It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (124/130), enjoy~
Located away from the main battlefield, the place was quiet.
While the northern sky was tinged brown and the wind was blowing wildly, the southern sky was calm, and the leaves of the trees were rustling in the wind. Small animals were sleeping peacefully, birds were chirping, and there was the sound of running water, perhaps from a stream.
“Nothing out of the ordinary here either…”
Tris moved his horse quietly, looking around and occasionally letting out a deep sigh.
Whenever he looked to the northern sky, he would let out a deep sigh.
“Is something wrong?”
When Tris turned around, he saw a young soldier looking at him worriedly.
Behind Tris, fifteen horsemen were following him. They were part of the scouting party.
They were soldiers entrusted by Liz ― fifteen out of a hundred.
The remaining eighty-five were dispatched to investigate places that Tris thought were suspicious.
“No, it was nothing.”
Tris shook his head, but his profile was desolate.
A young soldier, perhaps noticing this, looked north into the sky.
“It looks like they’re going at it hard over there.”
It was said once again. Emotions that had been stored away deep inside sprouted up again.
Tris looked enviously at the place where the dust cloud was rising.
“Yeah, that’s right. Even as we speak, the death toll continues to rise to a hundred or more.”
A fierce battle must be raging.
Because of the strong wind, a broad cloud of dust covered the northern sky.
He had once been in that place himself. Standing next to Liz, he continued to fight in the center of the battle.
Now that he was old, he could no longer do so, and Tris smiled sadly.
“I guess another young life will be lost, and the old soldier will live on like this.”
“Why, isn’t Tris-sama still young? Even if you can’t stand in the front line, you are still active in the search for the enemy like this.”
“So you don’t want to be in the front line, then?”
“I hope to eventually, but I also enjoy the depth of the search and rescue.”
“But the chance to get a top rank is less than elsewhere. Do you have any ambition to achieve success and rise in the ranks?”
“I do have ambitions. I will one day obtain a seat as one of the five great generals.”
Tris couldn’t help but narrow his eyes. He was dazzled by the young man who was looking forward to the future and not rotting away.
Tris is deeply moved by the fact that he used to be like this too.
And bitter memories of frustration at knowing that he was no match for them also welled up in his heart.
“…Then go to the front line and survive. If you do that, you will soon become one of the five generals.”
“No, it’s not that simple…”
“It is simple, for those who survive on the battlefield are the strongest. There is no point in having a high rank if you are dead.”
The young soldier nodded his head in agreement with the strange spirit.
“Even so, there is still a possibility that you will be only a third-grade military officer, though, you know?”
He smiled to himself and realized that they were a little too far from the main camp.
“We’ve had enough of this. After checking one more place, we will join up with the other units and return to the main camp.”
Tris waved his arms at the men behind him, motioning for them to follow him.
He then looked down at the map and compared it to the landscape spread out before him, and proceeded with his horse toward the desired location.
“There has been no word from the other units, so perhaps the enemy’s surprise attack was unfounded.”
Tris turned his gaze ahead and narrowed his sharp eyes.
A strange cloud of dust was rising on the opposite side of the forest in front of them. It was large enough for a herd of animals to be moving through. When he listened carefully, a faint metallic sound mixed with the sound of the wind caressed his ears.
Looking down at the map, he confirms that this was the place he had suspected. Tris put the map away and dismounted. He then tied the reins to a nearby tree. Everyone looked at him suspiciously as he did this. But Tris approached the young soldier with a nonchalant look on his face.
“We have to have insurance. You never know what might happen. So, would you mind if I rode your horse?”
“Yes… that would be fine, but insurance?”
“Umu. I can’t shake this strange feeling.”
“A strange feeling ― whoa?”
Tris rode up on his horse with a showy movement, and the young soldier fell forward as he was pushed out of the way.
Even though he was an old soldier, he has never missed a training session. Moreover, Tris’s well-trained body was as muscular as a bear. So it was only natural that the horse would feel cramped when such a man rode in the back, and it was rather praiseworthy that the horse withstood Tris’s weight and did not go wild.
“Well, it is not impossible that the old man may have overstepped his bounds.”
“T-then, shall we go?”
The young soldier kicked the horse lightly in the belly, and the horse began to move quietly. Other soldiers were following behind. Tris was looking up at the sky when he suddenly saw the direction of the main Grantz camp and saluted.
“Come to think of it, there were a lot of men assigned to Brutus-dono’s unit, but shouldn’t there have been more of them here, too?”
“I think it would be better to rely on someone who has been doing research in the area rather than on the instincts of an old soldier.”
Tris lied. The truth was that he had allocated the manpower because of his distrust of Brutus. Liz seemed to be wary of him, but she couldn’t treat him with disdain just because she was suspicious of him. If such arrogance were allowed to go unchecked, it would create unnecessary discord in the Grantz Army.
That is why Tris came forward as a watchdog in the name of scouting for the enemy, but because of his subordinates’ presence, he could not stick to him, so he allocated a large number of personnel to Brutus to prevent him from making any strange movements. If he showed any suspicious activity, he would be contacted immediately.
“I may be overly cautious. Perhaps I’m being too paranoid, and if I imagine things, so be it.”
“Oh… what do you mean?”
“It means it’s nothing you need to worry about.”
