“Raul-sama, are your preparations done?”
“Yeah, I’m ready to go anytime.”
“Then, this way please.”
A retainer guided Raul into the training grounds of the territory soldiers.
Today though, a large cage was installed in the training grounds. Soldiers with solemn faces surrounded this cage.
Neither monster nor beasts were inside the cage. No, this cage contained a number of criminals. Criminals who were sentenced to death, to be exact.
These criminals had no idea what was going to happen, so they all looked scared.
Raul stood in front of the cage and then gave the signal to open it.
Without hesitation, he proceeded to enter.
The soldiers followed and then threw weapons at the feet of the criminals. Afterwards they addressed the criminals.
“Listen up. Pick whatever you want to use. And then, go fight that person.”
“If you bastards somehow win, your sentences will be reduced. Yes, that means you won’t be executed.”
As to be expected, the criminals grew excited.
“Is that true?”
“B-but what if we end up killing that guy?”
“That won’t be a problem.”
“Woohoo! Thank you, kid!”
As though they had already obtained the reduction on their sentences, the criminals began celebrating.
After all, the one they were told to fight was a boy who was still in his teens.
Moreover, a lot of them were either former mercenaries or adventurers—some were both—so they were quite confident in their skills.
“Hehehe, today’s our lucky day…”
“Kukuku, I wonder what this boy did to deserve this.”
“Don’t know, don’t care. All I care about is killing him and reducing my sentence.”
The criminals picked up weapons and approached Raul.
“Hyaaaa! Die, bra———ha?”
The first one to charge wielded a sword. However, just when he was about to slash at Raul, his arm along with the sword, suddenly flew in the air. It twirled in the air for a while until it finally hit the ground.
Raul stabbed at the criminal’s throat, ending him. With a thud, the corpse fell to the ground.
Despite being all smiles just a few moments ago, the criminals’ faces were now ghostly pale.
“Wh-who is this guy?”
“What the hell just happened?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t even see a—”
Before that criminal could finish his sentence, he staggered and eventually collapsed to the ground as well.
In the blink of an eye, Raul had not only closed the distance but also stabbed the criminal in the heart.
“The second one already…how boring. Are you nothing but a bunch of small fries?”
“G-go at him all at once!”
The criminals figured they wouldn’t stand a chance if they fought Raul one by one, so they decided to attack at the same time.
However, their attacks hit nothing but air. Meanwhile, Raul has been taking them down one by one.
Before long, only one criminal was left. This man has somehow managed to survive many of Raul’s attacks.
“Just who are you!? I have [Sword Techniques], so why can’t I do anything!? No…don’t tell me, you…”
After the last of the criminals fell, cheers and applause came from the surroundings.
“It’s Raul-sama’s win!”
“It’s only been half a year since he was blessed, but he’s grown to be this strong!”
“So, this is what [Sword Master Techniques] is like…”
Raul approached the crowd of soldiers and knelt down before a certain man.
“Well done, Raul. You’ve impressed me. In the next battle, I shall take you with me.”
“My thanks, father. I promise to produce significant results.”
◇ ◇ ◇
“Raul-sama, a report.”
“What is it?”
While the excitement in the training grounds still in full swing, Raul headed back. On his way, a retainer rushed up to him.
“We’ve received word from the governor in the North regarding the rumored village in the wasteland over there. According to their message, they’ve investigated the area, but found no such village.”
“I see. That makes sense. It is impossible to build any village in that wasteland, after all.”
Raul said so and then snorted.
“Kukuku, for all we know, he might have died like a dog somewhere. It’s just a shame I wasn’t there to see it. If I was, I might have even offered to make him my servant, only so that I could have worked him to death!”
Whatever the case might be, the bottom line to Raul was that they were never going to meet each other again.
He was a bit worried when he heard those rumors, but it turned out to be nothing more than that.
“And then, about Selen-sama…as yet, even the Bazurata house still has no idea on her whereabouts…”
“Tsk, don’t tell me she wanted to avoid getting married to me so much, she’s gone into hiding.”
“I-I’m sure that can’t be the case, sir…”
While it displeased him a little, such a thing was trivial for Raul today.
“…once this winter is over, I will have my first war. And father will have his most important one so far…”
Raul whispered so and then smiled from ear to ear.
“And if we win, father will leave to govern the new territory, leaving me in charge of the current Albert territory…in other words, this whole, large territory will be at my beck and call! Kukuku, hahahahahahahahaha!”
Raul eagerly waited for spring.
For now though, he let his loud laugh reverberate in the wintry sky.
…unbeknownst to him, the greatest threat to his plans was steadily growing in strength in the wasteland in the north.