Chapter 290

With his hands still clinging to Raven’s boots, Roberto’s body started to tilt sideways. Soon, blood began to burst from his severed neck.

“Extermination is the only solution for rats.”

“…..!”

The followers of Roberto could not even mutter a scream as they froze in place.

“Take them away.”

Viscount Moraine spoke in a heavy voice. Then, the soldiers stepped up and dragged them to the middle of the courtyard.

“L, let me live!”

“Hung!”

The nobles and the landlords cried and begged, but Viscount Moraine maintained a stern expression as they were taken away.

“As a commander entrusted with full authority by His Majesty the Emperor, I will order an immediate judgement. Even though you were bestowed, or recognized a title from the Emperor, you who dare plot and participate in the rebellion against the Emperor and the empire. All of you will be subjected to execution. However, according to His Majesty’s gracious will, any relatives of the traitors, including the cousins, will be imprisoned indefinitely, regardless of age or sex…”

“Ahhh! Arghh!”

As Viscount Moraine’s words continued, their expressions turned darker. Some of them even started to scream suddenly and struggled to escape from the soldiers’ grasps. But they could not possibly free themselves from the strong grip of the soldiers, and they ended up rolling on the floor while thrashing around.

“…So I hereby enact the sentence!”

Viscount Moraine motioned his hand downward as soon as he finished speaking.

Puck! Thuck!

The soldiers surrounding the nobles and the landlords stabbed them mercilessly with the spears.

“Keugh!”

“Agh!”

The traitors let out pained groans and screams. But soon, the courtyard fell into silence.

After confirming the deaths of Roberto and the other traitors, Raven shared a gaze with Viscount Moraine.

“Cut off the traitors’ heads and hang them up! Form an arrest unit and detain all of the remaining troops and the relatives of the traitors!”

“Sir!”

The troops saluted at Viscount Moraine’s orders, then began to move busily. Despite their historic triumph, their eyes and actions were still strictly disciplined, and so were Raven and Viscount Moraine, the highest-ranking officers.

“Tomorrow morning, we will have to send out scouts within a six-mile radius of the castle.”

“Yes. We must also repair the gate and the walls. We should also build a primary cordon. Let us select someone from the surviving enemy soldiers who knows the local geography very well.”

“Let us do that.”

The two men entered the palace while speaking in a low voice. For them, the fall of Slain Castle was not the end, but only the beginning.

***

The news of Slain Castle falling quickly spread around the nearby areas. Some marveled regarding the bold, powerful attack of the coalition, while others expressed their distaste, stating that they had no chivalry to launch a surprise attack on a rainy night.

But chivalry only applied in wars between territories or families. From the moment they raised the flag of rebellion against the Emperor, they were disqualified from their status as knights of the empire and the Emperor. As such, there weren’t many who denounced Duke Pendragon and the United Southern Army.

Above all, it was most crucial that Prince Ian and the imperial fleet had defended El Pasa. In the current situation, it was obvious that taking sides of the figures in Slain Castle would have been labelled off as commending the traitors. They could be seen as participants in treason as well.

Meanwhile, the pro-Arangis forces gathering in Berna increased daily. Hundreds of mercenaries blinded by greed signed contracts with them, and the residents and serfs living in the land of the local nobles and landlords were mobilized as soldiers.

In just a few days, 3,000 additional troops were added to their forces. Even if most of them were undisciplined and weak, the basis for winning a war was the headcount, regardless of what anyone said. As such, the pro-Arangis forces regained their confidence, possessing three to four times as much power as the United Southern Army.

But it was unknown when the imperial fleet in El Pasa would advance inland. When it happened, most of their superiority would be eliminated. That was why they started preparing to advance to Slain Castle.

As long as they could occupy Slain Castle and capture Duke Pendragon, they could immediately take the high ground. At the least, they could request to trade Duke Pendragon with Arigo Arangis and demand the withdrawal of imperial troops from the South.

In the end, before three days passed since the fall of Slain Castle, nearly 10,000 troops advanced towards it.

