Chapter 541: Mozadier Incident




Translator: Nat

Military Commissioner Erich Radhalde Territory – Near Mozadier Village.

An arrow slices through the air.
It seems like the arrow was in line to hit its target, but it grazes a pointed ear by a slim margin and lands on the ground.

「Kuh, I thought that was going to hit, how frustrating! This tiny fox is pretty tough.」

「Haha, even Lord Mottel who has killed ten enemies on the battlefield appears to be out of his element against a fox. Why don’t you let me……」

Another man circles around the scampering fox’s path and takes aim with his crossbow.

However, the fox wisely sprints in a zigzag pattern and doesn’t let him pull the trigger.

The little furball jumps into a thicket in the nick of time.

A groan and a dejected sigh follows the disappearance of the animal.

「Mmm, it ran away. There’s my bad habit of being too cautious. I can’t hit anything if I don’t shoot.」

「It’s impossible to find that thing once it gets in the bushes. Let’s wait for another one.」

「Well, I can’t exactly stick out my chest proudly knowing it took several grown men to catch a baby fox anyways. I hope something bigger comes next.」

The event being held in Erich’s territory is a hunting party, but its main purpose is not actually the hunting of game, it is an activity for people to socialize. Of course, the only ones invited were new nobles and their retinue.

Reading the intentions of their lord on horseback, the followers on foot poke at bushes and run through trees, searching for prey.

「Make lots of noise. With all these brave men here, I don’t mind if you attract something strange.」

「I’d prefer it if a giant bear showed up. We’re not soft like the nobles in the royal court.」

Even in the well-governed territory of Erich, a foray into the woods could draw out bears, wolves, goblins, and other monsters. But the new nobles, who had risen through the ranks of military service, had no fear.

Most of the members present have earned their positions by fighting in battle with swords and spears, and if they encountered a bear or an orc they would definitely be courageous enough to pull out their weapons before screaming.

The men waited with bated breath, but no matter how much of a ruckus the followers caused, nothing came out from the left or right.
That left them with free time to gossip.

「Ahem, let me deliberately ask something hard to ask. I heard Lord Mottel had a war of words with Hardlett-dono. Um……did you add your name to the list of traditional nobles……?」

「Umu. I’m not doubting Hardlett-dono’s military prowess, but what he did at Richemott was too selfish. I gave him honest but harsh advice――that not only is he harming the new nobles, he is harming Goldonia as a whole. Lord Radhalde then asked me about my relationship with the traditional nobles, but I made him understand that I have no other intentions and that I’m not backing down for the sake of the ruling structure!」

His loud commanding tone also prompted those around him to talk about Hardlett.

「Hardlett-dono’s military prowess is certainly unparalleled……but lately he is becoming a little……too arrogant.」

「The letter of recommendation that was shown to me when Malt passed through my territory was as intimidating as a debt collector’s. ……well, an apology gift was sent to say it was a mistake though.」

If it was Kenneth or the traditional nobles, they can bad-mouth with a voice that reaches the heavens, but the subject of their current gossip is different, thus they speak softer and with a slight reluctance.

「Onigmes-dono, I heard you invited Hardlett-dono to a martial arts tournament in your territory. You said that it’d be bad if his body dulled during the post-war peace, right? After all, there was a rumor that he lost to an inexperienced man in Richemott.」

「Ha, haha……that’s correct. It’s not like I was thinking, “Is it possible he’s not actually strong? If I defeat him in a tournament, will I suddenly gain favor with the Military Commissioner?” I was simply doing it for Hardlett-sono’s sake.」

The other person can’t read the clues given by Onigmes’ stammering and continues pressing.

「By the way Onigmes-dono, why are you not carrying a bow or riding a horse and just observing?」

「It’s not because I dislocated my shoulder and broke six ribs ten seconds after the match started, and am wrapped like a mummy under my clothes, I have a stomach ache.」

A few objecting individuals emerge among the whispering.

「Regardless of a small argument here or there, if it wasn’t for Margrave Hardlett’s valor, us new nobles wouldn’t be where we are now――」

「He also played a big role in establishing the current hegemony of Goldonia――」

「Our debt would also have skyrocketed again if not for him!」

Monashi, Binbo, and Gokhin raise their voices in defense of Hardlett.
As new nobles in the vicinity, they were naturally invited too.

「O-obviously, I do not deny Lord Hardlett’s achievements. And his current standing is well-deserved, I just wish that he would be less rough around the edges. By the way Gokhin-dono, why have you removed only the back part of your armor?」

「U-umu. I am by no means trying to bring Lord Hardlett down. I simply want him to at least talk to us before making a decision. By the way Binbo-dono, has the poisonous water stopped leaking on your fields? I heard forty percent of your arable land has been ruined.」

「Pardon me for being rude Monashi-dono, but the date of your loan repayment is today. You’ve already deferred it three times. If you can’t pay, I will be taking the mansion you mortgaged.」

After the three of them spoke up, the criticism that had been going on in a reserved manner came to a halt and the topic of conversation shifted to the hardships they were facing in managing their respective territories and paying off their debts.

