Chapter 34 of Almadianos is here! This is the second chapter of the volume so it’s still sort of an introduction, but don’t worry, we’ll be seeing the rest of the cast in the next chapter.
For the Patrons, Chapter 35, Chapter 36 and Chapter 37 are all available on the Patreon page. (And thank you very much for your support)
Anyway, here is the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Christopher, the king of Jormungand, was greatly perplexed. A pressing situation had come to him out of thin air.
The court had fallen into great chaos, and that was only natural given that the emperor of Asgard, Heimdall, had suddenly sent a marriage proposal to Lunaria.
Nowadays, the Asgard empire was the nation with the strongest military power of the continent. If the proposal was carelessly refused, the empire could use that as an excuse to start a war.
That was the basis of the argumentation that Albert and the other nobles on Felbell’s side had been actively pushing forward.
On the other hand, the nobles on Lunaria’s side argued that the kingdom was one of the five powers of the country and stood at the same level as the empire. It was therefore preposterous to offer the princess’ hand for no other reason than the fact that the emperor had requested it.
Not to mention that Heimdall was a philanderer with a bad personality.
Although marriages were important when it came to the royal family’s diplomatic relationships, Christopher had a hard time evaluating the pros and cons of accepting, given that the person making the offer was Heimdall.
However, it was also true that Felbell’s faction was gaining the upper hand in this debate.
Their opinion was that if Lunaria could become the queen of the Asgard empire by marrying the emperor, that would not be a loss in any way.
If this proposal had been made by a nation such as the Tornedora kingdom in the south, perhaps even Christopher would have seriously considered their offer.
【”But I think we should refuse…”】
Perhaps the nobles of Felbell’s faction were thinking that it did not matter how this would turn out as long as Lunaria was gone, but it was not that easy to get rid of those who had the royal family’s blood.
If Heimdall and Lunaria were to have a son together, the Asgard empire could go as far to ask to inherit the right to the throne of Jormungand.
Although diplomatic marriages were certainly effective to improve relationships, it could turn into a double-edged sword if there was no initial trust between the nations concerned.
And the Asgard empire was a country that Christopher would never trust, even in case of a major emergency.
―― However, as previously mentioned, a badly handled refusal could easily be used as an excuse to start a war.
Moreover, it would likely be impossible to convince the nobles on Felbell’s side using a pretext such as the Asgard empire not being trustworthy enough.
At his wits’ end, Christopher let out his frustration with a groan.
But before he could consider the situation any further, someone interrupted his pondering.
【”Your Majesty, a subordinate sent you a report.”】
Said Christopher with an ill-humored voice, while glaring at the member of the “King’s Ears” who had just entered in the room.
(Yet another troublesome matter has come up.) Thinking so, Christopher could not help himself from taking on a snappy attitude, although he knew that was unreasonable of him.
【”The subordinate is one who has infiltrated Asgard. He reported that Lapland was invaded by the empire’s forces a few days ago.”】
【”You’re saying Heimdall moved his army? That war hungry madman!”】
Christopher struck the table in front of him with his fist while clenching his teeth.
It had been only a half month since the Asgard empire had destroyed the Maclean dukedom.
Although it was a small country, Christopher thought that it would still take a lot of efforts and an important part of the empire’s army to maintain the occupation over the dukedom.
Why did the empire have to be in such a hurry to start yet another conflict?
For the past hour, the questions Christopher had for Heimdall kept on piling up.
Even more problematic was the fact that, historically, Lapland and Jormungand had friendly ties.
Normally, dispatching reinforcements to the dukedom would have been Christopher’s natural reaction. However, even if he sent reinforcements, would they be able to win? That seemed very unlikely.
In the worst case scenario, Lapland would fall despite the reinforcements sent by Jormungand, and the empire would then become fully hostile towards the kingdom.
Then, what if the kingdom just did not send any reinforcements to Lapland?
If that were to happen, it would undoubtedly make the Jormungand kingdom look unreliable in the eyes of the surrounding small countries.
The king was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Adding to that, the nobles who feared war were going to do everything in their power to protest against antagonizing the Asgard empire.
【”How should I maneuver from here…?”】
It did not look like anything would come to clear up Christopher’s anguish.
◆ ◆ ◆
The loud footsteps of a young woman walking at a quick pace resonated within the corridors of the royal palace.
Her skin was albino white, and her snow-like hair had an even clearer shade of white, which sparkled as it reflected the sunlight.
The young woman’s name was Frigga Lapland.
She was the younger sister of king Siegfried Lapland, and since he did not yet have a legitimate child, Frigga was the first in line to inherit the throne.
Her golden, almond shaped eyes showcased a fiery, unyielding spirit. And the beautiful shape of her nose was akin to that of a bisque doll. All those traits made her look like a war maiden sent by the heavens.
People referred to her as the Snow White Valkyrie.
She was also a mighty commander that the small kingdom of Lapland boasted about to the rest of the world.
