It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (93/115), enjoy~
“That’s just plain unbecoming.”
The desk shook.
An old general slammed his fist with a loud bang, causing a mixture of deadly energy and violent noise.
No one said a word.They could only silently wait for the anger to pass.
“There were 1,000 cavalry, 2,000 light infantry, and more than 4,000, if you included the seriously wounded. This is a lot of damage against just one thousand. Despite having 20,000 troops… this is the result.”
General McRill was devastated to have been caught in the enemy’s traps one after the other.
“They seem to have a lot of wisdom. Let’s deal with them calmly tomorrow and capture Fort Tullus. The soldiers who had been buoyed by this battle may have pulled themselves together.”
Perhaps trying to soothe General McRill’s anger, the staff members were desperately trying to come up with excuses with frustrated faces. But none of them would meet General McRill’s eyes, and their mouths slid together as if they were greased.
“I found in a past report that Fort Tullus was once occupied by our forces. It seems that it was abandoned just before the decisive battle with Fourth Prince Hiro, and they didn’t have time to destroy the fort, but it says that they seized all the rations and other supplies from the warehouse. So, in light of this, the opponent is not able to withstand a prolonged battle, and if we attack steadily, victory is certain.”
“Are you saying that you can make up for this blunder by bringing down that fragile fort?”
This time, instead of pulling themselves together, most of the soldiers were demoralized and useless. Even if the battle goes on for a long time, if the reinforcements of the Grantz Empire rush in, it is their side that will be outnumbered.
“Once again, I ask you… will your honor be restored if you really drop that fragile fort?”
No one answered because it couldn’t be regained.
Rebuke is inevitable ― no, it was a vile blunder that could have brought their heads down.
“So, first of all, we need to settle the matter. I have to take responsibility for this battle.”
Victory is a prerequisite, and defeat is worthy of death.
General McRill had three options in front of him: to launch a night attack, to fight carefully in tomorrow’s battle, or to join the main army and wait for decapitation.
There was no more room for a blunder.
With the forces of the Grantz Empire closing in, if the fortress could not be taken down even in tomorrow’s battle, the time frame would be tight.
Even if they were to launch a night raid, if they failed, their honor would never be restored, and even their superior, Luca, would be held responsible. Although the general was willing to lose his life, he didn’t want Luca to be punished. So, if they retreat without gaining anything, they should at least guarantee her safety.
“Let’s hear your opinion. What do you all think?”
As the heavy air filled the tent, the entrance was suddenly opened. It was the soldiers on guard who entered, and the gloomy gazes of the staff members flashed in unison.
“General McRill, may I speak…”
The soldier on guard came to General McRill with a nervous look on his face.
“The soldiers who had been taken prisoner have been released and have returned.”
General McRill frowned as a new challenge was thrown at him. What kind of plan is it to take the trouble to capture them and then immediately release them…?
It was a strange feeling, but at first, General McRill rose from his seat.
“Let’s see. Where are they?”
It was tempting to dispose of the weaklings who had made the mistake of being captured without even seeing them, but it was difficult to do so when the soldiers were so frustrated. If the commander were to show generosity, there was a chance that unity would improve. If he tried to reprimand them, morale would drop, and General McRill would quickly lose his grip on power.
“They are in front of the command center, sir.”
As General McRill began to walk, his staff followed behind him.
Outside, a chill clung to his body. General McRill exhaled a white breath as he approached the group hanging their heads.
“You’ve come back well. I am glad to see you are safe.”
After a few words of encouragement, General McRill asked a question.
“Now, can you explain to me what the situation is and why you were released?”
General McRill’s gaze fell on the figure of the group leader.
It was Weike, the captain of the second line.
His face was bandaged, probably from the treatment he had received, and his arm was hanging, possibly broken. Behind him, General McRill noticed that the same captives were bowing their heads in pain. Not a single one of them seemed to be unharmed.
In the midst of this, Weike, his blood-soaked bandages wrinkled, opened his mouth bitterly.
“I don’t know. We were released blindfolded without being questioned. We don’t know what’s going on, and we have no reason to believe that we can satisfy General McRill.”
Unable to hide his disappointment, General McRill unconsciously let out a deep sigh.
Weike noticed this and pressed his forehead against the ground.
“I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. Please, please spare my life!”
There was no ange,r thanks to the prevailing dismay, but Weike began a desperate plea as if he thought he would be beheaded.
“I think it would be best to be generous and forgive him for his unwanted advice. There are soldiers who are watching the situation, and I would appreciate it if you could calm your anger.”
An official leaned in close and whispered in the general’s ear.
Originally, he had no intention of punishing them. But when he looked around again, he saw that a large number of soldiers had indeed gathered. If he didn’t show tolerance here, he might end up sowing suspicion in the minds of the soldiers.
