October 27th, 1026th year of the imperial calendar.
The 80,000-strong army of the Great Grantz Empire had reached a position where they could see the city of Licht.
However, despite repeated requests from the Grantz side, the country of Azel remained silent and refused to sit down to negotiate.
The Grantz decided that it would be a waste of time to go any further, and they pushed their forces to the city of Licht. They had finished forming up, had prepared siege weapons, and were in full readiness.
However, the Grantz stopped moving.
Hugin, the commander of the “Raven Army,” who was watching from behind the main Grantz camp, tilted her head in wonderment.
“Why aren’t we surrounding them?”
Hugin, who had been watching the Grantz with her hand shaded on her forehead, shifted her gaze to Luca, who was standing next to her.
Asked for her opinion by her younger sister, Luca gazed at the sky, one sleeve swaying in the gentle breeze.
“I wonder if they’re giving Azel a way out or if something went wrong on the Grantz side.”
“Also, aren’t they strangely keeping their distance from each other?”
“If they get too close, it could lead to an outbreak of war. They may want to avoid that, and they may still be requested to sit down for negotiations.”
The Grantz army, which was keeping its distance from Azel capital, Licht, had 30,000 in the first line, 20,000 in the second line, and 20,000 in the third line, but there seemed to be a considerable gap between each line.
“If the gaps are exploited, the formation will be disorganized and destroyed.”
“If there is an ambush lurking, however, Azel’s main force has been sent to defend Licht. I heard that there are no reinforcements from other countries either, so this is probably an unnecessary concern.”
Behind the conversation between Luca and Hugin, Munin, dressed as Hiro, was standing, looking absentmindedly. Munin interrupted their conversation as if he was bored or unable to bear stayong silent.
“Maybe that’s it. They might want to threaten them to surrender because there are so many in front of them.”
“Luca-neesan, do you think there will be a fight?”
“I don’t think there will be a fight. I’ve met her several times, but Queen Azel doesn’t have the backbone to fight against a large army, much less against the Grantz.”
“No, Um… about my…”
Munin called out to them from behind, but they ignored him. Not even a glance was given, and Munin shrugged his shoulders and sat down in his chair, looking down at the ground with a sulky look on his face.
“Then maybe they’ll surrender soon.”
“I don’t know if they are surrendering or not, but I believe the Grantz are recommending them to surrender.”
After saying this, Luca turned around and made a difficult face.
It was as trivial as a small movement of one eyebrow, but one could notice such small changes when one had known her for a long time.
In fact, Hugin seemed to notice and looked into Luca’s face.
“Luca-neesan? Is something wrong?”
“No, on second thought, I find it unbelievably slow to make decisions, considering Queen Azel’s character.”
“As I said earlier, she was of a timid nature. She could have surrendered as soon as the Grantz attacked.”
It was possible that her personality was corrected in three years, but she was not such a dexterous person. She was always scared of something and always stuck to the back of Lucia, the queen of the “human race,” as well.
“It is a miracle that she was able to endure until the Grantz army closed in on the capital.”
It was possible that she was imprisoned because of the anger of the belligerent nobles due to her lack of decisiveness.
“Moreover, it seems that the Grantz prepared a number of occasions to negotiate with her, but even so, she never gave them an answer―a strange story considering Queen Azel’s character, I thought.”
However, after thinking about it again, she must say that it was unlikely that she would be imprisoned.
There should be no such thing as a belligerent person in Azel who had the mettle to stand up to the Grantz.
The fact that many towns and villages have shown their reverence to the Grantz to this day was the best proof of this.
Then, if the reverse were true, it would only be a matter of other nobles accepting the surrender by pretending to be her. This was no reason to remain silent.
“After all, when you become queen, you cannot make easy decisions in a national crisis, can you?”
She was not a woman with such a sense of responsibility.
Before she had mastered the mindset of royalty, she took over the throne in a hurry after the death of the previous king.
Luca thought that Queen Azel really meant that it was a troublesome situation.
“I don’t know… anyway, all we can do is wait for the Grantz to make their move, and no matter how much we rack our brains to get to the bottom of it, it is the Grantz army that will bring us the answer.”
When Luca looked at the main Grantz camp, Hugin was caught and turned her gaze as well.
The sky was clear.
Apart from the mood being very stuffy, it was a very pleasant morning.
