54 – To the Battlefield
In this world, there is a saying: “Heaven helps those who help themselves.”
The saying that the heavens and gods help was a perfect fit for my current situation.
“Your Majesty, it seems appropriate to send the Crown Prince to the Eisen territory.”
“Minister, how many times must I answer this? It’s a delicate matter.”
Here’s the situation.
Yesterday, as the sun was setting in the afternoon.
A large army from the Perem Kingdom, located east of Eisen, had gathered and was currently in a tense standoff.
It was a situation where war could break out at any moment.
If the battle were to begin and the tide turned in favor of the Perem Kingdom, it could lead to a desperate crisis where neighboring kingdoms with deep grudges against the Empire would join in one after another.
Furthermore, if the strategically important Eisen territory were to be taken, it would provide a strong foothold for Perem to advance from Merzen.
Losing the sturdy fortress of Eisen would leave the Empire vulnerable to the military onslaught of Perem.
But Merzen still had many strong forces.
So, the words of Duke Schleyn, who explained the situation, were heavily embellished with exaggeration.
In fact, if it followed the original story, the Perem Kingdom’s mobilization would have happened much later.
After the Crown Prince’s death.
It would have been a sweet potato episode where those who opposed Cerberus miserably failed in their attempt to bring in foreign forces and establish a new emperor.
So, it was strange.
In the novel, it was clear that the Perem Kingdom had attacked from the beginning…
Although the Perem army, with battle mages as their main force, was indeed strong, they were not strong enough to conquer the Empire alone.
And yet, it was a story that suggested there was another corner where they believed they could force a war.
“Shindo, it is right for you to go to Lord Eos.”
“You have already prevented a war with the elves once, so you can do it again, right?”
“Your Highness, Prince Hwang will be there to support Prince Hwangja, so there is no need to worry separately, is there?”
Duke Shrein did not give up, even receiving support from other nobles.
In the end, the emperor looked at me with pity, as I had been standing hesitantly since earlier.
“Eos, what do you think?”
Just before I answered, I instinctively scanned the faces of the nobles.
Only Duke Shrein remained expressionless, while most of them concealed their laughter.
I had a feeling.
Without a doubt, there seemed to be a hidden agenda.
“Since everyone wishes so desperately, I cannot refuse. I understand. I will go. However, you must first tell me a few things.”
As I confidently replied, the atmosphere changed immediately.
Each face, as if biting into a sour taste, openly displayed their displeasure towards me.
Even Duke Shrein looked surprised, so it seemed that no one had expected me to volunteer so readily.
I looked at the general and asked,
“How many troops will you provide?”
“……I will provide three thousand.”
“And the number of enemy troops?”
“I am arrogant.”
Is he crazy?
“How many troops does the Crown Prince have?”
Well, this is just…
It was a situation that was no different from telling me to go first and die.
Even if I were to survive, it would be very easy for the Crown Prince to kill me since I would be outside the palace anyway.
Moreover, the three thousand soldiers that Minister Jae-sang saved would surely listen to my words entirely.
It was a situation no different from walking into the fire.
“Even if only in name, the command will be given to me, right?”
“That will be given to the Grand Marshal, Teldoan.”
He was the son of Minister Jae-sang and the older brother of Empress Herpina, as well as the Imperial Grand Marshal.
And one thoroughly hidden secret was that he was the biological father of Servis.
So, he was also a presence as dangerous to me as the Empress.
“What reward will I receive if I go there and come back?”
“You will be given the great honor of having saved the Empire as the commander-in-chief of the Imperial forces, which cannot be compared to anything else.”
“So, the only thing I can gain by risking my life is empty honor? You are forcing me, General. Why should I go there without any reward, not even the command? Minister Jae-sang is just seeing me as a fool. Let’s forget about this trip that was never planned.”
“Your Highness, haven’t you committed many sins? You should atone for them like this. And recently, you also got engaged. Honey, how many things do you want to protect in this vast Empire?”
It was a clear threat, using Elaine and Count Bart as hostages.
“Hey, Duke, what’s the reason for trying to send me away? According to you, wouldn’t it be enough to just send Service? Are you really planning to assassinate me?”
Although my words were somewhat angry, the Duke remained calm.
“hehehe. You’re being too dramatic, Your Highness. And Your Highness the Crown Prince defeated Your Highness the Crown Prince. Shouldn’t the one with a stronger force be at the forefront to minimize unnecessary sacrifices?”
There was no way to force it like this.
Without realizing it, I got angry for a moment and ended up having a staring contest with Duke Schlein.
