Chapter 69: Eighth Episode: Chapter 5
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

It was the year 791, on the 29th day of 9th month. A sunny weather with no sign of precipitation blazed in the southern mountainous region. History was going to be made, as the pieces and parcels of the events were coming together, forming the final, complete picture. At this moment, the border between Kingdom of Italia and Titan Empire, which stretched along the dense forest and precipitous mountains for about hundreds of kilometers, was in peace and calmness. It appeared that the people were not worried about the tense relationship going on between the two governments. Anyhow, it was no use worrying because even the parties involved would never be able to predict the outcomes.

On the night of 29th, the anxious Brigadier Silvio Barrick turned and struggled in his bed but could not fall asleep no matter what he did. This brigadier was a local, and his house was located right in the city behind the border at which he worked and guarded all day.

He forced himself to shut his eyes but to no avail. Memories of events that had happened for the past few days occupied his mind. The brigadier despised war. When the Imperial Envoy of Italia passed through the border post at which he guarded, he was genuinely delighted to welcome them. Nonetheless, the world was full of surprises. Right on the following day, on the desk in his office table appeared a letter from the Commander-in-chief of Southern Army Group.

The brigadier vividly remembered the anxious feeling when he received the secret order. "This is an order for your department to immediately launch an offense against the military targets of Italia upon receiving the code name, placing focus on capturing or destroying the Horfansted Fortress."

Silvio turned to the other side of the bed for the thirteenth time of the night. On the last Holy day of God, he was invited over to the Kingdom of Italia by the commanding officer of Horfansted Fortress. Either by tomorrow or the day after, he would be charging at the enthusiastic Venetian’s house with his whole Mountain Corps. Just the thought of it was enough to give him a headache.

Silvio shut his eyes again, and silently prayed for a good night sleep.

"Damn it!" The brigadier reluctantly climbed out of the bed and walked toward the door. Some bastard disturbed him just as he was about to fall asleep.

Waiting outside of the door was his own orderly, and beside him stood another man whose face was filled with sweat and dirt.

"Brigadier Silvio Barrick, the Army Commander of the Second Army District Eight of the Imperial Guards?" The communications official held on tightly to the document in his hands.

"Yes! That’s me!" What was meant to be, would be. Silvio fastened the buttons of his military uniform quickly but accurately.

"Secret order delivered from the Military Command Center of Field Army."

The document was passed over to a pair of trembling hands.

"Four o’clock in the morning of the 19th, the attack force under Field Army would meet Spring Time in Bragg."

Brigadier smiled at the communication official, "It will also be Spring Time for us soldiers!"

The other party nodded solemnly, "You’re absolutely right, Your Excellency. War is like springtime to the soldiers."

***************

The northeast border of Italia on the Moistrocca Mountain Pass was where the essential gateway was located. Initially, Duke of Andrew’s territory did not share the same border with the Kingdom of Italia, but as soon as it came to their knowledge that the sons of Andrew were assaulted by the Italian mercenary group, Andrew sent out two Front Main Knights Army Units to pass through the Slovenian Empire to arrive at the southern mountainous region connected to Italia borderline.

Slovenian Empire did not even complain a little bit regarding Andrew’s action because the King understood clearly that even if he did, it would not be taken into consideration by the other party. Moreover, it was a smart move that he decided not to involve himself in this vengeance which a father has waged for his son.

At four o’clock in the morning of the 19th, Liszt The campsite of the Front of the Narcissus Knights was vacant and quiet. Perhaps the knights were still sleeping, or maybe they had already gone out. Only one or two silhouettes could be seen moving about in the dark. They were the night shift knights who occupied themselves with putting the army supplies and gears in order. If one looked closer, they would realize that even the insides of these massive tents were as empty. So, were all the knights out of the campsite? The truth was, just a short moment ago, the knights had already embarked on their journey out into the dark woods.

At the boundary of the southern mountainous region lied the infamous borderline. Occasionally, a couple of barks from the military dogs could be heard from the depths of the woods. However, the Italian across the border would never have guessed so. The night seemed just as calm and peaceful as any other night.

Venus, the morning star, hung by itself on the vast dark sky. The dawn was almost breaking, and birds could be heard tweeting melodiously like a gentle morning call.

"Spring Time in Bragg?" Lieutenant Colonel Virgil Blaze, the Commander-in-chief for Liszt Front of the Narcissus Knights, pondered. He looked at the faraway mountains that stood strong, "Since when do the Narcissus Knights have to obey military orders?"

