It had been a week since Earl Salzberg received a letter from Ryouma that could be best described as a declaration of war, and he decided to fight in a direct confrontation.
A cavalry party crossed the highway towards the east with heavy clouds hanging above their heads.
The weather that indicates heavy rains are about to come, caused the man wearing an armor and straddling a white horse to click his tongue.
Currently, he was heading towards Epiroz.
In his field of vision, he could only see grasslands, there was no place for him and his cavalry party to find a shelter. However, even if there was such a place, in this kind of landscape, it would be too small to shelter a party comprised of more than 100 men.
“Cih ! the rain is about to pour at any moment now. I was only helping that old man Salzberg because of father, and now the weather is making me irritated.”
A large man riding a white horse who leads the party, bitterly said those words after looking up towards the sky.
Looking at his appearance, he was a man aged around late twenties.
His arm and leg muscles looked trained, and his body was twice bigger compared to the people in his surroundings.
His face looked intimidating, especially the deep scar carved on his right cheek that looked eye-catching.
Most people who saw him would first think of him as some bandit or mercenary.
But in this world, the words of “don’t judge a book by its covers” seems to apply as well.
Hearing the man’s complaint, a knight comes closer to him. His role as an aide was to appease the leader’s dissatisfaction that had been going on since they left their territory, without gaining animosity from him.
For the man, even though he understands something, he was the type that won’t bend his opinion no matter how until the end.
Although his willingness to listen was good, his personality was lacking the ability to express something without saying them, which should be indispensable as a nobleman.
That was why, even though he’s smart enough in analyzing the situation, his ability to deal with the surroundings was bad.
In other words, one can regard him as a man who could not read the mood.
“Young master, I fully understand young master’s feelings but, please do endure it for now. All of the ten northern noble houses must send soldiers. It would turn into a dangerous situation for Baron Bertrand’s house if we’re the only ones who didn’t respond to Earl Salzberg’s call.”
The aide’s argument was right.
And those words were also the same words he had said many times before already to appease the man’s irritation since they left the territory.
There were ten noble houses situated in the northern territory of Rozeria.
Among them, Salzberg house with the rank of Earl had the biggest military power and was the leader of the ten houses since the founding of the Rozeria Kingdom.
For the northern nobles, they would feel more nervous when they deal with Earl Salzberg compared to the ruler of the country that was situated far away from their territory.
“It is because of attitudes like yours that Baron Mikoshiba got angry. In the first place, what is wrong with their heads, fighting against each others when the country is unstable like this… This is also why I objected and didn’t want to go… It was because my father and elder brother won’t shut their mouths about the obligation to the Earl and the pride of being the Rozeria Kingdom’s nobles that I got out like this…”
“Our enemy this time is an upstart after all. There’s the saying that ‘the nail that sticks out needs to get hammered in’. Besides, the war this time is not only for helping the Earl. Wortenia peninsula seems to have the ability to generate wealth beyond what we had thought previously, thus if we win this war, we might be able to demand some reward.”
The man snorted after he heard his aide’s words, who showed a broad smile on his side…
“Fuuh, is that something a knight that serves the glorious Bertrand family should say ? How wonderful of you.”
It was him being sarcastic.
But, the knight didn’t seem to feel any concerns after hearing it.
“I could not help it. After all, I could not survive with a knight’s pride alone. Besides, Earl Salzberg was not the one who started this whole situation. Don’t get any misunderstings there…”
“Are you saying the one that gets provoked is stupid ?”
Indeed, that is from a normal point of view, Mikoshiba Ryouma argument was right.
For men of power, the existence called spy was the same as a thief who steals treasures known as informations. Moreover, depending on the situation they could’ve also become a more destructive agent such as assassins.
A dangerous pest that damage the flower garden known as the territory. If one were to sent such dangerous presence.
Even if the world is at war, or that it was not uncommon for nobles to sent spies to other territories, there was no reason for not feeling uncomfortable.
If it was one or two spies, then it might still be forgivable.
And one might endure it after considering the difference in power between each parties.
However, the story change if more than ten people were sent.
Not to mention, even though Baron Mikoshiba was part of the Rozeria Kingdom aristocracy,the nobles surrounding the peninsula persistently had kept sending spies No wonders Baron Mikoshiba Ryouma felt a sense of crisis.
However, even if one were being provoked, for a Baron to go against an Earl was absurd.
As long as nothing strange happens, the difference in power could be used to justify who was right and who was wrong.
(Well, it is also natural for my father and elder brother to be in frenzy. Especially now that Wortenia has become a mountain of treasures…)
For better or worse, it was the nature of aristocrats to want to increase their territory and their wealth. The tendency was particularly strong now because the country was currently in chaos.
For them, it was necessary to keep their family alive.
That was why, as long they judge some profits could be obtained, they would gather like hyenas and rush towards the decayed flesh.
Threatening, blackmailing, use everything necessary to get one’s object of interest.
