Chapter 2 – Winter (Part 1)
Warning: This chapter has violent and gory scenes.
“Try calling me father.”
“Are you insane, Lord?”
I organized my army throughout the winter.
The tempers of the soldiers were fierce and violent. They couldn’t stand the sight of a 16-year-old broad pretending to be a general. Whenever I glared at them, the soldiers would quickly move to obey, but it was for that moment only. In areas with no watching eyes, the military personnel criticized Miss Farnese. Thanks to the witches having spread their familiars around, we were able to vividly listen in on the soldiers talking behind our backs.
Having recorded their words onto a Memory Play artifact, I allowed Farnese to listen to it in full. The soldiers referred to Miss Farnese as ‘human harlot’.
— We’re demons, but why is some human harlot crawling here and saying she’s going to command us? What kind of fresh bullshit is this?
— It’s raw bullshit. That’s what it is.
— But that young broad’s appearance is nice.
— Who goes to war to look at someone’s face? We fight to take the necks with those faces attached to ’em. Even if that human harlot memorized a couple of lines from an art of war manual, I doubt even small-fry officials would be intimidated by her after hearing that she read some books.
— Who knows? All of our heads might go down after being pushed down by her hips and hearing her moan.
The privates laughed loudly. We could also hear the objurgatory nagging from someone on the side telling them that trying to score a broad, one that his highness Demon Lord had already had his way with, was a dangerous action. However, it was not said in a way of speech where they were reproaching them seriously. It was said in a joking tone surrounded by jest. Listening up to that point, I closed the artifact.
“What do you think?”
“It seems the soldiers are recklessly saying whatever they want while not knowing anything about this young lady.”
Farnese muttered with an emotionless face.
“This young lady has never shared a bed with your lordship. What troublesome people.”
That part wasn’t the issue.
A little bit more, how do you say it? Is there not a more important problem lying dormant? If I were to point it out in more detail, then there’s the fact that your military command is not receiving even a seedling of respect. Despite having heard my comment, Farnese’s face was still devoid of emotion. She did not even turn her gaze towards me, but instead, silently continued to read her history book. While reading her book, Farnese muttered.
“It is not possible to take apart and fix a problem within an army with ease. Them being unable to simply accept an outsider, in other words, means that they are already firmly tied together on the inside. Since they are sturdy on the inside, they will not lightly fall apart when facing the enemy. They are elites.”
“If this young lady were to slit the throats of the centurions and decani, then the sturdy army will fall apart from the inside and descend into being a mere crowd. The captains who cursed at this young lady would be cut down, and their positions will be filled by fellows who are good at flattering this young lady. Instead of captains with ability, captains who are good at bootlicking will end up receiving preferential treatment, and that is not correct. An army is a body of people that is essentially tied together by both the inner and outer workings. This young lady fears the foolishness of remodeling the outer layer only to have the inner layer deteriorate.”
I carefully examined Farnese’s complexion.
Despite having heard the vulgar words spat out by the lowly privates, there were no signs of her showing any resistance towards it. The only thing that was there was the sight of her contemplating what she was going to have to do in order to properly manage the privates while treating them not as people, but as tools.
Laura De Farnese was a psychopath.
Nevertheless, she was a clever psychopath.
“Would it be permissible to leave all of the military commands to you?”
“Did your lordship not retrieve this young lady from the slave market in order to let her reign over your troops? It is fine for your lordship to not worry. Military affairs are this young lady’s task. Since it is an issue confronting this young lady, this young lady shall manage it herself.”
I knew that my concern was unnecessary.
With the intention of finishing this conversation with a test, I reprimanded her.
“Would military affairs be managed just because someone like you says they can handle it?”
“Your lordship’s words are rather aggressive. Instead of using words to instill fear into this young lady, use a goal to light a path for her.”
“I shall give you one month. Within 30 days, have control of the military discipline. If you are unable to uphold the big talk you have just now made, then I shall lash you for the crime of thoughtlessly flapping your mouth.”
Farnese still did not remove her gaze from her book. Since I had harshly opened the path in front of her, it was time to softly support the path behind her. I asked her allusively.
“Is there nothing I can help with?”
“Please assign the witches’ familiars to this young lady. This young lady shall use the familiars as her eyes and ears, and utilize them to examine the things which this young lady cannot see or hear.”
“An easy request.”
“Why did your lordship say that you would become this lady’s father?”
“The privates are disregarding you because you are a child of a human. I figured that the contempt towards you would lessen if I were to adopt you as my daughter.”
Farnese collected her gaze from her book. She was finally looking towards my direction, but for some reason, her eyes were full of suspicion. It almost felt like she was treating me as food waste.
“That is quite indecent. Those words may not be wrong, but your lordship’s way of thought is pitiable. In the entire world, what lord would try to solve a military affair through adoption? Although this young lady has felt it before, but your lordship is a bit insane. You are at least not normal.”
Why do you care!?
You’re the psychopath!
Farnese submerged herself into the inner layer of military affairs. Farnese laid down her bedding at the side of the quarters where the soldiers rested and played. The general resided wearing the uniform worn by privates, a single set of a mat and blanket, and a poor quality bowl. She was planning to live alongside the troops.
The captains flocked to me and complained.
— It is uncomfortable since the general had abruptly entered our area.
