90. Forces (3)
Oskal La Penrose, the greatest sword of the Rhom Kingdom. He was not only the commander of the royal knights, but also the head of the La Penrose family.
Count Benia pulled back in a hurry, and his knights quickly surrounded him in a protective formation. Despite having a powerful army at his back, he was nervous due to the presence of a single man. In an effort to hide the fact that he was scared, he tried his best to keep Pygni in his gaze.
“Why is Your Majesty here…?”
“You’re still trying to maintain formality? Well, fine. It makes no difference. But you’re asking why I’m here?” Pygni’s lips curled. He gazed at Count Benia with disgust, as if he was looking at a bug. “It’s obvious! I’m here to clean up the trash!”
Count Benia shut his mouth. He looked around his surroundings, spinning his soaked head in the rain. It was an empty field with no army in sight.
It might have been an ambush in the night, less visible due to the downpour, but there was no army whatsoever around Pygni. He didn’t even have any bodyguards.
‘This… is an opportunity!’
If he could enter the capital with Pygni as a hostage, he might take control of the kingdom without any sacrifice! If Pygni was formally executed, the nobles backing him would acquiesce and align to another king—the leader of this rebellion and the one that brought about this revolution. They would stand behind him…!
‘I, Benia, can be king!’
“…Aah, you must have thought, ‘I, Benia, can be king!’?
Count Benia, in his excited state, was surprised and turned to Pygni.
“What? It was true? What a simple-minded idiot!” Pygni mocked him, clearly looking down on him.
Count Benia grew heated under his gaze. He was upset that a concubine’s child was ridiculing him.
“Count Benia, don’t you think you’re getting ahead of yourself? It’s truly pathetic. Trying to be king with such a half-witted mind… If I do die and you manage to be king, it’s truly a chilling thought! It’s obvious how much the subjects of Rhom will suffer! So…”
“Benia, I’ll have to have you captured here to be brought up to the execution stand. If you’re put to death, maybe this nonsense about rebellions and coups d’état will quiet down.”
“Rebellion? Coup d’etat? This is a revolution, Pygni! The mere act of a concubine’s child sitting on the throne is foolishness itself! That alone shouldn’t have been permitted… but you stepped up to the throne by killing your own kin!? You, bastard, are the one that started a rebellion!”
“Haha! That’s why old-fashioned men won’t do. Still going on about concubine this and concubine that… What nonsense! It’s at these times that I’m envious of the Holy Kingdom. Some people are threatened for being the child of a concubine, but another child with no blood relations was appointed as a foster child and heralded as Pope… Why is the difference so severe? Isn’t that true, Oskal? Also, isn’t what that idiot said hilarious? He says that I killed my brothers to rise to the throne!”
Pygni raised his shoulders and shook his head in jest. He then glared at Benia.
“Even if that was true… I only returned the favor. It was them that started it… Count Benia. I don’t kill those that don’t try to kill me. Conversely, I don’t show mercy to those that wish to harm me.”
“Count Benia, you know that well, don’t you? The end of those that fight against me…!”
Count Benia’s lips remained sealed, as though he had lost his tongue. His face grew pale, and his nervous expression turned stiff. His siblings, who tried to kill him, were all brought to the guillotine and executed. Pygmy had even provided evidence of their attempts on his life.
Pygni even sought out the noble factions that had tried to murder him and pulled them out by the roots. The only one left standing afterward was Count Benia, who was manipulating people from the shadows.
‘…I’m the only one left?’ Count Benia’s eyes grew wide.
“… All of them were placed under the blade, and their heads went flying. Brothers and nobles too. However, I still haven’t caught the bastard who instigated them.”
Count Benia retreated with the reins tightly in his grip.
Pygni’s chubby face abruptly changed. His eyes grew sharper, and his lips curled. With a nasty smile, he opened his mouth,
“…And that trash is right here?”
Count Benia’s breath stuck in his throat upon hearing those words. He felt pressured by Pygni’s confidence and unfathomable leisure. He was definitely the one in the advantageous position right now. Around 200 knights were guarding him, and there was a force of 5000 soldiers behind him. In front of him were only King Pygni and Oskal. It was an overwhelming difference. But… But…!
