Hi all! I’m back from my trip and here is the next chapter! (It was great!!!! ❤ )
The chapters are getting longer and longer, so do consider donating!
P.S: I ended up buying a volume of the manga I like! But opening it will be spoilers for me, since I didn’t read the volume before it ;-; It is torture…
Chapter 2, Episode 10: Advance
Imperial Year 1023, July 23.
It’s early morning and the morning mist is yet to clear.
Before the main gate of Fort Belk, there are a large number of cavalry and foot soldiers standing in rows.
The neighing of the horses cut through the mist and shake the air, and a deep note rings out from the armor of the throngs of soldiers.
Grantz Grand Empire, the Fourth Imperial Army, guardians of the south— 10,000 of their 20,000 men are present.
Every single one of them is brimming with energy from every inch of their body. Their expressions are a mix of tension and excitement.
Their heroic figures look even more so with their well maintained, state of the art armor.
On the right flank are 2,000 soldiers under the command of the Sixth Imperial Princess of the Grantz Grand Empire— the possessor of 「Laevateinn」.
— Celia Estreya Elizabeth von Grantz.
The young girl, who is lovingly called Liz by those close to her and her family, brings her horse to a large man.
「Tris, I haven’t heard much about that General Kielo. How competent is he?」
Tris, his brown hair spotted with white, brushed his similarly colored beard and mumbled calmly.
「It’s only natural that you do not know of him, Princess, because General Kielo is a man of the shadows. You do not hear his name in the capital」
「There was a monster during the same period as General Kielo. He was always on the same battlefield as him, and General Kielo was unable to look into the eyes of the sun.」
「Do you mean…」
「Commander in Chief Loring. Because of the prodigal Commander in Chief Loring, General Kielo had all his most important achievements taken away from him. Regardless, he still built up his merits steadily and rose through the ranks, but now, he is called the shadow general, among other things.」
「That’s so… But, if he’s someone who worked that hard, I don’t see a problem with him taking command.」
Tris groaned at Liz’s words.
「… I wonder.」
「Is there something bothering you?」
「Because he was driven away into the shadows, I’ve heard General Kielo has a tendency to hate those brimming with talent.」
「Does that mean he prefers those who put in effort rather than prodigies?」
「I suppose that would be looking at it in a positive way. In the negative sense, he keeps those who are gifted at a distance.」
「But if he came this far the way he is, I don’t think there should be a problem. You don’t think so?」
「To keep those who are gifted at a distance means to narrow your strategic options. It’s only natural because insight which is superior to your own does not present itself.」
Tris looked at Liz with what seemed like worried eyes.
「Also, Princess… have you forgotten?」
「Princess, you are of the prodigal type which General Kielo despises. That is what weighs heaviest on my mind.」
「Haha, no way. If I were a prodigy, I wouldn’t be training every day.」
Though she waves her hand and denies his claim, she might have been happy about being called a prodigal type, as her cheeks softened.
After letting out a deep sigh, he pointed at 「Laevateinn」 resting on her waist.
「What might that be?」
「Well, it’s 「Laevateinn」…」
「How many spirit swords are there in the world?」
「Five. But one was lost so— four now.」
「Among the only four spirit swords in the world, one of them is there on your waist.」
「Eh, but possessing 「Laevateinn」 has nothing to do with me being a prodigy, does it?」
「There has to be a reason 「Laevateinn」 chose you, Princess. You likely have a gift which even you are not aware of. And so, General Kielo will probably see you as an enemy.」
「He’s the commanding officer of the Fourth Imperial Army. I don’t think he’d show such childish emotions…」
「Regardless, there is no loss in being cautious. Please take care.」
Liz takes to the heart the warning from the grim faced Tris.
(Hiro said the same thing, too.)
She recalls the young boy with half his face covered by an eyepatch.
He left that place ten days ago— This happened two days before his departure.
This was when he was holed up in the study at Fort Belk as usual.
Liz went to get Hiro, who was engrossed in his books without even eating breakfast.
As soon as Liz entered the room, Hiro looked up from his book. He throws his gaze at Liz and speaks.
『Liz, what do you think is essential in a war?』
After hesitating at the sudden question…
「Soldiers, food provisions… Ahh, and intelligence!」
Hiro nodded at Liz’s answer.
『It’s true, those three are important. But people are able to start wars because of a just cause.』
Hiro looks directly at Liz.
『I think I’ll save the the cause for later and talk about intelligence right now—』
The child like nature in Hiro’s expression which was there until just a minute ago was now gone.
