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Volume 3: Chapter 208 – The Map Drawn by the Tacticians (2/2)
If so, then what would the consistent King Ashtal do?
Would he accept his old age, allow his children to take precedence, and while carrying his only grandchild in his arm, bow before the Red King?
A royal family that has been ruling for 6 generations will not so easily yield. At the very least, they would seek to maintain equilibrium. As such, King Ashtal is most likely to choose to preserve his army while whittling down the Red King’s forces.
The answer was right before his eyes. The goblins who have conquered the western region and were driven out from the south by the Red King. King Ashtal could attack the goblins with the Red King, but instead of dutifully fighting, instead make the Red King fight the goblins, while sitting behind as mere spectators.
Either way, both of their enemy’s forces will be weakened.
It’s curious what the Red King is thinking, but based on their movements in the south, the Red King has already accepted their proposal. If so, then the real enemy was not Germion Kingdom to the east, but the Red King to the south. Germion Kingdom will probably only watch from the sidelines as the Red King and the goblins kill each other.
Germion Kingdom’s army was in a tight knit formation and was barely moving. And although it has sent scouts to every direction and was extremely cautious of the goblins, after taking camp half a days’ distance from the fortresses of Germion Kingdom, they have shown no signs of attacking. This was within Pale’s predictions.
Pale had no way of knowing what the Goblin King gained underground.
But what she did know was that he came 2 months later just as she told him and was now doing his best to learn to ride. As such, she had to fulfill her end of the bargain.
Pale left the room where the map was and called for a war council with the various generals protecting the western region.
“We will restrain the army of Germion Kingdom.”
Within the war council were the humans: Zaurosh of the Leon Heart Clan, the former slave siblings Shumea and Yoshu, and Yustia of the Snow Demon tribe; the demihumans: Mido of the Werewolves (Fang Tribe), Tanita of the Rizalat, Luther of the Papirsag, Tianos of the Centaurs, and Kerodotos of the Minotaurs; the goblins Gi Gu Verbena who ruled a portion of the south and Gi Jii Yubu the Battle Demon.
Felbi and the elven warriors were, of course, also present.
Pale gave a simple explanation of the situation, then she designated each leader to their respective roles.
“You seem confident. Everything is going to turn out well, right?” Shumea asked.
“Just as a swordsman bets his life upon his sword, I bet my life upon my plans. Have you ever hesitated to swing your sword in the middle of combat?” Pale replied.
Her response was so skillfully executed that Shumea was left wide-eyed.
She could only wryly smile as she raised her two hands and said, “Alright. You win.”
After that Pale continued the explanations.
As everyone came to understand the plans, everyone went their own ways.
Pale herself went with the elven warriors and advanced near Germion Kingdom’s army.
Pale watched the enemy camp from afar.
“Now, I will paint over it all.”
Entranced be the goddess of vengeance, the great tactician smiled.
King Ashtal knew this was nothing more than a diversion, but he still wasn’t about to hold back. Gulland and Sivara have surrounded Cultidian in the south. It wasn’t strange for a giant city like Cultidian with a population of 30,000 to need a year or two to be defeated in a castle siege.
Germion Kingdom had that much leeway in their economy, and it was worth it if it meant acquiring the rich southern lands. The one thing King Ashtal did not expect, however, was the Red King.
The contents of Gulland’s report were terrifying.
They coldly made use of ally and foe alike to build up the existence that was the Red King.
Carlion the Genius Tactician’s great insight… With the great charisma of Brandika at the center, it was as if there was a tornado sucking everything in without distinction in an attempt to draw a great painting. Elrain Kingdom, the Kushain believers, the goblins, and perhaps even Germion kingdom itself. Everything was being sucked in.
That was the legend of a country’s birth.
A pipe dream once accomplished by his own predecessors.
As one who has heard of the tales of the heroes a long time ago himself, it was something that King Ashtal too yearned for. If King Ashtal were a little younger and weren’t burdened with his throne, then perhaps he would have joined their cause.
But King Ashtal was the wise and great king of Germion Kingdom. Though old, the pride of being the conquerer of the western part of the continent and the responsibility to the people burdened his two shoulders. He was not in a position to yield.
The sudden rise of the Red King was a threat to the existing countries.
Already, a messenger has been sent to the Holy Shushunu Kingdom, asking for a nonaggression pact and urging the completion of an alliance. A messenger has even been sent to Pena.
