The hole was deep enough.
Lu Gun was personally in charge of directing the burial for his men in the forest. There were two bodies. They didn’t die in battle with the enemy. These two men were executed by his own hands for plundering a village.
Draco had entrusted him with the army. Lu Gun didn’t like the idea of his army committing violence. The army had been prepared in such a way that this would be considered harsh. It was a disgrace to have the reputation of his lord, Draco, smeared.
Fight and win. Lu Gun knew that there were things that couldn’t be protected by fighting and winning. Reputation was one of them.
The bandits were slowly thinning out.
Li Gudang was still sending bandits from Catania into nearby villages, but they weren’t as much of a threat as they used to be since Lu Gun and <Blue> Dadda had been doing a good job.
They were building trust with the people in the villages and gathering information. They isolated the enemy both physically and psychologically by responding quickly to bandit attacks.
Even if the bandits attack the villages, if the villagers believe that Lu Gun and his men will come and resist, then the bandits will suffer a lot of damage. They cut down the number of bandits and curbed newly joined bandits, which in turn, decreases the number of bandits.
Draco’s plan to provide fields and work to those who surrender was also getting off the ground. Now the bandits were even surrendering without fighting.
All these strategies were possible because of Draco’s fame.
That was why Lu Gun must slay his men. He could not allow Draco’s reputation to be tarnished since he might become the Great Demon King.
One of his men ran up to him as he watched the body being covered with dirt.
“Lu Gun-sama, we have just received some additional provisions from Alunaha. There is also a letter addressed to you.”
“Good job. Have everyone take a short break.”
Lu Gun thanked his subordinate then headed for the boat that carried the rations and message.
In the Great Forest, which was their battleground against the bandits, there were numerous small rivers that branched off from the Lau River. They used those branches to transport rations and other supplies. This allowed them to arrange supply trains which often tended to be delayed on land. This was why the <Dethroned Crown Prince’s> troops were able to fight without looting the villages.
The soldiers who were resting while wearing whatever they liked were from various places.
The number of farmers who came from the villages to serve in the army was dwindling, but there are those who have joined Draco under their own free will such as the former goblin merchants, kobolds who are second sons of farmers, and the Gonane.
Lu Gun welcomed his mixed subordinates.
Farmers always think of working in the fields when they are called for military service, and it was possible that having a large-scale military operation would cause a slack season. Of course, they could force people to go into battle, but the people will eventually turn away from Draco if he keeps forcing them to go into battle.
In this respect, the current soldiers were weak, but they worked only out of loyalty for Draco and greed for money. This army could move anywhere they wanted since they didn’t have land to protect.
Alunaha was providing them with ample funds. Lu Gun, who had been painstakingly organising soldiers for military service, didn’t have time to assess the funds, but considering the overall situation, he was thankful for the current state of affairs.
Lu Gun didn’t regret that he had followed the words of the Evil God and Draco. If he had continued to follow the Demon King Benan without betraying him then he would have eventually exhausted himself and became a husk somewhere. He preferred being treated as a general even if it was to a small army.
That was why…
Lu Gun was absolutely loyal to Draco. He was prepared to cut down anyone who disobeyed Draco with a stroke of his sword, even if they were his seniors.
He was ashamed of the attitude of the goblins who were being shaken by the <Barbarian King’s> succession plot. La Banan doesn’t appear in front of Draco because of his illness.
Even if La Banan was sick, he should have made it clear that he was loyal to Draco.
La Banan was the eldest son of Benan. It would arouse suspicion if he were to act indecisive. It wouldn’t be surprising for him to secretly aim for Draco’s life since Draco was his father’s enemy.
The boat that brought the supplies was moored by the riverside.
The boat had an extremely flat bottom to allow it to navigate the shallow river. It would ride the current when going downstream and when going upstream or when the boat was too shallow, the boat would be pushed by a gonane sailor. There was no one who could match the gonanes when it came to underwater jobs.
It was also a gonane sailor who had brought the letter.
“You are Lu Gun? Kaka brought you a letter from Alunaha.”
“Oh, thanks. It was sent by… Shulicia?”
Lu Gun didn’t know much about the newest addition to Draco’s inner circle. He heard that Shulicia was good at his job, but he hadn’t spoken with Shulicia much as he spent his days running around the frontlines.
He opened the letter which was carefully sealed with wax. The writer was meticulous. His handwriting was very neat.
“What? Draco-sama isn’t well…?”
Draco, who had been suffering from a mild fever and had been coughing for several days was bedridden. He couldn’t believe it. Draco, who was related to the Great Demon King, was a troll and should be more resistant to diseases than goblins. It was hard to believe that he would fall ill.
But this was an official message. If there was more to this, then it was what Draco wanted. He must treat this letter as ‘fact’. At least, that was what Lu Gun thought.
The problem was that many recipients of this will believe this and take action.
“Messenger, is there a messenger around?!”
