Chapter 551: Road to Kingdom ⑧ Farewell Friend
Erich glares at me with a scowl he’s never shown me in the past.
Naturally, his expression was suitable towards a sworn enemy, but that doesn’t explain everything.
Envy and gratification――no, it can’t be.
「I predicted the friendly fire trick. And I had a countermeasure for the monster.」
Following his line of sight, I see several large cannons set on top of the city walls.
If I let the smoothie rush in at the start and charged through the gates, I would have been met with a severe counterattack.
Those cannons were rendered useless by the shockwave of the giant explosion, with their bases broken and their barrels bent in various directions.
「With all this chaos, I can no longer bring it under control from the rear. I have to step onto the frontlines myself.」
We have to defeat each other in order to advance.
「Bruno, Agor, and Cedric――have you killed them?」
Erich lowers his eyes, while I raise mine to the night sky.
「Agor was also your friend. Don’t you feel remorse?」
「Of course I do. My emotions are such a mess that I want to scream.」
It was the most unsatisfying victory ever.
Nevertheless, I have something I want to accomplish.
「So you have something more important to you than friendship.」
Erich draws his sword and walks forward on his horse.
He wants to duel me?
The escort knights hurriedly step in between us.
「No need. Stand down.」
Erich says with his eyes fixed on me.
「You mustn’t! It’s insane to fight Hardlett one-on-one!!」
「That’s right. We will surround him and see if there is a chance of winning. Military commissioner, please get back!」
All of them refuse to listen.
「Enough! I said stand down!」
Erich simply repeats his order.
Celia and the escort squad also step back, and the fire of the torches they hold light up the street like a circular arena.
「You don’t have a horse?」
Schwartz staggers over so I jump on.
I toss away the Dual Crater and the Keravnos, and take a normal sword from one of the escort squad soldiers.
I also remove my helmet and toss it aside. Erich isn’t wearing one, so I won’t either.
We have to fight under the same conditions.
It seems Erich feels the same way and calls for someone to bring a horse.
We face one another.
I repress the emotions in my conflicted heart.
Fighting with a clouded mind would be rude to Erich.
Erich opens his mouth and then closes it without saying anything, reflexively smiling.
It’s because I did the exact same thing.
I didn’t know what to say to him.
We’re past discussing the why.
This isn’t the place to be reminiscing about old times either.
And it’s fine to leave a will after you’re defeated.
I wanted to talk about something, yet nothing seemed appropriate.
A crossbow fires from behind Erich as if to break the strange mood.
I knew it was on target, but chose not to dodge.
The bolt hits the right side of my head and bounces off.
Aside from a bit of pain and slight disorientation, it only leaves a minor scratch on my face.
「Look carefully. It deflected off his skull and didn’t affect him.」
Head-helmina reassures Celia.
「Will you stop, idiot!」
Erich turns around and shouts, whereas I am somewhat grateful.
「I don’t mind. I feel more at ease with a bit of pain.」
「……damn, sturdy guy. It’s going to take some effort to defeat you.」
Thanks to him, I have an excuse to talk with Erich.
That short exchange was enough to satisfy me.
I smile like a little girl waiting for her lover’s words.
Now this is the end.
「Here I go.」
Erich and I run at each other on our horses.
He is unlikely to want a drawn-out battle with me when I am superior in physical strength.
Both me and Schwartz are shaky.
It’s an unspoken agreement.
The two of us understood that the battle was going to be decided in the split second we’ll pass by.
I widen my eyes and concentrate.
The sound of air blowing across my ear, the distance between the hooves of both our horses, the trajectory of Erich’s sword, Brynhildr sitting down and looking at me from the top of a spire, I see everything in slow-motion.
It’s annoying how slow the scenery is.
Despite wanting this to finish as fast as possible, it feels like this view that I never wanted to start is being prolonged.
I don’t kill my emotions.
I don’t shout in desperation.
I just grab the reins with my left hand and raise the sword in my right hand.
I see Erich do the same.
