“Your Majesty, please give a word of encouragement to each of the guild members.”
“Uh, yes. What?”
It was ridiculous. The number of Overgeared members exceeded 900. This time, new artillerymen had joined, and the number went beyond 1,000 people. Did Grid have to give encouragement to all of them? How many hours of hard labor did he have to give in exchange?
“Isn’t this a waste of time?” Grid responded in a confused manner.
Yet Lauel added, “Please promise to make an item that suits their needs.”
“What? I don’t even know all the guild members, but now I have to promise to make items by looking at them?”
“That’s right. Your Majesty doesn’t know all the guild members.”
“...I-It was originally like that.” Grid noticed what Lauel was pointing out and temporarily closed his mouth. However, Grid had an excuse. “Aren’t you the one who is supposed to manage the guild in the first place? That’s why I agreed with your opinion to increase the guild members.”
If Grid had to take care of the guild members, then he wouldn’t have increased the number of guild members. Now Lauel was blaming his indifference.
“I want to focus on increasing my level and making items. Now I have to care about the guild?”
Grid was busy. It was troublesome. There was no time. He wasn’t trying to make excuses.
“I’m different from you and don’t have your ability. I can’t do several things at once. I can only focus on one thing...” The irritated Grid suddenly closed his mouth. Work...? Remembering his colleagues and sharing greetings with them was considered work? Grid got goosebumps. He realized how much he had neglected the new Overgeared members.
‘I think of basic manners as work...’
On this subject, he hoped they would work hard for the Overgeared Guild and Overgeared Kingdom. He shouted that they were his colleagues. Yet, from Grid’s point of view, he used a pretext to give them cheap items. Grid’s face turned red. He felt ashamed of himself and sorry to the guild members.
Lauel’s eyes trembled, and he waved his hand. “You don’t have to take it seriously. Isn’t it a hard time right now? I just thought it was an opportunity to give the guild members a sense of bonding and belonging. I didn’t mean to condemn you...”
“No. I deserve to be condemned.”
In the past few years, there were countless people who knocked on the door of the Overgeared Guild. Some had approached the Overgeared Guild to satisfy their desires while others had terrible intentions. Lauel had been the one who spent time and money to examine and select the current Overgeared members. Grid had accepted the result of Lauel’s blood, sweat, tears, and runny nose as a natural right. He hadn’t respected Lauel’s efforts to win over their colleagues.
“A person can’t change easily.”
He was still selfish. Grid smiled wanly as he realized this.
Grid couldn’t raise his head, and Lauel didn’t know what to do. Lauel was troubled that he was placing pressure on the busiest person. Grid was quiet for a while before raising his head again. “Okay. Let’s exchange greetings with everyone.”
His eyes stopped shaking, and his gaze became clear. Until the foundation of the artillerymen group, he would remember all the faces of his dear colleagues who believed in him and followed him. Feeling determined, Grid was prepared to stay up all night for days. The roles of a king, a warrior, a blacksmith, a tailor, and most of all, a guild master...
It seemed he didn’t have enough body parts for them, but he had to perform them. Grid believed in his tenacity and enthusiasm.
At night, there were the direct descendant vampire and the assassins. During the day, there were the giant worms and top rankers of the Overgeared Guild. The imperial army was attacked by enemies in the desert. The pace of the march was very slow, and they couldn’t rest their minds, so they were very tired. The horses couldn’t easily adapt to the terrain, and the temperature of the desert was the worst. The cavalry lost their mobility and destructive power.
“The morale of the soldiers isn’t great. Last night, 359 people tried to desert.”
“The enemy’s condition won’t be much different from ours. Whenever the enemy raided, didn’t we respond well and kill many of them?”
“Yes. We might suffer the same damage, but we have the superiority of our troops. The psychological pressure on the Overgeared Kingdom is greater. There are 359 deserters in our army...? There must be 1,000 deserters in the Overgeared Kingdom.”
“It is an optimistic interpretation. They have strong walls and abundant food while we have thin barracks and not enough water to drink.”
