Sorry for posting it late! I’ve been sick ;-;
The Academy is an educational institution that gathers the children of nobles between the ages of thirteen to fifteen. The Academy teaches them the Sacred Code and the laws of the Kingdom, as well as economics, history, geography, ethics, the languages and culture of the surrounding kingdoms, and an outline of other subjects. They also have research institutions for those who want to further their education and is the only school in the kingdom that has educational and research facilities.
It’s natural that noble children are educated to a certain extent in their own homes, but it is said that the Academy was established to thoroughly educate nobles on the national laws, which are based on the Sacred Code, administered by the Church.
Therefore, as a general rule, the noble children are enrolled in the Academy and study and live on the Academy’s premises in an attempt to unite with the other domestic nobles.
Except for winter holidays, students needed to submit an application to the Academy and get permission from their head of house to go out, and those who aren’t researchers, teachers or nobles who aren’t students, are not allowed to enter the Academy.
Because of those conditions, the Academy, which occupies a huge area in the southwestern part of the Royal Capital, is built similarly to a city, and has formed its own unique society commonly referred to as ‘The Second Royal Capital’.
Well, this closed society isn’t an obstruction to me, since I’m my own head of house and can give myself permission to go out.
In any case, I’ve already applied for permission to go out on the third day of school.
It was for the final battle with Rindarl.
After the hectic events of the entrance ceremony and orientation, it was on the third day after arriving at the dormitory that I finally felt comfortable.
I visited Ergnard, who was also busy in the Royal Capital, and we read through dangerous documents such as the Rindarl Intelligence Report, that the current Earl Jugfena had sent to me.
As soon as we finished reading the documents, there was no room to rest before we started preparing for battle. There was something in the latest report that I couldn’t ignore. The information about them preparing for battle by assembling a large amount of food and men in Densel is concerning, but the top secret information which indicated a possible defector found in the passages that described the people of the enemy unit is something I couldn’t ignore.
He was a young man, a little over 20, with brown hair and brown eyes. His knife wounds are frighteningly accurate, and he has noticeable burn marks all over his body.
I grasped the chain on my left wrist. I still dream of that day, and spend many sleepless nights having nightmares about him.
“Do you think it’s possible that he can be your attendant?”
“Even though he’s in the enemy army?”
“You said it yourself. Kamil wasn’t there. You said that it was possible that he might have been kidnapped judging from the traces that had been left in the corridor. Prisoners of war aren’t that uncommon, are they?”
“That’s… yes. But it’s also possible that he disappeared of his own free will.”
But it’s also possible that Kamil hadn’t died in the first place. I’m still not sure if that badly burnt young man is Kamil or not, so I have no choice but to look for him.
“… Well, it doesn’t change what you have to do on the battlefield, even if he is the person you’re looking for.”
Before long, Ergnard sighed and said,
“It hasn’t even been three days since you’ve entered the Academy…”
“The barbaric Rindarl don’t care about considerations or being boorish.”
Hah, I also sighed. I guess I’ll be leaving the capital the day after tomorrow since I’m going to the House of Lords meeting for a day, and then a strategic meeting with the royal army for a day. I’ve been in the capital for less than five days and I’m already making a U-turn.
“Dear me… so it’s Densel again, huh? They never learn, do they? Are the other three Dukedoms just going to sit on the sidelines this time?”
“You’re smiling, Eliza.”
“Oh, my bad. It’s not like I enjoy going onto the battlefield.”
“Of course, Densel wouldn’t learn their lesson. As you know, the battle where they put in everything they had, and even their sudden skirmish was crushed by a single girl. Their honour must be torn to shreds. They can’t let the war end until they win at least once.”
As he said this, Ergnard looked at me in amusement and laughed. I brushed him off nonchalantly but snorted in my mind.
“Honestly, I don’t like that my precious foster child is being called a cruel or cold-blooded Earl by a bunch of foolish nobles because of Densel.”