— Since the general is nearby, even when we’re receiving breakfast with our bowls, before we can get our portion of soup we end up glancing at the general once. While peeking at the general, we end up chewing the meat in our soup one less time. Since we are frequently being mindful of the general, we often forget to chew, therefore, we have no energy after our meals and easily have upset stomachs. They say that people shouldn’t bother even a village mutt when it’s eating, but how are we expected to fight properly when the general is interfering with the meals of the subordinates? Please understand.
— Please understand, your highness.
I scratched my forehead.
I see these bastards are small-mindedly throwing a fit over their meal. They are sullying my name. Since you guys are rattling on like goats, I shall behave narrow-mindedly as well. Let us see how you bastards cope with my angered performance.
Taking a deep breath, I unloaded words like a round of bullets.
“Are you all discussing domiciliary before the king? So be it then. I shall inform you all of your domestics. All of the food which you all shove into your faces every morning comes from me. The dinner you all stuff inside yourselves and the shit that comes out of your bodies, all of that comes from me. When your swords are broken, who will you go to in order to request for them to be fixed? Who will seek for the blacksmith? Who will obtain the horse and wagon to load the weapons onto and send to the blacksmith, and who will provide the food and accommodations for the coachmen who will be traveling back and forth? I am the household manager. You ungrateful fellows. I am telling you that I am your monarch. Just because you feel slightly uncomfortable by the fact that you have to be a bit more mindful and chew a bit less, you came all the way to my premises to make a fuss?”
I grabbed the wooden pillow which I was using for my nap and threw it at the captains. Once the wooden pillow hit the floor and bounced, the captains’ spines shivered. The captains lowered their heads further.
The mannerism of speech I used when handling Demon Lords and the tone I used when dealing with military captains were distinctly different. I did not allow them to run far away by needlessly behaving high and mighty in front of the captains . Instead, I lowered myself to their level and made them sink their heads while being unable to move an inch. That was my stratagem.
“These ignorant fools.”
— Your words are immeasurable, your highness!
— We are to blame, your lordship!
— Our thoughts were short.
“Good. Seeing that you all are able to apologize with such ease, I will not make you repent deeply. Laura De Farnese is the general giving military commands in my stead, she is the acting general. Wherever I am not, she is your monarch. The reason why I am not punishing you all right this instant is not because I have accepted your apology, but because I want you all to go to the acting general and finish your apology. A mistake which occurs within the army must be forgiven by the general.”
— But, your highness.
— We fight with the strength given to us by our food. If we are unable to eat our meals properly, then.
— We do not mean that, but.
I drew a sword.
“Should I personally assist in making your meals go down your throats with more ease?”
At that moment was when the captains finally fled. Since their steps felt more feeble than refreshing, I chased after them. The captains were surprised and let out a scream. I picked up the wooden pillow and tossed it once more, and since I was gifted as a pitcher, the wooden pillow hit the exact center of the back of a captain’s head. The captains escaped. And like so, I covered for Farnese.
I trusted Laura De Farnese who was destined to be the greatest commander in the continent like in the original history.
Sure enough, after 4 days, Farnese figured out the problem within the army. While wearing the military uniform meant for privates, Farnese came to inform me.
“The irrationality within the troops is immense, lord.”
“What kind of irrationality?”
“If there is a regimental commander, a centurion, and a decanus, then that is sufficient. Despite that, the regimental commanders give their duties to the centurions, the centurions give their duties to the decani, and the decani give their duties to the privates. In the end, the privates take care of everything within the army. Even the privates, having become tired of this, distinguish the high and low among themselves. The low privates then spread the bedding for the higher privates and do their laundry.”
“An issue that is prominent in any military.”
“Privates should fight like privates and centurions should fight like centurions, and yet, why are they ordering around others just for the sake of making their own lives easier? This young lady, who is the general, should be the one commanding the privates, but since there are so many superiors who are making the privates do things, it is as if they have several generals at the same time. There is no chance military command would be able to gather together as one and pervade deeply within an army of this sort.”
I spat on the floor. My throat often felt parched because it was winter.
“Can you solve it?”
“This young lady shall crush it with ease.”
I preferred to leave irrationality as it was and manipulate it appropriately, but it seems Laura De Farnese was the complete opposite. Enduring irrationality or bearing with her alone, I considered which side would be more convenient.
“Very well then. Perform as you wish.”
“This young lady shall perform for your lordship’s goal.”
Farnese started to handle the military discipline more severely.
From this point on, be it captain, veteran, or newcomer, regardless of one’s rank or experience, Farnese established a rule where everyone must manage their own livelihood by themselves. She stepped forward on her own. Farnese washed her uniform by herself and personally cleaned her own military boots. One day, when a private brought her meal for her, Farnese told him off in a loud voice.
“Put that away. Do I not have my own arms and mouth?”
Farnese did not eat at all on that day. Once the commander cast away the bowl, the soldiers did not know what to do. From that day on, the sight of privates presenting meals for the veteran soldiers disappeared.
However, at this point, it had only vanished on the outside.
Something that dissipated on the outside was bound to hide deeply on the inside.
During an ambitious night, the veteran soldiers secretly gathered the privates and abused them. Using the familiars, we were able to listen in on this sound of violence flowing from the corner of the encampment in real-time.
