Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
The battle between Verona and General Weiss was not something that ordinary people could enter.
If you took even one step, your head would fly off, your limbs would burst, and you would die without even realizing it. It was such a high octane battle―and yet, Rosa was deeply moved by the fact that there was also a strange battle. She couldn’t follow the two of them―or so it seemed.
Rather, the sight of the two of them was firmly etched in her eyes.
Weiss, as usual, kept her back to Rosa and maintained her distance, while Verona, on the other hand, remained deeply bent over with her right hand on her sword hilt, not moving a single step from her initial position.
In other words, Rosa did not understand how these women were fighting now.
Sparks were flying everywhere, and the sound of the blades was loud enough to make people cower. So she understood that they were engaged in a fierce battle. However, since she could not see it with her own eyes, it was understandable that Rosa was watching in a daze.
However, that was the impression of an ordinary person like Rosa, and for the women on the other side of the “out-of-human” wall, it was a fight for their lives, with no time to catch their breath.
Rosa did not know which side had the upper hand in their battle. But in other battles, it was easy to know. The battle between the surrounding Grantz Soldiers and the enemy night attack force was coming to an end. The commander, Verona, was glued to Weiss, and the poor free people, who could neither abandon such a commander nor get orders from her, were being killed off one by one by the Grantz soldiers.
“I wonder if we’re a good match or a bad match.”
Weiss muttered. She was staring at Verona, who was a short distance away, with both hands on the hilt of her sword, her weapon, which she had thrust into the ground.
All the onslaughts from earlier have been blocked. Not even a scratch has been inflicted.
The number of times she had slashed at her exceeded a thousand, and even now, she was still attacking fiercely.
Even so, Weiss showed no signs of fatigue, and Verona did not break a sweat either.
“You were going to kill me, weren’t you? If you thought you could kill me with this level of attack, you were mistaken, I must say.”
The blade protruding from the ground was repelled by something. The sparks made Verona’s face appear in the darkness for a moment. Weiss noticed a smile on her face, but she snorted as if it were a cheap provocation and calmly did not slow down her attack.
“I do not intend to let anger cloud my eyes. You cannot win unless you know both your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. I don’t believe that you can win by forceful methods.”
“I see. You are as calm as ever.”
“That’s it. Why do you know me? I have never heard about Verona, and I have never seen your face. It must be unpleasant to have someone you don’t know talk so well about you as if they understand you.”
“Indeed, but I don’t think it would be any fun to tell you anymore for free.”
“Then, can you tell me just before you die?”
Weiss raised one hand and snapped her fingers, and a number of blades protruded from the ground to surround Verona. As they joined one after the other, they linked together like a serpent, whirling to strangle their prey and closing the distance between them and Verona. Eventually, they formed a hemispherical shape and covered the top of Verona’s head. There were no escape routes in any direction, and the area around her was filled with so many blades, that her figure could be seen only through the faintest of gaps. But despite her cornered situation, she still had a smile on her face, as if she still had a lot of leeways.
“Understood. I’ll let you know when I’m dying.”
The blade is transformed into a glass ball-like sphere, small enough for a child to swallow.
“I hope you still have your human form.”
In the blink of an eye―there was no gap to escape from, and she gave no room for dodging.
“…It seems my subordinates have been wiped out, so I’ll call it a night.”
Weiss slowly looked at the voice coming from the breastplate and clicked her tongue.
The lack of moonlight made it impossible to see the figure, but there was a definite presence standing on the breastplate.
“Please forgive me. I have my own plans.”
With these words, Verona’s presence disappears behind the breastplate, leaving behind only a laugh in the darkness.
Still not letting down her guard, Weiss kept her eyes on her surroundings, but after confirming that the threat was completely gone, she relaxed her shoulders and let go of her tension.
“The Twelve Demon Lords who appear and disappear, they haven’t changed even after a thousand years, have they?”
As Weiss pulled her sword from the ground and sheathed it, Rosa approached from behind.
“…Did she escape?”
“Rather than that, I would say she went back satisfied.”
Weiss looked back and saw Rosa’s face, which was truly bewildered.
“I see….. It’s disconcerting to think that after all this time, she’s in the mood to go on a tour of the place.”
