(TL: What was previously translated as Holy Knight will now be translated as Divine Knight for accuracy’s sake. I do apologize. It was my intention to do so when I first read through this volume, but I kinda forgot.)
Holy Knight Brigade
In the entrance hall used for the inaugural assembly, over a hundred adventurers had gathered.
They talked amongst themselves, as they waited nervously.
I was distanced from the tables, watching over them from the wall. This time, I wasn’t an attendee, but the host.
Monica was busily moving around, and she put the temple virgins in maid clothes to have them help out.
When she came up next to me, Monica…
“As I thought, perhaps keeping them in their temple robes would’ve been better? I was sure it would look out of place, but by doing this, I’ve killed their character traits.”
“What are you even talking about? More importantly, do you think we have enough food and drink?”
When I confirmed it, she nodded.
“We’ve made no oversights. But there is a bit of a problem.”
“Yeah, I understand that one. We’ll be able to hold out until the end of this battle, right?”
I understood the problem we carried. After Monica checked in with me, she went back to work.
I looked at the hall. Creit-san was there, and he was wearing conspicuously high-spirited clothing.
(I’m not deceiving him, but I’m certainly using him. It isn’t a good feeling.)
Rather than using it to get rich quick, those that wanted to escape from this lifestyle.
Right, the ones I gathered were those aiming for government service. I had Creit-san gather those aiming for knighthood as well.
(Birds of a feather flock together, I see.)
Among them were adventurers formerly of knight households. Just as Aria hailed from a militaristic Viscount House, there were a number of adventurers with similar heritage.
In order to reclaim their former glory, they had resolved themselves to hop aboard this time’s mission.
From the Jewel, came the slightly-fed-up voice of the Fifth.
『No matter the time period, you’ll find folks who can’t calculate loss and gain. Well, the fact they’re at least resolved is decent.』
The Sixth as well.
『Exactly. But they’ll be reliable for now. And thinking of the future, the Holy Maiden will need those who’ll move as her arms and legs.』
I turned my eyes to the stairs.
With some drink in their systems, and some time to alleviate the tension, we had prepared the stage for the others to make their appearance.
The consecrated virgins… not in maid clothes, but in the outfits that Monica had sewn, they came out, and talk broke out among the people in the hall.
And when the VIPs came out, it all went silent.
(Yep, she’s definitely a Holy Maiden as long as she keeps her mouth shut.)
In a white dress that seemed to be stuck-fast to her skin, down came Aura-san. Behind her followed the former Holy Maiden Thelma-san, and former High Priest Gastone-san.
When I sent a look to Eva, she nodded her head.
Eva had a Skill of her own. It wasn’t too useful in battle, and the girl herself didn’t really seem to like it.
Its name was 【Voice】… it amplified the sound of her voice, and let a larger number of people hear it.
And this time’s centerpiece was her stage 【Back Music】. Even without instruments, she could put on performances with her Skill.
Majestic music began to stream into the assembly hall. Eva didn’t show any signs of having done anything, and I couldn’t help but wonder where exactly the music was coming from.
(It’s rare for there to be a Skill hated by its holder. No, did it manifest precisely because she didn’t desire it? There are quite a few mysteries with Skills.)
There was a reason Eva didn’t make use of her Skill. She hated it.
She wanted her voice to reach on its own. She didn’t want to rely on a Skill.
Music was to be made of instruments, and playing them together before a crowd was the whole point. So her Skill was nothing but irksome.
Or so she said.
This time, we didn’t have the leisure or time to hire an orchestra, so I left it to her.
The atmosphere and sound, as well as the real Holy Maiden’s… no, the former Holy Maiden candidate’s appearance set the hall in silence and anticipation.
Aura-san stopped part-way down the stairs, and looked over the hall before speaking.
“I thank you all for gathering. I, Aura, am grateful to be in your presence today.”
Unmotivated, and violent… from my image of her, the girl’s current bearing was too different, I felt like I was going to laugh.
I held back and listened, but the contents were, to put it simply… let’s go forth and beat Zayin’s Divine Knights black and blue together. Because if you succeed, you’ll get government offices, and I’ll take you on as knights.
Is how it was.
Right, that was the bait for this time’s gathering. We couldn’t pay a reward. But it goes without saying we had to prepare the necessary food supplies on our side.
And Aura-san sent a glance to me.
