Chapter 15:

CHAPTER 11: THE AMARANTHINE CIVIL WAR

The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 4


Thick smoke and dust obscured my vision, as I tried to make sense of what’s happening around me. People were running around, screams were flying and the terrible sounds of battle resumed. I immediately looked at Maddie and noticed that she had a light wound on her forehead.Bookmark here

“Maddie?” I gently shook her. When she barely responded, I put my ear near her heart to make sure she’s fine.Bookmark here

“D-Don’t worry, Kuro. I could still move.” I heard her say.Bookmark here

“Aaaarrrrggghhh!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Amidst the smoke, the Ban of Kistral suddenly appeared, with his sword and wand drawn, ready to thrust it to Maddie’s neck. The instinct to protect her took over me, and I put my body over her to shield her from the Ban’s attack. I quickly grabbed the blade of his sword, wounding my hand. But I took a handful of sand and threw it in his eyes.Bookmark here

“Gaaah!” the Ban temporarily retreated to clear his vision. I wanted to come after him, but I had to protect Maddie.Bookmark here

However, he continued his attempt to kill her, “You’re an evil saint, Madelaine Rubinforth! Die!” The Ban randomly swung his sword, nearly slashing my arm.Bookmark here

“What the hell’s wrong with you, douchebag?” I blurted out. I could my entire body shaking, not because of fear, but out of sheer anger. He just tried to assassinate Maddie, and as her fiancée and guard, I won’t let that happen!Bookmark here

“Madelaine Rubinforth should die!” was the only answer he could give me, “And I’ll kill you as well; Eris is mine and mine alone!”Bookmark here

Well, will you look at that? All this time, this lolicon is with Eris…Bookmark here

His eyes must’ve stung when I threw those sand particles on his face, however, it’s still dangerous to face the Ban. He blindly swung his sword and fired his magic spells in different directions. I wanted to subdue him, but I couldn’t get in range…Bookmark here

…until now.Bookmark here

Seeing that he was just doing random movements, I quickly kicked his crotch and sent the Ban to the ground, writhing in pain. By this time, he had inadvertently dropped his sword, and he was weakened.Bookmark here

“You…damned commoner!” the Ban kept on cursing me, “I’ll make sure you’ll suffer in the afterlife!”Bookmark here

“Well, please, you fucker!” Enraged at his attempt to kill Maddie, I never hesitated to pick his sword, “I’ll send you there immediately, so prepare for my arrival!” And then I buried its blade deep into his neck.Bookmark here

Blood splattered on my clothes as the Ban drowned on his own fluid. And then, as if cursing me to his death, he fixed his glare at me as he departed.Bookmark here

“…” I felt no remorse. Anyone who’d try to harm the girl I love would end up dead by my hands…Bookmark here

However, there’s something strange that happened after that. Once the Ban was dead, a small red medallion came off from his neck and fell on the ground.Bookmark here

I don’t know if it came from inside his body, or was he wearing it on his body, but anyway, I picked it up and hid it in my pocket.Bookmark here

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I quickly returned to Maddie—with the Ban’s sword in my hand, to protect her from further assassination attempts. The battle was a confusing one, without a clear definition in which side stood, and the Saint was still stunned at the sudden turn of events.Bookmark here

“Maddie!” it was Lily’s voice. Then a few moments later, she appeared through the dust, “Are you okay?”Bookmark here

“Yes…Lily? What happened?” Maddie’s conscious, but she’s still in a daze.Bookmark here

“Something exploded, and the armies of the royalty and nobility were now fighting.” the head maid, who had a bloodied sword in her hand, told us, “We have to get out of here.”Bookmark here

“Lily! Check Maddie’s head!” I cried out to her, “The Ban of Kistral cast a magic spell that targeted her!”Bookmark here

Ah yes! Where’s that villain?”Bookmark here

I pointed to his corpse, which lay near our spot.Bookmark here

“Did you do that?” Lily was surprised.Bookmark here

“There’s no time to explain, Lily! Let’s move Maddie away from here!” I told her.Bookmark here

“Okay! Give me that sword; I’ll protect you and Maddie. You carry her!”Bookmark here

“Got it!”Bookmark here

“Your Holiness!” Fortunately, the Marquise of Monfort also came in time and surrounded us with her paladins, “Protect the Saint at all costs!”Bookmark here

The paladins began a fighting retreat as the chaos spread around us. Maddie was out of herself, and we had the difficulty of moving her away, while the fight raged.Bookmark here

Lily and I helped Maddie back on her feet. It was confusing, with the armies of the opposing sides finally letting loose their hatred on one another. Someone shouted that we’re under attack, and some were pleading for the fighting to stop. Limbs, heads, and blood were all flying around, and the dust and smoke didn’t help in our plight.Bookmark here