At that moment, a high-pitched scream can be heard from the woods.

「I guess they found something. Judging by the scream, it’s something big, maybe even a monster.」

「I don’t know whose follower he is, but screaming in the face of a beast is rather pathetic. He needs to be scolded.」

Bushes rustle as the thing moves in the depths of the woods, and the men on horseback wait with their eyes sparkling in anticipation and their bows at the ready.

「This sound, it doesn’t sound like one or two.」

「I wonder if they ran into a pack of wolves or a bunch of goblins. Interesting, it gets boring shooting at creatures that don’t attack back.」

The sound of something squirming stops when it reaches the thicket separating the forest with the plains.

「……it stopped. What are the followers doing? Can’t they drive out the prey already?」

「Stopping barely before being in our view, this reminds me of the time we were ambushed in the battle with South Yuguria――」

A dry twang shook the air.
It was the sound of dozens of bowstrings being released simultaneously.

At the exact same time, a volley of crossbow bolts shot out and pierced the nobles on horseback and the followers beside them.

「It can’t be……」

The accuracy of a crossbow aimed at close range is extremely high, and they easily penetrate the lightweight leather armor used for hunting.

Those hit in the chest or head by the bolts drop off their horses like flies and the followers join their lords on the ground before they can help.


「Crossbows! Lots of them!」

「Mottel-dono and Onigmes-dono are like porcupines!!」

The yells resound, causing the horses to rear.

Those expecting wolves or goblins were hit by a furious barrage and a significant number of them fell.
If the hunting party consisted of traditional nobles, their first instinct would be to scatter.

「If you’re injured, dismount and fall back!」

「If you aren’t hurt, draw your swords and line up! Don’t dawdle!」

However, the new nobles who have ridden through countless battles and gained fame in war were different.
Once they saw the attack was by crossbows, the uninjured nobles arranged their horses in a line and ran into the bushes.

「Crossbows are slow to reload. If we rush in quickly, they can’t shoot a second volley!」

If they pull back and wait for reinforcements, the ones wounded by the first volley will be killed.
Then the best move is to charge in; if the distance is closed, it should be easy to rout the crossbowmen while they are reloading.


The new nobles leave their followers behind and run forward.

If it was wartime and this was the battlefield, this choice would not be made.
That’s because it is too dangerous to charge at the enemy without full knowledge of their forces.

But war has since ended and this is Erich’s territory, which has maintained a long period of stability.
It was natural to assume that these outsiders, who somehow got hold of information on the hunting party, hid in the bush for a spur-of-the-moment surprise attack.

That assumption was wrong.

「Anti-cavalry. Intercept.」

Another group emerges from the bushes holding black spears.
More than ten spears unwaveringly and neatly line up without any gaps.


The first rider leading the charge is impaled along with his horse, and the ones trailing are stopped in their tracks by the protruding tips.

A cavalry’s speed and mass can easily send even a heavy infantry flying.
But if a disciplined and well-trained spear line is formed, half-naked infantry can fend off the cavalry.

「Push out.」

The spearmen march in lockstep in compliance with the muffled command.
Seeing the approaching sharp spearheads, the horses step backward on their own.

「N-not good! Stopping is――」

There was no time to shout the entire sentence.
Crossbows, which have finished reloading, are fired at close range.

More people fell this time compared to the first attack, and almost all of them died instantly.

「Move――! Distance yourselves――!!」

Those who could still move at this point retreat.

「Impossible……anti-cavalry formation with crossbows and long spears!? Is this a battlefield!?」

「Not even flinching at the sight of charging cavalry means that they’re no ordinary outsiders. They must be an army of some kind……」

Fleeing nobles shout in panic.

「W-who the hell are you――gyaaaaa!!」
「You’ll pay for underestimating Goldon――hiiii!」
「Stop, not there……aoooo!!」

Nobody wanted to listen to the sounds of those unable to move being finished off.

At the same time, smoke starts to rise from various places in the woods.
It was clear the outsiders had set fire to the plants.

The poor trio also fell down after their horses were killed.
Their bodies were struck so hard that it didn’t look like they could fight back or escape.

An assailant with a crossbow appeared in front of them.
Shrouded from head to waist in all-black attire, the person’s face could not be seen and neither could the person’s physique or gender be distinguished.

「Guh, is this the end?」
「Sorry. My 19 children……」
「At least I can take solace from knowing I have insurance on my life. Now……half my debt can be paid.」

But the assailants confirm the faces of the trio, mumble something and then disappear into the bushes without shooting an arrow.
As the smoke billows from the burning trees, the three crawl away.

