Chapter 207: Catch ‘em by Surprise (3)

It was the Lester Kingdom’s victory. 

Siegfried had defeated the Empire and Milton defeated Siegfried. By this point, it wasn’t wrong to say that Milton was Siegfried’s mortal enemy. But, even after winning the battle at Meichi Castle, Milton found it difficult to chase after Siegfried. 

There were three reasons for this. First, this war wasn’t the Lester Kingdom’s war. There were zero benefits for either Milton or the Lester Kingdom to completely drive out the Republicans from the Valence Kingdom. Second, whether they were mortal enemies or not, Milton was reluctant to continue fighting against Siegfried. And finally, the third reason, something that neither Milton nor Siegfried, a master of war, could have guessed…

Something happened in the Northeastern border area of the Lester Kingdom. 

***

“Retreat! Retreat!”

“Take care of the Duke!” 

The Northern Knights withdrew with pale faces. They were trying to evacuate to the rear of the army with the bloody mess that was Duke Palan. Surprisingly, Duke Palan, known as the Lester Kingdom’s guardian deity, had suffered a loss. 

One of the Northern Knights gritted his teeth as he glared at the man who had made Duke Palan like this.

“That monster…”

They hadn’t fallen into a trap or been tricked. Duke Palan had confidently gone to fight in a one-to-one battle and the result was that he had been beaten into a pulp. If the Northern Knights had intervened just a bit later, then without a doubt, he would most likely have died.

The man who defeated Duke Palan pointed his sword straight ahead of him and spoke calmly.

“Advance.”

Waaaaahh!!”

With a shout that shook the heaven and earth, the soldiers of the Republican Army advanced forward. Their high morale was on a similar level to when Siegfried boosted the morale of his soldiers.

Someone with the strength and power to defeat Duke Palan and the same level of charisma as Siegfried; there was only one person in the Republic who had both of these: Barron of the Kobrook Republic. 

He was one of the Masters of the Republic and for a long time, he was considered as a guardian of the Kobrook Republic.

There was only one phrase to describe him: the strongest in the Republic. He was the only one who perfectly matched that epitaph. 

***

“General Barron took the lead?”

The person most surprised to hear that Barron had stepped forward was Siegfried.

“Yes, sir. And it’s said that he’s utterly destroyed Duke Palan of the Lester Kingdom.”

Seeing the messenger’s face flushed with excitement, Siegfried let out a deep sigh of relief.

‘Is this when the saying, ‘colossal good luck,’ should be used? With this, Milton Forrest won’t be able to move about easily.’

Kobrook Republic’s Barron. Siegfried never thought that he would make a move.

Barron was someone who didn’t involve himself with international matters despite having a rank right beneath the Fuhrer. Since he rarely followed the command of the Kobrook Republic’s Fuhrer, it was only natural that he wouldn’t follow Siegfried’s orders. 

Siegfried had called for him multiple times, but Barron had consistently ignored him. Simply put, it was mutiny. If you looked at it a bit more leniently, then he was slow to follow orders.

But even so, Siegfried was reluctant to deal with him rashly. Barron wasn’t just an ordinary Master; he was someone known as the strongest person in the Republic.

At the time when Milton intervened in the war, there were three Masters in the Strabus Kingdom...

But 30 years ago, there had been five Masters in the kingdom. That time was considered as the military heyday of the Strabus Kingdom when they had five Masters who rampaged through the Republic. The Republicans believed that they were on the losing end and began to feel a sense of crisis. Then, like a meteoric rise, someone appeared in the Kobrook Republic; it was Barron. He played a very active part in the war and crossed swords with all five Masters of the Strabus Kingdom. As a result, four of the five Masters died under his hand. 

The only surviving Master was Duke Derek Brans, but he, too, just barely survived his defeat. After that, Ryan Catel and McCarthy O'Brian had become Masters and the Strabus Kingdom had three Masters, but they still didn’t have the power to run amok in the Republic. 

And so, Barron became the hero who saved the Republic and was given the position of general directly under the Fuhrer. But after that, he secluded himself and kept away from all activities.

Even if Siegfried was the new rising star of the Republic… No, because he was the rising star, he couldn’t become hostile towards Barron. Barron may not have created a faction for himself, but that didn’t mean there weren’t a lot of young officers who followed him in the Republic. If Siegfried was to fight against Barron, then it would inevitably lead to a divide in the military. That was why Siegfried had left him alone even when Barron ignored him and looked down upon him.

But now, Barron had done the unthinkable; he had helped Siegfried. The reason for it was still unknown, but one thing was sure - it would be difficult for the Lester Kingdom to continue fighting. 

As if to announce that very fact, a messenger came running in. 

“Commander-in-Chief, an envoy has come from the Lester Kingdom.”

“Is it an offer of truce?”

“Yes, sir. It is.”

“Hooooo…”

Siegfried let out a deep sigh. 

In the future, this war with the Valence Kingdom would be known as the Second Ideological Conflict. Historians will say that ending this war so ambiguously would be the greatest mistake ever made. Because of this ending, so much more blood was shed in the Third Ideological Conflict. 

***

Milton and Siegfried met once again. But this time, they weren’t meeting to swing their swords against each other and to spill blood. They had exchanged a sword for a pen and were meeting in a neutral area to sign an armistice. 

“So we meet again, Siegfried.”

“We are indeed. How unfortunate.”

