Chapter 34- The start of the counterattack
It was in May that the combined forces of Leia and Mikunov drove out the forces of the Kingdom of Saber and successfully defended their borders to the death.
Soon after, a messenger on a fast horse was sent from the Kingdom of Mikunov and came to Leia’s royal palace.
The king was in the middle of his morning audience at the time and many nobles were lined up in the audience chamber to greet him in the morning.
The messenger rushes into the audience chamber, kneels before the throne and announces that “our army has won a great victory”.
At that moment, the audience hall was abuzz. The king embraced the ministers who were nearby.
The saint advanced to the crown prince’s front and folded one knee, smiling modestly and neatly, like a model and said in a voice as sweet as sticky sugar.
“As expected. Your Highness’s accurate estimation of the Saber army’s movements is the reason for this victory.”
“I did what I had to do to protect the future of the saint and this country.”
It wasn’t those in this royal palace who actually fought on the battlefield and won. But the saint gazed at him with her honey-colored eyes, as if to say that the crown prince was the most meritorious of all.
(Now I can finally meet Gideon….!)
I secretly patted my chest, too.
It was hard to believe that there had been a long period of time when I hadn’t seen him right after I arrived at the royal palace and now I was so eager to see him.
It wasn’t until June that the army made its triumphant return.
Proceeding through the main streets of the royal city, the army showed its bravery to the people of Leia as they made their way to the royal palace.
The people watched from the streets of the capital as the procession passed by.
Appearing a short distance behind the group of soldiers in light gray uniforms was the Magic Legion, dressed in dark purple robes.
Their success in Mikunov had already reached the royal capital and they were applauded by the crowds along the route.
After returning to the royal palace, the officers gathered in a large conference room, which was used for the most important occasions in the palace, to report the victory.
The king, the crown prince and the ministers welcomed the officers across a long, large table that could seat fifty people in a row.
The saint sat on a raised seat at the back of the room.
Perhaps because they had just finished a long journey, there was a faint smell of dust in the air as the officers entered the conference room.
Although their beards were shaved and their hair was trimmed for their audience with the king, their faces were well tanned and their skin was peeling in places from dryness, a glimpse of the severity of the battle.
First, an after-action report of the battle was given with great enthusiasm and the king praised it. When that was over, the crown prince looked around at everyone’s faces and asked.
“I have heard that the magic soldiers did a remarkable job. Why isn’t Gideon, the commander of the legion, here?”
The commander-in-chief, who had been leading the Leia forces, turned a somber face.
“I am sorry to inform you, sir, but the Captain of the Magic Corps, Gideon Lancaster, the next head of the Duke of Lancaster’s family, is on the verge of returning home …… unfortunately.”
The king quickly silenced the murmuring crowd by lifting one hand, then raised both eyebrows and urged the commander-in-chief to continue.
“It was shortly after the Saber army had retreated. In the middle of the night, the remnants of the Sabers rode into the encampment and set fire and oil on Captain Lancaster’s tent. It really only took a moment…”
“So where is Gideon now?”
The crown prince’s voice, as he asked this, was plain, but it was tinged with a somewhat uncontrollable excitement.
The Commander-in-Chief closed his eyes and then answered in a very low voice.
“The captain will be at the royal palace shortly. –The body is currently being carried toward the royal palace.”
Oh no!!!! It was Iris who let out a shrill cry.
She was falling down from her chair, covering her face with her hands and shedding big tears.
“Gideon. That man who was like a brother to me!”
The crown prince asks the officer in a low, controlled voice, while the saint behind him is concerned.
“So who confirmed that the body was Gideon Lancaster?”
“The body found in the …… burnt remains was severely damaged.”
The crown prince’s face twitched for a moment.
Slowly blinking once, he repeated the question in a quiet voice.
“Then we cannot be certain that it was Gideon. You can’t say for sure if he’s alive or dead?”
The officer shook his head in dismay.
“I understand your desire to deny it. But given the circumstances, I’m sorry…..”
In the face of the distraught and sorrowful saint, my emotions had nowhere to go and on the contrary, I became calm.
