“I definitely did say it. That just like your large Porter, it would be nice if we had one we could spend the night in. I did say it, but… let’s learn some self-restraint, Damien.”
The allied forces gathering in Rhuvenns one after the next.
The place we’d prepared was an open space without anything, or rather a grassy plain and yet now it seemed as if a large town had formed. There were lines of tents, among them merchants peddling their wares and troupes performing their acts as well.
In a corner, a few dozen of Damien’s large-scale Porters were lined up. In order to move large numbers of goods, they were specially made to use magic ore as their power source. In regards to transport, it’s a fact that Porter had made it considerably easier.
Damien held his staff mismatched with his small build over his shoulders, yawning as he looked at an especially large Porter.
“It wasn’t me. Though I helped with the blueprints. And I worked with the automatons on the fuel source and such, but the one who proposed it was old Letarta.”
I sent a glance to Letarta, his tools in hand as he issued orders to his apprentices. He stuck up a thumb and directed me a smile.
“It’s a man’s romance. Because a moving fortress is a badass thing to have.”
He does have a point.
… I mean no!
“Just how much money did it cost? And wait, within that harsh schedule, you made something like this?”
In regards to my question, Damien seemed uninterested.
“Isn’t is fine? He called it a fortress, but it’s really a mobile workshop. Automaton maintenance , equipment maintenance and production. The only other thing it has is a few cannons.”
Looking up at the small mobile fortress, I noticed the surrounding soldiers watching it with their mouths stuck open, and my urge to remonstrate someone for this didn’t die down.
“There’s a room for your party as well. Though it’s a narrow one. And it can deploy a stage to make you conspicuous. Like this.”
As Damien held up his staff, the moving fortress slowly began to move. On the front portion a stage definitely did rise, and it was conspicuous enough
He put his staff against his shoulder.
“It’s that, isn’t it? Your tactics are fundamentally defensive, so I think this machine to make an encampment at a moment’s notice will prove quite useful.”
I looked up at the fortress.
“Rather than useful, in the first place this thing’s magic ore expenditure will…”
Old Letarta cut in with a smile.
“Listen to this. You see that smokestack over there? That’s the motion engine, and by shoveling magic stones into it, it’s been made to move by the power of steam. We weren’t able to turn a profit, but it wasn’t our money we were using to begin with, so we thought it would be fine if we pushed our limits.”
“… The one paying is me, right? The one with the obligation to pay in the end is me, right!?”
Damien and old Letarta averted their eyes. These guys had made me a sacrifice to their own fantasies. This is no good. They were the types I should never have put together and left alone.
The pair let out some thin voices.
“… We did properly answer to your demands.”
“Y-yes. We answered them perfectly. And we did properly build others as well.”
They didn’t get it at all.
“You didn’t answer my demands at all on the financial front! What’s with this, when I thought things were taking a turn for the better, in the end this is what I get!”
The ones who raced over at my scream were Valkyrie Units One, Two and Three. They were wearing blue armor of higher quality than before. The clothing they wore underneath was white, and made in way that would make me accept if someone called them true Valkyries. Their binders looked even more wing-like than before.
Well, the contents were still no good.
“Oh? So you’re financially over after all. Well, I knew it would happen.”
Unit One said as if she knew it, and Units Two and Three nodded as well.
If you knew, then say something.
“You’re all getting punished for this later.”
There the three looked at me with leisurely smile, where Unit One upened her mouth as a representative. Her expression as if she was delighted.
“A punishment! We’ll… be waiting for it!”
It’s no good. There’s not a decent one around me.
At that moment, Vera walked over to me. Behind her were the sailors carrying parcels and guns.
“Vera? Why are you here?”
Vera pointed at the moving fortress.
“I’m the financer of that thing. It’s really my father, but as things were going we realized you wouldn’t be able to burden the costs so we dealt with it ourselves. And isn’t this pretty much a ship on land? Then we’re the ones most suited to move it. The fuel’s pretty much the same anyways.”
Come to think of it, Vera’s ship had a similar motion engine loaded onto it. If you put magic stones in its hearth, it definitely did…
“Eh? You’re coming along too? No, that’s dangerous…”
“It’s dangerous for everyone. What’s more, I’m used to fight scenes, and everyone else is an engineer, so they’re amateurs when it comes to operating it.”
Letarta folded his arms as he nodded.
