Message from translator: I’ve finally decided to place periods at the end of the dialogues and thought bubbles (will add them to the previous parts as well). Probably should’ve done it earlier, but I had the mentality that I should stick as closely to the author’s format. Speaking of the author, I recently got in contact with them and they gave me permission to translate the story. I know that I probably should’ve done it earlier, but I was too scared >~<. But, they allowed me on the condition that I don’t make any money off of this translation and that I don’t claim this story as mine. So, this means that I can and will continue to translate. \o/ Yay! Concerning this chapter, there were wayyy too many names. Trying to figure out the romanization of these names is one of my banes as a translator.
Volume 1, 3-6: The Fallen Army
The basic construction of the barracks was the same throughout the entire empire. Fin didn’t get lost as he made his way to the commandant’s office. On his way, he was called to halt in various spots, but as soon as he showed the seal on the letter, he was allowed to continue. Fin noticed that the eyes of the soldiers who saw him off had strangely mixed feelings in them, so he frowned a bit.
He was clad in a breastplate and carried a sword, both supplied by the army, but the men didn’t know the complete story surrounding him given his shabby look and young age. One enters the army at the age of 18 so Fin’s age barely made it. As a new recruit who just entered the army, being chosen as special envoy was quite unprecedented.
But even if they could deduce the reason for this, their attitudes were strange.
(I only came here to request for some reinforcements.)
I brought the wrong things at the wrong place—Such a thought grew worse.
That thought changed into conviction the moment he met with the 8th Corps Commander, Dirgius. Without even a single word of gratitude, the man took the letter Fin presented him with a suspicious look. Then, he offhandedly opened and scanned over it…..
He frowned and snorted.
Fin became dumbfounded and stared in disbelief at his opponent. Even though a friendly corps was seeking for help, what was with this man’s response?
“You could’ve at least thought of a better excuse.”
Dirgius clicked his tongue and groaned. When he did, he threw the letter to the floor. The dry sound from the flutter of the paper was much too light. This was no longer anything else but a scrap of paper—losing the weight of all the thousands of lives of the citizens living in Nanais.
“Wh….why?! Why would you!”
As Fin drew closer without thinking, Dirgius gave him an unsympathetic scowl. Given such a sinister look, Fin faltered and took a step back.
“Not only did he fail to respond to the convention, but he also sent an errand boy like you to carry such a joke. Masod, you bastard. You’ve completely put on the airs of a feudal lord. The Beasts of Darkness, you say? In all of my patrols up till now, I’ve never had such a problem!”
“That can’t be! I have actually fought with them; numerous times in Nanais! Even on the main road I took to come here that passed through Tetna. They were waiting in ambush!”
Bang Dirgius slammed the desk.
“For being a soldier, you’ve really gotten good at making up excuses, unable to do a single satisfactory thing!? The army’s authority sure has fallen just like the land. Completely reduced into a group of incompetent imbeciles. Probably the reason why highwaymen are all on the rise!”
His face became a dark red color in anger as he yelled; spit flying everywhere. The country bumpkins are even looking down on the army and won’t pay their taxes. Thieves pop out like termites, no matter if you crush or smash them. Using that as an excuse, all the merchants raise their prices. He shouted on and on.
“Each and every one of you, looking down on me! In the end, even this youngster is. Gah, sh*t, looking down at me, with such cheeky look! It’s the end of the world!”
Dirgius was ranting and raving by himself. In front of such a man, Fin was completely perplexed and stood still, unable to say anything.
In short, goods in general were insufficient even in this city. However, this commander didn’t believe that this damage was caused by the Beasts of Darkness. He listed off reasons like how the army corps soldiers don’t obey orders, they’re incompetent, and people are corrupted.
Fin was at a complete loss at what he should say to persuade this commander. Asking for reinforcement for Nanais was definitely out of the question. On the contrary,
“You’re an eyesore. Get out, you stupid brat!”
It didn’t look like he could even stay in this room any longer. Pressured by Dirgius’ threatening attitude, Fin slowly stepped back. Should he retreat from here now and come again another day, he could probably persuade him then. Or should he stand his ground now and oppose the commander, even if the man tries to brandish and strike Fin with a stick.
There was no time for him to be indecisive.
“Didn’t you hear me say to get lost!!”
Dirgius’ angry voice strained Fin’s ears and shook the walls. Staying was very much impossible. Fin bit his lips and with a silent bow, he fled the room.
He closed the door and ran for a bit in the hallways. After that, he could finally take a breath.
Even though he wanted reinforcements to be sent to Nanais as soon as possible, he wasn’t even able to have a decent conversation.
The moment Fin hopelessly turned around towards the commander’s room, the door of a room, diagonally opposite of where he was, opened, and a man unexpectedly popped his head outside. He restlessly surveyed the hallway, and when he came upon Fin’s figure, he beckoned.
Fin opened his mouth to say, “Me?”, but the man motioned with his index finger, “Shh!” As such, Fin swallowed back his voice. “Hurry up,” the man motioned again. Fin silenced his footsteps and entered the man’s room.
