?”
“It seems that they don’t understand their own position. Let us make a serious protest here.”
When one of them exploded with emotion, the rest of the nobles spewed out verbal abuse. Even though a thousand years have passed, the fear of the demon race among the human race has not completely disappeared.
Above all, it was natural for them to become restless when they were running around freely in their own country.
“I understand how you feel, but… now is not the time.”
A heavy, stern voice came from Prime Minister Gils. The fact that he was slightly dismayed is probably because he saw the unworthy appearance of the nobles and lords who were upset just because they were demons.
“Above all, through the arrangement of the fourth prince Hiro and the second prince Selene, they were given freedom of action. It’s not something that we can say anything about.”
The fourth prince who gave the special privilege died in battle, but it would cause unnecessary anger if he were blamed. The other one, the second prince, did not appear at the war council, nor did he accompany them on the mission. Nevertheless, complaining to him would only lead to the creation of many enemies, and they were afraid to mention the names of the two princes, no matter what the noble lords thought of them in their hearts.
After watching the noble lords fall silent, Prime Minister Gils threw a glance at Rosa.
“So, will the letter arrive tomorrow or the day after?”
She nodded vigorously in response to his question.
“There is a high probability that depending on the content of the letter; the plan will be reconsidered. It would be better to go to war in two days.”
The other nobles seemed to be in general agreement.
After confirming that the other nobles were generally in favor of the idea and that there were no objections, Prime Minister Gils continued to speak.
“Also, regarding the fourth prince Hiro’s death in battle, the Six Kingdoms are spreading so widely…”
“Is the report of His Highness Hiro’s death credible?”
Prime Minister Gils replied to the southern nobleman’s question.
“There is a possibility that it is a lie from the Six Kingdoms, but seeing as there has been no word from His Highness Hiro, I would say it is highly likely.”
“Indeed… it is better not to get our hopes up too high.”
The southern nobleman sighs lamentably ― and the good-looking southern nobleman next to him chains his words together.
“It’s the reason why the people are criticizing the military. There’s a lot of resentment in the country, and you never know when it might break out. In addition, a series of blunders by the central nobility has greatly reduced the strength of the central government.”
“Sir, you are right; the unrest of the people is indeed a cause for concern.”
It wasn’t Prime Minister Gils who replied.
It was Vetu, the head of the Muzuk family, one of the five great noble families that led the southern nobility.
“It’s time to think of a way to deflect the discontent in order to ensure the smooth operation of the state.”
His words were full of confidence, and he knew not the slightest doubt about his subjectivity.
Prime Minister Gils frowned in annoyance and gave a blatant shrug of his shoulders.
“Lord Muzuk… shouldn’t we first deal with the Six Kingdoms that are running amok in the west?”
“Prime Minister Gils, may I ask why?”
“You don’t have to ask. In fact, the Six Kingdoms are on the rampage in the west. If we don’t defeat them, the very existence of the Grantz Empire will be in jeopardy. The people’s dissatisfaction is of secondary importance.”
“I wonder what are you talking about…?”
Vetu shrugged his shoulders in disgust.
“If we’re going to go into battle in two days, we should at least try to allay some of the public discontent.”
“If we don’t get rid of the Six Kingdoms, we will never be able to find peace. The people will just have to put up with it for now.”
“No, there is only one way to ease the discontent.”