Everyone mentions the name of Sunspear when it comes to large cities in the south of the Great Grantz Empire.
Although it was located in the deserted south, it was the only city built on a steppe, and merchants from all over the world came to this area because it was a strategic point for transportation. The Muzuk family, which governed the area, had established a firm position in the Great Grantz Empire with their financial power as a backdrop. Also, the Muzuk family, which was indifferent to the situation surrounding the Great Grantz Empire and the siege of war that was crawling toward them, emerged with the fall of the Krone family, which was the leading of the five great noble families in the central region of the empire.
The Great Grantz Empire was repeatedly hit by wars, but the Muzuk family, which was nearly unscathed compared to the other five great nobles, overwhelmed the other families because of their shrewdness. However, due to the carelessness born from the pride of repeated victories, they were left behind in the struggle with the Kelheit family to take over following the death of Prime Minister Gils.
However, despite their defeat in the battle for the prime minister’s position, their power and authority had not waned, and their presence in the empire was second only to that of the Kelheit family.
Sunspear, ruled by the Muzuk family, had the largest gold reserves in Grantz and supported the economy of the south through horse breeding using the prairie area. As if to showcase such economic power, the city’s buildings are richly adorned with gold, and the Golden Palace, which was also the residence of the Muzuk family, was no exception.
Bathed in the light that pours down from the sun, the absolute ruler of the day in the sky, the splendor of the Golden Palace was untainted by the disquieting atmosphere of the Great Grantz Empire, and the people were also in high spirits and cheerful spirits. However, the civil servants of the Muzuk family, which governed Sunspear, are extremely busy.
The reason for this was that information had come in that the Free Peoples had invaded the Republic of Steichen in the south, and at the same time, the possibility had surfaced that the Vanir Three Kingdoms, via the Grand Duchy of Drall in the west, were targeting the southern part of the Grantz. In the hectic atmosphere of the Golden Palace, a civil official who had compiled a report was walking down the corridor at a brisk pace. His destination was the living room of his master, Vetu. When he arrived at the door, he knocked on it a few times. Then he heard a voice from inside telling him to enter.
“Excuse me. Vetu-sama, I have put together a new report for you.”
“Thank you, can you put it there? I will check on it right away.”
The civil officer bowed his head once and placed the report near the pile of parchments on the desk.
“How are things going with the army?”
“The commander will be coming in later to report, but generally, everything seems to be okay.”
“Generally, huh…? Are there any problems?”
“It hasn’t developed into a major problem, but there has been a slight altercation with the forces of the eastern nobility.”
Outside Sunspear, an army dispatched by the eastern nobles had set up an encampment around the city. The reason for this was that Vetu’s confidant, Rozl, had followed the sixth princess to the west, and thus they had been sent as reinforcements to monitor the declining strength of the army.
“What was the reason?”
“No good reason. It seems that the argument started when they got drunk and ended up in a quarrel. The only good thing is that it didn’t escalate into a fistfight, but because of the proximity of the war, everyone is on edge. I think it would be better for us to keep our distance from the eastern armies for the time being.”
“I’m not saying we should get along, but… I don’t want it to become a big problem. I will talk to the eastern commander about this.”
“Thank you for your attention. I will take my leave now.”
“Well, thank you for your hard work.”
After seeing his subordinate leave, Vetu sat down deep in his chair.
With a weary sigh, a woman―his wife, Serphina, touches his shoulder. She opened her mouth as her eyes followed the map spread out on the desk in front of Vetu and the layout of the pieces.
“It seems that the Vanir Three Kingdoms have begun to move.”
“Yes, and the Free Peoples as well.”
Vetu picked up one of the pieces and squinted with interest.
“The creepiest of all is probably the Grand Duchy of Drall. They are as silent as ever, but our spies report that they are ready to invade us.”
“So, for now, they’re just waiting to see what happens?”
“They are still trying to decide which side they should take. They probably don’t think it’s a good thing that the Vanir Three Kingdoms are passing through their territory as if they were their own. But if they crossed blades, they would not escape unscathed. There was a possibility that they would try to ingratiate themselves with the Vanir Three Kingdoms by ignoring them and then attack them from behind to complete a pincer attack with the Grantz.”
“What would you do if you were the Archduke of the Grand Duchy of Drall?”
“I’m not interested in “what if” stories, but if I were him, I would invade the Grantz. At first, I would aid the Vanir Three Kingdoms with supplies, and while gaining their trust, I would investigate the heart of the matter, such as logistics.”