"Learn to see through the surface of everything, the Narcissus Knights are now supposed to deal even with western countries. Everything is possible." This was the reply given by the Commander-in-chief of Coran Front: Lieutenant Brigadier Michel Doronbo.

"Maybe we could even keep attacking until we arrive at Roman Vatican. Is it not the capital of Kingdom of Italia?" Virgil leaped onto the horse.

"Exactly! That’s our final aim. Hopefully, the Pope His Grand Eminence would not question us too much about our action."

"We only have a month’s worth of rations left. Do you think we could make it to seeing the Pope His Grand Eminence?" Virgil voiced out his doubt about the idea.

"I guess so," Michel shrugged nonchalantly. "The Kingdom of Italia does not even have a proper regular cavalry. Meanwhile, we have nineteen thousand soldiers from two Front Main Knights Army Units! I think we’re invincible!"

"Ha ha! Michell! I have a plan!" Virgil shook the southern military plan that he had been holding and said, "You know what? Forget about this! I’m not going to sacrifice my knights in destroying the Italia fortress. I’ve heard that their city is not fortified, so I suggest we bypass the fortress and charge right into the city from the main route. It sounds more exciting this way!"

"You would create so much trouble for the Duke," Michel was doubtful about the suggestion, "After all, the Duke has agreed on this military plan himself."

"We don’t have to be so prudent," Virgil laughed. "Have you forgotten what the Duke mentioned in the secret order? His Excellency hopes that the attack will be carried out in a relaxed manner. Hmm, otherwise… I could take the main route and you destroy the fortress?"

Michel spat on the ground. "Virgil, you’re such a real bastard!"

Lieutenant Brigadier Virgil laughed out loud before he applied the spurs to the warhorse. "Liszt Front! Sound the attack horn! As for the fellas of Coran Front, they can follow our horses’ behind and eat the dirt if they like!"

Michel beckoned to his orderly, "Sound the assault horn! Don’t let the Liszt children lead the way, they would never reach the destination!"

Two deep, long-drawn horns echoed in the mountains, and slowly it lingered to the Moistrocca Mountain Pass.

A knight steadily appeared out of the woods. He had already crossed the border and stepped over to the land of the Kingdom of Italia. Just a couple of seconds later, an uncountable number of knights followed suit and rushed out of the woods. Despite their speedy pace they managed to maintain their formation which formed a sharp point in the form of a scissors blade. Dust and dirt were kicked up high in the air along the way. Looking from afar, one would have thought the quiet mountain pass had been crushed by a burning war chariot.

***************

Concurrently, the soldiers guarding at the Horfansted Fortress in the Kingdom of Italia were fully awake at 4 in the morning, as they were aware that the Titan had been unfriendly for the past couple of days. Their border sentry post had been taken down and the soldiers were chased off by the Titan. Fortunately, there were no any casualties yet because the opponent’s Mountain Division had gone considerably easy on them.

"Clang!" a metal chain hooked onto the tall city wall, but no guards seemed to have noticed even as they were only a stone’s throw away.

The Mountain Division soldiers slowly made their way up. One, two… and finally, a whole team managed to reach the top of the city wall.

These soldiers were not wearing any armor, instead, they were dressed more like hunters. The hunters dispersed after successfully arriving at the top; some snuck off to the watchtower, while others crept silently to the back of guards.

There were not many guards who worked the night shift at the fortress, only about one defending each battlement. In a blink of an eye, the Mountain soldiers had already taken down four battlements. Suddenly the watchtower shone with a glaring light! The Titans who moved their way up the tower gritted their teeth as they were forced to descend from the place that maneuvered the drawbridge. They were only a few steps away!

The alarm call sounded loud and clear across the dawn sky. Soldiers hurried out from all buildings in the fortress, resembling a pot of overflowing boiled water, and many of them did not even have time to be properly dressed. Bonfires were ignited across the campsite which cast countless shadows on the ground as soldiers dashed past. Soldiers inside the ramparts were chased out by their commanding officers to rescue the watchtower, while some hurried their way to the battlements for some sniping actions, holding in their hands were bundles of arrows.

"Light up the arrows! Light up the arrows!"

"Let’s look at what we have, scurrying around in the dark like dirty rats!" The officer’s voice echoed through the walls of the city wall.

Almost immediately after the command was ordered, numerous ignited arrows were fired across the night, northern sky like a majestic meteor shower. The Italian cowardly looked over at the dark, greyish forest, fearing for the gigantic beasts that would come charging from within.

After what seemed like a century, the lighted arrows eventually landed on the ground. Finally! The fire burned more vigorously as they touched the rich, green land. From the light reflected, the Italian ultimately figured out what was coming toward them.

