Two days before Ardis and Rona started heading towards the capital. When Ardis is still escorting Michelle and the others towards the village, there was already chaos in the capital of Gran about the news of 『Lord Thoria had raised the flag of rebellion』.
「Kuh……. Why did Lord Thoria……」
A young man that wore extravagant clothing in front of Moore cringed his face. But his expression only changed a little, his noble appearance, which was trained to impose dignity, was not impaired at all.
「And the report came last night, yet the news is already spread everywhere now……. Can’t they even properly guard the information. 」
Unlike the young man that seemed irritated, Moore replied in a refreshing tone.
「There was a gag order in place though. Well, even if it’s something that we don’t want people to know, it might not be the same for them. 」
「So you mean Lord Thoria’s underlings is playing with the Kingdom now. 」
「It can’t be helped, young master. After all, they were still our ally till yesterday, so even the Kingdom’s intelligence agents hasn’t mark them. 」
「I know. 」
Although he said so, the bitterness on his expression was not fully hidden. While feeling the inexperience of the young master, Moore still somehow held himself back from smiling warmly.
Moore was now facing the Duke Nyrestia’s son, in other words, Minerva’s brother. As the Duke is now travelling to the border as the Commanding General, he’s now the person in charge of the Duke’s residency.
After a few seconds of silence, the young man asked Moore.
「Lord Thoria’s betrayal, is it possible that it’s because of the Empire’s invasion? 」
「Nine out of ten it is. Even if Lord Thoria rebelled when it was peaceful, I don’t think he can succeed against the entire Kingdom. And in the first place, the timing is too good. 」
「Thought so. They must’ve been looking for a chance for a while already. 」
While nodding at the young man’s words, Moore recalled the war four years ago. Come to think of it, the Thoria army’s movement at that time was peculiar.
They retreated at the worsening situation with the excuse of helping the headquarters. Because of that, the Kingdom’s left wing was left completely dysfunctional but, the Thoria army itself that did that bore no consequences.
Even though it might’ve been a losing battle, deserting the fight is an unforgivable act.
However, since they retreated on the pretense of sending help to the prince, they avoided getting blamed openly.
Because of that, it was only the Thoria army that had kept its strength after the previous war.
Strangely, even though other territorial army were assaulted by ambushing Empire soldiers, only the Thoria army had retreated without suffering a single loss.
Thinking about it now, it must be that the Thoria army was let through.
If the Empire army did not retreat then, but continued to advance to the capital, then there’s no doubt that the Thoria army would’ve rebelled then.
「In any case, I cannot stand by and do nothing. I shall pay a visit to the castle. 」
「If so, take Jake and Endory with you. 」
Taking two of the veterans guards of the Duke’s residency, the successor of the Duke’s house headed towards the castle.
It was almost midnight that he returned to the Duke’s residency.
「A sortie is decided. 」
When the young nobleman returned and called Moore and head butler to the office, he said so as the first thing.
「It is not a defense battle? 」
「Even if it was unexpected, exposing the capital to danger will damage the King’s prestige. It will probably affect the frontline at the border too. 」
Moore’s question was answered by the young nobleman. Certainly, he’s right.
Although the news probably hasn’t arrived now, it will probably arrive tomorrow or the day after. If that happens, the generals at the frontline would be concerned.
Depending on the situation, some of them might do something unexpected just because of the report of Thoria’s rebellion.
No, if there’s a connection between the Empire and Lord Thoria in secret, there’s no doubt they will move then.
Moreover, the Kingdom army will surely fall when the capital is surrounded on all sides.
To have the least effect on the frontline, it’s not a bad idea to handle the Thoria army situation before they arrive at the capital.
Even if it is tactically bad, it is a strategically or politically unavoidable choice.
「Fortunately, there’re fifteen hundred soldiers altogether in the capital now. We have more numbers than the Thoria army. 」
「Is the capital going to be empty then? 」
The head butler eyes became round.
「It can’t be helped. Of course, we will leave some soldiers behind, but it’s not a situation to consider reserving power. If we can’t defend against the Thoria army, it will be the Empire’s victory anyways. 」
Moore had no choice but to be convinced either. However, the following words made the head butler lose his voice.
「I as well will depart for the front as the second in command. 」
At the time when the family head is already out in the battlefield, it’s not normal to even have the successor go.
If the worst happened, their bloodline will be severed.
「Now that Master is already on the frontline, why would young master go too!? 」
「No other house could do it you see. Well, it’s not like I can’t understand. 」
「Then there’s no need for the Duke house to――」
「Our Nyrestia house is connected to the royal family. 」
The young nobleman overwhelmed the head butler’s words.
「We have the right to succeed the throne. That’s why, unlike the other houses, we cannot escape. 」
As if saying that to himself, the young nobleman insisted that 「It’s the obligation coming from someone who has the royal blood」.
「If by that, then the royal family should――」
He wasn’t convinced, as the head butler was then once again overwhelmed by the young nobleman.
「Don’t say it. It’s unforgivable for a vassal to tell what the royal family to do. 」
He glared at the head butler and warned. As expected, the head butler as well reflected his disrespectful attitude and bowed down.