— Hey, get your heads straight you bastards. You think that human harlot is going to live in our quarters forever? She’s the type of bitch to leave in half a month. Once she does, you guys will die by my hands.
— Think carefully about who is truly taking care of you guys. That human harlot is someone like his highness and not people like us. I’ll give you an honest advice, stay in line.
— Yes, we understand!
Be it here or there, the repertoire is quite the same—.
While I was turning my ear towards the audio and receiving a feeling of longing, Farnese muttered beside me.
“……I see they are challenging me to see who will win.”
It may have been just my imagination, but that appeared like a slightly angered face. Since it was rather rare for Farnese to show any emotion, it was intriguing.
Since that day, Farnese began to go on night patrols.
She did not wander around openly but feigned it as a coincidence whenever possible. For example, pretending to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and swooping in on violence that was occurring in a warehouse, or pretending to wake up because of a presence and examining the backside of the quarters. It was an obvious trick. Of course, there was no tactic that worked as efficiently as an obvious trick. Think about it. It’s the commander appearing out of nowhere from the darkness. The privates could only be frightened.
“What are you all doing?”
The senior officers who were mistreating the privates could not respond.
With an emotionless face, Farnese announced.
“I see. People who do not sleep when required to sleep must fight quite well when required to fight. I am relieved that you all form a strong army as one. The senior officers over there, follow me.”
Farnese made the senior soldiers do manual labor. Giving them each a pickaxe, she ordered them to dig. Since the earth had hardened due to the cold, the ends of the pickaxe were unable to pierce the ground. Looking at the impenetrable dirt, the soldiers made a fire in order to melt the ground. After lighting the fire, they dug down until a low mound was piled up in the barracks. Farnese looked down at the soldiers and gave another order.
“Well done. Now fill it back up.”
The officers poured the dirt, which they had dug up in vain, back into the pit. It took a whole 4 hours to dig and refill the hole. The ground had returned to being flat. Towards the veteran officers who thought their work was finally over and were wiping away their sweat, Farnese spoke coolly.
The faces of the veteran officers turned blue. For half a day, the soldiers repetitively dug and filled in holes. It was labor with no reason or goal. Since there was no goal, the end could not be seen, and since the end could not be seen, they could not endure the current situation. They most likely wanted to die. It must have felt like they were digging up their own graves. While keeping my hands behind my back and standing afar, I watched Farnese cheerfully torment the veteran soldiers. Speaking truthfully, it was pleasant.
— Please kill me instead.
— Us humble ones have made a mistake, general!
The officers lowered their heads to the ground and bowed. This must have been the first time that Farnese was referred to as general by the soldiers. Farnese, with an expression as transparent as water, looked down at the soldiers.
“Why would I end your lives? No one cherishes you all as much as I do. Stop your chatter and continue digging.”
Farnese raised the edges of her mouth. Since she was still not used to making facial expressions, Farnese’s mouth twisted very strangely. That was more terrifying.
“Or do you perhaps want me to give you the hole on myself? Do all of you think you could satisfy me with those limp dicks of yours?”
The soldiers wailed out.
After that day.
The miss rose from being a normal harlot to being a wicked harlot.
In the past, the sound of voices saying ‘that harlot!’ in a ridiculing tone rose high into the air, but now, the voices uttered ‘that wicked harlot……’ in a vexed tone and sunk down low. Sounds that resonated high dissipated quickly, while the sounds that permeated low spread out wide.
A joyous occasion this was, quite joyous.
The captains came running to me once more. Different to before, their tone was greatly intense. An acute urgency could be felt. All of the captains now referred to Farnese as Miss General. It may have only been the single word ‘Miss’ being attached to ‘General’, but there was overall a lot of meaning there. For example, a meaning on the level of ‘that crazy bitch’ was inclined there. Was this not impressive progress?
— Since Miss General interferes with the soldiers not only during the afternoon but during the night as well, the youngsters are unable to sleep properly. Even if we lack energy after our meals, we can still fight with that emptiness. However, how are people to fight without sleep?
— This does not come from an art of war manual, but from life itself. People should read books based on life, but if someone were to live their life based on books, then would the world not be upside down? Even if Miss General’s knowledge is profound and she were to have read every book related to tactics in the nation, life is a separate matter. Lowly people like us live in life and have no other choice but to continue living in life. Please understand!
I motionlessly listened to the words coming from the captains. After hearing everything, I went to the warehouse and brought a pickaxe. It was the same pickaxe the senior officers had swung until they collapsed from exhaustion. I then spoke.
“I see your words are quite profound so they pierce an exquisite principle. Let us test how deep your bodies can be buried in the ground.”
The captains fled.
The month after, irrationality was completely suppressed within the troops. The custom of the centurions taking the wages of the decani, and the decani taking the wages of the privates disappeared. The tendency of loaning the money they’ve taken from others, and conspiring with outside peddlers and panders to sell items for an exorbitant price, also vanished.
Farnese was a vicious girl. The more that this fact spread out among the troops, in contrast, made the sounds of soldiers pointing towards her and calling her a wicked harlot shrink down. At one point, instead of a wicked harlot, the voices of people praising her as a general who thought of the privates before others, flowed throughout the army. This was most likely around the time that the 11th pit was created in the barracks.
The captains reacted sensitively towards the mood of the privates. Like how humans would automatically perceive the smell of flatulence, the captains understood the privates’ temper.
