Chapter 5 Episode 13
“Clear blue moon… It makes me feels like I could see everything even in the night…”
While he felt the shaking of the carriage, Earl Zeref looked up out the window.
It was a beautiful moon that makes one could see everything in the surroundings. It was a perfect full moon without any cloud in the sky.
Looking at such a beautiful scenery, the thing that floated inside Zeref’s mind was one’s own dirtiness… For persuading his brother-in-law to abandon the Queen and flee…
However, Zeref didn’t have time to indulge in such sentiment.
“After we pass this mountain, everything will be over, but the problem is Elena’s aim…”
The future plan was alreadygenerally settled at Bergston’s house.
Among them, Elena’s movement who was stationed on the western border was the key.
In the preparation of Ortomea Empire next invasion, Elena who returned from the Zalda Kingdom had been stuck on the border. Under her command were roughly comprised three chivalric orders, including mercenaries from all over the Rozeria Kingdom. About eight thousand troops in total.
This was the biggest force in the Rozeria Kingdom when it comes to quantity and quality.
The movement of Elena Steiner wouldl greatly influence the future.
Elena herself had various options to take. Will she choose to support Lupis just like the oath of the knights should be, or will she support Gerhardt under the banner of getting rid of the foolish ruler ?
There was also an option of staying silent and watching the situation evolve.
The existence of such Elena cast a shadow to Earl Bergston.
(It would be great if she cooperates with us… But for now, this should be enough. The story won’t proceed unless we grasp each other’s intentions properly. The problem is…)
Although he didn’t say it to Bergston, Zeref was 70% sure that his measures would turn successful.
It was true that the timing was bad. However. he had already received a report regarding the moment made by Gerhardt and the nobles from the vicinity.
(We should have had a little bit time before the commoners’ dissatisfaction exploded. Will this be me misreading things, or…)
Zeref knew that this rebellion was intentionally awakened by someone. He also knew that the person in question had manipulated the nobles faction.
But he didn’t know the identity and aim of that existence.
Of course, that existence being an Ortomea spy would be the most likely answer.
For Ortomea Empire who tried to conquer the eastern part of the continent, dividing the Rozeria Kingdom was never a bad plan.
It can even be said that everything was Ortomea Empire’s doing.
However, this assumption could only happen under the premise that Gerhardt had a relationship with the Ortomea Empire.
(Whether or not he made such a decision… Or rather, he was not a stupid person, so I guess, he might’ve opened a cooperation with Ortomea Empire without anyone noticing…)
The man named Julio Gerhardt was a greedy and selfish man, but also the type who respect a face-to-face meeting regardless of one’s standing.
It would depend on what kind of interest was presented, but Zeref could not imagine that Gerhardt would sell the country to the Ortomea Empire. It would be much more believable that Ortomea people were manipulating Gerhardt.
(Or was this all Gerhardt’s plan ? No, that can’t be…)
Next was the possibility that Gerhardt wanted the throne at all cost, but Earl Zeref thought that possibility to be low.
Right now, under Lupis names, aristocrats were levying high taxes causing the common people to rebel. It was certainly enough reasons to overthrown Lupis and set up a new dynasty, but if he failed to quell the rebellion or have another country invade, even if he gains the throne, only devastated land would be on his hand.
(And no matter how much Gerhardt want to sit on the throne, he would still be viewed as usurping the throne, despite using the justification of overthrowing a foolish ruler. Will he choose to bear the stigma of the usurper, a traitor to the country, or not… That would be the question… It would be a more natural course for him to take the prime minister’s job while Ladine sits on the throne as a figurehead. But still, I can’t deny the possibility that all this was part of his strategy… Well, in any case, it didn’t answer the question of why the rebellion happened now…)
If Ortomea was the mastermind, they would choose the timing for the rebellion at the same time as their invasion or right before the invasion began. Since there was the possibility of military suppression if a rebellion broke out too early.
And as far as Zeref analyzed it, Ortomea Empire’s next invasion at the Zalda Kingdom won’t happen at least until another year.
Fear that as if he was looking at the depth of abyss, total darkness, wells up inside Zeref’s heart.
(I would like some allies… A friend that could help me…)
It was no doubt that Bergston, his brother-in-law, was a reliable man. In fact, he was an intelligent man, when it comes to the military and political field.
However, if Zeref were to be asked whether or not his brother-in-law was perfect, he would shake his head subtly.
