First Show of Hands
The battlefield ruled by magic, contrary to its appearance it had a relatively plain start.
While each side shot flashy magic at one another, they each defended as the Walt House camp plainly closed in the distance.
On top of the intense sound of explosions, the smoke that rose was a spectacle that looked as if it would create a cloudy sky of its own. Neither side thought the victory would be settled with this magic exchange.
But they did think if they could cause some damage, or crumble the enemy formation with it, it would be quite an earning. The Skill my father held was Anti-Skill… a Skill that didn’t let others use Skills. But at the same time, it was a double-edged sword.
Because it wouldn’t let his allies use Skills either. So to speak to the contrary…
“For all its flashiness, it’s quite a subdued buildup.”
The one who said that from atop the watch tower was Monica, who wouldn’t have much of a part this time. I looked at the Walt House closing the distance.
“It would be troublesome if they suddenly made a flashy approach. If Skills are cut off, isn’t this just about what you get? Well, I’m sure they’re putting on a show for our forces. Telling us that they can’t use Skills either.”
What Monica informed me of was the enemy deployment.
“… Report. The enemy has a cavalry at the vanguard. There are foot soldiers on both flanks, and archers stationed as well.”
Hearing that, I spoke to a nearby runner.
“You heard her. Move our cavalry to the flanks.”
Watching the messenger run off, I muttered.
“… Now then, I’ll have to depend on Clara’s hard work.”
… Receiving an order on the back lines, Clara used Porter to transport soldiers.
Leaving the large-scale Porters to the magicians with talent, it was possible to transport war potential all at once.
However, there weren’t too many large Porters. To match enemy deployment and restation troops, they could only carry it out to a certain extent.
The ability to move massive amounts of troops at once was Lyle’s camp’s strong point. In contrast to the old-model Porters the Walt House used, their side had the original Developer Lyle, alongside Damien and the craftsmen of South Beim.
Receiving the order, Clara boarded one of the large-scale Porters to operate it.
“We will commence transport of the cavalry. Please begin moving promptly. Match the timing to the enemy’s arrival.”
As a few Porter units began moving, the loading doors opened. One after the next, the knights boarded with their horses.
“Make sure to load your spears and equipment onto other Porters.”
While Clara wasn’t good at giving orders, she couldn’t quite go about without giving them. There weren’t any to be found better at operating Porter than she. Her adventurer life up to now had specialized her to operate the machines.
When she thought over how she could make herself useful, the answer was already clear.
(I have to give my thanks to Lianne-san. It’s because my request went through that I can pull off the job given to me… thinking of it like that, Adele really is useless.)
Thinking of how she couldn’t get along with Adele, Clara confirmed the surrounding work was complete before she began moving…
The right flank.
In contrast to the enemy’s offensive formation, coming out with a plan devoted to defense, Lyle’s camp took a formation spread over a large area.
Under normal circumstance, Lyle’s army had greater numbers, so they should have been able to fight advantageously with that formation… however, Aria stationed on the right flank watched the enemy approach as she complained in her helmet.
“No Skills, this is going to be rough.”
Holding up her spear on her horse, Aria led a cavalry. There were stockades set up around, and it wouldn’t be so easily to breach.
Commanding a similar force was Gracia leading soldiers of Galleria. The right flank’s composition was centered on these two.
Equipped with black armor, Gracia lifted the visor of her helmet as she spoke to Aria.
“Sorry, but I can’t fire off anything too flashy. It looks like Rearguard Skills are no good either.”
Gracia had a Skill specialized to magic… a Rearguard Skill. She could freely manipulate flames, and posed quite a threat. While she was reliable to have as an ally, her Skill had been sealed as well.
“Even so, if you can fight normally, I’ll give it a warm welcome. More importantly, are you sure it was alright to hand the commanding rights to me? By our standing…”
“… By our standing, the worthy one is you. That’s all. If I don’t have to see my own soldiers be crushed, I don’t mind following your command. Well, you’re the one who knows our soldiers and this army’s style better than me.”
Seeing Gracia so level-headed, Aria thought.
“You have my thanks.”
While that’s all she said…
(Why can’t she be that calm on a regular basis? When she’s in front of Lyle, she goes into a hot haste, and does strange… hah, let’s put that aside for now.)
Aria wanted her to show this level-headedness in places besides the battlefield as well…
… The left flank.
