TN : This is the start of Arc 3.
154-1. Chapter 154 – Unexpected Meeting (Part 1)
Inside a room, thirty people surrounded a long rectangular table. They were members of the Council, the core of the Liberitoa Trade Federation. Also called the Pinnacle, those who would guide the future of the Federation. Its members were those from the uprising large merchants and even those from the bloodline of the royal family that ruled a region.
Hugo Avans, a member of one such council, listened to the discussion as if he were watching a contentious debate from the audience seat. Hugo, who was the main fighting faction against Highserk, was until recently sentenced to suspension due to the many losses from the Great Outbreak and the loss of profits from the collapse of the Highserk Empire.
Members of the Moderate Faction and the Rival Faction must have been drinking late into the night, more than once, applauding Hugo’s waning influence. But that was of no important to Hugo. When Hugo joined the Council, he gave his life for his country. As long as it was in the national interest, suspension or loss of influence in the Council was nothing more than a trifle.
The problem was the Council’s way after losing Hugo’s initiative. The Moderates chose a policy of appeasement without even attempting to attack the remnants of the deadly Highserk. Not that this was of no benefit at all. If things went well, the young people of the future Liberitoa Trade Federation would be able to integrate Highserk without shedding unnecessary blood. If the era of never-ending warlike rivalries came to an end under the leadership of Liberitoa, it would be a commendable achievement that would go down in history.
But it didn’t. As a result of the Great Outbreak, the monster’s habitat changed, and a mithril mine was discovered in Carorolaia, which was part of the Demon Territory. The mithril mine was located in an area controlled by the remnants of the former Southern Army of the Highserk Empire, but on the border with the Galmud Archipelago, one of the three big countries, to be exact, the territory of one of their lords, the Dalimarx family. It was considered extremely difficult for Highserk to maintain the mine due to the relationship between them.
After the clash between the Dalimarx family and the Meisenav family, the full-scale mining operation of the Carorolaia Mine began. The wealth brought by the mine began to flow into the former army of the Highserk Empire.
According to the spies who managed to infiltrate, the mining was a joint operation between the Highserk and the Dalimarx family.
The more information flowed to the Moderates who were panicked by the bad news, the worse the situation became.
The Imperial Army of Highserk, which was divided into many small groups, kept in close contact with each other and resumed the reconstruction of the transport routes. It wasn’t that the generals had coordinated to achieve a unified movement, but they had moved under a single chain of command from the beginning. All for healing the destroyed part of their homeland.
Furthermore, a former member of the Four-Country Alliance, the Principality of Myard, which now held only Celta Territory, had united with the Highserk Empire. The union, which was thought to be a last measure against the Craist Kingdom’s takeover, lasted longer than expected, as the Flame Emperor Dragon’s invasion route was cleared and used as a huge traffic route connecting the two countries.
Highserk’s former eastern and southern armies, said to have been severely depleted in many areas, quickly rearmed and further strengthened.
From the information he had received from spies and informants, Hugo felt that it was already impossible to handle the remnants with the border troops alone. Depending on the scale, there might even be a limited advance against the Liberitoa. In time, the blow could be even stronger than the past Highserk.
The bad news continued unabated. Although the Highserk’s War God had crossed over to the Netherworld, in addition to the “Patched Soldier” who went on a rampage at the borderline, a 《Demon Fire》 user who should have died in the Great Outbreak was seen in the unconventional war in the Labyrinth City, Belgana. This confirmed that the user was still alive. It was also said that the user, had contributed a lot in subjugating the Undead Dragon that had suddenly appeared in the city.
Once again, it was possible to increase Highserk’s military power. If Highserk deepened the connection not only with the Viscount Dalimarx family, but also with the Marquis Borgia family, who controlled the Labyrinth City, the superiority of Liberitoa would be completely lost.
The threat of skills that affect a wide range of the 《Demon Fire》 user wasn’t limited to the front line. A single invasion by this individual would easily burn villages, cities, and even breadbaskets. Moreover, Jaff Cavalry Battalion, which the War God had used as a sharp weapon to cut many in the past battles, was still a military threat that couldn’t be ignored, despite its reduced numbers.
“Ain’t it time, for this discussion to come to an end?”
Hugo’s rude taunts were met with pleasant sneers and jeers, causing further confusion in the congress.
Without protesting the derision, Hugo opened his mouth after waiting for the charming squeak to subside.
“It’s clear that the threat of the Highserk Empire, is still alive and well. After all, the army should have been dispatched immediately after the Great Outbreak to completely crush those remnants. Well, what’s done cannot be undone. Am I wrong?”
No one answered Hugo’s question.
After an unproductive debate, the Council members reluctantly admitted that the reconciliation policy had already failed.
