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Chapter 128 – Northern Expedition
It’s been about three weeks since Ares first arrived at Fort Troia. He didn’t have many other activities aside from running the soldiers through some training. On the other hand, the barbarians often made appearances near Fort Troia, but never really went for a full offense. The two sides were pretty much stuck in a stalemate.
Ares took Shion to the top of the rampart to see the situation.
[There is a sea in that direction.]
[Nn. The northern sea is indeed situated just beyond the grassland.]
[I wish I could get there somehow.]
[Arcadia is a land-locked country… having a shoreline will certainly lead to a large scale development… if we aren’t careful about it.]
[Right, they will most certainly seize both the frontier territory and the shoreline from us. For thec『Empire』, reaching the shore has been, in a sense, a long-time wish after all.]
Presently, the frontier received barely any attention due to its known status as an 『Undeveloped Land』. Adding to that was the fact that Grants itself had long been known as the 『Cursed Land』. The impression that the people at the Royal Capital had was that it’s an undeveloped land where wild magic beasts, demons and bandits run rampant. It’s said that you’d be lucky to be alive after setting foot on this poor land.
[Because of that, I was able to develop as much as I want without too many prying eyes.]
Of course he knew that there were still some spies coming in to check the real situation. But he had the 『Dragon’s Eye』acting as counter-espionage. The spies captured sometimes submitted becoming a source of information.
But now, the situation has changed a bit.
A greater number of spies had been sent to the frontier lately, be it by the Royal Clan, aristocrats, the church forces and even from other countries.
The reason being the mass migration.
The capital had sent many messengers to better understand the state of the frontier territory. But none of them managed to enter Grants due to security reasons. That’s why they at most stayed in Redgear, awaiting for news from Grants… but of course the response was already obvious.
“Don’t know.” or “Aren’t those peeps simply spread out in the three former countries, including Redgear?”
That’s how it went.
But this great unknown… and the fact that the lord of this frontier territory is 『that』Ares Schwarzer, of course it became a source of curiosity to those who hold power.
So even if their spies kept missing in action, they simply sent even more spies.
[Not yet, we mustn’t let them know yet… at least in 3 years. By then, we must have already calmed the barbarians, and in addition to having a shoreline and creating a stable foothold in the eastern continent… only then we’ll let the entire continent know of our true form.]
Shion chuckled at Ares’ words.
[The entire continent is going to be in deep trouble.]
[Might as well. At that point, I think the entire continent is probably already in deep trouble.]
During that conversation, the two noticed something coming from behind them.
[Zekka. You’ve returned?]
[Yes, milord. It actually took longer than expected.]
It was Zekka, emerging from the shadow.
[Then let’s hear the report. Shion, sorry, but can you please gather up the main personnel?]
Ares said as he turned around, now heading to the council room.
Ares urgently summoned the officers of Fort Troia to gather.
[Zekka is back. After confirming the information he got, we’ll arrange a plan accordingly.]
Ares announced first. The attendees’ face became solemn.
Ares had all officers stationed in Troia Fort to avoid unnecessary clashes with the barbarians until they obtained more reliable information.
was what Ares often says.
[Well, everyone has gathered it seems. So, Zekka, please.]
Zekka obeyed and began his report.
[As per Ares-sama’s order, I have investigated about three matters. One about the leader of the barbarian army that attacked us twice the other day. Two about the foreign warrior who was with the army leader. And three… regarding the current leader of the barbarians, the Barbaric King Amqa.
Zekka paused to take a breath before continuing.
[Firstly, regarding the army leader… the man’s name is Batu. The young chief of the Wind tribe.]
[He is the Wind tribe’s chief…?]
Roland groaned. The Wind tribe is one of the two largest tribes among the Northern barbarians, rivalling that of the Steel tribe.
The heroic king Jamka, the first to obtain the title of Ran, also belonged to this tribe.
[It’s hard to believe… that they’ve also fallen to the Steel tribe…]
[A few years ago, the Steel tribe attacked and defeated the Wind tribe when they were at their weakest state. Since then, the former has been using the latter as a vanguard against tough adversaries.]
Everyone groaned after hearing Zekka’s report.
[Batu is a legitimate successor to the previous chief Bahar. His valor is praiseworthy, was fair to the many tribes under the Wind tribe and he’s also a perceptive man who aimed for a better future. But now…]
[How did Amqa manage to elude such a good man?]