They could not bring themselves to believe the sight witnessed on the border of the forest. People! Countless number of people! Numerous people who were heavily armored and holding spears and knives in their knives had appeared!

At last, a soldier assessed the upcoming situation. He turned over to shout at the people behind him!

"Titans!"

"Attack!" Silvio said softly yet loud enough to be heard by all of his messengers.

The sound of the bugle echoed even to the forest area, where the army assigned to the fortress attack were still marching out silently in formation. There was neither a single scream nor a single shred of clamor coming from them. The soldiers had calmed themselves down to get prepared mentally for the upcoming assault.

Silvio was a highly competent general even though he was not too keen about war. He demanded his army group not to scream and shout at the top of their lungs on the battlefield like a bunch of uncivilized people. Instead, he preferred his Mountain soldiers to pressure the enemy with the deafening loudness of silence. It was the kind of silence that would blow out the full potential of the army when they finally come to face the enemy, which in turn would make their attacks appear more forceful and explosive.

And his strategy had proved to be effective! The Italian soldiers were completely baffled by the enemy’s silence. They had no idea where to aim, and soon, their determination was replaced with fear and panic. Had they come to a peace? A truce? Why were there so many Titans underneath the fortress that would not even make a sound?

The commander of the city defense rushed over and ordered the soldiers to shoot more arrows. He urged the soldiers to prepare more fuel and rolling woods. However... had he forgotten about the burning watchtower?

Ciel was the captain of the surprise attack team. He was born in an ordinary hunter family, but as if anyone cared about that on the battlefield. Regardless, his team was in a deep trouble. the Italian soldiers were underneath them, and many of the members were sacrificed in the effort of capturing the watchtower. Ciel glanced out of the window from above and saw all his comrades in arm. He gritted his teeth in frustration. He was only the son of an ordinary hunter. He was unsure of his reason for being in the Italian fortress, and he had no idea why the soldiers that had followed him for many years were not a bit hesitant when it came to sacrificing their own lives. However, there was one thing he knew for sure. Just as his general had reminded him before the attack, if his surprise attack team could not lay down the drawbridge of the fortress, maybe he could save his own skin, but at the end, it would be the lives of countless sons of hunters that would be given up for the God of Light.

The massive capstan of the drawbridge was hard to destroy by the mere manpower. Ciel cut off the thick rope that was attached to the capstan with all his strength. Thump! The heavy drawbridge fell off from its position, sending dirt and dust up in the air.

The Italian rushed toward the watchtower like a bunch of madmen! Many slipped and tried again. They were clear that if they could not save the situation, their fate would end up no different than the Titans: having their downstairs cut into halves!

Ciel held aloft a torch as he looked at the ground that had been drenched in pine tar. If the general did not lie to him, he would be rewarded an Imperial Warrior award if he managed to complete this attempt, which meant that his father and brother would never have to pay taxes ever again! This exchange was definitely worth risking his own life over!

Within seconds, the violent fire devoured the watchtower. The dancing flames almost resembled the fireworks lighted up in the celebration of the Holy Day of God.

"They are dead! Brother Ciel and his team are dead!" A voice emerged from the approaching army.

Like Ciel, many of these soldiers actually had no idea why were they even attacking the foreign land out of a sudden. However, soldiers were so used to obeying demands without questioning them. Even if they had no experience in slaughtering people or setting houses on fire, but every time they witnessed their comrades being sacrificed, their bodies burning with fires or being thrown in the city moat, they became enraged and they allowed themselves to be blinded with hatred.

"Kill!! Kill all these Italians! Revenge for Captain Ciel!" An unknown voice shouted hysterically from the crowd.

"Kill!" the whole Titan army was infuriated.

The night sky showered arrows to the men, and burning logs were thrown from above. Mountain soldiers screamed and roared like frustrated cavemen. Even though the drawbridge had been let down, but the fight surrounding the city gate continued. The commander of the city defense of Horfansted Fortress faced difficulty holding back the gate, as the situation at the watchtower was worse than expected. Furthermore, the persistence of the numerous Mountain soldiers was enough to take the whole army down. It was not possible to carry more stones and sandbags up the city wall, hence he could only sacrifice more of his men in order to defend the falling city gate.

The red flames cast a faint, red tint onto the morning star Venus. Both of the parties of the slaughtering prayed to the same God in the distance and the same words of prayer mumbled out of their mouths. Perhaps even the God of Light could not bear Himself to look at this cruel sight. He simply disregarded his sons and allowed them to pierce through each other burning bodies with long spears and sharp knives.

