“Oh my, who do we have here, if it isn’t the District Head. Welcome and thank you for your attendance.”
Inside a certain royal palace, in the capital of the Kasandora Kingdom, a king, who appeared to be in his latter thirties, waved his long, luxurious, silk-made garments and respectfully welcomed his visitor.
Besides the capital, Kasandora kingdom ruled over three other fortified cities together with some small settlements. It was a relatively powerful country with a large population in a remote region.
This person, whom the current king of Kasandora, Kasandora III, praised and deprecated himself before, was a cardinal sent by the Old Church, a man named Aiba.
Aiba, who was thin, tall, and wrapped in a white robe, was unexpectedly young, and looked to be in his latter twenties. The fact that he was assigned as a district head at this young age was proof of him being a sharp and capable person.
“No no, please don’t mind it, your Majesty.”
Smiling weakly, the Cardinal, Aiba, returned his greeting.
Behind him, 10 people, who were assigned as his guardians, were lined up. They were all members of the sacred knights. Those knights didn’t try to take off their helmets in front of Kasandora, as they would only show their bare faces to a priest from the Old Church, in other words, towards God’s children.
“Please, sit down.”
Kasandora reached the seat of honor at the long table placed in the dining hall and recommended Aiba to take his seat.
Seeing Aiba taking his place on the leather-made, black chair, Kasandora’s vassals sat down on either side, facing each other.
Grape wine, tea cakes, and fruits continued to be brought out one after another by maids.
The maids withdrew after delivering the cups of fruit and wine, then Kasandora leisurely reached his hand toward his glass goblet filled with red liquid and raised it up in front of him.
“In honor of the District Head, who graced us with his presence after a long journey.”
“I offer my thanks to the Lord, whose blessings and kindness are infinite, and to your Majesty.”
After savouring the rich scent and taste of the wine for a while, Aiba put his cup back on the table and looked in Kasandora’s direction with a grin. However, those who were watching him would probably notice that his eyes weren’t smiling at all.
“Then, your Majesty, I wonder, how has the plan for the invasion of the forest been progressing?”
Aiba’s tone was composed, and his mild expression didn’t falter, but nevertheless, his eyes harbored a cold, cruel light.
“Without any delay, we were able to measure the witches’ potential, fighting style, their defensive strength, and even deployed our troops in convenient places thanks to your suggestions. However, just the other day, we went through some bitter experiences.”
“Indeed, one or two lost battles won’t change much as long we are victorious in the war.”
“By commencing an attack and letting them respond, we can analyze our enemy’s war potential. Because we haven’t launched any unreasonable assaults from the start, we didn’t suffer any major losses. As soon as we finish analyzing their war potential through orthodox means, we will form an ideal strategy. Oh my, we have been nothing but amazed by your resourcefulness.”
Kasandora smiled as if being in a good humour.
“We are already familiar with the witches’ style of fighting. We also learned that their numbers are much more scarce than what we had assumed. Like this, we will be able crush the witches shortly.”
(I see. This king isn’t stupid, but he’s tactlessly frank. Not dense, but foolishly frank. After all, wouldn’t he amount to being some small landlord of a borderland? Still, to guide these people is our duty as the Children of God)
With Aiba’s face not giving an impression of his innermost thoughts, he asked
“Then, my king, what’s the extent of your current forces?”
“We plan to amass 2000 units.”
Indeed, he’s quite a hard-worker, isn’t he? – Aiba admired him inside.
The amount of 2000 is closest to the maximum force that Kasandora can mobilize. When someone is foolishly honest they probably won’t hold back in the slightest.
Aiba chuckled inside his heart as he was trying to stir up Kasandora; nevertheless, he wasn’t stupid enough to let him learn about that.
Having a solemn attitude, he bowed down towards the king.
“Splitting one’s military forces into small groups is a foolish idea. Only by intensive accumulation of force can one yield the greatest result. But of course, this is something your Majesty and the General should know the best.”
“Umu. T-That’s right. It’s just like you say, Aiba-dono.”
“By exterminating the witches living there, you will be able to connect my country and yours through that vast forest. Also, you will be able to gain an advantage over other countries…. you see?”
Aiba continued to incite Kasandora indirectly and nonchalantly like he had done til now.
A desire to act as a statesman lit inside the king’s eyes.
“I hear that there is an abundant amount of lumber, wild plants, fruits, and wild animals inside of the forest. I also hear that mineral resources are lying unused there. For witches, those are useless things, and at the same time, pearls thrown before swine. We shall make effective use of them.”
At Kasandora’s speech filled with ardor, Aiba gave a refined smile.
“To exterminate the witches and to make humankind prosper, those are our Father’s wishes.”
By saying “Father”, Kasandora meant the one and absolute God, whom they believed in.
And then, those priests together with Aiba who served the God were also his children.
For that reason, the priests were referred to as the Children of God.
“Speaking of which, when can we begin our invasion of the forest?”
Kasandora looked at the man, dressed in a military uniform, next to him.
“Dear General, what’s the exact date you will commence operations?”
The general, who jumped off his stool and lowered his head to the extent of his forehead touching the table, finally raised it and announced resolutely to the king and Aiba.
“Our plan is set to commence in ten days. At the break of dawn on the tenth day, we will depart. We will attack the fort located at the top of the big cliff and drive the witches away from the forest. Then we intend to reinforce the seized fort, so as to create a foothold for entering the forest.”
Kasandora and Aiba nodded in satisfaction.
With Kasandora’s army setting off after 10 days, Naga, Harrigan, and the rest will have at least 10 days to make preparations. However, against the approaching forces of 2000, they will only have a force of 20 people. The difference between forces would normally cause anyone to despair.
What kind of tactic will Harrigan and Naga adopt?
A battle of 2000 against 20 has yet to begin.