… Fighting the elite forces of Bahnseim, Maksim clad his body in 【Sand Armor】 as he took in the sight before him.
Before that giant purple something, Maksim reaffirmed his grip on his spear. That growing purple hornworm drew in and crushed all around it regardless of friend or foe as it grew, its head portion just barely retaining traces of humanity, yet that fact only served to amplify its eeriness.
Maksim had his allies stand back.
“I’ll take this one on! Everyone stand down!”
Even in this situation, enemy soldiers came at him. Bloodshot eyes. And while they knew there was no further salvation for themselves, the soldiers gleefully fought.
Maksim swung his spear to knock away the surrounding enemy soldiers, holding up his left hand.
“… Without relying on some drug, humans can become strong.”
Polishing their technique, taking up arms, making Skills emerge, learning magic… Maksim thought there were any number of ways for one to get stronger. It was fact.
But power one couldn’t control was meaningless, and a far shot from anything you could call true strength, or so was his opinion on the matter.
“I’ll have to show you. Why my name has became known throughout Bahnseim.”
While Breid could no longer even speak human tongue, Maksim took in the rising dust cloud… sucking up sand and dirt from the ground as his form grew larger.
The Skill Maksim manifested was 【Sand Arm】… a Rearguard magic he had devoted his study to and improved. Its Second Stage 【Sand Armor】 let him coat himself in an armor of sand, and by the Third Stage, 【Sand Giant】… he could produce a colossus from it.
A form of an armored warrior… a single step of that sand giant was enough to crush and knock enemy soldiers aside.
“In a sense, you can expect this once you reach the Third Stage of most Skills. No real need to rely on a medicine for it.”
The sand giant held up its large spear. The purple apparition spat up emerald liquid from its mouth to attack. When the liquid hit the ground, it let off smoke alongside an irritating odor.
It would surely be dangerous if it had splashed him, but Maksim was currently within his sand. He was in the colossus’s mouth so he could see, but he could easily guard its entrance.
“Have some back!”
With a side sweep of the spear, the purple monster rolled, dragging Bahnseim soldiers in. When its body was wounded, the green liquid spouted out and melted down soldiers.
“Hmm, so if you attack it directly, it spits liquid. What a troublesome monster.”
Maksim had the giant hold its spear up high.
“Normally, perhaps all I’d have to do would be to blow it to bits with magic, but… I’m going to be using that property of yours. If you’re to hate anyone, hate Celes for making you such a fiend.”
Sand swirled around the hoisted spear, making it look as if it were a spinning drill. Once that was plunged into the monster, Maksim deployed a sand shield in front to protect himself and his allies.
The thrust spear spun, continuously dispersing that liquid around.
The purple monster stopped moving after it had sprayed its green fluids on the Bahnseim soldiers around it. Besides Maksim, there were fire, ice, and beast-shaped colossi spreading death and destruction across the battlefield…
Seeing that battlefield ruled by giants, I hung the leaned blade against my shoulder.
I had May pick me up, and I was watching the scenery from the sky. I looked around.
“Monica… there’s a unit concealing itself. Send forces there.”
『Found them. They aren’t the type who won’t stop attacking by any means. But now that we’ve come so far, we should’ve just shown our trump cards from the beginning.』
Monica’s opinion was spot on. But after we’d done so much, it’s not as if this reaction was unexpected.
An extreme Mana expenditure, on top of that our valuable Skillholders… what’s more, the ones who had attained their Third Stage Skills would immediately have to retreat to the back lines.
To we who lacked people fit to take commander roles, it was an exceedingly large problem.
“It’s because we couldn’t do that, that we… well, with this, the four-nation alliance and Cartaffs should notice that Bahnseim is dangerous.”
Monica immediately swapped to carrying out orders, as I let a sigh into the air. I looked at the sights below May.
“It sure is convenient. Even so, you inherited quite a few things from Fredricks, didn’t you Lyle?”
“Quite a few? You mean the Skill and this?”
When I lightly lifted the sword, May shook her head.
