Knock and use the Front Door
“This is completely different from what you said!”
“How long do you mean to say this situation will go on!?”
“There are already numerous countries in no state to fight on. How exactly do you plan on breaking through this deadlock!?”
In a large tent prepared nearby the mobile fortress, the representatives of various countries gathered and denounced me under the pretense of giving advice.
Before the Bahnseim Kingdom that showed not the slightest signs of collapse, the alliance’s coordination was gradually beginning to decline.
For a mish-mashed group, they’d actually held up quite well. There’s also how they were underestimating Celes, so I was able to use these circumstances greatly to my advantage.
Ten days had passed since we began our attack on Centralle. Expending one another as we fought, it was blatantly visible that Celes, who held the power to manipulate the dead, held the advantage here.
There was no need to panic.
All eyes gathered on me. Among them were some brazenly pointing their fingers and raining down jeers.
“I’ve heard your army hasn’t put out many casualties, leader! It couldn’t be you’re merely looking on over our expenditure, could it!? And you plan to make off with all the good parts! As I thought, the Walt House, is the root of evil after all! Simply branching off to enemy and ally, you plague demons who dye this continent in blood!”
Thinking that was going to far, some did try to cut in, but I held up a hand to stop them.
In all truth, if you looked at it calmly, it was only natural that my casualty count was different from the other countries. We had prepared so long for this day. Our zeal was different than those countries who just tacked themselves on along the way.
Of course, it’s true I was looking on as they dulled their blades.
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear the latter part. Keep in mind there won’t be a next time. But before an enemy that continues welling up no matter how many we defeat, if we fight any longer, we will face defeat. Our troop morale is on a downward spiral.”
For the enemy soldiers who knew they’d die from the start, there’s no way they were thinking of what was to come. They simply charged and trampled their comrades, and killed the enemy before their eyes. It didn’t even seem as if they felt any pain.
From our allies’ point of view, they were fighting every day with such a scary foe before their eyes. Their stamina was one thing, but they were quite cornered psychologically.
I stood from the seat in which I sat.
“… The tool to destroy Centralle’s wall is complete. In order to overcome this deadlock, we will launch an attack on Centralle. But if you say we’re going off to take all the good parts, then I’ll just have to call it such. We will be charging on Centralle, so those who wish to join our offensive, name yourselves here.”
In the city of Centralle where they didn’t know how many more enemies lay, when I mentioned charging straight in, those around began to stir. But there was no one to give their name.
The king of Faunbeux raised his hand.
“… The Walls of Centralle are thick, and they boast a high resistance to magic. I can’t think you’ll be able to breach them so easily. What’s more, with the attacks we face every day, we’ve yet to install any decent furnishings onto them. You say breaching them is possible? I’ve sent around some hands to collect information myself, but not one of them has returned. And I doubt you’ll say something like blow it up from inside.”
Looks like he did have something going for him as king. Perhaps because the Seventh had put him through so much pain, it seems he thought I was to blow down the gate from within.
But this time I was going to use a frontal assault.
“No, we’re going in from the front. Because that’s what we’ve been preparing for.”
I looked to the back of the tent. And the tent’s insides grew noisy.
“It couldn’t be you plan to ram that into it?”
“No, it’s possible. Even if you can’t breach it, it will make for a foothold.”
Within that rowdy tent, I gave a light raise of my hand. Once things went quiet, I spoke.
“Tomorrow morning, my army will launch its attack. And opposing opinions? If you have an objection, you’ll have to provide an alternative.”
If you have something to say, then put out a better plan; that was enough to shut them up. In all actuality every force participating should have already sent people and Skillholders to infiltrate the other side. But seeing as they hadn’t gotten any results, it seems they were all hesitant.
In order to break through the present situation, my opinion was accepted and the meeting came to a close.
… May raced across the sky in her quilin form.
She flew through the airspace around Centralle…
“Ah~ how irritating!”
The one chasing after her at full speed was a black quilin. With a horn of deep red, she silently gave chase to May.
But she hadn’t taken a single breath. As if she were a child’s doll, that sort of quilin.
“Could you cut me some slack already?”
