Three days before Den and Flam received the military order...
Glont passed through a musty secret passage, entering a secret conference room inside the palace.
"Oh, hyung-nim! You're here. You're dressed normally today.” As soon as Glont entered the conference room, Bloody welcomed him.
Glont smiled at Bloody's welcome and patted him hard on the back. "You punk! No matter how carefree I am, I at least know the basic formalities."
Glont wasn’t dressed in his usual fancy clothes trimmed with pink lace; instead, he wore the black uniform of the adventurer's guild. Numerous medals pinned across his broad chest represented his achievements.
“Uh-huh, does a man who knows formalities usually dress like that?" Bloody playfully joked.
Glont tousled Bloody's hair in response. If someone who knew Bloody had seen that, they would have flipped out in surprise, but Bloody just remained still as if he were used to it.
"But I’m still visiting His Majesty. I can’t show up in casual clothes. Even if I’m no longer in the army, I’m a knight who swore my loyalty to the imperial family,” Glont said.
Bloody grumbled, rearranging his messed-up hair. "Hnng, I'm in my mid-thirties now, too! I'm not the 20-something-year-old who just got assigned under you, hyung-nim."
"Oh ho ho, is that right?"
"I’m serious! Do you know that you're the only one who treats me like this, other than my father and big brother?”
"Hohoho, that's an honor.” Glont smiled and sat in the seat assigned to him.
Orphina bowed her head lightly as she sat quietly. "It has been a long time."
"Oh! Long time no see. Orphina, I heard you came down from the demon territory. How have you been?”
When Glont asked about her well-being, Orphina smiled, her cheeks slightly flushed. "Yes, I have been fine.”
At that sight, Bloody put his legs on the table, put his hands behind his head, and whistled. "Whew~ Why are you so calm for once?"
At Bloody's provocation, Orphina stared coldly and said in a low voice, "Shut your mouth."
Seeing Orphina growling through clenched teeth, Bloody shrugged and burst into laughter. "Yeah, yeah."
At Bloody's provocative response, Orphina slammed the table and got up. Bloody also put his legs down and stood up.
“It seems you want to die...” Orphina's pupils narrowed vertically and emitted martial aura.
Bloody responded by preparing his own martial arts. "Try it if you can.”
Glont laughed cheerfully and clapped his hands upon seeing the chilly, martial aura-filled conference room. "Ahahahaha! It seems you two are still on good terms."
At Glont's words, Bloody and Orphina shouted simultaneously.
"Who's on good terms with that guy?!"
"Who is on good terms with that guy?!"
They stared fiercely at each other.
Glont smiled pleasantly as they shouted and glared at each other at the same time. "Look, you guys are getting along so well." Upon hearing his comment, Bloody and Orphina slowly withdrew their auras as they glared at each other.
"As expected, it's peaceful with General Glont here,” the Emperor remarked as he entered from the secret passage with the Crown Prince.
Glont got up from his seat and saluted. "Forgive this civil servant’s disloyalty for not having visited in so long, Your Imperial Majesty."
The Emperor smiled and waved off Glont's stiff salute. "Would anyone who knew what disloyalty was refuse my request to return to the imperial army?"
Glont grinned subtly at the Emperor's joke. "But don’t I always run over immediately when you call me like this?"
"That's not enough. I want you to protect my esteemed self, right by my side... How would you feel about being the head knight of the royal guard?"
The position of head of the royal guard was equivalent to a lieutenant general in terms of rank, but in terms of authority, it was superior to an ordinary general.
In order to protect the Emperor in times of crisis, even the three heads of state could be brought to heel.
Despite having been offered such a powerful position, Glont smiled with difficulty. "I’m sorry to say that this civil servant is currently content."
The current head of the royal guards was ready and willing to hand over the position if Glont accepted, but Glont had no interest in the powerful role and refused.
"Is that so..." The Emperor could only smile bitterly.
Glont's current position as the adventurer's guild director had also been granted for the sake of making sure he stayed, so the Emperor couldn’t push his offer too far.
"The Prime Minister is in a hurry to gather funds, so he will be absent. Let's start the meeting," the Emperor said.
Upon hearing the Emperor's words, Crown Prince Zantes rose from his seat and distributed informative materials. "Mr. Arcanta would normally be in charge of the meeting, but in his absence, I will do the briefing this time,” he said.
Zantes operated the table, pulling up a video. It depicted a battlefield flooded with countless demons. "This is from General William, who is currently in the demon territory. It was sent through the Crow tribe’s messenger falcon," he continued.
The message had been received by Mac, who had promptly handed it to Bloody, who had then thrown it over to Arcanta for analysis.
After seeing the video, Glont frowned, as did Bloody and Orphina.
"How strange. It's never been overrun to this extent before,” Orphina murmured.
Glont shook his head. "No, the demons have appeared in these numbers a few times throughout history."
"When were those times?" Zantes asked.
Glont stroked his chin and answered seriously, "The first time was when the Demon King descended, and within a decade of his appearance, there were three other occurrences. Other than those times, there was an incident seventy years ago, and again around ten years ago.”
