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Volume 3: Chapter 185 – Miscalculation
The peace of the Goblin King’s western region was standing on thin ice. But he knew that, and it was because of that that he decided to deal with the south, so that he might ensure a safe path toward Germion Kingdom to the east.
Which is why he needed to go back to the western region as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, information that he couldn’t ignore had just come: The Red King had taken Fatina with only 2,000 soldiers against an army six times their numbers.
That was not a force the Goblin King could just ignore, for it was sure to indirectly affect even the small feudal lords that have just recently joined him.
“A scheme, huh.”
Though the creases on his forehead grew deeper, there wasn’t much he could do.
The Red King wasn’t directly causing problems for them, no; instead, what would become a problem for them were the forces that have been affected by the Red King’s victory. In other words, Elrain Kingdom, the Kushain believers, and the leading trade city of Pena.
Moreover, word says that the Kushain have already prepared to move out again. Various schemes were starting to reach out toward the pitiful borders that have been occupied by the goblins.
The small feudal lords were currently docile because of their recent victory, but it was hard to say that that would last when the Goblin King returns to the west.
The weak clung to the strong to survive. That was true for both humans and goblins. And now the Goblin King’s plan to quickly settle his goal here in the south and then return to the west was becoming harder to accomplish.
“If our enemies are scheming against us, then we should use that against them,” Gi Za Zakuend advised the worrying king. He was the leader of the shaman goblins and the Goblin King’s trusted retainer.
He was also Falun Gastair’s favorite student and to whom Falun’s book of strategies was entrusted.
“Hmm.” The Goblin King became thoughtful.
The Goblin King did not know the people scheming against him.
Why were they aiming for the borders? Or perhaps it was the weakness of the enemy, the people and royal family that they were aiming for.
The Goblin King regretted how little he knew of the southern borders.
He turned to his trusted retainer
“First, I need information; therefore, send Zaurosh to the city states of the free cities,” the Goblin King said.
“But they are currently monitoring the feudal lords,” Gi Za replied.
“Only a part of the Leon Heart Clan is. I understand your fears, but there are times when we have to rely on others to get the job done,” the Goblin King said with a wry smile as he decided that the humans would be be best suited to gathering information on other humans.
Another reason was because they were the only ones he could actually use to gather intel. The barrier between different races was simply too great.
This time around, the Goblin King was the one reacting; hence, he had no choice but to prolong his stay in the border lands.
As the Goblin King read Shumea’s report about Gi Ba and the others, he looked up toward the northern skies of the western city.
The Red King’s conquest of Fatina had caused some fissures within the upper brass of Elrain Kingdom to form. The king’s favored retainers, nobles, military officers, bureaucrats, and imperial guards had gathered to form an Anti-Red-King Faction, overpowering the Pro-Red-King faction.
“What a bunch of annoying guys,” Brandika unhappily sneered after hearing the news from Cell, who had been made head of the newly founded intelligence corps, the King’s Ears.
Brandika turned to his right-hand man, Carlion.
“Apparently, we won a bit too much. What you said might have also caused it,” Carlion shook his shoulders and wryly smiled at his sulking clan leader.
“I get carried away a little and this happens,” the Red King said as he gulped down his liquor and looked up at the sky.
After emptying the bottle, a fierce smile appeared on his lips.
“…And? What are we going to do? We gonna taking over this place?”
He would probably do just that were he left to his own devices.
Carlion shook his head. “Elrain’s banner is still of some use to us. We’ve finally gotten Fatina. It would be a waste to just throw it away.”
“I see,” Brandika shook his head and smiled with confidence. “I’ll leave it to you, Carlion.”
“Rest assured, my king, I will take care of it,” Carlion said with a chuckle before retreating to his office.
Taking a seat, he exhaled deeply, and when the air within the room stirred, he looked up.
An unhappy Cell was there.
“It seems Elrain Kingdom intends to fight for itself,” Cell said.
“The general?” Carlion asked.
“Haven’t heard of him.”
“He is the leader of the nobles. I hear he’s the relative of the king, so he was pushed up.”
A maternal relative, Carlion corrected internally as he listened to Cell’s report.
He is a general who became relative to the king after pushing his daughter to be the king’s queen.
