The Master of the Brave - Chapter 111
Chapter 111 – Alliance Formation
“Are there demons involved?” Leticia, who had finished listening, narrowed her eyes and asked Raul.
“And not only that. After that, I personally led the army to the old fortress to investigate. At that time, there were no traces that there had even been any demons, but after those in charge evacuated and before the army rushed there, traces were found of another group of people who had entered the castle.”
The dust that had accumulated over the years was thrown into the air by the impact of the collapse. It didn’t take long for all that dust to fall back to the ground. When Raul and his followers went to investigate, they found several human footprints in the dust. It turned out that the footprints had been made after all the dust had fallen to the ground. They also discovered that the footprints were heading toward the town at the foot of the mountain. And while investigating the town’s residents and conducting checks along the streets, some grimoires and tools that appeared to have been taken from the ancient fortress were discovered in the luggage of a small company of merchants.
“Upon interrogation, the men of the merchant corps confessed to being followers of Sarah Ferrule. According to what they said, they were ordered by their superiors to go to the old fortress and remove the objects written on a note given to them. It also appeared that they were not the only ones who received that order, and that there were others who transported the objects by other routes.”
Raul and his men hurried to the place where the merchants had confessed to having received the legacy, but it was already late and the mansion that should have been their base was already empty.
“We don’t know if what the stewards saw was really a demon. But we do know of the presence of the apostates. The only thing for sure is that they are planning something terrible.”
“Conrad and Sarah. With the legacy in their hands, are they planning to summon the god of destruction?”
“I suppose that’s most likely. After Sarah’s death, most of the organizations that followed the Apostate disbanded, but some of them have gone underground. And Liara said that the God of Destruction is not necessarily an evil god. There are a small number of people who have always believed in the God of Destruction.”
Liara Thane was the girl who had been Leticia’s other companion. And Conrad and she had a history.
“Liara told you that?”
“That’s right. She said something about it being wrong to apply God’s actions to man’s standards in the first place.”
“Raul… you weren’t even listening to her, were you?”
“Anyway. I’ve discovered that the Apostate organization, which I thought disbanded after Sarah Ferrule’s death, is still active, and that demons are also involved in their movement. Is their goal the same as before, to summon the God of Destruction? Or are they thinking of avenging Sarah, who was their spirit guide? Either way, Letty, and Wynn-kun. I need your help.”
“Whatever it is, if there’s an ‘apostate’ involved, I’d better get over there.” Leticia finished her breakfast, got up and went to the window where she could see the ocean.
The Royal Palace building was the tallest building in the royal city of Lyon. From the port of Lyon, which she could see from the window, she looked west and saw a cliff headland. Leticia knew there was a small shrine at the tip of the headland, although it was very difficult to see from the point where she stood. That was the place where Sarah Ferrule died.
“I have summoned one of the stewards who was present when the barriers of the old fortress were breached. He may be able to give us some clues. So you’ll probably want to talk to him before you go to Sarah’s sanctuary.” When Raul said that, Leticia nodded.
“Shall we leave then, Princess Cornelia?”
As Wynn and Leticia left the breakfast table first, Raul urged Cornelia, who remained there, to go with him. The destination was the main conference room. There, a meeting would be held to discuss the current situation in the Empire and decide on the size of the reinforcements to be sent. On the way to the conference room, Raul suddenly stopped. He looked out the corridor window.
When Cornelia looked out the window, she saw Wynn and Leticia walking together.
“As I thought when we were reunited at the Empire, she really missed him a lot.”
The hallway was high, though they was on the second floor, so they couldn’t hear their conversation, but he could see what they were doing. Wynn’s face was full of motivation and sense of duty as he received the direct order from Raul, the revered Sword Saint, to help. Leticia was walking beside him. Her expression showed that she didn’t care how much time passed.
I don’t think she is the same person as when we first met.
When he met Leticia, she was indifferent to others and had a somewhat dangerous air about her. When they started traveling together and trusting each other as friends, they would sometimes smile at each other, but there was still something about Leticia that gave her an air of being in a hurry. He no longer felt that feeling coming from Leticia. When she was with Wynn, she showed a calmness that Raul had never seen in their long journey together.
As long as he is around, Letty would be fine.
At the tender age of ten, Leticia had to carry the fate of the world. Even though she was a person of incomparable power, she must have been hurt until her body and soul were torn to shreds. He was worried about Leticia, but she had a place to rest her wounded wings after her long journey. Raul was glad to know that. Tiara, who had met Wynn before Raul, must have been equally relieved. Her other traveling companion, Liara, would also be relieved to see Wynn and know how Leticia was doing.
Raul looked away from them as they walked away, then looked down, sketching a small smile. Then he looked at Cornelia’s face, who was watching them out of the corner of her eye. She was doing a good job of hiding her expression, but for a brief moment, he could see a tiny hint of envy and jealousy on the young princess’s face.
If I remember correctly, the women of the imperial family have the right to choose their partners, don’t they?