Vetu carefully explained his thoughts while moving his finger on the map.
“After that, I will cut out the most profitable areas of the Grantz territory, and if the Vanir Three Kingdoms get in the way, I will burn up their provisions and have them loot the nearby areas. Then eliminate the Vanir Three Kingdoms, who have increased their enemies, to gain support from the people and establish control over the territories they have taken.”
“Then isn’t it possible that the other side is thinking the same thing?”
Serphina pointed out, but Vetu, shrugging his shoulders, shook his head with a wry smile.
“I don’t think so. It is true that the current Archduke is superior to his predecessor. Aside from the fact that he’s a bit obese, I don’t see anything wrong with him.”
If so――Serpina was about to say something like that, but Vetu interrupted her and snickered, the edges of his mouth lifting up.
“No power. He has no power. He is a brilliant man, but he doesn’t have the power to use his talents. His will has been crushed by his chief advisors, and his talents have been buried. Even if he has talent, he cannot make use of it if he does not have power. It’s just a waste of treasure.”
After listening to Vetu, Serphina tapped her hand, her expression cheerful, as if she had just had an epiphany.
“So it is possible for you, surrounded as you are by excellent subordinates, to do so?”
“I think so. If it were me, I would be able to do it. I have many people under my command who are better than I am, including Rozl.”
“Then, if we replace the Grand Duchy of Drall with the southern part of the Grantz, wouldn’t you be able to usurp the Grantz imperial family?”
Vetu turned around involuntarily. His expression was distorted with astonishment, and Serphina tilted her head and smiled at Vetu’s dismay.
“Is something the matter?”
“I didn’t expect such words to come out of your mouth. I was a little surprised. You never know where a spy might be lurking. From now on, you are not to speak such nonsense.”
Vetu sat back in his chair and sighed deeply.
Serhpina gently put her hands on his shoulders and put her mouth close to his ear.
“Do you really think so? I do not believe that you, who are so smart, would miss this opportunity.”
“I still have and always will have respect for the Grantz family, and I intend to serve them as I have always done, with all my heart and soul. What are you thinking, that you, my wife, would make such sweet talk?”
“If you really intend to do so, I will refrain from speaking of it in the future. But the current situation of Grantz is very dangerous. If this continues, I think we will both perish, but do you have a plan to resolve this situation?”
Vetu got up from his chair to get away from Serphina, then leaned against the window and looked out.
“I’ve got a few plans… but I’m not going to be careless right now. We still don’t know where the Vanir Three Kingdoms will go via the Grand Duchy of Drall.”
“It is possible that they will join the Free Peoples who have invaded the Republic of Steichen and invade up, or that they will enter the western region of Grantz from the Grand Duchy of Drall and head for the center.
“That’s right. There are only two ways to attack the central region. However, they cannot ignore the south, which is still intact. If that is the case, I believe that there is little chance of an attack from the west of Grantz into the central region. If they make a bad move, it will be the Vanir Three Kingdoms that will find themselves in a difficult position.”
From the central region, the First Imperial Army led by Prime Minister Rosa was moving south. If the Vanir Three Kingdoms were to attack from the west of the Grantz, even knowing this, Vetu from the south would lead his army northward and launch a pincer attack. The Vanir Three Kingdoms would be cornered. However, it was hard to believe that the long-eared race would make such a poor move. They must had a plan.
“If they ignore the south and head for the central region from the west, the Vanir Three Kingdoms would have an empty space behind their forces. The main force led by Her Imperial Highness Celia Estrella, who is posted in the Six Kingdoms, would also return from the west and attack. Then, the army led by Prime Minister Rosa and the army of the Grantz led by us will bite the Vanir Three Kingdoms.”
The Vanir Three Kingdoms would be completely surrounded, and if that were to happen, the Vanir Three Kingdoms would have no chance of victory at all.
“Then the usual course is still to break through the south and head for the central region. Even if they were to encounter problems along the way and chose to retreat, holding Sunspear would naturally lead to the collapse of the Great Grantz Empire.”
The higher-ups in the Grantz―Liz and Rosa―were trying to bring stability to the Great Grantz Empire by winning against the Six Kingdoms and the Vanir Three Kingdoms. Once this battle was over, there was no doubt that these women would shift their focus from the military to internal politics.
But that was only if the vast territory of the Grantz was safe.
