… The first movements came in the two glaring camps as each’s representatives came to stand at the lead.
At first, the two known names of Gracia and Elza hadn’t even been on the battlefield. But suddenly showing their motivation, they held more fighting spirit than ever before as they stood at the front.
Around them, the various traitors and ones benefitting at others’ expense were lined up.
A cloudy sky.
On the stormy border battlefield, Gracia mounted her horse, a spear as tall as her grasped in her right hand. The grip was long, and it had a small shield attached.
To Gracia, who let off her rage, the surrounding lords.
“Grand Duke Proxy, would it not be dangerous to go out on the battlefield without any attendants? Up to now, those of the Grand Duke House have always been by your side.”
“Even if you’re to leap out, then in that case our turn shall never…”
One of the feudal lords giving a troubled smile received a harsh glare. Gracia’s violet eyes were filled with malice.
“And what of it? You all need only fight as well. Or have you forgotten how you’ve always dispatched me to the front, retreating to the rear lines yourselves?”
To the Lord, Gracia went on.
“… Fret not, I’ll hold down that witch for you. So you all are to fight the enemies before your eyes. That’s all there is to it, right?”
Sensing the atmosphere that would take no more words, the lords nodded together this time alone. Among them were some who even gave vulgar smiles.
If Gracia started her battle, it seems they planned to flee due to the danger.
After looking over such lords of her country, Gracia turned her eyes to Elza in the distance…
… At Gracia glaring at her, Elza took a posture as if too look down on her from a high point.
On horseback, she held up her staff, tapping that mace-like rod against her shoulder a number of times.
Her atmosphere different from usual, the surrounding soldiers were perplexed.
Elza remained expressionless.
“You all shall fight the enemy before you. You volunteered for this role yourselves, so you’re at least to do that much.”
But the one leading the soldiers was making a pale face.
“You can’t! What if we get dragged into your battle with the witch!?”
Anyone dragged into the battles of Elza and Gracia would die, he appealed, but Elza remained expressionless.
“And what of it?”
She didn’t turn the slightest ear. To Elza, and to Gracia, they were only clashing two camps of traitors by Lyle’s plan. Even if one party turned coat along the way, they had no intent to revise the program.
When the soldier chief who had been commuting with the enemy shut his mouth, Elza let her hair flutter in the wind. She used her left hand to brush away the locks pressed against her face, her violet eyes letting off a cold light.
“I’m definitely not forgiving you today. Gracia…”
Elza and Gracia. Both sides’ fighting spirit had risen to a level it had never reached before…
… When she heard the signal to attack, sitting on Porter’s roof, Miranda grasped the collar of Shannon, who was clinging to her clothing from behind, not looking ahead at all.
“Shannon, confirm Novem’s position. If Aria is there, then tell me.”
Seeing Miranda’s smile, Shannon violently nodded her head up and down. Not because she was able to see her face, but because her Mana flow told her that her sister was seriously angry.
Shannon wasn’t stupid enough to resist Miranda when she was like that.
Near Miranda, Porter’s driver Clara held her staff as it to embrace it, pushing her glasses up with her fingertips to restore their positioning.
“Novem-san pushed the blame onto you? Rather, isn’t she the one who didn’t notice when Lyle-san disappeared under her nose?”
Shannon didn’t say anything as she frantically scanned the battlefield in motion, but as she observed her sister’s reactions, Miranda addressed Clara.
“Since it’s Lyle, I’m sure he’s fine. But if his disappearance is to throw off all our plans, then Novem is in need of some retribution. Since Lyle won’t hand down punishment, isn’t it proper for we to be the ones to do it?”
“I won’t call it proper, but it does bother me why Novem-san would say such a thing. And wait, you plan on making me support you?”
“Of course. I mean, it will be difficult for me alone.”
Not saying a word that she wouldn’t be able to defeat Novem, Miranda was also an exception. Clara let out a sigh, and decided to follow Miranda’s side this time.
“Well, the biggest problem is really the fact that Lyle-san disappeared, though.”
When Clara muttered that, Shannon raised a large voice.
“There! She’s there! I found her, sis! She’s coming straight at us!”
When Shannon hurriedly said that, Miranda turned to Clara.
“I see. Aria isn’t with her. Then Clara… could you close in on Novem?”
Clara moved her staff, setting Porter in motion. With its body like an armored vehicle, Porter stood out even on the battlefield.
Miranda had conviction that Novem would come her way without a doubt.
“Now I’ll have you repent, Novem!”
Perhaps she had heard Miranda’s voice, but Novem continued racing her horse straight at the party…
… Leaping off her horse, Gracaa swung her spear to the side.
