He wanted to twist that look of disdain that she showed towards his goblin self into one of anguish. He wanted to imprison the beautiful, resourceful princess who was called the ‘King’s Genius’ for absolutely no purpose at all. He wanted to destroy her as if he was tearing a fine silk cloth or smearing mud on a masterpiece.
He wanted to spend an eternity with her while keeping those dark desires a secret. He wanted her to think of him as a ‘good husband’.
He could do all this after he killed the <Dethroned Crown Prince>, Draco.
That man was not only a wall for Ri Gudang to overcome but also a ‘lid’ in this Demon Realm.
He was the only legitimate heir to the bloodline that all demons must bow down to.
The Demon Realm will return to the chaos it was in 5,000 years ago if only he was gone. Then, there will be no goblins, orcs, or trolls. All the systems will return to nothing, and everyone will return to the ‘comprehensible’ age where the strong rule over the weak.
Ri Gudang wanted to be born in that era.
He was fortunate enough to avoid a future where he would have to serve his less capable cousin but that wasn’t enough.
That <White-Haired Princess> Lakoit del Ada. Draco and the systems of the Demon Realm couldn’t be allowed to exist for him to win the beautiful princess for himself.
“Call the scouts.”
He returned his attention to the battlefield to calm himself.
Draco would have troops outside the castle for manoeuvring warfare even in a siege. Did he place 500 or 700 troops outside? There aren’t that many either way.
He would find them and beat them, or he would drive them away so that they can’t participate in battle. He would slowly cook Alunaha after preparing it. TN: These are all metaphors if you didn’t get it already…
Palmyra was probably in the vicinity but there was no place for that woman. The head chef, the one who will cook Alunaha and eat it, was him.
He looked up at the walls of Alunaha.
This castle city will soon be his. It was originally his uncle’s. He will get back what had been entrusted to him. He would rule with ease. All the property of those close to Draco will be confiscated. Interest must be paid since this city was something that had been entrusted to him.
Ri Gudang watched as his subordinate, Cartier, flew around and gave instructions as he immersed himself in this pleasant dream. His second-in-command was quite capable. She would be of great use to him when he eventually advanced to the north to obtain the <White-Haired Princess>.
A message arrived at that moment.
“Message! Approximately 2,000 soldiers under the command of the <Dethroned Crown Prince> Draco are currently engaged in combat with the bandits in the north! A portion of the bandits have already retreated!”
He saw the enemy from between the arrows.
The Lizardman Shulicia couldn’t stop his knees from shaking when he saw Ri Gudang’s 2,000 troops up close. He had no experience in combat even though he was wearing head armour. He had done some one-on-one battles, but this was the first time he had ever been in an army-to-army clash.
The feeling of dread preceded all his other feelings.
The atmosphere was not what he had imagined. Everything started at the same time, and everything was going on at the same time. It was as if he was in a fog and information was either delayed or misdirected. Shulicia was someone who made decisions after gathering and examining all the information he could get, so the current situation with its rapid changes was excruciating for him.
To make things worse, Draco wasn’t in the city.
Both Lu Gun and Dadda who are both veterans of war, have gone off to lead their units. Even La Banan, a civil official, was leading a unit. He was leading about 2,000 troops. Draco had taken all the troops who he could move under his command.
“Shulicia, is there anything I can help with?”
“Hello, Head Priestess. No, there is nothing you could help with now thanks to La Banan-sama.”
Shulicia answered without hesitation to the Head Priestess, Elena.
Draco had dispatched his entire army but that didn’t mean that Alunaha was left defenceless.
Quite a few mercenaries were in the city. The mercenaries were hired by the merchants for defence and were on loan to the Alunaha government for a limited period. Shulicia had paid the merchants a considerable amount to borrow them.
This will eventually cause a backlash.
It was irrational to borrow mercenaries who are hired to protect someone during an emergency when they are needed the most. Even so, the merchants had accepted, which was proof that Draco’s rule over Alunaha was going well.
“My stepbrother, Draco told me that he would leave the city’s defences to you. Please live up to his expectations.”
“As you wish.”
Shulicia bowed his head. He couldn’t understand this situation for the life of him.
Alunaha was a lifeline for Draco, whom Shulicia looked up to as his master. If he were to be defeated, then the <Dethroned Crown Prince’s> army would be destroyed. The army dispatched to the Human World will lose a place to go back to. So, why would he entrust the defence of such a key location to someone with no actual battle experience?