“She’s not wrong. But we never knew you were coming, young lady.”
Vera let out a sigh.
“I don’t intend to concede this right to another. Well, when I think of it as a ship on land, I do have some interest. And wait, this is quite large scale.”
Vera looked around and was shocked by the scale. But this wasn’t all our forces. There were armies gathering elsewhere as well.
The main force I was stationed at. And two detached forces. These three armies were just short of crossing two hundred thousand. Adding the alliance and increasing our forces by absorbing in the soldiers that ran and the bandits.
“The main body numbers a hundred thousand. Besides this, there are two armies of fifty thousand. The first is under Baldoir and the other under Maksim-san.”
“Oh that’s a surprise. What about General Blois?”
“I’m leaving command of the main force to him. This is basically going to end once we march into the country’s east, so I doubt there will be a large battle until Centralle makes a move.”
Right… come so far, the Walt House’s defeat was working its charm. Among the feudal nobles, there didn’t exist a lord who could put up a decent fight against us.
Even if they tried to get together and fight, if you asked if feudal lords could just get together and fight properly, the answer was ‘no’. Not wanting to serve under one another was a reason, but the largest problem was that they wouldn’t be able to gather an army to combat two hundred thousand troops.
Bahnseim was considerably weakened.
“By Rauno-san’s investigation if they were capable of decent judgement, they’d have switched to our side. Of all else, Bahnseim’s royalty in Centralle hasn’t moved in the slightest. No matter how many times they request aid, there’s no signs of them making any move.”
Listening in to the talk, Damien spoke uninterestedly.
“Couldn’t that mean there are lords who chose not to choose? See, there are quite a few people who think you just have to join the side that comes on top in the end.”
“That’s right. People who can’t read the flow. There could be a relatively large amount of them among nobles.”
I addressed them.
“I, you see, I circulated notice for everyone to make it clear who they sided with. And in truth, there are some who heard the rumors and joined up with us or made their escape. When I’ve done that much, siding with no one is no good, right? Sorry, but I’ll be taking their land and treasures. It’s a different story if they have a reason they can’t move. But there are houses that chose to side with us whose head is absent and whose successor hasn’t even reached ten.”
Compared to those houses, what should I say about the ones who properly have their lords yet are waiting and watching? And there was another troublesome problem.
There were plenty to aim to do the same thing Bahnseim did when Agrissa was defeated. Meaning those that were selling themselves to me at a high price.
“Well, I’d like some land post-war, so we’ll need quite a number of feudal lords to disappear. Just with some light calculations, divvying up Beim and Rhuvenns isn’t nearly enough. If we break it up, we wouldn’t be able to oppose other countries, our authority will fade, and we won’t be able to glare them to silence.”
Vera looked at me.
“You’re quite dry when it comes to these thing. Looking at your usual conduct, I thought your pity would come out”
I recalled myself not too long ago.
“This and that happened and it’s rubbed off on me. I do love me some pretty ideals, but both me and Celes have earned too much hatred. I want to make it so I can win and leave it to the next generation without issue.”
Anyways, I wanted to get my hands on a stable foothold. For that sake there were too many feudal lords in the way.
Old Letarta looked over at me.
“Bro, you’re quite the villain.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. I mean I’m… the great evil who’ll stain the pages of history. But if I win I’m the hero.”
I mean, to make sure we and Bahnseim weren’t the only ones exhausted from this, I had dragged the entire continent into this decisive battle.
… Rauno had infiltrated Bahnseim.
He was in a town governed by a Bahnseimian feudal noble, exchanging info with his subordinates in the bar. When it came to bars, they were supposed to grow rowdy come the fall of night, but from the food they put out and the scarcity of customers, Rauno could sense Bahnseim was considerably exhausted.
One of his subordinates disguised as a traveler looked around.
“It’s all run down. And the food they put out is terrible.”
On the plate rested a thin soup and a small piece of bread. Other than that were just a few scraps of snack to go with the drink.
The ones playing the part of travelers were a two-man elven party. Even if they travelled around, elves didn’t arouse much suspicion, what’s more, once he became a knight, the two of them had volunteered for service.
“According to our brethren, everywhere’s the same.”
“But Centralle’s a bit of an ominous one. Even if they sing their songs and gather customers around, it’s almost as if they can’t feel any spirit from them… and they don’t know the definition of liveliness. According to him, it’s as if the fire’s gone out. It was simply too ominous that he fled as soon as he could.”