As flames covered her surroundings, a pillar of ice manifested in front of her. The ice that wouldn’t easily melt, even in Gracia’s flames, could only have been produced by Elza.
Elza swung down her staff from atop the ice, while Gracia took the blow with her spear.
That strike one wouldn’t think had come from a magician violently threw Gracia towards the ground.
Gracia turned her left hand to the earth, opening her palm, and from it fire gushed out with good momentum, killing the force, and contrarily, pushing Elza back.
Sent flying with the spear, Elza let her body to one turn as she corrected her positioning and landed. The ice she had created melted, flooding the ground. The force of the surrounding inferno weakened some.
On the maddened battlefield of hot and icy air, the two faced one another.
Elza turned her staff towards Gracia.
“You’re the one who betrayed first!!”
A few hundred spears made of ice manifested. The tips of those spears that had appeared in thin air as if to surround Gracia, were clad in an incredibly cold aura, letting off a white smoke.
They all came at her at once, but Gracia only spread her feet a bit, and let flame blow out from her own body.
As that pale blue flame covered her form, the spears of ice evaporated before they could pierce into her, and disappeared.
Within the vapor enveloping everything in fog, Elza held up her staff, freezing over its top to produce a giant blade of ice. Swinging it back with one hand, she blew the fog away.
The motion had been to block the serious blow to impale her from behind.
Elza’s blade of ice had begun to melt, but without paying that any mind, she lowered it down on Gracia.
“… Fire bullet.”
An elementary level projectile magic, and one difficult to land a fatal blow with. Akin to smashing a small mass of Mana against an opponent.
But taken up to Gracia’s class, the Bullet magic was quite a convenient one due to its invocation speed.
From her protruding left hand, several fireballs a few meters across were produced.
Elza clicked her tongue.
“Che… Ice Wall!”
Swiping her left hand to the side, she produced a wall of ice before her, that’s thickness exceeded ten meters.
The large impacting fireballs raised a white smoke, as they shaved the wall away.
To get the drop on her opponent in that time space, Elza began moving, only to open her eyes wide as she looked at the ice she had created.
There, she saw the emerging form of Gracia, who had pierced her way through it.
Hurriedly, she made an ice shield, but unable to kill the momentum, Elza was sent flying. The wettened earth had turned to mud, and Elza was covered in it. Whirled up mud frose over, several brown pillars of ice forming around.
Standing up, Elza looked down at her own clothing.
“You muscle head!”
With enough force to freeze all the clouded land around, a cold air started to blow with Elza at the case. Gracia defended her eyes from the storm of frost as she began to feel the ground under her feet ice over.
“You magic fool!”
Raising the output of the pale flame surrounding her, Gracia instantly began to melt the ice around her.
The battlefield occasionally experienced colds that exceeded the greatest of winters, other times assailed by heats surpassing summer, an unthinkable situation…
… On a different field, Novem faced Miranda one on one.
No, Miranda was receiving support from Shannon and Clara, so it couldn’t exactly be called a one on one duel.
Novem was fighting with her staff in the form of a scythe, but the moment she moved to use magic, Shannon atop Porter cried out.
“N-next is fire! A real large pillar-type one!”
She knew what Novem would fire before she used it, and Miranda moved to crush her invocation.
In a state of affairs where she was unable to use any magic, Novem was forced to fight Miranda in close quarters.
With two daggers in her hands, Miranda dexterously parried a lowering of the scythe, before going right into a kick.
Jumping back, Novem offered a line.
“You’re still up and kicking.”
Unlike usual, she muttered in an expression from which one could barely feel any emotion. Miranda made sure not to let her smile die out.
“Oh my, I’m sorry for that. Even so, when we’re preemptively crushing every action you make, you’re not crumbling at all. Do you have no concept of impatience?”
Novem felt Clara’s presence circling around from behind, and instantly began moving.
The battle didn’t have the flashiness of Elza and Gracia’s, but the soldiers that had tried to step in were collapsed on the ground all the same.
Soldiers of both camps had approached, thinking they could defeat the girls. So they were sinking into the muddy earth.
Miranda let her feet sink in deep, kicking off to accelerate at once, sending grime flying behind her.
Novem discerned Miranda’s consecutive attacks, as the distance between the two of them decreased.
“… Do you know where Lyle-sama is?”
From the start, that was the line Novem wouldn’t stop repeating. Miranda laughed.
“I don’t. But I see… Novem, right now, you’re already considerably distracted!”
Novem’s expression changed ever-so-slightly. Not overlooking the slightest gap of negligence, Miranda immediately took to action.
When she thrust a daggers out, Novem dodged. But Miranda let go of that dagger, grabbing Novem’s ponytail, forcefully slamming her head into the ground.
