Chapter 182: Eliza’s Madness (2)

[They’re too different to be related.]

[Just give up. People need to know their own limits. You will never be able to beat her. You have to accept that.]

[It’s already finished, so just give up. The successor has already been chosen and it can’t be changed.]

Just remembering her dark past caused Eliza’s eyes to fill with hatred.

“Huh, so that’s how you want to play, you f**king rotten hag…”

With a dead tone of voice, Eliza turned towards the Ghost members.

“Hey, shut up and fuck her.”

“I said we refuse…”

She interrupted Ghost Leader 7 before he could finish talking.

“It’s an order. Who gave me the authority to command you guys?”

At those words, not just their leader, but the other members of the Ghost Group 7 were upset. Eliza was the one currently in command of the battle. As long as Siegfried had given her the command, they had to obey whatever orders she gave, at least, officially they did.

Seeing them continue to hesitate, Eliza spoke to them.

“You can’t hear me?! I’m telling you to obey my order, you freaking eunuchs!”

Seeing her yelling at them like a maniac, several Ghosts looked at their leader. In the end, they had no choice but to obey the order of the commander. Ghost Leader 7 bit his lower lip hard.

“This… will definitely be reported to my lord.”

“So? I still want you to fuck that bitch right now. Destroy her completely so that bitch doesn’t have a shred of pride left, fuck her till she’s dirty and devastated.”

Some of the Ghosts began moving at her command. They were reluctant; they never wanted to do something like this to an enemy who was worthy of their respect and honor. But orders were orders and to them, an order was absolute.

Then…

“Ha… you’re joking. How ridiculous.”

Marquis Hailey Maroon scoffed at Eliza before using the last of her strength to move.

She no longer had the power to lift her sword, but she was still able to roll and move around a bit. Her goal was…

“Stop her!”

Eliza cried out urgently, but it was too late. Marquis Hailey Maroon had rolled herself over into the trap that her enemies had dug.

Thump thump thump!

As she fell into the pit, the spear waiting at the bottom of the pit pierced her body.

“Gah… that bitch!”

Eliza became hysterical. It seemed as if cursing out loud wasn’t enough to vent her anger because she turned around and slapped Ghost Leader 7 across his face.

Slap!

“You f**king bastard! You knew, didn't you? And you couldn’t have stopped her?”

“……”

He looked away from her and kept silent, but that silence was his agreement. Their Commander had given an order that was hard to swallow for them but they couldn’t refuse to carry out the Commander’s order. In the midst of such conflicting thoughts, the enemy had picked the only option that would allow them to keep their honor. They knew what she was doing, but they hadn’t had any intentions of stopping her.

“You f**kers. You’re dogs that don’t even recognize their own master.”

Slap!

Eliza swung her hand again and again at the Ghost Leader 7’s face. After slapping him until she ran out of breath, she finally got herself under control.

“Fine. If that’s how you want to play it, then I have something too.”

She ordered them to pick up Marquis Maroon’s body. Then, she patted the dead Marquis Maroon’s cheek.

“Did you think you could escape just by dying? Let me tell you why a witch is a witch.”

Then, she turned towards the other Ghost members.

“What’re you doing? Aren’t you going to finish the battle? Deal with the stragglers!”

At her command, the Ghosts began to deal with the Knights of the Silver Wolf and the rest of their troops that had been continuously resisting. Although it was a dark, ugly, and miserable victory, Marquis Hailey Maroon’s army was destroyed.

***

Marquis Matthias Burkel died in battle and Marquis Haily Maroon was missing, presumed to be dead. The two Masters who had been in charge of the outer flanks had died and the troops that they led were also destroyed. This had a huge impact on the Empire.

Recently, after the Republic had caused the collapse of the Strabus Kingdom, the Empire had realized that the Republic was an enemy they had to be wary of. But even so, they had always believed that as long as the Empire wanted to, they could easily defeat the Republic. Their reasoning for that belief was simple - they were the Empire. They were so confident in their strength that it went beyond pride and became their conviction.  Just like an adult didn’t worry about losing against a child, the Empire had believed they would certainly win against the Republic.

