My Servant System -
Chapter 258 257: Western Kingdoms Movements
Nirinia frowned as she looked down at the map, her jade eyes narrowed as she muttered "Two Justiciars huh..."
Tracing her finger along the map, the Djinn glanced briefly over at us as she began to speak, her serious tone making each of us listen closely to her words.
"A Justiciar is the Western Kingdom's version of our Knights. Of course, in a one on one, each of our Knights could beat their strongest Justiciar, so we still hold the advantage, but such potent and powerful fighters tend to be held in reserve... So for them to be pushing two of them forwards like this..."
Returning her gaze to the map, she muttered "This is a... days march, no?"
Adelina nodded, the Lioness grimacing slightly as she said "At the pace they're going, they'll reach these plains in a day and a half. Wether or not they rest before they reach here or rest when they get here is up for debate; both have merit, and they know that we know they have two Justiciars... they won't need to worry about us attempting to surprise attack them, that's for sure."
Sighing, Nirinia tapped her finger on the wooden table, before she looked up and asked "Do we know which two they are? As long as its not Julius or Cassandra I should be able to deal with one..."
The Lioness pursed her lips, saying "They were cloaked when they were traveling, but the weapons were easily spotted and reported. One wields a Zweihander, and the other..."
Biting her lip, Adelina glanced at Nirinia as she murmured "The other wields a Gladius and a Pugio."
Gritting her teeth, Nirinia cursed before asking "Have you sent word to the Capital then? Julius is above me, Adelina. As for the other, that's probably Matilda of Duurghaven, who I've bested before. We NEED a true Knight for this."
The golden haired Commander nodded, but she let out a sigh as she said "The problem is, even with their speed, our messenger still needs to travel around a thousand miles to reach the Capital, deliver the message, then return... Even with a well fed, swift Mare, the journey is long. The enemy will be hammering down on us by that point..."
Clicking her tongue, Nirinia returned her gaze to the map, scanning over the available terrain before gesturing towards the mountains at our back.
"So then we just pull back and fortify the mountain pass. They can't traverse the smaller ones for fear of losing swathes of troops, so they need to travel through Semita Pass! As long as we take the time to fortify the position, we could easily-"
Shaking her head, the Lioness sighed again as she interrupted Nirinia.
"Sadly we can't. The... backers of this campaign made it explicitly clear that we couldn't pull back. If we did, they would levy fines on the Legion, pushing us into the red. I tried to nullify that damned contract, but the loopholes and legal jargon made it an impossible task, and I'd need to have the troops return all weapons... Damned politics. They have their own troops scattered throughout the Legion anyways, but I can't determine who."
That made all of us frown, and Jahi stepped forwards and asked "Why take such a contract in the first place? Shouldn't the Empress be providing for her own Legions?"
The Commander smiled sadly as she shook her head, her golden eyes filled with regret as she said "She does; the Empress provides quite a bit, but nothing incredible. It's up to each Legion to figure out their own finances and situations; she set it up so that each of them would need to be self sufficient and creative. Most turned towards the larger Noble Houses to provide funds and support. We just... chose wrong."
Jahi's frown deepened, and the Demoness asked "Who did you chose? What Family is idiotic enough to bankrupt an entire Legion all because they made smart decisions?"
Taking a deep breath, the Lioness gave us a wry smile as she opened her mouth, her words stunning each of us.
"The Sariel Family was our most recent contractor."
Taking a deep breath, I let out a sigh as I glanced around at the others, who all returned my exhausted look.
"Seven days of marching, all to reach a battlefield..."
The others nodded, each looking just as weary as I felt.
Our violet and red gambeson were coated in dirt and grime, and we all sighed again as we hunkered down under our makeshift tent.
"Most likely, the Empire's sitting nice and cozy in that Semita Pass..."
I nodded to my squad mate, an older veteran named Gilbert.
"Aye, that would make the most sense. Semita Pass is the only place to funnel the entire army through, so we need to take it, no matter what."
Gilbert chuckled, and he glanced at Ferti beside him, the darker skinned man frowning slightly. 𝓲𝓃𝐧𝓇𝗲𝒂d. 𝑐𝐨ｍ
"Always hated uphill battles. Such a pain in the arse."
We all chuckled at Ferti's drab tone, and the dark skinned man gave us a wry smile.
