Chapter 61: The Emergence of a Hero (3)

Seeing the army’s formation being destroyed, Marquis Marius quickly turned to the Second Prince. 

“Your Highness, you must leave immediately.”

“Ha… you mean I should show those southern country bumpkins my back?”

When the Second Prince refused to retreat because of his pride, Marquis Marius clenched his teeth. 

“Your Highness, do you intend to follow the First Prince’s footsteps?”

“Ugh…”

The Second Prince bit his lips till they bled, but, using the First Prince as an example worked as intended. The Second Prince had clearly seen the First Prince self-destructing when he didn’t retreat because of his foolish pride. 

“Damnit, call back the entire army! We’re temporarily retreating!”

In the end, the Second Prince listened to Marquis Marius’s advice and decided to retreat. As soon as the order to retreat was issued, the rebels pulled out the remaining forces and began to withdraw. But Milton couldn’t just let that happen.

“After them!”

When the enemy retreated, that was the moment where military accomplishments could be maximized. Milton immediately advanced with his forces and attacked the retreating rebels.

“Don’t let the rebels escape!”

“Show the bravery of the Southern Knights!”

“Victory is right in front of our eyes!”

With their morale up in the sky, the troops continued to pursue the rebels until the very end, slowly whittling them down. 

***

“My Lord, it is a complete victory.”

Jerome returned with a smile after defeating the rebels. The rebels had suffered a devastating blow while their own allies had minimal damage. Milton gave him a radiant smile in response. 

“They’ve all worked hard, but tell them not to let down their guards just yet.”

Looking towards the castle walls in the capital, he continued.

“It’s too early to relax.”

As soon as Milton finished talking, the capital’s gates opened and someone on horseback came riding out straight towards Milton.

“I am Royal Knight Vian Brian. Reveal your affiliation and title.”

A Royal Knight was the elite amongst all the elites, but Milton responded without even blinking an eye.

“I am Count Milton Forrest.”

“Are you the commander in chief of this army?”

“Why do you ask?”

At Milton’s curt words, the Royal Knight’s face hardened.

“In order to defeat the rebels, all armies must be led by the Capital. So, you too…”

Knight Brian stopped mid-sentence. All the other knights around him were expressing a murderous intent towards him. This was because the adrenaline of the war had yet to pass and the knights who had yet to put away their weapons were emitting their bloodthirstiness. The Royal Knight felt like his heart was cowering in fear, but gritted his teeth and continued.

“I am a member of the Royal Knights. My words are the will and intent of the royal family. Or are you planning on rebelling against the country?”

The murderous intent of the knights did not decrease at the Royal Knight’s authority. Milton simply looked at him.

“You said you were Sir Brian?”

“That’s… that’s correct.”

“Right. Jerome.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

“Get him down.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

Without question, Jerome swung his sword at Vian.

Smack!

“Ga…”

Having the back of his knees struck, the Knight was forced to his knees by Jerome. And before he could rebel, the Knight’s head was pressed down by Rick’s thick arms. 

“What is the meaning of this?!”

Forced to his knees, Vian furiously shouted, but Milton didn’t even bat an eye.

“Since when has a knight impudently stared down at a Count of the kingdom?”

“Th— that’s because you…”

“I what?”

At Milton’s question, Vian looked as though he was biting back his words. He had intended to say, ‘you’re just a hillbilly Count from the South.’ But if he really said that, his head would probably be separated from his body for eternity. Normally, if you were a Royal Knight, even if you were just an ordinary leveled knight, you would be respected and held in higher esteem than the lower nobles. But of course, that all depended on the weight of the Knight’s personal authority. After all, Royal Knights weren’t actually ranked above a Count of the kingdom. So, technically Milton’s words were correct.

“……”

But Vian’s eyes were resentful as Milton cheerfully smiled at him.

“Seems like you have no intention of acknowledging your misconduct? Then, I guess I have no choice but to pass down judgment.”

Milton drew his sword and approached Vian. 

“What… what are you doing?”

“This is a war, and insurrection during a war means I can proceed without a jury.”

Milton raised his sword.

‘He’s…he’s insane?!’

Vian’s eyes were wide open. It wasn’t a bluff. Looking at Milton’s attitude, he could tell Milton was really committed to it. If you think about it, the man in front of Vian was the commander who had led his army to complete victory against the rebels. So if he really wanted to, he would definitely have no qualms chopping off someone’s head. Having come to that realization, Vian hastily cried out.

“For— forgive me.”

At that, Milton’s sword stopped halfway. Vian swiftly continued. 

“I made a mistake and gravely offended you while executing my duties. Please forgive me.”

In the end, Vian thoroughly apologized.

“Hmm…”

Milton stared down at Vian. Seeing Milton debating whether to kill him or to let him live, Vian sweated rivers down his body.