The first ruler of the Lemmrousell Empire was a female emperor. She decreed that the women of the royal family could choose their own partners, so that her descendants would not have to suffer the loss of their loved ones. According to this tradition, women in the royal family were not to marry for political gain, but to marry someone they considered a suitable partner. However, in doing so, they were now responsible for determining whether the other person would be a suitable parent for the royal family. This was because, if the son had the right to succeed the throne, he could become emperor. However, the fact that women in the imperial family were not used as instruments in political marriages prevented the imperial family from becoming too powerful in terms of foreign relations and kept it in a position of supremacy for almost three hundred years. A woman of the royal family had the important mission of fostering an excellent husband and leaving an offspring for the next generation. The man in the eyes of Cornelia, the imperial princess, was…
Well, from my point of view, it’s pretty hard to get in between those two. I’m sure Alfred knows that.
As a companion in her travels, Raul expected nothing more than for Leticia to be happy. However, at the thought of Cornelia’s muted feelings, he let out a big sigh.
The conference room where the Imperial Council was to be held was decorated like any other room in the palace with many decorative cloths, the flag of the Kingdom of Lyon and flags with the family crest of the nobles sewn on them. In the center of the room was a huge table with chairs around it. At the far end of the room, on a raised platform, was a throne decorated with gold and jewels. The floor of the room was covered with a red carpet, and the walls were decorated with ornaments and seasonal flowers. Despite this, the room felt somewhat cold and strangely oppressive, perhaps because it was a place where people were discussing how to kill other people effectively. Cornelia, who entered the conference room following Raul, looked at the faces of the military men of the Kingdom of Lyon gathered there and thought the same thing.
I am here as a representative of the Empire. I can’t let the atmosphere in the room overwhelm me before the meeting begins. After relaxing her stomach, she slowly made her way to the center of the room. Then, in accordance with etiquette, she bowed to the fourth king of Lyon, Dalis Orto Lyon, who was seated on the throne in front of her.
“Thank you for inviting me to your council. Your Majesty Dalis.”
“Once again, you have come from far away to our country, Princess Cornelia. I hope you enjoyed the party.”
“That’s good to know.”
King Dalis’ voice was full of dignity, unlike when he had come to greet her at the banquet. His eyes were sharp and intense, and even through his clothes, Cornelia could see that he had a robust body, which made her feel as if she were facing a lion. Although the fame of his son Prince Raul seemed to have completely eclipsed him, King Dalis was the most famous of all the kings of the neighboring countries, a man of great military prowess and honor. When he ascended the throne as a young man, he immediately tried to improve relations with the neighboring Lemmrousell Empire, and absolutely crushed the kingdom of Carthiate, which had planned to invade him by taking advantage of the change of ruler, and won a great victory by raiding two cities and three forts. He then continued to train his army and turned his attention to developing his ports and navy, and set out to defeat the pirates and stabilize the sea routes. As a result of these efforts, the number of pirates decreased drastically and the profits from maritime trade increased, bringing enormous wealth to the country.
The name of the hero who defeated the Demon King together with the Brave, the Sword Saint Raul Orto Lyon, now surpassed the fame of King Dalis, but, in the first place, it was King Dalis himself who saw Raul’s talent with the sword and invited the Saint Sword of a previous generation to the Kingdom of Lyon as his teacher. King Dalis himself was able to discover his son’s talent thanks to his own vision.
Cornelia could not help a feeling of disappointment towards her own father, as she saw a huge difference in rank as a sovereign between King Dalis, very active in political affairs, military affairs and in training his successor, and Alexei, the Emperor of the Lemmrousell Empire, who had not yet made any moves even though the civil war dividing the country was about to begin.
“This is about your country. You must ask yourself what is going on in it today.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“However, you came through the Majil Mountains, where it is said that even knights of long standing hesitate to set foot, with only a few squires. Princess, you are quite bold despite your gentle appearance.”
“As Your Majesty has said, our country is currently in a difficult situation. Under such circumstances, I cannot afford to devote more of the forces to be my escort. However, on the way I was accompanied by Brave Leticia, an ally of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Raul, the Sword Saint, who is a renowned hero in the world. There is nothing more reassuring than that.” When she said that, Cornelia smiled.
“I see. Being protected by the Brave-dono, has to be more reassuring than being protected by an army of ten thousand. However, as I’m sure you’ve heard from Raul, my country has enlisted the help of Leticia-dono. Her mentor and follower, Wynn-dono, will also be on the hunt for power along with her.”
“Yes, sir. It would be a great honor if my squire could serve you and your country. Please use my squire as you see fit.”
“I see. He is someone who is even called the Master of the Brave. If anything were to happen to him while he is working hard for our country, that would incur the wrath of Leticia-dono. Therefore, as far as his personal safety is concerned, I will see to it myself that it is fully guaranteed.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
As he motioned for Cornelia to sit down, King Dalis nodded to his assembled vassals. It was the beginning of the Imperial Conference.
A knight standing behind the king quickly unfolded a large map on the table. It was a map of the Empire. It was not as detailed as the maps used by the Imperial Knights, but it showed the main terrains and cities.
“We have received word that Prince Neumann’s army, which has left Simurgh, has set course for the Loom River and is headed for Erz, the capital of Elstead County.” The first to stand up and speak was an imperial official working in the imperial embassy. He placed colored pieces of wood on the map as if they were armies. In this way, the current position of the army became visually clear.
