… The Capital of Dreams
… Beim was a city without a king, let alone any nobles.
It was the city of merchants and adventurers, and a city that had continued to grow. For that sake, there were remnants where old walls once stood.
Abandoning the outer regions, the city’s residents retreated. At the port were the figures of merchants stuffing their own assets on their ships in an attempt to flee.
And at the port, various people who’d witnessed the barbarics of Bahnseim cried out for the ships to let them on board.
“Please let us on board!”
“It’s my ship! We’re already departing!”
At the chaotic harbor, ships lifted anchor one after the next. Among them were ships that, unable to take the sheer weight of their loads slanted and sunk to the depths. Some crashing into and dragging other ships of the crowded harbor as well.
The chaos of Beim was truly the epitome of the word…
… Having left to the outside of the Guild’s East Branch, Tahnia donned her own equipment and fought the Bahnseim soldiers penetrating into the city.
Holding a spear and shield, she took their archer’s support fire as she rushed at the soldiers waiting for her. Their expressions were fearful.
Not on the main street, they were a unit that moved aside to plunder. They weren’t too numerous, and from Tahnia’s point of view, nothing to write home about in strength.
Running horizontally across the buildings, and dodging enemy fire, she landed in their formation. Now that their formation had enclosed themselves in, Tahnia put a hand to the ground.
“M-my legs are floating!”
The soldiers began rising, their legs bicycling in midair. Even to swing their weapons, they didn’t have anywhere stable to plant themselves, spinning circles in place.
To them, Tahnia pulled out the dagger at her hip, and cut a line across their necks. A force of a few tense ended with carotid rupture of their knights and soldiers. Once no one was left moving, their remains fell to the ground.
Tahnia looked around with her mask on her face. The fearful residents of Beim watched her from the alleys.
“Flee from here at once. Pass through this road, and head for the heart of Beim.”
On those words, she dashed off again, racing across the buildings’ walls, climbing up to the ceiling. Around she could see adventurers and soldier fighting. But their resistance wasn’t unified. They hadn’t anticipated a fight within the city.
Tahnia looked around. When she spotted Bahnseim soldiers slipping by the adventures, she’d go and finish them off. She saw other sweepers out fighting, but they were of shallow experience; they were feeling the reverberations of most of the skilled ones being taken out by Lyle’s party.
“Whatever the case, we can’t overturn our loss.”
It wasn’t on a level where something could be done with individual ability, yet here was the land with so many excelling individually. They were too ignorant of war.
All had eventually flowed towards negotiations with surrender in their field of visions. But Tahnia’s eyes narrowed.
The Beim merchants who had gone out to negotiate had their heads displayed on the main road. Surely an indicator of Bahnseim’s stance towards negotiations.
“This is… something like this is! …!”
Tahnia moved, and an arrow stuck into where she had been standing. Those arrows that burrowed deep into the building’s roof were fired several at a time.
The ones moving as if they were flying across the tops of buildings were knights of Bahnseim.
“Found one of those Sweeper fellows.”
“You think this’ll earn us a bonus?”
“Cover me. It’ll be troublesome if the small feudal lords are eaten up. We’d best crush it quickly.”
That party of three that looked at Tahnia as if she were only prey were clearly different from the ones she had been taking on to that point. Tahnia started off towards those three Skillholders, drawing a knife from her pouch.
One of them knocked her knife aside with her sword, but the sword shattered. The knight immediately discarded his hilt and took distance. The knife pierced into a building’s roof and pierced through it.
“It’s terribly heavy. Is that her Skill? These guys really have all sorts of strange Skills.”
The knight pulling out his spare dagger. The knight poised with his bow. Tahnia resolved herself beneath her mask.
“I can’t let any Skillholders proceed passed this point.”
On Tahnia’s words, the three knights smiled. Tahnia had intended to leap the moment they showed an opening, but…
“The folks of Beim truly are interesting. It’s true we’re Skillholders, but… it’s not like we’re particularly special or anything.”
Tahnia watched the men as she took a step in.
Using a Skill to manipulate gravity… as the knights were surprised by the speed of her lightened body, Tahnia used her weightened knife to cut through one, sword and all.
From her breastpocket, she produced a sack or iron, and held it aloft. Tossing it right above the knight with the bow, it suddenly grew heavier, as small lumps of iron rained down on him.
And the knight with the dagger approached to cut at her.
“You’re quite the strong one.”
“Kuh, and you’re quite carefree with your comrades taken out.”
As the foe slashed at her consecutively, Tahnia parried.
“Comrade? Are you crazy? Those guys were nothing but trouble to me. A coward who’d hold a bow despite being a knight, and that damn cheeky brat… to me, they were just in the way. I’m sure the feeling was mutual.”
Her foe’s power had increased, and no matter how heavy she made her knife, he repelled it. His dagger cut through her mask.
“What, you’ve got quite a cute face there.”