This was war, and both of the parties of the war could not get redemption from the God.

The siege ladder was overturned during the chaos, and the Mountain soldiers screamed in terror when they witnessed their own comrades being thrown over from the tall wall down to the crowd. Some lucky ones fell and had their body weight supported by the comrades below, but other less fortunate ones dropped directly onto the erected spears.

The attack of the arrow showers was indeed effective in delaying the enemy. The Mountain soldiers had to protect their heads with the shields, but they never stopped climbing up the wall. A few more fortunate ones would avoid the missed arrows and successfully reach the top of the wall, but that would not mean that they have triumphed. The Italians would throw themselves at the enemy that arrived at the top before the opposing party even had the chance to place both their feet on the ground. They fought painfully and died excruciatingly. Perhaps they complained, but they had no other choice, for that was the realities of war.

Brigadier Silvio nervously wiped off the beads of sweat trickling down from his forehead. Honestly, he had not seen this kind of spectacle before. He was nervous and extremely terrified! He could neither bear seeing yet another group of his men dissipate at the foot of the wall nor could he ignore the fact that yet another Company would be shattered into broken bones.

"This has to stop!" the brigadier murmured to himself. His military corps were fighting with all their strength but they were an unorganized mess.

"All the officers ranked Company and above have to be leading in the front of the line. Division commander of the First division, organize a Suicide Division, and charge through the city gate!"

The order reached the first line of attack fast. The Division Commander finally found his Regimental Commander in the middle of the chaos, and he had also contacted the captains. Not long later, more than one corp were selected. Regardless of their status as commoners or nobles, the Commanding Officers all stood out and rushed to the front line.

Italians who stayed hidden behind the city wall kept retreating backward. The Titans, with their sharply edged shields, formed into a line of a human wall. Standing behind the shields were not soldiers who normally fought with knives or axes, but instead, they were the almighty archers who were constantly shooting arrows at the enemy. The opponents’ resistance at the Front Line was finally weakened. Led by a colonel commander who held a knight's sword in his hand, on the first instance the pressure against the shields felt a little bit lighter, the Suicide Division shouted out an earth-shattering cry. Behind him was the last army of his Division, and no matter what, they had to rush out of the blockade of the Italians.

The soldiers stepped on their injured comrades and shielded themselves from the incoming arrows by hiding behind the dead bodies of their comrades. They constantly charged forward and suddenly everything around them became the targets of their attacks! The sudden influx of the Mountain soldiers to the city gate took over the position of their comrades, but almost immediately they were once again pushed back by the enemy's piercing spears. The archers were pushed out of the gate, and their shields were thrown aside. Only the metal on axes and knives were still clanging against each other, only the human bodies were left wrestling with each other.

The soldiers of Titans suddenly found themselves situated in the vast area beneath the city wall, and the ladder leading to the top of the city wall was just right beside them, but right at this moment, they heard a loud cry of grievance calling out from the front of the line.

"Division commander is sacrificed! Division commander is sacrificed!"

"He was pierced through at the edge of the spears of the Italian dogs!"

The previous moment of relief lasted only for about three seconds before they heard the exasperating news. Were they not already close to winning? However, it would seem the damned Italian who had taken the life of their division commander and were still not done assaulting him!

"Retrieve the remains of our division commander!"

"Bring back our division commander!"

The soldiers of Titans were agitated once again. They shouted the name of their respected division commander and charged forward without rhyme or reason, not fearful of getting killed themselves.

"We are in!" The Chief of Staffs of the Second Corps of Titan Imperial Army District Eight rubbed his hands together in excitement.

"Yes! We are in!" Silvio finally let out a sigh that he did not know he had been holding in. His capability and future had been proven by breaking through this wall. "Order! The whole army will charge! Second Division, clean up the city wall thoroughly! The remaining First Division consolidate the city gate! The cavalry of Third Division, eliminate the fortress! Tell the division commander of the Third Division to slow down his pace, we could collect some captives to our advantage."

The Chief of Staffs nodded in understanding and left hurriedly to the front line with his messengers. The captives could be used to flaunt their victory. He thought to himself, today the Second Corps could stand tall and hold their heads high.

On the other hand, Silvio paced slowly out of the woods. The Horfansted Fortress was soon going to be his. In only a very short time, his men would crash to the top of the wall and throw down the Italian men from above, exactly like how they did to the opponents earlier.

