The Imperial Council
A while ago, a messenger had sent us a letter ordaining the start of the Imperial Council. Currently, as specified by the letter, we were headed towards a large building in the center of Sutherland.
There were many gentlemen wearing gaudy clothes, all accompanied by brawny soldiers, and they were headed towards the top floor of the building.
“We’ve got to be in the wrong place,” Aquido said.
“Yeah……” Zem agreed.
They sent me a pleading gaze which I casually ignored as I followed suit and headed towards the top as well.
Soon, I stepped into the large hall on the top floor to find famous nobles around the empire all gathered inside.
I walked to the couch located next to what I thought was the entrance to the reception area and said, “I’m Grey Millard, here as part of the expeditionary force. I’ve come to participate in the Imperial Council, as was ordered.
A woman wearing a red dress who was in charge of the expeditionary force’s registration responded, “Okay. Please wait a moment.”
She flipped through a couple of pages and circled something before handing me a sheet of parchment.
“Please peruse through this while you wait for the meeting to start,” she said.
“My thanks,” I said and migrated to the corner of the room.
All the forces would be lined up, creating several u-shaped rows. The Imperial Army would be stationed in the back, and we, the expeditionary force, would be in front. The Millard Family would not only be in the frontmost row, but also smack dab in the center; we’d be the first ones targeted in the heat of battle. The probably intended to use small, weak nobles as so-called meat shields. I feel like I finally understand why my shitty stepmother sent me here now.
Well anyways, I had expected this, so it wasn’t too surprising. Still—
“What do you think of this plan?” I sighed and asked Aquido after finishing reading the parchment.
“It’s a stupid plan,” Aquido spat out, his face dyed in anger, and the people around focused on us as if startled.
“L-leader!” Zem exclaimed.
“Sorry.” Aquido looked around before bowing in apology towards me.
“No, you’re fine,” I said. “I actually feel the same way. The person who thought this up must have been quite the idealist.”
We’d march in a u-shape formation, surround the enemy, and destroy them. It was a classic tactic and wasn’t that crazy in it of itself. Yes. If the enemy didn’t have several times more forces than we and weren’t tireless undead, that is.
Some greenhorns without even a single battle under their belt probably copied this tactic straight from the book.
“Kihihi, you think so as well, child?” asked a short, sage-like old man with white hair and white clothes as he approached me while stroking his long beard.
Honestly, despite my looks, I’m definitely not a child inside, but from his point of view I must be a child.
“You think the same, old man?” I said.
“Naturally. I’d give the idiot that thought up this clumsy plan a failing grade.”
“Agreed. It’d be one thing if they used a flexible pincer movement, but to use a fixed formation against someone commanding an army of undead would practically be the same as going without any plan at all.”
Immediately, the old man wiped the smirk off his face.
“Are you to say their advance is unnatural?” he asked.
“It’s obvious just by the fact that they’re advancing towards the capital.”
During these couple of boring days where we were ordered to be on standby, I put more thought into the undead’s advance. As a result, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that several of my deductions could prove fatal to the empire.
“However, undead naturally seek out the living, so wouldn’t them seeking out the capital be perfectly normal?” he asked.
“Aquido, give me the map,” I ordered.
I took the map from Aquido, opened it, and set it on the table. Then, I ran a pen along the undead’s route.
“The undead were first sighted here, in the northernmost part of the empire—near the Giant Forest, Rudoa,” I began. “Here’s their route as they continue to advance southward, and here’s each city’s population. Don’t you feel something’s off?”
The white-haired old man’s eyes shot open as he froze in place. After a short pause, he squeezed out, “I see. So we’ve been operating on a completely incorrect premise.”
The undead destroyed every large city during their advance towards the capital and Sutherland. Certainly, their route trended towards uncoordinated as they aimed for large, famous cities. It’s not that you couldn’t say that there was someone directing them, but it looked extremely implausible.
