57 – Intermission: Events on the road close to the Empire's border
──On the road to the north, in the Empire’s territory──
“The opportunity has finally arrived.
All those years of serving the old man have been worth it.”
The commander of the unit dispatched to the north said.
His name was Isaac Muiller.
24 years old and hailing from the marquis family of Muiller.
He was also one of the aides who had been serving the Minister of Military Affairs, Zagran, since he was a child.
They were currently travelling the road leading to the north.
The soldiers formed a line, led by Isaac.
In the middle of the line was a carriage, in which sat Princess Sophia Dolgaria.
“This is an opportunity for a promotion… I can’t miss it.”
Isaac clutched the sword at his waist.
Isaac’s grandfather had been the Minister of Military Affairs.
As such, his father had always told him:
“Push down Zagran to become the Minister of Military Affairs and elevate our family’s status.”
And now, he was presented the opportunity to do so.
The upper echelon ordered Isaac to accompany the princess to a town bordering the Demon Territory.
He had been told, “You will be stationed at the border town with Her Highness Princess Sophia and conduct regular military exercises to remind the Demon Territory of the Empire’s might.”
It was an opportunity that would lead to Isaac’s rise to fame.
“If I can make a name for myself in this operation, I can possibly become a duke.
The Regus family has fallen, and the duke’s title is available for the taking.”
His orders were to conduct regular military exercises for three years.
However, that was not sufficient.
He needed to accumulate further achievements if he wanted to advance in rank.
He had been thinking about ways to obtain merit throughout his journey, but…
“Speaking of which, Thor Regus is in the Demon Territory.
It seems he calls himself Thor Canaan now…”
He heard that information from Zagran.
Isaac was acquainted with Thor Regus when he was in the Empire.
A few years ago, he was an attending military officer when the skills of the children of nobles were being appraised.
Thor Regus was one of those children.
Isaac remembered him vividly because he was the only boy who didn’t possess any combat skills.
The former duke, Barga Regus, also requested that he participate in a mock battle with him.
That Thor Regus was now in the Demon Territory.
Even though he was a hostage sent from the Empire, it seems he had gained the trust of the Demon Lord and the other demons.
Zagran told Isaac, “Beware of Thor Regus, no, Thor Canaan,” but…
“He’s probably scheming something, so that I won’t use him to obtain merit.”
Isaac has also heard about the subjugation of the monster Gargarossa.
After the battle, Princess Liana wanted the ‘Wandering Alchemist’, or in other words, Thor Regus.
The Demon Lord had flatly refused.
There was also the incident of Thor Regus cutting his familial ties in the presence of everyone in the Demon Territory.
Thor Regus’ heart lay in the Demon Territory.
It would be difficult to invite him back or convince him to be an informant.
“But we have Princess Sophia here.”
Zagran was mistaken in using Princess Liana.
If he wanted to use Thor Regus, he should have let him speak to Princess Liana directly.
He should have separated Thor Regus from the demons and tried to persuade him.
Had he done that, he might have convinced him.
After witnessing the indomitable power of the holy sword, Thor Regus would have been terrified, submitting himself completely as a result, and remembered his loyalty to the Empire.
However, Zagran was unable to do so.
Princess Liana held a high position in the succession to the throne and was an important figure in the Empire.
He couldn’t bear to leave her alone with Thor Regus.
(What a coward.
You’re getting old, Zagran.)
Isaac muttered inaudibly.
(This little officer is different.
This Isaac Muiller knows exactly how to use an Imperial princess.
I’m not like Zagran, whose only concern is self-preservation.)
As he thought that, Isaac turned around.
A flag was being waved from the carriage transporting the princess.
It was a signal for a break.
A female soldier – Zagran’s second-in-command, Mariella – alighted from the carriage.
She came up to Isaac and informed him.
We intend on resting for the regular break period for the sake of Her Imperial Highness’ wellbeing.
Is that alright?”
Her Imperial Highness’ health is of utmost importance.”
“Yes, Her Highness has endured a long journey despite her frailness.”
“We should reach the border town in the evening, so we can discuss that when we arrive.”
Isaac thought for a moment and then proposed.
“I would like to send a few men to the town beforehand, to inform the people of Her Imperial Highness’ imminent arrival
That way, they will be able to make suitable arrangements.
I want to have the rooms of the inn prepared and water boiled in advance so that Her Highness can rest quickly.”
“That’s a good idea.
I’m certain Zagran-sama would do the same.”
Isaac’s expression stiffened at Mariella’s words.
Mariella, who noticed that, continued.
“Zagran-sama asks that we conduct military training on a regular basis while taking the health of Her Highness Sophia in consideration.
This is also to remind the Demon Territory of the power of the Empire.