With the advance of the infantry and cavalry, along with the addition of a small number of griffon units, the areas that briefly sided with the United Southern Army were devastated. They were truly an unstoppable force

However, that was only how it appeared on the surface.

The day after Berna’s army began its march, the 11th regiment, the 12th regiment, including Prince Ian, and the soldiers of the Pendragon Duchy’s fleet, began their march inland. They numbered 3,000 elite soldiers.

The last remaining pro-Arangis forces of Berna were eventually surrounded on all sides. For them, it was much more favourable to deal with the United Southern Army, which was relatively fewer in number. Moreover, more than half of the United Southern Army was formed from the southerners, while more than 90 percent of Prince Ian’s army was composed of the finest troops of the imperial regiments.

They had no choice but to try and recapture Slain Castle as soon as possible, so they continued to advance with little sleep. Within three days of their journey, they travelled almost 60 miles and reached Slain Castle.

***

“How much longer?”

It was a dark night. In front of the entrance of a local village, the troops had set up camp. One of the commanders of the 11th and the 12th regiment answered Ian’s question inside a tent.

“If we march at our current speed, we should be able to reach Slain Castle in less than a day.”

“Hmm. That may be a little late… I guess it will all rest on whether he can hold out or not.”

The knights nodded in silence. Ian was referring to none other than Duke Pendragon.

When he first arrived in the South, the United Southern Army had advanced inland with as many as 4,000 troops. But the long journey had cost them a considerable number of casualties, and now, they would number less than three thousand.

In contrast, Berna’s forces, which would have surrounded Slain Castle by now, had more than 10,000 troops. It would be difficult to defend the castle. Even if Viscount Moraine, the undefeated general, was overseeing the situation and commanding the troops, if they were put under siege once a day, it was likely that most of the allied forces would be destroyed after three days.

“This is quite urgent…”

Ian’s expression grew a little darker.

Of course, he did not think Raven would be captured or killed. The strongest being on earth was by his side right now. According to rumors he heard in El Pasa, the White Dragon killed most of the sea griffons belonging to the Arangis Duchy when crossing the inland sea, then headed straight inland.

Alan Pendragon would never die with Soldrake by his side. However, Ian was convinced that Soldrake would not show herself during the war. It was an unwritten rule that dragons would not become involved in human quarrels. In particular, Soldrake did not use force unless anyone attacked the Pendragon Duchy.

She had only decimated the sea griffons in El Pasa because they attacked first. It was likely that the real reason Soldrake came to the South was that something threatened Duke Pendragon, perhaps a dragon or its equivalence.

[It probably will not happen, but if the Duke of Pendragon tries to summon the White Dragon, you must step up and dissuade him, your highness.]

Ian recalled a letter he received from Duke Lindegor before he left the imperial castle as the commander of the fleet. Duke Lindegor had sent the letter conversing with his family’s protector, the angel Seiel. He had heard the full story of why the White Dragon Soldrake was headed south.

[The moment the White Dragon intervenes in the war of men in the South, the justification disappears.]

Human affairs needed to be solved by human hands. If Soldrake became involved and helped Duke Pendragon by attacking humans, public sentiment in the South would turn completely.

Ian and Duke Lindegor were certain that Duke Pendragon was aware of this fact as well. But if he were ever placed at risk of life and death, Soldrake would surely step forward. So Ian had to get to Slain Castle as soon as possible to stop the worst case scenario and annihilate Berna’s great army.

If Soldrake revealed herself, he would not be able to achieve the most important goal. Even if they won the war, the influence of the imperial family in the South would diminish.

‘Even so, I can’t just keep pushing the troops…’

Ian inwardly clicked his tongue. He spoke while looking around at the commanders.

“We will rest for four hours, then resume our march. I know it will be a little exhausting, but I will trust you sirs.”

“We accept your orders!”

The knights answered vigorously. They had already guessed Ian’s troubles.

***

“I see Slain Castle!”

“Good. We will set up camp immediately. Early tomorrow morning, we are going to launch a siege.”

“But my lord, the troops are exhausted. We already have hundreds of fallen soldiers, and the mercenaries are complaining that…”

“Shut up! If we cannot take that castle in three days, we could all be dead!”