The Emperor intervened in the end, when Duke Schlein blinked first.
“What about a grand ducal title? What do you think, Duke? Since you haven’t properly acknowledged the achievement of preventing a war with the elves, shouldn’t you give a reward of that level once you defeat the Kingdom of Felim?”
“A grand ducal title… That sounds good.”
Duke Schlein seemed genuinely pleased and smiled again.
Of course, hidden beneath that smile was a faint disdain.
The meaning behind the laughter was also a firm belief that I would never return.
But both the Empress and the Duke were like that.
Everyone still seemed unaware of just how amazing my abilities were.
And I planned to take full advantage of that.
Given the situation, the outbreak of war began soon after.
And now, I was on the flying ship Helios, looking down and observing the scene where Duke Felios was desperately seeking Ardor as always.
And I was even enjoying a snack.
A female magician who had been keeping an eye on Ardor came running and secretly handed something to me.
Elaine was stroking the feathers of Aquila, who was perched in a corner of the deck, while having a conversation with Astia.
And now, Glentino was…
Staying alone in the palace, he would be getting on a carriage with a human-shaped golem that looked just like me.
The golem, which Lark had poured his soul into and created with great effort, had been given the appearance of a real human with the feathers of Aqua integrated into it.
Of course, the blood and heart were fake, but it naturally produced various physiological phenomena and even contained a suitable amount of mana, so it would definitely feel like a real prince to anyone who saw it.
My plan had already begun.
I looked at the cold bracelet on my wrist.
Ego Shield, Portis Valum.
When I infused mana, it transformed into a golden gauntlet in an instant.
It seemed that the training had been quite successful, as it no longer made any noise.
I moved my fingers one by one and clenched and opened my fist.
Not only did I hardly feel any weight, but the movement was also very free.
In fact, there was no doubt that it was a gauntlet to anyone who looked at it, but there was a reason why it was called Ego Shield.
That was because it had several special abilities.
If I wanted to block something with my will,
It would rapidly change shape and a golden shield would appear.
Not only could I adjust the size and shape of the shield as I wished,
Whenever I received a shock, whether physical or magical, I could absorb a considerable amount of it.
I stored it in the white gem on the back of my hand and could release it again when needed, using it to launch attacks.
The only downside was, of course, that it talked a lot.
It constantly gave and took mana, and it had already been well trained not to speak unless I spoke first.
Soon enough, we arrived at the Eisen Viscounty around sunset.
To assess the situation, I descended alone on Aquila.
“It’s been a while since we went on a sortie!”
Aquila seemed quite excited and attempted a rapid descent at an incredible speed.
Like a hawk diving for its prey, it almost dropped vertically, folding its wings and accelerating rapidly.
The rapid cooling and wind were blocked by the windbreaker.
The burden on my body due to inertia was easily overcome by my exceptional physical abilities.
The trees below quickly approached.
It was a matter of seconds before they seemed close enough to collide.
And just as I thought we might actually crash, Aquila soared up with a loud laughter, spreading its wings wide, and swiftly flew over the forest.
The trees whizzed past at an incredible speed. And there were people on them, looking down from their lookout posts.
The Eisen Viscounty seen from above was truly an amazing place.
It felt like the entire rugged mountainous region had been turned into a fortress.
Ladders and forts, large and small, were densely scattered throughout the mountainous terrain, including trees and cliffs, and the city where the Viscount resided looked like a giant fortress.
“Where should we go? Just tell me!”
I pointed to the end of the forest with one hand.
“Let’s go over there.”
It was the end of Count Eisen’s territory.
Perhaps the Ferum Kingdom’s army was stationed there.
As Aquila flapped its wings vigorously, we quickly left the forest behind.
A vast golden plain stretched out before us.
From there, it was clearly Ferum Kingdom’s territory.
Swoosh! Swoosh! Shoo-shoo-shoo!
Arrows and various clusters of light started flying towards us as soon as we entered the airspace.
They were coming from the Ferum Kingdom’s encampments bustling below.
A force of fifty thousand.
Moreover, they were the elite of Ferum, known as the Mage Kingdom.
A considerable number of them were wizards, armed with all sorts of magical weapons and artifacts, making them formidable opponents even for regular soldiers.
“They’re quite amusing. What should we do, Eos? Should we crush them all?”
Aquila was putting on a show, but it was clear that he was just bluffing.
Apart from that, I already knew from Itas that there was nothing much to worry about.
Anyway, even a single misaligned fireball could turn us into roasted meat.
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“Forget it. Let’s go.”
I pondered on how to make use of this situation.
He headed towards the castle made of towering rocks.