That, however, was where the pitfall lay. If you pushed past your preconceptions and thought outside the box, you would easily see how unnatural their route was. It was superbly camouflaged, of course, but there were about ten different places where the undead sniffed out a city with a large population and yet continued marching on. It wasn’t impossible for them to have just risen up from the ground on their own, but for now it would be more appropriate to interpret the undead as moving under a single will.
“Then what about Lamperts’s death?” he asked as a large vein bulged on his forehead.
Lamperts Brauser climbed the ranks to become general despite his status as a commoner, even among this empire that valued family lineage so highly; he was a true hero.
“I looked at his achievements, and he’s truly a great commander. I think if the undead just rose up from the ground, even if he couldn’t win, he wouldn’t have died,” I said.
“Are you to say there’s a mastermind?”
“Yeah, there’s a huge difference between mindless undead and humans. Basically, if we don’t change how we perceive these undead, we’ll get the rug pulled out from under us.”
At the very least there’s a dragon-class monster that’s been turned undead. If the mastermind is moving the undead under their own will, it would be dangerous even for me to just charge in without a plan.
“So then you must have a plan?”
“Yes, I can think of a few,” I said. “Still, they’d all take dozens of days.”
We could certainly take out many undead without breaking a sweat, but it was an entirely different matter once you added in the mastermind into the mix.
This is just a gut feeling, but maybe the mastermind isn’t even that set on destroying the empire.
And even if the mastermind were set on that, they could just spawn a large number of undead into the capital instead of taking such a roundabout path. There was no need to dress up that fact unless they had another motive.
“Let’s hear your plan,” the old man said sharply, his composed manner from before completely gone.
“Sure, but it’s quite difficult.”
I could easily hypothesize what those peace-loving idiots would say. They would generally brand any who advise prudence as worthless cowards and then advance into their own destruction.
“We’ll be destroyed if we don’t do it, right?” the old man shouted. “Then we need to do it. Stop putting on airs and spit it out!”
I shrugged and began to talk.
“How idiotic! Are you saying that them trying to destroy our eternal empire, Archive, is a mere distraction?”
“I’m saying that the possibility exists if you think about it calmly.”
Although the emperor wasn’t present, the white-haired old man prodded everybody to begin anyways.
Currently, the white-haired old man and a pompous group of middle-aged men wearing extravagant garbs were in the middle of a heated argument.
“How sad. So even Sieg, hailed as a sage, has turned to cowardice. It looks like you just can’t beat the onset of old age,” said a giant man with short hair as he shook his head back and forth and shrugged his shoulders.
Every generation has countless simpletons who can’t differentiate between imprudence and bravery. And without fail, they’d rise up to become the backbones of the government and the military and become ill-natured.
“Say what you want! But this is directed towards the emperor.”
“There’s no need for you to do that,” said a handsome, young man wearing silver armor as he flamboyantly led his group inside.
“I’m The Hero, Yukihiro,” he said.
“Now our victory is all but certain,” one noble said confidently.
While receiving praise left and right, he walked up to me and snarled, “Oi, brat. That’s my seat. Move!”
There shouldn’t have been any assigned seats, but it’d be annoying to try to explain that to a wild beast that doesn’t have any common sense or even know how to speak.
“My apologies.” I stood up as everyone else threw sneers my way.
“In the first place, why is a child participating in this Imperial Council?” Yukihiro said.
“I heard he’s under the auspices of Margrave McBurn and Count Hartwig,” one noble said.
“How come I see neither of them?” another added.
“They’re probably planning to come late to show off their authority.”
“A mere Margrave getting on his high horse!”
“Leaving that aside, aren’t the mercenaries behind that kid The Fools?”
“Hmph, poor nobles have poor followers.”
I put my hand up to stop Aquido, who was about to fly into a bout of rage. In my opinion, I’d rather not associate myself with these idiots around me who don’t even try to hide their jealousy and antagonism despite it being a time where they need to band together to prevent their own country’s destruction.
The black-haired man sat down where I just was.
“What do you mean there’s no need?” the white-haired old man, Sieg, frowned as he asked The Hero—Yukihiro.
