Chapter 439: The Decisive Battle
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Little Tyrant Doesn't Want to Meet with a Bad End Chapter 439: The Decisive Battle

How long had it been since the Saint Mesit Theocracy last faced an internal war?

That was a question that Roel was surprisingly qualified to answer, considering he had been through the last one in person. He just thought that it was rather weird how history seemed to be repeating itself after two hundred years.

The parties at war with each other were still the same: the Elrics, the Ascarts, and the Xeclydes. Though, in a slight difference, the one waging the war this time around was his side.

Indeed, the Ascarts and the Xeclydes had decided to go on the offensive.

What was shocking about this was that Holy Eminence John seemed to have made this decision as soon as the mishap befell Tark Stronghold.

Bryan, the patriarch of the Elric House, was still alive and kicking then.

It probably never crossed Bryan’s mind that the Xeclydes and the Ascarts would wage war on him even though he hadn’t done anything at all, or he wouldn’t have dared personally journey eastward to deal with Roel and Nora.

It was so abrupt that both Roel and Nora were dumbfounded when they heard the news. It didn’t sound like a rational decision at first glance, since the Theocracy should have dispatched its military forces to reinforce the eastern border instead of waging an internal war at this critical moment.

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But after careful contemplation, the two of them soon realized that it was the best decision they could have made given the current circumstances.

Looking at it from Holy Eminence John’s perspective, the downfall of Tark Stronghold meant that both the plights of Prince Kane and Nora had become uncertain. If he were to send troops to reinforce Tark Stronghold at a time like this, he would be falling into Bryan’s trap.

Stationing military troops at the eastern border would severely weaken the Royal Faction, which, in turn, reinforced the Elrics’ position in the Theocracy.

However, if they were to go against all odds and launch a surprise ambush on the Elrics at a time like this, there was a good chance that they could catch the Elrics off guard and inflict a crushing blow upon them. At the same time, it would tie Bryan down, forcing him to abort any schemes he was harboring against Nora.

It was just a pity that the evil cults possessed means that Holy Eminence John was oblivious to. Bryan had known about the disaster that would befall Tark Stronghold in advance, which allowed him to journey to the eastern border beforehand. As a result, Roel and the others still ended up meeting with danger.

“But how could grandfather be sure the deviants wouldn’t make a move? If the deviants were to launch an invasion during this time…”

“He probably received reports from Tark Stronghold. You had to venture deep into Tark Prairie due to your bloodline, so Prince Kane and the others would have scouted out the area beforehand to ensure that there weren’t any major threats around.”

“I see,” replied Nora with a nod.

Roel was surprised by the sharp military acuity displayed by Holy Eminence John, but at the same time, he was amazed by his own father’s decisiveness in going along with the plan.

The decision might have appeared theoretically sound, but it would have taken a great deal of courage to follow through with it. Both Holy Eminence John and Marquess Carter must have faced tremendous opposition from their respective retainers for waging an internal war at this crucial juncture instead of reinforcing Tark Stronghold.

If there was a miscalculation in their judgment and the deviants successfully breached Tark Stronghold in the meantime, the two of them would have become the sinners of humankind. The implications of that were far too great for anyone to bear.

Even if the deviants didn’t strike, they would still have to quickly resolve the internal war and dispatch their troops to the eastern border or the other nobles and countries would start exerting pressure on them. Rumors could spread that the Xeclydes and the Ascarts prioritized their little political squabble over the fate of humankind, and that would cause people to lose faith in them.

It was truly fortunate that Bryan and the core members of the Connoisseur Guild had died in Tark Prairie. Even the Xeclydes and the Ascarts would have found it hard to quickly suppress with the powerful Elrics and the evil cultists under their command.

Roel’s victory in Tark Prairie ended up playing a vital role in the Theocracy’s internal war. Without Bryan’s strong leadership, the Elrics would have trouble rallying its vast network of connections to fend against the Xeclydes and the Ascarts, thus greatly lowering the threat they posed.

The outbreak of the internal war also meant that Roel and Nora had to return to the Theocracy as soon as possible. They had in their possession invaluable assets needed by the Xeclydes and the Ascarts to claim the moral high ground and bring public sentiments regarding the internal war to their side—Bryan and the evil cultists’ corpses.

Even so, both Roel and Nora decided to stay in the makeshift fortress for a few more days.

During this period of time, Roel tapped into Peytra’s authority to make significant enhancements to the fortress’ defenses. He further increased the height of the fortress’ walls and reinforced their sturdiness.

As important as the internal war was, they couldn’t neglect Tark Stronghold either.

While the deviants weren’t fools, they weren’t too intelligent either. It should be possible to intimidate the deviants as long as the fortress walls were high enough. For that, Roel had tried to imitate the previous design of Tark Stronghold, but the lack of a detailed blueprint meant that he could only do it based on what he remembered.

