Chapter 15.1

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Ripening Malice
Dozens of men were standing in front of the head of the Salbuveir family. They were nobles who were part of the allied forces, including Burling.
General Burling accepted Kulm’s decree, so Kulm and others stopped the massacre of the Death Knights. Kulm mercilessly transformed the casualties of war into zombies, incorporated them into his troops and captured the fleeing soldiers. Or, more precisely, the plan has entered the second stage.

The army of approximately 200,000 men collapsed and casualties were well over 10,000. The battle concluded rapidly when the troops under General Burling declared surrender.
As the Death Knights ruthlessly killed those who resisted, the soldiers were presented with two options, flight or surrender.

About 20,000 chose to surrender, others chose to flee. The soldiers who chose to flee had no idea that they would be spared if they surrendered.

“Well, hello there, General Burling and lords of the army.”

Ortho greeted them intimately.

“Marquis Salbuveir… may I ask you a question?”

Burling spoke to Ortho with hesitation. His voice and facial expression were full of anxiety.

“What is it?”

In contrast, the expressions on the faces of the Salbuveir clansmen, including Ortho, was on the completely opposite side. Their expressions highlighted the smugness of the victors, but Burling and others couldn’t voice out their discomfort.

“You and your clan should have been executed. And yet…”

Ortho raised one hand to interrupt Burling’s words and replied with a grin.

“There’s a ritual in our territory that has been performed since ancient times. Well, even though I say a ritual, it’s nothing significant. We inscribe a cursed mark somewhere on the bodies of babies.”
“A cursed mark?”
“Yes, to all people of the fief.”
“……”

Burling tilted his head to the side because he couldn’t make the intention of Ortho’s words.

“Those who are marked with that curse will turn undead in case of unnatural death.”
“W, what!?”
“You guys have massacred the people of my fief. No need to say, that can’t be counted as a natural death.”

Ortho explained indifferently.

“The curse is triggered when all members of our family die of unnatural death. Of course, those endowed with the cursed mark keep their soul, so even if they rise up as undead, their ego still exists.”

Burling and others were at a loss for words.

“Originally, the cursed marks were means of protecting the Empire against the invasion of other countries, though.”

An ironic expression floated on Ortho’s face. If Ortho’s words were true, then the Salbuveir family was literally trying to protect the country even after their deaths.

“Nevertheless, the outcome was that our clan was executed under false charges. Not only that as my people experienced hell.”

Ortho’s voice sounded indifferent, but Burling and others have noticed the fierce fury behind it.

“Now then, who is at fault the most?”

That moment, Emilia interrupted with a smile. Everyone’s gaze gathered towards the speaker, Emilia. The expression of Viscount Margorg turned uneasy.

“Was it Viscount Margorg who brought hell upon our Salbuveir fief because he encouraged Linea’s antics instead of stopping her? Or was it Altos who forgot his obligation as a member of the imperial family? Or was it the nobles who used Altos and Linea’s foolishness to ruin the Salbuveirs? Or was it the Emperor, who overlooked all that?”

Emilia’s words made everyone gulp. They felt fear of the hatred emitting from Emilia.

“Emilia, that does not matter anymore.”

Emilia turned towards Ortho and responded with a smile.

“It’s as you say, Father. It doesn’t matter who is at fault at this stage.”
“It’s like that. What we have to do has been already decided… Now then.”

As Ortho said that, he turned his gaze towards Burling and others once again.

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