The Girl Who Ate a Death God Chapter 15 / Chapters List

The Girl Who Ate Death Chapter 15: Even Rotten Fruit from a Distance Looks Delicious

One of the causes for the Kingdom's decline could be said to be its harsh taxation. The wealthy who lived luxurious lived were one part, but the majority of the Kingdom's citizens were comprised of peasants who were especially oppressed. Violent tax collectors would frequently turn up and take away what little property there was. Punishments would even be dispensed on people who could not pay the established amount. Same if they refused conscription. The peasants of the Kingdom were all sick of it.
Even so, the people who would rise up were few, since they had grown accustomed to being oppressed. Despite being under deathly hardship, despite all the people who would starve and die, they would not kill. But, when danger to one's life actually approached, anyone would take up arms.
Humans were not ones to silently submit their necks. They were not going to be victims.
What had changed the lamentations of these men to seething rage was a single event.
—-It was the Tenang Rebellion.

Having emerged victorious in the battle a few days ago, the Royal Capital Liberation Army moved headquarters from Salvador Fortress to Branch Castle Antigua. They had also done so as there was the appeal of gradually drawing closer to the Royal Capital. They assimilated the surrendered soldiers and expanded in scope. They had also taken possession of Sulawesi Grand Bridge. Currently, they were capturing every fortress and town in the Belta area. Then, if Belta Castle where David had secluded himself fell, the Central Border Zone would completely fall under Liberation Army influence. It would solidify their weak foothold in the area, and it would become increasingly possible to launch an invasion in the Royal Capital's direction.
As the Liberation Army continued to win consecutively, the might of their officers and men would rise in tandem. Though they had paid the price of not a few victims, for the sake of the oppressed citizens, they would voluntarily throw themselves into battle. Everyone embraced the hopes and dreams of their young symbol, Princess Altura.

—-Branch Castle Antigua Conference Room. Military officers and civil officers were arrayed.
Here, topics relating to military affairs, financial affairs, government and diplomacy were debated, and where Altura would give her ruling. As they were currently expanding their sphere of influence, there were a mountain of challenges. What they were discussing now was regarding the aftermath of the Alucia River engagement.

"—-In the other day's battle, is it true that there were many civilian casualties? Why did Borjek have to die?"

Altura depressedly inquired. Colonel Borjek served long before she had raised an army and was an extremely helpful man, always taking care of her. He excelled at leadership and was a military man she could place faith in. She wanted to fight with him. She wanted him to watch over her.
The generals who happened to be present at the time were also making grieving faces. To that question, Tactician Diener reported that it was the "Truth."

"Yes. The the weaponless civilians who were taking refuge in the back were attacked by the Kingdom's cavalry. Having launched a surprise attack, that group of the Kingdom began to overrun them, gunning for only the civilians. Deciding to obstruct this atrocity, Colonel Borjek departed for the front, and though he boldly fought back, he was killed in battle. However, due to his noble sacrifice, he was successful in saving many civilians. Colonel Borjek absolutely did not die a meaningless death."

At Diener's words, the military officers showed expressions of indignation. Those guys were a disgrace to all military men, they thought. The Kingdom was rotten to this extent!?, they thought.
One group of people of course noticed that the "Truth" had been distorted when it was reported. But, they did not speak up. They reasoned that it wasn't all lies.

"......Diener. You said there should be no injury to the people. That is why I approved your dummy soldiers plan. Then, how did we end up with this kind of result?"

"I did not think that a commissioned officer of the Kingdom would take the initiative and target only the citizens. They hunted down only the weak, and their figures enjoyed themselves slaughtering as they pleased. It was like the work of a beast. They probably do not have any pride left as knights. It was completely my mistake, I, Diener."

Naturally, he had expected the possibility that there would be victims amongst the civilians. If his plan went well, he would hail the civilians as heroes. If they were caught in the crossfire and became victims, he would call it a tragedy. It would promote morale, and he would use it as material to spread groundless rumors, he schemed.
It was a definite truth that they, unarmed civilians and citizens of the very Kingdom, were killed. He would take that "Truth," mix in some exaggerations, and disseminate it, further circulating the Kingdom's bad reputation. He had already given his secret orders and released his agents into the Belta area. The fruits of his labor will show sooner or later.