A knight carefully voiced his concerns. Alberto Berna shouted with a glare as he dismounted his horse, his whole body covered in dust and dirt.

“Y, yes my lord!”

The startled knight turned around in a hurry.

“Where is my tent!?”

“W, we are setting it up right now!”

Despite being exhausted after endlessly being tormented by Alberto’s sharpness, the soldiers rushed to erect his tent.

“Foolish bastards…! How could they complain about a mere march like this?”

Alberto blamed the soldiers who had walked dozens of miles on feet, while he had been riding a horse. He quickly entered his finished tent.

“Hey, bring in the booze and the women!”

“Yes!”

Soon, several frightened women, drinks, and food were served. The young girls appeared to be in their teenage years – all of them had been forcibly taken and kidnapped.

“What are you all doing? Serve me.”

“Y, yes.”

For several days already, the girls had to relieve Alberto and the landlords’ lust day and night. They hurriedly disrobed and edged closer to him.

“Heuheu! Everything will finally be over when I take that bloody castle and capture Duke Pendragon. I will make all four of you my concubines then. An independent lord of the South, Count Berna! What do you think? Isn’t that great? No, wait a minute. If the Arangis Duchy were to fall, then I could become a marquis or a duke. Hahahahaha!”

Alberto let loose a burst of laughter filled with madness.

Humans sometimes found it difficult to make proper judgments when cornered. That was exactly the case with Alberto. It was human instinct to turn a blind eye to the hopeless reality he was placed in. And so, he had immersed himself in a vain dream.

“From tomorrow, we will continue to attack until we catch Duke Pendragon. If we take care of him, everything will go back to the way it was. Everything will be fine…”

Nevertheless, it was true that humans faced with a life or death situation could exert greater power surpassing their limits. His original desire to live and maintain his wealth and power caused him to make a quicker, bolder decision than usual.

“Uehehe…”

With an insidious smile, Alberto slowly turned his head. A mixture of pent-up instincts and desires was reflected in his eyes as he scoured the girls’ topless bodies.

“I will kill and dominate. Whether it be Pendragon or… Keuhehehe!”

His dirty, greasy hands drew closer to the terrified girls.

***

“They already set up camp.”

“How tremendous…”

Raven and Viscount Moraine stood on the tallest spire of Slain Castle. Their eyes became dimmer as they looked down outside the castle. Until just a few days ago, they themselves had brightened the bottom of the hills with lights. It was rather hard to see because of the far distance, but given the areas lit with torchlight, the enemy possessed a huge army that was three or four times their own.

“His Highness Ian said it would take three more days at the earliest, so we have to hold on until then with our current forces.”

“I guess so. By the way, our Red Moon Valley friends were thinking about a night raid. What do you think?”

The elven warriors had contributed greatly in the attack against Slain. They had been remarkable. Despite fighting in the middle of the enemy’s ranks, they certainly proved their skills – none of them were killed, and only five or six were injured.

“That will prove difficult. There are southern mercenaries mixed in with the enemies. Unlike their mainland counterparts, the southern mercenaries are very familiar with war. I am sure that they have already taken an ambush into account. They must have made preparations.”

“Hmm…”

Raven accepted it. Indeed, it would not have been possible for the elven warriors to infiltrate the castle so easily if the heavy rain had been absent. It was close to impossible to replicate such a feat, especially on a bright, moonlit day like today.

“Three, three days…”

“…..”

The eyes of the two men sank further as they reflected the moonlight. They were faced with the reality that they had to defend against 10,000 troops with just over 2,000.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

DantheMan's Thoughts

Yes. Apparently, marquis is a thing in this noble. When I saw it, I was like “huh?” So I went back to the raws & checked to see if it actually exists, and turns out this is the second time the word marquis is used in the novel (out of the 3 times it’s used). The first is in chapter 42 (in raws, it said something like “the nobles, such as the counts & marquises”, but I just wrote “nobles” or something”. This is the second time it is mentioned, & the last time it is mentioned is in the side stories, which is wayyyy later. So no specific person actually mentioned in the noble is a marquis.