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Chapter 28 – The Chief of Staff’s Anxieties (First Half)
In a room in the Evil God Army’s Underground Empire.
Dozens of demons hurried about, performing their duties as intelligence workers.
Reports were coming in from all fronts; intelligence from the Manafint Confederation, observation of prisoners, securing supply lines, among many others.
Counterintelligence, strategising, planning, communications, information of all sorts flowed through the room.
Exceptional memory. Flexibility of thought. The ability to objectively analyse data, and make the correct decisions.
The demons gathered here were the best minds that the Evil God Army had to offer, for this room was the General Staff Headquarters.
And at the head of this think tank, sitting at a luxurious desk and planning their next move, was the Head of General Staff, Dryas Bo Malferand.
Kneeling by his side was Bernandes, the Commander of the Fourth Division…
“Sir. Our forces are already deployed on the borders of the Manafint Confederation. The border guard is weak enough that we may strike at any time,” reported Bernandes.
“I see. And what of Visca Fortress that defends the entrance into the Confederation?” asked Dryas.
“The same. Perhaps they have been lax because they haven’t considered an attack, but neither the numbers nor the morale of the troops there are particularly high,” he replied.
“Hmph. Foolish humans. They are rather easygoing considering that losing Visca could cripple their economy.”
“Shall I give the signal to begin the invasion?” asked Bernandes.
“I have no complaints about the timing,” Dryas agreed. “However, Tilea-sama has still not given us the order. Contact the heads of the foreign legions. They are to be on standby.”
“Also, I wonder about the Demon King Army. What do we know about their activities?”
“Sir, the Demon King Army appears to be building strength in Zauz region down south. Beyond that, they do not seem to be doing anything.”
“They have not begun invading human territories?” questioned Dryas.
“No, sir. They are staying low-key,” Bernandes confirmed. “Personally, I feel uneasy about this.”
Bernandes’ suspicion was reasonable.
Were it not for the Evil God Army, the Demon King Army could be said to be the most powerful force in the world.
To be frank, the human forces were scarcely a factor, let alone a third force.
They were prey.
In practical terms, the Demon King Army were the only obstacle to the Evil God Army ruling the world.
And they were silent.
Annexing human territory would give them more influence. Dryas could not imagine that they lacked the means to do so…
“And the Third Division were given the orders to check their forces?”
“Yes, sir. Muram and his Third Division are there, as well as Demonic Dragons Gargan and Gyangu are projecting force nearby.”
With that much power they would not be defeated in anything short of all-out war. It would be enough to buy time even if the Six Demon Generals attacked.
Still, there was no harm in being extra careful.
Dryas decided to send them some of the Fourth Division’s soldiers.
“Very well. Double the forces assigned to gathering intelligence on them and immediately report if anything suspicious happens at all,” I ordered.
“Yes, sir. I will make the arrangements to send more men there,” said Bernandes, before taking his leave.
‘A expected of the man Camilla-sama left in charge of our intelligence forces,’ thought Dryas.
Whether it was Bernandes’ skills in gathering intel or his ability to lead his men, he met Dryas’ standards in every area.
At the moment the Evil God Army was still lacking in information on the rival Demon King Army. It was something they would have to address.
But Dryas couldn’t see anything that they could do, except to take action each time Bernandes brought in a little more information.
And in all honesty, he had a lot on his plate.
Vigilance against the Demon King Army.
The invasion of the neighbouring countries.
The management and organisation of the Evil God Army.
From conception to execution, it was Dryas in charge. It was impossible for a normal person to do alone.
Even your average genius would collapse from the strain.
But Dryas had the resilient body of a demon, and it would not be wrong to describe him as an exceptional genius.
He managed, although it was stressful and exhausting.
But today Dryas was smiling.
And the reason for that…?
‘Only two days left,’ Dryas thought.
The surge of happiness had him holding the ticket a little tighter.
It was improper of course. He was on duty at the moment, and he believed in the separation of one’s personal life and job.
Unfortunately he couldn’t help his grin.
It was finally his turn.
What Dryas had in his hands was none other than a ticket for one of Tilea-sama’s ‘laive ivvents’.
Obtaining one of these through cheating was harshly prohibited, and one had no choice but to participate in the lottery, fair and square.
The event itself was held in a room that fit only thirty people.
Needless to say, the tickets were rare, and difficult to acquire.
It made him all the more ecstatic that his ticket happened to be for front-row seats; a super premium ticket, if you would.
Already he could imagine it. His next day off, sitting in the front seats.
Being able to appreciate Tilea-sama’s magnificent techniques from up close.
He could hardly imagine a greater joy.
Dryas had perused forbidden books, and studied demonic armaments before, but none of that excitement could compare with the palpitations in his heart right now.
‘Aah, Tilea-sama. Why do you hold my heart captive so!’
While Dryas sat there with an enraptured expression on his face, Bernandes suddenly burst into the room in a panic.
“Dryas-sama, it’s a disaster! The soldiers stationed at the national borders are making their way back to the Royal Capital!”
“Wha-!? What is the meaning of this?”