It was his first time manipulating earth and wood, so he made quite a few mistakes along the way. Nevertheless, he was still able to make fast progress with the help of the Primordial Earth Goddess.

Roel’s ability to instantaneously construct strategic military infrastructure astounded the soldiers, and he himself also realized how powerful this ability could be in times of war.

Meanwhile, Nora was busy dealing with all sorts of administrative matters, especially the affirmation of alliance with the countries who had sent reinforcement over and temporary defense collaboration agreements.

To facilitate this military collaboration, she had established a new frontline command center. It was necessary to create a chain of command because the armies dispatched by the other countries had different loyalties even though they shared the common goal of protecting Tark Stronghold. Without a clear command chain, it would be hard for anyone to take command unless they were a highly authoritative figure like Nora.

Count Hanks was assigned the supervisor of the frontline command center, which gave him the right to veto any decision that he deemed detrimental to humankind.

Of course, these were all stopgap measures.

The goal was to keep Tark Stronghold afloat until the resolution of the Theocracy’s internal war. By then, the Xeclydes would be able to take over the defense of Tark Stronghold and the reinforcement armies from the other countries would be able to return to their original positions.

Roel and Nora made sure that everything was in order before they began making their way back to the Theocracy together with the heretics and the inquisitors.

It was already mid-winter, and the deterioration of weather conditions made the journey much harder. For one, the group struggled to find their way around due to the buildup of snow, thus greatly reducing their traveling speed.

Also, it could just have been Roel thinking too much, but he had a feeling that the deviants roaming the mountain range had become much more violent than before.

Under the moonlight, Roel stared at the carcasses of deviants and Grayfang Wolves and fell into deep thought. Soldiers were rushing about around him, making their final preparations before the resumption of their journey.

Nora walked over to his side and traced his gaze to where countless carcasses were lying. The gruesome sight hardly fazed her—how could it when she had already grown accustomed to witnessing mountains of carcasses during her time in Tark Prairie?

“What are you looking at? It’s freezing out here. Don’t catch a cold.”

“… You’re taking me for a frail little child,” replied Roel with a helpless tone.

Nora had been treating him like a sickly patient ever since he had caught a cold. He would usually go along with her advice to allay her worries, but there was something he wanted to check this time around. He approached the carcasses and carefully examined them before inquiring about the details of the battle.

What he saw and heard brought a grim look to his face.

“Nora, you have killed many deviants during your time in Tark Prairie. Have you noticed anything different about the deviants we have encountered recently?”

“Different?”

“Yes. Do the deviants you usually encounter just charge out like that, not bothering to prepare an ambush or set up traps at all? I might just be thinking too much into it, but I feel like they’re in a crazed state.”

“Ah… I can’t really tell the difference, to be honest,” replied Nora awkwardly.

Even though she had slain many deviants in her time, the overwhelming prowess of her angelic power allowed her to one-sidedly crush her opponents, such that any tactics displayed by the deviants hardly registered to her at all. Besides, she was too overwhelmed by her divine instinct back then to pay too much attention to such details.

“But regarding what you have just said, it could also be due to the change in seasons. The freezing weather and starvation might have caused a difference in their mental state.”

“… I guess so.”

Roel nodded contemplatively in response to Nora’s alternative answer, but he was still unable to shake the lingering doubts out of his mind.

Indeed, the freezing weather and starvation could drive the deviants into a berserk state, but that shouldn’t have much to do with them attacking humans in a frenzy.

While there were fewer beasts roaming around the forest during winter time, they were usually much easier to subdue compared to humans, making them the better targets. Not to mention, they could also use the fur acquired from these beasts to keep warm.

It should have been common sense to the deviants, who lived in the wilderness.

Doubts persistently lingered in Roel’s mind and refused to disperse. He had a vague feeling that there was something influencing the deviants’ behavior. He didn’t know what it was, but his intuition told him that it didn’t bode well for the human race.

They torched the carcasses and reduced them to ashes before resuming their journey. Soon, they finally managed to make their way out of the prairie and into the forest.

Watching as the trees slowly shrouded Tark Prairie, Nora felt a flood of emotions that she could hardly make sense of; it was just overwhelming. Her time in Tark Prairie wasn’t long, but it had left far too many memories with her. Be it joyful or sorrowful, they were imprinted in the depth of her heart, never to be forgotten.

As for Roel, Tark Prairie was a place where he resolved a centuries-old grudge, only to stumble upon yet another trove of mysteries.

However, there was one thing Roel and Nora could fully agree on: Everything had changed.

The sudden tides of change had crashed into their peaceful lives, threatening to devour them whole. A new era was starting to reveal itself, forcing everyone to desperately run with all their might in hopes of keeping up with the times.

The carriage continued to throttle on, and the vast prairie finally disappeared amidst the trees, taking away Roel’s deep musing with it. His gaze lingered behind for a moment longer before he quietly turned his head forward, resolving not to look back anymore.

Novel Notes

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