Abandoned free people, their corpses exposed in the fields in a cruel state, with no one to retrieve them. Not a single person surrendered, and all were killed in cold blood. Many Grantz soldiers must have been killed in such a desperate raid, but the details would only be known later. However, there was no doubt that many people were injured in the night attack. Still, overall, the damage was minor.
“It seems we should move out of the fort. This one is useless.”
The entrance and exit gates had been completely burned down by the surprise attack. However, it was not difficult to imagine that making the fort dysfunctional was not their objective but for the lives of Rosa and the others.
“They had no intention to siege the fort in the first place. It wouldn’t have mattered if it had burned down. They wanted us dead. If they could, they wanted us to fight amongst ourselves.”
“We have a large encampment, so I thought it would be best to calm the confusion among the soldiers first. The soldiers who were resting at a distance must have been immensely upset.”
“Yes. We also need to find out why the free people have appeared on our side.”
“…..There is no denying that they may be connected to the Muzuk family.”
“It’s dangerous to jump to conclusions, but I suppose it’s a strong possibility.”
Rosa drooped down tiredly, let out a sigh, and called out to the troop leaders. Weiss, taking her gaze off the struggling backs, sat down on the spot and looked up at the night sky.
“I can’t see the stars very well here. Tomorrow may be rainy or cloudy; but, I hope it’s clear…”
The more you cannot see through, the more fearful you become. Everyone gets anxious when they can’t see the future.
This was true even in light of Grantz’s situation.
“I don’t like the dark. It makes me feel backward.”
Remembering the people she had left behind in the south, Weiss looked in the direction where Sunspear would be.
Sunspear was a large city in the southern part of the Great Grantz Empire.
The city flourished by establishing trade routes stretching from east to west, north to south, and west to northwest, and it achieved rapid development as many merchants turned their attention to this area because of its gold production.
The Muzuk family, one of the five great noble families, governed the region and, with its financial power, had established a firm position in the Great Grantz Empire, second only to the Kelheit family, the leading of the five great noble families, which now had a prime minister.
The symbol of the Muzuk family’s power was the palace called the Golden Palace.
It was a one-of-a-kind structure that could only be built by the Muzuk family, which owned the largest gold reserves in the Grantz. While such pride and confidence existed in the Muzuk family, there was also a hint of vanity.
Originally, the Muzuk family was not wealthy, even among the five great noble families.
The southern part of the country was covered with deserts, and they supported the economy of the south by raising horses and taking advantage of the small area of prairie land. The Muzuk family had been scorned and abused by those around them and had been moving through noble society with an accumulated sense of inferiority, but one day they realized that there was a large amount of gold lying in the mountains they owned. From there, the Muzuk family’s status rose, and they expanded their city by distributing gold to merchants, establishing trade routes, and becoming known as a major city.
Starting from a sense of inferiority, the city developed through vanity and has now grown into one of the largest cities in the Grantz. Despite such a depressing history, the Golden Palace, which was also the residence of the Muzuk family, shone beautifully even in the darkness. Today, however, the atmosphere was somewhat disturbing.
Perhaps it was the soldiers who had begun to gather at the palace, or perhaps it was the unique atmosphere created by the night.
Margrave Grinda, who was the uncle of Liz, the sixth princess of the Great Grantz Empire, was a member of a noble family with a fiefdom near the Principality of Lichtine. He, Kiork, was walking quickly down the corridor of the Golden Palace with his soldiers.
“I am certain I heard a shout.”
Kiork said without looking back with a hint of impatience, and the soldier following behind him nodded.
“Yes, sir, we checked the corridor, and there were no soldiers standing guard, and we really should have checked inside the room, but…”
“That’s fine. That’s what General Robert wanted.”
Robert had strict orders to inform Kiork, who was waiting outside the room, first if he sensed anything unusual. This was in case the discussions with the southern nobles became complicated. That was why Kiork was heading for the room where the war council was being held with a large number of soldiers in tow.
“…Something is strange.”
As he rounded the corner of the corridor, a strange quietness filled him with dread. Kiork hesitated to continue, but there was no point in stopping. After taking one deep breath to prepare himself, Kiork looked back at the soldiers behind him.
“No guards, no patrols, no one… to not see anyone… how many soldiers were there?”
“Twenty-five of General Robert’s private army. They are all the best soldiers he could have chosen.”
