Chapter 46 is out!
For the Patrons, Chapter 47, Chapter 48 and Chapter 49 are all available on the Patreon page.
Anyway, here’s the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
【”Sir Mathers… Or rather, allow me to call you sir Almadianos. Can we expect any reinforcements from the Jormungand kingdom?”】
Since he had already been told who Kurats really was, Siegfried decided to ignore Frigga and to ask about reinforcements instead, as it was currently his greatest concern.
Kurats’ help was certainly better than the help of an army of 10.000 men.
However, his individual intervention was not enough to get the surrounding small countries to change their outlook on the war.
The neighboring Macbarn and Elsreid kingdoms were very important allies, and they would surely send their troops if they determined that Lapland could win, even if that was paradoxical.
That being said, Siegfried still wished Jormungand would officially send some reinforcements, even if only a few, just so that other countries would think that Lapland had its chances.
【”I doubt they will send any. A lot of people are still on the fence in our country. The army wants to intervene but some of the court’s people don’t agree.”】
【”…In the end, we will have to hold on by ourselves.”】
Siegfried sounded very bitter.
The country’s losses at the frontier were worse than expected. After reorganizing the troops, there were no more than 7000 soldiers left.
Even if Siegfried combined those troops with Frigga’s, the army’s numbers would not go past 8000. Asgard had suffered considerable losses as well, but their numbers were still too overwhelming for Lapland to face them.
【”Brother, if we stick to defense, our situation will only become worse and worse. We need to show a clear victory to the other countries as quickly as we can.”】
What was needed the most right now was a symbolic victory.
If Lapland were to, for example, defeat count Cabernard on the battlefield, then their allies would feel relieved enough to send reinforcements.
The problem was whether Lapland could pull of such a victory.
【”―― Forgive me for interrupting your conversation. An envoy came with an urgent message. He’s one of the soldiers stationed at Guryud.”】
After knocking on the door, an old butler with thick eyebrows entered the room.
【”Send him here immediately. He has my permission to come inform me personally!”】
Guided by the castle’s chamberlain, a young soldier entered the room and immediately kneeled down. He was completely out of breath and was using his last reserves of energy to yell out the information he had for the king.
【”The count of Berglund has betrayed the country! Asgard’s main forces have already started marching towards his territory!”】
Berglund’s territory was at the west side of Lapland. It was positioned at an important point in the kingdom’s trafic that could allow Asgard to attack the capital from behind, though they would would need take a long detour to do so.
After failing to capture Crowdagen, Cabernared had found himself two options. He could either try to capture Crowdagen once again, or he could take that detour and go directly to the capital.
For him, the choice had been obvious.
Having faced Kurats’ absurd brutality, he wanted to avoid fighting from the front as much as he possibly could.
And it so happened that among the nobles he had taken as prisoners in his last victory, there was the eldest son of the count of Berglund.
Cabernard made the most of this valuable gain.
He used the count’s son as a hostage for negotiations, and he then spread the information that Lapland had lost more than half of its forces.
Given that the information was true, the count of Berglund immediately leaned to Asgard’s side.
In the first place, since Lapland could almost be considered a federation, there were not many aristocrats who would go as far as sacrificing themselves for the nation.
Similarly, the count of Berglund did not have a strong enough sense of duty to stay loyal to the royal family when his household could be on the brink of destruction.
Rather, he was thinking actively cooperating with Asgard in order to preserve his territory’s status.
His first target to further that goal had been the Guryud fortress, which was located near Berglund’s frontline.
Since the Guryud garrison had no idea about the count’s betrayal, one surprise attack from his army had been enough to eliminate them overnight.
That night, all Guryud’s supplies and provisions were taken away, and the fortress was set on fire.
Hopelessly outnumbered, Guryud’s troops were all killed, but by sacrificing themselves, they managed to send out one man.
His name was Vander. He was a soldier who had joined the garrison only a year ago.
After he was sent out, Vander had ridden his horse without rest towards the capital, as the fortress vanished in flames behind him.
【”―― You have done well bringing me this information. Excellent work.”】
Feeling relieved by Siegfried’s words, Vander fell down and fainted on the spot.
