19. A Favor Received is to be Returned
What they saw billowing from the royal capital was black smoke.
“—a few days ago, a sudden explosion occurred on the walls. Taking advantage of that, the lurking Yenzie army invaded.”
While listening to Van’s story, Gaizel seemed to be thinking about something—it lasted for a moment which felt like forever. Gazing at his profile, Tistye bit her lips with anxiety.
Even after hearing that Gaizel fell off a cliff after being called a rebel, Van didn’t think Gaizel was dead. Therefore, some people did their best to discover Gaizel’s whereabouts in secret.
Despite so, no information could be acquired. Afterwards, when most were heading to Isiris to search for Gaizel, the attack from Yenzie begun.
While Van was on guard, the royal capital was invaded. Van saw no chance of winning without Gaizel, thus he himself went to Isiris and finally found them.
“I know this is a very selfish wish… I am truly sorry, but I really require Your Majesty’s strength…”
The only thing they told Dita was that they had urgent business in the royal capital. She thought they were going to get caught, but Dita was more casual about it than she expected.
The words Dita said to Tistye—“—when you return, you must resume your work again.”
—she was very happy to hear that. She kept her words in her mind.
At first, Tistye was advised to remain in Isiris. However, she insisted that she would assist in helping the injured and guiding the residents. Tistye insisted that they needed additional manpower.
Gaizel persistently tried to stop her, saying it was dangerous, to which Tistye countered:
“I don’t want to be the First Empress who hide amidst a national crisis.”
On the condition that she would never leave his side, Gaizel reluctantly acknowledged her wish in the end.
“How many troops are on our side?”
“About two thousand—reinforcements are on the way. They are preventing the enemy from breaching the castle, but I don’t know how long that will last…”
A Verscia archer was keeping watch over the closed city gate. Looking at the figure in the distance, Van guided them to a hidden passage that lead inside.
Many parts of the gate had been destroyed as stones and fire arrows layed scattered about. Citizens were hiding in their homes. The only ones running across the streets were soldiers. Wounded soldiers were laid down by the side of the road—the terrible situation caused Tistye to gasp.
“—Van, where were you off to!?”
When they turned around at the sudden angry voice, a man who seemed to be the knight leader rushed towards them. However, when the knight leader saw Gaizel, his expression turned into that of a frown.
“Your Majesty, Gaizel…”
“Forgive me, Captain, but I thought we alone would suffice…”
As the breeze blew, Tistye quietly watched Gaizel’s movements. However, when Gaizel turned to the knight leader, he bowed his head.
“I am sorry that I’ve only returned now.”
“…W, what are you saying…”
“It may not be your intention to obey a rebel, but if we don’t protect the kingdom now, Verscia will perish. That is why, forgive me, but I require your aide.”
The knight leader was at loss for words—he didn’t expect such earnest words from Gaizel. He was befuddled for a moment, but after exhaling shortly, he quickly bowed towards Gaizel.
“It’s frustrating, but at this rate, I am losing confidence that I alone will be able to defend the kingdom…”
“Therefore, Your Majesty, please lend me your strength.” “To me, as well!”
Van, who stood next to him, also bowed.
Gaizel lifted his face and murmured as he looked up at the castle gate. The direction of the wind, the number of soldiers, etc. were checked visually by him. Briefly afterwards, instructions were given.
“Take out all the gunpowder in the royal palace, then set up a water basin and place it near the gate.”
“There’s a possibility that the enemy is attempting to excavate an underground passage in rather than break through the front. Pay attention to the surface of the water and watch its movements.”
In addition, Gaizel issued orders to the soldiers in vicinity one after another. At first, only Van and the captain were following. But the other soldiers, who had heard his brilliant suggestions, gradually began to gather.
When they first looked at Gaizel’s face, they were embarrassed. However, they soon decided it was best to just follow his commands if they wanted to counter the attack of Yenzie. One after another, the soldiers began to adhere to Gaizel.
The scene reminded her of Anrie’s search—again, she was witnessing Gaizel’s talent in war.
Eventually, all the unit leaders were gathered under Gaizel. A perfect command system was finally established—nevertheless;
“—who said any of you could give up your post!?”
A soldier shouted, apparently sent from the royal palace. He pushed through the line-up and told Gaizel, who stood in the center, straightforwardly.
“Lord Gaizel, as a messenger, I thereby relay this to you: refrain from undertaking selfish actions!”
His attire was different from that of a knight’s uniform. Tistye was familiar with his attire—he was one of the special guards employed in the royal palace to protect the royalty and the aristocrats. That messenger may had been instructed by one of the aristocrats.
“B, but, at this rate…”
“It’s an order: any of you who dare follow the words of the rebel shall be dismissed!”
The captains tried to argue against it, but the messenger refused to listen.
Apparently, the news that Gaizel had returned had reached the royal palace. Even though they were in such a dire situation, a messenger was sent all the way there to drive a nail into the coffin.
Looking at the captains, whom were confused as to which one to follow, Gaizel, with his arms folded, uttered only one word—
The coldness of his tone was that of absolute zero, anyone who heard it would be frozen in place. It was as if the voice came from the bottom of Hell.
The intensity of the anger in his metallic navy-blue eyes was higher than ever. The captains, and even Tistye, who stood closest to him, were terrified.
As a matter of course, the special guard who saw it was also terrified. But because he was under a strict command, he desperately argued back with a trembling voice.
“I, it’s an order! B, besides, Lord Gaizel is no longer the Emperor, you’re dismissed…!”
“Crap is the only thing that ever leaves that mouth of yours, I see.”
Hyiii—! The special guard shrank.
Gaizel left the captains with final instructions.
Eventually, when the units had left, Gaizel approached Tistye. At the same time, he called “Van!” who was carrying a water basin in the distance.
“I am going to the royal palace.”
As Van let out a surprised, weird, voice, the three quickly went to the royal palace using the back road. Gaizel walked as he continued to speak in an irritated tone.
“As if there’s time for internal conflict when the kingdom is amidst crisis! Furthermore—…”
“—is there something else?”
“Most likely, there’s someone who lead this invasion.”
According to Gaizel, more likely than not, there were traitors on the side of Verscia. After the first surprise attack, the invasion came too quickly. The enemy’s equipment against the castle’s defense was also too precise.
“If we don’t seize those traitors, the same thing will happen again.”
“But, how would we do that? Do we even have time to interrogate?!”
Tistye understood Van’s argument. She thought Gaizel’s speculation was correct, but how on earth would they catch the traitors in such a short time?
Time isn’t infinite, therefore we mustn’t waste any—but…
Tistye opened her eyes as if she had chanced upon something.
“Y, Your Majesty, there may be a way…”
Gaizel and Van heard Tistye’s strategy without slowing down. At first, Gaizel had a deep wrinkle between his brows, but at the end, he gave a short approval.
Eventually, the three reached the room in the royal palace where the subjects were gathered.
Gaizel then slammed open the tightly closed door.
***T/N: Eek, fuck those subjects, man. Should’ve switched them out when you ascended the throne, Gaizel. They’re useless af.
And did anyone mentioned traitor? Who could that be? Must be that Luxen dude. Yes I’m still finding a reason to torture him after he attempted to destroy our mothership.