BBYW Vol. 2 Chapter 31 (WN)
Chapter 31 – Unsheathed Blade of Deceit
“…and that is all, Young Master.”
Oboro, member of the Fangs of Steel — next in line for the head position, in fact — finished his report and I nodded.
“I see, good job…time to set the plan into motion, then.”
As Oboro disappeared into the darkness, I looked up to the sky.
The night sky was mostly covered by clouds, but the moonlight filtered and grew, gradually illuminating Fort Bryden.
“The light of hope shines through…literally. It’s a bit of a pity that this battle will be over so soon.”
I snickered to myself, then returned to the office in the center of the fortress.
If everything went according to my expectations, the battle would be over by sunset. A battle to likely remain in the history of the continent. And the winner will be…
“What? A messenger from Prince Grett?”
“Yes, what shall we do?”
Early morning. Just before he could give orders to start the attack on Fort Bryden, Lars received an unsettling report.
“I cannot send him away, can I? Have him come to my tent.”
“Certainly, Your Highness.”
“Do not let your guard down, though. Have a number of knights present.”
“Naturally. We will guard you no matter what, Sire.”
After the knight left, Lars crossed his arms and started thinking.
(What does he want, at a time like this? Since it’s Grett, It can’t be anything right, but…)
Lars had discussed with his close retainers the matter of Grett’s possible collusion with House Maxwell just the night before. For Grett to send a messenger right after that seemed far too timely — or so Lars couldn’t help but conjecture.
“Hopefully, it’s not bad news.”
A vain hope: Lars himself had a vague feeling of dread about the situation, as drops of sweat lined his back.
Eventually, a single man appeared before him.
“Are you Grett’s messenger?”
Lars, sitting on his chair, questioned the knight kneeling before him. The middle-aged man, his breastplate decorated with the Second Imperial Army’s crest, had entrusted his sword to one of Lars’ retainers and was now on his knees before Lars, unarmed.
The knights and other retainers surrounded him with stern, intimidating expressions.
“Yes, Your Highness! We humbly bring wishes and felicitations upon Your Noble Highness, Prince Lars, and…”
“Cut the pleasantries and get to the point!”
The struggle against Maxwell left Lars all but jolly: the knight’s formal greeting sounded like mockery to his ears.
“Certainly! Allow me to relate Prince Grett’s message.”
The knight, his head still down, paused for a moment and continued.
“We have been informed that in the assault on Fort Bryden’s eastern walls, guarded by Dyngir Maxwell, Prince Lars’ First Imperial Army has suffered severe losses. Prince Grett thus proposes to send part of the Second Imperial Army’s troops as reinforcements.”
“Hmm…we are cornered to the point we must seek the Second Imperial Army’s assistance. Is that what you are saying?”
Lars’ expression twisted in indignation. The First Imperial Army’s situation was surely not favorable, but to be offered reinforcements by his political rival was simply repulsive.
“I implore you to calmly consider the situation, Sire. We are allies in this war against House Maxwell. I am well aware of how this proposal might sound to Your Highness, but this is the time for us to join hands, is it not?”
Lars would welcome reinforcements with open arms in this situation — unless they came from the Second Imperial Army. In the worst-case scenario, it could mean inviting misfortune among his men.
Lars glanced at his retainers, which reacted to the situation in various different ways. Some of them expressed displeasure, others seemed to view the proposal as worth considering.
“Your Highness, Prince Grett’s proposal is nothing but a boon for our army. I believe we should accept it.”
The first one to speak was Snowe Halphas. The young “Wise General” suggested they accept the proposal, a vaguely smug look on his face.
“No, we cannot possibly accept!!”
“Exactly! To borrow the Second Imperial Army’s help would be a knight’s shame!!”
“Our forces will be more than enough to crush a country noble like Dyngir Maxwell!!”
“W-What nonsense!! Why should we refuse reinforcements!?”
The tide turned completely against Snowe. Even the knights who seemed to consider accepting the reinforcements now argued vehemently against it.
All the retainers present had participated in the secret meeting with Lars the night before. They suspected Snowe was a traitor and would oppose any of his opinions, regardless of their validity.
On the other hand, Snowe was utterly unaware of such a background, and looked at the knights with visible confusion. All of them, Lars excluded, looked back at him with brimming hostility.
Snowe, realizing they might have found out about his betrayal, panicked internally.
“..hmm, I see.”
After listening to all opinions, Lars made his decision.
“I am grateful for Grett’s concern, but I shall decline. To borrow the Second Imperial Army’s assistance in this situation would tarnish our authority.”
“…!! Your Highness!! We should— ”
“Sir Halphas!! You dare question His Highness’ decision!?”
“Remember your station, youngster!!”
Snowe tried protesting, but was silenced by the other retainers.
(You idiots…!! Armed boars without an ounce of strategy in your heads…!!)
Snowe cursed them in his heart, but could only retract his objections. He had studied the art of war since he was very young, so he saw knights who had established their positions only through personal achievements on the battlefield as mere barbarians. For his opinion to be so thoroughly rejected by them was the epitome of humiliation.
“Duly acknowledged, Your Highness…I suppose there is no other way.”
The messenger sighed, disappointed.
“Correct. Give my greetings to Grett.”
The messenger bowed obsequiously once more, then headed towards the tent’s entrance. The meeting was over, so the knights and retainers breathed a sigh of relief.
That very same moment —
A loud, crashing sound was heard outside the tent. It sounded just like something had crumbled: all the people inside the tent turned towards the direction of the source.
“ —Rest in peace!”
The very instant the attention of all present was directed outside, the man acted.
The messenger drew the short sword he had concealed in his sleeves and jumped towards Lars.
“!! Your Highness!!”
The retainers shouted — one moment too late.
The merciless white blade had already pierced Lars’ body.