Dodging to the side, a line of light raced down where she had been. On the flash of lightning, May felt a slight numbness.
(She doesn’t get tired, and she can let off that much lightning…)
Both sides clad in electric discharge, they tried to pierce their horns into one another, letting sparks fly as the horns clashed.
Looking into the enemy quilin’s eyes, she found they were blood red. And there were no signs of life.
“… Can you understand my words?”
While she called out, the enemy quilin showed no reaction. But as she opened her mouth, her sinister, large fangs placed all over in absurd places caused even May to feel pity.
Whenever she tried to conduct recon on Centralle’s interior, the black quilin would get in her way. She had encountered her a number of times, and always took her on like this.
But no matter how many times she pierced the black quilin through, or how much lightning she rained down on her, her foe would revive in no time at all. If May lost a limb, it would grow back, but that would take some time.
“When I see one of my race in such a state, I do want to save them, but… I don’t have the time right now. So you’ll have to wait for next time.”
Parrying her foe’s absurd power, May sent the black quilin barreling towards the ground before running away from Centralle’s airspace.
The quilin, perhaps tasked with protecting Centralle from aerial attacks, didn’t give chase.
“… I couldn’t really do my job. My comrades aren’t gathering either. Hah, how should I explain this to Lyle.”
A disappointed May turned to look back a little further away. From there, she could see the black quilin gazing at her…
… Monica looked upon the walls of Centralle from the roof of the moving fortress.
As the zoom lenses in her red eyes moved, she could see the allied soldiers trying to climb over the walls.
Night. It seems they had aimed for the pitch black of the clouds covering the moon, but the soldiers on guard atop the ramparts weren’t moving at all.
While the infiltrating soldiers found it strange, they immediately leapt to action only to collapse on the spot.
Within the darkness of night, a red-haired man in a tailcoat stepped in to finish the soldiers off.
“… I had heard the enemy had an automaton as well, but looking at him like this…”
As Monica observed his movements, the tailcoated automaton swung his right hand. In an instant, Monica put her left hand in front of her face.
She caught the knife’s blade in the gap between her fingers, and putting strength into her fingertips, she shattered it.
As her gaze returned to the top of the ramparts, her foe was long gone.
“I had heard, but he’s a butler model? He just had to be from a different product line, did he… this is a bit troublesome.”
As she said that, Monica looked at the ground. She saw the broken fragments of knife, and produced some tools from between her apron and skirt to begin cleaning.
“For us to oppose one another in such a place… could this be yet another turn of fate?”
She spoke of some form of destiny. But Monica was Monica. An automaton so twisted that a missing screw in her head wasn’t enough to explain it.
“Maids and butlers… who is more worthy to be of service to our masters, why don’t we settle this here and now.”
It didn’t seem she had any particular grudge or destiny lay itself out before her…
Calling General Blois, Baldoir and Maksim-san to the moving fortress, I relayed the information I had heard from May.
Taking it in, Baldoir made a conflicted expression.
“Calling forth the divine beasts was what let us keep our advantage.”
Maksim felt the same.
“They helped us out with that monster army, but looks like it’s impossible this time. And I thought they’d help us out.”
General Blois looked at Maksim and sighed.
“You should think it a blessing they even lent their aid once. We’re the ones who are supposed to be winning here. What sort of debt are you trying to incur with the divine… But to speak to the contrary, we won’t have to mull over the other problems.”
May had gone around to call out to her fellow quilins and other divine beasts. But to speak to results, she couldn’t gain their cooperation. The reason being with so many soldiers gathered in Bahnseim, the casualties from monsters elsewhere had increased.
On top of that, the Labyrinths that would have originally been subjugated had been left for them to take care of.
There was a possibility the Labyrinths would run amok. But the divine beasts were looking after them for us.
“It seems their numbers went down considerably three hundred years ago. Well, if they’ll move to take care of the Labyrinths and monsters, it’s like they’re indirectly helping us regardless. Let’s just be thankful.”
But General Blois touched a hand to his chin.
“Still, a black quilin, is it? I’ve definitely heard the rumors, but if it’s even trouble going quilin to quilin, that really is scary. It won’t be a joke if it drops lightning on us from above.”