「……I apologize for my overextension. Please forgive me. 」
「Yeah, take note in the future. 」
Ending the topic like that, Moore spoke again.
「When are you going? 」
「Tomorrow noon. 」
「That’s……, quite a rushed schedule. 」
「The preparation for war is already done a long time ago. Though it was unexpected for anyone that we will be facing an army coming from the north. 」
「Shall I take it as I will be accompanying as well? 」
「No, the guard captain will stay here. Stop my little sister from her recklessness. 」
「Escort―― in that meaning? 」
Moore confirmed daringly, but the young nobleman instead replied with a bitter smile.
「It’s also an escort at the same time. Your main role is to stop the tomboy from running outside with a sword. Isn’t it the guard captain the only one around here that can stop her? 」
「It’s hard to say that I can’t deny it. 」
Although Minerva’s actual brother seemed to say so harshly, it was sad that Moore had nothing to rebuke with.
Not just Moore, even the head butler seemed to smile bitterly. About two years had passed since Ardis had left the capital.
Even with no guidance, Minerva had not stopped on her training. Thanks to that, her swords skills are becoming more sophisticated.
As expected, she’s still not to the level of Moore but, she could fight evenly against normal mercenaries and soldiers.
Although it was already rare to see female sword user among mercenaries and explorers, Minerva was even a noble lady.
On top of that, a high rank peerage, the lady of a duke house. It seems like the person herself had already given up on marriage, as she had been openly training her sword skills, not even trying to hide it from others by now.
And the result was she had been titled the 『Sword Maniac Noble Lady』 by the gossipers. Right now, it’s probably the number one problem that the Duke Nyrestia faces.
The next day, the young nobleman headed out with an army of thirteen hundred. Although they are still leading in numbers by a little, it’s a number easily toppled depending on the development of the battle.
Half of Moore’s subordinates also followed as the nobleman’s escort. Only the minimum required guards are left at the residency in order to protect Minerva and also the residency’s security.
「Good grace. I can’t say I like the battlefield but I wonder if getting dragged around by Ojou-sama or rampaging on the battlefield without thinking anything is easier. 」
Because of her improvements, Minerva is now more proactive than before. The fact that she has given up on her path as an aristocratic daughter may be working in the wrong direction.
Nowadays, she had transformed into such a hyperactive girl that it’s a trouble to Moore. Seeing off the young master and finishing his daily work, after sighing and heading to sleep, it just about before dawn that Moore woke up.
It was not the natural waking. It was the kind of danger sensing capabilities after his long experience that forcefully dragged him out of his sleep.
「Wh, at? 」
While his mind woke up rapidly, Moore had a sense of anxiety as he stood up. Almost unconsciously getting his equipment, he left the bedroom with a sword.
The appearance of the mansion didn’t look anything out of place. While occasionally passing by the night watches, Moore sharpened his senses.
「It’s an unsettling feeling. 」
It was the kind of unsettling feeling and displeasure of sensing his soon to be defeat, like getting thrown into a demonic being den.
However, the mansion still remained peaceful. Eventually, Moore’s feet headed outside the mansion to an observatory tower some distance away.
Not by his reasoning, but his instincts unfolded, telling him to look further out. Entering the observatory tower, the strange feeling continued to swell and pushed his back while he climbed the long stairs.
「Huh? Isn’t it captain? 」
As he climbed the tower, the subordinates that is responsible for surveillance seemed surprised at his arrival.
「Hey, just taking a look for a bit. 」
With a vague answer, Moore looked over the surroundings. It was still quiet.
The capital when the morning market is still not yet open, it was a peaceful appearance that didn’t suit his senses telling him otherwise.
The city that would eventually come alive as the night passes and the day comes was still asleep.
「It’s nothing, huh. …… Nn? 」
Not finding any abnormalities, just as Moore was about to get down from the tower, something moved at the edge of his vision.
In that direction, the endless sea unfolds. Just as Moore was about to dismiss it as a fishing boat, an unimaginable scene unfolded as it floated upwards.
A gigantic ship appeared from the other side of the morning mist. It was an enormous ship hull that fooled his depth perception that Moore never seen before.
On top of that, it wasn’t just one or two. Just glancing and estimating, Moore could see more than fifty of those ships heading towards them.
「Oi oi oi oi oi. 」
Moore saw the flags on those ships and panicked.
「T-The Empire’s flag……! 」
The subordinate that saw the same fleet of ships said what it was. Just as what he said, the enormous ships were carrying the flag of Elmenia Empire.
Although the two were stunned, Moore immediately hit the back of the subordinate and yelled.
「Don’t space out, wake everyone up! The servants too! 」
Seeing the subordinate quickly run down the observatory tower, Moore looked over at the sea again.
The fleet was heading straight here. The meaning behind that, it’s not like Moore didn’t understand.
「Tch, it’s like that huh. 」
It was just a short moment when his face turned ugly as he bit on his lips. Moore as well descended the tower behind his subordinate.