“What?” The cigarette Malcolm held dropped onto the floor after he heard the report from his
subordinate. Even Hayes, who was beside him, stood up with a solemn look on his face.
There were around twenty-four thousand prisoners in all of Northern Crimson Prison. Including logistic
units, the fifteen thousand soldiers stationed there were constantly on high alert, ready for battle.
With a troop like that, the place ought to be highly secure. The military hospital would be mobilized if
there were a case of food poisoning of a hundred or two hundred people among the troops stationed at
any other normal site.
On the contrary, large-scale food poisoning would never happen in Northern Crimson Prison. Due to
the prison’s unique strategic importance, the food provisions there were screened multiple times. Every
step from planting, harvesting, shipping, and storage, was under strict surveillance.
After all, the prison was a supply terminal for the Mysonna Army. To put it bluntly, Northern Crimson
Prison was like a small township and a logistical hub for the whole Mysonna Army.
For a place like that, even a case of food poisoning would be considered severe, let alone dozens of
“Start an investigation!”
Malcolm’s face was as pale as a sheet.
“Find out when these soldiers had their meals! If they’re all from the same batch, gather all others
who’re on the same batch as them! Pause all outdoor activities and lock all the prisoners back into their
cells. Whoever retaliates will be executed immediately. We have to send them all back as soon as
His adjutant turned to leave.
While supporting himself on the table with both hands, Malcolm was sweating profusely from his
He took out a cigarette but failed consecutively to light it using a lighter.
He slammed the lighter down on the table, smashing it into pieces.
Hayes lit the cigarette Malcolm had in his mouth using another lighter.
“Calm down, Malcolm. It might just be a normal case of food poisoning.”
“That’s impossible.” Malcolm took a huge puff of his cigarette as he spoke to Hayes. “Unlike other
places, failure in storing or cooking food properly in Northern Crimson Prison could have legal
repercussions, and soldiers can be brought to the military court. So, the only explanation for when
cases of food poisoning do occur is that someone must have purposely poisoned the food.”
“You mean…” Hayes stared at Malcolm, his eyes wide. “The special forces of Horace from the Eastern
Army are behind this? Impossible…”
Malcolm burnt through half his cigarette in a few puffs.
“D*mn, they moved our supplies yesterday, and my men are poisoned today. Could there be a spy in
Northern Crimson Prison if he isn’t behind this? I had figured since yesterday that it was odd for Horace
to come. Why did I allow him passage when Eastern Army had to cross such a huge distance for
operations in Mysonna?”
“But what good would he get by doing that?” Hayes questioned solemnly. “While we might belong to
different troops, we’re all under Asura’s Office. If they were the ones who poisoned the food, it would
mean that the Eastern Army had been planning a coup—”
Hayes had always been the brazen type, so he always said whatever came to mind.
His mention of a coup was just by coincidence, as per his usual self. However, both he and Malcolm
were startled as soon as the word rolled off his tongue.
Malcolm stared at Hayes with wide eyes.
“Tiger, say that again!”
“Hold on… I was joking just now, Malcolm…”
By then, Hayes had realized the graveness of the situation. Including himself, all the Eight Kings of War
in Asura’s Office had charged into war alongside Jonathan, making a bloodied trail through mountains
These people were the youngest and most righteous leaders in their respective areas before the
emergence of Asura’s Office. Although they weren’t too acquainted with each other, all of them had
forged incredible bonds with Jonathan. Yet, Malcolm couldn’t help but wonder how long such bonds
“This is impossible… This can’t be…” Hayes mumbled while shaking his head. “Asura’s Office is a
brotherhood that we’re all part of, so he can’t possibly—”
Before he could finish his sentence, Malcolm had retrieved a map of Chanaea from the bookshelf next
“The Eastern Army is stationed at the northeastern border of Chanaea, so the entire northeastern
region is their base camp. If they want to send a small team of their special forces across Chanaea to
ambush us, their only option would be to pass through Moranta next to us. If they did manage to break
through the defenses in Northern Crimson Prison by poisoning our troops, not only will the escape of
twenty thousand prisoners on death row cause a huge ruckus, but this attack on the logistical hub will
also cut off the whole Mysonna Army from supplies. By immobilizing the Mysonna Army, pressure from
the Ibica Army will force Asura’s Office to put all of its attention on Mysonna.”
Malcolm listed out a possible list of scenarios on paper using a black marker.
If Mysonna were in trouble, Asura’s Office would definitely send troops from Yalegard Legion,
Kingshinton Army, and Zaidham Army to provide support at Mysonna.
“With this, it means the military configuration in Chanaea will be redistributed! This is an opportunity for
Prince of Diyouli from the Eastern Army to take the northeastern region for himself!”
“This can’t be!”
Despite claims of it being impossible, Hayes was, after all, a military leader. Although Malcolm’s
scrawls were hardly discernible on the paper, he could see that those scenarios were very likely to
“Well… If he were to betray Asura’s Office, the other kings should defeat him by sending their troops at
By that point, Hayes was fixated on the middle of the map.
He was staring at where Yaleview was located.
Wilbur at Yaleview commanded an army of six hundred thousand and had military prowess that was on
par with Asura’s Office.
If Asura’s Office were stable and secure, Wilbur would never act recklessly.
However, if Karl, Prince of Diyouli, intended to betray Asura’s Office, Wilbur would definitely occupy
Yaleview, given its strategic location, to stop all forces from marching into the northeastern region.
After all, the situation would be most beneficial to him only if forces within Asura’s Office split up.
“In the worst-case scenario, Karl might already have conspired with Remdik!”
Sweat dripped from Malcolm’s nose as he stared at the black arrows he drew on the map.
“This is a coup planned with the entire political climate of Chanaea in mind! Mr. Goldstein, Asura’s
Office, Ibica, Remdik, and Yaleview… All of us are part of his conspiracy! Even if his plan was
discovered by the different factions, we can do nothing but be led on. Remdik would still work with him,
and Wilbur will still stop Asura’s Office from marching their troops to the north. Even though all of them
understood what Karl was up to, they would still help set the stage for their own benefits! No… There’s
still one keystone to the plan!”
Malcolm’s hand was shivering when he stuffed the cigarette he held into his mouth and puffed hard on
it, failing to notice even as a choking burnt smell arose from the filter being burned.
Hayes was also sweating profusely while standing beside him.
“Malcolm, just f*cking spit whatever thoughts you have in mind when we’re in a crisis!”
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