Silvio watched with pride as his troops continued pouring in through the city gate. His surprise attack was a success! A citation issued personally by the Emperor of the empire had landed in his pocket, perhaps the Imperial Warrior Medal would also be his, but… wait!

"Hold on! Who is the one on the stretcher?" Brigadier held back a few soldiers who were heading to evacuate the dead and the wounded in the forest.

"Report General, it’s Captain Ciel from the surprise attack team. We had just retrieved him from the city moat."

Silvio jumped off from the horse immediately. Ciel! It was Ciel whom he had known since childhood! Ciel’s family was the hunter for Silvio’s father, and this child was even named after himself! He had followed after him obediently as soon as he joined the army.

"Ciel! Are you alright?" The brigadier could no longer recognize the tall, sturdy Mountain soldier. This man in front of him seemed so frail and tiny after being tortured in the fire.

"Med... medal ... Warrior ..."

"Yes... the medal!" Silvio could not suppress his emotions anymore, suddenly tears flowed out of his eyes at once like a gushing waterfall. "Old buddy! Yes! The Imperial Warrior Medal, your family will thus obtain the land, honor, and your father no longer have to worry about climbing up the mountains to hunt in winter! Ciel, hold on for a bit longer! You will soon be a young rich man!"

"To hold on ..." Ciel groaned in excruciating pain. He already had no hope of survival, no one could stand the stench of burning dead bodies on his own body.

"Yes! You have to keep yourself alive!" Silvio let go of the cold hand and placed his sword on the chest of his old buddy.

"Inform the military doctor," Brigadier ordered to the soldier carrying the stretcher. "That this sword will cut down his head if this soldier who is going to receive the Imperial Warrior Medal is not saved."

Silvio’s gaze followed closely his old buddy who was being carried away into the direction of the woods. The moment he turned his head back to the fortress, he was completely shocked! The reserve soldiers responsible for battlefield health care that passed by him carried countless stretchers. He noticed himself situated in the midst of the sea of miserable.

"General! Have we won the war?" A soldier that had lost his limb saluted his commander with his good hand.

"General! I killed four of them!" A young soldier held on tightly onto his intestines which were oozing out of his wound, but his face full of pride.

"General ..."

"General ..."

Every soldier who passed by Silvio dragged their severely injured body to salute the commander-in-chief who had led them to victory.

Silvio murmured, but he was unable to say a single word. His face whitened, and his nails pressed forcefully into the palm of his hand.

"Messenger!"

"Yes, General!"

"I have changed my mind!" Silvio said while covering a seriously wounded and unconscious soldier closed by to him with his own cape. He did not know what was this feeling, but he felt an evil paw tearing at his throat madly!

"Order the Third Division to reignite the torches. I don’t want the fortress anymore, I just want it to burn to ashes!"

***************

The morning sun brought the faint golden rays onto the ground as usual. In the midst of this beautiful soft light, the Titans held aloft the butcher knives up high above their heads.

"This is why they deserved to be crowned the God-chosen soldiers!" The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marquis Dimitri Lemus, waved the battle report toward the young prince, "The attack codenamed "Spring Time in Bragg" has been going on for seven hours, and these two armies consisting of thousands Narcissus Knights have already traveled forty kilometers! They even broke down two barracks. According to the report, they did not even encounter any decent resistance."

Oscar spread his hands indifferently, "Perhaps we simply did not have to deploy the Narcissus Knights in the first place."

Marquis Dimitri Lemus shook his head at the Prince’s reaction, "It has been a while since the Imperial Guards were engaged in a war, the Imperial army just wanted to increase the odds of our victory."

"What if the kingdom of the West interferes in this war?" Oscar did not wish to encourage the old man sitting opposite himself, "Even I know that Italia and Faran are strong allies."

At last, the old Minister of Foreign Affairs straightened up himself in the chair, "Yes, you’re right, the Faran Kingdom would interfere at this event, but I’m also sure they wouldn’t perform anything irrational or out of reason. Everyone knows that Italia is never one of our concerned rivals. Moreover, the Imperial army has deployed Narcissus Knights to the action. This shows His Majesty the Emperor’s determination to defeat the opponent."

"Ohh…" The young man was slow to realize, "You all are using the prestige of Narcissus Knights to intimidate the enemy!"

"No, Your Highness. It’s not ‘you all’, but ‘we’!" the old marquis corrected.

"That’s right! We are!" Oscar nodded obediently. "Shall we get moving now?"

The Minister of Foreign Affairs looked at the time before replying, "Yes, Your Highness. We’re going to welcome our guests from Italia! Oh, young man, lend me a hand!"

Oscar assisted the old marquis to his feet.

