It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (96/116), enjoy~
At the same time, a military council was about to be held at the headquarters of the Grantz Empire.
The atmosphere was not peaceful, but neither was it too heavy. It was filled with a moderately solemn atmosphere. Under such circumstances, the noble lords looked expectantly at the girl sitting on the honorary seat.
“It has just been reported that Her Majesty Queen Claudia has arrived.”
The nobleman in charge of the proceedings broke the silence, and the atmosphere changed with that statement. It was because Claudia’s name had been heard constantly until she arrived here.
Stories of how she had saved refugees from bandits, how she had saved a city from being attacked by the Six Kingdoms, and even how she had defeated a 20,000-strong army with only 1,000 men were being reported by the refugees in the west. Eventually, the minstrels would write songs about it, and listening to it, people would drink malt liquor in the taverns and their eyes would light up as they watched the dancers dance.
“Let us give her our thanks. Without her, the West would be in a much worse situation.”
Of course, considering her accomplishments, it would take more than a simple thank you, but even if the reward came at a later date, Liz, as the commander of the Great Grantz Empire, had to express her gratitude.
“Her Majesty Queen Claudia will be very satisfied. It’s always good to have a neighbor you can rely on.”
“Yes, that is true. But I’ve heard that the Levering Kingdom’s army has also suffered heavily.”
Many Levering soldiers sacrificed themselves to save the people of the west. The reward that will be given at a later date will have to include compensation towards the families of those soldiers who sacrificed their lives.
“First of all, let’s welcome the Levering Kingdom into our camp with sincerity.”
There was no one to refute Liz’s words. No matter what the inner thoughts of the leading nobles were, Claudia had rescued many people in the west before anyone else here, so there was no way they could complain or be jealous but be grateful.
“So, let’s start the military council.”
With Liz’s words, the atmosphere in the room tightened up. After looking at the leading nobles with satisfaction, Liz looked at the nobleman who was in charge of the meeting.
“Can you explain the current situation to me first?”
“Very well, ma’am.”
The nobleman in charge of facilitating the meeting placed the pieces on the map spread out in the center of the desk.
“Our troops are currently staying in the Mark territory, gathering support supplies from nearby nobles in preparation for a decisive battle. At the same time, we’re sending reconnaissance units to various locations to see what’s going on with the Six Kingdoms, and according to a report the other day, they’ve set up camp on the Larix Plain.”
After checking the report at hand, Liz looked up and looked at the head of the Muzuk family.
“Lord Vetu, how is the situation in the Six Kingdoms? I thought you were responsible for scouting the main army of the Six Kingdoms.”
“Yes, there is no doubt that the Six Kingdoms are encamped in the Larix Plains.”
Exuding confident energy, Vetu stood up and saluted.
“The scouts report that there are 100,000 of them, and while I have my doubts that their numbers are lower than they were at first, it seems unlikely that they are lurking around the perimeter. There is also information that the group has split up, so we have come to the conclusion that 100,000 is a reasonable number.”
“I’ve heard about the disagreement between the commander and the second-in-command, but… I wonder how it’s affecting them. Are they losing morale and will to fight?”
“Morale seems to be high, and will to fight has not diminished due to the repeated looting of various areas.”
The tone of Vetu’s voice seemed to indicate that it was not going to be easy and that the opponent would be tough.
However, Liz felt something strange in Vetu’s expression. For some reason, she was unsure if she should say anything or not because his face was full of bitterness. It was obvious that there was some other reason.
“Is there something on your mind, Lord Vetu?”
Vetu’s words trailed off as if he was afraid to speak.
“The report may have repercussions for later battles. It could be good news or bad news.”
As Liz’s words intensified, Vetu read out the report with a determined look on his face.
“…The fourth prince Hiro’s ‘Black Dragon Banner’ is raised; they seem to be calling him a ‘fallen hero king. There are reports that they are forcing captured refugees to step on the banner and chop off their heads.”