Unlike the renowned Kanash, his position was something he’d only gained after offering his own daughter.
“Hmm… I suppose he’s decided to stick his head out of his shell after realizing that some mercenaries might take all the glory,” Carlion remarked after hearing everything.
After a moment of silence, Carlion the Genius Adviser slowly spoke.
“This is a good opportunity. Let’s begin work toward the Elrain Kingdom.”
“…I don’t understand you humans very well, but at this rate, the enemy is going to win.”
“Who is the enemy? The executives of the kingdom? The Kushain believers? The Elks Clan to the east? Or perhaps the monsters?”
“I didn’t come here to play words.”
“Ah, yes. Don’t worry. Everything is still within my expectations.”
For a moment, Carlion looked outside the windows with a dark and heated gaze.
“…Let’s move on to the second stage of stealing a country.”
Exhaling faintly, Carlion coughed a little.
A Paradua goblin rode to the Goblin King with a message from the western region.
“The humans are attacking?” The Goblin King asked.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” the messenger nodded.
The Goblin King looked toward the distant north. As he sensed the blood about to rush to his head, he shook his head and calmed himself.
The attack of Germion Kingdom or the attack of the adventurers. Moreover, the rebellion of the human villages. All of those possibilities ran through the Goblin King’s head as he listened to the messenger.
He braced himself for the worst.
“Give me specifics. How big are the enemy forces?” The Goblin King asked.
“We don’t know. Presently, Lord Gi Ba Hagar is dealing with them,” the messenger replied.
This messenger was sent by Gi Ba. Gi Ba the Man-Eating Snake excelled in fighting, but the hate he bore toward humans was too great.
“What about Gi Ga? Shumea? Yoshu!?”
“My apologies, Your Majesty, but that was all Lord Gi Ba sent me to report.”
“…In other words, you don’t know.”
As the Paradua messenger’s head hung down, the Goblin King ran past him and looked toward the western region that was 6 days away. The wall that was time was currently standing before him.
“Do we have no other choice but to bring back the army?” The Goblin King muttered.
If they lose the west, the goblin forces will be isolated in the south. Without any siege weapons, being isolated in the south would be no different from a slow death.
Gi Za and Felbi frowned a little.
“How about seeking the counsel of the humans?” Felbi suggested reluctantly.
Gi Za Zakuend said nothing. That was a tacit approval.
“Let’s do that. We’ll start with Zaurosh.”
As Felbi left to pass on word of the situation, the Goblin King folded his arms. That normally hidden anxiety was currently shown completely through the deep wrinkles on his forehead
The bigger the territory, the harder it was to grasp everything. That was something he learned a long time ago. Because of that he distributed his authority to the goblins by giving them territories to manage, but after coming here, a problem in the current system has finally shown itself.
Gi Ba’s earlier report for one had issues in both speed and details. There was also the issue with his lack of cooperation with the other races.
For speed, the best choices for messengers were the Paradua riders and the harpies. They have yet to conquer the south, so beacons were currently out of question. In this regard, Gi Ba couldn’t be faulted.
For details, however, the things the king needed: the size of the enemy army, the casualties on the goblins’ side, the current response of the goblins… the various information he needed were difficult to presume even for the goblin nobles. In order to presume such information the goblins would have to put themselves in the king’s shoes, but that was a tall order, indeed.
Perhaps, the goblins leading their own hordes might be able to do it, but other than the goblins fighting at the frontlines, none had such experience.
The deeper they went into human territory, the less goblins they would have; therefore, the strength of their army would mostly be decided by how much of their army they could preserve. If the Goblin King were to strengthen his army, that was where he would have to focus on.
“Not one of these is easy to solve.”
On top of that, the goblin army itself was a coalition of different races.
If Gi Ga Rax were in Gi Ba’s position, or if Gi Ba had cooperated with Shumea and Yoshu, he would have probably been able to send more information.
It was also possible that he simply didn’t have the leisure to do so.
“I might have to rethink leaving the territories to the noble goblins,” the Goblin King said.
“Was there something lacking about Gi Ba’s report?” Gi Za asked.
“Yes, a little.”
“Punish Gi Ba then. There shouldn’t be any reason to worry so much.”
The Goblin King wryly smiled at that simple answer.