Once she regained herself, Maddie was indignant. She took her wand out and began chanting a spell…Bookmark here

“Paralyze with fear, feel the great pain…Strike my enemy and let suffering rain!”Bookmark here

Oh my god…that spell…it’s—Bookmark here

Black Death!”Bookmark here

I inadvertently closed my eyes, for I could still remember well what happened to the Imperial soldiers back at the Battle of Hagena Castle. It’s a traumatic experience for me…Bookmark here

“What’s happening?” I heard Maddie’s panicked voice, “Why isn’t my power working?”Bookmark here

“Come on, Maddie!” Lily grabbed her friend and pulled her out of the battlefield, “We need to regroup! Let’s escape from here!”Bookmark here

“Teleport!” Maddie attempted another try at her magic. But it didn’t materialize, much to her, and our, horror. Frustrated, she threw her wand, “Why is my magic not working?”Bookmark here

In all the chaos and blood of the battlefield, a black carriage appeared and cut through the soldiers who were too busy fighting, trampling some of them. It’s an ugly sight, but it stopped in front of us and a child appeared to greet us.Bookmark here

“Your Holiness! Quick, come inside!” it was Eris, and beside her helping us, was her mother, Lady Hanna.Bookmark here

“There’s space enough inside for eight more paladins!” the lady shouted, “The rest of the paladins, grab the carriage handles!”Bookmark here

Without a second thought, we quickly let ourselves in. The paladins shed off their armor to fit themselves, while the others took hold of the carriage’s handles to get away from the battlefield. The Marquise of Monfort took charge of the driving, and she sped off to the nearest route that remained open.Bookmark here

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Now that everything’s quite settled down, this was the first time I could make out of the passengers of the carriage, which was owned by the Duke of Braunhauer.Bookmark here

“So Duchess Eris is here, Lady Hanna, His Excellency the Duke of Braunhauer…” I noted them, just to be sure, “Also, His Highness the Crown Prince David…who else?”Bookmark here

“Eight paladins inside, 24 paladins hanging outside, you, Maddie, and I,” Lily added.Bookmark here

“Great. No wonder why we’re too heavy to move.”Bookmark here

“I guess the horses were almost spent.” We heard the Marquise of Monfort called out from the outside, “But anyway, I think we’re almost near the capital city.”Bookmark here

The expression on the Duke’s face was grim. His wife, Lady Hanna, and Eris had anxious looks on their faces. Perhaps they realized that we’re heading towards his enemy’s territory.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Your Excellency.” it was Maddie who said that, “I won’t let anything happen to you at the Amaranthine capital.”Bookmark here

The crown prince then spoke, “Your Excellency, I suppose this is a good time we set aside our differences and work together? I don’t plan to have you arrested for leading the rebellion against my father.”Bookmark here

“Your Highness…” the Duke calmly said, “I may be old now compared to you, so I’m ready to die anytime for the cause I took up. However, may I request on your honor that you take care of my family?”Bookmark here

“No one’s asking about our stand on this certain issue, Your Excellency.” the prince reiterated, “I’m humbly asking for your cooperation in making this kingdom peaceful once again, and then we can settle our differences and proceed with our plans.”Bookmark here

Whoa! What can I say? The prince going on with his usual assertive tactics. I hope he’d convinced the Duke. After all, this wasn’t a good time to be divided.Bookmark here

The Duke was silent for quite a long time. I could tell Lady Hanna’s worried for her husband, and her anxiety could be felt by their daughter, Eris.Bookmark here

“Your Excellency…” it was Maddie’s turn to speak, “I know you have your own convictions. But I’d like to appeal to your fatherly side. Look at your daughter, Duchess Eris; she’s too young to be left without a father to guide her.”Bookmark here

“And I guess you’d also want to see your elder daughter achieve her dreams.” I added, “Those are not simple dreams, after all.”Bookmark here

The Duke then closed his eyes and took a deep breath. And then, he said… “Well, if His Majesty the King needs my service once again, I’d gladly oblige.”Bookmark here

With that, the faces of Duke’s family lit up, and the atmosphere inside the carriage had considerably lightened.Bookmark here

“But what about the other paladins? Will we leave them at the Braunhauer estate?” I raised that question, concerned at the other girls who I believed were left at the Braunhauer estate.Bookmark here

Hm? I told you I already arranged for an advanced party to secure the Red Diamond palace to prepare for our return, so there’s no one among our group that was left at the duchy.” Maddie revealed, “It’s just that, I didn’t expect this would turn out this way…”Bookmark here