The noble lords froze, forgetting to even breathe. They stopped thinking because of the content.
The “Black Dragon Banner” is sacred to the Grantz, and it doesn’t matter if they dislike Hiro or not. The “God of War,” one of the twelve great gods of the Grantz, was a god that all the people of the military nation of Grantz would worship. Forcing the people to trample on it was an act of unimaginable evil.
But strangely enough, rather than anger, the faces of the nobles and princes were filled with confusion.
Their bodies were stiff, their foreheads sweating profusely, and their gazes were fixed on their feet. The reason for this was because ― a terrifying murderous energy filled the room in an instant.
During the silence, there was a sound like something snapping.
Everyone cowered at the eerie sound.
They looked towards the source of the sound, hoping that they would not be angered by it. It led to a red-haired girl sitting in the honorary seat.
Blood was flowing from the corner of Liz’s mouth.
She was pressing her fist against the desk as if to hold back her rising emotions as if she were about to pull out her sword and run into the enemy lines. Her eyes were wide open as she stared at Vetu. Vetu, as expected, broke out in a cold sweat and desperately wiped the greasy sweat from his forehead. He must have felt horrible because the anger was directed at him, even though he had nothing to do with it. As he snuck through various situations, he was able to put together a devious plan, but perhaps he can’t take it anymore, so he turns away from Liz.
“By using such vile means… you are boosting morale.”
It’s not a compliment, but it’s an excellent strategy. There are many people who are fascinated by the God of War and are angry, like Liz.
However, Liz’s anger surprised and chilled everyone’s heart. She was not the kind of girl who would show such passion.
On a day-to-day basis, Liz had a gentle temperament, which was rare in the Grantz Imperial family.
The nobles who thought that she was more of a kitten than a lioness must have changed their minds. The lion’s cub is still a lion, and her anger distorted even space.
“We’ll resume our march the day after tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s keep scouting the surrounding area and destroy the enemy on the Larix Plain.”
Everyone was forced to nod in agreement to Liz’s low, chilly voice. The surface of the water was rippling violently, but deep down, there was a heavy deep sea.
No one spoke a word and remained silent; thus, silence dominated the military council.
The nobleman in charge of facilitating the meeting also forgot his role, perhaps out of fear, and the meeting came to a complete halt. Everyone’s eyes focused on the nobleman who was in charge, but it had no effect.
In the uncomfortable atmosphere, it was the silver-haired girl who made a move.
She was standing behind Liz, but when she made a gesture that seemed to explore her sleeve, she approached Liz with a gait that showed no hesitation.
“…Your Highness Celia Estrella, here.”
She held out a white cloth and pointed to the fresh blood dripping from the edge of Liz’s mouth.
“Oh, I’m sorry, thank you.”
Finally realizing her current situation, Liz put the white cloth over her mouth with a scowl on her face.
The noble lords breathed a sigh of relief when they saw that the sternness that had been hanging over Liz had eased.
It was then.
They heard a noisy noise from outside.
“We are in the middle of a military council, so please wait a moment!”
“Oh, but if you don’t allow me to participate in the council, how will I participate in future battles?”
“Please wait until you have permission. I will get back to you immediately!”
“We can’t afford to waste time like that, can we?”
Cutting through the noisy air and stepping into the world of silence was a beautiful woman.
There’s a lot to be said for a woman who’s not afraid to speak her mind.
“I am Claudia Van Levering, Queen of the Kingdom of Levering. Pleased to make your acquaintance, ladies and gentlemen of the Grantz Empire.”
Claudia gracefully bent at the waist to greet them, but several nobles stood up at her overly rude attitude. Many of them are the nobles who saw Liz earlier and decided not to offend her.
“Why is a small country like yours interfering with an important military council?”
“Get out. You should be ashamed of yourselves for making such a tactless gesture with such a small contribution.”
When Liz’s words were heard, the nobles immediately fell silent.
Then Liz stood up from her seat and bowed to Claudia.