“Wrong. That’s one thing, but there are plenty more. Even now, you’re using Skills to look over and give orders to all your forces. Strong people, you know. A lot of them can’t help but put themselves at the front of it all.”
Hearing May’s words, I understood what she was trying to say. May meant that I was carrying on the Fifth’s teachings.
“I see… have I gotten a bit closer to them?”
Warding off intense assaults from the city day after day, once their foes had begun showing signs of fatigue, Bahnseim’s generals held a meeting in their marquee.
“Now then, let’s hear the results.”
One of the generals stood.
“They conducted a night attack with the plundered ship, but as expected there were adventurers stationed on the port as well. Naval is one thing, but it did seem they had adventurers capable of activity in the middle of the sea, so the plan was a failure. However, with this, they won’t be able to continue directing all their forces to the wall alone. From what I’ve heard, they’ve diverted considerable war potential to their harbor.”
The Supreme Commander touched his chin.
“… I can’t understand it. Bahnseim’s naval force is infinitesimally close to nothing. With that failure, the difference in abilities should have become clear enough. Why did Beim distribute so many forces to the harbor?”
One of the lords participating answered his query.
“That’s how Beim is. The merchants hold strong power, and the authority lies with them. Couldn’t they have imagined their own ships being attacked? I visited Beim a few years back, but back then, it was nothing but surprises. I mean, they’ve no king. Of all things, a gathering of merchants is determining their course.”
Everyone present had some knowledge pertaining to Beim, but they were reminded they didn’t have a precise understanding of it. Then, the Supreme Commander muttered,
“I see, so that’s why they keep playing nothing but poor hands so late in the game. Without any experience with wars on this scale, and with a military force dependent on adventurers. We’re being made light of.”
The feudal lords looked at him.
“Supreme Commander, is it not about time we got serious?”
“We have a grasp of their power. I want to flood in with all due haste.”
“Before the time we’ll be busy, I’d like to bring an end to this war.”
For the feudal nobles’ troops and Bahnseim’s main force, a majority of the soldiers were workers. Using the territory’s population as soldiers meant that was precisely how many hands they were taking away from the territory… especially when it came to the breadwinner men.
From their point of view, with future territory management in mind, they wanted to put a swift end to this war.
The Supreme Commander was an imperial noble of Centralle. His standing was different, and it wasn’t as if he had a territory to hold and manage.
“Hmm, it’s true any further would be difficult. Once the cold sets in, our battles will give out greater casualties. We’ll also need to procure firewood in large quantities… I’m sure it would be best we made haste.”
The feudal nobles seemed just a tad irritated with his attitude. Because maintaining their troops didn’t fall under the Supreme Commander’s duties.
From the lords’ point of view, it looked as if their commander didn’t understand a thing. Of course, from the commander’s point of view, it would be better if the lords’ forces whittled down some more. He was an imperial noble of Centralle, after all.
He didn’t think too highly of feudal nobles holding power.
(If we invade, they’ll charge in headfirst to plunder, and whittle themselves down of their own accord, I guess. In that case…)
“Very well. Then I’ll prepare some large-scale magic on my side. In regards to the attack…”
Kicking off his words, the feudal nobles raised their names.
“If that’s the case, then leave it to me!”
“Your troops are unreliable! I’m more worthy!”
“Don’t be so hasty. I’ve heard the prosperity of Beim is massive.”
The generals looked at the feudal lords whose minds immediately turned to plunder with cold eyes. The Supreme Commander addressed them.
“For Beim’s representative merchants, you’ll have to leave them to us. There are negotiations to be had. Do what you want with whoever else. Oh, if possible, don’t destroy buildings we could use for lodging. I don’t quite like the tent lifestyle we’ve had all the way here.”
Within the tent. Bahnseim’s side was showing smiles of leisure.
But that was something backed by their prospects of victory. There were many adventurers in Beim, but they were specialized to battle in the Labyrinth. The power to overturn a level of numerical difference was laden onto those adventurers.
But for that, they had grown specialized in fighting within confined spaces.