He peeked between the arrows once again. The enemy seemed to be in chaos. They were probably having a hard time deciding whether they should pursue the main force led by Draco or whether they should use all their strength to take down Alunaha.
What should he do in this situation? He stuck his tongue out of his mouth out of habit.
Shulicia didn’t understand war. He didn’t understand it, but he knew he had to do something even if he didn’t know what he should do. If he were the enemy, then what would he want most right now?
He beckoned a messenger.
“Arrows. Have the mercenaries at the top of the ramparts shoot arrows down at them.”
He looked at the back of the running messenger and retracted his tongue.
Once he had given the order, it became a starting point from which he noticed many things. The stones and hot water being dropped down on the enemy from the ramparts, and the accumulating arrows. Food, firewood, fodder, water, and combustibles.
When he thought about it calmly, he realised that the only thing he didn’t know was the enemy. There was nothing Shulicia didn’t know about his allies since Draco had put him in charge of everyone in the city in place of La Banan.
“There’s oil stockpiled in the East Warehouse. It’s probably old anyway, so let’s light it up and pour it onto the enemy from the rampart.”
“O-okay, but are you sure?”
The messenger asked anxiously. Oil was a luxury item. The messenger was worried that they were throwing it away.
“Yeah. I will take responsibility for it.
Elena, who was standing next to him and listening, smiled.
It was refreshing to hear her say that. Shulicia was responsible for commanding the city as long as Draco entrusted him with this taste, and he knew this city better than anyone else.
“Move the available mercenaries and position them at the southeast wall tower. We can be prepared for attacks from both the east and south if they’re there. Also, instruct the idle servants to transport arrows from the warehouse beneath the castle walls up to the top of the walls.”
Being excessively meticulous can be both helpful and unhelpful. Sometimes, what one believes would be good to prepare for battle may actually be an extra step. It might have been better to put arrows and spare bows in the castle walls from the beginning.
But Shulicia had it all figured out including the mistakes he had made. Now he just had to do the best he could.
Drums sounded outside the arrow room. The enemies clung to the rampart while yelling. Ri Gudang wanted to take Alunaha down first.
He wanted to make Ri Gudang regret this choice; that was the feeling that was welling up inside of him.
The trembling of his knees subsided.
There was no mercy.
They were asked to surrender many times before. These were people who had declined the generous offer of not being charged with a crime if they returned to farming. He made it clear to his soldiers that those who disobeyed his mercy were to be defeated as bandits and not former subjects.
Bandits who lacked discipline were no match for Draco’s well-trained force, but the problem was their numbers; at least 6,000 bandits in groups of all sizes were attacking villages in the forest.
“I have received a message from Lu Gun-dono, Milord. He said that he has defeated six groups to the north and three groups to the east.”
“I see. Tell him to continue from there and take out six in the north and four in the east.”
“As you wish, Milord.”
Lana, the draconis, was standing next to him. She was quite capable even though she had travelled with him in a mere travelling outfit instead of military gear since it couldn’t be prepared in time. She said that she had no military experience, but she might have an aptitude for this kind of work. This strategy was also largely based on Lana’s plan.
Draco looked down at the map in his hand.
11 vertical and horizontal lines were drawn on the large map depicting the Red Forest of Jonan. The map was divided into 100 zones by these lines and a number of things were put on this map; the troops led by Draco, Lu Gun, Dadda and La Banan and also the enemy whose positions were known.
The gist of the strategy was not to concentrate on the 6,000 enemies.
He also knew that Ri Gudang had begun his siege on Alunaha, as he had expected. He wanted to defeat the bandits and neutralise them while he still could.
He communicated with the small villages, got information about the enemies’ location and size and indicated this information on the map. The bandits were probably only given a vague order to go wild. Most of the enemies have already begun to run away. Those who continue to resist where pursued by three units and dragged out in front of Draco’s main force.
“Milord, the small clans…”
“Are they making a move?”
“A little more than half are.”
“Leave them alone for now but remember who they are. We’ll make a clean sweep when this battle is over.”
Draco had promised the small powerful clans that he would confront the bandits when the time came, but only half of them had taken him up on his promise; the other half was probably weighing the value between the <Dethroned Crown Prince> Draco and Ri Gudang.