"Well, to hells with it. Cheers lads~! To yet another campaign!"
Raising his tankard, we all cheered as we clanked our tankards together, knowing full well that this would be amongst our last opportunities to do so.
Taking a swig of the bitter dark ale, I smacked my lips together at the taste, which made the others laugh.
"Still find our ale to be too bitter for your sophisticated palate, Ryife~? Far more suited to milk or wine, huh~?"
Rolling my eyes at Gilbert, I managed to say "Piss off!" before someone opened the flap of our tent, making each of us freeze.
Staring at us from outside was a hawkish, serious man, the sword and dagger hanging off his waist emitting a freezing chill.
Scrambling to our feet, we saluted the man as one, each of us letting out a sharp "Lord Justiciar!" as we stood there, ramrod straight.
Looking us over, the Lord Justiciar just nodded, before his flat voice washed over each of us.
"You all will be ready to march in an hour, yes?"
"""Of course, Lord Justiciar!"""
Nodding again, the white haired man looked us over one more time before releasing the tent flap.
Standing there for a few more moments, we all let out a collective sigh of relief as we plopped back down onto the ground, exchanging fearful glances.
"So that's Justiciar Julius then? Damn, I thought my heart was gonna leap into my throat!"
The others nodded at me, and Gilbert sighed as he drained his tankard.
"Aye, that was him. Even for a squad like us, he's just... a different level. I doubt we could even leave a scratch on his armor in a life or death fight..."
I blanched at Gilbert's words, which made the older man smirk at me.
"I keep forgetting that you really are fresh out of the Program, Ryife. Aye, even us, one of the top Praetor Squads, could barely do jack all against Justiciar Julius. Sure, you might have sparred against Justiciar Gamma before, but..."
Sighing again, Gilbert looked at Ferti, who grinned at me as he said "Lady Gamma might be beautiful, and she might be strong, but against Lord Julius? There is no comparison. Remember, the Empire now owns a few former Justiciars of our Kingdoms, but even they meant nothing before Lord Julius. The only, and I mean only, person inside this Kingdom who can even harm Lord Julius is the King..."
Gulping, I saw that each of the other Praetor's were nodding, solemn expressions on their faces.
"W-Wait, the gap is just... that large?!"
Ferti nodded, and he smirked as he leaned closer, taking on a conspiratorial tone as he whispered "I heard that those new weapons of theirs? That special silver? It'll help bridge the gap between the Justiciars and the Knights. Apparently, the reason Lady Matilda is with us is because she wants to settle an old score of hers..."
I leaned closer as well, listening further.
The others were ignoring Ferti, since they knew the man loved to gossip, but they were still listening slightly to his news; the man got real, solid information from Gods knows where, but it was always true.
"There's this group of Nobles over there; that Asmodia girl and her group. Obviously, no Noble is left unattended, so they're traveling with a future Knight of Cinder, one Nirinia Radhi, a half Djinn half Orc. This Nirinia is the one that, allegedly, managed to beat Lady Matilda in a duel, one that-"
"One that I lost in, yes, but there are many differing variables to it, young man."
We all jumped as a mature, feminine voice entered the tent, and we saw a short, curvy woman standing at the entrance.
Her long black hair was pulled into a braid, and strapped to her back was a giant, wavy Zweihander.
Matilda of Duurghaven, the newest Justiciar, and the fifth strongest.
We all blanched again as we saw the second of the Justiciar's enter our tent, this one much more angry then the first.
"Aye, I lost that fight, but the damn bitch cheated. Besides, it was naught but a spar, a brief exchanging of blows. No one was truly fighting the other!"
As we stood up to salute, we all nodded rapidly, sweating bullets as the mature woman glared at us.
Placing her hands on her hips, she looked over the squad as she growled "How about instead of gossiping like a bunch of schoolgirls, you break down this tent and get ready to march! You're all supposed to lead by example! The other squads, be them Praetor or normal, are looking up to you to lead them!"
We all nodded again, before flinching as she shouted "SO GET MOVING!"
Her roar left us all started, and we began to swiftly pack everything up.
As we did so, I swear I heard the shorter woman mutter "Just you wait, you arrogant, double crossing bitch..."
Glancing at Matilda of Duurghaven, I shivered as I saw her voidlike eyes, her bone chilling voice entering my ears as she murmured "There'll be no escaping this time... not when we have some 'help'..."
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