The knights on the battlefield were different. When it came to the skilled ones…
… Before night was to open.
Tanya wore the Guild uniform as she hurriedly moved around the east branch.
They had to look after the adventurers rotating onto break, but on top of that, arrangements for food and stationing people. By order from headquarters, they had to prepare food for the refugees gathering in front of the Guild.
The Guild’s employees were working in haste.
There were few adventurers who’d been injured, but day by day, you could see the lights fading from their faces. The adventurers who’d laughed at Bahnseim’s cowardice at the start, before these days of endless battle, their hearts were at the breaking point
“Rotation time’s coming. Are we good on food?”
When one receptionist struck up a conversation, another came carrying in a large load.
“W-we are, but, well… the smell is leaking outside the Guild, and the refugees are demanding for us to fork it over to them as well… we can’t prepare so much food in our provisional kitchen, so we’ve told them to wait.”
Refugees had flooded into Beim. They had begun quarreling with the city’s original residents, and the city’s mood had taken a terrible turn.
There, a staff rushed over to Tanya.
“Tanya! The executive’s calling for you. Wants you to come urgently, it seems.”
After telling the personnel whose conversations she’d listened in on to prioritize the adventurers, Tanya headed for her superior’s room…
… At the executive’s room, the executive with bags under his eyes reported the present situation to Tanya.
“It’s been decided that we are refusing South Beim’s demands.”
“You’re telling me this now? It’s already been a few days since they returned from negotiations. What were you talking about in the meetings?”
Tanya’s words were mingled with anger, but the executive didn’t find fault in her.
“… At present, by Bahnseim’s failed attack on the port, most in attendance have come to believe this will become a drawn-out war. In that case, Bahnseim will have to pull out within the next month.”
Maintaining a large army required considerable supplies. At the same time, Bahnseim’s troops consisted of their populace, and once they returned, they had their own work to do. That the feudal lords would pull out was what Beim’s merchants had decided. And if this situation continued on, Beim would be able to hold out.
“Among the adventurers, they are developing a sense of crisis at Bahnseim, who shows not the slightest sign of crumbling. Morale is falling day by day, and at this rate, Beim will be the first to…”
Tanya complained, but she couldn’t get her words out to the end. Because in the middle of the conversation, the room shook. It was a small tremor, but to that which was different from an earthquake, Tanya felt a sense of dread.
“… Something’s strange. I’m going to take a look.”
“What’s wrong? It’s true that tremor was surprising, but…”
Tanya said she’d look outside, jumping out the window, and transferring herself to the tallest building around.
Looking from there towards the wall, she saw a black smoke rising. As the area gradually grew brighter, she tried to make out just what had happened…
… Bahnseim’s army slammed a number of large-scale magics into Beim’s wall.
Overcoming the half-hearted adventurers’ shields with pure numbers, they fired shot after shot. With their first offensive move after all this times, Beim’s adventurers didn’t make it to redeploy.
Countless magic bursts collided with the wall, but all it did was scrape at its surface.
Seeing that, the Supreme Commander spoke to himself.
“It’s quite sturdy. Well, that’s fine as it is.”
Right after, he issued orders around. Hearing his orders, the surrounding forces aimed their magic not at the wall, but at the adventurers on guard duty atop it.
Lightning, fire, ice, water, stone… numerous magics rained down on top of the wall. The adventurers incapable of casting Magic Shield were blown off of it.
A few adventurers remained, but that wasn’t a problem.
“Now then, you can use flashy magic like this too.”
Bahnseim’s magicians, meaning their nobles, prepared stairs of magic up the wall that could no longer resist. For such a large legion to climb such a tall wall, extremely wide stairs were prepared. The earth swelled up, and once those giant stairs were prepared, the army units who had been waiting for this moment started their race up it.
On top of the wall, adventurers fought the knights and soldiers of Bahnseim, but they were surrounded with numbers, and defeated.
The Supreme Commander watched it.
“… Hmm, how disappointing.”
He murmured, watching the large gates of Beim open up.