The black quilin could swoop down on us from above. I wanted to avoid that.
“May and Marina will deal with it for us. And it seems an automaton has been confirmed on the inside as well. It seems Monica will deal with that one, so I think I’ll leave it to her. Honestly, the automatons connected to me by line regenerate with my mana, so it’s real trouble for me.”
The Valkyries couldn’t regenerate, but Monica could. We’d already confirmed it. Even if she couldn’t defeat the automaton, I wanted her to buy time while we fought with Celes.
Baldoir shrugged his shoulders.
“A butler model, was it? I truly do wonder why her rivalry burns so. When it comes to butlers, they’re just the ones who look after mansions, aren’t they? They’re something like a maid’s superior.”
Maksim-san looked fed up.
“We can’t try to understand the common sense of those automatons and ancients. They conduct themselves as if it’s all normal, so shall we not just accept it as so? But are we really ramming this thing into it?”
Maksim-san looked at the floor as he said it.
The moving fortress. It had originally been prepared for this moment. Its fortress functionality and workshop were just the overdoings Damien and the others tacked onto it.
General Blois sounded intrigued.
“If we can clean up our financial problems with this, I’m sure the war will change. Though I feel it will take a few hundred years before it can be put to practical use.”
Magic Stone consumption. On top of that, what the moving fortress used was rare metal. Its maintenance took time and effort as well. Even when it wasn’t moving, it needed maintenance.
“… It definitely is effective in war, but I don’t think I’ll be using it again. More importantly, General Blois”
“I know. If there’s any army that shows any strange movements, I’ll deal with it. Though I do hope it doesn’t come to that.”
We would be sending only a few elites into Centralle’s royal palace. The rest would have the duty of making sure the enemy soldiers sprawled over the city couldn’t make their way to the palace. At the same time, they would keep watch to make sure there weren’t any other armies aiming to profit off our work.
“The question’s how far the moving fortress will be able to advance. I’ll at least want to breach the ramparts by all means.”
As General Blois said that, Baldoir, Maksim-san and I nodded. There, Vera came into the room.
“It’s time. Your equipment’s ready, right?”
Four men nodded, so Vera spoke.
“That’s good. Professor Damien and Old Letarta are ready as well. And since it seems you’re worried whether or not you’ll get through the walls, I’ll just say it… we’ll definitely deliver you all the way to the palace, so just make sure to do your own jobs properly!”
Seeing Vera full of confidence, I thought over how she must have overheard my worries, and felt embarrassed. That’s right, I had left everything about the fortress to Vera.
“That’s right, we just have to do our jobs. Now then, I guess I’ll go and board Porter as well.”
When I said that, Baldoir looked at me.
“Lyle-sama, if your feelings aren’t going to change, then I have nothing left to say. But victory is only something attained by surviving through it. Taking one another out is the same as defeat.”
His serious eyes. What’s more, General Blois and Maksim-san looked just as despondent.
“Well, if you die here, all the plans will go awry. Personally, I’d really like to avoid warring states.”
“Same here. Same here. When I’ve finally gotten a new lord, I’d like to live peacefully under him a while.”
I looked at the three and smiled.
“I don’t know when to give up, so you’ve no need for worry. It’s the bad boys that change the world you know.”
Vera laughed some to herself.
“Now let’s go.”
… The command room of the moving fortress.
In a room where nets of iron coated the windows, everyone wore thick clothing. Vera turned to her subordinates, the sailors and captain.
“Now here’s our big job. We’re going to charge this thing straight into Centralle. How’s the motion engine’s condition?”
A sailor confirmed it and responded in a loud voice.
“Optimal condition. If we don’t start moving soon, the heat’s going to melt it, or so they’ve started to complain.”
“Everyone’s properly wearing their seat belts, right?”
The captain nodded.
“Milady, when you’re giving out orders, make sure you don’t bite your tongue. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
Belts and handrails for the impact was something Monica and the automatons proposed, while Damien and Letarta implemented. The moving fortress that was made with a premise as absurd as assault had been drafted up from day one to fulfill its role.
Vera took a deep breath.
