Evening, 22th Day, 12 Month, the Year 2813.
Soldiers wearing all-black armor made a long formation and headed toward the south.
Wagons filled with supplies followed behind them.
With a red sunset behind them, they looked like evil spirits that had just came out from the depths of hell.
“Oi! Which noble do those soldiers belong to?”
A middle-aged man looked toward the highway while he was plowing his field to create ridge plants, and asked his wife who was helping him nearby.
Although the reason why he asked the question to his wife was just so he could take a little breather.
The man rubbed his palm, which began to feel numb and turned his eyes toward the highway once again.
In his eyes, unspeakable hatred could be seen.
(No matter what time, what day, every time, it’s always war, war, and war. Geez, even though we don’t want to have anything to do with the aristocracy…)
Living had become harder and harder every day for the man.
For ordinary commoners, they did not care who they paid their taxes to.
Eventually, they only wanted to be guaranteed a stable life and security.
Right now, the Zalda Kingdom was being attacked by Ortomea Empire and was in danger of falling.
Fortunately, the people who lived in the northeastern part of the Zalda Kingdom were still able to live in peace, although the sparks of the war could already be felt in some areas.
Moreover, while the northeastern part of the kingdom had literally escaped the flames of war, it did not meant they were not being affected by it either.
Domestic prices had been rising since last year, and under the pretext of defending the nation, the feudal lords had been raising the taxation temporarily.
Which meant, life had just become harder.
(But well, compared to the others, I guess I’m still well off huh?…)
The man had his own house and land.
All he had to do was just to pay taxes to the feudal lord.
Compared with the people who borrowed a land from some landlords, they have to pay the landlord and also the taxes to the feudal lord separately.
Inside the man’s mind, the neighbour who had sold their own daughter to the slave merchant just to help pay taxes came to mind.
(That girl, she should be around 8 years or so, right?… Damn it.)
She was a cute little girl with clear blue eyes and brown hair.
Their parents also loved her. –
That was why that child should not have ended up being sold to the slave merchant.
(Fuck, I hope this all end soon. After all, we have nothing to do with all of those wars.)
He thought that if in the end they were going to lose, then quickly lose instead.
Since because the country had resisted for too long, the war expenses had swollen, and the side effects were being forced on the ordinary people.
Although, he thought that, it didn’t meant that he did not think logically.
He thought that because he hated the taxes.
“Ha? What are you saying? Stop slacking around and start working!”
The wife raised her voice after noticing that her husband had stopped plowing.
She was a strong-minded wife.
Which made her the type of woman who put her husband on a short leash.
However, although she said those words toward her husband, she still looked at the highway.
“What is that… Such unpleasant soldiers…”
From a distance, the soldiers looked all black from the top of their heads to their toes.
“Right, do you know where they come from?”
“I’ve never seen such soldiers before.”
“I agree, I’ve never seen such soldiers either. I guess those soldiers are not from the nobles in the vicinity.”
The man murmured those words adding to his wife’s answer while silently feeling a shiver down his spine. –
It was rare to see an army which had such huge characteristics.
Although the numbers were not that much, it was rare for an aristocrat who made their soldiers wore the same armor with the same color.
Usually the ones who did that kind of thing to their soldiers, were those from the royal family to their royal guards.
“Also, that flag…”
“Are those snakes? Those red eyes really give off an unpleasant feeling…”
A flag with a black background fluttered in the wind.
A sword that was being entwined by two golden snakes were sewn on it.
It was a fairly unique design for a flag.
And at the same time, it was a flag which left a huge impression and was not easy to forget.
“Dear… How about you contact the village chief and the feudal lord?”
Her eyes were shaking as she told her husband so.
“The village chief…”
Certainly, his wife’s words were right.
Although right now they still managed to escape from a direct war,the Zalda Kingdom that they belonged to was still in the middle of a war.
It was dangerous to leave alone a military from an unknown origin marching inside the kingdom’s territory.
“And if those soldiers pillage the village then…”
The man hold his breath after he heard his wife’s words.
Because those words were things he didn’t want to hear right now.
Fire set ablaze.
A village full of smoke.
River dyed red from the dead villagers.
And lastly, women and children being sold into slavery.
(Damn it! The battlefield should be in the west! Why are they in this kind of place instead?!)
The homeless citizens who escaped the war had flowed into that village, and depended on several families or relatives.
From their stories, the war should have broken out near their border with Ortomea Empire, located southwest of their kingdom.
The villagers obtained that news recently, thus it was impossible for the enemy soldiers to appear in this northeast highway.
However, the scene that happened in front of them was not a dream either.
