Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
The Status of the Assailants
In the border of Ludancia was a town where a group of ten armed men stayed. Citizens didn’t pay any attention to them mostly because of their few numbers, and it was clear that Ludancia’s ruler herself ordered these troops to be stationed there.
The group’s leader was on edge. Enraged after receiving news of the Fedor gang’s failure, he slammed his fist on the table.
「This is why I didn’t want to hire a bunch of thugs to do the job.」
His subordinates stood in attention, unmoving. Their leader, Larks Lordgrad Ludancia, had the same family name as Luka, but he was merely adopted, and as such he was treated rather poorly.
Believing that only he could protect himself, he devoted his time to training in the ways of the sword, eventually getting himself the position of a commanding officer.
The man gazed outside the snowy, fogged up window. He couldn’t contain his anger, but he also knew that he had no other option but to fulfill the task at hand. Larks recalled the time he received the mission—eliminating Luka.
「Larks, you do feel indebted to me for adopting you, right?」
「Of course. I have not once forgotten my debt of gratitude towards the Lordgrad family for taking me in. Every month when I go to church to pray, I express my gratitude—」
「I don’t really care about that. I just need you to show me how sincere you are.」
The woman, wearing heavy make-up to appear young, smirked. In his mind, Larks referred to her as a monster.
A shiver went down his spine. For a moment, he thought he’d be asked to offer his body as an outlet for her sexual desires. But he knew Ludancia’s representative preferred young men, and she kept about a dozen of them around like pets.
Larks was a muscular man in his late twenties with short blue hair. Had he not trained in swordsmanship, he would’ve probably gained a reputation in high society as a womanizer. Unfortunately, he had solid build, and scars marred his face.
Part of him also wanted to train hard so he’d become someone completely opposite of what Luka’s mother preferred in men and escape from her clutches.
Oh, that. Larks felt relieved. At the same time, he realized his end would be coming soon as well.
The man knew how she worked behind the scenes ever since winter, trying to sabotage the upcoming mass wedding. But since Rumania itself supported the event, aiming to profit off of it, Ludancia couldn’t say anything to cancel it.
Normally, Kirihal would disagree with the proposal, but not only did Queen Marquedo, Kirihal’s representative, expressed her support, she also taunted Ludancia’s haters, saying “Do you want to join forces with Ludancia to overturn the decision?”, therefore silencing them. It was a clever move.
Of course, this wasn’t Marquedo’s idea, but the Prime Minister’s—the Queen’s brains, Zofira van Houtens.
「Why now? We finally have the means to destroy Kirihal soon…」Ludancia’s representative muttered.
You idiot, Larks thought. This isn’t the time to be fighting among ourselves. The whole continent is in a state of chaos.
Even if he thought of her as a fool, she was still Ludancia’s representative. She finally arrived at a conclusion: if she can’t stop the wedding, then she just has to kill Luka. If the princess was killed, Larks would be sentenced to death for ruining an important event that the Alliance worked hard to push. If he failed to kill Luka, her mother would not excuse his blunder. Either way, death would come knocking at his door soon.
If I’m going to die anyway, I might as well test how strong I’ve become, Larks told himself. Fortunately, Jarazack had plenty of warriors, Alexei included. I’m sure they’re not known as a nation that excelled in martial arts for nothing. They would be the perfect opponent in his last fight ever.
「Understood.」Larks nodded with grim determination.
「Come on. Cheer up. You’re ruining your looks. Don’t worry about a thing. I heard there’s this group of bandits called the Fedor gang in Jarazack. Hire them for the job.」
「It’s clear you’re from Ludancia. If you entered Jarazack, our nation could get into trouble. You don’t even understand that?」the woman said, as though mocking his resolve.
If people found out he was the one who hired the Fedor gang, he’d be charged with a crime and be known as a coward who refused to get his own hands dirty.
Lark’s mind went blank. He couldn’t even choose his manner of death. By the time he came back to his senses, he realized he was alone and standing still, the woman already gone.
Larks didn’t want his subordinates to accompany him on this mission. He wasn’t even sure if he could call it one. It was more like suicide. Which is why he wanted to go see the Fedor gang alone and end things once and for all on his own.
But on the morning of his departure, ten men—his subordinates who had survived difficult training with him—showed up.
「We can’t let you go alone.」they said.
They realized that Larks was embarking on a deadly mission.
Only ten, but reliable soldiers. This was the reason why only a few men were stationed in town.
「Sir, did they mention anything about what to do if the Fedor gang failed?」one of the men asked.
「No, not really. In the first place, we didn’t even expect the target to leave Jarazack.」
「Does this mean you can do the work yourself now?」a young man cut in.
His name was Ray, the youngest of them all, who joined only this winter. He said he looked up to Larks. Larks himself thought he didn’t really mean it, but his demeanor never changed. Ray even said he was prepared to throw his life away with Larks and joined the mission. For Larks, these ten men were his comrades.
「Do the work myself?」
「Ludancia soldiers can’t enter Jarazack, but Scholarzard is part of the central government.」
「Yes, but we’re clearly from Ludancia. The central troops will definitely interfere.」
「Let’s disguise ourselves as adventurers, then.」
Larks pondered it over. Like Ray said, once they succeeded in their mission and their identities were revealed, it would be the central government who would come at them. Ludancia’s representative wouldn’t even care.
「Princess Luka going out of Jarazack might actually be a blessing for us.」
「So does that mean…」
「We’ll go with your idea, Ray. We’ll leave behind those who clearly look like soldiers, and wear disguises before heading to Scholarzard. Our target will know that they’re being hunted, so it’ll be a short and decisive battle.」
Lark’s subordinates saluted in unison, then prepared for their journey to Scholarzard.
No one noticed Ray smile behind their backs.