“Get them some food. The rest of you can concentrate on healing your injuries. It will help you in the future.”
He threw a warm look at Weike, who gave him a surprised look.
“There will be no punishment?”
“No need; it’s my fault that you’re in such a state.”
General McRill kneeled down on the ground and looked at Weike.
“Thank you! I will repay this debt on the battlefield!”
Shaking with emotion, Weike bowed his head and began to mutter words of loyalty. General McRill had a smile on his face. If word gets out, it will restore some of the lost wills to fight.
“Enough, let’s get your wounds treated first.”
General McRill pulled Weike’s hand and tried to get him to stand.
General McRill shouted dumbly.
What came into his eyes was…
“Goaah ― Buhh!”
Weike was spitting out a large amount of blood from his mouth.
On his back was a black sword that pierced him deeply and was darker than the darkness.
“I will slow down your thinking by using trickery, and in the end, I will attack and destroy you in one fell swoop.”
As Weike sank into a pool of blood, a masked man untied his bandages and spoke. A brilliant golden light overflowed from his right eye, shining brilliantly even in the dark night.
A chill ran down the General’s spine. His whole body stiffened, alerting him that this man was dangerous. The masked man took off his bloodstained cloak, exposing his white military uniform to the outside world.
“The essence of tactics, the iron law of victory, is the Art of War.”
The black sword pulled out from Weike’s back sprinkled the ground with fresh blood. A bonfire, flickering lights in the wind, and an eerie shadow dancing on the mask.
The figure, even wearing a white coat, repeatedly hiding, gives off a vague hint of being lost in the darkness. General McRill shuddered at the indistinct presence as if it had been there all along as if it had suddenly appeared, or even as if it had never existed.
“I need your head.”
Slowly, the man raised his right hand to his face.
“So disperse spectacularly.”
Holding up his index finger, he pronounced death upon General McRill.
“Draw your swords.”
The soldiers who had been lying flat behind the man stood up and drew their swords.
“Devour the enemy in front of you, and dedicate your souls to the heavens.”
While the soldiers were dumbfounded, they were slashed by the surrounding soldiers that looked like them.
The sound of tearing flesh echoed in the dark night. They were not given time to scream, and without understanding what had happened, their throats were pierced, ripped, gouged, crushed, and made to die.
However, seeing their allies fall down, those who had regained their senses began to show desperate resistance.
The clamor was supposed to be the sound of an enemy attack.
A moment later ― an explosion that echoed deep into the pit of their stomachs roared.
Feeling an intense light shining on his back, General McRill turned around and looked at it.
A pillar of fire was shooting up into the sky with great force.
If he remembered correctly, that was where the rations were stored.
The fierce blaze was proof that the devil had descended at the moment when the rations turned to charcoal.
He forgot to breathe, and he was out of breath.
“Wh… what happened…?”
The question popped out of his mouth as he stopped thinking about the situation he couldn’t understand.
“The first strategy is to humiliate, the second strategy is to inflict blows, and the third strategy is to discourage.”
He heard the sound of gravel being trampled. Amidst the clamor of the armored soldiers, he shuddered at the sound of a powerful presence quietly approaching him.
“You were never good enough for me.”
“Hah… hah, hah… haaah, ha.”
His breathing was unsteady. The pressure felt as if his heart was being clenched.
The masked man standing in front of him shows no signs of emotion, and his pure white robe, agitated by the wind, glitters dazzlingly.
“The battle is over. It will be complete with your death.”
The condescending attitude strangely did not make him angry. His petty hopes of not losing were shattered in an instant.
Even so, General McRill could not break the core that was boiling in his heart.
“Don’t talk nonsense.”
He has an existence to protect. This alone was enough to inspire him, and he drew his sword from its sheath.
As the blade glowed dimly in the bonfire, a muffled laugh echoed from the masked man.
“I’ll accept your spirit.”
He was defenseless, and no matter where he slashed from, he would be hit. The opponent was so huge.
“I shall give victory to Luca-sama!”
General McRill swung his sword with all his might, with a broken spirit.
“It’s too late.”
A single muttered word did not even reach General McRill’s eardrums. His head was already rolling on the ground. He didn’t even notice that he was dead. He was staring at the sky with a determined look on his face.
“Let me apologize… you were not an ordinary general. You were a brave general.”
“General McRill! You’re not going to get out of here alive――!?”
A violent swing ― an impact that gouges the ground ― gushed out in a straight line.
“…There’s nothing you can do about it.”
The masked man kicked the ground and slashed at the surviving officials.
“F-fight until the end, we’ll avenge General McRill!”
Such counterattacks are nothing more than child’s play.
The masked man casually slashes down the officials and robs them of their hope.
In the surrounding area, the fire from the overturned bonfires had spread to the tents.