"Give the families of the victims liberal remunerations. They cooperated with our dreams and lost their valuable lives. We have to surmount their sacrifices and realize our ideals. Diener, please help us."

"Sir- leave it to me. I will give the bereaved families suitable recompense."

"......Next report."

Hearing Princess Altura's words, a civil official plainly read aloud documents.

"A request for aid has come from a farm village under Liberation Army influence. It is a request saying they want goods and provisions as they are in poverty. ......There are many more identical to this one."

Many texts telling of wretched conditions had come addressed to Altura.

"Diener. Do we have any surplus goods?"

Lines of sight turned to Tactician Diener, who responded without a change in expression.

"There is no way we would have that amount of surplus, however we can not just overlook them. After all, the great cause that we stand for is to overthrow the current monarchy and rescue the suffering people of the Kingdom. That future will absolutely not come to those who cannot care for those below them." Or take advantage of them.*

"Then, urgently give them charity. Show them the morality of our Liberation Army. As soon as possible, we must have the incompetent Kristoff off the throne."

"I do understand. Please leave the matter of goods to me. We have received no shortage of support from the Empire-as a consequence of the Princess never wavering and betraying her faith."

Many civil officials fixed their eyes on Diener with a look that asked, 'just what are you saying?', but, Altura showed no signs of noticing their behavior. If one were to talk about the civil officials, all of them knew that they had no surplus with their current finances. As they had just put Belta under their influence, their tax yields were not extremely high. It would still take some time until the chaos died down and they put a system of government in order.
Diener ignored the glances coming from the group of civil officials.

"I am begging you, Diener. I will be pushing hardships on you."

"Those words alone are enough for me, Diener."

Diener closed his eyes and lowered his head. Seeing that, Altura augustly nodded.

"Are there any other reports?"

"..........."

"Then, we will conclude here today. If anything happens, notify me immediately."

"—-Sir-, understood."

When Altura left her seat, the generals saluted and followed after her. Left behind was Diener, still sitting in his seat in the conference room, and vice commander of the Liberation Army, Prince Alan.
Alan approached Diener's side, and spoke in a small voice.

"......Diener. You, are you planning on doing that again? Do you really think this is correct? You don't know when Altura will find out."

Alan was being notified of Diener's activities from a unit of agents of the Empire. It was not a matter that could be disclosed, and there was a strict gag order on the participants. Those intelligence agents were Alan's proteges, so he could trust them. Of course he was not informing his homeland, the Empire, since in the future, it would become a weakness.
But, if it ever became intolerable, he planned on overthrowing Diener and banishing him. He could not let him become a cause of ruin for the Liberation Army.

"Absolutely, I am paying careful attention so that I do not get noticed. I am only allowing my own mercenaries to execute it. As long as they get paid a large amount of money, they will not say anything. They in fact will enjoy doing it."

He did not know how many hamlets they had attacked. They would plunder while disguised as Kingdom soldiers. They were originally humans who resorted to robbery. Gleefully, they were endeavoring in their duty. It ended at just pillaging; they had been instructed for the time being to not kill if possible.
Because in the end, these villages would enter under the control of the Liberation Army. Their labor was valuable. If his mercenaries grew too impudent and couldn't stay their hands, he would just get rid of them and hire the next batch. It was a very simple matter. Mercenaries were not the Liberation Army's companions, just disposable pieces.

"..........."

Alan was silently listening.
Diener apathetically continued his talk.

"Moreover, I cannot make goods appear out of thin air. The world is not so generous. No matter what means I have to use, I will absolutely must obtain them. For the sake of our expanding Liberation Army, and for the sake of supporting the citizens entering under our jurisdiction. To bring about a time of peace requires an initial investment. These are emergency measures until we can expect steady tax revenue. ......Nevertheless, this ought to be the last time."