The captains read the atmosphere and obeyed the commander. They must have been afraid of the consequences for coming to me to complain unreasonably since the captains went around cheering ‘Hooray for Miss General Farnese!’. Captains that behaved as if they would lick the soles of Farnese’s feet crawled around. Among them, one fellow actually did try to put saliva on Farnese’s toes and was kicked.
What adorable fellows.
Finally, the remnant group of individuals known as decani and senior officers remained.
These people were unable to throw away the pleasure of extorting money from the people below them. They were better than the privates but lower than the captains, so they were fellows similar to that of neighborhood thugs. These people lacked the political capability to react appropriately to the state of affairs like the captains had done. The senior officers tried to protect their authority and territory.
When the senior officers mistreated the privates, they went far. They dragged the privates out to one of the most remote warehouses in the encampment. A mouse, that was the familiar of a witch, eavesdropped on the voices leaking from the gaps on the wall.
— Hey, bastards. Who’s the one that brought you bums from the village and enlisted you to the army? I’m the older guy that lived next door. You guys were born in the village first and not in the army, right? Then you guys should treat your seniors from the same village with respect!
— We may live in the unit right now, but when we die, we’ll do so back home. If you guys keep ignoring your seniors, then do you think a single mourner will show up to your funeral? Do you think that wicked harlot will go out of her way to arrange your funerals? She’s the bitch who’ll order you to die, not a bitch who’ll take care of you after you’ve died.
— Hey, don’t ignore us. We’re all saying this in consideration of you guys. Besides, no matter how much you scream here, that harlot won’t come.
Farnese threw open the door.
“Yes. I am here because you called.”
The soldiers screamed and fell to the floor. I could hear the sound of materials collapsing clamorously with a crash. I asked Farnese later on, but apparently, the soldiers were gazing up at her as if she was a ghost.
“It is fine to look forward to it, gentlemen. Let us dig holes properly today.”
The senior officers were forced to unearth dirt for 2 days straight without sleep.
At last, military discipline stood upright. The soldiers took care of their own domestics by themselves. If it wasn’t an official order from above, even the privates did not obey them thoughtlessly.
On the final day of the promised 1 month, Laura De Farnese discarded the uniform meant for privates and donned the military uniform for commanders. After washing herself, Farnese came to visit me with a clean body. Farnese’s skin was whiter than the snow that had just fallen onto the earth, and her voice was as clear as the sky which the snow had fallen from. I was not unaware of her intention to appear like the snow and sky while before me. Regardless of whether she knew that I understood her feelings or not, the small troublemaking psychopathic girl said shortly.
“This young lady hereupon reports, that she has achieved your lordship’s goal. ”
So much self-pride and smugness could be understood by that shortness of words.
I wanted to compliment this girl. I wanted to acknowledge the hard work she had gone through by staying up throughout the night chasing after senior officers, consoling the new recruits, and doing all of her laundries with her own two hands. I gestured for Farnese to approach and softly brushed the hair of Farnese who had drawn near with an ivory comb.
“Well done. Would you like a drink?”
Farnese did not try to gain adoration from her troops. Farnese desired for every individual soldier to fear her. Instead of the courage to rush at the enemy, Farnese highly regarded the dread the soldiers would feel by disobeying the supreme commander. This was, indeed, different compared to me. Unknowledgeable on the method of obtaining fear, Farnese came and asked me.
“What should this young lady do to make the soldiers fear her, lord?”
“Well. You do have a rather pretty appearance, so that may be difficult.”
“Would they be afraid if there was an unseemly scar on this young lady’s face?”
“Damn it, this ignorant child. How could you think so one-dimensionally? Think a bit more respectably.”
“Only your lordship and Miss Lazuli are the ones to call this young lady ignorant……”
Farnese became sullen. As of late, Farnese had been receiving education from both myself and Lapis. Compared to me, Lapis taught her much more harshly. It was obvious that this small room girl, who lived her life believing that she was a genius, would be low-spirited if she were to be ill-treated frequently. Feeling some sympathy, I spoke indirectly.
“Should I inform you of a good trick?”
The next day.
Farnese purchased 15 hunting dogs. The waists of the hunting dogs were slim so they appeared scrawny, but the color of their fur was marvelous. They were a breed commonly raised by imperial families and royal families, so they were remarkably expensive. The dogs did not leave their master’s side even for a second.
— I see Miss General adores dogs.
— Raising hunting dogs is a good hobby. They can smell the scent of the enemy and pursue them, so it’ll be convenient for us too.
The soldiers gathered in small groups and chewed on dried meat. Though they tossed some of their dried meat for fun, the hunting dogs did not turn their gaze towards it at all.
Farnese personally acquired food and fed the dogs herself. The dog food looked more luxurious than the food people ate. Some privates joked that Miss General fed the mutts better than them and chuckled. After seeing the sight of Farnese providing a sumptuous meal for the beasts, some people claimed that they were delighted since she finally appeared like a young girl, while others were worried that the commander’s selfish interest would disturb the military order. With half delight and half worry, the soldiers stared at the luxurious dog food with envy.
The time for my army to go to war had arrived. The troops, who had warm sleep and ate till their stomachs were full, had clear eyes despite the winter season. 3,500 dwarf infantrymen, 500 centaur cavalry, and 50 witches hired from the city were standing on the winter field, waiting for the general’s speech before our departure. There were people gathered around the outskirts of the field, but they were all peddlers and prostitutes. These types of people lived with busy feet by constantly following behind anywhere armies went.