"Your Excellency, to be frank, our army is provoking a war in their country. I feel that what we’re doing now is rather ridiculous!"

"Your Highness, there’s no other choice, you will have to get used to it."

Oscar was startled for a brief second, "Haha, someone else has said the same thing to me recently. Even though it is still the same deception, but I prefer the tricks I was used to."

The Minister of Foreign Affairs slowly walked out of Midally Palace with the assistance of the young Prince. As they moved forward to receive the carriage inlaid with the totem of Italia royal family, the old marquis exhorted softly beside the Prince’s ear.

"Young man, speak as I have taught you earlier. Remember to not say the wrong words!"

Oscar rolled his eyes. How come the liars always said the same thing? Murat was the same as this old marquis. The young man let out a soft sigh, he knew that if things kept going in this direction, sooner or later he would naturally get used to all of this lies and deceptions.

The door to the carriage of Italian royal family was opened by the guard of honor.

A bright smile was immediately put on the young man’s face. "Guests from the faraway land of Italia Manuel Dynasty! The Imperial Highness Prince O’Neil Andrew Morisette of Titan Empire welcomes your arrival on behalf of the country, Emperor Alfa III His Majesty of Titan Empire would also like to send sincere regards to all our honorable guests."

***************

"Kill! Kill them all!" A wounded soldier on the caravan shouted at the kneeling captives.

Commander-in-chief brigadier Silvio’s Second Army of District Eight had completed the mission. They captured the captives and commenced the cruel torture and massacre.

Just as Silvio had ordered, the Horfansted Fortress was burning in flames. The Mountain soldiers cut down some thick and strong trees and piled them at the bottom of the wall of the fortress. After the bricks and mortar burned until they turned into a pile of soft soil, the whole fortress had fallen and sunken into the earth followed by a loud thump. The Mountain soldiers were satisfied with this masterpiece.

Some leftover enemy soldiers tried fleeing to the mountain in the south, but Silvio had ordered the Cavalry from Third Division to continue the chase. Since the massacre had already begun, there was no point in showing mercy, hence not even a single one of them was spared.

The Italian Captives were gathered in the mountain slope facing the north wall of the fortress, which was exactly where the Second Army had originally begun their attack. These poor soldiers who had their hands tied behind their back begged desperately to be spared. They tried their luck at every Titan soldier that walked passed by, but their effort was either returned with a smooth cut at the neck or a spit in the face.

"Save some energy, you stupid pigs! My Captain and Regimental Commander died because of you! And all of you are going down with them!" A young soldier kicked a fellow who was desperately holding on at his thigh so hard, that the man fell and tumbled over to the ground.

"Brothers of the First Division! Take your time and torture them slowly!" The soldiers watching the spectacle reminded loudly. "Pick the specially sharpened knives! Think of your Regimental Commander!"

"Don’t worry! We know what we’re doing!"

The soldiers of First Division who were assigned to clear up the captives thoroughly were only left with one Group in their division. Blood was shed, and the fear had gone by. What remained of them was nothing but pure revenge and hatred!

The fellow in front looked exactly like the one who had taken their division commander’s life! In a split second, his dirty blood splashed in the air like a waterfall! And this one over here, he resembled the one who killed regimental commander! He was tortured slowly and steadily, the knife ground on his neck as if he was a mill machine.

The peaceful mountain slope was once the ultimate destination for tourists to get soaked under the summer sun, but now it had been turned into a living hell, in fact, the deepest and scariest level of hell! The contorted faces of victims stood out especially under the rays of the natural, golden sun. Knives were held up high and swung down hard one over and over again. Numerous limbs fell to the ground, and a pile of heads rolled off the slope and dived into the city moat.

The dead bodies of the enemies left there on the battlefield were none of their concerns. They were busy eliminating the ones who were still alive, "Kill them!", "Kill them!", "If it weren’t for them, we would not have to endure all this pain!"

The murderers held on to the simple mindset of a murderous beast. By now, one party was already tired of killing, while the other lied still on the ground could not even budge an inch. Smiles appeared on the face of Titan soldiers. They kept on cursing as they swung their knives.

The animal instincts of the Imperial Guards were triggered, and they were agitated and exploded at once. What was unforgivable was that they had chosen the most insufferably tormenting method of killing.

"You! You! and You!" An officer shouted loudly. "Enjoying the excitement huh! Hurry up! We want to leave this place as soon as possible! Go on! One on one! Quick!"