[According to the investigation, we found out that Amqa took the old chief Bahar, along with several women and children of the Wind tribe as hostages. Batu had no choice to follow his order around.]
To summarize Zekka’s report, a few years ago, the Steel tribe attacked the Wind tribe’s settlement. Amqa caught them by surprise since Batu and most of their elites were away. The old chief Bahar fought back, but was defeated, leaving the settlement in shambles. The women and children were taken hostage and now, Batu and his men had to endure the humiliation to keep them alive.
[Hmm… Batu of the Wind tribe… I think we can come up with something to deal with them.]
Ares then motioned Zekka to continue.
[The foreign warrior that Ares-sama has been worried about… is a man called Shu Shiranui.]
Listening to that name, Ares was hit by a sense of familiarity.
[….did he hail from the far east island nation?]
[Yes. He’s a warrior who came from the far east islands. Apparently he’s been helping Batu because it’s beneficial for himself.]
Zekka replied obediently. But Ares’ mind seemed to be elsewhere.
[Shiranui… is it that Shiranui? Could it be that… he’s the descendant of that sage Shiranui? How nostalgic…]
Feeling suspicious of their lord’s reaction, Shion and Sigurd called out. Woken up from his reverie, Ares chuckled and apologized.
Zekka then resumed his report.
[Unfortunately, nothing more is known about this person. In my understanding, we are going to try to persuade the barbarians, aren’t we?]
[Yes, indeed. We’ll surely meet again on the battlefield so let’s use that chance.]
[And lastly… Regarding the barbaric king Amqa.]
And thus, Zekka started telling what he had gathered regarding this man named Amqa.
[Hmm… I never thought that the『Serpent of Darkness』was involved in this.]
Ares sighed after hearing Zekka’s report.
Zekka’s information revealed something surprising. Even among the Steel tribe, Amqa was excessively destructive and ferocious. One can only wonder how someone like him could become the chief of the Steel tribe.
According to Zekka, he gathered together people with the same inclination as himself, murdered the previous chief and replaced him. Since then he’s been ruling the Steel tribe by force. Shortly afterward, he began his conquest against other tribes, ambushing them one after another.
However, force alone shouldn’t be able to unite the barbarians in such a short period of time. So how was it even possible?
Zekka decided to look into it, and found out that there was someone standing behind Amqa. It was thanks to his plans and sometimes his sorcery that Amqa was able to achieve everything.
Ares then asked Zekka some other questions before coming to a conclusion.
[We have the bigger picture now. As it turns out, the barbarians weren’t as monolithic as they seemed to be. There is the 『Ki』of this man named Amqa, supported by the 『planning』and 『magic』of this other mysterious man from behind the shadow. That’s certainly a lot of things to digest.]
Ares laughed, then said to everyone.
[I will now adjourn the council for today. Everyone… please be ready for battle at any moment’s notice.]
The atmosphere changed when everyone heard the last part. It’s clear to them that Ares was meaning to tell them to prepare for war. With this, they’re finally going to wage war with the northern barbarians for real.
[I will hold another council come tomorrow. So be prepared and don’t stay up too late.]
[ [ [ [ [ [ Yessir! ] ] ] ] ] ]
Everyone nodded to Ares’ words.
Four remained in the council room; Ares, Shion, Sigurd, and Zekka. They stayed to discuss the plan they should take against the northern barbarians.
[First we need to do something about the Wind tribe. This is already a given.]
Shion nodded in agreement.
[There are also those people among the barbarians. Should we try to isolate them or is it alright to just crush them all off together with the barbarians?]
[Barbarians are barbarians in the end. We also need to crush those people completely. Moreover…]
Ares paused before finishing his sentence. Guessing what’s going on, Sigurd spoke up.
[Is Ares-sama worried about that foreigner?]
[When Ares-sama heard his name earlier, you reacted as if Ares-sama recognized it. Is it something to do with that?]
Ares smiled at Sigurd’s question.
[I guess so. If it’s the same Shiranui that I know of… then he’ll be a tough opponent. One that we can’t defeat if we aren’t serious.]
Sigurd and Shion were speechless after hearing that.
[Well, in any case, we won’t know unless we tried. Shion, have you devised a solution?]
[Affirmative. Then allow me to explain…]
Ares, Sigurd, and Zekka listened intently to Shion’s strategy. And thus, the fire of war that the barbarians had ignited is about to be doused.