But Tahnia was able to plant a kick in his abdomen. The knight had some peace of mind with his armor, but Tahnia’s kick pierced a hole into it, embedding deeply into his flesh.
Seeing her opponent spit blood, Tahnia sat on the spot. As she confirmed there were no other enemies around.
“I can’t fight for much longer.”
She muttered regretfully, as she began moving to return to the Guild…
As I was reorganizing troops and doing paperwork in the office, a report came in from Monica. Novem had come to the room as well, as a vital point had come.
“We’ve already begun to encounter merchants fleeing from Beim. The walls were breached, having become nothing but an ornament, as they’ve holed themselves up in the walls protecting the city’s center. Fights are breaking out on the streets, and both Bahnseim and Beim have put out considerable casualties.”
Putting both sides together, around four hundred thousand were clashing. Of course, thinking of pure fighting force, it was lower than that. Even so, that both sides had burst into muddled battle was something for me to sigh about.
“… They really plan to kill them all. And it doesn’t seem Beim has finalized its policy on whether it’s going to put up resistance or flee.”
And it didn’t feel as if they were buying time for others to flee. They were coming at them, so they fought. Even surrender wasn’t accepted. In such a situation, Beim’s soldiers were dead men walking.
Bahnseim wouldn’t get out unscathed either.
Monica looked at me with a serious expression on her face.
“It does not seem Beim’s brains will be able to fulfill their role. Originally, they’d have lowered their heads to us, but the walls were breached before news of our victory could reach. They are in chaos.”
Beim was frailer than we had anticipated. Based on how they went about it, they’d have even been capable of making Bahnseim retreat. That’s how much of a force they had, but I felt I got a lesson on how fragile everything became when the top was brittle.
The Third in the Jewel laughed a bit.
『… It’s scorched earth. When they could’ve just had all Beim’s people retreat somewhere in a few months, and taken off with all their food and wealth. It’s true in next few years… no, five to ten, whatever the case, they’ll need some time to get back to normal. Even so, they can get back on their feet. Bahnseim had a problem with supplies, and they’re somehow fighting on with their plunder from Beim. It would’ve been an interesting fight the fleeing adventurers chose to hide out in the Labyrinth.』
Unable to accomplish their goal, through food problems, Bahnseim would face a declining war potential, and lose control of its assets. It’s true that was a valid way to go about it. The Seventh nodded.
『Well, it’s too late to speak of what ifs. If it were me, I’d either create a situation where the surroundings would cooperate, or prepare to defend alone. I can only sigh at Beim, who chose not to depend on anyone, yet acted as if they weren’t thinking of defense at all.』
The Third to that opinion.
『To be honest, the ones who made it so they couldn’t get any cooperation… were us though.』
He said and laughed.
Novem looked at me.
『Lyle-sama, what shall we do? Even if we abandon Beim like that, there is a possibility the armies of Bahnseim will make their way towards South Beim eventually.』
So it was only a problem of where we would fight. Even if South Beim was sieged, the difference in numbers would make a terrible situation. I can’t say we’d be able to breach Bahnseim’s actual army with a small force.
I looked at Monica.
“We were recruiting volunteer soldiers from the area, were we? How many have gathered?”
Without changing her expression, Monica relayed the number.
“They must have felt a great fear, as there have been few to take up the offer. It doesn’t even reach a thousand.”
It wouldn’t even fill the hole left by fighting Breid.
“After reorganizing our forces, we will make way for Beim. But there’s somewhere we shall stop by on the way. We’ll send an advance force straight there. It’s best if we can get them to fight under my command.”
And how large a mountain of corpses would I have to pile to reach up to Celes, I wondered.
Novem looked towards me.
“Then what will you do, Lyle-sama?”
I moved as planned. As planned… I would head for Redant Fortress.
“Our plans have gone amiss, but still, the preparations are in order. We’ll take along the nobles who’ve chosen to assist us, and their soldiers, and head for Redant Fortress.”
… As the battles raged on in Beim, a few ships arrived at its port.
There wasn’t any signs of anyone around, and seeing it so terribly littered, Vera couldn’t think it the same port of Beim she knew.
“So this is how bad it can get.”
Standing beside her, the one watching the soldiers rise to deck was Novem. The soldiers… the Valkyries had small differences in appearance. But even so, there was no change in the blue armor they wore.
Seeing the Valkyries made of the monster who’d once pained her so, Vera made a conflicted face.
“I never thought that Trident Serpent would end up looking like this. I’m sure these girls are strong, but is it enough to turn Bahnseim back?”
Novem addressed a smile to her.
“That would be difficult. If we had the same numbers, it wouldn’t be a problem, and we could even fight a few times that, but when they have several tens of thousands, it stops being a battle. But…”
Among the Valkyries, Novem had taken along the especially proficient Unit Three. But Unit Three was making quite the reluctant face.
