BBYW Vol. 4 Chapter 3 (WN)
Chapter 3 – Conspiracies Abrew
After making sure the creature was defeated, Valon exhaled deeply.
“What a fearsome opponent…though I wish I could have faced him while he was still alive.”
“Lord Valon! Are you unhurt!?”
“Yes, nothing to fear.”
The vice commander approached Valon, who raised his left hand in response, then looked around the fortress walls.
The “Terror Armies” had begun their assault shortly after noon: it was now almost evening, and their numbers had decreased to about 20-30 per cent.
One of the most vexing characteristics of these undead creatures was that, no matter how many of them fell in battle, they would never surrender, and continued fighting until the very last “man”.
The soldiers protecting the fort were growing tired because of the relentless battle, but seeing the enemy numbers visibly decrease hinted that victory was near, so most of them still looked bright.
“We should be able to overcome this assault too. Our duty will be fulfilled soon.”
For whatever mysterious reason, the “Terror Armies” always emerged from the desert between the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Once defeated, they would not be seen again for one year. This yearly battle was one of, if not the most important duty of House Sphinx.
“I will soon inherit the title of Margrave, after all…I am glad I did not bring shame to the clan with an unsightly battle.”
Valon’s father, Vert Sphinx, had been suffering from liver disease for a while, thus he could not command on the frontlines anymore.
Because of that, as Valon had graduated from the noble academy, he was set to inherit the title. The ceremony was going to be held immediately after they returned from the battle.
“Jaar, I ask you to continue supporting me. For the peace of the western province, for the glory of House Sphinx, for the sake of Naam and Mist as well.”
Valon spoke softly to his vice commander, who replied with a silent nod.
Valon, however, noticed that the young man’s shoulders were unnaturally trembling: his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“Jaar, are you wounded? This place is safe for now, you should go get fixed in the…”
Jaar raised his head and was about to speak — when an explosion shook the whole fortress, suppressing any other sounds.
The violent shock struck Valon as well, pushing him on the floor, though he barely managed to endure it.
“Was that…gunpowder!? But why!?”
Valon had heard it just once before, in the southern province — the booming noise caused by weapons used by pirates and the like in sea battles.
That kind of weapon was unheard of in the western province: naturally, none were stocked in the fortress either.
Valon leaned out from the walls, looking for the origin of the explosion: to his utter shock, he found that a hole had been opened in the walls of the fortress.
“This can’t be…what the hell is going on!?”
A square hole, about 2 meters wide, had been blown open in the western side of the fortress. The unexpected opening was soon filled with the undead, which charged inside like an avalanche. The screams and shouts of the soldiers below rose up to the walls.
“Kh…no…this is absurd…!”
The debris of the explosion was scattered outside the walls — which meant that the gunpowder had been set from the inside.
There were traitors inside the fortress: a reality that shook Valon to his core.
“Who in damnation would benefit from letting those creatures inside!? N-No…that will have to wait!! We have to take down the enemies inside the fortress at once!!”
Valon quickly turned to his vice commander and shouted an order.
“You’re in command of the walls! I will dispose of the enemies inside!!”
“There might be traitors inside the fortress. You best be on our guard too…?”
Valon’s words died in his mouth. More precisely, they were stopped by an external cause.
“…I am truly sorry, Lord Valon.”
Jaar’s dagger pierced Valon’s back.
The tip of the blade, poking out of his chest, was bright red with blood. Valon looked down at his chest, stupefied, as bloody foam gurgled out of his mouth.
Valon was sincerely clueless. Jaar Menfis was a vassal of House Sphinx, as well as a close friend of Valon himself, just three years older. They had eaten, slept, and lived together.
Jaar’s ancestors had traversed the desert to the western province, just like House Sphinx. They had fought side by side for generations.
And yet, the friend — whom Valon thought of as family — had stabbed him from the back. There was no way Valon could accept it.
“…once this all ends, I will be at your side. Please forgive me!”
Jaar twisted the handle of the dagger, turning the blade in his master’s chest, then pushed his body out the walls.
As Valon’s body struck the sand below, the undead began swarming it, like fish gathering around bait.
“Please…forgive me, Lord Valon…”
Jaar’s empty apology vanished in the air.
The other soldiers were too occupied with the aftermath of the explosion to notice the betrayal: no one could witness the tears shed by Jaar either.
The fortress’ defense had been ruptured, its commander lost: it was a matter of time until it fell in flames. The few surviving soldiers abandoned it and ran.
Thus, the “Terror Armies” at long last succeeded in crossing the border into the Kingdom of Lamperouge.
At this point in time, only a handful of people knew that this was only the beginning of the conspiracies brewing in the western province.