An awkward silence then floated inside the carriage, especially the Duke and the Crown Prince. They were both awfully quiet.Bookmark here

“So, Your Highness Prince David, and Your Excellency the Duke of Braunhauer, care to explain what happened?” Maddie asked them.Bookmark here

“We don’t know as well, Your Holiness.” the Crown Prince answered her, “I thought everything’s over, and yet, an explosion happened. Sir Kuro was telling me it came from the Ban of Kistral. I tried to stop my men from attacking the nobility’s army, but they would never listen.”Bookmark here

“So do I, Your Holiness. I was also at a loss when Sir Stefan suddenly began chanting magic and then attacked you.” the Duke explained, “I never knew what came into his mind, but I attempted to take control of the situation. My subordinates wouldn’t stop ’till they fought their enemies to death, though.”Bookmark here

Oh dear…this is a disaster.” Maddie could only shake her head.Bookmark here

“Now that we know who’s double-crossing us…” the Prince then proposed, “If my godfather the Duke will swear an oath of fealty to my father once again, then I could give him command of a contingent of the royal guards. Again, it’s my father’s, not mine, and I still recognize His Excellency’s military prowess to command.”Bookmark here

“Your Highness, I’m not looking for a position in the government.” the Duke reiterated, “However, I would not turn down my king’s request to help our kingdom in its time of need. Let it be known here, with the Holy Saint as our witness, that I intend to return the command of the royal guard contingent to you once this crisis is over.”Bookmark here

“Well, it’s good. And I hope you two would keep your promises.” Maddie told them, “Because there will come a time of reckoning if you don’t.”Bookmark here

“As you wish, Your Holiness.”Bookmark here

Heh. If you only settled your differences this way, then this wouldn’t have had to happen…”Bookmark here

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We reached the Amaranthine capital soon after the Duke and his godson, the Crown Prince of Nerfes, set aside their differences. By then, the horses we had were completely spent, and they collapsed just as our carriage passed the gates.Bookmark here

“Surround the carriage, quick! Arrest those traitors!”Bookmark here

The Amaranth town militia wasted no time in making sure we won’t escape since our carriage bore the coat-of-arms of the Duke of Braunhauer. But it will not happen, anyway. The Crown Prince expected this event, and so, he’s the first one to alight the carriage to placate his loyal soldiers.Bookmark here

“My loyal subjects! Please put down your weapons, for it isn’t needed. Here with me, is my godfather, the Duke of Braunhauer, a well-known leader of the rebellious nobility but has since turned from his ways to support my father the King. Be at ease.”Bookmark here

With that and a few confused looks, the town militia let us pass. However, the Prince was taking precautions too.Bookmark here

“Quick, seal that gate and prepare for war.” he ordered his men once we arrived at the royal castle, “The conflict with the nobility has begun officially.”Bookmark here

At once, the soldiers of the royal family obeyed. They never wanted to be caught off-guard once the dreaded army of the nobles arrived at the city gates. Several town criers were sent around the entire city proper, calling out to its citizens to prepare for the struggle.Bookmark here

A moment later, and the town bell was rung.Bookmark here

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Watching those scenes from the castle’s ‘war room’ made the hairs on my skin stand. The air of anticipation for something dreadful was high, and we could hear the panic that was slowly spreading throughout the population inside the city proper.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Well, it’s good that they were alert and prepared. But I’m wondering if we could still get out of this city in time to reach the border before the rebel army arrived to besiege this place. After all, they’ve been busy fighting with the royal army back at the field of mediation.Bookmark here

“What, Sir Kuro? Do you think it’s over already?” I heard the Duke asked me.Bookmark here

Did I just air my thoughts?Bookmark here

“Yes, you did. Are you alright with your head?” he answered.Bookmark here

I had no reply to that. Of course, I didn’t know the exact numbers of their armies, so I won’t know how large their forces were.Bookmark here

“Those were just some of the nobility’s soldiers, gathered so that we would have our armed escorts. However, the other armies were sprawled across the Braunhauer lands in their own camps, waiting for the time they’d attack. The mercenary groups some other nobilities hired were excluded from my number.”Bookmark here

“Wow…” Listening alone to the Duke’s explanation was enough to tell me that the nobility’s forces were overwhelmingly large.Bookmark here

Maddie then took a map and gave it over to him, “Your Excellency, if it’s okay with you, can we ask about the disposition of the noble armies?”Bookmark here

“Your Holiness, at the present, the noble alliance had assembled their individual forces to prepare for the assault of the capital, should the negotiations collapse.”Bookmark here

“And it collapsed.” Maddie reiterated.Bookmark here

“That Stefan…” the Duke uttered in spite, “I trusted him with everything, and yet he did this…”Bookmark here

