Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
Chapter 4 – Tragic Resolution
“Little girl… you’re here again?”
A voice that sounded as if it was stunned was heard. When Liz opened her eyes, there was something in front of her with an overwhelming presence.
――Something was there.
A white world. There was a throne at the center. The one and only throne, adorned with gold, silver, and precious gems gathered from all over the world, was the only one of its kind―a throne with a bloodstained history.
However, as usual, the identity of the person sitting on the throne was unknown.
The space was dazzlingly white, but the face was covered with shadows.
“What do you want? What do you want from me?”
The voice has the deep charm of an old man but with the bravado of a mature man. It was a voice that gave a strange impression but had a certain charm that was hard to forget.
The intimidation that radiated from his slender physique was tinged with the virility of a young man, while the youthfulness of a boy gave a sense of security. Yet, Liz knew he was no ordinary man.
She had been to this world many times.
So, she was not intimidated or pressured, unlike when the first time she visited here.
“I want to know the truth.”
She said it directly to him, and his gaze pierced through her heart.
“It’s too early for you.”
“Don’t be in such a hurry for your life, little girl. It is too convenient to try to know the truth without knowing how big the world is.”
The pressure of the world was overwhelming with rejection. Liz was forced to bend at the waist as if she were being stepped on by a giant, but she was released from the pressure when she made a fist and pounded the ground.
“Oh… you’ve grown up, haven’t you, little girl?”
The man’s voice was laced with some surprise.
Liz wiped the sweat from her forehead and exclaimed in a hushed voice.
“Three years――that’s all it’s been, is what you might say. But for me, it’s been a mind-boggling amount of time!”
She had been running as fast as she could to catch up with him. She had been desperately chasing him so that she would not be separated from him again.
“But it’s still too far!”
It was not a matter of strength. It was not a matter of talent. Nor was it a matter of experience.
From a certain distance, the distance between them did not get any shorter. She was well aware of the cause. And she had tried to overcome the obstacles.
But no matter how much understanding she showed, no matter how much she thought about him, the distance ddi not shorten.
――Because she didn’t know anything about Hiro.
There was a huge gap between them that could never be filled.
“Who in the world is he?”
She knows that Hiro is a “God of War.”
She knows that Hiro is the “Heroic King of Twin Blacks.”
She knows that he is the “Black Prince.”
She knows that Hiro is the “Endless Despair.”
She knows that Hiro is the “One-Eyed Dragon.”
She knows that Hiro is the “Black Dragon King.”
“I know that he is the “poster child of struggle, the transcendent of authority, the one who wears the mask, the one who decides who wins…”
Bending her fingers slowly, Liz counted the names.
“I know all kinds of Hiro. In the history of Grantz, there is not a single mention of his ‘title.’ Aura and I have done a lot of research on him over the past three years. Not only that, the “Flame Emperor” is telling me about him through the first emperor.”
Then she bit her lip in frustration.
“But―I don’t know the real Hiro.”
She had only known Hiro since he became known as the “God of War.” She didn’t know anything about what happened before that.
As if ashamed of her own inadequacy, she clenched her fists tightly and slammed them into the ground.
“Hiro is… how did he just appear out of the blue?”
The mouth of the mysterious figure who had been silently listening to Liz’s story moved.
“It’s inevitable. But it’s nothing to be pessimistic about.”
For the first time, the man’s solemn demeanor dropped.
“You should already know about Hiro.”
The mysterious man laughed, his tone gentle and cheerful, like a baby being soothed.
“Of course, I already know. But there is no need for the trouble of telling you.”
The man stepped off his throne and stroked Liz’s crimson hair as he approached her.
“You once told me that you were saddened by Hiro’s past. Do you remember?”
“Yes… I said that.”
In the past, Hiro’s face was painted with terrible grief. He was trying desperately to mend his expression in order to hold back the urge to cry. Even now, just remembering it made her feel as if her heart was about to burst.
“Then, if you keep that feeling in mind… surely, one day you will know the truth.”
The man held up his index finger.
“You are my hope. That is why I entrusted you with everything.”
“Keep a strong heart. I told you that, didn’t I?”
The man said, then pointed his index finger up in the air.
Liz looked up and saw a large gate floating above her head. It was huge but not flashy. Apart from the intricate patterns carved into it, it was far from luxurious or ornate. In a word, it is a plain, unadorned wooden circular gate.
However, the unique atmosphere created by the gate overwhelmed the viewer like a beautiful landscape.
The only difference from the previous visit was that the gate was not closed but open.
“The future will never be happy. There will be times of anxiety and sadness. But there is no need to be pessimistic. The way will be shown to you.”
The mysterious man opened his arms and smiled gently.
“I look forward to our next meeting, little girl.”
In an abrupt parting line, Liz looked up over her head, but the gate showed no sign of moving.
“But I’m sorry, you’re not going to go that way this time.”
As she lowered her gaze, a blinding light enveloped the world. The amount of light poured onto Liz, so much so that she couldn’t keep her eyes open.