At first glance, their greeting seemed ordinary, but it was full of sharp thorns. They had tried their best to kill each other on the battlefield, but in the end, they were regretfully meeting each other again. Alive. Jerome, from behind Milton, and Jake, from behind Siegfried, glared at each other.

But there was someone who couldn’t stand the tense atmosphere and was fidgeting.

“Ahem… ahem…”

It was King Nicholas Theron Valence. Even if he was an incompetent king of a country that was so ruined there was no chance of recovery, he was still a king of a nation. He was here because they couldn’t leave him out of a truce agreement on a war that was taking place in the Valence Kingdom.

“Ahem… hem…”

But all he could do was a dry cough, signaling: I’m here, so please pay attention to me.

Milton finally began speaking after staring at Siegfried wordlessly for a while.

“Let’s sit down first.”

“Fine.”

Both sides sat at the table that had been prepared in advance.

Siegfried’s side shoved a paper onto the table.

“It’s a document detailing the Republic’s requirements for a truce. Look it over.”

Milton raised an eyebrow after looking over the document.

  1. The territories currently occupied by the Republicans will be recognized as the Republic’s.
  2. The movements of the people willing to defect to the Republic will not be stopped.
  3. 5 million gold will be paid to the Republic as reparations.

There were many more conditions than just these three, but they were all unreasonable demands. If someone was to see this document, they might think that the Republic had won the war.

‘Do they think we’re pushovers?’

Milton showed the document to King Nicholas. Once he saw it, King Nicholas trembled before jumping up out of his seat and shouting at the Republicans.

“There’s no way I’ll accept these conditions!”

King Nicholas may have been the one shouting, but Siegfried never looked at him. His gaze was only focused on Milton. And Milton took no notice of King Nicholas as well and only thought about the Lester Kingdom’s position.

‘As long as we’re able to take in the western part of the Valene Kingdom, it’s all fine…’

That was all the Lester Kingdom wanted at this time. But the problem was, he didn’t want to let Siegfried do whatever he wanted.

This truce agreement was about dividing up the Valence Kingdom and each country taking their share. But, if they accepted Siegfried’s conditions, then the Republic would be taking much more than their fair share. 

‘I can’t tolerate that.’

Milton looked Siegfried straight in the eye.

“We cannot accept these conditions.”

“That’s right.”

King Nicholas added his bit from the side, but he was inconsequential.

Siegfried leaned back against his chair and spoke with a relaxed expression. 

“Then what’re your conditions?”

“Return all the territory you occupied and withdraw. Naturally, we won’t agree to the people moving. And of course, we won’t be paying war reparations either.”

Milton’s conditions were the total opposite of Siegfried’s conditions.

“You think we’ll agree to that?”

“You won’t agree to them? Then, you wanna fight again?”

“You sure? Even though General Barron would just raze your country’s mainland?”

Milton frowned at those words. He had heard that Duke Palan had been severely injured and suffered defeat. Because of that, it had become difficult for him to continue fighting in this war. Disregarding whether they’d win if they fought against Siegfried, if the two of them went to war again, it wouldn’t end quickly. And if that happened, then he’d have to be away from his home for a long time…

Now that Barron of the Republic had started making his move, it was too difficult for them to start fighting. But those were Milton’s inner thoughts and couldn't be revealed at the table while they were still negotiating.

“I don’t care, so why don’t we try?”

“Hoo… Such confidence.”

“Maybe the confidence comes from having beaten you halfway to a pulp?”

Instead of Siegfried, it was Jake who frowned at Milton’s provocation. He was exuding a murderous intent like he wanted to cut Milton in half for disrespecting his lord like that. Seeing that, Jerome took half a step forward as he spoke to Jake.

“Don’t try to play any of your tricks.”

“You wanna test whether I’m playing a trick or not?”

Jake spoke as if it didn’t matter whether he cut down either Jerome or Milton. That murderous intent seemed genuine, but Milton knew...

‘He’s just bluffing.’

The only reason the four of them had agreed to meet without any guards was that all four of them had the strength to defend themselves. If you ignored King Nicholas, all four people at this meeting were Masters. But even if they were all Masters, currently, Siegfried had sustained an injury. He might have polished himself up and tried to hide the fact that he was injured, but there was no way a wound caused by Milton and Jerome would have healed already. 

‘He may have healed a bit, but I doubt he’s willing to gamble with his life.’

Milton was only able to stay so composed because he was sure of that. He continued to stare straight into Siegfried’s eyes without showing an ounce of agitation.

“......”

“......”

The two continued to look at each other without words. The atmosphere got heavier as they looked at each other as if the first person to look away would lose.

‘He’s definitely not someone to underestimate.’

In the end, Siegfried was the one to let out a sigh and speak first.

“Don’t you think it’d be a waste to continue to say unreasonable demands to each other?”

“If you knew that, then why’d you start off with preposterous demands?”

“I had to give it a shot, didn’t I?”

Siegfried reached into his breast pocket and withdrew another document.

The conditions written on the new document were much more reasonable.

  1. The northern and northeastern regions of the Valence Kingdom will be acknowledged as the Republic’s territory.
  2. The family of those who has already moved to the Republic will be given the freedom to move.

The condition to pay war reparation had disappeared and many of the other conditions had become more reasonable.

‘The north and northeastern regions would have been difficult for us to manage anyway. And we kept the families of the ones who already defected to the Republic would just turn us into villains.’

These conditions weren’t impossible to agree to. 

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