“There’s no use in crying over something that already happened, Your Excellency.”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes…” the Duke, though he was taken aback a little, continued, “If my memories would serve me well, the lords of the Kistral, Lascerny, Havenna, Beregnon, Nejar, and Mattevi had already mustered their armies and is marching to surround the city of Amaranth, before the negotiations put our preparations to a halt. However…”Bookmark here

He drew a few more circles on the map.Bookmark here

“The Marsh Lords to the southwest and the port city lords to the southeast are also moving in to reinforce the first six nobles in choking the royal lands. The noble alliance committed at least 25,000 men for this war, Your Holiness, and the Ban of Kistral also made promises so he could gain help from the outside.”Bookmark here

“‘Help from the outside’?”Bookmark here

“To be honest, I didn’t ask him about that. We’re on the verge of conflict, and so any kind of help to our cause is welcome. However, now that this conflict has begun, they’ve begun moving against the royal capital.”Bookmark here

Maddie, Lily, and I exchanged doubtful looks.Bookmark here

Heh…looks like the prince pissed a lot of nobles, huh?” I mindlessly muttered.Bookmark here

Everyone’s attention fell on me. I quickly apologized and retreated to my seat.Bookmark here

“My supporters were cut-off from our royal fortress here in Amaranth.” the Crown Prince admitted, “They were concentrated at the western fiefs of the kingdom, and to reach us, they’d had to run across the lands owned by the hostile nobility.”Bookmark here

“So, what you’re saying is…”Bookmark here

“We’re surrounded.” it was Lily who dropped the inconvenient truth about our situation.Bookmark here

The mood was getting desperate. If what Lily said was true, then we needed to get out of here as soon as possible. Maddie’s life wasn’t safe anymore, and we’re in danger of being trapped, “Can’t we try to talk to them and negotiate? We’re a neutral party to this conflict after all.”Bookmark here

“Well, we could do that, but expect little, Kuro.” it was Maddie who spoke, “Though we’ve got nothing to do in this, you know that someone’s working to escalate the conflict.”Bookmark here

“Escalate this conflict? What do you mean, Your Holiness?” the crown prince asked in bewilderment.Bookmark here

“Yes, escalate this conflict to open war. Aside from the Ban of Kistral, someone was deliberately trying to sabotage our efforts for a peaceful solution, so we couldn’t hope much to negotiate peace with them.” the Saint further elaborated, “Look, they even tried to kill me by a magic spell. Fortunately, Sir Kuro was there to save me.”Bookmark here

The admiring eyes of everyone in that room went to me once more. Maddie was not wasting her opportunity in building my reputation…Bookmark here

“Anyway, we can’t expect to talk to these people,” she added.Bookmark here

Maddie’s got a point. It’s pointless to negotiate with a person whose intention is to kill you, after all.Bookmark here

“Your Holiness, have you already tried your magic once again?” Lily asked her.Bookmark here

Maddie shook her head, “It’s not working at all. I’m doing my best to cast a teleportation spell, but nothing happens.” She even showed her powers to us, but like a busted lightbulb, only sparks came out of her hands.Bookmark here

“Then, there’s someone else who’s trying to suppress us.” I surmised.Bookmark here

“My apologies for dragging you into this mess, Your Holiness.” the Crown Prince bowed before us.Bookmark here

“It’s fine. It’s not like you alone should be blamed for this.” Maddie replied, “Besides, this is our own decision; we could’ve refused, even so, we came.”Bookmark here

“So, what’s our plan?” I put up that question.Bookmark here

“Well, the forces left at my disposal are the royal guards and the Amaranth city militia. The rest of the forces of my supporters might still be engaged in the confusing battle back at the field of mediation.” the Crown Prince explained.Bookmark here

“Your Highness, couldn’t you send someone to check on them and try to bring back the survivors?” I asked.Bookmark here

Ah, sure!” the crown prince then called an army officer over and told him specific instructions on how to recall the army that was engaged with the noble forces.Bookmark here

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Meanwhile, after all that confusion and stress, we decided to catch our breaths and rethink what we should immediately do. The crown prince gave us a private room in the royal castle which could be secured by the paladins since the threat on the Saint’s life was real.Bookmark here

He and his godfather, the Duke, remained at the castle’s war room with the other military officials to ponder on their military strategy with limited resources available.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

And so, while resting, an impromptu meeting was called by Maddie, composed of herself, Lily, the Marquise of Monfort, and myself.Bookmark here

“We should retreat first to the Holy Palatial Gardens and think it over.” Lily suggested, “This could be bigger than we initially thought.”Bookmark here