While holding a formal-dress sword, Farnese went up onto the platform. There was no decoration so the blade was small. Since the appearance of the weapon was light, it well suited the miss’ body figure. The hunting dogs followed their master all the way up the platform. The dogs then silently stationed themselves around her.
Farnese unsheathed her blade. Hearing the sound of metal, the hunting dogs looked behind them. The clear-blue sword slit the long neck of a dog. Blood burst out. The other dogs did not react at all. Farnese killed all 15 hunting dogs, and until the very end, not a single one barked. Blood soundlessly flowed down from the platform.
The soldiers all held their breaths. They did not dare meet the commander’s gaze.
People would fear the general who had mercilessly slaughtered the hunting dogs which she had raised so preciously, they would fear the silent general whose face was expressionless during the entire slaughter, and they would also fear the fact that that sort of general was merely a 16-year-old girl. They would especially dread the intentions behind the general who had gone out of her way to slaughter her pets, which she had treated with care, on the day the army was departing. While glancing at the decapitated heads of the dogs rolling around, the captains rubbed their own necks.
Laura De Farnese spoke.
The troops obeyed.
Farnese turned the dead hunting dogs into dried meat. It was a week’s distance from here to the location where the other Demon Lords planned to gather their armies. For one week, Farnese chewed on the jerky made of dog meat and drove away soldiers with her gaze.
On one of the days, a river was not entirely frozen so we had set up camp at a ferry service to rest. There was a small village located next to the ferry service. I issued a military command and forbade them from pillaging.
Around the afternoon, three soldiers were caught. They were criminals that had surreptitiously trespassed onto private property to steal from and rape the women and children. At the time I had heard the report, I was enjoying tea in a back room with Farnese and Lapis on both my sides. The tea warmed my insides. Lowering my teacup, I gazed at Farnese.
“Since you are the general, you decide the punishment.”
“I wish to execute them.”
After taking a slight glance at Lapis, I turned back to Farnese.
“Is execution not excessive?”
“They are people who have disobeyed the military command. Additionally, they are also the first offenders. This punishment will decide how retribution will be carried out within the army from now on. This young lady wishes to handle this with severity.”
Lapis broke into the conversation and asked quietly.
“What method of execution will you carry out?”
“In order to establish an upright regulation within the military, their heads must be severed and put on display. This young lady shall behead them.”
Lapis asked again.
“I asked how you planned to do it, miss.”
“What do you mean by how? Is it not over once their heads are on display?”
Farnese’s shoulders twitched because of Lapis’ admonishing words. After the day Lapis had vowed that she would become the mother, she frequently scolded and affronted Farnese ever since. Lapis purposely behaved cruelly like Farnese’s biological father, who had trampled on her childhood, had done. Farnese had trouble dealing with the Lapis who behaved like this.
“The people are like weeds. They will stand back up no matter how many times they are trampled. Among those weeds, hired soldiers are the most tenacious. The soldiers will not lower themselves just because the heads of three rapists have been cut off. However, that is if you do not certainly implant fear into them beforehand.”
“Then what does this young lady……”
“Think of that on your own. Is the object attached to the miss’ shoulders not a head but a tin bucket? Why are you unable to think on your own and coming to me for help?”
“If you are truly the general, then there is no need to confide in me or his highness. Previously, you relied on his highness in order to buy the soldiers’ fears, and you are now trying to purchase the soldiers’ dread by confiding in me. You will one day have to repay the debt that you have borrowed from his highness and myself, and the name of that price will be nothing less than your incompetence. If one were to count the number of times you had borrowed the hands of others from here and there, then the amount of competence which you lack will surely be immense. Miss, I do not wish for the misfortune of the debt you had piled up due to your own lack of skill, being repaid by his highness instead.”
Farnese became silent.
I did not get in between these two. If I were to interfere now, then Lapis would be ashamed and Farnese would feel humiliated. In order to allow my two vassals to exchange with one another and, in their own way, establish a distance, I stayed silent.
After contemplating for a long period of time, Farnese muttered.
“This young lady will personally take the sword and cut down the criminals to……”
Farnese lowered her head.
The cheek which was hit had become red.
“……I do not know. Miss Lazuli. This young lady does not have the faintest idea.”
Lapis struck the other party’s cheek with more power than before. Farnese cowered. She became miserable like a crinkled wrap of aluminum.
“You did not know from the very beginning. Despite that, you made up a response and hoped that it would coincidentally be the answer. If you were to confess from the start that you did not know, then you would not have been hit, and if you were to have maintained the attitude of trying to figure out the answer until the very end, then the occasion of you being hit would have been non-existent during this time as well. Your dishonesty represents your petty self-pride and your lack of effort represents your incompetence. With what face is a person who is both petty and incompetent sitting here comfortably? Leave immediately.”
Farnese was chased out of the room.
In the room where only Lapis and I remained, it became silent.
We poured each other tea. We observed the sight of milky-white steam rising up from our teacups.
