The middle of the night. The location was the forest near Cartaffs’ castle gate.
Time-wise, we aimed for around three to four, and carried out the plan.
“I’ll be off for a bit.”
Wearing the Cartaffs’ soldier equipment Rauno-san had prepared over my body, I offered those words to the knights, soldiers and party members, as I stood, and headed for the gate.
The misappropriated equipment was dented, with some parts of it ripped.
Maksim-san looked worried, but Damien waved his hand.
“Will you really be alright? I don’t think much will come of you infiltrating alone…”
“Won’t he be fine? I mean, he has that, right?”
‘That’ was the letter I held in my hands.
Rauno-san had forged a decree for me. Its form was in order, even from the eyes of the ancestors, and it was well made to an extent you could even call it unnatural.
I tried asking where he’d gotten such a thing, but he didn’t answer. Probably meant he couldn’t tell me.
But even that Rauno-san was wearing his equipment, as he mixed in with the hidden forces.
“I just have to have them let me in alone. And it’s not like there’s a need to wrench the gate open once I’m in. It seems in Larc’s case, he had a woman on the inside make the paperwork, and he had actual official documents, though.”
When he asked for an audience, he was denied, so he charmed a woman in the castle, and gradually expanded his influence to infiltrate under the guise of official paperwork.
Are you really okay with that, Cartaffs? Or so I thought, but it would take time for the papers to be officially recognized, and as long as they were approved, carrying them out was the Cartaffs way.
Sugarcoat it, and it was diligence, dip it in venom, and you could say it was a means to abandon responsibility and thought. A large reason Cartaffs was able to torment Bahnseim so, was also in that diligence. You could have people overdo it a bit, ‘because it was orders,’ and they would put it to practice.
These guys are strange in the head.
With the Skills… Dimension and Real Spec…. I got a three dimensional grasp of the surrounding terrain, and details exceeding what I could get form Spec flooded my head.
Where the soldiers were, and what direction they were looking…
Processing such information, I proceeded to the rampart that had become a blind spoke. And once I reached it, I used the Seventh’s Skill.
From the Jewel, came his reminiscing voice.
『Right, like that, I often infiltrated the forts. From within, you load up gunpowder, and blow open the gate. Even if they’re strong from attack on the outside, it’s quite often they’re not so fortified within. In the cases where even that won’t break them, just go in, and lay gunpowder wherever the light touches.』
Placing bombs all over the fort, it seems he destroyed their equipment and facilities all over. In the panic, he would leisurely make his exit from the castle or fort, and assault it in its chaos, it seems.
But the easiest method was to defeat the gatekeeper, open the gate, and let your comrades in, according to him.
It was something I was surprisingly unaware of. It was the first I ever heard the Seventh was a bomber.
From his dealing with guns, he had quite a few routes to acquire gunpowder, apparently.
Looking at the rampart, as I used the Skill, a horrid feeling of fatigue hit me like a cart. Enduring it, the scenery before my eyes changed in an instant.
I instantly hid myself, and observed the movements of surrounding soldiers as I searched out the commanding officer.
I didn’t use any weapons. I raced over to the most likely commanding officer-ish person in a bit of a haste.
“Captain! I-it’s terrible!”
I feigned panic and a shortness of breath. And it was true the Skill had worn me out. If I used that warp consecutively, then two would be the limit for the current me. Even putting some rest inbetween, in battle, perhaps three to five? Anyways, it was exhausting.
That state was watched over by Milleia0san in the Jewel.
『Lyle, that acting was a little lacking. You have to at least look a little paler. Humans can do anything if they set their minds to it, you know.』
As I took that criticism, the somewhat suspicious captain spoke to me.
“You’re not from my platoon, are you? Just where did you come f…”
“It’s intruders! An intruder has infiltrated the castle.”
My beat-up form. And on the information there was an intruder, the commanding officer sought that information over my identity.
“What is the meaning of this!? To permit the entry of some bandit, this Cartaffs Castle is…”
『Oh no~. It happens to the best of castles, you see. Even so, after Larc infiltrated in front of everyone, that reaction is strange.』
And the members outside moved. Raising torches, they started appealing their existences from the forest.