Granted a few thousand soldiers, Miranda followed the left flank’s main force commander Maksim’s orders to attack the enemy’s flank.
The Walt House army had been added onto by forces of other territories, and it wasn’t as if they were all too powerful. For that sake, she had circled around with her forces to stab into the enemy’s weak point, but…
“These guys are surprisingly capable.”
Holding her daggers on horseback, as an enemy knight thrust his lance at her, she used the dagger in left hand to repel its tip to divert its direction before throwing her right hand’s dagger into a gap in his armor… his neck.
Falling from his horse, the knight writhed around, while the horse raced off into the distance.
Looking around, with the enemy’s resistance, she could see her own allies grow disheartened. Their surprise attack had failed, and Miranda wanted to somehow pull back her hesitant unit, but the enemy wouldn’t allow it.
There, a knight of large build dismounted his horse, held up his halberd, and began waving it around.
“Rebel forces! Curse your ill fortune to have come out before the god damn lord Caslaade”
Gaha, gaha, laughed the single knight as he swung his halberd. Miranda’s surrounding allies were being cut down by it. It seems his large build wasn’t just for show.
“Is he leading the enemy raid force? I’m no good with these types.”
Saying that, Miranda raced on her horse, reaching her free right hand into a bag hung on the horse. She took out a crossbow and pulled the trigger.
She shot aiming at his head, but Caslaade turned his left hand towards it and deployed a Magic Shield. While the arrow pierced through the shield, its momentum had long been killed, as it bounced off his armor.
“They’ve got people of this class littered all around.”
Looking at the enemy that wasn’t completely devoted to brute strength, Miranda put away the crossbow, and took out a short spear she wasn’t accustomed to.
Caslaade shouted out.
“What conspicuous armor. And that slender frame… you’re a woman! Curse your ill fortune for stepping out onto the battlefield!”
Taking a grand stance with his halberd, he swung down with enough force to bisect her, horse and all. But Miranda laughed in her helmet.
“You sure like cursing people. But the accursed one is you.”
Caslaade’s halberd was kicked by May, who appeared to his side. To Miranda’s eyes, it looked as if she had suddenly manifested to send the halberd flying.
His weapon knocked out of his hand, Caslaade’s stance crumbled.
Follwing right into that, Miranda moved her short spear… with a gimmick added in. The spear’s tip shot out, and pierced into Caslaade’s abdomen.
As May landed on the ground, Marina was pummeling enemy soldiers around.
“Weren’t you in trouble back there?”
As May said that, Miranda took a dagger in her right hand.
“That’s right. So I’d appreciate your further assistance.”
But perhaps May wasn’t in peak form as she shook her head.
“Please cut me some slack. It’s somewhat noisy, and I can’t get any power into my body. More importantly, you’ve successfully agitated the enemy, so shouldn’t you pull back?”
As Caslaade had been struck down, the surrounding enemy soldiers were flustered. Miranda confirmed their movements.
“Retreat! Follow after me!”
As Miranda declared retreat, her allies parted from the enemy forces. But inside, she thought.
(I’d have liked to shave away at them a bit more, but any more is impossible, I guess.)
As she withdrew, she felt she couldn’t be negligent with non-Walt House enemies as well…
Battle began on both flanks before the rest, as unlike the Walt House, our center was stationed further back than our wings.
From the watch tower, I heard Monica’s voice. She wrung out her voice over the battlefield.
“Battle has commenced on both flanks. The enemy is being held in place.”
I couldn’t tell the specifics from afar, but I was relieved it seemed to be going well. However…
“Our center vanguard has come into contact with the enemy. The flashy magic has ceased, but… we’re being pushed back.”
The center army was clashing with the enemy’s elites, and being pushed back.
I looked over my allies.
“We anticipated it, but they really are making for a straight line. I hope our morale doesn’t crumble first.”
Before the first line of stockades was easily destroyed and breached, I immediately called for retreat, and gave orders to my allies to fight a defensive battle. By standing at a high point, I was making it clear our main camp was here, as I looked over our pressed forces.
“It’s about time.”
There, the line between me and Monica was restored.
Monica called in a large voice.
Right after, the sound of bells came from the enemy forces. My father Maizel wasn’t just Skilled in sealing Skills.
“Even if we know beforehand, I’ve no ways to defend against it. For now, we’ll just have to endure.”