Even if more tea were to pile on top of itself, the tea remained transparent and did not become cloudy. Tea with a slight tint of color was more transparent than plain water with absolutely no color. Transparency was obvious in something that started off with no color, but for something to have color and be transparent enough to see the bottom of at the same time, was both clean and divine. We desired to educate Farnese like this tea. Lapis and I did not consider the act of turning Farnese into plain water or leaving her as so, as education. We regarded the process of cutting, grinding, brewing the tea leaves, and then finally pouring the brew into the teacup, to be education. If I bestowed color to our daughter and Lapis brewed her, then Farnese would naturally bear a fragrance and emit it on her own. It was an artificiality that processed nature, and it was an artificiality that uncovered nature as well. We did not treat someone who had their thirst for authority castrated and tossed away as an adult, and we did not respect a child who did not know how to handle their authority. We were cold people.
After raising the cup before me and placing it on my lips, the tea was already cool. While drinking that cold tea, the two of us spoke to one another in a low voice.
“How would your highness have dealt with the rapists?”
“Mm. The main point of this issue is providing the fear of punishment to the soldiers. The more distinct the punishment is will make it stronger, and the more obscure the dread is will make it more powerful. It must be clear-cut on one side while giving a feeling of uncertainty on the other. That is the best solution.”
“A logical response.”
“If it were me, then I would have castrated the genitals of the criminals and pierced a hole in the spot where their genitals once were. After that, I would bring an untamed orc or goblin and make them violate that hole. With this, the point becomes clear that rapists will receive rape in return, and the soldiers will feel fear by the aspect of a hole being created by force and having said hole be violated. Therefore, the troops will feel the dread of penalty all the way to the inside of their skulls.”
Lapis nodded her head once more.
“That is remarkable. Except, it would be more outstanding if you were to also carve their eyes out and insert their testicles into those empty sockets. That way, you could include the metaphor which warns them to not commit a crime while blinded by lust.”
“A splendid idea.”
It was my turn to nod this time.
“Since the metaphor envelops the distinctiveness and obscurity, the penalty will be even more apparent. Furthermore, you won’t be throwing away the severed testicles, and will be recycling them instead, so that makes it more beautiful.”
It was a tacit understanding. The two of us had no reason to not love each other. I understood that the term ‘a match made in heaven’ was not an exaggeration after having met Lapis.
“With how much points does your highness assume the miss will solve this task?”
“I wonder. I feel like she will narrowly fill 30 points.”
“Your highness is generous. This one is predicting 20 points. This one still does not understand why your highness has such a favorable opinion of the miss. Whether she truly does have talent or not, this one is unable to judge it as so.”
“She does indeed have an ignorant side to her……”
I smiled bitterly.
Regardless, our assessment was purely limited to the domain of politics. The realm of tactics was something entirely different. Our aptitude for the art of war was either completely non-existent or incredibly minimal. Even Lapis should have slightly realized by now that Farnese was a genius in regards to tactics.
“A terrifying monster lives over the mountains and in the land of humans. Farnese is the sword to defeat that monster.”
“……Puzzles are not this one’s specialty. A monster? Just what kind of person is he for your highness to refer to him as a monster?”
I gulped down the rest of my tea.
“That is incorrect. It is a she.”
The ringleader to exterminate the Demon Lords within 30 years.
In this world lay a girl who would hire a humble sword wielding farmer from a slash-and-burn village, and then proceed to send that villager out as the vanguard of war with the title of ‘hero’. In this world lay a girl who would crush enemies who persisted, dust away enemies who yielded, and pull back enemies who fled and tossed them aside. If there was a cruel person who did not change one’s manners after killing nobles or feel sympathy after slaughtering their own subjects, then there was also an empress who would annihilate all of the Demon Lords and establish a united empire.
— Do you know how this world ends?
As the result of all the Demon Lords disappearing, all magical energy in the world will lose its current and cause it to overflow, until finally, it results in the collapse of the world. The mastermind to be the first person to open the doors to a unified continent while also being the first person to destroy the world at the same time, was currently living in this world as a young imperial princess.
Elizabeth A. E. von Habsburg.
In order to face her, Farnese was essential. If the imperial princess possessed the sword known as the hero, then I possessed the blade known as Farnese. I carefully savored the taste of the tea in my mouth.
Grow quickly, Farnese.
Hurry and mature, oh Farnese.
We are living in order to not die.
One hour later, the execution was carried out.
Farnese had made a hole in the ice on top of the river. The three culprits were dropped into that hole. However, they were not submerged completely but only to the point where the water reached their chins. The miss ordered the witches to refreeze the river. The offenders’ bodies were then completely trapped in the ice water with only their heads sticking out. Farnese bent her back and met their gaze.
“They say that an old monster lurks in this river. Do well to endure.”
The faces of the culprits became deathly pale.
The fiends living in the water swam towards the men. The shadows of beasts stirring underneath the platform of ice could be seen.
The offenders screamed and flailed, and at the same time of their rigorous movement, the monsters rushed at their lower bodies and began tearing it apart.
— Please spare us!
— We apologize, oh great general! I plead you!
Little by little.
Underneath the ice water, the beasts ate away at the men’s flesh a small portion at a time. The monsters ripped the feet of the criminals with their teeth, tore the flesh on their waist, and gnawed away at their lungs. As time passed, the screaming weakened. A stillness fell over the surrounding. The thousands of soldiers who were watching the execution were silent. Only the heads of the criminals remained above the ice, while below the platform of ice, a crimson color spread out and dyed the water.