It penetrated her retina, scorched her optic nerve, and burned through her brain.
Liz held her throat to resist the sensation that her neck was about to be pulled out.
Her throat was dry, and she couldn’t breathe, and as tears spontaneously welled up――,
A crushing sensation as if rising rapidly from the ocean floor to the surface.
When she opened her eyes due to the extreme pain――,
“Puhah, hah, hah, hah…..?”
A familiar sight flashed into her eyes. While struggling to get oxygen, Liz looked around. A white cloth covered the surroundings, and Western lights hung from the ceiling, swaying with the tent due to the wind received from outside.
It was no less than a surprise. It is possible that she might even be dead if she was not careful.
An unusual thirst struck her. Liz got up and approached the water bottle on the desk and drank vigorously without even using a silver cup. If she were in the imperial palace, her subjects would complain about her behavior, but fortunately, she was alone now.
A drop of water spilled from her lips, passed through her collarbone and was sucked into her cleavage. However, Liz drank the water in a single gulp without paying attention to it. She put the empty water bottle on the desk and sat down boldly in her chair.
“Phew… that man, next time I see him, I’m definitely going to beat him up.”
After saying something disturbing to the ceiling, she heard the sound of hurried footsteps coming from outside.
“Liz, I have something to report.”
A familiar voice with no intonation but a lisp and a touch of charm.
A petite woman entered politely.
Trea Luzandi Aura von Bunadhara.
She graduated at the top of her class from the Imperial Training School. She was the youngest person ever selected to be on the staff of the commander of the Third Imperial Army. She was now one of Liz’s close aides and was the chief of staff of the main army of the Great Grantz Empire in the recent liberation of Felzen.
Aura, also known as the “War Maiden” and referred to as the silver-haired fairy, frowned when she saw Liz.
“Before I tell you about my business, there is one thing I would like you to do.”
“What is it?”
When she tilted her head, Aura pointed her index finger vigorously at her.
“Please put something to cover you up. I can’t have you dressed like that.”
“…Is that so?”
When she looked down at her outfit, she was wearing underwear―and yet Aura was the only other person of the same sex here.
There seems to be no problem, but Aura nonchalantly appeals to her to change her clothes just by looking at her.
“What if a male soldier comes in by mistake?”
“In case of an emergency, the maidservant in the tent next door will come to inform me, so you won’t have to worry. If a man enters without permission, the Flame Emperor will burn him.”
Aura’s shoulders slumped in disappointment as Liz answered with a straight face.
“If so, you need to put on something before you get anyone killed, maybe not three years ago, but today’s Liz is too stimulating, even for a woman.”
Three years ago―she tried to ask Aura what she meant by that, but Aura took the liberty of going through Liz’s luggage and tossed her a cloak that would cover her entire body.
“You should put it on.”
Liz replied lamely, putting on the cloak and sitting down in the chair again.
“So, what’s the report?”
“The First Army, which was ahead of us, has been wiped out.”
Aura’s unaffected report told of the seriousness of the situation. Liz waited for the rest of the report with a grim expression on her face.
“The First Army was destroyed three days ago. I sent out a quick horse to the Second Army a short while ago. I will have them stand by until the main army joins them.”
“That’s fine. Also, let the Second Army form a detachment and give top priority to rescuing the wounded. We will also send out some detachments from the main army to alert the surrounding area.”
After waiting for Aura to nod, Liz continued to speak.
“What is the damage to the First Army?”
“Out of 30,000, 10,000 were killed in action, and more than 5,000 were seriously wounded… According to the messenger―a survivor, a white-haired man with unidentifiable powers, took out General Cain.”
“…Unidentified powers and a white-haired man?”
The last image that flashed through her mind was that of the First Prince Stobel, and if he hasn’t changed since then, then in all likelihood, Stobel had defeated General Cain.
Still, it was a surprise that he was hiding in Felzen. Liz, plucking her brow, let out a weary sigh. She was glad that Skaaha was not here.
Her mental state was unstable. She wondered what would happen if Stobel’s story entered her ears…
“Thank goodness Skaaha isn’t here. If she had noticed the white-haired man, she would have run off on her own.”
“Do you really think he’s the First Prince Stobel?”
“He’s the one who is capable of defeating the Five Great Generals. It’s very likely. And if he has white hair and the appearance of a demon, then he is definitely Stobel.”
The five spirit swords―Wind Emperor and Thunder Emperor―were still in Stobel’s possession. The five great generals were not good enough even if they had spirit weapons. Furthermore, the opponent was a “human race” that had “fallen.” It was doubtful whether a single division could win the battle, and even the five great generals, who were known as “mighty warriors,” had no choice but to say that it would be extremely difficult to fight a head-on battle.
“We will send the survivors of the First Army back to our home country. Then the Second Army will reorganize once it joins up with the main army. As soon as that is done, we will cross blades with both Tigris and Scorpius, who are waiting for us down the road.”
“…I understand. I’ll make a new formation plan.”