(This face again.)
This young boy has a number of faces.
For the most part, he has a frail expression appropriate for his age, but on the battlefield, he wears a ruthless expression, not letting on to his thoughts.
And like now, when he works his ingenuity, he wears a dignified expression.
Which of these is his true face exactly? If possible, she wants it to be the one Hiro usually shows, the one appropriate for his age.
As she prays that it is, she leans her ear in to listen to his words.
『—Before the war begins, you hide a spy in the enemy nation for years, decades beforehand. Comparing the intelligence they accumulate with current reports, you prepare to start your war. 』
Hiro closes the book in his hand.
『With a just cause, you gain the support of the citizens, and you couldn’t ask for more in terms of fueling the morale of your soldiers and their training. Once you’ve prepared adequate provisions and obtained intelligence on the enemy country, all that’s left, is to simply start the war—』
『However,』 Hiro says with a pause before speaking again.
『It’s still possible to lose with all these elements. This happens when your commander is unable to make use of the intelligence.』
Liz tilts her head in confusion in response to his words.
「Isn’t that why you have staff officers?」
『Those who keep staff officers who would admonish them nearby is proof that they are aware of their own shortcomings. I think consider those people competent. But you know, not every commander is like that. You can’t forget that there are people who keep those superior to themselves at a distance, and assemble those who are inferior.』
No matter the place or time, there are commanders who are such in name alone.
There are often many leaders who envy the talents of others. And so, if those with talent are not blessed with a good superior, they will be nipped in the bud and disappear before they’re able to take center stage.
Having received the blessing of 「Laevateinn」 and been born into the Imperial family on top of that, those people would not find Liz amusing one bit.
『Because you’re a major general, it’s possible for you to be put in command, but it’s also possible for you to be assigned someone’s staff officer. When that happens, you need to be careful not to refute the commander in front of the other staff officers, even if they’re wrong. Because if the commander’s pride is hurt, he’ll give you many ordeals.』
「But wouldn’t it turn into a problem if you don’t point out their mistakes?」
『That’s why you prepare. So that you can deal with any situation that might arise. Stay in close contact with each unit’s leader.』
「But will they listen to me?」
『You should use your title as the Sixth Imperial Princess as much as you can. You have 「Laevateinn」 too, so I’m sure a letter from you would send them on an emotional roller coaster.』
Hiro quietly stretched out both hands and his black eye was shining.
『Having received the favor of「Laevateinn」, the soldiers will surely lend their ears to you. When the time comes, I’m sure you’ll see for yourself.』
「When the time comes?」
Hiro simply smiled and didn’t answer her.
Then, Hiro smirked in a way that looked like he just thought up a prank.
『I guess I’ll talk about the just cause now.』
Hiro said, as he begins to move his mouth quickly—
(We finished talking around the time the sun set…)
Just thinking back on it gives her a headache. Liz shook her head and focused her attention in front of her.
The mist had already cleared, and the vast horizon was expanding. Liz called out to Tris while maneuvering her horse.
「Yes, what is it?」
「Look into the names of all the unit leaders.」
Tris tilts his head confused. She should know the names of all the unit leaders for the 2,000 men she’s leading.
After pondering for a moment, Tris finally looked to Liz with an expression that suggested he understood.
「Could you mean, for the entire army?」
Liz looks up at the now clear sky.
Though it’s early morning and cool now, soon the sun’s light will heat the surface and they will likely soon be assaulted by a boiling heat.
「We have to prepare for the possibility of when General Kielo slips up, right?」
If would be fine if all this effort were for naught, but you never know what might happen on a battlefield.
As Liz prays that her worries are unwarranted, she says to him gravely…
「Yes, understood. I will look into them right away.」
He bows respectfully from atop his horse, spins his horse’s head around, then disappears into the wave of soldiers.
After watching him go off, Liz grabbed the handle of 「Laevateinn」.
At that moment, a number of drums begin to beat, and the sound races through the crevices between the soldiers.
Once they flew the flag in the center of the army where General Kielo was, Liz raised her hand and signaled to her flag bearer.
Liz’s flag with a crest of red soil and lilies goes up and dances in the wind. At the same time, a flag with the Grantz Imperial family’s crest of golden soil and a lion is raised as well.
And so, the entire army quickly begins their advance towards the Lichtein Dukedom.