“… Alright! Charge! Blow away those walls of Centralle!”
“You heard her, men! Let your guard down because we’re on land, and you won’t get of lightly! Show them the backbone of we men of the sea!”
The voices of men resounded through the room as the mobile fortress took a large lurch. The stakes that fastened it to the ground were removed, and it began to move.
Damien who sat in a chair with a seatbelt removed his glasses and handed them to an automaton nearby.
“By the calculations, it should be able to break through.”
Sitting to his side, old Letarta’s eyes were sparkling.
“We’ll use it to destroy the ramparts and breach. When I first heard it, I thought it idiotic, but when I really got into it, ‘twas a blast.”
Both Damien and Letarta were truly having fun. The outside scenery gradually began to gain speed in its flow, indicating the fortress’ acceleration.
Vera’s large voice rang out.
“Hurry the preparations on the pile bunker!”
There, the moving fortress’ chimney-like stack fell over. The large pipe falling to a horizontal, and lining it up and down were cylinders smaller than the central one.
“Concentrated fire from the enemy!”
By the fortress’ movements, magic fire was concentrated onto it. The fortress shook. While it had the minimum necessary magic shield up, the impacts still weakened its forward momentum.
“We knew that would happen from the start! Get back at them!”
The fortress’ cannon’s blew fire straight at the walls. The distance had lessened, and breaching enemy shields, cannon shells struck the ramparts one after the next. But while they were able to spread cracks, they could never break.
“We’re going to collide!”
On the sailor’s voice, everyone braced themselves. This impact had been the premise, and there were a number of contraptions to brace them for the shock, but it’s not as if the entire impact would be absorbed. As an intense tremor rung through, Vera cried out.
“Ignite the cannons!”
The captain cried, ‘Hurry and light it!’ while one of the sailors gripped a lever, and removed the safety clasp preventing its use. Then with all his power, he lowered the lever.
The stock of cannons loaded onto the fortress’ rear blew off their lids and breathed fire. Their momentum was a fearsome one, and alongside a pale light, the surrounding scenery began to warp in the heat. On the front of the fortress was a large wedge-like steel plate, and that ate into the city wall. From there, the cracks gradually began to grow.
Vera grasped the handrail, smiling as she watched the scene before her eyes.
“We’ve launched out attack. All that’s left… is to break through!”
At the sailors’ commands, the cylinders that lined the large smokestack shot out stakes. Once they fastened into the ramparts, the moving fortress shook.
“Remove the tools locking it in place! Prepare for impact! Don’t let your guard down even if we’re inside! Cover your ears and open your mouths!”
On the captain’s voice, Vera covered her ears and opened her mouth. At that moment, a grand explosion rung from the large cylinder, and from it a stake was fired.
That special stake pierced through the wall into the city of Centralle, while the cylinder itself was shot backwards.
(My ears… I’m never using one of those again.)
A large hole had been made in the wall, and from there it began to crumble. And with the fortress that continued to accelerate from the flames blowing out of its rear…
“Blow it straight away!”
As Vera called out, the moving fortress destroyed the ramparts of Centralle, and infiltrated.
With cracks made by the cannons, force digging into it, alongside an instant burst of power, the fortress had gotten into Centralle.
Centralle’s soldiers who had witnessed such a sight showed no signs of panic. They weren’t dumbfounded either. But in an attempt to do something, they tried attacking the heaping hunk of iron, only to be trampled down.
“Which way’s the palace!?”
The captain spoke to Vera.
“Our direction’s been offset. For now, we need to get them somewhere close…”
“Do whatever you can to crash this thing into the palace! If we don’t our force will put us off by a long shot!”
The sailors controlling the accelerating mobile fortress turned the helm to regulate its direction. Taking a large curve, its mass plowed through Centralle’s city scape as it proceeded onwards.
The window of the control room was hit by building rubble and cloths and even abandoned stuffed animals making it difficult to see ahead.
But shaving away the ground beneath it, the fortress continued its charge straight for royal palace. A number of its tires were blown off, and its momentum was dropping by the second. The cannons fell, and the armor stripped, ragged as it grew it made for the palace.
