Standing at a high point of the fort, Rudel saw Sakuya off to the horizon.
Slicing up an ogre climbing up the wall towards him, he muttered.
“Live on, Chlust.”
Sakuya was loaded with the knights and soldiers of the fort, alongside the civilians that had taken refuge.
They were reluctant to leave Rudel’s side. But he forcefully used Sakuya to get them away.
Thanks to that, the fort was in the process of being destroyed. Monster scrambled up the outer wall, while wyverns circled the sky above.
As three wyverns headed for Sakuya, Rudel took a deep lurch forward followed by a large jump. Soaring into the sky, Rudel reached his left hand out towards the wyverns.
“How cold. Your opponent’s right over here… if you get that, have at me!”
Rudel emitted a number of lights around, he formed them into the shape of swords. Those swords of light with a golden glimmer began to spin on the spot.
Looking over his surroundings, Rudel sent his swords flying in all directions. To the wyverns chasing Sakuya, to the wyverns circling in the sky. To the monsters and the imperial army on land.
With a sword flying their way, the wyverns changed direction to avoid it.
“Oh no, you don’t.”
When Rudel clenched his left hand, the fired sword pursued its target and stuck in. Where it impaled, it exploded, and in the sky and on land, explosions rung out in all directions.
Falling towards the ground, Rudel avoided wyvern breath, and magic and arrows as he landed outside the grounds of the fort.
Around him, ogres taller than he could ever hope to be were armed at the ready. An imperial knight who looked to be a commanding officer directed their right hand at Rudel.
“Fool! When dragged to the earth, a dragoon is no more than an ordinary knight! Surround him and beat him down!”
When the commander said that, the monsters assailed Rudel at once.
Readying his blade, and flowing mana into it, Rudel swung his sword one revolution.
The surrounding ogres were blown back and bisected.
Holding swords of their own, the monsters who knew no fear—no, the monsters who would simply follow orders came at Rudel one after another.
Each and every one of them was laid to rest by the sword in Rudel’s right hand.
“Your words do me ill. Well, it’s true a dragoon is incomplete without his partner by his side.”
As Rudel said that with a smile, the enemy commander hopped on a horse and fled.
“Keep going at him! We have to bring him down while his dragon isn’t here!”
The fact the dragon protecting the fort- Sakuya- had left made the enemy lower their guard.
They had never even imagined Rudel would remain alone.
Rudel laughed before the foes approaching him from all sides.
“Sorry, but I don’t plan on letting the commanders get away.”
He said, disappearing from the spot with his wind magic-based movement. The surrounding monsters were carved up in an instant.
A spurt of blood whirling up in the air, at times the monsters lifted along with it.
The commander raised a scream.
“What is this? What the hell are you!!?”
The monsters were simply bodies to enact orders. In that case, targeting enemy commanders and having them target monsters on him was the simplest means to keep them here.
The commander exclaimed aloud at this strength exceeding his expectations. Right after, his body was split open by Rudel’s hand.
At the Gaia Empire’s main camp, Askewell confirmed the war situation with his adjutants.
His arms folded, Askewell gave a dry laugh.
“Hmm, so he persists even without his dragon. He used that fortress as a decoy to invite the enemy in… looks like things aren’t going my way.”
One of his adjutants, Mies offered Askewell some advice.
“Bahn Rhoshwas and Leor have already taken up their positions… should we call the back?”
Hearing those names, Askewell thought just a bit, before, “No, it’s fine,” he said and stood from his seat.
“He’s just as the rumors say… no, he goes beyond that. Courtois’ white knight. But how far can he go both outnumbered and overwhelmed?”
One of his adjutants shed a cold sweat.
“I can’t think he’s human like me. For the monster army we worked so hard to assemble to be lost this easily… Askewell-sama, should we not implore General Rhoshwas or Leor-dono to defeat the White Knight in good time?”
Askewell’s expression turned serious.
“That is unnecessary. We had far too many monsters—the plan was to reduce their numbers. These losses are all within expectations.”
Mies gave a slight nod to Askewell’s words.
(Right. Within expectations. Whatever the case, it’s impossible for the empire to maintain these numbers. If they’re not crushed here, even if we obtain fertile soil, it will be meaningless.)
Maintaining this massive monster legion was an exceedingly large burden on the empire. They were an army assembled to be crushed from the get-go. If they weren’t human, it wouldn’t hurt anyone’s heart.
