Editors: Ainz Ooal Gown, Darkdhaos
Regis Auric was a young soldier who was bad at swordsmanship, horsemanship and only knew how to read. After being exiled to the borders, he met a crimson eyed and vermillion haired girl——Marie Quatre Argentina de Belgaria. Nicknamed Altina.
Her mother was a commoner and because of that she was banished from the courts. Despite being just 14 years of age, her status as royalty elevated her to the position of commander of the border regiment. She did not lament her fate, instead resolving herself to change the Empire for the citizens oppressed by the tyrannical government.
“I want to be the Empress, lend me your wisdom and swear fealty to me.”
In order to let others acknowledge her position as commander, Altina challenged the de facto commander, the hero Jerome to a duel, and achieved the final victory.
Although Regis still lacked confidence in himself, he still promised to be her strategist.
The two of them went through all sorts of crisis.
The attack of the barbarians.
Taking the invulnerable Fort Volks.
Attending the ‘Empire’s founding day festival’ in the capital…
As the throne inheritance right troubled the Belgarian Empire, they were forced to face the declaration of war from the neighbouring High Britannia.
At the same time, Fort Volks was assaulted by Varden Grand Duchy.
Under the masterful planning of Regis, they crushed the enemy’s attack in just one night. And in the ‘Battle of Lafressange’ that followed, they aided the Seventh Imperial Army in their retreat.
While the Imperial forces were shrouded in the despair of their disadvantages, Regis smashed apart the High Britannia's ‘Queen’s Navy’ as the acting Fleet Admiral, cutting off the enemy’s supply line successfully.
He then shattered the supply unit led by the Mercenary King Gilbert, making the decisive chess move that would lead to the Empire’s victory.
Second Prince Latreille, who took charge of the capital’s defences, saw the depraved sight of the Emperor lavishing himself with luxuries even as the nation was in imminent danger. Unable to control his rage, he swung his blade ‘Arme Victoire Volonte’ down…
At the same time, he disguised his regicide as the Emperor passing from old age.
The fortress city Grebauvar located to the north was captured by the combined forces of the Langobalt Kingdom army and the remnants of the High Britannia army. Answering Latreille’s call for aid, Regis participated in the fight to take back the city—— In order to execute Regis’ plan, 3rd Grade Combat Officer Vallis infiltrated Grebauvar city.
With the help of a girl named Felicia, he rescued the captives successfully.
In the final battle, Regis obtained the authority to command the First Imperial Army from Latreille. Not only did he utilize his knowledge from books, he also made use of his battle experience so far and finally defeated the Langobalt Army.
And by making use of a large scale mechanical device, he flooded Grebauvar city and forced the enemy to surrender.
During the battle, Regis realized that the enemy commander had fled with his sharp observation of the enemy’s movement and proposed a pursuit.
Latreille personally led his cavalry to pursue and finally forced the Queen of High Britannia to a corner. Although the enemy commander Oswald attempted to turn the situation around by himself, he ultimately fell under Latreille’s sword.
With her retreat cut off, Queen Margaret attempted suicide but was saved by Regis.
The war between the Empire and High Britannia ended with victory for the Empire.
However, Regis’ intellect was a serious threat in the eyes of Latreille.
“Kill… Regis d’Auric.”
The knights of the First Imperial Army drew their blades.
But at this moment, another assailant appeared before Regis.
Prologue: The Corpse of Regis d'Auric
Field Marshall Allen Deux Latreille de Belgaria had a band of absolutely loyal escort knights.
Even when he assassinated the Emperor, they were by his side.
They received orders to assassinate Regis d’Auric and gripped their swords tight.
The one who relayed this order was the right hand man of the Prince, Chief Strategist Germain Laurentis de Beaumarchais.
Of course, this command can’t be made known to too many people. They even had to avoid the attention of the soldiers from within the First Army.
Hence, their numbers were limited to 30. They might be few, but every one of them were the strongest of the elites.
It was obviously overdoing it for the assassination of a strategist who couldn’t even wield a sword. That should be the case.
Most of the staff officers stayed in tents near the headquarters, not far from Latreille’s quarters.
But Regis d’Auric felt distanced from the group and stayed in a tent a bit far away from there.
