Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
Nozan Kingdom, on the Northern Continent.
Nozan Kingdom was separated from Rhoden Kingdom by the Bordeaux Gulf and the two nations maintained a relatively friendly diplomatic relationship through trade.
Three other countries touched upon the borders of Nozan Kingdom.
The Delfrent Kingdom lied to the north of Nozan and the Salma Kingdom to the south. Finally, the Hiruku Theocracy sat just west of Nozan. Throughout this region’s history, many countries have risen and fallen.
Soulia, the capital of the Nozan Kingdom, had never been invaded. The Royal Palace was built upon a small hill, at the base of which the city began to spread out from. Two defensive walls bisected the city into districts and acted as its primary defensive structure.
The palace had been built with defense as the priority, there weren’t all that many decorations and its simple design gave one the impression of a large fort.
However, the Palace’s interior was decorated with gorgeous accessories showcasing the authority and prestige one would expect of a royal palace.
With it’s meticulously trimmed lawn and the early morning sunlight that enveloped the area, a sort of harmony between the palace’s exterior and interior was created.
Rays of sunlight, which accompanied the coming morning, swept into the large window of a certain room where a young girl innocently slept.
The girl’s slightly curly and golden hair reached her shoulder while her head rested on a soft pillow. With her childish figure and porcelain white skin, one would assume the girl was around ten years old.
The extravagance of her nightshirt, the fact that the bed she slept in was larger than necessary, and the canopy surrounding the bed hinted at the girl’s social standing.
The silence of the morning was suddenly disturbed by the ringing of bells.
The sound of the first bell echoing across the town originated from the edge of the city and eventually more bells began to ring until the sound reached the palace.
The unexpected noise caused the girl’s eyebrows to fidget as she slowly opened her small eyes and searched her room for its source.
“…… Ehh, I hear something strange……”
The girl spoke in a manner unbefitting of someone her age as she sat up and rubbed her eye in an attempt to wake up completely.
The girl tried to pat down her unruly bed head before she slid her small frame off of the bed and took a look outside her window.
However, she was only able to see the courtyard outside the window and couldn’t grasp the nature of the ringing bell. After casting a general glance over the courtyard her sleepily eye gradually wandered toward the window latch.
At that moment a woman hastily ran into the girl’s bedroom.
“Princess Lille! Pardon me!!”
The upset woman that entered the room was familiar to the young girl, so she tilted her head and called out to her.
“Nina, what made you so upset? I haven’t overslept today.”
Lille suppressed a yawn as her eyes trailed across the room.
The woman had long, black hair that was tied in a single braid reaching her back and slightly slanted eyes with black pupils. She wore the uniform of Nozan’s knight order over her sun-tanned skin while a sword with a heavily decorated hilt hung on her waist.
Nina Du Aburoa
Despite being the daughter of Nozan Kingdom’s Viscount Aburoa, she earned the title of knight and was tasked with the protection of the young girl she was currently looking at.
The full name of Nina’s small master was Lille Nozan Souria
She was t
he third and youngest child of Nozan’s King, King Asparuf Nozan Soulia, and also the first princess and a memento of the deceased queen.
“Princess Lille, enemies are attacking the capital! Hurry and get dressed, we must find the King!”
“What!? This is serious! What a second…… hya.”
Lilli’s eyes popped when she heard Nina’s statement and she immediately began stripping off her nightshirt.
However, Lille struggled when the neck of the shirt caught on her hair.
After a while, she resigned herself to her fate and approached Nina, who’d been watching the princess’s plight.
“Sorry, Nina, but I need you to help me change my clothes.”
In response to her request, Nina knelled down and responded with:
“Yes, excuse me.”
Normally, a lady in waiting and several other attendants would be present to help dress the princess, but this was an emergency. Nina may have been a skilled knight, but she wasn’t used to dressing others, so she helped Lille into a simple dress.
Lille left her room in a brisk strut as soon as she could, but a man was already waiting for her when she crossed the threshold of her room.
“Zahar, come along as well. We’ll go to where my father is.”
The young man called Zahar offered Lille a brief nod before joining Nina who was following the princess.
Zahar Bahárov was a hundred and ninety centimeters tall and had a muscular build. He also had short chestnut hair and was cleanly shaven.
Similar to Nina, he was a knight serving as princess Lille’s guard, but he was commoner who managed to achieve his position through his own strength.
The princess was accompanied by her two personal guards as she approached her father’s office with a reserved dignity uncommon in one so young.
King Asparf had already assembled his top advisers and military personnel in the room by the time the princess arrived. Lille’s older brothers, first Prince Teruva and second Prince Sevaru, the prime minister, and the General of the Army all surrounded the king.
The atmosphere in the room was wrought with a strange tension that was normally absent.
A map of the capital was spread out on the large desk that everyone stood around and Lille could just make out some wooden figures on top of it.