Calmly, but quickly, detailed Diener. The Central Border Zone was from the start a fertile land. If they raised the morale of the peasants and created an appropriate government, it would surely become wealthy. They could also expect commerce with each bordering nation.
They would remedy the excessive tax rate, perform a clean sweep of government officials and feudal lords lining their own pockets, and conduct a thorough reform. The Liberation Army had enticed them, guaranteeing their social position, chipped away at their political power, and stolen their power to resist. When they noticed they had been deceived, everything would be over probably. The Royal Capital Liberation Army had taken drastic measures in their duty to wash away the accumulated pus.
However, to accomplish this, they needed tremendous support from the people, otherwise, it would all end as a pipedream.
An impetus was needed to change the people's hatred towards the Kingdom into support for the Liberation Army.

"This time will be the last? What do you mean Diener?"

"If we take complete control of the Central Border Zone, there will no longer be any need for these troublesome matters. Also, this final "Commodity Procurement Operation" will be the straw that breaks the camel's back for Belta Castle. Having suffered a crushing defeat, this right now is the greatest chance to erase the Kingdom's authority over this region."

Diener spread out a map on the table and pointed out Belta Castle. Behind it was the town of Tenang with a red mark on it. It was a place not included in their capturing plans.

"We are already capturing fortresses on the front line of Belta. What more are you planning? Are we not just going to wait for a proper time and encircle Belta's main castle?"

"—-Insufficient. Still not enough. The force of their fire is absolutely not enough. For our great cause, it has to become a hellfire strong enough to burn the entire Kingdom to the ground. ......The commander David can probably no longer move. He is frightened and only hardening the defenses. A commander who has lost his self-confidence, soldiers of the Kingdom in chaos, a populace with accumulated discontent, and the spreading infamy-all the kindle has been assembled. Afterwards, it just needs to catch fire."

"......You, what the heck are you thinking?"

When Alan looked at him with eyes of misgiving, Diener with a tranquil expression distinctly answered.

"Of course, only victory for the Liberation Army, and overthrowing the current monarchy. My life was used only for this one purpose. The Royal Capital Liberation Army is my everything."

"Do Altura's ideals really exist in you? Is this not too reckless? The one perverting her ideals the most, Diener, is it not you?"

"A clean war does not exist in this world, Your Highness Prince Alan. All that there is, is only a hideous reality that makes one want to avert their eyes. ......However, there are also things that do not need to be known. Princess Altura is fine as she is. The people see their aspirations in her. Humans as completely filthy like me as well."

He stood up from his seat, faced Prince Alan, and gazed into his eyes.

"......Prince Alan. Your cooperation is necessary. I would like you to shoulder the dirty work along with me. I want you defile yourself with dishonor enough to smear even your soul with blood. We will crown ourselves with filth.** After this war is over, I will take all the sins onto myself consequently."

Diener was making a bet. He had seen through that this man harbored personal feelings for Altura. Diener was also aware that these emotions very much exceeded his affection towards his fatherland. He would take advantage of that and pull Alan to his side. He would bind him hand and foot so that he could never turn back. This man could be expected to play the role of negotiator with the Empire. By all means, Diener wanted to entice him.

"..........."

"..........."

Alan avoided an immediate reply. It took resolution and determination to accept this proposal. He had to make sure he had it. To immediately cut down any selfish motives he may have, his hand reached for his sword.

"...........Will this truly be for Altura's sake?"

"So that her ideals may continue to be pure. Reality is not. Someone has to protect her from this dirty mud. We will be that shield. I want you to shoulder that role next to the Princess."

"...........I understand. I will listen to you. Do with me as you wish."

After a long silence, Alan consented.
Quietly, Diener spoke. Altura would certainly rage if she heard this plan. It was an act completely polar to her ideals. It sacrificed the few to save the many. It would not be strange for her to cut him down in such a situation. The other commissioned officers probably wouldn't stay silent either. Actually, having heard the matter, Alan was also enraged, and he seized Diener by the lapels.

—-For the sake of victory for the Royal Capital Liberation Army, Diener sold his soul.

