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Chapter 148

The grand reality of the Palace Royal was engulfed in chaos. No, it was more like a comical play where enemies put on a ridiculous performance.

Various factions of the royal court and the factions of each count were rampant, continuing their hollow acts.

“Your Majesty!! There’s urgent news that Count Granmarteau has crossed the border of Saint Mathilde!”

“We must open the gates! Count Granmarteau is merely with righteous individuals seeking to protect the monarchy, opposing them would be folly!”

“Innominate! Can’t that mouth be shut?! Look at what these so-called righteous individuals are doing! All the crops in Narbong are withering! Your Majesty, please punish them!”

“It’s reported that Count Vermontpor has begun organizing his forces. Your Majesty, you must head to Pervignon! Saint Mathilde cannot withstand the forces of rebels!”

The king looked at his advisors with dry eyes. More than half of them intended to remove him from the throne.

Since the moment the Homeland Guardian vacated his position, the conspiracy had begun like clockwork. No one in the court was on his side. Not even his ugly sons.

“Your Majesty, as your son has observed all along, Count Granmarteau is a loyal servant of long standing. His troops are only here to endure the chaos of this kingdom…”

“What nonsense is this! Your Majesty! If you command it, I will personally head to Pervignon with Count Vermontpor’s forces to protect Saint Mathilde!”

Open the gates to welcome the rebels.

No, gather rebels from other regions.

No. We must wait for the Homeland Guardian.

Perhaps it’s better to seek refuge in a foreign land and march again with foreign forces.

The shouts of many, all desiring to kill this kingdom, filled the court long ago.

The king pressed his temples. In the noisy court, he was alone, quietly lonely.

The weight of the royal hall was so light. It was a monarchy built on killing the righteous, sacrificing the loyal, and executing the faithful.”

“I sold my brothers and nephews. Only to maintain the sovereignty of this kingdom.

Without it, this country would have been finished. The king’s power alone does not symbolize the nation. However, if even the authority of the royal family falls among these snake-like nobles, this country could never function as one nation.

So, it’s an inescapable trap.

Ober III, the aging king of Tylesse, raised his wrinkled hands worn by time. Finally, his advisors fell silent. This was his only remaining authority.

The eyes of his courtiers sting. They are not concerned about the king’s welfare, but greedy for the inheritance to be passed on to the next generation of rulers.

His loyalists are now completely gone from this place.

And the old king, who endured long wars to maintain the throne. Once called the Lion King of Tylesse, this old man now had no will left to fight.

“If we stand together, can we hold out?”

“Your Majesty!! Count Granmarteau is not a rebel…”

“Enough. Speak. If you ask for support, who will extend a hand? Krasilov has only just escaped my control, and Kalion is beyond the distant sea, while Drovian is even further away.”

All the powerful nations of the Alliance Kingdoms are like that.

The alliance cannot save Tylesse right now. Let alone the forces within Tylesse itself.

Half are in the grip of Count Granmarteau, and the remaining half are scattered everywhere. Even if a summons were issued, they could not arrive in the capital faster than the rebels.

So, what should be done? How can one fend off the daggers coming right under their chin?

The old king sighed. This country is truly at its end.

Was it a country destined to crumble in the absence of the Homeland Guardian? Did none of his courtiers realize this first? Or did they realize it and still raise their hands in support?

What did he strive for all his life? Was it for the hollow monarchy?

“Your Majesty, Etarique’s eldest son has requested an audience.”

“How dare he!!”

“Does he think he can be his father himself?”

The words from the court were rude to come out. Excited nobles stood up to criticize the absence of the duke.

Before the king’s sigh could prolong, clang. The thick doors of the court swung open abruptly.

“How dare you!!”

“Are you daring to rebel now? This is the court!”

“I know.”

Thud, thud.

Oscar stepped onto the long carpet of the court. The nobles shrunk back at the slow pace of his approach.

It was an unmistakable momentum of reaching the realm of a giant. One who could strangle a person’s throat with just his presence.

There were not lacking those who reached that status in this place. However, there was no one daring enough to step forward before Oscar. The subdued nobles grumbled as they took their seats.

“Your Majesty, Knight-Initiate of the Eastern Order. Oscar de Etarique is present here.”

– Swish.

The sword was slowly drawn, a blade gleaming white under the enchantment of the court’s torches. Everyone in this place knew what that sword was.

It was the sword of Duke Etarique, a symbol of military authority and the pride of the Eastern Order. And the fact that it was here…

“The Homeland Guardian… has fallen in battle.”

With the king’s lament, chaos erupted among the nobles. The cries of despair from the royalists mixed with the jubilation of the nobility echoed.