King Ashtal sent the messenger under the pretense that he was doing so to congratulate them for their recent engagement. If he wished to whittle away at the enemy’s forces, then he needed a colluder from within their ranks. Such a group was bound to be within Pena, a group that was against the Red King. He needed to light that flame.
He would send a messenger telling them he wished to mend relationships and support them.
They didn’t need to start a civil war.
There was an enemy in the western region. As long as they went after the goblins and fought them, that was enough. Which is why even King Ashtal didn’t care if they themselves won, so long as they did not lose any men.
They would cause small skirmishes with the goblins to occur one after another, making it seem as if they were fighting hard.
It would hurt his pride if this were to be an actual expedition, so the army this time was mostly made up of adventurers.
“For as long as I live, I shall not lose.”
A cold winter filled those aging eyes as King Ashtal looked toward the south.
The elder council that was the decision-making body of Pena was also known as the den of the old fox monsters. It is said that they are the sort of people who would sell off their own kin to protect their profit.
There was no word more fitting to describe them than the word ‘merchant’.
They would sell anything if it turned over a profit. But as much as possible, they would sell high, as that was needed to ensure their profits and their lives.
Following that logic, their current most valued possession was none other than Pena itself, namely, Queen Raksha.
“There’s no helping it anymore, now that word has spread this far,” one of the elders said with a sigh.
The announcement of Queen Rashka and Brandika’s wedding was a surprise even to the elder council. But surprises weren’t anything unusual.
“Let’s add a condition,” one of the elders suggested. “We can accept the engagement with Queen Rashka, but they must provide an achievement that would convince the people.”
Accepting the first offer would make them a failure as merchants. Instead, they would haggle with the customer and see how high they could raise the price. That too would show how skilled they were as merchants.
“They could take over the Labyrinth City of Tortoki or they could subjugate the goblins.”
The last battle between the Blue Knights and the goblins have left the people of Pena in great shock.
The knight families, of course, but regardless whether one was for it or against it, the very thought of the nightmarish situation wherein monsters gathered together and fought together as a horde stirred up the people.
And when the people got word that the Blue Knights they were so proud of were knocked down, they were overwhelmed.
Knight Commander Aizas carried the hopes of the people. The same was true for Allen who succeeded him. Hence, the disappointing results they brought caused more and more people to lament by the day.
“You’re saying that the people want something new to rely on? Something other than the Blue Knights?”
When an elder said those words, with Allen absent, the elder council failed to hold back their laughter.
“When the labyrinth city falls, the trade deals they have will naturally fall on us.”
There were still labyrinths that haven’t been conquered. In those were not just precious metals but also precious ancient artifacts. It was rare to unearth such things, but the rarer it was the higher the price. If they could grasp that industry, then Pena was sure to make a killing.
“But wouldn’t Lord Brandika reject that deal?”
“Then in that case, we still have the Blue Knights. They might be weak now, but they’re still the Blue Knights.”
“But would Allen agree to this?’
“We’ll have him leave the capital for some time. He won’t refuse if Queen Raksha asks him to go.”
As the secret meeting of the elders ended, the wedding of Brandika and Queen Raksha was announced along with the conditions.
When Brandika heard the conditions, he smiled ferociously and chose to vanquish the goblins.
At the room that was assigned as the sick room, Carlion lay on one of the beds.
“It’s almost time.”
“Yeah. Took some time, though.”
“Not at all.”
Ever since Carlion fell sick, Brandika has been making time to visit him even though he was so busy with government affairs. He would only drop by when Carlion was feeling well, but he still couldn’t avoid seeing Carlion grow thinner by the day. Still, he never talked about it and simply talked about random things like food, war, women, and then he would leave.
This time was an exception, however, as it was at this moment that the Red King has finally become the true ruler of the south. As such, Brandika intentionally brought up the bloody topic of politics. This was the painting Carlion drew with his own life. At long last, the throne was within their grasp.
“…Are you anxious, my king?”
“…Are you kidding? I’m the man who will become king.”
Brandika smiled, but his hands were shaking a little.
“My heart won’t stop beating. I’m going to have my own country now… It’s always been a dream of mine ever since I was a brat. At long last, that dream is within reach. And all of this is because of you.”
Brandika fell silent for a moment and averted his gaze.
“Sorry… I don’t have anything to repay you with.”
“…No, Your Majesty. You’ve paid me enough. You showed me a good dream.”
When Brandika saw Carlion’s transparent smile, he forced out a sigh.
“I suppose I’ll never win against you.”
“I’m going, Carlion.”
“The fortunes of war be with you, my king.”
Like that the Red King’s armies headed for Pena.