The soldier’s words left Kiork with a bad premonition in his heart, but he stepped out with determination.
He eventually arrived at the room, but the strange smell wafting from the slightly opened door made him frown and clamp his mouth shut. He understood that opening the door would not produce good results, but hesitating here would not solve the problem.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. Everyone, be on your guard.”
The soldiers nodded nervously at Kiork’s words, and as if on cue, one of them kicked down the door with a shout of enthusiasm. The soldiers, who had drawn their swords, stormed into the room in an avalanche but immediately lost their momentum and went pale as they stopped.
“…..What is this?”
Covering his mouth with his hand, Kiork looked at the devastation in the room and could not say another word.
The floor was stained a deep red, and it was a sea of blood. The white walls of the room were covered in blood, the legs of the chairs were broken, and the desks were shattered. Kiork’s expression was almost one of anguish as he looked at the vast amount of blood soaking the soles of his feet, but his expression changed when he saw the huge body submerged in a pool of blood.
Kiork rushed to him and immediately took him in his arms, but he was not breathing. The wound was invisible in the blood, but judging from the amount of blood loss, it must have been a fatal wound. Nearby was a woman whose head had been crushed, and Kiork, feeling nauseous, hurriedly clamped his mouth shut and stood up. He could not be sure because of the missing head, but he was sure it was Serphina, Vetu’s wife, judging from the jewelry and other decorations.
“What happened? Who in the world could have done this…?”
Kiork was stunned, but the blood drained from his face when he saw the soldiers checking to see if the victims were alive or dead. It was not in response to the devastation in the room.
He saw the situation and understood what was about to happen.
“This is… not good.”
There was no sign of the person who seemed to be the murderer. It would be extremely difficult to find the killer in the deserted room without leaving any traces of their presence. Above all, there was no time left for Kiork and his men. Most of the palace was occupied by the Fifth Imperial Army – soldiers of the Eastern nobility. And only the Eastern soldiers and Kiork, who belong to the South and have established friendly relations with them, have entered this room.
To top it all off, there were the corpses of southern nobles filling the room and the bodies of Robert, including the eastern soldiers, who showed signs of having fought with them. Anyone looking at this situation would assume that it was a plot by the eastern nobles.
“Someone, the southern…..”
Kiork’s expression was filled with bitterness after he said this.
The main southern nobles had gathered in this room in order to discuss the situation.
It was doubtful that they would listen to him calmly after learning of their lord’s death.
“Gather the commanders of the units belonging to the south. We must explain the situation.”
It could be assumed that the eastern nobles had taken steps to gain sovereignty over the southern part of the Grantz. If they make a bad move, they would invite fire in Sunspear, and what the other countries would do when they sense something was wrong―it was hard to imagine, but they would definitely send their armies to help.
Scratching his head, Kiork bit his fingernails and tried desperately to gather all the wisdom he could muster.
“Is there any way to turn this situation around… damn it, any way at all…?”
Looking around the room, Kiork found the dead body of Vetu, the head of the Muzuk family―his eyes wide open in astonishment as he lay dying. Falling beside him was what appeared to be a blood-soaked letter. Kiork picked it up and squints. The blood had rendered most of the letter unreadable, but he could barely read part of it.
As he read on, Kiork put his hand to his chin at the end with a dour look on his face.
He stepped toward the hallway with a complicated expression that left him somewhat puzzled and unable to make a decision.
Then, just after leaving the room, he turned and opened his mouth to the soldiers.
“Keep a lookout in front of the room, and don’t let anyone through while the status quo remains intact. If anyone from the south comes, ask them to come and see me.”
“Yes, sir, understood. But where are you going, Margrave Grinda?”
“I am going to Lord Muzuk’s room. Someone follow me.”
In order to avoid a conflict with the southern soldiers, he needed solid proof that they were also victims. He would like to ask for a decision from Rosa, the Prime Minister of Grantz, but he does not have time to wait for a reply. In the first place, she probably didn’t have time to worry about these matters. For now, he could only send a letter and not expect a reply. He couldn’t afford to be a liability; his niece was fighting in a distant land. As an uncle, he could not run away.
“I had to show her that I am her uncle once in a while.”
Kiork turned his eyes forward with a powerful light in them, determined to get through this by his own strength.