Large tents that could accommodate several soldiers were scattered here and there.
Normally, the soldiers would be sleeping by now. However, they were drinking heartily because of the grand victory today. It was dangerous to light a fire near their tents, so everyone headed to the riverside and celebrated beside the bonfire.
Even so, there should be guards near the tents…
One of the knights muttered softly.
“...What’s going on? There’s no one here?”
Usually this would be a trivial matter, but for the group tasked with this secret mission, this was very alarming.
Everyone hastened their pace.
Like beasts stalking their prey, they closed in on the target’s tent.
The torches in their left hand illuminated the surroundings.
If their light source wasn’t the flickering torches but the bright sunlight, they might notice the countless footprints around this tent.
And right now, these tracks had been covered by this group of knights.
This tent could hold accommodate 6 people and was big enough for a 3rd Grade Admin Officer, but too small for a staff officer. They surrounded the tent.
It was allocated for the strategist Regis and that female General Affairs Officer. The maids attending to his needs were staying in another place.
The knights in front gave each other a look as a signal.
And drew their swords quietly.
—— They would kill the target first. Then the female General Affairs Officer. If the maids were present, they would kill them too. Finally, they would burn down the tent.
While his achievement made it no exaggeration to call the strategist the messiah of the Empire, he was so powerful that he became a threat to their lord. They must not let him live.
The knights entered the tent.
“Sir Regis d’Auric! Prepare yourself!”
They might be assassins, but they were knights too. Hence, they raised their voice.
It was pitch black in the tent and the lights were out.
They illuminated the area with their torches.
Only one of the two makeshift beds had a blanket on it. From the bulging shape, someone should be sleeping there.
Were the two of them were sleeping on the same bed?
—— Such things do happen. The knight raised his sword.
“Sir Strategist, you are awake right!?”
They wanted to grant him the goodwill of stating his last words… But that wasn’t it. The real reason was this staff officer tent. If they realized they ‘got the wrong man’ after stabbing with their swords, it would be a grave problem.
Was he sleeping soundly after experiencing that intense battle?
“Hey, get him up!”
Heeding his orders, the lowest ranked knight drew near the bed.
He strode forth openly.
But he was actually tensed, as if he was extending his arm towards a beast.
They heard that the strategist had weaker swordsmanship than a child. During battles, he didn’t even carry a sword, much lest armour. This should be easier than strangling a rabbit.
However, he was known by chilling names like ‘Magician’ or ‘Monster’. The strategist that achieve a number of miraculous victories. Just in the battle earlier in the day, he toyed with the enemy forces with his terrifying and precise commands.
It would be strange to find him defenceless.
The young knight felt an invisible wall between him and the bed.
—— Is this a trap?
His forehead was sweating.
He could feel the pressure from the knights behind him.
He couldn’t bring himself to run away.
The young knight stepped forth cautiously, grabbed the blanket with his trembling hand and pull it off.
Revealing a bloody corpse.
The knight back away with a start, then tripped and fell.
The older knight who gave the order opened his eyes wide.
He rushed forth in a panic.
The corpse was wearing a dark green uniform. As this was the uniform used by the Imperial Fourth Army (formerly the Beilschmidt Border Regiment), it was obvious that Regis d’Auric was the only one who would wear it in the First Imperial Army.
This was undoubtedly the target.
But there was no way to confirm his face.
Because the corpse’s head was missing.
Even the knights who had experienced countless battles and seen plenty of corpses felt like puking.
The Knight Escorts started panicking.
They came to assassinate him. In that sense, their objectives had been completed without them needing to carry it out. That wasn’t a problem.
But who did this?
Who cut off the head?
Was this corpse really the target?
The guards around the tent were missing, but there should be at least two to three layers of security separating this place from the outside.
If nobody was found, then it means it was the work of someone inside?
“What about that woman!?”
She was Fanrine Veronica de Tiraso Laverde.
If that was the case, her motives would be unclear. She appeared to be despatched by the Ministry of Military Affairs to monitor the strategist and her House was aligned with the Fourth Princess. She had reasons to protect the strategist, but no motives to kill him.
There was no signs of her, was it done by that woman?
One of the knights searching the tent yelped.
