Chapter 446.1: Revealed Thoughts (1)
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Little Tyrant Doesn't Want to Meet with a Bad End Chapter 446.1: Revealed Thoughts (1)

‘A soldier will face no lack of victories and defeats in his lifetime.’

Roel could deeply relate to that quote after having fought in many battles himself, but he personally believed that there were also differences within victories and defeats themselves.

An individual’s defeat could result in severe injuries or possibly death. Losing a war could cost soldiers their lives and a country their contested interests. These were heavy prices to pay, but they were still tolerable from the perspective of the country.

However, the same couldn’t be said about the Saint Mesit Theocracy’s current internal war.

Losing over a hundred thousand elite soldiers was a price too great for even the powerful Theocracy to bear. The internal war waged by the Xeclydes against the Elrics was no different from a gamble. If they could crush the Elrics, the Xeclydes would gain unrivaled authority within the Theocracy, which would allow them to build the country anew. The rebuilt Theocracy would be stronger than ever with the cancerous tumors removed.

However, that was only if the Theocracy didn’t weaken too much from the internal war.

That was why Roel felt his heart clench when he heard that the second siege on Edgar City had failed. Sieges usually led to the highest number of casualties. If the Xeclydes and the Ascarts were to suffer heavy losses in their attack, the tides could change in the Elrics’ favor.

He quickly tore the war report envelope open and browsed through it. What he read eased his heart a little.

There was no exact death toll stated on the war report, but the details suggested that the second siege was more of a probe rather than an all-out fight. Thanks to that, the morale of the soldiers wasn’t crushed.

To be frank, Roel was perplexed after reading the war report. He had played military chess with Carter dozens of times by now, and it gave him insights into Carter’s style of command.

Under normal circumstances, Carter would first conduct a probing attack before launching an all-out assault. It was unlike him to drag things out for too long since the purpose of the probing attack was to gather enemy intelligence. The closer the attack, the more accurate the enemy intelligence was.

There was no reason for Carter to hold a second probing attack, not to mention that it was to the Theocracy’s detriment to drag things out.

The goal of the internal war was to quickly remove the greatest internal threat in the Theocracy so that the country could start recuperating from its losses. This was the only way for the Theocracy to regain its past strength.

Even though things looked peaceful at the moment, there were countless powers closely watching the development of the internal war. If the Xeclydes couldn’t quell the Elrics with convincing force, the other landed nobles might lose confidence in the royal family’s strength. Under such circumstances, they might choose to keep their troops to themselves in order to protect their interests.

Thus, it was weird how the frontline had chosen to probe the Elrics’ forces a second time.

“Milord, did something happen at the frontline?”

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“… Not yet. You should have a look at the report too.”

Perhaps due to Roel’s grave expression, Cynthia, Rodney, and Wood walked over and enquired about the situation at the frontline. To avoid spreading unnecessary fear, Roel passed them the war report so that they could look through it themselves. The three of them quickly browsed through the war report, but they were unable to come to any meaningful conclusion.

There was insufficient information for them to work with.

Fortunately, this quandary didn’t last too long. That very night, they received yet another report from the frontline. Something immediately caught Roel’s attention, and it enlightened him to his father’s thoughts.

When the Theocracy was launching its second assault against Edgar City, the Austine Empire started mobilizing its troops too. Some of the Sezes’ soldiers even crossed the borders to enter the Elric Fiefdom. But upon realizing that it was just another probe, they quickly retreated back into the borders of the Austine Empire.

With that, Carter’s intention became clear.

The second probe served not to probe the Elrics but the Austine Empire. Just as they had expected, the Austine Empire was up to something.

Roel was initially confused by the Austine Empire’s reaction. In his view, it was to humankind’s benefit for the Theocracy to quickly conclude its internal war and reinforce the eastern border. However, when he thought about the Austine Empire’s history, he could somewhat understand the rationale behind their actions.

It was simply a matter of influence.

History was often a reflection of the present. Roel swiftly realized that similar conflicts had broken out in the previous war against the deviants as well, and their goal back then was to become the leader of humankind in the Holy War.

The current Sia Continent had a few large countries and many smaller ones. Each of them had different geographical conditions and cultures; some of them even harbored grudges against each other.

Despite this, humankind had been able to overcome their differences and unite against the deviants for the past millennium thanks to the leadership of the Genesis Goddess Church. Through the name of Goddess Sia, the church had always succeeded in rallying all of the countries together to overcome major threats.

There was no doubt that the church had played a crucial role in the continuance of humankind’s lineage, but the growth of the church naturally spelled an expansion in the Theocracy’s sphere of influence, especially as more believers in the Genesis Goddess Church emerged in the population.

In fact, there would be a huge increase in the number of people subscribing to the beliefs of the Genesis Goddess Church after each Holy War, granting the Theocracy consecutive decades of power and prosperity.

There was no way the Austine Empire would be happy with that.