In a place slightly east of Belta Castle was a town called Tenang. Protected by low ramparts, it was a simple and commonplace hamlet with no redeeming features.
In that hamlet, neighboring peasants suddenly gathered and were raising furious voices. Each one held crude weapons and, filled with anger, were closing in on the feudal lord's building. It was town with no appreciable defense besides its ramparts. Soldiers that tried to obstruct them were pushed down and violently beaten up.
The townspeople completely startled did not leave their houses. They did not want to get involved.
When the figure of the bewildered feudal lord appeared from the building's terrace, the peasants bitterly screamed.

"""We've paid our taxes like we were told. We complied with repeated demands. And yet, why will you kill us? Do you intend on stealing even our lives?""", they were saying.

The feudal lord didn't understand what they were saying. Sure, he was imposing a harsh tax. He was also requisitioning goods as per orders from the Kingdom and funding the war.
But, there was no order saying to kill. They would not part with their precious labor force for no reason. The peasants were wrung dry, but they had just barely enough to live. If not, then they would no longer have any tax revenue. That was why they would not be killed.

"I don't get what you're saying. But, what you guys have done will not be pardoned. Hurry and break up and return to your work. Any more will be regarded as treachery against the Kingdom, and everyone will be apprehended," he responded.

The peasants did not consent. A genocide was happening at a neighboring farm village right now. Survivors were extremely few. Also, everyone had seen the figures of the Kingdom's soldiers. How could they believe the words of someone that was habitually oppressing them?

Even if he was the feudal lord, it was difficult for him to force the peasants to retire. Soldiers had been lost at the earlier battle, and the town's guards were few in number. In just numbers, the peasants that had visited for a directly appeal exceeded the guards. The instant when he was thinking how to deceive and pacify them,

From his building flew out a single arrow. That arrow struck the breast of a woman holding a baby in the middle of the crowd. The feudal lord had not given an order to attack. But, an arrow was fired.
Silence enveloped the surroundings, now packed with bloodlust. Then, it instantly exploded.
"Kill him, kill him!" The order came, and the peasants rushed into the feudal lord's building.
Bodies of soldiers were torn by farm tools, and they died. Luxurious furniture and works of arts were all broken. The feudal lord and his family were dragged out and burned alive. The building was set ablaze, and the town of Tenang had been completely occupied by peasants. The weak people who had wrested victory from their depriver through their own hands roared in celebration. When someone shouted "Hooray!", everyone followed afterwards and yelled repeatedly.

—-In the end, the flag flown high, was the flag of the Royal Capital Liberation Army.

David fell into a state of panic, hearing that they had lost Tenang behind Belta Castle. At most, it was just a feudal lord being killed by peasants and making a town of the Kingdom fall.
But panicking that their path of retreat had been cut off, "It's preposterous for the likes of peasants to kill the feudal lord. Wipe everyone out," he had arbitrarily issued the order, and sent 2,000 infantry immediately to Tenang.
The peasants put up a good fight, but in the end, they were laymen who had not received training. In not even a few hours, the gate was broken down, and the town was invaded. Everyone who had participated in the rebellion was cut down; it was wholesale slaughter with no heed to young or old, man or woman. There were also townspeople who got mixed in and bit the dust. Everyone suspicious was killed.

News of the "Tenang Rebellion" and the "Tenang Atrocity" spread throughout the Belta area, and many feudal lords trembled in fear of receiving the resentment of the peasants. Many feudal lords who were on the fence, anxious that they would be killed too, declared support for the Liberation Army. Soldiers guarding fortresses also lost their fighting spirit, and they discarded their swords and threw open the gates. Most of them were peasants that had been conscripted from a farming village in this very Belta.

In not even half a month, the Liberation Army had captured the towns and fortresses of Belta, and all that was remaining was Belta Castle. The Kingdom has lost power in the Central Border Zone to that extent. The Fourth Army was further weakened from successive desertion and surrender, and now only a force of 10,000 had to defend the castle.
David had sent a request for reinforcements ASAP to the Royal Capital, but the only response was "Defend Belta to the last." As the Empire in the Northwest was increasing their movements, there were no spare forces left to be sent in aid.
Field Marshal Sharov had appealed that the First Army ought to be sent forth, but Prime Minister Farzam had rejected it, saying it was unnecessary. What ought to take precedence was defence of the Royal Capital, and he would not approve anything that would weaken it.