However, the war had just started and the Empire had lost two Masters and 50,000 elite soldiers. Even if the Empire had eight Masters, that didn’t mean Masters weren’t valuable. Particularly, Marquis Hailey Maroon and Marquis Matthias Burkel were irreplaceable because they had risen to the level of a Master at such a young age. In other words, because they were so remarkable now, the people were watching them with anticipation to see what they would be like in the future. It was a painful mistake to have lost two such people.

“I have nothing to say to His Imperial Majesty when we return.”

Duke Sebastian spoke gravely as he crumpled the report in his hand.

In hindsight, he had made a big mistake.

Regardless of whether Marquis Maroon and Marquis Burkel had a good relationship or not, he should have kept them together in the main army and managed them. The enemy had defeated them one by one because he had decided to divide the army and try to pressure the enemy in multiple directions.

“It was all because of me. Damn it..”

Duke Sebastian muttered to himself even as he gave off an atmosphere of murderous intent. The people around him were silent. No one had the guts to open their mouths right now in front of this furious and awe-inspiring man exuding such bloodthirstiness. But as always, there was an exception.

“It wasn’t your fault, Duke Sebastian.”

It was Marquis Ryan Catel, the only Master who had remained with the main army. When Duke Sebastian looked at him, he continued to speak.

“In the first place, both of them underestimated Siegfried. It’s iffy whether we can defeat him even if we give it our all, but they were full of pride and overly self-confident so… this was a foretold result, sir.”

“This is the first time I’ve seen you speak up during a war meeting, Marquis Catel.”

“It couldn’t be helped, sir. It seems like everyone else is having difficulty just breathing right now.”

At those words, Duke Sebastian realized that he was exuding so much murderous intent.

‘I also lack training.’

He sighed and pulled back his ire. Only then did everyone around him let out a sigh of relief as if they could finally breathe again. 

Duke Sebastian looked at Marquis Catel.

“Were you already expecting the defeat of Marquis Maroon and Marquis Burkel?”

“Yes, sir. I didn’t think they would die, but then, our enemies are them.”

Marquis Catel glanced at everyone around him before continuing to speak.

“I believed there was no way they could win with their crooked and despicable mentality.”

He seemed to be saying, ‘the same goes for the rest of you’ with his eyes and many of the officers flinched at his gaze. They felt what he said had some truth to it.

Marquis Ryan Catel wasn’t originally from the Empire. He was a man who had been exiled to the Empire when the Strabus Kingdom had fallen. The Empire had only accepted him because he had reached the level of a Master, but that was it. In the end, he wasn’t from the Empire, so he was a bit discriminated against when compared to the other seven Masters.

When this war had started, Marquis Ryan Catel had repeatedly said that Siegfried, who led the Republic, wasn’t an opponent to underestimate. He said that Siegfried was a serious enemy who had been victorious against the military powerhouse that was the Strabus Kingdom even when the situation was unfavorable to him. And so, Catel insisted that the Empire pay attention when they go to war.

Marquis Catel’s arguments had made sense, but the problem was that it hurt the pride of the Imperialists. It didn’t matter that he was a Master, Marquis Catel was, after all, merely an outsider. He was also from the Strabus Kingdom and had suffered a tremendous defeat at the hands of the Republic. Although no one said it outright, everyone considered Marquis Catel’s warning to come from his fear after losing.

The Strabus Kingdom was once the second-largest military powerhouse on the continent, but so what? They were the Empire. It was very annoying for the people of the Empire to continue to talk about a situation in which the Empire was compared to the Strabus Kingdom which had already collapsed. Eventually, Marquis Catel stopped giving advice. He knew that he wasn’t an eloquent speaker and he was also annoyed by the response of the imperialists who continued to ignore him.

‘In the end, they won’t realize it until they lose at least once.’