“What’s the matter!?”
“L-Look at this!”
He pushed the water tank over.
There was a headless corpse inside. Not just that, it didn’t have arms and the torso was covered in wounds, distorting it beyond recognition. Despite being covered in blood, the dress it was wearing seemed to be of high quality. It probably belonged to the General Affairs Officer.
Was this corpse that hated?
—— Was this done by someone bearing a huge grudge?
Or maybe someone else ordered this assassination? And the head was taken back as proof of accomplishing the job?
They came too late—— That’s the fact. Being worked up over it would just deepen their shame.
“Stay on guard here. I will report this to Chief Strategist Beaumarchais.”
“What about just burning the tent like this?”
“Even if we don’t know who did this, the end result is the same. We just need to burn it all down.”
“Well… although it won’t make any difference...”
“The main objective of assassinating the strategist is completed… We can’t let bad rumours spread amongst the ranks.”
Indeed, if the group of knights surround this tent while he was seeking advice from the Chief Strategist—— it was clear what the soldiers would think.
Another man raised his voice too.
“It’s fine to report after setting the fire!”
The other knights nodded in agreement.
An appropriate course of action.
“... That’s true.”
After pressing the torch onto the table where the candles were, it caught on fire immediately.
They then torched the bed where the corpse laid.
All this would burn to crisp in no time.
The Knight Escorts stared at the body on the bed.
“... It’s too horrible an end for the strategist that saved the Empire.”
Inside the dim tent, Germaine whispered.
“They report the plan to be a success.”
“Is that so…”
“As expected, you still feel it is a pity?”
“... Am I? Maybe it’s more appropriate to say that I am relieved to have buried my strongest foe. But I do feel the sensation of loss. Is it from losing a worthy opponent, or lamenting the lost of such a talent?”
“But, there is one thing I am sure of—— The strategist I can trust is you.”
Germain froze for a moment.
“... Erm… Does it look like I am jealous?”
“I can feel that you are uneasy, because the look in your eyes changed… Or rather, I can feel that you are revealing your intangible thoughts.”
Latreille clenched his fist.
“Don’t worry. I am not foolish enough to hesitate on who I should trust.”
“Y-Yes my liege… my apologies.”
Germaine laid out a blank piece of parchment.
“Prince Latreille, should we notify the Fourth Army about this?”
“... Yes… We need to.”
He momentarily thought about saying ‘I will leave this to you’, but Latreille decided to do this himself. Because this was a troublesome manner, he didn’t want to push it to his subordinate.
“... Because of circumstances beyond my control, 3rd Grade Admin Officer Regis d’Auric was killed in action on the field of battle. I am incredibly saddened by his loss.”
“I have noted it down. I will sent a messenger to the Fourth Army with haste—— What about the remains and his personal effects? Although they had more or less been burned…”
“Just process it as normal.”
“Understood. Oh right, we will need to send this to his next of kin.”
“Does he have a wife or any children?”
“He seems to have a sister who has been married off to Rouen city. That seems to be all. I don’t know if he has any side chick though.”
“With all that he had achieved, it wouldn’t be strange for him to have a fiancee… Our spies didn’t send us any such intel though. He appears to mainly stay indoors to work on his day off, or just read books.”
“Enough, just send it to his sister.”
He didn’t want to hear about the daily life of the man that had already been assassinated.
Germaine lowered his head.
“Yes my Prince.”
—— He will read books whenever he has time huh.
Was this the reason behind his outstanding talent?
“He just died without any counter tactics huh… It feels unsettling. I am not questioning the loyalty of my Knight Escorts, but that strategist would always think of strategies that exceed our imagination.”
“That was true—— Let’s issue an order to secure the perimeters of the camp, and send search party out into the forest. Tell them to be wary of people leaving the camp.”
“Yes… But we can’t use the reason that we are searching for the strategist?”
“Use the reason that High Britannian captives had escaped. We suspect that they had help from the inside, so no one is permitted to leave the camp—— Just give this order.”
“That should be fine. Well done.”
“Thank you very much. I will relay the orders right away.”
Germaine saluted and left the tent.
Latreille leaned back onto his chair alone and looked up at the sky.
