Upon returning to the Asgard Empire’s capital, Gunther kowtowed before Emperor Heimdall.
【”My deepest apologies, I come bearing disappointing results from the battle.”】
【”―― It’s fine, you did well.”】
Though Gunther had come back from battle with no victory to show for it, Heimdall was in a surprisingly great mood.
Then again, had he been in a bad mood, he would not have been able to blame Gunther for his defeat either.
By now, the head of the fourth army, Cabernard, had been killed, and even the head of the second army, Skuld, had discarded Asgard in favor of Kurats.
Asgard did not have enough talents that they could afford to throw away a commander of Gunther’s level.
Besides, Gunther was still the strongest swordsman of the empire.
【”Now then, tell me, how did “it” fare?”】
Gunther naturally knew what “it” referred to.
The Asgard empire’s secret, ultimate weapon――The protection of the absolute echelon.
This was a trump card created in order to fight against monsters and demons, beings capable of exceeding human limits by far.
Once this technology would mature and become widespread through the empire, it would strike fear into human countries and demon countries alike.
The only problem was the instability of the technology. However…
【”I can say the weapon is definitely effective. It was able to take a blow from both the lord of Bashtar and Rosberg’s magic sword, Gerlach.”】
【”I see. What is the problem, then?”】
Heimdall asked arrogantly, as if Gunther was stating the obvious.
【”It’s the ouput, as we expected. Because of it, it is not necessarily possible to activate the protection in the heat of the battle. Moreover, we have to prepare to incur some losses when dealing with weapons that deal both physical and magic damage like the magic sword, Gerlach.”】
【”Gerlach, you say? That certainly is a troublesome weapon, but it is only an artifact that cannot be mass produced.”】
Gerlach was built at the peak of a lost technology. It was said no blacksmith of the present era could ever recreate it.
Even if Rosberg was going to be a difficult opponent, that was just part of the many things that could not be helped during a war.
That was especially true with the recent developments of magic technology.
【”――Besides that, I also acquired some interesting information. It seems we should not be quick to look down upon Jormungand.”】
Saying so, Gunther recalled the unexpectedly powerful tactical spell that the magic corps of Jormungand had used against him.
If not for the magic defense of the Chaos riders, his army would not have been able to deal with that attack.
【”Were you able to see through the magic device they were using?”】
【”It was quite easy to understand how it worked. It seemed they were using monster parts as material for the device. If we can apply the same method, we should be able to improve upon the output of our weapon.”】
【”Splendid. If that succeeds, we will no longer have to fear the lord of Bashtar.”】
In truth, Gunther’s pride did hurt from having to withdraw from battle after almost being defeated.
Next time, he was going to make sure Kurats’ face would take on the shade of humiliation.
This firm attitude was one of the secrets behind Gunther’s strength. He had the persistence of a snake.
As a soldier, perhaps it was good to have a frank and straightforward attitude without a shred of hesitation when facing adversity. However, Gunther believed such a direct nature could only bring harm to a warrior.
He had to survive every battle to make sure he would win the next time around.
A warrior that was unable to do so would die quickly, never leaving a name behind.
――Gunther believed he had to win the label of strongest because he was born as a man.
What he wanted was not to be the strongest swordsman or the strongest mage. He wanted to truly be the strongest man, at the top of the pedestal.
Moreover, he wanted to carve his name in history.
That was why he had never brought himself to question the nature or morality of his strength.
【”We will teach that meathead the taste of defeat, once and for all.”】
【”Hehehe… That man, Kurats. I heard his fame as the hero of Jormungand is sky high now. I feel the impact from defeating him will undoubtedly be massive.”】
Despite the results of the battle, the Asgard empire had yet to suffer any defeat. As proof, they had not lost a single inch of their land so far.
【”That said, there is someone else hatching schemes behind the scenes. As a matter of fact, I was informed a short while ago that an assassin managed to seriously injure Christopher.”】
【”The king of Jormungand?”】
Though Heimdall’s tone was light, this matter was dreadfully serious.
In a monarchical autocracy, the king was the summit. He had the absolute power and was at the center of all of the kingdom’s politics.
The fall the king meant that none of the kingdom’s important matters could be processed.
Perhaps this explained why Kurats and his forces had not pursued the first army.
【”Christopher has no siblings, he only has his daughters. Only princess Lunaria will be able to act as his regent. The problem is that there is reason to believe the demons were behind this political change.”】
【”Could this be because… the demons found about our research?”】
【”No. If they did, they would have directly come to the empire. For the demons, this might be some sort of play to watch the humans fight each-other.”】
When taking the overall picture into account, the Jormungand kingdom was the one gathering demon and monster parts as materials.
That or they had already earned themselves the grudge of a high grade demon.
In truth, Heimdall was not far off the mark with his guess. What had led Lucia to spread chaos in the kingdom in the first place was that she had to go there to look for Triestella.
No matter what the reason was, it was clear that the demons, whose power far surpassed humanity, had broken their long period of silence to interfere with human society.
【”――It seems we need to hurry.”】
【”The output is not the only problem either. I believe we need to work on our offense as much as we did on our defense.”】
【”I suppose I will need to give those two sisters yet another push…Still, it is unfortunately too early for us to face the demons and monsters. That said, with the circumstances being what they are, I feel I can expect some amusing outcomes from that youngster.”】
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