Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
King Asuparf’s reply to Margrave Branier’s letter was drafted and sent out the same day it arrived at the capital.
Considering that the messenger had left for the most direct route to the Branier territory, the reply wasn’t expected to reach the Margrave for at least five days.
However, that expectation was suddenly overturned because three days after the messenger had been sent out, Margrave Branier himself arrived in the capital.
“Given the distance, the Margrave shouldn’t have arrived so quickly. Is this a trick?”
Zahar, who’d just been reporting on Arc’s behavior in the city, voiced his concerns, but Asparuf seemed to disagree with him.
“No, visiting so many days in advance is proof to the authenticity of their stated purpose. He probably headed out without waiting for our response..”
Hearing the king’s half-hearted explanation, Zahar silently bowed his head in agreement.
Certainly, if they’d sent a fake messenger, it would be wasted effort if they went and acted before their messenger returned.
The letter sent by the Margrave gave the impression that he’d been backed into a corner.
They couldn’t even afford to wait for a reply from a country they’d had a history of hostility with…… this fact made the Margrave’s visit all the more abnormal.
“My Lord, I have a bad feeling about this meeting with Margrave Branier……”
King Asuparf agreed with Zahar’s glum assessment of the situation.
“……So do I. The meeting shall take place immediately. Take Margrave Branier to the official meeting room at once!”
At the King’s order, one of the guards in the corner ran out the room.
Within minutes of the order being given both parties, who had decades of hostility between them, met for the first time.
They sat on the opposite sides of the small table in the center of the room and calmly evaluated one another.
While he was already middle-aged the King was the younger one of the pair…… however, one could see the dignity and strength of a ruler in his eyes.
Though calling cards of old age were visible on his face, the sharp eyes and battle-hardened body of a veteran soldier still remained.
They were trying to gauge one another other, but light smiles remained on their faces.
…… If you ever needed an example of a noble not devoted to filling their own coffers, then the Margrave’s imposing figure in front of the king would be what came to mind.
…… In comparison to those nobles who were completely absorbed in factional struggles and their own pleasures, the King was like a dazzling light in a hazardous bog.
“Nozan’s King, Asparuf Nozan Soulia.”
“Margrave of Salma Kingdom, Wendelin De Branier.”
The two shook hands after introducing themselves.
Besides those two, only Zahar, who was acting as Asparuf’s guard, was present in the meeting room. Surprisingly, Margrave Branier attended without an escort.
“A request for an informal meeting was rather unexpected. No need for formalities, what’s your goal?”
The Margrave saluted the King before replying to his straightforward question.
“Thank you. Before I tell you, may I ask, how many monsters attacked Soulia?”
His gaze sharped at the Margrave’s question.
However, the Margrave would be obligated to answer his question after receiving the information.
“It was about one hundred thousand.”
The Margrave unintentionally slapped his knee and the corners of his mouth
rose when he heard the King’s answer.
“That’s good news. It may be rude of me, but surely the defenders of this city have suffered recently. It’s a miracle that a hundred thousand monsters were defeated with such little damage, but how confident are you if they attacked in similar numbers again?”
The smile disappeared from the Margrave’s face, and he spoke in a low, tense voice. Asparuf quietly listened to what he said, since realizing why the Margrave would ask these things made him to break out in a cold sweat.
“……Have they appeared there as well? Another large horde of undead…… How many?”
“Around two hundred thousand.”
The air in the room had become heavier when the King asked his question…… and the number the Margrave mentioned brought the conversation to a halt.
The three people in the room heard an audible gulp.
As if it were the signal he’d been waiting for, the Margrave spoke up again.
“Currently, a large force of undead is besieging Larisa, Salma’s capital. I lack the means to rescue the city…… even if I turned my territory on its head, I wouldn’t be able to come up with two hundred thousand soldiers. It would be foolish to try a rescue with such numbers. I came here because the only hope my territory and your country has of winning is if we cooperate…… Isn’t it?”