【”Take him to a doctor. He’s a meritorious retainer, so treat him with care.”】
【”As you will, your majesty.”】
The chamberlain carried Vandel by the shoulder and left the room. Once they were both out, Siegfried sat down heavily on his chair and let out a deep sigh.
【”It’s one problem after the other. I never thought they’d march to Berglund.”】
Asgard’s army had to take a detour around the mountains to get there, which would put a considerable burden on their supplies.
Despite that, they were still willing to go through with it. This showed how serious they were.
The most powerful on the continent was apparently dead set on destroying Lapland.
Siegfried had been optimistic, thinking that they would not go as far as invading Berglund. Now he could not help but feel ashamed of how naive he had been.
【”―― Your Majesty, I was wondering…”】
Unlike Seigfried, Kurats had a calm smile on his face.
【”If Berglund were to disappear, would that be a problem?”】
The whole room became silent.
No one was able to infer what Kurats meant by his words.
【”Disappear? What do you mean by that?”】
【”I mean, literally disappear, as in, if I destroy it to the point where there is no trace of it left.”】
“What the hell are you on about?” Siegfried barely managed to stop himself from asking that.
Frigga had told him beforehand about how Kurats had thrown enormous rocks that weighed several town.
If he could make such massive weapons fall from the sky one by one, perhaps he really could erase a whole city by himself.
【”Hold on! Don’t! The count of Berglund is an enemy and should certainly be defeated, but his territory’s people are not to blame. We should do everything in our power to avoid any indiscriminate slaughter!”】
Siegfried had no other choice than to say so.
Perhaps this wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things since the whole country was in danger of being destroyed, but Siegfried still prefered to avoid incurring the enmity of his own people if possible.
Slaughtering a whole territory’s population while they weren’t putting any resistance would only serve to further alienate the nobles from the royal court.
【”Even so, if Asgard takes on the city, the people will perish all the same, won’t they?”】
In this world, the fate of a city that was occupied by another country was cruel.
Just because Berglund had switched to Asgard’s side, that did not mean Asgard’s army would not plunder and requisition the possessions of the locals.
An army was a living entity that needed to be maintained with food and supplies; when they did not have enough of either of those, they would just snatch them away from wherever they were staying.
【”That must be why the count took everything he could from the fortress before burning it…”】
The count had done this to spare his people from being plundered, even if only a little… Even so, Lapland was in no position to spare any sympathy to count Berglund.
【”…Then, would you allow me to destroy Berglund’s castle?”】
【”Yes, if you only destroy the castle, that would be better.”】
Though there would probably be some civilian casualties, it was fine to assume that the people working in the castle were count Berglund’s officials.
Siegfried was still having a headache thinking of how to go about defending against Asgard’s army afterwards, but he figured it would be possible if the outer walls of the castle were spared from destruction.
【”Thank you very much.”】
『You can’t use an anti-military spell like ‘Altaic Sun’ this time. If you want to destroy only the castle, using something like ‘Malaga’s prison’ would be safer…』
(Can’t I just throw rocks again?)
『This meathead… Look, I don’t think the results will be as good if you keep using the same method over and over. Besides, you’ll be able to show how extraordinary you are as a mage this way. Sounds nice, right? RIGHT?』
Every battle Bernst had been shown so far was far from his ideal of a what a battle should be. At this point, he wanted his mage pride to be fed at any cost.
(You want me to use magic that much, huh?)
『What’s wrong with a mage using his magic?! And what kind of phony mage only depends on his muscles?! I’d say that’s what’s wrong here!』
(I don’t know about that.)
Proud as he was of being a mage, Bernst could not tolerate seeing a mage fight with his muscles only.
So while he did acknowledge Kurats’ strength, he could not give up on making him change his methods.
Besides, sooner or later, Kurats was going to meet opponents that he would not be able to beat with his muscles alone.
Despite his abnormal strength, his muscles were not almighty. He had plenty of openings that could be taken advantage of.
However, it wasn’t clear whether the enemy they were fighting this time was aware of that.
【”――Well then, we shall strike first and take out count Berglund.”】
◆ ◆ ◆
Entrusting everything to a helper like Kuraats would not be a good thing for the Lapland kingdom’s reputation.