But at the moment, that powerful woman was trembling with anger and biting her lip.
That was because, a little while ago, she had received a report stating that the troops stationed at Lapland’s national border had been vanquished by the Asgard empire’s forces.
【”―― Not only were they defeated, but they were not even able to escape!”】
For Lapland, which was less powerful as a nation, losing the first battle was indeed painful, but it was not a fatal blow.
Frigga had already made preparations to reorganize the remaining forces at the border in order to create a new line of defence.
No matter how bad a defeat was, it was common sense to retreat and do everything possible to limit the losses at 30%.
However, if, like the report claimed, the losses were indeed close to 70%, then it was going to be necessary to rework the troops’ tactics from the root.
【”Your majesty! I have a request!”】
Frigga declared so right after entering, while facing her older brother, who was sitting on his throne with folded arms and closed eyes.
【”―― Absolutely not.”】
【”But, brother, I haven’t said anything yet!”】
Not thinking that she would be rejected before she could even speak, Frigga reflexively shouted in retort.
【”You’re going to say that you want to buy time in the vicinity of Crowdagen, so that I can prepare a counteroffensive or escape, right? However, I have no intention to send you to your death.”】
Crowdagen was a valley located at a natural strategic position, between the Beltir mountain range and the Neruk mountain range.
It was impossible to reach Bernholm, the royal capital, without passing by here. It was the perfect place for a small army force to earn some time.
But the major difference in strength between the small troops that would go there and the Asgard empire’s army meant that the time earned would be gained at the cost of the lives of Lapland’s forces.
That was what Siegfried was referring to when he said he did not want to send Frigga to her death.
【”Brother, you do understand what’s taking place, don’t you? Without sacrifices, our country will suffer the same fate as the Maclean dukedom.”】
Now that she thought about it, the nobles’ fighting spirit had been much too high before the start of the war.
Perhaps that was the work of the enemy, spreading false information that made it seem like Lapland’s army had a chance against Asgard’s forces.
For Frigga, there was no doubt the enemy had done this in order to delay Lapland’s retreat.
At first, Frigga had suggested to reinforce the kingdom’s defenses and to use guerrilla warfare to an extent, but her views had been thoroughly opposed by a large majority of nobles.
The royalty in Lapland was not as influential as it was in large countries like Asgard and Jormungand.
But Frigga was still deeply ashamed, believing she should have stopped those nobles’ opposition, even if she had to make use of her sword.
Had she done so, the lives of over 10.000 soldiers would not have had to be pointlessly lost. But it was too late.
―― All that could be done now was to hold back Asgard’s army, no matter the cost.
And there was no commander other than herself who could use a small army to hold off Asgard’s force of around 40.000 soldiers.
【”I have already requested for reinforcements from Macban and Jormungand. Moreover, there is always the option of besieging Asgard’s troops right here, in the royal capital.”】
Siegfried’s honest thoughts were that, even if Frigga gave up her life to earn some time, that would likely still not prevent the kingdom’s downfall.
Which is why he was planning to persuade Frigga to flee abroad the second a chance to escape presented itself.
【”That’s not going to happen and you know it, brother. With the unstoppable charge that Asgard is carrying out, why would any country send reinforcements?”】
Politically, Lapland had already lost.
But Frigga was not going to admit defeat before fighting back militarily.
Afterwards, if Asgard’s forces were to end up in a difficult battle thanks to her, maybe the countries which were hesitating to send reinforcements would start moving.
For that purpose, Frigga was already well prepared to die.
【”That’s enough, Frigga. I will be the one to take care of the troops.”】
During times of peace, Siegfried was kind, impartial, and had a great sense of justice, which certainly made him a good king for Lapland.
However, this was a time of war. Siegfried’s kindness was of no use now.
【”Your majesty, it’s impossible for you to face Asgard. If you want me to stop, then bring me a commander who is more capable than I am.”】
【”I am the king of this country… this is my responsibility.”】
As he declared so with a trembling voice, Siegfried’s shoulders dropped.
He could not even protect his own precious little sister, what was the worth of such a king?
【”Brother, the only thing I can do is fight. On the other hand, your responsibility is to decide the kingdom’s future.”】
Whether the final decision would be for the country to surrender or for the people to escape, the future of Lapland was ultimately in Siegfried’s hands and his hands only.
The only thing Frigga could do was to fight to the bitter end in order to push the realization of that final decision.
At this point, nothing was going to stop her from that, not even the king’s direct orders.
【”Alright, but don’t die, Frigga. I will send some help your way without fail.”】
All Siegfried could do was to make this small promise, while clenching his teeth as he drowned in his own sense of powerlessness.
The one duty left for him was to not let Frigga’s fight go to waste.
【”Trust me, brother, I’ll show them that people don’t call me the Snow White Valkyrie for nothing.”】
Although he was her blood brother, even Siegfried was charmed by the clear smile and laugh that decorated Frigga’s parting words.