The Margrave’s sharp eyes demanded an answer from the King.
If he refused the Margrave’s proposal, then his territory would be consumed by the two hundred thousand undead. Whether or not those undead would then set their sights on this place…… it was a question he didn’t have an answer to.
Soulia had already attacked once, who was to say it wouldn’t happen again? It was possible.
“Certainly, a repetition of the previous outcome is unlikely”
The King released a large sigh as he spoke.
In response, the Margrave released the breath he had held when he heard the King’s answer.
“That’s reassuring! I know this is sudden, but can you tell me the strategy you used to repel the undead? It’s best to prepare for battle as quickly as possible. Based on the state of the wall, I think you used some sort of trap and fire magi……”
The Margrave’s voice trailed off when he noticed the King’s poor complexion.
It was possible that the secret technique the King had used to fend off the undead horde wasn’t something that could be prepared on short notice…… at least, that was the impression the Margrave was getting.
However, the truth was something the Margrave never expected.
“We humans were incapable of doing anything against the besiegement. The capital stands today because of the efforts of two elves and a beastmen.”
The Margrave was left dazed by the King’s statement.
The Margrave hadn’t heard anything about the Nozan Kingdom allying itself with elves or beastmen.
In the first place, the beastmen’s numbers had dwindled since the Hiruku doctrine demanded them to be hunted down and gathered up as tributes by its neighboring countries. The majority of the elves isolated themselves in the Great Canada Forest east of Rhoden.
Could it be possible that……
“Those two, were they from Rouen?”
The King shook his head and explained that the elves had come from Canada.
The story of three people rescuing Soulia from the brink of destruction was even more confusing, given that the saviors weren’t even human.
Not even the experienced Margrave could hide the unrest sparked by that story.
“Wait, wait. Do you expect me to believe that two elves and a beastmen repelled a hundred thousand enemies?”
Even under the Margrave’s intense scrutiny, there wasn’t even a hint of ridicule or certainty about dealing with a future crisis within his gaze…… he only caught a glimpse of worry.
After a while, the King let out a deep sigh before calling out to Zahar behind him.
“Zahar, I apologize, but could you go see if Arc-dono would like to join us?”
Zahar bowed towards the King and let the room in a hurry.
The King asked the Margrave an unexpected question.
“By the way, Wendelin-dono, have you grasped the true identity of the enemy?”
It was a question that the Margrave had pondered before, but stopping the two thousand undead had taken priority over answering the question.。
The overwhelming number of undead was connected to that question.
Normally it would be impossible for such a large number of undead to rise.
The legend of the “Undead King” was the first thing that came to mind, but the King shook his head when he told him so.
“My prime minister thought of that legend as well. However, if we assume the legend to be true then the Undead King should have been destroyed by the Empire. Perhaps they were unable to kill the Undead King back then and sealed him away instead. And now he’s been released upon the world once more……”
The King paused for a moment and left out another large sigh.
“Be that as it may, this enemy is not from some uncertain legend. There is a clear entity responsible for innumerable undead sent after us. Our enemy is deeply rooted in the Hiruku Theocracy.”
When he was told who the real enemy was, Margrave Branier was left speechless.
The look in the King’s eyes told him that he wasn’t joking.
“……What convinced you that the Hiruku Theocracy is behind all of this?”
He locked eyes with the King and asked him for the conclusive evidence that made him certain that identify of the enemy was really the last entity anyone expected.
The King informed him of everything that had occurred a few days ago…… the Margrave was left dumbfounded as he listened to the story of Palermo’s monstrous transformation and the truths the elves had revealed.
“…… So if we are to believe their words, then they can find them by sight and smell?”
The King nodded at the Margrave’s question.
“Only elves and beastmen have the ability to detect undead mixed in with humans. However, there aren’t many of them in this region anymore.”
The Margrave groaned after those words left his lips just before someone asked to enter the room.