I Want to Stand Out!
The parlor of the mansion. I had called Zayin’s High Priest Gastone-san.
And Lorphys’ Prime Minister Lonbolt-san.
Knight of Lorphys, Alette-san along as an escort, I carried out negotiations alongside Adele-san.
Diagonally behind me was Monica.
Maksim-san occupied that position behind Adele-san. And Alette-san stood similarly behind Lonbolt-san. When she heard my proposal, her expression crumbled.
Seeing that, I was sure the Third was grinning as he spoke.
『Just because you’re friends, you can’t go off showing your expression like that little Alette-chan. We’re making a proposal that benefits all parties, aren’t we?』
And I’m sure the Fourth was making a serious expression. Irritated at that.
『What’s she so worried about here!? It’ll cut down whatever you lot borrowed from Beim! Don’t think we’re not aware of your financial situation!』
The Fifth, fed up as he was.
『By the way, we also know full well how many troops you can mobilize.』
Gastone-san looked even more worn out than before. And he confirmed over my proposal.
“F-from both countries… five thousand troops from Zayin and Lorphys? No matter how you look at it, that is…”
I made a serious expression.
“That’s wrong. It’s five thousand troops each. You’ll be putting out ten thousand total. By the way, this is speaking in terms of pure fighting power. It doesn’t include a count for support roles.”
The reason I demanded troops from both countries was simple. If I didn’t, we wouldn’t win. No, perhaps I should say we wouldn’t fulfill the conditions for victory I was aiming for.
Beim was a land where adventurers gathered.
If you wanted to look at its able fighting force, it could instantly scrape up a hundred thousand. But that would be a volunteer army of adventurers and residents.
An inconsistent hundred thousand. There were mercenary brigades as well, and there were well-drilled groups around for what they were worth, but getting them together would be difficult.
Lonbolt-san’s calm expression had crumbled.
“That is impossible in our present state. We’re having enough trouble as it is getting the land we’ve only just gotten our hands of under control.”
And that I knew. As I wasn’t opening my mouth, Adele-san spoke up.
“But in the off chance Beim fails in defense, even if they don’t face defeat, a large mass of monsters will flow across the lands. At that time, can you say for sure none of them will flow into Zayin or Lorphys? To add to that, Lyle-san’s participation in this defense has already been set in stone. It’s only a matter of time before Beim begins to pressure you as well.”
Gastone-san groaned. Both countries were quite close to Beim. So up to this point, they had racked up quite a debt with the city.
Even in that last war, they had a loan from Beim. So we planned to make that loan into a favor, and exploit it.
With something like this happening, it’s only natural they seek assistance.
“How does two thousand troops sound? That much should be enough to carry a large part of the defense.”
On Lonbolt-san’s proposal, the Seventh scoffed.
『Well that’s not enough. In that case, we won’t stand out in the slightest!』
I crossed my legs, and crossed my arms over them.
“You think that is enough to gain Beim’s gratitude? Massive debt… if we cannot reduce it here, change shall not come to both of your countries’ harsh financial affairs. And what I’ll be defending is the front most lines.”
“The front most… line. You’re not sane. And why must we do it?”
Isn’t that obvious? Why should Zayin and Lorphys undertake the life and death battle of the front most lines? Is there really a need to go that far for Beim?
I spoke quite plainly.
“I won’t say the current delegate is a failure, but up to this point, both countries have borrowed, and borrowed more. That bloated debt is a considerable sum, isn’t it? At this rate, it really is just going to keep growing.”
The repayment couldn’t keep up. And perhaps in an attempt to repay it, a war and even more debt…
The thing called money really was a monster.
Beim had an influential voice in its surrounding countries, and that was a reason it was independent.
Gastone-san turned to me, and spoke. It felt like he’d given up a bit.
“What are our chances? And what sort of terms do you plan to pull out of Beim? The adventurers’ Guild and merchants aren’t easy.”
It does seem Gastone-san was going to assist me. Having lost an ally, Lonbolt-san was making a reproachful expression.
The Third laughed.
『That’s right! When your country’s savior is asking, it’s downright embarrassing to send out less troops than the smaller Zayin! Even when we nearly doubled your landmass for you!』
I made a smile.
Chances? That’s uncertain as long as we don’t know the scale of our enemy monsters. But if I told them there were some uncertain factors, and that it was dangerous, I couldn’t think they would send out troops.
“We will win. Through victory, we shall show the world. The power of the reborn Zayin and Lorphys.”
I was sweating quite heavily inside. I may be sending masses of soldiers to their deaths. It was on a different level from when I was only a supporting role to Lorphys.
The scale had grown to the tens of thousands range.
Lonbolt-san lowered his shoulders.
“… Please know we won’t be satisfied with a mere ten percent cut in debt.”
