If it wasn\'t for his family, Lith could have just moved to the Desert and avoided all that trouble.
Yet if he did, he would be labeled as a traitor and a deserter.
Just like Friya\'s mother, Duchess Solivar, he would have lost everything and so would his family.
Their lands, their home, even his silver mines near Jambel would be seized by the Kingdom.
Lith would lose all of his titles and annuities, turning into a wanted criminal forever barred from returning.
Don\'t worry, Dad.
I have several aces up my sleeve and a feisty woman in my ring. He said while pointing at Solus who stood by his side, still holding the Fury while she received her share of kisses and hugs.
I\'m not feisty! She tried to act intimidating, but Elina held her like a child, making her look as dangerous as an angry puppy.
After they said their goodbyes, Solus disappeared in the ring and Lith walked through the Gate in the barn reaching his destination.
Peonia\'s men had prepared a temporary exit point for him right outside Mandia where the reconquering army had made its camp.
Much to his surprise, he found the Princess, General Morn, and Captain Xolman Pelan waiting for him on the other side.
General. He gave them respectively a bow and a salute, leaving Pelan on attention.
Isn\'t this a bit overkill
My dear Uncle is a sore loser so he gave you an incompetent second in command.
Peonia\'s eyes flared in indignance as she pointed at Pelan.
Knowing that he\'d try his best to make the mission fail, I came here in person to keep an eye on Pelan, and Uncle Morn used it as an excuse to come as well.
How dare you to speak like this to a General, niece And in front of my soldiers at that! Morn stood straight as an arrow, towering over the much shorter woman to intimidate her.
Just like you dare speak like this to the commanding officer of this mission and a Princess of the Kingdom. The spite in her voice was almost tangible.
Now shut up and listen.
You are here solely as an observer.
Give a single order and whatever goes wrong with this mission will be on you.
Am I clear
Crystal. Morn lips trembled in indignance, but he had no way to retort.
The Royal Court had given Peonia full authority over the matters with Mandia, something that not even the Royals could overrule, let alone him.
I\'m the only one allowed to give orders here. She said loud enough for everyone to here.
Lith, I assume you already have a plan of your own.
Indeed. He nodded.
At this point, Thrud must be familiar with the strategy the Kingdom uses to infiltrate the cities.
Also, sending in many people means increasing the chances of being discovered.
What are you proposing, then She tilted her head in curiosity.
I\'ll go in alone while you prepare your forces to enter Mandia the moment the city gates are opened.
Then, once the Warp Gate lets the other troops in, recapturing Mandia will be a matter of minutes.
What Peonia and Morn said in unison while Pelan, still at attention, could only widen his eyes.
The original plan involved readying the troops outside the city while scouts infiltrated the walls and spent the next few days finding a way to let the main force in.
Then, the goal was to reach the Warp Gate and set up for a two-pronged attack.
Think about it. Lith spoke while watching solely at Peonia as if Morn wasn\'t even there.
Mandia was captured yesterday, which means that its citizens have yet to be influenced by Thrud\'s propaganda.
To them, she is no hero, just an invader.
The problem is that they know that the Kingdom is giving priority to recapturing cities that provide crops.
If we waste days waiting, the citizens of Mandia will give up on rebelling if not switch sides entirely.
If I get in now, the moment they realize that the Kingdom hasn\'t abandoned them and is fighting for them, they will join our forces.
No matter how powerful Thrud\'s soldiers are, they can\'t win against an entire city.
Even if they did, the slaughter of so many innocents would destroy all of her efforts to build herself a reputation as a hero.
The next cities she conquers would fight even harder and those already under her rule would likely revolt.
If my plan succeeds, the citizens will open the city gates for you without even the need to bust them open.
I see your points, but are you sure you can make it Peonia asked.
I am. Lith nodded.
There\'s only one thing that I need to know before starting the mission.
What\'s the allowed casualty rate
Are you planning to kill innocents Morn said, pretending to be outraged and making Lith sound like a cold-blooded monster.
The Kingdom hasn\'t waged a full-scale war exactly to protect its citizens yet you think yourself better.
Or should I say worse
I\'m going to enter enemy territory and if I get spotted, I don\'t have the time to check the loyalty of everyone I meet before letting them go. Lith replied.
One wrong move and the alarm will sound, making the mission much harder and causing many more deaths.
I\'m planning to kill innocents, just like you do.
I\'ve been a General for over twenty years and not once have I given such a command.
Just because you are a murderer don\'t assume that everyone is.
I\'ve never hurt commoners, never. Morn replied.
I may be a murderer, but what\'s a soldier during a war if not a contract killer that doesn\'t even get paid fairly Generals like you point their fat fingers at a target and people like me dirty their hands.
Are you telling me that no one died during the recapture of the cities under your command Lith asked, yet he didn\'t wait for the answer.
Of course they died, but remember that while each soldier carries their own body count, you should be supposed to carry them all.
You are our contractor.
We kill people per your request.
The blood of every single person that dies on a mission is also on your hands.
If you know some bull** spell that can paralyze or put to sleep a whole city, use it.
Otherwise get off your high horse and let me do my job. Lith spoke loud enough for everyone to hear.
While he waited for Peonia\'s answer, the air filled with murmurs the moment that silence befell the command center.
The soldiers looked at Morn with spite, hissing poisonous words at his back.
He had attacked Lith personally to belittle him and his achievements, in the hope that the rest of the army would ostracize him, lowering the chance of success of the mission.
Without trust, the army couldn\'t work properly.
Yet Lith had spoken not as a noble Archmage, but as a soldier, reminding everyone of the burden that officials were supposed to carry instead of shoving it on their subordinates.
Morn had ended up calling them all cold-blooded murderers, alienating their favor and sounding like a hypocrite.
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