“Oh… the Grantz has attacked from Tigris, huh?”
Lucia’s eyes narrowed in amusement as she heard the report.
“The Grantz know what they’re doing, and they’re going to attack us starting with the long-eared race.”
“It’s no laughing matter. Just when it seemed that the eastern side of Felzen was about to settle down, this happened.”
Seleucus, a young officer under Lucia’s command. He also enjoyed the situation since his words were laced with a faint sneer at the long-eared race.
“I hear the Grantz are gaining momentum again, and I think they’ve already taken over half of the eastern side of the country.”
“The Tigris people are probably fleeing from them, anyway.”
“You are right, but I don’t understand. If they are fleeing, why did they occupy the Senan area, and how did they get so much money into the East?”
While she understood what Seleucus was trying to say, Lucia thought that Tigris’ actions were the right thing to do. It’s not worth it, if you look at the situation alone. The reality was that it’s a wise decision. If they could not win, they would only reduce the number of soldiers in their own country in vain.
Above all, Felzen had not been occupied long enough to develop a compassionate attitude, and not much money has been invested in the city. If you ask which was more important, money or life, the latter was more important.
“But how many are in the Great Grantz Empire?”
“The invading army is a large force of 70,000, consisting of 30,000 in the First Army and 40,000 in the Second Army. The rest are the Third Army and the main army, but their numbers are unknown. My guess is that the number is well over 100,000.”
“How could they have gathered such a large number?”
It seemed that the difference in land area and population was hard to overcome.
The damage to the Grantz Empire in the clash two years ago must have been enormous, but the fact that they could get that many people in just two years was a source of envy for the Six Kingdoms, who still didn’t have the same level of coordination.
“Since the Steichen Republic has settled down to a certain level, they must have decided that their rear is no longer a cause for concern. It seems that the center of the army is to the east of Grantz, but there seem to be many soldiers from the south as well.”
“It would be irksome to stand idly by and watch.”
This situation couldn’t be left unchecked. If they did not do something, Felzen would be painted in the color of Grantz in the blink of an eye. But even if they were to repel the Grantz, they would only end up being defeated individually, unless the Six Kingdoms were aligned.
Even if reinforcements were sent, if Tigris continued to flee as before, it would mean that an important soldier would have died in vain. If Anguis were to make a move, it would only be after Tigris requested reinforcements, but considering the self-respect of the long-eared race, it was unlikely that they would ask for help from the human race.
It would be more correct to say that there was discord between the long-eared race and the human than that there was a negative effect of a federation of nations. Lucia was fed up with the existence of racial barriers, even in times of emergency.
“It may be a long time, but we have no choice but to wait. In the meantime, you can send a quick horse to Tigris.”
“Understood. And I have some fragmentary information that the king of the small country of Baum has gone to the west of Grantz.”
Lucia’s mind was filled with the face of the fourth prince Hiro, whom she had failed to kill two years ago.
Considering the timing of the false “death” and the “birth” of the king, it was most certainly him.
“He might be planning to participate in this battle. If so, it will be troublesome. If the king is in a good mood, it will raise the princess shrine maiden’s favorability, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the noble lords of Grantz, but not so good for the neighboring countries.”
Baum was a country that had the blessing of the “Spirit King.” If they make a wrong move, they would incur the wrath of the King. Baum was a country with a lot of influence. No one would take advantage of the chaos to attack Baum or to attack Grantz. They would wait and see what happens.
“In addition, there are the “Golden Lion Knights,” the “Imperial Black Knights,” the “Order of the Rose,” and the elite forces of the Fifth Imperial Army of the Great Grantz Empire. They are certainly serious about recapturing Felzen.”
It’s a bit of an overreaction to reclaim a ruined country ― a place that had fallen into ruin. Certainly, there was no doubt that there would be tremendous profit to be made if Felzen was restored to its former state. However, this was not something that would happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, after ten or twenty years of stability have passed. Even if the Grantz had a good reason, Lucia could not believe that the current Felzen had enough charm to make the Grantz desperate to recapture it.
“Is something bothering you?”
“No, I’m just wondering where Grantz is going with this.”
“Is it not the recapture of Felzen?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
Lucia tapped her fan on the map and stroked her chin. Pondering what the Grantz was thinking, she put herself in the other party’s shoes. While comparing the various pieces of information, she placed a piece on the map, then paid it off and started all over again.
Seleucus rolled his eyes at Lucia, who was repeating the same actions single-mindedly.
Eventually, Lucia stopped moving, threw the pieces on the floor, and leaned back in her chair.
“They’re going to use the momentum to invade the Six Kingdoms.”
“No way… even if they recapture Felzen, there’s still a lot of work to do. Even if they do that, their logistics will be stretched too thin.”
“With a force of over 100,000 men, they even brought in the elite Fifth Imperial Army of Grantz and even the King of Baum. With such an array of forces, simply recapturing Felzen would not be enough.”
Seleucus, who cleared his throat, looked at the map that Lucia had just used with an incredulous expression on his face. If what Lucia said came true, the Six Kingdoms would be in a very precarious situation.