Farnese glanced down at the sight of blood spreading below her feet.
She then lifted up the heads of the culprits. Since their bodies were already completely torn apart from their heads, their heads came off from the ice with ease. Farnese examined the faces which were frozen in a pained expression and muttered like a judge who was grading the work of a 3rd rate painter.
“This is not appealing. The shape of their heads is unsatisfying.”
Farnese tossed the heads to the captains.
“Hang them up.”
The heads of the criminals were impaled onto rods and put on display in the center of the village. The word ‘Rapists’ was carved into their faces with a knife. Blood trailed down the blade mark. In the middle of that night, the cold became so severe that the blood drops froze.
The next day, the soldiers put the severed heads behind them and crossed over the sheet of ice. While stepping over the ice, the soldiers frequently glanced down below their feet. It seemed the thought of the decapitated heads was still being harbored in their minds respectively. After that day, there were no more soldiers who went against the military order.
Unbeknownst to the troops, Lapis and I made an assessment.
“See? 30 points.”
“It appears like 20 points to this one.”
Farnese only chose one option in the fear of penalty. There was no preciseness in the punishment and only obscure dread was filled to the brim. Since it was only filled with ambiguity, punishment had no form, and without a form, it was unable to exist by itself.
Farnese’s punishment could not reach as far as punitive measures. Now, the officers would only fear the Farnese who had enacted punishment. Like a child who was afraid of their parents. Whether it be a person of authority trying to manage politics with fear, or a parent attempting to break in their child with dread, these were common mistakes committed by people. It was not a surprise that a horrible parent was also a terrible person of authority. I scoffed at the individuals who tried to properly run a country when they were unable to manage their own household early on despite using the method of Confucius and Mencius.
Lapis let out a sigh.
“Your highness, this one is frustrated. At this rate, she will be unable to grasp a single thing even if 5 years were to pass.”
“What do you suggest?”
“This one shall remodel her from the root. If the miss is unable to grasp logic herself, then should we not inject reason into her ourselves?”
Lapis’ eyes were glowing coldly.
—Rote learning was born here in this moment.
Lapis educated Farnese more strongly.
In an area out the sight of the soldiers, Lapis hit and trained Farnese. Lapis did not have the tendency of complimenting the other party. Without any praise, she taught Farnese how to not lower her head, how to not stutter her words, how to not dishevel her facial expressions, how to not slouch her back, and how to not ruin her gait. Lapis spoke quietly.
“Look straight. Speak straight. Walk straight.”
Farnese learned while being hit. After being beaten for 4 days, was when Farnese was barely able to prepare a single speech. Lapis had also taught her how to properly angle her gaze, where to direct her stride, and where to stress her words. Finally, while in front of the gaze of the soldiers, Farnese gave a speech.
— Conserve your courage. Do not try to charge in courageously whenever possible. Conserve your mercy. Do not try to bestow mercy to others whenever you desire. Conserve your lust. Do not try to grab and rape a broad or lad whenever you crave it. The courage you have when fighting alongside your colleagues is not bravery. The mercy you hand to our enemies is not benevolence. The lust you release to your companion is not craving. This major general despises soldiers who act courageously when they should not, show mercy when they should not, and rape when they should not.
— This general desires for the courage of you gentlemen to be used solely for taking the necks of the enemy, for your mercy to be used solely for forgiving your colleagues, and for your lust to be used solely for taking the families of the enemy. Hold your courage, save your mercy, conserve your lust, and devote your terror and dread to this general. In return, you shall all receive the terror and dread from every foe in the world as tribute.
The soldiers cheered.
Only the soldiers cheered.
After the speech was over, Lapis gave an evaluation.
“30 points. Put in the effort to be able to improvise that level of speech from now on.”
Farnese turned to look at me. Her face was still emotionless, and yet, for some reason, a desire for redemption could be felt from her eyes.
I smiled brightly.
“10 points. It was a pathetic speech. Be hit more.”
“Even your lordshiiip……”
Farnese fell to her knees on top of the snow.
Farnese was most likely unaware of the fact that in the areas where she was not, Lapis and I discussed the miss’ education methods throughout the night.
We are a bit of an excessive couple, my daughter.
Be it for a good reason or bad, Farnese was experiencing growth befitting the general of a Demon Lord.
The soldiers following Farnese were completely becoming the Demon Lord’s army.
Miss Farnese reigned over the military as the general, I took care of the army as the monarch, and Lapis supported the military camps as the adviser. Miss Farnese led the soldiers with terror at the front, I held the soldiers together with benevolence at the center, and Lapis put the soldiers at ease with thoroughness at the back, that was our state of affairs. There was no gap between the three of us. We gained merit from each other respectively and interlocked firmly like the characters 凹凸. Strategy–Personnel Administration–Logistic Command breathed together as one body.
Among these, if we were to talk about Lapis, who was handling the logistic command, she was mostly following at the very rear of our march while leading the material supplies. At the back of our army, there were not only wagons, but peddlers, panders, and prostitutes crawling around. It was Lapis’ duty to supervise and manage the rights of these people.
She was heartless.
The lover who was cold-blooded to me and cruel to Farnese was what kind of person Lapis Lazuli was. There was no chance that that kind of Lapis would take care of the peddlers generously.
