Negotiations between the Red King and Pena were conducted in a town called Kaluan, which was situated a day’s distance from the capital . They discussed various things such as Queen Raksha’s marriage, cooperation in battle, whether Brandika would be interfering in their politics or not… etc . This meeting was meant to establish the framework of their cooperation .
On the way back from the meeting…
Brandika and the elder council made a bold display of their relationship as they want back on the main road . Brandika and one of the elders of Pena were having a pleasant discussion . They had 10 soldiers for their escort . These men were provided by Pena and were the leasts number of guards they could afford to give .
Suddenly, a group of men appeared before Brandika .
The men yelled angrily and pulled out daggers and swords . In the blink of an eye, the area turned into a noisy exchange of yells . Surprised, the guards were taken down before they could react and several of the assailants were taken down by Brandika’s fist .
The clan leader of the clan coalition, Brandika, was indeed strong . Seeing him take down his assailants aloofly with only his fists greatly encouraged the guards and they soon forced the assailants to retreat .
“T-Thankfully you’re safe,” the elder said with a smile of adulation .
Brandika glanced at him and grabbed the jewel by his chest . It’s the tool often used by adventurers to inform their friends of their location when they’re in an emergency, but the number of people that could understand its purpose were few . Brandika looked coldly at the elder he was happily talking to awhile ago, then he ordered the adventurers that came to help escort them . Brandika didn’t say another word until they got to the outer part of town .
Brandika ignored the panicking elder, then he went to the outer part of town where the camp of the Red King was and gave orders as he would in battle .
“Archduke, please wait!”
The elder seemed to know what was about to happen, so he clung to Brandika’s legs to try and stop him .
“Go back and tell your council . You wanted a fight? Well, you have it,” Brandika said .
The elder visibly paled and the Red King’s army orderly stood in a line . The battle flag fluttering by the desert wind . Its sharpened would soon pierce itself into Pena .
“You should carry this thing away and prepare for battle,” Brandika said to the remnants of Pena’s guards . By ‘thing’ he was referring to the elder .
The elder fell when he heard that, and the remaining guards took him back to Kaluan .
Seeing that, Brandika called Saldin .
“Send a messenger . We will attack afterwards . ”
“Sending a messenger is Grave’s job… Ohh, so that’s what you meant . ”
Saldin suddenly realized what Brandika was getting at, and he picked out a messenger and sent him to Kaluan .
The person he chose was brimming with pride and conceit . A person clearly unfit to be messenger .
Negotiations weren’t necessary from the start . For all Brandika cared, Kaluan could either attack or bow in servitude, but it was still preferable for the Red King for Kaluan to attack . There was a day’s distance until Pena’s capital from Kaluan .
The Red King wanted to use Kaluan as a foothold to take Pena down before they even had time to attempt negotiations . Fortunately, the Blue Knights, who were most likely to get in their way, were out in the north with Allen to watch for attacks from the goblins .
“Raise the flags!”
Saldin knew the messenger wouldn’t be coming back, so he gave the order to advance .
“Cut open a path for the king! Rouse your spirits, you bastards!”
With rumbling-like battle cry, the red King advanced toward Pena . In just two days, the capital fell and Queen Raksha fell in their hands .
When the knight commander of the Blue Knights, Allen, got word that the capital had fallen, he was so shocked that he dropped his sword .
“And Queen Raksha?” Allen asked as he grabbed the messenger by his collar .
The messenger could only flinch as he reported that her status was unknown .
“For what . . For what reason have I been fighting!? Aizas… Princess…”
Seeing the commander so down that his eyes couldn’t even settle on a single point, his soldiers couldn’t find it in them to talk to him .
“…Commander, we need to fight the deciding battle with the Red King!”
As such, one of the staff officers took it upon himself to talk to Allen .
“The deciding battle?”
“Yes . If we include the mixed army, we have 6,000 soldiers here . If we bring all of these to the capital, then—”
“I bring word from the capital!”
While they were getting excited, an old man claiming to be a messenger came riding on a horse .
“Knight Commander Allen, are you here!?” The messenger asked .
“So, you were safe,” Allen said .