「「「W-we narrowly escaped death……」」」

The three of them lean their backs against each other and sink to the ground in exhaustion.

In response to the urgent news, guards and knights of the territory rushed to the scene, but by then the fire was so intense and the smoke so thick that they could find only the wounded who survived, not the attackers.

「It’s perfect.」


The words of a certain man cause an irritated person to react harshly.

「Launching an ambush from the thicket, then holding off our counterattack with spears and attacking once more at close range, and lastly retreating while setting the place on fire to prevent pursuit. Have you ever seen a more perfect ambush?」

「Well, a professional attack was executed in the territory of the Military Commissioner during peace times――」

「I’m saying it’s the perfect tactic which even anticipates our decisions!」

The man yells and strikes the ground with his sword.

Radhalde Territory – Mansion.

「That concludes the list of casualties. The conflagration is yet to be suppressed. An evacuation order has been issued to the pioneer villages at risk for the fire to potentially spread to.」

Erich listens and tries to digest the report by the trembling pale-faced governor.

He is usually in the capital and leaves the management of the territory to the governor.
Meeting up for the hunt was scheduled to be in the afternoon and the bad news came when he was preparing.

「Is there any information on the attackers?」

「Unfortunately, not a single one could be brought down, and the fire has erased any traces of their whereabouts……so there is nothing.」

Erich doesn’t look at the governor, whose face is turning from pale blue to a darker black, and lightly kicks his chair.

「The main casualties were Lord Mottel and Lord Onigmes――Captain of the second division Lord Dontress was also severely wounded?」

「Dontress-sama led of the counterattack and suffered the brunt of the enemy’s focus.」

Erich sighs deeply and kicks his chair.

「Hopeful of his talent in government affairs, I granted him the abundant former Libatis territory. Damnit Mottel, you’re not lucky at all.」

Survivors of the disaster came running in.
All of them have humiliation and anger written over their faces.

Erich first bows his head to all of them.
The governor finally fainted at this point.

「This is my territory. Fault lies with me.」

Nobody blames Erich, at least on the surface.

「We were the ones who made a wrong decision, and we would be the ones to blame on a battlefield. It’s unacceptable that we couldn’t take out one soldier.」

「We even lost the captain……this is an utter failure.」

「What’s important is the enemy’s identity. Not to be sore losers, but they were not any ordinary outsiders.」

One of them mutters in a subdued voice.

「If only Lord Hardlett was here……」

An unpleasant silence envelops the room.

「……that reminds me, why is Lord Hardlett absent? His territory is directly adjacent.」

「He suddenly got a stomach ache.」

A few of them awkwardly clear their throats.

「Lord Mottel and Lord Onigmes were deliberately targeted on the first attack……」

「Aside from the captain leading the counterattack……most of the casualties are nobles of the south with new territory……geho geho.」

To clear the unsettling air, Erich promised to secure the positions and give compensation to those whose family heads were killed or severely injured, then he dismissed all of them.

Cedric, who arrived and was also scheduled to participate, comes in next.

Erich, while staring intently out the window, spoke in a monotonous tone.

「Cedric. Contact Hardlett immediately. Don’t ask about his health.」

One Week Later. Capital – Royal Palace.

I am kneeling in front of the king.
Erich and Kenneth are also next to me.

With these members, normally Kenneth and Erich would struggle to be in the center, and I would be near the outer part on Erich’s side, but right now I’m in the middle between the other two who are a fixed distance away.

Massive attacks on the capital and Erich’s territory dealt major damage to both camps.

On Kenneth’s side, he says that the sons and daughters of high-ranking bureaucrats, marquess families and margrave families, and even ministers are beyond recovery.
Gretel turned white as a sheet when she heard her father was caught in the attack, but collapsed in relief when she later found out he was unscathed.

Erich’s side also suffered a big blow.
Many familiar names of hopefuls were either sent to the afterlife or the hospital bed, and even a commander of the royal army died.

I thought it was unlucky that the poor trio were entangled in the mess, but a second report followed to say that they just lost a horse.

Erich and I make eye contact for a split second.

He sent me a scary letter after the incident, telling me to come right away, only for a summons from the king to arrive a day later.

Nonna was terribly frightened when the king’s letter was delivered.
She sobbed loudly in front of the children and clinged onto me tightly, saying that I would die if I went out again.

She wouldn’t listen no matter how much I reassured her and it wasn’t until Mel and Carla helped me comfort her at night before she finally calmed down.
Despite departing a little late, Schwartz can reach the capital a day earlier.

In the midst of reminiscing, the king first showed his appreciation toward us and then proceeded to talk about the main issue.

「South Yuguria or Magrado. It might also be a pocket of resistance. We’ve been led around by the nose.」

The king smiles cynically and rests an elbow on his throne.