Ah, good idea, Head Maid.” the Marquise of Monfort backed her up, “If we head back, we could also muster the entire Paladin Corps, as well as to rouse the other kingdoms to help.”Bookmark here

“While it’s a possibility…” Maddie told the Marquise, “I don’t think we should involve the other kings in this conflict, or it’ll be a repeat of the last war.”Bookmark here

“My apologies, Your Holiness.”Bookmark here

“It’s fine. I’m not even angry, Lady Monfort.”Bookmark here

I was silent the whole time, trying to think of alternative options for our situation, “Couldn’t we use the Duke’s influence to keep his supporters in-check?”Bookmark here

“Well, based on what just happened, his leadership of the noble faction is doubtful. Maybe he’s leading them because he was put there by the actual leaders behind the rebellion, like that accursed Ban of Kistral.” Lily raised that point.Bookmark here

“Head Maid, are you saying that my father’s only a leader because he’s the most influential nobility that went against the royal authority?” the Marquise asked.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry for my words, but it’s precisely what I was thinking, Lady Monfort.”Bookmark here

“Well, it’s a possibility. I don’t want to defend my father’s mistakes. He really could get carried away with the people around him, see? That accursed Ban of Kistral just betrayed him, after all.”Bookmark here

Maddie was pondering on the Marquise’s words, “Then if that’s so, we could say we could’ve committed an error by doing the negotiations with him.”Bookmark here

I picked up on Maddie’s words, “And, it could be possible that this negotiation was a farce all along.”Bookmark here

The Marquise couldn’t say anything. She wanted to apologize, but since she didn’t do it, what’s the point of it? I didn’t want her to feel worse than she should be, so I gave her a light tap on her back to assure her that everything’s fine.Bookmark here

She smiled at me, albeit weakly. I guess the Marquise of Monfort is tired of everything that is happening.Bookmark here

“Don’t you think they’re just making it appear that they agree to our terms to gain time?” Lily continued the conversation.Bookmark here

“If it applies, the next question is, why would they play for time?” I forwarded my concern, “What could be their goal?”Bookmark here

The Marquise answered, “Speaking from the point of the military, playing for time meant that they’re retreating to regroup, or worse…”Bookmark here

“…they’re waiting for reinforcements,” Maddie added.Bookmark here

“Reinforcements, from whom?” I put up the next question, “Is this the ‘help’ the Ban of Kistral was referring to?”Bookmark here

“Kuro! Remember that time that man we fought at the Battle of Hagena?” Lily brought the incident from Hagena to our talk.Bookmark here

“The ‘Traveler’ guy?”Bookmark here

“Yes.” Lily continued, “I realized something about the events happening to us lately. That Imperial man, the legionaries, the forced-slavery trade…don’t you think it’s all connected to one another?”Bookmark here

“When you said that, Lily…it all makes sense to me now.” Maddie was the one who answered her question, “Those legionaries engaging in slave trade could be an attempt of the Empire to accumulate funds for their forces here at north Chersea.”Bookmark here

“So, the nobles are buying time for the empire’s reinforcements to arrive?” the Marquise asked her.Bookmark here

Maddie never wanted to admit it, but she had no other choice, “It’s just a hunch. But considering all the circumstances, plus the ambitions of the current emperor, then it’s possible. After all, Amaranth is the richest kingdom here in north Chersea, and with his sources of money (the forced-slavery trade) cut-off, it’s only natural that he’d target this land to fund his army.”Bookmark here

“Ah!” the Marquise’s face suddenly lit up as if she remembered something, “Back when we went to Fen before, isn’t it we got attacked by the bandits along the way, and Kuro was assassinated?”Bookmark here

“Huh? You mean those events are also connected here?”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Holiness!” the Marquise explained, “You see, the Beastman Saint sent me on an investigating mission after the bandit attack, and word reached me that Kuro was killed while I was in the field. Doing such work is quite exhausting, but I learned a few things.”Bookmark here

“Such as?”Bookmark here

“The emperor is actively trying to keep you off from influencing Chersea’s affairs, Your Holiness. That bandit attack from before was an attempt to capture you. As for Kuro’s assassination, if he died back then, you would end up marrying the Imperial prince, and so, the emperor would gain control over you.”Bookmark here

“Ugh…” Maddie and I had disgusted looks on our faces.Bookmark here

“I’m surprised that you and the Beastman Saint kept quiet about this.” Lily told her, “If you said it sooner, then we would have made countermeasures.”Bookmark here

“My apologies, Head Maid, but the Beastman Saint strictly forbid me to say anything until she gathered enough evidence. She didn’t want to start conflict without proof of the emperor’s duplicity.”Bookmark here

