Chapter 346: Erwin's Return 3
The Baroque Empire didn't show any signs of backing off from the civil war.
The noblemen, who had lost the first battle in the Lourdes plains, prepared massive armies in the west and the south.
The neighboring noblemen all gathered around the western army of Duke Butler and the Southern forces of Marquis Mayers.
As a response to that, the Emperor called in the eastern army while he himself went ahead with the Central Army to fight against Duke Butler.
It was already expected that a full-scale war would take place. However, that didn't seem to happen.
It was because the Gigants' movements were severely restricted due to the heavy rains, which suddenly struck the lands and created a sludge around the battlefields.
Eventually, the troops on both sides were forced to go back to rest, and only the soldiers of both sides were able to fight offensively.
The rain continued until the next day.
It was as if God himself didn't want for a war to happen between both factions.
Thundering noises could be heard a lot because of the vast lands around the Emperor's camp, and then came the angry voice of Emperor Rudolf.
"What the! Only half of the forces have come from the eastern army?"
When Emperor Rudolf asked, Viscount Maguel who had been replaced for Count Voltas answered, "A-all of a sudden the Holy Empire was crossing the borders, so they said that they couldn't send their entire forces."
After the voting went against them in the Imperial Parliament, Count Voltas fell.
He was purged for the crime of not being able to overpower the noblemen and stop them from turning offensive toward the Emperor.
Viscount Maguel had become the new advisor, and the man knew that he would surely have the wrath of the Emperor if he tried to make himself look good.
"The Holy Empire invaded the eastern border? Is this their revenge?"
"I-I think so too."
The fact that Emperor Rudolf had secretly supported Duke Ferrierd in the civil war of the Holy Empire had been spread throughout the continent.
Naturally, the Holy Empire came to know of it because of the hearings.
Perhaps, they began to interfere in the Baroque Empire because they wanted a chance to take him down in case a civil war broke out.
‘Kung, if that is the case, I need to overwhelm the noblemen and defeat them all at once!'
Rudolf began to plan on trying to concentrate his forces in one place and defeat all of the noblemen at once.
It was because he wanted the skilled ones to stay behind and clear the entire forces once it weakened.
However, the plan was filled with loopholes.
"What are the dynamics of the Holy Empire that invaded?"
"There are more than a hundred Gigant troops that we still haven't identified yet and tens of thousands of troops. The problem, however, is the person who is leading them…"
"Arch Duke Gregory?" Asked Rudolf.
"Ah, no. It is Belik, the thunderstorm."
The lord of the Holy Empire, which had crossed the eastern border, was occupied by Luke's Albertville estate.
Keeping the name of Belik the Thunderstorm, the man went back to the estate and repaired it. He also doubled the power with the support forces sent by Arch Duke Gregory.
And the forces managed to invade the eastern side of the Baroque Empire.
Of course, Rudolf came to know about it.
"Belik is still alive? Why would he even be in the Holy Empire?"
"I was told that during the rebellion in the Holy Empire, his son, Lev, gained merit. And perhaps, he called for his father…"
The eastern army had a Sword Master, however, that would be of no use if he went against the man who was a Master when it came to Gigantic duels.
From what Rudolf knew, the only man who could go against the man from the Holy Empire was Arch Duke Gregory.
"We can't help it. Tell them to avoid an all-out war with the Holy Empire regardless of what tactics they use. In the meantime, Count Ferrero will leave with troops to keep them in check. And during that time, I will lead the troops from the eastern army and the Knights of Guards and defeat the western army."
"I do believe that the Knights of Guards are strong, but would they be able to defeat the western army?" Asked Viscount Maguel with a concerned expression.
Only half of the eastern troops had come for support, and a number of noblemen's troops had joined the western side, including Duke Butler.
Victory still couldn't be guaranteed even if they win since a huge amount of damage could be expected.
However, Rudolf wasn't just trying to increase his command by hurriedly ending the civil war.
His eyes were still wet with the death of all his children, yet to the others, his eyes were still colder than ever.
"Of course, we can win. There is no need to worry. I am not going to stupidly insist on a showdown," said the Emperor.
"Do you have any secret forces?"
"Kukuku. You will know when they come."
Rudolf smiled the sneakiest smile.
He had been planning the perfect scheme to destroy the noblemen, and it was time to execute it.
"By the way, there was a strange rumor spreading around."
"What was it?"
At the question from the Emperor, Viscount Maguel seemed a little hesitant.
"Well, yesterday we heard from the Knights of Guard from the capital that the lord of Rakan is secretly holding hands with a group of warlocks."
Not that long ago, there were rumors spreading in a few areas, including the capital.
It was a story about Marquis Luke—a descendant of the Warrior Rakan who has earned the reputation of a Rune Knight and had outstanding skills.
However, the problem was that the content of the rumors were absurd.
"I too think that I heard that rumor. It seems like someone who holds a grudge against Marquis Luke is the one spreading it."
If one looked into the matter, it made no sense.
"However, the descendant of the warrior who was in an accident with a Gigant ended up discovering the Devil King's book and learned dark magic from it!"
"Using that power, he defeated his enemies at the Battle of Lords and later met with a warlock from Dark Moon, and they combined forces to devour the Baroque Empire."
That was what the rumor was about.
Since it seemed like some fantasy novel story that freed the people from their daily lives' strain and stress, Viscount Maguel didn't believe those rumors.
‘They could at least make something up that makes more sense. Why would the descendant of the Warrior touch dark magic? And even if he did master it, will the retainers and the priests of the territory acknowledge him?'
If the Lord of Rakan did touch dark magic, the retainers would be the first ones to revolt.
However, the Marquis of Rakan was still as silent as ever.
"Right? But this is quite fun," said the Emperor.
Their enemy in this civil war were the noblemen.
However, the Marquis of Rakan would never side with the Imperial family, so Rudolf had to take down the noblemen and then deal with the Marquis of Rakan.
‘I'll get rid of every person who will try to block my path!'
The intelligence agency had reported that Luke was seriously ill and could barely manage to survive from the poison inside his body, yet Rudolf had no intention of leaving him alone.
"Tell the intelligence agency to spread this rumor more."
At the order from the Emperor, Viscount Maguel seemed flustered.
"I am telling you to exaggerate the rumors about Rakan's lord and spread them more!"
"Yes, I understand, Your Majesty."
Trembling, Viscount Maneul went out of the tent to relay the order to the agent from the agency.
‘KuKu, just wait a while, once I am done with the noblemen, I will come straight for you.'
Rudolf smiled thinking about how Luke looked the last time he met him.
However, he wasn't aware.