Chapter 236: Every Crossroads
The night began after the Battle of Sanyo was over, where the Great Holy Church and the Heraldic Order stabbed each other with their spears and their fangs to one and another. The end of the battle gradually permeated the surroundings like ripples.
In the office of the autonomous city of Philos, Philos Trait, the ruler of the city who always made the sound of a pen, was extremely busy today.
The autonomous city of Philos used less than a thousand soldiers in the Battle of Sanyo, resulting in the loss of nearly forty percent of the soldiers, this included the dead and the deserters. The remaining soldiers returned to the city under the command of Philos Trait, but few were unharmed. The number of casualties had not yet been determined.
Specific people were in charge of post-treatment such as medicinal potions and herbs for wounds, food for wartime compensation, securing of relief facilities, spending of incentives, among many others. All of them were the work of Philos’ secretaries, including Philos herself.
In addition, there were far more casualties than expected. The secretaries had their throats dry, thinking that if it remained like this, they would have to use the gold coins from the city safe for the extra costs.
Like the clerks, the ruler Philos Trait also worked hard to engrave the ink on the parchment. Although she felt pain all over her body because of the horse fall, she didn’t have time or the privilege to sit still.
Besides, a difficult problem was placed right in front of her eyes. That problem had to be solved no matter what. For that reason, she couldn’t even rest, let alone have that thought go past her head.
…That difficult problem was to choose between the Great Holy Church and the Heraldic Order.
The giant, the Great Holy Church, was defeated by the sword of the Heraldic Order and was forced to retreat.
That fact upset all the citizens of Philos, not to mention Philos Trait. The giant, who shouldn’t have been shaken, got pushed back, albeit by only one step and by a single person. Such a thing shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Yet, it has happened.
As a result, the autonomous city of Philos had to make one choice. Would it show obedience to the Heraldic Order, or would it give its loyalty to the Great Holy Church? That was a horrible choice to make for Philos.
The fact that the winner of the battle was the Heraldic Order meant that the Sanyo Plains was now incorporated into the territory of the Heraldic Order. The Sanyo Plains was the throat of the autonomous city of Philos. In other words, this city was synonymous with being stuck at the edge of the Heraldics.
If Philos took the hands of the Great Holy Church, the city would probably be attacked and destroyed by the Heraldic Order in the not too distant future. On the other hand, if Philos took the hands of the Heraldic Order, they would eventually be swallowed by the Great Holy Church together with the Heraldic Order. Either way, it was a dark future.
Anyway, in the not too distant future, Philos would receive a letter from the Heraldics. Whatever the contents, Philos Trait already understood their future intent. They would say to whether cooperate with them and open the city gates, or cooperate with the Great Holy Church and be prepared to turn the city into a coffin.
Philos Trait sighed as she moved her pen. No matter which one she chose, none of them would benefit the city in the end.
There was no doubt that the people at the assembly hall who were led by Roseau would refute. It was said that some citizens had already begun to incite. The speed of Philos’ actions, whether it was the Great Holy Church or the Heraldic Order, may cause her people to be involved in these chaotic circumstances.
To be honest, no one knew what was right or wrong. In the first place, it was impossible for the Heraldics to cause bleeding to the Great Holy Church. As long as the impossible happened, common sense was no longer valid. Judging right from wrong had been shattered.
Therefore, there was only one thing that was clear. No matter which way Philos chose, she would surely be resented and despised by her people again.
Philos Trait narrowed her eyes and bit her lips lightly. She understood that something scary was stroking her skin.
But it didn’t matter. It was a fact that she had behaved audaciously until now. She had tried to control the citizens with the power of a ruler. So, why did she have to feel that way?
The important thing was to retain the autonomy of the city no matter what path they had to follow. The system of the city gave high hopes to the citizens. It gave autonomy and freedom. Philos couldn’t give on that aspect no matter what happened.
Philos the city was once held by her brothers, sisters and her foster parents with their foolish hands. She swore at that time.
Rather than just being foolishly content with the status of a ruler, Philos wanted to develop this city and make sure her citizens were happy.
“For that reason, I have been doing my best until now. So, I must do my best at this time as well. For that reason, I cannot retreat anymore.”
One of the clerks’ dull voice hit Philos Trait’s earlobes. He was announcing that a letter had arrived from the Heraldic Order.
There was a group of mercenaries in front of Garoua Maria’s castle gate. There were hundreds at best. But all of them showed flames in their eyes as they followed two figures, as if they were controlled soldiers.
One of the figures spoke.
