It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (95/115), enjoy~
March 18th, 1024th year of the Imperial Calendar.
The Great Grantz Empire ― Mark territory at the western end of the Central Region.
In the middle of the road leading to the Western Regions, 130,000 troops of Grantz led by Liz had spread out their encampment. In the center of the camp was a huge command center with a lion’s banner, and surrounding it was a flashy tent that emphasized its own glory.
The reason why Liz and the others are staying here is because the Six Kingdoms have rallied all their forces and set up camp on the Larix Plain. It was the place where Hiro was rumored to have been executed and the remains of the battlefield where many bodies were still exposed on the ground.
By coincidence, the place where Liz had set up her camp was the same place where Hiro had built his camp before the battle with the Six Kingdoms, and she and Aura were now walking through the camp as if they were following in his footsteps.
“I heard that the reconnaissance team came back from the Larix Plains.”
As Liz spoke to Aura, she noticed a soldier with a nervous look on his face who turned to salute her.
The nervousness was probably due to the fact that he had met Liz, but the main reason was probably because he was expecting a battle soon. After bowing to the soldier, Liz looked around.
Like the soldiers before her, the soldiers around her looked tense and absorbed in their duties.
The entire Grantz encampment was in a kind of tense state.
Even so, there was no sign of preoccupation, and if anything, the air was moderately tight. This would allow them to act immediately in case of an emergency.
Then Liz looked again at Aura, who was reading the report.
“Hmm, the enemy has been reduced from 160,000 to 100,000.”
The commander, Lucia withdrew, but it seems that they lost a significant number of troops due to the fight with Hiro and the resistance they encountered when looting in various places. However, morale is high due to the looting, and they have plenty of food reserves.
“Still, they are losing control. The Six Kingdoms are not able to control their large army. They’re not just looting; they’re attacking the unarmed people.”
Liz frowned at Aura’s report.
There have been repeated one-sided massacres in various places. The target of these massacres included the territories of western nobles who had turned. If they protested, their cities were razed to the ground and burned to the ground.
“There was no mercy. The western nobles who had turned were also executed, every last one of them. It seems that the Six Kingdoms have decided to destroy the Grantz thoroughly.”
They must have been caught off guard by the fact that they turned. They may have been overconfident that the Six Kingdoms would not attack. But as soon as they opened the gates and let them in, the slaughter began.
“It seems that some of them succeeded in repelling the attack.”
This is the reason why the number of people who have been killed is so high.
This is not a report that can be taken lightly, however. There were countless casualties. Thinking about those who are still being sacrificed somewhere else, Liz is struck by a heartbreaking sadness.
“The west is… going to have difficult times ahead.”
Aura said in a serious tone. Liz gave a slight nod and clutched her chest.
The people who have lost their homes, the bandits that appear, the rampaging monsters, even after the war is over, resentment continues to be created. It will take a great deal of time for the people of the west to enjoy peace and quiet. It’s war; it’s inevitable. How much easier would it be if they could see it that way?
“Let’s win first.”
When Aura lowered her eyebrows and lamented, Liz gently patted her head.
“It’s okay. We’ll get the beautiful west back, I promise.”
She said cheerfully, but her smile was hard because of the combination of depression and responsibility.
From now on, Liz would be faced with a lot of challenges. It was only natural, considering the pressure. That may be why Aura nodded obediently.
“Yes, I’ll do my best.”
Aura made a fist and looked up at the sky. In her eyes, there was a simple and beautiful sense of mission to overcome the difficulties.
“Aura’s father is in the west, isn’t he… is he okay?”
Aura nodded and took out a letter.
“They managed to defend the siege.”
When asked about the details, he said that Hiro had sent the letter in advance, and he chose to endure the enemy’s provocations instead of taking them, so he was safe. Is Liz good ― he never mentioned it.
If he did that, the people who lost their lives in this battle would not be rewarded.
Some people lost their lives for their country. Some lost their lives for their families. Some lost their lives in the hope of saving their friends.
This is a turbulent time when lives are at stake for the nation’s well-being.
It would be arrogant of the living to say that life has meaning only if you live. Not everyone goes to the place of death because they want to die.
“Aura’s father has to do his best, too. He is the one who raised Aura, so I’m sure his knowledge will be of great help.”
“Yes, you can use him like a horse and cart.”