Hmm…Ruro’s secretive with these things, but I could rely well on her information.” Maddie reassured Lily, “Her being a member of the wise tribe of the wolf isn’t just for a show, after all.”Bookmark here

“Now that you guys mentioned it, isn’t it that the crown prince’s father a sworn enemy of the empire? Maybe this rebellion is just for a change of government, to one that is friendly to the Chersean emperor.” Lily concluded, “Goodness…this is getting complicated.”Bookmark here

“That’s it, Lily!” Maddie exclaimed, “You know the emperor, Jean Durres III! He’s a sly fox; what you said is possible given his way of fighting his wars!”Bookmark here

“Yes…” the head maid wryly said, “I remember we’re only being saved from total defeat by the raw courage of our soldiers.”Bookmark here

Oh, Maddie!” I suddenly recalled something, “That brings to mind, I picked up something that fell from the Ban after he died.” I fished out the medallion from my pocket and handed it over to her.Bookmark here

Lily and the Marquise looked at it as the Saint examined the red object. And then…Bookmark here

“Kuro, this medal…” Maddie’s face went pale, “This confirms Seirna’s involvement in this affair!”Bookmark here

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***Bay of Amarth, a sea feature in northern Chersea, to the southwest of Amaranth***Bookmark here

For several seasons, the Imperial Expeditionary Fleet was anchored in this part of the sea, gradually joined by their newly arrived comrades and waiting for the events in Amaranth to unfold, hopefully to their favor.Bookmark here

The legionnaires had been careful in making their presence known. They cleverly made disguises for their ships, so that the common fisherfolk nearby wouldn’t detect them, and if those people did, the order was to capture them. To kill time, the legionnaires would try to hunt for alternatives to their food, or some of them would slip past their ships, and go to the nearest town or village to entertain themselves.Bookmark here

It’s how the Imperials passed their time anchored off the beaches of Amaranth. That was, until a pigeon once again appeared in the sky, and landed on to one of the disguised ships.Bookmark here

An imperial soldier tasked to watch for this animal return quickly took the letter that was attached to one of its feet. After reading it, he dashed towards the cabin where the ‘makeshift’ headquarters of their general, former Amaranthine prince, Umberto Benicci, was located.Bookmark here

“Sir!” the soldier saluted him before handing over the paper that came from the pigeon, “Our agents at Amaranth finally sent this report. We’re waiting for your orders.”Bookmark here

The general read the contents of the letter.Bookmark here

“So, are we starting this war, Umberto?” the saint, Seirna, asked. She floated behind him, but never looked over the report.Bookmark here

“There’s an assassination attempt against the human saint.” Prince Umberto told her, “And the noble alliance is currently engaging the royalist forces as we speak.”Bookmark here

“Oh, dear…” there was a smile that formed on Seirna’s face, “So, it has begun, huh?Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Holiness.” the general then turned to an orderly, “Alright, muster the men. Remove the disguise from our ships and prepare to land. We’re beginning the Amaranthine Civil War right now!”Bookmark here

Soon, the fisherfolk nearby saw huge imperial war galleys appearing on the horizon. They turned their boats back in haste to warn their families about the ships. However, Seirna made sure that the Amaranthines were unprepared for their arrival, and captured those fishing boats with relative ease.Bookmark here

And then, landing boats bearing several companies of Imperial legionnaires came ashore. Their cavalry and engineers soon followed the initial landing parties. No one could resist their invasion; it’s either the towns and villages were already bought off or were overwhelmed by the sheer number of the legionaries.Bookmark here

The first Imperial action in the Amaranthine Civil War was relatively bloodless…Bookmark here

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**Kuro**Bookmark here

Alarmed by our recent discovery, Maddie had to plan our return to the Holy Palatial Gardens in haste. As she was right now, she’s powerless to intervene. No matter how hard she tried to activate her powers, it’s as if her magic was sealed.Bookmark here

Huh? Her Holiness couldn’t fully use her powers?” the Marquise of Monfort was surprised by the revelation.Bookmark here

“Well, she can’t, for now,” Lily answered.Bookmark here

Damn…we’re doomed.”Bookmark here

“Not yet. I’m not giving up just yet, Lady Monfort.” Maddie told her. She then turned to me to explain that, “Kuro, for Seirna to use her powers against me, there should be someone nearby that is conspiring with her.”Bookmark here

“Someone nearby?” I pondered about it for a while, “Then if it’s like that, then the Ban of Kistral is not the one at fault. I mean, we left him at the field of mediation; we don’t even know if he’s still alive.”Bookmark here

A moment of complete silence then ensued. All of us were thinking of the suspects on the identity of this ‘mole’ within our circle. I’m sure Maddie and Lily had been considering it as well, for in my mind I only had one likely pair of suspects…Bookmark here