“You think it’ll hold up to the end?”
Old Letarta laughed.
“It’ll hold! I mean, I’m the one who made it, and these guys are the ones moving it!”
Within the fortress, feeling the ominous tremors and the floor bending beneath her, Vera looked straight ahead. While its foundation creaked, it continued its advance.
Behind it, the large-scale Porters carried soldiers and followed behind.
“It’s right in front of us! Milady, we’ve done it!”
As the captain cried out, Vera ordered everyone to prepare for impact. And within her part.
(I properly delivered you there, Lyle!)
The fortress hit the outer wall of the palace, and came to a stop…
Inside Porter’s loading tray.
With my body fastened down, I confirmed that Vera had collided the moving fortress into the palace as promised. Gripping the Jewel, I spoke to Clara.
Clara answered from Porter’s cockpit.
“Yes, I’ll blow off our cover.”
The metal cover was covered with rubble and rubbish. Porter raised its front portion and used its arms to brush it all off.
I took in the outside scenery. Whatever Clara could see was shared by all those who rode in the loading tray.
Ludmilla seemed mindful of her lips.
“It doesn’t quite feel like we survived that. But the results are some I can’t complain about.”
Covering her mouth with both hands, Shannon was making a pale face. Elza sitting beside her sent over a worried voice.
“I-I feel sick. And I’m already at my limit. I can’t go on.”
“S-Shannon, we haven’t done anything yet.”
Looking over the surrounding scene, Clara manipulated Porter. In Porter’s chest- where its heart would be, was a device that used a valuable Mana-imbued gemstone. Clara who could control it was really our saving grace.
As Porter accelerated violently, it took a large leap from the fortress into the palace’s interior.
“Lyle-san, the knights have come out. It seems there are some monsters among them.”
Watching the scenery Clara took in, I issued orders.
“Blow them away.”
The speeding Porter extended both its arms to brush away the knights and former-human monsters. I visualized the map of the palace and probed around for Celes’ signal.
Miranda muttered out the location.
“… The audience chamber. Can this child even climb stairs?”
There, Monica spoke with a fearless smile.
“Hmph, there is nothing impossible for Porter, the crystallization of me and that chicken dickwad’s love. The power of the peridot I pinched… received from him is roaring!”
It was certainly as she said. Scattering the enemies before us, Porter forcefully climbed the stairs on a straight path for the throne room.
“When I couldn’t find them no matter how hard I searched… what did you use them for this time?”
“Hold it right there. It isn’t me. Those degraded defect Units One, Two, and Three said Magic Stones wouldn’t produce enough energy, so they were just right!”
It does seem the Valkyries had stolen what was left of my valuable magic ore. As I thought over how I’d scold them later, Monica unfastened her seatbelt.
With a serious face.
“… Is seems my opponent has arrived.”
Right after, Clara crossed Porter’s arms to take a defensive stance. As an impact raced across the golem, an automaton in a tailcoat appeared before our eyes.
“I’d prefer you refrained from going any further. Going any further in that device of scraped up scraps I can’t discern an armored vehicle or mobile weapon is too great a discourtesy.”
With a straight face, Monica leapt from the loading tray and stood before the automaton. With beautiful form, she offered her foe a curtsy.
“It’s laughable for a damn piece of scrap who cannot understand the lovableness in this crude design to speak of discourtesy. Are you a butler-model automaton? Once is enough, I always wanted to beat the crap out of one of you lot.”
Monnica reached into the gap between her skirt and apron, producing a large hammer and a device with a drill from within.
Her foe took a bow brimming with etiquette.
“I always hated the fakes from that country who could never do more than imitate. Very well. I shall scrap you here and show you our difference in specs and class.”
I popped my head out of the loading tray’s roof.
“… Go on. I’m sure my sisters will meet up with me later, so go ahead and leave this to m… What!? Who would have thought I’d be able to say one of the lines I always wanted to say here!”
Ah, so she was the same Monica after all.
“… You better come later.”
Turning to me, Monica smiled.
“Yes, I’ll definitely follow later. For my default position is by a damn chicken’s side.”
Saying that, she turned to face the enemy automaton.