“Hmm, the difference in military strength is obvious. After all, Neumann, who has the imperial capital and the emperor’s custody under control, has the advantage. Moreover, he can gather troops as a royal decree from the emperor…”
“There has been no imperial decree from the Emperor at this time.” Replied the civilian imperial officer who had met Raul’s gaze.
“I am sorry to say this, but it is strange that the emperor has not yet issued an imperial decree at this time when civil war is about to begin. If I were in his position, I would not let something like this happen. I wonder if His Majesty Alexei is suffering from some kind of illness.”
“No, he isn’t. At least up until the time I left the Simurgh Imperial City, His Majesty was in good health. I am sure he will be grief-stricken by the current situation. However, the fact that he has not issued any edicts suggests that he intends to observe the situation for now and then intervene himself when the time comes.”
Cornelia had no choice but to respond to King Dalis’ words, although she herself thought it was a pitiful excuse without much meaning.
In fact, Alexei was probably not interested in what happened outside the palace. The imperial palace may have been invaded by Neumann’s sympathizers, but Alexei would not be particularly concerned. At first, the emperor took no interest in political or military affairs. Even morning meetings to discuss important policies were often left to the crown prince, Alfred. Surprisingly, he might even be glad that Neumann’s sympathizers had taken control of the imperial palace, freeing him from the troublesome business of being emperor. And he must have been immersed in his hobby, painting in his room deep in the palace.
But if Alexei had been engulfed by the Neumann faction and had issued an edict to eliminate Alfred as a traitor, the entire army of the Imperial Knights would have been enemies.
Would they prefer to choose Crown Prince Alfred or the second Prince Neumann?
Nobles who were currently opportunists, as well as neutrals, could not refuse to go to war if they were faced with an imperial decree.
Ironically, for the moment, Alexei’s indifference to foreign affairs was a blessing for Alfred’s faction. Had Alexei been more interested in political affairs, he would not have allowed the Cliffdorf faction to rise to power.
“From the front, Neumann’s army, with the Central Knights as the main force, advances along the Loom River. And from the eastern side of the Elstead territory, the army of the neighboring Cliffdorf territory is deployed, and the Crown Prince’s army is half surrounded. In addition, we have information that the Kingdom of Petersia is also moving its forces closer to the border near Cliffdorf territory.”
“The war situation is extremely unfavorable.”
“We will take the main force to the forest stretching along the Loom River. Here, it is difficult for the army to spread horizontally. No matter how many forces they have, it is as if there are no soldiers who cannot stay on the battlefield. If we can pull off a surprise attack… we can force them to bleed out, while we stall them until our reinforcements arrive.”
Raul and the other generals moved their pieces as they explained.
In the middle of their explanation, new information came into the conference room. The information said that the Knights of the Empire’s Southern Sector, seeing the movements of the Kingdom of Petersia’s army, had positioned themselves on the border between the Cliffdorf territory and the Kingdom of Petersia.
“So the leader of the Knights of the Empire’s Southern Sector is General Redwick? I heard that he was Count Elstead’s brother-in-arms in the Continental Anti-Demon Alliance. I see… if that’s the case, Marquis Cliffdorf won’t be able to move his army so freely.”
Each of the directional knight orders stationed at the eastern, western, northern and southern borders of the empire had the authority to freely come and go within the nobles’ territories without the lord’s permission in case of emergency. The most obvious reason for the movement of the Southern Knights was to control the growing activity of the Kingdom of Petersia near the border, but it was clear that the real purpose was to provide support for the Elstead territory. However, even Marquis Cliffdorf would not be able to prevent them from settling in his territory due to the actions of a foreign enemy, the Kingdom of Petersia. For it was a fact that the Kingdom of Petersia was on the move.
Marquis Cliffdorf, whose territory was in the hands of the southern knights, could not recruit troops freely.
Alfred was now in a situation where he only had to focus on Neumann’s forces coming from the front.
From this situation, the generals of the Kingdom of Lyon began to discuss the next step, such as the scale of reinforcements. From time to time, they asked the imperial civilian officials for their opinion on the terrain and the specific course of action, and made corrections.
Cornelia continued to watch the scene in silence. Her brother, Alfred, had probably sent her to Lyon as an emissary to sign the military alliance in order to keep her, her squire Wynn and Leticia out of this mess. She was to return with reinforcements from the Kingdom of Lyon, but she was still a student in knight school and could not command an army, let alone an army from another country. And in fact, even at this meeting, the officials were in charge of administrative matters, and Cornelia was not asked to give her opinion.
This is my current position…
Cornelia, who was under 18, did not usually participate in public affairs. And yet there must have been some intention behind Alfred’s sending her to Lyon like this. He expected her to achieve something. To live up to her brother’s expectations, Cornelia looked desperately at the map spread out on the table.
Corrigenda: In chapter 69 there is a dialogue of the Sword Saint of a previous generation that indicates that King Dalis was also a Sword Saint in the past. This was an error, as the person speaking was talking about herself and not him.
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