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TL: As a reminder, Macsen and Palas are areas within Trentheim. Lord Macsen, Lord Palas are not surnames. Medieval title calling = Lord + Region Name. i.e, Brendel – Lord Trentheim, if he gets the entire place under his control and recognized as the lord.
Also, Firburh is the capital of Trentheim.
Chapter 86 – Omens of war
Approximately ten days ago on the battlefield near Firburh—
A faint scent of soot, smoke and burnt flesh permeated the air.
Even though it was winter, Brendel had given strict orders to the Nightsong Tiger to deal with the bodies properly. A rampant plague was something that the youth did not want to risk, even if the weather was cold enough to start snowing.
As time was a factor, the Nightsong Tiger split up the mercenaries into various groups to set up multiple burning sites. Corpses were gathered and tossed into pyres to be burned, which poured trails of choking black smoke upwards into the sky.
Lord Palas’s scouts entered the forest a few days later to investigate the news of Lord Macsen’s defeat. Their heartbeats quickened when they found occasional armor fragments, shattered blades, and darkened blood spatters left in the forest, proving that a fierce battle had taken place.
While they found burnt remains at the site, they were not certain whether they belonged to the rebelling party or Lord Macsen’s men.
Since the rumors stated that the rebels had won a victory, they made their way to Lord Macsen’s region instead of going to Firburh directly. While it might be true that the latter was defeated, they thought Lord Macsen had escaped safely.
But to their utter shock, the region had been taken over by a group of mercenaries called the ‘The Amber Sword’.
When the scouts questioned the local citizens, they learned that these mercenaries led Fortress Riedon’s refugees out from a heavy siege comprised of multiple undead armies.
The mercenaries eventually went to Port Gris and out into the Wilderness, with the intention to search for arable land and become Pioneers.
(TL reminder: Wilderness is the area not blessed by Goddess Marsha, and a Fire Seed allows her protection to come through and prevent monsters from attacking. The people who set out to find new land are called Pioneers.)
But no one knew when they turned around and moved to Lord Macsen’s territory instead.
The scouts suddenly realized that things were not as simple as they seemed. The idea that it was just a group of rebelling citizens who successfully took down Graudin was unlikely when there were so many strange circumstances.
Lord Macsen was also nowhere to be found.
The scouts were close to the truth.
Brendel’s letter to Leto was to order them to set out from Port Gris and head toward to the direction of the Wilderness, before changing their direction to Lord Macsen’s territory if the noble attacked Firburh.
Lord Macsen did not even know that his territory had been taken over when he was captured by the Nightsong Tiger.
The scouts began to think that the leader of the rebels was someone who was highly capable.
Brendel on the other hand truly viewed the attack from Lord Macsen as nothing more than a ‘village fight’. He had fought against huge battles with complicated tactics in the game, especially the ones against Madara where he had to fight against overwhelming odds.
It was also why he dared to allow Raban and Cornelius to join the Nightsong Tiger in battle as a learning experience.
Still, the youth understood that the next battle with Randner would be a bitter one.
The final destination the scouts infiltrated was the outskirts of Firburh.
“It seems like the rumors are true.” One of the scouts returned after speaking with the locals. “Someone sighted the rebelling army returning with a number of prisoners. Judging from the information we uncovered, Lord Macsen’s army was completely defeated, and all his men were either killed or captured.”
The scouts became silent.
Even though they already realized the conclusion when they first visited the place where the battle took place, it was still something that made the hair on their skin stand.
The leader of the scouts, an old man who had been through many battles, received the other scouts’ gazes for instructions.
“It’s an unnatural thing. I’ve been a scout for decades, but this is the first time I’ve seen such an effective ambush. The most important thing to do now is to return to Lord Palas with this news.” The old scout thought for a while and said.
“I heard that Captain Carglise participated in this battle.” One of the scouts said. (TL: Carglise = Lord Macsen’s son.)
Carglise had trained under Lord Palas and the latter taught everything he knew to the young man. Since Lord Palas did not have children of his own, he saw Carglise as his own and the latter did not disappoint him by having exemplary achievements in battles against Highland rebels. Lord Palas’s men also regarded him highly.
Lord Palas also agreed to Carglise’s desire to serve Princess Gryphine. While the old knight was loyal to Count Randner, he was more supportive of the Royal faction and hoped that his disciple would assist the kingdom and restore it to its former glory.