Draco, who needed to invade the north from his base in Alunaha, had no intention of leaving those who pretend to go along with him while secretly betraying him alone. Draco will only give these small powerful clans two opinions: to become a subject or be exiled.
The Demon Realm was a huge nation with the Great Demon King at the top but there were also more than 100 small kings called Demon Kings below him. These Demon Kings also have smaller leaders called small powerful clan chiefs. This system has been the norm in the Demon Realm for the past 1,000 years.
This was also a way of living, but Draco couldn’t overlook this since a Demon King who leads these small powerful clans won’t be able to accumulate enough power to fight the <Northern Overlord> Zardish again.
It wasn’t favourable for Draco and his people to have an independent hierarchy that operates independently. The small powerful clans that actively side with Draco in his war against Ri Gudang will eventually have to be bureaucratised in a way that pulls them away from their fiefs. It was a thorny path, but he needed to build a strong nation to deal with the <Northern Overlord>.
He put his mouth to the canteen. He drank enough water to wet his lips and looked up at the sky.
Things were going well. Every little thing was meshing and progressing strongly.
He wondered if he was able to think of things like this amid battle because of that evil god. The situation had improved drastically since the time when he lost against Zardish and had to flee to the south.
It was probably a good thing that he had lost back then.
He started to think, even though he did feel shame towards the general who had lost their life in that battle. If he had won that battle, then Draco would have succeeded the throne and assumed the position of supreme ruler.
The victory would have been won by him, but it would have been more due to the power of his bloodline than his own strength. He would have had to distribute the profits to the Demon Kings who had sided with him if he had won, and power of the Demon Realm would have been greatly compromised.
But it was different now.
He had crawled on the ground and encountered the people; this had opened his eyes and now he was able to see things he couldn’t see before. He was aware of his own growth. Was that also thanks to that evil god?
He will win. He will win against the bandits and defeat Ri Gudang. He must build up strength to defeat the north.
But there was an enemy he had to defeat before he could do all that.
“Milord, it seems like she is heading this way after all.”
“I see. Get everyone into formation. She might believe she has outsmarted me, but…”
The <Succubus Princess> Palmyra.
He must defeat that evil woman.
The surprise attack was a complete success.
Draco’s unit which consisted of about 1,000 soldiers were effortlessly torn apart by the shapeshifters’ relentless onslaught. There was almost no resistance.
The soldiers’ movements were completely different. While Draco’s soldiers were caught off guard and focused on retreating, those under Palmyra’s command leapt into the enemy lines like bloodthirsty beasts. There seemed to be little difference in the quality of their equipment and their skill level. Palmyra was not losing any ground because of the momentum they were gaining.
Even Palmyra who had little experience on the battlefield could see this. This was an overwhelming victory.
“Kuku… You were careless Draco.”
Giving her everything had worked. The pleasure of the winning advantage sent shivers down her spine. For those who use schemes and tricks, a true victory was like a wine that was hard to obtain. It was precisely because of their deceptive tactics that a righteous victory tasted sweeter.
“Where are you, Draco? Where are you hiding?”
She spun her horse around to look for Draco among the enemy ranks. He was the only one who she had to break with her own hands. This thought bound Palmyra with passion that resembled a long-cherished desire. She no longer cared about the <Barbarian King> nor Pazan. She only wanted to get rid of Draco. Only the desire to kill, akin to that of love, made Palmyra excited.
Why was that?
Why was she burning for this man even though she had been involved with hundreds and thousands of others? Palmyra searched for Draco like a young innocent girl yearning for a princely young man.
Her doubts were put to rest the moment she caught sight of Draco at the edge of her vision.
They looked alike. You could say they were like two peas in a pod. Draco looked like the Great Demon King who had created Palmyra 800 years ago.
No, it may be a false resemblance because of Palmyra’s fading memory and her overlapping his young image in her mind. This was the product of a futile solitary game, where the broken fragments of a plate are painstakingly pieced together with fragments from other plates over the course of many years.
But even so, Draco, who now stood before her, was her most beloved, and most hated creator, her father, and the opposite sex who she wanted to kill.
Her lips and throat trembled as she called his name out and this feeling gave her pleasure.
Draco was standing in the left half of the enemy line with his sword out.
|TN: These are all metaphors if you didn’t get it already…