The fact that the head of a large country bowed to a small country caused an uproar.
“Please forgive my subordinate for their rudeness. Thank you for your assistance.”
Liz looked up and smiled daintily.
“I am Celia Estrella Elizabeth von Grantz.”
Claudia was amused by the sixth princess, who bowed her head straightforwardly.
She probably thought that she would provoke her if she took a high-handed attitude.
Claudia was completely caught up in her thoughts because of Liz’s unexpected move.
But then again, she was a woman who had risen to the position of a queen by making full use of her manipulative skills, and she was quick to switch gears.
When Liz showed her sincerity, Claudia got down on one knee and made a vassal’s bow.
“I apologize for any rudeness on my part.”
She said her apologies with the utmost courtesy. She turned her face down as if ashamed of her childishness.
“It is my sincere hope that the friendship between our two countries will continue to grow and that our ties will never falter.”
“Yes, let’s let bygones be bygones.”
Liz was about to say, “Sit down,” when she was rendered speechless by a figure that appeared behind Claudia.
It was a person with a strange appearance.
The person wore a mask that made it impossible to read any subtleties in his expression, and yet he wore a pure white robe that gave off an air of innocence. On his waist was a black sword that gave off a hint of evil.
Liz was appalled by the distorted appearance of the balance of darkness and light, and the noble lords also trembled with astonishment.
Claudia, with a smile on her face, answered Liz, who asked with an inquiring look.
“This is the second king of the small country of Baum ― His Majesty the Black Dragon King.”
The one who raised his voice was unexpectedly Vetu.
The air of the place converged on the masked man.
As if it was natural, his overwhelming presence fascinated everyone.
With a golden light overflowing from his right eye, his left eye was filled with an abyss darker than darkness.
The masked man who had attracted so much attention bailed out lightly, remaining silent.
“We also have a letter from the Princess Shrine Maiden.”
Claudia took out a piece of paper with letters that glowed.
It is a spirit letter that can only be written by a shrine maiden.
“It is said that His Majesty the Black Dragon King decided to go into battle because he was greatly distressed by the damage done to the country of his former ally, His Majesty the Lionhearted King.”
“I’ve never heard of… a king ascending the throne in the small country of Baum.”
Vetu was incredulous and protested, but Claudia’s expression does not waver at all, and remains unfazed. In fact, she even sneered at Vetu.
“It’s a fact, so it can’t be helped.”
She handed Vetu the letter from Princess Shrine Maiden.
It’s not something that can be forged. Spirit letters are sacred and can only be written by those who are loved by spirits. Vetu looked like he didn’t want to admit it, but he had to accept it, and his shoulders slumped with great disappointment.
“Ce-certainly… this is a spirit letter. It is something that only a princess shrine maiden can write…”
Vetu sank back into his chair as if he had lost the will to argue.
While this exchange took place, Liz never once averted her gaze from the masked man and, with a dubious expression on her face, pointed at him with a reproachful glance.
“Is black hair also a sign that you are a descendant of the first king of the small country of Baum, the ‘hero king of the twin black’?”
Even as she asked Claudia, her gaze never left the masked man’s grasp.
To block the persistent gaze, Claudia shifted her body half a step to the side and nodded slightly as she turned her back on the masked man.
“As expected of the famously knowledgeable Your Highness Celia Estrella. That’s absolutely correct.”
“Fufu, so that’s it….. It’s fine then.”
Liz narrowed her eyes with a quiet smile and brushed her sideburns away annoyingly.
“Then may we join you for the rest of the military council?”
Claudia said, and Liz readily agreed.
“Yes, there are some things I would like to ask about the Six Kingdoms, including the opinions of His Majesty the Black Dragon King… so I would be delighted if you could join us.”
“Then, if I may be so bold, I would like to join you at the end.”
Claudia and Liz’s gazes crossed.
Aura, who had been watching the sparks fly, let out a small sigh and closed her eyes.