Cale’s chair screeched as he stood up. He started to walk away as he asked Toonka a question.
“When are we leaving?”
Their destination was, of course, Maple Castle.
“Tomorrow. We will go after the king’s speech.”
The Empire had declared war first.
The Whipper Kingdom’s king had to say something as well in order to keep the morale of the soldiers and citizens up high.
That was the way to lessen the fear and uncertainty in the minds of everyone.
Cale nodded his head and walked out of the room.
“I guess I’ll see you at the location of the speech tomorrow.”
Tomorrow was when they would all head to the battlefield.
* * *
A spring breeze was blowing.
– Human, human! I can see the soldiers and warriors standing in the distance! It feels like we are finally going to fight!
Cale took in the scent of spring as he headed toward where the numerous Whipper forces should be gathered.
“Priest-nim, I am not walking too fast, right?”
“Not at all. I am okay.”
Cale responded gently while the 1000-man Commander started to smile. The 1000-man Commander clenched his fist after taking a look at Cale and the priest behind Cale who was covered in a white robe.
This 1000-man Commander was responsible for escorting the disguised Cale.
He had seen Cale before. The 1000-man Commander thought about that moment before he cautiously started to speak.
“Priest-nim, I saw you at the battle of Maple Castle last time and I just wanted to say that it is an honor to meet you again like this.”
The 1000-man Commander had not forgotten about the priests who had come to Maple Castle. They had given their all in order to heal the wounded. The images of the priests were clear in his mind as they had seemed angelic as if they had come because a god had called them to come help.
The person who had seemed to be the leader of those priests had returned to the Whipper Kingdom.
‘They said that he is someone Commander Toonka-nim knows?’
This priest was said to have come at Commander Toonka’s request. It was also said that the other priests would soon arrive as well.
“Thank you very much, priest-nim.”
The 1000-man Commander was truly thankful that this priest had come to the Whipper Kingdom just as they were about to fight the Empire.
“I do not deserve such gratitude. I just came where I needed to be.”
The 1000-man Commander was in awe at the priest’s modest response.
On the other hand, Cale felt a bit burdened.
‘Why is he looking at me with such sparkle in his eyes?’
He was disgusted by the 1000-man Commander’s respectful gaze.
Cale wanted to quickly head over to where the soldiers were and get through the king’s speech before heading to Maple Castle. However, the 1000-man Commander who needed to escort the two priests could not run nor show any signs of urgency and thus leisurely continued to walk.
He cautiously started to speak again as well.
Cale flinched at the earnest tone of the 1000-man Commander. It was at that moment.
It was right as Cale, the robed Choi Han, and the 1000-man Commander were about to turn a corner and head toward the large plaza in the distance.
– Human! I can feel Toonka’s presence behind the corner! He seems to be happily heading toward you!
‘Ah, so annoying.’
Cale was annoyed at the fact that Toonka was happily walking toward him.
However, he still maintained the priest’s smile on the outside. Naturally, the 1000-man Commander who did not notice Toonka’s presence cautiously spoke to Cale.
“Thank you in advance for all of your help this time as well.”
– Human, Toonka is right around the corner! He seems to want to surprise you! I want to surprise Toonka! Toonka will probably faint if he sees me! I want to try it!
‘Aigoo, my head.’
Cale almost let out a sigh, however, he could not let that sigh out.
It was because of the 1000-man Commander’s cautious voice.
“I’m sure it is burdensome for me to tell you this, but…”
Cale looked toward the 1000-man Commander.
There were no priests on the Western continent that were willing to come to the Whipper Kingdom. The Whipper Kingdom’s forces had a lot of concerns about healing because potions were expensive as well.
That was why the 1000-man Commander was thankful for the priests who showed up to help with potions even if they had no healing powers of their own.
The man who was in charge of 1,000 soldiers now felt the weight of this upcoming war.
That was why he decided to say what he wanted to say after debating it all night after being told that he would be escorting the two priests.
But he was worried that he was out of his lane to say such a thing.