The area around the gate instantly grew noisy.
“Captain, there are at least a thousand armed men outside!”
Hearing that, the leader chose to follow through just as he had been trained.
“Calm down! Rouse those asleep at once! Everyone else to your stations And you over there!”
Pointed at, I replied.
“Get back to your own platoon at once, and await order! Did you tell them about the intruders yet? Numbers? Clothing?”
I instantly spoke of the intruder I had prepared.
“His hair and clothing were masked, so details are uncertain. Bue the intruder’s upper wear was a tank top, and he had a large sword over his back! Driving him off took all my might, and I thought it best to inform others, so I have yet to give chase.”
It seems the officer imagined that description to be a bandit. Hearing he had a large sword to infiltrate, he muttered that it was impossible.
“You have made no mistake. If you were killed, we would never have noticed the intruder. I Return at once. To your station! Just as we’ve practiced!”
In regards to what they practiced, they did seem used to their movements, and they swiftly took to their stations. They did seem nervous, but their movements alone were quite decent.
The Fifth looked over such soldiers of Cartaffs.
『… They’re an opponent that would give troubles in group warfare. Without any distractions, they move just as they’re trained. They’re inflexible, but I can see why the northern lords had so much trouble.』
I was able to see the surprisingly proficient side of Cartaffs, granted, they did overlook the infiltrator In me.
“Now then, I should get moving as well.”
Racing through the chaotic castle halls, I aimed for the dungeons.
… Damien and the rest had fastened torches to wooden poles.
In order to make their numbers seem great, they put the knights and soldiers up front, with nothing but torches in the back.
Thinking that it would at least make their opponent see them a little bigger than they were.
“Now then, time’s the problem. It’s a fortress city, so played poorly, they could instantly gather soldiers from around. Rather, since they’re looking at the numbers to see if they have to go out or not, it will be troublesome if information keeps moving around.”
If they knew there were only five hundred, they would leave the castle to subjugate them. But if they saw more than that, then from the number of soldiers stationed in the castle, they’ll bide their time, Rauno explained.
Damien pushed his glasses up with his fingertips. His lenses caught the light as Maksim put his spear over his shoulder, and looked around.
“That’s a lot of words, coming from such a riff-raff fortress.”
Sticking wheels on a board that couldn’t even be called a golem, Damien had prepared a hastily-made fortress to control.
Its gaps were reinforced, and its make was one that could withstand just a bit.
“It’s Lyle’s plan. If magic come’s flying over, we can only endure. But you think it’s going well?”
Lyle had gone in, and put out information of an intruder to confuse them even further. Because by that, he determined it would make Larc go to the Queen.
If they knew of an intruder, then the one Larc was to protect at present would be the Queen. He could get his hands on treasures afterwards, but for the status he wanted, the Queen was essential.
Rauno made a fed-up expression.
“With a face like that, the things he thinks up sure are dirty. Having the intruder spread info on the intruder, there’s something wrong in his head. Taking him down when he’s heading for the Queen… it’s true that makes the probability for his escape low, but if the enemy’s in large numbers, it will be a huge problem.”
Erhart, listening to that talk nearby, shook his head.
“… He was the type to do something like that? I thought he was one to fight more stylishly, wasn’t he?”
Erhart’s other comrades nodded to that. But to them, Damien spoke.
“What are you talking about? It’s Lyle, right? There’s no way that Lyle would put up a square fight. Right around now, I’m sure he’s scattering false information to create mayhem in the castle. He’s the type of guy to smile as he does all that.”
Maksim also nodded as he appraised Lyle.
“It’s true, he’s only Lyle-dono when he goes that far. Well, how about we just stay on standby over here? The real battle should come a little later.”
Erhart cradled his head over what more was going to happen…
With the decree in hand, I headed for the dungeon, and showed it to the soldiers stationed in the passage.
“There is an order to eliminate the intruder at once!”
But the female soldiers charmed by Larc didn’t take my opinion into consideration as they shook their heads.
