Chapter 385: Bricks Piled Up
Smoke emerged majestically and engulfed the royal capital. A large fire was crawling at the base, and, at the same time, a white flash was visible from afar.
「He’s doing a terrible show. It seems like he hasn’t changed in that respect. What a shame. 」
Richard Permillis was convinced that this occurrence was the work of his student.
Magical beasts didn’t use fire like that. Besides, they wouldn’t want to damage the royal capital that took them so much effort to obtain. At least in that respect they were perfectly rational.
If so, that fiery destruction was done by humans. Then, in the royal capital, the only people other than him who could burn things down without hesitation was his student.
Arche, the capital of the Gharast Kingdom, was a cultural asset to the country. It provided both authority and legacy, qualities that had been enshrined for hundreds of years.
It was difficult for someone who felt some attachment to create a permanent wound in such a place. If Richard’s compatriot Valerie saw this scene, she would see past her anger and see it only with murderous intent.
Richard was sure that Lugis had no attachment for the royal capital.
Although it was the land where Lugis was born and raised, he felt no remorse if it were to be damaged.
Richard was sure Lugis wouldn’t think anything of it even if the whole area were to burn to the ground. Perhaps, he would be a little emotional, but that’s all. He had no idea about the prestigious royal capital or its rich culture. He didn’t have the slightest interest in its prestige.
Richard was different in that respect. Surprisingly, he had a sense of patriotism towards the motherland. He also had the prospect to restore its former majesty and make it into a great empire.
Richard wouldn’t do what Lugis just did, unconsciously crushing the very authority of that mighty state.
…Lugis had decided honestly and consciously to “kill” the royal capital.
Demonic beings were a fearsome enemy. Richard knew it wouldn’t be easy to face such a powerful enemy without adjusting your values. There’s no way Lugis would prioritize the royal capital when facing a frightening opponent.
For Lugis, it was better to cut off a part of it than lose everything. If a man’s limbs became rotten due to a disease, then the best course of action was to cut off the affected parts. This situation was the same. The royal capital was, after all, a set of buildings. Richard thought it was okay as long as the crown remained at the end.
No, how valuable was that crown?
Just as Richard thought. His wrinkles twisted as if he was mocking himself. It was something he had unconsciously expressed, to the extent that those around him didn’t know about it.
The King fled with his soldiers and abandoned the city. That in itself was acceptable. In cases of true crisis, the King had to drive the capital away. After all, there was a history of monarchs abandoning the area after losing the royal capital.
That’s not what the old man couldn’t forgive. Actually, the King was clinging to another authority called Great Holy Church.
Religion was something that exploited and frowned upon its subjects.
The Great Holy Church had been nothing more than that for Richard since the day he lost his faith. That religion was a colony of bats that could only attach themselves to others. Besides, the King was now clung to that thing.
Richard’s expression was tinged with old age, and his wrinkles deepened as he simply stared at the blaze. Richard heard his molars gritting together.
「Commander. I have received a message from Lady Neymar. She has asked me to inform you that everything is ready for the siege.」
Richard lightly showed his hand to his subordinate, a messenger who then put his hand on his chest. Richard thought he must get ready too.
Richard narrowed his eyes and realized that Neymar had become an excellent lieutenant. Even if he wasn’t there, she could still command in his place. She was much more than just the daughter of a local aristocrat.
She didn’t just receive vague instructions; she could think for herself. Richard knew that such people were rare. That’s why he also trained Valerie.
He continued, with his lips rippling.
「Finally. Let the army enter the royal capital. Tell them to go ahead of the Heraldics. They mustn’t hand them over the initiative.」
His aged eyes moved, and his lips fluttered.
The Heraldic Order’s aim was clear. They were probably trying to take advantage of the state of emergency to take effective control of the royal capital and expand their influence.
In reality, Richard could tolerate that fact. After all, they must be collaborators in the united front. However, and for that reason alone, they had to stop the Heraldic forces from entering the royal capital ahead of them.
After all, the Heraldic Order was nothing more than a group of pagans. That should’ve been a common understanding, whether for Richard or for his soldiers.
Nevertheless, there was just one thing that bothered him. Yes, Richard had some doubts. How did the Heraldic Order safely reach the royal capital?
The royal capital Arche was a great distance away from the Heraldic Order’s sphere of influence. They had to cross several noble territories in order to reach the royal capital.
However, there were hardly any signs of battle. If a group of soldiers invaded the territory, the nobles would definitely try to protect their land, no matter how upset they were from the fall of the royal capital.
The nobles didn’t know how the future situation would be, so they probably prioritized the protection of the people of their territory.
That being said, why did the Heraldics easily cross over the nobles’ territories? It was not a land comprised of just one or two local nobles, but a land where a large number of nobles had their own territories.
