The day was bright.
Hector’s soldiers couldn’t hide their wretched expressions on a morning that seemed like it would never come.
“…It is morning.”
They had complicated feelings. They sighed in relief, but they were also angry that they had stayed awake all night and had no good results.
They were terrified of the darkness. Naturally, they couldn’t help but be careful at night. As they didn’t know when Roman Dmitry would appear and bring the scythe of death, they stayed awake until the morning. The battle was finally over. There would be no further attacks from the darkness, but the Hector Kingdom had already lost the power to pursue him by now.
“Move the corpses of your comrades. We will appease their souls with cremation and then get enough rest.”
“Give me a little bit of strength!”
The order had been given. Nonetheless, the soldiers couldn’t help but be anguished. That was because there weren’t only one or two corpses. Furthermore, it was impossible for most to carry others’ bodies while being in such a miserable state, so the ones who were in better condition took most of the duty on themselves.
Although it was difficult, no one complained. If they had run out of luck, then even their body would have been in the corpses, so even if they were tired, they were polite to the dead.
Among them, Edwin Hector carried the bodies down the mountains as well.
“Commander. You don’t have to do it.”
“No. They are dead because of me. Even if I failed to save them, I do not want to leave them alone on their path to heaven.”
Jackson could only look at Edwin with a sad face. Obviously, Edwin had done his best, but the opponent was too strong. Jackson wanted to console him, but he knew that Edwin Hector wasn’t ready for that talk right now.
‘This defeat was because of my actions and orders.’
Edwin had messed up. He was shedding tears of blood within himself. As the day dawned and all the corpses were revealed, he could not contain the guilt he felt when looking at the corpses. They had sacrificed their lives as if they were pieces on a chessboard. When he gave the order, they would simply accept it and sacrifice themselves, but when he saw the reality that they had been badly defeated, Edwin felt like his heart was about to give out. The situation was reversed, and it was so difficult to accept that so many had died because of his lack of ability.
‘I was overconfident in my abilities. From the moment I decided that my abilities could handle the variable called Roman Dmitry, the perfect plan began to crumble down. The plan that was thought to be the lesser of the two evils turned out to be the worst option, and from now, the Hector Kingdom has no choice but to face a desperate situation.’
This was the worst. When he was leaving Hector, he promised to come back after winning the war against Cairo. And after reviewing the plan countless times, Edwin Hector was convinced that his plan would never fail. Nevertheless, the reality was like this sometimes.
Edwin felt his heavy steps each time he moved. The weight which was transmitted from the back carrying the corpse made his feet firmly touch the ground.
How far did he move?
Edwin Hector, who had finally moved all the corpses down the mountains with the others, set fire to them.
The fire rose high. No one said anything, yet all continued to look at it. Edwin Hector and his men stayed and watched the blazing fire for quite a while.
Once the cremation was finished, Edwin Hector convened all the captains to the meeting. After all, falling into despair could only be a temporary feeling. The reality in front of them was still harsh, so they had to do their best to solve it.
“Report the damage.”
“It will take more time to get an accurate figure, but a rough estimate shows that around 700 of our soldiers were killed overnight. On the contrary, the enemy casualties are less than 10.”
Sighs broke out from everyone’s mouths. This was an overwhelming defeat. Edwin Hector clasped his trembling hands and bowed his head deeply.
“It is a defeat because of my inability and judgment. I will take this opportunity to apologize for giving the wrong orders.”
“What the hell are you talking about! It isn’t Commander’s fault!”
The captains all jumped up. Among them, Butler spoke with an angry face.
“None of us blame you, Prince. While he was only known to be a 3-Star Aura Swordsman, Roman Dmitry was strong enough to defeat the Prince and the others as well. Who the hell can predict such a variable? The opponent was just too strong. We do not want to see the Prince bow his head.”
“Give us new orders. We are still looking up to you, Commander.”
Everyone agreed with Butler. They all had fought in the mountains, and as they had faced Roman Dmitry, they knew that the defeat wasn’t Edwin’s fault at all. Butler was right. Roman Dmitry was a monster. He had mobility that allowed him to pierce through their defenses and strength enough to kill hundreds. Even when they first entered the mountain, no one could have predicted this outcome.
Edwin Hector said, “I am a commander who lost. Nevertheless, since no one else will solve our problems for us, I want to issue a new order to you. If you think that my orders will lead us to defeat again, regardless of your position, voice your opinion at all costs.”
“We will follow your orders.”
They all sat down.
Edwin Hector pondered for a long time while looking at the burning fire. Now, facing the worst situation they could, special measures were needed to overturn the situation.
“We cannot return to the Hector Kingdom without results. Therefore, before the main force of Cairo Kingdom arrives on the Southern Front, all the Front Defense Lines will be captured by resuming the attacks that had been paused. The deadline is 10 days. In that time, we also need to clear the remnants of Cairo. After that, we will use the rear position as a base to prepare for a head-on war.”
“…What do we do about Roman Dmitry? He will definitely thwart our plans.”
The moment the name “Roman Dmitry” came up, the faces of each captain became stiff. They all knew how dangerous he was. It wasn’t known which variable he would create next, but that didn’t mean they should just keep sitting at one spot just because of one person.