The young soldier turned to look over his shoulder in anguish as if the impact was too much for him.
“T-Tris-sama, what are you doing…?”
“Don’t let your guard down yet. Look, look out in front of you; we’re almost there.”
Tris stopped the horse, got down on the ground, and looked ahead into the woods.
“Five of you will stay here and guard the perimeter. The rest of you will follow me.”
Tris gave the order quickly and stepped into the woods with ten men.
“From here, follow me as quietly as possible.”
Tris looked ahead, feeling a nodding sensation behind him. The woods were not deep enough to see the lights on the other side. But there was a damp, uncomfortable air, perhaps because the trees were tall and blocked the sunlight. Above all, there was no sign of life here. Perhaps it was the tension in the air, but they seemed to have disappeared.
“…It’s not a suffocating place.”
Tris exhaled heavily and then let fresh air enter his lungs.
The sweat floating on his forehead dripped down his cheeks. Tris wiped the sweat with his sleeve cuff before it left his face.
Without making a sound, Tris and the others went at a brisk pace down the roadless path, and just before they reached an open area, they hurriedly crouched down.
Ahead of Tris’s line of sight ― about twenty-six rou (about eighty meters) away ― he could see more than two thousand cavalrymen marching. Considering their path, they were clearly aiming for the main Grantz camp.
“If they use our blind spot, we won’t be able to see them until it is too late.”
“Umu, we must inform the princess immediately.”
It is obvious that the enemy forces are approaching Grantz’s main camp using the blind spot. However, even if they tried to report it by sending up a smoke signal, they would not only be blocked by the trees but may not be able to see it due to the strong wind. If the enemy forces found them, Tris and his men would be annihilated before they could inform the main camp.
“We must leave here at once――”
Before Tris could finish, blood spurted from the head of a Grantz soldier standing next to him.
Tris jumped to the side, covered in blood splatter, and instantly understood what was happening in front of him.
“Enemy attack! Disperse!”
Several arrows pierced the spot where Tris had just been. Rolling on the ground, Tris regained his stance with all his might, and as if rising to his feet, he drew his sword and unsheathed it.
At that moment, he felt a strange sensation.
The hairs on his body stood on end as he felt the eerie sensation of the sword gradually invading his body.
“Why are you here…?”
Tris was looking at Brutus, who was laughing, bursting with amusement.
A moment later, a sharp pain rushed through his entire body.
Perhaps because of the unimaginable pain, Tris’s gaze is naturally drawn to it. The true nature of the discomfort is reflected in his eyes. A white blade was deeply pierced into his side, sucking out blood.
“Haha, hahaha, hahaha.”
Brutus’ shoulder collides with Tris’ breastplate as he steps in with a laugh and stabs the long sword even deeper. Holding both of his shoulders with trembling hands, Tris opened his mouth, fighting back nausea that was rising in him.
“This is… W-what does this mean, Brutus…?”
“Do you know the House of Nickle? Do you remember the pathetic noble who was blamed for the war against the Principality of Lichtein?”
Shadow General ― Kylo’s face flashed in Tris’s mind.
He was the general who repeatedly marched recklessly without listening to Liz’s advice in the battle against the Principality of Lichtine and was stripped of his command by Hiro, who was ordered by the emperor. Furthermore, it is said that General Kylo ordered his men to loot the city, and by incorporating uncoordinated slaves into his troops, not only did he destroy the spearheading force, but he also earned the dishonor of being killed in battle himself. The responsibility for this fell on the Nickle family, of which he was the head. A large amount of reparations and other payments deprived him of his territory. Incited by other families, the people began to riot, eventually forfeiting their titles. The famous Nickle family lost everything and fell into ruin.
“…You are of the House of Nickle, I presume?”
“Yes, I am. I have been looking for an opportunity to take revenge!”
Brutus exclaimed, glaring at Tris with bloodshot eyes.
“Celia Estrella… If it weren’t for that woman, the Nickle family would not have fallen.”
Brutus stepped in repeatedly. Each time, a great deal of blood flowed from Tris’s side.
He snorted like a beast, trying to gouge out Tris’s side.
His claws may have broken the skin, and blood dripped from his hand clutching the hilt.
But Brutus, overcome with rage, felt no pain but only shouted a bitter complaint.
“It is unreasonable to think that after having all his achievements taken away from him, I would still have to pay for the sins my father left behind!”
“Then why didn’t you report it? If you think it is unreasonable, then…”
“It was the Prime Minister Gils. I tried to get a meeting with him several times, but he refused, saying he was too busy.”
“…And that has nothing to do with the princess, does it?”
“She is a member of the Grantz family!”
The blood spurted from Tris’s side as Brutus pulled out his long sword with such force.
A large amount of blood splattered in a speck and stained the ground reddish-black.
Tris’s huge body shook, and the tip of his chin turned up. He almost fainted, but his knees gave out, and he fell to one knee.
Tris looked up at Brutus as he held his side with a pale face.
“…What happened to the others?”
“They were immobilized and stuck in the way. I asked them to kill them.”
Brutus spread his arms.
Around him were more than 30 figures, but all were short, with small, slender bodies, and had the appearance of children. But that is not to say that they are not worth the trouble. They are “Dwarves,” a race whose muscular strength and stamina far exceed those of “Humans,” despite their outward appearance.