Rauno put the gathered information in order.
“There will be nothing but complaints no matter what route they choose. The food shortages are terrible. There are too many places that won’t make it through the winter.”
As he worried, Rauno thought over something that would prove even more troubling than that.
(Even so, what reasons do the feudal lords I can’t think to have been charmed have to follow Bahnseim?)
There were territories that had been charmed and proclaimed they’d put up a do-or-die resistance. But on the other hands, there were plenty of territories with no relation to Celes at all that didn’t try going to Lyle’s side. He got the feeling it wasn’t out of a sense of justice, or because Lyle and Celes were from the same Walt House.
He addressed his men.
“To finish it off, we’ll be going to Dalien. The plans to meet up there.”
Seeing them nod, Rauno worried for the state of their final destination Dalien…
… Heading the transport unit, Clara’s eyebrows twitched as she watched the scene unfolding before her eyes.
Field potatoes gathered from North Beim were loaded and overflowing from the wooden crates in what clearly seemed like overkill. Brimming with vitality, they were a troublesome potato variant that would continue to multiply if you left them be.
In places that existed beyond human hands, they existed in too-large quantities. In managed places they were disposed of in moderation.
The reason you couldn’t get your hands on them in much of Bahnseim was because most of the area had been settled. Yet once the stocking of field potatoes had begun in North Beim, the city’s populace had found loads and brought them in.
A reaction fitting of the people of Beim, whose level of motivation completely changed when they knew money was involved.
And looking at the mountain of potatoes, Adele who had proclaimed she’d pay for them was making a pale face.
“… It’s true there’s been some confusion from last year, but for there to be so many… what should I do. Our funds are… we’ve secured food rations but our funds are…”
The one standing beside her was an individual who wasn’t supposed to be there by any means… Maksim.
“It’s alright, Adele-sama. This Maksim shall collect money from all those that wish to exchange it for food stock.”
Adele looked at Maksim.
“I’ll leave it to you Maksim. Otherwise it’ll hinder our plans.”
Clara looked at the two of them.
“I have no obligation to say it, but this is your parting before a great war, so could you stray from the topic of money? And this pile of field potatoes… even if you prepare them well, they’re still considerably terrible, right?”
Their hands gripping one another, Adele and Maksim turned to Clara.
“It’s the conclusion I thought up to resolve our food problems. We can use them to survive the winter, so isn’t it fine? A better alternative to dying of starvation.”
“That’s right, Clara-dono. A great achievement from Adele-sama.”
Clara raised her glasses a bit, letting the lenses catch the light.
“… The soldiers are becoming depressed, worrying over the notion that these may become their meals as well. You properly explained it right? It’s lowering our morale quite a bit.”
Adele’s expression stiffened with an, ‘Eh!?’ as she turned to Maksim with stiff movements. Maksim shook his head.
“We haven’t received any such orders. Rather, this is a problem of the army as a whole, so doesn’t it fall under Lyle-dono and Lianne-dono’s jurisdiction?”
Clara looked at Adele.
“I hear that Adele-san was taking responsibility of the field potato matter, and she was completely in charge of it. I was worried that no order came no matter how much time had passed… looked like you’ve done it.”
As Adele broke into a cold sweat, Clara smiled.
“That’s why they call you a downgraded Lianne.”
There, Adele yelled in her direction.
“You’re the only one who calls me that! You listening? I was busy with the management and revival of Beim here!”
Maksim came around to support her.
“That’s right! Adele-sama was busy!”
But Clara scoffed.
“Lianne-san was managing Rhuvenns as she looked over the whole. Well, do your best. And isn’t it about time you noticed the surrounding mood? When the decisive battle’s so close at hand, you’ve let this dubious air persist to this point… go get married or something already. Baldoir-san’s already settled with Alette-san, and they’ve held the ceremony already.”
Hearing that, Maksim began to fidget. Musing over how it wasn’t cute at all when a large man made such a gesture, Clara looked at Adele.
She was tilting her head.
“… Who’s marrying who?”
When she said such a thing, Maksim went down. Clara seemed taken aback as she approached Maksim.
“Do your best. I’m rooting for you. Also, Ludmilla-san is making arrangements to send you a bride. Keep on your toes.”
On the ground having crumbled at the knees Maksim spoke to Clara.
“… I-I’ll do my best.”