“Please don’t pull my leg. Why am I here… when I wanted to go to Redant alongside my master. More than that, I should’ve been the one to take him on my back, and carry him all the way. Hah, I don’t feel like doing anything.”
As Vera watched Unit Three cradling her legs as she sat, her head began to hurt.
“Are they really that strong?”
Novem gave a bitter smile.
“Yes. There’s no doubt about that. And Bahnseim’s soldiers moving through this sprawling city can’t carry out coordinated actions. Rather than fighting ten thousand once, if we fight a hundred a hundred times, we won’t lose.”
Aria came out on deck. Her preparations were in order, and she was wearing armor.
“Uwah, there’s smoke rising over there. So we just have to plainly go around saving Beim’s soldiers, right?”
From behind her, Miranda emerged.
“I won’t call it easy. We’ve got to prove to them that we’re allies. Want to go to the East Branch first? We can explain our situation there, and make sure we don’t get attacked by Beim’s soldiers.”
That advance force taken on a few ships didn’t even reach a thousand.
But their goal was to provide assistance, and to buy time until Lyle could lead the main force there.
Miranda looked fed up as she stroked her hair, staring fixatedly at Beim.
“They could’ve held out just a little longer. Because of that, we couldn’t get any decent rest in.”
As Beim had crumbled faster than they had imagined, Lyle had to organize another force to send. Originally, they should’ve been set to fight a more-exhausted Bahnseim.
Vera looked over the members.
“Then the ship will be returning to South Beim as scheduled. And make sure you don’t lose until Lyle gets here.”
On Vera’s words, Novem smiled a bit.
“No, I just thought Lyle-sama has met some good people. We’ll be fine over here, and Lyle-sama won’t have any problems on his side. I’m sure right around now…”
Right around now, Lyle was…
I wore the armor of the elite forces, playing the part of an injured soldier to infiltrate the Fortress.
Looking around, I could see the faces of the others similarly playing the injured soldier roles.
“That Baronet did good work. Or rather, it felt as if they already thought the elites would lose… did some remnants return beforehand.”
Standing straight, and taking the weapon he brought in hand, Baldoir kept wary of his surroundings.
“Lyle-sama, you’re too calm. This is enemy soil. What’s more, we don’t even have five hundred.”
We were putting on a play of return after defeat to gain entry to Redant Fortress. Baldoir was nervous.
Maksim-san who infiltrated in a similar fashion hit at Baldoir’s shoulder.
“Don’t be so tense. When it comes to this sort of thing, Lyle-dono’s a master. I’m really glad I didn’t make an enemy of him.”
He was smiling, but I really couldn’t rejoice at that evaluation. I pulled my sword as I looked at the entrance.
“Ah, my bad. Our plans were probably seen through.”
Gathering behind the doors were the armed soldiers of Bahnseim.
Maksim-san took his spear in hand, while Baldoir pulled his sword. As the soldiers we brought along reached for their weapons, a door opened.
“… I was waiting for you, Lyle Walt-kun. No, would you prefer –dono? Or perhaps –sama?”
The one who entered the room was the one onto whom the responsibility of Redant Fortress was pushed onto, General Blois.
“Oh my, for the person I wanted to meet to go out of his way to greet me.”
In the Jewel, the Third was impressed.
『His head turns nicely. No, were we negligent? If that’s how it’ll be, it’s troublesome that we have no choice but to take some strong measures.』
With my current power, I’m sure it would be possible to cut my way out of this situation. But on top of being unarmed, the other party was shrugging his shoulders.
“Sorry. I know you all seem so revved up an all, but… I’d like to surrender. You already have forces waiting outside, don’t you?”
I turned a glance to the soldiers behind the doors. General Blois fiddled with his hair, as he gave orders for them to stand down.
“My apologies. They follow me around no matter what I do, or I guess that excuse won’t work. Well, if you’re going to accept our surrender, a majority of this fortress’ war potential will come under your command.”
“… No~, you see I’m not quite trusted here. So there were people left to keep watch on me. Did my best to restrain them.”
He was speaking fluidly, but this man… The Third sounded interested.
『Whoohoo, he’s selling himself out. No, he’s got a good grasp on his own situation, I guess?』
I put away my sword and looked at the general.
“You’ll betray Bahnseim, and come under my command?”
General Blois scratched his face with a finger.
“Isn’t that your goal? I mean, you used the Baronet to move various pieces and all. I was really in awe, and I’ve got nowhere left to run. If it’s no good whether I win or lose, then I can only pick the third option.”
Even if General Blois had won against me, the man had no future. If he lost, of course, he didn’t have a future either. If it reached a stalemate, he’d surrender.
“… Understood. We’ll accept the offer. But we’ll be putting you to work right away.”
On my words, General Blois nodded.
“Very well. Shall I send message that Redant Fortress has fallen?”
… With him stealing my line, I felt a slight sense of defeat.