“Of course. Let’s wring them out for all they’ve got. And… Don’t you think Beim holds a little too much power?”
I turned a grin to the two of them, and began speaking of my plans from here on.
Alette-san quietly mumbled.
“Lyle-san, you’re even worse than I thought you were.”
… In Beim’s Guild Headquarters, the urgently-gathered management were conducting negotiations with their guests.
Those guests were Zayin’s High Priest, and Lorphys’ Prime Minister.
As the guard and support of her superior of the East Branch, who’d been called in, Tanya was participating in the meeting.
(For him to move that fast. What’s more, these two…)
The two leaders with light reflecting off their smooth heads had come forth to offer assistance in Beim’s time of crisis.
That part was all and good. The Guild and Beim’s merchants had partly been lending out money for a time like this.
But the extent of their assistance had exceeded Beim’s estimates.
Lonbolt stood from his chair, and slammed a fist on the table.
“How can this be!? When we’re preparing five thousand in pure fighting forces, you’ll drive us to the sidelines in this defense!? What codswallop is this!?”
Tanya watched over the meeting trying to keep up a poker face. Her superior was making a troubled expression, and as expected, he was a little panicked.
“No, while we appreciate the sentiment, if you call that the pure fighting force… how much would your full forces number?”
Lonbolt stuck out his chest.
“They’re sure to surpass eight thousand. My elite men of Lorphys will surely protect your city of Beim!”
(That’s almost all their troops. Even if you do that, it’s just troubling for us. Send two or three thousand, and that’s enough to…)
Originally, they wanted to have both countries dispatch five thousand total. And stationing them in places facing difficulty in defense, Beim wanted to concentrate its own forces.
The High Priest Gastone agreed with Lonbolt.
“Zayin holds the same sentiment. What’s more, our hero of salvation, Lyle-dono is participating in this war, wishing for the foremost lines of war. The Holy Knights are already prepared. We’ll surely be able to move nine thousand when the time comes.”
That side had also prepared the maximum number of troops it could move.
The adventurers’ Guild, and the merchant representatives laughed.
“Well thanks for that.”
“No, you’re both so reliable.”
“But having you go that far is…”
Don’t do anything unnecessary, was likely what the executives participating in the meeting were thinking. Over all else, they were going so far to have the front lines left to them.
Beim anticipated that the foremost line would be breached.
And if in that time, a large number of casualties were to surface, they would have to provide reimbursement in kind. Beim would. And if they said something like, ‘you went and helped us on your own, so we won’t offer a reward,’ it would create a problem of trust down the line.
Gastone let out a low voice.
“If Beim falls, we will not get out of this safely. So in this battle, Zayin shall be using all its forces. But if we were to make such an announcement within the country, complaints are sure to surface.”
There, one of the executives bit on.
“I’m sure. So why not dispatch half that number, and let Beim handle the–”
Lonbolt took over Gastone’s explanation, and cut off the executive’s remark.
“However! Having taken the front lines of our own accord, we’ll ask no reward for failure. Yes, then how does that sound? Embarrassing as it may be, my country has a debt with Beim. If it is written off, there will be no problems between us.”
Hearing those words, a number of executives confirmed their suspicions, and narrowed their eyes. Tanya’s superior nearby also spoke quietly to himself.
“Well, of course it comes to that. But money-wise…”
One of the executives spoke.
“You speak of sums too great… we appreciate the assistance of both your countries, but your debt is no small one, is it not? A sum that large is… understood. How does twenty percent sound?”
From the start, they were willing to decrease it by thirty. They had calculated that given the time, it would return to its original value, and that reduction was only planned to reduce dissatisfactions.
It was that sort of bait, but…
Gastone opened his eyes wide.
“By the goddess! Our assistance only holds that much value to you!? Alas, it does seem you understand just how much both Zayin and Lorphys are putting into this single battle. Very well then. I’ll add on another two thousand… oh, in that case, I am lacking in supplies.”
“Gastone-dono, the supplies will be prepared by Beim. You need not worry. Yet, for them to value us at twenty percent… understood. Then we will be fine if you leave but ten percent of the debt still standing.”
After that, the two of them refused to be swayed, and in the end, thinking them worthy of the foremost line destined to collapse, the Beim side promised a seventy percent cancellation of debt.
In exchange, they couldn’t provide any compensation for those killed in action.
The two leaders spoke with smiles.
“Very well, I must return at once, and return to Aura-sama.”
“There are some preparations to be made in Lorphys, so I must take my leave.”
After the two of them had left, a few of the executives…
“Even if they get some tens of thousands of deaths, as long as the debt goes down, they’ve no complaints? Quite a greedy priest and minister we have here.”
“Rites for the deceased, and treatment for the injured. They’re going to come crying to Beim in the end. There’s no problem.”