“I’ve got a lot of information, and one of them is the most recent. One of the Late Emperor’s children, is still alive. It’s one of many factors that makes them remain persistent, and has also helped them to recover… The Empire will be revived under the pillar of royal blood. Really a sweet word, enough to move everyone. Now comes the question, what should we do?”
Hugo asked again.
The self-proclaimed Moderates, who had taken control of the congress and profited from directing national policy, lowered their eyes and stared either at the dust on the desk or at Hugo.
“Hmm? Strange. Where has the heat raged until now gone? Died already? That’s not good. So…?“
And again, no one responded.
“……The answer is simple. Crush those remnants of Highserk completely, before they can deepen their ties with the Archipelago. The current ties are still in the early stages. Worst case, the Highserk Empire, which has become the vanguard of the Archipelago, will make a move, and invade the other northern countries, AGAIN!!!”
Only silence followed.
“…The incident in the Labyrinth City will make the Archipelago wants to strengthen their armaments and power. They will look for allies who will become their fighting strength. Or, are you going to laugh at this, saying such is not possible to happen?!”
In contrast to his strengthened tone, Hugo let his gaze slowly slide over the participants of the congress. Even though trivial opinions and doubts were expressed, there were no clear opposing opinions. Obviously, deep down, the Council members felt the same as Hugo.
“We must get rid of the remnants of Highserk quickly, as possible. We must make our troublesome neighbor disappear, dissolve into nothing but ashes. For the sake of Liberitoa’s prosperity, for our eternal future. We must plan a full-scale attack against those remnants.”
Taking in the refugees from Ferrius and Highserk and organizing the acquired territory indeed took time.
However, Hugo could understand to some extent that the Moderates who had benefited were still seeking further gains without paying for them. Still, that being said. The dying empire should have been overthrown completely, even if it cost blood and sacrifice.
A year and a half late. That could be the case. But fortunately, there was a serious threat to the business, so the Council members were more understanding.
Therefore, the discussion point was shifted to how to get Highserk to surrender, and the discussion resumed.
After the meeting ended, Hugo returned to his room and began scrutinizing the information he had gathered.
The idea of an invasion strategy for annexing Highserk’s empire had been around for a long time. In fact, everything from the granary that forwarded supplies to the supporting castles that delivered grain to the front lines was still thoroughly maintained. And even if a few soldiers infiltrated from the border area, they wouldn’t be outwitted so easily. The problem was the situational relationship between the two countries, which had changed as a result of the Great Outbreak.
Many of the former Highserk territories facing Libertoa had fallen into disrepair due to the monsters overflowing from the Demon Territory. After the rampage calmed down, the Liberitoa Trade Federation Army worked hard to scrape the fallen territory in accordance with the actions of the monsters who had scattered their habitats in various places.
The forts and material collection sites abandoned by the Imperial Army of Highserk were eventually put to good use. Of course, after the painful experience of having been stabbed in the back at Sarajevo Fortress, any loopholes and underground passages had been thoroughly cleaned.
The remaining tasks for Hugo were the defense facilities built along the river and the ones firmly guarded by Highserk’s Eastern Army that had withstood the Great Outbreak. In particular, the supporting castle network of the base of the Eastern Army of Highserk was robust in contrast to the earlier, hastily constructed defense facilities.
Forcing a frontal assault now would only bleed both sides dry. It would only end in a muddy battle of attrition.
“The most realistic plan is to advance from the Lake Celta side, while scraping off the Demon Territory. Not that Highserk hasn’t thought of the possibility of an attack coming from their former territory. Still, this will suppress consumption the most. Besides, there’s their Imperial Capital.”
Hugo gazed down at the ever-changing map and stared at the position of Highserk’s Imperial Capital.
The Imperial Capital, which had been destroyed by the Flame Emperor Dragon, was reclaimed by Highserk in the hope of redemption. It wasn’t just a normal city. Although it was half destroyed, its defenses were amazingly complete. Large numbers of soldiers could be stationed within the extensive outer line, and the well-maintained passageways made it easy to bring troops and supplies from various locations.
The Imperial Capital, the center and base of the country, was a symbol of Highserk advocating a comeback. Even Hugo could understand that.
So, it was easy to imagine the impact it would have on Highserk if the Imperial Capital was wrecked once again.
In short, there was no way the Imperial Capital could be a disposable garbage. It must definitely be defended with an adequate military force.
If Highserk, which had lost most of the field army, squeezed more military forces to defend the Imperial Capital, it would have been impossible to hold the other part of the country well. Besides, there was now the Flame Emperor Dragon Corridor, which was a symbol of the alliance with the Principality of Myard. In time, other trade routes might emerge, but for now, this was the best and only route to Myard. If it were broken, Myard would be cut off from its lifeline.
Such was Hugo’s preoccupation with the deployment of troops and the placement of soldiers. But his attention was diverted by one thing. A sheet of documents on the corner of the desk.
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