“It would be cruel of me to punish Gi Ba for something I did not instruct him.”
“If one has sinned, then punishment should be handed out. That is all.”
“He has not sinned. He has merely failed to live up to my expectations.”
“Failure to meet the king’s expectations itself is a sin.”
What a strict goblin, the king thought as he wryly smiled again.
He would not punish Gi Ba.
“Hmm, I guess we could standardize it instead.”
If they standardized the information that needed to be sent, the goblins wouldn’t have to presume what the king wanted. A manual, in other words.
The Goblin King being able to think that was amazing as far as the goblins were concerned, but there was none among them who could understand just how amazing it was. All they knew was that the king was amazing.
“It is good that you’ve cleared your mind.”
When Gi Za saw that the creases on the king’s forehead were gone, he was overjoyed.
The Goblin King found it a little embarrassing how pure his retainer’s thoughts were.
“Yes, but we still need to deal with the situation at hand.”
After summoning Zaurosh, he sent Felbi to summon the feudal lords. He was better fit a messenger in this case than a goblin would.
“Your Majesty, I believe… It would not be wise to make our move now.”
Zaurosh chose his words carefully as he advised the king.
One of the Goblin King’s brows rose as he wryly smiled. “Why?”
Zaurosh was so different from when he met him for the first time that he couldn’t help but wryly smile. Unfortunately, he mistook that wry smile to mean that Zaurosh had something under his sleeves.
Zaurosh spoke with a stiff tone. “The southern border lords (small feudal lords) are currently unstable. We cannot keep them in line even with our clan.”
As the king became thoughtful, Zaurosh continued.
“Putting it bluntly, if the entire army is pulled, the border lands will be isolated.”
“And the Leon Heart Clan will no longer be our allies?”
With Zaurosh’s head slightly hung down, he could not see the Goblin King’s sharp gaze. Neither could Gi Za, but his was actually even sharper.
Gi Za was never tolerant of humans, so when he heard there might be a chance that they would betray them, his response was especially excessive.
“I cannot deny that possibility. We must prioritize our survival, after all.”
The Goblin King nodded.
Seeing the Goblin King wryly smile, Gi Za decided to keep quiet, but he continued to stare daggers at Zaurosh.
The circumstances surrounding the Leon Heart Clan had gotten complicated. It could be said that they were currently in a good spot, what with various offers being extended to them.
The small feudal lords trusted them, and there were plenty of other possible customers, such as the Kushain believers who have lost Fatina, Elrain Kingdom, or even the trade city-state of Pena.
Given all the extraordinary conditions offered, it was only natural that opinions within the Leon Heart Clan would be divided. Besides, only the goblins and the Leon Heart Clan knew that they were colluding together.
“I understand your situation. I hope you also understand that we cannot afford to lose the west.”
“Of course, I understand.”
“Then you may go. I have to hear out the small feudal lords.”
After dismissing Zaurosh, the Goblin King answered Gi Za’s questioning gaze.
“If he intended to betray us from the start, he wouldn’t have told us he that might betray us. If he truly intended to become our enemy, he would have just offered our heads to the enemy. That’s the sort of man he is.”
“Nothing will change even if one tells another he might betray them. Not unless he intends to make use of them, anyway.”
Gi Za reluctantly became thoughtful, but in the end, he prioritized the king’s decision.
After that the Goblin King spoke with the small feudal lords, but in the end, a conclusion wouldn’t be made until tomorrow.
There were too many things that needed thinking.
The Goblin King wanted the time to think all those through, but alas, the God of Time, Jurana, was cruel, and the time for pondering was cut short.
“Excuse me, Your Majesty, but an urgent news has come!”
Right after the Goblin King’s meeting with the small feudal lords, Zaurosh came rushing in.
“You have not been permitted an audience with the king!” Gi Za reprimanded.
But Zaurosh did not falter before and instead overpowered Gi Za’s voice.
“Elrain Kingdom has attacked the headquarters of the Kushain believers, Cultidian itself!”
If Elrain Kingdom were to get any bigger, their influence would reach even the small feudal lords.
Returning to the west was no longer an option.
“Now they’ve really done it.”
The approaching crisis caused a fierce smile to appear upon the Goblin King’s lips.