There was no way that Gideon, who had been at the top of his class at the Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry for many years, would die from a surprise attack by such a remnant. He must have sensed that he was in danger and had successfully hidden himself somewhere.
I know more than anyone else that he is a great magician.
There’s no way he is dead.
Above all, he must have had the amulet I had given him.
(If the amulet had burned, I, the magician, would have been shocked in some way. But that’s not what happened.)
The amulet was intact and should still be somewhere.
There is no way he could have burned the entire tent in the middle of the night. And he must know that I would not make a mistake. It was not wishful thinking, but my conviction.
The soldiers who had distinguished themselves in the battle of Mikunov were to receive a medal from the king.
It wasn’t only the soldiers who were chosen.
The saint also healed wounded soldiers who returned from Mikunov, so she was one of those who received a medal at the ceremony.
Gideon was also chosen as a recipient, but of course he couldn’t attend the ceremony. So his father, the duke, accepted the award instead.
The crown prince was consoling the grieving saint, but to me he seemed somewhat pleased. He seemed to think that I was pensive, too, and that I was shocked into silence and he spoke to me with strange exertion.
“Liesel. Life is not always as it seems. Poor Liesel.”
The crown prince patted me on the shoulder. It was as if he was consoling me for my futile efforts to be strong.
Yes, that may be life. But you guys tried to reach the heights last time, even stepping on other people’s toes.
I feel the furnace in my heart, which I have been forcibly extinguishing, is on fire. It’s burning steadily inside me, in proportion to the years I have endured.
(This time, I won’t let you do what you want. The world is not a stage of convenience for a select few.)
If we are not allowed to live quietly in Baral and are dragged off to the royal palace, we have to fight.
This time, I cannot just go with the flow.
This time I will not let the saint have her way and I will not be killed by this crown prince.
When we gathered in Cynthia’s room late at night, without even removing the long-haired wig he had worn to sneak into the girls’ dormitory, Mac looked at me and said firmly.
“Gideon is not the kind of guy who would die in his sleep. He’s definitely hiding somewhere.”
“Yes, Liesel. It’s now or never if you want to take a shot at the crown prince, who thinks he’s in control of the kingdom.”
“Yeah. I won’t let the crown prince or the saint do what they want any more.”
Sitting on Cynthia’s bed, I nodded. Cynthia says with discretion as she offers me and Mac some tea.
“I wonder if the crown prince put you by his side to get Gideon to do what he wanted.”
“I agree. If he finds out I have memories after all this time, I may be erased.”
When I muttered something like that, Cynthia and Mac often fell silent. It was as if they couldn’t find the words to deny it.
I didn’t care and continued my serious conversation with Mac.
“The Royal Guard is investigating the fire at the ballroom, right? If that’s the case, I’d also like you to look into the Opera House fiasco that preceded it.”
“Yes. There may be people who were working at the time who suddenly got rich or disappeared.”
Mac nodded a few times slowly, keeping his eyes in the air.
“I see what you mean. I’ll hurry up so we can get there in time for the ceremony.”
“I think the bigger the stage, the more effective and appropriate it is to reveal the sins of the saint.”
When I said this, Cynthia nodded, deeply moved.
“If we are going to condemn that saint, we have to get rid of her completely in one shot. –It’s going to be a match-winning awards ceremony.”
“The ceremony will be held on a Sunday in July, the very day Liesel was killed. His Highness the Fake inside decided on the date, didn’t he? He must be very attached to this day to choose it.”
“On the contrary, after this day, everything will change. It will be a new day in the truest sense of the word.”
Cynthia, who usually has a calm tone, said with unusual force.
It was a new day that I had not been able to greet last time.
I had worked so hard to overcome that day.
“The captain of the Royal Guard has decided he’s ready to go for it.”
“I’m glad to hear that. I think I’ll go to Catharine’s house tomorrow. I’m going to ask her to help me.”
When I said this, they nodded vigorously. Then, on their knees, they made clenched fists.
“Let’s turn our destiny upside down.”
“Yes, I suppose so. This is the day when Liesel’s efforts since the age of six will come to fruition. Let’s all expose the sins of the saints!”
Live or die?
That noon of my rebirth will come again.