Three seconds have gone by and there might be only one second left before the final clash.
My right side is unexpectedly blinded by red.
Blood has trickled from the earlier scratch to cover my eye.
Now I’m in trouble.
There’s only one second left.
With one eye closed at this time, it will cause me to see unnecessary things.
In a worthless battlefield whose name I can’t remember, I charged out before Erich gave the order and was punched.
Erich got angry at me after I farted during a hunt and scared all the prey away.
I ignored the dinner party to grab a maid’s ass and he pulled me by the ear for it.
When I called over a widow who could not control her urges at night and we took turns sleeping with her, the house suddenly began shaking――
There’s still more.
Man, this one second feels like an eternity.
Erich’s sword closes in.
It was on track for a sharp slash to my neck.
He is aiming for a slash without any wasted movement by taking the shortest distance to cut a few centimeters into my neck, then using the momentum from running by to sever my carotid artery.
The angle of his extended arm and the sinking of his body is him preparing to evade my sword.
I can see everything.
My arm also swings.
I have no intention of stopping, and even if I did, my body which is accustomed to combat won’t stop.
There was a small clink of metal followed by the sound of flesh being torn――
Erich’s sword is bent and flying in the air, while my sword is thrusted down toward his chest from his neck.
It’s my win.
Schwartz comes to a stop and I jump off.
Erich’s horse keeps running and he tips sideways until he falls to the ground.
I glare at the followers and knights trying to rush to his aid and arrive by Erich’s side first.
The sword I stuck diagonally into his neck broke from the impact of our crossing.
I didn’t kill him instantly, but I certainly dealt a fatal blow.
「……I’m no match after all.」
Erich says, coughing out blood as I hold him up.
「It’s because you challenged me to single combat. What were you thinking?」
When I scratch my head, unsure of what I’m saying, Erich smiles.
「……win or lose, this is my last fight. I wanted to display my manliness rather than my rationality.」
「If you wanted that, you should have killed me first. Then you could do whatever.」
I flick my forehead, scolding myself for the insensitive comment that I uttered unconsciously.
「Not to my subordinates……I wanted to show you……」
Before I could retort with “what good is showing your manliness to a rebel”, Erich coughs violently.
Blood has accumulated in his lungs and he likely doesn’t have long to live.
There is something I have to tell him.
「I crushed your dream so I can fulfill mine. Sorry.」
I committed the crime of betraying his trust and stabbing him in the chest.
Nonetheless, I am true to my feelings.
I have nothing to be ashamed of even if a God were to peer into my heart.
Erich chokes as he shakes his head.
「Fufu, you’re wrong……my dream……has already been fulfilled……it was a small dream…… insignificant……」
Lots of blood splashes on the ground.
Erich grips my hand hard for a person on the verge of death.
「The completed……building blocks of my dream……can only be admired……or torn apart……they’re torn……and become your building blocks……」
Erich points to an empty space in the sky.
「I will be watching……to see how far you go……if you see you up there right away……I’m going to laugh at you.」
With no more strength left, Erich’s hand falls to the ground.
The only thing he can move is his mouth.
「One last thing……at least……」
This is the result of your own doing, but I want to see you at peace.
Maybe this is his way of getting me back for all the times I troubled him.
Erich’s eyes open.
He probably can’t see anymore, but the light in his eyes doesn’t waver a bit.
「Never forget――those who are made by betrayal are removed by betrayal――that is providence.」
Once he finishes his sentence, Erich’s face returns to being calm and he sighs contently, not breathing again.
「Yeah, I won’t forget.」
I lower Erich’s head softly then declare loudly.
「Military commissioner Marquess Erich Radhalde has been defeated!!」
Cheers erupt from my troops and shrieks leak from the royal army side, but they don’t reach my ears.
「Guh, I’ll avenge His Excellency and kill you even if it costs me my life!!」
The knight escorts, who were unable to accomplish their mission due to Erich’s own will, surround me.
I retrieve the Dual Crater and casually sweep it horizontally without turning to the knights.
