TL: I am sort of sick with coughing and a slight fever. Drawing stuff takes even more mental energy than TLing does, so here’s a chapter in advance. I haven’t edited this for errors/reading accessibility because I’m too tired. Plenty of names dropped in this chapter. You’re warned.
Edit: Man the cough is so bad that sleeping for 2 days didn’t help. Pissed off at people for not airing the room when they know they are sick.
Chapter 133 – Romaine’s second plan (1)
In the bountiful pastures of the northern highlands, the citizens who lived there circulated a famous legend, which depicted the soldiers left behind in the battlefield to be people who were watched by the God of Death.
Kren Norsdt had heard of this legend too. He was hired by the northern kingdom’s Baltha region, and was born in a gentry family. He was considerably talented as a beast tamer, and enrolled in the Dragoon Knight’s 34th wing and became a Dragoon. That particular platoon was part of the southern region’s army, but it was defeated by Madara and their commander slain in battle. (TL: Not sure how to use gentry in a sentence. Nobles > Gentry > Commoner, in terms of social ranking.)
However, the squadron did not wait for a truce, and assaulted Madara harder each time the days went by. The nobles that were further away from the battles, used the ongoing negotiations at that time as an excuse not to provide any support for them.
The messengers that were sent out to the White-Mane Army and the other armies from Arreck did not return, and the situation grew more desperate, and the situation turned out like how the next highest ranking officer in the 34th wing predicted:
“The southern region’s situation is becoming worse every day. We do not know where our brothers are after being separated, and the Madara army continues to attack from all directions. We are unable to contact anyone and it seems like all news have been sealed off. It is impossible to retreat. The nobles are acting on their own, and this land has completely fallen away from the kingdom’s control by now. Marsha above, I pray that I will see this nightmare end while I still live—”
But it was all pointless to Kren right now.
He rode on his injured flying dragon and patrolled one of the villages destroyed by the undead. He tried taking to the sky when he was discovered, but the thick arrows managed to pierce the dragon’s eye and brought it down shrieking in pain. When it finally crashed back down onto the ground, he found that it had succumbed to its injuries and was pinning him down. He looked at the surroundings with despondent eyes and gritted teeth.
He became someone who received the gaze of the God of Death.
He tried getting his body out from but he immediately yelled out in pain. That crash had broken numerous bones in his body and realized there was no possible way for him to drag himself out. In the end, he sighed and reached for his light crossbow, loaded it with a bolt and shot at one of the skeletons.
The bolt had been blessed with Holy Water and shone brightly as it was fired towards the skeleton, making it hurl backwards, while setting it aflame before it turned into dust.
More of these white lights were fired into the air, but even more undead drowned out Kren’s sight. The youth reminisced upon the time when he first heard of how Madara split up their armies into three different routes. Almost everyone in the army, regardless of whether they were nobles or commoners, held a light-hearted attitude towards their enemies. They believed that these barbaric Dark Lords were going to fight amongst themselves and fall apart because of their uncoordinated commanding, just like how they failed in history every single time.
The result was utterly beyond their expectations. The Madara’s advancing army was swift and decisive, calmly taking every bit of advantage whenever a mistake was made. On the contrary, Aouine’s army was like a slow and elderly man. They unable to defend at vital points because they were late to respond, and even when they went into battle, they were haggard soldiers fighting the tireless undead.
Aouine’s days of glory were long gone, and the praise from the 17th pope of the Holy Cathedral of Flames three hundred years ago describing Aouine as ‘The Fiery Blade that represents the shining glory of the Old Eras’, was nothing more than history.
When Kren finally exhausted his supply of Holy Bolts, he gripped the pendant containing his wife’s portrait and looked up. A giant skeleton had already blocked off the sunlight from reaching him—
The Soul Flames of its eyes jumped about.
“Farewell, my father, mother, and my lovely Vanessa. I wish you remember your son and husband, and the many others who fought to protect Aouine…… This kingdom can no longer see hope……”
============== Brendel POV =============
At the end of the tenth month, the scent of autumn was becoming denser. Trentheim’s grasslands were dyed with a layer of pale yellow and had a picturesque scenery. But when Brendel and the others rode through the rural village’s path, they could feel the war’s aftermath.
After Rauze had ripped his leather armor apart, he decided not to replace it with another, and ordered a black comfortable robe and clothing set from a tailor during their journey. He was now sitting on the horse with a contrasting pair of white gloves, and a silver-plated sword at his waist, looking like a young noble.
