At first glance, the fortress walls, which were piled up with rectangular stones, looked solid. Even if giants were to come in droves, the walls didn’t seem like it could be easily destroyed with any force.
In addition, the wall looked so intact that it overshadowed the fact that it had been built 300 years ago. Of course, there were some faded parts and some scratches over time, but other than that, there weren’t any visible flaws.
Herietta’s gaze shifted to the statue standing in front of the castle gate. It was a statue three times the size of an adult male.
A man with a solemn expression standing holding a book with a laurel tree in one hand and holding out the other hand. It felt like a warning to intruders trying to enter the fortress without permission.
“What are you thinking?”
As Herietta kept silent for a long time, Bernard, who found it strange, spoke up.
“Did you find anything interesting?”
“I was just thinking that humans are amazing.”
Herietta replied, still keeping her eyes on the statue.
“It is so amazing that a building like this was built in such a remote and desolate place. How on earth did they transport the materials needed to build the castle? There doesn’t seem to be any roads around here, let alone villages, that people can walk on.”
“Aahh. It wasn’t like this even a hundred years ago.”
After hearing Herietta’s admiration, Bernard shrugged his shoulders and said,
“At that time, there was a village near here, and people lived there. As a result of a severe drought, the canals were cut off and the people left one by one to other places, but now they have disappeared without a trace.”
Thud. The sound of the pulley turning stopped with a heavy sound. The gates were completely open.
Bernard kicked his horse on the side and rode forward. Herietta and dozens of regular and apprentice knights quickly followed suit.
Upon entering through the arched entrance, the vast interior of the fortress unfolded before their eyes.
Herietta looked around. Flags embroidered with the coat of arms of Velicia were fluttering everywhere in the fortress. Perhaps something had been burned, faint smoke was burning gently, and a deep silence filled the interior, making it almost lonely and desolate.
Prince of Velicia. The one who now stood closest to the throne had arrived, but no one warmly welcomed him. There were no people who smiled warmly at him or expressed friendliness.
Hundreds of eyes turned to them. It was a dry look, devoid of awe or respect.
Herietta shuddered unknowingly. The soldiers watching them from a distance looked more like broken dolls than living people. All the more because they were standing helplessly with a sunken face and no clear emotions.
Survivors, yet not survivors.
That was what they looked like.
* * *
“Thank you for coming this far, Your Highness.”
The knight, Maxwell, lowered his head and said. Coming from a prestigious family, he was one of the many knights who participated in the Battle of Butron to assist Siorn.
“Your Highness is here and everyone is very happy.”
“Are they happy?”
Bernard laughed quietly at Maxwell’s pretentious words. The distant faces of the Velician soldiers he encountered at the gates were still clearly visible in front of his eyes.
“Well. It didn’t look like a very happy atmosphere to me.”
“Forgive me. Right after going through such a big thing…….”
Maxwell showed a slight bewilderment at the sharp words. But that’s for a while. He immediately took care of his expression and covered it with plausible words.
Bernard waved his hand as if he was going to listen no more. He had heard rumors about him floating around in Velicia. Now, there was neither the desire nor the time to explain to them about it.
He sat down in front of the desk in the room.
“The current situation?”
“There were 1,500 soldiers stationed in the fortress. There are about 4,000 soldiers who participated in the Battle of Butron and then retreated here.”
Since the number of troops that Siorn had led to Butron was about 10,000, there was a loss of about 6,000. Losing more than half of their troops in just one battle. It was astonishing.
“Then, what about the damage suffered by the Kustan Army?”
“I don’t know the exact number, but…….”
Maxwell hesitated to answer the question. Maxwell, who was showing a puzzled face, cautiously looked at Bernard and said,
“…… I think I probably lost about 2,000 or so.”
Bernard raised his eyebrows at the figure, which was much smaller than he had expected. Maxwell silently nodded.
“We lost 6,000 men.”
Bernard said with a snort as if he was stumped.
“They only lost 2,000.”
Even if they lose, there should be no such crushing defeat. Siorn did not go into battle alone, and there were several seasoned knights by his side. Still, they retreated after losing three times what their opponents lost.
If the situation is like this, should they be considered lucky that they weren’t wiped out?
He must change the direction of his thinking. Bernard murmured softly as if talking to himself.
“If they lost 2,000 troops in the Battle of Butron, then there are still around 8,000 troops left when you estimate it.”
“Since they captured Butron Fortress, they must have taken all the weapons and food stored there.”
“As for the troops we have left, even if we combine the forces of the Siqman Fortress, it’s a little over 5,000.”
Bernard, who was slowly organizing his thoughts, frowned.
“Now, looking at the military strength alone, there seems to be a difference beyond imagination.”
“…… I apologize, Your Highness.”
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