「Listen, you don’t really have to go, Vess. 」
Perhaps, thanks to the fact that the sore throat had disappeared due to the lack alcohol, the voice that pierced the back of Vestaline’s ears was smooth and caring. In response to that voice, Vestaline smiled. The wind stroking her cheeks was strange and gentle.
「I know what you mean, but there is a reason for me to go too, sister. Saint Matia, the Heraldic Saint, saved my life. Besides, I want to give work to the mercenaries of Belfein.」
One of the figures who led the mercenaries was a young woman, who was once called the Steel Princess Vestaline. A large, painful scar was visible on her right shoulder. Her body, torn apart by Caria Burdnick during the chaos in Belfein, survived the deadly strike while leaving a mark behind. It was probably due to the efforts of her healer and Vestaline’s vitality.
The scar did not hide her majestic persona. She again wore her steel armor and bravely grabbed the battle axe. Her appearance was no different from when she was revered as the Steel Princess of Belfein.
The group of mercenaries breathed deeply after seeing the majestic appearance that made them feel glorious. The emotions that dwelled in their hearts were full of respect and worship, and not fear.
The only figure that sighed deeply in a frustrating manner was the figure walking beside Vestaline. Bruder Geluah, Vestaline’s sister who received her father’s name.
She sharpened her lips upon hearing Vestaline’s words, but did not repel them. A chewing tobacco was moving in her mouth. Her brown hair, once tied up in her hat, was now out of her hat and swayed in the wind.
Her plan was to stay in the countryside and live a life unrelated to the campaign after her sister, Vestaline, had healed her wounds. However, it seemed that Vestaline’s intention was the opposite.
Now that the former Lord Mordeaux Gon had died, the mercenary city of Belfein was governed by the Heraldic religion. The original sovereignty was now in the hands of Vestaline after the death of Mordeaux Gon, but the reality was that it made little sense. However, there was a reason for that choice.
The Heraldic religion could not manage only one thing in the governing supervision.
In other words, it was the mercenaries who were once led by Vestaline. Even those who had torn the reins of Mordeaux Gon could not be easily incorporated into the Heraldic umbrella. During that chaos, the mercenaries began to defy their ruler. That meant that they would easily defy future rulers, more so to the Heraldic religion, which they were not attached to.
That was why Vestaline’s role was important. There was no way that she would abandon the mercenaries who followed her to the end. For that reason, she led the mercenaries and was now under the umbrella of the Heraldic religion herself.
Bruder was a dutiful person. It was true for other mercenaries, and Bruder also contributed to the Heraldic religion.
“Indeed, I am grateful to the Heraldic Saint for saving Vestaline’s life. However, I heard from my employer that the knight who hurt Vestaline is now a member of the Heraldics.”
“If so, then the fact that a life was saved is not a reason to help the Heraldics.”
“Rather, if I declare that I will contribute to Great Holy Church, there will be many people who will oppose and there will be many people who will be happy about it. Well, whatever it may be, my status won’t be that different from a puppet.”
“…No, if that happens, does it mean that I will be hostile to my employer?”
Bruder narrowed her eyes while holding the chewing tobacco in her mouth with her fingers.
The employer Lugis, no, he was no longer her employer, but Bruder called that name because she didn’t know what else to call him. Would it not be embarrassing to call him by his name?
Honestly, Bruder didn’t have any good feelings about the Great Holy Church, but recognized it as a big force. It was natural to choose the shoulder of the strong person if you were willing to survive.
“Then, why did I think that I shouldn’t be hostile to my employer now? Such emotion doesn’t mean anything to me at all, am I right?” Bruder distorted her expression after having these strange thoughts, and again squeezed the chewing tobacco with her lips.
Vestaline urged Bruder to speak by saying the following words.
「In addition, there is someone who think of you, my sister, with high regard in the Heraldic religion. Then, I would like to see that person’s face again.」
Bruder’s tobacco fell from her lips.
“What is she talking about? I don’t remember hearing about such a thing before.” With her lips wide open after hearing her sister’s words, Bruder turned her eyes around. Vestaline looked at her and said with a wry smile.
「Look, it is the one whom you talked to for countless of times.」
A moment after hearing those words, Bruder finally regained her thoughts and wet her lips.
「My employer is not like that. And I just said that we should stay in the countryside together, away from all the mayhem. 」
Certainly, if one heard only that part at the end, other people would perceive those words in a different manner, but that was not the case.
Bruder just thought it would be more fun that way. There was no other meaning.
Vestaline nodded a little when she heard Bruder’s words, showing a sharp smile on her cheeks. That smile made it look as if some unfathomable emotions engraved on her chest.
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