At the end of his wits, Sharov decided to dispatch 5,000 of his troops as a rear guard. They made an expedition to Roshanak Stronghold, which amounted to an outpost wall for the Royal Capital area. After Belta fell, it was not unlikely for the Liberation Army for carry on their momentum and close in on the Royal Capital in one go. As well as to gain time, they needed to hold back the Liberation Army there temporarily.
Roshanak was a stronghold in name only. Its walls were low, and it was on low-lying ground. The reshuffled General Yalder was appointed to be the commander. "Do not act rashly and avoid excessive ardor," he was strictly ordered. No voices of opposition were raised from the generals. They thought of him as simply a disposable rock.

On the other side of the map, David at a loss had resolved himself. He would not approve evacuating until the end. Goods continued to be brought into Belta Castle, and they fortified their preparations for a siege. It would be a siege battle with no hope of reinforcements. Before the battle, morale kept on falling.

As for Schera, she had used up all the money provisioned for the siege and bought food in bulk.
Reports that the Liberation Army guys were making an expedition and gradually approaching Belta Castle had come in. Naturally, they could not buy from neighboring towns, as they were no longer under Kingdom rule. As there was no other way, they called the merchants from Alucia River, and had purchased from the smuggling merchants of the Union. They were exploited all the while.
Those guys sold cheap to the their partner, the Liberation Army, and blew up the price for their adversaries, the Kingdom's Army. So that their future customers would think well of them, of course they would do that. They would make up the deficit from their trade partner the Kingdom.
Prices had jumped up to five times their normal value. If you don't like it, don't buy, they had said.
Schera's office room was completely buried by bags of wheat and dried food. At this landscape crowded to the point where one couldn't even find a place to stand, even Katarina was surprised as one would expect.

"With this much, even if the castle's provisions are used up, we can seclude ourselves for a month. We're out of money thanks to this though. How refreshing."

Said Schera while giving the wheat bags a satisfactory smack, as if just saying, "Check it out."
Katarina pushed up her glasses and looked around. It was certainly a good stash, she thought.
—-But.

"Major Schera. Even if the Major is able to seclude herself, we do not have so much."

If it was Schera, even if the castle were to fall for example, she would lock herself in the office alone and would definitely show the will to fight. As long as there was food, she seemed to be able to fight forever. Katarina had a hope: she wanted to be present in such a situation if possible.
How would Schera welcome her last moments? What kind of face would her dead body have? It was imprudent, but she couldn't say she wasn't interested. Though she too would probably die right after, she would be careful to not die until then, considered Katarina. Would she rise to fame? Would she fall to ruin? Which one it would be was still not clear. All she could do was support this superior officer with all her being. Katarina renewed her determination.

"You don't have to worry. I'll give you your share too. Food tastes better when eaten together right. But, if my cavalry eat, even this amount would soon be gone it seems."

As she was not starving, Schera was still in a good humor.

"My gratitude for the Major's generosity. However, we—-"

"Well, let's think about that after the food's gone, since I feel hungry when I think. Oh yeah, what happened to Second Lieutenant Vander?"

"Sir-, he has completely shut himself in his room. He will not even show his face. His physical condition is poor I heard."

"Oh. That's fine then. I will be going to Staff Officer Sidamo's place after this. You do what you find appropriate. Go rest your body so you don't collapse at a crucial time."

"Understood!"

Schera headed to Sidamo's office room and knocked. Sidamo had been expelled from the position of Chief Staff Officer and was relocated to a staff officer's office. He was given material management duty as per David's order.

"This is Major Schera. You called sir?"

"Enter."

"Excuse me!"

After raising her voice, she opened the door, and there was Sidamo with his grim face. Compared to when she first met him, his face was worn out. He probably had his worries. Schera didn't ask because she didn't care, though. She didn't bring bread today as a present. She had eaten it earlier.

"It's been awhile, Major Schera. As always, I've heard about your style of fighting. You've probably also preserved the honor of General Yalder who recommended you. ......It seems there was no point in giving you adjutants."