The man closed the door behind Fin and carefully listened for footsteps in the hallway for a while. After that, he nodded, “Alright, it’s fine.”
“That was quite the disaster, young man. Come now, sit.”
“Th, thank you very much.”
Fin expressed his gratitude while being bewildered at this very different reception. He timidly sat down in the chair pointed out to him. Although he called it a chair, it was just a simple thing without a back. Nevertheless, it was a relief for him to rest his tired feet. Reflexively, he let out a relaxed sigh.
“Well then,” the man placed a desk in between the two of them and sat on the other side. He suddenly opened his mouth. “I’m Ancius, the 2nd captain of the 8th Army Corps. You are? Though you’re quite young to be an army soldier.”
“My name is Phineas, and my age is 18. Only 2 months ago, I became a soldier.”
But it was quite the long 2 months, Fin recalled as he answered. “Hmm,” Ancius nodded and fixed his gaze on Fin.
“I heard that you came here from Nanais and passed through Tetna; is that true?”
“And the Beasts of Darkness are running rampant too?”
“It’s true. I have actually been almost killed by them multiple times. Nanais is in a tragic situation. Did the soldiers who withdrew from Tetna report nothing?”
When Fin asked in return, Ancius had a mixed look. It was like he wanted to say, “I didn’t want you to ask that question.” After hesitating for a while, he answered with an unwilling air.
“If I recall correctly, they unanimously mentioned the threat of the Beasts of Darkness, but….the Commander didn’t believe them. He had the same attitude towards them as he had with you. Their captain returned here all worn-out. He was whipped for the offense of losing many subordinates on top of unofficially evacuating with all of the military force from Tetna. He judged himself in prison. The surviving subordinates were mistreated like a plague, so the whole group was thrown outside to patrol the area outside the walls. However, maybe because they didn’t see their captain’s last days, they didn’t say anything.”
“That’s…..Do you not believe us? Right now, do you continue to turn your gaze away from the truth, from what’s happening outside?”
To Fin’s frank words, Ancius closed his eyes and sighed.
“I can’t say anything. But, no matter what’s happening in Nanais and Tetna, Winea here has its own undeniable truth. If you object the Corps Commander’s words, then you can’t stay in the city…..that’s the biggest thing. The Corps Commander holds powerful connections. The city council is completely filled with his yes-men. Besides, I feel bad for you, but supplies are still coming in from the south, though it tends to stagnate. The North has always been a poor land. Ever since then, they’ve defaulted on their taxes over and over again. It can’t be helped that we can’t believe in your words.”
Fin couldn’t believe his own ears. ‘It can’t be helped,’ he says. ‘It can’t be helped, so give up.’
In order to escape from the boy’s gaze, Ancius cleared his throat and looked at the wall. Hanging on it was a finished textile map of the whole empire.
“Another thing. The most important thing according to Winea right now, is how serious the contest for the emperor’s throne is going. At any rate, even in Winea, this matter cannot be ignored. We must gather our military forces and be prepared to head south at any time.”
“Is that why you’re saying you’ll abandon Nanais? Please, at least.”
At least one unit. Fin wanted to plead, but Ancius silenced him with a wave of his hand.
“Nanais has boats, right? If they’re really in that dire of a situation, they should’ve just headed out to sea, circled around Grahs Cape, and taken refugee somewhere like in Vertia. We can’t separate our military force from Winea.”
Being told without hesitation, Fin was fooled for a second into thinking that the man was actually correct. Sure, Nanais has several ships used for patrolling the waters. However…..if it’s Masod they’re talking about, he’d probably already thought beforehand about the method Ancius proposed. There’s no doubt that there was a reason why it was impossible, why it wasn’t practical.
But, Fin was unable to even figure out the reason why with his confused mind. He just wanted to continue the conversation and asked a question connected to his request.
“Is the empire’s state of affairs really that tense?”
“Yeah,” Ancius gave a serious nod. “After Emperor Aedius’s death, the eldest son Lord Genas was enthroned, right? Well, that was about 5 years ago.”
Fin nodded absentmindedly. Around that time, Fin was just adopted by Oandus. He recalled that there were celebrations even in the street to honor the enthronement of the new emperor.
“Lord Genas had a bad relationship with the Council of Dragon Lords. Even though his ties to the army were stronger, you see. So, the Council, one way or another, supported his younger brother Fedoras. This development created unease in Lord Genas, so he tried to dissolve the Council, claiming that they were planning to overthrow the emperor. But in the end, Lord Fedoras was decided. A little more than 2 years ago from now, Lord Fedoras assassinated his elder brother and ascended the throne.”
“I didn’t know about such a thing.”
“Starting from around that time, information had gotten suspicious. Even without that, it takes a lot of time for news to reach all the way up here to the northern side of the mountain range. Even the news of Lord Fedoras’ enthronement had arrived just a year ago. Lord Genas’ son had escaped and received the support of those in the imperial garrison who strongly respected his late father. They defeated Lord Fedoras and enthroned the son. That was the story from a little bit more than a year ago. The emperor has now become His Majesty Valis.”
“And? Are you concerned about who will become the next emperor? Will it be Lord Dirgius?”