“Priest-nim, people who used to be farmers became soldiers so that they could survive, so even after a few battles, they are still very lacking.”
The 1000-man Commander thought about the soldiers in his unit.
The majority of them were soldiers who started with the non-mage faction who were originally from the ignored natives or the regular citizens who were suppressed by the mages.
“They need to go back home and farm again once the war is over, so their limbs are very important. Please, please take good care of them.”
The Whipper Kingdom had been constantly at war for the past two years.
They had always been the ones to attack and had achieved victory, however, the enemy was taking the initiative to attack them this time.
And now, it was about time that they stopped going to war.
The 1000-man Commander was thinking and worried about the peace that would come after the war.
He was also longing for it.
– …Human, Toonka stopped at the corner and is not moving.
Cale held back another sigh. He then looked toward the 1000-man Commander. The commander’s desperate gaze was making him feel uncomfortable. He had seen many gazes like this when he had been Kim Rok Soo.
The commander quickly waved his hand and responded back as Cale called out to him in a low voice.
“It, it was just some ramblings about what their situations are like, so please just let it in one ear and out the other! I feel like I may have burdened you by saying something I should not have said! Ah, this was not an order from my superiors. I just said it because I was worried-”
“It’ll be fine.”
The 1000-man Commander stopped talking after hearing the priest’s response. He could see the priest’s gentle smile.
“I heard that the grains grown in the Whipper Kingdom are very high in quality. I look forward to seeing the plentiful fields.”
The 1000-man Commander was extremely thankful for the priest in front of him. However, Cale was uncomfortable seeing that awed expression and turned away as he continued to speak.
“Please lead us there.”
“Umm, yes sir!”
The 1000-man Commander vigorously started to walk.
Cale held back yet another sigh and followed behind him while Choi Han peeked toward the corner before pushing his hood down and starting to walk.
– Human, Toonka seems to be frozen!
Cale was ignoring Raon’s comments as usual.
* * *
Cale soon arrived at the location where many soldiers and warriors were gathered.
He could not smell the fragrance of spring in the winds here.
All he could smell was the scent of dust and dirt.
That was normal for this spot.
The 1000-man Commander who escorted Cale over headed toward his unit while Cale and Choi Han headed toward Harol and the other chiefs.
Harol stood close to Cale and slowly started to speak.
“There’s less than you expected, right?”
“I assume that the rest of the soldiers are over at Maple Castle, Chief-nim.”
Harol accepted the respectful demeanor of priest Cale as if he was used to it before responding back.
“That is correct. Over half of them were moved to Maple Castle once the Empire declared war. The plan is to move the rest of them there today.”
Cale lowered his voice so that nobody else could hear.
“You somehow managed to get the soldiers to buy into using magic scrolls.”
The Empire could invade at any moment. They needed to move as quickly as possible, and there was nothing better than teleportation magic for that.
Once Cale pointed at the soldiers while turning toward Harol, Harol avoided his gaze and responded back.
“…The Whipper Kingdom’s citizens hate and despise magic. However, they still fear dying.”
The soldiers did not want to die.
They had already suffered from the pillar of fire that was at Maple Castle last time. That was why they knew about the dangers of alchemy and magic more than anybody else.
That was why they had determined that it was fine as long as they were not working directly with mages, thus allowing teleportation magic scrolls and other magic scrolls to be used.
They were inconsistent.
Both Harol and the soldiers were inconsistent with their beliefs. That was why the leaders and even the soldiers were trying their best to keep their use of magic scrolls hush hush.
The foreign kingdom’s commander applauded their inconsistency.
“Staying alive is the most important thing.”
Commander Cale who was saying that as if it was the truth made Harol hold back his laughter.
‘Yes, you can only do whatever it is you want to do if you are alive.’
Harol had been thinking about something these days.
Did he really want to create a world without magic?
Or did he want to create a world where nobody was oppressing people using magic?
The two of them were different.
If he chose the latter, he could accept magic.
However, if it was the former, the Whipper Kingdom was currently walking down a path of inconsistency.