“…… I suppose so.”
“This Mariella is glad that Captain Muiller understands Zagran-sama’s thoughts.”
Mariella bowed and returned to the carriage.
She was the second-in-command, assigned the position by Zagran to monitor Isaac.
But now that they were travelling, she was unable to leave Princess Sophia’s side.
It would be best to make arrangements now.
Isaac immediately summoned his direct subordinates.
From among them, he selected a swift, lightly armoured cavalryman.
“This is an order.”
The plan was set.
He couldn’t move freely in the Imperial capital because he was under the watchful eye of Zagran, but there was still time for preparations now.
“Advance to the border town and prepare to receive Her Highness Sofia.
Since Her Highness is tired, arrange for lodging so that she can rest quickly.
I’ve given you the necessary funds.
You know how to use this, don’t you?”
Isaac handed a bag of gold coins to one of his direct subordinates.
There was also a parchment inside the bag.
The parchment read:
‘Distribute money and gather allies in the border town.’
‘Identify those connected to the Demon Territory.’
‘Gather information on the monsters.
Rumours are circulating speaking of the presence of dormant monsters near the border.
Confirm the authenticity of the rumours and determine their location.’
‘This is a perfect opportunity to eliminate the monsters, as Her Imperial Highness’ magic is available.’
The men mounted their horses and rode off towards the north.
These were the men that Isaac had trained over the years.
They would be able to draw the inhabitants of the border town into Isaac’s faction.
“Zagran, the reason you are in your current position is because you exercise control over Princess Liana.
You amassed merits by supporting Her Highness, who possesses the holy sword.”
“So you wouldn’t have any complaints if this Isaac does as you have done, would you?”
Eventually, the short break ended and the convoy began moving again.
Under Isaac’s lead, the convoy approached the town, its walls coming into view.
Towering walls surrounded the border town.
“My family, please wait just a little longer.
This insignificant officer will return with great achievements.”
His term at the border town was three years, but he had no intention of waiting that long.
At most, he intended to stay a year, and at the shortest, a few months, in order to accomplish something highly meritorious and return to the Imperial capital.
Then, if possible, he hoped to become the next Minister of Military Affairs.
‘If that is too difficult, I’ll establish my house as a ducal house.
At the very least, I will become a general presiding over an army.’
“To that end, I will use any combat or magic skill available.
“If it’s for an important battle, don’t hesitate to make use of the objects inside the storage box.
Use them unreservedly and change the world.” Those were the words the hero left behind.
This Isaac Muiller will obey those words.”
‘Fortunately, there is an Imperial princess who specializes in the same ‘light magic’ as the hero.’
‘I’ll make good use of her.
In return, I will serve her.
I hope that she will be able to accomplish enough for the Empire.’
Princess Sophia was also a princess of the empire that revere the heroes.
She would understand Isaac’s thoughts.
The same would be true for Thor Regus, the boy in the Demon Territory.
It would be a great honour to follow this Isaac to the Imperial capital.
For that purpose, he would likely leave the Demon Territory.
“I am grateful to you for delegating this task to me, Zagran.
(With all due respect, I will drag you down from your position of Minister of Military Affairs.)
Isaac mumbled to himself again, ensuring it wasn’t audible to anyone else.
‘I’m sure the Demon Lord hasn’t noticed our movements yet.There are plenty of vacant positions in the Empire.
This opportunity for advancement can’t be missed…’
With that in mind, Isaac pushed his horse forward.
“…..What is that?”
Princess Sophia murmured while gazing out the window.
“Your Highness, the window should remain closed.”
“Mariella, was there someone outside right now?
Mariella looked towards the window after hearing Sophia’s words.
However, she then shook her head.
“Noone is there.
Neither normal beasts nor demonic ones will be able to approach our elite troops.
Please rest assured.”
“No, that’s not what I meant…….”
Sofia looked out the window again.
“It seemed as though someone was flying through the trees.”
“Your Highness must be fatigued.
Please try to get some rest.”
Mariella then closed the window tightly.
“We will arrive at the border town in the evening and you will be able to relax after the trip.
Your Highness will be able to calmly think about your mission.”
“…… I understand.”
Sofia leaned back in her seat and shut her eyes.
She was tired.
She felt her forehead heating up.
She was a great ways from the Imperial capital and would not be able to see her sister Liana for the time being.
The anxiety and exhaustion must have caused her to see something strange.
(…… There’s no way the pixies would be here, right?)
Thinking that, Sofia fell into a short slumber.
She faintly recalled dreaming of playing with pixies.
Just as the legends, she was free from all restraints.
A few hours later, the convoy, led by Isaac, entered the border town.
The troops then waited for Princess Sophia to recover before inspecting the training grounds.
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