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With the operation to recapture Felzen, the Northern Incident, the Southern Incident, and the conquest of the Six Kingdoms, fires have begun to burn all over the central continent. At the center of the conflict was the Central Continent’s supreme power, the Great Empire of Grantz, which, due to its vast territory, was expanding its military front.
The bill for the expansion of the land area that successive emperors had carried out was probably being paid. Of course, there were many who predicted this situation. But in Grantz, which was said to be an ever-victorious nation that has never known defeat, their voices were so small that no one listened to them.
The conquest of the Six Kingdoms was also a victory, albeit under the condition of a truce. However, where there was an end, there was also a beginning. A new battle was about to begin in the western part of Grantz.
West of Grantz―Fort Hundert, located on the outskirts of the Second Imperial Capital, was a fort built on the border of the Grand Duchy of Drall. Currently stationed here was the First Imperial Army led by Prime Minister Rosa, which was hurrying to regroup in order to intercept the Vanir Three Kingdoms that were passing through the Grand Duchy of Drall.
The current Fort Hundert was overflowing with soldiers from nobles who had gathered from all over the country, completely exceeding the allowable capacity. The overflow had even set up tents around the fort. Furthermore, since General Weiss’s Fifth Imperial Army had joined them, even at night, the place was noisy as if it were a kind of festival. The person who stands at the top of them, Prime Minister Rosa, was currently meeting with General Weiss at the command center.
“Have we met somewhere before?”
Rosa tilted her head when she saw the face of the Five Great Generals Weiss, whom she met for the first time. The reason she mentioned the question was because she felt one uncomfortable feeling. She felt a sense of familiarity. Not only that, but she couldn’t grasp the sense of distance between them. Human beings have an interpersonal distance. If you meet someone for the first time, you may feel uncomfortable if you get too close. But there was no such thing; rather, Rosa’s distance from her crushed hers. It was because she noticed this that Rosa expressed her doubts, but Weiss shook her head.
“Good grief, I don’t recall that, but…”
“O-okay, that’s a strange thing to ask.”
Even though she denied it, she still looked at Weiss’s face several times in some disbelief, but after clearing her throat, as if she felt it was indeed rude, Rosa switched the subject.
“But thank goodness you’re here to reinforce us. To be honest, I’ve never commanded anything on this scale before. I’ve been fooling and deceiving my way through the reorganization… and here we are.”
In truth, the reorganization should have been completed by now. However, due to Rosa’s lack of command, it’s still not finished yet. It could have been done better if Aura had been around.
“Therefore, I would like to entrust you with the command from now on.”
“Such a big responsibility is too heavy for me.”
“I don’t think so. Planning the reorganization is a brilliant idea. I am truly grateful for your help. I am ashamed to say this, but I am not gifted enough to command a large army. I’ll add that I’m not even fit to be a prime minister. I am more suited to a local lord.”
“Then why did you become prime minister?”
Weiss’ question was quite natural. The words were laced with a little bit of blame. She could understand her discomfort. Rosa obtained the position of prime minister by using the financial power of the Eastern nobility as a shield. If she made a weak statement that this was not her capacity, she would naturally look like a scoundrel who bought her position with money, drowned in greed. Therefore, it was inevitable that people would react like Weiss.
“General Weiss, what do you think will happen to the Great Grantz Empire after this war is over?”
“That would be… that Liz-sama would become Empress and lead her people.”
“I see… The threat of other countries will cease for the time being. There is no doubt that Liz will be the empress. But even if there are no more external enemies, what about the inside?”
There are many nobles who have not yet sent out their troops and are still sitting on their laurels. What will they do when the war is over? The nobles participating in this battle are exhausted and unable to fight properly, so they will surrender.
“As soon as the war is over, I intend to punish the nobles who did not take part in the current operation. If they turn on us, we will crush them with all the power of the Kelheit family. I am sure that many will condemn me, as when I punished the central nobles. …But that is the end of it. I will take responsibility for the trouble I have caused, and I will hand over the position of prime minister to a capable person.”
She must make sure that her sister Liz’s reign was flawless. Whether dirty or cursed, she intends to reap all those who stand in the way of her ideals.
Weiss, perhaps sensing Rosa’s resolve, made a gesture of thought and bowed her head.
“…I understand; I’ll take on the role of commander.”
“Yes, thank you. I’m counting on you.”
Rosa happily tapped Weiss on the shoulder, and as soon as she looked up, she sent the question flying.
“So, when is Her Highness planning to join us?”