“In order to take back Zayin, here, a new knight brigade will be formed. Its lead shall be left to the one who saved my life, Lyle-dono.”
I took a step forward, and the eyes of the gathered adventurers gathered on me.
“It will only be temporary, but I shall graciously take up the position of commander.”
“I would like to leave the role of vice commander to Creit Benini-dono.”
Creit-san was so moved, he broke into tears.
His voice as he answered was shaking a bit.
After spreading out her arms, Aura-san crossed her hands over her small chest, and made a pose of prayer.
“Here, a knight brigade… a 【Holy Knight Brigade】has been formed. Brave ones, may you sally forth with the protection of the Goddess.”
To oppose the divine knight brigade, we had formed a holy knight brigade. By the way, the naming was done on the spot.
They were barely any different.
(Well, even if it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, it’s that… the Holy Maiden’s knight brigade, or how to put it… that does sound like something that country would have. It’s a temporary name, and anyone can come along and change it later.)
It was a simple thought, but perhaps it would work out fine? And like that, the Holy Maiden’s knight brigade was dubbed the holy knight brigade.
The hall heated up again, and I got the feeling I was the only one mulling over the name so much. Now to take the next move…
(I’ll have to meet Albano-san’s party tomorrow.)
The next day, I took Miranda, and found Albano-san in a bar.
It was a store that’s sole entrance was an alleyway, and not the best place to be. But the quality of the dishes they put out was high, and the taste was delicious.
Taking a swig of ale, Albano-san looked at us.
“Assist on Zayin’s side? Don’t want to. I only ride winning horses.”
When he said that quite boldly, I gave a bitter smile, and nodded.
“That’s alright. But it’s not like swinging a weapon is all that makes a war, right?”
Around us, rough folk drank ale, and made merry.
Harlots called out to the customers in the bar, but they didn’t come closer to us, as Miranda was at the table.
Albano-san looked at us with his cup still held against his face.
Miranda extended a hand towards her food.
“What we want to leave to you is spreading rumors in Zayin. That the former Holy Maiden candidate has stood up, and that she will wage war on Zayin.”
Albano-san thought over it. Rather than hesitating, it looked as if he didn’t understand.
“… I do know you lot are making some flashy moves. Making use of Creit’s rock-headedness, and spreading rumors on your own?”
“It’s to win. We’ve no intentions of losing. Of course, I’ve not a preference for losing battles.”
It’s a family tradition. We won’t fight losing battles. Only the Third threw down his life to buy time, but that was because it was a necessity.
It wasn’t for his own loss, he lost his life for a greater victory.
“Nice! I like guys like you. But what will you do by spreading rumors? If that’s all there is to it, I will admit there’s no demerit to us, though.”
He seemed to think it may be a trap.
“Yes, spreading rumors is all we need. After that, it’ll embellish itself on its own. And there are a number of rumors I’d like you to leak. Please spread them in order. Ah, I’ll put up the funds for your food and drink while in Zayin. Once you’re done spreading them, you need only return.”
Neither me nor Miranda expected him to do the job properly. But rather than having him carry it out, we wanted the fact to remain that we had made the request to him.
When we were making so many showy moves, we believed there were those watching us.
“… Hmm, well if that’s all, then why not. But I’ve a request of my own.”
“What could it be?”
When I said that, Albano-san made a serious expression.
“Let me in on this matter.”
Miranda was a little wary as she uncrossed her legs under the table so she could move at a moment’s notice.
And smiling, she…
“What could you mean by that? You want to join in? I can’t see you working well alongside Creit-san, you know?”
Albano-san put his hands up on the backrest of his chair, and turned his body diagonally towards us.
“What, I don’t care about that knight brigade. I just want to get out of this lowly lifestyle of mine. No, make that we. We’re a hopeless gathering of trash. But look here… we don’t have to be at the top, but we have our longings for a respectable life. When that chance is rolling around in front of us, isn’t grasping at it the human thing to do?”
I breathed out a sigh.
“So what exactly do you want?”
“I’ll take up the request. While I’m at it, how about you tell me what you’ll be doing over there?”
The Third let his voice from the Jewel.
『Well, we’re only doing this to show our enemies that we’re making a move. I don’t think there’ll be a problem if he betrays, but…』
I looked at the responses on the Search Skill. Albano-san was giving off a blue signal. And there was also a red party in the bar.
When I sent a wary glance their way, Miranda saw, and noticed as well.