In the midst of chaos, Oscar bowed his head silently.

“Grant me command. It is not the son of Jil Bear who sits here, but Etarique who wields the sword.”

“Can the Guardian handle it?”

“If it’s a task beyond anyone else’s capability, yet someone must undertake it.”

Oscar’s lips parted heavily.

“Etarique must always lead.”

“It shall be permitted. From this moment forth, the Guardian shall fulfill his duty as the Homeland Guardian.”

“I accept the mandate.”

Oscar rose from his seat, holding the sword. His cold eyes scanned the nobles. He moved towards the noble who was standing at the forefront, shouting and raising his voice.

“How dare you liken yourself to your father?!”

“No.”

– Swish.

Raising the sword forward.

“In this place, only one Etarique stands.”

– Rustle.

The head of the noble flew weakly through the air. As it twirled, it stained the court’s carpet crimson. As the shocked nobles began to retreat, Oscar spoke, sword in hand.

“The Capital Legion shall henceforth defend your lordship.”

“I accept the mandate!!”

Soldiers rushed in through the open doors of the court. In this city, about half of the Capital Defense Army that Jil Bear had left behind still remained.

The court had turned into a slaughterhouse. All the nobles, who had joined the factions of the three counts, lived and died at Oscar’s gesture.

Amidst the blood and corpses in the court, Oscar knelt quietly once again and said,

“From this moment on, I will solely protect Your Majesty’s welfare.”

That’s what the position of the Homeland Guardian entails. Only death brings freedom from duty in this role. And as long as there is one Etarique alive in this position…

Tylesse will not crumble before his death.

The old king reached out and took the sword of the Marshal. He staggered forward and stood in front of Oscar.

Swish, the cold steel touched his shoulders.

Without a word, the king tapped Oscar’s shoulders and placed the sword above his head. After a moment, the king staggered back to the throne and sat down hesitantly.

“At least one loyal subject remains, so I can die as a king.”

*

“Now, now. We haven’t received our death sentence, so lift your heads.”

At Eugene’s words, the group raised their heads. They all had faces worn out from exhaustion.

Having returned to the capital after three days of relentless travel, they immediately set to work in the royal court and swiftly took control of the military. With most of the high-ranking nobles in charge of military and administrative affairs dead, the administrative vacuum was critical. It was inevitable that they would have to confirm the military composition with the remaining officer-grade military officials and spread out.

But this was just the beginning. Enemy forces would arrive within two days.

Saint Mathilde is the largest city in this country. Even deploying troops to the city walls alone would require at least four thousand men.

“What are we going to do? Should we just knock and expect them to open the gates?”

“I’d rather grab what we can from the royal palace and make a run for it.”

“I’m not giving up just yet. My Big Brother is still alive.”

“…What difference does it make if he’s coming?”

“He hasn’t said anything to us yet.”

Eugene spoke with conviction.

“If there really were no options left, we wouldn’t have been sent together, nor would he have said anything. As long as our brother is alive, we should assume there is a way, even if we’re not seeing it.”

“Unless troops suddenly descend from the sky…”

“Our brother hasn’t mentioned any plans yet.”

Ivan’s status bar still indicated he was alive. Therefore, it was not time to give up yet. As long as Ivan was alive and didn’t order a retreat or escape in this situation, it meant there was another way.

So let’s hold out until we figure out what that way is. That was Eugene’s opinion.

“But how? We won’t be able to hold out as soon as the siege begins.”

“Let’s abandon the outer defenses.”

Oscar, who had been quietly listening to Eugene’s words, blurted out.

“Are you crazy? You want to wage a siege?”

“Let’s take a leaf out of Ivan’s book. We’ll accept all the refugees who haven’t fled yet within the inner defenses and abandon the outer defenses and the entire metropolitan area. Deploying along the outer walls will buy us about a day.”

If the area of the walls is reduced, even four thousand men could handle the entire wall. However, prolonged combat is impossible at the point of supply exhaustion.

We can’t sustain ourselves for days while also feeding countless civilians.

“Let’s follow Ivan’s approach.”

“Really?”

“Isn’t that what we learned during the holidays? Infiltration, survival, and…”

Assassination.

Isabelle fell silent at Oscar’s words. In truth, if one were to think more objectively, the Hero Party wasn’t exactly a force that commanded wars and brought victories.

Strictly speaking, it was a decapitation operation. It was closer to a infiltration unit tasked with cutting off the heads of the Demon King and the Seven Dragons. They were assassins, in essence.

So Oscar had no intention of seizing command and leading to victory. Even if there were individuals capable of doing so.

The enemy outnumbered them by more than eight times. Supply lines were in enemy hands, and the situation wouldn’t magically turn in their favor as time passed.

