The merchant country of Pena was buzzing over a certain topic .
The clan leader of the red King, Archduke Brandika, was to be wedded to the queen, Raksha El Pena . The queen was turning 19 and the brave and renowned archduke sought her hand in marriage . Although the elder council, which was the body responsible for making decisions in Pena, was still deliberating the topic, the people couldn’t help but talk about it .
“It hasn’t even been long since her late fiancé Lord Aizas passed…”
“But the situation in the north isn’t looking good . And I hear the Red King Clan is bigger than all of the clans in Tortoki combined . ”
By the stalls of the marketplace, which was said to be an oasis for womenfolk, in the houses of the people of Pena, along the streets, in the bar, regardless of where it was, there was only one topic on everyone’s mind .
The wedding of the queen .
Queen Raksha was popular among the people . Her grace and beauty have often led people to describe her as the flower of the desert . Although she wasn’t as popular as Saint Mira, she still had plenty of influence .
The only reason the people weren’t completely against the marriage with Archduke Brandika was because of the great influence of the Red King . Ever since the tactician of the Red King, Carlion, fainted, Brandika decided that he would be the one to decide their policies . At that, he gradually extended his influence toward the core of Pena .
In order to acquire Pena, the first thing Brandika did was to control the economy .
The Red King gradually extended their influence over the escorts of the merchants passing through the desert, the resources taken from the monsters, and the transport of goods .
The merchant country of Pena got its taxes mostly from trade . The merchants would give money to the country under the pretense of giving support in order to increase their profits . A percent of those profits would then be taken as tax and would be used to finance Pena’s treasury .
The guards used to escort the merchants crossing the desert were mostly adventurers . Until now, Pena has made several clans compete for the job and never relied on a single clan to prevent them from having too much power over them . Unfortunately, the Red King went beyond their expectations .
The clans supported by the Red King proactively took the escort jobs, while shutting out the other clans . At the same time, the Red King also promised to accept them if they submitted to them . Should they forcefully try to resist, however, they wouldn’t hesitate to use violence .
The reason they were able to do something like that was because of the decline of the Blue Knight and the great influence of the Red King’s Elrain Kingdom and Fatina . The grain-producing region of Fatina was also the supply center for the south . And that too was under the control of the Red King .
The Red King once stopped the flow of grain to Pena, but they immediately restored it .
It didn’t do much, but as far as threats threats went, it was quite successful .
Humans can’t live without food, so holding the source of food in their hands was the same as them holding their lives .
The other reason was Elrain Kingdom . Normally, a guild doing something as crazy as what the Red King was doing now, would be in breach of the guild rules . After all, the guild was supposedly a place to introduce work to the adventurers . And yet the Red King was preventing others from finding work . That was a clear breach of purpose .
But Brandika was able to avoid that by ordering Elrain Kingdom to get rid of the annoying clans . Elrain Kingdom would tell the guild to remove the clans, and the guild would obey . By taking advantage of the kingdom’s authority, the Red King was able to expel the annoying clans and buy time to strengthen their foundation .
“There seems to be a lot of resistance,” one of the Red King’s top brass, the old enchanter, Grave, said .
Brandika, who was sitting upon the throne, fearlessly laughed . “There’s no smoke where there’s no fire . At least, so long as no one starts one, anyway . ”
“Most of the clans in Tortoki have already submitted . ”
The labyrinth city state of Tortoki got its money mostly from the clans and the adventurers . They would sell the precious treasures taken from the labyrinths and sell them for a high price to various countries . With most of the adventurers having submitted to the Red King, the Red King now had enough influence to occupy a part of the Labyrinth .
“With this we have taken control of the economy . But there’s another move I’d like to play if possible,” Grave said .
Since Brandika had forcefully ordered Carlion to rest, he appointed Grave to be in charge of the diplomacy .
Currently, he was the one negotiating between the Red King and Pena .
“Just get more people from Elrain Kingdom . ”
Ever since the management of the country was left to Brandika, he has been doing things by force .
In order to purge the law, he cut the head of the top bureaucrat and executed all those who accepted bribes . As a result, he was able to both strike fear in the heart of the civil officials and eliminate the suspicious movements of the nobles toward the insurrection of the prince .
He seized properties to supplement the national treasury, allowing Elrain Kingdom to finally begin recovering from its poor financial situation . And even in the taxes of the grain producing region of Fatina, Brandika applied the same philosophy of getting the best results with the least sacrifices .
If the might of an army were to be explained in a few words, then the might of an army was numbers . Of course, quality also had to be maintained, but without the numbers, quality was bound to decline .
The path of the king was to gradually increase his forces numbers while maintaining that balance between number and quality, but Brandika held absolute faith in his ability to unify people . Hence, he gathered people from other clans and made other clans submit to him in order to increase the number and quality of his forces at the same time .
The Red King even limited the maintenance of the public order as he ordered the army of Elrain Kingdom to focus their strength on foreign campaigns .