The Duke of Braunhauer and his wife, Lady Hanna.Bookmark here

But then again, Maddie quickly noticed that someone’s interfering with her powers through them. If I’m Seirna of the Flame, I wouldn’t use someone who could be picked out by her rival so easily. She’s aiming to eliminate Maddie’s ability to intervene, and would try her best to suppress her enemy for as long as possible for the legionaries to succeed.Bookmark here

“Alright. So, what should we do then?” Lily asked.Bookmark here

Maddie ordered the Marquise, “Lady Monfort, we’re going to abandon our mission here and return to the Holy Palatial Gardens at once.”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Holiness!” with a bow, the Marquise quickly went to work.Bookmark here

“Lily, send messengers to each kingdom and states in Chersea that honors the Saint’s Peace. Tell them to muster their armies and come to the aid of the Saint. Assemble at the plains of Savoy.” Maddie had a stern expression on her face, “Though I don’t want to admit this, another war has come upon us, and we need the strength of the kingdoms that remained faithful to our cause.”Bookmark here

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The decision of the Saint to leave spread quickly around the royal castle. As if to take the cue, the soldiers of the royal family were disheartened by the news, since they looked up to Maddie’s presence for their morale booster. However, this was not the time to think of such things. Maddie’s life was in danger, and for as long as we couldn’t identify who’s working with Seirna in the shadows, it would stay the same.Bookmark here

Besides, it’s not like we’re retreating completely. We’re just regrouping, and I guess Maddie’s out to gather forces loyal to her ideals to counter the ambitions of the emperor.Bookmark here

However, the damage to the morale of those who’d remain in the city was high. Shops closed early, and the levy militia was called up. Weapons and armors were distributed as people had packed their things to evacuate from Amaranth, inadvertently blocking the roads that lead to the city’s four gates. Soldiers tried their best to contain the crowd, initially using peaceful words, but when the people got angry, they resorted to violence.Bookmark here

The crown prince had to send his remaining royal officials to control the situation.Bookmark here

Likewise, back at the royal castle, everyone’s mood was at the lowest. I could tell that the royal ministers wanted to bolt out of the fortress and run to their own families. The guards stood by their posts, but anxiety remained on their faces. Soon enough, just before the ‘long sleep’, the Amaranthine levy militia and royal guards were put on alert and manned the outer and inner walls of the capital city.Bookmark here

To prepare for our departure, Maddie informed the Crown Prince and the Duke about what we came to conclude in our conversation earlier—minus the part about the ‘mole’ within us.Bookmark here

Understanding the danger that they’d put their beloved saint in, the two leaders agreed to provide replacement carriages, as well as soldiers to escort us out of the kingdom and into the relative safety of the border of the Duchy of Savoy to the east.Bookmark here

Well, even though it came late, at least these two are now working to reverse their mistakes.Bookmark here

I guess everything would be alright in the end. I only hoped that every one of us here would live to see it.Bookmark here

I wonder where the king and his queens are in this chaos…Bookmark here

“I already sent them to the central keep.” the Crown Prince told me, while we wait for the arrangement, “His Excellency the Duke recommended I move them there for safety.”Bookmark here

Ah yes…”,Bookmark here

The kitchen princess then appeared, running to her brother, “Brother, we should also retreat to the central keep. Father and our mothers had already locked themselves there.”Bookmark here

“No, Jessica, as His Majesty’s regent, I’d like to remain here and direct the defense together with the Duke of Braunhauer.”Bookmark here

“That villain! Why does he still live? He’s a traitor! He deserves to be thrown into the dungeons!”Bookmark here

“Well, that’s the last thing we need right now.” the prince calmly explained, “I need his military expertise, see? Besides, he’s our father’s trusted friend and my godfather. I’m sure we could settle our differences once this crisis had passed.”Bookmark here

Jessica then showed us a sword and shield, “If that’s the case, then let me join the battle as well!”Bookmark here

The prince laughed and took away the equipment from her hands, “I’m sorry Jessica, but your place is not here. You won’t die in this castle, for you’d still continue to cook delicious food for the Saint.”Bookmark here

“W-What do you mean?” the kitchen princess had a horrified look on her face.Bookmark here

“Kuro…” the prince then turned to me, “If it’s possible, can I entrust my little sister’s safety to you?”Bookmark here

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It took a while to convince the kitchen princess, but soon we finally got her to agree to the prince’s request for me. While I did not know how to save her in face of an army of 25,000 angry nobles and their supporters, I said yes to put his mind at ease.Bookmark here