“Any word from the Third Army?”
“It seems that the people of Felzen have interfered with us after all. They’ve halted their advance and are trying to persuade them to stay.”
“Let’s keep in close contact from now on. We will work together with the Third Army to drive the Six Kingdoms out of Felzen. Be careful not to harm the people of Felzen.”
“Yes, I’ll make sure of that.”
“Well then, can you gather the staff together in the command center?”
“I’ll get changed and go there as soon as possible.”
“I’ll go ahead and wait for you.”
Aura nodded and stepped quickly out of Liz’s tent.
Liz put her hand on her military uniform and quickly changed into it by pulling the sleeves through.
In the imperial palace, she was taken care of by the maidservants, but outside of that, Liz basically didn’t like to be assisted by others.
After Rosa admonished her not to take away the work of the maidservants as a superior, she tried to call on them as much as possible, but she still felt more comfortable when she changed clothes by herself.
After putting on her cloak for the last time, she put the “Flame Emperor”, which was propped up on the desk, on her waist and left the tent.
The sky was full of stars.
Thinking that the stars were close today, Liz started walking toward the command center. Even though it was late at night, the encampment, where tens of thousands of people were gathered, was noisy.
A small amount of alcohol was allowed, and the chatter echoed incessantly from the surroundings.
It seems that the news of the First Army’s destruction has not yet reached the soldiers.
However, it would not affect morale much if they did.
The main force of Grantz has all the elite of the Great Grantz Empire, including the “Golden Lion Knights,” the “Imperial Black Knights,” and the “Knights of the Rose.” No one would have such fears that they might lose. Furthermore, the leader of the main Grantz army was the sixth princess, who continued to make remarkable strides. Although there may have been a sense of anticipation, there were probably not many people who were anxious about the situation.
She stopped just before she reached the command center.
Liz threw a sharp voice to the place where the bonfire light did not reach.
“…..Since when did you notice?”
A hooded figure emerged from the darkness with the sound of gravel being stepped on.
“I’ve noticed you from the beginning. You had the nerve to break into our encampment so brazenly.”
The intruder was speechless, if only for a moment, as Liz pointed out. He immediately burst into laughter.
“That’s terrifying… you seem to have the same ‘eye’ as I do.”
“What do you mean?”
“No, it’s just a joke. Please don’t pay any attention to it.”
The intruder shook his head and bent gracefully at the waist. The graceful movement without sarcasm was even dignified.
“Her Imperial Highness Celia Estrella Elizabeth von Grantz of the Great Grantz Empire. Nice to meet you; my name is Nameless.”
The name was familiar. She had heard rumors about him. The name “Nameless” was the name of a former close aide of the First Prince Stobel, who disappeared during the rebellion.
“So… it was you. So, what do you want from me?”
Liz glared at Nameless without pulling out the “Flame Emperor” at her waist but without showing any openings at all.
“…What a frightening growth rate. You were a whiny, helplessly weak sixth princess two years ago.”
It was a provocative statement, but Liz listened to it with a calm face.
“It’s enough time for one to grow up.”
“That, too, is a truth.”
“Did you come all the way here to talk to me about that?”
“No, I just wanted to give you some advice…”
“Well, why don’t you just tell me what it is and get on with it because I don’t have time for this.”
Liz’s composure was puzzling for someone who has just met an intruder.
Nameless was more cautious and somewhat selective with his words.
“Be careful of the Black Dragon King of Baum. Perhaps he is trying to overthrow the Great Grantz Empire――”
It was too sudden.
The place where Nameless was standing exploded. A pillar of red flame erupted from the ground with great force. The surroundings were illuminated as brightly as daylight.
“I made up my mind two years ago. I’m not going to listen to that kind of nonsense.”
Liz looked in a different direction from the pillar of fire. There stood Nameless.
“…Don’t you have any concerns about that?”
“Sorry, but I promised him that I would stay on his side no matter what.”
Liz’s fists were filled with azure fire.
“So be careful what you say.”
She smiled a fierce, lustrous smile.
“I’ll kill you next time.”
A death sentence―the gentle sixth princess, had changed so drastically that Nameless was forced to back away.
Nameless looked at Liz, slightly bewildered, perhaps realizing that he had been intimidated.
“…..I see that you have become really strong.”
Nameless said and turned his head to look around him.
Those who witnessed the red pillar of fire were making a fuss. The sound of military boots cutting through the night air was raising a siege. Many voices were coming in this direction.
“Well, I will see you again.”
Liz smiled at Nameless, who bowed his head in a dutiful manner.
“Yes, I won’t go easy on you, be prepared.”
After seeing off Nameless, who had disappeared completely without a sound, Liz turned her feet to the tent.
Aura peeked out from the entrance.
Aura asked suspiciously, and Liz put her finger on the tip of her chin and let her red eyes wander.
“Sorry. The “Flame Emperor” has been misbehaving. Please explain that to the soldiers.”
Aura tilted her head, and the “Flame Emperor” blew out a small flame of protest.