“You’ll find adventurers here on one side or the other. Those guys are on Zayin’s side. They may go out to sell info on us. My party will take on those sorts for you. You guys don’t look too skilled in that field.”
We weren’t the best at it, I concede.
“… And what reward do you want?”
“Money, status, fame… I’d like to say all of them, but let’s just say I want something considerable. Even if it isn’t a Zayin governmental position, something like a medal others will recognize. Former bandits… as long as I can get rid of that label.”
With an earnest face, I nodded.
“Come to think of it, Albano-san?”
“Zayin’s knight brigade… do you happen to know of their elite force?”
“Those guys that do the dirty work? Yeah, I know them; what of it? From my point of view, I can only be envious. They do the dirty work, and people call them the god damn elites.”
“Would you be interested in that elite force?”
Albano-san made a face as if he couldn’t comprehend my words.
Miranda inferred what I was thinking. She put her hand to her chin, looked at Albano-san, and nodded a number of times.
“Well, maybe it’s just right. Oil and water.”
And said that.
I spent my time carrying out such preparations, and in two weeks’ time, Alette-san came over to the manor.
What she brought with her was a letter.
I accepted it in the parlor, and looked at her face.
“I’m looking forward to our meeting with the crown princess.”
When I said that with a smile, Alette-san made a dubious expression.
“You already brazenly investigated it beforehand… that’s quite a nice personality you have there, Lyle-kun.”
“I graciously accept your words of praise.”
She likely didn’t want it to come to this. But with those three cards in my hand when the meeting was proposed, I thought I’d surely be able to meet the princess.
Even if I myself wasn’t of such high position.
Alette-san looked at my face.
“… I’ll just say this beforehand, but if you won’t come under Lorphys’ umbrella, we can’t back your cause. Even if we can cooperate.”
Funds, goods, manpower… I knew Lorphys didn’t have the leisure to send such things around.
That’s why I didn’t depend on them.
“I don’t mind. All I desire is that things may go well for both of us. I do think you will profit from it as well.”
There, Alette-san addressed me.
“This is… I’m not certain, but I think you should deliver it to the former Holy Maiden candidate Aura-dono. It seems there’s been a movement.”
Seeing her mutter that in irritation, I nodded.
“Right, that fiancé prince did take up a stay, did he? Quite a troublesome thing when war is approaching.”
While she made it clear she shared my opinion, Alette-san didn’t say anything to that effect.
“I don’t think the results will come out how you think they will, Lyle-kun.”
I smiled, and heard a voice from the Jewel.
It was the Seventh’s voice.
『Results? That’s something you take for yourself. And our preparations are already onto the next stage. There’s no stopping it anymore.』
The Fourth as well.
『If we stop here, it’ll be a large blow… hah.』
I ignored his depression, and spoke to Alette-san.
“We’ll try to do something about it.”
“That so? Even so, that maid of yours isn’t here today, I see.”
When I saw her look around the room, I smiled, and nodded.
… It was a fortress on the outskirts of Zayin.
It had once been put to use, but now the knights dispatched to it had little to do. Its soldiers were just hired from the surrounding villages.
It had been constructed to mark the border with Lorphys border, but that line had been pushed back, and the fortress had lost its role.
Even so, it had close to fifty stationed, and it was maintained for the sake of it. The reason its expanse was unproportional to the few people gathered was due to its lack of strategic value.
The soldier on duty sighed atop the fortress’s wall. A soldier from the same village walked over.
“What’s that? Were you gambling late into the night or something?”
The yawning man spoke in contempt.
“What else is there to do? Even if they give us money, there’s nowhere to use it in this bloody fort. The knights have no motivation. Even if we train, there’s no meaning to it. This fort should just be demolished already.”
There wasn’t any helping the young soldier saying such a thing.
In the meaningless 【Fort Noinyl】, the demoted knights didn’t seem to care, and the place reeked of alcohol from morning to dusk.
The subordinate soldiers’ morale was endlessly low.
“Hah, even when there’s a war with Lorphys… it sure is peaceful here.”
Looking into the distance, the soldier murmured.
“Huh? Is that a horse in the sky… oy! Isn’t that a quilin!?”
“You screwing with me!? Where!? … It’s really flying. Without wings.”
The soldiers were excited over such a rare sight. And the others stationed in the fort were the same. Without any stories to speak of, the boring fortress was soon roused by the sighting of the quilin.