Was it possible for something like that to happen? The only thing Richard could think of was that the Heraldics brought the nobles to their side.
If so, how?
Unanswerable questions crawled through Richard’s thoughts. His wrinkles deepened as he lightly stroked the beard on his chin and said the following words.
「…One more thing, messenger. Tell the soldiers not to hesitate with their offensive just because of the soldiers who were allowed to sneak into the royal capital.」
Hearing those words, the messenger’s shoulders trembled. Richard didn’t miss the way his gaze wandered for a moment.
Therefore, he added one more word so that his subordinate would understand his feelings.
「I am the one who is responsible for everything. There’s no way you will be punished. Listen, when a problem arises due to the actions of soldiers, the one who took the action is not the one responsible, but the one who gave the order. If you understand, go now. 」
Richard didn’t allow his subordinate to question his decision.
It was okay to have doubts, but once you put them into words, those doubts wouldn’t go away easily. Soldiers who couldn’t erase their doubts could no longer be used on the battlefield.
Having doubts meant defeat. In a war situation where fast decisions were important, soldiers who got lost in their thoughts were of no use.
That’s why Richard made sure to tell his messenger those words.
…Don’t get lost in useless thoughts. Without hesitation, he burned the royal capital as ordered.
The fortress south of the royal capital Arche. It was probably the busiest time since this fortress was built.
Whether it was the Gharast army or the Heraldic army. Both must maintain constant contact with insiders and take coordinated actions. If they couldn’t maintain a regular contact, then they had to choose the course of action that seemed best.
However, the situation and the actions that should be taken continued to change rapidly over time. In such situations, those at the top as well as those at the bottom had no time to rest. They were required to constantly think, judge, and manage things.
The same was true for Matia, the Saint of the Heraldic Order. All decisions, including trivial ones, leaned on Matia’s shoulders. The subordinates thought her throat would dry up with the countless talks.
Matia kept her gaze on the parchment after listening to the messenger’s report.
「…It is said that the Gharast army has prepared to attack the royal capital. It is unlikely that they will retreat any longer.」
Words which the messenger didn’t know who they were meant for. Philos Trait picked them up and ran a pen on the parchment as she spoke. Just like Matia, she was sitting at an office desk, making no attempt to get up.
「Is that so? In fact, it’s more accurate to say that no one can retreat anymore. If we do, then it’s the end of it all.」
Philos adjusted her monocle and sighed as she professed those words. The messenger could see the fatigue on Philos’ forehead, but that didn’t stop her from working.
At least for now, the person named Philos was siding with the Heraldic Order. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the success or failure of those actions all depended on them. With that in mind, she didn’t stop from working.
The humiliation of having her city fall, and surrendering afterwards, was enough for her.
However, what was troublesome this time was that they had to win not only against demonic opponents, but also against the Gharast army.
If the Gharast army were to take back the royal capital from the demonic opponents, there would be no point in taking the initiative, or in other words, the right to govern it. In particular, if the Heraldic Order, which was an expeditionary force, didn’t take the royal capital, it would mean the collapse of everything within the organization.
Even if it meant joining forces with the Gharast army, the only thing they had to accomplish was seizing control. They’d die if they couldn’t achieve that. Both Lugis and everyone else.
Philos asked Matia if she had any thoughts on that sensitive matter.
To be honest, Matia was far more knowledgeable than Philos when it came to military operations. Philos understood this well. The only things Philos could do were the communication with the nobles and sorting out political affairs.
Matia nodded and replied.
「We have been in touch with the surrounding nobles…the nobles who have promised to cooperate with us. Besides, we have also hidden cards.」
Hidden cards. Although Philos couldn’t ask what she was talking about, she nodded and ended the conversation. Matia was probably not the only one who had something up her sleeve.
「There hasn’t been any contact from anyone inside the royal capital. It seems Lugis won’t make an easy path for us.」
「It’s impossible for him to contact us now. Besides, a run-away cat will always come back. I can assure you.」
Philos could tell that Matia’s words contained a certain kind of trust and affection for Lugis. It was rare for this Saint to profess words with emotion.
Philos understood that Lugis was a person who never forgot his promises and words, no matter what happened, but was it okay for Matia to be that sure of Lugis’ capabilities?
Philos looked at Matia after sighing. Matia’s hand continued to move busily, while her gaze fixed on the parchment. Her fingertips didn’t stop those movements even for a second.
She was impressed by Matia’s tenacious endurance. Suddenly, Philos’ monocle tilted, and her eyes narrowed.
…As the Saint continued to move, Philos saw an unfamiliar ring on her fingertip that had been placed on the wrong finger.
Philos’ characteristic white eye was greatly distorted.