October 12, 1026th year of the Imperial Calendar
After reorganizing with the Third Army, the Main Army of Grantz changed its name to the Six Kingdoms Conquest Army.
This was nothing more than a statement of intent to attack the Six Kingdoms in earnest.
“She’s unusually bold…”, said Rozl Frey von Ingnal.
He was a young man in the service of the Muzuk family, one of the five great noble families of the Great Grantz Empire, and was a close confidant of the head of the family, Vetu.
He was a slender man who does not look like he is suited for battle. However, his behavior was so refined that it even exudes elegance.
His skin was dazzlingly white―or rather, pale to the point of looking sickly. But the high spirits he radiates was powerful and mighty. The combination of weirdness and grandeur gave him a strange atmosphere.
He stroked his chin and looked at the order from the chief of general staff with an air of admiration.
“No, I should say that she took it seriously.”
The staff officer who was compiling the report next to him seemed to have noticed with a keen ear and stopped his hand and turned his head to look at him.
“Took it seriously?”
“The operation to recapture Felzen had not been taken seriously by Her Imperial Highness Princess Celia Estrella. Certainly, she has grown up compared to three years ago, but she has not yet been able to turn her heart into a monster. She was somewhat hesitant about the act of trampling on her friend’s country.”
From Rozl’s perspective, he does not understand why she would hesitate to whip a dying country into shape.
She should just make it easy for them. It would be better to wipe out the name Felzen. Such a country was nothing special. If you opened a history book, you would find a million references to such countries, large and small.
“If she wanted to be emperor, she would have to put aside her feelings. Someone who has the strength of mind to kill their parents, their children, and their loved ones will be able to do so with impunity. Only a person with such a tough heart is fit to be an emperor.”
“Such as… His Majesty Greyheit, for example?”
The staff member hesitantly said this, which made Rozl blow up unintentionally.
The previous emperor Greyheit was certainly a man of many stories.
There were old rumors that he killed his parents and assassinated his brothers in order to gain the throne of Grantz.
Above all, since he took the throne, the Grantz continued to expand its territory through war after war.
The royalty of the countries he destroyed were mercilessly executed, and those who opposed him were killed by his hand, even if they were influential nobles. Indeed, if one only listens to the stories, he seems to be a cruel and inhumane emperor.
“There has never been an emperor as devoted to their children like that.”
He was the most lenient of all the emperors of the past. It seemed ridiculous to compare them.
Rozl rose from his chair and strode toward the exit.
“…Though I must commend him for his willingness to go to such great lengths for a single purpose.”
It has led to tragedy and twisted events that have led to the present.
“If he had accepted his fate as it was, he would have lived a little longer.”
Rozl stepped out of his tent and squinted into the sunlight.
At the same time, an angry voice shook his eardrums, and a loud crash shook his body.
Feeling the air shaking, Rozl looked at the city ahead of him.
“The resistance was less than I had expected.”
The city emitting black smoke is the new royal capital of Sandinal, the final target of the plan to recapture Felzen.
Surrounded by a large army of Grantz and under incessant fire arrows, Sandinal was exposed to a nearly irresistible attack.
The scene was as ferocious and unforgiving as ants finding food.
“If this falls, the wall to the Six Kingdoms will disappear completely. But I did not expect it to fall so easily.”
Even though Grantz had a large army of over 100,000 men, to see it fall in less than two days was both disappointing and tempting, making Rozl wonder if it was some kind of trap.
The size of the city and the height of its walls, plus the food and provisions, would have allowed them to spend a reasonable number of months in a siege. They could have asked for reinforcements from their home country and lifted the siege on Grantz.
“All in all, I feel like I want the tension that existed before the war started to return.”
Before the war began, military discussions were held many times. The plan was to take down Sandinal with minimal casualties for the future, but it all came to naught.
From Rozl’s point of view, the time spent on the military council, including preparations for the siege, had been wasted, and he couldn’t do without a word of complaint.
“Wasn’t the difference in strength enough to keep up morale?”
Rozl was lost in thought for a moment, but then he stopped to think as he recognized a horseman coming from the front.
On the back of the horse was a soldier wearing light equipment, and on his back was a red banner indicating that he was the messenger of the “Red-Haired Princess.”
“Message! It is a message! Is Lord Rozl here?”
“I’m here. What can I do for you?”
The messenger raised his hand to indicate the location and skillfully maneuvered his horse to stop in front of him, then dismounted and got down on one knee.
“I have a message from Her Highness Celia Estrella.”
“Yes, we are about to invade Azel. She has entrusted you with 20,000 men and has asked that you establish control over Sandinal.”
The order was simple and easy to understand.
I will give you credit, so shut up and wait―That’s what she’s saying.
If he refused, he would be disgracing Vetu, Rozl’s master. If he accepted, he would not get any more credit, but he would at least save Vetu’s face.
