Inside the fort.
In a place that looked to be a conference room, I moved pieces on a map in accordance to the recon I had done with May.
The important members were gathered, and there were three large game pieces crossing the map.
Creit-san cried out.
“T-three thousand!? N-no, we have some soldiers gathered from the surroundings. Around three hundred capable of battle. Then with that number…”
We may be able to do something. When we was about to say that, he put his hand to his mouth, and thought.
I looked at the top of the map.
(The three thousand soldiers are elites dispatched from the capital… on top of that, they have enough weapons to siege. Isn’t that a bit of a treasure?)
I looked to Thelma-san. Hearing of three thousand, she had crossed her arms in front of her chest. A gesture that looked as if she were praying.
“Thelma-san, would three thousand be a majority of Zayin’s forces? Ah, by forces, I mean the forces they keep in the capital.”
Thelma-san spoke to me.
“I can’t speak in precise numbers. In my generation, there was an extreme decline in war, so there was an increase in population. If they recruited from the area, I believe they would be able to maintain four thousand.”
“If you include the squadrons from across the land, it would be ten and five thousand. They can’t pull much of that from the border.”
He seemed to think we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our role, so I shook my head.
“That’s enough. Are the capital’s unit of higher quality than the provincial ones?”
The sensory input I got from May, and my Skill 【Real Spec】 showed numeric values that indicated our foe surpassed us in terms of equipment.
Thelma-san to me.
“They’re better trained, and the quality of their equipment is high. In my time, I had maintained them at one thousand.”
Military might was a necessity, but the uptake cost was high. Even if that number was recruited from the populace, just how much would have to go into training and equipment…
(Even if we’re to fight a defensive battle from the fort, it isn’t an unwinnable battle.)
When I thought that, a sarcastic voice came from the Jewel. It was the Third.
『How could this be! The enemy is sending three thousand elites!』
The Fourth as well.
『Thinking about it normally, when they learned our numbers, I thought they would sent a thousand at most. Does that make the enemy command a skilled one, or not?』
The Fifth was…
『We can win on the defense, but we’d lose in a war.』
I won’t way we can’t beat three thousand enemies. But it wouldn’t reflect well on our next actions. In that case, we wouldn’t get the essential result we wished for.
The Seventh too.
『If they’re evaluating us accurately, they have quite a commander on them. In truth, with three thousand, even if we ambush them in an open field, I’m sure they could get back at us.』
Right, the land around Noinyl was open plains. And in such fields, numbers couldn’t help but do the talking.
But the Third and up…
『Then we don’t have to fight them at all! How bold of them to leave their citadel open! I’d never do anything like that!』
『Just abandon the fortress! And aim for…』
『… The capital. Thinking of their remaining forces, that’s sounds best.』
『We could increase our troops in the villages along the way. It does seem the capital and provinces have a different set of values, after all.』
… And the abandonment of the fortress was decided.
When I touched the Jewel, the Third explained.
『It’s not that you can’t win, but you’ll pile up casualties, and there’s a possibility you’ll be rendered immobile for some time, right? And as the other side has taken out siege weapons, their movement speed will be slow. In contrast, we have small numbers… there are numerous paths that lead to the capital, while your enemy will feel prideful with its numbers. Uwah, things are coming together so well it’s actually scary.』
The information I got from May was precisely displayed in my head. While they were keeping wary of their surroundings, their movements were clearly making light of us.
The Fifth spoke.
『Also. If you have Zayin’s people fight themselves ragged amongst themselves, it’ll become a pain later. While I’m at it… if the enemy mainly consists of inhabitants of the capital, it’ll be advantageous if we go on the defense.』
(Even when they have the terrain advantage? And even if we take down the capital, will everything really go as we want it? If the populace itself opposes up, isn’t that the end?)
And as I thought to myself, the members around looked anxious. The Seventh let out his voice.