“Sir, it appears that they received an order to return from the General Staff HQ.”
“M-Madness! There was no such order!”
Somebody had clearly gone against military regulations.
Dryas turned the information over in his head.
Besides Tilea-sama, the only person who had the right to arbitrarily reassign their soldiers was Camilla-sama.
Only these two personages were allowed to do so without the approval of the War Council.
And Camilla-sama would not have given out such a foolish order.
In that case, who was responsible for this blatant disregard of the law…?
The foot soldiers would not have given out an order to return.
It was an officer that did this.
Whatever their reason, taking action without permission like this would affect the discipline of the entire army.
They were going to face immediate judgement, no matter how long their service, or how high their position.
“Bernandes, you are to immediately determine the one responsible for this order.”
“What’s the matter? Mm!? Could it be that you’ve already identified the culprit?”
“T-, The evidence suggests that the one responsible is Division Commander Ortissio.”
“…I see. Leave the rest to me.”
“A-As you command.”
Ortissio had violated the law.
He had always been an eyesore.
Despite having dared pointed his sword at Tilea-sama, here he was, living away, carefree.
Nobody who had any sense of pride or loyalty could do such a shameful thing.
Anybody else would have committed suicide.
But then again, I suppose it was pointless to expect any dignity out of the sort scum who would rebel.
It was only because Tilea-sama herself had forgiven him that I was enduring his existence.
And even if he was a disloyal traitor, he had still once served as an officer in the household guard.
I had thought to make as much use out of him as possible before discarding of him, and when better than now?
There was no place for such scum in Tilea-sama’s Evil God Army.
It was time to clean out the filth.
I put the General Staff Headquarters behind me, as I marched through the hallways to exact punishment, only to notice messengers running left and right.
Standing right there was Ortissio, giving some sort of instructions to other messengers.
His violations of our laws were already clear as day.
Seeing his flagrant mobilisation of our soldiers was infuriating.
I had decided to punish him right there.
“There you are, Ortissio! Who told you to call your soldiers back to the Capital!?”
“Chief of General Staff. I have a reason for moving my soldiers.”
“And what reason would that be? Depending on what you say, it may even be grounds for execu――”
“I ordered my soldiers to return here for a top secret mission from Tilea-sama.”
W-What did he just say?
A top secret mission?
And it was even kept a secret from the Chief of General Staff…?
Could that have been a lie?
No, even he wasn’t foolish enough to lie about something like that.
“I… I see. A top secret mission from Tilea-sama… Given to you, Ortissio…?”
“Hmph. I’m not surprised that you don’t know. The orders came from Tilea-sama herself,” he sneered.
“U-, Umu. In that case fulfil your duties as best you can,” I said. “Worry not and use the soldiers as you need. I will take care of the rest.”
“Of course. After all, these orders came directly from Tilea-sama. Directly from Tilea-sama. It’s important so I said it twice.”
Kuh-, look at him being so smug.
I won’t forgive you, Ortissio!
I’ll pit everything I have against you and――no, wait. Don’t let your anger control you, Dryas.
If I killed Ortissio right now, I would be getting in the way of Tilea-sama’s orders.
Whatever happened, I had to think of Tilea-sama first.
B-, But, w-, why was it kept a secret from…?
Nothing good lay down that line of thinking.
I was ashamed of myself.
I had gotten too full of myself because Tilea-sama had called me her Zifang.
That was why I hadn’t been included.
I vowed that to regain her trust I would work even harder from now on!
Still, I wondered what this mission was about…
Tilea-sama rarely gave direct orders like this.
It must have been a matter of grave important.
I wanted to help.
I wanted to make everything run more smoothly for her.
That was my purpose as the strategist.
It was never a role that should have been left to the likes of Ortissio.
I made up my mind…
Kuh, it was embarrassing, but I could only lower my head to Ortissio and help in that way.
“O-, Ortissio, is there anything at all I can do to help? I would not begrudge you the assistance,” I offered.
“Chief, do you really understand what ‘top secret’ means? It means that the details are classified to anybody who Tilea-sama has not entrusted it to. I can’t even tell you about it.”
“At any rate, I’m very busy with this, so please excuse me. I must prepare for the top secret mission. Goodness, if only we had you. I’m sure the planning would be over in an instant… Too bad that Tilea-sama hasn’t trusted you with it… Kuahahahahah!”
Ortissio continued to guffaw loudly as he left the Underground Empire.
I was almost beside myself with rage at his triumphant grin.
For Tilea-sama, for Tilea-sama…
I tried to calm myself down with that mantra but…
“Uaaoghhh! Ortissio, I’ll never forgive youuuuu!” I roared.
I couldn’t argue back because what he said was right.
After enduring all the humiliation, I couldn’t help but explode.
Still roaring, I destroyed the furnishings all around me.
I knew that it was unbecoming of a strategist, but I simply couldn’t stop myself.
“Haah, haah, how dare he look down on――”
“Hmm? What are you screaming about?”
When I turned around, the one standing there was none other than my beloved and respected master, Tilea-sama.