“I didn’t mean for things to get exaggerated.”
“Well said. You’ve rampaged long enough… Come out when you’re done. You can make it to today’s House of Lords’ meeting if you hurry.”
He said, before quickly leaving the room. I also rushed to pack my weapons and followed after him. I was supposed to be absent from today’s meeting, but I don’t know when the intelligence report will be brought up at the House of Lords, so it would be better for me to attend as much as possible. Well, judging from the contents, it will probably be brought up today at the earliest and tomorrow at the latest.
I raised my left arm in front of me again and shook the thin chain on my wrist. The chain made the same thin clinking sound as it had on the day when it dropped onto my pillow.
“… Let’s go. I feel bad for Densel, but I’ll have them go along with my childish outbursts for a while longer.”
The thought of the young man covered in burn scars reminded me of Kamil on that day. He got badly burnt on my behalf, was covered in blood, cut down enemies one after the other, finally collapsed, and the sound of his heartbeat weakening ―――.
I set aside the matter about him maybe being alive, and just that memory of him filled my head with cold hatred and murderous intent.
War isn’t free; it costs money and consumes human resources.
The Arxian army is still winning, but Densel Dukedom, is being compensated with the lives of the people that we have taken prisoner in the previous battles instead of reparations. It’s surprising that the soldiers can go a year without revolting or breaking away. I don’t know if the soldiers don’t understand the situation or if it’s because they don’t have soldiers who would do that, but I’m impressed with their skill.
It cost a lot of money to even keep hundreds of prisoners alive… Since they have no intention of paying reparations or signing a ceasefire agreement, why don’t we kill the prisoners after the post-war limit of a month? If it’s useless to keep them alive, then there’s no need to feed them free food. Such brutal thoughts easily came to my mind when my mind had become completely chilled.
As expected, we talked about Rindarl’s movements in the House of Lords. I’m sure the Upper House of Lords’ members have quickly completed their examination of the intelligence report.
“People and supplies are being gathered in Eris, a city along the current border of Densel Dukedom. According to the report from the scouting party of our Knight Order, they have about 30,000 men gathered in Eris, but the amount of supply they have is too great for their army. It’s highly likely that something else is going on.”
Ergnard was participating in the meeting in place of Wiegraf, who couldn’t leave Jugfena. I already knew what he was going to say, but I listened carefully to the supplementary explanation of the enemy movements.
Densel’s movements were clearly an attempt to increase their troops. But the problem was where they were getting their manpower from.
Planates Dukedom, which was originally friendly towards Arxia, wasn’t directly involved in the war itself. They only demanded that Arxia return their Princess, the current Queen, who had triggered the war, and her son, the First Prince Albert, or improve their treatment. No, they were providing supplies to Densel behind the scenes, but in public, they are expressing their contempt towards Densel’s forceful war declaration and use of force and are refusing to participate in the war. Since their land is being managed by Rindarl, Densel troops are still allowed to march through there.
The problem is the two remaining kingdoms: Parmigran and Giograd. We have no diplomatic relations with these two kingdoms, and they are far from us, so we have no information on them.
Both kingdoms are highly commercialised, so we barely managed to find out that they were selling weapons and supplies to Densel, but we can’t tell what they think of the war itself, or how they want it to end.
If Parmigran and Giograd were to send out troops, then the liabilities of this war would expand even further. It’s true that we’re dealing with a single kingdom, Rindarl, but Rindarl has only been established for a year, so each kingdom must still have a strong sense of individuality. And the liabilities of war are generally the lives of the citizens. Unlike food, money and land, for someone out there, that liability will never be made up for in any way.
“… There’s a few things I would like to report here about Rindarl’s movements.”
A quiet voice penetrated the murmuring voices in the House of Lords. Silence fell like a receding wave, and all eyes turned to the speaker, Margrave Freche.
“What would you like to report…?”