By the time the whirlwind created from my swing dissipated, all the knights were ripped asunder.
Siegfried and Brynhildr arrive in the hellish scape which contrasts the tranquil expression on Erich’s face.
「Guard this place. I’m going to the palace.」
「You sure are using me at your convenience.」
Siegfried stares solely at Brynhildr, who puffs her cheeks and nods, then stands imposingly on the main street with a sword in each hand.
Schwartz trots to me again, as if telling me to get on.
The gash on his leg is bleeding enough to leave a stain on the ground, but if you insist, I’ll ride you.
「If he’s so precious that you would make that face, I can lend you my household――」
「Don’t do anything unnecessary.」
A deep voice escapes from the pit of my stomach.
Not anticipating it, Brynhildr stumbles and falls on her ass.
Feeling somewhat bad for acting arrogantly when she’s done her best for me, I attempt to give an excuse, but everything I came up with was lame.
Brynhildr dusts herself as she gets up and turns her head coldly to the side, pouting.
「I’m beginning to understand now that we’re this far! That guy spouted some curse again, didn’t he!?」
Schwartz wobbles forward.
Sorry, I’ll need you to run at full speed. I can’t afford to waste one minute or even one second――no, that’s not it.
I really don’t want anyone to stand in front.
If they do, they’ll see my face.
I purely ran toward the palace.
「The death of the military commissioner gave an unrecoverable shock to the royal army which was already in a state of confusion. The royal army outside the walls is not a threat for the time being at the very least.」
It sounds like Leopolt is speaking right next to me.
「The generals of both armies step forth while the soldiers watch and the battle between the two charging horses was decided in one slash――it’s almost straight out of an action play…… if I omit this part, it would still seem like the events were dramaticized. Nevertheless, it is the truth.」
I also hear Tristan sigh.
「Control the buildings along the main road! Draw the attention of the guards and if you’re at a disadvantage, run all over the city. Do whatever you can to buy time for Aegir-sama to seize the palace!」
Celia is giving orders too.
「It’s the general’s general, treat him with care. That Agor should also be……here. Openly wave the white flag and back away until the burial.」
Is that Christoph?
「Don’t simply chase in a straight line like an idiot. Spread a bit to the left and right and act as obstacles. If one palace guard can break through, that’s the end of his road.」
Damn Sekrit, she’s giving instructions as she pleases to the escort squad.
Nonna’s happy life, my drinking buddies, and friends who got mad at me for doing stupid things, I put them one by one in the fire and ran.
If this was a story, this would be the part where my heart would break.
In reality, it’s the opposite. Every time I burn one, I become more unstoppable.
「Now then, with the change in your body, will your soul call for turmoil or will your soul be called to turmoil?」
Head-helmina is sitting on Schwartz like she was always there.
She cleverly hangs on with her hair and looks up at me.
「Don’t look at my face.」
I cover the eyes of the severed head with my hand.
My face is a total mess.
「What are you concerned about? Being able to cackle after killing your best friend would truly make you a beast or an insect. Fine, I won’t.」
I grab the head and toss it to Celia who is trailing me.
I arrive at the palace with no time to respond to Celia.
After dismounting Schwartz, he collapses on the spot.
My Dual Crater cuts the stiffened guard in a flash.
He loses his head before he realizes what happened and his body freezes like a statue right as he gets into a stance with his spear.
「Reinforcements……can’t wait for them. I’m going!」
I walk past the stunned guards and step into the palace.
Military Strength Comparison
Hardlett Rebel Army – excludes those outside the city walls as both armies are unable to fight
Cavalry: ??? (outside walls)
Bow Cavalry: ??? (outside walls)
Wagon Infantry: 100
Chariots: 0 (disabled)
Field Artillery: ??? (disabled)
Disguised Unit: ??? (outside walls)
Night Battle Unit
Vampire Raid Unit: 40 (-30)
Aerial Reconnaissance and Bombing Unit
Goldonian Royal Army
Capital Defense: 13 000