The morning dew was sliding on the weeds and being sucked into the ground.
The heat was spreading all around as many people breathed out.
They were waiting for the time to come.
With their eyes fixed on the wall in front of them, their first priority was to get into the city ahead of them, their souls burning quietly as they waited for the time to come so that they could win an absolute victory.
The chief of staff, Trea Luzandi Aura von Bunadhara, commanded them.
In the main camp of the Grantz, the staff members were hurriedly moving about, and Aura, on the contrary to them, was watching for the right moment without moving even a muscle.
A soldier on a horse rushes up to her. The armor of the man on the horse was all black, indicating the “Imperial Black Knights.”
He dismounted and jumped in front of Aura. He then dropped to one knee, put his face down, and shouted out.
“Aura-sama! Three units have been deployed: the Golden Lion Knights, the Imperial Black Knights, and the Knight of Roses.”
Aura held up her hand in reproach at the energetic report from Spitz, the leader of the “Imperial Black Knights.”
“Lord Spitz, now that you are the commander of the Imperial Black Knights, you should calm down.”
Even though he had been warned, Spitz’s reply was happy.
That was not surprising; he was once a longtime member of Aura’s close entourage.
He had been a close associate of Aura’s for many years, and they had worked together in the “Imperial Black Knights” to accumulate achievements. However, Aura was blamed for her failure to subdue the Felzen remnants four years ago and was stripped of her command, and the two were split up.
Spitz, who had dreamed of serving her again someday, wanted to come and see her, even if it meant taking a role as a messenger.
“And what is the matter with the commander leaving his unit to come and report to me?”
“Don’t worry, the “Imperial Black Knights” that Aura-sama has trained can fight well without their commander.”
Although it was a nice thing to hear, it was a clear violation of military regulations for the commander to leave the unit without permission―Spitz would later be severely punished.
“Return to your command at once, and your punishment will come later.”
Still happy, he straddled his horse and rode away from the main camp with a heroic shout.
The soldiers, attracted by him, began to raise their voices. It propagated and spread to the entire army.
The soldiers themselves raise their morale by stomping their military boots as if to inspire.
Seeing this, Aura nodded in satisfaction.
Whether it was good or bad, she had to praise Spitz for boosting morale. What a bad point, Aura deeply lamented.
The staff officer came to Aura, who had a complicated expression on her face.
“The troops have been notified. Morale is good, and we are ready to move at a moment’s notice.”
Aura closed her eyelids and unified her mind at the staff officer’s words.
After reviewing the procedures decided at the previous military meetings, she opened her eyes and looked around at the staff members gathered around her.
“Any reports from the scouts?”
“Numerous shadows on the ramparts, and it seems that Azel intends to fight!”
It’s a very unfortunate result. Aura didn’t really want to fight, but she had no choice.
Aura thrust her right arm out to the side and raised her voice.
“We will now begin to act. Blow the horn and praise the glory of the Grantz!”
With a pleasant reply, the staff began to run to fulfill their roles.
Aura saluted the emblem of the lion, the symbol of Grantz.
“Glorious victory for the Grantz!”
When the horns blew loudly, shouts were released from each camp, creating a large cloud of dust. After watching the first 30,000 begin to advance at a brisk pace, Aura sat down in her chair and let out a nervous exclamation.
“We’ve only just begun…”
All that remained was to wait for the outcome; whether it was expected or not, anything can happen on the battlefield.
There was nothing more frightening than a battle that was said to be winnable.
Aura had experienced this in the past in the battle against the Felzen remnants.
It was four years ago when she was unable to read the movements of the Grand Duchy of Drall and was at the mercy of the Six Kingdoms and suffered a defeat while facing suppression by an overwhelming margin of force―and it was three years ago when she left.
After that, her days were not always pleasant.
However, in order to support the red-haired princess, she desperately studied military strategy from the very beginning. She spent every waking moment trying to come up with a plan to win the war.
“If we lose, we will lose many important things. Then I will protect everything with the best strategy.”
With a quiet fighting spirit burning, she turned her lead-colored eyes, which were lit up with a passionate desire, toward the battlefield.
There was no anxiety. There was no worry. Her heart was always looking forward.
The same was probably true for the soldiers.
The first group of Grantz has begun the siege of Licht. On the city’s walls, countless Azel soldiers can be seen hurriedly running.