Lu Gun called for his messenger and ordered him to contact Dadda, who was on a separate mission.
The message was that Dadda should immediately withdraw his 500 troops.
“A-an immediate withdrawal? There are still bandits around even though they have decreased in number. Are you sure?”
“I know, but it’s also thanks to Draco-sama that we were able to subjugate the bandits. I will return to Alunaha as soon as possible and protect Draco-sama.”
“Protect him? From who? Ri Gudang? Or Palmyra?”
Lu Gun bitterly spat at the messenger who kept asking more questions.
“None of them. I need to protect him from La Banan-dono.”
Shulicia sent out detailed instructions to the remaining guards in Alunaha.
He was the only one who could control Alunaha’s army right now even though he was employed as a civil official. He was wearing lizardmen-style armour and was giving out commands.
The enemy might not attack them, but they must be prepared.
The enemy will surely hear about Draco’s illness, and it was hard to believe that the <Succubus Princess> Palmyra and Ri Gudang would miss this opportunity. It would be too late once they attack. It was this thought that spurred the young lizardman into preparing for battle.
“Hurry up with the preparations for a siege. Gather arrows and stones on the walls. Keep water near the oil storehouse in case they burn it. Prepare provisions and water, as well as medicine and clean bandages to treat the wounded.”
Each of his instructions were on point. His ability as a civil official was fully being exhibited here, but they were too detailed, which made it difficult for the officers to follow his orders. An unexpected person came to give him advice.
It was Elena, the Head Priestess. She was a woman with flaming red hair which was tied up in a ponytail.
“… What’s all this fuss about?”
“Evil Priestess-dono. Thank you for making time out of your busy schedule to come see me.”
Shulicia greeted Elena politely, but he couldn’t surmise why the Evil Priestess, who was also Draco’s sister, had visited him. Shulicia, who was a lizardman, believed that the Evil Priestess should be performing her rituals in the Evil Temple, hoping for victory.
“Shulicia, it is fine for you to oversee the defense of the city, but you don’t have to go all out.”
“But Evil Priestess-dono, we do not know which power would take advantage of the fact that Draco-sama is ill. We must prepare even if we do not get everything done on time.”
“Of course, I’m not saying we shouldn’t prepare, but you’re being too hasty. It will cause unnecessary unrest among our allies and aggravate their anxiety. I think it’s important not to stir people’s anxiety and not to show an opening to our enemies.”
Shulicia and Elena had little contact with each other. Well, Shulicia was a newcomer and didn’t really have much of a relationship with any of the leaders. In part it was because Draco had discovered his talent and quickly put him to work. He was very capable, but he relied heavily on his talents.
“Don’t worry. I have already informed General Lu Gun who is on the frontline. I am sure the General will drive the enemy back should they attack us.”
“I thought my brother, I mean, Draco-sama said that there was no need to contact the frontlines.”
“I’m sure he said that because he didn’t want to make them worry about him. It is also the duty of the vassal to surmise what the King is feeling.”
Elena stopped speaking at those words. Her burning red eyes were so grim that it was inconceivable for the normal her. Shulicia smiled even though he was frightened by the eyes which looked like they could kill him. He believed being intimidated by a woman would ruin the reputation of a proud lizardman.
“Please consider this, Head Priestess-dono. I am a civil official, but I must also cooperate with the military officials. There have been many cases in the past where civil and military officials have fallen out with each other, obstructed righteous governments, disobeying the will of the heavens, and incurring the displeasure of the King. I cannot make their mistakes since I am under Draco-sama’s command.”
“… You say wise words.”
“I am sorry that you are displeased with me, but I am only doing what I am charged to do. Besides, I don’t want General <Half-Faced> Lu Gun or General <Blue> Dadda asking me why I didn’t inform them.”
Shulicia couldn’t hide his surprise when he spoke the truth.
He was afraid of incurring the wrath of the military officials.
Both Lu Gun and Dadda were known as commanders, but they were also known for their individual bravery. Shulicia finally realised that he had been intimidated by them.
It was something to be ashamed of, but he couldn’t let it show on his face.
His feelings were known by the Evil Priestess in front of them and would eventually reach Draco who was bedridden. When that happened, he, a cowardly civil official, might be abandoned. He would lose the position he had finally obtained as a slave class lizardman. That was something he absolutely wanted to avoid.
Whether or not she knew how shaken up Shulicia was, Elena turned her hell. She left without saying a word to Shulicia as if she had no more use for him.
What in the world had made the red-haired woman so unhappy? Shulicia couldn’t understand. He was preparing for a possible enemy attack. That was all there was to it. He didn’t believe that he would be blamed for contacting the frontlines.
Shulicia resumed preparations for the siege while puzzling over this. He couldn’t understand women or other species. For now, he just wanted to get rid of his feat by busying himself with work.
“Oh yeah. I should tell La Banan-dono about this.”