Although he had the disposition of being a wise man, his brother-in-law Bergston was sometimes too naive and had little experience when it comes to scheming and gathering intelligence.
Of course, he was a million times better than the stupid aristocrats, but one cannot say he was perfect.
And right now, what Zeref need was a perfect talent.
(I wonder, will that man work ?)
Floating in his mind was the figure of a man that kept silence in the far remote area in the north.
The man who was a commoner, an adventurer, who had the chance to became a nobleman in the Rozeria Kingdom. A man who helped Lupis take the throne despite innumerable disadvantages.
Even in the eyes of Zeref who was good when it comes to schemes, that man boasts sharpness to the point of being scary.
(Well, fine… Soon enough I will find out…)
Zeref ceased his thoughts. Due to the horse-drawn carriage being stopped suddenly, and his body leans forward.
“What happened ? Oi ! What’s wrong ?!”
His head hit the sofa’s corner, making him dizzy.
Zeref went outside the carriage when the driver didn’t answer, while holding his forehead.
Due to a small cut received, blood dripped on his beautiful silk clothes.
“Oi, what happens…”
Unintentionally, Zeref stopped his words due to the sight in front of his eyes.
Both men sitting on the coaching box had collapsed. Numerous arrows stabbed deeply in their chest.
“Damn it… It can’t be… This is…”
The driver of his carriage were able men, one of them was an intelligence-gathering officer and the other one was a good warrior.
They both had the capacity to handle up to twenty thieves alone.
Even Zeref didn’t expect that they would be dead without being able to respond to the attacker.
“Damn it ! What happened…”
Words filled with curses escaped his mouth. –
If he had too many escorts, it would be impossible for him to take quick action and would’ve drawn too much attention. That was why he choose to bring a small escort, but that judgment seemed to have been wrong.
The skill that was used to kill his bodyguard obviously belonged to trained men.
(The one doing this is definitely not the homeless kind of thief. which meant, they were trained assassins aiming at my life. The question is, who sent them…)
A sound of winds being cut resounded once again and innumerable arrows attack the coaching box once again.
Zeref quickly used the escort’s corpse as a shield.
(Only using bow… At least I didn’t feel any magic being involved…)
If it was only using bows and arrows, Zeref could still use dead bodies as a shield, but that cannot be said the same if magic were involved. Whatever attributes the magic user had, the carriage could have been easily blown up.
Conversely speaking, having used only bows and arrows at the beginning suggested that there was no magic user involved.
(Unlike my brother-in-law, I’m not that good when it comes to martial arts… But I guess, I have no choice here… I can’t just sit in silence and get killed…)
Borrowing the sword of one of his dead escort, Zeref hides behind the shadow of the passenger car.
The surroundings were covered with dense wood. And it was also in the middle of the night.
The possibility of a third party coming to help him was zero.
Furthermore, Zeref was not a natural fighter. Although he had undergone magic and martial arts training, he was no stronger than a fresh knight… Even the younger knights could easily surpass him if he didn’t do well.
The problem was his own heart. No matter how much power one had, if one’s heart had fear in using it, then that power would become dull.
However, there was only one way to survive this situation. And that was to kill the assassins with his own two hands. Even if the possibility of success was low.
However, when Zeref was about to solidify his determination, the situation changed dramatically.
“Have they run out of arrows ?”
The arrows that were constantly striking the horse-drawn carriage, stopped instantly.
Zeref then observed the surroundings from the shadows.
Silence dominates the landscape, one could hear the voice of crows from the distance.
(Is this a trap ? But if I don’t do anything, nothing will change…)
Zeref slowly leaves the shadow while keeping the surroundings under his watch.
Zeref pointed the sword towards the sound that was coming from the depth of the forest.
The tension caused his hands to tremble.
His throat becomes dry, and his heart beating very fast.
“Please put your sword down. Earl Zeref. We’ve dealt with the assassins…”
The person emerging from the shadows speak to Zeref with a calm voice.
“Don’t say something stupid ! Who the hell are you ?!”
The situation was too unexpected. And Zeref was not stupid enough to accept it.
He kept his sword ready while his hands grew sweaty.
“Do you not recognize me ?”
The owner of the voice gradually moved closer. Eventually, looking at the face illuminated by the moonlight, Zeref couldn’t help it but raising a surprised voice.