“It’s strange that Captain Carglise got ambushed even if it’s a good one. When he led as the scouting commander, he never fell for the traps set by those cunning Highlanders.” A young scout said.
The others nodded, except for the scouting leader:
“Now isn’t the time to think about this matter. I’m going to split us into two groups. The first group shall return to Lord Palas and report to him, while the second will infiltrate Firburh and try our luck to discover who our opponents really are.”
“Isn’t it risky to investigate this strange enemy at their base of operation?”
“What’s the point of scouting if we’re unable to gain any useful information at all? In any case, I’ll pick two of you to come along with me, while the rest of you return back to Lord Palas.”
The rest of the scouts looked at each other in uncertainty. While they believe they would not encounter any real danger because of their skills, they felt like they were walking on thin ice because of the mysterious enemies.
=================== Ciel’s POV ================
As the scouts discussed amongst themselves, Raban and Cornelius first exchanged glances before they turned around to look at Ciel.
The youth wore a conspicuous red robe and was sitting on a nearby boulder just a few meters away from the scouts. Beside him was the leader of the Subterrane Dwellers, Tagiv, who looked a little fearfully at him.
The young wizard’s magic had completely erased their presence. No matter how skillful a scout was, they would never be able to detect their presence. In fact, they were so close to them that they were able to listen to their conversation.
Raban was impressed with the scouts. They had chosen a remote area where there were little hiding spots and were constantly paying attention to their surroundings. Their hands were always close to their weapons and their strength seemed close to Silver-ranked fighters.
But he was even more shocked at Ciel’s magic. He came from Karsuk and had seen the mysterious wizards from the Black Tower, and he was absolutely certain that this youth had the same air as them.
[I’ve heard rumors about Brendel being a Highland knight, I’ll believe that, but does it make sense that a wizard from the Black Tower serving as a squire to a knight? Just who is that noble?]
“Those scouts are bold,” Cornelius said, bringing back Raban from his thoughts.
The scouts separated into two groups, one moving towards Firburh, the other heading back to the Palas region. They quickly vanished into the main roads.
“Hah,” Ciel rubbed his forehead, his action resembling Brendel greatly.
His master was truly excellent. It was baffling to him that the young noble seemed to know everything, and he idolized him so much that he started to imitate his actions in the recent days.
But he soon laughed at himself before speaking: “I didn’t expect that fellow Carglise to be so popular with Palas’s men. He’s constantly demanding a duel between one of you. Are you not interested in accepting?”
Both Raban and Cornelius’s faces turned strange upon Ciel’s teasing.
During the ambush against Lord Macsen, the biggest problem they had was that youth, Carglise. His combat abilities were truly remarkable. The Nightsong Tiger, Raban and Cornelius engaged him in a three-way fight, yet the youth’s swordsmanship was brilliant enough to keep them at bay. If it was not the fact where Lord Macsen was captured, it was actually possible for that youth to pave a bloody road for his escape.
Fortunately, Carglise surrendered.
Lord Macsen and Carglise were put under house arrest and they were treated considerably well, but the latter kept yelling for a rematch and demanded duels. The three mercenary commanders avoided the place.
Ciel had told Brendel that someone needed to be taught a lesson; that was Carglise.
“What are your thoughts on them?” Ciel shook his head with a smile after seeing the silence from both men and changed the topic.
“…… Did our lord predict the scouts?” Cornelius asked as he looked at Ciel pointing to the scouts.
Tagiv was starting to be dissatisfied. It was the one who alerted the humans that the enemy scouts had entered the area, yet was it was being ignored.
“Oh, right, the credit of discovering the scouts goes to Tagiv.” Ciel suddenly said and nodded to Tagiv, spotting its discontent.
Tagiv immediately puffed up its chest.
“And?” Raban frowned and asked.
“We’re to capture the scouts heading to Firburh. As for the others, we’re to let them go.”
Cornelius and Raban exchanged glances.
[Letting them return will let Lord Palas be on his guard. He will prepare an army much bigger than Lord Macsen.]
[What is our lord thinking?]
But Ciel raised his head to the sky and mused to himself thoughtfully. He had guessed what Brendel wanted to do; it was going to be an all-out battle.