‘Why am I feeling so nervous!?’
It was at that moment.
Benia returned to his senses and turned toward the knight’s voice, whose voice was stuttering in terror,
“It’s the enemy! A massive army! About 20,000 men!”
Count Benia turned around in a hurry. The soldiers were arriving from a distance through the downpour. In a cage formation, pikemen had formed a wall of spears around his army, with swordsmen and archers waiting safely behind them. They were inching closer with every passing second.
“Hahaha! Stupid! Stupid as expected…! He didn’t notice at all while I was talking? Hm? Hahaha!”
Pygni exploded in laughter.
“You have no right to lead an army, and even acting as a count is too much for you. Count Benia! How have you incited this rebellion without knowing how to look forward? You merely trusted your agents in the capital and moved your soldiers for an ambush? Haha! It’s truly a spectacle! To think that my brothers were mesmerized by such a person. I guess they were dumb as well. And, it’s truly a regrettable thing! To be manipulated by such an idiot!”
Count Benia gritted his teeth under Pygni’s taunts. He had operated countless rebellions in the shadows, but they had all ended in failure. He lured royalty and ordered nobles to attempt murder, but upon their defeat, Count Benia grew desperate and exploded, unable to wait any longer. He couldn’t waste the countless more years it would take, deciding to step up himself.
He led his army and planned to use the nobles he had persuaded to open the castle gates to capture the capital. However… events unfolded like this before he managed to reach his ambition. The rebellion failed, once again.
‘No, no. It’s still not time to give up!’
Pygni was right before his eyes! The king was here! The sacrifice needed for the success of this rebellion was here! Did he believe that he’ll retreat here!? Rather, he held the advantage in this situation.
“What will you do? Lord Count!”
The soldiers were getting stirred up. With their rear and sides wholly surrounded, the soldiers of the Kingdom of Rhom were fast approaching. There were simply too many for just the regulars here to repel.
However, the kingdom’s soldiers were advancing slowly. Under the cover of darkness, they had avoided detection by covering the sound of their approach with the rain. At the same time, they had to approach slowly from a distance while maintaining their formation. It would take a considerable amount of time to surround them completely.
‘Yes, in that window… I just have to capture Pygni!’
“Don’t falter, everyone! Pygni is before our eyes! It’ll all be over once we capture—”
“Aaah, you’re the same.”
Count Benia turned to Pygni in surprise. Pygni was leaning his head to the side while laughing at the count.
“I also think that if I capture you, the rebellion will be over?”
Count Benia turned to look toward Oskal with a pale expression.
The protector of the Kingdom of Rhom, the greatest sword of the continent, a member of a former Hero’s party that had slain the Demon Lord. The distance between him and the count was merely a dozen meters, and while they were talking, it had shrunk.
“…!? S-stop him! P-protect me! Protect me! What are you knights doing? The enemy has drawn this close already!”
Count Benia retreated in a panic, forgetting to order an attack altogether. He roughly pulled on his reins, which made his horse whine and fight back. The knights hurriedly wrapped around Benia to the best of their abilities to protect him.
“Haha! Look at him panic! What a clown! If someone like you became king… You’ll definitely run Rhom into the ground.”
Pygni turned to Oskal.
“Let’s wrap this up, Oskal.”
“Hm? Why are you so silent today? Huh… Aaah? Are you upset with me?”
Oskal remained quiet. Usually, he was a happy and dynamic person. However, he had been stubbornly upset for the past few days. The reason? It was simple.
“Aah, I got it. I lost. I lost. Okay… take it off! Take off that stuffy thing…! But, it’s just this one time!”
“Ung… It’s troublesome! I’m actually super anxious, you know? What if those bastards attack and get me! Shit, fine. Do what you want! I’ll talk to the generals. I don’t know if they’ll allow it, though… But it should be fine if I manage to persuade them. The knights of the Rhom are supposed to uphold the tradition of wearing their designated plate armor, but… who knows? You might be able to set a feat this time and overturn that 500-year-old tradition?”