“Yeah, they got us. I’ll be careful next time.”
Obviously that isn’t going to work here.

「All things considered……it wasn’t too large or outstanding…… Surely you are not trying to kill each other.」

The king stares at Kenneth and Erich.

「「Certainly not. I swear the only thing I’m responsible for is the ease at which this attack happened.」」

Well, they wouldn’t admit it even if they were actually behind the attacks.

They’re not going to go back and forth……creating doubt around one another, right?
Otherwise I wouldn’t be called.

The king’s stern gaze stays on Erich and Kenneth for a few seconds each before moving to me and staying for twice as long.

「I suppose you’re right. I am aware of the strife between you two, and I don’t believe you would kill a minister or commander appointed by me or do something as outrageous as set fire to the capital. That would mean it is the work of an outside party.」

His gaze is painful.

「I see many who have died disputed with you, Hardlett.」

Here it comes.

「……Yes Your Majesty. It appears so.」

I can’t deny the truth.
Saying I didn’t argue with them would be lying.

「Do you know anything?」

「No, I don’t.」

I’m like a kid giving an excuse, but can’t say anything else if I don’t know anything.
My eyes looking back at the king don’t have any guilt in them.

However the king doesn’t turn away from me.

「I don’t suspect you of committing this plot. Still, for all the people who inconvenienced you to die and for those with close ties with you to survive…… I guess such coincidences happen.」

Can I be dismissed now?

「Yet――my heart that has decided not to suspect you is being stirred by your actions. In these few months……your army has continued to grow after the war ended. Among the other feudal lords all across the land who have reduced their army sizes and knights, you stand out.」

Leopolt is expanding the army so much……that I can’t explain it with reasons like maintaining order or displaying dignity to neighboring lords.
I never rejected that plan.

「I am the king. I am the one who rules over the feudal lords and governs the nation. Thus I ask you, Hardlett. Why are you continuing to expand your military?」

I wonder why. I don’t know.
I don’t know, so I can’t answer.

Seeing my slight hesitation, the king slaps his leg once.

「There is no concrete evidence regarding this incident. Each of you may have your own motives, but you have not violated the law or angered me. Therefore, I will judge that this is a crime committed by thugs hostile to Goldonia. Further――」

It’s not over?

「――if I were to write a vulgar story, I would make Hardlett the culprit. The other two are too flawed to play the part. It would also be hard believe they conspired at the same time.」

He totally thinks it’s me.

「It’s a joke. It would be boring if the culprits were thugs in a story after all. So you are not the culprit. Besides, it’s uncertain. There is nothing illegal about the expansion of your military or your authority as lord. Yes……it’s uncertain.」

The king rises and walks over to me.

「I will not forget that it was my paranoia during the war that dragged this country and its loyal subjects down. And I will not forget that it was you who woke me up to that fact. Thus I want to clear my suspicions even if they are as small as my finger nail.」

The king returns to his throne and continues.

「Inspect Hardlett’s territory! I give the authority by royal decree to examine every town, village, military facility, and mansion in the land! When all is exposed to the light of day, it will become clear that Hardlett is without a shred of doubt my loyal retainer!」

It won’t.
A bunch of shady things will be revealed.

「In order to remain fair, 30% of the inspection team will be recommended by the Domestic Affairs Commissioner, 30% will be recommended by the Military Commissioner and 40% will be neutral. I appoint my trusted aide Marquess Bulga Fitton, the Minister of National Affairs, to be in charge! 」

The king mentions one last thing in parting, almost like the thought never crossed his mind.

「Oh how could I forget. The feudal lord has complete authority over the land he was given, so even I can’t do as I please. Your consent is an absolute requirement. What do you say, Hardlett?」

I mean, what else can I say but “I agree”?

I have to tell Leopolt and Adolph about this right away.
If the search is done without bounds, secrets on the level of a labyrinth’s treasure will be uncovered.

I want to consult with Erich too, but I haven’t been able to speak a word with him since coming to the capital.
What should I do?

Erich (silent), Monashi (miracle survival), Binbo (his horse died), Gokhin (in debt)
Territory Population
Total: 375 000
Rafen: 49 000 (+2000) growing, Lintbloom: 7 500 (+500) increasing again.
Richemott (former Libatis): 40 000 (+3000) influx to neighborhood, Zwei Elfie: 4500 (+800)

Army Personnel:
Infantry: 1200 (+400), Archers: 400 (+200), Cavalry: 1000 (+400), Escort: 30
105th Corps: 3500, Bow Cavalry Training Squad: 3000
Cannons: 35 (+5), Large Cannons: 18 (+3), Dwarven Cannons: 15, Field Artillery: 15 (+5), Chariots: 40 (+10)

Sexual Partners: 831
Children who have been born: 71 + 567 (++)
Current Location: Rafen




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