Even if he had no bad intentions, this would certainly become a political issue after the war.
Since that was the case, Frigga came to accompany Kurats to Berglund.
By using her griffon, they would undoubtedly arrive at destination faster than the Asgard empire’s army, plus the Lapland kingdom would be able to save some face by saying the snow white valkyrie cooperated with Kurats.
One other reason the kingdom had to go through such lengths to make things seem that way was that count Berglund’s rebellion had greatly shaken the royal court’s allies.
So much so, in fact, that if it wasn’t for the presence of an absurd wild card like Kurats, it would not be strange if other aristocrats were to follow the count in his act of betrayal in the future.
Clearly, despite the victory in Crowdagen, nothing had changed. Lapland was still in danger of being destroyed.
【”Y-you know… It’s fine if you want to hold tighter.”】
In contrast to what Frigga shyly declared, the griffon did not seem pleased.
That reaction was not surprising. It was probably tedious for the beast to carry a heavy man like Kurats.
Especially since its master was too busy caring about said man to give it any attention.
【”Well, don’t mind if I do.”】
After saying so, Kurats hugged Frigga’s small waist from behind.
Since the griffon was flying at a high speed, the wind was relentlessly blowing on both of them, an that made the warmth of each-other’s skin that much more comfortable.
Kurats felt like the touch of Frigga’s waist was perhaps even more arousing than Cornelia’s or Lunaria’s.
【”H-hmm, e-excuse me. It’s perfectly fine to hold me, but when you caress me like that it’s kinda embarrassing, and it’s making me feel funny…”】
It seemed like Kurats had been moving his hand without realizing it.
【”Sorry, that was rude of me.”】
【”N-no, it’s no big deal.”】
Frigga turned her blushing face away, in a state that made it feel like this was more than a big deal for her.
【”That aside, Griffons sure are fast. Must be because they have don’t have to face any obstacles on their way since they travel through the sky.”】
【”Right? And Shellac right here is the fastest Griffon there is!】
As Frigga puffed up her chest with pride, the griffon cried out like a spoiled child being praised.
It seemed to understand human speech to some extent.
『Humph, flying spells are the basic of the basics in magic! Why can’t you use them? This is unacceptable!』
(Easy to say, but they’re not that easy to use!)
Embarrassed, finding excuses was all that Kurats could do in response to Bernst’s complaints.
Floating in the sky stationarily was not difficult for him.
However, he could not keep control when he’d start accelerating forward.
He once flew so fast that he almost broke the sound barrier.
No matter how strong he was, he would certainly not be left unscathed if he exceeded the speed of sound.
Still, even in that situation, he would not need to worry for his life. That was yet another proof of the mightiness of muscles.
【”When we have time, we’ll go capture a griffon for you K-k-k-ku-Kurats! After all, we have our ways to tame them in Lapland!”】
『What are you waiting for? She dug deep to find the courage to call you by your first name. Hurry and do the same.』
(I wonder why everyone is so obsessed with wanting to call me by my first name…)
Seeing that, just like with magic, there was no sign of progress to Kurats’ understanding of the emotions that tied men and women, Bernst silently looked up at the sky. Just thinking of how he was going to guide this alter-ego in the direction he wanted was already giving him a headache.
Unaware of those thoughts, Kurats approached his mouth close to Frigga’s ear, and replied to her with a baritone voice that resounded from deep in his abdomen.
【”I’ll look forward to it, Frigga.”】
Bernst had to admit that Kurats’ acting was worthy of praise.
【”Hiii! Y-you can’t blow on my ear like that!”】
While trembling all over her body, Frigga let out a sweet voice that Kurats had never heard coming from her until now.
Even she had noticed what she had accidentally let escape from her mouth.
Frigga became red from her head to her neck and looked down in silence for a little while.
Unable to stand the awkward mood, Kurats immediately turned his gaze towards his surroundings.
There, he saw a high mountain that stood at a height of over 3000 meters (10000 ft), and was covered with white snow on its peak. It looked almost as if the mountain was wearing a silvery-white crown.
And so, high above these empty skies that few had ever seen up close, the two people awkwardly held each other while heading for the enemy’s territory.