“Chief-nim, the Commander-nim is here.”
Harol turned his head after hearing one of the leaders calling him.
Toonka had shown up alone.
He did not say anything before standing in front of the soldiers and warriors.
“I guess his highness should be here soon.”
Cale mumbled quietly and looked toward the platform in front of Toonka.
Toonka would give the order to march once the king raised the morale of the soldiers. Cale was imagining a sight of tens of thousands of people shouting at once.
It was quite a magnificent image.
That was why he was waiting for the king.
But something was weird.
Everyone was here but the king was not visible.
He didn’t even see the Knights Brigade that was responsible for protecting the king.
1 minute, 2 minutes.
10 minutes passed by.
The agreed upon time was passing by.
Nobody was saying anything.
However, the eyes of the soldiers and leaders who were standing at attention were quickly looking around.
The chiefs who were gathered to one side had terrible expressions on their faces.
One of the chiefs called out to Harol. ( Supreme Chief is used for rare occasions, I’ve generally just used chief (other than a few times I used Supreme Chief for very formal situations) ) They all seemed to be in a state of panic.
On the other hand, Harol had no expression on his face, but his eyes were sparkling in anger. The chief that called for him did not say anything else after seeing that angry gaze.
It was at that moment.
One knight entered the plaza.
It was the Vice Captain of the king’s personal Knights Brigade.
He headed toward the chiefs by the entrance as soon as he entered.
“What is going on?”
The Vice Captain flinched at Harol’s cold tone that was directed at him before opening up a parchment and starting to speak. His voice was quite loud.
“His highness is not feeling well, so he is unable to make the speech.”
Cale heard Choi Han scoffing behind him.
It was not just Choi Han.
The gazes of the chiefs turned hostile.
‘The person who was screaming in the strategy room just yesterday is suddenly ill? And ill to the point that he cannot give a speech?
The chiefs’ gazes started to turn into sharp glares.
There was no way the king was ill. He was the type that considered his body to be the most precious thing on the continent.
Forget being ill, he was probably extremely healthy but just choosing not to take part in this speech.
Was it because of Harol and Toonka’s actions yesterday?
‘That can’t be it.’
This king cared as much about his dignity as he did about his health.
Such a king got upset at how Toonka threatened him yesterday and didn’t show up today? There was no way that would happen.
‘He’s probably just afraid of the Empire.’
Giving a speech here would be accepting a direct confrontation with the Empire and declaring war.
However, if he avoids giving a speech then there would be no official word from him, giving him an excuse to save himself from the Empire if the Empire won and charged into the Whipper Kingdom’s palace.
The king was giving himself a way out while remaining neutral, just as he had done for the war between the mages and the non-mage faction.
That was why Harol was extremely angry.
“…Vice Captain, do you know how this comes off?”
The soldiers were in a state of chaos.
They were going to war.
They were going to war to protect their kingdom.
They were going to war to protect this land.
But the owner of the land claimed that he was ill and didn’t even come to see them off as they went and put their lives on the line for their homeland.
He wasn’t even cheering them on.
What did that mean?
How would that seem to the soldiers and the citizens?
Did he think that the soldiers were idiots?
Anybody would be able to tell that the king seemed to be scared.
No matter how strong a warrior was, their morale would be broken if their leader was scared.
Both the king and the Vice Captain here should know about this.
Harol’s gaze turned as vicious as it had been when he had aimed for the Magic Tower.
Since he had always been crazy, he had no issues fully revealing that crazy side as he glared at the Vice Captain. The Vice Captain avoided Harol’s gaze as he continued to read what was written on the parchment.
“Ahem, although he cannot come to give a speech in person, he asked me to deliver the message that he is cheering for you.”
‘Cheering for us?
Not hoping for victory, but cheering us on?’
Harol could not believe it.
‘Damn bastard that deserves to be beaten to death!’
He thought that the king was even worse than the Tower Master of the Magic Tower.
Harol’s lunacy and cruelty started to be aimed toward the king. He seemed ready to kill the king right now.
However, he could not do as he pleased right now.
The soldiers started to whisper to each other.
There were many voices that were full of concern.
‘The soldiers are getting agitated!
Their morale was going down.
Harol started to frown.
‘I should have moved them all to Maple Castle right away if I knew it would end up like this!’
It was at that moment.
There was a loud noise that shook the ground. Harol then saw priest Cale pointing toward the top of the platform.
Cale was smiling.
Harol turned his head.
The person who had made the ground shake was heading to the top of the platform.
He stood on top of the platform.
He then started to shout.
“I am stupid.”
Cale chuckled and facepalmed.
A voice that was loud enough to drown out the whispers of the soldiers could be heard.
“I do not know any fancy words and my head doesn’t work very well. However, I do know one thing…”
The soldiers and knights all looked toward Toonka.
“Why did you all choose to follow me?”
The warriors were all natives who were ignored and called barbarians.
The soldiers were mainly regular citizens who were originally farmers.
They had followed behind Toonka in anger when they were fighting the civil war against the mage faction.
“Why did you hold up your farming equipment, clench onto rocks, and follow behind me?”
Toonka’s question filled the plaza.
It was different than the charismatic speech most leaders gave before a war. The choice of words was bad and he looked terrible as he stood up there.
Furthermore, his gaze seemed ready to pounce and kill anybody that bugged him.
Toonka was indeed angry.
“Why did we fight?!”
Why had the Whipper Kingdom’s citizens attacked the strong mages in a frenzied state?
The expressions on the faces of the soldiers who did not know what it meant to fight two years ago slowly started to change.
The chiefs looked toward Toonka.
Harol subconsciously walked toward Cale. Cale whispered to him in a quiet voice.
“This is a chance. Toonka doesn’t seem to realize it though.”
Harol heard the warm voice that was quiet to the point that only he could hear.
“This is your chance. It is the chance to get the citizens and soldiers to come together.”
The angry mob was reminded of how they had sought out blood while being in a state of frenzy.
A new gaze different than the angry crazed gaze from earlier appeared on Harol’s face.
Toonka and Harol.
They were the center of the non-mage faction and now the center of the Whipper Kingdom.
Harol could hear Toonka’s voice again at that moment.
“I will only charge forward this time as well!”
Toonka looked like the crazy tyrant that had drawn people to him in the first place.
The soldiers and warriors started to think.
This was their leader who only fought while looking straight ahead.
“Your opinions are not important.”
Yes, they had all followed him because they were charmed by Toonka’s style.
“Follow behind me.”
The soldiers’ and warriors’ eyes instantly got larger.
Their leader who always charged forward continued to speak.
“Chase after me.”
He was telling them to follow him.
These were the words of their leader who had brought them victory over and over again.
A state of heated frenzy started to surround the soldiers.
Toonka was extremely angry right now.
He was angry at the Empire and at the king of the Whipper Kingdom.
That was why he wanted to destroy everything.
However, Toonka had indeed changed.
His gaze headed toward one side. He could see Cale. He could see Cale smiling leisurely as he continued to speak.
“Do not worry about your back.”
Only look forward. Do not worry about your back.
Toonka was the same yet different Toonka from before.
His subordinates sent him their responses.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The warriors who seemed ready to charge into battle once more stomped their feet as the soldiers shouted out loud.
Other people might even have thought that they had all gone crazy.
– Human! Are we bringing the Bears and Flame Dwarves now? Are we bringing them to Maple Castle?
Cale nodded his head.
The frenzied mob that had scared the other nations of the Western continent had gathered together without thinking about anything else.
Cale processed the thoughts on his mind.
All that was left was to burn everything down.
It was at that moment.
– You want to make it into a sea of fire?
The fiery thunderbolt that had been in shock and quiet for a while after eating ten billion gallons suddenly shouted out.
– My heart is beating fast. What do I do?
‘…That crazy bastard.’
Cale ignored the fiery thunderbolt.