“He’s dead huh… If I had done things better, maybe things would have turned out differently? Once again, I… lost someone I wanted so badly.”
He pulled open a drawer and took out a small wooden board.
It was a painting.
But it was smaller than normal paintings, just the size of a palm. On the canvas was —— a woman with black haired tied up by a hair band with floral patterns. She wore a wide apron, and held a colour palette and brush in hand.
“Beatrice… I won’t let you wait too long…”
Imperial year 851, August 6th——
Eleven days had passed since Latreille received the report of Regis’ death. Fort Volks.
Eddie sat down onto the grass weakly.
Thump, Altina stabbed her sword down into the ground.
“Hmmm… If I performed that action this way… Yup, it will be better.”
“It’s getting worse recently.”
Eddie said with a sigh.
Altina tilted her head.
“I’m talking about you. It seems that your body is becoming more grown-up?”
“It was incredibly flat before, but the places that should protrude are sticking out now!”
Altina backed away unconsciously, her arms before her chest.
Eddie clenched his fist tightly.
“Muscles! Your muscles are bulging!”
“.... Huh? Ah, right.”
“As expected, even the body of girls would change when they reach 15. I could feel the weight behind your blow much more than before.”
“R-Right… It’s Eddie after all. That scared me…”
Frankly speaking, this man was a sword nerd. The Fifth Princess Felicia also had a screw loose. She would dress like a man and disguise herself as the First Prince Auguste, the two of them would act so intimately that strange rumours were spreading amongst the soldiers.
And of course, Eddie didn’t know what Altina thought and continued:
“I can’t hold back from now on. One false move and I might cleave off your arm during training.”
“So you know how to compliment others huh, how rare.”
“I am not complimenting you, this is just a proper evaluation—— As the man with the title ‘Sword Emperor’, I admit that you have grown stronger.”
“Hmm? I do feel I have grown a lot.”
“Of course… Not just me, you have trained with grandpa who is the former Sword Emperor, and that Mercenary King that much.”
“Although Gilbert can only use a wooden sword. Evrard absolutely forbid him from using any other weapon.”
“The risk of giving a real sword to a prisoner is too great.”
“It will be fine if I don’t lose right?”
“... No… Well, if it is the present Argentina, it should be fine to say this. You don’t seem lost anymore.”
“You felt lost some time ago right?”
Ahh, Altina flicked her hair.
“During the war with High Britannia, I had been relying on Regis all the time right? Even when I heard about Latreille becoming Emperor, all I could do was cry.”
“I think that couldn’t be helped. After all, Latreille had the advantage in age, achievement, backing and order of succession. He is also a man. Frankly speaking, his background was completely different from you.”
“Yes. But Regis said he will not give up. So, I won’t give up either.”
“That’s the problematic part—— What should we do?”
“You are still a dummy.”
Altina puffed out her cheeks.
Eddie said seriously:
“Latreille had always been smarter right?”
“Hmmp, all just pretty words! In the end, all he is saying is ‘defeat the enemy’ right?”
“No no——… He had put a lot of thought into reforming the army. Not just his adjutant, he also gathered experts in politics, economics and religion for a discussion.”
“Right, I agree that relying on smart people is the right move. After all, even if I study now, I won’t be smarter than the smart people now right? I mean within this year or two.”
“Haha, that’s not true. It’s not possible even if you spend more than three years.”
“Hey you… It’s still possible okay? I am studying properly right now!? Well, I think it’s better to tap on the wisdom of others for now.”
“So that means leaving it all to Regis?”
“Hmm… Well, if he gets overwhelmed with work, Regis will fall sick again, so we need to hire other people. Let’s gather some of them… But we will only know if they could be of use after Regis returns.”
“Indeed. For issues relating to Admin Officers, it would be better to decide after he comes back.”
“Yup—— And so, I need to do the things only I can do! It’s decided then!”
Altina puffed out her chest.
“Which is, swordsmanship?”
“We are fighting for the sake of peace. If we can settle the issue through negotiation, I will leave it to Regis. And when I am needed… that would be for times when things could only be resolved through battle right?”
“Oh, that’s true! Even Argentina would have times when she thinks things through—”
“Fufufu… And so, I will train my skills with the sword. For the times when he needs might. This might sound strange—— but it’s also for times when Regis need protection.”