“The only one who can order us is Larc-sama. We have no reason to listen to any other orders. Until Larc-sama’s orders come, we shall not…”
I pointed to a part of the decree. Rauno-san had confirmed Larc’s handwriting at the Guild. He had reproduced it here for our use.
“It’s an order from that very Larc-sama! Please hurry!”
“M-my apologies! Oy, let’s go!”
“I’m sorry, but I have to inform those further in of these orders, so could you let me pass?”
“The keys are over there!”
The three female soldiers ran off. Seeing off their backs, I retrieved the keys from a small table with iron bars hastily furnished around it.
The Third spoke.
『Yeah~, how should I say this, um… love is blind? Well, it makes it easier for us. This is also Cartaffs’ character, perhaps.』
I opened the lock and proceeded down the corridor, confirming the surrounding deployment. Larc’s presence I’d sensed a while ago wasn’t around. He was able to hide his presence from the detection of my Skills once before. It had disappeared quite unnaturally, but this time, that didn’t seem to be the case.
“Has the info yet to reach him?”
While I felt Larc’s movements were dull, I proceeded through the dungeon. On the way, I showed the same decree to the other female soldiers and knights stationed, and had them let me pass. While I was at it, I even ordered them to search for the intruder.
I didn’t forget to give each one of them different information.
Proceeding onwards, I headed for a place I got a response from, and used the key to unlock the door. It was an audience with Cartaffs’ Queen.
Millaia-san spoke before I opened the wooden door.
『Lyle, you’re dealing with a captive. Even if she’s in a horrid state, you have to treat her kindly. The northern power of Cartaffs is one where you have to work hard to be recognized. Even if she’s covered in dirt, embrace her. Even if she smells like garbage, your smile shant die out. Now show your might.』
Just what do you think I’m supposed to be? I think I really have to confirm it with her properly one of these days.
The Seventh was a bit taken aback.
『Well I doubt she’s been tortured enough that she can’t preserve her shape. How about we pray she’s in prettier condition?』
She was an important woman to Larc.
I doubt he did anything to harm her too badly, I prayed as I opened the door.
… Erhart drew the large sword 【Gramr】 from his back to fight the enemy before his eyes.
The group that jumped at the simple fortress hadn’t infiltrated from the castle, but the town.
Around, his comrades surrounded a swordsman with a great sword. There were other robed adventurers who had penetrated in.
They were exuding a different atmosphere from those of Beim, and Erhart could understand they were local adventurers of the city.
The swordsman with a black sword, unlike Erhart’s sword with splendor in name alone, held a genuine Magic Tool. Erhart’s sword was considerably chipped.
“You all plan to get in my way, huh. I’ll crush you here.”
When the knights and soldiers rushed to cut down the swordsman, Maksim came into stop them. As he forcefully pushed them back, everyone stepped down.
Damien sent his golem at the swordsmen, only to have that golem cut to shreds like a scrap of paper.
Damien put his staff against his shoulder.
“I never thought we’d meet you here. Um~ who was it again? Marc? Clark? Something like that?”
Damien’s maid No. 3 corrected him.
“Master, it is Larc.”
No. 2 comforted him.
“You were almost there this time, master.”
At that moment, Maksim was attacked by two female adventurers. He parried them with his spear, and shouted for the all the knights and soldiers to step down.
“The enemy is in small numbers. We shall take them on! Don’t unskillfully stick your hands in!”
The equipment on him was littered here and there with Magic Tools. That alone was enough to tell him his opponent adventurer would be troublesome. He couldn’t waste soldiers borrowed from Galleria, so he decided to deal with them himself.
Erhart glared at the swordsman… Larc, and took a stance with his sword. Damien tried to confront him as well, but other adventurers held him back.
“Good grief, we’re supposed to be guarding you.”
Erhart let Damien’s mutterings slide, turning all nerves in his body towards the swordsman.
Larc looked at him, and laughed.
“What’s with your equipment? That sword is a lump of iron, is it not? Your armor’s unbalanced, and more than anything, that tank top? Are you trying to mock me?”
Larc was laughing, but Erhart didn’t undo his stance, and didn’t respond.
(This guy’s stronger than me.)
With their large swords for weapons, their fighting styles were similar. From body build, and such factors, Erhart wasn’t losing.