(… But that white knight’s doing a good job holding out.)
While it was within expectations, these losses were far too great to come from a single combatant. They had gone down considerably in only a few days.
“No matter the damages, our main body’s losses are insignificant. There is no problem.”
At Askewell’s words, the adjutants nodded.
Right. Their main body of humans kept behind the monster legions.
What’s more, it was an army that had suffered very little loss.
Askewell touched a hand to his chin.
“But it might just be time for Courtois’ reinforcements to arrive. It wouldn’t be bad to take the white knight’s head before that.”
Mies tilted her head.
“Did we not have a deal with Courtois?”
“If those things held up, we’d have world peace. Well, if they don’t come, then that’s no problem for us… keep sending monsters at him for a while. After that—I’ll personally take his head.”
A warrior of the Gaia Empire and their hero, while the adjutants had some problems with Askewell’s words, they agreed to them.
(Well, I guess there’s no way Askewell-sama will lose. Even with the white knight as his foe, he need simply tire him to the limit. It’ll also raise morale.)
Just how many hundred, nay, how many thousands of monsters had he butchered?
Their movements were far too simple, too linear. When they all came at him, they were quicker to take down than when they targeted other people or the fort itself.
Rudel breathed roughly as he stuck the sword in his right hand into the ground, surveying his surroundings.
Monster corpses spread over and narrowed the ground, there were places where the bodies piled up. Trampling over those corpses more monsters came at him still.
His shoulders rising in breath, Rudel looked at the sky.
Hefty clouds interrupted the sun, and he had no idea what time it might be.
“.. Looks like rain.”
To receive the monsters coming at him, he forcibly stood his body and drew his sword from the ground.
“A dragoon with no partner is just a knight… huh.”
Recalling the enemy commander’s words, Rudel gave a self-deriding laugh. That was definitely no mistake.
He would have liked to fight with Sakuya.
But if the fort’s knights and soldiers, and the evacuated civilians remained, he wouldn’t be able to fight to the best of his abilities.
Perhaps he could have managed if he abandoned them… but if he did that, Rudel knew he would never be able to look everyone who saved him in the eye.
Moving his dulling body, he cut through enemies as he walked.
His movements without any unnecessary power, at this point, it was almost that the movements drilled into his body were arbitrarily coming out.
Without any waste, he slowly walked forward as he carved up his foes.
The commanders issuing orders to the monsters from behind fearfully looked at Rudel.
“There’s no way.”
“Just one person… the dragoons really are monsters.”
Hearing that, Rudel made a smile.
Seeing him laugh, the Gaia Empire Soldiers fears worsened.
“What’s wrong… quit cowering and come at me. Did you not come here for war? I’m sorry I’m on my own, but I, Rudel Arses shall be your enemy. I don’t intend to let a single one of you pass.”
On those words, the imperial knights driven by hears raised their warcries. In voices similar to shrieks, they ordered the monsters to charge.
“Kill that man. You have to kill him!”
“Are the reinforcements here yet!?”
The number of enemies had decreased greatly from the onset.
An army that buried the entire landscape was now scarce and divided. It had decreased in density… that was simply the amount that Rudel had slain.
(Hopefully one last push.)
Forcing his body already a pain just to move, Rudel poised his sword and cut down all the monsters coming at him.
His form, despite the white armor he war was beginning to look like something else entirely.
The form of him gleefully defeating his foes had even brought upon knights fleeing from the battlefield.
It came at that moment—
“Any more will affect morale. Looks like I can’t overlook him any longer.”
A voice with a sense of presence boomed across the battlefield. Hearing that strong and reassuring voice, the cowering knights regained composure.
When Rudel looked in the direction of the voice, there was the disheartening sight of an enemy leading a host of troops. The numbers he had gone to great lengths reducing were back to their original value.
The enemy looked at the ground, and he turned his gaze to Rudel.
“You’ve done well, to defeat so many. Allow me to give you my honest praise, white knight.”
Rudel leaned his sword on his shoulder.
“Call me dragoon, or White Dragoon. It’s a name a dear friend granted me. I’ve quite a liking for it.”
His gold hair swept back, the tall man in armor looked a little surprised before he gave a grand laugh.
“White Dragoon! I see, a white knight and a dragoon makes a White Dragoon. Makes perfect sense to me.”