“I admit that Roman Dmitry is a dangerous enemy. However, if he tries to sabotage our plans, we can get revenge. A battle in the mountain, which was done by taking advantage of darkness, and a battle in the plains, which takes advantage of the land, are different. The Front Defense Lines are obviously positions neither Cairo nor Roman can give up. Thus, we will use them as bait to attract Roman Dmitry.”
Edwin had changed his thoughts. He would lure him out to the Southern Front. That was also because once the main forces arrived, Roman Dmitry wouldn’t be able to act as he wanted. Thus, Edwin put the next 10 days as a gamble. If either Roman Dmitry was dealt with or all the Front Defense Lines of the Southern Front were captured, they could at least take it as minimum conditions for a desperate fight.
“It is difficult to get the desired reward against Cairo through fighting alone. We have already lost a thousand men in the fight against Roman Dmitry, and the Cairo Kingdom must have seen through our intentions. If we push for the long run, we might end up at a disadvantage. What do we do then?”
That was the most important issue. The purpose of this war was a reward. And in order to receive that, they could not stay here much longer.
Then, Edwin Hector found an answer after long deliberation.
“It isn’t necessary to receive the compensation from the Cairo Kingdom. The moment we fully grasp the Southern Front in our hands, I, as the Prince of the Hector Kingdom, will propose a deal to the Kronos Empire.”
Edwin was still fighting. Truly, the war wasn’t over yet.
At the same time, the Cairo Kingdom was busy preparing for negotiations with the Hector Kingdom.
A person who managed the treasury of the nation, Count Ayer, spoke firmly, “The financial situation of Cairo cannot fulfill the conditions of the Hector Kingdom unless Cairo is to be destroyed. In the last few years, Kronos’ frequent attacks on the Western Front have made us invest a lot of our budget there. So, if we grant the request of Hector, the treasury of Cairo will sink to the bottom.”
“…How about collecting more taxes?”
“That’s impossible. We already raised the taxes last year only. Even though the tax was raised for the sake of national security, the backlash was so extreme, and if we raise it again, even though it’s only been half a year, there will surely be riots breaking out in Cairo.”
The report was disappointing. King Daniel Cairo sighed when he heard the words of Count Ayer.
“What do we do now?”
This was a mess. As the King, it was his duty to solve the problem, but no matter how much he tried and thought, a suitable answer didn’t come up.
‘The only way other than that to solve this problem is to use the wealth of nobles. However, the Central Government’s nobles won’t agree to that idea even in a hundred years. They are not the kind to devote themselves to the nation.’
Cairo was quite a funny nation. Although the power of Royals seemed to be strong enough to face the foreign invasion, it actually belonged to the local nobles and the Central Government, which never mingled with the Royal Family.
The power of Marquis Benedict, Count Denver, and Count Gregory was huge, and it was clear that even if the Cairo Kingdom was destroyed, they would still pursue their own interests.
“…There is no way.”
The only choice left was to negotiate. The drying up of the treasury was a problem that would be focused on and resolved later. No matter how difficult the situation on the Southern Front was, they couldn’t handle it over to the Hector Kingdom.
In the last meeting, because of Count Denver’s argument, they had decided to wait three days and trust Roman Dmitry. Nevertheless, the nobles of the Central Government and Daniel Cairo didn’t actually believe he would be able to change the situation in that short of a time.
Then, Daniel Cairo got up. As Hector’s dates approached, he couldn’t resolve the issue of negotiation by himself.
“Contact the nobles of the Central Government. Tell them we will hold a meeting about negotiation.”
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Just then, the door to the room opened wide, and a Royal Knight raised his voice with complex emotions on his face.
“Your Majesty Daniel Cairo! A Magic Call has been connected, and it has been reported that the enemy on the Southern Front has been defeated!”
The report of victory against Hector was a piece of unexpected news that made Daniel Cairo stunned.
All the nobles of the Central Government gathered in the meeting room. They all reacted in disbelief at the reported news.
“Is it true that Roman Dmitry defeated the Hector Kingdom?”
“We still don’t know. The Hector Kingdom mobilized around ten thousand troops to attack the Southern Front. That is something the Southern Front could never handle, and I don’t know how Roman Dmitry managed to defeat Hector. We need to confirm it to know the truth. If Roman Dmitry tells us that a victory has indeed been achieved, we need to be on our way.”
That was a conversation between Count Gregory and Marquis Benedict. Honestly, they still couldn’t believe it. And Count Denver, who had suggested trusting Roman Dmitry, was also stunned when he heard the news.
‘Roman Dmitry really overcame that difficult situation?’
It was amazing. He knew that Roman Dmitry wasn’t an ordinary person from the moment he heard of him taking down Barco, but this achievement was entirely different from that. If this was true, Roman Dmitry wasn’t someone to be dismissed as any ordinary 4-Star Aura Swordsman.
It will be even more shocking for the ones who don’t know the truth of the test. If Roman actually has the ability to change the tide of the war, it is clear that Roman Dmitry is gifted with considerable talent as a commander.
The atmosphere was chaotic.
Finally, the knight who had been waiting beforehand connected the call on the Magic Communicator as Daniel Cairo entered the conference room.
“I will now connect communications to the Southern Front.”
Mana rose, and beyond the screen, a man’s face appeared.
Editor’s Thoughts: The war will still go on! Edwin Hector hasn’t given up, and selling the land to Kronos does sound like a good plan. All the nobles will finally realize the actual worth of Roman. What is his next plan, though?