“…Won’t our step be shaken?” Grave asked .
“If a doll is dancing, then there must be a puppeteer at the end of the thread,” Brandika replied .
“I see . Perhaps we could use that against Pena . ”
“I wouldn’t mind it if the puppeteer changed sides too . ”
“I’ll think about it . ”
Although there were ups and downs in the quality of the bureaucrats leading the country, their abilities were by no means bad . Normal farmers couldn’t read, but they could and they could even do math on top of that . In that sense, they were quite useful .
The Red King used Elrain Kingdom as fertilizer to expand itself .
After Brandika saw Grave off, he opened the windows, and the desert wind blew against him .
His red hair fluttered in the wind like a lion’s mane as he narrowed his eyes .
“Just wait a little bit more, Carlion . It’ll be over soon . ”
A fierce smile appeared on his lips as Carlion sought to gain even more power .
It has been two months since Cultidian has holed up inside its castle and Germion Kingdom’s Sivara the Ripper Knight surrounded them . They have been saving up their food, so there was still plenty of food left to go . They also had their walls, so their siege weapons were still in good condition . Also, due to the faith of the people, they were still willing to fight . In fact, the people believed in the teachings of Kushain and in Saint Mira so much that they wouldn’t mind becoming soldiers themselves .
Sivara knew that, so he immediately gave up on the idea of forcing their way through . King Ashtal had informed him in private that Cultidian would belong to him the moment it fell . Sivara hated needless blood shed, so even if Cultidian did capitulate immediately, he wouldn’t persecute the Kushain believers .
“Young master! The ballistae are ready,” said an old instructor whom Sivara had brought here from the region .
Sivara nodded with a wry smile . “Good . But let’s wait for a while . ”
As Sivara said that, he wielded his bow with one hand and rode his hipparion toward the castle walls .
“Y-Young master! It’s dangerous!”
The old instructor chased after him in a panic, but then Sivara spoke in a loud voice .
“I am Sivara Bandier! Pass this to her holiness!”
Sivara pulled on the bowstring that had been tightened by three people  and shot his arrow above the castle walls . The arrow cut the wind as it fell and pierced the castle walls .
“Sivara!? Isn’t that the enemy supreme commander!?”
“Is he the real thing?”
The arrow had pierced the upper part of the castle walls, which was near the commander in charge . The situation was chaotic, but the commander in charge ordered to shoot at Sivara anyway, and a volley of arrows rained from the castle walls, only for Sivara to calmly turn heel and go back to his camp .
“Young master! You can’t be so reckless!”
Sivara wryly smiled as he listened to his old tutor’s sermon . Eventually, the old tutor realized something and asked him a question .
“What message did you send them?” The old tutor asked .
Sivara wryly smiled upon seeing how good the old tutor’s eyes were . “I asked her holiness to surrender . ”
“Ohh! As expected of you, young master, it seems you have grown quite a bit . And here I thought for sure you were just playing around . ”
“Please . Even I can think properly from time to time . ”
“If only your father could’ve seen this, he would’ve surely, surely! …Now, then! Please give the order to shoot the ballistae!”
One moment shedding tears, the next moment full of vitality as the old tutor petitioned him to give the order to shoot .
“About that… Let’s wait a bit more,” Sivara said with a yawn as he listened to the old tutor’s scolding and felt the wind passing through the meadows .
It was the commander nearby who found Sivara’s arrow . He was quite shaken by the power behind that arrow, which was enough to make it stick into the stone wall . As frightened as he was, however, he still left the walls to his aide and took the letter attached to the arrow to Mira .
Although he wasn’t doing this because he wished to obey Sivara’s orders, he still brought it to Saint Mira .
Mira was in the middle of a war conical at the time, but she gave him permission to report .
“The enemy general has sent a letter!” The commander said .
“Thank you,” Mira replied .
The commander triumphantly returned to the post after having been given the opportunity to have an audience with Mira, but when Mira saw the contents of the letter, she couldn’t help but chuckle . The generals present in the war council were puzzled, but she then handed the letter to Vilan Do Zul, who immediately frowned upon seeing the contents . A rare case considering he was usually expressionless . Vilan passed the letter to the general next to him .
“Oh my beautiful Mira Vi Burnen… Why! T-This is a love letter!” The old commander exclaimed as he slammed the letter into the table and flushed beet red in anger .
“It seems the enemy commander is quite the interesting individual,” Mira said .
Those remarks of hers that suggested she was not as dissatisfied as others would believe left the generals groaning in anger . To the old generals, Mira held two identities, both of which deserved respect . One was that of their matriarch and the other was that of the saint . They saw her as if she was their beloved daughter .
The next day .
Sivara approached the castle walls on hipparionback to receive his reply, but for some reason, arrows rained ever more fiercely than yesterday . On top of that, the people atop the walls were jeering at him .