The two of them smiled wryly.
“Hey, isn’t it weird for the master to train her sword to protect her subordinate?”
“But it is impossible for Regis to swing his sword for the sake of protecting me.”
“... That’s… Compared to Argentina getting smarter, that guy getting stronger is a much more impossible task.”
“So we should go about this in the best way. I am stronger, so I will protect Regis. Regis is smarter, so I will borrow his intellect. I think that should be fine.”
“I see, that’s why you don’t feel lost anymore.”
Altina nodded firmly.
Eddie looked up into the sky.
Several clouds covered the clear blue sky.
“Regis is… unfathomable. Just reading more books will make a person that amazing? I don’t really understand military strategies either, but I’m sure that guy is a genius strategist.”
“I asked him before, ‘why do you know everything?’”
“Well, he said the usual ‘This is normal’, ‘I just happened to know’... He also said something else too.”
“What is that?”
Eddie leaned in close curiously.
“Erm… After reading a book you will gain knowledge right? If you hold on to these knowledge and read other books, you will notice even more things. That’s what he said.”
“There are many ways to read books—— When you read something you already knew, you may think ‘I already know this, this is nothing special’ and treat the content like water off a duck’s back. Another way would be ‘because I already know this, I can discover new things’, these two types of reading. That’s what he said.”
Eddie nodded, he didn’t look as if he understood, but still seemed impressed.
Altina explained again.
“That means, the people who read a lot of books can glean more things from books compared to those who don’t read much.”
“Is that so?”
“This is the same as swordsmanship! There is no point in practising triple strike before you can even swing a sword properly, right?
“Ahh, I get it. After you can defend the opponent’s attack, you would have a wider choice of counterattack options.”
“Yup, it’s the same for consecutive leg sweep attacks. Although leg sweeps are short ranged and slow, so it didn’t mean much anyway.”
“I understand now. Reading is not just about the quantity, you can reach newer heights by accumulating more experience too!”
“Regis said you have to immerse yourself in the book, then you will see a deeper and wider world.”
“Speaking of which… the stronger I get, the more I can understand how strong grandpa is… Is that the same thing?”
Recently, Altina had started reading too. She allowed Clarisse to teach her.
However, using swordsmanship to describe her progress in her studies—— She had not reached the stage to learn skills yet, it’s still too early for her to swing her sword. Right now, she was preparing herself through physical exercise and training.
“‘I already received permission, please read Regis’ book collection. Then organize your thoughts and write it down.’ That’s Clarisse’s instruction.”
Read books and write book report. That was all. For those who had attended school before, this might not even count as studying.
Even so, Altina was still progressing one step at a time.
Eddie stood up with his ‘Defendre Sept’ in hand.
“Alright—— That’s enough rest, let’s have another match.”
“I won’t lose this time——”
“I haven’t said ‘I’m tired’ yet!”
Altina braced up her giant ‘Grand Tonnerre Quatre’
A soldier ran up the stairs.
“A messenger is heading towards the fort! He probably came from the capital!”
“... What’s the matter? I will be right there.”
She was wearing light armour for training use, but there didn’t seem to be time to change her clothes. Altina lifted her huge sword.
Eddie sheathed his blade too.
“I will go with you.”
Altina sat on the chair on top of the platform.
This was the room renovated by Evard when she was away on a campaign. It was plain, but still decorated with red drapes on the wall, and the skylight was furnished too. It was large enough to accommodate 30 soldiers.
Red carpets were laid out in the center.
The staff officers of the Fourth Army stood on either side of the carpet.
Escort Officer Eric, Fort Commander Evard and the Knight Commander of the newly formed ‘Flying Sparrow Knights’, Abidal Evra were all present. There was also Battalion Commander Eddie, and Baltasar who was here as a guest.
Eight Regimental Commanders were also here.
<TL: literally ‘Commander of a thousand men’.>
The Black Knight Jerome, the former commander of the Second Army Benjamin and his brother Jestin had left to reinforce the eastern front line.
The messenger rushed to the hall and genuflected.
“Message from the Field Marshall!”
He presented an envelope.
Eric walked forth briskly to receive it, and hand it over to Altina.