The Mountain soldiers who had surrounded to watch rushed into action, they had been hoping to take part for long. By now, the captives had already given up on begging for their lives; they kneeled on the ground, continuously praying in silent while their body shook uncontrollably. The words of prayer which came rolling out from their tongues were not unfamiliar to the Titans’ ears. "Redemption? Redemption?" How could they mention the almighty God of Light at this moment?

The soldiers who were in the midst of brutal massacre suddenly paused mid-action. What were they doing? Would God forgive themselves? They glanced over at the boots that were smeared with fresh, crimson-red blood, and looked backward at the piles of lifeless bodies out of which they had taken the lives, and realized something. The God would never forgive them, neither would the enemies!

Suddenly, killing did not seem like a fun activity anymore. What replaced the initial excitement was an abrupt surge of deep fear! The Titans soldiers swung quickly at their knives and spears. Since they would already be forgiven by the God, they might as well take yet another life! After all only one could survive between them and their enemies.

What was war? It was not some simple theory to which mankind had come to a conclusion. It was a box filled with some inexplicable black magic which would take away the life of whoever that touched it, and now, it had been opened!

***************

"I could feel my own eyes blinded by this!" Imperial Highness Prince O’Neil Andrew Morisette gasped in admiration as he wondered at the beauty of this impeccable jewelry.

Prince Teodoro Manuel pushed the exquisitely-made jewelry and its equally beautiful box next to Oscar’s hand, "Your Highness, this small token was insignificant when compared to the wound that had been caused upon you. It was specially selected for you by my mother. Hopefully, you would like it."

Oscar laughed slyly, and he noticed the old minister of foreign affairs nodded his way. "Since it was handpicked by Her Majesty the Queen… then I would humbly receive this gift."

The young man received the gift box and pushed it slightly to the side, and his servant Baron Erbe respectfully took it over.

"Your Highness, is the Princess not feeling well? She looks rather pale." Oscar asked gently.

Prince Teodoro suddenly cast a stern look toward his own sister. Even with much reluctance, the princess was forced to speak.

"Thanks for your concern, Imperial Highness Prince, but I’m not unwell. It was just that we’ve received an unfortunate piece of news this morning on our way here." Princess Caro Arsia Manuel replied sarcastically. She felt his brother nudging her on the arm.

"Is that so?" Oscar naturally knew what was it about. He leaned his back against the sofa comfortably, waiting for the old liar to say his lines.

"Your Highness Princess, perhaps I know what piece of news you are talking about," Titan Empire’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Marquis Dimitri Lemus said in a low voice.

"Then, can I confirm with you if that piece of news is indeed real?" Princess Caro Arsia tried hard to suppress her building anger.

"Of course. On this morning, the Titan Empire’s Imperial Army Southern Army Group has attacked a military target of your country; simultaneously, Titan Empire’s East Border Governor Duke Andrew’s personal armed forces have intruded your country’s border."

"So… could you… could you explain to me the reason behind all these actions?" Princess Caro Arsia’s fingers became pale white as she pressed them hard against the table.

"Your Highness…" The old man Dimitri Lemus let out a deep, sorrowful sigh, "I personally think that the Kingdom of Italia is the confidant of us Titan, but apparently, our Imperial Army does not think the same. I sincerely hope that after accompanying two Royal Highnesses in presenting ourselves before the Emperor, we could come to a solution that would dissolve dispute perfectly."

Caro Arsia was too enraged to say another word.

"Oh, right!" Oscar’s loud voice broke the tense atmosphere in the room, "Your Highness Prince, it has not come to my knowledge that your country produces diamonds. So, if I may ask, had this massive bright diamond gifted to me by Her Majesty the Queen come from overseas?"

"Oh… yes!" Prince Teodoro Manuel did not appear to care much about the attack of Titans, "Do you know, it was produced in the distant land of Feru, and had traveled miles and miles across the sea to arrive at my country."

"That’s so enviable! The sea! Oh! You would never imagine, I’ve still not had the chance to witness the beauty of the vast, blue sea!" Oscar extended his heartfelt admiration.

"Haha, it’s understandable seeing as you live in the inland city. However, please, believe me, once you have encountered the boundless, deep blue ocean, you would never want to leave the place." Prince Teodoro’s eyes lightened up at the mentioning of the ocean. He had a deep, fond interest in the ocean. It was not because his kingdom had thrived due to that, but simply because the man’s own broad mind prompted him to love the sea.

"Wow! I truly, truly yearn to witness its beauty with my own eyes!" Oscar was carried away in his own fantasy.

"Of course, I would inform my father about your wish, and hopefully you would be able to visit Roman soon and be our guest." Prince Teodoro was extremely enthusiastic.