The messenger was an elder whom Allen was acquainted with . The elder nodded to him, then assumed a dignified pose .
“I’ve come to bring you the queen’s message . Return the army and go back to Pena . These are the words of the queen herself . ”
“Is she safe!?”
When the messenger nodded, Allen closed his eyes a little .
Returning to Pena would mean accepting the Red King, and even if Queen Rashka was safe, she would probably still fall to the clutches of the Red King . And the Blue Knights might be used to the point of trying to crush them . It wouldn’t be strange if Allen refused this order right now .
“I understand . If those are the queen’s orders, then I shall comply . ”
“…You’ve chosen well . ”
At the queen’s behest, Allen brought his army back to the capital . Hearing of the movements of Pena’s capital and the Red King along the way, Allen couldn’t help but groan at how good Brandika was . He conquered Kaluan in one day and immediately sent his army to the capital .
That speed was truly like a flash . The capital didn’t even have time to defend itself before falling . But because they took one day to take down Kaluan, they still ended up giving the minimum needed time for Pena’s capital to evacuate some people . The queen fell into their hands, but most of the elders were able to return to their respective regions were their own factions had much influence . The people the Red King was able to take prisoner was just the queen and a few other people .
Presently, Brandika was with Queen Raksha at the capital and was subjugating the fleeing armies of the elders .
“Although our attempts at diplomacy may not have gone well… Don’t you think the Red King might have planed this?” The elder said .
Allen nodded . “He dispersed the elders against him to their respective lands and are now hunting them . At a glance, it seems like he messed up, but he didn’t take much – if any at all – losses to his overwhelming army, and is now attempting to encroach even into the foundation of the elders . ”
The source of Pena’s wealth was trade . It is possible that the Red King realized that if they were to allow the elders, who carried Pena’s foundation with them, to form trade routes and spread their roots, they might not be able to absorb as much of Pena as they otherwise could .
If it were Carlion, he would probably gather the elders into one place and then lop off their heads .
That way is much more effective, but Brandika didn’t consider just the efficiency of the army, but also the future . He created a reason for war, sent a messenger, and then and only then did he take down Kaluan . He did send a messenger .
Seeing how Brandika even avoided rubbing the feelings of the people the wrong way, Allen couldn’t help but groan .
Allen thought of the goblins to the north . They managed to inflict much damage to the giant goblin in the last battle, but they still ended up letting him go .
Seeing the state of Pena now, the goblins probably won’t miss this opportunity to attack .
As Allen voiced out his concern, the elder thought of something and said, “Ahh, you might not know of this, but Germion Kingdom has already started to advance west . Their objective is none other than to subjugate the goblins with Brandika, or so the man himself said enthusiastically . ”
As Allen became thoughtful, he couldn’t help but ponder the path to Pena’s revival .
When word of Pena’s fall reached Germion Kingdom and Pale, both King Ashtal and Pale were shocked . Especially, Pale, who cursed her naivety as she revised her plans . She worked the whole night without sleeping and sent orders to all sides .
“Brandika Rual Fatina…”
That was the ringleader of her mortal enemy and a great wall that stood before her . Normally, now would be the prime moment to attack Pena, but the forces of the Goblin King wasn’t ready yet . These 3 months were meant to give just enough time for Pale to hold on while they created a force strong enough to fight the Red King .
It wasn’t actually difficult to defend an attack from the Red King from the south . After all the area from the southern borders to the western capital was full of monsters; hence, so long as scorched earth tactics were used, the goblins had an advantage .
But the Red King didn’t do as Pale expected and instead went on to annex Pena . Should they successfully absorb Pena’s wealth, then the size of the Red King’s army can be expected to double .
The increase in supplies and number of soldiers meant that the army would be able to take their time should they attack in the future .
“What an honest move . ”
No surprise attacks or schemes . Just straight up macro, hoping to make a big enough army that could wipe out whatever insignificant resistance his enemy puts up . But that was exactly what Pale feared the most . The Red King had a weakness . No doubt about that . But Pale needed enough time to reveal that weakness, as well as fulfill certain conditions . Just because someone had a weakness doesn’t mean they would immediately lose .
