First Joint Effort
“The right wing of the center will pull back. I believe it best you withdraw the left as well.”
Listening to Monica’s voice, I watched our allies desperately enduring at the front. The center under General Blois was solid. But its armies… its right and left were crumbling.
On top of the Walt House’s harsh attacks, they showed their tenaciousness as quite a plain battle continued on. I had stationed the left and right flanks further back, continuing the war with the center protruding out, and we were already entering our tenth day.
It was a rare sight on an open field battle, but in a sense, the situation was as if we were carrying out a siege. We could only endure.
“Send out a messenger. Have them pull back, and send the injured to the rear.”
The units and soldiers recalled to the back would be reorganized. Even if we kept sending reinforcements, we got more injured than usable forces coming back.
Monica turned to me and spoke.
“… Chicken dickwad, I recommend retreat. It is my belief any more is impossible.”
I clenched my fist.
… The Walt House camp.
Nearby the tents, Maizel watched over the battlefield. It looked as if the war was largely turning in his favor.
Even if reinforcements continued to come from the enemy’s back lines, they were sending even more enemies back, so running out of strength was only a matter of time.
Yet Maizel seemed somewhat unpleased.
“How strange. I can’t feel the same level of resistance as on the first day.”
As he sat in a chair and muttered, Beil- who also served the role of his adjutant- gave his take.
“Is it not because we largely sliced away their fighting spirit on the second day? And the Forxuz House is fighting amongst itself on the right flank. It’s a flashy exchange with many having to pull out. They’ve also pulled back their left flank, making their center project outwards.”
“In a sense, they’ve got a fortress. In order to keep it up, they’re having difficulty with changing formation. So they’ve lost control of their movements. I know that, but I can’t help but get caught up on something.”
Changing formation to fit the situation as they fought, an army that moved precisely to Maizel’s orders. Bahnseim’s strongest wasn’t just for show; the army moved as if it were a single living thing.
For that sake, everyone could see victory was approaching. And while everyone could see it, Maizel felt something was off. If the Forxuz House’s Jared were here, perhaps he’d be able to give advice, but at present he was fighting his own daughter on the right flank, unable to leave the battlefield.
Beil felt his dissatisfactions.
“While it’s true one of our detached forces was crushed by the enemy, looking at the whole, it’s but a minor problem. If we continue pushing the enemy, they’ll have to leave the lands that built for themselves. If it gets into a battle of pursuit, victory will be a simple matter, won’t it?”
Maizel touched a hand to his chin as he nodded.
(That’s right. That’s how it should be. But after reading our hand so thoroughly on the first day and dealing with us so, the way they’re battling… having soldiers fight by your orders is definitely a difficult thing, but if that was the case, they would’ve crumbled sooner.)
On the sensation it was more like attacking an enemy fort than a plain battle, Maizel recalled his father’s face.
(… Come to think of it, when it came to bringing down castles and fortresses, there wasn’t anyone better than my old man.)
Why at this point… did he recall his father? Maizel felt just a little curious…
Watching my army as it began its retreat, I looked up at the night sky.
Eva approached me.
“Sorry to interrupt while you’re busy stargazing, but I’ve some things to report. I’m not sure if they were a raid force or recon, but we turned something back.”
Eva was an elf, her legs much stronger than the average soldier. What’s more, she led the dark elves, and those dark elves were a tribe that lived in the forest. On top of being strong in the dark of night, they specialized in jobs that required them to be swift on their feet.
“… Sorry. I pushed such tedious work onto you.”
“It’s fine. I’m demanding collateral. For the dark elves assisting us as well, rather than doing it for you, they’re doing it for their own sakes.”
I laughed a bit.
“Well, if that wasn’t the case, it would be contrarily suspicious. The forests around South Beim, right? If they’re going to manage it properly, they can have it for all I care. But that can’t grow too unsociable.”
Eva shrugged her shoulders, staring fixatedly at me.
“In this era, we can’t make a living by holing ourselves up. South Beim’s close, and they’ll need some intermingling. But are you sure? Thinking of South Beim’s best interest, it would be best to clear away those forests for access to the watering hole and such, or so Adele said.”
According to Adele-san, if we were going to give the elves a forest, we were better off finding another one. There was a possibility they’d impede the development of South Beim, was the reason apparently.
From my point of view, slowing South Beim was a necessity.
“It’s fine. Looking at Beim alone it’s a problem, but looking at the continent as a whole, it’s a necessity. And I’m a man who honors my promises.”
Eva, upon hearing my words.
“But you only make promises you can honor, right? Well, then so be it. It seems the chief was worried about it, so I just had to ask.”