But this was not because he wanted to enjoy being one. It was simply because it was easier for him to avoid any additional troubles. After leaving Chablis, the month-long journey was quite peaceful, but it was clear that public order was poor due to the war. Most of the bandits were formed by peasants whose livelihood were destroyed.
Brendel had resummoned his mercenaries and formed up into a group of twenty one men strong, and they were all well-equipped. These peasant-bandits hardly had the courage to rob them.
Brendel glanced at the empty villages along the way with unhappy eyes. He had been warned by Rauze that an army of Madara undead was marching towards Trentheim’s southern area. This knowledge was no different from what he knew in the previous world. The ‘Black Lord’ Incirsta would stay in Randner’s region for half a year after the truce, simply because he was greedy to gain more from Aouine. This kingdom at its current state was unable to fend him off anyways.
In accordance to Brendel’s knowledge of the month’s end, the upper echelons of Aouine were starting to act behind the shadows.
Oberg’s first son, Hammil, would receive support from Queen Anna’s faction.
Anna, sister of Duke Seifer, was a representative of the Seifer dynasty. The members who supported the Corvado royal family were against her from the start, but it was to no avail. She even committed adultery with Marquis Kluge, and they worked together to imprison the king and left behind a disastrous and splintered the court.
(TL: Kluge is the guy who advised the king back then, and he was most likely the culprit who told the king to invite Madara’s invasion. Benninger, dude from the previous chapter, is the son of Duke Seifer, but he’s on the princess side because he likes her.)
In the beginning of the eleventh month, Hammil announced himself as king and attemped to seize the throne. This formally raised the curtains on the internal strife within the royal faction. Princess Gryphine with her strong personality naturally would not accept this silently, and denounced Hammil from within her territory to the nobles and knights of the whole kingdom, accusing him to be an usurper of the throne. The people who supported her were fierce opposers of the queen and backers of the Elven races.
In the middle of the elventh month, duke Arreck formally announced his support for the First-prince Hammil, and the various regions either took their independence or placed their support to either side. The civil war of Aouine started from that moment. From that period onwards, the civil war lasted for two years and completely shook the foundation of the kingdom. It had a brief moment where it resurged, but it had spilled too much blood for it to regain its former past.
Aouine’s demise was hastened because of this incident.
No one was able to notice what Incirsta did precisely because of the civil war. However, not noticing the Madara’s presence did not mean that the influence was not there. Many cities and villages were completely empty and void of life, and there was a bleak feeling when Brendel and the others passed through the place.
As they reached further into Trentheim’s region, that sight gradually changed. They finally discovered some presense of human life near the core city of Trentheim, Firburh. The lord of Trentheim’s region was the third son of Duke Randner, Baron Graudin.
Brendel was not very familiar with him, but the majority of the nobles were arrogant and selfish. A lord was even worse, because they were merciless and cruel, heaping misery upon the citizens in their territory.
When Brendel and the others entered Firbugh, they quickly realized this fact, and their small expectations were lowered once again:
In front of them were the impoverished citizens of the city, their clothes tattered and torn, while their gaunt, pallid faces with sunken eyes showed how they had no hope for their future. The refugees were even more wretched as though the air of death was about them, reduced to nothing more than bones and their cracked lips, indicating how hungry and thirsty they were.
The path to the city was dirty and foul smelling, as though excrement from livestock was everywhere in the dry air. The nobles from Bruglas seemed kind compared to this place, simply because the citizens of that place were still able to survive despite their commoner status.
This destitute land seemed to give birth to people filled with avarice. The poorer the land, the greedier they seemed to be. Brendel understood it was not because the nobles in Grinoires were kinder, it was simply because the lands of Trentheim were not bountiful, and their lives were in near shambles.
Amandina widened her eyes in shock and covered her lips in disbelief.
“My lord, the land you are inheriting…… is this place?” Her tone was filled with disappointment.
She thought she was leaving the highlands for a richer place in Trentheim. The area was supposed to face the sea in the east, and it should be a place of wealth because it was easier to trade. It might not compare to Ampere Seale, but at least it should be on the same standard as Bruglas.
She did not expect this land to be in such a terrible state.
Brendel glanced back at her.
After discovering that he intended for the veteran mercenaries to protect her and the Grey Wolves Mercenaries, she had adopted a business-like attitude ever since they left Chablis. She would ignore him every time and only spoke when she was spoken to. Even after he explained that they were similar to heroic spirits like Medissa and brought them back, she did not relent on her attitude.
Brendel scratched his head at this situation and grumbled to himself about how a retainer should act in his mind, but he did not use his position to remind her on their status.
“Are you finally willing to talk to me?” He asked.