Without concealing his tedium, Fin gave off a sarcastic air and pressed the man to move on. If this wasn’t the case, then there’s no reason for the Winea army corps to prepare for war.
“That’s not something you can say so rashly!” Ancius rebuked, frowning. “Ok, listen well. Currently, there are many enemies of Emperor Valis. There’s Cenate, the adopted child whose uncle, Fedoras was killed personally by Valis. Actually, Cenate’s the grandson of the Nakte feudal lord, Dragon Lord Cenate Austra. It appears that he’s been missing since. The elder Cenate and his son Rufus, the 4th Army Corps Commander, are searching for his whereabouts. If they can find and support the young Cenate, then Emperor Valis would be in a tight spot.”
Fin whispered as he stared at the map. He was taught that it was a large city whose size rivaled that of the capital and that it was roughly located at the center of the fertile Neena Plains. If one takes the Calsum’s Pass from Winea through the mountain range, or if one travels southwest and goes around the mountain range by following the coast, one can come out from behind Nakte. Whether Nakte will be enemies or allied troops, it depends on the situation. They may spectate the fight between the emperor and the Dragon Lord and assist the side that looked like they will win in hopes of earning honor and privileges. Or possibly, they will wait for the two sides to destroy each other.
Fin guessed what Dirgius was trying to do, and he felt sick. The primary duty of the 8th Army Corps was maintaining safety in the north. Their “country” was the northern side of the mountain range, not the south.
Ancius continued on as Fin remained silent, holding back his anger.
“There are other disturbing rumors as well. The noble Rofurus Family of the Nornikom tribe had been purged by the late Emperor Genas, but the widow Elecia was overlooked. It appears that she became the female head of the family and consolidated the whole clan in order to raise a revolt in revenge against the emperor. Furthermore….”
At that moment, Ancius paused for a second. It was unsure whether it was to imply emphasis, or he was hesitant to finish. When Fin raised his eyebrows, Ancius cleared his throat and sloppily finished his sentence, though his tone feigned composure.
“It appears that this Elecia is a real Dragon Lord.”
Fin’s jaw dropped. A real, Dragon Lord. In other words, that title wasn’t just a relic of the far past; thus….
“Has a dragon….appeared?”
“It’s just a rumor though. Saying that the dragon was a blazing red color, just like Elecia’s hair, and that it flew through the battlefield.”
The man shrugged his shoulders, glossing over the question of its validity. Fin also had on a complicated face as he closed his ajar mouth.
If that really was the truth, then couldn’t the emperor’s throne and such be blown away with just a single breath? Probably the reason that hasn’t happened yet was that the dragon’s power wasn’t as strong as told by the legends. Or it could even be because dragons actually don’t want to get involved in human wars. However, no matter how many guesses he makes, it’s not like the truth will become revealed.
Ancius pulled himself together and returned the conversation to the real matter at hand.
“At any rate, because we’re in such a situation, it’s not strange for a convention to be called by the country one day. We don’t have the luxury to send anyone to the north. They’ve got no choice but to do somethin’ with their own strength. What about you? If you came all the way here by yourself, I can register you to our army like that. Returning back to Nanais is gonna be hard.”
Fin unintentionally let out a laugh. Go back on that journey? If Ancius was in Fin’s position or even if he had gone up north once, then the man would’ve known what a stupid statement he had just said.
Ancius was puzzled at what was so funny, so Fin slowly shook his head.
“I won’t return. After all, you haven’t taken a single thing I’ve said seriously. I, with my family and one other army soldier, departed from Nanais together. We managed to break through the main road where the Beasts of Darkness were waiting in ambush. After we came across the orphans surviving in Tetna, we continued on as we strayed off the main road in order to avoid the Beasts. And when we only needed a little bit more…..we were attacked by bandits.”
His voice gradually become stronger, carrying a confrontational tone. Fin fixed his merciless gaze on Ancius who had averted his eyes, uncomfortable.
“Several children were abducted and the soldier died. Everyone was covered in injuries and worn-out. We had neither food nor water. There’s no way we can return. As long we’re not accompanied by one army unit.”
That was a strong blow without any room for complaints. At the very least, that’s what the speaker had thought.
—-However, after a long silence, Ancius looked over Fin as if he didn’t understand a single thing said and answered calmly yet indifferent.
“Then, you’ll just have to find a job in this city. If you’re gonna work for the army, I can arrange for residence for your family. We need as many soldiers as we can, you see. The attached facility of the Temple of Nanais will probably take care of the orphans. Well, I can wait for your response tomorrow. Go to your family and consult with them once.”
Now, go. His hand gesture prompted Fin to leave the room.
Fin was dealt with appropriately; he was vaguely manipulated.
He dropped his shoulders in disappointment and exhaustion of any energy to say anything. He left the room without lowering his head or saluting. Right now, he couldn’t find any hope in the army anymore. Nevertheless, he was fed up, despite still considering possibly knocking on this door again tomorrow.
 The raws state “commander stick” but I’m not really sure what that’s referring to? Is that like a physical weapon or is it the metaphorical stick of power of a commander?
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