Everyone took action in pursuit of their own profit. I won’t say that’s bad. But when it comes to using people, you would have to know what the other party sought after.
If I didn’t aim for emperor or anything grand like that, I’m sure I wouldn’t have to mull my head over such things. However, there was no turning back.
“… Eva, do you have a moment?”
“What is it? I’m on break, so go ahead.”
I turned to her and spoke.
“I want to talk a bit about the Seventh Generation Head… Brod Walt. I’m supposed to give you some info for your songs.”
When I said that with a smile, Eva laughed a bit. Rather than reluctant, she looked interested. It seems she thought I would just be bragging about my ancestors at first, but listening to the good and bad of my ancestors, Eva seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.
“Why not? I’ll complete it for you one day. But in that case, that leaves… your father who we’re fighting, and the third person, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right. I’ll tell you about the Third next time.”
… It was the day Lyle headed for the battlefield.
The scene projected in the Seventh’s room of memories was one of Maizel and Claire holding a child. Claire was making a tired expression, but she looked delighted. Maizel had bags forming under his eyes.
『You did well, Claire! It’s a boy!』
Maizel rejoiced. And Claire was the same. That’s just how much meaning there was behind birthing a boy.
『Yes! As long as this child grows up safely… ah, truly, thank you for being born, Lyle.』
Lyle… it was a scene of when he was born. An elderly Brod and Zenoire were at the scene, deeply moved as well.
『M-my grandson. For him to turn out so cute… B-but my grandson is still a child of the Walt House! We must raise him strictly!』
『… Dear, when you’ve already bought so much for the child, you have absolutely no persuasive power. What was it again? Enough clothes and toys to get him passed three? Those are things you’re supposed to purchase after discussing it with the family.』
『Zenoire, don’t be so angry. See, when I just happened to stop by Centralle, they just happened to be on sale.』
『… The merchants caught wind of the fact you were going to have a grandson, and made sure to catch your attention! You fell for it, hook line and sinker.』
As Brod and Zenoire conversed, perhaps Maizel hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep to that point, as he collapsed on the spot. The attendants in the room and Brod were quite flustered.
『Maizel! Get a grip on yourself!』
As Brod grabbed his shoulders and violently shook him back and forth, Zenoire hit him on the back of the head.
『You’re the one who needs to calm down! What are you doing to my Maizel… carry him to his room at once.』
Claire panicked with the baby in her hands, while the young boy held tight merely gave a small yawn.
Lyle looked at the scene, giving a bit of a sorrowful smile.
“Thinking back on it now, it’s a little surprising. There was a time like that, you know.”
There the Seventh snapped his fingers. Following that, the surrounding scenery faded to gray, and changed to show a different scene.
It was the Walt House mansion, with a small Lyle running about. Around him were some boorish knights, and…
『Please wait, young master!』
As Lyle ran around all smiles, the maids and knights gave chase. There, a still-young Beil grabbed the boy, and held him in his arms.
『Lyle, you can’t go around troubling everyone.』
『Ahahaha, it’s Beil, Lyle-sama.』
He had a lisp. But thinking of how he was a child that hadn’t even turned two, being able to run around like that was something amazing. The Seventh laughed as he spoke to Lyle.
『Back then, you matured real fast. You energetically raced around, and full of curiosity, you’d try looking all around the mansion.』
As Lyle looked a little awkward, he gazed about a little sorrowfully. The people of the mansion were all directing smiles at him.
『… Back when I was alive, you were definitely our heir. Everyone was counting on it. And you had it in you to answer their expectations.』
The Seventh turned to Lyle.
『Now then, Lyle… on to the main subject.』
As the two faced one another, time stopped for the surrounding scenes, as they turned gray and crumbled to dust…
… The next day.
“Enemy forces have abandoned their camp, and begun their flight!”
Jumping to his feet on the messenger’s words, Maizel immediately strapped on his equipment as he issued our orders.
“Prepare to give chase! I was negligent. I never thought they’d flee in the night… but as long as we can press them all the way to Rhuvenns, it isn’t a problem… no wait!”
After his men hurriedly outfitted him with his armor, a fully-prepared Maizel left to the outsides of the tent.
His subordinates hurriedly gathered before him.
“Maizel-sama, the enemy has yet to fully run away.”
As Beil approached to report, Maizel cried out.
“Ready my horse. Put all of our forces on pursuit.”
“B-but…! Maizel-sama, you don’t have to give chase yourself.”
He refuted Beil’s words.
“You’ve seen how thorough our foe can be. Once they return to their territory, they may strengthen their defense. We can’t follow them into dangerous waters. I don’t think we’ll lose, but it will increase our casualties. We’ll chase them partially, and withdraw after that.”
