Firstborn: Return of the heir - Chapter 58
“There was a whole other group that we encountered deeper in the woods. I had to make a detour, we would be hit from both sides otherwise. With those scraps that I managed to gather, we wouldn’t stand a chance against their combined forces.”
Standing over the short row of seven bodies, Bloy’s tone was a mix of respect and anger. Even though all of those good men were Saulus’ direct subordinates, in the face of death, all the differences between the two of them moved aside. Because ultimately, that was the end result for all the soldiers, warriors of this world.
Standing right beside the relatively recent addition to Venna’s forces, Saulus had no heart to speak more. Even though he knew that something like this would likely happen, the reports arrived simply too late.
From learning about the potential attempts only when he woke up after returning to Mengia, through figuring out the plan on the spot, only to have it all turned on its head with Venna’s sudden desire. In order for any of the plans to be successful, only the veterans participating in it could know of the situation. And that meant Saulus frantically pushing the pawns around just to adapt to the already desperate situation once again.
If only they had more time…
“When is somebody going to tell me what the hell happened here?”
Even though she was pretty shocked by the deaths of Saulus’ men, Venna managed to keep her composure. In that regard, she was doing far better than her general, for whom those people were not just nameless soldiers, but long-time brothers in arms and friends.
For a moment, silence ensued. Given how he didn’t take direct part in the entire event, Bloy most likely preferred to leave the job to Saulus, who in turn was still agonizing over the loss of his people. But this situation lasted only for a short while. Before long, Saulus turned towards the queen with an angry expression on his face.
“Do you remember the moment when you woke me up after I returned? Shortly after that, I received the news that my people found some suspicious groups. The main guess about their objective… Was either killing or abducting you. So instead of waiting for them to hit us when we least expected it, I decided it would be easier to protect you on grounds we chose ourselves.”
Saulus once again laid his eyes on the bloodied corpses of his men.
“And you didn’t find it convenient to inform me about any of this?”
With her face torn between anger, disappointment and simple sadness, Venna backed away a few steps.
“Would you be able to act the way you did if you knew there were people hungry for your blood? This entire plan would only have worked if you took part in it without knowing that anything was about to happen.”
Saulus couldn’t blame his childhood friend for reacting the way she did. He would easily get furious if anyone dared to involve him in such a potentially dangerous plan without even bothering to inform him about it. Sadly, this wasn’t a situation where Saulus could allow himself even a shred of hesitation.
“If that’s the case, then how come we didn’t have much greater protections in place? Do you know what would happen if you… if I were to have gotten hurt in this fight?!”
Catching herself on the blunder right as she committed it, Venna quickly fixed her wording. However, there wasn’t a person near enough to hear it that would have any doubts about who the queen really meant there.
For a moment, Saulus considered telling her about all the reasons that he had for making this move. About how involving any bigger of a unit would have warned their enemies and resulted in the entire setup doing absolutely nothing. About how they were desperate for information about the enemy. About how he had to deal with the threat now before he had to leave for the frontlines due to the looming war. But in the end, Saulus decided against it. Just like on the battlefield, following his gut would often save his skin, and his insides were squeezing uncomfortably, ascertaining that sharing that news would be a bad idea.
“I didn’t expect this kind of attack. Even now I have trouble picturing just how they managed to gather so many men without being noticed.”
Rather than letting the girl know about all of this and all the other reasons that led to this decision, Saulus only brought his head down and apologized. Even though he wasn’t really at fault here.
For a long while, the silence lingered. Surrounded by Pleiades and Saulus’ bodyguards, it seemed as if Venna was scared of making any serious move or statement. But soon, the queen proved why she was worthy of wearing the crown on her head.
“General Saulus, your actions nearly lead to the harm of the very ruler of this country. Only due to your exceptional service so far will I be willing to let this blunder pass. The next time something like this happens, you will be deprived of your status as the chief general, in favor of someone… more cooperative.”
Throwing those words clearly out of anger, Venna didn’t bother noticing the sudden change of expressions on the soldiers around her. In just a moment, she made all of the remaining bodyguards look at her with clear hostility. Even the soldiers of the Pleiades gazed at her with surprise and bafflement, as if unable to believe she would do something like this. Only Saulus and Bloy remained stoically calm.
“I understand. It won’t happen again.”
Lowering his head without hesitation, Saulus responded in the way protocol dictated. Yet, instead of obedience and loyalty, his voice was now completely cold and deprived of all emotions.
“Now, get me out of here. If we don’t return soon, the people will start wondering where we disappeared to.”