The only choice, of course, was the latter.
“I understand. Give my regards to Her Highness.”
The messenger was about to mount his horse, but Rozl stopped him.
“I would like to ask you a few questions.”
“What is it?”
“It seems the enemy resistance was unexpectedly weak; if you know the reason, tell me.”
“The Six Kingdoms defending Sandinal surrendered because their leaders had fled the city early and the morale of the remaining soldiers was low, and the chain of command was severely disorganized.”
“Oh… The leaders have fled?”
Crossing his arms, Rozl looked up at the sky and watched the clouds flow by. The messenger continued his report dutifully, though he looked doubtful at the action.
“It seems that our forces were on the verge of encircling them, and only a few officers were left.”
“How many were the enemy defenders?”
“Less than expected. I thought there would be more than 30,000.”
“The information is mixed, so it is not clear. More information will be provided later.”
“Very well. Please give my regards to Her Highness Celia Estrella.”
“Yes, if you’ll excuse me!”
The horse disappeared into the distance, sending up a cloud of dust on the back of the horse.
“Now… who drew this picture?”
With a hand to his chin, Rozl turned on his heel and walked back into the tent.
The staff members were still compiling their reports inside, but when Rozl’s footsteps sounded louder than usual, they stopped their work and looked at him at once.
“Her Highness Celia Estrella has entrusted me with Sandinal. But don’t think the battle is over. There are still remnants in the Felzen region. There is a strong possibility that they will come to retake Sandinal. We must remain vigilant.”
After sending a brisk reply, the staff members returned to their work.
As he weaved his way through the gap to take a seat in the chair prepared for him in the honorary position, Rozl exhaled through his nose and wrinkled his brow.
“I’m sure Her Highness cut me a good deal of slack. That’s fine with me, but…”
Because that decision iwa not wrong.
In terms of not being trustworthy, it was the right decision to leave Rozl behind. Nevertheless, he still thought it would have been better to keep a close watch on things nearby.
“It’s not about that now; it’s about… who is connected to the Six Kingdoms.”
Sandinal, the wall of the Six Kingdoms, was one of the key points that must normally be defended with determination. The fact that they simply gave it up means that there was some sort of secret agreement between Grantz and the Six Kingdoms.
That was not the only reason why Rozl came to this conclusion.
The timing was too good.
Things were proceeding as if they had been arranged by mutual agreement.
The leaders of the Six Kingdoms left the battlefield without difficulty, and as if to coincide with that, the Grantz’s army laid siege to Sandinal. And the Six Kingdoms, without a commander, chose to surrender due to confusion in the chain of command, and the Grantz succeeded in taking Sandinal with minimal casualties.
“It was certainly not by coincidence…”
However, it was hard to imagine that Liz could have gotten past the watchful eyes of Rozl and made contact with the Six Kingdoms. Since entering Felzen, he had been keeping a close watch on Liz’s movements, but she had not shown any suspicious activity.
“Rozl-sama… Rozl-sama… we are ready to enter the city.”
Rozl looked up as a shadow fell overhead with a voice.
A soldier looked at Rozl with a curious look on his face.
He couldn’t understand why he had such a look on his face, but if he looked around―he could guess from the fact that the staff members also had the same look on their faces as the soldier. No doubt, they saw that they had been calling out to him several times.
He wondered if he had been that pensive―and to hide his embarrassment, Rozl stood up.
“I understand. Get the horses ready.”
Rozl stepped out of the tent again, following the soldier’s back as he left.
“I suppose this is all part of the Nameless’ plan…”
Watching Sandinal still blowing black smoke, Rozl exhaled deeply from the pit of his stomach and squinted his eyes.
The sound of the city walls crumbling could be heard, and the screams of the people were heard. The people who could not accept defeat were determined to resist, and the damage caused by their resistance was always spreading.
As an ever-victorious country, Grantz had witnessed many such situations.
That was why this must be borne in mind.
The nobles were always looking for ways to survive, backstabbing, turning, plotting, and shaking hands with a smile so as not to be outwitted, but until the time came, they would continue to hold on to their blades.
“Rozl-sama, we are ready.”
“Thank you, then let us ride to hell.”
Straddling his horse, Rozl rounds his neck and follows behind the leading soldier. He then looked up at the blue sky in the sunlight and snickered.
“Your Highness… you are on your way, you cannot see ahead like a black smoke, and waiting for you are those who once came close to God…”
Rozl frowned bitterly, clutching his chest.
“――If you stay sweet, they’ll eat you up.”
Rozl looked at Liz, who was far away from him.
“Your Highness, even if you persist, you cannot change the future. You can’t escape the fate of the Grantz.”
Rozl then turned his gaze southward toward his homeland.
“The day is approaching, Vetu-sama, when the Muzuk family will replace the Grantz family.”