Thinking over it loathsomely, I watched their driving force suddenly increased as they breached another stockade. They entered into battle with allied forces. Their driving force was clearly brought about by some sort of Skill.
… What Lyle recalled was his conversation with the Seventh.
“The tactic my father is best at? It isn’t just sealing Skills?”
The place he conversed with the Seventh was the room of memories in the Jewel. The courtyard of the Walt House mansion.
In it, Maizel was smiling as he discussed something with his wife Claire.
Lyle’s mother Claire was stroking her enlarged stomach.
『What Maizel specializes in is sealing enemy Skills, and attacking in their confusion. He can’t keep it up for too long. But what he can accomplish by cutting off Skills is…』
Understanding the Seventh’s implications, Lyle spoke the continuation.
“Making Skill use possible, and giving the signal to his allies alone. Does that really go well? It lets the other side use Skills as well.”
The Seventh and Lyle’s eyes were directed at the two basking in their delight. Within that, they continued a mismatched conversation.
『Well, from the enemy’s point of view, they’ve convinced themselves they’re Skills have been sealed. Even if they can use it temporarily, it would just be confusion right after they recovered from their initial confusion. Even if you know it’s going to happen, you can’t help but be flustered.』
The Seventh looked at the young, somewhat thorny Maizel’s happiness as he made a bit of a sorrowful face himself.
Lyle approached the side of his face, looking down a bit.
『Perhaps Maizel was right for not choosing the gun. With his Skill on and off like that, it would become complicated to give orders. In the case the guns were used as Magic Tools, there was a probability his Skill would interfere and cause them to discharge. Expensive guns would have been damaged every time.』
The Seventh gave a bitter smile, but it was as if he was telling it to himself. Lyle raised his face.
“At the stage where the enemy uses Skills, will it be possible to use them ourselves?”
『I won’t say it’s impossible, but it will be chaos. It that’s how it’s going to be, it’s best you train your forces to fight without Skills at all. You pass the message to a few of them, but… if you act in accordance with it, Maizel will naturally have some countermeasures up.』
Lyle let out a sigh.
『But it’s not all trouble. For even if they get some force from using Skills, only a few elites will be using them, looking at his army as a whole. Right after they’ve used their Skills, there’ll be quite a few who’s driving force backfires, leaving them isolated. Maizel seemed quite mindful of it.』
Hearing the Seventh’s advice, Lyle was curious to see what sort of countermeasures Maizel had put up in the over-ten years since then…
On the battlefield, through the temporary use of Skills, I could spot some units running amok.
When our allies on a defensive battle were growing faint of heart, some enemies had thrown apart their rank, and taken independent action. Mainly young knights, leaping out in lust of achievement.
When that happened, while a portion of the units had obtained a driving force from their Skills, they kept their station, or even began to retreat.
“… He has made countermeasures, but they aren’t perfect. It seems my father is troubled by those reckless young knights as well.”
It was impossible for all to go well on the battlefield. It wasn’t just for us, the same could be said for our enemy. And my line with Monica was severed once more.
Monica cried out from the tower.
“How many times must you cut my bond with my chicken dickhead!? Goddaaamiittt!”
She was the same as always, but I looked at my allies and smiled a bit.
“… Even for elites, once they’re isolated, the rest is easy.”
When Skill use became impossible, there were some who found themselves stranded within our forces. They were surrounded and beat down.
I had given such orders to the commanders, and my father’s first show of hand was successfully sealed.
And at the same time.
“Should I tell him thank you for undoing his restriction on Skills? Monica!”
Monica atop the watch tower immediately reported to me. The Valkyries around the battlefield aimed for this timing, and sent their reports one after the next. Meaning information immediately gathered in my hands.
“There are no problems on the right flank. However, the left flank is losing heart. There are signs that a powerful unit is stationed there. From the information, perhaps it is the Forxuz House’s forces?”
I looked at Monica.
“Any contact with Novem?”
I looked at the left flank. With just my eyes, I couldn’t tell the specifics, but if Novem had set out, then it would be fine. No, perhaps it wasn’t fine at all.
Once Monica finished her report, she returned to her station.
I turned an eye to the enemy camp.
“A Fifth Generation style defensive war… I’ll let you bear witness, father… messenger, throw out our reserve forces at once. The location is…”
Passing orders to a messenger, I sent reinforcements to only the parts that needed them of the places that needed them.