The imperial army’s original goal was to cross the desert in two days. No matter how slow the pace of the march was, Reidan wasn’t far away, so they thought it was possible. However, reality was different. Due to the emergence of successive enemies, it took more than four days. No, it was likely they would die alone in the middle of the desert if they stuck to the march.
The lack of drinking water was a problem. Every oasis in the desert was contaminated with poison. The imperial army had to rely on the supply unit for drinking water for hundreds of thousands of troops, but how could a convoy cross the desert easily? Would the Overgeared Kingdom passively let the convoy reach them?
“...” An awkward silence flowed in the barracks of the imperial army’s leaders. There was a limit to their efforts to interpret the situation positively.
There was a long silence before a young nobleman spoke on behalf of everyone, “Why don’t we retreat first?”
“...” No one disputed it. Neither was there a rebuke.
The young noble’s courage increased, and he kept talking, “The hundreds of thousands of troops here are relatively inexperienced. They aren’t used to the terrain of the desert and can’t demonstrate their full abilities. The elite armies who have participated in all types of wars over the past decades will be different. The armies of the Seven Dukes would cross the desert like ducks meeting water.”
“Are you suggesting to hold the army outside the desert and wait for the arrival of the elite troops?”
Dozens of imperial forces were gathered at Reidan’s border. There had been 280,000, but now they were reduced to 230,000 in their mission to conquer the Overgeared Kingdom. They had planned to attract the enemy’s attention and tie up the Overgeared Kingdom’s feet while the air force infiltrated the Overgeared Kingdom and seized their base. This was the role that had been given to them.
Then they received news that Sky King Rigal and the air force had already been wiped out. Nevertheless, the reason for their advance to Reidan was to build up achievements. Consequently, they lost the troops due to greed. Now was the time to be cautious.
“Umm...” Commander Marquis Fulbas was deep in thought. He felt sick as he saw the eyes of the nobles who wanted to retreat. When had the empire become so weak? The empire, who had ruled over the continent’s losers for hundreds of years without a suitable adversary, was now reduced to a predator who didn’t know how to hunt.
“We don’t need cowards in the empire.”
It happened suddenly. The smell of alcohol filled their nose, and blood spread through the tent. The three heads that rolled to the ground belonged to the nobles who earlier insisted on retreating.
“S-Sir Diworth!” Marquis Fulbas rose to his feet. The nobles and knights who followed his actions were astonished. With an oil-covered head, loose-fitting clothing, and a wrinkled face that was completely red, the identity of the noble drinking from a bottle of wine was Drunk Duke Diworth. It was one of the empire’s Seven Dukes.
“W-We greet My Lord!” The nobles and knights bowed in unison. None of them condemned Diworth’s killings. Who would dare speak harsh words to an existence above them? Even Marquis Fulbas couldn’t speak.
Diworth laughed grimly as he checked the marquis’ distorted expression. “Are you angry that I killed those trash?”
“They are also nobles of the Saharan Empire. They have territories, people, and soldiers... You can’t escape a grudge even if you are Duke Diworth.”
“Let's see? I think people will happily accept the death of an incompetent lord. Isn’t that right?”
Diworth looked around at the several shocked nobles and knights who nodded hurriedly. Duke Diworth’s brutality was so great that even some of the Seven Dukes were reluctant to deal with it. Thus, the lower nobles didn’t even dare to face him. Diworth moved to the top seat alone. Then he took the baton from Marquis Fulbas and exclaimed, “They dared to rebel against the dukes of the empire. For those who dared to talk about retreat, killing them and turning them into dog food isn’t enough!”
A powerful magic power of alcohol spread through the barracks, and the nobles and knights quickly became drunk. Only five people... Only Marquis Fulbas and four earls were able to stand up and drive away the alcohol.
A smile of delight appeared on Diworth’s face.
“T-The enemy!” At this time, a knight rushed in and shouted. “The enemy commander, Chris, is coming!”