But the quality of equipment was too far apart. The clothes he wore were high-class articles. The sword in his hand, a Magic Tool.
At a glance you could tell he poured a fortune into his equipment.
“You people. Until I save… the guy with the spear, don’t croak on me.”
Damien said as he looked at the three female adventurers surrounding him.
The guy with the spear, Maksim, was also taking on two, and it didn’t look like he’d be able to move anytime soon.
Erhart’s comrades called to him.
“Erhart, it’ll be harsh at this rate.”
“I know! But if we run here, it’ll end with a blade in the back. If we don’t fight someone stronger than ourselves, we’ll never move forward!”
Fighting above yourself was a large experience. There wasn’t a doubt that Erhart’s party was earnestly working at the adventurer trade, but after experiencing Growth to an extent, their growth had stagnated. Bide for time, or take the gamble…
Erhart chose the latter.
“You’ve all said you hate being made the fool, right? Then let’s get back… at that woman!”
That woman was Marianne. The Guild receptionist who deceived them. When he said that, Larc gave a large laugh.
“What’s this? Could it be you’re trying so hard to get a woman to look your way? You really are foolish. With woman, it works out one way or another.”
Feeling irritation at that tone, Erhart clenched his sword grip again. There, Larc stepped in, and swung his sword with one hand.
“Small fries shouldn’t try to act tough! Those in my way should just up and die! Everyone, go and defeat the other already! Our allies should come out in no time! Just look at their numbers. The castle should send a force any minute…”
After he said that much, Erhart used his sword to hit Larc’s aside. Where Erhart’s sword made contact, sparks flew, and its shape changed as it was shaved away.
And protected by his automatons, pushing back the three adventurers with a golem, Damien came before Larc.
“Unfortunately for you, there won’t be any soldiers coming from the castle. By your laws, the highest priority is to protect the royalty, right? What’s more, if both sides have the same number, or the difference is slight, they won’t come out.”
Using the shaft of his spear to utterly defeat the female adventurers, Maksim similarly came before Larc. His form of attacking women without mercy looked different than that of him missing his milady, Adele.
“As long as they learn weapons, women can be warriors! Or so I thought, but what ambitionless foes. Is this the strength of one that’s been charmed? It’s the opposite of Lyle-dono. Lyle-dono’s lovers show so much motivation it scares me… As I thought, women ought to be like Adele-sama.”
Larc looked around.
No allies coming from the castle. If it were only five hundred, then if the castle sent troops out, it was a number they would triumph over at once. But no one was coming.
“What’s the meaning of this? And what are you all doing!? Stand and fight!”
While the female adventurers didn’t stand, Damien held up his staff, and sighed.
“I’m disappointed. Disappointed in you. We were sure it would be a hard battle, and even spent our hours knitting up plans, but you didn’t even give us the time to use them.”
Lyle’s party had considered the troublesome action Larc was capable of. The reason the queen was captive, was likely because she could fight against his charm Skill.
And so having him use other women as shields would be troublesome. The reason he caused so much chaos in the castle was a countermeasure for that.
Even Damien and Maksim would hesitate to attack, if an innocent maid stood before them. And thinking of the future, they wanted to keep casualties to a minimum.
Wanting to end it already, Erhart stepped up.
“Let me do it. This man… he uses his comrades like tools. I can’t forgive someone like that… because I was once the same.”
Maksim tried to stop him, but Damien put a top to that.
“I’m not particularly interested, but if you want personal satisfaction, then get it for all I care. However, if we think it won’t work out, then we’ll step in and defeat Larc.”
Surrounded, Larc was thinking to cut down knights and soldiers in his way to flee. However, with Maksim circling behind him, he had no choice but to fight Erhart before him.
Damien had the automatons prepare a crate, which he took a seat on.
“Good grief, this is what you call a kill-joy. I wanted to go into the castle too. I’m sure Lyle would’ve kept me entertained.”
Saying that, he casually gave a, ‘yeah, yeah, get fighting already’ to put Erhart and Larc to battle.
His hand was firmly grasped on his staff, ready to take Larc’s life at any time…