The remaining Azelian forces were less than 10,000 strong. Even in a siege, it would take less than three days to defeat them if it were done properly.
The Grantz also have weapons transferred from the Republic of Steichen.
Above all, the city walls were of average height, so they should be able to capture the city without any difficulty.
The roars of the Grantz soldiers, who had taken up their positions at various locations, roared out.
This signaled the beginning of the battle.
A rain of fire arrows rained down on the Azel capital, Licht. Siege weapons began to move toward the gates on all sides.
In time, the gates would erupt in white smoke, and black smoke would rise from the city.
“So far, we are on schedule… the rest is――”
As Aura muttered, a messenger appeared at the edge of her vision.
The messenger rolled in front of Aura with a panicked look on his face and got down on one knee.
“Enemy shadow from behind the main camp!”
The staff members around Aura were dismayed, but Aura remained perfectly calm.
She stood up from her chair, turned around, and spotted a cloud of dust in the distance.
Aura holds her right hand vigorously out to the side.
“Send a smoke signal to the Golden Lion Knights, the Imperial Black Knights, and the Knight of Roses to destroy the enemy forces that have appeared in the rear―Then send word to the Republic of Steichen as well, and as soon as the flag rises, charge the enemy in the rear and destroy them.”
Aura’s order was immediately passed to the flag bearers, who raised a smoke signal.
“Tell the troops to push on and trust that victory will come and don’t worry about us.”
Aura looked at the messenger and nodded strongly, clenching her fists.
“…A critical moment.”
There was a strange sense of discomfort when the queen of Azel, who was said to be timid, did not sit down to negotiate.
This came to the surface when she became suspicious of Urpeth, Tigris, and Scorpius, who made no move.
Since then, she has gathered various kinds of information.
She kept in close contact with the spy hidden in the three countries, and one by one, she was able to eliminate the suspicious aspects of the situation.
The results were spot on, and things unfolded as she had expected.
“Regardless of the rift between the long-eared race tribe and the human race, if it were a fire on the other side of the river, it would be easy to keep an eye on it, but if the fire were to spread to their doorstep, there was no way they would not make a move.
However, the Grantz are a large army of 80,000 men.
Even if they fought a proper head-on battle, they would have no chance of winning.
If the frontal attack failed, the only way to defeat them was to use surprise.
“They really are quite clever, taking advantage of the seas to come around behind us.”
A staff member spoke to Aura in an excited tone.
With the exception of Azel, the Six Kingdoms are active in maritime trade. Therefore, it was easy to travel by ship.
Therefore, the first thing that came to mind was a surprise attack on Grantz using the sea. That was why the Grantz forces were wary of a night attack. However, using this strategy would require a great sacrifice.
This was because the strategy they used was based on the premise of abandoning the country of Azel.
Therefore, they were not reinforcements for Azel. They were simply invaders who wanted to take advantage of the fishing industry.
Considering the history of the Six Kingdoms, it was hard to believe that they would make such an outrageous choice.
Therefore, Aura was unsure whether her reading of the situation would be correct.
Now that she was right, she could not help but feel sympathy for the poor country of Azel.
“And a necessary sacrifice if they wanted to nail the main power of Grantz to the west.”
They must have wanted to destroy or at least inflict a certain amount of damage by attacking the back of the Azel capital, Licht, which was being attacked by the Grantz army in a desperate attempt to capture it.
Normally, Urpeth, Tigris, and Scorpius would not have moved. The long-eared race must have had no intention of helping the human race.
Then, why did they attack from the rear?
――The Vanir Three Kingdoms.
“In other words, the Grantz were about to face a critical moment.”
If the Vanir Three Kingdoms were going to make a move, the neighboring countries, which had been watching the situation, would also begin to move.
In addition, the northern and southern regions, which were a source of anxiety even within Grantz, were not likely to remain silent either.
“Both inside and outside of the country, they are raising the overthrow of the Grantz…”
The battle with the Six Kingdoms must be concluded at the earliest possible opportunity. But impatience would lead to defeat.
It’s an understandably itchy situation, but still, they could not give up.
“The only way is to ask Prime Minister Rosa to do her best until we return home.”
The preparations for that had been completed. All that remained was to see who goes up or gets kicked down.
It’s all to be expected, but it’s hard to predict what will happen next.
In any case, the fate of the Grantz, whether they would perish or not, depended on this one battle.