Book 8, Chapter 60

Investigation

“Hmm? Are you ready for an all-out battle against the pope already?” Richard asked Martin. The holy child was already at odds with the pope, so he could only get more divine gold through mutiny.

“Of course I’m not ready!” Martin complained awkwardly, “Some of the old folks are still on the fence. If we fight now, I’m not likely to win. But what else can I do?”

“Nothing,” Richard replied, “This is my problem, and I’ll handle Brahms. I’ve already dispatched troops.”

“You… Argh, whatever. Why are you asking me then?”

“Just wanted to inform you.” And find out how many others were involved. Richard cut off communications.

Standing in the middle of a dilapidated shrine, Martin looked at the fading light and shook his head in dismay. Brahms had pissed Richard off, and the only question now was how far the Archerons would go before stopping. He thought about it for a moment before activating a different communication array using his own divine aura as a signature. Looking at the six shrouded figures that answered, he said solemnly, “All soldiers on standby for battle. Wake the apostles.”

All the six figures quivered, one of them asking, “Which ones?”

“All three.”

“Your Excellency,” a hoarse voice rang out, “I must remind you that we aren’t prepared for battle yet.”

“But we need to be ready regardless. Things could go very bad very quickly.”

Seeing Martin’s determination, the six subordinates bowed in submission, the light from the array fading away. A graceful figure appeared behind him, a faint feminine silhouette with two pairs of celestial wings, “You’ll be wasting a lot of stored energy. Is that okay?”

Martin flashed a dazzling smile, his gaze seeming to penetrate through space and time to land in some distant place, “Sometimes, being too careful isn’t the best choice. One needs to seize their chances, no?”

“You always have my support,” the figure said softly.

……

The atmosphere in Dragonwing Castle was incredibly depressed, almost as much as the Marquess who owned it. Everyone of any import in the Brahms territory felt like it was winter, word already having spread that an army was heading towards them.

Loud crashes had resounded through Brahms’s study all day, antique desks, paintings, and other treasures being crushed under the enraged Marquess’s hands as the man read through a letter repeatedly. The Archerons were supposedly here to investigate the Crimson Hawks, but their intentions were just as clear as the farce before. The proud Marquess felt his face almost burning from the humiliation of an army entering his lands without permission or even warning.

……

At the same time, Richard’s mood was no better. He wanted nothing more to fly right to Brahms and flatten his castle, but his troops had a speed limit. They were still 300 kilometres from their target, a distance that the astral chrysalis could cover in a matter of hours, but the chrysalis couldn’t transport the entire army. The 50,000 soldiers he’d brought along would still take another day to march all the way.

Five Archeron regiments was completely different from most other private armies. Richard had led less than twice as many soldiers only a scant few months ago, crushing combined armies across all three empires and crushing any hopes of annexation. Even now, he had power comparable to multiple dukes at minimum.

While such a large army couldn’t take shortcuts or move quickly, Richard had no plans of being sneaky or quick. Even now, he was staring at a small troop of soldiers that were rushing towards him, a combined force from two viscounts and one earl that had been informed about the march only hours prior. Seeing the vast army where even footsoldiers had glowing armour, the men leading this detachment gasped.

The old earl was the first one to move forward, “Your Grace, might I ask why your troops will be marching through my lands?”

Richard nodded, “I lost something in Brahms’s land, and I’m taking my army to go look for it.”

The earl and two viscounts gasped, unable to believe what they had heard. Marquess Brahms was an important figure with close connections to the Church of Glory, giving him such status that even many duked wouldn’t dare offend him. Richard was clearly going in equipped for battle!

All three of these nobles were vassals of the Sacred Tree Empire; hearing Richard’s words, they could only chuckle bitterly. However, Richard just waved them away, prompting them to leave and have their armies retreat instantly.

……

The next day, Richard’s troops were at the borders of the Brahms territory. The place was marked by a small town that had a surprising number of soldiers gathered within, the prosperous settlement located right along a major trade route that brought in a lot of taxes every year.

A few kilometres before the town was a large checkpoint with a hundred soldiers, a mix of mostly footsoldiers and a few knights. Even seeing the army approaching them, they showed no intentions of letting them walking through. Richard remarked indifferently, “He’s trying to test my determination. Go show them.”

“Me?” Senma yawned lazily, stretching a little before moving forward, “You’re flattering them.”

A few hundred knights followed the Blood Paladin, inspiring fear in the soldiers at the checkpoint. The defenders were only lightly-armed swordsmen, but Senma’s troops were all heavy cavalry that could charge them down easily.

Even a few of the officers started to waver, but a ferocious man in the middle spoke loudly to reassure them, “Don’t be afraid, brothers, stand proud. We are citizens of the Sacred Tree, they wouldn’t dare attack us. So long as we stall them here, I will have my sister ensure the Marquess rewards everyone!”

The troop relaxed at these words, beginning to display the arrogance of powerful warriors once more. The knight even shouted at Senma and her troops, “Stop! This is the territory of Marquess Brahms! Nobody can enter without permission!”

The knight’s voice rang out with confidence, as though he wouldn’t relent even if the army charged, but Senma just yawned, “His Grace is here to deal with some issues, how dare you block the way? Are you bastards blind?”

The man immediately paled in rage, drawing his sword and hissing, “I don’t care who your grace is, you dog—”

*THWACK!* The butt of Senma’s spear smacked straight into his face, breaking his nose and sending most of his teeth scattering as he was thrown a dozen metres away.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: HH

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA