This is my favorite chapter so far…
After some time passed , and the news about the fall of the crown prince in the previous war shook the entire nation. Some nobles tried to escape. Both the nobles and the Empire gathered their armies together inside the castle walls in a do-or-die resistance.
The Emperor, Aldebaran dor Granfang, was doing his best in detaining the nobles and the heavyweights who tried to spread chaos. Why? Why does this happen to me? The emperor kept repeating those words over and over as he failed to suppress the mayhem in his land.
He commanded his close aides to stop every general who wanted to go and ordered them to stay and protect the imperial capital. He decided to regroup the noble-empire combined army with the Raafu army before he could retake the imperial capital. Raafu city and the Empire’s imperial capital were connected by a highway. It will take 2 days by horse and probably 4 days for an army to march there. During that limited timeframe, he must do his best to survive.
He couldn’t rely on his otherworlders. The『Wei_Warlord』 was taken captive, the 『Dreadnought』 was killed, and the 『Hunter』 went missing. The only one remaining, 『Great Admiral』 was sent to a job at a distant place, asking reinforcement from him was impossible.
「Ukh…… If only I had another seed…」
Alone in his office, he mumbled in frustration.
Before the war, a traveling mage visited and introduced the otherworlder summoning techniques. And so, the enslavement collars were developed to force them to work for the empire. Using those enslaved otherworlders in a war, the Empire destroyed and invaded the neighboring countries. The southern countries were torn to ruins. Even the almighty Valentine Kingdom succumbed before their strength. Borrowing the mage’s power, the Empire even put the Leviathan under their control. The southern countries’ annihilation was just a matter of time. The next target was the Saint Drag Kingdom on the north.
However, their main navy was obliterated. Even the Leviathan got released. After the crushing defeat in the previous war in Raafu, enemies of the empire were popping one after another. It’s impossible to mass produce warships without the 『Great Admiral』’s ability. The only war-potential he had was the minimal army that he currently lead. Furthermore, it’s impossible to summon another otherworlder without another seed. He had ordered researchers to figure out what kind of seed it was since years ago, but the research didn’t bear any fruit, so there was no hope to reproduce the seed.
The emperor’s dearest granddaughter called him out, pulling him from the stench of desperation in his office. The child was the only living relative he currently had. The only one who didn’t know and hadn’t been swallowed by the horror of a war.
「Is it the truth that brother has passed from this world?」
「That is…… true. Alfred fought until the bitter end」
Of course, the Emperor had to lie. He couldn’t bring the news that her brother was butchered mercilessly during Barry’s mass murder spree. He wanted to at least pretend that Alfred fought bravely. The truth would be too heartbreaking for his granddaughter to endure. He also told her that it was a fight to protect the country. He didn’t tell her that they were the ones invading. The other nobles and heavyweights were given an ultimatum to tell her the same thing. Telling her the truth is punishable by death.
「Until the bitter end… I understand… I see that brother has embarked to reunite with father and mother…」
She seemed to be struggling to hold her tears, but her small hands were quivering. She was only 15 years old. No one would judge her even if she cried. But as young as she may be, she was still the princess. Even as the granddaughter of the crowned Emperor, she knew that she should not cry in his audience.
「Fuiria, the Empire isn’t safe enough for you anymore. I am going to arrange some trusted knights to aid in your escape. Now make haste, dear…」
The Emperor knew fully well that he has no chance of winning, even with the remaining tens of thousands soldiers he currently had. As long his granddaughter could survive…
It was the first time he showed a sign of weakness in front of his granddaughter, but he had no regrets. He himself may not have long to live, but Fuiria must continue living. He wished from the bottom of his heart that his granddaughter would survive.
「You must not do that, grandfather. If I go then grandfather wil-」
「「Correct… Thy must not do that, oh great Emperor」」
The emperor had heard that ominous voice so many times, it became familiar. He quickly scanned the room and found the hooded figure standing quietly right behind Fuiria. There was no sign that the door had opened, he just appeared suddenly. This person was a very important benefactor who gave him the summoning seeds.
「A-oooh…! It was you! Thank goodness!! W-we have lost the war… My country is in great peril!
Please! I beg you! Give me another seed! I’ll give you all the money you need!!」
He quickly stood, so fast that it shouldn’t be possible considering his age. His chair fell because of the shock. Then without hesitation or minding his granddaughter, he pressed his head on the floor.
「G-grandfather? And this individual is…?」
「Aah, this person. He is our country’s greatest benefactor. It is not an exaggeration if I say that he has saved our country countless times」
「I-I understand… but… he seems to be quite… frightening…」
There was something wrong with that man, something that she never felt before. The hooded figure didn’t strike her like a normal human. It was like he was… something entirely different. Her legs froze and were about to fail at any moment.
「「Your Majesty, please raise thy head. Rather than a simple seed, shall I bestow something even better upon thee? As long as this thing is being kept in thy possession, I shall bestow you enough power that even dominating the whole continent will not stay merely a dream」」
「S-such a thing exists!?」
The whole continent! Enough power to make my dreams come true!
The emperor believed him without any shred of doubt. Meanwhile, Fuiria was surprised when she saw her grandfather prostrating himself to such degree. But the fear that came from hearing those words greatly overcomes her surprise. For Fuiria, who lived her whole life without knowing the terror of war and battlefield, knowing someone having such power scares her more.
「G-g-grandfather… I must… umm… ah- S-shall I excuse myself……?」
She made haste to the exit. Quietly. In panic and absolute terror. Her action was very impolite. She might even get into trouble afterward, but she didn’t want to stay in the same room with the hooded figure any longer.
「「I’m afraid not. The beautiful flower suits thyself the best, after all」」
The hooded figure then released a tiny black mist and contracted her with the seed. She felt a sharp pain as her body was flung into the air. She tried to understand the situation, but suddenly a flower bloomed from her chest.
After that, a large number of thorny ivy suddenly grew and covered her entire body, it even began to erode the room.
「Fuiriaaa!!? You… How dare you!!!!」
The emperor took the ceremonial sword hung on the wall and swung it to the hooded figure. The strength and speed of the sword were comparable to when he was young, when he was fighting toe-to-toe with the King Roland from Saint Drag Kingdom. It was powerful enough to slash through steel like melting butter. And yet, a fingertip is all the hooded figure needed to stop the attack. The emperor put all his strength, even his life, onto that attack but the hooded figure just brushed it off like nothing.
「「Didn’t I say it previously? Enough power to dominate the whole continent. This beautiful flower shall devour all life on this land, and then, it shall consume the entire continent」」
「Then… Then I don’t need that kind of power! Release my granddaughter!!」
「「That is not something I can decide. Because you, your majesty, are now nothing more than fertilizer」」
「Damn yoー…! *cough* no…… my c-country… Fuiria…………」
The thorny ivy that appeared from Fuiria had corroded the room and encircled the emperor. It all happened before the emperor could realized it himself. The moment he realized it, the ivy had pierced him and sucked his life out. Nothing remained. Not even the blood, the flesh, or the bones. His body was completely absorbed by the ivy monster.
The thorny ivy destroyed the office door and corrode the entire castle in a terrifying speed. The ivy monster didn’t discriminate. The maids, knights, servants, slaves, and prisoners were all killed and absorbed as nutrient. Not only the castle, the ivy grew and spread and corrupted the entire imperial capital.
「There’s too many of these damn things! I need a hand here! Somebody come and he-Aaaaa!!」
「H…helb…… zomebody please…」
The growth became faster with each person it consumed. Not long after, the whole imperial city was covered in ivy. The church summoned a barrier and prevented the advancing ivy, but besides the church, everything else was destroyed. Even the army was crushed and consumed by the sheer number of thorny ivy.
Meanwhile, the soldiers, merchants, and fishermen who were at the dock noticed that something was wrong and boarded their ships in a hurry.
In the middle of the sea, they all looked at the royal capital, the place where they all spent their whole lives up until that moment. Not one of them could even speak a word. In the place where the royal castle should be, there exists something, the thing had spelled the Empire’s demise.
It was an ominous and shimmering gigantic tree, standing tall and towering above everything else.