“Even if the Vanir Three Kingdoms could be repelled… The north would still be a source of anxiety.”
Vetu had heard that the Bromell family, dissatisfied with the Scharm family, was about to launch a military action involving many nobles. They probably intend to expand their territory by taking advantage of the turmoil in Grantz. The head of the Bromell family was a dull-looking man, but he seemed to be a very ambitious man.
“I must revise my assessment.”
“Oh, you would lower your reputation because of something you couldn’t do yourself?”
At Serphina’s provocative words and actions, Vetu opened his mouth in a calm manner, although he was dubious.
“No, I think highly of him. First of all, there is the Spirit Wall. If he is a northern nobleman, he must understand the importance of this place. And yet, he acted so foolishly.”
Vetu also heard about the situation at the Spirit Wall. The Bromell family had turned against the Scharm family despite the fact that the monster had become active. If the monsters came crashing down from the Spirit Wall, the humans would disappear from the north.
“Not only would they lose their own territory. The existence of the Grantz will also disappear. The Bromel family, which caused the current disturbance, will be no exception. This is not a situation where anyone can talk about power.”
“The way you put it, it sounds like it would be underappreciated, but if I may ask, was that sarcasm?”
“I wasn’t being sarcastic. It’s a truly spine-tingling measure that the Bromell family has implemented.”
Vetu approached the desk once again and placed the pieces in a single pile in the center of the map.
“The Grantz will now have to deal with the Vanir Three Kingdoms and the Free Peoples one after the other. Whether they win or lose, they will not be unscathed. Even if they gather their remaining strength, the soldiers will be useless due to fatigue. The same is true for the main force of Her Highness Celia Estrella.”
If the Scharm family was destroyed by the Bromell family, the Grantz must conquer the north in order to save face. But that was only if the second prince Selene was not safe. If he was captured and was still alive, even as a puppet, the Grantz would not blame the Bromell family.
“The Grantz would not be able to fight anymore. So, if the second prince Selene is alive, they will have to forgive him. Besides, there is the existence of the Spirit Wall. In order to stabilize the north as soon as possible, that is the only path left for the Grantz.”
Vetu stroked his chin, his voice bubbling with joy at the unexpected appearance of a good adversary.
“I know it’s unlikely, but as for me, I’d like to see the conquest of the north take place.”
“Why? The Grantz can’t fight anymore, can they?”
“That’s why. If the Vanir Three Kingdoms and the Free Peoples are returned, there will no longer be any worries in the south of Grantz. The moment Her Highness Celia Estrella’s eyes turn to the north, I will be able to reach out effortlessly to the west, the east, and the center.”
With Prime Minister Rosa gone and the sixth princess’s backing gone, it would not be impossible for Vetu to control the Great Grantz Empire from behind the scenes.
“If by any chance the second prince Selene should die, it would be a pleasing phase for me. The time will come when the Muzuk family will be able to control the heart of Grantz.”
Vetu’s mouth twisted in glee as he clears his throat. Serphina, on the other hand, frowned and looked at the map.
He did not know what she was thinking inside. Vetu, however, showed no sign of concern and smiled as he placed his hand on Serphina’s shoulder.
“Now… my late father will finally approve of me.”
“Yes, I think so. I am sure Father will approve of you too.”
“Well then, I will go and talk to the eastern commander. No need to clean the room; just leave it as it is.”
“I understand. Take care.”
Serphina looked at the portraits in the room after Vetu’s back was turned.
The great previous head of the Muzuk family, who had raised the Muzuk family from a small noble family to one of the five great noble families in a single generation.
Although he passed away due to illness, his son Vetu, who succeeded him, brought more prosperity to the Muzuk family and was revered like a god by the people of the south.
However, behind the beautiful history lay an ugly history.
“…Not to be outdone by the Grantz imperial family, the Muzuk family is also corrupt.”
Hatred is directed at the portrait. It was a very strong hatred for a man who is the father-in-law.
Serphina’s expression twisted and distorted as she let out a low voice from her throat as if she were trying to spit out a curse.
“Because of you, I have lost something very important.”
Serphina grabbed the bottle of wine Vetu had left behind and threw it at the portrait.
The bottle did not hit the portrait but instead fell slightly to the side and hit the wall, shattering it.
“So….. everything, everything should be gone.”
Serphina kicked Vetu’s desk, and the stack of parchment crumbled noisily.