Coupled with the slippery ground, she had used Novem’s opening to slam her down.
“Miranda, get back!”
On Shannon’s words, Miranda instantly jumped back, as a wind danced around Novem. The water in the ground began to move unnaturally in the wind, as it swirled with Novem at the center.
And as Novem stuck a hand into the mud to stand, around her of mud, snakes of mud started to form. One, two, until in the end, nine had taken shape.
Without wiping the mud off of her face, Novem changed her staff to a spear shape. One of the large snakes let Novem rest on its head, and lifted her into the air.
“As I thought, Miranda-san, you’re skilled. I’m thankful that you’ll wield that power for Lyle-sama’s sake. But… don’t let it get to your head.”
It was different from the usual Novem. Different from the indifferent voice she had been using as well. On that voice full of indistinct emotion, Miranda felt a chill run down her spine. But that’s all it was.
“You don’t possibly think you were the only one hiding their abilities? Then how about this.”
The ground under Miranda’s feet swelled, slowly giving way to show the large figure of a cat-like animal.
Seeing that magic, Clara clicked her tongue.
“Che… Golem production and manipulation. So you could do it dammit. Then say something sooner.”
Shannon took some distance from a Clara scarier than usual shrinking her body from the place that had become a battlefield of large-scale golems.
Novem looked at Miranda.
“A cat, is it? It really is cute.”
A Novem showed off her leisure, Miranda declared.
“Who said that’s all there was to it, I wonder?”
Showing a smile, the quadrupedal feline golem of mud stood on two legs, growing a mane, and baring its fangs. From its back sprouted six thick sets of arms. Each held a weapon of its own, and as its body was covered in armor, there a beastly warrior stood.
The serpent and beast’s eyes shined, as their battle began to stand out in a way that didn’t fall short of Gracia and Elza’s…
May and Eva.
Along with the two of them, on a hill a little away from the battlefield, I sat and watched.
Around were the elves Eva had brought along, and they were excitedly inspecting the battlefield with memo pads in hand. Among them were some even drawing pictures.
May sat munching on some bread, while Eva was looking at me with a cramped smile.
I looked at the battlefield as I spoke.
“It’s a tempest. Novem and the others are having a giant clash of monsters. Don’t you think it truly is worth seeing?”
I smiled gently at Eva as I brushed my hair. Eva shook her head to the side.
“Lyle, why are you all the way over here?”
To her question, I gave a simple answer.
“Because I walked here with May.”
“Why aren’t you taking command of the battlefield?”
“There are a few circumstances behind it, and being here is most interesting.”
“Why are the two maidens of war, and our party seriously going at each other’s’ throats!?”
For such beautiful women to fight over me, it reminded me of how sinful a man I was. But it really was necessary, so I wouldn’t go in to stop them. Not yet, at least.
It wasn’t yet the time to put a stop to it.
“You, do you understand you’re the one who made this situation? Just how do you plan to settle it later!?”
To my cute little Eva, who was so worried for me, I shrugged my shoulders.
“Don’t worry, Eva… I’m confident I’ll steal the limelight. Just look around. Don’t you think the battlefield is the perfect place for the maidens of war to confess?”
Eva covered her face with her left hand.
“I knew you would grow the harem, but adding them at the same time is idiotic. And growing it this far, if you become emperor, it’s only going to grow even further.”
I raised a grand laugh.
“FWAHAHAHA! Fret not, they’ve already fallen. All that’s left is for me to pick them up. And you see… when I become emperor, I’ll give the rest of my life to you guys and the people.”
When my face turned serious, as I thought, my features were splendid, as no matter what I said, it would make for a painting. I’m sure the surrounding elves would pass down my sublimity for eternities to come.
“… Nihil’s girl’s been caught by a strange one, hasn’t she?”
“But if he goes that far, it does look like it’ll be fun. Crushes the Holy Knight image, so I don’t really want to look at it.”
“Being a little unfortunate is much more fun than perfection. See, that element of surprise thing.”
They weren’t able to give me a precise evaluation. I knew it already, but as I thought, I’m a man to be above understanding.
“Hmm, so I’m above understanding even before I reach the history books? I really am a man who was born worthy the name of emperor!”
To me, May, who had finished up her bread, offered a line.
“Lyle, I get the feeling your definition of ‘above understanding’ is different from the one I know of.”
It seems I have a need to get May to understand my incomprehensibility. Eva ignored me, and started recording the battlefield’s state. Seeing how her face was a little red, I noticed she was just hiding her embarrassment after all.
“Well, leaving that aside. What timing should I rush in… the timing is important after all.”
I pondered over the right time for my entrance.