Princess Lille knew better than to disturb her father during an emergency so she tried to stretch her neck to get a better look at the map, but then a messenger ran into the room.
“Reporting! The enemy attacked from the forest at the base of Mt. Sobiru, and their numbers continue to grow as the assault continues! A definitive number can not be determined as they have yet to take formation, but they seem to number in the tens of thousands! I’ve never seen such numbers!”
Moans of unrest and surprise leaked from the mouths of those that heard the message’s statement.
It was the King speaking up in an orderly tone that managed to calm the upheaval.
“What’s the enemy’s affiliation? Only one of the empires would be capable of launching such an attack, but we aren’t connected to their territory…… has one of the neighboring countries fallen?”
The King was in the prime of his life and his dignified gaze was focused on the messenger.
The people surrounding the King held their breath as they waited for the messenger’s reply, Lille and her two guards did the same.
However, no one expected the answer the messenger spoke.
“There is no indication of the enemy’s origins! In fact, the enemy isn’t even human! Though they wear metal armor, the enemy are undead! The enemy is an army of undead!”
Dread permeated the messenger’s voice and what he said caused the general in changes of defending the capital to shout.
“Are you mad!? Has anyone ever heard of undead, let alone armored undead, appearing in such numbers!?”
The messenger’s face froze at the general’s words and lowered his head.
“Unfortunately it’s the truth, General! Every enemy soldier sighted was some form of undead. Numerous undead appeared in the nearby plains around dawn.”
Most of the room’s occupants forced to hold their breath yet again.
“Furthermore, deformed monstrosities are mixed within the undead humans! One of our units was wiped out by a monstrous spider-human hybrid.”
As the room fell silent the sound of the still ringing alarm bell penetrated the room.
Everyone was digesting the contents of the report, but that didn’t mean they were able to grasp an understanding of the situation.
It was King Asparf who managed to break the silence no one else could.
“A report from the ‘Watchtower’ came in some time ago. Whether the enemy is human or not, it is still a fact that the capital is facing its possible destruction.”
The King paused as he glanced at everyone in the room.
The “Watchtower” was an especially large tower built at the rear of the palace that made it possible to get a bird’s eye perspective of the entire capital.
Vigilant soldiers were permanently stationed there and even Princess Lille understood the importance of the area as she often played in.
“How many forces are at our current disposal?”
When the King asked the general that question, he was startled for a moment before he answered.
“Ha! Yes! Between the knights and guards, we should have four thousand soldiers! We can expect another thousand or so if we hire all the adventures and mercenaries in the city!”
The King gave the general a nod as the gravity of the situation dawned on everyone.
“Hmm, it’s fortunate that the enemy attacked before the city gates were opened, we shall engage in siege warfare…… Even if the enemy numbers in the tens of thousands, it’s not enough to break a siege defense.”
The King looked up from the map on the table and focused on his two sons and princess Lille.
“The enemy appeared from the forest surrounding the Sobiru Mountains in the southwest. The capital has yet to be surrounded so there’s still time to evacuate the citizens. Teruva and Sevaru, you will escape through the eastern gate and gather reinforcements from the eastern and northern territories respectively.
Both princes were resolute as they received the King’s order.
Watching her older brothers’ behavior filled princess Lille with a sense of pride for being a part of the royal family. She took a tentative step forward and calmly watched her her father.
The two princes anxiously watched their little sister’s behavior before looking towards their father and pleaded with him with their eyes.
The King hesitated for but a moment before slowly setting his eyes on his daughter.
“Lille, you are to seek reinforcements from Earl Dimo in the east. The earl’s personal soldiers are quite brave.”
The king had a faint smile on his face as he spoke.
Several retainers shared meaningful gaze when they heard the King’s decree and nodded in mutual agreement.
“Leave it to me, father! I swear on my name as Lille Nozan Souria to fulfill my task and help resolve the crisis that has befallen our country!”
Lille stuck out her chest and placed her small hand over it.
The King narrowed his eye’s in response to her behavior.
“Zahar, Nina…… protect Lille.”
The King gave the two knights charged with protecting his beloved daughter a severe look. Understanding the hidden meaning behind his words, the two bowed solemnly in response.
Princess Lille didn’t notice, but the others were aware that the King’s order was for her to seek refuge.
The Dimo Earldom was the southernmost territory of what had once been a part of Nozan Kingdom until seventy years ago, when an invasion from Saima Kingdom forced the earldom to split off and form its own enclave.
Crossing into an enclave that neighbored other countries shouldn’t be difficult to accomplish, but that was the easy part.
It was a demanding task to draw clear borderlines with monsters roaming about, so it was up to the nobility in charge of the fringe territories to decide which Kingdom they stood with.
So while it was possible to lead a small band of soldiers into the Dimo Earldom in a few days, one could not return with reinforcements without Saima Kingdom spotting them.
A lot of soldiers would be necessary to beat back the undead horde…… but larger numbers would slow progression and be easily spotted by other country’s patrols.