The sparks were carried by the wind and spread around, causing the damage to spread even further.
A clear voice reverberated in the world that had begun to show signs of chaos.
“There’s a traitor!”
“Beware of those who have turned to the Levering!”
The food supply has been burned, the Grantz reinforcements have arrived, and if they don’t want to die, they should run.
Information is mixed up. It shook the night air, which was tinged with grief and added confusion.
Most of the captains had gathered in the command center. Having been attacked there by the masked man, they were naturally not in a position to fly orders.
There was a breakdown in the chain of command. There is nothing more pathetic than an army that has lost a superior to ask for instructions and a captain to rely on. All that is left to do is to throw an enemy disguised as a compatriot under the feet of a person who has fallen into a state of suspicion and anxiety, and with that act alone, the outrage of killing yesterday’s friend can be accomplished.
There is nothing more troublesome in warfare than syncretism. Preparing for night raids had also turned out to be a bad idea, and there are many shootouts in various places by soldiers who cannot understand the situation.
In the chaos of the battlefield, the masked man stood quietly.
“The human mind is weak… and is quickly overwhelmed by fear.”
As he drew his black sword, which was impaled on a corpse, a group of horsemen approached below him.
“This is enough for you, isn’t it? Any more than this and the damage to us will be ridiculous.”
“That’s right. Then let’s go back.”
“Yes, let’s retire to the fort and look forward to tomorrow morning.”
The masked man took the outstretched hand and jumped to the horse the woman was riding.
The masked men proudly pulled away from the main camp of the Six Kingdoms Urpeth detachment, which was screaming in grief.
What was left behind was a horrible scene of wailing and shouting.
One by one, the tents were ablaze, soldiers were on fire, and frightened horses were galloping around the camp.
The main camp of the Six Kingdoms Urpeth detachment burned to the ground, with screams cutting through the night.
The sky was clear, the floating white clouds swam gracefully, and the birds glided in the background.
Birds soared above the ground, wading through the black smoke that steamed the sky, wandering in search of the smell of burning flesh.
Swords on the ground, charred corpses still smoking, the heat of the battlefield still dominates the area. The devastation was so graphic that it made you want to cover your eyes.
Even from a distance, one could smell the stench of death.
Looking away from the burned-out tent, Hiro glanced sideways at the person standing next to him.
Claudia’s face was devoid of any emotion as she gazed at the battlefield with her hands on the breastworks.
“I guess tomorrow is our day, huh?”
“Maybe. But if you feel sorry for them, it was us who would have ended up like that.”
Hiro once again looked at the main camp of the Six Kingdoms Urpeth detachment, which had been left in ruins.
There is no sign of the living.
All that was left were monsters devouring the corpses, wild dogs fighting over the guts, and birds trying to get a piece of the action.
Last night’s surprise attack had left many of the enemy’s soldiers to die; their lives sucked out by the ground.
Still, a little over 10,000 soldiers should have survived, but they chose to flee in disgrace, and none of them remained.
“Well done. My soldiers would have to approve of you, Hiro-sama.”
“I’m glad to hear that. I wanted to be on good terms with you for the future.”
“So, what’s next?”
Claudia asked him.
“There are other armies of the Six Kingdoms that are on the rampage in various places. I’d like to take out as many of them as possible before joining up with the Grantz Army…”
“There are only about six hundred troops left in the fort. Including the 2,000 that are waiting in the rear, there are only a total of 2,600. As you can see, I’d rather not take any more damage than that.”
Hiro smiles at Claudia, who offers an honest opinion.
“I understand. Now let’s just deal with the Six Kingdoms and wait for the Grantz Army.”
“According to the letter I just received, the Grantz Army is expected to arrive in a few days.”
Claudia shows him the letter. The sixth princess’s seal was stamped on the envelope.
“At last, Liz is coming to this place…”
Hiro touched the mask with his right hand, seemingly to adjust its position.
“…I have decided to change my name.”
He’ll be foolishly honest about his name and not reveal his true identity. Until this plan is fulfilled, he will have no choice but to become a false “king.”
The time has come to abandon the new name and reclaim the old one.
“From now on, you may call me Surt.”
Claudia surrendered her body to the tremors of the warrior and gave him a look that was a mixture of admiration and envy.
She could not contain her excitement, and her smile widened with delight.
“As you say, our king. Our beloved lord.”
Claudia bowed deeply and took her vassal’s bow with a bewitching light in her eyes.
“Everything is as you wish it to be.”
There was once a jet-black king, a king of the past and present.
He shone more sublime than the sun, just like the gods.
His figure, shining with more compassion than the full moon, is just like a glittering demon.
The midnight sun that has devoured the darkness of three thousand worlds.
His name is ―― “The Black Dragon King.”