"Ah! Ten years ago was when Warrant almost fell!?" Zantes suddenly realized something and shouted.
Ten years ago, when the Black Water Buffalo Knight division had just been formed, Glont and Bloody had led them to defend Warrant, becoming legends that were still talked about up until the present.
Afterward, due to the flood of demons, a rule had been established: The three generals would have to take turns entering the demon territory to protect the empire. At that time, Orphina hadn’t yet arrived in the empire, so she didn’t know exactly what had happened.
"That's weird, though. It wasn't this bad ten years ago,” Glont remarked.
Bloody said in affirmation, "There are almost more than twice as many. What caused the demons to run rampant back then?"
"It was because the bird enveloped in primal fire, one of the four great demons, decided to move its nest."
The demon commonly known as the Phoenix had decided to change its territory, and it had caused an incident in which the demons who lost their territories moved southward in a massive horde. However, the scene in the video was more serious than the one back then.
"What’s the cause of this flood?" Bloody asked.
Zantes searched the documents that William had sent. "Hmm. It says to watch video number five." He immediately used the magic of the table to pull up another video. Everyone watched the video and was left speechless.
"…What in the world?"
In the video, one of the four great demons, the turtle carrying a mountain, was moving south directly toward the empire.
"We will immediately declare a state of war and call all our troops to the demon territory," the Emperor commanded.
The others rose from their seats and saluted at the Emperor’s order.
"We will follow the imperial command!"
* * *
Upon receiving the military order, Flam, Dano, and I immediately returned to the Lotten branch and began packing our bags.
Civil servants from other branches, who had already heard the rumors, looked pitifully at us. Still, they were also nervous about the possibility of receiving the military order themselves.
"Are those people not going?" Flam asked. As he looked around, the civil servants who were watching us hurriedly pretended to look at their documents.
"They belong to branches far from the demon territory, so they won't be dragged out unless this continues for a while,” Dano replied.
I licked my lips at Dano's answer. What a shame. Pain is always best suffered together.
Since Lotten was located further south than the capital, they would be the ones dragged over if there were a war at the border.
"But isn't the headquarters also far from the demon territory?” I asked. I knew that in truth, few cities were located in safer places than the capital.
Dano sighed at my question. "The director of headquarters is leading the reserve forces himself, so it can’t be helped. After all, we're working directly under the director.”
This was why, as the saying went, those below would suffer when those above made a move. It seemed as though we were going to be dragged away whenever there was a war.
"Besides, there wouldn’t be any chaos even if the adventurer’s guild in the capital stopped operating, but that’s not the case for the provinces," Dano continued.
His response made sense. Since the army couldn’t be stationed everywhere in the empire, local security was often managed by adventurers and mercenaries. As such, there would be chaos in the provinces if the adventurer’s guild stopped operating.
"But what happened in the demon territory to warrant even civil servants like us receiving a military order?” I asked.
Dano shrugged at my question. "I don't know either. They said it was a military secret, so I didn't get any official notice about that. Maybe if we join the main army, we’ll find out what's going on."
"But what about our military gear? These bags don't seem to be nearly enough to be considered military gear," Flam asked.
Flam's question was reasonable. Except for a pistol and rapier each, most of the luggage we’d packed consisted of clothes and miscellaneous items for a business trip.
"Well, I'm thinking that maybe the people at headquarters will pack and bring our gear..." Dano replied, but even he didn't seem to think it was likely.
I put the packed luggage on my shoulders and said, "Well, if it doesn't work out, maybe we can buy supplies locally there."
In truth, I kept everything I could use as military supplies in my pocket space. It was a good thing I’d bought everything I needed at Granwell. Even so, I’d never thought I would be dragged along to the battlefield.
"Are you done getting ready?” Dane Walker stuck his head through the window and asked.
Dano and Flam also put their luggage on their shoulders. "We’re all done. All that’s left now is for us to depart."
"But we're done with the work at the ruins, and we're going to the demon territory now, so would it be okay for you to stay with us as an escort?” I asked.
Dane Walker gave us a kind smile. "That’s okay, because it's a basic rule to escort someone all the way until they get back. Besides, I was also given orders to go up to the demon territory."
Come to think of it, a platinum plate adventurer had to lead the adventurer's unit in wartime.
"Though I’ll probably serve as a military magician, and not as a commander of a unit," Dane continued.
"Uh, don’t all the platinum plate adventurers act as commanders?” Flam asked, clearly having thought the same way I had.
Dane Walker smiled and pointed to the other civil servants, who were working hard on their paperwork. “I’ll only act as a commander when all adventurers receive military orders and are called upon to serve. I’ll be leading a unit then, when those civil servants also get recruited as military officers."
“I see." Flam nodded.
Dane Walker explained further, "This time, most likely, the adventurer’s unit will be made up of people gathered from the headquarters and those near the demon territory. The Guild Director will lead the army himself, and the platinum plate adventurers will just act as his officers. It's been a while since all five of us got together." He smiled, as if he were looking forward to it.
After saying our goodbyes to the Lotten branch director, we boarded a carriage heading toward the nearest city with a train station.Previous Chapter Next Chapter