"No, their work was extremely helpful."

"Well that's good. I understand now that you're an existence that won't be killed so easily. Your infamy has also befittingly spread. Death God of the Kingdom, Major Schera Zade. A deplorable female commander that had massacred great numbers of officers, soldiers, and civilians they say. Doesn't it seem like you're being made an enemy by the Rebel Army?"

A black flag with a white bird coat of arms-At the previous Battle of Alucia Crossing, Schera's name had instantly spread. At this current point in time, she had killed the most commanders of the Liberation Army. There was no longer anyone amongst the officers and men of the Liberation Army that did not know of her. She was recognized as the worst enemy that ought to be despised.

"Sir, I killed all those guys of the Rebel Army. Is there any problem?"

"No problem at all. Infamy is an indispensable part of a Hero. If we win, it'll turn the complete opposite. You should behave as you see fit like you are now until the end."

Cynically laughed Sidamo, who then returned to his serious expression.

"Sir. Understood."

"Moving to the main question, unfortunately, this Belta Castle will probably fall. No sight of reinforcements, and even if the enemy surrounds us, we can't stop them. From an objective standpoint, we have one month give or take. There's more or less a source of error though. I fear that there will be an outbreak of a great number of betrayers. How long we can persist, only God knows."

Sidamo disinterestedly announced the fall of the castle. If he were heard by the military police, he would have been restrained. But lying doesn't change anything, so he stated only the truth.
What were important for a siege battle were: Goods, morale of the soldiers, and whether one could expect reinforcements. No matter how superior the defense power of a castle looked, it was worthless if its interior was rotten. In a state where even one was missing, the fall could be said to be a matter of time.
Schera was listening silently. No particular surprise could be seen. She had a face that said she really didn't care at all. Sidamo felt his stomach hurting bit by bit.

"When push comes to shove, you take your soldiers and aim for Roshanak Stronghold. It's meaningless and stupid to have cavalry die inside a castle. The time taken to train them, the money, and the maintenance costs-all of it will be futile. If you're going to die, die outside the castle."

"Sir- I will do my best to die outside the castle!"

Worried that she might not have understood, Sidamo restated it, in a way that even this girl would understand.

"......In simpler terms, don't see the fate of this castle as your fate. Crawl, struggle unseemly until the very end. Consult with your adjutants in detail. That is why they were assigned to you."

"Sir-, I, Major Schera understand!"

"Very well. Dismissed!"

"Excuse me!"

Sidamo watched Schera's figure leave. As usual, he didn't know if she was listening to people talking, but he felt the unique drive that brave warriors with long military service had. If he saw Schera's almost fearsome fighting style, he would have thought that natural. As they had lost the battle, she could say goodbye to a promotion, but by all rights, she should have a medal. That David's unit was somehow able to escape was due to there being an offensive from Sulawesi Grand Bridge.

Speaking of David, he had wasted away after losing the battle, and it seemed he could no longer stand. His glorious future was shut, and the infamy that he was the perpetrator of the atrocity was thoroughly being spread.
His filthy name would be left in posterity certainly. History was written by the winners.
Sidamo guessed that David planned to die here. If he was going to leave, he would have escaped a long time ago.
He would probably fight proudly until the end like a noble and then die in satisfaction.
Sidamo was thinking like it was someone else's problem. His body was already on the decline. He was comfortable with that fact. But, he did not intend to die in a place like this. It would be a futile death in that case. He would once again crawl up somehow.
He planned on surviving from Belta at all costs.

(I cannot die yet. There are still things I have do.)

—-Vander, secluded in his office.
Ever since the morning, he had continued to gaze at a single letter.
He was troubled. This would influence the rest of his life. He had to think this through. He put strength in his hands gripping the brush, and slowly wrote a reply. After the sealing wax dried, after he looked around the area, he left his room.

"......With this, I can no longer go back huh. The one to smile upon me, in the end, will it be a Goddess, or a God of Death?"

Vander muttered to no one in particular, and he recalled the figure of his superior officer. He took a deep sigh, and with his eyes on a certain place inside the castle, he started walking.