『Lyle, don’t forget the Sixth’s words. Have some confidence… don’t let your men worry. And this battle is proceeding quite favorably.』
That opinion differed from mine, but if the ancestors were saying it, I chose to believe in them. I raised my face, laughed, and spoke to everyone.
“We’re abandoning the fort. And we’ll go into recruiting soldiers from the villages and towns as we make our way for the capital. Gastone-san, please indicate the villages that would be easiest to take in. Ah, this is the enemy’s likely trajectory, so only ones away from that, please.”
Shen I said that, everyone was dumbfounded.
Aria looked at me as she acted as a representative to speak everyone’s opinion.
“Eh? The capital… are you serious? I mean, its defenses are much more amazing than what we’ve got here, aren’t they?”
The one to answer was Aura-san. While looking at me.
“In these cases, wouldn’t the usual route be to take down nearby fortresses?”
There, the Third in the Jewel let out his voice.
『That’s wrong. No matter how much a decoration they may be… the King… no, in this case, the Holy Maiden. If we take the Holy Maiden, then at that very moment, it becomes our victory. Even if you call them a figurehead, that has nothing to do with the people. Now then, our plans went a little off course, but let’s have some fun with this!』
“It’s alright. It’s only become easier than planned. Also, the capital will likely use their mercenary brigades to intercept us. Now then, let’s get into the preparations.”
I hit my hands together twice, and everyone’s faces were taken aback.
I tried to soften the mood with a light joke…
“Let’s have some fun with it.”
When I said that, the surrounding expressions looked appalled. I was trying to lighten the mood, but as I thought, it seems I’m not suited to jokes.
… It was a town on the border of Zayin and Lorphys.
The mercenaries of Zayin’s side had gathered, looking forward to the orders to attack, as they waited.
But according to the notice that had come in, the supreme commander, the knight captain had headed for Fort Noinyl to subjugate the former Holy Maiden who’d taken a stand.
So yet another postponement was made.
A majority of the brigades had contracted for cheap. The reason being that pillaging Lorphys was permitted, and they could swipe whatever they wanted.
But if they weren’t attacking there wasn’t anything to steal. The small skirmishes didn’t generate any real profit, and the mercenaries’ dissatisfaction built up by the day.
In a place like that, Albano struck up a conversation with one of the brigade chiefs.
“Bloody hell! If that’s the case, we should’ve tried our luck elsewhere!”
Hitting his cup a number of times against the small round table, the chief put his displeasure to words. Albano was the same.
“I know, right? Hired at a bargain, and put on standby. In that case, it’d be much better to find work elsewhere.”
The chief agreed. But there was a reason he was out drinking with Albano.
“Albano, is it really that Holy Knight brigade from Beim? The former Holy Maiden who formed it only had up to a hundred soldiers, right?”
It was to gather information.
“Yeah, no doubt about it. That was the number in Beim. But she’s quite a popular one. A sharp one to top it off.”
Hearing that, the chief didn’t show a reaction. So Albano…
“It may be that the knight captain’s going to lose.”
The chief laughed.
“Now that sounds nice! If that high and mighty Divine Knight pretending to be a noble loses, it’ll finally be our turn.”
There, Albano spoke tiredly.
“You sure are stupid. In all actuality, if the knight captain falls, it’ll be the end. If the three thousand elites of the capital lose, how do you think they’re going to fight Lorphys?”
Hearing that, the chief put his hand to his chin. This side still had the numerical advantage, but for Lorphys, their country itself was at stake.
He could anticipate they would put up a harsh resistance.
“And it’s only a hundred, you see. At most, four or five hundred, yet they’ll send three thousand? Zayin’s top dogs desperately want that former Holy Maiden to disappear, or so the rumor goes. I’m thinking there’s something dark going on in the back rooms.”
Hearing that, the chief slapped his hand on the table. When he removed, it there were a few silver coins left behind.
“Speak your mind. Based on its contents, I may up your reward.”