At this point, Pale decided to gamble even her own life .
“We will drag the Red King into battle . ”
To that end, she would have to do something about Germion Kingdom, whose army was right before her . They have already been facing each other for 6 days . It should be almost time .
Under her she had the Leon Heart Clan’s Zaurosh, the battle slave siblings: Yoshu and Shumea, Yustia and her Snow Demon tribe, Mido of the werewolves, Tanita of the Rizalat, Luther of the Papirsag, Kerodotos of the minotaurs, Gi Gu Verbena, the goblin who ruled the southern area, Gi Jii Yubu the Battle Demon, and Felbi and the elves . A diverse army .
The humans numbered 500, the demihumans numbered 400, the goblins numbered 500, and the elves numbered 100, totaling to 1,500 soldiers all in all .
Pale ordered the goblins to reveal themselves to the enemy while she took the demihumans and humans to build their camp . But of course Germion Kingdom should have been able to see through that . After fortifying their defenses and sending scouts to every direction, Germion Kingdom’s army should have been able to infer that Pale intended to fight a long battle .
Presently, Germion Kingdom has dug their moats deep and have fortified their fences . Smoke could also be seen billowing from their camp at a certain time every day . It is likely that this smoke is from cooking .
“They’re not letting up . They’re not quite at Gowen Ranid’s level, but they’re no slouch themselves either . ”
As Pale explained their plans, she described the enemy commanders as such .
After completing the camp, Pale’s forces slipped in the dark of the night and gradually cut down on the enemy numbers, while increasing the number of cooking smoke coming from their side .
Pale dispatched a small number of elven platoons to hunt the enemy scouts . At the same time, she divided the goblins into two groups and ordered them to regularly show themselves before Germion Kingdom . And then on the dawn of the 7th day, Pale ordered the platoon that left the camp to attack the enemy camp .
Smoke was billowing from the front part of their camp as usual, so Germion Kingdom was taken by surprise and were forced to retreat . Seeing that, Pale ordered the goblins to pursue . Gi Gu Verbena led the southern goblins and fiercely attacked the fleeing humans, while Gi Jii Yubu caused the human formations to collapse without straining themselves too hard .
After pushing Germion Kingdom’s army to the border, where the eight fortresses were, Pale turned the army around and immediately ordered the platoons in camp: the swordsmen led by Shumea, the Rizalat, and the Papirsag to go south .
“Sorry to point this out, but we probably won’t be able to defend this position with just this many,” Shumea said .
Pale nodded . “I’ll send reinforcements . There will be a lot, so make sure to use them well . ”
Shumea couldn’t understand where Pale was going to pull out so many soldiers, but Pale didn’t answer her and simply turned heel and left .
Pale then led the centaurs, who were also in the camp, to use their superior mobility to go ahead of the army to scout the area and run to the borderlands .
Upon arriving at the border of the borderlands, Pale started constructing a fortress . Pale sent Yoshu and Zaurosh to go back to the western capital to get more people to construct the fortress . The goblins will be their escort, then she ordered the centaurs to look for any enemies in the border .
After constructing the fortress in five days, they once again departed without even sparing time to rest .
They occupied the empty borderlands, made camp, then Pale gave the order for the centaurs to attack .
“I will paint over the painting you’ve painted . ”
As Pale uttered those heartless words, she began her plan to drag the Red King into battle .
Pena’s Blue Knights returned to the capital after they were relieved of their duties to defend the north . In between the borderlands and Pena could be seen the mixed army, which was made up of many clans .
At the request of the queen, the knight commander of the Blue Knights, Allen, brought the Blue Knights into the command of the Red King . Naturally, Brandika was elated to have another powerful force added to his numbers .
After Allen led the official army into the Red King’s ranks, Brandika sent him to the region the elders had secluded themselves in .
Seeing Brandika send them showed just how considerate he was, so the members of the Blue Knights, who had prepared themselves for Allen’s execution, heaved a sigh of relief .
The mixed army which was tasked to defend the north would also come under the Red King’s command, but after they sent word that they were under attack, Brandika carefully scrutinized the information .