Holding that thought, he had retreated and watched from the back. Now, he believed the imperialists would finally listen to him.

“But Marquis Catel, if the enemy defeated the left and the right at the same time, doesn't that mean that the enemy’s troops are scattered to either side?”

One of the officers asked.

“So?”

“We should take this chance and quickly advance forward and defeat them. If we let them drag things out, then their left and right flanks will join the main army and cause the battle to be even more challenging.”

“So you’re saying that since I lead the central army, I should quickly charge forward? Is that it?”

“I’m not trying to dump the responsibility on you, Marquis. It’s not that but… yes. I believe that’s what we should do right now.”

Although the officer speaking was of a lower position than Marquis Catel, he was twisting his words to basically tell him, ‘Go do your job.’

Marquis Catel looked around at everyone as he spoke.

“Does everyone else think that too? That I should take the 50,000 vanguard forces and attack the enemy right now?”

Feeling like he was somehow testing them, the other officers took a moment to think about it, but in the end, nodded their heads.

“I think that would be for the best.”

“It seems like the best time to attack the enemy would be when they’re missing most of their troops.”

At their words, Marquis Catel sighed and thought to himself.

‘This is the level of the Imperial officers?’

He could only feel despair. The Empire was strong, that was certainly true. It had the most Masters in the continent, had strong knights and elite soldiers, and had the territories and population capable of maintaining that force. But because it was such a strong Empire, it had also led to a weakness – the officers.

Powerful knights and soldiers could be built up through training. However, competent officers with common sense who could lead others in wars weren't made just from books. Of course, there were exceptions (monsters who went beyond logic), but usually, good officers were made by gaining a lot of experience on the battlefields.

However, the Imperial officers completely lacked such experience. As no one ever dared to fight against the Empire, the officers didn’t have the opportunity to gain experience and most of them had only gained knowledge from their books. From Duke Ryan Catel of the Strabus Kingdom, who had always been fighting in a war against the Republic, point of view, the voices of the greenhorns were just chirpings of a baby bird. Honestly, if this had been the Stabus Kingdom, the officers who were spouting such bullshit would have lost their heads.

“Let me ask you one thing.”

“Please, go ahead.”

“What are you basing your assumption that the enemy doesn’t have most of their troops with him?”

“Isn’t it obvious? If they didn’t send out most of their troops, then how could they have defeated two Masters of the Empire?”

“Tsk, so it’s really just your assumption.”

“Yes, that’s right…”

Watching the officer whose words trickled off, Marquis Catel spoke.  

“Did you say that it was Jake who defeated Marquis Burkel? He’s the newly appeared Master of the Republic. He’s probably one of that bastard Siegfried’s treasured trump cards.”

“Yes, I know that.”

“And Marquis Maroon’s opponent. Even the intelligence on it is lacking. There are few survivors, but it’s unclear how the enemy was fighting. But one thing is certain, Siegfried wasn’t there either.”

“So what about it?”

“Siegfried, that bastard, isn’t someone to leave his surroundings unprotected and defenseless. Even when he used a strategy that seemed outrageous, he was always a part of it. In other words, if he didn’t move, then that means that the main army still has enough troops.”

The officers flushed at Marquis Catel’s blunt words and responded angrily as if they couldn’t acknowledge what he had just said.

“Isn’t that your assumption, Marquis? How’s that different from ours?”

“It’s different. You were sweetly dreaming on the premise that you would most definitely win while I was basing it on my experience of fighting against the Republic. How could it be the same?”

The officers turned red as Marquis Catel blatantly pointed out their inexperience.

One of them spoke up provocatively.

“Marquis, you’re overestimating the enemy. Are you perhaps afraid of the Republic or Siegfried?

Not only was this provocative, but it was also an incendiary comment that could lead to a duel if the Marquis Catel took it as an insult. It seemed after saying it, the officer himself regretted it and the people around him seemed to be asking him, ‘what’re you doing?’ with their gaze as they looked at him worriedly.

However, Marquis Catel’s response was very unexpected.

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