“One person? Only one?” Diworth’s eyes were clear because he had just released his drunkenness.
The knight became frightened after recognizing Diworth and hurriedly nodded. “Y-Yes! However, the sun will soon be going down!”
“What about the sun setting?”
What did the knight want to say? The moment Diworth cocked his head, some changes resolved his doubts. The ground was turbulent, and the tent rocked. The frightened soldiers screamed. There was an intense magic power that made one’s skin go numb. There was the smell of blood.
“Vampire!” Diworth quickly figured out what happened and rushed out of the barracks.
In the sky, a beautiful boy was laughing while revealing pointy molars. “Hahahaha! I’ll eat you!”
A bloody magic power covered the desert. It was a magic power with the nature of exploitation.
“Uwaaaack!” The soldiers of the empire, who hadn’t managed to spread out, screamed. Blood was drawn from their bodies and into the sky as they became mummies. The vampire earl, Noll—his stomach was bloated, and he laughed with joy, “Kuhahaha!”
He felt the extreme happiness of having a full dinner. However, it was a law that happiness couldn’t last forever.
“Oof!” Noll, who was happy with the rise in his magic power from the blood, suddenly stopped and grabbed his belly. His snow white face turned red. Then his trembling gaze captured one enemy to the side. It was the source where his magic power exploited something other than blood.
A man was standing there in a relaxed manner while holding a flask. It was the Drunk Duke Diworth. “Are you drunk after drinking alcohol? Are you weak when it comes to drinking because you’re a child?”
Diworth leaped forward. The speed at which he ran through the sky was so fast that the soldiers didn’t realize what was happening. The soldiers just thought a thunderbolt appeared in the sky. They saw the vampire crashing into the ground and thought the monster had been punished. Diworth’s rough hands were holding Noll’s thin neck.
Noll’s feet kicked in the air as he was caught by a transcendent’s grip. The boy was drunk and confused. Diworth hit him with the flask. A sharp piece of glass wounded Noll’s face, and the heavy fragrance in the air made Noll lose his spirit even more.
“I guess he didn’t lie when he said this is alcohol from the roots of the sacred tree.” Diworth pulled out a new bottle and gulped it all down at once. His face was flushed, just like when he first appeared.
“Let go of that hand!” Chris was attacking the enemy lines to draw attention away from Noll. He had been planning to retreat, but now he rushed deeper into enemy lines. Noticing what happened to Noll, Chris rushed to the center of the imperial army.
“1,000 Ton Sword!”
He dropped down from on top of the camel. The ultimate attack used by the best greatsword user fell on Diworth’s head. It seemed like it would smash Diworth’s head, but that didn’t happen. Diworth bent his upper body and easily avoided Chris’ attack. Then he kicked from a strange angle. Chris was hit in the face and fell off the camel. “Kuek...! Cough!”
He thought he was going to die after being hit. Chris was scared by Diworth’s fearsome power and regretted it. He thought he was crazy for running into the center of enemy lines to die. Then he soon changed his mind.
He saw Noll’s miserable figure hanging from Diworth’s hand and jumped up. Did he feel regretful? No. He could die as long as he saved Noll. Chris made a pledge and raised the power of his second class, Tyrant.
He belatedly saw the golden name ‘Drunk Duke Diworth’, but he still raised his greatsword without hesitation. Diworth laughed. “You managed to get up right away. You are a tough guy.”
Chris also laughed. “I wouldn’t have gotten up if I were hit by Grid. You are weak.”
“The Overgeared King.”
“...The Overgeared King.” Diworth’s face distorted in a terrible manner. He had no intention of sparing the crazy person in front of him who compared the great duke of the empire to the king of a small kingdom. Additionally...
“You dare to despise my master?”
The man in the shadow didn’t intend to keep Diworth alive. Hundreds of thousands of shadows scattered across the battlefield in an instant.
“I will fight for my new homeland and repay the grudge of my old homeland!”
The shadow spears and swords slashed through the entire battlefield.
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