“Even the Grantz would not intend to destroy all Six Kingdoms. They may be planning to occupy the country of Azel and use it as a buffer zone to bring Felzen under their complete control.”
“If the Azel falls…”
“Yes, the Six Nations will not be able to coordinate with each other. Greif and Anguis will be completely isolated.”
The strength of the Six Kingdoms was that they were allied nations.
“If you think about it, the Six Kingdoms may have been able to survive because of the wall called Felzen.”
“If things continue as they are… we might be in trouble.”
Seleucus, perhaps finally coming to the core of the matter, lurked behind his usual affable smile and continued to gaze at the map. Lucia, who found his behavior funny, couldn’t help but laugh.
“Kuku, this is not good ― if we just leave it at that.”
The worst thing that could happen was that Tigris will choose to retreat from Felzen.
The long-eared race was quick-witted and quick to make decisions.
They could not have their noble blood-stained with the blood of barbarians. They would retreat for such a trivial reason.
If that happens, it was highly likely that other countries would also begin to flee.
Among the Six Kingdoms, those who did not consider escape a good idea were Greif, which had a unified king, and Azel, which faced Felzen. And Anguis, led by Lucia, would be troubled if Azel fell.
“The combined armies of the three countries cannot reach 50,000. Moreover, we are not concentrated in one place but are scattered all over Felzen.”
If Grantz knew the internal situation of the Six Kingdoms, the attack would be even more severe.
No ― it was highly likely that they already had a grasp of the current situation in the Six Kingdoms.
“The Grantz has more than 100,000 troops. They must be planning to destroy the Six Kingdoms with all their might.”
“We won’t stand a chance if we go head-on against a large army by ourselves.”
“If we are not prepared, we will never win.”
Lucia thought silently. There were many different strategies in her mind as she searched for the right one.
Now, what was needed was the best way for the Six Kingdoms to survive – or rather, the best way to make the long-eared race that was undermining the allied nations take them seriously. Moreover, they needed a plan that would outwit Grantz. This was an opportunity to get closer to a unified king. Lucia could not afford to throw it away. She scrutinized the information she had gathered and came up with the following answer as if unraveling a complicated thread.
“Hmm… I’ve come up with two solutions.”
Lucia lightly tapped the desk with her fan and spoke without hesitation.
“First, I’ll buy some time. Then I’ll send a message to Nameless and ask for reinforcements.”
“I understand the reinforcements, but how do we buy time? Tigris, Scorpius, and Urpeth cannot be counted on.”
Seleucus mentioned the countries ruled by the long-eared race.
They mainly controlled the eastern side of Felzen and were the first to flee without fighting the Grantz. Even if Lucia instructed them to fight, they would probably not follow her orders.
If that was the case, then there was nothing else to do but to make the most of the situation.
“Let’s have the Grantz take over the former royal capital Scheue.”
There was a limit to how far they could keep running.
The limit point would be the entrance to the west side of Felzen ― the former royal capital Scheue.
At best, they would have to flee to that point and lead the Grantz forces away.
“After that, we will slow down the movement of the Grantz.”
Lucia pointed with her fan at the area controlled by Anguis. With just that gesture, Seleucus seemed to notice and smiled happily.
“…Ah, so you are using the people of Felzen to create a stalemate.”
“Yes, spread the word. The Grantz have come again to oppress the people of Felzen. Without a cause, an army is meaningless, and without a name, there is no heart.”
“So you will rally your scattered forces during the stalemate?”
“Felzen is a vast territory, and while it’s good now that it’s gaining momentum, once it settles down, there will be a number of major problems in various parts of the country. We’ll use that to reduce the strength of the Grantz.”
“Understood. I will make preparations for that as well.”
Seleucus nodded in agreement but immediately tilted his head to look at Lucia.
“But what’s your other plan?”
“What? I thought I’d make a little insurance policy.”
Lucia looked not at Seleucus but at the ceiling for some reason. The end of her mouth was hung up in a tremendous manner, wearing a bewitching atmosphere. It was as if she was provoking someone who was not here.
Seleucus sighed at the sight of Lucia. He seemed to be saying that she had picked up her bad habit again.
Lucia’s eyes narrowed, and her throat cleared like a snake that had found its prey. Even those who were on her side were struck with a powerful chill. Lucia looked down at Seleucus, who shuddered.
“There was a new woman you hired, wasn’t there? Mary, the dark-skinned attendant.”
“Oh… she’s good at her job, you know?”
“You brought her here, didn’t you?”
“Yes, she’s serving me today. Is something wrong?”
“Tell her to come to my room this evening.”
Lucia, her lips moistened, licked her tongue carelessly. No need to ask why. If she had set her sights on it, it was the prey.
“…Understood. I’ll let her know.”
“Kuku, now, what shall I do for fun?”
A high laugh echoed through the room. Lucia laughs without any shame or embarrassment.
“I wonder what kind of face she will show me.”
The voice, vulgar, cruel, and tinged with dark emotion, continued to resonate without fear of anyone else.