“We should go to the village chief immediately to deliver the news…”
Grabbing the trembling hands of his wife, he threw his farm tools away and began running toward the village chief’s house.
He should be able to arrive there faster if he walked through the fields
Although he had accidentally stepped on the ridge plants he had created earlier, such a matter was something trivial right now.
They should be able to hide safely if it was only two people, but they felt concerned about the village where they had lived.
As someone who lived in the same village, villagers thought of each others as a family.
The man began raising his speed while pulling his wife’s hand.
“Ryouma-sama… The farmers…”
Laura, while riding her horse, pointed her finger in a certain direction.
Her finger was directed toward the farmers who previously escaped while trampling their own field.
(Geez, those fields ended up getting damaged. Why do they always end up running away, despite the fact that we are reinforcements from a friendly nation…)
Ryouma heaved a sigh after he had seen these scenes far too many times since he left Epiroz.
“Right, we should not mind them… But then, it would be unbearable if we ended up being mistaken as an enemy again…”
Though they were just farmers, if they had raised their hoes and rushed to attack, they could still be a considerable threat.
Although soldiers won’t lose against them, some damage would’ve still occurred.
But even if the farmers attacked, as soldiers who had come for the purpose of reinforcement, they could not attack back, or if they did that, then they would lose their sense of purpose for being there.
Because of these problems Ryouma even forgot the pain on his butt from having been sitting on a horse for too long.
He did not expect the villagers to welcome them, but at least he wanted the villagers to think about his feelings for a bit.
Or at the very least, when a soldier approached them to inform that an army was going to pass by, he hoped that those farmers won’t run away instead.
Furthermore, if Ryouma wanted to pass through by dividing his soldiers into small numbers, there was also a chance that his soldiers might end up getting picked apart and destroyed.
Certainly, the northeast area of the Zalda Kingdom was still relatively safe, but one couldn’t really predict what may happen in a war.
A few days ago, some feudal lords were almost at the point of taking up arms by creating a mixed army.
The feudal lords seemed to have misunderstood Ryouma’ army as enemy soldiers who came to loot their territory.
Ryouma, fortunately, managed to solve the misunderstanding before a disaster could happen, but honestly, he was worried about the situation.
“How long is this going to take?”
“Based on the distance, we are ten days away from reaching the destination… but…”
It was regarding the time needed to travel to Zalda’s capital city, Periveria.
The map borrowed from Elena was for military purpose, thus it was very highly accurate.
But of course, because there were no satellites here, it was only accurate when it came to this world standard, and was remarkably different compared to the ones used in the private sector.
While riding the horse, Laura’s expression turned cloudy when she opened the map. –
“From here on out until we arrive at the royal capital, we will pass through the weak and small nobles territories.”
“That means, there’s a chance that our communication will be cut off huh?”
Responding to Laura’s words, Ryouma frowned.
Due to the incident the other days, Ryouma had sent messengers to deliver the news that they were reinforcements from the Rozeria Kingdom, but because the situation was as it is during a wartime, the information did not reach some nobles.
And mostly it happened with the small nobles.
These nobles mostly had territory located in a rural area which was far from the highway.
Five days had passed since Ryouma left Epiroz city.
If he tried to calculate, he had already traveled around 200 kilometers.
It was kind of a forced march since Ryouma and his troops had to travel 40 kilometers per day. <TLN: This is highly debatable, but we’re talking about tech and facility less than the middle ages here.>
At a speed of 4 kilometers per hour.
With infantrymen walking in a formation, and the logistical troops dealing with the supplies at the back.
Their marching speed was considerably fast.
But then again, they had come to reinforce the Zalda Kingdom, it would be Ryouma’s loss if they ended up being misunderstood as an enemy and lost some soldiers.
“I guess we have no choice… Let’s send cavalry to chase after them. Listen alright, absolutely, do not hurt them.”
He had come this far, thus he could not afford any strange troubles.
Receiving Ryouma’s command, several cavalry knights chased after the people who ran away.
(Maybe, it would have been better for us to go with Elena back then…)
In her case, she could just dispatch an advanced troop to inform the villages and towns to avoid the confusion.
That worked well because she had her own fame.
That was why it was also natural for the villagers to think Ryouma was an enemy if his all-black army passed through without any warning.
He had only one letter written by Lupis as an identification.
And it had only a limited usefulness. <TLN: For example, Zalda aristocrats might know Lupis crest or Rozeria royal crest, but mere villagers from another country?>
(Honestly, this is going to be hard…)
Ryouma lamented his situation once again, then he heaved another sigh.