In the current Sia Continent, Country of Scholars Brolne had dedicated itself to education whereas the Rosa Merchant Confederacy devoted itself to commerce; neither of them had the interest or ability to become the leader of humankind. Knight Kingdom Pendor was fairly powerful in its own right, but its isolationist policies excluded it from global politics.

In other words, the only one standing in the Austine Empire’s path was the Theocracy. With the Theocracy currently at its weakest state ever, it was a good opportunity for the Austine Empire to further undermine the Theocracy so as to utterly eliminate any possibility of it becoming the leader of humankind.

Being the leader of humankind during a time of crisis granted a country massive power. Using an analogy, it was similar to a government declaring a state of emergency in Roel’s previous life. For the continuance of humankind, the leader would be granted far-reaching powers to do what was necessary.

This granted the Austine Empire a chance to rally the whole of humankind under its flag so as to reinforce its position. It could also attempt to remove the culture of theocentrism on the Sia Continent, thus diminishing the influence and authority of the Genesis Goddess Church.

The Austine Empire would be stronger than ever if they managed to pull it off. It would lay the foundation for them to unite all humans and bring back the glorious days of the Ancient Austine Empire. That was likely the greatest wish of the Ackermanns across the generations.

As for the deviants, there was no denying that they did pose a real threat, but the Austine Empire was willing to overlook it for the sake of accomplishing their ultimate ambition. Humankind had survived the aggression of the deviants numerous times over the years, so they probably thought that it would be the same this time around.

Alternatively, it was also possible that the Ackermanns possessed some kind of means that made them confident in overcoming the threat of the deviants.

“This complicates things.”

In a tent, Roel stared at the reports in his hands and let out a deep sigh.

With the Austine Empire baring its fangs, Carter wouldn’t be able to decisively deal with the Elrics. To make things worse, the interference of the Sezes meant that Holy Eminence John would have to back off from the battlefield.

The initial plan was for Holy Eminence John to make a move at this stage so that they could decisively take down the Elrics’ final stronghold. As sturdy as Edgar City was, it wouldn’t last long against an Origin Level 1 transcendent.

However, the interference of the Sezes changed the nature of things.

The Sezes were interfering in the Theocracy’s internal war under the ground of their in-laws' relationship with the Elrics, though those well-versed in politics could tell that this was a load of nonsense. Holy Eminence John would have been justified to step in and strike down the Sezes for their insolence in daring to dispatch their army on the Theocracy’s soil.

But the problem had never been whether Holy Eminence John was justified to act but the Austine Empire’s reaction.

There were two ways to look at the Sezes’ interference in the internal war.

If Holy Eminence John chose to turn a blind eye to it, the Sezes could simply be thought to be lending a helping hand to their extended family in a war between nobles.

However, if he chose to step in, the matter would immediately escalate to a conflict between countries, for, not only was he the patriarch of the Xeclyde House, Holy Eminence John also represented the Theocracy and the Genesis Goddess Church.

By then, the Austine Empire would claim that the Theocracy was bullying their nobles and use it as an excuse to mobilize their troops against them. It would have been a controversial move, but the Austine Empire could alleviate some of the pressure by insisting that it was Holy Eminence John who had first made a move on the Sezes, and that they were just protecting one of their own.

Granted, there were many flaws with that line of reasoning. However, a behemoth like the Austine Empire wouldn’t be fazed by something as inconsequential as international censure. They had so much to gain from this matter that it wouldn’t mind drawing the hostility of other countries to achieve its goals, as long as it was still within reasonable grounds.

“Whether it is to bait Holy Eminence John into making a move so as to trigger an all-out war, or to stall time and ensure that Edgar City held its ground in order to eliminate any possibility of the Theocracy making a comeback after the huge blow it suffered at Tark Stronghold… It looks like the Austine Empire has pretty much cornered us.”

Roel let out yet another deep sigh.

Behind him, Rodney and the others glanced at each other, not knowing what to do about the situation either. It was precisely due to the lack of a clear solution out of this quandary that the Austine Empire wasn’t bothering to hide its intention at all.

The only way to break this deadlock was for the Ascarts and the Xeclydes to take down Edgar City despite interference from the Seze Ducal House, something they would have to accomplish before spring.

It was just that it was easier said than done, even for someone of Carter’s capability.

However, by a stroke of luck, Roel had personally cracked a hole in this quandary that they were in, granting them a ray of hope amidst darkness—Bryan’s death.

The loss of their patriarch was a huge blow to the Elrics, such that the difficulty of sieging Edgar City had been greatly lowered. That was probably not within the expectations of the Austine Empire. Even in a direct confrontation, Carter’s army should be able to take down Edgar City.

The only problem here was the Sezes.

“I’ll need more intelligence,” murmured Roel.

He stared at the massive territory by the borders of the Austine Empire, the Seze Dukedom, with wintry eyes.

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