By the time Farnese had executed 2 soldiers, Lapis had already beheaded 20 peddlers. Lapis did not forgive the people who disturbed the trading area. She gruesomely punished anyone who committed the conduct of scamming the soldiers. Lapis determined the severity of the punishment by the crime committed, and carried out the punitive action on the same day the verdict was decided.
Lapis’ ruling was always short.
“Slit your throat.”
“Sever your limbs.”
“Cut open your stomach and display your internal organs.”
The verdicts were easy to understand and had no room for misinterpretation.
The horrifying truth was that the method of punishment was solely execution.
Execution by beheading was somewhat on the merciful side. The breaking wheel was the second best option after beheading. The slightest bit of one’s dignity was at least preserved up to this point.
You could at least look at the corpse and say, ‘So this guy was a goblin’, or, ‘So that guy was an orc’, by identifying the shape of their body.
However, whether it be skinning alive the procurers who treated their prostitutes like slaves and stole their pay, or ripping out the internal organs of peddlers like a bunch of noodles for unfairly gaining profit from soldiers who were lacking in the head, there was no dignity here whatsoever. There were only blood red entrails.
Lapis was cold-hearted.
If there was a single mistake on the directory then someone would, without a doubt, die on that day. Even if the numbers matched the list, as a person whose previous job was a merchant, she noticed the deception and made certain to kill the one responsible. It was impossible to fool Lapis who used to be a peasant that had risen up to be an executive in the Keuncuska Firm.
Since the soldiers at the front were afraid of General Farnese, and the suppliers at the back were terrified of Lapis’ punishments, both the front and rear of our forces were tranquil.
The voices of people disregarding Miss Farnese by claiming that she was a human harlot, disappeared. And the scornful words which spoke ill of Lapis by calling her a vulgar half-breed peasant had also vanished.
All I had to do was stay idle.
Even if I messed around, the march of my army progressed with no issue.
While our journey went on for a week, the captains uttered in surprise that it was the first time in their lives to experience such an easy march. Normally, an army would lose energy the further they went and their aim would weaken, but his highness’ army gathered strength the more we walked and our goal became clearer, so they were able to understand what the term Royal Grace truly meant because of this, was what the captains stated.
I, who was actually comfortably doing nothing, nodded my head in response. All I had to do was give their wages on time, occasionally punish the ones who embezzled the money, and the soldiers would cry out, ‘Hooray for his highness Demon Lord!’, on their own. Farnese and Lapis were the ones’ doing the hard work, but I had the monopoly of all the praises.
Referentially, this is the method of winning in life.
And like that, a week passed.
An open field was spread out before us.
With a ‘clang, clang’, the sound of a frozen brook being broken resonated. Soldiers were holding tools and pounding on the ice. Past the men, a countless amount of tents were lined up.
The stream flowed for a distance before our vision of it was blocked by tents. It continued flowing while in its hidden state and came out in a whimsical place somewhere else to continue flowing. At every spot the brook came out, 10 goblins were attached and were smashing away at the ice. This scenery extended out all the way to the horizon.
Farnese examined the horizon with her eyes.
“Approximately a massive army of 60,000……”
The dark blue skin of orcs, the green wrinkled skin of goblins, and the sturdy gray skin of trolls crowded the military encampment. It was swarming with color. All kinds of miscellaneous things were mixed together and squirming around like an ant’s nest. Those fellows had set up their own world over there.
It was a world that I didn’t really want to squeeze into. I wished to decline politely. I was a bit too young to accept something that was being crowded, being swarmed, and squirming as beautiful.
“Would it truly be 60,000? Those goblins over there are not wearing clothes so they are most likely servants and not troops. This is worrying……”
“What are you concerned about, lord?”
“Since they have freely mixed the soldiers who fight with the servants who aid, there is no possibility that their military discipline will be stern. I fear that the number of soldiers may appear many, but that, in truth, their worth does not match their quantity.”
While staring at the lineup of the Demon Lord Allied Forces, which had gathered here to suppress the humans, Farnese spoke. It seemed she was overwhelmed by the number of tents covering the field.
“But is it still not a grand spectacle?”
“This magnificent view is indeed grand.”
2nd month and 12th day.
We arrived at the promised field.
TL Note: I swear if someone says they’re dropping the series cause of the dog scene.
Anyway, I should clear something up that isn’t distinctly explained. Some people might think that the dog killing wouldn’t possibly have that much of an impact on the troops because of how quick it was, but if you pay attention to the time frame, Laura was in possession of the dogs for about a full month. The Walpurgis Night from the previous chapter ended on Dec 7th. If this chapter started right after that was over, then Laura got rid of the irrationality in the troops by Jan 7th, 30 days after. She then went into obtaining fear, which was getting the dogs, and the dispatch day was Feb 5th, 7 days before they arrived at the field. So in my opinion, 1 month seems like a decent amount of time.
But that could just be me. And besides, you can just be optimistic if you want, and say those dogs were really old, so they were going to be put down soon anyway. That way, it’d mean that Farnese gave them a cause before they met their fate. What a kind girl… (Dantalian will most likely laugh at this optimism)
Before ending this TL note, here’s a note for some of the readers who seem to always be confused. Don’t skim Dungeon Defense. A lot of the things that people ask or criticize the story about is answered if you read the story properly. So yeah. Stop rushing through.