One needed to cross the Gulf of Clyde by ship to reach the earldom, a five-day one-way trip from the capital via the Moruba river basin. Even if one rushed back with reinforcements, things would most likely be settled by then.
In short, the mission the King had given Lille was impossible to accomplish.
Though no one said anything about it.
The princes had both come of age and were already taking part in state affairs and imperial obligations. On the other hand, Lille was still an eleven-year-old girl, despite her fortitude and royal status. It was also common knowledge that the King doted on the last child of the deceased queen.
If the worst happened, the royal bloodline would remain safe in the earldom…… that was the thought behind it.
“Not much time remains, make preparations for the three’s departure! We’ll herd the undead towards the western gate to buy time! General, I ask you take the lead!”
Everyone bowed once the King finished giving his order before getting to work.
Meanwhile, the wrinkles on the King’s forehead deepened as he looked westward.
“For this to happen the day after the Cardinal arrived for a visit…… Perhaps I could gain the support of the Holy Knight if I negotiate with Cardinal Liberalitas.”
As the King bemoaned the current situation, the prime minister beside him lowered his voice and began speaking.
“Asparf-sama, the army of undead could be the work of the ‘Undead King’. ”
The King raised an eyebrow when he heard what the prime minister said.
“‘Undead King’? Isn’t that just a legend the minstrels like to recite?”
“No, my King. Though the empire will never admit it, there is historical evidence of his appearance in the country one hundred years ago.”
The King Asparf choked on his words upon hearing that.
While a hundred years didn’t seem all that long, the short average human lifespan meant that events from a hundred years ago happened to those three generations ago.
The ‘Undead King’ the prime minister was a wide-reaching local legend.
It was said to have appeared without warning.
With its ability to control the undead, the monster laid waste to villages and towns one after another, increasing the number of undead it controlled, threatening all life.
However, it’s undead empire was overthrown by the subjugation force raised to stop it.
It was a famous story that minstrels recited throughout the land, it was a tale parents told misbehaving children to frighten them.
『── The ‘Undead King’ picks up naughty children and drags them to the underworld──』
Phrases like that were handed down from generation to generation.
“There’s a rumor of the empire borrowing the power of the Theocracy to defeat the Undead King. As a result, the nation can’t oppose their teachings as strongly.”
The wrinkles on the King’s forehead got deeper as he listened to the prime minister and sighed.
“……However, the life of an entire country can’t be decided on a whim.”
The King weakly shook his head as that final thought escaped his lips.
The occupant of a certain room inside the royal palace could hear the commotion beyond the room’s wall.
The room was more luxurious than the other guest rooms in the palace as it was usually reserved for foreign diplomats.
The window in the room overlooked the capital’s eastern district.
A single man looked in front of the glass window with a slight smile on his face as he watched the utter confusion of the current situation unfold.
The man in question wore heavy modified priest robes, had neatly trimmed black hair, and floated a gentle smile. His smile widened as he watched three carriages leave out the eastern gate in different directions.
“The royal family fleeing the country…… unlikely. So messengers seeking reinforcements then.”
This man was Cardinal Palermo Avaritia Liberalitas.
The most powerful figure within the Hiruku Theocracy was the Pope and directly below him were the seven cardinals.
The fact that he was allowed to stay within the diplomat’s chambers showcased the amount of influence the Hiruku Religion had on the Northern Continent.
At the moment, however, the pope had been the one to order the undead to march on the capital.
By placing a large enough force around the capital, the main hub of the kingdom, one could effectively sever the chain of command as long as no gaps opened in the blockade.
“Hmhmhm, should I send pursuers after the messengers? …… Without the hope of reinforcements arriving the moral of those manning the walls will rot away…… such an unimaginable tragedy.”
Cardinal Liberalitas’ twisted smirk was reflected in the window as he continued to think aloud.
The mild-mannered mask he usually wore gave way to his true personality. Above all other things, he took morbid pleasure in showcasing his superiority to those weaker than him.
“Even if reinforcements were to arrive, it would amount to nothing in the face of a hundred thousand undead. Seeing faces warped by despair…… is a joy that should be experienced quickly as possible. Hahaha”
Realizing that his true nature has revealed itself, Cardinal Liberalitas suppressed his impulse and donned his mild-manner facade again.
He began stroking his chin and raised a single eyebrow with a dissatisfied expression.
“…… However, it’d be a good idea to reinforce the hordes strength, it would certainly make it easier to gain control of this place. The question is, will increasing the horde’s size effect my control over them?”
Palermo snorted as he said that.
“It may be best to consult the Pope about this matter should something come of it……”
Palermo’s eyes remained on the far-off eastern gate as he spoke, all the while the undead horde silently surrounded the city.
“For now, I’ll enjoy my front row seat to this country’s downfall.”
Another smirk would appear on Palermo’s face shortly after his meeting with the King ended.