With his brigade’s members’ lives in his hand, the chief needed to know as much as he could. Because based on how things turned out, there was the possibility it would take a turn for the worst.
Albano took the coins, and took a swig of ale.
“You sure are generous. Then I’ll sell you a special one. I learned it in Beim, but Selva’s moving strangely. You know how their second prince was sent in as a groom, right? What’s more, before the former Holy Maiden made it to Beim, the Divine Knight elites moved to get rid of her.”
Albano took out the sword hung at his waist, and left it on the table. It was a dagger without any engravings on it. A dagger of the Divine Knights.
But as a weapon held by the assassination squad, there was nothing on it to identify its source. It was too weak to serve as evidence.
“I got it from an acquaintance who defeated them. That former Holy Maiden… it’s possible she’s got a hold on some considerably bad information.”
“That doesn’t serve to prove anything.”
(As I thought. But I only need him to infer I have a connection with Lyle. After that…)
“Don’t rush me. In truth, they did get attacked. It’s also true they ran to Beim, and it’s true that they gathered personnel. That’s why the elites are being sent to Fort Noinyl… it’s possible the one moving behind this war is Selva. They may be planning to play hero, and beat us down once we’ve damaged Lorphys.”
“For what sake?”
“Who knows… but if they save a tattered Lorphys, won’t Selva’s influence in the area rise?”
Albano let him infer the implication that the mercenaries were there to act as sacrifices to that cause…
… Fort Noinyl.
Before it stood the dumbfounded figure of Armand on his horse.
“… What does this mean?”
He had surrounded the fortress, set up the siege weapons, and begun the assault. Upon arriving, there wasn’t the slightest sign of the enemy, so he made sure to keep watch of the area as well.
But even after they attacked the fortress, there wasn’t the slightest reaction. After they easily destroyed the gate, and sent their soldiers in, all that awaited was empty space.
A messenger ran up to give a report.
“Captain! They left this behind.”
What the messenger held was a single sheet of paper.
『We’re taking the capital. Want to see if you can get there before its fall?』
… Was written, and Armand clenched and crushed it in his hand.
“That conniving wench! All forces, set out for the capital at once!”
Conniving wench… he meant Thelma.
There, his adjutant knight spoke up.
“Please wait! After marching so far, the soldiers are showing signs of fatigue. And if we are to move after dismantling the siege engines…”
“Fool! Taking only those that can move is fine! If things go as they are, the capital will fall!”
“No way. The enemy number five hundred at most. And even now, there is close to a thousand able fighting men in the capital. It won’t fall so easily.”
Hearing that, Armand muttered a, ‘that’s true,’ but he still had his misgivings.
“… Even so! Return at once! Rearrange the troop formations for mobility!”
The adjutant responded, but his expression was one showing doubt of Armand…
… Zayin’s capital.
The gate should have been sealed tight.
But it was wide open. The enemy soldiers flooded in. even so, there weren’t any traces of the gate having been forced open.
There was an element of negligence to it, bud before anyone knew it, they had breached the gate, and opened it.
They had permitted themselves onto the grounds of the sacred temple.
Armored knights held up their weapons at the enemies coming in. What the knights protected was Remis… the Holy Maiden.
The enemy before them had bloodstains over his armor of blue and while. He wore a helmet with a faceplate, so they couldn’t see his face.
Remis looked at that knight who seemed to be leading the charge, and shook.
“What is this; what are you people!!?”
On her words, her own knights tried to slash at him, but he cut them down with the sabre in his right hands.
And that knight in the most conspicuous attire wiped the blood off his blade, and spoke to Remis surrounded by the other temple virgins.
“You’re Remis Zayin, correct?”
As a shaking Remis was unable to respond, a familiar girl walked up from behind that enemy knight.The enemy force opened up a path as Aura boldly walked up to stand before her.
“There’s no doubt about it. It’s Remis…”
Seeing aura’s slightly sorrowful expression, Remis spoke.