Oskal finally responded. His head, covered by his helmet, carefully turned to Pygni.
“Only, within the kingdom… It’s for the excuse that we can’t see if it’s another country’s agent. Take off the plate armor, your uniform, or whatever you want.”
Oskal’s tone rose an octave. Pygni smiled at his response.
“Aah, fine. Do whatever you want. Excitingly, in a flashy way…! To all those that dare to hold their sword against me…! Cut them down!”
Oskal threw away his helmet and then gripped the space in between his armor and pulled it off. Next, he removed the royal armor of the Kingdom of Rhom—No, it was more like he tore it off. The armor crafted by the dwarves with mithril couldn’t withstand the pressure of his fingers, wavering and tearing like paper. At last, his body revealed itself.
Brown hair and brown pupils, a beard falling down his chin, and with an animated smile donning his face, he was an elderly man in his early 60s. Nonetheless, his overwhelming muscles were too developed compared to his face, as if they were forcefully condensed to fit in the comfortable leather clothes. Every time he moved his hands, his veins thrashed around between his skin like worms wriggling about.
His massive hand gripped his sword around his waist. It was a short sword, small enough to look like a needle in comparison to his body. As he pulled the blade from its sheath, it radiated light.
“I hear Your Majesty’s order…!” Oskal opened his mouth wide to shout at the top of his lungs, “I shall… cut down your enemies!”
The knights all screamed in terror at the spectacle.
“How does that make any sense!?”
Tearing apart a set of mithril plate armor…!? As they reflected on that, the eyes of the knights grew wide once more beneath their helmets. While they were staring at the torn mithril armor in terror, Oskal had already leaped before them.
“I will cut them down… in a flashy way!”
And he swung his short sword.
It was an explosion. The muscular horses under the knights flew up into the air. Dust rose within the monsoon, and blood—instead of the thick drops of water—began to rain down in every direction.
The knights yelled and retreated amidst the screams and mayhem around them. The shocked Count Benia also came down from his horse and crawled along the ground. Seeing this, Pygni raised his brows and shook his head.
“Hah… that idiot. I can’t tell if he’s broad-minded or just petty. Read the atmosphere a bit. He’s worried about some plate armor at a time like this…?”
Pygni narrowed his eyes.
”It’s better for negotiations when a situation becomes more precarious. Oskal, use that advice later!”
“…Ah, shit. I said that, didn’t I?”
Oskal had nagged him for the freedom, ‘freedom from armor’, for dozens of years. Knights had to always remain composed and wear the regulatory outfit designated by the state, especially so for a royal knight. As the rule that had been maintained over the 500-year-old history of Rhom, Oskal’s requests had been ignored. Still, he was able to get his way using this incident as an excuse.
‘Aah, how cheap. I was actually very nervous. My back is oozing sweat… and that bastard is laughing? Oskal?’
Pygni had been nervous this entire time, but it looked like Oskal had no such concern. He was merely enjoying his fight. Oskal was laughing as he approached Count Benia, who crawled along the ground to avoid Oskal’s bloodsoaked face.
His knights and soldiers rushed in to protect him, but they were all cut down and killed by Oskal’s sword. No one could stop his relentless charge. Oskal was confident that he could capture the leader of the 5000 rebels and protect Pygni.
“How is that bastard… looking stronger instead of weaker as he gets older?”
There were sounds of explosions and screams, accompanied by blood rain. Pygni frowned witnessing this and avoided his gaze. He didn’t have the stomach to watch it much longer.
“Your Majesty! Are you safe?!”
The knights in charge of his security had arrived and were heading toward him.
“Aaah, Oskal is here, after all. Then, I’ll return.”
Pygni twisted his reins. There was an army of 5000 men, but Oskal would be fine. If anything, the 20,000 men surrounding them would suppress them. Those that surrendered would be taken in as criminals, but all those that resisted would be killed.
Pygni yawned and drove his horse.
“Aah… I’m tired. How many nights did I spend trying to get Benia… I should sleep the moment I return.”
Behind him, La Penrose, the order of knights in charge of the king’s security and Oskal’s clan, followed him in full alert.
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