"Is this an official invitation?" Oscar was already beginning to imagine this amazing journey.

"Of course!" Princess Caro Arsia replied before the Prince could even open his mouth, "Unlike some Emperor in the world, the Manuel Royal Family had never ever breached a promise. Moreover, Your Highness, you have such a terrible memory. Do you not remember that your Narcissus Knights of the Andrew family are already making themselves our ‘guests’ in my country?"

"Caro Arsia!" Prince Teodoro suddenly shouted fiercely at his sister, "Get out!"

The Princess stared at her infuriated brother, glanced over toward the resting Minister of Foreign Affairs, before finally landing her firm gaze at the startled Prince, "I will leave! But I want to make sure that the Morisette Imperial Family is aware of my presence, the one person in Manuel Royal Family that will never surrender," She turned around and faced her own brother, "Forever!"

"I’m so, so sorry!" Prince Teodoro had perspired from head to toe. His sister had openly and shameless criticized the Titan Imperial Family, this would cause an extremely severe consequence toward this foreign exchange.

"No!" Oscar returned his gaze from the door back to the Prince. He admired this Princess’s courage dearly. "No, Your Highness Prince, I am the one who should be apologizing."

Marquis Minister of Foreign Affairs Marquis Dimitri Lemus shot his eyes open at the words of the Prince, this line was not written in the script!

"I could only express my deepest apology regarding the misunderstanding that has happened between our countries, but just as the Princess has said earlier, Royal Family Manuel does not have to relent, because you are not the one at fault. In fact, what we should do now is to cooperate together to root out the chief culprit that has brought Titan and his confidant country Italia into the war."

Prince Teodoro was a little taken aback. He would never have thought that someone was actually honest enough to speak the truth.

"Your Highness Prince," Oscar suddenly stood up, "Go comfort your sister, I know you’re actually proud of her, and you should! I think this meeting should end here. Let your sister know that she has earned respect and honor for the Kingdom of Italia!"

"Your Imperial Highness Prince…" Prince Teodoro was flabbergasted, not knowing how to respond.

Only the old marquis and the young prince remained in the empty meeting room. The latter was examining his impeccably beautiful gift while the former frowned and counted the number of his medications.

"Your Highness, it seems like you have not understood the gist of the script."

"Your Excellency Marquis, even though I’m not as experienced as you, but I am certain about my own actions. I just didn’t want to continue playing our little game anymore!"

"You think this is only just a game?"

"Exactly!" Oscar straightened his body, "This is only a game, and even though I’ve changed the method of playing, it does not mean that it would do us any harm. Our army is still attacking, and the Italians are still at the end of our tether. I have just pointed out a hint for the Prince, and that was it."

Actually, the old marquis was not bothered by it anyway. On the contrary, the young Prince’s words would, in turn, leave a positive impact on the opposite party. He would realize that Morisette Imperial Family was not an unreasonable bunch.

"So, the script that follows…"

"That would be your concern!" Oscar kept the diamond back in its box. He could not wait to amaze Sasha and Annie with it.

"But…but you are the Imperial Envoy."

"Yes, I am the Imperial Envoy. Even though I would still accompany the royal guests to Dulin, that doesn’t mean that I would play your little script game anymore!"

"Uh… anything that suits you." the old marquis was quick to give up. He knew he could not order a Prince.

"Marquis Lemus, cheer up, at least our first cooperation is successful!" the young man said to the marquis. "War is a form of violence that forces the enemy to obey our will… Easy!" the young prince whispered softly to himself as he walked away happily, leaving the old marquis all by himself.

******************

War... War was a form of violence that forced the enemy to obey our will.

The twenty-nine soldiers in Horfansted Fortress that managed to escape from death clearly understood this definition, as they were forced to obey the orders from their enemy. The intruders had asked them to collect and throw in all the dead bodies of their comrades into the fortress which was burning like a massive furnace. Obey! Obey! Standing in front of fear and bloody massacre, their will collapsed, their fighting spirit dissipated. Even their minds were losing their ability to think!

The twenty-nine survivors moved like machinery as they threw in the dead bodies one by one in a uniform manner. Titan soldiers assigned to guard over the captives could not take the stench and covered their nose with either hands or handkerchiefs. They were amazed by the captives who did not seem to be bothered at all by the disgusting stench.

A Mountain officer signaled to his men, and arrows were replaced on the empty bows. In the end, the survivors of the massacre still could not escape from the fate of death. Perhaps it was for the better. They were free, at last.

However, the war was still going on.

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