There was no doubt the wax seal bored Latreille’s imperial seal. There were no signs of it being tampered with.
Altina cut the seal open, and unfolded the parchment inside.
“Our army defeated the enemy’s main forces and retook the Fortress City Grebauvar. But 3rd Grade Admin Officer Regis d’Auric was killed in action on the field of battle. I am incredibly saddened by his loss.”
Her mind seemed to be rejecting this fact as she looked at these words. His body and personal effects had already been sent to his sister in Rouen City.
Altina stood stiffly with the parchment in her hands.
Edvard approached her when he saw this.
“Your Highness, what’s the matter?”
“... Ah… Eh?”
“What does the urgent message says?”
She proffered the letter.
“Pardon me, allow me to read it out loud.”
Edvard was speechless, but for soldiers who experienced countless battlefields, they already had the resolve for such a day to come.
He read the contents of the letter with a pained expression.
Rowdy voices spread in an instant.
Eric fell on his knees.
“How can that be!? How can that be possible! I don’t believe it!”
“Isn’t that murder!?”
Abidal Evra said sternly.
It was true that it was a dangerous siege against a fortified enemy. But they won the battle while the strategist died, which was a hard pill to swallow.
Several staff officer approached the messenger quickly and pressed:
“This is unacceptable! How did Sir Strategist die!?”
“I am not sure… about this…”
Abidal Evra drew his sword.
“Sir Auric is the hero that saved the nation! You think you can go back so easily after bringing such a vague report!?”
Evard grabbed Abidal Evra’s shoulder.
“Hold it! This man is just a messenger who rushed all the way here!”
“We… no, the Empire was saved by Sir Auric! Such… Such an ending is unacceptable!”
“It’s the same for me. I know how you feel. But killing this man won’t change anything.”
“Your Highness! Your Highness, what do you think about this!?”
Everyone’s gaze fell onto Altina.
Instead of sitting in a daze on her seat, she stood up.
“I will ask Latreille to give me a proper explanation.”
Wahh! The staff officers were heated up.
Evrard said in a loud voice:
“You want to stop me!?”
“Assuming—— that Sir Regis was really murdered, seeing that opponent would be entering a lion’s den! This is different from the situation last time!”
During the Founding Day Festival, even though Altina didn’t have much prestige, Latreille still needed to be wary about his reputation. But now, there was a high chance he would dispose of his political foe by any means with no regards for notoriety.
“... I know that. I am not the fool I used to be… But I absolutely can’t accept what is written on this flimsy piece of paper… Furthermore, this is too incredulous right? I can’t believe that Regis is dead!”
“We feel the same too.”
“Evrard, Eddie, I will leave the fort to you two. Abidal Evra, how many men can we mobilize right now?”
“Three thousand… No, it should be four thousand.”
“Then mobilize them.”
“Yes my Lady. The preparations will be done tomorrow morning——”
“I said right now. Let the infantry and supply unit catch up later. The cavalry will leave first.”
Argentina raised her voice:
“The only way to show my resolve is speed! I will show him that such half hearted apologies would not earn my forgiveness! Even if Latreille acts for the sake of the nation—— I will still teach this stupid brother of mine that not everything he does will be forgiven!”
“I-I understand! I will act at once!”
Abidal Evra looked at the staff officers around him.
They didn’t even deliberate at all before deciding to march for the capital—— This would be a difficult expedition. And it was very likely that they would clash with the First Army.
Ugh… The staff officers were silent.
But they took a step forward.
“We swore allegiance to the Princess, and we are also in Sir Strategist’s debts! We have already made the resolve to forfeit my life at a moment’s notice!”
Abidal Evra passed down the detailed instructions.
Eric kneeled before Altina.
“Your Highness, I don’t know if I can be of use, but please bring me along!”
“... You might die there you know?”
“I would be happy to!”
“... Even so, please don’t die on me, can you promise that?”
“Eh? Y-Yes, I swear.”
“Good, then come along.”
“My utmost gratitude!”
The Fourth Army moved swiftly and less than an hour after the urgent order was given, 500 cavalry had already left the fort.
Before the break of dawn, four thousand infantry and the supply unit also set off.
Not one soldier hesitated in taking part.