(But wait… I see, did that man deliberately provoked Mikoshiba Ryouma for this purpose ? If it’s those guys, then it is possible…)
Sending spies endlessly to fuel Baron Mikoshiba’s tension.
And then, when everything was about to breake out into all-out war, beat him up with overwhelming military force.
What remains afterward would be Wortenia peninsula which had become an important commercial port. Then distribute the rewards to the surrounding nobles.
He didn’t have any proof to claim this thought, but inside the man’s head, the outline of the war had started to appear.
(Now I began to think something nasty. Am I actually hating such upstart this much ?)
It was the truth that Mikoshiba Ryouma was disliked by the majority of the Rozeria aristocracy.
The majority of them viewed Mikoshiba Ryouma as a vagabond mercenary who gained noble status without knowing his social standing, even if it was a reward for his contributions during the civil war.
Thus there was no reason for the nobles to remain silent when the Wortenia peninsula had turned into an economic powerhouse territory.
(But still, who planned all of this ?)
He didn’t believe that his brother, father or his immediate family had the ability to draw up this kind of plan.
They both were worldly-minded people that were only interested in exploiting the citizen and enjoying their lavish life.
(Was that old man Salzberg the one who planned all of this ? No, even if that man could draw some plot, the way he does thing feels different. Which means, is it his wife, Yuria, who is known as a poisonous woman, then ?)
While thinking so, he immediately denied his own thoughts.
(No, she might be smart when it comes to the economy, but I don’t believe she had the capacity to plot something like this… If that is the case then…)
The faces of the head of household of the ten nobles family floated inside his mind
But none of them were deemed to be the mastermind.
“Young master, please look ahead.”
His knight aide brought back his senses to reality.
“A golden Eagle with red background… Is that the flag of Baron Garbera’s house ?”
Southwest and Southeast. The place they were right now was where two intersections meet to the direction of Epiroz city.
In accordance with the man’s command, the cavalry party stopped moving.
The road ahead might be wide compared to a normal one, but it was not to the extent that two forces could advance side by side.
Thus it was necessary to decide who should advance first.
“All of you wait here.”
After he gives his command to the nearby knight, the man slowly advances alone and jump down from his horse.
Normally, it was not necessary for the commander to negotiate personally, However, the man kept advancing.
Apparently, the other party also had guessed the man’s intention as well. Since one man from Garbera house’ army also advances his horse alone.
“As expected, it is you the one who led the army, huh ? Long time no see I guess, Signiz.”
Hearing those words, the man called Signiz jumped down from his horse and spread his hands while laughing.
“Same to you… Roberto Bertrand. I’m happy that I could see that stupid face of yours.”
“Piss off… You damned fourth son !”
“That’s my line !”
While spouting curses at each other, the two firmly hugged each other.
“It has been three, no, I guess four years since the last time I saw your face…”
“Indeed, last time we met was when we had a skirmish near the border of ErnestGora.”
Roberto answered Signiz’ words with a sigh.
“Fumu, well there’s no choice for us. Since we are only a baron’s fourth son…”
In aristocratic society, unlike the first son, the second and third son only had worth as insurance in case that something unfortunate happened to the first son.
And if an unfortunate accident didn’t happen, then their value would be gone.
Of course, compared to the first son, the treatment towards the second son and third son were bad. Not to mention if one were to become the fourth son, most of them would be treated as if not existing.
It was rare for them to meet other nobles, and when they do, they would meet those with the same situation.
Normally, such people would drop their house name and become independent.
“Look at you Roberto, you haven’t changed at all…”
“Well yeah… isn’t that the same with you ?”
Hearing Roberto’s question, Signiz nodded while showing an expression as if he had given up on something.
“Well yeah, I’m only being called when something troublesome like this happens…”
The two men circumstances were similar.
Having been born in poor baron families as fourth sons, having no place to stay inside the families, and having only the talent of being a knight.
In particular, their talents as a warrior was prominent. To the extent that their parents and brothers didn’t want to let go of them.
The two were given work that was related to fighting, such as maintaining public order or disposing of homeless people that frequently appeared in their territory.
Despite being given such work, they had no right to speak in regards to territorial management, and their position within their houses was the lowest.
“There’s no helping it. This is the only thing we could do…”
“Well, I guess so…”
Even if they aimed to take over the household, they would need to kill their own father and brothers. It might be true that they despised their family, but they were not cold enough to kill their own immediate families.
Signiz nodded his head in responding.
“We have no choice but to end up with this. Anyway, let’s just finish our job fast. When we arrive at Epiroz, how about some drinks ? Since I have plenty of stories to tell you…”
“Sure… On the other hand, Signiz, you will be the one who pays for the drinks.”
“Fine by me. I will treat you to only one cup…”
Hearing those words, both men smiled at each other, then began to ride their horses once again.
“Well then, towards Epiroz !”
Roberto returned back to his troops after seeing off his old friend head first.
There was no fragment of doubt left inside his head.
No one knows if that was good luck or bad luck.
But at this very moment, the Rozeria Kingdom northern territory was about to plunge into a great storm.