“Do you understand what you’ve done!? This is rebellion! Doing all this just to get back at losing to me… don’t think it’ll end well for you!”
There, Aura replied.
“Could it be you’re counting on Selva?”
Remis twitched, and sent her field of vision around the room. Aura didn’t let that slide.
“… I already know you’ve linked hands with Selva.”
There, Remis went into a frenzy.
“What of it!? That old crone may not know, but that’s Zayin! That’s what we’ve done to come all the way here!”
Aura spat out a sigh.
“As I thought.”
Remis hurriedly averted her eyes.
(What is the meaning of this? Didn’t that Armand head out for the fort? Could it be these guys defeated Armand?)
In her fear, Remis began to reconsider the scale of the enemy forces.
(They defeated three thousand, and managed to invade us? What does this mean… don’t you need three times the resident force to take a castle!?)
A feminine armored knight extended strings from her fingertips to bind her and the other virgins. Restrained on the floor, Remis looked up at Aura.
“Hah, what’s with that pervert garment you wear!? Your lacking chest is on full display!”
Remis put up a strong front, but Aura leaned in, and spoke.
“I’m sorry, but we’ll be having you die for us.”
Remis looked upon Aura’s smile with weary eyes…
After imprisoning the Holy Maiden, we boldly declared in the temple.
“The Holy maiden Remis has fallen before the true Holy Maiden… before Aura Zayin! Throw down your weapons! Surrender, and your lives shall be spared!”
When Gastone-san gave that same declaration in the plaza out front, the people began to gather. And they seemed dumbfounded at the news of the rebellion ending before they knew it.
When the soldiers stationed on the ramparts heard the ruckus, and returned to the temple, they found that everything was already over.
I watched over them, as I made sure that no one was making any suspicious movements.
Light… I wore extremely light armor for appearance alone, and used the Skill 【Connection】 to establish communication with a separate detachment.
『Aria, how are things on your side?』
I received a reply.
『The knights have been disarmed. And wait, it seems they don’t know the scope of our forces.』
Before dawn, the squadron that rode May over the walls… she carried us, and we opened the gates
After that, we only pressed forward, and pushed all the way to the temple.
At dawn, it didn’t take too long to bring an end to it all.
I checked in with Eva.
『Eva, how fare the ramparts?』
『The gate has been closed, and the enemy has yet to come. Well, even if they’re returning, it’ll take a few days regardless of how they rush, won’t it?』
Inside the temple.
There were still some who’d holed themselves inside, so I had Creit-san and co. deal with those.
I guided Novem and Miranda, and notified them of the position of hidden enemies.
『Miranda, one’s hiding in the next room.』
On the map in my head, the red and blue, and yellow points moved around. It was possible to share that info with everyone, but as they weren’t used to it, it ended up causing headaches.
So I verbalized the info, and cleaned up the temple interior.
『Don’t kill too much.』
When I said that, Miranda…
『If they don’t resist, I’ll consider it.』
At that moment, Thelma-san began an address to the people gathered outside. In order to persuade them, and to refer them to Aura-san.
I decided to concentrate there.
(We have around six hundred… we have to get this area under control, whatever the means.)
We haphazardly gathered troops as we moved, and led them into the capital.
The armor I wore was a fake made by Monica. The reason for its low weight was because it wasn’t only metal. It also had wooden parts, and it was only there to look the part.
Because we didn’t have time to prepare it.
(Damn, why have we been pressed into this last-second situation?)
I was panicking inside, as I grandly stood to watch over Thelma-san and Aura-san’s address.
I heard voices from the Jewel.
Third and up.
『With this, you have a Holy Maiden in your hands.』
『And a national treasury at that.』
『Since it’s come to this, the mercenaries’ movements will change.』
『Hmm… we’ll have to send a message to Lorphys. That the time has come.』
They were taking their time. As always, they were reliable in times like these.
But the amount of voices I could hear had gone down. I felt a bit lonely, as I inclined an ear to the speech, and kept watch.