Liz smiled at Aura’s reply.
“Now that everyone is waiting, let’s go to the war council.”
“Let them wait.”
It was a quick answer. Aura replied without hiding her grumpiness. Liz gave a wry smile because she didn’t understand Aura’s attitude either.
She probably feels uncomfortable about the fact that the five great noble families, the Muzuk family, which unites the southern nobility, are speaking as if it were their own. If Rosa had been there, there would have been no problem, but due to Vetu’s scheming, she could not accompany them in this battle. Because of this, the eastern nobles, who lost their lord, are being pushed back by the momentum of the southern nobles.
“If my sister were here, things would be a little different.”
“…The Muzuk family is planning to take territory from the five great nobles who lost their power.”
Aura’s concerns weren’t misguided, though.
“I’m not going to let Vetu do whatever he wants.”
The battle against the Six Kingdoms was changing the power structure of the five great noble houses.
The Mark family, which had taken the place of the fallen Krone family to unite the central nobility, was losing its centripetal force after its leader was killed in the war against the Six Kingdoms. One of the reasons for the loss of power was the fact that many rebels were born during the civil war, and the leading nobles were conquered.
The same is true for the Munster family, which held the western nobility together. After the death of the third prince Blutar, many of the western nobility changed their minds and turned to the Six Kingdoms. It was a factor that led to their downfall, and they died in the disaster.
The remaining family is the Scharm family, but the current head of the family is a puppet of the second prince Selene and never appears on the stage. They do not seem to have any ambition to invade from the north, which is why they do not have the support of the noble lords. Because of this, the five great noble houses, which are of the same rank as the Muzuk family, did not participate in this battle, and Vetu began to work to win over the small and medium-sized noble houses in each region, taking this opportunity to build up a large power.
This is why the content of military discussions was often biased towards the ideas of the Muzuk family.
“Disappointing… me more.”
Liz struggled to think of something to say to Aura, who felt unusually vulnerable.
At that moment――
Liz quickly reached for the “Flame Emperor” on her hip.
Aura also seemed to have noticed and looked in the same direction as Liz.
A clamor erupted at the point where their gazes stopped. They heard impatient voices shouting at each other.
“Is it a fight…? Let’s go.”
Liz hurried towards the place, accompanied by Aura.
Many of the soldiers heading to the battlefield are often overzealous. The commander would try to deepen the friendship by giving them alcohol to avoid discord as much as possible, but the bloodthirsty people often don’t do what they want.
“Get out of the way! What are you screaming about!”
Liz raised her voice to match the noise of the soldiers.
At the recognition of the commander ― the sixth princess, the soldiers looked perturbed, and the path was easily made. But there was no one to explain. Liz waded through the waves to find out what on earth was making the noise and to find out the cause.
Eventually, Liz arrived at a puddle of blood on the ground.
Liz choked on her breath. A large creature was lying in a pool of blood. Around it, soldiers were frantically tending to it.
“Get more bandages! What the hell is the doctor doing here?”
A soldier was shouting while stopping the spurting blood with a cloth.
“Hey, get some bandages right away; you go get the doctor too!”
A soldier walked past Liz at a brisk pace. His face was so agitated that he didn’t even notice her.
Liz approached the large creature with a stunning gait and bent her knees beside it.
“…I’m glad you’re back.”
When she touched the skin, she felt a rough texture. The warm blood stained her hands red.
The soldier, who may have seen her, opened his mouth in anger.
“Hey, you dare to―? Oh, no, it’s nothing, ma’am!”
He immediately noticed Liz’s true identity, turned his head away, and began to treat the creature silently.
Liz was oblivious to the soldier’s condition and continued to gently stroke the creature’s skin, not caring if it bled.
“…You’ve endured well.”
She was about to burst into tears when she saw the many arrows piercing the hard scales, but she tried her best to hold back. She could not afford to cry in front of the soldiers.
Aura was sitting at the edge of her moistened vision, placing a cloth over the spot where the arrow had pierced.
“Yes, it’s the swift dragon. She’s got all these wounds…”
It is a difficult creature that is said to be unfriendly to humans. But for some reason, this girl was the only one who liked Hiro, which surprised Liz very much. She never let her ride on her back, but she got along well with Liz. She had been a playmate of Cerberus, and they used to run around together, but now she looked so weak and frail that there was nothing left of the old days.