And the meeting changed gears to the defense of Beim.
Tanya tried thinking over who was moving the two countries from the shadows…
(Could it really be Lyle-kun?)
“Could you prepare a few Valkyrie units before the army of monsters starts making its move? I’d like you to put them together as fast as possible.”
Having dropped by the mansion’s warehouse, I looked over the golem Damien and old Letarta had put together, and tried asking.
The human skeleton portion had been completed, and some mechanical parts had been installed on top.
The torso portion, and the limbs were being produced separately, and at this point, it didn’t look anything like the form of a woman. A liquid-filled conical tank had been prepared, and if I only watched it, it truly looked as if dubious experiments were being carried out here.
Damien took off his gloves.
“Well that’s quite sudden. This stuff took up quite some money, but if we simplified, and got them together… it’ll take even more money, but maybe five units?”
Old Letarta rested his tool against his shoulder.
“If you want ones of the same construction as this girl here, then three. But what’s this all of a sudden?”
Holed up in the mansion’s warehouse, gleefully putting golems together, the two of them didn’t seem to have an understanding of the situation around Beim.
So I explained it. Damien didn’t sound all too interested regardless.
“Sounds just about right for a combat test. But in that case, the enemy’s an army of monsters… it’s best we prepare three of these ones.”
Old Letarta also nodded.
“Yes, that definitely sounds best.”
If both of them were saying that.
“Then please put together three. I want to get them on the front lines as soon as possible. No, the transport will also be necessary, so I’ll need to take a few round trips between Beim and the fort.”
Hearing that, Damien turned, and looked at the large Porter.
“Want to use that? Just take us in the last load. Its controls are the same.”
Looking at the modified Porter model that looked like it could carry massive amounts of cargo, I nodded at once.
“I’ll use it with pleasure.”
Damien looked at me, touching his hand to his chin.
“You look busy. Where are you going next?”
I recited my next destination with a smile.
Old Letarta, upon hearing that.
“The young lady’s place? That sounds about right.”
… He nodded.
(Right. Let’s fan the flames a bit, and ask for aid. And wait, is there really a need to fan them?)
With the ancestors’ advice as a base, I turned to my next actions.
“THAT DAMN GIGOLOOOOO!!”
In his own room, Fidel Trēs lowered both his fists on his desk.
“I will be heading for the front lines to protect Beim. So I came to ask for some financial aid… father-in-law.”
Recalling Lyle’s grinning face, Fidel lowered his fists a number of times, getting his well-ordered hair in a mess.
“It’s not like the front lines are going to hold, so when I said I’d back him… goddammiiiit!!”
Fidel was a merchant. He couldn’t say he wouldn’t support Lyle, who had resolved himself for Beim’s foremost battlements.
If he was going to disappear here, it was a cheap buy. So he promised his aid. There, Vera…
“I-I don’t have any more money, but take the cannons and guns from my ship. You can break them if you want, but make sure you come back, okay?”
She said, with her head hung in worry.
Irked as he was, he managed to endure that one. But as if to rile him up, Lyle embraced Vera before Fidel’s eyes.
“D-don’t worry. I’ll definitely come back to your side.”
He said, as he clung to the man’s precious daughter. If his subordinates weren’t there, he’d have loaded the boy with balls of lead, or so burned the hatred in his chest.
“And he kept taking glances my way to agitate me, that greenhorn!!”
With Lyle purposely stirring him up with each and every action, Fidel couldn’t take it anymore.
“When the Guild told him to join in, forget hesitation, he gleefully jumped to the fray… not a hint of lovableness in that child. But this is the end. Even he can’t block several tens of thousands of monster.”
Beim had prepared a fort.
They had a fort near the border for times like these, but a Labyrinth out of control could spew out countless foes. There’s no way it could be blocked.
It couldn’t be helped the front line be breached, and the second, and third defensive lines were there to whittle away at the numbers as well. As long as the city of Beim was untouched, they could regain their footing no matter what happened. That was the verdict of Fidel and the merchants.
“The Guild is feckless. Just because two countries felt cooperative, they wrote off a majority of their debt. Well, if they get crushed here, they’re going to be dependent on Beim again within the next ten years.”
He had regained his composure, but even now, he felt his innards boiling as he thought over the amount to send to Lyle.
Just because he was likely to die here, that doesn’t mean he could give a small sum.
Unlike the other defensive points, the front most line had death as almost a definite.
“Hmph, fanning me up so persistently… I’ll at least give you a good dream at the end.”
Thinking three hundred to five hundred thousand would maintain his honor, Fidel decided to take such actions.
“Well, if you think of it as getting rid of a pesky bug, then it’s cheap as can be. Just one left!”
And not as a merchant, his fatherly feelings had started to come out again…