A laughing enemy commander—
(His air’s different from the others. Is he a general?)
As Rudel raised his guard, his foe introduced himself.
“My name is Askewell Gaia, and I am in command of this army. White Dragoon… as I recall, you were called Rudel Arses, were you? I shall display your head to the armies of Courtois soon to arrive.”
When his smile went out, Askkewell’s face was expressionless. Cold to no end, it spoke that he had no mercy to spare for Rudel.
On the contrary, Rudel laughed.
“And what of it? For two enemies, such is only natural. Of course, I do think a certain level of respect is required for an honorable warrior. I can’t say I like your means.”
Showing off enemy corpses wasn’t quite to Rudel’s liking.
Of course, he knew that was effective. In the sense of weakening an enemy’s fighting spirit, it was the proper action.
“… Honorable warriors, eh. On the battlefield, such nobility is meaningless.”
Rudel agreed with that point as well.
“You’re right. So I don’t plan to correct you. Once you take this head, you may do what you want with it. If you can, that is.”
To Rudel’s provocations, Askewell assumed they were his final show of courage; he didn’t seem all too moved.
“So you know no fear. What brute courage.”
“Brute courage? If I’m brute courage, then you are just a brute. Neither shame nor honor. A monster in human form.”
With a legion of monsters as the vanguard, they would go on a rampage on Courtois’ territory.
Perhaps he had something to think about Askewell’s means to lower their population, even using monsters as tools.
“… I’m sure you will never understand in your prosperity. Just how the empire pains, and how it hungers.”
Rudel had an inkling Askewell was trying to do something about the Empire’s present state of affairs. The reason they aimed for the Courtois Kingdom was that unlike the empire, the kingdom’s territory was abundant in fertile soil.
If they were living so destitute, with prosperous land nearby, of course they would want it.
“No matter how you despise me. No matter how you scorn me, there is something I must—”
Once Askewell had said that much, Rudel lowered his sword from his shoulders.
He stuck his glare on Askewell—the army behind him.
“Quit your yapping. You came to invade, didn’t you? Saying there’s something you have to do now, do you plan to go into penance? Are you trying to tell me, there’s this great reason you’re invading us so please forgive you?”
While Rudel’s words invoked anger from the imperial army—
“At the point you crossed the border, the war had begun. Cry your heart out in diplomacy if you want our sympathy… but this is already a battlefield. It is only good manners for us to speak life and death with the weapons in our hands. Now… shall we kill one another?”
— At a smiling Rudel’s atmosphere, everyone swallowed their breath.
Almost a vengeful spirit or a demon… no, he gave the air of a demon king.
Bennet boarded Izumi, Aleist and his harem members on the back of her own dragon Heleene, setting out for the battlefield.
“We’re almost there. But to be honest, with these numbers, you can’t quite call us reinforcements.”
While she was a dragoon who protected Courtois, one rider and ten-odd ground combatants were cause for unease.
Izumi cast down a pensive countenance.
“… Even so, if we make it, we may be of the slightest assistance.”
“Well, the situation is considerably terrible, but I’m sure Captain Oldart will send reinforcements. And if the Archduke Houses are moving, as long as we can hold out—”
Aleist’s cry cut her off.
Ahead of them, a giant, white dragon—Sakuya flew with a large load of people on to her back.
Surely Rudel was with her. She knew it had to be true, but Sakuya was acting strangely. Bennet looked at the people riding Sakuya’s back—
(Apart from knights and soldiers, civilians too? Don’t tell me they were late to get away?)
There, Sakuya mournfully roared. Hearing her voice, Izumi covered her mouth with both hands.
“That can’t be…”
“W-what’s wrong? You can hear her, right? What happened!?”
Dragons could communicate telepathically with those they had conceded their hearts to. For that reason, there was a high probability Izumi could hear Sakuya’s voice.
Meaning it was possible for her to learn what was going on at the border.
Bennet heard Sakuya’s tale through way of Heleene.
‘This is bad. Looks like that Rudel remained at the fort alone. He had Sakuya carry those late to flee to get them to safety.’
Bennet’s expression warped.
But to Rudel who couldn’t run away, this was surely the only way to let the others survive.
“There should have been a smarter way to do it.”
Bennet muttered, and inferring from those words and the situation, Aleist’s complexion turned pale.