I’ll just explain the circumstances to Maddie later…Bookmark here

Jessica had watery eyes while we’re walking back to the room where Maddie was staying. Starting from now, she would be with us, so that it would be easy to move once we began our escape.Bookmark here

“You know, if you wanted to cry, it’s fine.” I offered her a handkerchief.Bookmark here

“N-No…” but she still took it from my hand, “I’ll try my best to be strong for my brother.”Bookmark here

“Well, being strong also includes the courage to admit our weakness and limitations.”Bookmark here

The kitchen princess remained silent. However, I heard her soft sobs after I said that.Bookmark here

“Thanks…” she whispered.Bookmark here

A few distances away from the room where Maddie was staying, we stopped. It because right in front of the door was the Duke of Braunhauer and his family.Bookmark here

I glanced back at Jessica. Anger was written all over her face as if she’d run to them at the soonest moment and hit the man she considers as the cause of this chaos.Bookmark here

“Your Highness…” I tapped her shoulder, “Please control yourself. I know that you’re angry at that man, but remember what your brother said. He would not like division among us right now.”Bookmark here

Jessica clutched my arm, ostensibly fighting off her desire to attack the Duke.Bookmark here

“Yes, that’s it. Breathe deeply.”Bookmark here

It took a while for the kitchen princess to calm her nerves. I kept her aside so as not to get near the Duke and his family, or it could become a disaster. I approached them to ask about their concerns.Bookmark here

Ah, Sir Kuro!” it was the Lady Hanna who greeted me, “We are looking for you!”Bookmark here

“Mister Kuro…” Eris had a troubled look on her face.Bookmark here

“Why? Is everything alright, Your Excellency?”Bookmark here

The Duke remained silent for a few moments before speaking, “Sir Kuro, I’d like to ask for your forgiveness for treating you roughly before. But anyway, please listen to this old man’s request?”Bookmark here

“Huh?” Treated me roughly before? Did he mean the time when he forced me to a drinking contest? I don’t think it’s a bad thing, though.Bookmark here

“Sir Kuro, my husband, he would remain here to defend the city against the rebel assault.” Lady Hanna explained.Bookmark here

“And mommy would join him!” Eris continued.Bookmark here

“Wait, you’re fighting as well, milady?” I asked, bewildered.Bookmark here

“Yes, Sir Kuro. I won’t leave my husband behind!”Bookmark here

“But how about Eris, and Luisa?”Bookmark here

“That’s what I’m telling Hanna. But she won’t listen.” the Duke answered for her, “My daughters need someone who’d take care of them, and if we both die here, our house would fall!”Bookmark here

“Eris doesn’t care about it, Dad!” Eris pleaded, “Please don’t leave her!”Bookmark here

“I agree with your daughter, Your Excellency.” I told them, “Please reconsider.”Bookmark here

“Sir Kuro…” the old Duke said, “…sometimes a parent would have to sacrifice his life for the welfare of his children. And as Eris’ and Luisa’s father, I need to remain here so that they could escape to the border safely.”Bookmark here

“I’ll remain here with you!” Lady Hanna pleaded, “Please don’t make me leave you, Norman!”Bookmark here

“Escape to the border?” I didn’t like the sound of this…Bookmark here

“Yes, Sir Kuro…” the Duke then bowed before me, “I know it’s not right for a noble to bow before a commoner, but I’m doing this as a father to my children. Sir Kuro, please, take my daughters with you and Her Holiness back to the Holy Palatial Gardens.”Bookmark here

“I…” I was so surprised by his request that I couldn’t find any words to say to him.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Your Excellency! You may leave your daughters to us.”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Our attention was grabbed immediately by Princess Jessica, who was listening to the conversation. Honestly, I was shocked to see her step-up, and to her enemy’s daughter as well.Bookmark here

“B-But, Your Highness—”Bookmark here

“I know. And I admit I committed mistakes in the past.” the princess confessed, “However, now is not the time to doubt my words, Your Excellency. Duchess Eris and Marquise Luisa would be safe at the Holy Palatial Gardens, and Sir Kuro would take care of them, along with Her Holiness.”Bookmark here

Hey, why did you drag my name here? Well, no matter. I’d just go along with them for now, since the Braunhauers needed peace of mind.Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Excellency.” I agreed, “Though I did not get to know you well, I treat your daughters as my friends. Her Holiness and I won’t abandon them.”Bookmark here

The Duke then burst into tears. Lady Hanna was trying to calm him down, but he even bawled louder.Bookmark here

Man…I don’t want to watch scenes like this…Bookmark here

“My daughters…” he said in-between his sobs, “They’re too young and yet they’ve been friendzoned early on!”Bookmark here

What? That’s your reason to cry? We’re about to die here; get serious, for fuck’s sake!Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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