“Rindarl… I want to talk about the movements of Giograd in the south, and about the messenger from Jenhans who recently came knocking on the border gate in my fief.”
There are no accurate maps of the southern nations as their lands always expand and shrink and the names of their kingdoms increase and decrease, making it impossible to draw a map of the southern nations.
Margrave Freche probably drew up a map of the current power structure of the major kingdoms in the south and presented it to the House of Lords.
“This is something that I’ve only shared with Luctfeld and the Upper House of Lords since I’m the only one who’s collecting information about the southern nations… but, judging from the movements of the neighbouring kingdoms, I believe there may be a connection.”
There are four kingdom names written on the map: Jenhans, Nazriq, Epadena and Paktushuki.
… Paktushuki, the only name that Kamil and I had shared with each other seven years ago, is a kingdom located at the southern tip, slightly to the west. Jenhans is a kingdom located around the eastern edge of Arxia’s south, and Epadena is quite large for a southern kingdom; they occupy the south-eastern edge of the continent, and Nazriq has no land.
“Nazriq lost in a war with Epadena at the end of last spring and became a ruined nation. Epadena has taken advantage of that war to further expand its power and is continuing to engulf the surrounding small nations.”
Epadena’s leader seems to be a very stubborn expansionist. He continues to defeat and engulf neighbouring nations into his territory without taking into account any cultural or ethnic differences.
It is said that the southeast is being subjugated by Rindarl, so I wonder if Epadena has received Rindarl’s intervention.
“But doesn’t that happen all the time in the south?”
Someone spoke up and there were whispers of agreement all around.
If that didn’t happen, then nations wouldn’t violently rise and fall. It’s a never-ending struggle as nations expand and shrink, split up or become independent because they can’t keep their boundaries. And that basically involves the intervention of other nations, either directly or indirectly.
“It does. But at the same time, the invasion of Epadena is somehow different this time… The war between Epadena and Nazriq ended after four years of continuous fighting.”
Four years… It took four years?
Ergnard moved beside me. He is much more in touch with concrete numbers than I am. He knows all the costs associated with maintaining and operating a force.
You need national power to wage war. Even more so if you want to preserve the frontline. That power can be the human resources needed to maintain the troops and armies, the resources and materials needed to maintain weapons, or the reserves in the national treasury needed to maintain a nation in turmoil due to war.
And nations that are in constant danger of being invaded and plundered, and are in such a state of flux that they can’t even make it onto maps, can’t afford to increase their national strength.
“So that’s when Rindarl intervened?”
“Yes. Rindarl… or rather the two nations were competing to buy weapons and supplies from Giograd. Or should I say, they were being bought.”
Giograd was selling weapons and food on loan to both nations to make the war longer and more intense.
“How were the debts paid?”
Those words came out of my mouth.
There was a clear disparity between Giograd and Epadena, enough so that it made it impossible to hope for a decent transaction. In addition, Epadena must have been stagnant for four years due to their conflict with Nazriq. Unlike Arxia, Epadena isn’t a nation that can develop its economy while fighting on a scale that can be seen on a map.
What the heck can Epadena use to pay off their debt? I asked since I had a bad feeling about this, and the Margrave smiled ironically at me.
“… I don’t believe that you’re as vicious as the rumours around the capital say.”
I wondered what he was talking about all of a sudden, but the Margrave shook his head.
“It does seem true that your idea is something that can only come from knowing evil. It’s no wonder that those who have little to do with warfare wonder why you can do such a brutal thing.”
“… Ignorance is an unforgivable sin for a noble.”
I heard a scornful laugh from somewhere in the hall. It came from where the northern nobles were.
“I understand that anything is pathetic when things go too far. Now, I’m sorry for shifting the subject. Let’s get back to what we were talking about. Epadena paid Giograd with humans.”
Humans… My bad feeling was spot on. I looked away from the Margrave for a moment.
But now it’s clear. Giograd intervened with the southern nations to get slaves… human resources.