It didn’t take much time at all for the hungover knights to stumble outside, and see the quilin spanning the sky.
“Quilins are supposed to bring good luck, right? Then something good will happen to us as well…”
But a single one of them rose their voice.
“E-enemy attack! It’s an enemy attack!!”
The bell was promptly sounded, and the knights and soldiers knew what that meant, but no one took up a weapon as they looked outside the fortress walls in surprise.
Outside, was what looked like a large iron-made box with a cylinder furnished on its side. Even without a horse, it was steadily moving.
“W-what the hell is that! Why did you lot let it get so close!?”
The hungover knight opened his eyes, and grasped the lapel of the soldier. But the knight himself was in trousers and a shirt… he didn’t have a weapon on hand.
“T-the quilin caught my attention.”
There, one of the soldiers shouted out.
“That can’t be…”
On top of the metallic box was a girl in a white dress. A cloth rendered her face invisible. Her wavy brown hair was clear enough, though.
“The Holy Maiden?”
The fortress’ soldiers had never seen the real Holy Maiden before. They had only ever seen the previous Holy Maiden Thelma a handful of times.
The knights determined that was wrong. Her outfit was different, but she had a certain air to her.
In that case… he recalled a rumor.
A single knight spoke.
“… So it’s Aura-sama!”
Having escaped from Zayin, she hand rose to action in Beim, and was gathering soldiers, or so the rumors went. But the knights hadn’t anticipated she wold come to such a remote regions.
“Why is she in such a desolate…”
A soldier asked.
“What should we do!? Is it alright if we shoot some arrows!?”
Before any orders could be issued to the soldiers, the iron box carrying the Holy Maiden had come all the way to the gate. And the large cylinder turned towards the center of the gate.
“What are your intentions. Dammit! Get your weapons at the ready! That is a fake! There’s no way she’d…”
After the knight had said that much, a violent explosive sound rocked the fort. A number of soldiers collapsed on the spot, and smoke was coming out of the area around the gate.
The knight immediately looked towards it, to see close to a hundred men stream into the fortress walls. With those fully-armed soldiers streaming in, the knight quickly remembered he was unarmed, and retreated further in
There, with her shoulders, stomach, and thighs exposed, and with separate cloths lazily covering her arms, chest, and waist, a young girl descended from the sky.
“W-who are you!”
The knight put his hand to his waist, but he had left his sword behind. To the giggling girl, the knight snatched a spear off a nearby soldier, and let out a thrust.
As the girl dodged it, she continued into a spinning kick, and kicked the man off of his feet.
The kicked knight rolled along the ground, before colliding with the wall, and losing consciousness.
When another knight said that, the intruders ran up the steps, surrounding the ones atop the wall.
Determining they were beaten in numbers and equipment, the knight.
“… We surrender.”
He surrendered. If it was really the force of the one calling herself the rightful Holy Maiden, Aura, he calculated that nothing terrible would happen to them.
The young girl spoke.
“Hurry and tie them up. Aura-sama is coming. And send out troops to secure edible supplies from the area. Gather up soldiers as well. It’s our victory if we can finish preparing before the enemy comes.”
Hearing that, the knight was sure about it.
(Dammit, for us to lose without fighting…)
So the knight was bound, but he noticed the one binding him wasn’t the most skillful. His men relieved of their weapons, the soldiers were being bound one after the next. The knights began to move. As he was being transported down the stairs, a voice called out to the enemy soldier who’d bound him.
“Oy, help out over here.”
“No, I have to move this one to the dungeon…”
To the troubled enemy soldier, the knight.
“I’ve surrendered. I shant run. And you’ve bound me so I can’t run to begin with.”
There, the enemy soldier pretended to hesitate, before going back up the stairs.
The knight grinned, as he descended with his bindings still on, and proceeded to undo the ropes.
“Amateurs. It looks like she scraped together some adventurers, but she could only get a hundred at that. They’re not even sufficient in supplies.”
He hid so as not to be found, as he proceeded through the fortress, heading for where he’d tethered his horse.
And after straddling the saddle, he set it running towards the destroyed remains of the gate.
The enemy cried out something towards him, but the knight ignored it.
(If I bring this info back with me, I’ll be saved. Let’s say we confronted the enemy, put up a good fight, but were breached. And that I did my best to convey the message…)
Aiming for Zayin’s capital, the knight galloped on…