“Well, I guess I can let it go this once.”

Vian let out a deep sigh of relief once he realized Milton was willing to forgive him. He understood what it meant to be on the brink of death. 

“Thank you. Then I’ll…”

“But keep kneeling.”

“Sir? What do you…”

“You’ll have to.”

And all the southern nobles, except Milton, suddenly knelt. From the back of the army came a gorgeous wagon that clashed with the battlefield. Milton personally went to the carriage, opened the door, and reached out his hand to escort the person out of the carriage. 

“Please, come down.”

“Thank you, Count Forrest.”

A goddess came out of the carriage. Or so it seemed in the eyes of Vian Brian. A woman with dazzling blonde hair, perfect features, and a glamorous dress that seemed out of place on the battlefield came down from the carriage. All the southern nobles knelt at her feet and exclaimed in one voice.

“Greetings, Your Highness, Princess Leila von Lester!”

Princess Leila had returned with her true identity. 

***

“P— Princess Leila?”

Vian was dumbfounded and couldn’t do more than blankly stare at the person in front of him. Then...

“Ugh!”

Rick roughly pushed him down once again.

“Her entire title is Your Highness Princess Leila. Isn’t it?”

Vian hastily corrected himself at Milton’s warning.

“Forgive me. I didn’t… but how… no really…”

Vian was flabbergasted. Princess Leila was known as the princess of misfortune after dying seven years ago with her mother and her maternal brother. So how was she here, alive? But looking up at her face, she was the spitting image of her mother, Queen Irene. Leila glanced at Vian.

“I remember you. As a child, I saw you in the royal palace.”

“Yes, Your Highness… I once served as a guard in the Lily Palace. Then, I…”

“I am Leila von Lester. 

Vian gulped at her declaration. The princess who was said to have died seven years ago was in front of his eyes, alive and grown into a beauty. He couldn’t comprehend this impossible and unrealistic situation, let alone deal with it… As a mere knight, he wasn’t in the position to make any decisions. Seeing him perplexed, Princess Leila spoke. 

“Perhaps, my father commanded you to bring the commander of this army into the palace?”

“Yes, Your Highness. That… that’s correct. His Majesty the King plans to commend…”

“And then my father will take command of the army.”

“……”

He couldn’t answer her because she was correct. Princess Leila gave him a devastatingly beautiful smile. 

“Unfortunately, I can’t see my father right now. I’m sorry but we have to quickly pursue the rebels so I don’t have the time to enter the royal palace and leisurely enjoy a banquet right now.”

“Ha… but Your Highness.”

Vian tried to express that it was troublesome, but Princess Leila was unconcerned.

“Please tell this to my father.”

“……”

“That his devoted and filial daughter will be coming to see him soon.”

“……”

“Promise.”

With that, Princess Leila turned around and went back into her carriage. 

“Count Forrest, I leave the military in your hands.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

After politely escorting Princess Leila into her carriage, Milton shouted.

“We’re tracking the rebels and beheading the national traitor Byron von Lester! There’s no need for hesitation. Princess Leila, the legitimate royal of the kingdom is with us!”

“Wahhhhh!!”

The nobles and soldiers from the South roared back their approval. Listening to the cheering crowd, Vian the Royal Knight turned pale. 

* * *

“Wh… what?”

Having been informed of the situation, King August was dumbfounded.

“So you’re telling me… that Leila is still alive?”

“Yes, Your Majesty. I saw it with my own eyes.”

“And she led the Southern nobles to defeat the rebels?”

“Yes, that’s correct, Your Majesty. With Count Forrest leading, the Southern nobles seem to have already joined forces with Princess Leila.”

“And she left with the Southern nobles to pursue the rebels?”

“Yes, Your Majesty. So…”

“And you just watched!?”

Enraged, King August stood up shouting. 

“Forgive me, Your Majesty. I was incompetent.”

Vian prostrated in the middle of his report. However, nothing would change by getting angry at Vian. 

“Damn it…”

Deep in thought, King August sat down on his throne massaging his forehead.

‘If that child is alive, then she would have no positive feelings towards me or towards the entire royal family. If she came back with a strong military power…’

King August had a frightening thought. He had felt a sense of crisis when he heard reports of the Second Prince leading the rebels to the Capital. However, right now, he wasn’t feeling a sense of crisis but anxiety… No, it was closer to dread. 

‘If she hid herself for seven years and built up her strength… and her purpose was to avenge her mother and brother then…’

King August got goosebumps. If it was him, could he have done it? Could he have concealed his identity for seven years and gathered his strength all the while waiting for the perfect time for revenge? The answer was — no, it was impossible. Would an ordinary and sane person be able to do it?

“Stubborn girl.”

Although she was his daughter, he couldn’t help but think she might be a monster he couldn’t handle. 

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