“It means the emperor is busy and has no need to worry about stupid things like this. I alone could take out all the undead,” Yukihiro said.
As expected of The Hero, everyone was bathing him in praise once again.
“Don’t you know Lamperts lost?” Sieg continued. “It’s better to be cautious right now.”
“Lamperts? Ahh, that ordinary guy who couldn’t even use magic. That’s because he was just a small fry.”
Snickers leaked out from the knight-like women behind him.
“What did you just say?” Sieg said in a chilling voice as everyone began hallucinating that their surroundings dropped several degrees.
“Hmm? Did you not hear me? I said he was just a small fry. Even though he was weak, he yearned for achievements and put on airs.”
“Try to limit how you handle this idiot who doesn’t even know his place. Don’t get too heated,” I whispered to Sieg from behind.
“I wouldn’t even if you didn’t say anything.”
“Sorry, but I don’t think you’re that strong. Thus, I need the emperor’s decision,” Sieg said, adding gasoline to the fire.
“Are you trying to say that I’d be defeated by mere undead!?”
“Nah, you, The Hero, could easily defeat any amount of normal undead on your own. Even I’ll admit that. However, I don’t think normal undead are what did Lamperts in.”
“You dare put me on the same level as that small fry!?”
“Well, yeah. You’re certainly superior in terms of magic, but if we consider skills and battle sense, Lamperts is overwhelmingly superior overall.”
His magic, which Sieg praised, was C—not even at Satella’s level. It’s because you needlessly flatter him that he gets all arrogant. Just tell him flat out that you can’t trust him because he’s weak.
Still, I got excited to finally meet someone from the same village as me, but he’s all talk.
During this explosive situation where Sieg and The Hero, Yukihiro were exchanging furious gazes, a man wearing messenger-like clothing entered the room and bowed.
“The emperor arrives.”
Everyone immediately stood up, placed their hand on their chest, and bowed.
I followed suit, and Aquido and Zem bowed deeply.
“I see you’re going at it, as the discussion has gotten heated once again. A refined plan will lead our country to victory. Very good,” the emperor said.
This voice, I feel like I heard it just earlier.
I raised my head to see a handsome golden-haired man over two meters tall. In the end, he had never given his name. I thought he had his reasons, but to think that it was because he was actually Georg Rose Archive himself.
“Looks like Grey’s here too. There’s still some spots open, take a seat.”
“Sure……” I replied.
Behind Emperor Georg stood Margrave Mcburn and Count Hartwig.
Sieg then kneeled before the emperor and said, “Your Majesty, I have a request.”
“Sieg, you!!” Yukihiro yelled.
“I don’t mind. Speak,” said the emperor, completely ignoring Yukihiro’s words.
“I’ve some suspicions about the undead’s movement. Please grant this old man permission to improve the battle plan.”
“Hm, improve you say……” the emperor murmured while grinning as he gave me a sidelong glance.
“Emperor, you’ve no need to listen to this coward. I’ll show you that I can take responsibility and erase this disturbance.”
“What do you guys think?” the emperor turned to ask Margrave McBurn.
“There’s no disadvantage in trying to improve. I say we accept his request.”
“Your Majesty, I’m afraid now is a time of rest before the war. I don’t think we should needlessly exploit our soldiers,” said the man with a curly mustache and luxurious clothes as he stood up.
“Sir Cyrus has a point as well,” the emperor said. “So does the old man have any plans for this?”
Sieg looked towards me, so I nodded in response.
“This is just a supposition, but what if you just left the matter just to me and any like-minded individuals that I trust.”
In an instant, the room erupted in chatter. The emperor simply smiled in response, and said, “Then I have no reason to decline. I, Georg Rose Archive, grant you permission. Sieg, act to your hearts content. Deliver any documents detailing the places where traps and such are set up another day. The lords will arrange the details and deliver it to the imperial headquarters. That is all.”
The other lords reluctantly stood up and bowed.
And so the undead extermination tactics began.
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