“Young master! They seem even more aggressive today!” His old tutor exclaimed .
“Strange… Was my demand for a surrender too effective?”
“A strong foe that can sharpen one’s blade is hard to come by . Now! Please give the order to shoot!”
As of this time, Cultidian and Sivara’s forces have yet to clash properly . Both sides were still feeling each other out .
When the goblins saw the Goblin King return from the depths of the Fortress of the Abyss, they all heaved a sigh of relief and prostrated themselves in awe . To the Goblin King it seemed as if only a few days had passed, but in truth, it had already been 2 months .
Gathered in that place was Gi Ga Rax the knight calls, Hal of Paradua, Gi Be the one armed who managed to evolve into a noble class, and Gi Go Amatsuki the Sword King .
“You’ve returned safely, my king,” Gi Ga Rax knelt and bowed his head as the king appeared from the shadows .
It was as if the very shadows had gathered together and been born . That was the impression Gi Ga got from the king .
Although the Goblin King was only about 2 meters tall, but compared to when he was but a king class, the lone horn extending from his forehead stood up against the heavens, almost as if seeking to oppose its will; beside it were two more horns like those of a bull .
The Goblin King’s skin was now also much closer to that of a monster beast than that of a goblin, being covered with short black body hair . His mouth was like that of a snake, sticking out from time to time .
The fangs that could be seen within were enormous like a saw of some sort . Especially, for his canine teeth, which were conspicuously big . The Goblin King’s muscles hadn’t particularly grown compared to when he was a mere king class, but they were much denser now . In fact, they seemed so condensed that they could burst at any time .
Black hair extended from his head to his back, all the way to the tip of his tail like a cockscomb . On his feet that firmly stepped upon the ground were strong claws that clawed at the ground .
The Goblin King’s eyes that hadn’t seen the light of day in a while seemed to be a deeper crimson than even that of blood . On his arms were countless proofs of being a servant of the gods . What was most eye-catching of all, however, was the golden body hair that coiled around him from his waist to his neck . It was as if a snake had coiled itself around him .
The black body hair reaching out from under his chin was like a beard that gave dignity to the king, and the tail behind the king gave a strong image to the goblins as the king spoke .
When the king spoke, the very souls of the goblins stirred .
“Nothing has changed, I take it?”
An elven warrior appeared before the dignified king . He ran here to report the situation without even bothering to dust himself off . On his blue silver steel armor were countless scars owing to the lack of time for maintenance .
“A message from Pale,” Felbi said with an uncouth smile . “She says she’ll be waiting at the colonial city . ”
The Goblin King nodded and gave orders to the goblins, starting with Gi Ga .
Behind Gi Ga were all rare goblins, so the Goblin King knew that Pale had succeeded in her plans to conquer a dungeon .
“Proud and strong warriors who stand before me! The time has come! This time the song of victory shall sound for us all!”
At the Goblin King’s bellows, Gi Ga Rax and the rest of the goblins raised up their weapons and howled back .
When the Goblin King arrived at the colonial city, the tactician, Pale, and the leader of the monster army, Gi Gi Orudo, welcomed him .
“It is good to see that you returned safely,” Pale said with that ever cold expression of hers to which the Goblin King nodded generously
“These are monsters that Lord Gi Gi caught,” Pale gave a simple explanation, then Gi Gi himself stepped forward .
“We caught a satiable monster for you, Your Majesty . It’s an andoryu sarkus, a dreadful carnivorous horse,” Gi Gi said proudly .
When the Goblin King saw the monster beast, he was shocked .
The monster was two heads bigger than the king and had four powerful legs . It was covered in brown hair everywhere except fo its hooves which were covered with red hair . But what was most different compared to a normal horse was the head at the end of its long neck . On its head was only one eye and a giant mouth torn mouth from which saw-like teeth could be seen .
The monster steed violently shook its head, making it seem as if even the bridle itself would break . It seemed as if it would even eats its rider where he to ever let his guard down around it .
“Gi Gi… Can this monster be ridden?” The Goblin King found himself asking .
“It might not be possible for the others, but I’m sure you’ll be able to, Your Majesty,” Gi Gi said .
In other words, the other monsters could not accommodate him, the Goblin King thought .
“You have one month . Please do become able to ride it,” Pale said calmly as she looked at the other goblins as well .
The dreadful carnivorous horses were also given to other goblins whose classes were above noble, while a hipparion, a three-eyed wild horse, was given to the rest .
The dreadful carnivorous horse that was given to the king was even bigger than normal, so the Goblin King couldn’t help but groan a little when it was suddenly pushed to him .
“I have to return to the front lines,” Pale said hesitatingly .
“Are the humans attacking?” the Goblin King asked .
“There is movement from the western region and the south, but it’s fine… We won’t lose as long as I’m around,” Pale gallantly turned heel and excused herself from the king’s presence .
The remaining 400 goblins along with the Goblin King began their own harsh battle of learning how to ride .
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