Presently, in order to establish the Red King’s government, they have dispatched their army toward the various lands of the elders . As such, they were currently in a civil war, but it was only a matter of time before they ended it . The difference in number, quality, and morale of soldiers was simply too great . There was no chance for the Red King to lose .
Moreover, they also have an alliance with the northern Germion Kingdom, and the Kushain Believers were as good as dead . They also pushed the goblins back north just recently . So, there was no reason for them to prolong the civil war .
Elrain Kingdom was already as good as the Red King’s, and it was unlikely that Pena would unify itself and strike back; hence, Brandika believed it was only matter of time before he conquered Pena and announce his dominion to the continent . But then like a fish bone caught in his throat, there was yet one more existence bugging him .
The goblins and the monsters .
He had just chased them away to the north and he has even heard that Germion Kingdom has sent an army to fight them, but despite that they were once again baring their fangs toward them . Brandika couldn’t understand it . What was their goal?
Another thing that interested Brandika was the existence of a Goblin King, which Saldin and Allen had spotted .
Monsters generally didn’t quarrel with the strong . For example, a goblin would never pick a fight against a great fire speckled bear, and an orc would never pick a fight with a dragon . After all, they knew instinctively that there was no chance for victory . If there were such a creature who would pick a fight despite that, then the only way to describe that creature is ‘insane’ .
The same principle should hold true even in large-scale battles . The goblins were one-sidedly driven away from the south, so it didn’t make sense that they would attack again after a short time .
“Unless… There’s something greater behind the goblins . ”
Brandika believed that monsters wouldn’t go against their instinct to fight the strong, but there were always exceptions . For example, what if there was an existence greater than a Goblin King hiding behind the goblins?
If the Goblin King himself were nothing more than a pawn, then that would mean the existence of a much powerful monster . As Brandika thought that, he became very interested .
If so, then the goblins are unlikely to stop their attack against the south . After all, they had an ally greater than the enemy that drove them away . That ally might make an appearance next .
But then again there was also that declaration made by the Goblin King before . The declaration stating that they were founding their own country .
It was information from a spy working in Germion Kingdom, who said that he heard the Goblin King say just that when he left with the people of the Western Capital . If you cut out the flowery words, that was basically a declaration of war from the monsters to the humans .
A bold and imposing declaration of war .
But only a king would be able to achieve such a feat .
“Are they concerned about the south then?”
Brandika tried putting himself in the shoes of his enemy . How would he move if he were them? In the end, his way of thinking was that of a human’s, but the south was certainly attractive . It had a lot of land, had people, and had wealth . It was a much tastier prey compared to Germion Kingdom .
“But… Do monsters even need wealth?” Brandika scratched his head, then placed his chin atop his fist . “What if they wanted to eat humans? …No, that doesn’t add up . ”
Brandika knew that the Leon Hearts Clan and the Elks Clan were working with them . If the Elks are with them, then that’s probably impossible . This might sound strange, but Brandika actually liked the Elks Clan .
Elks was a clan that crawled its way out from the slums with their clan leader, Touri . It wasn’t difficult to imagine how much they must’ve suffered to crawl their way out of that trash heap . But despite that they didn’t show any hints of coming from such background in the way they behaved themselves . They dazzled brilliantly and that caused a comforting wind to blow within Brandika’s heart .
Unfortunately, he had no choice but to cut them down . That was what it meant to walk the path of conquest .
Brandika clicked his tongue, then thought back to what he might have missed .
The Elks Clan Brandika knew was not the sort to associate themselves with monsters that fed on humans . So, why? Why were the goblins so persistent with attacking the south?
“Could it be?”
Do they truly intend to rule?
The corners of Brandika’s mouth lifted and a fire began to burn within his eyes as an overwhelming presence like that of a lion’s emanated from him .
“Monsters ruling the world? Interesting . ”
If they held such outrageous ambitions, then it was his duty to crush them .
That was his duty as a human king . And something he needed to do should they get in the way of his rule in the southernmost part of the contintent .
“So it will be a match between kings then . ”
Though Brandika had never met the king, he felt deep affection for him .
It was at this moment that he acknowledged the Goblin King as his equal and his enemy .
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