“Hey, hey, I’m specialized in humans, okay? I’ve never treated a swift dragon before. Don’t be absurd.”
“But you can’t just leave her there; she’s Hiro’s swift dragon.”
“…I’ll do my best.”
When she saw the military doctor rushing to the scene, Liz stood up.
She couldn’t stay with the swift dragon now that the war council was about to begin. She had to do what she had to do. If Liz stops here, it will all be for nothing.
She called out to the petite girl, but she was stiff with her hands on the saddle of the swift dragon.
She was about to put her hand on her shoulder, but Aura stood up just before her. She was taken aback by Aura’s unusually agile movements.
“Liz, we have a war council.”
Liz tilted her head at Aura, whose normally expressionless face was disturbed by dismay, but before she could check, the petite girl turned away and began to walk.
“W-wait, Aura, what’s wrong?”
“The life force of the swift dragon is not just for show. I’m sure she will recover soon, but for now, you should concentrate on the war council, so please don’t think about anything else and just concentrate on the Six Kingdoms.”
Aura, unusually talkative, walked quickly in front of Liz. She was so focused on her reaction that she didn’t notice the “letter” that Aura had hidden in her sleeve.
There was someone watching their backs as they walked away. If Liz hadn’t been distracted by Aura, she might have noticed his strange appearance.
A man in a white coat with a mask covering his face. The man with the pure white robe flipped his gaze away from their backs and approached the group of soldiers who were continuing to treat the swift dragon.
“I’m sorry, can you let me through?”
The mere act of speaking made the air heavy. He became more and more intimidating, and the soldiers could not protest against the pressure, so they naturally made way for him.
Those who felt his supremacy retreated, their faces scrunched up in fear or awe.
There was no one to confirm his identity. They were completely pressured into speechlessness.
If there was no one to stop him, it was inevitable that he would end up under the swift dragon.
“…Thank goodness. I’m really glad you’re okay.”
The masked man kneeled down on one knee, patting the head of the swift dragon while his shoulders quivered.
“H-hey, you can’t touch it like that――”
The doctor tried to warn the man, but his eyes bugged out when he witnessed a strange scene.
“Wha… no way…?”
A pale light enveloped the dragon and healed her wounds in a matter of seconds — the mystery of nature, out of the box, miraculous manipulation.
The soldiers who witnessed this uncanny power were just as stunned as the military doctor watching the scene. The masked man ignored the appalled crowd.
“…..Are you recovered?”
He stood up and confirmed that the saddle had been removed.
“I’ll take her with me.”
“Y-you can’t do that. This is the Fourth Prince Hiro’s swift dragon――”
The masked man grabbed the doctor’s shoulder with his left hand and held his right hand out to still him in front of his face.
“…No, I’m sorry, but you have to give it up.”
A golden light overflows from the depths of the mask. The soldiers around him, sensing an unusual presence, reached for their swords. When the masked man looked up at the sky in annoyance, a stick flying from the sky pierced the ground and caused it to cave in.
“It’s not like you. Even though you’ve confirmed that she’s safe, you shouldn’t get excited and bring in unnecessary disputes.”
A cheerful woman’s voice sounded out of place amidst a large amount of dust rising from the caved-in area. A wave of soldiers cracked open, and walking between them was a woman in purple and silver.
“Claudia, even so, she’s my familiar. It’s only natural that she should be protected, isn’t it?”
“As I said, you brought her with you to assert your legitimacy.”
“…Is that what you thought?
“What did you think I was going to do?”
“I thought you were going to attack her.”
Apart from the two who were conversing with each other, the soldiers were stunned and rigid. It wasn’t because of the appearance of the strange duo.
It was because they recognized the stick stuck between them -― the coat of arms flag swimming in the sky.
A coat of arms flag with a balance on a white background.
It is the symbol of a small country but a major power that exerts tremendous influence on the central continent.
No one has ever seen it on the battlefield. This is because it has always maintained its neutrality and formed a culture that is separate from the mundane world, never appearing on the stage.
When it appears in front of them, everyone is at a loss for words.
“Oh, everyone seems to be surprised.”
The woman called Claudia smiled as she put the back of her hand over her mouth as if she had noticed the appearance of the soldiers.