However, it wasn’t entirely hopeless to think that if they could directly take down the Count Granmarteau, victory was out of reach. The enemy resembled the demon army of that era. The gathering of subordinate lords was solely under the authority of Granmarteau.

“If we start defending within the inner defenses, they will undoubtedly try to dominate all of Saint Mathilde. Not to destroy, but to capture.”

Granmarteau didn’t seek to destroy this country like the demon army did. If he desired the throne, he would prefer a moderate prize over a throne in ruins.

So they waged a siege.

“Do you think they’ll just come in willingly? Without suspecting it’s a trap?”

“Do you think they have the resources to set a trap? They’ll likely see it as a last-ditch effort. And…”

He had sent a gift. A letter sealed with the insignia of Etarique, accompanied by the severed heads of the dukes who supported the grand dukes of the nobility.

It was unthinkable for a member of the Hero Party to directly confront and conquer the throne without sacrificing their honor.

“Fine… We’ll defend and buy as much time as we can. At most a day. Somehow, within that time… Somehow, we’ll figure something out.”

“If you don’t want to, you can wait here.”

“Wait here after coming all this way?”

“Isabel may not know, but for the others, it’s not just a matter of hometowns. There’s no reason for them to risk their lives needlessly.”

“But there is a reason.”

Ascidis chuckled, twirling her hair.

“We’re all in the same party.”

“Saint Mathilde…”

Étienne de Granmarteau sat atop the back of a white horse, overlooking the sprawling metropolis below the hill, even in the late night.

Despite the late hour, the stream of refugees fleeing the city was gradually dispersing beyond the meadow.

“Is this the will of the Tylesse royal family?”

A squire standing before Étienne opened a large chest and bowed his head before stepping back.

The chest was filled with the severed heads of nobles. Each one was recognizable. Nobles who had been planted in the nobility for years, who would become talents for the future of the country. Étienne felt a slight pang of regret and smirked.

[Victory Without Surrender]

[Etarique, Duke]

The note attached to the chest was simple. Just one line written in powerful strokes, along with the insignia of Duke Etarique.

Jilber likely died in the Bernini Mountains, so this must be the doing of his son. Quite audacious.

“My Lord, please order the march.”

“No, that cannot be.”

Étienne crumpled Oscar’s note and looked up. Now, facing the metropolitan area spread out before him, he smirked.

“Can victory be snatched in the dead of night? Comfort the soldiers and feed them well. Not for battle, but for improvement. March at daybreak; we must secure the crown from the old king.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

Étienne turned away from the retreating chamberlain and ascended the hill once more.

Tylesse was now within his grasp.

At that moment,

“To whom does your allegiance lie?”

Count Guillaume gazed up at the figure towering over him, his blue eyes filled with fear.

As he began to plead for mercy, a finger pressed against his lips.

“No, I will not listen. Your loyalty has been proven through actions.”

“W-what do you mean…”

-Click!

The sound of a bullet casing hitting the ground echoed.

Ivan turned with a smoking pistol holstered at his hip. Amidst the noisy military camp, he clenched and lifted Guillaume’s lifeless head.

“At least rest your eyes for a moment. It’s been how many days now?”

Approaching quietly, Baron Noar spoke, and Ivan responded briefly.

“Eight days, 19 hours, 23 minutes.”

A trained agent must always be able to gauge time accurately. Noar hesitated at Ivan’s answer before turning away.

“You might not know, but the condition of the soldiers is not good. The casualties are too severe.”

“Tend to them, and only follow those who can move.”

“Not even 60 will gather. Even if we pick only knights.”

“Those among the remaining forces who cannot continue the fight should be sent back home.”

Ivan placed Guillaume’s head on the saddle and mounted his horse.

Gazing at the sky with a blank expression, he determined their direction. It felt like a hot poker supporting a corner of his brain. But at the same time, a dull ache surged, constricting his breath. Eleven days had already passed without a moment’s rest, only constant fighting.

His fingertips trembled. Sniping was out of the question. Ivan nodded as he looked at the arm that kept misaligning the aiming line.

“Let’s go.”

At Ivan’s words, Noar grumbled deeply with eyes sunken, then leaped onto the horse.


30 Years Have Passed Since the Prologue

30 Years Have Passed Since the Prologue

프롤로그에서 30년이 흘렀다
Score 7.8
Status: Ongoing Type: Author: Released: 2023 Native Language: Korean
I got transmigrated into a game I’ve never seen before. I thought it was a top-notch RPG and spent 30 years on it. I retired as a war hero and planned to spend my remaining time leisurely. But it turns out, it was an academy story?

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