＊＊＊＊＊ ＊＊＊＊＊ ＊＊＊＊＊ ＊＊＊＊＊ ＊＊＊＊＊
General Kielo, the new commander entrusted with the Fourth Imperial Army of the Grantz Grand Empire.
This man, who will be 54 this year, shows no sign of physical decline, but is rather brimming with vitality and exudes a spirit as strong as any youth.
Having been granted command over the Fourth Imperial Army as a result of General Loring’s mishap, he appeals to them in high spirits.
「We will make them pay for the grievous crime of trespassing on the holy land in which the spirit king resides!」
As General Kielo unsheathes his sword and raises it to the sky, the sound of drums ring out.
As this happens, the soldiers raise their war cry, shaking the eardrums pleasantly.
「All units, advance!」
As he scans the advancing army, General Kielo snickered at this opportunity which had finally come around to him.
His aide riding beside him also wears a relaxed expression.
「The time has finally come for your name to roar throughout the continent, your Excellency.」
General Kielo nods at his statement.
「Which is why we need a complete victory.」
General Kielo looks afar with a loathsome look in his face.
Thirty six years have gone by since his first battle.
Until now, he had his most important achievements taken from him by Commander in Chief Loring, and he was constantly forced to experience hardships.
He had even given up on ever being able to look into the eyes of the sun until the day he died.
「Even though there wasn’t much of a difference between us at first…」
Mutters General Kielo.
He took the heads of three enemies in his first magnificent battle and steadily rose through the ranks.
He reached the rank of general after his late forties, while General Loring did so in his late thirties, and rose to commander in chief around forty.
「Steadily, the gap began to grow wider, and by the time I realized, I was the shadow general. Is there a more pitiful life than that?」
He was unable to catch up to General Loring whether it was in terms of ingenuity or military prowess.
You could say that that’s why General Kielo came to be jealous of those with talent and turn a blind eye to them.
When he welcomed his staff officers, he screened for those who had similar situations as himself.
His aide riding alongside him was also a man who had his path to success cut off and forced to a remote region by one more superior than himself— by Count Bunadara— by Aura.
「But a fine opportunity has finally arrived. We can not let this slip by.」
「And so, what do you plan to do, your Excellency? His Majesty’s orders were to bring the northern region of the Lichtein Dukedom under our control.」
「I won’t be called to the central goverment with that. I need to leave a result that would astonish anyone.」
「… Could it be…」
「We will use this chance to launch an assault on Lichtein’s capital— Azbakal.」
His aide’s mouth was frozen agape in shock.
Because there’s the fact that 10,000 men is too small a force. There’s also the question of whether or not their morale will hold.
It’s true that Azbakal is near the Grantz Grand Empire in distance, but it is still over 80 sels (240 km) away.
The aide sank into silence, looking as if he were debating whether or not to advise the general to reconsider.
General Kielo placed a massive hand on the aide’s shoulder as he was hesitating.
「The Lichtein Dukedom’s numbers have diminished from their loss last month. They have less than 6,000 men to mobilize right now. I also hear that that foolish duke’s is losing more and more of his ability to keep his country united with each passing day. The intuition I’ve cultivated through these many years tells me we should attack.」
The aide lifted his face and stared at General Kielo.
General Kielo’s smile broadened as he declared with conviction.
「Let us rise to the central government together. We’ll show those high officials of the goverment who look down on the nobles of the remote regions. We will launch an assault on Azbakal. If we do, you will likely be able redeem yourself for your failure in Ferzen.」
Seeing him speak so assuredly and his overflowing ambition, the hesitation in the aide’s eyes disappeared.
General Kielo takes a quick glance at this with satisfaction, then quickly begins to construct a plan moving forward in his head.
(As long as we can maintain the supply trains to a certain extent, that’s fine. There’s no problem with provisions if we pillage them from the Lichtein Dukedom. No need to let our conscience get in the way. If we distribute them freely to the soldiers their morale will rise greatly. This is what they mean by two birds with one stone. If we use that momentum to utterly destroy the Lichtein Dukedom… it won’t be a dream for me to replace Loring as commander in chief.)
You couldn’t ask for more from the Fourth Imperial Army in terms of experience.
If this were a private army, he probably would have been satisfied with the northern region.
However, he is currently commanding the Fourth Imperial Army.
These are powerful soldiers which General Loring trained and polished through blood, sweat, and combat.
(I’ll use the troops you raised to steal the position of commander in chief from you.)
General Kielo faced the sun shining radiantly on him with an unseemly smile.