Judging that any more would be dangerous, Maizel believed that Lyle favored formations that leaned towards the defensive. In truth, when fighting him, he rarely took up an offensive stance. In that case, perhaps he had considerable preparations set up in Rhuvenns’ territory.
“If he gets too far away for my Skill to be effective, our own standing may become doubtful. Don’t forget the enemy was reported to be specialized in Skills. Don’t worry, we’ll just lightly hit them around a bit. I leave my guard to you.”
Under Maizel’s orders, the army moved to pursue. Maizel mounted his readied horse, entered the advance party headed towards the enemy camp, destroying stockades along the way. Without putting up any resistance, those defensive walls of boards were burned away.
And the Walt Army began its chase. Breaching the fortress, what their units found was an enemy unit in the midst of its flight.
Seeing a portion of fleeing forces from afar, they began moving in that direction. Luckily, there weren’t any side roads or shortcuts, so the commanders concluded they weren’t a lure, and continued the army on.
Maizel proceeded onwards surrounded by guards.
“This is strange.”
Maizel muttered as he looked around. This gradually contracting path something purposely prepared. On top of that, he could barely feel any tragic sentiment from the fleeing enemy.
Turning to Beil, Maizel spoke.
“We’re turning back. Proceeding on is dangerous. And erect a magic shield.”
It was the moment Beil was about to issue orders. Gunpowder ignited, letting off quite a nostalgic sound. That sound that shook the air brought memory of his father Brod. What’s more, the explosion had come from behind them.
As Maizel turned, it seems his allies couldn’t maintain control of their horses, as they weren’t stopping. But if they didn’t stop and change direction, they would be defeated. Finally turning around, what came into his sight were two units encamped on areas of light elevation, discharging their guns towards them.
“Guns, you say!?”
As Maizel shouted out, Beil cried out as well.
“Maizel-sama, be careful… they even brought cannons out!”
“And cannons? Why are we unable to block something of that level!?”
There wasn’t anyone who could answer Maizel’s question.
… The units that hid.
Those two units were positioned to pincer the path the enemy would treat. They had fired their guns for their lines of fire to intersect.
So as not to hit any allies, and to immobilize their enemies. While there was a magic shield put up, they added on the attacks of the cannons and improved guns brought in from Beim. What’s more, with sheer numbers, it was a rain of bullets.
The enemy gradually became less capable of defending against it, their casualties slowly rising.
Commanding one of the units was the happily married Alette.
Borrowing some forces from Lyle, and receiving instruction from her husband Baldoir, she took command of a firearm unit.
“Did you see that, soldiers of Bahnseim!? This is my and m… my husband’s…! Our first joint effort!”
The unit’s adjutant sighed by her side. He was a yeoman Baldoir had brought from the Randbergh House, who had splendidly become a knight in this endeavor. The reason such a man was stationed by Alette, was because she had become the bride of his master.
“Milady, there are loads of soldiers in this unit who hail from Bahnseim, so please watch your words.”
“I-I’m sorry! N-no, that wasn’t my intent.”
The adjutant shook his head, before directing his eyes forward again.
“We’ve managed to divide them well. The horses of their cavalry have been startled, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be listening. Unable to make a sudden stop, they’re pressing on ahead.”
Alette made a purposeful clearing of her throat as she corrected her posture.
“That’s right. Just as planned. The enemy had been neglecting guns and cannons. So we used that to pincer…”
“Wrong. If we don’t use them well, they won’t show any effect. Even now, we weren’t able to defeat as many foes as expected.”
They had a magic shield up, so they weren’t able to damage their enemy as much as anticipated. But it was a huge success as a surprise attack. The chaotic Walt Army gradually began to recover, as it began dispatching soldiers towards Alette and Baldoir’s units.
As Alette pulled her sword, a mounted Elza leaned her staff against her shoulder as she spoke.
“You all continue your attacks. We won’t let the enemy get any closer.”
On the other side, Gracia was protecting Baldoir. And that was most convenient for Lyle’s camp.
As the forces split and the cavalry protruded out, the main force led by Lyle was going to try and attack.
“We’re going to keep splitting up the enemy. As long as we can take the general’s head, this battle will be our victory. And… I won’t let them get in Lyle’s way. Now let’s get on with it.”
As Elza turned her staff towards the oncoming enemies, arrows of ice began to manifest around her. Their numbers exceeded several hundreds, and when they shot all at once towards the approaching enemy, they pierced the magic shield, and fell foe after foe.
Lyle’s counterattack had begun…