According to a letter from Aura-dono, Lord Rozl, who had been entrusted with the governance of Sandinal, was missing. After gathering the remaining soldiers, they would make some moves in the Vanir Three Kingdoms and then join us. The exact number of days would be known in due course.
“Speaking of Rozl, he was Vetu’s confidant, wasn’t he? …I left General Robert in the south, but would it have been better if I had remained behind?”
“No, we’ve already taken care of that. Vetu can no longer do anything.”
Meteor’s fur-covered ears twitched as she spoke. The sound of a flurry of activity echoes from the corridor. It was the sound of armor scraping violently. It stopped in front of the room. Weiss reached for the sword hilt at her waist, with Rosa sheltering behind her back. But the one who entered without even knocking on the door was one of the commanders, impatience plastered on his sweaty face.
“Prime Minister Rosa! It’s a surprise attack! The tent has been burned, and the troops are in disarray!”
“What? Is it from Vanir Three Kingdoms?”
“N-no, they are the free people!”
“Nonsense, they must be invading Steichen… no way is this a diversion?”
Rosa immediately approached the window and opened it. A clamor came in from outside. However, only one part of the fire is burning; Rosa judged that the small damage is due in part to the fact that the encampment is large but also because the opponent rode in in small numbers.
“We’ll be there soon… to clean up the mess.”
Following the commander’s back, Weiss followed behind Rosa without a word.
Running down the corridor and down the stairs, a door leading to the courtyard soon appears. The soldiers were instructed to open the door, and the sight of the Grantz Soldiers engaged in battle burst into the room. Many cavalrymen are avalanching into the fort. The free people were playing with the Grantz soldiers, showing their skillful maneuvering.
Then, a spray of blood shot up to split the full moon, and the head of the commander in front of Rosa and her men flew off. At that moment, Weiss’s back was seen as she stepped forward to protect Rosa.
“Rosa-sama, never leave me. They seem to have made a straight line and headed right for us here.”
They must have come directly for the heads of the leaders and commanders. The audacity to carry out such a reckless maneuver in this large encampment was to be feared. There’s nothing more troublesome than someone who had charged in, prepared to die. Weiss drew her sword from her waist, and the figure of a woman appeared in the darkness, stepping over the corpses of the Grantz soldiers.
“You must be Prime Minister Rosa. I have come to claim your life.”
“…Who are you?”
Rosa asked, but the mysterious woman did not answer the question but turned her face to Weiss with interest. The face illuminated by the moonlight is beautiful, as expected of a “long-eared tribe.”
“Hmm? You smell strange.”
“Can’t you see?”
“No, I don’t need light. I only need darkness.”
“My name is Verona. Together with Nameless, we shall sink into the darkness.”
The woman who said and did these strange things dropped her hips deeply as she reached for the hilt of her sword.
The sunsets and nightfall.
A full moon floats in the sky, and the stars are scattered. A blackness darker than darkness floats on the ground, and many corpses lie around it. Many of the bodies illuminated by the moonlight were not human. They are what people call “monsters,” which are abhorred by the people. A large shadow rises from the pile of corpses.
“I will kill you; I will kill you!”
A humanoid “monster” with a huge body―the correct name in the common language is the “Marked Tribe.” He lunged at a small shadow―blacker than darkness. However, a change came immediately. A dazzling white light emanated from the black. The boy’s voice echoed from the center of this strange phenomenon of two opposing colors combining.
“The Faceless King… I can’t defeat such a failure.”
A mass of intense light―the “Heavenly Emperor”―caught the giant hand of the “Marked Tribe.” Supporting it was a black-haired boy named Hiro. Ahead of his gaze, there was a presence, a being called the Faceless King, standing calmly.
“Do you mean to say that you are the “perfected” form? Don’t be mistaken, you incomplete one.”
Hiro shrugged his shoulders at the words of the Faceless King.
“You’re just another god; you’re just another king.”
“You say so….. but you can’t kill that failure.”
The Fearless King, with a provocative smile on his face, pointed his finger at Hiro and pronounced.
“Just like Altius did in the past.”
“Shut up; you just need to be my food.”
Hiro left the “Heavenly Emperor” in place, and the “Dark Emperor” appeared in his right hand, and light flashed it.
With a single movement, the head of the “Marked Tribe” fell to the ground. A large amount of blood flew into the air from the body that had lost its head. But red is no match for black, and the world is ruled by the black heavens.
“I will eat all the ‘kings’ and become a ‘god’.”
With his arms outstretched, Hiro accepted the rain of blood with a face filled with bitterness as if in penitence.
“I want to go. Rey “saw” what Altius wanted――”
“――Beyond the three thousand worlds.”