After I descended the stairs that led to the underground tunnel, I immediately deleted the said stairs.
Like this, no one should be able to follow after me.
“Geez! You’re such a risktaker! You really shouldn’t have gone behind enemy lines by yourself!”
“S-sorry. But being alone’s probably the only way I can talk to him without making him be on guard…plus, if you came with me, there’ll be some complications with the Bazurata house, right?”
As soon as she saw me, Selen who was waiting in the tunnel expressed her annoyance once more.
I intended to negotiate with Raul all by myself.
The area where his army has camped was part of the territory under my control, hence how I was able to build the underground tunnel. Given that, escaping was simple, and I could even fight with a golem if ever I needed to buy some time.
However, Selen thought that it was still too dangerous for me to go alone and insisted on coming along.
Her waiting for me in the tunnel was the compromise we had.
“So, how did it go?”
“Not great. I was able to talk with him, but he refused to believe anything I said.”
“Hmm, I thought as much.”
At this point, a fight with Raul and his army was pretty much inevitable.
“Still, he has 5,000 soldiers at his command. Without a doubt, we are facing a threat far greater than the one the orc horde posed.”
“Yeah…but I might have something to help.”
“You have a strategy?”
“I don’t think it qualifies as a strategy, but yeah…”
◇ ◇ ◇
The next morning, Raul’s army resumed their march on the wasteland.
“But is there really a city here that warrants these many soldiers? I mean, look at this wasteland…”
“Really not feeling this. We just got back from a war, too. Hope this ends quickly so I can finally take a break.”
The soldiers’ morale wasn’t great.
Being drafted all of a sudden was bad enough, but then they find out that they were drafted this time for a fight between members of the Albert house.
Even if their side wins, it wouldn’t benefit them that much. In fact, whichever brother won wouldn’t change things too much for them.
Given that, it was no wonder that their motivation to fight was so low.
“Oy, did you hear about last night? Apparently, Luke-sama popped out of nowhere in the center of the camp. Our camp.”
“Seriously? Why though? To surrender? No, can’t be it; we wouldn’t be still marching if it was…”
“Yeah. But you know what’s more bizarre? I heard that right after talking to Raul-sama, Luke-sama vanished all of a sudden. Like a ghost or something.”
“What? You sure they weren’t just imagining it?”
Knowledge of the enemy being able to reach their supposedly well-guarded leaders and then escape was deemed not beneficial before the start of the battle, so a gag order was issued to those present.
Yet, information about last night’s events were still spreading among the soldiers.
“Or maybe…maybe he used some kind of high-rank magic…”
“If that’s true, this fight might be more troublesome than I thought.”
“I mean, the city we’re headed to is supposedly built by Luke-sama within a year, yeah? Just for that, they must be something else…”
Perhaps sensing that the soldiers were either slacking off or getting too anxious, Raul’s retainers shouted at them to set them straight. It didn’t do much good though.
“Tsk…every last one of them…”
Irritated by his soldiers, Raul distanced himself from them.
He even had half a mind to leave the soldiers behind. He knew he could win all by himself anyway. In fact, he as a show of force. He had hoped that once his brother saw the difference between their armies, the latter would immediately fall to despair and beg for forgiveness.
“But just what happened last night…!? He appeared and vanished all of a sudden! To make it worse, instead of crying and begging, he acted like my army wasn’t anything to worry about!”
While clenching his fist so tight that his nails bit into his skin, Raul swore something.
“Luke! I’m not going to stop until I make your face twist with dread and despair! And then, I’m going to torment every fool who has supported you…kukuku, I can picture it now: your ugly, pitiful mug as you cry and beg for forgiveness…”
Consumed by such terrifying emotions, Raul said so and then laughed maniacally.
At that time though, the vanguard of the army became even noisier. When Raul looked, a retainer was desperately rushing toward him.
“Raul-sama! T-terrible news!”
“What is it?”
“The wasteland…the wasteland…!”
Based on that, something clearly happened in the wasteland.
However, because the report was so incomprehensible, Raul was forced to see it for himself.
What waited for him was…